L2H + HST :: Transit

05 October 2016

After completing the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, I headed over to the Giant Forest Museum in SEKI where I left my car. After completing the L2H, my intention is to continue down the back side of Mt. Whitney on the High Sierra Trail and finish my trip at the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park. It’s a trail that’s been on my wishlist, and what better time to do it since I’ll already be there?

I used a combination of hitching and public transportation to get back to Badwater Basin to start my trek. It took about 10 minutes to catch a ride from the Giant Forest Museum. Paul and Alisha picked me up. I was bracing myself for a long wait, since there weren’t very many folks heading down toward Three Rivers from the park. Paul owns a tour company based in Three Rivers and Alisha is one of his guides. They’d just finished a tour in the park and were feeling charitable, I suppose. My lucky day!

Loved talking to them on the beautiful ride down to Three Rivers. They told me about public transit that would take me into Visalia, which is where I was going to catch a bus. I don’t mind spending a few dollars if I don’t have to rely on someone else’s generosity and my own good luck, especially since I’m usually filling every minute with adventure, which doesn’t leave too much wiggle room for waiting on hitches.

I hung out at the bus stop where Paul dropped me for three hours waiting on the last bus of the night, and when the bus finally came, I waved my arms wildly to flag it down…and it just kept going. I couldn’t believe it. I was so angry. I wasn’t scheduled to depart Visalia until the following day at 1030a, but I loathe waiting until the last minute. Catching the morning bus was going to mean cutting it close in Visalia. After sulking for a few minutes, I picked up my pack and started walking toward the main hub. (I’d been waiting at an auxiliary stop.)

As I was walking the road in the dark, assuming it was too late in the evening to hitchhike, a random guy stopped and hollered at me from across the road. He offered me a ride, and I told him I was actually heading all the way to Visalia and that the bus had blown by me. He thought for a second, then offered me a ride all the way if I threw him a couple bucks. Deal! I hopped in and off we went.

Travis is an odd dude, but very nice. A giver with a big heart. When he asked quite candidly if I had a pipe within the first few minutes of the ride, I got suspicious. His eyes were blood shot, and his speech was subtlety slurred. Definitely drunk, likely high. I was tempted to just get out, but he was doing such a good job. He wasn’t driving erratically or carelessly. He wasn’t speeding. And he ultimately delivered me safe and sound, so no complaints here.

It was only about 9p, so I walked around looking for a place to stealth camp in the middle of Visalia. Not so easy, especially knowing that any park or public space was likely to have sprinkler timers set to irrigate in the middle of the night. You know, when no one is there to get wet. I chose a spot in the corner of one of the parks. Pushing my luck, I know. And wouldn’t ya know, one of the sprinklers came to life around midnight. Fortunately, I was able to scoop up my gear and get out of the way before anything got wet. I considered relocating in the park, but as sprinklers continued to go off throughout the lawn and garden beds, I knew it was hopeless. Instead, I walked over to an adjacent parking lot and set up on a sidewalk behind an office building. (I’m such a dirtbag sometimes.) Pretty poor sleep that night, as you might imagine.

Got up around 7a yesterday morning, just in time to wave to someone pulling into the parking lot, presumably to go to work. She must’ve been so confused.

The bus to kick off my double transfer trip to Vegas was running late, which made me a little nervous given my experience the night before. It finally pulled up around 1040a. Nice, easy ride to the train station where my train was running a little late as well. With only 6 minutes between de-boarding the train and catching my last bus to Vegas, I was feeling anxious yet again. Fortunately, we made up some time on the train. When I finally boarded the bus in Bakersfield, I smiled to myself, totally content. Vegas-bound. No more transfers.

From there, I was all set. I arrived in Vegas at 7p without incident. (Though to be fair, I originally got off at the wrong stop in Vegas and realized my mistake just in time to hop back on. Haha, classic move.) My last bus, which would take me to Pahrump, didn’t depart until this morning, so I moseyed around Vegas for a couple hours. Thought about getting a hotel room, but I’m cheap, so I just crashed at the Greyhound station. Talk about sketchy. It was another mostly sleepless night.

I had hoped to be well-rested and well-hydrated for the start of this trip, but that hope was not becoming a reality. Looking back, a room would’ve been a good investment. Ah well, live and learn.

The ride out to Pahrump was easy enough. Had hoped to catch Bearclaw for lunch, but some work stuff came up for her, so we’ll try it again when I finish next week. I walked four miles out of town and posted up at Bell Vista Ave, thinking it would be easier to hitch from there. I wasn’t even out there a half hour when a couple with an 18-month old baby Ethan stopped and gave me a ride for the first leg. From there, I waited about 5 minutes and watched about as many cars pass before I caught my second and final hitch. This time from a couple who was road tripping around California and the Pacific Northwest. He was a backpacker himself and had had trouble hitching before, so he took pity on me. They gave me a ride all the way out to Badwater even though it was out of their way. Love the backpacking community!

I just did a final check on my gear, and I’m heading out shortly. Here we go.