Monday, March 13, 2017

Day 26: Return to Kearsarge Pass

I didn't sleep especially well during the night, tossing and turning for a couple of hours. There was no particular reason for this, and it was frustrating not being able to sleep well. By morning, when it was time to wake up, I felt like I got about three hours of sleep. Somewhat surprising to me, only one person was still in the room when I left at 7:30 in the morning. Everyone else had already gotten up and left for the day.

We ate breakfast at the Alabama Hills Cafe. The Alabama Hills are famous for their rock formations and is where a lot of movies, commercials and such have been filled, is just a few miles outside of town. The mural on the wall included a lot of the rock formations.

Karolina and I met up in the morning and headed to the nearby Alabama Hills Cafe for breakfast where Karolina ordered a solid American breakfast with "real American pancakes." Then we headed back to our respective rooms at the hostel to pack up and hit the trail.

I took another shower and packed up my bag, then waited out on the second-floor patio for Karolina.

The day before, we had purchased materials to make a "hitchhiking sign." Strictly speaking, we could have just stuck out our thumbs like we had been doing, but we wanted a sign as a photo op and for possible use in our music video, and why not? I let Karolina draw in a hiking boot and a smiling sun for the sign because she does such a better job of it than I could.

I work on hitching us a ride from Lone Pine to Independence. (That Subway in the background is not the one where I bought my sandwich. I did that at the Independence Subway.)

It took all of about 10 minutes before a car pulled over and picked us up. Our benefactor today was Matt, heading back to the bay area where he lived. He took us about 15 miles up the road to the small town of Independence.

Before leaving town, I wanted to grab a sandwich for lunch at the Subway, so I left Karolina with my pack and in the shade and headed into the nearby restaurant. I also picked up a couple of cookies and a soda because hey, why not?

When I returned, Karolina asked me what "loitering" meant.

"It's what you're doing," I answered. Just kind of sitting around doing nothing in particular for no particular reason. =)

"Then why did you leave me under this 'no loitering' sign," she asked.

Hmm.... I hadn't noticed that before, but indeed, she was sitting directly under a sign that read, trespassing and loitering was "prohibited by law."

I teased her about having no respect for American laws and customs. =) Of course, we now had to take photos of her loitering underneath the sign.

Karolina loiters under the 'no loitering' sign. No respect for American laws! =)

But enough shenanigans--we had a destination! We still needed to hitch to the Onion Valley trailhead 13 miles away! This, I knew, would be a much tougher hitch because this stretch of road wasn't all that busy.

In all, it took us about 25 minutes to get a ride--by far our longest wait yet. And yet, only about 5 cars passed during that time. So time-wise, it took us awhile to get the ride, but we did get a ride with a fifth car to pass which wasn't bad at all.

This time, Ed from Pasadena picked us up. He was planning to camp at the campground by the trailhead for a couple of days then summit Mount Whitney as a day hike. He had gotten one of the limited permits for Whitney Portal. "Maybe we'll see you at the top," we joked, "but we're taking the long route."

Of course, we wouldn't see him at the top. We didn't expect to arrive for four more days and he'd be done and gone before then.

He dropped us off at the trailhead. Before starting out, I ate half my sandwich, the cookies and finished off the drink so I could throw the trash away before getting on the trail where I'd be stuck with it for the entire rest of the trail. I would have eaten the whole sandwich, but it was too much for me so soon after breakfast.

While sitting around the trailhead, Karolina noticed a couple of guys at the water spigot. They had just come down from the trail, shirtless, well-built and apparently looking somewhat sexy (I'll have to take Karolina's word on that) and they ducked their head low under the spigot to get their hair wet.

She thought that looked "so American!" She was impressed.

"Bah!" I said. "That's nothing. I could do that. I'll even do it if you take some photos," I offered. Might be useful for the music video later. Or some laughs.

She agreed, and when nobody else was using the spigot, I bent my head under it and got my hair wet.

Karolina was unimpressed said I was doing it all wrong. I had to take off my shirt.

"But... but... it's hot and sunny outside! I'll burn!"

"Nope, it's just not American if I don't do it with your shirt off."

So I took off my shirt and did it again.

She still seemed unimpressed, but she didn't complain about my doing it wrong anymore

I do an "American impression" of getting my hair wet under the spigot while not wearing a shirt. Karolina didn't seem impressed as much as she was when the other guys were doing it.

"Did you want me to take your photo of getting your hair wet while you're topless?" I asked.

Of course, she had no interest in that. "Not the same!" she told me.

"Hypocrite!" I joked back. "Maybe if there weren't a dozen people standing around?" I asked.

"Not going to happen," she insisted. Figures....

I soaked my shirt in the water and put it back on. I did feel like my skin was burning just from the couple of minutes I had it off. The temperature was quite warm out, and the water wonderfully cold.

Done with our shenanigans, we started hiking at 12:15 in the afternoon. Our minimum goal was to get over Kearsarge Pass today, but ideally we wanted to make it back onto the JMT. It was a fairly late start in the day, but the JMT was only 7.5 miles away. It might be doable!

That's the Onion Valley trailhead and parking lot down below.

We made it to Kearsarge Pass by 4:00, and after a nice, long break where I finished the last of my sandwich and took a short nap (I was tired from my lack of sleep the night before), we pushed on and reached the junction with the JMT at 6:30 in the evening where we quickly found a place to set up camp for the night.

I wound up skipping dinner altogether. That Subway sandwich filled me up quite a bit, and I was still digesting it by dinnertime. I ate a few snacks for dinner instead.

Late in the night, just as I was about to go to sleep, I saw a spark of light on my pillow. Static electricity! It was chilly enough that I was wearing my gloves, and I swiped it against my pillow inadvertently, and there was a soft snapping of static electricity. So this time, I deliberately rubbed my hand against the pillow and it was like a lightning storm! Way cool!

"Karolina!" I said, getting her attention. "Look at this!"

I rubbed my hand against my pillowcase again, and a whole storm of electric sparks shot out. It was mesmerizing! I wondered about the physics of it. I'd never noticed this before. Had it always been capable of doing this? Was the temperature and air pressure ideal at the moment for this sort of thing? Did I need this glove with this pillowcase for it to work, or could other gloves or pillowcases work? I had just washed both the gloves and the pillowcase--would it work if they were dirty of days or weeks on the trail? I'd have to experiment with this more.... Find out if I could recreate this effect on a regular basis.

I tried to take a video of the effect, but the flashes of light were too small or too short to get captured on film. I probably spent a half hour rubbing my pillow watching the sparks fly. Absolutely mesmerizing....
Karolina had to order the "American" pancakes again.
I work on getting us a ride from Independence to the Onion Valley trailhead.

Working for that ride! And maybe a video for use on our music video....

Karolina is surprisingly strong!

That's Kearsarge Pass in the distance!
Big Pothole Lake
I eat the last of my Subway sandwich at the summit of Kearsarge Pass.
The haze we first saw the day we went over Kearsarge Pass on our way out to resupply was still there, but it didn't seem as bad today. That's a good sign!

Bullfrog Lake

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