Pacific Crest Trail Gear List: Kennedy Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows

Pacific Crest Trail Gear List: Kennedy Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows

Section: Kennedy Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows

SYSTEM GEAR CARRIED WORN
BACKPACK SYSTEM
Pack ULA Circuit 40
Pack Liner Trash Compactor Bag 2.18
SHELTER SYSTEM
Shelter BA Fly Creek 2 (Shared Weight) 18
Ground Cloth Gossamer Gear Polycryo 1.3
SLEEP SYSTEM
Insulation Top Enlightened Enigma 20 Quilt 22.85
Insulation Bottom Thermarest NeoAir Xlite (long) 15.92
CLOTHING SYSTEM
Socks #2 REI Lite Hiker Socks 2.07
Underwear Patagonia Underwear 4.7
Hiking Shorts NYU Shorts 11
Hiking Shirt Marmot LS Shirt 7
Insulation Top Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Hoody 13.85
Wind Shell Bottom Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants 3.26
Wind Shell Top Montbell Tachyon Anorak 2.82
Rain Shell Top Marmot Super Mica Rain Jacket 9.95
Insulating Hat Outdoor Designs Hat 0.74
Gloves Mountain Hardware Orko Gloves 1.82
Bandana Bandana 1.29
Buff Buff 1.5
Sun Hat NOLs Hat 2.82
FOOTWEAR
Shoes New Balance Trail Runners 23.52
Socks 1 Darn Tough Socks 2.09
COOKING SYSTEM
Stove Snow Peak Giga Power Stove 3.71
Cook Pot Imusa Pot with DIY Lid 4.07
Utensil Sea to Summit Long Spoon 0.51
Towel Glamoflauge 0.55
HYDRATION SYSTEM
Water Filter Sawyer Mini 1.62
Water Scoop DIY Scoop/Adapter 0.59
Water storage 2L bladder 1.29
Water Bottle smart water bottle 1.29
Water Bottle smart water bottle 1.3
SURVIVAL
Light Petzl Tikka Head Lamp 3.19
Fire Starter Mini Bic Lighter 0.4
First Aid First aid kit (trimmed down 1.04
Toothbrush Portable Toothbrush w/ toothpaste 1.05
Toilet Paper Small Roll of TP 2.23
Repair Kit repair kit 1.28
Cash/Credit Card cash/Credit/atm Card/ID 0.4
Bear Can Bear Vault 500 40.16
ELECTRONICS
Phone/music Galaxy s4 6.27
Charger Charger 1.5
ITEMS CARRIED
Trek poles Black Diamond Trek Poles 20.22
Base Weight (Oz) 207.24 74.14

 

Conditions Faced: 

2014 was a low snow year. It barely rained, and was mostly sunny everyday. Although temperatures reached the 30’s, I was never cold sharing a tent with my girlfriend, Legs. It rained once. Temperatures were generally lower than what was faced in the desert. Sitting in the shade could be chilly. Snow was never really a factor, except for some post holing on the northern sides of a few passes. The biggest change was the possibility for dangerous conditions. We faced none.  Continue reading “Pacific Crest Trail Gear List: Kennedy Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows”

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Discovering Evolution with John Muir

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Discovering Evolution with John Muir

Separated into different levels, Muir Pass is a sustained 12 mile ascent, and plays like a video game. Each level with its own boss- either snow, or fords, or steep grade, or photo opportunity (the hardest one!). Muir Pass is the last crucible in the High Sierra, the last rocky behemoth standing between you and the tamer passes of the north.

Walking On Water (CRED: Nicole Frias)
Walking On Water (CRED: Nicole Frias)

The climb starts easily enough, running next to the Kings River, slowly ascending, then flattening out, ascending, flattening out. Helen Lake, a large chunk of dark, blue water tucked away in a granite cirque, marks the halfway point of elevation gain, and the threshold of the more difficult levels. Continue reading “Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Discovering Evolution with John Muir”

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Tales of the Trail – Sierra Edition

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Tales of the Trail – Sierra Edition

Pinchot and Mather: Double Pass Day 

Despite Pinchot Pass being named after a man who would have wanted a casino at its summit, it is wild, craggy and untouched. To the northwest, the trail falls away into a tarn filled basin, each gem of azure blue water connected by a swift stream. Pinchot was relatively gentle going up, and just as gentle going down. The blaring reflection of midday sun off of Lake Majorie caused us to shield our eyes as we skirted along its granite shoreline. The trail drops away suddenly and hits the valley of the Kings River, running along the water for several, well graded miles.

Suspension bridge in the valley before Pinchot Pass. Only one person at a time!
Suspension bridge in the valley before Pinchot Pass. Only one person at a time!

Doing two passes in a day is not common. Most hikers will find a natural one pass rhythm, sleeping either low or high, depending on style and preference. There are certainly hikers doing 30 miles per day, but I am not one of those hikers, especially in the Sierra. 15 to 20 miles a day, which most thru hikers consider a ‘hard’ day in the sierra, will get you where you need to go. If you want to camp high, your mornings are spent descending, and your afternoons, ascending. If you want to camp low, well you get the point. Continue reading “Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Tales of the Trail – Sierra Edition”

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Kearsarge Is a Good Dog Name

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Kearsarge Is a Good Dog Name

Within Kings Canyon, slumbers an ancient energy. The water is crisp and delicious and the earth, a rich, dark brown.  Granite peaks saturated with sunlight shine as if from within, humming with power. The very air is alive. Around every bend another lake waits for discovery, which is akin to finding a diamond the size of a football field. It is impossible not to let that energy permeate your mind and body, and it makes for long, happy summer days within the range of light.

Kearsarge Pass

Kearsarge is a great word (and dog name). It’s a fun word, but there is a hardness to it, like the real pass. The climb up the western side is challenging, with some serious ‘east coast’ graded switchbacks. But the view from the top is absolutely staggering. To the west squats Bullfrog Lake, an azure gem reflecting the saw tooth backdrop. To the east, the heat distorted desert screams discomfort. As you make your way down the eastern face, you pass several lakes connected by streams and cascading waterfalls. The eastern face of Kearsarge Pass is the epitome of west coast trail construction. It is at times, obnoxiously switchbacked. Though the climb back up with full packs is super easy.

We hitched with some hipster vampires from LA into Independence. From there an 18 wheeler took us to Bishop, where we stayed at the Hostel California. Opened this season and in a 112 year old Victorian, it is worth the extra hitch into Bishop just to stay there. The owner is a young man who enjoys rock climbing and acting like The Dude. He allows hikers to work for their beds, and thought it was a good idea to have a ‘lamp cache’. Granted, there was a stern note saying, “Take only what you need!” Two hikers left with a large brass lamp, though I never saw it on the trail. Continue reading “Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Kearsarge Is a Good Dog Name”

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: The Range of Light

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: The Range of Light

100 million years ago, immeasurable power changed the face of the earth. This cataclysmic event left an immense deposit of light-colored granite, which was in turn carved with the artistic, albeit clumsy hands of shifting glaciers.

Today the glaciers are mostly gone and the earth is no longer erupting, but what remains is no less awesome and immeasurable, no less beautiful. It is a hard and blazing place, wild and untamed, and buzzing with an energy that seems to seep out of the rock and flow in the rivers.

Up and over Cottonwood Pass, sits the first real view of the High Sierra. Chicken Spring Lake is a bit of a misnomer. Despite its slack jaw connotation, it is subtly elegant. Two bald, granite peaks frown into a saddle and loom over the still and clear water.

Within the white glow of the stone, and the reflection of trees in the lake water, was the confirmation that we were doing the right thing, and that everything would be ok. It was a defining moment in the hike.

The twilight air was cool but not unpleasant, and the red setting sun glinted through gaps in the tall pines, dappling the trail with a radiant glow. We stopped several miles later and camped near a rushing creek. Continue reading “Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: The Range of Light”

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Kennedy Meadows to Lone Pine

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Kennedy Meadows to Lone Pine

Seven hundred miles has a nice ring to it. Even spelling it out suggests a lovely sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Gongratulations, you have walked a far way good sir and madam. More at least than a paltry 500 or 600. But at mile 702 festers the stinking ‘zero vortex,’ and wallet sucking monopoly that is the Kennedy Meadows General Store.

Kennedy Meadows is the JFK Airport of the PCT. It’s a hub, and you will see many hikers there. I’m not quite sure if it’s actually a special place or if everyone has just read it’s name a thousand times and thinks it this magical portal out of the desert, but there was certainly a buzz in the air that hadn’t been felt since Campo. We’ve made some noticeable prog ress and us hikers love to give credit where credit is due, so upon arriving, I was greeted with a lovely smattering of applause. Then a very ‘nice’ lady behind the counter helpfully took all my money, most likely to keep it safe while I ate and drank my body weight in overpriced beer and ice cream.

Needless to say, KM is a zoo. No. Actually, it’s more like a bankrupt zoo met an electronic music festival and had a love child- then left that child in a trailer park to be raised by Coyotes. So it’s also needless to say that you will have a good time there, unless you need to use one of the porta-potties, which is akin to walking into a leaky nuclear reactor with only a Tyvek jumpsuit to protect you. Continue reading “Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Kennedy Meadows to Lone Pine”

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows – Why I hate the desert and will venture there no more.

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows – Why I hate the desert and will venture there no more.

I try to add something extra to my blog posts. Instead of just a slide show of my actions over a period of time, I like to describe the trail, and any experiences that transcend the individual and illustrates what makes walking such an immense distance so worthwhile and beneficial to mind, body, and spirit. However, if Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Charles Dickens decided to have a child together, that baby would fail if asked to write a kind word about the trail betwixt (OK there is one nice word) Tehachapi and Kennedy Meadows. So instead, for the sake of future hikers, I will give a brief account of this section and maybe brag a bit about a special day I spent hiking…for 43 miles.

After leaving Tehachapi, all your guide books will lie to you and tell you that you are in the Sierra Nevada. You are not. You are in a hellish landscape of fire and brimstone, where water does not exist and the earth has decided that the bottoms of your shoes should melt if you stand still long enough.

I wanted no part of it. And thus, my hiking style changed to a ‘hike the hell out of here’ technique. I left Tehachapi late, because my ride decided to check three different hotels for other hikers, and then wait for said hikers to finish eating breakfast, despite the fact that they had just sat down to start eating. So instead of a 10 minute drive to the trailhead at 7am, it was a 2.5 hour drive to the trailhead at 9:30. No big deal-except for the fact that it would be over 100 degrees for the next 5 days. Continue reading “Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows – Why I hate the desert and will venture there no more.”

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Hostel to Hostel Hiking

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Hostel to Hostel Hiking

Staying at Jeff’s hiker hostel was an inspiration. His family took us into their home and treated us with the upmost hospitality and generosity. We took several “zero” days here to rest up and get the hell out of the desert sun. This is the attic that became home for a few days.

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On the 3rd day of our stay, he took us out back to shoot a couple rounds off with his 22.

20140517-185149.jpg Continue reading “Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Hostel to Hostel Hiking”

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Idyllwild to Wrightwood

Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Idyllwild to Wrightwood

Mile: 369.5

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The white bronco took another one of the hairpin turns at breakneck speed. The vehicle itself, which may have been held together by duct tape and paranoia, shrieked in protest as the driver gunned the engine and took another turn like he was in a car chase. Maybe he thought he was. No this isn’t OJ- this is D-Wayne. Not Dwayne. Not D. Wayne. D-Wayne.

“Is it Dwayne or Dee Wayne?”

“Yes.”

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D-Wayne was our driver, as he stopped at our extended thumbs and asked, “where yer heded?” We told him Big Bear, and we clambered into the front seat. Finna sat in the middle and could be seen trying to keep his body from flying side to side as D-Wayne floored the car around each corner.

” You know bout dem kim trails?”

As we are both hiking, and could barely understand the words coming out of this guys mouth, we assumed he was talking about some nature trail in the area, despite us telling him we were from across the country.

“No, whats that?”

“The damn white lines in the sky coming off dem planes! They got special aluminum in dem trails, so they can control the weather. Make it snow when it ain’t snow time, and make it hot when is ain’t supposed to be hot. Continue reading “Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Idyllwild to Wrightwood”