Days 41-47: Kennedy Meadows to Mt Whitney

Day 41

It was so cold this morning that I left my thermals on to begin hiking. We took our time hiking the 8 miles into Kennedy Meadows. This is a big stop for hikers, as it marks the beginning of the Sierra section. 

We went to Grumpy Bears for a burger and beer. There was supposedly wifi, but it didn’t work that well. At this point, it had been a week since anyone had service and could contact people.

Since this was the beginning of the Sierra, many boxes are sent here. I shipped my bear canister, ice axe, warm clothes, microspikes, and…NEW SHOES!!!

The shoes I ordered were a half size larger, as the old ones were getting a little tight. However, these seem to be a bit too big. Oh well!

Day 42

The rest of the trail family arrived last night. We all planned on taking a zero today to prepare for the change from desert to snow.

Today was a chore day and eating as much food as possible. I did my laundry, showered, packed and repacked, and devoured what felt like a million calories.

Day 43

I packed food for 8 days, Kennedy Meadows to Bishop. With the large food carry and a ton more gear, my pack was the heaviest it has ever been. The outer mesh was packed to its fullest and things dangled out of the pockets. The weight began hurting me halfway through the day. The bear can also dug into back.

Day 44

The family woke up together today and had breakfast. During breakfast, Jupiter went over some ice axe skills, which was great! The first few miles were amazing and I zipped through the forest. The scenery has finally changed.

I placed my bear can differently in my pack. This released the pressure on my shoulders, but halfway through the day began hurting my tailbone. By the end of the day, my lower back was bruised. Along with that, my shin really started to hurt and I was fed up with the day.

Day 45

There was a long discussion for mileage plans today. The faster group wanted to push 22 miles, which included a creek crossing at the end of the day and a climb. I wasn’t so sure about this and figured I’d go to the creek and decide then.

The 8 miles to Chicken Spring Lake were slow for me. It began ok, but then we ran into snow. There was a lot of off-trail hiking and I cut across a marsh to get to the lake. After taking a break at the lake, the trail was still snow covered and we scrambled over snow covered rocks to the top of the ridge. At one point, I post-holed, my right shin slammed into a log under the snow. It was such a jolt of pain I worried that it was broke. Now both shins were causing me grief and hurt with each step.

Halfway down to the creek, I found four of the group breaking. They were debating on camping nearby for the night, instead of hiking to the creek. My shins were hurting so much, I gladly joined them. We had a fire and I enjoyed some hot cocoa. It was nice calling it for the night early.

Day 46

We took our time, having only 9 miles to the base of Mt Whitney. At the creek, we decided to walk upstream and cross the meadow instead of the raging river where the trail crossed.

The trail was wonderful today. Small patches of snow and wide open forest. At the end of the day was another creek crossing. This one was moving slow, but was waist-deep on me.

Day 47

I got up at 3:30am and began my hike at 4am. It was good to start hiking early, so that the snow was frozen. I was slow walking over the sun-cupped snow. The sun cups were deep, making for awkward stepping.

I was so happy to make it to the top! The view was gorgeous and well worth crossing the snow and scrambling up rocks.

This was the first time in almost two weeks that hikers had cell service. Once at the top, we all brought out food and stayed glued to our phones. I’m sure day hikers were giving us funny looks, as we spent the entire time calling our moms and updating posts.