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


  1. Things I noticed:

    1. Tehachapi Pass to Walker Pass is known as Section F in hiker circles. It is the driest section of trail and in many people's opinions, the worst (think of the nicknames this section gets). Hiking Section F with the heat Dad experienced is quite a feat by itself.

    2. Dad feeling the need to leave Mojave or risk ending his thru hike attempt happened in the exact location where that feeling hit me. Getting back on trail instead of staying in Tehachapi ended up being a turning point for me.

    3. Making it to Kennedy Meadows, Dad is averaging 17 miles per day including days he didn't hike at all or only hiked a short distance. That puts him not much slower than the fastest people I have been tracking this year. He's also significantly faster than many people. Don't listen to him talk about how slow he is.

    4. In my mind, Dad just made it to the second major milestone on the PCT. Getting to mile 100 is HUGE for most people, but since Dad had already completed longer hikes, not as big a deal for him. This one however is big. Completing the desert is hard. Part of the problem is that you have to work very hard to do it, and scenic rewards don't necessarily match the effort you put into it. So you have to find other rewards to keep on going. Now, he's on the best part of the trail in my opinion, the High Sierras.

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