Kennedy Meadows

Kennedy Meadows is a small town, with a general store where all the hikers hang out. The Kennedy Meadows General Store allows PCT hikers to camp behind the building for free, and caters to the hikers. This is where everyone sends their resupply packages and bear canisters. Lingo and I each had a box of food and a new pair of shoes to pick up. The store has a large deck with lots of tables, chairs, hiker boxes (where hikers leave items they don’t need for other hikers to have,) and a grill where you can order burgers, sandwiches, etc. The staff at the store was very nice! The store lets you open a tab and pay before you leave. This was extremely convenient but also dangerous since most of us ended up racking up a large tab with trips into the store to buy beer, ice cream, burgers from the grill, more beer, and more ice cream. “Just put it on #55!”

Arranging our bear cans

Arranging our bear cans

My shoes

My shoes

Lingo's shoes

Lingo’s shoes

Lingo, Topo, Hog, Rasberry

Lingo, Topo, Hog, Rasberry

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Hiker boxes

Hiker boxes

Hanging around Kennedy Meadows was really fun because we got to hang out with a lot of our friends. We met knew faces, most of which were really nice. A few hikers had a different attitude than the hikers we had been around most of the trip. A hiker stole our friend’s six pack of beer from the cooler one night, and the next day people were jumping the line-up to put their clothes in the dryer. I had heard of some hikers having an “entitled” attitude, but this was one of the first times I really saw it. It was disappointing. Our friend that had their beer stolen was very forgiving and said to me, “It’s okay. This trail’s all about love.” These kind words echoed through my mind the rest of my time spent on trail.

Yummy snacks from a trail angel and her children

Yummy snacks from a trail angel and her children

Line for the grill!

Line for the grill!

There is a trail angel named Tom who lives in Kennedy Meadows. He has his place set up with computers and outlets to charge electronics. He has hiker boxes and even a frisbee golf course. It’s known as “Tom’s Place.”

Tom's Place

Tom’s Place

One of the great things about hanging around the store was watching Rocket Llama open her package of goodies sent from her dad. He sent her a pack of animals, stick on mustaches, pink hair extensions, and lots of other silly things. I really liked playing with the animals. Rocket and I even hid the animals in our friends’ backpacks for them to find later! Sneaky Rocket tricked ME and hid the gorilla in my pack. The gorilla was snuck from pack to pack the rest of the trail and ended up making it to Canada a few weeks ago!

Rocket slightly disgruntled about how many boxes she received.

Rocket slightly disgruntled about how many boxes she received.

Rocket opening her package

Rocket opening her package

Hanging out

Hanging out

Animal's around the "water hole"

Animal’s around the “water hole”

These couple days were spent laughing, eating, and resting our feet. Our German friends Princess and Mr. Sandals had a German film crew meet them for an interview. They had their interview while indulging in much deserved burgers! At night a group of us sat around our tents and confessed our “guilty” items we’ve been hiking with. Items included things like a taser, kite, electric razor, and more. Here we all tried to save weight with light items but then ended up packing extra comfort items that weren’t really a necessity. It was funny!

Princess and Mr. Sandals

Princess and Mr. Sandals

None of us had a bottle opener. I guess an ice axe will do!

None of us had a bottle opener. I guess an ice axe will do!

My burger

My burger

We all practiced arranging our backpacks with our bear cans (which take up basically the whole pack!) Our friend Estero gave us tips and tricks to get everything to fit. He advised us to put our sleeping bag in the bottom of our pack, then our bear can, and stuff all of our clothes around the bear can. I practiced a few times before bed. We all hiked out the next morning as a group.

Estero, Fence, Acorn, and Lingo

Estero, Fence, Acorn, and Lingo

Bring on the Sierra Mountains!

Bring on the Sierra Mountains!

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Santa Cruz Mountains

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Chelsea at Henry Cowell Redwoods

Hello Glorious Redwoods! It has been too long! I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 years since I stayed at my Dad’s cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.. oh well. Chas and I really wanted to visit my family before we started our trip, so we made it a point to do so. It feels like a vacation within a vacation. Lots of hiking, camping, and family time!

Henry Cowell Redwoods

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Chas and I took my younger brother to do a fun nature loop at Henry Cowell Redwoods. I’ve done this nature loop in the past, and I enjoyed it just as much now as I did then. It’s such a beautiful park. I love seeing the redwood trees, especially the great big ones! One of the trees is over 270 feet tall, and 17 feet across it’s trunk! Looking for banana slugs within the sorrel ( the clover-looking plant around redwood trees) is always fun too. There is even an albino redwood tree! The albino tree lacks chlorophyl, which plants need to stay alive, but also gives the green-color to plants. This albino tree has attached it to another nearby tree and takes the nearby tree’s chlorophyl, allowing the albino tree to live.

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Huge tree

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Albino redwood

After the nature loop, we went over to Saturn Cafe in Santa Cruz for a delicious vegan “milkshake.” I got a chocolate shake, with cookie crumbs mixed in. The boys didn’t order a shake, but looked jealous when mine arrived. So I offered to share 🙂 Yum! Henry Cowell Redwoods has another part of the park, which we hiked a few days later. This was called the Fall Creek Unit, and is at the northern section. We made a loop of about 5 miles. Along the hike we climbed the mountain ridge, explored old lime kilns, and traveled along a river. Hiking here in the redwood forest was a nice change from the San Diego desert climate.

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Pretty sorrel everywhere

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Chas and Buddy Banana Slug

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The old lime kilns

Castle Rock State Park Overnight

Ready for our overnight!

Ready for our overnight!

Can't keep Chas from climbing rocks

Can’t keep Chas from climbing rocks

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Chelsea admiring all the trees

We really wanted to do a backpacking trip in the mountains, but all the backpacker camps in Big Basin were closed for the season. Only one was open, and it was the backpacker camp at Castle Rock State Park. The hike in was only a few miles, but we had the whole camp to ourselves! It was a little scary knowing there were no park rangers or other hikers. It was just Chas and I, along with all the signs warning us about predatory animals. All the sites were deep in the dense trees, and dark by early afternoon. We finally found a spot close to the edge of the mountain, where the trees opened up and the ground was almost sandy. The sun was shining, and gave us warmth even though it was cold and windy out. We knew this spot would be perfect for us! We had found a pile of firewood previous campers left on the other side of the campground, so we returned to gather it. We were stoked we could have a nice warm campfire that night.  We made dinner after setting up our tent. We tested the food we will be eating along the PCT. We made Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and cut up some vegan “jerquee” to add. It had been over 15 years since I ate Kraft Mac & Cheese, and it was better than I remembered.

Mmm mac & cheese with "jerky"

Mmm mac & cheese with “jerquee”

We altered the recipe a little bit to practice for our big trip. This is how we made it:

  • We boiled 1 1/2 cups of water on the Jetboil. (By using less water there is no need to drain or simmer.)
  • Turn off heat.
  • Add pasta, some olive oil, “jerquee”, and cheese packet (no milk or dairy necessary)
  • Turn stove back on. Heat to a boil. Then turn off heat.
  • Stir. Put on lid, and place in pot cozy for 10 minutes. (This saves fuel)
  • Stir it once more.
  • Let sit another 10 minute.
  • Eat it!

After dinner we watched the sunset, and got into our tent. The wind was roaring by now, but our tent held up like a champ! We were scared of moisture buildup inside the tent like it did in the desert, so this time we made sure the tent had ventilation. We laid in our bags, trying to sleep. But the wind was so loud we couldn’t right away. The wind wasn’t the only problem though. We woke up the next morning with sand in our tent, our eyes, and mouth. But hey, there was no condensation this time! Haha. Practice will make perfect.. I hope!

Us with our tent

Us with our tent

Chas making coffee

Chas making coffee

We hiked back out to the car, and indulged in beer and veggie burgers topped with avocado fries at Boulder Creek Brewery. It was a great way to end our little overnight trip- dirty, buzzed, and a full belly!

Yummm

Yummm

We had a great time up in Santa Cruz. Lots of hiking, and I got to hang out with my family almost every day of the week. We made homemade pizzas, barbecued, hung out by the pool, and enjoyed each other’s company. I’m really glad I got to spend time with my family and friends before our trip. I’m looking forward to having them meet us along the way!

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz