5-26-17/5-27-17, PCT mile 724.4, 22 miles
We started the day with a ride to Grumpy Bear Retreat. The shuttle arrived at 745. Due to an ongoing feud between the general store and the restaruant, the ford pickup had to stop across the road at Tom’s house. The truck came to a screeching halt and 16 or so hikers piled into the bed. As we zoomed off, I attempted to stabilize myself by holding on to my own legs. This was ineffective as far as physics was concerned but did work for it’s intended purpose: fooling myself into thinking I had some control of the situation. There are signs all over the road to slow down, but these must be made for visitors. All the locals drive like they are fleeing a volcanic eruption. Grumpy Bears is a small establishment, decorated with dead ungulates and pithy sayings about beer drinking. The bar itself seems like it was just thrown together with discarded cabinetry. An unusable pool table is pushed against the wall in an alcove. Nearly everyone ordered the hiker special, which includes all you can eat pancakes. The pancakes are roughly the size of a basketball, so for most people “all you can eat” is really just half a pancake. Only one hiker, Express, was able to finish an entire flapjack to the delight of all the diners. One of the locals gave us a ride back to the general store, at high speed of course. I grasped the wood axe in the wayback as we Tokyo drifted around the curves in an effort to prevent it from cutting me. The patio at the general store in Kennedy meadows is a really neat place for a hiker, mostly because it is a reunion of sorts. Hikers you may not have seen for weeks suddenly appear. As we drank a few beers and visited, the patio would occasionally erupt in applause as new people arrived. It was a fitting celebration for walking the first 700 miles through every hill and mountain the desert had to offer. Each time we would peer over the railing to see if it was someone we knew. Occasionally it was. We saw Young Gun, Boots, Baywatch, Snitch, Jeremy and even Hamlet who we had not seen for four hundred miles. That evening we crossed the street to take in a movie. The neighbor, Tom, has an outdoor theater and plays nightly movies. Tonight’s show was The Other Guys. The moon was new and the stars were spectacular. It was a little cold and the show didn’t win any awards but it was a really fun experience.
Kennedy Meadows was a place to say goodbye as much as hello this year. Many were leaving the trail here to explore all sorts of plan Bs. Most were skipping ahead or waiting for some snow to melt. A few bravesouls were pushing on. We would hike to the exit point of horseshoe meadows 44 miles north. From there we would arrange transportation back to Lake Havasu to get our snow gear and plan our resupply. The day would steadily climb to over 10,600 ft. The most elevation yet. After 10,000′ I could feel the elevation, but Sarah seemed unaffected. The scenery was fantastic, but snow made some of the miles, particularly the last 3, quite slow. We camped on a ridge near the apex of the climb as the sun was setting over the Seirra.