Trying to Get a Head Start on the High Sierras
I had been to Kennedy Meadows before; to be exact, it was last August 2012. The fall from the ladder and the injury to my elbow prevented me from starting the hike in April of last year; however, by June, my elbow had healed. Not wanting to waste all the preparation I had made for the journey, I suggested to my wife that I’d like to at least hike one or more difficult sections of the trail while the weather was good and the trail was free of snow.
I had two choices – the Fuller Ridge section in the San Jacinto Mountains or the Sierras. I chose the Sierras and planned to be gone for at least a month. I stuffed my backpack with seven days of food and mailed two resupply boxes, one to Independence, California, and the other to Mammoth Lakes, California. My wife agreed to drive me to Kennedy Meadows and then return a month later to pick me up at the I-80 rest stop on Donner Summit.
It was close to six hundred miles from our home in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Kennedy Meadows, via Las Vegas, and it took us a day and a half to reach our destination. It was dark when we arrived, and not knowing where the Kennedy Meadow store was, we drove to the end of the road and camped for the night in the Kennedy Meadows Campground.
Early the next morning, we drove around until we located the store, which was closed, and the point where the PCT crossed the paved road and continued on through sagebrush meadows to the Kennedy Meadows Campground. After a long hug and a tearful good-bye, we parted ways and I started up the trail. Periodically, I would turn around and wave at Jodie, as she was still standing on the trail, but soon we were out of sight of one another.
After five minutes of walking, I heard the sound of a horn. I turned to see Jodie’s robin-blue Camry barreling down a dirt road that paralleled the trail. Where the road crossed the trail, I stopped and waited for the Camry. She stopped the car, got out, and with tears streaming down her face, came towards me.
“I just needed one more hug,” she said. What a sweetheart she is, and I love her so very much.
Again we parted, and an hour later I was in the campground where we camped last night. There were water faucets in the campground and I stopped to wash my face, drank a liter of water, and filled my depleted water bottles. This was the first serious hike I was about to take since 1994 – eighteen years ago, when I was fifty-two. I could only hope I was up to the task I had set for myself.