Kernville, Calif. (June 24, 2015) -- The mobile population of hikers on the Sequoia National Forest increases in late May and early June each year as Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hikers reach the small town of Kennedy Meadows. Seeing hikers from the PCT is nothing new to the owners of the Kennedy Meadows General Store. But this year was a little different. “We saw at least a 50% increase in hikers coming into our store from the PCT this year—we usually see about 1,100 people pass through, but had about 1,700 PCT hikers stop in this summer,” said store-owner Scott Hansen.
Kennedy Meadows marks the 702 mile-mark on the trail from the starting point near California’s border with Mexico. Many of the hikers have already walked the PCT for about a month and a half by the time they reach the small mountain town. This general store serves as a resupply station for PCT hikers. They send packages to the store in advance of their trip, to be kept at a small fee so they can pick up food and other essentials and keep progressing into the Sierras.
“We enjoy having the PCT hikers come through,” stated Hansen. “We let them camp on our property, and many stay at the Kennedy Meadows Campground right next to the trail.” Hansen continued to explain that the town of Kennedy Meadows is one of the more famous stops along the PCT because of its proximity to the trail combined with its isolation from civilization. “They can resupply and connect with people; but there’s still no cell service; and it’s a really neat atmosphere when they all gather here,” he explained.
The PCT hikers help the store’s business; but Hansen said they have many Forest recreationists stopping in throughout the season. The Kern Plateau section of the Kern River Ranger District attracts hikers; mountain-bikers, and single-track off-highway vehicle (OHV) activity all summer long. Camping at Troy Meadow and Fish Creek Campgrounds is also very popular for those wanting to find cooler climates during the hot summer days.
The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) has seen a 300% increase to their website www.pcta.org since the release of the movie “Wild” in 2014. Luckily, the PCTA is always engaged with trail-users and managing agencies. Just last year, volunteers with the PCTA worked with Sequoia National Forest recreation personnel to clear many trees that had fallen across the trail north of Kennedy Meadows.
The PCT also crosses the Sequoia National Forest a couple days walk south of Kennedy Meadows in the Piute Mountains. Crew 40, a ten-person, fire-use crew on the Kern River Ranger District, has worked its way south from Harris Grade to Bird Springs removing downed trees, dropping snags, and building water bars along this nine-mile section. The snags, most remnants of the Piute Fire, are being removed to promote safe travel for PCT hikers. A few volunteers from the PCTA went through this section of trail about a month ago to clear downed trees as well. Hikers moving through this section later in the summer may need to pack water. Landers Camp still has water available, but many springs and wells are expected to dry quickly as summer heat continues.
Although most of this year’s PCT hikers have moved past Kennedy Meadows, many people are beginning to plan for their trip next year. “We are excited to know that more people are discovering the Pacific Crest Trail, and enjoying the multitude of experiences that come with hiking the trail,” stated District Recreation Officer Tricia Maki. She continued, “As more and more people visit the Pacific Crest Trail, it will become even more crucial for all visitors to be responsible, informed, and prepared to meet the challenges of the trail while protecting the natural world in which the trail passes through.” Visit the Leave No Trace website at www.lnt.org to learn how to bring a wilderness ethic into the Forest and leave only footprints behind. Dry camping is another enjoyable way to reduce impacts along the PCT.