Miles: 702.4 to 730.9
Mileage: 28.5, plus .8 back to the trail from the Kennedy Meadows General Store
Do you know what’s heavier than 30 miles of water? 10 days of food plus a bear canister.
In an attempt to make the next section of trail less complicated, we opted to hike as much of the Sierras as possible without resupplying. Because the Sierras are so remote, getting food in and out requires long detours down steep trails multiple times. That is, unless you are willing to carry at least 200 miles of worth of food and do at least 20 miles a day. It’s not uncommon for people to slow down in the Sierras. But it is uncommon for Richard.
Doing big miles is fun, don’t get me wrong; I’m also not pinning this whole plan on him. I thought we could do this. But the terrain out here is tough. And made tougher by the heavy packs and altitude. I always forget how affected I am by altitude. Up to 9,000 or 10,000 feet, I’m usually okay. But above that my body seems to forget how to push blood to my legs and my lungs shrink a lobe or two.
This is all to say, we have opted for big miles with big packs.
And day 1 went pretty well. We definitely weren’t doing 3 miles per hour. But we were able to keep up our 2.75 miles per hour for long enough to hit our mileage goal.
The first part of the day took us up a valley to the first meadow in the Sierras for northbound PCT hikers. Because meadows are fragile landscapes, the trail rarely goes through or across them. It goes up and around. I get it, but these are some of the prettiest parts of the trail right now and I feel like I only get to glimpse them from afar.
We took a break at a river crossing and hid from the wind behind a concrete platform supporting the bridge. It would be a lovely place to camp, I thought. But we must on.
After lunch the climbing started. Not much at first, but the weight of my pack made each step so much work. Around 4 p.m. it started snowing. It wasn’t heavy or wet, but still. If it’s snowing then it’s cold enough to be snowing.
After 8 miles of up came 6 miles of down to camp. By the end of the day, my feet and back were done.
Pack down. Shoes off. Life just got so much better.