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Category Archives: May 2012
Where to begin? There sure isn’t an end in sight… I’m at the Kennedy Meadows Cyber Cafe which is a vintage Streamliner trailer with a few spots to sleep, a love seat, a ‘MagicJack’ phone that only works when you sit on the non-operational toilet in the trailers bathroom, and a row of 4 laptops. It’s another hiker heaven along the way, set up for us and only us, the filthy dirty hiker trash that passes north and south. Kennedy Meadows is the hiker portal to the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. What lies before me is said to be the most stunning, amazing, remote and technically challenging landscape I’ll experience along the PCT. Texts from ahead, Wolf-E (whom I hiked with through Mt. San Jacinto Wilderness) have come through and it looks like the snow will be somewhat minimal and ‘easy’ compared to the tough snow year last year.
All that I’ve gone through has been to get where I am now. Early on in the hike I found beauty in that which was unknown to me. Southern California, few trees, sand, heat, sage brush… it was new and exciting. After the initial break in time on the PCT I found myself bored, as I knew I would be, of the views. A good deal of the mountains and hills I climbed were burned out years earlier offering minimal shade, and little to catch my attention. The last week, after we left Tehatchapi, I broke free of the group I was with intent on powering through the Mojave, mostly at night, just to get it all over with. Mother Nature decided to make sure I took notice though, with powerful 60-80 mile wind gusts, snow, and chilly temperatures that would keep me alert and bundled up at night. Here’s a bit of stupid advice. When the guide book says something like “…as you’re about to cross the desert, you’ll be tempted to send all of your cold weather gear forward to Kennedy Meadows, DON’T DO IT !” I say HEED THOSE WORDS ! I had my jacket, but my long johns, sleeping bag liner, gloves, emergency hand warmers… all of it… went in a box, and sent ahead.
But it’s all part of the experience, and I feel lucky to have experienced the Mojave in a way that many other thru-hikers will never experience it. It probably would have been worse if I had cell service, because I would have been able to complain to everyone that would listen, but instead I sucked it up and dealt with it the way I do when I’m alone…. I yelled – A lot.
So again, here I am. Hikers all around coming and going. My confidence level at a point where I no longer sit around looking at other’s gear and wonder if I have the right stuff. I’ve carried it all this far and for the most part it’s all great. From here though, I take on more weight… No longer will I need to carry 5-6 liters of water, check water reports and hope that water caches (left by trail angels) are stocked, as the water flowing through the mountains will provide enough libation to keep my water bottles light. But the ice-axe, bear-canister (thanks BEAR-VAULT !!! ), mid-weight Smart-Wool (Merino Wool = ultra comfort and a slice of heaven) long johns, Ex-Ped air mattress (insulation from snow and ground cold) and gloves will all weigh me down. It’s all worth it though, and my intent is to take this portion as slow as I can allow myself, because I don’t want to miss a moment of what’s to come in a land of peaks and passes unlike I’ve ever witnessed… and then there’s Mt. Whitney – within the week I step off the PCT for the 8 mile side-trip to the top of the highest peak in the Continental United States.
Taking a look at my gear issues, my Goal Zero Solar Charger which was replaced by the company is working wonderfully. My La Sportiva shoes which only lasted 350 miles with the first pair, still look pretty good, as the second pair has 350 miles and conditioned to take on a few more after the Sierras. For the Sierras I have switched to a relatively new company – Oboz – and hope the heavier duty shoes work well for me. After wearing them around all day I feel an odd pressure point in the left shoe, at the ball of the foot, that’s not in the right shoe, so this could quickly prove problematic, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. My pack…. Before I hit Tehachapi, the same wear problems as the first pack were evident. It’s an ultra-light pack, and the extra days food and extra water through the Mojave may have been too much, but the pack is not looking good. As I didn’t expect to have internet service, my Sister has taken on trying to resolve the problem. I need a pack that’s going to go the distance. If I have to purchase a new pack at $200-250, the budget to finish the PCT will be extremely jeopardized. The cost of mailing gowns to and from the trail, bouncing a box forward from town to town, sending things home and ahead, eating in trail towns (supplementing my calorie deficit on the trail) and my admitted problem of not being able to pass a store w/o buying a soda and ice-cream sandwich have drained the bank considerably. I had hoped T-shirt sales would increase as I began hiking, but I think I’ve only sold a dozen in the last three to four months.
All of this worry is what happens when I hike 5 days alone through the desert. It’s time for some laughter and fun as I join back up with people through the Sierras.
I arrived at Kennedy Meadows last night, hoping to get here in time to buy a burger at the general store before they closed at 5. The store, open, the grill, closed =-( They were happy to see me arrive.. they had TEN packages for me… TEN… it’s getting worse ! LOL. At $3 per package, I dropped money quickly. In them – Winter stuff I sent from Tehachapi – Bounce Box with computer – Ice Axe – Jorie’s Gown – 2 Food Boxes – Ipod loaded with music from Mouse (thanks Mouse – Bear Vault … .and I must be forgetting something… I’ve been the laughing stock of the hikers here because ALL of those boxes didn’t include the ONE thing I can’t go into the mountains with… My MicroSpikes (like crampons but not)… It’s my error. Kayola called as I was leaving Tehachapi and asked what all needed to be in there, and I forgot…. No, actually I remembered, but not until I lost service and couldn’t reach her. $45 and Fed-Ex will have them here tomorrow… Postal Service would ship them to the P.O. 35 miles away, arrive thurs, and make it to the Gen Store down the road Friday. Long after my group heads into the mountains and I’d never catch up. It’s not safe to traverse the S/N’s alone and I’ve hiked with the group long enough to know our strengths and weaknesses…. so I need to stay near… AND – They have a GPS. (my map reading skills have proven pathetic LOL)
So enough of all of this. I wanted to catch you up. Thanks for paying attention; this has been quite the adventure…. I hear I’ll have service on Mt.Whitney and hope to say howdy from there !!!
Peace out – or whatever I’m supposed to say to end all of this chatter.
OH – Foot Notes – My Birthday is June 22 – I’ll be 37. I wonder what wonderful mountainous world I’ll be in on that day.
June 21 is Hike Naked Day….
And Memorial Day – Yesterday, marks the 2 year anniversary of my last drink. It was an initial struggle to turn my life around and quit what was more of a social problem than a drinking problem, but it’s proven to be an awesome thing for me… Although I don’t think I saw the solution as being a trek in dresses… it’s funny how these things happen, right !? I’m lucky because I don’t struggle with it at all, I crave soda like mad out here on the trail. Drinking and a few other recreational drugs are INCREDIBLY prevalent on the PCT, which was unexpected, but it just gives me an opportunity to smile at my fellow hikers as they beg day hikers and weekend campers for beer…. Such desperation… I remember those days =-)
And one last thing – My family has been sending me food drops and they’re doing an AWESOME JOB !!! I love you guys and I’m so glad you’re a part of this. And Kayola – Jason – Jaylin – and Kaylia – I miss you guys so much ! I’m proud to have you as my Newport resupply point, and I’m grateful you’re helping me out and keeping an eye on me – as well as passing on my status to the locals in town. You’re all fantastic.
No Amp tells a tale while I grab dinner at trail angels Kris & Carol’s … I thought I’d dress fer dinner, as you can see… LOL
Overkill at the Post Office
I hit mile marker 500 Saturday !!! ( the bear belongs to Scalpel… He & I hiked 32 miles that day, 40 total over 22 hrs.f.. It was fun to say we did it, but MAN did we pay for it !!! Energy draining !
I quickly became aware of who Kris was, not as the Aunt of Pockets, one of the guys I hiked with in the first 200 miles, but from a complaint lodged against my PayPal Acct – Goods not received. I’m handling the sales of my T-shirts from the trail and since there are so few (hint hint) it’s been pretty easy. Until I realized I forgot to forward this order on to my crew back in Newport (Hey Kayola ! Thanks for your help!!! )
I explained that I had dropped the ball and I’d get her T-shirt out as soon as possible. The reply came with an explanation of who she was and an offer to stay with her or her sister. I wasn’t sure if the offer extended to all seven of my hiking companions, and she was happy to agree to pick us all up and take us in, as long as we arrived early in the day so we can take advantage of Carol’s ‘off the grid’ solar home.
Luckily the day prior played out a bit off plan so we were freshly showered when they arrived at the RancHotel. It’s as nice as it sounds @10/per person. We split up, headed for the grocery store and the Post Office where I picked up an over abundance of eight packages. ( !!! 8 !!! ) Back at the house the two sisters began prepping a HUGE lunch for us as we spread out our packs and divied up the food for what might be 7 long hot days across the Mojave Desert.
Lunch turned to naps and prepping for another large dinner feast. Barely a finger was lifted by any of us, as they wanted us to be able to relax. I was happy to present to these two new Trail Angels such a fine diversity of thru-hikers (all men and one woman) to keep the conversation flowing. We were suprised to find out that Carol was waiting on us hand and foot on this, her 50th Birthday! After dinner Carol took a phone call as we pulled out the ice cream, candles, streamers and some of us reached into our packs for the most crazy of weighted toys we carry with us… Balloons and glow bracelets make hiking more fun, right !?? By the time Carol finished her conversation we’d been childishly hiding under the table just long enough to have to replace the candles burning in the Gooey-Butter Cake my mom sent me, a scrumptious offering for our Birthday Hostess…
After they enjoyed bottle after bottle of wine and I guzzled more useless Diet Coke than my body can handle (diet soda yields, of course, zero calories to help me power thru the trail, but it sure tastes good), the group slowly dispursed into the house to pass out (surely from exhaustion) or play pool.
Carol and Kris both repeatedly told us of how much fun they were having while we reveled in the fact that such kindness had been offered to us. This is true Trail Majic and I think each of us has been touched by the experience. So here it is, nearly two a.m. and I finally have had the peace necessary to try to catch you all up a bit. This is the third trail angels house we’ve enountered in 100 miles and such opportunities don’t easily lend to down time and ability to catch up on line… But as the one in the dress, it seems i’m the belle of the ball and the belle gets little time alone… haha…
I’ve been reflicting a lot lately upon the generosity of those that surround the trail, and if you’re reading this, you fall into that category. So please know, even though i’m not that great at keeping up on bloggin (and answering emails !!! ) I haven’t forgotten why I’m out here, and I’m incredibly thankful for your support !
The great herd of hikers that started at kickoff are nearing… so tomorrow we hit the Mojave Desert again. 130 miles to the next resupply town with many 20-25 mile waterless stretches where we have to carry a great deal of water. I’m thankful that the weather looks cooler, although wind may be swift.
I want to thank my parents and wonderful sister right quick too… They started sending food resupplies to me a few weeks back and they’re doing an amazing job. The food is GREAT, and my fellow hikers are envious of the wonderfully organized way they’ve prepared it for me. It’s a huge undertaking and I couldn’t do this without them….
As I keep posting bits and pcs on facebook, I may start posting shorties on the blog as well, so if it’s short, just know i’m trying to keep up with it all… =-)