2. Kennedy Meadows to Mt. Whitney
I have started my hike. Now what? Hiking, tracking water, eating and sleeping.
I did it all on my first day!
At about 4:30, I began to look for a good dinner spot. I found a reasonably
level spot and used my alcohol stove. I packed up again and kept hiking,
the first time I'd done that after dinner. I liked the feeling of getting
miles that way. Since I was hiking alone, the idea of sitting around camp
wasn't very enjoyable.
I hiked to a river, where I joined Chuck and Dave who were tending to
feet and finishing up dinner in the horizontal light. They hiked on, Dave
declaring, "I'm going to hike until I can't see anymore." I walked back
across the metal bridge (the one with swallows) to find a nice site in
an established campsite. Bill and Jeremy came in as I was getting into
12 miles my first day.
As I got started, met Short Pants, a thru-hiker, who, at 7am or so, had
already put in a few miles. He was going fast to meet up with Phluf, Yogi,
Noid & ?, and in turn hike with them for a shuttle from Phluf's wife from
Onion Valley. He had let me know that I could tag along, but they were
going too fast. Perhaps I could catch a ride from Onion Valley to Independence
when she dropped them off.
I was excited to hear I was near on the trail to Yogi and Noid (alternately
P-noid). I'd read Yogi's
journal before leaving which included an AT training hike with Noid.
She'd be the first person I met who I'd read their journal. I liked her
from the journal. I wondered if I'd get to meet her, but the speed and
distance seemed too much to overcome.
The Beck song Nicotine & Gravy and the Matrix quote, "There
is no spoon" are in my head today.
This is the first time I've seen this part of the Sierra. It's very different.
Oh and on these first four or five days, I'm going from 6,400' in KM to
(ultimately) 14,492' at the top of Whitney. That is to say the trail is
generally gaining elevation as I climb from the south end of the Sierra
to its crest. I'll do the math for you: 8,092' elevation gain in 4 days.
I stopped to have lunch with Chuck near Onchala Peak. Dave was bagging
the peak, and Chuck was practicing setting up his GoLite tarp. I think
Jeremy and Bill stopped then too. I left them all as I set out to get
miles. Met Short Pants at some point as he passed me.
Gorgeous light on the rocks coming up Deadly Canyon. Took lots of photos.
I thought I might catch up to someone, perhaps Lance and his partner Bill
(Buffalo Bill?) who I had not yet met. By the time I stumbled into the
place I would camp, it was practically dark. This would be my first dry
camp. I had anticipated it and had just enough water. The bugs were more
than I expected at a dry camp.
20.3 miles on my second day
7:45a White jet going faster than hell flew overhead. It made a loud noise.
As soon as I stared hiking in the morning, I passed the first sign to
a nearby off-trail spring and pack camp. That explained the mosquitoes.
Then I passed a second sign for an off-trail water source. As I tooled
along, I thought, "When's the next water?" I reviewed my resources, and
decided to drop pack and go back and get water. In bug heaven in a well-worn
pack camp, I got lots of water and headed back. I passed Bill's pack,
but didn't see him. (His name was on his pack.) Walked a lot but didn't
see Chuck or David or Small Pants either.
Found some nylon TNF pants at false Cottonwood Pass. I suspected the pants
were northbound, so I picked them up. Met Lance at the true Cottonwood
Pass. He was hiking in sandals w/ his thru-hiking Dad, Bill, who I did
At the outlet to Duck lake, Small Pants left a note in the trail saying
that he lost his pants and that he'd be in Crabtree Meadows that night.
The time on the note was 1:10pm! [I guess I made that
comment because of his speed.]
Prince songs Delirious & ? in my head today.
I headed into Sequoia National Park, where the PCT trail blazes promptly
ended. I was worried that I was not on the right trail after a confusing
junction. I read, and re-read the guidebook. I wasn't getting any good
confirmations. I hiked until dark and stumbled off the trail and set up
my second dry camp. It was a weird place to camp, but I was just there
to sleep. Worked to erase signs of my presence just before I left.
21.2 miles (estimated) today.
I was on the right trail. Wow! I'm laying here at the base of Guitar Lake
(below Mt. Whitney) as the sun is setting. This is my earliest time to
bed since I started.
Met Yogi & P-noid; Phluf, Cartoon Ostritch w/ Small Pants; & other thru-hikers
on their way down from Whitney on my way to Guitar Lakes. Small Pants
let me know that Yogi was behind him. When I saw two women approaching,
I said, "Is one of you Yogi?" One was and we chatted. A man passed during
our short conversation. Turns out it was John from Oregon, who I didn't
meet until days and days later. He remembered seeing me. I was concentrating
on meeting Yogi.
The Alpineglow is touching off a lovely evening. I'm almost hallucinating
as I lay here in my bag with the best view in the world.
I arrived at Guitar Lake to step into a marmot triple bill. I sat and
watched three chubby marmots as they foraged. I came up on two of them
as they were nose-to-nose. They scuffled and the bigger one won. The third
came in bounding, backlit by the late afternoon sun. It was a Disney moment.
While searching for the campsite for the night, my shadow alerted ten
or so red-bellied trout that scattered in defense up the stream feeding
the lake. Looking more closely, I could see there were many more. Lots
Most of the hiking today was dull. Rock and trees.
Thought through each scene in the Matrix as I approached Crabtree
Short Pants had left a big note on the trail where his tent was. I dropped
off his pants and hung out. I knew I just had to get to Guitar Lake, and
I had half a day to do it, so it was time to do laundry and wash up. Took
photos of the mountain across from my bag for the negative space the shadows
My appetite is really kicking in. I'm going to ditch my white gas stove
when I get to Independence. The alcohol stove works just fine for everything,
20 miles today.