Back on the trail after two days at Kennedy Meadows. Stayed at trail angel Tom’s collection of trailers, and a pretty healthy group of hikers were there, most of whom I’d met before. The Kennedy Meadow General Store had a really large, socially inviting deck, so it was taken advantage of by everyone. I was able to get a shower & a clean towel for $3, and it was very well worth it. I’m sure those around me thought so as well!
The 140 mike section from Tehachapi/Mojave was rough. The highest temperatures of the trip for sure, and LOTS of sand walking. I aggravated my left knee, which was frustrating, not just from the pain aspect but also that I had to slow down because of it. I went from 23-27 miles a day to 15-17, but just for two days. I made it into Kennedy Meadows strong, though, covering the 22 miles in 7 hours & 15 minutes. I will walk very fast for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream! Especially after a section like I just walked through.
So now the Southern California section is complete, and Central California is next up, with the amazing Sierra mountains. This next section is chock full of goodies: 12 & 13,000+ foot mountain passes; tricky, icy river fords; Mt. Whitney (highest point in the lower 48 states, as well as home to the most expensive-to-maintain public toilet you may ever find!), lots of snow, swarms of mosquitoes, and oh yeah, snow.
Left the Kern River bridge at 6:30am, hoping to catch up with the rest of the gang I’ll be hiking through the Sierra with. My tent had a good amount of frost on it, as well as my shoes & backpack, and my sleeping quilt was pretty wet. Icy fingers worked quickly (although painfully) to pack up as quickly as possible, and just before 9am I caught up with the gang. They were just about ready to head out of camp, and were wearing mosquito headnets. I felt like I had just stepped onto the set of “Outbreak 2,” and someone forgot to tell me I was in the movie. Apparently they encountered a bad mosquito population at the higher elevation, and I encountered cold & frost down by the river. I’m not sure who came out ahead! It was really good to see them, and after a round of hugs, we were off.
The day was punctuated by several rest stops, amazing views of the snow-draped mountains we’ll be crossing shortly, and an awesome sunset that shone magnificently through the trees and mosquitoes.
Now we’re bedded down at approximately mile 738, and our food is safely tucked away in our bear canisters across the path, a good distance from camp. This is definitely bear territory now, and it’s mandated we use approved bear-proof canisters to store our food in. A couple miles back, at a spring we filled up with water, I saw bear prints galore. Fingers crossed that they go the other direction tonight, and dint like how us dirty hikers smell!