31 August 2019
Kearsarge Lakes to Onion Valley / Independence.
6.1 miles
Total miles: 67.5 miles


I was too tired to even look at the stars last night. I have slept with my tent door open every night so I do get a little glimpse. The hot water bottle was a stroke of genius. After I warmed up my feet I lay it on my chest and I didn’t move for the next three hours. 

We made a deal with the guys to get going at 7am because I wanted to get up those switchbacks before the sun got on to them. I heard a lot of rustling in the early hours and I had a little panic that everyone going to be ready before me. I know it takes me half an hour to pack up but I ignored my 6:30am alarm and started packing up at 6am. Even though the guys had all their tents packed up already it was a big mistake. I was ready to go by 6:35am and I had to wait until they were ready at 6:58am 

Awesome achievement though for them, they got packed up and ready early and on time! And the cherry on the cake, self-proclaimed Grumpy Old Man Jim was in a great mood and it made my day! High fives all round and a big grin on his face. Maybe because it was nearly over! 

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Top tip: do not leave you campsite like this overnight! They have a bear canister and yet they have left their food out of it on the rock!

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I already knew I was going to hike behind the guys. I would like to think that if I am in a fortunate enough position to still be hiking in my late 60s with 2 knee replacements (for me it will probably be knee and hip replacements if I make it that far!) that someone would be willing to wait for me. What do I achieve anyway by getting there faster than them. I just wait at the top and make them feel shitty. So I plodded along behind them and in the cooler temperatures it wasn’t hard to get to the top, and I think it surprised them both to get there as quick as we did. Hugs all round!

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There was cell service at the top for the first time in 6 days. I turned my phone on and there were far too many messages to deal with, so I dealt with that by just turning it off again. 

We didn’t hang out up there for too long. The sun was up and town food was calling. We didn’t wait this time, we could smell the barn as they say and it was every man for himself. I hiked behind Catwater for about half of the descent. We passed loads of people coming up, it’s a holiday weekend here so everyone is hiking up to the pass and will probably be camped around the lakes. It got hotter and hotter as we went down. There was very little shade and I just wanted to be out of the sun again. We waited by the lake for the guys to catch up. A couple passed a said good morning. They sounded British. 

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After that little break I was ready to get going. I was ready to stretch my legs so I shot off like a rocket. I wanted to catch the British people. I must have passed around 100 people coming up, probably more. There was crazy the amount of people on this trail. And everyone had a different etiquette. You are supposed to give way to the uphill hiker, but a lot of people hiking uphill like the excuse to take a break. So you never know.

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I went so fast and eventually caught up with my new British friends. I found out they were from Shrewsbury and they are finishing up the PCT after skipping around the Sierra to avoid the snow, like so many people did this year. We chatted all the way down to the bottom. We also ran into the man who invented the bear vault. The Brits had their canisters attached to the outside of their packs and a guy said, “hey the guy behind me invented that thing, he sold the company now”. So when we saw him I said “oh so you’re to blame!!” He took it in good humour. I asked if he was carrying one and he said both him and his wife were. He was a nice guy. 

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At the parking lot I said farewell to my British friends and made a beeline for the outhouse. Finally some relief! I waited 5 minutes and went again. 

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I was desperate to get out of the sun but there was zero shade. None at all. About half an hour later the rest of the crew caught up and we jumped in Toms car and went straight to Lone Pine to get Mexican food and soda. Oh soda. And guac. And chips. So good. Tom treated us all which was so nice of him. 

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They then drove us back to Independence, out of their way, so we could check into our motel and get our resupply which we had dropped off before we started hiking. I can’t begin to describe how hot it was. The thermometer at the motel said 106ºF. I felt like I had to put my hands up in front of me to shield myself from the heat. It was just like hitting a wall of heat from a fire. If there was no wind it was just about bearable but as soon as the wind blew it became about 20 degrees hotter. What’s the equivalent of wind chill factor when it’s hot? 

Thankfully the room has air con and we were able to sit on the porch for a few minutes to use the WiFi and then duck back in the room to cool off. 

We did laundry and there were handy robes to wear. Mine was a nice silk number. I think we probably looked pretty ridiculous sat out on the porch in our robes but when all your clothes are in the wash what else are you supposed to do? I tried to take a shower but I couldn’t get the water temperature to be anything but scalding hot and a trickle so I had a flannel wash and got my hair wet. My hair didn’t see any soap or a brush so it’s in a pretty sorry state. At least my body is around 75% clean. But now it’s very very dry and scaly. I managed to remove a load of dead scaly skin from around my mouth and chin. Thats really attractive! My lips and nose are still so sore. 

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We were waiting for our clothes to dry before taking a trip to the one and only shop in town. A gas station with a fake subway next door. It used to be a real subway and it is basically the exact same but with a different name. Turns out it’s better than Subway, they do Barlic Parmesan bread which was an absolute dream. All the people in the shop were so nice, the Indian guy was trying to talk to me about the cricket. Apparently we won something?…

I had never felt more dehydrated so I got a Gatorade, a Dr Pepper and a frozen slushy thing. That was a great decision. So cold and so sweet and delicious… and so cold! Brain freeze! 

I couldn’t think straight so took an age to choose my sandwich. Turkey provolone on garlic Parmesan bread. With cucumber and spinach and chipotle mayonnaise and a touch of salt. Oh god that was good. 

We hung around the motel catching up on life admin. Calling family. Paying bills and checking bank statement and emails and charging electronics and uploading photos and downloading podcasts and freeing up storage on my phone. Briefly looking at the news and reading something ridiculous about Boris Johnson and closing the app down again. Catching up with people on Instagram and updating people. 

When do we get back to the woods? 

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I sorted out my resupply. I had an exact replica of my previous resupply. It seemed to work so I’ll stick with it. I’m not looking forward to how much it’s going to weigh. I was rather enjoying the weight of my pack today. Time just went by so quickly, and I didn’t even manage to finish my soda. But I do have a Gatorade to pack out which is always good. Just must remember to steal some toilet roll before I leave. 

 

 

 

 

 

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