June 20th: 18 miles of Sierra glory

June 20th: Our first full day in the Sierras. We climbed from 8000ft to 10400feet, then back down to 9000ft, during our 18 mile day.

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End location: Mile 730.87, near Death Canyon creek. 36.32282, -118.13012

We were walking by 8:15am, having had a slow, first-day-back-on-trail morning. Within a mile of our tent site, the trees
and forest we’d slept in gave way to a huge meadow, “Beck Meadow.” The meadow appeared to be at least in part privately owned; there were houses visible.

Near Beck Meadow, we were supposed to find a spring. We never found it, and had to carry on another 3 miles to the next water source, another intersection with the Kern River. Luckily, that three mile distance accounted for only one single climb.

We stayed at the Kern River for nearly two hours. That wasn’t intentional, we were both just really tired. And dont you think 90f is too hot for 9000ft? We do.

Other hikers were there with us, and they unfortunately gave us bad vibes. One was incredibly rude. Another kept eyeing our packs, to the point we didn’t feel comfortable leaving them unattended. A third was washing his clothes with soap directly in the water source (the Kern River; washing with soap in a water source is a big ecological no-no). We hope not to see that group again.

Soon after departing the Kern River intersection, the trail starts climbing rapidly up to 10000ft. Around mile 720 there’s repeated crossings with a tiny, tiny waterway known as “Cow Creek.” Near one of these crossings, the trail forked. Guthook’s Guide App said go right at the fork. Halfmile’s Guide App said go left at the fork. We chose to follow Halfmile, and were relieved to see lots of PCT logos along that stretch of trail. (Hey, Guthook, update your
app’s GPS track near mile 720).

Soon, though, we came across two hikers we’d seen earlier at the Kern River. They were across a large ravine from us, having taken the wrong trail fork. They asked us if we were on a shortcut; we told them that they’re the ones off trail. It was comedy (probably not for them, though).

At mile 721.6 we pulled more water from Cow Creek. Many other hikers were there, including a guy from South Orange County, “Bone Daddy.” He’s probably in his 50s. He and his hiking partner “Orla” (an Irish girl, probably mid 30s) were great lunch company- they were trying to find a hole in an air pad without having a lake to submerge the air pad in.

We left Cow Creek around 3:30pm.
We reached the peak of our climb at 10,400feet. There were no views directly at the peak due to tree cover,  but the trail before and after was plenty scenic (with views going back to Beck Meadow and other meadows).

After that, we coasted downhill to our present location. We stopped only once during that 5 mile descent.

There are a lot of other hikers near us tonight. The spring nearby is flowing, whereas the creek nearby, normally flowing healthily, is not flowing at all due to the drought.

It is now 9:30pm. Goodnight. 

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