I had planned on leaving Kennedy Meadows North today, but storm warnings, mixed with needing to blog, mixed with realizing that I’ll arrive in South Lake Tahoe over the weekend when motel rates are higher, reinforced my decision to stay.
I feel slightly decadent lying in bed and typing on my phone. I go downstairs and order a tuna sandwich. I do a little resupply in the general store (I find a 660 calorie blueberry muffin – heaven!). The three Canadians hitched here from Reno. They microwave burritos and leave. Some section hikers arrive. It starts to rain for real. I talk with Thumbs Up about reproductive health, St. Anthony and old New York.
Thunder and lightning add to the mix. It’s a full on storm. Kim Chi, Storybook, Humming Bird, Stealth, Julien and some other hikers arrive looking like well-drowned rats. They were caught in the same situation I was in yesterday. There is laundry to do, showers to take. Dinner to eat.
We’re all concerned about the weather forecast, but we’re in an information black hole. No cell reception, no internet. On top of that, Kim Chi is concerned about her friend Short Rib who was also caught in the storm and hasn’t shown up yet. Tony, a handyman who works at KM, seems to understand the hiker paradox. We are both an incredibly independent and an incredibly needy race of people. We are in constant need of various things – rides, cell reception, snack- sized Ziploc baggies, encouragement, a better way to filter our water, high calorie (yet lightweight) food, internet, places to stay… He offers to drive the 9 winding miles up to Sonora pass to see if Short Rib may simply be waiting for a hitch. He also offers to find more detailed weather info, and even asks the cook to play guitar for us tonight at the saloon.
Short Rib eventually shows up on his own and we all head to the Saloon. Brendt, the breakfast cook, asks me to choose some songs on the jukebox. I head over and crack up laughing. It’s all country music. Seriously, not my area of expertise. He dumped enough change in the machine for 27 songs. I do my best – picking out a mixture of songs I recall for my childhood like “I love a rainy night“, musicians that transcend the genre, Willie Nelson, and blind guesses. I guess I do an OK job- Brendt pulls me into the empty “dance floor” and wants to two step. Again, I’m pretty clueless here, but he’s a decent teacher and after a couple of songs I sort of have it.
Christian and Renato, two cowboys at the ranch who take guests on horse/mule pack trips, are celebrating not dying. Christian buys round after round for all of us. He was out with a couple during the storm when the trail washed out and the animals and guests were spooked by the thunder and lightning. One of the guests was losing it and the animals were going nuts. Somehow, he kept it together and all animals and people got back safely. The other cook – looking like Sam Elliot in the Big Lebowski -plays Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, and the Doors. We sing along.
Times like these always remind me that the thru-hike is everything that happens along the way, not simply the adventure on the trail. A totally rich rainy day.