Wingman from the Roadside:
The road from Mammoth Lakes out to Reds Meadow (our rendezvous point) is curvy and much of it is single lane and the damage from this winter’s snow is evident. It’s no wonder its been closed until this 4th of July weekend. If you head down the road between 7 AM and 7 PM you are required to take the shuttle bus. The Forestry Service told me if you get on down the road before 7 AM you can proceed in your own car. I was heading in by 6:20 behind two other cars (speed limit alternated between 15 and 25 mph) and arrived to the end of the road in about 25 minutes. I scoped out where I could park and walked out the connector trail a bit. I tried to get back out the road before the first bus started down the road but didn’t quite make it. I pulled in my side mirror and pulled over as far as I could which earned me a smile and a thank you from the bus driver.
Later in the morning at the Starbucks in town I met a few PCT hikers who had started in early May. They mentioned how difficult the climb over Mather Pass was compared to Forester and others. The river crossings were okay for them but some were chest high and they helped each other get across.
In the campground in the afternoon I met a couple more PCT thru-hikers, Stinky Cat from Central Europe and Caterpillar (New Zealand?). The trail name Caterpillar sounded so familiar and it turned out she was a major contributor to the Water Reports that we had used on a daily basis to help get us through the Southern California sections. I thanked her for her support and contribution and hoped to see them again along the way.
Late in the afternoon I checked the tracker again and Runningbird had made great progress. Near the end of the day I noticed she had deviated off on a spur trail to Muir Ranch and this puzzled me. We did not mail a supply box there and they did not sell food so it was a bit concerning. They did sell stove fuel and a few other things but otherwise they had no phone service and you can’t get there by car.
While the mountains in the Sierras are breathtaking and Runningbird and the other visitors and hikers are seeing spectacular country that most people will never see in person, I’ll be really relieved when we get out of these sections. Until then…
Still standing by.