Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Trail Begins--Kevin's Second Letter with Pictures

This is my job for Kevin's hike.  I put together his resupply boxes and make sure they get sent to him on time.  Last year, when Garrett was hiking the trail, there was a young man who was almost always getting his resupply packages late.  His name was Salty and when someone else's package came in late, it was called, "pulling a Salty."  It's my responsibility to make sure Kevin doesn't pull a Salty.

On to Kevin's letter:

May 11:  Late at night, Bob said, "This year will test your mettle, your planning, your logistics. Because of snow in the Sierras, there is a bottleneck at Kennedy Meadows."

May 12:  To the Southern Terminus with Bob.  Two tents there, One other car.  Signed the register like this:  "After a 25-year wait, my time has finally come.  I'm as excited as a bull during breeding season, more anxious than I dare admit, and certainly the most blessed man on earth.

May God bless the Trail Angels, and the thru-hikers.  Time to push this herd up the trail.  Adios, Amigos!  Kevin Guinn 5:30 am 5/12/17

Started hiking about 5:45 am.  Stopped to take several photos.  PCT is well marked.  Made it to Hauser Creek before 1:00 pm.  Hike out of Hauser Creek was a pull with 1300 feet of vertical.

PCT Hikers I met: Jason, Graham, Mark, Sunup, Antoine, Haiku, Austin, Randall, and Seth.  Seth smokes weed (It's common on the trail.)
Sunup gave me a white wrist band and I gave her my card.  Band has a verse from Joshua, I believe: "Be strong, be courageous, be fearless." She was positive and very encouraging.  
Made it to Lake Morena around 5:00 pm.  Hamburger at the store. Lake Morena County Park has an area for PCT hikers.  

Very little sleep last night.  I had heartburn.  Pretty stiff and sore.  We'll see about tomorrow.  
5/12 summary:
  • Left Southern Terminus 5:45 am
  • Hiked to Lake Morena 20 miles
  • Saw one BIG rattlesnake
  • Shower at Lake Morena 
Burger, fries, and Gatorade at Oak Store (for any future hikers, this store is mentioned in Yogi's PCT handbook on the page with Lake Morena)


 My camp set up

 Beagle and her partner

 Holly and Jesse
nasty snake

5/13 Saturday
  • Slow start.  Left Lake Morena about 7:00 am
  • 9:15 at Boulder Oakes campground
  • 4:25 Campsite at PCT mile 37, four more miles to Burnt Ranchera.  God the time but not the willpower. 
  • 17 miles today @ PCT mile 37
  • Back of right arm is pretty sunburned--long sleeved shirt would be great
  • Saw a small rattlesnake today, I am two for two so far. 
  • Another hiker just showed up, Gilbert from Yakima, WA.  Small world.  Gilbert has been a CPA for 14 years.  Wants something more.  

I am ahead of schedule (my slow start schedule) by 11 miles.  No need to push ahead, although there is a shower.  Can get one tomorrow morning.


  • Another couple at camp--Holly and Jesse from Dallas, TX
  • Getting to Mt Laguna for shower, meal, and resupply--Gilbert, Holly and Jesse are ready.  
  • It is clear and cooling off fast.  We may have a cold night.  It is only 7:45 and all of us are in tents already
  • For the desert, long sleeved shirts and long pants make sense.  
  • I could not ask for better camp mates than Holly, Jesse, and Gilbert
  • Also met Beagle and her partner (can't remember her name).  They are middle aged women
  • Met two young gals from Toronto:  Kaitlin and Kaylyn.  At Mt Laguna they will do a pack overhaul to reduce weight. 

Sun 5/14
  • It froze last night at camp. 
  • Slept so-so.  The sleeping quilt was a little out of its temperature range
  • Left camp by 5:45 wearing polypro top, gloves, and stocking cap
  • At Mt Laguna Store by 8:30.  Had a balanced snack--Fritos and Gatorade--fat and salty with sugar and electrolytes. 
  • Met: David and Elizabeth, Nathan and Jordan, Ian from Ohio and Lester from Poland
    • Ian is having foot problems
  • Naomi from Australia--I used her camera to take a photo of her with Buddy the Donkey
  • Dale with bear canister and singing to his tuner
Hiked to campsite with boulders at mile 56. 19 miles today.  My feet are pretty tender.  Wind is howling--used rocks to lay out ground cloth and tent.  I will unzip the tent without setting it up and insert pad and sleeping quilt--cowboy camp style.  Should be a long night.  

21 miles to Scissors Crossing.  I hope to do 17-18 miles tomorrow and get to Julian early Wednesday.

No place to escape the wind as it is whipping around from different directions.  I've got to button down camp so nothing blows away. 

Mon 5/15  Day 4
Last night was bloody hell.  The wind was relentless.  I was camped on a ridge with boulders (PCT mile about 56).  Moved camp at 7:40 pm--Quickly.  Breakfast at sunrise--Big surprise:  Holly and Jesse joined me and then Gilbert.  Noon lunch break with Dale.  We are at PCT mile 67.2 (Scissor Crossing) I could make Scissor Crossing today.  My plan is to camp short of that tonight and make it to Scissor Crossing early tomorrow and get into Julian, resupply and back on the trail the same day.   Camp mates: Matt and Lawrence from San Diego

Summary:  Border to Julian 77 miles
  • Goal #1 I get to start of PCT and begin the hike.  (Realized 5:45 am May 12)
  • Body and mind are okay with the distances--20 miles, 17 miles, 19 miles, 18 miles
  • I am tired at the end
  • Feet not ready for this--both feet have blisters--ball of feet 1" x 2", little toe--bottom of the toe and some on sides
  • Meeting a lot of new people.  Putting right name to right face is a challenge.  Some meetings are fleeting, some are a bit longer.  You see them again:  Is this Chris, Matt, or Dale: 
  • Some of the people I've met: 
    • Jay and Tanya from Australia (on the flight to San Diego)
    • Toothless Charlie--not a hiker, just a local looking for some weed
    • Antoine from France--he's fast, I'll not see him again
    • Haiku--has done the Appalachian Trail
    • Randall from Michigan
    • Two young gals from Toronto: Kaylyn and Kaitlin
    • Robert from Germany
    • Gilbert from Yakima, WA
    • Holly and Jesse from Dallas, TX
    • Lester from Poland
    • Naomi from Australia
    • Dale--carries bear canister and sings to his music
    • Alex and Lawrence from San Diego
    • Matt and Hayden are doing some night hiking and it is working for them
    • David and Elizabeth
    • Chris
Tues 5/16  Dry camped again last night in a sandy, dry creek bed as the trail hit the valley floor.  Campsite is three miles from Scissor Crossing.  I cowboy camped* again
  • Wind was awful--gusts must have been in excess of 60 mph.  Alex and Lawrence camped with me.  I thought Lawrence's tent was going to collapse with each new gust.  
  • Started misting at 4:00 am.  I packed up and waited for first light.  Made it to Scissor Crossing just after 6:00 am.  
  • I just dropped my pack and was putting away my pack cover when a pick up stopped.  Mark (Trail Angel), a construction worker, gave me a ride to Julian.  Mark dropped me off at Granny's for an amazing breakfast--eggs, sausage, French Toast, milk, grapefruit juice.  There was not a crumb left. 
  • Short conversation with Garrett.  Becky must not be up yet. 
  • My PCT schedule has me in Julian at the end of tomorrow. so I am a day and a half ahead. 

Here's a way to think of the PCT thru-hiking community.  
  • A stack of cards with a card representing each thru-hiker
  • Some never make it to the trail.  Take those cards out
  • Some quit in the first 70 miles.  Take those cards out
  • The card on top is farthest up the trail.  The card on bottom is the person closest to Mexico
  • Throughout the day and each section of trail, the thru-hikers play leap frog and so the cards keep getting reshuffled. 
  • Some hikers start early, others start much later
  • Some stay in town a day or two, others are in and out quickly
  • Yesterday morning I was having breakfast and getting water at Sunrise Trailhead, Jesse, Holly, and Gilbert showed up.  I had camped with them two nights earlier.  
No freaking way!
My Burts Bees Lip Balm fell out of my pocket Sunday.  
Yesterday I left camp at 5:45 am.  Maybe half a mile to one mile up the trail, I saw lip balm in the middle of the trail.  It was my Burts Bees. 

Now I am confused--was I walking the wrong way?  Sun on my right means I am traveling north
Compass verified I was going north
Hiker coming my way confirmed I was going the right way. 
Someone must have picked it up and then decided to put it in the trail so the owner would be reunited with his lip balm (or it fell out of his/her pocket too).  

*Trail Vocabulary:  Cowboy camping--sleeping on the ground under the stars.  

Note from Becky:  I may have labelled the pictures wrong. Kevin will straighten this out when he comes off the trail.  


  1. Last year, I hiked the PCT, so now I'm getting the opportunity to see how Dad hikes the trail and what his experiences are. Here are a few things I noticed:

    1. Dad's moving very well. His distances are in the average to above average range which is very impressive considering his age and injury history.

    2. He declared he will never see Antoine again. I think he might. Some fast hikers spend a lot of time in town, which I don't expect Dad to do. Others may take a lot of side trips. You never know when you will run into someone.

    3. Dad's doing a much better job than I did at trying to meet people, learn something about them, and get their pictures. By this time, I could only tell you the names of a handful of hikers (<10 I'm guessing) and I think I only mentioned 3 in my blog posts. Also, I had 0 pictures with other hikers in them.

    4. His schedule is already useless. That's common. What you think you can do at home is very different from what you can actually do. Dad is much stronger than he expected.

    5. Pack shakedowns are an offered free service at Mt. Laguna. He mentioned the Toronto girls taking advantage of that service. With Dad's previous research and experience, he doesn't need that.

    6. Pretty much everyone gets blisters their first week on the trail. Nobodies feet are ever ready for a thru hike. By the time you get past the blisters, soreness sets in, so the feet are never 100%.

  2. WOW what an adventure!! I know of 2 others that are on the trail too. I will keep checking t see if he meets up with them. They started before him but I think he's going at a faster pace then they are.

  3. Fantastic reading your posts Kevin!
    There is a gal who hiked the AT in 2015 who is now on the PCT. Her name is Dixie. You may see her along the way.
    I am hoping to start my ride south in the next seven days!
    Thanks for the inspiration to not give up!