27th May 2015
Mileage 16.7 (26.9km)
Bush Camp (685.7) to Kennedy Meadows (702.4)
I woke before dawn with only one thing on my mind. A burger and a beer at Kennedy Meadows General Store. Today would be my last day hiking in the desert. I set off when it was just light enough to see without a headlamp, maybe 5.15am. I climbed the last 1.5 miles over the last desert pass. The trail descended a sometimes steep sides gorge. Every place that was flat enough for a tent had hikers, mostly still sleeping as I passed by. Around 8am I stopped for breakfast. The gorge entered a valley. The bottom of the valley looked very different from the bottom of every other valley I had previously hiked over the last 6 weeks. This valley had what looked like a meadow, with Pine Trees. It looked like an ancient glacier had once carved the valley. There were granite boulders deposited in random areas, possibly from the granite high up on the tops of the surrounding mountains. It just looked different here. There was also a large running river, the Kern River. I walked up that valley at a pace I have not walked before. I was hungry. The last 10 miles saw me only stop briefly twice to admire two rattlesnakes.
Kennedy Meadows marks the unofficial end of the desert and start of the Sierras. When I walked to the store I was greeted to a very loud cheer and clapping from every hiker. I felt special for that short moment in time. I kinda guess I was special, I just walked over 702 miles (1130km) through the Californian Deserts in only 41 days. I crossed maybe as many as 8 mountain ranges (I’m not actually sure how many, some say 6, some say 8!). I survived snow storms, extreme heat, rattlesnakes, knee pain, ankle pain and more. Hiking in the desert has been amazing, I loved the wildflowers, the lizards, the snakes, the birds, the trees and the stars. I was surprised and grateful to receive random acts of kindness from strangers and fellow hikers. I have also been pleasantly surprised by all the wonderful comments I have received from people reading my daily posts. Yes, the last 702.4 miles have been quite the adventure, as one adventure end another begins. Now for the challenge that is the high Sierras.