I Made it to Kennedy Meadows, Now What?!

I’ve section hiked 900 miles of the PCT and when I applied for a long distance permit this year I wanted to thru-hike continuously from Mexico to Canada. It was supposed to be a low snow year, but winter arrived and set records. It’s evident I’m comfortable hiking in snow as I own a pair of MSR Lightening Ascent snowshoes and multiple mountaineering boots, ice axes, and crampons. Not only do I have the gear, but I have trained to travel on snow and ice by climbing Mt. Shasta, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Whitney 13 times, including the mountaineers route, and I attempted Rainier last year, but did not succeed due to the route not being set. I knew there would be a window to successfully hike the Sierra before the thaw happened and once the thaw started it would take around two months before the Sierra was safer to enter and hike.

Mt Hood

It’s Complicated

As snow began to thaw and hikers began entering the Sierra, the signs of the harsh winter became evident. First, the bridge between Bishop Pass and Piute Pass was out which hikers use to get across the South Fork San Joaquin River.  Then, reports the suspension bridge in Woods Creek needs repairs. Also, photos of a fallen bridge over the Middle Fork San Joaquin River coming out of Reds is circulating. To complicate things more the roads to Horseshoe Meadows, Onion Valley, Tuolumne, and Sonora Pass are closed. So resupplying will be more complicated with long and heavy food carry’s. Let’s not forget what it takes to actually hike through the Sierra in a high snow year. It would be epic! But it would also mean waking up at 2:00 a.m. to hike on top of firm snow and then setting up camp once the snow became too slushy and post holing became problematic. There would be route finding, snow bridges, cold nights, hot days, and more gear.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?!

I arrived at Kennedy Meadows June 2 and there was already rumors of snow bridges failing. The weather was also bringing in more snow with a weather system over a week. What?! More snow in June? I wanted to enter the Sierra, but I knew the smart thing for me to do was to skip ahead. So, I’m headed north to Chester. I will continue to hike north and when I reach Canada I will then flip to Chester to hike south. This gives me the opportunity to see the Sierra the way I like it best; alpine lakes, gentle creeks, wildlife, and unbelievable sunsets. Stay tuned for my trek through Northern California.
Thanks for following along.

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Comments 3

  • Brock McDonald : Jun 9th

    Well reasoned decision. You can throw a lot of challenges at me but don’t mess with my sleep. Waking up at 2am… cold … still sleepy …dark. Forget that. Anyway, I’m sure it’s disappointing in a sense but good call from my POV and … Hike On!

  • okdv : Jun 10th

    Need more writers like this on here. No click bait, sound logic and decision making, clearly an experienced outdoorswoman, short and sweet article that says what it needs and doesn’t drag on like some minimum word count essay. Great job, good decision, and best of luck on the rest of your hike!

    • Beth Jeffery : Jun 10th

      Thanks! The weather the past week looks brutal.


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