Date: September 21, 2017
Miles: 1005.9 – 1016.9 + 9 mile road walk to Kennedy Meadows North.
“It’s a winter wonderland!” ~ Seinfeld
Any gratitude that I had last night evaporated immediately when I woke up at 11 pm to the realization that so much rainwater had collected under my tent that it had turned into a waterbed. Water was splashing up underneath the vestibules of my tent and everything inside was damp, including me. I tried to go back to sleep, but instead laid awake for an hour feeling the clammy wetness of my quilt and wishing for the heavy rain to stop. I finally fell asleep, but woke up again at 2 am when Fluffy began yelling at me to get up because my tent was collapsing under the weight of the snow that had started. I instantly figured out that I was not just having a dream that someone was slapping me in the face with wet cuben fiber, it was actually happening. Snow was coming down like crazy and it weighed down all of our tents, taking one of my stakes out as well. I knocked snow off of the walls of my tent, banged the tent stake in with my cooking pot – denting the crap out of it in the process – and pushed as much of it away from the openings of my tent as possible without having to get out of my quilt, which was soaking wet by this time. I set my alarm to wake me up in an hour so I could do it all over again. I did this every hour until I finally convinced myself around 6 am that I had to get up and get moving. As crabby as I was about the lack of sleep, my filthy, wet gear, and the cold, I was still able to acknowledge that it was a beautiful morning. The storm had moved on and left a blue sky and a crisp white forest in its stead.
The sun stayed out for a few miles as we hiked toward Sonora Pass.
The clouds started to roll in later that morning, however, and by the time we reached the pass, the sky was looking ominous.
We learned from a southbounder that CalTrans had closed Highway 108 (the road on which we had planned to hitch a ride to Kennedy Meadows North to pick up resupply boxes), but he thought that one bus was running. He was wrong. The highway was deserted except for us and a few other hikers, one of which had found an unlocked excavator to warm up in for a while because he only had shorts on and no pants to change into. As a blizzard of snow and sleet began, we started walking the nine miles from the trailhead to town. Snow piled up on our hats and folded arms, and icicles formed on our eyelashes. Our feet were soaked through and balls of ice grew on our shoelaces. I lost feeling in half of my face. I couldn’t wait to get to KM so I could take a hot shower and dry out my gear.
My heart sank when we got to KM North and we were told that there were no rooms available at the pack station there, since they were the only accommodations besides a campground. In desperation, I looked the front desk gal in the eyes and told her that there was no way I was going back out in that weather to camp in my soaking wet gear, and that I would sleep in her lobby with the dogs if she couldn’t find us a room. A few minutes later, a room became available and we happily ate a hot dinner knowing that we were going to get some warm relief.