Racing Winter on the Pacific Crest Trail – Day 50

Day- 50
Date- 6-2-16
Location- Lake Isabella
Elevation-  2,474 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 4 or 5 miles?
Distance Traveled Total- 669.4
Weather/Temp- clear, 90s 100s
Injuries- none
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- annoyed beyond description
Days without shower- 0
Hunger/craving- low


I woke up and packed up before everyone else and began hoofing it down the dirt road with Katana on my shoulders.


The road went for about a mile before running into another, better built dirt road.  No sooner did I start walking down this road,  the “hot shot” wilderness fire fighting crews were heading up it.  More than 50 vehicles drove past me as I sauntered down the road.  Buses,  firetrucks,  and pickups full of hundreds of fire fighters rolled by for the 3 or 4 miles that I walked this road.  I felt like a displaced refugee,  making his way away from danger,  as the fighting forces headed right into it.  It was truly a surreal feeling.

When I hit the paved road,  I began hitching, and scored a ride in about 15 mins with another male hiker named “Siesta.”


The man that picked us up was a retired gentleman named Allen. He had been a material scientist who specialized in detonation physics.  I’m telling ya, you never know who you’re going to meet out here.

We spoke mostly about the fire and recent developments. Allen informed us that the trail was closed from Walker pass,  all the way to Kennedy Meadows. He said the main road into Kennedy Meadows was also closed,  something that had never happened before.  The only road that was open into Kennedy Meadows was a very lightly used dirt road that he said took 3 to 4 hours to drive; This was due to the roughness and  tight turns.

So now I’m back in Lake Isabella. I have no way to walk into Kennedy Meadows (the official end to the desert section) with my dog, and bask in the grand accomplishment of finishing the most grueling part of this journey; thirty miles is all we’ve missed it by.  All foot travel is closed between here and Kennedy Meadows, so the only option is to drive in.  I honestly could not be more annoyed by this.

Due to the fire,  a lot of hikers got displaced,  and the ones that are still coming into Walker Pass are having to find a way to drive to Kennedy Meadows. Most are ending up here in Isabella first.  It’s funny,  there’s two types of reactions that hikers are having to this newest development.  Some are in the same boat as me, annoyed, sad, angry, at having our desert finale cut short.  The other group of people are celebrating.  Celebrating that their desert section is over early,  and that they have 50 less miles to hike. I don’t understand it. 50 miles, after going nearly 700 is nothing; nobody out here should feel relieved about not having to complete them,  they are a drop in the bucket.  It’s no surprise that most of these people celebrating are the ones that have been skipping sections to begin with anyways. They haven’t been working full time,  so this is simply another short cut to their false payoff.

I’m sorry for being so bitter,  but I am truly not in a good mood today. I enjoy curve balls and side adventures, but this one came at the worst time, in the worst location. One day sooner,  and I could have had this section behind me,  and home free. I feel like Katana has been cheated (I’ll elaborate even more on this in a later blog post, and it will make even more sense). Obviously it’s a fantastic accomplishment for her to now be finished with the desert section, but she was cheated out of being able to “walk” into the famous, climactic, official desert ending point, with her head held high. Instead, the very last 30 mile section of desert will remain unfinished for the both of us, thus completely and thoroughly aggravating my OCD. Now my next challenge is finding a ride to Kennedy Meadows; not a challenge I want, nor will I enjoy. We’ll see how it goes.

UPDATE: seems the fire was caused by someone playing with fireworks. I can’t even wrap my mind around the stupidity it takes to do something like that in this environment.

After a good night’s sleep, I’m feeling better about the ordeal. Checks and balances. There is a blessing in disguise somewhere in all of this, there always is; only time will reveal it.

Go to Day 51.


  1. It’s a treat to follow you and experience the ups and downs with you and your pup. (Found you via FB Hiking With Dogs.) Sorry this diversion has bummed you out…..You still should be proud in every way!

    I’ll keep my eyes peeled for you when you pass thru Central Oregon. We gave a hiker a ride from Elk Lake to Bend, then Sisters Oregon last week. He is well ahead of the pack as he bypassed much of Northern CA due to the snow, and he will backtrack and complete it once he has finished everything else.

  2. I found your blog a couple of weeks ago and have read back through all your entries. I’m really enjoying your journey. I thru-hiked the AT in ’05 and made it from Mexico to just past crater lake on the PCT between ’08 and ’10. I’d planned on finishing the thing that year but wound up getting off with an ankle injury. I have a 10 month old son now and am dreaming about a thru-hike with him once he’s old enough. Sorry to see all the fire closures. I dealt with that some too, though not to the extent you’ve had to. I know how aggravating that is. Hoping it works out soon and you’re able to get on your way. Anyway, I’ll be following your journey and picking up your book.

  3. Glad to catch up on your blog. I was wondering if you made it through the fire area before it closed. Keep on trekking!


  4. What I especially enjoy about reading your blog is how honest you are about your feelings. I appreciate how real you are. I believe you are right about a blessing coming from this struggle. You, Katana, and your friends do not have control over this situation which is certainly frustrating, but you have always come through a stronger person in the end when you have dealt with other challenges. Katana is such a brave girl ♡ She pushed through and did it. You must be so proud of her.

  5. HYOH Kyle – how others do it is irrelevant. You have become very adept to the art of adapting and accepting variables that are out of your control. The desert trek was no small feat and you should feel very proud of that accomplishment! Keep on keeping on… We’re with you in spirit! M

  6. My son is behind you, he also will be so so disappointed. We placed his bear cannister at Kennedy Meadows Saturday. He has gone back and hiked detours. I know the final feeling of 703 miles and applause and feeling like it is a Grammy for getting there. All I know is that maybe good will come from this. Maybe God knew something would happen to someone/something important. We don’t know, maybe someone would have died, someone important to the future. Maybe something was going to happen to Katana.

  7. I’m struck by how the idea of “hike your own hike” is ultimately at the mercy of things beyond a hiker’s control! It also seems that the outside world is intruding into your experience here much more than on the AT. There, the community and trail angels gave energy, but you’re encountering energy depletion from all sides here. So frustrating! Hoping you find easy transport and that the next section of trail restores these losses. Yes, come back another day for the glorious entry to Kennedy Meadows!

  8. Major bummer, Kyle!…..I feel your pain and frustration…..But I believe your American ingenuity and moxie will prevail and you will find a way if at all possible!……If not, it looks like you will be coming back to walk this section later……Even if it takes light years to do it!…..😉👍🍀😃

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