to Walker Pass
to Walker Pass (the final stage)
3rd October We spent a day off in a town near to Independence
called Lone Pine before hitching back up to the Kearsage Pass road
end. Luckily for us we caught a lift from two guys who we had met
on the trail at Kearsage Pass and they stopped to give us a lift when
they recognised us.
when we were hiking, people would ask us where we had hiked from and,
although we did delight in telling hikers our full story, there were
times when we would just reply with the last nights camping spot so
that we could just have a short chat then keep on hiking. On this
occasion however, I had told the two guys that we had hiked all they
from Canada and one had replied "That's amazing, let me shake
your hand!". We were both a bit embarrassed by this living in
Scotland where the norm is to downplay any achievements however it
did mean that we were recognised when standing at the side of the
road looking sunburnt and dusty.
we didn't start hiking that day 'til 3.30pm we only made it
about 7 miles to camp at Kearsage Lakes in a bitterly cold
but lovely spot. There were bear-proof boxes provided here
where we could store our food safe from bears however we were
amused to find out that this area was where 'bad-bears' from
tourist spots around Yosemite valley are air lifted out to
by park staff. We kept a careful look out that evening for
any signs of bear activity but thankfully there was none.
miles further hiking the next morning and we were back on
the PCT again and heading south on our final stage! We noticed
some lovely trees on the way south before finally crossed
the highest point of the whole Pacific Crest Trail, Forester
Pass at 13,180 feet. Lunch was eaten
over the other side of the pass in the snow in a little warm sun trap
sheltered from the wind before
dropping down onto lake dotted granite Bighorn Plateau.
passed the highest mountain in the contiguous states, Mt Whitney,
at Crabtree Meadows and since we had summited two years earlier on
a climbing trip we sped on southwards with only a few backward glances.
The meadows however were in lovely autumnal colours with patches of
snow adding to the scene. Our lunchtime ritual had now extended to
laying out the frost-wetted tent and sleeping bags in the sun to dry
them out as we lazed around and soaked up the midday sun's rays.
Big Whitney Meadows we were surprised to meet
two friendly horse riders who were also out on a backpacking trip
into the mountains. Apart from them we hadn't met anyone else
since Kearsage Pass. The spectacular mountain scenery began to flatten
out a little as we wound round tree lined peaks southward into an
granite, sandy landscape with unusual dry dead trees. We guessed that
breakdown of trees takes a long time
in this high dry climate.
a 23.5 mile day we arrived at Kennedy Meadows, a small store and campground
and for us it meant that we had cracked the high sierra mountains-
one of the undoubted highlights of our long journey. The terrain around
here was more arid with sage and manzanita the dominant plants instead
of the big pines of the higher lands.
47 miles left to our finish at Walker Pass we just picked up some
food and headed off into some hot sunshine down beside the Kern River.
Our minds were focused now on finishing and resting our tired legs.
We made it 23 miles down the trail just past a water source called
Fox Springs for our last night on the PCT. Typically for us, it ended
as it began with us running out of daylight and camping right on top
of the trail as it was the only suitable flat bit of ground we could
find. This had happened to us on our very first night out from the
Mexican border at Campo!
startled a coyote which jumped into the bushes as we set camp. We
had carried some special food for our last night and had a Mexican
gourmet meal with tortillas, refried beans, salsa, corn chips and
last day was a bit of a blur with ever increasing heat, sore feet
and a focus on reaching the road at Walker Pass. We did have time
to notice some
Joshua Tree and teddy bear cactus though before reaching the road
in a sweaty bedraggled state. Martina wrote a goodbye into the sand
on a dirt track and we assumed a familiar position by the side of
the road waiting for a hitch to a town down the road to the west.
When a driver did stop we asked him if he wouldn't mind taking a photo
of us to record the end of a long, long hike and a special experience
for both of us........
was Saturday 10th October 1998 and it was 2 weeks short of
six months since we had set out from the Mexican border in April -
we were definitely in need of a rest but elated and thinking that
we had been privileged to spend so long in the beautiful and wild
country of western USA.
Walker Pass - at last!