May 26, 2018
When I woke the next morning in the same position I’d fallen asleep in, I knew it had been a solid nights’ rest. Good thing, too, because once we got up into the mountains we’d be getting up before dawn to hit the trail, not to beat the heat but to beat the snowmelt. But not this day. This day was a zero day because we wanted to spend some time in Lone Pine before heading north. We knew none of us would probably ever be back here.
We got breakfast at the Alabama Cafe, which for me included the biggest piece of chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten! Not the healthiest breakfast, but I’d seen it when we stopped in the day before and had been thinking about it ever since.
After that we went to the film history museum, where we learned all about the history of the area and all the great movies that had been filmed in the Alabama Hills or had used the Sierra Nevada as a backdrop. Most of the greatest Westerns ever made had been done so right there in Lone Pine, as well as the first Tremors movie and certain scenes from Django and The Gladiator. It was pretty interesting.
While we were perusing the museum, news of the trail started pouring in on social media. Another snowstorm had rolled through while we were galavanting around down south, but we figured the snow had had plenty of time to pack and should be safe to traverse. The first indication otherwise came from my Australian friend River. She’d posted on Facebook that she and her crew had decided to skip the Sierra for now and were hitching to Dunsmuir to hike south for a while.
I messaged her to ask what was up and learned that the snow beyond Kearsarge Pass was so bad that many hikers were hitching north to hike south and hit the Sierra later in the summer after the snow had had a chance to melt. Even Darwin and Tang, a solo hiker we knew who’d gone up a week ago, had come back down to hitch north. Those who’d tried had only made it about a dozen miles before turning back, saying that the snow was waist-deep and soft and they were basically digging their way along the trail. Sparky, Ghosthiker, and I contemplated this news, wishing it had come a little sooner. Most of these people had hitched north days ago and were already making their way south.
We’d been so geared up to hit Mt. Whitney that making the decision to follow the crowd and skip north was a little disheartening, but seemed like the smartest thing to do. Most of the rest of the afternoon was spent working out the logistics of such a skip.
Exhausted after all the changes in my brain, I went and sat by the pool for a while even though it was crowded and the sky was overcast and I listened to music for over an hour. Since we aren’t going to be hiking tomorrow after all, I skipped a shower and went to sleep.