Mile 1597.3 Etna to mile 1716.2 Callahan’s Siskiyou Lodge

Mile 1597.3 Etna to mile 1716.2 Callahan’s Siskiyou Lodge

Day: 76
Sweet sweet nero.
Day Seventy-six: 17 July 2015
Start: HM 1597.3
End: HM 1604.7 campsite on Cub Spring Trail
GPS Point: 41.452447, -123.034360
Day Total: 7.6 miles
Water at mile Etna, mile 1604.7 Cub Spring
After the coma-like sleep from last night, I woke up feeling pretty rested. My body acknowledged the rocky ground jabbing into it as uncomfortable, and I took that to be a good sign. Especially since last night that ground felt quite comfortable. My legs feel wobbly, like they had forgotten what to do. Or maybe it’s that they are silently refusing to do anything. Either way I had a stagger today. I gave them several good rub downs and rested luxuriously, but they tightened up repeatedly.
I hadn’t thought about this at all, but from the trailhead, Etna is about eleven miles away and during a weekday the road is a very quiet one. I woke at 6:30 AM and saw only one vehicle pass by going towards Etna. There were however, multiple trucks and work vehicles headed the opposite way. We had one empty SUV pass and just wave as the driver continued towards Etna. Considering that had been 45 minutes of waiting at the road, we thought we might have a hard time even making it to Etna. Shortly after though, two trucks pulled up and the front guy said they would give us a ride, one to a truck. Score! I hopped into the front truck and Endless to the back one. These were old cabs that only seated two. I unfortunately forget the name of my generous driver, but the following truck with Endless was a guy named Wes. Both locals, they are driving truckloads of rock to the forest area on the opposite direction where last summer a 150,000 sq. ft. forest fire devastated this area. My driver told me all sorts of interesting things about the rivers, forest, and fires for this area. In particular, I liked the story about Man Eaten Lake. It’s one of his favorites and right off trail. The name is from lore about an Indian group camped at the lake and a giant salamander coming out and eating someone. Also a few years ago a hiker supposedly fell off the trail down into the lake and died. His body was found in the Klamath River six months later, despite that there is no connection between lake and river, as if an underground tunnel, like a Blue Hole, exists or something. It was a great hitch and he assured me that the ride back to trail is much easier to acquire than waiting for someone to drive by the trailhead.
Endless and I went straight to Bob’s Ranch House and ate two breakfasts a piece. Endless then ate a cream filled chocolate donut from the bakery. They were running low on supplies by that time for my tastes. We walked back to the main town area and spent many hours relaxing at the Wildwood Crossing Coffeehouse and Cafe. A really great hangout! Etna is a town of maybe 700 people, everyone was super friendly and PCT conscious. Every single person in the cafe took time to chat with us. So nice and very amicable! We went to the grocery and I bought way too much food for the 56 miles to Seiad Valley. I also ran over to the thrift shop to look for a dress (no luck!), stopped by the library to print a paper, and cut the corners off my current dress for patch material. While loitering in front of the grocery, a guy named Matt offered us a ride back to the trailhead. He is super cool! In the past he has run a trail magic setup just before the trailhead, but currently he had a two month old baby occupying his interests. Said he hadn’t been up to the trail in over a month and was glad for the excuse to drive up. He does a lot of hiking around the area, and it sounded quite extensive. One of many generous and outdoor loving locals.
We had a late start tonight, like 6 PM sort of late, so only hiked about eight miles to the first water source. We are cowboy camped near Lindsey and Happy Baby.
In town, we saw Hoots, Legs, Super Classy, Phoenix, Lone Wolf, Lebowski, and Beetlejuice. Endless said he saw Haymaker, Spills, and Cheetah heading to the brewery. There were numerous others who I didn’t exchange conversation with. This might be the most hikers in one place that I have seen since Sierra City. I am still incredulous by how many hikers can be hiking parallel to each other without ever crossing paths. At least until the town stops. An incredible time in town! Definitely one of the most hiker friendly places.
Day: 77
Taking it easy.
Day Seventy-seven: 18 July 2015
Start: HM 1604.7
End: HM 1636.1 rocky turnaround point on unpaved road
GPS Point: 41.700319, -123.244424
Day Total: 31.6 miles
Water at mile 1611 small creek, mile 1621.2 creek near Marble Valley Cabin, mile 1626.5 inlet to Paradise Lake, mile 1632 Buckhorn Spring
I am getting worse at wanting to list all the people I’ve crossed each day. First I passed Super Classy. She also wears a dress. I have been mistaken for her a few times in the past. The only other woman in a dress that I have met. She started at the beginning of April and has done a lot of crazy flipping around to avoid bad weather. That is likely why my appearance in a dress is mistaken for her. Then I saw Lindsey and Happy Baby. They are moving along well! I like them. Next was Legs. After that I saw Hoots and two day hikers on a trail junction. Down by the stream in front of the Marble Valley cabin, I saw two day hikers with two dogs (Buck and Mika), two climbers, and a day hiker. Two trail crew guys also came down the trail to get supplies from the cabin. They let us look inside. It was pretty cool! A ranger used to be stationed out of there each summer. Hoots had gone by while we were getting water and the same couple from earlier also came down and got water. Later at Paradise Lake, I met three section hikers named Scout Master, Melissa, and Michelle. They were cool. Then at camp we found Hoots and another section hiker named TK, or The Kid. I really like TK. A really genuinely nice guy. He is between his first and second years in undergrad, and I am excited for his future.
Today there was so much going on scenery-wise. The weather was perfect! I ate lunch at the cabin in the valley below the Marble Mountains. A beautiful spot. We walked around the grand Marble Mountains and Black Marble Mountain. I was really enjoying the marble peaks. I thought the white peaks were the same granite plutons from Cassel Crags, instead I was surprised with really nice marble structures. I have always been very fond of marble. Metamorphosed limestone. It intrigues me in its simplicity. Then Endless and I stopped at the not so Paradise Lake. We wanted to swim, but ended up just rinsing off in the outlet stream. Anyways, there were basically just so many stunning views today. I loved it all! And we hiked it pretty casually. There wasn’t a rush. Breaks were relaxing and frequent. I had a great day.
Bugs were out with a vengeance tonight. We started the hike down into Seiad Valley and are camped on this not so camp-like area at the end of a road. Hoots and TK are here. Because of the rocky ground, the four of us are spread out across a huge area, into small nooks of the least rockiness.
Day: 78
Feeling the strain of the trail.
Day Seventy-eight: 19 July 2015
Start: HM 1636.1
End: HM 1657.7 small campsite on ridge
GPS Point: 41.86162, -123.21345
Day Total: 21.6 miles
Water at mile Seiad Valley
These past few days I have been feeling extra exhausted and dealing with fever-like night sweats. As per usual, I was ignoring these side effects of thru hiking. Today I was at strings end though. The heat creeping up on the valley as we dropped down to 1300 feet and the 6.2 mile exposed road walk into town, both took their toll. I was cranky, tired, and dehydrated. Never before had I so badly wanted an ice cold Arnold Palmer, giant Oreo milkshake, side salad, BLT (both made with the biggest and freshest tomato slices!!!), and crispy hot fries. I have a worry that my worn body is struggling with an immune response. I picked up some ibuprofen and gave myself a one over to look for other ailments. All I can find is feet issues, and I finally removed the last two darkened toenails that have been hanging on a bit too long. In all, I have lost six toe nails. Hoping this is just a temporary hurdle.
The hike this morning, everything prior to the road walk section, was incredibly relaxing and easy. All downhill, not too steep, walking along a beautiful river valley. Endless and I met Lizard, Pie, and Marisa on the way to town. In town was Robo Doc with Roadrunner at the cafe. Hoots, TK, and Aloha all showed up too. We all hung out in the shade for the afternoon heat. I finally started sewing up my dress. I still have a ways to go, but I think the patches will work swimmingly. Way later than we intended, Endless and I started the 4500 foot climb out of the valley. We didn’t go far. There really isn’t a need to rush as we are planning to stay at Callahan’s Siskiyou Lodge in two days’ time. But we made it halfway up and are camped on a nice ledge with a view back down at Seiad Valley, a view of the setting sun, and a view of the starry sky above. A perfect camp site.
Day: 79
Hello Oregon!
Day Seventy-nine: 20 July 2015
Start: HM 1657.7
End: HM 1693.6 Sheep Camp Spring
GPS Point: 42.03220, -122.87345
Day Total: 35.9 miles
Water at mile 1659.4 Lookout Spring, mile 1668.2 Piped Cook and Green Pass Spring, mile 1684.7 spring, mile 1693.6 Sheep Camp Spring
I have done a lot thinking recently. Mostly about my post trail life. There were many things I wanted to do before moving to California, but with extending my hike, I chose to alter those plans. I also thought about how lonely my hike would have been if I had hiked at my expected pace instead of adjusting to my various companions. I am so thankful to have hiked with good people this whole trek so far.
Today I passed the California and Oregon border. How incredible! It is strange to think about finally being in Oregon. Seems like I have been trying to get out of California for so long, I don’t know how to think about Oregon and Washington. Seiad Valley marked the less than 1000 miles to go mark. That means I am not quite 2/3 finished. Oregon and Washington will breeze by, and then what? Do I begin planning my next thru hike? Or a change of direction? I have been wanting to get into cycling, so maybe the transamerican bike ride? Or Southeast Asia? So many interests, how to choose? Especially since my next five years are fairly tied to Santa Barbara.
Today I met Emma, or Lil’ Trucker, then Gary, a older man out for his first thru hike of a week, and Juke Box, a nobo section hiker.
Day: 80
An S&M surprise!
Day Eighty: 21 July 2015
Start: HM 1693.6
End: HM 1716.2 Callahan’s Siskiyou Lodge grass yard
GPS Point: 42.07382, -122.60261
Day Total: 22.6 miles
Water at mile
Last night we had service and checked in with our beloved S&M. After some discussion, it was put out there that maybe S&M could join us to finish Washington.
Endless flies home the 4th and back the 9th for his little brother’s wedding. I could take a few days in Portland to see my friend Jen, then start out leisurely for the border and let Endless catch up and S&M join whenever she is free. It may not work, but it would be awesome if a whole group of us could finish together.
Callahan’s and today showed a fair amount of hikers. Roadrunner went to Ashland and came back to stay at Callahan’s. Met Marathon John, Crunchmaster and Face, a woman with her dog who is doing a section, an older man, and I met Nomad and Rattles on my way to Callahan’s as they were leaving. I also had the opportunity to run into Terry and Marg, Cheetah’s parents. Nice people!
Callahan’s is fantastic! The day desk man, Brandon, was so friendly as I walked in. He immediately sat me down at a table to relax, grabbing my free first beer. I then told him I would be staying for the Hiker Special, that is camping, shower, laundry, supper, and breakfast. A deal! They gave me towel, tag, and robe! They had soap and a hiker bathroom. Plus detergent for the laundry. So wonderful! Supper was spaghetti and warm bread! Endless and I added some supplemental milkshakes, fries, and desserts to our meals. Very relaxing and friendly. Definitely the hiker friendly place they claim to be!

Mile 1416.5 Burney Falls State Park to mile 1597.3 Etna

Mile 1416.5 Burney Falls State Park to mile 1597.3 Etna

Day: 70
Jeep roads a plenty.
Day Seventy: 11 July 2015
Start: HM 1416.5
End: HM 1447.5 campsite among blowdown remnants
GPS Point: 41.172998, -121.859338
Day Total: 31.0 miles
Water at mile Burney Falls State Park, mile 1434.4 Clark Spring, mile 1444.8 Moosehead Creek
Today my brain honed in on an idea I have thought about a few times before, but which was rekindled recently. I want to write a guide book for the PCT to provide information about the geology, history, flora and fauna, and whatever else I think is noteworthy. There isn’t a concise book that does this service. People are always intrigued by the random tid bits I tell them about geology or whatever. Plus I personally would love getting to learn the in-depth geological background for the PCT. It was suggested that I create an app like Halfmile’s so the info shows up based on the GPS vicinity. I am not sure I would ever want to do my own GPS apps, but let’s start with if I even start the project to begin with.
Saw Jongjump and Kay Catts with Croomidor. They must have gotten behind at a water spot. I met a guy named Fifty at the top of the path down to Moosehead Creek. We sat there and chatted a long while. Endless showed up and about the same time Feral and Kale walked up from the water trail. The three of us picked up water and then walked another three miles to the campsite. At the camp was Aloha, chilling out by a fire. He had gotten there a few hours prior and was heading to bed until we showed up and all of us chatted a while. A late night but great company!
While hanging out I had a dilemma with getting my supper into my little bowl. The additional items I fill into my potato suppers has grown and the little ziplock bowl I started with may need replacing. I cannot imagine that I will suddenly start eating less.
Overall a mostly uneventful but lovely day. The most notable thing today was that I felt like we crossed every Forest Service and jeep road in this whole area. There was road crossing after road crossing after road crossing. It was somewhat ridiculous. Why are there so many roads through here? Or why does the trail cross the same roads so many times? I also saw the man from last night who is hiking a short section with his family. He was with his wife a little ways back from his son and brother ahead at the river. Nice people.
Despite a lot of breaks and a pretty casual pace, Endless and I made 31 miles still. We are definitely becoming more efficient in our hiking. Consistently keeping the same pace even in the evening hours instead of slowing down after lunch.
Day: 71
A calm day.
Day Seventy-one: 12 July 2015
Start: HM 1447.5
End: HM 1483.1 campsite between unpaved roads
GPS Point: 41.13648, -122.17860
Day Total: 35.6 miles
Water at mile 1460.1 Deer Creek, mile 1478.9 Trough Creek, mile 1482.2 Squaw Valley Creek
8 AM start. Really wanted to sleep in today. Yesterday I was exhausted. Today I was immediately presented with a beautiful view of Mt. Shasta. I didn’t realize we go so close to it! It was spectacular!
There was a surprising amount of uphill today. The elevation profiles seem to be muted a little or something on my Halfmile pages. I almost caught Fifty at the top of the long uphill but took a break instead. Then I did catch him at Deer Creek. We hiked out together and caught Endless and then Aloha. Aloha was just getting up from a break. We stopped at the next water source and ate a snack with Endless. Fifty paced off me the rest of the day. It was to have the company where I was setting the pace the whole time. I felt good today but still somewhat tired.
Pretty much never saw Aloha again. Ran into Smellin’ Keller and Screwloose at the Ash Camp Campground near McCloud River. There were providing some trail magic while waiting for Blues. Saw Nips towards evening. Haven’t seen him since the few days into Donner Pass and our Auburn trip.
Made it to camp. Aloha must be ahead. There are three other tents here. At least the closest one is a couple. Could be more just ahead. There are always a lot of hikers camped within the last fifteen miles into a town stop. Oh how predictable we thru-hikers become.
Falling asleep while journaling for the second night. Up too late hanging out with Endless and Fifty.
Day: 72
Times are a changing.
Day Seventy-two: 13 July 2015
Start: HM 1483.1
End: HM 1498.7 Travel Inn at Mt. Shasta
GPS Point: 41.30967, -122.31075
Day Total: 18.1 miles
Water at mile 1492.4 North Forth of Fall Creek
Screw Loose and Smellin’ Keller gave Endless and me a ride to Mt. Shasta. We walked to Castella first, adding 2.5 miles to our walked distance today. Then they picked us up. We dropped Screw Loose off at the trail to do some trail magic then we continued into Mt. Shasta. So nice of Smellin’ Keller to give us a ride.
Saw Kale Dreamer and Dharma Bum, Stummy and Stinger, Nominal Toast and Rebo, Tarzan and One of Us on trail. Saw Courage, Hornbuckle, Haymaker and Garbelly, at Ammirati’s in Castella. Cheetah and Spills at trailhead when dropping off Screwloose. Hawaii and Beer Goddess, Houdini and Johnny Walker, Aloha, Fifty, Hoots, Ram, and more in town. We have run back into the bubble. The Fourth of July must have created a small void that we shot through and are back into the herd ahead. It is nice but also leading to some new faces.
Endless and I spent this town stop getting rest mostly, but we were also productive. Though I was not nearly as productive as I wanted to be. We stayed at the Travel Inn. Hoots stayed there too. It has been really nice to catch up with him.
Since we made it to town early in the day, I worked on chores right away. A quick shower at the hotel and we were off. I bought new socks and a poncho! I need to do some frankensteining on my tattered dress. We ate at Say Cheese Pizza. Really good! Then bought food at Ray’s grocery.
There is a surprising number of homeless and vagrant types in Mt. Shasta. Apparently it’s due to Mt. Shasta having a portal to another universe. These are not homeless or vagrants after all, but Lemurians. Residents of the hidden city of Telos, Saint Germain, and alien landings. There is a vortex to a higher dimension of consciousness, and the thru-hikers blend into the crowd. It’s unfortunate as many locals seem apathetic to PCT’ers and our need for rides.
Day: 73
Three town tour.
Day Seventy-three: 14 July 2015
Start: HM 1498.7
End: HM 1508.7 campsite by dry creek
GPS Point: 41.18893, -122.37853
Day Total: 10.0 miles
Water at mile 1504.7 East Fork of Sulphur Creek, mile 1507.7 Burstarse Creek
Great day. Had so much to do. Busy at hotel. Endless went to do our laundry. Then we went to Dunsmuir via bus. Everything closes in Dunsmuir on Mondays and Tuesdays. But we still went to a drive thru coffee place, the brewery for lunch and beer, then finished up at the Burger Barn for fries and a big milkshake. At Burger Barn we met Victor and Dillon, a nice couple who drove us back to the trailhead. Victor apparently stops by the trailhead everyday on his way to work to pick up PCT stragglers.
Endless and I hit the trail around 4:30 PM, hiked ten miles, and setup camp early. It was really nice to be relaxing at camp well before 8 PM. We want to do a big day tomorrow, so I wanted to be in bed early too. I am longing to return to the days where I actually woke at 6 AM and was ready to go.
Day: 74
Scheming for a fifty.
Day Seventy-four: 15 July 2015
Start: HM 1508.7
End: HM 1547.1 Sisson Callahan trail junction on saddle
GPS Point: 41.323332, -122.618120
Day Total: 38.4 miles
Water at mile 1526.5 White Ridge Spring, mile 1534.2 spring between Deadfall Lakes, mile 1540.6 Middle Fork High Camp Creek, mile 1547.2 seasonal spring
I was on trail at 7 AM. The beginning of the day was an arduous 12 miles of uphill. There was almost no downhill that whole section. It was an exhausting start to the day for me. I wasn’t moving very fast. I ran into Ram just before the end of the climb. He too seemed at a loss for the uphill. He made an encouraging remark about the elevation profile leveling out after about 29 or 30 miles. Hahaha!
Spills and I then played leap frog for a little while. At the 18 mile mark I hit the pipes spring and found Wild Bill, Haymaker, Garbelly, and Cheetah. The five of them were headed to a lake a couple miles ahead. Aloha was apparently taking a nero at the same lake. I hiked ahead and saw Red Feather, then Lone Wolf and Phoenix. At Deadfall Lakes I met Beetlejuice and Lebowski, who are hiking with Lone Wolf and Phoenix.
Recently with all the rain and bigger days, I have stopped taking photos at everything beautiful and all trail signs. Today there were numerous road crossings and trailheads, and I decided it was a good day to start that regime again. It was nice. I feel like the pictures break up the hike ad make things more memorable.
I stopped at Deadfall Lakes for a late lunch and found Endless there. He had already done lunch and stopped at the lakes for a swim. He was again ahead of me. I felt like I couldn’t move today. It was only a 6200′ up and 3000′ down, but I was struggling with my speed.
I do think it was a nice day. Started feeling soreness in my feet and legs as evening set in, but we were still at camp by 7:45 PM.
While hiking today I realized that we would have almost exactly 50 miles left into Etna. Endless and I have both ran 50 mile races and had already talked about doing a 51 mile day somewhere to up our day total. Had we not stopped the night before Castle Crags, that would have been exactly 51 miles. I was itching to not miss another possibility. I talked to Endless and we stopped at the saddle so tomorrow is over 50 miles.
Camped at a saddle on side of trail. Not really a camp site, but we managed our two tents. A little buggy lately, tonight too. Windy also. Somewhat chilly! Rodent tried to get into Endless’s pack. Had chipmunks hanging around my pack at the lake. Varmints are worse than bears!
Read more of Sea Wolf. We realized we are a third of the way through and only have three weeks until Endless goes home for his brother’s wedding. Need to get to work!
Today I thought about how the PCT, and life, has a way of bringing people together, separating them apart, and causing a convolution of their paths. I have always felt that life brings people into my life at just the right time when I need to learn a lesson from them. It may be a glimpse of a fleeting moment or a hard earned battle scar, but always the people that come into and out of my life help me discover a new potential, an idea, or an inspiration.
Sleepy now. Big day tomorrow. Night.
Day: 75
A 50.2 mile day!
Day Seventy-five: 16 July 2015
Start: HM 1547.1
End: HM 1597.3 rocky ground in front of trail bulletin board
GPS Point: 41.395741, -122.995590
Day Total: 50.2 miles
Water at mile 1563.6 creek below Mosquito Lake, mile 1568.8 piped spring, mile 1576.5 Scott River, mile 1586.8 small creek, mile 1591.5 stream near Paynes Lake
This is the profile of our day:
1547.1-1597.3: 50.2 miles of 8300′ up and 9100′ down.
1568.8-1597.3: 28.5 miles of 5200′ up and 6300′ down.
1586.8-1597.3: 10.5 miles of 1900′ up and 2250′ down.
Not an easy day if you think about it. In fact, we didn’t really have any long stretch of nice flat terrain. The footing was rough and rocky. The ups and downs were steep. Today more than any other day I feel truly accomplished.
I was on trail at 6:30 AM, and we reached the trailhead just after midnight at 12:15 AM. Less than 18 hours, including an hour long lunch, hour long supper, and breaks in between for water, resting, and so on. This is the longest distance I’ve traveled in a day. I did a 50 mile trail race last summer, but that was out and back. Today was point A to point B. Pretty incredible. I cannot even describe how amazing it feels. Thinking back a few weeks ago for the 44 mile day. That was 17 hours and 6.2 miles shorter. I feel great!
Back to other thoughts for the day, I comprehended today that everyone ahead new will for the most part be brand new. Endless and I have passed most of the people we met previously. There are still several ahead, but more that are unknown.
First thing I met two different groups of four people doing the same section north, hiking from Castle Crags to Ashland. Then there were two sobo hikers going from Ashland south. When I ran into Endless, he was with a man who had just had an encounter with a large green rattlesnake. Next were a couple, Lindsey and Happy Baby. Then we saw Hornbuckle. He had taken off from Castle Crags the afternoon we got in. Towards evening we passed Kale Jumper and Dharma Bum. They hadn’t stayed in the last town at all. Two new people, Opossum and Steely. Topped off with Courage camped beside the trail at the final saddle. A lot of people over a lot of miles.
I am surprised by how much the town stops have become an important aspect of this trip. On the CT, I wanted nothing to do with towns except use the resources and leave. On the PCT, it has given me the opportunity to witness not just the natural beauty, but also the historical timelines, cultural influences, local flavors, and the people. The people may be the key. Never before have I experienced such unfathomable selflessness, generosity, and kindness from complete strangers. Today Endless walked into a family’s camp area and they asked if he needed anything to drink because he must be thirsty. They gave him warm juice poured into his water bottle. They were aware of the trail but not expecting hikers to barge into their space. The woman gave me a scan and exclaimed, “Look at her legs! They’re yoked!” It was just one of many fantastic interactions I have had on this journey.
Today has been beyond long and it is actually tomorrow already. We laid out our bags at the foot of the trailhead bulletin. Cowboy camped. The ground is hard and rocky, my legs and body and feet are sore and exhausted, but I feel good. Sleep will be easy tonight. And tomorrow we will lounge around in Etna. 🙂

Mile 1284.4 Belden to mile 1416.5 Burney Falls State Park

Mile 1284.4 Belden to mile 1416.5 Burney Falls State Park

Day: 65
Back on trail.
Day Sixty-five: 6 July 2015
Start: HM 1284.4
End: HM 1304.8 large campsite
GPS Point: 40.120564, -121.395950
Day Total: 20.4 miles
Water at mile Sacramento, mile 1290.6 Large Stream, 1294.3 small creek, mile 1303 Cold Springs
Woke early for the first time this whole trail break. Liza drove us back to Belden. Another trail angel who has gone above and beyond regular levels of kindness for strangers. I am still amazed and so thankful! We said our goodbyes and snapped a group photo before hitting the trail. It was 10 AM. We sent Liza toward the Caribou Crossings Cafe for a scrumptious milkshake.
For me, the rest of the day can be described as: hot, uphill, miserable, tiring, and brutal on my weakened feet and legs after all the rest. No blisters or pain, but my legs will definitely need a coping period. I cannot imagine hiking the PCT in sections if I only had a few weeks each summer. You would always be going through the worst part of the trip with weak legs, blisters, and whole body exhaustion where 20 miles is a long day.
S&M was first to camp. She killed it on the 15 miles of uphill! I was dying and she just shrugged off the last few hours of my torture. I didn’t get there until around 8:45 PM. Too late in my opinion. There was an older man already camped there. His name is Deluxe for Luxembourg, where he is from. I hope we weren’t too loud getting in late and having our nightly bedtime story.
Twenty miles and I am beat. Another day off and I might not have made it to camp. My body lost its ability to cope with the miles. I am convinced that means that zeros are bad and they make hiking harder. Getting back to neros might be the best plan.
We crossed mile 1300 today! It is incredible to think about how far we have come. I have walked 1300 miles, give or take. My feet have seen some amazing places, and I am thankful my body still carries me forward despite all the struggles, ails, and pains.
Day: 66
PCT midway point!
Day Sixty-six: 7 July 2015
Start: HM 1304.8
End: HM 1338.2 North Fork Feather River campsites
GPS Point: 40.352093, -121.351262
Day Total: 33.4 miles
Water at mile 1313.8 creek, mile 1325.5 Soldier Creek, mile 1338.2 North Fork Feather River
Another day of so many people, I am just going to list them. Smokey, the guy from last night at the water source, passed me still at camp then I passed him again. He was very intrigued by my geology background. I liked him. Then I chatted a short while with Deluxe, the Luxembourg man from last night’s camp. I met Brawny and Root Canal at the mile 1313 creek. It was a 0.3 mile downhill trek with an uphill return of the same trail. I really didn’t want to go down there but the next water was a ways off. Endless and I chatted with Brawny and she said Root Canal would have extra water if we waited. Wait we did and quickly Root Canal returned bearing gifts like a water angel. Then I saw Tom Tit and Bush Tit. The couple from the day going into Echo Lakes. At the midway point was Half Slow. He is hiking Chester to Belden on a flip. He is the hiker I heard about from the two guys I met the morning after leaving Kennedy Meadows. Half Slow is supported by Legend and an RV. He kept calling at me, “Nice dress lady!” and, “Halfway! Lady.” Very entertaining. It reminded me of the day hiking over Kearsarge Pass, Cat Lady had never seen me in my dress. When I showed up at the lunch gathering and chatted with Tami, Cat Lady asked someone who the nicely dressed lady talking to Tami is. Still cracks me up. Rain Gear was also there. I met him at North Kennedy Meadows with Johnny Walker. I arrived at the midway monument with Cookie Monster. I really love his name! Coincidentally I turned on my mobile to take photos and received a message from my roommate, Andrew, with a photo of a little girl annihilating a Cookie Monster cake and a note that the picture reminded him of me. So sweet! There was also a man named Road Walker, and two guys named Wild Pony and something else, who were all at the last water source before the highway crossing for Chester. At Highway 36, I met a couple at from Hawaii. They were really nice. I spent a fair amount of the evening rain running into them and chatting at the camp area a few miles passed the highway.
Maybe a bit more information than necessary, but today is day two of going commando in my dress. My thighs are chaffed right where my unders rub the crease area and I just cannot have fabric there right now. I will say that I feel shockingly free in this setup. Every chore that became easier by wearing a dress was even easier by not wearing unders. Had to mention it. I have met many hikers who aware by the commando lifestyle on trail.
Today was the halfway mark! Seriously unbelievable! The monument says 1325 miles to Canada and 1325 miles to Mexico. With changes in the trail over the years, the mileage is actually sitting at Halfmile 1326.3. The current trail tally is sitting at 2660.1 miles, so the official halfway should be 1330.1. Either way, I crossed the midpoint today!
Thought I could see Mt. Shasta in distance today. Turned out to be Lassen Peak. We are coming up to the Lassen National Park area very soon! Can’t wait for some volcanic activity and needing out on geology thoughts!
There was rumored trail magic at Hwy 36 where the Chester hitch is. Cookies and milk, fruit, soda. Sadly, nothing was left when I arrived. I suspect we have to cross magic early on in the day for there to still be anything left for other people.
Endless and I hiked through rain tonight. Rain is miserable, but sitting around in rain is worse. The rain had stopped by the time we reached camp. Only the ground was wet. Three or so other tents at North Forks Feather River where we setup. S&M never turned up. We will wait for her at lunch tomorrow.
Day: 67
The sky is crying.
Day Sixty-seven: 8 July 2015
Start: HM 1338.2
End: HM 1355.4 slightly less soggy patch off the Rainbow Lake trail junction
GPS Point: 40.508244, -121.360919
Day Total: 17.2 miles
Water at mile 1338.2 North Fork Feather River, mile
This morning I met a woman named Steady. She has the same Exifficio shirt as me. Which is impressive because either that shirt is still made or Steady bought hers about eight years ago. Steady was one of the tent occupants from last night. Light Feather was another tent occupant from camp last night. She is the Western States 100 runner who Endless and I met before reaching Donner Pass. She was at Drakesbad Ranch with us. Pine Stick, an older man I passed in the rain last night, also arrived to Drakesbad while we were there.
While at Drakesbad Ranch, I turned in my phone and received a message from S&M detailing that she had went off trail at Chester and will not be coming to meet us. This news really saddened me. I was upset and confused and without service to call her. S&M has become one of my favorite persons since starting this trail. I was a little devastated to receive that message.
Endless and I ate lunch at Drakesbad Guest Ranch. So much food! And a kitchen worker gave us a whole tray of leftover breakfast scones while we waited. My plate included carrot cake, chocolate chip cookie, salad, potato salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, biscuits, fried chicken, and so much more. I ate way more than my stomach could handle and struggled in the afternoon. But I think it was worth it.
Today was a rainy day again. But much worse than yesterday. The clouds and thunder started shortly after we left Drakesbad. A very light sprinkling at first, it turned into a cold, hail dropping, deluge that has not let up yet. I don’t mind hiking through rain, but it needs to stop at some point. Today I was already bummed about S&M, overstuffed from lunch, and then so cold and wet my fingers weren’t functioning. It became a miserable day in all.
Endless and I hiked for a while into the rain but we only lasted a couple hours before the allure of a warm bed stopped us on a very early and short day. We saw only one tent after leaving Drakesbad. Though I doubt if anyone made much forward progress in that sodden misery. The rain started about 3 PM and there was a very brief pause about 8:30 PM, but the rains continues.
Day: 68
Volcano walking.
Day Sixty-eight: 9 July 2015
Start: HM 1355.4
End: HM 1391.1 cow patty paradise on side of dirt road
GPS Point: 40.843306, -121.423911
Day Total: 35.7 miles
Water at mile Old Station, mile 1391 water cache
Saw Steady again this morning. She caught me in my unders trying to avoid putting on my cold and wet dress. She must have been the sole hiker tent we saw the night before.
I am so glad Endless and I stopped when we did last night. Almost immediately after our camp area, the trail went through a burn area for several miles. Camping in burn areas is not my favorite, especially during thunder and lightning rain and hail storms, where charred and fragile tree carcasses are waiting to plummet to the ground. A dangerous camp area in all. Anyways, it made me think of the crews of people who clear the trail for us. All the hard work they put in, only to be disdained by the oblivious hiker who is inconvenienced by a tree fallen across the trail. Seeing the burn areas this morning also made me think first of the scene from Fantasia 2000. Igor Stravinsky’s 1919 Firebird Suite. The evil black firebird sleeping in the volcano sweeps over the land in a raging burning front, leaving a charred and destroyed forest in it wake. Love that movie! And the original one too. I used to watch those movies repeatedly at my grandparents’ growing up as a child. Then I started thinking about the different types of fires in terms of fire speed and landscape logistics, canopy versus ground burns, and fire paths and movement. Which lead my brain back to my summer internship at UMN working on a paleoecology fire proxy project looking at different types of preserved tree char. In lake sediment. I focused so much on the paleo side of that project that I never thought much about what a stand of burned trees around a lake would look like. Especially in terms of the ash transportation into the lake. Science is a wonderful thing.
It was a beautiful calm morning. The trail was heavily covered with mulch. Clearly everything was flooded yesterday. It was quite and peaceful. The calm after the storm.
I also walked through a tree harvest area. The trees are all the same age, there are no other trees or shrubs or plants, everything was perfectly lined up, and there were access clearings every 50 feet or so. It has been awhile since I’ve walked through a harvest area. It was a stark difference to the burn area, followed by cleared blowdown area, followed by harvested area.
The trail went fast this morning. We arrived to Old Station earlier than expected. Are lunch at JJ’s Cafe in Old Station. I had a Cobb salad with wheat bread and pepper jack and cheddar grilled cheese on sourdough with fries. Delicious! They source locally, make everything fresh, and bake all the bread fresh each morning. Seriously one of the best trail meals I have had. This place needs to be promoted! While there, I met Cool Breeze and Puff Puff. Also saw Aloha! He got in as Endless and I were leaving.
Nerd out moment. Before leaving Old Station, we went over to Subway Cave, a lava shoot turned cave. Very cool! Tiny but spectacular! Collapsed ceiling entrance, scoria flooring, lavacicles, burst lava bubble. So awesome! I have minimal exposure to volcanic structures and it is definitely something I intend to investigate more once Cali becomes my new home.
We could see the rain approaching. Ominous clouds were slowing creeping over Hat Creek Rim as we were climbing up. We made it until 5:45 PM before the rain hit. Sudden and strong. But not overbearing like yesterday. Up on the rim I could see out in many directions. Blue sky and sunshine laid ahead if only I could get there. This is the type of rain I can handle, when I can see the light on the horizon. The rain stopped by 7:30 PM and Endless and I regrouped around 8 PM at the Hat Creek Rim lookout. Spectacular views! Clouds, sunset, deep red sky, vast mountainscape. Amazing.
We hiked until the rumored water cache. It was a cute little shelter. If only we had arrived before the rain had started. Regardless, we made a solid 35.7 mile day with a large multi-hour afternoon break. We camped at a flat spot on the side of the dirt Road 22 where the cache is off from. The ground was covered in cow patties and everything had a slightly too pungent odor after the fresh rain.
The only downside to the day, is that I left my socks at the cafe! Drats! And of course it was the non-holy ones that were left behind.
Day: 69
A day of reunion.
Day Sixty-nine: 10 July 2015
Start: HM 1391.1
End: HM 1416.5 Burney Falls State Park
GPS Point: 41.01684, -121.64561
Day Total: 25.4 miles
Soda at mile 1410, water at mile 1416.5 Burney Falls State Park
There was a group of three camped just passed us last night. Blues, his wife, Smellin’ Keller, and his brother-in-law, Screw Loose. I passed them just after coming off the rim.
The best part of the day was definitely the Wild Bird Cache at mile 1410. AMAZING! Saw Kay Catts and Longjump with Croomidor. Then Aloha. He brought my abandoned socks! So happy! Puff Puff saw me leave them behind thank goodness. I received a phone call from Hoots that he was in Burney the town but was heading to the park that night. There w a sobo section hiker, Jason. I met the people running the cache: Randy and Kathy and their friend Pete. Really incredible! They live just off the trail and have been slowly building this unexpected trail magic for the past four years. After four hours of loitering, I finally left to finish the last seven miles. I could have stayed there the rest of the day though.
Seven miles later, made it to Burney Falls State Park. Saw the falls lookout. Springs are the most fantastic things. The headwaters looked like a dried out riverbed. Then slowly it becomes these raging waters until they flow over the falls. Beautiful. Spectacular. Nature.
At the General Store I met Haymaker and Garbelly. Nice guys. Pulling big miles, like 40’s to reach Ashland really quickly. A nice man also came over and chatted with us. He is section hiking from here to Cassel Crags, 88 miles. He is hiking with his wife, son, and brother. Pretty neat!
Endless, Aloha, and I hung out a while at the store. Eventually Hoots shows up! And then Garbelly and Haymaker left for the trail. We walked to camp area. A guy gave us directions and soap bars! Setup camp and showered. Aloha and I got lost returning from bathhouse. Late night but not too bad. Tomorrow I want a bigger day so tonight I need rest. Castella/Dunsmuir/Shasta City are 83 miles away. I want to be there in three days. Let’s get going!

Mile 1195.4 Sierra City to mile 1284.4 Braatens in Belden

Mile 1195.4 Sierra City to mile 1284.4 Braatens in Belden

Day: 58
An uneventful day.
Day Fifty-eight: 29 June 2015
Start: HM 1205.3
End: HM 1234.4 Alder Spring trail junction
GPS Point: 39.784205, -120.923070
Day Total: 29.1 miles
Water at mile 1213.5 Little Jamison Creek, 1217.2 A-Tree Springs, 1221.3 seasonal spring, 1234.4 Alder Spring
It feels like nothing happened today. It was beautiful and nice and we hiked. The end. Overall a pretty quiet day. I hiked alone today too. Normally I hang out more to cross paths with Endless and S&M, but today I just hiked ahead. It was something I haven’t done in a long time. I forget how much I can lose myself in thought while left to my own devices. I think I’ve missed that. In fact, there has not been a single day this whole hike where I woke up when I wanted, hiked freely at my own agenda, stopped when I wanted, and camped wherever I ended up that night. Always there is a predetermined camp or multiple inputs on where camp should be, and always there are people I will run into or take breaks or lunch with. Strange.
While packing up camp and shortly after leaving camp, I saw One of Us on trail and KC and Longjump packing up their camp. I didn’t see them the rest of the day. There was also an older couple who are doing a big south section of trail. They were very intrigued by trail names. It cracked me up. Then there were two guys whose names I never asked for and never received. Then there was White Rabbit who came out of nowhere. He flipped to Burney State Falls to hike back to Truckee for the fourth. So smart! Other than this section, I think he is just a regular nobo. Maybe we will run into him when he returned to Burney State Falls.
There were lots of deer today. I saw different clusters with distinct appearance differences as if they were different types of deer. Despite having observed a deer necropsy and documenting their habits in MN, I know very little about deer varieties. The weather was pleasant today, but very hot over the prime midday hours.
I ate lunch at mile 1221.3 with Endless and S&M. S&M has been waking early in the mornings to hit the trail before I even have my first snooze session. It is nice to have lunch with all of us though.
We briefly brought up ideas for possible 4th of July plans. None of us really had anything planned or expected, but with it fast approaching, it is on the mind.
While in South Lake Tahoe, Endless had talked with a trail friend named Big Cheese. Big Cheese was off trail for a visit by his girlfriend and wanted to deal out some trail magic during that time. He contacted Endless to see where we might be. Back to the present, today is when we would have crossed paths with Big Cheese if he made it this far north. Unfortunately, by the end of the day, there was never a Big Cheese encounter. Endless was forlorn for some trail magic.
I am actually somewhat surprised by the fact that we haven’t seen any trip magic since leaving the Sierras. Endless thinks we are too far ahead and no one has anything out yet. Considering how close we are to Truckee and Tahoe, two major outdoor hubs, no one seems sympathetic to the hungry hikers.
It was a good day for 29 miles. I hiked 7 AM to 7 PM including a two hour lunch and thirty minute evening break.
Day: 59
Best river for a swim!
Day Fifty-nine: 30 June 2015
Start: HM 1234.4
End: HM 1262.9 tiny space near Big Creek
GPS Point: 39.87503, -121.11597
Day Total: 28.5 miles
Water at mile 1247.2 Middle Fork Feather River, mile 1251.3 small creek, mile 1257.2 Lookout Spring, mile 1263.1 Big Creek
Last night was some of the best sleep I have had. I woke up drooling. I caved and set up my tent. Great decision! I slept in a wonderful bug net where I could shed hot clothing layers instead of cocooning into a hot cage of sweat and bug exposure. I think using my tent will become a steady theme.
For an early, pre-lunch stop, we hung out at Middle Fork Feather River. So awesome! Seriously one of the best swimming spots of the whole trip. The water was just right. Cool when you first jumped in, cool again after sitting out a bit, but overall warm enough that you could actually hang out a while. There were also these great rock structures just at surface level to sit or lay on in multiple different ways: sit or lay completely out of water, sit half submerged, stand or dive off into deep clear water. It was incredible! With perfect timing too. The day was just getting to a stifling temperature and we haven’t had a swimming hole in a long while.
S&M stopped on the south side of the river and we never saw her. Endless and I hung out with this small group of guys we had never met before (their ring leader being Rebo, a guy who consistently posts to the class Facebook page…). There were a few others too who we didn’t talk to. A group of four day hikers hung out a minute with us too. The two guys from that group have been hiking about 100 miles of the PCT each year for the last 11 years, and were doing 15 more miles today. They are from the Bay Area and glad to be finally driving to access points closer to home.
Since the river was only a third of our day’s distance, we hiked a few miles further before taking lunch at a small creek. Today was so hot. I tried to be extra diligent at staying hydrated. We met Red Feather and Alaska, a daughter and father duo hiking the PCT. There was also a girl named Legs there before Endless and the father-daughter pair showed up. S&M showed up too!
Further along this evening, we stopped at Lookout Rock (mile 1257.4). I took some risqué scenery photos to capture the stunning view with a new take on the subject matter. It was nice having so few people around on trail while actually hiking. Not until late in the day did my group comprehend that our end point was a water source and not a campsite. Somehow there was a tiny little patch cleared on the ridge just before the creek. It was just big enough for Endless and I to setup tents and S&M, like the champ she is, cowboy camped. Apparently the whole crew behind us from today all went to Bucks Lake to stay with a trail angel. I am happy we stayed on trail.
Day: 60
Day Sixty: 1 July 2015
Start: HM 1263.9
End: HM 1284.4 Hwy 70 Braatens in Belden
GPS Point: 40.006965, -121.249470
Day Total: 21.5 miles
Water at mile 1275.2 Clear Creek, mile 1284.4 Caribou Crossroads
I am starting with people because there were a lot of them today. First there were KC and Long Jump this morning. I was surprised to see them as I left camp. Then there was an older man named CK and a couple named Kale and Feral. While on the last stretch down the switchbacks into town were a couple named Side Trip and Karina, overnighters from Bucks Lake headed to Belden for the 4th of July festivities. Then in Belden at the resort was Stryker and four or so other PCTers. And at the Caribou Crossroads cafe were Fun Jumper along with Sherpa and Cho Cho. More people are listed below.
Today I saw a bear cub! It was a light orange-brown baby bear. I came around a corner passing Clear Creek Springs, en route to the further Clear Creek, and heard a loud branch snapping. In the two paces it took to stop, I looked over and discovered the cub had climbed three feet up a tall tree stump. The rest of the tree fallen to the ground, the cover that masked the cub from my sight. We had scared each other. It was less than ten feet from me. I wish I had my camera at the ready, in my hand. However, I did not. Instead of capturing that moment eternally on digital film, I hiked on as fast as I possibly could. Baby bears mean a large, protective mother bear is likely nearby. A great sighting and a little scary all at the same time.
I bought a Gatorade and Butterfingers at Belden while hanging out in the bar waiting. There were five other PCTers hanging out, but I didn’t try to make conversation with them. Endless and I headed to the road to grab a hitch over to Caribou Crossroads. S&M came up right behind us. We hitched from Belden to Caribou with guy who had a friendly dog named Ruckus. At the cafe in the Caribou Crossroads RV Park, I ate a huge strawberry milkshake, fries, and Diablo burger. We hung out for a few hours and did laundry while working on plans for the 4th and satiating our media addictions. While considering options for Independence Day, we discovered it may not be as simple as we thought. Everything within hiking distance was completely booked out. There is a huge music festival in Quincy this weekend, as well as the fact that everyone from the big cities head to Lassen State Park and Mt. Shasta for the fourth. So basically things were booked solid for us to be making plans so close to the weekend.
After the cafe finally kicked us out, we walked the quarter mile to the Braatens’ Little Haven. After clean laundry at the RV Park, we had showers at the Braatens! Mostly we just hung out. There were many more other hikers: Legs, Rebo, Courage (young Japanese guy), Runner, Pasta, and CK, as well as Sherpa and Cho Cho. For supper I ate popcorn, Mike n Ike’s, and Captain Crunch cereal. Supper of champions!
Day: 61
Hikers to Sacramento.
Day Sixty-one: 2 July 2015
Start: HM 1284.4
End: HM 1284.4
GPS Point: 38.67077, -121.30634
Day Total: ZERO miles
Water at faucets everywhere.
So last night we basically decided that we wanted to completely leave trail for the fourth or we wanted to forget the holiday and just hike through. None of us had ever hitch hiked to a place before, at least beyond a quick ride or from a trail setting, so we opted for the adventure. Since everyone from the cities head to the trail for the fourth, we decided to head to the city. Our goal: Sacramento. S&M called her friend Liza this morning and she is graciously taking us in for the weekend. How awesome is she?! S&M is the lady of the day! And her friends are the best!
Brenda Braaten gave us a ride to the Belden rest stop and bud us fair well. She genuinely laughed a maniacal laugh as she drove away, at the thought of us actually making it into Sacramento today. I was more optimistic. Our first prospect was a guy named Johnny-O who tried to convince us to go to Quincy for the music festival. He had connections and thought he could get us an orchard to camp at and volunteer options for getting tickets. Despite the generous offer, we weren’t really interested in taking a break from trail to continue to camp and do work. Though I am sure the festival would be a blast. After maybe thirty minutes of waiting we caught a ride with Darlene and Gary (the names are guesses). Gary listened to Tupac and Darlene has had an assortment of crazy pets from Ravens to an owl to a current baby skunk. They were really awesome and very interesting people. Gary dropped us off in Chico, CA. We went to Beatniks Cafe and I ate a delicious giant salad. Finally a party of greenery on my tongue! We went back to the on ramp and were very quickly picked up by Chris and Eric. They called themselves modern day hippies from Miami. We were trying to explain how trail names work and Eric said he would take the name Robert hahaha! So they became E-Money and Robert. E-Money drives everywhere and they frequently pick up hitch hikers. I could say a lot about this hitch, but let’s just say the guys were cool, the ride was interesting, and we got very philosophical. What a treat to make it  from Belden to Sacramento in two easy hitches! Chris knows a lot about vehicles and called the specs on a Ford Raptor. The passengers were two old men. Chris got them to step on the gas and show us the go power capabilities of that monster. Chris and Eric then discussed the potential for Eric’s truck, which has more horse power. They dropped us off right in downtown Sacramento.
Once in the city, all before 2 PM I add, the rest of the day was ours. We wondered around briefly and then headed to the Naked Lounge Coffee House by the Capitol. Like all hikers, we chose to spend our time glued to the tiny smart devices that suddenly had access to both power and reception. Liza is a nurse in south Sacramento and actually picked us up on her way home. Liza and Angie actually live in Fair Oaks and we would have had to take the bus back otherwise.
A stop at the grocery to pick up snacks and more trail food happened before heading home. We arrived to find Angie preparing supper. She whipped together a fantastic spaghetti supper that we thought was amazing and she thought was a barely acceptable throw-together since not completely homemade. Angie is an amazing cook! We spent the rest of the night chatting, swimming, relaxing, and reveling in being off trail. After staying up too late, we found nooks on the the various couches and passed out.
Day: 62
A day in NorCal Sac Town.
Day Sixty-two: 3 July 2015
Start: HM 1284.4
End: HM 1284.4
GPS Point: 38.67077, -121.30634
Day Total: ZERO miles
Water at faucets everywhere.
We all slept in today. I always sleep in but so did Endless and S&M for once. It was luxurious! Liza was already gone to work, I saw her leave around 6 AM, and Angie was in the kitchen clinking around and working on food for tonight’s supper. I went and ate some fruit and yoghurt I had picked up for breakfast. Then I helped clean the outside patio with S&M while Endless read us Sea Wolf. Angie made pancakes and eggs while we were tortured with the smells of a baking fruit pie. We ate casually and spent most of the time on our smart devices. Oh the ways of the media deprived…
After lunch, Angie drive us to downtown. S&M and I bought the same pair of Lone Peak Altras. She wore hers the rest of the day and was in shoe heaven. I like the upgrades from my 1.5’s to the newest 2.5’s. I hope these last longer than my last pair! Then we stopped at a cafe to decide the rest of our activities. With the lazy morning, we had limited time. We made a PO stop on the way to Old Town Sacramento. Old Town is a rustic looking area with saloons, touristy shops, and more. It was a pretty neat area. In an antique store, I found a dark blue base with a gold etched bird. It looks exactly like a vase I have that I snagged off my mom. Apparently the thing is from 1949-1950’s Japan, with a hand-etched design. Pretty incredible find! I didn’t buy the match but am glad to know some history. We bussed back to Fair Oaks just in time for a supper party. Angie had a coworker, Sabrina, and Sabrina’s family over with Liza and the three of us. We had beef tips with grilled onions and a superb green sauce (cilantro, vinegar, olive oil, etc.), with sea salt baked potatoes, salad, homemade French bread, and mixed fruit pie and ice cream for dessert. Seriously the best meal I’ve eaten in ages. Definitely the best meal I have eaten on this whole trail. I am going to ruin my desensitized palate with all this good cooking.
Day: 63
Fourth of July!!!
Day Sixty-three: 4 July 2015
Start: HM 1284.4
End: HM 1284.4
GPS Point: 38.67077, -121.30634
Day Total: ZERO miles
Water at faucets everywhere.
Another morning of sleeping in! We finished helping set up for the festivities tonight then had pool time. There was a last minute run to the grocery, where I demanded acquiring s’more fixings. Mostly used today as a chance to finish catching up on my very backed up blog entries. As well as further stuffing my face of course.
People started arriving at 2 PM. Pretty much spent the rest of the day in the pool, relaxing, chatting with Angie’s and Liza’s friends and family, eating copious amounts of food, and completely taking our minds off the trail, except when people would ask questions. Angie had a fantastic self-serve dish called a haystack salad. Sort of like a walking taco but with pecans and coconut shreds too, and not in the Frito bag.
Towards dark, a group went and played kick ball. Then we set off fireworks in the front street. Liza’s family providing the pyrotechnic display. We stayed up way later than any of us wanted to be awake and now needing to get to sleep. Liza’s and Angie’s people were awesome, the food was delicious, and the day was exactly how I wanted this trip to have gone. I am so appreciative of the generosity and kindness of Liza and Angie! They have been superb hosts, and I cannot thank them enough.
Day: 64
My disappointment with Sacramentans.
Day Sixty-four: 5 July 2015
Start: HM 1284.4
End: HM 1284.4
GPS Point: 38.67077, -121.30634
Day Total: ZERO miles
Water at business establishments.
So today we were supposed to get back to Belden, and possibly get some miles in. Angie drove us to downtown where I-5/Hwy 99/Hwy 70 went north. We waited by the on ramp where the Amtrak is. After a bit over an hour, I found us a bus that would take us to an exit further north. We grabbed a coffee before the bus arrived and headed to what we thought would be a better position north of the downtown area. There wasn’t much going on at our new location, but it was as far north as we could have gotten via public transport without paying $30 a person. At that location we had our thumbs out for about 45 minutes before a nice guy named BL picked us up. He was jamming out to Kendrick Lamar and took us up to a more residential shopping area where there would be more traffic heading north. He actually took us to where I originally thought might be a good location. Away from downtown, right by gas stations and stores and a grocery, the highway has shoulders for pulling off, there are pedestrian paths the whole way across. It should have been perfect. But instead, after three hours of standing in the hot sun, we were no closer to our destination. What we did accomplish was three undeserved middle fingers by young males, lots of lane changing away from our standing positions, endless gazes overtly directed away as if we did not exist, and other forms of negative response. Maybe a couple times across our whole day did we have people who genuinely looked like they may help but we’re not in the right circumstance, like a full vehicle or heading the opposite direction. One of those guys actually stopped and gave us cold Capris Suns but he was headed back to the city. Endless voiced my feelings well when he said that we meet all these amazing wonderful people on the trail, no matter their background or reasons for crossing our path. But then you go into a city, a faceless and unimpressive place, nothing particularly great about it, and you meet a lot of hostility, pettiness, selfishness, and greed. Why is that? I want to strongly believe that people are inherently kind, honest, and giving individuals. But I am repeatedly shown otherwise. Not just in my travels from this trip, but drawing on my whole life of experiences. In fact, I have now experienced the guiles of humankind on trail too. While at the Braatens, the morning we hitched to Sacramento, I was packing my bag to find my tarp and bug net missing. Since I had just literally put my belongings away the night before, I knew that was not a good sign. Assuming an error had been made on my part, I went to look for where I had set these items untended. I found them in the pack of a hiker, where I pointed them out and received a response that the pack and items were all his. More forcefully and clearly I stated that my tarp and bug net were half poking out of his pack, upon which he said he found those items and I could of course take them back. At the time I just let the instance pass because I was talking on the phone with my brother, but truly it was a bullshit interaction. He was clearly trying to thieve my possessions as if I had thrown them out or into the hiker box. There are dirtbags everywhere.
Anyways, we finally gave up at some point and Liza came to collect us. We were barely 30 minutes from Liza’s and Angie’s. A bust of a day, but really what does it matter now? Liza is generously offering to drive us back to Belden tomorrow on her day off. No use going through the should have’s and could have’s. We will be back on trail tomorrow and won’t have to hitch at all. Liza and Angie have gone above and beyond on their generosity and kindness to us, the guests who have overstayed the acceptable house guest standards. More reason to express my appreciation.
We went to supper at a Mexican restaurant and then I pretty much headed to bed. Today has been a long day.

Mike 1092.3 Echo Lakes/South Lake Tahoe to mile 1195.4 Sierra City

Mike 1092.3 Echo Lakes/South Lake Tahoe to mile 1195.4 Sierra City

Day: 52

Avoiding the distractions of big towns and other hikers.
Day Fifty-two: 23 June 2015
Start: HM 1092.3
End: HM 1101.8 Susie Lake
GPS Point: 38.88244, -120.12552
Day Total: 9.5 miles
Water at mile South Lake Tahoe, mile 1101.6 Susie Lake outlets
Endless and I decided the next few days can be pretty flexible on our path to Auburn to pick up S&M. Which was perfect for me getting to sleep in this morning! I have slowly become more and more tired over this last stretch with the longer miles, constant town stops, and mosquito infestation. Plus, after the 44 mile day, my feet needed a true rest.
We went to an eatery called Ernie’s Cafe for a big breakfast. It is cleverly located across the street from a place called Bert’s Cafe. Endless was astounded by my appetite. I ate a normal breakfast of French toast, eggs, and bacon, followed by an order of biscuits and gravy. I even drank this special roast coffee that was probably the best coffee I have ever tasted. Granted my taste palate has pretty low standards these days. I think it was a reasonable amount considering by 10 AM on a normal hiking day I have already consumed 2000 some odd calories. After eating, we stopped by the outfitters again and I grabbed my pack. There were load of hikers around. Most had just gotten in off trail. Or around the fire closure detour. There were about ten packs lined up outside the door. I saw Nips again and Bear Snack and a few others we had passed. I had things to do and went to sit at Peet’s Coffee for a lot of organizing and planning ahead. I was updating documents, filling in my patchy journal, making phone calls, eating grocery store Chinese self-serve bar, and further relaxing.
After way too long at the cafe, we hitched back to Echo Lakes Chalet from a man named Chris and his two boys. Their minivan was filled with gardening mulch and plants. A summer project in the works. So generous to drive us the whole way! And a pleasant ride. The little boys were so smart and well behaved.
Back at the Chalet, I drank a soda and ate a sticky bun. We hit the trail around 5 PM. Echo Lake was beautiful. The walk around was amazing. And the tiny little cabins were sites of envy for me. Those two or so miles took way longer than normal with the slow stroll to take it all in. Lake Aloha was also really awesome. Tons of tiny rock islands. The sun was setting between two mountains. We passed a few more lakes on our short distance to camp and stopped at Susie Lake outlet. There have to be at least twenty people camped here. Most have hammocks. Very strange. We almost didn’t find a spot.
We hiked very near Heavenly Valley Ski Area while in Echo Lakes. As well as Sierra At Tahoe Ski Area. I have skiing on the brain again.
Day: 53
Tahoe is a beautiful place.
Day Fifty-three: 24 June 2015
Start: HM 1101.8
End: HM 1135.9 Five Lakes Creek
GPS Point: 39.17228, -120.25779
Day Total: 34.1 miles
Water at mile 1101.6 Susie Lake, mile 1118.6 Richardson Lake, mile 1135.9 Five Lakes Creek
Today I passed Nips and actually took time to chat with him. He is from Fort Collins in Colorado. What a coincidence. He told me about the hikers that have been in the same bubble as him. They are all new names. There were also Tequila Jack and Crinkle, out on a short Sobo section. Tequila Jack is promoting the PCT class movie. He put together the 2011 video ( He said passing they were passing 30-40 PCTers a day the last several days. Unbelievable to think so many are hiking just off from us that we never cross paths. As a promise to promote the 2015 class video, all 2015 PCTers should email their real name and trail name to They will send a reminder at some point to email your top 100 photos from the hike this year. I also met Hand Walker and Snipe, two guys that Endless met when he first started.
I had a great 6:20 AM start today. I was so proud of myself. My mornings have been slow lately. But I overturned all early morning progress by taking a two hour lunch by a lake this afternoon. C’est la vie!
When hiking long hours with only yourself as company, you have a lot of time to mull things over. I played this reel in my head hundreds of miles ago, but today it came back to mind. I am a list person. And while meeting all these people on the PCT, I began to think of myself in list form as a “this is who I am.” There is the poor decisions list, the achievements list, the ambitions list, the quick facts list, and others. I have wondered if I am only able to play one movie at a time, but I realize now that each list combined makes up the whole. Each, like the different pixel color layers in a photograph, are all required to see the whole image. To the point, I have decided to throw out my agenda. I will continue to update it, but I want more flexible day to day decision making options. What if I want to nero or zero at a lake? Or I decide to hike 50 miles today and 3 tomorrow? An ever changing flux of options is my agenda now.
Skiing back in mind, we are in the Alpine Meadows Ski Area, and passed near Homewood Ski Resort. My last spring days on the slope were the end of April, but it seems so long ago now.
We were hiking on a rim today and saw the most beautiful sunset. With a view, the setting sun is irresistible. Tonight’s was coupled with wispy clouds to capture the fading colors and a deep blue sky for contrast. Mesmerizing. I also had a moment where I was hiking atop the ridge and stopped to take a panorama. As I put my camera away, I suddenly saw a coyote. It must have been as surprised by me as I was by it. I snapped some photos as it hurriedly scampered off the ridge and away from me. It reminds me that I saw this strange bird this morning. It had a fantail like a turkey but looked completely different. Relatively small but a round, plumb body, with white tipped tail feathers, and a red patch near its head. I cannot remember if the fave was red, or it had a gobbler, or what. I wish I had gotten a photograph.
Again tonight there are heaps of people at the camp site. It is crazy full. I cannot believe how many we are seeing. This is incredible.
Feet sore and tired. Falling asleep.
Day: 54
Going to Auburn.
Day Fifty-four: 25 June 2015
Start: HM 1135.9
End: HM 1157.3 I-80 Rest Stop
GPS Point: 39.345150, -120.338359
Day Total: 21.4 miles
Water at mile 1135.9 creek, mile 1144.9 stream, mile 1157.3 I-80 Rest Stop
I might be on the start of a ski resort freak out. It is becoming an incessant topic in my brain. Today we neared Donner Ski Ranch, Sugar Bowl, Boreal Ski Area, and Auburn Ski Club Trails. While heading to Auburn, we drove by Soda Springs Ski Area and Royal Gorge Ski Area. I cannot stop thinking about these places. I have premature powder fever. California did not even have powder last season. Ugh…
The theme of Tahoe is becoming the amount of people. The were lts of people today. Day and week hikers galore. A group of three men told me I was 16th PCTer he met today. We saw about seven hikers at the rest stop and four others on trail. But never enough to suggest such numbers. I imagine there are a few hundred of us all within a narrow range of each other, all moving at approximately the same distances per day. Forever offset by a handful of miles. It is strange.
Endless and I made it to the Donner Pass I-80 rest stop about 4 PM. After a slight confusion on location, S&M swooped in to pick us up and we happily chatted away for the hour drive to Auburn, CA. Our visit just begun.
Just the few hours we had tonight were so wonderful! S&M and Whiskey Nips live together in the house of Whiskey Nips’ father, Bill. His girlfriend, Debi, and Bill had grilled chicken in bbq sauce ready to serve when we arrived. S&M then made Pad Thai! So much delicious food! We quickly crowed down. I want to eat forever. Their friend, Chuck, also came over. His added company balanced out an evening of great conversation and banter.
Bill is an incredibly spirited and interesting man. Possibly along the vague description of conspiracy theorist, libertarian. We talked about his two solar heated bathtub “pools” in the backyard. The pond and water rights in his area. Trail life. Ultra running and the Western States 100. And so much more. I truly thought the six of us made an engaging bunch.
After things wound down, the three of us relaxed on the couch and reveled in the simple pleasures of being in a house. Despite my stay at Betsy’s in Wrightwood, this is really my first time in a house. How I missed the luxury! Walking around inside without socks, a hot shower and accessible toilet, seats and couches for sitting on, cold water at my command. It is drastic change even to the hotels and other town stops. No loitering guilt, public exposure, closing times, or competition for resources with other hikers. It is simple, homey, and relaxing.
We were up way too late. Curled up on the couches in our PJ’s, Endless having S&M thread a hair braid. The extra round of supper and ice cream. Like a true girls’ night sleepover. Haha!
Day: 55
Best town stop!!!
Day Fifty-five: 26 June 2015
Start: HM 1157 Donner Pass I-80
End: HM 1159 near Boy Scout group
GPS Point: 39.35501, -120.35477
Day Total: 2 miles
Water at mile Auburn and Donner Pass I-80 TH
After the calm of relaxing in a super comfortable home, we realized we had spent the whole morning lounging with zero progress towards our chores. Bill and Debi fixed us a delicious breaky of veggie eggs, sausages, cantaloupe, and rolls. I slept in super late and rolled out just in time to eat. While splayed out on the couches in super vegetable mode, I think the three of us had simultaneous but independent thoughts of how nice it would be to rest the whole day. A quick glance around at the obvious lack of motivation to run back to trail informed our decision to zero today after all. Or nero rather, as we would have to at least get to trail tonight. Our decision made, we did laundry and then headed to town.
Our first stop was at the Auburn Club Car. I had a burger, despite wanting a giant salad (poor choice on my part), so I could had their sweet potato fries. So amazing! Some of the best sweet potato fries I have ever eaten. The perfect combination of hot gooey sweet potato interior to a slightly crispy exterior. And the chipotle ranch dip was the perfect condiment. I will dream of those fries. I also drank about seven or eight glasses of Arnold Palmer. What a lunch!
After stuffing our faces a second time for the day, we wondered around and visited the sporting store. Cool connection here. This is the weekend of the Western States 100. It begins in Truckee and ends in Auburn. The owner has a friend who has ran several times in that race and said she is on the PCT right now. The cool part is that Endless and I literally just met her yesterday on our way to Dinner Pass. Small world. Even smaller on the growing PCT front. The owner also had a pair of Altra Lone Peaks that a guy on the PCT had just replaced. That pair made it 1000 miles. Also a coincidence that this is the fourth Auburn person on the PCT (S&M, Whiskey Nips, a girl we met going into Echo Lakes, and now this anonymous guy). I love my Altra Lone Peaks, but I am getting to the end of my second pair. His only survived that long because he used a shoe goo that plastics the edging back together. The mesh uppers are just not quite PCT hardy. Though I will proudly state that my pair from ultra running last summer must have had easily 800+ miles on them, before I took them on the first 100 miles of the PCT this summer. Amazing shoes all around!
Anyways, after shoe bantering, we all headed to this massage parlor. I was set on getting a full body massage. They had a $30 hour long foot and body deal. [Cue the heavenly trumpets!] I was so delighted. S&M and Endless opted for 30 minute options. I went in first and at one point while on the verge of slumber, I heard the woman giving a massage next to me snicker off and on. Then I heard what sounded like a high pitched stifled whinnying noise as “Hoo hoo hoo.” I looked over, and to my surprise, it was Endless. He was barely containing his fits of laughter as the foot massage sent him into a tickle fit. As a promise, you can also follow his blog ( I am mentioned there a few times as well. 🙂
On the way back to Kate’s house, we stopped for ice cream, Goodwill, and the grocery. Endless modeled a new shirt for us. Goodwill liked the photos on my Instagram. And Grocery Outlet provided WAY more food than necessary for the day and half into Sierra City. Not sure what I was thinking. This is my first Grocery Outlet encounter and man would I eat like a queen if they had those for produce, spices, and baked goods…
Bill and Debi were waiting on us when we returned. They continued their incredible span of generosity to drive us back to Donner Pass. I am glad they made plans to continue into Truckee for supper so the drive wasn’t a complete waste for them. 1100 miles into this trip and still the people I encounter are filled with unbelievable amounts of kindness on us hiker trash.
Once back at the PCT trail, we realized Endless and I would be repeating a mile if trail across the I-80 section. No matter, our plan tonight was simply to find a campsite. After getting away from the noise of interstate traffic and daylight disappearing quickly from the sky, we settled on a flat spot among dead tree limbs and pine cones. Realizing we were all really full still from our gluttonous side trip, we pretty much headed straight to sleep.
Unfortunately the mosquitoes are out tonight. My short reprieve over, the pesky daemons back with a fervor, I angrily am trying to fall asleep.
Day: 56
Nice day back on trail.
Day Fifty-six: 27 June 2015
Start: HM 1159
End: HM 1184.7 campsites near reservoir
GPS Point: 39.51274, -120.54003
Day Total: 25.7 miles
Water at mile 1167 White Rock Creek, mile 1179.3 Mule Ears Creek, mile 1184.2 Bald Ridge Creek
Today I met Ram and  Cool Whip, two separate PCT hikers. As well as Shannon and and her husband. I stopped and chatted with Shannon. She is doing a three week trip while her two sons and husband each came out for a week with her. Incredible! I wish more people had wanted to join me on this trip. But I understand the prisoning nature of work life. Fortunately I have been able to hike with some awesome, likeminded individuals who I met on trail.
Despite the day of rest yesterday, I did not leave camp until 8:30 AM. Turns out we camped directly by a group of Boy Scouts last night. They were struggling with the immediate hill we started up this morning. We immediately hiked over a missable pass and an established wood hut. There were heaps of people camped nearby! Despite wanting more than two miles yesterday evening, I am glad we didn’t try to camp further up trail where we would have been among hordes of non-PCTers. At mile 1160.8 was the Peter Grubb Hut shelter and outhouse. It had a cool design with the hut door above ground and a ladder entry for winter conditions. The outhouse was similarly designed. I didn’t actually go inside, but Endless said it was pretty neat.
Today the Western States 100 began in Truckee and the winners will get into Auburn tomorrow morning. I don’t think any of us was actually invested, but we momentarily considered staying longer in Auburn to check out the race.
Since we covered two miles last night, we made it to camp early tonight. Super nice. A short 26 mile day. We probably should have aimed for more miles, but it was fine.
I felt better today than I have in a long while. Why has it taken so long to get a massage? I still have numbness in a few toes, but that has been the case since Tehachapi. More massages are definitely in my future. It was a good reminder how much I need to be more diligent in my pre-bedtime and wake up leg massaging and stretching routines.
Day: 57
Life is good.
Day Fifty-seven: 28 June 2015
Start: HM 1184.7
End: HM 1205.3 near dirt road
GPS Point: 39.62346, -120.66725
Day Total: 20.6 miles
Water at mile 1185.6 Bear Valley Springs, mile 1195.2 Sierra City, mile 1202.7 Sierra Buttes Spring
This morning we had a short 10.7 miles into Sierra City. None of us had battery power on any of our devices. Apparently nothing charged correctly at Kate’s and Bill’s. We all needed some juice time. The store is the hiker hangout, so we dropped off packs, plugged in electronics, and headed to second breakfast. We ate at Red Moose Inn Cafe. I ate the Triple Threat: 3 eggs, 3 slices of bacon, 3 sausages, hash browns, 2 slices of French toast, and orange juice. So good!!! I love breakfast. Also had a Butterfingers milkshake, lime soda, and lime Powerade at the grocery. This afternoon was boiling hot and I needed electrolyte replenishing.
There were tons of people at the store. Town stops truly reveal how many hikers are traveling in the same block. Though I was surprised how many made plans to stay overnight. I saw Ram, Kay Cats and Longjump, Cool Whip, Lone Wolf (who ended up hitching with us), and One of Us.
We acquired two lucky hitches today for going in and out of town. First were the two guys from last night. There were hiking a section and this was their endpoint. One had a vehicle parked at Hwy 49. Then, heading back, there was a guy with a baby boy who was on his way back to a fishing hole after the baby finished his nap. Love quick and easy hitches!
Life is good. I am really loving not rushing. Decisions on a whim for whether to pull big miles, or not. No overwhelming deadline. Feels good and much more relaxing. I still have the itch for forward movement. I want to hike thirty miles a day or more. I love the daily challenge. But I also feel that desire and motivation more strongly now that I am no longer measuring against my daily allotted quota. Life shouldn’t be a chore and I feel great about removing my end date goals.

Mile 906.7 Mammoth Lakes, CA to mile 1092.3 Echo Lake, CA

Mile 906.7 Mammoth Lakes, CA to mile 1092.3 Echo Lake, CA

Day: 45
An unintended nero.
Day Forty-five: 16 June 2015
Start: HM 906.7
End: HM 909 + 7.8 JMT Shadow Lake
GPS Point: 37.692111, -119.134978
Day Total: 10.1 miles
Water at mile Mammoth Lakes, mile 909 + 7.8 JMT Shadow Lake
We unintentionally took a nero today. We should have been able to hit the trail by early afternoon but the three bus exchanges, an overcrowded lunch diner, and a bit of trail wandering, our start was delayed until after 4 PM. And more like 5 PM once we finished checking out Devil’s Postpile, an awesome geological point of interest for basalt columns.
This morning was great! After the late night doing chores and laundry, we all slept in. Then we headed to the Looney Bean (yes, the same shop we hung out at in Bishop) for our computer and Internet desires and breakfast needs. After hanging out, we did a few last minute stops at the gear shop, RiteAid, and Post Office, before heading back to the Motel 6 to pack up and check out.
I learned that Silver noted me in his blog. Score! You can check out his adventures at: I am noted under day 36.
Before really setting off, we took a stop at Devil’s Postpile. It is the site of basalt columns that formed perfect hexagonal pillars from the way the basalt fractured. Pretty neat stuff! After that we really hit the trail. Hiked ten miles and are camped by Shadow Lake. We decided to do the JMT Alternate in place of the PCT. The PCT climbs and stays high with views, the JMT follows the adjacent lakes with more up and down climbs.
Camped at Shadow Lake. Super tired.
Silver likely ahead.
Day: 46
Adaptability on the trail.
Day Forty-six: 17 June 2015
Start: HM 909 + 7.8 JMT
End: HM 942.5 Tuolumne Campground
GPS Point: 37.874258, -119.356879
Day Total: 26 miles
Water at mile 926 stream, mile 931.7 stream, mile 942.5 Tuolumne Meadows General Store
The JMT alternate we took replaced 13.9 PCT miles with 14.2 JMT miles. The JMT follows the lakes and rivers and has more ups and downs than the PCT. The PCT, I am told, stays up on a ridge and never really gives good views of the lakes. I am glad we took the JMT.
I met a nice man named Turtle this morning. Also saw Tank (Warrior Hike – Eric Sorensen) at lunch. He was stopped at the lake just passed Donahue Pass. I didn’t realize this before, but his son, Yardsale, who just got off after a bear got into his tent in Yosemite Valley while he occupied the space, had been hiking with him. I thought Tank had only been with the Warrior Hike group. I also met Horn Buckle at the same lunch spot. Tonight we are camped with Par Three, Redwood, and Critter. With Par Three’s sister, Hannah.
Garnet Lake and Thousand Island Lake were beautiful! I can’t believe we wouldn’t even have seen them had we been on the PCT. There was compromise though. The mosquitoes were absolutely dreadful last night. We had a fire for smoke and they attacked the moment we put it out. I am becoming an itchy mess.
After crossing over Donahue Pass, I kept seeing heaps of people. We are running into the next batch of hikers in front of us. Though I am sure there are plenty more further along in front still. Today was also a surprisingly warm day. I have been thinking about the upcoming weather in NorCal and I am not looking forward to hot days again.
Random side note, there have been an extraordinary amount of yellow belly marmots today. I also learned the marmots in this area are the yellow belly ones, versus the other varieties.
This is all out of order, but today was a bit of a fail. The store and grill in Tuolumne Meadows closed at 5 PM. I was the first of our group to arrive, and that was right at 5 PM. Somehow we were all able to get our packages despite the PO closing at 4 PM. The staff were stocking the store and organizing boxes so were still around. I can’t believe we missed everything. Across three boxes for various amounts of days, we have S&M set up to go straight to Echo Lake and home. Endless, Boone, and I can make it to Sonora Pass to resupply at North Kennedy Meadows Resort. We maybe should have accepted a late start tomorrow so Boone could resupply fully and we all go through to Echo Lakes, but no matter now.
Tonight we finished Call of the Wild. We will start a new book tomorrow. While hanging out in front of the store/PO/grill, we met Three Par. He let us crash his camp site with his other two PCT friends and sister. His sister is visiting and driving them around. They’ve had 40 zeros so far. Impressive. I can’t imagine that many days off, especially considering this is only day 46 for me. That would be almost equal on trail as off.
Day: 47
Aggressive mosquitoes!
Day Forty-seven: 18 June 2015
Start: HM 942.5
End: HM 968.4 Smedberg Lake
GPS Point: 38.012152, -119.485834
Day Total: 25.9 miles
Water at mile 942.5 Tuolumne Meadows General Store, 956.5 Return Creek, 963 Wilson Creek, 968.4 Smedberg Lake
This morning I met Shutterbug, the brother of Daydreamer, who I met in Tehachapi. Shutterbug is joining Daydreamer from Tuolumne to Tahoe. Also met Beer Goddess and Hawaii. There were two section hikers, Custer and April Showers, from two towns over from Endless in Massachusetts. Pretty cool coincidence.
Today I had an 8:15 AM start. I saw Boone leaving when I woke up. Everyone else already gone. I truly didn’t mean to leave so late. I knew we wanted thirty miles today. I have gotten worse at waking up in the morning lately. I caught up to everyone and we ate lunch around mile 956 at Return Creek. It was a short reprieve from the mosquitoes, which were on a mission today. I seriously felt overwhelmed by their ceaseless attempts to bite every available surface area of my body.
S&M’s foot was hurting today. Endless took a 4 mile round trip detour after lunch. And Boone and I waited at the pass to see how delayed we might be. Despite being at the day’s highest elevation and in direct wind contact, the mosquitoes were just as tireless on the pass.
We are camped by Smedberg Lake. Mosquitoes are EVERYWHERE! Ahhhhh!!! They are everywhere! Seriously. I wanted to swim but the bugs were so bad I just washed my legs. I am going crazy. After sitting directly in the smoke of a small fire we built, covering myself in bug spray, and putting on every clothing item available, I was still being swarmed.
Tonight we started reading a new book, My First Summer in the Sierras by John Muir.
Day: 48
Mosquito hell!
Day Forty-eight: 18 June 2015
Start: HM 968.4
End: HM 1002.8 campsite after creek
GPS Point: 38.227706, -119.580908
Day Total: 34.4 miles
Water at mile 968.4 Smedberg Lake, mile 979 Rancheria Creek, mile 987 pond near Bond Pass, mile 993 Falls Creek, 1001 creek near ponds, mile 1002.4 creek
Today was my biggest mileage day yet! I was upset that I didn’t hit the trail until 7:30 AM. Endless and I hiked until just before 9 PM. We wanted to hit a certain point, and we did it. Though next time I will definitely want to start earlier in the morning. Night hiking really isn’t my thing. Though by night hiking I mean we arrived by 9 PM. Haha.
I met Sundown and Nips today. There was also an old man in a blue shirt who was not on the PCT. He made a comment about my bear canister lashed onto my pack. He seemed nice. Just before stopping for lunch, while making a last hard push up a big climb, I met Cayman. She is from Germany but now lives in the Cayman Islands.
The mosquitoes are OBNOXIOUS! I want to kill all mosquitoes. What purpose do they serve? I was covered in bug spray but they bit anyways. I went through an entire bottle of bug spray in the last three days. I am covered in bites and super itchy. This is very miserable. I put my tent up because they are still active despite being dark and cold. I am going crazy.
Today reminded me of Colorado. All the ups and downs. It was beautiful. Despite the miserable state of the mosquito infestation, the trail here is fantastic! I also saw so many PCTers I’ve never met before. I am beginning to question if we are running into people in front of us or just meeting new people in general. So many new faces.
Boone and S&M never showed up to camp tonight. Boone had mentioned stopping at Dorothy Lake, 5 miles back. S&M I haven’t seen since I passed her around 10:30 AM this morning. I know they will make North Kennedy Meadows tomorrow, but I hope they are close.
At lunch, after the climb over the pass, I found Endless and we went swimming. The lake was so nice and warm. It was beautiful out!
Day: 49
Kennedy Meadows again…
Day Forty-nine: 19 June 2015
Start: HM 1002.8
End: HM 1026.2 near stream
GPS Point: 38.411616, -119.666353
Day Total: 23.4 miles
Water at mile 1016.3 Sardine Creek, mile 1026 stream
I saw S&M this morning! She camped maybe 2/10 mile before us at the trail junction after the wooden bridge. She is such a badass! She never saw Boone, so I can only assume he camped at 998 like he said. Endless had hit the trail already and I was trying to do all my packing without getting out of the bug net, when S&M suddenly walked up off the trail. She amazes me in her perseverance.
I felt really good today. I had very little food and knew I needed to pound out as many miles as fast as possible while my food energy lasted. All told, I covered just under 16 miles in five hours. Pretty good considering the amount of photos I stopped for.
Sonora Pass was absolutely stunning. Phenomenal views! One of my favorite passes next to Kearsarge Pass. AND! much to my delight, there were no mosquitoes on the pass!!! I didn’t even realize how beaten they were making me feel until I felt the reprieve of their absence.
Endless and I made it to Sonora Pass and caught ride with Ken, a nice man from Livermore, CA, to North Kennedy Meadows Resort. He went extensively into fusion power on the ride in. Interesting fellow. The road down from Sonora Pass was truly stunning. Also would have been a dreadful walk. So glad we got a ride! We went straight to lunch at the resort. Chili cheese burger with fries! So delicious! My appetite is becoming bottomless at town stops.
Met Johnny Walker and Rain Gear at the resort. They were cool. Rain Gear was going through his resupply box and tossed out a lot of delicious food. Johnny Walker completely resupplied off the leftovers and then handed food out to us. There was also this really wonderful old man sitting in a chair near us. He must have been about 85. The epitome of a sweet old man. He was watching our group as we dumped our packs out and went through food to repack, talk gear and resupply strategy, and tell trail stories. Sometimes he would ask questions about gear or how we cooked. He was taking it all in. Then a woman came over at some point to talk to him. She seemed genuinely worried he might try to take off for the trail with us. And he told her that he had left that morning to go take a nap but ended up in that chair, where he had been all day, for several naps and our loitering. So cute. I wanted to talk to him but he was gone by the time I actually had things wrapped up to where I could sit and engage. Missed opportunity.
I mailed home my canister from North KM. They only charged $15. I can’t believe that I would possibly have gotten a box, made it to a post office, and mailed it for much cheaper, not including the convenience of them doing everything for me. North KM was pretty awesome. I was expecting the setup to be similar to Tuolumne, but it was so much better. Though my three day resupply consisted almost solely of sugar: Oreos, chocolate donuts, fruit snacks, jerky strips, cheese sticks, Snickers bars, Pop Tarts, etc. They had a limited supply but fairly reasonable prices. I ate a giant waffle cone of soft serve ice cream twist, chocolate covered pretzels, and a cold Gatorade. Yummmm.
S&M, Endless, and I were full and happy. We decided to head back to the trail. While leaving, we finally saw Boone. His leg apparently cramped up hard the day before. He hadn’t even made it to mile 989 last night. He said he would camp close to the trailhead that night and then catch up to us.
We caught an RV hitch for the ride back to the trail. They were a young couple with two girls: Paige Sonora and Elliot. Paige’s birthday is two days after mine! They were really awesome and the girls were super sweet. What a lucky hitch. They took us all the way to the trailhead.
We made it on trail around 5:45 PM. We walked eight miles and camped near a stream. The trail wasn’t the best. The snow was melting and covering everything in mud, and we post holed on soft snow. Tomorrow will be a big day.
The meadow was super beautiful! I can’t write anymore. I need rest now. Exhausted.
Day: 50
Father’s Day and summer solstice.
Day Fifty: 21 June 2015
Start: HM 1026.2
End: HM 1070.2 campsite
GPS Point: 38.649263, -119.957482
Day Total: 44 miles
Water at mile …today was so long and I was so tired at the end that I failed to write down water sources.
Today was the most beautiful day. Seriously. There was great weather, lots of people, and stunning scenery. The geology of this area is incredible. I cannot describe why, but I thought a lot about Colorado and my time on the Colorado Trail. I spent 17 hours on trail today. That includes all my breaks, lunch, supper, toilet stops, etc., but still a sizable day. We arrived as a group to our stopping point just before midnight. I have never felt so exhausted. As fast as possible we laid out our stuff and went to bed. I think I ate a last round of desserts first and we chatted quickly about our plans the next day. Mostly I went straight to sleep.
Met a cool old man named Colonel something with his dog, Bob Dylan. He is a Nobo who flopped the Sierra section and was on his way south now. He said he was on day 102 or something. Having a dog would be so awesome, but definitely much slower. When they first came up on me, Bob ran straight at me as fast as he could. I think he smelled the bear that Endless saw at the same creek crossing and thought I might be it. He stopped just as he got to me and looked instantly shamed. Colonel scolded him and Bob spent our entire ten minute conversation nuzzling my hand. So adorable! And despite running at me, very well behaved. I never worry about dogs that I meet on the trail. It is rare that an owner is not attached and dogs deserve to run free. I was glad for the interaction. It reminded me of meeting my friend Chris and his dog Sapper on the CT. You can tell a lot about a person by the relationship with their dog.
There was a fire closure today. Last night we could see the smoke as we came down off the north side of Sonora Pass. We slowly hiked towards the billowing smoke clouds all day. At our lunch point, mile 24, we were at the Ebbetts Pass area where it crosses Hwy 4. When I hit the road crossing, there was a hand written note saying the trail ahead had a mandatory closure due to the fire. It gave information for getting a ride around the closure. We talked to a small group of people who were leaving from an overnight trip in that direction. They lead us to believe the fire was still a ways off and we could easily make it through. Since no officials were around and the only precaution was a handwritten note, we decided to hike through it. And I am glad we did for the sheer beauty of that portion of the trail. We did hike right towards the fire for a long time. It felt like we were heading straight at it. Eventually we turned to the north away from the burning forest, but there was a moment when I could see the smoke curling over the ridge just above me and I wondered if we had made a mistake hiking through. Instead, we were rewarded with a horridly beautiful scene later that night. Around 11 PM, after the Lost Lakes spur road, where the topo map suggests some structures called The Nipples, we could see down the valley back to the fire. The bright orange of the fire front creating a line of burning trees. It was like looking down at Mordor from afar. Forest fires are no joking matter, but there is something captivating by it all the same. Mesmerizing. It was beautiful and sad. The fire became a really big deal (link to a story here: By the next morning, the fire had gotten over the valley and hikers were turning back from smokiness. I heard of one girl with a photo where the flames reflected on her sunglasses. Crazy!
While going through this last section I met a guy named Bear Snack. He gave me a Starburst. Yum!
So today we hiked 44 miles! Holy shit. We are bad asses! Today was incredible. I seriously have begun to understand challenging myself. Also very glad we hiked from supper to camp as a group. Spirits are definitely lowered when hiking alone, in the dark, for so many miles, when your body wants to lie down and recuperate.
There was crazy wind today. It was trying to blow us off the mountain. So it turned out to be a good thing that we missed the Spring Solstice and never hiked naked. But I sort of wish we had at least one hour of naked hiking time.
This morning I saw my first Sobo hiker. Endless talked to him; I only saw him breeze past on the trail. We are approaching the front of the herd and catching the opposite traveling folk. It is awesome to meet all these new people.
My feet are numb. It’s past midnight and cold. We’re are all snuggled up cowboy camping. Foot rub and bed.
Day: 51
Close call on the fire closure.
Day Fifty-one: 22 June 2015
Start: HM 1070.2
End: HM 1092.3 Echo Lakes/South Lake Tahoe, CA
GPS Point: 38.834584, -120.043836
Day Total: 22.1 miles
Water at mile 1072.4 creek, mile South Lake Tahoe
We had 22 miles into Echo Lakes. We knew that the PO closed at 3 PM. We were on a mission. But after the long day yesterday, none of us had much go power. A short eight miles after hitting the trail, we passed into the Carson Pass trailhead. There were many day hikers and cyclists for a five day race there. The best part was the presence of rangers, who had trail magic for us! Cold soda and cookies!! There was a short supply of fruit too. What a surprise! We haven’t had trail magic in ages!
We stopped at mile 1084.7 for lunch. S&M somehow woke super early to get on trail this morning before I even woke up. She is incredible! I could barely wake up this morning. The three is us ate and continued our plight. I called the PO to confirm that they were willing to let us have our packages later as long as the store was still open.
I met Tom Tit and Bush Tit at the Carson Pass TH. There was a guy named Perogi, or something close, first thing this morning. I met Houdini at the Motel 6, he had been with Boone since before North Kennedy Meadows. There were also two ladies on day hike near Shadows Lake before you reach the Echo Lake area. They were super impressed by my hiking the PCT. One of them said she would write about me in her blog, but I haven’t been able to find it online. She has a blog about women getting out into the outdoors. Then there were two Tahoe Rim Trail hikers that we crossed paths with several times today.
We made it into the Echo Lakes Chalet right at 4 PM. They let us pick up our boxes late. We got two lucky hitches and made it into South Lake Tahoe. The first ride from Echo Lakes to a road was in the back of truck. Then an ex-New Zealander and his dog, Snoop, gave us a ride from that road to Echo Lakes. Pretty cool guy. The generosity of people is still incredible!
S&M decided she would leave from SLT for her home in Auburn. Her best friend Kat just happened to be off trail at the same time and came to pick her up. S&M started the PCT with Kat, or Whiskey Nips, but, to my fortune, they split after Wrightwood to hike at different paces. Whiskey Nips is several hundred miles behind us. S&M and Whiskey Nips have a blog together: Whiskey Nips has an unmatched skill in her blog posts. I definitely recommend their blog.
I ended up at Motel 6 with Endless.
We learned that the fire closure is now official. Boone turned up in SLT after an extensive day of multi-ride hitches and a bus ride. Lots of hikers are being forwarded to SLT from the closure. We truly lucked out in getting through that section before conditions were bad.

Mile 788.9 Bishop, CA to mile 906.7 Mammoth Lakes, CA

Mile 788.9 Bishop, CA to mile 906.7 Mammoth Lakes, CA

Day: 40
More miles equals more beauty in the same day.
Day Forty: 11 June 2015
Start: HM 789.1 + 7.6 Kearsarge Pass from Onion Valley
End: HM 799.8 Woods Creek
GPS Point: 36.873630, -118.438005
Day Total: 18.3 miles
Water at mile 795.8 Dollar Lake
We were up too late last night hanging out. I woke up still tired. Tami came at 7:30 AM to give Endless, Prickly, S&M, and I a ride to the trailhead at Onion Valley. Tami’s parents were in town to give her a few days off. So wonderful of them to bring cookies and provide us transportation! Tami took a guy named Frosty to Independence from the trailhead. We saw the man, Richard, who gave us a ride two days ago. He was heading out on his lake adventure.
Heading up Kearsarge Pass, back to the PCT, and over Glenn Pass, was pretty easy. There was some snow on the north side of Glenn Pass, but going down was just fine on the hiker alternates that have been in use around the snow areas. I am feeling pretty good about the snow conditions if Glenn was supposed to be the worst of them. At the top of Kearsarge, we met a couple from Portland, Maine, named Sarge and Stump. They are pretty cool and ended up at the same camp as us tonight. We met some other PCT’ers but mostly there were tons of southbound hikers on day hikes or short trips. There was a couple on the Rae Lakes loop. It’s about 40 miles long. The Rae Lakes were absolutely stunning! I would definitely hike them again.
There was a ranger station right by the Rae Lakes. Prickly and I saw the cabin and wandered over to it. We met a ranger named Sam. Endless popped in shortly after. Sam let us see the inside of the cabin. It was pretty awesome and perfectly set up. Makes me think of tiny homes. While walking away I realized how much PCT hikers are like curios marmots. We see a cabin and wander over hoping to get food or something. Even if no one was around it would still be worth the side trip. Funny how quickly we become mooches once we have to carry around all our food supply and options.
We made it down to just shy of mile 800 at the suspension bridge and decided we were going to call it a day and camp there. Most of that decision came from Prickly and I needing a bear box and this being the only camp with one. Plus I was exhausted. All day I wasn’t feeling any energy. I am sure part of that is being fully packed with food and toting around the bear canister. The two late nights also contributed.
Our camp locale is very filled with hikers. There are at least 20 people around and some group had a big fire going. Some guys said they saw a bear earlier. Our food is safely canistered and bear boxed. Endless gave us story time again. My error from last night, he’s reading Call of the Wild, not Into the Wild. Too tired to think anymore. We are cowboy camped and S&M has her tarp setup in case it rains again. Boone and Nomad turned up at camp. Night.
Day: 41
A day of water.
Day Forty-one: 12 June 2015
Start: HM 799.8
End: HM 828.5 Grouse Meadow
GPS Point: 37.063508, -118.589125
Day Total: 28.7 miles
Water at mile 799.8 Woods Creek, mile 813.7 stream off South Kings River, mile 823.6 Glacier Creek, mile 828.5 Grouse Meadow
Last night we ended up as a sleepover in S&M’s tarp. S&M, Endless, and I were cowboy camped but had S&M’s tarp set up close by. It started raining around midnight. We huddled under quickly and were snugly safe from the rain. It was pretty nice actually. And the tarp was super warm with all of us under there. Hilarious and awesome. The only unfortunate part was that I couldn’t sleep in since they both wake up so early.
Yesterday I meant to write about my shoes feeling like I was walking on cupcakes with velvet frosting. New socks and new shoes, my feet hardly know what to do with themselves. Today my feet were repeatedly wetted during the thirty or so fords and multiple sections of drowned trail. I didn’t think about it, but it meant my feet had a slow soak all day. At camp, I was able to give some TLC to my soggy feet since normally they are too rough and dry to do anything for the callouses.
Today I saw lots of people again. Right off the bat, after crossing mile 800! I saw Tank heading my way. He had a late start from his team and didn’t think he could make it to Tuolumne in time for the next gathering. I also met Silver. He hiked with Boone and I this afternoon and is camped with us tonight. There was also a girl named Bugs. She complimented me that I am the cutest hiker she’s seen; that I am so clean. I thought it was very sweet of her. And tonight, she found S&M for us! So glad! S&M almost camped a half mile back thinking we had gone on to our original goal a few miles further.
Writing all out of order, we had another double pass day. First was a 7.7 mile uphill to Pinchot Pass. That was an easy pass. Then we had a short down to a valley before immediately climbing back up towards Mather Pass. Boone, Silver, Endless, and I ate lunch just before the pass. We never saw Prickly or S&M but continued on. I caught up with Boone just on the other side of Mather and we flew downhill. Coming into the valley was incredible! The trail hugged the cliff walls and continuously switch backed down along the water. I would like to have seen this area during a normal snow year, because I bet there would be so much water flowing everywhere! Like an intricate weaving of streams across every available surface. All the water fighting for its place in the main channel. We passed Subway and Sugar Rush, too. I am not sure how they could possibly have gotten in front of me.
Today was a day about water. I have never seen so much water not immediately attached to an ocean delta. It was beautiful. I wanted to jump in and take the fast route to the bottom. An extreme water ride! I don’t even know how to describe the way the water had a life of its own. A thriving, continuos gathering of all the water coming together, separating, and colliding again. A sparkling movement of life. Even now, we are camped at the edge of this stunning meadow. We have seen at least a dozen deer, leaping around or sauntering by. In playful bouts and races. Curiously investigating the stinky group of hiker trash. You can hear the water rushing through the main stream on the far side of the valley, but there is also the beginnings of an oxbow lake forming near our side. Water gently rushing through, calm enough for a swim. Clear enough to see the fish curiously checking us out as we filled bottles. And the mountainous backdrop. Almost too beautiful to believe.
Day: 42
A beautiful day.
Day Forty-two: 13 June 2015
Start: HM 828.5
End: HM 855.9 campsite near Piute River
GPS Point: 37.224837, -118.832346
Day Total: 27.4 miles
Water at mile 828.5 Grouse Meadow, mile 835.5 Middle Fork Kings River, mile 842.1 Sapphire Lake, mile 855.9 campsite near Piute Creek
Today was beautiful. The sky was clear and bright this morning. Prickly, S&M, and I watched a group of six deer prance around the valley. They had no fear of us, and came within 15 feet in their play. Literally deer everywhere. We had about ten miles uphill to Muir Pass. Clear skies and warm the whole way. There was a fair amount of trail hunting, waterway dodging, and snow stepping to the top. Not to mention the false summit at Helen Lake. But I knew I was finally there when I saw the stone cabin. It was really cool. Inside I met Seven and Wrong Way, a couple hiking the JMT northbound. We shared the moment, chatted a bit, and all enjoyed a snack. I knew today we were planning on big miles again so I said my goodbyes and continued on. As always, I was last out of camp this morning. I had caught up to Prickly and S&M shortly before the pass, but hadn’t caught site of Endless or Boone yet.
The lakes at the top of Muir Pass might be my favorites so far. The water was the clearest crystal in the shade of azure, as always. Today the lakes were also so calm the surrounding mountain spires reflected perfect images where not covered with a thin creaking plate of ice. It was eerily calm and so beautiful. I had the strongest urge to just jump in. The best part is that these lakes feed the hundreds of waterfalls, streams, and ground seeps that we walked up the east side of the valley as well as the ones we hiked down the north side of the valley. Incredible!
As I hiked away, down the next valley, I was searching for a good lunch stop. I filled up some water and suddenly saw Boone and Endless sitting a little ways further down by Sapphire Lake. I headed their way and saw Aloha sitting by an inlet. He apparently went into Bishop too over Bishop Pass because the Muir Valley Ranch isn’t open yet for him to stay at. I finally got to see him in his straw hat with lei around the brim. Hence why Hoots and Hot Sauce named him Aloha.
After lunch I was feeling oddly exhausted. But Boone and Endless stopped occasionally for me to catch up. This lead to my favorite moment of the day, when I scared the wits out of Endless. I have been trying to sneak up on him on several occasions, and today I finally had my perfect window of opportunity. There were several rain showers this afternoon, and I was constantly adjusting my poncho pack cover or readjusting straps to take a photo. Endless passed me right as I was putting my pack back on. I quickly caught up to him and could tell he didn’t know I was there. His headphones were in, he was singing aloud to whatever song he was jamming out to, and I matched his pace for a few minutes. I waited for the perfect moment to tap him on the shoulder with the end of my trekking pole. In an instant he went from hiking away in a good groove to jumping back and slipping onto the trail. I hadn’t intended for him to lose his footing, but I definitely won the moment at giving him a good shock of adrenaline. 🙂 Hehe.
Today was our first real river ford. Evolution Creek. Boone and Endless were waiting on the other side as I took off my shoes and socks and walked across the 20 or so feet. The middle got deep enough to my upper thighs and you could feel a solid current. In high water years, I can imagine that crossing being a formidable obstacle.
The three of us made it to our planned camp spot and called it a night. Prickly and S&M never showed up. I am guessing the afternoon rains and hail may have held them up somewhere. We were planing another big day tomorrow, I hope they can catch up. Supper was eaten in rain gear as we anticipated more rain while lightning and thunder rolled in the background. I set up my tarp as a backup shelter and the three of us are cowboy camped under a clear sky of stars. This valley has us at a completely different angle than last night. The Big Dipper easily perched above us versus not being in sight last night. The sun was also out for a good hour longer. Wonderful raveling through the different valley perspectives.
Day: 43
Challenges we give ourselves.
Day Forty-three: 14 June 2015
Start: HM 855.9
End: HM 887.2 campsite below Squaw Lake
GPS Point: 37.479865, -118.932688
Day Total: 31.3 miles
Water at mile 855.9 Piute Creek, mile 865 outlet off Heart Lake, mile 871 Bear Creek, mile 880 North Fork Mono Creek, mile 881 outlet off North Fork Mono Creek, 883 Silver Pass Creek, mile 887.2 Squaw Lake outlet
Today was a good day. It was also my biggest day for miles. And I am thoroughly worked over. We covered two passes, a big uphill, a river fording, and 31 miles of the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains. Selden Pass. Ford at Bear Creek. A big up and down. Then forded North Fork Mono Creek. Finished up with an evening trek over Silver Pass.
The scenery today was the most varied since entering the Sierras. Steep valley cliffs, raging rivers, quiet meadows, Aspen groves, sandy hillsides with lizards, deep blue lakes, meandering river basins, lush tree meadows, and many more. As quick as I came into the Sierras, their end is coming just as fast. More beautiful, awe inspiring, and phenomenal than anything I could have imagined.
There are many people in the world, but I want to take a moment to think about the ones who enjoy challenging themselves. Not the day to day struggles like turning down the second helping of cake or taking the stairs over the elevator. I mean the people who hike 30 miles back to back, despite being exhausted, because they can. Or the 50+ year olds out-hiking people half their age. Or anyone who sets intense goals for themselves for no other purpose than to see if they can do it, and not necessarily because they are observed or evaluated. Despite all my hiking examples, there are people out there who are so stubborn, it doesn’t matter the activity, they push themselves harder, longer, and to bigger extremes than the regular masochist. These people inspire me, and I hope to be included in their ranks.
First thing today I ran into three Australians hiking together. They were very nice. They saw me coming up on them and they stepped out of my way, saying that they try to let the young, fast hikers go ahead. They cracked me up with a joke about hooking items to the packs of faster hikers to save weight a few miles. Said if the hikers move too fast they just throw rocks. Hahaha! They were a great morning interaction.
I caught up with Boone just after the Bear Creek ford. He was taking a break and said Endless has passed through shortly. We took off, caught up to Endless, and picked out a fantastic lunch spot. Actually Aloha found the swimming hole, but we were smart enough to join him. Endless was delighted at the chance for an afternoon dip. Aloha, Endless, and I all swam. Boone opted out, working on his impeccable tan lines. It was a pretty nice lunch break.
After lunch we still had 16 miles to go. I felt great the whole day until we started the last climb to Silver Pass. I was beaten by our past several days of hard miles topped with today’s mileage. We are camped just below the pass under Squaw Lake. The site was so mosquito ridden that I shamelessly hid inside my bug netting while Endless and Boone built a fire. Once they had smoke going I came out of my shelter to join the group. I am covered in bug bites. Mosquito smorgasbord. Tomorrow we only have 20 miles into Reds Meadow and Mammoth Lakes. I am excited for an easy day.
Wish I could write more but I am mentally and physically exhausted. Ready for sleep and rest.
Day: 44
Tired and excited!
Day Forty-four: 15 June 2015
Start: HM 887.2
End: HM 906.7 Reds Meadow to Mammoth Lakes
GPS Point: 37.614855, -119.074890
Day Total: 19.5 miles
Water at mile 887.2 Squaw Lake outlet, mile 895.9 stream off Duck Lake, mile 901 Deer Creek
I slept in later than the other days. Knowing we only had twenty miles felt like we were taking a nero. Boone took off right away this morning as a man on a mission to make the Post Office before it closed. Endless and I took our time more leisurely. The first ten miles seemed easy, but by lunch I could tell my energy was low from the toils of the last several days. We lunched at a river on mile 901. No lake for Endless to swim in. I somehow missed the 900 sign so made my own. After refueling, the last six miles were a breeze.
The last thing you walk through before reaching Red’s Meadow is a fire area. It was a deeply moving experience. Before lunch we were hiking through dry terrain, reminiscent of the desert. Then the trail suddenly throws you into a somewhat lush area with ancient giants. The blow down area begins immediately after switchbacks down from the giants. It should lead you into more ancient trees, but instead you see a huge span of tall, charred stumps. The tree tops missing. A strange void of land with ominous ghosts of old giants.
After reaching Red’s Meadow, Endless and I caught a bus that was supposed to take us to the main Mammoth lodge below the ski resort where we would catch an additional bus to town. Instead we had a kick ass driver who took us all the way to Mammoth Lakes. He was on his last run and heading to Mammoth Lakes regardless to drop off the bus. He told great stories about the area and let us off right by Zpizza, where we wanted to eat.
I felt extremely hungry when we reached Zpizza. Endless and I ate a Thai pizza and Greek salad. So delicious! Boone had a room for us at Motel 6 already. After a shower he joined us. Post pizza and salad face stuffing, we all went to the Mammoth Mountaineering. En route we ran into a guy named Brett. He gave rides to Boone and Endless at some point earlier on in the trail near Wrightwood. He has become a trail angel for rides at various places along the trail. He ended up offering to pick up S&M from Red’s Meadow. So glad she made it in tonight! Prickly headed to VVR for a package so I suspect she will be back with Queen Bee, Malibu, and BK now.
We saw Silver and all headed to the grocery. Mostly we were all ready for pints of ice cream, but we were productive and bought our food through Tuolumne too. Tomorrow we plan a relatively easy hiking day and will chill out during the morning to finish the rest of our town chores. On our way back to Motel 6, we saw Burgundy again. He was the night hiker from yesterday evening. Seems odd to night hike through the Sierras, but to each their own.
We just finished up laundry and it is way too late. Goodnight.

Mile 702.2 Kennedy Meadows to mile 788.9 Independence/Bishop, CA

Mile 702.2 Kennedy Meadows to mile 788.9 Independence/Bishop, CA


Day: 34
A day of many.

Day Thirty-four: 5 June 2015
Start: HM 702.2
End: HM 728.4 flat sandy area beside trail
GPS Point: 36.30017, -118.13107
Day Total: 26.2
Water at mile 702.2 Kennedy Meadows general store, mile 716.5 South Fork Kern River at bridge

I slept so well last night. I didn’t wake once. No thirsting for water, overheating, wind whipping my tarp. I woke sharply at 5:30 AM and was ready for action. I leisurely ate breakfast, packed up, dressed, and was ready to go at 7 AM. However, I still needed to go over my maps so was sitting at the table until around 9 AM. I decided to buy the pancake breakfast, which was delicious but a terrible deal. Hot Sauce, Hoots, Ryan, and Chris all slept in. I was packed and headed to the tables before they were even out of sleeping bags. Chris’s packages never arrived, so he had quite a bit to deal with this morning once the store opened. Ryan and he were hoping they could still get on trail early enough to make 20 miles. I don’t know Hot Sauce’s agenda. And Hoots left not long after me but I never saw him again after passing him as he stopped for lunch. Tons of people left early this morning. At least twenty. And I am told the day before had even more people at the general store and most of them left yesterday. That’s a lot of people on the trail right now. I was hoping to catch Tami, but she left around 6:30 AM and I have no idea how far she made it. I ended up running into a guy from Denver, named Nomad, who was also hoping to catch his friends. We are camped together at a flat sandy area. Not an established camp so hopefully no bear issues. We suspect our friends, and all the other people we think to be in front, must be camped near the water source a few miles ahead. It was already 7:30 PM when we decided to stop. I wouldn’t have wanted to hike until nine o’clock just to catch up. That seems crazy. I am super glad I ran into Nomad though. It’s nicer to camp with people.

Anyways, there must have been at least twenty people who left before me this morning. I saw a big group come out of the teepee (including S&M), Tami and Concrete left about the same time, Rockstar, Veggie and Square, and several others I recognized. Between Nomad, who left just after Tami, and I, there are several people who should have been behind him but I never saw them. Weird. I think a big group of people are together a few miles ahead. Everything I read about the Sierras says mileage goes down, but I thought the terrain was extremely easy and the altitude not bad. I am hoping I can continue that sentiment and make up time in the Sierras.

As I headed to the trail this morning, I passed four hikers just getting in. Also saw several locals/day hikers around the Kennedy Meadows campground and chatted a bit. I started out really slow and took lots of breaks. Also snapped more photos today than I normally do for a whole town to town section. Saw Hoots briefly, passed Veggie and Square, passed about five people at the bridge, then one more immediately after the bridge, met and passed Tank who is hiking with Warrior Hike (an injured veterans program –, then passed another guy later on, and finally passed a man and woman just before Nomad and I called camp. Crazy think think so many people are scattered along the trail despite all starting about the same time.

Other interesting events from today are that I heard/witnessed a tree falling over. It was a bit off from me, but in sight’s range. Sounded like an explosion almost. It must have been higher up the hill because the fall sounded like several other trees and boulders were in the way of its trajectory. I also was sprinkled on twice, sleeted on once, and snowed on for a short time. Crazy mountain weather. I pitched my tent tonight because I don’t trust the weather. I also am sleeping with my food and wanted whatever shred of shelter was possible between a bear and myself. Walked through a meadow called, Bear Trap Meadow. It was a beautiful little meadow but very steep and there would genuinely be nowhere to go if a bear came down from above. The names of things are so ominous. Nomad’s and my friends are likely in Death Valley.

It is cold and I am sleepy. Today was long.


Day: 35
Cold and altitude.

Day Thirty-five: 6 June 2015
Start: HM 728.4
End: HM 750.8 Chicken Spring Lake
GPS Point: 36.454157, -118.225141
Day Total: 22.4 miles
Water at mile 730.8 spring past Death Canyon Creek, mile 741.7 Diaz Creek, mile 750.8 Chicken Spring Lake

There were lots of people on the trail today. At breaky met Cincy and Yes Dawg. Lunch encountered Geisha and Rebel Biscuit, Jazz and Rolling, the Blazing Onions (Ostrich, Mozi, Smash, and the newest addition of Blue), Snackies, and several others. At camp met Foxtrot, Cobain, Highwater and Fancy Feet, Dollywood and a guy, and then realized Concrete, Tami, S&M, and Yoda were at the camp area already (due to the snow, they were all hiding in their tents). We all have similar agendas for Mt. Whitney, so they didn’t push ahead to mile 760 like I thought. It is nice to be back with people I know. At least 16 tents here, and I likely am not counting some late arrivals.

I also really appreciate my early arrival. It started snowing and was terribly cold just as I was hiking up towards Cottonwood Pass. I thought I might have to push on if the lake was really exposed. The lake is beautiful and very protected from the winds and clouds scattering cold snow. I was able to set up my tent, change into warm clothes, and eat a leisurely supper all while the sun was still out. I filled water and washed my feet in the lake. The water slightly warmer than it is cold out. I chatted with Tami, S&M, and Prickly Pear a bit and then retired to my warm sleeping bag all before dark. It’s actually really nice. Usually I am up late doing bed chores and journaling.

I slept in later this morning. I crawled out of my bag just after 7 AM to find Nomad already packed up and gone. I left camp around 8 AM. I was basically out of water and stopped at the first source three miles away. While cheating with Cincy and Yes Dawg, I discovered Tami and the rest had camped there last night. I was very close. They thought that group was headed almost to Mt. Whitney today so they could summit tomorrow. I figured that meant they were headed for mile 760, but that’s not the case after all. I basically had decided I would only hike just over 20 miles as originally planned, hence the sleeping in, so I took a long lunch.

Lunch was at the 742 Diaz Creek. Originally I had wanted to wash my socks and soak my feet. There were pools of water, but the stream was so low that I felt bad mucking the water while people were trying to fill bottles. Nonetheless I hung out a solid two plus hours. Lots of people came through. It was nice spending time with new people. Some of the people I had passed earlier were ahead of me again. Seemed like most of us were headed for the same camp area near the lake.

Now at the end of the day, I find myself really full. The altitude and cold must be stifling my hunger some. I have barely tried to eat my day’s rations. It is crazy. I can feely dehydration too. When I drink more water I just pee it back out. Eyes barely open. Night.


Day: 36
Feels good to miss the rain!

Day Thirty-six: 6 June 2015
Start: HM 750.8
End: HM 766.3 + 1.1 Whitney Spur Trail at Crabtree Ranger Station
GPS Point: 36.563886, -118.349365
Day Total: 16.6 miles
Water at mile 766.3 + 1.1 Crabtree Ranger Station

Today was a short day to the base of Mt. Whitney. Good thing too! I arrived around 2 PM and the hail snow turned frozen rain downpour started around 4 PM. I already had my tent up, new bug inner netting and bathtub tied and adjusted, PJs on, toilet scoped out, ranger station and snow station investigated, supper eaten, water bottles filled, and ready to stow away for the night. I looked over upcoming map sections, organized food for tomorrow, made a list of items to take up Mt. Whitney, set my alarm for midnight, and waited for a lull so I could take my food bag to the bear box and get a last pee in. I wanted to be tucked in by 4 PM but waiting out a lull took awhile. It sure is nice being dry and warm. It would have sucked showing up late to camp, having walked through the rain. I am glad I trekked larger miles the last two days. The plan is to wake up at midnight and be on trail by 1 AM for a sunrise ascent. I am in a group with Tami, Prickly Pear, S&M, and Concrete. We were all glad to have camp setup before weather began. It seems like afternoon rains are becoming the norm. I will have to start being more diligent in the mornings so weather doesn’t prevent my mileage goals through the Sierras.

This morning I woke up at 5:30 AM and rubbed out my legs and feet. My tent had ice covering the entire inside. I tried to quickly get around, and was almost ready by 7 AM. But I decided to let things completely dry out instead and got a 7:45 AM start. I quickly found Cobain, Fancy Feet, and Highwater a few miles down trail. Highwater took off right after me and we ended up hiking together off and on until the river at mile 762. That river and the meadow it is in are stunning! The most beautiful part of the day, easily. I found Tami and Prickly Pear taking a break in a sunny grassy area and I joined them. I decided to revel in the warm of the sun by the river, despite my intentions of no long rests today. I soaked my feet numb and washed some things. Pretty wonderful! And my hunger is back finally! It must been my body adjusting to the altitude. I am trying to put more liquids in me too.

I saw a group of deer today, coming into Lower Crabtree Meadow. That is right where the Whitney Spur Trail splits off from the PCT. They were hanging out, lounging in the sun. Back at camp, there were lots of people hanging around. Some resting after the summit, others deciding if they would stay for a summit tomorrow. We were planning to go the 1.1 miles up the Whitney Spur Trail to the Crabtree Ranger Station. I am glad we did. It cuts a mile out for tomorrow, but also puts us right at the junction for the John Muir Trail heading back to the PCT at mile 767 and the Whitney Trail heading to the summit. It is basically a 4,000 ft climb over eight miles. We are planning a sunrise ascent, then return to camp for a nap, and hopefully get in another nine or so miles to set us up for Forester and Kearsarge Passes the following day.

I should write more but I am supposed to wake up in six hours and hikers have begun filing in. Some more noisily than others. I am going to try and sleep now.


Day: 37
Mt. Whitney (14,505 feet)!

Day Thirty-seven: 8 June 2015
Start: HM 766.3 + 1.1 Whitney Spur Trail
End: HM 774.7 Tyndall Creek
GPS Point: 36.642935, -118.387701
Day Total: 23.9 miles
Water at mile 766.3 + 1.1 Whitney Creek at Crabtree Ranger Station, mile 766.3 + 3.5 Whitney Creek at Guitar Lake

Last night Hoots found me in my tent. Hot Sauce, Ryan, and he had hiked in and were headed to Guitar Lake to camp. That put them about three miles closer to the summit. They hadn’t seen Chris and were hoping he would turn up at camp. I feel like I didn’t sleep much, but I was all energy this morning. Ready to summit a mountain. Mt. Whitney is 14,505 feet of elevation (some discrepancy says 14,508′). The highest mountain in the contiguous 48.

I woke up a bit after 12 AM and departed at 1 AM with Prickly Pear, Tami, S&M, and Concrete. It was awesome hiking in the dark. Everything looked completely different. We were hidden from the moon until coming up on Timberline Lake. It was stunning. You could see the moon shining across the entire surface. We stopped at the creek just before Guitar Lake to fill water, eat a snack, and regroup before the real climbing began. While there we saw Hoots, Ryan, and Hot Sauce start the trail. We followed suit and quickly it was Concrete, Ryan, and me leading the way. I made the top around 4:15 AM. Just over three hours for 4000 feet of climbing over 7.5 miles. It was freezing at the top, but surprisingly calm. There was frost on everything. I had zero feeling in my hands and toes. Not sure I’ve ever shivered so hard in my life! We were all bundled together like sardines waiting for the sunrise. Which didn’t occur until closer to 5:30 AM. But it was mesmerizing up there. To go from total darkness to standing on top of Mt. Whitney with possibly the best view I’ve ever seen. I can’t even describe it. The Sierras really might be the jewel of the PCT.

Once we saw the sun, we all huddled into the tiniest room of the shelter on the summit. There were eleven of us in total since Fancy Feet, Cobain, and Highwater joined us. Then two day hikers came in as well. It wasn’t exactly warm, but it did protect against the wind that picked up as the sun began to rise. I stayed up there until 6:30 AM, then booked it down. Though not so fast that I couldn’t take about one hundred photos of the peak, sunrise, our group, and the surrounding valleys and mountains as the sun began to spread its warm embrace. Since I hiked up in the dark, it was like a whole new trail going down. The lakes were almost more beautiful in the silvery moonlight. Saw heaps of people on their way up. Glad we did a sunrise hike. I was exhausted but it was worth every second. Back at base camp, I had zero energy. After shoving food in my face, I stripped off my clothes, put on my sleep socks, and napped in the full heat of the sun. Aww!

I slept hard. Concrete took off before I woke up. He is headed straight to VVR, four or so days ahead. The ladies and I relaxed and casually packed up camp. Our plan was to camp just before Forester Pass, a mere nine miles away, to set us up for the hike out of Kearsarge Pass into Onion Valley to head into Independence, CA. It was a pretty relaxed trek over. We are right by Tyndall Creek, about five miles below Forester Pass. This evening was warm and sunny. No afternoon storm like the past few days. We were joined by Boone and Endless (friends of S&M and Prickly Pear), Cat Lady, Aloha (the small backpack guy we kept running into until he delayed a few days at Big Bear to meet his wife), and for a short while Recon (he ate supper then headed out for the camp area a mile below Forester Pass).

Tonight was great. We all hung out and enjoyed good company. There was a small table and sitting area set up out of flat rocks that we chilled around. It was fun being with new people, hearing their stories, and having a change of pace. It sounds like all of us, except Aloha who is headed for Muir Trail Ranch, are headed for Kearsarge Pass into Independence. That group is planning on a hotel room in Independence then quickly getting back on trail. Tami is spending a few days with her parents. And I am still undecided. I have my packages in Independence, but would like to have time to get some chores done since they weren’t possible at Kennedy Meadows. Also, Bishop is supposed to be awesome and there is a hostel there. So I may take a nero and get out the following evening just for the hike back up Kearsarge Pass.

Today has been extremely long, I am exhausted. Goodnight.


Day: 38
A double pass day!

Day Thirty-eight: 9 June 2015
Start: HM 774.7
End: HM 788.5 + 7.6 Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley with hitch to Bishop, CA
GPS Point: 37.36332, -118.39641
Day Total: 21.4 miles
Water at mile 774.7 Tyndall Creek, mile 787 Middle Vidette Meadow at Bubbs Creek

What a day! We hit Forester Pass first thing this morning. You spend four miles heading straight at this sheer rocky face, wondering what notch you are headed for. When you finally recognize the one you are destined for, the immensity of the pass suddenly becomes clear. Except Forester was a breeze. Maybe it is the ease of post Mt. Whitney climbing, but the switchbacks were short and you are at the top quickly. It is one of the most amazing views though! You can see forever to the north and south from the pass. Incredible! It is also the tallest official PCT point on the whole trail.

Speaking of which, I heard the Sierras referred to as the nine passes by two southbound JMT’ers. This is interesting because I feel like I am slowly and painstakingly putting together the reasons why mileage goes down in the Sierras. To me, the Sierras are like the CT and that’s where I thrive. I gathered that people slow down to really enjoy this section and take side trips. I’ve also heard it’s from the difficulty of the trail conditions. But what is beginning to make sense is that normally the snow conditions are significant and people would time the pass crossings to climb over only in the AM. That would definitely cut down on daily mileage abilities.

The day wasn’t finished after Forester Pass. After trekking through an incredible valley of meandering river channels, I headed straight up Kearsarge Pass too. Two passes in one day. I feel accomplished! The lakes off of Bull Frogs Trail towards Kearsarge were beautiful! I am contemplating trying to charge through bad weather predictions for tomorrow and head over the pass to camp by ow if the lakes.

I did a poor job at remembering names today. There were just so many people! Saw Snackies heading up Forester Pass. Met Grapefruit and Buttplug just before starting the switchbacks. They challenged me to point out Forster Pass, which I knew instantly. There is a pattern to where passes are placed… At the top, Ryan flew in out of nowhere. I was glad to see him. Met the two southbound JMT’ers. Spent the climb down from Forester into the valley chatting up with Aloha. Very interning guy! At lunch caught up with Cat Lady, Tami, S&M, Endless, Recon and Howley. After that began the climb to Kearsarge. Endless pointed out the Kearsarge Pinnacles to me. At the top of Kearsarge were Motown, Vortex, two others. Then got a ride from the Onion Valley trailhead with a nice man named Richard. He gave Cat Lady, Endless, and I a ride to Independence where we picked up packages, then into Bishop where he was also staying for the night. What a lucky hitch! There were surprisingly no people around. Richard is from Pasadena, CA, and he chatted us up about many things. Cool to have some things I will take mental notes on as I prepared to be living in this region of the U.S. Also learned he teaches violin in LA. I have always really liked that instrument.

In Bishop, CA for the night at Hostel California. We ate supper at Amigos Mexican restaurant. I am in a private room with Cat Lady, Tami (Townderwear, trail name we are trying out for her), Endless, and S&M. Finished the night off with milk and cookies my mom sent in my resupply box! She sent cookies, I bought the milk. Thanks Mom! So delicious! And a local Mammoth IPA beer. I threw away my holy socks and stinky, destroyed shoes! I received new shoes in my resupply, and plan to buy new socks tomorrow. My feet will be so happy! While letting food settle, I caught up on emails and such. Met Uncle Buck, S.P., and another guy. Uncle Buck skipped past the Sierras while they were receiving late snows and has just returned from two hundred NorCal miles. Tami, Endless, S&M, and I hung out late telling stories. I’ve decided Endless tells the best stories. Massachusetts native, fireman from Lynn, thick accent. Everything he says is gold.


Day: 39
Bishop is the shit.

Day Thirty-nine: 10 June 2015
Start: HM 788.5 + 7.6 Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley
End: HM 788.5 + 7.6 Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley
GPS Point: 37.36332, -118.39641
Day Total: ZERO
Water at mile Bishop, CA

This is my second zero day on the trip. I am really happy I took it here. I will skip the Mammoth one now. Bishop is an awesome town! Despite staying up late last night we all woke super early. Our room was like a sauna! Endless, Tami, S&M, and I went to the Looney Bean for coffee. I wrote some postcards and organized my town chores. It was so nice to feel like I had a calm moment to relax.

After coffee time I dumped my pack out in the hostel living room and organized everything. I have to carry the bear canister now and it makes me very unhappy. I realized not until now that my canister only fits in my empty pack and not with all my gear. Sad. Snackies hikes with his bear canister empty on the top of his pack, so I discussed some options with him and will be doing something similar. My food situation was perfect for the number of days I will hike to Mammoth in, but I had some other chores and items I was looking for. Endless and I walked to the Post Office, then checked out a few of the outfitters. I found all the things I needed! Two pairs of new socks, Tyvek ground cloth, two plastic toggles, Aquamira, and other stuff. Today was very productive! I received new shoes in my resupply box! My feet will be in spoiled heaven! I also ate so much food. Humus, blue corn chips, milk, delicious homemade cookies from my mom (Thanks again Mom!!!), and beer. Then S&M, Endless, Snackies, and I went and ate barbecue. I picked up a savory croissant from Schatz Bakery for tomorrow’s breaky. I also have yoghurt, orange juice, and a banana. I am pretty excited!

After BBQ, I found Hoots and Hot Sauce watching Jurassic Park at the hostel. Ryan was organizing food. Chris’s whereabouts still unknown. After all that eating I really wanted a nap but we needed to head to Independence. S&M, Endless, and I walked to the Vons to catch the bus. It started raining heavily while we were at the bus stop. We then had a ridiculous ride. Details and frustrations aside, there was a particularly unsavory guy who mistakenly thought everyone wanted to be privy to his every thought and opinion. Longest 42 miles ever.

Once in Independence, we went to the Courthouse Motel where they have a bunkhouse for hikers. It’s actually a pretty neat setup. There are bunks for 14 people, one bathroom, and a simple kitchen. I continued my chores with cutting the Tyvek and rigging up the bear canister on the top of my pack. S&M’s and Endless’s friends were there too. Prickly Pear, Boone, Queen Bee, Baby Killer, and Malibu. It was fun hanging out, but we eventually thought about our return to the trail tomorrow and headed to bed. S&M and I were treated to a bedtime story from Endless. He’s reading Into The Wild right now.


Mile 566.4 Tehachapi to mile 702.2 Kennedy Meadows

Mile 566.4 Tehachapi to mile 702.2 Kennedy Meadows

Day: 28
The last desert stretch.
Day Twenty-eight: 30 May 2015
Start: HM 566.4
End: HM 585.8 on ridge saddle
GPS Point: 35.24782, -118.25135
Day Total: 19.4 miles
Water at mile Tehachapi, mile 583.3 Golden Oaks Spring
We had a slow start this morning. We packed up and headed to the bakery for breakfast and a hitch back to the trail. We were sitting with the German guy (found out his name is Scooter) when this woman walked up who Ben and I had met yesterday at the Post Office. Her name is Carol, or Lupen Fields, and her husband Chris, or Buck Snout. She had offered us a ride but we never called so thought that wouldn’t be an option. Instead, they were these genuinely nice and interested people. They had gone over to the airport looking for us and At Home must have told them we had headed for breakfast at the bakery, so they came to pick us up. What a surprise and so wonderful of them! Buck Snout has been section hiking the PCT for many years and is finally doing the last part this July. Lupen Fields is driving out a small trailer to stay in while he’s hiking and she plans to trail angel up there while they are in the area. I cannot believe how nice they are. It’s possible I will run into them if I finish the trail in early August.
Anyways, wonderful encounter, but that put us back on trail at 8:30 AM. A solid two hours later than we would normally start. That is like removing the time frame for four to six miles. It sort of threw off our whole day. We stopped around 11:30 AM for our afternoon break. We all passed out hard. We were back on trail just after 3 PM. We hit today’s water source around 6 PM. That was a slow fill up for the next 20 miles. Especially with eight of us filling from the same steady trickle. Then we hiked on another two miles or so. This last 150 miles into the Sierras is the driest section. We will only cross water about once a day, and will likely have dry camps the whole time. I am proud of our 20 miles with the way timing worked out for everything. We saw that at least twenty people came through the water spot today, so we want to stay on track for this section because we will all be vying for the same limited water supply. Also we just want to get through the back side of the herd. At least I want to. I am weary to think of hitting the main herd not until after already entering the Sierras. Camping and trail traffic will be dreadful.
Found out Slug is third guy’s name with Trout Sniffer and Boom Box. They are all from L.A. Also a couple we keep running into are Wildcat and Yellowtail. Saw some register names of people we have been getting closer to and some new names I haven’t recognized. The list only went back to mid May. Golden Oaks Spring has unfortunately become a bit of a trash heap. There are old water bottle cases that have had numerous bottles and other trash packed into them, as well as several actual bags of trash. Disgusting.
Today was beautiful. I kept wondering the whole time what was different about today. Then I realized I have seen trees today. We didn’t go through a burn area and saw what this terrain would look like uninterrupted. It was delightful and shady. Surprising what a lack of recent fire history can do for the appearance of a place, regardless how hot and dry the area is.
I am glad I slept this afternoon, but sleep is still dragging heavily at my eye lids. Last night I didn’t go to sleep early enough, so tonight I want to make sure I do.
Day: 29
Beginning the Sierras.
Day Twenty-nine: 31 May 2015
Start: HM 585.8
End: HM 608.9 Landers Meadow in Kelso Valley
GPS Point: 35.45428, -118.31433
Day Total: 23.1 miles
Water at mile 602.1 Robin Bird Spring, 608.9 Landers camp
Today was hot by 9:30 AM. Bummer that we had already decided to go all the way to the water source before stopping for siesta. We rolled in after noon and I was beat. Though I slept really well last night. It was the perfect temperature for sleeping.
At the water source I ended up setting camp by a group of guys. Three brothers: Pogo, Sticks, Shades, a speed attempt guy: Flash, Concrete, and the couple who just got married on trail: Big Spoon and Hands. Interesting to listen to others talk about their hikes so far. Saw Scooter, Trout Sniffer, Boom Box, and Slug. Second Lunch from last night’s camp spot.
Around 5 PM we took off for the next water source seven miles away. It was cool, shaded, and such a lovely jaunt. The idea was to hike past the water source, but it is in such a beautiful ponderosa and sage meadow that we stayed to camp. Landers Meadow in Kelso Valley. Stunning! There were these tiny red flowers with the sun peaking through at them. It was beautiful and awe inspiring.
Today Ben expressed his feelings on people talking about their lives prior to being on the PCT as their “real life.” He dislikes the connotation that what we are doing right now is not real life. It got me thinking and I agree. My life has been marked with many instances of “non traditional living.” All four years of college I changed residence locations and roommates each year, then I traveled in South America for ten months, my first job was working in a trailer across northeast Colorado, followed by working in an office, now I am living on the trail. My habits and routine have constantly changes depending on what is going on in my life at that time. To talk about this adventure as being something outside one’s real life suggests we are not living. I have always been a firm advocate of spending my life doing things that make me happy. I work to live, not live to work. And my play time is the most important thing I do each day. Hoots added a new dimension though, he dislikes the word vacation. Vacation harbors a reward mentality. Work hard and you get a break to do things you enjoy. Rather than making everyday enjoyable. Or putting more effort into making sure our every decision about how we spend our time is focused on always enjoying ourselves. Not just living for the weekend, or vacation time. I like that thought process. It is why I struggled so much with an office job. I need more flexibility each day with my hours to fit them around the other activities I want to do. Ideally we all get to live our careers/jobs, but realistically all work eventually feels burdensome at some point. Something my Aunt Marilyn instilled in me is to make sure I spend each day living for myself, because you never know when it is your last. That may sound cliché, but I will die with no regrets.
Day: 30
Thirty miles on day thirty!
Day Thirty: 1 June 2015
Start: HM 608.9
End: HM 637 Yellow Jacket Spring trail
GPS Point: 35.58815, -118.13272
Day Total: 30.1 miles
Water at mile 620 Willow Spring
So many things to say for today!
First, we woke around 4 AM this morning. It was still dark and chilly. I was on trail at 5 AM.  My earliest day by over an hour. I saw so many pretty sunrise views. And there was a playful warbler that fluttered about in front of me. Yellow breast, patterned black feathers on it back and wings, and a red mask across its eyes. Quickly the miles passed. Likely because my brain didn’t wake up until I had already been hiking several hours. Hoots and I split off the trail at mile 620 to head to Willow Spring. It’s a 1.4 mile trail down a drainage path for a 700 foot drop to a spring. The spring is a ground seep up into this shallow, fetid pool. Filled with snails, frantic red worms, snakes, insects, algae, and more. It smelled of decomposing matter. We filtered water from here and treated. My second opportunity to have Ben provide me with his filter. I had just under two liters when we showed up. Had I been on my own, I would have skipped that source and booked it forward to a rumored water cache ahead. But with filter, the water was fine. There was a lot of water too. I think the pipe system used to be reliable in the past, but we had to go with stagnant pool instead. It took an hour to filter water for both of us. We hiked away from the water source up a jeep road back to the PCT. Basically 1.6 miles back up the lost 700 feet. It’s a 3.2 miles alternate to 1.9 PCT miles. We hit the spring about 9:30 AM and took off an hour later. There were so many incredibly large Joshua Trees down towards the spring. Incredible!
Anyways, once back on trail, we decided we would hike at least four miles. There was a strong breeze that had picked up. At mile 623 we encountered a couple who are running a water and supply service for the next two weeks. They bring water and supplies out from Mojave that people have paid for. That way hikers know they have good water halfway across the long waterless stretch. In my favor it meant they were just posted up and were giving out cold soda! Nothing like a cold sugary drink when you’ve just hiked up a hot road to be smacked in the face with a blustery and hot trail. It was such a nice surprise! We stayed long enough to finish the drink then continued on. We weren’t going to siesta because the wind was so cold, but both of us needed rest and food. We stopped at mile 625 and took two hours. We attempted naps but the wind was genuinely cold in the shade and too strong for me to be comfortable. At one point Hoots had a bird literally fly into his back haha! I just couldn’t find comfort or rest, despite being exhausted. We decided to keep moving. From there we only had 12 miles to the next water source.
There were lots of people hiking today instead of taking afternoon shade breaks. The majority of today’s trail was on ridge line and very exposed. I doubt anyone found much comfort in rest with the wind blowing so hard. There were three major water caches today. I was not expecting any of them. Though I did greatly appreciate the bit of trail magic with cold soda. I met The Eggs, saw Concrete, Clay and Mighty Mouse, Marian, and several others. There were registers again today and it sea like we are just behind a big crowd of people. The bright of of a long day today is that weather is supposed to remain chilly and windy the next two days. So at least I don’t have to get up at 4 AM again tomorrow.
At mile 632 we started a big climb! I wasn’t ready for it. Luckily the grade was super easy. But we did climb a lot. After getting to the top, we slowly started climbing back down. At mile 637 we split off down Yellow Jacket Spring trail. It is 0.7 miles down off the PCT. Hot Sauce and Marian were already set up with camp and eating supper. I was ready to curl up and pass out. At least the wind did die down a bit, thankfully, as might set in. It will be chilly tonight.
Day: 31
We have reached the desert-Sierras cusp!
Day Thirty-one: 2 June 2015
Start: HM 637
End: HM 663.7 Joshua Tree Spring
GPS Point: 35.74218, -118.02366
Day Total: 27.7 miles
Water at mile 637 Yellow Jacket Spring, mile 651.3 Walker Pass campground, 663.7 Joshua Tree Spring
I slept in this morning! So great! I rubbed out my legs and feet. None of us got water last night and this morning revealed we needed to filter it. It was less abundant than the Willow Springs water, despite being cleaner. I waited until Hoots finished filtering then borrowed his filter to get two liters for myself. I carried his filter so he wouldn’t have to wait for me. I left camp at 7:45 AM and was back to the PCT by 8:00 AM. The plan was to go 14 miles to Walker Pass for lunch. I booked it as fast as possible. The first past was so beautiful. Then we walked a dirt road right into a burn section. I don’t know if we have had a single day this whole trail that didn’t go through some part of a burn area. Sad to think about. A few miles out from Walker Pass I crossed paths with two older guys out day hiking who gave me a mini Pay Day candy bar. So sweet of them!
I strolled into the Walker campground to find Ryan still there and two hikers who were dropped off: Starboard and Good Times Grant. They gave me a chilled orange and strawberry lemonade Powerade! Plus, I found cold Bud Light in a cooler! Best lunch and trail magic! Hot Sauce, Hoots, and I hung out there a good two hours. We decided that we should hike to the next water source. Water past Walker Pass is all supposed to be relatively abundant and easily accessible. I am so excited!
Leaving Walker Pass is like the beginning stages of what is to come in the Sierras. There were rocky granite cliffs, sheer drop off ridge line walks, living trees, and the beauty of high lands. I am so excited! I took so many pictures. I decided I needed to book to the last section too and made surprisingly good timing. All day I was moving consistently fast.
The day’s endpoint goal was Joshua Tree Spring. 1/4 mile off trail down in a river valley. The side trail is surprising steep down to it. But the water was an easy piped spring. Mosquitoes were buzzing around everywhere but a girl named Let’s Party with her dog Easy (trail name Bottoms Up) and Concrete had started a fire. The smoke was helping with the blood thirsty demons. I filled my bottles, hung out a little while, then headed back up the side trail to camp closer to trail. It is less buggy and less distance to walk with my pack in the morning. Not that I didn’t walk all the way down there with my pack. Ryan, Chris, Hot Sauce, and I are all cowboy camped on a sloping spot with Hoots and Pink Leprechaun close by. More people showed up and there are at least four or five camped down by the spring. Apparently there have been reports of bears in this area down by the spring. Interesting to start changing gears and thinking about bears and cold versus rattlers and the blazing sun.
I am sure there might have been more on my mind today, but sleep is winning.
Day: 32
One month down and a quarter way finished.
Day Thirty-two: 3 June 2015
Start: HM 663.7
End: HM 693.5 Manter Creek in Rockhouse Basin
GPS Point: 35.924663, -118.149306
Day Total: 30 miles
Water at mile 669.4 2nd crossing of Spanish Needle Creek, mile 680.8 Chimney Creek
To celebrate my one month on the PCT, and that we crossed the quarter way point, I slept in this morning. The original plan was to hike 23 or 24 miles so I knew it would be pretty relaxed. I spent a solid thirty minutes rubbing out my legs and feet, I ate my cereal for breaky, I watched others wake up and put themselves together, then I had to get up to pee so started getting around. I left camp around 7:30 AM with Chris, the last two to leave, and I took off. I knew we would likely hike the six miles for quick water then the eleven more for second water before stopping for lunch. Despite leaving last, I beat everyone there except Concrete, who legitimately left over an hour before me and hikes fast. Ryan is also a fast hiker, but I passed him while he stopped for a pre lunch snack about four miles out. It was so nice not needing to carry a lot of water weight while also having a basically empty pack. I like the short early miles while packs are full and then progressively hiking further when the pack weight diminishes.
En route to lunch, there were these biologists hanging out on their lunch stop before heading out on an onion mission. Apparently there is a rare onion out here that was last observed in the 80’s up in a steep scree area by the granite peak spires. They were hoping to find this onion then start developing a conservation plan for it. Ryan was excited to maybe find one from the trail but one of the biologists told him there is a poisonous plant that mimics the rare onion. Pretty crazy.
Lunch was great! I met a bunch of people who’s names I no longer remember. Roadrunner was one. The river was full and thriving. We took a 3-4 hour lunch break. I soaked my feet, rinsed my button up shirt, dunked my hair, tried cleaning my legs and arms a bit. So cold and so refreshing. The sun was hot and we are at a higher elevation now, but the cool breeze was perfect for hiking. I hiked without my over shirt all morning until the last stretch into lunch. Then the rest of the day after it had a good rinse, no longer crunchy with salt.
While hanging out, we were looking at the maps and thinking about our neros in Kennedy Meadows. We decided that less miles tomorrow the better. So the plan was to hike 12 more miles instead of only 5 or 6. Since we didn’t leave from lunch until 4 PM, it was a gamble if we would end up night hiking. But we arrived at Manter Creek just before 8 PM and it is down in a valley where the sun was still shining. Perfect timing! I think that’s pretty good for a thirty mile day. Hot Sauce, Hoots, Ryan, and I made a pretty solid day of hiking.
There are several people who were already in bed when we arrived. We splayed out on the nice level sand, cooked our suppers, and hung out a short while before retiring to bed ourselves. Tomorrow we have a quick 9.5 miles into the store at Kennedy Meadows. As the name suggests, we will have a breeze of flat valley hiking.
I know I am forgetting things, but that’s all for now.
Day: 33
Sweet Something.
Day Thirty-three: 4 June 2015
Start: HM 693.5
End: HM 702.2 Kennedy Meadows store
GPS Point: 36.01953, -118.12412
Day Total: 8.7 miles
Water at mile 702.2 Kennedy Meadows General Store
Today felt like a real accomplishment. We are done with the desert and beginning the Sierras. It is great to feel like one “eco zone” is finished. Next up the Sierras. We won’t need to track the water report soon, miles are supposed to go down, and all our training thus far will begin anew. Now will begin cold weather, rain possibilities, bear considerations, granite trail and rock obstacles, river fording, and whatever else. Everyone says mileage goes down in the Sierras, so I am interested to see what the differences are.
We made it to Kennedy Meadows very easily. An easy, rolling walk. We did pass by a cool abandoned cabin. A once used, long forgotten treasure. No roads leading towards or away. Maybe a hunting lodge or winter hideaway. I would like living away from everything for awhile. Town visits for supplies. Life tucked up in a simple nook of a home, a cabin in the woods.
While walking up to the general store, all the hikers started applauding. How fantastic a feeling to reach this next page in the hike and feel the acceptance, understanding, appreciation, and sense of community from all these people who have just gone through the same path as you. A different journey for each of us, but one we took together. This was a sweet something for me.
I immediately found a seat at a table on the porch and removed my shoes. Next I wandered through the store, bought Frito’s and bean dip, and inquired about all the chore options and available amenities. We arrived at 10 AM and we’re ready for burgers when the grill opened at 11 AM. I had a double cheeseburger with guacamole, lettuce, pickle, and tomato. Delicious! Also very filling. I washed everything down with beer and a giant Gatorade. After assessing my resupply box and food situation to Independence, CA, I mostly just relaxed and did a lot of nothing. Took a glorious hot shower, scrubbed my clothes in a wash tub, chilled out in the cool sun.
There were heaps of hikers at the general store! I saw some people I haven’t seen in a while, Concrete, Pink Leprechaun, S and M, Snackies, Tami, Sugar High and Subway, and others I met more recently. Magic took off yesterday and Brandon took off this morning. I also met a bunch of people, especially Cat Lady, Rock Star, Square and Veggie, and others whose names evade me. It was awesome and the right mix of town and hiker trash. I think because there is no reception or Internet, options limited to just the general store or a restaurant a couple miles away, and everyone feeling the accomplishment of the past 700 miles, the vibe is just right. I literally called my parents on a pay phone to organize some trail logistics. You can be sucked in but there is not enough to keep you on the bait. The general store is a business that hikers cater to and not vice versa. Everything here runs on generators, so when the store closes at 5 PM everything shuts down with it. No shower stalls, no water, no store or food, no power. We are left to our own devices. This is also the first place most people pick up their bear canisters. I think that humbles you a bit when you realize you now need to deal with this giant, hard canister. Weight is added for the canister and snow/bug/alpine conditions. A whole new page to this learning lesson.
Ryan bought hot dogs with a dream of a fire. We definitely did it up with style. Hot dogs and buns over the fire with a mustard and ketchup condiment mix, fried instant Idahoan mashed potato latkes, and Ben and Jerry’s for dessert. I actually had one and a half pints ice cream, the rest of my Frito’s, and an Idahoan on the side, too. Calorie loading galore! Anyways, it was a great time hanging out by the fire all evening. Fantastic company and ambitions for what’s to come. I don’t think any of us know what tomorrow will bring.
It is late now and beginning to be chilly. So much to think about and plenty to do in the AM before hitting the trail.

Mile 444.0 Acton KOA to mile 566.4 Tehachapi

Mile 444.0 Acton KOA to mile 566.5 Tehachapi

Day: 22
When life comes at you.
Day Twenty-Two: 24 May 2015
Start: HM 444
End: HM 466 small campsite
GPS Point: 34.587647, -118.321819
Day Total: 22 miles
Water at mile 454 Agua Dulce, 463.2 Bear Spring
I slept in this morning. I didn’t know what the guys were thinking about for mileage so decided I would let them go and I would just catch them. I hung out with Jackson and At Home until 9AM. Right off the bat is the Golden Spike at mile 444.5. This monument is for when the PCT was declared complete in a “Golden Spike” ceremony on 6/5/1993. Sort of a dinky little structure, and a strange place to put the monument, but interesting all the same.
I busted out the 10 miles to Agua Dulce in three hours! You cross through Vasquez Rocks just as you come into town. A side note for the Trekkies out there. Vasquez Rocks is where Captain Kirk yells “Khan!” in front of the rocks after his group was exiled to a desert planet. It was really cool. Coming into the park I met two PCT’ers who were stopped to climb a rock face. Then immediately following was an older guy taking audial notes on the geology of the rock formation. Strange day.
Getting into Agua Dulce I finally had wifi! Updated a bunch of stuff and am not feeling stressed about the nuisances of life and town chores anymore. Realizing I’m 4 days behind has me itching to push ahead, but I will likely wait until Kennedy Meadows still. These are great people. And now Jackson (Lazy Bones) and Mike (Magic) are caught up too. I think they are worth hanging around for. The back crew caught up to be around us. Why shouldn’t I stay back to do the same?
I didn’t leave Agua Dulce until 3PM. Way later than desired, but I am glad to have things taken care of. Also was prepared to hike into the evening to get a decent distance in. Found Hoots, Hot Sauce, and Magic at mile 466 tucked into a tiny camp spot. They let me squeeze in. Polka Dots is apparently a few miles further up. Can’t complain about 22 miles with a late start and long afternoon break. A few miles back was water for a 15 mile stretch. A single pipe to a spring, collectable by scoop. There were five people there when I arrived. I cannot believe how many people have passed through in the last two days. Another reason I want to push forward since I want to quickly get through the main herd without being stuck among it too long. Limited water becomes a chore when ten or more people are waiting on the same spring pipe…
Finally note, my friend Tuna Helper happened to be coming through the Acton area yesterday. He’s on his way to the Mexican border to start the PCT for a speed attempt. His brother and he gave me a ride back to the KOA. Definitely a mood booster after my struggles with hitching.
Mosquitoes are out so I am tucking in for the night.
Day: 23
Hitching magic!
Day Twenty-three: 25 May 2015
Start: HM 466
End: HM 498.2 Sawmill Campground
GPS Point: 34.701733, -118.572545
Day Total: 18.6 miles
Water at mile 478.2 Casa de Luna
I finally have my hiker legs! I have been able to do a consistent 3 mph for a few days, and today I crushed 12 miles in 3.5 hours. I am feeling good. And confident that I can take off at the daily mileage I have thought possible if not hiking as a group. Though my right pinky toe is just going through the step of pushing the nail off and was very painful by the end of today. Other than that I have no troubling aches or pains.
We ended up heading to Casa de Luna in hopes that there would be food and fun for Memorial Day. Instead a big group that had stayed the last night were all heading out. It was a strange scene. Reminded me of the vortex of Mike’s party stop. We hung out for a little while and took off. This is the last reroute section, the 2013 Powerhouse Fire. 15.9 miles of closed trail that parallel the Elizabeth Rd highway. We got a hitch into Lake Hughes and then we’re planning to hitch the second half. There was this man outside the mom and pop store with a 1918 Studebaker Big Six Touring muscle car with Klaxon horn. He fixed it up himself and says it one of only four running in the world. Still had the steel frame canvass roof, folding windshield, two middle fold out seats, and leather interior. I asked if I could have a picture with it and he let me sit inside the backseat. Then he was asking about the trail, eating a sandwich, while we were trying to gain a hitch. You might guess, but he offered us a ride! It was amazing! We only had four or five miles to go, but definitely a highlight of my day! We crammed five hikers and all our packs into the Studebaker and were off. So cool! And what a lucky hitch! Also hopefully the last road section we have to deal with.
The connector trail back to the PCT was a hot, steep incline up a drainage basin that was covered in poison oak. I am shocked that the fire section is out of commission because there aren’t enough funds for maintenance. From viewing the condition of the connector trail, I suspect there are many alternate routes being utilized. We went a few miles and stopped early at the first water and campsite. It is a bit chilly and breezy, but not bad overall. We even found three broken air soft pellet guns that almost provided mild entertainment. In total it was a short day of about 19 miles of hiking. But we “covered” 32.2 PCT miles. After several short days, I am thinking that tomorrow I will get into Hikertown for my resupply and then pull my first night hike stretch. It will make for a long day, but will hopefully put me on a good track forward. Tehachapi is only 50 miles past Hikertown and I am supposed to zero there. Hoots, Hot Sauce, Magic, Tami, and I are all together tonight. I missed Polka Dots by 30 minutes at the Fire Station this morning. He went straight on to the trail and we hitched to Casa de Luna. Who knows how far ahead he is now.
There were so many hikers today. I am nervous but also excited to push into and past the main herd.
Day: 24
Into the desert we go!
Day Twenty-four: 26 May 2015
Start: HM 498.2
End: HM 527 along the aqueduct
GPS Point: 34.85383, -118.52875
Day Total: 28.8 miles
Water at mile 502.4 Red Rock Water Tank guzzler, mile 517.6 Highway 138/Hikertown
Today was a long day. We woke up early and hit the trail before the sun was hot. Tami, Hot Sauce, and I stopped at the guzzler to get water. It took us a fair bit of time. Unlike the one we found early on in the trip, this one had a corrugated metal roof over it. The roof complicated our ability to access the guzzler, but we figured it out. Something I learned today is that hunters put up guzzlers because it provides them water but also attracts animals that they want to hunt. Also makes sense why they aren’t super accessible for humans.
By 10AM we were on full descent from the mountain down to the valley. It was exposed, hot, and terrible. I definitely do not function well in the heat. By the time we reached Hikertown, I was beat and likely very dehydrated. Upon entering the property, Tami and I were immediately accosted to be driven to the store/restaurant that the Hikertown host owns. I ended up going. It turned out to be a good trip for me. I drank a lot of cold drinks, ate a burger and fries, charged my phone up, and just hung out in the shaded room. No one else from my group went. Of the hikers I was taken with, we were all sort of just abandoned there. So I spent a few hours in town. We eventually got a ride back. I found my food package, organized my pack, washed my feet, hung out, and then it was like and rush of my group to get going. As always, I was the last to leave. 5:45 PM for some cool, slightly overcast, desert hiking into the evening.
Brandon showed up while I was at the store. Apparently he walked the road section and was actually behind us yesterday. So we are all back together, plus Tami and Magic Mike. We hiked about ten miles away from Hikertown and are all cowboy camped on this raised cement platform by the aqueduct. I suspect it is an access point of some sort. A long day, good miles, and we avoided a majority of the afternoon heat. The plan forward, while we are in the real desert finally, is to hike in the cool morning and later evening hours, without relying on hard miles during midday. We will be in Tehachapi within two days for our second zero.
There were lots of people at Hikertown. Many were some of the stay-overs we met at Casa de Luna. A large group of us took off around the same time from Hikertown to get evening hiking hours. Luckily we hiked past the main group of goers. They weren’t on the most productive agenda. And two guys past us who I think are legitimately night hiking, and not just getting bonus miles at the end of the day. I met a Colorado girl today named C+, self claimed that she is slightly above average. So many Colorado people!
I could write more but it is late and they are waking me early. Night!
Day: 25
Afternoon siestas!
Day Twenty-five: 27 May 2016
Start: HM 527
End: HM 553.8 near wind farm in burn area
GPS Point: 35.02343, -118.39493
Day Total: 26.8 miles
Water at mile 541.6 Tylerhorse Canyon,
Everyone woke up super early this morning to beat the heat of the sun. Hoots and I slept in a slight bit longer but were still on the trail at 6:10 AM. My earliest start yet!! The late start turned out in our favor too. A few miles up the dirt road after departing from the aqueduct, a man named Paul, who owns a small stretch of land we crossed over, stopped us and gave us ice cold sweet tea! I was super hydrated today, peed seven times before the afternoon siesta point, but still downed an ice cold tea! It was glorious. The last four miles were extremely hot! I have zero go power in the heat. Thought maybe dehydration slowed me down, but clearly just the power of heat can bring me down.
We finally reached the river, at mile 14, and took an afternoon break. For some reason the other four took off shortly after we arrived. I thought the idea was to shade it up for the heat of the day and hike only mornings and evenings. Who knows. Hoots and I hung out under a tree until around 3:30 PM. We ended up hiking past the other group by a few miles. The afternoon siesta was fantastic! There wasn’t much in way of shade, so I splayed out right on the trail under a tree. The ground around was too steep, and the trail was nicely smooth and level. No one seemed to mind the obstacle too much. I never actually napped, but came close several times. My body has a hard time processing temperature changes with hydration. After tremendous fluid loss this morning by peeing many times, I didn’t go again until well after we started the 12 evening miles. Strange.
Hoots and I hiked right up to darkness. Our plan had been two more miles but we were ready to stop. We ended up racing daylight to find an acceptable spot. After a few failed attempts, we found a windy but level and sandy camp area near the wind farm. I am exhausted now and ready to call it a day. Met three guys on our evening jaunt: Boom Box, Trout Sniffer, and a third one.
Day: 26
Resting for a day.
Day Twenty-eight: 28 May 2015
Start: HM 553.8
End: HM 558.5 Tehachapi Willow Springs Road
GPS Point: 35.052248, -118.358443
Day Total: 4.7 miles
Water at mile 568.5 Tehachapi
It is phenomenal how disconnected our minds and bodies can be. Town trips are somewhat exhausting. And they can either feel like forever or breeze by extremely quickly. Regardless, my mind resists the break of a zero day. My body, however, desires and possibly requires rest days. I can tell in the eagerness of my step as my body realizes rest is coming soon if only it takes me a few miles further. I find a frenzied energy of great supply. All aches and pains subside. My footing becomes hurried and exact. My body knows rest, thorough and vegetative rest, is around the next bend. My solution is to utilize neros. For Tehachapi, I hiked a few miles to the first road crossing to Tehachapi. I spent the whole day doing chores, eating town food, and resting. Tomorrow I will go out early to slack pack the eight miles to the next road crossing to Tehachapi, then return to town for another day of off-trail rest. Thus two short days of overall rest instead of one, while still getting on trail, moving my legs, not being sucked into the town stop vortex, and getting to see the trail from an easier standpoint of day hiking without all my stuff. It seems like an ingenious plan for my town days. It could have been possible in Big Bear and Wrightwood. Plus this time it will also shorten a dry, big water carry stretch.
Hoots and I got into Tehachapi fairly early. A woman on her way to work picked us up. Willow Springs Road is mostly truck traffic, but traffic moves slow enough that people might actually stop. She dropped us off right by the depot area. Which turned out in our favor. I spotted a hiker and asked about the post office, including directions. He mentioned renting a bike from the motel he was staying at. That was our ticket! Hoots and I rented bikes, rode to the airport to establish our main base, and went all over town on our various chores. Tehachapi is somewhat spread out, spanning an older main road, a highway, and the railroad. So bikes were incredible for the mile plus distances between everything. We picked up packages from the post office, organized packs, grocery shopped, did laundry, and planned some afternoon snacking. Then I became a sprawled out bum on the carpeted floor of the airport lounge. The local Tehachapi airport allows hikers to camp near and hang out in the pilots’ lounge. It is fantastic! There is only one bathroom, but it has a shower. There is a kitchen, recliners, carpet, television with cable, and wifi. This really couldn’t be more awesome. And a fantastic woman came by this afternoon and dropped off a huge amount of fresh, hot food. So great!
After a lot of relaxing, I feel pretty good. I might have a struggle actually waking up early for the start of our slack pack, but a nice man named Al offered to give us a ride at 6:30 AM. Just more examples of the immense generosity of people along the trail so far.
After a lot of beer and a shower, I am feeling great but incredibly sleepy. Cowboy camping right by the lounge. Things are mostly quiet but will have some light and noise.
Day: 27
Brilliancy of slack packing!
Day Twenty-seven: 29 May 2015
Start: HM 558.5
End: HM 566.4 Highway 58
GPS Point: 35.099399, -118.292893
Day Total: 7.9 miles
Water at mile Tehachapi.
This morning Hot Sauce, Hoots, and I walked the connecting eight miles from Tehachapi Willow Springs Road to Highway 58 without our packs. So wonderful to not have pack weight! Definitely might utilize this method in the future. Though it did make today feel like we have been in town forever. To have a whole additional day in town. It was sort of strange, and mostly resulted in hanging out in the pilots’ lounge watching television. At least I definitely had plenty of rest in. Some town chores were accomplished that make me feel justified for all the town, wifi, computer, etc. challenges I have had.
Today’s trail stretch and much of the last two days have had us hiking through wind farms. The farm here at Tehachapi is really interesting because it has been around quite a long time. They have some of the original tower designs still up and functioning. Plus they do testing of new designs. A guy who works on the platform bases happened to give us a ride back from the trail today and I asked him lots of questions. Also took lots of photos. Very interesting stuff.
Simply because I could, I took another shower today. My justification being if my clothes need presoaking, I also may need two go’s at cleanliness. Especially since this last stretch to Kennedy Meadows is the driest as well as first distance to not cross any between towns. This section will be good preparation for the whole Sierras distance. Water won’t be an issue there, but it will have some of the longest food/day spans.
When the three of us hit the trail, Polka Dots came with and continued on the trail north. We all group hugged before parting. We are pretty sure Magic also took off this morning. And Tami left this afternoon. Hoots, Hot Sauce, and I will leave in the morning. I still need to completely reorganize my pack before we hit the trail. I will wake up early and do it then. It is difficult because my sleeping quilt is the first item into my pack, so nothing else can really be organized until that’s in after I sleep tonight. Plus, with this being my longest food stretch, I am not yet sure how the squeeze six days of food into my pack under my current weight balance system. Not to worry now, I will figure it out in the morning.
Beyond that, we saw some others come into town today. At Home, the German guy, the French couple, Toes and Cheese, and others who I have only seen and not really interacted with as much. Lots of people hanging around the airport still. And the wonderful local trail angel, Teresa, brought food again for supper. Hoots asked her why she brings food every night. Her response was asking him why all of us hike every day. Pretty amazing! PCT’ers, and thru hikers in general, are often called hiker trash, but we have definitely been on the receiving end of some incredible amounts of kindness and generosity. I cannot thank the people and communities enough for everything they do. And for anyone out there who partakes in random acts of kindness, you cannot imagine how much a small gesture can mean to a person in need.
I am glad to be taking my time during this beginning part of the trail. Heat doesn’t treat me well but good company does. I am definitely glad to have been able to camp with people every night of the trip so far.