To Kennedy Meadows of course! If you ask just about any hiker on the PCT they’ll tell you the first 700 miles are just a warm up for getting to the Sierras and Kennedy Meadows is the jumping off point. It’s all we think about, leaving the dry desert landscape behind for the cool mountains and streams of the Sierras!
The desert has been challenging with long water carries and water sources you wish you could laugh at and walk away from, but no, this is your last chance for the next 19 miles to fill up. And so you approach the concrete trough half filled with a thick layer of algae and slime, frogs jumping around croaking while tadpoles swim about below the surface. A tiny pipe at the corner of the trough drips water at the rate of one liter per five minutes and you think ‘Dear God, I’m out of water, thirsty, hungry and there’s a line six deep!’ I collapse in exhaustion, take a few deep breaths and pray. It took three hours to collect and filter six liters of drinking water and another liter for making dinner. Only 100 more miles to Kennedy Meadows, in my mind it sounds like paradise! I dream it’s a sweet oasis of tall trees, flowing streams of cool water and happy hikers leaving north for the tall peaks of the Sierras! Soon we’ll find out!
What has made the desert a more pleasurable experience has been having our dad be our support vehicle for the past 500 miles! Our dad has earned himself the trail name ‘RVP’ (RV Pete). He’s become a trail angel to so many hikers during the past 500 miles and many of them are green with envy at us having our own personal trail angel. Our dad has tirelessly met us at every road the trail has crossed, navigating the high mountain passes of the San Gabriel Mountains to the bone dry windy flat expanses of the Mojave. He’s a heroine for driving the the steep twisting dirt road of Jawbone Canyon Road to meet us at the high pass of Kelso Valley Road. This marked a point in the trail where the phrase ‘Hike your own hike’ takes on a very personal meaning.
RVP met us at PCT mile 616 in the middle of a 42 mile waterless stretch to make sure we could at the least resupply with water to cut it back to a 36 mile waterless stretch. It was at that point Phil and I both realized 36 miles of no water and 100 degree temperatures was not for us. We grappled with the notion of carrying 9+ liters of water or jumping in the RV to get the heck out of there. We happily took the ride out. Offering a ride to any other hikers, a few accepted and many others declined accepting their waterless fate.
As we arrived at the Weldon KOA we quickly learned a forest fire had been burning just north of Walker Pass and the PCT was now closed from mile 652 to Kennedy Meadows! What now!? How to get there, our resupply packages for the Sierras, my beloved backpack how would we continue? We decided to wait it out, enjoy some downtime; a pool party, a shower, laundry, milkshakes! Thankfully we did and just a day later the Forest Service was able to contain the fire and trail will reopen soon! Phew! But during that time RVP being the heroine he is offered to drive us around the fire, despite knowing it would be a mountain road filled with twists, turns and steep grades. What a trail angel!
When Phil and I decided to hike the PCT together I couldn’t have imaged I’d be able to share this experience with my dad. It has been incredible to have him with us every step of the way! Many, many thanks to our dad;the trail angel, ‘RVP’, for being our biggest supporter and for the endless Dr. Peppers!
In a few days time he will depart for Boise to see his grandkids; Bella and Gavin on his way home to Whiting. It will be sad to see him go but I’m so happy I got to share this experience with him and if you ask him he’ll tell you ‘I did my job, I got my kids through the desert’ and that he did!! Thanks RVP!