This TD29 MP 704 has been modified to include photos 7/4/2019:
The alarm goes off at 3:45 am. It is cold!! I am waking up and it is cold. I do not want to leave the cozy warmth of my down quilt. I pull the quilt around my chin and groggily hit the stop button on the alarm. My finger is too cold to register on the phone’s touch pad. The alarm continues as I pull the phone under the quilt and finally silence it. My favorite cold water bottle cafe mocha does not sound good. The cold mashed potatoes do not sound good. I imagine steaming hot avocado toast on thick whole wheat bread and a giant steaming soy latte. LOL. Up and at ‘end girl!!
Breaking camp is a good reminder of cold weather camping needs. In particular, on this chilly morning I cannot warm my fingers. Accustomed and geared for the desert I have not needed worry about the loss of feeling and dexterity that comes quickly when I get chilly. I am grateful for this reminder as I struggle with tent pegs and small cord stops.
Hiking, after breaking camp I mentally review the little tricks processes, systems that I use in snow camping to prevent the rapid decline of manual feeling and dexterity. Chemical Hand warmers, fleece wristies, prewarmed gloves and prewarmed fleece lined mittens. The chemical hand warmers last 7-8 hours and I put them in the gloves, then transfer them to the mittens.
Going through this routine in mind several times to make it routine, again I realize that I have traveled over 7 miles already,mostly uphill. I have not had to force, entice or ding march songs to make this progress. I remember last night, the energy I felt even as I arrived at camp. Hmmm, is it possible that I am finally adapting? Finally getting stronger? I say a prayer of thanks, trying not to count my blessing before they are fully hatched!
Somewhere on top of something I encounter two chaps breaking camp.
“Good morning!” I call.
“ Hey, good morning!” They reply. Bandaid and Jailbreak. Two fellow northwesters, from Vancouver and Portland. They are looking forward to being in snow! More encouragement
My chosen point for a break is a creek about 15 miles from my start point. I get there and realize I have miscalculated. It was more like 17 miles! I have only about 8 left. This is a good sign, another possible sign that I may be gaining strength. I have previously been more likely to be dismayed that my destination is still so far.
Resting at the creek I meet Craig from San Francisco, Jailbreak and Bandaid arrive and One Gallon shows up with two young people, dressed identically, spotless burgundy shirts and black shorts. They both have British accents, to my untrained ear. They look, for all the world, to part of an international PCT team, but they only met on the trail yesterday.
I leave this large and pleasant group for the last push to Kennedy Meadows. The going is again loose sand as I parallel the Kern River. I worry about the meet up with David as the miles melt under my feet. There is no cell coverage here. There is no cell coverage at the campground. If David has no cell coverage he cannot see my tracks and will not know my arrival time. There is some cell coverage at the Kennedy Meadows store but that is on a spur trail miles from the campground. We had agreed I would not take any spur trails, but stay on the PCT. Okay, worst case I would go to the campground find the trailer and wait there for David.
About a half mile before the road crossing there is David! With an almost cold lemon lime Gatorade!!!
We go to the store buy a toothbrush to clean ( or try) to clean my nails LOL. We stop by Grumpy Bears and then to the campground.
One thing that amazes us is the number of PCT hikers here!! All the hours I spend alone on the trail and this small town of 200 ( no joke) is overrun with us!
Tomorrow is all about planning and completely regearing.
The Sierras require, of course different clothing, spikes, ice axe, warmer sleeping, and bear canisters. I will also use a more powerful stove. I love my solid fuel esbit for its lightweight efficiency but I will want more BTUs in snow conditions.
The other concern is that this Sierra trip will be my longest with no contact. 1.5 days to Lone Pine with a quick resupply and then, possibly 7 days with no contact or resupply. Hmmm.
It is the Lord your God who goes before you. He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be discouraged and do not be afraid.
.. and do take spare tracker batteries!!