Thursday, July 19, 2018

the real Day 4

Zero day in Vancouver WA.  Everything is on the table from the biggest of items to the smallest.  It's all being taken into consideration.

Yesterday  as my ride and I went though Stevenson, a town in the gorge, I pointed out two starters.  'How do you know?' she asked.  I replied, 'they are lean as sticks and their packs, the size of day hikers.'  These guys have come an easy thousand miles on foot and everything thing in their packs is maximized for going farther.  Luxury items are minimized, paired down to a few grams. It might be an MP3 player and ear buds, many just use their phones for music.  Clothing is only as worn less an extra pair of socks, a rain jacket, or a light puffy.

How can I pair down as such?  I'm still green even with 3,000 miles under foot.  I like my extras. My sit pad is new since the AT, may be that's a burden too.  My journal will stay.  The solar panel is gone for good.  The pillow however stayed since I dint carry enough clothes to make a softball if I dry out my shorts and shirt.  The food bag gives incline to my feet.

I need to send some stuff off today.  I'll comb the pack again and again.  How small of an item needs to go?  The Sawyer back flush adapter at 8 grams? An extra pen? My pot cozy?  Thankfully, I didn't grab an extra spoon.  What of my big 4; sleep system, pack, kitchen, shelter?  The pack, hello REI, take my money.  I'll get there tomorrow, walk in with my remaing gear, and load out in a different ruck.  The pack that is comfortable on my still tender hips, is the one I leave with.  This'll be my 2nd pack swap on a trail, arugh!

Laundry and the spoon are clean.  Out to look for a longer sports shirt and compression shorts.

How do I Casey Neistat this day?  What's the need/set up, the pre-conflict, the crux, and resolution?  Need: sort gear multiple times and send it off, find coffee, resolution return to where I started.  So far so good. I swept a bit of th garage, laid it all out, and weighed everything by hand on importance and perceived weight, the franken boxed what is gone.  I walked to the UPS Store and on to two coffee shops, past a Freddie's where I got a new shirt with a longer tail to prevent riding up under the hip belt and more Nuun tablets aka salvation water mix.  Next stop, a bus stop. That walk is a long road walk under a Northwestern sun.  Mind you it was also in 3 parts of about a mile each. 

I must stay away from social media.  It's depressing me with gorgeous mountain vistas north of Trout Lake.  Where oh where are my trail legs?  Doh! confined to a city for a few more days. 

First things first in Seattle; REI, Pike's Place, and a coffee - non Starbucks.  In '99 I escaped without going to Starbucks.  Crash and run somehow.  Plotting 2 or 3 days from now is a mystical vapor.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Day 3

Sorry, I lost count.  The day 4 on July 17 is actually Day 3.  The original plan on day 2's account was to zero at the campground.

Hike on, Hike wise

Day 4

The house befalls to silent as my hosts slip into slumber.  I remind myself the adventure is in the unknown.

I tenderly tossed and turned.  Trying to be careful on my sides.  The forest canopy played with the stars.  My thoughts wrestling with the morning.  Sure my hips were trashed last year which I forgot about when it came to breaking down the hike.  I also was at a place hikers gathered so holding up a day or two made no difference.  Here, at a forest service campground, the story is different.  I have no camp store with over priced foods to purchase.  There are very few hikers coming as there are campsites closer to the PCT.  My mind danced on wrong things.

I was wide awake when I heard Stanford rustling.  She's hiking on, on into the heat.  I got up when she went to the table.  I forced my stove onto the canister.  It worked, hot coffee or bust.  We talked a while.  She's debating taking the next out and yellow blazing to Trout Lake.  I guess you can't call getting a ride around if you are sectioning.  The heat murdered us both over the last couple of days. Our first two days.  She had a climb of 1300 foot without water for 13 miles a head of her.  I can see why she's not looking forward to it.  Expected 90's again.

She planted a brain seed, an idea, in my head to skip a head.  Rest up, regear, loose the weight, and move on.

Before 7 she left.  The pack hovering in the forest.  As she left, why not Light-a-Foot as a trail name?  She's tiny comparatively.  Trail names are names we can choose to take or not.  They often come by something done, said, or other.  Other, mostly around the stupid stuff we all do at some point.  I've tried to look beyond the stupid and find the good.  Even mine started as something less than.

I went back to bed.  I mulled the possible.  What's in my pack? What's in my scope of do able? More so, what's not?  I don't want to walk the walk of shame back to work.  This is not the kind of humiliation I want.  What I didn't have is cell service.  That's a key role in the next days a head.

The plan hatched.  Though I got this campsite one more evening, I don't care, let somebody else have it.  I talked with the campground host.  They were heading down the mountain in a few hours, one way.  If I didn't have a round trip avail, I'd go with them and drop a group text when cell scervice landed.

The campground host asked me what's my story and the conversation built from there.  People are the story.  She dropped me off near the Pizza Parlor Chi and Sarah treated me to last year.  As we parted, I thanked her not only for the ride but for keeping me talking, enjoying a coffee etc.  For me as a rider that is driver safety, get the other talking and holding something as one has a hard time with going devious if the hand and mouth are active.  Mind you, that's not fool proof.  There is always inherent danger in giving and taking rides from someone you just met.

A text or two later my gracious hosts of Saturday and I made contact.  I also got a hold of my friend in Seattle. I have a month.The plan: heal a few days, send someone else's fear far away from me, get into a pack that will not irritate my skin, and hike the PCT on.  Both of the passes outside Seattle have boxes waiting for me. I don't mind skipping a section or two, that's why they call section hiking, section hiking, you skip around so that eventually you hike all the parts.

Though I am a section hiker of the PCT, I am a thru-hiker.  Thru-hikers don't come this far just to encounter a problem and turn around.  We, like other classes, find ways to get through the tough sections of life.

The adventure continues.

Hike on, hike wise

Day 2

No one came down the road last night.  I got on the trail before 6 and met Stanford at her camp at the next flowing water source by 6:30 ish.  I love a cool morning hike.  We met on FB Wednesday when she posted she was leave from the Bridge the same day as I.  I Private Messaged, I was too and gave a brief intro.  She was elated to met. She thought I might arrive last night.

We enjoyed breakfast there and gone by 7:30 odd.  Hiked together for a chunk of the moring then I went on to natural break areas. Our goal, Panther Creek (ice cold river with a bridge).  Breaks were long and at Trout Creek we met Airborn and Bones, two starters who are a head of the bubble.  We tagged with them for a couple of breaks before we turned towards the campground.  They were making miles even in 95 temps.

Along the way today, I kept checking my hips.  The belt rubbed two giant holes.  There isn't enough time or food supply on me to sit to heal a few days here.  I alottted the extra time in my vaction to be used in the North to get to Seattle.  The humidity ate by chaffing another area as well.  

Her decison to buy* a picnic table for the night turned into a blessing for me.  This campground is full of friendly people.  I'll zero here and post a note "PCT hike looking for ride into Portland or any place near there. See unit 3."

Months of planning, years of dreaming, and like ice on blacktop in July, gone.  

These two days include just under 40 miles of hiking, several dry water sources, a lot of sweat, and now tears as I drop out by injury.  I will return but, I dont see when.  Then again maybe I skip a head.

*camp at the local developed campground. 

Trail Day 1

Last night I slept in a comfortable bed.  Tonight I'll be somewhere on the forest floor.  Ryan dropped me off at the Bridge of the Gods Oregon around 9:30.  I choked up in tears as I crossed.  I am back on the PCT.  The Columbia River swept under me.
I wove my way around and up along side Table Top Mountain.  Met a novice section hiker who was struggling.  I saw him at the next water, haven'tseen him since.  Some where along the way I pulled a muscle, arugh.  Every time I stubled from then on I cursed a moment.

I stopped around my mile 8 about 2:30 still climibing. I drank a Nuun tablet to rehydration and crashed out for a nap.  Refreshed I carried on.  I had 2 1/2 ltrs of water.
PCT 2161.8 I stoped for dinner at 6:30.  A near by spring is dry.  The next water source is 2.5 miles.  I have 1 ltr left after making dinner.

I've come 17.8 miles today.  Not bad for day 1 but, I'd like to clean up.  My legs scream stay.  I sit at the edge of an od clear cut.  Young trees crowd together.  A wood pecker raps on one of the few old standing trees.  Plenty of day light left and its down hill to the next water and camp sites.  I'm gona take a first day 20.

For those watching my SPOTs, yes, I did sleep on the side of a well groomed dirt road.  Had the stars for company and the heat as a blanket.  Eventually, I did slip my feet into my quilt.  The water was scarce and the campsites even more so from where I stopped for dinner, hence the road.

Hike on, Hike wise.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

what just happened

Delaying the finale literally to the last minute, I panicked over one item.  The only item that hadn't passed through my hands last night.  "Where's my spoon?"  Every long distance hike knows the anxiety that comes with the missng spoon.  More than anyother single piece of gear this one feeds the hungry hiker thus preventing hangry from erupting.  A hangry hiker with a missing spoon is the last creature you want in the woods.

Thankfully I'd seen it in the food bag a few days ago.  I'm using the food bag as my carry on to Portland.  I left my coffee to make a quick search.  Yup, I have it. Holding it up like the Precious, I relaxed,a little.  Psalm 139:23 "Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts."  It's amazing what little things will create an anxious thought.

I've found that packing the last minute prevents me from throwing excess weight into the pack.  This does not mean that I haven't packed my ruck.  It means I know my gear and I know it well.  There's thousands of miles in my pack.  The gear list is precise to what I expect and adds a little safety.  A midnight FB jump, someone reported that a section north of Snoqualmie having icy snow and they needed traction aids of which they did not have.  Last minute weight but, a Mt Rose experience I do not want repeated. Gear Lists make a difference.

There however, remains little decisions. I've been two tents for the last week.  The decision broke as I spoke with another hiker, of a different style.  He recalled my frustration over the tight floor space of last year and remarked on the convenience of the slightly heavier tent, heavier by 6 odd ounces.  The extra weight isn't going to matter when it comes to good sleep.  Bad sleep however, will matter on big mile days making them harder.  The decision is cut, the Six Moon Design's Lunar Solo, aka the Green Beast, is home, err shelter upon my back.

I told another friend I wasn't going to bring a book.  As I replaced my long distance hike planning journal in the bookcase, I saw John Stott's "Basic Christianity" a book I started to read this summer while in the Uinta's.  A last minute grab and I hope the only one, it now sets on top the food bag.

I double checked my electronics and their cords.  All is good no PCT/OR experience this round.  Time to relax a little more.  Overwhelmed, by Big Daddy Weave, rests on my guitar case.  I'd rather be overwhelmed by the things of God than the little things of man.  I play my guitar one last time while waiting for my ride.

PS thankyou for the birthday wishes


Another iShipment email hits my inbox. My food is hitting the trail before I do.  Yet, doubt lingers behind the veil of excitement.  Kingsbury Grade NV, along the Tahoe Rim Trail, the PO said my package arrived.  In reality as I went to the shop that June,  my food was down at the post office in Stateline.  I didn't eat much on the first leg and made a quick breakfast grab at the grocer in Tahoe City thus I didn't need much to get me through the next section of the TRT, Kingsbury Grade to Mt Rose.

My doubt is strong but, I refuse to call as last year many of the shops I've sent resupply to are small proprietor, Ma/Pa type places and a phone call from potientially hundreds of hikers confirming addresses can eat into their limited time to make a buck, a living.  I trust the info from the resupply guides as accurate.  Yet, what if my resupply is sitting in a different town like what happened on the TRT? I don't have the luxury of time to get to a grocer.  I'll resupply with what is avail then move on.

Doubt of the plan and info is the one part of the plan that really makes me nervous.  At the sametime, with the unknown comes adventure.

A late night chat the other night opened or rather forewarned me of the possibility of lingering snow in some areas that may present issues.  How can this be?  I see eleven thousand foot peaks outside my door that are snow free.  The Northern Cascades however, the Wasatch are not.  Washington receives lots more snow than Utah does.  The also have tree cover that shades it longer.  This chat lead me to put an extra pound in my pack with foot traction aids known as micro-spikes.

I made the mistake of leaving the micro-spikes in the car as I headed up Mt Rose of the TRT.  Enter type 2 fun, not fun to do but fun to look back on.  Call type 2's learning experiences.

I'd rather send gear home or carry the weight than not have it when I need it.

Also in the late runnings, though not set in stone, I may have a place to stay at the end of the trail.

Focus, focus, I reminded myself at work.  There is a time to be on the trail but that time is not yet.  I worked on my list of prep to do as I could.

At home, things came together.  Not only is the pack there awaiting, the house is clean too.  The list is well enough done.

Show and tell

After dinner it was time to reset the pack from travel mode to hike mode.  I dumped out the contents of the food bag, the box of food sent a head to my friend's, and the rucksack across my friend's living room floor.  Their boys asked about many pieces of gear.  I explained what it was and why I carried it.  I'll admit, it's a bit heavier than I want.  I erred on the side of safety.  Once loaded, Ryan hoisted it up on their shoulders.  Probably the most fun I've had for a while watching youngsters with packs on.

I met Mercy eons ago before they dated.  She helped with the m/v Caribbean Mercy, of Mercy Ships, pubilic relations tour in South Korea. He served with the deck department on a different vessel with Mercy Ships in England where they met. They kept in contact after leaving that vessel, later married, and had a family.

I was the cook on the Caribbean Mercy for many years including the public relations tour to her home nation.  Mercy and I caught up as I left the PCT last September.  She offered a place for me to stay when I came back to their area.

In the morning the trail begins...

One thing about the trails, it's about the people along the way that make it even more special.

Hike on, Hike wise

Saturday, July 14, 2018

mt Hood

Since August, Mt Hood's been my phone's home page image.  She came into view, nostalgia hit with excitement of putting another PCT section under foot.  A few more minutes, another 12 hours...
First hang out with some fellow shipmates of 20 year ago.  A shower and solid breakfast to boot too.
But first landing...

Sunday, July 08, 2018


Trying to tie the last bits and pieces of this year's section hike together almost is like herding cats who are chasing mice.
It wasn't until July 4th that I finally finalized my resupply and taped the boxes shut.  I mailed them the next day.  That debate revoled around the first leg of the journey.  Do I do an 8 day carry of food or take the chance on a forest service road hitch thus dividing that weight up? I'm doing the later, which now means there's another delay or hustle I will encounter to avoid a Sunday arrival at a Post Office.
I'm also debating the tent choice.  Do I take the ultra light Z-pack tent which in 18 ounces yet has tiny usable space inside.  The grey Six Moon tent seen in this year's photos with its floor-less design and awkward zipping bug screen.  Or do I return to what I dub the Green Beast which hasn't seen the woods since I mailed it home in Damascus VA from the AT? The Green Beast is a Six Moon designed tent weighing in at 24 ounces, lots of floor space, and a good to zip bug screen.  I suffered condensation issues in the humidity of the East 4 summers ago hence sending it home.  My concern is weight and bugs.  My choice of going to Washington at this time is based on the least likely hood of being caught in the notorious down pours of the Northwest.
Speaking of the Northwest, NorCal/Southern Oregon shut down the I-5 due to wildfire. Callahan's Lodge, south of Ashland OR, evacuated a day or so ago.  The fire season is taking a toll on hikers and communities, again.  So far nothing is being reported in Washington.  The Facebook forums are popping up with rides wanted, not urget calls to bail out at rhe next exit trail.  When I'm on the trail Facebook is one of the last places I go as battery life is connection and navigation juice.  My folks know how to reach me.
I will have my SPOT satellite device with me but it's one way communication.  Public gripe to that company and their competition, release the new versions in the winter not in the middle of the thru-hiking season. You forced my hand to commit to an antiquated device. The new devices, which are just releasing this month, provide 2 way com's thus alerting hikers and other users to the immanent dangers that happen and where cell services are not available.  Yes, folks there's a lot of territory in the West without coverage contrary to the advertisement maps.  Complaint over.
I am fortunate this year to be at the forefront of the NoBo bubble with so many skipping sections and encountering the SoBo bubble as they just started this past week or so.  With so many, I project, to be on the trail communication with travel rapidly.  Another reason why I chose this season for this section.
I sit outside this morning enjoying the cool of the day before the Valley gets hit with another tripple digit day.  Where will this day lead?  Not on a hike but most likely to the gym for an hour or so amongst the to do list of today.

Hike on, Hike Wise

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Grandaddy Basin

Scratching my head while sitting at Pinto Lake in the High Unita's I tried to remember if this was one of the places my Scout Troop had camped.  I've been here plenty as a mid point on a hike but, remembering back 30 plus years is a stretch.  l camped along the end this weekend.

I got off early Friday. Drove longer than expected towards Hanna to get to the Grandview Trailhead.  As a side note, don't do the final 6 miles in a 2 wheel drive car.  It's step as, never mind, and has drop offs, yeah may be no.  I made good time to Pinto Lake where I called it a day.

Saturday, I made slow miles and visited another point I haven't been in a while, Rocky Sea Pass.  10 years ago I spent my first night alone in the Uinta's here.  The other side is, um, not pass able for me.  I sat a while staring into the next basin full of lakes.

From here I returned and dropped into 4 Lakes Basin for a bit and then on to Grandaddy Lake.  For a while I thought about going by way of Rock Creek and up.  After setting camp, I wandered a bit.  I went down the trail I would have come up.  It was abandoned or did I take a wrong trail.

The mosquitos are out at this spot, arugh.  I donded the bug net to keep my sanity until one decided to have my tea after supper.  Needles to say, I didn't finish that mug. One does not know the trouble of sleep until they've shared a tent with a few pesky mosquitos.

Sunday will be a hot coffee before heading over the pass to the car.  Hopefully an uneventful drive to the main road and home.

I typically like doing day by day on the hikes however I am using a broken device now in an Otterbox case which I'm not a fan of.  However had I had the device contained last week it wouldn't be broken.
Ah making of memories.

Hum, I hear rain.

Going down the road to Grandview is a lot easier.  I may drive up there again.
Rain, light and sparse, just enough to wet the tent.  Since I get up and go this means drying out later in the day.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Wrap up

Exit days are a mix, sometimes I've got miles to crunch, others are lazzy.  This exit day fell into lazy.  I woke up rested, warm, refreshed.  The lower elevation, trees, and the wind dying out added to solid sleep.  I like to try to be up and gone in 15 minutes as a goal.  This being lazy, how does 25 minutes sound?

After packing, I boiled up some water for coffee, walked Duck Lake's beach before heading out.

I wandered to Weir Lake, down a side trail to Majorie Lake.  At Majorie Lake I fixed a mug of mint tea and played the guitar a while.  I really need to memorize some music.  I checked out a few spots near by before returning along the flooded trail.  Wet feet, suck it up, walk through the water.  The modern materials need no pampering like the boots of old.

I was back at the car by noon.  I had a lazy time.  What did I learn?  Keep the phone in a case.  I dropped it a few times too many.  Also a tent is warmer than sleeping under the stars but, I wouldn't exchange sleeping out under the stars when I can for a little warmth.

Hike on, Hike wise.

OMG Stars

At hiker midnight (after sunset) I slipped into my quilt.  Still not dark, I rolled over.  When I tossed next the stars were casting shadows.  Several hours later the Milkyway Galaxy appeared.  I stared in wonder.  How can anyone choose a tent on a night like this? No wind, no moon.

Around the third watch of the night, 3 to 5 am, I got chilled.  I left the bag liner home, thtat would make a bit of a difference.  The quilt is 30 degree rated, meaning that's the low end comfort range.  I shrugged the chill off.

Day break came.  I didn't aim for 15 minutes to gone but, I did pack quickly.  I stuffed things such that I could dry out my ground sheet and quilt with minimal intrusion and get coffee at the same time.

I hike up to The Notch, stuck my head over the pass, came back, found a place in the sun for a while.   Laid out the gear to air out, fixed a hot coffee, and jamed a few tunes until the wind kicked up.  Did you know I hate wind... wind is good for kite flying, sailing, and cleaning out the Salt Lake Valley air.  Arugh, I'm chilled again.  Time to step away from this cliff band and the great view to a place a bit more sheltered.


No mater how many times I enter a basin in the Uinta's I find magic.  Each time is slightly different though the terrain does not change.

I wandered towards Divide Lakes, no trail just going between the different small lakes until I got there.   I talked with a fellow a spell at a camp site I've used before,  before moving on.

I dropped into Cliff Lake, spun a hard right but before I proceed I spent a few minutes chatting  with climbers headed to Cliff Lake.  One gal knows a someone I met last year in Oregon.  What a small world.

I went up to Long Lake, took a nap.  Went to Island Lake, went off trail to Fire Lake, a small lake one can see from the Big Elk Lake Trail above.  It's easy to find... follow the water.  Got back to Island Lake, passed down to Duck Lake.

At Duck Lake I sat a bit too long and decided the wandering is over for the day.  I'm writing at 7pm, been here since 4.  Yeah, I've got a few miles to pull to get to the trailhead in the morning but, so what.

With the wind, I've set my tent to help keep me a bit warmer and also using a big downed tree as a wind block.

Ah a weekend of relaxing...


Crystal Lake trailhead was in overflow mode by the time I got there after work.  I chose to find a quiet place above Wall Lake long before sunset.  I'm sure I could have found another spot higher but, eh so what I'm up for fun this weekend.  I don't have much of an agenda just wander, camp, and play a little guitar, pun intended.

I'm hoping with my position I'll get a sky full of stars and a great sunrise.