Day 54 Miles 693.52 – 702.23 May 28, 2017

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I woke up with visions of sugarplums dancing through my head. Not even the frozen dew that was covering the top of my sleeping bag (we rarely ever have the fly on), the tent and various other items left outside could get me down. Today was the day we finished the desert and arrived at Kennedy Meadows! Woo hoo! Since we needed a little extra time this morning to lay things in the sun to dry I made coffee.

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Coffee anyone? And yes, that’s my sleeping bag catching some rays on a rock

We were both trying to remember if we ever made coffee before on a morning we were hiking and agreed that this was the first. I had a huge cup and by the time we were out of camp at 8:45 I was flying on caffeine. Daddie Gizmo and I gave each other a big hug before beginning the trail for the day and congratulated one another. Maybe a little early, but heck, we only had 9 miles to go. And they went fast! We met up with Nascar from Phoenix less than a mile in and the 3 of us hiked together to KM.6174639376_IMG_06406174639376_IMG_0645

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Hitting 700 with Nascar!

6174639376_IMG_0646 It was great to spend the 3 hour hike having “hiker chatter.” This typically involves where you camped the night before, various stories from your hike thus far, trail angel encounters, what wildlife you have run across, gear you need replaced and ills you have. Overall though, it’s just a really positive conversation because generally everyone you run into is in a great mood. Why would you be out of here if you weren’t enjoying it??

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Kern river

6174639376_IMG_06426174639376_IMG_0644We arrived in KM about noon and it was great to walk up to the general store and hear the group of other hikers on the patio cheer for us as we approached. I told you, getting to KM is a big deal. IMG_4705IMG_4706We finished the desert and we had a great time! Leaving ourselves enough time so as not to rush and have shorter days and zero days when we wanted was the best option for us. We promptly devoured a double double burger that was fantastic. I finally wasn’t hungry anymore. We were looking forward all day to seeing Dave who drove up from Tehachapi to visit us!! Daddie Gizmo and I really fell in love with him and his wife Dale when we were in Tehachapi. It felt great to have an afternoon to catch up with him. He has great positive energy around him. Since Daddie Gizmo had decided on the way to KM that it was best to see a Dr for his knee, we took Dave up on a ride to Ridgecrest where we were able to get an appt. tomorrow morning. We grabbed a cheap hotel, did some laundry, took showers and ate dinner. No sunset tonight but I’m sure it won’t be long before we are in our tent again.

Day 53 Miles 680.81 – 693.52 May 17, 2017

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Its 7:49am on Wednesday morning. I have been laying in my sleeping bag awake for a little while thinking about the fact that we are about to hike the final 20 something miles to Kennedy Meadows and what an accomplishment that is. Making it to KM is a pretty big deal for PCT hikers and Daddie Gizmo and I are no exception. Even though technically there are another 50 miles of Southern California desert after KM, this is the milestone that divides the desert and Sierras. 704 miles from the Mexican border! When we rode back to the trailhead in Tehachapi with Dale and Dave, Dave told us he had 3 takeaways from meeting us. I like that idea and am going to do three takeaways from this experience thus far through the desert and to KM:
1. I feel physically stronger and happier on a consistent basis than I can ever remember being in my adult life. Knowing that I can climb these mountains even when I am tired and looking back at how much I have improved since March makes its easy to see how much I have grown mentally and physically. When it comes to happiness, I have always been incredibly responsive to the outdoors, knowing that is where I feel most at peace. Camping has always been a favorite of mine, but being able to spend nearly all of the last 2 months outside feeling the wind, smelling the trees and flowers and being connected to the elements and has brought me to a level of internal peace that I hope to maintain for a long time.
2. I am more in love with my husband than I have ever been. This kind of trip is not for all couples, but in our case it has made us stronger. Being able to see him in such a good mood for so long, with his bright blue eyes, warms my heart regularly. When we took all the BS out of our lives and stripped down to the bare essentials and focused on the same goal day in and day out, it became obvious that we are a really really good team. Daddie Gizmo is an amazing hiking partner, fantastic husband and without question my very best friend in the world.
3. Last but certainly not least is that the experiences we have had in the first 704 miles of this trail have reaffirmed my faith in humanity. All the people we have met off trail, in towns or hitching rides, have shown me the kindness that exists in the world in a way I had not previously experienced.

6174639376_IMG_06206174639376_IMG_0624Eventually, we both got up and out of the tent and on trail about 10 am for the second day in a row. The sky was completely cloudy this morning which made us just want to stay in our sleeping bags. We started straight up a mountain again and covered 1,000 ft in 2.3 miles where we got more water at Fox Mill Spring and continued on. As we were hiking we came across a dozen people eating lunch on the top of the mountain. It was a group of recent high school grads on a 3 week hiking trip. They seemed in good spirits – I’m sure graduating will do that to you! We also ran into a Mary who was on the trail taking photos of flowers and birds. It was really nice to stay and talk with her for a while because we love checking out all the flowers on the trail and she knew quite a bit. Even pointed out a flower to us that is named after Lewis and Clark and is the state flower of Idaho and rarely seen in this climate. We were about to walk right by it! IMG_6043.JPGOur original plan was to do 17 miles today so we could finish off Thursday morning with another 5 into Kennedy Meadows, but my legs were exceptionally tired from the steep climb yesterday. When I mentioned to Daddie Gizmo that I didn’t think I was going to make it 17 today he said he already knew 🙂

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Burned the register??!!!

We stopped about 9 miles in and made a hot lunch of boil in a bag rice and another delicious curry from my father in law. I have been sooo hungry since we left Lake Isabella. I needed to make a meal during the day or I was going to start eating my shoulder strap. While we there we discussed our plan from KM. We need to get Daddie Gizmo to the dr to see about his knee. Since we don’t really know what will happen we are just going to go with the flow. Maybe we will need to take a couple weeks off for him to rest or they could just brace it or perhaps even surgery. He says it hurts but beyond that neither one of us knows how this will play out. Either way, we will be together and will make the best of whatever happens. It was another 4.5 miles to our campsite for the night and since we got there at 5:30 we had plenty of sunlight to wash a few things in the creek, cook dinner and be in our sleeping bags to watch the sunset over the mountain. Second night in a row that we have seen the sunset from our tent and I love it!!

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Snow in the distance!

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See the trail!

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Day 52 Miles 665 – 680.81 May 16, 2017

Daddie Gizmo:
4000 feet up and 4000 feet down in 16 miles. We slept late, as usual. I ate my breakfast which is typically 2 Sugar Frosted Fruit Pop Tarts. I know I should have more protein in the morning, but the sugar is my replacement for caffeine. We left camp about 10 AM. There were high clouds but it was warming up quickly on the trail. 6174639376_IMG_0615.JPGOur first target was a creek about 5 miles away. With all the steep ups and downs it took us 2 1/2 hours to cover these 5 miles. It was in the middle of this leg of trail that I finally had to confide in and Figure 8 that my knee which I had hyperextended about two weeks ago was not getting any worse but was also not getting any better. IMG_5999IMG_6001I pledged that I was going to power through to Kennedy Meadows and then we would decide exactly what to do. Our next leg today would take us up a very rocky trail along the edge of the mountains up our next target which was another 2500 ft climb. The cliff drop offs today were some of the steepest drops we’ve seen. Maybe 1500-2000 ft just a foot to the side of the trail. Along the way we came upon a big brown hairy Tarantula literally guarding the trail.

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Mr. Tarantula

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We thought this was cool how it’s shaped like a heart ❤️

He was square in the middle, facing me, all puffed up and tail up in the air. His body was about as big as 2 golf balls end to end. Neither of us have ever seen a spider like this in the wild so it was pretty cool. We gave him a wide berth around and kept climbing. Our reward for reaching the top of the ridge was a hard and vicious wind in the face. It was cold up here at 7000 ft. Quite different than when we started. Sometimes I get caught off guard at the weather and temperature swings we go through during the day. From climbing or descending, being on the lee or windward side of a mountain or even a ridge, it can make a huge difference. Next up was the next creek 5 more miles away. It was a more pleasant rolling trail that dropped all the way back down to the elevation where we started the day. 4000 ft up and now the down part is as also complete. IMG_6045IMG_60446174639376_IMG_0619Right as we reached the creek a hiker named Swede passed us and another named False Start decided he would camp at the creek too. Camp food tonight was pretty good. 1/2 pound of canned ham cut up and boiled in water for the Idahoan mashed potatoes and to top it all of, a package of Velveta cheese sauce. Hearty calories for 2 hungry hikers.