Well well well. As you probably all know from my facebook post or from speaking to me, I am no longer hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. After about 900 miles, I realized that I just wasn’t happy hiking 15-20 miles every day. That’s not to say I didn’t have some great days, and great experiences, but frankly, the bad times started to overtake the good. I will certainly miss the camradery of hiking with great people who are sharing in my experience, and there’s the obvious thing of not finishing the trail. However, after alot of thinking, I have decided to DRIVE along the trail, stopping at whatever town or road I can to meet up with Mike and be his food resupplier and support. So far, it’s going great! I have been driving the VERY scenic route between towns in order to intersect the trail, including some relatively sketchy dirt roads. It’s been really great to be able to drive though these areas in ways that most people in their right minds would never do . Right now, I am sitting at the public library in Etna, CA, a charming little town close to Oregon. Mike should be arriving from his 20 mile hike today around 5, so I’ve got plenty of time to kill. Overall, I really feel that I made the right decision to drive the rest of the way, and I’ve been having a great, albeit very different than before, adventure .
6/3/12 – Day…?
5/21/12 – Day 42: Update from Mike
So, here we are, almost a month and a half into the trail. So much has happened already- mostly a lot of walking. We have made our way thru Laguna, San Jacinto, San Bernardino, and the San Gabriel mountains. Right now I’m sitting in the apartment I was living in with friends before starting the PCT. Strange. While the trekking can be tough at times, overall the experience has been overwhelmingly rewarding.
When we started, a full day of hiking was 10-12 miles. Hiking in to Agua Dulce, we covered 25 miles. Now, when i start daydreaming, Jamie pulls away from me. Sometimes I can’t catch back up until she stops to take a photo. It hasn’t been easy. Every week we have had to push ourselves to do more miles, but I feel like it’s starting to get easier to cover the miles.
When on the trail, motivation is key, and although many of the joys we experience are simple, they are deeply felt and therefore deeply motivating. We have come across hiker friendly towns with restaurants full of 1000+ calorie meals and cold, cold beer. We have stumbled on ice chests of cold, cold sodas and snacks (and sometimes beer). We have been supported with giant water caches way up on high hot mountain saddles. We have been lifted up by people that just want to give, help, do anything to make hiking something greater than walking and camping, for nothing but your gratitude.
Then there are the vistas. Oh my! I have lived in California my whole and it continues to surprise me with its many treasures. The Pacific Crest is a broad line in the sand. When Pacific Storms hit they make their way to the mainland they eventually get caught up in the mountains. On the other side of those mountains is desert lying in the rain shadow. The Pacific Crest is the line where the rain shadow begins. The trail weaves its way across the transitional zone and through either side of the line. One day you are walking up a huge wash in the desert, the next you are in the pines walking on snow. There are times you can see mountains far, far in the distance that you passed thru weeks ago. Many mornings we have woken up overlooking the marine layer and island peaks in the sky.
When you spend so much time on the trail you get to see much more of everything. Lizards are king. They are everywhere, scurrying across the trail, running under your feet, doing pushups in the sun on a rock. I ran into my first snake just the other day. I did a cartoon heel stop, sliding across the dirt. I almost fell right in front of the baby rattler. It didn’t even budge and as i moved away, Jamie approached for a picture and it slithered off.
You also start to get a sense for how that flora changes as you change elevation. A flower you haven’t seen for days will suddenly appear again as you descend down the side of some mountain. The next day you are ascending all day to finally arrive back to the sweet fresh smell of pine.
Finally, there are the people. Before you leave you hear a lot that you are crazy for doing this. When you are out there you are left with all the crazies. There is a strong sense of comradery between the thru-hikers. Meeting someone once is often enough to be excited about the second encounter. When you roll into a town and catch up with some friends you haven’t seen in a week, it feels good to sit around fire with some cold beers and silly stories.
So now we make the long approach to the Sierras. I can’t wait to see those white caps off in the distance. Thank you for reading and following our adventure.
5/11/12 – Day 32!
4/26/12 – Day 16
Hello, all! The past five days has had its ups and downs…well, lots of ups and downs .
After having a delicious breakfast from the wonderful people at Warner Center, we headed off on the trail. We were walking across beautiful meadows with wildflowers in full bloom. After crossing a pipe gate into a pasture, I could see horses in the distance. Lots of horses. As we approached, they seemed curious. We talked to them, hoping they would get that we were friendly. They all donned heart-shaped brands. One of them approached me, and I reached out to pet it. A few seconds later, a little horse approached me from behind, wanting in on the action. I was in heaven.
After that, it was a hard uphill climb to camp. Let’s just say, my hormones were not delicately balanced at the time, so it was not such a great night.
Day 13- A miracle occurred. We had been hiking for about 8 miles, and planning to stop shortly for lunch, provided we could find shade somewhere. Mike and I were alone, as the rest of the group had gotten ahead. As we came to a dirt road crossing, we could see Jeff, sans bag, standing in the roadway. In his hand were three cans Budweiser. Our angel from heaven.
Apparently, there is a “trail angel” that owns a house down the road, and has opened it to hikers. We arrived to find a house, our friends, a cooler full of beer, sodas, reese’s peanut butter cups, and water. It was truly an oasis in the desert…and a hard one to leave at that! The rest of the night was 9 more miles of hiking, to make my longest to date hike: 18 miles. I don’t think I have ever experienced such sore feet or legs . Tears were definitely involved at some point.
Day 14- I was pretty traumatized from the hike the day before, so I wasn’t in the best mood in the beginning. By the end of the day, though, I was feeling pretty good. The descent into Paradise Valley was beautiful. Fog was settled in the hills, and lenticular clouds were forming around San Jacinto. As we neared Highway 74, our 15 mile stopping point, we could see people and a vehicle. As we approached, two trail angels greeted us. “You guys want some soda? Chips and salsa? Candy? Hand sanitizer? String cheese?” “Yes, yes, yes, and yes!!” At that exact moment, another car pulled up, and out came our friend Clutch, who had hitched a ride earlier to Idyllwild. An 18 pack in hand and a variety of tobacco. That kind of timing only happens in movies. After getting our fill of snacks, we headed to the grassy meadow to camp. It was a good night.
Day 15- We all walked a mile down the road to Paradise Valley Cafe, where we enjoyed a decent meal and picked up our resupply. Because weather was threatening to stall our hike to Idyllwild, we decided to get a ride in on Wednesday. Instead of taking our planned days off on Thursday and Friday, we decided to stay Wednesday and Thursday, get a ride back down to Paradise Cafe Friday morning, and hike the 28 miles back up in two days. We had room reservations at the Fireside Inn, and when we arrived, we were able to get a better room for the same price. It’s dangerous how much I want to stay here! The cabin has a livingroom, full kitchen, bedroom with a king bed, and a bunk room with two twin beds. We had a full house, with Clutch, Shameless, Pink, and Jeff (now “Supergirl”). The guys are heading to Kick Off weekend, but we’re really hoping to be able to catch up with them again on the trail. They are some great people…and hilarious! We randomly saw a few other couples we hadn’t seen in awhile, and it already feels like they’re old friends.
The hospitality in Idyllwild has been really amazing. There are banners and signs welcoming PCT hikers and offering discounts, and we have had multiple people wish us well and good luck, and seem genuinely excited in what we are doing.
Tonight, Mike and I enjoyed a great dinner, and are enjoying the fireplace in our room and a bottle of wine. I plan to take a long, long bath and take every advantage of these luxuries I can before we set off on a long, possibly snowy hike tomorrow!
4/20/12- Day 11
Well, well, well. This is the first chance I’ve gotten to update!
Now, let me try to sum up the last eleven days….
Day 1: We got a ride from a “trail angel” (basically a person who volunteers to help out PCT hikers) named “Girlscout” to the trailhead in Campo at 7am. It was my birthday, and Michael had bought me cupcakes and a few beers to celebrate. Unfortunately, it was POURING down rain. Oh yeah, and we had no rain gear. That day wasn’t so fun. We camped by lots and lots of poison oak. Also, not fun…I now apparently have the worst case of poison oak i’ve ever had in my life. wah wah wah…
Day 2/3: Hiked to a proper campground, called “Lake Morena.” We stayed there an extra day because of a forecasted storm that came late. During the rainy morning, we had a “coed bathroom party” in the Men’s room, where we all hung our stuff to dry, made coffee and breakfast, and generally hunkered down. We met some really awesome people there, who we’ve pretty much been on pace with. Some of their trail names are “Shameless,” “Clutch,” and “Pink.” Shameless likes to hike in his briefs. Just one reason for his name .
Day 4: Hiked about 10 miles to “Yellow Rose Spring.” Camped ina lovely spot near some oaks and a stream
Day 5: Definitely the most miserable day so far…at least, until the evening! The day started out lovely, but as we climbed in elevation, became wet, then slushy, then just…well…terrible. We hiked almost 13 miles (my longest hike up until that point), about 8 of which was in 6-8 inches of sloshy snow. I have to admit, I was pretty much in tears by the end of it. Finally, around 6pm, we came to Mt. Laguna, where we got a room at a lodge. I don’t think I’ve EVER appreciated a bathtub so much as that night. Between night and morning, I took two showers and soaked my stiff limbs for over an hour. Also, I was very happy to enjoy a bottle of wine from the store whilst watching Futurama on a tiny television. The little things, ya know?
Day 6: Hiked about 7-8 miles (a nice break after the previous day!) to a campground called ”Pioneer Mail.” It was the second of two proper campsites we’ve stayed at so far (the other ones are generally “campsites” which amount to a relatively flat spot where you can pitch a tent). Some trail angel had left a cache of drinkable water, and cans of beef stew! It was a good, good night.
Day 7: My longest hike to date! 16 miles to a place called “Rodriguez Spur trail.” Since it was dry and not too cold, we cowboy camped (didn’t use a tent). The stars were amazing.
Day 8: Went to Julian, a tiny little western-type town with alot of charm and some actual restaurants. On the way to the road, I saw a rattlesnake! It was just crossingt the trail in front of us. Of course, I whipped out the old camera and got lots closer. It didn’t like that much, and starting rattling at me and coiling. Go figure! I backed off, but we ended up having to walk WAY around, because every time we approached the trail, it rattles at us. I like snakes alot. Michael, not so much. We had caught a ride into town from a lady in a pickup who randomly cried several times. Oh, and her truck ran out of gas on the way there. OH, and her truck overheated as well. Very interesting ride indeed . On the way back, we got a ride from someone who worked for the PCTA, who gave us some good tips for the trail ahead.
Day 9: A pretty brutal 14 mile hike to a big water cache. It was the most glorious site I had seen all day. We all camped right next to it. Also, I almost walked INTO a rattlesnake! I rounded a bend, and didn’t even realize it was there until I heard the rattle. I would’ve taken pictures, but I was too busy trying not to die from a heart attack.
Day 10: A 13 mile hike to San Ysidro creek. Early in the morning, I saw a “Rosy Boa.” It was a beautiful, and very docile, snake. It wouldn’t move off the trail even when I practically picked it up with my trekking pole. I was very attempted to do some amateur snake ranglin’, but I wasn’t sure if they carried Salmonella .We stopped at an area called “Barrel Springs,” where there were amazing treasures waiting for us! Sodas in the spring trough, left by maintenence crews for hikers, and a guy (“Lawrence, the ‘Spring Guy’,” who gave us some cinnamon rolls. It’s amazing how those types of things can become the best things on earth when you’re not used to having them. On the way to San Ysidro creek, we came across some cows on the trail. I mean ON the trail. Five of them, all staring us down. We walked around, but a few of them started creepily following us. I’m guessing cows aren’t usually aggressive, but i didn’t want to take any chances! We camped on a sandy spot right next to the creek. We awoke to find multiple cows staring us down, relatively close to the tent. Luckily, Michael scared them away with an improvised yoga routine.
…Which brings us to today! I’m sitting right now in an air-conditioned community center in a place called “Warner Springs.” Some awesome people are cooking up cheap and awesome breakfasts and lunches, and selling resupply goods in an improvised store. Oh yeah, and they have internet .
So, to sum things up- I’ve been VERY sore, and pushing myself VERY hard, but I feel that I’m getting stronger every day. Sometimes, i’m miserable. Sometimes, I’m elated. In general, I am having an awesome experience. We’ve surpassed 100 miles already, and the longer we go, the more I feel that we really have a good chance at this! Thanks, everyone, for your continued support. I hope everyone’s doing great, and I will try to update soon (and hopefully post pictures! The cardreader on this computer doesn’t seem to be working..)
As most of you know, Michael Mallery Jr, Jeffrey Peterson and I are embarking on what should hopefully be an amazing journey this Wednesday. Along the way, I plan to update this page with pictures, and general news about how the trip is going. If all goes well, we are hoping to reach the Northern Terminus (Manning Park, Canada) around the end of September-early October. If you are interested in viewing our temporary itinerary, you can find it here:
Note: The dates listed in the “arrival” column are approximate. We are hoping to stick with our planned mileage as much as possible, but there almost certainly will be times that we are a day or two off. We plan to adjust this itinerary as we go, so if you’re planning on meeting us somewhere to hike or bring some food or goodies out, make sure you check the latest version. Also, please try to call if possible! We may not have reception at the moment, but we will probably never be more than a day or two out of a service area. Our shared cell phone number is 213-400-2630. Also, if you are planning on sending anything out and would like to know what we are in dire need of, we’ll be glad to tell you
We will be carrying a GPS device, called “The Spot,” which will track our exact location. Basically, we push a button, and it will generate a pinpoint on a map which holds the last 7 days worth of pinpoints. I apologize for my misunderstanding of how this works. I told alot of people they could be added to an e-mail list, but apparently this list is VERY limited. However, there is a link that anyone can click on and view our last 7 days worth of progress. If you’d like to check it out, check on the link above.
Thanks to Ryan and Cameron for letting us stay with them for two and a half months! Our mutual love of wine, cooking, and TV shows made it a great experience!