June 9, 2015 (9th Re-Ration – Kennedy Meadows)
Chimney Creek (681.0) to Kennedy Meadows (702.4)
21.4 PCT miles today, 1 non-PCT mile today
715.4 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 3,998 ft, – 3,681 ft
Well we finally made it. I’m writing this blog from my tent behind the Kennedy Meadows General Store and I’m overwhelmed with relief and pride over the fact that we have officially made it through the Southern California desert. All together, it took us 40 days to get here, which of course has some interesting symbolism. Today was definitely one of my most memorable birthdays ever, and everyone including Mama Bear, Pickles, and all our hiker friends made it extra special.
We headed out early this morning, eager to get the hiking over and done with so we could relax and celebrate. It should have been a relatively easy day, but I think I must have just been exhausted from all the long days, and that combined with the pain in my feet made the miles drag by. The last 10 miles or so into Kennedy Meadows was beautiful. I know this to be true, but I couldn’t actually appreciate it when we were hiking. I think that’s when you know you need to rest – when you stop appreciating all the natural beauty around you and just focus on getting through the day. Finally, at around 2:30 in the afternoon, we made it to the turn-off for the general store. We walked up the paved road for over half a mile and just as we saw the sign on our left, and began to take in all the many hikers hanging out on the patio out front, everyone began applauding and then broke into the Happy Birthday song. It felt so incredibly good to be honored like that, and my eyes welled with tears as we embraced Mama Bear and exchanged high fives and hugs with hikers we hadn’t seen in weeks. We had beer and wine shoved into our hands, and within minutes we were resting at a picnic table, rehydrating and catching up with old and new friends. We were pretty bummed to hear that Kennedy Meadows actually has no reception, 4G, or wifi, so I wasn’t able to connect with friends and family back home, but at least I had my two favorite people right there with me. I also collected a few cards and packages from wonderfully kind friends who had sent me a little birthday love through the mail. Deb, Dana, Kelli, and Erin – thank you guys!! Your thoughts are so very appreciated.
After a bit of relaxation, Pickles and I set up our tent and then, without even showering (that will have to wait until tomorrow) we headed down the road to the only restaurant in town, a roadhouse called Grumpy Bear. We had some delicious and filling food with our friend Mosey (a guy we hiked into Idyllwild with and had been hoping to catch up with again at some point) and then went right back to the general store where Mama Bear whipped out all the fixings for a delectable strawberry shortcake.
We are finally taking a full off-the-feet zero here tomorrow, but without any wifi, I’m not sure exactly how much we’ll get done. We might have to adjust our Sierra resupply strategy just so I can get some different shoes ordered and sent my way before too long. In the meantime, it seems that I might have to make my Altras work a bit longer.
After some reflection, I have to admit that it doesn’t actually feel any different being 30 years old, and I haven’t had any problem accepting the fact that my 20’s are over. Mostly I’m just excited for this coming decade and happy that I am where I am in life and getting the opportunity to do what I love every day. I’m looking forward to all that lies ahead and feeling more ready than ever to invest my time, energy, and money in the people and things that matter most to me. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more time on trail for reflection and processing, but for now I think what I need most is some good sleep and a bit of time off my poor worn-out feet.