Day: Sunday, June 26th 2016
Miles: 683.1 – 702.2
Fox Mill Spring 683.1 – Kennedy Meadows 702.2
I guess I’m an early riser, I was up at 5am this morning so that I could make the final push to Kennedy Meadows. There was no sight nor sound of Nelson and even the 2 other tents I passed en-route were still in slumber state as I quietly passed early in the morning. This morning I had an extra incentive. Kennedy Meadows had a burger of some repute, and if I covered this 19miles as quickly as I could, the payoff could be immense!
Maybe it was the nascent taste of real food on my lips or just the tempo of the trail but I was moving quickly today. Not only did I wake up earlier than normal but I was also covering more miles in less time than any day on the trail so far. The trail was beautiful this morning despite the smoke hanging in the valleys. Firstly it rose to a saddle giving a view of some granite peaks ahead, but it also gave a taste of the high Sierra in the form of distant shadowy peaks looming so far off as to be barely perceptible.
With the initial climb completed, it was 10 miles of downhill into the valley that contained Kennedy Meadows. The views were immense and the terrain very agreeable. As I entered the lower terrain, the days heat ascerted itself however regular shade and a change of terrain that was welcome and interesting keep my morale up. By the time I entered the Kern River Valley, it was cool and pleasant along the trail and despite the inviting waters I opted to stay on target.
Entering Kennedy Meadows was a fun experience, as I walked the final mile to the famed General Store, I couldn’t help but feel so happy that that the intensity of the desert and Southern California was now behind me. I had proven myself in training to some degree, and the trail from here would become less of a physical exploit and more of a mental challenge. As I received a quick applause as I wearily walked up to the store I realized that I was amongst friends here. Many had bounced form Tehachapi because of the fire. Some were arriving having dodged the snow earlier, and all were excited to enter the Sierra and enjoy the best of the trail ahead.
I had covered 19 miles between 5:30am and 1pm so I had quite the appetite. Enjoying the Kennedy Meadows store version of an In’N’Out animal style cheeseburger, I subsequently had a cold beer and a tub of Ben and Jerrys so celebrate! It was a good evening, topped off with an immense sunset and some great exchanging of war stories from the trail.