We left early from Bird Spring Pass. Might as well we figured, if the wind wasn’t going anywhere we were. We had a climb out of the pass but it was beautiful and once we crested the top we could see trees for miles. Trees mean shade. Shade is good.
Our plan for the day was to get down to Walker Pass, stay for the night, and then hitch into Onyx the next morning to get our packages that we had bounced forward. We also had a food resupply waiting for us and a sandwich shop to visit. However, at our first break of the morning we discovered, during some casual Guthook glancing, that the P.O. didn’t open until 11am the next day. 11am?!?! We couldn’t wait that long to go to the post office, we still had a long twenty plus mile day to do afterwards. After some more finger counting math we figured out that thanks to a early departure and a fast morning pace we could still maybe make it to the P.O. before they closed at 3pm. Maybe. Twenty miles before two. That’s pushing it to say the least. But we had something else motivating us. As I mentioned in the last post our no cook attempt had left us pretty low on food. During our second break of the day the reality of our situation really sunk in. We had very little food. Things were dire. We needed to get down to that sandwich shop in Onyx, stat. If we hadn’t been hiking fast before, we did now. We were practically sprinting. Luckily for us it was mostly downhill and the trail was gorgeously smooth. We rolled through the Walker Pass Campground at 1:45, running towards the highway. We threw down our packs where cars could see them, put up our sun glasses, and started thumbing.
Every car that passed us seemed to be filled to the brim with stuff. Finally a car pulled over but as the driver rolled the window down it was clear the car was pretty much already full with other hikers. With room enough for one more the quick decision was made that I should go, since most of the packages were in my name. The boys planned to keep hitching and meet me at the post office or the sandwich shop.
It took about two minutes in the car for me to realize what a terrible mistake I had made. The man driving was a horrible racist, who was so intent on showing us pictures on his phone of his cheating pornstar wife that he was swerving all over the road. Luckily I only had fifteen miles in the car with him. The other two hikers were getting a ride all the way to Kennedy Meadows and I was worried for their lives. At one point he came to a full stop on the highway, scrolling through his picture and telling us about his multiple DUIs. When we got to the Onyx post office the car hadn’t even come to a complete stop before I was leaping out of it and sprinting inside. I waited at the post office until the boys finally called me from the sandwich shop, it had taken them almost an hour to get a hitch. Meanwhile, I had met a nice old Mexican man named Leon who gave me his number and told me to call him when we needed a ride back to the trail. I began walking to the sandwich shop but was picked up by someone after approximately twenty five seconds. In those twenty five seconds some leering man, who was standing on his bone dry front yard, had given me the willies by asking me too many creepy questions. These are many of the things that it means to be a woman in this country, and traveling with two men I had been estranged from them for a couple hundred miles. But one hour alone in Onyx and it all came flooding back.
The sandwich shop in Onyx is so much more than just a sandwich shop. It is an old timey candy shop, with a deli and a cold case filled with olives and pickles. On top are case are jars filled with real Italian made pasta of all different shapes and sizes. The shop is run by a very tiny top heavy woman with fly away white hair and a raspy bubbly voice. She is wonderful, it is wonderful, and the sandwiches were out of this world. The only thing she didn’t have was a book for Cameron, who had finished his the day before. Well, she did have books, but they were all cook books and I can’t think of a more cruel and unusual punishment than making a thru hiker read a cook book on trail. When we exited the store and we’re waiting out front for our new friend, Leon, to pick us up, Kyle informed us that he was pretty sure the proprietress turns into a witch at night. Who else would have a store filled with candy? Cameron and I protested, but now that he mentioned it the trees did look a little creepy in the dying sunlight. Leon showed up in the nick of time and spirited us back to Walker Pass. I spoke about three words of Spanish to him, including the word for cowboy, his chosen profession, and that seemed to impress him very much. By the time we made it back to the campground we were all the best of friends.