Started: 08:20 @ MM 693.5 Manter Creek, Rockhouse Basin (Elevation 5,846ft)
Finished: 11:30 @ MM 702.2 Kennedy Meadows (Elevation 6,149ft)
Elevation Gain/Loss: +974/-673ft
Food: Oatmeal, Ben & Jerry’s, Double Cheeseburger, Almond Joy
Health & Hygiene: 0 Blisters, Days since last shower 3, Days since laundry 4
Waking up in the morning and knowing you are heading to a trail town is exciting enough. Waking up in the morning and knowing that you are about to walk out of the desert and into Kennedy Meadows is just bonkers! I was ridiculously excited. I even put on my cleanest clothes and brushed my teeth for the occasion.The thought of being finished with the desert filled me with so many emotions. After 700 miles and 44 days the desert had become reassuringly familiar to me. I had adapted and now felt quite at home in its harsh terrain. I could cope with the heat, rattlesnakes no longer worried me and the waterless dry climbs were a stroll in the park. The desert had been nothing like I was expecting. I was snowed on twice, frozen stiff most nights, blown to bits by gale force winds and challenged by steep climbs and high elevations … Not a camel in sight, not even the toe of one! Although I was very happy to kiss goodbye to water reports, nasal molluscs, cacti and all the dust, I was equally unenthusiastic about welcoming snow, ice, creek crossing, postholing and altitude sickness into my life. The Sierras scare me … I’m not afraid to admit it!The final few miles into Kennedy Meadows were really smooth and cruisey. I found myself jogging along with my almost empty pack. Very soon I reached the first of the day’s big milestones … the 700 mile marker! I ruminated on the number for a while. It was big, it was massive … Fuck! I had just walked 700 miles across the Southern Californian desert. I had been totally self sufficient, I had survived and I had actually even enjoyed myself along the way!The topography and landscape were also slowly starting to change. The shades of brown and beige were starting to give way to hues of green and even some iridescent blue. The sound of running water filled the air and at long last, it felt as though the wilderness was finally coming to life. The enormity of my achievement slowly began to sink in. I felt so proud of myself as I signed the trail register just before the road into Kennedy Meadows.
As I walked along the road for the final half mile I could feel so many emotions bubbling up. I could see the sign, I could see the store and then people started clapping, cheering and calling my trail name. I started to cry. I was so happy and proud and relieved and grateful and just about every other thing you could be. Walking into Kennedy Meadows was one of the most overwhelming and exhilarating experiences of my life and one that I shall savor for a long time to come.I’d done it! I’d walked from the US- Mexican border to the foothills of the Sierras … If I never took another step along the Pacific Crest Trail, this alone was something to be really proud of, it was an amazing accomplishment! However, I wasn’t about to stop … almost 2,000 more miles of adventure and storytelling await … but first, I had the small matter of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake ice-cream to deal with … it took just 11 minutes!