Notes from Days 51-71 (June 5-June 25)

It’s been a while since I’ve updated and this is gonna be a long one…I hope you’re in a comfortable chair!

Day #51 – June 5th: I ran into Mountain Goat on her way into Mammoth. I was informed that Zippy was a day ahead of me so I decided to stay for a bit to shower, do laundry, make calls, and of course eat food. Five hours later I was back on the trail. By the time I hit Oregon I hope to be averaging 30-35 miles per day so that I’m sure to complete the 14 Day Challenge with time to spare (the challenge is to hike all of Oregon in only 14 days).  

Day #52 – June 6th: Today I was hiking with Atlas, but I ended up going faster than him so I got to a river crossing alone. I looked around and saw some day hikers and asked if we had to ford the river to get across. They said yes and got soaked walking across the river, while I (being the crafty guy I am) decided to try to hop across on some rocks that weren’t fully submerged…and slipped and fell into the river. Luckily I had put my phone in a ziplock bag that morning! After getting out of the river I looked about 15 feet downriver where there was clearly a log that people were using to cross the river. So much for listening to day hikers! I continued on and approached the last pass I had to climb before getting to Tuolumne (too-awl-um-knee) Meadows where I was camping that night. At about 1,000 ft below the pass I ran into Kimchi who had her tent set up and she told me she was hunkering down because there was a big thunder storm on the other side of the mountain coming our way. She was going to wait it out, but I wanted to get to Tuolumne so I decided to go for it. I ran as fast as I could up the 1,000 feet to the top of the pass where it promptly starting hailing blueberry sized hailstones and the lightning started striking. I slid 20-30 yards in the snow down the other side of the pass and started sprinting…I did not want to be the tallest thing on that mountain side for longer than I had to be. I passed some hikers who were stopping to put their dry covers over their backpacks…priorities people! What is more important…not getting wet or not getting struck by lightning?! Storms are scary up here, I could feel the thunder vibrating in my bones. But I made it down and jogged the rest of the way to Tuolumne…where the campground was closed. So I set up camp in the closed campground, built a fire and attempted to dry out my stuff from my fall in the river and the subsequent hail, then rain showers.

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Day #53 – June 7th: Tuolumne was fun, I got my next resupply package and organized my gear. A nice older gentleman bought all of the hikers ice cream…in a totally not-creepy way. Right now I’m hiking through Yosemite National Park, so when I hit the trail at 11am I immediately felt the need to get off the trail. There are people everywhere and they are just littering the trail with their garbage and bits of food…no wonder the bears are bold and aggressive around here! The trail was packed with cars parked on the side of the road, people everywhere and it was completely overwhelming after being out in the wilderness for so long. I sped through until there were no more dayhikers and came upon an awesome waterfall and hiked for a long time along a river.

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Day #54 – June 8th: I’ve decided to really focus on pushing for miles. At this point, I’m really missing home and just want to get there as fast as I can. I sent my fishing gear home because, while it’s fun to fish, its super time consuming and I’d rather be putting in miles. But as I’m hiking I can see that the fish are progressively getting bigger. Maybe I’ll have to come back when I’m not in such a rush.

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Day #55 – June 9th: I hit 1,000 miles today! Between Tuolumne and this point, the trail has been pretty much just climbing up a steep bank and climbing down a steep bank…over and over again. Its been one of the most physically demanding yet. I pushed as hard as I could to break 25 miles for the day…I would definitely call it the stairmaster portion of the PCT. Just when I thought I could take no more uphill punishment the trail would rapidly plunge until my knees screamed for surrender. About 300 yards from the 1,000 mile marker I ran into Dirt Monger who was heading down south and it was nice to see a friendly face. I was going to stick around and hang out a little bit but the mosquitoes were so thick that I couldn’t stand it! I snapped a few pictures and went on my way.

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Day #56 – June 10th: Ran into some guys on skis who were looking for snow. Not a lot to be found this year. Going up to Carter Pass I saw some PCT hikers way off in the distance. The snow was rotten and it was tough to cross because I kept slipping and the wind was pushing with a lot of force. There has been so much wind the last few days. It’s so strong and constant that I started to feel like I was losing my mind! Like it was some form of Chinese water torture! AHHH!

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Day #57 – June 11th: On my way to the highway crossing I ran into a PCT volunteer who happened to be out hiking and she informed me that they had free food for hikers at the Ranger Station and that there was possibly some coffee involved. So of course I decided to run there because I didn’t want to let the other hikers beat me and get all the good stuff! I blew past them all and there was indeed lots of awesome homemade food…but alas, no coffee. I hung out with Spirit and Locopoco and enjoyed the homemade treats. I took my shoes and socks off to dry them out a bit from the snow hiking and put fresh socks on (leaving my dirty socks behind unknowingly). I hit the trail again and ran into some day hikers who were really excited about what I was doing (hiking the PCT) and one lady in particular was so excited she gave me more free food because she was done hiking for the day and didn’t need it. I love free food days. After those encounters, I decided to take back all the bad things I said about day hikers. Eventually Spirit caught back up to me and she had stuck my dirty socks in a Mutt Mitt bag (used to pick up dog poop) and brought them back to me! I don’t blame her…they did not smell great.Image

Day #58 – June 12th: As I was walking today I noticed a chopper flying overhead and then came across a sign that warned against touching any unexploded explosives I may come across! The chopper was doing avalanche control up on the mountain, and luckily I did not happen upon any explosives. I was going to walk a mile and half to the freeway and then try to hitch 12 miles into South Lake Tahoe but at the Echo Lake store there was a list of names and numbers of Trail Angels and a very nice lady came got me and gave me a ride into town.

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Day #59 – June 13th: I got to South Lake Tahoe around 10:30 and got a room, resupplied, showered and got some food. I’m going to leave in the morning and start pushing harder and try to hit 30 miles a day. Rumor has it that there are now only about 30 hikers ahead of me (there are trail logs where people sign in at each stop). When I started there were hundreds ahead of me. I didn’t feel like the Echo Lake Resort that I was at last night was very hiker friendly…they kind of gave everyone the vibe that we were an irritation to them and didn’t like us hanging around the store. So I came to South Lake Tahoe, got a bed for the night and stayed up WAY to late watching How To Train Your Dragon on TV.

Day #60 – June 14th: Leaving South Lake Tahoe I decided to take the Echo Lake Ferry across for a change of pace and it felt nice to avoid another super crowded trail. The lady who had brought me to Tahoe came and picked me up again to take me back to the trail head. While we were driving I spotted Raa Fikki (a guy I’ve hiked with for a few days) walking on the side of the road…he was just going to walk the 12 miles so we stopped and picked him up.

Day #61 – June 15th: I had cell service up in Squaw Valley so I was able to text with Madison in Peru for a bit. Later on I was crossing a river where there were 2 logs…one went across the river and one when more parallel with the river but ended up at the trail. Since I’ve already fallen in the river once I decided not to chance it…so instead of using the log that led right to the trail, I used the “safer” log and jumped into the bushes on the other side where I was going to bushwhack 10ft to the trail. But then I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and looked down into the bushes…where there was a rattlesnake 6 inches from my foot. Luckily it was still pretty early in the morning, so it was cold and he wasn’t moving fast…but he was rattling! He slowly slithered off and I breathed a sigh of relief. I caught up with a couple we call “the Fro’s” and asked if they realized we were back in rattlesnake country…we’ve all been up so high for so long we kind of forgot about them! But now that we’re back down around 7,000 ft we have to remember to be more vigilant! Those suckers could be anywhere!

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Day #62 – June 16th: Most of this Squaw Valley/Tahoe section is a lot of ridges and walking through the ski resort under chairlifts and such. There has been a lot of strong wind again. But something awesome happened under those chairlifts…As you may remember I have been wearing one pair of sunglasses this whole time. They got sandblasted in the sandstorm in the desert in the very beginning of this adventure and then I stepped on them and broke them when I cut myself with my knife a few weeks back. So these bad boys are taped up and I can barely see out of them, but I just couldn’t bring myself to buy a new pair. As I walked under the chairlifts I just so happened to come upon a pair of sunglasses hanging on a tree! They were just like new, no scratches and certainly no tape holding them together. Score one for Team Hangry! It was amazing to put them on and actually be able to see!

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Day #63 – June 17th: Walking into Sierra City comes with two predator warnings…one is that while the church allows you to set up your tent and camp on their lawn, the bears will almost certainly pay you a visit. The other is that there is an older gentleman in town who apparently likes to offer male hikers the use of his shower at his home and then will make sexual advances towards them. I must admit I walked into town pretty afraid of both. So I show up and am faced with a 2 mile road into town that I can either walk or hitch and just as I get there some older fella jumps out of his jeep in his wife beater with a little white poodle. He immediately starts talking to me and offers me a ride into town in about ten minutes…He goes off with his poodle who I suppose had to use the facilities, and I’m so tired that I decide to take this gentleman up on his offer. But while I’m waiting I decide that it’s probably a good idea to get my pocket knife out and have it somewhere handy just in case. Long story short, he drove me into town and was actually a very nice guy and not the creepy old man that I had been warned about. Thank God. Anyway, I arrived into town and there was a picnic table with a bunch of hikers where a guy showed up with a cooler full of food and drinks and we hung out for a while before I went to the local store and purchased a Gut Buster Burger (1/2 lb of beef with all the fixings) and I asked the guy who ran the store if there was a place I could shower in town. He preceded to tell me about this really nice older guy who lets hikers shower in his trailer…NO THANKS! haha I had a nice plate of ribs for dinner at the hostel and ended up camping out behind the hostel with the rest of the hikers because its free, but we left our food inside the hostel because the bears around here are pretty bold.

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Day #64 – June 18th: Today was rough…I climbed about 5,000 feet over the course of the day. That’s all I really have to say about today…that, and that the pinecones are huge.

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Day #65 – June 19th: Last night I camped at the only water source that we’ll come across for a few miles. Nothing too cool to report. I’ve been hiking with Raa Fikki pretty much the whole time. We don’t always hike at the same pace but we end up doing the same mileage so we camp together at the end of the day. I started listening to some podcasts…one to improve my businessman self and one to improve my spiritual self. And honestly they have pretty conflicting ideals…but both with the aim of bettering myself. Gotta find a happy medium.

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Day #66 – June 20th: The day was filled with steep climbs and scarce water and then the path just rapidly dropped down to Belden…totally knee jarring and not the best part of the trail by any means. Also, along the journey today I apparently walked through a bunch of poison oak that I didn’t see! Good thing I somehow avoided it because I sent my poison oak/poodle dog brush cream home last week.

Day #67 – June 21st: Belden was a pretty nice town but it has a reputation for being kind of creepy. It’s basically a little resort town that normally gets totally rented out by one group. Often, motorcycle clubs rent it out and then the town is full of bikers or they will have music events or raves out here and everyone who attends that takes up the hotels. And then there are the hikers who are constantly trickling through. I found the whole group that I had met in Sierra City in Belden and ended up hanging out with Milestone for quite a bit. We sat in the bar and watched the World Cup Ghana vs Germany game. I started going through my resupply, but left for a minute to go plug my phone in…when I came back out there were 4 blue jays attacking my food! I headed back out to the trail that evening to put in some more miles, but the trail was still scorching hot and it was overgrown way up over my head. There were snakes everywhere. I pushed my trekking poles out in front of me so that I wouldn’t step on any since I couldn’t really see the trail clearly…but then I came upon a red, black and yellow snake. I had to recite the rhyme to myself “Red touches yellow, you’re a dead fellow. Red touches black, you’re okay jack” and decided that this one wasn’t poisonous. Phew.

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Day #68 – June 22nd: I officially reached the half way point today! As I was walking up to the pillar marking the spot a deer was standing 10 feet away in the middle of the trail and it would not move. So that was weird. Looking back it’s amazing how far I’ve come both literally and physically pushing my limits and becoming stronger. Everyone I’ve talked to says that they’ve kind of hit a wall at the half way point and questioned whether they really want to keep going or if they’ve had enough…but I’m pushing on. In other news, I have decided to stop shaving and cutting my hair so that I look like the mountain man I have become. I think I’m starting to scare people.

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Day #69 – June 23rd: I was tempted to get off at Chester for a milkshake, but decided not to. And then as I was crossing the highway there was trail magic…someone from Chester left an ice chest full of water, rootbeer and rice crispy treats for PCT hikers to enjoy. I caught up to Danko and camped with him that night, although we didn’t get much sleep. Deer kept charging my tent all night long and snorting and stamping at the ground. I’d get up and chase them off and they’d come up and do it all over again…for FOUR hours. I’m noticing that all of the animals are getting more aggressive in this area, the bears have been more vocal as well. I had one hiker tell me that a bear was trying to get to his food one night…but the guy was sleeping with his food under his feet in his tent. I’ve been using my food as a pillow for the past few weeks since I mailed my extra clothes home, so that’s probably not good. The mosquitoes are so think that when I stop for the night I throw up my tent as fast I can, get inside, kill all the mosquitoes that got in while I was setting it up and cook my food right there inside the tent.

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Day #70 – June 24th: I jogged the 16 miles into Old Station so I had 16 trail miles done before 10 am today. It felt really good to move in a different way rather than the repetitive walking motion. My resupply didn’t show up so I tried to get a hitch into Burney, CA farther down the trail so I could buy more food but it just didn’t happen. I think it may have something to do with my new mountain man look. Danko, Raa Fikki and I sat at a bar and enjoyed a plate of nachos and a chili cheeseburger. At around 6:30 the guy who worked at the bar offered to give me a ride into Burney, so I took him up on his offer but started to regret it as we began the drive. Not only did this guy drive 90 in a 50 the whole way, but as we’re listening to the radio a news story comes on about a man who had been shot by the police the day before. Turns out this guy was friends with the guy who was shot and proceeded to talk about drugs for the entire car ride. I guess beggars can’t be choosers…But I got to Burney in one piece, rented a hotel room and stocked up on food in town to replace my missing resupply box.

Day #71 – June 25th: I took a zero day today which I’m realizing is more important to do than I originally thought. My body definitely needed and wanted to rest. I did laundry in the sink and loaded up on the free breakfast and coffee. Tomorrow I’ll take full advantage of another free breakfast and then hit the trail towards Castella which is about three days away where my next resupply box will hopefully not be missing this time!

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