19 May 2021
Palisade Creek to Middle Fork Kings River
PCT Mile 823.5 to 833.5
It was so luxurious to stay in my tent until 7am this morning!
I was surprised to see Ground Score and Berk packed and ready to go. She must be feeling better!
By 7:30am I was up and at ‘em, too. It was nice to take a slower pace and soak in the scenery. So beautiful. And the elevation was lower, so there were some nice flowers today.
We took several longer breaks today, too.
When I reached the Bishop Pass Trail intersection, I was by myself. I was flooded with memories of the JMT trip I did last summer with Half Cookie and friends.
We spent our very first night on the JMT at a campsite here after hiking in over Bishop Pass. I went over to the LeConte Canyon Ranger Station and poked around. No one was there. It’s too early!
And what am I doing here?
When I got back on trail it suddenly became very, very heavy to walk. Everyone else in the group passed me in those final few miles. I felt like Frodo staggering forward under the weight of the ring, each step harder as he approached Mordor.
Really? Don’t be silly. The Muir Hut is actually very nice! And wouldn’t it be lovely to see Evolution Valley covered in a sea of ice? Wouldn’t it be thrilling to cross Evolution Creek with help from your new friends? Wouldn’t it be fun to grab beers together at Mammoth Brewing?
No. It’s probably time to go home.
By chance, we happened to choose a campsite adjacent to the famous “whale rock monster.” It greeted me ominously as I rejoined the group, already in full hang-out mode.
I set up my tent and took a nap. It was lovely. I awoke refreshed. But I had a heavy heart. I knew what I had to do.
I checked the weather, and even the elements were telling me it’s time to go. A storm was rolling in. Snow. Temperatures in the teens.
I left my tent and joined the fire. I collected more wood to contribute and then chatted with everyone.
I said “I just had the best hiking days of my life with you guys, but I have to get off trail. I’ve been thinking about this for two days and I think it’s the right decision for me.”
“Why? Don’t go!”
“I really miss my wife. It’s been a month since I’ve seen her.”
“Well, she must be a special lady.”
Everyone was so supportive, both in encouraging me to stay and in letting me go. I will miss them and I hope to see them again after they finish!
I went to bed early and now I feel relief. Tomorrow I will hike 16 miles over Bishop Pass and then once more stay in Bishop itself before heading home.
I know from two other trips that Bishop Pass is stunning. It will be a great last day for my PCT adventure. And it will be day 50, a nice round number.
I let Half Cookie know on the Garmin about my plans. I don’t think she quite believes me. It will be good to talk in person tomorrow.
Home to Half Cookie
I could think of nothing more
Than my only love