May 8 (~06:55 – ~16:30)
Fox Mill Spring – Kennedy Meadows (19.4 mi / Total: 702.2 mi)
Weather: Foggy and cold when I wake up. In the morning it’s warm but there’s a chilly wind which makes it perfect hiking weather. It gets very hot in the afternoon, even though there are quite a few clouds.
The day starts with the pleasant realisation that bears did not find our camp and come after our food. I’m happy. Even my giant pearl couscous has rehydrated overnight, so at least I’ll have a decent lunch today. When I open my tent everything is wet, and we’re in fog, with thick clouds right above us. It’s cold but once I start going and the sun comes out, it’s immediately warm. Combined with a fresh wind – that type of chill that comes with upcoming snow, the temperature is actually really nice for walking.
After I get some water from Fox Mill Spring, I exit the forest and find myself meandering around an open landscape, everything hilly and the trees burnt and cut down. It’s quite cruisey again, a nice start to the day. Then I get the first views of the Sierra – from hills rise mountain ranges of rock, the tops covered in snow.
The trail goes down now, a slightly downward motion all the way to the beautiful valley, everything a light yet fresh colour, greens and blues and pale yellows and then I reach the first water source of the day. I’m already ten miles in and it’s not even noon.
Speedy and Prince are there, and I sit with them a little, filtering water and preparing an electrolyte drink. They plan on swimming in South Fork Kern River and I figure I’ll catch up with them by then. It’s less than five miles away and soon I’m on my way again, into the undulating valley, moving along the sand and rocks and pine trees with the Sierras spectacularly looming in the distance.
Once the river comes into sight it thunders towards me. The water is high and the current so strong I couldn’t imagine swimming in it. I see Speedy and Prince somewhere lower down – they tried. I move on to find a spot for lunch instead, selecting an area with trees for shade and lots of large rocks to dry my gear on. I spread out my quilt and tent and sit down to try my couscous, mixed with refried beans. I add some cheese and seaweed. It tastes pretty good. Then Speedy and Prince join. We have so much time today.
The afternoon is short. Suddenly it’s so quick to Kennedy Meadows. The desert is over. I think about it during those final few miles. 700 Miles of desert behind me. It’s quite a thing.
I walk into town with Speedy and Prince. It’s official now! We take pictures with the town’s sign and head to the general store where we buy a few snacks. Then we get a lift to Triple Crown Outfitters where we set up our tents. It’s crowded with hikers. Tomorrow we will begin to hitch north to South Lake Tahoe instead of entering the Sierras. I wonder how it will go.