The Pacific Crest Trail is approximately 2650 miles long and connects Mexico and Canada. I hiked the trail in 2002 and have my journal and some pictures posted below.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom! Lee and I left their house at about six this morning and arrived in Campo at about 7:30 or so. I had a great time with his family and I also got to see Barbie and Linda (very briefly) which was nice.
Got to Morena Park mid afternoon and it cost like $8.00 to camp there so I continued on another hour and found a nice little camp spot. I tried to take it kind of easy today and I think I did so hopefully I won’t be too sore tomorrow. And it was hot! My watch got up to 91°.
Got buzzed by a rattler about 3 hours in this morning. I didn’t see it on it’s rock and when I was about a foot and a half away it started rattling and I jumped back in a hurry. Then it kindly moved itself off the trail so I could pass by. I was jumpy the rest of the day. Also saw some really fast lizards (and Dan should know I caught them all just like in Florida), a rabbit, a garter snake (at least it looked like one), and a lizard that looked like it was wearing armor.
Met 5 other hikers today. 2 were fromDenver, 2 from Minnesota (not hiking together), and one from Corvallis,Oregon. All seemed like nice folks. One of the guys fromMinnesota’s trial name was Cantaloupe. And the two from Denver have a dog with them. Also saw two Mexican guys along the trial with just water jugs. I figured they were headed north, just hope they had enough water because that was all they had. Well the mosquitoes are telling me to get in my tent.
Not as eventful of a day as yesterday. Only saw one other hiker. I passed her on the side of the trail about one mile from where I camped. She was sleeping so of course I didn’t get to talk to her.
It was hot again today although a few clouds probably kept it cooler than it was yesterday. I rested for what I thought was the hottest part of the day in the shad of what the guide books calls Jeffery-Pine (look like Ponderosa to me.)
Stopped at Burnt Rancheria Campground for some man n cheese and water. Lucky for me there was a break in the pipes, but there was still water left in the pipes. I was planning on getting water at Cibbetts Flat Campground, but I misinterpreted the guide book and missed the place altogether.
I’m about 3 miles from Mt.Lagunacampground camped in a little grassy area with some burnt trees. I think I hiked about 22 miles today.
It was very windy last night, today and right now. Didn’t sleep a lot last night because of it (it kept blowing in my sleeping bag and making me cold). Walked into the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park today. It was real pretty looking down on it from 5200 feet, but hiking around in it’s blazing hot canyons and valleys is hard work. Seemed like there was a lot of ascending and descending today my feet are very tired.
Met two other hikers today. One from Seattle who I hiked with for a little while but before we started the steep drop to chariot canyon one of his toenails fell of and he stayed behind to repair it. The other guys is fromEnglandand I met him while making a little detour to get some water near the end of the day. The guy from Seattleis very friendly and in ’98 actually hiked 1100 miles of the PCT including from Campo to Kennedy meadows.
I figure I hiked about 25 miles today. Tomorrow I have a very long waterless stretch (that’s why I made my detour this evening) that I haven’t quite figured out what to do with yet. I may have to make another water detour, which I really don’t like doing.
Got buzzed by another rattler today. This one was about 5 feet away. Scared me, but I was just glad this one was out of striking distance.
Spent the day hiking with Daryl (the guy fromEngland). Nice guy with an accent I would consider very English. I misspoke yesterday when I said I went into Anza-Borrengo park – only today did I actually walk in the park. Yesterday I only looked into it. Today we walked up into the San Felipe Hills. A very barren place with lots of cactus and sand which didn’t result in me taking very many pictures. I was planning on having to go all of the hills without any water stops, but right where we are camped a “trail angel” left about 20 gallons. So no worries the rest of the way to Warner Springs.
Hiked about 23 miles today. I don’t want to get to Warner Springs until Friday so tomorrow may be a short day. The reason for that is that Lee and Nichole may be able to come see me that day and then I could stay at their friends ranch with them that night. We’ll see if that works out.
I’m not a huge fan of the desert, but I do love the places where a spring or a creek pops up and there is all of a sudden a nice patch of green land amidst miles of barren land. I guess I just gave a very wordy explanation of an oasis, but oh well.
Daryl has a friend back in Englandwho is a “triple crowner” and also attempted to hike all there trails in one year a few years back. He tried to do each one nonstop (no section hiking) and he wasn’t able to do it. Wonder how far he made it?
Set off this morning with Daryl. We climbed a little bit and then made our descent down to Barrel Springs which had no water. A little ways further down the path we ran into a guy about my age or a little older from Seattle. His name was Joe and he’s been on the trail 10 days now already and he said his goal was to be the last thru-hiker to Kennedy Meadows. He joined us and by 12:30 we were at Canada Verde where I wanted to camp for the night. Joe and Daryl continued on to Warner Springs.
I scouted around the stream for the best camp spot and took a nap under the shade of one of the many huge oak trees that are here. After a while I decided to walk to Warner Springs without my gear and call Lee to see if they were still coming the next day. They’re still coming and I’m going to meet them in town tomorrow.
Back at my campsite I was having dinner and all of a sudden a skunk came walking through and sniffed all my food and my pack and then walked on like I wasn’t even there. It was hunting frogs and doing pretty well because I saw it catch and eat two of them. It still didn’t even pay attention to me after I followed it to take a picture. My feet were getting pretty tired today. I think from all the downhill so a day of rest should do them good.
Got into Warner Springsabout 8 o’clock (on the way saw another skunk) or so and went to call Dad. Told him I was doing well and made plans for the new pack. Then I went and got my package at the post office and walked about 2 miles to Lee and Nichole’s friends ranch style vacation house. I hung out and slept on the patio till the Curtis’s and their dog got there. It was quite the place. It was very big with lots of cool stuff inside. We had a nice dinner and just a good time. Nichole kept telling me I needed to stay longer so I could meet her friend’s pretty blond-haired daughter. I kind of wish I could of stayed longer too. But gotta hit the trail tomorrow.
Said goodbye to Lee at 7:15 at the Warner Springs bridge right by the school and set off on my way. I walked past lots of cows and eventually started climbing into those deserty mountains. Had my first look at the might San Jocinto Mountains and I’m excited to get up there.
First I met a southbound section hiker from Wyoming. We talked a little and then I kept climbing. I had a long waterless stretch today (appx 20 miles) and I really wanted to make it to Tule Spring which was 28 miles from Warner. Next I met a guy from Tennessee named tom, and his dog Bluegrass. He was a really down to earth guy who was really a pleasure to talk to. His dog is only going to hike another 8 days with him before going to stay with someone else. This is good because Bluegrass looked very tired and hot and it was only 10 in the morning. Tom also hike the Appalachian trail back in 1999.
I kept on hiking and got some much appreciated water from a huge private water tank. It was even cold. I eventually made it to Tule Spring around 7, had my dinner, and am now camped just about ½ a mile from that spot. And boy am I tired!
First off this morning I cut off two lengths of my Z-rest sleeping pad to make additional insoles for my shoes. They actually worked pretty well in the morning and still provide some good cushion even though they are pretty well flattened down.
Went over Bucksnort Mountain today and also across pine-to-palms hi-way 74, which of course, leads to Palm Springs. I could of have had lunch at a café a mile down the hi-way, but I figured my crackers and candy bars would suffice.
After I crossed the hi-way I started off up into the San Jacinto Mts. I met a couple day hikers. Two ladies said they met Daryl about 10 miles up the trail. I don’t think I’ll be able to catch him before he turns to go Idylwild especially because he hikes pretty fast in the morning.
Right now I’m camped at around 6300 feet next to Lions Peak. Very pretty spot although I’m a little closer to the trail than I’d like to be. I covered about 24 miles today. I think I was still tired from yesterday. Hopefully a good nites sleep will fix that.
This morning was pretty chilly as I continued in the San Jacinto Mountains and by about 1 the trees were starting to freeze and the wind was howling. Some of the pine needles I saw had a quarter inch of ice on them. And I don’t ever think I’ve been in such strong wind. At some of the ridges between high peaks clouds were flying over me and in some cases through me at an astounding speed.
All told I climbed over 6000 feet today so I don’t think I pumped out much more than 20 miles, but I still put in a good days work. I also didn’t even drink 2 liters of water on the account of it being so cold. My water bottles were also starting to freeze at 3 o’clock. I’m pretty close to a stream the book calls “reliable”. It really must have been a dry year because it’s just barely trickling.
It snowed last night. There was probably an inch or so on the ground when I woke up. I wore just about all my clothes and used the silk liner for my sleeping bag and was maybe a little cold, but not too bad. I got kind of a late start because I was reluctant to get out of my sleeping (my watch said it was 20°). I had a 7000 foot descent so the hiking was not that difficult. When I got down to Snow Creek Villageand looked up at San Jacinto Mountain I realized how cool looking it is. I wish I had more pictures left in my camera.
I hiked about 27 miles today and am now at the “Pink Hotel”, which is a guys little cabin he lets hikers stay in. A guy named David, from Seattle, is also here. He was about an hour or two in front of me the whole day. He is sort of a different kind of guy and I find him rather depressing. Not the kind of person I want to spend much time with. I will, however, have a nice little couch to sleep on and I will be protected from the wind because it is really blowing outside. Also took my first wrong turn of the trip. It wasn’t that bad though, only cost me about a mile.
Set foot in the San Bernandeno Mountains today. First I passed all the energy making windmills. Very large and impressive. Did not have a good afternoon. I got all turned around in a canyon and it took me about an hour to right myself. That and the fact that I wasn’t in a very good mood did not lead to a good time.
After some dinner I grabbed a walking stick, which actually made my back pain go down quite a lot, the day got much better. I reckon (for Tennessee Tom) that I did 26 miles and actually got within 2 miles of where I wanted to be. Although I did have to put in some flashlight hiking. I crossed the Mission Creek 26 times today and also did some really neat hiking along very bare mountains and down in their canyons. I am camped up at 7200 feet.
I started up high and stayed up high for all of today, which was nice. I passed the “Predators in Action” park today and saw a lion, grizzly, lynx and a white Siberian tiger. Unfortunately, my camera was out of film once again.
I also ran into an older guy named Joe who is hiking the PCT, but only one day at a time and by that I mean his wife drops him off for a days worth of hiking and then picks him up at the end of the day. He suggested that if I wanted to hitch-hike into Big Bear City that I do it on Hwy 18 instead of Van Dusen Canyon Road. Hwy 18 is also 9 miles closer so that and the fact that my stomach is not feeling well are going to make me change my plans a bit. So I quit hiking in the late afternoon after 22 miles, but should be in Big Bear by 10 or 11 tomorrow morning (providing someone picks me up on Hwy 18 like Joe said they would). I definitely like the San Jacinto Mountainsa lot better than the San Bernandenos. There are roads everywhere around here and not rock cliffs or jagged peaks and stuff like that. This changing of plans will mean that I’ll have 9 more miles on my next section, but that shouldn’t really be any big deal.
It took about 3 hours of relatively flat hiking to get to Hwy 18 where I hitch-hiked into Big Bear City. I hid my walking stick next to the road where I can hopefully come back and get it if no one else finds it first. A guy names Paul, from South Korea, picked me up and after I told him what I was doing he offered to have me stay the night at his house. I said sure and am now at his place in Lucerne Valley. I helped him get some lumber (blocks of firewood really) from Big Bear and then place them in this giant hole he dug in his backyard. This is what he calls his underground church. It hasn’t been used yet but he says hopefully this weekend will be the first. So on my resume I can put that I have built underground churches and if that doesn’t get me a job I don’t know what will. He has a wife and 3 kids and they are all very nice. His oldest son who is 19 went to Boarding School in British Columbia, near Vancouver. They are all at church right now, which I politely declined to go to, and I am packing up my stuff to start hiking tomorrow morning. Also got my first good look at myself in a mirror since Warner Springstoday. With my very scraggly attempt at a beard and red face I am a scary sight.
Paul Jeon dropped me off at my starting spot on Hwy 18 at 6:30 this morning. It’s a good thing I got there when I did because his car seemed like it was on it’s last legs. I got their address and plan on sending them a postcard from Tehachapi. I got to Van Dusen Canyon Roadby 10 am (which was the other spot I could of walked to Big Bear City from.) I saw a deer hopping up a sandy hill, the tiniest baby rattler, and a dead bat lying on the trail today.
I met so many people today. The trail around Big Bear Lake was packed. I probably saw about 20 regular (for lack of a better word) hikers; a group of 3 out for the day and a group of 8 out for the weekend seemed really interested in what I am doing and were fun to talk to. I also met 2 girls from Oregon and Montana (Jackie and Rebecca), and a guy named CK from Wisconsinwho are thru-hikers. Also met a lady name Christine who is an ultra-marathoner and is section hiking. She hikes very fast, doesn’t rest, doesn’t cook and hikes 30-40 mile days. Crazy! She has also run races where she has to run for 44 hours straight. I hiked with her for a little while until I decided I needed a rest. I also ran into Joe again, he is the one who told me to hitch-hike on Hwy 18. I told him his idea worked quite well.
I had my dinner at a nice little spot along the HolcombRiverand also soaked my feet which felt really good. I hike 28 miles today, which I figure is pretty good since I talked for so much of it. This is the pace I’ll need to keep up if I want to get to the Saufley’s house by this Friday which is the plan. I camped right close to the HolcombRiver with 6 other hikers. Not really my style, but it’s a change and we even have a fire.
Got to Deep Creek fairly early this morning and walked next to it for about 20 miles. I’d have to say that I was glad to see it go in favor of some new scenery even though there was water whenever I wanted.
Hiked with David from Seattle some today. He wasn’t depressing this time and seems like a pretty cool guy. He has quite the vocabulary. He’s actually stopping his hike at Mt. Whitney now which might be the reason he’s not down anymore. Stopped at the hot springs for a swim this afternoon. It felt so good. Nice place, but really crowded. I hiked 30 miles today (my first 30 miler), but I hiked kind of late and don’t have a very nice camp spot because of it.
My appetite came back with a vengeance today. I really haven’t been all that hungry since the start of the trip, but all that changed today. I think there is a store in a couple of miles where I might pick up some extra snacks. Met two other through hikers, Wildflower and Hermit George. Also met a couple who was hiking for a couple days from Hollywood. There’s some strange folks around Deep Creek, don’t know if I’ll be coming back in the near future.
I got to Silverwood Lake pretty early this morning and by 7 the place was abuzz with jet skis, boats, swimmers, and lots of campers. I actually had my breakfast/lunch with like 50 Asian people at a group camp site. I just blended right in. They were very entertaining to watch taking down their tents and packing their mini-vans. I took a little nap at noon in Horsetheif Canyon and then headed for Interstate 15 which has 6 lanes and is very busy. And right when I got there I spotted the golden arches and was on cloud 9. I ate for 45 minutes straight and then wished that I hadn’t eaten so fast or possibly so much because it felt like it all wanted to come right back up.
Hiked another 5 miles past the interstate and am now camped in a valley right before the San Gabriel Mountains. Should have a nice sunrise in the morning. I didn’t sleep well last night and a lack of energy compiled with the McDonalds incident didn’t result in a huge hiking day, but I didn’d do too bad. About 105 miles to Agua Dulce and my new pack, I’m very excited.
I slept better last night and my day went a lot smoother. I had a 4500 foot climb before lunch that put me up on Blue Ridge and then to Guffy Campground for water. I was actually out of water (the 1st time this has happened) so I was glad there was a little spring there. On the way up I met a 65 year old Texan hiking the trail in 1/3rds. He retired fairly early and now lives near San Miguel, Mexico. He’s hiking to Kennedy Meadows this year. The guidebook writes that John Muir said “the San Gabriels are more rigidly inaccessible than any other mountains I have tried to penetrate.” It is safe to say that that is the case no longer. Tons of roads (many paved), artificial lakes, campgrounds, and ski runs are everywhere. I hope what I see tomorrow (more of western half of the mts) is less developed and more wilderness.
I had a nice 1000 ft climb to end the day after I had dropped down to Angeles Crest Highway 2. It hink it’s supposed to be a pretty popular Boy Scout trail. I am camped at a spot that looks down on all the lowlanders. I got in a good 28 miles today and I think every drop of energy I had is gone.
Got to Mt Baden-Powell about an hour in this morning and had some nice views. Unfortunately, it was a little hazy to the North. Met a husband and wife from Pennsylvania who are thru hiking. Also met 15 older guys who were very interested in what I am doing and had many questions. It was bug city in Cooper (a lots and lots of ladybugs) and it was a real relief to get out of there. A couple of trail angels left some goodies at spots along Angeles Crest Hiway 2 and I snagged 2 Mt. Dews, 2 beers (which I am quite enjoying right now), 3 bananas and 2 fruit cups. But I even left a couple things for other hikers because I’m such a nice guy. For someone very low on food this was like finding a pot of gold. I think I’m slowly learning the lesson that if I overdo it one day (like yesterday) that the next day is very tough and I feel energy-depleted very early in the morning. Hiked 27 miles today and am ready for a good nites sleep.
Set off today down the west side of the San Gabriel Mts. Had some nice views but no animals and then I sat down to have some mac n cheese at 10:30 at Mill Creek Ranger Station. Right then a middle-aged gay Latino man in a sports car hit on me. Very awkward and I don’t have much more to say about that.
Had a rattler almost fall on my foot which was kind of intense and saw what I think was a raccoon or maybe a possum, but I only saw its tail. Hiked 31 miles today and have 10 more to get to Agua Dulce. Going to leave as early as possible because I have next to no food left. Can’t wait to get there for some “FSB” (I just coined this abbreviation, it stands for food, shower, bed in that order). I’m camped at the North Fork Ranger Station. A guy named Snow Leopard is also here. Nice guy, very talkative especially about hiking. He’s pretty heavy but puts in 25 mile days. I’m impressed.
Set off from the Ranger Station pretty early this morning with Snow Leopard close behind. It was a pretty easy descent down to Soledad Canyon Road to where I had heard there was a restaurant and there was. I had a pretty big and decent breakfast. Then set off for the last 10 miles to Agua Dulce and had a very difficult time. I think the lack of food combined with probably a little too long of a section did me in. If I was to this section again, I think I might resupply at Wrightwood and cut the trip in half. But it wasn’t too bad, I’m ready to set off in the morning.
I’m at the Saufley’s in Agua Dulce right now for some R and R. Quite the place here: tons of hikers and the Saufley’s (Jeff and Donna) are awfully nice. Kind of a unique crowd here to say the least. Stoner hippy vegetarians is what I’d call them. Got the new pack today. Very glad, it was starting to feel like I had 2 ropes on my back instead of shoulder straps. It sure is light and hopefully will work well. Think I’m going to have some Mexican food tonight and also pick up some more snack for my journey to Tehachapi. A night’s sleep on a soft mattress should do me good.
Left the Saufley’s a 9 this morning. I had a rough night. The Mexican food must have been bad because at 3:30 in the morning I threw up many times. I think I got it all out of my system because I did feel better when I woke up. It wasn’t the most exciting walk today. Lots of sand and chaparral. I did 23 miles. Would have liked to do more so I wasn’t camped so close to the highway, but my feet didn’t think that was a good idea. Maybe the cars will put me to sleep.
The new pack worked well, sure is a lot roomier than the last one. I had my East Kootenay famous potatoes and tuna for dinner (I know this is brother Dan’s favorite camp meal). It actually was pretty good, only thing is it uses a lot of fuel. I should have plenty of food until Tehachapi so being hungry will not be a problem this section like it was last.
Again, not the most exciting hiking here on the SW corner of the Mojave Desert. Did see a couple pretty big deer. I hiked over Sawmill and Liebre Mts today. Well, I guess, I hiked over half of Liebre Mt. I’m camped right on top of it. Saw lots of day hikers. I hear that Sawmill Mt and campground are pretty popular. I picked out a new hiking stick as I forgot my most favorite one ever somewhere near Agua Dulce. I hope Cantaloupe doesn’t pick it up. I plan on doing some night hiking probably tomorrow. I figure I might as well try it. The hiking is supposed to be really straight along the LA Aqueduct so it shouldn’t be too tough to find my way in the dark. I think my hiking enjoyment is at it’s highest when I do from 25-27 miles a day. I’ll try and stick to this until I get really “trail hardened” which I figure might be sometime after the Sierra Nevadas.
Climbed down Liebre Mt this morning and then into the Tejon Ranch area. Not much naturally flowing water around here. I’ve only seen 1 spring in this section and it was only dripping. But trail angels have been hard at work and seem to have water at least every 12 miles. Came to hwy 138 about 11 and a sign that said go to this house. When dad did this trip it was Jack Fair’s place. He has since died and now it is owned by a rich guy named Richard. He says he bought the place to get away, but now damned hikers keep showing up every 15 minutes. Nevertheless, he is very nice to hikers and gave me lots to eat and a place to take a siesta. Even offered me a steak for dinner, but I had to keep moving. Hiked along the LA Aqueduct till 5 and now I’m camped out in the shade. Plan on resting till around 10 then doing some night walking until at least I’m into the Tehachapi mts. Think I hiked 22 miles today so far and am looking forward to getting to town tomorrow for some “FSB”.
Got up around 1am for my night hike (I had a tough time falling asleep and I wanted to have a little sleep before I left) and it really wasn’t that great. Navigation is difficult and I was so tired that it just wasn’t fun. So I stopped at 4 slept an hour and a half then started the 24 miles to Tehachapi. Went into the Tehachapi Mts which are covered with dirt bike trails (I would consider the PCT one of these trails) and also passed many huge windmills. Met one other thru hiker, a guy from Oregon who was going unsupported from Agua Dulce to Kennedy meadows which is a long ways and he was carrying a very full and heavy looking pack. A guy who works for NASA picked me up on Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road and took me into town. So I’m here at the Santa Fe Motel resting up, icing my feet, doing some preventative icing on my knees, and eating all I can. I’m also going to stay here tomorrow too. The original plan was that (questionable) Spike-N-Dig Co-MVP Nate Swinton was going to visit me here, but he mentioned something about a Paperboys concert so he’s not going to be able to make it.
I’ve just been hanging out in Tehachapi today. Saw a movie, went to the post office, and rested. I did manage to find a ride to the trailhead tomorrow so I won’t have to hitch which is nice. It should take 6 days to get to Kennedy Meadows and then I’ll start climbing into the Sierras.
It was hot as hades today! Likely the hottest day I’ve had so far. I think only crazy folk hike up mts in 106° heat which is what my watch said it was. It was so hot the centers of my Oreos melted and I had oreo soup. George dropped me off at the trailhead at 9 this morning and I got in 23 miles right to Golden Oak Spring. Had good energy so I think the rest day did me some good. Also changed to some New Balance shoes today. My Montrails wore out.
Saw a dead doe five feet off the trail covered in sand and bushes. Wonder what happened there. Ran into lots of thru-hikers, but they were all ones I had seen before. Walked by lots of Windmills. Some of the bigger ones can power 6 houses. George said that Tehachapi has the longest “green-energy” producing facility in the world. Good for them.
It was hot again today, but not as bad as yesterday. And all the other hikers I talk to say its supposed to cool down the next couple days. Didn’t get a real early start like I was hoping for, but I pushed a little and got 27 miles in. The early evening hike was really nice. I was in a Jeffery Pine forest with lots of big boulders and it was very flat hiking. I’m camped close to the top of one at the peaks of the Piute Mts. At about 6500 feet. Didn’t set up the bivy so I hope the bugs and wind leave me alone.
Had a nice early morning descent to Kelso Road where trail angels had left some water. Next I hiked in the high desert where nothing but the Joshua trees grows more than a foot off the ground and the reason for that is the wind is insane. It was throwing me around like I was a ragdoll all afternoon and evening while I was trying to hike.
I hiked fairly hard in the morning and am now camped around 3 miles from McIver’s Spring. Walked the last 2 hours with Sawbuck and Grungy. We kept on hiking and hiking looking for the perfect camp site so I ended up doing 31 miles which is more than I wanted to do, but oh well. It’s very windy here and I’m thankful I have my bivy. I’ve figured out that older guys like these two (not including dad, at least not yet) hike like logging trucks. Slow as can be uphill but they move right along on the downhills and flats. Plus they have some good stories so they are good to hike with.
Sawbuck left before me and Grungy after, as I made my way to Walker Pass. Wanted to hitch 6 miles west to a café on Highway 178, but found out that it’s closed Sundays. Bummer. Sawbuck was attempting to hitch into Onyx (15 miles away and too far for me) to a little store as I climbed away from the highway. Saw some real mountains and had some pretty scenery for a change once I made it up near 6,000 feet. Owens Peak is very beautiful. Met an Eric from Portland, who is headed to Canada, and both of us are camped right by Spanish Needle spring. No wind tonight, which is nice after two straight days of it. I hiked 25 miles, but it was one of those days where it felt like I walked a lot further than I actually did, but I knew it would be that way after overdoing it yesterday. Almost forgot that I met a really nice lady who gave Sawbuck and me a bunch of cherries, fresh from her garden, at the Walkers Pass Campground.
Met two groups of two thru-hikers this morning, but they were just waking up so we didn’t talk much. I’ll probably see them at Kennedy Meadows. Hiked along the sides of mountains this morning and afternoon and then came to a very large burned area. A sign said the Manter Fire burned over 75,000 acres in the summer of 2000 and about 12 miles of trail. Bear Mountain was part of this area and not a single live tree remained, but it was pretty in its own way with lots of little purple and yellow flowers and bright green bushes. Bear Mountain was also where I got my first glimpse of the Sierras and what is to come. I’m camped close to the South Fork Kern River, which is flowing strong and surrounded by lot of noisy birds. It’s about six more miles to Kennedy Meadows General Store so I should be there pretty early tomorrow- just hopefully not before they open. Then I’ll probably rest up at the local campground for the rest of the day and then set off the following morning.
Got to Kennedy Meadows Store at 8:30 this morning. I was able to get a shower before they ran out of water. Too many dirty hikers came in this morning. I met lots and lots of people and even a couple pretty girls, which is saying something considering they’ve been in the woods for a week. I’m changing my plans slightly here. I decided not to stay at Kennedy Meadows and instead I’m about 10 miles down the trail. Too many people were there and it was a big social event and that’s not what I’m hiking the trail for. I’m going to stop at Independence, which is 70 miles down trail and a 10 mile hitch. This is unplanned but will cut a 9 day trip almost in 1/2 and make it so I don’t have to carry so much weight through these mountains.
My food box didn’t arrive so I just resupplied from the small store here. This does mean I don’t have a guide book for this section or any kind of map, but I figure it will just make for all that more of an adventure, which is one of the reasons I am hiking the trail. I’m probably carrying enough food for about three people, but I do plan on eating it all. Some people tried to convince me to stay at the Kennedy Meadows for at least a day to rest up for the mountains. Unfortunately, these people were not the pretty girls and after 3100 calories, a good chunk of rest, and a shower I was ready to go. As soon as I got into the South Sierra Wilderness everything seemed to get much quieter and the scenery definitely changed for the better. The only bad thing about today was some mean thing that bit me twice on the shoulder and gave me big, itchy, red marks. I’m camped at 8100 feet above a huge prairie-like area and the mosquitoes are really starting to pick up.
It’s been one month on the trail so I suppose I’m about a ¼ of the way there. It was a very nice morning hike and lots of climbing got me up to a little over 10,000 feet at a saddle beneath Olancha Peak. I had nice views of distant partially snow-covered peaks from this point. I had my longest empty water bottle experience, but I just found a nice spring a little ways off the trail right before I set up for the night. I came across the first patch of snow, but no ice axe was needed here. My best guess says I came 25 or 26 miles since this morning, but I can’t know for sure. I think I’ll make it to the trail which leads to Independence tomorrow (which is 9 miles of off-the-PCT hiking) but not all the way to the town. I guess that depends on when the Mt. Whitney climb is. Lots of variables could alter my plans. I’m camped at 9,500 feet and have just finished stuffing myself. I hope to leave early tomorrow as that is by far when the best hiking of the day is; crisp air, no mosquitoes or heat, birds chirping, and fresh legs make for some great walking.
I was way too tired to write last night so this is coming a day late- don’t like doing things this way because I forget stuff too easily. I met Ivan from Texas at 9 am and hiked with him for awhile. We passed almost 15 other thru-hikers in a very short amount of time. One of these thru-hikers was Thor (his real name) and I found out Independence is actually 25 miles further than I thought. So for the sake of not wanting to run out of food I decided to hike a little faster. So after 32 total miles I was on top of Mt Whitney, which is a 15 mile detour off the PCT. There is much that can be said for being almost 2.5 miles above sea level, but the mountain itself is not that impressive. For the last 2,000 vertical feet I was a total zombie and it was easily my hardest day of hiking to date. Both Ivan and I camped in a little shelter up on top and I slept horribly. I think the altitude got to me, but I’m very glad I climbed the contiguous US’s highest peak and the first half of the trail was gorgeous.
Left Mt Whitney very early and had a nice and easy 7.5 mile descent. Then I set off for Forrester Pass. Truth be told, I got a little lost right before the pass. I was walking through snow and I followed the wrong footprints. After I righted myself I ran into Fire Marshall and the Flying Dutchman. I let them lead the way down the north side of the pass, which was a very good deal for me because they packed down the mushy snow and I avoided the spots where they fell in up to their waists. Probably hiked 25 miles today which is good considering it was very slow going in some parts and I almost killed myself yesterday. Surprisingly, I actually felt pretty good today. Was I in the zone? The hiking zone, even? I’d have to say it was the best day of PCT so far. Messing around in the snow was fun and even got some glicading in. Saw 6 deer, had great views all around, and there’s crystal clear water running everywhere. Had some tricky creek fords, which were also kind of fun. I think I need some FSB in Independence though, before I carry on in the Sierras.
Headed for Independence today. It was an easy descent for 5 miles down to 10,000 feet. Coming from up at 13,200 feet at Forrester Pass it was nice to be able to breathe nice and easy again. Then I climbed up to Kearsarge Pass (12,000 feet or so) and then headed down to Onion Valley. Saw lots and lots of day and weekend hikers on the way down. Got lucky and right when I got to the road (campground parking lot) an older guy and his son gave me a ride in the back of their already super-full pickup. I ended up sitting on top of a milk crate and what looked like a backyard volleyball standard, but it was a great ride relaxing and looking up at the awesome Sierras. So now I’m here at the Independence Courthouse Motel getting some FSB. Had a good dinner at a café and did some resupplying. Only problem here is that every phone in Independence is not working- even cell phones. Kind of a problem because I need some info from home. Hope it all gets sorted out before I hit the trail tomorrow.
As soon as I woke up I tested the phones and to my delight they were working. If they had’t been I would have been in trouble because I was out of cash and my Visa couldn’t go through and I needed to buy food and supplies. I’ve had good luck hitchhiking and today an older couple picked me up in their comfy Cadillac after I had only been waiting for 10 minutes. I was excited to get hiking again, but it was tough getting out of the back of that air-conditioned car. I got back on to actual PCT tread (which for now is the John Muir Trail) at 3 PM and then headed up over Glen’s Pass. It was slow going because there is still a lot of snow here. I’m sure I went through more today than I did at Forrester Pass. But it’s fun sliding around in the snow and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Next I walked down around lot and lots of lakes, both big and small, accompanied by the local marmots. Now I’m camped above another lake. Met a couple from Grey Eagle, California who are hiking the trail in 5, one-month sections. They were nice people and they said the last time they tried to hike the Sierras there was so much snow it was impossible. When I called home Dad gave me the name of lots of landmarks that I will be passing and I also found a good little map of the second half of this section. So those two things combined should help me from getting too terribly lost. Couldn’t find any propane-butane fuel so there will be no cooking this section, but that’s okay because I’m loaded with snacks.
Sometime last night, probably right after crossing Glen Pass, I stepped off the Muir Trail and started following some other trail. I was walking on that one this morning when I lost it and couldn’t pick it up again. I wandered around for awhile, backtracked, but still couldn’t find it. I knew the trail went generally North-Northwest so I headed in that direction hoping to stumble across it. After getting very frustrated I was just about ready to backtrack all the way to Glen Pass when I heard a dog bark and saw two guys with guns. They told me that I was not on the Muir Trail at all, but in a place with no trails. They had a map and knew the area very well and turns out I was ½ mile off the Muir Trail, to the West, separated by some fairly steep and big mountains. So I cross-countried over these mountains and found the trail by 10 am. These two guys were admittedly poaching with the help of their dogs. For what I’m not exactly sure, but I’d guess bear. On that subject I saw my first signs of a bear near a lake while I was headed over that mountain. It was quite the morning and I’m very thankful to be on the trail again. I crossed Woods Creek next, which looked like a huge waterslide since it ran over slick rock in many parts. Then I headed up Pinchot Pass and met a 65 year old thru-hiker, named Harold. He was a great guy and I hope he makes it all the way. I had to cross South Fork Kings River this evening and it was really flowing and I never knew so many mosquitoes could exist in one place. First time I had to pull out the bug juice and the bug hat. The deet works wonders, but the only problem is it seems to sweat off easily. Now I’m camped up at 11,300 feet about a mile from Mather Pass. It was not the greatest hiking day ever, but I am closer to Canada that I was yesterday, so it’s all good.
I had a short climb up to Mather Pass and then started a long descent down to 8,500 feet. I’m getting pretty anxious to see some animals, but still nothing. I felt dead tired today so I took a nap at 2 and then started the climb up to Muir Pass, which was 6.5 miles away. It took 5 hours and some snowshoes would have come in handy to get through all that mush. There was a cool little hut on top of the pass, but someone was already staying there and I wanted to get a little further. I did about 23 miles and now I’m camped alongside a partially frozen lake at 11,600 feet.
I left my completely soaked shoes outside my bivy last night by mistake so they were frozen solid when I woke up. It was half a battle getting them onto my feet, let alone tying the frozen laces. I finally got out of the snow at about 9 and then went down in Evolution Valley. A pretty place with hordes of mosquitoes (actually shared my bug juice with a group of day hikers who looked like they could really use some.) When I first saw Evolution Creek I couldn’t believe I had to for it, as it was at least 50 feet wide. But it wasn’t that deep, about to my waist, and it was an okay crossing. Now I’m almost up to Seldon Pass and am camped between the two Sally Keyes Lakes. I heard from another PCT hiker that the VVR ferry comes at 9 and 4 everyday. If this is the case, I should be able to catch the 4 o’clock as I’m about 16 miles away. I really do feel like I need some rest- these snow-covered passes have really sapped by energy.
Climbed over Seldon Pass before 7 this morning and then besides one small climb had a generally downward path to the Vermillion Valley ferry landing. Seldon Pass was almost totally free of snow, which I liked. I crossed Bear Creek and decided to do it barefoot, which I never do, but in the process I came oh so close to losing one of my shoes downstream. I was extremely relieved when it got caught on a rock.
The ferry took about 25 minutes to get to the other side of the lake and the resort. I love it here. The people are so helpful and it’s so far from anything else that it just makes it wonderful. They have a free large tent for the hikers to stay in and showers and a restaurant. I’m tempted to stay another whole day, but I do want to keep moving. I think after a big breakfast I’ll take the 9 am ferry back to the trail.
Slept well on a soft mattress and had tasty biscuits and gravy before hopping on the ferry. By a quarter to ten I was hiking and the clouds were starting to roll in- they’ve been coming in earlier and earlier for the last four days. No rain today and hopefully it will stay that way, but people at VVR were saying they thought we’d get some by the end of the weekend. At least the sun was hidden and the hiking was nice and cool. Even the mosquitoes seemed to stay away today. Climbed over Silver Pass at about 11,000 feet, then dropped down (by the way of glicading) into a pretty meadow called Tully Hole. I saw a great waterfall and passed four large lakes after that. I have fuel now so I can cook and also a guidebook to make navigating a bit easier. Right now I’m camped just past Duck Creek and I have a great view of the Silver Divide Mountains, which still have a lot of snow their North side.
Descended along Upper Crater Ridge and into Ansel Adams Wilderness and out of the John Muir Wilderness. At about 11 I came to an old stagecoach road that led an 1/8 of a mile into Red’s Meadow Resort, which had a store and a café. I couldn’t pass this up and met a PCT hiker named “T,” who a had been introduced to, but getting to talk to much at VVR. He’s a cool guy who hikes hard in the mornings and kind of relaxes the rest of the day. He quit his job as head sales-forecaster for Gillette to come hike the PCT. After lunch I took a couple more side trips to see Rainbow Falls and the Devil’s Postpile. Then there was a split in the trail where one can take the JMT or the PCT for about 13 miles because they both end up in the same spot- I took the JMT because I heard Agnew Meadows, on the PCT section, was a mosquito-infested swamp. I walked about 20 miles, which is about right since I don’t want to get to Tuolumne Meadows Post Office until Monday morning when it opens. Right now I’m camped along Shadow Creek, about ½ mile NW of very beautiful Shadow Lake.
Passed by many small lakes this morning on my way to Thousand Island Pass (which wasn’t much of a pass at all) and Donahue Pass, at a little over 11,000 feet. Just over Donahue I met a guy named, Atul, who was attempting to get back to Tuolumne Meadows, but headed the wrong way. So I hiked with him for awhile back to his campsite and then since he told me the Tuolumne Post Office was in a store open until 8 pm I decided to go into town instead of wait until Monday. I had a very flat stretch of trail along the Lyell Fork River until I came to Tuolumne Lodge where I snuck in a shower before continuing on to the store. My package hadn’t arrived yet and the restaurant I was going to dine in closed just before I got there. So I should have hiked a shorter day and stayed out in the woods. You win some and you lose some, I guess. The only campground in this part of Yosemite is full so now I’m camped illegally near Lambert Dome, which is a huge, smooth chunk of granite almost reaching 9,500 feet. There are three deer, including a buck, eating grass right outside my tent. I hiked 25 miles fairly quickly today and I’m exhausted and will probably sleep in a little bit tomorrow. I just scared off the deer.
I slept in till 9 this morning when the campers started coming out for their walks. I watched a couple rappellers come down Lembert Dome and then went to the Post Office. They had my resupply box and apparently had it the nite before — the guy who was trying to find it just didn’t know where to look. So I packed up my pack and ate at the restaurant while I watched all the tourists come and go and ask for directions. I hit the trail a little before 1:30 and got 10 miles in. The bugs are insane. I cooked near a little stream, but couldn’t eat there without getting a mouthful of mosquitoes. I tried to hike out of them without success so I set up my bivy just to eat in. After I cleaned up I just carried my tent, still trying to get out of the bugs, but to no avail. Now I’m camped below a really cool cliff with hundreds of the bloodsuckers trying to get through the netting of my bivy. I saw some really pretty parts of Yosemite today, but can’t help but feel I am missing the best parts like El Capitan and Half Dome. I wish the trail came up through the south of the park instead of in through the east. I would definitely trade Donahue Pass for El Capitan and Half Dome. Guess this means I’ll just have to come back another time.
Lots of climbing and falling today. First I went up to Miller Lake and then dropped down into Matterhorn Canyon. Then climbed up to Benson Pass and dropped down to Smedberg Lake. On the way to the lake I came to one of my favorite spots so far. It was a little, very green, marshy area with streams everywhere. it was also surrounded on three sides by rock walls and had lots of branching waterfalls flowing down to it. Next I took a little side route to see Benson Lake, which the guide book calls the “Benson Rivera.” It was nice with sandy beach areas, but nothing spectacular. And finally I made the 1,500 ft climb up to Seavey Pass where I made dinner. The wind was blowing up there so the bugs weren’t too bad. Now I’m camped above Kerrick Canyon Creek which by the sound of it is running quite strong. Speaking of creeks, I crossed Spiller Creek about 12 or so and thought my toes were going to fall off — that was some cold water, but it sure did taste good. Covered 25 miles today.
Went down into Kerrick Canyon this morning and actually fell in the first stream I crossed, but only up to my knees. Next, I made a steep climb up to Macomb Ridge Pass and then dropped down to Wilmer Lake. By that time I was already very tired from all the up and down. I took a nap on a rock that stuck way out into Falls Creek and when I woke up I felt good to go. In a short while I saw Brent, who I had met at Vermillion and the only other person I have seen out here since Glen Aulen High Sierra Camp, which is just 6 miles outside Tuolumne. We hiked together till I stopped to make dinner. This is
his third and final section of the PCT and he takes lots of pictures and is hoping to have them published some day. After my nap the trial leveled out a lot. It still went up and down but the grade was slighter. This was a welcome change and I do hope it continues. I really hope the hiker box at Echo Lake Resort has some socks in it. Or that possibly there is a little store there as 3 of my 4 pairs have big holes in them and 1 of the pairs only has one day of life left at best. I traveled 24 miles today and am camped about a half mile past a washed out footbridge.
It was a very scenic walk today. First was a climb up to the Sierra Crest. It was a very gentle climb at first and then it got very steep (Mt. Fisher-like). From up there I could see all the mts of Yosemite that I had passed by in the previous days and many many additional mts of the Sierra. I had some good ridgetop walking before the trail came down to Highway 108 and Sonora Pass. There I luckily met a retired couple from Ashland, Oregon who shared their picnic table with me and also gave me 2 sodas and 2 sandwiches. So I was fueled up for another ten miles and now I’m camped in an amazing spot. It’s kind of on a ledge and I feel like one of those multi-day rock climbers camped out halfway up a cliff, although it’s not quite that extreme. I do have unblocked views of all the mts around me and it should be a great sunset. I put in a little over 27 miles and my legs are very tired. I did get to skip a little bit of trail — coming down the Sierra Crest there was a huge snow field connecting the trail above and the trail below. So I did some glissading and at times some butt-sliding down the snow field and even though I completely soaked my pants and shoes it was good fun. The couple who fed me lunch and another couple I met near the highway, who hiked about 3 miles today, both saw bears this afternoon (most likely the same one). I saw a rabbit.
When I woke up this morning I didn’t have the greatest desire to hike a big day, but I did manage to get in 24 so that’s not too bad. Right as I set off Brent came walking by so we hiked together till about noon when I sat down to cook a meal. Saw more great mountains and 3 mts that bore a great resemblance to pictures I have seen of the Three Sisters in Oregon. At about 5:00 I came to Highway 4 and Ebbetts Pass. It’s a very narrow, windy road and I stopped near here for dinner while I watched cars come racing around the turns. Hiked 3 miles further into Mokulumne Wilderness which is really nice and different. It’s a volcanic landscape and the first peak I walked by was unreal. It has so many points and little caves and square peaks to it that it would be great fun to climb on. Unfortunately, it is a long ways up and I am much too tired. Right now I’m camped in a big green pasture on some nice soft grass at about 8500 feet.
I had some better energy today and got in 28 miles so I’m now 14 miles from Echo Lake Resort, which is my next resupply (and rest) stop. The first 10 miles of the trail this morning were great and I saw some incredible volcanic rock. The shapes that it can form are really amazing. Met Brent about 6 miles from my camp and we kind of hiked together off and on for the whole day. We saw lots and lots of day and weekend hikers (some with bottle rockets) and Brent kind of snapped on one guy which was pretty funny- hunger can make people irritable. We got to Highway 88 and Carson Pass at around 5:30. I cooked there and filtered (the first time since before Kennedy Meadows) some water out of a pond close to the highway. It looked very green after I cleaned it — I really hope it is alright as I do not want to get sick right now. After dinner I walked about 2 miles further and I’m camped close to an old cabin that is still in pretty good shape right in the middle of a big, green meadow with streams running every which way.
It was a pretty uneventful walk into Echo Lake. I did get a nice look at Tahoe Lake and the toughest part of the hike was getting across very busy Highway 50. I got into Echo Lake about 11, got my box, and had a bite. There are no hotels or anything in Echo Lake and I really wanted a bed so I decided to go to South Lake Tahoe. In like 15 minutes a PCT section hiker and his girlfriend came up to me and offered to give me a ride anywhere I wanted. They also gave me lots of fresh fruit and lemonade. I have found such kindness on this trip and this was a prime example of it. So now thanks to Paul and Katrina I’m here in South Lake Tahoe at the Apex Inn. A nice, cheap place with lots of good eats nearby. There’s a thru-hiker of sorts in the room next to me — trial name is bug. I didn’t have the greatest energy this last section so I’m going to take a rest day here tomorrow and try and find a ride back to Echo Lake for Tuesday morning.
Hanging out in South Lake Tahoe today. I watched a lot of tv and laid in bed a lot. Mailed off some postcards and letters and stuffed myself at a Chinese buffet. I’m leaving for the trailhead tomorrow morning. I hope to be to the trail by 8 or so, but that all depends on how the hitchhike to Echo Lake goes.
I didn’t have real good luck hitching a ride and I arrived at the trailhead at 9. Walked past Upper and Lower Echo Lake and lots of vacation cabins. There were lots of hikers out as this is supposed to be one of the more popular roadless areas. I’m in the Desolation Wilderness — it’s apparently called that because of a lack of trees. I met a thru-hiker named Jenny today. She’s from Capetown, and like many other PCTers I have met, has hiked the Appalachian Trail. I’m very impressed by her because she is probably at least in her early 50s. When I started coming down from Dicks Pass I started feeling sick — that same kind of food poisoning sick that I felt in Agua Dulce and I’m pretty sure I know what it’s from. So I made camp early and am really hoping it will be gone by tomorrow. Don’t know exactly how far I went — I’d guess around 18. Had to do some cross-country around Susie and Heather Lakes. The trail seemed to disappear on me. It tends to do that sometimes. So that slowed me down as well.
I slept for 11 hours last night — which seems crazy to me. Still felt sick when I woke up, but it went away by late morning. The rest of the hike through Desolation Wilderness had lots of trees and limited views. I ran into Jenny around 8 (she is a very good hiker and puts in 20s on a regular basis) and hiked with her for awhile. After I got out of Desolation and back into non-roadless areas I started to be able to see Lake Tahoe pretty well. It’s huge and very blue and I will probably have views of it well into tomorrow. At the parking area before Barker Pass I met 22-year old Trevor from Kelowna. We hiked together off and on for the rest of the day and I think he is camped just a little ways behind me. For about the last 8 miles of the day I was hiking in the Squaw Valley ski area and passed under some of their chair lifts. I tried to hike hard (or at least harder) to make up a little bit for yesterday and ended up getting in 32 miles.
Last nite a mouse or some other varmint chewed up the back of one of my shoes. I wasn’t too impressed, but it’ll be time for new shoes once I get to Uncle Buzz’s anyway. Had a nice 1,000 ft climb up to Tinker Knob saddle right off the at this morning to wake me up. Then I had a really nice mile long ridge walk and then it was down to Bonner Pass. From there to I-80 was about a mile, but the trail turned it into 4. There were lots of day hikers out and I spent a lot of the day answering their questions about my PCT trek — which most of the time I rather enjoy. I stopped at a rest area off of I-80 where there were cars from all parts of the country, and took a little rest. The rest of the day was spent walking in tree cover with the occasional saddle or pass to see what is coming up and what has passed. Right now I’m camped fairly close to a mucky pond that I didn’t see until I set up. I’m sure it’s a mosquito magnet and there are hordes of them around my bivy. I put in 29 miles and I believe it’s about 24 to Sierra City where I’ll hopefully get a meal and a little extra food. Also stopped at a little Sierra Club ski hut and scored a little food which was nice.
Slept in a bit too long this morning so I tried to cover ground quickly to Sierra City. I ended up getting there at a little after 4, The trail kind of went up 500 ft then slowly down 1000 ft most of the day. I passed the Jackson Meadow reservoir, but aside from that I don’t remember a lot of what I saw. Had a good meal and picked up some groceries. I mostly got fruit and I’m going to pack it and see how that goes. I’ve been craving fruit for the last 4 days. I met a neat thru-hiker named Weekender in Sierra City. I think he’s headed out tomorrow morning so I should run into him later. I got back on the trail at 7:30 and hiked an hour. I’m now camped on top of a flume from back in the day. It’s almost completely covered in dirt and pine needles and makes a nice camp site on the side of this steep mountain.
Had a long climb up the Sierra Buttes this morning, but it was an easy grade and the sun was still behind the mountains. So it was really a nice climb. Almost at the ridge I met a SB section-hiker form Vancouver who said she saw 15 thru-hikers yesterday. I saw some really great rock today. First, the Sierra Buttes are really cool looking and they are so much higher in elevation than everything surrounding it (has kind of a Mt. Doom look to it). Also saw some un-named chimney like rock and also Gibraltar, which has a very large south facing layered rock face. It seemed like most of the hiking today was close to dirt roads so I saw my fair share of dirt bikers and 4-wheelers. There are many lakes along this section, but the trail does not go very near them — rather it stays on the crest above them. This is great for views, but watching other people swim in them makes me wish I was down there too. I will, however, be coming to the Feather River shortly. I believe I was walking in Plumas National Forest the entire day and I got in just over 27 miles.
It was very flat walking for most of the day, except for mid-afternoon when there was a 2000 foot drop down to the middle fork of the Feather River. I went swimming once I got down there and it was heavenly. I passed many logged areas this morning and a couple after noon, also went by Pilot Peak which had a lookout perched on top, and Chimney Rock. After seeing Chimney Rock I have no idea why it’s called what it is. Three miles after the Feather River is Bear Creek, which I am camped close to now. I ate lots of food throughout the day and I will even go so far as to say that after dinner I was full. That feeling has passed now, but I should have good energy for tomorrow which I will need because I know there will be lots of climbing. Put in 28 miles today — should have done more with it being so flat, but for whatever reason, I didn’t. I’m camped down at 3300 ft, which is the lowest I have been in quite some time. On my descent down to the river from a little ways past Fowler Peak I saw 3 snakes. A rattler at 5000 ft, one of those guys that looks like a rattler but isn’t (I’m drawing a blank as to the name), and a rubber boa down close to the water.
Had almost a 3000 ft climb that covered 7 miles to start off with. Again it was an easy grade and I caught it when the sun was still hidden so it was not a bad hike. That put me up by Lookout Rock and a paved road that goes to Buck’s Lake. Then I had a little descent to Buck’s Summit and a short climb up to the Spanish Peak road and later Mt. Pleasant. I made dinner at the second crossing of Clear Creek and also met 6 other thru-hikers there — 2 married couples and 1 guy hiking with his daughter. They were all going to camp by the creek and I carried on another 2 miles. The country here above 5000 ft is very similar to how it is back home in Washington. Lots of trees (with plenty of logged areas), good sized mts and hills, and quite a few lakes. I guess it does seem a little more open here, probably because of less rain. Put in 26 miles today and camped kind of early. It’s 8 miles to Belden and I don’t really need to get there before the Post Office opens. Right now I’m camped just outside of a burn area at 6100 ft. I had a nice view of Mt. Lassen (which I’m guessing is coming up next section) from the Spanish Pea area. And tomorrow after Belden it’ll be on to Uncle Buzz and Carla’s. I’m in Bucks Lake Wilderness right now which is supposed to be one of the more isolated areas of all California.
It was really warm last nite and it stayed that way till morning. I set off a little earlier than usual and was really glad that I did because it was beautiful out and the sunrise was spectacular. It was basically just a 4000 ft drop down into Belden. I got there a little after 8 and napped till everything (the Post Office and the barely-a-store) opened up. Uncle Buzz came and got me a little later and we drove into Quincy for a bite and then on to his super-cool log cabin. I got to meet Carla and she is great. I got the new pack Dad send; this one has a hip belt. I had been having some trouble with my back on the longer sections so hopefully this will help with that. I have some small things to take care of tomorrow morning and then I plan on getting back to the trailhead sometime in the evening.
I went to town with Carla in the morning to pick up a little trail food, a new toothbrush, and get some pictures developed. Then, after lunch we went out to meet Buzz at Whitehawk Ranch. I met Butch and Clarence (Buzz’s drafthorses) who were both very well behaved and then we went for a wagon ride which was good fun. I got back to Belden around 8 and started heading up out of the hot canyon. I put in 6 quick miles and without too much nite hiking (which I still am not very fond of) I got to where I thought a usable cabin was supposed to be. I scouted around in the dark but couldn’t find the place. So I set up close to a lazy stream and I’m camped out underneath the stars. And strangely enough the mosquitoes aren’t even out.
It was a warm one today and the sweat was a-flowin’. It was really muggy until I reached 6000 ft and a place called Poison Springs. Saw some more cool volcanic rock — one with very green flora all around which I think made a nice picture. I saw Lake Eleanor, but it is the Mt. Lassen volcano that dominates the views. The forecast called for lightning today and from about 4 till 6pm the thunder was pretty steady and I did see some flashes. It also rained for a 1/2 hour which is the first precip I’ve had since San Jacinto. I got in 26 miles today, but for the last week or so I haven’t had nearly the same kind of hiking drive as I’ve had the last 7 weeks. So I’m going to cut the miles down for awhile and see if that helps. Right now I’m a 1/2 miles off the PCT towards Carter Meadow where there is a little stream I’m at 6400 ft and it’s hot and muggy (which, of course, means buggy too). The best part of the day was eating the cookies and grapes I had packed from Belden (a big thanks to Carla).
It was very humid this morning and it seemed to stay that way most of the day. It was really cloudy and the sun only came out in short spurts, but that didn’t stop it from getting hot. After 5 miles I smelled smoke and saw a helicopter drop off something about a 100 yards off the trail. It was just a tiny fire, started by lightning last nite, and there was a FS crew there. Heard lots of thunder today but didn’t see any flashes. There wasn’t a lot to look at today aside from Lassen briefly, Lake Eleanor, and a couple clearcuts. Coming down from near Humboldt Summit the trail was very overgrown — one of the very few places along the PCT that could use a trail crew. Near the end of my day I had a swim in the cold North Fork Feather River which had been what I was looking forward to all day. It was a bit of a heart-stopper, but it felt real nice. I set up my bivy (no bugs right now, but I think there will be later) a 1/2 mile past the river near an old logging road at 5100 ft. I put in 23 miles.
After 6 miles this morning I came to a sign that said Lassen Volcanic National Park. I took a little side trip to see Terminal Geyser, which is actually more of a steam vent but interesting nevertheless. An hour later I came to Boiling Springs Lake which is a pond full of what looks like bubbling pea soup. I was ready to go for a swim by then, but that was not the place. Next I went by Drakesbad Guest Ranch, which has a green, naturally heated swimming pool. The rest of the day was spent walking through forested areas with lakes every couple of miles. Swan Lake was where I got my swim in and it was nice and warm. I had some desire to go see the Cinder Cone, but it would have been an 8 mile round trip and that’s a little too far or me today. I set up camp pretty early next to Feather Lake. I put in 20 miles and have another 13 to go to get to Old Station. And I forgot to mention yesterday that, mileage-wise, I am now halfway to Canada.
Went to sleep early and slept well into the morning so I missed the cool part of the day, but it was a short day so that was alright. First I came to Badger Flats, which wasn’t much and then it was 3 miles till I exited the Park. I stopped by Hat Creek and took a nice rest — across the creek was the biggest RV that I think I’ve ever seen. The rest of the day (5 miles) was like hiking through a sand volleyball court. I got to the Old Station Post Office and Hat Creek Store a little after 1. I’ve kind of been hanging out by some picnic tables in the resort area — and they are letting me camp right behind the resort. I’ve been to many resorts on this trip and, to me, a resort is a vacation destination. This place, along with all the others — excluding VVR, is in no condition to be a vacationer’s “destination.” So basically I think they should change their name from resort to something else. Enough about that. But the people here are friendly and helpful, especially the guy at the store. I hitched down to Runt’s Café for a bite (2 dinners) and back no problem. So now I’m just killing time waiting for the Post Office to open tomorrow at 8:30 — trying to finish up my Tony Hillerman book that I brought fro Buzz’s. I’m the only hiker here — which from what I’ve been hearing is odd — but apparently quite a few people left yesterday and the day before.
Picked up my box this morning at 8:30 and was on the trail a little after 9 to tackle the infamous Hat Creek Rim. It’s hot, dry, and shadeless. A fire came thru in ’87 and there are no trees for a 12 mile stretch. There is also no water for the first 30 miles from Old Station. But all that aside, the views are awesome. From South to North you have Mt. Lassen, Brokeoff Mountain, Sugarloaf, Burney Mountain, and Mt. Shasta to top it all off. The views are totally unobstructed and you can see for miles in every direction. About halfway thru the 30 mile waterless stretch is “Cache 22” stocked with lotsa water and today, food. For an early dinner and instead of cooking a meal just snacked on fruit and cookies. There was also Grape Drink which I may have had a little too much of. I met my first section-riders on horseback today. Nice folks who really seemed to be enjoying themselves. It was hot today — my watch got up to 109 degrees, but that was in the sun. The trail down the rim escarpment was extremely dusty. I got a shower yesterday but now I’m just filthy. I got in 27 miles and the sunset, which is just finishing up, was great.
At 5:30 this morning just as I was unzipping my bivy a couple SB sectioners came walking by. One of them had to have been the happiest guy on Earth and proceeded to talk my ear off for 15 minutes. I don’t remember a word he said because it was 5:30 and most people don’t do a lot of talking or listening at that hour. I had good views of Shasta all morning long. What a great mountain. Crossed a couple of highways — 299 and 89 I believe. Also crossed many a dirt road. They were all topped off with some kind of volcanic rock that made them a rusty-red color that was kind of cool. Also early on I passed a PG&E substation and a huge state-run fish farm. It was attracting a lot of birds including Osprey, at least 2 bald eagles, and a couple pelicans. I also saw a group of 5 pelicans floating on Baum Lake. I came to Burney Falls State Park at 12:30 where I had a bite to eat and met 7 other PCTers who were congregating near the store. All but two I had met before near Belden. Read the paper for 1/2 an hour and then headed to Rock Creek where I cooked a meal. Now I’m camped in a pretty heavily forested area at 4800 feet, a couple miles before Pearine Creek. There is a plant up here that is driving me crazy. It smells like artichokes, which I love, but of course there are no artichokes growing up here so tough luck for me. I think it’s either Mountain Misery or Ceanothus, but what do I know about plants — probably as much as Swinton knows about jump-starting a car. I got in 31 miles. Almost forgot — I saw Burney Falls which was impressive and went for a swim in Lake Britton.
Finally saw a bear today, a cinnamon colored one. And I had Cinnamon Teddy Grahams for lunch — a rather odd coincidence. As soon as it noticed me it hopped over a log, took off like a deer and was gone. I first hiked to Pearine Creek which was a good 15 degrees colder than where I was camped and met a PCT guy named Josh. After that it was obvious that the trail hadn’t seen a crew in a really long time. It was really overgrown and I wished I had a machete with me. And where the trail wasn’t overgrown it was barren because of all the clear-cutting. Went past Mushroom Rock and Grizzly Peak in the late afternoon. After Grizzly Peak the trail descends for 10 miles all the way down to 2,000 feet. I’m about 3 miles down now at 4:00. I met John and Julie from Seattle taking a rest and looking at Shasta. John says he’s hiked over 15,000 miles in Washington alone and Julie hikes in a long skirt. About an hour ago I met Brian from England at Deer Creek — friendly guy but his accent is so heavy I can barely understand a word he’s saying. I got in 33 miles and I feel pretty fortunate to have found some level ground on this long descent. I hope Brian has the same good luck as he just went by an the sun is starting to go down.
Finished off the descent down to the McCloud River by 8:30 this morning. The trail — which really does need some work — wound in and out of some gullies and stayed around 3,000 feet. A little past noon I came to Trough Creek. It was great to see because I was so thirsty. I was going to take a nap there, but decided to go another 3 miles to Squaw Valley River where I could also jump in the water. I found a great spot there on some flat rocks below a little cliff. I cooked two meals and decided to stay until the sun dropped enough to where I didn’t feel like I was being cooked if I was out in it. Josh and John and Julie came by a little later and they all looked relieved to find some water to cool off in. After that I had a 2,000 ft climb up to Girard Ridge Road and right after that my first views of Castle Crags. Castle Crags in a big jagged bunch of granite which is cool, but I am also looking at Shasta, which is cooler. I put in 29 today and right now I’m actually camped on the trail (bad planning on my part) at 4,600 ft. Ten more miles to Castella and my next resupply box.
I got into the very small town of Castella a little before 10 this morning. The trail just slowly dropped 2,000 ft and went over a couple little streams. Down by the Interstate – which Castella is basically on — I saw my fair share of beat up trailers, cars that probably haven’t moved in 20 years, and mangy looking dogs. At Amaritti’s Market (a gas station store), either I wasn’t that hungry or I just couldn’t find what it was I was looking for because I didn’t eat much. There was no other restaurant within 10 miles which kind of bummed me out so I just hung out in the shade until 4:30. That’s when I met a couple who were very hiker-friendly and they gave me a ride back to the trailhead. I hiked 6.5 more miles into Castle Crags Wilderness. All of it was underneath the crags which are now a lot more impressive now that I’m closer to them. Now I’m down low at 2,700 ft where it’s hot. I’ll be glad to gain some elevation tomorrow. Right when I got to Sulphur Creek — which I’m camped by right now — I met a PCTer named Rogue who got on the trail just today and is finishing up the second leg of his journey, which he started last year.
It was level walking for the first hour this morning and after that there was a 3,000 ft climb. I felt really good going up so I’m pretty sure that I’m out of my little funk that I was in a week or two ago. The ascent took me to a ridge of the Trinity Divide. On the way up I got lots of views, from many perspectives, of Castle Crags and also saw the Grey Rocks with Boulder Peak and Echo Lake. Met big granite rock faces like the ones back in the High Sierra. About that time the clouds started coming in and soon the rain followed. First it hailed for half an hour — some of it got to be around the size of small grapes and those kind of stung. It poured for 3 hours and I was completely soaked. By the time I got to Somes Bar-Etna Road it had pretty much stopped so I got lucky and didn’t have to set up camp in the rain. I got in just about 32 miles and with 2 big climbs and descents I’m tired and ready for some sleep.
I ran into a big fellow — a retired helicopter logger — and his dog early this morning. We both took a break at the same spot and when I answered his question of how many miles I get in a day he almost choked on his Cliff Bar. I got into Marble Mt. Wilderness just after that and saw two CCC crews doing trail work; which the trail needs. I had to follow the pack string that was resupplying their camp, at a distance, for most of the morning and I sure was glad when they made it to camp and I could get past them. From there the trail got really steep and rocky and it was slow going. The best part of the morning was when I came to a ridge that overlooked Man Eaten Lake and some giant cliffs. Later on I met two older guys going to camp there who were wearing overalls and had the oldest looking packs I’ve ever seen. Right when I was getting ready to stop and dry out my gear I met a thru-hiker named Luke. He’s one of those guys who I really admire, but at the same time am kind of puzzled by because he just seems to not have a care in the world. It was 2 in the afternoon then and his plan was to make it to Grider Creek Campground which was still 32 miles away. He was hoping to make it by 2am. If the stories I’ve heard about this guy from other hikers are true, I have no doubt he’ll make it. Just after my dinner I got close enough to see Marble Mt. and Black Mt. They really contrast each other and on the side of Black Mt. there are all these underground caves with water flowing into them. I hiked on to Paradise Lake and Kings Castle which is above it. After 29 miles I called it quits and am at 6,000 ft next to a little steam. It’s a little over 27 miles to Seiad Valley and hopefully a restaurant.
It was a steep climb up from Paradise Lake and around King’s Castle to start off with this morning. The trail curled right around the rock castle and the view from the north side was just as good, if not better, than the view from the south. From there the path mainly descended for 18 miles down to Grider Creek Campground. First it went along Big Ridge and then the rest of the drop was forested. Down near the bottom there were a lot of cool looking madrone trees. Mid-morning when I sat down on the trail for some breakfast I noticed a bear cub down below me walking on a downed tree. It didn’t pay any attention to me and just kept moseying along. A couple miles outside the campground I met two women out on a loop trial and I walked the rest of the way with them. One of them — like many hikers I meet – says she really wants to thru-hike the trail. I hung out at the campground for a little while and cooked some mac ‘n cheese. The next 6 1/2 miles was a road walk and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I got into Seiad Valley around 4:30 — hit the post office and the store. Café doesn’t open until 8am tomorrow. The guy at the RV Park is letting met stay in one of the bunk houses for a very reasonable $10. So I have a bed, shower, and the last hikers to stay here left some good food in the fridge. The hiker box here is also stacked and I got some good trial food and even some supplies. So I’m hanging out here till noonish tomorrow when I get to see the old man. I can’t wait. We’re going to kill time for a half-day and then hit the trail together the next day.
I had breakfast at the café and got nice and full. Dad showed up a little before noon and we decided to drive the fifty some miles to Yreka. We’re staying the night here and will head back to Seiad Valley tomorrow morning. We did a little walking around in Yreka and had a good dinner at the Purple Plum. I’m exhausted and stuffed.
First off — Happy Birthday to me! We left the hotel by 5 this morning and started hiking out of Seiad Valley (in the state of Jefferson) around 6:30. On the drive west we saw a mountainside burning up and a nice 4 point buck. We started with a 4,400 ft climb up to near the peak of Kangaroo Mountain. We got out of the poison oak and the little black flies — which Dad calls eye flies because they always seem to fly right in front of your eyes — pretty early and that was nice. We met a thru-hiked named Billy Goat and also Josh and Brian (Iron Chef) who I had met before. Had lunch and a rest near a road at Cook and Green Pass. The landscape changed from lots of rock before Seiad to lots of trees today, although we did see one rock peak that was pretty cool. It was really smoky and hazy before noon tot he point where you could smell it, but now it seems to have cleared up some. We can even see the top of Mt. Shasta. We got in 27 miles and are camped on a ridge with a great view. No bivy tonite as I don’t think the bugs can take the wind. And it’s clear so I can’t wait for the stars to come out. Also saw a rattler at 5,000 ft today.
We made it to Oregon! It was a long time coming, but I saw so many amazing and beautiful sights in California that I am a little sad to see it go. But I am sure many great things await from here to Canada. About 2 miles down trail this morning we saw a herd of elk. I counted 20, but I think there were more as a few of the younger ones were kind of huddled together. An hour and a half later we just barely caught a glimpse of a bear hurrying away from us probably 75 yards down below the trail. We mainly stayed between 5,500 and 7,000 ft for the entire day — lots of small climbs, but nothing like yesterday. We passed Observation Peak and traversed around Red Mountain — which is where we stopped for lunch. It was smoky during the morning and late afternoon, but we still had good views of what looked like a floating Mt. Shasta, Mt. McLoughlin, and what I believe is Pilot Peak. We bagged a 31 miler today — not too shabby. Now we’re camped at 5,900 ft near an old logging road. It was a nice sunset last nite, but form this spot we won’t be seeing it tonite. And there is definitely smoke in the air as I can smell it.
Started off with a 6 1/2 mile descent to Highway 99. From there we had a 1/2 miles road walk that took us under Interstate 5. We saw an owl fly over the Interstate which looked kind of strange to me. After a couple miles we passed Pilot Rock and then later in the afternoon we had a quick look at what looked like a great rockclimbing rock in Hobarts Bluff. We had our afternoon break and lunch at a fenced in (to keep the cows out) spring that even had a faucet. We saw free-spirited Luke there who had just got back from Ashland. We’re doing a lot of hiking on BLM land down at the high 4,000 ft to low 5,000 ft level and there are these stickers that just latch onto your socks and shoes and don’t let go — very annoying. We passed the Little Hyatt Reservoir an hour and a half ago and went for a quick dip. From there to where we are now camped we spotted a hopping elk and a nice buck. We got in another 31 miler and are camped at 5100 ft.
We walked through some great forests this morning once we got back onto Forest Service land today. They were kind of segmented, but we saw some huge Doug Fir trees. While we were walking through one of these forests, Dad spotted a peregrin falcon. The sun was red almost the entire day because of the smoke and that kept the temperature down. Once we got to Dead Indian Road, we took an alternate route that took us to a restaurant, store, and nice swimming hole at the Lake of the Woods Resort. It was a 7 mile road walk so we hitched it — without much trouble — and had a couple burgers and ice cream at the resort. We spent the next hour or so down at the lake where the water was great. It was a really nice break from all the hiking we’ve been doing. We hit the trail again at 5 and after some climbing walked along the Cascade Canal for 4 miles to Fourmile Lake. It’s a cool lake and I kind of feel like I’m at Kootenay, but then I kind of feel like I’m at the ocean. I’m camped out underneath the stars down on the sand by the water — Dad is a little further up — but the wind has died so the bugs are out and I’m going to have to set up the bivy. We hiked around 25 miles today — plus we had our 5 mile back of a truck hitchhike. As the sun was going down this evening the entire sky turned a pink color and that gave the water a pinkish look as well — very beautiful.
Right at Fourmile Lake the Sky Lakes Wilderness begins so we didn’t have to pass any roads today which was nice. We were off of the PCT and on alternate routes for the majority of the morning. These trails passed more lakes and were supposed to have more views. It was kind of chilly this morning and it was really pretty watching the fog roll off all the lakes. When we got back on the PCT we were greeted by tons of downed trees crossing the trail — it was slow going for a couple miles. After that we found some water at Snow Creek which we both were very thankful for. After lunch we climbed up a bit and went past Shale Butte, Lucifer, and Devil’s Peak. Devil’s Peak is a cool chunk of rock and it’s silhouette actually does look like the head of a devil. Although Dad thought it looked more like Barney from the Flintstones so, from now on, it’s called Barney Peak. The rest of the day went by pretty fast and we just turned onto the Stuart Falls Trail. It’s another 4 or 5 mile alternate route and we are taking it because it’s supposed to have a couple little springs in 2 miles and also a waterfall a little after that. Still smoky today — unfortunately blocking our view of Mt. Shasta and Mt. McLoughlin. We put in nearly 31 miles and have around 16 till the Crater Lake Lodge.
We came to Stuart Falls early this morning. It was pretty cool and hopefully made for a good picture. The next 13 miles were pretty flat except for the last two up to Rim Village. I made a little navigational error that tacked a couple of miles onto our trek and we ended up getting to the Village around 2. We had lunch at a cafeteria thaere where I met two thru-hikers about my age that I hadn’t seen since Agua Dulce. Next, we went to the Crater Lake Lodge to see if we could get a room, but no dice so we hitched down to Mazama Campground. It’s really different having so many other campers around. Crater Lake is enormous and awesome. It’s hard to imagine that it was once a mountain about the size of Mt. Adams. I’m looking forward to seeing it again tomorrow. I’m hitting the trail tomorrow and Dad’s hitching back to the truck at Seiad Valley. All the other hikers (and myself) were extremely impressed that he could just come out here and hike 30’s with me. Now we are off to get some more food. Also met a PCTer from Cheney named Brant.
I said good-bye to Dad early this morning and then thumbed it up to the lake. It took two rides and I set off on the trail just before 8. The first ride up to the Ranger Station was in the back of a truck and good god was I ever cold. I had a nice walk around the east rim of the lake — some road, some trail — to start with, and then the trail followed some road down into a valley. A few miles after that I either made a wrong turn or missed a turn and then I saw a sign that said the PCT was a 4 mile backtrack from where I was. I wasn’t up for any backtracking so I just took a different route — some trail, too much road — that will get me back on the PCT tomorrow. On “my route” I saw 3 gi-normous bull elk roaming around together and a nice waterfall on the Rogue River. After a nice 4 mile stretch on Oregon State Hiway 230, I came to Diamond Lake. A little north up the lake I found a pizza place that made “my route,” 10 miles longer than the PCT, almost seem worth it. Now I’m camped just inside the entrance to an RV park. I’m kind of hidden in the bushes so hopefully no one will notice me. I’m really close to the road, but I’m so tired I don’t think it’s going to matter. The smoke was so thick right before I got to the hiway that my eyes were watering. From the hiway I had my first smoky views of Mt. Thielsen which has to be the pointiest mountain I’ve ever seen.
I stumbled into a restaurant this morning serving a buffet breakfast at the Diamond Lake Resort. I got my money’s worth and then tried to find the Howlock Mt. Trail which would take me back to the PCT. After getting away from an older guy on a bike who really wanted to help me out, but didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, I managed to find it. I got back on PCT tread about lunchtime and met two SB Oregon PCTers there. They kind of gave me the scoop on where all the other thru hikers were — which as Dad knows can be some of the most important information you can get in a day. From that junction till my first views of Miller Lake I really enjoyed the trail. It was high up, nice and green, and I saw some wild rock on the Sawtooth Ridge. One thing that stood out about today is that it was perfectly clear and I hope it stays that way. I got in 15 miles from where I got back on the PCT and now I’m camped on a ridge — unfortunately not a rocky one with great views — but a forested one. Also up on that really nice stretch of trial I got to see Tipsoo Peak which was a rusty red color.
First off I finished the descent down to Windigo Pass. From there I took the old Oregon Skyline Trail which used to be the PCT. It goes by more lakes and is a couple miles shorter. It took me past Crescent Lake and later Diamond View Lake. As the name implies, I could see very near Diamond Peak, but only faintly because of the smoke which came back today. I was kind of walking with a little limp today as I sliced the bottom of my little toe and strained something in my big toe — both on my left foot. I feel very fortunate as these have been the only foot related injuries I have had since the general aches and pains wore off right around the fourth week. Next up was Odell Lake. The trail went within 300 yards of Shelter Cove which has a little store so I went there for a dinner of sorts. I tried to call Swinton from there for some Spike n’ Dig news, but he wasn’t home. It was 5 o’clock — he was probably out at the bars. After feeding cheese puffs to a chipmunk right out of my hand I got back on the trail. I passed out of Diamond Peak Wilderness, crossed over Hiway 58 and Willamette Pass, and made tracks to the Rosary Lakes. I set up my bivy at a great spot between Upper and Middle Rosary Lakes which sit right at the base of Rosary Peak. The wind even kept the mosquitoes away while I was setting up. I got in a little over 30 miles and I’m as dirty as can be because the Oregon Skyline Trail is so dusty.
It was cold this morning. I had a tough time getting out of my sleeping bag — seeing a runner go by in shorts and a t-shirt finally made me do it. It was overcast until about 5 and during that time I only saw the sun once for a brief stretch. I went by what seemed like hundreds of lakes and ponds today. I thought it would have been buggy, but I guess they didn’t like the cold. It seriously did not warm up at all. Each time I thought I could take my gloves off I had them back on in 15 minutes. But I’m not complaining because it was great weather for hiking and not a bead of sweat came off me today. After the first couple of miles I ran into two girls about my age and 2 ladies who I’m guessing were their mothers. One of the ladies did the majority of the PCT last year. She had lots of questions and lots of stories to tell, but she wanted to hike right next to me. So basically I was hiking in bushes for awhile before I had enough of it and picked it up a little bit and said good-bye. After that IO went by Charlton Lake, Waldo Lake (now re-named Waldorf Lake), and a trail that I think goes all the way to Eugene (not that I have any idea how far away that is — it may only be 50 miles). Around noon time I crossed a dirt road and came to Irish Lake which is where I passed into the Three Sisters Wilderness. I got to see South Sister but only the base of it as the clouds always seemed to be in the way. I had dinner at Cliff Lake where I met a couple camped there with their dog Scruffy who didn’t seem to like me — the dog, that is, I don’t think the people had a problem with me. I was going to camp there in a shelter, but a sign said that no one was allowed in it because it might collapse. And I wasn’t going to camp next to the lake with Scruffy around so I carried on a little bit and ended up with 33 miles. Right now I’m camped about 10 feet off the trail at around 5100 feet.
I hiked ten miles into Elk Lake Resort and got there a little after 10. Went by some more lakes, but there wasn’t much to look at as it was still really cloudy. I met a couple section hikers at the resort and heard lots and lots of stories. The phone there cost $2 a minute to use and since I had a few calls to make I hitched to the next nearest phone which was at Mt. Bachelor — 11 miles away. Those of you who I called should feel very special. After I hitched back and took a shower I did my laundry which I hadn’t done since Buzz’s. How nasty is that. When I came back from the laundry room I saw a sign on the resort and café that said “Closed due to illness.” I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed. I was planning on staying there tonite, but since the place was now locked and not a soul around — the place turned in a ghost town in less than 30 minutes — that wasn’t going to happen. I was so hungry and after a lot of swearing and cursing just about everything I could think of, I got back on the trail and put in two miles. I had vegetarian mountain chili (the meal I was planning on carrying with me the rest of the way, but never eat) for dinner and it was god-awful. I’m camped in the same place and a couple’s dog just ransacked my camp and nabbed half of one of my pop-tarts while I was setting up. And it’s been raining for the past 15 minutes . . .
It was pretty chilly this morning and after a 1,000 ft climb I had my first good look at South Sister. I dropped down to go by Middle Sister, but the clouds had come in and she was pretty much wrapped up. And the same went for North Sister. Then I went by Obsidian Falls and a place where the path was little chunks of obsidian that crunched like glass when I walked on them. Right around there I saw Brant, from Cheney, again and we did about 10 miles to South Matthier Lake. There we saw Larry and his dog who I had met at the Elk Lake Resort. I cooked there and Brandt and Larry went down to Lara Lake Campground where Brant was going to try and hitch into Sisters. After I ate I followed them down and ended up camping just outside the campground. I got in 32 miles and it was really pretty trail the whole day. Lots of wildflowers gave the air a great smell too. Must have seen at least 30 other hikers.
When I woke up I saw frost on my pack, but it turned out to be a clear, sunny day. The first 4 to 5 miles of the day was over a lava field which was pretty slow going. But since it was clear I had great views of North and Middle Sister (South Sister was hidden behind). I thought I was going to make Santiam Pass by noon, but it was just one of those mornings and I didn’t get there till 2. Highway 20 was very busy so I hiked up out of the noise and had my lunch. After that was a short climb up to 2,000 ft from the summit of Three-Fingered Jack. I would have loved to bag it but I just didn’t have the energy. The south side of Jack was pretty cool, but the north side was wicked. It was so craggy and the northeast face is striped red and gray. I almost camped up on the ridge where I could see it, but I decided I should get in a couple more miles. So now I’m down in the forest with the mosquitoes at 5700 ft. I didn’t go past one stream or spring today, but there was plenty of snow up on the sides of Jack. Lots of day-trippers out as well. And I almost forgot what I spent my whole morning going around and staring at — Mt. Washington. Another really cool peak that I think can only be summited with ropes and climbing hear. Since it was clear, I could see Diamond Peak to the south and Mt. Jefferson which I believe I will be passing by tomorrow. 28 miles today.
It was a really long day today and I’m so beat. Lots of good views of Mt. Jefferson. I was in Jefferson Park for quite awhile which is really nice, but way too many people and too many dogs. And to make a long story short I got off the PCT on accident and ended up walking down a gravel road for 7 miles to Highway 22. It was too late to hitch so I camped near the road. Tomorrow I’ll hitch into the nearest town and find out the best way to bet back on the trail.
I’m now in the lake town of Detroit. I hitched in 11 miles — much thanks to Zacharius and his telling me how I need to be born again — I almost wished I was back pounding the cold pavement. So I’ve had 3 big meals here and a lot of ice cream and I feel much better than I did the last couple of days — wasn’t getting enough calories and I think I was cutting my water intake a little short. Leaving town hungry wasn’t a good start to the section either. So I’m staying the night here and after breakfast will hitch into Olallie Lake.
I had a huge breakfast at the Burger Stop and then started the 37 mile hitch to Olallie Lake. It took lots of rides, but it went pretty well and I got there at noon. I am missing 9 miles of PCT, but Olallie is the only place that is moderately easy to get to that isn’t a big backtrack. I saw Josh, Brant, Cyclops, and Gottago (Linda) at the little country store there by the lake. It was good to see Josh and Brant again and Gottago and Cyclops are cool too. I hung out for awhile and then started walking. I was on Warm Springs Indian Reservation land for the majority of the day and will be tomorrow as well. They (the Indians) have signs up that say “Continuous Forest Inventory” which I’ve basically decided means they keep the big trees to a minimum. I met a thru-hiker named Satellite at Lemiti Creek — where I cooked. I thought I might catch up to him after my dinner, but he’s too fast (or I’m too slow). Olallie Lake is really pretty and Jefferson sits right behind it. No swimming is allowed in the lake though because it’s part of the Portland water system — how lame. Had my first look at Mt. Hood about an hour ago. I got in 16 miles and I can’t really say I like my campsite. It just gives me a creepy kind of feeling and a tree fell down as I was beginning my second sentence. I guess I’ll be zipping the sleeping bag all the way up tonite.
It was a nice temperature this morning for my descent to the Warm Springs River. I passed into Mt. Hood National Forest around noon. Saw lots of big trees — mainly Doug Fir — throughout the entire day so I guess I have to take back what I said about the rez’s “Forest Inventory.” I was in the forest the entire day so my views were limited. It wasn’t until about 6 that I could see Mt. Hood. It almost doesn’t look real it’s so big and looks more like a painting. No other thru-hikers today, but I did meet a Romanian girl, Valentenia, and her husband Ed. She had a killer accent and loved to talk about hiking. They are section hiking and are going as far as the Columbia. And then just about a half hour ago I met some guy who looked just like a young Jimmy Page. It was just about all downhill or flat today which was nice — the part around Timothy Lake was exceptionally flat. I got in 30 and didn’t have to push very hard. It’s 3 miles to Barlow Pass and then I think another 4 to Timberline Lodge, but I could be wrong as the guidebook is rather vague and doesn’t map the area to the lodge. But I’m going to try really hard to stay on the trail. I’ve had enough off-trail walking to last me a long time.
It was around 8 miles to the Timberline Lodge. The last bit climbed 2000 ft up Mt. Hood and it was a tough climb because it was a sand trail. I picked up my goods at the WyEast Store and then ate at the cafeteria upstairs. The place is really fancy and I felt a little out of place, so I wrote a couple of postcards and then hit the trail for a mile. The buildings at Timberline are really cool looking and look real nice up against Mt. Hood. You have a great view of Jefferson from there and if you look hard can see the Three Sisters — at least today when it’s fairly clear. So I spent the day resting in the shade of some trees and set up my bivy maybe a 1/4 mile further down the trail at 5500 ft. Didn’t burn too many calories today, but hopefully I’ll have good energy tomorrow.
I set off at 4:30 this morning with the goal of making it 47 miles to Cascade Locks. Didn’t quite make it, but I did get in 41. A guy I saw on the trail said it was supposed to be the hottest day of the year so far and get into the triple digits. There were masses of flies out today that just about drove me insane. There was a trail crew out doing some work (which the trail really needed) and they were doing a real nice job. Had good views of Mount St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier. At Wahtum Lake I took the Eagle Creek alternate route which has the highest concentration of high waterfalls in the country — I’m pretty sure almost every thru-hiker goes this way. It didn’t disappoint and a couple of the falls were just breathtaking. Tunnel Falls was so big (tall) I couldn’t fit it all in my camera lens. Right now I’m camped near Punch Bowl Falls at 700 ft. It’s so hot I’m just stuck to my sleeping bag — it was even hot before sunrise this morning — but I doubt I’ll have much trouble falling asleep.
I set off a little before 8 this morning and saw a couple more cool waterfalls and then came to the Eagle Creek Trailhead. From there I had a 2 1/2 mile stroll alongside the highway into Cascade Locks. I did my stuff at the Post Office, had breakfast with Larry, who I met in town at the Char Burger, had lunch at the East Wind Drive Thru and spent the afternoon on the lawn in front of a Best Western in the shade of a big Doug Fir. Then I went back to the Char Burger for an early dinner and saw Brant and Josh there. We stuffed ourselves and after an hour my face hurt from laughing so much. We were even mistaken for locals, which isn’t saying much for the people of Cascade Locks. After all that I hit the trail. Crossing the Bridge of the Gods was crazy. I could see that being very difficult for people who are scared of heights. It felt so good to get to Washington — I’m pretty sure because it’s home. It was a much different feeling than getting to Oregon. Right as I was starting to look for a camp site I thought I saw a dog walking up a small hill towards me, but it turned out to be a bear cub so I hiked another hour and am now camped at a fork in the trail at 1500 ft. I was down as low as 140 ft near the river.
Lots of climbing today, but now I’m down even lower than I was last night at 1000 ft., maybe a football field away from Panther Creek. I got up as high as 3000 ft (twice), but didn’t stay up there very long. I’ll have to wait for tomorrow when I get up and stay up. It was pretty warm today, but it seemed like I was walking in the shade for most of it. Went around Table Mt. to start with and then kind of skirted around a couple big clearcuts. This area has the most visible clearcuts of all the areas I’ve been so far. A lot of the day and right now I’ve been in basically what I think is rain forest. It’s pretty cool and really green. Didn’t see a single lake today which is rare. I did see lots of garter snakes and one small brownish-grey colored snake that I couldn’t identify. Went over a neat-looking wooden bridge spanning Wind River. I thought Wind River was going to be bigger than it actually was — guess it just looks wide on my map. Put in 29 miles.
Went up Big Huckleberry Mt. late this morning after some forest walking to start off with and there were lots of huckleberries around — not big ones but they were still good. There’s definitely some smoke in the air, especially to the NE so Mt. Adams is not real visible. I met a hiker guy who didn’t speak real good English at Road 60. He was hurting (wasn’t doing his toe taps) and was trying to hitch into a town. I have no idea how far away the nearest town is, but I’d guess it’s quite a ways. Also met Ken and a girl with a dog. I first met Ken back on Mt. Whitney. He has since flip-flopped and is now headed south. The girl told me the mosquitoes were bad in Indian Heaven Wilderness which is where I am now and she was right. They are really humming outside my bivy. There were masses of bald faced hornets and yellow jackets on the trail after Road 60. I’m surprised I didn’t get stung at least once. I guess they were too busy fighting amongst themselves to bother with me. I got in 26.5 miles and wasn’t feeling really motivated so I’m now going to stay in a hotel (hopefully — if it’s not full) if I can make it to the Pass in three days. Hopefully that will get my legs moving. I found a newspaper on a picnic table near a road and I think I spent almost an hour looking through it — that Marmaduke sure is a riot. Now I’m camped at 4900 ft on a little hill just off the trail. I don’t have any water which really sucks because the Caramello that I just ate made me really thirsty.
I had a long gradual descent down to nearly 3000 ft this morning. It took me to Little and Big Mosquito Lakes which after 10 miles is where I finally found water. Near there at Road 29 I met my first SB thru-hikers (although they admitted they probably won’t make it through the Sierras because they had to start so late). Yippy and Yappy were their trail names and they were real nice people. They did the trail going north in ’96. From there, the trail was real level until Road 23 and then I started going up Mt. Adams. After 90 miles of this section I finally made it out of the trees and I now have some views of Hood, Saint Helens, Rainier, and the Goad Rocks. Ran into at least 6 back-country horsemen, who keep the trail in this area, while I was cooking next to a gusher of a spring. They were all real nice and excited for me to make it all the way to Canada. Once I got up to 6000 ft the trail leveled out and started heading away from Adams and toward Rainier. I found a nice big patch of green grass just below the trail which is where I am now camped. It feels like it is going to get cold tonite, but there are still a few rogue mosquitoes out so I set up the bivy. I got in 31 miles. I also saw a pretty big owl right around midday, making its owl sounds in a tree. And Yippy and Yappy said they’ve seen lots of elk the last couple of weeks so hopefully I’ll see some too in the days to come.
I was cold last night, but after I got walking it was all good. The first 10 miles or so got me off Mt Adam’s slopes and then after hiking on an abandoned road I came to the Goat Rocks Wilderness. The biggest problem on Adams was getting across a rather difficult creek (can’t remember the name.). It was pretty big and flowing strong and all the rocks and logs that I would usually jump on to get across had a sheet of ice on top of them. So I ended up going way up stream to find a safe crossing spot.
By afternoon it was nice and warm and the mosquitoes were going full throttle. I saw either a ferret, martin, or a fisher on the base of a tree during the early evening. I don’t really have any idea what the difference is between those three creatures. And after a lot of effort I finally came to a saddle where I could see the Goat Rocks and they are what I hoped they would be. Lot of other (older) hikers have been telling me to be careful when I get on them. So tomorrow I’ll find out if they actually are dangerous. My guess is that if there isn’t a lot of snow on the trail that it won’t be a big deal. I called it a day when I came to the saddle and this has been one of the best camp sites I’ve had. I got in 31 miles and am now at 6100 feet. And I don’t know if I’ve ever been dirtier.
I made it to White Pass today. It was about 24 miles of waling and I got to the Kracker Barrel just after 4:30. It was great trail the whole day. The Goat Rocks are truly beautiful and the trail stays up just about as high as possible which is the way I like it. There was one spot that I was wishing I had an ice axe due to some very icy snow, but other than that trail was close to snow free. There were a bunch of elk running around like mad and some coyotes howling really loud this morning. I never saw any of the noise makers but it was entertaining listening to it all. About an hour in I saw a couple llamas tied to a stake. They were the first llamas I’ve seen and I’m guessing they’ll be the last. Also saw a mountain goat a little later. Now I’m at the White Pass Village Inn, which is nice with a good firm mattress. Only 3 of the rooms in the whole joint are checked out- 1 by a southbound section hiker named Jackie who is an English teacher from Grand Falls. He’s a really nice guy who has climbed a lot of peaks in the Cascades and really loves to hike- also about the dirtiest hiker I’ve seen so far. I plan on sleeping in tomorrow, buying some long underwear, as it has been getting rather chilly at night, and then hitting the trail.
It was drizzling when I got up this morning so I waited it out and got on the trail just before noon. There was no sunshine today and no views of Mt Rainier, which is unfortunate, because I’m about as close to it as I’m going to get. It really is pretty in this area- very green with a lot of little lakes. With the heavy fog it reminds me of what it looked like on the 13th Warrior. Fortunately I have yet to see the dreaded glow worm. I saw a couple elk crashing around about 10 miles in and there are a lot of picas where I am now. I was in a continual mist today and since all the vegetation was wet I got soaked from the waist down. I didn’t take a single sip of water while I was on the trail and I got in 20 miles, which just goes to show how the weather can affect one’s body. I’m camped only a couple feet off the trail, but I really like the spot- it’s protected by a gnarly tree. I dumped 1/2 of my ramen noodles on the ground (mud) when I was cooking, but it was no big deal because I felt like I was eating out of routine more than hunger. The trail had a real good grade to it except for one steep downhill section and now I’m still in the fog at 5600 feet.
It was cold this morning and I didn’t like putting my soaking wet shoes and damp socks on, but as always it was fine once I got moving. It was clear until noon and then the fog and clouds rolled in. I guess that ‘s just the way it is over here on this side of the state. I came to very nice Dewey lake after about 5 miles this morning and saw a couple elk just before that. After 10 miles I came to Highway 410 and Chinook Pass. Daytrippers and overnighters were everywhere and they all seemed to want to know where I was going and where I was coming from. It got very close to being too much and I was just about ready to adopt a new story to get away from it all. Heading up to Chinook Pass and the next 15 miles after it were really great. Lot of great rock peaks and open space- I only wish it was clearer. The fog in some of the gullies and in some of the gaps was so thick it was like being in a snowstorm. A little before dinner I met an ER doctor named Andy. He struggles with the hills, but we hiked together for awhile- he is doing the PCT stretch from Chinook Pass to Snoqualmie Pass. The last 5 miles was in wet grass and trees going downhill and I’m camped at 5000 feet under some trees. Andy told me he thought he saw a couple wolves yesterday by Crag Lake. I am skeptical to say the least, but how cool if he actually did. I got in 30 miles and feel really tired- I think the days getting shorter is messing with my body clock.
Only a mile in this morning I saw about 15 elk on the trail feeding. About a mile past that was Government Meadows and the Mike Ulrich Cabin, which was pretty cool- it gets a lot of use from snowmobilers during the winter. After that was FS road 942 and from there on the land has been butchered and I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed walking through it. The only good thing about the hike today was occasional glimpses or Rainier and looking at the jagged peaks that I will be coming to after Snoqualmie Pass. I didn’t get to cook this evening because I have no water, but I don’t care because I just want to go to sleep. I think I have African Sleeping Sickness. I camped a little early and am now on an old dirt road blocked off by down trees. I got in about 29 mile. Not good trail today- a lot of down trees and really overgrown.
I half wish that I had skipped over this last 40 miles of trail. Schafer (trail guide writer) suggests that hiking this kind of country is part of the PCT experience, but this kind of land just depresses me. What some people can do is disgusting. It was 20 miles into Snoqualmie Pass and I got there around 2 pm. My package wasn’t at the makeshift post office so I’m going to stay here tonight and hope that is shows up tomorrow. I had a couple good meals at the Pancake House and now I’m ready for some needed rest. The Best Western Inn is pretty nice and kind of fancy, especially for a dirty hiker. The best part of being here has been listening to a woman frantically complain to the front desk about the location of her room because there was no elevator, only stairs, and it she would have to carry her luggage about 100 feet.
I found out this morning that my box was actually here yesterday, but that I will not be allowed to get it until Monday. I’m not waiting so instead I resupplied at a gas station and even found some maps at a Forest Service Visitors Center. I got on the trail about 1 and it’s really great trail and scenery. I’m in the Alpine Lakes wilderness which has lots of great peaks and lot of clear lakes- quite the contrast from the last few days. The parking lot of the trailhead was packed with cars and the trail was full with city snobs from Seattle who don’t even seem to like to say hi. I didn’t look at my maps once so I don’t know the names of all the places I passed, but they were spectacular. About 10 miles in I met Brittany, who is hiking from Truckee to Canada. She’s about my age and is a strong hiker. We hiked another 9 and are now camped next to Delate Falls. She has a little dog with a bad leg, but he can still keep up pretty well. The marmots were going crazy this morning, making their whistling sounds and there was also thunder, but only a few drops of rain.
It was more of the same thing today, which was a great thing. I hiked most of the day with Brittany and Moonshine. We saw some elk early in the morning and then climbed up Escondido Ridge, which was a long ways up, but the trail had a very gentle grade to it. Then we dropped way down to Waptus Lake and afterwards carried on to Deep Lake, which is really nice. Cathedral Rock and another mountain half surrounded the lake, which actually felt pretty warm, but I didn’t go in. Brittany is a lot tougher than I am and did go in. I cooked at the lake and then made my way up and over Cathedral Pass. Brittany decided to stay at the lake and camp- I’m guessing I’ll see her at Stevens Pass or Skykomish. I am so impressed that her dog can do 25 mile days with its bad leg. The hike up Cathedral Pass was pretty cool as the clouds rolled up and everything went white. I got in 29 miles and now I’m camped just off the trail at 5200 feet. No bivy tonight.
Set off going down the pass this morning. It was cloudy and all the plants were wet so I was wet too. Last night at 11 it started raining a little so I had to set up the bivy so my gear would stay dry. After about 5 miles I came to a big treeless area with masses of huckleberries and below that area was a bear. I watched it eat berries for, at least, 15 minutes and actually got kind of close before it noticed me. After that I went of Deception Pass, Peiper Pass, and Trap Pass. I saw lots of hikers going to Snoqualmie and quite a few trail crew types. It was 26 miles to Stevens Pass and I got there before 6, which was where I met a section hiker whose wife was picking him up and could give me a ride into Skykomish where I could get some food- I had none. I ran into Bob Norton in town (he’s a trail angel and the first one I’ve come across in many many miles) and he let me use his shower, washer and dryer, and camp in his back yard. I had dinner at the only restaurant in town and will resupply and mail off some letters tomorrow. Most of the lakes I saw today were a light green color (especially Deer Lake) that you usually only see in bays by the ocean. Also had a tough creek crossing by Mt. Daniel.
I slept well on Bob’s soft lawn despite the fact he lives 50 feet from busy railroad tracks. He’s lucky he doesn’t hear very well. I bought some food at the gas station, had a real good breakfast at the restaurant, and mailed some letters. Bob had a good hiker box and I got some propane/butane fuel (which I was out of). Bob then took me back up to the trail around noon and I was back on my way. I had a nice stay in Skykomish and am glad I ended up going there. After 5 miles I went by Lake Valhala and Lichtenberg Mt. Then I met John, who is doing most of Washington this year- real nice guy but I doubt I’ll see him again. Next was Lake Janus and after that I went over the shoulder of Grizzly Peak- coming down I got my first bee sting of the entire hike. I called it a day just a half mile north of Wenatchee Pass at 4500 feet. I could see Glacier Peak and also what I believe to be Mt. Baker. It was a nice, blue-sky day, which have been rare lately. Lots of flies during the day and now the mosquitoes have taken there place. Also met a young guy from Brooklyn who is hiking Washington, but now sign of Brittany and Moonshine. I put in a little over 17 miles.
It was hot and sunny today and I had great views of the surrounding area. At first, the trail was very steep and there was lots of climbing for most the day, but for the most part it was well graded. I went over Indian Pass, White Pass, and then Red Pass, which was the highest one of them all at 6500 feet. I cooked just below the pass with the marmots and then it was all downhill to where I am now camped at 4200 feet. I got into Glacier Peak Wilderness sometime this morning and I really liked it. It feels like true wilderness and there aren’t too many other hikers around. About half an hour ago I came to a crossing of the White Chuck RIver, which had lots of logs criss-crossing it. They were all covered in very green moss and I would have camped on the footbridge had it been wider. I crossed the river again and found a nice campsite next to a waterfall. The great thing about open areas with fast moving water is it seems to keep the bugs away. I think I’m carrying way too much food for a 4.2 day stretch, which is making my back sore. But it’s only getting lighter and I bet my food bag will be empty when I get to Stehekin. Put in 25 miles.
It was another hot and sunny day. I had a long, very roundabout climb to start off with that took me to Fire Creek Pass. And what a pass it was! I could see in almost every direction for miles and miles- lots and lots of glaciers. I took an early siesta up there and then made my way down into a canyon and Milk Creek. On the way I met Tapeworm, who flip-flopped from Tahoe. I met him previously at the Saufley’s. That is a monster of a climb up to Fire Creek Pass for southbounders, but then I had a big climb of my own after I crossed Milk Creek going up the other side of the canyon. I ran into a trail crew going up and each one of them seemed to have 20 flys buzzing around their head. I was glad I was moving, but they still nearly drove me crazy. After I made it out of the canyon the trail did 59 switchbacks down to Vista Creek, which is where I am now camped at 3800 feet. I met Dave from Omaha down here. He left Camp on May 13 and kind of skips around a lot. He flip-flopped at Old Station and says he’ll probably just finish up Washington before he goes back to his corn. He has a funny laugh and we just spent an hour talking about the trail and all the other hikers we’ve met. I’m already reminiscing and I’m not even done yet. I did about 25 miles again today.
After 6 miles I crossed the Suiattle River. It was flat or downhill to that point and I was walking in diverse forest with lots of big trees. Past the bridge the trail, very gradually, went up to Suiattle Pass. It had been overcast and foggy up to that point, but at the pass the sun came out. And after another 1/2 mile it was out of the fog drip. From there it was all downhill. I went past some huge cliffs and a big glacier, where I got a little glicading in just before I broke for lunch. At about 4, I was walking along, listening to static on my radio, when right next to me in the bushes I heard a startled bear growl. Its two cubs ran off and climbed up some trees. I jumped back at the same time she did. Then I started backing up real slowly and she took a couple quick steps toward me. I was getting ready to drop my stick and pack because I was sure she was going to charge and I was going to be running as fast as I could ( I don’t think there was any way I could have played dead). Fortunately, she didn’t and just coaxed her cubs down from their trees and then they slowly walked off down toward Agnes Creek. I had to sit down to calm my nerves before I did anymore walking. The walking was easy today, especially compared to the last few days, but my legs didn’t seem to have much juice and I didn’t feel well for the majority of the day. So I got in 26 miles and I’m 4 or 5 miles from the road to Stehekin. I’m camped off the trail at 2200 feet and I can’t stop thinking about orange pop.
It was 4 miles to the road that goes to Steheking. I waited awhile for the 9 am bus that first took us backpackers to a great little bakery and then into Stehekin. The hike to the road was mostly flat or downhill. I crossed Agnes Creek on a bridge after 4.5 miles. It was a rager of a creek- bigger than almost all the other rivers I have crossed. Like all thru-hikers I got to write my name on the inside of the bus. I think I had the world’s best cinnamon roll at the bakery and the driver told me that Stehekin, population 70, is the continental US’s most remote town. A person has to either float, fly, or walk to it. I have had a great time here. I’ve met some other hikers including the Mad Hatter, and I just had a huge and expensive dinner. I think I’ll shoot for the 8:15 shuttle bus back to the trail tomorrow morning.
I had breakfast with a super nice couple and two younger guys hiking Washington that I met last night. After that I hopped on the bus and was dropped off at about nine. I had some difficulty finding the trail and all the daytrippers were way more confused than I was so they were no help. But I ended up at Coon Lake, which was not where I wanted to be so I backtracked to the road and walked five miles to a place where the trail did cross. So it wasn’t a very productive morning. From there it was 14 miles to Rainy Pass. It was a nice walk and I met 2 ladies who were looking with their binoculars across Stehekin River up at a big black bear. I saw a lot of bear sign of that stretch of trail. From Rainy Pass I went five miles up to Cutthroat Pass at almost 7000 feet. I started at just over 1000 feet this morning. There’s lots of cool orangish- tannish rock up here and some glaciers. Just about an hour ago the entire western sky was lit up- just about the time some funky looking clouds rolled in. It’s cold and windy up here, but I have a great camp site just above the treeline. It sure is nice to be up high again. I got in about 25 miles.
There was a beautiful sunrise this morning as I started my ridge walk. Then I dropped down into a valley where I walked next to a river for a bit. Next I climbed back up on my way to Hart’s Pass. Unfortunately, that’s when I felt sick. I walked a short distance further but called it quits at the pass. Light rain this morning and by the afternoon it was coming down fairly hard. Now it’s just cold and miserable, but I’m under a tree and somewhat out of the rain.
Somehow and someway I made it to Canada! I got to Monument 78 just a little after 7 and after 33 miles. I didn’t feel well for most of the day and from late afternoon on I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. So I put my head down and made tracks. Not in a thousand years was that how I imagined myself making it to the border. Right now it feels so good to be lying down. Under different circumstances it would have been a real nice walk today. I went by 3 Fools Peak and Hopkins Lake, which were both real nice- also some nice views of Mount Baker. I went over so many passes I lost count. It was brutally cold today when the wind was blowing, but thankfully there was no rain. At the monument I took time to read everyone’s thoughts about making it all the way here- I think I’m somewhere between the tenth and fifteenth thru-hiker to finish. And now I’m camped just off the trail- in Canada by all of 20 feet at around 4300 feet. And tomorrow it’ll all end.
I had about 8 miles to Manning Park this morning. I had one wet ford but other than that it was a nice and easy walk. Right before highway 3 I met a guy named Dennis who had just completed section hiking the entire PCT. He was excited and so proud of himself and it was nice to talk with him. The impressive thing about him is he was a recipient of two new lungs about a year ago. I had breakfast at the Manning Park Lodge and from there began hitching east. Two old-timers from the Abbotsford area, on their way to Saskatchewan took me all the way to Cranbrook. So now I’m visiting my friends Yen and Lulu and either tomorrow or the next day I will be homeward bound. Unfortunately, I did forget my camera, that I had been using since Stehekin, at Monument 78- so I won’t have any pictures of the last section.