Day 60 (Thursday, June 16): Kennedy Meadows Store (.77 road + mi 702.23) to mi 720.42, 18.96 miles. (up/down:+4184/-1300)
Last night I met Legend (from MN) and Raven (from UT) who are past and present hikers who are also trail angeling. They would be making pancakes at the bridge over the river. So when I was all packed I headed to the bridge and was greeted by Legend with a coffee and pancake order as well as more great and thought provoking conversation. Shortly after Raven and Anmi joined us. I would have liked to stay all morning but knew I needed to get some miles in. I hit trail at 7:40.
I stopped at the delightful Kern River for a short break and water as the rest of the way until I’d meet the river again in about 10 miles where iffy. Not too long later, I stopped at a crappy creek to get a little more water and was met with the presence of a trail crew…at least I assume so. I never saw people, but met their horses and dogs, one of which was very intrigued by my water filter.
After a long climb up hill, the trail finally leveled out into a beautiful meadow. I could have walked in that all day. I also got lucky with the spring on the way as the water report had me worried it might be dry. All along my way here, I ran into a lot of people hiking the opposite way, including a couple big groups. The rest of the afternoon I only saw north bounders.
I reached my goal of the Kern River just before 3:30. I stopped for a nice break, but it was too early for me to stop. There was another campsite and creek a few miles up I would go to.
It was a nice gradual climb up as the temperature slowly started to go down. I reached the trees, but never reached the campsite or water. It seemed to be non existent and dry. I wss nearly out of water and the trail started to climb very steeply. I was lucky to find a pool of water up the trail but pressed on slowly and with damaged motivation.
Every once in a while, I’d find a somewhat suitable spot I could set up my tent. Though it was still before 6 and figured if I’ve gone this far, I might as well keep going. After an unrelenting climb I finally called it quits at a nice little spot. I didn’t see people for a couple hours, and just wished someone would stop and camp with me. I didn’t want to spend my first night in the Sierra alone. There is a reason bear cans are required… As dark approached 3 hikers passed by but pushed on. Looks like I’d be camping alone.