Flip Flop Limbo
As I left the Desert section behind me I was looking forward to hitting the reset button. I wanted to wait out the snowmelt a little bit before flipping up to Ashland, Oregon and my partner was visiting me from New York which was perfect timing. After scouting out spots in ridgecrest I could loiter in the meantime or ever consider stealth camping, I settled on a cheap hotel. A day later I got in touch with trail angel Sandy who let me stay in a bed for the night and save money. Thank you, Sandy!!!
When my partner and I reunited, we were able to drive around the Eastern Sierra in a Dodge Charger rental, reenacting every modern car commercial. We even picked up some of the first hikers to resupply out of the Sierra, who had plenty of stories and perspective on it all. Hiking and staying near Aspendell/Bishop was scenic and relaxing. Seeing the Alabama Hills and eating at the cafe in Lone Pine made for a lovely, much needed adventure without the stress of making miles or finding water. Whitney Portal is still one of the most beautiful trailhead campgrounds in California in my opinion, and it was interesting to see it covered in snow!
After saying our difficult goodbyes, I was on my own again and leaving from Bakersfield to Sacramento to Medford to Ashland on a series of buses. It only took a few days but served as a firm reminder of why I choose to escape civilization in the first place. Ashland on the other hand was a beautiful place to pass through, with really great food and lodging options. I stuck my thumb out to head towards I-5 and man named Bo picked me up. We got beers at Caldera while watching skiing videos, and I still can’t think of a better way to become initially acquainted with the state of Oregon.
Changing States of Matter
My first climb out of town was up Pilot Rock, a very interesting volcanic plug formation that makes for a prominent landmark in the area. The trail was dry for a solid 36 miles as I hiked into the Hyatt Lake area to grab dinner, and beyond. Eventually the snow made itself known with a bit of wet postholing, muddy trail and a surprising amount of early season mosquitoes. These would become a reoccurring theme. Abrasive sections of dry but rocky, volcanic trail were absolutely gorgeous to say the least.
When I arrived at Lake of the Woods Resort I was starving but luckily able to sit down enjoy possibly the best meal yet: a grilled artichoke sandwich with peppers and goat cheese on sourdough bread. The beer selection was also pretty ideal, so I treated myself to a red ale crafted by Boneyard Beer. As the sun got lower in the sky, a couple set up on the stage and began playing covers and I believe some original songs on the lake. I took a swim and felt I got everything I possibly could from this side trip without actually taking a zero.
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