JMT 28. 7. – 29. 7. – Pre-hike Eastern Sierra Valley

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On Sunday after a breakfast I started from LA via Hwy 14 and 395 into the Owens Valley east of the Sierra Nevada. This was a few hours of driving. The photo shows my Nissan Frontier pickup on a rest area looking into Palmdale. I did not like the high position of the windows and rear-view mirrors: in the LA traffic you easily overlook a low-rise car next to yours.

In the early afternoon I arrived at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center just south of Lone Pine. I talked to a ranger about the snow situation at the passes and got my reserved permit for Tuesday. I was told that the New Army Pass has a snow cornice on top but there is a way to cross it.

I continued to Independence and turned to the road up to the Onion Valley campsite at 9.000 ft. Obviously I was right there:

I put my orange resupply bucket in one of the bear boxes at the parking lot, in addition to those from other hikers waiting there for their owners.

Then I went to the campsite and set up my tent. After a backpacking dinner I went to sleep. Around 2 am an urgent business drove me out of the tent, and though I had not put on my glasses I could easily recognize that there was a bright starry sky. So I fetched the camera and tripod and started to make some long-time exposures.

The next morning I found that I had a new tent neighbour who had arrived late in the night. He was born in France but has lived most of his life in the US and since more than a decade in New York working for the UN. He had hiked exactly the trail I wanted to start tomorrow, from Cottonwood Lakes over New Army Pass, Forester Pass and Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley, and gave me more information about the snow situation. It seemed to be doable for me.

After my breakfast I gave him a ride down to Independence where he had a room reservation in the Independence Inn. Then I drove back to Lone Pine for a hiker gear shop because I seemed to have lost/forgotten my headlamp in LA. I bought a similar model there, and also more DEET spray. Later on trail I found the lost headlamp in the bottom of my pack, so now I had two.

Then I had to hurry: drive to Bishop, pack all unused stuff into the big cardboard box and ship it  to LA, also ship the two remaining resupply buckets to VVR and Red’s Meadow. VVR wants to be shipped via UPS which office opened only at 12 am; after that I had to refill gas and return the car, and finally try to catch the bus back to Lone Pine at 1:15 pm. No time for lunch.

The timing was tough but I was lucky: just when I had parked the car the phone rang, and there was “Lone Pine Kurt” telling me he was just passing Bishop and could pick me up there, instead of meeting me in Lone Pine. Kurt Pauer is a retired commercial airline pilot who helps hikers with his small scale private shuttle service. He has German roots and had even been in Germany the year before. We had ample of topics to talk about, and so time was flying. On our way we stopped at the Mt Williamson Motel in Independence which has new owners, and at his home in Lone Pine. Then he drove me up to the Horseshoe Meadow campground (10.000 ft) where we arrived around 4 pm.

I set up the tent and used the last rays of the afternoon sun to recharge my devices.

This night was new moon so I set up the camera for a milkyway timelapse:

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