Day 38 – 5/29/16
Mile 669.55 to Fox Mill Spring 683.1
Total miles: 13.55
Today was expected to be crappy. The morning would consist of a 2,000 foot gain over 4 miles, lots of small up and downs, a large descent and then a 3,000 foot gain over 6 miles. This would set us up for a 12ish mile day into Kennedy Meadows tomorrow.
We start at our usual 5:30 and begin the long climb. Lots of switchbacks. At 7:10 we reach the top. We walk along the side of the mountain to the Ridgeline across from where we topped out. We can then see down at the desert floor and see some evidence of civilization. We check for service and of course 5 Star does and I don’t. Verizon sucks! I sit on the trail waiting for 5 Star and eat a bar.
We continue on with the pointless up and downs for 4 miles. To pass the time I would listen to my audio book but my mp3 player battery keeps dying after only a few hours. I’m not sure what the deal is. It’s supposed to have a 24 hours of use battery life. I plugged in my external battery and let it charge for over an hour. To pass the time I thought of what sounded good. Today it was chicken fried steak, sunny side up eggs, hash browns, bacon, pancakes, and a tall glass of orange juice. 5 Star agreed that sounded pretty good. Of course anything but trail food sounds good.
We begin our long descent down to water where there is a creek. The trail is mostly in the trees where we are shielded from the sun. We get to Chimney Creek and we set our packs down. I fill up my dirty water bag and filter into my bottles. I then go back and wash my feet and my salt crusted shirt in the pool below where the water is flowing into it. 5 Star does the same and we set our shirts out to dry on a bush. We set out the solar charger and charge our phones while we take about an hour break. We are right at the start of the 3,000 foot climb and decide to get up and over it.
We walk 100 feet and see a dirt road and paper taped to a forestry board. It said “Trail magic memorial weekend. Soda, water, burgers, hot dogs.” Well looks like that climb can wait. We excitedly walk the 0.3 miles to the campground and see a bunch of large cat camping tents and shade tents. We walk up and a guy welcomes us and asks if we are hungry. Uhh… yes! He tells us he has granola, peanut butter, and dried fruit. I sarcastically tell him “I’m out of here!” He asks if we want a burger and of course I say yes. 5 Star orders two for each of us. I grab a root beer and sit in a chair. A chair! With a seat back! Oh the luxury. It feels amazing. The root beer is amazing. Cold and refreshing.
The burgers are ready and I grab a plate and a man named Paul puts two on my plate. They even have a head of lettuce. Fresh crisp green lettuce leafs. I’m in heaven. The burger is amazing. I sit and take a bite. Close my eyes and to no one in particular exclaim “mmm this is amazing.” Gary, one of the trail angels, says “and this is why we do this.” They tell us they are making steak later. Ooh! Then they say the magic word. Tritip. I’m sold. I look at 5 Star and we both agree we are staying for dinner.
I talk to Gary, Paul, and Gary 2 and find out that they did the trail in 1977. They have a lot of interesting stories. Paul hiked with a man named Strider in 1977. Strider was a big part of the trail for years. He died last year and so Paul puts on trail magic in honor of his friend.
There is probably 6 other hikers that site up and lounge around. A couple take off after lunch. It was a nice quiet and relaxing day. I sat in my chair talking to other hikers and only getting up to get more soda.
One of the hikers works for Microsoft as a programmer and is on the Excel team. Chris Connor, I’m sure you wish you were there for that! I told him about how we would push Excel to the limits and how 2013 office sucks if you have a 32 bit operating system. It was fun talking for a bit until I realized I’m talking about work. Another hiker and his wife were from South Africa. He was a programmer too and so they talked about programming.
While we are sitting around talking the trail angel wives come by with a platter of cheese and crackers. I think to myself all that’s missing is some wine to class this up even more. A few minutes later they ask if any one wants some champagne. Amazing. They pour it in small plastic cups. What an amazing day. I’m overwhelmed with these strangers generosity. Except they are not strangers. They are past thru hikers who know what we are going through and what we will go through. The only thing they ask for in return is to some day pay it forward and help out other hikers in some way.
A few hours later dinner was ready. Paul asks us ask to stand and raise a glass in honor of his friend Strider. Dinner consisted of Tri-tip, corn on the cob, beans, salad, and rolls. So good. Thank the trail gods for trail angels.
At 6 pm 5 Star and I discussed whether we should put in a few miles. It was still 22ish miles to Kennedy Meadows. Paul kept trying to convince us to stay and camp here. The vortex of trail angel hospitality is harder to escape then crossing over the event horizon of a black hole. We got up and picked up our packs. We walked over to the trail angels and thanked them profusely for everything. Paul said he was impressed that we were going to put in a few miles. Later on up the hill I told 5 Star that what we are doing is nothing compared to what those guys went through in 1977. Their packs weighed probably 2 to 3 times more, they didn’t have water caches or people helping out, no GPS, heck the trail wasn’t even finished! I’m more impressed with them.
We start the climb and it’s definitely a climb. And it feels warmer than it really is. We only planned on going a couple miles to the water source. But that couple miles would knock off a 1,000 feet of climbing for tomorrow.
An hour later we get to the sign pointing to Fox Mill Spring. The sign also says the water is not for drinking. Well that hasn’t stopped (or killed me) yet.
We fill up a couple liters and then walk past the piped spring to where there are a few tents set up. There isn’t enough flat space to tent so we just lay out our stuff for cowboy camping.
Right next to us is a old truck. I think it was a Chevy from the 40s or early 50s. The frame was missing which was interesting.
I lay down on my pad and look up at the sky which hadn’t darken yet and see Jupiter shining very bright. Once it gets dark it was one of the brightest objects in the night sky. There was still some light pollution nearby it seemed but it was dark enough to just faintly see the Milky Way. Very neat.
Kennedy Meadows tomorrow!