Today’s hike took us into Walker Pass campground by lunchtime. We started early, as Dolittle’s mom was coming to resupply the boys for the two days into Kennedy Meadows and we didn’t want to keep her waiting.
I’d struggled with sore tendons for a couple of days, but uphill hiking of any gradient is now pretty painful and slow. Downhill is fine, and I was looking forward to a mostly downhill hike into Walker Pass where I was expecting a rest. I was slightly dreading the afternoon which I knew would take us back up the mountain on the other side of the road. Coming down from the hill was warm and sunny, and I was once again impressed by the flora of the desert. Whilst the top of the hill has plenty of pine trees, descending into the sandy valley provided a multitude of flowers including some new ones for me. I love the smells of the desert both trees and flowers and will be almost sorry to leave it behind when we hit Kennedy Meadows.
At Walker Pass, we found some inviting trail magic in the form of an airstream and gazebos. I’d seen the airstream winking at me in the sunlight for the last few miles and had wondered what it was. The angel behind it had thru-hiked 2 years ago and knew exactly what hikers would be in need of at this point in the trail. He had watermelon, cold soda and footbaths as well as loaves of bread, peanut butter and jam. Dolittle’s mom had arrived with the boys’ food, and we parked ourselves at a picnic table for lunch with her and Terry.
Whilst we ate our lunch, explaining about stoves and calories at intervals, we took care of our various niggles. I rested my legs against a tree to elevate them, knowing that the second half of the day would need all the rest I could get. However, someone suggested that we could in fact leave the trail there and then. The guys are heading to a wedding and the invitation has been extended to me. Although the original plan had been to leave and rejoin the trail at Kennedy Meadows, our injuries and the heat tempted us to leave at mile 651 and drive back to San Jose immediately. We said goodbye to our little hiking bubble, who had slowly arrived at the campground as we’d been eating. Honeystick, Starfish, Wendybird, Junior, Andy, Mowgli and Hornbuckle all joined us for a group photo not knowing if we would see them again.
Jan and Terry had been planning to hike in the days it would have taken us to walk to Kennedy Meadows and we didn’t want to completely mess up their weekend so we booked rooms in Kernville. We used the afternoon to search for clean clothes, preferring to leave our laundry until we got home but still wanting to be presentable for dinner that evening. I found a teenager sized dress which was the only thing not ridiculously too large, and walked around in that plus my fluffy sleep socks which were at least passably clean.
After a pasta dinner at the Kernville Italian restaurant, we felt a bit more removed from the trail. I don’t quite know how we will fare in a larger town where hikers are unknown and habits have to change. Re-entry, albeit temporary, will be strange. So I’m taking a break for a while. I’ll be in San Jose and Shasta, and normal service will be resumed June 11th or thereabouts. Hopefully rested and healed and ready for the Sierra Nevada.
Camping: mile 651 Kernville (not camping)