After climbing Mount Whitney we were pretty tired the next day. When we finally did wake up, pack up and head down to the river to get water for the day we saw our friend So Way and his girl Alison. The two of them know how to enjoy the trail and take it easy so we spent the morning just hanging out with them. We all got to talking about one of the most important conversations on the trail, what do you eat. We told them about our package with our cook pot not arriving back in Tehachapi and that we were getting so tired of the ‘no-cook’ diet. Buddy didn’t seem to mind eating bars, chocolate, peanut butter and trail mix all the time but I was starving. In our resupply box in Kennedy Meadows we had some food that needed to be cooked that we brought along to make with cold water but there are only just so many times you can eat cold rammen before that no longer seems like a better option than a Cliff Bar. So Way had an extra pot and told us to take it, use it and leave it in a bear box up ahead for them to retrieve the next day. I was so excited, the thought of hot mashed potatoes got me up and on my way and almost running down the trail to the next spot we agreed to stop for lunch.
When we arrived at the campground we saw our dear friend Tumbleweed setting up her tent. We have been randomly running into her since Scissors Crossing at mile 77 as people often do on the trail. We will go two weeks without a Tumbleweed sighting and then bam there she is sitting on the side of the trail in the Sierra, always with a huge smile on her face and a warm greeting for our crew. She is just one of those people who have fantastic energy and positive vibes that set you in a better mindset for the rest of your day, we just love her. We ended up spending two hours at the camp ground with her cooking everything we had that needed hot water. For the first time since we left Kennedy Meadows I felt full and it was so excellent. This gave us the boost we needed to continue on and get some miles in that day although we planned to take it super easy that day. We were at the last campsite before the 5 miles up and over Forester Pass when we were stopped by an older gentleman in pristine camp clothing asking where we were headed. It was just shy of 5pm and we told him we intended to climb over the pass and stay at the first campground 2 miles down the other side. He was flabbergasted at the idea of us going and took out all these maps to show us the elevation and pretty much pleaded with us to wait till the morning. Dion and I looked at each other and thought, well maybe this guy knows something we don’t about the next area and maybe he’s right and we should wait till morning.
We use Guthook’s app for navigation and it has never steered us wrong before, we saw the climb and the elevation it was but it didn’t look like something we couldn’t handle. Choosing to listen to this man and heed the warnings of possible snow over Buddy’s head that couldn’t be navigated at dark we decided to set up camp and just stay. The next morning we hiked with ease up over Forester Pass very quickly and were pretty bummed when we got to the top that we didn’t just come up the night before. Every night was another morning not spent in town and like I said before, our food situation was pretty dismal for me. The hike up Forester was nice, nothing too notable but coming back down the other side was like walking through a hikers paradise. The first mile down was fun walking in peoples footprints where they had post holed through the last bit of snow that remained on the trail. After that there were little streams and river crossings every quarter of a mile, beautiful flowers with the most intense fragrance I’ve ever smelled. We have arrived, welcome to the Sierra. It’s more beautiful that I imagined and we just love it.
We hiked over Forester Pass, down through the valley and then one hellish mile straight up to the Kearsarge Pass trail that would take us down to town. I forgot for a minute that with water usually comes mosquitoes. This last mile up to the Pass side trail was brutal, we were an all you can eat buffet for the mosquitos and it was a straight up row of about 20 switchbacks that were less than enjoyable. We were all really excited to get to the side trail, although it was still another 7.5 miles until we reached the campground we heard there was trail magic down there and this gave us the extra motivational push to make it. As far as side trails go – this one is the worst we’ve seen so far. The trail itself is fine but it’s a steep three mile climb to get up to the pass and then 76 switch backs over 4.5 miles to get to the bottom. (Yes, we counted all the switchbacks coming down – it helps pass the time and Buddy loved it!)
When we saw the glowing light of camp fires in the night this helped get us through the last mile and down to the trail angels who were doing amazing trail magic for hikers. We arrived just as they were about to head into their tents but before they did they made us sandwiches, gave us fresh fruit and a big bowl of chips. I literally shed a tear of joy in tent over the amazing food. The next morning they made apple walnut pancakes and coffee before driving us 11 miles down into Independence. Trail magic is truly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced in my life, that so many people so selflessly do this is just incredible.
We caught a ride from the tiny town of Independence down to Bishop and were lucky that someone we met online was available to host us stinky hikers in need of some time off. Dion and I both got new pars of Solomans at Kennedy Meadows and they were tearing our feet apart. When we first arrived we both had torn up the back of our feet and the sides of our feet so bad we honestly wouldn’t have made it another day on the trail, we would have had to take a day or two off on trail to let our feet heal. We are SO thankful to Karen and her husband Howie who own http://www.sagetosummit.com for letting us stay with them while we are in town. Sage to Summit is a hiking, running and backpacking store in town who specialize in ultra lightweight gear. I’ve never seen a store that carries Hyper Light Mountain Gear packs or the amazing Enlightened Equipment Quilts that we use. Karen also has an amazing 3 year old son named Cosmo that Buddy is just thrilled to spend time with.
In total we will have taken 6 days off here in Bishop but they were well deserved and needed. We are waiting for our package from Tehachapi to arrive at the post office here in Bishop so that we can buy a new stove, use our pot that’s in the box and eat delicious hot food on the trail. We both bought new shoes here in town so hopefully they will work better than the other ones we were just using. Enough time has gone by that our feet have healed. we’ve rested our body and minds and will be ready to hit the trail again Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Karen and family have been too kind to us while in town and we couldn’t thank them enough for what they are doing for our family. I know I say it about everyone we meet and everywhere we go, but these people are amazing and I am so thankful to have met them. This part of our experience is another we will not forget.