Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 7, Lake Morena Campground (4/25)

Started off a little slow bc it was only about 8 miles to town, so no rush at all. walking through beautiful cow pastures and the amazing eagle rock just made the morning better.

That's bobcat on the rock, she had the best photo by far...

Warner springs used to be known by thru hikers for its resort and hot springs, only now it's been foreclosed so all the class of 2012 gets is a post office and the community center which turned out to be great. The community center has set up a small store and serves food to hikers as a fundraiser which was a pretty fantastic way to spend a morning.

Next came the tricky part. Where to go from here? See there's this big get together at the end of April for pct thru hikers called adzpctko and it is mostly this thurs-fri at lake Morena, 20 miles from the border.

Problem is we were about 2 days earlier than planned, and over 80 miles north. Answer? Hitchhike back and take an extra few days off. Rumor had it that lots of folks would be there early and we figured a ride wouldn't be too hard to find.

We were so wrong, after 3 hours on the side of the road 6 of us were still waiting but little brown saved the day. He is a section hiker who we had spent the night with who actually hitched back, got his truck and drove all the way back to rescue us from the side if the road.
So we are back at Lake Morena until Saturday or Sunday relaxing, letting feet heal and meeting a whole mess of other hikers.

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Day 6, barrel springs (4/24)

We all have good and bad days and I'll admit this one didn't start out on such a good note. Last night the wind was really strong and camping options were pretty limited. At around ten I was pretty convinced my tent had blown down with me in it. I dragged myself out only to discover that my tent was still staked no problem but the wind was so strong that it was blowing about half the tent in on itself. So after a loud and cramped few hours of sleep I was more than ready to say goodbye to that campsite. Only my tent stakes didn't really agree. After fighting with it for twenty minutes I had to give in and admit I had lost. The rock at mile 80 something had won and could keep the stupid half a stake that had snapped off. Oh and no it was a supposedly super strong groundhog stake for those of you that are curious.

Finally left camp and got to hike with someone knew. Booked it ten miles to our next water and the day was looking up.

The water was the infamous third gate cache and was marked by this lovely gate, after which we wandered around in the bushes until we found the incredibly obvious trail about two feet farther on.

Such an amazing thing these trail angels do!

Off into the muggy afternoon we went climbing up the ridge line and traversing our way back down.

Hitting our first big milestone...

And finally making it to our water for the night at barrel springs and a whole new group of people to hang out with.

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Day 5, campsite near mile 82

So much happens in a day that by the time I sit down to write on this thing I feel like I've forgotten half the fun stuff. Shorter entries too bc as much fun as blogging is my dinner tends to take precedence, hope it's all still enjoyable.

So today headed out from our dry camp and sped down hill towards water, the Rodriguez fire tank which was cold and delicious and really just a big giant cement tank in the middle of nowhere.

Nice breakfast break and we started on towards scissors crossing, which rumor had it was full of water, it's a cache stocked by local trail angels. We were excited to hear about water and rumor had it that it might be cooler, meaning 80's not 90's, plus all down hill...

Turned out to be 9 miles with no shade and no wind, a beautiful descent down to the valley floor started kicking out butts, really feels like the desert now with cactus everywhere, but way more old burn areas than any of us realized.

Passed quite a few south bounders heading for kickoff and finally got to the water cache after trekking across the valley floor. Not much water left but seems like I had lost my group of hikers on the climb to meet a whole new set. People sort of travel in loose groups and meet up in places like campsites and water caches so it's fun to see new faces.

This is the second cache, you really need to see it for yourself ;)

Decided to take advantage of the wind that had kicked up we started a long ridge climb in search of a campsite, all the while eyeing what may be a storm coming our way.

Our spot is windy but could be worse, great views and we are now closer to our next water source. This is a tricky section where water is sparse and makes for some long days.

YouTube Video

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Day 4, upper chariot

Another early start.

Quick 3.8 miles to pioneer mail picnic site and a nice long morning break. Then on towards desert view trailhead. 6 miles had us winding along ridgetops with views of the salton sea (at least that's what we think it was) and staring hopefully at rocks in search of any tiny hint of shade. After finally finding one spot we were out in flash after we found out a rattlesnake was already there and didn't want to share.

Off trail to our amazing stop at desert view trailhead where we got our first trail magic, ice cold sodas and water. So amazing.

Last few miles rolled on by as we continued down the ridge and finally found shade and our dry camp at chariot canyon along with at least 13 people. And on we go.

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Day 3, stealthy faucet canpground

Well it's official, we made it to Mt Laguna and our first resupply stop. Another early start in the hopes of beating the heat.

11 miles to Mt Laguna and a nice long break as we all sorted through food trying to work out how to eat for 5 days.

With only 6 miles to go we made our way leisurely towards a water faucet and our now stealthy camp back among the bushes. Water is pretty tricky for the next few days so we will see what happens...

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 2, Fred Canyon

Woke up bright and early and headed up out of houser creek towards lake Morena before the heat got to brutal. 60 degrees by 7 am had us worried.

Relaxed at Morena eating snacks and waiting as a few other hikers rolled in. After a nice long break headed towards cottonwood creek and then on towards boulder oaks campground.

Attempted to beat a bit of the heat by sitting under the trees at boulder oaks campground and enjoying the water faucet. After that was a climb out of the canyon in 90 plus heat with zero breeze. Definitely an energy sapper. Visibly slowing with achy feet we stopped at Fred canyon. About 16 miles from our start. Right now a total of 7 hikers here with a few more probably appearing before dark. Going to hit up Mt Laguna for our resupply and figure it out from thee. I've cream is the talk of the day.

Day 1, rattles and beestings, aka Hauser Creek

Made it to the border bright and early, a giant fence stretching in either direction with a cool PCT monument. A total of ten of us started out from scout and frodos (trail angels who put us up for the night and drive us to the trailhead at 6 am) this morning to tackle the PCT.

Now remember that small steps plan, well along with that my biggest goal has been to pace myself. I tend to get a little carried away and push myself to soon, ending up bitter and injured. I would hate to have to bail early due to injury so slow and steady is the plan.

Ended up going about 16 miles to Hauser Creek where 5 other folks from this morning have also stopped. A few haven't made it quite yet but should be getting here soon.

The hike was fantastic, winding up and through surprisingly green desert, although at over 90 degrees with no breeze it was no cakewalk. All part of the journey right?

I have the luck of being the only hiker today to startle 2 gigantic rattlesnakes, one in the grass and one right at eye level in a boulder just to keep it interesting. Also managed to get stung by 2 bees but nothing swelled up and I now have the nice habit of flinching and setting out at a dead run when I hear buzzing or rattles much to the amusement of my fellow hikers.

Luckily enough there is water in our campsite that doesn't look to awful and the long climb out of the canyon won't be tacked until the cool morning. Life is good.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Small steps

I've been told that the best way to tackle this journey is to break it down in your head. When you say two thousand six hundred and so miles it sounds ridiculous. But if you say, today I am walking to point x and just focus on that it, then hopefully it will all be at least a little less daunting. So today the goal is to get to amtrak and get on my bus heading down south, without forgetting anything too critical. And Thursday, well that's the border and right now That's enough to know. Because on Thursday this whole thing really starts.

And now an incredibly short video of my dog just to see if I can actually post a video on this thing.

YouTube Video

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Sunday, April 15, 2012


I feel like I am one giant ball of emotions, anxiety and excitement with some pure terror thrown in just for fun. My last day of work was Friday; my house is a mess of half packed boxes, lists and empty Ziplocs. My pets have been safely delivered to my mom’s house, a process that was much more dramatic for me than them, but at least it is done. And somehow what used to be months and months away is now 2 and a half days away. On Tuesday night I will hope Amtrak treats me kindly and makes the trip down to San Diego as painless as possible. 15 or so hours later the amazing trail angels Scout and Frodo will let me stay at their house along with a number of other hiker bums, giving us all a ride to the trailhead early Thursday morning. So barring anything dramatic Thursday morning I will be hiking the PCT!

Oh and in case you didn’t know trail angels are amazing people. Trail angels are kind folks who help hikers in some way. All dependent on the trail angel of course, some offer rides, or a night in their homes (including showers!), often they have food or stock water caches, or pretty much anything else helpful that you can think up. And why do they go out of their way to help hikers? Again lots of reasons, some are former hikers, or have friends or family who have hiked (or are currently hiking), maybe they love the PCT, or the hiking community in general, or maybe they just felt sorry for that poor dirty homeless looking person standing on the side of the road. Whatever the reason they are incredibly generous and are a great part of the PCT community.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Maildrop Madness

I have been slowly stashing food away for the last few months. Whenever I saw a good sale a few more things would get thrown into my cart, and slowly my house started filling with junk. It seemed easier for me to stockpile snacks than anything else. See with snacks everything always seems to look so tasty, and I can rationalize that no I still haven’t picked a lunch, but you can never have to much jerky, right?  Meals on the other hand require actual planning. Will I want some type of bread/tortilla with my lunch, will I have enough water for that dinner, wait how many meals do I have to fit into a bear can? All kinds of questions run through my head as I stare at grocery store shelves and once again threw pretzels or smoked almonds into my cart instead of pasta or potatoes. So see, I thought it would be the meals that would be my downfall. Only now that I finally sat down and started boxing things up, it’s the stupid snacks that are out to get me.
Calling it close you say? Well yes, in fact I leave in exactly one week. I finally sketched out a rough itinerary, including spots where I would really like things mailed to me, as last time I checked post offices don’t serve snacks (Warner Springs why did you close!) and while it is possible to resupply from a gas station I am trying to avoid it. Plus I have a ton of food squirreled away around my house, so rather than become a hoarder I have to make at least a few resupply packages for myself. Besides I really like the idea of strolling into town and being able to relax, not running all around to grocery stores and staring blankly at shelves, and then having to repackage days worth of food in a crowded motel room, at least not every town stop.  
I’ve learned I’m not a big fan of labor intensive breakfasts while backpacking so I will mostly stick with bars and occasionally cold cereal (with Nido, yup that’s powdered whole milk!). Lunches are a bit tricky as I don’t really like cooking and a big meal doesn’t exactly motivate you to keep moving. Plus I have often heard that it’s better to steadily snack throughout the day to keep your energy up rather than eat a few big meals, it makes sense, only now I need even more snacks plus a lot of variety so I don’t get sick of anything. Dinners weren’t to awful once I figured out a few recipes that were fairly tasty and filling; olive oil has become one of my favorite foods for fleshing out a dinner. Check out Pack Light, Eat Right by Brenda Braatan if you are interested in some interesting thru hiking nutrition info. Which leaves me with the space between breakfast and dinners, that’s a lot of hours of snacking…. Plus what happens when you leave bags of snacks lying around the house for months on end? Well at least some of them get eaten, darn you delicious looking crackers.
So after packing 4 whole boxes with what is probably way too much food I had a hissy fit because I still don’t know how I want to resupply through the sierras, which means I can’t successfully make those boxes yet and when I turned to my big pile of food to fill up the boxes for Northern California (I decided screw you sierras I will figure you out later) I was met with a sorry looking stack of leftovers. So back to the grocery store I go. Clocks ticking better get my butt into gear.