PCT days 87-99: Independence to Mojave
Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
120Trip End Jan 19, 2012
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Day 87 (9/28/10): We hitch back to Independence where we meet with Valerie who flew out from Colorado to hike the next section with us.
Day 90: We wake up to the sound of rain drops hitting the tent. It is October 1st, the date people had been saying we should get through the Sierra before. We didn't. What's a calendar date to Mother Nature anyway? We end up walking through scattered showers during a mostly cloudy day, which actually worked out well because we crossed a pretty dry section that could have been brutal on a hot day. Val gets to enjoy variety on her PCT excursion...including pain in her feet and shins. Nonetheless, she marches on without complaining and even suggests we do an extra mile rather than set up camp with plenty of daylight left. What efficiency -- Val's turning into a real PCT hiker! 22 miles today.
Day 91: A windy morning at 10.500 ft. Today is mostly downhill to Kennedy Meadows. An hour and a half into the day, we run into cows -- 500 of them to be exact. The Black Angus beef herd is escorted up the hill by a dozen cowboys (and cowgirl). We help the cowboys by scaring the cows away from the trail so they stay on track. As we marvel at the scene, we are transported 100 years back in time. We continue downhill and witness a couple interesting action scenes. First, a sick cow laying down right in the middle of the stream with 3 cowboys pinning it down while a 4th cowboy injects it with some medicine. They say the cow will probably die there and become a nice meal for the bears.
Right after lunch, after crossing the might Kern River (South Fork), the rain greets us again. We make it down to the Kennedy Meadows campground by 3:45pm. There, we meet Heidi again and she drives us down to the KM store so we can munch on yummy cheeseburgers as an appetizer, then BBQ for dinner. After our big meal, we say goodbye to Val who found a ride back to Independence (where she left her rental car).
In the evening, we head back to the campground to return to where we left the trail when we met Heidi. Sleepy time!
Day 92: Late start at 8am after a long overdue morning laundry session at the campground spickets.
Day 93: Today is a special day for three reasons: 1) We've started the PCT precisley 3 months ago, 2) We completed precisely 2,000 miles (also 75% of the PCT), and 3) we are done with the Sierra and have climbed 400,000 ft. Right after leaving camp, we stop along a dirt road to collect some delicious pine nuts. And guess who shows up? Heidi, our "borrowed" trail angel! Heidi tells us that Jason and Cassandra have caught up with Giraffe and they are less than a day behind us. It looks like we'll be part of the Sobo herd pretty soon again. The day goes easy and we keep collecting and eating pine nuts nonstop as we hike. A rapid change in the weather comes in the mid-afternoon with strong wind and chilling temperatures. We set camp at 7:30pm on a saddle, sheltered from the wind behind some trees. Rain for the 4th consecutive day.
Day 95 (10/6/10): We covered more miles than planned yesterday afternoon, so we only had a few more to get to the next water source. Rather than finding a spring at the road, we find a huge water cache.
Sadly, the sun doesn't last long. First, the fog rolls in, then it starts drizzling, then full on rain... the heaviest rain we've had on the PCT. As the sun starts to set, we are soaked to the bones and Shirley starts shivering and is starting to lose the dexterity in her hands. We set camp a little earlier than planned just so we could get in the tent and try to warm up. Everything is wet -- our clothes, our backpacks, and even the tent floor. Shirley's hands are so cold she can barely grasp her shoelaces to get her shoes off. We use the bandana to mop up as much water as we can from the tent and have flashbacks to when this was a common occurence during our kayak down the Inside Passage. We eat dinner, then bundle up in our damp sleeping bags. We're still a little soggy, but at least we're getting warmer.
Day 96: We wake up with frost clinging to the tent walls. As we come to a parting in the trees, we see SNOW on the hills across the way not much higher in elevation than where we slept; no wonder the rain was so cold last night! Thankfully, the sun looks like it will be coming out soon, but we don't have the time to wait for it to shine on us, so we pack up our soggy gear and start hiking -- we'll just dry things during our lunch break...or not! The sun soon disappears behind a thick layer of fog that doesn't lift until early evening. We still manage to paritally dry the gear in the wind, but not thoroughly. Ah well, a damp night will be better than a wet one!
We drop below the cloud layer and are happy that the ground in dry and the sky is clear enough to see some stars again. From our tent spot, we have a view of Mojave's city lights as we eat our skimpy dinner -- one small packet of tuna, one package of ramen, and some oreos split between the two of us.
We get to the Cameron Rd exit just before 2pm and are able to hitch a ride in about 5 minutes.
Day 98: We eat, buy new shoes, eat, do laundry, eat, hang out with family, eat, organize gear sent to Shirley's parents' house from the kayak expedition, eat, organize PCT gear sent home over the past couple of months, eat, look over maps and create an itinerary, eat, buy food for the next few weeks, and eat. What a productive day!
Day 99: Dim sum with friends, then celebrate Shirley's parents' anniversary a little early. We are excited to see Shirley's brother and his family and spend the entire evening catching up with them and playing with the kids -- they've gotten so much bigger over the last 6 months!