26 Aug Day 127 – Nero or Pack Mule
At mile 750.8. Advanced 5.5 miles on PCT by completing alternate route began on Day 126. Total alternate route distance was 5.9 miles. Returned to PCT via the Cottonwood Pass Trail.
Today was a Near Zero day called by hikers a “NERO”. I spent most of the day in Lone Pine doing laundry, eating pizza buffet (8 slices plus large salad and 3 refills of root beer).
I also worked on reducing pack weight by getting rid of rope and underwear. I reduced fuel carried by leaving full can of denatured alcohol at the Dow Villa Hotel with instructions to hold for me when I return on August 30th. I’m carrying only 4 oz of that fuel, enough for 4 hot meals. I will return to Lone Pine after getting off the trail at Kearsage Pass 4 days from now. At that point I’ll resupply for the longest stretch of trail yet.
Here is the Dow Villa I stayed in. I had a historic room. Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and John Wayne were among those that stayed here while using local scenery to shoot Westerns. This is really a unique place to stay.
Here is where I hitched a ride. That is my lonely backpack.
The first person to pass picked me up. He was driving a pickup and hauling a horse trailer. His name was Mark and he was a packer who ran mules and horses through the John Muir Trail. His outfit called Rocky operates through pack stations throughout the Sierras. He’ll take you on horseback on the PCT for about $300 per day. Another option is that you hike and he delivers your resupply by mule directly on the trail. This runs $300 per delivery, but it includes up to 100 pounds. Don’t ask me how you are going to carry that 100 on your back after the mile delivers it. Seriously, the idea is to hike with a group and split the delivery and the cost.
When I arrived at my camp on Chicken Spring Lake, I saw campers with full ice chests and tables. Someone was running around and cooking for the others. This was one of the packer companies. This one was called Yosemite
Chuck, Cris, and Sara were also camping at the lake. I had met them on the trail a couple of days ago. I met their very good friend, Roger as I walked up to Cottonwood Pass this afternoon. He had carried a resupply in for them. Who needs delivery by mule for $300 when Roger delivers 70 pounds for free? I’ve got a lot of respect for anyone that will climb Cottonwood with 70 pounds.
Here is my tent set up near the lake. It was strange to step out of Mark’s truck and into cool air when it was in the high 90’s in Lone Pine. Camped at 11,288 feet, it is even cooler and I expect my coldest night in many weeks.
Here is a stark tree just a short distance from my camp spot.
Here are some of the sites along today’s hike near and around the top at Cottonwood Pass.