Friday, August 26, 2016

Conglomeration

I sit at one of my favorite Wasatch lakes, Red Pine, sipping hot licorice and mint tea brewed over a hastily made alcohol stove and windscreen.  I recognize it's days later than when I last left the Uinta's. So here's the rundown.
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I chose to leave Red Castle earlier than planned due to the cool of the night.  I essentially had a summer kit that did not include room for the cooler temps of 4 am.  Cold I was not.  Prepared I was however the forecast also called for rain the last time I checked, over Tuesday.  I met a few hiking in who said the forecast now included snow.  Yeah, no.  So I am glad I bailed.  Red Castle is worth a 3 hour drive and 5 hour hike in to see.  I've posted a few photos on my Flickr site and will post more.
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Wednesday I took off to hike the Butler Fork Loop.  It's 8 miles, more if you add detours to Dog Lake, Reynolds Peak, Mill A, and others. I took off towards Reynolds and tagged Dog Lake.  I quickly wrapped around the basin and into Mill A.  Sometimes I'll add Mt Raymond, this time I chose not to, instead I added Maxfield Basin.  I noted some of the under brush beginning to change colors and most of the grass is dry.  A few groves of aspen show black speckles on their leaves.  I ponder, will this be a short color season and an early winter if this is happening in August which normally doesn't start till September?
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On my way down (Butler Loop), near the first/last trail junction I happened into a moose a bit too close for comfort.  The under brush and willows are still thick enough not to see far in this particular spot weaving along the creek.  Since he owns this area I gave wide berth as I detoured around him.
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I will give complements to the Forest Service's trail crews for making some improvements to the trails this summer. They've worked on sections of the Desolation Trail in Butler Fork, towards Desolation Lake, Mill A, above Maxfield Basin, and others.  They've leveled out, added switchbacks, attempted to narrow the ever widening paths, as well as do general trail management.  Please respect their work and do not create any new trails, cut switchbacks, add carins, etc.  The Forest Service does not have the manpower nor the resources to effectively police and steward.  Please if you see something a miss, report it.  If you see someone doing something not right, be strategic in saying something to them.  If you see trash, take it out. Or a switchback being cut, block it with a few branches.  Our public lands are all of our responsibility, not just a few persons.
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A chilly wind crosses Red Pine.  I know weather is moving in for tomorrow.  This might be the last time I get up here before snow fall.  The Salt Lake Tribune calls this place one of Salt Lake's top hiking destinations.  It's easy to see why with groves of aspens and evergreens, the alpine lake within an easy reach of the Valley, surrounded by towering granite mountains.  All that and a moderate hike for most people.
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Hike on!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Vacation Hike, Red Castle

Sitting on the wooden bridge over Smith Creek, I looked to the butte in front of me.  Nearly 7 years ago I sat here.  I worked for a different company and consecutively had 3 days off there.  Today, I'm on vacation having taken one week to complete a thru-hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail I decided a low elevation gain, multi day hike would be nice.
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Every basin in the Uinta's are unique and many also share similar features.  One common feature is the long hike in around meadows up a stream.  The horse manure isn't a feature but is present along with flies and mosquitoes. I'm very fortunate to have only one Uinta's hike with the mosquitoes this summer.  Another feature these hikes share is a large upper basin with a series of small lakes.
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What sets this hike apart from the rest is the dominant feature is a 12,000ft tall mountain of red and green cliffs that looks like an imposing fortress.  Another feature is the elevation gain is gradual except for one spot when one actually turns towards the moutain and goes up a short series of switchbacks before resuming a follow the meadow course.
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I got up from my own bed this morning at my usual work time and was on the road by my usual work time.  All of this is an hour later than if I were getting up to ruck the Uinta's on a normal weekend. A weekend ruck is worth loosing sleep over.
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The trailhead was packed.  The trail was busy with folks headed out. There's a few campers up here.  The archery season just began and a few elk hunters are making camp for their season.  Fishing is a big deal up here and as I type, the fish are jumping.  A good chill is in the air.  Who knew late August is fall in the mountains while the city is still suffering from summer's heat?
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This method of blog delivery does not allow me to post images.  If I did you'd me making plans to get here before it gets too cold.  Hopefully I won't be too cold tonight.  I did a quick gear swap after I got home.  I'm using the Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack. With this pack the frame sheet is a sit pad or in my case a 3/4 Lenght Z-rest sleeping pad.  I also ditched the bag liner, more for convenience than anything.  I didn't check my lighter, that just died.  I tossed the matches but made sure I had a striker and fiero rod.  I did grab the Fireant stove and a few cotton balls.  I think I'm set but 11,000 feet is different than last week's 9,000. Even if I get chilled I can always use my rain gear as an extra layer.
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Hike on.
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PS the sky is amazingly clear.  I wanted to cowboy camp under the stars.  I'll be in my tent instead.

Red Castle, day 2, base camp

The night was a bit chilly then again I did do a quick gear swap of the pad and left the sleeping bag liner home.  I lay in bed until the sun peaked the horizon.  At that moment I leaped to my feet, took a few photos of the sun on the lake and moutain.  I made hot coffee using an esbit tablet in the Fireant.  I continued to enjoy the morning.
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I readied myself for a day hike, leaving everything else in the tent.  I wrapped around to Smith's Fork.  Making my way along I heard an awful sound on the wind.  This trail scuttle along the westside avoiding the meadows.  At an over look, I saw the ruckus, sheep, about 100 head.
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As the trail topped out, I took a break with the valley below and the basin behind.  There were no lakes in the valley, just them noisy sheep and their shepherds.
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I decided to follow the trail up through the basin.  I began to follow a faint trail above the Smith's Pass Lake.  I paused often for the altitude approached 12,000.
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The pass s sprawling, no steep portions, no tricky approaches, etc.  I found a big rock and took a nap.  I did look at the map whike up there, too.  The Highline Trail connects about a mile south. This end is the top of one of the basins I've planned a hike into.  I was amazed by the vast openness of what I saw including the cliff faced mountains next to scree slopes.
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Noticing building clouds I took off.  It's funny how down goes so much faster than up. A hint of rain loomed. I got to my camp long before any sprinkles and a little wind.
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I played a bit with my camera settings and some of the programmed filters.  Why didn't I do that on top?  The dramatic setting really pops the mood of the clouds and lake. I might have gone overboard with using it this afternoon.
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I tried my fiero rod into some old camp coals, no go.  I tried it into cotton balls, works to good.  Now I know, fibrous materials is what it takes to get this thing to work.  I did get my lighter to work one more time for dinner.
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I'm sitting by the glassy lake.  A few fishermen work their fly lines a ways up. Crazy beautiful.
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The clouds are still present, no longer building with the day.  Last night the weather broke and I had Milkyway deluxe above me.  I ponder if tonight will be the same?
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Hike On!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Day 7, exit day

As the sun set last night I chose to pack down the tent to sleep under the sky.  A full moon rose over head to wash out all but the brightest of stars.  I awoke at first light, sat up wrapping myself up I the quilt until the alarm sang.  Yes, even though time holds nothing g out here, I still like to get moving early and to do that I set something to remind myself to get moving.
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I was packed by 7 am sitting by the lake watching light dance on high trees.  Shortly after on the trail.
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The trail moved quickly mostly down with some up as I went through the Heavenly Ski Resort area.  I reflected that most of the zones were similar across the region.  The last place I saw the changers on such a regular basis was in the Smokies, where the zones moved with altitude.  I couldn't place how or why the zones here change.
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I hit NV hwy 207.  I was done.  My TRT hike came to a close at a pretty unassuming road crossing.  I hike up to the restaurant on Tramway. Ate a burger then another adventure began.
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Catching the buses weren't an issue.  Like clock work, on time, and expected.  At my last stop I noticed a little sign taped to the bench, "runs only on weekends"  I was suck.  How now do I get from South Lake Tahoe to Tahoe City without hitching?  Hitching in CA is not allowed.  I don't know all the rules but I know here would not be the time to find out about the wrong ones.
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I walked a bock or two to the out fitters. This area is known as the Y in South Lake Tahoe.  The out fitters had a list of Trail Angels helping out PCT hikers.  May be one would help me all the way or at least to Tahoma where buses resume.  Short of a dozen calls later on a dying phone  battery, I made contact with one willing to take me all the way.
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1/2 later I threw my pack into the back of his pickup truck.  An avid hiker himself he noticed hikers needing rides so he started picking them up, eventually he let his name be added to the list of Trail Angels.  The time flew by and I noticed we were passing my stop.  All he asked for in exchange was a photo of me and my pack.
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The TRT'S taught me loads when it comes to trip planning that the AT did not.  Alot of my preparation cane from the AT.  This one definitely taught me more about transportation than anything else when it comes to resupply and trail logistics.  These will definitely be considered in the future.
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I've noticed also on this trip, every other day someone has done something for me.  A package of beef jerky, a jug of water, today I asked specifically for the item and someone went out of their way for me.  It wasn't for the lack of planning that this happened, I just failed to consider not all buses run everyday, something us urbanites take for granted.
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I forgot to mention.  On the way down from Star Lake there aren't very many camp able sites.  If you read this consider going from South Camp right though to Star Lake.  PS it's a dry section.
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I sit as light fades not at a campsite rather at a hostel in Kings Beach.  No moon or stars for me tonight.  A hot shower came and passed already.  Another fast tip, always carry your own soap especially if you might hostel it. I had just enough in my backpack.
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I still have time off so where to hike now?  I hope this read is enjoyable.  Please let me know how I can improve your reading enjoyment.
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Hike on!

Day 5, Freel Meadows

Rising early, I caught reflections on the water of Showers Lake.  I tend to like the reflection photos better than any other kind for lakes.  The stillness of the day surrounds me in those moments.  I also jumped up to a nearby view point a hundred feet away from my camp, wow a great view right into the rising sun.
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The PCT section hiker caught up to me.  He thought he had another hour to hike.  I could easily played him last night, nah, I'm to nice.
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2 miles south the TRT splits to the north from the PCT.  One day I'll be back at this same spot.  In this meadow a lone cabin sets surrounded by rolling canyon walls.
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2 miles north is Round Lake.  Still early enough I caught reflections photos.  Score, two lakes today with reflections.  These would be the only lakes.  The rest are meadows and some views.
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At Big Meadows trailhead I sat to tend my feet, let the useless solar panel catch some rays, and eat lunch.  While there, a fellow pulled in and recognized me from Richardson Lake.  He asked if there was anything I needed, beer, batteries,  jalapeƱo chips.  I forgot to get water at Big Meadows as two horses stood in the creek so, water.  This is now my third trail magic of this trip.  Water, something that simple can go along way.
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I bounded up Grass Lake trail to the top.  It's 1,000 feet over 2 1/2 miles.  Not an issue even while carrying 3 litters of water.  This section from Grass Lake to Star Lake is dry, we'll almost. Near the top, a few meadows dot the landscape, it began to sprinkle.  Meanwhile at the bottom of my pack is all my rain gear and none of my gear is in plastic bags.  I pulled out my clear ground sheet, wrapping myself pack up, I made way.
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The AT got me use to hiking in rain.  Rain gear is used on laundry day, as dry clothes around camp, or for regulating body heat on cold days.  Only in extreme cases did one don rain gear while it rained.  The rain didn't get heavy, yet.
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At one view, I rested and checked/sent messages.  The view included South Tahoe's airport.
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As I made way over Freel Pass and Meadows, I coukd easily see why people in the spring got lost.  The trail follows no natural contour or meadow, or ridge line.  Freel Meadows, itself, has a small stream in it.  I could hear it running but did not see a trail to it.
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At one view a tent popped up.  I chatted with the couple there.  They were counterclockwise hikers too.  As I finished a quick snack the rain returned.   Okay, ridgeline, rain, tent, okay I hoped the weather would break for their safety.  Indeed 2 hours later the sky cleared.
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For another 1/2 hour I hiked with my plastic wrapper on.  The ridges cloaked in mystery.  It was just neat.
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I walked through the land of Bonanza.  The juniper pines doted with large rocks.  I think they filmed the 50's pioneer TV series is near by.
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I found the place where another hike told me water would be along the path to Anderson's Pass.  I'd say half a mile south of the next path.  This isn't an ideal camp setting for the land is not flat. Oh where is that hammock of mine?  I will say the spring is untouched.  I still filtered, for garda and I don't want to be friends.
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Tomorrow will be a near zero.  I'll hit Star Lake by 10 am where I'll kick back the rest of the day, possibly two nights.
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Being off the grid is fun, relaxing, and refreshing.  To be away from the hustle and bustle of daily commuter life can do wonders.  My feet carry me to the next spot along the way.  Short miles like today's 16 or yesterday's long 16, it doesn't matter, life is listening to the breeze, the screech of a hawk, or spying a deer before it sees you.
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The sky cleared, I ponder as I write day light left, do I drop the tent and sleep under the sky?  Maybe tomorrow.
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Hike on!

Day 6, Star Lake

I chose to call it quits at Star Lake. I've got 10 miles down hill to do from here so it's a good place to say 6 were enough for the day by 10:30.  I wouldn't says it's a place worth bragging about.  It is nice in a territory that looks more like the south west.
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I made my best time getting out of camp this morning not a lot to see where I camped last night.  As soon as I got on the trail, I did a quick inventory of the aches and pains.  Sure enough they were all accounted for, it would be a good hike.
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The Freel area is different than the other regions of the TRT more for the granite sand soil and the less dense trees.
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I noticed it clouding up this afternoon so I put up my tent.  I really want one night of sleeping under the stars however that darn moon is so bright. The question now is, rain again this afternoon and then clearing up or something different?
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My Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel is not recharging the Goal Zero battery I brought, even in full sun.  I'll use it as a writing surface this evening for my journalling.  I need something that is light, will work in partial sun, and that doesn't need to be constantly watched for charging. The ability to be hung from my pack is a must.
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I am running at 35% battery now so this may be the as entry from the trail. It's just nice to unplug for a whike.
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Hike on!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Day 4, to Showers Lake

The stars at Aloha Lake burst beyond the heavens once the moon set.  I slept half in, half out after that. Orion, the constellation rose in the east.
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I got going early and loved seeing new light dance across this big lake.  Once I cleared the lower section it was moving time however my right shoe dig into my tendon making going slow.
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At Echo Chalet I got a Mountain Topper panni sanwhich, essentially a ruben.  Downed two gatoraids, and an ice cream.
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Water was a concern as the section from Echo to Showers Lake is said to be dry.  I filled up at the bottom of some meadows and kept crossing trivial streams from then on severe mile or so.  Ha, I carried up to 2 litters the entire way.  No worry, I'd rather have more water than not
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The basin before Shower, is the Horse Shoe.  This is across between Utah's Albion Basin and Day's Fork with a ruggedness I've not seen before towards the bottom.  Absolutely breath taking in kind.
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I arrived at Showers with about 1 1/2 hours of day light left and set about camp.  I haven't seen to many PCT'rs  today.  I did see more than enough  weekenders heading up towards Desolation.
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Another great day of hiking.
PS I grabbed some cardboard at Echo and that did what I needed to but I forgot to take a known hot spot so now another limp maker.  I'll have  a roll of tape on my right foot by the time this is over.
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Over, if I can I hear Star Lake is amazing.  I may take a low mile day and enjoy the scenery.  Rain is forecasted on Saturday and I have more than ample food for the extra day.
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Hike On!
How's that for a Monday?  Oh yeah, it was a 12 hour day from start to finish.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Day 3, mind blowing scenery

Everyone was on the trail by 7.  I trailed the Scout Troop until the border of Desolation Wilderness then I lost them.  I made miles, my focus get over Dick's Pass, 12 miles away.
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Just inside the wilderness area I spied some large red granite mountains and pondered will I cross them?  As I write I have one to my Northeast.
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The trail went up and down, mostly up.  I rounded the Velma Lakes, originally one of my planned stops in the rough drafts.  Before long I rounded a few more lakes and stopped short of Dick's Lake.  Where I ate first luch of two side candy bars.
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I refilled a little water at the lake, leaving my pack at the junction.  When I returned i struck up a conversation with two day hikers.  I trailed behind them but saw them sitting at the pass.  More on that in a moment.  The trail made some long easy switchbacks 1380 feet over 2 milrs.  The Wasatch grade is 1,000 per 1 miles.  Wow, what a sight.  At the top it leveled out.  I asked the day hikers if I could join them for second lunch.  A few minutes late the guy jumped up, checked nature's fridge, and came back with 2 beers.  She wanted to split  one so he offered me the other.  If you see a beer show up in my social media feed, that's why.  We chatted a bit longer before they took off for a work function, locals.  This is their backyard and I a visitor.
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I stood I'm awe for a few more minutes then started down into another mind blow of scenery.  This is why I am crazy and love to hike, these rewards are amazing, the IPA helped a little, too.  These mountains have no pattern, just everywhere.  The Wasatch and the Uinta's have main canyons and side canyons with bowls at the top.  These look like wave blown by confused winds.
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I pushed miles and went beyond my goal of the day.  I'm thankful for this season without bugs, a little chilly but so.  I chatted with a bloke from North London, uk.  Gave hike some water tips for going into Tahoe City.  I did the ups and downs over another shallow pass to drop into the huge alpine lake I spied from on top the Pass.  Walking right into glare around Heater Lake, a beauty to see. And into Aloha.
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I looked for a sheltered spot dorm the wind, few and far between as this lake is surrounded by white granite and the red granite mountain to my northeast.
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I set camp, washed up but, not the socks.  Hips hurt from carrying  6 days of food.  I am not eating everything but, am making sure breakfast and dinner get consumed every day.  The SoBo section hiker will join later at this campsite.  He arrived just after sunset and ran up to Mosquito Pass the the north.  Clear skies and a big moon, delightful for a night hike.  This guy is getting his trails worth of extra views.
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The tea's getting cold and the phone is showing more light on me than day is. The stars are soon to show through the light of a near full moon.
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Hike on!

Day 2, Wild Flowers

I made my way up to Twin Peaks Pass.  I started up to the summit however turned back just shy of the peak as the quality of the rock didn't excite me.  The faint trail also ran dangerously close for my comfort so I stayed farther a way from it.
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I encountered the PCT treat way for the first time shortly after I got back to my pack.  My heart raced as I thought of future plans.  I'm not planning this section for 3 or 4 years , but to be on the actual PCT.  It wasn't anything different from what I've seen in this region so far.
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A mile later I saw two 20 somethings looking at the map wide open.  They weren't lost rather not hikers with rather large packs and an unconventional piece of equipment,  he had a samurai sword.  I've seen some darnist things but this?  I moved on.
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I met a PCT section hiker who's doing chunks at a time.  She gave me some info on the water beyond Richardson Lake.  Dry for 12 miles unless you like mud puddles.
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I ate luch at Barker Pass Trailhead with 2 foreigners hiking the PCT.  They won't finish with the time left.  No mater it's the adventure.  Just as they left, some Jeep guys pulled up.  I decided to stay a few more minutes.  One of the fellas went back and got a bag of spicy jerky for me.  Guess what I added to dinner?  They were up for some good country road four wheeling.
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I busted out some miles filling my water at a good flowing stream.  I pushed th 6 miles to Richardson thinking I had a set od switchbacks.  Like my AT style I stopped for a break within half a mile of the lake and there were no switchbacks.
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I immediately, at Richardson Lake, walked in to a Scout troop up for a 50 mile section of the TRT headed my way.  Also another later starter.  I found a quiet alcove between two big stumps, like 20 foot tall and 3 plus foot diameter big.  The ground looks soft and again, I've rocked my tent down.
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I set about my camp chores. Ate dinner cold with a small handful of shredded jerry which added a nice kick.  Washed myself and my rinsed my socks.  Since my socks a little most at this time, I've got them on my shoulders for a little body heat drying, chilly but comfortable just after sunset.  A clear sky will give me a little star view.  Oh yeah, I saw two clear meteors last might and some that may have been.
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Every field I went through, every once there was water in the area had wild flowers.  Pink, purple, yellow the areas I walked danced with them.
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For as many people are here it's quiet.  I'll sleep really good and will pass the Scouts sometime tomorrow.  One of their leaders said they'd be gone by 7.  Will it happen?  I'll be having my coffee then.
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Hike On!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Arrival Day

While my friends were cutting z's I got on the road.  I knew every mile extra I made on the trail would be less for tomorrow.  I caught a photo of the sunrise through a solitary tree at the Wendover rest stop.  Minutes later I entered  the Pacific time zone.
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The drive went uneventful as it should.  I found the Mount Rose Hwy south of Reno and shortly there after I was in TRT territory.  I picked up my Wilderness permit as CA requires for the Desolation Wilderness everyone register.  A little bit of construction traffic through the chaos that is Lake Tahoe and I was at my trailhead.
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I filled my water container with some bottled water I brought with, readied myself, and was off. Up, up, and away!  I headed up a draw to Page Meadows and around to Ward Creek. I shaved a few miles off tomorrow which is good as my first 2 will be up, up and ridgeline.  Then down, up, and down.
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I will embrace the up, for if there were no up, there would be no down, or at least the TRT would look a whole lot different.  With no up, where would the mountain tops be?
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I'm enjoying the gentle rolling sound of Ward Creek and the company of non-biting flying things.
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Hike On!
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PS I hope my sky view will let me see a bit of the meteors shower, the moon however is rising
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Tip: Tahoe area camping, use a hammock or a free standing tent.  I've rocked down my tent pegs.  Not even msr ground hog stakes hold.
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Tip #2: mountain house Spaghetti rehydrates with cold water
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Tips #3: check that your stove & canister work before leaving. I finally got this BRS micro stove to work for my tea.  The TOAKS to 450ml is a dream come true.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hiker to Trail

I hung a thumb bum sign at my desk, 'hiker to trail' subheading, 'I need to finish what I started.'  The last week's been a rush with the Expo, getting my gear finalized, and double checking my menu.  Last night I fired off the itinerary to the folks.  I knew I had a few weeks off this month originally planned for some Uinta's backpacking trips.  I'll keep them in mind for September.  King's Peak still has a sign on it, saying come to my Summit.
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I haven't talked this leg up with too many folks.  I'm kinda embarrassed by not completing the TRT in one go but, I look back and realized attitudes play a huge part of finishing.  Not only finishing, attitudes are a big part of the enjoyment of the journey.  The fact that I met conditions I planned for yet had never encountered before was interesting twist as well.
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I might not meet any PCT thru-hikers in the Desolation Wilderness, this will be a bummer but I will get to see some mountains of incredible awesomeness.  I wonder just how bad the mosquitoes will be? Ryder Lake bad?  Eh so, I've pretreated my clothes and have plenty of repellent.  What of the bears?  I hope not.  Not all of my 6 1/2 days of food fit into the Ursack.  Unless told, I won't carry a bear bagging cord.  It's not the weight rather the inconvenience, last time I did not see any descent trees to hang food from.
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I sit enjoying the evening.  Half of the fun is rushing so that the last day is not a rush.  Early to rise to see the sunrise in the mirror.
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Hike on!