The Sierra: Kennedy Meadows-Lone Pine

Leaving Kennedy Meadows

I hiked out of KMS with a group I had met the week prior. Gravedigger, No Tape, Frypocket, and Old Faithful (Olf). I needed a group for the Sierra. In a record high snow year, it is especially not safe to hike alone. I had to wait three days on my bear can to arrive at the general store. The group I had been hiking with through the desert were leaving before then and I didn’t want to ditch my packages. So I said my goodbyes, wished them luck, and set off for the Sierra a day later.

On May 31st we left Kennedy Meadows by 6:00 a.m. After three days off, I could really feel the weight of my pack. Although my legs were burning with all my snow gear and my two-pound bear can that I couldn’t figure out how to pack properly, I was so happy to be back on trail. KMS was nice and catered very well to the many hikers that came through, but I was becoming very antsy with not a lot to do but talk about the Sierra, wait in the food line, or watch Con Air on the outdoor theater. The outdoor theater was pretty awesome though.

KMS outdoor theater

After hiking alone for so long, I had to relearn the dynamics hiking as a group, a new group with hikers I barely knew. I love hiking alone and being able to make my own schedule. Having to stick to the same miles or planning the same camp site was an adjustment because we all had to be in agreement. The slowest hiker is the fastest hiker.

We decided to do the shorter stretch to Lone Pine rather than an eight-day food carry to Kearsearge Pass into Independence. This way we could reassess and get an understanding of the intensity of the Sierra this year.

Day 1

We hiked about 18 miles the first day out snow free. The landscape was becoming less like the desert as we walked further into more dense pine forests, which excited me for what was ahead.

Day 2

The next morning, we began hiking around 5:00-5:30, immediately hitting snow. It was firm enough we didn’t need spikes for a couple miles until it got a little steeper. Day two was fairly easy. We could see a huge storm cloud coming our way and loud thunder, we put our rain gear on and raced to camp but only had a couple drops.

Day 3

On day three, we started the same time. We hiked through trees with huge wells and even had dry trail for a while. We went all the way to Mulkey Pass, a trail off the PCT to get to Cottonwood Campground. Once down the hill in the meadow we all laid down in a row to make snow angels. Getting down to the campground so early in the day we had time to kill. We played a game of cambia and I took a nap in the sun when I woke up to snow melt soaking my puffy jacket on the ground, the snow was melting fast. We camped there that night to then do the 14-mile road walk down the closed Horseshoe Meadows rd to Lone Pine the next day.

Day 4

The road walk was fun, it reminded me of when I road walked out of Wrightwood. There’s something about walking the double yellow of a closed road that makes me feel like I’m in a movie.

The views of the mountains were beautiful, Fry pocket and Olf pushed rocks down the side of the hill, we watched them tumble down thousands of feet.

Lone Pine

We got a ride from Lone Pine Kurt into town, a trail angel of sorts. We could tell Lone Pine was a really cool town as soon as we got there, passing the Alabama Hills, and down into the western style strip of shops and restaurants. As hungry hikers do when they get into town, we immediately scouted out a restaurant to eat.

Five hikers with big packs, dirty clothes, and messy hair took over the sidewalk. People around us stare, it’s honestly one of my favorite experiences as a thru-hiker. It’s humorous being filthy among the squeaky-clean tourists. It’s something I didn’t think about before I started, something I had to get used to in the beginning, and now barely notice the odd glances I get as I unpack my resupply outside the grocery store quite literally looking homeless, or clipping my toenails on a park bench which is arguably impolite. But hey, I’ve been living outside for two months.

After we ate at the Mount Whitney restaurant we walked across the street and booked a four-bunk hostel room for two nights. We admired the bright orange clouds over the mountains on the porch. Mt Whitney was among them, all I could think about was being on that summit, 14,505 ft. We planned to be there in the next couple days.

I ate a whole Americone Dream Ben and Jerry’s ice cream while we chatted about the trail and listened to one of Frypocket’s cool hunting stories in Utah.

It was our last night with Gravedigger, he was going back home to Washington but would return back to the PCT in a couple weeks. It was also our last night with No Tape, but we’d meet back up with her in Bishop. She decided she didn’t want to go back up into the mountains so she walked through the Alabama Hills and dirt roads all the way to Bishop, kudos to her making a plan to keep a continuous footpath.

In town there were a couple gear shops we checked out. Big Willies Mountaineering co. was the best on the street. First of all, there was a handmade fleece from NH I found as soon as I walked in. All the untapped waffles you need for your resupply, any piece of gear you need in the Sierra, and a really cool guy to welcome you in who happened to own the place, Blair, who was headed out the next day to do five 14ers in five days!

In his shop, he had a bunch of stickers, one I got was a quote by J French, “Pain is certain, Suffering is optional.”

I stuck it on the lid of my bear can. It’s something I’d repeat to myself every day for the next week in the Sierra.

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Comments 6

  • Yermo : Jul 12th

    What kind of pathetic adolescent assholery is this:
    “Fry pocket and Olf pushed rocks down the side of the hill, we watched them tumble down thousands of feet. ” Well how cute!
    • Leave What You Find
    Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
    • • • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them. • • •
    Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
    Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
    L-E-A-V-E N-O T-R-A-C-E Is that so hard to understand?

    • Emma Ramsey : Jul 15th


      • Coysy : Jul 24th

        Be a answer and enjoy life great hiking adventures 😀

  • ERIC Vanderleest : Jul 13th

    I appreciate the effort needed to do the PCT. As a NPS trailsworker in Kings, we hosted numerous thru hikers. Federal funds are regularly available to maintain the PCT. I enjoy reading daily rundowns, puts me back there again.

    Just wanted to remind all that rolling large rocks down steep, loose slopes is not a sustainable activity. Alot of negative impacts occur.

    Thank you for listening.

    • Emma Ramsey : Jul 15th

      Thank you for all you do maintaining trails for others to enjoy. The rock rolling was not on the pct but off the side of a closed road, with zero trails or people below. Definitely could’ve gone without doing it regardless. I am aware and do absolutely follow the principles of LNT. I appreciate your response, some people are not so gentle with their words on the internet.

      • Rob : Jul 23rd

        Good job Emma throw a rock for me off the side of the road . Be safe Rob


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