PCT Day 60 – Monday June 12
Fox Mill Creek Mile 683.1 to Kennedy Meadows Mile 702.2
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 19.1
Feet Ascended Today: 2740
Feet Descended Today: 3200
Current Elevation: 6149
I made it to Kennedy Meadows today!! This is one of the most significant milestones for PCT hikers, as it officially marks the end of the desert and the beginning of the Sierra Mountains.
It was cold when we woke up this morning. Thankfully the wind died down in the middle of the night but it was hard to get out of my warm sleeping bag. However, we had less than 20 miles to Kennedy Meadows so Monarch and I were motivated to get a move on. We were on the trail by 6:15 am.
Our day started with a gradual climb up a mountain with a 1,500 foot elevation gain. It wasn’t too difficult of a walk and went relatively quickly. As we approached the top, we saw that there was indeed a burn area up there with hardly any trees to provide shade or shelter from the wind. I’m glad we didn’t try to climb up there last night – it would have been miserable and cold since it was so windy. We could even see a light dusting of snow on the ground in some places.
At the top of the mountain, we could see just the tops of the snow-covered High Sierra Mountains peeking from behind some mountains to the north. Squee! I can’t believe we are so close. It’s really exciting.
We climbed down the mountain out of the burn area to Manter Creek and had a quick lunch break. It finally warmed up enough for me to take some of my extra layers off.
We planned to sit down under a large shady tree but there were fire ants everywhere. Blarg! So we had to look around to find a spot with the fewest ants. I later learned that there was a very aggressive bear in the Manter Creek area. Apparently a bear stole one hiker’s food bag and tried to take a backpack off another hiker’s back to get at his food. Thankfully the only annoying animals we had to deal with were red ants.
After Manter Creek, the trail was fairly flat and rather easy to walk for the rest of the way into Kennedy Meadows. The burn area ended and we could see Kennedy Meadows in the distance. We were officially entering the Sierras! The landscape looked completely different than anything we’d seen before.
Eventually, the trail ran into the South Fork of the Kern River and ran parallel along the river for several miles. Our first real river on the PCT so far! The river was swollen and deep from the mountain runoff. It would have been difficult to cross, but thankfully the trail did not actually cross the river. It was very pleasant to walk by the river and to have water so close by.
Just before coming into town, we passed the 700 mile marker. 700 miles on the PCT so far! Woop woop! Someone else pointed out to me that we have hiked over 25% of the trail now. That’s crazy sauce! It feels good to hit such a significant milestone.
As the trail approached Sherman road, we could see a figure in the distance. It was clearly a hiker all geared up with a backpack, but we couldn’t tell who it was until we got closer. Then we saw that it was Halfway! He was just about to head north on the trail towards Lone Pine, but was waiting to see if we’d show up so he could say “hi” before he left. How sweet :). We chatted with him for a few minutes, than bid him goodbye as he hit the trail.
We exited the PCT at Sherman Road and headed east .7 miles toward the Kennedy Meadows General Store. I had seen enough PCT documentaries to know that hikers typically receive applause when they hike into the General Store. Reaching this milestone is a significant achievement! It’s a big deal! Would we receive any applause, we wondered?
I queued up my phone to play “We are the Champions” by Queen and we rounded the corner to the store. And sure enough, the entire porch was filled with hikers hanging out and eating snacks and drinking beer. The all stood up and clapped and cheered wildly. Captain Underpants ran down and gave us each a giant hug. Aww!
The store was about to close so we both went inside to shop for something to eat for dinner. The grill closed at 4:00 pm, so I settled for a microwave steak and cheese burrito, a giant blueberry muffin, Cheetos, corn nuts, Oreo cookies, a can of Squirt and a bottle of red wine. Sounds like a reasonable meal to me.
As I was waiting in line to purchase my dinner, Sunkist rushed in to give me a big hug. I accidentally dropped my can of Squirt and it punctured a hole in the can. This caused – wait for it – a stream of Squirt to squirt out of the can. Haha! I angled the squirting Squirt into my mouth until I found a cup to pour it into.
We spent the rest of the evening hanging out on the deck and cheering new hikers as they arrived. I can’t believe I finally made it to Kennedy Meadows. It’s a surreal feeling.