Sun Bear told us that while we won’t believe it, the world’s best fish tacos are sold at this Mobile gas station. That’s so insanely random that we figured it had to be true. We ordered tacos, fries, margaritas and beer. We laughted and talked and had a good time. We talked about how it’s somewhat liberating to be in the middle of nowhere with no transportation options other than walking and hitching. We wondered if it’s legal to walk on the highways and hitchhike here but joked that if not, a court date would be a great excuse for us to meet again in CA. And how fitting that we would hitch to the court house. We’re not actually worried about it though there are hikers and hitchers all over this area. It’s clearly a part of the culture here. Stephen and Rachel love to collect stickers and I have to say this station was stocked with some awesome stickers so they had a field day. After a couple of hours, we started to hike out towards the other gas station where we could catch a bus to our hotel in Mammoth Lakes. It’s like a desert in this area and we’re back to being below 7,000 feet so it’s just so stinking hot. We stopped twice on the way, once in a souvenirs shop and once at a coffee shop where we got cold drinks. Finally we made it to the gas station which was only about a mile away and sat outside on the ground waiting for the bus. Everywhere we stopped people looked at us funny and had lots of questions for is. For the most part, people are very friendly and fascinated with hiker culture. Even though we’ve only been hiking for two days, it’s cool to tell people we’ve hiked 25 miles from Yosemite.
On the bus to Mammoth, Brian struck up a conversation with a guy on the bus and found out he met the guy’s sister when he practice hiked the first part of the Appalachian Trail. They also discussed the fact that most hikers we’ve met so far skipped Happy Isles (where we started) and are starting the trail where we are now because the first part is so difficult. I felt proud that we got through those first two days and took some comfort in knowing that what I did truly was as hard as it felt. I’m hoping it will better prepare me for the rest of the trail. Once we arrived, we walked a bit more to a stop where we would be picked up by a trolley.
To absolute no surprise and all credit to Brian, our hotel was amazing. He managed to get us a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment style room in a beautiful ski resort and since it’s the off season, it was a reasonable cost. Not that it mattered because Brian’s always-generous parents covered the room for all four of us! I sent pictures of the place to them and thanked them for giving us a wonderful retreat!
The people at the front desk were super helpful and welcoming. We were feeling a bit out of place. Unlike where we were this morning, this place was void of hikers. This is ski culture, which if you didn’t know is the literal opposite of hiker culture. Everyone enjoying their dinner and wine at the outdoor restaurants stared at us as we walked through the resort. But when we got to the counter, the three people working there were genuinely excited to see us and had lots of questions for us.
I tried to tell Rachel and Stephen that Brian is an expert planner but I don’t think they fully grasped how fantastic it is to travel with him until they saw our room surrounded by outdoor stores (that we need), restaurants and outdoor entertainment. First thing Stephen said was, “I’m gettin drunk tonight.”
Stephen ran to the outdoor store to buy some camp shoes while the rest of us took long hot showers. Brian took a shower, then a bath, then another shower. And why not? We have a soaking tub and a shower and they should both be used! I removed all the ash from my body and inspected the damage. I have a pretty serious sunburn on both arms and one leg, a blister on my left foot, more mosquito bites than I can count, some in places I didn’t think they could access, and several mysterious bruises and cuts. My leg muscles hurt like hell but it’s going to take several more mountain passes before I stop feeling them. My left shoulder is also really tense and sore. Nothing serious though! I’ll be ready to go again tomorrow after I’ve had a nice long snooze in this fabulous king bed.
We all lounged around in our robes watching tv which was a treat for me because I don’t really watch tv. Stephen said he was blown away by the place and he never been in a place like it. That would explain why he had trouble figuring out how to use the key card in the door. I was so happy that we were with him when he got to have a new experience.
Eventually we got our lazy butts off the couch and pooled together our laundry. We put a load to go and headed out for dinner. There were several restaurants in the resort to choose from but we found ourselves at Campo for some great Italian. Rachel ordered something light because her stomach has been bothering her and we don’t know if it’s from the altitude or something else. The rest of us ordered drinks but none of us could finish them Brian and Stephen found themselves tipsy before they even got to the bottom of the glass and I started to get a headache only half way through mine. That I’m pretty sure was because of the altitude. The guys joked that they would never waste money trying to get drunk below 8,000 feet again.
We lounged around more digesting our dinner and waiting for the laundry to finish. I’ll be heading to bed soon. Tomorrow is Stephen’s birthday and to celebrate it, he would like to sleep in later than 5:30! So we’ll get out of here at some point, take a bus to Red’s Meadow and start hiking again.