PCT 2018: Kennedy Meadows

PCT 2018: Days 40-48

Day 40:

Hiked 4.5 | at 571

Sleeping in a real bed was heaven. Fluffy pillows and a soft mattress kept me snugged up until 11:30 a.m.

We walked to the grocery store two miles away, ate some terrible Chinese food, and resupplied.

Soon enough we were back on trail.

Day 41:

Hiked 22 | at 593

The day felt long. I hiked slow and solo. The highlights of my day were seeing a giant jack rabbit and three deer, and taking an hourlong lunch break.

Day 42:

Hiked 19 | at 612

As we exited the desert section, it mystified me how different the landscape could shift.

A white pebble path bordered with sage brush, cacti, and flowering bushes.

A carpet of needles and pine cones littered the forest floor, bark giants standing tall.

Then, rocks, bleached and huge.

Then, Joshua trees and a beach-sand path. The land ever changing.

Day 43:

Hiked 23.3 | at 635.3

I was making my way up a slog-fest of a climb. Deep, soft sand made the ascent feel like a never ending beach dune.

I checked my phone to see how many miles I needed to go, 7.5. I looked at the black plumes that gathered overhead. I hoped the rain would hold.

Five minutes later, a thunderous roar erupted directly over me. Shit.

I was on a ridge. The worst place to be in a thunderstorm, high and exposed. The number one thing that’s been ingrained in me from hiking in the Whites: go to the tree line when weather turns. But my eyes scanned the trail. Nothing but low-lying sage brush. Double shit.

I did what my instinct told me: run. I ran along the ridge as the black clouds chased me. They boomed and clapped, making my feet faster. My curls fluttered in the wind; my hat almost took flight in a gale. I ran, praying I wouldn’t be electrocuted into a frizz puff.

Good news, I wasn’t. I’m here to recount the tale and say I ended up running 2 miles in 30 minutes off the ridge into safety.

Yay for adrenaline!

Day 44:

Hiked 16 | at 651.3

Wildflowers of purple, yellow, and white lined the trail. It was one of the best parts of the day.

I finished my 16 miles with trail magic! Cold drinks, beef brisket, turkey, loaded baked potatoes, chips, cantaloupe, and more. I feasted and thanked the trail angels. It was glorious.

We found a ride to Lake Isabella, a 30-mile hitch. Mountain Goat dropped us off at our Airbnb. Milkshake, Cowboy, Nicholas and I toured the Airbnb, impressed with how nice it was.

Hobbit, Cashew, and Princess showed up an hour later. Hiker happiness is an Airbnb, food, beer, and wine.

Day 45:

Hiked 0

Ken and Giancarlo showed up the following day. We conveniently found them in a parking lot after we ate breakfast. I got my box from the post office and joined the rest in the grocery store.

Giancarlo made burgers. We watched a birding movie, The Big Year, and Jurassic Park.

Day 46:

Hiked 9.5 | at 660.8

Back on trail–we had a giggly, good evening with lots of wrinkled-nosed laughter.

Day 47:

Hiked 20.3 | at 681.1

What I looked forward to: lunch and dinner.

Day 48:

Hiked 21.1 | at 702.2

I hiked with purpose. The landscape changed—arid mountains transitioned into wide meadows and distant pines. The day held significance; it was a milestone, mile 702, Kennedy Meadows, the gateway to the Sierra.

I hurried, hiking swiftly to get food at Grumpy Bear’s before the kitchen closed at seven p.m. I even passed Milkshake, Nicholas and Cowboy, a rarity.

An applause sounded as I approached the General Store, the Kennedy Meadows PCT welcome. I made it.

The General Store was bustling with people and thruhikers. A country band played on the deck as people drank and ate. I said hi to familiar faces: Clean Turkey, Cashew, Hobbit, Sailor, Waterfall, Curdled, Level, Birdie, and even GOLDEN! Yes, I caught Golden. Well, not really. Golden had been at Kennedy Meadows for ten days. The cold spring was preventing the snow from melting in the High Sierra, so he was delaying his progress north.

We picked up our packages, then hitched to Grumpy’s. Burgers and milkshakes—I eat like trash now, but honestly, I need to keep on weight anyway possible. I’m down ten plus pounds.

Thirty hikers gathered around a fire when we returned to our tents. Our group was splitting the next day. Nicholas and I were continuing north into the Sierra whereas Hobbit, Cashew, Princess, Clean Turkey, Cowboy and Milkshake were going to LA to see Paul Simon. I was sad. Nicholas and I had hiked with Milkshake since Warner Springs, mile 109. Now I’d be just the two of us.

1 thought on “PCT 2018: Kennedy Meadows

  1. Congratulations Nick & Julia!!! Keep going strong. We are all so proud of you guys back at home. Missing you & praying for you on your journey. The pictures are stunning, the stories are amazing. So happy you met up with Golden again at least for s short time. The purple flower path was breathtaking. Scary about the thunderstorm. I’m glad you are so smart & knew exactly what to do. Well good luck, I am so excited to see you soon. I love you! Keep Climbing. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

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