Time for a 300-mile adventure!
I figured out we could take a bus from South Lake Tahoe to Gardnerville, which we figured would be the best move if we wanted to hitch down to Kennedy Meadows South, since Gardnerville was right on Highway 395, and from there it would be a straight shot down.
For reference: South Lake Tahoe and Kennedy Meadows South are in orange boxes (photo courtesy of Magellan)
The hitch to Lee Vining from Gardnerville was easy enough. A nice couple with a camper in the back stopped for us, and Yahtzee and I got to sit with their dog. We stopped at the Latte Da Cafe in Lee Vining for a coffee, because we definitely had a long day ahead of us, unless we got really lucky.
Patiently waiting for some kind souls to pick us up
I realized that day that it's definitely easier to hitch when you're alone; either that, or we were just having a tougher day. Hitching back down to Kennedy Meadows South was proving to be much tougher than hitching up north the first time! We had to wait a while around Lee Vining for a ride, but we finally got another couple (with more dogs) to stop for us. They dropped us off at the highway junction to Mammoth Lakes a little ways down.
We didn't have to wait long for a hitch down to Bishop, from a woman with a van (that also usually had dogs). I was sad we probably didn't have time to stay in Bishop long, but I wanted to stop by the bakery at least. Yahtzee also wanted to stop at the outfitter because her new shoes were not treating her well.
When we got to the bakery at Bishop, Yahtzee realised she had left her small dry bag of literally everything important (I'm talking phone and wallet) somewhere. She decided to hear back to Mammoth Lakes because she assumed she probably left it on the side of the road, and I had my fingers crossed for her that that was the case.
I grabbed some sourdough and a small bag of pumpkin cookies (which were gone by dinnertime), walked to the edge of town, and got an easy hitch to Independence. From there, it also wasn't difficult to get to Lone Pine, but it was starting to get dark.
I got a message from Yahtzee telling me that she had found her bag of essentials on the side of the road in Mammoth with nothing taken from it. We decided to spend the night in Lone Pine at a hostel, and it was late enough in the season that we got the whole female bunk room to ourselves. Score!
I decided to get an earlier start than Yahtzee the next morning, and I was able to get a hitch out of Lone Pine within 15 minutes. A nice woman in a huge truck picked me up. We got to talking a bit, and she said she was headed to Ridgecrest to run some errands. She told me about how she used to run a farm with her partner, but now the two of them lived on the road with their horses. This was all starting to sound a little familiar, and it was then that she mentioned her partner had picked up a couple hikers from Tuolumne Meadows a few weeks ago and dropped them off in Lee Vining
I just about lost it.
Yes, her partner was the one who picked up Yahtzee and me from Tuolumne Meadows over 100 miles north of where we currently were several weeks ago. We ended up connecting on Facebook and couldn't believe how small of a world it was. Thank you, Jessica and Byron! You guys are awesome, and this story is one of my favorites (if not my favorite) from the trail.
Jessica dropped me off at the junction to Kennedy Meadows, where I was able to contact a very kind trail angel nearby to give me a ride up to Kennedy Meadows. Amy is the best, and I would see her again later (and she would be an amazing angel again then).
I got dropped off at the Grumpy Bear's Retreat restaurant and got a super delicious vegan burger to celebrate my finishing the sections I had missed. From there, the cook, who was also a veteran long-distance hiker, was kind enough to give me a ride back to the trail.
Congratulations to me!
Now I had filled in the gaps, and had completed a continuous footpath from the Canadian border and the top of the desert. Time to take on the desert, and finish this thing!