Location- Lake Isabella
Elevation- 2,474 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 4 or 5 miles?
Distance Traveled Total- 669.4
Weather/Temp- clear, 90s 100s
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- annoyed beyond description
Days without shower- 0
I woke up and packed up before everyone else and began hoofing it down the dirt road with Katana on my shoulders.
The road went for about a mile before running into another, better built dirt road. No sooner did I start walking down this road, the “hot shot” wilderness fire fighting crews were heading up it. More than 50 vehicles drove past me as I sauntered down the road. Buses, firetrucks, and pickups full of hundreds of fire fighters rolled by for the 3 or 4 miles that I walked this road. I felt like a displaced refugee, making his way away from danger, as the fighting forces headed right into it. It was truly a surreal feeling.
When I hit the paved road, I began hitching, and scored a ride in about 15 mins with another male hiker named “Siesta.”
The man that picked us up was a retired gentleman named Allen. He had been a material scientist who specialized in detonation physics. I’m telling ya, you never know who you’re going to meet out here.
We spoke mostly about the fire and recent developments. Allen informed us that the trail was closed from Walker pass, all the way to Kennedy Meadows. He said the main road into Kennedy Meadows was also closed, something that had never happened before. The only road that was open into Kennedy Meadows was a very lightly used dirt road that he said took 3 to 4 hours to drive; This was due to the roughness and tight turns.
So now I’m back in Lake Isabella. I have no way to walk into Kennedy Meadows (the official end to the desert section) with my dog, and bask in the grand accomplishment of finishing the most grueling part of this journey; thirty miles is all we’ve missed it by. All foot travel is closed between here and Kennedy Meadows, so the only option is to drive in. I honestly could not be more annoyed by this.
Due to the fire, a lot of hikers got displaced, and the ones that are still coming into Walker Pass are having to find a way to drive to Kennedy Meadows. Most are ending up here in Isabella first. It’s funny, there’s two types of reactions that hikers are having to this newest development. Some are in the same boat as me, annoyed, sad, angry, at having our desert finale cut short. The other group of people are celebrating. Celebrating that their desert section is over early, and that they have 50 less miles to hike. I don’t understand it. 50 miles, after going nearly 700 is nothing; nobody out here should feel relieved about not having to complete them, they are a drop in the bucket. It’s no surprise that most of these people celebrating are the ones that have been skipping sections to begin with anyways. They haven’t been working full time, so this is simply another short cut to their false payoff.
I’m sorry for being so bitter, but I am truly not in a good mood today. I enjoy curve balls and side adventures, but this one came at the worst time, in the worst location. One day sooner, and I could have had this section behind me, and home free. I feel like Katana has been cheated (I’ll elaborate even more on this in a later blog post, and it will make even more sense). Obviously it’s a fantastic accomplishment for her to now be finished with the desert section, but she was cheated out of being able to “walk” into the famous, climactic, official desert ending point, with her head held high. Instead, the very last 30 mile section of desert will remain unfinished for the both of us, thus completely and thoroughly aggravating my OCD. Now my next challenge is finding a ride to Kennedy Meadows; not a challenge I want, nor will I enjoy. We’ll see how it goes.
UPDATE: seems the fire was caused by someone playing with fireworks. I can’t even wrap my mind around the stupidity it takes to do something like that in this environment.
After a good night’s sleep, I’m feeling better about the ordeal. Checks and balances. There is a blessing in disguise somewhere in all of this, there always is; only time will reveal it.