Thursday, June 29, 2017

Letter, but no pictures

Fri 6/23 Day 43
Last night's camp 703.76 (just above Kennedy Meadows)
Tonight's camp 724.1

  • Before going into details about my trip, I want to tell you about my daughter, Leanna.  She is high achieving in all that she does.  Leanna is an EMT in Mobile, Alabama.  Because she is hard working and dedicated, they keep throwing more and more responsibility her way.  Leanna also works for the Christian Medical Ministry of South Alabama, where they send medical students to medically primitive countries in order to show them medical care in other parts of the world.  She has been to Rwanda, Peru (twice), and Honduras, and in December she is on the list to go to Costa Rica.  Becky here:  Leanna let me know that Kevin left out one thing on his list of her accomplishments.  She is a student as well, and in January hopes to be a full-time student in an accelerated nursing program. She will also keep the other two jobs, if at all possible. 
  • And then, Leanna is a runner.  She has run several marathons, including the Boston, and she has qualified to run the Boston more than once. In case you are wondering, I'm very proud of Leanna.  Her support for me on this trip is immeasurable. 
  • The hike from Tehachapi Pass to Kennedy Meadows was not just hot, the temperatures set all time records for the week. Maybe this was one of the hottest hikes ever on the PCT. It was brutally hot.  Every hiker I've talked with is glad Section F is behind us. 
  • Hikers I saw at the bridge (South Fork Kern River)
    • One-Eleven--from Fort Worth, TX
    • Rory and Emily--from Boston.  They are leaving the trail after climbing Mt Whitney.  It's really too bad, because I would liked to have spent more time getting to know them.  Very Nice
    • Beer Breakfast and ???
  • Today's hike was hard.  From South Fork Kern River  (PCT mile 716) to camp at mile 724 was an unrelenting uphill.  And it was hot to boot, even at 9500 feet.  Camp is at 10,500 feet.  I am pooped, stiff, and sore.  Just another day on the trail. 
  • One-Eleven stopped for dinner.  He ran out of fuel, so I loaned him my fuel canister.  One-Eleven is pretty sure that he was picked up at Hart's Pass by a guy who picked up two friends (young women).  Likely it was my son, Garrett.  Small world. 
Sat 6/24 Day 44
Last night's camp 724.1
Came off PCT at 745.3 (21.2 miles)

  • Started before 4:30 am.  Had breakfast around mile 729.  My water report said that the water at 730.8 was sketchy and then perhaps none until mile 743.  I was down to one quart and I desperately needed two more quarts anyway, as the day was going to be hot again. 
  • One hour mistake Twice I left the PCT looking for water.  Both times I found water, but when I dipped my cup, the water had lots of floating algae and other floaters.  When I got to 730.8, the water was great.  I wasted an hour or more. 
  • For a while I leap-frogged with a couple--Michelin (the tire) and Cheeseburger.  They started April 18. They were surprised when I said that I started on May 12.  
  • The day ended hot, the miles dragged on.  Near the end are three different trails for going to Horseshoe Meadows and a ride to town.  At the first junction, (Mulkey Pass), was a group of hikers--Boy Scout troop.  I asked if they were headed down to Lone Pine and if I could get a ride.  A thunderstorm was cracking and popping so they were headed down, and yes, I could get a ride. 
  • As I was headed down Trail Pass, it started to rain--the first drops of rain I had experienced the entire trip.  Getting across the river with dry feet took a little doing.  
  • James Rogers, Boy Scout leader, gave me a ride to Lone Pine.  He's taking the boys to Yellowstone in a couple of weeks.  I really appreciate men who so freely give their time to helping boys become men. 
Sun 6/25 (Day 45)
  • A zero day in Lone Pine
  • Section F, the last of the desert and the hike into Lone Pine beat me up physically and mentally
  • I went to the Mt Whitney Baptist Church this morning.  It is a very small, Bible teaching church. I got there thirty minutes early and the worship team was practicing. I had not been to church since before I started the hike on May 12.  
  • A lady named Linda led a study of Psalm 138 for Sunday School
  • Hymns during the worship service
    • Worthy of Worship (new to me)
    • This Is My Father's World
    • Shout to the Lord
    • Ten Thousand Reasons
  • The man who gave the message focused on their Vacation Bible School and what they taught.  
    • From Matthew 16: Who do you say I am?
    • From John 20:30-31, the purpose statement of the Book of John
  • During announcements, I was asked to stand and introduce myself.  
  • I had a good discussion with two men--Dave and Marty
PR--Personal Record
  • Before this trip, my backpacking PR was 165 miles of the PCT in Northern Oregon.  I have now completed 745 miles of the PCT.  So I guess I have a new PR.
The Plan
  • First thing, I've got to get more food in me, especially calorie-dense foods, such as nuts and GORP/trail mix. 
  • Through the desert, I kept the Gorp in my pack since the chocolate melts (even M&Ms). This should not be a problem in the Sierras
  • The next section features Mt Whitney, Forester Pass, Kearsarge Pass, 
  • Lone Pine is where Becky sent my bear canister for food, the micro-spikes and gaiters.  Thanks, Becky!
  • But for some reason Garrett's ice axe is not here.  I'll check the post office first thing in the morning.  
  • The easy 5-day plan would be
    • Cottonwood Pass
    • Crabtree Meadow
    • Mt Whitney
    • Base of Forester Pass to going over the top to other side of Pass
    • Kearsarge Pass and out.  
  • There are opportunities to shorten this by a day. 
Many thanks to those who have contributed to Camp Korey.  I appreciate it very much.  This provides encouragement to the children, their families, and could even be a life-transforming event. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Trail Provides

Fri 6/16 Day 36

  • I felt really bummed out at not getting to see David and Beth, Captain Planet and Flask in Tehachapi.  I hadn't seen CP and Flask since the day I came off trail to go to doctor and hospital.  And I hadn't seen David and Beth since Big Bear City
  • Today in Mojave, I couldn't decide whether to take a zero today and get on the trail tomorrow, or to just go ahead and get back on the trail today
  • Becky suggested a nap.  Nap interrupted by a call.  Becky trying to nail down where to send Lone Pine resupply.  I settled on the Hostel as it is likely the be on Saturday or Sunday.  
  • Then I was ready to get in some miles, heat and all.  Mojave was 107* today.  Not very inviting hiking conditions. But I felt "pressure" to get back on.  Another day on town life and my hike could be over. 

  • Quick shower, pack loaded and a ride to the bus stop by the motel.  The motel made the offer, I didn't "ask." The driver, a nice woman, even let me get a Subway sandwich for dinner
  • Back on the PCT at 5:55 pm.  Very hot, but it's not a race.  Slow and steady was my thinking.
  • After two miles of flat, began a 2000 ft climb. 
  • I was several hundred feet into the climb when I heard laughter and, "hey! look, it's Kevin!"
  • I found a place to pull off the trail and wait.  I was in disbelief as Flask, Captain Planet, David and Beth, and a young couple I didn't know came to me.  Reunion! The trail provides. 
  • Then I met a trio of hikers, all young--two women and a man.  Now I'm looking for a campsite. Moments later, the Trio yelled at me.  I went to where they were and saw a fort built in and around a juniper tree.  Great shelter from the wind.  The trail provides
  • Started 566.5 Ended 570.86

Sat 6/17 Day 37
  • Left camp at 4:15 am.  Darn it, I wanted to be traveling by 3:45.  Made it to Golden Oaks Spring, PCT mile 583.3, before 10:00 am.  Brother and sister from Germany--Wrong Way and Lizzy.  He started at Campo on May 24.  He's traveling FAST!  Today is Lizzy's first full day on the PCT. 
  • At 11:00 am I pushed ahead to 585.87--a shady spot with trees.  I hope to get to at least 592
  • At Golden Oaks Spring, one hiker said today was his 2 month anniversary.  I am traveling faster than some.  
  • Supposed to be 110*F in Mojave today
  • To get my miles I needed to hike in the heat.
  • I did this from Golden Oaks 583.3 to camp at 592.8
    • Easy pace to not sweat too much
    • Hiked in about three mile stints until I found shade
    • Shaded up, drank, ate, had shoes and socks off.  Even had a short nap in one shady spot
  • Started 570.86 Ended 592.8--about 22 miles

  • Not bad for an old duffer with a heavy pack
  • I have hiked almost 600 miles in two pairs of Darn Tough Wool Socks.  They are "darn tough,"  but no sock is up to the task of lasting a 2660 mile  thru-hike.  I'll need to send Becky my blue socks in Lone Pine, and I'll need to keep a watchful eye on the grey socks. 
  • I just talked to Flask, Captain Planet, David, and Beth.  It is really good to reconnect with friends.  I think the world of both couples. 
  • Day hiking today besides me were three from Germany--Wrong Way and Lizzy--the brother/sister team, and Simon.
  • Sun is down, pleasant temperature.  I hope the temp drops 15-20 degrees at least.  I sleep better when it is cool
  • Typical end of the day--my knees are growling at me and I'll likely have "leg twitches" for a couple of hours after crawling in the sack.  Sleep will be in short stretches with star-grazing in between.  Not a bad life.  If I stay off my feet and legs, my recovery is remarkable.  If I haven't said it before, our bodies are truly a miracle. 

Sun 6/18 Day 38 Started 592.8  Ended at Kelso Valley Road and water cache 615.8 12 miles
  • Even more than in other areas, the hiking is centered on water.  If the water cache is good at mile 630, we are in great shape for water
  • Just had a great reunion with Holly, Jesse, Gilbert, and Brett.  They said CP, Flask, Beth and David will be coming soon. 
  • Didn't get to see CP, Flask, Beth, and dAvid
Mon 6/19 Day 39
  • Left camp at 3:45 am.  Hiked from Kelso Valley Road, water cache at PCT mile 615.9 to Bird Spring Pass water cache at 630.2.  Tough fifteen miles--hot, loose, sand on uphill crawl (cruel PCT joke)
  • I want to get 6-10 more miles today, but not sure how
  • Afternoon hiking would be insanity times 10!
  • All the thru-hikers at Bird Spring Pass are saying the last fifteen miles might be the hardest yet.  Loose sand on uphills is tough going and slow.  
  • Left the water cache just before 6:00 pm  Ended 634.86 19 miles
  • A few hardy hikers hiked all afternoon.  I don't see how, it was darn hot today and no shade. 

Tues 6/20 Day 40
  • The day started early, my altimeter watch has a number of different screens.  The watch wasn't on my usual screen.  I left camp thinking it was 4:22 am.  It took a while to realize I actually left camp at 3:22 am.  (Becky here, there are certain times of the day that should never be experienced twice in the same day.  This is one of them.) I made it to McIver Spring by 8:00 am and to Walker Pass a little after 11:00 am. 
  • The day was extremely hot again, so no afternoon hiking.  I left Walker Pass Campground at 5:00 pm and made it to camp about 7:45 pm
  • Started 634.86  Ended 656.88  22 miles.

Wed 6/21 Day 41
  • Left camp at 4:13 am.  Beautiful night, billions of stars
  • Old Dogs For many days I've seen hikers in their 20s and 30s.  The lone exception has been me.  Today I hiked to the second saddle and there was Tankdriver, age 56 from Holland.  Then camped at first water was Lester, 58, from Poland.  I had not seen Lester since mile 151, Paradise Valley.  No old dogs except me.  Then there were three of us. 
  • After the water at 670--Spanish Creek, I moved on at 11:00 am.  It was hot and getting hotter.  I moved slowly, shaded up when I could.  About 1:00 pm I made it to a different saddle and shaded up for the afternoon.  PCT mile 672.8
  • It was hot going and there was a ton of climbing, and more to come.  Amazing--45 minutes after I made it to the saddle, Tankdriver shows up, and then an hour later, Lester came.  Three old dogs at Saddle (mile 672.86)
  • I think I am a bad influence.  they never would have hiked on in the heat. 
  • I'll move on around 5:00 to 5:30 pm to make it to the next water at 680.  Made it to the next water--eight miles of hiking from 4:10 to 7:15
  • Because of bugs, I set up the tent. Tent provides personal space and protection from insects.  But I hate the tent.  I like cool night air and stargazing and the freedom of cowboy camping. 
  • Last night was the night from hell.  I was so dirty, sticky and totally uncomfortable in the tent, as it was hot and stuffy.  Becky includes wipes, and wet towels. But I needed gallons of water (a shower) and I needed laundry.  No sleep until after 1:30 am and then only  a few winks.  
  • Started at 656.86  Ended 680.8 (24 miles)
  • 22 miles to Kennedy Meadows.  The day will start with a 2300 foot climb. 

Thurs 6/22 Day 42
  • Left camp around 3:30 am  Made it to Kennedy Meadows at 2:00 pm
  • Started 680.8  Ended 702.2  21.4 miles
  • When hikers approach the Kennedy Meadows store, there is a round of applause.  It is considered an accomplishment to make it to Kennedy Meadows as it ends Southern California and begins Central California

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Agua Dulce to Mojave,

Sat 6/10 Day 30

  • Hiked to mile 458.5--This leaves 108.5 to Mojave
  • It was good talking to Garrett with Becky and Garrett
  • Garrett has been doing a lot of checking.  The verdict:
    • Right now the Sierras are DANGEROUS
    • The epic snowfall means snow and lots of it.  Several stream crossings are impassable
    • People have been hurt, had their packs swept down river, or had everything soaked. 
    • It certainly looks like a complete thru-hike from Mexico to Canada is NOT a reality.  Only a very few have the skill-set and conditioning level to pull this off
  • We will regroup when I get to Mojave and possibly again when I get to Lone Pine. 
  • For me to enter the Sierras there needs to be a warm spell to melt a lot of now and send a lot of water downriver.  I'm not going into the Sierras unless I am assured the streams and mountain passes are safe for an old codger
  • After 2-3 days of a light pack, my pack feels like it weighs a ton.  Food heavy and water heavy.  I'm taking the hospital verdict seriously--"eat more and drink more"
  • Hiker Heaven in Agua Dulce is amazing: 
    • Extremely well organized space and system
    • Hut for showers; hut for internet and charging phones; hut for sewing, making repairs, and priority boxes for shipping things home or uptrail.  Trailer for cooking and watching movies.  Outhouse for . . . ; racks for hanging packs. 
  • Just met Lisa from Sweden.  She is just getting on the PCT.  Very nice young lady.  I hope the Sierras clear up so she can see the magnificent sights.  I would like that too. 
  • With the ten miles getting to Agua Dulce and four more this evening, I had a fourteen mile day.  All according to plan. 
Sun 6/11 Day 31 Full month completed

  • Started at mile 458.5--sandy wash
  • Ended at 478.2--paved road-------->19.8 miles
  • Cloud bank, high winds, cool all day long
  • Left camp at 4:38 AM.  Finished hike a little before 2:00 pm
  • Not having fun with this wind
  • Having some incredible gusts
  • Ate dinner at Green Valley Fire Station as there is a little windbreak and water
  • Found a sandy wash between PCT and Green Valley Fire Station for setting up camp
  • Many hikers were headed to the Andersons for the night
  • The Andersons are Trail Hosts and call their setup Casa de Luna.  I am okay camping alone.  A 63 year old man just doesn't fit in with folks in their 20s and early 30s
  • Mojave--my next town stop-- has become important
    • New shoes
    • Hair cut and Shave
    • Regroup with Becky and Garrett about the Sierras and forward planning
  • One of the helpers at Hiker Heaven was Jack Wallace.  He spent some time in Ephrata and went to school with Ed Hamlett.  Small World.

Mon 6/12  Day 32
  • Started in the sandy wash 478.2 -- Ended at 500.2  22 miles--not counting the 1.6 mile mistake
  • Last night, it was windy--very windy--one gust would have taken the tent had I not been in the tent. 
  • Then it got calm and hit dew point.  Everything got wet. 
  • Then it got windy again
  • Cold and windy early
  • At 495.5 there was water at Upper Shake Campground.  The ONLY water for 15 miles in either direction.  The junction was not marked " water" or "camp ground."  I overshot the junction by 0.8 miles and had to turn around and retrace my steps to get back to the junction--1.6 mile mistake.  
  • I read a note--a couple of guys are to celebrate reaching 500 miles on the PCT with a shot of bourbon.  Not bad, but I've got 'em beat. I celebrated by eating Texas Brisket.  I did the BBQ and dehydrated it.  Unless you had a special dinner, my dinner beat yours.  It was plum good.
Tues 6/13 Day 33  started 500.2, ended 523.16 (almost 23 miles)
  • Agua Dulce is where Hiker Heaven is and mile 518 is where Hikertown is.  Both places are very nicely set  up for hikers. I spent a few hours at each, but did not spend the night at either. 
  • I saw very few hikers today until Hikertown
  • I hiked 5 miles on the Aquaduct this evening.  The  Aquaduct delivers water to LA.

Wed 6/14 Day 34 
  • Left camp a little before 4 AM as it is supposed to be hot. Made it to Tyler Horse Canyon--mile 514.6 (18.4 miles)
  • Hiking the aquaduct was different--fast miles, a lot of flat ground, long stretches were perfectly straight. 
  • Long lunch break 12:15-4:20
  • Started 523.16 ended 546.43 (23.27)
  • Interesting incident during lunch break at Tyler Horse Canyon.  A hiker said, "Wayfarer, he's headed toward you." I looked up and saw a yellow and black snake (non-poisonous) made its way around my pack and between the tree and me.  Probably less than a foot away. 
  • Camp with a view: My camp tonight has a great view--the wind farm, the area where I hiked the Aquaduct.  Elevation about 5300 feet.  As it got dark, the wind farm towers were blinking red lights warning aircraft to stay away. 
Thurs 6/15 Day 35
  • Beautiful night--stars, lights from towns and wind farm--started hiking at 4:15 AM I finished the long climb I started yesterday afternoon.  Parts of the climb were not fun--very steep side slopes with loose sand.  Foot placement was critical
  • Started 446.3.  Ended at 566 at Tehachapi Pass
  • Made it to Tehachapi Pass before 1:00 pm.  Not bad--20 miles before 1:00 pm
  • Caught the bus to Tehachapi--at BBQ and had a haircut and shave.  Had before and after pictures taken.  

  • On the way to the bus stop, I ran into Gilbert from Yakima.  I camped with Gilbert, Jessie, and Holly early in the trip.  He said others were also Tehachapi--Flask, Captain Planet, Beth and David.  With a lot of my friends in Tehachapi, it was hard to get on the bus for Mojave.  Had to do it, though, to get my resupply box. 
Fri 6/16 Day 36

  • At Mojave trying to get organized, talking to Becky and Garrett.  The plan: a resupply box (actually will be sent in a bear canister to Lone Pine)  Garrett will send his ice ax as mine weighs a ton.
  • The upcoming driest section of trail will be tough as daytime temperatures will be 100*+.  First water is 17 miles in and over a five-mile stretch, the PCT gains 2000 feet of elevation.  Then there are waterless stretches of 19 miles, 11 miles, and 24 miles.  All doable, but I'll need to camel up at the water holes and then hike with all diligence to the next water hole.  After Walker Pass, mile 652, the water and temperature situation should get better.  And maybe more snow will melt and more water flow down the rivers in the Sierras BEFORE I get there. 
  • How long will it take? 

  • On a car trip, kids will ask, "Are we almost there?" "How long until we get to Grandma's?" 
  • How long will it take to do a hike? The classic answer to many things, "It all depends. . . "
  • The easy answer is a formula
    • Hiking pace (mph) X hours hiking = miles/day
  • But it ain't that easy.  Here are some things that affect miles hiked in a day. 
    • Tread of the trail--smooth, firm dirt; loose sand; rock
    • The hiker--how fatigued; frequency and duration of breaks, motivation to get to  destination (town)
    • How heavy the pack--When I'm carrying six days of food and 3 or more liters of water, my pack is heavy and my pace is slower. 
    • How steep the trail--PCT is supposed to be graded for horses.  Most of it is.  But it ain't all PCT grade.  Some of the PCT is darn steep!
    • Obstacles slow you down--big steps up or down, boulders, blow down (trees), stream crossings. 
  • I notice these things more now because I'm older, and my conditioning declined while recovering from 2014 leg injury.