Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows

Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows

May 17, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0566.5
End: Halfmile 0583.5
Distance: 17.0 Mi
Cumulative: 578.5 Mi

Before I left, an old friend hoped that I would find “…much Trail Magic waiting at every turn.” Oh, how that wish has come true. Coolers filled with soda, fruit and candy; water caches; Trail Angels; easy hitchin’; new and instantly dear friends; love from home and all corners of the country. Out here, every little thing feels like magic.

Yesterday at the PO, I picked up three (yes, THREE!) care packages. In these three boxes were untold scores of treats and encouraging words. There were energy bars, gels, chewies, candy bars, roasted cashews, jerky, drink mix, homemade peppermint bark, lunch money, and so much more. After I finished sorting and repacking, I scolded myself for not getting a photo. I was sprawled out on the grass in front of Save Mart, goodies and treats all around me. It was an epic scene. I’ll have to remember to get one at my next care package pick-up in Sierra City. Loved reading the notes and letters after I set up camp last night. Huge shoutout and mad love to Daniel; Gramma and Grandpa; and Marrissa, Allisha, Shanna, and Deanna. Your words of love and encouragement warmed my heart on a cool night. Better than Fireball Whiskey…and I like Fireball.

May 18, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0583.5
End: Halfmile 0609.0
Distance: 25.5 Mi
Cumulative: 604.0 Mi

One month, today! Boo-ya!

Didn’t make it to Golden Oaks Spring until around 1030p last night, so I slept in a little bit. I earned it after climbing up out of Tehachapie. It was stout with six days of food and a few liters of water. Finally in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. The epic passes won’t start for another week or so, but it’s getting real. Next stop: Kennedy Meadows.

On another note, I finally met Rocket Llama! Heard about her from Chelsea and Hilary, who were both on the PCT last summer with her. She had a pretty epic experience there at the end when she got trapped in a snowstorm in Washington just outside of Trout Lake. I got to hear all about it first hand. Crazy. She started over at the Mexico border this summer. Talk about dedication! She’s a cool cat. Psyched I ran into her!

May 19, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0609.0
End: Halfmile 0639.0
Distance: 30.0 Mi
Cumulative: 634.0 Mi

Climbing out of Tehachapie, it looked like maybe we were done with the desert. There were more trees and vegetation. It was starting to remind me of my time in the Northern Sierra. Makes sense; this is the Southern Sierra. But today has been a reminder that we’re not done with the desert just yet. Long, exposed waterless stretch. Loose sand in my shoes. Hot, windy. We descended out of the mountains early today and have been walking in sand nearly all day long. So grateful for Bird Spring Pass Cache – a true oasis in the desert. It’s obviously been stocked in the last day or two and is easily one of the best-placed caches so far. Magic!

May 20, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0639.0
End: Halfmile 0665.0
Distance: 26.0 Mi
Cumulative: 660.0 Mi

Started out at 530a this morning with my eye on another 30. After talking to a SOBO (southbound hiker), I decided to camp closer to Joshua Tree Spring. I was shooting for Spanish Needle Creek, but he had spoken to some NOBOs who saw a bear in that area. I don’t have a bear canister yet, so I figured I’d just dial it back and play it safe. It was nice to take a long lunch and just enjoy a more leisurely day.

It was cold with thick fog this morning. It even rained but just barely. The moisture in the air was heavy all morning, and I only rarely caught glimpses of blue sky. I’m not really looking forward to awful weather, but it was kinda fun today. Different. I like different. It’s all part of the experience!

I found a sick campsite right at the 1/4 milestone. I can’t believe I’m halfway to halfway to Canada. Does that make sense?

May 21, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0665.0
End: Halfmile 0702.0
Distance: 37.0 Mi
Cumulative: 697.0 Mi

OK, now I’m talking about some weather. Nothing serious, but it’s definitely getting interesting out here.

Started my day at 5a, because I wanted to cover 28.5 miles and get into camp relatively early. There were lots of clouds again, but nothing came of it all day. Well, at least not until I neared the top of a big climb just before my descent toward Kennedy Meadows. At first, it was just some light rain. I dawned my Frogg Toggs rain jacket and pressed on. Right as I topped out, the snow and hail started. I just laughed. It was about to get uncomfortable, but Second Degree Fun is fun too. It had been snowing up there for a little while, because it was starting to stick and obstruct the trail. I could still see it pretty clearly, so I figured I’d just race down the other side and get under it. No sense in turning around now. It was probably just rain in the basin to the north too…right? Right. Either way I’d be setting up in the rain (or snow), so why backtrack?

I was soaked and in no mood to set up camp then pack up and hike another 10 miles tomorrow morning, so I just kept going. I made it to the road that would take me to Kennedy Meadows around 830p. It was a quiet night. I couldn’t believe that I saw headlights coming towards me just a few short minutes after I arrived. I was standing by the side of the road in the pitch black dark with my headlamp on trying to decide whether to camp or hike the last 3/4 of a mile up to the general store. The car stopped. They actually stopped. Turns out they were two French guys who knew nothing of the PCT. I was just some sketchy dude standing by the road in the middle of the night with a backpack, and they stopped. Weird. But awesome. They offered me a lift. I felt silly accepting, but I was cold and feeling lazy, so I jumped at the chance to sit in front of a heater and rest my weary body. I covered 37 miles today, all told.

They shuttled me the short distance to the store. The younger of the two had offered me the front seat – or rather, insisted that I take it. He passed me my pack from the back as he got out, then they drove off. I was so happy to have finally arrived at Kennedy Meadows that it took me a moment to realize…he hadn’t passed me my trekking poles…and I hadn’t asked for them. I just smiled to myself. No stress, just a calm realization that I was going to be uncomfortable and that it was no one’s fault but my own. How like life. There are worse things. At least it wasn’t my camera or my wallet. Trekking poles are easy to replace. And mine weren’t that nice anyways. Guess I’m breaking in the High Sierra without my sticks. If these things come in threes, I’ve got one more comin’. No whammy, no whammy, no whammy.