Archive for the ‘CA Northern – P’ Category

Sunday, August 8, 2010 Etna Miles Today: 6.3 Total: 1,600

Sunday, August 8th, 2010


Sunrise light was beautiful on the mountains this morning, with glimpses of the Scott Valley far below. We hiked as quickly as we could, thinking “Etna Road ahead!” But the scenery was so gorgeous that I just had to stop and look at it every now and then. Bill was soon way out ahead of me, and then Ann came along and passed us both! Everybody was “on a roll” for Etna.


When we reached the road, we waited and waited, but no cars came along.   Our hope of making it to church was growing dim– till  a big gray SUV appeared from around the bend, going  west.  I said, “Bummer–there’s a car, but it’s going the wrong way.”  But all of a sudden, the SUV  swung across the road and roared into the parking lot where we were standing, as  the driver side window rolled down and a voice  shouted cheerfully, “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together!” I shouted back, “Berean Bible Church!” “Hop in!” said the driver.  It was trail angel Thomas!  All of us were thrilled to see him.   He even offered everybody clean shirts to wear if they wanted to go to church with us. 


Turned out Thomas had given Babysteps and Flashback a ride earlier and they told him we hoped to go to church, so he came all the way back up and got us! Wow! On the ride down the mountain, all of us snacked on a strange variety of items that he had in the car.  Thruhikers will eat anything, in any combination!  Ann said she’d come to church with us and see what it was like.  Well, it was definitely “different.”  The regular pastor was away, and the sub had totally redone the seating arrangements.  Instead of the standard rows of chairs, there were tables.  The idea was you sit at a table, and you get to discuss things that were brought up during the sermon.  We loved it!   Before church started, I had boldly gone up to one of the church leaders and asked if there was anyone in the congregation we could stay with tonight.  He said, “Sure–I’ll introduce you after the service.” 

And that’s how it ended up that we were were taken home  by Susan Hoag, a wonderful lady who is a musician and had so much in common with us (she also lived in the San Francisco area) that it was amazing. God has blessed us with trail angels who know and love Him! Susan has fed us and blessed us and she says PCT hikers are very welcome to stay with her, especially fellow musicians (she’s got guitars, etc, available!)

Bill and Susan formed a conspiracy to get me to eat as much as possible.  It sure was nice to be able to have home cooking instead of trail food!  I am feeling so much better just being here.  A shower and clean clothes were a big help, too.  And books to read!   I miss books on the trail.  Some of the younger thruhikers do carry a book to read, but Bill and I hike all day till late, and there is no time for reading. 

Tomorrow we’ll get back to the trail, but tonight, it’s REST and EAT!

Walk with Aragorn to Isengard: Edoras


Saturday, August 7, 2010 Miles Today: 27.7 Total: 1,600

Saturday, August 7th, 2010


Oh dear!  I hung my “towel” up to dry last night after washing my feet before bedtime, and this morning discovered it had been chewed up by some critter.  The critter ALSO chewed on the bite valve of my Platypus!  Fortunately the bite valve damage wasn’t too bad, and everything still works fine.  But my poor towel!

We continued to enjoy the beautiful views of the Trinity Alps today– the highest part, where the snow is still deep, even in August! But finally we “turned the corner” and the trail headed north again through Russian Wilderness, which I call “the land of huge light grey boulders.” Right away, the PCT takes you across the face of a cliff, with the trail blasted out of the rock.


I was much braver about this “cliff walk” than I was in 2005! But a really great thing was we met Babysteps and Flashback, who immediately recognized us– “Wow, 3rd Monty and White Beard! We haven’t seen you since Mather Pass! We climbed the pass on those fantastic steps you chopped in the snow!” They asked us where was a good place to eat in Etna, and we told them “Bob’s Ranch House.” They said, “See you there for breakfast!” and we answered “Well, we’re hoping for church first.”   Off they went, and we hiked on until 8pm, hoping to get as close to Etna Road as we could.

We set up our camp near a bend in the trail, and even after dark, we were being passed by hikers with headlamps!  Everybody is doing “Etna or  Bust!” 

Walk with Aragorn to Isengard: Ford the Snowbourne and reach the road to Edoras


Friday, August 6, 2010 Miles Today: 26 Total: 1,572.3

Friday, August 6th, 2010


We woke up this morning to clear skies and cool temperatures, but things warmed up very quickly!  All day long the trail grade was very gentle (except for the climb up from Hwy. 3), and normally I’d be able to hike really fast.  But the trail was also mostly very rocky, and after my bad fall yesterday, I was kinda spooked about falling again.  My gashed knee is pretty sore but I can walk on it OK.  The bruised ribs hurt every time I take a deep breath, so that’s actually more of a problem.  And my “hiker hunger” has totally vanished.  I make myself eat out of duty.  Weird.  But hooray, another whole day of NO pain in the back of my hip! 

We leapfrogged all day with various other hikers, especially Croatian Sensation, Not a Chance, and Tangent.  We even met Billy Goat, hiking SOBO.  He told us that only 3 hikers over 69 years old are “left standing” on the PCT this year–himself, Bill, and Yeahbut.  I hope all three of them get to finish!  Billy Goat has been talking to the Israeli hikers, and they persuaded him to come do the Israel National Trail next spring! 


Along the PCT, it’s mostly pretty dry except where there is a spring running across the trail and when that happens, the mountainside is intensely deep green with thick grass and wildflowers– very pretty. Since we never know if a spring will be running or dry, we tried to stay stocked up on water all day.  The trees up here are usually not too big–I think it’s pretty tough to be a tree on these high ridges.  We could hear cowbells and mooing down below, but no “sign of cow” up on the PCT.


Finally we came around a ridge and there, right across from us, were the Trinity Alps!  We cheered and were so glad–we feel like the Trinities are “home turf”, since we’ve camped there before among their beautiful rocky peaks and shining lakes.  The PCT never actually GOES to the Trinities, but does have a lot of nice views of them as you hike along.  We could still see SNOW on the peaks!  Very pretty to look at, but I am sure glad we are not hiking in it!

By afternoon, though, I was really having trouble with stomach pain.  It got so bad that I had to ask Bill to stop a couple of times so I could rest.  And uphills just about did me in.  I felt as if I had no reserves of strength left, either physical or emotional.  Whenever I stumbled on a rock (which I did many times) I had to choke back tears and fear.  And Section P is SO BEAUTIFUL–normally I would be enjoying every minute of it, but instead I’m hiking in “survival mode.”  Not fun. The climb out of Hwy. 3 just about did me in, and at the top I plain ‘ol collapsed for awhile before I could eat any supper. 

At camping time, the sky was clear, so we just rigged the net tent (yes, there were mossies!) and before we went to sleep, I asked Bill to please pray for me.  I hope all goes better tomorrow.  And I will say one good thing about my fall on the rocks yesterday–it “fixed” my glasses!  Back in the Sierras, I’d accidentally stepped on them, and they were bent in a way that made them very uncomfortable.  But when they hit the rock yesterday, it bent them back into a much more comfortable line, so now it doesn’t hurt to wear them!  That is one plus!

Walk with Aragorn to Isengard: In the plains of Rohan under the moon

Thursday, August 5, 2010 Miles Today 26.2 Total: 1,546.3

Thursday, August 5th, 2010


Today was a VERY good day and also a very bad day. On the good side, my hip pain is totally gone! I can now walk freely without limping. And my ability to hike on rough, rocky trail is really improving. It was rocks on trail almost all day, and I still managed 26 miles. Wow!  Another wonderful plus was that much of the time today we were up above timberline, with fabulous views that extended for miles. 


The downside, well, that began late in the afternoon. All day, I’d been  been dealing with what I think is a digestive problem involving sort of stomach cramps and pain– no fun– and suddenly I had a slight “accident” which resulted in having to shed my pack and go offtrail to clean up my underwear.  Frustration!  I so badly wanted to make as many miles as possible, and the cleanup job took awhile.  Then after supper, we started to hike on, and I had only gone a few steps when I stubbed my toe on a rock and fell very hard onto some other rocks. Thank God, I was not seriously hurt, but badly scraped, bruised and gashed.  My left knee had a gash in it that should have had stitches, but we were miles from any help, and of course my poor pant leg got all torn and bloody.  My left arm and hand are all scraped and bruised, as well as my ribs.  The side of my face hit a rock, too, and  my glasses were bent but they did not break.


Bill had to be very patient while I sat by the trail and cried, partly from pain and discouragement, and partly thanking God very fervently that all I had was a collection of bad “owies” but nothing truly serious. Meanwhile overhead, the clouds had moved in and thunder was rumbling and echoing off the mountains. I finally pulled myself together and limped off along the trail again. 

Well, that was pretty bad, but it didn’t happen till the end of the day (probably because I was tired).  The majority of today was wonderful.  We were leapfrogging with several other hikers, and tended to catch up/meet up with them at water sources or at shady places.  We saw Shin again–he looked really good, and was hiking fast, though he said he took a zero yesterday because he was so tired.  And best of all, we met our first REAL SOBO’s!  They weren’t just flipfloppers–they’d hiked all the way down from Canada!  They were a French couple, and very sweet.  We also met a lot of flipflopper SOBO’s–some had come down from Ashland, and some from Trout Lake, WA.  Another couple we met were taking photos of the hikers.

Water is always an issue on this part of the PCT–we have to be very careful and very aware of our water use and where the “next water” is.  We even had to cross a pretty large snowfield–the first in quite a few days.  As I said, the trail is quite rocky most of the time–either lava rocks or granitic rocks, but it has a comfortable mix of flat sections, uphills and downhills.  Down below us in the valleys were many pretty lakes, and we could see there were campers next to them.  The wildflowers were very nice, and yahoo!   We spotted our first beargrass!  That’s always worth a cheer–you KNOW you are getting closer to Oregon when you start spotting beargrass! 

When we stopped to camp for the night (we found a very nice campsite!), the thunder was rumbling, but we never saw any lightning.  We put up the net tent under our tarp, because the mosquitoes were definitely a presence, and I was so sore from all my “owies” that I needed to be able to lie down and sleep in peace.   I thought about all the things that had happened today.  I tend to “debrief” myself and ask, “What can I learn from this?  What could I do to solve____ problem?”  I decided that for the stomach problems, one thing I could do was eat more slowly.  I’ve been sort of gobbling food down so as to get back on the trail ASAP.  And when we get to Etna, I’m going to find some chewable digestive enzymes and see if that helps.  I also decided that maybe I’m having trouble with uphills because I’m so terribly thin and way behind on calories.  I asked some of the other hikers what they do to stay ahead of calorie deficit, and the top two answers were “Nutella” and “Peanut butter.”  So I’ll look for those in Etna, too.

Walk with Aragorn to Isengard: See distant smoke from Isengard


Wednesday, August 4, 2010 Miles Today 14.3 Total: 1,520.1

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010


At 5:15am when I tiptoed into the house to use the bathroom,  Martha was already up and the dogs gave me an ecstatic, tailwagging greeting. I guess they figure I’m “family”–that’s a very encouraging thought.  The three cats, however, merely yawned, so I’m not sure what they think!  Martha made coffee for us, and it was interesting to watch her cooking setup.  In summertime, so as not to heat up the kitchen, she uses an electric hotplate.  In winter, it’s the woodstove.  She says her daughter, who is a chef, finds this to be quite a challenge! 

Martha told us stories about the guy who built the addition to her house–how he and his horse-powered (literally!) equipment were able to do everything necessary to felling trees, moving logs, and the actual building process.  It was great to hear all that she had to say–she’s a very gracious, but down-to-earth lady who is a real Christ-follower.  We enjoyed the coffee and a breakfast of tortillas, eggs & cheese before Martha headed out to feed all the animals and then go to work (she is a veterinary’s assistant), while we headed for Ammirati’s Market to pick up our resupply boxes and have a second breakfast!


Following Martha’s directions, we walked out the back of her property, through a horse arena, and off down River Road to the lovely River Trail.  It was a beautiful morning, and walking along by the river was very enjoyable.  When we reached Ammirati’s Market, we were astounded at the number of PCT hikers!  Some of them were people we’d thought were way ahead of us (somehow we’d caught up with them–I’m not sure how) and others were hikers who decided to just skip sections N and O and go straight to Castella. (They said they were afraid they wouldn’t make it to Canada in time, otherwise.) In any case, there were hikers galore at the market and post office and  it was fun to see everybody!

We decided to give our gear a good airing in the sun on the lawn, and Bill lay down to take a nap, while I went into the closed restaurant to write up stuff for this journal.  I couldn’t sit at any of the tables outside–all of them were full of hikers!  At one point,  a sweet but timid lady customer in the market came to me and asked if I would ask the other hikers “Does anyone need a ride to Dunsmuir?” I wondered why she didn’t ask them herself, till I realized that a large group of seasoned thruhikers does look sort of, well, grubby and tough. I went to each table and said, “Hey, hikertrash!  Anybody need a ride to Dunsmuir?”  Turned out everybody was headed back to the trail, but the ride offer was much appreciated!

Hikers slowly began drifting back to the PCT, but Bill and I and several others shifted to hanging out in the shade behind the post office.  I sorted food and loaded packs, then we had lunch, which included a half gallon of ice cream.  It’s hiker etiquette to share with anyone else who’s present, so we offered ice cream to everybody.  On a hot afternoon, it tasted good!  The Israeli girls were happily going through their resupply box, which included a bag of Israeli coffee.  Noga opened it up,  handed it to me and said, “Smell that!  It’s the smell of Israel!”  She and Shani told me about how fanatic Israelis are about the “right way” to make coffee.  From their description, it sounds like they do it sort of “cowboy coffee style”, boiled in a pot. 

By 1 pm, on a hot afternoon (sigh) we put on our heavy packs (4 days of a very generous food allowance) and walked over to the Castle Crags entrance to ask the ranger lady about the best route back to the PCT.  In 2005, we tried to find it on our own, and ended up doing a lot of wandering around.  We didn’t want a repeat of that experience!  Sure enough, she told us a very simple, straightforward path back to the trail.  Part of the route involved walking along an old mining flume, on a very nice trail.  We cheered when we got back to the PCT again, and began the big climb out of Castella– first through lovely oak forest, across several very pretty creeks.  According to our guidebook, the last of the creeks was the last water for 14 miles, so we planned to get water there.  To our great dismay, the creek was dry! 

But just a short way beyond the dry creek, there was a little sign on a tree that pointed off to the right and said, “Water upstream”.  So we followed a use trail, and sure enough!   Water!   Whew!  We took plenty.  At that point, the PCT got serious about climbing UP.  The trail tread was steep and rocky, but the views of Castle Crags were awesome.  The Crags really do look like a castle with walls and turrets, some of light gray and some darker.  The PCT takes you right up to the foot of the “wall.”  We stopped for dinner at a switchback, then continued climbing. 

At 6:40, we’d reached what the guidebook called “a forested saddle”.  There were no more flat places for a long way after that, so even though it was early, we decided to stop.  Bill and I were both very tired, especially me.  I really wanted to go faster on the uphills, but I am just “losing it.”  That’s why I brought extra food, in the hopes that it would help.  When we got out our ground cloth to set up camp, I groaned. It was all wet from the night before, and we hadn’t remembered to dry it in the sun when we were hanging out at Castella.  So I hung it over a bush to dry and just lay down flat on the ground to rest for awhile. 

The “forested saddle” had several nice flat spots, and were were among huge, beautiful trees.  It was very quiet.  Once the ground cloth was dry, we set up a cowboy camp and went gratefully into our sleeping bags.  We’ll finish the climb tomorrow, and it was nice to have an extra half hour to rest!  We needed it!

Walk with Aragorn to Isengard: Still in dangerous bogs around the Entwash