Day 47: Hikers, hikers, everywhere

Day 47
Miles: zero
Kennedy Meadows General Store
June 17, 2014

The general store was closed when we arrived last night. The only bar/restaurant in town is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Details, details… should’ve brought a little more food… We find some pasta sides in the hiker box and cook up that. Definitely not a burger. It’s not much better this morning – store isn’t open yet, and the pancake breakfast the Grumpy Bear doesn’t ever materialize.

We’re thrilled to have made it this far – 700 miles and out of Southern CA – but overwhelmed by the mass of hiker trash on the porch of the general store. There are probably thirty people here. Where the heck did they come from?? We hadn’t seen anyone for days! A chat with some of them reveals the KMGS to be a true hiker vortex. There are hikers here who’ve been hanging out for a week – drinking all day on the porch, sleeping at night in the lot behind the store, waking up and doing it again. I’m always amazed to run into thru-hikers who are smokers as well, but never more so than now, when it seems that every hiker here is blowing through packs. (Uphills must be the worst.) It’s really kind of a filthy scene, with the drinking beginning at 9am, hikers getting sloppy by lunchtime, and shenanigans continuing well after hiker bedtime (dusk). Strangebird has appeared again – I don’t know how he keeps doing that – and puts and end to a drunken hiker attempting to climb a pinyon next to the general store porch. Strangebird told me, about 300 miles back, that when he has to be the voice of reason, things have gone too far. Well, here we are.

I guess I knew that the bulk of thru-hikers were people straight out of college, enjoying one last summer break, but the hikers I’ve been crossing paths with have not really fit that profile so far. It’s bizarre to suddenly be with the college party crowd, instead of the young-professionals-searching-for-meaning crowd, or the retired-professor crowd, or the professional-traveler-and-adventurer crowd. I’ve been there, been I’m not anymore. J and I sit at the back of the porch with Teal and Tess (who met us here) and Bluesman. We sort through the last of the resupply boxes that we mailed out before starting the PCT and wonder why we packed so much oatmeal and so few candy bars, and look at our new bear canisters and wonder how we are going to fit these things in our packs.

(A quick aside on the bear canisters – the Kennedy Meadows General Store sells the clear, blue bearvault BV500 canister. I’ve got an old black garcia bear canister that’s about the same size that I had mailed. Both weigh over two pounds. A few well-heeled travelers have the fancy carbon fiber canisters. And then there’s the crowd that likes to live on the edge, with the kevlar Ursacks. The ursacks have been approved (according to Ursack) for use everywhere in the Sierras except for Yosemite and Sequoia and King’s Canyon. According to the park websites they still aren’t approved this year. It’s a fine of up $5000, so it’s a bit of a gamble for the ursack folks.)

I’m ready to get out of here tomorrow. My feet appreciated the time off, but I have a hard time resting with this many people around.