Distance hiked today: 19 miles / 30.6 km.
I was glad to be hiking by 6am today, as the trail traversed an open ridge with no shade. The air was still, and I sat on a log listening to the silence for a short while. Only a distant bird chirping, a bee buzzing by on a mission, and a lizard scurrying across the dirt.
I walked 10 miles to the water - a small creek barely flowing, and I scooped water from a shallow pool with a Ziploc bag.
I walked another 9 miles to the road leading to Kennedy Meadows, and passed the 700 mile marker. I didn't see anyone else all day.
Kennedy Meadows is known as the gateway to the Sierra Mountains, signaling the end of the desert. It's an iconic stop on the PCT, where we switch out our gear for colder weather, snow, and adding a bear can. There isn't much here, just the original rustic General Store only 0.6 miles off the trail which hosts hikers, and another restaurant down the road. The store has an outdoor patio where hikers hang out, an outdoor shower, laundry machines, and camping.
It's tradition for hikers sitting on the patio to clap and cheer as other hikers arrive. Reaching Kennedy Meadows is an accomplishment in itself, having overcome all the challenges of the desert, and we celebrate each other knowing what it took to get here. In 2019 when we arrived there was no one here to clap us in - we were early in a high snow year and most hikers weren't entering the mountains yet. This time though, the patio was full and erupted in cheers as I walked up the road alone. It feels good to be back. This was the last stop for me on my 2019 attempt before ending up in the hospital in Bishop, only 86 trail miles from here.
I saw many hikers that I knew or had met before - there's a bubble of people that have been here a few days.
The camping out back stretches on forever, with tent spots spread out through the bushes. I was camped quite far back and had a hard time finding my tent in the dark among all the others. Someone wished me luck… it took him 45 mins to find his tent last night. I eventually found it, and slid into bed looking forward to tomorrow when Colin will be arriving!
Total trail mileage: 702.2 miles / 1129.8 km