Day 49 Kennedy Meadows, CA Mile 702
After miles of desert, water caches, Interstate underpasses, the southern mountain ranges, and many nights under the stars, I have finally arrived at the foot of the high Sierra. All that walking certainly wasn’t for nothing, and those 40-odd days in the wilderness are packed with more than I can remember, but now the PCT makes an abrupt change. Central California. The Sierra. Mt Whitney. Snow pack at 200% of normal. Half a dozen passes over 12,000 ft. Swollen creeks and rivers to ford in the midst of the summer melt. Bottom line: I’m headed for some of the most baddest and beautiful country in the lower 48. This is John Muir’s territory, where granite spires rise from snow fields, ice-cold lakes gleam like jewels, and marmots cry out from atop boulders. The PCT and the John Muir Trail share the same foot-wide path over 100 miles through this rugged wilderness where no roads venture. From Kennedy Meadows, the trail takes to the crest and stays that way all the way to Yosemite without bisecting a single road.
Since walking from Agua Dulce, the unseasonably cool weather and the outstanding trail magic has continued. Bracing for 110 degrees across the Mojave, it stayed partly cloudy and never breached 80. The most serious drizzle of the trip hit my tent just after climbing out of the desert floor, but hardly counts. More water awaited us at streams that would normally be bone dry, and an abundance of trail magic kept the sodas and beer flowing. There was so much generosity and good luck during this stretch it is hard to recount. Spending 2 days at the Anderson’s Casa de Luna, lounging, playing disc golf, and listening to incredible live tunes from the talent of Iguana, Tickette, Pepe, Ramble On, and Mr. F*ing Gentle Spirit (Yes, it’s a motley crew out there). Hikertown, an eclectic trail angel stop for pizza and drinks before following the LA aqueduct across the Mojave. An afternoon of relaxation in the Mojave thanks to Good Spot and Wonka, thru-hikers from 2009 giving back to the current class with sodas, chips, and camp chairs. A friend of a friend in Tehachapi who put Hotrod and I up for the night and stuffed us full of pasta, burritos, and burgers. A venerable feast for the senses at Walker Pass put on by many PCT legends: Yogi, Warner Springs Monty, and Meadow Ed. And finally at Kennedy Meadows the magic was topped off from Boomer and Dr. Sole with their camper full of good eats and Tom and his renowned KM internet cafe. Tom’s place is just off the trail by the general store (the only business in town), where hikers have the option of a piece of flat dirt or staying in one of the dozen camper trailers that dot the property. It’s “where hiker trash meets trailer trash on the PCT,” and is one of those spots no thru hiker should miss. Signing off from this post, I’m headed to the outdoor projection theater for a movie under the stars. Hopefully there’s still a spot on the couch.
Thanks to everyone for the support and following along. There should be plenty more tales after the next 150 miles of high Sierra.