Jun 22, 2015

Camelot

Kennedy Meadows
      Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail well over a month and a half has finally brought me to the promised land: Kennedy Meadows General Store and Campground.
  After plowing through the final 15 miles in desert-like heat, then road walking another mile, Epic Doug and I stumble in a heap onto the General store complex. We're greeted by a clapping and hooting of what appears to be an inconceivable number hikers yelling out our names in drunken congratulations.  This welcome awaits all pilgrims that climb up to Kennedy Meadows from off the Pacific Crest Trail.  Anyone wh shows up with a pack is immediately accosted in happy embrace by rowdy and half delirious hikertrash who have, no doubt been drinking for hours. 
    
   We already know damned near all of the 40-odd people scattered around. Throughout our 700 miles of adventuring, Doug and I have encountered dozens of fellow hikers: Flashlight, Rabbit, SkyPilot, Canyon,  BigBoyScout, BostonChris, Trapper, SummerSausage, Nutella, AttilaTheBun, Tinman, Pathfinder, DragonClaw, KellyRose, Jay, Tim, Cobain, York, Sacajawea, ChattyCathy; they're all here cheering us on as we leave the desolate desert road, drop our packs with victorious heaves and fall upon the General Store patio.
   
   I'll be honest: I'm averse to meeting up with large groups of hikers.  I prefer smaller, more intimate gatherings.  But this dramatic welcome accompanies the personal sense of accomplishment in a way that is undeniably special. You get that blushing-at-the-award-podium feel. Exhilarating triumph doesn't do it justice.
   It's here in Camelot that I re-learned what "community" was. As individual an activity as hiking is, the sense of camaraderie is intense.  Everyone is a friend here, whether hiking just a section of the PCT, or a thru-hiker, they're all in it with you,  especially at that moment. "Well Done!" They all say, clapping you on the back.  And you know it's not a lie. 
Well done indeed.
  
  The General Store in Kennedy Meadows is the hub of the experience there.  Hikers eat merrily, buy countless cases of beer, and are treated to a pre-happy-hour meal featuring chili dogs, veggies, and wings. 
The water is free and potable.
The Dr. Pepper is cold and seemingly endless. 
 
  Despite all of this, I can't wait to get back out on the trail. After 700 miles I've also come to learn that it's no longer the pit-stops that I truly enjoy. It's the adventure itself. I remember never wanting to leave the Lake Morena campground.  Now I can't wait to get the hell out of Kennedy Meadows.
I spent one day there waiting for my resupply package, said my goodbyes and left as soon as possible. 
  I'll never forget that experience as long as I live. I want to sincerely thank everyone who made it possible; especially my family, my friends, and my hiking buddies. 
  Tomorrow, I attack the Sierra Mountain Range beginning the long expedition to scale Mount Whitney; the highest point in the lower 48 states.  I'm excited for the first time in a long time.  Perhaps the Trail really is changing me. 
I'd like to think for the better.  :-)
Karma Forward.
 
 
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