Mile 627 to Mile 652, Walker Pass
7 weeks on trail! I can't believe this crazy journey has come so far. And we are finally in spitting distance to Kennedy Meadows - I can't remember the last time I was so excited to move on to a new chapter!
Once again, I didn't sleep a wink last night. Well, not until 3am - and alarms went off at 3:30. Awful. I snoozed for a while (it seems the only time I CAN sleep these days is when I definitely shouldn't be sleeping...sigh) Hit the trail by 5am, which isn't too bad, and managed to catch an absolutely magnificent sunrise - one of our last in the desert! It was nice to be reminded of the beauty here, especially towards the end. The cache at mile 631is the last water source for at least 33 miles, and is maintained by the same trail angel who stocks the previous cache. Without these two caches, there would be a stretch of well over 50 miles without water on trail. Everyone who provides trail magic is an angel in my book, but the woman who maintains these two caches is probably the most important and unsung hero of the trail. As we arrived, Trail Angel Mary pulled up in her blue pickup truck to do her daily restocking of the cache. This woman defines angel - she's probably in her 80s, lives in the middle of the desert, and singlehandedly maintains both caches during hiker season from the well on her property - shuttling over 100 gallons of water to the trail every day during hiker season. We helped her unload crates of gallons to the trail and tie them such that once drained, empty bottles won't blow away. The crates are heavy - I could hardly carry them - but this is Mary's daily routine for months of the year! She told me that she has sleepless nights worrying about hikers out in the desert without enough water. This section would have been incredibly challenging without Mary's help. I'm consistently amazed by the generosity of strangers on this trip.
We hustled to the top of the mountain after filling water bottles and the climb was refreshingly easy! I hustled my short legs up that mountain with the fear of heat in me, and I was on top before I knew it! We cruised through pines and forest the rest of the day. Took a lunch break under some shade and LunchBox caught up to us, on track for a 30 mile day to Walker Pass! We wanted to make it to Walker Pass before dark, because rumor had it there was the possibility of trail angels and root beer floats. Imagine my surprise when I rounded the last corner to see a cluster of tents in the campground filled with people providing more trail magic! The one and only Yogi of hiker fame - she is the author of our guidebooks - and a handful of others including Jackelope and others served us cold drinks and cooked dinner for the dozen or so hikers who arrived as well. I went to bed with a full stomach and the knowledge that I'm only 50 miles shy of the Sierra Nevada. Life is good!