Day Forty Eight: 1095.8 – 1130.1km

“So do you get splash back on your shoes when you pee, too?”

“Every time! Do you scuff dirt on them to disguise it?”

“Yes!”

*cue belly laughs and a deeper sense of sisterhood

We bond a lot on trail. And about such a variety of stuff that is completely taboo to acknowledge back in society.

Do you use toilet paper every time, or a bandana as a ‘pee rag’ that can just be rinsed out at stream crossings?

How good are the monster boogers we can pick because of all this dirt! Where do you wipe them? On your gaiters? I just do on the bottom of my trekking poles. (Obviously, we don’t want to be wasting toilet paper as tissues for such events).

Have you been caught squatting yet?

And farting still makes us all giggle like children, but we don’t hold it back.

It’s liberating. It’s also bizarre. I’m not sure I’ll ever find myself surrounded with people I can be so completely open with about all sorts of bodily functions and deep hearty moments and fears.

As today is officially our last day in the desert of Southern California, a little nostalgia was felt.

I’m going to miss the spindly trees, the fields of open sunlight, the bunches of flowers that I feel were somehow grown just for me.

Oh, and we TOTALLY threw the idea of pushing to Kennedy Meadows out the window when we rolled in to the camp the boys had set up after 1AM.

I’ve kinda run out of other food, and gas, so cold ramen for breakfast it was.

We started hiking at 9:45AM.

Not exactly the 4AM start we had planned on, but at least we enjoyed our morning 😉

Kennedy Meadows is a teensy little town you probably won’t even find on a map. They’ve got a General Store, which is self explanatory, an outfitters for the hiking season, and a little restaurant/bar called Grumpy Bear’s. King Arthur and I figured if we gunned it, we could still make it to Grumpy Bear’s by 8PM for dinner, before it shut up shop. The plan was that everyone would camp there – they’ve got cheaper laundry and showers, free camping out back, and all you can eat pancakes for breakfast.

Gunned it, we did.

We stopped once early on for water, and once later for lunch. Somehow a swarm of wasps went for King Arthur (I didn’t even get one come close to me?!), and sent her running in socks back and forth, trying to outrun them.

It was crazy how they kept biting her, poor girl. I think she ended up with sixteen bites! Vick’s came to the rescue for those stings, of course, but still weird that they didn’t want much to do with me at all.

Things got a little scrambled when we refilled our water 11km out from Kennedy Meadows. We caught up to Jefé, Songbird and Potluck at the creek. Being the fastest, Jefé charged ahead to try and catch the General Store before 7PM to pick up their resupply box. King Arthur and I were the last in, and the last out, and both agreed we could try and jog the whole way. It was mostly flat and downhill, and with our empty packs, seemed like a feasible idea. She was just that little bit faster than me, which compounded over the kilometres quicker than I imagined. I could still see her up ahead before corners or hills got in between us, but I couldn’t seem to catch her.

Potluck appeared behind me somehow. He must’ve been hiding behind a tree, and was happy with the pace I had going so stayed close behind.

Quick time check: 7:13PM.

We were just 1km from the 700mi marker. There was a turnoff there that would take us directly to Grumpy Bear’s. Alternatively, we could continue another 5km up the PCT and come out at the General Store, but we’d have to hitch from there to Grumpy Bear’s, which seemed unlikely on the best of days out along these backstreets.

It was tight, but there would probably be enough time to jump in the river. Probably.

I was willing to take the chance.

Potluck agreed.

As we stripped off and started down the bank, Songbird showed up: apparently she had been hiding behind a different tree. She was in on the swim idea!

We jumped in, and promptly jumped back out.

Pulling clothes on over wet bodies, we were on cloud nine and ready to rumble. It didn’t take us long to get to the marker at all, having been recharged and invigorated with our quick dip.

At this point, we knew we wouldn’t make it in time for food – we just counted on our trail families to have hopefully maybe ordered us something in advance and had it waiting. We also figured, with no real chance of a hitch, and the General Store already being closed, we might as well take the alternate straight to Grumpy Bear’s.

It was a long walk.

It was beautiful, of course, but long.

We didn’t realise how long exactly, until we were halfway through it, and with no cars on the road at ALL we had no choice but to keep plodding along for another hour and half.

Kennedy Meadows is such a small place you also cannot get any phone service out here. A little surprising that’s even possible in the US these days, but it is. We can testify to it. Especially so, because when we eventually got to Grumpy’s, no one was there, and we could call or text any of our friends to figure out WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON.

The three of us spent half an hour wandering through the back of the property, up and down dirt driveways and in between trees trying to find the campsite where our people were, but came up empty.

We passed three lone tents, and a head poked out of one, asking what we were doing. She also gently explained that no one really camps here – when you get to KM via the PCT, a crowd of hikers waits on the deck of the General Store to cheer and welcome you in. And then people stay there. You really only come here if you don’t want to socialise.

So, ah…

Not the end to the desert we’d hoped.

Songbird and I are both disappointed beyond tears. I’m fairly certain I speak for both of us, when I say we’re pretty hollow in this moment and downcast.

Jefé (her boyfriend) has their tent, and she ran out of food way earlier today. She’s wondering what he thinks she’s doing, and why he didn’t come here anyway as was agreed.

I’m betting my Swiss besties have a bottle of wine and a burger waiting for me which I won’t be able to enjoy. And I guess I came here solo; I don’t exactly answer to anyone, nor does anyone answer to me out here, so I can’t technically be upset with Thibaud and the others for changing plans… but I am.

My tent is set up with Songbird inside it, and I’m cowboy camping beside her. We’re in bed with a Cliff bar in our bellies, but feeling pretty empty.

Ah well.

It is what it is.

Tomorrow is a new day, and it’s coming up fast.

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