The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday 21 July 2012

PCT In Photos: Week 3…

… in which we see Gayle in a frock!

Quite a few photos in this batch.

Having arrived at Kennedy Meadows by late morning, and not wanting to have a zero there, we immediately set about the chores. Within a quarter of an hour of arriving, and having picked up our parcels, we had stuff strewn everywhere on our little bit of the veranda (yep, all of the stuff on the table, chairs and floor to the right of Mick is our stuff, including our newly received bear canisters and a huge resupply parcel). Here Mick is looking at all of that stuff and wondering how in the world it is going to fit into our packs:


What can I say? Mick chose the frock for me and I spent the day in some sort of a 1990’s flashback! (Actually, for those who missed the explanation at the time, maybe I should also add that at Kennedy Meadows they have a cupboard of ‘loaner-clothes’ for you to wear whilst you’re doing laundry. With a shortage of men’s ‘bottoms’, Mick fetched me a frock so that he could use my shorts and not have to wear a dress himself):


He also chose this shirt for himself. Behind him you can see someone else in an equally loud shirt. (That evening he made some derogatory comment to another chap about his ‘laundry shirt’, only to find that the chap wasn’t walking the trail and that the subject of Mick’s derision was his actual shirt. Oops!)


With laundry done, bear canisters packed and other stuff either crammed into our bags or donated to the hiker boxes, we set left Kennedy Meadows on Day 16. Within a few hours, the surroundings suddenly changed and we were no longer in the desert. We had grass (green grass at that) underfoot here!


This one doesn’t show how gorgeous the South Kern River was, nor does it show all of the swallow nests under the bridge (that photo didn’t make the cut). But it does demonstrate the usefulness of a bear canister as a seat! This was during the period when we were still having long lunch breaks and having our cooked meal at lunchtime. A week later, when we were struggling with slow progress, we decided that the temperature (and our ability to deal with the temperature) meant that we didn’t need to sit out the middle of the day anymore and we started having much shorter lunch breaks. Incidentally, this was the lunch break when, in 24 degree heat, I hat to put my fleece on, and thus realised that we had become accustomed to higher temperatures.


The biggest tree ever? Certainly the biggest we’ve ever seen. It goes on for quite a way out of the top of the shot.


I’m not a big fan of the campfire, and this was the only one we joined. It was one of the few days when we were camped with lots of other people around (going clockwise, starting with me, we have Strider, Shivers, BAM, Shepherd, Lil Steps and I wish I could remember who the chap was sitting next to me!)


This became more prevalent as the walk went on, although often with detours and multiple blow-downs to deal with:


I don’t recall exactly where this one is, but I recall taking it because of the size and quantity of the boulders scattered around. Mick being in the shot gives a good sense of the scale.


A familiar sight – hills, forest and meadow.


That’s Strider standing on the top of this rocky outcrop. Shepherd’s about half way up, just to the left. I didn’t want to watch for fear of an accident, but they both made it down safely. Youngsters, eh?


Yep, more forest, hills and meadow. It was a view of which I didn’t tire.


Cheeky chipmunk! You really had to watch these chaps. They had already tried to take the rubbish out of my rucksack pocket and the bags of food I’d left on the ground. Once the food was in the pot, this cheeky chap jumped on the top and was trying to remove the lid. I didn’t use zoom on this photo. I really was sitting about 2’ away at the time. Almost fearless in their pursuit of food.*


Trees, jaggedy hills, rocky meadow. Gorgeous!


Mick pauses to admire the view after a hard climb. At 11,500’ this was the highest point we’d reached on the trail up to that point, and it was the day on which I was absolutely exhausted. If it hadn’t been for the strength of my desire to get back down below 10,000’, I wouldn’t have made it through the next 7.5 miles (7.5 miles to go at approaching 5pm on a day on which I’d been knackered since 7am!)


I have no recollection of this place! But, it’s certainly quite bouldery. Fear not: there’s no clambering required. In the construction of the trail, all rocks have been removed from its path.


This is only about a mile before our campsite before Forester Pass, so must have been at around 11,000’. I hadn’t expected such greenness at such a height.


Marmots are ten a penny in these parts, and are such lazy/laidback chaps when they’re sunning themselves on a rock that they’ll happily let you get quite close for a quick snap:


It was a lovely river that ran past our campsite that night. Mick managed to sit here for as long as it took me to take this photo, before the mosquitoes chased us away from the water.


That video snippet I posted the other day was on the approach to Forester Pass, and here’s a close-up of  the pass (look away now Colin if you don’t know where the path goes and don’t want a spoiler). The trail zig-zags up the head-wall to the right of the notch, then passes just under the notch near the top, before zigging and zagging a bit more on the left hand side to reach the top of the pass. It’s an incredible feat of path construction and my favourite bit of the whole section of the trail that we walked.


That’s a steep bit of rock into which that path is constructed, but when you’re walking it the path feels much wider than it looks in this photo.


Happy (albeit squinting into the sun) atop the pass. The highest point on the PCT, at 13,200’. We spent an hour up there drinking in the surroundings.


The view to the north from Forester Pass. Down in that forest there was mud. We thought maybe the going was to become a bit less arid, but it was just localised dampness in that particular bit of valley.


Part way down that valley we left the PCT temporarily to nip into Lone Pine for a well-earned bed and (more particularly) a shower (or four) and so ended Week 3.

(*As we sat waiting for the ferry to VVR a week later, the chipmunks were again eager for any food that may be available to them, even if it meant chewing through our bags to get it (of course, most food was in the chipmunk-proof bear canisters). As not everyone’s bag was close to them, the usual method of stopping them from chewing is to throw a pebble at them. “I can’t do that any more” said Hello Kitty, with whom we had been walking that morning. The story unfolded that, being the self-confessed ‘worst shot in the world’ he had thrown a stone in the general direction of a chipmunk which was after his bag. He was aghast as not only did he hit the little creature with some force, but it immediately keeled over, twitched a couple of times and then lay still. Yep, the worst shot in the world had killed an innocent chipmunk.)


Click here for ‘PCT in Photos: Week 4’


  1. Love the chipmunk. Reminds me of my first night out in the Canadian Rockies in '84. I woke in the early hours to find myself eyeball to eyeball with a pack rat. Damned thing had chewed through the straps on my new rucksack as well!

    Fab pics - almost makes me want to give up work and do the walk.

  2. It was really good to see the route and sequence like that, having followed the blog.

    (That evening he made some derogatory comment to another chap about his ‘laundry shirt’, only to find that the chap wasn’t walking the trail and that the subject of Mick’s derision was his actual shirt. Oops!)

    Excellent! :)

  3. I am enjoying the tour. The pics are great with unfamiliar and interesting landscapes with a welcome mixture of offbeat happenings- I loved the dress.

  4. Nice frock! Stunning views, love the chipmunk. Mick, brilliant

  5. Having just been shown the frock, David remarked, "Fried green tomatoes!". Maybe you need to have seen the film...

  6. Tony - We met a few people whose packs had been chewed by chipmunks - often when they were sitting close by. They may be cute, but they can be quite destructive! Unrelated to that, is your knee all recovered now?

    Andrew/Conrad - glad you're enjoying. Not many more photos for me to work through now.

    Louise - I've read the book, but can't think that I've seen the film. However, the film was in the early 1990s, wasn't it?