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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Day #39 – May 24th: In Lone Pine I stocked up on more food, gloves and microspikes for snow-walking. We stayed at a hostel last night and got warmed up. Today we’ll head back out on the trail and the day after tomorrow I will head up Mt. Whitney! Perfect weather is forecast for the 26th and I’m so excited! There is another storm coming in 5 days, but we should be Independence by then. Wish me luck!
Day #36, 37 & 38 – May 21-23: 40 miles in three days. Not the pace I was hoping for. We got stuck in a little snow storm, so much for blue skies. Trudged up to 10,000 feet through a little more than 2.5 feet of snow. Very pretty but slow going. All along the trail hikers were hunkered down waiting for clear trails. I personally like the snow and cold, but my feet hold a different opinion On that matter…I do not think trail runners were made with snow hiking in mind. On the second night Zippy, Mountain Goat and I made a fire and attempted to dry out our shoes and socks while being dumped on by a wet hail storm. We took stock of our food supplies and the lack of snow gear and decided to make an emergency stop into Lone Pine for resupply. All was agreed upon until a hard core hiker by the name of Dirt Monger came sauntering up. He took stock of the sad picture of three soaked, hungry, cold hikers and asked our plans. After we explained our situation he looked at me with cold steely eyes and in a voice that would inspire legions of mediocre would-be soldiers, announced “This is the PCT. Your feet are going to get wet, you’re going to get cold and you will get hungry” in my mind the challenge was accepted! But, the next morning we woke up to frost covered sleeping bags. Might be time to start packing long johns. Town sounded splendid. Oh well, maybe next time I will man up and push through. But today I will let it play out in town.
Day #35 – May 20th: Have I mentioned how much I dislike being stuck not hiking!!! I had an epic battle in my head of why I am out here doing this. I could never have imagined how hard it is being away from the people I love and care for. It really hit hard today, I was actually contemplating hitching to a bus station and calling it good enough for now. Until those words stuck in my head….. For now… No, I will not stop until I have had my fill for good! Until then I will keep on hiking. The best parts are coming up now, Mt. Whitney and Forester Pass. It is going to be tough but an experience I will always remember. In other news…I visited an alpaca farm today! The owner was in the Kennedy Meadows General Store and he let me ride with him in his Gator for a tour. He is a cool dog that hunts rattlesnakes.
Day #34 – May 19th: A storm is moving in and after much debate I decided to stay in Kennedy Meadows for one more night to let the bulk of the snow move past us. It’s currently snowing at 7,000 feet and I’m at 6,300…and its only uphill from here. The group I am planning on summiting Mt. Whitney with is staying at least one more night, so we’re gonna see how it all plays out! I’d much rather be hiking right now, but its better to be safe than sorry. So for right now I’ll just sit here in this hammock in my sleeping bag reading bear attack stories out of a book I found.
Day #33 – May 18th: Today was a good day. I showed up for last call on breakfast at the General Store. Eggs, sausage, bacon and all you can eat M&M or blueberry pancakes!! I showered and did laundry, at a burger…and chips, some milk, an orange and a candy bar for lunch. Lasagna for dinner!! Open tabs are great until you have to pay them! Oh well…Madison will understand…right?? Haha Tonight I get to sleep in this beautiful camper instead of my tent…I have found some questionable material inside…
On to the Sierra mountains!
Day #32 – May 17th: I woke up feeling refreshed. I stopped using my airmatress and now sleep only on my 1/4 inch foam pad. Two miles in, I came across bear tracks. They weren’t big so I wasn’t too worried about it…besides bears are way more reasonable than cougars. I was instantly reminded of that scene from The Other Guys where Will Ferrell misunderstands Marky Mark and ends up doing bad-cop, bad-cop and goes way too big…and the bad guy is like “I’ll talk to you, you’re the reasonable one” but in my scenario the bear is Marky Mark and the cougar is Will Ferrell…For those who haven’t seen this excellent movie you can see the clip of what I’m referring to here…I mayyyy be losing it out here. hahaha
ANYWAYS, I soon saw human foot prints over the top of the bear foot prints so I felt at ease knowing that if the bear was hungry, he would probably eat those guys first. Besides, at this point with my food shortage, bear sounds pretty tasty. 🙂
I hit the meadows with eight miles left until I got to town. I went to bed early with no dinner 😦 Tomorrow morning I will have one packet of instant oatmeal and then eight flat miles to the Kennedy Meadows General Store where my next resupply boxes await me!
Day #31 – May 16th: Hiking today was much the same as the previous two…not a lot to be seen but sand, sun and heat waves. However that night I woke myself up yelling. The next morning I looked outside my tent and found a very large set of mountain lion tracks. It’s nice to know my inner survival instincts have my back when I’m asleep! I followed the tracks for about a mile hoping the whole time that they would head down hill from the trail and not up the steep hillside to my left that looked like prime ambush material. I considered grabbing my knife but then laughed at the absurdity of the way such a feeble attempt would play out. Instead, I practiced protecting my neck and blowing the built-in rape whistle on my backpack. Good times. Then I came upon a spring called Joshua Tree where the water is deemed unsafe due to high levels of uranium! Yum! I chugged a gallon of it while listening to U2. Super powers here I come!
I hiked into the night again. I’ve been rationing by good and at this point I have four packets of top ramen to last the next two days. Hunger is a great motivator to get to my next resupply point! That, and to get out of this heat! So far, all of my water reports have been wrong and I need up hiking off-trail to a camp ground with iffy water at best. I found a couple of campers and asked if there was water and they said yes…just a mere half mile away! They looked me over and asked if I was okay. Did I mention that I haven’t showered since the Saufley’s? I look GOOD. They ended up giving me about a gallon of water, three oranges and a Gatorade. Two hours later I ran into a southbound hiker who was doing trail magic and handing out bags of chips! He also gave me a Snickers bar and another candy bar. Best day ever. But best of all…25 miles to Kennedy Meadows!!!
Days #29 & 30 – May 14th & 15th: These two get combined because they were a blur. I hiked well into the early morning hours, crashed for a few hours, woke up and hiked until it was too hot and then snoozed until about 4pm and then would start all over again! I hiked with Jolly Miles and Glitter for a bit one night but ended up going further than they and didn’t see them again until I got to Kennedy Meadows (Day 33).
Day #28 – May 13th: I rose at 5:30 am and repeated the previous day. Hot desert marching. Around 10 am I found myself on a cliffside overlooking the Mojave Desert, sendta last text to Madison and started into the windy heat. This section will definitely be the most mentally training section so far.
Day #27 – May 12th: So hot today!!! Six miles to the next water source and my feet are screaming two miles in! We hit the stream and everyone created their own shade anyway possible. Around three o’clock I gave in to the voice of solitude and said goodbye to everyone…they were all going to detour into the next town and I wanted to keep hiking. I hiked six miles past Tehachapi and set up camp on a hill side around 1 in the morning.
Day #26 – May 11th: HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY MOM! 🙂 I left the Anderson’s early and headed to my next resupply pick-up point…a place called Hiker Town…it’s a little goofy fake town where the gang and I picked up our resupply boxes and rested up during the heat of the day for a night hike along the Los Angeles Aqueduct.
It was fun to hike with others longer than a just a day, but at the same time that little urge to be on my own started to bubble up…increasingly nagging me randomly throughout the day. But we hiked 16 miles and then slept under one of the giant wind farms that notoriously occupy the landscape out here. The night air was filled with the faint mechanical sounds of the turbines feeding off the wind to power unknown strangers’ refridgerators…mmm….cold food….Into the Mojave Desert we go!
Day #25 – May 10th: I left this morning with Banana Boat, Cheetah, Chad and Mountain Goat. It was nice to have my wolf pack of one grow into five for at least a little while. They kept giving me crap for always hiking past them and never hanging out. We hiked together all day until about six miles from The Anderson’s (our stop for that evening) where we found an amazing trail angel water cache with pop!
After that I was feeling motivated and flew (without my wolf pack) to the next road crossing where the next section of the trail was closed due to a forest fire. I came out on the road and realized that I didn’t know which way to hitch hike to the Anderson’s house! I sat down on my pack and looked sad as cars past by. Ten minutes later a car pulled up and a lady inside said that she had seen me looking pitiful and had decided to turn around and come back to see if I needed help. She must be familiar with the PCT because she asked if I was looking for the Anderson’s! What luck! On the drive things got a little weird when she offered to take me to her house for a some beer and a swim in her pool…I respectfully declined. I arrived to the Anderson’s where it was the absolute opposite of the notorious party house I had heard it was. With a few hikers lounging on couches in the driveway, it was calm and quiet. I walked to the mini mart and bought a half gallon of milk to go with the famous taco salad that Mrs, Anderson makes for PCT hikers every night. Later, she took everyone’s pictures…but mooned us in the process.
Day #24 – May 9th: The Saufley’s place was so great! I laid on a cot all day in the shade and watched the horses frolic around. It was a very busy place, lots of other hikers, so the sleep wasn’t that great. But it was nice to give my feet a rest for the daunting trek ahead!
Day #23 – May 8th: From the KOA I hiked 10 miles to The Saufley’s house. There I will stay tonight and tomorrow night to give my feet and shins a little rest. My next stop is about a two day hike away before I start a brutal 9 day stretch with no water available…so I’ll be carrying enough food and water for 9 days on my back through the Mojave Desert, which I hear will be having some crazy weather…50mph winds and over 100 degree temps! WOO HOO! 🙂
Day #22 – May 7th: Sooo…the poodle dog bush got me. My face is swollen and my hands are covered in a rash. Doesn’t feel great. But today I hiked to a KOA a little ways off the trail outside of Acton, CA and luckily my doctor had sent me on my journey with some ointment just in case I wandered in to some poodle dog bush or poison oak. So that helped a lot! From the KOA I got a ride into Acton and explored the town and then to get back to the KOA I ordered Chinese food to be delivered there from Acton and just hitched a ride with the delivery guy! haha! At first he said he couldn’t do that, but called back and said he could…so funny.
Day #21 – May 6th: After stealth camping at eagle roost I got a late start in hopes of hitching a ride for the freeway portion of the detour. With only one car passing by the whole time I ended up walking the whole thing. The next water source was at a Boy Scout camp, but earlier reports stated the it was turned off. To my relief the water was on put tasted of rust and left a film on my tongue. I sat under the deck awning and had lunch and was joined by Banana Boat and Chris who had gotten a hitch for the whole detour. Later that night a realized I left my spoon there. All hope was lost. I also got hailed on in a crazy hail storm!
Boy Scout Camp and the crazy hail storm!
Day #20 – May 5th: A windy night blew in dust that covered everything in my tent with a fine film. Earlier in the night my tent was brought down by a big gust of wind…I had a good chuckle about it and then went back to bed. I spent a good portion of the morning walking under chairlifts and meandering along ski runs. I came to a water spigot near a Park Ranger information building when out of no where i was bombarded by a group of elementary students on a field trip. I gave a spur of the moment, not-so-informational speech about the trail and what it’s all about. I didn’t realize until some other hikers pointed out later that the dust from the night before had also settled on ME and had turned into a mud mask. I probably frightened those poor children…Anyway, after that I climbed to the top of Mt. Baden-Powell and then pushed on to the endangered yellow frog detour at Eagles Roost. Things are finally starting to click and I’m starting to feel stronger every day. My feet are healing and my hip wounds are nothing but little pink scars now.
(From the Pacific Crest Trail Association Website: “The once thriving Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog is now nearly extinct. To protect the frog, the PCT has been closed for several years from Eagles Roost [mile 390.3] to the Burkhart trail junction [mile 394]. In 2011 the PCTA created a new official detour that avoids any highway road walking.)
Hiking in the ski area
At the top of Mount Baden-Powell
Day #19 – May 4th: I grudgingly left the Best Western at Cajon Pass (CA-HONE, not CAJUN I learned haha), nothing but uphill from here on out until my destination of Guffy Campground where there is water and an alpine camping area. The first part of my day was filled with scrub brush and large lizards. I had to walk a road to bypass the dreaded poodle-dog bush (you can read more about it here) It thrives in areas that have been burnt by forest fire, and there was a fire in this area in 2009. After that, the landscape slowly turned into pine trees and it reminds me of Eastern Washington. I hiked the 22 miles in record time and was in my sleeping bag by 6:30pm!
My camp area at Guffy Campground
Day #18 – May 3rd: I took my first 0 mile day today and only left my bed at the Best Western a few times…for the complimentary breakfast (of which I ate a RIDICULOUS amount), to go down the street and get tacos, to shower, and to repack my backpack. I’ll hit up the breakfast again in the morning and hope to be on the trail around 6:30 am. 22.1 miles to the next water source!
Day #17 – May 2nd: On my way to McDonalds I saw a giant rattle snake and I was going to take a picture but I was too concerned about getting to McDonalds. But that sucker was huge. Also the lizards I’m seeing are getting progressively bigger…they’re not cute anymore. They’re starting to get scary. Anyways, I walked into McDonalds with my arms raised doing victory pumps with my fists while Matt, Bear Claw and Dirt Monger laughed at me. Breakfast at McDonalds. Lunch at McDonalds. I met THE “Half-Mile” (the guy who made the Half Mile Map App that I’ve used my entire hike so far) Matt was considering trying to get his picture taken with him but decided that would be too dorky. After Mickey D’s I got an early check-in at a Best Western and immediately filled up the bath tub and soaked for an hour. Took a shower, laid in bed, clipped my toe nails, did some laundry and then went to get tacos for dinner. There’s a gym here but I don’t think I’ll be using that. ha. I think I might stay 2 nights here but I’m already getting too comfortable and don’t want to leave! Especially because the next section ahead of me is 5 days of hot, exposed hiking with really steep grades. But a day of rest will be good for the my feet so I just may take my first zero day.
Day #16 – May 1st: Matt showed up to get water from the stream and then Dawn Patrol, Star Rider and Wallito tried to cross the stream and I think they all fell in. I saw Dawn Patrol fall in and she started cracking up and that’s when I officially met her and Star Rider. I hiked on and was limping pretty bad that day so Star Rider and Dawn Patrol caught back up to me and I walked with them for about 45 minutes so I got to know them and hear how they got married, it was pretty inspiring and funny…good people. I ended up having lunch at the bottom of a dam and hiked with Wallito with only half a mile to go until we reached the picnic area where there were bathrooms and water. We were both struggling with aches, pains and shin splints and we decided that it was the longest half mile we had ever walked. The picnic area was a beautiful spot next the lake formed by the dam and everyone I’d seen earlier in the day caught up with us. They hung at the lake and I started hiking again because there is a McDonalds up the trail and I WILL be having it for breakfast tomorrow…and maybe lunch.
Day #15 – April 30th: Reached mile 300 today! I ran into Dirt Monger and Bear Claw sitting in the shade next to a cool bridge and we laughed about my new trail name for a while. I had met them at Ziggy and the Bear but we hadn’t really introduced ourselves. As I was hiking today, some kids came up behind me with backpacks full of bear and they invited me to their local hang out down a steep trail off the PCT where there are rocks and a swimming hole. I looked at the trail…looked at my feet…and told them that they’d have to carry me down that crazy steep path because there was no way I was going to make it down there and definitely no way I’d make it back up. I kept walking for another 9 miles and came across some hotsprings. I’ve come to realize that I think everyone in Califonia should be in shape and good looking…but that is not what I found at this place. It was pretty gross and of course they were all naked. I asked a few of them if they could get out of the way as I took a picture so that all of you wouldn’t have to see the things I’ve seen haha. You’re not allowed to camp there but it looked like some people were living there and there was garbage strewn all over the place. Banana Boat, Bilbo, Wallito and I found a slightly less gross hotspring and soaked our aching bodies for a while which felt nice, but I kind of felt dirtier after getting out. Afterwards I hiked out and about an hour later I ran into Wallito again and he was cowboy camping right next to the trail basically on a cliff…crazy guy. I got to this big drainage area where you’re not allowed to camp and lost the trail again because it was another big open flat valley with a stream running through it and I couldn’t see the trail. I crossed the stream and made camp because I didn’t want to risk falling in the stream in the morning and having to hike all wet…but then I woke up in the morning next to two PCT signs that I missed the night before and basically had camped on the trail.
Day #14 – April 29th: At this point almost everyone has received a trail name…so from here on out the people I meet will not have normal names. Today I ran into Sasquatch and Beans. Sasquatch was wearing the Vibram Five Finger shoes and I’m not sure how he does it! Talk about minimalist shoes! I hiked with Sasquatch and Beans off and on and made a comment that I was getting “hangry” (for those who aren’t aware what “hangry” is its when you get grumpy because you’re hungry…my food stores were getting pretty low and I was rationing). They had never heard this term before and thought it was hilarious…and thus I have picked up my very own trail name…Hangry. I kind of want to add an animal to the end of it…like Hangry Cat or Hangry Bear…but its already caught on and now everyone knows me as Hangry. We came upon a random bathroom in the middle of nowhere and everyone else decided to camp close to it for the night, but I hiked up and found a sweet spot in between some rocks with a beautiful view especially at sunset and sunrise. The rocks kept the wind away and they radiated heat which kept me nice and warm at night. It’s been my favorite camping spot so far.
Day #13 – April 28th: Woke up later than usual today and got hiking at 7:30. It was another nice, flat, relaxing hike and to make it even better I came across a couch and a locker of soda for PCT hikers. People do awesome things out here. I lounged for awhile and enjoyed a wonderful can of Sprite. I still haven’t seen anyone today, but around Big Bear Lake I came across a mini mansion out in the middle of no where. Totally off the grid with its own windmill, fishpond, swimming pool, huge car barn and no one was home. I was tempted to go lay by the pool, but kept hiking.
Day #12 – April 27th: My legs are feeling the run from yesterday and I haven’t seen anyone since leaving Ziggy and the Bear. It was a pretty easy hike today, really open with big beautiful views and not too hot with a nice breeze. I ended up down another wash and went a quarter mile past the trail again, but caught it sooner than yesterday and am now realizing that I’m depending on my GPS too much and need to start being more vigilant about where I am. I hiked up into the hills after the wash and came upon a compound with animals in cages lining the PCT. Rumor has it that these animals are used in Hollywood movies. I made eye contact with a tiger and he wasn’t impressed…the grizzly started sniffing and then then made a woofing sound so I took the hint that it’s probably getting to be shower time…I haven’t showered since Day 9…and it’ll probably be a while before I find one. I quit hiking early to work out some issues with my tent…put in 21 miles today!
Day #11 continued – April 26th: At Ziggy and the Bear I ran into my shoe brother again… I had seen him at Warner Springs and he had the same Inov8 shoes on as I did. When we had met at Warner Springs we had said that if we met up again in the future we’d see how the shoes were working for both of us and it turns out that his feet are in pretty much the same condition as mine. I guess we’ve learned that minimalist shoes aren’t the best for the PCT…unless you’re Sasquatch (who *spoiler* I meet on Day 14). After leaving Ziggy and the Bear I hiked into a big wash…just sand and boulders, hills and valleys so I couldn’t really see where i was. I decided to follow some footprints that ended up leading me astray. I was saving battery power on my phone (not using my map app) and went 3.47 miles in the wrong direction and down into a long and windy canyon. Rookie Mistake. So, I did exactly what you’re not supposed to do and sprinted back in the direction I had come jumping from boulder to boulder. I found myself feeling like my childhood self when my brother and I would run on the trails we went down with our dad to go fishing. When I reached the actual PCT again I had put in 10 PCT miles but another 6.9 Whooopsie miles. I decided to call it a day and stealth camped since the area is restricted for camping.
Day #11 – April 26th: Now I climb about 7000 feet. Through a wind farm. I will be out of contact for roughly seven days due to the fact I have no way to charge my phone from this check point to the next. It is cold pretty cold, if I would have come down the mountain a day earlier I would have been hit with snow! Wish me luck and I’ll update again as soon as I can. The next stop, seven days down the trail is a Best Western where I do believe I will get a room for a night and relax 🙂
Day # 10 – April 25th: Today I saw my first real rattle snake and took a drink from a water fountain in the middle of no where. I also hit 200 MILES!!! The last five miles to my destination I got caught in a sand storm. Winds almost blowing me over and sand blasting my sun glasses to dust. My destination for the day was a Trail Angel’s home called Ziggy and the Bear where I had my second resupply box waiting for me (Trail Angels are people who live along the trail and lend assistance to PCT hikers). I spent the night there and it poured rain all night so I was glad to be dry under an overhang.
Day 9 – April 24th: I woke up early and hiked the next nine miles to get to the highway where Dean had agreed to pick me up. He needed to go back to work so he quickly opened his house, gave me a tour and told me to call if I needed anything. I showered, rested and recuperated Later his wife Kari texted me and picked up some medical supplies for me. I am still at a loss for words. Here I was ready to quit and needing help and at a drop of a hat these two lovely people welcomed me into their home as if I was family. I stayed until about 4:30 when Dean and Kari drove around the trail detour (a portion of the PCT is currently closed because of a forest fire) to Devils Slide. I flew through the next thirty some miles powered by the kindness I was just shown.
Day # 8 – April 23rd: I awoke just knowing I was going to put in my longest day yet. I did not realize it was going to turn out the longest day emotionally and physically as well. Most the day went well, my feet were still hurting but the pain was tollerable. It wasn’t until almost dusk when I stopped to take a break. I took off my backpack and started to lift my shirt when I realized it was stuck to my body. Unknowingly, the area on my hips where my waist belt of my back pack was chaffing had gotten effected and was leaking puss through my shirt…where it had dried and made a bond with my skin and shirt. I decided to tear my shirt away fast versus slow. The pain was so horrible that I threw up immediately after. Once that ordeal was over I could not get my wounds to stop bleeding my only option was duct tape. I continued on for another 20 minutes when out of no where I felt a pop and squish on the bottom front of my left foot and searing pain followed. I had to sit down and take a look. One of the deep blisters blew out and the air and sand that mixed in was causing horrible swelling and pain. I hobbled to the top of a peak and found I had service. That is when a conversation I had with Madison a week earlier replayed in my head. If I ever wanted a cup of coffee she new a family that would be willing to maybe take me in for a bit. She had said they lived close to the next freeway crossing I was coming up to. I quickly said a prayer that one: Madison would answer her phone and two: that those people would be willing to pick me up. Madison did pick up and the next morning a stranger named Dean went completely out of his way to pick me up.
Day # 7 continued – April 22nd: I was finally able to convince myself to leave the comforts of Warner Springs and I hiked to last river crossing. I sat down to have dinner and just as I was finishing up I noticed a rustling sound in the leaves. I looked down to see hundreds of huge red and black ants heading my way! I escaped unscathed and continued on until about 8:45 and only getting 9 miles in that day.
Day #7 – April 22nd: My feet are really bad. I found a giant bottle of peroxide in the hiker box and poured half of it on my feet and watched the reaction…beautiful…but my feet instantly felt better. Dan and I found a ride to a Big 5 twenty miles away, so we’re going to head out there and grab some stuff for feet and a few other small things we need and then the plan is to start hiking around 4 or 5 this afternoon.
Day #6 – April 21st: Woke up at 6am and started trekking 15 minutes later. Nine miles to my first resupply! I felt so good and energized that I started jogging! Man, I prefer to jog over walking…I always have! We stopped at Eagle Rock and then made it to my first resupply point, Warner Springs. My felt bad and swollen and I’m worried that an infection is happening inside some of the deeper blisters. I spent the rest of the day going though my resupply box, lounging and making calls.
Day #5 – April 20th: I decided to wait until 4pm before hitching a ride back to the trail. The morning was rough…woke up to the bottom of my heels looking like giant plums and my toes looking like prunes. I could barely get my Nike compression pants off. One hour later they had shrunk back to a more manageable size. I soon put two and two together and realized that the strap on the compression pants that wraps around the arch of my foot was cutting off the circulation in my feet. Thanks a lot Nike! I cut them off immediately. (Note about the compression pants…I wear them as I sleep to push the toxins out of my leg muscles so that my legs are less sore. That part is working like a champ, but the foot straps not so much) I started hiking at 4:30. It was still hot and I hiked until dusk and took a short break. Then I put my headlamp on and kept hiking. Two hours later I turned around and told Dan matter-of-factly that I was going to make it to one hundred! Night hiking was exhilarating. I felt like a primal nomad…but also a little gangster at the same time since I was bumping Kanye in my headphones….well as gangster as a white kid from western Washington hiking through the desert night with a little headlamp and trekking poles can feel. I saw giant fireflies, spooked up some deer and saw my first snake! Thankfully, it was a tiny baby rattler. Made mile 100 at 3:07 am and 10 minutes later Dan showed up and we set up camp and passed out around 3:30am.
Day #4 – April 19th: Started the day at 6am and the sun was coming in hot already. I need to get a fire tank before my water runs out. The trail is hot and very rocky…like rocks the size of a fist all over the place. Not great for the ankles. It was so hot coming down scissor crossing, my feet were pressing against my shoes from the swelling making them look like blue sausages. I stumbled under an overpass where there is a water cache and time stopped when I laid down. I woke with a fright like you do when coming out of a nightmare. I stood up to grab a Pepsi only to fall forward because my feet would not support me. Luckily, another a hiker named Dan had arranged a ride to an RV Park four miles down the road. I immediately jumped on that idea and within an hour I was showered and soaking my feet in the pool while my laundry was washing. I was also fed a huge, awesome home-cooked dinner. How quickly things can turn around 🙂
Day #3 – April 18th: Very hot today, but amazing views hiking between lush green mountains and dry brown dead ones. So quiet out here with just my breathing, pattering of my feet and the wind. I passed through many burnt areas and stopped at a small camp to refill water and have lunch. I talked with some hikers that I had seen intermittently on the trail so far. I finally decided to use my solar panel and it didn’t work…thanks Obama. haha Ended up spending the night in a giant meadow.
Day #2 – April 17th: Lake Morena to Burnt Ranch Camp – Last night as I camped packed in with about thirty other hikers I couldn’t help but miss Maya. An older couple had their tent pitched about three feet from mine and one of them snored just like Maya. I started the day quite early heading out of camp around 7:30am. At about 10 I took a nice break and aired out my feet. The blisters are coming! I planned on staying in a small camp four miles from Mt. Laguna and planned my water accordingly.
Day #1 – April 16th: I don’t have much to say about today other than it was a grind and an emotional roller coaster. Starting the trail felt so surreal, months of planning coming together and then me actually following through and starting. Saying goodbye to Madison was rough but at the same time nice to recognize how much I will miss her (*Note from Madison: I did not pay him to say that*). Started the trail at 10:45am and made 20 miles and got to the lake around 8:00pm. I was rewarded with a hot shower and the rangers opened up the station so that I could register. Lots of interesting hikers at the camp, their snoring reminded me of Maya. That is all for tonight…hopefully I will be able to write more later but right now I’m way too exhausted! Also no snakes today!
Pictures from the trail: