A half-day walk to the Kennedy Meadows Store--the end of Southern California, and the start of the High Sierra.
- Date: Wednesday April 22, 2015
- Miles hiked: 10.51 PCT, plus 0.77 non-PCT
- Miles covered: 691.72 to 702.23
- Weather Report: Low 33, High 66. Morning was in the mid 50's to low 60's. Afternoon was cloudy, with steady rain from 4 to 5 and sprinkles into the evening.
- Wildlife seen: Almost nothing--maybe just one lizard
- Mood of the day: Eager to hurry up and repack and wait
- Craving: A burger
Brrr, it was chilly. Temperatures were down around freezing last night, and at 6:30 I was up and making coffee when I heard Sweeper say "See you at the store, Marmot" as he left. I peered out the tent flap to see him heading down the trail, and a bright blue clear sky above the still-ugly landscape--though I could see some curiously shaped granite domes across the river valley to the west.
This was a pack-and-go day, and I got on the trail around 7:15, an easy and quick descent to the Rockhouse Basin, with the south fork of the Kern River cuts through. The trail heads north from there some eight miles to the Kennedy Meadows store, following the river, sometimes getting close to the water's edge. The river is by far the largest flowing water so far on the PCT, 30 to 50 feet across, and deep.
I enjoyed looking across the river to the land to the west--the GPS said it's the Domeland Wilderness, and it looks spectacular, all sorts of weird dome shapes and forest. I must've seen it before, years ago on the one time I drove along its northern edge on Sherman Pass Road, but I don't recall thinking it was anything special. It'd make a good stop on a long weekend road trip from home--drive up, visit the store and the Domelands, keep heading west to the southernmost sequoia groves, then drop down to the Central Valley and back home on highways 65 and 99.
Around 11:30, I rolled up to the store (after being pestered and snapped at by a pit bull on the road--hikers beware, and walk on the south side of the road with traffic). Melissa was behind the counter, showed me the showers and laundry and campsite. I was the only hiker there, sniff... I'd really wanted to find a hiker or two to head north with, but none were to be found.
I picked up my packages and spent a good couple of hours digging through the goodies--ice ax, parka, hiking boots, fleece leggings, 2 1/2 pounds of Costco mixed nuts, about three dozen Clif bars. What was I going to keep? I think I'll take the ice ax, microspikes. Hiking boots probably not--they're not that much more supportive than my shoes, and they won't dry out very quickly during creek fords. Other stuff I'll figure it out tomorrow.
The store closed just after my laundry finished, and a few minutes later it started raining. Not light sprinkles, light rain, and I retreated to my tent and took a little nap and then once again reorganized stuff, repacking the bear canister. I also replanned, and made sure my overnight stops were at lower elevations than originally planned, generally anywhere below 10000' to keep warm.
Tomorrow I'll wait around, write some more, do some pictures, read a little. Grumpybears will be open too, and will be a welcome break during the afternoon for a burger. And hopefully some more hikers will show up that want to go north.