Wingman from the Roadside:
It was nice to share coffee and breakfast with Runningbird this morning. We had plenty to do but I wouldn’t be thinking how bad snow fields or river crossings would be for her today. I put up a long close line from a tree to the ladder on the trailer and we hung up a backpack full of wet clothes, her sleeping bag, tent, hat, and mosquito hood. Runningbird emptied her cooking supplies, food, and everything else out on the picnic bench and bear box at our campsite to dry in the sun. I washed out her trail shoes in the river and put them to dry on a rock. She had brought three pair of trail shoes (Brooks Cascadia). The newest pair seemed to be bothering her arches and the other two are getting fairly beat up but she likes them. We watched a platoon of Marines from the nearby Mountain Warfare Training Facility jog through our campground in full combat gear and Runningbird noted the large canvas-type backpacks they were carrying. I noticed the small grenade launchers and large rifles they were hefting. We then went next door to meet the neighbors who were anxious to meet this small woman who had hiked over 1,000 miles. Runningbird politely sat down and accepted the plate of seasoned pan fried potatoes they offered her and they listened intently as she shared some of her experiences.
Mid-morning we gathered our electronics and drove the 16 miles to the town of Bridgeport and the High Sierra Bakery for coffee, pastry, and WiFi. Even though it was a week day, the small town was bustling. Runningbird took advantage of the cell service to talk to her mom while I went into the bakery and got busy with a pastry and synching the SPOT tracker with the updated interval changes we needed to make to her new tracker (that I had not properly set before setting her off with it in Mammoth Lakes) work effectively. We spent the rest of the morning updating the blog and catching up on e-mail and texts. We did a bit of research on mosquito-proof clothing which is hard to find in women’s XS in these parts. The mosquitos had been relentless on Runningbird on this last section as she commented they had already taken half her blood. Our friends Brian and Eve in the Bay Area e-mailed they had done some research for us and found that Sawyer (the same company that makes the small water purifier straw that most PCT hikers use) sells a Permethrin spray that can be applied to your clothes and works well through many washings (or river crossings) and might be easier to find. After lunch and an ice cream cone we walked the short distance to the local sporting goods store in Bridgeport, that caters primarily to fisherman, and bought their last bottle.
After returning to our campground near Sonora Pass, we repacked Runningbird’s backpack and she joyously handed me her heavy bear canister that was no longer required after Sonora Pass. (I had been told by other hikers that the local Sonora Resupply Company would buy your used canisters for $25 and send them back down the line to resell). She also would “probably” no longer need her heavy micro spikes but would take my much lighter pair of YakTraks just in case. Now she could be a bit more generous with the food that she really needed to be carrying more of. Unfortunately the little grocery store in Bridgeport was out of Snickers bars so she would have to find the calories in the supplies we already had.
While the Zero days give us some time together, they are busy days and go by quickly. It was nice to walk in town, visit the little shops, and share an ice cream together. At our campsite the sound of the river nearby is somewhat calming but there’s to be a bit of anxiousness or tension in the air the evenings before Runningbird goes back on the trail. After dinner Runningbird tried to call family and grandkids again but there was no cell service.