Mile 702 to mile 716.5
We’d decided to double zero but now we’re all restless, kennedy meadows is full of hikers we don’t know, it’s not ours anymore, we want to get back on the trail. We’ve been sitting for too long and our identities are starting to waver, our understanding of ourselves as thru-hikers is starting to ripple like a mirage, we look at ourselves, each other, wonder- who are you? Who are we? What is it, again, that holds us all together? And besides, kennedy meadows is expensive. I’ve gotta get out here.
I have a slow morning uploading blog posts, organizing my food bag, eating the gluten-free chocolate chip cookies I mailed myself. We’re all hiking out at 11- woody, sherpa, the boss, notachance, guthrie, tiny, coffee, traveler, mack. Headed 14 miles to a footbridge over the kern river. An easy, easy day. A nero in paradise.
Twinkle set out at dawn to do a thirty. He’s meeting his sister hiking south- hopefully we’ll catch up with them in a couple of days.
My pack is fucking heavy today- I packed more food than I think I have for any section, ever. Last year we all ran out of food in this stretch, from kennedy meadows to Kearsarge pass, and it’s one of the reasons I skipped mt. Whitney. I don’t want to do that again this year. Tons of food plus a care package that Egg sent me- I’m gonna eat like a king in the next five days. It sucks, though, carrying my heavy pack up the sandy switchbacks leaving kennedy meadows. Plus I ate a bunch of donuts, those little yellow ones with the white powder frosting. Sheriff woody had a big sack of them. So my stomach hurts, too.
I’m hiking like an unmotivated slug until NotaChance catches me in the afternoon. We power through the last few miles to the bridge together, talking about trail drama and gossip. This is why I wish there were more women around- I want to gossip!! But alas there is only the sea of dudes. So many dudes!!! They are all very nice though.
The water is flat and clear, the banks grassy, the light long, and the underside of the bridge populated with swallows nests, the birds moving in and out, in and out. Everyone arrives and we sit in the light and look at the water and eat our dinners, wondering what we ever did to deserve this- there’s no awful wind and it’s neither hailing nor, as Guthrie calls it, “eleventy billion degrees”. The sierras!!
It’s Guthrie’s birthday! I packed out a hostess cupcake and a couple of twinkies from the kennedy meadows store and we arrange them on a titanium pot lid, stick a votive candle on top, huddle around it to shelter the flame and sing happy birthday. Guthrie blows it out quick and we pass the cake around, tearing the twinkies apart. The light grows longer, the swallows make chirping noises. Woody ties fishing line to a trekking pole, adds a gummy worm, and tries to catch a trout. Tonight we’ll sleep on sandy ledges above the river, the milky way swirling above us. Out of the desert, out of the desert. What magic is this?
Photos on instagram.