Day 41 – 6/1/16
Kennedy Meadows 702.23 to campsite 725.01
Total miles: 22.78
We woke up at 4:30am and packed up our stuff. Including our heavy bear cannister. It really does take up a lot of space and weighs a metric ton. I shove my bear can in my pack and I can barely close the top of my pack. It just barely fits. I eat the last two oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Breakfast of champions. We walk back to the general store and throw away our trash and fill up a liter of water. We day good bye to the dark store.
It is about a mile road walk back to the trail. I was nervous on how my ankle would feel but it felt fine. Everything else strained under the increased weight. We make it back to the trail and begin our walk towards the hills.
We cross a campground and see a privy. Don’t mind if I do. Even had nice toilet paper! A few minutes later we pass a sign saying we are in the South Sierra Wilderness.
Shortly thereafter we meet back up with the Kern River. We cross over a bridge and continue our climb. The scenery is vastly different now. The desert is finally gone. We continued walking through the pine forest enjoying the shade.
Around 9:30 we exited the forest and could see a meadow stretching out to snow capped mountains.
We dropped down to the meadow for a couple hours before reaching the South Fork Kern river. We filled up some water and then hiked 20 feet up the side of the mountain to where there was shade and flat areas to sit. We sat under the shade of the trees for an hour resting after coming 15 miles.
We got up and hoisted the heavy packs. Each day means they get lighter but not fast enough. We finished crossing the meadow and started to make our way up the mountain. We would top out at 10,400 feet and we were currently at 7,500 feet. It would be a long hot climb.
5 Star lead the way and I slowly followed. I always move slower in the afternoon. Adding so much extra weight and a long uphill just slowed me down even further. 5 Star later told me that for a couple miles we were only doing 1.8 miles per hour. Much slower than our normal 3 mph.
Slowly but surely we hiked up the mountain. We took a couple breaks once we reached water sources. Around 4 we reached 9,500 feet and started seeing patches of snow. Watch out for that yellow snow.
We continued on and broke out of the trees and crossed the side of the mountain that looked down into a valley. As we crossed 5 Star looked back and noticed that there was a fire about 30 or so miles back. Luckily it wasn’t in the direction we were going. We joked that we probably knew who it was. There are some hikers that make fires and it really is a bad idea with how dry it is out here. All it would take is one stray ember to light all the dead fall that is every where.
We finally reached the high point of 10,400 feet for the day and began to descend. We descended 400 feet and came across a big area with lots of flat spots for camping. We decided to cowboy camp even though there were a lot of bugs and mosquitos. They normally go away once the sun drops so it was only a few hours of annoyance. I put on my wind pants and rain jacket to foil the blood suckers. It was amusing to watch them land and not be able to puncture the jacket. Then I would smite them with the fury of a thousand dying stars.
Tomorrow is another big miles day hopefully. The plan is that on the third day we get have a low mile day to Crabtree Meadows at mile 766. This is where the side trail to Mount Whitney is. The idea is to have an easy day to rest before heading up. I may try to do a midnight summit so I can reach the top as the sun rises. We shall see how I feel once I arrive.