Thursday, July 13, 2017

Home Front

Before I start Kevin's portion of the blog, I have to apologize for the lack of postings in the last couple of weeks.  I hope the reason for this will become clear as I continue this post.

Mon 6/26 Day 46
Home Front
Legs from Germany
Kennedy Meadows Store

  • While I've been away, chores I've always done still need to be done
  • Yard care has been my job, but now I'm away
  • Grass is being mowed by a lawn care service
  • Becky has been watering
    • But there are issues with the automatic sprinklers
  • And the back part of our property, to be seeded to native grasses after I get back, has weeds. 
  • This is where a special friend comes in
  • I have known Harold Crose since January 1981 when Becky and I moved from Mountain Home, Arkansas, to Ellensburg, Washington. 


  • Harold is not just a friend, he's family.  We worked together, hiked together, been through hard times and good times together.  And Harold knows all about long journeys.  A few years ago he rode his bicycle across the United States--some feat.
  • Harold, I cannot begin to thank you enough.  I know Becky is very appreciative also
  • Many times on this trip, I have thought of the trips we shared
  • I do hope it works out that somewhere on this PCT hike that you can join me
  • Thanks, Brother!

Lone Pine: Items of Note
  • Attending Mt Whitney Baptist Church--pretty emotional experience with brothers and sisters in Christ.  Brought me to tears
  • Chinese dinner--very good 
  • Always:  taking a shower and doing laundry--just wonderful
  • Leaving my credit card at the Chinese restaurant and then getting it back the next day. 
  • Phone calls with Becky, Garrett, and Harold.  I unsuccessfully tried calling Leanna 3 times.  She's one busy person. 

YIKES! A Big Mistake on My Part 
  • When I ended my hike on Saturday, I just threw my pack in the back of the pick up and we left. 
  • Every other time that I ventured into town,  I made sure my steps were tied in.  This time I didn't.  I just got in with James and we left from one parking lot below the trailhead
  • Today I had a shuttle lined up.  He took me to the trailhead.
  • A good ways up the trail I realized that I had not tied in my steps.  There is a break of 0.1 miles or so between where I got in James' truck and where I was let out today.

  • Had I had the "tie in my steps mentality," I would have been all tied-in in about 3-5 minutes. 
  • When I realized my mistake, going back would have cost me 60-90 minutes.  I just wasn't willing to re-do that part of the trail two more times.  
  • And I feel awful about my mistake.  I lost the integrity of my trip, and I know now, I should have gone back to tie in my steps. 
  • I am camped just above Chicken Spring Lake, elevation 11,300 ft PCT mile 751.03
Tues 6/27 Day 47
Mattie from Holland and Nick from Vancouver BC

  • I am still suffering from remorse and angst about having a break in my steps. 
  • today I saw what the Sierras are about.  Dicey to impassible river crossings
  • Rock Creek--a sign said to cross near the ranger station and that where the PCT crosses rock Creek is impassible.  Impassible is an understatement
  • Ran into a couple that turned around at Tyndell Creek.  The creek rolled him.  Some folks are getting through, but a lot of others are just turning around. 

    Rock Creek
Kevin with Captain Planet and Flask
  • I am convinced that 
    • more than one set of eyes and more than one head is essential right now for stream crossings
  • A solo hiker (I am one) is one mistake from a serious situation
  • I am not as strong as I once was.  I do not have as good balance as I once had. 
  • It is not good for me to hike the Sierras alone.  In a few weeks it might be much better
  • Tomorrow an attempt on Mt Whitney.  We'll see--left knee and left hip flexor hurt.  Not sure if I'm strong enough or fast enough to summit.  Back hurts also.  Attrition of 750 miles
    Kevin, Captain Planet, and Flask, again

  • Tomorrow I need to decide
    • Do I try to push on, Tyndell Creek, Forester Pass, Kearsarge Pass to Independence
    • Or, do I retreat back to Rock Creek, Cottonwood Pass, and back to Lone Pine
  • I hiked awhile today with Mattie--a girl from Holland, and Nick from Vancouver, BC.  They knew each other before this trip.  They left Campo on May 1st
  • Hiked from PCT mile 751 to PCT mile 767 and at least one mile of John Muir Trail.  I am just above the ranger station. The crossing of Rock Creek was hard.  I'm glad I did most of it with Nick and Mattie
  • The crossing of Crabtree Meadow was also a challenge.  I found a log, but it was not flat.  It would have been uphill and potentially slick as there was no bark.  I waded across barefoot and carried my shoes and socks in my hand.

Wed 6/28 Day 48
  • Summit Mt Whitney--tallest peak in lower 48
  • Mattie and Nick were suffering from altitude sickness, so I stayed with them
  • We summited before noon
  • Also summiting--a new newlywed couple, married for one week
  • On the way up I saw Captain Planet and Flask on their way down.  I told them my plan. Photos were taken
  • On the way down, I also ran into two other older couples.  They gave me some Trail Mix and wanted to know about the Enchantments, since I'm from Washington State.
  • I heard "Wayfair! Wayfair!" It was Lisa from Sweden.  I told her what to expect on the way to Mt Whitney.  I also told her my plans
  • Lisa got my phone number and will send me a text

  • Great Recall, Except . . . 
  • On the way down I had great recall of the return route from Mt Whitney . . . except where the camp was
  • In my mind camp was further east.  I was confused
  • I ran into Nick and Mattie.  They set me straight.  I had gone the right way, except I did not go far enough. 
  • The Plan
  • Return back to Cottonwood Pass and on to Lone Pine
  • Catch a bus to Reno and fly home 
  • When snow has melted, resume the trip from McKenzie Pass, OR, traveling southbound
  • It's just too dangerous for a solo hiker, especially one my age.  Two sets or more of eyes and brain are needed to make travel more safe
  • The Offer

  • Mattie offered to let me join her and Nick.  It's not right for an old duffer to interfere with a good team, but offer much appreciated. 
Thurs 6/30 Day 50
  • Hiked down to Horseshoe Meadow Trailhead
  • I tied my steps--took 2 minutes 15 seconds
  • I am a HAPPY HIKER! Steps tied in from Mexico to PCT 767, and the integrity of my trip is restored
  • Talked with Becky and Garrett.  Garrett will check on snow conditions from McKenzie Pass, Oregon, south through Crater Lake National Park.

  • If snow is gone we will:
    • figure out how to get to Bend, OR, and back on trail
    • If snow is still an issue, I'll fly home and wait it out.  Then get back on the trail hopefully by July 15. 
  • It feels weird being back in Lone Pine
  • Until yesterday, my hiking has been northbound
  • Hiking south, I felt like an army retreating following a defeat
  • Next bus to Reno doesn't leave Lone Pine until 6:00 am Monday.
  • Last night I camped at Chicken Spring Lake in the exact same campsite I used on Monday
  • Being in Lone Pine has given me opportunity to reconnect with 
    • Holly, Jesse, and Gilbert--we camped together WAY early in the trip
    • T-Bone-a big group at the Best Western at Cajon Pass.

  • I feel out of sorts on days when I don't hike much.  The hiking is often hard, but I seem to be okay grinding out the miles. 
  • Tomorrow and Sunday will be no hiking in Lone Pine
    • What will I do with myself? It's too weird to even think about
    • Getting up and hiking on the PCT is what I do.  It's what all thru-hikers do.

  • It's not the Trail
  • For 25-30 years, I have thought about this year, my year to get on the PCT is a serious matter
  • All along I thought it was about the PCT and the hiking
  • Don't get me wrong--the idea of a 2600 mile trail that takes one from the Mexican Border to the Canadian Border is mind-blowing.  Way cool!

  • But I have come to realized that it is not about the trail.  Yes, it's really about THE PEOPLE
  • The PCT brings people together from across the US and from across the globe. 
  • Had I stayed at home, I'd have never met people from Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland, Poland, Sweden, England, New Zealand, Australia, and most of the fifty states
  • Our common bond was the PCT
  • Our common tasks are to hike, to find good water, to drink & eat, to find campsites
  • Friendships are made quickly and on the fly
  • You see someone you haven't seen for miles and miles--instant reunion, catching up, reminiscing about earlier meetings

Sun 7/2 Reunion

  • One-Eleven
  • W
  • Charlie & Lani
  • Kaylyn & Kristen    \   HUGS
  • David & Beth          /
  • At evening dinner met up with Wrong Way & Lizzy from Germany, Papa Hom!e & Refill and Michel from Switzerland

Mon 7/3 Bus leaves Lone Pine at 6:15 AM
  • @ Big Pine--Kevin Smith and Dorothy Haskell (from Moses Lake)
    • recommended Liquid IV from Costco--contains sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium 
  • Many plans by hikers retreating from the Sierras: flip up to Sierra City, Belden, Ashland
  • Hike South from McKenzie Pass, Ashland
  • Flip up to Sierra City, Belden, etc and travel NOBO*
  • Flip up to Ashland and travel SOBO**
  • Leave PCT and go to another trail--Appalachian Trail, Coastal Trail in Oregon and Washington
  • Flip up to South Lake Tahoe and go NOBO
  • My plan: flip to McKenzie Pass (mile 1981).  Will take 8-10 days to get to Crater Lake (~ mile 1800)
  • I must to call Courthouse Motel in Independence and Vermillion Valley Resort to return my resupply boxes.  I NEED the maps especially
    Lizzy and Wrong Way siblings from Germany

Thilo, Jukebox, and Chef

  • Warning at Rock Creek

Decision to come off Trail - Bitter & Sweet
I wrestled with my decision - push on ahead from Mt. Whitney knowing the risks of stream crossings, or retreat from the Sierras and play it safe.  Decisions come with consequences.  I will have missed 19 days of hiking (July 1-19) and this will likely cost me the chance to complete a thru-hike of the PCT this year.  It has been sweet spending time with Becky and getting to know the new addition to the family, Abby a 10-year old Belgian shepherd.  The bitter part of coming off trail is not knowing if I will see my PCT friends again.

Plans as they stand now:
Becky will drive Kevin to McKenzie Pass on July 19 and he will begin hiking SOBO to Lone Pine. I have section hiked the PCT from McKenzie Pass all the way to Canada, and I have continuous steps from Mexico to PCT mile 767.  If I make it back to mile 767 I will have completed ALL the PCT.  Not a thru-hike.  Also by traveling south I will have a chance to meet my PCT friends; this is more important than tying in my steps.

I want to thank everyone for your interest in my trip and kind words.  The card signed by my SRM friends is WAY cool.  Thanks Will Keller for your card and words from 2 Peter.

More hiking vocabulary: 
*NOBO--north bound
**SOBO--south bound


  1. I have enjoyed your journey, and you made the right decision. I follow the JMT Facebook page and have read much about the dangers there. You have much to feel proud of, that is quite something you have done!! Looking forward to seeing you continue your journey.

  2. One thing to note: you said the integrity of the trip was lost, but I want to remind you that yours is more important, and yours certainly is not. You have worked long and hard and been honest about your journey, struggles and all and I see you with more integrity than when this trip started. I hope that is encouraging to you.

  3. A few thoughts from Pathfinder about Dad:

    1. It's painful to leave the trail. I finished last year without issue and had a very hard time adjusting to life after the PCT. I don't want to know what it would have been like if I didn't finish. You see, we talk about freedom a lot in this country, yet most people develop obligations that prevent them from really experiencing it. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but thru hikers understand freedom in a way that almost everyone else doesn't. Losing that is TOUGH!

    2. Continuous steps is a personal decision. If you decide to do that, you don't take half measures and Dad certainly didn't. If he would have been able to go all the way through to Canada, but didn't have continuous steps, he wouldn't think he was successful. I'm happy he was able to tie his steps back together. My best guess is that he would have travelled back to Lone Pine just to tie in his steps then called it a success.

    3. People are the best part of the PCT. At its best, the scenery can be stunning, but I would rather be in the Wind River Range for scenery. The physical challenge is amazing, but there are a lot of ways to challenge yourself and I have had day trips where I accomplished more technically and physically challenging things. The people you meet make the PCT feel special in a way that you can't get in the Winds or on other HUGE challenges.

  4. When backpacking during the cold months of winter, insulation and clothing is important. It's a no-brainer that you can freeze to death when you don't have adequate clothing. Also, illumination, navigation and first aid supplies are also important. Don't forget shelter and sufficient food to tide you over. For more tips and information, see: