Mile 698.0-706.7 (8.7 +1.5)
What a beautiful day!
We slept until the sun was well overhead and we were baking in our sleeping bags. It was 7:30am.
Soon we were on trail, only a few miles to go until Kennedy Meadows. It was cool and clear. The trail led us up a pretty valley, so different from the desert. Greener, more hills, different trees–still sandy trail, still sage bush and familiar wildflowers, but so obviously changed. Something in the wind, maybe. Smelled like snow.
There were dozens of hikers at Kennedy Meadows, including our friends Raven, John, and Edwin. We had just missed K2 and Fabian, who hiked out early in the morning. Lots of hikers we have seen since Tehachapi were there, like Sue and Ruben, Cups, Bjorn, etc. I recognized maybe a quarter of the hikers there. Everyone was in good spirits and very friendly. We are done with the desert!
We went to Grumpy’s for lunch and wifi, then back to the general store for ice cream. Did little chores in the afternoon: rinsed clothing out, repaired our gaitors. Chatted with friends. Our packs are heavy with snow gear: micro spikes, ice axes, snow baskets for our poles. Not sure what to expect up there but I hope we are prepared.
We lingered long enough for happy hour to roll around, which yielded us free chips and salsa and later a full hiker feed! How lucky! We munched happily on hot dogs, chili, veggies and humus, barbecue chicken.
And then, at nearly 5pm, our clothes were dry and our gadgets were charged, our bellies were full and our packs were packed. Time to hike! It was still lovely and cool out and we wanted to go a few more miles to get back into the woods for the night.
The trail was so beautiful and gentle, easing us into the next section. It followed the South Fork Kern River for 4.5 miles. The sun dipped below the mountain ridge and things started to cool off. We found a peaceful campsite next to the river and decided to end our day there. Tomorrow we start climbing into the mountains.