We wake up at Deadman Campground under a huge cedar tree – slept well, but woke up hungry. Jon was so tired the night before he put on two right shoes, one of them mine, to use the bathroom. I reapplied Jon’s KT tape, packed up and headed down to Kennedy Meadows for breakfast around 7:30. Only one table occupied so far, the normally bustling cafe was very quiet. The local dogs in the adjacent lobby looked at us, but obediently did not enter the cafe. I ordered biscuits and gravy, 2 eggs, 1 pancake and ham. I’d been craving biscuits for the last 200 miles or so. Jon got 2 pancakes, 3 eggs and sausage. Coffee was excellent, not too strong or weak, just right. The food at KM has been really good, and affordable. I feel rejuvenated from our last 3 meals here.
While packing up last night, I made a horrible realization – I left my treeking poles in Steve’s car. I am unable to buy, borrow or steal any trekking poles at Kennedy Meadows North, so I resolve to hike the next 75 miles without poles. I can borrow Cactus’s poles for snow crossings, if needed.
The shuttle back to Sonora Pass had 9 hikers and their packs piled into a van. Our driver, a soft spoken older man, pointed out old wagon trails from the 1850’s along the way. Amazing that settlers haven’t been here very long, just in the last 200 years? I once stayed at a friend’s house in Austria. It had been in his family for 400+ years. The driver told us a story about a hiker who found a 15 lb rifle along the wagon trail, dating back to the 1880’s.
Off the bus and we say “see you down the trail” to our fellow hikers. I’m actually feeling pretty great from our short time at KM, and ready to hike. Absence of trekking poles notwithstanding. I then promptly step on the buckle of my hip-belt and break it. A critical bit of plastic now lying in the dirt. Luckily, it still clasps shut, but for how long, I wonder.
We have a bit of cell service so we order gear replacements to be sent to Tahoe. We will be there in 4-5 days. I order a new buckle, and Jon gets a more sturdy backpack. He currently has a Gossamer Mariposa. A hip belt buckle is also broken, and a duck taped arm strap is threatening to rip in half. His pack never fit quite right, so after 1000 miles of hiking in it, he’s gonna try a Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor instead.
A call from Wendy, our dear Granny isn’t feeling well. They are currently on the ferry to take her to the medical center on the mainland. I see the worry in Jon’s eyes. I’m worried too. We’re both very glad that Wendy is there, visiting from California.
Our climb out of Sonora Pass is scenic and pleasant. I’m adjusting to no trekking poles, my calves are a bit tired. It’s a windy day and not too hot. Jon and I make good time. The valley below is verdant and lush, with brown and red rock towering above it.
We hear back from Wendy – Granny is feeling much better. We are relieved to hear and this news lightens our steps.
The wildflowers are all around us, unfurling with blooms of purple, yellow and white. Each delicate plant emerges from the rocky ground. Such an amazing feat, since at 9600 ft, the conditions are harsh and the summer growing season is short.
We drop into a canyon carved by the East Fork Carson River. The trees are big here, sheltered by the canyon walls. There are blocky pinnacles of rock high above us. The river is fast and powerful, swollen with snowmelt.
I am being lulled by the white noise of the river and wind into a steady pace. My legs move my body while my mind wanders. I think about the birds all around me. They are very busy right now, burdened with the thankless task of feeding their young. I think of the sweet deer, who sometimes graze near our tent in the evenings. They are such cautious but curious creatures. You can tell if you watch them for a while, that some are more brave than others
I feel at home and as a guest in this place. I think I am both.
We walk by a 1,000 year old juniper. It’s trunk is gnarled, but the bark still fuzzy and soft. The bright green leaves reach up to a cloudless blue sky. I stare up in awe and touch the ancient being.
We camp on a sunny knoll adjacent to a meadow. The ants entertain us as we eat dinner. They find a dropped piece of couscous and immediately confiscate it. A coupe of times, we observe two ants join antennae for a second or two, then detach and each one go about their business. Why? Jon speculates they are checking that they are from the same colony.
Meanwhile, the late afternoon clouds pass by like they are late to something. So fast! So long clouds, and goodnight.