Destination: Mile 721ish
When Psycho hiked in 2005, he jumped from Kennedy Meadows to Ashland to avoid the sierra snow. This time around we decided to face the music and dance. So, until we reach Ashland, nearly two months away, all that Apricots and Psycho experience will be new sights to the both of us.
We woke at 5:30, and rolled out around 7am. The change from Southern California desert to Central California sierras was gradual over the day. It was as though someone dimmed the lights on the desert over the day, while raising the lights on the Sierras, only they did not remember to lower the thermostat.
The day started flat but gradually climbed, until we reached a height of roughly 9250 feet, our highest camp yet. The trail took us through another burn zone, where dime size purple flowers accented the brown and black trail. Leaving the south fork of the Kern River, we walked up to Monache Meadows, the largest meadows in the sierras. For miles you could see the hot dry plants, as the trail wandered along it's perimeter.
We took our lunch with Uncle Tom in the some great shade on the trail. While filtering water during lunch, Psycho was inundated with a swarm of ladybugs. They all flew down the stream, riding on the wind as their red shells reflected scattered light.
After food and rest, we sauntered along until we reached the far end of Monache Meadows where the north fork of the Kern River wound it's serpentine path through the meadows. A bridge was built over the river in 1986, and we took our next break there. Swallows have moved in under the bridge, so the underside was riddled with stick and mud conical nests. The swallows came and went frequently, often in small flocks of fifty to one hundred flapping sets of wings.
The water was relatively warm, so we took off our sweaty clothes for a swim. Walking up stream to a sandy bar, we waded knee deep into the water and then took the full plunge up to the neck. As we floated downstream along a sandy bottom, our toes kicked up the sand. Tiny golden flecks drifted down the current with us, until we climbed out just down stream from the bridge.
Time was not favoring us, and we needed to get some more miles in, so we packed up and went on our way. Climbing out of the valley, we looked back as light reflected across our swimming nook. In a couple miles, we climbed out of the low laying brush and sage, into the shadows of the forest.
We were feeling the elevation, and mosquito's had reached a feverish frenzy of blood lust, so we were excited to stumble upon the campfire of two other hikers. We stopped two miles shy of our intended goal, but had a wonderful evening talking over the glow of the campfire with "Missing Link" and "Johnny Law."
Before we knew it, it was well past ten. We climbed into our tent, wondering if Psycho's shoddy bear-bagging would be put to the test. All four of us were curios about what all is supposed to be put in the bear canister (food, trash, toothpaste, vitamins?). We loaded everything we could and put the rest in bags which hung from trees.
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