The good parts are coming soon. That's not to say that they're not all good parts — but we all know the high sierras are the gnarliest most remote and special section of this trail. These pictures are from the section entering Southern Kennedy Meadows up to Forester pass — miles 701-800.
Heading into Kennedy Meadows I passed this gem of ingenuity. A trailer purposefully expanded into a palace. By a creek with views for days, and a satellite, that in my dreams provides high speed internet. How much?
Shooting this pic I had some complex thoughts – would it be cooler to be a rock or a tree? On one side you last pretty much forever, slowly getting smaller after being forged by liquid earth goo. On the other side, you live fast and die young, growing and conquering the soil and stone while sucking up the sun. In any case, I decided this was a good spot for a snack.
Coming out of the desert, approaching the sierras it seemed like there were trail registers everyday. By the end of this stretch I think I perfected my trail signature.
Inspired by the full moon I added some fur to the thin letters. "Full moon, full Dirtwolf. Howwwl"
Burgered out, Beowolf prepares hiker box gormet - a clean out the fridge sort of culinary alchemy. Easy Mac, couscous, chickpeas, and ramen along with some delicious dehydrated mystery.
Super realistic water. Don't you pen tool bro?
A fine establishment.
Recon and The Colonel heading up and out of Kennedy Meadows.
Well Dusty, aka Lunchbox, you didn't win. I wore these gators 800+ miles. You owe me a beer. Though, I will admit — they're useless against snow... I have since shipped them home. Bring on the dirt and a less awkward tan line.
Ice axe and micro spikes strapped to the back ready for the snow.
Early morning miles. A pleasant perambulation. Rising at bird chirp thirty I find this time of day the most tranquil.
Hitting the hills early in the morning the mountains cast long shadows. I must admit its tough getting up and out of the warmth of my sleeping bag on these brisk mornings. I could just lay in my cocoon til the sun hits me. However, I've devised a method that gets me going. I drink a fair amount of water at night. Then in the morning I deflate my airmattress and battle my bladder til the discomfort forces me out.
Once I start walking I warm up quickly. Shedding most my layers in the first few miles.
By midday the suns out in full force. As I was sitting on this precipice a pair of military jets flew right over my head, like 150 feet above my head. One of the cocky top guns pulled a barrel roll. As the sound returned to my deafened ears I had "push it to limit" stuck in my head. I like to think Iceman and Goose were hunting me down. My red pack makes me an easy target.
Ludo and Flore look out east seeing nothing but a drained lake.
Me pulling some stupid Bear Grylls shit. "Jump across all the bolders to avoid snakes."
Marmots everywhere! ...more to come.
John Muir is my spirit animal.
Less is Muir.
A meadow after seeing the marmot.
Above the treeline.
Meadows and mountains.
Ooooh... More meadows and mountains.
You can roughly see some switchbacks in the snow. I later came to view these as optional, preferring to freestyle straight up or down in the snow.
The airs thin up here.
The first 700 miles are considered training. By the time you hit these peaks you're in the best shape of your life.
Water was a wonderful addition to the trail. Water everywhere! No more need to camel countless litres. Ice cold and crystal clear. I even stopped filtering.
This is a fun way to start the day. Breaking ice off the edges of a freezing cold raging river. There's no avoiding getting your feet wet. Some folk carry crocs and swap into those. At first I was envious of this strategy. Then, after sloshing through countless rivers and slushing through melting snow, I realized it didn't matter how hard you tried, your feet are going to get wet. I got used to wet cold feet. I even got used to waking up and putting on frozen shoes.
The calm before the storm.
On our way up to Forester pass.
Looking back at the aptly named Valley of the Kings. Stayed tuned for the Whitney summit and the storm that came the next day.