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Archive for the 'California' Category

2007-07-16 HALF WAY!

Monday, July 16th, 2007

No point beating around the bush, I’ve made it half way up the PCT. Quite where half way is can be debated ad nauseum but for me it was mile 1327.5 which is the midpoint between the Mexican and Canadian border ignoring the eight mile walk to the road at the end.

PCT sign

Tiki, Troll, Oblivious and FireBall also made it across the line. I assume Old Corpus did but I haven’t seen him since we re-found the trail this morning. I’d come off it at a dusty saddle and found him stomping around looking for it in the scrub. It was easily fixed by returning to the last marker and trying again.

So, half way, what’s that like. Well it doesn’t look much different but I sure do feel good. It’s not that I want this to be over but I came into this wanting to complete it and I’ve been gradually seeing it become realistic. No-one back home ever told me I wouldn’t finish, they thought I was a loon for trying but that’s understandable. It took me 89 days to get here and I think it’ll be 65 to do the rest. I’m stronger, the terrain is (mostly) easier, and there are less places to take time off.

I know this year has been much easier than others with the low snow fall in the sierras but there have still been challenges and it is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I won’t be counting down the miles just yet, but I am aware that the end is closer than the beginning. In Echo Lake Steve told me that his son (class of ‘01) wouldn’t think about the end until it really was in reach. The size and scope of the endeavour was too much. I’ve thought about the end lots. About achieving that goal and completing a country sized walk in one go. That’s what has kept me on the trail. I know the high sierras are the highlight of the trail and I could skip up ahead to other good points, but it’s the whole thing that I’m here for and I won’t be done until I’m sipping Canadian Club and eating moose.

P.S. I passed a place called Butt Mountain today and thought that was funny.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Belden to Old Station

Google Maps

Halfway

Monday, July 16th, 2007

HALF WAY, HALF WAY, HALF WAY, HALF WAY, HALF WAY.

A more intelligent post will come when I reach a phone. For now I’m at a house in Lake Almanor Country Club. eating ice cream :-)

2007-07-15 Less power!

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

I’m on a ridge looking down over rolling hills of pine trees all the way to the horizon. I know there is a lake down there, appropriately named Lost Lake, that I can’t see, but there is another one in the distance that enhances the view. The sun will set in the next half hour and I’ll be alone with the stars again.

PCT

I’ve tried to take it easy today with three proper stops and an early finish, but I still managed a good distance and I’m going to get to a big milestone tomorrow. I haven’t fully checked the numbers but I think it’s going to be a similar deal all the way to Oregon. I’m really enjoying stopping with plenty of sunlight left. I could be putting in miles but I don’t have to. I can enjoy the view instead.

This morning I woke from a bad dream and took a moment or two to trace back how I ended up in a house on a bed near noisy train tracks. Eventually I pieced the last few days together and was glad to realise there was no way I’d just been sent to jail for being eight (yes exactly eight) minutes late on paying a parking ticket.

The Braatens dropped us back at the trail before 8 and the long slog up the hill began. It was quite a push and I was on the lookout for poison oak which is apparently prevalent around here. Didn’t see any but it can be a day or two before I find out if it saw me. There were a few good springs today which I drank without filtering or treating and now I’ve bottled up enough to make the next dry 20 miles without any side trips.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Belden to Old Station

Google Maps

2007-07-14 Belden

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

After last night’s light show I found it hard to leave the saddle this morning, but once I got moving I was really moving. All that down hill with no pain killers was a good feeling. The trail spent a lot of time in the trees, no view and no bears to sneak up on. So I just plopped on the iPod and powered away. There were occasional breaks, like looking down onto the perfectly still Silver Lake with its lone island covered in firs. Or looking east into the smoke-filled valleys downwind from the Antelope fire I’ve heard about.

PCT sign

Smoke from the Antelope fire

Trundling down the 36 switchbacks (!) to Belden I caught Oblivious then Tiki and Troll just before we crossed the train tracks in to Belden Town Resort. That resort building is a funny one. Looks like a real old-time saloon. Red wood panels, big veranda, huuuuge bar. We called the local trail angels and Brenda Braaten was there to pick us up within minutes. The Braatens are really nice people. They bought their house here specifically to retire near the trail and help hikers. It’s sort of like a granny-flat and tonight fits us four plus Old Corpus, Two Dogs and a south-bounder called Tarantula.

PCT sign

The Belden General Store

Since we stopped walking well before noon it’s been a relaxing day. I resupplied, sorted my bag and took the time to swim in the river with the others. Sitting around and waxing lyrical about our pre-hiking lives has been interesting. A few of the conversations have been things I have no experience of or interest in, but I can sit there and people watch quite happily.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Donner Pass to Belden

Google Maps

2007-07-13 My god, it’s full of stars!

Friday, July 13th, 2007

Today’s Smell-of-the-day was bear cub. Dead bear cub as it happens, poor thing just died right there on the trail.

It sure has been a lot of uphill today. But I haven’t had an ibuprofen tablet in 36 hours and my foot still feels ok. Tomorrow has a lot of steep downhill so I’ll have to go carefully if I am to stay on the road to recovery.

PCT

All the others I’ve been hiking with for the last few days, Tiki, Troll, Oblivious and Old Corpus, took the road into Bucks Lake for food. I got to my target for the day by 4:30 and have been reading for quite a while. I took a side trail to Spanish Peak which was nice. Great views eastward and would make a nice spot to wake up and see sunrise, but I told the others I would be here. They may elect to return to the PCT further on, thus avoiding the waterless stretch and dry camp. Things we haven’t really dealt with since the desert. That seems like a lifetime ago now. To think of reaching Tuolumne Meadows at mile 702, now I’m just 3 days from half way. I’m very excited.

After finally putting my book down (Authur C. Clarke’s 2061) I lay down to sleep, when I awoke I was truly amazed. With innumerable stars above me my eyes adjusted and the milky-way come into view. I don’t know if I’ll ever see that sort of sky again but in a month’s time I’ll be looking out for the meteor shower and hoping for a clear night like tonight.

PCT

Old Corpus contemplates the infinite

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Donner Pass to Belden

Google Maps

2007-07-12 2000km before lunch

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Today I passed mile 1242.7 which doesn’t mean much to the Americans around me but I marked it with sticks as “2000 km”.

PCT

The last few days have been full of new and interesting smells. Today continued with the peppermint coming from Penny Royals that Troll spotted yesterday. Coming into Sierra City we passed through a sweet honey-fungus area that reminded me of the black stuff growing on some trees when I toured NZ’s South Island a few years back. For quite a while now on exposed slopes of fist-sized rocks and grit there has been a plant whose flowers look like a cross between daffodils and sunflowers, and their large leaves smell of cabbages.

There were a few switchbacks two days ago that smelled of vomit and at one point I thought I detected cinnamon toast, maybe I was just hungry.

My favourite part of the day was jumping in the river, complete with trousers and shirt thus covering my bathing and laundry requirement for the week. Just west of the bridge over Middle Fork Feather River there is a big green pool. The water has just come over shallow rapids and is quite warm compared to all the other places I’ve been.


Wash Day at Middle Fork Feather River

The swelling on my foot has gone but my shin is still a little sore. I did manage a major downhill and at a good speed today, just a week after I limped to Donner Pass. I’ve got a good log to put my foot up on now and tomorrow is mostly uphill which is harder but more comfortable.

PCT

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Donner Pass to Belden

Google Maps

2007-07-11 Old Friends

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

It’s been a fairly pleasant day despite a bad start with confusing directions from the guide book. I was still in my bag at 7am which is the latest for quite a while. Troll, Oblivious and Tiki all left before me but chose to take the guide book’s “alternate route” and I saw them coming, and cursing, up a steep road back to the trail. We walked fairly closely for the rest of the day. A light rain shower really cooled off the air. It was never enough to warrant a jacket but I put my rain cover over Dad’s bag just in case.

PCT

Oblivious

I am still finding myself doing a good speed and I didn’t take nearly enough breaks but I started late and finished early-ish. Tomorrow will be a similar distance but with an earlier start I’ll be able to take it easy and be sure my leg is healing.

The four of us and Old Corpus are camped together, talking about movies and sponging off Old Corpus’ experience of the trail in Oregon.

Good news: According to Troll, Dad’s bag isn’t as bad as it looks. They all tried it on and found it to be lighter than they thought. It sure needs a better hip belt, and shoulder straps, and the back is only comfortable because I shoved my 1/2 length z-rest between the bars and my back. Otherwise it’s a dream.

PCT sign

Dreamy McPack

PCTPCT

Troll and Oblivious trying Dad’s pack for size

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Donner Pass to Belden

Google Maps

2007-07-10 Sierra Buttes

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

For a “town day” I’ve managed to put on a few miles and am now camped with Tiki where the trail crosses the Sierra Buttes jeep road. Today it rained for the first time since the morning before Paradise Cafe. That was the beginning of May. It was only a light spit but it was followed by lightning and then the fire siren.

I spent most of the day in town, starting with the traditional gatorade, ice-cream and crisps combo then finishing by sharing a rotisserie chicken and bread with Tiki. Just as we were leaving town Troll and Oblivious, last seen at Kennedy Meadows nearly 500 miles south of here, came in. I’m glad to see the kid is still going and his dad’s feet haven’t been amputated.

We got a lift in a faded orange 1970’s Datsun that had seen better days. The dashboard material was cracked like dried earth and I had to hold the passenger door shut because some major side impact had broken the locking mechanism. Luckily there weren’t any sharp corners and we got the trail head without falling out.

Walking up that steep climb was tough and looked a lot like I imagine Washington will be. It was gloomy at 5, soft brown underfoot and dark green and the rain was hanging in the air waiting for a reason to soak me.

PCT

With the start of the rain comes the end of my time without a tent. Last night was spectacular, no moon or artificial light to speak of. When I woke just after midnight it was another “wow” moment. This makes me sadder to be undercover tonight, but it’s better than being wet.

PCT

Troll and Oblivious joined us just after dark and Troll took the opportunity to tell the mountain just how he felt about the last climb and how glad he was to have completed it.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Donner Pass to Belden

Google Maps

2007-07-09 Forced stopping

Monday, July 9th, 2007

I made 23 miles today. I could have done more but my shin is still hurting and I’ve no desire to make it worse. A short term gain would definitely be a long term loss. It was really warm last night, I was sweating in my sleeping bag but I had to stay inside it to avoid the hordes of nasty mosquitoes that were attacking my face. It may mean a return to my tent (sans outer cover) which would be a real shame now that I’m more comfortable cowboy camping.

PCT

I stopped for an early lunch and lay down for an hour there. I took time to swim and cook at Jackson Meadow Reservoir and I still reached this quiet saddle by 6pm. So long as I don’t succumb to any more injuries I’ve no worries about finishing this trek before the end of September. The weather may turn bad before then but that’s up to sun spots and global warming.

PCT

I lay on the ground with my feet up on a log for quite a while. Letting the ants crawl up my arms and the occasional fly land on my legs. A few branches cracked as little creatures scurried around while I just listened to the silence of nature.

*update*
A little while after I settled down I heard some sticks breaking and movement on the other side of the log pile. “Oh dear” I thought “a bear is already here and it’s not even dark”. I got my camera and stepped around the pile only to find Tiki setting up his tent. We caught up on the last 400 miles and agreed to meet in Sierra City for lunch. I’m planning on an early start and lots of down time in town.

Here’s a couple of quotes I’d like to share, you may have heard them before.

“There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way” ~Bhudda

“Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there” ~Josh Billings

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Donner Pass to Belden

Google Maps

2007-07-08 Careful now

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

It’s not yet 8pm and I’ve been lying here for a little while. My feet up and a book in my hand. It’s fair to say I have learned my lesson and I’ll be going gently for a while as I build up my muscles/tendons again before trying anything as crazy as 210 miles in nine days.

Lucky Joe has gone back to Echo Lake and will be catching up soon I hope. Tiki must be somewhere between us and I expect to see him in a day or two. Blue Sky is taking some time out and plans to rejoin the trail near Ashland.

Mary and Charles drove me back to the trail head I left four days ago. They’ve been excellent hosts and along with Roger and Lori in Truckee I can honestly say the rest they helped me attain has saved my trip.

It sure has been strange sitting on a couch, eating normal food and watching tv. I kept zoning out and then coming back to reality to remember I’m not even halfway through this yet.

PCT

I’ve been in air-conditioning and away from the windows for a while. Outside the air has been hazy with smoke from some far-away fires. The drive north along Lake Tahoe shore was strange. Where I had previously looked across pristine water to the foothills of Nevada I now saw only an erie white smoke. Like looking out to sea as fog rolls in it was hard to tell there was another side out there. The sun is about to set now and it’s much redder than normal as the dust in the air lingers on.

From here on up, with the possible exception of Old Station, I think internet access is going to be hard to come by. Luckily Dad has been doing a sterling job with the site and photos to keep you entertained. I’ll send memory cards home as frequently as I can.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Donner Pass to Belden

Google Maps