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Day 49 – May 22, 2022

Zero in Bishop, CA

0.0 trail miles | 0.0 tracked miles

Bishop, CA is pretty nice as far as small towns are concerned. The charming town center features Old West facades, murals, several outfitters, and various dining venues. Several major grocery stores are located at the periphery of the town, a mile away from the historic center.

After spending the night at the Best Western, I moved to Hostel California, a popular PCT thru-hiker hangout.

While I enjoy staying at hotels for the comfort and the convenience of on-site laundry (and to earn points and rewards), hostels are a nice alternative as they typically offer a full kitchen and provide the opportunity to meet like-minded guests. Hostel California was fully booked when I arrived yesterday a day ahead of schedule, but I managed to secure a reservation for the next two nights.

The vibe at Hostel California is quite special. The door code is 420420, and the initials of “The Hostel California” elegantly spell THC, which sums things up. Quality wise, I would rate the property as a dump—my room is as large as a prison cell, dark, and does not have a bathroom. On the bright side, Hostel California is cheap, and I was even offered a significant thru-hiker discount at check-in, despite having booked online through a third-party.

I took advantage of the kitchen to make a 10-ingredient salad wonder loaded with fruit and vegetables. Fresh food and vegetables are virtually impossible to carry out—trail food is all about calorie density and shelf-stable products—so they’re an incredible treat to enjoy in town.

My goal for the afternoon was to make a plan for the next section of the Sierras, which is considered the most challenging stretch on the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail crosses some of the highest passes in the Sierra Nevada range, the conditions can be unforgiving, the snow is typically difficult to navigate in the afternoon, and there are few bailout points. Planning ahead is essential.

As luck would have it, I found a perfect plan on a napkin, courtesy of another guest! The numbers in circles represent days. The mountain passes happen to be spaced evenly enough that it’s typically possible to hit one pass a day, with an exception for the longer stretch between Muir Pass and Selden Pass.

Hiking from the Onion Valley trailhead/Kearsage Pass to Vermillion Valley Resort (which is situated between Selden Pass and Silver Pass) will take 6 to 7 days. It will be another heavy food carry.

The perfect plan for the High Sierra!

Michael, who arrived in Bishop a day ahead of me, headed back to the trail today, and I sense that he’s going to hike as fast as possible. Our paths may or may not cross again.

Joe and the rest of the gang arrived at Hostel California in the afternoon, but we didn’t hang out much: the crew naturally decided to visit the brewery tonight, while I chose to stick with my vegetable diet.

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