Day 68: Mile: 1016.9 to Mile 1035.4
Elevation Gain: 3625 feet
I left Kennedy Meadows North and started hiking around 10am. After a few miles of hiking, I found myself in yet another mudslide and one of my trekking poles snapped and the other was on the verge of breaking. So, I was able to manage with one unsteady trekking pole for the day.
Snow trekking was a common theme for about 65 percent of the day, especially the second half of the day. Despite the snow, I was still able to get a higher mileage day in. I think my muscles were trained for the snow, after about 300 miles of trudging through it, so I was a bit faster than I had previously been. My mind had also been trained to not fear the snow as much, which also helped speed things up.
The day was pretty uneventful. I camped next to a babbling creek (ha, for real), and for the first time in a long time, my tent was completely flat, so no waking up in the middle of the night, pulling myself back on my sleeping pad from sliding off, or trying to put all my weight to one side of my sleeping pad so I wouldn’t slide off.
I discovered that my feet actually are colder at night in socks. Although I have warm wool socks that I put on with my down booties when I first get in my tent, I started taking my socks off and my feet would actually get warm. I also put a single hand warmer at the bottom of my sleeping bag liner to keep them warm.
I highly recommend Z-Packs down booties. They are 1.4 ounces and I would say, reasonably priced. When my feet were in pain and going numb from the cold creek crossings, I would dry my feet off and put them in my down booties for awhile and they would warm up more quickly! If my feet are super cold in my sleeping bag, I put them in my booties and they warm up quickly. They are also great camera/lens cases and can protect your camera when you’re not using either. These are not one of my sponsored products, nor am I getting paid to advertise any of this, I just love them so much!
Day 69: Mile 1035.4 to Mile 1060.4: Ebbetts Pass
Elevation Gain: 4580 feet
This was another one of my favorite days as far as scenery goes. It’s amazing how much the scenery can change throughout 25 miles on the trail.
Wildflowers, green meadows, cascading creeks, sparkling boulders, slippery mud, melting snow, skinny trees, fallen trees, are just a few words to describe the day.
Injuries of the day: two cuts from getting tangled in barbed wire; a scraped forearm and hand from falling down a hill of rocks; bruised knee from postholing; sore knee from a mudslide incident.
A very awesome surprise awaited me around Mile 1050, Ebbetts Pass trail magic! Chipmunk was his name, chili eggs were his game. He sets up trail magic about 4 days a week during hiker season. He made us eggs with chili on top, which were delicious. His wife made us scrumptious brownies. This is not all I had to eat though. I also had a bowl of Captain Crunch with chocolate milk, a banana and a piece of bread with butter and jelly. Oh, and a Coke!! Thank you so much Chipmunk!! It was very unexpected and definitely made my day!
Right before camp, there was a very very steep snowfield that others had gone down a canyon, on mud and rocks, to avoid. So, I did the same. This was not fun. I came out of that adventure, looking like I had been mud wrestling. I think I dislike trekking in mud, more than I dislike trekking in snow. I walked until the sun went down.
The rolling hills, with the colors of the sun, wild flowers and green grass, made this, one of my top 5 favorite sunsets.
I camped with some new trail friends, but socializing wasn’t really happening, as I got in pretty late, and the mosquitos were terrible. The camp site was next to a decent size cascading creek, which is one of my favorite places to camp next to, as the sound puts me to sleep and I don’t hear others snore. It was the lowest elevation I had camped at, since the start of the Sierra Nevada section. It was also the first time I wasn’t cold going to sleep; in fact, I didn’t even put the fly on my tent. The break in the trees revealed a perfectly clear night sky, with billions of stars shining through the dark sky. What a perfect day.
Day 70: Mile 1060.4 to Mile 1081.9: Carson Pass
Elevation Gain: 3785 feet
I hadn’t even realized that I had gone over Ebbetts Pass the day prior. I might not have realized I went over Carson Pass, had there not been a sign. I really enjoyed Carson Pass. I was standing there in this green meadow, with tiny yellow flowers, surrounded by mountains, like I was in a bowl. A beautiful large lake sat in the middle of this bowl. As I explored the area a bit more, I discovered a smaller lake, which looked as if it were only in existence because of the snow melt, and didn’t have a name on the map. It was an emerald green color, surrounded by wild flowers and snow capped mountains. I’m sure it already has a name, but I named it Linda Lake. Linda not only means beautiful in Spanish, but is also my mother’s name. Although I naively thought I was finished with snow trekking, a lot of the hike to Carson Pass, was snow covered. The wild flowers and mountain top lakes really made this day stand out. Had this not been a record snow year, I suppose the rest of the Sierra Nevada would have also been covered in wildflowers and the lakes unfrozen. Although the snow made the Sierra section in the miles past beautiful, I can only imagine what they look like without snow.
This was such a great day. When I arrived at the Carson Pass visitor center, my new friends awaited for me, and the wonderful people who were running the visitor center had fresh fruit, exotic vegetables, bread, cheese, brownies and cookies for us. Not only did the scenery and new friends make this section my favorite, but the trail Magic made it super memorable as well.
After putting my feather light pack on (without crampons, bear canister and ice axe), stuffing the last oatmeal raisin cookie in my mouth, I headed to Showers Lake to meet the rest of the gang. There were a lot of weekend hikers at the lake when I arrived. I quickly found my friends, set my pack down, unbraided my hair, and went for a chilly swim in the beautiful lake. It was a bit cold, it was so refreshing. Life is so wonderful and God continues to bless me beyond belief.
We all had dinner together and called it a night. We were eager to get to South Lake Tahoe in the morning and I was eager to catch up with some of my friends that were already in Tahoe.
Day 71: Mile 1081.9 to Mile 1090.7: South Lake Tahoe
It’s nice to wake up and be excited to hike again. The Sierras took a lot out of me and I wondered if the excitement would come back, or if it would continue to be more work than enjoyment. This section really brought back the excitement for me and I was so thankful for that. Especially the sunrise. In the distance I could see South Lake Tahoe. The excitement was soon stolen by the snow that appeared again, and remained for the majority of the day.
While in Yosemite National Park, I had obtained a hitch from two wonderful ladies who live in South Lake Tahoe. Sheryl and Penny. Sheryl told me that she was a trail angel in South Lake Tahoe and that if I needed anything when I got to her area, to give her a call. So, a few hours before I arrived, I sent her a text and she not only offered me a ride from the trail into South Lake Tahoe, but offered for me to stay at her house!
When I am officially caught up with my trekking posts, I will be writing about my time in South Lake Tahoe! Until then, happy trails!
2 thoughts on “Just Keep Walking: Kennedy Meadows North to South Lake Tahoe”
I am so happy for you that you came back to the trail. You are truly on the journey of your life!
May God’s blessings keep raining down on you!
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Two things caught my attention. First, I was also fortunate enough to meet Chipmunk and eat his chili eggs. That was a wonderful morning surprise.
Second, I learned a trick by accident for keeping feet warm. I was camping at 11,200 feet in September and my socks were uncomfortably tight on my feet. I scrunched them down so that the elastic was around my arch and the sock around my toes was loose. My feet were warmer that night than the previous night even though it was colder. After that trip, I worked with my mom to develop a new sock where the elastic goes around the arch and the sock is loose around my toes.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that when my feet got cold at night, it always started with my toes. Once my toes got cold, the blood rushing to warm up my toes left my feet susceptible. Over time it would work its way until my ankles and feet were freezing. After that, I only worry about keeping my toes warm. The rest of my lower will stay warm as a result.
As an engineer, I realized that leaving the sock loose around the toes created an air gap. Using a thin sock worn normally and a thick sock loose created an effect similar to a double pane window compared to a single pane window. Another way to think of it is a sleeping bag for your toes.
This trick kept me warm for the entire PCT despite never using a sleeping bag rated for anything colder than 32 degrees and much of it using a sleeping quilt at 45 degrees. That has even worked for some winter backpacking and a night on Mt. Rainier.
Good luck the remainder of your hike.
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