Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Long overdue update

So, we ended up getting off the trail at Walker Pass, at about mile 650 on the PCT. BooBoo had a self diagnosed foot stress fracture that got better with rest. So we took a city bus to the Amtrak train back to Seattle, WA. We then packed up our car and played tourist in places that didn't require much walking but had a lot of scenery. These places included Olympic National Park, Maryhill Washington, Bend, OR, Reno, NV, Lassen National Park, Burney Falls State Park, Portland, Oregon, and Glacier National Park.

We did try to restart our hike but as a Southbound from the Canadian border but we were turned around by large amounts of snow. Subsequently, on the way back to the trail head, BooBoo's foot started hurting again, so we were done for the time being.

The trail would still be there in the future and we were running out of time and money to be able to complete a complete thruhike in a relatively continuous fashion, which was both of our goals (though not the goal of everyone hiking).

That is the update. We are now in Oregon and working on getting set back up with grown up things in the front country (i.e. apartments, jobs, etc.).

Until next time,
Happy Trails!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Note - 5 /31

Hi Everyone,

Sorry about the dearth of postings over the last few weeks. 
I've been neglecting my duties. 
I have notes and will endeavor to get caught up as quickly as I can.

We are safe and sound in Tehachapi, CA at mile 567.  This is past where they have shut the PCT due to a fire in Green Valley, in case you were wondering. 

We're leaving town tomorrow, I'll work on blog posts during breaks and can hopefully have some uploaded soon. 

In the meantime you can always check in here:

BooBoo does a pretty good job at least updating the mileage.  You can sort by date under our picture on the left.

Happy Trails,

5/24 - Agua Dolce

By Hedgehog
Starting Mileage: 436
Ending Mileage: 454

We were faced with 2 possible destinations Agua Dolce home to the Saufleys and their hostel Hiker Heaven or just about halfway there a KOA that was right off trail that lets hikers camp for $5.

As I still felt weak and not quite right we decided to take it slow and see how the day went. 

I focused on the KOA and their camp store of cold junk food (soda, ice cream, Gatorade, etc) for the first portiin of the day. 
This included when we took a break and used our Tyvek ground cloth to create shade where none existed.

Coming down the hill to the KOA we spotted a familiar white truck.  Natural Hiker (aka Coppertone) was in the parking lot at the bottom of the hill.  We hurried to get to him hoping for some Trail Magic, after all we first met him when we got Rootbeer Floats from Shepherd & Co. outside of Silverwood Lake.
Sure enough he was setup to offer Rootbeer or Cream Soda Floats.   BooBoo & I sat in camp chairs enjoying our ice cream and chatted with him for awhile.

After a spell we headed on the 0.5 miles to the KOA. We promptly went and loaded up on even more cold calories.  We consumed said calories at a picnic table in the shade. We decided to continue on, somewhat reluctantly.   We later found out that since it was Memorial Day weekend the KOA wasn't letting hikers stay that night anyway.

Shortly after leaving the KOA we came across the monument marking the official completion of the PCT

Next we had to go under highway 14, which I believe was 6 lanes. There was a tunnel shaped like the rounded triangle of the PCT logo, which if you squint at my blurry picture below you can see.
We ate lunch in the shade of the tunnel along with 3 other hikers.

Shortly after the tunnel we came to
Vaquez Rocks, a famous geologic formation used in many TV shows and movies.


It was pretty cool to see the place that has represented several different planets across several different Star Trek series.

After a road walk into the town of Agua Dolce itself we stopped for a cold soda.  Which we drank on the 1 mi walk to Hiker Heaven.

At Hiker Heaven we secured our spots for the night (they have a guest limit) then had dinner and showers before retiring for the evening.

5/23 - North Fork Ranger Station

By Hedgehog
Start: 407.1
End: 436

Over breakfast we discussed three different destination based on how we were feeling and where water was located.

The furthest of these options would put us at the North Fork Ranger Station in 29 miles.

The Return of Poodle Dog Bush; there was miles and miles of trail where this annoying plant grew within striking distance.  This bush generates an allergic reaction described as "Poison Oak on steroids" and grows in burn areas.  Avoiding the plants while walking on a narrow trail that frequently runs along the sides of mountains is challenging. It takes mental focus to find the plants, acrobatics to avoid touching the plant, and saps your strength when you do it for miles/hours on end. The fact it grows in burn areas means there is little to no shade and the sun is beating on you the whole time.
Toss in bad balance and it just sucks.

On top of all that it bothers me that there is no resemblance between the plant and the dog its named after. At least none I can see. I've included a photo maybe you can see the resemblance.

One endpoint was Mission Creek fire station. It is in an area that has burned recently and is brand new. They built a little picnic area with table, outhouse and water source for hikers. We ate a late lunch there. It was a little bizzare, with ruined high voltage power line towers standing next to newly erected towers. The fire must have been hot enough that the old towers lost their structural integrity.  

After lunch we left and had long hot climb up. We were determined at that point to get to N. Fork Station so that we could do a half day into town the next day and get out of the heat.

This was a mistake.

When we arrived at the Ranger Station I wasn't hungry and had the chills. I got sick a couple of times while we setup camp. Clasic heat exhaustion.  I was able to get down some hot chocolate then went to bed.

5/22 - Baden Powell to Sulfur Springs

Start: 381.1
End: 407.1

Our beautiful campsite from yesterday turned into a wind tunnel, making for a lackluster nights sleep.

In our unbridled enthusiasm to be back on trail for the first full day we set a goal of 26 miles to the Sulfur Spring Campground.

Following the PCT takes you almost to the top of Mt Baden Powell. To reach the summit you have to take a side trail 0.1 mi.

BooBoo and I decided that it was worth the trip. The views were spectacular. 

Baden Powell was the founder of the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts helped cement my love of hiking and camping. So it was neat to see the monument at the peak.

The rest of the day passed quickly as we stretched our legs in moderate temperatures and sunshine.

We had to road walk around a section of the trail that is closed due to the presence of an endangered species of frog.  Even the road walk was pretty with views out over the valleys.

We made it to our destination tired but happy and made camp for the night.  

For the second night in a row we were treated ro a beautiful sunset.

5/21 - Return to Wrightwood

By Hedgehog
Start: 374.1
End: 381.1

Our flight was delayed in DC, but not for too long.  It took an hour to get our bags after we landed.

Aloha and Lion King picked us up from LAX to take us back to Wrightwood. The drive back through the mountains was very scenic.

In Wrightwood, we grabbed a few things at the store that we couldn't fly with (fuel for the stove, lighter, etc) and mailed the last of our front country stuff back to Seattle.

Aloha and Lion King dropped us off at Vincent Gap about 4 PM. It made for a nice climb up the mountain.

I would not have wanted to try it in the heat of day. On our way up we came across Natural Hiker coming down the mountain. I'll let you figure out how he got his trail name.

We found a great camp spot as the sun started to set.

(Sorry no pictures from that day, I was out of practice)

5/14 - 5/20 - East Coast Trip

By Hedgehog
Starting Mileage: N/A
Ending Mileage: N/A

I'm going just summarize this time as its not really hike related.

Tuesday morning Aloha took us to our hotel near LAX. We took the free airport shuttle to the international terminal in LAX for dinner (dining was outside of security). 

Our flight the next day was uneventful, but we were both impressed with Virgin America having never flown with them before.

We had arranged to stay a couple of nights with a member of our AT trail family in the greater DC area. We had hoped to spend that time catching up with him. Sadly he had family emergencies while we were there so we weren't able to see him much. On our way out of town we stopped at the local REI to try and fix my bent trekking poles and resupply some other things. BooBoo started talking to a salesman who turned out to be an AT thru-hiker who was going to hike the PCT in 2014.
Snarky was very helpful.

In fact he offerrd to try and get my poles fixed at an AT event he was going to over the weekend. We could pick them back up on our way back through on Monday.
Trail Magic on the other side of the country!

We headed down to Charolettesville where one of BooBoo's friends would be putting us up along with BB's sister Maggie. Maggie combined a vacation to FL with time to attend BB's graduation.  She was not the only family member to fly across the country to see the ceremony,  Magic Man and Red Shirt combined a vacation touring old historic gardens with seeing BB's graduation.

BooBoo's same friend graciously offered her lake house to Magic Man and Red Shirt.

The hooding took place Friday night, it was a proud moment seeing BooBoo get her hood.
The graduation ceremony on Sunday was impressive. UVA follows traditions dating back to its founding by Thomas Jefferson. I'm just thankful the rain held off.

We ran some errands in Cville before heading back to the greater DC area. We texted our friend abd let him know our ETA. We also arranged to meet Snarky.  Unfortunately he couldn't get my poles fixed (wrong manufacturer was at the event) but he bought us an iced tea and we talked for a while.  I purchased new poles (I really shouldn't hike without poles). We bid adieu to Snarky and headed towards our friend's place.
Unfortunately his families' medical issues persisted. We crashed at his place but didn't get to see him before flying out early the next morning.

Friday, May 31, 2013

5/13 Slackpacking out of Wrightwood

By Hedgehog
Starting Mileage: 369.5
Ending Mileage: 374.10

We again had breakfast at the Evergreen Cafe, great food and service. We then spent the day waiting for Aloha to arrive as he had graciously agreed to take us to L.A. on Tuesday for our Wednesday flight.

We decided to put Aloha up across the street at another hotel with better accommodations than ours. Our place was built in the 40s and had that eras rustic cabin feel to it. But I don't think its seen a lot of maintenance in that time. Good enough for hikers (especially with the laundry thrown in) but that's about it.

While we waited for Aloha we decided that we would see if he would slackpack us from Inspiration Point to Vincent Gap. This would let us get another 5ish miles done before leaving but more importantly subtract those 5ish miles from our first day back. Our first day back already included climbing up Mt Baden Powell.
Aloha arrived mid-day and said he'd slack us after he was settled.

It was a nice quick hike. Beautiful and relatively cool..we were both happy to be up in the mountains, Cajon Pass was 102 that afternoon.
We went to dinner with Aloha and made plans to leave after breakfast on Tuesday.

5/12 Wrightwood

By Hedgehog
Starting Mileage: 364.5
Ending Mileage: 369.5

One of the reasons why we pushed to Guffy Campground was that it left only 5 miles to HWY 2 at a place called Inspiration Point. Hwy 2 is normally an easy place to hitch into Wrightwood from, what we hadn't planned on was HWY 2 being closed just north of us due to landslides. So when we got there at 8 AM on Mother's Day hoping to get a quick hitch into town for breakfast at the Evergreen Cafe well ... 1 hr 15 min later we finally got a hitch. Not just us but the other 3 hikers who had arrived in the meantime.
A pickup truck with a cap stopped. Turns out the 2 Golden Labs in the back had just finished a nice hike and were headed back into town. Dixie and Daisy kindly made room for 4 of us (and our packs) in the back under the cap. While one hiker and his pack rode up frobt with Dixie & Daisy's human.
A slightly clostrophobic 10 min ride and we had arrived in Wrightwood.
BooBoo and I headed straight for breakfast at the Evergreen Café.
Afterwards we went a got a room at the only place in town that included a load of laundry with your room. (There is no laundromat in Wrightwood)
We hung out for the rest of the day doing errands in preparation for our trip East for BooBoo's Masters Graduation.
We had dinner with a big group of hikers that night at Yodelers.

5/11 Guffy Campground

By Hedgehog
Starting Mileage: 342
Ending Mileage: 364.5

Climbing out of Cajon Pass in hot weather, we got a boost when BooBoo waved at a train engineer and he blew the train's horn. 
In a recent burn area the PCT wss heavily encroached by Poodledog Bush and so there was a optional bypass. Not wanting to risk exposure BooBoo and I decided to take the 4 mile reroute, which was a Forest Service road that parallels the PCT. While it was nice not to have to worry about the Poodledog Bush the road walk was completely exposed.
Thankfully as the reroute ended and we rejoined the trail we came upon a water cache, and 7 hikers most of whom we knew. The cache was provided by some folks who had section hiked the area and decided it was too dry. We learned this when 2 guys stopped by on motorcycles to check on the cache.
After drinking our fill of water and eating a large lunch we headed out for Guffy Campground. This a Forest Service campground people can drive to so we were hopeful that we might score some cold soda.
We rolled into Guffy Campground about 6pm and took the last 2 camp spots amongst about 10 thruhikers (most of whom we knew). Every one made dinber and talked around the picnic able.  The campground had several car campers there, unfortunately none of them offered us cold beverages. We did ,however, have "Scraps" join us at the picnic table. Scraps was an unleashed dog that wanted to play or eat our food. Either way was good for him. He belonged to a car camping couple in the site next to us. They didn't even try to contol/leash him.
We all called it an early night. Earplugs were needed (well for normal hearing people) due to these same campers playing music at 8p, hiker bedtime, and late into the night.

5/10 - Silverwood to Cajon Pass

By Hedgehog
Starting Mileage: 328.5
Ending Mileage: 342.0

We woke to find that the sprinklers had us nearly penned into our site. With a little ingenuity we were able to stay dry as we started our hike for the day.
We were in high spirits, our destination this day was Cajon Pass.  Cajon Pass has several multi-lane freeways and at least 2 major rail lines going through it. While this is impressive to see and no doubt useful it was not directly the reason for our excitement. 
No that would be the sign on the PCT that indicates that the McDonald's is only 0.4 mi away.  Quite possibly everyone who passes that sign takes a picture of it, and I was no exception. But that's getting ahead of myself. Another reason we were excited to be going to Cajon Pass, we had a resupply box waiting at the Best Western there.
The hike while hot wasn't too bad with some nice views and as we neared Cajon Pass the PCT actually uses the remains of Route 66 for a trail which was pretty cool.
At the McDonald's we were unsurprised to find several of our fellow hikers including Chief, Tumbleweed, Alan. BooBoo annd I are our fill and then went to check in at the Best Western.
There we discovered more hikers we knew: Iceman and Catywampus. We also met Two Step and Splits. The rest of the afternoon we enjoyed the A/C.

5/9 - Hot Springs and Silverwood Lake

By Hedgehog
Starting Mileage: 305.7
Ending Mileage: 328.5

We woke at our normal time and headed out for the Hot Springs.

We'd heard several hikers go by our tent in the night and figured they had camped closer to/at the Hot Springs. While the Deep Creek Hot Springs are a Day Use Area but it was the middle of the week and enforcement would probably be lax.

When we got there about 8 AM we found around 20 people already there. Most of whom were hikers but a significant minority were locals. The Hot Springs are clothing optional and have a reputation for being a party place. From the state we found things it wold seem that reputation is well earned.
Not deterred BooBoo and I soaked (cloathed) in one of the several pools for about an hour. I've included a PG picture of the pool below (pictured are Rabbit and Packman / not pictured is a local nudist partaking in the "optional" part of the springs).
With relaxed muscles we continued on, where we ran into some volunteers doing graffiti coverup. They used clay rather than paint, it seems to deter repeat vandalism better. One of the group told us that the trail we were on used to be an aqueduct to supply potato fields in the valley below.
When we reached said valley it was extremely hot and exposed.  A miserable couple of miles ended abruptly at the top of a hill. We'd come across some Trail Magic. Two ladies were setup under a tree at a road crossing. One was offering either Root Beer or Orange floats and the other offerred hot dogs with all the fixings.
BooBoo and I both enjoyed a root beer float and hit dog in lawn chairs under the tree. We ran into Tumbleweed,  Iceman, and Catywampus.
After a nice respite we headed back into the 90° heat and continued on as thunderstorms were forecast and clouds were gathering on the horizon.
We were aiming for Silverwood Lake Reservoir and the CA state camping area.
Hot, tired and cranky I REALLY didn't want to get rained on, as the clouds moved in BooBoo and I pushed to get to the campground.  It turns out Silverwood Lake is really big and it took us a long time to hike aound it.
We had dinner under a pavillion before going to find the free Hike/Bike campsites. If you hike in or bike in they are free on a first come first serve basis.  We had run into Allan and he camped next to us in the sites. NOT on the lush green grass beneath the tree. BooBoo's 2009 hike provided usefull information yet again and we escaped the 5am sprinklers.

Day 22 - A Tale of Two Creeks 5/8

By Hedgehog
Starting Mileage: 286.5
Ending Mileage: 305.7
We slept in this morning,  until 6am. Due to the cold weather last night we'd closed the tent up tight. While this helped keep us warm it lead to a common problem, condensation.  However, because it was so cold the condensation froze so we couldn't dry the tent quickly by wiping it down with our bandannas.  We found a nice spot on a rock outcropping and spent an hour there while our gear dried out.
The first creek we came to was Holcomb Creek and we stopped to have lunch there and relax a bit. A few miles later in the hike I filtered water from a  piped spring. A piped spring is where a PVC pipe is pushed into the spring in an effort to reroute it/make it easier to collect water from.  Since it didn't have a pool we let the water flow into our pot and then I filtered the water out of the pot.  (We made sure to boil the water long enough to kill any germs the next time we used the pot).
We arrived at the Deep Creek Bridge (our first encounter with the second creek of the day) early afternoon.  We took a break to relax and soak our feet in the cold water.  This felt great.  After crossing the bridge we went to Splinter's Cabin, a USFS pavilion 0.1 mi off trail.  Why there?  It had a picnic table, outhouses and garbage cans.  We took advantage of all three to make dinner and empty the trash out of our packs. While we were eating a couple of fly-fishermen came by and talked with us a bit about the PCT.  A role that nobody really tells you about before starting one of these hikes is that of Trail Ambassador.  You get asked all kinds of questions, frequently the same questions, whenever you meet people on/near the trail.  Usually these interactions are fun and I enjoy them.  Sometimes when your tired or the people are mean or you have miles to go and little daylight left these encounters are draining.  This was not one of those times.  The 2 fishermen were very friendly and we enjoyed talking with them before they moved on to a picnic table of their own.  About 5 minutes later, as we were eating, one of the gentlemen came back and offered us a COLD beer.  WE happily accepted. It was a heffeweissen made in Los Angeles and it was good.
After filling up on food and beer and getting rid of our trash we returned to the trail with the goal of finding a camp site more than 1 mile from the Deep Creek Hot Springs.  Camping is forbidden within 1 mile of them to keep the impact on the area down.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Day 21 - Fire and Ice 5/7

By Hedgehog

Starting Mileage: 266
Ending Mileage: 286.5

We watched the weather while we divided up the spoils of our multiple shopping trips between our packs and then we were out the door.

We walked to Thelma's for breakfast.No Apple Dumpling this time though, there was hiking to do after. Breakfast was delicious.
After breakfast we walked about a mile to where Hwy 18 split and headed toward the trail.

We spent about 20 minutes trying to hitch before a local Trail Angel picked us up. She was already heading that way with 2 other hikers (Craig and Apache).

By 8:30 we were on the trail and heading north. Conditions were a bit different than we've become used to hiking in. The high was in the low 50s and the low was forecast in the upper 20s. In fact there was a Winter Weather Advisory calling for 1-3" of snow above 7000'. Guess where we were going?

Regardless, it was wonderful to hike in weather that felt like early Fall rather than the inside of a blast furnace.We climbed away from Hwy 18 for awhile.
Once we reached the top it was fairly level terrain. 
When we stopped hiking we cooled down rapidly, having to but on our warmest clothes for a 10 minute break.

The oddest moment was the snow flurries that started while the sun still shone. We hastily put our pack covers on (think rain coats for the packs) in case the flurries developed into the more substantial amounts of snow they had forecast. Then we kept hiking.

The trail took use around the mountain and gave us views of Big Bear Lake. Being in town really doesn't give you a sense of how big the lake really is, nor how cool it looks with the ski hill behind it. We had views of the lake on and off for a couple of miles.

The flurries didn't last long and by lunch snow seemed a remote possibility. 

After lunch we started moving away from the lake and down the other side of the mountain.  This brought us into an area that had burned in 2007. The evidence of fire was still abundant enough I would have guessed much more recently than that.

As we approached the creek that was our destination, we came over a rise and saw a fence with a solar panel in the middle of this burn area. Not something you see everyday. I investigated. Turns out the enclosure was a pit toilet with the solar providing power to vent the holding tank.  Who knew?

We ran into Tumbleweed at the creek were we filled up with water. It was still to early for alI of us to feel like stopping,  so we hiked on.  About a mile and half later we found a couple of nice spots so we made camp.

After dinner, as the night got colder, we shared some of our hot chocolate (so good) with Tumbleweed and chatted.

Soon the cold drove us all into our sleeping bags and we called it a night.