Day 20 ~ The Big Hitch
Today is a big day. Up at nine. Check emails. Showers. Breakfast of orange juice, omlettes, and hash browns at the Sportsmen’s Bar and Grill. We pack up, get a diet coke and an iced tea at the grocery store, and walk to the edge of town. We stand in front of the California Highway Patrol office because it has a little shade! The laws in Cali about hitching are very vague…
In about 45 minutes, we get picked up by a nice fellow who lives in Truckee. He is around 40, married, a copyrighter for real estate and outdoor topics, and is headed to Yosemite Valley to assist on a guided tour up half-dome. He usually guides 4-5 trips a year, but was living in Vegas and needs to assist a trip in Yosemite before he can lead them. He gave us a ride from Bridgeport to Lee Vining at the gas station at the entrance to Yosemite. We wished we were hungry, as the food at the stop look fabulous! We bumped into the same two guys that we had met the day before at Horse Creek Pass. They had successfully climbed both peaks. We had Hagen Dagz bars, and refilled our drinks for the next leg.
We hiked down to the southbound highway. A kid in a Sprinter van stopped almost immediately, but he was headed to Salt Lake City so not in the direction we needed to go. I explained his route to him, told him where to turn west, and sent him on his way.
Within half an hour, we were picked up by a preacher a jeep. He had a parish in Mammoth, but also traveled to preach in Lee Vining and Bridgeport. He was from Mexico City, worked in movies, became a Spanish preacher in San Francisco and then an English preacher in Mexico City. He was very friendly and helpful. He took us to Mammoth via the June Lakes loop, and offered to buy us lunch at McDonald’s!
We walked over the exchange to the southbound highway again. In a fairly short time, a VW van heads up the entrance. I punched Tim’s arm (slug bug) and bet him 10 bucks that they would pick us up! Safe bet, the two guys felt obligated to help us what with the van and all : ) Max is from France, and Ryan from Indiana. They are traveling and promoting these led lights that you can control with your cell phone. They got a slow start because the engine needed to be rebuilt, but now are headed cross country. They were headed to check out the Bristle Cone Pines. We would have tagged along, but felt we needed to get to Independence. So after a fun ride and chat, they dropped us at the gas station by their turn.
While at the gas station, I was drinking a tea, and a driver smiled at me… SO he was the lucky guy to give us our next ride! This hitching thing is super easy along this road for girls or couples! Anyway, Glen was also extremely nice. He cleared out space so we could sit in the cab of the work truck. He is from the Philippines but had lived and worked in LA for 20 years. He is in construction and had been in Mammoth inspecting a job. Since he was headed home, he gave us a ride all the way to Independence and dropped us off right at the Mt Williamson Hotel!
My first day of hitch hiking turned out to be a rave success. And it was actually really fun to meet and talk to a very nice set of people. (I know, not really like me at all, go figure!)
Strider and David at Mt Williamson are very helpful. We get put into a suite, which is really nice. We sort our resupply, go through their bins of extra supplies, and plan out for 9 more days of food while our laundry is being done.
We went to the local cafe for dinner. The Still Life Cafe is run by a French man. The food was really good, amazing for a tiny country town like Independence. The service was slow, but we enjoyed chatting with the other hikers while we waited.
Here is the joke told to us by the Mexican preacher: Way back when, the local native Americans had a tradition for their 21st birthday. When this particular fellow turned 21, he intended to do as his father and grandfather had both done on their 21st birthdays – walk across the water of the lake to go to the bar and get drunk. Very excited, he headed out but wasn’t able to walk on the water… he just got soaked. Dejected and confused, he dripped back home. His grandmother asked him how it went. She then reminded him that his father and grandfather both had birthdays in late December, while his was in August…