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Saturday, June 2, 2018

PCT - Day 43: 5/31/2018 - Beginning of Sequoia National Forest

Trail miles: 20.0 from 702.2 to 722.2
Miles walked: 21.6

Sunrise
We left Kennedy Meadows at 6 am. I was never happier to get back on trail. Kennedy Meadows is a milestone on the PCT since it’s the end of the desert and beginning of the Sierra. However, Kennedy Meadows as a place hikers would want to spend time ranks very low on the list. I don’t like to rant in my blog, but I feel people reading this and thinking about hiking the PCT should be aware of a few things about Kennedy Meadows.

There are very little good food options. The pancakes at the general store are good, but the rest of it is adequate at best and the menu is basically limited to burgers, hot dogs, and Italian sausages. And the kitchen closes at 4 pm. The food at Grumpy Bears is not much better. They were out of pizza (for two days). The were out of potato salad. They even were out of milk so I couldn’t get a milkshake. The burgers were adequate at best, and the French fries tasted like they were cooked in a fryer that had really old oil.

The bathrooms and outhouses at the general store were fucking disgusting. There was no toilet paper or hand sanitizer to speak of. The one actual bathroom that had a flushing toilet was acceptable most of the time, except at night when it was locked with a padlock, or the morning I left when I opened the door to find human shit on the floor. This left a hiker with an urgent toilet need the only options of using the outhouses, but that was not an option either because from the time I arrived there until the time I left, the four outhouses were 100% full. It was simply unusable. This left hikers the only option of digging cat holes. This would also be fine, except there were 50-100 hikers staying here on a property that is maximum a few acres. You do the math.

If I was not waiting for a friend to show up, I would have left this hell-hole asap.

The Sierra
Anyway, getting back on the trail was a welcomed thing. The first few miles were a physical struggle for many of us today, including me. My right knee was pinching something. My right ankle hurt. But mostly, everyone’s backs and shoulders were hurting due to having to carry a bear can in their pack per regulations for the next 300-ish miles.

We stopped twice to repack packs, once for Chilly Bin and once for me. After repacking, it still sucked, just slightly less.

This brings me to a short poem I wrote about my hatred of the bear can:

~~
Hear me, you piece of shit regulator man,
I’ll want to shove your head into this bear can.
I still hike but with a much smaller smile,
my bear can hatred now consuming each mile.

Large heavy plastic, digging into my back.
Difficult to open and impossible to pack.
Mr. Regulator, your rules are so out of whack.
I’d really like to kick you in right in Ursack

~~

Peanut Butter caught up with us during one of our breaks where I was rehearsing my bear can rant. He’d gotten the “all clear” from the doctor and he looked happy to be back on trail. On another break, Chilly Bin gave some Marmite to Peanut Butter to try. It was really entertaining to watch Peanut Butter’s reaction to it. He was humorously vocal about his opinion of the bad taste. I think New Zealand as a country is very strange for eating this tar-like substance.

We started our climb at 6000 feet in elevation and ended the day above 10,000 feet. With some PUDS1 added in, we did almost 5000 feet of elevation gain today; and we did it with full packs loaded with loathsome bear cans. It was very exhausting, but being out of the desert and into the Sequoia National Forest was such a relief.
Forest
For the first time in over 700 miles, I hiked along the side of a creek. The sound of the trickling water was soothing and relaxing. Birds were singing. Water was no longer a worry.  The fragrance of pine trees was in the air.

Creek
We soon stopped for the night and our group of seven are all camped together. It’s me, HoosierDaddy, Tapeworm, Opera, Ziploc, Chilly Bin, and Peanut Butter.

I ate 1500 calories for dinner, and ate a fabulous Beef Stew with Italian polenta from Packit Gourmet. It was as good as eating at a restaurant, except I had the added benefit of also sitting in the forest with a bunch of close friends.

Our trail family supports each other, and everyone genuinely cares for one another. Chilly Bin had a minor, but painful injury to her toe late in the day and our family rallied to help her in any ways we could. We all have days where we need help. This family has pulled me up a couple of times already. I’m glad I could at least try to return the favor. I can’t wait to see how our group handles the Sierra together.


Lastly, I’m really trying to hike such that I can meet my friend Kate who’s starting the JMT in a couple days. We are trying to meet on 6/3 at a campground near Tyndall Creek, but the timing might be challenging for me. I’m trying to both stay with my trail family, hike to the summit of Mt. Whitney to celebrate Opera’s birthday, and meet Kate on 6/3. Then you add in the fact that I am already rationing food due to poor planning on my part, and this plan gets even more challenging. I guess the future will tell.

Peanut Butter (left) Circus Act (right)
Note: 1 - PUDS is trail talk for Pointless Ups and DownS

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