11 and I take the bus to the Onyx General Store. There are signs outside that say “no photography” so I want to check it out. It’s very “olde tyme” with lots of copper pots and pans hanging from the ceiling. I tell the owner that we’re trying to hitch back to the trail and she hands me a pre-made PCT hitching sign. I stand with 11 and minutes later we’re in a pickup with a father and son. The son has a summer crew cut and the dad is singing to the country music playing on the radio.
We meet Pig Pen and Blox at the trailhead. We’re all super excited. This is the last of the desert! Goodbye to water caches, forced night hikes, and arsenic-uranium-cow water. Goodbye everything pokey, sharp and cactus-oriented. Hello Sierras!
It’s still desert, but I can sense some changes in the terrain. The peaks are more rocky and rugged. There are more trees. But there are still snakes, scorpions and odd desert dwellers. 11 and I hike 11 miles and call it a night.
The next morning we hike to a spring and come across V and Stealth’s tents. They are still asleep.
There is supposed to be a spring 1/4 mile down the trail, but it is nothing but a drip. We re-encounter Blox and Pig Pen and all stop 8 miles later at a spring with good flow.
There’s nowhere to rest, so we sprawl out on the trail and create a hiker net. Soon we catch V, Stealth, and Julian. It’s actually cool in the shade and we doze on our mats, covering our bodies with our puffies.
14 miles left for the day and we all converge again on a flat spot with soft sand and low shrubby plants. It’s actually cold tonight. Just 19 more miles to Kennedy Meadows!