From Cottonwood Pass to Walker Pass & Remington Hot Springs

After leaving the crew of brothers and friends behind, the PCT south of Mt. Whitney became sandy, waterless and almost devoid of other humans.  Almost all water sources were dried up.  I started leaving the trail to look for springs that were flowing earlier in the summer but had dried up in late August.  For the rest of my hike to Mexico, finding water to drink would be a major focus of my trip.

Colorful moss on rocks near Death Canyon Creek
After leaving the JMT section, the PCT also became more difficult to follow: confusing junctions with cow paths and broken trail signs laying on the ground.  I was glad that I had Half Mile's app to keep me on the trail.  Sagebrush in the day and coyote yelps at night became ubiquitous.  Although I was hiking on Labor Day, I saw 0 humans, 0 hikers. No weekend warriors chose to hike the section north of Kennedy Meadows for fun - at least not in the heat of early September.
Spring/trough near Beck Meadow

This is the South Fork of the Kern River near Kennedy Meadows...completely dried up.  In Yogi's guide, she says it's a great place to swim, but there was no water.

Tracks in the dry riverbed: evidence of California's drought.  In the High Sierras the water was so plentiful, but as soon as I entered the Southern Sierras, the landscape dried up.  I walked through the so-called Golden Trout Wilderness, but I don't know where there would be trout since there was hardly any flowing surface water.  I carried 6 liters of water leaving Kennedy Meadows.

I started figuring out that I needed to wake up super early, take a long rest in the middle of the day and hike at night to avoid the incredibly strong heat of midday. One day at a time. 

There was always beautiful sunsets and sunrises in the desert.

Looking east towards the desert

And the landscape started filling up with yucca, cacti and joshua trees.

Nearing Walker Pass

From Walker Pass, I was lucky enough to catch a Kern County bus at daybreak to travel 37 miles west to Lake Isabella for a resupply.  The bus only goes through 9 times a week and I got to the highway about 7 minutes before it came up to Walker Pass.  I then went further west (about 8 miles mostly on foot) to relax at Remington Hot Springs, where the Kern River was, thankfully, flowing strong.  The hot springs were hopping for the weekend and I met lots of wonderful and generous people.
Remington Hot Springs

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