So i have completely neglected my blog. But here I am thinking I need to write about whats happening.
So my last post was from the trail at Snoqualmie pass. I will give a quick debriefing of what happened next. Julia dropped us off at the trail, and we ascended straight into the snow. Then it turned to rain then sleet. we saw many weekend backpackers running back to their cars to get out of a miserable situation. And we kept walking. The rain never stopped. I wanted to go home. After another four days of rain walking, we made it to Skykomish, and got a hotel room. This was the hardest part of the trail for me. I had to make a decision now, to continue on waking up every morning dreading the task of the day, or to not reach Canada and call it good.
I had come almost 2500 miles, and I loved it until this point. so with 175 miles and about 8 days (forecasted to rain every one of them) to Manning park, I decided it was time for me to go home. I did not complete the whole trail in one season. and to this moment, two months later, I do not and have not regretted my decision once. I had never felt truly depressed and un happy, until my last week on the trail in the rain and cold. continuing on like that just seemed so un necessary. Perhaps if i had seen some of Washington's epic views, and could have dried my sleeping bag a time or two it would have been different. But it wasn't. And that was the coolest trip I have experienced yet.
Now Jessica and I have a backpacking trip planed for next summer, and I cant wait. The Canadian border should still be there, and hopefully we see the most beautiful section of trail with some blue sky.
Since I have been home, I have been filling my time working, and dreaming about the trail life. And thats about it. When you spend all day as a stone mason, all you want to do after work is sit still. I guess the good news is after almost five months of just walking, I finally have got some upper body strength.
This afternoon I'm moving back to the woods. I took a sort of caretaker and maintenance position for the winter at Opal Creek Ancient Forest. Its a very cool old mining camp that is used as an education center in the summer. I will live there with a couple other people, taking care of the property until april.
Im hoping this works out so I can be skiing off my front porch and into the woods at any moment I wish.
Stay posted for pics of this next adventure. and i do have internet at my new home in the woods, so send me an email, and let me know when you want to come visit.
And thanks to every one who helped me on my hike. I honestly could not have done it with out all of you. The PCT had been my dream for a long time, and I got to experience it to the fullest. I owe many thanks.
Being at mile 2401 is good news, it means there is only about 260 miles to go. Although Washington is full of big climbs and relentless descents, it had been more of a mental challenge than a physical one. My body can comfortably handle the terrain, and the miles, but i have been on the trail for well over four months, and I can see the end now. The summer season is slowly losing its grasp on the mountains, and I feel like we are racing to beat autumn to Canada.
The First 80 miles of the state were full of elevation gain, 2nd growth forests, and clear cuts. On a cold rainy day in this forested section, we made an unplanned side trip to Trout Lake, for a warm bed, and a huckleberry milkshake. This was an important stop, due to my slowly slipping motivation. With an attitude adjustment, we were back on the trail, and climbing into the Mt. Adams Wilderness. Although still cold and cloudy, we were leaving the clear cuts and entering the mountains that make the Washington Cascades a remarkable place. We walked thru huckleberry fields, and beautiful northwest forests of Douglas Fir, Hemlock, and Alaska Cedar.
Before arriving at White Pass for resupply, we passed thru the Goat Rocks Wilderness. I was really hoping to find some mountain goats here, because I'm almost an expert on goats after working on the farm, but they were no where to be found. On a cold fall like morning, we passed through the clouds at over 6500 ft. During very limited visibility, we walked across a 5 foot wide ridge on the crest called the Knifes Edge. It felt like climbing in a true alpine style. the Goat Rocks were possibly my favorite section of trail of the whole trip. check out the most recent pictures for sure.
After some deep fried food and a resupply at the gas station in White Pass, We continued north as the weather deteriorated. We walked thru some rain the first day, but managed to wish it away in time to pitch camp. The next day, started overcast, then drizzle. Then when we wanted lunch it started to rain, so we huddled under some nice cedar trees for some relief. After lunch, the weather took a real crap, and according to my little FM radio, reached a record three inches of rainfall. It was uncomfortable. The rain did not let up, so we pushed for a 30 mile day and arrived a nice shelter, with a wood burning stove, and plenty of mice to keep company for the night.
The next two days faired-up and were not too special. More clear cuts, which I happen to not like at all. We ended up at Snoqualmie Pass on Thursday, where our wonderful friend Julia took us to her home in Seattle. Today is our second zero day and I hope the last one of the trail. It finally feels like the end is in sight. I am having mixed feeling about finishing, I'm having fun, and I like this simple way of life, but my feet are tired and most of all I'm missing a certain little Pit Bull that's waiting for me at home.
It seems that we will reach Manning Park on September 16 or 17, where my parents will pick Jessica and I up for a long drive home. I may not be able to post until I get to Canada, so for now, check out all the new pics by clicking the link above this post, or the link in the post below. Thanks to everyone for all the support. It means a lot and keeps me going when I'm wet and cold. More from Canada coming soon!
Post from HQ in Eugene: Sam and Jessica came off the trail today for a couple of zero days in Seattle. They left the trail at Snoqualmie Pass, near mile 2400. Rec'd a SD card with photos yesterday. Take a look on Flickr at PCT Set V.
After 2100 miles of walking I have reached your southern border. My feet are hurting, and my body is tiring. I'm told that you have many climbs and many beautiful vistas to enjoy. As autumn starts to join us in the mountains, you will become colder, and more rain is most certain to join the daily routine. But as it turns out, I'm excited for that. Just no snow. Please. In a moment, we will cross the Columbia, and be with you for three weeks. Take us to Canada!
This is going to be a quick one, I only have the rest of this afternoon to relax and sip on PBRs before we head back to our summer home on the trail. Jessica and I made it from Ashland to Highway 58 and Eugene in 9 days. It was mostly amazing terrain, with good trail and great views. But... there is these little things called mosquitos that can ruin your life, at least when you live in the woods. And for a about 197 of those 200 miles, you could be moving at a full sprint, and they would still be swarming and biting and sucking your blood . So instead of hiking 100 more miles to Santiam pass, where we had planed on heading home for a couple days, we have taken our break a little early.
I have learned that its really important to remember that all discomforts will pass with time. If its not Mosquitos, its heat, or wind, or cold, or snow covered trail, or who knows what else the trail will put in front of us. It is a test of patience. Because walking is slow, and nothing happens quickly. Its been a great lesson and as I look back all the challenges so far, I feel nothing but grateful. So always remember discomforts will come to pass.
Its been so nice to be home, eating burritos and wearing cotton for a few days. Today is our third full Zero day, and I feel really rested, and ready to finish the last 700 miles. We spent the last two days preparing all of the resupplys for the remainder of the trip, which was a chore, but now its done.
Early tomorrow were headed back to Willamette pass by car, then north on foot. Im hoping with my whole heart all the stupid mosquitos are dead, but I'm sure there not. so we will just keep walking, and make the best of it.
All my most recent pictures are posted now . Check them out here or click the link at the top of the page. Sorry for all the pics of me.... Jessica had the camera. There's also a couple more pics from my phone, below this post... hope you like them.
I finally arrived at the Oregon border after walking three months to the day across California. I certainly got my fill of the state, and I'm very happy to be on familiar trail again. As one would imagine, there were many highs and lows over 1700 miles of walking. California offered so many amazing mountains, views, and memories, and I'm grateful my body and mind allowed me to reach the end of one state, and the next step of this journey.
From the OR/CA border, it was 25 more miles to I-5, where we arrived yesterday morning. As we descended from Mt. Ashland, I thought about all the experiences I have shared with Furniture and Ishmael, and how fortunate I have been to have traveled with great friends for three months. I can only imagine what future adventures we will embark on together.
Before hitching into Ashland yesterday, we had coffee and a breakfast beer at Calahan's Lodge, and thought about all our good times, and how how our hikes would change as we parted ways. We spent the night at the home of ultra runners Erin and John, who took us in with great kindness and hospitality. After coffee this morning, I rode with Erin to take Furniture and Ishmael back to the trail, so they could continue their quest to reach Canada before late August deadlines. We said our goodbyes and Erin and I headed back to town.
Im hoping to have all of my administrative duties finished before Jessica arrives on tuesday. Im very excited to be able to walk the rest of the way to Canada with her. We will leave Ashland Wednesday morning and walk to Crater Lake, where if all goes well, we will get to spend the day with my parents.
Over all things are going very well, and I'm having lots of fun. So I guess its been a successful trip so far. Every day, when its really hot and my feet hurt and my legs are tired, I remember how fortunate I am to be on the trail where I have chosen to live for the summer. I can tell already that its going to be hard to leave the trail lifestyle in only 6 more weeks.
I want to thank every one who cares at all to read this blog... it means lots to get those positive and encouraging comments and emails. It certainly helps keep me going when I'm down.
If anyone wants to come visit Jessica and I on the trail, this would be a good time to let me know. I have a pretty dialed in itinerary for Oregon, and I would be able to give pretty specific days and locations. So if a 25 mile day hike, or a car camp on the PCT sounds good, call or email me sooner than later and we will set it up. come play!
I just posted a couple pics from my phone too, so scroll down!
The last couple of weeks have been lots of hiking and very little time in town. It has been very enjoyable, but it hasn't allowed for blogging. So while I have a quick moment here in Mt. Shasta, I will give you a run down on what a typical day has been like for me.
I usually wake up around 5:45 or 6, then lay in bed until my eyes open all of the way. I put on my pants, deflate my sleeping pad, and stuff my bag. For breakfast, I usually have a gourmet Cliff Bar with peanut butter and honey on it, and a chocolate instant breakfast mixed with water in my bottle. I like to be packed and walking before seven, but some days it just doesn't happen.
I will walk for two or three hours, then have a short break for a snack attack. Then I will walk 'til 12 or 1 or later, and its lunch time. For lunch, I love burritos! I usualy have a tortilla with cheese and some pre-sliced meat. I usually add mustard and hot sauce to make it delicious. After lunch I walk some more. Dinner time comes around 6 or 7 depending on where the nearest water source is. Dinner is usually a Lipton side, with a potato bomb (instant mashed potatos dumped on top) or couscous with tuna. I love dinner.
I will walk a while longer, lately til dark or around 9 pm, set up home for the night in a nice patch of not always flat dirt, and then the whole thing starts again the next day. Its a simple life, and a little gritty at times, but it works for me.
Its only 200 mile from here to Ashalnd, and I'm hoping to make it there in 9 days. Once I get there, I will be taking a few days off and Jessica will be coming to join me for the rest of the trail. I can't wait. At that point, Ishmael, and Furniture will be continuing at there amazing pace to get to Canada before their Fall commitments. I'm really excited that California is almost behind me, having been here for two and a half months already. Time to feel back at home, on some familiar trail.
More to come from Ashland in a short 9 days. Im hoping that I can label all the Flikr photos and do other good stuff like that.
Ishmael and I made it ti Sierra City this morning in time for breakfast. We arrived at the cafe to find Furniture, Bojangles, Lakewood, Clifhanger and Milksheik, and Ed. It was great to see all my friends in town. For breakfast I got biscuits with gravy, hashbrowns, and eggs all on top, with a load of hot sauce. Great morning for sure. Taking the rest of this holiday off to relax, and see some live music in Downieville, and eat pints of Ben and Jerry's, thanks Ed!
For something different, here's a journal entry from one day of this last section.
Woke up today on a damp patch of dirt with the location of the trail unknown. As darkness descended the previous night we thought we had located the path, but as we went that direction this morning it was no where to be found. When I looked at the compass I realized we had been heading west, down a drainage, while we should be going north on a separate ridge. After backtracking, we found a patch of trail, then more snow, but we were headed in the right direction. We bushwhacked for what seemed like hours, knowing we had to meet Macy for lunch 12 miles further ahead and not knowing what we would encounter.
Often we would see short bits of trail, and follow it around a bend, and my heart would again sink as it would be burried. We made it to a south west face, and enjoyed a few miles of mostly clear dirt and mud. Ed caught us just before Highway 40, and we crossed a bit more snow. We made it just in time to meet Macy, who brought us huge burritos and beer, and good distraction from the hard traveling. By the time we left it was 3 pm and we decided to go to the Peter Grubb ski hut, only 7 miles further. It was so nice to get to camp before dark, and have some time to relax a bit, with out feeling rushed. We made dinner and stared at a fire in the wood stove, and had a great sleep in the warm loft. Finally a good day.
The last three weeks have been challenging. Lots of snow, and lots of navigating. I have not been able to post much due to the lack of time in towns and lack of cell service, but here is a bit of a summary of the last 180 miles.
I left left Mammoth late in the afternoon with furniture and Ishmael and immediately made a wrong turn. Just a detour so we could get a few bonus miles. Back on track, we did about eight before dark.
The next day, we did 27 miles over snow, with mostly no trail, and ended a Tuolumne Meadows just before dark. The ten miles into Tuolumne were flat and snow free, and possibly my favorite section of trail yet. As I was blindly wandering the roads here, trying to find the trail, the most amazing trail angel, Tom, pulls up and asks if I need a ride. I got in, got handed a bag of chips, and we drove back to the trail to wait for the fellas. Tom offers to drive us to the little town of Lee Vining for some extra food and ice cream. We got down the hill and bought some supplies, and camped off the highway near town. In the morning Tom took us out for coffee, and we were back to the trail by 9. We had about ten more miles of beautiful snow-free Yosemite hiking, then back up into the slushy.
The days between then and now have been mostly a big blur. I don't much remember all the details, but Ishmael did have a birthday, and I brought libations and rice crispy treats. We passed 1000 miles, and we had to ford some of the coldest scariest rivers I have ever been in. Most of all, we have
been in endless amounts of snow, traveling 2 mph or less, and navigating most of the day with map and compass with no trail to be seen for most of the day.
The hope is that after Donner Pass in 50 more miles, our average elevation drops, and I'm dreaming of more trail than snow.
I have run out of time to really finish this post, but with more frequent power and hopefully cell service in the miles ahead I will be able to update frequently.
Ishmael and I left independence late in the day with bellies as full as we could stuff them. We packed out Subway sandwiches and started back up 3000 feet to Kersarge pass. Rainbow Bright joined us for the night at a beautiful little lake halfway up to the pass. Here we sat by a glowing fire as the air became frigid, and made a plan for the 90 miles to Vermillion Valley Resort. We descided four and a half days would be difficult but it would put us there in the quickest order.
Each day had it's own challenges and intense beauty. This 90 miles was quite possibly the most difficult thing I have ever done and it was thru the most unbelievable landscape. I think this was due to my upset stomach and low calorie intake for the first three days of the section that I struggled. I was having trouble eating anything, especially chocolate chip Cliff Bars which were half of my diet. I will never pack so many of the nasty things again.
We traveled over many passes, most of them around 12,000 feet, all of them blanketed by snow. We averaged about 22 miles a day, for each 13+ hour day. With out Ishmael's encouragement, I would probably still be frozen and hungry somewhere in the mountains. On the fourth day we made it to the side trail for Vermillion Valley Resort on lake Edddison, where we headed in the morning for breakfast and a bit of relief from sliding across snow covered passes. We reached VVR before 8 in the morning, and found Furniture and a pot of coffee waiting for us in the restaurant. It was great to see him again, and hear of his impressive solo journey thru the mountains. We stayed for the day and ate and ate more. I ran an impressive food tab for a less than a 24 hour stay, but it's what my body badly needed.
We left with only 30 miles and 1 pass between us and Mammoth. We had a late start, a cold night, and lot more snow, but we easily made it to Reds Meadow, where the first road we have seen in weeks took us to the first real town since Mojave, over 300 miles earlier.
At the outfitter in Mammoth we met Jill, whose roomate thru-hiked in 2008, and had been thinking about hosting hikers. What great luck we have and what kind people we meet! We had been planning on sleeping in the dirt at the campground, but a warm night in a warm home really makes town much more relaxing.
180 miles to south lake tahoe! Then no more snow..... I hope.
Post from Mission Control in Eugene: Received another card full of pictures (along with a pair of worn out shoes and some other smelly stuff) from Sam earlier this week. Link to new Photos and several videos.
He called this morning from Independence (trail mile 790.2, due East of Fresno). He was in good spirits and anxious to get back onto the trail after a good nights sleep and refueling with a big meal or two.
I'm sitting Independence California, only half way to Vermillion Valley Resort. The last 90 miles have been so amazing, but I have run out of steam and my body has been feeling very weak. As we arrived at the last side trail for an exit from the mountains, Ishmael and I made the choice to hike 9 miles over Kersarge Pass and down to Independence California. As we started over the 11,600 foot pass, the snow began to fall. A warm night in a motel bed and a huge dinner were much needed to rejuvenate my tired body.
Since leaving Kennedy meadows we have crossed flooded streams, summited Mt. Whitney at over 14,400 feet, and passed the highest point on the PCT, Forester Pass, at over 13,000 feet. The nights have been cold, and the days have been tough, but the scenery has been unbelievable. We have another 90 miles to travel over snow before our next resupply, then we will be leaving the ultra high elevations for drier trail.
Me standing on the highest point in the continental US. The Smithsonian hut is in the background. What an amazing place.
I made it to Kennedy Meadows yesterday by 1:30 for a 20 mile day. It was nice to get in early, take a shower and eat and not feel rushed . I worked on my administrative duties for coming 12 days in the snow without resupply, and got all my gear rearranged. I will be leaving here today, in the early afternoon, with an enormous load of food in my pack. I will be traveling with Ishmael, Furniture and Rainbow Bright, and we have to go 180 miles or so before we run ot of food. I'm really excited to be leaving the hot, windy desert, but just a little nervous about keeping a good pace thru the snow.
Sorry this is just a quick one, and no pictures. Can't post from my phone from this lovely mountain town. I'm sending home my memory card today, so in a week there will be many new photos to look at.
Terry is the name of the lovely little trailer we have been living in for the last week. True luxury compared to sleeping on cold dirt in my little tent. She is about 18 feet in length, and 6 and one half foot wide. Sleeps four (not including the family of birds living in the siding) and has a nice vista of baby goats and the Mojave desert.
I have had a great time here. We did a bit of work, mainly hauling weeds out of the orchard and grape field, and helped with some other small projects around the property. The work was really a nice change of daily excercise and I feel very rejuvenated for hiking tomorrow.
We mostly worked in the morning, and used the afternoons for snacking, resting and field trips. Mostly the field trips were town stops for more snacks and other important things. But one day Bill took us on an extreme tour of the desert. He first took us to Red Rock Canyon, an amazing red wall of weather chiseled rock. then a tour of Trona, CA. This is a very interesting little town, and it was worth driving thru. Next came the main event of the road trip.
After driving on a bumpy dirt road, across the hot desert floor, we arrived at Gold Bottom mine . This abandoned mine adventure included entering into darknes through a hole 3 feet wide by 1 foot tall. Then we walked across old wooden beams spanning vertical shafts that disappeared into the inky blackness below. The experience was intensefied by our gear. Little ultralight headlamps work perfectly for night time journaling and bathroom trips, but are about as good as a candle in the wind when it comes to spelunking. So cool. I will be sending home a memory card with photos of this place. There's only a few from the mine but they are really cool.
We returned safely, and none of us will forget our tour with Bill.
Well for dinner tonight is cornbread, baked beans, potatos, and Mojave green rattle snake. Not kidding. We have almost steped on a number of these snakes over the last 100 miles, and every time they try to kill you. So tonight it's our turn.
That's fried snake next to the corn bread and potatos.
It was a really great stay here at the goat farm, and many many thanks to Sheree and Bill, and Lacy for taking us in as family, sharing their farm and dogs and stories with us. This week will definitely stand out as a bright highlight of my trip.
Yesterday the wind was still blowing. Bojangles and I were preparing to hike out, when we descided to find a ride for a slack pack. It turned out there was a section hiker doing the exact 8 miles we wanted to do, and he offered a ride and shuttle. We sat around all morning drinking coffee and doing administrative duties, then around 12:30 we went back to the trail. 8 blustery miles in 2 hours with no pack. I'm going to suggest that people quit building trails next to wind turbines, because it's always windy in those areas.
We got a ride back to the motel 6 and I was mentally drained. I spent the evening waching bad motel TV and went to bed early as the gales kept bending the trees to the ground. This morning, i didn't feel good, and nothing had changed with wind situation, and now there was snow in the hills and it was very cold.
I have been very concerned about the rain forecasted with the wind. My shelter is not built for some of these conditions, and I have been cold sleeping at night as it is. So I got in touch with furniture, ishmale and rainbow bright, who went to work on a nearby farm yesterday. It worked out for me to join them for a few days off. At 3 today I got a bus to Rosmand, 18 miles souh of Mojave. Check it out here: http://www.mariahcountrysoaps.com/index.html
10 day old goats!
Now Im here with my friends, on a property very similar to my amazon acre home In Eugene. I think a few dAys of non hiking will get me excited to go back to home on the trail and let some snow melt in the sierras. Right now The majority of the pack is behind us, so lots of people will catch up and I'm excited to meet a bunch of new hikers when we return.
I will post more farm animal pics as the days go on.
This last section has been a true blur. Flop got us back to the trail I think last Saturday. We were at the start of the fire detour, and had a few miles of trail before 50 miles of road.
It has been really windy and that has been mentally draining. On top of the wind, the road walking really tears up the feet. So I will recap the highlights of the section.
About 3 miles into the road walk there was a yard sale sign. We walked the 1.5 miles off the road to get there, in search of human powered transportation. We came up with 2 Razor scooters. The back wheel of one of them broke in the first mile. But the other was ridden by one person for a few hundred yards, parked, then someone else would jump on for their turn.
Eventually we made it to a junction with fast food .75 miles out of the way. We went to Burger King, and sat there till the sun started to get lower. When it cooled off a bit we moved on. Ishmale, who was a day ahead, had tipped us off to a short cut.
7 of us turned off the highway "onto a dirt road next to the mattresses under the big tree", as our cryptic directions guided. We wound our way along under the powerlines in the dark for a while, 'til 5 of our group stops to camp around mile 9. Furniture and I continued into the darkness, hoping to get to the train tracks where we were supposed to turn left. At 11 pm we stopped for dinner on a hill over looking the train tracks and a huge freeway. We went a bit further and camped under a Joshua tree next to the train depot.
In the morning we walked thru Acton and stopped at the market for fruit and pop tarts. Then we were on 10 miles of hot road to Agua Dulce. It was a tough walk, but we made it by 12. We arrived at the Saufley's home, where they host hikers in their yard and guest house. They also do your laundry! It was a relaxing stay, with lots of good hiker company. They also have 7 dogs and two horses, so I made some new friends:
Bojangles and I left early for 25 miles to the Andersons' home, Casa de Luna. Very rainy and cold day with so much wind. We finished the walk in good time and Terrie Anderson came to pick us up at the ranger station. More trail angels! How wonderful to be invited out of the rain and wind. There were about 12 other hikers there, and we were fed taco salad and had a nice evening relaxing on the sofa. In the morning we had pancakes for breakfast, and a ride to the trail. More rain and wind, and heavy legs.
It was a slow lazy day, about 21 miles to camp. At least the sun came out in the afternoon, but the wind picked up. Another 20 put us at hiker town, a cool old west film set where hikers can stay for a night or two. We sat around in the shelter of the garage till sunset, then started the walk along the California aqueduct at dark. 8 of us left together, the usual crew of Furniture, Ishmale, and Bojangles, as well as SaltyDog, CaveMan, Yellow Bird, and Rainbow Bright.
We finished the aqueduct hike in the morning, then crossed a grassland that involved some of the strongest wind I have ever been in. The kind of wind that I had to push with my poles on the down hill. It was very, very difficult, and the wind resistance made for a slow day. And there were many rattle snakes to help it all. Ewww. We then climbed out of the desert and got a great sleeping spot at about 6200 feet.
Today was an early morning, and an amazing sunrise. Only 10 miles to the road to get to Mohave. We walked along another wind farm, and the turbines were spinning fast. The strongest wind yet. It was a hard walk, but there was breakfast at the end, so it was for a purpose. We got here at 11 and went to the Road House Cafe for biscuits and gravy. Tasted so so good. Might take tomorrow off to let my feet recover a bit from all the pavement, I will see how it feels in the morning. It's 150 miles to Kennedy meadows, the start of the Sierras. I'm very excited for a change of scenery, but it looks like it will be a tough mental game to get there. More hot desert, and high winds predicted. Should be fun! Woo!
Not too sure if I will have cell service in KM but I hear there is a internet cafe, so hopefully I will get in one more post before I hit 10 days snow and wilderness beyond KM.
Hope everyone is well! And thanks for the positive comments! It's so nice to have the support.
As it happened I only had to go 17 miles to meet flop. Because of all the trail closures, due to last years fires, the best spot to meet Flop was only 17 miles from Wrightwood. After half price biscuits and gravy, and chorizo and eggs breakfast yesterday, Susan and Ray gave all 8 of us a ride back to the trail. Packs in the back of the truck, People stuffed into the Trooper. A great 17 mile walk put us at Islip Saddle on Hwy 2, where I was joined by Bojangles, Furniture, and Mike for a day off. We played hacky sack till Flop rolled up within 20 minutes.
There is no roller coaster scary enough to compare to driving on a windy highway at high speeds after walking at max of 3 mph for a few weeks. He had us home to Arcadia in an hour and a half, and we all got in the hot tub right away. Today we all slept in till 6 am then planned our day. The itinarary today included grocery shopping, thrift store, post office, In-n-Out burger, and REI. Oh, and more hot tub.
New hiking style: matching tear-away pants from Goodwill, as modeled by Furniture and Mike.
We finished all the errands by 2, and made it back to the hot tub and have been relaxing ever since. Flop is cooking on the grill tonight, and it is smelling so good! Can't wait to see what he's creating. I did see some corn go by! Woot!
Im looking forward to getting back to the trail in the morning, and only about 3 days to Agua Dulce. We have about 50 miles of road walking on the way, but it shouldn't be too bad.
Flop has been the best host, and it has been great spending time with him again. Thanks so much for your kindness Flop, it's been memorable, and the best zero by far!
Sam sent an SD card home with 100 or so images on it and asked that I post it. I added a few from when Cindy and I were at ADZPCTKO with him and posted them on Flickr here. He has added captions to several of them.
Sunday morning I woke up at the Big Bear Hostel, went to IHOP with Jim and Bojangles, then waited for our ride to he trail. We got picked up at 8 by a yellow World War II Soviet Union truck that sat 8 people. Here were 6 of us, headed to 3 different spots on he trail. The ride started thru town, then the highway, then when we got near the trail, we hit the dirt jeep roads. 4 wheelin' in the morning is my favorite. Bojangles and I were the last to be dropped off, so we got an hour and a half ride in the sweetest 4x4 truck ever. The driver I think was mostly trying to scare us all by driving across the steepest embankments he could find. It was a great off road journey, and I was laughing the whole time.
Bojangles and I got back to the trail at 9:30 and continued a very good morning. It was a little up and mostly gentle down for the whole hike. In the afternoon, there was a very dark cloud descending on us, so we were moving quickly to a trail head with a picnic shelter to sleep under. Turns out it made for a 32 mile day. We arrived after dark, cooked dinner, and the sky became perfectly clear.
Monday was a good except for my right shin hurt real bad all day. 10 miles put me at Deep Creek hotsprings, and a good soak seemed to help my body recover from the previous day. Another 8 or so miles got me to the end of the canyon and a strange dam with no water on either side. Just a small stream going right thru the middle turbine. The trail went right across the top of a huge spillway, then I had to ford the river directly above the turbine intake. What a weird spot it was. I soon got to a trailhead, and took a long break and a short nap. Soon Tooth Fairy and Hot Mess came along, and Bojangles right after. The wind was blowing very hard, and around 6 we found a sheltered place to cook dinner. After we ate the wind continued to gust, and we found a campsite off the hill within an hour. I got my tent up, crawled in, and the wind blew it over. So in the dark I got 6 of the biggest rocks I could mannage, and plopped them right on the tent pegs. Just as I was a moment from sleep, again I heard the sound of nylon violently ripping out of the ground. I opened my eyes to the clear night sky with no more tent. Once again I retrived my bits and this time I just staked the tent flat to the ground, and crawled under it like a sheet. In the morning I had a layer of ice on my bag, but I was cozy.
Tuesday was a nice 20 miles to Cajon Pass where there is a McDonalds .4 miles from the trail. I haven't had McDonalds for a very long time, but it seemed like a good idea. They have a list of nutrition facts on the back of the peice of paper that comes on your food tray. It has the calories of all the items on the menu. I'm not gonna say all of what I ate, cuz it makes me feel sick, but it added up to 6000 calories. Yummm!
After passing under the interstate in Cajon Pass, the pct is temporarily rerouted because of a fire from last year. Bojangles and I did the first seven miles of the reroute feeling very heavy and a little queazy. Then we ended at the Apple White Campground, where we did not cook dinner, and just went to bed.
Today was the rest of the reroute on paved and dirt roads for 8 miles then back on the trail. I felt great hiking today. It was a huge climb today, pretty much going up and up for 25 miles. I put on the iPod and listened to Yonder for most of the walk. With 8 miles to go for the day I hit lots and lots of snow. It really slowed me down, but I still ended up in town by 3. I found Furniture and Ishmel, and we went to the store and sat out front eating fruit and cookies and ice cream bars for a couple hours. Tonight I'm staying with some local trail angels, and we're watching Star Wars before bed.
I will only be going about 40 miles, then my friend Flop will pick me up for a zero day his house in Arcadia. I can say this last 110 mile section was my most comfortable and fun yet.
Last Tuessday, after a day of rest, my leg still hurt. But biscuits and gravy first thing in the morning got me back to the trail. Along with Jim, Charlie, and Furniture, I got a ride back to the trail head, and prepared for a day in the snow. We walked 2.5 miles up hill back to the PCT where our Mt. San Jacinto and Fuller Ridge traverse started. The day began with complete snow coverage, then a couple miles of dry trail, then tons more snow and route finding. As we were a bit lost for a moment, Robbie, who hiked last year, caught us and we found the trail again for a short bit. Then it was back to snow navigation and very slow travel. My left quad was still hurting quite badly by the end of the day, so I was very grateful for a warm night, over looking Palm Springs to the east. It took about 9 hours to travel 12 miles, it was really tough, but I'm glad I didn't miss the section of trail.
Wednesday started with a waterless 15 mile descent from 8000 feet to about 2700 feet. And it was hot. I made it on less than 3 quarts of water and was very dehydrated at the end. There was a water fountain at the bottom, put in by the local utility company for PCT users. 6 of us huddled behind a small rock for the only shade around.
After trying to drink water and get down lunch, which the heat was making hard to stomach, Furniture and I were on our way again. 5 miles across hot, sandy, and amazingly windy desert. When surrounded by wind turbines you know its not gonna be a great place for calm walking conditions.
We went under Interstate 10 then started back into he mountains. We passed the Mesa Wind farm, and descided to go 6 more miles for a 30 mile day. When we got to the Whitewater River at mile 30.5, I sat in the river, washed my clothes and watched the sun set.
Thursday was my toughest day yet. Hot! I'm not so good at hot. On top of that, we walked up a creek in a recently burned box canyon. My feet were wet, then sand got in there, then they got hot, then I started to get blisters. This happened over and over as we crossed the creek 23 more times. It felt like at least 95 degrees and the water tasted slimy, so more dehydration was happening. When I left the creek it was a steep few 5 miles up to the pine trees and more snow on the trail. Furniture and I cooked dinner at 5:30 and started on the trail again by 6. We wanted to get as close as possible to Big Bear to get to the post office before they closed the next day. We encountered more snow, and it was steady 'til sunset, when we finally hit a dirt road with a flat spot to sleep. It has never felt so good to lay down.
Friday was sore feet for 20 miles into Hwy 18 then a hitch into town. Furniture and I made it to the Highway by 1:15 and got a hitch to town pretty quickly. It was straight to the post office for a new pack, warmer clothes, and my guidebook pages for the next 200 miles. And a nice lady named Martha gave me a candybar! After the PO we hitched across town to the Laundromat then a supermarket for resupply, and we found a 5 dollar footlong sub that was so big, two of us couldn't finish it.
Today I said goodby to Furniture and Ishmel as they headed back to the trail and I'm taking the day off. It has been great walking with them, and I hope to see them again up the trail soon. I got a breakfast burrito at the cafe with Jim and Lakewood, then headed back to the Big Bear Lake hostel. What a great relaxing day it has been sitting in clean clothes on the sofa by the lake.
I will leave here tomorrow for the 109 miles to Wrightwood. About 40 miles from here is a hot spring just off the trail. I'm planing to spend an afternon there, and I can't wait!
I sent the memory card from my camera home today. So soon you will all be able to see many good pictures and videos of the first 265 miles of my pct hike.
Last night I spent a nice amount of time writing a great post for this blog. I took a moment to step away, then returned to see that what I had written had self destructed. Gone. So this time might not be well written or detailed, but I will remember to save as I go. I'm sitting at a picnic table in Idyllwild, eating a large cheese pizza and drinking a chocolate malt. Today I'm taking a zero day. Zero mileage, to let a very sore quadricep recover from steep climbs and descents. Saturday and Sunday were very difficult, and I think it took a bit of a toll on my legs. Saturday started with a climb from around 5000 feet up to 8000. Then lots of steep up and downs ranging from 500 to 800 vertical. The PCT is supposed to be graded for equestrian and stock travel, but I sure would not want to ride on a horse through there.
The San Jacintos are the highest peaks in California south of the Sierras, and the heavy snow year is making for travel at the higher elevations very difficult. Late saturday, after a very cold break for dinner, we hit he first bad snow on the north face of Apache Peak at around 8000 feet. For only about 100 yards the trail was coverd by hard pack icy snow. We were on a very steep slope, at least 50 degrees down to the east. It was only about an hour till dark and it was very windy. And getting cold. We opted to go down the slope below the snow field. After we made it around the snow the going got much easier and safer. We traversed a bit more snow the found a shelterd nook to pitch in as the wind whiped by at at least 30mph.
Yesterday, we hit the worst of it. Much less risk, but lots more snow. We had only eight miles to the spur trail that would take us to town. It took five hours, and it took us two of thoes hours to do the last two miles. There was no dry trail to be seen, so it was mostly map and compas navigation. Aside from my leg hurting terribly with every step, I enjoyed the challange.
I really hope taking today off will be enough rest to make it to Big Bear without muscle pain. Tomorrow Furniture and Charlie and I have a ride back to the trail at 7:00 am. Most the hikers in town will be taking a road walk around this section, or skipping it all together. I think it will be great to see this bit of trail, and I will have good company to go through it with. I Also have a new pack and down pants waiting in Big Bear. Can't wait to be comfy and warm next week.