Day 51: Kennedy Meadows

Today is a dream. It is a possibility. It is a thought. It is all of my imaginings turned reality.

I have known, deep in my bones, if I can just get to Kennedy Meadows, the birthplace of the Sierras (for Pacific Crest Trail hikers), I can get to Canada. The mountains are my home, and I knew if I could just reach them, I would be powered through the end.

So here I am, at the start of my long awaited lofty range. My dream is realized. 

 Today was a slog for me — aching knees and burning rocky sand and blisters and blisters. This section has been a bitter pill to swallow, feeling like a huge test before I get to my place of joy. I have been crushed a little, my spirit has flagged. I have wondered if this is the path, or if I have wandered astray (metaphorically — the trail is perfect and easy to follow).

But today, we walked through the foothills to reach Kennedy Meadows. In a mere four days, I will be on Mount Whitney, hopefully standing on top of the tallest peak in the lower 48. Today I am in the Sierras.

Our 18 mile journey here today took us wiggling along hillsides, down and down and down into a meadow, a valley nestled at the bottom of hills all around. Or are they mountains? I can never tell. Granite was thrown up all around us, towering tall, stretching even higher, trying to reach the clouds. 

 And there were clouds! For my entire trip, clouds have only been dark, horrible mean things striking fear in our hearts and covering the sky with blackness. Here, today, they were happy clouds, floating above our heads as if right out of a movie.

Four miles before Kennedy Meadows was a beautiful river. The Kern River, we had read on the app, wondering what it would mean. Our guidebook told us it was the most water we would have seen on our trip so far. And it was! It was fat and merry, bubbling along at a lovely clip. It was so deep I could stand up to the hem of my skirt, sit in up to my chest, and flop my body in all the way, which I did, happily and quickly. It was so cold it hurt. It was the Sierras.

And then we found a house, a no trespassing sign complete with barbed wire, and a road. Up the road was a small store. 

As we walked up to the ramshackle little store, a great cheer erupted.

“Wahoo!!!!” They yelled. Whistles, claps, screams came upon us, more people than we had seen in forever, more love than I could stand.

Tears welled up in my eyes.

We had arrived.