Wingman from the Roadside:
If we had more earthquakes during the night, I didn’t feel them. After coffee and a bowl of cereal (with North Bend blueberries) I drove north to Mammoth Lakes area to scope out the situation. Runningbird and I had planned to make our next rendezvous point “Red’s Meadow Campground” where I would get a campsite and wait for her. The Red’s Meadow campground road is the closest point to the PCT near Mammoth and extends west from town into the Sierras and then south past Devil’s Postpile. The problem is, with the record snowfall they’ve had, the road has been closed. All recent reports said they were trying to get the road opened for the 4th of July weekend. So when I left Runningbird at our last resupply west of Kearsarge Pass we agreed she would hike the short distance in off the PCT to the Red’s Meadow campground store and plant herself there until I arrived. If the road was still closed, I would just have to find a way out there and get her. Thus my drive up there to learn my options.
Well guess what? The road is open, but the campground is closed because the sites are still covered in snow. Okay, the story is getting too long. So, the ranger station where I got all this information is next door to a USFS campground, which was full, except for the one guy that was leaving while I was standing there. I’ll take it! Paid my fee to the camp host and drove the 2+ hrs (a Sunday of the 4th of July weekend) back to Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills, hooked up the trailer, said goodbyes to the neighbors, and am now back in the Mammoth Lakes area.
Here, at the “New Shady Rest Campground, I have 3 bars on the cellphone to watch the tracker and conveniently there is a Starbucks with WiFi across the highway.
I’ve had some concern today as Runningbird’s tracks didn’t start until late morning which is totally inconsistent with her routine so far and it showed only minimal mileage. I consulted the PCT “Snow and Ford Report” and saw that other hikers experienced slow progress going up Mather Pass as well. There was heavy snow and the trail was hard to follow in places as it had been covered by recent avalanche activity. I’ve been down this worry road with the tracker before and there turned out to be a simple explanation. Aside from the Snow Report there were half a dozen other reasons that could explain the delay and short day. For one, how about she’s just tired and taking a break? Most other hikers do it and sometimes for two or three days. Still I have concern. Standing by.
SPOILER ALERT! It is now the next day (Monday, 7/8) and Runningbird was on the move early this morning and making tracks. Faith…