I can’t wait to get to Lake Isabella. As I hike, I dream about drinks with ice, about a shower, and about shade I don’t have to follow. Namaste and I hike fast and soon find ourselves at Walker Pass. We follow the trail to the highway and begin the job of hitching. It takes about 20 minutes until a tattooed mom picks us up. She drives for thirty minutes and drops us at a gas station. Then an older gentleman with lots of cardboard in his car picks us up and drives us to our destination.
Lake Isabella is a dusty, rough affair made up of tweakers and retired folks. The eponymous lake is sad and drying up. The haze from a nearby forest fire tints the air. There are two motels.
We’ve been warned away from the Kern Motel because of everything from bed bugs to bad service, but it’s close to a super market and a diner and Shiny and Half Double are there. Mountain Goat, Namaste and I get a room, crank the air conditioner, and take showers. My body is so thankful. I collapse on the bed.
We’ve heard great things about Nelda’s Diner and all of us head over. We are not disappointed. The food is huge, they have 80 varieties of shakes, and the wait staff is great. I have four glasses of water and three glasses of lemonade. My body is thrilled to have something besides arsenic-uranium-cow water. I return to the hotel and fall asleep.
Duckats, Stealth, and V get a room at the hotel too. We return to Nelda’s for dinner and return to the hotel and sleep some more. In the morning, Mountain Goat informs us that the toilet is overflowing. He finds the manager who hands him a plunger and three hand towels. This must be why the Yelp reviews are so harsh. We put our packs together, vacate the room and go back to Nelda’s for breakfast.
Levels and $inyk show up. They are dirty, sweat stained, and exhausted like we were yesterday. We learn from them that everyone is skipping that last section. They are all getting rides to Lake Isabella from the Kelso cache. We all feel pretty bad ass.
I spend the next day moving to a new motel – the sweet and hiker friendly Lake Isabella Motel – and do trail and project chores. It’s almost too hot to leave the room and all I really want to lay on the bed. 11 and I are going to hike out together in the late afternoon. We’ll take a bus to Onyx and then hitch back to the trail from there.