Monday, May 31, 2010
Zero Day #5
Ok, so I've decided to so something unprecedented in all of my hiking adventures....take back to back zeros. My thought is this: first I'd like to hit the PO (closed today-holiday). Second, I'd like to take the bus out of town rather than try to hitch 35 miles from the highway on-ramp. Finally, once I leave, I will not be in another real town for over 300 trail miles. I will still arrive in Kennedy meadows
on June 3rd, which is very early. The temps are HOT, which means everyday melts several feet of snowpack. So....today truly is about doing nothing. I finished my meds, and am back to my old self. Then, it's 3 days to km leaving bright and early tomorrow.
On a side note: thanks to all of our veterans serving and who have
served. I know I have several late family members who served as well
as a friend in Iraq now. So thank you for what you've done and what
you do. To all current servicemen/women...come home safely.
Pic is of local diner: Koffee shop
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Zero Day #4
Taking care of the usual logistics today. Clothes, food, HEET fuel,
etc. This is a decent little town. Really trying to suck the marrow
out of this zero. I'm actually considering staying one more day if
only to be around Tuesday morning for the PO and the local bus
service. It's finally getting hot, which means loads of melting snow
and as the guidebooks say "rabid Mosquitos". Forecast is for lotsa
hot sunny days. Too bad it's a week too late. Caught back up to
mango, but he's heading back out today. My attitude is that with 50
miles to the Sierra, what's the rush.
Side note: Neldas diner...incredible shakes and good people. Hikers
make note of this. Double sided milkshake menu of various flavors.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Was up and hiking today by 5:15 am. I figured with the holiday
weekend, it would be best to try and get a ride to town early. Of all
my planned town stops, this one will probably be the farthest from the
actual trail. The hitch was 35 miles. I was worried I wouldn't get a
ride, but there is a bus that runs from the next town over reducing
the hitch to 17 miles. As luck would have it though, a former pct
hiker, Anna, picked me up and drove me all 35 miles. I'm in town now
enjoying the holiday weekend in the last motel room in town. I
already booked it for tomorrow too. Nice town for a zero. After
here, it's only 50 miles to Kennedy meadows...the doorway to the
Sierra. I'm nervous about the snow after seeing it from agar today,
but will push on regardless. Should make for some good stories.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Looong day today. Decided to hike a little extra so that I could set
myself up for an early afternoon hitch attempt into lake Isabella.
With it being a holiday weekend, it may be tough. Today I started
hiking through the southern sierras and can see the snowy peaks in the
distance. The weather finally cleared up too.
Good long day. Starting to feel a lot better. Sitting here at robin spring, it occurs to me that Kennedy meadows is 100 miles away. That is pretty damn close as trail miles go. Not much else to talk about today. I walked alone all day and enjoyed the scenery a lot. The trees are starting to get fuller, and the familiar desert flora are disappearing. I will be going into lake Isabella in a few days (whenever I get to walker pass-if I can get a hitch)
Crossed 600 today...cool
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Well, I can add the joy of giardia to my list of new experiences that
I've had while hiking. Turns out it was giardia, and after a week of
symptoms, I worked my way into a small clinic outside of mojave. With
a twirl of the pen, the lpn wrote me a script for a wonderful drug
that is, as we speak, ridding my body of nasty little protozoans. Did
a nice 16 today out of town and walked by hundreds of wind turbines.
The pic looks like a windows wallpaper. Found a great camping spot
after the 2000 ft climb up from the highway. After crossing the
highway, I also officially said goodbye to southern Cali, and welcomed
Looking forward to feeling like my ok self again.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Zero Day #3
Well I'm hanging out here in Mojave, a town that is finally living up
to its reputation. Today is HOT. Glad to be in an air conditioned
room. The zero day is nice. I'm not miserably sick this time, and
have already done my "chores". I made it up to the hardware store,
bought some mineral spirits, and with my silicone sealer sealed my new
tent. It's kind of funny to see a tent set up on the motel 6
lawn. :-). I'm waiting for the staff to say something. Until then,
it's going to dry in the sun.
At 9 am this morning, I had a conference call with the folks that
coordinate WAIS Divide Antarctica deployment, and my date has
officially been set: Nov 16th is when I will leave for my third and
last year of ice core work at WAIS. We should complete drilling this
season. It's weird to think about living on an ice sheet while
sitting in mojave.
Tomorrow I will head out for the trail again, but not until mid-day.
I've got one other thing to take care of in the morning.
On a side note, once I leave here tomorrow, I'll officially be
entering "central California". That's right, southern Cali section is
Still having a blast. Hike on....
Oh, one other thing. Got my degree in the mail. Penn state was crazy
enough to give me a masters degree!?I know, what is this world coming
Happy 1 year anniversary Carri and Dion.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Made it into Mojave today. Got a ride from the first car I stuck my
thumb out for. Love that.
Staying for a couple days to let my body recover a bit. Last couple
of days have been tough.
Starting to seriously think about my Sierra options. I really want to
go north, but the snow reports are really bad. If I decide to flip,
it will be to Oregon to go south, and then back to Oregon to go north
if I'm still in the game. I am going to go into lake Isabella to kill
some time, and may even jump out to lone pine as well, so that will
give me a few more days of snow melt. It's kind of weird for me to
have so many stops and zeros, but it's necessary. The herd will
undoubtedly catch up, but I really like it here in mojave. I am
tucked away up at the motel 6 by myself and it's nice to rest.
Filled out my wall map today, and the line is starting to look
What a bizarre day. I left hiker town with about 4 inches of new snow
across the valley on the tehachapi mtns. I walked the 15 miles along
the aquaduct across the exposed mojave desert always just ahead of
some nasty clouds. I never got rained on, but I was very close to
it. Today was supposed to be the "hottest and most miserable day on
the trail". It rained and was cold. Go figure. At about 4pm, I
finally left the aquaduct and began the slow climb up into the
foothills. As I made my way, I encountered gust force winds like
never before. So intense I was literally blown down a couple times.
If I had to guess, I'd say a few of the gusts probably neared 80-100
mph. I'm tucked away in a shielded canyon tonight but the winds are
still crazy. It was hard setting my tent up, so I gave up and am
cowboy camping. I'm mummied up nicely listening to the howling winds
around me. With all this said...it was a good and unique day.
With today being my one month anniversary on the trail (started hiking
April 23rd), I'd also like to just say a few words about my memorial
page. I haven't brought it up yet, nor do I plan to except on month
anniversaries. For those reading along and don't know, part of the
reason for my hike is to raise awareness and funds for the American
heart association (for heart disease research). My dad, a pretty
healthy guy, was taken way too early from us because of this nasty
disease. I set up a tribute page in his honor and it's already raised
over 500 dollars from many generous people (thank you everyone).
Thats about a dollar a mile so far. It's on days like today, when my
head is down and I'm plowing into 80 mph winds that I think about why
I'm out here.
So if you feel like giving a buck or two, the link is over in the
right sidebar. Thanks everyone, and I'm proud to walk for such a good
Pic is a Joshua tree in the middle of the mojave desert.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Woke up this morning at a relatively low elevation of about 4500 ft,
on may 22nd, within a few miles of the mojave desert, and it was
snowing and in the 20s. WTF?! It was a cold brisk walk down to
highway 138 where I was aiming to hit the famous "hikertown". This
hostel is hard to explain but bob and Richard are both fantastic.
There are a slew of small "trailers" that you can rent for ten bucks.
I opted for a nice little place on the end of town row. The town is
set up like an old movie set facade. Kinda weird.
Tomorrow is historically one of the worst days on the pct. Because of
the enormous tajon ranch, the pct is routed right across the hot open,
merciless mojave along the la aquaduct. Tajon ranch won't grant the
pct an easement to route the trail through the tehachapu mtns (along
the actual crest). Because of this crazy weather, tomorrow is
actually supposed to be cool and windy for my desert hike. I'd be
lying if I said that I wasn't a little interested in the unique aspect
of tomorrow. Real curious to walk along the aquaduct. Depending on
how it goes, I will either be in mojave Monday or early Tuesday. Lots
to do in mojave, will probably zero again. For anyone interested,
here is why I'm not in any hurry right now:
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Ok. So first let's talk about the intestinal issues. Waking up this
morning I definitely felt better. While still not right, my "offness"
was more of a fatigue than a sick feeling. To me this said i was on
the mend and that my ailment was in fact an intestinal virus and not a
parasite. I decided to try an easy 8 mile day to test myself out.
Joe Anderson told me if I got to lake Hughes and still felt awful,
that he'd come pick me up and take me to the clinic. I got to the
road and hitched in still feeling good. While I wanted to keep
hiking, I forced myself to stop. Instead I will kicking it at the
Rock Inn for Karaoke Night. Nothing in this town but it's nice to
have made a little progress. Going to shoot for 15+ tomorrow.
Couple of cool milestones today. I hit 485 miles today, and that
means I've hiked a colorado trail on the pct. Also with 485 down,
this means there are about 2175 miles to Canada...or in other words,
an Appalachian trail. After all this hiking and almost a month on the
trail, there is still a full AT of miles to get to Canada. Crazy.
So glad to be feeling better.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Zero Day #2
2nd zero day on the trail and I am not doing so hot. I'm cautiously optimistic that my ailment is a simple intestinal bug and not a parasite (ie giardia). Last night was awful. I was back and forth between my tent and the bathroom several times, but I'm hoping I've gotten it all through me now. Today I feel sort of meh. Not terribly awful, but not ready to hike. I remember on the AT when i started
hiking after I thought I was better, it only made me sicker. This time I am taking it easy. A good excuse to slow down for the Sierra anyway.
The andersons are incredibly kind and generous people. Their place is
a perfect spot to chillax. The big herd of hikers has caught up and
are all one day back at the saufleys...over 45 peeps last night.
If I do go out tomorrow, it will be a short day, probably only to Lake
Hughes. (8 or so).
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Trying to compare the andersons to the saufleys is like trying to
compare night and day. The saufleys is about organization. Things
are orderly, and there are signup sheets. At the andersons, you throw
your tent in the back yard, throw on a hawaiin shirt, and reach for
the beer cooler. Unfortunately, I am still having major stomach
issues, so I am all about resting. I captured a small lizard running
through the andersons house and had some fun with him before I let him
free. Tomorrow is a zero...it has to be. I will not hike with a
Happy birthday today mom.
Ok so first off I know i was going to zero at the saufleys. My reasoning for going out tonight was that i had originally planned on hiking 24 miles to the andersons tomorrow. Instead I stayed at the saufleys until 4 pm, and hiked the first 11. This leaves me a slow and easy 13 tomorrow.
Today has been interesting. It has been raining all day, and to make matters worse, the breakfast I had in town has made me sick. Not sure what it is, but I've been having horrible stomach cramps all day. Very reminiscent of northern Virginia on the at. I will very gingerly
hike to the andersons tomorrow and then stay a full zero. I hate
being sick on the trail.
Some good news is that I've got my tent now....yay!!! My trusty lunar
solo was too badly wrecked and so I'm using a tarptent "moment" now.
I got a good deal on it. So far I love it. It's nice watching the
bugs trying to get in. I just laugh at them now. Yay.
Going to bed early and hopefully I feel better tomorrow.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Well...here I am in Agua Dulce at the Saufleys place. The Saufleys are a trail angel couple that lets hikers stay here in their back yard. Everyone is here. Ishmael, Mango, Hot Mess, Toothfairy, Chuck Norris, Furniture, Rally, The Israeli Gears, ...and a few others. It's packed. We took some mountain bikes up to the market, bought a few 6 packs and are celebrating my graduation today. That's right, today was my Penn State Commencement. As of now, I officially hold a Masters Degree in Geosciences from PSU. Kind of weird to be celebrating that fact from the middle of nowhere California with a bunch of strangers....but somehow strangely apropos.
I got to hike past the Vasquez Rocks this morning. These rocks are a common filming location for Hollywood flicks. In particular, the episode of the original star trek where kirk fights the lizard guy was filmed there. I took some photos of me holding a large rock over my head...in total kirk-style.
My goal for the next 2+ weeks is to purposely slow down and pad zero days. This mentality is completely against my nature, but is necessary if I want to avoid impassable snow in the sierras. I must add some zeroes and low milage days, otherwise I will be sitting at Kennedy Meadows waiting to enter the snow mtns. My plan is to zero here, and at the Andersons (another trail angel family 24 miles up the trail).
The Mojave is looming, but the desert sections are almost done. I'm looking forward to some different scenery.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Ok so first off, I did not hike 44 miles today. I simply ended the
day of roadwalking right where the trail reopens at mile 444.2.
Obviously the road walk cut about 20 miles off of my distance. The
good news is that the roadwalking is over AND I was able to spend a
few hours in acton enjoying a beer with mango and some locals. The
bad news, is that we are staying at a Koa campground because the idea
of a shower for only a 5 dollar tent site fee was just too tempting.
Let me put this on record, Koa is awful. The tents here are larger
than some apartments and for non pct hikers the rates for a tentsite
are over 30 bucks. 30 BUCKS for a piece of dirt!? This place is
overcrowded with city folks out for a weekend of "being in nature".
The staff here has to ride around in golf carts...it's crazy. I'm
very tempted to forgo the shower and hike up the trail a mile and camp
for free. Anyhoo....rants over. At least all these people aren't
sitting on couches watching tv.
Tomorrow, I will hike into agua Dulce and hang with the saufleys for a
day or two. After 450 miles i will also be adding a tent to my pack
in preparation for the sierra. The poncho/tarp has been great up to
Mohave desert is looming.
Pic is from the 49er bar in acton. I avoided hiking during the hot
early afternoon by taking my siesta in a cool dark bar. Yay.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Woo hoo mile 400 (or so). Today was all about roads. I left sycamore
camp alone on a mission to hike the 14 miles to the small town of
lttlerock. Rumor had it that there was a macdonalds, and specialty
milk shake shop. I rolled in at 10:35, and thought about getting a
mc10:35 (google it) but opted for a cheeseburger. I lazed around for
three hours until mango caught up and we walked another 6 together.
We found a sheltered spot off of the highway out of site from cars
(but unsure of public or private land - oh well). Hope to make it to
Soledad canyon tomorrow where the pct closure ends. Then it will be a
10 miler into agua Dulce sunday.
The roadwalking today wasn't too bad, but my feet are sore and
stressing about oncoming traffic all day wore me down.
On a side note, we found a small toy cow and I decided to carry her
for a while. Good ol bessy.
First off, I'm guessing on the mileage. The day started off slow and
it was great. I hung around wrightwood and purposely delayed my
actions. Even after I was all packed, I went up and sat at the coffee
Two hours and just enjoyed the fresh air. When I finally headed out
of town, I got a ride rather quickly. After 5 short miles on the PCT,
I started what will become a 50 mile detour. In order to avoid the
snow covered mt Baden and the station fire, I headed down the high
desert national recreation trail for about 5 miles. I then headed
about a mile down big rock creek rd and stopped early at the sycamore
campground. Tomorrow we have a full day of road walking to avoid the
station fire. My goal is to try to make agua Dulce in 2 or three
days, right where the trail reopens. Should be an interesting few days.
Picture of my tarp(background) and mango's tent
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Made it into lovely Wrightwood CA this morning after an easy 5 mile
hike and 10 mile hitchhike. Everything is done and now I'm just
kicking back on a small room at the "Pines". There are a lot of
hikers here, but there is sort of a grey cloud hovering over
everyone. Once we leave wrightwood we have two very major issues to
deal with. First off is Mt Baden Powell. It is nasty, snowy, and the
trail goes up the north face. Yuck. Second, there is a 50 mile
section of trail closed right after that from the 2009 station fire.
What's worse, is that the pcta has no marked reroute as of yet, so
it's a sort of "choose your own adventure"...but will undoubtedly
involve lots of roadwalking. Some are cosidering a sort-of unofficial
reroute published by some other hikers that involves bypassing both mt
Baden AND the fire closure, some want to try Mt Baden and then start a
reroute. No matter what though, getting caught trying to hike the pct
through the closure results in a 5000 fine. I will probably do the
full reroute all the way to agua dulce and then stop at the Saufleys
(trail angels). So...long story short, the next few days will
probably be a bit miserable, but I am going to try to enjoy them.
But for now, I believe a big burger is calling me ;-)
Picture is of "the pines"
Today the group of us headed out of cajon pass after a satisfying
continental breakfast at the best western. After a short 2 miles we
hit our first fire reroute detour of the trail. It was a 15 mile
section that that rerouted about 12 trail miles and was mostly on jeep
roads. Lot of climbing today. We went from about 3000 to over 8000,
and it is snowy and cold up here. Will probably get down into the 20s
tonight. Good day though and tomorrow I have a quick 5 miles to the
highway where I will hitch the 10 miles into wrightwood. Looking
forward to a near full day off.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Made it to cajon pass today after a long but somewhat quick 25. I
hiked with straightjacket, wanderer, and Dave. I hadn't planned on
staying here at the pass but the hotel offers hikers rooms for
50...and split four ways we couldn't refuse. So, I went to the famous
macdonalds off the trail, and took a nice shower. Will be relaxing
tonight and in two days will be in wrightwood. Tomorrow, there is a
15 mile trail reroute from the 2009 sheep fire. I have a reroute map,
but I plan on taking it slow. It's only 27 miles so I should have an
easy two days. I am now half waybto Kennedy meadows, the doorway to
the sierras, and everyone is talking about the snow.
Well today was interesting. Woke up and started out early by
myself. I walked yesterday with mango but went solo today. At 15
miles I came to a natural hot springs. At first I was excited to soak
a bit, but then i noticed that there were an awful lot of naked
people. Ummmmm, so apparently the locals treat the hot springs as a
hippie nudist colony. Needless to say, I tipped my hat and politely
said a few hellos and walked on. This trail is weird.
I'm camping tonight with Dave, straightjacket, and wanderer.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Left big bear today and got a ride up to the van dusen trail head in a
Swiss army truck....pretty cool. The day was very easy. Lots of
level and downhill hiking. Went through a long burndown section , was
kind of depressing. At the end of the day I had two river fords and
slipped on the first one. Completely dunked under, and got a nice cut
on my leg in the process. Hasn't been a good week for injuries, but
tomorrow we have a hot springs on the trail....will be nice to soak.
Only a few days to wrightwood.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Enjoying a nice day off here in town. Did my usual postal stuff and
laundry, and now just relaxing. I went to the outfitter and got a sun
The story on the bruised arm is pretty embarrasing. During an 8 mile
road walk a few days ago, I slipped on loose gravel. As I was
falling I grabbed a metal bar on the side of the road (the kind with
the white reflectors) and it tore my wool shirt and arm up on the
process. Doesn't hurt anymore really, but looks nasty.
Anyhoo, thought this would be a good time to talk a little about gear
Favourite piece of gear so far:
Backpacking Light Merino wool hoodie
I love this shirt. Sucks that I tore it up. I hand sewed it, but I
don't know if it will hold.
Close second: Brooks Cascadia 5 shoes. Great shoes. No blisters or
foot pain and with almost 300 miles on them they still look new.
Most worthless piece of gear:
Mountain Laurel Designs Gaitors. Terrible design. I am ordering some
Dirty Girl gaitors on line.
Close Second: Six Moons Meteor Bivy. Very annoying to setup and
use. I sent it home already.
Gear I was most glad to have: gps during snowy sections and 15 degree
Will write more later....
Well, I had no intention of going into big bear today. I started the
day with 19 miles to hit highway 18. I was going to hike to about
there, and then hike the 8 miles to van dusen rd tomorrow. I got to
highway 18 at 1 pm and just decided to keep going. At 4:00 pm i was
at van dusen so I walked into town. Never on the AT did I cover 27
miles by 4pm. Anyway...I'm staying at a little hiker motel with
ishmael. It's a perfect little spot. Tomorrow is a zero!!! Not
hiking. Going to enjoy town, get my mail, and go to the outfitter.
Breakfast tomorrow at the famous Thelmas.
The next 100 + miles of the pct head west towards LA.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Today was all about climbing. We had a 7000 ft climb from mission
creek camp up to 8500 feet. It's hard to explain starting a day in
sweltering heat and ending the day dealing with snow postholing. At
any rate, it ended with a group of us hanging in in an old cabin.
Tomorrow I set up for big bear city.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Rough day today. The day started really well as Ishmael and I
descended to highway 10. Right near the highway a guy named Scott
offered to givevus a ride to cabazon (4.5 miles away). We took him up
and headed in. It was a very bizarre experience. There were giant
dinosaurs outside the diner that had gift shops inside. Here's the
kicker though. They were run by fundamentalist Christians who were
basically trying to tell us that dinosaurs never actually existed.
Like ibsaid....weird. The breakfast was great though. Once hitching
a ride back, we began hiking in extreme heat. Anything chocolate in
my bag was completely melted and I was miserable. Getting to camp
tonight was a struggle. Tomorrow we have a 5000 ft climb up into the
San gorgonio range, before decending into big bear city probably Friday.
Thankfully tomorrow is supposed to be cooler.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Today was quite an epic day. Our group of four split and only Ishmael
and I left idyllwild. We decided the snow was too difficult on San
jacinto, so we walked the official pcta road detour 8 miles up highway
248, and 8 miles up black mtn rd. Afterword we joined the pct after
fuller ridge and hiked almost all the way down to the valley floor.
Our trail miles totaled 24.4, but we actually hiked over 27. Long
day. Looking forward to a good sleep. The backside of jacinto was
beautiful with all the snow. San gregornio looks pretty bad up ahead
too. Guess we'll see.
Tomorrow we might hitch into cabazon for some burger king.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Wow....lots of scary snow. The past 10 miles were very difficult. Several unsettling and terrifying sections. It took 6 hours to go 6 miles, and I had no microspikes or axe....just trekking poles. Not fun. There are a lot of people in town that are all trying to decide what to do. It's kind of a crappy atmosphere. A group of is are
talking about roadwalking 17 miles around fuller ridge (San jacinto). San Gregorino is supposed to also be bad. In addition, there is a closed section of the pct coming up that has no reroute yet. Kind of a crappy spot to be in. But hey, I'm in Cali, hiking, and having fun. Been hanging with Ishmael, Furniture, and Sam. Good group.
Might zero tomorrow.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Today started out with a let down. The famous Paradise Cafe that all pct hikers visit, was closed. I was really looking forward to this place. Guess it might reopen under new management. Anyway, the rest
of the day was amazing. Lots of climbs, but also lots of ridgeline hiking. San Jacinto and it's snow look ominous in the distance. Tomorrow, I will tackle a 10 mile snowy section and head into idyllwild. Woo hoo. Soooo glad to have my 15 degree bag tonight.
Today also marks an important date, for it was exactly 3 years ago that I set foot off of springer mountain on my quest to hike 2174 miles north to Mt. Katahdin. What a fitting way to celebrate my 3 year anniversary of that life changing event....to be out doing another long hike.
Another great day. Trying to set myself up for a Sunday arrival in idyllwild, so I have to do two low 20 days. Today was perfect for this. I took lots of breaks and even an hour nap in the grass. There are some ominous snowy peaks off in the distance that everyone is worried about. I'll know on Sunday if I'll be taking a roadwalk detour or not. I'm really enjoying the days of walking that allow me
to think about things.
Hope all is well with everyone and I am excited to be sleeping in my warm bag tonight!