mile 702.2 (Kennedy Meadows) – 708.7
6.5 miles

While it was still cool and quiet this morning, I loaded all of my food out of my tent and onto a picnic table down at the store. I had A LOT of food. Last night I sorted it all into baggies full of different items- dinners, sweet snacks, salty snacks, etc. This morning I decided that I would split the next leg up into two sections to kill a little time, so I pulled out what I would need for about four days and put the other four days of food into a box to be mailed ahead. Then, I Tetrised my food into my giant bear canister. 

By then it was almost time to catch the shuttle down to Grumpy Bear’s Restaurant for breakfast and to use the wifi. This is where I learned three upsetting things. The most upsetting news I got was about a friend’s cancer spreading, which really knocked me sideways. I also heard that Muhammad Ali died, which was sad. Lastly, I got news that the section of trail that had been closed due to the Chimney Fire would reopen at about 6:00 this evening and that Wang, GB, Rusty and Dudders (and probably Blazer, though I couldn’t get texts out to him) would all go ahead and hike it. All of this news together had my head spinning. 

The news about our friend made me really question why I’m out here. There are people I love at home and I’m missing valuable time with all of them. I think this often, actually. But the fact is, I am here. I set myself a task and I can’t quit now. I have to see it through or I’ll always wonder if I could have. 

So, what to do with this new information about the trail? Should I try to find a shuttle back to Walker Pass and hike the reopened section? Should I hike the section southbound from here and then find a ride back up here from there? Should I just hike on and maybe come back later and hike the section? I went through the scenarios and what my reasons for each would be. It was a tough, emotional decision, but I decided to just move on north. I think there was part of me that was still hoping to reunite with Wang and the gang, and I had to really let go of that. It’s time to move on. 

Once I made the decision, I still had to do hours of chores before I was ready to leave. I still hadn’t figured out how on earth to fit my bear canister into my pack. I repacked my canister with eight days of food, deciding to do the next section all in one go, and mailed the rest ahead to Independence, CA, my next resupply stop. Then I gathered at least a pound of items I no longer need and mailed them home. I washed the candy out of my raincoat pocket, retaped my sunglasses where they are broken, rolled up some toilet paper for my toilet bag, rolled some duct tape onto my trekking poles, packed everything into my pack around my giant bear can, and tied my ice axe to the outside. Then, I sat and talked to the father-daughter team, Popeye and Sam until the day got a little cooler. 

Sita and I were ready to leave around the same time, so we set off together around 4:00, walking the 7/10 of a mile to the trail and then crossing Kennedy Meadows. 

We took a break at the campground a couple miles in, then started to climb, not into a different world, but into the transition between high desert and alpine. The biggest change was the sound of rushing water, our first water of any substance for almost a month. It was a peaceful walk, and we took it slow. 

Just after dark we arrived at a campsite where some other hikers were set up and we pitched in next to them. While it feels good to be moving again, I don’t quite feel comfortable with being back out yet, but that will change. There’s a lot of newness to deal with right now, but I will adjust. 

Today I learned how to pack my bear canister into my backpack. 

Today’s hike was powered by the excitement of being back on trail.