May 10 – part two

I am in my bed in my hotel room in Wrightwood. Phone charged from wall charger just fine! Will test external battery tomorrow. I have had a glorious shower, a big salad, a large cranberry juice, part of a terrible burrito, a yogurt, a banana, and a large mug of hot chocolate.

This was an interesting and fun day. There were trail angels I met around 9, who gave me oj, banana, and ice for my ankle. There was an older couple who talked with me about hiking for 20 minutes. I spent a little time with the group of folks I find myself among now. After finally deciding to go in to town tonight, I hiked well, and made it to the road to hitch the last 7 miles about 5 pm. After less than ten minutes a car pulls over and it is the same trail angels from this morning. They gave me a ride to town, where I am now experiencing amenities and modern conveniences. And, I finally caught Molly.

Maybe more tomorrow. Here are some pretties for you…

And a video. I may try and upload the full quality version of this video tomorrow. Enjoy!

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May 10

Hey all. I am having some phone and/or external battery issues. No charge is happening. So if this is it for a while, don’t freak out!

Roughly 15 miles outside of Wrightwood now and will decide later whether or not to go in to town tonight or camp nearby and go in early tomorrow. This was not a scheduled stop, but I am behind schedule and need some more food!

Lots to tell you about. Hopefully this is an external battery and not a Phone issue. If it is phone related, I may not be back in action until after I get to Joe’s and can get into LA – around a week??

The Grand Canyon was spectacular. Turned out that just Joe and I hiked and it was nice to have that time together. My body held up well. My left leg is pretty much fine now. My right is the new target. My physical prep covered big muscles and cardio well. But there are a lot of little muscles below the knee.

I meant to take it really easy and just do 15 miles a day when back on the PCT, but my second day back on trail I did 24 to walk out of a snow/hail storm/damp cloud mass just sitting on top of this mountain. Done 20s every day and feel pretty good. I wish I still had my old speed. I am getting these 20s the hard way, through long hours rather than a fast pace.

April 25, day 12

I am at mile 193, making my descent off of San Jacinto mountain towards highway 10 and Ziggy and the Bear’s house. Yesterday was a trying day. I did make it out of Idyllwild and my leg survived a long day of low impact hiking. I did make a wrong turn and got lost for most of the afternoon. Despite a 5:20 am start and a long 14 hours of hiking, I only made it about 10 forward progress miles.

Today has been better. I slept in and did not start hiking until 7! No wrong turns. I have water and food. I will go another 4-8 miles today. I will make it to Z&B tomorrow. It is beautiful out here. I feel ok. It is hard to go slow but I am finding a way. I have limited this morning’s effort to seven miles in 5 hours with a few stops.

Could not post that at the last stop. Now at 196 – 10 for the day. Everything after this just makes tomorrow easier. Still feeling good. As always, I wish there was more water that I did not have to carry. I still have 3 liters but the next source is not for 10 miles which is tomorrow for me. I would love to drink a liter of water right now – and I look forward to the next chance for a water party!

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April 20th. Day 7.

I am with my trail dogs Darin and Daniel and my internet buddy Trish at trail angel JJs house in Idyllwild.

Yesterday my left calf started to hurt quite a bit. Today it was also no good. It is a weird thing on the front/on top of the shin. Daniel says that is connected to the stuff that holds up the arch so it is probably foot related.

We got up about 4 and started hiking to press for Paradise Cafe and make our first closure decision. My guys rocked out at our usual pace about 3 mph. I was struggling behind between 1-2 mph. I did finally meet Minda and we got to walk together for a few miles.

By the time I got to the cafe, the Ds found a trail angel willing to give us a ride to town and then on to his house. We all had showers, clothes are in the laundry, and we are just relaxing and telling stories until we drive the the hill at dinner time.

We will camp at the campground in town with some other folks tonight and see what we see tomorrow. It will probably be a zero for me just to rest the leg, but I may press on if it feels ok. I do wanna be careful here in the beginning.

I will try to update some more tonight or tomorrow.

Having fun. Feeling good.

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April 19 – day six precursor

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Howdy. Just waiting for the dew to dry
off of my sleeping bag a bit more before i can pack everything and head in to “town”.

The next few days should be pretty light so I hope to do some updating, but we will see how that goes. I have been taking the time to at least make notes every day. This morning I already sketched out a little trip in review so far. A sampling of the framework…
Body – pain comfort and sleep
The plan – pace water staggering arrogance
Brain – meh. Some good some less
good but I am holding up well.

So, dear ones. I can’t say “all that and more” because I may not even get all mind that stuff fleshed out for you (and me) today. But that is where I am with the intangibles.

If you want some concrete reality specifics (or if you are following along on any of the free maps) I am sitting near mile 109 about 5 miles from the post office in Warner springs.

Bottom line – things are going well and my am having a good time. I am working on a balance between enjoying each moment and experience and regretting a choice I made perhaps with too much haste.

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April 15 – Day two – great day sad day

My trail dogs pulled a zero to protect their bodies. I get that, and I knew I would miss Molly but I hiked on.

What a beautiful day! Almost all day was a long gentle climb. The scenery changed from sparse chaparral to brighter greenery to ending in a forest at Mt Laguna.

I have cowboy camped twice. Had my first day hiking almost entirely alone. Had my first campsite to myself (which was awesome). And got my first cathole out of the way this morning.

I did miss Molly to a somewhat disturbing degree yesterday. We shared some texts and had a phone chat. If we don’t start hiking together again soon – I am gonna need a bigger external battery for my phone.

That’s it for now. Just a quick hit and some pics.

Rock On!

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April 14 – day one to lake morena

Just a quickie to let you folks know that all is well. I had a great hike yesterday to Lake Morena. I walked with two other hikers that also used the services of trail angel Girl Scout.

Molly and I had tons of fun and laughed all day long. Steven took a little while to start to warm up but he was having some foot issues.

We will see what happens when I wake up these cats in a few minutes. I hope that Molly will carry on with me. There really is nothing in this world like laughter.

Rock On!

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Transitions

I am on the train headed to San Diego, and the long walk begins tomorrow. The journey, the adventure, this has already begun, but tomorrow I walk.

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I enjoyed my second trip to Green Valley. It is always good to see Joe and Terrie, the dogs, and the town. What a beautiful place. A few other hikers came through and we had some good times and spent yesterday throwing some disc at a great course near Wrightwood.

I am at a bit of a loss trying to figure out what to say. I feel like I am on the cusp of something and should have some wise words or deep insights. Right now, I feel mellow and nervous and excited and focused and scattered. I feel like I am fully prepared and I feel like a crazy person. Despite the mix and the contradictions – I think calm and excited is the predominate pair.

Things have been out of my control for a while. Now I am a passenger on a train. Soon a passenger in a car – a traveler on my San Diego trail angel’s schedule. Tomorrow will be more of the same. I can walk – everything else is petty much out of my hands.

Daunting and freeing.

I am looking forward to some quality silence and some time unplugged.

Tomorrow – my start date – is 6 months off the booze. That still feels great and this trip poses no challenges or threat in that regard.

I am a little over 5 months off the cigarettes and that also still feels good. None of the few people I hang out with in PA smoke, so this past week was my first time around any other smokers. Wow! Does that suck. I was a little concerned that it might be tempting but the opposite is the case. It was reassuring to be that grossed out.

Anywho. This highly focused and concise entry could be the last one for a bit. I don’t know how I will feel out there, but I expect that I will stay off the Facebook and won’t post a ton of blogs either. I have committed to one blog entry per month. There may be more, but there may not.

Oh, the tent! (I am sure you were on pins and needles.) As expected, I am starting with Joe’s zpacks hexamid twin. I will probably order my own hexamid solo in the next few days so that I can get in a tent with a smaller footprint. I may wait to make the order until my first town stop at Warner Springs so that I can have a few more days to get used to the zpacks system, the shockingly low door height, and hopefully see a solo model on trail and get to check out the size, live, in person!

That is it for now. Back to watching the ocean and the little towns.

Rock On!

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Green Valley Part Two

I am enjoying my time at Casa de Luna. In addition to getting to spend some time with Joe and Terrie, I am doing final gear tests. The only bits of gear that I had not previously field tested while hiking and camping were my new camera, new tent, and new water filter.

The water filter is pretty straight forward and with the little tests I ran at home it seems fine.

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I walked down to the community center, played 9 holes of disc golf, then climbed Jupiter Mountain to run some camera tests. The iPhone 5S performed well, so I do not think the new lumix will make the trip. In related news, I am also abandoning the lifeproof case. I have used one while hiking before, but only on short trips where I had also had a camera and a small iPod and just had the phone with me to not leave it in the car. The lifeproof case does protect the device but you can’t really use the phone with it on – or at least I can’t. With or without a headset – no one can hear me when talking on the phone – and I can just barely hear them. The still camera works fine (though I have yet to test how the flash works) but the case compromises any sound one may wish to capture in a video.

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In an attempt to find a way to stay relevant, yahoo altered their Flickr policies and now offer 1 terabyte of free photo storage. I signed up and have been trying it out. There have been three drawbacks thus far: the first upload created around 15 duplicate images, I can’t figure out how to create new “sets” via the phone app, and I had to create a yahoo account – something I have avoided diligently for years. If I can get those two issues sorted out, Flickr should be incredibly useful during this hike.

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The last issue is a big one. I don’t like my brand new tent. It is well made, easy to pitch, and the design is solid – it just isn’t big enough for me. I slept in it the past two nights and I can’t take my clothes off in the tent. There is just barely enough room to even get inside my sleeping bag and I can’t do that without running my head and other bits on the tent walls – which is not good.

Joe has several tents and I tried them all out today. The six moon designs Gatewood cape is a little small for me and the lack of a bug net is a big drawback. He also has an older model six moons lunar solo. This is also not big enough. They changed the design to accommodate taller hikers in 2012 – and this was the top tent on my list before I talked myself out of it.

Joe also has a zpacks hexamid twin tent. I was looking at the zpacks tents hard and liked them quite a bit. They are around half the weight of their competitors but about twice the price. After pitching the zpacks a few times, I replaced all the guy lines with fresh cord and linelocs (which I ordered from Zpacks and brought with me from PA) – then pitched it a few more times.

That tent feels good. I am getting better and faster with the pitch. I think I would already be quite good at it if this was a smaller one person model rather than the two person unit. Now I have to do the frustrating research/guesswork of comparing the dimensions of the models I tested today with models that are actually for sale to try and pick a winner.

Two pieces of good news: Joe will let me borrow a tent for awhile, you don’t need the shelter very often in SoCal this time of year. Freak rain and snow storms have happened and I shall be prepared, but those are not the norm. I should be able to hike with one of Joe’s tents, order myself a new one and have it sent to his house, and he will bring it along on our Grand Canyon side trip a few weeks from now.

Things could be worse. There are far harder challenges to face than this one, and I am lucky to have the help and support of a good friend and trail dog. Whoooooop Whooop!!

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To CA and Green Valley

The trip to CA was lovely. My folks drove me to the airport in Philly and I had no issues with security.

On the plane, a lady with a 4 y.o. and a baby was seated next to me. Turns out that these were not only the best behaved children I have ever seen on an airplane, they were better than over half of the adults. The biggest impact they had on me was that the little girl would do a form of the milk step on my leg while she was nursing. That was actually kinda cool. Having a nursing mom next to me on the plane was absolutely no problem for me. It made me think of three awesome ladies – Kelly, Karen, and Olive.

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Terrie came to pick me up from LAX which was super sweet and a great surprise. We accomplished my major chore – buy a canister of fuel – and searched for vegetarian food. Joe recommend we check out Indian places and I found one with a name that sounded like it was from south India. They were closed which was a big bummer. The next place we checked out was open and had a sign on the building that said “southern Indian food”.

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This place was exactly what I have been looking for since I came back from India. They had all my favorites: masala dosa, mutter paneer, uttapam, poori, parotta, puttu with kadala curry, idly with really dry chamundi.

These were my people. We talked about India and they were shocked and pleased when they learned that I knew Thiruvavnthapuram well and could speak a little Mayalayam and Hindi. They knew my old neighborhood, Palkulangara, and where my old office was located above the SNDP hall by the Pettah railway station. They had an image of the key figure for SNDP folks – Sree Narayana Guru. By complete circumstance I was wearing a vibrant yellow shirt – the key color for SNDP.

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Mayura restaurant in LA – Sree Narayana Guru (and the SNDP movement that grew up around him) was one of first voices strongly advocating for an end to the caste system and the concept of the Untouchables.

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SNDP Hall below my office in Pettah, dedication ceremony for the new Dr. Palpu memorial library

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They fed us great food and I shared some pictures of the big event in which we celebrated the opening of the Dr Palpu Memorial Library.

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Back in Green Valley, I spent some time relaxing, soaking in the sun and the warmth, cutting grass, setting up my tent, and working on my disc golf
putting. Out back of the house, two hummingbirds were having a blast at the feeder. I enjoyed watching and listening to them, and I even got two short videos.

Sorry about the sound quality. That was the last straw for my lifeproof case. It will protect your phone. It will also make it largely unusable.

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