Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day 71

Day 71
July 30th
22.5 miles
PCT mile 1319

After finishing the rest of the climb out if Belden this morning (7.5 more miles and 3000 feet up) consensus was that our legs and feet were trashed both from the steep descent yesterday and all the climbing from today and last night. 

Guy On A Buffalo (who we met at Sierra City) caught up to Pilsbury and I at the water stop at the top of the climb. We mainly stuck together for the rest of the day and all camped together at 1319. My feet were dead and useless after the 22.5 miles today. I wasn't the only one feeling beat up, both Pilsbury and Buffalo felt the same. We were done earlier in the evening and we didn't have any nagging bugs at camp, so we were able to sit outside our tents, hang out and eat dinner together, before crawling into our tents for the night.

Day 70

Day 70
July 29th
19.5 miles
PCT mile 1296.5

12.5 miles to Belden Town Resort this morning, the last 8 of which you drop from 6200 ft of elevation to 2200ft. Pretty steep switchbacks but descent soft terrain. It was hot by the time I got there at 1pm. Pilsbury was at the Braaten's (trail angels home) resupplying about a mile down the road. It was pretty hot to continue on, considering the 14 mile climb and 6000ft of elevation gain I had in front of me. So I called the Braaten's for a ride to their place and Pilsbury and I hung out until it cooled down and we were ready to go back out on the trail.

We walked down to the Caribou Crossroads Cafe for lunch, shakes and air conditioning. I indulged in 2 shakes since we were taking our time enjoying the AC.

Shake #1-Coffee

Shake #2- Chocolate 

 Back at the Braaten's I took a cool shower and got ready to head back out. We got a ride back to the trailhead at 5:30. Just as we were getting out of the car Brenda Braaten warns us: "Beware of the kerosene eating, garbage loving bear at 8 miles into your climb, I'd advice not to camp there."

At the trailhead we found some apple trees and picked some apples. A quarter mile later blackberry bushes! We stopped to eat some.

Picking blackberries

Three miles into the climb it was 7pm. We looked at the camping situation and decided to continue for 4 more miles and camp, before the "kerosene eating bear" territory. We were deep into the forest and neither of us are fond of camping in the deep forest and I had warned Pilsbury of my past nights experiences and my belief of the woods being haunted so we set our tents up literarily side by side. We did hear lots of noises and tried to scare the noises away but after they wouldn't leave we investigated further, there was a deer just outside our tents. Pilsbury was relieved and said deer are we left the deer alone to play in the night outside our tents as we tried to get a restful night of sleep.

Sandhill Crane on the trail this morning

Day 69 Sunday Fun Day -Buck Lake

Day 69 Sunday Fun Day -Buck Lake
July 28th
24 miles
PCT mile 1277

About 3 miles into my day, before my fun day really got started, I was minding my own business observing all the poison oak on the side of the trail and I hear a noise off to my right. Not 3 feet away is a small very mean looking skunk with some sort of inferiority complex going on. "Oh crap!" I think, as we face off. His back is arched and his tail is straight up in the air. My heart literally skips a beat and my feet sprint ahead, as I look back, he has turned and it appears he is spraying the empty space I once occupied...I didn't stick around to smell or find out for sure. I was out of there. My heart pounding, that was more frightening then any of my snake encounters I've had on the trail. I try to imagine the disaster of being sprayed by a skunk. Ewww.

After 12 miles and 4000ft of climbing, I come to Big Creek Road. I decided to take the Buck Lake Alternative Route to Buck Lake Resort, as recommended by a fellow southbound hiker yesterday. It's hot I've pulled off some great miles the past few days, I deserve cold beverages and a cooked meal I it's Sunday...Sunday Fun Day. Why not shake up the routine a bit? The Buck Lake Alternative Route is a 6.7 loop that bypasses 4.9 miles of the trail and intersects again at PCT mile 1270. So I do it! 

First stop Haskins General Store for a cold drink and some snacks.
Buck Lake General Store

Snacks and cold drinks!

From the store the road takes me down to Buck Lake along a row of cabins lined up along the shoreline. I look out at the people playing on the lake and sitting out on their porches overlooking the lake enjoying their Sunday afternoon. I smile to myself imagining their day and experiences they are having on their summer vacation at the cabin.

Next stop Lake Shore Resort Restaurant to fill my belly with some yumminess.

I was back on the trail by 6:30 powered by a cheeseburger and brownie sundae, I got 7 miles in, just as it was getting to dark to continue. Not before capturing some beautiful colors of the sky at dusk though.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Day 68 Oh...These Woods Are Haunted!

Day 68 
26 miles (25 PCT miles +1 mile off trail for water)
PCT mile 1252

If you ever want to find out if a thru-hiker slept well...just ask them: "Did you hear any noises in the night, last night?"  If the answer is no they most definitely had a sound night of sleep. If they answer with "yes" it's most likely to follow with a colorful story.

Some of you have heard of my stories: "what sounded like an elephant stampeded by my tent at 4am" or "the snort that sounded much like a horse right outside my tent shortly after I crawled in it for the night." Let's be realistic an elephant and a horse? Most likely not the creatures to be found in the wild in the woods where the PCT travels. From process of elimination you may be able to guess exactly what I was hearing...or so I thought.

Last night proved me wrong. It was probably around 10pm, Vee and I had not long ago crawled into our tents and were not quite asleep yet. Then the noises began. It sounded like a person, 2 footed and not exactly quiet as it walks, I assumed it could probably be a thru-hiker walking around looking for a campsite. After a good 30 minutes of this nonsense, tree branches started falling between Vee's and my tent. I finally yell "What the hell was that?" Nothing from Vee...and then I hear the creature wander off.

The noises came back to me in my sleep. I could hear them from afar...I'll wake myself up when they get closer...I thought in my slumber. And I did just that. It was 2am and the creature came back. "Go away" and again I heard it wander off.

My conversation with Vee this morning, I ask "Did you hear those noises, last night?"

Vee replies, "I was so scared. I'm so glad you were here. I would have shit myself if you weren't."

"What the hell was it?" I ask.

"I thought it was Namaste looking for a campsite, as he doesn't have a headlamp. Until the branches started falling from the tree." He answered.

We spent the next few minutes discussing the noises and agreed it sounded more like a person than an animal. The mystery remained to be answered.

I have the answer...these woods are haunted. There are enchanted creatures that come out at night to spook thru-hikers. I spent the better half of my morning convincing myself of this. I became so convinced that I started seeing things in the woods and felt something was following me all day long, I'd see something out of the corner of my eye, I'd turn quickly to catch it, but it was gone before I could confront it eye to eye. Oh what a mess I have created!!!

One of natures smaller enchanted creatures I came across today.

Day 67

Day 67
July 26th
26 miles
PCT mile 1227

Good day with lots of miles... Not much to report on the happenings of the day. 

Towards the end of the day I came across a group of dirt bikers taking a break at the A Tree, I stopped and talked with them for a bit, they were fascinated by my adventure and had tons of questions. Then shortly after that I ran into 2 women section hikers that I had met at Ziggy and the Bears, over 1000 miles ago! They had hiked to Big Bear and then got back onto the trail yesterday. How cool was that to see them again.

Pilsbury was ahead of me for the entirety of the day, I got the message  from the ladies that she was going to stop somewhere between 26-30 miles for the day. I stopped at 26 I was happy with that mileage and wanted to have more rest then continue on to find Pilsbury. Not long after I set up camp I was joined by Vee...always happy to have the company of a fellow thru-hiker at night! 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Day 66 Leaving Sierra City

Day 66
July 25th
3 miles
PCT mile 1200.8

I wanted to have most of the day to rest and go out on the trail late afternoon/early evening just to get a few miles in.  Pilsbury was also down with that plan, so we did just that, hung out in town all day and got a ride back to the trail about 5:30ish. 

I had a fabulous breakfast at the Red Moose Inn Cafe. I have to say they make a pretty mean cup of coffee too.

My favorite town breakfast: eggs, bacon, pancakes and coffee.

I spent most of the day organizing resupply and repacking. I had a wonderful surprise box from my friend, Jen, and a few extra goodies stuffed into the box my mom sent, including my favorite chapstick. Since my new pack has bigger hip pockets, it can accommodate the odd shape, so I gladly ditched my old chapstick for my new one.

My favorite chapstick.

There is a 8.5 mile climb out of town, by the time we hit the trail our camping options were 3 miles in or 7.5 miles in, we decided 3 miles was good enough for today, our packs were loaded down with food and heavy. So we set up camp, ate dinner and called it a night.

The elevation profile heading out of town.

Pilsbury and I outside the Red a Moose Inn...finally got a picture of her/us to post.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Day 65 Sierra City

Day 65
July 24th
20 miles
PCT mile 1198

20 miles and I made it to my next resupply, Sierra City!!! Not before I had this awesome photo op with my visitor on my coffee break this morning.

Haven't seen this trail marker before.

Namaste and Pilsbury were up early and got to Sierra City before I did. I met them on the porch of the general store where we hung out and ate burgers, milkshakes, ice cream, and any other yummy snacks we could find.

Hikers at the general store.

I couldn't resist.

The store closed at 6 so we stocked up on food and beverages for the evening and went on to find a camping spot for the night. Pilsbury and I set up in the backyard of the Red Moose Inn (hiker friendly and free camping). Namaste joined us and as the evening went on the backyard began to fill by all our friends: Vee, 3D, and Far Out, as they came in from off the trail.

The numbers are getting closer!!!

Day 64

Day 64
July 23rd
25 miles
PCT mile 1178

Nothing too exciting to report today. I passed Highway 40 and the historic Donner Summit this morning, those of you unfamiliar with the significance, you can look it up for a little history lesson of the day. I did!

Between Highway 40 and Highway 80 there is 3.5 miles. I felt like I was hiking in the "in between land" not exactly wilderness between two highways. Once I came to Highway 80, I stopped at the rest stop to fill up on water and cook some breakfast and coffee. As I was spread out at one of the picnic tables, one curious bystander came over to ask about my backpacking trip. He disappeared only to return a few minutes later to offer some bottled water and some snacks. Of course I couldn't resist. He brought his cooler over to me and this is what I picked out. I ditched my breakfast and stowed it for a snack later and devoured these treats.

Pilsbury and Namaste left South Lake Tahoe together Sunday morning and were a half day ahead of me. Because we had cell service we kept each other updated on our locations, Monday they camped 4 miles ahead of me, Tuesday 2.5 miles, and today I finally caught up at 6:30. We were all happy to be reunited...for the short mile and half we hiked together. I wanted to do more miles today and have less to Sierra City tomorrow. They were tired and preferred to get up early and get it all done tomorrow. So we separated when they stopped to get water and I continued on, knowing we'd all see each other tomorrow and hang out in Sierra City together.

Day 63 Hiking Through The Back Country of Tahoe City's Ski Resorts

Day 63
July 22nd
25 miles 
PCT mile 1153

Today was a super fun day with superb views. Walking the rim around Tahoe being able to see 360 degrees around, with Lake Tahoe to the south, and nothing but wilderness to the north. Then walking the back boundaries of Squaw Valley Ski Area and then ending my night camping in the back country of Sugar Bowl Basin Ski Area. Loved it!!!

Lake Tahoe looking south

Squaw Valley

View from my camping spot.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Day 62 My Two Month Trail Anniversary!!!

Day 62 
July 21st
24 miles
PCT mile 1128

It's almost hard to believe that I have been at this for 2 months. It didn't seem that long ago that I was reflecting on my 30 days spent on the trail. Yet I think about where I was then and where I am now and everything that has happened in between: all the people I have met, all the miles I have walked, all the nature I have taken in, and all the memorable experiences I have had, so much has evolved and shaped me and my experience in the last month. I've learned a lot about myself and my ability to power on. I used to think I was a wuss and intolerable to cold temps and rain, but when I went out into the rain and left thru- hikers behind at Echo Lake and they're calling me badass or when Namaste and I were hiking through the rain on two separate occasions and you see hikers pulled off trail set up in their tents and I just kept walking, I start to think maybe I'm not as big of a wuss as I thought? Perhaps I can tolerate a lot more then I ever thought I could? But that's not why I continue on, I continue on because that's what thru-hikers do....I have a destination and a deadline I am determined to make. I must keep going if I stopped for every rain storm or inclement weather I'd never make it. 

Mother Nature was kind to me today she must have known it was a special day for me, she spared me of the rain today. 

A funny for today as I took a break at the top of Dick's Pass this morning. Far Out (another thru-hiker) came up and joined me..."so we've climbed the highest Dick and the highest Nipple there are, what do you think is next?" he asked. 

Dick's Pass

Enjoying some potato salad and iced latte at the top of Dick's Pass

And sporting my new visor from Pulse Endurance Sports in San Diego...Thank you Pulse Family for all your support!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day 61 A Hiker and a Biker

Day 61 
July 20th
11 miles
PCT mile 1104

Typical get out of town day: intend for the morning, but last minute need to do this and this and this passes the morning hours quickly.

I made my 3rd trip to Keys Cafe and had the SAME breakfast sandwich for the 3rd day in a row, it's soooo good. And then I saw this:
I couldn't resist gluttony at it's best.

I ordered a new sleeping bag. I've been researching bags and finally decided on the Feathered Friends Swift Nano...they custom make the bag so it won't be delivered in time to Sierra City, so I had it delivered to Chester, CA my resupply stop in 10 days. My bag has been sufficient enough to this point but when the temps start to drop anymore then they have at night I'll start to get cold. I'm also cutting another pound so might as well get rid of the extra weight sooner than later.

Finally I was ready. Scott rode his bike to Tahoe from the city and agreed to give me a ride back to the trail. Picture this: a biker giving a backpacker wearing their pack a ride on a Harley. It was awesome!!! As we were pulling out of town we passed a handful of PCT hikers they were loving it, thumbs up, waving and laughing as we drove by.

I was on the trail by 1:30 which was better then I thought after my morning of last minute tasks. The sky was dark, but I thought I was going to miss the rain. Nope! By the time I got to Echo Lakes about 2.5 miles in it started pouring. I sought shelter under the eaves of the store with about 10 other hikers. I waited for about an hour and let the worse of it pass then continued on, for the rest of the afternoon/evening i had rain and light drizzle. 

Fun photo op before hitting the trail

My evening on the trail, between rain.