Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 47 - Mile 656

From Lake Isabella looking back towards Walker Pass. 

It's only 4:30 pm but I'm in my tent and the rain is tapping on the roof and I'm snug in my down bag and woollies. Just a bit ago I was walking in light rain and pleasent temps, then the hail started.  Time to look for shelter! According to the Topo map this spot is the last likely spot for another six miles, which for me is three hours of walking, so even though it's early I decided to stop and make camp. I'm glad it did! I was starting to get chilled and my fingers were stiff and cold by the time I crawled in here. 

This also means a no-cook dinner which is fine since I didn't eat my lunch at lunch. Why? Well a fellow hiker named Hog and I were hitching a ride back to the trail and our first one dropped us off only part way to the trailhead. There was a deli right at that spot so we popped in for something quick we could take out. When we got out a local guy that often gives rides to hikers stopped and we offered him $20 to take us all the way back to Walker Pass. He agreed and proceeded to give us the whole history of the area and where all the gems and minerals can be found. He's a rock hound and jeweler, as well as an excellent tour guide. I never got his name but he sure was enjoyable to listen to. 

Meeting locals is one of the best things about doing a hike like this. Some people don't like going into towns but I love it because I get to see how other people see their towns and eat at their local spots. Not to mention getting a shower of course. I think it adds lots of flavor to an adventure like this to mix with the locals. 
My view for the night...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 46 - What next?

This post is gonna be a long one as much that has been going on inside my head has remained there, unclear and unspoken. At least here on this blog. Let me see, where to start...

First off TC, DG and I are not hiking together at this point. I last saw them yesterday morning, having camped the night before a couple miles before their spot, and it seems clear that my natural pace is slower than theirs. Or possibly that they are interested in doing more daily miles than I can do, or am interested in doing. This is probably a good thing as I don't like feeling like I'm holding people back, even though the feeling is probably all in my head. Manufactured by yours truly. So I am now free to decide for myself the miles I want to do each day, based on my own needs and wishes. 

I'm looking forward to this new experience even as I know I will miss TC's good temperament and fun ways as well as DG's crazy acts, among other things. Ask her to do her German impersonation sometime. Amazing. They are a good team and should be successful in their quest to finish this year. 

For myself I've been trying to decide what to do going forward. The Sierras are close and most reports say the amount of snow isn't too bad but it is alternately icy in the morning and afternoon/evening and there seems to be quite a bit of post holing mid day. BTW, this refers to stepping on snow and sinking into the snow with each step. Like a post being driven into the ground. It makes for slow going, hard hiking and fewer miles. I have to ask myself if I will use up too much energy getting through and will I have enough for the rest of the trail. 

So I am thinking I'm going to go back to the trail at Walker Pass, walk to Kennedy Meadows then to Trail Pass at which point I'll exit the Sierras to the east side. I'll pick up my stuff from Lone Pine, get a bus to Lake Tahoe and resume hiking north from there. This is beneficial in a few ways. I get to bypass the difficulty and energy drain of early season in the Sierras, move way ahead of the hordes coming along behind me and hopefully, still have access to the scarce water resources up ahead. The later the season gets the less natural water there is out there, which of course means more water to carry. Plus, it will be easier for people to reach me for visits once I'm north of Tahoe. That part I like a lot!

So the plan is to walk north until I reach Canada and if I have it in me to continue I'll drop back down to Tahoe and walk south to Tuolumne Meadows, thereby completing the trail. If I have lots and lots of energy, and the snows haven't started up yet, I can walk on through the Sierras in fall, ending up at Trail Pass. Kind of backwards but I think this will give me the best hope for getting to Canada this year. Not the complete "thru hike" but a completion of the trail. 

So this is what's been swirling about in my peaked little brain for the past week or so. I certainly hope I'm making the right decision about all of this but I reckon only time will tell. 

Day 45 - I like the desert, but...

1:39 pm. OMG, is it hot or what?  I walked up to the Kelso Rd water cache at noon thinking I'd just eat lunch then walk on. But, but, but it's too hot to climb (whining mightily). What to do? I still need 13 miles to break up the 46 mile section I need to accomplish but I am stymied by the thought of hiking, uphill, totally exposed to the sun and temps close to 90. I am a hot weather wimp!

Just as I was contemplating my troubles (I know, first world troubles) Useitup came walking up, chipper and ready to go. Also to give me some news about Joaquin who is also struggling with the heat and a bad foot. Apparently they came up with a plan that I was invited to share in, which is to snag a ride to Lake Isabella, with a young man we had all met earlier who is day hiking with his dog. He agreed to take her to town today and I was invited to join in. We would share a room tonight, she'd take a bus to Bakersfield and rent a car, driving back to town, picking me up on the way to Walker Pass and dropping me off there and picking up Useitup, then driving home for a week. Their home sold and they have to go home and move out! Complicated but doable. 

If I do this then I will have allowed myself to be defeated once again by this section. I had high hopes I would go through when it was cooler but it appears not. When they say 90% of a successful thru hike is mental, they are 100% correct. I guess my mental capacity doesn't include hot weather hiking... At least not mid-day hiking. 

Even though it is desert-like here at the cache we were treated to a wonderful pine forest for the first half of the day and it was a treat to walk in that kind of soothing environment. It is hard to come back into the desert after so many miles of slogging through it. Maybe this is what got me all tweaked about hiking this noon. 

Later... Isabella Motel. It took most of the day to get here but we finally got dropped off at 6 pm and got a room. I'm just plain tuckered out. Over and out. 

P.S. Joaquin and I have made a pact to come back next year, in early spring, to walk the missing miles.  When it's cold!!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 44 - Mile 606

Phewie! Today was a long day. Left camp at 6:30 am and was setting up my tent at 8:00 pm. In between was 20 miles of up and down and all around. 

Add to this is that I had some kind of sneezing, runny nose, eye watering day and my energy was low, low, low. I don't know if it's allergies or a cold coming on but it made today's miles much harder to accomplish. In fact I passed the word on to TD and DG that if I didn't feel better I was going to stop at Robin Bird Spring for the night.

 I did stop in fact, cooked myself dinner and when finished it was only 5:30 and the food seemed to revive me enough to make me decide to push on to the concrete dam and spring for the night. 

I never found the gals but did run into some folks from Santa Cruz who are also out here doing the hiking thing. We'll probably walk together tomorrow as we seem to have the same pace, more or less. Their trail names are Joquin and Useitup. 

Something else of import happened today...
Can you read it? How's this one...
Enough for now. I'm beat. 

Day 43 - Mile 586

This morning at 7 we were picked up at the German bakery by the only taxi driver in town to get a ride back to the trail. Ismail is a retired aerospace engineer and he does this just for extra money in his retirement. He has a great sense of humor which is refreshing that early in the morning. 

Once on trail we bagan dealing with the WINDS again. Generally speaking in the morning winds flow downhill and in the evening the opposite. So we were dealing with winds that were wildly blowing every which way, but mostly down, in our faces as we tried to make headway. At one point I was walking sideways, or crab like, along the trail using my trekking poles as two more points of contact, because if I hadn't I'd have been blown off the trail by the wind. Geeze Louise!

Once we finally got the first big climb done and came around the mountain on the leeward side I was able to take a nice morning break, chumming it up with Joshua trees. 
What else can I say? We walked and walked and walked, sometimes on trail, sometimes on a jeep road. I took a sliding tumble sometime mid day without much harm. Or so it seemed. Later my ankle on the right foot started feeling sore but I hadn't twisted it. It's more like I jammed it or something. But there's no rest for the weary, or injured so I waked another 10 miles before I got to the campsite the gals found for us. A 20 mile day with a spring at mile 17. This means we only need to hike 16 miles tomorrow to our next water source. I hope it isn't as hot tomorrow as it was today...88 degrees at one point. 

Guess who is back...
Next day... The ankle is fine. Not to worry.