The next couple days were constant ascents to around 11k feet/3350m. Higher altitudes don’t bother me as much after having spent almost 12 months of my life living in Yellowstone, but lots of others are struggling and cutting back daily mileage. As a general rule, people generally go only 70% as far each day in the High Sierra as they did in the desert. The gentle slope of the PCT is nothing compared to the high altitude hikes my friend Dani and I used to do on our weekends in Yellowstone.
A couple days into the hike in the Sierras I started having some pain in my heel. It obviously wasn’t bad, since I did 14 miles (22km) by 11:30, but was compounded by a dried up water source and not having recent info on the upcoming streams. So, I decided to hitch the 20 miles into the small town of Lone Pine and take a day off to rest and nurse my foot in Epsom salts.
I got a ride from Horseshoe Meadows Campground with a Vietnam vet who was out mountain biking, and he decided to pickup another hiker along the way. I think his name was Groak. He seemed pretty insane, and didn’t stop talking the entire way down the innumerable switchbacks to the valley floor. I ditched him as soon as I could and got a bunk at the hostel, where he ended up too.
He pissed everyone in the room off by doing drugs and talking nonstop about the stupidest things. He tried to sell me shrooms, which I politely declined. Long story short, things escalated around 9:30pm and the police got involved. He was arrested, which he resisted while trying to fight the officer, and the hostel worker had to help handcuff him. Then I finally got to go to bed without somebody tripping in the room and creeping us all out.
The next week and a half or so I’ll be retracing my steps on the John Muir Trail, which is a spectacular trail I did last summer through the Sierra Nevada. It’s been a fun and deeply bizarre adventure so far. Darko, on his 13th anniversary at KM, said, “I didn’t realize the PCT takes us to the most eccentric places in the United States. I can’t believe we still have 70% left and we’ve already seen all this crazy shit.”