Archive for the ‘CA Southern – F’ Category

Sunday, June 20 Miles today: 24.4 Total: 650.4

Sunday, June 20th, 2010


This was another very good but hot hiking day. We started off tired, though— the wind howled and roared all night and kept shaking my sleeping bag, so I didn’t sleep much, and neither did Bill.  We had to be really careful as we packed up, that our things didn’t blow away!  It was a 50 degree morning, and as we started down the trail, the wind was slamming us around so much that it was really hard to walk…and hard to see, too–the chilly blast made our eyes water like crazy.  I was staggering along the trail, wiping at my eyes!  For breakfast time, we squeezed between some rocks, while the wind howled around us.

In spite of the wind, though, we enjoyed fantastic views of desert and mountains to the east, and when we reached the crucial water cache at Bird Spring Pass,whew!   There was plenty of water.  The 10 hikers ahead of us had not taken it all.  There was a sign by the cache that begged hikers to PLEASE not leave their trash, but just to take water.  Sadly, there was a fair amount of trash.  I think that the hikers who were thoughtless enough to disregard the sign don’t realize how difficult it is for trail angels to get up to this pass.  We all hate having to carry trash, but that’s part of backpacking.  Deal with it!

Then came the 2 hour climb out of the pass.  We stopped at the top of the steepest part of the climb for a Snickers break, among rocks and pinyon pines.  The wind was slacking off, and the day was becoming very warm.  The trail continued to climb, but much more gently and finally at the top we could see snowy Sierra peaks on the horizon!  I noticed that the snow looked a bit patchy, and cheered, “Lord, keep the sun shining and the snow melting!” 


Then came a long time of hiking through pretty but viewless forest till we reached the “burn zone” and had to hike in hot sun mile after mile with no shade.  The PCT in this stretch is a dusty jeep road (no vehicles this time–we met motorcyclists in 2005).  It winds and twists lazily along, steadily climbing.  The views are very good, but it was so hot, and I was so tired from lack of sleep that  around 2:30pm, I just “bonked” and it was really hard to keep going. Fortunately it wasn’t far to McIver spring and cabin. What a great place! We bypassed it in 2005. That was a dumb thing to do!  It is a wonderful place for tired, hot, thirsty hikers!

Our plan was to just quickly get water and rinse our dirty socks before heading back to the trail, but we ended up washing ourselves, too, and then we sat around for quite a long time on comfortable chairs in the shade, reading the hiker register.  I felt 100% better than I had when I came down the road to the cabin, “with my tail dragging.” 


But best of all, Bill got a miraculous Father’s Day gift— sitting on a table in the cabin, next to the trail register, was his pocketknife that he lost at Casa de Luna. It belonged to his grandfather and was very special to him. Wow!   To say we were encouraged would be an understatement!  Much refreshed, we finally got back on the trail, which contoured very nicely along a large, steep canyon, then slowly headed down toward  Walker Pass .  We decided not to camp in the campground there, and instead turned off the trail, went down to the bottom of the canyon, and found a nice quiet place  out of the wind. It was a warm, lovely night.

What a relief to camp without howling wind–but I had a new concern to pray about before I went to sleep.  For some reason, my feet are horribly sore (after never giving me any problems before), and my right hip especially hurts tremendously.  Again, I don’t know why.  I have had no previous trouble with it, either.  So (as I did when baffled by odd problems in 2005) I asked God to show me what was wrong, and how to fix it.  I’m looking forward to seeing what the answer might be! 

Walk to Lórien: Rolling hills near Rivendell


Saturday, June 19 Miles today: 26 Total: 626

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

19june4fenceThe wind blew all night, but we were well-protected at our campsite among the oak trees.  It was a chilly 40 degree morning when we got up, saying “Breakfast at Robin Bird Spring!”  The PCT was very pretty in the early light as it wandered through oak groves and pocket meadows.   And there was a nice warm sunpatch on the hill above the spring where we happily munched our granola.   Bill crawled under the fence to get more water and rinse our dirty socks, while I guarded the packs, since we’d noticed some “bear signs” in the area.  It is our joke that I am the official Bear Chaser.  No bear messes with me!  (Seriously, I actually have “run off” some bears!)

 Off we went again through a very pretty stretch of PCT— grass and trees like a park, then down through Jawbone Canyon, which is an ugly name for a lovely place— lots of trees for shade, and interesting rocks.  Several ORV trails intersect and cross the PCT route.

19june6pathview Bill and I were hiking happily along (me especially happy, because I am feeling better today–still a bit weak, but I can do uphills, and I haven’t needed any extra rest breaks ) when we heard a strange loud noise up ahead. Before we’d even finished saying, “What’s that?” we had to LEAP off the trail because roaring around a bend of the PCT came 5 motorbikers in full “armour.” Yikes! Bad, bad! If we wanted to be trail nazis, we could have reported them.  After they passed us by and we kept going, we were very annoyed with the damage they had done to the trail tread.  Grrrr!


Shortly after, we came to a PCT trail register and discovered TEN hikers were a day ahead of us. Now we were worried. What if that meant no water left at 2 key water caches up ahead? And after the register, the trail headed into a forest fire zone of blackened, dead trees.  The day was getting hotter, and it was a bummer to not have shade–but wow!  The ground in the fire zone was carpeted with wildflowers.  Very pretty!  There was also one stretch of trail where the rocks were amazing–white rocks and black sparkly rocks in bands right next to each other.  And eventually we reached one little grove of trees that had survived and were shading the trail.  To our great amusement, one of the hikers up ahead had left a message there in the trail, “written” with twigs.  I will not repeat it, because it was pretty crude, but the essence was that hiking on a hot day is NOT fun!  Amen to that!

Finally we reached Kelso Valley Road, and hooray!  There was still water left in the cache.  The bottles were sitting in the sun, so the water was warm, but we were very grateful to get it!   Soon we were really truly hiking in the desert, with Joshua trees, cactus, sand, flash flood gullies–and gold mines!  Some of the mines looked like maybe they were in use again (not surprising, considering the price of gold!). 

Later in the afternoon, the wind began to blow, which cooled things off, but by 4:30, the gusts were strong enough to shove us around, and we were semi-staggering along the trail.  At suppertime, we huddled behind some big rocks so we could eat, and had a great view of the multi-colored rocks of the desert valley below.  Man, were we tired!   Especially me!  But I was determined to push on, and we made almost another two hours of walking before making camp behind some Joshua trees.  The wind had become a steady roar, and was very cold, so we had to be very careful as we unpacked.  We didn’t want anything to get blown away, and we could see it was going to be a cold night!

So now I am burrowed into my sleeping bag, very tired.   I still can’t hike as fast as usual, but I am happy that I was able to make it through the day without taking any extra rest breaks.  That’s progress!

Walk to Lórien: Crossing small stream near Rivendell


Friday, June 18 Miles today: 26.4 Total: 600

Friday, June 18th, 2010


We had a beautiful skyfull of stars last night!  It felt so good to be back on the PCT, even though I was really tired.  We were up at 5:00 am so as to be able to hike “in the cool” as long as possible, and the early morning light was lovely in the east, lighting up the desert. 

Most of the day, the trail was basically easy going (with just a few “killer” uphills).  This was a good thing, because I still felt very weak and shaky, and with so much food and water to carry, my pack was still heeeeavy.  To add to the difficulty,  having spent the last 2 weeks basically at sea level, and then being here at 5,000-6,000 feet with no time to acclimate was hard, too.  Bill was often way out ahead of me and had to stop and wait, which made me feel very frustrated. 

 But the PCT was full of interesting things today— desert views to the east, ridges with windmills, rugged mountains.  We walked by a lot of windmills, actually, all of them perched on top of very steep ridges.  The trees were mostly digger pine, and there were desert plants mixed in with them.  In the earlier part of the morning, we came across bunny rabbits running around and playing right on the trail, which was very cute!

But as the morning progressed, I became more and more discouraged and worried about my slow speed.  Usually I can hike right along, even up hills.  Not today.  I had to keep stopping for a rest, and on hills, there were times I wondered if I would make it to the top.  I had figured out our food based on making at least 23 miles a day, and it didn’t look like that was going to happen.  The giardia/whatever it was wiped me out more than I had realized.


At lunch we were enjoying a spectacular view of Cache Peak when a Navy jet came roaring and twisting up the canyon, below the windmills! Whee!  On we went into the afternoon, and I was surprised to see how many wildflowers were still blooming.  There were plenty of an orange-red poppy-type flower, Indian paintbrush, and even some larkspur and Mariposa lilies.


At Golden Oak spring we took on more water and treated it with GSE. Hope it works! (GSE = Grapefruit Seed Extract, recommended by Meadow Mary). By suppertime at 5:00pm I was so totally wiped out and discouraged at being “slow”, that I ended up adding a few tears to my food.  Bill is very patient when I get sniffly, and I always tell him “It’s a girl thing.  I’ll be OK.” 

By 7:00 I could barely put one foot in front of the other and was eagerly looking for a campsite.  But bummer–there was a fair amount of private property right by the trail, so our options were limited.  Finally we found a spot on nice soft oak duff, in the trees, with just enough wind to keep the mosquitoes away, and best of all, right near the 600 mile “mark” on the PCT. When I calculated our mileage, I could not believe it–26.4 miles, even though I was so slow.  Man, did that make me feel better!  And then when Bill and I did our nightly Bible reading, which always begins with a Psalm, we came to Psalm 33, which is totally awesome and VERY encouraging.  So tired or not,  I am now feeling very much better!

Walk to Lórien: Windy day in mountains near Rivendell


Thursday, June 17 Back to the PCT! Miles today: 8 Total: 574.6

Thursday, June 17th, 2010


Even though we ate breakfast (last chance for fresh fruit & yogurt!) before leaving home this morning, we had no problems with Bay Area commute traffic and pretty soon we were zooming along I-5. I kept staring at the east for a look at the Sierras, but no luck— the air was too hazy.  I am so glad to be headed back to the trail–for one thing, being at home in June means I’m dealing with grass pollen allergies.  Between allergies and recovering from giardia/whatever it was, I am definitely not at 100% yet, but ready to get back on the trail!

We arrived in Bakersfield on a warm but not unpleasantly hot day and ate lunch at the bus stop while we waited for the bus to Tehachapi.  We noticed a lot of police and security people in the bus plaza area, and our guess was that in view of the number of gangbanger types who were also there, that maybe there’d been some sort of trouble? 

We had a pleasant ride back up into the mountains, and wow!   When we left, the hills were green and Tehachapi Mtn. had snow on top. Now everything was brown, and no snow.


Trail Angel Terry Larson gave us a ride back to the PCT. He said we were only the 3rd hikers going  TO the trail with him this year. Everybody else was LEAVING, worried about all the snow. There was a trail register, which we signed.  Only one hiker had been through today, and several yesterday.  After a prayer of “THANKYOU, God!” off we went— and oh man, my pack was heavy– six days of food, full load of water, and uphill trail. Between being weakened by giardia, allergies and no training for the last 2 weeks, I was huffing and puffing and hiking like a snail. It was a joy to be back on the PCT, but a bummer to be so out of shape.

The Tehachapi winds were definitely blowing this afternoon, but were not the outrageous gale we’d faced when we came IN a couple of weeks ago.  And in spite of me being slow, in our hike from 3:45 till 7:00, we still did 8 miles, and managed to find a fairly wind-protected campsite among bushes and pinyon pines. We found bear poop nearby (not a surprise–we SAW bears near here in 2005), so we kept our food bags right next to us and ice axe and trek poles handy.

It is wonderful to be “back home” on the PCT!

Walk to Lórien: In the mountains near Rivendell