Day 29, May 24th
Start: Kennedy meadows general store, mile 702
End: camp in …. Meadow, mile 731
Miles hiked: 29
Got to bed late last night. As such, I had a late morning. I was off on my own around 8 am. The rest of my group was leaving around noon to hike a half day (13 miles) to south fork kern river crossing. I was sad to leave them, but know they’ll catch me soon. I was on a mission all day to get as far as I could to see my sister, Monica, and her boyfriend Joe as soon as possible. Thanks to the help of my trusty friend Andrea, they knew to start at cottonwood pass and head south on the pct. That’s roughly 50 miles from Kennedy meadows. However, it’s supposed to be beautiful, from what I’ve heard, so I felt safe having them start there. I wanted to get close to 30 miles in, so that I would meet them tomorrow morning somewhere on the trail.
The day started slowly in a beautiful open meadow. I was staring down some mountains, knowing I would climb by them on the trail. I was excited all morning at the thought of seeing the high sierras, Anne that helped ease the stress of my new monster load. I’ve gotten a new pack and sleeping bag (both much heavier than what I previously had) along with many other items needed in the sierras. I bet I came close to doubling my base weight. Bummer, but I want to sleep warm and be comfortable in the high mountains, so it’s needed. Everyone’s packs were getting much larger out of Kennedy. Add in a full resupply and it was quite the drastic change from my 10lb pack that I was running in the other day. I could feel it, most notably in my feet and knees. I better get used to it though, as I’ll be carrying this load until Lake Tahoe where I sent my small backpack and quilt to.
After roughly 5 miles I passed a bridge over the south fork of the Kern river. It was gushing over rocks. I never thought I would be so elated to hear the sound of rushing water. It’s been a long, dry hike through the desert. I’m ready for gushing streams and still lakes.
The trail climbed up steadily, and I could see the change in the landscape from desert to granite mountains as I walked further on. The trail was empty, save for a couple from Israel, Roy and Sarah. It was nice to hike alone. I stopped when I wanted to stop. Went fast when I wanted, and went slowly when I wanted. The freedom was nice, but I could tell I already missed my friends. I sat and filled water when I passed the river crossing where I knew they were all stopping at, and I couldn’t help but be tempted to stop. My legs were aching already under the new weight. But I cruised on, excited in anticipation of seeing Monica.
The trail eventually reached 10,300 feet near olancha peak. This was the highest the trail has been thus far. From this perch, I got my first view of mount Whitney and the high sierras. Mt Whitney is unmistakable, with it’s huge walls and gentle south slope. It’s an enormous mountain, with so much rock. It seems much more a mountain than a peak, as the sheer mass of it makes it look like it’s a giant plateau in the sky. Ive climbed it twice already, but never has it looked so intimidating and large as it did from this angle. I sat and drank my mango flavored drink, and chewed on some gummies as I took in the view. I’ll be there in just a few days, yet it looks imaginably far away.
I hiked the last miles as the sun set, reaching camp just before it got very dark. I searched the area to make sure Monica and Joe were not around. It would have been a 24 mile day for them to get here, and I didn’t expect that out of them. Looks like I’ll see them in the morning. I wonder where we’ll meet at? It’ll sure be exciting to see them coming down the trail in my direction!