Start: 4/10 mile from Fox Mill Spring; about at Mi 683.5
Stop: mile ~699, near South Fork Kern River
We got off to a late start this day; we didn’t start walking until 9:30 am. The first 4 miles of the hike saw us climbing up out of the forested surroundings from the previous day and onto a ridgeline that had been badly burned sometime in the last few years (we think). The day warmed up quickly and we had almost no shade as we finished climbing up through the burnt area and then down into another strikingly pretty valley.
Although Erica carried her pack for the ascent, Rick took it for the descent after Erica’s ankle swelling worsened on the hike up. Like the previous day, we moved slowly–very slowly. It turns out that walking on an injured ankle is not the greatest idea, but we had no choice; Kennedy Meadows was not too far ahead and once there, we could rest and reevaluate our situation.
By the time we got down to the valley floor, it was very hot, and we were glad to find enough trees still standing to give ourselves a break in the shade. The views, even from the valley, were impressive. Craggy peaks and ridgelines surrounded us, dropping steeply into the boulder-strewn and tree-ribboned valley. Although this area had obviously burned too, it was not as devastated looking as the mountains above it.
In the late afternoon, we finally got to the South Fork of the Kern River, one of the biggest bodies of running water we’ve encountered on the trail, although still a lot smaller than the primary Kern River that it’s a tributary to. We made dinner on the river bank and filled up with what we would need for the rest of the evening, the following morning, and the short ~4-mile hike into Kennedy Meadows the next day. We had hoped to get to Kennedy Meadows this evening, but it was already 7 pm by the time we finished dinner, and at the rate we had been moving, it would take us until long after dark to get there.
Although frustrated at how long it was taking us to get to Kennedy Meadows, we agreed to set up camp on a hill above the river. We used our showerhead and water bladder system to wash off and then ate dinner and went to bed.