Day 58 – a nero into Independence

May 31, 2016

Kearsarge Lakes to Kearsarge Pass Trailhead

Miles: 5.3 miles

It was a hard night. Our slanted spot seemed to get more slanted as the night progressed. Andy, whose sleeping bag is lined with Gortex slept well in one place. Laurie, who is sleeping in a silk liner inside a sleeping bag made of Pertex fabric, spent the whole night pulling herself up towards the head of the tent only to slide down moments later.

We slept without the fly to enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains. The clouds had parted and the temperature felt reasonable. It was nice to see the Milky Way and thousands of other stars while readjusting positions in the middle of the night.

The temperature dropped and Laurie woke up cold around 1am. Our sleeping bags were wet with condensation and the tent had frost on the outside. Andy wrapped Laurie and her sleeping bag in the emergency blanket. It warmed her immediately and allowed for another 4 hours of sleep.

Laurie got up at 5 to set up a time lapse of the sun’s reflection on the jagged snowy peaks above Kearsarge Lakes. She crawled back into her now warm sleeping bag and we talked until 6:30 am when Andy got up to make Matcha tea and hot chocolate.

We were eager to get into town but enjoyed the serenity and beauty of our camp spot.

Andy threw rocks into the semi frozen lake, fascinated with the traveling air bubbles they created. It was like he was 5 again, excited to see which rocks would penetrate the ice and create ripples.

Once the sun reached our tent we sprung into action. We were walking by 8:10am and reached Kearsarge Pass by 8:40am.

Initially the trail was covered by snow but as we neared the long and gently graded switchbacks our path was clear.

The view looking back from Kearsarge Pass towards frozen Bullfrog Lake and Kearsarge Lakes was specacular. The snow added immense depth and beauty to an already gorgeous area.

After a short break we headed down the trail towards Onion Valley Campground and Trailhead. The trail switchbacked through boulder fields, past gushing creeks and Indian Paintbush.

Much of the trail above 10,000 ft was covered by snow. Again we followed footsteps, checking our position from time to time. Sometimes we were right on the trail, other times we were 200 ft off of it.

Near the pass Laurie had reception and called what we thought was the Courthouse Motel in Independence. We had shipped our packages there and had planned to stay the night. After calling for a second time to organize a pickup from the trailhead we realized we had called the Mt. Williamson Motel instead.

We cursed the other hiker who had given us the wrong number.

Our packages were at the Courthouse motel but we would have to pay $50 for a ride from the trailhead.

Another motel would give us a ride but then we would have to pay $10 to pick up each of our 3 boxes. Oh conundrums of the real world!

After a bit of a discussion we decided to stay at the Mt Williamson Motel and we are so happy with our decision.

It is nice when mistakes turn into good fortune. Andy believes that even in odd and whacky ways we meet people we are supposed to meet.

Strider picked us up from Onion Valley Trailhead at noon and drove us to her motel, first making a pit stop for us to pick up our packages.

The property is quaint and has a lot of charm. But the rooms were the biggest surprise. Very clean, comfy beds and modern bathrooms with great water pressure in the shower!

We loved it. It’s the best place we’ve stayed on our trip thus far.

After we got settled, showered, and gave Strider our dirty laundry, we walked over to the Owens Valley Growers Coop for pizza. We had heard they make great pizza and had been talking about it since Lone Pine.

We even called from the trail to make sure they had gluten free pizza today, and they did!

It was a three block walk to the Coop and on the way we picked apricots from a tree next to the sidewalk.

They made for a great appetizer.

Our pizza was ready when we got there. A steaming, medium size, gluten free pizza with mozerella, grilled onions, basil and sautéed mushrooms. We ordered a salad to go with it.

They were delicious! And were devoured in 5 minutes!

We had planned on staying at the Coop to figure out the details of the next section of our hike but Laurie kept people watching. Other hikers there were very dramatic and distracting. We elected to get another pizza to go and work from the comforts of our bed.

On the way back we picked more apricots. It was really hot in Independence – around 90° with a heat wave coming the next few days.

We usually don’t like air conditioning but it felt good to sit in a cool room and relax.

Time really does fly when we’re in towns. Making plans for the next section, uploading photos to Instagram and posting on our blog take a lot of time. Not to mention the other chores – cleaning pots, checking credit card statements, catching up on email, and  checking in with family and friends.

By the time we uploaded a few blog posts it was 6pm. The Coop was closing at 6:30 for a special event so we hustled over there for more food. Laurie ordered another gluten free pizza while Andy ordered a turkey sandwich for dinner and a pizza to be shared for breakfast. We also bought coconut milk and chia seed pudding and a pint of coconut ice cream.

Hiker hunger must be kicking in.

After dinner we went back to town chores. It was 9pm when we finally turned our attention to our resupply boxes. By the time we sorted all the food and other items and packed our backpacks it was almost 11pm.

Laurie tried to blog a bit more but fell asleep shortly after. Andy stayed up until almost midnight reading blog posts from those ahead of us to get intel on trail conditions.

Our alarms are set for 5am tomorrow because Strider is taking us back to the trailhead at 6:30am.

It’s been a long, fulfilling, and delicious day. Tomorrow morning is going to come too soon.

Tonight we are grateful for gluten free pizza in small towns and air conditioning.

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Our campsite at Kearsarge Lakes

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View west from Kearsarge Pass

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Dinner and desert courtesy of the OVGC

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