Weldon KOA – Kennedy Meadows General Store

Today I awoke ready to move. The KOA turned into a kind of frat party last night, which has never been my scene. 

This morning, on National Donut Day, I ate powdered sugar mini donuts as I searched the tracking information for my packages. Two of them had been delivered and the other two are scheduled for delivery today and tomorrow. The Inyokern PO, which delivers to Kennedy Meadows, is back to making their hiker deliveries. The lady on the phone sounded so sick of answering our questions, and I don’t blame her. 

Once I knew my packages would make it to KM, I decided it was time to go. I found a shuttle leaving in about three hours and signed up. I went to the little KOA bar and had a milkshake and tried to catch up on scheduling blog posts. Maybe half an hour later, someone came into the bar and said the shuttle was there and leaving right then and had a couple of places available. I hadn’t gotten anything done, but I grabbed my pack and jumped on. Beggars can’t be choosers. 

A long and winding road later, I arrived at Kennedy Meadows General Store. 

Now, let me back up a little. First, let’s all take a moment to realize how frustrating and upsetting it is that California has had to experience yet another forest fire at the hands of a stupid human. Thankfully, thus far, no one has lost their home, although several were evacuated. The whole thing is upsetting and regrettable, and I realize that what I’m about to say is a little selfish. 

Having said all of that, let’s discuss the significance of this fire as it relates to the PCT and trail life. The Chimney Fire closed the PCT from Walker Pass (mile 652.1) to Kennedy Meadows (mile 702.2). Not only is it upsetting that we’re missing another 50 miles of trail, but we’re missing a very significant stretch of trail. This is the section of trail where we begin to leave the desert and get our first taste of the Sierras, so we’re missing that little transitional area. More importantly, walking into Kennedy Meadows is one of the biggest traditions we all get to share on this trail. KM is where we get to celebrate the ending of the desert, where we cut our teeth, and the beginning of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, where we really grow up. It’s a graduation of sorts. We’re missing the anticipation of the last day into KM, and the cheering crowd on the porch at the KM General Store when we hike in. 

So you see, I was heartsick when our van pulled into KM and dropped us off. End of desert. Done. Time to accept the situation and move on. 

We have zero cell reception up here. The only service at all is at Grumpy Bear’s restaurant, and it’s not much. I sat there and tried to text a few people to let them know what was actually happening at KM. I tried to post to my blog. I tried to text Hunter. Nothing really got done. Then, we shuttled back to the store. 

This is where my afternoon went after that: Put name on list to pick up mail. Wander around and find camp spot. Set up tent. Retrieve boxes. Take precarious dump in the absolute worst port-a-potty I have ever seen. Open and sort through all five of my packages. (Thank you, Laura/Double Time, for the bear can! Thank you, #resupplyguy, for everything else!) Have long conversation with Blue Moon about the Sierra strategy. Take everything back to my tent and spend the rest of the daylight sorting through my (way too much!) food.

Now here I am in my tent. Alone. Talking to you. Listening to the party crowd on the porch hoot and holler and have a good time. Avett Brothers playing on the speakers. I wish I could be one of the party crowd- those people so capable of bringing the party with them wherever they go. But that’s not me. Never has been. Maybe I should stop beating myself up for that. 

I’m warm in my sleeping bag. Sleepy from a long, busy day. I have a lot to do tomorrow. I get to see Hunter in 11 days!!!! As excited as I am, this is a big logistical challenge made huge by the fire closure. If I leave Sunday, throw in an extra stop I wasn’t planning to make, hike only 14 miles per day and take a day to climb Mt. Whitney, the next leg will still only take me about 8-9 days, which leaves two days for me to sit around in a town waiting for Hunter to arrive. I can’t start the leg after that because there is no easy out within only a few days. I could hitchhike north and hike a smaller section, then hitchhike around that section later, but which section and how easy would that be? Not to mention the fact that I will probably now get completely separated from all of the people I know, as they will have a full week to hike ahead of me. It’s stressful to think about, but I keep reminding myself that it will all work out. It will. It always does. 

Today I ran into Blue Moon! I met him at Ziggy and The Bear. He’s retired and from NY. Such a great guy. He’s invited me to hike this next section with his group, which I might do. 

Today I learned more about managing expectations, a little about ice axe use, and how to open a bear canister. 

Today was powered by forward movement. 

Yep, we drove right past the fire. 

That’s Sita. Mama Sita.