Monday, June 28, 2010
Ok so, today was a completely unintentional zero day. Bojangles and I
were supposed to head out after lunch with crowdog, but ended up
staying. No biggy. We leave at 6 am tomorrow.
I could talk about tahoe, or the snow, or how badly I miss people from
home...but I'm not going to. Instead I'm going to talk about
something very cool a friend of mine did. Eliza Murphy, someone I met
through ultrarunning and my blog, did something very kind with respect
to my pct hike. I've talked before about my charity website. Part of
the reason I'm out here trudging through snow is to raise money for
the American heart association, in memory of my late father. First
off, eliza was kind enough to put a huge banner on her "ultrarunning
guy" comic blog site for me. I was extremely grateful for this.
Well, it gets better. I received an email from her today saying that
she registered the domain name WWW.HIKE4DAD.COM to my charity site!
How awesome is that?! Now I can give people a simple site to
remember, and hopefully get the word out there a little better.
So thank you eliza, and I am forever grateful for your gifts. The
world needs more people like you.
So...check it out...
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I'm here. In south lake tahoe. Finally.
Today was the ultimate slap in the face. After a killer day
yesterday, Kerry and I started the day on a roll. We hiked up and
around the elephants back, and got to Carson pass by 10 am. We
thoughtbwe were home free. But then, with less than 6 miles to go, we
got lost in the forest. Snow was everywhere and there was no trail.
For hours we wandered trying to identify topo features to take
bearings off of. Finally, after simply heading "north-east" for three
hours, we caught a glimpse of the trail. From there we made our
eventually to a known creek crossing amd finally came out of snow at
almost 6 pm. We were exhausted and losing our minds. I desperately
need the snow to be over....desperately. Might do a half day
tomorrow. Not sure.
First off...yes , the mountain really is called the nipple. (not the
pic). Today Kerry and I walked with the intention of another 25 so
that we have a shot at tahoe tomorrow. After a bit of snow this
morning, we walked over half of the day on trail! This hasn't
happened since before the Sierra. The snow really is almost over.
Because of this, we pounded out a 28 miler and have a nice 22 into
tahoe...should be doable. Cowboy camping tonight at 8900 feet, should
be fun. Thought about the Western States 100 today, hope everyone did
well. I cant wait to get back into my Brooks cascadias again. These
montrail AT Plus shoes are Terrible!
Good bye 10,000!!!. We started the day in Bridgeport at the local
diner. After hearty breakfasts, and multiple cups of the finest java,
we took our "borrowed" truck back up to the leavitt campground. Once
there, we yogi'd a ride to Sonora pass from someone camping. First
off, we climbed the 2ish miles up around Sonora mtn, marking the end
of 10,000 feet. This makes 9,300 the highest elevation remaining.
Today also marked a split in the group. Crowdog wants to make tahoe
early Sunday so that he can get right back out. After 25 miles, Kerry
and I set up camp, and crow pushed on for 5 more miles. Kerry is
getting off the trail for a few days in tahoe anyway and isn't in a
huge rush. I didn't want to go five more (being that it was already 8
pm), and so Kerry and i will be teaming up for the last 50 into
tahoe. Just a few more days of snow...that's what i keep telling
myself. Sierra city is my mental gauge as to when the snow will end
at the latest. (mile 1190 ish)
I pine for the days of long, easy, boring trail. I can't wait for dry
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Great day! Hiked through snow in the morning up to a ridgeline over
10,800 feet. Then, we got to hike for over 5 miles on rocky exposed
ridge. It was some of the best trail yet. I soaked it up. For the
first time in weeks, I was truly happy hiking again. It reminded me a
lot of the Kepler track in new Zealand. We got to Sonora pass at noon
and hitched down to leavitt campground. While trying to hitch the
rest of the way, a super cool couple let us take their truck down to
Bridgeport. That's right, they gave us their truck. We just have to
bring it back tomorrow on our way up! Craziest trail magic yet.
Alteady stocked up in town and we are headed out tomorrow to climb
over 10,000 for the very last time of the trip. On a side note, I
mailed home my bear cannister and ice axe today...making my pack three
Wow. What a bizarre day. So first off, we hit 1000 miles today. A
huge milestone for me. I did a little dance right in the trail.
Also today is my 2nd month anniversary of hiking. Like before (on my
1 month anniversary) I'd like to mention that I'm partly hiking in
order to raise money for the American heart assoc. If you'd like to
donate, the link is over in the sidebar on my blog. Heart disease
takes millions of lives and even those of seemingly healthy people we
know and love. This disease struck my family hard on 05 with the
passing of my father.
Ok...and now on to the craziness. Last night we couldn't ford a well
over- swollen falls canyon creek. This morning, we walked for two
miles upstream with no place to ford. When we made it to another
impassable stream we had to make a decision. That decision ended up
being probably the craziest/stupidest thing I've ever done while
hiking. I inflated my thermarest, used it as a raft, and swam across
the 10 ft deep, 50 ft wide creek. It was fresh snowmelt
water....needless to say it was so cold it nearly knocked the wind out
of me. Once on the other side safely, I deflated my pad, balled it
up, threw it back so that Kerry and then crowdog could follow. We
prepared and put all of our spare clothes in a bag so that we'd have
dry stuff to put on. It was insane. About an hour later we took a
break and I unpacked everything to dry it all out.
Then came the snow. For the next 5 hours we covered 5 miles....it was
fields of exhausting sun-cupped snow, and multiple compass readings.
But then something wonderful happened. We crested Dorothy lake pass,
and as we came down the backside, the snow was noticeably less. We
skipped along visible trail covering several miles. Looking off in
the distance the mountains all looked snow free (although we were
seeing south faces). We only covered 15 miles today, but still hiked
13 hours. Like I said, long day. Tomorrow we have a rough one too.
The last mountainous challenge of the trail. We have a nasty ridge
section over 10,500 feet before descending to Sonora pass. Our food
situation isn't looking so good either, so we may be hitching into
Bridgeport for a quick resupply. Lastly, we are out of yosemite now
and into Hoover Forest. This means no more bear cannister! I'm
mailing it home on bridgeport or lake tahoe.
Another long and exhausting day dealing with snow. When will it ever
end? We are all starting to get irritable and easily annoyed. The
snow is really getting to us. Today was a rough day. We dealt with
the snow, and had several extreme river fords. Kerrick creek was the
worst one yet. To make matters worse, we are ending the day at falls
creek because the water is so high, that we'd have to swim across.
Hell no. Going to go upstream in the morning and try to find a safe
crossing. (the pic is falls creek)
Tomorrow we have the last big pass ( high ridge near sonora pass) of
the entire trail. The last time we'll be over 9500. It will
undoubtedly be a long a grueling day, starting with a ford that will
probably end with a lot of wet gear.
I really can't wait for the snow to be over. Tomorrow we hit 1000
miles, and my two month anniversary...and 300 miles of continuous
snow. Today we had snow all the way down to 7400 feet. Ugh.
Short update today. It was a long day out of tuolumne...a place that
was tough to leave. We started in green meadows and ended again in
snowy fields. I cannot wait for regular trail again. Shooting for
tahoe in a few, but may do Bridgeport.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Took a zero today hanging out in Yosemite Valley. I had no plan on
going in, but because of tuolumne being closed I needed my po box.
The postmaster opened the yosemite branch and let us get our
boxes...score! Staying at the cabin has been great. Heidi really
hooked us up. Down in the valley today it was beautiful. Yosemite
falls was glowing crazy, half dome was majestic, and the geology,
stunning. The bad part was that there were thousands of
tourists...too many to deal with. It really stressed me out and I
couldn't wait to get back up to tuolumne. I found an official park
ranger hat in the cabin and wore it all day. I scored discounts at
the cafe and was asked several times where I worked in the
park....pretty fun. Tomorrow, it's back to my hiker hat. Aiming for
lake tahoe in about 6 days and to be out of the snow by then too!
Glad I got to see yosemite, always wanted too. Will definitely be
back to climb half dome at some point.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Made it to tuolumne after my longest day of hiking yet (timewise).
Today was also the toughest day as far as navigation. We got lost
several times and finding Donahue pass was tough. The snow is getting
hard to walk on with all of the sun cups too.
The good news is that we have a privat cabin to ourselves tonight
stocked with food and beer. Tomorrow, we are hitching into yosemite
valley to eat and shop.
Today we finished the last pass of the Sierra, and it feels good.
There will be on and off snow probably for another 150 miles, but the
worst is over. Thank god. The last 250 miles have been the most
difficult hiking I've ever done...withou question.
Friday, June 18, 2010
What a great day. We all got up early and made our way to reds meadow
with the hopes of big breakfast. We had heard that the store and
restaurant were opening today. Our hopes were shattered when we
arrived and everything was closed. Turns our that the road was
damaged from water and only certain vehicles were allowed up. Luckily
though the store was partially stocked and the owner let us buy a few
things. Half of our group headed into mammoth for a much deserved
zero day. Crowdog, Kerry, and I decided to push for tuolumne. An
Antarctic friend of mine, Heidi, has a cabin in tuolumne that she is
letting us use (stocked with food too), so we are hoping to bust out a
27 mile day over Donahue pass tomorrow and get there by dinner. We
will have to hitch into the yosemite valley though because the
tuolumne po is not open yet (due to snow). There is quite a bit of
snow in the northern Sierra...lots even at 7500 feet. Makes
navigating through trees tough. Tomorrow marks the last time we'll go
over 11000 feet. Staying at an actual campground tonight. It's
closed, but has outhouses! Bonus!
900 miles! Also, today we hit 1/3 of the trail done! Big
milestones. Another long and epic day of Sierra hiking. We started
the day with a 3000 ft climb up to the last pass before reds meadow:
silver pass. It was a long and snowy climb. The northern Sierra has
definitely had more snow than the southern sections. There is
consistent snow all the way down to 8000. Tomorrow we are all hitting
reds meadow and finally getting a shower and good food. Some of us
are going into mammoth too. I'm undecided. We will be hitting
tuolumne in two days! The sierra is almost done.
Another epic day in the Sierra. We started the day with a 3000 foot
climb up to seldon pass. While we did hit snow, being a lower pass
helped a lot. After celebrating on the pass with a hearty lunch, we
headed down to face the dreaded "bear creek ford". Even with my
success at evolution creek, I was worried about this one. The guide
books were quick to note the ferocity of this ford during high snow
years. When we got to it, it was worse than evolution. I went slow,
carefully placing each foot. I couldn't use my poles, because the
current was too strong. About half way across crowdog partially fell
in, but recovered. The current was vicious. After I made it past
half way, I knew I had it nailed. I scurried the rest of the way only
getting wet up to my belly button. Just behind us were Ishmael and
sam. It was good to see those guys again. I haven't hiked with them
since mike 450. We made it down to mono creek (the turn off for VVR)
and are camping there. We are hoping to hit reds meadow the day after
Tomorrow will be long and start with another 3000 foot climb up to
silver pass. Slowly but surely the Sierra section is coming to an
end. We have 4 more river fords tomorrow though, so it should be
Loving the challenge....glad I didn't flip flop.
Woo hoo!!! Today was a day full of milestones. First, the three of
us (crowdog, Kerry, I) summited muir pass, the last of the 12k
passes. The "high Sierra" is in a sense done. We still have 3 more
11k passes before tuolumne, but 1000 feet makes a big difference. The
second big milestone today was passing mile 850! California is now
half way done! It's hard to believe if I turned around now, I'd be
back at campo in the same number of miles as Oregon. Lastly, we
successfully forded evolution creek. It was about waist high, 50 feet
wide, and flowing strong. We all took it slow and had no issues.
Camping tonight at piute creek and shooting to tackle seldon pass
(11k) tomorrow. only 2 and a half days to reds meadow and a shower.
Today was a great day for scenery. Last night we camped at 10600 and
woke up with frozen shoes. We had to pour water on them to thaw them,
only to watch them freeze again shortly after. At about 6 we were on
the trail and heading the final two miles to Mather pass. The climb
up was very icy and steep. Probably the trickiest ascent yet. We all
used our axes and made it up without issue. On the backside it was
still too cold to glisade which made for some tough descending. I
slipped once and actually got to self-arrest with my ice axe. A bit
scary, but I never panicked like I did when I fell in the river ford.
After the descent, we were welcomed with over ten miles of beautiful
hiking on exposed trail through stunning sections. I took over fifty
pictures and even snapped one of my first bear. We are camping in a
meadow tonight with deer grazing across from us. Looking around
tonight, I can say that this is some of the best scenery I've ever had
around me. Tomorrow we hit muir pass after 5 miles and so will end
our time over 11,000 feet. After that, we have a few lower passes at
about 11k and mammoth is in less than 75 miles.
Another successful day. The snow cooperated and we were able to not
only knock out pinchot pass, but we are setup for Mather pass first
thing on the morning. By this time tomorrow, we'll be set up for muir
pass, the last 12k pass on the trail. After that, we never top 11k
again. I'm getting excited at the prospect of the snowy sections
starting to come to an end. Moving slower than I want, but I'm being
safe. I had four tough river fords today, and I confidently crossed
each one. I love having lots of good food to eat too. Things are
really going much better. Camping with crowdog and Kerry tonight
(whose trailname is now beaker).
Tomorrow should be an easier day.
Good day today, but I felt run down. Always happens after town
stops. We got back to the trailhead by 8:45 and hiked the 7+ miles up
and over kearsarge pass again and finally hit the pct by 11. We
hiked up and over glen pass at lunchtime, the first 12k peak of four.
For the next three days we will be doing three more 12 k passes.
Then, the "high Sierra" will be done. There was a lot of snow today,
but it was all manageable. The weather has changed a lot. A system
came through and it's much colder. It actually snowed a little on us
today. Tonight will be cold. The rivers have become less swollen,
which is good.
6 days until reds meadow and mammoth.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Today was a really good day in Bishop. It started with a very lucky
last minute appointment at a local dentist. About two weeks ago a
piece of one of my fillings came out and I was worried about hiking
with a hole in my tooth. I was squeezed in here at a local office and
the dentist was probably the nicest and overall best dentist I've ever
seen. He fixed me up and got my filling squared away all for 60
bucks. Fantastic. Then, I went shopping and got all my food for the
next 120 miles. I feel good today. Things are looking up. I have
what I need, I'm around good people, and the snow had 3 more days to
Going to watch th "A team" tonight and sit by the pool for a while.
Tomorrow we arranged a shuttle to get us back ton he trailhead by 9
am. We will go up and over glen pass, and set ourselves up for
Pinchot pass the following day....then Mather pass, then Muir pass.
Then, it's all downhill ;-)
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Today was a much needed zero. I ate tons of food (as you can see by
our table pic), drank coffee, copied photos to CDs and mailed them
home, hung out at a bookstore, resupplied at the outfitter, and
watched NBA finals game.
Tomorrow, I need to buy food and take care of one other thing...and
sit in the pool. I'm sharing a room with moleman, crowdog and Kerry,
so it's cheap. Glad I took this break. Needed it. Had an enormous
milk shake today...it was fantastic.
Hiked the 8 mile bullfrog lake side trail, got a ride down the 13 mile rd, and hitched the 41 miles to bishop. Tonight I'll sleep in a soft bed, andI've resupplied at the outfitter. I bought new poles, a good set of maps, and some other odds and ends. I feel a lot better today. It feels good to forget about the snow for a few days.
I looked up the latest snow reports and it turns out that the 10 day heat wave actually brought the snowpack down to average levels now. The problem is that too much melted too fast...causing the the crazy fords and flooding. Next week is actually supposed to be cooler which is in a sense better. I'm gonna deal with snow regardless , I'd
rather not deal with swollen rivers too. I've lost a lot of confidence
on fording. Going to go grocery shopping tomorrow and get food for the
next 7-8 days. I should arrive in mammoth right as the roads open for
Zero tomorrow AND Friday. Everyone is very beat up and bruised from
the post holing. We all need it.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The good news is that today I summited forester pass, the highest
point on the trail. The scenery is amazing. It was a intense pass
and it was crazy sitting on top. That's where the good news ends. Of
all my days hiking, today was bar far the worst ever. The kind that
really makes one reevaluate hiking. Let me take you through it...
I started my day fording a raging Wright Creek and my trekking pole
slipped. I went in completely and it was terrifying. I frantically
grasped for plants growing on the farside and managed to stop myself
about 20 feet downstream. In the process I lost a trekking pole, and
most importantly my 300 dollar GPS. This was devastating. The snow
is insane here and I had all of the trail waypoints on it. Luckily I
was smart enough to pack my camera and iPhone into my pack before the
ford. I crawled out of the creek at 5 am completely wet in 40 degree
weather. Hypothermia was coming quick. I put on dry clothes fast and
crowdog lent me his extra fleece. I warmed up but was miserable. The
entire day today involved hiking on snow...it was terrible.
Postholing, sunburn, bruised shins, all around nasty. I ripped my
rain pants, and had my alcohol fuel spill in my pack onto my sleeping
bag. Seriously, today nothing went right. I'm now in a very bad
place mentally. I've decided that I'm going to go into the town of
bishop tomorrow with the 7 people i've been hiking with. It was not
part of my plan, but I need a mental break, I need new trekking poles,
and I need high quality topo maps since I don't have a gps now. I
also need better food, a hot shower, and to desperately make some
phone calls to people that i really need to talk to. Today was a 13
hour day and it was after doing Whitney. My body hurts.
There are still four 12,000 foot passes to do, and they will all be
snowy. There is solid snow everywhere above 9500. Bishop is a tough
town to get into. It requires hiking 7 miles on a side trail, and the
hitching to independence, and then taking a bus to bishop. I don't
care. I need to get there.
Today really can't be described in words. I woke up at 4 am and
headed up the 4000 ft climb up to the top of the highest peak in the
lower 48: mt Whitney. I summited around 9 am with crowdog. There
were fields of snow everywhere but it was all still solid early in the
day making it easy tobwalk across. The were a lot of very sketchy and
scary sections that required me using an ice axe. I was glad I had
one. Some honest mountaineering sections. When I reached the top I
stopped, looked around at my 360 degree view and it literally brought
me to tears. There are some places in this world that when you work
to get there and then stop to look around, you know it's just a
magical place. I stayed up there for an hour, soaked it up, waited
for everyone else to summit, took a ton of pics and vids, and then
headed down. I wanted to get down before the snow got soft and id be
dealing with intense postholing. I made it back to camp at about 1:30
after a lot of fun ass sliding down snow fields (glisading), and
relaxed for an hour. Eventually, everyone left and hiked 5 miles to
wright creek. We wanted to go 3 miles further to tyandall creek, but
the wright creek was raging too insanely to ford at 5:30 pm. We are
all waiting to cross in the morning when the flow is less. All the
snow is making for some crazy river fords. Tomorrow is another big
day. We summit forester pass...the highest point on the PCT. It's at
13,200. (Whitney doesn't count, as it's not on the pct)
Side note: We are all now on the John Muir Trail too, and will be for
Best day on the pct so far, and it wasn't even reall on it. Tomorrow
forester will be epic, and I plan on glisading down the back
Awesome day today. Probably my favorite of the entire trip so far.
Started early and walked across the snow before it got soft. Walked
an amazing 16 miles and am camped 7 miles from the summit of Whitney.
The views today were indescribable. The north faces of all the mtns
are still completely covered and the river fords were really scary.
The Sierra mtns are amazing. Tomorrow it's Whitney. There are 12
people here all going up tomorrow. Should be awesome.
Sierra day 2
Well I'm tucked away near a beautiful alpine lake that's sitting in a
cirque. Breathtaking scenery at 11,200 feet. The bad news is that
the snow today was brutal. Lots of route finding, and losing the
trail. Even up here at the lake the trail is nowhere to be found.
I'm glad I have my gps for the tough spots and I was glad to have some
hiking buddies. I hiked with moleman, crowdog, guthook, motor, joker,
and Carrie. Good group. 21 miles today took all day, and we really
didn't hit bad snow until mile 14 or so. The Sierra is going to be
slow, but worth it. Tomorrow I'm shooting to hit crabtree meadows,
the staging spot for the Whitney hike. Then Monday, will be dedicated
to making the 16 mile round trip up and back. Should be intense. The
pack is getting lighter, but still super heavy.
Today was a long day with a ridiculously heavy pack. I wanted to get
in a big day to set myself up for a few shorter days. Today, like
clockwork, also started the Mosquitos. I haven't seen one yet, and
the day I enter the Sierra, they start with fury. In two days I'll be
camped at the foot of Whitney. Can't wait. Hiked on and off with
moleman and guthook (two guys I hiked with on my first day). Hit
10,500 feet today, and hit plenty of snow patches.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Zero Day #6
Today is all about staging. I spent the early hours today sorting my
food box and arranging my bear cannister. Let me just
say....dammit!! The cannister itself weighs 2 lbs, and I'm carrying
11 days of food to get me through most of the Sierra. Years ago when
I bought my golite jam 2, I also bought a pinnacle, which is a larger
version of the same pack. I had it shipped here and I'm glad I did.
The cannister fits in it sideways, so I'm excited....and the pack has
load lifters too. Even still, my pack is going to be ridiculously
heavy. I'm not alone though. Add in extra clothing, an ice axe, and
my pack is almost a joke.
Got new shoes, but my old shoes are still really good, so I'm torn
about ditching them. I might mail them ahead and reuse them later.
Otherwise all is pretty good. It's been very hot and it's not
changing. Lots of melting snow, lots of raging river fords, and lots
of Mosquitos. Can't wait.
This will likely be my last post for a while. Wish me luck.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Well I did it. I powered out almost 29 miles so that I could make it
to Kennedy meadows before the store closed....and I did! It was
great! I had a great dinner, picked up all 7 of my packages (yes
that's right, I had seven...don't ask). Took a shower, talked with
the guy across the street and scored a small trailer with a bed.
Definitely good karma today. The 28 miles were tough though. Lot of
very hot open stretches. Going to take tomorrow to set up all of my
new gear, prep my bear cannister, and set up my Sierra strategy.
There are about 15 peeps here all wanting company for the snowy 200
miles. Looks like I'll have some good company. The trailer here has
Internet too, so I can post a few last updates before going off the
25% of trail done.
Finished "southern California"
Passed 700 miles
Today was a good first day back on the trail. I finished up in town
and took the bus out to onyx, halfway to the trailhead. I stood
waiting for a ride for a while but finally got a hitch out and was
back on the trail at noon. With two zeros under me I powered out 21
miles before 7pm. I'm camping tonight with Pat and we spent time
discussing the impending Sierra. Kennedy meadows is one to two days
away. Getting excited.