PCT miles: 0, but we did walk 8ish non trail miles to the Onion Valley Trailhead.
Woke up covered in frost, pretty darn chilly out. The Bullfrog Lake/Kearsage Lakes area is ridiculously beautiful, we ate breakfast right before Kearsage Pass just so we could enjoy the view. Couldn't dawdle too long though, no one was excited to be leaving the mountains and we wanted to be gone for as short a time possible. Plus it was still pretty darn cold out so walking is a good plan.
Up and over and then down and down we went.
Nicely graded but wow some of those switchbacks just seemed silly. More lakes and forests to enjoy, plus at least one day hiker who was pretty stoked to see thruhikers.
Passed some folks we knew heading back and hit the parking lot hoping for a ride. The first guy Toasted Whiskers actually talked to had thruhiked in '03. He wasn't heading out but did give us some food, which is always a win. Caveman, Toasted Whiskers, and I got a ride from a couple out walking their dog. It worked great, they told us pretty much everything we needed to know about Independence and dropped us off right in front of the one store with fresh fruits and vegetables. We spent most of the day doing our millions of town day chores. Hung out behind the courthouse because there was shade, picnic tables, bathrooms inside and the library. Public libraries usually have outlets and Internet, two very handy things. A guy even brought us freshly baked cookies!
After eating and getting most of our resupply done we had a slight wrench thrown into our plans. Originally we needed food for about 6 days and 116 miles to get us to Reds Meadow where we could catch a shuttle to Mammoth for our next resupply. Turns out that Reds is officially closed until June 30 and the road is closed to all traffic. There was a huge windstorm during the winter that blew down thousands of trees and cleanup is still ongoing. So why is this an issue? The trail may be open, but it's now something like a 20 mile round trip detour to Mammoth. That's a lot of miles out of the way. We would prefer to avoid losing two days just resupplying so the plan is to slightly up the miles and with 7 full days of food go the 160ish to Tuolumne Meadows. It will definitely be a challenge, for me at least, but we have a few backup strategies so we will see how it goes. So back to the store for more food.
An awesome trail angel named Kevin gave us a ride back to the trailhead and warned us about the incoming storm. The clouds had been gathering and the wind whipping around us in town but once at the trailhead we got to add freezing cold to the mix.
We used some bushes as a windbreak and made our delicious dinner before hitting the trail.
The plan was 1-2 miles but once it started snowing on us the real goal was a sheltered place 4 people could fit in. And so for the third time this entire trip I set up my tent. Probably not a bad idea since it took forever and I clearly needed the practice. The winds are whipping and the temperature is dropping, let's see what tomorrow brings.
As the clouds were rolling in.
And the mountains were disappearing from view...
And we were getting snowed on...
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