PCT mile 719, Towards the high country

Left Kennedy Meadows early after last night’s bacchanalia. The store lets hikers hang out on the deck all night, but cuts the power when they close up at 5 pm. A local just down the road, however, has an outdoor theater set up in the woods, complete with surround sound, and hikers are welcome to attend screenings. There was even popcorn.

Unfortunately the movie was Independence Day 4, which is truly dreadful, and it’s terribleness was alleviated only by the catcalls and witticisms emanating from the section of heavy drinkers who clustered on the left side. I left halfway through, and found a spot in the sand behind the store to roll out my sleeping bag.

I got up early and discovered that no power at the store also meant no water. I assumed there would be water at the campground 2 miles up the trail, but it has been abandoned by the Forest Service, and the spigot no longer works. I had to hike another 2 miles until the trail intersected the S Fk Kern R before I could water up.

I had hoped that the days of hot shadeless hiking were over, but found myself again toiling through desiccated and often burnt-over canyons and ridges. There is apparently a large fire near Lake Isabella, and the wind has shifted to begin blowing it our way, filling up the valleys with heavy haze. But we did get a good look at Mt Whitney, still some 50 miles distant, before the haze got too bad.

Everybody congregated at the bridge over the S Fk Kern in Monache Meadows, a lovely spot enlivened by the swallows who live under the bridge. I had hoped to fish here, but the river was low, slow and warm, and choked with algae. I continued on to Cow Creek, a pleasant piney campsite, although the creek is reduced to puddles and seeps.

Big climbs ahead tomorrow, I believe the first ascent to 10,000 feet is in store