Saline Valley Road to Highway 136
08 October 2016
I slept better last night, though it was still short. Alarm at 4a, hiking by 5a. Given that I set out both sleep-deprived and dehydrated, I’m actually doing really well. Seems sheer will power can overcome a lot.
I took some extra time last night to hang and bombproof everything before I rolled out my sleeping bag. There was a critter, some sort of small fox or weasel, who was really curious last night. He tracked me for the last quarter mile and lingered around my site last night. He seemed harmless. I wonder whether he was the one who raided my resupply. Whatever did that must’ve been really hungry. Let’s just consider it a user fee. I mean, I am trespassing. I left my extra water and food trash at Saline Valley Road. I’ll swing by and grab it on my way back East after my trip. One advantage to driving rather than flying out from Durango.
The entire hike today was on roads, mostly 4WD. I cruised to Cerro Gordo via the standard route. Arrived after just 11 hours. Pretty easy walking. Even the climb wasn’t very steep compared to Telescope. I elected to skip the Cerro Gordo summit because my shin splint has been coming and going. And besides, I haven’t had cell service, so I need to keep cruising in order to get to the permit station in Lone Pine before they close tomorrow at 4p since I don’t have service to call and have them leave it in the overnight box. Shouldn’t be an issue; I’m making great time.
I arrived at my cache to find my food box intact. Ants had burrowed into a couple of my water jugs, though. (I didn’t even know that was a thing.) Good thing I cached more than I needed. My original plan had been to spend the night near Cerro Gordo and walk into town tomorrow. But I’d arrived at 4p, and I felt great. I ate lunch and took a nap for an hour before pressing on.
Got off route right away when I dropped down the Cerro Gordo Road instead of the Swansea – Cerro Gordo Road. Cruised a little over a mile down a steep grade before I noticed my mistake. Ah well, I wasn’t about to backtrack. Besides this was the road I’d taken to drop my cache anyways, so I knew where I was. After some quick math, turns out joining the race route from Cerro Gordo Road would be almost exactly the same distance I would walk if I took the standard route and didn’t hitch to get my permit. This way I’d pass the permit station en route anyways. So, samesies.
Honestly, I’d do it this way again despite the extra pavement pounding. I’d considered this route earlier in the trip. I just figured it was simpler to pick up my permit en route. Besides I don’t really mind road walks. I wouldn’t wanna do them all the time, but walking a road in the late evening and early morning can be really pleasant. It was 8p when I reached Hwy 136, so there were very few people driving. There were a couple other advantages too. I finally got 3G, so I was able to play on the internet as I walked the road. I also got to throw out my trash in Keeler rather than carrying it all the way to Lone Pine.
Seeing the town lights along Hwy 395 as I descended Cerro Gordo and walked along the road was really beautiful against the dark silhouette of the High Sierra. I ended up pushing until nearly midnight tonight, listening to music and enjoying the signs of civilization. Figured I’d rather crush tonight, then sleep in and mosey down to the visitor center tomorrow morning. Long day, though. Feeling pretty shredded after 19 hours. I dropped my gear and cowboy camped right out in the open next to the highway. No shame in my game. Just 4.5 miles to go along Hwy 136 to reach the Visitor Center where I'll pick up my permit, and then another mile into Lone Pine along Hwy 395.
Miles Hiked: 41