Answer Man and I finally made it to Kennedy Meadows. What a week it's been, it's hard to know where to start. We crunched some numbers a few days ago and realized we now must hike an average of 22 miles a day to make our October 5th deadline. We've been hiking with a great group of guys off and on the last couple of weeks. It seems everyone has finally realized we've got to haul ass in order to achieve the goal of Manning Park. It was a great week, although the hottest and driest so far, to stretch our hiking muscles and see what our bodies are capable of. For me, I realized I'm in the greatest hiking shape of my life, Answer Man and I hiking over 20 miles a day the entire week. We've been camping with our friends Indie and Blackgum most frequently, and it's always a blast to share a break with these guys.
As I mentioned earlier, it was a challenging week logistically. Water was extremely scarce during this section. Controversial water caches were placed in various places along the trail which provided much needed hydration, but it's never a good idea to rely on these sources. Often I carried up to 2 gallons, or 16 pounds of water. The trail seemed to tease us this week, sometimes taking us into cool forests, and then dropping us back into exposed, extremely hot desert. Glimpses of the Sierra also whetted my appetite for cooler temperatures and abundant water.
Speaking of the Sierra, it seems we are in for quite a challenge in the upcoming weeks. Our daily hiking average is surely to decline, we are aiming for 15 miles a day if we are lucky. It seems other thru hikers are experiencing the expected treacherous stream crossings, the challenges of navigating trail covered with snow, postholing, and sheer exhaustion from hiking in these conditions. I can't wait! Answer Man, Blackgum, Indie and I will most likely team up to face these challenges. Our friends Stax and Ursa Major are also close by, as well as others who we've seen from time to time. Since we seem to be at the back of the pack, we will not be waiting in Kennedy Meadows for any more snow to melt. We begin our trek tomorrow morning.
Right now, we are spending a zero day near the Kennedy Meadows General Store. A man named Tom has opened his property to thru hikers and has given us an opportunity to rest, hang out, use the computer, and sleep. It's another amazing act of generosity by someone who makes this trip possible in the first place. Thanks Tom!
Next stop is Independence for resupply. We will be attempting to summit Mt. Whitney again this week as well. What a blessing to be able to walk in the Sierra again. I'm not sure when I will be able to post another update, so for now, thanks for reading and hopefully we will have some good stories to share!
Flyboxer and Dan the Answer Man
Robin, I will give you a call when we get to Independence. Unfortunately, I have no way to tell you when we might be arriving in Mammoth. We are planning 7 days to Independence, and then maybe 9 days to Mammoth which would be July 15th?
Michael, thanks for taking care of the pictures!