The Flip (Mile 1332-1502)
Arriving in Kennedy Meadows South was surreal. Essentially everyone who I’ve met on my journey was there, prepping for the Sierras, planning for a flip, or generally freaking out.
If you haven’t heard, there’s some snow this year. In fact, there is no known documentation of a year with this much snow in the past century. What do hikers think when we hear this? Well I’d actually say most of us are excited for the challenge. When I hear historic I think, ‘Well when’s the next time I’d be able to do this?’
Why I decided to Flip
My mindset going into the PCT has changed quite a bit from when I initially started. At the beginning of the trip, I was dead set on ensuring I had a continuous footpath from Mexico to Canada. I wanted to watch California change from low desert, to high sierras, to rolling green hills over time and that was my main driving factor. To do this safetly in a high snow year meant I would need to go through the desert with minimal rest days and 20+ Mile daily averages. I was on track for the first 100 miles, but then I found a new pace.
I was adopted by a trail family who had similar ambitious goals, but also had a way of enjoying the peace and chaos of the trail in a new way. My mindset become less about making miles and more about enjoying each footstep with laughter and intentionality.
Long story short, with the severe weather conditions and high snow, I began to realize that I would not be able to go through the Sierras with the same sense of intentionality that I had walked the desert with. Yes, the Sierras would be epic in their own way, but I’m in a stage of life where learning to view life with a child-like perspective is more important to me than the challenge of the Sierras.
What’s the Plan Now?
Okay, so I decided not to do the Sierras…yet. Instead, I flipped up to Chester, CA and plan to walk to Canada from Chester. Once I reach Canada, I plan to go back down to Chester and began walking on the PCT until I hit Kennedy Meadows South. This way I can complete the whole PCT safety, and to be honest at the best times of the year.
Flipping has been stange because the majority of the people I know have decided to enter the Sierras. Starting in Chester essentially felt like starting the PCT all over again, with new friendships waiting to be formed. However, Lab Rat (who decided to Flip over the sierras as well) and I have quickly run into old friends and made new ones in the past 100+ miles.
The Drive to Chester
Kennedy Meadows South is an incredibly small town with not many people going in or out. Hitching out of the town to get to Chester wasn’t really an option, so I started thinking of other options. Thankfully, my incredible family, quickly and kindly offered to take Lab Rat and I to Chester. Initially, my Aunt Gloria, offered to take us up without me even asking. Though plans didn’t quite work out with this, I cannot describe the gratitude I felt that she would be willing to take 2 hikers up the mountains of California.
My Mom and Dad then graciously stepped in and drove up to Kennedy Meadows. When my parents dropped Lab Rat and I off, they walked with us for a few miles.
It felt like the begenning of a new chapter. My parents dropped me off, as they had done in mid-April at the begenning of my journey. We talked through the logistics of the next section, but also about the importance of our relationship to nature, trees, and hiking. I’m so grateful I was raised by such nature-loving, adventure-supporting parents.
The First Bit of Northern California
Northern California is everything I’ve wanted it to be and more. You name it, this place has it. Lava tubes, natural hot springs, snow capped mountains. This area has felt like I’m walking through a dream. Miles come easy now that there has been less elevation gain than what I was doing before, the trees shade the path making the days less hot, and the water sources are abundant.
Hopping in a stream to clean off has become more of a daily ritual than a once a week treat. This section has felt a bit like im living as Peter Pan. The trail is cruisy, adventurous, and filled with life. Everyone out here seems to be awestruck.
I was chatting with Popcorn, a hiker who has collected more birthdays than most of us, after he had accidently added 3 more miles of uphill to his day after getting turned around. He had a swollen ankle, the likes of which I haven’t seen, before getting lost. When I saw him, I thought he would be annoyed seeing as he had endured extra strain on his ankle by getting lost. Instead he was just laughing and talking about how beautiful the path was that he had accidently taken.
It’s all about perspective, and most people are fully aware that we are living the life we have dreamed of for years. Pains and aches don’t seem to hold much weight when you’re having the time of your life.
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