Jacob pulls in front of my house at 6:30am on a Thursday morning. He is driving a 2015 Hyundai with a—unbeknownst to us—slightly swollen 12V battery.
I go out to meet him—in the literal sense—because I’ve never met Jacob before. But we’re about to go backpacking for five days in the wilderness together, so my fingers are crossed in the hopes that he’s pleasant and mellow, and at the very least, not very murdery.
We toss our backpacking things in my Jeep, and we’re off; each of us still not totally sure how murdery the other is. But we have a long drive ahead of us—from the bay area to the Pine Creek trailhead—so we have time to find out.
As we drive, we chat. We have many interests in common. So many that we catch ourselves lounging around at the Black Bear Diner in Tracy post-meal, enraptured by a discussion of running volume, as if there is no hurry to get off into the mountains. But we should probably be in a hurry; we’re supposed to pick up a permit, get to the trailhead, and hike over Pine Creek Pass to Hutchinson Meadow, where we’ll meet our third companion (whom we’ve also never met before), Matthew1. We don’t want to keep Matthew waiting.
The rest of the drive goes fast—faster than usual, it seems. Over Sonora Pass, through Bridgeport, and into Mammoth, to pick up our permit. On the way, we receive a few InReach message from Matthew, who started a day earlier, from the Piute Pass trailhead. The good news is that he’s over Piute Pass, wandering through upper Humphreys Basin, and he’s loving it. The bad news is that he is doing so while coping with a bout of food poisoning, credited to a certain Bishop establishment that I won’t name here, for fear of legal repercussions2.
At the Mammoth Visitor’s Center we wait in a line for our permit to be issued. The line is only a few people long, but it is not moving, because the permit-issuing ranger is in “a meeting”. I am pretty sure I know what that means3. Eventually he emerges, and quickly issues our permits.
Soon another message from Matthew arrives—he’s bailing out; his stomach bug isn’t resolving. I ponder the hell that must be trying to traverse rotten suncups when your bowels threaten to burst with each step. At least he might get the chance to exact some revenge on one of those sun cups.
1. Although I’ve never met Matthew in person either, I’ve been e-mailing with him for a couple years, and at this point am pretty sure that he’s not very murdery. ↑
2. Okay, it was El Pollo Loco. At 785 N Main St, Bishop CA, 93514. ↑
3. Pooping ↑