Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I did it!

That's right, September 25 at about 10:30am, I reached Canada! 5 months, 2,656 miles, and 6 million steps from when I left Campo on April 23. What an amazing feeling that was to stand at the northern border of the US, after walking across the country all the way from the southern border. Even the rain that pounded down on me that entire day, could not dampen the excitement and success that I felt. Over 5 months, I've experienced pain, sweat, tears, blood, fear, loneliness, cold, hot, thirst, hunger, and exhaustion. However, the good will always out-weigh the bad and I have no regrets about the trip; I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

So I left the Dinsmores near Skykomish, with Jimbrick, Wiz, and Buttercup. Unfortunately, I lost Cricket when he left, due to the fact that I wanted to let my shin splints heal up a bit. Cricket did achieve his goal of hitting the border on September 24, so he could make it to school on the 27. Congrats man, wish I could have been there with ya! Anyways, I hiked with those three from Stevens Pass all the way to Stehekin. We had a great time together as we wandered through some of the most rugged terrain on the entire trip, Glacier Peak Wilderness. It was beautiful and fortunately it only rained on us about half the time ha! That's good luck, for Washington anyways! My shins also felt great the entire way and never gave me any more problems. Despite the wet weather, this made the rest of the trip much more enjoyable.

When the four of us got to Stehekin, I decided to get my resupply box and get right back on trail. I was aching to get this last stretch done as quickly as possible and go home to see my friends and family. Jimbrick, Wiz, and Buttercup wanted to stay in town for a bit, so I hit the trail alone once again. The weather continued to worsen over the next few days, as I began pushing big 30+ mile days to get to the border. The north Cascades up above Rainy Pass blew me away with stunning beauty and sheer ruggedness. I set myself up to hit the northern terminus on the morning of the 23rd and passed Balls and Sunshine that morning as they returned from the border to Harts Pass. I got to the border, spent some time celebrating (alone unfortunately), and began the 30 mile trek back to Harts Pass myself. I camped that night with about 14 miles left to do in the morning, to Harts Pass where I would hitch down to Mazama or Winthrop to call my dad for a ride. I never saw it coming as I went to bed that last night, too excited to think about what might go wrong...

That night it got very cold, one of the coldest nights I'd had on the entire trail. It rained all night, up until morning when I awoke very excited that I did not hear the pitter-patter of the water hitting my tent. But when I opened my tent, I found the rain hadn't stopped, it had just turned to snow! I gathered my stuff up very quickly and began the journey back to Harts Pass. As I climbed higher towards the pass, the snow came down harder, and began to accumulate more and more on the ground. When I finally arrived at Harts Pass later that morning, there was already 3 inches of snow on the ground and it continued to pound down hard. 2 days prior, I had passed through the area and seen 50+ cars there with people camping, hunting, and hiking. That morning however, there was no one.

I freaked out. I'd expected it to be an easy hitch from Harts Pass down to the highway. I certainly didn't expect it to be snow covered and deserted! Everything I had was soaked from the days of rain and now I was cold and shaking and very alone in a near whiteout. I did not have enough food to hike down to the highway and I was not prepared for conditions this cold and brutal. I found the outhouse and cowered inside to escape the elements. I broke down in the bathroom as I shivered and contemplated what I would do. I really had no idea, I just wanted to go home so bad! 2 1/2 hours passed as I sat helpless in the outhouse, when I heard the sound of an engine. I ran out of the bathroom, waving my arms in the air as a truck crawled up through the snow on its way down the mountain. 4 older gentlemen sat inside and I asked if I could possibly get a ride to the highway, the town, anywhere where I could make a phone call. They generously made room for me and I was saved! These 4 men had been up looking at old rusty mining equipment when they'd realized this was the not the day to be up there and decided to turn around. I truly think this was a god-send and someone was definitely watching over me, as we passed no one else on the way down the long, winding forest road. Carl, the driver, invited me back to his house in Winthrop where his wife Roxy fed us, laundered my clothes, and provided a hot shower as I waited for my dad to pick me up. Even though this was their first time bringing a hiker home, Carl and Roxy are true angels that were there for me during one of the toughest times on my entire trip. I am so grateful to them!

So here I sit at home, in a chair, with a roof, freshly showered, full of good food, and a television making noise in the background. As much as I love all these luxuries, I must admit that I miss it already. The trail was my home for 5 months and the thru-hikers were my family. I had the most amazing time on this trip, I can't even begin to find the words to explain my experiences. Keep following, as I have a wealth of photos still to get posted on here and in the next week or two I will be working on a sort of post-trip closing post. I have a lot of things I'd like to say about my adventures, the places I've been, the conditions I traveled in, the people I met, the help I received, and hopefully some great advice to the thru-hikers of the future. Thanks for following everyone, I love you all! -HeadBanger

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Walking in the rain...

Hey guys, I'm currently at the Dinsmore's Hiker Haven in Baring, WA. And man am I glad to be here, because is pouring rain outside. Only had about 10 miles to do this morning to make it down to Steven's Pass. When we reached the trail head, Cricket and I had just planned on hitching up HWY 2 to Skykomish or Baring, but trail angel Tom was already there waiting to give any needy hikers a ride. Thanks Tom!

We have been so incredibly lucky with our weather here in Washington. It has generally been in the 60 to 70 degree range everyday with sunny skies and decently warm nights. However, that all changed after leaving Snoqualmie Pass on Wednesday. The first night out, it began raining and never really stopped. Not only has it been raining, but the temperatures also dropped considerably. This all makes hiking fairly miserable and I look forward to the nights when I can climb in my warm comfy sleeping bag and forget about the cold rain that pounds my tent. I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later, after all, this is Washington right?

As if the rain and cold wasn't bad enough, I'm now dealing with a new injury. Just in the last two weeks, I've began to experience shin splints. They typically like to begin bothering me sometime in late afternoon and make the pounding footsteps very painful. I've had them on both legs now, although it typically only hurts on one leg at a time. It started in my right leg before White Pass, however after a night of rest I no longer noticed it. Now it's mostly been my left shin, causing me pain about every other day this week. The pain usually goes away after I've slept for the night and given my legs some time off, but today it still hurt when I woke up. This is an injury I've never felt before and I wonder why it decided to start acting up now! You'd think by this point my body would be tough as steel after 2400 miles of training. Well at least I'm here at the Dinsmore's, time for a day of rest and I'll assess the pain in the morning...

Cricket and I spent the week walking through the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, which I hear is extremely beautiful. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see a lot of scenery. Just clouds and rain for us and the occasional view of a turquoise colored lake. The terrain is becoming more and more rugged as we get deeper into the North Cascades. Next up we'll enter the Henry M Jackson Wilderness and then the much loved Glacier Peak Wilderness. I am so happy to be getting closer to the completion of my goal and the end of a very long trip. This is no time for new injuries, as I am less than 200 miles from the border. This last week has left me with very low morale and I hope I can turn that around in the next few days. So here's hoping the weather gets better and the injuries subside. We'll see you soon guys! -Headbanger

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Greetings from Seattle followers! I made it to Snoqualmie Pass and Cricket's aunt picked us up and took us back to her place to eat, shower, and do laundry. So incredibly awesome, thanks Boo! We've had great weather all week, right up until we got into overcast and slightly rainy Seattle ha, classic! Spent all week hiking with Cricket and sometimes with Balls and Sunshine. Unfortunately in this last section, we spent quite a bit of time walking through clear cuts, which are visually displeasing and very hot due to the lack of shade. However, the trail magic has made it so much better! My dad at White Pass, sodas from Shrek at Chinook Pass, donuts and soda from Magic Man on a logging road, chili dogs from Not-Phil's Dad on a forest road, and a random soda cache cooler before Snoqualmie! Finally Cricket's aunt to top it all off, trail angels are so awesome! So just two more stops till
Canada, Skykomish and then Stehekin. Looking forward to the Dinsmores in Skykomish, just 4 days away!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

No goats, but lots of rocks...

Hey followers, this time I'm coming to you from White Pass Ski Area in WA. My dad came out to meet me here for the weekend and ended doing some trail magic. Last night we sat around eating great food with Balls, Sunshine, HalfFast, RedBlaze, Scouts Honor, and Cricket. It's been a good time, but I can't stay long, gotta move on.

Two days ago we entered the the Goat Rocks Wilderness, WOW! It was almost like being in the rugged high Sierras again, however with a very lush-green Cascades feel. The scenery was absolutely amazing, with Mt Adams behind us and Mt Rainier in front of us. The trail followed the top of a ridgeline for just a few miles, across very loose rock, with steep drop-offs on either side. I kind of felt like a mountain goat walking along that path, perched up above jagged rock and steep snow slopes. It's a hard call to make, but I think I must say this was my favorite stretch of trail thus-far on the trip. So awesome!

When I left Cascade Locks, I spent the first night alone, and then ran into Scouts Honor and Cricket the second day out. I've had a great time spending the week with these guys, through the longest stretch in WA. The mosquitoes have begun to die out, however the black flies have been biting and annoying. We went through the Mt Adams wilderness and skirted the base of the huge volcano for a few days, which provided classic North Cascades scenery with beautiful green meadows and abundant wildflowers everywhere.

So next stop will be Snoqualmie Pass, a little less than 100 miles away. This trip is winding down as I get closer to the Canadian border, my goal since the beginning. Although this has really been the adventure of a lifetime, I'm tired of walking. I love this trail and it has taught me so much about nature, people, and myself, but I'm ready to come home. There's no doubt I will miss the social aspect of the trail, the amazing people I've met and spent time with. Something about the thru-hiker culture can really make you feel at home on the trail. The people on trail are genuinely good-people and I've made some awesome friends that will go back to various places all across the world, and I will miss them dearly. Thru-hikers are a special breed, I love you guys!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hey guys and hello Washington! Ha, yep I'm back in my home state. This has been a crazy week and I'm just so stoked to finally be so close to home. I left Sisters OR on Tuesday with a plan to do 140 miles to get to Cascade Locks OR by friday, before the Post Office closed for the weekend. JimBrick, Buttercup, and Wiz had the same plan, so we did 42 miles the 1st day, 45 miles the 2nd, and after 10 miles the next day I could go no more. My feet had given up, so I hitched from Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, down to Cascade Locks to take some well needed zeros. Spent the weekend with my Mom at PCT Trail Days and had a blast. Unfortunately, that 44 mile section I missed is now closed due to a wildfire, so it will have to wait until another day. I'm excited to spend the weekend in White Pass with my dad and then push on for the finish line! I'm so worn out physically/mentally, but will be so
sad it see this trip end. This has been my life for 5 months and I love it! I am Hiker Trash. -Banger

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hey followers, I'm in Sisters, OR, about 160 miles from the WA border! This past week has been really spectacular as we came through the Diamond Peak, Three Sisters, and Mt. Jefferson wilderness areas. We've spent much of our time walking through really beautiful and rugged lava flows, with towering peaks overlooking us. The scenery here has blown me away and I just gotta say I really love the Cascades! Wildflowers and huckleberries line the trail, making the hiking so incredibly pleasent. The mosquitoes have been thick and so annoying, but hopefully they will start to die out as we get later into the season. Spent the week hiking with Boots, Bubbles, Happy Meal, JimBrick, Wiz, and Buttercup. They've all been great company and I really spending time with them all. So about 1 week and I'll be in WA, which is just so exciting! Ready to complete this adventure and come home. I miss all you
guys at home, much love! -Headbanger

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hey follower, I'm camped tonight on the rim of the beautiful Crater Lake! Watched the sun set and will wake up to an awesome sunrise. This is a priceless campsite and I am stoked to be here. Love this stuff!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hey followers! That's right, I'm now in an entirely new state, Oregon! I have to say, it still looks quite a bit like northern California, but it feels different ha. California took 3 1/2 months to get through and I hope to be through Oregon in 2 weeks or less, what we call "The Oregon Challenge". Cali blew me away with its diversity and beauty, and took me for a ride I will never forget! But now I move on to the much gentler state of Oregon and soon after I'll be home in Washington. I've spent much of the week hiking with Happy Meal and Boots and will probably continue on out of Ashland with those dudes. Next stop will be the very awesome Crater Lake, which I am super stoked about. It hasn't been easy battling returning knee problems, sickness, and poison oak rash, but I'm lovin this trip anyway! Thanks so much for the comments and encouragement guys, even though I can't always reply,
I read them and they are such a boost. Keep following, I'm coming home!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hello followers from the huge town of Castella, CA! Nah, just kidding it's actually nothing more than a Post Office and Gas station on Interstate 5, right outside Castle Crags State Park. This last week has included some really amazing volcanic scenery, proof we're now in the Cascades! We saw geysers and a boiling mud lake, as we skirted around Mt Lassen in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Then the view changed to Mt Shasta as we head west to skirt around it's base. WOW, what an impressive mountain Shasta is! It has been incredibly hot everyday here and the long climbs in and out of valleys seem to take all day. Also the poison oak is everywhere along trail and I dance to avoid it. I did however manage to catch up to Holden, but have once again lost him after a few days of hiking together. I've been keeping a fairly steady pace of about 30 miles a day and even had a 46 a few days ago when
we continued on to hike the waterless Hate Creek Rim at night! I'm tired but still pushin. -Banger

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Halfway to Canada!

That's right followers, 1325 miles! I am officially half way to Canada, after leaving Mexico over 3 months ago. Wahooooo! Haha, it is so incredibly hard to believe that I just walked farther and have seen more of America than many people will in their whole lifetime. I gotta say, I love this country and all the amazing people I have met along the way. This is America and I am proud to be an American, truly! I'll admit I wonder about the decisions we make as a country, but I think we have some of the most beautiful land in the entire world :) Ok, so enough of the patriotic mumbo jumbo, time to talk about this last week on the PCT...

Once again, I hit the trail with Chris and Nicole after leaving Sierra City. Happy Whale was awaiting a package that had not arrived and stayed behind to receive it. The mountains had become much less rugged and were slowly starting to turn into more sort of forested rolling hills. No longer were we in the rugged High Sierras, but we were now in the transition from Sierra to Cascades. Also, we were once again having to think about our water sources and how plentiful and clean they would be. I have to be honest, I haven't really treated or filtered any water since we entered the Sierras after Kennedy Meadows. It has been so amazing to fill our water bottles from runoff and creeks that came directly from snow! Now water was becoming more scarce and slightly less pure as we descended in elevation.

That next day after leaving Sierra City, we were surprised to see Happy Whale run up to us in early morning. He had left the same day we had, just later in the afternoon and still caught us. Also this time we were joined by JimBrick, who we'd done a bit of hiking with up until Sierra City. We did encounter more patches of snow along the way, but not enough to make us wander around looking for trail. We spent an amazing night at Honker Pass, a trail angel home on Bucks Lake. They fed us great food and got us back on trail early in the morning. Thanks Honker Pass!

Next we rolled into a very small place called BeldenTown. The guidebook recommends not stopping here, saying it is "creepy". However the trail goes right past the resort and provided an opportunity to get a meal at the restaurant. Apparently this tiny resort on the Feather River is host to insane, out-of-control raves through the summer. Thousands of people come here from the bay area to party for days at a time and escape the city. There was no rave the night we were there and although I could definitely see the "creepiness" in the place, the people were quite nice and hiker-friendly.

The next day, we lost track of Nicole and Chris and Happy Whale, so JimBrick and I pushed on towards Chester, CA. It was really neat to see Mt. Lassen come into view and watch the terrains slowly become very volcanic. We have now basically hiked the entire length of the Sierra Nevada's and are entering the great Cascades. Exciting!!!

JimBrick and I broke camp this morning and set off towards the halfway point. Along the way we ran into team Canada, Lighthouse, Broken Record, and Chewy. We also met up with Chili Dog and Seahorse and began the milestone celebrations. What a great feeling to know we were halfway, but a very incomplete feeling at the same time to know we still had halfway to go haha! It took over 3 months to get to this point and now I have the next half to do in about 2 months. No prob though, I just hiked through the tallest mountains in the lower 48 ha!

So now I am in Chester, CA, staying with some very generous trail angels. I wonder what kind of adventures the rest of the trail has lined up for me to experience. It will be such an amazing feeling to cross the state line and finally be in a different state, Oregon! Just a couple weeks there and then on to my favorite state and home, Washington! I've now got deadline to finish, due to my little Sister's wedding on October 1st. It will be a crunch to be finished by then, but I do not want to stay out longer than that anyways. The trail has become my temporary home and I love it out here, but I miss friends and family in Spokane so much. This is the hardest thing I've ever done and I chose the worst snow year in a long, long time to do it. However, it will make it that much cooler to say "yeah, I hiked the PCT in 2011. Kind of a big deal..." Haha!

Just want to throw some shout-outs to the amazing Hiker-trash I've spent some time with in the last few weeks: Chris and Nicole of course, love you guys. Hope we can meet up again at some point down the trail. Happy Whale, you helped me through the toughest part of the whole trip bro, couldn't have done it without you. JimBrick, I've loved our recent time together and the opportunity to pick your brain about Australia and share my knowledge of stereotypical America ha! Lighthouse, Broken Record, and Chewy, our friendly neighbors to the north. I've also spent some time socializing with Boots, Bubbles, Chili Dog, Seahorse, Tum Tum, Seahorse, Push, Outlaw, Sparrow, HotRod, and Daybreaker. Keep truckin hikers, we're gonna make it! Keep it true, red white and thru!

Well that is about all, make sure to go check out the 2 new sets of pictures I just put up. Until next time guys, thanks for the support. Keep following, love you all! -Banger

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hey guys, just about to leave Sierra City and get back on trail. These last few weeks have been so incredibly beautiful, yet very challenging! We've spent countless hours lost in snow looking for trail and trying to get back on track. Had a great time in Yosemite and a well needed rest day in South Lake Tahoe. The trail took us through Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley, and SugarBowl ski areas. I'm now in what is considered Northern California and the last 20 miles into Sierra City were basically snow free! This is a major morale booster because the snow has been so mentally depressing. It's good to be following dirt trail again and just walking more care free without being lost. At the moment I'm almost a month behind my original schedule due to the record snowfall in the High Sierra. Time to enter hustle mode and get to Canada before the snow in the Cascades starts. I am so anxious to
finish the trail and just get home. Love you guys, thanks for following!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Just leaving Bridgeport, CA on

Just leaving Bridgeport, CA on our way to South Lake Tahoe, CA. Broke 1000 miles, sweet!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Adventures in the High Sierra

Alright guys, it's finally time for a full update, and this is going to be a long one. I haven't been able to get to a computer and do a full update since leaving Kennedy Meadows and a lot has happened since then. A quick overview of the last few weeks:

  • June 10- Left Kennedy Meadows with Happy Whale, Flying Fish, Miscreant, Chris, and Nicole

  • June 12- Entered Sequoia National Park, started hitting heavy snow about Trail Pass area

  • June 13- Whale and I spent almost 4 hours lost in snow on the wrong side of a ridge

  • June 15- Attempted to summit Mt Whitney and failed

  • June 16- Crossed highest point on PCT, Forester Pass (elev 13,180 feet), entered Kings Canyon National Park

  • June 17 thru 19- Resupplied and rested in Bishop, CA

  • June 22- Happy Whale fell water in during S. Fork Kings River ford

  • June 23- Crossed Mather Pass

  • June 25- Crossed John Muir Pass, entered beautiful Evolution Valley

  • June 26- Evolution Creek ford

  • June 27- Bear Creek ford, got to Vermillion Valley Resort

  • July 2- Fish Creek ford (alternate trail), got to Mammoth Lakes, CA

So after leaving Kennedy Meadows, we immediately began climbing up into the Sierras. Our packs were the heaviest they had ever been yet, due to Bear Canister, Ice Axe, and large amount of food for the long stretch. We knew it was a record snow, but we all underestimated the time it would take us to get to Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR).

As we came to find out, snow travel is very slow going. When we're hiking in snow, we rely on the footprints of hikers in front of us to guide the way. Sometimes we catch glimpses of dirt trail that immediately become covered in another snow bank. Unfortunately, lost people leave footprints too, so you just kind of hope that some of those footprint belong to hikers using a GPS. For the most part when we get lost, we can recover the trail within 10-20 minutes. Spending a whole afternoon lost though, is very overwhelming and uncomfortable. It's good to know for sure that you're at least somewhere near the trail and the rest can be navigated using maps and landmarks.

When I came out for this trip, I found I knew very little about snow travel. I've skiied and snowboarded for years, but never really walked on snow. Also, this snow is very different from the snow I spend my winters in up in the northwest. The snow up here in the mountains is very wet and heavy. In the cold morning, it becomes a frozen mass that is very slick and extremely unforgiving. It's hard to walk on, especially on steep slopes and uneven terrain. By the end of the afternoon, the snow become very soft, sort of a mashed potatoes consistency. This snow is exhausting to walk in, as each step takes so much more effort as you sink in. On top of that, pockets of air form around warming rocks and trees under the snow and soft snow allows for postholing: when your foot breaks through the snow in a pocket of air. This can be quite painful and extremely frustrating for a tired hiker. We spent about two and a half weeks total, hiking about 90% of each day over snow covered trail. I'm sick of snow, seriously.

I have something to admit: I'm afraid of heights. Actually, more so afraid of falling. I don't mind heights when I feel safe, but these past few weeks have been more sketchy than safe. Mountain passes out here tend to expose you to situations where you're trekking across a very steep slope in snow, that drops down a long way. I've become very good at preventing myself from looking down the dropoffs and instead concentrating on making sure my footsteps are correctly and securely placed. We carry ice axes to use a device to plant into snow for security while moving and also to use as a self-arrest device should we start sliding down a snow covered slope. They also make a really great trowel to dig holes for taking care of business, haha. We all discussed it and concluded that Mather Pass (elev. 12,100 feet) was the scariest and most technical of all the passes. It included a trek up the side of a large snow bowl, on the opposite side from where the real PCT/JMT actually was. After some rock scrambling, it was a short trek across a near vertical snow slope, to be concluded by a climb up and over a 5 foot cornice! I guess if there is one thing that I really look forward to when we're making our way towards another high mountain pass, it's the fact that there is a whole new mountain valley on the other side. This new valley will hold all sorts of amazing new scenery and crazy challenges. Plus, the views from a mountain pass are breathtaking!

A quick word about Mt Whitney. That mountain is terrifying as hell and gives me nightmares haha. To make a long story short, Whale and I attempted an early summit to catch the sunrise up on top. After rock scrambling in between short segments of snow chute covered near vertical trail, we found ourselves just below the summit surround by jagged spires too vertical to get get around. After we climbed back down the loose shifting boulders, the sun had already risen and we went for round 2. After once again pulling ourselves up over rough boulders a couple thousand feet, I couldn't do it anymore. The height we had climbed too on the unstable rock was too much for me and fear got the best of me. I made the decision to turn back and left Whale to summit alone. That was just about the scariest situation I've been in yet and although I kick myself for not making the climb, I'm at least glad I gave it a shot. I am not a rock climber.

Water. In the desert, it was scarce. We would walk long distances on waterless stretches and have to carry enough to drink. I'd love to say that up here in the Sierras, water isn't a problem. I'd love to say that we don't worry about water. But that would be entirely false! Don't get me wrong, we have plenty of water to drink. It's everywhere. A record snow fall year, with high early summer temperatures has caused a huge surplus of water. However, large amounts of water have contributed to raging creeks and rivers. In the backcountry, there are very few bridges over these out-of-control torrents. And some of these creek and river fords have been down right terrifying! We've been crossing dozens of these a day, most just small snow runoff streams we walk carelessly through. For others, we'll team up for stability and cross in groups. When crossing the S. Fork of the King River one late afternoon, Happy Whale went down in the water. He somehow managed to throw his very wet pack back up on shore and drag himself out of the ice cold water. He did however lose one his trekking poles in the water. This was a very situation for him and a real wake up call about our crossing strategies. Meadows are flooded, rivers are overflowing, and the trail becomes a stream bed frequently. It seems like our shoes are never dry anymore, even frozen solid in the cold mornings. Nothing like having to put on one solid piece of very cold boot at 5am. Brrr...

Had a really great time at VVR. We've had absolutely amazing weather these last few weeks, nothing but blue skies and warm temps during the day. The day we got to VVR, a storm moved in a dumped rain/snow on the surrounding area. This worked out great, as we just waited out the storm for a day and a half at the resort and chilled with many other hikers. Vermillion Valley Resort sits at the end of Lake Thomas A. Edison, basically out in the middle of nowhere. It was so much fun to hang with other hikers, eating good food, resting, and sharing crazy "I almost died" stories. Some of the other hikers we chilled with were Thumper and Stumbling Goat, Rhino, Eggman, Pellet, Mij, Freerange and Beav. I made the mistake of leaving food in my tent while staying here and caught a chipmunk that had chewed through the bug net of my tent and gotten into to some of my supplies. I used to think chipmunks were cute, now I would use some choice words to describe them.

In addition to an ice axe, we also carry bear canisters (BearVault). These are required for backcountry travelers in the national parks. They're basically a large plastic container with a locking lid, that holds about 5 days worth of food. We like to bitch and moan about carrying them due to the fact that we're all ounce counters and they weigh 2lbs 9oz. Really though, they definitely provide piece-of-mind that you won't lose your food to a bear. We haven't had any bear problems yet though, haven't even seen a bear. I figure I should be entitled to at least one bear sighting while I have to a carry a canister. We've spent the last few weeks mostly staying above 10,000 feet and still way above snow line, but we're just now finally starting to drop back down into non-snow covered valleys where the bears will be out. Also now that we're lower, the mosquitoes are starting to show up. They're only going to get worse too as we head north and I don't look forward to the mental insanity while I cloud myself in DEET. I do look forward to confidently following many miles of visible dirt trail, knowing that I am in fact on track.

I've spent the majority of my time in the high Sierras hiking with an awesome guy named Happy Whale, from Arcata CA. We've also spent a lot of time hiking with a couple from Big Bear CA, Nicole and Chris. Other peeps Whale and I have hiked with on occasion in the Sierras include Flying Fish, Miscreant, Wired, Blister, Top Shelf, SpeedBump, Mad Hatter, Liz, Meow Meow, Funnion, SkinnyD, Pine, PoohBear, Whiz, Buttercup, and WetSmoke.

This is my first time ever spending time in the Sierra Nevadas of Calfornia. Wow! These are mountains. Enormous, rugged, beautiful mountains. I'm not great with words and don't really know where to begin to describe them. You've got to just click the "pictures" tab at the top of my page and see them for yourselves. It's great when you can basically just hold up your camera anywhere and take a great picture. So Beautiful! Right now Whale, Nicole and Chris, and I are staying in Mammoth Lakes, CA. Happy Whale's mom was nice enough to drive up from Tehachapi, get us a place to stay, feed us, and just generally take care of us like moms do best. Thank you so much Mamma Happy Whale! This is a really cool little ski town and there are still people shredding on the mountain before it closes tomorrow. I hate them all. Super jealous they get to ride...

Thanks for following guys. Check out those new pics and let me know if you got any questions

Friday, July 1, 2011

Don't worry followers, I am alive and safe! Haha, it's been really tough these last few weeks to get updates posted, mostly due to the remote wilderness and lack of computers. I'm camped about 5 miles outside of Mammoth, CA right now, will head into town bright and early in the morning. It has been an intense few weeks that really tested the limits of myself as a hiker both physically and even more so mentally. Mountain passes covered in snow brought out my fear of heights and raging rivers swelling with runoff water presented terror I've never known before. The beauty of these glorious mountains comes with a price and makes even the most experienced hikers worry about the challenges that lie ahead. But for the most part, the worst is behind us and we've been conditioned for whats to come. I'm excited to get into Mammoth tomorrow and let my body and mind rest. Hopefully I will get the
opportunity to get a full blog update done with the details of my adventure. Thanks 4 following guys.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Snow, snow, snow! Wow, there is a lot of snow in the Sierras! Ha, hey guys I'm now in Bishop, CA. As usual, nothing has really gone as planned this last week, since I left Kennedy Meadows. Record snowfall this year has really made hiking through the highest elevations of the PCT very tough. I've spent countless hours sliding on hard snow, postholing through soft snow, walking over unstable ice bridges, fording through raging creeks, lost on snow covered trail, and many other terrifying situations. Unfortunately, due to treacherous conditions, I was unable to climb Mt Whitney. I did try, but had to turn back when I no longer felt safe. Bummer, but I did make it across Forester Pass (13,180 ft) yesterday, the highest point on the PCT. Very scary and exciting. Look forward to a full blog update tomorrow and maybe some new pics. Thanks guys!

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Snow, snow, snow! Wow, there is a lot of snow in the Sierras! Ha, hey guys I'm now in Bishop, CA. As usual, nothing has really gone as planned this last week, since I left Kennedy Meadows. Record snowfall this year has really made hiking through the highest elevations of the PCT very tough. I've spent countless hours sliding on hard snow, postholing through soft snow, walking over unstable ice bridges, fording through raging creeks, lost on snow covered trail, and many other terrifying situations. Unfortunately, due to treacherous conditions, I was unable to climb Mt Whitney. I did try, but had to turn back when I no longer felt safe. Bummer, but I did make it across Forester Pass (13,180 ft) yesterday, the highest point on the PCT. Very scary and exciting. Look forward to a full blog update tomorrow and maybe some new pics. Thanks guys!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gateway to the Sierras!

Hey followers,
I'm sitting here at Tom's Internet Cafe, a trailer in Kennedy Meadows that trail angel tom has filled with computers for hikers. In fact, Tom not only hosts hikers by letting them camp at his place, he also provides food, water, and even movies in an outdoor theater at night. Really great place, loving this trail magic. We're just a couple hundred yards from the Kennedy Meadows General Store, which is basically all this town is. Lots of hikers here, groups have been taking off daily to begin the long High Sierras stretch.

Afer leaving Tehachapi, we continued our long slow climb in the very windy mountains. Had another morning of rain after leaving a water cache, which was empty and we had been counting on it. Busted some 13 more miles to get to the next source. The mountains have been changing very quickly and it's definitely starting to feel like the Sierras. There was trail magic via Mamma Moab and Tom at Walker Pass and killed a few hours there drinking soda and beer and eating great food. Leaving Walker Pass was when the mountains really started to change and I found myself stuck out on a ridge, alone after leaving the trail magic late in the day. I had passed the marked campsites without knowing it and by 8pm, I found a very small spot perched on the ridge only big enough for just my sleeping bag. Terribly exposed all night to the wind, I woke up in thick clouds and misting rain. Not fun, but I met up with some other hikers later in the day and kept pushing. Two days ago, Happy Whale and I tried a 4am start which actually became more of a 5:50am start haha, to do the last 21 miles into Kennedy Meadows.

I think I will leave Kennedy Meadows tomorrow morning and head for the high Sierras. The last 20 miles in KM were extremely beautiful as the mountains changed quickly and we could see jagged, rocky, snow covered peaks in the far distance. It was so amazing to see those mountains off in the distance and yet very scary and surreal knowing we will be up there in a week. Word is that from here to the Mt. Whitney portal is fairly clear and easy. After that is when we get really high up and hit the highest point on trail, Forester Pass. Of course I will also be summiting Mt. Whitney that first day, to stand on top of the lower 48 yay! It's about 11 days between here and VVR, by far the longest stretch of the trail, through the most dangerous conditions on the trail. I'm doing it!

A little about some more of the hikers I've been with. Unfortunately Holden, who I've been hiking with the last few weeks, took time off in tehachapi to fly home and see his girl for a week. Same with General Zod, who went to the coast for a week with his. I lost Seattle Seth at Walker Pass, when he hitched in to Lake Isabella. So I've done a bit of solo hiking and camping for the past week or two and also met some great new people I've been hiking with. Happy Whale, Chris and Nicole, Chili, Pounder, 12 ounce, Gangster Rap, Collin, Stag, and One Step have been leap-frogged with the last few weeks. Here at Tom's, many old faces like Picker, Ben, Sam, Slapshot, Josh, Wandering Dot, David, and Rambo. I think we've got a pretty solid group heading out tomorrow. People have been just amazing so far, it's very easy to meet friends when you all have a common goal ha.

Don't know when I'll get a chance to post pictures. My camera cord is in my bounce which I accidentally mailed to the wrong stop and am in a sort of pickle now trying to figure out how to get it. Phone charger is in the box too and just some other things I didn't need but wanted. The logistics of this trail like packages, food, gear, and trying to plan it all so it works out, are very stressful and expensive. I love it when I'm just out on the trail, walking from one destination to another. It's great to just think and watch the incredible views pass by. I'm starting to feel very comfortable being out on the trail and in camp. And even though I miss you all at home greatly, the homesickness has passed. I still worry about things like water, food, shelter, and now snow and bears, but life is more simple here.

Well thanks for following friends, I love you all. This is a long stretch so you may not hear from me for awhile, I'll be okay. The high Sierras basically define what the PCT is all about and it will be amazing. Thanks guys

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kennedy Meadows

That's right, made it to Kennedy Meadows, gateway to the awesome Sierras! Last week from Tehachapi was very dry and rugged, but oh so beautiful. Gonna take a few days here before leaving for the High Sierras, the toughest part of the whole trip. Stay tuned for a full update! Thanks guys

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Got a few journal entries posted today. Please be patient, it'll will take me awhile to get them all typed up! Just click on the journal tab above and follow the link to my postholer account.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tehachapi, CA

Hey guys,
let me start this post off with a question: How many times a year do you think it rains in the Mojave Desert? Well my guess is not many. I can honestly say that I was there when it did though! Not only did it rain, but frigid cold winds whipped across the valley. It was miserable and not the desert experience I was expecting.

It started when we left Hiker Town on Sunday night. Hiker Town is a great little stop right at the beginning of the Mojave Desert stretch, where hikers can relax, get water, and even stay the night. We got there in mid-afternoon and just stayed a few hours to relax before we took off to night hike the 20 mile stretch through the Mojave that follows the LA aqueduct. We hiked until about midnight and decided we too tired to go any further, so we found a great spot to lay out our bags and space camp (formally known as cowboy camping, but we renamed it because we are not cowboys and as you lay in your bag you look up at space, lol). I woke up at 2:30am to a slight sprinkle of rain on my face, which was strange because there were no clouds in the sky for miles. The wind was just howling so much, it was pushing it over. I fell asleep and awoke once again about 3:00am to full on rain, soaking my goose-down sleeping bag. So I got up and somehow managed to pitch my tent in record time, in the strong winds. Morning rolled around and the rain nor the wind had stopped yet, but we got up anyway and began hiking again. It was terribly cold and there was fresh snow from the night in the mountains, no more than 1,000ft above us. It rained on and off all day, making for a long, miserable, cold Mojave adventure. Honestly, an adventure I'd like to never experience again!

Don't fear though, I did survive and made it to Tehachapi CA. A full service desert town, where I will resupply for the next 6 days or so that it will take for me to hike to Kennedy Meadows: The gateway to the Sierras! My mind is a mess at the moment, trying to figure out how my resupplies will work up in the high Sierras. Many of the supply points are still closed due to record snow fall this year. It's crazy thinking about mass amounts of snow, when I am still here in the desert. There are so many things that can and will go wrong, but I know everything will eventually work out in the end. I'm nervous and excited, just another leg of my adventure...

In my last big post, I mentioned how I think about food constantly. And believe me, that hasn't changed. It is amazing the amount of food a small guy like me can put down with a big hiker appetite. So I wanted to touch on the subject of what I've been eating on the trail. Variety is key when you eat fairly simple food constantly, so I try and mix it up whenever I can. Meals usually consist of one or more of the following items:

  • Pop tarts
  • Hostess Pastries (Honeybuns, Streusel Cakes, etc)
  • Granola w/ dried milk
  • Oatmeal w/ dried fruits
  • Carnation Instant Breakfast Shakes
  • Candy Bars (Snickers, Payday, Baby Ruth)
  • Fruit Snacks
  • Granola Bars
  • Clif Bars
  • Drink Mixes (Gatorade, Kool-aid, Iced tea)
  • Candy (Skittles, Gummies)
  • Crackers
  • Cookies
  • Trail Mix
  • Bread (Tortillas, flatbread, bagels)
  • Cheese (Sticks, blocks, pre-sliced)
  • Meat (Summer sausage, Salami, Jerky)
  • Crackers
  • Candy
  • Knorr Instant Sides (formally lipton, come in varieties of rice, pasta, and noodles.)
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Meat (Tuna, Salmon, Spam, Bacon bits)
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Candy
The nice thing about burning so many calories, is that I eat whatever I want, as much as I want. The junkier the food, the better, because it usually has more calories. I crave sugars, salts and fats to keep my mood and energy up. Now I'm hungry again just talking about all this great food haha!

Well that is about it for now. Time to do some shopping for my next weeks worth of food and of course get some more grub to eat while I'm here. Can't wait to get back on the trail and begin my last stretch towards the Sierras. Kennedy Meadows will be my last stop in Southern California, and then it's on to Central California. I'm at about mile 560 right now, which puts us just over the 1/5 mark of the entire trip. Time is starting to fly. Thanks for following everyone, I love you and miss you all a lot. Keep up the comments!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Another trail update! I'm cowboy camping in a meadow overlooking the great Mojave Desert. We're at mile 499.6, which means breakfast tomorrow at mile 500!!! Spent two night's at the Saufley's Hiker Heaven, did a 24 mile night hike and spent the last two nights at the Anderson's Casa de Luna. Had an amazing time partying with all the other hikers and just relaxing. It's probably a good thing there aren't a whole lot more stops like those two because they made me weak! But, I still managed to drag my ass back out to the trail and am now hiking with Zod and Seth. In just a couple days I'll be down in the Mojave doing the long, flat, waterless stretch. Another great opportunity to night hike, which I really enjoy through the hot desert sections. Will probably be to either Tehachapi or Mojave by Monday night. Love you all, thanks for following!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hiker Heaven

Hey guys!

First off, thank you everyone for the great comments. Your positive greetings really do help me keep my attitude positive and forward thinking! I started this trip solo, but have come to realize I am in no way alone. There are so many great people back home rooting for me and good friends to hike and share this experience with. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

I'm currently in the small town of Agua Dulce CA, staying at Hiker Heaven ( I really don't know what to say that can truly express how great this place is. The trail angels on this trip have been so wonderful, but the Saufleys really go above and beyond! Check out their website to see how they accommodate hikers and give us a place to call home for a couple well needed days of rest. Amazing...

This last week brought exactly the adventure I'm out here to experience. After leaving Wrightwood, we immediately began the climb of the very forbidding Mt Baden-Powell. What was supposed to be 4 miles of switchbacks turned into 2, after the rest disappeared under dense snow. We began a straight-line shot for the top, kicking steps in and moving very slowing. I have to admit, the danger of slipping and sliding down a couple thousand feet really got my adrenaline pumping and I was having a blast. It was no longer hiking, it was now mountaineering! The beautiful sunny weather was a far cry from the storms we had experienced the week before and I was finally in a good mood. I reached the summit with a group of guys we had met that morning and had lunch on the infamous Mt Baden-Powell summit. What an honor it was for me as an Eagle Scout, to be standing on top of a mountain named after the founder of The Boy Scouts of America! Awesome, to say the least!!!

After leaving Mt Baden-Powell, we began a long, slow descent that would eventually bring us back down into the desert. Once again, we worried about water, the heat, and rattlesnakes. I've been very impressed with the altitude and ruggedness of the mountains here in southern California. I guess when most people think of SoCal, they think of beaches, Hollywood, lots of women, and rappers livin large haha! I however, have seen none of these. Still, I can't get used to the drops down into deserts in between every large mountain range. The Sierras and Cascades are calling my name. And you better believe it when I say I'm on way...

I guess I've sort of failed to mention the wonderful friends that I've made on this trip. I usually hike alone, as do most people out here, but it's been great to share breaks and camps with other wonderful people. Unfortunately, there is a lot of dudes out here haha. Great guys, but just not too many women. I've spent the last few weeks hiking with Holden, a 29 year old guy from New Jersey. He through hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2005, so he's got thru-hiking in his blood. I really enjoy his company and we seem to share similar paces and daily mileage goals. Others have been hiking on and off with us for these weeks too. General Zod from Boulder, CO and Seattle Seth have been great hiking buddies too and I hope they can catch back up with us to continue north. Some of the other people I've met and spent time with include Adam and Forest (Wisconsin?), Asher and Elad (Israel), Matthaeus (Austria), Thano (Missouri?), Slapshot/Ben/Picker/Sam (East Coasters), Crazy K (Tennessee), and many others I've failed to remember. Sorry guys...Lot's of great people and I'm sure there will be many more. I'm sure Holden and I will group up with other hikers in Kennedy Meadows before taking on the Sierras. It will be very dangerous and confusing out there and the more minds you have to think together, the better.

Besides thinking about home, family, and friends, the other dominate thought in my head is food! I constantly think about food, even when I'm eating. At breakfast I think about lunch and snacks, at lunch I think about dinner, and at dinner I think about more dinner haha. It is nearly impossible to physically stomach the 4-5,000 calories we burn each day, so we try to make it up in town with many meals. I started this trip at about 146 pounds and when I weighed myself yesterday, I was down to 138! Everybody out here is losing weight and some definitely can afford to. I'm thinking about writing a miracle weight loss diet book when I return. It will have one page that says "Hike the PCT", thats it.

Well thats about all I can think to write about now, if anyone has other subjects they'd like me to touch on, please leave comments/suggestions/questions. I love all the interest I receive from people and am more than happy to talk about it. Love you guys, you keep me going. I hope you'll hear from me in another 4-5 days. Check out my two new sets of pictures, now back to relaxing.

Once again, I'm back in the desert. However this time, I'm at a true oasis! Welcome to "Hiker Heaven" in Agua Dulce, CA ( Jeff and Donna Saufley are true trail angels, devoting most of thier summers to hosting hikers in a sort of backyard trail camp. There are huge tents with cots, showers, a tv, fire pit, computers w/ internet, garage post office, and rides to REI in north LA. They even supply you with loaner clothes while they do your laundry. It blows my mind to think that they care that much about us "hiker trash". It's good people like the Saufleys that keep us sane through the ups and downs of the trail. There are probably about 20 hikers here at the moment and at any time they can host up to 50. Great to see lots of familiar faces from the last month and even to meet some new friends. Stay tuned tomorrow for a full blog update and two new sets of pictures.
Love you all!

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Waiting for storms to pass

Hello family/friends/followers,
It's been awhile, but it's finally time for a full length update!

I'm currently in Wrightwood CA, a quiet but beautiful little ski town. I'm enjoying what we call a zero day, meaning I'm not hiking any miles, just resting and relaxing. I've been eating lots of great town food as I try to supplement the calories I've burned. There are quite a few hikers in town, although a good chunk of them left this morning to head towards the infamous Mt. Baden-Powel.

Monday night we got caught in a very serious ice/snow storm up in the San Gabriel Mountains at about 8600ft. This is the first time on the trip when I have been cold and seriously concerned about my safety. We got into camp about 5:30pm that night and I quickly set up my tent. As usual, the SoCal wind was absolutely howling, but this time it was very cold. My tent which had been wet from rain the previous nights before, immediately iced up, so I climbed in my sleeping bag to warm. Within a few hours, the storm had engulfed the mountain and began dumping a rain/snow mixture. Throughout the night, the wind managed to push the snow into my tent and everything I had was getting wet. I spent the night cold and praying that my tent would hold up in the 50-60mph and at least keep me somewhat sheltered. In the morning, I packed up quickly and started the 5 mile walk to HWY 2, where we hoped to htich into Wrightwood. Those were the toughest miles I walked yet, as the wind tried to push me off the trail. I hiked through large snow banks, freezing rain, and falling ice chunks from trees. I lost the trail once when we passed through a ski resort, but managed to pick it up again within a half hour and made it to the highway. Unfortunately, that highway was closed, so without a hitch it meant another 5.5mile walk into town. Not a fun day, but I was so grateful to get in and see lots of other "hiker trash" waiting out the storms. From what we hear, this is very unusual weather for this area this time of year.

The physical part of the hike has definately been tough for me. It started with the standard blisters on my feet, which are finally getting nice and tough. However, hiking in rain and snow the last week makes shoes very wet, which has caused a few new blisters to pop up. My knees still give me problems on occasion, but I make sure to elevate and ice them whenever I get the opportunity. Honestly the toughest part of the trip so far has been the mental challenge. It's very hard to put in consecutive high mileage days with constant pain and worry. Some mornings I wake up with very low morale, usually due to bad weather or a hurting body. These days are the toughest, because quitting usualy dominates my thoughts. Comfort is an unfamiliar word on the trail, so it's is such an amazing feeling to get into town where we can shower and sleep in a warm bed.

Despite all this, I honestly have to say I'm still having a blast! I've seen some really great scenery and met some really fantastic people. If you haven't checked out my pictures yet, do so by clicking the "pictures" tab at the top of my blog and following the link on that page.

I also want to talk a little about "trail magic". Along the trail are what we call "trail angels", who provide "trail magic". These are just past thru-hikers or everyday people who open up thier homes to hikers, provide water/soda/food caches in rural areas, or give help to hikers in many other ways. We've already stayed a place called "Mike's hiker shack", were he gave us good water and a place to stay in the middle of the desert. Another woman showed up during a rain storm at the Whitewater Conservancy and treated us with great food, beverages, and medical supplies. We were put up for a rainy night in the Best Western at Cajon Pass, by a lady we met in McDonalds who was very curious about our adventure. Another woman even bought us a round of drinks last night in the "Racoon Saloon", here in Wrightwood. In a few days, we will be in Agua Dulce, where we will stay at the very popular "Saufley's Hiker Heaven". We are so grateful to recieve help from anyone on the trail and they really do make this trip easier for us. Thank you so much Trail Angels!

In a few weeks I will be in the Sierras, which both worries and excites me! I love the high alpine mountains, and although we've spent some time in them here in Southern California, we always end up dropping back down into the desert. There is a lot of talk about snow in the Sierras and the Cascades, but I think I really will feel more at home there. We will have to navigate miles of snow covered trails, cross treacherous river fords, and fight off very hungry wildlife haha. I will also be making a side trip to climb Mt. Whitney and stand on top of the lower 48! I'm definately scared, but also stoked for the exciting adventures to come.

Tommorrow I leave to hike up Mt. Baden-Powel, which if you didn't know, is named after the founder of the Boy Scouts of America. This will be a very special place for me, because the Boy Scouts, along with my Mom and Dad, are very responsible for my love of the outdoors. If it weren't for the camping and backpacking I did as a kid, I don't think I'd be here on this hike right now. It is a very tall mountain though, some 10,000 something feet, and it will be quite the challenge. From what we heard today, it should be alright now that the storms have basically passed.

I really want to thank everyone who has left me comments and words of encouragement! I read them all they really are a great morale booster. It's tough out here and I miss home like crazy. This friday it will be one month that I've been on the trail and thats the longest I've ever been away from friends and family. Thank you so much everyone, I love you all tons! You'll hear from me in 4-5 when I reach Agua Dulce...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

This is the story of 3 dudes who turned the most terrible day into the greatest day yet! Holden, Seth, and Headbanger got thier tents set up last night just as some dark clouds were moving in. The rain started about midnight, along with the standard SoCal wind. When morning rolled around the rain was still pounding, so the three hikers set off in full rain gear. The hiking was miserable, as the three pressed on with soaked socks and shoes. They had busted out 16 miles by lunch, when the skies began to clear. Holden said, "You know guys, if we do 14 more miles we could make it to McDonalds". "That would be a 30 mile day", said Seth. "But we've never done 30 miles in 1 day", said HeadBanger! "We can do it", said Holden. So the dudes pushed on, through howling wind and overgrown bushes. All afternoon they talked of the great food they would get at McD's. With sore feet they made it that 30
miles and indulged in fatty, salty, delicousness. The rain was forgotten, it was now worth it!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hello followers! Sorry I never got to do an update while I was in Big Bear, because the Blogger site was down for maintenance. Anyways, did 28 miles to get to Big Bear on Wednesday, my biggest day yet. Stayed at a hostel there and had an absolute blast! What a great social gathering for hikers and an incredible town in general. Maybe the future town for a ski bum like me? Haha, we'll see...So I'm camped tonight at about mile 314, somewhere near the Mojave Dam. Did 27 miles today so I could get through a 14 mile detour. There is a 15 mile stretch of trail closed due to landslides and a washed out bridge, so a detour was set up with 7 miles of forest service road walking and another 7 of HWY 173 road walking. It sucked! But I made it and am back on the PCT. Still having knee problems which is tough, but other than that I feel good. Oh yeah, a little homesick too! It's been 3 weeks of
hiking and many more to come. Hopefully will be to Wrightwood by Tuesday. Love you guys!

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Friday, May 6, 2011

It's not uncommon to be referred to as "hiker trash" on the trail. In fact, we use it quite a bit among ourselves when we come upon a group of fellow thru hikers. Unfortunately, some towns feel uncomfortable due to that very reason: that we are seen as "hiker trash". Idylwild CA is not one of those places. Banners across the main boulevard welcome PCT hikers to this friendly little outdoor-minded town. This place is fantastic! Slightly overpriced, as any tourist town is, Idywild accomidates to thru-hikers by giving a 5-10% at just about every business here. As much as I love it here though, as usual I'm anxious to get back on the trail in the morning. The mountains here are beautiful and rugged compared to the desert which I do not miss, but will return to shortly (unfortunately). Next stop Big Bear, probably in 5-6 days. Until then, enjoy the pictures I've posted by the clicking the
"pictures" tab above. Love you all, keep up the comments!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hey everyone, another quick trail update: I'm camped tonight in a field of huge boulders at mile 144, about 35 miles outside Idylwild CA. Saw my first rattlesnake today about an hour ago. Tried provoking it with my trekking poles, but it still would rattle haha. Stayed at our first traill angel's place last night: Mike's Hiker Shack! Shack is definately a good term, but man we hikers are grateful. Water is very scarce in these parts and places like Mike's and the water caches are extremely helpful. Feet are still wounded with blisters which is not unsual. It takes a few weeks to develop those tough indian feet. My knees are a little better, sore in the morning but usually work themselves out as I hike. Oh yeah, I got my trailname yesterday...HEADBANGER! Haha, definately a referance to my love of punk rock and heavy metal. Plus I've been playing some mean trekking pole air guitar ha!
Well miss everything back home tons! You'll hear from my in Idyllwild. Rock on followers!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Warner Springs Ranch

Just a quick update here guys, I'm currently at the Warner Springs Ranch at about trail mile 110. Did my biggest day yet on thursday, 24 miles! Now I'm taking a full zero and will hit the trail again early tomorrow. I've been eating some great food and drinking lots of cold beverages. Good stuff. I hope to get some pictures posted when I get to Idylwild in 3 or 4 days. I'll be climbing into 8-9,000 foot mountains so snow is definately a possibility and worries me a bit. Well I'm off, miss home tons! Cya guys...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Well needed half day off!

Hey guys, I'm sitting here at the library in Julian, CA. I got an early start today, leaving camp at about 6:15am. I wanted to get out on the trail while it was still slightly cool, due to the long descent into the desert valley. However, after about an hour, the sun was up and it was already blistering hot. My knees really began to hurt yesterday as I dropped lower and lower out the mountains. Today wasn't much better and it makes every step very tough. I guess the good news is that the blisters on my feet are getting a little better and not so painful. Honestly, my whole body aches, but I've gotten good at ignoring the pain as I move because if I didn't, I would get nowhere. The knee problems are slightly hard to ignore though!

Once I reached the valley floor, there was about a 2 mile walk through exactly what I'd picture a desert to be. Lots of cacti and other prickly plants hanging out over the trail trying to grab at my legs. It was so insanely hot, I'm glad it wasn't any longer. So I got to HWY 78 and I knew I was probably going to hitch into Julian because I am out of suncreen (somehwhat essential out here) and I also wanted to get a few other things. I came up on two other hikers I'd met earlier and we managed to get a hitch within about a half hour, not bad! She was even nice enough to give us a full tour of small, but very pretty Julian CA. The guys talked me into splitting a hotel room (it wasn't hard), so I could take the rest of the day off and shower, eat real food, and ice my knees. I thought I was quite tan, however most it scrubbed off in the shower haha!

It has been really pretty so far in the desert mountains. There is a lot more vegitation that I had imagined and all colors of beautiful wildflowers. Plus, the cacti are just starting to bloom which is a real treat! There was a huge border patrol presence the first day or two and I never saw any illegals, just discarded clothes from them. There are all sorts of birds, lizards, insects, small mammals, and snakes (no rattlers, yet). Although I have yet to see anything large, I did wake up to the terrible screams of an animal for about 10 mins, on the 2nd night. We discussed it in the morning and decided it was probably a bobcat making a kill, possible even a mountain lion.

I have met a ton of really nice people out here, most of which I've leap frogged with the last 3 or 4 days. I usually hike alone which I actually enjoy and always try to camp with others. It's funny, I find I talk to myself quite a bit while I hike and sometimes try to have conversations with the hundereds of skiddish lizards that scurry away when I approach. There has been a lot of very low, overgrown, prickly brush that scrapes the back of my sunburnt legs while I walk down the trail. If these mountains could talk, they'd probably say I have quite the potty mouth haha! Hey, I've got so deal with the pain somehow.

Well I'm off to wander this touristy town and spend some time relaxing before I make the huge climb into the very menacing looking San Felipe Hills tomorrow. It's some 19 miles to the next water source from there, so my pack will be heavy with fluids. I think about home constantly and how much I miss everybody. The next time you hear from me, I should be in Warner Springs taking a FULL day off and relaxing in the pools. Love you guys!!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hello friends and family! Day 4 and Im camped at about mile 69, 10 miles from Scissors Crossing which is near Julian, CA. Day 1: 21 miles, day 2: 18 miles, day 3: 15 miles, day 4: 18 miles! Longest mile days Ive ever done and my feet hate me for it. Many blisters and today my knees began to really hurt. Tomorrow we descend to the Anza Borrego Dessert Valley floor which will be hot as hell. The dessert mountains have been very beautiful with lots of water and wildflowers. I am so dirty and already carry a distinct odor haha. Didn't sleep much last night due to extremely high wind, very scary. Camp is calm tonight and I look forward to some Z's. I miss home a lot, but even with the constant pain Im still loving it! Love you guys, Ill be in touch...

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Monday, April 18, 2011


WOW! 4 days till I leave for San Diego and I really can't believe this is happening. There is just so much still to do in such a short amount of time. I entered panic mode today and began second guessing all the decisions I've made prior to this last week. All in all though, I know I've got my bases covered and it's under control. However, to make a lifestyle change this big I think you'd be crazy to not be going crazy the last week haha.

I got my gear all packed and ready to ship to San Diego. I still feel like I have entirely too much stuff and could make more cuts. But I'm constantly debating with myself over what I need and don't need. I supposed it will just take some on-trail time to determine the true necessities and send the rest home.

My resupply packages are still coming along. That is my biggest chore to finish this week before I leave. I have all my food ready and separated, I just need to portion it out and pack it into boxes so my Mom can send them out when the time comes. I'm having the same problem with my food though: I just think I'm trying to bring too much. It's hard trying to get as much food as I think I need into each resupply box. I've always eaten way more food than normal when I'm backpacking, but yet on the other hand I always still have leftover food at the end of the trip. I really don't want to carry extra food if I can't eat it and I really don't want to be hungry because I didn't bring enough! I may just go crazy before I even leave.

So Friday is the big day to leave home and Saturday will be my first day on the trail. I am so excited!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

What the hell am I doing?

So I've been seeing lots of reports of huge snowfalls in the Sierras these last couple weeks. That is fantastic news if you're planning on skiing and riding at Mammoth Mountain. On the contrary, that is terrible news if you plan on hiking through it. I'm done skiing for the season (to avoid leg injuries) and have already entered thru-hike mode/mindset. So seriously, stop snowing...

A few updates on my planning process:

  • Food for my resupply boxes is starting to take up large amounts of space in my room. A trip or two to Costco should complete my grub stockpile.

  • Secured a ride from San Diego Airport, room for the night, and ride to the trail in the morning. Thanks Scout and Frodo, I look forward to meeting you.

  • I've got 98% of my gear, just need to get shoes. (kinda important)

  • Almost have all my maps printed out. Thanks Halfmile!

  • Just posted my itinerary for the trip on "The Plan" page. I used Craig's PCT Planner (, thanks Craig. Just a note, this all estimates. I think I can do it even faster than what I planned for.

  • Trying to stop thinking about all the things that scare the hell outta me (i.e. weather, snow, water, mountain lions, Deliverance style hillbillies, and my own recklessness)

I've been so anxious to get out and do some hiking, however it's been raining in Spokane for just about the last 4 weeks straight. Spring in the Pacific Northwest! I did get one nice day last week and managed to do a small day hike. It was beautiful out and I didn't hit snow on the trail till about 2,000 feet. On some portions of the trail it had been packed down and turned into sheer ice. I fell on my ass 4 or 5 times, however somehow managed to not get violated by a stick or a rock. It's making me really consider taking micro-spikes on the trail with me. But I don't know, we'll see.

It seems like these last few weeks are dragging on, probably because I'm just so ready to get out there. Can't wait to meet you all on the trail!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I'm legit!

Got my thru-hike and Mt. Whitney permit in the mail today. Sweet, I am now an official thru-hiker. I've anxiously awaited seeing the PCTA envelope in the mailbox this last week, however the simplicity of the permit makes it strangely unsatisfying. Ha oh well, still super stoked for the hike anyway.

I also wanted to take a minute to answer a few of my most frequently asked questions (FAQ's), that I get when I begin to tell my friends and family members about the hike. As excited as I am to talk about the details of my trip with anyone who is curious, it's become somewhat annoying to hear these questions right away just about every time. So here they are, my list of most frequently asked questions by curious non-thru-hikers:
  1. Them: Who are you going with?

    Me: I'm going alone. It's a very large commitment you have to make many months in advance to begin the planning. I asked some buddies if they wanted to go, but jobs/school/money/lack of interest prevented anyone from committing. Honestly though, I'm okay with hiking alone. There are large numbers of hikers that start the trail every year within about the same 4-6 week window, meaning there will plenty of new friends to hike with when I'd like. I enjoy alone time and feel like I can take in a little of my surroundings when I'm not distracted by a group. I honestly have to say this trip is a very selfish thing for me. I want to take in all the natural beauty and just be able to think, working to no one's schedule but my own. I enjoy people, but I also enjoy talking to myself. I guess I'd be described as a social loner...

  2. Them: Are you going to take a gun?

    Me: (chuckle) No, I won't be taking a gun. I just personally don't feel like it's needed. Would I like one? Yeah, I'd probably feel a little better, but I can't afford the extra weight. This ultra-light backpacking thing is new to me, but I think I've realized that "If you need it, then bring it. If you think you need it, then you don't." Back in my Boy Scout days, we brought everything we thought we needed. And it was heavy, ha. Now every ounce counts and I want to keep it light. Even back then though, we spent many days backpacking in the wilderness, and we didn't bring guns. I've done a fair amount of shooting, but guns have always be associated with recreation for me. I'm very comfortable without one.

  3. Them: You should try to bulk up before you leave. Get some meat on dem bones. (Not a question at all, but more a suggestion I've been heard many times before this trip was even a thought. For those who don't know me, I'm 6'1" and 145 pounds. I've been lengthy and skinny for as long as I can remember. My family thinks I don't eat enough...believe me, I do. Fast metabolism. Super fast I guess. I've been trying to bCheck Spellingulk up for 10 years.)

    Me: Yeah, good idea. I'll get right on that.

Monday, February 28, 2011

More snow for Spokane

Hello fellow thru-hikers/family/friends/and creepers,
I've noticed that many of the other hikers have been updating their journals daily, so I figured it was about time for another update on mine. I do plan on keeping a journal daily while I'm on the trail, however I just don't feel like I have too much to say yet. There isn't a whole lot of new info to share since my last update, but I think I can ramble on for a few paragraphs ha.

So I'm still waiting on my thru-hike permit from the Pacific Crest Trail Association, although I know it must be on it's way because they did already charge me for it. Also coming with the thru-hike permit should be my permit to climb Mt. Whitney, which I am very excited about! I just sent in my application for entry to Canada, so hopefully they'll let me enter the their beautiful country without too much problem. I've somehow managed to keep a clear criminal history in my young and stupid years, unlike many of my friends ha! So there should be no reason I can't enter Canada, yay!

I've got about 85% of my gear so far, a few more trips to REI should do it. It's also probably about time to start building my resupply boxes, because I want to make sure that I don't forget anything. I really want to be prepared for everything, but I also don't want to drive my crazy thinking I missed something. I've always been pretty good at procrastinating and I'm definitely trying to avoid that while planning for this trip.

Lastly, I've been getting bombarded with questions about the trip from my family and friends. It's funny because I even had one friend try talk me out saying "No dude, you don't want that. You DON'T want to do that. That doesn't sound fun at all" haha, I just had to laugh and say sorry but I'm doing it. It's hard to explain to someone who is not like-minded, about why I want to do this. However, I do really enjoy being questioned about the little details from curious people. So far just about everyone I've talked is very excited and supportive of my decision.

It worries me a bit because we're still getting fresh snow here in Spokane and the temperature has been dipping into negative digits. I know know, it's still winter here, but I just hope the snow won't be too bad this year in California. I'm worried, I'm excited, I'm paranoid, and I'm anxious. Can't wait till I finally leave and just do it. As my fellow thru-hiker Brian G put it: "It's gonna be one bad ass summer!" Word.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Allow me to introduce myself...

Hello, you can call me Cody because I have no trail name yet. In fact, I really look forward to receiving the nickname that other hikers will come to know me by. I'm currently 23 years old, although when I hit the trail in late April, I will be 24. I'm quitting the full time job that I've had for the past 3 years, to spend my summer on an adventure that I've dreamt about for years. Some may think this is absolutely crazy, considering the economy is so bad and jobs are very hard to find right now, but this trail just matters to me so much more.

I've been planning on this trip for quite awhile now, so when I broke my ankle last summer, I didn't know if it would still be physically possible for me. However, after spending much of this winter skiing hard, I can now say my ankle feels great. It took quite awhile, but I'd have to say it's just about back to normal. I hope to avoid any similar mishaps with my dainty little ankles on the trail haha.

I've done quite a bit of backpacking in the past and I really enjoy it. If there's one thing about nature that I love more than anything, it's the mountains. I've grown up here in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by them my whole life. I spent years in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts hiking and backpacking through the mountains in this area. Scouts has left me with a wealth of knowledge on life in the backcountry and I'm confident in my skills.

So now I'm in the thick of the insane amount of planning required to thru-hike the trail. There is just so much to do and I really don't want to overlook anything. Even though I'm a huge risk taker and slightly wreckless, the Scouts taught me to always "Be Prepared". And that's a little tough when you're trying to backpack ultra-light. But have no fear, I've done my research and determined that all this is perfectly within reason.

My last day of work is 2 months from today. Then I leave for the trail 6 days after that. I will be ready and I'm really super stoked! But for now, there is still 2 months of skiing in the beautiful mountains around my home. Time to enjoy the last of the Pacific Northwest powder, before heading into the sun of Southern California...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Testing the picture post

Ok, so I'm testing the picture sending capability of my phone. Here is one of Steve and I skiing at Silver Mt in Kellogg, ID.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Testing the text to post

I'm texting from phone right to the blog. This way I can send a quick update whenever I have service!