United States
Kennedy Meadows

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    • Day 34

      Dag 31, Kennedy Meadows

      May 29, 2022 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

      Kennedy freaking Meadows man!

      KM is een iconische stop op de PCT, het markeert het eind van de woestijn en begin van de Sierra. Zand en hitte wordt ingeruild voor hoogte en sneeuw.

      Rond 10:00 uur kom ik aan bij de general store en word ontvangen met luid applaus en gejoel (wat niet enkel hij mij het geval is, elke wandelaar word zo ontvangen). Ik heb mijn nieuwe schoenen, sokken en microspikes hier gestuurd. Ik pik mijn spullen op in de store, koop een cola en schuif aan op het dek bij mijn ‘collega’s’.

      Ik heb afgelopen dagen mijn logistiek voor de Sierra uitgedacht en ik wil even polsen wat de rest doet. Voor de Sierra is het wat anders dan het voorgaande gedeelte, er zijn nauwelijks dorpen in de buurt van het pad en bevoorrading is dus moeilijker. Er zijn tig opties om door deze sectie te komen, maar geen makkelijke of meest voor de hand liggende. Nu is water geen probleem meer maar wordt eten een ‘uitdaging’. Blijkbaar is mijn aanpak compleet anders dan hoe het gros van de wandelaars het wil gaan doen, waarom ben ik niet verbaasd? Ik ben niet overtuigd dat de meest gebruikelijke aanpak de beste is, ik blijf bij mijn gekozen strategie.

      Om 12:00 is er een ‘busje’ die wat verderop het dorp in gaat naar Grumpy Bear Retreat. Het is een bar/restaurant waar tevens gekampeerd kan worden. Douches en wasmachine zijn gratis. Ik bestel wat lunch, zet mijn tent op, ga in de douche en was mijn kleren. Bijna klaar om weer terug te keren op de PCT.

      Eerst nog een stop bij de buurman, een outdoor winkeltje waar ik mijn bear can al gehuurd heb en waar ik nog wat eten koop voor de volgende kilometers. In dit gedeelte is een bear can verplicht, wat in mijn geval een luchtdichte pot is waar een beer als het goed is niet in kan. Morgen maar eens kijken hoe ik dat in mijn tas krijg.

      De rest van de dag breng ik door op het terras bij de bar, ontmoet weer een zooi nieuwe mensen. Verhalen en bier wordt gedeeld. Prima semi rustdag, maar ik wil zo graag verder, ik kijk zo uit naar uit volgende deel. De Sierra! De reden dat de PCT überhaupt ooit op mijn radar is gekomen.

      Ik wil nog even vermelden dat er waarschijnlijk geen bereik is in de Sierra, dus verwacht aub geen dagelijkse updates. Zodra ik in een dorp kom probeer ik ze zsm eruit te krijgen, maar ook het aantal dorpen is beperkt. Er kan zomaar eens een week tussen updates zitten, maak je geen zorgen, ze komen!
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    • Day 78

      Kennedy Meadows Tag 2

      May 26, 2023 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

      Liebes Tagebuch, ja was gibt's zu erzählen. Heute haben wir versucht zu entspannen, was dann aber doch immer nicht so gut klappt wie man das möchte. Duschen, Wäsche waschen, planen wie es weiter geht, neue Menschen kennen lernen. Für mich ist das schnell überfordernd. Aber da wir ja nun ein paar Tage hier bleiben, ist auch Zeit sich ein bisschen einzuleben.
      Erstmal gab es ein Frühstück mit einem Pancake, fast so groß wie der Mond. Während des Tages treffen immer wieder neue hiker ein, für die jedesmal heftig applaudiert wird. Wir trafen Popcorn wieder, einen älteren Herren, den wir damals um Big Bear kennen gelernt haben. Es war schön ihn wieder zu sehen. Bei Milkshakes und Bier tauschten wir uns über unsere Erlebnisse aus.
      Was mir sehr gut gefällt, ist die Musik, die an fast jedem Hiker Stopp läuft. Genau wie ich mir das vorgestellt habe. Creedance clearwater, Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits und was da eben noch so zugehört.
      Abends machte ich mich daran, ein Lagerfeuer zu starten. Nach und nach kamen mehr Hiker dazu.
      Wir fingen an, uns in der Runde vorzustellen. Jeder und jede erzählte von ihren Höhen und Tiefen auf dem PCT. Es war ziemlich spannend die verschiedenen Menschen zu hören, mit ihren Erlebnissen. Lauren wurde von einer Black Widow (schwarzen Witwe) gebissen. Sie erzählte von heftigen Symptomen, weil sie jedoch nicht krankenversichert ist, entschied sie sich gegen ärztliche Versorgung. Zum Glück hat sie es auch ohne überstanden... sowas kann zu Organschäden führen..
      Ein Mann aus China erzählte seine ganze Lebens Geschichte und warum er hier ist, auf dem PCT und in den USA: Wegen der Freiheit zu denken und sich zu äußern, was er aus seinem Heimatland leider nicht kennt.
      Den Abschluss machte jemand, der noch mal verdeutlicht hat, wie privilegiert wir alle sind, überhaupt so eine Wanderung machen zu können. Da hat er absolut recht.
      Es war ein sehr besonderer Abend hier am Lagerfeuer, in Kennedy Meadows, am Ende der Wüste.
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    • Day 79

      Pläne schmieden

      May 27, 2023 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

      Liebes Tagebuch. Heute haben wir große Pläne gemacht. Aber vorher wurde ich um halb sieben in meinem Zelt von der Sonne gekocht. Die Nacht war angenehm kühl.
      Zum Frühstück gab es die Reste des Vortages - Pancakes. Danach holten wir unsere Box mit Essen, die Trailangel Jay netterweise mit seinem Cabrio hier abgeladen hatte, beim General Store ab. Gefolgt von einem wilden Sortieren und Verpacken der Nahrung für die nächsten fünf Tage. Berichten zur Folge von Leuten die vor uns in die Sierra gegangen sind wären die 50 Meilen bis Lone Pine zwar anstrengend und zu 80% im Schnee, aber ohne gefährlich Traversen und so. Das gucken wir uns mal an. Aber klar ist, nach Lone Pine wird es zu krass für uns. Trotzdem muss geplant werden und eine Gruppe gebildet werden. Treffen um kurz nach zwölf im Grumpy Bear. Naja, ihr kennt das. Zehn Leute an einem Tisch und jeder ist halt unterschiedlich. Irgendwann steht grob fest wie wir es angehen wollen und wo wir uns zum campen treffen. Logischerweise werden Pläne nochmal gekippt. Nach ein wenig hin und her hieß es nochmal treffen um 19 Uhr. Uff, wie auf der Arbeit. Am Ende haben wir zwei Gruppen mit je mind. 5 Leuten. Auch gut. Das heißt für uns: Montag geht es los. Nebenbei auch immer mal wieder die Wetterlage beobachten, letztendlich soll das Ganze ja noch irgendwie spass machen.
      Zwischendurch hatte ich das Glück die Toilette zu benutzen. Es gibt nämlich nur eine für die ca. 50 Personen... überraschenderweise ist sie blitzeblank. Was gibts noch zu erzählen? Das übliche. Burger essen. Beim Outfitter Geld lassen. Mich immer noch um den Garantiefall bei meinem Zelt kümmern. Bier trinken. Quatschen. Lagerfeuer machen. Sowas halt. Zum Abschluss des Tages gibt es Karaoke und dann gibt der Mitarbeiter vom General Store, welcher in einem Zelt im Garten wohnt, völlig bekifft und besoffen einen Cash Song zum Besten. Well done.
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    • Day 83

      Backtrack

      May 31, 2023 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

      Liebes Tagebuch. Der vorherige Tag war ganz besonders und heute morgen habe ich tatsächlich mal ausgeschlafen. Wir haben auch keinen Zeitdruck. Die 12 Meilen zurück nach Kennedy Meadows kennen wir ja bereits und es geht nur bergab. Also erstmal gemütlich am Schmelzwasserbach frühstücken. Wenn man so da sitzt hat man immer die Hoffnung irgendwo am Waldrand einen Bären zu sichten. Oder, dass er plötzlich hinter einem auftaucht. Zweites muss nicht unbedingt sein. Dann gehts ans einpacken. Auch alles ganz gemütlich. Es ist vermutlich nach zehn, als wir losgehen. Wir steigen ins Tal ab. Dabei verunsichern wir uns entgegenkommende Hiker, wenn wir erzählen, dass wir zurück gehen. Wir werden von allen nach den "conditions" gefragt. Man merkt wie nervös alle sind. Wir treffen auch das ein oder andere bekannte Gesicht dabei. Und dann treffen wir Matt, während er eine Pinkelpause einlegt. Er ist ziemlich aufgeregt, nicht weil wir in überrascht haben, sondern weil er seinen Cousin vermisst. Sie hatten sich vor zwei Tagen auf dem Weg verloren und nun hatte er Angst, dass er Off Trail dahin wandert oder ihm was passiert ist. Natürlich hat er keinen GPS Sender dabei. Er zeigt uns ein Foto. Leider können wir ihm nicht direkt helfen, aber wir können eine Nachricht über unser GPS an Propeller und Crispy senden, die Richtung Lone Pine unterwegs sind. Dann zieht er weiter. An einem Bach machen wir Pause, als es im Gebüsch plötzlich mächtig raschelt. Es ist Sasquatch, der seinem Namen alle Ehre macht. Ihn hatten wir das letzten Mal mehrere hundert Meilen weiter südlich getroffen. Er meinte er hat versucht trockenen Fußes über den Bach zu kommen. Zwei Meter weiter liegen Baumstämme und Steine im Bachbett. Nevermind. Nebenbei kommt noch Impala vorbei. Dann zieht sie weiter. Wir auch. Es dauert nicht lange bis wir Martin treffen, der sich total erschreckt, weil er uns weiter nördlich vermutet hatte. Er hat uns für eine Erscheinung gehalten, da er kurz vorher seine Haschpfeife geraucht hatte. Es ist irgendwie auch bewundernswert wie er es schafft den ganzen Tag völlig breit zu wandern, während der Stereotype Kiffer schon längst eins mit der Couch geworden wäre. Wir können ihn überzeugen, dass wir echt sind. Erneutes Abschied nehmen von einem guten Menschen. Dann zieht er weiter. Links und rechts von uns bilden sich derweil dicke schwarze Wolken. Richtung Süden regnen sie sich bereits am Berg ab. Sie ziehen weiter. Bis wir den Campground erreichen, wo wir vor zwei Tagen geschlafen hatten. Es donnert. Aber nur kurz. Wir entschließen uns vom Campground die "Straße" zu nehmen, die parallel zum PCT verläuft bevor sie scharf links abbiegt und dann direkt zum General Store führt. Auf den Trail sehen wir eine Gruppe Hiker, die vermutlich gerade abwägt, ob es Sinn macht in die Regenfront, die sich nähert, hinein zu laufen. Sie ziehen nicht weiter und drehen um. Es fängt an zu tröpfeln, als wir unser Ziel erreichen. Komisch wieder hier zu sein. Ohne einen konkreten Plan wie es weiter gehen kann. Ich merke, dass diese Ungewissheit Phoenix ganz schön zu schaffen macht. Also Internet geiern. Wir wollen irgendwie über Ridgecrest, Mojave und Bakersfield Richtung Oregon und ein paar schöne Tage verbringen, während der Schnee dort und in Washington fröhlich vor sich hinschmilzt. Eine Fahrt nach Ridgecrest mit einem Trail Angel ist flott organisiert. Von da geht es wohl mit Bus und Bahn weiter. Ok. Erneut frag ich mich wann wir mal einfach wandern können wie in anderen Jahren auch. Dieses hin und her kostet einfach viel Nerven und sehr viel Geld. Es ist Zeit fürs Abendessen. Wir haben uns in eine Liste fürs Dinner eingetragen. Es gibt Lasagne und grüne Bohnen. Eine willkommene Abwechslung im Speiseplan. Leider entsprechen die Portionen nicht unserem Hunger. Ein Pott Ben & Jerrys gibts als Dessert.
      Plötzlich kommt Matt zu uns. Er hat Neuigkeiten von seinem Cousin. Er wurde wohl von ein paar Hikern gesehen. Er ist sichtlich erleichtert und fängt plötzlich an deutsch zu sprechen.
      Neben ganzen Neuankömmlingen sind auch viele Gesichter vor Ort, die schon hier waren, als wir das erste Mal hier gelandet sind. Vortex. Sie sind auch noch nicht weiter gezogen. Planlos.
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    • Day 54

      PCT 2023 - Day 44

      June 7, 2023 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

      The one with the codgers, Kennedy Meadows and good times.

      📍 Location: Kennedy Meadows
      💰 Money: $30 on food.

      THE STORY SO FAR:-

      💤 5am - Walker Pass Campground - I must admit, I didn’t sleep brilliantly last night as I was parked on a slight slope and kept slipping down the airmat which resulted in my feet scrunched up against the seat. Note to self, park on the flat and swap your head to the other end for tonight! I’m wide awake and would love to just pack up and get going, but I promised to give some hikers a ride into Ridgecrest this morning at 6.30am. Let the “pottering” commence. There is no toilet roll in the pit toilets here, so I take two rolls from the pack of 32 that I purchased yesterday and made my way to the loos. I left one roll in each toilet and then used it myself. These pit toilets seem to be the norm at US campsites. They are relatively clean (much better than UK portaloos!).

      🦷 I then brush my teeth and pack up the van slowly. I’m waiting patiently for the hikers and they all join me around 6.25am looking worse than me! That rain last night and the howling wind made for a restless night for us all. They clamber in and then I’m off. I start with the chit chat but none of them are really talking to me. They just see me as a driver and not a hiker which made me a bit sad. They all continued chatting with each other and planning their next move. I drop them at Walmart and say goodbye. One guy said thanks and the rest just walked off. They didn’t offer any compensation for the ride (not that I was expecting any) but it’s just polite to offer. Well, that’s the first group of hikers that I’ve met in over 600 miles that I really didn’t warm too.

      🏔️ It’s now nearly 7am. I drive to Motel 6 and Bloom is waiting for me. I then drive to American Inn Suites where I collect Disco Daddy and Miles. This is more like it! The chatter is high and the nerves are kicking in for these three. There is a big black cloud in the mountains and they discuss the weather and waterproof clothes. It’s going to be a challenge, that’s for sure!

      👋 We reach Walker Pass and all three hand me $20 each for fuel. I refused to take it, but they insist that I use the money to pay it forward for other hikers (which I will). I hug them all and with a lump in my throat I wave them goodbye. “See you in Kennedy Meadows” I yell as they walk away waving.

      🚗 That’s it! Most of my trail family are now on the last section to the famous Kennedy Meadows. I get back in the car. Next stop for me is KM and I’m actually quite excited!

      👍 The sky is dark and it’s raining quite hard. My thoughts go to everyone who is on that last section of the trail. I hope they are ok and not too miserable. It’s an hours drive (or 3 days of walking!) from Walker Pass and I’m cruising along at a steady 65mph. It’s not long before I turn off the main interstate and head up into the mountains. I see that my phone has 5G so I pull over and decide to check Facebook. By now, day 40 has been published which tells the world that I’m off trail. I hesitate as I click the Facebook icon. I had this gut wrenching feeling that not only had I let myself down, but also the people who have been following me on this journey. I could feel the disappointment ooze through my fingertips as I tapped the notification tab. Sitting in my car, at the side of the road, the thoughts going through my head were so far away from reality. The comments and messages were so kind and full of admiration of what I had achieved, rather than what I hadn’t achieved. I couldn’t read all of them at first through the tears. I had a good cry and decided that it was time to change gear. I have a week left so let’s make the most of it.

      🪨 The mountain pass road is quite spectacular but I can’t stop to take photos as I’m busy dodging rocks on the road. The mini van is screaming at me during some sections and I miss having a manual gear box right now. I’m driving about 25 mph and some guy overtakes me in a Jeep! He must be a local as I soon see his little white car way up on the pass. Switchback after switchback (it’s like being on the trail again!). I see a sign “Kennedy Meadows, 13 miles. Elevation 6742ft. So that’s why my ears are popping!

      👋 I’m greeted by a “Welcome To Kennedy Meadows Community Sign” and I see the famous Grumpy Bear Cafe. I pull into the drive and then make my way inside. It’s full of hikers and I scour the place to see if I recognise anyone. I don’t see a soul that I know which is disappointing. Sitting at the bar, on my own, feeling rather deflated I wonder to myself “where do they do the clapping?”. I’m sipping a hot coffee when I see two familiar faces walk through the door. Is that really them? I think to myself? Yes!! I think it is! It’s The Codgers (David and Joe) from YouTube. They have a huge following and before I left the UK I devoured each of their videos to see what the trail was like. They are both retired but blimey, they know how to hike. I didn’t want look like a fan girl so I kept quiet. The place was busy and there were no seats left apart from the two chairs next to me at the bar. They made their way over and sat down next to me, drinking coffee. David said hi and that was my excuse to start a conversation. Wow! They started in early March and had reached Kennedy Meadows before getting off trail for four weeks to let the snow melt in the Sierras. They are hiking out tomorrow. Puzzled I said “do you know where they do the famous clapping in of hikers?”. Joe said “it’s down at the general store, about 2 miles down the road. We are heading down there shortly, when the shuttle arrives. They had 16 people in that shuttle yesterday and it only seats six!”. I had finished my coffee so asked “do you want a ride to the store? I’m heading that way”. They thanked me and we all took the short drive down the road to the general store. I actually have The Codgers in my car! Cool! They also let me take their photo and they are now in my little book.

      📸 We arrive at the main store and now I recognise it from all the photos and videos that I’ve seen. This is a very special place and it has a great vibe. I see some people that I know but none of my trail family, until Joey comes around the corner. “Jukebox” he says and gives me a hug. Maddie is here as well which is lovely.

      👏 👏 Suddenly our conversation is interrupted but a loud whoop and clapping. I’m guessing that hikers are walking in. Yep, two people that I don’t recognise are waving and taking a bow. People rush to hug them (must be trail family) and it’s just a fantastic atmosphere. This happens throughout the day as hikers make their way to the general store.

      🥾 Then I see two familiar bodies coming up the trail. I well up with pride as Amber and Harry (The Royals) are smiling and waving to the huge round of applause that they are greeted with. I run down the steps and give Amber the biggest hug. “Bloody hell, you two have done some miles to get here today!”. Amber was the first to say “49 miles in two days and it was hell. She then showed me photos of a blow down trees that they had to climb with her sticking her fingers up at them!” Lol

      🍺 They put their packs down and grabbed a beer. It was so good to see them both. Over the course of the evening more people arrived. People that I had given trail magic too which was great.

      😞 We are a bit confused as there is one small group of within our trail family who were ahead of Amber & Harry but had not yet arrived at Kennedy Meadows (and The Royals hadn’t seen them on trail either). That group was Handyman, Charmer, Chill, Kodak and Flamingo. They left the day before the Royals and they are fast hikers so we are all a bit concerned. Where are no they? They should be here by now!!

      🌙 It’s now 7.30pm and the youngsters are getting loud as they consume more beers. I say goodnight to Joey, Maddie, The Codgers and The Royals and head to my van. I spend a bit more time sorting out my sleeping kit and I’m parked on a super flat section of the car park. I clean my teeth, put on my Jim jams and snuggle up into my quilt. I propped my phone up and watched a film about Nike and Michael Jordan (Air) and by the time it was over the rowdiness from the general store had also died down. At this angle I can see the moon shining brightly and the stars are intense. I love it. I’m toasty warm and it’s not long before sleep takes over.

      Night night and thanks for listening to my rambles.

      Signing off.

      Jukebox
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    • Day 55

      PCT 2023 - Day 45

      June 8, 2023 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 9 °C

      The one with emergency trail magic, a near costly mistake and a sad farewell.

      📍 Location: Kennedy Meadows
      💰 Money: $60 for fuel, $35 for food.

      PART TWO… THE JOURNEY CONTINUES.

      💤 5am - I’m wide awake and I slept really well in my van last night. I could get used to this van life! There is ice on the windows but I am still nice and toasty.

      ☕️ I brew a coffee and make some chocolate Quaker Oats using my little stove. I get dressed (I can nearly stand up in the van!) and then hear voices from the store. It’s 6.30am and people are awake and moving around so I decide to mingle and join them. I sit with Joey, Maddie, Amber & Harry and they are all chatting about their plans to move forward. I’d already told Joey (now Toasty) that I wanted to hang around at Kennedy Meadows to see my trail family arrive at this monumental place so had told him and Maddie a few days ago that I couldn’t give them a ride to Ridgecrest. They had arranged a ride with someone else who would take them all the way to Chester, which was a result for them. Amber and Harry were also discussing their next plan. I listened (earwigging) quietly to Amber saying “I don’t want to get in the car with that bloke again. His driving is irrational and he just scares me”. Knowing that Amber nearly lost her life in a car accident a few years ago and had to have her spleen removed, I knew how difficult it was for her to feel uncomfortable in a car with an irresponsible driver. “Was he that bad?” I asked and interrupted their heated conversation. “It was awful said Amber. “I had to sit in his trunk of the car where he slept. His blankets smelled of piss and everything was so disgusting that I didn’t want to touch anything. He drove so fast that I was just praying for it to be over”. Harry said “it wasn’t that bad”. Amber have him one on “those” looks and said “you even had to tell him to slow down”. Harry couldn’t argue with that.

      ❤️ I then had a touch of the selfish guilts. This is my trail family and I have a 7 seater car! I can’t let them go with this guy so I have a change of heart and tell them I’ll give them a ride today, but please can we leave asap so that I can get back here to see Handyman, Kodak and Charmer walk in to Kennedy Meadows. “Are you sure?” Says Amber. I nodded . I thought she was going to squeeze the life out of me with the bear hug that she gave me. Bless, they paid for my breakfast as we all tucked in to blueberry pancakes, sausage patties, hashbrowns and scrambled eggs. (I need to slow this eating lark down now that I’m no longer hiking!).

      🚗 An hour later, I have four Brits in the car. Me, Amber & Harry & a guy called Steve. We are off to Ridgecrest which is just over an hour away.

      🙏 The Royals (Amber & Harry) order a car from Avis and then I drop them at Motel 6. Saying goodbye to Amber and Harry was emotional for me. I met them both at mile marker one and Amber did the Chandler dance with me. What a journey we have had together. I’m looking forward to following them both on social media to see how their journey pans out. They are two very special people.

      Steve heads off to The Half Mile Cafe making plans for his next step. I hug them all goodbye and they each give me some cash for fuel. Fuel!! Do I need fuel? I look at dashboard and I have just under half a tank. I’ll fill up here, whilst I’m in Ridgecrest and that should hopefully last me for a few days.

      ⛽️ I pull up to the Shell Garage. I put my card in and it says “begin to fuel”. I grab the green hose but it won’t fit in the petrol hole in the car. I’m super confused. I keep trying but it’s just not working. I must have looked a bit frustrated as a soldier pulled up next to me and said “hello ma’am, are you ok?”. I told him that I don’t understand why the nozzle doesn’t fit my car? “You have a regular unleaded vehicle ma’am, not a diesel” he said. “Oh! So green is diesel?” I ask, looking for reassurance. “It sure is. You need the black hose ma’am “. The labelling was weird but I put the green hose back and picked up the black one and it fitted straight away. Phew! $60 later and I’m good to go.
      Lesson learned… in the US the fuel colours are the opposite way around!

      🍺 Fully fuelled, I now drive an hour or so back to Kennedy Meadows. Loads of people are here and they all clap for me as I walk up the steps as if I’ve just arrived as a hiker. 😂 that made me smile. TourGuide, Handyman, Charmer, Sketch, Chill, M&M. Brad (now SilverFox) and others. These are my people. High fives all around and they already have purchased packs of beer to celebrate.

      📸 The afternoon is similar to yesterday. I’m now filling up my little ThruNote book with photos of people that I don’t want to forget. I meet more new people and geek out with a French guy called Fred and his wife Lilly. I say “geek out” but he is into technology and we chat about drones, Osmo pocket cameras, Insta360’s and much more. He loves my little Polaroid printer and takes a photo of it. I also spend quite a bit of time chatting to Mike who I met yesterday. He is such an interesting character. I’m my book he wrote “Flow” - Don’t push the river, it flows by itself. I love this. In life, our best days are when we simply let the journey unfold.

      🔊 As the day turns to dusk the youngsters are playing garden Jenga and it’s getting very loud. I think the beer is flowing well. Handyman & crew have gone to camp at a Grumpy Bears where they are planning a karaoke night. It’s gonna be messy!

      🍷 I’m chilled with a glass of white wine and listening to their pure happiness. I’m tired, so say goodnight to everyone and retire to my van.

      😴 I slip into my Jim jams, load a film “The Tender Bar” but I don’t watch it all as my eyes are heavy and I’m struggling to stay awake. I can watch the rest tomorrow.

      Night night everyone. Thanks, as always for listening to my rambles.

      Signing out.

      Jukebox
      Xx
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    • Day 56

      PCT 2023 - Day 46

      June 9, 2023 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

      The one with the emotional tap, nail polish and being followed.

      📍 Location: ended up in Santa Clarita (miles from the PCT!).
      💰 Money: Another $60 on fuel and $10 on a Subway.
      🛌 Sleep: Slept well in the van last night. I love looking at the stars through the window. I need to keep a window open though as condensation was bad this morning.

      THE STORY SO FAR..

      🛌 Woke up to a leak in the van! Everything was wet. One of the water bottles had somehow sprung a leak and the carpet in the van was sopping wet (good job I’m sleeping on my air mat as I was dry as a bone!). I take my time and get everything out of the van and lay it out in the morning sunshine. I open all the doors and leave the van to dry which won’t take long. It’s already getting warm.

      ✌️ An emotional goodbye to four hikers as they head out into the Sierras. Quite a few people are taking up the challenge and I admire their decision. They all have their ice axes and bear canisters strapped to their packs. I wonder how the Codgers are getting on?

      🍳 I order blueberry pancakes with bacon (I miss proper UK bacon!). It takes over 1.5hrs before I’m eating the pancakes but I’m in no hurry.

      🙌 10.32am - OMG! A big surge of emotion wells inside of me as one person starts clapping and then a roar of applause. I see a bright yellow shirt and a long grey beard walk into the car park. It’s my good friend Disco. Closely followed by the man who knows his beer…. The wonderful Miles. I try filming but all I want to do is hug them both. I run down the drive and embrace them, high fives all the way. I’m so proud of these guys. They are both grinning from ear to ear and there is a tear in Discos eyes. I can see that this means a lot to him as well. Miles tells me that Bloom is not far behind. She should be here by lunchtime as he saw her this morning and she’s only 9 miles away.

      👏 👏 11.42am - Here she is! It’s Bloom! This time I didn’t even try to record. I just leapt up from my chair and ran down the steps to greet my good friend Bloom. I know the elevation was tough on this last section and she would have gritted her teeth to get through it. Bloom is one strong lady with the determination of an ox and a heart of gold. She did it! 702 miles and she’s here at Kennedy Meadows. We embrace and I lead her to the table where everyone is sitting. I sit listening to their tales of the trail from the last few days. I’m so happy for them and I’m so glad that I’m here to see them in.

      🖐️ 13.02 - After a sit down and a rest, I take Disco, Bloom and SilverFox (Brad) up to TCO (Triple Crown Outfitters). It’s next to Grumpy Bears Cafe and is about 2 miles Ip the road. I’ve been giving roses back and forth to here for the last few days. While Bloom and Disco are inside collecting bear canisters and looking for new shoes, Brad and Miles join some other hikers on the picnic table outside and have their nails painted. Yep! It’s hilarious as the very manly Brad (SilverFox) has one hand painted Silver and the other painted blue. As he poses for a photo he looks at me and says “I’ve not had my nails painted since the kids were small!”. Miles (who is 26 years old) has a blue colour on his. He laughs and says “what happens on trail, stays on trail!” Disco emerges from the store and sees the boxes of different coloured nail polish. He can’t resist and sits down to paint his nails with a mix of blue and yellow, to match his shirt! The only person not to paint their nails is Bloom.

      1.35pm - Everyone masked their way over to Grumpys for something to eat. I’m still stuffed from the pancakes so I tell them I’ll join them in a bit and I sit in the car to update my blogs. I had no intention to continue writing but I’m glad I’m doing this now as these stories are also part of the journey. I’ve updated the last two days and as I get out the car Miles comes running over. “They are still eating inside. Have I got time to touch up my nails as this one is scratched” he said, holding up a finger. I smiled and said “no worries”, see you in a while. He runs back to TCO in search of the blue nail polish. 😂

      🚗 3pm - It’s road trip time! After something to eat at Grumpy Bears we all make room for one more little hiker… Sketch! We now have me driving, Bloom, Disco, Brad (SilverFox) Miles & Sketch (yes, they all have seats and seatbelts!). Bakersfield… here we come!

      ❤️ 4pm - I’m enjoying this road trip. The chatter is non stop and we all sing along to Tainted Love in loud voices. We reminisce about the trail as we drive back through places we recognise such as Tehachapi and the wind turbine farms. For me, this is the perfect way to say goodbye to people I care about.

      😘 6pm - We arrive in Bakersfield and I pull into the car park of The Best Western. Everyone is staying here so it makes life a bit easier. Im crap at goodbyes and I can feel my eyes welling as Disco gives me the biggest hug. I’ve walked with this crazy dude since day one and it’s hard to say goodbye. He is writing a daily blog so I’ll follow his journey onwards with enthusiasm. “You take care” I say with a lump in my throat. “See you on Facebook. And perhaps we can meet up when you are on a Camino next year!” He says with a smile. I can see he’s also a bit emotional. “That would be amazing” I reply.
      Miles gives me a quick hug (he’s not an overly huggy person) so I’m privileged to receive one from him. Then Brad and Sketch do the same. Sketch is such a kind and gentle guy. A mere youngster who loves to sketch characters in his little book (hence his trail name). He’s sketched a little character in my photo book which is a nice keep sake for me.
      I follow Bloom to her room. She is letting me have a quick shower and a coffee before I head back out on the road. Needless to say, Bloom has been a special walking partner on this trip and saying goodbye was tough. She’s from the UK and lives in London so we agree to meet up when she is home. As I walk away from the hotel, back to the car, I have a feeling of emptiness. Everyone else is planning the next stage of their journey and I’m now heading back towards the airport. I have a bit of a heavy heart.

      🌙 My plan is to drive to the La aqueduct and meet hikers who are night hiking the section. A bit like Mr President did for us but without the pizza. It’s a good hours drive from Bakersfield, but that’s ok. I’m in no rush.

      🛻 8.14pm - I’m going to be honest here, tonight I was a bit scared. As I drive out of Bakersfield (a very large town) I took the interstate 5 for over an hour. I stopped at a petrol station and grabbed a Subway and then carried on. As I got nearer to the Aqueduct where I had planned to do some night trail angeling, an old truck followed me for over 5 miles with his headlights shining in my eyes via my mirror. I slowed down to 45mph and he still didn’t overtake me. These roads are long and there were no restrictions so I’m not sure what he was playing at. He had plenty of opportunities to overtake but instead he stayed right up my rear end and it was very intimidating. Eventually, I pulled over into a lay-by and thankfully he just continued driving. I was spooked enough to think that doing trail magic, on country roads in the middle of nowhere at night was perhaps not my smartest move! So I kept driving. I drove by Hiker Town, where everyone was sleeping and no lights were on, so continued in to Lake Hughes. I smiled as I passed the Rock Inn which looked very busy and noisy! and had a row of shiny motorbikes outside. At this point I pulled over to have a think of what I’m going to do.

      Knowing that the fire station is not that far, I decided that I would camp in my van there and I’ll do trail magic from the fire station tomorrow morning. I plugged it into Google and it was another 27 mins away. I’m now very tired and it’s dark but I trudge on.

      🔥 9.25 pm - I’m at the Fire Station but there are no PCT hikers here and it looks like they have some sort of event going on in the station hall. I’m not sure what to do now. I park in a lay-by instead as there are cars in all the spots at the fire station. Each time a car zooms by my van shakes. I get out of the car to have a quick wee and I see a sign “no parking at any time”. Shit! What now?

      🚗 I get back in the driving seat and switch the car on. I just keep driving but I’m now not feeling very confident about staying in my van. It’s gone 10pm and I can feel my eyes are getting scratchy, but I need to concentrate on these winding roads. I have no service on my phone so I have no idea where I’m going, but I keep driving. To keep me awake I lower the window and drink the hot chocolate they I purchased from Subway a few hours ago which is no longer hot.

      💡 10.20 pm - I see lots of lights in the distance. It looks like a big town. At the first convenient place I pull over and check my phone. Yey! I have service.,Ok, I can now see where I am, Santa Clarita. I’ve pulled up outside a country club on a quiet road. In front of me is a family car with a caravan behind. There are also a few other cars here and it’s a lit up area. Do I look to see if there is a hotel in the area or shall I kip here for the night?

      Thanks for listening to my rambles. Phase two of this journey is a whole other adventure!

      Signing out.

      Jukebox
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    • Day 47

      And then the next miracle fluttered by!

      June 24, 2023 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      The Sierras are under a fast melting thick snow cover causing dangerous walking and raging rivers that are tearing down bridges. Only very few mountaineers are daring the next 700kms.
      The big question has been, "where does one jump forward to, and how?
      Routes are complicated and expensive.
      We sat down as a team and worked out a plan with non-stop travelling by bus for 50 hours with 5 changeovers. And then Elisabeth had the idea to look in Facebook. And there was the next miracle, a hiker lady, Ellen, had rented a car to drive the 1200km from Tehachapie to Chester via Kennedy meadows and was looking for hikers to share.
      Once again, "Trail magic"
      Incredible!
      5 hikers plus rucksacks piled into the cr and off we went, first to the legendary "Kennedy meadows" the portal to the Sierras, where we spent the night.
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    • Day 48

      Arrived in Chester, a new chapter begins

      June 25, 2023 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

      We drove 8 hours yesterday.
      Ellen "Wayfinder" (driver) is an experienced hiker and has done the PCT , or parts of it several times.
      As we drove through a landscape changing from desert to verdant green forests it became clear that a totally different trail is waiting for us in northern California, Oregon and Washington.
      Lakes forests and rivers await us, but also mosquitos, bears and mountain lions. Throughout the drive talk was about how to protect yourself from mosquitos, and how to behave when you meet a bear. Food now has to be packed in a bear canister or "ursack" made of bulletproof kevlar, that a bear cannot open.
      As the stories of encounters with bears and Cougars (mountain lions) weave between the hikers in the car, a feeling of unease grows. How am I going to handle these new challenges and fears?
      I suppose, the same way I met my fear of rattle snakes, "just do it!"

      We are staying at a trail angel called Michael in the "pfauhaus". 7 hikers in a tiny room .
      This morning at dawn I am woken by a concert of birds. Yes, the birds that eat the mosquitos that are going to eat me
      Yea, a totally new trail is bout to begin!!!!
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Kennedy Meadows

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