Day: Monday, June 27th 2016
Miles: 702.2 – 709.5
Kennedy Meadows – Remote Camp 709.5
I first explored the indulgences of the PCT hiker back in Idyllwild, where I took a NERO day (or NEar zeRO). The premise is that you cover a symbolic number of miles in a virtual rest-day, in order to overcome the guilt of taking a full day off. Today I took a NERO at Kennedy Meadows. I needed a break as the trip from Tehachapi had been exhausting, but also because it is still seriously hot in the valley and daytime hiking is not a pleasant experience. Hanging around the general store during day was another great opportunity to meet people and hear of stories and strategies from behind and ahead. I also vigorously went through the hiker boxes to salvage anything of use (in my case some well worn flip-flops will come in useful for river crossings).
Eventually I had to see to the business of my Sierra resupply strategy. After discussing many methods and plans I had really liked the idea of hiking straight through to VVR (Vermillion Valley Resort). I would need to carry 10 days food as well as a bear canister however it seemed very doable. Importantly this strategy would save almost 26 miles of off-PCT hiking if I opt not to visit Independence, CA via the commonly used Kearsarge Pass route. Carry more but save miles resonated with me! I laid out the resupply and bought some extras to fill the gap. I even managed to find some individually packed Spam which I was quite excited about!
With a jam-packed pack (around 35lb) I eventually decamped and left Kennedy Meadows at 6pm. Almost immediately the largest rain storm I have experienced yet on the trail broke out, and so the first mile was blessed with the first rains of the PCT summer for me! I’ll take it as a good omen, as did Erin who left at the same time as me.
The short few miles I covered this evening allowed me to get out of the heat of the valley. I was now placed high up on the trail in elevation, so that tomorrow’s large elevation gain had a little dent. I night hiked for a few miles which was fun in the cooler air. Unfortunately with reduced visibility comes bad camp decisions as I camped in a buggy area of beetles, scorpions and mosquitos, but sadly only realized this once my tent was half way up (as I was descended on by a swarm of mosquitos). It was an interesting night of hearing buzzing close to my face outside the big screen, as I settled in for night one of ten on the road to Vermillion Valley!