I was overjoyed and a little bit surprised to see Kesa when I walked out onto the front porch of Kennedy Meadows North the next morning. My text to her had been so last minute and went something like this: If you want to hike with us meet us tomorrow morning at 10am at Kennedy Meadows NORTH near Sonora Pass. If you can’t make it don’t worry about it, I know this is late notice. I won’t have service after I send you this text so we will just hope to see you… Luckily, Kesa is a tenacious, adventurous friend and she read that text and headed on up to the restort, first thing in the morning. Her face looked concerned as she stared around the parking lot, probably wondering if she was in the right place and how the hell she was going to find me. Relief flooded it when I called her name. She and Sadie joined us for breakfast at the little restaurant where I ate way too many pancakes and we all caught up.
The plan for the day was for Sadie to hike out with us for a couple of miles and then head back, getting in a nice day hike, and Kesa would come all the way to camp with us and stay overnight, hiking out alone in the morning back to the cars. We gave a couple of other thru hikers rides up to the trail and packed everything up, heading out in a group. The first part of the climb was steep, too steep for my pancake belly, which was immediately nauseous. I forced everyone to take multiple breaks until we finally reached the apex of the climb and started going down, which settled my tummy. On top of being steep it was extremely windy, which is not ideal when you are camping, but when you are hiking it provides relief from the hot sun, so I was thankful for the breeze. The wild flowers were also in full bloom all around us. The hillsides were covered with the bright purples of Lupins, sunny yellow from the Arrowhead Balsamroot, dark deep blues of Forget Me Nots and the rusty orange of Indian Paint Brush. We used our combine knowledge to name as many plants as we could, and I learned a lot of new plants thanks to Sadie and Kesa’s superior knowledge. Once we got to the other side of the ridge we took a little break and Sadie declared she would hike a little bit further with us, just to see what was over the next little outcropping of granite that we could see. However, shortly after we set out again we encountered a hundred foot stretch of mud-trail. Sadie, who was in front, turned around and declared that this was where she left us. Wise woman, that Sadie.
The next half a mile to a mile of trail was pretty rough. A lot of it was under snow or covered in water, making it extremely difficult to follow. Social trail snaked every which way, and we wove around searching for where the real trail entered and exited the snow bank. I started to get a little worried about Kesa finding her way back out, she didn’t have our convenient GPS cheating abilities. Finally we got bellow snow line and the trail cleared back up and dried out. The breeze continued though and we descended deeper and deeper into a valley. We ended up only hiking out about nine miles, but it was starting to get a little late and going further involved another climb and a dry campsite, so we decided to stay down at the bottom by a creek. The wind gusts were keeping the bugs down and the shade of the trees made layering up a necessity. We set up our tents and I rubbed Kyle down with Ben Gaye and left him in the tent to take a nap. Kesa and I gabed, helping me to satisfy that need for girlfriends that I am often missing out here on trail. Eventually Kyle stumbled out of the tent and we all cooked some dinner and snacked on chips Kesa had hiked in.
It was at this point that we realized we had lost our bear hang rope. How is it possible for us to keep loosing things? We own a total of twenty five or so things and they all live in one tiny pack… Where do they get lost too? It didn’t matter, we searched high and low (in our packs) and it was no where to be found. The food would have to live in our tents. It is a weird thing, most people out here just sleep with their food in their tents and think nothing of it, but we prefer to hang our food, PCT style. I think other people consider it a nuisance but it really doesn’t bother us, and the peace of mind of not having anything a bear would want in our tent, well that makes for a good night sleep.
After dinner we played a couple of rounds of SET on our foam mats. Kyle and I kept our eyes open as long as we could but finally admitted that it was time for us to head to bed. It was a dark nights sleep, the starlight was blocked out by the tall pine trees that surrounded us. Honestly, it might have been only our second or third night sleeping in an actual forest. Despite the imminent threat of bears I slept well.