Jackrabbit Hikes: PCT Day 47-48

Day 47 – Kennedy Meadows (mi 702.2) -> Meadow Tentsite (mi 708.6)

So today I finally made my way out of Kennedy Meadows. We hiked out late in the afternoon with no intentions of going too far. The sun was beating and the elevation helped cut the heat. As we hit the dirt road walk back to the sun I couldn’t help but think of the miles to come. So much anticipation to get to this moment.

Once we got going for a while the cool temperature started to feel a bit warmer, I knew why in my case. My pack was heavy as hell. ~30lbs, up from my usual ~20lbs. But funny enough, it was still much lighter than some my heavy loads on the AT. With our massive packs, we headed to the first Kern river crossing for a dip.

After our late afternoon swim, we hiked one more hour to our first Sierra campsite. We through the middle of a grassy meadow in the mountain valley. The sun set on our left under a ridge and cast it’s massive shadow on its counterpart on the other side of the valley. Slowly the shadow overtook the golden light bathing the west-facing ridge beside us. We took a few final photos and found our way to our campsite.

A very easy start to what’s soon to be a very difficult section. There are so many opinions and plans circulating that it’s hard to keep track of what’s what. I try to keep all of that noise at bay. Everyone hikes very differently for very different reasons and I try not to let others opinions or advice interfere with my hike. Unsolicited advice has to be one of my biggest pet peeves on trail.

I opted for no ice axe till at least Bishop because I want to see the mountain passes on my own before I make the call. I just picked up some microspikes and intend to use them when things get dicey.

I’m ready for some real climbs, the big steep boys. Some of the passes look sick, like Mather Pass. I’m stoked to get further along into the steeper more dangerous stuff. I’m also just as stoked to get further along so I can feast on the contents of my bear canister and lighten my load.

Ready to hit it hard tomorrow. First night in the High Sierra’s. Life is good.

Day 48: Meadow Tentsite (mi 708.6) -> Sunset Tentsite (mi 732.6)

Oh man, going from my 30 F bag to 10 F bag has been the best choice. It’s only getting colder as we make our way above 10,000 ft. We cowboy’d last night in a straight line on a few combined strips of Tyvek and I slept like a baby.

We all got moving around 5:15 am and started making our way out of camp in the cold air.

“Be bold, start cold!” I chanted to myself. The cold wind was cutting me to pieces. Just as we watched the ridgeline sunset the night before, the sun was very late to reach the middle of the valley where we were – instead it opted to illuminate the opposite ridge of the sunset. It was stunning but left us super chilly until around 8:00 am.

The same time the sunlight finally reached us, we got our first views of the Sierra’s. An open grass meadow with rocky, frosty peaks across the horizon. Where the grass ends the pines continue the coverage up to high altitudes. Through the grassy valley below us the Kern River cut through. One of the best views yet.

The whole day was filled with the best views yet and the Sierra’s are just getting started. I hiked totally alone all day for the first time in a while and it felt great. It was a great day to have my headspace alone and to take in each view as long as I pleased. As much as I love company on the trail, I think I will always prefer to walk alone. Now camping is a different story. I always want company.

I’m excited for the next few weeks. New challenges. New landscape. New views. And Mt. Whitney. I can’t describe how excited I am to summit that damn rock.

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Comments 1

  • Rick : May 29th

    My wife and I are really enjoying your story and beautiful photographs. We grew up in Indiana and have lived in the west for most of our adult lives. Having lived in California, Nevada and now Oregon, we have lived within 25 miles of the PCT for over 40 years. We both are retired medical professionals and love hiking, especially on the PCT. It was always my dream to thru-hike the entire PCT, but just since you started your hike this year, I have just completed my second total knee replacement. At age 69, I think my dream of doing the entire trail has officially come to an end. But we are really enjoying the trail vicariously through your narrative this year. Some of your photos are just stunning, especially as you are now entering the Sierra. Having done most of my hiking over the years where you will now be for the next 500 miles, I am both jealous of you and excited for you, because I know what you are about to experience. Every once in a while, be sure to imagine John Muir doing this in his wool overcoat with pockets stuffed with bread to eat, and rejoice in the fact that you are able to be out there doing this amazing thing right now. As I said before, we live close to the PCT. We are about an hour away from the PCT just north of Mt Jefferson in Oregon. Maybe we’ll see you in that area as the season progresses. Keep on walking and writing!


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