What Follows is the Unedited and Uncut Journal straight from my 2011 Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike. Enjoy!
Why I’d Doing it
Why is the real question associated with hiking the Pacific Crest trail. Encountering almost every type of weather is unavoidable and must be dealt with using only what is on your back. But on the flip side it is only walking, the same thing our ancestors did. I am walking the length of this trail to get out of the real world, enjoy the nature that we still have left on the west coast, do something that I have always wanted to do, and also to hopefully along the way figure out which direction I want to go with my life.
At 11:03 PST my journey began. I briefly entered Mexico an avoided border patrol and then began walking. I wouldn’t have even made it this far without the help of Allie for giving me my ride out to the border. The first ten miles of hiking flew by. Even in the heat of the day I made good time. The next ten miles were a different story. They were all about figuring out a system for the rest of the trip. I figured out my water, food and how to get my feet good enough to walk on. I have to thank my mom for the idea of no cook meals on the first leg of my journey. It made less stuff to mess around with and saved me lots if time. My first meal on the journey was beans salsa and chips and it was delicious. The day ended on a ridge overlooking Morena lake. With twenty miles under my belt I am starting to figure things out. I saw bikers of all shapes and sizes and surprisingly even some guys with heavier packs than me. They were carrying 70 pounds. The only animals seen were a snake many lizards and rabbits and some huge beetles. Well that about sums up the first day. I mean it’s only walking.
I rose with the sun today and began my second day on this adventure. It was a rough one. My feet were hurting the whole time, it was hot and there was lots of climbing up ridges. But even with all that it was amazing. There is no other way to describe it. Tonight I am camped on the tallest ridge around and watching the sunset from here is surreal.
Today I saw many lizards, birds and some giant beetles. It was also the first time I had to fight off a snake for rights to the trail. The food today was unique: cold mashed potatoes and taboulli. It was nothing I could complain about it was just nothing compared to home cooking.
The plan for tomorrow is to walk.
Day three-the desert
The day began perfectly, nice and cool so I could really get through some good miles early. Not too far into it I made it to mt laguna campground and decided to get a gatoraide from the store. Mostly just to be assured that I would have enough water. From there my day became filled with great things: I met great people, endured great pain, walked through great wind, and even witnessed a great race. There happened to be a 50 mile trail race going on during the exact section I happened to be hiking today. The minor hassle with all of the runners was well worth it. At the aide stations they gave me whatever I wanted, so I scarfed down lots of chips and oranges. And even the runners were great. Even when I moved aside for them the majority of them would stop and wait for me saying things like “your a through hiker, it’s your trail”. There course was an out and back all on the pct so I got to talk to all hundred or so of them a couple times each.
Next, I met a man and a woman who were section hiking. They were very nice, helpful, and when they made it to their camp they actually showed me where a trail angel had left hikers water and oranges. My first trail angel experience.
The next great person I met was I believe named Eric from San Diego (I may be wrong, due to the fact he woke me from my midday nap). It was good though, I needed to eat. Eric was real nice and we talked for quite a while about everything from the trail to the nearby desert to even Oregon. In the end he was actually interested in following my blog!
Lastly, I met a lady cleaning up the race who I chatted with for a while about the weather and snow conditions. As I thought yesterday there was a possibility of thunderstorms. At one point I even put my pack cover on. All the time during my hike it was VERY windy, crossing one of the roads after pioneer picnic area I was walking sideways. Again I wanted to camp on a ridge so it is a bit windy here. As for food today, I ate tons of trail mix and then some more dehydrated beans and salsa. This one would not rehydrate very well, so it was mediocre at best.
It was amazing to see how the land could change so quickly. I started out on rocky hills with a few shrubs, then a nice meadow with a stream running through it. Then the pine trees near laguna campground followed by the laguna mountains along the anza borrega desert. An now I am camped on a ridge past the desert covered in shrubs with huge boulders randomly spaced.
Day 4-wet and windy
The day started out with me waking up in a cloud and freezing. I got my stuff together real quick and began my day of walking all bundled up. The wind was howling all around to make it even more miserable. About 6 miles in, and after I had taken my mid morning break for my granola breakfast, I saw a fellow through hiker Jim. He was just picking up his camp and we didn’t chat long. After miles and miles of walking a trail that cut into ridges and still in the terrible wind I made it to a truck road where lots of people were shooting. It definitely had a way of ruining the mood, with hearing those gunshots. After that I pushed real hard through more clouds and the constant drizzle that continued most of the day until I finally arrived at the scissors crossing cache. This is where a trail angel has left a lot of water for all the hikers. At this time due to a temporary dry 3rd gate cache, this is the only water for the next 24 miles. I was extremely tired after already putting in around 18 miles and took a much needed extended break for a dinner of jalapeño humas and crushed chips. It may sound bad but it was actually probably the best meal of the trip so far. After filling all my water bottles I pushed real hard a couple more miles up the side of the mountains that enclosed the desert. I ended my day as it was getting dark, and thankfully with no more clouds. I camped in a dried waterfall that is out of the intense wind for the most part. My total today was 21! I had been hoping to catch up to matt from Georgia tech but after looking at the sign in sheet at the water cache, it appears he is a few miles ahead. I may try and catch some others though, as it looks like many people came by here yesterday. That’s it for now. No service so il post it in the morning
Day 5-the hills have snakes
I woke up on the ridge in the San Felipe hills in the frigid cold and howling wind. From here it was 21.1 miles to the next water and that is where I had to make it. Along the way the views were amazing. Views of the desert, mountains, and hills around the anza borrega desert were astonishing. During my day of scaling rocky faces and traversing along foot wide ridges, I saw all kinds if animals. I saw three different snakes: a juvenile rattlesnake(1 foot long), a yellow racer (3 feet long) and another that I could not identify. There were also tons of desert toads. My feet hurt bad today, but even so I reached my goal and camped at barrel springs. Tomorrow it is on into Warner springs for hopefully lunch and a box of food. The 50 pounds that I am carrying on my back does not seem as bad, and I may be able to drop a little more weight in town (then gain it back in food il carry). The idea (thanks to my dad) of a solar charger has worked great for being able to keep a daily blog and pictures going. The only real hold up has been the service has been very spotty so it can be tough to post. After a long day i ate enchilada casserole Cooked over one of the few Campfire pits I have seen. This one at barrel springs. Hopefully tomorrow I can either pick up esbit or alcohol for my stove to have some more cooked meals!
Made it to Warner springs in the pouring rain. I also got both my packages and got a real heavy pack.
Last night real late another hiker named Andrew came in and stayed at barrel springs with me. Then in the middle of the night I woke up to rain and rushed outside with no glasses or contacts on and had to throw the tarp over my tent. It kept me dry enough for the night. Andrew and I both slept in trying to wait out the rain. But no dice. I then walked the ten miles into the town of 203 people:Warner springs. It was an interesting walk in. I was in my rain gear from head to toe but still everything got wet. My shoes were soaked and weighed a ton. Along the way I passed the famous eagle rock and then walked right through some kind of cow farm. They were all up and down the trail for around 400 yards. Who knew a cow could be a little intimidating. When I would lock eyes with them as I squeezed through them they seemed to be letting me know how much bigger they were than me and that I better not piss them off.
Then I finally arived in Warner springs and went straight to the post office and picked up another 14 pounds of food. And I thought my pack was heavy before. Now it must be well over 50 and even more when all my waters are filled. After getting that and some esbit for my stove I went to the golf course resort clubhouse to eat(one of two places to eat in town and they are never open at the same time). There I met micaya who was a section hiker with way too heavy of a pack and too much gear for the only 200 or so miles he was planning on. He had been in town a few days already. He said i could use his room to shower and dry my stuff out and even stay the night if I wanted to. So after my Berger, extra fries, house salad, and 3 cokes I headed up to his room at the resort. I dried all my stuff and got a GREAT shower. About the time my stuff got dry I saw the sun coming out so I decided to get some miles in before the predicted rainstorms of tonight and tomorrow on into Wednesday. So I got six or so more miles in and am camped on top of the most awesome ridge about trail mile 116.
In the town I met lots of other hikers and most had been staying there a couple of days. This is partly why I wanted to move on and not end up staying a couple days and also to save some money in order to afford my 15 plus dollar meals when I get into towns. I guess I burn lots of calories. In town I saw matt from georgia again and he knew the scoop on the snow at the higher elevations and relayed it to me. Sounds like I could hit some in the next 50 or so miles. That’s about it. I may try for a big day tomorrow. Also a special thanks to mom for the great dehydrated eggs and hash browns that was my dinner. Turned out delicious.
Day 7-its not always sunny in California
My pack weighed more, the weather sucked, my stuff was wet, and I had to climb all day. But somehow I ended up 24 miles down the trail. I made it a couple miles past tule spring on the edge of the desert. The first 12 miles were so wet I could feel the puddles in my shoes, but thankfully, due to my pack cover most of the stuff in my pack stayed pretty dry. After those twelve miles of climbing were over I scurried down off the mountain and once again into the desert. Here I took a much needed break and took all my wet things out and let them dry. I packed stuff up and hung the things that were still wet on my pack and continued on. Then eight more miles (20into my day) I got to a small spring right in the middle of the desert and decided it was time to eat something other than trail mix for re first time today. I had some interesting beans that Ended up not too. Another hiker then passed me while I was getting water with my steripen (a uv light to make water safe to drink). I am now towards the middle front in the pack of hikers and have plenty of people to conquer the brief bit of upcoming snow with. Today wore me out and tomorrow should be the same as I should just about get to the snow.
Day 8-A day in paradise
In all actuality it was not a day in paradise and actually a pretty tough day. I woke up within a mile or two of at least 4 other hikers and ate at the paradise cafe with two of them. Robin, an older man from england and Brian, a nice 25 year old from Boise. I had a much needed giant beef burrito. After some issues with the mail, Brian realized he only had two of three packages. The one he was missing had his maps an lots of food. So he decided he would hike with me. It worked out good and he really pushed me pretty hard the second half of today and we chatted quite a bit making the miles fly by. I am camped at mile 161 and hope to put in about 23 tomorrow to get into idyllwild. There I may spend some or all of Saturday depending on how I feel.
As for scenery, we started in the dessert then walked through huge boulder fields then grassland themes saw some actual trees with very welcoming shade. The weather was absolutely perfect with no rain. I draped most my things that were still wet over my pack and they dried out by mid day. Despite good views and good scenery, all day was up and down. We would climb down into a canyon only to see the switch backs of the trail on the other side. I am camped nearly on the top of a very high ridge at nearly 7000 feet and am set for a windy night.
Day 9-not the way it was supposed to be
I was still hiking with Brian and if I hadn’t been there would have been no way I would have got as far as I did. The plan for the day was to get the 22 miles in that it would take to get to idyllwild. We began bright and early and soon found that today would be all uphill. And not just any kind of uphill. killer switchbacks that were never-ending. The second we thought we were finally at the top there ended up being another peak we would have to climb. Only to make things worse, about half way in we really needed water and decided to get it at apache spring. Which turned out to be an amazing little spring. The only trouble was it was a very steep half mile downhill climb to it. We made this our first rest stop. While we were resting we met three hikers with the trail names bonfire and ghost. The other was an older fellow who actually was pretty fast. They had started on April 30 and were moving pretty slow.
On our torturous journey through the mountains we saw tons of lizards and as couple rabbits. It was full of amazing views as well. My feet and legs are so sore from this very tough day. The plan for tomorrow is to just take a zero day in idyllwild (no walking) and let myself rest up some more for fuller ridge. Brian plans to stay in idyllwild a couple days so I may not be hiking with him anymore. We both hiked better when we had a partner but that just means it’s on to the next group of people to hike with.
Day ten- idle in idyllwild
Today was a day to rest heal and eat lots of food. Everyone seemed to take a zero day in idyllwild since it’s so hiker friendly. My day was well spend. I got a nice shower, did laundry, and ate a much as humanly possible. We got in to town around 630 before anything was open thanks to a ride from a very nice older man with a big suv. So we sat around for a half hour and then ate a breakfast at Jo’ans. I had a huge breakfast burrito and a couple sides of hash browns. Then we got our laundry an shower done and I had a whole 20 inch pizza. And finally after a little messing around on the computer I had a cheeseburger curly fries and a milkshake. After my day of gorging I will hit the trail tomorrow fresh and ready to conquer the feared fuller ridge. Brian is staying here an extra day so I will have to find a new hiking companion.
Day 11-even when everything doesn’t work out
Today was the most challenging day by far. Not because or my feet or my body hurting, just a few gear setbacks that took lots of time to fix. But even with a short day and walking until dark, I was rewarded with the most amazing view I have ever seen. After I made it over the very overrated fuller ridge, I came out to a view looking over the dessert and distant mountains that was literally breathtaking. It made the whole day worth it. I tried and tried to get a picture that would show how awesome it was but when your walking on a ridge with a 360 degree view of amazing mountains in the sunset, it is hard to capture.
Today I ended up walking about 25 miles and probably only 15 trail miles. I ended up having to walk the 4.5 miles and 4000 vertical feet from idyllwild to the trail. Then I started along and a pin broke in my backpack costing me quite some time. Finally, once I got to around 9000 feet and saw how nice it was, something in me really wanted to climb San jacinto peak and get to an elevation over 10000 feet. I don’t regret it, it was nice. The only problem was I left my camera in my backpack at the bottom. So I didn’t get any pictures. At the top I met a guy who lives in Portland and he was just climbing the peak for the day with what looked like his wife and some of her friends. Other than that a pretty basic day with amazing views at every point. I walked until late, but when I got in I made some delicious spaghetti on my esbit stove. There is a girl I met named crystal that I ended up camping near to only because it’s getting so dark. That’s about it. Remember the picture does not do it justice. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.
Day 12-the endless switchbacks
The day started out with me getting a little later start than usual: around 7. It was very windy all night and I didn’t sleep good so I slept a little longer to make up for it. Then when i finally got on the trail the descent began. In 16 miles of switchbacks I dropped from over 8000 feet to around 1000. Also, the trail in those 16 miles cover under 5 miles of distance as the crow flies. Talk about endless. It was still a great day though, as far as mileage. I ended up getting about 29 miles in to make up for my smaller day yesterday. I am camped at whitewater creek, about trail mile 222. If I push hard through lots of uphill tomorrow I can be in big bear city in a couple days to resupply. The wildlife today consisted of lot of ground squirrels, geckos, rabbits, and in the early morning I thought I saw a fox. It was by far the biggest animal I have seen and it ran up the hill to fast for me to get a good look or a picture.
After descending down the San Jacinto mountains I crossed the dessert and went under the freeway I-10. It was so hot and windy I might have died had a trail angel not left beer soda and goodies under the overpass. It was a great spot for a rest. After I passed under there were a few more miles of dessert, including through a windfarm (that explains why it was so windy) then it was up into the San gorfino hills and into the whitewater reserve. Tomorrow will be lots of climbing and we will see how I do after the big mileage of today. It is already very apparent that the zero day (rest day) helped me a lot.
Lucky day 13- the pine tree mindset
Today was a good one. It started right next to whitewater preserve and ended in the pine trees at about 8000 feet. Whitewater is maybe 2000 feet. Nearly all day was spent climbing. We walked through mission creak bed (basically a dessert) for what seemed like ever. My thermometer read 90 degrees at only 12. And there was no breeze or shade. I was walking with the mindset of the sooner i reach the trees that we could see way up on the mountain, the sooner it would be cooler and I would get shade. And finally after 20 miles i made it to the trees and decided to take a nice long break and have dinner. I had some amazing trader joes dehydrated chilli. The cast thing is that it didn’t even look that bad. At this point I met the bears. They are I think a brother and sister (large people) that don’t move the fastest. They looked very sore when I saw them. They were nice and showed me where the water was. The next to come in was NotRyan. I don’t know where he got that trail name but it’s unique for sure. He was nice and I actually talked with him longer than I was planning on. He is an ex-actor from new York trying to figure out what to do with his life. After chatting for a while I figured I better get a few more miles in before it got too dark in order to attempt to make it to big bear city tomorrow before the post office closes at 430. I have about 22 miles to make it there. Tonight I am camped at a great spot at around 8700 feet. It had a little campfire kind of set up, so I improved it and decided to have warm mashed potatos for the first time on the trip. They are much better warm. Tomorrow hopefully some real food and a heavier pack due to my package of food in town. After my 24 mile day it time to hit the sack.
Day 14-the hike to real food
Today I had to get to the big bear city post office by 430 when it closed. I did not want to lose a day. So I got up and was on the trail by 6. I put in eight hard miles and got to some animal cages that had some large grizzlies in them and some other animals I could not make out. I kept climbing through the mountains up and down and then I could finally see big bear lake. I thought I was close but I still had over 14 miles to go. So i put my head down and I walked. Thankfully I came to a little rest spot set up by the big bear hostel (where I am staying tonight). There they had pop and cookies, which I had lots of. But it was time to move on. I walked the last eleven miles with very tired feet and a tired body. It was frustrating. You could see the road but you just didnt seem to get any closer. But after a few more climbs up and over mountains, I made it! When I got to the road Hans from austria was there trying to hitch a ride as well. We both worked for it and after a half hour our work was rewarded with a ride from some older people who were headed into town. They even stopped at the post office so I could get my package and took us to this hostel. They were very nice.
When I got to the hostel I realized it was going to be interesting. There are some very unique but nice people here. Anything you can imagine goes on here. But it’s a nice place to spend a night. They had a free dinner of chicken potatoes salad spaghetti and watermelon. I ate a record amount of food. All day I had been thinking of this moment when I would be able to have some real food instead of dehydrated stuff. After dinner we sat around (me and some hikers) and chatted for a while. There is a guy here, Sargent upchuck, (named because he had to much to drink one night) who is pretty funny. Even after the dinner and waiting an hour my appetite for some real junk food was back and I went to carls jr and got 4 spicy chicken sandwiches a western burger and then to 7-11 for a soda and some candy bars. At a normal lifestyle this would be gross. But tonight for me it was just what I needed. I am going to start puttin in some big miles starting tomorrow with an extra heavy pack, loaded with more food and gear. As for tonight I am going to try and reprint my maps that I seem to have lost.
Day 15-rockstar status
The day began bright an early at 615 at the hostel. I guess I am just wired to get up when the sun does. I found matt from Georgia already up and we decided to go get breakfast at the grizzly manor because we heard it was good. When we got there we both scanned the menu for the biggest thing they had. It was called the polar bear and it was huge. First they brought out two pancakes bigger than any I have ever seen. Then came the bacon 3 eggs and hashbrowns. It probably could have been 3 breakfasts for the average person. I ate all mine and with a little trash talking coming from me matt ate his too. We were stuffed and they said to us that no one ever eats the whole thing. They were all amazed and we were celebrities among the old timers in there. Then it was back to the hostel and getting dropped at the trail head. It all was good except for the fact that my pack was extremely heavy with over a week of food in it. We hiked. No really together but pretty close. About 10 miles in at van Dusen road just out of big bear, there was a tour going on with what looked like some rich LA people who had never hiked a day in their life. The guide asked me to come over saying that these people would love to see someone who was doing it. They were firing off questions so fast I could not keep up. I was their hero it sounded like. One lady even got a picture of me. After that bit of fun it was onward.
I met a few hikers today, unsure of their names, but the fit the age category of people on the trail: between 20 and 30 or over 55 for the most part. I got 20 miles in pretty quickly but then I hit the wall.I saf there after dinner with no motivation to walk. A few hikers walked by but I did not care. But then out of the blue robin from paradise cafe, almost 150 miles ago showed up and I decided to walk with him for a while. He is a 62 year old from England who loves to talk. He has been everywhere and been through a lot in his life and gave me the whole story. And better yet before I knew it we had gone 5 miles and the sun was just going down. So it all worked out in the end. I probably won’t see him again as he walks much slower than me. He is only hiking to around mile 600 anyways. All in all everything fell into place today even though parts of it were rough. I am camped around trail mile 291. We shall see what tomorrow has in store!
Day 16 its not about the miles just about the smiles
The day started out pretty chilly. But I got a few quick miles in. Then i walked across a little bridge and met a local guy going for a hike. This was also where the trail took a detour and would miss the hot springs. But this guy gordon told me how to get there still. So I had to walk on some dirt roads and was almost run off by dirt bikes jeeps and ATVs. But finally after walking down many different roads with twists and turns I got to Bradford ridge trail that took me right back to the hot spring. It was a tough steep trail but so worth it. The creek (deep creek. Had two hot pools, with one two hot and one just right and then the cold water from the creek became a deep pool right next to it. It was a gift from god. On a day that my thermometer got to 110 in the sun, this was so needed. I met some really nice people who are not particularly fast but tons of fun. I camped near them. There names are Rev booger and backyard booty. Backyard booty hiked the AT in ’07. So even though I only got 17 miles in today it was still probably my favorite day! By the way the hot spring was clothing optional and let’s just say the wrong people went with the optional option.
Day 17- the duel
I soaked in the hot spring one more time before heading out. It was a really hard place to leave. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trail so far. I also had to leave rev booger and backyard boogie even though they are tons of fun. They just do not do enough miles. I hiked for a good chunk of the day along deep creek and then past the Mojave river dam. Then I entered the dessert. It was hot. The first little creek that I passed I took a break. While I was sitting there eating lunch a dad and his two little kids (probably 5 & 3). I talked with the dad and played with the kids for a long time. It was fun. They were so amazed that I was hiking that it was easy to impress them. The dad said he wished he could do it but he had the little kids. He used to be a trail runner. I finally had to leave. After a long time of just walking I heard a rattle right next to the trail, and jumped. I looked up only to see a rattle snake right in the trail. We just stared at each other. He wouldn’t move, only rattle. So I had some words for him, hit my trekking poles together and he finally moved off the trail. The only sad part was that I could not get a good picture of him. The rest of the day was filled with walking around silverwood lake and then eventually eating my curry with lentils that turned out marginal. Hopefully it doesn’t rain tonight. There are lots of dark clouds and it’s very windy.
The day started with rain all night. Everything was soaked when I finally got up and out of the sleeping bag. I began the 13 mile walk that would end at McDonalds. Six miles in I met veg and gnar and I walked the last 7 miles with gnar and made it to McDonalds around 1030. I usually am not a fan of McDonalds, but this one hit the spot and I at way too much. After looking at the weather report and seeing 60mph winds and being about to climb 5000 feet, I decided to stay. The luxury of real food, a hot tub, a shower, and a place to dry my stuff was much needed. Tomorrow it is back to the real world of hiking though. A 22 mile uphill stretch to start my day should be fun!
Day 19-the next group
Today I hiked with new people. I met some other people in cajon pass at the McDonalds yesterday and it turned out they were leaving the same time as me. The first girl I hiked with for a while was named rachiopod. She walks pretty quick and has a light pack, but I managed most the day. Just behind her were the couple Goodness and Zim. We walked 22.5 miles and stayed at guffey campground today. But I have to say, the walk up was so amazing. We could see forever in almost every direction as we approached 8000 feet. There are snow patches here where were staying, and it’s cold and windy. Tomorrow I may go into wrightwood for the day then try to some more miles done during the evening. Il decide tomorrow. After we had made a fire gnar, dumptruck, tenderfoot, dreamcrusher, and Hans all showed up. We all had a little hiker party until we got too tired around 10. I have a feeling I will get a trail name soon. The sadest thing on the trail so far is that I’m still carrying a 3 pound jar of peanut butter, and I don’t even like that stuff. It been about 250 mikes of carrying it and I can’t decide what to do with it. That is what I should think about while hiking. I think some pictures of the amazing views today are below. It was an amazing day!
Day 20-the name
I finally got my trail name today. It was actually a two part naming. Since the name has to stick for it to be your trail name, i had one, but those who gave it to me changed it to something even better. The story of my name begins with the day we had. Last night real late i was unofficially dubbed counselor, really not a bad name, but it’s not the one that stuck.
The wind was horrific last night and I was cold in the morning so i just decided to walk. I walked the 5 miles to the highway and got a hitch into town from Monty, the trail angel who happened to be dropping off the hiker he has been chasing named lake to lake. He gave me a ride into town where I uploaded some photos and signed all the hiker logs. Then I went to the grocery store where I saw the funny couple slip and slide. More eating and more snacks brought us to around 430 in the afternoon when a nice young guy gaveus a ride back to the trail. After the large group of gnar rachiopod slip and slide consulted the maps and elevation chart we decided to camp a mile from the highway. So it was a short day of hiking. Now this is where I get my name:
It was around 6 and we were all saying how nice it would be to have pizza and steak and pop at this campsite. I was especially craving it so I decided to walk back a mile ( wearing my crocs) hitch 6 miles to town, get 2 pizzas steak and soda, then hitch back out. So they all gave me money and wishes me luck but they were doubting it would happen. I waited for what seemed like ever on the mostly unused highway and finally got a ride in to town from a guy who just climbed Baden Powell (we climb tomorrow) and it was his birthday. He dropped me off at the grocery and I got my stuff. Then I walked to mile high pizza and corny two pizzas. With all my shopping done I walked to the highway to hitch back to the trail. I got there but the problem was I did not look too much like a hiker. I had crocs, sunglasses, 2 pizzas, no pack, and was kinda clean. It must have been 20 minutes with my thumb up to get a hitch. But finally this young boy (got his license last week) picked me up. He was a terrible driver but he got me there. I walked in with the goods and everyone was amazed. They said it was the work of a legend.
Therefore I became legend.
We sat around a campfire for a long time having lots of laughs, eating out pizza, and cooking the steak on a stick over the fire. It was a great night. Tomorrow we should get some great views from the top of the mountain.
And that is the story of how I got my trail name of Legend. I believe it was actually slip that named me. It’s a keeper!
Day 21-three weeks
It’s been three weeks. I have a trail name, I’ve nearly walked 400 miles, I’ve met tons of people, and I’m still into it. Today we walked up Baden Powell mountain today. There were some amazing views, but it was a little cold and windy. After that we lost elevation real quick and crossed highway 2. At that point I had lunch and a long nap. I started back walking after I had a snickers dipped in peanut butter. I gotta eat the five pounds of that I’m carrying somehow. I met back up with the people I’ve been walking with and they really wanted to take the detour around the endangered yellow legged frogs. I didn’t want to because the detour is more miles, but i went anyways. The detour was through a very cool canyon. We were basically scaling the walls of cliffs to walk along it. Now we are camped in the very end of the canyon next to the creek. Other than that it was a pretty uneventful day.
We finally finished our 18 mile detour to only go twelve trail miles. Now everything counts. The worst part about the detour was that we had to climb 2500 feet in the last 2 miles. The yellow legged frogs better make a comeback from the endangered species list because I did my part.
As for the rest of yesterday I ate lots of mashed potatoes for my meals. They really arnt so bad anymore. For dinner I had some very good Thai noodles (dehydrated) that were nice and spicy.I also got a pretty good streak going of being able to use campground bathrooms instead of just the woods.
After rachiopod goodness Zim and me had walked 20 miles with lots of elevation change, we got to a boyscout camp and saw slip and slide there. They decided to do the roadwalk detour. We had a big fire, stayed up pretty late and had another fun night. I may not see them again because they are pretty slow. I should be in agua dulce in 2 days and I will stay at the legendary saufleys.
Day 23-pushin it
Today was a big one. I woke up with 53.6 miles left to get to agua dulce. I decided I would do it in about 2 days. So I put in 6 hard miles before i met Chris redbeard and one other that I can’t remember the name. It’s funny because Chris wears all camo all the time and he is the one without a name. Flying through their camp I began one of 2 big climbs I would have today. I made it to the top and saw all the amazing rolling hills (not quite mountains) around me. It was pretty cool. Then another detour started due to a burned section. It wasn’t even a trail just 7 miles of dirt road: LAME. At the end of that was the Mill creek ranger station and I decided to eat lunch here. It was about 18 miles into my day. Since I was eating next to the highway, in mid bite a car with two women who had on reflector vests asked if I was ok. I was somewhat shocked. Did I really look that bad. Then I looked myself over and saw that my clothes are very dirty my whole body is brown with dirt, I smell terrible, and I am carrying everything I have on my back in the middle of the dessert. Maybe the ladies had a right to wonder. From that highway the second climb began. 1700 feet up the side of cliffs. Some amazing views, but also some sketchy trail. This is about the point I decided to leave those I have been walking with behind. At the top I made some very good dehydrated beef enchilada casserole with my esbit stove, packed my stuff up and decided to get a few more miles in because I was feeling good. Right when I was leaving dreamcrusher and her boyfriend, tenderfoot, came by and I almost scared them off the cliff. I was quite a bit faster then them and walked until dark. A day totaling 32 miles. Only about 21 to get into agua dulce tomorrow. From where I am camping I am just below the ridge (out of the wind) but can still see 3 different city lights. It looks pretty cool.
Day 24- heaven
Today was a tough day but it ended in heaven. I woke up with 21 miles to go and I wanted to get in early in the afternoon. I got up and was strong even after my long day yesterday. I did my usual 3 miles and then ate a breakfast of granola at the ranger station. I then put in another 8 miles and made it to an rv park where I met some people walking their dogs. They were so interested in my trip that I gave them my blog. They even offered to take me to their house, do laundry, eat, and shower. But I had to say no because I wanted to make it to hiker heaven. A little ways into the second half of my walk I saw gnar who had not taken the yellow legged frog detour, so I hadn’t seen him in a couple days. We walked together, but both hit the wall with about 3 miles left. We sat down, took a break and both finally decided to push on. It was interesting, we walked through a hundred yard tunnel under the highway and then through the amazing Vazquez rocks. Finally we got to a fork in the trail and we took the one that looked like it would get us to the town fastest, not the pct(trail). BIG MISTAKE. we walked 4 miles extra, and did not get any closer to town. We were on the right road just a long way away. After already walking enough to have gotten to the saufleys, we finally got picked up by a nursing home bus. They took us to the center of town. We still had a mile left and got picked up by a hiker who was driving over because she lived close. Talk about lucky!
We were finally at hiker heaven. The first thing that happen was Donna saufleys gave us the tour. She said pick out any cot, their yard was covered with event tents and cots inside, she said she would do our laundry. It must be heaven If someone else is doing laundry. There was a shower, bathrooms, food, tons of hiker box goods, and the best of all, lots of hikers. This place is awesome. There are too many hikers here to try to name or describe them all, but I have the best hiker name for sure. I don’t even know where to begin about describing this place. Just awesome!
Day 25- the andersons
Even though they are only a solid day 24 miles) apart, the andersons and the saufleys are polar opposites. The saufleys are very organized with everything labeled while the andersons just have piles of trash everywhere. Even so, I love them both equally much. The andersons tend to cater toward the younger group while the saufleys are for everyone. I am thinking I may do a nearo here tomorrow (low mileage and stay here again tomorrow). Then it will be off to tehachapi. On a side note the taco salad that Teri Anderson makes is so good I have to stay another night.
On the trail today there were a few climbs that were a bit tougher than the map made them look like. Even so I felt pretty strong. I passed robin and pat as we made a 2000 foot climb and did not see them again. I made it ten miles in and took my break. From this first little water cache it was only about 7 more miles to the famous oasis cache. It was hot and I was tired from pitting in 80 miles in three days. But I made it. The cache was amazing, with a few snacks, pop, beer, decorations, and a notebook to write a little message and sign. I like these notebooks because you can write little funny things or leave messages for people behind you. From there it was a definate struggle. I had 6 miles to go. It drizzled, my feet hurt, and I was tired and hungry but I pushed through it. With 4 miles to go we came up on this huge canyon and you could see the trail go all the way around it. It was kind of nice to see what we had left, but 4 miles is a long way. At least it was mostly flat. When I was about a mile from the road into town it started to rain. So I started to run. I made it most the way but the noticed a pct sign in book. So I stopped signed it and ran the rest of the way. After probably 15 minutes of attempting to hitch into town in the rain, a guy with a truck picked me up and I was into the unique world of the andersons.
The wildlife has been very unique. I have seen many of these large green snakes that according to other hikers are real dangerous. The last one I saw I ran and jumped over after a good picture. I have also seen deer, pools with lots of tadpoles, and many colorful birds. The hikers are the same as always and it’s funny how big some of the beards are. I am still having a great time. So far the best part about everything is how fast things change. In 20 miles you can see snow, mountains, walk on ridges, through the dessert, and even through pine forests. There are people walking the trail for very intense personal issues and they have said the trail saved their life. The culture is so different and amazing than anything I have ever experienced.
Not much new. I took a zero here at the andersons. It’s a great place to relax. I think I will try to head out again tomorrow. Basically we just sat around, had fun conversations, played frisbee golf and had a good time. Another dinner of taco salad was amazing. They know how to do it right here. But it is definitely set up for the younger croud here.
Day 27- poison oak
I think I’m going to stay one more day. The poison oak I got ended up getting pretty bad. I think it would be a little uncomfortable to walk and probably a little smarter to try and put some stuff on it. Then I will try again to start back up out of the andersons to hikertown hostel (42 miles away). Hopefully I get rid of this uncomfortable itchy stuff.
Day 28- the real world
Today I finally left the andersons. With poison oak on my ankles knees and wrists, it was not very comfortable hiking. Even so, I got in 25 miles. The day began with a big uphill coming out of green valley and then was relatively flat until the end when we climbed about a thousand feet to a water tank. Along the way I saw a coyote walking down a dirt road, a kangaroo mouse run down the trail, and way too many flies.
Today I also had to make a couple phone calls to the real world, and it was strange. There may be different and difficult people out on the trail, but we all seem to have the same similar attitude. While on the phone I realized how much more uptight with more stress it is in the real world and today that is exactly how I felt. I think all of us hikers out here in the backwoods have a simplified view of life at the moment. We eat, walk and sleep for the most part. Our biggest challenge is finding water. We are thankful for every little thing, even just a real chair. It was a bit of an eye opening day. Now tomorrow I will visit hikertown and then possibly walk 15 miles across the dessert If its not too hot.
Day 29- night hike
The day began with me rising much earlier than everyone else camped near me at mile 503. I walked through the pine trees, downhill for the most part for 7 miles. Then I got to the edge of the dessert. From here I went up, over, around and between dozens of little foothills and finally the trail turned and I walked a couple miles straight into the dessert and then to hikertown. Hikertown was a guy, bob’s, property which was kind of set up like a western town. It was a great set up for the hikers. I relaxed here for a while and watched many people come and go for a few hours. At this point I had hiked 15 miles and was looking on getting a few more miles into the dessert in the evening. The problem was so many people I have seen or hiked with kept coming in soni kept getting side tracked. By the time I finally left it was nearly nine. I figured I could get in a few miles. So I walked. We walked along the California aqueduct first then the Los Angeles one. It was a nice night. About 65 with a slight breeze. I decided to stop around 1145 due to tiredness and wanting to be able to hike well tomorrow. The walked totalled about ten miles. It was a very peaceful ten mile night hike than I enjoyed. I could see some big city lights at my back. LA? Either way it was a nice change from continual day walking.
Day 30- a new hiking partner
As I lay here about 6 miles away from the road to tehachapi, I am so amazed at everything that we have hiked through in the last 24 hours and 30 miles. We started in pine trees yesterday, then dessert foothills, the California aqueduct, the LA aquaduct, the true dessert, some foothills into canyons in the dessert, then up an over the surrounding mountains, a burned section atop the mountains, then back into pine trees. These changes are what make the trail amazing and not to mention the outstanding views.
Today I woke up with about 9 or so miles to the faucet and cottonwood creek in the dessert. So I started walking. I went three miles then sat on a cement piling on the LA aqueduct. I ate lots of snack food, then smartass and Ryan showed up. I walked with them the rest of the 6 miles. It was terrible road walking or on the cement cover of the aqueduct today until we reached the edge of the dessert.we sat under the bridge over the creek for probably 30 minutes and rested. Dreamcrusher and tenderfoot showed up when we were about to leave. At that point Ryan and I walked across the scorching heat to the next water 7 miles away. It was a tiny creek but we stayed there out of the heat for over 3 hours. While we were there, little Buddha showed up. I didn’t realize how funny he is. He has also done the trail before. We talked and got water and finally around 430 Ryan and I decided to get in ten more miles to shorten tomorrows hike. We climbed about 2000 feet to the top of some bare naked windy ridges. It was a bit cold. After a depressing walk through a burn area, we were both ready to call it a night. Then we saw a great cache with apples and water. We didn’t need water but the apples immediately lifted our spirits and we got 3 more miles in.
The wildlife today consisted of literally millions of crickets hoping all over in the foothills of the dessert. They would hit your legs arms eyes face. Little Buddha said he was having a problem with them nailing him in his shaved head. There were lots of lizards. I saw two more mice, and many chipmunks. I also got a cool little video of me holding a horny toad. Well I can see tehachapi from the ridge I am sleeping on, so it should be a short walk then a town day. No big plans. I may hike a few miles out of town tomorrow evening if I can get everything done, or else I heard of a field near the post office to camp in.
Day 31-living up to my name
Some people walk the pacific crest trail, I experience it. Ryan and I began about 7 miles away from the road that I was going to hitch to tehachapi from. The miles blew by. We walked through a pine forest, then into the windfarm. It was amazing how many wind turbines there were. Easily thousands. We saw the road after about 5 mikes, but in the typical pct way, we had to take many switchbacks twists and turns to actually make it. Here I parted ways with Ryan. He was going to walk 8 more miles to the highway where his friend would pick him up. I walked up to the road and used my growing skill of getting a hitch. It is always strange when someone pulls over for you, and the second before you open the door you are a little worried who it might be. This time it was a seventh day adventist on his way to church. He was a little strange but he took me all the way to kmart so I can’t complain. I picked up a few things then walked to the post office where I got new shoes! I decided to keep the old ones and try to make some Sierra shoes. I bought some screws at home depot and will play around with creating some traction. After this I was all set. I just needed a small brick of cheese (a nice novelty food that is gone within a couple days). I walked down the street not even trying for a hitch but a lady picked me up and drive me to a store that had cheese. It was still early so from here I decided to try to get back to the trail and try to get some more miles in. I walked for maybe 5 minutes with my thumb up and a guy that works for the windfarm picked me up. I was pretty interested in why they had so many and where the money for the wind turbines came from. He said they were hoping to more than double the thousands they already have. He also said the biggest ones cost 4 million dollars. He dropped me off and I began to walk to the highway. I had a very heavy pack with eight days of food and two pairs of shoes. But I kept walking through the windy fields.
Then suddenly I heard a rattle. One I had heard before. It was loud and coming from about 15 feet away. When I looked there I saw the most poisonous rattlesnake, the Mojave rattler, curled up and rattling franticly only a couple feet from the trail. I threw some rocks to scare it off. No luck. So then I afghani hit it with a rock and it went crazy. Snapping and lunging at the air around it. From here I decided to just go all the way. I got a big rock and put it out of it’s misery. But out here on the trail we don’t waste things or leave trash, so I decided to eat it for dinner. I cut the head off and buried it, skinned the snake. I kept the skin and the rattle safe and then walked just far enough to be a safe distance from the highway and cooked it over an open fire. A little salt and a side of mashed potatoes made it so good. The three foot rattler made a great meal!
It’s a month into my hike and I have most of it figured out so I wanted to give all the wonderful people following me a little insight into the stuff other than walking that goes on:
Food: I almost always either eat granola with dried fruit and raisins in it or a poptart for breakfast. I usually supplement it with some dried fruit. Lunch and dinner are interchangeable. I only cook one meal a day and I try to do it when I’m near water. This means it’s lunch or dinner. It consists of mashed potatoes most often for non cooked meals. But I do also have dehydrated hummas with chips or beans with chips if it is soon after a town I had a resupply package in (mashed potatoes are easy to get in stores). My cooked food can be anything from rice and couscous with a flavor packet to fettuchini Alfredo. To list a few cooked meals I have had lentils (terrible), gnocchi (decent), eggs and hashed brown (ok), pad Thai (excellent), rattlesnake (one of a kind), mexican rice (ok), chicken and noodles (pretty good), spam (forgettable), and Mac and cheese (average).
Camping: most people do not like to dry camp(water near by) but it does not bother me. I usually get to snappy I like between 7 and 8 and make a quick easy meal, and pack up all my food so no animals get in it. I then lay out my pad and sleeping bag. Usually change clothes to sleep in something different and write my blog once I am all situated. After that I can star watch or sleep. In the morning since most my stuff is packed up and I keep my breakfast in an outside pocket, it doesn’t take long once I’m out of my bag. I change, shoes and socks, brush teeth, put sleeping bag in stuff sack, strap it all on and then I am good to go.
Day 32-no one
Today I didn’t see a sole on the trail. It’s because most people stayed in tehachapi or Mojave so they started the day 10 miles behind me. Even so, I did not feel like hiking today. I took many many breaks, with about half of them being long ones. I attribute the lack of motivation to not sleeping well the past few nights. The scenery today was made up mostly of hills that bordered on mountains. Many of which had wind farms on them. It was especially tough to start out too, because I had to climb over 2000 feet to get up into the mountains. Here I had to put my headphones in to fight through the tiredness. It was the first day I have listed to music since day one. Well I got through it all and pushed myself to make it to the water source that was 15 miles in. I filled up and got in 6 more miles. Bringing my daily total to 21 very hard miles. I thought eating good food would make me feel better so I had gnocchi for lunch and spanish rice for dinner. Both were excellent and hopefully they help my motivation for tomorrow. I even stopped pretty early today to try to get some extra rest and I was checking out this bump I have had on my dirty leg for a while and found a nearly half inch thorn in it. I got it pulled out and some ointment on it, but maybe that will make me feel better too. I am camped in a wind farm because many people have said that is where there best nights sleep has been and I need a good one. A little over 100 miles to Kennedy meadows. Then the extremely snowy (record snow year) sierras! Can’t wait.
Day 33-the legend with no pants
Today I did laundry. No washer or dryer necessary. No detergent although it may have been necessary. It was about 315 and I was 19 miles into my day, and there was a stream about a foot deep. Recently even I have been able to smell myself so I knew it was time to wash and do wash. I stripped down to my compression shorts (underwear) and washed all my dirty clothes then set them out in the sun. I ate my couscous and rice while I waited and rested. Finally I got antsy to get going and my clothes were not wet with the exception of my very thin shirt which was damp. So I strapped, tied, and clipped over ten articles of clothing to my pack and began walking. Did I mention I was hiking in my compression shorts with no pants. This went on for over 3 hours and ten miles. Don’t worry, nobody saw. Around 700 when I reached kelso road I put shorts on. More to stay dry than anything else and hiked another 5 miles.
Today was the total opposite of yesterday. I was real tired and unmotivated yesterday. Today I was just into hiking. I racked up 38 miles today! It’s amazing what a good full night sleep can do for you. Even if it is in a windfarm. Today was filled with lots of hiking along the edge of the dessert. Sometimes in pine tree forests. If you want to get technical (as the fault lines go) I am in the Sierra Nevadas, although it does not look like it yet and there is no snow. Today was also the second time that I ended up running out of water. It was pretty hot and I drank more than I expected and had to hike 2 miles without water. I survived it though and drank plenty the rest of the day. Tomorrow I should be in walker pass campground where I heard a rumor that some trail angels are hosting a dinner! Il try not to expect too much. Then after that I should be in Kennedy meadows in two days. The real Sierra Nevadas!
Day 34- push to walker pass
Today I was woken up by little buddha before 6. It was time to get up. So I got up, had a poptart, and began my day. By my math I had about 31 miles to get to walker pass campground where I heard there was some trail magic (dinners) going on. So I vegan walking at a real good pace and caught lil’ Buddha. I was walking over 4 miles an hour for 5 miles to catch him and when I finally did we hit it off immediately and hiked the rest of the day. He has hiked over 15,000 miles in the past 5 years after quiting his job. We both cracked jokes for 25 miles. About 24 miles in we came across about 12 hikers sitting near a semi gross looking spring. Lil Buddha and I both took about a half liter before realizing it was gross water. One of the ladies, half steps asked us if we have been treating the water on the section. But when we told her we haven’t treated water in nearly 400 miles, she freaked out. It was funny but neither of us have gotten sick. After this we walked a mile to get some good water and a real campground bathroom. Here I took lunch around 4 and then after our long rest we destroyed the last 7 miles and made it into the campground for our drinks and burgers! It was amazing trail magic. Hiking with lil Buddha was great because he has hiked the trail and he gave me lots if tips and pointer on where to stop and how to do certain sections. After my 94 miles in three days I am very tired.
The next section
So the deal is during this next section I am going into the sierras where it is supposedly the best part of the trail but I may also mean I go days without service. I am already scheduled to go with good people into this record snow year and will continue to blog every day, it just may be days between when I can post and it will be multiple days posted at a time and hopefully some amazing pictures. Thank you everyone for following me through the trip of my life. I will post as much and as many good pictures as possible.
Day 35 it’s proven
Well with having to make some phone calls and deal with the real world again, I did not end up getting any miles in today. I’m not worried, I have already found a group to hike the sierras with and it does not matter whether I wait for people at Kennedy meadows or another place. Everyone says the main thing is to go real slow and enjoy this next section. That’s the plan! After all I have already completed southern California (the largest of the 6 sections). So I went into lake Isabella, a pretty terrible town, washed a pair of socks, updated the blog finally, and then jumped in the community pool. I also watched the Stanley cup finals with a Canadian and showed off my rattlesnake skin to everyone. I’m gonna get some trail cred now! Tomorrow I may hike, I may not I am literally under 100 miles from the sierras and I want to hike with this group that has done it before because it is over 250 percent of the average as far as the snow pack goes this year. Judging by what I have done the past few days I can make it all up in northern California. So tomorrow I may hang out with canandoug and lil Buddha to figure out their Sierra plan because they will be very fun to hike with and they have the experience.
Day 36-helping out
Today I figured that if I wanted to go into the sierras with this group I have been with then I will need to slow down a bit. It is a good idea to enjoy the best section in the trail. So today I helped with some trail magic at walker pass. Between rides food stocking caches, I kept busy and picked the brains of the experienced people for the sierras. I still should be in Kennedy meadows real soon to begin the sierras!
Day 37 and 38-24 hour walk
Today I hung around walker pass deep into the third day I had been there. This culture that exists on the trail is just so amazing it makes you want to immerse yourself in it. Then about midday (because I knew I would be leaving today) I thought of a way to challenge myself. I was going to walk the 50 miles from walker pass to kennedy meadows in 24 hours (actually 50.5 if you want to be exact). The hardest part was actually leaving walker pass because such great people kept showing up. In the end I left about 9 at night, after finally forcing myself to leave all the people at walker that I had not seen in a while. I began to walk. It got real dark quick and the moon was not up until deep into the night. I was walking by head lamp, but I was walking real quick. After about 5 hours of walking I took my first two hour nap. I figured in the end the sleep would help me more than it would hurt my attempt. I woke up, packed my stuff up real quick and began walking again. This time I had to pull out the jolly ranchers to suck on in order to keep my concentration in the real early morning. But at the same time as being a bit tough, it was a nice time to walk. The temperature was cool, the stars and moon were bright, and my legs and feet felt good. Before I knew it, I already had 20 miles down. The simple fact of still having 30 to go at around 7 in the morning made the task seem pretty daunting. But I just kept walking. Somewhere in the section I took my second and much needed nap. This one was nearly three hours. I woke up and then it was all business. I saw Ryan who I had met earlier and hiked with and we hiked probably over ten miles together. He then decided to stop at the small creek just before we got to the kern river and about 8 miles from Kennedy meadows. I was so close that I figured I could not stop now and should just try to push on. So I did. I flew through the first half of the eight miles with excellent views of the distant sierras, then it began to get dark. I began to drag, my feet began to hurt, my legs were cramping up, but there was no way with my competitive nature that I could quit four miles short of my goal. So through the aches and pains of my body I walked that last eight miles. I finally made it to the road to kennedy meadows and dropped. I needed to sleep. It was only a half mile walk down the road to the tiny town but I had no more miles in me. I had made it! I would go into town for breakfest the next morning. Sometime during this long day of hiking one of the bars on my pack had snapped clean in half, creating a pretty big problem going into the sierras. I noticed this after I had begun feeling some unusual pain, stabbing into my back, hopefully it is fixable at least until I can figure something else out. After this long day of walking I have two days to recover before our excellent group is off into the Sierras. 702.2 miles done and I still enjoy it!
Day 39- a hold up
We were going to hike out today, on the summer solstice (naked hiking day). But one of the people in our group, Justin (crews brother) had some bad foot issues so we reluctantly zeroed again. Everyone agreed we would leave Kennedy meadows tomorrow. So we spent the day like a typical zero. Ryan, hot cheese, escalator, and myself played lots of washers and went swimming. Down at the river we saw the water was a bit higher than the previous day, so we came up with a game. We would start down river and race to see who could walk 100 yards upstream the fastest. We did it twice and escalator and myself were the winners. After this I decided to deal with my pack. After investigating my options, I decided to take advantage of the rare find of a pack in the hiker box. A hiker box is where people get rid of whatever they don’t need. There are stoves, food, clothes, shoes, all kinds of tools, and on the rare occasions packs. I sewed it up with some dental floss and got it usable. I then mailed home my broken pack along with 13 other pounds and when I had the new pack all loaded up it was 48 pounds. It must have weighed a ton with my older heavier pack. The night ended with sitting around the campfire listening to hot cheese and escalator use there amazing voices and musical talent. I am ready to leave leave Kennedy meadows and get into the real sierras.
Day 40 meadow
Today u felt real sick on the long 14 mile day that seemed to just drag on. Little buddah and me both seemed to have a similar sickness. It was lil buddah me and crew who hiked together most of the day through beautiful meadows with streams running through them and great views if the sierras. We are almost into them. Only 2 more days until we really get into the high sierras. Hopefully I end up feeling better tomorrow. It seems to be some kind of stomache problem that is leaving me with no appetite.
Day 41- death canyon creek
I felt much better today. I had the ability to hike without too much fatigue and could keep up with the fast group of escalator and hot cheese. It was a good quality day. Ryan hiked with us as well. We hiked to the tune of some trivia and movie actor naming as we climbed a very monotonous hill. It was only a 14 mile day which ended at a nice creek where we made our snow baskets course. It was only 2 in the afternoon and we played for the rest of the night.
Day 42-into the sierras
We woke up to toms breakfast, as was usual and had our coffee with it. I put some finishing touches on this pack from the hiker box and got my stuff ready to go. One more game of washers and then we headed out. We left around 11 and 4 miles in learned we were hurting. Me and lil buddha began to feel our stomachs get a little queasy. It seemed we were some of the few that felt the minerals from toms faucet react with our stomachs. It was not fun. It was the hardest 15 miles of the trip by far and we (along with crew and his brother Justin) averaged under 2 miles an hour. after ten miles we came to a meadow and could see the sierras all snow tipped and off in the distance, it was amazing! Then after that it was a tedious 4 miles to camp where our Sierra group of probably 15 was waiting. I had a big dinner because I finally felt like eating. The Spanish rice and mashed potatoes were great. I am exhausted even from the short mile and going to get some recover sleep right next to this south fork of the kern
Day 43-gaining elevation
The morning was cold. There was ice on a couple of the tents from the morning dew. I was cowboy camped but with my acquired knowledge that camping under trees helps avoid the morning moisture, I stayed dry. I took my time this morning in order to let the slower people get ahead, as we would all be camping together. Then after a solid breakfast and some hot chocolate that i got from the Kennedy meadows hiker box, I headed out. Shortly after leaving i caught escalator and hot cheese who we call the french legion together because they sing while they walk. Ryan was also with them. We all walked the rest of the way and played some games with naming actors colleges and countries. Frequently throughout the day we passed lil Buddha, for now, and Noah. Around 2 we finished our second day of fifteen miles and arrived at death canyon creek. We set up camp, ate lunch and created a washer set up similar to the one Tom has at Kennedy meadows except we used our trekking pole baskets instead of washers and cooking pots as the holes. We played all evening. Everyone rolled in to camp at different times. Most notably the last few were squirrel and little bug (couple), canadoug, and finally crew and his brother Justin who we have named search and rescue because he always gets lost. For dinner I ate mashed potatoes with tuna and they tasted pretty good. We made a fire tonight and hung out for a while before everyone drifted off to bed. The one thing we all seemed to have in common tonight was the need for some pressure equalization. Tomorrow the plan is 21 miles to chicken spring lake which is said to have snow and be very pretty. So far the snow conditions are patchy at around 10500 feet.
Whitney is a monster of a mountain, the highest in the continental united states. It is also full of snow in this record snow year. The morning started out with the climb out of chicken spring lake and then down to rock creek which was flowing very heavily. Our fiercesome foursome was still escalator hot cheese and Ryan and we flew through the day. Once the 16 or so miles were done we stopped and camped at crabtree meadows and it was beautiful. There was a golden marmot and many deer in the meadow. Around eight four of us decided to hike up Whitney and camp on top. After losing the trail many times; having to cut steps, and then ending up scalage a rock face with no sign of the trail we decided to camp. We are within a mile of the top and will summit very early tomorrow. The climb was definitely one of the scariest things I have ever done. Without a doubt we are camped at over 14000 feet elevation.
Day 45-Whitney up and down
After camping within 3 miles of the top of Whitney, we made it to the top pretty early and spent nearly four hours up there. The views were amazing. Mountains on all sides covered in snow. The trek up was not so easy and I used my crampons in the icy early morning to have enough traction to walk. After walking some sheer ice cliffs, I could finally see the shelter on top. We had made it. One small snow field and then it was to the top. We made our hot chocolate at the top and really enjoyed it. Lil Buddha, Ryan, crew and myself were first up and I was pleasantly surprised to see goodness and Zim show up in time for our hot chocolate party. After this we walked down a couple miles and then glissaded down cutting off many switchbacks. It was really fun. We finally got back to crabtree meadows after seeing many old faces on their way ip the trail to attempt Whitney tomorrow. At camp I had some mashed potatoes and couscous (only meals I have left). Since Whitney is not directly on the pct (8mile side trail) forester pass is the highest point on the trail at well over 13000 and that is the pass we will climb over tomorrow.
Day 46- forester pass
Today I climbed the highest point on the pacific crest trail. It’s forester pass at well over 13000 feet. It was a bit dangerous in parts. The pass began about 7 miles into our hike at tindall creek. It was covered in snow there. From that treacherous creek crossing requiring all four of us to hold each other up, we crossed a 7 mile snow field. It was very hard and tiring walking. We lost the trail a few times but Ryan seemed to be very good at reading maps and he got us trough the part escalator and hot cheese did not remember from ’09. Once we got to the base of the real steep climbing, we made sure our crampons and microspikes were all tight then scaled the icy face. We got to near the top and hooked up with some switchbacks in the rocks. When we were only a few feet from the top we had to cross a very steep ice bridge. At the top we had hot chocolate to celebrate just like Whitney. On the other side we glissaded down thousands of feet of switchbacks. It was really fun. Then a good five miles of snow walking to our campsite in the beautiful kings canyon to round out our 21 mile day. Tomorrow we head over kearsarge pass to independence and hopefully lone pine for a day or 2.
Day 47- kearsarge pass to lone pine
Woke up in camp with tibetten, busted magic and noodles romanoff. They are a very interesting threesome hiking together. They are attempting to carry 12 days I’d food and go all the way through the sierras. I can honestly say that I enjoy hiking with my group more. We left camp at 7 and began our climb up the hill to the cutoff to kearsarge pass after crossing some frigid creeks. The climb up the hill was tough especially with numb feet from the near freezing water. After we reached the cutoff we walked through some completely snow covered meadows that were pretty icy due to it being early in the morning. It was extremely tough to keep on the trail since it was so snow covered and the footprints were mostly melted. We saw the trail above us and climbed up some scree passed bulldog lake to where the switchbacks over the pass began. It was probably the most beautiful thing I have ever seen with the reflection of the mountains off the lakes and the pine trees surrounding it. There were multiple waterfalls from the snow melt that added to the beauty. Kearsarge was not a tough pass and we crossed it with ease and glisaded some down the other side. As we were coming down to the road we saw gnar and rachiopod for the first time in many days and continued down to onion valley. Sadly hot cheese dislocated his shoulder by falling on snow and may be out for a while. Once we got to the bottom dr Chonzy (Ryan) and escalator reset his shoulder with an android first aid app. Then we took the bus to lone pine and got a hotel for 50 a night and squeezed 4 people in it. The night ended with the spa enjoyment.
Day 48- zero
We shopped, we laundered, we packed, we showered and then after all out work was done we enjoyed what lone pine had to offer. The Dow villa motel was a dive but it did have a pool and hot tub. The hotel was so bad that the rooms did not have a bathroom or shower just a community one on each floor. But the price was right. Later in the day we went to all you can eat Chinese food that definitely did not agree with my stomach. We just hung out with other hikers and talked about our hike. On the way to my diner at carls jr there was a dust storm in which it got real windy, and the clouds covered the town. It turns out that this town of lone pine is where many movies have been filmed including iron man, tremors and most the John Wayne westerns. Tomorrow we will leave early and go over glen pass.
Day 49- glen pass
In the sierra mountain range on the pacific crest trail there are 5 major passes and many more smaller ones. All the major passes range from around 12000 feet to the mid 13000s. Forester pass is the highest and we have already gone over it. Today we went over glen pass (major pass number 2). Although this is one of the shorter major passes, it was by far the most exhausting so far. The switchbacks were covered with snow meaning we had to go straight up the side of it. At the top it was all worth it because of the amazing views looking out across snowy mountains and alpine lakes (many of which were frozen). Another reason this pass was so hard was because we started the day climbing back up kearsarge pass at 11700 just to rejoin the pct. This tough day was magnified by the fact we had 7 days worth if food in our packs and the stupid bear canisters. Tomorrow we will get at least the next pass in Pinchot. If we are feeling really strong we may go up and over Mather pass.
Day 50- a bear sighting
Around 7 we left dollar lake. Dr Chonzy and me both had our breakfast of home run pies (49 cents from the grocery store in lone pine) and were ready for our big day. It would involve around 5000 combined feet of climbing over 15 miles. Early in the morning walk we spotted a very large black bear. It was the biggest one I have seen and was not more than 40 feet from dr Chonzy and probably 55 feet from myself. As soon as it saw us it bolted up the hill. It was gold in color and much bigger than the ones I have seen in washington and in the zoos. It made my morning, and I ended up getting a half decent picture. The day continued with the crossing of a very rickety old bridge over the very swift wood creek. At this point the 4.8 mile 3400 foot clim began. On this grueling stretch we saw many John Muir Trail hikers and they all wanted to know about the snow conditions on forester pass. This slowed us down substantially. Around 1 and after scaling a large ice sheet and crossing a four mile snow field we finally reach the top of Pinchot pass at 12000 feet. Here we took a much deserved lunch. About 40 minutes after us the womens group of serenity, 3times the lady, yardsale, and tails with her dog skeeter. We took a long break and decended 4.5 miles to our camp site. The scariest river crossing so far took place in this segment. It was across the south fork of the king river. I was very afraid and at one point thought I was going to fall. But luckily I made it across and survived to cross the fourth of the five major passes tomorrow in Mather pass.
Day 51- Mather pass and a broken pack
5 miles from the top of the most feared of the passes we began our day. Mather pass was going to be reached today. It was long and hard snow walking for four of the miles and then the last mile was just plain scary. We had to scale a rock ledge, cut steps in an ice wall and eventually pull ourselves over the top of the wall to reach the top. It was definitely the scariest of the 4 passes so far. Tomorrow we will climb the last of the five major passes in muir pass. Rumor is that there is tons of snow on it and that does not sound fun.
When we were glissading (sliding on our butts) down the backside of Mather pass, my already ruged pack broke. The hip belt was then only connected on one side and killed my back during the last 14 miles we hiked today. The only thing that made it better was the amazing valley that we walked through. Grouse meadow was surreal with a Doe grazing not 20 feet from us. There was a slow river running through it and grass all around it. Sadly we did not camp here but moved on to big Pete meadow which was not as nice. But liking on the way we saw some amazing waterfalls, some hundreds of feet tall just from snow melt. When we got to camp I sewed my pack up with a needle and dental floss in a way which I hope lasts until mammoth where I should have a new pack!
Day 52- muir pass and evolution
Waking up in sweat was definitely something new. The night was much warmer than usual in big Petes meadow. We had 7 miles to the top of muir pass, which was the last of the five major passes in the sierras. We climbed two miles and then the snow began. People have told me that it is the longest of the passes, but also the easiest. It held true to form. After the five miles past frozen lakes and flowing streams of snow melt we reached the rock hut built on the top of the pass. We were done with the fearful five passes! It was a bitter sweet moment that was once again celebrated with hot chocolate. Shortly after we got up there, Slim (worker from Kennedy meadows showed up). Let’s just say his name is ironic. After the long walk down, we passed by ranger Dave who is in charge of the evolution creek area and he told us how to ford the overhyped creek. We ended up just walking right through the slow flowing water that flows through the meadow and it got to my waist. It was not too bad. We then set up camp about a mile away, just past some section hikers. It was still early so I went fishing. I tied some fishing line on my trekking pole and a fly on the line and was off. I found a decent hole and ended up catching a golden trout. It was small so I didn’t eat it. I figured my goal was accomplished, and the hunger in my stomach told me to cook. I made angel hair pasta with herb something or other with tuna in it. It was four serving but still could not satisfy the hiker hunger. Thankfully the section hikers came down to talk to us and they brought gorp! It was very good homemade stuff too. From the looks of it, it was two dads and their early teenage daughters just doing a different section around the sierras every year. Once again we had a fire and am hitting the sack about hiker midnight (9)
Day 53- bear creak and a wrong turn
Happy fourth of July. It started with a 14 mile walk to the top of selden pass for us. It was a tough climb to the pass, about 3000 feet. Once at the top we heard loud booms. It was a thunderstorm that we were right in the middle of at 11000 feet. To make matters worse it began to rain. We took cover under a small tree on the top of the pass to avoid going over the snow field in the lightning. We ate lunch here as well. As soon as we were thoroughly soaked, we walked the three miles to the treacherous bear creak. According to rumors the hardest/scariest parts of the trail are the 5 main passes and then the crossing of bear creak and evolution creak. We crossed it no problem about 60 yards down stream of the trail. It was moving fast though. At this point it was about 330 and we decided to try to make it to vermilion valley resort (vvr)(13miles). The problem was we accidentally turned off onto the bear creek trail and walked 4 miles down it before we realized to turn around (8miles total were lost) The day ended with dr Chonzy (current hiking partner) pushing ahead to vvr and me camping about a mile before the cut off. Out of frustration for the day I over ate which was a terrible idea.
Today I woke up feeling very sick. That is when I decided i would go to vermillion valley resort(vvr). I was running low on food and a day without food would be the worst thing for me. I walked the mile to the cut off and then avoided paying 10 dollars for the ferry by walking five miles around lake Edison.’when I finally got there i saw lots of people i knew. But first things first i ordered a large breakfast burrito that went down well. A good sign. Then i was on the hunt to try to sew my hip belt back on to make it the 30 miles to mammoth where escalator was sending me a new pack. A kind lady outside said that they had a needle in their car if I could just wait a little while I could have it. Of course I was in. My old needle’s eye had broken during the last repair. While we were waiting she kindly gave me some summer sausage, and good cheese. Some of a hikers cravings! She and her two kids and husband had been on a few day trip around bear creak. The car showed up and I got my needle. At this point I decided to have a cheeseburger and say goodbye to vvr. I went on my way, walking again to save 10$. After i rejoined the pct, i had two scary river crossing. Mono creek was waist high with good current, but I managed. Then I walked under a waterfall. Finally I began the climb to silver pass. It was my favorite so far because there was a snow covered meadow with a beautiful river running through it. I camped at the top of silver pass and hope to make it to mammoth tomorrow before the post office closes.
Day 55- bear 2
I woke up on silver pass to an amazing sunrise. Everything is better at 11000 feet. I ate a cinnamon roll for breakfast and then began my long 21 mile trek into town. The first three miles was down hill skiing down the steep ridge into the valley that I would walk along to reds meadow. After finally reaching the ground we ended up climbing again up to the beautiful purple lake. After leaving the snow surrounding purple lake, the hiking became somewhat monotonous only broken up by patches where it was tough to find the trail in the snow. The whole 21 miles was patchy today. After I was finally getting close to reds meadow, I saw a black bear. It was a small one, could have been a cub, so I didnt want to get too close. I did however snap some solid pictures of it. It was golden brown in color just as the first bear we had seen. The excitement ended after around ten minutes and I gave one last effort to try to make it to the post office before it closed. I didn’t make it and it seemed my downfall may have been watching the bear too long. It all worked out because I met a nice man on the bus who seemed very interested in my journey. Once I got to town it was the boring town chores to do such as laundry, shower, shopping, and getting batteries charged at a fast food place. About halfway through the chores dr Chonzy called me and said that he and noodles romanoff wanted to get a room at the motel 6. It was done and it is around my 5th real bed in 2 months.
Day 56-new gear
Thanks to some of the nicest people I know and also the post office for getting most of it here in time, I got some lighter, better, and cooler gear to use for the rest of the trail. Escalator and hot cheese were so nice as to mail out some of their old (but still very good) gear to me while they are off trail. It was like Christmas when I opened those boxes! No more having to use a pack that needs sewing up every evening just to make it for another day. The one downfall was that I had to wait until 130 for the post office to get it all in. Then I had to go through all my old stuff and mail 3 boxes home. Finally around 4 it was off to the mammoth bus. I rode one trolley to the village, another to the main adventure lodge and then a third to reds meadow to get back on the trail. On the last bus I was a celebrity. One family wanted to get pictures with me and the man bought me lunch. People are so great! I was happy to answer any and all questions the back of the bus could throw at me. It was fun to be able to share my experiences and hopefully inspire others to do something they have always wanted to do. When I finally got to reds meadow I talked with some fellow hikers for a while the moved on to the trail. Almost immediately I noticed that there was going to be snow almost this whole section to tuolomie meadows. Its going to be interesting. Due to getting on the trail at 6 and wanting to sort out my gear, I only got in 5 miles today. Conditions holding up, I still hope to make tuolomie tomorrow. By the way I have no idea how to spell tuolomie meadows. Its by yosemite.
Day 57-old hiking friends
Tonight for the first time in over 500 miles I am camped with goodness and zim. It was nice to walk the second half of the day with them as well. I was really starting to drag. I just woke up next to Johnston meadow with no energy but still made myself keep going. In a day with many more breaks than usual, I still got in 22 miles which is a decent day in the sierras. The trail began with seeing a dow in the meadow when i woke up and other hikers said the fawn was sleeping right on the trail. I walked by many lakes in my hike today including thousand island lake which was very beautiful. It had many islands as you could guess and was surrounded by snowy peaks. After passing that lake among other smaller ones I began the brutal climb to the last 11000 foot pass I climb, Donahue pass. This is where I met the fellow hikers and together we powered through the multiple miles of snow walking. We made it up over and into yosemite where we are camped a few miles over the pass.
This is my favorite picture I have taken of the trip so far!
Day 58- trail magic reappears
It’s been 300 miles since we had on the trail, magic in walker pass and it was so welcome again. It was extremely awesome to have rides in onion valley, but the unplanned trail magic is the best. After camping a couple miles down from Donahue pass, we walked through the patchy snow and thick mud all the way through yosemite valley. It was beautiful. The meadows were green and usually full of snow and for a while it was out of reach of most day and weekend hikers. Sadly though, we entered the national park where it was a zoo. I did get plenty of congratulations and handshakes from people amazed at the pct hike. Finally I got to the store and got my ice cream. We hung out for a while, ditched our bear cans, and sat at the picnic tables and then the magic happen. Shamus and his daughter I believe showed up to perform some trail magic. They had chips pop beer and burgers what more could we want, and the Danes mom came with brownies bagels and cream cheese. It was so awesome! I love the unexpected trail magic. Sadly everyone began to leave even the trail angels and we decided to hike to glen aulin campground for the use of the bear boxes. Along the way it was real flooded over the edges of the bridge and the trail, but not too terrible. Apparently it peaked a couple weeks ago. Tomorrow we will hike 24+ miles to get out of the bear canister zone and be home free for the rest of the trail.
Day 59- picking it up
I decided it was time to pick up my miles. Even with the amazing amount of snow that is still on the trail. I would say in the last week, over 60% of my time is spent on the snow. It really slows me down as well. I got a much later start on the day, not leaving glen aulin until around 8. This is probably due to the overstuffed state I went to bed in and needed the extra break. It was an easy walk for the first 10 miles including an easy ford of return creek. It has gone down a couple feet in just the last week or so rangers said. Then I pushed on and hit tons of snow above matterhorn canyon. So much that I lost the trail and spent an hour finding it. When I did find it I ended up going the wrong way for maybe a quarter of a mile before I saw goodness and Zim walking towards me. After makeshift skiing and sliding down the side of the canyon we somehow got separated. I was unsure if they were in front or behind me so I walked fast for a while then took an extended break to no avail. I kept going on my own. I easily made it over the 10000 foot benson pass, and on the way down I began following some foot prints that lead me to a foursome who figured out they had gone the wrong way. We knew where the trail was, 1000 feet below the granite cliff we were on. Instead of staring as the rest of them were, I just climbed down. It took a while and lots of scheming but I made it safely. At the bottom I saw lafonda and eurotrash whom I had seem in mammoth, and tualumne meadows. They had a gps and from there we found the trail. I soon passed by them and headed for benson lake which required 2 creek crossing. The first was just snow melt and I walked on a log across. The second was piute creek and it was huge. I just walked upstream to before all the tributaries came together and did a combination of wading and log walking to get across the five separate creeks. I set up camp having gone 26 miles with close to half of it in snow. The Mosquitos have slowly gotten terrible and going through a very pretty yosemite meadow I got eaten alive. Tomorrow I should reach mile 1000 if everything goes well!
Day 60- a lot for nothin
Today was a rough day. The 19 miles I did felt more like 30. I was either walking on a snow covered trail or attempting to locate the trail. I’m sure I walked over 25 total miles today as was the plan. I woke up at benson lake and began my climb towards Pearson pass. There was snow all over as I neared the top. I was just hoping the footprints were right. I made it over the less than spectacular pass with ease and began the decent into Kerrick canyon. It was one of the scariest parts of the trail so far. I had to walk along a 60% grade hill, if I fell I would have ended up in rancheria creek. Which was really moving. I made it along and decided to cross the creek before the trail did and walk the other side until I saw the trail crossing. This was a bad idea and after I crossed I walked for so long i thought I missed the trail. Then the brilliant idea came to try to cross the creek back to the original side and walk along that to find the trail. This did not go well as I forgot to put my camera up high and it may be ruined now from the wetness. I made it fine and the trail ended up crossing only 100 yards further down than I was at. This ordeal took up all morning so I had lunch only 8 miles into the day. Next uncounted out of that canyon into another with some easy log walking to cross the creek. Around wilmer lake I met mowgli and shaker. They had a gps so I stuck with them for a while. Eventually we got to Fall creek. It was enormous and very scary so we walked upstream for a mile or two looking for a place to cross. Since the water does not bother me too much an I do well in crossings, I would always try out a potential crossing place. After maybe 10 different spots that looked just a little too deep or fast we got to one that looked manageable. The only problem was that we could only see the near half of the creek because it was so wide. I tried it our. I got halfway and it was waist deep with a mild current. A little further and it was to my belly button but I only had 20 feet to get to the other side. It got deeper but I went for it. It was almost to my shoulders so I went diagonal downstream with the current and made it across, and i was also soak and wet. I looked back at the other side and they said it was too deep and would move on. I surveyed the damage and all that was wet was a little bit of my sleeping bag. Not too bad! I laid it out, had a snack then pushed on for a couple miles before having my first fire in over a week. It was needed to warm up. Tomorrow hopefully I can get in some bigger miles.
Day 61- two months
I have been out on the trail 2 months. I have walked 1018 miles in 47 days of walking. I have been through 3 packs, 2 tents and 2 sleeping bags but my body is holding up and i am still enjoying it. Today I got up along fall creek which is huge and attempted to follow footprints all the way out of the snow and to Sonora pass 25 miles away. It took 13 hours but i made it in about 830. It was a pretty straightforward day and a special one because it was the longest stretch of walking I had without snow in week: 6 miles. When I got to the end of this stretch i got to the end of the canyon and knew how i had to climb the 1500 feet out. But I was having trouble finding the trail, so I went straight up the mountain. Sure enough the trail was there at the top and who knows how it got there. I raced the darkness across the crest of the mountains and finally came to where we decend to sonora pass. Lukily i could glissade (slide in my but down it and covered the 2 miles in 20 minutes. I set up camp at a snowy campground here and am ready for the 3 day push to echo lake.
I don’t know why it took so long or why it cost me lots of walking and time but after 2 months I finally have the gps on my phone up and working the right way. It seemed to be just a setting I should have had on from the beginning. Today was a day I could have used it. I left Sonora pass early and the was greeted with the usual heavy dose of snow walking. I walked over some beautiful peaks and meadows covered in snow which makes for slow walking. Then I lost the trail right before boulder lake trail cutoff. I looked for maybe a half hour and then just decided to have lunch. I usually make it my rule to have found the trail in order to have lunch or camp but I had put in a strong 13 miles and was hungry, so I ate. After lunch I was so lucky and ran into the trail right away. I was fine until it passed golden lake and there I lost it again. I went up the hill and back down it 3 times looking and finally found it at the top. During this time the clouds moved in and made the mountains into a hazy shadow. It was pretty amazing and thankfully it didn’t rain. I then went over a pass and mistakenly went into the canyon because that is what the map made it look like. So I had to climb straight back up the peak to meet the trail. Somewhere in here I lost the cap to my water bottle literally capping off a pretty terrible day. I did find a beautiful place to camp in a nice meadow! All I can say is I wish I had gps figured out earlier due to the fact it was the worst snow year in over 50 years.
Today I had a couple interesting falls. It as a whole today was a lot less snowy than the previous days, so when there was snow, I was trying to power through it. All up over bear creek pass was snowy, but the snow really became patchy. It was nice for getting in fast miles. Just before the bear creek pass i met outlaw, bob and 2 other people I didn’t catch their names. The falling occurred on one of the steep snow covered decents into a canyon than occurred many times today. Most the time when we get to one of these we just put our feet down and ski down it. This method is only good when its short. This was a long steep one and i just decided to go for it. I got to the bottom and it was mud, when I expected dirt and BAM! faceplant. It was not so bad, at least it was soft. Well I brushed myself off and kept going. I ended up making it about 27 miles today, leaving 26 to get into tahoe. Other events of today are I met an Austrian named garfunkel, I slipped crossing a creek and broke my trekking pole trying to break my fall, and I passed an empty cooler of trail magic. I would say an eventful day. And also no worries I only hurt my pride on both the falls.
Day 64-mikes place and echo lake
I finally made it to echo lake and south lake tahoe through all of this crazy snow. In the last 200 miles I have been frustrated beyond anything I’ve experienced before but also more excited and had fun. Between walking on vistas above everything and valleys with trees all around and no footprints to be seen, this section had everything. Today was going to be my last day in it if I could walk 26 miles to echo lake post office and get my package. All in all, I made it! Through treacherous snow, the worst so far, for an 8 mile stretch with so much cloud cover i couldn’t tell directions without a compass that had no footprints to be seen. The best part of today was when I went through Carson pass and the volunteer, Ginger, at the visitors center had snacks, banana bread, and soda for us thru hikers! I was the first one of the day and the banana bread was a fresh loaf. It was wonderful but i had to finish the 16 more miles into echo lake, so I had to say goodbye and walk through nice meadows and wildflower covered hills until I came to the snowy forest. After that, I decended into the valley where echo lake was and regained service to post all my blogs. I am now staying at the trail angel mikes with 15 other hikers including the phenom 12 year old girl sunshine and her dad balls.
Day 65- mom knows best
I’m sure everyone remembers when they were a kid and wanted to just eat junk food all day but your mom wouldn’t let you. Well that is exactly what I did today with no mom around. All I had was ice cream for breakfast and then cheetos and Oreos for the rest of the day. It was a terrible idea and I was dragging all day. So tonight for dinner I had some really good new Mexican stew (dehydrated). Even with the terrible food moving through me I got 20 miles in after starting at 1030 from echo lake. Not bad! There were many day hikers out in desolation national forest. The ranger Brent who I talked to said that it is the most used national forest, at least on the pct. He is also the first ranger to check my thru hiking permit. So I showed him and moved on. Even though they said there was not going to be much snow and I went over my last 9000 foot pass (dicks pass) there was still snow all over around 8000 feet. It really drained my energy. Of the hikers I saw today, there was one very nice lady who said she was following all the blogs and was amazed at the few of us that were walking still through this record snow year. It was nice to hear someone talk about how we were inspirational. Hopefully tomorrow I can get close to Truckee, but tonight I am real tired.
Day 66- tahoe
Much of today was spent walking around lake tahoe. It’s amazing there is still snow on the ground here too. According to one ranger, 6 ski resorts were open until the 4th of July. I walked through a few of them. At one, we had many downhill switchbacks so I cut them by sliding down the snow. I was essentially skiing in one of the tahoe ski areas. I wasn’t feeling my best all day by still pushed on and got a high 20s day in. Tomorrow it’s on to Truckee to stay with some cousins. It’s the first time I have stayed with people i know since the beginning. Hopefully I can replace my trekking pole there and get some snacks for the push to Beldin.
Day 67- seeing cousins
Another day of touring Tahoe and skiing the resorts. Today i got three ski resorts to myself. I got to ski/slide down the snow of squaw and sugar bowl ski resorts and then a quick 15 miles and I was into Donner pass and shortly after in Truckee. Here I could stay with some cousins I have not seen in years. We were thinking around 6. I got up around 530 (I’m trying to get back to my schedule from the dessert because it is not so cold in the morning) and I walked a few miles before I realized I had lost my water bottle somewhere in the last 24 hours. It was not terrible, as I would be in a town within a day, but it did limit how much water I could drink throughout the day. I would have to drink out of my bowl. With that small problem aside, I got to got through most of the ski areas around tahoe and then walked a long ridge that had great views all around. As I neared Donner pass there became more and more day hikers. I did not really feel like talking to them so I put in my headphones. I finally got to Donner pass and hitch hiked to the safeway in truckee where I did some shopping and was soon picked up by my cousin Darren. I got to his house and got to see his wife Sheryl and son Quinn for the first time in 6 years. Later his other son Carson got home from football and it was nice to catch up with all of them. They even fed me a great tri tip steak for dinner with potatoes! It’s sure better than trail food. To make things even better, Darren gave me a ride to Reno where I exchanged my broken trekking pole for a good one! The night ended with me getting to watch one of the rare giants games I have gotten to see during the year. Hopefully tomorrow I can replace my broken camera.
Day 68- the best meal on the trail
The stay at my moms cousin Darrens ended as well as it began. I had an awesome time with the whole family an was almost considering staying another day, but I need to keep moving to finish this trail. This morning I got up at the same time I do in the woods, sunrise, and had the rare luxury of coffee. Then Darren made me eggs on toast. It was awesome. I uploaded some photos and soon everyone was up. The kids and Sheryl had to go to football camp so I said bye to them and began getting my stuff ready to go. Once I was all packed Darren asked me if I wanted a chunk of salmon. Of course after growing up on a fish heavy diet, I said yes. So he gave me a five pound chunk of frozen salmon. That may have weighed me down but it was worth it. I walked for a long time with the sound of interstate 80 in my ear, and then the quiet followed along with a trail blanketed in snow. This would continue all day, and I thought I was out of it. Either way, I went by Peter grubs cabin (special hiker something I didn’t stop). And then up and down many snowy ridges. Before I knew it, it was 630 and that was the designated time I would cook the salmon. I figured I should cook it before I camped as I’m sure it would attract animals just with the smell. I cut the large piece into chunks and poached them separately. I added some salt when they were done and enjoyed the best meal ever on the trail. I’m sure it’s a better meal than most people had at home! After I cleaned up I dropped into a valley only to climb up the other side and ended up camping on a ridge and got to witness a spectacular sunset. There were for sure red orange an yellow in the sunset if not more. Colors are not my forte. I will sleep good after 23 miles with this salmon in me!
Day 69- ending of snow?
Last night I camped at 8000 feet and saw a great sunset. Tonight I have witnessed the same. I usually hike until about 8 and then between cooking and setting up camp, by the time I go to bed the sun is setting. But the best thing about today was not the sunset, or my visit to Sierra city. It was the transition from snow… To no snow! Finally! In a normal year I would have been walking on solid trail for over a month. But not in this crazy record year. I descended In many miles from 8000 feet to 4000 feet and highway 49. As I did so I witnessed the snow slowly becoming more and more scarce. Actually as I neared highway 49 it got hotter then I am used to. At the highway I decided to hitchhike the 2 miles into Sierra city, only to find that no one would pick me up. Then finally after over a half hour I got a ride in to town. Sadly it was 3 and since it’s a small town none of the restaurants were open except at meal times. Since I was not going to stick around I had to settle for some mediocre, and extremely overpriced hot dogs from the general store. I also got a drink in order to have another waterbottle for the next section and then left town. It was as tough to get a ride out of town as it was into it.’the guy who gave me a ride dropped me off a half mile past the trail so he didn’t save me much time. Here I began the steep 8 mile hill. But after the high Sierras and climbing the equivalent of mt hood every day for two weeks, this hill did not stand a chance. At the top I met wet smoke, wiz and one other guy I can’t remember. I moved on and camped with an amazing view and made some wonderful new Mexican stew.
Day 70-what? More snow
Today was hard. Today was long. And worst of all, today had snow. I began from the top of the highest ridge in the section and descended into the mountain roads of the Sierra buttes. I met a few people on these roads. First off a guy who is newly retired and out enjoying the outdoors. Second was a group from silicon valley doing some hiking. They had an enterprise truck that had all their food for the trip. My skills at getting food out of groups has gotten good so j gave it a try. I first asked for water, they gave it and then when I started telling my story they gave me a sandwich, 2 apples, and a bag of brownies. Yogiing(the bear) at its finest. From here it was lots of up and down with tons of snow until I met serious guy and banana warrior (the southbounders). They are only walking for a month and they started at Dunsmuir, but they had great information: according to them today would be the last day of snow! So I trucked through it, climbing up to mid seven thousands an then dropping back down only to climb again. It was a bit of a struggle. I did get my “your not in the sierras anymore” moment late in the day though. Because I havent carried water for over a month, I wasn’t carrying it at the end of the day and when I wanted to start looking for a place to camp by water on the map the next one was 7 miles away, and it was already 715. I picked up the pace but ended up being saved by alder spring. It was 3/10 of a mile off the trail and not on the map. But I saved me 5 miles. Lately I have been dragging and not havin much energy so at the end of my 33 mile day I am eating 2 dinners, as that is what I believe the problem is. I JUST CAN’T EAT ENOUGH!
Day 71- out of the snow
A day with no snow is so nice. By 3 in the afternoon I had 30 miles done. In the snow it would take all day. I began just past the Quincy-Laporte road and worked my way up a large trail. I didn’t see anything special in the morning, but when the afternoon came and it began to get hot I saw lots of deer. One fawn was just in front of me and ran down the trail about 100 feet in front of me. It would run ahead and then wait for me to catch up and then run ahead again. Since my camera’s zoom got ruined when it got wet, I did not get any pictures. The large hill climbed today was rewarded at the top with a view of a giant valley with no snow. We wound our way around the hill and then I saw an awesome sign saying trail magic was taking place at a couple’s cabin. I hooked up with the couple raven and lovebird and we walked to their cabin. At the cabin we found beverages, snacks, laundry, and a shower. When they got back from town they cooked us tri tips for dinner with corn salad and rice pealoff. It was awesome. Tomorrow I will be getting into Beldin and getting a new camera and new shoes.
Day 72- a change in scenery
The trail magic at the Williams was so amazing. This morning they cooked had eggs bacon pancakes fruit coffee and juice for us. Actually eggman cooked the eggs. But What more could a through hiker want? Alas I had to leave around 830 to get back on the trail, hike to belden and then get part of the way up the hot, steep, 16 mile climb out of belden. Everything seemed to work out. We walked through a forest for a while on flat dirt trail! It’s nice to see that again. Then we had a short 1500 foot climb to Spanish peak. Along the way I saw 3 ruffed grouse right by the trail and many fawns once again. After a while I soon caught half fast and red blaze who had started 5 miles ahead and I decided to take lunch at that point. A short lunch and I was back on my way to hiker haven in belden. Around 7 miles out you could see the highway many vertical feet below you, all knowing a long series of switchbacks would ensue to get you down there. I just walked for a while and finally made the highway.’from here it was a 1.3 mile walk to the trail angels or you could call and they would get you. Sadly none of us had their numbers. We walked it and I got a nice shower for the second day in a row along with my new camera and new pair of shoes. I was set. So I planned to walk out 6 miles and make it a 31 mile day. Unlike when I was in the snow, I was able to accomplish my goal. Along the way I saw a rattlesnake and 2 more fawns. Must be the northern California dessert area now. I also talked to some flip floppers today who said the snow is really over until at least crater lake and hopefully that snow melts by the time we get there. We have a unique view of the flip floppers (not doing the trail straight through) because we went through the hardest section at the hardest time in the hardest year. Hike your own hike though.
Day 73- another thirty
Another day over thirty miles today! I believe the count is at 7 now. It’s really starting to drag me down. I believe it’s due to the inability to come even close to keeping up with the calories I burn day after day and also it is just 30 miles which is a long way. Tomorrow I am going to do a high 20’s day into drakesbad guest ranch which is very hiker friendly and I heard has big meals. I hope to spend the night there to eat breakfast and dinner and hopefully use their hot tub. Today was a decent day starting off with the end of the 16 mile climb that I had started yesterday. At the top there was quite a bit of snow, but it did not last long at all. At this point we could finally see mt Shasta well and I assume into Oregon past that. The rest of the hike was up and down around 7000 feet with a view of Shasta the whole time. I started to drag around 3 and suddenly came to a sign that said trail magic was coming up. This gave me new energy and I picked it up for the last quarter mile to humboldt summit. A lady named Katie who I actually met while she was hiking around Sierra city was making hiker hot dogs and hamburgers and also had beverages for us. She said she hopes to hike the trail in 4 years when she can retire. It was real nice but I had to not stay long if I wanted to stay at the mid point mileage wise of the trail (I am already past half way time wise hopefully). So I left the trail magic and basically did a horseshoe around some ridges and ended up climbing butt mountain and shortly after I made it to the mid point where I camped and made some tuna fettuccini Alfredo. I am going to bed somewhat early to try to get some energy for tomorrow.
I woke up at the midpoint of the pct and began my quest to drakesbad where I hoped to have dinner. I made good time an got a quick ten in to the highway to Chester. As with nearly every opportunity to get into a town, as I neared this option I began to weigh the pros and cons of going into town. On one hand I could resupply to get me to seiad valley, but on the other hand it could impact me making dinner at drakesbad. I decided to keep walking even though I am creating a dilemma with my shortage of food and the shortage of places to resupply ahead. I figured it would work itself out. Sure enough, after flying through the 28 mile day into drakesbad and finding a pct section hiker (hotshot) going the wrong way on the trail, I made it for a wonderful dinner of bread salad potatoes and chicken. Then even brought us the extra food. It was wonderful. After dinner other thru Hikers that were leaving gave me 4 extra meals they had. I then got my shower stuff and got cleaned up for the 3rd time in 4 days! After the shower came the pool. I soaked for a good while and told my stories to a couple ladies. They were impressed and gave me a bunch of food and 2 lunches! I am becoming a pro at getting food from impressed people. My night ends later than usual stealth camping just off the dirt road into drakesbad because I could not find the campground that is a half mile away. Maybe I didn’t walk far enough, but who wants to at 1030. Tomorrow will be a drakesbad breakfast and then hopefully a resupply out of the old station gas station 24 miles away.
Day 75-night hiking again
Even when the opportunity exists for my body to sleep in, I still wake up between 5 and 6. It’s hiker time. Since I was up at 6 and it was a chilly morning I decided to go for a dip in the hot-spring fed pool at drakesbad. It was a great idea until I had to get out. At that point I froze. At 730 they had a great breakfast for us: chorizo breakfast burrito and an all you could eat in an hour breakfast buffet of cereal fruit oatmeal toast and bagels. Of course we ate the whole time. At that point it was time to leave. We closed our tab which was very cheap for two meal and walked on. The nice thing about the walk was that it was extremely flat. No big hills or surprises and we could really get some decent miles in quick. With a view if Shasta most of the hike I got in 25 miles by 5, after starting at 9! It was an average hike as far as scenery goes. Most of it was in pine forests, but we would get an occasional glimpse of the surrounding from a small ridge along the way. When I arrived at old station I went directly to the store and got some good snack food for the next couple days, 3 tacos, and a drink. Surely after only 3 tacos I needed 3 more. While us hikers were sitting around eating the topic of all the recent trail magic came up and how there were so many possible shower options. We decided that it was almost too much and that 2 showers in a row is nice, but 3 in 4 days was almost conforming to society. Then pine, top shelf, lovebird, raven, and myself decided we should at least make it 4 more miles to the last water before the 40 mile waterless stretch (longest on the whole trail). So we walked 4 more miles to the subway trailhead. At this point I felt so good I decided to night hike a few miles of the waterless stretch. So I got in about 5 more. No one else wanted to go with me. It brought my total to 34 miles today. Hopefully tomorrow I can make it to burney falls state park and inch a little closer to Oregon.
Day 76- exhaustion
The plan was to do 38 miles. It would have been done if I had not opened my food bag 31 miles in an realized all I had left was beans and top roman. I figured I better resupply for the first time since truckee. I hitched in on the highway and did not have to wait too terribly long. In town I had a nutritious meal at McDonalds and bought way too Much food. It will work out since I need to eat more. The hitch out was real easy. A guy in an old beater sedan with motivational tapes playing picked me up. When he dropped me off at the trailhead he promised to pray for me. I then walked 1 more mile and camped…exhausted. Prior to all this I got up at 430 to hike the hat creek rim while it was cooler. It was a very pretty view of Shasta from it. But as the day went on it went from pretty to just hot. All us hikers are used to snow not heat, so a lot of breaks took place. At least the cache at the midpoint was full and my solar charger worked pretty good to get some kind of charge into my nearly dead phone. When I finished the waterless stretch at the Crystal lake fish hatchery I met two section hikers who looked like they were exhausted. They were amazed I was hiking on. Well I am exhausted now and cannot stay awake to write another line.
Day 77- a heavy pack again
It’s been so long since my pack was fully loaded I had forgotten what it feels like. After putting it on in the morning I immediately wished I had bought less food. But I wad stuck with it so I just pushed on. The only way to get my weight down was to eat more. So by early afternoon I had eaten so much I could feel the difference. I flew through burney falls state park in the morning, only stopping to look at the large lake britton. From here It was all uphill and I really started to feel all the weight in my pack. When I say I bought too much food it’s true. I had 2 pounds of cheese, 1 pound of summer sausage, tons of pop-tarts, and many other things. These are not really things I needed, mostly just things on sale at Safeway in burney and they sounded good. That’s basically how I shop now and it kills me for a couple days every time. So climbing this medium sized hill was a real chore and required many breaks. I was just real tired. But when I finally got to the top I had a wonderful view of Shasta. The rest of the evening was spent skirting around on the nearby ridges heading mostly west. At the end of this section (60miles) we join back with I-5. Near the end of the day I was extremely exhausted again and decided to stop a little early (around 7) and get some extra rest. I keep getting closer to Oregon!
Day 78-a bit of everything
Another day, another hill with snow on it, but the same trail. Today was different for a few reasons though. I walked all over the trail, trampled on the snow and flew up the hill. The only problem was that this really tore up my feet. I tried to wash them in deer creek late in the afternoon, but this may have made it worse. To add to my tender feet, I pushed myself ten more miles after they began to hurt, bringing the total to 32. Hopefully with some gentle treatment they will heal up in a couple days. I am currently camped just a couple miles past where we crossed the mcloud river. Thankfully my pack weight has reduced and I am eating well. I am just hoping my feet are ok to walk on tomorrow.
Day 79- gametime
Overnight my status for being on the trail today went from questionable to probable. My feet didn’t get better, I just always feel better in the morning. I went to the trainer (me) and got taped up, tested it out and then told the coach (me) that I was good to go. For some reason I was mentally a lot better today too and the miles went by pretty fast. It was the end of the lame section that is basically made in order for us to rejoin I-5. Towards the end I did get into castle crag state park which was kinda cool. Then after I passed under I-5 and right at the border of castle crag I saw another black bear. This one was black instead of golden or cinnamon. It was also much smaller. When I did end up making camp after I had put in another 32 miles I decided to put on the apron and get out the oven mits. Despite the incredible number of Mosquitos, I was going to make bean burritos. Using some homemade beans that someone gave me because it was their extra food, an some tortillas, I cooked up the first meal my mom would actually be proud of. They tasted pretty good too. Tomorrow I have a day filled with lots of climbing. My phone has been on the edge of dying recently since my plug to charge it with the solar charger is worn out and when bumped it stops charging. So I can’t charge it while walking anymore. I will try to conserve battery in order to keep my streak of not missing a day alive!
Day 80- weather
Today I was hot. Not in my usual sort of way, but in the weather sense. Although I am very good looking after not having taken a shower in 200 miles, the temperature got up there today. It was nothing like high 90s. Just we are not used to the heat, we were exposed all day, and the temperature probably was in the low 90s. The good thing was that this gave me some opportunity to get enough charge in my phone to live to blog another day. This is great because my phone did die today. Aside from the weather I actually saw people today. Even better was that they were thru hikers. First I me wrangler. His name is perfect for him. He looks the part with his cut off shirt and he’s from north Carolina. Next was a group of section hikers who wanted my picture just because I was one of the few who went straight through this year. I should have asked if they wanted an autograph as well. Near the end of a 15 mile waterless stretch I met ironman’s mom and dad. they offered me snacks and juice! Even though I had taken a nutella (my new favorite snack on tortillas or bagels) break only 5 minutes previously I could not say no. We ate and ironman and no knees showed up and I got to meet them finally. Then when it was time to leave, wrangler showed up to the amazing and unexpected trail magic. Only a couple miles down the trail was a bucket with soda inside. Talk about a lucky day! Over the next few miles I met a few day hikers and knowing I smelled bad did not have enormous conversations with them. Finally two miles from deadfall lake (camping destination) I met serenity and three times the lady. The female couple that I had met earlier in the trip ended up flipping up north to Ashland. They said acorn (another previously met) was only a couple hours ahead. The next two miles into camp were filled with thunderstorms and a bit of rain. So I went fast. I got to camp and put up the tent, but my stuff in, washed my feet in the creek and the. Proceeded to cook and do all my nightly chores in my tent. This was smart because only a half hour later it began to pour and I got to test out this new tent in the weather. It will be much better as soon as I get the missing piece from seiad valley. Lots to talk about today. Hopefully tomorrow is as eventful. On the major bright side this section is much prettier than the previous ones. We walk on ridges with great views, there are flowers, and I am seeing familiar faces.
Day 81-another 34
Well as is the theme, I put in another 30+ mile day. This time it just happened to be 34. I’m not sure exactly how many days it’s been since I have done a day less than 30, but that’s ok. My feet are holding up and seem to be ok with putting up big numbers. In the home stretch of California I’m trying to avoid any foot troubles that it seems are pretty common around this time. I finally caught acorn today and he told me how some of the people in back were fairing. It seems that many of them have either skipped ahead or dropped out. In his words “the trail has become sparse”. Only a few more days until Oregon and I cannot wait. Seiad valley in 3 days is the next town I get a box in and boy do I need it. I have basically run out of snacks, so I am eating 5 meals a day to make up for the lost calories. I am either eating or walking at this point. If your wondering how it is possible to be able to go from a maximum of around 28 miles a day to consistently low to mid 30s I would say the only difference is efficiency. If you can keep everything you need for the day on top of your pack that can save you 5 minutes every break. If you take 6 breaks a day that’s 30 minutes and that equals a mile and a half. I have it dialed in where I am either walking or taking a break. I don’t mess with gear or equipment during the day. That happens in the evening. I also make sure to get 8 hours of sleep. That’s about it. The hike today was amazing. We hiked on the top of ridges and over huge jagged peaks. With the no snow (except one small patch) factored in, it was one of my favorite days. My feet are still not fully healed so hopefully that happens tomorrow.
Day 82- ducks vs. BEAVERS
The Russian wilderness and the trinity alps are both amazing places to hike. I went through both of them today. I got to walk on these amazing cliffs and ridges while looking down into basins with meadows, lakes and streams. There were also some snow capped mountains around to add to the scenery. This does not stop my desire to get to Oregon, but it does muffle it. Acorn, who I camped with got an early start and was on the trail before I was up. I made coffee for the first time on the trail this morning due to the fact that acorn mentioned it last night and it sounded good. It also gave me an extra boost. I caught acorn in the mid morning around highway 93 and I did not look back. I kept in trekking all day in the great scenery. A little before lunch I saw postop and homemade walking south. They said they got to mt Whitney and decided that it was not for them. So they took some time off and are now going south from ashland. They also said only about 15 true thru hikers are ahead of me. The day closed with a 12 mile waterless stretch. No big deal. I didnt even make it all the way to big bear spring(end of stretch) but I had overestimated how much water I needed so I had enough to camp. Right before the road to etna, I met 4 day hikers from Oregon (2from Corvallis and 2 from Eugene). So along with the millions of questions they asked about how I’m doing this hike, I finally got one thing I knew I missed about Oregon: ducks vs. BEAVERS!
Day 83- no food
Well I do not have no food. I have enough to get me to seiad valley tomorrow, but it is the leftover stuff that I’m not a big fan of. In addition it is the type if food that does not translate to great energy. I am totally out of snack foods and I would give just about anything to have a candy bar, nutella, pop tart or ritz crackers. Those are some of my favorite snacks on the trail. The last two days I have been surviving on top roman, beans and couscous. All are pretty bland and I have noticed my energy level drop with only those to fuel me. Anyways today I was dragging all day. I was hoping for a big day to set myself up to get into Oregon and meet my grandparents in the next couple days. I didn’t hurt myself for both of these to happen with 32 miles, but I didn’t help myself either. Around 3 in the afternoon I just hit the wall. While walking the ridges, meadows, and the lakes of the wilderness today, I met slip and sweep. They are thru hikers who skipped the sierras. Then I met two girls section hiking from burney falls to ashland among many different day hikers. While I was walking by paradise creek I had a grouse fly up out of the tall grass not more than 5 feet from me. It was pretty cool and it scared me. I also got to see an amazing sunset over the mountains to top off the day. The Mosquitos have gotten pretty bad in places where water is around. I can’t wait to get to seiad valley to get some food. Rumor is my sister stuck a dehydrated angel food cake in there. Then two days later I get to have lunch with my grandparents at callahans lodge!
Day 84-last day in Cali
First of all I apologize for having some trouble keeping the day numbers right on the blog. It seems I cannot count to 100. Will second grade take me back? I got up at 500 this morning to try to get the 21 miles I had to seiad valley in early enough to climb the hill out of seiad valley and edge closer to the Oregon border. I camped at the top of the 16 mile downhill into the tiny town and got a good start. I had enough food for a small breakfast so I ate that and then i had to make it to seiad for my next meal. I began the descent to grider creek and met a guy from Vancouver who is doing some section hiking with his friends. I pushed on and finally got to the first crossing of the creek. Since all crossings were bridged I didn’t have to worry about getting the feet wet. This is the point I realized I needed to crank up the music to get through the next 11 miles. I put on the headphones and started moving real fast. Before I knew it I had made it to the grider campground and the start of the 7 mile road walk. At this point I was out of food and very hungry. I had to push on. After I joined the paved grider road there were some blackberries that seemed to only make me hungrier, but at least it was something. I finally made it to seiad valley and went straight to one of the three buildings in town: the cafe. I had a great burger and fries with a coke in the opinion of a starved thru hiker it was great. After this I got my 3 packages including an angel food cake from my sister! I packed up and then went for some ice cream and candy bars from the store. Sadly the store was out of AAA batteries so I will have to go s little further with no headlamp. I also got to download some sports talk shoes with the cafe’s wifi to listen to on my way up the 8 mile hill out of town. I was off then. I grinded up the hill to the tune of the podcasts and caught up on my sports news. I also arranged to meet some cousins and grandparents at callahans in 2 days. The views after making it up the 9 mile hill in hundred degree heat made it all worth it! Another amazing sunset from there high ridges and another day feeling on top of the golden state!
I finished walking all over california around 430 today. It was a 1700 mile walk. Now it’s all Oregon. Along the 36 miles of today, I got to meet a few thru hikers. Early in the morning I meta group of section hikers consisting of mostly older ladies that I had met near castle crag. Then I met an older thru hiker that did not give me his age. Just judging by his appearance he had either taken lots of time at seiad valley to clean up or he has skipped a lot. Then around lunch I passed by bookworm who ended up skipping a somewhat large section north of yosemite. That’s where the big rivers were. He got his name due to carrying a kindle and he was reading it when I walked by. After meeting a few more section hikers, I met John duncan at the Oregon/California border. He is now named the bear wisperer due to seeing 17 bears already. Around the Oregon border, the ridge walking turned more into walking on rolling hills. It was still beautiful. Right before the border there were lots of cattle and all had bells around their necks so it was constantly noise. Only a couple of miles after crossing the Oregon border I saw 4 rednecks on the tailgate of their truck all with beers in their hand. They seemed to be camping on a dirt road. That was my welcome to southern Oregon. For dinner i cooked up some wonderful gnocchi with a little bit of mashed potatoes to thicken the extra water i had in it. Then for dessert i had an amazing angel food cake that my sister made me. I wish i had it every night. Tomorrow I will make it to callahans lodge where my grandparents will be there with some food and drinks. I am so excited to get there and see a familiar face. It’s only 18 miles!
Day 86- seeing some people I know.
Waking up with 18 miles to go in order to see grandparents did not seem bad, knowing I had until 1230 to get there and they would have lots of good food for me. Taking that into consideration, I put it in top gear and really flew through the miles. Not two miles in I passed John duncan’s tent and kept on trekking. The day consisted of a small climb followed by a long downhill into callahans. The walk was littered with day hikers mostly hiking their dogs. Finally around 1220 I arrived at callahans and saw my grandparents already there with kfc, dump cake(my favorite), drinks, watermelon, and overall enough food to feed a small army. It turns out that it only takes a few thru hikers to eat like one. No need for a trail name, steady, nice and myself were the first to dig into the feast. Gourmet, and John Duncan seemed to get their fill as well. This was the official becoming of trail angels for my grandparents. They were a hit and the center of the party. It was even better that they knew many of the places in northern California that we went through including castle crags, lake britton, burney falls, and the John muir trail since my grandpa hiked it many years ago with a bit of a different style It was a great afternoon of lots of chatting and good stories. Sadly it had to end. I had decided not to stay there so I hiked 10 miles down the trail after they dropped me off. This leaves 43 miles to get to the highway where they will pick me up and take me to meet my cousins, and do some chores like laundry and figure out how I will get food for the rest of Oregon. Did I mention I finally got a shower today as well. I won’t say how many days it was, only that it was too long. I’m surprised my grandma didn’t faint when she hugged me. Last but not least my grandma brought me the best snack if all:nutella.
Day 87-40 miler
I woke up to the tune of my alarm clock with the idea of completing the 44 miles I had left in the section today. But when I heard the alarm, I had no motivation to get up so I decided to sleep in. I finally got on the trail around 715 and I was all business. If it hadn’t been for so many day hikers I may have actually made it to the highway. First I met the day hiker Edward around 9 in the morning and he was very interested in my journey and he was one of those people that it was just a pleasure to talk to. So I played with his dog and told him about my trip for over 20 minutes. This happen many times throughout the day, but I never chatted with people this long and I had no interest in playing yogi bear today and trying to get some food. I just wanted to get to highway 140 and see my grandparents again and all the cousins I did not see on the 4th of July. I passed by hyatt lake and then Howard prairie lake where I believe they have a shooting range and a racetrack. My dad actually worked there one summer and trail ran in the pct. The day finished off with me putting on some music and really mashing some miles even through the somewhat bad Mosquitos. I ended up a little over 4 miles away from the highway. I can sleep in and then take my time getting to highway 140 where my grandparents will pick me up at 830.
Day 88- the Garmire crew
Eight miles was all I had today. Soon after waking up I saw a sign that said i had eight miles to go instead of five. That’s when I had to kick it into high gear. I walked about as fast as I could for a couple hours and made it to highway 140. I finally made it to where my grandparents would pick me up at the trail at 825 and I was expecting the grandparents at 830. Once I connected with them, they came and got me. As their car came down the highway, a real skinny coyote ran across right in front if their car. They picked me up and surprised me with a couple homemade egg mcmuffins that were pretty darn good. They drove me back to their house and we talked and caught up along the way. Back at their place I got my chores of laundry, shower and food packing done and then we were off to pick up a few things. We hit Costco, and then went to the eagle point walmart that has some of the strangest customers of any walmart. Inside as we were beginning to leave, we saw wrangler shopping in the walmart. It was a shock because he had asked if I knew of any walmarts couple hundred miles ago and I didn’t even think to tell him eagle point (near medford). We ended up giving him a ride to the bus stop since he already had a hotel in ashland. My grandma was so happy to be able to help him even a little. We made our way home, uploaded some pictures, and before I knew it, my cousins were on their way over. Between all my southern Oregon cousins, my brain was picked clean with no questions left unanswered. The best part was that everyone brought snacks, and wonderful dinners and desserts that were high In calories (what I need lots if). It was definitely the best overall day of eating on the trail. I was stuffed all day long. After showing pictures, eating and just catching up with family, I finally got to make use of my night with a real bed around eleven. Even though it was way past my bedtime, it was well worth staying up to see everyone. The plan for tomorrow is walk a little further down the trail when I can motivate my grandparents to kick it in gear and get me to the trailhead.
Day 89- back to the trail
After a wonderful 24 hour break from the trail, I had to get back on the trail. My grandparents didn’t give in easily though. With a large breakfast of eggs, hash-browns, bacon, orange juice, coffee, and biscotti they did make me consider staying another day. But I had made my choice and began packing up my stuff. I had enough food to get all the way through Oregon there, so I packed up some and am still looking at where I want to mail it. I got some more pictures up on the blog as well today. Then finally around 1230 I hit the trail. I have no complaints about the time. I had such a wonderful time with some of the extended family in southern Oregon. It was apparent everyone had done a good job feeding me when I went to buckle my hip belt. I had to loosen it to get it on but I’m not complaining. I was so rested and in such a good mood that the miles just flew by today. Before I new it I had passed by four lakes trail and began getting eaten alive by Mosquitos. I have a net but I didn’t want to dig for it, so I just walked as fast as I could for a few miles. I could not take any breaks without having hundreds on me. At one point I stopped to tie a shoe and by the time my poles were down there were three on top of my hand. I probably killed 400 mozzis (mosquitos) while hiking. The day ended a bit early as I had done 21 miles in 7 hours with breaks included and was plenty satisfied and also hungry. I made some dehydrated mushroom spaghetti that was about average for my meals, but did fill me up. I will be passing out to the tune of the thousands of buzzing Mosquitos around my tent.
Day 90-the breakfast break
All night there was a bear growling about 100 feet from camp. He never came into camp which was fine with me. He sounded like he was in pain which may explain him being there all night and not even coming into my camp. Due to the bear interrupting my sleep, I slept in and didn’t even start in the trail until 7. I walked 29 miles through snow and millions of Mosquitos and made it to mazama village where I destroyed their buffet. I had six plates of turkey, mashed potatoes, lasagna, and apple cobbler. While sitting their I saw there were 32 mosquito bites on my right arm alone. I hate those things. At the buffet I met alienwalker. She is a through hiker who has done some skipping, but she was nice. After dinner I headed out and planned on walking 7 miles to a good viewpoint where I would watch the sunrise. It ended up I went down the wrong trail for 4 miles costing me time and energy. I had to back track and then still do the 7 miles. I had to walk until midnight but I did end up making it. It was strange to night hike because I would see lots of deer, but only their eyes reflected light. It was like a cartoon. I am glad to get to the beautiful crater lake. It only took 37 miles and it feels like a windstorm on the rim.
Day 91- the crater sunrise
Since I have been to crater lake before, I had to do something to make it special this time. I decided to night hike out to the rim and watch the sunrise. I awoke at some number that started with a 4 giving me under five hours of sleep. But the sunrise was absolutely worth it! It came up right over the rim on the other side of the lake. I knew I would need some kind of sugar to kickstart my day so I went with nutella on tortillas. This boosted me a few miles through some patchy snow walking but I could already tell I would be dragging all day from lack if sleep. It’s hard enough to go to work or even class on very little sleep, but walking for over twelve hours in a day makes it really tough. But I battled. When I sat down for my first break there was a small dust devil that I saw start up and continue for about a minute. It was about the size of a trashcan and not 5 feet from me. I continued on and needed some help from listening to the radio after we left the crater lake rim. This is also when the walking got really monotonous due to all the trees and no good views. The Mosquitos were out in force to make it even more enjoyable. Now I have a system of limiting the bites I end up getting. I am constantly wiping my neck, face, legs, and arms. I had a big day kills wise, raising my mosquito kills per day significantly. A few miles before the highway i saw a trail crew working on the trail and they offered me some water which I should have taken but I thought I had enough. And I would have, had there not been a significant amount of snow. After I crossed highway 138 I saw acorn again who seemed to have skipped up to crater lake. From here it was more snow than not, with most of it in large drifts that were pretty steep and hard to traverse. I actually ended up bending both of my trekking poles on the same steep snow field. I made it through that and to thielson creek where I was so thirsty I drank a whole liter within a minute and got an unpleasant brain-freeze from the snow cold water. From here I put in a few more miles bringing me to about 30 for the day and the ability to stop walking at 7 in order to catch up on some sleep.
Day 92- the midday swim
Waking up I had no idea I would have a relapse of the sierras. But in the year of snow, i should have known I would be seeing more snow. I had a couple miles of snow walking around the pct highpoint for Oregon and washington. I really had to search for the trail in some spots, but after coming this far I know I just have to fight through it. For some reason, all of today I was really tired. I think I need to start snacking more. Around 24 miles in i really hit the wall, I had to take a long break and just relax. But even when I started out again I was dragging. Luckily at this point there was a lake that I jumped in real quick despite the heavy clouds of hovering Mosquitos and that did the trick. I am camped 12 or so miles from willamette pass. Oregon is really flying by. Sadly the Mosquitos have really put a damper on the beautiful scenery.
Day 93- giving blood
A quick 14 miles into shelter cove was only quick because of the large number of Mosquitos around that were constantly biting and harassing me. So many bit me that they probably got the equivalent amount of blood as if I had donated. Shelter cove was solid and I got a hot dog for lunch as well as some AAA batteries for my radio and use of the terrible Internet. I met boots and David two section hikers here. Yogi the bear would be jealous of the rest of my day. At lower rosary lake some people gave me a bagel and cream cheese. Then after 12 miles of the worst Mosquitos so far I got to charlton lake where there was a group of family and friends camping from Eugene and they gave me access to everything. They were great and cooked me steak tacos hot dogs and marshmallows. I was going to walk further but they convinced me to camp there and said they would make me breakfast!
Day 94- late start
Well I stayed around for breakfast with the redneck hippies from Eugene. When I told them that that is what they are, they loved it. They also enjoyed my stories. I waited for breakfast and then ate as much as possible. Sadly it took me until noon to get my fill leaving me very little time to get closer to mckenzie pass. I still got in 27 miles, the most possible with the daylight I had. Tomorrow I need to do 30 by 430 so my old roommate lucas’s family can pick me up. I am not feeling great today, and I am nearly positive it is due to all the junk the Eugene party crew fed me. I can’t imagine 3 hot dogs for breakfast is a very smart idea. Well I packed out an orange and a sandwich and not far down the trail when I was setting up my solar charger, the mophie external battery for my phone broke and is a bit useless. I have no way to charge my phone. I had an amazing shepherd pie for dinner. I was almost too tired to cook, I was up late last night and I have to get up early again. The Mosquitos are a bit better, but their bites hurt and itch more now it seems. I believe I have killed more Mosquitos than the miles I have walked. as a result of the large number of Mosquitos, my legs feel like lego pieces with bumps over every square inch if them (all bites). It’s not the most fun hiking with all the mozzys, but its pretty flat and easy.
Day 95- more familiar trail angels
It was one of those mornings. I woke up early but did not want to get out of my sleeping bag. Time went by and I finally found the motivation to get started. With everything packed up and ready to go, I began my 31 mile push to mckenzie pass. I was going to do it by 5 as well. Little did I know there would be quite a bit of snow. On the bright side the Mosquitos were much more tolerable today as well. I walked past elk lake in the morning and met chemical burn. He got his name from putting on too much deet and it created a burn on his leg. He was still packing up so I moved on. I passed a few more day and section hikers throughout the day. The scenery today was fantastic, starting with the huge meadows we walked through with views of bachelor, and the three sisters mountains. We actually walked right by the south sister. This was cool because I have climbed the south sister a couple times. The whole day was made up of these spectacular views and even though clouds were in the sky, rain was avoided. I got to mckenzie pass around 5 and my friend Lucas picked me up and brought me back to his place where his mom made me a huge dinner of beans, enchiladas,rice, corn, and fruit. I even got a shower and some pictures uploaded. Later in the evening she pulled out strawberry shortcake and huckleberry ice cream and said they had a real bed for me to sleep in. It was amazing. Thru hiker heaven. Let’s see if my parents can match them in hospitality when I see them tomorrow.
Today I finally got to see my family. It’s been over 3 months and it has seemed to fly by. The day started with me waking up in a real bed at my friends house in Sisters. After charging up all my electronics, his mom made me a wonderful breakfast of sausage eggs French toast coffee and orange juice. Then I was taken to the trail and had 18 miles to go to make it santiam pass where my parents would be meeting me. I walked by the nice mt Washington and only encountered one small patch of snow. From there it was steady walking through a dry forest. I passed by big lake youth camp and crossed a few forest service roads before finally making it to highway 20 near santiam pass. A few minutes later my dad sister mom and grandma arrived to pick me up and we headed back to our cabin. Before leaving they left some trail magic (brownies, and beverages) for thru hikers passing through. The feeding began on the way back to the cabin. I was given sandwiches brownies and pop by my family who like everyone else I have seen commented on how skinny I was. At the cabin we took a dip in the river, ate steak and potatoes for dinner, chocolate pie and homemade ice cream for dessert, and also got my chores done. Later in the evening I got some stories and pictures of the trail in. It was the perfect day that I needed. I got to relax, eat and see my family. In the end it seemed like the 18 mile walk was a minor part of the day.
Day 97- mt Jefferson
It was strange walking today. Even though I only took a half a day off, it felt like it was much longer. I got a ride to the trail around 11 and didn’t start walking until close to 12. It was a bit sad to leave my family once again, but I will see them in cascade locks in a couple days. The majority of walking today was through a burn area around three finger jack. It was supposed to be mostly waterless, but with all the snow still around, I had no issues and did not need to carry much water. After we walked around the base of three finger jack, we had some amazing views of mt Jefferson. I am camped on a ridge with Jefferson straight to the north looking like a giant mountain. The views to the north east and west are amazing, while when you look south it is ruined by bare, burned trees. Mac and cheese is on the menu tonight and the goal for tomorrow will be to eat enough food to lighten my pack a bit. I was feeling pretty tired today as well due to two nights in a row of being up past eleven which is way past my usual bedtime and not being able to sleep any longer than 630. But I cannot complain about two real beds in a row. It’s the first time that has happen on the whole trip. Not much wildlife existed in the burn area. I saw only one deer and a ton of very small frogs that hung out by the snow. Tomorrow I will pass by pamelia lake area where my family has done quite a bit of backpacking.
Day 98- the tag along
Last night was cold and windy and I did not want to get out of bed. Finally around 615 I forced myself out and did a quick pack job of my stuff and was walking soon afterwords with the sole purpose of getting warmed up. Luckily we got to walk right around mt Jefferson on the west side offering some pretty stunning views. We walked around a horseshoe type ridge near woodpecker peak and climbed over a north facing ridge and came to a beautiful meadow, that is where the tone for the rest of the day was set – I met dreamlaugher. He is a 65 hear old man hiking the Oregon section of the PCT. He never stopped talking and most of his stories seemed far fetched. After a while I felt more like some peace and “quiet” and just enjoy the views along the trail so I put in my headphones but he still wanted to tell me more stories. I tried to out walk him, walking 12 miles in 3 hours and took a break, but who should appear, dreamlaugher running down the trail, looking like he was going to drop. I started walking again and made it to olallie lake where he caught up once again. From here it was a lost cause and he continued walking behind me talking my ear off with more stories. Around 8 I made camp and he camped with me and said he would keep hiking with me. Today he was with me for 30 miles of the 38 I did, got to give him credit for putting in big miles.! I suspect he will not be up when I leave tomorrow morning, we’ll see….. The day ended on a good note – I had some blue cheese mashed potatoes for dinner that were great. I am 39 miles from timberline lodge and should get at least close to there tomorrow.
Day 99- 52 miles
Today was the day I did over 50 miles for the second time. It began a little ways past Jude lake and ended past timberline lodge. It was really not a bad section, with a few lakes along the way including Timothy lake. The only thing that seemed to spoil some of it was the views were very infrequent, with all the walking in green forests. As I approached mt hood and began the walk around it, I was already around mile 45 for the day and the trail went up a sandy hill. It was pretty rough and was one of those climbs that 2 steps forward meant one back. Once up the hill, views of mt hood were amazing with the peak looking down upon us hikers. To add to the beauty, the trail was bordered with amazing wildflowers. As I went by timberline lodge there were many day hikers snapping lots of pictures of hood. It was strange to be walking under some of the ski lifts that I have snowboarded on, only this time the snow was gone. After crossing highway 26 at waipiti pass and highway 35 at Barlow pass today, the only section left is the 40 some miles I have to get to cascade locks. 52 miles was a giant day for me and I can tell I am exhausted and may not be so fast tomorrow. The key today was my pace was close to 4 miles an hour. Even though cascade locks is within a long day of where I am camped, i am thinking I will do it in a day and a half due to the anticipation of being pretty tired tomorrow.
Day 100-bye Oregon
I am camped about 10 miles from the end of Oregon. This means I will be sleeping on Washington soil until I am done with the trail. Waking up, I was tired and fatigued from my massive day yesterday, so I slept In a bit even so I made it 31 miles today. The first part of the day around mt hood consisted of climbing a ridge, then dropping down the other side to a river. This was repeated a few times and was somewhat annoying. But eventually I began to see some day hikers mostly on their way to either the muddy fork or Ramona falls. I even had to teach some how to read signs. From here we walked north and left mount hood in the dust. After clearing a couple hills and passing lost lake, we came to a ridge where hood was visible behind and st Helens, rainier, and Adams were visible ahead. It was pretty amazing. Soon after I departed the pct to take the eagle creek alternate route which I had been told by many past hikers was a must take. It was steep at the beginning and really put some pressure on my knees and legs to slowly descend. After two miles it became more gradual and was Just casual walking through a green northwest forest. Tomorrow I will complete the 10 miles of Oregon and take the rest of the day off.
Day 101- the gorge
It was a warm night in the eagle creek canyon and I didn’t sleep too well. It seemed much cooler in the morning so I got a couple hours of sleep in then before setting out on the ten miles to cascade locks. Going down the canyon was pretty amazing and the most beautiful trail I have seen in miles. The forest was green, the water was pure, and there were water falls everywhere. One waterfall called tunnel fall, you actually have to walk under the falls through a tunnel. When I got about a mile from the end of the trail I began to see tons of day hikers and many of them had dogs. Then the unexpected happen, after believing I would be hanging out in cascade locks until around 12 when my friend Tyler, I had 3 messages from my parents saying they were in town to meet me for breakfast. This motivated me and I ran the last 3 miles to where they were parked. I was greeted with the usual hug and comment on how skinny I looked. From here we crossed the river and had a wonderful breakfast buffet at skamania lodge. I stuffed myself completely. I packed up the food they brought me and before I knew it my friend Tyler was in town. We went to the hood river beach and swam around while avoiding parasailors. From here yet another friend Courtney picked me up and took me to a BBQ where her family and some neighbors were waiting to ask me lots of questions. I filled myself with hot dogs hamburgers and even pie for dessert. I chatted for a long while and even got my laundry done. It was great. Tomorrow they will give me a ride back to the trail and I will hike 20ish miles to camp with my parents.
Washington welcomed me with some of the largest huckleberries I have ever seen. They large blue and very sweet. After getting dropped off and walking across the the bridge of the gods, I had to climb up from only 140 feet to 4000. Around 3 I met up with my parents and sister where they would camp with me on the trail. We had good food and even a cake and s’mores for dessert. The trouble came when we went to bed and it began to pour. Then about 1 in the morning my tent collapsed and made a puddle in my tent and soaking everything. I got as warm as I could and decided to figure it out in the morning.
Day 103- the clothesline
Today I woke up with everything soaked. My sleeping bag was wet, I was wet, my tent was wet, and my pack was wet due to a tent collapse in the middle of the night. I did the best I could to not get too frustrated. Luckily my family was spending their time to camp out on the trail with me for a night and they had some great food for breakfast including eggs, bacon, frosting, bagel French toast, and coffee, all topped off with some trail made huckleberry syrup made by my sister. Once the great meal was over it was time to hit the trail. It was just one of those days I didn’t feel like walking. It was lots of climbing in the morning, only to have a 2000 foot climb all go to waste by descending down the other side of the hill. From here we just climbed even higher up into the hills east of stabler. I used my pack as a clothesline all day to dry all my gear out. At one point I had it so covered in things drying out, it concealed my pack. Day hikers were even giving me strange look. Even with the long time my bag had to dry, the sleeping bag is still very damp tonight. Luckily i am newly resupplied and got to have my favorite dehydrated food for dinner: gnocchi.
Day 104-everythings bigger in Washington
The fallen trees are huge, the Mosquitos are huge, the snowdrifts are huge and the miles are longer here. Even at a low elevation and not the most difficult terrain, I am getting tired earlier than I did in Oregon and northern california. I think all factors of the long trip may be wearing on me. I woke up in a damp tent on a ridge looking back at mt hood. It wouldn’t have been a problem but all day I was so busy fighting off the exotic Mosquitos that I had no time to dry it out. Even though I seemed to be going at a slow pace, the miles still crept by and before I knew it I was walking through Indian Heaven wilderness where my family has backpacked since I was a baby, during our last trip there in 2009 we ran into several thru hikers, inlcuding a retired guy named “peanut eater” who completed the PCT that year and this year is taking a shot at the continental divide trail (CDT). The Mosquitoes were pretty bad here just as they have always been. This was the lone highlight of a day filled with walking through thick green forests with lots of deadfalls and offering very few views of the area. I made it to trout lake creek, just past Steamboat Lake where I am camped at the best campsite I have had in a while. The only trouble is I still have a damp sleeping bag from 2 nights ago and a damp tent from yesterday.
Day 105- caching in
Waking up I could tell it was going to be a tough day. My body was tired, my mind was tired, and I was unmotivated to get up. Since I knew it could be a slow day, I forced myself out of bed and onto the trail at 7. Only 2 miles in I was dead tired and needed a break. I pushed on and made it to forest service road 34 where there was the most wonderful food cache in the world from the trout lake abbey. It contained apples, oranges, snack bars, complete meals, vitamin water, and even Starbucks frapachinos! It gave me the energy I needed to power up the long hill to the base of mt Adams. The views were spectacular. It was really one of the first good views of Washington. St Helens, rainier, and of course Adams were all visible and I snapped off plenty of pictures. On the descent down from mt adams i finally saw some elk. They took off as soon as they saw me, breaking branches and trampling bushes and scaring me a bit. As i left the mt Adams wilderness, the Mosquitos became unbearable around the lakes just before goat rocks wilderness. After 45 minutes and tons of bites, they began to lighten and I finally found a place I could set up my tent before I was eaten alive. I entered goat rocks wilderness just before setting up camp and tomorrow I will get to go through it. Some say it is one of the best on the whole trail. Even with being tired all day and very fatigued I still managed 33 miles.
Day 106-people watching
Today was a good day… After my morning meltdown. I packed up my stuff and got going close to 7, but only about a mile into the hike I began to get attacked by hundreds of Mosquitos. I was swatting them left and right but more just kept coming so I began to run down the trail to get away. It didn’t work and for a good five miles I was swatting them and yelling some choice words at the irritating insects.finally as I began to climb the goat rocks I got away from them. Early in the climb I saw a dad with his kid. Pretty normal except the dad was carrying two guns on his shoulder and neither of them had packs or even water. That set the tone for the day. I would see as interesting people as I would on a trip to Walmart. Down the trail I saw a large group of teenagers with the parents straggling behind. In that group alone there must have been 8 wife beaters and as many trucker hats. Then around noon i saw a guy in a dress shirt and jeans getting water and then his pack fell in the stream. He sprinted down the mountain and dove in and got his pack and waved to me like nothing happen. The strange assortment of people continued the whole day. I probably saw 150 people total. The goat rocks were pretty amazing. Definitely the best Oregon or Washington has offered so far, but it did not even compare to the sierras. Even so, the views of Adams, and St Helens were great and the view of rainier only got better as we walked on 6000 foot ridges towards it. In the last 2 miles of the day I even got to see the goats of the rocks. There were between 5 and ten and as soon as they saw me they bolted up the rocks. They move a little quicker than me. I had forgotten how tough it is to walk on snow. I am tired out from the 32 mile trek through the snowy goat rocks. There is 5 miles to white pass (trail mile 2303) tomorrow and then it’s 279 miles in 9 days to stehekin where I will meet up with my special guest who will finish the trail with me.
Day 107- the last resupply
I woke up and was on the trail around 630. I snaked up and around white pass ski area before dropping down to highway 12 and white pass. From here I made the half mile walk down the road to the kracker barrel and picked up the last of my resupply packages. It had about 6 days of food and other than that I will be just getting food out of gas stations the rest of the way. I bought ice cream, coffee, pastries, burritos, and a pizza pocket from this store and waited for some of my depleted electronics to charge. After I could not sit still any longer I made my way back to the trail. I was a bit too full, but it’s so hard to pass up real food. On the trail it was a winding path through beautiful lakes and wildflowers. Then as if that was not good enough, we climbed to the top of the ridges, yielding wonderful views of rainier. I would around these ridges with many gorgeous meadows and alpine lakes. Then I hears some thundering footsteps and looked into the meadow and saw over a hundred running elk into the trees. The next stream I came to had hundreds of frogs in it too. This section is full of wildlife. This trail is amazing in that if you have a couple bad days out here, it will take you high into the mountains and give you spectacular views and help you remember why you are out here. I passed the 30 mile mark for the day and was planning on 4 more to highway 410 but shortly thereafter I hit Dewey lake which was pretty amazing and something I decided was not worth passing up. It was the question of camping by a lake or a highway. I don’t know why I was so stuck on doing more miles. So I settled on a 31 mile day and am just fine with it (trail mile 2329) . Tomorrow I supposedly enter into one of the worst sections of trail through clear-cuts with many down logs. Thank you logging industry.
Day 108- into the clearcuts
Last night was the first night in a long time that I was actually cold. This just made me get up and get going quicker. The Mosquitos were somewhat bad until I was up by chinook pass and highway 410. From here I had to climb to sheep lake and then up even higher over yet another pass. Sheep lake had so many backpackers out for the weekend for such a small lake. From here we got to wind around some high hills with little water compared to the rest of washington. Because of how the hill were situated, there were great views of what’s in front and what was behind. Eventually I got to government meadow where there is the best of the three shelters that I have seen built on the trail. Here there was a family spending the last of their Sunday. I could just tell they would love to give me food so I went up and started talking to them. I ended up talking and snacking with them for an hour. They gave me a hot dogs, soda, and chips and when I said I was going they gave me marshmallows, Graham crackers, chips, and a candy bar. I only got in 6 more miles because of the time I spent at urich cabin. But I did get six miles into the dreaded logging section of the trail. In that time I had to climb up under and around multiple fallen logs. Tomorrow I may do the big day I had planned for today.
Day 109- snoqualmie pass
When I woke up this morning I was just too comfortable in my sleeping bag. This meant I didn’t get up and moving until after 7. But even so I wanted to get to snoqualmie pass today. It would be my last giant day of 42 miles. Even with the late start I was set on my goal. Almost all day was filled with logging land, a checkerboard of clear-cuts. In the morning the fog had settled into some of the lower valleys and made it half beautiful. I passed Tibetan a few miles in. He is an interesting guy and it was strange to see him after passing him over 1500 miles ago. He must have skipped up. The rest of the day was non eventful. Then about 8 miles before snoqualmie pass is where all the down trees started. Every other minute was spent climbing up and over some gigantic trees that laid across the trail. It got dark and I brought out the head lamp and cranked out the last few miles in the dark before arriving at highway 90 and the pass. To my dismay the chevron had closed a half hour early causing nothing to be open. I did find a power outlet to charge my phone and a spot right next to a ski lift to sleep. I will find a place for breakfast in the morning, buy a little food (mostly snacks) and head out.
Day 110- roller coaster
At 2 in the morning it started raining and I had to put my tent up. To do this I had to find my trekking poles which I thought I left by the power outlet. I walked the 100 yards over there and did not find them. They ended up being right by where I was sleeping. I put the tent up and slept the rest of the night. In the morning I was waiting outside of the summit pancake house when it opened. I got the biggest thing on the menu with every breakfast food imaginable. From here I got some snacks and a couple meals from the chevron and hit the trail. It began with a couple thousand foot climb. There was fog and clouds everywhere so I did not get to see any of the great views until almost 2 when it began to burn off. The trail was never flat always up or down. Over a pass then down to a valley. For the first time in a long time my legs are fatigued. I think it is due to walking at a fast pace to make up for my mid morning start. By ridge lake I met beacon. We didnt talk much as there were a couple day hikers there too. I walked with the day hikers for a while and was just happy to talk with people my age. They may not have been my best friend and we didnt even have lots in common, I just liked answering all their questions. At lunch time they turned back and I cranked on. Through lots of deadfalls and the challenging up and down of the trail I met many section hikers and crossed many streams. One of the larger creeks even had a washed out bridge and I had to cross on a branchy log. I finished out the day and am camped out on a windy ridge. It’s going to be a cold night.
Day 111- where is mr sun
Another sunless day on the pct. In fact there were so many clouds I could not even find my own shadow. With no sun, there was lots of moisture and just walking made it feel like rain. My body is extremely tired. I think I am at the nearing the end of my 30 mile days. For sure after stehekin I will be dropping my mileage significantly. I met many section hikers today and they were very intrigued, and always asked if I needed food. I didnt want to take there food so I declined that but gladly answered all of their questions. I have decided that of the people I have met on the trail, Washingtonians are the nicest. The huckleberries are giant and a constant distraction but they are too sweet to pass up. Overall even though the weather was freezing, the clouds ruined the view, and I had to sport the long johns under my shorts look, it was still a decent 30 mile day.
Day 111- where is mr sun
Another sunless day on the pct. In fact there were so many clouds I could not even find my own shadow. With no sun, there was lots of moisture and just walking made it feel like rain. My body is extremely tired. I think I am at the nearing the end of my 30 mile days. For sure after stehekin I will be dropping my mileage significantly. I met many section hikers today and they were very intrigued, and always asked if I needed food. I didnt want to take there food so I declined that but gladly answered all of their questions. I have decided that of the people I have met on the trail, Washingtonians are the nicest. The huckleberries are giant and a constant distraction but they are too sweet to pass up. Overall even though the weather was freezing, the clouds ruined the view, and I had to sport the long johns under my shorts look, it was still a decent 30 mile day.
Day 112- the real north cascades
It was freezing when I woke up this morning. It was so cold that I started out with my hat and gloves on until it warmed up. It may have been cold, but there were not so many clouds in the sky and it looked like I may actually get some sun today! Sure enough after my first climb to a pass the sun was shining right in my face. I completed the tough up and down section of snoqualmie pass to Stevens pass. I walked through the Stevens pass ski area and across highway 2 to begin the next section to stehekin. Immediately I was greeted with a slow gentle graded trail to walk on for over three miles. It was the first flat trail I have had in days. Soon enough the trail got to business climbing past Janus lake into the true north cascades. Walking on sharp ridges that give way to passes at 6000 feet made up of meadows full of wildflowers. It’s so amazing. Factor in the snow and it is truly beautiful. I finished out the day walking past pear lake where I grabbed some water to camp with. On my walk down to the lake off the trail I began to get chased by a dog. It scared me a bit but I recovered. The owner came after him soon. It wasn’t a problem, the real problem was that the guy had the best camp site at the lake so I had to climb the next pass and found an even better spot in a big green meadow. It could be another cold night. All the day hikers I passed today said that it would be nice the next three days, but I didn’t see anything but clouds for the last few hours of the day.
Day 113- glacier peak
Once again I woke up in the middle of a cloud. It was real foggy until sometime between 8 and 9 and then it was a beautiful day. I guess when they say it’s nice weather in northern Washington that means it’s nice between 8 and 8. Anyways, the day was full of climbing up and down ridges with spectacular 360 degree views of the northern cascades. After going over reds pass I sadly had to lose all of the elevation that I had gained to go over the pass, knowing I would gain it all again soon. On the way down there was so much snow that I could cut some of the switchbacks by sliding down the snow. I wound through an old growth forest and then just before Kennedy creek the trail became overgrown with blackberry bushes and mud. But after trekking through the mud I found some of the biggest huckleberries I have ever seen. They could have been mistaken as cherries. From here I was rock bottom and had to climb substantially to get to a series of creeks. This is when I lost all energy and will to walk. I still had time on my side to make it a big day but my body did just not want to walk. I pushed through it and still ended up with a 32 mile day. If I can get in one last 30 mile day then I can hopefully make it to stehekin for lunch on Sunday.
Day 114- the wall
For the first time in a long while there was no fog around me when I woke up. What was there was condensation all over the ground, tent, and me. It was especially terrible since on the edges of the tent it was frozen. Even so I had to endure this and packed up the tent and began the trek towards milk creek. I finished the climb over fire creek pass and got a good view of glacier peak and the frozen over mica lake. From here it was all down hill until milk creek which I completed easily. At the bottom of the canyon I took a break and opened up my food bag and realized how low I was on food. Basically all I have left is a little bit of mashed potatoes and a few candied walnuts. It’s going to rough getting to stehekin tomorrow. I made the first of two large climbs and hit the wall. I was so tired I couldnt go more than a couple miles without needing a break. I finally just gave in and took a long break until I thought i could make it down the hill and to the suattle river. I made it, but it was a constant battle against wanting to stop. The crossing on the suattle was interesting in itself. It was a large waste deep river with one log starting 10 feet high and pointed down at around 30 degrees and this connected to one that pointed totally the opposite way. After the crossing I began the tough climb to suattle pass. Half way up I met blister who said he is really ready to be done. I wish I would have met him earlier because he seemed like someone I would have hiked with for a while. I got in 29 miles and have 17 more to get to stehekin.
Day 115- stehekin
I slept in a ditch last night with my tent draped over a branch to account for any condensation. I can’t say it was the most comfortable spot but I ended up sleeping pretty good. So good that I slept longer than I was planning on. I didn’t even wake up until 7. This left me scrambling to get on the trail by at least 730 and made getting to stehekin by lunch a lost cause. Either way I packed up and began the all downhill day. My only food until stehekin was a few candies walnuts. I rationed them carefully and supplemented them with huckleberries. Still I was extremely hungry by the time I had dropped 4000 feet in 17 miles to the stehekin river. At least after I crossed high bridge I ran into two section hikers who were going in to stehekin and had way too much food. I got some dried fruit, nuts, and beef jerky from them until I could get in to town. We waited for the 11 mile shuttle up at the campground while getting destroyed by flies. The shuttle arrived and we all hoped on. It made many stops in the 11 miles causing it to take over an hour to get into the town. But the driver was nice enough to stop at the bakery for me and fellow hiker blister to get some good food. I got a giant cinnamon roll, a piece of strawberry rhubarb pie, giant bowl of ice cream, and a root beer. It would tide me over. At one of the stops a man, a woman, and a little girl resembling my family came up to the bus. Turns out it was them and they asked me in front of the full bus if I wanted to to go fishing with them. I said no due to the dirty tired state I was in after a 14 day grind through washington that has nearly destroyed my body. Only 88.8 miles left to complete the journey. I got all my town chores done and got my blog all updated. I’ll try to put up a couple pictures tomorrow. Then as a family we ate a wonderful but very spendy meal at the only restaurant in stehekin and followed that by sleeping under the stars at my ten year old sister’s request. Tomorrow I will organize the food they brought me and hopefully hike out mid day with my dad. He is going to hike this last section with me and I’m very excited to get to do a little lower mileage. But don’t worry he took his training very seriously and I’m sure will be cranking out near 20 mile days. I told him what ever he wants to do mile wise as long as I don’t run out of food again.
Day 116-fireweed camp
Waking up on grass was nice, until the bees began to buzz on the flowers and the Mosquitos came out. It happened to be 630, but even on a day I could sleep in, it was time to get up. My dad and sister soon followed and we got our fix of hit chocolate and coffee from the stehekin restaurant. After My mom joined us and got her necessary first cup of coffee we headed to the amazing stehekin bakery and all had a cinnamon roll. The nice thing with a little sister is you also get her left overs. From here we walked the 2 miles back to the main landing at stehekin. I still can’t believe they made me walk 2 non trail miles. Either way from here I was business. My dad and I packed up our things. I went through the food and managed to fit it all in my pack (giving him a light pack). We said our goodbyes, caught the shuttle to high bridge (the pct 11 miles away) and were off. We had an unbelievable day. I knew my dad had done some walking, but I could not believe how strong a hiker he was. We made it 6 miles before the first break. I ate some food and he rested and we moved on. Shortly thereafter when we began to follow bridge creek, we walked up on a large black bear 10 yards from us. It was pretty awesome that my dad got to see one only 8 miles into the trail when it took me 800 miles. We snapped some pictures and moved on. The bear did not seem to mind us. At maple creek there was a rickety wooden bridge over it, that swung in the air. It was the ones that often fail in movies, making it all the more thrilling to go over. We finished out our day by making it to fireweed camp. A total of 15 miles for the day and we started at noon. A big dinner and it was time for bed. I have to say today was one of my most fun days. The scenery was average but the animals and the company was amazing. This will be an excellent 4 more days. My only complaint is that this is the first time all trail I have treated water. I guess it’s for the better since I don’t want to have to drag along a sick dad.
Day 117- a surprise
I don’t know what it was, but my dad and I cranked out a 23 mile day. We began with the pretty level 5.5 miles to rainy pass (highway 20). Along the way when I was about 100 yards ahead and saw our second bear in two days. Unlike the first one this one took off down the hill as soon as it saw me. 2 bears in two day, my dad must be good luck! At rainy pass we took our first break and had a cinnamon roll each. Between the sugar and calories it must have powered us up cutthroat pass which was a 2500 climb. Along the way we met many day hikers who loved hearing about my trip and that I was finishing with my dad. He also could have been motivated to get up the hill by the 7 year old girl we saw hiking down the hill with her dad saying they had camped at the top. A good break, a lunch of jalapeño hummus and we were off to conquer two more passes. We both survived the climbs over granite and methow passes and my dad said he was good to keep going. Before we knew it we were at the bottom of the canyon and crossing the methow river. It was 430 and we had already gone 20 miles! Once again he said he was solid to keep going. We were shooting for a campsite near the river at an old horse camp. Sadly we never found it and ended up walking a couple more miles to brush creek. Along the way we saw some of the largest piles of bear scat i have ever seen. I wasn’t afraid though, after all I’m a through hiker. We settled into camp and cooked up an amazing dehydrated shepherds pie. The one excellent thing about having my dad hike with me is he is more than happy to do dishes, something I was never very good or reliable at doing most of the trail. With this giant day, my dad and I are set up perfectly to complete the 51 miles to manning park in the 3 days we planned.
Day 118- on the verge
Today was one of my favorite on the trail. Even with his extremely sore feet, my dad and I made it through 22 miles. This puts us right on the doorstep of Canada and on the cusp of finishing the trail. With 20 miles tomorrow I will be on the Canadian border and be officially done with the trail. Today we started around 730 in the morning from the bottom of glacier pass. We made a short climb to the pass and then began the 2800 foot climb to the top of the ridge. It was an endless amount of switchbacks, but the views were amazing of the needles and the golden horn. Once at the top we began the second phase of our day made up of mostly ridge walking. Through harts pass, jims pass and a couple others. We walked through amazing meadows full of wildflowers, ridges with patchy snow, and dense forest. The variation was incredible. Just past Harts pass a guy walked by us, out of breath and a bit scared saying he had seen a grizzly. I highly doubt it, but it’s possible. Either way we continued to talk during the section and did not let it phase us. To conclude the day we walked around the devils backbone and down into a small valley. The last mile of rocky downhill trail seemed to do a number on my dad’s feet. Even so we made it to saw creek where we camped and made some blue cheese puff potatoes. They were great and I made some extra mashed potatoes to satisfy my hunger. In the 20 miles tomorrow we will have only a couple small climbs, including the last one of the whole trail up to over 7000 feet and from there it is a 7 mile gradual downhill to the Canadian border! On a side note my dad earned his trail name (at least for this year). He is the terminator because he is here to get me to the terminus and make sure I terminate the trail.
It’s over! I’m done! I completed the 2654 mile hike from Mexico to Canada at 542 pm PST with my dad at my side! It brings the total to 3 months and 27 days. It’s amazing to get to the end. It hasn’t sunk in yet I guess. Well we began 20 miles out with an outside shot at making it mostly depending on my dad’s feet. He powered through it. We walked through many passes including windy, rock, and castle passes. Then we climbed down the devils backbone and past Hopkins lake. All were with amazing views of the extremely snowy northern cascades. There were a few patches of snow along the way but we successfully navigated them. At one point we were taking our lunch break and all of a sudden I saw a machine gun come around the corner in the hands of a border patrol agent. There were two of them and they turned out to be nice, just a little intimidating with the gun. They were not much older than me but seemed to have some kind of status due to their border patrol hats. They passed and then a while later we met two other agents walking the trail. It was also nice to meet one lady who will finish the trail tomorrow. She has section hiked it over 9 years and doing every section in order. Well with it all over this means my blog will be coming to an end soon. I am thinking I will do 2 more posts and maybe a few pictures. I will post one summary of the trip once I get to a computer to write it, and then finally I will post a link to the video I will make of the pictures and videos I took along this epic journey! Both should be up within the week.
The journey is over, the adjustment back to the other side of life has begun. But for a moment I wanted to think back on the amazing journey that I got to experience this summer. First off the story of how my dad and I got back to the states is one worth sharing:
After waking up at the border, we had 9 miles to hike in order to get to the remote ski resort of manning park in order to get to society. The walk was mediocre at best with very few good views and the constant knowledge that the miles that I was hiking did not even count. I was already done. Even so we completed our journey around 11. This was too late to catch the greyhound that leaves at 11am every day from the park, so we focused on cleaning up (shower/laundry) and then getting some food in us. Luckily the resort had a hot tub that they let us use and it felt amazing. Then we settled for an above average meal at the only restaurant in the area. Now that all our chores were done we decided to make a run at trying to get back in an area with either internet, phone service, hotels, or real civilization. Being a thru hiker, the only real option I knew was to hitchhike. We walked to the highway and thumbed it. We were greeted by no one and shown no sympathy. After over an hour in the hot sun we took a break before our next attempt at getting a ride. In round two of our hitchhiking it took over an hour but we ended up finally getting a ride from a couple on their way to the beach. It may have been the fact that I had not been in a car in a while, but it seemed the whole way that they were driving way too fast and looking at the scenery way more than they were looking at the road. Sure enough 30 miles into the drive, they were pulled over by the police along with the car behind us. The car behind us got a DUI and our driver got a speeding ticket. This unraveled her and the next 2 miles were nothing short of terrifying. Between the chain smoking, constant eating and her lack of attention to the road, sitting helplessly in the back seat seemed like the last place I wanted to be. Luckily we made it to Chilliwack alive. From here we were hoping to get to Abbotsford before too late and then walk across the border the next day. But first, still having the thru hiker hunger I was ready for dinner. We walked over a mile looking for a place to eat and asked multiple people until we finally found a nice restaurant with some very pretty waitresses called Earls. My dad and I had some drinks, good food, and a nice chat with a couple of the waitresses. It turned out that the power of my adventure and the stories I could pull from it and share landed us a ride to Abbotsford with one of the waitresses. The catch was we had to wait an hour until ten when she was off. It was a no-brainer. We got a dessert and a couple more drinks and the waiting began. It was a bit longer of a wait than we had expected but it was well worth it once we finally were able to get to the hotel. The desk clerk at the hotel ended up getting a watered down version of my story and it convinced him to leave the pool open for a while longer. After hearing my story though, he asked me if I was in hurricane Irene. It was one of the situations where it was not even worth it to try to explain to him that the hurricane was 2000 miles away and that I had been unaffected. 6 hours of sleep, a quick trip to the canadian coffee place ‘Tim hortons’ and we were off across the border. Since technically your not supposed to hike across the border as we did, we told border patrol we just had been hiking in British Columbia for a few days. They bought it and we were through. Into the town of Sumas we walked and began our next leg of hitch hiking. This time it was to bellingham. We were picked up quickly by a guy named Toby. He talked in third person, told us he was psychic and could read tarot cards. Toby was nice and liked to talk but I’m not sure he was still playing with a full deck. Either way he took us all the way from sumas to bellingham. from here we took the bus to the airport, rented a car and drove home. All in all the trip home cost us $44 total compared to a greyhound that would have cost us at least $65 each just to get to Vancouver BC. Hitch hiking is truly the most economical way to travel.
The pacific crest trail was a life changing journey. It taught me things like there is so much out there, I dont need much to be happy, and most of all I can do anything that I set my mind to. The desert in southern california was truly the most influential part of the trail. Getting dropped off with just my backpack and a plan to get 2700 miles north to canada was a very unique feeling. Nervousness mixed with excitement. But over the 650 miles of the southern california dessert, that dream to make it the whole way began to turn to a reality and instilled a confidence in me that I would be able to make it. After all once I was done with by far the ugliest section of trail, it would be a constant joy and eye opening experience to hike the rest. Central california brought some of the best times on the trail. For the time I hiked with escalator, hot cheese, and Dr, Chonzies I had the most fun, was surrounded by the best views and terrain, and was challenged with obstacles I had never dreamed of. The streams were giant, and sometimes had the power to take a person away, the hills were covered in snow and had to ability to humble even the most experienced climbers, but I made it through them all and lived up to the trail name I had been given as legend. It was not something others had not done and wouldn’t continue to do, it was something that I had never known I could do. From here anything was possible. Northern California went by so fast, as I increased my mileage to average over 30 miles a day. Then once I entered Oregon I was greeted by family and friends at every place I wanted to stop. The absence of some of the wonder that california had, was fulfilled by the kindness of the people I knew. The walk across the bridge of the gods foreshadowed what washington would bring. Epicness. Everything in washington was bigger, harder, and more amazing. It was not the sierras of central california but it came close to rivaling it in a totally different way. The giant mountains of Adams, St helens, Rainier, and glacier peak rose out of the jagged peaks that made up one of the most desolate mountain ranges on the trail. The constant ascent and descent of these peaks made it a very trying section especially at over 30 miles a day, but the views were so amazing that it was worth it to push that extra mile at the end of the day and witness a great sunset. But I could not have asked for a better way to end the trail than having my dad at my side. He was a trooper and held up a lot better than I did my first week on the trail. We had an amazing time and finished in style a day earlier than we expected.
119 days 2700 miles and a frame of mind that will never be the same. Anyone can do it and everyone should. A video of the trip Here