I’m laying on the back seat of Dr Sole’s truck which is the closest I’m going to get to a bed for at least another week. I finally reached Kennedy Meadows this afternoon at 4:45pm after a drama packed day and 25 miles. It’s been an emotional day all round and I’m honestly feeling the most out of my comfort zone since I started this trip. I’m overwhelmed by preparations for the Sierras as I have so much gear and most hikers seem to be taking so little. No one seems to be taking an ice axe or micro spikes and all of the extra layers I packed into my box are deemed unnecessary by those who have hiked this section before. Will I be camping in snow, how cold will it be and can I survive out there on my own? After two days of solo hiking through the toughest section for me on this hike I think I’ve lost a little self confidence and am slightly frightened by the thought of being on my own in the Sierras. UB and I have talked of hiking together but after he successfully completed 52 miles in under 24 hours with two other hikers I realise he’s in a whole other league and eventually our differing hiking speeds will separate us.
I was up at 4:30am and broke camp an hour later having to pack up my tent for the first morning in a long time. I filled up water at a stream I wasn’t expecting to find 3 miles away and had breakfast and coffee 5 miles in at one of the springs. I could tell by the heat of the morning without the sun that it was going to be a hot hot day. What I wasn’t expecting was a 10 mile stretch along a continuous ridge with no shade, surrounded by burnt out trees. About 4 miles into the unforgiving repetitiveness of this horrible section I started to lose it. Each corner I rounded only provided a view of more of the same shadeless rocky stretch and eventually I just broke down.
When I finally pulled myself together I spent the last 5 miles singing at the top of my lungs to distract myself from the trail and the intense pain in my feet. Half a mile from my next water source I walked past a huge rattle snack that rattled so loudly I ran back up the trail before turning around to see it slithering towards me. It seemed to slither into a hole so that I could only see its rattle poking out but when I made a mad dash past it, it rattled so ferociously that I literally squealed and jumped in the air. The end of the video is worth the wait! 🙂
The water source I got to barely had water at all so I decided to rest my feet, clean my socks and eat and just fill up at the river four miles away. Luckily I was carrying enough water for this luxury. I found a nice shady spot but there were fire ants everywhere and after being bitten twice I quickly packed up and moved on.
The next stretch was probably the flattest of the whole trail and thankfully so as the heat was almost unbearable. If it wasn’t for the thought of the Kern River coming up I don’t know how I would have made it. I found a perfect spot to fill up water and then took off my shorts and wore the rest of my clothes in the river. I was able to put my whole head under water and scrub 7 days of dirt off my body. I felt like a new woman coming out of there, and although my feet were still aching I felt like I flew through the final 5 miles almost missing the 700 mile mark.
When I got to Kennedy Meadows I overshot the road and had to come back after seeing Phil waving his arms at me from the top of the road. He was on his way to the river for a swim and handed me a beer for the final 0.7 mile walk up to the store. When I got there I found Dr Sole’s camper van and UB and Snort sitting up there under the shade. Dr Sole went to work on my feet straight away and also had a look at my finger which has been in a splint for almost 2 weeks now. It’s healing well but may still need some time.
Once my feet were done I went to the store and picked up my resupply and bounce box, plus my Salomon shoes which I don’t need anymore and a package from Stephanie with a pair of Wright socks and some Cliff bars. Thank you SO very much!!
Dr Sole cooked me up the biggest steak I’ve ever eaten and corn on the cob. He even washed my and Snort’s hair so I’ve been extremely spoiled, plus I get to sleep in the back of the car as opposed to the ground. There was a local who came by tonight who said he has wifi, and given there is no signal here and nothing until Independence I’m going to have to hit him up tomorrow to get these posts out. It’s been so depressing to not be able to post my updates, receive comments or any emails or texts. I think it’s a contributing factor to my mental state at the moment.