Highway 58 to Kennedy Meadows

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Note to reader: This has been a bit of a frustrating section to blog. Having spent hours writing and revising it (it covers 7 days) we arrived in a town to finally upload it and found it all wiped. We’ve now had to start again. You might be relieved to know that as a result it will be a little briefer than previous posts – partly because we have bad memories (like can’t remember, not bad bad) and partly because we’re a little frustrated and have a more exciting section to write!

Day 39 continued…

Once we arrived at Highway 58 we were reunited with our full packs. Oh my lord they were heavy. We had 7 days worth of food and 3 or 4 litres of water each. We weren’t alone as comments in the hiker log book mostly said things like “Why pack, why?” We understood their pain.

The hike started off hot and after a short stretch following the highway we began climbing up out of the valley and eventually onto a ridge. Cashmere was pushing to get away from the highway and the loud freight trains that had kept us up at night in both Mojave and Tehachapi.

We cooked dinner…we’d been excited to try having tacos. But when Cashmere rehydrated the refried beans she added too much water. Consistent with our ‘hiker trash’ lifestyle Physio suggested adding some instant mashed potatoes to thicken them up and then proceeded to say ‘more mashed potatoes are required’ at least 3 times. We didn’t have too much else to put in them so I’d say they were ‘okay’. Clearly we needed to get hiking some more so that everything tasted amazing!

After dinner we hiked a few more miles. Including on a nice ridge that made us very happy to be back on the trail. Then we found a sheltered place to camp under some trees.

We loved this ridge line

It was another cold PCT night.

Day 40

The morning was freezing cold but after a sluggish start we managed to get moving. We immediately ran into our friends Dilly and Dally who were Dillying and Dallying at a camp right near ours. We proceeded down a fairly boring dirt road for a few miles stuck in the clouds without a view.

Eventually the cloud around us cleared just long enough to see down to the desert.


We stopped by a water source for a fantastic and relatively luxurious lunch of cheese on crackers and Annie’s Mac and Cheese (we were fervently trying to eat the heavier items from the pack). Another hiker even brought Cashmere some fine coffee to sip which delighted her.

Much of the day was also spent hiking through burnt out forest, which was a little depressing but Physio kept smiling.


As usual we had dinner near where ‘normal hikers’ camped and then insisted on hiking a bit further. On this occasion we did not find the camp site of our dreams, and instead were forced to camp under low trees for shelter from the deteriorating weather and our tent was surrounded by cow crap but such can happen when you love the campsite gamble like we do!

Day 41

Waking up in our tent in a dense freezing cloud was utterly miserable. Physio was cursing his freezing useless hands and began to once again crave the desert heat. Rolling up the tent was basically the worst thing you can imagine – already cold hands meet wet freezing cold dirty tent, now be friends for an extended period of time. Argh!

Physio really started freaking out when he couldn’t get his gaiters on because his fingers wouldn’t work. Somehow Cashmere put up with all Physio’s outbursts and we got hiking.

Once we warmed up a bit the forest was actually pretty nice.

Green grass and unburnt trees - Amazing!

We even passed our first milestone for the section  – which someone had beautifully constructed on a 4WD track that the PCT follows.

Wet and cold, but jubilant

By the afternoon the sun started to win it’s day long battle with the clouds, we entered a lovely forest, and Physio got excited. We even had the luxury of finally removing our wet weather gear.

PCT forest nymph

After saying hello to our friends Bucket, Fancy Pants, and Rally we climbed up to, and descended, another ridge to discover magnificent views. Cashmere got very excited about how close we were getting to Sequoia National Forest, though we later learned that didn’t actually mean it was full of Giant Sequoias!

Sequoia National Forest in 20 miles (~30km)!

Having just had dinner, Physio was well and truly feeling the PCT love. While Cashmere was enjoying herself, she was not going through quite the same bipolar extremes Physio was experiencing.

Physio in a manic phase

But seriously, how good does this look? image

At the bottom of the valley we made camp in a dry creek bed and enjoyed a relatively warm night – much to our relief.

Day 42

The next morning we awoke early and set off enjoying the early morning majestic light on the surrounding mountains, notably ‘the Mayan’, a pyramid-shaped mountain nearby.

We were in the driest section of the trail and had to walk about 3 (some of which were intense) miles off the trail roundtrip to ‘Willow Spring’ to get water. What’s worse, we had to fill up at a cistern where a dead rat and mouse had been pulled out 2 days before. Cashmere still felt a bit weird about drinking that water even after filtering and dropping treatment tablets in.

When we went to the spring Cashmere had dropped her hiking poles and pack by the side of a dirt road. Only it was a Saturday and there was a bit of four-wheel drive action on the dirt road. At one stage some of the vehicles all stopped near where we had put our bags down. When we returned we realised one of Cashmere’s poles was broken. We were devastated but not entirely sure what we could do about it. Luckily Physio likes fixing Cashmere’s problems and he taped it together so that it sort of worked…though it’s a bit shorter than the other now 🙁

Poor Cashmere has a broken pole

Then we had some lunch under a Joshua Tree as you do in the desert.

Lunch under a Joshua Tree

And we passed a metric-friendly milestone, which for some reason Physio had a hard time understanding. Maybe he has gotten too into the imperial system! image

We drank some ‘green shit’ in honour of Mark and Lucie.

We really didn't mind the desert at all

Then hiked up more mountains, including a big windy one and enjoyed more desert views.

Desert views abounding

But once again we needed to get more water for dinner and went down to a kind of weird water source (0.7 miles or around 1.2km off the trail each way) called Yellow Jacket Spring. Many PCT hikers had assumed or heard it was dry and had carried many litres of very heavy water from way back at the dead-animal-in-your-water and pole-breaking Willow Spring. Physio and Cashmere are a slightly lazier and more optimistic breed though. The water was hard to find. The water report had said we might need to dig a hole and let it fill with water to harvest. In fact, later a hiker described getting water from basically a mud puddle. Cashmere instead bashed about 300 metres down a hill, observing the prevalence of particular flora to find a very little stream and pools where she filled up.

Yellow Jacket Spring, a little too weird for most people

Later we even learned of one guy who couldn’t find Willow Spring, didn’t try Yellow Jacket and ended up walking 40 miles with only 2 litres of water!

Anyway we just had some dinner and made camp on the side of the track back up to the PCT.

Day 43

The next morning we awoke and walked up and around a hill to another 4 wheel drive track (Ugh). Despite the roaring ATV’s and such whizzing past us, we still managed to enjoy a break on the clouds enabling our first glimpse of the snowy Sierra Nevadas that we would soon be visiting.

The snowy Sierras in the distance

We continued along. For some reason Cashmere had gotten it in her head that it would be nice to push hard to walk 14 or so miles to have lunch at Walker Pass Campground. She tricked Physio into achieving this aim by plying, or distracting, him with rugby talk. Soon enough they were rolling into the campground. But then the strangest thing happened. One of the other hikers that they had been leapfrogging with, Tracey, came running to them holding something. At first it seemed like a mirage, but then it was real. She brought us watermelon! There was some serious trail magic from the somewhat famous Meadow Ed. Meadow Ed has been doing ‘trail magic’ for more than 16 years and reportedly his character is reflected in the Wild movie. So we visited the Trail Magic tent and scarfed down sandwiches, chips, fresh fruit and vegetables, plus a hoppy beer each and some Gatorade. Turns out holding out for lunch was a win!

Eventually after 2 or so hours, we finally started moving again. First we went to a spring, which we got a bit involved with. Then we hopped back on the trail on the other side of Walker Pass. After some miles we had dinner, walked some more and then set up camp and watched the sunset together. What a great life.

Sorry McCrossins, another sunset photo

Day 44

The next morning we woke early and began walking in nice hues of the sunrise.


Very nice sunrise vistas

After clambering down to a spring later we began a big climb. Part way along we hit another milestone.

You are only one-fourth of the way through reading our blog entries!

We had now hiked a fourth of the PCT. We felt a bit of excitement and maybe also some concern (“we’ve only done one-fourth?”)

So despite our nice sunset dinner and such the previous night, Physio said he hadn’t slept well due to feeling real dirty. Our moist towelette bathes just weren’t doing the trick. So after a whole lot of hiking, up, down and around, we approached a campground that Cashmere had been determined to bring us to. Really we just wanted the spigot. But oh….the spigot was so far…an extra mile into the campground. Physio, in his lack-of-sleep haze struggled. Cashmere tried to keep her cool but it was tough. Eventually we reached the spigot. Cashmere asked another hiker, Big Sky, not to look and got fully naked by the miraculous spigot to scrub up. Soon Physio followed suit. It was a pure and magnificent hiker trash moment. We then enjoyed the luxury of a picnic table to have dinner and finally fell asleep….after walking something like 25/26 miles each. Sigh.

Day 45

The next day was a special one. We were going to reach Kennedy Meadows! But first, we had 22 miles to walk. We walked the mile back out of the campground, got back on the PCT, started climbing a hill, and then Physio started playing some sort of awful punk to get us up the hill. Whether or not the punk helped, we made it up the hill. We were having a snack break in a burnt area, enjoying another glimpse of the Sierras, when a PCT hiker we’d not yet met came by.

Burnt area snack spot with snowy Sierras in the diatance

His name was OCD and we ended up walking with him for some time which was good for passing the time. After still more walking after lunch we came upon an exquisite site. So. Much. Water. In a river. I can’t believe we forgot to take a picture.

Anyhow Cashmere was antsy and excited to get to Kennedy Meadows. It is the gateway to the Sierras! Plus the store would probably have ice cream. As she fantasised about the selection of goods her pace hastened. In contrast, Physio was tired. In his defence, we had been walking for a week straight. He just couldn’t walk fast enough to meet Cashmere’s urgent dreams. Anyhow, we coped. And eventually passed this little milestone.

Mile 700:)

It was good but not as good as seeing this one.

Kennedy Meadows!

What’s more, as we walked up to the Kennedy Meadows general store (basically the only thing in Kennedy Meadows) we were welcomed with loud cheers! Later we learned all the PCT hikers get such a welcome because you made it to Kennedy Meadows. Plus all the hikers just hang on the porch all day with little else to do.

We were flustered upon arrival. There were so many people we hadn’t seen for awhile and wanted to catch up with. And drinks. And ice cream. And a grill that would be shutting down soon for the evening!

Oh man it was good there. Great music on the porch, a puzzle, and nobody’s phones worked so we actually hung out with each other instead of sitting around doing things like, ahem, blogging. The store also lets you run a tab so you don’t have to acknowledge how much you are spending until one final, sometimes shameful, spending transaction. Kennedy Meadows is so great that hikers also cheer for you when you leave ‘the vortex’.

So we caught up with people, showered, put up our tent, drank a few IPA’s, ate a tub of Ben & Jerry’s (the latter 2 don’t go together as well as you’d think), Jacob got accosted/friendly with a slightly eccentric local, and we went to sleep.

Day 46

The next morning Cashmere awoke and lay in bed blogging for a bit and then remembered that the local restaurant (~3 miles away) was coming to pick up hungry hikers for breakfast, including all you can eat pancakes! She popped outta bed and waited on the porch, stalking that ride. As soon as the truck came, she went and woke Physio who popped out of bed to join. Only when we arrived at the restaurant, Physio realised he forgot his Lactaid – very problematic for pancake parties! The owner/waiter at the restaurant just said “take my truck back, but don’t close the door window or they will get stuck.” So Physio departed and managed to return okay and with a few more hungry hikers.

Cruisin back from the pancake party

All and all it was a great success and we got very full. We spent the afternoon relaxing with friends, eating more, and going through our resupply, trying to make sure we were ready for the Sierras. While many people zero at Kennedy Meadows we were afraid we would never leave and spend our life savings; so we actually headed out at about 7pm (we actually meant to leave a little earlier than that but had to think we lost the phone and freak out for a bit first).

Get excited, the photos start getting extra pretty in the next post from Physio, as we head into the Sierras.

Thanks again for reading!