Thursday, May 25, 2017

Warner Springs to Idyllwild


  • Heavy dew--tent and sleeping quilt got wet  

  • Resupply box perfect.  Thanks Becky!
  • Started hiking 9:20 am.  It got HOT!
  • Hiked from 109.5 to 122.2--about 13 miles
  • Long, hot uphill pull from Agua Caliente.  Relentless uphill.  Must have gained at least 2500 vertical
  • The plan for Thursday and Friday--get to mile 136-140.  Then on Saturday get to mile 197 and to Paradise Valley Cafe for their Jose burger.  Then on Sunday get to mile 170-175 so that it will be quick getting to Idyllwild on Monday.  
  • Lester from Poland (age 58) and I have formed a friendship.  We're camping together tonight.  On a ridge top, but completely surrounded by bushes.  Cool and shady
Day 8 5/19

  • Lester and I were moving on the trail by 5:30 am
  • 5 mile hike to Mike Herras for water and breakfast stop
  • 10 mile hike to Tule Spring--a mudhole.  We are at PCT mile 137.  Plan is to wait for it to cool off then hike another 1-3 miles. That would leave 12-14 miles to Paradise Valley Cafe.  We are less than 50 miles to Idyllwild
I am blessed to have several families.  Some of you belong to more than one group. 

  • To my family:  Becky, Garrett, and Leanna.  Thanks much for your encouragement when the tendon in my foot had the upper hand.  Garrett, your first-hand knowledge and insights have been invaluable.  Becky, you are supporting me in many ways--blogging, shipping resupply boxes.  I love you more than I can say.  I am proud of you. 
  • To Close Friends: You know who you are.  You are not friends, you are family.  You encourage me in ways you can't imagine.  
  • To Garrett and Harold:  You are welcome to hike ANY section with me
  • To my GracePoint church family: 
    • Elders: thanks for the sendoff.  I'm praying for you every Monday for sure. 
    • Congregation: While on the trail, there are many things I can't do.  But I can pray.  Send your prayer requests to Becky
    • I do not know the words, and my singing is awful, but "Holy, Holy, Holy" is my theme song while hiking.  I just make up words that come from my heart. 

  • To my NRCS family: 
    • Thanks for helping me have a wonderful 40 year career. 
    • It's not about the conservation at all.  It's about the people we work with and the people we serve--inside NRCS and ranchers and farmers, CDs, and partnering agencies
    • I am proud to have worked Sage Grouse Initiative alongside Pheasants Forever staff, NRCS staff, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and US Fish and Wildlife Service. 
  • To my SRM Family: 
    • I will miss the Pacific NorthWest summer tour and meeting as it looks like I will still be on the trail
    • To the organizing committee for the Moses Lake meeting: you have a great meeting coming up.  Sorry for not engaging, but my mind was elsewhere. 
  • To My Extended Family: 
  • Brothers JR and Keith  Sisters-n-law: Carmen and Charlotte, Nephew: Zach, Nieces: Lucinda (I hope your wedding is everything you hope for), Miranda, and Tatum:  I'm living my dream.  Live yours.

  • How's my body doing? 
    • Left foot peroneus brevus tendon (trip was cancelled because of the tendon on 4/6.  Trip a go on 4/21)---not one whimper.  Thanks Jennifer
    • Left quadriceps tendon--reattached in 2014--doing well
    • I started not in condition I wanted because of tendon in left foot. 
    • I don't have my uphill gear in condition too
    • But I am making the miles and doing it again the next day
    • I hope to be in better shape two weeks from now.  Faster and better uphill gear.
    • Feet seem to be getting better.  The old shoes I started with only need to put in about 30 more miles.  Shoes will be changed in Idyllwild. 
Day 9 5/20

Hiking partner:
  • Lester from Poland, Age 58. Has lived in Connecticut the last few years. 
  • He was sick today.  I carried a lot of extra water for him
  • His English Accent is thick enough that communication is difficult at times.
  • You give up some freedom to do it the way you want to, but you gain a companion and perhaps make a lifelong friend. 
How much does my pack weigh? 
Depends on how much water and food I am carrying
  • Base weight without food or water 13-15 lbs--Stable weight doesn't vary much
  • Food weight--2 lbs/day.  With a six-day stretch, that adds 12 lbs the first day
    • Food weight drops 2 lbs every day
  • Water weight: Fluctuates throughout each day.  @ 5 qts = 10 lbs.
  • Can be <20 lbs on last day and as much as 37-40 lbs at max
The Jose Burger at the Paradise Valley Cafe was great as were the the fries, salad, beer, and 5 glasses of ice water.

Getting back on the trail around 4 pm.  Should be in Idyllwild on Monday. 

  • Wet camps:  camps with water---at Lake Morena and Warner Springs
  • Dry camp:  no water.  This is what I've done the most and expect that to continue.  You need an extra liter of water for cooking at a dry camp
  • Cowboy camping: No tent or tarp.  Just lay out ground cloth, pad, and sleeping bag.  I've cowboy camped 4 nights so far.  Easier to set up and makes for a quick start in the morning. 

  • mid 70s--low 80s.  It seems hot from 9 am to 5 pm. When it really gets hot (90+) we will need to adjust our hiking schedule
    • Start from 4 to 4:30 am.  Hole up from noon to 4:30 pm.  Hike again from 4:30-7:00 pm
    • I'm having Becky switch me to cookless breakfasts until the Sierras.  Gotta use the cool part of the day for hiking, not cooking, or we can have a cooked breakfast at noon (readjust the meals--cookless lunch in the morning, cooked breakfast at noon, cooked dinner around 4 pm, granola bag for later.) More than one way to skin a cat
    • Hike in the cool, shade up in the heat
    • Distance between water holes will dictate a lot. 

Hikers carry their fears
    • This analogy was made by a PCT hiker last year.  It is spot on
    • Fearful of going hungry--you carry extra food 
    • Fearful of going thirsty--you carry extra water
    • Fearful of getting cold--you carry extra clothing
  • As you age, you are more prone to dehydration
  • By not drinking right at times, I get night cramps.  Ask Becky about my blood curdling scream at 3:00 am
  • So I've been carrying too much water
  • I'm trying to manage water better 
    • Camel up* at water holes, drink to stay hydrated
    • Reach the next water hole with 1/2 liter or less.  That's the goal.

Partnerships Formed, Partnerships Dissolved
  • On the PCT, the only permanent partnerships may be married couples
  • Last year a couple of sisters stayed together the whole way
  • I see several groups that formed on the day they started from the border.  Common starting date forms the bond.  Some are in and out more than once. 
  • Lester was sick today--stomach hurt/was upset
  • He seemed to rally at Paradise Valley Cafe--3 beers, burger, fries, salad
  • We left for PCT at 4 pm (Lester's suggestion).  We had gone only part way when he said he was still having stomach problems and that he was going to hitch to Idyllwild and skip this section. 
Mountain Fire Closure Predicament (mile 152)
  • Mountain Fire Area outside Idyllwild has been closed now for at least five years 
  • From Hwy 74 near Paradise Valley Cafe, the reroute has hikers:
    • climbing back up pretty high, then at mile 166, taking the reroute back down and into Idyllwild
  • The reroute makes no sense--no common sense--a lot of work climbing only to descend into Idyllwild and the climb to PCT at mile 179
    • Common sense says to skip it and resume at Idyllwild
    • It's only 27 miles
  • The reroute makes sense in one context--maintaining a line of continuous steps, unbroken from Mexico to Canada
  • A thru-hike means you hiked through, around, over, under, and skipped nothing. 
  • So I am doing the illogical to maintain the integrity of my thru-hike
  • If you skip once or leave your steps broken even for 20 feet, then it is easier to justify the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time
  • Last year Garrett maintained continuous steps
  • Today when I hit the highway,  I walked across and high-5ed the PCT sign. When I returned, I high-5ed the same sign again, thus assuring continuous steps
    • Note: a couple from New Zealand said, "We came to hike the PCT.  We're going straight thru." 
  • Can't wait to get to Idyllwild--shower, laundry, especially my lower legs are filthy-nasty. 

A New Addition
  • We have a new addition at home--10 year old Belgian Malinois/Lab mix named Abby.  I don't want a dog, but if this makes Becky feel safer, I'm all for it. 
Counting going to and from Paradise Valley, this was a 17-18 mile day

Sun 5/21, Day 10
  • Yesterday afternoon, I hiked 4 miles up from Hwy 74 to a shady campsite.  Very nice
  • This morning was an uphill grind
  • Uphill from campsite to Live Oak Junction
  • without pack: 1 mile downhill to spring for water, 1 mile uphill to PCT
  • Next 8 miles to trail closure--lots of uphill
  • I'm tired and it's not even 1 pm
  • Met Heather at junction to Live Oak Springs
  • We're shading up for a while at Fobes Ranch Trail junction, then will head out together 
  • Won't make it to Idyllwild until tomorrow
  • Heather and I hiked Fobes Ranch Trail until hitting water
  • Got some water, Heather stayed in the only patch of shade
  • I have everything I need, shade, water, snacks
  • Heather thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail last year and hopes to do the Continental Divide Trail next year to complete the Triple Crown
  • Reading the Proverbs by King Solomon
    • Wisdom starts with trust and reverence in the Lord
    • Proverbs 2:20 Follow the steps of the godly and stay on the right path
    • Many parallels to my PCT hike. 
  • At 5 pm, I completed the hike of the Fobes Ranch Trail Road and got on Highway 74 to walk toward Idyllwild
  • A couple of nice folks stopped to see if I wanted a ride, "Yes, but if I am to maintain continuous steps, I've got to walk to Idyllwild."
  • Hiked until sun went down and bivvied next to highway--cowboy camped
Mon 5/22
  • It froze last night, dew on sleeping quilt
  • Continued my highway walk at 4:45 am
  • A young guy stopped offering a ride.  Before he left, he gave me an avocado.  It was eaten on the spot
  • At Mountain Center (junction Hwys 74 and 243) I stopped for a Gatorade and Power bar
  • The walk on 243 was dicey--no shoulder and lots of traffic
  • At Idyllwild, I stopped at Town Baker--omelet, fruit, and orange juice.  Then I had half a huge sticky bun and a brownie they gave me
  • Laundry was great.  They gave me clothes to wear so I could wash was I had on
  • Five minute shower at San Jacinto State Park
  • Clean clothes, clean Kevin, I felt like a million bucks
  • Yesterday's 10 mile PCT hike from camp to Fobes Junction was the most difficult yet.  Lots of uphill.  Trail tread was very marginal, loose rocks, boulders, etc
  • Garrett says PCT grade is not all that bad.  He's correct
  • But it's not all PCT grade.  Some short stretches are steep and slow going
*Hiker Vocabulary:  Camel Up--drinking as much water as you can hold to get you through the next bit of hiking. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Julian to Warner Springs

5/16  Wind was bloody hell.  No Sleep at all.  About 4:00 am started misting.  I packed up and waited for first light.  Left camp about PCT mile 74.  Quick hike to Scissor Crossing.  Hitched a ride in less than 30 seconds with first pickup.  Mark was on his way to work, gave me a ride to Julian.  Mark dropped me at Granny's Kitchen where I had an amazing breakfast--French Toast to die for, eggs, sausage, milk, grapefruit. Most I ever paid for breakfast--$21, but worth every penny.

Bought a couple of things at the store: Band-Aids and sunscreen).  Box at Post office.  I had too much food due to being almost two days ahead of schedule.  Left some food in the Hiker Box.

To Carmen's to get a ride back--I made the first trip and was back on the PCT just after 10:30.

Wind is supposed to be 60 mph tonight.  I hiked to (88.6) bivy site that is as protected from wind as you can find.  Cowboy camping again.
Tomorrow supposed to be water at mile 91, then Barrel Spring at mile 101

Day 5 in the books, 12 miles, and I have only encountered a few with trail names:  Haiku, Navigator, Tea Time (may be British).
It was great getting to talk with Becky and Garrett.  I'll call Leanna from Warner Springs, 22 miles ahead. 

Since I haven't slept much last 2 nights, I have had time for stargazing, like looking at the handprint of God

Today I only hiked about 12 miles to give my feet a break.  Tomorrow I want to get started by 5:30 am and see if I can crank out 18 miles.  That would leave only a few miles on Thursday for Warner Springs.  

Here are my Hiking Commandments for this trip:

  1. Live your testimony
  2. Be Grateful and take nothing for granted
  3. Encourage others and hike for those who can't (Camp Korey)
  4. Embrace all challenges
  5. Take the long view (I need to improve on this)
  6. Take care of your feet and body--my feet are sore from blisters
  7. Stay hydrated and eat well
  8. Be responsible
  9. Do the math.  To get to Canada, you gotta do the miles each day
  10. Don't forget to have fun.  Find joy in the simplest things.  
Day 6:  Wind howled last night.  My campsite was pretty protected, but not totally.  Left camp at 5:24 am.  At a campsite above me, the guy was cowboy camping too.  Right in the force of the wind.  The guy was curled in the fetal position.

I must have looked like a drunken sailor the way I was staggering against gusts that came from different directions.

Here's what I was thinking about:

  • Wind has been howling for 3 nights and 3 days
  • It's darn cold for May 17
  • Hiking through a could bank--no visibility
  • My feet hurt
  • Lester, a 58 y/o from Poland is several minutes ahead of me.  
  • Three very pretty Canadian girls are several minutes behind me--Kaylyn, Kristin, and Kayla (2 from Toronto, 1 from BC)
  • Fritos in one pocket, gorp in another pocket
  • There is nowhere else I'd rather be
  • If your day was half as good as mine, you've had a darn good day. 
At Barrel Spring, several of us were drinking, eating, and talking.  A young guy comes in but sits all by himself.  I sat down next to him.  Jerry is his name and he complains about the weather and that he had not bargained for this.  I said, "Jerry, that's part of the challenge.  It's not always a walk in the park.  I read that anyone considering quitting needs to give it at least another week.  It's gonna get better." 

Jerry said, "I  am thinking about ending my hike." 

"Hang in there, Jerry.  You've made it 100 miles.  You know how many people never get this far? You're doing great."

Jerry headed up the trail.  I hollered, "hang in there." 

Then I told the three Canadian girls, Alex and Lawrence my thinking.  Kristen said, "Wow! How encouraging is that?"

NRCS folk will appreciate this
  • At Sunrise Trailhead, the water source is a stockwater facility.  
  • I'm filtering water when another hiker comes in.  He asks, "How does this work?"
  • I pointed, "That's a shallow well.  The tower used to be a windmill.  It has a solar panel now.  Used to use wind power to pump water into the storage tank.  Uses solar power now. 
  • The pump fills the storage tank and then gravity fills the stock trough. 
  • A ball valve controls flow from well to storage tank.  A second ball valve controls flow from cistern to trough.  
  • He just nodded. 
At Barrel Springs a sign says to boil water 5 minutes.  Water looked good enough to fill and drink without filtering.  Not knowing of spring box, I filtered. 

Hiked all the way to Warner Springs Resource Center.  Warner Springs is not a very affluent community.  The money they get from hikers helps them pay for school, so they put in a resource center for hikers. 
Camping Area
Around back--bucket showers.  It was wonderful.  They have hot water, soap, shampoo. They give you laundry detergent, a towel, and clean clothes to wear.  Clothes get clean, body gets clean.  Clothes line to hang clothes. 

Day 7 5/18
Wind howled half the night, then quit. Finally!  But we hit heavy dew.  Tent, sleeping quilt are wet.  Hiking clothes still damp.  Only thing to do is put them on wet and wear them dry.  Not as bad as it sounds, but at 4:00 am, it certainly got my attention.

I have a couple of hours to dry out, pack up, and get to post office for my resupply box.  Thanks, Becky, I appreciate all you're doing to support my trip! We talked yesterday and I had her put in the next box (Big Bear City), a long sleeve nylon shirt and hiking shorts.  My arms are sunburned and these old hiking shorts I'm wearing have only so many miles left. They gotta last another 165 miles to Big Bear City.  My shoes only have to last until Idyllwild--74 miles up the trail. 

Note:  I started my hike with well worn shoes and shorts.  That was the plan all along. 

So far: 110 miles
105 miles of desert shrub
5 miles of pine grass or pine shrub

After all the planning, all the preparation, all the thinking, on May 12, it was great to FINALLY to be on the trail.  

At first it was exciting, the desert was new.  All the anxiousness melted.  Wonderful feeling!

Goal #1:  Get on the trail and get started.  Achieved on May 12
Goal #2: Get to Warner Springs. Achieved on May 17.