And then there were two.
Peanut left Tuolumne Meadows on Saturday morning heading southbound with her favorite hiking companion, her sister, Karen, aka Punkins.
Punkins spent the past four-plus weeks training for her 240-mile hike.
Keeping up with Peanut will be a challenge, but Punkins said she’s up to it.
“Given some time, I can keep up with her,” Punkins said. “She’s got 70 days on the trail, but in our many past hikes, we’re basically equal.
“If I have a goal, I don’t quit. There’s no way I won’t make it.”
The two decided to share Peanut’s two-person tent. Punkins brought two tiny stoves, something Peanut had not carried before.
“We got some shepherds pie, a Meyer lemon cheesecake,” Punkins said. “We got some sort of Mexican quinoa bowl.”
Those will be Peanut’s first cooked meals on the trail.
“Plus we have coffee,” Punkins said.
Peanut and Punkins left PCT Mile 942.7 on Peanut’s 71st day on the trail around 10:30 a.m. The two figured to be at Red’s Meadow on Monday.
They’ve both hiked Mount Whitney many times, but never from the backside. The PCT intersects the Mount Whitney Trail at Mile 767. The trail from there is about eight miles to the 14,495-foot peak. Peanut and Punkins were scheduled to make the climb July 17.
“I’m excited to (climb it), because we’ve looked down into that backcountry and said, ‘I want to go down there,'” Punkins said. “Now we’ll be coming up from there.”
The two hikers’ ultimate goal is Kennedy Meadows, 240 miles away on Saturday morning. At their pace, they’ll likely arrive at KM on July 20.
Friends and family will gather there for Peanut’s 50th birthday celebration.
Kennedy Meadows also marks the end of Peanut’s southbound trek from Ashland, Ore., where she flip-flopped to begin SOBO.
Peanut will return to Ashland the following week to resume her northbound trek. She will have 923 miles remaining when she starts hiking again in Oregon.