29th May 2015
Mileage 14.2 (22.9km)
Kennedy Meadows (702.4) to Sth Kern River (716.6)
Into the Sierras
Last night I was asked, no, I was told that I had to join a group of hikers in the morning for the ‘All you can eat’ breakfast at the nearby Bar called ‘Grumpies’. At 7.45am about 15 of us somehow jumped into the back of medium sized Sports Utility Vehicle. I’m not sure how we fit, but we did. I managed to win 2 games of pool with Hummingbird while waiting for the Eggs, Bacon, Hash Browns and Pancakes. I ate all I could eat and walked out satisfied that the calories would get me through the majority of the day.
I set off before 10am from Kennedy Meadows with Mr & Mrs Smith. Within the first mile of the trail I saw my first Bear of the hike. A medium sized Black Bear foraging on the shore of the Kern River. I observed it from the trail which was about 150 meters from the Bear. It knew of our presence but didn’t care, the sedge grasses or roots were much more important to it. It was a dark black coloured bear, possibly the same one that Bearly had seen 2 days ago as he approached Kennedy Meadows.
Around midday we stopped at a river to rest and soak our feet. The water was so cold I could only soak them in the water for about a minute before having to take them out. I repeated the process numerous time until my ankles looked normal. While hiking this trail every hiker loses their ankles. They just turn into one continuous fat mess of swollen muscles, tendons and joints. The ice water temporarily changed all that. Mr & Mrs Smith and I had ankles now and for the first time since starting the trail. They felt normal.
The hiking continued uphill through fire scared hillsides until we crossed a saddle and I saw my first real Sierra Meadow. Low sage bushes and green grasses surrounded by high hills. In the distance were snow capped peaks and snow covered high passes. I had a smile on my face. 6 weeks in the desert has led me to this place.
We crossed another saddle out of one valley into another meadow. I spied a river weaving its way through the grass and sage covered valley. This would be home for the night. I wondered what a place like this must have been like prior to colonisation. I imagined Grizzly Bears and Wolves roaming the meadows in search of abundant deer. But the grizzly bears and wolves are now gone from this meadow. The branch of the Kern River was surprisingly warm. If it were deep enough I certainly would have went swimming. Teflon, Bearly and Hummingbird arrived about 30 minutes behind us. Hummingbird left us as she needed to continue on but will meet us in a couple of days further up the trail. The rest of us chatted, laughed, ate and retired to our tents which were set up next to the river. The silence at night was complete. The air was still and the moon was getting brighter every night. My first day in the Sierras.