Day 49: Can’t You Smell That Smell

Mile reached: 895.7 (+2.1 + 15.3 bonus)

High: Apples and beer!

Low: There’s just never enough time to get everything done and then relax in town.

The sun rose, but it didn’t illuminate my campsite for quite a while. But, I waited, since I wanted to dry out my groundsheet. While I was bundled up in my quilt, “Mr. Freeze” passed by saying hello.

I had what I thought was going to be a clever plan to cut the corner into town. A few miles past where I camped was the Duck Pass Trail, which would take me into Mammoth. Most of the other hikers were going 8 miles further to get in via Mammoth Pass. Since I want a continuous footpath to Canada, it actually turned out that the distances were about the same as I would have to hike up to Mammoth Pass from the lakes. But, let’s not let that get in the way of an otherwise perfect plan.

From the PCT I climbed a few hundred feet up and over Duck Pass, which dumped me into a beautiful basin feeding the various Mammoth lakes. The scenery was gorgeous, and since it was close to a weekend there were lots of dayhikers. The funny thing about dayhikers is that unlike thru-hikers you can smell them, sometimes even a switchback or two away. It must be the scented shampoos or deodorants. Eventually, the trail dumped me out into a parking lot that was quickly filling up.

The view from Duck Pass looking down to Mammoth
Lots of lakes on the way down, some very alpine
Others less so

Now, I could have easily hitched into town from here. But, it was early, and I wanted to set myself up for an easier day the following day. So, I walked to Horseshoe Lake, where the Mammoth Pass trail starts. On the way a guy driving a panel van pulled alongside me asking if I wanted an apple and a beer. Despite what my mother taught me about not taking candy from strangers in panel cans, of course I wanted it! Introducing himself as “Burger King” (he hiked the AT SOBO), he even offered to drive me to the trailhead, but I needed to hike for my footpath to be complete. Instead, I embraced my inner hobo and walked along the side of the road drinking a beer.

Twenty minutes later, I reached the trailhead and found “Burger King” along with “Pink Panther” and “Bud Light”. We drank more beer, and then “Burger King” gave us a ride into town after which we drank even more beer in the corner of the local brewery’s parking lot. They had to go find their Airbnb, so I wandered over to the brewery, where I found “Mr. Freeze” and “Johnny Stache” and had lunch.

“Pink Panther” tore off a piece of his shorts and tied it around my wrist as a token. Kind of gross actually…

After lunch and a passable Kolsch, I went to go find a hotel. Others had offered shared rooms, but I needed to get stuff done without distractions. After settling in, I did my resupply, fixed my hat drawstring, and repaired a damaged trekking pole. For dinner I found this Mexican grocer that made excellent lengua tacos! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to bed until after 11, since I had so many things to take care of now that I had internet. But, it felt like a productive day.

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