Friday, July 30, 2010
What a great day...and much needed. As I lay here in this comfy motel
bed in Bend, I think back to how this day transpired. I started
walking before sunrise with the usual swarm close behind. I made my
way past multiple lakes and stagnant ponds until I finally reached the
side trail for elk lake. I strolled down to the resort through a
burned section that was free of Mosquitos....a nice break. At the
resort i ate up and enjoyed good conversation with some sobos. (they
gave me the snow/bug scoop for north). I had thought about staying at
the resort, but decided to give local trail angel Lloyd gust a call.
Lloyd defines the term trail angel. He takes hikers into bend from
multiple stops along the pct, and asks for no money in return. If you
tip him, he donates all of it to the pcta. Truly one of the kindest
people I've ever met. After speaking with him, he agreed to come get
me and take me to town. Once o got here, I was able to get trekking
pole tips and a camera case at the rei, do laundry, buy food at the
grocery outlet, eat pizza, dry stuff out, and get a room at a cheap
motel (with cont. Breakfast). Lloyd even agreed to come get me at
7:15 tomorrow and take me back to the trail. Awesome. I had no plans
on a bend trip, but I needed a break from the Mosquitos and needed a
shower. I am rejuvinated now and ready to tackle the Three Sisters.
More than half way through Oregon now and should be in cascade locks
next thursday. so pleased when things work out well.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
For the first time since Kennedy meadows (mile 700), I'm flying solo
again. This morning, I headed into shelter cove resort for my
resupply, and straightjacket went ahead to resupply in Sisters.
Looking back, I've had a really great run of hiking partners. Before
Kennedy meadows, I hiked on and off with a few people (ie Ishmael,
furniture, rally, mango, disraeli gears, etc), but for the most part i
was going solo. At KM started my run of great hiking partners. Let's
see if I can get it straight:
From KM to Mather Pass I hiked with moleman, guthook, motor, crowdog,
Kerry, ed, and joker
From Mather to Bridgeport I hiked with just crowdog and Kerry
From Bridgeport to tahoe I hiked with just Kerry
From tahoe to bucks lake I hiked with bojangles until ed caught back
up and we all hiked to belden
At belden, ed, bojangles, and I hiked with wander and smiletrain to
Leaving old station I started hiking with ed and sandman and we went
all the way to seiad valley together.
In seiad valley, we picked up straightjacket and the four of us hiked
to Ashland. After Ashland , ed and sandman went ahead and I hiked
with just straightjacket until today when he went ahead.
So here I sit, riding solo with a few people just in front and a bunch
just behind. Walking in central Oregon today was quiet and solitary
(except for the mosquito hum). My mind drifted and I made my way to
29 mile day after enjoying a 3 hour stopover at shelter cove.
Tomorrow i will hit elk lake and probably have a short day. Might
even get a cabin or something.
Came up with some haikus today while hiking:
Demonic little monsters
Kill them all now...DIE!
What is that humming?
Mosquitos are everywhere
I'm going insane.
(obviously I'm starting to go mad)
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
In case you cant read the data point on the map, it says "stagnant
pond". That should give you some idea of how the skeeters were
today. I don't want to be that guy that bitches about them in every
journal entry, but seriously....they get worse every day. I nearly
went insane tonight trying to cook dinner. Anyhoo...diamond mountain
today still had a lot of snow. I couldn't believe that on July 27th I
was still traversing snow fields. Crazy. No compass work or
anything, just lots of drifts. Tomorrow I hit shelter cove resort and
get my resupply. My plan after that is to hit elk lake resort the
following day and possibly get a cabin and shower.
Waking up today to a sunrise over crater lake was quite spectacular.
We walked along the rim for several miles before finally departing and
heading north. Once out of the national park boundary, the Mosquitos
started in full force again. There were just plain awful today. I
just can't verbalize how bad they really are. Imagine trying to walk
with 200 of them orbiting your head...then increase that by an order
of magnitude. We know tomorrow is going to be worse too. Everything
we've heard tells us they won't let up until after elk lake (80 miles
north). Safely in my tent now listening to the steady hum outside.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Yes the Mosquitos were again horendous today...even worse than
yesterday. Yes, I got to walk into mazama and have an all you can eat
lunch...both noteworthy comments for today. Both insignificant as far
as I'm concerned though. At 7 pm tonight I walked up to the rim of
crater lake and gazed out over it's incredible existence. Of all the
amazing sights I have seen and experienced on any trail, sitting up
here now looking out over this wonder of nature has me completely
dumbfounded. The most amazing trail experience ever, short of
finishing the AT. To make it better, I'm camped up on the rim and
will watch an amazing sunrise tomorrow over it. Seriously, it doesn't
get any better. I'm going to submit this journal entry and enjoy this
moment as long as I can...
Today had some good things associated with it: waking up in a nice
shelter, easy walking with no big climbs, great views, big miles,
etc. BUT...these are all moot points as the day can be summed up with
one word. There is one word that can describe how every step of every
mile went today. There is one word to describe nearly every thought
that obsessed in my mind today. That word: Mosquitos.
The worst Mosquitos I've ever dealt with, period. Had pants on, rain
shell, bathed in 100% deet, headnet....didn't matter. Swarms of the
horrendous bloodsuckers followed me all 38 miles. Stopping to get
water became a game of how furiously fast can I fill up before going
mad. Any tiny amount of exposed flesh was bitten multiple times. Each
swat on a sleeve or leg resulted in 5 or 6 dead villains on my hand.
It was awful. I couldn't wait to set up my tent and dive in, so that
I could finally breathe. Ugh. Straightjacket and I barely talked to
each other all day....we simply moved trying not to notice the clouds
of vampiric demons hovering over us.
Good news is that in 22 miles tomorrow, I'll be staring out over the
rim of crater lake! (after a eating at the mazama pizza buffet!).
Friday, July 23, 2010
Hanging out here at an AT style shelter after a solid 32 mile day.
Spent two hours eating at the hyatt lake resort and then enjoyed some
very easy walking. Hiked with straightjacket while sandman and ed
went on. Today is my three month anniversary on the trail and so i
would like to again bring up my heart association memorial page. If
you feel like donating, check out www.hike4dad.com.
Crater lake is only 65 miles away and everyone is getting excited.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Reluctantly, we left ashland today after taking our sweet time about
it. At 2:30, we started walking after getting a ride back from a
local trail angel. Lazily, we mustered 11 miles before stopping at a
convenient spring early. It's always a bid tough that first day out
of a town. We are all excited about the upcoming crater lake national
park in a few days but are nervous about the hellish Mosquitos we keep
hearing about just north of here. Tomorrow will be a normal full day
again. I'm tired tonight as my pack is loaded with food to carry me
to shelter cove resort. 410 miles of Oregon left :-)
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Made it into ashland today by noon after a record 23.4 miles before
lunch. Did the usual running around and am now going to get a coffee
and see "inception" at the theatre. We are heading out tomorrow
afternoon sometime...maybe. Retiring the 1200 mile Brooks cascadia
5's today. They still have life too. Best trail runners ever made.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Today, after hiking 30 miles, we rounded a corner and came to the
small sign on a tree that marked the OR/CA border. I'm not sure how I
feel to finally be done with the 1700 miles of California. Partly
relieved, partly excited. I thought it was fitting that moments
before continuing on into Oregon, I was stung by a bumble bee...as if
it were cali's final FU to me. Tomorrow we head into Ashland where I
will probably take a day off. Definitely feeling a little homesick
tonight too...and a part of me wants to call it "done" here.
In Oregon...wow, still sounds weird.
Less than 1000 miles to Canada! That's right, today we hit mile
1663. Also, we went through seiad valley, the last town in
California....and home to the 5 lb pancake challenge. I gracefully
declined the challenge, and had a avacado burger instead. Tomorrow
evening we should hit the Oregon border...finally. We've caught up to
straightjacket and he's hiking with us to at least Ashland. Can't
wait to see that OR sign.
Great day out of town today. We went to bobs ranchhouse for
breakfast, and got a ride back up to the trailhead by 9:15. We all
wanted to set ourselves up for an early afternoon arrival into seiad
valley, so we hiked pretty fast. At 7 pm, we arrived at paradise lake
pretty tired, but with a manageable 25 tomorrow (mostly all
downhill). No one has decided yet on the pancake challenge at the
cafe that features 5 enormous pancakes weighing a pound each! If you
finish them all, they are free and you get bragging rights. Whatever
I decide to do, it is exciting to be near the last town in Cali, and
with only 65 miles to Oregon! The marble mountains today were
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Well, here we are in the last real trail town in Cali. With less than
100 to Oregon, I have been having some mixed feelings. The trail has
been beautiful, but I'm ready for a new state. In two days we walk
through the small village of seiad valley (the last overall town in
Cali), where there is only a small cafe and store. Seiad valley is
the hottest town on the pct, with temps usually well over 100 in
July. By Wednesday, I hope to be standing at the sign that says,
"Oregon". The hiker hut here in etna is great. Bunks to sleep in,
hot showers, and loaner clothes. Went to dottys for a jumbo shake,
and then hit the local micro brewery for a blackberry blonde beer.
Also, there is a bluegrass festival in town tonight. Good times....
Another 30 plus day...that's five in a row now. Today we made the
4000 foot climb up into castle crags state park and eventually the
trinity national forest. All of the snow worries proved to be nothing
and most of what was left had melted! Yay! This means we really are
done with snow.
The walking today was beautiful, reminded me a lot of the Colorado
trail. Lots of ridgeline walking, and good views of Shasta still.
Enjoyed a long break at deadfall lake. Tomorrow should be another
long one, no real big climbs or descents. I really love this section
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Another plus 30 day...and this one even had a three hour stopover in
castella! The three of us motored through the 24 miles this morning
and made it to castella by 1:45. After a three hour rest, replete
with tri-tip sandwiches and ice cream, we walked the flute trail out
of town back up to the pct. We talked with the ranger about snow at
castle crags state park. She told us it's not that bad. During the
few miles we did tonight, we had great views of the castle crags
(pic). Next stop...seiad valley (or maybe etna). Knock on wood, no
Mosquitos tonight (so far)
Holy crap. This makes three plus-30 mile days in a row. The terrain
has been relatively easy, but it's still hard to believe we've covered
104 miles in three days. I've done all three with ed and sandman.
There is only one true thru-hiker shard of is right now
(straightjacket) and he is only one day up. Tomorrow, we are all
heading into castella on I-5 to resupply, and then it will be the
final push to Oregon. Today we hit some snow around mushroom rock at
5900 feet. Significant snow too. We've heard the trinity area north
of castella is still pretty snowy, and we get back up to 7500. Might
need that compass again. Doh!
Two big days in a row. Today started with a quick hike up to burney
falls park. When I got there at about 8:30, ed was already there
stocking up. We hung out for an hour eating our share of calories
before heading out. The walking today was a stark contrast to
yesterday. We spent most of it walking through shady, tree covered
forest. It was still hot though. We motored along at a good clip and
the miles flew by. Towards the end of the day, we started getting
wonderful views of Shasta. Eventually, we decided to camp at an
overlook. Tomorrow we will hit some snow again....boooo.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Broke my personal record today with a ridiculous 36 miles. I
purposely got up extra early as today was the notorious hat creek rim
section. This 25 mile bit is super hot, super exposed, and no water.
The hiking was pretty miserable, but it could gave been a lot hotter.
The cool part was the incredible views of both lassen and Shasta and
walking across lava beds. I had meant to camp sooner but the trail
went through a private land easement and I had to hike on to the natl
forest boundary. Broke 1400 today. Oregon is less 285 miles away.
I'm starting to think that it may actually exist after all. :-)
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Super fast and easy day of hiking today. We left our campsite at
5:30, on a mission to make old station by 1 pm. After 21 miles of
super highway style walking, we rolled in at noon. 21 miles by
noon...that's a record for me. Staying tonight with the heitmans,
another trail angel. They haveva great setup here...even have
Internet and a tree house you can stay in! Tomorrow we head up the
hat creek rim, a hot waterless stretch over 30 miles long. We
received a report that the castle craggs area north of here is still
snowy and that the forest service may even have a section closed due
to dangerous snow. Can't be worse than anything we've seen already.
Next mail drop is in castella, 130 miles away. Now...I'm off to lay
in a hammock.
Wow...what a day. After leaving Chester, we hiked a quick and steady
18 miles to the famous drakesbad guesthouse. We were expecting maybe
a little food and a dip in their hot springs. What we got was thru
hiker heaven. After an hour long pool dip, we played a game of
scrabble while the staff brought us hot cocoa. Then for ten dollars,
we had an exquisite dinner. We are talking lamb, salmon, multiple
salads breads, even a bottle of red wine. Every time we would finish
something, the servers would say, " here's some more...we know you
guys are hungry". I seriously thought we must have died on the trail
and been in some kind of hiker heaven. To top it off, we each had
four pieces of iced carrot cake. We left at 8 pm and hiked 3 miles
out, laughing and giggling the entire time.
In all seriousness, drakesbad guest ranch is the greatest hiker stop/
trail magic ive ever received.....ever. Any hiker reading this, DO
NOT SKIP IT.
Tomorrow, it's an easy 20 into old station.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
What a great day. Woke up early, had a nice and easy 20 miler up and
around a 7600 ft peak and down to highway 36. Along the way, we
passed the midpoint marker. It was a great moment. I took some pics,
signed the register, and soaked it in. The snow, while still hanging
around in a few patches, is no longer a factor in the hike. We've
averaged over 28 miles per day for the past 5 days. We gotva quick
hitch into Chester, got a cheap room split three ways (bojangles, and
ed) and I took on the half-gallon challenge. 54 minutes later, I
stood triumphantly, with 64 oz of ice cream on my belly. Hellz yeah.
Tomorrow we enter Lassen national volcanic park, where the road was
just opened due to snow! Looking forward to northern Cali.
It's all down hill from here.....right?
Another fantastic day. Today we caught up to two of the four guys
from the lead pack. Right now there are only two north bounders ahead
of us. Crazy. I also heard that it's 95 degrees back east. Crazy to
fathom when I'm still dealing with snow. Tomorrow is a huge day.
First, we'll hit the half way mark in the morning, then we'll hitch to
Chester and each attempt a half gallon challenge!! Woo hoo. Camping
across from a beautiful and snowy mt lassen. Awesome sunset.
The snow is gone, the afterburners are on. Today was an epic day. We
hiked almost 35 today... That's right, 35! We made a lot of progress
and should now hit Chester by Thursday. The half way point is in 40
miles! Can't wait to celebrate with a half gallon of ice cream. Will
probably hit some snow tomorrow.
My first 30 plus day on the pct. The snow has let up, and the
afterburners are firing. We passed several flip floppers today...
People that flipped up to Ashland. They said snow was bad up near
Oregon border, but that was several weeks ago. It was very hot today,
and is supposed to be for a while. This is great news for whatever
snow might be hanging around. As far as today, we hiked 30, and only
touched snow twice. We never lost trail, and our feet were dry all
day! Now that is a good day. We are going to try a few big mile days
so that we can hit Chester on Thursday afternoon. Chester is at the
halfway point, so there will be ice cream involved. We are sleeping
tonight at 3500 feet. I can't remember the last time I was that low.
Today was a fantastic day. The bad news is that the snow is not over
yet. We had north face snow down to 6200 today. The good news is
that we never got lost today. We did lose the trail several times,
but always knew where to go. Even with the navigating, and leaving
the wonderful town of Sierra city late after breakfast....we did
almost 28 miles. What little is left of the snow is melting super
fast, and I'm pretty confident that the snowy spots north that we
heard about will be gone by the time we are there.
It was nice to have my smaller pack and Brooks shoes back. All in all
my body was happy with me today. Tomorrow, we have a full day of
hiking under 6000 feet, and should end the day at a great swimming spot!
Happy 4th of July everyone!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Well...we made it. We are in Sierra city and enjoying not dealing
with snow. We are all sharing a large apartment...bojangles,
furniture, ed, and a few others. We also met some southbound flippers
who gave us a northbound snow report. Looks like we still have some
more snow ahead. I'm not worried...I'm confident we'll get through
it. Our highest elevation in the next 200 miles is 7600 feet. Next
big town stop is Chester...the half way point. Weird to think about.
Happy fourth of july tomorrow everyone!
Saturday, July 3, 2010
After 500 miles of postholing, sunburn, wet feet, map and compass,
getting lost, losing trail, falling on my ass, crossing insane river
fords.....the snow is finally over (I think). We started today
extraordinarily frustrated. We got off trail over snow and were lost
in dense forest for hours. We finally refound the trail, and had only
a few more potential snowy parts. As we crested a ridge at 8000 feet,
we started a descent that would take us below the 8000's for good.
Within a few hours, we were below 7000 feet with no sign of snow. As
quick as it started almost one month ago, it has hopefully ended.
After Sierra city tomorrow, we do go up to 7300 again, so there is a
small chance of hitting a little more...but as far as I'm concerned,
I've survived the worst. i was at my wits end with the snow. I can
see why many people quit the pct after tahoe. It really wears you
down on a level that I've not experienced before while hiking. Even
in 2008 when I thru-hiked the colorado trail early during a high snow
year, it was nothing like the past month out here.
Well today had it's ups and downs. Started the day with some very
difficult and icy snow traverses. By mid morning, we were walking on
a beautiful exposed ridgeline section near Anderson peak. It was one
of my favorite pieces of trail yet. Just like Franconia. We got to
donner and we walked to the ski lodge for lunch. It turned out to be
closed on Thursdays so we ate our own lunches. While there, I lost my
ass....at donner pass. The small foam pad i was carrying since
kickoff that I used as my butt pad, blew away in some strong winds.
Doh! The the evening got worse. We headed across interstate 80
(which was weird as i80 is the same highway that goes by my apartment
back in PA), and the woods were completely snow covered. South
facing, at a low 7200 feet, and no trail for mlles. This was so
frustrating. It really feels like the snow will never end. Don't
know how much more I can take.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Today was a great day of hiking. Bojangles and i were hoping for big
miles, but not expecting it. We ended up having over 20 miles of
trail and only a handful with snow. After dealing with snow for so
long, having that much trail made for fast and easy walking. Most of
today we hovered around 8000 feet and only had to use compasses
twice. Tomorrow we hit 8700 feet and the don't go over 8100 again.
By this time Friday, we hope to be in Sierra city, celebrating the end
of snowy trail. One thing that has become worse, are the Mosquitos.
Today, we had to use a lot of deet. Part of the reason we managed 28
miles by 6 pm was because we never wanted to stop walking and let the
skeeters get us. From what I understand, they only get worse too.
Started the day with a few hitches out of tahoe. Bojangles and I got
back to the trailhead at about nine and decided to hang together until
Sierra city. We did an easy 20, and said goodbye to 9000 feet as we
hikes over dicks pass. There was a lot of snow, even down to 7400
feet. Lake aloha was beautiful today. Only 80 more miles of
potential snow...although the Mosquitos are really starting to get bad