June 3, 2017
Kennedy Meadows Campground – Mile 722.21 (704.66-722.21)
We slept in a bit today, since with the snow we will soon have to start getting up at ungodly hours to avoid slogging through slush. We started hiking a bit after 7, and almost immediately entered the South Sierra Wilderness. The first bit of the day was through a nice forest, parallel to the rushing Kern River. We crossed the river on a really nice bridge, which is probably one of the few bridges we’ll see in the next several hundred miles. I was definitely glad we didn’t have to ford across the rapids.
We entered a burn area, which wasn’t as nice to walk through as the forest, but still had some pretty cool views. I was struggling a bit, since it was hot and the trail went gradually uphill for most of the morning, so I put on some music, which always helps the miles fly by a lot faster. I passed Cougar and Dr. McDirty taking a break on a log, and they pointed out a deer that was heading up the hillside. First Sierra wildlife sighting!
We entered a meadow, and suddenly had a view of the snow-covered mountains ahead. It was gorgeous. I really enjoy walking through the meadows. We stopped for lunch under a pool of shade cast by a large tree, and then crossed the Kern again on another awesome bridge.
After lunch, the elevation profile showed an intense climb. If you zoomed in close enough, it literally looked like it went straight up. The first bit wasn’t too bad. We were walking through a really gorgeous forest of huge pines, beside the rushing Cow Creek. Water was super abundant today, which was awesome. We saw our first small patches of Sierra snow around 9000 feet. The first few miles of the climb slipped by without too much difficulty, but as we approached 10000 feet, it started to get hard. I don’t think it was actually that steep, so it must have been the elevation starting to take effect. Gummies wondered when we would start seeing marmots, and then a few minutes later, we saw two! They were so cute and fluffy.
The last mile or so was a real struggle. I was super hungry, my legs were tired, and breathing was not coming easy. Just before camp, we hit the point where the snow started getting serious, so we’ll be able to tackle that first thing tomorrow morning. We set up camp on a flat, dry spot with snow all around. We’re camped at 10000 feet, which is pretty cool. Tonight is the first night we’ve had some bad mosquitoes, so we all retreated to our tents early. Excited to see what tomorrow will bring.