Day 40 – May 13, 2022
Mile 652.1 (Walker Pass/Ridgecrest, CA) to 676.2
24.1 trail miles | 22.7 tracked miles | 4,759 ft elevation gain | 82.4 F / 28 °C
Thru-hiking isn’t just grand views and big miles. The real drama happens in town. Case in point, I lost one of my gloves while doing laundry yesterday afternoon. This traumatic incident kept me up at night—I pride myself in being extremely organized and can’t stand the thought of losing anything. After replaying every possible scenario overnight, I determined with a high degree of confidence that the lost glove must have fallen behind the dresser in my hotel room. And lo and behold, there it was, indeed.
On the heels of this victory against fate, My hiking companions and I gorged ourselves at the hotel’s complimentary breakfast buffet, then hopped on the bus back to the trail.
While the bus runs only three days a week—or we would have used it yesterday—the fact that even limited transit service is available between Ridgecrest, CA and the PCT trailhead at Walker Pass is remarkable. I was looking forward to a quiet and relaxing ride, but the only other passenger, a local resident and frequent hiker, decided to share his life story. I put my headphones on; he didn’t get the clue.
The trail quickly gained elevation north of Walker Pass, on its way up Mount Jenkins. The ascent was demanding: the path was steep and rocky, and I had to carry four liters of water on top of my full resupply to Kennedy Meadows. But I felt great after resting and eating yesterday afternoon, and enjoyed the succession of expansive panoramic views.
I picked up speed on the descent north of Mount Jenkins, and passed two flowing branches of the Spanish Needle Creek. With such a (relative) abundance of water, it almost feels like I’m already in the Sierras! Technically, I am indeed in the lower Sierras, about to enter the High Sierra.
Then, the trail started climbing again and winding its way towards Sawtooth Peak.
Although we had planned to hike 20 miles, we arrived at our intended campsite at 5:30pm. Feeling good, we decided to push on for another three flat miles to the next suitable site.
It was worth it. The backcountry site at mile 676.2 is exquisitely quiet and private, and I have a large section all to myself.
Dinner was an indulgence. I need to empty my food bag in anticipation for the Sierra Nevada “reset”—once I reach Kennedy Meadows, all of my food will need to fit in a bear canister, and I won’t have any room for extras or luxuries. With this in mind, I cooked a Knorr’s rice and broccoli side, and spruced it up with bacon bits and pesto powder. Then, I had cheese, prior to rounding up this three-course affair with dried fruit.