Entering The Parks
My Trek from Bishop Pass to Kennedy Meadows South
This is a weird one. I’m continuing my day count from Bishop Pass and not including my many off days due to the closure in my count. I wanted to write about the section between Bishop Pass and Paradise Valley Trail once and it’ll be written SOBO.
Here’s the summary of it all: We entered the park at Paradise Valley Trail, then took the trail to where it intersects to the PCT and hiked north 30 miles to Bishop Pass and then back south. This long detour made it work out that we stay in the park until the order is lifted and we could get out of the Sequoia/Kings Canyon Park boundary on the 17th (when the closure expires) and then head to Kennedy Meadows South through Inyo Forest legally.
When looking at coming back after hitting Kennedy South, we wanted someplace we could more easily get back on the trail. This meant getting on at Tuolumne Meadows and then hiking back to Bishop Pass after the California closure opens. Then from there we could take the bus to Inyokern and get back to Kennedy Meadows South via the Trail Angel Pancakes to then hike SOBO to the border! The whole thing is a mess and I’m very optimistic that the closure will open! If it doesn’t then we’ll see what to do then.
Doing it this way means that I will still have missed 700 miles of Northern California, BUT that’s way better to me than missing all of California. If I can accomplish all of this I have completed the PCT. At some point, I will return to do Northern California. I do want to experience it in all of its beauty.
The day started with the Ranger Nessa chatting with Mousetrap and me as we finished packing our stuff up. She told us there were three new lightning strikes in Sequoia Park, but it was the west side of the mountains so we should just keep an eye out.
The first part of the day went by hot and slow. I took breaks by the rivers and ate my bars. I did smell my first ponderosa pine bark, it really does smell like butterscotch!
As soon as I started the pass, the surroundings were so beautiful. As I hiked up, water fell from the rocks to my right. The sound was therapeutic as the pass kicked my butt.
Mousetrap and I arrived at Palisade Lake at about the same time. We met a big group of JMTers as well as a PCT SOBO, Indy. We also went swimming in the BEAUTIFUL lake.
Indy had been there a few days waiting for the Dutch Girls and Mudskipper and seemed to be bummed out about the closure. Mousetrap and I invited him with us because we’re going to Mexico!
Only five more miles to camp but the last half mile kicked my butt more than the first few miles up. And then we all headed down the mountain to the first established campsite.
This morning the three of us hiked together and chatted. And then we got stuck at a river crossing for quite a while eating lunch. The group of JMTers we met yesterday had lunch with us. And then Smudge and Mudskipper appeared out of nowhere! What a happy day.m to see other SOBOs who haven’t given up!
There are some beautiful lakes we stopped and hung out at. The nice thing about planning on doing 15s is you don’t have to wake up so early and you can still take a lot of breaks to soak in the beauty of the mountains.
Smudge and Mudskipper stopped just before the pass. But Indy, Mousetrap, and I had enough energy to keep going. Again, the last half mile kicked my butt, I wonder if this will be a reoccurrence. Naturally, the three of us took a pass selfie. And then about 6 more miles to camp! We did a little bit of night hiking to get there. That’s what happens when you sit at a river for hours hanging out.
I did not feel like moving this morning. Indy took off with Smudge and Mudskipper when they got to our campsite. Mousetrap left a bit before me, but I think we were both bumming about the forest closure because I quickly caught up with him and we chatted about it as we drank water from the river we were stopped at.
The rest of the day just dragged on. Indy messaged me that he was just staying at Rae Lakes and I was in agreement to stay there as well.
It was a beautiful spot and I want to come back and do more hiking here. We saw nine deer coming into camp, too, so that was so neat. It was a long hot day. And we didn’t make it over the pass. Oh well. Late start and a beautiful campsite tend to do that to me, and that’s what I wanted in the Sierras, not to pass up a beautiful camp spot.
Smudge, Mudskipper, Indy, Mousetrap, and I ate breakfast together before heading out. News reached us that the forests were opening at midnight tonight! A day earlier than it was supposed to! I can at least finish the Sierras!
Glen Pass was a really cool rocky climb. We all made it up in pretty good time and shared snacks at the top. We parted ways on the descent, as Mudskipper and Smudge were going to get off at Kearsarge Pass to resupply while Indy, Mousetrap, and I were going to keep going.
Indy did go with them for a part of the trek as he needed to grab some food from the Ranger station.
At around four p.m. everything got smokey and I hiked in the N95 mask I had for the first time. This was the same as Oregon. The air was OK throughout the day and then it got bad after three p.m.
Indy met Mousetrap and me at camp with some unfortunate news. Mt Whitney was closed and Sequoia Park would be closing due to fires caused by the lightning strikes a few days ago. The Ranger said we could still hike though, it wasn’t advised- but we couldn’t climb Whitney.
We agreed that we would discuss in the morning what we would do, either go back and get off at Kiersarge Pass or continue up Forester Pass. But for now, we were going to eat the pears that Indy brought from the Ranger and eat the rest of our dinner. I slept in my N95 tonight.
I woke up to minimal smoke and I immediately decided I was going to keep going. The air was fine and I could deal with smoke in the afternoons. I really don’t want to miss any more miles if I can help it. Mousetrap was in agreement with me, it felt like Oregon with the smoke to him as well. Indy said he was bailing, he thought the smoke is just going to get worse and he really didn’t want us continuing either. It’s interesting how that works. I had a good feeling about it all, and Indy had a bad one.
Getting up Forester Pass was better than everyone warned me about. Except, (broken record here) the last half mile. They always tend to go straight up and my legs are on fire! It was a really cool climb though, there was a little saddle walk which is my favorite!
We were correct about the smoke coming in at three p.m. and I again hiked in my N95. There were some crazy meadows, and with the smoke, it looked like you might walk off the edge of the earth.
There were some comments on Guthook about the water tasting like algae and it was not wrong. Luckily our campsite had good water and we were shielded by trees. We also had the convenience of using bear boxes for our things. Although I have yet to see a bear! All of the stories from the NOBOs had me thinking I would see a bear every night.
A beautiful day! Hardly any smoke. Trees everywhere! Unfortunately, we’re not hiking Whitney. It would have been the perfect day for it. But at the time we thought it was closed. Oh well, that will be another adventure.
Throughout the day today, I saw a significant amount of wildlife, a few deer and a little fox from a distance. The huge sequoia trees are so magnificent!
The smoke did start rolling in in the evening. It was crazy to watch it follow us as we continued south.
We were packed up and ready to go this morning before nine a.m.! That beats the 11 a.m. start we’ve had the last like 5 days. It’s just so cold in the mornings, I don’t want to escape the warmth of my bag. I woke up last night to the smell of smoke, but in the light, there wasn’t much to be seen. I still feel safe walking through this, and there are blue skies above me.
I’m ready to get to Kennedy Meadows South and get that bandana! And of course shower.
The smoke got worse throughout the day, I didn’t think it was dangerous until about eight p.m. in my tent. I decided to sleep with a mask on. We’ll see how this goes. Hopefully, tomorrow is better.
We’re on day nine out here and we’re ready to have real food. This will be the first time I’ll have eaten all of the food I packed. It definitely is a nice change instead of carrying my next resupply into town.
Everything has looked the same for the past three days, but we finally walked into a large valley… with cow tracks? And cow poop.
We camped by a bridge near a mostly dry creek that has cow poop everywhere. We walked quite a bit downstream to collect where it was flowing.
The terrain has changed a lot. There are cacti! It’s all downhill and I get a PCT bandana soon!!
We have a total of three bars left and a hiker box special that tasted like dog food. I’m ready for a burger!
Walking into Kennedy Meadows South was very odd. It’s a small small town that’s pretty spread out, much different than the small towns in Washington. Since we got in at about four p.m., we bought some snacks from the general store and ordered burgers. We would have to go to Triple Crown Outfitters and see Yogi tomorrow.
Mousetrap and I camped behind the general store and made more food to eat later that night.
We woke up and just hung out until the general store opened at 11 am.. and then Mousetrap and I ordered burgers, fries, and fried zucchini. We began talking to the locals that also arrived at the store and one was a triple Triple Crowner!
One couple then drove us to Yogi’s triple crown outfitters. I was finally going to get the bandana that I’ve been talking about for months. We also resupplied with her. It made me feel better to resupply at a small business too.
We then began talking about how we’re thinking about going from here to Tuolumne to finish the Sierras. Immediately she was on the phone with someone that we could stay with in Ridgecrest ab and that she could take us there in the morning. Then we can catch a bus to Bishop and then to Mammoth to catch another bus into Tuolumne. After my shitty time in Yosemite, my belief in people is coming back. I am so appreciative of the people that are so willing to help us.
Yogi then took us back to the general store where we were staying. I wanted to experience Grumpy Bear’s too but it was closed.
We hung out with the locals some more and had great laughs. Then Scott walked up. His right leg was amputated below the knee and we immediately bonded. I was so happy to see another person like me who is unashamed of who they are.
Days 80 & 81
Yogi drive us to Ridgecrest to stay with the Trail Angel Pancakes. She was going down for groceries and said she didn’t mind taking us down. What a wonderful experience! She cooked us a Thanksgiving dinner, and for breakfast, we had breakfast burritos and pancakes with eggs and sausage. It was so wonderful hanging out with Pancakes and her family all day.
The next morning Pancakes drove us to the bus stop in Inyokern so we could take the bus to Mammoth. Mousetrap and I met up with Guinness and we stayed together.
The sky is so clear! Guinness and I went to the grocery store to get some last-minute things and I may have bought too much food. I bought two pounds of cheese this time. I’m excited to take the bus to Tuolumne tomorrow and finish the Sierras!!
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