Today BG and I started back north. Yesterday we were in the Owens Peak Wilderness, crossing the road where we were camped we entered the Chimney Peak Wilderness. We climbed to 8000 feet over a ridge where we entered the Domeland Wilderness, and then we dropped down the other side to the south fork of the Kern River. I thought as we were climbing to the top of the ridge that we would be getting a panorama of the Sierras but it wasn’t to be. From the top of the ridge what we saw were more burnt trees and more dry ridges. The trail itself was good, mostly sandy tread, it did get soft and deep in spots, but the grades were steady but gentle and the pure rock ledges rare.
Every thru hiker knows Kennedy Meadows. Meadows would be a loose term, high desert flat is more accurate, except for a narrow strip along the Kern River which is thick with willows and grass. Kennedy Meadows is also a remote hamlet reached by 25 miles of narrow, STEEP, twisty road. Kennedy Meadows offers the last on trail resupply for the next couple hundred miles. There is a small general store and an internet café, both of which offer meals, camping, showers and laundry to the hikers. In the spring the businesses are awash with hikers waiting for the snow to melt in the Sierras. Kennedy Meadows marks the unofficial end to Southern California and the beginning of Central California as well as the Sierras. Leaving Kennedy Meadows one climbs past the 7000 foot mark, a number that won’t be seen again for over 400 miles, in fact the trail only dips to the 8000 foot mark half a dozen times in the same distance. Tonight we are camped along the river which is a high mountain stream at this point. The horses are enjoying the running water and even got baths while the sun was still hot.
Trail data: mileposts; 0681-0704, miles ridden; 23.9, trail time; 6.22, average speed; 3.7, minimum elevation; 5643, maximum elevation; 7991, total ascent; 3904, total descent; 3562
Total miles: PCT; 2178, Ridden; 2277