Hi, my name is Isko Salminen.
I'm an adventure seeker and I love exploring nature with my camera and Australian Shepherd called Fire

Day 48: Kennedy Meadows


Date: June 16, 2017
Miles: 6.7 miles (10.8km), from mile 695,5 to Kennedy Meadows.
Health: Feeling a little tired from the heat.

Today is going to be the day we're reaching the official ending of the PCT desert section. While this is something everyone has been anxiously waiting, for me it's going to be a bitter sweet achievement as I had to skip a weeks worth of the trail and I don't really feel like I hiked all the way here.

I started out with the plan of hiking a continuous footpath from Mexico to Canada but trail logistics and getting injured got in the way. While I'm not the only one who has had to skip sections, and even though I'm planning on doing those skipped sections later, I just don't feel as good as I hoped to getting here. But I do feel great proudness and joy for my fellow hikers who have hiked the whole way here.

Meeting up with Otter's tramily.

Meeting up with Otter's tramily.

This morning we woke up with Fyre and saw no sight of the others. They had not rolled in during the night. I made a big stick arrow on the trail to point to the spot we were camping in.

Fyre got out fast and I left more slowly after her. I tried to eat some breakfast and went through my snack collection while hiking but just couldn't make myself eat any of the bars I had left. All I could think was the burgers and ice cold sodas at the KM General Store. I decided to skip breakfast and just get there fast.

Hiking along the Kern river.

Hiking along the Kern river.

As I got out of the forest we slept in, I could see how the scenery started to change. We were clearly still in the desert but the mountains around us looked different, more grey than the red and yellow ones we've seen for the past month and a half.

I quickly reached the Kern river that starts from the melting snow in the Sierras. By the river I met the three sisters we hitched with from Lake Isabella, and soon after them Fyre and Otter and Otters trail family. We all left in a big group and started to hike towards the junction to the Kennedy Meadows.

The crew ahead.

The crew ahead.

From the river the trail starts a slow, gradual climb. The air was getting really hot, even thought it wasn't even 9 o'clock yet. I started to run out of energy and stayed behind. Not eating a breakfast wasn't the smartest decision. I thought about eating something but I just couldn't stomach the idea of a Clif bar. Only three more miles, I can do that.

Soon we reached the 700 mile marker. For me that was about 560 mile marker. I took a quick photo but didn't feel any feeling of accomplishment. I hated that I had to skip, while at the same time, I knew it was the only option for me.


The trail soon reaches the Kern river again and there's an excellent spot for swimming. I stop for a moment to look at the river but I'm so hungry that I have to continue. I'm melting from the heat but I need to get that burger. Swimming can wait.

I keep looking at Guthooks to see the mileage even though I know it's a mistake. Zero point six miles. Zero point four miles. Zero point two miles. I wish I was there already.

Turn right to Kennedy Meadows General Store.

Turn right to Kennedy Meadows General Store.

I finally reach the junction to the KM General Store. From here it's a mile long road walk. The hard road feels really weird and hurts to walk on. I drink the last of my water and moments later I'm offered a ride to the store but I want to walk all the way and politely decline the offer.

Soon I see the sign and as I approach, I get applauded by reaching the end of the desert. It's an custom that when ever a new hiker gets in, everyone cheers and applauds them.


I'm too hungry to think of anything else except for food and drop my pack to the first possible spot and head to the grill. After a moment of stumbling around, I find the small window where you make orders but I'm told the grill is closed. They closed at 10am. It's 10.05am.


I'm told they open again at 11am so I head to the store to get some ice cold soda to fill my stomach with. I can't decide between Gatorade and Dr Pepper so I just get both. It's starting to get way too hot for me and it's only going to get hotter in the coming days. Thank god we're done with the desert.


I soon find a lot of familiar faces and hear from people I haven't seen in days or weeks. Blis is also here and we get to chill. It's been a while.  We watch and cheer all the new hikers coming in and when ever there's a familiar face, we go and greet them at the door. Everyone's happy to be here.

Blis fixing his gators.

Blis fixing his gators.

Finally the grill opens and I get my double cheese bacon burger. It's so good! I get more sodas and try to drink the heat away.

Pony arriving to KM.

Pony arriving to KM.

Then we see Queso coming in. And then, one by one, the rest of our tramily comes in. We're all together again! They tell us that they had seen the note we left them about the bear but had gotten there only this morning.


The rest of the day is spend opening everyone's resupply packages, wondering about all the new Sierra gear and how it's going to fit in our packs, and just goofing around with friends. I get another round of burgers and drink more sodas. The best part about thru-hiking is that you are required to consume as many calories as you possibly can.


I leave my resupply boxes for tomorrow. It's going to be interesting to see how all my Sierra gear and the bear canister are going to fit my new, smaller, 40 liter backpack. Luckily I only have to make it to Lone Pine, which is about three days away. That's where I shipped my larger backpack. That's also where I hope to have some connection to update my blog again.

I fall asleep again under the stars. In few days we're going to be above 10,000 feet (3km) in snow in the Sierra. I can't wait!