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Buses, Airports, and a Tough Decision About the Sierras

Buses, Airports, and a Tough Decision About the Sierras

I stepped off the bus and was enveloped in the California heat radiating off the sidewalk. Journey Man and I crossed the parking lot and took turns using the Rite Aid bathroom. We bought fuel cans from the sporting goods store next door. Town chore number one, check. We sat in the shade of the awning in front of the store, our packs propped up against the brick storefront. We sat silently in the heat, knowing we had more chores to do but also slightly paralyzed since we were returning to trail after two weeks off. 

Two weeks ago, we hiked out of Kearsarge Pass and got a ride into Bishop. We came off the PCT five days earlier than we planned. After going over Forrester Pass, which was an adrenaline rush of fear and excitement, folks in my group received messages via their Garmins regarding creek conditions and impending weather. Without phone service and relying on FarOut comments that were 5 days old, we decided to go into Bishop to do more research and talk to other hikers who had already completed the next section. 

We checked in to The Hostel California and went to the local brewery for dinner. We feverishly checked social media, updated comments on our app, and talked with a local backcountry skier to obtain more info. Once we weighed the risks, the majority of the group decided they wanted to re-enter the Sierra. Journey Man and I had a decision to make, because we had flights to go back home to the east coast on June 7th for some family events.

For the rest of the night, I studied the map and played with different mileage options. By the next morning, Journey Man and I arrived at the decision that we were not going to re-enter the Sierras. The timeline would be too tight, and there would be no buffer days in the event that we didn’t make the mileage goal one or more of the days. I knew that I would have the mentality of just pushing through in order to get out for our flight. In this case, this was not a safe mentality to hold.

Instead, we hung out in Bishop for the weekend. We greeted hikers and watched them hike on or listened to their plans to flip up. We felt a combination of jealously and excitement for them; we longed to join them. 

We took a bus to Mammoth Lakes, then to Reno, and 30 hours of flights and layovers later we arrived home on the east coast for some family events. Three days and a repeated 30 hours of flights and layovers later, we arrived back in Reno. Journey Man found a great website for the best places to sleep in various airports. It took us two days and three bus rides to get up to Burney, CA where we now sat outside of the pharmacy.

It was a whirlwind, and we were exhausted but ready to move our bodies. We picked up our gear and walked to the Word of Life church. The Burney church hosts hikers overnight for free. We weren’t expecting it, but there were about 30 hikers there!! Our friends Twist, Head Start, Mini Chimi and Turtle Wolf were among them. It was the best welcome back to trail. Everyone had their own space on the church gym floor, their gear surrounding their sleep systems. People were in different stages of preparing to return to trail from town—counting Clif bars, cooking dinner in the communal kitchen, planning miles. It was a beautiful, wonderful hiker trash moment. Can’t wait for more of these moments on the PCT trail in Northern California!!

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