Day 40 mile 680.8 – 702.2

Elevation: ascent 3,611 ft, descent 3,236 ft

Today was going to be a big milestone for us as we head for Kennedy Meadows. This is significant for PCT hikers as it marks the end of the “desert section” and the start of the Sierra. We still had a little more than 21 miles to go and needed to get there before 5:00, so we could make a phone call to get a ride to the place where we were going to take a ZERO. So the alarm was set for 5:15 and we hit the trail by 6:15.

The first part of our day was a 7 mile climb up about 2,500 feet. We stopped at a Fox Hill spring about 2 1/2 miles in to grab water for our breakfast shakes. The reports were that it was flowing well. So when we walked up to see a metal feeding trough dry we got a little concerned. Our fears were quickly diminished as we found the spring coming out of the side of the mountain just around the corner.

The morning was cool and breezy which made the hike up and over very comfortable. Most of the morning was through an old burn area so there wasn’t much shade around. Always sad to think of what this area use to look like. We got to the top and had a great view of Mt Whitney, looming ever closer. We are both excited to have a opportunity to summit Mt Whitney in about a week if the conditions are right.

We got to Manter Creek at 11:30 where we stopped for lunch. From there we only had 8.7 miles to Kennedy Meadows. The rest of the day the trail stayed in a valley winding it’s way to the Sierra. We even got to follow the South Fork of the Kern River for the last part of the day. So great to see that much water in one area since we just got done with a pretty dry 134 mile section. It also means that there is a lot of snow still up there as it feeds this river.

We got to the 700 mile marker on trail (never gets old taking pics of that 😁). At mile 702.2 the trail crosses a road coming from Kennedy Meadows and we then got to take that for 3/4 mile to the General Store. There isn’t any cell service in the area so we grabbed cold drinks and some quarters to use an actual pay phone to call for a ride to Grumpy Bears. Jackie McDonnell (known as Yogi by PCTers) runs an outfitter here in Kennedy Meadows, came to pick us up. She has completed all three long trails in the US (PCT, AT, CDT) and has a books that many hikers use to help plan their trips. Her outfitter is right next to Grumpy Bears and hikers typically camp out here to resupply and prepare for the new challenges of the Sierra.

Once there it was like a family reunion for hikers. We ran into Raven, Circus, Snapshot, Sticks and Going Postal all hikers we have come across since we started this adventure. We even meant a handful of hikers we hadn’t even met yet. One was a dad hiking with his two sons (17 and 15 years old). Everyone got to share stories, catch up and have laughs over some great food. Grumpy Bears has free laundry (which we will take advantage of tomorrow) and showers. The shower is a no frills outdoor shower but it has warm water and felt great to get the dirt off of us.

While having dinner we were treated to an amazing color show in the sky as the sunset. We will be taking the day off tomorrow just hanging out here (ZERO) to organize our stuff for the Sierra.

Double Down and I are super excited for the next chapter of this trek. Link