PCT Mile 795, Dollar Lake

Back on the trail again after my zero in Independence. Dinner last night was at the only restaurant in town, a French bistro staffed by an actual Frenchman who was comically indifferent to waiting on customers. He walked through the restaurant with his head down, intent on his errands, studiously ignoring the attempts of aspiring diners to get his attention. I was just killing time as the only other place I had to go was my motel room, so I was perfectly satisfied to take an hour and a half to dine on a hamburger topped with caramelized onions, which was pretty good.

Got a ride up to the trailhead at Onion Valley with PayItForward, who was impressed by my microbiological explanation of why we should bump fists rather than shake hands as a greeting. Our conversation continued all the way up the 4-mile/2500 ft climb to Kearsarge Pass, which certainly made it go by much quicker.

Like many young folks I talk to, he is both nihilistic and idealistic: believes that he will never see any of the money he pays into Social Security; that government cannot do anything right; that all politicians are the same and therefore there is no reason to vote, and that nothing will ever change. He considers himself an Anarcho-Libertarian whose dream is to become self-sufficient in growing his own food and withdrawing from the money economy.

Not such a different dream than many of my generation had in the 60s. But different in that we believed we could change the world for the better – and did. He had no notion that 50 years ago, interracial marriage was illegal in many states; that women often could not own property or take out loans in their own names; that segregation and racism were established in both law and custom. In other words, that genuine positive change was both possible and real.

After Kearsarge Pass, I cut back to the PCT and continued northward again, climbing another 1200 feet over rugged Glen Pass and then down again into another enchanted valley of lakes, domes, spires and waterfalls. Each of the next six days to Mammoth will have roughly the same structure – climb a pass (Pinchot, Mather, Muir, Selden , Silver) and then walk down the valley and camp below the next days pass. It will be a very fine way to travel.

Icy tarn below Glen Pass

Mile 791, Glen Pass

Mile 795, Arrowhead Lake

Mile 796, Fin Dome from Dollar Lake