Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Kennedy Meadows to South Lake Tahoe

Note from Becky--somewhere along the way I lost my mind.  I thought I had lost one of Kevin's letters--still in its sealed envelope--but when I uploaded the pictures, I found that I had posted his last letter before this one.  It's been one of those lives. Now back to Kevin's exploits:

Mon 9/11
  • Left Kennedy Meadows North around 4:00 pm with a hiker named Pirate! (Arrrrrr)  Pirate is from Venezuela
  • After getting to the highway, it started to rain.  It took a good while, but we finally got a ride from Daniel, a college student.  Dan is on his way to Austin, Texas, where as a grad student, he will teach poetry.  
  • I hiked only  1/4 mile to a trailhead parking lot--picnic tables, outhouses, etc.  Set up the tent in a dry spot under a tree. 
  • I didn't pay attention, but I set up next to a small RV.  The lady inside said, "Come inside and dry out."  Her name is Pat and she was waiting for her husband. 


  • Pat fed me macaroni and cheese and hot tea.  It really hit the spot. 
  • We talked awhile and Pat said she and her husband weren't religious when I told her the story about finding a trail crew camp in the middle of Marble Mountain Wilderness.  She said it was my good luck.  I told her that I don't believe in luck or coincidences.  

  • I went to bed around 7:30 pm
  • Just after 10:00 pm a thunderstorm cracked and boomed for some time.  Some rain, some hail. Later it really rained and big gusts of wind really shook the tent.  One tent stake was ripped out of the ground.



Tues 9/12  Started 1017  Ended 1039.2  22 miles
  • There is a pattern to the weather
    • The day starts with blue skies
    • Around 10:00 am to 1:00 pm clouds begin to build
    • Between 3:00 and 6:00 pm a thunderstorm hits
    • Today the thunderstorm started just after 6:00 pm
    • There was rain and a lot of hail. 


Wed 9/13  Started 1039.2  Ended 1056.7  17.5 miles
  • The weather pattern continues
    • Started with blue skies
    • By noon cloudy
    • Thunderstorm hit around 1:00 pm--rain and hail. 
  • I ducked between two trees to wait out the rain and hail
  • Around 1:20 pm I started hiking
  • Every draw was running brown from the sediment 

  • Came to one draw I couldn't cross
    • Found a 7-8 inch diameter log and used it to cross 3/4 of the way across
    • Log rolled and I corrected my feet to stay on top.  Had to take two steps in the water. 
  • Continued hiking.  

  • Around 3:00 pm it started raining.  My hands were cold and stiff.  
  • Found a place to bivvy for the night and got two liters of water
  • Set up tent in the rain.  That sucks. 
  • Had hot Skratch to drink and hot meal.  Had to cook in the vestibule of my tent, which I did not like in the least--a chance to melt the tent 

  • I hate it that I wasn't able to crank out 5-7 more miles.  I do not like being confined to the tent so early
  • It's now 6:15 pm.  Rain has stopped but still cloudy. 
  • I would like to see the next three days with NO rain.  To get everything dried out and to hike 20+ miles per day and to be done on Saturday.  Have 35 miles to Echo Lake plus another 20 miles (ten miles out and ten miles back) to tie in steps. 


Thurs 9/14  Started 1056.7  Ended 1080.2  23.5 miles
  • No thunderstorm or rain today.  Yeah!
  • I was able to crank out more than 20 miles and I am a happy camper.  



  • At a trailhead, I made out okay--got an orange, bag of chips, Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, and Nature Valley Oats and Dark Chocolate Bar
  • Wind became fierce about the end of my hiking day 

  • Here's what I'm down to to complete ALL of California
    • 12 miles to Echo Lake
    • 10 miles to Glen Alpine Trail to tie in steps.
      • Hiking from Ashland toward South Lake Tahoe, I was in a rush to see Neal Jones and I missed a turn.  It worked out great then, but now I've got to hike ten miles out and back--20 miles. 
    • Two miles back to highway to hitch a ride to South Lake Tahoe. 
    • A good day tomorrow and a short day on Saturday.  

Fri 9/15  Started 1080.2  To Echo Lake 1092.3  On to Glen Alpine Trail Junction 1102.2  Back to 1101.6  Susie Lake Campsite  12.3+9.9+0.6=22.8 miles. 
  • Steps all tied in. I have continuous steps from Mexico to Ashland, Oregon.  1716 miles
  • Previous years, I have done PCT in short sections (20-165 miles) that include all of Washington and the northern third of Oregon


  • Gap or hole (510 miles)--Ashland to McKenzie Pass, OR (165 miles)= about 266 miles
  • Can't hike the gap due to fires in Oregon
  • Tomorrow I Have about 11 miles to get to Highway 50 

Feeling Pretty Rough

  • By 11:30 I was at Echo Lake.  LOTS of people--lots of hikers
    • A few hikers are tourons
    • Tourons on the trail, especially a couple of high school boys.  
    • Tourons (new hiker vocabulary word) Cross between Tourist and Moron
    • At one point I told the boys that I'm carrying a heavy pack and that I need to hike, and that I can't wait on them to screw around.  This helped immediately

    • There was also a woman with two dogs.  First dog got by me okay.  Second dog almost knocked me off my feet.  The woman apologized, but I'm thinking, "Get your dogs on a leash." 
    • So now I am grumbling to myself about the "tourons." 

    • The trail is rough, rocky, gnarly
    • I was thinking about those boys when I took a mis-step--when I stepped on a pretty big rock and it rolled to the right. I fell to the left, landing on a rock on my left side.  
    • I got up, no harm-no foul, I thought
    • In just a few minutes, my back hurt
    • Now the lowest rib on the left side is really sore.
    • Just in case, I've got the Ibuprofen in a handy spot.  

    • Around 4:00 pm, I made it to Susie Lake Campsite where I dropped a lot of my gear and headed toward the trail junction to tie in my steps.  By 4:25 I was at the Glen Alpine trail junction.  I took a couple of photos , touched the sign and headed back to camp. 
    • As I set up camp, when I twisted or moved wrong, the rib growled at me. I'm pretty sure the rib is cracked
    • Last night on the trail and I ate like a horse to celebrate.  
     Sat 9/16
    • The rib and my back were quite painful all night.  
    • I got up to pee at 1:00 am, certain that I'd be unable to hike in the morning. It sure hurt when I coughed or sneezed.  

    • But in the morning I broke camp, loaded up the pack, saddled up and started hiking.  Amazingly, I was hiking strong and with almost no pain.
    • A hiker told me about a woman with red hair named Sue who was giving rides to PCT at the Echo Lake parking lot.  She was going to town at 10:00 for her next trip.  
    • I picked up the pace to see if I could be there by 10:00. 
    • I made it to the parking lot at 9:55 and found a couple of PCT hikers waiting or Sue
    • In a few minutes, Suzanne Stack showed up in a Subaru, and yes, she had room for me.   

    • She dropped me off at the Y--junction of Highway 50 and South Lake Blvd. She showed me the bus stop; took me to the Apex Motel, and waited to make sure I had a room.  
    • Within twenty minutes, I was in my room. I gathered my laundry and went to a nearby campground to do my laundry.  
    • After the shower I walked to a restaurant--Verde Mexican.  I had their tri-tip plate with rice and coleslaw and two Mexican beers. 
    • And I had great phone calls with Becky.  For about two weeks or more, I had not had cell coverage.  

    • Becky gave me the phone number for the Airporter.  They have several buses every day that go to Reno Airport.  I just had to make my way via local bus to Harra's Casino just across Nevada state line. 
    • Arrangements made--local bus, Airporter, and flight to Spokane
    • Talk about feeling like a million bucks!! Man, I was in high cotton. 
    • Went to Raley's grocery--superb sandwich and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.  I even watched a little college football.