Saturday, June 16, 2012

June 16th Lone Pine, again

I met the nicest couple this morning on my way back to the trail. Actually they were the folks who took me to the trailhead. There I was, standing on the corner with my sign that said in big letters, "Horseshoe" and even though I was trying to project charm, no one was picking me up. Finally a little car turned left and two nice faces looked at me and pulled over. Diana and Jorge saved the day! We had a lovely chat on the 20 mile ride up the hill and exchanged information before parting ways. They are the smiling couple you see pictured here. Apparently they hike nearly every weekend and drive up often from their home in the LA area.

I just had an excellent lunch here off the trail near Poison Meadow. Even though the food was yummy I seem to be experiencing some stomach distress in the form of a queazy sensation. Remember a while back when I mentioned feeling nauseous and I attributed it to the altitude? Well, after more than a week I'm still having the same symptoms, only it happens every time I eat no matter the altitude. Me thinks I got a bug. Dang! So far it isn't affecting my hiking, as long as I don't try to walk too soon after eating. If it isn't one thing it's another. I only hope it doesn't get worse.

I guess I spoke too soon. I waited an hour after eating to begin hiking but today was so different than three days ago when I was a hiking machine. Right away I felt nauseous and so tired I could could not keep up my pace. It took me till 3:00 to get to Cottonwood Pass, barely six miles from the trailhead. Clearly something is not right and there is no way I'm gonna get nine more miles in today with the way I'm feeling. Geeze.

I really hate these kinds of quandaries. Do I continue on when I'm not feeling well? Is my slowness just a result of not hiking for two days and if I keep going it will sort itself out? Is this just a stomach bug that will run its course and I'll be good as new soon? Any of these things could be true but the only question that matters today is can I walk 15 miles today, tomorrow and two days more? I hate to say it but the answer seems to be no. At least my energy level would indicate not.

As much as I hated to give in, I turned right at Cottonwood Pass and walked right back to Horseshoe Meadows. I hiked nine miles today in seven hours. Not good. Yet even though I felt crappy I met an interesting man named Al who was day hiking that section of the PCT. He and his wife have been working at this goal for years and he has somewhere around 1,400 miles completed... all done on day hikes. Amazing tenacity. He was also kind enough to take me back to Lone Pine. I might as well get a PO box.

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 15th Two Months Today

Chores, chores, chores. Town days seem like they should be restful but somehow they don't turn out that way. What with laundry, post office visits, shopping for replacement do-da's and figuring out food stuff, it seems to be non stop activity. Then there's the restaurant eating, that takes up quite a bit of time ;-) Just helping out the local economy.

The plan is to head out tomorrow morning as early as possible with the goal of getting as far as I can along the trail. If I am successful I'll be able to make 15 miles tomorrow and for the next three days afterwards. If not I'll have to take part of a fifth day to hike out over Kearsage Pass to Onion Valley on the way to Independence. So either way I have an adventure ahead of me!

An image of dinner tonight. For being so far from the coast the fish was pretty good.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14th Lone Pine

Whooie! That was quite a climb this morning. The trail itself was great but my legs weren't quite up to snuff. I'm not sure but I might have still been asleep. From the map it appears I have right around 11 miles to go to get to Horseshoe Meadows. As it's now 9:30am I should have no problem getting there. One interesting thing to note, is that there is no on-trail water all of today... the first two water sources are springs and they are all down side canyons, or so it looks via the map.

I had dinner tonight with Soup and Desert Rat. A chili size kind of thing... not that great but filling. Mother Goose is in Independence - she and Soup will go back into the wilds tomorrow. He showed me images from the high country and there is no appreciable snow, even on Forester Pass, the highest spot on the trail. I'm sending my micro spikes and ice axe home tomorrow. Empty weight go bye bye.

I had an interesting experience today. After my midmorning break I got this image of myself as a living machine, with pistons for legs and oxygen for gasoline. All of a sudden I was pumping up the trail at more than my normal pace. Now for you science types I know my analogy is simple, simple, simple. Of course there's lots of other stuff going on, like, well glucose and liver secretions and insulin production, etc. I just don't want to muck up my metaphor with too much fact. All I know is that I made six miles in just about two and a half hours. It helps that the trail wasn't steep but just rolling along. Six more miles to go.

Amazingly enough I managed to maintain that strong and steady pace for the bulk of the day, even when it got hot and steep. I wonder of I'm finally getting stronger? Must be. The final miles for today were in the 18-19 range, mostly due to a zig I did, instead of a zag. I got a ride to town from two guys who live in Portland who were here climbing Mt. Whitney via the mountaineers route. They kindly dropped me off at the Dow Villa Motel where I have an expensive room, with a bath! A bath I tell you! Bliss.

Hope you enjoy the pictures. BTW, all those springs were dry today. It's gonna be an interesting season.

June 13th Mile 731 Death Creek

If you drank the water in Death Creek you could die, or at least get really sick. That water is nasty looking. Fortunately I went in search of a spring indicated on the map and what do you know? Great clear spring water coming out of some rocks. A little extra effort paid off nicely.

I was in a quandary this afternoon. I originally planned on going three miles further than this place but after the climb this morning I began to feel a bit queasy, I think from the altitude. I'm camped at 8,940 feet and I feel fine here but had I continued on I would have climbed, and camped, at 10,700 feet tonight and I just don't think I'm ready for overnighting at that altitude. This made for an easy-peasy day of 12 miles but what the heck. I got no plane to catch. On the other hand, I had planned to hike out over Trail Pass tomorrow and in order to do this I'll have to hike 16.6 miles, the last two downhill. Ah, that's not so bad. I'll just get an early start.

One of the images here is of a carving believed to have been made by a Basque sheep herder sometime in the late 1800's. It's a bit faint now but the tree it was carved into is still standing. It's located in Gomez meadow.

Travel tidbits aside I am now firmly in country that I recognize as "The Sierras". Technically I've been in them for a while but now the land looks like it. Big trees, some gnarled and dead but still standing tall. Boulders of granite, piled here and there in grand fashion. Wind high up in the tree tops. In the distance I can hear what I think is a grouse, making it's guttural harrumphing sounds, looking for company I guess. And then there are those little blood sucking mosquitos. The devils. Well, it can't all be great.

Oh yea, I had an argument with a chinquapin today and clearly, I lost.

June 12th Mile 719 Cow Creek

What a lovely day! I was up early and on the trail by 6am in order to get the big climb done in the cool morning, before the sun took over. Just less than 2,000 feet up before it got hot then around 1pm I pulled in to a campsite above the Kern River for my second lunch and extended afternoon rest stop. It was 12 miles to that point and I only had 3 more to go for this days camping. I suppose I could have gone lots farther but 15 miles is a-ok for me. No need to push on my first couple of days back.

I must say the hiking so far has been much easier than that I've been experiencing these last weeks. Yes there are climbs but there are rolling meadows on the top of the climb rather than the steep up-and-downs I've been slogging through. Plus, there's water every few miles so no need to carry lots of extra. I'm liken it!

Much of today's hike was along huge meadows. First Beck Meadow then Monache Meadow, the latter being the largest meadow along the Sierra mountain chain. Because they aren't high altitude meadows sagebrush still dominates with the center of the meadows being grassy. Once I get higher the sagebrush will disappear and grasses, with wild flowers, will dominate. Don't get me wrong, I like sagebrush, but I won't be sad to leave it behind for a bit.

Tomorrows climb will also be an early morning affair. From this spot at 8,339 feet I will climb to about 10,500 feet in about five miles. Not too bad. So far I haven't had the usual 24 hour altitude headache I often get when coming up from sea level. Hopefully the slow climbing will make the transition easier.

I took a couple of videos today but I won't be able to post them to this site. I haven't been successful so far, I think the files are too big and I am clueless as to how I can change them from this phone. I am going to try shooting the next videos on Socialcam and I think I will be able to post them on Facebook. However not until I get cell service. It's supposed to work but you know how that can go. We will see.

Random images from the visual eye candy I received today.

June 11th. Kennedy Meadows CG

I didn't get very far today, only the two miles to KM campground - plus the 200 yards or so I traveled to set up my tent outside the boundaries of the cg. I could have gone two miles more to the Kern River but I figured I needed the oxygen more than the two miles. Plus it is beautiful here. And quiet. How nice it is to be here?

This afternoon as I was walking along to this spot, I began counting up my meals in my head and started getting a sneaking feeling I had miscalculated the meals needed to get all the way to Onion Valley. Sure enough when I got here I laid out all my chow and found I have dinners and lunches for only five days, not seven. I know how I screwed up and it's a silly, boring mistake. Not worth detailing.

Considering my options I thought I could walk back to KM and buy more meals, if there was any food to purchase. I don't remember seeing anything but sodas and chips when I was there but then again, I wasn't looking for meals. Another option is to hike for three days and go out over Trail Pass and down into Horseshoe Meadow. Then I somehow get a ride the 19 miles to Lone Pine and pick up some more food there. This doesn't add too many more trail miles and would be easier than going out over Whitney to Whitney Portal. Way easier. That means leaving the trail twice in the space of eight days but it seems the best option for Major Screwup Herself. Plus I've never gone out Trail Pass to Horse Shoe Meadows and that would be a cool new experience. Pollyanna wins out!

The images are of the gals at KM, Tom's cyber cafe, etc and of Dancing Feet.

P.S. - B.N. I owe you three bucks. I'm good for it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11th Tom's Cyber Cafe

Angela and Beth just dropped me off at Kennedy Meadows and I began walking towards the trail head when what to my surprise did I see but a bunch of old trailers off to the left and I guessed it to be Tom's Cyber Cafe. This place is a collection of trailers with the largest harboring four computers and who knows what else... Tom has set up a place for hikers to connect to the outside world via computers and the whole set up is run by solar panels. In addition I ran into Dancing Feet who was doing acrobatics on a jerry rigged trapeze. I was able to get some images but I can't upload them on here... takes too much juice apparently.

I am happy to be heading out today but it is always an ambivalent experience to say goodbye to Angela. We had such a good time coming out here and they will continue to have a good time as they are going to take mountain roads all the way to the west side of the Sierras. It sounds like a beautiful road. For myself, I am only going to go a short way on the trail today due to my being at sea level for the past week. KM is at about 6,000 feet so climbing too high too soon would be way silly.

Alrighty gang. I'm off to see the Wizard!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

June 10th Last night

Here I am again, in Lake Isabella. It's 8 pm and cooling off nicely after a day in the high 80's. Angela, Beth and I went to a natural hot springs this afternoon along the Kern River. The BLM has torn out the pools made over the years so while the water is nice and hot it can't form deep pools any longer and just rolls into the Kern River. It was still nice to stand in the little warm puddles and watch the river go by and listen to it rush along. Plus the birds were happy, or so it appeared by their cavorting.

The gals just watched me pack up my bear canister for the next 6-7 days. I take all this stuff for granted because I'm used to it but they were fascinated by all my little doo-dads and food stuffs. While packing up my hiking clothes it occurred to me that even though I am excited to be getting back on the trail I will be sad to set aside my cotton clothes. Oh so sad ;-(
Oh well, I'll get over it.

Most of these images are of the river adventure of today with one image of a groovy sign in Bakersfield.