2007-04-30 Lazy Day

It wasn’t hard to get moving this morning. Though it was only 6 am all I had to do was stuff my sleeping bag into my pack and be on my way. And in that manner I reached Chihuahua Valley Road, 7 miles away, before 10 am. I went up the dirt road looking for Mike’s water tank expecting to filter it just in case. The tank was marked as undrinkable so I followed directions to the house and what I found was amazing.

Inside a screened porch were two ‘cots’, a huge stash of bottled water, boxes of sweets, juice, and assorted hiker supplies like duct tape and foot powder. Needless to say I sat out most of the day there. I ate one of George and Caitlin’s extra meals, it was huge and I still have half of it for tomorrow’s lunch. They’re going to put weight on if they can eat this well the whole way. Eventually two couples that had been at last night’s spot rolled in and I felt it was time to move on. They were very nice and friendly but I found them a lot to deal with after just basically sleeping all day. So now I am camped a couple of miles north with Paul (a.k.a. Potential 178) hoping the ants will go to sleep before they discover me.

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


2007-04-29 The task at hand

The three days at Kick Off were great but all the talk of hiking, and meeting people who had done it before, just made me want to get back to it sooner. This morning Sandles, who unfortunately needs time off for family matters, drove Paul and I back to Warner Springs to restart the trail. He did the loop around the town while I got to the small picnic area and took up the siesta position in the shade. I think we were there for about 3 hours and it was still waaaay to hot when we set off again.

Up and around the hill we came across George and Caitlin cooling their feet in a stream, good idea. A few more miles and I stopped on the path to eat some of their extra meals. They are one of those super-organised couples with healthy, freeze-dried, large and varied meals set up and waiting for them from here to Canada. Luckily for me they made a bit too much for the last section and have chosen to share some with me. Today was curry couscous.

I’m sleeping out again, as I suspect I will until Idylwild at the end of the week. It’s so warm here and a tent is too fiddly. It makes me glad for my sleeping bag that Nana and Grandad bought for when I went to Europe back in 2003 ! I think. I’m very cozy in that. And the pack cover Dad got me.

There has only been one day of rain, but I cover my pack with it every night to protect everything inside from dew and things that are out-smarted by elastic. Tonight I got my first skanky water from a spring, there were definitely things floating and swimming in it, so I filtered it through one of the bandanas Tania and Rachel gave me. So thank you for those 🙂

I’m at mile 119.5, heading to Canada!
More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Warner to Idyllwild

2007-04-28 ADZPCTKO

The Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off has been a blast. I’ve met tonnes of like minded long-distance hikers, some from previous years, some from this year, and a few still gearing up for years to come. Meadow Ed gave me a cool pirate bandana, which I will hide when trying to hitch lifts to towns, I came 2nd in the useless gear contest (for my semi-fake student ID) and I think I was 4th in the real gear contest (with my GPS logger). A few people were interested in my logger actually and may want to use the data later, I’m happy to share.

ADZPCTKO.  X1, George, X2, X3, Caitlin

There’s been loads of food and a few sessions to attend where I learned about mountain lions, bears and wilderness first aid. I may even have started to get an inkling of a trail name. Suggestions so far are:
The Concierge – because I was doing a good job of tracking people and names and where they were
Larry of Arabia – because the neck cover on my cap looks a little arabian
The Iron Sheik – same as above, and The White Sheik was already taken
Hot Buns – self explanatory really

I’ll let you know if one gets picked for me.
Location: Lake Morena camp ground

More photos of this day’s journey can be found at ADZPCTKO

2007-04-26 My First Nero

Nero = nearly zero. I only did 1.8 miles of the official PCT today and I even slack-packed it. The Warner Springs loop, which quite a few people miss because they road walk into town and road walk out of town. Davy and I left our packs behind and walked the loop. A very pleasant walk over rolling meadows and woods. I could really get used to the wandering life. With only one of my front pockets and a single pole it was much more comfortable than the last week.

After that we just sat around at the gas station waiting for a ride to the Kickoff party where I am now. Tomorrow night there’ll be 600 hiking folk here, not all of them doing it this year though. I heard almost 400 had applied for a permit, and that’s for all hikes over 500 miles so there are some that aren’t thru-hikers.

Tonight the DVD of photos from 2005 was shown. It really hit home what an adventure is ahead of me. The incredible range of landscapes and conditions that I’ll go through and need to be prepared for. And so many people in that room have done it all. They amaze me and I can’t wait to join their ranks.

Location: Lake Morena Campground

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

2007-04-25 Warner Springs

Sleeping out was cool. The moon was only at half strength but it was really bright and even after it went below the horizon I could see things well enough to move around. Not that I did, I was tucked up and cozy in my sleeping bag. I got going at 6 and stopped as soon as I could to get rid of the thermals. It was another hot day and I got through a lot of water. Coming over the ridge and looking down into Hoover Canyon I could see green grass for the first time in a while. I’ve been in that horrible dry-brown stuff for too long but today it came back to life, I saw camp sites, picnic areas, places that people would actually want to go. It was another couple of hours before I reached it, passing Rachel and her sore feet on the way. At Barrel Springs I found a little encampment enjoying the shade and fresh water. I also found a bottle and chocolate bar from Steve, the trail angel I met at Scissors Crossing. A few hours in the shade there and then I set off across the undulating meadows and ridges, passing Eagle Rock (which looks so much like an eagle it’s amazing it’s natural) and into Canada Verde.

Eagle Rock

Lush green grass, thick shade. It would make a great camping spot. From there you pop out on to the highway 1.2 miles from Warner Springs Thermal Resort. Davy was camped just outside of ‘town’ and spotted my pack coming over the hill. I managed to get into the resort to have dinner and met up with a lot of people from the trail who convinced me to try the pool too. 110 miles of grime washed away and I soaked for an hour before returning to camp outside. I could have crashed in one of their rooms but it didn’t seem fair with Davy alone in the field outside and me not paying to be in the resort.

Location: near Warner Springs Resort

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

2007-04-24 Three Strikes

What a stinker. I was the last one out of the riverbank camp this morning at 7 am, and it wasn’t long before I wished it had been earlier. By 9:30 the heat was amazing. Caitlin and George say they saw a wild turkey but it disappeared before I got there. When I see them again I have a story about Californian burrowing turkeys to tell them, do I have too much time to think? Maybe, I did start work on rewriting the lyrics of ‘Paris to Berlin’ to fit my current adventure, including bits about giardia and water pumps, I’ll get back to you on that. The day was fairly uneventful. I took a four hour siesta under a bush, with my reflective sheet proving worth its weight. As the sun moved I hung it by the metal eyelets I installed and awarded myself another hour of shade.

Campsite in San Filipe Hills

Only just 9 miles today but that’s a lot in this heat. The water cache at the third gate (thanks Jan, Girl Scout and all others connected to it) attracted a lot of people, and we’ve been hanging out here before going off to find our own spots.
I’m sleeping out tonight, a.k.a. cowboy camping. Nothing between me and the stars.

I don’t recall sitting on a cactus at any stage, so why did I just pull three spines out of my butt?

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

2007-04-23 Scissors Crossing (no running)

Today was an easy day, only 9.2 miles and pretty much all down hill. It started in the shade of a cloud forming over the next mountain so we each packed up and headed down to the desert to dry out. I haven’t seen Jacob or Gretta since but they did sign in at the Scissors Crossing water cache. The cache is an awesome gift from three 2003 hikers that helps (along with 3rd Gate) hikers cross the dry stretch caused by traversing the San Felipe hills rather than Volcan Mountain as was the original PCT plan.

Desert Trail

By 2 pm I’d crossed Highway 78 and didn’t like the look of the hill in the heat, so I slept under a bush, as one does when you have no place else to go. A couple of hours later as I was about to start going up I looked south and spied an encampment. At that point only four were there but later on Caitlin, George and Rachel rolled in so now eight of us are tucked up in our own tents/tarps. Rachel actually made her own which is impressive and I’m eyeing Mark’s one with envy. I’ll see models like that at Kick Off and it’ll be good to have a backup in case my Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1 goes bung.

The motorbike that just roared past reminds me that we’re still close to civilisation, and the fart from a nearby tent reminds that we’re also getting away from it.
Highway 78 near Scissors Crossing
Location: Scissors Crossing, Highway 78

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

2007-04-22 After the Windy Ridge

A windy ridge isn’t the surest spot for a tent, and one of the pegs blew out during the night just to prove it. I packed up and left without breakfast hoping to find a sheltered place later. It was pretty cold so if you’d seen me in the first few miles you might have thought I was heading to somewhere polar not strolling alongside the desert as I was.
It was patchy cloud and windy all day, so I am still struggling with costume changes. I think I’ll ditch the t-shirts from home and carry just the icebreaker top and a shirt from REI that does well in warm weather.
I passed a guy today that really didn’t want to be social. While all the other hikers I’ve seen are keen to compare stories and background this guy was monosyllabic and when he passed Rachel and I at a water cache didn’t even wave or break his stride. Each to his own. My feet are blistering up, my saunter has become a stagger and my trekking poles more like walking sticks. I’ve managed to get to almost 70 miles in four days which I think is plenty, but Jacob and Gretta (both stayed at the Mann’s) set off three days ago and are camping here tonight. We’ve settled in early due to a reported rain storm coming over the hill. After that the outlook is good for the week.

P.S. End of day four = new socks!
Location: about 10m from the water tank

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

2007-04-21 After the Storm

whoo weee it was cold this morning. Snow in patches around the camp ground. I’d been in the tent since about 4 the day before so I was glad to get up and stretch. The trail was really pretty with a few inches of snow sitting on the bushes. There were no other footprints where I returned to the trail so I was the first one through that morning. Soon I saw one, and then three different pairs that had been there first. I caught up with Caitlin and George in a few hours and they’d been forced to camp on the trail during last night’s storm. The other footprints were Davy’s who had done the same thing and found 3 inches for snow on his tent. I marched on now and made it to the campground at Burnt Rancheria were I dried my stuff in the sun and attended to my little toe, which is more blister than toe now.

After the Storm

At Mount Laguna all four of us sat in the sun for a while, Davy without his pack as he checked into the lodge for a night. We young ‘uns carried on separately and now I am looking down to the Anza Borrego Desert over 4000ft below. It’s going to be cold up here on the ridge, but I don’t expect snow again for a while.

Met an interesting old timer today, here’s what he said:

“humaner humerner gurgle big tree mumble mabagamana last tuesday humhunmun made great fire wood”

I think he cut up a big tree that had fallen on the trail. Good on him.

Location: dirt track on hill edge of the Laguna Mountain

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

2007-04-20 What a Difference a Day Makes

What a difference a day makes. I woke to cloudy skies and after a few of yesterday’s hikers passed by my little spot I got my stuff packed and headed north. The cloud cover made it really nice for walking, no worries about heat exhaustion today. Lunch with Caitlin & George was nice. They shared miso soup which I really didn’t expect out here. I set off alone from there and a light drizzle started as I passed Karen. For a moment it turned to hail but for the rest of the afternoon it has been just cold and continuous rain. I think I have heard thunder. I came down to Cibbets Flat camp ground in the hope of some shelter, but apart from hiding in the toilet block (they have long drops in America too) I’m out of luck. So I put up my tent in the wind and rain using my string design and freezing my fingers off in the process. Cooked under the fly sheet and then put up the inner tent, keeping most of my stuff dry as I planned. The ranger here said it might snow down to 4000 ft tonight!

I’m at 4200.

This is really making me think about how hard this is going to be. It’s a pretty miserable afternoon here and there may be worse to come, I’m surprised it happened so early, so early that quitting just isn’t an option. Oh for a mountain hut.

Update (6am on day 3): Yes it snowed last night. Not much in the camp ground but I’ve another 2000 ft to get over tonight.
Location: Cibets flat camp ground

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