Tent site – Kennedy Meadows
10.5 miles + 0.7 miles to KM. 636ft up. 2559ft down.
It was freezing last night. Below freezing. My water and nose were both frozen when I woke up. And my toes were painfully cold but that has just become the norm now. I had condensation on the top of my sleeping bag and ice on the inside of my fly.
It makes it very difficult to get up when it’s that cold. I was sure it was going to be warmer than the night before given that I was over 2000ft lower but it is almost impossible to predict. I packed up as quickly as I could, said goodbye to The Prodigy and stumbled my way down the trail on my frozen, painfully numb excuse for feet. There were absolutely no thoughts in my head, other than convincing myself that the pain in my hands and feet will disappear eventually.
Then something I really didn’t need was a series of about 7 blowdowns which were covered in a layer of ice which made them pretty difficult to navigate. I slipped on one and bruised my arse. The sun finally made an appearance and I was able to gradually delayer. The trail continued to descend in to the valley and with every step it became more deserty. Cactus and spiky plants and lizards, and more sand of course.
I rolled into Kennedy Meadows around midday. It is a strange place. I always think of it as just the general store, but of course the store serves the local community. People actually live here, in the middle of nowhere. Although the houses I pass on the way to the store seem pretty deserted. When I got to the General store I was perusing the trail register and who appears? Jorts! I had seen his name in the trail register about 2 miles back but he passed through about 10 days ago. It turns out he had taken 10 days off the trail and he was just starting again and him mum was hiking a section with him.
I ordered a double cheeseburger and a dirty Mountain Dew, and topped it off with an ice cream sandwich and a Sprite. My body is super happy with me right now. It’s a beautiful day, clear blue sky, and I sit on the deck and air out my tent, sleeping bag and feet in the sun. I feel completely content.
A couple of ladies came by and I sat with them while they quizzed me about the trail, it was nice to have someone to talk to! I got hungry again and wondered around the store until something jumped out at me. A family sized bag of salty crisps, my body was obviously telling me something. As I ate them I became incredibly thirsty and drank a litre of water. That’s more than I have drunk in days! Hopefully that will do me some good. There are a bunch of locals there hanging out and I chat to a couple of hunters for a while. One of them lives in Big Bear. ‘How long will it take you to get there?’ He asks. ‘2-3 weeks I guess’ I say. ‘I can drive you there in 4 hours’. Tempting!
I sit in the sun and read a book, it’s so relaxing and warm. How nice it is to feel warm. I think I’ve burnt my right cheek a little. I’m happy there right in that moment. Life is good. I’m lucky. I’m free. I have choices. I have the whole world ahead of me.
I am going to stay in the teepee tonight. I didn’t go in there last year, I think it’s where all the pot heads hung out, but this year I get it all to myself! I set all my stuff up and sit on the deck for another hour or so. One of the locals offers me a place to stay in his cabin, had I not set up all my stuff in the teepee I would have gone.
But I’m excited about the teepee, I organise my food and then I make a fire. I am so pleased with myself, sure I have made fires before but this one I made on my own. I lie on my mat, cosy and warm and watch the flickering of the light on the sides of the teepee. I love it here. I think I’ve burnt my face some more on the fire.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.