Sunday, May 30, 2010

Goodby Terry.

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.

Fiona and chicks

Hershy and I

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mojave and back to mojave

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:

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.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Islip saddle to Mohave. Mile 500something

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.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wrightwood to Islip pass.

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!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Link to pics

Posting by mission control in Eugene:

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.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Big Bear to Wrightwood. 109 mi in 4 days

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.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Idyllwild to Big Bear (mile 265, that's 10%! )

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.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Warner springs to Idyllwild pics

Cookin at trail angel Mike Herrera's house

Hikers Oasis water cache

Dinner time on table mountain

This is one of the easier snow crossings, I didn't get the phone out for pics on the hard ones.

Lunch in Idyllwild. Woo burritos!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Warner Springs to Idyllwild. Woot!

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.

Pictures are coming soon!