Thursday, May 11 — day 46

PCT miles 663.54 to 683.10
It was a very quiet night camping in the small ravine. When I awoke I found my sleeping bag damp from dew. That’s the down side to sleeping in valleys – they tend to be less breezy and colder and have dew issues. I’ll have to dry it later.

Today is going to be a tough day. I will be hiking some 5,200 feet up and 4,200 feet down with a segment of 10 miles with no water. There are no clouds in the sky and there is no breeze to cool me off.

The trail started climbing right away and after a few miles I crossed a nicely flowing creek where I filled up for the big climb up and around LaMont Peak. It was a wicked climb! Lots of sun, no breeze, tons of those tiny flies that buzz in your face and worst of all, scores of felled trees blocking the trail. There must have been some big wind storms this last winter. I had to climb over, crawl (hands and knees) under and hike around these while on the side of a steep mountain. 

I did get to see some beautiful views again

And some colorful plants/flowers.

And colorful Lichen 

And a few Horned Lizards– this matches the rock very well!

I ended my 20 mile day camping near a creek with an abandoned old and dismembered truck. I was so tired I fell asleep before the sun had set.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 10 — day 45

Pct mile 551.00 to 663.54

Medic and I slept in late then ate a huge breakfast and worked on our blogs.  At 10:30 Greg picked us up and took us to the supermarket for food resupply shopping.  Then it was lunch at a great Mexican restaurant in InyoKern before I was dropped off at Walker Pass.  Greg took Medic on to Onyx where he will take a Zero.

While I was chatting wit Hannah the trail Angel, Doc drove up ( he’s stopped hiking and is now shuttling PCTers).  Soon Candido, now CandyMan hiked down and Doc whisked Jim off to Onyx to get his resupply from the Post Office before it closed.

I decided to start hiking around 2 pm.  There were intermittent clouds and a nice breeze.  I’ve got 13+ miles to go, mostly up, with no water til the end.

The trail immediately started uphill as they are want to do from a pass.  I wound my way around this hill/mountain 

I captured this forward and backward looking panorama 

The flowers on this side of the path were also spectacular 

I came across a termite nest that was On the move!  The winged termites were pouring out of holes on the trail and taking flight

The trail wound from the west sunny side of the ridge to the east, shady side making it that much cooler and nicer hiking.  I passed a local carrying his two dogs on the trail. I commented that he was taking his dogs for a walk but doing all the work: spoiled dogs!

I found another kind of yucca today

And soon after almost stepped on rattlesnake number 9

He/she was cold on the shady side of the mountain and needed a bit of coaxing with my hiking poles to move off the trail.

I also finally captured a photo of a jackrabbit, tiny but visible in the center of the photo.

It was getting dark when I finally found a decent campsite in a dry streambed.  I now can look forward to good water sources for the rest of the trip, but I’m thinking that will come with increased levels of mosquitoes.  I’ve only seen a few before today.  I hurriedly set up my tent, ate dinner and crawled into the tent and wrote my blogs – I am very surprised to have cell access way out here!

It is a silent and clear night!  The stars would be great if it weren’t for a full moon.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 9 — day 44

PCT mile 635.33 to 652.00 

I forgot to show you as historical, cultural artifact next to where we camped: a Native American mortero where acorns were ground.  This is as particularly interesting because there are few Oak trees in this area now.

Today Medic and I will hike down from our current ridge, across a flattish mesa and then down, down, down to Walker Pass. When we were literally out of the woods we got a great view of the snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains 

I was bombarded with flowers today – many I have already posted previously, but they are so pretty I will show some fresh sots

I also saw views of the devastation tha five years of drought has caused – lots of dead trees in these mountains 

Many are keeping the trail maintainers quite busy.

When I got all the way down to Walker Pass I ran into Hannah and Carley– two PCT hikers turned Trail Angels!  They had fresh Pizza and cold sodas!  I love these ladies!

As I was finishing my lunch two local drove up and introduced themselves and asked if Medic and I were PCT hikers.  We replied and introduced ourselves and were surprised to find out these guys were our local contact Greg Watson and his hiking buddy Dan.  Greg saw me as he parked but told Dan “No, that can’t be Dale, he’s heavier and has less of a beard”. 🙂

Greg gave Medic and I the full tour of Ridgecrest. Including a trip to the local mountaineering supply for more socks ( they keep wearing out)

And then to a local hotel for a shower and laundry run.  I had to dress in my long rain gear to walk down the street in 80 plus degree weather to buy beer for Martin and I.  No dory seemed to care.

Greg and Kathy Watson took us to dinner and fed us well!  They are such kind people!

We were then returned to our hotel feeling the oncoming food coma and ready for bed.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 8– day 43

PCT mile 613.0 to 635.33

Even though it rained last night I found my tent quite dry.  Today we hike out of the pine forested mountains, through the Mojave desert and then back up into another pine forested set of mountains.  The sunrise was great again

As we hiked down I captured some nice shots of a carpet of dying Miners Lettuce turning pink in the morning sun.

And caught a great view of where we are headed

The flowed today were again spectacular.  I’m so glad to be hiking in this area when they are still in bloom and while the heat is not so bad!

I’m now back down in the Mojave as evidenced by the Joshua Trees

Some of the Joshua Tree blooms have fruited 

We resupplied our water at a huge cache — almost 100 gallons of water here! That will probably last only a month or less as the bulk of PCT hikers behind us replenish their supply. It is so nice of people to maintain these!  We came across another, smaller one later and this one had extra food and supplies 

I was able to snap a photo of a not too scared all-black Blue-Belly Lizard

And another first, a super-fast Leopard Lizard – I love the coloring and pattern on this guy/girl!

There are lots of abandoned mining operations out here – an old school bus near a mine…

Look closely and you might see a rusting hopper above the Joshua Trees
After hiking 18 miles I was delighted to find that I had a 1500 foot climb to my intended campsite.  It turned out to be not so bad, even though a small rain squall passed through.

Along the way I checked for cell connectivity and learned the credit card info of the one card I am carrying has been stolen and my account locked. :{. Good thing I have my ATM/debit card.

The views were once again great!

And the sunset fantastic

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 7 — day 42

PCT mile 592.95 to 613.0

I awoke at first light, 5am, and could hear a light rain falling, so went back to sleep hoping it would stop so I could pack without dealing wit rain.  Twenty minutes later it stopped, so I seized the moment and exited my tent to…. a dusting of snow!

Have a seat, because I got a lot of snowy shots to show you 🙂

I followed a quail on the trail for quite a ways…

Most of the moisture from this storm wa in the form of fog and froze to the trees creating a late-season winter wonderland

I was first Hiker on the trail this morning so all the ice and dew on the trailside soaked my feet. My toes were freezing!!! I would forcibly curl my toes with each step to try and stay warm.  As the sun came out and a slight breeze picked up the ice began to rain from all the trees.  I had to don my rain jacket and hood to keep the ice from chilling me further.  I captured an icefall on video (I hope this posting works)

My feet warmed even while soaked and eventually they dried completely – yay!

I resupplied my water at Robin Bird Spring, which had a handy pipe to allow easier collection

The sky almost cleared up and the intermittent sun was great to have!  It remained cool all day which made the hiking very nice!  Here’s some Douglas Phlox and a pretty forest meadow filled with sage.

I setup camp and soon Medic arrived to join me.  We had another beautiful sunset and some nice flowers – I’m not sure what these are called.

There were clouds nearby so I set up my tent with the rain fly, but left the vestibule door open for ventilation.  Sure enough a few hours after dark I was awoken by the sound of a light rain and quickly closed the vestibule door.  It stopped raining soon and I slept great.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 6 — day 41

PCT mile 572.92 to 592.95

I awoke and found my ridgetop campsite in a cloud

As I hiked, I could hear the wind turbines grinding away but I could not see them.  I was reminded of the film “Battle of the Bulge” where Henry Fonda goes in search of the German Panzer division by flying through the fog in a plane, stops the engine and listens.  Ok, not quite the same, but I know he hey are there but I just st can’t quite see them.

The fog lifted, but there was a persistent and growing cloud cover which kept the temperature down (yay!) but raised concerns of rain or even snow.

The trail led through some beautiful areas where the Miners Lettuce was dying off in a pink splendor 

And a bit further up the trail I came across Bear tracks

I kept my eyes peeled but did not see the bear.  Rats!

At the next water sorce I found a very fat and content frog- my guess is that this source will soon have eggs and then tadpoles…

I chose to get my water a bit further upstream from that plastic jug capturing the spring trickles.

I found another friend today!

I love these guys!

I also found a non-friend just in time: this one’s rattle is not developed enough to make a noise.

That’s rattlesnake number 8!

I set up camp and decided not to coyboy camp – the weather was too threatening.  Medic showed up and camped nearby.  It started raining at 8 pm.  And when I awoke…. well, that’s part of tomorrow’s story….

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 5 — day 40

PCT mile 558.51 to 572.92

We raided the free hotel breakfast and I especially focused on enjoying bottomless Orange Juice — something attractive about sweet fluids these days :).

Medic wanted to run some errands so I decided to hit the trail.  I tried hitchhiking at the main intersection in downtown Tehachapi but was not having much luck, so I started writing a text to a person who offers rides to the trail heads for a fee.  As I was typing, and therefore not thumbing, a car pulls over and the driver says “where can I take you?”.  I love this town!  His name is Martin and he’s a trail angel who drove me back to where I left — the cost?  A photo of the two of us

The hike from here was through even more Wind Turbine farms


And cow pastures.
With reminders of which way to go…

I dropped back down ooze of the mountains to Hwy 58 – this is the spot that Cheryl Strayed started her PCT hike, and sure enough, in the hiker register box is her signature 

Although… I think she hiked her PCT sections in 1995, not 1998….  

Trail Angels left oranges for us hikers and even though it was a bit sunburnt, I enjoyed it!   The next part of the hike followed the highway and I saw an interesting dried mud flat

And a bunch of great flowers

Here’s a look back at the wind farms

I also saw one of my favorites again

And a great view of where I came from.

I hiked up into this new ridge late into the afternoon and just before I arrived at my campsite I came across rattlesnake number 7 — or at least part of it…

I tried to get a response by poking it with my hiking poles, but it seems he/she was so preoccupied with being in the hole it did not care. Later I went back and found no trace of the snake.

I camped on top of the windy ridge in an area sheltered by some trees — they did a good job because it was windy tonight!

Thanks for reading!