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The Desert

43

44

45

The High Sierras

Hints of the Sierras were showing up, like a meadow in the bottom of this valley.

Day 43

A spectacular start of the day with incredible views of the mountainsides where the trail was switchbacking in wide zigzags, back and forth. Sometimes it was jungle-like, with small trickling streams crossing the trail in small gullies. I felt pretty strong, and even though I started later than usual, the long day from before gave me the motivation to push far even today. It was pretty nice to be alone this day, just keeping a steady tempo in the uphill, listening to the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire saga which I had started the previous day. The views as I described the previous day was really shifting to a new type.

After the large climb, the trail started traversing along one of the mountainsides in the dramatic landscape passing over a small pass and descending slowly on in the side of a large valley. I met a Norwegian girl I met earlier around the Mc Donalds at Cajon pass, I stopped to chat for awhile before I headed on downwards. After following the valley for about an hour, the trail left the mountainside to cross a larger valley running north to south. There was a nice stream in the bottom where I filled up some water and had a lunch break.

The trail on the side of the valley, at the moment low growing trees were obscuring the views.

Just after leaving my nice lunch spot I crossed a road with a sign pointing towards trail magic. I debated for a while if I wanted to go there, on one hand, trail magic is always trail magic, but on the other, I had woken up too late, just taken a break and still had a long ways to go before hitting my goal of the evening. I decided not to go. I think this is my one regret on the PCT. Always go to the trail magic! I heard lots of good things about it later, and I was thinking about it all the way during the following five miles of climbing.

The snow covered mountains were coming closer for every day!

The last miles down to camp was easy cruising. I saw the blue-brown outline of a river snaking its way through the bottom of the landscape in between the mountains. In the distance the ever-changing landscape looked even more Sierra-like now, the granite rocks becoming more abundant and pine trees with bark more reddish than before. I arrived at the campsite, a nice stream flowing through it. Three other people were already set up there, Grandpa, a really nice guy I met throughout the Sierras, and two girls. We made a fire and talked until the sun went down. Nice to camp with people again. Only 9 miles to Kennedy Meadows, end of a chapter.

The two girls (can't remember their names now) and grandpa at our nice fire.

Day 44

9 easy miles into Kennedy Meadows. It was with anticipation for what is to come, and a bit of nostalgia (yeah I was already feeling nostalgic over the desert) that I followed the raging South Fork of the Kern River upstream. Just before the road to KM, I wrote my goodbyes to the desert in the trail log before walking the last bit into the most famous gas station on the trail. It's quite a nice feeling, not least because of the applause you are met by when walking up to the wooden deck of the building that houses an all-inclusive accommodations, store, showers, toilets, restaurant, post service, gas station and non-functioning wifi, all in hiker luxury. But mostly just the feeling of completing the feat of hiking the desert section and its 702 miles. One part down, just... three point eight parts left... nothing!

The trail on the side of the South Fork of the Kern River.

Last snake of the desert!

700 miles!

Bye bye desert! :')

I met Megan, Express, Stats, Hefty again. I hadn't seen them since Big Bear, and it was so nice, even though the hiked out again shortly after. I met Manuel, the French guy I met a lot throughout the desert also (and didn't mention so far), super nice guy. And I met a new guy called Chef. Me and the two girls I met in the camp last night hitched to the local restaurant, Grumpy Bears. They were 80% closed, but we managed to get a sandwich and a beer. And the way back was fun, the girl who drove us was a real character, and she seemed used to impress people with her very fast car.

Hello Kennedy Meadows, population very small!

My tent set up at the back of the gas station.

The front of the gas station.

And the deck where the hikers hang out.

I picked up the five packages I had waiting for me. One was from Sweden packed in a Swedish PostNord box, something from home, it was really nice to see. I unpacked my warm sleeping bag, lots of Swedish candy, and a new pair of shoes. In another package, I found the bear canister I borrowed from Kalmia and the crampons I borrowed from Jon, and the whippet I had ordered back in Big Bear. I also opened a box with lots of food that would take me all the way to the next resupply location in the 8-days slow pace of walking through snow (including scaling Mt Whitney). In the evening I met Hummingbird, Nic, Emi, and Russ also, super excited to see them again! I decided to team up with Nic, Emi, and Russ for at least the first Sierra section. Hummingbird was, unfortunately, waiting in KM until her snow-hiking class which started a couple of days later. It was nice to know that I had a group to go with. I now felt truly ready for the Sierras!

My Swedish package. Warm sleeping bag, new shoes and Swedish candy!

702 miles on these beautiful shoes.

Day 45

A rest day, spent mostly resting and getting ready mentally for whats to come. To be honest I couldn't wait to start. Even though I was feeling a bit nervous, the stronger excited feeling was taking over and I didn't want to stay at this admirable gas station much longer. I met more people. Thomas arrived in KM today, and I spent lots of time talking to him and the other French guys about using ice axes, something none of us had done but were experts of from our youtube 5-minute courses. Ben also showed up later and I was super happy to see him again. I spent a good while talking to him about everything that happened to us through the desert. He had decided to flip north so I would probably not see him again. It was a sad goodbye for me. I went to bed feeling like the night before my trip all over again. A new adventure awaiting!

Nic and the wall of the gas station deck.

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