18.1 miles (Miles 1000.2 – 1018.3)
Cascade Creek – Sonora Pass/N. Kennedy Meadows
What a day. What another fabulous day on the PCT… followed by a really great stop in North Kennedy Meadows, not to be confused with the other Kennedy Meadows we were at 300 miles ago. I know I was a little confused! Anyway – the scenery! Oh my… I know I say it a lot, but really, every day it’s just so incredible.
We started out by rushing through breakfast because of the mosquitoes, and once we got hiking we cruised through the swarm to try beating it a little bit. They eventually catch up. However, we stopped at a river crossing for our morning break and they let up for a bit – what a treat! We made good morning miles, which I give credit to not just running from skeets, but also the call of civilization. We had about 18 miles to cover, and the sooner we did that, the closer we were to yummy food.
The trail in the morning was through woods, then it opened up to wide open, rocky hills… I mean mountains. I saw what resembled a trail way up the barren mountainside and thought to myself, “that sure looks a lot like a long switchback… nah…” Then I saw a speck moving along the middle of the “z” going up the hill. Holy crap, that is our trail! That’s another hiker! We eventually got there, and it was a climb, but every turn brought us colorful wildflowers, and a new view of gorgeous bluish, snow-patched mountain peaks behind us. Pretty!
Once we were over and to the other side we were rewarded with new views, again and again. I took over 100 photos today. I just couldn’t stop!
We also had out largest snow fields to cross once on the other side, which was a surprise. I thought we’d see the most snow in the higher elevations. One of the snow crossings was even a bit sketchy, despite it being such a low snow year. It was steep and getting slushy, but we just took our time and were sure to be careful. I even glissaded for about ten feet… I got to the end of one and slid the rest of the way down on my feet. It was the most pathetic PCT glissade ever! I enjoyed the snow and made another snowman, too. I didn’t mean to make him look angry, but that’s how he turned out. I tried for a snow angel, too, but there were too many sun cups so the snow wasn’t flat enough. It was fun.
The afternoon brought another thunderstorm, but this one really stuck around. We felt lucky that we didn’t have to set up camp while it was going on. As we were still hiking the gray clouds rolled over the ridge to our right and thunder rolled. I was a little nervous because we were so exposed, but we made it through. It hailed on us a little, and we walked fast. We descended and finally hit the highway at Sonora Pass where The Owl was providing trail magic. Awesome! I had a delicious cookie with whipped cream and a cherry! As we stood there it hailed more and more on and off. At one point the ground was white with hail. We were happy to meet up with Aloha and head to a place to dry off.
North Kennedy Meadows is really nice. We are staying in a dorm room with five beds, a shared bathroom, $5 showers, and there’s a little restaurant, store (with soft-serve ice cream!), and a saloon that was full of packers in cowboy hats and boots. I talked with Corky Jones for a while, who’s been packing since he was a little boy. I think I’d enjoy the work… I just need to learn to ride horses and lead mules!
Oh! We get to send our bear canisters home! That’s 2-1/2 pounds less that we have to carry! Yay!
One more thing… our friend Maggie is here! She brought some brownies over that her mom made and let us have one – they were SO good! Thanks, Maggie’s mom! And Maggie!
Tonight I love feeling dry and having a sturdy shelter. Hail balls pelting off your head and shoulders hurts!