Destination: Kennedy Meadows
Today we rose early with dew covered bags, and excitement in our eyes. We are finally in the foothills of the Sierras, and the desert is behind us. It would be a quick climb, a decent descent, and ten relatively flat miles to Kennedy Meadows, the gateway to the High Sierras and a much needed zero (or two).
Apricots and Psycho set out just after Uncle Tom, and caught up with him near the top of the climb. At this point we entered a burn zone which covered most of the last 15 miles to Kennedy Meadows. The burn was a result of the 2000 Manter fire, caused by man, which scarred close to 68,000 acres of land. The sad result of this (for us), was a long shadeless stretch of what turned out to be one of our hottest days on the trail. Who knew that we would get snow the day before the Mojave, and blistering heat the day before the high Sierras.
We made do in the heat, as our legs were motivating us forward to the golden egg of a town stop, where much needed showers awaited us. By 10am, we had covered ten miles. Axilla, Uncle Tom, Apricots and Psycho enjoyed a quick lunch together under the scarred and charred remains of a massive tree.
After we ate, we tacked on another five miles to the Kern River, where we dunked our heads, our hats, and our shirts in to cool ourselves for the remaining distance. The trail had the peculiar routing of walking us toward the store, close enough to see it, and then dropping us further away from it, so that we could walk the road 0.7 miles to the store.
It was disgustingly hot, but we passed up shade one mile before the end, because we knew what awaited us. As we hit the pavement, Psycho commented that he had never been so happy to be walking on a road. Half a mile later, Axilla greeted us with waving arms and cheers to celebrate the huge milestone.
Moments later, our packs were tossed down, and The Mayor (who we haven't seen in a week) issued forth celebratory drinks. Thirty minutes later, we were showering our filth off in what was perhaps the best shower we have experienced.
In the evening, we all dined at the General Store on spaghetti, meat balls, salad, cake, and ice cream.
Tomorrow we will go through the long process of sorting through our gear and food, while finalizing our sierra strategy. The temperatures are high, and that means the snow is melting. Good things are afoot, and for the first time we are starting to feel excited rather than fearful about the Sierras.
Good Bye Desert.
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