Sunday, June 9, 2013

Days 52-54, June 7-9 - Kennedy Meadows at Long Last

Trailside Mile 680 to 703, Kennedy Meadows! 0 at Kennedy Meadows

Well folks, I arrived! Can't believe I finally made it to Kennedy Meadows, mile 700, the beginning of the Sierra Nevada, and everything all hikers have been fantasizing about for the past month and a half. There was some time when I was definitely not sure if I'd make it this far, so I am insanely proud of myself for actually making it - I don't think I've ever proclaimed such pride in an accomplishment before either! What a great feeling this is.

Yesterday we braved the heat and hiked in to KM. At the end of the last climb before KM, we reached a saddle and looked out at our very first view of the Sierra Nevada. It was a pretty special feeling to look out and see where we've hiked to, and where we will be hiking through in the next weeks. I shed a few tears (of joy, pride, accomplishment, relief) and then took some time to soak it all in. I did the same thing a few miles later when we hit mile 700, which is recognized by hikers as THE end of the desert.

I still can't believe I walked 700 miles from Mexico on my own two feet. Reflecting on the trail, I remember some of the lows and the many moments of uncertainty that I would be physically or mentally capable of continuing on. I'm so happy I did, and I'm feeling more optimistic than ever that I'll be finishing this trek in just a few short months!

We spent a few days hanging around Kennedy Meadows with a major crew of hikers rolling in and taking off consistently. The mood was electric - everyone was happy to have arrived, excited for what was to come, and in need of some time to hang out. The Kennedy Meadows General Store and cafe are just about the only things in town, and we were all allowed to set up our tents around the property. Most of us whiled away a few days on the patio eating and drinking and socializing. Life was sweet, and the crown jewel of the hike was about to start.

Amidst the casual days in which we didn't think about time or life outside of our hiker life bubble, Slosh and I realized we had less than two weeks until we were due to arrive in Mammoth for our good friends' wedding. We had a house reserved with some of our best friends for a long weekend and somewhat of a mini-high school reunion for me. While we'd considered taking two full zero days before leaving KM, we realized that wasn't a luxury we had, and knew it would be important to hit the trail on Sunday. We hoped to hike the Sierra with our friends and not get ahead of everyone, so we all left KM Sunday afternoon and only planned to go a few miles to the campground outside of town - sometimes the most important thing is just to remove yourself from the temptations of town, so even getting a few miles in is an accomplishment! We all set up camp and Scones and Doodles arrived as well. We had dinner together, chatted about our expectations of the Sierra Nevada, and got to bed early in anticipation of the amazing journey ahead!

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