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 49: Goodbye desert, hello Sierra!

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Date: June 17, 2017
Miles: 7.3 miles (11.7km), from Kennedy Meadows to mile 709.5.
Health: Feeling great except the heat is really getting to me. Can't wait to get to higher elevation and into cooler weather.

I try to sleep late but I'm woken up by the sun around 7am. While sleeping next to Camp Counselor and Poison Ivy, at the far end of the campground, was great for being far away from all the noice from the bonfire, it meant we were outside of the small forest and not protected from the early morning sun.

I try to find some way to still sleep but the sun doesn't seem to care about my sleep and I have to get up before I get toasted in my sleeping bag. I haphazardly put all my things together and carry them back to the grocery store. I have to go through all my gear and resupply boxes today for the Sierra.

Grumpy Bears.  

Grumpy Bears.  

Before all that I need a breakfast. I miss the shuttle that Sunshine and others take to Grumpy Bears but I hop on to the next one.

Grumpy Bears is a small restaurant about three miles from the Grocery store and they serve early morning breakfast and all-you-can-eat pancakes. There's a shuttle (read: a pickup truck) that takes hikers back and forth.

Once I and about a dozen other hungry hikers reach Grumpy's, we get in line and make our orders. The service matches the name, but in a charming way. I'm trying to order my breakfast with extra bacon but I'm basically told it's not going to happen. No please's or thank-you's here.

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I find my spot on the table with the others and we play a game of Uno. We get halfway through the game when the first of our pancakes start to arrive. The pancake, that's singular, is absolutely massive. I drink my chocolate milkshake while I watch others struggle with their massive pancakes. Breakfast milkshake is always a great choice!

A pancake.  

A pancake.  

Then the rest of our breakfast starts to appear and Dandelion and I happily help all the vegans in our group to get rid of their bacon. I'm glad I didn't get to order the extra bacon.

After the breakfast Sunshine, Fire-ant, and I visit the Triple Crown Outfitters next door. Partly because we want to check out their selection, and partly because we really want to meet Yogi, the owner of the store. She's a triple crown long distance hiker and famous for her PCT handbooks. 

After a quick visit to her store we end up waiting for over 40 minutes for the next shuttle back. It's too hot to be outside.

Once back at the grocery store, it's time to go through my resupply package. I've already forgotten what I had prepared for myself a month and a half ago.

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I find a good, shaded spot on the terrace and start going through the package. Lots of snacks, ice axe, microspikes, ziplock bags. But I can't find my base layer. What have I done with it? I even called Mikko about a week ago to check that I wasn't accidentally stupid enough to leave it out of the Sierra package.

Also, no meals, only snacks. I forgot to tell Mikko to take the meals out from the fridge where I stashed them before leaving. Me and my memory.

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But not having the meals is actually a good thing because my, or our, Sierra plan has changed with the snow. We're now going to Lone Pine, which is only three days away. That means I don't need as much food as I originally had planned to ship here. And now I'm shipping all the extra food to Lone Pine so I'm saving money not having to ship a ton of food.

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KM General Store.  

KM General Store.  

I fill the bear can with three days worth of snacks, then fill the empty space with my other gear. Fitting the bear can in my 40 liter pack is going to be interesting.

After I have my gear sorted out, I ship the rest to Lone Pine and pack my backpack. Everything fits barely. I can make it to Lone Pine by stuffing other gear to the bear can, but from Lone Pine onwards the food carriages are going to be bigger. I need to switch back to my 48 liter MLD Prophet.

Momma Otter and Otter.  

Momma Otter and Otter.  

Poison Ivy and Camp Counselor leave as they want to hike 8 miles out of Kennedy Meadows to a good camping spot. I stay behind with our tramily and we sit in the shade, drink beers and sodas, and enjoy resting.

We have no clear plan on how to hike from here on out. I feel like I want to do some miles today so I plan to catch up to Camp Counselor and Poison Ivy. Others plan to hike just 2 miles to the nearest campground.

What happens when I ask everyone to act naturally.  

What happens when I ask everyone to act naturally.  

It's getting late, which is good for getting to hike in a cooler weather. It's starting to look like no one is leaving, but I want to get back on the trail, so I leave alone. I'll do the 8 miles in few hours and meet the others tomorrow.

I hike the road walk back to the trail and start hiking as the sun is setting. The views are magnificent. I'm walking on a meadow between two mountain ranges, watching the sun set. The air is nice and cool and sparrows are flying around me.

Out of Kennedy Meadows.  

Out of Kennedy Meadows.  

On the way I pass two campgrounds and then it gets dark. I switch on my headlamp and pass a third campground. These are actual campgrounds, with spots for cars and so on. I see many bonfires and people car camping.

After the third campground the trail swirls up to a forest and starts to climb. I listen to music and hike with a good pace. This is so fun!

As the night gets darker, all the animals start to appear. I see tens of scorpions, spiders, and other creatures. At one point I turn my headlamp up to the right of me and see a pair of eyes staring at me. They follow me for a while and I pump up the power on my headlamp. A coyote. We stare at each other for a while and then she turns and disappears back in to the trees. I see her, or some of her friends, few more times during the hike.

Met these two on trail.  

Met these two on trail.  

At one point the trail takes a sharp turn left and crosses a river. At that turn I see many tents as people are camping there. As I leave the camp behind me on the other side of the river, I hear a dog starting to bark at the camp. Must be the coyotes following me that startled him.

I'm in such a good hiking mood that I soon notice I'm almost done with the 7.3 miles to the campground where the girls were planning to stay. Wonder if they are there.

Nighthiking.  

Nighthiking.  

As I approach the spot I see their tent and switch my headlamp to a low power. I try not to wake them up but as I get closer, they both wake up. They were sleeping softly as they had seen eyes around the campground. Must be the coyotes.

I setup cowboy camp next to their tent and quickly fall asleep. It's good to be hiking again and out of the desert!