Day 48: (15.95 miles)
mile 686.8 – 702 to Kennedy Meadows
Up early again. No breakfast or coffee. Should be cooler today but we don’t want to chance it.
We want to be able to make it to Kennedy Meadows before it closed at 5pm and get our hiker box… and beer of course, yet we didn’t want to overheat and my shin was on fire with each step. Our mission was clear, get to Kennedy Meadows then you can stop moving and heal up with ice…and beer. Luckily the trail was not severe and I could tune out most of the pain. We motor along. I am in a trance of sorts and on auto pilot which is a shame because we are entering some neat terrain, most of which I fail to appreciate. Along the way we are passed by Tarzan, Assawaggen and Mammoth. We meet and are passed by a new hiker, Rainman, who is our age and per his lips, feeling “quite spunky”, and also on a mission to get to KM before it closes. We travel downward most of the day passing many old prospect mines and their tailings. Were these old mines from the gold rush days? We can’t help but wonder.
Today we will be crossing the east fork of the Kern river. Plenty of water there, even during a drought year. We plodded along, Paul and the “gimp” (“One Speed ” is now my trail name) with my aching shin. Five miles short of of Kennedy Meadows we reach the river. It looks so inviting. We had talked about soaking our feet when we reached this point , but we can’t find a safe entry. Soak our feet or drink beer? We push on. We hit the 700 mile mark…2 more miles!
An hour before closing we are passed by Daniel. He is on the same mission too. Finally we hit the road into Kennedy Meadows. Good news/Bad news. Good news…It’s only .75 miles to the store. Bad news…it asphalt and uphill. Argh! Shin hurts more with hard surface. Stay focused I tell myself. “Limp really bad when a car goes by, maybe they’ll give us…you a ride”, Paul says. No ride but we make it to the store with plenty of time to spare. We drop our packs on the deck. We are greeted with cheers from Tarzan, Assawaggen, Rainman, Mammoth and a few others. Now for much earned beer.
Six pack of Coors please. We missed the sign up for dinner (lasagna) but the grill was still open and we munched on double cheese burgers…heaven! Paul secures a bucket of ice water and I soak my shin with everybody’s extra beers. We laugh and share stories on the deck as music (our era) plays through crusty speakers. Just before the store closes, another beer “run”. The stories and laughter echoes till late into the night and we realize the music is no longer playing and the outdoor lights have been doused. Wow. This is a first. Eventually we call it and wander off to set up camp on the flattest piece of real estate we can find. This should be interesting.