The wind didn’t stop last night so it was a cold and slow Craig that packed up this morning. I must have gone further than I thought because I was at Canebreak Rd too quickly. There I met Recline, the only other hiker (after Blue Sky and Vortex) I’ve seen on the trail for a week. Fox Mill Spring had good running water but the trough under it was horrendous. Not only did the algae look in various states of death, but it smelt funky. I was glad to be catching water in a bottle and not pumping it out of that.
The valley we were walking up had meadows at the bottom, but up on the sides where the trail went a fire had removed all the cover and only sagebrush and other chaparral had moved back in. The charred remains of the trees stood in twisted forms and did nothing to make the place cooler. The four of us coincided for a snack under one tree with enough branches left to afford some shelter then when Blue Sky mentioned the south fork of Kern River was swimmable we took off at quite a clip. On the way the view of Dome Lands Wilderness opened up before us and it is mighty impressive. Granite domes rolling away into the distance peppered with pine trees and a river running through it (I swear I’m not making this up).
I was the first to reach Rockhouse Basin and made a quick lunch then again we each pushed on towards the river. Like a ‘town day’ drawing me in I felt guilty for not stopping to admire the scenery more but I could see it as I whizzed by and getting to the river was sooooo worth it. I found the perfect spot, with a long log going over all the thorn bushes and right into the water. We all had a bit of a dip and it was good, I may even have a dunk in the morning. Being first I got to discover it wasn’t as deep as we thought. Nevermind.
Now the four of us are less than three miles from the Kennedy Meadows store where ice cream, doughnuts and calories await us in the morning.
With no early start I figured it was safe to stay up late and watch The Matrix on the video iPod from the other two. At some critical point in the story I heard a low rumble that isn’t in the film, then it became a heavy breathing. Oh dear, I thought, a bear is here and I’m on the menu. I paused the movie and the sound came again, the heavy breathing was really close, then it became a snore and bloody Recline had given me a decent scare! Back to the film, Neo takes the red pill and the rest is history.
More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Tehachapi to Kennedy MeadowsDistance today: 27.2 miles. Total distance: 699.4 miles