Jacob Leistra / "Game Boy" / PCT 2019

Days 52 and 53: Kearsarge and Eastside

Mile 789.0 -> Mile 789.1 -> Kearsarge Pass Trail to Onion Valley Rd. -> Hitch to Independence - Hitch to Bishop

After Forrester, Kearsarge was a fun, pleasant hike with minimal issue. It offered some great views and allowed us to get out of the Sierra and resupply.

We got a quick hitch from two cool brothers we saw hiking down the trail. They dropped us off in Independence, we grabbed drinks from the local gas station, and grabbed a hitch from an interesting guy named Colin. We talked about everything from religion, photography, and Irish Catholic-Protestabt reunification movements in our 40+ mile ride to Bishop. It was an experience to say the least, but he was a cool guy.

Our first stop in Bishop was Holy Smoke BBQ for a loaded baked potato. Afterward we checked into the hostel we were staying at: Eastside Guesthouse and Bivy. Typically I camp or stay in a cheap motel when I’m in Bishop, but this place just opened and had a 2 night discount. Every hiker I’ve talked to that stayed there has raved about it, and I can see why. It reminded me of one of the many hostels I stayed at while in Japan. Everything was meticulously designed and oriented to make guests comfortable and well-equipped to do whatever the hell they needed to.

For a grand total of $55, we got to stay two nights in our own bunks and do a load of laundry in an actually functioning washing machine (with name brand soap!). Each bunk had brand new linens and curtains to block out light and noise. Each bunk also had a lamp for reading, with a USB port built in to allow for easy device charging. The place was arranged with 6 bunks to a room with each room having its own bathroom and shower. Everything was new, clean, and comfortable. It was a slice of heaven for a hiker.

The common area had a large kitchen and several couches/benches. Outside of the common area was a patio and tables, paired next to a small pond with ducks and frogs. It was gorgeous.

We spent our time in Bishop eating a ton, drinking a ton, and relaxing. We also got to see Toy Story 4 at the local janky theater, and it was surprisingly good. There’s a weird theme of “the end justifies the means,” and the group made fun of me when i called it Pixar’s Machiavelli film. If you’ve seen the movie, you might get what I mean though. There’s some creepy scenes where a villain does some truly twisted stuff but apparently that’s okay because they want everything to be hunky dory in the end. Meh, at least my political science degree is coming in handy with film critiques.

We played a few rounds of beer pong, watched TV and downloaded stuff for the next 7 days, and ate delicious Schat’s Bakkery goodies. (Shout-out to Sal for showing me the chili cheeze bread loafs as I’m carrying an entire one onto the trail tonight.)

Our next section is over 100 miles into Mammoth Lakes. It’s gonna be hard, snowy, and filled with passes and water crossings. But I’m excited for it.

Main Photo: The eastern view at Kearsarge Pass on June 30.