6/18/17 – The Long Way to Reno

Day 56
Miles: 0
“We can get a ride to Bishop,” Dave said. “Maybe all the way to Reno. I’m going to find out details.”

It was 8:30 on Sunday morning and my mind was set on chilling today and catching the bus the next morning. I had blog entries to write, and a book to read, and Sunday just felt like a perfect day for those activities. Five minutes later I received a text.
“They are leaving at 8:45. Hurry.”
My brain was not programmed to hurry today. At all. I managed to push myself to pack and ten minutes later we left Lone Pine in Legend’s vehicle and headed for Bishop but I was not happy about the development at all.

Our ride from Lone Pine to Reno. Afterwards Legend switched to his truck and we did not fit anymore.

Legend is a trail angel we first met at Tehachapi, and later saw at Kennedy Meadows. He drives a very distinctive reddish truck, and everywhere he goes, he helps thru-hikers. He is known to cook pancakes in the morning and spaghetti for dinner, and in the meantime he offers rides. Today he promised to take a group from Bishop to Reno, and the idea was that if there still was room in the truck, we could get a ride as well.

Little cleanup of Legend’s RV

We didn’t fit. The truck swallowed 10 hikers, some of them sitting in the back with luggage which did not look comfortable, nor safe, and definitely was not legal, and after that there was absolutely no room to squeeze anybody else. The truck left and my day of blissful relaxation dissolved into an unanticipated adventure. 

Story Legend wrote. We read it along the way.

Our objective was to get to Reno, and with no public transportation running during weekends, our only option was to hitch. 

Hitching directly in Bishop is near impossible since there is no side/parking lane for a vehicle to pull over and so before to could try our luck we had to face a 15 minute walk to the end of the town. 
Lucky we were. A vehicle stopped in less then five minutes, lady who lives in Aqua Dulce (the very hiker friendly town where we visited Hiker Heaven) and has another property in Mammoth Lakes. That’s where she was going and we accepted the ride that got us 44 miles closer to our destination.

Backseat buddy on the way to Mammoth Lakes

Along the way we talked about the trail and towns it goes through. And of course the heavy snow in Sierra and also bears who are now hanging out lower than usually due to the snow. She shared a story with us about a bear climbing a tree, getting on her neighbor’s patio and opening the sliding door to get inside the house. He then proceeded to the kitchen, opened the fridge, and helped himself to some snacks. This was an extreme case but she said it’s not uncommon for bears in the area to break into cars or even a garage if they smell food there. We parted at the Mammoth Lake exit but not before she reached into the trunk and offered us two Gatorade drinks each.

We were still long ways from Reno and so we walk the onramp back to the highway and stuck our thumb up. One car passed, speeding away. The second one stopped. 

Still ways away

“Seriously?” we looked at each other not believing our luck. 

The two young rock climbers who picked us up were on their way to a rock near Lee Vining and that got us another 29 miles up the road.
Lee Vining was a familiar sight. Three years ago when we hiked the John Muir Trail we spend a night here before catching a shuttle to Yosemite Valley. And we almost spent a night here again. Hitchhiking was difficult in this town, cars sped by, their drivers paying attention to a huge sign warning about deers crossing the road and not paying any attention to hikers at all. 
Lee Vining, we knew was the last stop before Reno where we could catch the Monday bus if we were not able to make it to town tonight, and so when after about an hour of waiting, two cars stopped within few minutes of each other and offered us a ride part of the way, we had to thank them but decline. 

The black cloud shed some rain on us while hitchhiking in Lee Vining

Things did not look good another hour later and we started discussing our accommodation option in Lee Vining. That’s when a van pulled over and Far Out, thru-hiker from last year, who was on his way to visit a buddy in Reno offered to take us the rest of the way. 
We had a great 141 miles in his van, chatting about the trail, the challenges it brings as well as the joys the simple life on the trail offers. At the end of the two hour drive he dropped us directly at our hotel and wished us good luck for the rest of our journey. 

Reno, at last

And so we got to Reno after all. It was 8:00 p.m. when we arrived. I did not get a chance to write a word or read a word, but we were here and I hoped I’d have time to catch up on my blog tomorrow when on the bus to Susanville. Little I knew there would not be a bus to Susanville.