Above My Pay Grade

I’m super happy to hit the trail again, and started back up at Walker Pass. After getting off the bus, there was a small walk up the hill to the trailhead and some trail magic.  Filled up on water and ate my Subway sandwich before heading out.  I had, what some call, town legs, which means they do not want to walk far before getting tired. I chose a cozy little spot between some trees for my campsite only a few miles past the trailhead. It felt great to be back on trail, and I was greeted with an amazing sunset that night! 

Sunset at Walker Pass

The desert landscape looked better than ever. Maybe because I was so excited to be back in it, or maybe because it wasn’t as hot anymore, or maybe it was because I was heading toward the big checkpoint on trail, Kennedy Meadows. Whatever the case it was some easy miles. 

Desert scenery

A couple days in and I ran across a water source that was buzzing with biting flies. Nasty little suckers! I grabbed a liter of water and pretty much ran away. Ended up taking a siesta under a tree after I set my tent up. Just down the path from me I found an amazing pool that was biting fly free! Perfect!! It was a bug free afternoon. 

Biting fly free zone!

On July 3rd I camped next to the Kern river around 6 miles away from Kennedy Meadows. I could have gone all the way in but I wanted to get there in the early morning not the evening. As I set up my tent I smelled a campfire. I looked to my west and realized it wasn’t a campfire but a forest fire. It made for some great photos, but not knowing much about forest fires, besides what I’ve seen on tv, I was a bit concerned. I settled down for the night, but awoke several times thinking about that fire. 

Forest fire near Kennedy Meadowd

I awoke the next morning, not so much refreshed as excited to get to Kennedy Meadows. In the late morning I reached mile 700! 


Kennedy Meadows is mile 704. Only a few miles to go. Met a few other hikers along the way and we all continued on together. It felt like a very long last few miles. On the 4th of July I arrived at Kennedy Meadows! ( with my pack still intact ) 

Kennedy Meadow

I didn’t get that magical feeling that they got from the book, but it was still really cool. Camping in the back. Huge porch to hang out on. Convenience store…. with beer. Grill fired up making burgers to order. Lots and lots of hikers! Cool place! 

But now it’s decision time. This is the start of the Sierras. Do I continue on into the Sierras or do I skip up, or some combination of the above. With the record snowfall and the rivers at record highs this year, it is dangerous although doable. Throw into the equation that I don’t do big miles and it may take extra long to get through. Hmm. I decided to sleep on it for the night. 

In the meantime a couple rangers stopped by and let us know that the fire is 15 miles to the west and we are in no danger. Again, the fire did make for great pictures tho. This is my tent the night of the 4th of July. 

Fire sun in Kennedy Meadows

This pic has not been modified, the sun was really red that evening. The moon later was also red. I guess it happens when they are seen through smoke from a forest fire. Scary, but so cool looking. 

Woke up the next morning with a decision. If I continue on into the Sierras I feared that I wouldn’t get through in time to make it into Canada before this years snowfall up there, which is typically early October. Plus I felt the Sierras this year were ‘above my pay grade’, something I continue to say.  I decided to skip them and come back for her another year.  I would jump from here to Truckee, essentially passing by 450 miles.
Now how do I get up there? 

( June 30 – July 5 )

3 thoughts on “Above My Pay Grade

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