Monday, September 18, 2017

Sept 4-7

Mon 9/4
Started VVR Landing 878.8  Ended 889.8  about 11 miles  (not counting 1.5 miles from landing to PCT)

  • With VVR "not having my resupply box, then finding it late yesterday, cost me four hours of prime morning hiking--I lost some 8-10 miles of hiking today. 
  • Hiked up and over Silver Pass.  Same lovely sub-alpine and alpine zones as the other passes. 
  • Staying at VVR also cost me a couple more meals

Mistakes Happen
  • At VVR I met Jori from the Netherlands.  At the ferry landing Jori was ahead of me to the junction with the PCT
  • I am NOBO while Jori is SOBO
  • I turned toward Silver Pass and after a bit here comes Jori.  Jori said, "How embarrassing!" I replied, "Mistakes happen." 
  • Then coming down Muir Pass we saw a hiker fall when a rock rolled under his foot
  • I have had my own missteps where I lost some skin. 

  • At VVR I met Mike and Shari Dunn--about my age and very nice.  They seemed intrigued by my stories of long-distance hiking
Tues 9/5
Started 889.5  Ended near middle fork San Joaquin bridge 907.3  (17.8 miles, not counting about three miles because of poorly marked signs)

One day--Two mistakes
  • I've made three wrong turns entire trip--two of them today.  
  • First on, I missed a sign and should have made a hard left turn at a switchback---minor
  • Poorly marked intersection 
    • I saw that I needed to go near Duck Lake and took that trail.  I should have turned left toward Reds Meadow. 
  • This poorly marked intersection cost me about three miles and more than an hour
  • Later I ran into Roland from Germany.  We saw each other several times in northern California.  Roland was as happy to see me as I was to see him. 

  • Jori from Netherlands (met Jori at VVR)
    • Jori is a SOBO hiker
    • Jori has no problem skipping significant portions of PCT
      • He started at Stevens Pass, WA,--skipped Canada to Stevens 
      • Skipped big section in Oregon
      • Skipped big section in northern California
  • At camp I laid down and Later could hardly move--my back is stiff and sore.  Way worse than it has been.  We'll see how it goes from here. 

Wed 9/6
Early start 5:25 AM Much improved signage, which made me happy.  No wrong turns
  • Started 907.3  Ended 926.9  19.6 miles
  • I had time to go a little further but there are no campsites identified and looked like a storm was coming
  • It is 6:30 p, and I've been in the tent for an hour.  Thunderstorm, some rain, some hail, more light rain
  • Last night's thunderstorm--the tent performed beautifully.  It was great. 
  • Thunderstorm is booming and cracking
  • One PCT hiker (a guy) named Nec (as in nectarine) is about 100 miles from completing PCT.  He only needs to go to Kearsarge Pass
  • A gal is hiking to Mt Whitney, but she also has Washington to do.  I hope she makes it.  She will be in Washington well into October. 

Becky is a Genius
  • Becky added a packet of McClard's BBQ sauce to two meals--pulled pork and brisket.  Wonderful!
Thurs 9/7  Started 926.9
  • Left camp at 5:00 AM, hiking under full moon
  • Hiked over Donohue Pass.  The other side was typical--rocky and steep. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Independence to VVR

Mon 8/28

  • At 10:00 AM I went to the post office--my resupply box was there. 
  • Bummer--waiting for post office to open.  I missed shuttle rides to trailhead at 6:00 and 7:00 am

  • Guy named Brian picked me up at 11:30 and I started hiking at noon. 
  • Hiking UP Kearsarge Pass is 3000-3500 feet of elevation to climb
  • Ran out of gas/energy to climb over Glen Pass to climb over Glen Pass too
  • Camped at PCT mile 790, about one mile shy of Glen Pass
  • I was bummed at missing the early shuttle rides, cause I know I'd have made it over Glen Pass. 

The Trail/God Provides Again
  • A hiker liked my campsite and took a photo.  I did too. 
  • Around 6:00 pm, I heard, "NO WAY!" I looked up to see Carsten.  We hugged and darn near did a happy dance. 
  • We talked and talked--Carsten told me all about summiting Mt Whitney, and I told him about my stay in Independence. I cannot begin to tell you how much I like Carsten.
Tues 8/29

  • We left  camp at 5:30.  By 6:30 we were on top of Glen Pass.  It felt like we were on top of the world--3000 feet and incredible views 
  • Breakfast, photos, and several "Can you believe this?" 
  • The way down Glen Pass was steep, rocky, and hard going.  
  • Hiking the rest of the day was hard--steep up or down, big steps, rocky, lake crossings and stream crossings.  Other than wading barefoot at one stream crossing, I never got wet once
  • Carsten wanted a long lunch break. I felt I'd better make tracks.  So we hiked solo in the afternoon
  • The suspension bridge over Woods Creek swayed and bounced with every step
  • Then I started the long toward Pinchot Pass.  The climb to the Pass is some 3500 feet.  After doing Glen Pass and all the hard hiking I had no idea how far I'd get. 
  • I just try to be steady and slow, and get into a rhythm, step after step.  Keep plugging away.  I check my altimeter watch every half hour to be encouraged by my progress. 
  • The maps showed water at PCT mile 806.  Carsten's info showed a campsite.  
  • At PCT mile 805.55, below the trail I saw water and possibly a bivvy site.  And I saw nothing promising ahead. 
  • Water secured and tent set up, I cook dinner--pulled pork and even McClard's Barbecue sauce.  Thanks, Becky!  I stood up and BINGO! -- there's Carsten on the trail above me.  
  • It is before 7:00 pm and in our tents--pesky moquitoes
  • Knees are growling at me BIG TIME--way too much steep downhill. 
  • Started PCT mile 790     Ended PCT 805.6  approx 15.6 miles.  
  • There were very few easy miles.  I had to earn darn near every mile. 

Wed 8/30

  • 6:45 am--we are holed up in our tents trying to let the rain pass.
  • Finally left camp at 7:15 am (one hour and forty-five minutes late for me.)
  • Made it up and over Pinchot Pass with Carsten
  • During the day, the weather changed frequently--rainy to sunny
  • I put on pack cover and rain gear multiple times. 
  • Carsten needed a long lunch break, so I moved on climbing Mather Pass and making my way to lower Palisade Lake solo
  • Carsten made it to campsite about 6:00 pm
  • Started 805.6 Ended 820.5  about 15 miles
  • People coming down Mather Pass kept talking about snowbanks.  I had far more problems with loose rock than snow
  • I could not believe how many people were camped at Lower Palisades Camp.  A woman showed me a campsite amongst shrub willows
  • About an hour after I arrived at Camp, Carsten camp in. 
Thurs 8/31

  • We left camp at 5:30 am.  I love hiking early--you've got the trail to yourself and you get to see sunrise develop
  • At one point we were passed by an older couple.  First time this happened the entire trip (being passed by folks approximately my age)
  • Both Carsten and I noticed something odd--the man never looked back to see if his wife/friend was doing ok.  It didn't matter if there was a downed log across the trail, a stream crossing, or a steep uphill.  He just kept on hiking. 
  • This made us angry, so we passed them back. 
  • We hiked a long time in the alpine zone--no trees, mainly rock and lots of streams and lake
  • We camped at the very last campsite below Muir Pass, elevation 11,300 feet.  We had a a dry spot with grass 
  • Beautiful view, but a totally exposed campsite.  If bad weather hits, you are at the mercy of the weather

  • A guy named Jason joined us.  Jason was upset with his partner, a Japanese man.  The Japanese man was nowhere to be found and he had their stove.  This left Jason with no way to cook his dinner. I let Jason use my stove and cooking pot. 
  • Jason is somehow helping Locus Gear market their cuben fiber tents
  • Around 7:30 pm, a thunderstorm was pounding the mountains east of us.  Carsten asked where we would go if the storm hit us.  I said, "Nowhere. We stay in our tents on the sleeping pad."
  • We had nowhere to run or hide
  • About 8:00 pm, it rained for a bit and quit.  I thought we were out of the woods, so to speak.  I was wrong. 
  • About 10:00 pm, rain and wind hit us hard.  We stayed dry but my hiking shoes, which were just outside the tent in the vestibule got soaked.
  • The night was cold.  Besides base layer, socks, and stocking cap I wore wind jacket and gloves
  • Started PCT mile 820  Ended at 837  about 17  miles
Fri 9/1

  • We waited until 6:42 to leave to make sure we could find the trail as it crossed snowbanks and streams. 
  • Snow started out hard.  On the very first section of snow, I used microspikes.
  • We crossed multiple snow fields and streams and climbed steep, rocky sections. 
  • Muir Pass has the coolest stone hut.  We enjoyed the hut as it was windy and cold at the Pass.  
  • How am I doing? my back hurts late in the day (one reason I stopped early today), my knees ache at night, I'm frustrated at only doing 15 miles per day in the Sierras, I want a shower and clean clothes, I want to sleep in a bed.  In short, I'm loving every minute.  The Sierras have tough miles but BIG rewards. 
  • I've now seen a big section of the Sierras.  Here are a few descriptive words:
    • stunning
    • jaw-dropping
    • beautiful
    • amazing
    • awesome
    • incredible
    • beyond belief 
    • wonderful
    • Post Card beauty
  • Neither words nor camera can capture what I'm hiking through.  I am so blessed to be here. 
  • Solo again

  • I have experienced many miles of hiking alone and also many nights of camping alone on this trip.  
  • Carsten wants to experience "alone time." Reasonable request
  • We both enjoy each other's company, but I left when Carsten was on an extended lunch break
  • Started PCT mile 837    ended mile 852  about 15 miles
Sat 9/2

  • Left camp at 5:21 am
  • Two Falls Same Day
  • While it was still dark, within a few minutes of camp, my right foot caught a root and down I went. No harm, no foul
  • Later in the morning, I stepped on a rock that was steeply angled.  Down I went again, but this time I lost a little hide on my right shin
  • This caused me to lose a little confidence with the next 2-3 stream crossings. 
  • Came over Selden Pass about 12:15 pm.  Same beautiful wonderland as the other passes.  If you like alpine and sub-alpine zones, the Sierras are "eye candy"
  • Started PCT mile 852      Ended 873.6  about 21.6 miles
  • I'm so glad to finally pull a 20 mile day again. 
  • Camped with Chris.  Campsite had a wonderful seasonal stream nearby--flowing over a rock for easy water. 
  • Chris and I talked "hiker talk" and then I hit the sack.  I need an early start to make sure I'm at the dock for the ferry tomorrow morning. 
Sun 9/3

  • Started hiking at 5:25 am.  Needed my headlamp for 5-10 minutes
  • The trail from camp began steep and rocky.  But after awhile the trail became smooth and much more level. 
  • I cross the steel bridge over Mono Creek and then took the trail to the ferry landing. 
  • VVR--Vermillion Valley Resort--has a system: they start a tab for ferry ride, food, shower, etc
  • Big Time Bummer!  My resupply box is NOT here!  VVR is a resort on National Forest land and needs more time for a mail delivery
  • I can get by without the food by just using the hiker box. 
  • But I absolutely need the maps from VVR to Tuolumne  (PCT miles 878 to 942).  From other hikers going South, I've scrounged map from 878 to 916.  If I took off now I'd be hiking "blind: the last 26 miles. 

  • Passes  I have crossed several mountain passes in the Sierras
  • Forester: highest at 13,000 feet plus
  • Glen, Pinchot, Mather, and Muir are about 12,000 feet
  • Selden is almost 11,000 feet
  • Glen Pass was very steep coming down north side
  • Muir Pass was the most sporty--several snowfields and stream crossings that were a challenge.  Combined with the stone hut, Muir Pass was fun!  
  • Perspective: the PCT in Washington and Oregon does not get much over 7,000 feet. 

  • I made several calls to Becky and left messages concerning my resupply box tracking number.  She doesn't answer calls from numbers she doesn't recognize. 
  • Calls were made on VVR's satellite phone.  They use a timer to know how much to charge the customer (me)
  • About late afternoon, I no longer cared about the resupply box.  Now I had a much bigger concern--something was wrong with Becky.  I was prepared to end my hike and skedaddle home.  
  • Finally I left a message with Garrett.  I was pacing up and down like a cat. 

  • Becky called and she was ok (in my defense, my phone no longer notifies me if I have a voice mail message.) And my box was delivered on Wednesday. 
  • Sure enough the box was there.  But I had planned to leave today on the 4:00 pm ferry.  Grrr!
  • I'm much relieved that Becky is ok.  I can continue my hike as planned. 
  • I am pleased my priorities shifted from resupply box to Becky.  
  • Tomorrow I'll be on the 9:00 am ferry, make my way back to the PCT and point my footsteps northward toward Tuolumne and home. 
  • I have a sense of urgency to tie in my steps and get back home.