After a long and dry 700 mile walk through the desert we finally arrive at the Kennedy Meadows General Store.
The 3 Amigo's and Mike Pook enjoying a home cooked breakfast at the small homey restaurant about a miles walk from the store. I hadn't seen them since Agua Dulce so it was a nice reunion.
From my journal (May 30, Day-35)..."As usual, I was up at first light, ate a bowl of cereal then was hiking the approximately last 8 miles to Kennedy Meadows. I left shortly before Anna and Galen who were still close behind. It had been so nice and restful sleeping here beside a babbling stream in the company of other hiker's. I walked so happily with a strong determination knowing that my next stop was such highly anticipated. Ther is certainly no other stop point on the PCT which is more widely talked and wrote about than Kennedy Meadows and I suppose that must mainly be due to having finally and successfully completed the long, parching heat of the desert crossing. After 700 miles there is now only the High Sierra with its 13,000 foot peaks and ice cold lakes and streams to greet us heat beaten hiker's. While on my broiling passage through the desert I on numerous occasions and in the witness of many fellow hikers swore not once would I cry, whine, or complain when I had to cross the waist deep ice cold streams up ahead. Yes, with the desert now behind me forever I still feel strongly about my commitment. I can't wait for the ice, snow, and cold that lies before me!
Galen and Anna caught up with me a couple of miles before the highway so it was nice walking in together. Kennedy Meadows General Store is about a mile off the trail on a little used paved road and we arrived on the front porch at about 9:00 am. We were excited to see the 3 Amigo's and Mike Pook's pack's lying on the porch since we last saw them at Agua Dulce. The store wouldn't open for another hour so we hiked another mile down the hot road to a small restaurant for breakfast and where we found the four above mentioned hiker's. It was such a great reunion as we exchanged greetings and pulled up a table next to them. Most everyone out here including the loner's need a certain amount of human interaction to stay on the trail. The wilderness is important but even here in such a void and beautiful natural paradise we are still social creatures who have a deep need to share our experiences. Thank God for the wilderness but also for those people who will tell me their tales about the trail, and listen to mine!
All day we based ourselves on the spacious shaded porch attached to the store writing, eating, and packing food, then taking hot showers and exchanging so many stories. Seems that most everything in the store was wiped out over Memorial day so I'd have to spend the night here alone waiting on the next food shipment tomorrow morning since I didn't send quite enough here by mail. It's a nice place to hang out for my swollen feet to rest and they're very hiker friendly so I was quite content although everyone had left by late afternoon except me. "
|The 3 Amigo's on the porch of Kennedy Meadow's Store..|
(L to R) Mike Pook, the 3 Amigo's, me, and Galen. Unfortunately, Anna wasn't in the picture since she took it.
From my journal (May 31, Day-36)..."Mike decided to leave late yesterday evening as we were the only two hiker's left on the porch and both of us were looking for new ways to solve our swollen feet problems. It hurt a bit watching him leave during the cool late evening hour because I wanted to do the same thing, but had to stay behind and wait on the food delivery. I camped just across the road in some trees and was up early using the phone to call home and have my second pair of trail shoes sent ahead to VVR. Finally the General Store opens at a "forever" 10:00 am so I then buy $45.00 worth of supplemental food and I was lucky to get the only bag of blueberry bagels that came in. Now I was back in the heat of the day by noon and entering the most anticipated Sierra's!
At the Kennnedy Meadow's Campground I stop for an hour to talk with Darrin, a fellow who recognized me yesterday at the store from 3 years ago when we both took a Wilderness First Responder course together in North Carolina. He was now working for a boarding school and it was nice talking with him and eating the whole cantaloupe that he gave me. Back on the trail I began my upward climb into the beautiful high mountains and for the first time it really felt like the desert was finally being left behind. At Beck Meadows I came to a place on the trail where Galen and Anna must have scratched a big long "Lightningbolt" into the dirt with their trekking poles which caused me to pause, smile, then hike a bit faster knowing that someone was thinking of me!
I cook a hot meal at the bridge over the South Fork of Kern River then hiked into the late evening through hordes of mosquitto's up the Cow Creek to the Gomez Meadows Junction where I had to set up my tarp to escape them. "
Finally headed into central Callifornia as I look out across beautiful Kennedy Meadows. This was the heaviest my pack had been to this point since it was over 152 miles to Vermillion Valley Resort.
The ridges past Death Canyon were extremely dry but I found a few patches of snow to scoop into my cup since hauling water on my back is something I try to avoid at almost all cost.
This was one of the most secure campsites of my trip near Cottonwood Pass. The cold wind was blowing hard here but this natural fortress of stone and snow provided perfect protection.
From my journal (June 1, Day-37)..."Highlight of the day or at least during the morning was passing by so much water... to the point that the trail seemed to be paved with water, a wish that I had while in the desert. It was also nice to be hiking in the first mountains above 10,000 feet. After crossing Death Canyon Creek I should have filled up a water bag but I didn't and had to hike over 12 hard miles with no water. Fortunately, there there was plenty of snow that I sun melted as I hiked and I just ate the ice crystals from my cup as I hiked. About a mile from Cottonwood Pass I had to stop for the day with very cold and gusty winds. I found a super wind protected spot partially under a huge piece of granite with a log blocking some of the wind on the opposite side... such a cozy and secure place to make a camp. I saw no other people on the trail today. "
|Through the desert and Sierra's I very rarely had to set up my tarp since southern California has such a wonderfully dry climate.|
|As I entered the Sierra's, finding a nice log over a creek became a rarity and fording the numerous streams became the rule. If you hate getting your feet wet over and over again, then you'll hate this trail!.|
From my journal (June 2, Day-38)..."My pack was still very heavy after leaving Kennedy Meadows with a weeks worth of food on my back, but it was getting a bit lighter and it was nice having a good variety of food from which to choose. From Cottonwood Pass it was 40 (F) degrees and windy at first sun and it was nice to have enough winter clothing and a warm sleeping bag. Passing by several patches of melting winter snow I hiked a long down hill to the valley floor at Rock Creek with it's rushing clear water and green grass meadows. Climbing up hill again I'm having lunch when Galen and Anna hike by. It was so nice to see them again and 20 minutes later the 3 Amigo's pop in to fill up their water bags at the nearby creek.
At Crabtree Meadows it is the first serious fording of a creek which is at least 20 feet across so I scurry about looking for a balance stick, which there are none. Finally I decide to cross barefooted which worked just fine, then on the other side I put back on my nice dry socks and shoes then hike on with a new sense of pride and confidence. Not far away is the second fording at Wallace Creek where the freezing water afrom the early spring snow melt is crashing whitecaps down the mountainside, so I decide to cross here wearing only a pair of socks. Boy, was that a mistake! The water was so icy cold and I struggled to hold my balance as the rush of water paid no mercy to my vulnerable and greatly wavering stance to remain upright. About three quarters of the way across I finally have no other option than to submit face first into the drink! I was lucky that no one was around to hear my steady stream of obscenties as I continued my struggle for the opposite bank, where in the warm sun I stripped down to the bare butt (Ask me if I cared!) and dried my clothes hanging on the bushes around me. Eventually I left here knowing that some of my pride had been shattered and that I'd have to develop a much better strategy for crossing the many more streams to come. I hiked on until dark finally stopping in an old growth of tall pines high up on the ridge above Tyndall Creek. "
Climbing toward desolate terrain and Forester Pass.