PCT Day 159, Double Flip and a Flop with a Hop, Day 78

September 18

Mile 788.9 over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley, NO PCT miles, 7.3 off-trail miles
PCT miles: 1651.5
Running total: 1794.5
My feet were SO cold last night, which prevented me from getting any decent rest- I was frozen to the bone! When we woke up, a thin layer of frost lined the inside of our tent and when I “accidentally” banged on the roof of the tent, it snowed down on us. Brrr.

We took our time getting packed up, knowing that we only had a little more than 7 miles to go.

By the time we were ready to go it was warm enough to strip down out of our rain pants and puffys- I don’t remember the last time we were able to start the day in shorts!!

Our day started with an easy-enough climb up to Kearsarge Pass, gaining 1047 feet in 3 miles- the last few switchbacks were butt-kickers, but when are they not?!

It was such beautiful morning.

Matt beat me to the top, and when I arrived I found him chatting with a group of JMT hikers. When Matt introduced himself, the group got excited- “you’re Jaws?! We heard about you!!” somebody exclaimed. Guys, Matt’s famous!! As it turned out, the group had camped with Kenny and Chuckwalla the night before and somehow our names had come up. We shared tales of trail names and trail trials before starting our journey down from Kearsarge Pass to the Onion Valley Trailhead, where we had hoped to catch a ride to town.

With Mr. Gourmet, one of the guys that had heard about Jaws!

It seems that no matter how close we are, the hike into town always feels like it takes forever and a day. From the top of the pass we only had 4.5 miles to go with a 2600 elevation loss, but holy hell did it never end!!!!! At least we were blessed with incredible views.

The trail was super crowded with thru-hikers, weekenders, and day-hikers, but only the thru-hikers were headed towards the trailhead- ruh-roh! Who was going to give us a ride?? We had hoped to make friends with a day-hiker on the way down to secure a ride, but we appeared to be shit out of luck. Now we had to hope that SOMEBODY was leaving the lot and would be willing to drive us down the mountain, otherwise we would have an additional 15 miles to walk!
As we were approaching the trailhead, Matt nodded towards the parking lot and said, “white pick up.” He honed in on our target and sure enough he scored us a ride to town from the lovely couple in the white pick up, Mark and Sandy.
Mark and Sandy were packing up their truck after a week-long backpacking trip (and before a week-long kayaking trip!) and agreed to drop us off at the bottom of the mountain in Independence. They were on their way to Lone Pine, a town 15 miles south, but when they heard that Matt and I had planned to spend our day off in Bishop, 40 miles north of Independence, they got excited- they were only headed to Lone Pine to pick up some good craft beers and then were heading back to Bishop for the night. They took my phone number & offered to pick us back up on their way through Independence and drive us to Bishop- awesome!!!! As we were saying goodbye, Mark took me off-guard with a surprise hug & I ended up dropping and cracking my phone- ahh! I’m notorious for breaking my phone but somehow made it 1650 miles without incident! Then all it took was an in-town hug…oops & oh well!!

{Fun!! When Matt and I were in Leavenworth, we stopped by the local farmers market and fell in love with these hats called Recaps- they are hand-printed designs on recycled fabric and overall super cool. Matt and I promised the owner/designer that we would buy a hat after our hike (/part of Matt’s bday present!!) & Sandy happened to be modeling one! Check out recaphats.com- you can design your own rad hat!!}

After getting dropped off, Matt and I walked over to the new sub shop in town for lunch. As we were waiting in line, a guy walked in and asked me, “SoBo or NoBo?” Turned out this guy, Veg, hiked the trail in 2014 and offered to buy us lunch!! We each enjoyed a foot-long sub while bonding over trail-life. Fun fact: Veg and his girlfriend both hiked the PCT in the same year, one NoBo and the other SoBo, but they never met until post-trail! And now the girlfriend’s mom is hiking 500 miles of the trial solo! So cool!!

After lunch we received a text from Sandy- they were headed back towards Independence and wanted to see if we still needed a ride. We jumped on the offer, jumped in their truck, and continued with them towards Bishop. Mark and Sandy are such a neat couple!! Mark works as an avalanche predictor for Colorado & Sandy teaches avalanche preparedness. Long story short, they are both outdoors loving ski bums who made a living out of their passions!! Heros!

On our way to Bishop I researched Airbnbs and found ONE in town. Thankfully it had availability for two nights & I booked it. It happened to be a few blocks from the Mountain Rambler Brewery in Bishop, so we had Mark and Sandy drop us off at the brewery and treated them to beers.
After beers, Matthew and I walked to the Airbnb where we showered, started laundry, and relaxed. We then walked into town for dinner, stopped by the brewery again (running into Pick!), stopped by a wine and cheese bar for frozen yogurt and two mini pies, picked up some beer and iced tea (my latest obsession!), and headed back to the house for Netflix & sleep. Cheers!

Happiness is: an all-around amazing day.

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