Day 59 (Wednesday, June 15): Manter Creek (mi 693.55) to Kennedy Meadows Store (mi 702.23 + .77 mi on Sherman Pass Rd), 9.48 miles. (up/down: +771/-796 ft)
We left camp around 6:45 and made our way to KM. It was beautiful weather and awesome terrain and scenery through the basin. Just following rolling hills with frequent shade until we got to the Kern River. From here I would say bye to my dad and stepmom and just meet them 4.5 miles later at the store.
After the river it became more exposed and hot even though still morning. I made it to mile marker 700 (woohoo over half way)! From here the trail got a little tricky as it passed through a couple washes and near sandy roads – I hoped my dad would figure it out.
I finally reached the road and started the walk up the paved today to the store. It was longer and hotter than I was expecting but worth the round of applause upon arrival to the store. I knew my dad and step mom wouldn’t want to hike the road so I drove down to meet them.
After waiting sometime I finally saw two heads in the distance that looked like them (thought I could see the orange bandana). However, they took a turn off trail and I saw them disappear being a hill. I still want certain if it was them, but worried they would get lost if it was. I waited sometime, not seeing anyone else resembling them. They should have been out by now. And if that couple were them, either they were long gone or would have turned around by now. I saw an older couple emerge on the road, and I asked if they had seen my older couple – they had only seen “kids”. That must have been then then. So off I went to find them back on trail in my crocs.
A short walk later, I came over a hill, and there they were! They had infact took the wrong turn but eventually turned back. They were every so grateful that I had the truck waiting for them at the road. From there we headed to Grumpy Bears for lunch.
After a tasty burger and frustrating logistical planning of when and where I would meet them again (had planned to do Mammoth to Toulumne, but changed mind) and food sorting, we said so long. The rest of the evening I relaxed on the store porch and resorted my food again to try and rid some additional weight.
Kennedy Meadows is a place many look forward to. It’s no oasis. Many stay for a zero, but it wasn’t for me. I was ready to leave. If I hadn’t already set up camp, I would have hiked out. After dinner, I chatted with an array off hikers around a round table including various debates about hiker ethics. With plans of leaving in the morning, we slowly said goodnight and retired to our tents.