Day 7 (62 Total)
Bullfrog Lake Junction to Bishop via Kearsarge Pass, 7.5 miles (non- PCT)
The hike out is gorgeous, all jagged peaks and blue lakes and a clear sky above us. It’s hard, impossible, really, to feel worried about bears when there are six of us all walking together. It’s just over 7 miles to get down to a trailhead, and from there, to bum a ride into town. We’ll see how charming I can be.
It gets hotter and hotter as the morning goes on and we descend. After a week at high altitude, the thought of dropping down into 5,6, or 7,000ft feels like it might as well be below sea level.
When we get to the trailhead, I start watching for anyone heading to their cars who might be able to give me a ride to Bishop. I finished this 111 mile section much faster than I had planned, and will have a few days to entertain myself before my friend Savannah shows up to hike with me. Also, it’s a billion degrees down here. I find myself sitting in the shade of the pit toilet so I don’t spontaneously combust into flames. It smells but then again so do I so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
After striking out with a few drivers heading the opposite way from where I want to go, I spot a day hiker we’d seen as we were coming down. He’s a few switchbacks above the parking lot, and I watch him descend (how much of a creep am I, I KNOW!) because I just get the sense I’m going to get a ride. Bear Rock is also trying to get to Bishop, so he goes over when the hiker hits the parking lot and chats with him. A minute later, we are loading our stuff into the car. Success. We stop in Bishop and go to grab lunch, and even though it’s been just 7 days on trail, town feels overwhelming. Suddenly there are choices, decisions, options, people, noise. It’s jolting to go from only having to think about food, water, walking, and sleeping to this.
That being said, my luck gets better. Turns out, our driver is heading back to Davis and could swing me by Lake Tahoe where there is extended family with whom I could stay with while I wait for my friend. Hmm. Stay in Bishop roasting by myself, or get to Lake Tahoe and chill for a few days? So that’s how I end up on a four hour road trip with my new pal Ryan. He previously hiked the PCT and said he wanted to give back because of all the rides and magic he got himself while hiking. I don’t know what it is about being on trail but somehow it’s not that weird to drive a couple hundred miles with this random dude I just met. Also, it confirms that although I was a VERY shy child, as an adult I can hold a conversation with literally anyone. Try me. I have the ability to ask an annoying amount of questions. Also: I owe some serious magic to the trail universe. Hopefully I’ll run into some hikers in Bend this summer.
Tahoe is an oasis! The next few days go something like this: swim, sleep, swim, shower, eat fresh food, drink water I don’t have to filter, eat dinner with John and Diane looking out at the lake. Um, can I move to Tahoe?! John gives me a ski race shirt to wear while I’m there so I spend three days feeling like someone cool enough to compete in “the great ski race”.
I love that I’m able to rest here after blazing through a tough section. Diane and John, thank you SO MUCH for your generosity.
^^ Always pre-rinse your socks, kids!!
A few days later, I am on the bus from Carson City back down to Bishop where I will meet up with Savannah for more hiking.
It’s so hot out now that being on the bus feels like I’m burning in the pits of hell. It makes me think of the desert and I want nothing more than to be back in the mountains. Give me those alpine lakes and creek side naps and sweet cool breezes. But, at least I got one of the very last seats on the bus! Plus, when I go to pay as I’m getting off the driver goes, “Don’t even worry about it. Happy Birthday.” Uh, ok? I’ll save the $40, thanks. Maybe I am more charming than I realized.
The hotel I’m at in Bishop is…fine. Better than when we crammed 6 people into a Red Roof Inn and each payed like, 11 dollars to fund the room in 2019. Or than the motel we stayed at in high school for the state track meet and there was a shooting across the street that night and doors that opened to the outside but didn’t actually lock. Memories.
Next up? Back to hiking, this time with Savannah. I haven’t seen her since the fall of 2019 and am so stoked to get some time on trail together again. Cheers!