Miles: 9
Camping: Chicken Spring Lake PCT mile 750.83
I’m getting rid of the hikers seen on trail bit.

I was the fist person awake at the hostel at 6:15. I wanted to pack up, but I didn’t want to disturb the other people in my room, so I went to breakfast first. I went for a lighter meal today (standard 2 egg breakfast), as the hiker hunger starts to decline after sitting around for a few days. I’m more antsy than ever, but my feet have felt great the last two days, and it’s time to move on. I only planned to go as far as Chicken Spring Lake to take it easy on myself the first day out. Besides, hanging out at an alpine lake after the desert and being stuck in town sounded divine.

I packed up my stuff when I got back to the hostel, and hit the main drag to hitchhike to Lone Pine. I got a ride pretty quick, and they took me halfway to Independence. The closer I get to my destination, the more traffic will likely be headed where I want to be, making it easier to get a ride (I’m pretty good at hitchhiking). Within minutes, I was picked up by a nice man who used to work for the park service. He brought me to the road I would need to get up in order to get the trail, which was right by a restaurant. I decided to have a second breakfast, as I began to question if I had enough food for this leg. They say altitude makes you hungrier, but maybe it’s the extra work of climbing. I’d be hiking up over 11,000 ft today!
After second breakfast (french toast and sausage), I proceeded to attempt a ride to Horseshoe Meadow. This wouldn’t be easy, as it’s out of the way and a lot of people don’t go up there. I stood there for about 30 minutes, not seeing much traffic, when a man pulled over. He didn’t know where it was, but decided he didn’t mind the adventure. He is from Oregon, but currently lives in Arizona. He’s on a road trip with an elderly friend up to the Oregon Coast, and he is keen to explore. Lucky me! It was a long winding road that climbed right up the mountain, way out of his way. There was nothing else up there besides a campground and the trailhead, where I was so happy to be let out. I thanked my ride and offered gas money, but he didn’t accept it. People constantly amaze me out here! He even picked up a hiker heading down the hill after dropping me off.

It was 2.5 miles back to the PCT from Horseshoe Meadow, and it felt so good to be right back where I belong. It was such different terrain than I’ve been used to, finally in the Sierra. Meadows, granite cliffs, streams and trees all welcomed me along the sandy path. I walked slowly, savoring the feeling of being back in nature, taking care to pay close attention to my feet. My pack felt especially heavy, with a few days off and the added weight of a bear canister. We have to carry the 2 pound monstrosity for 300 miles. It’s cumbersome, but required, and I’m sure I will get used to it in a few days. I plan to take my time in this section, as there is no need to rush…even though I’m eager to catch up to my friends. They can’t be more than a day ahead of me, and there is a chance they will wait for me until tomorrow at Crabtree Meadows. That is base camp for Mt. Whitney, which is so exciting!

The hike today brought me over 11,000 ft, and I didn’t feel much effect from the elevation. I was slow, but that was expected. I have never had too many issues with altitude, so I’m not worried, but I know others have a hard time adjusting. The terrain is beautiful, so different and welcoming. I’m ecstatic to be out of the desert and in the Sierra, I walked through a forest, crossed 3 streams and 2 meadows before arriving at the lake. Definitely not the desert anymore.  The lake is surrounded by towering granite cliffs and hardy alpine pines, the water pristine. I’m camped beneath a tree above the lake, and though it is windy, I’m happier than ever just to be back in my tent, living from my backpack. I’ve lived through wind before, and up this high it is cold, but I don’t mind. This is where I’m supposed to be, and once again I find myself smiling to the simple thought, “I’m on the PCT!”

the stuffed bear can