Laina and her mom were back on the trail. It was May 25th and they had climbed out of the desert and into the High Sierras.
Settled for the night by a lake in the depths of Kings Canyon, they were resting between peaks along the trail that now climbed and dropped like a roller coaster route over snowy mountains. The next day they planned to mount one of the more substantial passes on the trail — Pinchot, at 12,142 feet above sea level. However, when they woke neither Laina’s sandals or Paula’s shoes were where they had left them the night before.
“Mom’s shoes had been two feet from her head when we went to sleep,” Laina said.
That was when they realized Laina’s clothes which had been hung on a tree to dry were strewn around camp. The clothes had been chewed on and there were deer tracks through the camp.
“We finally found my sandals and one of her red tennis shoes in a field about 50 yards away, but essentially the other red shoe was gone,” Laina said.
After searching for about an hour, they decided they would not be able to complete the passes ahead without shoes and turned back along the loop toward Kennedy Meadows visitor center to try to find another shoe.
When they reached the visitor center they asked for the lost and found “but of course there was no shoes any of the lost a founds because no one loses their shoes,” Laina laughed.
They told their story to the woman who worked at the visitor center who asked what size shoe they needed. When they told her eight and a half she offered them a pair she had. The woman rejected any money Paula offered her for the shoes. They were Brooks, identical to the shoes Laina had hiked in originally.
Laina and Paula threw out the one extra shoe and hiked right back to the trail, hitching a ride part of the way and then hiking six more miles until they camped, making it their longest day yet.