Bullfrog Lake Junction – Kearsarge Trailhead Parking Area
Everyone was so excited, this is always obvious when the entire group wakes up at 4:30am to start the day. It was four miles to the top of Kearsarge Pass hiking for the most part on a 40 degree slope of rock and ice. It was no easy task and we all made sure to take our time and not feel too rushed to get to the top. Once we got to the tip-top the rest was all downhill to a parking lot where we’d be trying to hitch down into Independence. Coming down was so much more sketchy than going up . . a slip here and you were going for quite the ride down to a frozen lake. Using crampons I felt pretty confident but every now and then I would catch my other leg with a spike, which did not feel good and broke the skin a few times.
We made it to the parking lot around midday where there were copious amounts of hikers all trying to hitch the fourteen miles into town. Our chances weren’t looking good so we decided collectively to start walking and hope that someone would have pity on us and stop on their way down the mountain. A few miles in we got so lucky, a gentleman and his wife stopped and we piled into the back of his pickup truck. He dropped us off in the small town of Independence located in between Lone Pine and Big Pine on HWY 395.
We went immediately to a convenient store and bought snacks and drinks and hung out with the other dozen or so hikers there before heading to Main Street (HWY 395) to catch a hitch up to Bishop. In order to catch a quicker hitch the group split up into two leaving myself, Lt. Dan and Rooster to fend for ourselves. Maybe twenty minutes or so passed before a young guy pulled over and offered us a ride. He was recently out of the military and had just found out that his wife was cheating on him with a friend from back home while he was serving, and so he had packed his car up and hit the road with no destination planned. He struck all of us as someone who could potentially snap, his ‘off the wall’ comments were definitely a slight cause for concern . . but hey, we made it to Bishop unscathed!
The rest of the day was filled with Pizza Factory and beer, and later we ended up staying at the Days Inn Motel. Much later that night we made an appearance at Rusty’s Saloon where we ran into other hikers and shared some laughs about the trail thus far. Good times.