6/8/17 – Lake Isabella
Miles: 644 to 652
“Can we sleep in tomorrow?” asked Dave after our alpine start hike yesterday. We only had eight miles to hike and I agreed that under those circumstances we deserved to sleep longer so I set the alarm for 5:00 a.m.
Sunrise happened just about the time we woke up. It turned the soft clouds in the sky dark pink and for a moment the landscape bathed in beautiful warm tones of the rising sun.
The color did not last long but the clouds kept hovering above our heads and for a change the morning air remained cooler. It made the hike easier. That, and the mostly downhill grade.
It took us 3 hours to hike the eight miles to Walker Pass where trail magic stopped us at our tracks. Rye bread never tasted better, some of us enjoyed Gatorade while other reached for beer, even though it was an early morning still. After all, we hit another big mile mark. Today we crossed mile 650 and with that we only have 2,000 miles left to hike. Nearly there, right?
We could not secure ride to town from anybody at the Walker Pass Campground, couple people were headed the opposite direction to Ridgecrest, and though we had to do it the hard way, by sticking our thump up.
After about 10 minutes, and perhaps 8 vehicles that passed us, a small car slowed to stop. It was five of us waiting, two could get a ride (one and a half really as I ended up holding my backpack on my lap the whole way) and so Captain Underpants suggested Dave and I took the ride and the remaining three of them would keep hitching, which ended up being an hour and half long adventure.
Lake Isabella is a small town, store, few restaurants, basic but hiker friendly motel, and a post office where our package with micro spikes waited. We would not need them on the stretch to Kennedy Meadows but we decided to carry them for the 50 miles that it will take us to get there.
Proximity of Kennedy Meadows sparked lots of conversations about the Sierra lately. We had peek at the snow covered mountain range from the ridge we hiked today. From afar it did not look bad but the few reports we saw online from hikers who are currently attempting to cross are quite mixed. The spring melt has started which means the snow softens very early in the morning and hiking day is reduced to several hours, starting pre dawn. Afterwards the postholing makes travel impossible. The snow melt also means snow-fed streams that has to be crossed and those are the real problem we are facing. Some of them are dangerous and scary, some as of now are said to be not passable at all. We are weighting our options. We will have to make a decision soon and it won’t be an easy one.