Beginning Elevation = Approx. 6,500
Ending Elevation = 6,000
Weather = sunny, turned cloudy, high of 70°F
We slept in a solid 8 minutes longer this morning. It felt very refreshing. Consequently, we got on the trail around 6:38am. Our rain flys were quite damp, but we just stuffed them in to the pockets outside of our packs some way.
The first two miles of trail continued the meandering of our way down the canyon. We were even in sunshine right away, something that isn’t usually the case…we’re usually tucked behind a mountains in it’s shadow until the sun’s high enough to peak overtop. This stretch went quick and easy and soon we reached this view as we became close to the enormously large valley floor.
Then, just after entering the relatively flat lands, we stopped for breakfast after crossing over Manter Creek.
It was a nice spot and several hikers who had tented here the past night were still lounging around.
After breakfast, we turned and headed straight north traveling through large rounded boulders with steller views of mountains surrounding us and the South Fork of the Kern River running through it all. I loved this section, definitely added to the list of best yet!
We thought this might yet again be an upside down burried stone giant. This one would be the biggest yet and had some clubbed feet.
And these are surely the exposed back spikes of a subterranean rock stegosaurus..
Here are some more views of the valley…
The trail found its way north to the end of the valley and met the Kern River. Here it followed along it’s edge for a half mile or so before heading for higher ground. Even then, we would still pop out and see the river every so often.
Around 10:30ish, we reached what would be the last water source prior to reaching the Kennedy Meadows General Store, another 4 mile’s ahead. We stopped to fill up a tad. Earlier in the day I had challenged dad to a boat race and told him to start thinking about his hull design. Originally I had imagined this would take place on the mighty River Kern, but turns out it was a bit too mighty. So instead, we held the first ever Pine Creek Regatta. The contestants: Sumi the Sailor, Captain of the SS Mamba Junior vs. Dave H’s Violet Lupine Catamaran (another video that’s just super exciting 😉)….
Despite an absolutely crushing defeat, Dave H was able to continue on the trail with me with no hard feelings. Soon, the trail opened up to another wide valley, this time covered in sage bushes…
Then, we got to reach the 700 mile marker together!
The river ran through this valley too. Didn’t see anyone shooting the shoots.
Rather than stop for lunch, we opted to continue on and make it to our goal. Neither of us were feeling all that hungry actually. Around 1:00pm, we made it to this road crossing, which is where we would turn to walk up to the Kennedy Meadows General Store.
Upon arriving at the road however, a truck pulled up, dropped off three hikers, and then asked if we wanted a ride! It was a shuttle that takes folks to Grump Bears Retreat, which is past the General Store another few miles. There didn’t seem to be hostility between the places though (at this point), and we got dropped off a few minutes later.
Walking up to the Kennedy Meadows General Store was a big moment. This place is an iconic part of the PCT experience, a landmark on the trail that marks the end of the desert section and the start of the Sierra Nevada! So, it’s a pretty big deal reaching it. As we made our way up to the store applause and cheers broke out from those hikers already relaxing out on the front porch and grill area! It was a great feeling 😊 (I started recording after our cheering section unfortunately).
First thing we did was drop our packs and took a seat. Once, we got settled, we checked out the place and got some info. about the camping, laundry, and shower situation. Then, we each got a candy bar and beverage and celebrated getting to this milestone on the porch/deck!
After a while, we went and found some spots to pitch our tents (they let hikers camp in the woods behind the store). Then, embarked on our task of receiving our packages and planning/organizing for what’s ahead! I had one package from Moosejaw sent here with an ice axe and a dry bag and dad had shipped a seriously large and heavy box full of food. I also purchased my bear can (not beer can 😉).
We had originally talked of hiking from here to an exit pass about 8 days ahead, but due to the wintery conditions ahead, we’ve changed our itinerary to first shoot for an exit pass about 4 days ahead that leads to Lone Pine, CA. Thus, we went through the food and picked out a 4 day supply and the rest we ended up shipping by USPS to the town of Independence, further ahead. With this strategy we’ll have to resupply in Lone Pine from the local stores for the stretch following that town visit. After all that we felt pretty good about it, very accomplishing to get the stressful task out of the way.
While that all was going on, we did a batch of laundry. Our first attempt failed. After an hour our wash machine still hadn’t filled with water and so we switched it to the other machine. Once washed, we put out on the line to dry (no dryers here).
We debated on visiting Grumpy Bear’s place this evening, but ended up hanging around the General Store. For dinner we each did some Ramen Noodles and snacks. Throughout the late afternoon and evening, we saw many hikers coming and going. Of these were Cheer and Calzone who I was happy to get to welcome to Kennedy Meadows! I didn’t expect to see them this early, so it was very exciting to bump into them again at this junction!
Also, here’s a video of a random hiker I don’t know making it to the store! Gives you an idea of the comradery of the thru-hikers of the trail.
After dinner, around 7:30pm or so, dad and I were hanging on the porch and unexpectedly coming up the road was a lone hiker struggling up the hill. Our main man Kool-Aid had pulled a 21 mile day and got some of the loudest cheers of the day! We were super happy to see him again and know he was feeling better too. After chatting we learned the illness was pretty rough.
Some other hikers (Pineapples, Tuna, and PopTop) joined our table and cooked up some late dinners. I tried to do some late night blog posting, but the WiFi was frustratingly weak. Apart from that though, a truly great experience at the Kennedy Meadows General Store! So happy to have made it this far and excited for what’s to come!.