Day 62 (Saturday, June 18): Diaz Creek (741.65) to Horseshoe Meadow Campground via Mulkey Pass (744.51), (2.86+1.7) 4.56 miles. (up/down: +850/-667)
I made it through the night. The Diamox made me have to pee like a race horse though – getting up 3 times in the night. It was still hard to do anything this morning. My brain still felt like it was going to explode and it was hard to move (both from being weak and lightheaded). I wasn’t hungry but knew I had to consume something, so I brewed up some coca tea and had some fruit snacks. I ever so slowly packed up camp as I saw Honey was still in her tent and neither of us were in a huge hurry.
Today’s climb was the slowest yet. I thought I my legs were going to give out and/or I would just fall over and pass out. We (Honey and I) were barely making a 1.75 miles an hour, but boy was I glad to have some one with me. As we got higher and further, we stopped for breaks more frequently. Many hikers passed us, one was going just about as slow as us. Roscoe – we liked him! Finally we made it to the first pass that would lead us into Lone Pine just before 10 am.
Hooray! But it wasn’t over. We still had about 2 miles to the campground with no guarantee of a hitch. Thankfully the hike was all downhill to the beautiful meadow providing vast views of the Sierra Mountains (including Whitney), streams and wildlife. We got down to the stream in the meadow and took a short break on a rock enjoying the views and envying the last uphill climb, even though it was maybe only 60-75 ft.
We had made it to the Campground!…Well the road to the campground. The closest facilities were about a quarter mile up. I was still feeling like shit and instantly dropped my pack on the side of the road. Roscoe and Honey thought about walking down the road East towards Lone Pine. I sat and didn’t move an convinced them that this was the only road up or down. If we walk down, anyone leaving might pick up hikers behind us first. So we stayed where the trail met the road. Honey and I took the short but excruciating walk (felt like the worse possible hangover) to the bathrooms and water. We thought we say trail magic, but just turned out to be a group hanging out for the day – bummer. There were a lot of folks out day-hiking, and we knew we’d be able to get a ride from someone when they finished – but that could be hours from now.
We walked back to our packs, which sat just behind the sign marking Bear Country. Now that we were not moving and there was a slight breeze, we felt a bit chilled and laid on the pavement..ooh that felt nice. Within moments we were blocking a white SUV heading out. They probably would have stopped regardless, but they offered us a ride! They had just dropped off their kids and picked up another hiker on the way down with just enough room left for the 3 of us and our packs. The ride down to Lone Pine was INSANE! I knew we were up pretty high, but when you’re in it (the mountains) there is really no reference point as the valleys are still very high. As soon was we come over the ridge, holy shit, we were high! It was like coming over a roller coaster, only multiply the drop by 100. After a long drive down full of switch backs, and thankfully my fruit snacks and quarter of a Bobo’s bar stayed in my stomach, we pulled into Lone Pine.
First stop was the Whitney Portal Hostel where I would spend the next night or two. My brain and body was still very foggy but could feel a very minor improvement. Honey and I got cleaned up and headed over to Alabama Hills Cafe for lunch and to do laundry next door. Delicious! If I had the money, I would have gone 3 times in a row like Honey over the next day and a half, but I had to save my change. At least I had enough left overs to last me until lunch the next day.
Over the next day and a half, I am pretty sure I walked the length of Lone Pine at least 20 times in 100 degree hat. That is not hard to do when the main part of town stretches only half a mile. After the first day, I was feeling much better! The first night in the hostel was with Honey, Anmie (who I met in KM), a dad and 16 year old son, and a young guy. A good group who shared lots of goodies (whiskey, muddy buddies, chips and guac), laughs and solid conversation. Silence and lights out by 9pm. On Sunday, I tried to walk 2.5 miles along the highway to the visitors center. I got halfway, said screw it and turned around – at least I got some steps and sweat in. The second night was not as peaceful. A new group of hikers came to stay – these one’s enjoyed to party. Finally by about 10 we made them turn the light off.
The PCT is constantly testing you…this was my first big test. I had to make a judgement call for my well-being. Tomorrow I would take the bus to Bishop and meet my aunt and uncle who would bounce me up the trail. There was no way I could go back up 10,000 ft. Whitney would have to wait.