Posts Tagged ‘Onna Move’

“Hi! Are you guys thru-hiking?” A day walker asked right before we ate lunch.

“Yes,” Hop-a-long and I replied as Dead was coming up the last bit of the small climb. Hop began taking pictures, so their questions went to me.

“Oh, how wonderful! What are your trail names?” They asked.

“I’m Veggie, Hop-a-long is taking pictures, and Dead Animal is right there coming up,” I said.

After a burst of laughter, they calmed down to say, “Ohhhhh we get it now, Dead Animal is a trail name.  There is a bright pink box that says ‘Dead Animal, please leave for PCT thru-hiker’ down by the pass! We thought someone had left a dead pet in it or something!”

We laughed, ate lunch, and continued “down.”  The trail decided to take us on a scenic tour of the road from several hundred feet up in this giant 1.5 mile U action instead of just switchbacking down.  On the way down to Sonora Pass, we passed two older ladies and a section hiker who we’re moving pretty slow, and we had town fever.

We found the bright pink box to contain an assortment of beer which was magically chilled by constant shade under a tree leftover from Pinky’s trail magic the weekend before there.  We drank some at the pass talking to Bolt who wasn’t hitching anywhere, but going all the way to Tahoe instead where he would end his trip.

Then a car pulled up, “Which two of you are the least smelly and need to get to Bridgeport?” The section hiker asked with the two older ladies in his car.

“How about three?” Hop-a-long asked.

“Not legally, but we can squeeze!” He shouted and we all jumped in the car.


Bridgeport was an expensive little town with a bunch of burger joints, pricy motels without air conditioning and a general store.  Since we had gotten there on a Saturday and we all desperately needed the Post Office, we took an unexpected zero day to wait for the PO to open Monday morning.  Hop-a-long and I both had new shoes and all of us were ever so eager to ditch the stupid ass bear canister which had become a nuisance in our lives for 316 miles.   We found a sweet sign on a tree as we wandered around too.  Too bad the sprinklers watered the sidewalk more than the lawn…


My awesome, most comfortable, pretty, ridiculously fantastic Teva sandals had made it 1018 PCT miles + resupply over Kearsarge (18 miles) + Mt. Whitney (17 miles) + town walking for two and a half months.  The tread had become pretty much non-existent, the base was cracking, and seams had begun to tear.  I had a new pair and the comparison was drastic next to each other…no wonder I had been slipping all over the place!

The hitch out was a little absurd; it took us over two hours to get a ride out in a jeep which got us all but about 5 miles to the pass and dropped us off at the Marine porta johns near a part of some training center.  They stared at us with their guns while we hitched further.  Luckily, we got a ride super quick with a woman going up for a day hike and had already picked up Warner Springs Monty who was setting out to do Sonora Pass to Tuolomne sobo.

Since the hitch took too long, we only managed five miles down the trail and then we made a campfire to cook on for a change.

That night, it got pretty cold which zapped the early morning motivation, so we didn’t leave until almost 9am.  We still managed to whip out a 20 mile day though, mostly because the terrain had become a wee bit easier.  The bumps were better graded and not with all the damn rock steps of Yosemite.  That stuff is what killed my tread, it was doing fine in Kennedy Meadows at mile 700.

We found a sweet campsite near a lake outlet stream and had another campfire, pretty much because we could.  It also kept away most of the few mosquitos that tried to plague us.  The cooler weather had severely diminished our mosquito troubles temporarily.

We got up earlier the next day and managed to pull a 23 mile day, going up and down, up and down small climbs.  Passing through all kinds of cool volcanic rock, Neon gave me a geology lesson in Neon-speak and not text-booky.  At one point in the conversation, the earth was a lava lamp, somehow the analogy worked perfectly.

This section, we also crossed more roads for the first time in several hundred miles.  The first was Hwy 4 at Ebbetts Pass.  Meadow Mary had left a cooler full of trail magic there, but none was left.  It did have a trail register, so we could see who was up to a week ahead of us, which was super handy.  We haven’t had an on trail register since Kennedy Meadows.  That is one thing I miss about the AT.

That afternoon, menacing clouds rolled in and settled.  Inspector Gadget caught an AT&T signal off a ridge and checked the weather: thunderstorms the following day.  AT&T has had better reception than Verizon recently due to the forest service and the rangers putting in towers to communicate with.  Before Verizon always had better service.

It definitely sprinkled and spat some rain at us that night around 1am, but it only lasted maybe 15 minutes and everything was dry in the morning.

We had our first on trail “rain” in about 1000 miles.  The last “rain” barely lasted five minutes right after Trail Angel Mike’s house.  It kinda spat rain, nothing soaking, but the wind was enough to make me want a rain shell on for the cold.

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After two and a half days of shenanigans in Mammoth, we finally made it back up the free trolley to the free bus to the pay bus to Reds Meadow where we chilled with Snow Turtle and Aggassi.  Eventually, we left around 5pm and went about five miles up the trail.  It was buggy, but graded decently and the trail crews had cleared an amazing amount of downed trees.  There were also a ba-zillion side trails going every which way to and from shuttle stops.

We had a nice little campsite tucked into some trees, but so many mosquitos!  The bloodsuckers got me good a few times.

In the morning, we got to walking after a large coat of deet.  The trail climbed slowly pretty much all day unless it went up steeper.  Only a few times the trail went down that day.

For 14 beautiful miles we got our trail back; the PCT went high on a ridge and the JMT went down in the valley by a bunch of lakes.  It was pleasant not to have a herd of them hiking south, at us, for a change.

We had a scenic overlook lunch where someone had left a pair of boots unceremoniously.  Inspector Gadget had yogi’ed a fresh tomato from some Russian day walkers despite not liking tomatoes, so he gave it to Hop-a-long and me.

At 1000 Islands Lake, the JMT met back up and immediately we saw a swarm of JMTers, one of which was shooting medium format actual film who decided Dead Animal and I were good film subjects.

We had to climb over Island “Pass” which really was just a small ridge and wasn’t “passy” at all.  After a short descent we had to climb up Donohue Pass, which wasn’t too difficult, but being at miles 17-19 of a 20 mile day, I was tired and pissed at all the damn JMTers, most of whom didn’t know the person going uphill has the right-of-way.  I gave several of them dirty looks when I had to stop for them or I almost ran straight into them.

Dead Animal and I got to the top of Donohue pass around 6:30pm and had it all to ourselves.  We didn’t stay long, just did ESPN, ate a bar, and hiked down a mile to a lake with a large outlet stream.  Hop-a-long and Inspector ended up camping two miles before the pass.

We got up and hiked down to Tuolomne Meadows.  It was 3 miles down and 8 miles through a meadow.  The closer we got, the more people we saw. It was a wave of people hiking south.  I asked four hikers with large packs and water testing poles if they were signaling the mothership and they said “something like that I reckon!”

The Tuolomne Meadows store/post office/grill was all in the same temporary structure with some wonderful picnic tables outside in the shade.  As I walked up, I was surprised to see Neon, Onna Move, Trip, and even Drop Zone.  I grabbed some vegan chili from the grill and caught up with a bunch of them over some beer.  I slapped a Yosemite sticker on my bear canister that I packed for the last time. Natty, Swanson, and Magellan walked in and joined us.

We stayed there for quite some time, just hanging out on the picnic tables when Cactus, Extra Credit, Dubs, Wiz, Cheesecake (now maybe Mancake……..), Snowflake, Gator, Ornie, Ornie’s girlfriend who’s now hiking and Waffles jumped off the bus that came up from Yosemite Valley. When we realized what a crew we had, we went over to the campground with campfire food and took over a large chunk of the backpacker section. Leave it to the thru-hikers to be the other backpackers up past 8:30pm drinking and cooking on a campfire.

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Sorry for not posting, we took out eight days of food and I had no internet for that long.  Mt. Whitney pictures are at the bottom which wouldn’t upload before as well.  Thanks for your patience!

We resupplied by taking a side trail east over Kearsarge Pass down into the Onion Valley to a road which would take us several thousand feet down to the small town of Independence, CA.  Taking the Bullfrog Lake trail up to the pass, we caught amazing views of the Penacles and beautifully blue alpine lakes that reflected the image of the mountains in them.  The pass stood at 11,780 feet; although it wasn’t on the PCT, we took it as a bonus pass and got naked for it anyway just to keep up ESPN.  It was definitely the longest I’ve ever hiked to a resupply…usually I hit a road and stick out my thumb, conveniently getting a ride to food and beer.  Nope.  Nine miles to a road.  Then we had to depend on day walkers, all of which were inconveniently staying at the campground there and enjoying the outdoors, not Subway, beer, cheap motels, and hot tubs.

Eventually, we did get a ride down in a beat-up white pickup with a guy who charged $5 a head and had taken up a load of thru-hikers including Neon, Onna Move, Bolt, Ornie, Waffles, Cheesecake, and Snowflake.  Astro, Magellan, Dead Animal and I jumped in and put our heads down every time he took a turn fast and yelled at us to hold onto our hats while we bounced in the bed of the truck.

We got dropped off at the Chevron gas station and Subway where I had the amazing resupply guru, my mother, send me a package of seven days of food.  I got it after I wolfed down a foot long veggie sub in about five minutes or less, then all of us jumped on the regional bus up to Bishop, a bigger town 40 miles north.  Inspector Gadget and Hop-a-long had gotten ahead of us to catch the post office hours for his laptop bounce box and gotten Gadget’s dad’s Holiday Inn points for a room in Bishop.

A nice zero was in order where we relaxed, played in the pool, checked out Bishop’s three outfitters, and ate copious amounts of food.  The next day, we got back to the Chevron via the local mid-day bus and began hitching back up to Onion Valley.  We picked up House and Lunchbox, so we split up to try for rides.  Eventually, Hop-a-long, Inspector Gadget, House, and Lunchbox got a squeezed ride up while Dead Animal and I waited.  Before long a car pulled up and screeched to a stop.  Bounce Box, Major Upchuck, and the Indiana Boys jumped out with one of their girlfriends who was going to hike for a while.  Bounce and Upchuck were actually heading back to Lone Pine where they got off, so they got back in the car while a nice woman named Debbie drove the five of us left up to the Onion Valley trailhead.

Hop-a-long had left her poles in a rides car going down.  The trail is good though because the ride gave them to a hiker at the Chevron who posted on the PCT-l (PCT email list) that they left them with the Onion Valley Campground Host.  However, when we got there, the host had lent them out to a family with kids two and a half miles up the trail.  We began walking and we found the kids who returned her poles one at a time.

That evening, Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, Lunchbox, House, and I camped near a lake about halfway up to Kearsarge pass.  We hit the pass in the morning for a second time and took the pass trail back to the PCT where we immediately climbed over Glen Pass.

We had naked time on top to continue ESPN, then hiked down to Rae Lakes where we went swimming in the alpine lake and got eaten by mosquitos.  The downhill continued to right before mile 800 where we camped in the last bear box campsite we saw with lots of JMTers.

The PCT and the JMT (John Muir Trail) are the same for a large chunk of the Sierras and most of the JMTers hike sobo to finish on Mt. Whitney with their extremely large packs.

The next day was trying for me.  Pinchot Pass kicked my ass, the seven days of food weighed me down, and I cursed the bear canister which was trying to rub blisters on my back.  The pass just climbed and climbed and climbed on obnoxiously large rock steps and for most of it, I kept thinking I was farther than I was, probably because we tried to hike faster to out-hike the mosquitos, then running out of breath and expending energy killing them as they tried to suck our blood.

We took a decent break on top, getting naked to spite the evil pass that took incredibly too long to climb, then we descended slowly.  I was so beat by the bottom, Dead Animal and I camped there with the mosquitos while Hop-a-long and Inspector went on another 40 minutes or so.

In the morning, Dead Animal realized that some creature had eaten large holes out of his new socks that he had only worn once.  The probable suspects were either a mouse or a chipmunk.

We found Inspector Gadget and Hop-a-long not too far up the next morning and they talked about frost.  We all got to the top of Mather Pass, did the usual naked ritual, and began a hideous decent which actually hurt my knees a bit for the first time this trip.  Following a waterfall down, switch back after rocky switch back, we passed lots of JMTers and their large packs going up.  There were beautiful look out points where we could see deep into the valley that we would plunge down into, almost down to 8,000 ft.



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