Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sierra City to South Lake Tahoe

Mon 8/14   Started 1202   Hiked to 1195.4  7.5 miles

  • Resupply box at the Sierra City Country Store, but NOT the shoes
  • The shoes were supposed to get there on Saturday.  This ensured that the shoes were in the delivery today.  And they were.  
  • Thank you, Becky!  The lime green Brooks Cascadia were done and needed to be replaced. 
  • Before getting to Sierra City, I met Lawrence.  He partnered with Alex, but now is about a week behind Alex.  Alex and Lawrence are pretty good guys. 
  • Sierra City has a public bathroom with a shower.  The water was cold, but it felt good.  I also rinsed out socks, shirt, and shorts. 
  • Left Sierra City about 12:15 pm.  I started hiking the PCT about 12:40, thanks to a half-mile lift. 
  • Somehow I missed Milton Spring.  So, it was critical that I get water at Bear Valley Spring. 
  • I am camped at 1184.7  about 10.7 more miles
  • 18 miles for a town day ain't half bad



Tues 8/15 Today is Becky and my anniversary.  I hope you had a great day. 
  • I can't go anywhere without running into someone I know: 
    • Two section hikers going NOBO--one said, "I know you.  I gave you a ride into Big Bear City." His name is Bob.  He and his partner are hiking from South Lake Tahoe to Sierra City
  • Several other section hikers
    • One guy hiking in jeans and had an external frame pack
    • Dianne also hiking to Sierra City.  Wants to try a thru-hike when she retires.
  • Started 1184.7 several campsites.  Ended Castle Pass 1159.9  25 miles
  • I wanted to hike to Hwy 80, but I am out of gas!


Wed 8/16 
  • I made it to Donner Summit Hwy 80 pretty early
  • I called Becky to let her know where I was. 
  • She informed me that Alex Vira passed away
    • two connections
      • Alex and my son, Garrett, were classmates all the way back to preschool
      • His father, Shiraz, was my superior for many years with the SCS/NRCS
  • My condolences, my prayers, and my heart go out to the Vira family--Shiraz, Sigrid, Amy, Nick, I am sorry for your loss
  • I thank Becky for letting me know.  The news weighed heavily on my thoughts all day. 
  • Some hikers I met: 
    • Milkshake and Mountain Goat
    • Zorro and Little Engine
    • 5-Star and Mah (?)
  • Started Castle Pass 1159.5  Ended 1135.9  24 miles
  • I wanted to hit 1133 today, but I was pooped.  The trail had a lot of loose rock in places and also big steps up and big steps down.  This just slows me down and makes me tired. 




Thurs 8/17
  • Balds
    • In the Eastern US, Mountain tops that do not have trees are called "Bald."
    • Here are some of the plant species I've seen on the Balds at 7000-8500
      • shrubs: rose, sagebrush, bitterbrush, rabbitbrush, currant
      • wildflowers:  buckwheat, mint, spiny phlox, lupine, mule's ear (like balsamroot)
      • grasses:  Sandberg bluegrass (or a close cousin), brome
  • High and Lonesome
    • Mountain men of the 1820's-1840's called traveling at high elevations high and lonesome
    • I was high and lonesome today for a considerable period of time
    • Hiking balds and nothing but rock
  • Some Hikers I met today
    • Not many PCT thru-hikers
      • Amazon Princess Warrior and Campfinder
    • Quite a few hiking the Rim Trail
      • Notes for the PCT and Rim Trail are the same 
        • Amber and Nick
        • Whitney and John from BYU
  • I guess I needed something dramatic today: 
    • As I was hiking the high and lonesome today, around 7:30 am at PCT mile 1132, something happened that I could not duplicate if I tried.  I'm not exactly sure how it happened
    • I'm hiking in a section that was rock--the trail, everything around the trail.  Rocks and nothing else
    • I believe I stepped on a flat rock, but the bottom side of the rock was not flat.  
    • Rock shifted to the right
    • All my weight shifted to the right
    • Next thing I know is that I cartwheeled off the trail and landed in rock below the trail
    • Since I didn't nail the landing on my feet, the judges really docked my score
    • I was crumpled on the rock, stunned.  I got up and stumbled back to the trail. 
    • Shin of left leg took it the worst--I lost skin in an are of 5" long by 1.5" wide, bleeding pretty good. 
    • I hiked past the rock to where I could clean and doctor 
    • Note:  my calves and shins on both legs were filthy, dirty when the incident occurred
    • Washed and used bandanna to clean the wounds
    • Used New Skin to protect the wound
    • I hiked another 20 miles after the incident.  Pretty happy about that
    • In the end--I lost a little hide, wounded my pride
    • Started 1135.9  Ended 1112.6   23.6 miles
    • I am Phipps creek.  Worst mosquitoes yet. Little devils are out for blood--mine!




Fri 8/18  Started 1112.6  Ended South Lake Tahoe--at the home of Neal and Melanie Jones
  • Night Intruder
    • At 3:30 am I heard crashing and banging right next to camp
    • I felt around in the dark and found my headlamp
    • When I pointed the light in the direction of the noises, what appeared to be a cinnamon colored bear was just on the other side of a downed log.  The bear's eyes gleamed in the light, his eyes and my eyes were locked on each other.  
    • I hollered out, "Get outta here!" and the bear ran away
    • Immediately I thought the bear must have been 30 feet away, much too close for my comfort.  Later, I paced from my tent to the log---it was fifteen feet. 
    • Where was my food? Not in a bear canister.  Not hanging in a tree 100 feet or so from camp.  I keep my food in the tent with me.  
    • As I was packing up, about half a mile away I heard the same crashing and banging.  Probably the same bear. 





  • Excited: Wrong turn works out better
    • I left camp at first light 5:20 am.  I was excited about Echo Lake, South Lake Tahoe, and especially getting to see long-time friend, Neal Jones. 
    • The Desolation Wilderness is a wonderful piece of landscape if you like big views with many remaining snow banks.  
    • One big climb took me to the tops of Dick's Pass (9375 feet).  I walked on to the largest snow bank to take a few photos.  
    • I headed down the pass more excited than ever to be headed toward a friend. 
    • The trail was gnarly--steep, loose rocks, tree roots, big steps.  I had my head down picking the best foot placement, trying to go fast
    • A little later two women were headed my way.  I casually asked, "How far to Echo Lake?" The reply left me stunned, "This trail goes to Falling Leaf Lake, not Echo Lake. 
    • My brain did something like this: "What?...How can this be? What have I done now?"
    • A young man came down the trail and confirmed that I was on the way to Falling Leaf Lake.  He also said that it would be much easier getting a ride at this trailhead than at Echo Lake. 
    • To correct my mistake would mean a big climb up the trail and cost me several hours. 
    • So I asked the young man if I could just follow him and he was agreeable.  
    • His name is Adam.  We had a pleasant conversation as we hiked. 
    • At the trailhead, Adam's friend, Tommy, was waiting to give Adam a ride to his apartment. 
    • Tommy offered me a ride too.  In a bit we were in South Lake Tahoe. 
    • The wrong turn got me out seamlessly.  Much quicker than if I had made it to Echo Lake. 



  • Two days, three incidents:  Cartwheeling into the rocks, the bear, and the wrong turn. 
  • Neal and Melanie
    • I called Neal and he said it would take him about an hour to get to Ralley's Supermarket
    • I called Becky to let her know I was out and to have her work on arrangements to get me home. 
    • While Neal and I were eating pizza, I called Becky.  Flying on Sunday would save $150.  Arrangements were made--I was going home with Neal, flight for Sunday morning was set up. 
    • It has been years since I last saw Neal
    • Shower and laundry are wonderful.  It's been awhile. 
    • Neal and Melanie live in Incline Village on the north shore of the lake.  
    • A few things I learn from Neal and Melanie
      • Their children are all doing well 
      • They have a couple of absolutely beautiful, identical twin granddaughters. 
      • Melanie and her sister are identical twins.  Identical twins tend to skip a generation and who up two generations later. 
      • Neal and Melanie are very active in their church--Cornerstone.  The board is interviewing three applicants for a new pastor. 
  • I have been blessed to have had some great Trail Angels.  
  • But when the Trail Angels are friends, it takes Trail Angeling to a whole different level
  • Melanie and Neal opened their home and their lives for me. 
  • I left Reno rested and a while new outlook on life.  
  • Thanks much, Neal and Melanie!!  You're the best!!




Becky here, Kevin was only home for three days, and then pulled himself together to go back to the trail. He was hoping for a hiking partner to accompany him in the Sierras.  When that fell through, he decided to go back to Lone Pine and get the last part of California done.  After the Sierras, Kevin will flip back to Ashland, Oregon, and then NOBO hike to Cascade Locks.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Belden to Sierra City

Thurs 8/10  Steep Grade

  • Before getting to Belden, NOBO hikers were complaining about their descent into Belden.  One hiker said, "It's a 17° grade slope. Darn hard on the knees."
  • I'm going SOBO, so their descent is my climb.  I'd see ahead of me this constant grade--steep.  Relentless; switchback to switchback, there was no relief
  • One NOBO hiker asked if he were almost to the bottom.  I replied, "You've got a long way to go, but then so do I."
  • The climb up Mt San Jacinto or Baden Powell have nothing over the climb out of Belden.


  • Started Belden--PCT mile 1284.3    Camp--1275.2    9.1 miles
  • Add in miles getting to Belden (8.6) and I did 17.7 miles, plus a resupply stop in town.
Fri 8/11  Started 1275.2  Ended 1247.2  28 miles
  • Some hikers I met: 
    • Fire Princess (guy) and 8 bottle--met at Aquaduct and Lone Pine
    • Festus
    • Tony--we met at Agua Dulce
    • Roadrunner O'Leary
  • The day was fairly easy--rollers (up and down) and ending with a big descent, ending at Middle Fork Feather River, just before a steel bridge
  • Cleaned up a little--feet, legs, pits, face
  • Guy named Arthur camped near by.  Arthur has been on the trail eleven days. 
  • At the end of the day, I felt like pounding my chest and screaming, "Hey! Look at me! I'm 63 years old and I just did a 28 mile hump!"


Sat 8/12   Started 1247.2  Ended 1224.1   24.1 miles
  • Today's hike started with a big climb.  That's the way it works.  First thing after a river, spring, or lake is a climb.  Count on it. 
  • I was feeling pretty good after the big climb.  I was not fast, but I was steady and consistent.  And then came the rollers. I was forever looking ahead and seeing one more climb.  During one stretch I crossed roads multiple times--gravel roads, paved roads. After EVERY road crossing, a climb. 
  • These climbs were 300 to 700 feet.  But they kept coming.
  • By 3:00, I was pooped.  I planned to camp at mile 1226.  One problem, the second creek was bone dry.  Seems water sources are getting sketchy all of a sudden.  Not long back there was water squirting out of the hills every where.  Not anymore. 
  • I had to keep going.  Water and campsite both at 1224..
  • I checked the elevation profile--the big climb almost 3900 feet.  All the rollers added another 2950 feet of climb.  Total climb 9800 feet.  No wonder I am tired to the bone.
Sun 8/12  
  • I am amazed--after I had a hard day yesterday
    • no night leg cramps
      • Becky has heard my screams before when I'd get a cramp in calf or hamstring
    • I had two doses of electrolytes--Skratch and Nuun
    • I drank a lot before going to bed
  • My body was pretty recovered this morning.  I hiked okay, no ill effects at all
  • Ran into Aaron, Loni, Charlie, and Kim.  I first saw them at the post office in Big Bear City.  It was great catching up with them.



  • Crashing a Party
    • I was told that I could get water, beer, and pop up ahead
    • On a road crossing below a trail head was portable shade and lots of people
    • The PCT took me right in the middle of this event a PCT mile 1204.9
    • When I asked if there was anything cold to drink, a guy brought me a Mexican beer with lime.  It was wonderful
    • When I asked about eating, a gal named Lori showed me where to go and what to do 
    • The food was: carnitas, refried beans, and rice
    • One gal, who must have helped organize the event, recognized that I didn't fit in and was not part of this group.  I don't understand--I'm just a filthy, dirty, stinky hiker.  I guess I don't blend in with normal society.  Anyway, she told me I needed to leave after eating. I had no problem because that was my plan anyway
    • While eating, Lori came and talked with me and got me a water.  Lori was very gracious.
    • Lori asked if I got lonely
      • I said, "I talk with a lot of hikers and sometimes camp with other hikers." 
      • I also get to walk with God every day.  He keeps my mind occupied
I do miss Becky's company.  
I need to dispel one notion--that my getting dizzy and short of breath was due to my blood pressure. 
    • May 30-31 when I went to urgent care and then to emergency room at the hospital, my blood pressure was checked half a dozen times. 
    • When I asked one nurse, "How are we doing?" she said, "Your BP is good." 
    • When they released me from the hospital, I was told, "Drink more, eat more."  That's it.  
Long as I take care of business--eating and drinking--getting dizzy won't happen. 




 Becky needs to butt in here.  I saw a post on Facebook in the PCT Class of 2017 about a gal who had to leave the trail due to injuries.  She had food she wanted to share with hikers who had truly hit hiker hunger.  She offered a day's worth food free in exchange for a review.  She's writing a cookbook for hikers and wants to know how her recipes go over.  She's the Backcountry Foodie and a registered dietician. 







Here's what was in Kevin's box:
  • Sweet and Savory couscous--ingredients: couscous, organic cherries and raisins, carrots, onions, almonds, vegetable bouillion, chili powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, orange peel, 2 packets of olive oil. 
    • Very good


  • Chocolate peanut butter milkshake--ingredients: Carnation instant breakfast, peanut powder, whole milk powder
    • Very good 


  • Raisin Pecan Granola--ingredients:  rolled oats, wheat germ, organic stretcher, unsweetened coconut, brown sugar, pecans, agave, vegetable, organic pure vanilla extract, organic raisins
  • Parmesan Pesto Ramen--ingredients: Ramen noodles, pine nuts, basil, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt to taste.
    • I'm not a Ramen fan.  I've watched a lot of hikers eat Ramen at the end of the day.  I wouldn't make it on Ramen alone.