Day 43: Sunday, June 16

At the Independence Courthouse Motel (PCT mi 788.5), walked 26.3?? miles today

Got out of camp at 7:30, well before the others this morning; when Bow caught up to me later he said the Israelis were still chatting in Hebrew over their coffee when he left. So Mediterranean. In one example of previous years' advice not being applicable in the current one, I rock-hopped dry across Tyndall Creek, which someone in the Yogi book had said was the worst ford on the whole PCT in 2010. Got above treeline just after this and picked out Forester Pass off in the distance, recognized it from a hundred YouTube slideshows and documentaries viewed before the trip. But even getting to within a mile of it, I had absolutely no idea where the trail went or how it got up there. Found out only by walking up ... like with Whitney yesterday, Bow and I were in constant confusion about how the trail could have ever been constructed. It was a surprisingly calm and easy ascent. At the top we found Guino emitting content-less strings of words with rarely more than a 10-second pause, which was enough to drive me and many others down the other side faster than we'd planned. The views from the top were as stunning as they come, and I got good pictures, but there was to be none of this silent-and-awed-contemplation hokum.

Started racing a bit too much down the other side as we realized that we weren't going to make it out over Kearsarge Pass before most of the day-hikers packed up their cars at the Onion Valley trailhead and headed off without us. I'll probably always regret not being able to stop and enjoy this afternoon too much. Exited the PCT at the Bullfrog Lakes trail junction around 4:15, leaving us just the 8 more miles to our destination. We hustled over that, too, again taking good pictures but not really stopping to let the scenery soak in. Iceaxe (2009) in Yogi's guide had said that the hike over Kearsarge was "easy miles on a well-graded trail." Bow and I both agreed that Iceaxe (2009) should be drawn and quartered, as the trail up from the west was steeper than anything on Forester or Whitney.

After slogging over the pass and making our way down toward the Owens Valley past a series of stair-stepping alpine lakes, we got to the trailhead, found no day-hikers driving back to Independence, called up a motel, got a quote of $40 for their shuttle, said hell no, made no headway with anyone at the nearby campground, and were ready to give up when we saw one last lone day-hiker coming down the trail. He wasn't planning on driving down but he didn't have anything else to do, since he was waiting for friends to show up at the campground later tonight, so he drove 30 extra minutes each way just to take us into town. We got to Independence and Bow and I said we'd buy him all the sandwiches and Sun Chips he wanted at Subway, but all he ordered was one of the cheap $5 footlongs and refused gas money. We never even got his name. People, man.

Checked into the Courthouse Motel, which is very friendly, then farted around on our phones for a few hours reveling in the first 3G service for two weeks. Navigated the impenetrable local bus website and finally discerned that we should be able to get to Bishop tomorrow in the morning, spend all day enjoying the pleasures of a real town, and catch a return bus to Independence in the evening. So that's the plan. There is no way I'm hiking for the next 36 hours at least; I've gone way too fast over way too difficult trail lately and it's time to rest.