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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Almost to Kennedy Meadows!

We never originally planned on going into Lake Isabella, but we did. We even took a zero day due to the weather. A storm was rolling in, and we had a hotel room. The whole hotel was full of hikers, and we stood outside together and watched the dark clouds and rain over the mountains. The next day was even worse, but Lingo and I were getting restless. More and more hikers were entering town and rumor was that the “herd” was coming. By the time our package arrived it was close to 5pm. Lingo, Rocket Llama and I went out to the road and stuck out our thumbs. The goal was to get out of town and back on trail, not necessarily make decent miles (after all, it was already 5pm!) We were standing at the entrance to the freeway, wet from the rain, and car after car passed us by. One car in particular was full on “murder mobile.” It looked creepy, with duct tape holding it together, and no door handles. Rocket Llama was doing her Rocket Llama dance, hopping on one foot, thumb out, smiling. Her dance is silly and normally get rides, but we didn’t want THIS ride. “Not this one Rocket!” said Lingo. Too late. The car stopped. “What do we do?” I asked. We took the ride, and guess what? We didn’t die! He only took us half way, but we caught another ride that dropped us of at the trail. (We later found out that if we had hitched out the NEXT morning we would have gotten trail magic from Yogi doing a pancake breakfast at the road!) But we didn’t get trail magic. We instead hiked only 4 miles and camped with our trail friend Topo under some trees to avoid all the rain.

Heading into the storm

Heading into the storm

Lingo in the rain

Lingo in the rain

At night Lingo and I noticed the rain stop and the clouds disperse. We rolled up a door on each side of the tent to avoid condensation inside our tent. Unfortunately our tent still got condensation, which got our down bags and all our things wet. We would have been drier sleeping outside. Topo and all her belonging were soaked too. Lingo was really angry all day about our tent. It was a cold and cloudy morning, but when the sun came out we took an early lunch break and laid out our sleeping bags and tent to dry. The weather couldn’t make up it’s mind that day. Sometimes the sun would peak out, and it would be so pretty. The clouds would move in quickly though, and you would hear thunder overhead. We took an afternoon break to filter water and make coffee. There were bees flying us while we filtered the water. It was cold out and drinking coffee was nice. By the end of the day, Lingo, Rocket and I caught up to Hog. He was sitting with another hiker. We scoped the area and set up our tent. We then all sat in a circle and had dinner together and talked about our day. The sky was getting stormy again. Rocket Llama doesn’t like to use her tent, so she set up her mat and sleeping bag. “Here’s my plan guys! If it rains.. Im getting up.. and Im hiking out of here!” she said to us. Well as if the trail gods heard her, it started to rain. She didn’t get up and hike out. I threw her stuff in our tent until she set up her own tent. I fell asleep to the sound of the rain (and this time our tent worked. We woke up dry!)

It was very windy in this spot.

It was very windy in this spot.

Lingo

Lingo

A beautiful view!

A beautiful view!

The next day we were getting closer to Kennedy Meadows. Kennedy Meadows is a big achievement. It’s the start of the Sierra Mountains! We’d be done with the desert (for now,) and hiking in the beautiful mountains, at high elevation, with plenty of water! I hurt my foot/ankle this day. It was the top of my foot, and it hurt with every step. I don’t even know how it happened. Perhaps it was because I was trying to walk really fast and stepped funny? That day I also was able to see a “Mojave Green” rattlesnake. I thought we were too north to see any, but there one was! Rocket was listening to a podcast about tattoos and set the snake off. She didn’t even notice him! She managed to have passed the snake, leaving the snake rattling in the middle of the trail, with us stuck behind it. “Whoops! Sorry guys!” she chuckled and kept hiking. This snake was very angry. We heard that Mojave Greens can lunge and are more aggressive than other rattlesnakes. We ended up having to hike off the side of the mountain to pass it. By the time we caught up to our friend Hog he had set up his tent near a river. We camped with him again that night. We were very close to Kennedy Meadows, about 3 miles short. Rocket pushed on that night but my foot was aching.

"We're getting closer!" Lingo

“We’re getting closer!” Lingo

We hiked the last few miles the next morning and hit the 700 mile marker! We arrived at Kennedy Meadows around 8am, just in time for some coffee!

Sugarpine feeling proud of 700 miles!

Sugarpine feeling proud of 700 miles!

Kennedy Meadows

Kennedy Meadows

Valentine’s Camping

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Our Tent

Chas and I went camping in Mount Laguna last week. We camped the same night that we met our friends for a full moon hike. We love the Laguna Campground, so it was the perfect place to camp and celebrate Valentines Day. We finally got to test a lot of our gear too!

What kind of gear did we test?

Tarptent Double Rainbow

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Our tent

(Features from Tarptent.com)

  • Free-standing (with trekking poles) or staked
  • Hybrid bathtub floor — clip / unclip floor walls for splash, space, views, and airflow
  • Dual netting doors for views, airflow, and insect resistance; bug proof when zipped up Dual beaks shield rain, provides gear storage
  • Fast setup — 2 minutes from sack to pitched
  • Small packed size — removable strut for stuffing
  • Taut pitch resists wind, sag, and storms; integrated line tighteners
  • Reflective spectra cord guylines included

Therm-a-rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad

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Sleeping bags, Z Lite pads, and my sleeping pants

Chas has been using his for awhile, but it was my first time. It in no way compares to our super comfy bed, but  it offers a little more cushioning than sleeping on the ground does. Why the Z Lite? It’s ultralight and easy to pack. Some hikers cut 1/4 of it off to save weight (and just use an empty pack for padding under their feet.)

  • Fold up easily like an accordion.
  • Has heat trapping “dimples”
  • ThermaCapture™ coating that reflects radiant heat (this is supposed to increase warmth by 20%)
  • Foams are softer on top for extra comfort and denser on the bottom for extra durability.
  • Ultralight
  • Weighs 10 oz.
  • Made in USA

Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 Degree Down Sleeping Bag

We’ve already used these bags a few times. We bought these for each other as Christmas presents. I love this bag! We used our clothing “stuff sacks” as pillows.

  • Weighs 1 lb 13 oz
  • 16 oz down fill
  • Rated for temperatures down to 20 degrees
  • Full down collar to help trap heat around your neck

Sleepwear 

For sleeping we each have a set of long underwear, or a base layer. This consists of a top and bottoms. We chose to use Patagonia Capalene 3. They were really comfy, and paired with my sleeping bag I stayed nice and warm! This base layer with be used just for sleeping so they don’t get dirty and smelly. Some details from the website:

  • Stretchy double-knit fabric wicks extremely well
  • Smooth face slides easily beneath layers
  • Fabric brushed for warmth, softness and compressibility
  • Self-fabric crewneck for next-to-skin comfort
  • Thumb loops for secure hand coverage

Jetboil Sol Ti

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Jetboil, coffee, and a h2o bottle

We were originally going to go with an alcohol stove that uses denatured alcohol and weighs almost nothing. But because of how dry it is this year, and the risk of wildfires, many National Forests are considering putting a ban on them because they don’t have an off switch. So we decided to use the Jetboil. We also got a french press attachment piece for morning coffee ( I know, sounds silly but we’re trying to cut weight in so many places that I feel we earned this and we really really love coffee.)

  • Holds .8 L
  • Includes burner, cook pot, pot support, canister tripod
  • Lightest Jetboil cooking system
  • Very fast heating rate (a little over 2 min)
  • Excellent fuel efficiency
  • Excellent cold resistance

We woke up on Valentine’s Day in our tent, a little sore from all the hiking during the week, but nice and warm. Chas made us coffee with the new french press accessory and it didn’t really work. The coffee grounds came up the sides of the filter, but whatever. We just let the ground sink to the bottom and enjoyed some cowboy coffee.

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Chelsea and her coffee

We packed up our tent and gear, and loaded up our backpacks. It didn’t take long to breakdown camp. I’m excited to see how fast we can do it once we get more practice. We went on a little hike along the PCT from Pioneer Mail Picnic Area to the big boulder field around mile 56. On the map it’s listed as a small campsite in boulder field. We ate a bar and relaxed for a bit before turning around and hiking back. It was a really hot day, and I wish I had brought my sunhat. We tried out our new long sleeve button-up shirts. They’re supposed to keep you cool and protect you from the sun. It will take some getting used to. I felt like I should be leading a Girl Scout troop, but Chas said I looked cute.

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Pioneer Mail Picnic Area

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Chas with the desert behind him

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Chelsea at mile marker 55

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Enjoying a snack at the boulders

After our hike we stopped by the Mount Laguna Lodge and got some ice cream. We also went to the Mount Laguna Sport and Supply in hunt for a sun umbrella. A thru-hiker we met up in Tuolumne Meadows last year spoke highly of his sun umbrella he picked up in Mount Laguna for the desert sections. The owner Dave (Super) had one! He was very friendly and helpful. He informed us of some hikes he leads up in the mountains, and also told us he could do a gear shakedown and help us rid ourselves of unnecessary weight.

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Super’s Store

With how busy we have been lately I’m glad our camping trip went so well. It has been almost two weeks since we left our jobs to pursue this dream. Since the full moon hike and our camping trip we have been packing up our apartment and moving stuff into storage which hasn’t left us with much time to go on a long hike and we’re starting to itch a little. This weekend we have a 16 hour Wilderness Medicine course that is all day Saturday and Sunday which is going to be really fun and informative. Then after next week when we’re out of our apartment; it’s long hikes, backpacking and re-supply shopping!