Date: Thursday, 01 June 2017
Start: Camped at McIvers Spring, 0.3 miles east of the PCT at Mile 643.8, 6693 ft
Finish: Walker Pass, Hwy 178 crossing, at Mile 652.1, 5276 ft
Daily Miles: 8.3 PCT, +0.3 from McIvers Spring
Total PCT Miles: 652.1
Weather: Cold early, then warm and sunny
Accommodation: Lake Isabella Motel
Breakfast: Patty melt and fries
Lunch: Tuna sub and two choc chip cookies
Dinner: Chicken enchiladas, rice and beans, and ice cream.
Highlight: The 2000 ft descent to Walker Pass in the early morning, with a light pack, was superb. Early on there was the sight of the sun gradually illuminating the desert far below to the east, and then later the soaring mountains to the west and north with Walker Pass wearing a lid of light cloud. The sandy trail wound down through silent forest with the scent of pine in the air.
Lowlight: None really
Pictures: Click here
Position: Click here
Map: Click here for Google Map
Despite a very cold night and a chill breeze in the morning, I made myself get up at 5:00am and be on the trail by 6:00am. It was about 8.5 miles to Walker Pass and Highway 178, and my plan was to be there by 9:00am, in time to catch any later morning long-distance commuters, and then hitchhike to the town of Lake Isabella, 37 miles away. If I got a lift reasonably quickly, I could be in town by 10:00am, in time for a cooked breakfast.
My pack was light, with virtually no food and no water, and the walking was easy. The only hold-up was the need to stop and admire the fantastic views over the desert and mountains and take photographs. It was just great.
My plan was working out as I approached Walker Pass just before 9:00am, though I could see two girls already hitching a hundred metres just west of the Pass, and when I reached the Pass, there were two guys already hitching just east of the Pass, all no doubt aiming for Lake Isabella, which according to the trail notes was a notoriously difficult hitch because of the distance. I thought the fair thing to do was stand between the two groups and try my luck. About the fourth car that came along stopped and picked me up, no doubt to the astonishment of the other hikers. However, I didn’t quite make it to Lake Isabella by 10:00am, because it turned out my driver, Ken, a really nice ex-US Navy helicopter pilot, was tailing a friend towing a boat the friend had recently purchased, with the plan to take it for a brief test run on Lake Isabella. Ken was then continuing onto Bakersfield to have some work done on his car. So I ended up sitting beside a boat ramp, catching up on email and my blog, while they took the boat for a run. I was in no real hurry, and was content to wait. Ken then dropped me in the centre of the small town of Lake Isabella soon after 10:30am, and I was having a late breakfast in a bar by 11:00am.
Later, I tried to pick up my new mail-ordered sleeping bag liner sheet (the aged old one is literally disintegrating) from the Post Office, but it hadn’t arrived. On checking the parcel tracking, I found the address had been rejected by UPS because I had put “Please Hold for PCT Hiker” in the second address field. Not good! I changed the address online and hope it arrives tomorrow, because the PO is not open on Saturday. If not, I’ll have to leave some kind of redirection, but I really need it. I’m always a bit grimey when I go to bed, even if I have had a flannel wash, and the easily-washed sleeping bag liner saves my bag from becoming really stinky. This sobering experience alerted me to the possibility that the same thing could have happened to the Walmart food deliveries I had ordered online, and sure enough, the one going to a Post Office had suffered the same fate. Lesson learned! After a very unsatisfying online chat with Walmart customer service, I gave up and reordered the same food, leaving out the offending address line, and will wait for Walmart to refund me for the original returned food.
After lunch, I was given early access to my motel room (very basic) and they said I could do my washing in the motel machines for $6, which I did after a shower, and while that was happening I visited a dental surgery, where the friendly receptionist gave me an appointment for tomorrow, when the dentist is back in town, to get my detached crown reglued, with luck.
Dinner was at a local Tex-Mex, which was OK, and food shopping for the next three days hiking will happen tomorrow. I think my stomach must be shrinking, because it doesn’t take much food in town to make me feel really full. I guess that’s a good thing.