To Kennedy Meadows North

Day 142

Eager to get back on trail, I was up early. My tent was fairly dry due to the campground awning and an overnight breeze. I ate chocolate PB oatmeal then walked the short distance to Highway 50. A local on his way to a construction site gave me a ride to the Meyers roundabout. From there, a guy in a shiny red SUV gave me a ride to the Echo Summit trailhead.

My mom texted that Jimmy Buffett passed away… sad news. I put on a playlist of my favorite Buffett songs. The morning overcast turned to on and off drizzle. I ate my lunch huddled in the dry spot created by a large tree.

Midafternoon, I arrived at the Carson Pass visitor center. There was trail magic consisting of Nature Valley bars and other misc. snacks. I chatted with volunteers Todd & Sarah while I had a couple snacks and dried out a little. Then I beelined for the Carson Pass area high point. It started to rain again and I got damp. Shortly into the descent, there was a snowy patch with a well-worn boot track.

Then the rain stopped and bits of blue sky poked through the clouds, widening into a large section of sky. There was a fierce breeze so when I made camp in another mile I was fairly dry (my knees down were wet from bushes). I set up my tent in a sandy area with a slight downhill slope. The English couple from Tahoe, Voldy & Treadmill, arrived and set up their tent. We chatted for a bit until my toes got cold and I ducked into my tent to warm up.

Day 143

A rainy trail zero day! Mostly I hung out in my tent, happy I picked a great location. It stayed dry inside other than a couple spots near my head, which I avoided. A flowing creek only 20 feet downhill from my tent allowed easy water access. Voldy & Treadmill hid in their tent as well, so I had company.

I finished She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. It was fantastic from beginning to end with well-developed characters, humor, and a great story arc. The show used many characters from the 80’s She-Ra, yet made them more diverse in body type, skin color, and age, plus added LBGTQ+ relationships. I’m already excited to re-watch the series!

Day 144

The forecast alerted me that it would be a cold morning. I actually wore shorts so that wet brush would not saturate my lower legs and flood my shoes. To make up for it, I wore my puffy under my rain jacket, needing the extra core warmth. I also had on my beanie and gloves. At the top of the climb following camp, I encountered frost covered rocks and bushes. The cold did make me hike fast!

It was a delightfully sunny day and the terrain was gorgeous. There were sweeping vistas, patches of snow, and blue lakes of varying size. I particularly liked East Lost Lake with its horseshoe shape and Lower Blue Lake with its scattering of rock islands. Eventually I took a delayering break and before noon I took a snack & drying break on a rocky outcrop overlooking Tamarack Lake.

Prior to lunch, I listened all the way through my Jimmy Buffett playlist. Then I started a new audiobook, A Man Called Ove. Good timing, as my anterior tibialis muscle started to ache in the afternoon. The fact that my injury persists made me despair a little about finishing the trail, however, I think my new shoes will help a lot and I am so close to them!

After 22.5 miles, I set up my tent in a white sandy area with great views. A gal named Slider stopped to eat her dinner. We chatted, it turned out I met her last summer at the Blue Ridge Hiking Co. trailer in Hot Springs, NC. This trail will complete her triple crown and then she plans to guide for Blue Ridge, which is Jennifer Pharr Davis’s company. It was Davis’s book, Becoming Odyssa, that inspired both Slider and I to hike the AT.

Day 145

Another chilly morning, though this time I wore pants and did not need my puffy. I passed a lake that was mirror smooth, reflecting trees and mountains. My muscle strain did not hurt at all. That it recovered with a night’s rest gave me confidence about finishing the trail. Meanwhile, in our group chat, Sandbag is getting off trail in Mammoth Lakes due to a knee injury. That’s a bummer!

As the day progressed, I was on the lookout for Sky-Hi, who was headed north from Sonora Pass. Hobble-it and Sandbag tried to meet up with him prior to the rainy weather, however they missed one another. I stopped at a tent site beside the trail to eat lunch and dry items. Getting ready to depart, I saw Sky-Hi coming down the hill! He saw me, dropped his pack, and gave me a long hug while saying he really needed to see a friend.

Sky-Hi and I chatted for 2.5 hours, comparing our different paths to the Canadian border and detailing all the adventures that had befallen us since. It was really nice to hang out with a friend. I needed that hug too! He said to reach out if I am ever near Boston.

A couple hours later, a giant jack rabbit with white feet and a grey body bounded across the trail! When I reached my intended campsite, it was getting dark. There was a string of potential sites prior, but none appealed, and most were close to water. The site I chose was on top of a rocky knob and had a spectacular view!

Day 146

While I ate breakfast in my tent, I happily gazed at lofty peaks dotted with snow. I hoped for a beautiful sunrise, but it was cloudy that direction so there was only a slight pink color. To start, the terrain was rolling with abundant water sources, all navigable via rock hopping. Then came a 2,400 ft ascent up the north side of Sonora Pass, to 10,500 ft.

The views from the descent were epic. A vast sea of peaks filled the distance with knobby, brown rock formations in the foreground. At the bottom was Highway 108. I waited with three other hikers, all of us sticking thumbs out for a hitch. A trail angel came by in a full car and arranged a hitch in the car that followed hers. We convoyed to Kennedy Meadows Resort Ranch.

At the ranch, I picked up my resupply box which contained new shoes, my BV450 bear canister, and six days food. My dad is an amazing packer; he got it all in one box. I smiled at the peanut M&Ms stuffed in a shoe and left the bear canister as he’d packed it, figuring I couldn’t do better. Then I splurged on the hiker package: $50 for a dorm bed, laundry, shower, WiFi, and morning shuttle back to the trail.

The hot shower felt amazing! Laundry did not entirely remove the stink from my owl Darn Toughs, though they got softer. I ended up sharing my dorm room with three other female hikers: Down Unda, PBS, and Chicken Dinner. It was nice to have company and chat.

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Comments 4

  • Dino : Sep 14th

    Wait. So you’re heading northbound to Washington? And you’re just now reaching Kennedy Meadows?

    • Emily Rahn : Sep 19th

      Due to the heavy snow year in the Sierra, I’m doing a flip flop hike so I’ve been from Campo north to Walker Pass and Chester north to the Canadian border. Now going south from Chester to Walker Pass. Like me, a lot of hikers are filling in their Sierra gap right now.

  • Shirley Freitas : Sep 15th

    Good luck! I am a native of Sonora and my ancestors crosses Sonora Pass in a wagon train. They had to take the wagons apart to get over. A mountain in the area is named for them, Duckwall Mountain.

    • Emily Rahn : Sep 19th

      That’s a neat family history!


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