Date: June 7th
Started: Chimney Creek (680.8)
Ended: Kennedy Meadows (702.2)
Total: 21.4 miles
Achievements: Ten-by-Ten, Snake Falconer, Standing Ovation
As we committed to three days from Walker Pass to Kennedy Meadows and we only hiked 12 miles the day before, the bill came due today. Chef’s old roommate was coming out with beer and carne asada. We had no choice, but go all the way.
I felt terrible. My cold moved into my lungs, and all I could do was hack. Camping at 8,000 feet didn’t help. I struggled to catch my breath.
Today’s hike consisted of three phases. The first phase was a six mile climb. It was followed by a five mile decent. The last ten miles was flat, but soft sand, hot and exposed.
Fish tank and Feinschmecker made a wager. Fish tank said I was going to hike all 21 miles. Feinschmecker waged that I would hike as much as I could and then hitch in. It is good to know that my hiking partner understands me and has my back.
While my hiker legs need time to return, I have learned much since I started. I went steady and slow, pausing to either cough or catch my breath. It took me three hours, but I reached the top. I reward was my first sighting of the Sierra Mountains.
That view changed things for me. I started to haul. I pulled ahead of the party and caught up to two women from Japan. We stopped for lunch by a pair of large rocks. While we were there, a large black lizard bounded from behind us. While we looked at it, a large snake jumped off the same rock, landing on my arm. The two women, jumped up and ran. I sat there amused.
The last part of the hike was difficult. I was hot, tired and my water was tepid. We eventually reached the Kern River. It was the first river we have seen since we started. We stripped down to our shorts and soaked. It was the baptism that ended the 700 mile desert hike.
In Kennedy Meadows, we met our trail angels. I was handed a beer. It was the best beer I have ever had. We walked to the General Store, beer in hand, to the traditional standing ovation. In Kennedy Meadows, when to come in o town, you receive a standing ovation from your fellow hikers.
After a quick tour of the town, we were taken to the trail angels’ campsite where we dined, drank some beer, and celebrated with a cigar.
We will take a double zero here so Chef and Feinschmecker can finally get some rest, and hopefully I can shake this cold before hiking the very high altitude.
This next phase of the hike is probably the very best.