Archive for the 'Snake' Category

2007-08-29 Another state of mind

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

I’m in Washington, the final state of the PCT. According to the data book there are only 500.3 miles of trail once you cross The Bridge Of The Gods at Cascade Locks and that’s what I did this morning. Galen, Riddle’s unfeasibly tall brother, dropped me off on his way to Portland. After I crossed the bridge, taking photos and video during gaps in the traffic (there’s no foot path, one has to hope two trucks don’t pass a walker at the same time), I began the mean climb up to Table Mountain.


Washington certainly wasted no time in teaching me why after 4 months of pretty intensive training I still won’t be able to breeze through the last few sections. It was already warming up in the forest and I sweated my way up the trail alone with my thoughts for quite a way. I briefly entertained the idea that I have done enough and I can go home now, but that didn’t last long. The dreams I’ve had that have me home without completing this are enough to keep me going. So go I did.

I came across a south-bounder who started on August 8th and reported no snow at all which was good. I found it really hard to listen to him though. It was as if he’d just taken one too many Prozac, so slow and dull that holding a conversation with him was dragging me down too. The next two were far more active, but hadn’t seen the Noodleheads. I finally got news of them as I reached Rock Creek and I expect to catch up to them by lunch time.


I’m very glad they suggested sending my food box to Stabler’s Country Store (12 miles from tonight’s campsite). Carrying 6 days of food over today’s hill would have been really tough.

I saw three snakes today, nearly stepping on two of them. For creatures that are supposed to sense ground vibrations they did a poor job of noticing me stomping down the trail. They were all quite small and had black and white stripes running head to tail giving the illusion of staying still when they were really moving.

At the Ballinger household I saw a quote from Riddle’s journal about PCT hikers being like ants. I especially like the one about how our purpose in life is to follow the trail.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Cascade Locks to White Pass

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2007-07-24 So good when I stop

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

On the final climb of the day, with more moisture dripping down my back than in my water bottle, I began to feel a little defeated. I composed an entry basically pleading for mercy and telling everyone with a roller-chair and air-conditioning how lucky they are. But now that I’ve rested and mostly dried off I am feeling more positive and ready to walk again tomorrow.


From my rock-top perch this morning I heard “the other” Billy Goat come by. At 5am it was still dark enough that he didn’t see me until he was quite close. The first song on my iPod set the tone.


Eagle-Eye Cherry – “Are you still having fun?”
  You are on your own
  You do as you please
  Having so much fun
  Gone and lost your reason
  After all is said and done
  Are you still having fun?
  How were you to know when you’ve gone astray?
  That happiness would go like a lost emotion
  You have always gone your way
  Are you happy today?

Not every moment here is fun. The last few days have been incredibly hard physically but that’s my fault. I’ve set an aggressive schedule again and I’m throughly exhausted. I’ve run four marathons now. And at the end of each one I made a mad dash to the finish line. Moving my legs so fast I couldn’t feel them, just the frantic raising and falling of my thighs until just as they are about to burst I cross the line and come to a sudden stop. I stagger around for a while, quite uncertain what to do next then things kick in. Rest, refuel, recover. That’s how I’ve been feeling at the end of my hiking days recently. Totally beat and just a little disoriented. I look forward to reaching Etna not just for BlueSky rejoining the hike but the return to a more healthy pace.


I am of course sticking with it. Just now I heard a squirrel talking loudly about something, and there is a serious amount of leaf-rustling and branch-breaking going on over there. You just don’t get this at home. I’m off to investigate the strange sound.

…whatever it was it didn’t like the look of me in underwear and Crocs so I didn’t get to see it. Deer I don’t mind, it’s the bears and mountain lions I worry about. And whatever little critter snuck into my bag and gnawed one of my breakfast bars last night.

I saw a rattle snake today. I was surprised to see one in this humid shadowy forest, such a world apart from where I saw my first one in the arid lands near Campo nearly 100 days ago.

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

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2007-07-22 Scoria

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

It was nice to have have hiked with Chigger and Stretch yesterday but I really wanted to get to Burney Falls Park asap to be sure they had my food package. If they didn’t I’d have to hitch to a town and back again tonight.


Mt Shasta

After coming down from Hat Creek Rim the path got into scoria. It was hot and dry and soon it felt much like being back in the Mojave. I plugged on but I could feel a blister growing. Bear Bait has attributed it to the heat but I’m thinking the excessive pack weight is at least partly responsible.

Road crossing

At Crystal Creek Fish Hatchery I refilled my water bottles and took a little look around. According to the signs they release about 1,000,000 catchable sized fish from there every year and it’s funded by fishing licenses.


The walk was very flat. With no pack and on a cooler day I could have run through most of it, watching for the rocks would have slowed me down. But today wasn’t like that.


Burney Falls did indeed have my package though it turns out I didn’t need much of it. I’ve now got seven main meals in my bag and I only need two to reach Castella. I even gave away three Rice-a-ronis and two pounds of trail mix that Debbie Kennedy kindly gave me. I ate as much as I could but it was just slowing me down. Hopefully I’ll get some tips from BlueSky for weight reduction.

I stayed at the park’s store for over four hours. I would have left earlier but when Bear Bait turned up and bought beer I could hardly sneak out. So Chigger, Stretch, Panther, Bear Bait and I sat around talking about past and future PCT stuff. It was a really positive place to be. Everyone feeding off the excitement around them. I wonder if this sort of thing would have helped others stay on the trail. It makes me feel better about being here. The same goes for the night after Drakesbad at the Kennedy/Smith house. They were so interested in the trail and New Zealand that when I left I was on a really high plain despite the rain and the long way to shelter. I’ll try to make up a good sentence to describe the positive vibes.


Chigger, Stretch , Panther and Bear Bait

Chigger is a tiny wee thing. Claims to be the second shortest thru-hiker, the title being taken by Oblivious. He’s 12 and still growing. Previously an equestrian sports photographer (no, I didn’t know such a profession existed either) she has done the AT and her boyfriend is currently doing the CDT. When telling stories she does the people’s voices, though she hasn’t got the Northumberland accent of Storming Norman and Hell-on-Wheels yet. She’s a freegan, meaning she gets food that supermarkets and bakeries are throwing out. Imagine eliminating your food bill.

Stretch has a great sense of humour. Though she doesn’t make a lot of jokes herself she audibly enjoys everyone else’s. She laughs and smiles a lot and it’s hard not to join her. Hiking with someone like that you’d never be in bad spirits.

I don’t know much about Panther except he’s twice had run-ins with bear cubs and their protective mothers. Bear Bait though has not even seen one yet. He’s a section hiker doing 1000 miles from Tuolumne Meadows so tomorrow he’ll be halfway.

Jinx and Cash have had to leave the trail. The scoria and hot trail mean their little paws can’t take it anymore. Two Dogs has taken them back to Old Station and will leave them on a friend’s farm and return here to continue alone. I guess we’ll have to call her Heidi again until she does something weird or wonderful to earn a new trail name.


Burney Falls

Quote of the day:
Chigger: Are you pure?
SunWalker: I’ve been asked that before, in a very different tone of voice.

Purists are those that walk every single inch of the PCT, no scenic alternatives, no shortcuts.

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

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2007-04-19 Face North and Start Walking

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

I’ve done it, I’ve actually started walking to Canada. It’s been a long time coming but now there are just 2635 miles left.
The day started early as I bid fair well to the Manns. They have been awesome all week as has Jan who drove Caitlin, George, Blacksnake and me to the border. After the regulatory poses on and around the monument we set off around 7:40 and eventually separated as each took to their pace and their rest stops. It was a cloudless day, though slightly cooler than it has been. The path is easy to follow and I only referred to the maps once to confirm how far along the road I was supposed to go. Some time early on I pulled to a halt upon seeing a snake across the path. I took a photo first then hit my poles on the ground, boy did it ever rattle! For a moment it curled up, but quickly moved away and I got by without trouble. I saw a smaller, non-rattle snake later, almost trod on it too. Including myself I saw 12 PCT hikers today, the season is really picking up and a lot of people will be starting this weekend for sure.

Hauser Creek was dry but had a good place to sit before tackling Hauser Butte. It takes a strange sort of mind set to leave dappled shade on soft grass to climb a 1000 ft path in the sun.

After leap-frogging Blacksnake, Duck-Snort (apparently it is some kind of throw in baseball) and two brothers from Michigan I reached Lake Morena in time for dinner, but moved on afterwards to spend my first night on the trail alone in the wild. I heard it is going to hit freezing tonight, so though it is only 7:30 pm I am snug in my bag for the night.

Lesson for the day: Butte is pronounced Beaut not Butt.

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Campo to Warner

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