When Fire Storms Erupt

Start: Bakersfield
Stop: Lone Pine

Plan B. There’s a devastating fire storm in the Lake Isabella area with at least 90 structures lost so far. Hwy 178 is closed so I must detour farther south. Luckily there is a bus that leaves Bakersfield and goes through Tehachapi and Mojave. Hwy 395 is also closed north of Lee Vining due to fire. The world is blowing up.

Lake Isabella, photo cred Michael Cuffe

Scanning through the Facebook PCT class of 2016 page, I see an offer for a ride heading north from Mojave. I message angel Barbara “Boomerang” and she picks me up in Mojave on her way to Big Pine. She’s got two other hikers from the Netherlands that are just starting their hike too. Endless gratitude!

I arrive in Lone Pine nearly three hours ahead of schedule. It’s damn hot and my cheeks grow flush from the abrupt change from air conditioning to outside heat.

I visit with my roommate Dr. Rachel about all things trail. She’s got a doctorate in plant biology. Her hike is in jeopardy because of foot pain like mine. Then I find a group of hikers and offer up some beers. They are humble and thankful. Even now at 10 pm, strong, hot gusts of wind rip through town. This can’t mean good things for the fires.

Tomorrow, I climb.

Sierra crest at sunset viewed from the Mt. Whitney Hostel

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