Skip to content

The Gateway to the Sierra – Kennedy Meadows to Bishop

(This blog entry is from my Patreon blog, where you can see my Adventure Blog entries before anywhere else while supporting my trade and craft. Along with early blog posts, Patreon backers also receive access to trail comics, drawings, and videos.)

Originally posted: 7/20/2018. Transcribed from handwritten journal.

July 12th – Thursday – 8 miles hiked – 57.4 total

I made it to an Urgent care yesterday and was given a script of oral steroids for my skin. Overnight I felt a difference; more dry and crusty than puffy and inflamed. So, today we hiked out of Kennedy Meadows.

We left around 12:30 pm, eager to hike, but also a little bummed. We had finally met other hikers (that are pretty cool!) and we didn’t know if we would see them again. Anat, Jenny, Thom, Paul, Skrrts, and Morning Angel. Hopefully, we meet up again. Bones and I went two and a half days without seeing another soul, so it was nice to connect with other hikers.

After we left the sky threatened us with dark clouds and rumbling thunder, but it didn’t rain a drop. I finally got to make my trail pho, and it was SO GOOD, even if the steam hurt my crusty nose and face.

Not all of our food/smellies fit into our bear cans yet, so tonight I hung my first bear bag. It was frustrating at first, but I eventually got it.

Hopefully it’s still there in the morning.


July 13th – Friday – 12.7 miles hiked – 70.2 total

It’s so good to be able to hike all day now. Don’t get me wrong, siestas are enjoyable, but I get so bored. And when I’m bored. .. I pick at my skin, which is the very last thing I should be doing right now.

It rained today! We were at the iconic Kern River “swallows” bridge in Monache Meadows when the sky opened up on us. Bones threw his tent up and we huddled in there a few hours until it calmed down. Looks like we still take the occasional siesta.

We’re camped at roughly 10,000 feet, the highest I’ve ever hiked. I feel okay, though hiking was a bit sluggish. I have my inhaler and Diamox to thank for this. We won’t be back under 9,000 feet for a LONG time.

I’m excited for cooler nights. I’m sick of roasting in my sleeping bag!

July 14th – Saturday – 19.4 miles hiked – 89.6 total

Observation: the Sierra is full of quality sitting rocks. And boy does it feel like we’re in the Sierra now. No expansive fields of snow or granite (yet), but tons of bristlecone pine, green meadows, and towering piles of smooth rock.

It rained again today. I feel like we’ve got the system down now: hike until 12, bunker down, 2 hours of gentle drizzle, then hike until you’re dead. Easy!

Speaking of hiking until you’re dead, we did 19.4 miles today, our longest on this adventure so far. That makes up for our short day out of KM. I don’t feel too bad either. My knee was hurting toward the end, and my feet were getting sore, but it wasn’t unbearable.

The rain has been making all the streams run orange and taste metallic. I’m happy we’re ending our day at Diaz Creek, which is running clear and tastes delicious (read: like nothing).

I got a glimpse of Mt. Whitney today. We’re only 25 miles from the junction.



July 15th – Sunday – 18.8 miles hiked – 108 total

I’m super tired and barely want to write this. Two big mile days in a row, almost 6,000 feet claimed and 6,000 feet dropped. I’m whooped. We’re below 10k tonight, which is nice, but we went as high as 11,500 this afternoon. Phew! Today’s decent to camp (Rock Creek, a formidable fording situation) left my feet swollen and achy. Heavy rains washed out long stretches of trail, filling it with mud and grapefruit sized stones. UHG. MY FEET.

But we passed the 100 Mile marker of our section hike today. We’re a quarter of the way finished with this hike already. I only get to do this three more times?

Tomorrow we have a short day as we’re setting ourselves up for a sunrise summit of Whitney the following morning. I’ve been staring at that mountain all day.



July 16th – Monday – 13.6 hiked – 122 total

…ooooor maybe I won’t do it.

This morning we slept in, assuming we’d have a short 8-mile day to prepare for Whitney. But when Bones awoke he confessed he didn’t have the energy to do it and not enough food for me to do it while we waited at base camp. We looked through our provisions, shared a little, and I accepted that this isn’t my year to take the mountain. My lazy side was relieved. I’m bummed, but the mountain will always be there. Maybe when I attempt the entire PCT again going southbound?

Otherwise, we’re currently 5.4 miles out from Forester Pass, the highest point on the pct at 13,123 feet. Woo. Dang. That’s still heckin high and I’m still gonna be heckin proud of myself.

In other news, I was caught completely off guard by my period.

Good thing I have a third pair of socks :/


July 17th – Tuesday – 13 miles hiked – 135 total

I woke up this morning to Bones insisting we make it to Bishop today. I, of course, refused because there’s no way I’d knock out a 25-mile day on the SAME DAY as Forester Pass. We argued, and eventually settled on ‘let’s see how far we can get.’ Turns out that’s not very far because it took us almost 5 hours to get from camp to Forester. We were super tired and just plain beat. We were also the only hikers up there at that moment.

On the way down the trail was rocky and unsteady, and I was so tired that I suddenly fell. Tripped? Don’t know. I’m fine though, only skinned my knees. Forever later we finally got lunch and I felt human again, but it was already 3 pm. We decided I was a tent site a few miles down so we could actually get to camp early for once.

On the way, I rained and hailed. A Sierra trip wouldn’t be complete without some hail.

At camp I did bear can laundry so when I finally get to the trailhead tomorrow, our ride won’t regret picking us up.


July 20th – Friday – Bishop, CA

So we ended up getting up really early and hiking out over Kearsarge Pass. Up 1,500 feet and then down 3,000 to the Onion Valley Trailhead by noon, and got a ride down to Independence, CA. After filling up on convenience store junk food and sugar water we stuck out our thumb and hitched 40 minutes north to Bishop, the largest town in the county (all of 3,000 people).

My first impression of the town was pretty sour, as we went to McDonald’s and I wanted nothing more than some soft serve ice cream. Their machine was broken down. I stuttered and fumbled at the counter after being informed the bad news, and simply ordered fries.

Things got better though. We found a decently priced room at a motel across town, and I welcomed the hot water and soft bed. I didn’t care that we were put into an unremodeled room, half finished with loose outlets and a burnt light shade. Who cares. There are no bugs. This time last year we checked into a motel in Medford and found not only ants but roaches. We got a refund and were out of there in less than an hour.

Anyway. We got three nights here and have spent them relaxing and healing our nasty sunburns. UV rays are stronger at high elevations, and we both have crescent-shaped brown sunburns on the back of our neck. I raided a hiker box at the hostel and found a new, larger sit pad and a new cap for my water filter. I couldn’t find any replacements for my shoes so I guess I’m stuck with these slightly too small shoes for another hundred miles. Now we gotta figure out how to fit all of this food into our bear cans…

The next hundred miles to Mammoth is steeper and full of more passes and dangerous river crossings than the last hundred miles, but in 80ish miles, there is a resort I can take a pit stop at if necessary. I’m technically only carrying 80 miles worth of food and am hoping to refill out of the Hiker Boxes at the resort (it’s a resupply stop for JMT hikers, and they reportedly dump lots of extra food in these boxes).

We’ll be trying to get out of here in the morning somehow. More thumbing, and doing all the things my parents probably hoped I wouldn’t do. Accepting rides from strangers, y’know.