Back in Lone Pine

Day 1 – Wednesday 6/20/18

It’s 4:30 am. It’s still dark outside. I’m sitting in the kitchen, eating Ellenos Greek Yogurt and I’m listening to the already busy traffic outside the house. In few minutes, our friends Karel and Helena will pick us up and take us to the airport so that we can start the next chapter of our PCT adventure. Somehow the idea that we’re leaving on a multi month backpacking trip still doesn’t feel real. In just few days we will be climbing over Forester Pass, the highest point of the entire trail and the other high passes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. We will ford rivers, cross snowfield, face heat, rain, and many other challenges. I hope I’m ready.

To get to Lone Pine where our adventure begins, we had two choices. Flying through Reno and taking East Sierra Transit bus was the easier one. Only one connection with plenty of time to catch it. It was also the more expensive choice. So instead we chose to be adventurous, fly to Burbank and take a series of trains and busses.

Our flight is uneventful. We arrive on time, our checked-in backpacks arrive as well. Quick Lyft ride takes us to Burbank Train Station where we have an hour to kill before catching a train #209 to Lancaster. It’s shortly after ten, the sun is already scorching hot, so we find a spot in shade to sit. Next to us there is a fashion photo shoot going on. A group of about 8, the photographer, stylist, makeup artist, rest are the models dressed in tight jeans and leather jackets. Otherwise the station is deserted.

The train ride is two hours long and it gives us a taste of SoCal in late June. Everything is brown and dry, and excruciatingly hot.

The desert gets even more personal during the bus ride. It’s all around us, beautiful and deadly at the same time. As our bus stops at Mojave, I’m glad we did not hiked through here at the end of June. I would not have lasts long.

The bus drops us at McDonald in Lone Pine. It’s just a short walk to Dow Villa Hotel where we are spending night. Above the town mountains are towering to the sky. Among them is Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain of the lower US. We’re not going to climb it this time around but one they I wouldn’t mind revisiting the summit. Once I’m more acclimatized to altitude.

Town chores are relatively easy. We only need fuel and water. On our way back we bump into our friend Swayed with whom we shared several hundred miles last year and who will be joining us on Sunday when we make our way to Independence, our first resupply. Swayed re-hiked the entire desert this year already and hopefully is on his way to complete the entire trail. We also have a chance to meet his wife Sarah who flew out from the East Coast to spend few days with him while he is waiting for us. The four of us chat the evening away. I feel relaxed, and still somewhat in denial than in a couple of days I would be climbing over 12,000 foot passes. See you on the other side.