Wingman from the Roadside: I sort of knew where it was but had never been there. Probably a good thing I didn’t scout it out first.
We woke early (again) and packed up Runningbird’s gear to the truck. Leaving the trailer at the KOA, we headed back up the highway to Walker Pass. It was cold and windy and Runningbird put on her down coat before heading UP the trail as the first rays of light came up on the hills.
I returned to the campground and prepped the trailer for “boondocking” (camping without any external facilities, power, or water). The trailer has good solar capabilities so the only things we’ll be without for a while will be the microwave and air conditioner. I filled the 78 gallon water tank and dumped the dirty tanks, fueled the truck and headed east and then north up highway 395 then west on Nine Mile Road (the road I didn’t scout) towards Kennedy Meadows. I really don’t know what words to use. It was steep. Very steep. It was narrow. Scary narrow with huge long drop-offs. The truck engine screamed,yelled, groaned and I was only going 25 mph much of the time – slower the rest of the time. Nile Mile Road turned into Kennedy Meadows Road. It was 28 miles from the main highway to the campground. It took me forever. There were few other cars on the road (thank you) and I did actually get to pass several crazed bicyclists. What were they thinking? Perhaps they were thinking I was more crazy hauling a trailer up this road than they were for choosing to peddle up it.
A few thoughts: why would the PCTA put such a place on the route? People who haul a trailer up here never leave because they don’t want to tow it back down. What was I going to do? Worry. I thought the only things in Kennedy Meadows were a store and a campground. Wrong. The population is actually 200. I hear the Grumpy Bear has pretty good food and The Store is actually a happening place. They even had live music when I showed up in the afternoon. It is Grand Central for PCT hikers launching into the Sierras. Folks are picking up packages of fresh gear they have shipped ahead, sharing trail information or experiences they’ve had so far, or grabbing up as much high calorie food as they can consume before they head off. They even have WiFi which is great considering there is “No Service” on cellular anywhere up here. It’s a high energy place and the folks working the store were great, friendly, and supportive. What do I want to know? Does the UPS driver that comes up that road get paid extra?
I have a good campsite, shade trees, and a cooling breeze that’s really nice after the past four weeks. The Runningbird flag is up, the PCT goes right up the middle of the campground, and Runningbird will get a Zero day on Sunday to re-gear for the coming sections. That means I have until Monday to worry about driving back down that road.
Kennedy Meadows (South), CA