6/25/18 – Skippers

Day 5

Miles: 0

We’re skipping the Sierra again. Can you believe that? Here’s the scoop.

We wake up to the smell of fried bacon. The kitchen is next door to our room and it’s breakfast time.

Breakfast is lovely, home cooked as we sit around a table with a couple on their way to SoCal to visit family and a couple of JMT thru-hikers. Few minutes later we are served eggs and bacon, coffee and orange juice, and muffins we can toast and smear with a choice of jam or peanut butter.

That’s where the pleasant atmosphere of the morning stops. As soon as we walk from the dining room, we notice the scent of smoke in the air. The mountains closer to us are visible through the haze, the ones further away are as if somebody completely erased them from existence. Looking down the road we barely can see the other end of the town which is just few blocks away. Is this for real?

We check the news. The small fire that has been burning near Mammoth Lakes since June 1st grew overnight due to strong wind. It’s now spread over 1,000 acres sending smoke our way. Air quality in Bishop (the next town North) is considered hazardous. Red’s Meadow where we would get in few days had ash rain yesterday.

“Should we wait a day or two?” Dave asks.

I’m not a fan of hiking in the smoke either. We had enough of that in Washington last year. Dave calls the Ranger Station that is in the fire management.

“We expect the smoke to last for two to three weeks,” says the ranger. That’s not an answer we wanted to hear.

Soon afterwards we meet with Swayed and discuss the situation. It’s heartbreaking but we really can’t find any pluses of going back to the Sierra right at this point.

So where do we go? Reprising our last years Sierra exit, we head for Chester with an overnight stop in Reno. From there we plan to hike south until we hit Kearsarge Pass again.

Our transportation options include taking a bus to Reno tomorrow morning. Neither of us is thrilled at the prospect of staying in Independence for another day. As much as we would like to love this small town, there is not one restaurant open on Monday, and generally there is little to keep us interested in staying. We can try to hitch hike as far north as we can and catch the Reno bus from there tomorrow. That sounds good but getting a hitch for 3 people is not the easiest task. Or we can rent a car and drive to Reno. Between the cost of the bus and saving on hotels (Reno’s hotels are sometimes as much as half the price) this option sounds the best…. until we get to Bishop, wait for the Enterprise Car Rental guy who’s half an hour late from his lunch and then tells us they don’t not have any cars left.

There are no other car rental companies but there is a U-Haul and we have a better luck there. An hour later we are on our way to Reno in a big ass U-haul truck.

There are other hurdles awaiting us later in the day, who knew booking a hotel in Reno could be such a pain in the rear, but overall we have base plan set and after we figure out the easiest way to get to Chester, we will be on our way to more wilderness adventures.