A cold beer and people clapping as I arrived. What could be better? That is what happened when Lucky and I arrived at the Kennedy Meadows general store.
The day began at 5:15 as I started packing up. I noticed that my tent had frost on it! I was on the trail before 6 and was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise over the mountains.
I felt anxious because I knew that there would be a strenuous climb to over 8,000 feet. That's a thousand feet higher than the typical climb. How would my legs respond? Would I be able to keep a reasonable pace?
At first the trail was easy as it followed the contour of the hills. I noticed what looked like a small skunk sleeping on the trail.
I was afraid to poke it for fear that it would wake up and spray me! What I found out later is that this was a baby skunk that didn't even have his eyes open yet. He had somehow fallen from his nest. Some other hikers found his nest and returned him to it.
By 9:30 I started up the big climb. My original plan was to stop at Fox Mill Spring to have lunch and get more water. However, it was 11:30 and I realized that I could go to the next water source because I had used very little water. Also, I wasn't really hungry for lunch yet.
I reached the top at 12:30 and my jaw dropped when I saw the view.
The Sierras stretched out before me! Now THAT put some power into my legs!
The trail then dropped down 2,000 feet to the Kern River. I was amazed at how dry and desert-like the mountains were. Also there had been a wildfire some time ago so all of the larger trees were simply skeletons. You might think going downhill would be easy, but I is almost as hard as going up because it works different muscles and you are slowing the weight of a heavy pack. It also can easily lead to twisted ankles or tripping if you take a bad step.
When I reached the bottom, I ran into Lucky, a guy I had met yesterday at Joshua Tree springs. We hiked together as we followed the river towards Kennedy Meadows. The river was a welcome change from the parched land that I have been hiking through.
By 5 PM we arrived at the Kennedy Meadows general store. Lucky bought a six pack of beer and shared with me. We both got our boxes and then headed behind the store to camp.
I am camped tonight at Kennedy Meadows, PCT mile 702.4. The elevation here is 6,133 feet.
Oh, did you notice?
I passed 700 miles since I started this adventure!