Sunday, October 9, 2011

Life After the PCT

I apologize in advance for the length of this entry, but I have been reflecting on the hike a lot recently, and five months is a pretty long time over which to reflect!

Wow.  I can't believe it's over.  At the beginning I didn't really know what to expect since I had not  previously attempted a thru-hike.  I should have been expecting a lot of fun and great people! Now, five amazing months have passed and I wonder where the time has gone.  I'm glad I took so many pictures to help me remember all the good stuff that happened, and the people who made those times so great.

Now that I'm back in Portland, I can't decide which would be better: jumping straight back into work and my previous life, or having these two weeks to attempt to readjust before starting work again.  It's probably good to have this time to do nothing for a while, but sometimes I'm not very good at doing nothing and my mind has too much time to wander back to trail life.

Lifestyle is certainly going to be different, but I think the hardest part is going to be adjusting to life without the awesome people I met and spent a lot of time with on the trail, especially 12 Ounce.  Hiking partners are not friends that you see every now and then, or even a roommate that you see everyday.  It's like being roommates who carpool to work, work all day together, carpool home, and then sleep in the same tiny bedroom together.  Needless to say, it's not all that easy to find a person or group of people that you can live this lifestyle with everyday.  I was lucky to have met many people who fell into this category.  The first group, that I hiked with for 450 miles, included Wiz and Jimbrick, who I thoroughly enjoyed talking to, as well as hiking and camping with everyday.  As that group split and scattered, I began to hike with Gangsta Rap, Timex/Kick/Colin, and 12 Ounce.  For the next 500 miles the four of us hiked together through the Sierras to Yosemite, before splitting into twosomes.  The remaining 1700 miles from Yosemite to the Canadian border I hiked with 12 Ounce, with a few other people every now and then.  Best time of my life.  Thanks to all of you for being so much fun and sharing your time/hike with me!  I already miss you guys.

As far as my transition back to "real life", I'm taking my time with that one.  Today I ran the Portland Marathon, which I signed up for prior to starting the PCT, and otherwise wouldn't have run.  When I signed up for the marathon I thought I would finish the hike mid-September and have more time to prepare, but as it turned out, I was having too much fun hiking and didn't finish until September 30.  I got in one 6-mile run two days ago, and then just went for it today.  After getting through the first half in just under 90  minutes, the wheels came off and it was a painful run, but I still made it to the finish line with a smile and in a fairly respectable 3:23:30.  My body isn't all that happy with me at the moment.

Once my legs have had a chance to recover from the pavement pounding I put them through today, I will work on moving into my new home in Vancouver.  I am renting a room in my friends house and looking forward to having a roommate again after living alone the past few years. Once settled in there I will go back to work on October 24.  I guess it's back to reality...soon enough at least.

As for future adventures, I am working on putting together a list for 2012.  I plan to find something adventurous to do each month next year.  It could be as simple as running a marathon (check!), or something more intense like circumnavigating the 30+ miles around Crater Lake on skis and touring Mt Scott along the way.  I also plan to ski as much as possible this winter/spring at Mt Hood, and possibly elsewhere.  Now that I'm done hiking, bring on the snow!  Perhaps I will go on another grand adventure (CDT?) in a few years, only time will tell.

PCT Overview by the Numbers

Start: Campo, California on April 29, 2011 (elev. 2,925')
The Southern Terminus

Miles Walked (Including Mt Whitney and Half Dome)2700+
Mile 2000 marker just before Hwy 20 at Santiam Pass, OR

Lowest Point on Trail: Cascade Locks, OR [near OR/WA border]  (140')
Bridge of the Gods, Columbia River

Highest Point on Trail: Forrester Pass (13,153')
Forrester Pass

Highest Point Summitted: Mt Whitney (14,505') Also the highest point in the lower 48
12 Ounce at summit, looking East  into Owens Valley as the sun rises

Elevation Change: ~421,000 ft, or to put that in perspective ~80 miles.  That's just the vertical up and down!

Days of Real, Drenching Rain: One, hiking into Stehekin
Drowned Rat

Days of Sun: The entire hike minus about 8 cloudy days
12 Ounce following the trail through sun-cups in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, WA 

Other Awesome PCT Hikers: All of them
Kickoff at Lake Morena, CA. I'm on the top right of the rock

Amazing Views: Countless
Double rainbow at sunrise in the desert

Memories: The best.  They will last a lifetime
Dinner on a windmill farm just before dropping to the Hwy for Mojave/Tehachapi

Regrets: Only that it had to end

End: Canadian Border (elev. 4240'); Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada, on September 30, 2011 (elev. 3,900')
The Northern Terminus

Monday, October 3, 2011

September 30, 2011

Start: 2640
End: 2663 (Manning Provincial Park, BC, Canada!)

Today we woke up in the dark again, and again we had a clear sky with stars shining brightly. As we got moving around 6:30, the sky was just getting light as we climbed out of our meadowy campsite to a gap in the ridge. The colors that the sun created with the wispy cirrus clouds above the surrounding mountains was amazing! Possibly the best sunrise of the trip. Mother nature saving the best for last I suppose.

We continued climbing over Woody Pass and up towards the WA high point at just over 7000'. The 360 degree panoramic view of the mountains was incredible! After a nice break there, we headed down the last 7 miles to the Canadian border.

We took the obligatory pictures at the Northern Terminus, in the sun no less, and then set up our stoves for the final trail-cooked meal of the hike. As we were sitting there cooking, the clouds rolled through the sky from South to North, urging us to continue moving into Canada and put an end to this five month long adventure.

As we approached and arrived at the terminus, just like Billy Goat told us, the US Marine Band wasn't playing for us, in fact, no one else was there. It was nice to see the terminus, monument 78, and the clearcut line along the border, but other than that it seemed like just another day on the trail. We still had 8 more mules to go, after all.

Looking back on the entirety of all the miles hiked I can safely say that I have no regrets. I can only hope that the same thought hits me as I look back on my life many years from now.

Sent from the PCT

September 29, 2011

Start: 2614
End: 2640

After a climb from Glacier Pass in the morning to another pass, we crossed to the other side of the ridge and into a fierce, cold wind. The trail had some snow patches here and there, and also had some surface hoar, the first we had seen on the hike. It was strange to walk on it, crunching through the tiny icy pillars.

After a few more miles we came to Harts Pass, the last road we will cross before reaching Manning Park, 8 miles past the US/Canadian border. We stopped briefly to sign the register, then continued on to find a place for lunch.

Our lunch stop ended up being ?Buffalo? Pass. Just as we were packing up after lunch, Goodness and Zm stopped by on their way South. They reached the border the day before and instead of going into Canada were hiking back to Rainey Pass for a ride. It was good to see the two of them once more before finishing the hike.

During the afternoon hiking my mind was wandering, and a feeling came over me a bit like a child gets on Christmas Eve. The anticipation of completing the hike and accomplishing a goal 5 months in the making is like that of opening presents Christmas Day. The only question left in my mind is: will I have gotten what I want out of the hike, or will i be left with an empty feeling after the anticipation of the moment has passed? Only time will tell.

Sent from the PCT

September 28, 2011

Start: 2589
End: 2614

I love the North Cascades! I believe today confirms the fact that Washington had been my favorite part of the trail.

We made our way up the trail from where we camped, across Hwy 20 at Rainy Pass, and up towards Cutthroat Pass. As we made our way up through the trees we caught glimpses of a clear blue sky, and the mountains freshly frosted with a light dusting of snow. The crispness of the morning air, as well as the snow, were truly signs that the seasons are changing, winter is on it's way, and it's about time to be finishing this hike.

Over the course of the day we also ran into a few other hikers. Two of them are Mowgli and Shaker, other thru-hikers, and the third is a section hiker from Portland named Bobby.

Tonight 12 Ounce and I are camped up near Glacier Pass and I expect the tent will be frozen in the morning. Should be interesting! We also cross into the Pasayten Wilderness tomorrow which is supposed to be spectacular!

Sent from the PCT

September 27, 2011

Start: 2574
End: 2589

This morning we did some laundry, ate some delicious baked goods, and picked up our food boxes from the Post Office.

We took the 11:15am shuttle back up to the trailhead at High Bridge, ate a little snack, and started hiking again just after 1pm. The hiking was pretty easy today, with few views. It also rained a little on us, but not nearly like it did yesterday. (thank goodness!)

Tonight we are camped at Fireweed Camp within North Cascades National Park. Getting in 15 mikes today allows us to have a relatively (hopefully) easy schedule of 25 miles per day to get us to the border and then to Manning Park in the next three days. It was really good to get everything dried out after the rain yesterday and my mood is much better because of the improved weather and plentiful snack foods I brought for the final leg.

Sent from the PCT

September 26, 2011

Start: 2555
End: 2574

Today we woke early with the intention of getting to Stehekin around noon, getting our resupply boxes from the Post Office, drying some clothing, and then catching the next shuttle back to the trailhead to get in a few miles. Instead, we awoke to find our shoes had frozen solid like they had done a few times in the Sierras. We donned our warm clothes and rain shells and headed down the trail in the dark.

The first part of the day went well enough. There was a light rain off and on, but the wettest part was from walking through the wet brush lining the trail. After about 9 miles we had a snack break, after which the rain decided to really start. With 10 miles to go, we just put our heads down and went so as to get to Stehekin as soon as possible.

When we got to the trailhead, there was an historic guard station with a little covered porch where we hid from the rain brewing hot drinks and waiting 2 hours for the shuttle to arrive. Unfortunately we were out of water when we got there, and there was no place to get potable water nearby, so we were reduced to filtering water through a bandana, bleaching it, boiling it, and then adding coffee/tea to the already tinted water. Totally worth it at the time, but also possibly a new low.

Stehekin itself is a cool little hamlet nestled at the Northwest end of Lake Chelan. Not much to it, but looks like a fun place to go rafting, horseback riding, and hiking during the summer.

Sent from the PCT

September 25, 2011

Start: 2533
End: 2555 (plus 5 "new" PCT miles)

Sometimes when people ask about the PCT, I just say it has it's ups and downs. This section has certainly been no exception with all the valleys we have climbed into and out of. Miles have been a bit slower because of the elevation change, but the scenery has been incredible, particularly views of aptly named Glacier Peak and Mt Rainier in the distance.

Today we had the opportunity to walk on a new bridge crossing the Suiattle River. The previous bridge was washed out in 2003 and just opened for use a week or so ago. The only problem with this is that the new bridge is in a new location meaning an extra 5 miles that we had not counted on hiking.

After making it through the new trails and back to the old PCT, we made our way up Suiattle Pass, hiking until about 9:30pm, and setting up camp around 6000' just the other side of the pass. This leaves us with 19 miles to do to get to Stehekin tomorrow, something I am looking forward to so I can eat some delicious baked goods and real hot food!

Sent from the PCT

September 24, 2011

Start: 2509
End: 2533

Today was just another day with "you gotta see it for yourself" views. The first part of the day we climbed up to a couple passes and traversed along the south side of a ridge presenting us with amazing views to the south of Mt Rainier and other smaller peaks in the foreground.

After passing through Red Pass we dropped into a bowl with spectacular green grass contrasted with glacial snow patches, and further down the trail views of Glacier Peak.

Later in the day there was a wall of clouds to the West moving our direction. As we approached Fire Pass the clouds overtook us and we got a sprinkling of rain. At the top of the pass we donned our rain gear and prepared for the worst. The wind ended up being worse than the rain, but we didn't want to take chances so we camped earlier than planned because we didn't want to be caught on a ridge if a big storm rolled through.

Sent from the PCT

September 23, 2011

Start: 2482
End: 2509

The hiking lately has been spectacular. Today included some amazing views of Glacier Peak as well as towering Mt Rainier.

The only problem is that the daylight hours are getting quite a bit shorter. Today is the autumnal equinox so from now on we will have more time without the sun than with it, but that likely would be the case since it is getting to be late September, and we are getting into northern Washington. Hopefully the rain holds off a little longer!

Sent from the PCT

September 22, 2011

Start: 2468
End: 2482

It's amazing what a difference your attitude can do for influencing your outlook on life. Like Einstein said, "There are two ways to look at life: one as if nothing is a miracle, the other as if everything is." I know the way I like to look at the world, which way appeals to you?

Sent from the PCT

September 21, 2011

Start: 2445
End: 2468

What is the point of all this, I mean, why hike all the way from Mexico to Canada? This is not an uncommon question. To begin with, it's not really about beginning at the Mexican border or ending at the Canadian border, they are just convenient places to start and end due to man's need to put boundaries on land. Certainly the places along the trail beckon hikers to come see the splendor of purple mountains majesty, but there are easier ways to get to these scenic places than walking to them consecutively from South to North. You could get between these two points much faster by many other means of transportation, but you don't use one of these quicker methods, you walk. So you set off with a backpack containing your home, kitchen, wardrobe, pantry, and all else you need to get by in the world for months. Sure seems like an awful lot of trouble to go for a walk.

So what's the point? Maybe the point is, there is no point. Perhaps the point is to gain a sense of independence, or confidence, or to see the sights. I'm sure everyone hiking has their own conclusion of what the point is, but I like to think the point is simply to have as much fun as possible with the time you have. This translates to life beyond the trail as well. If there is one thing I've learned, it's that life is meant to be enjoyed and you are in control of making sure that happens for you. Just like Mary told a group of us back at mile 110 at Warner Springs, "If you're not having fun, you're doing something wrong." I see that much more clearly now.

Perhaps a better question would be: what is the point of working nine-to-five from age 22 to 62? Do you work to live, or live to work?

Sent from the PCT

September 20, 2011

Start: 2421
End: 2445

Woke up to stars and the moon shining, with just a hint of light on the horizon suggesting that morning was soon to come.

It was a beautiful morning with a bluebird sky as we made our way to Lemah Meadow before climbing up a ridge with amazing views, akin to yesterday, including glimpses of Mt Rainier and Mt Adams! I took so many pictures just trying to capture a little of the cool stuff that is everywhere!

We stopped for lunch at a nice spot in the sun overlooking Waptus Lake. After lunch we descended to the creek feeding the lake, crossed the creek, and then hiked Eastward above the North side of the lake until turning up a canyon containing Spinoli Creek, and hiked up-canyon a while until coming across a nice campsite.

The last week, and especially the last two days, I have been so stoked on the hike, and just generally happy with where I am in my life. I feel so alive and am truly enjoying being out here each day. Some of the other thru-hikers are in the same physical location as me (or within a day or two) and they just want to finish as quickly as possible so they can move on to the next chapter in their lives, whatever that might be. It seems that there is some never-ending race everyone is running, and most people (in life in general) are in such a rush to get to the finish, perhaps without knowing what is waiting for them when they get there. I think most people would benefit from slowing down their lives, taking better care of themselves, and enjoying the little things a lot more. The things that money can't buy.

Sent from the PCT

September 19, 2011

Start: 2402
End: 2421

What a great day! The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the elk were singing, the marmots were whistling, and the pika were squeaking. It's as if the animal kingdom, us humans included, were celebrating the beautiful weather, knowing that things are about to change for the wetter and colder.

We had a good climb out of Snoqualmie Pass followed by a ridge walk that had us meandering every direction, including South, before getting back on the northward track. There were amazing views for most of the day after we got to the Kendall Katwalk. We even caught a glimpse of Mt Rainier in the late afternoon. Hopefully the next couple of days will bring more of the same!

Sent from the PCT

September 18, 2011

Zero day at Snoqualmie Pass

Going against mother nature is like betting against the house in Vegas: you may get lucky once or twice, but in the long run you're going to lose. We decided to go with mother nature today, rather than take our chances with the rain.

Today the plan was to set off in the afternoon after eating lunch, but sometimes plans change. We sat inside eating lunch, watching the rain, and decided after deliberation that maybe a day off wouldn't be so bad, especially considering we heard the weather is supposed to improve tomorrow.

Lately on the trail I think about what's next. This encompasses a number of things including work, future adventures, and just life in general. Sometimes it makes me happy, but it also reminds me that this fun, amazing adventure will soon be over. At this point the only thing I can do is enjoy the here and now, and not worry about the rest of it until the time comes.

Sent from the PCT

September 17, 2011

Start: 2376
End: 2402

When it rains, it pours. I'm not talking about actual rain, of which we had a bit today, but rather trail magic and encounters with day hikers.

The trail is a magical place and trail magic can take many different forms. At the beginning of the hike I thought of trail magic as simply food or drinks that trail angels left along the trail, or cooked for hikers at a road crossing. Lately though, I've begun to see it more broadly than just those physical things. It could be a smile from another hiker, or a spectacular sunrise, or I could even be the source of the magic. I'd like to think that by talking to various people along the way I've helped to inspire them to dream a little bigger or see the world in a slightly different way, if only for a moment.

Today there were many sources of magic that included both physical gifts (Rainier Beer, root beer, plums, cinnamon rolls, and coffee) as well as other gifts. Hopefully some of the people we ran into today will be inspired to do something more than they thought they could.

The only thing bad about all the wonderful encounters today was the fact that we were trying to get to Snoqualmie Pass and it's warm, tasty treasures that were waiting. We eventually did make it and enjoyed hot food (spicy and temp), hot shower, hot tub, clean laundry, and a room with heating to dry out all of our gear. What a nice thing it is to look out at the cold rain from a climate controlled room!

Sent from the PCT

September 16, 2011

Start: 2347
End: 2376

Not much seemed to happen today, despite the fact that we walked 29 miles. About 8 miles into hiking today we came to a little cabin on the edge of a meadow that was built by the Snojammers snowmobilers club. We checked it out and then made our way back into the forest. Unfortunately there wasn't a fire going in the wood stove, but it was nice to sit down inside nonetheless.

It was cold pretty much all day, with a few times where the sun came out to give us a little of it's warmth before hiding away behind the clouds again. Other than that it was a pretty neutral day, nothing either good or bad.

Tomorrow we will reach Snoqualmie Pass where I am looking forward to hot food, a hot shower, laundering my clothes (warm from the dryer), and getting my final pair of shoes, as well as socks, waterproof shell gloves, and my food resupply box. It's going to be grrrrreat!

Sent from the PCT

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Who is reading?

Hello bloggies and blogites! I have been diligently keeping you informed of my latest happenings along the trail for the past 5 months and I wanted to make a request of those who have been reading my blog: leave a comment on one post that you particularly enjoyed, found interesting, or that made you think about something in your own life differently. Thanks, I truly appreciate it!

September 15, 2011

Start: 2319
End: 2347

Today started with a wet tent, although I don't think it actually rained. I guess that's what happens when you sleep in a cloud-forest.

After shaking out the fly and getting packed up, we hit the trail, and for the first time in almost 200 miles it actually felt like I was hiking in the great state of Washington. Views were limited to a couple hundred feet, everything was wet with dew, and we were decked out in our rain gear. The situation didn't change much throughout the day, although we did see a few sun breaks with one actually passing across us for a brief moment. Despite being gray all day, it was still good. Perhaps my opinion will change, but for now, the gray is not so bad.

Sent from the PCT

September 14, 2011

Start: 2303
End: 2319

It was a leisurely morning as 12 Ounce and I sorted through our food, ate breakfast, and made some gear adjustments before getting back to the trail around 11am.

The first miles went smoothly and we talked to a couple weekenders, continued on, and ran into a couple of my coworkers who were in the planning stages of replacing a trail bridge. It's always fun to run into new people and talk to them and see what they are up to, whether they are day hikers, weekenders, section hikers, or other thrus. Some people just get it, while others, well, not so much. The people that "get" why we are thru hiking are usually the most fun to talk to because they have their own stories or dreams of hiking somewhere on the PCT. The people we saw today definitely got it.

The plan for today was to get in 20 miles, but plans have a way of changing unexpectedly. After lunch at Pipeline Lake we set out hiking again and were headed North, when a couple of wrong turns had us near Jug Lake, a couple miles from the PCT. After some GPS locating and looking at the map, we figured out the direction we needed to go and ended up doing a nice alternate route by Jug Lake and Fryingpan Lake before reuniting with the PCT. It was nice to get back to a familiar trail and get going the right direction again.

After a few more miles we neared Fish Lake and started to see a change in the weather. Clouds were rolling in from the west, and for the first time it actually started to feel like Washington. The temperatures have dropped a bit lately and the incoming clouds completed the transition. A couple miles more up the trail it was getting dark so we set up camp near Free Range and another couple for the night. Tomorrow the goal will be to make up some miles we missed out on today.

Sent from the PCT

September 13, 2011

Start: 2280
End: 2303

"Oh my goodness!"
"This is amazing!"
These are three of the things I repeated often today as we continued to hike through the Goat Rocks Wilderness.

It all started this morning as we were packing up camp near the headwaters of the Cispus River. We looked across fields of lupine to the West and saw Mt St Helens glowing with the first hint of sunlight on it's crater lip, while the near full moon lingered just above. As we climbed out of the meadow we were treated to views of our second volcano of the day, Mt Adams. Adams also had the early morning glow from the sun rays striking it's snowy flanks. Then it was snowgrass flats, followed by yet another volcano (Rainier) and up and up until we were perched at the top of the knife edge ridge near Old Snowy Mtn. I could go on and on, but I really shouldn't. I will simply say that if you have a free day or weekend you should go for a hike up to Snowgrass Flat. Do it! I promise, you'll like it (pending weather of course).

Sent from the PCT

September 12, 2011

Start: 2249
End: 2280

We made our way today from the west side of Mt Adams up into the Goat Rocks Wilderness today. We had some nice views of Mt Adams in the morning, and could even just make out the faint silhouette of Mt Rainier through the smokey haze. Soon after, we entered some dense forest and didn't have much variation in hiking other than trees which had fallen across the trail that we had to climb over, duck under, or walk around.

Just at the end of this section we passed a trail junction to Wahtum Lake, and then began to climb up toward Nannie Ridge and into the heart of the Goat Rocks Wilderness.

I have been eager to get to the Goat Rocks for a while now. For a couple years I have been wanting to get up here to see a part of the GP that people rave about. It is also one of the favorite places on the entire trail for PCT thru-hikers. As soon as we crossed over the next ridge I could see why.

The last few miles were almost magical as we made our way over Cispus Pass by moonlight and found a soft grassy place to camp in a meadow. Can't wait to see the rest of Goat Rocks tomorrow!

Sent from the PCT

September 11, 2011

Start: 2222
End: 2249

Today we woke up surrounded by huckleberry bushes, because that is where we chose to camp. Within a mile of hiking we had two unexpected, but fun, encounters. The first was when we saw Billy Goat (hiking legend) heading up the trail towards us. We stopped and talked with him for a little bit, and during our conversation he mentioned that he has hiked every mile of the PCT eight times, and over 40,000 miles total! What an incredible and humble man. He told us, "There isn't going to be the Marine Corps band playing for you at the border. You have to enjoy the trail between here and there, that's the good part."

Just after meeting him we came to the 24 Road and ran into two people getting things out of a car. The moment they saw us they asked if we were thru-hikers, and then they proceeded to invite us over to the trail magic they were just setting up. I ate some fruit and a Krispy Kreme (the first and probably only of the trip). After a short time there we moved on so we could keep on pace to meet up with Gangsta Rap at the 23 Road.

The rest of the morning's hiking was pleasant and we got to the road just in time to see Free Range, and meet up with Gangsta Rap while enjoying lunch.

After lunch the three of us hiked on and up toward Mt Adams, still mostly covered in snow, and found a place to camp. Some day I would like to climb Adams, but maybe not til next year.

Sent from the PCT

September 10, 2011

Start: 2197
End: 2222

Today's hiking started with a few miles to and past Big Huckleberry Mountain. We then descended to a spring, refilled our water, and made our way toward Indian Heaven Wilderness.

Upon reaching the wilderness boundary, there were a number of cars parked by the road, not unusual for a Saturday, but one was a Forest Service vehicle, which is more unusual. A few miles up the trail by Sheep Lakes, I ran into Rick McClure (archaeologist on the GP) and chatted with him a little about the hike. He was out leading an archaeological hike about the area, specifically the Indian Race Track.

After lunch at Green Lake, we headed on further, only to discover mosquitos. It wasn't much of a surprise, but they were still just as unwelcome. We sped through the remainder of the wilderness, camping just before the road.

Tomorrow, we meet back up with Gangsta Rap and will hike with her to the border!

Sent from the PCT

September 9, 2011

Start: 2170
End: 2197

Today we got going around 6:45, knowing we had 16 miles to go to get to Wind River where my coworkers were waiting.

The first few miles were easy down to Rock Creek, but then we turned right around and climbed back up another hill before descending once again to Wind River.

From the first few miles I could tell that it was going to be a hot day. It was already a pleasant temperature at 6am, and the humidity hung thick in the air. I'll be the first to admit that I don't like hot, humid weather, but I do prefer it to 40 degrees and raining, as it's likely to do in Washington in September. All I can hope is that the good weather lasts a little longer.

We got to Wind River right at 1pm, but unfortunately most of my coworkers had been there earlier, eaten lunch and moved on before I made it there. Such is life on the trail. A couple of people were still around and still had some food so we took advantage of that treat before heading on. Thanks!

After Wind River, as we approached Panther Creek, we ran into a day hiker sitting next to a tree. She was smiling and we asked her how her hike was going. She said she wasn't out for much of a hike, but rather had come to sit by her favorite tree, which happened to be a large cedar. As we conversed she told us of the Singing Alive workshop where she went to sing to plants and trees with other like minded, and spirited, people. From that experience she came to the realization that she had never asked her favorite tree what her song was. So she had come out that day to ask the tree and listen. It was an interesting experience. Thank you Saliha (Sah-Lee-Hah)

After Panther Creek we started a climb up Big Huckleberry Mountain. It was hot and getting late in the evening so we set up camp a few miles from the top of the climb. It was a good day.

Sent from the PCT

September 8, 2011

Start: 2155 (Cascade Locks)
End: 2170

Today we began the journey anew, after sleeping in and eating breakfast, of course. We got back to the trail at 11:30am and proceeded to walk across the Bridge of the Gods. It was pretty cool to walk across (for free) and look up and down the gorge, and down through the steel grating of the bridge itself, high above the water below. Once on the other side we headed West along Hwy 14 toward Gillette Lake before eventually turning more northward and gaining elevation. With our packs loaded down with Washington gear (different tent and more warm clothes), as well as six days of food, we took the climb nice and easy, getting in a good 15 miles for the day.

Tomorrow it's on to Wind River Work Center (Forest Service) where some of my coworkers are going to be putting on a little lunch potluck in my honor! It's going to be fun to see them after more than four months! (although I'm pretty sure I'm going to be the one who looks the most different.)

Sent from the PCT

September 7, 2011

Zero day

Today, although a zero day, was nonetheless not all that relaxing. I spent the day swapping out gear for other stuff and buying, packaging, and mailing food boxes ahead for the rest of the trip. It's crazy to think I will be in Canada in three weeks... All the way from Mexico.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the trail in Washington up close and personal. I've only heard good things about the scenery (but the weather may be a different story).

Sent from the PCT

September 6, 2011

September 6, 2011

Start: ?? Dee
End: 2155 (about 30 miles to Cascade Locks)

Thank goodness the day is over, it was a rough one. It began nice and early, around 5:30am, which meant about 6 hours of sleep. Not enough for this thru-hiker.
We walked up the rest of the asphalt road, a couple miles, to where the road transitioned to gravel. From there we walked up the road about 10 miles to Rainy Lake where the gravel road turned into a rocky trail; although this did not happen without incident. During the gravel road walk we took one wrong fork and ended up walking an extra 3/4 mile past the correct fork to the end of the incorrect fork where we found ourselves at Black Lake. Since we were there and it seemed like a nice enough lake, we ate lunch and refilled our water before backtracking and going the right direction.

Once back on track we hiked up to a junction where there was a little shelter and, after a short break with a little iPhone research, we decided on a different route that was more direct to Cascade Locks. We took a side trail down to the Herman Creek Trail and followed that down the gorge where we caught a one mile connector trail to the PCT and then Cascade Locks. It was quite a nice hike down, but by the time we got within 5 miles I was ready to be done and eat some food as well as enjoy the next day without hiking. After the past four days I think that it was perfectly reasonable.

After eating a giant burger, onion rings, milkshake, and pie, my mom drove me back to Portland where I would spend the night. Aside from being tired, it was a strange feeling to be driving back to where the trip began. It felt almost as if the trip were over, even though I knew it wasn't. It certainly didn't feel quite right, whatever it was. Perhaps it's just tiredness.

Sent from the PCT

September 5, 2011

Start: 2007
End: ?? Dee (about 31 miles)

Today we started the Dollar Lake Fire Detour. From Timberline Lodge the detour took us back to the Timberline Trail, then East down and up three glacial river canyons to Gnarl Ridge, which, as anticipated from the name, was pretty gnarly looking. Along the way we also walked through Mt Hood Meadows ski area, which was pretty cool! At the Gnarl Ridge trail junction we ran into two day hikers, neither wearing shirts. They were an older couple from the Columbia River Gorge area, who enjoyed hiking around Hood. They were pretty into the fact that we were hiking the whole trail, and as usual they got a kick out of 12 Ounce's name. The husband of the couple said he was going to have a 12 oz can as soon as he got back home.

After that encounter, we took the ridge down to the Elk Meadows trail, following that down to Polallie TH. From there we had a 9 mile road walk along Hwy 35 to Parkdale, then turned onto Hwy 281 toward Dee for another few miles, and finally stopped hiking around 10:45pm when we found some fruit crates along the side of the road to hide behind while we slept. It was the first night on the trail that I felt like I was homeless, but the gravel pullout was surprising comfortable when you're tired. I also got blisters for the first time in 1600 miles due to walking so many detour miles on asphalt.

Not looking forward to waking up early and hiking more roads. Ugh.

Sent from the PCT

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 4, 2011

Start: 2094.5
End: 2007

I was stiff and sore this morning. Not all that surprising considering what I willingly put my body through yesterday. It didn't exactly feel good, but at the same time gave me a lasting feeling of my accomplishment.

After eating a quick poptart breakfast we hobbled onto the trail and made our way toward US Hwy 26 to the Frog Lake trailhead where my parents were meeting us with food! We arrived right on time and, as promised, they had all sorts of snacks.

After the delicious snack break, my mom joined us in hiking the remaining miles to Timberline Lodge. The first segment of the day took us 6 miles to Barlow Pass, just before the Hwy 35 crossing. There, my parents were hosting some trail magic that included homemade cookies, handrolled sushi, sodas, and beer. We also stopped here to eat some snacks before pushing the final miles up to Timberline Lodge. They went pretty easy, except for the last couple which were on sand. As you may have guessed by now, there also happened to be food at Timberline Lodge! There was a farmer's market lunch buffet which we took full advantage of, drinking some beer to wash it down.

While at Timberline Lodge we found out some unfortunate news. The trail on the North side of Mt Hood was closed due to a wildfire, so we would have to detour around the East side. We didn't worry too much about it at the time and headed down the mountain with my parents to relax the rest of the day and stay the night in Welches. It was just what we needed: to not wear packs, and get our feet up for a little while.

Thank you mom and dad!!

Sent from the PCT

September 3, 2011

Start: 2044.5
End: 2094.5

Last night was not exactly as restful as one would hope. Strong winds started up around midnight, tearing a tent stake out of the ground, and leaving the tent falling and flapping on our faces. We tried to sleep a little longer, and at 3:30am we got up, ate breakfast, packed up, and were on the trail at 4:15am to begin our attempt at a 44 mile day.

The stars were amazing, brightest of the trail, and we tried to enjoy them while simultaneously using our headlamps to see the trail ahead, so as not to trip. After about 8 miles we got to Ollalie Lake and attempted to go to the store, which said opened at 7am, but apparently not on Labor Day Weekend. Strange. It was a little bit of a bummer since I was hoping to pick up a couple more candy bars for the day.

After Ollalie we got back on the trail and continued on, mostly through forest for the rest of the day, including a section through the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. We took a 30 minute "lunch" break after 22 miles, while on the Reservation before continuing on.

About 38 miles into our day, we reached Clackamas Lake. It was 5:45pm, and we both had the same thought: what if we go for 50 miles instead of 44? We both liked the idea, and planned out where we would now be heading for that night. By the time we got to Timothy Lake, we were both starting to drag a bit; everything was stiff and a little sore, but we were determined. We continued on to where we originally planned to camp (mile 44) and had a snack before starting an 800 foot climb over the final 6 miles. The last part we didn't speak much, just trudged up the trail. Once we accomplished the goal, we set up camp and proceeded to pass out. It was one of those days when you are sore before you even wake up the next morning. But we triumphed! And the pain we feel is only temporary compared to the memories that will last a lifetime.

Sent from the PCT

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September 2, 2011

Start: 2022
End: 2044.5

What a glorious day! Since we only planned to do 22 miles today, we slept in until 7:30 before getting moving, and finally made it to the trail around 8:30.

We had views of Mt Jefferson for the majority of the day as we passed along it's West flank. Along the way we also ran into many groups of weekend hikers. Not all that surprising since it is the beginning of Labor Day Weekend.

We stopped by a little lakelet for lunch, and while there we talked with a smokejumper for a little bit. He and his crew had parachuted in last night around 6pm and took care of a small fire burning a little ways north of where we were. When I asked him how close the fire was to the PCT, he said about 100 feet. So I guess my post from yesterday was incorrect, but in my defense, the fire was only a few meters in diameter.

Just before the end of hiking for the day we crossed over a ridge, saying goodbye to the panoramic view of Mt Jefferson and getting our first good view of Mt Hood. We could even just make out the silhouette of Mt St Helens in the distance! It would have been a better view had there not been smoke from some other fire obscuring the view with its haze. The good thing about the smoke is that it makes for some amazing sunsets!

Sent from the PCT

September 1, 2011

Start: 2007
End: 2022

Today started in a similar manner to yesterday, but finished in a more productive way. Yesterday, a friend of 12 Ounce, Hilary, came over to Bend to visit, and the three of us slept in and went out to breakfast before going back to Mat's house to pack up our gear. Hilary was kind enough to give us a ride back to the trail on her way back to Newport. She even hiked a few miles with us! Thanks Hilary!

After we parted ways, 12 Ounce and I continued up the trail past Three Finger Jack, and on to Rockpile Mountain. Since we got a bit of a late start, we camped at Rockpile Lake after only 15 miles. It is really nice to get to camp early and just hang out for a bit before getting bundled in the tent. There are also much fewer bothersome bugs here, which makes it possible to hang out outside of the tent!

Along the hike today we caught glimpses of the Three Sisters, Mt Washington and Mt Jefferson, as well as a wildfire that is burning NE of Mt Washington. We also heard there is a wildfire burning in the Mt Jefferson Wilderness (our current location) but not near the PCT.

Tomorrow we expect to get in a few more miles than today and set ourselves up for an attempt at a 44 mile day. Should be interesting!

Sent from the PCT

August 31, 2011

Zero day in Bend

Usually zero days in town are spent doing various things, like buying food for the next leg, uploading pictures, and similar tasks. This was not the usual zero day. The goal for today was to do as little as possible, and I think we did a pretty good job in accomplishing that goal. Aside from eating our way through Bend, we hung out in a park by the river, went to the farmer's market, and watched part of a movie before falling asleep around 10:30pm. It was great, and I could easily do it again tomorrow, but the trail calls me back into the wild.

Thanks to Mat for hosting us while in Bend! The break from the trail was just what we needed!

Sent from the PCT

August 30, 2011

Start: 1982
End: 2007

Today we woke up, and much to our surprise, the liquid water near where we camped had frozen! It didn't feel all that cold, but apparently the temps are beginning to drop. We got an early start at 6:15 and headed down to Lava Lake CG/TH where we heard there was trail magic. There we came across a mesh net tent setup with sodas, beer, and snacks. We enjoyed some of the offerings and talked with the trail angel Lost-and-Found.

We continued on through a large lava field with views of Mt Washington to the North, and the Three Sisters to the South. We made our way toward Mt Washington, where we ate lunch at the bottom of a downhill trail section. After lunch we cruised through the rest of the miles to get to Hwy 20 where we planned to meet our ride.

Mat Barnett, a fellow engineer for the Forest Service, picked us up and drove us into town where we stopped in at REI before heading to dinner at BBC (Bend Brewing Company). It was great to have food prepared for us, instead of using our one-pot, alcohol-stove cooking methods. We then went back to Mat's place where we got cleaned up and did some laundry before falling asleep... In a bed! Great way to start the short break in Bend! Thank Mat!

Sent from the PCT

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 29, 2011

Start: 1953
End: 1982

Today was really cool! There were amazing views all day, including up close views of Mt Bachelor, Broken Top, and the Three Sisters, as well as more distant views of Mt Washington, Three Finger Jack, Mt Jefferson, and Mt Hood just visible on the horizon. We also walked through an area littered with obsidian, sparkling like diamonds in the late afternoon sun, but the moment that really topped off the day, a proverbial cherry, was the amazing sunset as we climbed through a red lava field leading up to Opie Dilldock Pass. The Three Sisters Wilderness is definitely a place I would like to come back to to explore more thoroughly, and possibly bag a few peaks at the same time.

I guess today goes to show that it's really all about the journey, and not so much the destination. If my goal was simply to get to Opie Dilldock Pass (a fun name to say, admittedly) than I'm sure that I could have found a quicker route, but that's not the point. Just like the point of hiking the PCT isn't solely about being physically present at the beginning and ending points. While important, they certainly aren't the defining part of the hike. It's being present and aware of all the stuff that happens along the way that makes it special, including the people you meet, the places you see, the ridiculous stories you hear, or losing the trail and almost going over the wrong pass.

"When you have presence
You don't have to say too much
Radiate AWESOME"

Sent from the PCT

August 28, 2011

Start: 1926
End: 1954

Today we entered into the Three Sisters Wilderness. There have been a lot of mosquitos, but also a lot of lakes! For some reason it seems like the mozzies are worse on the trail than they are at the lakes, so we planned each break to correspond with a lovely lake. There have also been a ton of huckleberries, mostly in the burned areas that receive an abundance of sun. They are a delicious distraction, but there just isn't enough time to pick them if we are to hold to the schedule we set for ourselves.

While hiking, we spend a fair amount of time talking about random subjects each day, but one that is currently in my mind was about cliches. Certain ones like, "it's not the number of breaths you take, but the number of moments that take your breath away," and "money can't buy happiness," or, like a song says, "live like you were dying." The longer I'm out here, the more they seem to ring true, rather than remain just a witty saying or lyric in a song. I find that there is some validity behind those cliches, which originally led to their wide usage, and hence their transition to cliche. (a vicious cycle.) Reevaluating these played out sayings makes me realize how important it is to take a break from regular life every once in a while, even if that's just to go out for a walk or run, or tend to a garden. I've also heard a lot of people say, "I wish I would have hiked the PCT when I was younger," to them I say: there's still plenty of living left for all of us to do. Make time to do something for you!

Sent from the PCT

August 26, 2011

August 26, 2011

Start: 1881
End: 1912.7

Mosquitos. Everywhere. From morning 'til night, they sing their high pitched song right in my ear. On the bright side, it makes it easier to take shorter breaks during the day; on the less bright side, it makes it more difficult to get out of the tent in the morning. We heard news from a SOBO (southbound) thru-hiker that the bugs are gone once we get past Mirror Pond by the Three Sisters! I won't believe it until I see it with my own eyes, and hear the sweet silence with my own ears, but it is a wonderful thing to dream about...

Today we walked through the Diamond Peak Wilderness, which was pretty spectacular. We had views of Mt Bachelor, the Three Sisters, Three Finger Jack, and Mt Thielsen as we climbed toward Cowhorn Mountain. Beyond Cowhorn we made our way down to Summit Lake for lunch before ascending the shoulder of Diamond Peak.

On the way up the peak we saw a snowboarder and skier who had apparently climbed Diamond Peak and rode down on the large snow fields that are remaining on the East side of the peak. We also met some weekend hikers who looked like they had been through hell between the climb from Hwy 58 and the mozzies. They were still in good spirits and we wished them luck with the bugs while they eyed our headnets enviously.

Once past them we started a long descent down to the trail junction to Shelter Cove Resort where the next resupply package is waiting. We ended up running most of the way and made it to the junction just before it got dark. More food tomorrow! And possibly pizza!

Sent from the PCT

August 27, 2011

Start: 1913
End: 1926

The first order of business for the day was picking up resupply boxes at Shelter Cove, so we walked the 2.2 miles down the side trail to the resort. Located on the shores of Odell Lake, the resort serves RV campers, fisherman, and has cabins and campsites for rent. Fortunately for us, they also hold resupply boxes for hikers. Unfortunately, when we asked for our boxes (addressed to Madeline Yacoe / Alex Asai) the said they had only one. This was the second time in a row that this happened. The first box was labeled with both last names, and the second one got labeled with 'Daly', taken from the return address line. Identical boxes, but different interpretation. Either way, we ended up getting both of them. While hanging out at Shelter Cove we enjoyed breakfast burritos and took in the view of the lake, without mosquitos. Then, we walked back up to the trail where the mosquitos were waiting for us, of course.

We packed up the rest of our stuff and walked a little over a mile to Hwy 58. Once at the highway we turned left, rather than continue across the road and up the trail, because we heard there was a pizza restaurant at Willamette Pass Ski Area that is open on the weekends during the summer. Our tireless 0.2 mile detour was rewarded by the affirmation that the restaurant was indeed open. We headed in and took a seat in the food area and proceeded to figure out what to order. We split a pitcher of Long Line Rye beer (Oakshire brewery) and a pizza, followed by a scoop of black cherry ice cream in a cone (one each, of course). We also used the time to charge up some electrical devices (such as the one I am currently writing on) and finally made our way back to the trail around 2:30pm. Not a bad start to the day!

When we got around to hiking, it was great too! We passed by the Rosary Lakes, where we stopped in a rare mosquito respite to clean some of the dirt, sweat, and bug carcasses from our skin, prior to continuing on up the trail, only to discover more bugs. We made it a little further to Bobby Lake for water, and then continued on a couple more miles before calling it a day. We may not have hiked many miles, but at least we thoroughly inspected Shelter Cove and Willamette Pass! Looking forward to more mosquito-free lakes!

Sent from the PCT

August 19, 2011

Zero day in Ashland

Today started and ended the way every day should: enjoying good food with good people. This morning we were treated to waffles and fresh fruit, along with the company of Ken, Melissa, and Helena. The rest of the morning was spent doing computer (journal/picture) stuff.

Since Ken had taken the day off, he graciously took us out to lunch and then chauffeured us to the grocery store, so we could buy, and he could take in the spectacle of us buying, resupply food for all of Oregon (18 days). It went fairly quickly, and before we knew it we were back at the house. Soon after, Ken, Melissa, and Helena left for the Loftus family reunion up at Silver Falls State Park.

We continued to box up our food, and Mitzi came over and took us to the Post Office to send the food boxes just before the PO closed, and then took is out to dinner at Standing Stone Brewery.

I know I've said it before, but the hospitality of everyone was fantastic!

Sent from the PCT

August 25, 2011

August 25, 2011

Start: 1856
End: 1881

This morning we passed by the trail junction leading up to the top of Mt Thielsen, but decided to put off climbing the mountain for a future day. From the base of Thielsen we could see the Three Sisters in the distance to the North, as well as Diamond Lake and Peak to the West. The rest of the hiking day was mostly forested and we crossed from the Umpqua NF into Deschutes NF. Bend is getting closer!

On another note, there is a guy, Sam, trying to raise money for Parkinson's research by running/hiking the entire PCT from Canada to Mexico in sixty days starting today! He will need to average 44 miles per day in order to reach his goal. I am very interested in seeing how it goes for him, although I don't know how realistic it is. Regardless, I wish him the best of luck in completing his journey and meeting his monetary donation goal! For more on Sam, check out his website:

As a tribute to Sam, at some point on the trail I am going to try to do one 44 mile day, just to see what it's like. I can't imagine doing that for sixty straight days, though!

Sent from the PCT

August 24, 2011

August 24, 2011

Start: 1830
End: 1856

Today we awoke to more of the same from yesterday. Mosquitos buzzed us and made a full rain suit necessary just for the skin protection and sanity. The climb up to the rim was buggy, but soon after we got up there, they seemed to die down.

It was quite a breathtaking sight to see when we reached the top, and it felt good to be back somewhere that was familiar to me. As we made our way along the west side of the rim we got to see how the lake looks under various conditions. It changed from a silvery color when there were clouds overhead, to a deep blue as the clouds cleared off and the sun shone down upon the deep water. (1932 feet deep, deepest in the US and 7th deepest in the world!)

After hiking the west side of the lake, the trail departed the rim and continued north toward Mt Thielsen. As we neared Hwy 138, we were treated to a lightning and thunder show! It got as close as 1/4 mile, judging by the time between lightning and thunder, and the lightning was nearly blinding, and the thunder rumbled deeply. The thunder has continued off and on the rest of the evening as we are now camped. Luckily the storm(s) didn't bring much rain with their show.

Sent from the PCT

August 23, 2011

Start: 1806
End: 1830

Today was dominated by insects. From the beginning of today until now (laying in my tent) there has been a continuous stream of different annoying pests. It all started with mosquitos, which buzzed us all day, followed by flies at each snack stop, and finally there are crickets or some other such insects that are continuously buzzing/hissing/whoknowswhat. Thank goodness for earplugs!

Today we also hiked into Crater Lake National Park and picked up our resupply boxes, but have yet to actually reach the rim and see the lake. We stopped in at Mazama Village for our boxes and, fortuitously, a buffet dinner at the restaurant. We lounged around for a while prior to heading back towards the trail and finding a place to camp.

Tomorrow I'll see the lake for the first time in 7 months, when it was draped in snow. I can't wait!

Sent from the PCT

August 20, 2011

Start: 1727
End: 1750

Today we got back on the trail after a wonderful time in Ashland. Mitzi gave us a ride back to the trail, and we were off!

The miles seemed to fly by fairly quickly today. Early in the day we passed near Pilot Rock, then continued through the rolling terrain to Hyatt Lake. The reason that things went so quickly for me is due to audio books. I started listening to "Catch Me If You Can" by Frank Abagnale, Jr., and it has been enthralling. The things he was able to get away with are amazing. The book has much more of his story than the movie, I can't wait to hear what happens next!

Just before we got to camp I started thinking a little bit about the end of the trail. I know there are still many miles, but yesterday we worked out our projected schedule for the rest of the trail (projected finish on September 28), and it seems much closer now than it did when we crossed the Oregon border a couple days ago. It's a little to sad to think it will be over in just over 5 weeks, but at the same time doing nothing for a few days in a row sounds pretty good too... Maybe after the Portland marathon. :)

Sent from the PCT

August 22, 2011

Start: 1776
End: 1806

I'd like to take a moment today to talk about food. I know, I know, nothing new here. This time though, it's about the resupplies. It seems that each resupply leads to two situations: feast or famine. Let me explain...

The last resupply from Seiad Valley to Ashland was a feast. I had my resupply box, plus food from two care packages, all of which I wanted to take with me, but more for future resupplies rather than the few days it would take to get to Ashland. It was great. I don't mind carrying a little "extra" weight if it means I can eat anytime I want.

This section, however, from Ashland to Crater Lake, has been the opposite. The first couple days were fine, but I realized yesterday that I only packed three cooked meals, rather than four, and the same for Clif bars. Since realizing this, I have been keeping careful track of what I've been eating so I can spread out my food consumption over the remaing time. It isn't all that big of a deal, but it's not as much fun when you have to ration. You can be sure that hiking out of Crater Lake I will have a feast for the next section!

Sent from the PCT

August 21, 2011

Start: 1750
End: 1776

The miles today were pretty easy. So far since Ashland, things have been flat, or climb gently for no more than 1500 vertical feet. It has also been mostly forested and, therefore, the scenery is essentially unchanging. If variety is the spice of life, than this section is a baked potato without all the accoutrements. That is, until this afternoon...

An old friend made an appearance today: huckleberries! The bushes lined the trail for miles, and while not all bore ripe fruit, there were enough that did, and we snacked on them occasionally, picking as we walked. They were delicious! As another hiker said in a trail register, I might not make it to Washington because of all the huckleberries, but I'm OK with that.

Sent from the PCT

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 18, 2011

Start: 1710
End: 1727
We made good mileage yesterday, leaving us with an easy 17 mile hike to get to the road, and a ride into Ashland. We got started hiking around 7am and almost immediately found a bit of trail magic near Mt Ashland, where a couple of hikers
from years past had left two coolers full of cold sodas! They were delicious! It was all downhill from there, quite literally.
The rest of the miles went easily and we stopped for lunch around noon before hiking the final 4 miles down to the road. Right before arriving at the road we came across our second helping of trail magic for the day. A fellow hiker, Holden, who was taking a couple days off, left some PBR and soda just before Old Hwy 99 crossing. It was great to see, especially since 12 Ounce and I had bought beer for him in Etna and just told him to pass it on!
Once at the road, my great-aunt Mitzi picked us up and drove us into town. We mentioned that we wanted to go to a thrift shop to find outfits to wear to the play that night, so Mitzi suggested the Goodwill, which turned out to be a treasure trove of dapper dress. I will simply let the picture tell the rest of the story.

After Goodwill, we went back to Mitzi's for a late lunch and to get cleaned up before heading over to Ken and Mellisa's for dinner, and then on to the play. The play we saw was "The Imaginary Invalid" and it was fantastic! But perhaps more importantly, we got some great comments on our attire from the other patrons. After the play we went out for FroYo at the Yogurt Hut and then off to bed, well after hiker midnight.
It is always fun to come into towns and experience a little of what they have to offer, which in this case was the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the wonderful hospitality of Mitzi, Ken, Melissa, and Helena. Thank you all!
Sent from the PCT

August 17, 2011

Start: California (1680)
End: Oregon (1710)

Today marked the last day of hiking on the PCT in the great state of California. It was kind of strange, and wonderful, to finally make it through the state, and I found myself in a contemplative mood. After having already passed the midpoint, and with less than 1000 miles to go, I thought that there would be some sort of excitement and fanfare associated with the milestone, but after a short break we just continued walking, the same as I've been doing since April 29. No fireworks, or balloons, or congratulations, not that I was necessarily expecting any of that. Instead I settled for a drink of water and a Clif bar, and then on with the hike.

Next up, Ashland!

Sent from the PCT

August 16, 2011

Start: 1662
End: 1680

It was a rather typical day in Seiad Valley. The dirt was dusty, the air was dry, and the sun was hot. Within minutes of hiking I was dripping with sweat, which glistened like diamonds on my taut, sinewy muscles. -- I apologize for that digression. We just finished reading Brazen (romance novel) and it really got my juices flowing, the creative juices of course.

I also finished listening to an audiobook today, at the opposite end of the literature spectrum: "The Theory of Everything" by Stephen Hawking. It was very interesting to listen to, and really made me think about how small each of us are on a universal scale. It's fascinating to hear Hawking's perspective and explanation of various scientific theories, including general relativity and quantum mechanics, relating to how the universe was created, as well as how God may or may not fit into that picture. This is particularly interesting given that Hawking is on the leading edge of quantum physics as well as a devout Christian. It all leads to current times where scientists are searching for a unified theory of physics to explain everything. The last line of the book is something to the effect that if such a theory is discovered/proven than we will know the mind of God; crazy stuff.

On another note, I picked my first huckleberries of the trip today! They were slightly under-ripe, but delicious nonetheless and they have whet my appetite for the multitudes to come soon I hope! Despite what many have described as one of the worst climbs, as well as hottest of the entire PCT, I found that I enjoyed pretty much all the hiking today, including the climb. It might have something to do with the fact that I feel fully rested again after the 100 miles in 71 hours, but whatever it is, I like it and hope it continues!

A bonus for the day came just after dinner. We had eaten near a road, and just as we were packing up, a truck drove by, stopped, and a woman got out. We weren't sure what to expect, but it turned out that she was a very nice lady on her way from Williams, OR to Seiad Valley, CA to see her boyfriend. And she gave us beer! It was a great way to wind down the day. Truly magical!

Sent from the PCT

August 15, 2011

Start: 1636
End: 1662

Got a slightly earlier start today, but still living by the newly termed, previously discovered, "thorough hiking" concept. Thorough hiking is all about enjoying the hiking part of the day, stopping for little off-trail diversions, and taking lots of pictures!

One of the diversions we took today was stopping at the first crossing of Grider Creek to skinny dip, rinse out some clothes, and enjoy a nice lunch in the shade of the bridge.

Also along the way down, we enjoyed nature's bounty of thimbleberries, wild strawberries, and blackberries! It was a delicious hike, and makes me look forward to the huckleberries we will encounter further north!

The only down side for the day was the 6.4 mile road walk into Seiad Valley, but the berries made up for that I guess. That and the beer when we got into town. Everyone in Seaid has been real friendly!

Sent from the PCT

August 14, 2011

August 14, 2011

Start: 1614
End: 1636

It was really great to sleep in this morning! Didn't get up until the sun rose over a ridge around 7:15. Then had a leisurely breakfast, and made it on trail around 8:30.

Today we hiked through the Marble Mountains, which were pretty spectacular.

Towards the end of the day we did something we haven't done in weeks... Crossed a snow bridge. Yes, that's right, it's August 14 and yet there are still snow bridges on the the trail.

It was a very relaxing day overall, and tomorrow we will get into Seiad Valley!

Sent from the PCT

August 13, 2011

Start: 1606
End: 1614

What a great feeling it is to sleep in a bed and not be awoken by an alarm in the morning! After sleeping in, 12 Ounce and I rode bikes down to Bob's Ranch for breakfast, where we joined two other hikers, Chilidog and Seahorse. It was a really good breakfast consisting of an omelette, hashbrowns, biscuits and gravy, and coffee.

After breakfast we went back to the hiker hut and repackaged our food for the trail. We also used the wi-fi to post journals and take care of a few other things, like buying new shoes for Oregon. While hanging out there with the other hikers, Goodness made a great comment, which will serve as the quote of the day,"I don't mean to be rude, man, but you got a funk." Goodness was referring to another hiker at the hut, who had already taken a shower, but his gear had yet to be washed and it was giving off a pungent, rancid odor that permeated the hut.

Around 3:30, we packed up and got a ride back to the trailhead, and started hiking about 4pm. Having a leisurely 56 miles to do in the next two and a half days, we ambled up the trail about 8 miles before stopping to eat dinner and set up camp.

Currently I am laying underneath a blanket of stars and just watched one of the brightest and slowest moving satellites I have ever seen. It's good to be back to enjoying a more relaxed hiking pace and viewing the stars!

Sent from the PCT

Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 12, 2011

Start: 1583
End: 1606

Last night we got into camp at 9:30pm, asleep around 10, and up again this morning at 5am. This is not my idea of a good time, however some times sacrifices must be made.

It was a bit of a push, running the last couple miles, but we made it to the trailhead by 3:30pm and proceeded to try to get a hitch about 45 minutes later. While waiting for the hitch, much to my surprise, there was a helicopter in the small parking area, and a few members Forest Service fire crew, distinguishable by their green cargo pants and yellow shirts. Apparently there was a small lightning fire that had been smoldering for about a week and they were sending a crew in to take care of it.

We ended up getting a ride in to town just in time to make it to the PO, 15 minutes before they closed, to get our packages, then went next door for an old fashioned ice cream soda at the pharmacy (unfortunately they were out of chocolate), and then to the brewery for dinner, where we ran into the other hikers in town. The timing of everything worked out perfectly.

After dinner we headed to Alderbrook Manor and their Hiker Hut. The hiker hut was full, but they had rooms in the B&B for a discounted hiker rate, so we opted for that, since the only motel in town had no vacancies.

What a full series of days; 100 miles in 71 hours. Ready for some sleep!

Sent from the PCT

August 11, 2011

Start: 1549
End: 1583

Today was another long day of hiking, and a new PR. I would say that setting a new PR two days in a row is not advisable if you want to actually enjoy hiking.

On the plus side, you are up before the sunrises, and so get to see it rise, and also up after the sun sets, so get to see that too. Hiking into night is also good if you want to see the moon and the stars, which we kind of did since it was the night of the Perseid meteor shower.

On the the negative side, since you are up before the sun rises and after it sets, you don't get much sleep. You also get achey feet and other random muscle and joint pains.

There seems to be a big difference between hiking 28 miles and 30+ miles, despite the numbers being so close. It is fairly easy to get in 28 and feel good at the end of the day, enjoying most or all of the miles hiked. Once you get above that threshold, it seems to immediately be less fun because you are constantly looking at the watch to make sure you aren't taking breaks that are too long, and that you are still on pace. I feel like that is how a lot of hikers see the trail. Each day is a race to get in as many miles as possible, no time for fun or diversions of any kind. If you're not enjoying the hiking part of the thru-hike, what's the point?

Sent from the PCT

August 10, 2011

Start: 1516
End: 1539

Agh! I just erased this entry as I was trying to post! I'll do my best to remember what I wrote...

Today was a new hiking PR of 33 miles! It started with a rather long climb on a series of ridges, seemingly connected like one of MC Eschers drawings, constantly going up.

This section has already had much better views than the last, including Castle Crag, and views of the Trinity Alps. There were also a few lakes, most of which we saw from high above, but a couple we passed right by, which would have been nice for swimming had we the time to spare.

It was a very long day, and my feet were telling me so by the time we finally set up camp around 9:30. On the bright side, we GET to do the same thing again tomorrow!

Sent from the PCT

August 9, 2011

Start: 1506
End: 1516

Today was a rather lazy day of sleeping in, eating an incredible breakfast, and taking care of a few things, like posting journal entries. After breakfast we hung out on the front porch, enjoying the slow pace of life on the Ranch.

Finally around 3:30pm, we got a ride back to the trail with Jeff, and were on our way about 4:30. We got in a solid 10 miles, leading us to a campsite at aptly named Disappearing Creek. Tomorrow we begin our day with a steep climb, gaining 2500' in the first 4 miles. It will be good to do in the morning when it is cooler and our bodies are fresh! Only 90 more miles in the next three days, by 4pm on Friday to get to the PO in Etna to go!

Sent from the PCT

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August 8, 2011

August 8, 2011

Start: 1478
End: 1506

Today was another day of woodsy hiking, punctuated with seldom, but great, views of Mt Shasta. We were up early and on the trail in an attempt to get to Castella for our resupply boxes, and Shasta City to the B&B.

The hiking was fairly mundane and we made it to Interstate 5 just after 6pm to be picked up by 12 Ounce's uncle's cousin's partner Carla. When she picked us up, we went first to Castella, and then she asked if she was taking us to the ranch, which we assumed meant the B&B, so we said yes. When I thought of what the B&B would be like, I was picturing a small little house in downtown Shasta City with a few rooms. As we drove into the city, we passed through the main drag, and then turned left toward more open land. It soon became apparent that we were indeed headed to a ranch. We pulled up to the main house which has a huge front porch, complete with wicker furniture, coffee tables, an American flag, wind chime, telescope, and a breathtaking view of Mt Shasta. We were given a short tour and shown to our room in the Carriage House, behind the main house. My expectations were far surpassed, and I find I am constantly surprised by the generosity of strangers. If you would like to know more about it, you can check out the Mount Shasta Ranch at

The proprietors, Mary and Bill, provided us with pizza and salad when we arrived, which we ate with the fanciful ales picked up at Ammirati's Market in Castella. For dessert we had some chocolate cake, and then other patrons gifted us some leftover BBQed pork tenderloin and fresh strawberries. Everything was more wonderful than I ever imagined. If you want to have your faith restored in the goodness of strangers, hike the PCT. Gotta love trail magic.

Sent from the PCT

August 7, 2011

Start: 1447
End: 1478

As expected, Northern California has given us a lot of forested hiking, today being no exception. The good thing about being the Pacific CREST Trail, is that often times the trees part to give way to fantastic vistas. This morning we had numerous views of
Mt Shasta before descending once again into the trees.

Due to a slight miscalculation, we need to hike about 60 miles over the next two days to make it to Castella around 6pm Monday. We got a bit of a late start, and so only did 31 today, but hopefully we can start earlier tomorrow in order to get to town early enough to pick up our resupply package from a local business, and make our way to a bed and breakfast that is owned and operated by 12 Ounces great-aunt.

That said, it's fast approaching hiker midnight, I'm exhausted, my feet are tired, and I have many miles to do tomorrow before town.

Sent from the PCT

August 6, 2011

Start: 1424
End: 1447

Today I felt refreshed and renewed after a half-day off in Burney. The hiking was pretty easy and we enjoyed mostly shaded trails through the forest.

One of the things I look forward to while hiking is getting nice cold refreshing water. The best water sources however are springs. The past week or two we have happened upon springs a number of times. The water just magically comes out of the ground, nice and cool and clean. I really enjoy and drinking as much of the pure tasting water as possible right from the source before filling up bottles to take with me.

As we approached the end of our hiking day, walking through the forest, all of a sudden we came to a clearing to see the sunset casting it's colors on the clouds, with a view of Mt Shasta prominently positioned in the middle. It was all the sign we needed to set up camp right there and enjoy the view.

Sent from the PCT

August 5, 2011

Start: 1410
End: 1424

This morning we got going about 7:30 on our way to Burney Falls State Park where I was meeting up with my parents at noon.

We had about 14 miles to do for the day and, as usual when I set a deadline for myself, I was a bit anxious about making sure of getting there at the time I said. I was rushing and stressing myself instead of enjoying the hike. Along the way as I was speed-hiking, I remembered a line from the book Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen. Greg is talking to the village leader about building a school in the Pakistani village and Greg is in a hurry to get going on it so they can have it up by the time the snow hits. The village leader responds by saying, "Our village has gotten along just fine for 600 years without a school, what's one more winter." In my version, I haven't seen my parents in 3 months, and want to see them, but another half hour isn't all that big of a deal in contrast to the 3 months that have already passed. So I slowed down, relaxed, and enjoyed the rest of the hike.

As we entered the park, about 1/2 mile from the bridge to the actual waterfall and park headquarters, we ran into another hiker. He had apparently been searching for the store for 30 minutes, to no avail, so he could pick up his resupply package. He was frustrated with his GPS not getting him where he wanted to go, and as we got closer, insisted that we were on a trail parallel to the PCT and therefore not in the right place. Technically he was right, but I could see on my paper map that we were supposed to follow a trail along the creek for a while until we came to and crossed a footbridge. My eyes told me that we were getting close since we were following the creek, and pretty soon, sure enough, we came to a trail junction with a large brown park sign that said BURNEY FALLS. Apparently it turns out that even a GPS can't save you from yourself, and sometimes a little common sense and being aware of your surroundings can go a long way. This is a lesson that I have learned many times already on the trail, and will probably have the opportunity to learn again in the next 1200 miles.

Once at the park, I found my parents and we had a feast of fresh food, followed by a trip to the town of Burney, more food, and a room at one of Burney's finest motels. It was a lot of fun to see my parents and catch up on what else is going on with the family, as well as tell them some stories about the hike. What a great day!

Sent from the PCT

August 4, 2011

Start: 1382
End: 1410

Today we hiked along Hat Creek Rim. According to various sources it is one of the driest and most dreaded sections of the trail because of the constant sun exposure for about 20 miles, and lack of water for 29.6 miles.

During the first part of the hike, as we headed up from Subway Cave to the rim, we caught our first glimpse of Mt Shasta. We would have spectacular views of Lassen and Shasta all day.

The hike itself was pretty mellow. It was dry and warm, but it didn't seem any worse than what we had already been through in Southern California. It was fairly monotonous, and by the end of the hike along the rim I was ready to drop back down to the lava fields. One of the bright spots of the stretch was a water cache! It is so great to come across a cache on the long waterless stretches and enjoy drinking water that you didn't have to carry yourself.

We ended up just a mile or two shy of the next water at the end of the day, but still got in a solid day. Tomorrow it's on to Burney Falls State Park and seeing my parents for the first time since they dropped me off at the border three months ago!

Sent from the PCT

August 3, 2011

Start: 1353
End: 1382

I forgot to mention yesterday that I saw my first bear of the trip! It was just a small bleached hair black bear, but pretty cool to see. It ignored us completely as it was breaking apart a downed log that must have been full to tasty grubs and bugs.

Today we hiked from Drakesbad to a place called Subway Cave. The hike during the day was pretty flat and we passed by some enticing lakes, but there were also a lot of mosquitos. Most of the time when hiking the mosquitos aren't too bad, but when you stop, they find you quickly. Today they were feasting on us as we walked, so I had to don my rain pants for some relief. The hot, rainforest feel of the rain pants on bare, sweaty legs, although miserable, was preferable to the biting mozzies.

After we got past the lakes, the mosquitos mostly disappeared and we were able to hike the rest of the day unmolested.

The end of our hiking day came when we got to the Subway Cave trail junction. The cave itself was located 0.4 miles from the PCT, and also happened to be the last reliable water we would see for 29.6 miles. We camped near the trail junction and walked down to the parking lot, where we got water, and went into the cave.

The cave was actually a lava tube, kind of like the Ape Caves near Mt St Helens. This one wasn't as long, but it was wide and had a couple chambers off the main channel formed by the different ways the lava flowed. Although it is really close to the trail and took only an hour total to walk there, walk through the cave, fill our water, and make it back to our campsite, it is something that most PCT hikers probably just blow by without stopping to check out. It seems they are all in some great hurry to get done, and get back to work? Who knows. HYOH

Sent from the PCT

Friday, August 5, 2011

August 2, 2011

Start: 1339
End: 1353

Hiked a relatively easy number if miles today to get into Drakesbad around 2:30pm. That place was amazing. We were greeted by the owner, Ed, with a big hug, and then given hiker kits which included a towel, washcloth, soap, laundry bag, and loaner clothes! We enjoyed the food, hot spring fed pool, and general hospitality of the place. Amazing!

The quote below, taken from the front of the PCT register at Drakesbad says it all:

Wander a whole summer if you can. Thousands of God's blessings will search and soak you as if you were a sponge, and the big days will go by uncounted.

If you are business-tangled and so burdened by duty that only weeks can be got out of the heavy laden year, give a month at least.

Time will not be taken from the sum of life. Instead of shortening, it will indefinitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal.
-John Muir

August 1, 2011

Start: 1311
End: 1339

Today I woke up. I woke up on the wrong side of the tent. I just felt sleepy all day, wanting only to take a nap, but knowing that many miles needed to be hiked before sleeping. I was probably not much fun to be around. The thing that is amazing to me is that my legs and body felt fine, like I could hike all day, which I did. It was just a mental fog all day.

Of important note, we crossed the halfway point of the trail! I'm not really sure how I feel about that to be honest. On one hand it's great to have made it 1,325 miles. At the same time, I am three months into a hike that I thought would take 4.5 months, and am only halfway; not so good. I should still make it by the end of September, but it is going to be much closer than I would have liked, and I need to average 25 miles a day for the remaining miles.

On the bright side, tomorrow we get to Drakesbad Guest Ranch. Can't way to get clean and go swimming in warm water! What a concept!

July 31, 2011

Start: 1290
End: 1311

So nice to sleep on a bed last night! Even better was this morning when Brenda brought over chilled watermelon slices and fresh muffins still warm from the oven! After that wonderful surprise, Brenda took Happy Meal, 12 Ounce, and me to the trail.

We started hiking around 6:30am, which was a good thing since it was supposed to get into the mid-90's and we had a 4500' climb over the first 13 miles. It wasn't a bad climb overall and we took a couple snack breaks to split the climb into smaller sections. The only inconvenience about it was the poison oak lining the trail, often times hidden by other brush. Near the top of the climb, after we got above where the poison oak could live, we scrubbed our legs off in a creek.

After the climb, we had a pretty cruisy rest of the day over generally flat terrain. Since we got to sleep late last night after chatting with Happy Meal and Yankee, we decided to have a short day so we could get to sleep by hiker midnight (9pm) and up at 5am, and back on our regular schedule.

We are currently camped at the high point in Butte County. Big mileage day tomorrow where we will have a chance to "scan the Cascade crest that rims the upper Butt Creek canyon," (guidebook) and then on to Drakesbad Guest Ranch the next morning for swimming, showers, laundry, and food!

July 30, 2011

Start: 1271.5
End: 1290

Wow. The sunset last night was amazing! And then there was the heat-lightning lighting up the clouds in the sky to the east, followed by an astounding number of stars, including the milky way, and meteors burning up in the atmosphere.

The sunrise this morning wasn't quite as good as the sky show last night, but still a sight to behold. We again woke up at 5am and were on the trail by 6:15. We had a small climb up to Lookout Rock before flattening out for a while and then descending many thousands of feet down to Highway 70 and Belden.

Once in Belden we made a stop at the Belden Town Resort for a cold drink and an ice cream sandwich before calling the Braatens for a ride to their place. Brenda came, picked us up, and gave us a ride to her place. The Braatens have an extra apartment/house on their property which they let hikers use for showering, cooking, and sleeping. Just down the road at an RV park is a small Café and store, Carribou Crossroads. we spent the afternoon doing laundry, eating, and hanging out at the Café.

Tonight we will stay in town and get a ride back to the trail in the morning. Onto Drakesbad Resort in Lassen NF next! The resort offers showers and laundry to hikers, and are rumored to have hot springs as well!

July 29, 2011

Start: 1240.2
End: 1271.5

Today was the first day hiking day completely snow-free since June 11! What an amazing feeling it is to have real trail under your feet all day. In commemoration of the occasion we one-upped what we did yesterday by doing an ultra-marathon distance today. We completed 50k (31miles)! It's the longest distance I've in one day to date, and I look forward to setting a few more PRs before the end of the trail.

Lately the weather has been warm and we've been wanting to get in bigger miles, so we decided to get up earlier to beat the heat as well as get in more miles. We were on the trail just after 6am and enjoyed a warm morning descending a few thousand feet down to the Middle Fork Feather River and, according to the guidebook, the official end of the Sierras.

It was a fast morning with all the downhill, and we had gotten in 11 miles by 10am. The only problem with dropping elevation is that you usually end up having to climb back up at least as much as you just descended. After a break near the river we started the long, hot climb out of the valley.

It took quite a bit longer to get through the next 9 miles, and I sweat more on the climb than I have since the desert. And it's worse now because it's more humid so the sweat doesn't evaporate as quickly. In addition to the heat, we were dodging poison oak along the sides of the trail whole way up the climb.

Once up the climb we just had little rolling hills of a few hundred feet up and down to finish off the remaining miles. My feet were definitely ready to be done when we found a place to camp. Tomorrow we only have 18 miles to get into Belden! Should be an easy day!

July 28, 2011

Start: 1214
End: 1240.2

Do you ever wake up not intending to walk a marathon, and then do? Well that's what happened today... sort of.

It all started with modest aspirations of getting 25 miles a day for the next three days so we can make it to Belden, and to the trail angels there, the Braatens. We got started a little late at 7am and moseyed along the first part of the day, getting through the last of the big snow patches for the next 500 miles, and 10 miles by noon, off to a little bit of a slow start, not ideal for trying to get 25 for the day. Mentally it's nice to have half or more of your goal mileage done by lunch.

After lunch we continued on and started moving a little quicker, despite the elevation gain. We were able to get 21 miles by 5pm, at which time we stopped to eat a leisurely dinner, knowing there were only 4 more miles for the day. The last miles were easy and mostly downhill, so I threw out the idea that we continue on a little further to get in a marathon for the day. Not only would it mean a little less for tomorrow, but we were both feeling good and willing to keep going a little longer.

We got into camp right at 8pm, ready for a good nights rest before attempting the same again tomorrow! It's good practice for the day when I decide to run an ultra marathon (any distance longer than a marathon).

July 27, 2011

Start: 1197
End: 1214

I hung around the Red Moose this morning to get a solid, calorie-packed breakfast before heading back up the road to the trail around 9am.

On the way back up to the trail I ran into two other hikers from Portland that I haven't seen since before the hike started, Goodness and Zm! We chatted for a brief moment and then headed our separate ways.

The first part of the hike today was a long, gentle climb from 4600' to 7400'. Near the top, 12 Ounce and I stopped for lunch, enjoying the view across the valley as well as down to Sierra City where we had started the day. After lunch we had a little bit more climbing to do, so we continued up and around Sierra Buttes and into the lakes basin area.

We stopped for dinner around 6pm and enjoyed a Mountain House freeze dried dessert after dinner, courtesy of my mom. We did a few more miles after dinner and watched the sun set while walking along a ridge just before finding a place to camp. Another amazing day on the trail.

I should give a shout out to Fatty and Kyle tonight. I know you guys gave the romance novel "Brazen" to me as a joke, but 12 Ounce and I have been enjoying the poorly written book one chapter at a time the past few nights, so thank you. I'll be sure to give it back to you when I'm done so you can return it to your Bobbi Smith book collection.