September 27th & 28th, 2018
Independence to Bishop, then back, then up to Onion Valley Trailhead and over Kearsarge Pass.
Distance: 6 miles, plus a whole lot of cycling and walking around town
I’m combining these two days for simplicity. I spent most of the time in Bishop. My one goal for this town time was to eat as much as possible to regain my strength, and I did a pretty good job.
I started the first day with a big breakfast at the hotel, followed by a pizza for lunch and sushi rolls for dinner. I had really been dreaming of sushi and hot sake for some reason and the town just happened to have a Japanese restaurant. I know sushi doesn’t sound very filling but the rolls were big. Plus, I snacked a lot.
We easily hitched a ride to Bishop, where we checked into The Hostel California (THC, and also very THC-friendly). It was a great place that I had heard a lot about. A bunk was only $25 and there were tons of amenities…most importantly, free bikes. These were hardly needed, since everything was within a block of the hostel: the library, 2 laundromats, 2 outdoor gear stores, and lots of restaurants. The hostel also had free loaner clothes for while we did laundry. I got all my chores done easily and efficiently. I would say this was the best trail town yet.
Small town with a big backyard.
There was even a shop with my name.
The next morning, we went grocery shopping and I bought way too much food. But I wasn’t about to run too low again. Because of the distance and timing to get to Mt Whitney for a sunrise climb, we didn’t need to do a full day of hiking out of town. So we took it pretty easy, even stopping at the local brewery for lunch.
This turned out to be a mistake, since Stellar somehow left his wallet there. We hitched a ride 40 miles back to Independence and only realized it was missing after we got there. We pondered the dilemma while perched on a curb in front of a very nice house and yard. Just then, an adorable little grandma came out, offering lemon cookies. Simultaneously, her son-in-law arrived in a black Charger. He offered to drive Stellar all the way back to Bishop to get his wallet while I waited at the house.
I got to spend time with Norma and all her relatives that were visiting for the weekend. She has a lovely family and home and is perhaps the most quintessential grandma. I had a wierd impression of Independence up to this point, now I just think of lovely Norma and it brings a smile to my face. I hope I can go back to visit her someday.
Finally we got a ride back to the trailhead with a local trail angel, Jen, and were hiking towards Kearsarge pass by 5 pm. I thought I would struggle under the excess weight of my pack (30 lbs when I weighed it at the hostel!), but I was surprised to get up and over easily. We found a perfect campsite just about 2 miles off the PCT. I had wanted to at least make it back to the main trail but it was getting dark. Regardless, it had been a great couple of days and I felt rested, warm, and not starving. I was ready for the last few days in the Sierra!