March 29 – day 3

Mile 33.57 to 52.51 — Long Valley Creek to Pioneer Mail Rest Area

Getting out of the tent was painful! My body is stiff and walking hurts my feet. But, I need to get going and as an incentive there may be cold drinks at the store in Mt. Laguna!  

Mount Laguna is at 6,000 feet elevation and is topped with a forest of pine trees. It was great to be hiking there. Indeed there were cold drinks but it was too early for beer, so Dr Pepper and BBQ potato chips was second breakfast. First breakfast was a single poptart.  

The pine trees disappeared all too soon as we descended the north side of Mt Laguna. We left just in time as the local fire crew started a controlled burn. Let’s hope it stays controlled!  (It did)


We turn a corner and are met with an awesome view of the lower desert and the snow capped mountains beyond. We are headed to those mountains! The snow covered one on the right is Mt. San Jacinto at 10,000 feet, the snowy ones in back and to the left are Mt. San Gorgonio and the Big Bear Mountains.  The Saltin Sea is the blue area way back on the right.  Not sure you can see all that in this photo.


We hiked up and down through low desert scrub (read: no shade).  Luckily I brought my own shade — a “chrome-dome” lightweight umbrella:


I am sooooo glad I had this!  It made a world of difference.  Note that it attached to my pack and so hands free!  I also note that I have quite a beer belly 😩.

Just when we were exhausted we came upon the Pioneer Mail Picnic and Rest Area.    The weather report looked good and there were zero clouds so I decided to cowboy camp here (no tent).  I did see and kill one mosquito, so I slept with my mosquito netting.


Two other PCTers arrived late and also setup here for the night.  I can only imagine how busy this will be in a few weeks when the main hiker herd passes through.

Thanks for reading!

March 28 – day 2. Learning about the word “Crest”

Mile 20.00 to 33.57

I’ve been hiking with a retiree from Michigan named Dave. He hikes a bit faster than me but has about the same daily distance capacity. So far, we are hiking buddies.

We were serenaded at Lake Morena overnight by a few owls, a pack of coyotes and later a dozen wild turkeys. It would have been something if the ey had all run into each other!  I awoke at sunrise and my tent was frozen. I slept very warm so was surprised the brief rain had turned to ice. I packed it up wet knowing there would be plenty of sun to dry out later.


We needed to get an early start because today will be hot and it is all uphill – 3,000 feet of uphill over the next 20 miles! The “Crest” in PCT means this Trail tries to hit every high spot along the series of mountain ranges in CA, OR and WA. That means a lot of up and down really starting today!


We were surprised by two stream fords in the morning. The first we opted to walk across the road bridge. The second was more remote, so we took off our shoes and socks and walked across. I’m always a bit reluctant to go through the hastle of taking off my shoes to cross a stream but always delighted once done!

We refilled with water at Kitchen Creek which was roaring. Many people were here dayhiking and swimming- is this really the desert?

Yes, it is really the desert — the temperature rose to 88•F. We hiked until dusk and finally reached a flat camping spot near Long Valley Creek.  We nibbled at dinner, set up tents and crashed. My feet are so sore and I am exhausted!  
Still excited to be doing this crazy trip!

Thanks for reading!

March 27 – day 1 It’s finally time to start!

PCT mile 0 to mile 20 
We were woken up at 5am and after a breakfast of French toast, eggs, fruit and coffee we piled two SUVs and started the hour and a half dive to the PCT Southern Terminus on the border.  
Finally we turned onto a dirt road where at the end had the monument with the border wall right behind it. There is a wall on this section of the border…

Of course I had to get my picture taken:


As well as our staring group:


And with that done it suddenly felt real — no more planning, obsessing over what and what not to bring, no more endless waiting for this day – it was here and I am starting!

We were spared the desert heat in the morning because of high clouds – excellent! I started down the trail following two others. Within the first 1/3 mile they started following a dirt road by accident. Luckily they turned back and now I was leading – yikes!

I picked the right year and time to start my hike: usually there is no water for the first 20 miles. Hikers are advised to carry 6 liters of water! We carried 2-3 and were fine. We passed a dozen creeks crossing the trail and topped off just in case.  

I was feeling pretty good when I hit my targeted first camp spot at 3:30, so decided to hike the 5 miles to Lake Morena. This started with a big uphill and long slog to the campground. I was exhausted and my feet felt like the soles had been beaten with sticks.  

I set up my tent with about 15 other PCTers. Took a lovely lukewarm shower and hobbled back to my tent to eat dinner (a few cookies) and drink a ton of water. I climbed into my tent at sunset and heard the gentle patting of rain on the tent. It was very tranquil and I fell asleep.
Thanks for reading!

Trail Angels are awesome!

Tomorrow I start hiking at The PCT Southern Terminus, but getting started would be a bit of a problem if it weren’t for the help of family and Trail Angels.

Liz, of course, has been a huge supporter, advisor and confidant.  She’s taking care of timely mailing of my resupply packages, monitoring my progress while taking on all my home duties.

My Dad and stepmom collected me from the San Diego airport, drove me around to get fuel (can’t fly with it, no coffee without it).  They then dropped me off at the San Diego home of Trail Angels Scout and Frodo.

Scout was on the Pacific Crest Trail Association Board and both he and Frodo are passionate about the beauty and importance of the trail.  They open their house to up to 20 hikers _per day_, domestic and international, and help them get started.  They do this from March-May every year.  They will collect hikers from the airport, direct them to local stores, feed everyone dinner, provide a place to sleep, feed us breakfast and shuttle us the 1 1/2 hits to the trailhead!  All with no obligation except to share their love of the trail.
Dinner was great with fresh fruit dessert!  Sleeping arrangements are 3 large tents in the back yard:


But there’s one more place to sleep… up in that tree!  That’s where I’ll be tonight!  How cool is that!  Here’s the view from my bed.


There are 6 others starting PCT hikes tomorrow.  We get up at 5am, eat breakfast, drive out and hit the trail by 7:30.

Right now the worries of what I may have forgotten to bring are fading — I’ll find out soon enough!  Now my concerns are about weather (reports are for gusty winds tomorrow) and how long it will be until I develop my routine – what goes in what pocket, staging lunch for the day so I don’t have to dig through the food bag, etc.

I’m ready though, so I think I’ll go through all my gear just one more time before I go to sleep…

Thanks for reading!

Camping and Resupply

Here is my rough itinerary.  It is very likely that I will not keep to this schedule opting instead to hike more or less on any day or deciding to visit cities or points of interest along the way.

I am mailing some boxes of food and gear to Post Offices in Julian and Idyllwild, maps to Trail Angels in Agra Dulce and a food box up the Kennedy Meadows General Store in the southern Sierras.

 

The rest of my resupply stops will be in towns on or near the trail.

Planning and worrying…

Welcome to my first blog! I am one week away from the start of my Pacific Crest Trail Section hike where I intend to hike from the Southern Terminus in Campo, Ca to the Cottonwood Lakes Campground, some 750 miles away.

I have been mentally preparing for this journey for many months by pouring over maps, reading blogs, watching YouTube videos from past PCT’ers, joining Facebook and email groups, and developing meal and daily mileage plans. Not surprisingly, I still have questions, concerns and late-night worries: what will the snow conditions be on Fuller Ridge near San Jacinto Peak? Do I need crampons instead of micro-spikes? Do I need an ice axe or whippet pole? What about the trail conditions getting to Big Bear? How do I structure my resupply’s? How do I find and communicate with Trail Angels along the way? Etc., etc., etc.

I keep reminding myself that while concern is good, worry is useless, likely detrimental. I will figure this all out with the help of others that I have not yet met.

I have analyzed, packed and unpacked everything multiple times. I have struggled with decisions of what to bring and what to leave. I have finally settled on what I will bring:

PCT_pack_contnets

All the above includes 4 full days of meals, but no water and no fuel.  It weighs in at just under 25 pounds.  I am very happy with that weight — I was sporting 40+ pound packs on my last few long distance hikes!

Here’s a link to another view of what I will be bringing and wearing: my Lighter Pack page.

The Plan

I’m hoping to hike the first 750 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, from the Mexican border near Campo, California to the start of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Lone Pine, CA.

My longest hike to date was my 28-day, 280 mile extended John Muir Trail hike in June-July 2015.  Last year I hiked from Tuolumne Meadows to Lake Tahoe (180 miles).

Here’s my intended route.  I have a permit to start hiking Monday, March 27 and have budgeted thought May to complete.

pct_2017_route

I am very excited to hike in the Southern California deserts and mountains near where I grew up and visited as a kid.