I can't sleep. Woke up at 2am, and hazily felt the twinge of plantar fasciitis in my left heel that I felt on my morning run. And that woke me right up. I've had it before, it's taken months to go away, and I tossed and turned before throwing in the towel and deciding to do something distracting (and save researching how I got rid of it the last time to later today.)
So my "can't-sleep-distraction" is figuring out alternative ways of getting off the PCT in mid-May and returning home to San Diego, and getting back on the trail just after Memorial Day weekend. After a bit of research, there are a few options for getting around on my own.
Here's the scope of what I'm looking at: I'm looking to be off the trail in Kennedy Meadows sometime around the 5th of May or so and then heading back south, depending on my pace. I might continue north, though, and drop down to Lone Pine, or Independence; I have to be back in San Diego no later than May 14th. I'm aiming to head back to the trail on Wed the 27th of May, and start on the 28th.
What are my options?
The key ends up being Eastern Sierra Transit Authority, http://www.estransit.com/CMS/, is really the key. They offer generally weekday service along US 395 from the Lancaster to Reno, and some express services a few times a day between Lone Pine and Mammoth. The stops I'm interested in are:
Schedules for the services these can be found at http://www.estransit.com/CMS/content/print-and-download
The stops I'm interested in, from north to south.
This is an interesting option; there are daily flights on Alaska Airlines to LAX outside of the ski season. A quick search on alaskaair.com shows a $85 one way fares between LAX and MMH, departing LAX at 4:15pm and returning from MMH at 6:00pm. It's roughly an hour from the Mammoth airport to Bishop on the bus.
It's got a Vons with a bus stop out front, and Bishop is a far bigger town than Independence or Lone Pine. Might be good for resupply; it's an hourlong bus ride to Independence and 1:15 to Lone Pine.
The easiest exit to and from the high country is at the Onion Valley trailhead 20 miles west. It's also a six day walk from Kennedy Meadows. I plan on resupplying here if I leave the trail at KM for my break.
Another exit point. Four days or so out of Kennedy. Bigger town than Indepedence.
This is where the Kennedy Meadows road intersects 395, so if I can hitch down to 395 I can catch the bus at 10:35am and get to LA Union Station around 3:45pm, and from there a train to San Diego.
Vaguely interesting because it's easy to get to from Highway 58; the PCT crosses Highway 58 about 10 miles west.
The southbound ESTA bus stops at the Metrolink station at 12:45pm. There's a train to Los Angeles Union Station at 1:30pm, arriving around 3:40pm.
From LA Union Station, a train departs for Lancaster at 11:20am, arriving at 1:20. The northbound ETSA bus leaves Lancaster at 2pm, arriving Pearsonville (for KM) at 4pm and Independence at 5:15pm.
A few things make it a bit trickier to carry on walking from Kennedy Meadows and exit over Onion Valley to Independence. Bear canisters are basically required--though for 2013 you could use bear boxes, and they weren't required until after Memorial day. An ice ax would be very useful as well, and I don't plan on carrying that through the desert, so it would need to be shipped to Kennedy Meadows. So while it sounds attractive to keep on walking, there are complications.
If I come off at Kennedy Meadows, head down to 395 by 10:35am and take the bus to Lancaster. Call the bus agency the day before so they stop.
If I go further and come off the trail at Lone Pine or Independence, the bus is an option, but consider taking the bus to Mammoth and getting a flight to San Diego via LAX... perhaps cashing in some Alaska Air miles to do that.
Yay, problem solved!