PCT DAY 39: Mile 702 (Kennedy Meadow) – Mile 720.7
Sunday May 22, 2016 – 18.7 miles (30km)
Staying at Kennedy Meadows has come to an end. So sad to see so many people we’ve met and hiked with over the past 5 weeks scatter in different directions. Some are taking a week off to go to San Francisco, some are heading home for a short break, some are skipping the Sierra mountains all together and some are heading north to Castella at around mile 1,500 to walk south towards the Sierras hoping that the snow will have melted.
This morning the campsite at Kennedy Meadows looked a bit deserted. Hammer & I were packed up and were ready to go just after 6am. It was freezing cold. The thermometer at the store read 28°F (-2°C), so yes technically it was below freezing. With 2 other hikers we waited for the store to open to get a hot drink and for the sun to come up over the mountains.
The sun is surely the giver of life. As soon as it hit the open area in front of the store hikers were like lizards drawn to its warmth.
The people at the General Store have been fantastic, answering questions and helping our where they could. This morning they got the pot belly stove fired up and invited hikers to eat breakfast by the warmth of the fire. We had a quick hot drink and were on our way.
It was great to be back hiking. My trepidations about the cold and the level of snow in the high mountain passes was somewhat lessened by the fantastic change in scenery we had right now. As we left the Kennedy Meadows campground we gradually ascended through a pass which opened up a view over a huge meadow. We followed the South Fork Kern River. Noticeably absent were the spring blooms lining the trail. But the broad open meadows and the distant mountain views were such a change from the desert, it more then made up for the lack of spring bloom colour.
We seem to climb quite a bit and by lunch were well and truly in tall pines habitat with little under story cover. And for some time we passed through a burnt section of forest.
Lots of climbing over fallen enormous trees, which made for slow progress. So sad to see such devastation. The contrast when moving into healthy forest was striking. Even though we were ascending, the grade was mild and we seem to gain elevation fairly quickly. It has been a brilliant start to the Sierra section. The sun was shining and there was hardly any wind which made for a most pleasant day.
We are planning on hiking straight through the big 5 passes of the High Sierra so we are carrying 10 days of food. Hammer had the bear canister with 7 days food because that is all that would fit into it. I had the rest of the food for the early sections before the bear canister is required for all food.
Today we stopped a bit earlier then planned since we found a great campsite which we hope will get the morning sun. We followed good bear safety practices. The bear canister with most of our food is stored away from the tent. And the first 3 days of food is hung up in a tree. Memories of previous camping trips in bear country are coming back.