Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 32 - 40

Note: I forgot to mention that I have a trail name ---- Easy A ----

Day 32: PCT miles 566 to 590

Had to say goodbye to Lori today but not before going to the German bakery one last time. We had agreed to meet some hikers there to give them a ride to the trailhead as well.

At the trailhead

The morning clouds looked ominous but the temperature was cool and excellent for hiking. After a farewell to Lori, the four of us began the trail into the mountains. After climbing for a while to around 6000 feet the trail leveled off and we made excellent time. We had 17 miles to the next water, which was much better than the 35 I thought I would have to do.

A brisk breeze kept us moving but there were a couple of nice breaks to stretch and eat down some of our food bags. I was amazed at how much food Cheese packed, an impressive variety of goodies.

Cheese and Kyle

After a nice break at the water source, I decided to hike a couple more hours. Need to meet Lori in Lone Pine in seven days. One positive thing did happen, thanks to help from Jacob, I was able to get a deal on a pack from HMG which I hope will be more comfortable than what I currently have. In exchange for a nice discount, I need to write a review of the pack on my blog. I think that is more than fair.

Day 33: PCT miles 590 to 616

The day started out brisk and cool with thick clouds on the mountains. I had to pull out my umbrella as I walked up into the cloud layer, it was mostly mist but over time its easy to get wet.

Good hiking weather, cool enough that I didn't want to stop walking. I think this may be the last day in the land of windmills, I will be happy to get out of this windy area. But I can't complain, this section is known for being hot and dry but right now it is quite cool. That means less water to carry.

Young Oak walking into the mist

600 miles!

After a lunch break at a spring, I continued another 14 miles. Passed through some beautiful forests as well as one of my favorite parts of the trail so far. There was a two mile stretch of dead trees that looked like a skeletal forest with all these purple lupines blooming. I had to stop for a while, just to enjoy the scenery.

Day 34: PCT miles 616 to 641

A wonderful day today, again I am blessed with cool weather in the desert. There was even a brief shower, so that I pulled out my umbrella. I found a little trail magic as I climbed into the hills, some lovely person left a beer by the trail. Nothing like a breakfast beer to make the day even better!

Not normally a PBR fan, but hey its all about the timing

I had some issues with my cell phone reception, it indicates that I have coverage but actually does not. Frustrating and I am not the only one with this problem, I bumped into Thor and Ferntoe again, they were having the same issue.

Camped in a burn area tonight, thick thorny shrubs dominate. But there are nice flat areas to be found. Camping alone but Young Oak from Brittany is nearby.

Day 35: PCT miles 641 to 665

It rained last night. I had planned on sleeping under the stars but as soon as I was in my bag I started to feel drops. I hastily set up my tarp and put everything under it. The tarp is not large but it all fit. I fell asleep to the patter of raindrops.

Because some of my things were damp, I had a slow start and was not on the trail until seven. The first 10 miles down to Walker Pass were downhill and went fast. There was some trail magic at the campground and I ended up staying for close to two hours.

Nice trail magic at Walker Pass

With the late start and long break, it was difficult to do the 25 miles I had planned before dark. Had to climb right back up 2000 feet then drop back down again to reach the spring. After cooking dinner and filtering water, I hiked a little further until I came to a nice campsite with a view of the sunset. There is supposed to be a meteor shower tonight, I probably won't be able to stay awake long enough to see it. One thing is for sure, I get so tired that sleep comes early and easily.

Day 36: PCT miles 665 to 693

Lots of up and down today. Slow going on the uphill but fast going down. Not so far between water sources, 5 miles in the morning and then 10 miles to the second and 13 to the third. This is the last time I will need the water report. After today water should be plentiful. I don't think I will need to carry more than 2 liters for a while.

Made it to Kennedy Meadows, gateway to the Sierras. I am pretty excited to have made it through the desert. I really enjoyed the desert section. It was more beautiful than I expected but I am ready for the Sierras.

view coming down into Kennedy Meadows

I will stop off at the Kennedy Meadows store tomorrow to pick up my resupply, maybe I can get a shower too! Then it is off to meet Lori in Lone Pine.

Day 37: PCT miles 693 to 716

Today was a very productive day. The first 11 miles went slower than usual but that seems to be the case whenever getting to a resupply point.

Most people spend the night at Kennedy Meadows but I was in and out in two hours. In that time I took a shower, drank two beers, organized and packed my resupply box, ate and caught up with a few people who I hadn't seen for a while.

Then it was back on the trail and heading into the mountains. I am camped with a few people near the Kern river tonight.

Day 38: PCT miles 716 to 741

The campsite was splendid, tucked in amongst the trees, a little uphill from the river. Sites like this are perfect as the trees keep the condensation off and the colder air sinks down the hill. The morning was misty and beautiful. I hiked the six miles to water and filtered a couple liters. The next mine brought me to the second water, a small creek, where I had lunch and a short nap.

I am sure this person was very wet in the morning from condensation

a new flower I have not seen yet

I walked another 10 miles and the trail brought me up above 10,000 feet. Climbing at this altitude is more challenging but I must have had a lot of endorphins going through me as I felt elated and happy. At one point there was a view down to a valley 5000 feet below me.

Found a nice campsite near water with some other hikers and fell asleep fast, around 8:30.

Day 39: PCT miles 741 to 745

Trying to get to Lone Pine today to meet Lori and resupply. I decided to go down to Horseshoe Meadows campground to hitch a ride. I had heard it might be difficult as it is not a busy road. Been waiting for a while now and I have only seen two cars going the wrong direction. This might be a long day.

... Waited about an hour and a half for a ride. Fortunately, the one car to pass stopped to give me a ride. Got into Lone Pine by 10 am and had all my errands done by 1:00. Ate, washed clothes, showered at the hostel, picked up my new pack at the post office, and called Lori. Since we had a room booked in Bishop and I had time to kill, I decided to hitch the 40 miles so Lori didn't have to drive down to get me. A nice Canadian couple from Ontario picked me up and it was a nice drive. In Bishop, I got a few things at the outfitters, including new shoes. I have been pretty happy with the Brooks Cascadias, 800 miles on them and they still look good. But, I can feel every twig and and stone when I walk and my feet are getting more sore everyday. The new shoes feel very cushy, I sized up a half size so my feet have grown one full size since I started this trip, I wonder if they will shrink back when I am done?

Out with the old and in with the new

Day 40: PCT miles (0)

Had a nice zero day today with Lori, we slept in, went for coffee then hit up Shatz bakery, which is a pretty well known place in Bishop. I stuffed my face with pastries and bought a pound cake for the trail, I'm really excited about that!

We visited the Mountain Light Gallery, I always visit when I am in Bishop. It is the photo gallery started by Galen Rowell and always has amazing and inspiring photography. Good timing to get some inspiration before heading into the Sierras. After that we drove to Lone Pine where we went to a film museum. There have been hundreds of films shot in this area and it was cool to see some of the props and set pieces as well as get a little bit of the history of the place.

I also packed up my new pack, it is much larger than the previous one but more importantly, I think it will be much more comfortable. Hopefully, because I have 20 pounds of food to carry out of here.

Since Lori does not need to be back in Davis until Saturday and because we will not see each other for 3 months, I am taking another zero day tomorrow. Not sure what we will do but we plan on camping at the trailhead, which is at around 10000 feet elevation. Hopefully, Lori will be ok with the altitude.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 25 - 31

Day 25: PCT miles (0)

Took a full day off today at Hiker Heaven. It's funny, I have to force myself to not hike and take it easy. I guess I need to be doing something and sitting around gets old. But I did manage to take care of a bunch of small repairs that needed doing as well as purchase food for the next section and figure out my route. There is a detour because of the Powerhouse fire last year that cuts out 50 miles of trail. Instead I have 20 miles of road walking so a net loss of 30 miles which makes this next section shorter than I had anticipated. As I am meeting Lori in Tehachapi on Sunday, I do not want to leave too early. So I will spend another half day here and leave in the evening. The moon is just past full and the days are hot and dry, a good time to try out some night hiking. We will see how it goes but I think if I can manage to hike from 5pm to 10 or 11 and then from 5 am to 10 or 11, with a mid day siesta, it might work out nicely.

Day 26: PCT miles 454 to 471

Finally managed to escape the vortex that is Hiker Heaven. I was starting to get stir crazy but wanted to wait until closer to the evening to start. I plan on hiking more in the evening and early morning to avoid the heat of the day.

Left Hiker Heaven at 3:30, got a final meal at the Sweetwater Cafe and headed out into the heat. It was a warm climb until the sun went down and then it was the perfect temperature for hiking. Switched on my headlamp and kept going. My plan had been to hike by moonlight but there was too much brush on the trail to see without a headlamp. There was also a ton of poison oak, so it was the old game of dodge the poisonous plant, this time in the dark.

Made it the 17 miles to a water cache and crashed for the rest of the night.

Day 27: PCT miles 471 to some random campsite.

Due to a fire last year, 50 miles of the PCT are closed and there is an alternate route that bypasses this burn area. Most people seem to be hitching the 20 mile road walk but I felt the need to walk it and so that is what I did.

But before that, I spent the afternoon resting at Casa de Luna, a place run by a couple of trail angels, The Anderson's. It is known as a party place and there were some festivities. I rested as best I could and headed out for the road walk around 4 pm. Eight miles in, there is a small town where I stopped for a burger.

oh yeah..

Jambo, Slack and Spiritfingers cooking up some dogs

People have been very friendly and I met quite a few new people at dinner. Also, as I was walking down the road, many people wave to me. After dinner and a few more miles, I found a flat spot off the side of the road and slept surprisingly well.

You get the idea

Day 28: Random campsite to mile 535

After an amazingly good sleep, I finished up the last 11 miles of road walking. By 9 am I made it to Hikertown for some water and shade.

Hikertown is a pretty odd place but it was interesting as well. It is made up of miniature buildings that make up the town. Hikers can spend the night in these buildings (but they are rather dirty). I was only there to rest for a few hours until it started to cool off in the afternoon. I left around 4 and there was a nice breeze to keep things cool. It hadn't really been that hot but I needed the rest anyways.

The trail follows the Los Angeles aquaduct for many miles and it wasn't until after dark that I found the water cache at mile 535. This is located right in the middle of a wind farm and the sound of the windmills spinning lulled me to sleep.

the Aquaduct

Windmills at night

Day 29: PCT miles 535 to 558

It was really cool walking through the wind farm in the morning. The windmills are so huge. I accidentally spilled all my water out early in the morning and had a thirsty few miles until the next water at Tyler Horse Canyon. Then it was a hot, exposed climb that seemed to take forever. Went through another burned area, I actually enjoy these because of the proliferation of wildflowers. There was a beautiful carpet of tiny flowers all over the hillsides.

I made it down to the road where I will hitch into Tehachapi in the morning. Excited to meet Lori.

Day 30: PCT miles (0)

Hitched into town early in the morning and had breakfast at Henry's diner. Town food always tastes so good. Did laundry and checked into the hotel where Lori had a reservation for us. Lori arrived in the afternoon and we went for sushi. I was ridiculously happy at the restaurant. I kept saying, "Now I can die happy" and I think Lori might have thought I went off the deep end. Needless to say, it was a good day.

Day 31: PCT miles 558 to 566

Slept in until 7:30, in a real bed! I wanted to slack pack the 8 miles between roads so that I wouldnt have to do it later with a heavy pack. Lori joined me for the walk beneath more windmills, of course, it was windy. Then it was time to do errands, I had a box to ship of the post office and supplies to purchase at the local grocery store. Lori got to meet some of the hikers I have been around for the past couple of weeks and I think she enjoyed herself. We went to a German bakery not once but twice because it was so good. I plan on going again tomorrow morning early, before hitting the trail.

I am not looking forward to this next section. There are some long (35+ miles) waterless stretches and that means carrying a lot of water. My pack is full to bursting and I really don't want to carry it. But this is the last test, the final exam so to speak, of the desert. After this comes the Sierras and plenty of water. My plan is to hike big miles and get through this as fast as possible, hopefully my body will cooperate.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Day 14 - 24

Didn't get a chance to update the blog until today, no worries all is good, ahead of schedule and under budget.

Day 14: PCT miles 268 to 275

Woke up excited, it's always exciting when going into town. I hiked a fast 7 miles to the trailhead, where I was supposed to call Papa Smurf for a ride. Unfortunately, there was no cell reception and I ended up walking another 2.5 miles down Van Dusen road until I could make the call.

After getting picked up I went to the post office to pick up my resupply box. It was here, while waiting in line, that I realized how bad I smelled. It is not that noticeable when outdoors but in an enclosed space with other people, not so pleasant. I was pretty happy to get a shower and laundry done.

The trail angels house has a very relaxed (unorganized) atmosphere. But it is great for resting up and getting ready for the next section. As the house is outside of the town of Big Bear a little bit there are not many distractions. This is both nice and frustrating as we have to rely on the angels to drive us anywhere.

I am now well fed and mostly rested up, I could probably use another day off but I am getting antsy to move on. The next resupply is in Wrightwood, about 95 miles and I plan to do it in 4 days.

Day 15: PCT miles 275 to 293

A late start had me on the trail by 10:00 am. Thor and Ferntoes offered me to stay and talk with them. I really wanted to but felt like I needed to get walking, there is a strong pull to keep moving north.

The day was beautiful and I really enjoyed the walk. Stopped for lunch at a small stream after 10 miles. I downloaded the entire first audio book in the Game of Thrones trilogy, so the last half of the day went very fast. I am actually camped alone tonight, I believe this is my first time camping alone since I started the PCT. It is a really nice spot with a small waterfall. 

Going to pass the Deep Creek hot springs tomorrow, I will not get in. I have an aversion to crowded hot springs and this one is very popular.

Day 16: PCT miles 293 to 317

Another great day today. It definitely feels like I  am entering a more desert like environment. The soil is coarse and sandy while the plants are more sparse and tough. The air is dry and I tried breathing through my nose to conserve moisture.

I did follow Deep Creek for most of the day. I also avoided the hot springs, there were lots of people and it felt strange to be around so many.

Towards the end of the day I had a little trail magic. Coppertone (class of 2006) was parked near a road crossing and making root beer floats for hikers. It was really nice and the timing was perfect, a little extra energy to hike the last few miles before it got dark. Looking forward to tomorrow but there is a chance of rain tomorrow night.


Doggy Grave

Day 17: PCT miles 317 to 341

Slept really well last night and had another great day. Walked around Silverwood Lake and slowly made my way north. Water is getting a lot scarcer, there is none for the next 22 miles. I will tank up in the morning at McDonalds and aim for the next water source just out of Wrightwood.

Speaking of McDonalds, although I am not normally a fan, when it is basically right on the trail, I must indulge. I strategically camped so that I can hit it up for both dinner and breakfast. Dinner was a 2000 calorie extravaganza, hopefully I won't regret it tonight.

Third night in a row camped alone, a little company would be nice but I seem to be between waves of people. There is one guy I keep running into, I've dubbed him O.C. (original crankster) because of his lame attitude. Won't be camping near him tonight.
Section C is officially done.

Day 18: PCT miles 341 to 364

After a big calorie breakfast at McD's with Ambassador and Timon I climbed up into the mountains near Wrightwood. It was a long day, with 5000 feet of elevation gain. I hiked right into the clouds where it was cold and started snowing. Made it the 24 miles into Duffy campground a little before dark. Very cold night, slept with my water filter so it wouldn't freeze.

I hiked into those clouds

Day 19: PCT miles 364 to 370

Nero day in Wrightwood and I had an excellent breakfast at the Grizzly Cafe. Met a triple crowner (hiked the AT, PCT and CDT) today named Wilderness Bob. He gave me a tip for a place to stay and now I am in a beautiful little cabin for the night. The woman who runs the place gives PCT hikers a fabulous deal to stay. I can't believe how nice it is and only costs 25$. I think it will be hard to leave tomorrow but I will at least sleep in for once.

View from Guffy Campground

second time I have been snowed on this trip

Bear with Us

inside the Man Cave

Day 20: PCT miles 370 to 384

It was hard to leave town today. As I sat eating lunch, other hikers I have come to know would stop by and chat. Nobody was in a hurry to leave. After a slightly frustrating hitch back to the trailhead, I was hiking by 1 pm. The trail took me up Mt. Baden-Powell. I made the short side trail to the summit where there is a monument to the founder of the Boy Scouts, Lord Baden-Powell. 14 miles later I am at Little Jimmy campground, very tired and ready to sleep.

monument on top of Baden-Powell

Day 21: PCT miles 384 to 407

On the trail by 6:30 today. There was a detour to protect an endangered frog. The section of trail that is closed is 4 miles and there are 2 detour options: a 20 mile loop or a 5 mile with some road walking. Pretty easy choice for me, I took the 5 mile option.

mile 400!

400.1 (hiker humor)

Ended up camping at Sulphur Springs and I was the only thru-hiker there. I was a little surprised since there is not much water in the area and usually that is where hikers congregate. But I did meet some nice guys that were out camping for the night. They gave me beer, tequila and sausages, everything a hiker needs.

Day 22: PCT miles 407 to 427

Spent much of the day dodging poodle dog bush. What is poodle dog bush you ask? I had never heard of it either, until I started researching the PCT. Imagine if poison oak and poison ivy had a demonic love child, that is poodle dog bush. The good news is that not everyone is sensitive to it. The bad news is that nobody wants to find out because the rash is so bad.

This part of the trail has a lot of poodle dog bush as it is one of the early colonizers of burned areas. Once bushes and trees start to shade the hillsides it will go away. But for now, I and my fellow hikers perform all sorts of contortions as we hike to avoid this annoying plant.

Poodle Dog bush on the trail

Day 23: PCT miles 427 to 451

Last night started out warm but by morning a stiff, cold wind came in. Spent the morning hiking through the wind, I clocked gusts as high as 40 mph. Once down off the mountains it did get much calmer. In fact, it started to get quite hot and I was wishing for some more breeze.

They are well camouflaged

Headed into Agua Dulce tomorrow, looking forward to shower, laundry and food. There are trail angels there who take in hikers and their place is called Hiker Heaven. I may spend a couple days there to recover and prepare for the next section. I think this next week will be the most difficult so far.

monument to completion of PCT

Day 24: PCT miles 451 to 454

Short hike into Agua Dulce this morning, passed through Vazquez Rocks and stopped off at the Sweetwater Cafe for breakfast. I am now at Hiker Heaven and it truly is heavenly. Very organized, clean and relaxing. I plan to spend today and tomorrow here resting, eating and preparing for the Mojave desert.

They got attitude in Agua Dulce
Hiker Heaven (very well organized)

Hiker Heaven
Animals seen so far:

Rabbits: lost count
Random lizards: tons
Rattlesnakes: 3
Other snakes: 9
Desert horned lizard: 4
Random birds: many
Ground squirrels: lost count
Ticks: 3 (2 on me)
Coyote: 1
Deer: 7
Tarantula: 1 (it was dead though)