JMT – Day 7 – From Onion valley campground to Flower Lake… Did I just get scammed?

Aug 1.

Woke up in the king-size motel bed around 6am. Enjoyed the WiFi, turned around and tried to sleep more. Could not make up my mind if I should stay another night in Bishop to make it a full zero miles day.

With the thought of hot coffee waiting in the motel reception, I finally got up and started packing the bear canister with 8 days food. It fit surprisingly well.
It will be enough food to make it the about 100 miles to Vermillion Valley resort with the potential to get food two days before from the famous hiker boxes at Muir Trail ranch. And I must admit – the hiker hunger has not started yet, having hiked only for 6 days so far. They say it takes 2-3 weeks until you get really hungry due to the calories you burn every day hiking.
I completed my backpack with 2 liters water with the expected heat while climbing Kearsage pass. With all gear, the full bear can and the water the pack didn’t feel as heavy as I was expecting. I think that was the moment that I decided to hit the trail today. Why hang out another day in Bishop? I am not really exhausted to need recovery, not really hungry (only had breakfast in town yesterday, had skipped lunch and dinner), and I had done laundry, showers twice… πŸ˜‚

With the decision taken, I decided for the ESTA bus at 1.15pm to Independence.

I had a couple of hours to kill working on my blog, first in the motel reception with a very simple breakfast but acceptable coffee and wifi speed, later at Starbucks with better coffee and internet speed. πŸ˜‚
Bought some last minute items at VONS and enjoyed the bus ride.

It got scary when I tried to get a hitch from Independence to the trail head at Onion Valley campground.

I was standing at the corner for maybe 10 minutes when a battered black Mercedes SUV stopped. Two middle aged occupants, a guy driving as well as a woman, both with sun glasses. I asked whether they could take me to the campground – he said yes he drives that way, she said they will need gas money though. I offered 10 bucks, they said hop in. When they started driving she wondered if they have enough gas to make it there. He asked how far it was. I should probably have left the car latest that moment. He had said he was going there, now he turned out he had never been there. They were obviously trying to make money. I would have been fine with paying for the ride… But it got more spooky…
As we drove up the mountain, we did some chitchat, I told them about the trail. He started to get weird when he said he had heard that there were chapels along the trail. We exchanged names. When they asked whether I hike all by myself, I started bending the facts by saying that my hiking buddies are actually waiting up for me at the trail head. I didn’t really feel safe anymore. I had my hiking poles with me, sitting alone on the backseat with my pack.
About half way up the mountain, the car started stuttering. He cursed, called out that he was running out of fuel and swerved to one side, trying to u-turn the car. I decided to try my luck better out there in the heat in nowhere instead of staying with these two rolling down the mountain in a car without gas. I insisted on getting out right here, offering the full ten bucks. That probably got them… I opened the door, quickly got out my gear and myself. Feeling more safe outside, I checked for the money. Of course I only had a 20 dollar bill. She claimed they have no money whatsoever, that’s why they needed the gas money in the first place. I gave them the 20, they took off. I was glad. The 20 bucks will be a teaching for me to be more careful into which car I get. I guess I just got scammed? I don’t know.
It was the first hitch I ever had where I didn’t feel safe.
I was out there in nowhere, but it was the Onion valley campground road, so I was expecting traffic.I had plenty of water. A couple of minutes later Matthew from the Sierra transit shuttle stopped his mini van and took me up the mountain.

That adrenaline from this hitchhiking experience actually kept me pushing up the pass later way faster than I could have imagined.
I think I arrived around 4pm at Flower Lake where I had intended to camp. I wanted to keep pushing up the mountain… But when saw the nice German couple I had met the day before at the same campground, I decided to call it a day and relax to forget that experience.We had a very nice conversation about everything – about hiking, travel, ways of living and even politics. I hope we will stay in touch.
An exciting day came to an end. I was looking forward to the peaceful trail tomorrow.

JMT – Day 6 – From Flower lake to Onion valley campground and Bishop

Jul 31.

Anticipating breakfast in town, I got up quickly, packed my gear and left without breakfast towards Onion Valley campground.

On my way down, I met another acquaintance from my first JMT hike in 2016: Strider, the former owner of the Mt Williamson motel in Independence came walking up the trail with her dog Indy. I wasn’t 100 percent sure so I asked – and was rewarded with a hug. Strider kindly offered me a ride down to Independence if I should be waiting for a hitch when she returns from her morning walk.

I really start feeling at home with running into acquaintances again and again… 😊

Down at the campground, I met the German couple again from last night’s nice chat. We were discussing hitchhiking options when I was approached by other hikers. Some offered energy bars from their too big resupply which I happily accepted.

But it got even better: Other hikers gave me a complete resupply with 10+ mountain houses! Their hiking buddy was not able to join the hike!

So I was standing there holding a full box of resupply, still impressed about the kindness of the hikers.

The German couple was offered a ride down to Independence by a couple of older ladies with their Sprinter van – I was invited to join. I was really lucky today.

Down in Indepence, I got a coke at he gas station preparing for a longer wait for a hitch North to Bishop. I could not even finish my coke when a big 40ton truck stopped. Herman from Costa Rica gave me a ride to Bishop. Such a nice guy. We shared stories about travel, he told entertaining stories about his wild youth, later we talked politics. The 50 miles ride to Bishop was so entertaining… Thank you so much Herman!

So I really made it to Jack’s in Bishop before 10am! 😁

Next stop was Eastside Sports in Bishop. Highly recommendable outfitter! They had replaced my hiking pole tips when I came through during my PCT hike in 2018 just as a courtesy – and my tips were due for replacement again. I had a nice chat with the staff, paid my 7 USD for the new tips and left the poles with them for replacement.
I checked into a motel and reviewed the resupply that I had been given at the campground.

I noted one I still needed and went shopping to VONS.

Coming back with food and some beers, I shared beers with the motel neighbors.

Enjoyed the internet, did some blogging while snacking… And enjoyed a night in a bed.

JMT – Day 3 – Summiting Mt Whitney and back to Crabtree Meadows, mile 767

July 28.

Getting up at 6am.

When I prepared my daypack to climb Mt Whitney I felt so smart. I would leave all my other gear behind in my tent – additional clothes, sleeping bag, the bear can away from the tent… And then I realized I need my hiking poles that also hold up my tent! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜œ Stupid me! πŸ˜‚ So I broke down the tent, packed all gear in my back pack and hid it behind some rocks. Leaving camp at 645am – still not sure how far I will get. Most hikers had either left at night time for sunrise or at least earlier than me. I started with one Ibuprofen, had a nagging headache.

Short break in the beginning of the switch backs. 745am at 12500 feet. So I still did 1000 feet in one hour. Wonder how I will feel when the ibuprofen wears out…

845am at the Whitney Portal trail crossing at 13360feet. Looks good, feeling ok.

945am resting at 13825. Much slower altitude gain, but still feeling pretty good. 0.8 miles and about 500 feet to go.

Made it to the summit at 1015am. 😁

I was sitting there for a while, quietly enjoying the moment – it took actually a while to realize. I had been touched when I summited Mt Whitney the second time in 2018. This time, I started crying when I was starting to go down and away from the crowd at the summit. It might not be such a big thing to climb this mountain with relatively easy approach. But still – these 14505feet / 4400m mean a lot to me, especially coming back the third time.

Back at Guitar lake at 1.45pm. Redid my pack, started walking 2pm.

Pitched my tent at 4pm at a site close to Crabtree Meadows. Its less than a mile back to PCT from here.

Whitney summiting from Guitar lake 9miles plus 3.5 back from Guitar lake. 12.5 miles today.

Napping in the tent, a bit separated from the rest. Around 6pm it started to get colder. Even though I am not that hungry, I pushed myself to get out and cook. Fell asleep happy and exhausted at 7pm.