Today marks a big day.  I have finally made it to Kennedy Meadows which is the portal into the Sierras.  So after about 20 more miles to get out of town, I should officially be out of the desert.  Hurray.  The bad part is it is very, very hot here.

Water is finally starting to become a regular occurrence.

I got up nice and early and left about 5:45, hoping to get to Kennedy Meadows in time for lunch.  The first three hours were through burned out forest which were not pretty, but a cool breeze kept it nice hiking.  There were a total of three Rivers to cross today.  The first one was just puddles, but the second one was an actual river.  I found several places deep enough to swim, but I only washed my face and back and let my clothes dry out a short while while I snacked.  I think I spent about 45 minutes there.

Taking a break for a drink and a snack.

Leaving the river, the trail started to climb and even though there were a few trees, it was extremely hot.  I’m guessing close to 100.  I’m glad I had restocked on water because I drank nearly all of it on the last five miles to the trailhead.  The town and store is actually a mile off trail, so I had to add a 20 min roadwalk to the endeavor.

The last few miles into Kennedy Meadows actually do turn into meadows.

Kennedy Meadows at last! You are looking at the entire town.

Once I got there, I dropped my pack, rested ten minutes chatting with other hikers, then straight into the store for a Gatorade and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.  Quite delicious and quite cold.  I let that settle an hour, then it was off to the grill for a hamburger and a beer.

I took a hot shower, changed into the town clothes then did laundry.  I like showers, but laundry is divine.  My shirt gets so stiff with sweat that it could stand up by itself.  And each laundering sees it getting less and less white.  I doubt it will ever be clean again.  I am certain thus shirt will see a trash can before the end of the hike.  One pair of socks and one pair of shoes already have.

I bought some hot dogs and a few breakfast things before the store closed.  The store is open 9 to 5 but the grill only 11 to 4.  There is a restaurant down the road with all you can eat breakfast pancakes that will shuttle hikers to and from the store, so I might hit that in the morning.  I bought hot dogs at the store and found half a jar of marinara and angel hair pasta so it was spaghetti and hot dogs for dinner.  It was better than it sounds.

Another milestone – 700 miles completed!

This is the last stop before the Sierra mountain range, so I had a resupply box waiting for me that had my bear canister already packed with 7 days of food, my down jacket, and microspikes for my shoes for the snow ahead.  All food from 20 miles ahead for the next 200 miles is required to be carried and stored in an approved bear canister.  It adds 2 lbs to the weight of my pack, but it’s required.  The spikes and jacket weigh a little over 1 lb, and I’m getting rid of two water bottles, so it evens out in the worst case (carrying 6 liters or more of water).  Most of the time from now on I will only need to carry 2 liters, but I’ll be ready for 4 with capability for 3 more in the bladder.  [Post hike:  You really only need one liter in the Sierras to carry water up the long climbs of the passes and to have for camping, but it helps to filter 2 liters at a time so you only have to stop for water half as much.  A sawyer squeeze has a big advantage here, as you can just scoop it up and filter it as you drink it.]

I am planning on making tomorrow a nearo, and hiking out from town about 5 o’clock so I don’t get sucked into the Kennedy vortex too long.  Hopefully I can get some good sleep finally, then I will be rested for the Sierras.

On a side note, the cell reception is horrible for the next 200 miles so don’t be surprised if it takes up to two weeks for the blog posts to come rolling in again.  For that matter, I hope I’m able to get this post out soon so two weeks don’t pass by before this one gets out.  [Post hike:  It was close to 10 days without sending updates, the last one being the fire notification, so the live readers were a bit freaked out after a week with no updates.  I had gone two days without updates to this point and had over a week to get to Red’s Meadow where I could get into Mammoth Lakes – the first real town at the north end of the Sierras.]