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 rode the bikes to the grocery store and I bought way too much food. But I wasn’t about to run so low again. I weighed my full pack back at the hostel and was shocked to see that it totaled 30 lbs! That’s got to be the heaviest it’s ever been. But considering all the weight I have lost, it evens out in the the wash. I was probably down below 120 lbs when I first came out of the mountains.
Cruising Main on our rad bikes. I loved Bishop.
Because of the distance and timing to get to Mt Whitney for a planned 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. Isn’t it amazing how an unfortunate event can turn into something so positive?
I got to spend time with Norma and all her relatives that were visiting her for the weekend. She has a lovely family and home and is perhaps the most quintessential grandma. I had a weird 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, but I was surprised to get up and over easily. We found a perfect campsite amongst boulders 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!