Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 19th "What the heck?"

This is certainly a fluid trip. Woke up this morning kind of cranky and definitely dreading the long miles of road walking in my future. I wandered over to MG and she too had been thinking of the road miles ahead. Except she's done the miles herself so it isn't an abstract idea for her. Her solution to the issue was to "somehow" bypass this area and get over to Agua Dulce where we could move ahead without the projected misery of asphalt. Hum, how can we do this? What roads could we take? Hitch-hike? Now this the kind of problem I can find a solution for. But what about my hike? Skipping this much trail certainly drops me out of any illusion I might have had of doing a "thru-hike". Well, is this OK?

Way back, before I started hiking in April, my friend Pat (who is a Shaman) offered to do a power animal retrieval session for me. Since I can use all the help I can get I was really pleased with her offer and happily agreed. The two animals I was introduced to were a rattlesnake and a small red fox, both of which pleased me to no end.

For me the rattlesnake represents protection and determination. Kind of putting ones head down and not being distracted by extraneous events, etc. I personally like snakes so this animal friend felt very comfortable to me. The small red fox represents the playful, joyous side of life. Reminding me to play, enjoy and have fun. Something that can easily go by the wayside when I am consumed by a "goal".

Maybe this idea of a pure "thru-hike" is one of those goals that needs to be adjusted. Maybe the small red fox has the right idea and I have to make adjustments in order to avoid parts of this adventure that are, for me, grueling and without the fun factor. Or maybe this is just a rationalization and I simply don't want to walk roads!

Whatever the reason, thanks to my faithful friends Chris and Lisa, I'm on my way to Agua Dulce and the famous Hiker Heaven. I guess I'm just gonna have to call this adventure a Mega Hike and be done with the worry of doing it right.

May 18th Little Jimmy Trail Camp

Mile 384. Wooohie! It's a big ole climb up to Baden-Powell. I have to confess that once I got to the junction with the PCT and the peak trail, I decided to forgo the top. Reason being the wind. It was quite scary walking the last few hundred yards to the junction and as you can see from the photo it was quite exposed. Someone else might have been more comfortable with the trail in the high winds but not me. I didn't need to see the top that bad. Plus I'm not a peak bagger by nature.

MG took a photo of me standing next to a Limber Pine that is estimated to be 1,500 years old. These trees don't grow anywhere but the most extreme environments so they are hard to get to see. It's really extraordinary.

Today was a tree day. Meaning I noticed the trees a bit more than usual. I don't recognize the type of pine tree this one was but it looks like its roots are on the top of the tree. Flat on top. I call it an upside down tree. I am pretty sure it has a more regal name, and a reason it grows the way it does.

Tomorrow will probably be a day of much road walking. We are coming into a section of the trail that has many detours. Some due to the 2009 Station Fire, others to protect frogs and the longest one will be a road walk to avoid the dreaded Poodle Dog Bush. It's hard to figure out mileage and plan out a schedule as all our mileages are based on trail miles. So it isn't clear how long it will take to get somewhere. Just one more challenge on the PCT.

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 17th Near the base of Baden-Powell

Greetings from back on the trail. MG and I left Wrightwood at 5pm, taken to the trailhead by none other than Angel Stacey, who drove all the way over from Idyllwild to schlepp us around today. It was fun to see her and once again I grateful for her assistance. Quite the cheerful gal that Stacey.

The goal in walking five miles tonight is to be ready to tackle Mt. Baden-Powell tomorrow at first light, when it is cool and we aren't awake enough to know any better. I don't know, the climb is something like 4,000 feet in just about four miles. Fifty-two switchbacks I'm told. Yikes.

So far so good on the feet thing. I've got them propped up in my tent tonight and I think this is going to make a difference. At least I hope so! More will be reveled in time.

The wind is howling tonight. I hope my tent stays put!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 16th Casa de Gleason

Greetings from Wrightwood, CA. I am comfortably lounging about in Angela's parents cabin about a mile from the downtown area and have been joined by Mother Goose who just walked into town today.

My friends Chris and Lisa drove up this noon from Alhambra for a visit and lunch and we joined up with a bunch of hikers at a local eatery. I think it might have been their inaugural thru hiker contact and the talk was fast and food consumption furious. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.

Alphabet Soup had gone on tonight as he appears to be hitting his stride and he doesn't seem as affected by the heat. So he is off and running.

Me, I am planning another rest day tomorrow and will do as much foot remediation as possible before I get back out there on Friday. I hope the heat moderates by then. I hope, I hope, I hope. I know my attitude is better now that I'm off my feet and I'm showered with clean clothes. Funny that.

Rumor has it Stacey is planning to drive over tomorrow and hang with us for the day. There may be a BBQ in our future.

Well that's the update from Wrightwood. Thanks everyone for your support and encouraging words in the wake of my meltdown. I'm hopeful I will do better when I get back out there.

The rock is for Angela. I was going to carry it out but, well you know, the weight factor. A photo will have to do.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15th One month on the trail

I knew this would happen but I wasn't sure when it would occur. Today I hit the wall, hiker variety. One month on the trail, feet numb to the touch, tired and sore at the end of the day. I'm dirty, tired, cranky and I can't imagine doing this for four more months.

What to do? Hitch into Wrightwood and start my break a day early. Apparently six days is too long for me to be out there, cranking out the miles and struggling with the heat. I am no longer a So Cal gal and wilt after too many days in intense sun. I think I have my quotient of vitamin D, thank you.

So here I am at Angela's folks cabin with electricity, water, shower and a washing machine. If this doesn't cure me then nothing will. I hope this does the trick.

Do not go towards the light!

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 14 Mile 335.5

I just had a lovely dip, rinse off in Silverwood Lake. Four days of desert hiking had me and my clothes salt encrusted and grungy. Since the lake was empty of boaters I took a side trail down to Chamise Boat-in-Site and had myself a nice break in the water. It's only 9:18 right now but the heat is on and the water refreshing. Pretty soon I have to saddle back up and get to walking but I sure feel better for the dip. I recommend it!

This evening I am camped in Little Horsethief Canyon. A beautiful bowl with cottonwoods and willows supported by the seasonal creek running, well trickling through the center of the valley. It seems so removed from civilization yet just over the ridge and only six miles away is I-15, with trains a-tooting and rumbling along through Cajon Pass. Strange.

Tomorrow is an exciting day for thru hikers. When we get to Cajon Pass there is a McDonalds right off the trail and it is a tradition to go there and pig out. Who am I to break tradition? I will be there by 10am.

15 miles today and Wrightwood is only 28 miles away. Rest is in sight.

Pictures of the flowers encountered over the past two days. Yummy.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May 13th Shepard's food magic

At 5:45 am I was on the trail, racing the
rising sun and heat. I got through Deep
Creek Canyon without melting and walked up to the junction of Hwy 173. Low and behold, set up under a
Juniper tree was a trail angel named Shepard who had a food setup with hot dogs, potato salad, chips, drinks etc. The surprise and enjoyment I felt was enormous. In fact I am still here, four hours later. It could have to do with the temps being in the high 90's or just the company but either way, I ain't hiking again till its cooler. I had hoped to make more miles, nine more in fact, but I don't know that it will happen. Thanks Shepard!

Mile 322, more or less

I swear it must have reached 100 degrees today. I hung out at Shepard's spot till as late as I could and still get some miles in. At four I forced myself to don my pack and I went out into the late afternoon sun. It was still pretty hot at first but once I made about four miles and it neared 6pm, the whole thing began to feel tolerable. I watered up at the last creek and off I went, attempting to get all the way to Silverwood Lake. I finally had to stop when I began to lose light so I tucked into a small alcove cut into the dense brush. I think I got within 1 mile of my planned stop for the night and made 16 miles. It sure makes a difference, taking six hours off in the middle of the day.

May 12th Mile 306

Near a creek 6:24 pm

Today was one of those days that didn't turn out like I had planned. You might remember Moral Dilemma#1 from last night. Well in the light of day I decided to be a good little soldier and take the official detour that the PCTA and Forest Service wants us to take. I walked the four miles to the junction, ate some snacks then turned my feet towards 14 miles of road walking. I was doing my best at making lemonade, thinking how nice it would be to have a smooth dirt road to walk on and be able to look around at the sights as I went. Well, not so. Guess what? Dirt roads are designed for wheeled vehicles and they have different needs than hikers have. For example, vehicles have engines that push them up steep hills. My engine is used to less than 10% grades. Vehicles need banked turns to maintain balance at speed. My legs are used to walking on relatively level ground, laterally. I felt like I was walking on a steep hillside most of the time. And did I mention the speeding motorcycles, quads and jeeps? Can you imagine the ruts they make on dirt roads? However I want to be clear here, I don't blame them as I was walking on a road clearly not designed for foot traffic.

Lets just say, after five miles the lemonade thing wasn't working. As I was grumbling to myself four jeeps with FS folks in them came along and stopped along side to see if I needed anything. When they heard I was a PCT'er they told me the trail had been repaired and that there was no need for a detour. Well s**t! Here I was five miles into a hot, nasty road hike I didn't have to make. One of the guys gave me a map and told me I could walk back to a junction and hike back down the the PCT without going all the way back to my starting place. I tried to be gracious and thanked him for the information. What to do? When in doubt, take a break so I found a tree stump to sit on and pondered my future. Within a few minutes another vehicle drove up and an off duty FS Ranger asked me if I needed anything. Apparently folks aren't used to seeing a 60 year old woman wearing a pack, sitting on a stump, under a silver umbrella in 90 degree heat. I explained my dilemma and after some discussion with his girlfriend/wife in the truck, he offered to take me to the spot just above the PCT junction. I really don't know what I would have done if they hadn't helped me out in this way.

I got the boots on the ground version of the closure from my friendly helper and basically the trail has been completely repaired and while the damaged bridge is not yet repaired, it is completely passable. But since it isn't ALL done, the closure hasn't been lifted. Talk about the nightmare of big agencies covering their backsides. Whatever the danger might have been, it couldn't have been worse than that road walk was for me today. It's not as if we hikers are divas and have to have 32 inch wide, perfect trail to traverse. If we were, we sure wouldn't pick the PCT to hike.

After all that I just couldn't pull a long day off. I did manage to hike about 14 miles of combined road and trail tread but when I got to this nice creek, in the middle of hot, dry hillsides, I just couldn't make myself continue on four more miles to the next possible campsite. So I found a nice spot for myself for the night and tomorrow will be better.

So there you have the Saga of Upside Down and the Trouble With Detours.