Monday, July 30, 2012


  The mosquitos were active last night. We had planned on sleeping out, cowboy style. All went well for about an hour. Then I could not take the mosquitos any longer. As soon as I was about to fall asleep, the sound of a mosquito buzzing towards me filled my ear. Finally I could not take anymore and I set up the tent.
   Fell asleep quickly, but another hour later, I woke to a bloody nose. I think that all the dust lately really messed my sinuses up. It stopped bleeding quickly though, and back to sleep I went.
  6 am and we were awake. Not by my choice. Lauren wanted to get a big mileage day in. I could have slept much longer myself.
   On we went though. Guess we were both exhausted. Never made great time today. Lauren was stung by a yellow jacket. I had the bear rope rock hit my lip/shoulder/chin. Ow. We are both tired. Havent had a zero mile day since Bridgeport, some 525 miles ago. Looking forward to a day off in the town of Mt. Shasta. Sleep now...


    Before we started this hike, a lot of folks reminded us of the dangers of embarking on an expedition like this. I have heard it before every long hike. They say to take bear spray, ask if I am worried about bears, snakes, giardia, lymes disease, West Nile, dehydration, sun burn, cliffs, rocks, and rabid animals. I have learned to listen to the concerns, but also let them know that I can handle things okay. My rule is to simply not get myself into a situation I can't get out of.
    A little known fact about hiking is that it is much more likely that a person will get injured while in a car on the way to the trailhead. Not much out here can compare to the dangers of moving at 75 miles per an hour in a large chunk of metal, surrounded by other vehicles doing the same. Nope, 2.5 miles per hour is pretty safe, biggest risk is probably a stress fracture. Like the one I received on the Appalachian Trail in 2004. The doctor said I had walked too much. Painfuul, but after two weeks and the help of family driving me to Maine, I was back on the trail.
    But honestly, I think I should worry more about my family and friends in the other world. They have to drive everyday! They have stresses that I know little about, mortgages, car loans, and work! My biggest stress is staying healthy and eating enough to do that.
  We did have an encounter with a rattlesnake today, first one on the trail. Lauren walked right past it, jumped just as she saw him, 4" from her right leg. I watched as his head followed her leg. This was  not an agressive snake, he quickly retreated to the nearby shrubs. It was exciting and scary at the same time. Had she kicked the snake or hit him with her pole, it may have snapped at her. Glad we made it through!
    We had  a great day though. A little cooler than yesteerday, and the views of Mt Shasta have been spectacular. Though this section is a bit monotonous, it has proven to be better than people had warned us about. I think the worse sections of the PCT may still be better than the best of the AT. Life is good, and we feel alive!
    Lauren even gave me a foot rub tonight, as my  new shoes are so uncomfortable. Very sweet, how am I so lucky?


   Trail angel Steve reminded us yesterday that us hikers complain a lot! He of course was joking, but its also very true. Anything we get a chance to complain about, we do. Mosquitos, blisters, back aches, heavy packs, chaffing, worn out shoes, just to name a few.
    Somedays we have to remind ourselves that we made the choice to be out here. Today I had some of those moments. I sent new  shoes to  Drakesbad a few days ago, and carried them 60 miles to Burney where I trashed the old pair. The old pair had seen about 450 miles, really good for a pair of runners on trail. But this new pair feels very uncomfortable. Have my feet really grown more? I hope not, size 16 is hard enough to find. This new pair is so uncomfortable that after 10 miles of hiking today, I called Zappos and ordered a new pair, sent to the next town. Really hoping my feet arent swelling up...
   Because I was walking funny with the new shoes I was also gifted by the chaffe fairy. All the areas I should not mention here were pretty badly chaffed by the end of today. This causes me to walk even funnier.
   I think the chaffing caused my back to hurt. Hunched over, walking like a duck! Wow my life is hard. I would still rather be out here on a hike than be a lot of places. Despite the chaffage, sore back, and achy feet.
   We left Burney pretty late after breakfast with Steady and trail angel Steve. They then gave us a ride back to the trail. The trail was easy walking and we have hiked over 22 miles after 11 AM.
   I am exhausted. Time to rest.


   Today we have just 2 months left to finish this hike. We are about 1200 miles from the end. So just an average of 20+ miles a day will get us to Canada by September 25th. Sounds like a lot, but totally doable.
    We only did 12 miles today though. We took a ride into Burney with trail angel Steve and his wife Steady.
   We have been spoiled by Steve, he has met us at a lot of road crossings with cold sodas and snacks. Today he took us to a really tasty all you can eat pizza place.
    Lauren had a great idea of grilling out this evening, so she bought brawts, and a lot of other goodies. We had a great time talking with Steve, Steady, and Skeeter. Back to the trail tomorrow!


   Then we ate the drakesbad breakfast. It was incredible. Cereal, oatmeal, toast, quiech, crossaints, tea, coffee. When we had eaten everything on the table, the waitress asked if we were still hungry. We all glanced at each other and quickly replied, "not yet". We were then given eggs and potatos and pinto beans. All of this for $5. I love Drakesbad.
   When we had finished eating, Lauren and I went for one last hot springs swim. I wanted to pay our tab, but the entire staff at the ranch was in a meeting. The owner of Drakesbad came down to the pool and asked if I was Andrew. I had not paid my tab yet and she was a bit concerned. I quickly paid it and let her know that I would never run off without paying a tab, and hoped no other hikers would either. I feel kind of bad that they would assume I was not going  to pay, not a good feeling to be wrongly acused. I hope that no hikers would skip out on any tab, particularly a $10 amazing dinner at Drakesbad!
   We were finally on the trail by 11 AM. Hard to leave the vortex of Drakesbad. We made great time all day long. It was flat. Flatest stretch of trail I have seen yet.
   We dodged a thunderstorm somehow. It dumped a ton of hail a couple miles up from where we waited under a tree.
   We leap-frogged with Easy Miles, Steady, Paws, and Hamburger all day.
   20 miles today. We are camped just a few miles from Old Station. Plan to get there early and stay until the evening when we will take off and begin a 29 mile waterless stretch. I look forward to it =).


    Amazing day. Seriously. Food just did not stop coming. Around noon and the North Fork of the Feather River, we found a cooler with goodies left by Ninja's mom. She then showed up with even more food. String cheese, soda, sandwhiches, and beer. Hard to leave that spot.
   Then we marched on to Drakesbad. We had heard stories of Drakesbad Guest Ranch giving hikers huge amounts of food for very little money. We had no idea what to expect. Upon arrival we were given loaner clothes to wear while they washed our clothes. Then they showed us where the shower was. After lounging for another 2 hours in the hammocks and chairs, we were given dinner. It was family style. So for me, Lauren, Paws, Hamburger, Easy Miles, and Skeeter, we gorged. A plate full of rice, a plate full of veggies, a plate full of tender juicy slabs of pork, a plate full of potatos, and a plate of eggplannt parmesian. When I say a plate full, I mean a heaping mound on a large plate. Also 2 loaves of fresh bread. This was also followed by cheesecake. All of this for just $10 a peerson. I love this place.
    We took a swim in the hot springs pool and are camped half a mile from the ranch. This will provide easy access to the all you can eat breakfast buffett in the morning.
  We hiked 22 miles today and I would hike 22 miles everyday if it involved a hiker dinner at Drakesbad Ranch with great company. Amazing. Its after 10 pm though now, time for sleep.


   Our first sizeable waterless stretch was today. Only 13 miles, but our longest yet on this trip. For me its no big deal, in fact its kind of fun to see how far I can carry water for. On the Hayduke Trail, d=rt and I went 20 miles regularly without water. Longest stretch for me has been around 40 miles.
     Lauren is adapting to the dryness too. She was nervous about having to conserve water when we started this hike. We make a point to talk about where the next water is, and estimate how long it will take to get there. We are making it work.
    We have a much larger waterless stretch coming up. 33 miles along the Hat Creek Rim. When I was first made aware of this long stretch, I was in Sierra City. I overheard someone talking about a water cache that helps make the section shorter. I couldnt help myself from telling them my concerns with water caches. If people depend on these  caches, eventually someone will get there and find no water. This happened to a friend of mine on the PCT in 2006. It is also littering, leaving jugs of water on the trail in the middle of nowhere, not cool. I could rant more, but why? My point is that Lauren and I will carry 33 miles of  water and will love the fact that we are self reliant enough to get through without support.
    We did get some support today that I would never turn down. The support came in the form of pizza, soda, gatorade, pringles, candy, and water at a trailhead. A thru-hikers husband named Steve was performing trail magic. He gave us all kinds of goodies. The food just kept coming. Super nice guy. This is much different than a water cache though. We were not expecting Steve to treat us, and though we could have survived without the goodies, it was much appreciated!
    The miles seemed to fly by today and we did over 27 miles total. It felt good too. Though our feet are tired, it was one of the best 25 mile days yet.
   We leap frogged with Itchy, Double Sprainbow, Hamburger, and Easy Miles all day. Starting to feel as if we have a group we belong with. One thing I will never get over is how many different types of people there are out here, and how we mostly all get along. Tonight we are camped with a 59 year old lawyer from Portland and a 60-something year old man from Germany. Both of them are people I would likely never talk to in my other life. But out here we are sharing a common goal, and go through the same struggles and joys everyday. Thru-hiking is truly magical!


    "Wander a whole summer if you can. If you are business-tangled and so burdened by duty that only weeks can be got out of the heavy laden year, give a month at least. The time will not be taken from the sum of life. Instead it will be indefinitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal."  -- John Muir

    This quote makes me feel really good about hiking for several months. No, I am not missing 7 months of work. I am truly doing something that may not only live longer, but have something to remember doing... Oh that summer of 2012!
   I often think about this trail we are walking, and why we are walking it. Its hard to say why folks hike the trail. For the glory? But really what glory is it? Walking long distances is not for everyone by any means, but the glory after finishing aa long trip wears off fast. Then you are stuck with your own feelings of the trip. The memories of the sunrises, sunsets, pain, the feelings of success and failure, sometimes at the same time. Whatever it is, I do love it.
    We enjoyed a leisurely morning of milkshakes and breakfast at the Caribou Cafe. Then on to the trail thanks to Brendaa Braaten. Extremely nice of them to host us and drive us around town.
     When we finally started hiking it was around noon. Hot hot hot down at 2000 feet. We had a long way to go up too. 5000 feet up. It was a long, sometimes steep climb. We made it up and over and camped early. Crazy to think 15 miles and 5000 feet up after noon is an easy day. I must have left my toiletries at the Braatens. Guess me and Lauren will share a toothbrush for a couple days... not sure if its love or just plain gross.


   For thefirst time in over a month, me and Lauren are apart. Of course we take care of our bodily functions and what not alone. We sometimes hike for a ways alone  too. But today we decided to go 7 miles by ourselves. There was a huge downhill, 4300 feet of loss in 7 miles. Right now Lauren's shin splints are really bothering her, causing her to stop often while hiking downhill. I have knee pain when I slow too much. So for 3 hours we hiked alone today. It felt good to hike my own pace but missed Lauren, strangely.
   I went down to the Belden Town Resort while waiting for Lauren. What a strange place it was. I quickly bought some beer, doritos, and walked back to where the trail came towards town.
   I waited for Lauren and drank a couple beers. Felt good to be in the shade and relax with a beer. She showed up and I surprised her with beer and doritos. Good stuff for both of us!
    The Brattens of Belden are letting us camp at their hiker friendly house. Young Geezer, Easy Miles,Double Sprainbow, Itchy, Carpenter, Creeper, Hamburger, and Skeeter are here with us. Very relaxing atmosphere. Easy Miles helped Lauren tape her shin. Hopefully it will help her keep truckin. It was very nice of him.
     The poison oak mentioned in our guides was not present on the decent into Belden. Instead we were greeted by blackberries at the bottom! Spotted a weasel on the decent as well. It rained this morning. Just as Lauren told Easy Miles that its not going to rain for a long, long time. The journal goes a long way back here. Spotted all my good friends from 2006, miss you all!
    Time for rest.


    Today was rather eventful, more so than usual. For me, the day started at 3 AM. I was honestly paranoid about the food not being hung in a tree. I heard some branches snap and thought to myself that its probably a bear, or a deer, or at least a racoon. Whatever it was, I am sure it wanted to kill us in our sleep. So I shined my my light around. Finally spotted a set of eyes, glaring into my light. It was the eyes of death I thought. Then it darted off, crashing branches, it sounded large. Lauren finally woke up, asked what I was doing. I always try to play it cool when something is wrong, so I told her I was just waiting to see the sunrise... with my headlamp on... at 3 AM. She simply told me to go back to sleep. Which I eventually did. Maybe our snoring would keep the beast back.
   Around seven, we awoke. I looked all over for bear tracks... only found some deer tracks. They say that sasquatch covers his tracks, maybe thats what it was. He likes these Northwest areas right?
    We started hiking late, but we hiked fast. A sweet swimming hole on the Wild and Scenic Feather River awaited us. We got there at 11, and stayed until 1230. The water was great. Easy Miles, an lawyer from Portland joined us. It felt so good to swim in the cool water.
   We then began a climb out of the river valley, 3300 feet up. We noticed a helicopter flying around us. I thought, maybe someone is getting rescued. Or theres a fire nearby. The helicopter made several runs past us, soon we noticed the bucket it was towing underneath, definately a fire nearby. We eventually rounded a corner and noticed a red gu on everything. Guess the helicopter is dropping more than water. Rounded another corner to find heavy smoke, and 15 firefighters. I was worried we would have to turn around. But they said hike on through. The fire was tiny, probably less than an acre. Well under control too. They said it was probably a hiker who started the fire though, as a campsite was nearby. Its such a dry year, I hope folks are being careful.
   The rest  of the day was rather uneventful. We hiked 25 miles and until 830 again. Lauren's shin is hurting again, hoping it feels better tomorrow! Now I need sleep.


     The wind roared all night and this morning it evven looked like aa storm might be in the makings. Poofy clouds were forming and blowing in from the West.
    We talked a lot today about Canada. I told Lauren that it is important to me to try and make it. She wants to make it, but wants to have a good time while making it. Its such a hard compromise for both of us. I know I can hike 20 a day and still have a lot of fun, but 20 takes us a bit longer and is a bit harder than going solo. I wouldnt trade my hiking partner for anything, just hard to both agree on how we will hike. We are going to try to make it, 20 a day average. It wont be  easy. The hardest thing is thhat if we want a day off, we need to do four 25+ mile days. Whatever will be, will be. I get burned out thinking about miles, but if we want to make it, we have to think about it and act on it.
   We took a lot of breaks today, and still made 26 miles. Camped at 9, after missing a good campsite. The views today were good, but the forests were amazing. Spotted a black bear today, looked like a yearling. Makes me miss working at the Wildlife center in Helena. Bears have so much personality, each one different from the next. As ironic as it is, we are not hanging our food tonight either. There simply is no trees with branches in this dark old growth forest. Just as I had ridiculed other hikers a day before for leaving food out at night. Now its dark and in this quiet night we are hearing branches snap....


    The town stay in Sierra City was amazing. It was so great to meet so many friendly people in such a great setting. This morning it was hard for us to get going. I was all ready, but Lauren was enjoying socializing and taking her time leaving. I was feeling nearly sick to my stomach after all the food I ate this morning and last night.  Or maybe it was just town. At 6 AM a work crew began re-paving the highway in front of the store. The noise from them woke me up.
      After a trip to the post office, we hit the trail. Bill from the Red Moose gave us directions for hiking out of town. He drew us a map that involved many un marked old mining roads. The attraction is that it would take us right out of town, and past an old mine we could possibly check out. It would also cut off a few miles. I am in no way a purest, anytime I can take a sweet detour, I will.
   The route had us climbing up steep jeep roads, it was beautiful though. I was a bit nervous that we were off track a couple times, but Bill's map did not lie!  It was right on, and after 6 miles we were on the PCT.
   The rest of the trail today was super smooth. We walked about 20 miles total, and are both feeling pretty strong. The walking was easy and though the views were less spectacular than in other places, it was very peaceful. There is something about walking in a forested area. I wouldnt normally notice it,  but we have been out of the woods on high ridges for so long. The woods are confining and comfortable at the same time. They can make me feel costrophobic yet completely free at the same time. The moss on the trees here makes the trees feel full with life, a glimpse of what Washington holds for us perhaps?
    It is so windy right now, and chilly... A cold July night in Northern California. Crazy. Time for rest.


    We were camped just a mile or so before Sierra City. It felt great to be so close, we started a little later and got into town quickly. Lauren is always ready before me on a day she knows sshes getting a shower.
    We were greeted at the Red Moose Cafe in Sierra City by many wonderful hikers and the owners Bill and Margaret. They were so hospitable. The breakfast seemed to be never ending, pancakes kept coming.
    Margaret then showed us the showers, laundry, and yard to camp in. They offer this all free to hikers, amazingly nice.
   We camped in the yard, about 200 vertical feet up from a beautiful stream. We enjoyed a shower, but also spent quality time in the swimming hole today. I may be the cleanest I have been on this hike yet.
    Lunch consisted of The Gut Buster, 1 pound of burger from the general store and a large ice cream. We received 4 packages today, one from the family, one from the Balckens, and our 2 resupply boxes. Thanks family for the goodies.
  Dinner was endless ribs. The Red Moose rocks. Best meal on the trail yet. I am excited for breakfast, and also excited to return to the trail tomorrow!

Monday, July 16, 2012


   Today we hit 500 miles of hiking. After 4 weeks of hiking, thats not bad. This is Lauren's first long hiking trip, so 125 miles a week is awesome!
   The wind howled all night in that saddle. We were just thankful to be out of the mosquitos.
   The hike today was pretty smooth, 27 miles of gradual downhill. I love the downhills like this, but they hurt Lauren. Her shoes are wore out, but she was stoked to try and make it to a swimming hole mentioned in one of our guides.
   The trail was amazing again today. As we descended down to 5000 feet, the flora changed gradually. From ponderosa pines and firs to giant cedars and even maples and oaks. Best of all, the mosquitos are not down here.
    We made it to the sweet swimming hole late, it was after 6. Made dinner and jumped in. The water was freeezing. But the waterfall plunge pool was irrestible. I feel so clean now! We are hobo camping tonight, nearly under a bridge, along a river, downhill from a road, no tent, it feels good. We are just a couple miles from Sierra City, should get in real early. We cant heead out until Monday though, we need to visit the post office. Should be a good town stop.


    Today was what we consider an easy day. We slept in and didnt leave the Bensen Hut until 9 or so. It was so beautiful up there. We slept on the second floor and had a the windows open, creating a perfect cross breeze. We also enjoyed the sunrise, not as spectacular as thee sunset, still amazing. The ridge walk after the hut was a great place to spend a leisurely morning.
   When we reached old highway 40, we found a cooler with sodas in it for thru hikers. Such a great surprise! We also found great trail magic at the Donner Ski Ranch, a hometown feeling ski lodge that gives PCT hikers a free beer. We of course got fries, burgers, and ice cream. Hard to hike after all that food, but we did it.
    This area is full of recreation opportunities. We passed folks rock climbing, running, hiking, road biking, and could see people boating on a lake far below. Old people and young people. Dogs too! Lots of fun talking to day trippers who are amazed by the trail and make us feel like superstars!
    We took another long break at the Peter Grubb Hut where we enjoyed some reading material we found. I found a Civil War magazine and Lauren found a Tina  Faye book. After another 2 hour break we marched onward.
   The trail dropped down a bunch and we were quickly swarmed by thousands of mosquitos. We walked quickly, swatting ourselves until we reached a saddle and cooked dinner. This was another hour long break. Then down to White creek where they were terrible yet once more. We grabbed water and headed for higher ground. Hiked until 830, but sleeping in a windy saddle will keep us a little more sane, as long as these wind gusts dont blow the tent off the mountain!


   Today was amazing. We had a goal of hiking 26 miles to a Sierra Club hut. In between us and the hut lay three climbs, equaling over a vertical mile. We hiked around three ski areas today. Its funny how many ski resorts I have hiked around. The CDT goes through a few, as does the AT. I could probably say I have  been to some of the  best ski areas in the country!
    It was also really cool seeing Lake Tahoe all day. Its such a beautiful lake. The  Tahoe Rim Trail looks amazing, we met several folks hiking the rim trail today, all seemed to enjoy it.
  The hut is amazing. The crest was even more amazing. I feel extremely lucky to be here and to be doing what many only dream of doing!


   I had thought that after Tahoe, the mosquitos would not be as bad, wow I was wrong. The blood sucking devils attacked by the thousands this afternoon. They kinda try to ruin everything. Hard to enjoy a break with them attacking, hard to enjoy hiking while constantly swatting them. I feel whiney about it, but what are you gonna do? Even the 30% deet stuff didnt seem to work.
    At least I have Lauren with me. If I were at this alone, it could be pretty miserable. We still find ways to enjoy the day, even with the bloodsuckers.
   The morning was spectacular non-the-less. Desolation wilderness has over 167 lakes. I think we walked by 10 of them  today. We even jumped off a rock ledge into one lake, about a 15 foot drop. It felt great, so refreshing!
    We are both tired and i am a bit grumpy. Need a good nights rest. We are going to shoot for a 26 mile day tomorrow, could be a long day, should also be beautiful.


   Tahoe was a blast. Truly the best town stop yet in my opinion. We got a nice room at a casino, ate at an alright all you can eat buffet, shopped at a real grocery store, saw Moonrise Kingdom in the theatre, and today I won $173 in a slot machine. Only played $20, but in 10 minutes I had won, and walked away. It paid for the movie, dinner, hotel room, and my resupply for the next 7 days. Exciting, though I dont feel like I earned it!
   We left Tahoe late, didnt start hitching until after 5. We ate at a sub shop that had amazing bbq chicken and both of us had a beer. That seemed to make us less eager to hit the trail. We visited a great outfitter, Lake of the Sky. They treat PCT hikers really well. Gave us fruit, had a computer available for us, and gave us 10% off of everything. Very hiker friendly. Then we ate ice cream and started hitchhiking.
   It took about 30 minutes, and honestly we considered staying aanother night. But then I spotted a VW bus. I told Lauren that was our ride, and low and behold, they stopped for us. It was Bob, a guy who gives hikers rides regularly. Very friendly, he drove 5 miles out of his way for us.
   By 6 we were hiking, and beautiful hiking it was, Echo Lake is amazing. As much as I hate to get in to camp at 9,  it was great walking around these lakes at dusk. Amazing sunset, easy walking. We are camped at Aloha Lakes in Desolation Wilderness. Got here late, and there are a lot of folks camped around here. We are close to some, hope we dont annoy them. Good to be back out, even though it doesnt feel so desolate. Its about 10 pm and I gotta sleep!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


    Tahoe today. We got in really early and are staying at one of the big casinos. Pretty crazy being in such a hoppin place. We will head out on the trail again tomorrow, after a bit more food and fun tomorrow morning. Excited to get out and see some new trail. This is where my trip ended in 2006. Now I begin a new exciting leg of this trip. Very excited to feel healthy, happy, and still have money.


Slept so well without a tent last night. I felt great in the morning, full of energy. Lauren was feeling good too. We were on the trail before 7 and it felt great. The scenery was amazing nearly all day as we were up high in some red rocky stuff. We also made really good time up and down the mountains.
   We were looking forward to Carson Pass all day, restrooms, water, and PCT Register. But when we arrived it was after 5 PM, so no water or register. We did have a picnic table and outhouse though, which made us excited. I suppose it is the little things.
   Lots  of folks out on the trail today, even saw a few pcters. I am now dehydrated. Not a lot of water on the trail today. I am exhausted, 25 miles today. Tahoe tomorrow, just 11 miles from town now.


    The miles went by really slowly today. Lauren's feet and shins were feeling okay, but today she felt low on energy. I tried to walk behind her for most of the day, but it was painful on the downhills. The knees seem to take twice the beating when moving slower. So I did hike off a few times ahead of her.
   We took a nice long afternoon break at a lake. Lauren swam in the freezing water while I ate snacks and soaked my feet.
   We hiked another hour after that, camped by a creek. Did about 20 miles today, it seemed to go by really slowly though. We are probably going into Tahoe on Monday. Hoping we can get in early. I feel a bit anxious, wanting more miles. Hard to stop hiking with so much daylight left.


    We took a day off the trail in Bridgeport yesterday. Ate so much amazing food and posted blogs. Also did a really expensive resupply at the general store. $4 pop tarts, $3 lipton noodles, and $1.25 for a snickers. I enjoyed watching TV for a change.
   Today we hit the trail again. We got a pretty quick ride to the trail after donuts at the wonderful bakery.
  Lauren has some shin splints that are bothering her badly on the downhills. On top of that, she got 2 new blisters! I received new shoes yesterday so have happy feet, but now hers are giving problems. So we didnt move fast today. We still covered 15 miles, which is excellent for leaving town with shin splints.
   I am eager to get to the parts of this trail I have not seen yet, after Tahoe. Just 60 more miles off this stuff I saw in 2006. Its really crazy to me how much of this I remember. Its so beautiful too, but I crave new trail.
   I ate an extremely large burrito yesterday. I think it weighed 4 pounds. Then I had ice cream, french fries, and pizza. I feel a bit disgusting now. I need a long day or 2 of hiking, hope we can get it in tomorrow.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


    The 9 mile crest to Sonora Pass is probably my favorite stretch of trail yet. Its so exposed with views in all directions. The colors are amazing. The rock is red, green grass in the valleys, snow on the surrounding high peaks, and crystal clear blue lakes. Amazing.
   At Sonora Pass we found trail magic! Sleeping Bear, the father of a hiker further south, was at the pass with a cooler of gatorade, soda, and beer. He also had chips, oranges, and other snacks, very nice! He offered us a ride into Bridgeport with 2 other hikers, Tortoise and Stonefly. We gladly took it, and the 5 of us crammed into the car. It seemed like a long ride. I guess its 30 miles, very curvy road.
    Bridgeport is a great town that loves the 4th of July. We found great fried food, and a lot of it. We had reserved a hotel room, which is a good thing, this town has filled up. We enjoyed the fireworks, which was probably the best display I have ever seen. The streets were filled with store bought ones going off, right in the middle of the street! Fun stuff to watch.
   We are taking a day off tomorrow. We both need some R&R. We plan to skip Tahoe in an effort to save money and not be overwhelmed by the crazyness of that large city.


  The wrath of mosquitos continued today. We both slept really well last night after fighting for our lives yesterday. I had hoped that our wishes had come true and that they had all died in the night. Well, it didnt happen. They were blood thirsty and hundreds gathered on our tent in the night awaiting our departure.
   We hiked through them again today. I wore my rain jacket and pants and Lauren continuosly swatted her arms with her bandana. Very exhausting. After 3 miles we lost it. I was sweating profusely under my jacket and Lauren could not keep up with the flying devils. So we gave in. Pulled out the stuff with 30% deet. It worked amazingly. First Llauren did it. She was so happy and content, no longer getting bit. Thats when I gave in. Its not good for ya, but neither is getting bit by thousands of mosquitos.
   The rest of the day was more enjoyable. Wilma Lake had the most mosquitos I have ever seen in one place. I tried taking a breath of air and swallowed a few. Extra protein? We still found a bugless spot for lunch along a creek, felt so good.
    We are camped on a saddle on the way up the crest to Sonora Pass. It is so amazing here. The sunset was spectacular and I can barely wait for the sunrise. Should be chilly tonight. Die mosquitos!


     Mosquito hell. Thats what one of our guidebooks describes the section from Tuolomne to Tahoe as. It is hell. If it werent beautiful, I would curse it more. As bad as they are, at least the views around here are spectacular. The last few miles seemed to be the worst we have seen the skeeters. I think I killed thousands today, but also feel like I have thousands oif bites.
   Luckily we found a couple spots without the blood sucking devils today. The first was our lunch spot, a windy, dry outcropping on the way down from a pass. I didnt want to leave!
   We also took an amazing swim in a crystal clear lake. It was also bug free for the most part. It felt amazing to swim in the lake, good way to wash up.
     I am proud of us for keeping it together today. We marched through the battlefield of mosquitos and made 20 miles. I am really hoping they wont be as bad tomorrow, but suspecting that they will be just as bad.
   The sound of huundreds of them buzzing around outside is enough to make me go crazy. So glad we have a tent to sleep in.


    Slept really well in the Tuolomne Meadows campsite last night. We stayed in the same spot that I camped at in 2010 and had 2 bears visit in the night. Nothing last night though. The campsite was quiet and peaceful.
   We got up around 7 and had a great but pricey breakfast  at the cafe. It cost about $15 for me to feel full. Oh well, camping was cheap in Tuolomne and we have been in our tent for 9 nights with no shower. So a little tasty breakfast is alright every now and then.
   We left shortly after breakfast. It was good to be back out on the trail, but still did not feel like the PCT. We passed hundreds of dayhikers and overnighters headed to Glen Aulin, a site with waterfalls and nightly visits by bears.
   The hike after Glen Aulin was wonderful, treed with great views from time to time. We are now camped in Matterhorn Canyon with two other hikers and millions of mosquitos. They are miserable. So glad we have a large tent to sleep in. So tired. Time for sleep.


   The sounds of vehicles, alarms going off, horns going beep, and the steady roar of them passing us as we parralleled the first road that the PCT crosses in 220 miles. Though we had not crossed the road yet today, we followed it to the store here in Tuolomne Meadows. The place was, and still is a zoo. I was so overwhelmed after our 18 mile day. Dehydrated, hungry, and a bit ornary. Lauren was feeling the same way, as she snapped at me at one point. After eating, we both felt much better.
   We even made some new friends with PCTers from Israel. Drank a couple beers and washed up in the river. Felt so good! We are making great time and will hopefully make it to Bridgeport on the 4th.


  Slept really well last night. Having the campground to ourselves was awesome, but even better a PCT hiker and 2 JMT hikers joined us as we sat around the first campfire  we have had on this trip.
   This morning we got a late start, slept in a bit and then enjoyed breakfast at the restaurant in Reds Meadow. It was super tasty, I got the largest breakfast they offered and it wasnt big enough. A little pricey too, but that was expected.
   We enjoyed a leisurely morning.  I made phone calls while Lauren wrote postcards and journaled. It was a great way to enjoy the morning. At 1030 we took off. Got lost right away in the maze of trails around Reds Meadow. Found our way though, and spent the rest of the day paying better attention.
   It always feels great to be back on the trail. One highlight of the day was passing a group of 10 Asians. They had at least 4 generations on this hike, and must not have known we were behind them, because wwe followed them for a good quarter mile.
  It was hot down low today. But now we are camped at Island Pass and eenjoying a chilly sunset. I am exhausted and my stomach is feeling funky. Think its the town food. We did 19 miles today and have 17 to go to get to Tuolomne Meadows. Looking forward to it!


  Slept so well at Squaw Lake last night. Didnt wake up until 5, which is late for me. Lauren got ready in record time, faster than me today. We were both excited to be headed to Reds Meadow for burgers, beer, and free hot spring showers.
   We made great time as we went up and down for what seemed like all day. We forded Virginia Lake as I did in 06'. It did take some convincing for Lauren to follow me. I had to remind her that her trail name is Groler Bear, a mix of Grizzly and Polar bear. She did it and it made great footage. Which reminds me, we are making a dance video. Dancing from Kennedy Meadows to Canada.
    We made it to Reds Meadow at 4 pm. We ate burgers, drank beer, and are stealth camping at the closed campground. The road to Mammoth is opening tomorrow. A big windstorm came through this winter with 150 mph winds. It knocked over thousands of trees. Luckily the store and restaraunt opened for us hikers. The free hot spring showers were condemed by the state of California. So we washed in the cold creek, and life is still very good. Should be at the big shin dig in Bridgeport for the fourth of July.
  By the way. Every day I spend with Lauren, I seem to fall more in love with her. Life is good.


     The lake we were camped above was beautiful this morning, and the bugs seemed to be gone when we first got out of the tent. We had a really long descent from Marie Lakes down to Bear Creek and as we descended the skeeters got more and more present. At one point Lauren stopped to use the wilderness room, and I tried to wait patiently. But the bugs were so thick that as I wiped 10-20 off of one leg, the other leg would get covered. I ended up putting on my pants, rain jacket, and headnet. Just about that time, Lauren showed up, and we ran down the trail. That may have been the thickest I have ever seen them.
     Bear Creek was a breeze to cross. We did get wet feet, but nothing like how it was in 2006. I have got to stop talking about 06' though. It was such a tootally different experience, but I talk about it too much.
   We took a great 2 hour break at Mono Creek. No mosquitos there. We washed up in the creek and it felt great. Rinsed my socks at least 20 times and the water still came out brown. We are dirty. I am lucky to have a partner who does not mind being dirty, or me being dirty.
   We enjoy the long afternoon breaks. It really breaks up the day. It gives us the chance to really enjoy the country we are walking through. I hope we continue to do it further north.
   The climb up over Silver Pass was tough. My shoes are completely shot, can not wait to get new ones in Tuolomne Meadows. After about 15 miles, my feet beegin to ache. Hope I can nurse these dead asics another 58 miles.
   We are camped at Squaw Lake, after 22 miles today. Exhausted and should sleep well. Reds Meadow tomorrow.


   Today was amazing. We started early, and it was super cold, about 30 degrees. Hard to get moving, but felt great when we did get into the sun. We crossed the very cold, but not so swift Evolution Creek around 8 AM. Last time I was here, the creek was at least twice as big as it was today. We took the high water route and still were in water up to my waist. Today we got our knees wet at the low water crossing.
   The walk down to Muir Trail Ranch was very easy and we made great time. It was also very pretty. I love watching the transitions from high alpine down to semi desert with sage brush and all.
   At Muir Trail Ranch we were greeted by Pat and 2 dogs. Pat was extremely friendly and helpful, got us our bucket that we sent ourselves right away. We went through everything, so glad we sent ourselves so much food. Also glad we sent 2 beers! The ranch was very laid back, picnic tables in the shade. Also several buckets of hikers leftovers. I resupplied my hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and even found a book aabout the John Muir Trail to carry. We loaded up and were out in an hour. We walked right to Shooting Star Meadows, where we enjoyed a somewhat dirty hot spring. Drank our semi cold Lewis and Clark beers while soaking in the semi hot springs. Thats good livin. We came out smelling clean and somewhat less greasy!
   We then began the 3000 foot climb out of the valley to Seldon Pass. It was 2 in the afternoon when we started the climb, not the best timing, but a great climb. Lauren did not want to stop, so we went to the top and on to Marie Lakes. I must say I am exhausted, but we did over 20 miles, climbed 3000 feet, did a resupply, and drank a beer while soaking in a hot spring. I can not complain, I feel great. So does Lauren, we are getting stronger.


  The climb up Muir Pass was amazing. We started early again and made it to the top before 10 am. There was no snow, all the way up. It was so windy on top that the hut was extremely inviting. We joined four other hikers and ate lunch in the hut.
   I spent some time catching frogs in one of the lakes today. I am pretty sure they were northern leopard frogs. They  had gone extinct some time ago in the Sierras. The reason being pollution. Frogs are very sensative to changes in there water. They were reintroduced though, about three years ago, and are thriving in the areas they were reintroduced to. I personally am in full support of any species willing to help lower the population of misquitoes.
   I also spent time catching some fish today. I caught 4 with my bare hands, all beautiful rainbow trout, all too small for us to eat... oh well. Still fun to know I can do it.
    I love the Sierras so much. It is also a good feeling to just walk all day. Not a care in the world. Just left leg, then right leg. We stopped after 17 miles today. Laurens feet were tired, and I craved a dip in the Evolution Creek. The water was warm, it felt so good to wash out my nasty shorts and boxers. Also felt good to rinse myself on a secluded beach along the creek. This is really livin.
   Tomorrow we will pick up our resupply at Muir Trail Ranch. Very excited to find out what all we put in our bucket. The one thing we do remember is two Lewis and Clark Brewery beers. It feels so good not resupplying in a  town. We won't be able to spend any money, nothing to buy there. Instead we will get the stuff we sent ourselves, load it in our packs and head out. There are also some hot springs in the area we plan to check out.


Got the much needed sleep last night. I always try to find a site that has many pine needles, nice and soft, even for my well used z-rest. Everytime I look at Lauren's, two inch thick thermarest I am slightly jelous. I am considering buying one in South Lake Tahoe. But for now I make sure we have a soft spot to sleep!
   We woke up early and were hiking by 7 am. It was so cold! Lauren has a gadget that told us it was 33 when we started hiking. But the uphill climb to Mather Pass had us sweating in no time.
   I decided to hike at my own pace and meet Lauren at the top of Mather. It felt so good to be outside early in the day, headed up a pass that I am fond of. It looks like it did in August a couple years ago. Nothing like the June of 2006. I still love the pass, so beautiful all the way up.
    The descent down to Palisades Lakes felt so good. When at the lakes we took a long break. I played in the creek trying to catch fish with my bare hands. I had my hands on more than one good sized fish, but they slipped away. Hopefully one of these days I will snag some trout for lunch.
   This is really livin though. Sitting on a shore of a crystal clear lake. The outlet cascades over a cliff, over a thousand feet before it begins to level off. The trail does the same in a series of short steep switchbacks, eventually leading us to the Middle Fork of Kings River. I cooked a quick dinner of a mountainhouse I bought on clerance a few months ago. It was  cheap and tastes great, but contains 37 grams of fiber, 142% of your daily value. Needless to say, it offers gas that is almost painful sometimes.
   Luckily we walked another three and a half miles to a beautiful campsite along the river. Some of the gas escaped, some will escape throughout the night. I suppose the smells may really be a test for our relationship. But hey, she farts too!
   We made 18 miles today, and it felt great. Happy to be here. We will head up Muir Pass tomorrow. I cant wait!


   Yesterday while Lauren enjoyed a polar plunge in Rae Lakes, I walked around and saw thousands of fish rising. I really wished I had my fly rod. I found a PBR on the side of the lake. Looked like it had been there since last year, the colors were all faded. I drank it with dinner. Amazing way to end a great day.
   This morning came too soon. I did not sleep the best, and it was chilly, about 35 degrees at 6 am. We were on the trail quickly though, and enjoyed the amazing views on our descent.
  A National Park service employee stopped us on the way down, aasking for our permit. We were trying to hurry past him so we would not have to show the permit which was burried in my pack. After unpacking, he said he wouldnt have asked if he knew it would be so much work. He looked at the permit, and sent us on our way.
   The downhill today to Woods Creek was so smooth. We made great time and had a good time chatting with everyone out for the weekend.
   The climb up to Pinchot wore us both out. 8 miles to the top. It was very pretty though, the colors of the rocks are amazing up here.
   We are both hiking about the same pace now. I am still carrying a little bit of her weight, but really glad we are hiking about the same speed.
   Today we are camped about a half mile before South Fork of the Kings River. We were both exhausted and need a goodnights sleep.
  I am excited to climb Mather Pass tomorrow. Its one of my favorite passes and tomorrow will be the third time I will climb it.
   Dinner consisted of dehydrated spaghetti, sauce, dried venison, fresh sierra onions, tabasco sauce, chedder cheese, and a cheese roll. Who said we were roughin it? Thats good eatin'.
   17 miles today and I am sleepy.


  Yesterday we took the day off in Bishop. Though we had only hiked 6 days and 100 miles, we were in need of some rest. We ate really well and spent time with Challenger and Test. It was a really good day, and we both got a lot done. Lauren bought some new shoes with a ton of cushion hoping they will help with her feet problems. I ate a ton of baked goods from Schats bakery, and a watermelon.
   Today we were both super happy to be getting back to the trail. We took the 7 am shuttle back to Independance. We shipped a good amount of stuff home today, including gloves and thermal bottoms, all an effort to lighten up. We got a ride up to Kearsarge Pass in good time, but the guy asked for $5 for each of us. By this point we had met Sheppard, an 18 year old hiker, headed back to the trail too. If I had known it was $5 for each of us, i would have turned the ride down, as there was plenty of traffic headed up that way anyway. Oh well, it worked out.
    The trail up to  Kearsarge Pass was very busy. Passed a lot of hikers headed down, and many headed up. The climb wasn't bad either. But the further up we went, the more smoke we started to see. Not sure where its from, but it is smokey up here, not terribly, still a little worrisome. The pass seemed easy and felt good. The temperature had dropped since a few days ago.
     Then we were on to Glen Pass. Also felt good. We are camped at Rae Lakes with our new friend Sheppard. 13 miles today. I had a lot of fun today too, with both Lauren and Sheppard. Very happy to be enjoying this amazing place with amazing people!
   Lauren seems to enjoy her new shoes. I enjoy them too! The colors are amazing and fun to see her wearing =). She is going to give me a foot massage tonight because I have helped carry her food. I am excited. I even washed my feet.