Day 120 - 7/27/18 (flip SOBO from Ashland, OR to Lone Pine, CA).
August 8, 2018
Mile 906.63 to 891.65 for 14.98 miles with an elevation increase of 3973 and decrease of 1337. We camped by Virginia Lake at an elevation of 10,360. Our total PCT miles are 1569.59. We were hiking by 9:20 and into camp at 5:15.Mammoth Lakes has a nice trolley system that is free. We took that to the village center and caught the Red Meadows shuttle back to Red Meadows Resort. The shuttle system is interesting in that it costs $8 cash only. The driver logs each ticket by hand which takes considerable time for a bus that carries about 50 people. The driver cannot make change so when another rider had $1 bills and we had a $20 bill he offered to pay for 4 tickets so we would not have to overpay. This confused the driver because he only gave one ticket back but hand wrote x4 on the back. Since we were not all together and needed separate tickets he had to manually adjust his log and provide us a ticket with x2 written on it. All 8 digit serial #’s are tracked manually. Seemed very inefficient. Seems like a ticket machine at this location would be a simple fix. The shuttles seem to always be full. This day started in open timber due to a severe windstorm several years ago that blew down or severely topped the trees. Later we got into some light timber. We also learned that red pines have needles that are round and roll in your fingers and white pines have flat needles. Both are common trees in the area. At Deer Creek as I was soaking my feet I was startled when a small trout began nibbling on my foot. Each time I put my foot back in the water it would start nibbling. When we got to Purple Lake the terrain changed again to rocky slabs and large granite peaks surrounding us. It was smokey all day, but no thunder storms. It was also a low insect day even by water sources. Temperatures were pleasant when not on open, shadeless slopes. There were a lot of John Muir Trail (JMT) hikers out and one of them we knew. Jamie gave us a ride around the endangered species closure at approximately mile 400. She saved us having an 8 mile road walk on a busy highway. There were so many JMT hikers going to Lake Virginia I was worried we would not find a tent site It is a very big lake with plenty of sites so we were OK. We also met a JMT hiker whose dad just retired from Boeing after 36 years in Avionics. She grew up in W Seattle and now lives in Oakland. Lake Virginia was very beautiful with a light breeze and very few insects.