Thursday, May 24, 2018

Snow field

This photo is by Steve Lewis right around PCT mile 1531. 

This was taken on 5/19/18. Nope. Way too much danger for me. Thanks to Steve for sharing this information. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Best Laid Plans...

I’d been asking online for a couple of weeks about the potential snow difficulties I might face doing this section so early in the season. All the intel I had suggested it would probably be ok, with some north facing slopes still snow covered. Micro spikes were recommended. No problem as I have a pair I’ve never used and it’s about time I got them dirty. 
Last night on the Facebook Section Hikers of the PCT page a gentleman posted pictures he had taken four days earlier of a chunk of trail just 30 miles from my starting point. Hot damn. I don’t have the image but he showed an expanse of north facing trail that was deep snow with a cornice over the trail and no footsteps across. This guy regularly hikes in this area and he said he wouldn’t want to cross that snow field. 

I don’t mind telling you this sort of threw me into a panic. If I stuck to my plan I would been there a short two weeks after his photos were taken. Certainly not enough time for the snow to melt out in any appreciable way. Another member let me read a blog post she had written of encountering this same section in a past year. If I needed any more reason to change my plan, that was it. 

But what to do? I had already purchased a train ticket from San Jose to Dunsmuir and had mailed my food resupply boxes a couple of days ago. If I changed my plan to hike from north to south, that train ticket would be worthless, being non refundable. $80 down the tube. Not only that, the maps I needed for the trail had been sent with my resupply boxes, in the exact opposite order than I would need them. What a curfuffle.

But there was nothing for it but for me to make the big switcheroo since there was no way in hell I was gonna cross that snowy expanse of icy snow. I know there are inherent risks in solo backpacking but deliberately walking into danger has never been my idea of a good time. 

Having made the decision I am much relieved and amazingly, the plan is working out quite well. I will drive to Ashland on Monday, hopefully see my cousin who is visiting from her home in Belize (I would have missed her otherwise) and another dear friend will come visit me in Ashland. I will start hiking south on the PCT on 5/30 giving the snow a few more weeks to melt before I get there. I’ll have to send more food (and maps🤪) to my box in Etna and maps to my stop in Seiad Valley. But still, it could be worse. And I must say I am happy not to be taking the train. I hate train travel. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

T-minus 7 days

Here we go again. I’ve been reluctant to start blogging here as I haven’t been sure I’d be going back out to the trail this early in the season, but it looks like everything is falling into place and I’ll be back out there soon. As in less than a week. 

So much has happened in this last year. Or maybe this happens every year and I don’t remember it from one year to another. But I’ve spent the past year diligently trying to lose weight. Why? Simply because I want to protect my knees, and I still want to backpack, at least for another decade or more.  I’ve been blessed with generally good health and haven’t had too many terrible joint injuries in the past but still, there is no reason to hurry the age related trouble along.  So, over this time I’ve been able to drop 20 pounds, and I am pleased. But dang, what a hell ride it’s been. I’ll never understand why it’s so easy to gain weight and it takes and act of Congress to lose one fricking pound. And with this Congress...

So the plan this year is to take the Amtrak to Dunsmuir, CA, hike five miles south to Castella, then hit the trail to Ashland, OR. This being around 213 miles. I expect to take three weeks, including a VERY slow first section and take two, two day layovers in the towns I will enter. Speed is not going to be my thing this trip. 

The hard part about doing low miles in the first section is that I have to carry more days of food to make it through the time on trail. For me this will be 10 days of food to carry, 3 days more than I’ve ever packed at any one time. So for once I’ve been super careful and have managed to get my food for this section down to 12 pounds total. In the carry bags. 

Nothing extra that’s for sure!!! We’ll see how it goes. I’m banking that the famous “hiker hunger” won’t kick in for the first section and that I’ve planned my food correctly. If not, I can still stand to lose a few more pounds. 🤪

Sunday, September 3, 2017


I woke before my alarm went off at 5am and was on the road home by 4:50. The cool thing about driving at that hour is the lack of traffic, and in today's case, the cooler temps. 

I drove in the dark till 6:30 or so then the sunrise started creeping up through the smoke filled sky. I didn't bother to take a picture as I was under the spell of the "horse to the stable" syndrome and I was on a mission to get home asap. 

I managed to beat most traffic, and I even stop at Trader Joe's on the way, and still got home at 9:30am. You know what they say about the early bird...

Once I arrived home I was faced with this mess to clean up. Almost a month away from home and my vehicle looked like a bomb went off inside of it. I did as much as I could, then I simply fell into a stupor. Because if this. 

What the hell?

There was a party to attend last night so I showered and gathered up my party persona and went to town. A group of friends has been having game night over the years and because I came home early, I got to attend this one. Plus make-your-own-tacos. Yummm. 

And the sunset was fine as well. 

So I guess this is it for now. I'll do a follow up post in a bit to wrap up this years hike and try to answer some questions folks have asked. In the meantime, thanks for following along. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Round-up

It was cool at Seven Oaks this morning, cool enough to have a cup of coffee sitting in the hot tub.  What kind of BLISS is that? The all caps kind. (Creepy looking hand though.)

I could have had delicious granola with fruit and milk but I've had granola every day, or almost every day, for three weeks so I opted to go to town and have bacon and eggs. Yummy, yummy, yummy. 

I took my leave of DW and thanked him again and again for his heroic drive to come get me. I hope he knows how much I appreciated his help. 

My last activity before heading back home was to drive to Kennedy Meadows and pick up the box I had sent there as my resupply. It's a couple hour drive so I wanted to do it when it was as cool as possible. 

Along the way I stopped in Jamestown at an "antique" store to see if I could find a belt at a decent price, since my pants were falling off. They were loose to begin with but now they are very loose. I rummaged around but couldn't find anything at a reasonable price so I gave up and headed on up the hill. 

While driving I realized something. I don't need a belt. I need something to hold my pants up! So when I arrived at KM I took come para cord I had with my camping stuff and cut me up a goodly length. I tied a bowline knot in one end, threaded it through my belt loops and tied it on with a half hitch. Perfect! Who needs a new belt? Ha!

I was very torn about whether or not to stay at KM for the night or drive home today.  It being the Friday before Labor Day weekend I knew the traffic would be grim, and the heat in the valley will be well over 100 degrees. Traffic and extreme heat or campground and hot but not melting temps? 

To help with the decision I drove around to see if I could get a site and found only one left. One. It is a crappy site, being in the full sun and all, but it is a place to stay so I snagged it. 

I was warned there is a human-food eating bear roaming these campgrounds and that this bear got some steak and tri-tip from someone last night. The campers ignored the pleadings of the campground hosts and now the bear knows to come back tonight for seconds, and thirds. Too bad because if the bear keeps getting a food reward it'll eventually be shot and killed. All because of human stupidity. 

Finally it got to be beer-thirty so I wandered over to the saloon. Football on the tube, Sierra Nevada cold and some real loud folks taking up space. Can it get anymore American than that?

The day bartender left and his replacement came on duty. I watched him get set up and then took a picture. Look how he lined up the bottles of hard stuff. 

I said I liked the way he organized his bottles and he said, "Yeah. I'm a bit OCD." I'll have to agree with him on that one. 

I went to the dining room to have the rib dinner and was disappointed with the food. It was ok but for the price it should have been better prepared. It was fine, just not great. Which is too bad since they're food has been great in the past. I'm thinking they need a new chef. 

The dining room is cool though. If you are partial to dead animal heads hanging on the walls. Or if you can ignore them. 

Finally, once the sun went down, I went back to the campsite to settle in for the night. It's weird being outdoors and surrounded by so many people and very large rv's and trailers. Not bad, just strange. 

I just re-read this post and it appears I'm getting grumpy. I guess it's a good thing I'm heading back home tomorrow. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Day 24 - Town

Today I wear cotton! But first...

It was burrrrr chilly this morning when the alarm went off at 5:30. I dutifully ignored it for a bit but finally I rummaged around in my clothes bag for my stinky hiking clothes. I'm gonna be glad not to put these on again tomorrow morning. 

Too bad there isn't a smellometer button you could push so you could experience the full effect. 

Anyway I took off around 6:45, not knowing when DW would get to town and not wanting to make him wait. 

It's been about 7 years since I hiked the TRT and I didn't remember much of the trail I was walking on. Initially I walked on an old road with a nice walking texture under foot. 
 Then the road became a river bed, or so it seemed. 
Eventually the trail crossed Ward Road which, had I turned right, would have taken me to Hwy 89 in 1.5 miles. Hummm. What to do?

Oh well, I was hiking, not road walking, so I went on ahead and took the trail. 

The remaining 4 miles was mostly either up, or down, though in the middle was a beautiful meadow. I think it is called Paige Meadow. 

I passed one last mountain stream, about 2 feet wide. 

Then it was down, down, down to Tahoe City. One interesting thing happened on the way down was that I was passed, both ways, by a group of Deaf folks running/hiking this section of trail. I only know because I stopped one man to ask him a question about something and he indicated he was Deaf. I signed, "Sorry, my bad" and he grinned, then went on his way. You meet lots of interesting folks on the trail. 

64 Acres is a big parking lot off of Hwy 89 and I finally got there.Texting DW to let him know where I was, he showed up about 2-3 minutes later! Perfect timing!

Then it was off to South Lake Tahoe to pick up the packages I'd mailed to the Mellow Mountain Hostel. Next up in the order of importance was eating, so we went to, wait for it...

I have a personal rule that I'm only allowed to drink sodas when I'm backpacking so I had my last soda with lunch. Burgers and fries are, however, a horse of a different color. 

We drove for 3-4 hours, getting to Groveland about 3:30. I couldn't seem to get my car open with the clicker thing so DW figured it out for me. I haven't had to concern myself with these kinds of things lately. Clothes retrieved, a shower was in order. 

There is nothing like Mexican food for a native Californian who's been on the trail for three weeks. Sopes, beans and beer. Ahhhhh. Life back in town. 

We watched a Harry Potter movie then it was off to bed. I'm headed to Kennedy Meadows tomorrow to retrieve my resupply box, for the second year in a row. Next year I might actually walk in rather than drive. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Day 23 - Ward Creek

🎼 What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours 🎼. But first things first. 

Seventeen switchbacks at 6:30 this morning. Dang. But the climbing got me up to some seriously stunning views and some crazy landscapes. First off were the head high purple flowers. 

Once altitude was gained this was the trail. 

Winding in and out of rock formations with lakes over one side 

And drop offs on the other. Do they really need to tell skiers not to drop off of cliffs?

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort looks nice, with Lake Tahoe in the distance. 
Another boundary marker. 

Then it was more rock and dramatic clouds. Early morning is best. 

After six miles I came to the junction between TRT and the PCT and I turned left, saying goodbye the PCT for now. 

Down, down, down I went till it was time to eat lunch. I can imagine you might be jealous of my gourmet meal. 

One of the things I was trying to do, while walking and taking pictures this morning, was to figure out how I was going to get where I needed to go once I hit town.  I had good cell reception so I contacted my old friend SG who volunteered to ask on a trail angel FB page if someone could help me. I also contacted someone else who had volunteered help but she had long term plans to go to LA, leaving this morning. So, to bring this back around to lunch, while I sat and chewed, I came to the conclusion that all this off trail logistics business was wearing me down and that I was ready to be done with this hike. Physically I am fine and haven't seriously injured myself and I'm not sick in any way, but I'm still done. Mentally I am done with being alone, having to deal with the uncertainty of town logistics and missing my loved ones. 

The only thing to do was to call A and discuss this with her and then decide for sure if this was what I wanted to do. Our friend DW has been saying to me, over and over again, that he would come and get me any time, any where. So I called him and it looks like I will be walking into Tahoe City tomorrow and DW will be coming to get me. The final details aren't yet set but at least I know what will be happening. 

This may seem like it is out of the blue but it isn't really. I've been counting the days till I finished at Kennedy Meadows and it still seemed like a long ways away. I hate giving up on goals but sometimes too much stuff gets in the way and the way out falls into place. That seems to be the case here. 

Once those details were agreed on I continued my steep descent and ran out of water just before I got to Ward Creek. Good timing that. 

I think I have about 5-6 miles to do tomorrow, or possibly a bit more. I have a screen shot of a trail map I got off the TRT website a few days ago but I'm not sure exactly where along the trail I am.

All together it was a successful day for me, having walked about 10-12 miles. Later in the evening I did have a bout of anxiety about asking DW to come get me. It is a long schlepp from his place to Tahoe and back. I just had to keep reminding myself he could have said no if it wasn't going to work for him. I am very grateful for his generosity.