We leave Tom’s Place at Kennedy Meadows by moonlight. Had to stay to watch the end of the Matrix trilogy. 11:30 at night and six of us are gathering our gear to escape this last vortex. (We know if we stay til morning, pancakes will have to be eaten, then the store will open and we’ll wind up stuck on the deck for another day).
The moon shines bright over the meadow of sagebrush as we walk three miles to a campground. A small distance, yes, but just enough so we’ll continue hiking in the morning. And a beautiful night sky to marvel at while we hike.
One more day of heat, walking through a burn area, and then… magic.
I turn a corner on the trail and there is a meadow before me! A meadow of grass and wildflowers and a delicious cold spring.
Hello Sierras. How I have long heard of your beauty. How amazed I am to be here.
There are meadows, and there are mountains, and there are more meadows, and water EVERYWHERE! I can now get away with carrying only one liter of water at a time. What a sweet luxury this is. If I sit in the shade too long, it gets cold! Another sweet luxury. I want to be in the sun (just a little bit).
We climb. The elevation gets high. We get tired, and wonder what is wrong with us after all this hiking. Sure, we’re in shape, but we haven’t been over 10,000 feet yet.
It takes a while to get used to the elevation. We slow down our miles significantly. Sleep in (without having to worry that we’re missing the cool part of the day to hike in). Enjoy our breaks by the many streams. Take a nap in the middle of the trail.
I love that I can pass a stream, consider it for a moment, and then walk on without having to fill to capacity every water carrying vessel I have.
Our hope was to get through this next stretch in seven days, climb Whitney and arrive in Independence for the 4th of July. We soon realize we are moving way to slow to achieve this, and our food is disappearing at an alarming rate, so we jump off the trail at Horseshoe Meadow and take an on trail rest day.
It’s amazing how much oxygen there is just a few thousand feet lower. My first taste of the Sierras has been magical, and everyone I pass just says it keeps getting better. I can’t wait! But I need to get some more food first!