I think I can manage it [ written June 6 re going into the High Sierra]. But I’m a bit nervous. I have never hiked much in elevation. I hope I can find a group of other hikers to go in with for this first part. Especially since I stupidly forgot to send myself an ice axe! Maybe I can buy one at the [Kennedy Meadows] store…?
The trail is slowly changing into mountain terrain and getting harder as well as more intimidating. I have once again switched up my gear for this next portion of the PCT.
Bag = same; Sleeping bag = Marmot 15 degree down Helium (thanks Joan and Rob); Bear canister (thanks Joan); Tiny weatherman multi tool instead of my Gerber pocket knife; Ptezl elite headlamp (had a heavier one); Pinch lite; Stove = MSR pocket rocket w/ 4 oz Isobutane canister (no windscreen) thanks Jack!; My original micro down Patagonia down jacket rubbbed w/ Nickwax (thx Frazier!); Solar panel is back (no battery pack); Will probably get rid of 2 water containers; New spark (Light My Fire mini); Heavier base layers to sleep in; Ear muff/band;
Sierras, here I come!
June 8, Kennedy Meadows
So, yesterday I arrived in Kennedy Meadows, mile 702. I did write my notes last night on my iPhone but it got all kooky and deleted my note before I was finished, so I will try to recapture my thoughts and notes from last night, as well as I can, although they were good then because they were fresh. So, I had an emotional day yesterday. I think I was anticipating this day for so long, and thinking about how much different the trail will become from that point on, that I got really anxious. I was in a hurry to get to KM, although I knew I wouldn’t be taking a zero there, so that I could meet Frazier at the Onion Vally trail head mile 790 by Thursday 6/13. So, that was messing me a bit too. Knowing that I wouldn’t have a full day off before then, and I was already tired. The hiking from Walker Pass to KM was not easy. Very hot and lots of ups and downs. Even had the first bear on the trail (I just saw prints, the guy behind me saw him, along with a few others that day).
Anyway, coming into KM I was stressed, emotional, exhausted, hot and hurting a bit. My foot started to hurt again and my hip was bothering me. I got in, went to the trail angel’s (Tom’s) place first (as it was just before the general store) dropped my pack, talked to a few hikers, and proceeded up to the general store so I could eat, do laundry and get a shower, because that was what I heard they offered. I got there and it was not quite what I expected an old wood cabin-line bldg w/ a huge porch FULL of hikers and a few locals with camping behind it.
I was all of a sudden so overwhelmed and just wanted to cry. I went in the store, asked about laundry and getting my box and saw that the list for laundry was so full, it looked like I wouldn’t be doing that. Then, I had to wait for my box because they were so busy. So, I bought a few snacks, ate them and sat down a minute and cried. I was so tired and overwhelmed.
Then I went back in the store to get my box and saw Ana (Someday) and Dance Party, and got a bit happier. It was good to see familiar faces. I chatted with them for a bit, then sat down at a table on the porch with them to just chill out. It helped. I even got to eat a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream – Cherry Garcia. Also got to see Spoons and Brian (Pebble Jumper) from before Wrightwood. I found out Ana and Seth were trying to leave that night (they got there yesterday) but Ana wanted to stay and leave in the am. I wanted them to stay so I could maybe hike out with them in the am. I am definitely nervous about this whole bear thing. I am a bit on edge about having to watch out for them and guard my food. I certainly can’t afford to lose my food from a bear robbery! I am also nervous about hiking in higher elevation and that I forgot stupidly to send myself our ice axe. Dolt! Thankfully, the snow this year isn’t as high and maybe I won’t need it! Still mad that I forgot it. But at least I will exit at Independence so I can get it then if I need. I really wish Frazier were with me on this first part. This is the first time on trail so far where I have felt this is really challenging and I’m scared. I also feel like I have walked 700 miles physically. My body is starting to show it and I don’t feel as strong because there is more wear and tear now. This brings me me to also worrying about pack weight. i added a few things, so it is heavier now. 😦
Back to my night at KM – I ended up camping outside Tom’s place, next to a guy named Dip (older trail angel) and Out and About who I met before at Warner Springs – very cool dude. I went through my gear and supplies before going to bed and got rid of extra food and items via the hiker box. I swapped out my leggings for fleece pants and just left the extra food that wouldn’t fit in the stuffed bear canister. Thank you Joan for lending me your lightweight can :).
Ana and Seth ended up staying and got up at 6am this morning to head out. I packed my pack pretty well considering the bear can had to be vertical and with 7 days of food and 2 liters of water it weighed 40 pounds. Not too bad. Could get that down still, but I’ll take it for now. It actually didn’t feel that heavy. So, before I left I chatted with both Dip and Out and About, had some excellent coffee that Tom made (mmm) and got out, alone, by 8:15 am. I completed my goal of getting to mile 719 (19 miles) and had a hiker behind me and Ana/Seth ahead of me. The day was pretty good, just gradual climbing of 2000 feet, and got to get into the south fork of Kern River [? page torn] again (YAY!) just before camp.
I am camping alone tonight and feel lonely and wish I was w/ others tonight. Mainly because of the bear thing. I guess I have to just get over it or I will drive myself crazy and paranoid. Tomorrow I will try to do 20 – so that for the rest of the week I only need to do 17s. I am definitely intimidated by Forrester Pass which is the highest point on the PCT. I won’t get thee til Weds, though, so enough time to acclimate. i’m hoping to hike that w/ someone, so it’s not as scary. Oh, also, I might have athlete’s foot. I get a hot burning sensation over my toes sometimes… ice. And my big toe is still getting numb off and on. Have I mentioned I will be so ready for a day off on Thursday? Luckily, though, I am here and I am very thankful and happy to have made it this far. i really can’t believe it, almost. Wow. Thank you God! Here’s to a wonderful South Sierra experience!
Peace and love, Jamie.