Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Arriving by multiple methods to Ashland, I decided to walk the touristy area before either going to the Hostel or getting a ride to Callahan's Lodge.  Ashland, think Park City Main Street only flat one way and both one way areas full of artsy coffee shops, restaurants, and spendy places.  I decided not to find the hostel, I already annoyed myself.  Later I heard they were full. I got my start up supply.

I doubled back on my walking, spoke with a local, also walking, a moment later he beeped his Subie and I had my first ride towards the destination out of town.  Where he dropped me off was at another area conversations could be had and minutes later my second ride, also in a Subie (Subaru).  He dropped me off at the lodge.

I grabbed a hike al a cart deal, lawn camp and a clean up.  Later I folded for the all you can eat pasta.  I caught up with someone I'd met as I got of the train, Asghar, from Afghanistan been a resident sine 75.  Cool fellow, section hiking now after a knee injury.  We seemed to run into each other periodically throughout the day.

Also at Callahan's are a few 'starters' my term for those who started in Campo CA and not skipped sections.  A small tent city lines the back fence.  For me default, that area wasn't being watered when I got in, others followed suit.  Bad positioning has a few of us under the back light.

Tomorrow, I am on the PCT.  The updates will become few and far between.  I hope ya'll are enjoying this adventure to the trail.  Now it is truly time to Hike On and Hike Wise.

Part 2

Got bored sitting at $-bucks, I looked a Google maps, and spoke with a fellow who looked local, not loco.  This fellow said the pathway to Old Town ran behind the train station and was but 3 blocks away.  I did as he said and found myself next to some old trains, miscellaneous railway and harbor stuff.  Pretty cool, I thought.

Before long I was at the Yellow Bridge and kicking myself.  I literally was 3 blocks away from the spot I stood which is 6 blocks from the train station, arugh!  I wandered a while, grabbed a fish & chip from a local joint, and watched the sunset next to a different bridge.

I'm outside airing my feet in front of the train station.  My pack turned to air the back pad, my socks off, pew, I already stink.  A few travelers pass by, yet it's the homeless that want to talk.  One fellow, I thought he was a traveler with his new tee-shirt and hip jeans, said he was hoping he gets a call from a janitorial employment agency.  He passes half a cigarette to a bare footed guy with a dirty blanket shuffling by looking for butts. This clean fellow sounded solid however, the more he spoke the more I wish I had an 'out.' He finally move on.

What I don't see here is a taxi waiting zone.  I take that back, it's on the other side of the building next to the local transit area.  The side I sit at is next to the I-5 and I-80 entry ramps.  An Uber driver just pulled up and picked up a passenger.

It's quiet again.  It's cool enough to be comfortable and not yet needing the zips back on my legs.  I'll get them on for the train as the train is slightly cool as not to smell people like me who've explored an area whike on long layovers or who've just been traveling a while.  I'm already looking forward to a shower in Ashland.

Shehalf, filled her water bottle at the drinking fountain.  I waited as I needed some too.  Her accent sounded German however her name is not, so I guessed, Israeli.  A few minutes later we headed out of the station in search of food. We found an open bar in old town, grabbed some fries, and headed back. This knocked off another hour of waiting.

Back in the station, we struck up a conversation with a Turk.  The three of us, bound for different stops off the same line, each, a different purpose of travel.

I crashed for an hour while they talked.  Gone, Imust have been as I woke when I heard a scuffle.  The scuffle, nothing to worry about, it was people seeing a conductor scanning tickets.  I brought mine up on the phone, then woke Shehalf, who was also asleep at that time.  The Turk worked on his laptop near a power outlet.

A moment later, I felt as if the walk to the train platform looked like a zombie movie, half asleep passengers shuffling then resuming crumpled sleep on gear.  Yet another wait, 20 30 minutes, time stood still as other trains hissed and screached, our line empty.

Different stops, different boarding cars, a huge part of traveling is meeting people for the briefest of times, making that fast connection of life, and parting.  The train, north bound arrived, we parted company, then briefly reconnected on the train.  Sleep and power, my concerns were. I heard the call for her stop, the Turk already off. I gave a paring good bye travel well, and retuned curled up with my tent as a pillow.

Now I watch Northern California slip into Southern Oregon, not knowing when or where my stop is at with Klamath Falls for the bus connection.  I hope the train isn't late for the connection.

Nerves for the hike growl like my hungry stomach.  I brought food for the journey but, chosen to eat elsewhere along the way.  Cheep hot coffee from the lounge car this morning is supplemented finally with a Pop tarts from my food bag.  I mentally rummage the white kevlar Ursack (bear bag, not Bear Vault container) for what I need to get from the grocery store this afternoon as Northern California gives way to Southern Oregon.  Dotted hills laced with out croppings of volcanic flows and crystallized columns, we dip into expansive valleys.

About an hour later,it's my turn to get off the train.  I meet Azguard, the Afgan, who's been in the US since pre-Soviet Invasion days.  He hasn't returned to his home land as it breaks his heart. We get on a bus that drops us off at a different business and finally Ashland.

Ashland, a quaint upscale mountain town with a main street full of artistic coffee shops, upscale second hand shops, and other tourist catchers.  I've grabbed a burger on the far side of town as I headed towards a hostel.  On second thought, I'm gona catch a ride to Hikervile of Callahan's.

This leg is over, now it's time for trail, Thee Pacific Crest Trail.

Hike on.  Hike Wise.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

mistakes, arugh

Why so many mistakes in my writing?  I'm on a mobile device and don't always catch the alternative auto correct.  Please read the mistake in context to reveal the correct word.  Grammer Police, take off, I know, I know, tell it to my device, not me.  If I ever publish my work in a book as a colleague at work wants me to, I'll convert these errors.  They actually drive me crazy, (English Minor/Rhetoric Major).


train riding

Rain, what, in Salt Lake? Yup, my adventure began with standing in the rain waiting to load upon the California Zephyr.  "It's only bothersome for the first 5 minutes, " I remarked to another who waited as if it were nothing, while others ducked as if they melted. Thankfully the rain came after the Pioneer Day fireworks for those who enlightened themselvles for Utah's 2nd biggest celebration.

On the train I found out my power cord is faulty.  I borrowed on for a while from a fellow with two young inquisitive boys. The ride is as expected.  The USA has the worst rails on the planet, quiet and bit bumpy but not as bad as the interstate stood system.  Sunrises as we're some where near Pilot Peak NV.  Benefits of the hair cut, it's a mess I don't need to restrain.

Coming into Reno NV, snow remains on Mt Rose (TRT hike milestone ).
As the train climbed Donner Summit climing out of Truckee, I pulled out HalfMile Map's app.  I watched the app count down the miles to the PCT.  The trail runs understand the trail in a tunnel.  A thought crossed my mind, Northern California by way of Ashland SoBo (southbound) to Truckee next July.  It's a thought.  I'll look at later.

I've got a 10 hour layover in Sacramento.  The only other time I was here, I was with the Caribbean Mercy when she was in Stockton on a public relations tour.  I came up in a mission owned vehicle with one of our Korean crew to pick up another shipmate.  I convinced her to let me drive in to see the Capitol building.  We drove around the block and then on to the airport.  Today, I headed to the Capitol,  walked around for a bit then decided to head to the yellow bridge, a major landmark.  I stopped to ask for directions from a local who wondered what was on my pack, my hiking poles in a case of disposable water bottles.  She told me not to proceed, that I was headed into a homeless jungle, that I'd not be safe.  I took her advice.  I wish at that point I asked for directions back to the train station.  I could have saved my feet 2 miles and at near lost in the city experience.  G [e got me turned around.  One could say I got myself Googled.  A friendly cabbie pointed me in the easiest direction.

Now I sit in a local $-bucks (Starbucks, I prefer local coffee shops).  This is a block from the train station.  I can't get Googled here.  I still have a few hours.

An update on the faulty power cord.  I asked a different passenger as we pulled into Sacramento if there was a near by electronic store.  She said no, and gave me here power cord.  Which we tested to see if it worked, and it did.  So if Trail Magic happens on the train is it still Trail Magic?  TO is someone doing the unexpected for a hiker on the trail.

I'll write a part 2, possibly.  The next leg is at midnight.

Hike on.  Hike Wise.
PS my wireless SD card didn't like my phone.  This image is a phone pic of the camera, cropped.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ready and not

While ya'll are getting into that commute thingy this morn', I'm sitting outside drinking my coffee, lookin at my sunflowers, thinking.  Thinking, 'oh $#|7 I haven't actually packed my ruck in 3 weeks, I guess I should do it now, naw, I have a few hours yet.'  Rays of gold split the clouds.  The hum of traffic mixed with coolers kicking on, one or two various sounds adding value to the moment. 

'The time has come to pay the rent, to pay our share' lyrics from the 80's.

3 years in the making.  $#|7 holy $#|7 let's do this.  3 years since I set my mind on doing this trail while hiking the AT, though the thought kicked around much longer than that.  This is not the AT that I'm headed for.  This trail presents a whole new set of challenges , goals, and high points.  <takes another sip of coffee, ponders taking a photo & decides not to>   Everything is in place, well, in theory it is...

Hike on, hike wise.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wild Flowers

Escaping the heat of the Valley and the last minute to do's, I headed to the greatest wild flower area I know, Alta.  Sure I got up there around noon but, so what.  I watched to see where the majority were headed and went opposite.  Most from the lower parking lots caught the free shuttle to Cercet Lake trailhead.  Cercet is the correct spelling as established when Alta boosted 5000 residents in the gold/silver mining days.  The lake is a family friendly hike across Albion Basin.

I chose to head up Grizzly Gulch.  This leads through a maze of abandoned and sealed mines.  It's not so family friendly with the steepness.  I took the trail split a mile up to the west.  The upper west end pops out above Silver Fork easilierly accessed from Big Cottonwood.  I chatted with one other, a bloke from Bristol.  I passed a few others but didn't chat.

All of 4 miles today round trip.  Had I gotten the gusto to go early I'd have dropped into Brighton via Twin Lakes trail and returned by Catherine Pass.  The loop is about 8 miles and more if you take detours like where I went or up Mount Wolverine.

Ah a nice e quick get away for the day.

Hike on, hike wise.


Maps, guide books, online resources, retail reps etcetera how does one plan a journey greater than a weekend in length?  This is not a definitive guide.  This will be how have I done it, what I've done differently over time, and how I think I can improve on it.

Some of my starting points is why or how come, why do it.  I know many who turn a nose up on sleeping on the floor yet alone on the grass in a park so would they be interested in spending a month or even a night on the ground, in the dirt, far away from any man made structure?   Yeah, let's not go there.  Rather enter my world, I was introduced to it at a young age.  (Mom if you can find one of those first camping trip photos please add it to the comments.)  I first entered backpacking as a Weblos Scout (image hidden in May 2014 postings)  young, lacking experience,  with only 11 miles to hike, down hill over 2 nights.  It sucked.  The before and after photos show why, also buried in another post.  Though it sucked when offered to do it again, I jumped in.  A neighbor/Scout Dad offered to take a few of us up into the Wasatch and Uinta's years later.  Every trip, every hike, a learning experience.  Even carrying a wet sleeping bag for 2 days because of poor tent placement was fun, after the fact.  That trip I also decided never to share a tent again as my buddy had the tent and I got to camp first, found a spot, placed my pack there, went fishing, came back, and another tent was set where I'd wanted to be, <insert frustration comments>.  Now poor placement is my own fault, no one elses.

I did some weekend backcountry overnighters when working in Yellowstone NP with borrowed gear.  I did a few sleep under the trees in Shenandoah NP.  Shenny holds a special place as that's where the seeds of thru-hiking was planted, even though I heard about the AT while in the Everglades.  Do you see about theme yet?  Even when serving with Mercy Ships I got out hiking, maybe not camping but once on Cheju Island, Korea.

About 15 year ago, with plenty of weekend available and mountains near by I resumed hiking which lead to backpacking which lead to saving money/spending money for gear.  The seeds planted in Shenny grew into a thru-hike.  What started out as a day dream became a plan which gathered Internet searches and books.

The AT, honestly, does not need a map.  I didn't carry one.  I left the wall maps with parents and friends for them to follow.  I did carry the Appalachian Guide Book by David "AWOL" Miller so I knew when and where the next shelter, town, and water sources were.  Knowing I could cover up to 15 miles a day in the Uinta's, I placed my logical day at 15 miles a day.  I looked at resupply as being 3 to 5 days apart with an extra day in the food bag.  Truth is, on many resupply days, I walked into town with 2 or more days of food remaining.  I held this as a constant for the majority of the way since Rodeo, another hiker, had run herself short on food even before hitting the NC stateline. I carried her worry with me as a fear I'd run out too.  Mentally, I approached the AT as a series of weekends strung back to back.  Knowing the completion rate, I didn't even plan the New England section or how to get home.  Food planning, I didn't learn the gallon bag trick until after hitting Virgina.  I learned this from CT another hiker who failed the AT the year before, yet had the PCT already under his feet. CT said he put all his rations in one bag for each day this way when he got to town he knew exactly what he needed to get.  Once I started doing this, I got a handle on how much of each product I got.  Previously there were times, I had way to much oatmeal or way to many not power bars (of which I'd overload again) or a few to many pasta sides while vine bags of instant spud mix.  When I set up my meals, today for weekends, I do the same, everything for a day in one bag.  On the TRT last year I ran out of coffee because I robbed the next day's rations for coffee once or twice. Now I have a separate bag for the daily drinks, spices, and wet one wipes.

So far I've covered how I got into it, what I think I can hike in a day, and how to get a handle on my daily food.  I haven't hit which foods or how do I chose the next journey.

There are vast opinions on food, hiker nutrion, etc online.  I know being out of shape my body will consume more calories out of inefficiency.  Once in shape my body will consume less.  Initially, I'll burn 6000 calories per day, efficiency of calorie burning will hit about week 4 and at that time will drop to around 4500 per day.  With a weight budget of 2 pounds of food per day, I try to pack as much punch as possible, not only in calorie count but in nutrion and a few extra salts, not sodium.  Insert disclaimer, I AM NOT A NUTRITIONIST, I have no dietary training background.  I've found nuts and nut butters to pack a punch for me.  Peanut butter packs the most calories per ounce than any other food.  I carry sport recovery drink mixes, first to add the unusual salts back into my system, cramps suck but in hail most drastically in the backcountry, second to add flavor to pond scum water like Spooner Summit Lake on the TRT.

The problem of 2 lbs per day is I max out my calories around 2000.  I count each snack, I have 5 per day, at 2 to 300.  Dinner I look for 450 up to 600.  Breakfast is around 300.  I personally don't carry olive oil, bad experiences with that on the ships going bad in a hot cargo hold, I've never gotten over the rancid smell of it.  Also carrying oil is begging for a messy impossible mess to happen in the ruck.  If you look at my AT prep entries one will find an entry with a resupply lain out. That entry still holds solid, even before the gallon bag trick.  The gallon bag trick helps so that come resupply day, I don't have to lay everything out before deciding what I need.  This journey, I've chosen to repackage Mountain House meals from the big cans as I purchased them on sale over the last year.  I scooped 2 cups into vacuum seal/boil in bags.  Meal prep is easy, add water, hot or cold, and wait, longer if cold.  Stirring is essential to avoid dry clumps which tend to be more prevalent with hot water soaks. 

Coffee in the mornings is either hot or chug (cold).  The difference is whether I have enough fuel and or time.  With the alcohol stoves, I plan 10 minutes to boil 16 ounces of water at 2 ounces of fuel used.  For a weekend trip, that's a no brainer, I carry 8 ounces.  The canister stoves the time to boil is around 6 minutes or less depending on my flame setting.  I typically get 10 per can, I however have not pushed that limit and have and stack of partials and home.  Reading Backpacking magazine highlights fresh coffee via drip or French press, not my style. I also don't want to know the weight of the packs carried by the BM's writers. I tried the Folger coffee like tea bags in the past and would rather suffer without.  Starbucks instant is my go to.  I do carry an 8 oz sized bottle which makes good for chug and tend to drink mixes.  Call that a luxury item if you will.  I had a 500 ml Nalgene on the AT, weight wise way to heavy now.

Town stops, or for the PCT, camp stores are where the calorie deficits get balanced out.  I can devastate an AYCE (all you can eat restaurant)  I'm surprised they don't charge thru-hikers double.  The convenience stores (c-stores) offer calorie filling ice cream, candy bars, and nutritional supplements known as fruit at elevated prices.

Funny, the first leg of the TRT and the AT, I hardly ate.  The second leg of the TRT I ate and ate big, I guess 'cuz I was already in shape for the hike.  I ponder will the lack of hunger effect me this time?

The more one reads, the better.  Even better than reading is getting face to face with someone who is experienced, even if they hiked a different trail than the one being planned. I met a LASH (long @$$ section hiker) for coffee and picked his brain for tips, tricks, etc before leaving for the AT.  However, his hiking style was not mine and on the trail I found myself reverting back to my known comfort.  Some of his advice held true on nuances of that trail: don't pet dogs (if like dogs but don't have one of my own) as they run through poison ivy; every other person is hiking for a cause, this got old fast (Puzzle, yes this is a dig on you but, some how I found another reason to befriend you; GAMER get back on the trail and hike not for Wounded Warriors but for you); shelters are for the social and for the sharing of germs (if someone gets the abundance of brown blazing avoid them and  the privy, move on); finally, don't over plan it, let the trail flow.

Maps and spread sheets; there are several good resources like Craig's PCT Planner and PostHoler's websites that will provide estimated resupply points per one's variable hiking time over the terrain of several different hiking trails.  PostHoler offers the PCT, the AT, and a few others.  Craig's is only the PCT.  Most PCT planners base themselves off of HalfMile Maps.  Each trail has a different preferred set of maps,.  My two cents, include finding out who the standard is and commit to that standard supplementing into it with additional info.  One of my TRT mistakes was I cross referenced one work into another of which each work had different milage between the same points, Arugh! All my PCT miles are from HalfMile.

My miles per day are based on 15 miles per day with 3000 ft elevation gain/loss.  Over such terrain I average 2 miles per hour with a 40lb pack.  Note average, not dedicated, no min or max.  The AT threw some curve balls.  Pennsylvania is flat even in the North however, the flat was map flat, not realistically flat.  The rocks in PA all stand at pointy side up for everyone to dance upon.  The rocks of PA ate my time.  Yet, in Virginia's roller coater region which is 13 miles plus up and down, none over 500 ft change, was side walk hiking, easy to move. I think I cleared a 20 mile day with an hour at the Bear's Den Hostel that day.

The PCT is not the AT.  The PCT is not the AT.  The PCT is not the AT.  That repeat is intentional.  The guide books, forums, and other thru-hikers make it clear.  Anything therefore is fair game, even mileage.  Many say if you did 15's on the AT 20's won't be an issue.  I'm game.

For me, knowing my hiking style is my plan.  I know by the second or thrid day the trail is already off plan.  The plan is mainly for the ground crew at home.  For me it helps to see the miles beyond the map as to figure out the resources, mail drop resupply, etc.  In the Uinta's, many fish, I dont.  Side excursions play into the plan.  What's cool near by?  What's a gota see? What's a detour for a resource that might not be in the next block of trail miles?  Not planned, for this year's hike until late June after my vacation time was approved, is the Solar Eclipse.  I picked Oregon for August last year after meeting PCT'rs on the TRT.  Their advice helped me choose, easy, beautiful, kind weather.

Kind weather, I'll have rain gear mainly for the chilly times and wind. Oregon is said to be dry (ish) in August. The tent is is a shelter from the crawlies.  Beatles, not the band, are weird, ants a nuance, and mosquitoes, blood sucking, they are the only sound I know that penetrate ear plugs which add to their blood suck.  The hiking sticks for the arm stretches, my hands swell while hiking, this helps alleviate that.

Get back on tack, TRAIN.

What would I do differently?  Get a gym membership and stick to a healthy plan, put a limit on much processed food.  I'll get a better food dehydration unit so I can create my own meals, or even ask friends if they want to help prepare meals for drying.  Though I cooked for years on the ships, I've lost that signature touch.  I'll explore other places for camping/backcountry when the Uinta's fill with snow.  Differently, may be throw in with a Meet Up group or two (against my will, also I like the solitude) to meet and see how others do what I do too.  Differently, schedule my panic day for a week before take off day to avoid last minute grabs... disable auto complete so that im responsible for my errors and not that he vice for very rating what I write.

Hike on, hike wise.

Friday, July 21, 2017

ready or not

Ready or not, this is my last day of work for a while.  I'm taking a break from the chaos of commuting to work, to church,  to other things of life for a simpler way.  The way of a thru-hiker is simple;  eat, sleep, get water, hike, repeat, and sometimes not in that order.

My resupply boxes of food were sent out a week ago and await my arrival in key locations along the PCT in Oregon.  Theses also included sets of maps and luxury items (q-tips).  Clean ears are luxurious after a week, doctors may say q-tips aren't the way to go.  I wonder how many have thru-hiked.

I'm still tossed up on which stove to take and I don't want to pack extra weight.  However a quick hot drink is also a luxury for me and soothing way to relax on the trail.  Therefore the canister stove is winning out for speed and convenience over the alcohol fueled Flat Cat Gear stove/windscreen.  Don't get me wrong I still love the alcohol stove as it does help me to slow down and gather my thoughts.

Maps and maps and maps, my sets were ordered, since I don't have a laser printer for the write in rain paper, from of the Half HalfMile map set.  This set is down load able from These are set upon the Nat Geo Maps mention in another post.  For work, I made a map for everyone to see how far I've gotten.  JP will get a daily ping from my Personal Locator Beacon to pin where I'm at.  The progress will be slower than other PCT hikers as I'm an office jockey by day and weekend warrior by weekend.  My folks, too, have an outline of the journey.  Honestly, I can't wait until the traditional burning of the itinerary yet, I've got to keep pace as vacation is not forever.

I sit enjoying the view from Sunset Coffee in Sandy.  This view is simple, the coffee honestly okay.  The view and almost quietness helped me many a day to plan this journey.  Haze fills the valley with distance reminders to be fire wise.  Fire wise also plays into which stove, alcohol is easy to knock and spash... not good.

Many hikers take an image of their gear neatly lain out.  Truth of the mater it's seldom that neat.  It's staged.  I keep my gear in a bin in the off season.  I kept the quilt stored loosely in a big cotton pillow case on the top shelf.  Some is gear I use daily which makes the gear list essential for packing.  Not wanting to become TRAIN Wreck (see April 2014).  I've been careful to keep an eye out for last minute grab and toss into the pile.  I will pack a meal or two for the train ride to Oregon.

A few things I'll be grateful to be a way from... 24/7 connectivity to the internet, road construction (how can road construction be a 13 month a year thing?), and negative news.  Negative news for me will be rain is in the forecast or a posting of fire closures.  Hence one reason I got my ham radio license, so I can interact with others as possible to find out details and add a social aspect outside the hiking community.

Somethings I am looking forward to... The last time I was in Oregon was in '98 as as missionary with on the m/v Caribbean Mercy (since retired) we left Coos Bay for LA and ultimately Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch wiped out a region we'd worked in that same year.  I look forward to beginning another Strategic Life Goal.  Don't ask if it was a result of 'what's it book/movie' (bug off response entered here).  I heard about the PCT long before then while investigating the Appalachian Trail and started looking at it while reading Trail Journals.  Since being back about the my job (I quit to hike the AT ), I realized quiting and returning again is out of the financial question, I broke the PCT into vacation able do able sections.  I did a hike 50 mile section of the PCT when I did the Tahoe Rim Trail last summer.  I'm excited to see a different part and much longer part in a short while.

Along with all the preparation, some other things happen.  I shocked many at work while helping one neighbor loose a bet with another when I let the gal who cut the locks off tend to remove my ungainly goatee.  I donated my hair, which measured up to 15 inches braided to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program.  I haven't worn my hair this short in close to 10 years.  With the commitment to finishing the PCT in 10 years I doubt I'll regrow it for donation again if I head grey.  The folks at work had another so hard time with the short hair and clean chin. Okay, not such a hard time rather many did double takes and still came back for a lingering look.  The head receptionist  (no longer her title as she does so much more than that) even chased me to get a new ID photo taken.

Just a few more days...
Ready or not, I'm committed and this is my crazy.

Loops in the Uinta's

I wrote this a while ago.  I thought I lost it.  Read on...

I chased myself out of the office on Friday, weekend plans in hand.  I've got two weekends between now and my vacation time where I can camp both Friday and Saturday nights.  Granted these aren't long enough for a decent shakedown but, I'll take em.
I drew up the plan and an alternate incase I felt the High Uinta's snow pack was too much.  I email them to my folks so that they know where I am.  Over the years I've gotten more detailed. Do you know National Geographic makes quad maps available on line? copy and paste into a browser.  You'll need to look for pdf-quads quad maps and zoom in.  These maps are more detailed than the regional ones they produce.
I lucked out finding a parking spot at Crystal Lake Trailhead.  This are is 90 minutes away barring any traffic issues.  Most people head to a few spots like Island Lake, Long Lake, and Cliff Lake.  I looped towards Duck Lake. When I did this loop last summer Weir Lake didn't have many people at it.
Watching the sun, I found a rock shelf of several hundred feet and several layers.  The trail dips below it.  I went on it and found a wide easy spot to lay down.  I also found a spot to fix a Mountain House meal a few yards away.  The Uinta's filled with areas like this that don't show up on many maps.  One must take care when bushwacking to skirt around these, typically found in the upper basins, in the lower areas as the trails skirt them already.
My spot was about 1/2 miles from Weir Lake, wide open sky.  Though I have my tent, I used it as a pillow instead.  The forecast this weekend, hot in the valleys, cool in the higher elevations, clear skies all around.  A bonus, no moon.  Perfect cowboy camping weather.  I fixed my bed, made supper, and wandered with my tea.  A hundred yards down, a waterfall from the creek beside me.  Ah, my lullaby.
As expected, a chilly breeze all night.  The quilt performance second only to a sleeping bag.  The tent as a pillow, not so satisfactory.  I watched the Big Dipper pour into the Little Dipper.  The Milkyway galaxy dominant in the sky less the haze from forest fires drifting here.
I took my time breaking camp, even making a hot coffee, a true treat for me.  My time here isn't about miles, it's about gear.  Of which I forgot my handheld ham radio, not a critical peice.  I decided later, I'll take one I can recharge by USB though vastly under powered to hit any distant repeater.  The one I had planned with a yagi antenna can hit the repeaters on the Wasatch.  Yes, that's over many people's heads, please see the tab about ham radio.  The item I'm most concerned with is the new pack and my fuel choice.  I'm planning on using Esbit tabs as they can be shipped via surface mail.  What I've found is, the buggers are a bit finicky to light in a breeze.  They require direct flame to start.  The bonus is, partial ones can be lit again.
For the day, I looped to Duck Lake, up to Island Lake, up to Smith Morehouse Pass.  I dropped the ruck there while I headed towards Big Elk Lake.  Along the way is a view that looks over this region.  The higher elevations took on new effort.  Postholing I didn't do, the soft snow shuffle I did, thwarted by choppy melt off and going up hill.  I faced this all day above 10,000 feet.
Upon my return to Island Lake junction, I went to Long Lake.  Ate lunch there while airing my feet and drying my shoes.  I dipped towards the trailhead to bounce up to Cliff Lake.
After Cliff Lake the trail became a blurred under the snow yet visible via several terrain features.  The one time I got way off, I aimed high on Mt Watson, where upon looking down after a bit saw my destination lake.
I'm camped yet upon the rocks, the campsites near Clyde Lake are a bit too wet or too close to the water.  Up here, being next to water is cold.  The elevation is just under 10,500 feet.  Clear and cool again, fire smoke drifts on the horizon.   I found a spot and sat a long while.
I did eventually go for a wander up to Divide Lakes and around.  I didn't see any place more satisfying than where I plunked down eariler.  This whole area is a combination of fir trees, scrub fir, lichen, and rocks mixed with some other stuff.  The elevation I'm at is on the border of the tree line.  Funny in the Whites on New Hampshire tree line is about 3500 feet and if the trees are shorter than 8 feet tall.  I've seen in a few areas where tree line dips to 9,500 feet in Utah.
Upon my return to the pack, refilled my water, and set about making camp.  The day hikers long since passed. The sun went behind Mt Watson around 7pm.  I've watched the shadow chase over the forest below and crossing the Mirror Lake Highway.  I know of at least 5 occupied campsites up here.  Not even crowded.  I wonder how may are packed round Cliff Lake tonight.
I know this is a long post.  One weekend trip's worth.
On Sunday morning I woke thinking the cool night had decreased the air in my pad, nope, I'd slid off it.  The stars over night were incredible.  If you can get to a Dark Sky region on a moonless clear night, do it.  
Just before the sun hit the mountain, I got up, a little frost on my sleeping quilt. I made coffee while brushing off the cool of the morning.  I turned the quilt into the sun.
I made my way to the Notch, chatting with a couple other campers along the way.  I got up there and chose not to descend into the other basin, rather I looked for a view while leaving my pack for a while.  I wish I'd taken my long-sleeved shirt with me the few hundred yard I wandered, a touch chilly in the shade. 
Back at the pack, I spotted mountain goats coming down the mountain.  A moment later other goats with tiny kids leapt across the path disappearing just as fast.
I took my time making the the 3 odd miles to the car slowly.  The parking lot just as full as Friday.  I watched people load up for their hikes.  I pondered some of the gear people take, then again each hikes their own hike and I brush away the thought.
I drive not directly home but over to some other areas.  The snow is still patchy elsewhere up in the Uinta's.  Spring definitely is here.  Soon hoards of mosquitoes will feast upon us, and like that they'll be gone while we hike and fish on.
I've realised I've hike the Uinta's close to 10 years now, less a trip or two in Boy Scouts.  I am fascinated by their ruggedness and and the same time their gentleness.
Hike on, hike wise 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Duchense River and Naturalist Basin

10 years ago when I got back into backpacking I had late 80's gear and a parcel of other gear.  I also photocopied a map to use.  I came out on the Highline Trail to Rocky Sea Pass went south tying into the Duchense.  That trip I walked myself off of my map.  This weekend I decided to do the reverse of most of it.  I camped at the confluence of the North and East Forks of the Duchense at the bridge, a place i noted then it would be good for camping.  I came up past Pinto Lake, cut over to Four Lakes Basin, then up to the Highline.  For some reason everytime I pass the Pinto Lake cut off on the Highline the trail drags.  I got a second wind when I came to the Naturalist Basin trail.   I forced myself to take short breaks to drink water.  I found a spot that I'd identified as a good spot on a different trip.
My last few rucks are about tying in other trips into new trips.
Last weekend I was at Crystal Lake area.  I tied in my Smith Morehouse trip of last year with one I did in the fall of 2013 of going to the Notch.
Right now I'm comfortable, no mosquitoes, and full.  When I got here I was wiped.  After an hour of resting and airing out my quilt, I headed over to the upper basin.
The upper basins in the Uinta's seem to stretch for miles with intermittent clusters of trees, rock bands, and wide open sky.  This one is split with a narrow section above Jordan Lake.  I chose not to check out the west basin.
Got back and fixed a Knorr side with a pack of tuna.  I'd have tea but I ran out so I had a few packets of hot cider.  Both satisfied me.  With low mosquitoe population I didn't need to pace or wander about.
I've got my tiny Baofeng UV-3R cranked up listening not to any hams but to country music sine it was the first station that came up.  I listened to 162.550 which is the area'vs weather frequency.  Mostly cloudy tonight, expect late day rain on Sunday.  Perfect for me.  I've got 9 miles to the car since I parked at Mirror Lake and not the main trailhead for this area.
Love it up here, wish I could stay longer yet, I know I've got a great hike ahead of me shortly.
Hike on, hike wise.
Post hike notes.  I reflect on this hike of a few weekends ago, what amazing country I live near.  I research other destinations and know there are other place just as grand in neighboring states.  One thing I am reminded of as I hike is the frailty of the wilderness.  Please aim to minimize impact of the visit to the wild aggressive by promoting "Leave No Trace" by taking only pictures, leaving only foot prints, and sharing with others by not broadcasting one's presence.  Also be situationaly aware of what is around.  Here is a link to current wild fires burning...
There is a lot we can do and even more that we can do that we should not so that others can enjoy the experience too.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

I did it, White Pine pt 2

The nap wasn't so much as a snooze, rather a ponder of a safe way to reach the pass into the lake.  I was on the edge of a little ravine so I followed that up.  I looked for the least likely spots of slides and rollers.  I spotted someone else's track from the previous day cutting across the basin.  I headed that direction.  I cut a switchback or two of my own and joined the traverse to the pass.
Okay, this altitude got me huffing along with the slope.  I confirm, I am in shape.  The way down will be a combination of shuffle and butt slide.
I tracked through the pass.  Standing on 7 to 10 feet of snow.  Shuffled to a view of the lake, it's bathed in snow with splinter of turquoise at the edges.  The lake is covered with more snow then I've seen at this time years last. I explored up high not going to the lake always aware of my surroundings.  I was actually closer to the lake at my lunch spot.
Backcountry skiers this is the place for a while longer.  If you want to play, come. 
As I began to examine my route down, a gal was on my tracks as they joined the lower basin.  I head down, chatting it up for a bit with her.  With her and everyone I passed within reach of the lake, I let them know to keep an eye up hill and exercise caution when things begin to move.  It's not a mater of if, it's when.  As the sun warms the slopes the danger increases.  I doubt it's refreezing over night, now.  PS I was out of the danger zone by 1:15.
The first time here years ago, I had roller balls, yeah not fun and not a smart day.  Since then, I've made a point for this time of year to get up and down early from any snowy slope.
By the time I reached the trees, I passed 5 others.  By the time I got a mile beyond, another half dozen excluding a couple who turned back for the reflection off the sun began to become a bother.
The further down I went the less info I gave.  At the trail split for White and Red Pine, the day hikers and families gathered.  I spoke with one couple who turned back at the next trail split of Red Pine for the sloppiness of the snow.
My recommendation for the next two weeks; go early and turn back as the snow softens or choose a different trail set.  There are lots of snow free trails in the Wasatch.  Some trails are in the front country while others are at the lower elevations of the backcountry.
Never push one's safety.  If one becomes disabled, they put others in danger.  This is the thought that kept crossing my mind as I made my way across the snow fields.  I have no formal training.  I am an experienced hiker who chooses to err on safety than to push my limits.
I mentioned using my hand as a guage for angles, I may explore this in a different post.
Gangster on a mountain? Sure, ever have a sunburnt mouth?  Who makes sunscreen for the roof of the mouth?  Let me know in the comments.

White Pine Lake

At this time of year when I approach White Pine Lake, it's about 50/50 if I actually get to the lake.  I'm sitting within 100 meters of the dam on a boulder for lunch.  I traversed a major snow field to get here.
Behind me is the actual trail, buried under snow.  The trail as it exits the trees is about a mile of exposure, open to tumbling rock, snow rollers (roller balls), and wet sluf avalanches.  Red Baldy from the Valley looked pretty clear of snow which gave indication the trail could be safe.  Err, yeah, no! Not yet.  A few rollers, cartoon like, have come down since I got here.  These didn't quite across the trail or path I would have taken but, why chance it.  The day is warming up and the danger is increassing.  Evidence of activity from yesterday can be seen in the photo.
The glare off the phone made it hard to see if I got this image smartly.
I do like this boulder field and basin.  This area reminds me how small I am in the grand scheme of things.  It also reminds me that humans can impact the landscape.  Just on the other side of this mountain is Snowbird Ski resort.  They've changed their section of mountain from pristine to less than something.  I'd love to see this canyon designated as wilderness to protect it.
As I sit here and as one may read this, if I'm within 100 meters of the dam why don't I go there?  Easy, I've got a deep ravine before the face.  The dam is actually small and is part of someone's water rights, which may have held this area up in the past from becoming wilderness to my understanding.  The slope is such if one made an 'L' with one hand, from the top joint to the thumb tip is the approximate slope.  The slope the trail crosses  below is the angle appropriate tip of the finger to tip of the thumb.  Both slopes today are yeah, no's.
I think I'll just nap a little longer.  I've already put hot noodles and tea away from lunch.
Anyone up form some spring time sledding?   We may have two more weeks of this snow up here.
Hike wise and leave no trace of your travels.