Mile 687 to Kennedy Meadows General Store (mile 702), 15 miles Cost: camped, free
I woke to condensation on my tent which I was surprised about at 8,000 feet but Bearly had cowboy camped and faced the same problem. I waited for the sun to rise above the mountain before getting up, it was a chilly morning before the sun.
All we had to do today was descend the mountain and walk 15 miles to the Kennedy Meadows General Store. Here I would have 3 packages and a massive burger and beer waiting for me. This was my motivation to get there as soon as possible as all I had left for food was one Clif builders bar…
The descent was as gentle as the ascent with stunning views of granite peaks. After 2 hours I came across Shepherd and Smokey having a coffee on a sandy spot near a creek so I sat and joined them. Thanks Shepherd for the coffee. My gas canister ran out here just after boiling my water, terrific timing – another thing to buy at the KM general store.
There was a rattlesnake on the path when we left but it moved off the path without too much persuasion from us. The rest of the morning the trail followed the Kern river which I would have loved to have swam in but my stomach was on a mission to get its burger so I pushed on, passed the 700 mile marker, signed the trail registry and took the 0.8 mile detour along the road to the KM general store. I was a little teary when I saw the road sign stating I was now in Kennedy Meadows… The end of the desert and the gateway to the high sierras.
When I walked into the car park of the Kennedy Meadows General Store, I was welcomed with a loud cheer from the many hikers on the deck – it made me teary all over again and it was great to see so many familiar faces.
I knew exactly what I had to do and in exactly what order: order a burger, put my Anker battery on charge, start a tab in the store, buy a beer, eat burger (Tropic Thunder burger made by Justin, one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten), shower, wash clothes, eat icecream, pick up 3 packages (bounce box, re supply food box, balaclava from the Mouse Works), go to Grumpy Bears to pick up my bear canister, then relax.
I met OCD who is a sports masseuse and felt very lucky to be treated to a massage – he told me my body was a mess, I suggested we hike together so he could massage me daily and fix the mess 😉 He also gave me a pack shake down to see if he could lighten my load and ease the pain of the heavy weight on my body. We managed to get rid of a few things, but then as I’m about to enter the Sierras, I added to my pack: microspikes, a bug head net, waterproof gloves, a fleece, a wind shirt, waterproof pants and thicker socks… I added a lot more than I took out!
There’s still no phone service or internet here so we can’t check the weather forecast for the sierras that we’re about to enter… It’s really comfortable here and apparently tomorrow night is pizza night… The longer I stay the more chance there is of the snow melting… To stay just tonight or 2 nights?!