Monday, February 27, 2017

Day 20: Bear! Bear! RUN!!!!

I woke up to beautiful, clear skies. Karolina was still sleeping in her tent, but I got up and wandered out into Grouse Meadow to admire the views and watch the beginning of the sunrise. I was out there for a couple of minutes when I heard something off to my right at the far side of the meadow. I looked over and saw a small, black animal moving towards the river. A bear! A bear! It's a bear! It splashed into the creek. A skinny dipping bear! It wasn't sticking around in the water, though, swimming across quickly to the land on the other side.

I went out to admire Grouse Meadow and take this photo, when I heard it... a bear! (Unfortunately, I got no photos of the bear. But the bear swam across the creek on the other side of the meadow. This is bear-infested water!) Eventually, it would head up that slope and into the trees on the right.

I knew Karolina would want to see this since she had never seen a bear before--not in the wild, at least. Heck, I've seen lots of bears in the wild still get a thrill out of seeing of them! I rushed over to her tent and scratched on the fabric. "Karolina!" I whispered urgently.

She let out a small scream.

"Shhh! There's a bear out here!"

She mumbled something unintelligible, still half-asleep.

"There's a bear walking through the meadow, and if you want to see it, you need to get up now!"

In seconds, she was unzipping her tent and poked her head out, then the rest of her body quickly followed.

Karolina followed me out into the meadow, barefooted not even wanting to waste time putting on shoes.

The bear had moved behind some brush in the meadow and was difficult to see, but we'd catch sight of the moving black mass between bushes getting only the briefest of glimpses of the bear. It continued moving along the far edge of the meadow, further and further away from our vantage point. There was a small boulder next to the creek--and we climbed up it for a better view. The bear continued ambling away, getting smaller with each passing second. Then we'd lose sight of it for several seconds, then see it flit between two bushes. "There it is!" we'd whisper excitedly to each other.

It slowly moved along the edge of the meadow for about five minutes, then veered directly uphill into the trees. At this point, it was just a black dot, not even recognizable as a bear, and it became increasingly difficult to follow after heading into the trees so I called it quits. The bear sighting was over.

Karolina continued to watch a bit longer but eventually followed me back to the campsite.

We were both thrilled to have seen the bear, and I told her about what she had missed--the bear splashing into the river and swimming across. I'd never seen a bear do that before, and it was kind of exciting to see it do something new like that. =)

I couldn't tell her how long the bear had been in the meadow. I didn't notice it at first until I heard it make a sound and when I looked over, and there it was. It could have been there all morning for all I knew. Neither of us got any photos of it, and even if we had, we were never close enough to have gotten anything but a small, black, blurry dot.

"Why did you scream when I woke you up?" I asked.

"I thought a bear was attacking me," she replied. I shook my head. So apparently, Karolina had trouble telling the difference between me and a bear.

By now, Karolina was wide awake, which I was happy about. The weather forecast for later today was decidedly unpleasant and the earlier we got started, the better. More time hiking with clear blue skies in the morning, and less time hiking in miserably cold, wet weather later in the afternoon.

Before we left camp, we decided that it was time to put an end to Madam Butterfly's suffering. She had carried herself the first day, floating over our heads. On the second day, she couldn't stay afloat anymore, but we carried its half-inflated carcass on the outside of the pack. Today, though, we decided it was time to pop her so we could add her to our trash bag. But we wanted her empty of air so it wouldn't take up so much space.

The death of Madam Butterfly

I was put in charge of deflating her, which I planned to do by jumping on it. It didn't work very well the first time I tried it because the air shifted from one part of the balloon to the other, but the second time around I arranged the balloon so the air had less space to shift and got it to pop with a loud, satisfying boom. (Although I'll note that in the video, my camera didn't really pick up the loud booming sound, so the video is a bit disappointing.)

With Madam Butterfly officially dead, we soon got going on the trail, although I couldn't tell you at what time because I failed to make a note of it in my journal. We hiked for a couple of hours, taking a short break near Deer Meadow, but angry-looking clouds were already starting to roll in. Much earlier today than in previous days. That didn't bode well.

While taking our snack break, we heard the first thunderclap and a short while after that, she the first lightning flash across the sky. We cut our break short and pushed on and it started to sprinkle. Not a downpour, but a very consistent sprinkle making sure we would become thoroughly wet. Blah.

We passed a large group of people camped just off the trail who had build a sizeable campfire and set up enormous tarps across their site. When we were in Bishop, we had heard that there was a campfire ban and Karolina asked if that was an illegal campfire. I hadn't really paid much attention to the details of the ban since we're too lazy to create campfires, but as far as I knew they weren't supposed to. We had considered stopping early for the day near that location, but neither of us wanted to camp near such a large group building a possibly illegal campfire (not that either of us were concerned about forest fires given the wet conditions at the moment) with their house-sized tarps set up everywhere and pushed onward without stopping.

Then we started climbing the Golden Staircase, a relatively steep section of trail that zig-zagged up a narrow canyon with fantastic views looking out. Although the views would have looked a lot nicer had they not been so full of so many angry-looking clouds.

We passed a couple of people doing trail work on the Golden Staircase. It looked like they were building new steps into the staircase, and they were caked with mud from head to toe from their work in the wet conditions. I thanked them for their trail work, but it was much too cold and wet to stop for an extended chat and we kept moving.

Then I suddenly put two and two together and realized that the large group we had passed at the bottom of the Golden Staircase with the possibly illegal campfire and giant tarps--I bet they're part of the work crew. Most of them decided to take the day off because the weather was so crappy and kept the campfire burning because if it went out, they'd have a lot of trouble getting it started again. But if it was a work crew, that would explain the semi-permanent state of the camp we had passed. They might be camped in the same spot for the better part of a week, and they likely had horses that brought up all that gear like the giant, heavy tarps. It all made sense now. Although if there was a campfire ban in the area, it seemed like they would be setting a terrible example by lighting one illegally.

We continued marching upwards, getting wetter and wetter along the way. The wetter we got, the colder we got. The cold started seeping into our bones despite our exertions while climbing the Golden Staircase. We stopped briefly to add an extra layer of clothing, then immediately pushed on again. I didn't pull out my umbrella because it was still just a very light (but persistent) sprinkle. I'd use my umbrella when it started raining harder, but the hard rain fortunately stayed away.

By 1:30 in the afternoon, we had reached Lower Palisades Lake. We'd only covered 7.7 miles, but we had written a particularly short day into our schedule today because of the weather forecast we had seen back in Bishop. We had reached our minimum goal for the day, and it was only 1:30 in the afternoon!

Karolina helped me quickly set up my tarp. I was grateful for the help and a little surprised that she wasn't setting up her own tent. Then I realized that we wanted to wait out the rain under my tarp because it had more room than her tent. Ahh.... Sneaky.... =)

So we got my tarp up, then ducked into it wrapping up in our sleeping bags to stay warm. And not a moment too soon because within a couple of minutes, the heavy rain started falling in torrents. Buckets and buckets of rain.

We were both low on water, but neither of us wanted to go out in the rain to collect water from the nearby lake--but why would we? It was raining after all. And hard! We just had to collect runoff from my tarp.

I threw my pot under one of the streams flowing off my tarp and collected enough water to last me for the entire night in about 20 minutes. Karolina seemed astonished at how much water I could collect in this manner in such a short period of time, all without getting wet in the rain, and proceeded to do the same.

About two and a half hours later, the rain had finally stopped, and another hour or two later, the clouds had mostly blown away as well. By sunset, the skies were mostly clear and we could see a fresh powder of snow--snow!--on the mountain tops surrounding us. It had snowed today! Not at our "low" elevation of 10,610 feet, but there was probably a dusting of snow on Muir Pass where the trail goes over just a few miles away.

After the rain stopped, Karolina left the confines of my tarp to set up her tent and we both sat out under the open sky to cook dinner and relax for the rest of the evening. And that was the end of our day.

Beginning the climb up the Golden Staircase. (This is looking back from the direction we had come.) The weather had certainly taken a turn for the worse!

I like saying the phrase "Golden Staircase." It just sounds so wonderful, doesn't it? But here's one of the series of switchbacks that defines it. =)

Karolina collects water from the stream running off my tarp into her cooking pot. It probably took all of about five minutes to fill up the pot this much!
When the rain stopped and the clouds started to part, we could see a dusting of freshly-fallen snow in the mountains surrounding us. Yep, it was definitely cold!
Once the rain had stopped, Karolina went out to set up her tent next door.
By sunset, the skies were only partly cloudy and not particularly threatening at all. It was beautiful!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Day 19: Rain! Thunder! Lightning!

Karolina and I woke up with clear, blue skies. Gorgeous! But Karolina reported not sleeping very well during the night with all the rocks underground. We hadn't set up camp at a nice, flat piece of ground, but rather in a boulder field which gave us quite a few good-sized lumps under our sleeping area. So she didn't sleep well and would feel tired all day.

That boulder doesn't look too stable, does it? =)

One thrilling moment for Karolina was when we stopped for a break and a hummingbird flitted around. She'd never seen a hummingbird before! Unfortunately, we weren't able to get photos of it. Much too small and fast. I couldn't tell you what kind of hummingbird it was--they all look pretty much the same to me--but it was a fairly typical-looking hummingbird that got Karolina very excited. *nodding*

Later in the morning and into the afternoon, ugly clouds started rolling in. We took another snack break at around 3:00, near where we finally rejoined the JMT after leaving it four days earlier. Karolina also used the time to take a short nap and then it hit: a sprinkle. A light sprinkle started to fall.

We had a choice to make. We could stop for the day right then and there. It was fairly early in the afternoon--only 3:00, after all--but if we set up camp immediately we could get out of the rain and stay dry. If we continued on, we might get drenched.

We had not yet reached our minimum distance for the day, though, and we didn't want to start falling behind schedule on our first full day back on the trail, so we decided to risk it and keep going.
We picked up our heavy packs and moved on, cutting our break short.

The sprinkle continued going for about 15 minutes before tapering out, and I was almost completely dry by the time we reached Grouse Meadow--our goal for the day. It still looked like it could rain at any moment, though, so I set up my tarp and within minutes, the rain had started again. I'd gotten it up in the nick of time! Karolina set up her tent nearby, but joined me under the tarp for dinner since there was a lot more space under my tarp (even with two of us) than in her tent, and she could safely cook dinner from under my tarp which she couldn't do in her tent.

And that's when the rain started coming down hard, with lightning and thunder cracking through the sky. BOOM! Yep, we finished in the nick of time.

The rain eventually tapered off again, and the thunderstorm passed by. After dinner, cleaning up, and writing in our journals, Karolina headed back to her tent for the night fairly early--ready for a good night's sleep that didn't have a lot of rocks poking at us from the ground.

A proper campsite! =) That's my tarp in the background while Karolina's tent is in the foreground.
Sunset from Grouse Meadow, adjacent to our campsite. Beautiful!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Day 18: The Polish Route

It was time to get back on the trail. We only planned to do a half-day of hiking today, so we took our time getting up and eating the continental breakfast at the hotel and finally packing our backpacks for the hike. Before leaving town, Karolina wanted to stop in a couple of stores to buy earrings and.... well, something I'll tell you about later. It'll be a surprise! ;o)

And finally, we were ready to hit the trail again, with Madam Butterfly in tow. We decided to set ourselves up on the road out of town that we had walked in on earlier since anyone going in that direction would be going in the direction we wanted. I also wanted to walk out just far enough that we wouldn't waste our time trying to hitch rides from people who were traveling a couple of blocks to the post office or wherever. We needed people who were leaving town. And I figured we'd be best off trying to hitch a ride so far out near the edge of town as practical, and at an intersection with a signal. The signal would force people to slow down or stop and increase the likelihood that they'd pick us up. And there was a wide shoulder that would allows cars to easily pull over to pick us up. That was the theory, anyhow.

Karolina shows a little leg to help us hitch a ride.

We arrived and started our attempts at hitchhiking at precisely 11:56 AM. I know because I checked the time as we stuck out our thumbs for the first time. Karolina thought it was odd that we stick out our thumbs to hitchhike in America. How do they do it in Europe? I've never tried hitchhiking in Europe before, but apparently it doesn't require a thumb. Maybe wave at the passing cars? But how would they know you were trying to hitch a ride rather than just being friendly?

I took some photos of Karolina trying to hitchhike, and told her to show a little leg. Come on! We need a ride! The photos were kind of farcical with Madam Butterfly floating around in the background. I hoped it didn't make us look too ridiculous. I wanted everyone driving by to think, "Those are hikers. I might not normally pick up hitchhikers, but I'll pick up hikers." Madam Butterfly does not make anyone look like a hiker.

"Make sure our packs are readily visible to anyone passing by," I told Karolina. "We want them to know why were out here and where we want to go."

Several cars drove by, but none stopped. The noon hour clicked by, and we were still there, waiting for a kind soul to pick us up.

At exactly 12:01 PM, a car with two people pulled over next to us. Yes! We got a ride! It took us five minutes, but we got a ride!

The two were a couple driving home up the road somewhere. For some bizarre reason, I never wrote their names in my journal and now I've long since forgotten them, but they squeezed us into the backseat of their car and drove off. They lived in a house somewhere pretty far up the road and I figured they'd drop us off along the way, perhaps at the turnoff for South Lake, which was okay. It got us closer to our goal, and at least at that point, a lot more of the cars passing by would be going to our destination, but they graciously drove us the entire way to the trailhead. They seriously went out of their way to help us out!

On the drive up, we passed a couple of strange-looking vehicles. Dark, tinted windows and they looked to be mostly covered with some sort of dark fabric, and our trail angels explained that the cars were new designs of car companies that were being tested out. This area, apparently, is a popular place to test new car models, but being new models, they cover and disguise the cars so people can't see it until they've officially been announced. Very interesting!

This bizarre-looking car could get me in trouble for taking photos of it! But I took photos anyway!

Further up the road, they spotted one of the test cars parked near an outhouse and stopped next to it so I could jump out and take photos. Awesome! The note on the window said that this car model was a trade secret of Hyundai/Kia Motors, unreleased to the public, and attempts to take photographs of the interior or exterior without permission would be regarded as unlawful and infringing their rights and may be "strictly penalized upon laws concerning Trade Secret Protection."

That, however, did not stop me from taking photos. Mostly because the car was all covered up with its ugly fabric and I'm pretty sure nobody cared about that.

We soon arrived at the trailhead and thanked our trail angels. I offered to give them money, even a little if for no other reason to help pay for gas considering that they drove so far out of their way for us, but they wouldn't take it saying their car was a hybrid and didn't use much gas anyhow.

We spent a few minutes at the trailhead getting our affairs in order. We put on our hiking shoes (both of us chose to wear our camp shoes while hitchhiking), pulled out our trekking poles and started hiking with Madam Butterfly tied to our packs. I was a bit worried about Madam Butterfly. On the ride to the trailhead, she swelled considerably given our rise in altitude from about 4,000 feet to 10,000 feet. It was already full of helium back in town, but now the ballooned looked like it was positively readily to explode. I tried to see if there was a way I could let a little air out, but it appeared to be seam-sealed with no way to allow just a little air.

Back on the trail by South Lake.

Hopefully it would hold together. Once we crossed Bishop Pass another 2,000 feet higher, it was all downhill.

But a couple of miles into our hike, I heard a distinct hissing sound coming from Madam Butterfly and when I grabbed it, I noticed it was considerably less full than before. Madam Butterfly had sprung a leak!

"Karolina! We need to stop now! We need to get photos while Madam Butterfly still has air in her!"

So we stopped to do a quick photo shoot with Madam Butterfly. I tried to see if I could find the leak. Maybe we could tape it or something, but the balloon looked entirely intact. There was definitely a leak, but neither of us could find it.

We took a few photos, and some videos of us walking around with Madam Butterfly for possible use in the music video later, then Karolina carried it the rest of the afternoon. "Madam Butterfly," Karolina told me, "obviously doesn't like you."

I think Karolina just wanted a turn at having her pack lighter.

Numerous other hikers, of course, asked about the balloon. Some asked why we had it, and we'd tell them it was to lighten our load. And then they might ask how it was working out, and Karolina would tell them that her only regret was not getting more of the balloons. =)

Madam Butterfly had trouble with the high altitudes, but she did enjoy flying!

Despite the leak, the balloon continued to stay remarkably full. We were still rising in elevation, so that made some sense. Now that the pressure inside the balloon wasn't so great anymore, the leak had slowed considerably, and as we rose in elevation, it would expand the air that was still in the balloon to fill up the part that was lost. The balloon would continue to float on its own power for the entire rest of the day and into the next morning!

Although we didn't know that then. We just knew it had a leak and had no idea how much longer Madam Butterfly had left to fly.

Late in the afternoon, we passed the small pool of water where we had camped three nights earlier and it had changed considerably. The water level was far lower, and no water was running into it anymore. The water that used to be so cold it was genuinely painful to put a hand in while filling up my water bottle was now merely uncomfortably cold. Whatever water source had been feeding the pond until our departure two days earlier had obviously dried up. It was now just a stagnant, warming pool of water. It was surprising to see such a dramatic change just two days later. We used to be able to hear a stream running under and beside the trail before it ran into the pond, and that sound was gone as well. I figure it was being fed by one of the small patches of melting snow and whatever patch was feeding it finally melted away for the season. This water source was now closed.

As we approached Bishop Pass, ugly clouds started rolling in and at the top of the pass, we felt a couple of light drops of rain. Rain?! It wasn't supposed to rain today! The top of the pass was our minimum goal for the day, though, and we brought enough water to spend the night at the top, so we quickly set up camp and I set up my tarp for the first time of the hike.

While setting up my tarp, I needed some rocks to hold the stakes in place and picked up a rock that turned out to be covering poop--with toilet paper and all. Ah, great.... I put that rock back, but seriously? I was kind of surprised at the discovery because it was probably four feet off the trail in plain view. Who does a poop that close to the trail in plain view?! I wished they would have gone further off trail or actually buried the darn thing.

The rain never materialized, but just before sunset, a few people hiking in the other direction arrived and we struck up a conversation, which included my saying something like, "You're almost there!" Which I often do, even when it's clearly obvious that they aren't.

Then they said that they weren't actually heading down the trail, but rather going to go off trail to climb up a mountain ridge, follow it around, eventually going back down. And the route he proceeded to describe sounded like it would require a lot of technical expertise, including ropes and such. "That sounds like the hard way," I said.

"It's the Polish route," he replied.

This perked up Karolina's ears. "The Polish Route?" she asked. "Why is it called the Polish Route?"

"Because we're stupid to be doing it," he replied. "We're Poles."

And I thought... Oh, crap.... Karolina thinks that's the actual name of a route. This could get awkward....

"I'm from Poland!" Karolina continued on, still unaware about exactly what he had said.

"You're both from Poland?" he asked, suddenly realizing that calling it the "Polish route" might have been a mistake.

"Well, she is," I said, pointing at Karolina. "My accent is Californian, though."

We talked for maybe another 10 seconds or so, then the group continued onward. After they left, Karolina turned to me and said, "I don't think they're really from Poland."

"No...." I replied. "No, I don't think so either."

"Then why did they say they were Poles?"

Ah, yes... leave me with the task of explaining about Polish jokes.

So I had to explain that, in English--or at least in America since I wasn't actually sure about England and other English-speaking countries--Polish jokes and blonde jokes are essentially interchangeable, and Poles are stereotypically stupid.

"So when he said he was doing the Polish route and that he was Polish," I explained, "he was saying he was being an idiot and stupid. If he had realized earlier that you were Polish, he probably wouldn't have used that terminology."

It was a little awkward for me to explain that we have jokes that make fun of her entire nationality. They're just jokes, and generally as harmless as blonde jokes, but Karolina is proud of her heritage and I wasn't sure how she'd feel knowing about that. She mostly just seemed confused rather than angry or insulted. Like a joke that she didn't understand, because she really didn't understand it. They don't tell Polish jokes in Poland, after all. They tell concentration camp jokes instead. =)

So that was how Karolina learned about Polish jokes.

After dinner, we wrote in our journals, then read aloud The Journey In Between about Fozzie's hike of the Camino de Santiago. That's a trail we had both done before so were quite familiar with it, and Fozzie was a fellow I met during my PCT thru-hike. I thought I had his PCT book on my Kindle which would have been incredibly appropriate since we were hiking a section of the PCT, but surprise! I didn't have his PCT book on my Kindle, so we started reading his Camino book instead.

Then we headed off to sleep for the night.

And a video with Madam Butterfly, for possible use in our music video. =)

I'm in camp, with Madam Butterfly watching over me. =)
The clouds spit out a few drops of rain, but as it turned out, setting up my tarp hadn't ended up being necessary.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Day 17: A Zero Day in Bishop

We decided to take a zero day. Our first zero day of the trail. After the mad-rush to get all our tasks done in Mammoth Lakes, Karolina saw the wisdom of occasionally taking a day off just to relax and take it easy.

Karolina pretends she's about to catch this dog painted on the wall.

So she slept in late, until 9:00 or so. The only reason, I think, she eventually got up was because our hotel had a continental breakfast, but it would shut down soon if she didn't get up and moving.

The breakfast wasn't particularly noteworthy--just a typical hotel breakfast that had cereals, fruits, yogurt and waffles. Not the good waffles either, that you make on the fly with the waffle iron, but rather frozen waffles that get toasted in a toaster.

But Karolina thought the breakfast was wonderful and seemed surprised that it was free. Well, not free... but part of the price of the room. I guess she wasn't used to staying at "fancy" hotels, but this was merely a Travelodge. Certainly not top-of-the-line stuff, but apparently fancier than Karolina was used to.

She did need some help with the breakfast, though. For instance, she copied me when she put the waffles into the toaster, but didn't realize that she needed to push the level down start the toaster and after waiting awhile before asking how they should go for, I had to let her know that she was going to have a very long wait at the rate is was currently going. She didn't know what an English muffin was (although she had been to England several times) or what to do with one, and asked how the coffee machine worked. Not being a coffee drinker myself, I actually wasn't much use for answering that last question. =) I could guess, though, and I proceeded to do just that.

Karolina admires the duck crossing sign. "We don't have these in Europe. It's so... American!"

After breakfast, I was put in charge of doing laundry. I went to the front desk to get quarters and a small box of laundry detergent, then started the laundry going and went back up to the room to kill time until it was ready. About 10 minutes later, I found a box of laundry detergent in my pocket.

I gasped when I found it. I forgot to put soap in our laundry?! Those clothes were nasty! They needed soap! I rushed back down to the laundry room and quickly added the soap, hoping it wasn't too late to get the job done. Karolina seemed to think my forgetfulness was funny, so at least she got some enjoyment out of it.

When the clothes finished washing, I took a whiff of them to see if they still smelled like hiker clothes, but they seemed to be a in a suitable state of clean so I moved them over to the dryer and finished them up.

With our laundry done, we were no longer tied to the hotel and left to go out and check out the town of Bishop. We stopped in all the outfitters. Karolina seemed particularly fascinated with a sign store. She wanted to buy a JMT or PCT sign, but I had to remind her that she'd have to carry it down the rest of the trail and eventually she let the idea go. "Anyhow, you can probably order one online later," I reminded her.

We stopped for lunch at Denny's. She wanted to try a "real American diner" and it was the closest I had seen to such a thing, although it wasn't the traditional 60s kind of diner I usually think of when I think "diner." But they do like to call themselves "America's diner" so it seemed strangely appropriate since Karolina wanted to see a real "American diner." Presto!

Karolina really wanted to buy a sign.... She did not, however, want to carry it down the trail!
After eating lunch, we stayed at Denny's taking full advantage of the bottomless sodas and hashed out our plan of attack for the next section of the trail. It wasn't quite as difficult to figure out as this last stretch had been. We were more in the wilderness now, but we had a 7.2-mile option to resupply over Kearsarge Pass about 40 miles up the trail, which wasn't so bad. Or about 80 miles to the end of the trail. So it mostly just a matter of deciding if we would resupply over Kearsarge Pass--which would take longer, but require us carrying less food--or trying to push the entire distance to the end of the trail without any additional resupply stops.

Ultimately, we decided for the extra resupply stop, planning a leisurely pace that would require us to carry 8 days and 7 nights of food. It was probably more than was strictly necessary, but it was still one day less of food than when we left Mammoth Lakes and--more importantly--checking the weather forecast, we saw that it was expected to take a turn for the worse. We might want a couple of very short days if the weather was particularly wet and cold. So we set up a schedule assuming especially short days of hiking during those bad-weather days, and a leisurely 10 miles/day pace the rest of the time.

When we finally left the Denny's, it was late in the afternoon and the sign for the Motel 6 showed that the temperature was 97 degrees out. Karolina, who wasn't used to the Fahrenheit system didn't need to be told that that was hot! She could feel it! Almost immediately the temperature dropped to 96 degrees, and she wanted a photo of herself with the sign in the background. I don't know what the high for the day was, but it seemed unlikely that we saw the sign at the high for the day. It had probably dropped several degrees from its high already. It might have even cracked 100, I told Karolina, but unfortunately she wouldn't have a photo to prove it.

Later in the evening, we headed to Vons to do our grocery shopping and resupply for the next eight days on the trail. We also went next door to Kmart so I could buy an SD card for my camera. Originally, I had planned to copy photos from my camera to my laptop to make space for more photos, but now that my laptop was broken and no longer with me, I couldn't copy photos off and I needed another SD card for more photos.

Even the buttons to cross the street fascinated Karolina. So much so that she had to take a photo of one! Of course, I had to take a photo of her taking a photo of one, because that's the part I found amusing. =)

We also picked up a few snacks and goodies that we didn't find at Vons like Orchard-flavored Skittles.

I should also point out... in Vons, we picked up a new friend that Karolina named Madam Butterfly. It was a helium-filled balloon and we got the idea in our head to attach it to our packs like we were trying to lighten our load. It could be part of our music video, and we both liked the absurdity of carrying a giant, helium-filled butterfly balloon into the wilderness. =)

"And it doesn't weigh anything," I pointed out. "Throw it in the air, and it flies away!"

So we bought Madam Butterfly, our newest travel companion for the next section of trail.

Finished with our shopping, we decided to grab a late dinner at Taco Bell on the way back to the hotel, but it had closed already. It closed at 9:00, and when we arrived, it was 9:02. Argh! Two minutes? We missed it by two minutes?!

Fortunately, there was also a Carls Jr nearby and they were still open, so we grabbed dinner there before heading back to the hotel.

Karolina had purchased a beer--an American beer that she'd been craving since we had left Mammoth Lakes--but it was a bottle and neither of us had a bottle opener. I guess she didn't think to get a can or something that she could open on her own, but I had a plan.

I took the beer to the front desk of the hotel and ask if they had a bottle opener we could use. The desk clerk did, although it took her a few minutes to find it. Crisis averted!

Karolina drank her beer, then it was off to sleep. We needed our rest, for tomorrow, we were going back to the trail!

Lots of murals in Bishop!
The wildlife in Bishop was so tame!

It was a hot day! And the temperature was already dropping!
We picked up a new traveling companion: Madam Butterfly. She would help make our loads lighter and carry our packs! =)