After 2 nights in Kennedy Meadows, we really wanted to get going. We got a ride to the a local restaurant, Grumpy Bear’s, where we could get our bear can and have some breakfast. We had an amazing feast of huge pancakes, eggs, bacon and hash browns, packed our bear can (finally) and got a lift back to the general store. We managed to take a few photos with our friends before leaving, said our goodbyes and headed out with a guy called Dairy Queen. He wanted hiking buddies for the Sierras. And so a new part of our journey began.
Just a few miles in and the terrain was changing quickly, we noticed a lot more water, pine trees and meadows. But, it seemed as though there was a heat wave, it was so hot, and we were so grateful after hiking 7 miles when we came to the south fork of the Kern river. We quickly got into the river and had a bit of a swim to cool down. We decided to walk 9 miles to another bridge over the Kern river for the night. On the way we were welcomed with beautiful meadows and a stunning sunset! What a treat. I was so happy to finally be out of the desert. We got to our campsite and found a few other hikers there, and we all cowboy camped on the side of the river.
We all woke up to a chilly morning and found that all our stuff, including our sleeping bags, had a layer of frost on. Instead of having an early morning, we waited for the sun to dry up our stuff before we hiked on. It was a funny site, see the photo below. Ahead of us we had a long 8 mile uphill section of about 2500ft, which was not fun. As you go higher than 10 000 ft, the air feels a lot thinner and breathing becomes laboured. Once we got to the top, we finally got a good view of snow peaked mountains, which we would soon be walking through! We stopped for lunch and enjoyed the view, after which we walked down the 1500ft, to death canyon creek but decided to go a little up the next hill to make the next morning a little easier. One thing I noticed were the beautiful trees, which looked like giant bonsai’s. We camped around mile 732, with a great view of the sunset, but surrounded by a swarm of mosquitoes!
We had a long uphill in the morning, which was tough going. At one point we reached what we thought was the top, only to discover that there was still more to go. Ahead of us was our first pass of the Sierras, Cottonwood pass, which would be the first real snow we would walk through. This was at mile 750, which was late afternoon when we went through and I didn’t even realise it was a pass! I asked Steve when we were going to do the pass just for him to say we had already done it. But we camped at such an awesome place, called Chicken Spring Lake (mile 751), which was stunning.
The next day we left our beautiful campsite, and headed up a hill. Soon we were greeted with the really awesome views of the high Sierras! We had decided not to climb Mount Whitney because it’s off trail and I wasn’t up for such a big climb, we were going to do Forester Pass anyway! And then we hit the first of many creek crossings! What fun. Having to take off your shoes (optional) and walk through freezing raging water, trying to find non-slippery spots for your feet and getting across before your feet go numb is an experience to say the least. We had lunch after crossing Rock Creek at mile 760, and continued up and over towards the Mount Whitney trail junction at mile 766. We had a great view that evening with the local deer heard coming to graze in the meadow in front of us.
The next morning we headed out to set ourselves up for Forester Pass. At one of the creeks, we met a guy called Amoeba, who is really awesome and we ended up hiking with him a few days in the Sierras. He really enjoys photo journalism, and took many action shots of us doing all kinds of things so hopefully he sends us some! We decided to hike together and find a good spot just before Forester Pass so the snow was still good to walk on. And what a place we found! it was just about 2 miles away from the pass, and it was my favourite campsite so far, with stunning views! There wasn’t a lot of space for tents, so Amoeba found a place he could cowboy camp. The wind was blowing quite a bit, so Steve helped Amoeba build a stone wall to protect him for the night, it was great. We stayed up to watch the sunset and then quickly got in our tent to warm up!
The next morning we woke up as early as we could, 5:30 I think, and started the trek to our highest point on the PCT. There was a lot of snow, and we put on our micro-spikes for the first time, they are really useful for walking on snow. It was a long but not too difficult climb up to the top, even going over the ice chute at the top wasn’t that scary. We had breakfast at the top and realised that the sun was already shining on the northern side of the mountain, softening the snow we had to go down, so we needed to get going! It was fun going down for a while, we got to glissade down the snow for the first time (so much fun), until we hit softer snow. We soon began posthole-ing, at one point I hyper-extended my knee and almost injured myself. It was a long and difficult way down, and I struggled a lot.
Our plan was to get over Keasarge Pass and head to Lone Pine to resupply. This was no easy task. After making it over Forester Pass, having minimal breaks along the way, we were exhausted but determined to get to town! We had lunch at the bottom of the hill with Amoeba, Wrong Tent and his friend (ah, why can’t I remember his name!?) and then quickly started our journey to Keasarge Pass, which would take us off the PCT, out of the Sierras and back into the desert. The pass isn’t actually that bad, but we were so glad to be out of the mountains for a bit, desperate for town food and a shower. It was a long day of 20 miles. A kind man offered us a lift from the trail head into Lone Pine, where we waited for Steve’s friend Niko would pick us up. Niko is an awesome guy Steve met on his 2012 PCT walk, and he offered great company, a place to sleep and some helpful advise. Lucky for us (or not) there was a heat wave, and got up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius) and Niko kindly got us ice creams, and we had some buffet Chinese food for lunch. While we were sitting in the restaurant, some friends walked passed which we haven’t seen in a long time, Matt and Elizabeth! It was great to see them again and catch up.
We are so proud of how far we have come, and look forward to the challenging next section which will bring many more mountain passes, snow and hopefully fun.