Kennedy Meadows & Trail Families

The yuccas, lizards, and Joshua trees have stopped and the trails turn into a lusciously green meadow. Just over 700 miles into the hike hikers trek into a general store parking lot in a town with a population of more squirrels than humans, the deck is filled with cheers and applauding from other hikers congratulating any new hiker for making it out of the first section of trail. Kennedy Meadows General store is the spot on trail where everyone congregates to prepare for the Sierras by gathering new gear, finding a group to hike with, or figuring out rides to a separate part of trail to flip past the snow of the high Sierras. I arrive at the store already having a plan and a group, all I need to do is get an ice axe, yummy food, and laugh with fellow hikers. 

The Struggle Bus

Like all good things, it started at McDonalds. Way back when on May 3oth I’m hiking over to a McDonalds that was right off trail with a guy named Beta whom I’d been hiking with/around since day 3. When I arrive I recognize another hiker, Runway, who I briefly met in the first town on trail and haven’t seen since. Runways has been hiking with another guy named Shreds since San Jacinto. We laugh, buy McGangbangs then before leaving Beta tells me that his dream Sierra group would entail Runway and myself. Beta simply enjoys our company but more importantly, Runway has mountaineering experience which would be key to making it safely through the snow-packed traverses. As time goes on the four of us continue to hang out together, staying in towns, rotating who will buy the next 30 rack, planning the next resupply, and where we will set up camp each night. This trail family feels seamlessly formed.

Some of my favorite moments with them: 

  • We had a mini dance party balancing on bars around a monument on top of Mount Baden Powel
  • There was a road walk because trail was closed due to endangered frogs but the road was closed to cars as well so we were able to walk 4 across in the middle all enjoying each other’s company.
  • The group lost Beta one day after he decided to not leave his tent till he ran out of water. Shreds Runway and I are camping at an Ostrich farm. Just as I’m writing in my journal that I wish Beta was with us he surprises us all by arriving at the farm after a 30-mile hike to catch up with us. 
  • The next day was the LA aqua duct (hike the pipe!) and I laughed so hard that not peeing myself was the hardest thing I had to deal with during that stretch.

As a group, we like to sleep in and have an easy-going morning. One morning each of us left about one hour apart from each other. One by one throughout the entire morning we kept passing this one group of three people. They joked with Shreds (the third one to leave the camp) saying that we were the Struggle bus when it comes to trying to get out of camp. So we cherished the name, since sometimes we might not roll out of camp till 10 am. Friendship grows quickly when you spend every single day together and we are all committed to sticking together through the Sierras.  


Other families 

Other trail families we met along the way are at the General Store deciding to skip the Sierras or split up. This one trail family of 8 people hiking together for over a month at this point was splitting up three different ways. Another trail family was having two members get off trail temporarily. Goodbye to friends is a common sight here. On the other hand, some single hikers want to go through the Sierras, and are looking for someone to link up with that they vibe enough to be within 200 feet of each other day in and day out. I began to feel even more grateful for the friends I gathered, the logistics to figure out and stuff to stress over were next to none during these day.

In the stars 

A few days before Kennedy Meadows I was cowboy camping next to Runway and we were discussing having a place among nature instead of having a feeling that we are just something that passes through this trail. Rather than stepping down on rocks and dirt, he feels an energy that is being returned and we are being supported by the crust. People always say “The trail provides” saying that your needs on trail are always met in almost a magical way. I believe that I was drawn to these boys more than just because I enjoy their jokes but maybe because in some way I am being granted the perfect opportunity to have safe passage into this next section of trail. If I didn’t have my Struggle bus I would be skipping the Sierras no doubt. While I’m telling Runway this under the stars, a shooting star flashes across the sky and for that moment I felt like I was where I needed to be more than I did on trail ever.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?