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PCT 2019: Day 51, McIver's Cabin to Walker Pass

Catch a ride to the end of the highway

Hike with Gravity

Today was the last nero day of the desert. We were going into the town of Ridgecrest, where we could resupply for our last section to Kennedy Meadows.

How we would get there was still up in the air before we began hiking, but we had options. We could hitchhike, call a shuttle driver, or catch a bus.

Date
Weather Partly cloudy with temperatures in the 70s, warming to the low 90s in town
Trail Conditions Minor ups and downs, then long but easy descent
Today's Miles 8.3 miles
Trip Miles 653.3 miles

Yes, a bus makes stops at the trailhead and it only costs three dollars. The schedule wasn’t ideal, though, so that would be our last option. At least it was available today. It only picks up at Walker Pass on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

We also had other options for what town to go for resupply. Besides Ridgecrest, we could go to Inyokern, Lake Isabella, or Kernville.

I’m glad we decided on Ridgecrest because that’s the only nearby town where I could rent a car. I plan to do that when I return there after reaching Kennedy Meadows, so this trip will give me a chance to make sure everything was located as conveniently as I thought it was.

Knowing we had only a little more than eight miles to walk today, we could take our time packing this morning.

We also hoped that by delaying our departure, we’d be giving Rainbow Sherbet a chance to catch up to us. Everyone was ready to leave at 8 a.m. and we left together.

We walked back to the trail on the same bumpy road we walked yesterday. Where the road met the trail, MJ said she would wait there for Sherbet to catch up.

At the junction, the trail left the road and continued on an easy footpath. It was a pleasant section all the way down to Walker Pass.

After following a ridge about 2.5 miles, the trail began a long, 1,800-foot descent to the pass. Near the top I could see the pass below me, as well as the Sierra Nevada farther ahead.

One part of the trail had large clusters of arrowleaf balsamroot. It is a member of the aster family and is common in the far west part of the U.S.

This wildflower was eaten in a variety of ways by several western tribes. They would ground it into flour for cakes, mix with it with other foods, and use it as cooking oil.

When Meriweather Lewis collected samples of arrowleaf balsamroot in Oregon during the Lewis and Clark expedition he noted, "The stem is eaten by the natives, without any preparation."

Along with the arrowleaf balsamroot, I saw some scale bud. These wildflowers are also common in the west, but are more likely to be found in desert climes below 7,000 feet.

They get their name from the scaley appearance of the flower bud before blooming.

We reached a trail register near Walker Pass at 11 a.m. and talked of waiting there for MJ and Sherbet. Then we decided that it would be better to wait by the road in case there was an opportunity to get a hitch.

The bus wasn’t scheduled to stop until 1:40 p.m., and none of us wanted to wait that long if we didn’t have to.

Attempting to hitchhike was futile. A few large trucks passed us, but only one car stopped. The driver had just one seat available, so we thanked him and said we would continue to wait.

The cell signal here was not very good, but Gilligan was able to get enough of a signal to call a shuttle driver named Sebastian. He said he could pick us up for $60 and could carry all six of us. That didn’t include MJ and Sherbet, though, who had not yet arrived at the road.

A short time later, they walked up. We told them about our shuttle driver and said maybe they could fit in too, even though we had no idea how big his vehicle was.

MJ and Sherbet decided they would attempt to hitch, but that didn’t work out any better for them than it had for us.

When Sebastian arrived, he had no problem taking all of us, though it was a tight squeeze in his Toyota Forerunner.

Sebastian dropped us off at the Budget Inn, which lived up to its name. It was so low-priced the desk clerk doled out single-use packets of soap and shampoo to each of us as if they were gold nuggets.

Our rooms weren’t ready yet, so we ate lunch first at a diner next door. The rest of the day was spent with showers, laundry, dinner, and shopping for resupply.

We only needed to shop for three days and two nights on the trail.

I now have just 50 miles to go to reach the end of the desert section and the end of my wonderful time with the Woohoo Crew.

Catch a ride to the end of the highway
And we'll meet by the big red tree,
There's a place up ahead and I'm goin'
Come along, come along with me
Come on the risin' wind,
We're goin' up around the bend

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