Hi, my name is Isko Salminen.
I'm an adventure seeker and I love exploring nature with my camera and Australian Shepherd called Fire

Day 53: Out of Lone Pine to Chicken Spring Lake


Date: June 21, 2017
Miles: 2.5 miles (4km) from Horseshoe Meadow back to PCT + 5.6 miles (9km) from Trail Pass to Chicken Spring Lake.
Health: Feel tired and on the last mile my left shin started hurting.

We sleep in late but I slept poorly as the AC was pointed directly at my head. Weird placement for a bed. The girls start making oatmeal with their stoves and Camp Counselor and I joke around that we should rename Poison Ivy as Oatmeal as she's obsessed with it. She doesn't object.


As we're eating our breakfast we read about the sixth drowning in the Sierra this year. As all the snow starts to melt with the heatwave, the rivers are getting huge and dangerous. The trail rumors we keep hearing swing from "doable" to "impassable".

Our plan is to get off at the Kearsarge Pass and go down to Bishop. We don't have any big river crossings on that section, but we get to see the snow, summit Mt. Whitney, and see what the conditions are like. And also how fast we are able to move up there. Time is starting to be an issue as we still have over 1,500 miles to cover after the Sierra. If we move too slow, we need to get out and flip-flop to have enough time to finish the trail before winter hits us up north.


The girls work on their plans as they were only section hiking and this is where their hike ends. It's a shame we didn't meet earlier and that they aren't doing the Sierra.

After morning tasks the girls head out to do laundry and I need to go to Post Office to pickup my old backpack. I'm doing a backpack shuffle and I need to switch back to my MLD Prophet for the heavier Sierra carries. I ship my Pa'lante Pack onwards to Bishop which is our next resupply stop.


Many people have skipped ahead from Bishop due to the dangerous river crossings and the snow. By shipping my Pa'lante Pack, I can either switch back to it if we decide to skip, or just bounce it forwards on the trail. You can bounce a box for free for six times. This comes handy when dealing with the logistics on the trail.

On my way to Post Office I get a message from Blü, he's in town and heading out with us. Yeah! He was in Bishop yesterday so I though he just skipped there. I have two packages in the Post Office, but I bounce the one I shipped from Kennedy Meadows to Bishop, and switch the backpacks in the second box and ship that to Bishop as well.

As I'm at the Post Office, KB, Fyre, Dandelion, and Fire Ant show up. They are also shipping packages to Bishop and some to home.


We're heading out soon but I still need to do my resupply. I can't do that when I'm hungry so I head to the Subway for a quick breakfast. At the grocery store I do the usual back and forth between shelves, trying to find calorie rich light foods that I want to eat. I hate doing resupplies as I never find anything good to eat. Then at the trail everyone who resupplied from the same store seems to have all these delicious foods to eat.

I just stuff my basket full of same old stuff I've always eaten but add the crackers Blü always eats, and the salty fishes KB loves. I can use them to bribe her on the trail if the need ever comes up. I weight the basket with my hand, feels heavy, should be good for five days. I hope.

Our hotel.

Our hotel.

The girls are already at the hotel and I start to stuff my food to the bear canister. It should fit seven days of food but I barely fit five days. Ugh. My backpack is so heavy. With all the extra snow gear (ice axe and microspikes), warmer clothing, the bear can, and the summit beer for Whitney, this is the heaviest my pack has been on the trail so far.

As we leave, we take the leftover beers from last night to Rocky and Puppy. They are staying in the hotel for extra night so they can enjoy the beverages that we can't take on the trail.


We check-out and then join the rest of the crew behind the Air Streamer/Outfitter on the Main Street. This is the best place to hitch out of town as it leads to the road up to the Trail Pass. The town of Lone Pine is at 3,400 feet, whereas the Trail Pass is at over 10,000 feet, so it's quite a climb up the mountain.

I say goodbye to Katie (Camp Counselor) and Natalie (Poison Ivy) as our paths separate here. We get back on the PCT and they take few trips before they head back home.


We hitch in the shade of a tree as the 40 degree (39c) weather is too hot to be in the sun. Thankfully the elevation gain means it won't be this hot up at the Trail Pass or on the trail.

Dandelion and Fyre catch the first ride up. They're going up with a trail angel who already has two other hikers in her car. Ten minutes later KB, Fire Ant, and I catch a ride up too.


It's a long way up, and the elevation and steep grade of the road means we're going really slow. On the way up we see smoke rising from the side of the mountain range. Fire? We watch as the fire spreads wider as we drive up. We wonder if this is going to block our hike as it's between where we start and Mt. Whitney, where we're heading. We hike on the other side of the range though so it should not be an issue.


Once at the Trail Pass I eat the leftover Subway sandwich and camel up on water and then head out towards Horseshoe Meadow with KB and Fire Ant. From Horseshoe Meadow we start our climb back up to the PCT.

My pack feels so heavy as we climb. Luckily we don't have to carry much water as it's plentiful now with all the snowmelt.


At the top, back on the PCT, we meet an older gentleman with his two dogs. We take the opportunity to have some four legged love and take a pause to play with the puppies. Meeting trail puppies is always so much fun.



After the pause we shoulder our packs and rejoin the PCT again. We're only doing a short hike to get to Chicken Springs Lake for the night. It's supposed to be a beautiful spot between the mountains and it takes us closer to our Mt. Whitney summiting in two days.


As we climb above 11,000 feet my breathing becomes harder. This is the highest we been on the trail and it's completely new to my poor lungs. I have to slow down. KB goes on and we hike for a while with Fire Ant. We cross streams and beautiful alpine meadows. The scenery is so different from what the first part of the trail was.

Horseshoe Meadow.

Horseshoe Meadow.

Fire Ant and Sierra snow.

Fire Ant and Sierra snow.

I'm not feeling the hike today. The poorly slept past two nights and the elevation make me a grumpy hiker. I slow don't to a crawling speed and then suddenly I feel a familiar pain on my shin. But this time on the left shin.

I stop to put on the shin guard on my left leg and curse out loud. I'm fairly certain that my shin problems are caused by my shoes. I make a mental note to get rid of the Altra's as I get to Bishop. It's a larger town and they should have a better outfitter with shoes.

Girls camp at Chicken Spring Lake.

Girls camp at Chicken Spring Lake.

I carefully step the last miles to the Chicken Spring Lake not to irritate the shin anymore. I keep cursing my luck. At the lake I find all the girls and the view is absolutely amazing. The lake is perched between two large mountain tops and still half covered in ice. I sit down next to the girls and dig out my dinner from the bear can. My hurting shin takes all my energy and I can barely enjoy the scenery.


After dinner I quickly setup my shelter and get in it to end this day. Hopefully I get a good nights sleep and my leg would feel better tomorrow. I'm in my sleeping bag two hours before hiker midnight.

Damn you legs!