Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows 

I have officially completed the first section of the PCT, 702 miles of desert. It took me 50 days to hike from Campos to Kennedy Meadows but it seems like a lifetime when I look back and realize how many steps I have taken, the mountain tops I have conquered, the countless cacti and lizards I’ve communed with and the numerous friendships I have made.           

Leaving Tehachapi was bittersweet. My incredible husband and best friend George, along with my amazing dog wonder Zack, visited me and whisked me away to Las Vegas. George’s brother Sergio and my aunts and uncles Darle and Gerry, Gil and Ronnie all live there. What a memorable time we had together with our family but especially Sergio. He was recently diagnosed with liver cancer and thank God, we were able to spend three days with him, listening to stories of his life before coming to America, bowling a perfect game of 300, looking at his collection of minted coins, reminiscing of his lifetime hopes and dreams, but most special to my heart was his love for Jesus Christ! For the past ten years, he collected food from local stores & markets for the homeless and needy, then delivered and handed it out at his church daily! He had such a servants heart and I was so blessed by hearing his love for the community and the people that God so loves.  Sergio went to be with our Father in heaven while I was hiking my final miles in the desert. I will always remember that morning as one of the most peaceful days on the trail. The birds were just waking, the sun started to appear and the dew on the desert schrubbery was ever so present. I was speaking to God not knowing the fate of Sergio but I did ask if he was with our Lord, to help me finish these last miles with strength and fortitude. And I did finish injury free and quite strong!   

These last miles in the desert were a great reminder of the trail in its entirety. The day I left Tehachapi was the epic climb. All the hikers were talking about leaving early trying to beat the heat while giving themselves plenty of time to get up the pass. So in perfect disbelief, I left at 11am. Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be. But the wind, now that was a different story! Have you ever tried climbing a trail but the wind is blowing in your face so hard that you literally are standing still? Or better yet, you are walking uphill and you get a force of wind that hits your back so unexpectantly that it actually pushes you to the ground? Just imagine that for your first day back on the trail in five days. Oh the joys of a thru-hiker. And the power of our mighty God! 
Fortunately the wind did not last and finally I was able to have the true experience of hiking in the desert. The tempatures rose to the nineties, the water was nowhere to be found, along with the obvious fact that it was bloody hot and I was incredibly thirsty! We had a section of trail that was predicted to be waterless for over 40 miles. So what do you do? You carry as much water as you possible can and your pack is much heavier than it should be. But this is the wonderous PCT which means incredible trail magic is about to occur. A young thru- hiker Shutterbug’s dad, who I named Nomad Maxx, has been following his son along the trail. Any hiker who is in the bubble that surrounds Shutterbug which includes myself, is privy to the gallons of water that Nomad Maxx is providing. Needless to say, he has single handedly saved hikers from unbearable thirst, possible dehydration and certain death! Well maybe not death, but definite passing out. Along with water, he leaves the most juicy & crunchy apples along the trail with an occasional treat for me (Lindor chocolate) melted but tasty just the same! 

Outside the heat and waterless stretches, I have embraced all this glorious desert. The beauty as they say is in the eyes of the beholder. But anyone who has experienced a sunrise from the desert floor or a sunset on top of a ridgeline understands what I speak of. I had many times I was stopped in my footsteps just to admire the scenery. When I think that God first created this with His mere breath, when He spoke “let there be light and there was light” just boggles my mind. The fact that He created this beautiful and inspiring magesty for us to experience, to live and explore, seems a tragedy not to be walking through! When I lay in my tent and gaze up to the stars and He knows everyone of them by name, countless and numerous stars and galaxies that are still being created, it’s no wonder there are so many people hitting the trails.  

 As I finished my last few steps in this desert section, I think of Gods mighty strength and love for all of His creation. My lesson learned this week is the most important of all and that is faith. Just as I sit in my tent and write this I think of the fact that God always provides! When I was tired and knocked down by the wind, He picked me up and carried me to my next destination, appropriately just outside the Wind Farm. When I was wondering how I was going to carry enough water for two plus day of hiking, he brought Nomad Maxx with a carload of water! When I was on my last breath and wasn’t sure how much more I could travel, He painted the most inspiring sunset which made me forget how much my feet just wanted to rest. And near the end of the desert, this amazing couple Chief and Chief’s wife set up their trailer and provided foot baths for all the weary hikers that came hobbling in! Why does God do this? So we know Him and trust in Him and realize that we do not have to do it alone! With faith, all things are truly possible including hiking 702 miles in the desert!    

“I know what it is like to be in need and I know what it is like to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in every or any situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything in Him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:12-13

A final note. I am now entering “The Sierras” and there will be no internet for possibly two to three weeks! Therefore my blog will be on hold till I search out a connection. I would love for you to pray for the safety of myself and my many trail companions as we attack the numerous high elevated passes. There has been many late storms as of May and much needed accumulation of snow. It will truly be an experience of a lifetime and know that God will protect and provide. Godspeed and keep the faith! 

5 thoughts on “Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows 

  1. Kelly! What a beautiful post. I am so glad you got whisked away by George to see Sergio.
    Thank you for continuing to share your inspiring story and your beautiful relationship with God.


  2. We are praying for you! Love the beautiful pictures and stories of God’s provision. We’ve been following your blog and hope to provide some trail magic for you when you get to Oregon. We live in Sweet Home, so our closest access point is Hwy 20 across from the Hoodoo ski resort.


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