Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wrightwood to Agua Dulce

Mon Jun 5 (Day 25)

While at Mountain Hardware, looking at the PCT book with local PCT Hosts, a woman came up and asked if I were a hiker. Then she asked what I needed--a shower, laundry, and a ride back to the trail around 5:00 pm.  She said, "Come with me." Her name was Laura Ember.

  • Laundry is going, I've had a shower and fresh cherries to boot! Life is good!
  • Laura has a young man, Shawn, doing outside jobs for her. 
  • She just brought in three more hikers (1:00 pm)--Eric, Fennec Fox, Lucas
  • Laura fixed a fabulous dinner for four hungry thru-hikers--meat loaf, potatoes, veggies, watermelon, cookies, a candy she made, and ice cream. 

  • She took the other hikers to a place where they were meeting more hikers.  Then she took me back to Inspiration Point, took my picture, and had me back on the PCT before 7:00 pm.
    • A young hiker caught me, and then began a wonderful conversation.  His name is James, trail name--Brother.  Just after I said something about God blessing me, he said that he's a Christian too. Deep conversation relating our PCT hike to God and godly things.  We encouraged each other, prayed for each other. I continue to be amazed how the "the trail/God provides." I am so blessed, my heart is singing and my mind is thinking, "What a gracious God we have."
  • Camped at approximately 371.5 miles. 
Tues Jun 6 (Day 26)

  • Left camp just before 5:00 am.  Made it to Vincent Gap (Hwy 2) in short order.  
  • Had breakfast and used outhouse
  • Then began "the climb" to Mount Baden Powell--4 miles and 2700 feet elevation gain. To make matters worse, I walked past the turn to the spring.  It was not marked with a sign.  

  • I walked half a mile too far.  I had to drop 350 feet, get water, then climb back up the 350 feet for the second time.  A day-hiker named Susie took my picture at the summit.  
  • Maybe the climb up Mount Baden Powell, with the extra due to my mistake, took its toll.  But every mile after the summit seemed hard and slow.  
  • By the time I hiked to Little Jimmy Spring and campground, I was spent.  Hurricane (a gal) and Goldfish (a guy) were resting and sleeping. 

  • After resting I hiked another two miles to Islip Saddle (3rd crossing of Hwy 2). I intend to cowboy camp here (mile 386). Only 14-15 miles, but they were tough miles.  
  • Camelbak came later.  He's a cook from Portland. 
  • Hurricane and Goldfish arrived and hitched a ride around the endangered species enclosure. 
Wed Jun 7 (Day 27)
  • Left camp at PCT mile 386 at 4:40 am. 
  • Crossed Hwy 2 twice to Eagles' Roost mile 390.3
  • Road walked west on Hwy 2 to Buckhorn Campground and northeast on Burkhart Trail. 4.9 miles on the endangered species detour. 
  • By 9:05 I have done 8.0 miles.  Rejoined PCT at mile 394.3 
  • Hiked to 407.8 small campsite.  22.4 miles 
  • Trail Magic
    • Hiking towards me was a group of South Koreans.  They live in Los Angeles.  
    • One man gave me two garden grown cucumbers.  Might be the best food on the trip--flavorful, juicy, amazing

    • I was also given 2 granola bars and apple slices. 
    • Every group of South Koreans asked my age.  I took their picture and then I took a photo of Hurricane and Goldfish. 
    • Encouraging words from a hiker, probably in his early 30s, "You're sixty-three, right? Man, you're keeping up with us--you're crushing it!"
    • It doesn't feel like I'm crushing it.  End of the day I am beat, unable to form coherent thoughts for the blog. 
Thurs Jun 8 (Day 28)
  • This has been a bittersweet day.  I cranked miles today--from 407.8 to 430.6--22.6 miles
  • Had a good discussion with Cool Running (Brian) from Dallas, TX.  The Texas connection works every time.  
  • Of course we talked BBQ and football.  Brian recently left the military and decided to hit the trail.  
  • At the Mill Creek Fire Station, I was relaxing and getting water with Shine On, Peacock, and Nimbles.  
  • A car pulled in, it was Trail Angel Mary, who especially helps injured hikers.  Riding shotgun was Kaylyn from Toronto.  A tendon in one leg is giving her fits.  Mary is taking Kaylyn to Acton KOA and maybe the doctor. 
  • Last I saw Kaylyn and Kristen, they were confident and hiking well--a far cry from when I saw them early on with heavy packs. I hope Kaylyn is back on the trail soon.  The PCT community needs Kaylyn.
  • Fourteen miles from Acton KOA and twenty-four miles from Agua Dulce.  After three hard days, I'm looking forward to a couple of easy days. 

  • I'm currently using a pair of Brooks road running shoes.  They aren't doing well and neither are my feet.  They gotta make it to Mojave--some 136 miles up the trail. It's okay if you pray for my shoes and my feet. 
Sat Jun 10 (Day 30) 
  • Ten mile hike to Agua Dulce--PCT mile 454--Chile Cheeseburger and fries at Sweetwater Grill.  Also a salad

  • Ride to Hiker Heaven, very organized
  • My resupply box was here, thanks to Becky
One Month on the PCT
  • Tomorrow's hike will make it a full month on the trail.

     Here is my quick analysis
    • Big positive--I'm still plugging away and grinding out miles
    • After tomorrow I'll be around 475-480 miles from the Mexican Border

    • I could have been about 40 miles or so farther up the trail
      • Doing San Jacinto Peak cost me 10 PCT miles
      • May 31-June 1 hospital stay cost me 30-35 miles
    • With a total distance of 2660 miles, I need to do more than 500 miles each month  to beat the snow in Washington Cascades. 
    • Overall my hiking grade would be a C- (Becky here: Kevin is much harder on himself than he needs to be.) I gotta crank more miles .

    • I have had four GREAT Trail Angels
      • Bob Reiss in San Diego
      • John Wilson in Idyllwild
      • Evelyn Brasher in Hesperia
      • Laura Ember in Wrightwood
    • I have met people from all over the US, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Australia
    • Absolutely I am one of the "old dogs" on the trail. Most thru-hikers are in their 20s or early 30s. 

    • I have seen some amazing sights in desert shrub, forest shrub, forest grassland communities
    • I am still excited to see what's up the trail and who I'll meet. 
Looking ahead

  • More desert to Mojave, then "real" desert, the Mojave Desert.  
  • The Mojave features long water-carries.  Up to  42 miles between water.  I have heard that caches are up and going.  That will help
  • I'm going to get this in the mail and saddle up for a few more miles around 5:00 pm


  1. Some of my opinions on this post:

    1. Baden-Powell is one of the few climbs on the PCT that I felt slowed me down. In fact, it stands alone in that regard. Dad having a tough day there makes sense to me.

    2. There are 3 ways to get past the Endangered Species Closure: hike a short distance around the closure using the highways, hike a long distance around the closure using trails, or hike through the closure. Dad took the short detour. Last year, I took the long detour and found that it required someone with sure feet. After Dad's knee injury, he tells me that his balance isn't as good, so he made a better decision for him. I have a friend who hiked through it last year based on advice from some locals who said that the closure isn't needed or patrolled anymore.

    3. Dad is crushing it on the trail. The way you move quickly through the trail has much less to do with hiking speed and much more to do with hiking time. Dad doesn't spend a lot of time in camp or in town (unless it's in the ER) meaning that he can keep up with or even out perform many who are younger and "stronger" hikers. His method may be to grind out the miles, but I haven't seen a thru hiker in their 60s successfully hike the PCT any other way.

    4. Last year, my biggest problem on the PCT came when I tried to stretch out a pair of shoes 150 miles longer than I intended to. They fell apart and my feet got real bad as I hobbled to Cascade Locks. One of the strongest hikers I met had to quit the PCT less than 300 miles from the finish because the same thing happened to him. Dad's shoes are a potentially massive problem.

    5. Hiker Heaven is maybe the most legendary trail angel location on the PCT. The Saufleys host hikers at significant cost to them and are so good at it that any large organization should probably go study what they do. Neither Dad nor I stayed there overnight.

    6. Dad's analysis is pretty good except for his conclusion about how well he is hiking. C- is far too low of a grade. At this point, the trick is to simply stay on the trail. Trail legs typically come later and then the miles will follow.

    7. This year is an especially tough year to hike the PCT. People are dropping like flies in the Sierras or even after finishing Southern California. Snow is getting a lot of nerves on edge. Snow melt is causing stream crossings that range from just plain scary to literally deadly. That combination is causing people to drop out after what they consider the scariest moments of their lives. I personally think that with a detour, the right person can make it through the Sierras. Hopefully, with more time, the conditions improve and make it an easier trip for Dad.

  2. Kevin, you are doing fine, praying for your shoes to last before you get some different shoes. Keep plugging away and don't give up! You can make it!!!

  3. Praying for continued strength and favorable conditions.

  4. Kevin, I agree with your son. You are doing great. Keep it up! My prayers are with you 😊