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.