Monday, May 12, 2014

Day 14 - 24

Didn't get a chance to update the blog until today, no worries all is good, ahead of schedule and under budget.

Day 14: PCT miles 268 to 275

Woke up excited, it's always exciting when going into town. I hiked a fast 7 miles to the trailhead, where I was supposed to call Papa Smurf for a ride. Unfortunately, there was no cell reception and I ended up walking another 2.5 miles down Van Dusen road until I could make the call.

After getting picked up I went to the post office to pick up my resupply box. It was here, while waiting in line, that I realized how bad I smelled. It is not that noticeable when outdoors but in an enclosed space with other people, not so pleasant. I was pretty happy to get a shower and laundry done.

The trail angels house has a very relaxed (unorganized) atmosphere. But it is great for resting up and getting ready for the next section. As the house is outside of the town of Big Bear a little bit there are not many distractions. This is both nice and frustrating as we have to rely on the angels to drive us anywhere.

I am now well fed and mostly rested up, I could probably use another day off but I am getting antsy to move on. The next resupply is in Wrightwood, about 95 miles and I plan to do it in 4 days.

Day 15: PCT miles 275 to 293

A late start had me on the trail by 10:00 am. Thor and Ferntoes offered me to stay and talk with them. I really wanted to but felt like I needed to get walking, there is a strong pull to keep moving north.

The day was beautiful and I really enjoyed the walk. Stopped for lunch at a small stream after 10 miles. I downloaded the entire first audio book in the Game of Thrones trilogy, so the last half of the day went very fast. I am actually camped alone tonight, I believe this is my first time camping alone since I started the PCT. It is a really nice spot with a small waterfall. 

Going to pass the Deep Creek hot springs tomorrow, I will not get in. I have an aversion to crowded hot springs and this one is very popular.

Day 16: PCT miles 293 to 317

Another great day today. It definitely feels like I  am entering a more desert like environment. The soil is coarse and sandy while the plants are more sparse and tough. The air is dry and I tried breathing through my nose to conserve moisture.

I did follow Deep Creek for most of the day. I also avoided the hot springs, there were lots of people and it felt strange to be around so many.

Towards the end of the day I had a little trail magic. Coppertone (class of 2006) was parked near a road crossing and making root beer floats for hikers. It was really nice and the timing was perfect, a little extra energy to hike the last few miles before it got dark. Looking forward to tomorrow but there is a chance of rain tomorrow night.


Doggy Grave

Day 17: PCT miles 317 to 341

Slept really well last night and had another great day. Walked around Silverwood Lake and slowly made my way north. Water is getting a lot scarcer, there is none for the next 22 miles. I will tank up in the morning at McDonalds and aim for the next water source just out of Wrightwood.

Speaking of McDonalds, although I am not normally a fan, when it is basically right on the trail, I must indulge. I strategically camped so that I can hit it up for both dinner and breakfast. Dinner was a 2000 calorie extravaganza, hopefully I won't regret it tonight.

Third night in a row camped alone, a little company would be nice but I seem to be between waves of people. There is one guy I keep running into, I've dubbed him O.C. (original crankster) because of his lame attitude. Won't be camping near him tonight.
Section C is officially done.

Day 18: PCT miles 341 to 364

After a big calorie breakfast at McD's with Ambassador and Timon I climbed up into the mountains near Wrightwood. It was a long day, with 5000 feet of elevation gain. I hiked right into the clouds where it was cold and started snowing. Made it the 24 miles into Duffy campground a little before dark. Very cold night, slept with my water filter so it wouldn't freeze.

I hiked into those clouds

Day 19: PCT miles 364 to 370

Nero day in Wrightwood and I had an excellent breakfast at the Grizzly Cafe. Met a triple crowner (hiked the AT, PCT and CDT) today named Wilderness Bob. He gave me a tip for a place to stay and now I am in a beautiful little cabin for the night. The woman who runs the place gives PCT hikers a fabulous deal to stay. I can't believe how nice it is and only costs 25$. I think it will be hard to leave tomorrow but I will at least sleep in for once.

View from Guffy Campground

second time I have been snowed on this trip

Bear with Us

inside the Man Cave

Day 20: PCT miles 370 to 384

It was hard to leave town today. As I sat eating lunch, other hikers I have come to know would stop by and chat. Nobody was in a hurry to leave. After a slightly frustrating hitch back to the trailhead, I was hiking by 1 pm. The trail took me up Mt. Baden-Powell. I made the short side trail to the summit where there is a monument to the founder of the Boy Scouts, Lord Baden-Powell. 14 miles later I am at Little Jimmy campground, very tired and ready to sleep.

monument on top of Baden-Powell

Day 21: PCT miles 384 to 407

On the trail by 6:30 today. There was a detour to protect an endangered frog. The section of trail that is closed is 4 miles and there are 2 detour options: a 20 mile loop or a 5 mile with some road walking. Pretty easy choice for me, I took the 5 mile option.

mile 400!

400.1 (hiker humor)

Ended up camping at Sulphur Springs and I was the only thru-hiker there. I was a little surprised since there is not much water in the area and usually that is where hikers congregate. But I did meet some nice guys that were out camping for the night. They gave me beer, tequila and sausages, everything a hiker needs.

Day 22: PCT miles 407 to 427

Spent much of the day dodging poodle dog bush. What is poodle dog bush you ask? I had never heard of it either, until I started researching the PCT. Imagine if poison oak and poison ivy had a demonic love child, that is poodle dog bush. The good news is that not everyone is sensitive to it. The bad news is that nobody wants to find out because the rash is so bad.

This part of the trail has a lot of poodle dog bush as it is one of the early colonizers of burned areas. Once bushes and trees start to shade the hillsides it will go away. But for now, I and my fellow hikers perform all sorts of contortions as we hike to avoid this annoying plant.

Poodle Dog bush on the trail

Day 23: PCT miles 427 to 451

Last night started out warm but by morning a stiff, cold wind came in. Spent the morning hiking through the wind, I clocked gusts as high as 40 mph. Once down off the mountains it did get much calmer. In fact, it started to get quite hot and I was wishing for some more breeze.

They are well camouflaged

Headed into Agua Dulce tomorrow, looking forward to shower, laundry and food. There are trail angels there who take in hikers and their place is called Hiker Heaven. I may spend a couple days there to recover and prepare for the next section. I think this next week will be the most difficult so far.

monument to completion of PCT

Day 24: PCT miles 451 to 454

Short hike into Agua Dulce this morning, passed through Vazquez Rocks and stopped off at the Sweetwater Cafe for breakfast. I am now at Hiker Heaven and it truly is heavenly. Very organized, clean and relaxing. I plan to spend today and tomorrow here resting, eating and preparing for the Mojave desert.

They got attitude in Agua Dulce
Hiker Heaven (very well organized)

Hiker Heaven
Animals seen so far:

Rabbits: lost count
Random lizards: tons
Rattlesnakes: 3
Other snakes: 9
Desert horned lizard: 4
Random birds: many
Ground squirrels: lost count
Ticks: 3 (2 on me)
Coyote: 1
Deer: 7
Tarantula: 1 (it was dead though)