Climbing up from Tehachapi was a breezy cold day. We had gotten an unexpected zero in Tehachapi so the legs were fresh and ready to go with new shoes to boot. I was excited to be leaving the Mojave, although it and I would have another meeting about 3 days later. It was probably 30 degrees with 40 mph winds so the climb made me feel as if I was on a mountaineering trip. Eventually the ridge flattened and found its way to the first of a series of springs that would keep us alive the next several days, funny enough, although we had entered the Sierra Nevada Mountains this was supposed to be one of the driest sections of trail.
That first day we went further than expected and that would set the pattern for the next several days. Each day we would make it a bit further than we thought we would. We would cover a bit more ground cause of a need of water or a lack of shade or whatever other reasons. On the third day out we covered 31.5 miles with a 20 mile water carry and some decent elevation gain. That day ended with us at Walker Pass, an odd boundary between the Sierras and the Mojave, this place where the two meet in an almost perfect mix.
I had been to Walker Pass once before, it was a wholly different affair this time. The last time the mood of the hikers was somber, it was early season and many were contemplating flipping north cause of high snow in the High Sierra. This time it was celebratory, we were exiting the desert, there was nothing holding us back from the mountains. There were 5 different trail angels that day doing magic, I had more beer, pizza and snacks than I had had in the last 400 miles. It was a good day to end my biggest day ever to this point and also one of my driest days.
The next two days we would work our way into and follow a massive bubble the last 50 miles to Kennedy Meadows. Right before the promised land we’d set our eyes on the Kern River for the first time along the trail. It signifies the end of the dry desert and the official start of the High Sierra. I hollard and ran straight into that river when I saw it...
The following days would bring us rest and relaxation in Kennedy Meadows before a want to get out in front of a 100 person strong bubble and a hope to get up into higher elevations to beat the incoming heat wave made us hit the trail again. This would be the start of what I had hiked 700 miles looking forward to. This would be the start of my two and a half weeks traversing the High Sierras.
The PCT stands for the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,653 route extending from Mexico to Canada along the west coast of the United States. Every year several thousands attempt it and only a few hundred finish.