It’s Alive!

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Howdy folks. I have been having such a fantastic time out here. I have lots I would like to tell you about. Finding/making/taking the time to write blog posts has been a bit of a struggle so far. I won’t do it out on the trail. At the end of a day of hiking, I am ready to get horizontal with no weight on my back, hips, knees, legs, and feet as soon as humanly possible. Typing on my phone while laying on my back with hands up above my head is not a position I can maintain for very long. In towns, I am still not at all good at taking zeros. I end up doing lots of walking or my chores take most of a 14 hour day and there is no time to just sit around and write. I may need to do a double zero to get writing done. For instance, in Tahoe, I cleaned almost all my gear – every stuff sack and every zipper, sanitized all my water, kitchen, and cooking stuff with bleach, washed all the fabrics, showered three times and had one bath, and, and, and…Anyway…some highlights:

Hiking with Joe for even a few days was really great.

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I saw Marie (I am not gonna link it here via the phone but you can search for Jun 11(ish) 2012 and read about the first meeting) again at VVR – an awesome and totally unexpected surprise. Walked down from VVR to where she was working at Mono Hot Springs. She is getting into archery now and we shot her bow and arrow. I had not done that since high school and it was fun.

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I am down to 149 pounds with my clothes on (no shoes). I am eating a lot. I am not going to bed hungry or anything. It is just very difficult to keep up with the calorie demand. (Smaller beards now run away or bow when my beard comes near.)

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I would love to write about food and I will but not today. For now here are a few process pics.

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6 days of food prepped

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One day of food (minus the baby bells that were still in the ice bucket when I took this).

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6 days of food packed up

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Today’s Breakfast

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We meet the nicest people out here as well. I can’t even really say hitchhiking has been easy because I have not even really needed to try to hitch. Most times, rides find me. I will try to mention everyone eventually but today I will feature the folks that helped me out from Echo Lake to South Lake Tahoe. John and his dog Ernie gave me a few rides, and I got to meet and hang out with John’s friends. We had a great afternoon talking and eating. So “hey” to John, Ernie, Dan, Will, Laura, Siddhartha, and Arundhati. (I hope I did not butcher your name stop badly.)

Until next time, Rock On!

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May 15 – 16 miles by 11 am

As you can see, this ain’t exactly going to be a play-by-play sorta deal. Given that, I have spent some time considering what to write about. I do want to capture the flavor of several different phases of the hike thus far and cover some of the outer stuff. Inner stuff is also on the menu. I forget the exact phrase she used, but Liz asked me something to the effect of “how’s your head?” Which is a fair and good question. We will get there. Before it is lost to the past, I want to give some highlights, and circle back around to pick up the thread of “staggering arrogance”. (You thought I was gonna let that one just sit there? No way!)

After a great first day, I hiked alone the second and third days. I did still see some people at water sources, but was alone most of the day and the evenings. I did start to talk with two guys I kept running into, Darin and Daniel. I think they started to become a unit on day three. By the evening of day four, we formed a loose group. Over the next few days, we did start to hike together and the three of us threw all of our best ideas together and we became better hikers because of it.

The Water Party is one result of this combination. There are two kinds of water parties-bathing and drinking. The drinking part is simple. Always remember to drink tons of water when it is free, easy, and you don’t have to treat or carry it.

The bathing water party is another simple idea. I was cleaning my feet once or twice a day and doing some other cleaning when it was easy. The Ds and I started to carry an extra half liter of water each for the final walk of the day. You can do quite a bit of cleaning with half a liter. When water was scarce, we would only use a quarter liter or simply enough to wet a bandanna twice and rinse it once. Those simple steps made us very happy and clean and helped us to sleep better.

The adjustments to my daily routine were another huge result of my time with those guys. I had been waking up at 3, tossing in bed until 5 ish, doing all my chores, then breaking camp and hiking between 6-7. One day I apologized to the Ds about making noise so early the morning. Turns out, we all get up at 3 and were all sitting quietly in bed not wanting to wake the others. We started actually getting up at or near 3, immediately packing up and hiking. This was great. I had to change the whole way I thought about morning time and morning chores and readjust myself, but it was worth it.

Next up: pace with the boys and bushwhack campsite sites

P

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May 12 – what’s it like in your head?

While I am not the most visual fellow, there are some areas where I exercise a little visualization. The conversation desk, my tiny version of the memory palace is one such area and the control center in my conscious brain is another. The control center is an adaptable sort of place. It is cavernous place with many darkened corners that could contain anything.

In the main area of the control room, there is my conversation desk and the 8 burner range where I get most things done. There are many other stoves and prep areas, but I can handle most things on just the main 8 burners. It is an odd stove. There are three front burners with lots of space around them and 5 rear burners for slow cooking ideas.

There is often an amphitheater atmosphere like in a teaching hospital. Many of you are actually in there too. The weird thing is that I don’t remember putting any of you in there and I can’t tell if you are just observers or if you have jobs.

Jon Sweet is probably the hugest wild card. I don’t know how he got in there and he sits alone in a balcony like the two old grumpy guys on the Muppets. Except, Jon isn’t grumpy. He doesn’t complain. The camera cuts away to Jon and he says, “Juicy” or “Oh-juicy” and chucks a handful of popcorn in his mouth smiling. He is wearing two piece pajamas with flying toasters on them.

Lots of you guys are in there. Slapinski, a newcomer, has another balcony and things cut to her when it is time to be bold, live truly, or, try not to hide. But, like I say, she is new and I don’t know if the B-slap in my head is really on my team or not. She could be a chaos vector.

Neely, Kelly, and Woody all sit together in a kind of conversation pit. I think they are like some kind of oversight committee. It seems that Woody’s main job is to manage my soundtrack. He stops me from playing The Allman Bros, Fleetwood Mac, or the Rolling Stones at terribly wrong times. The Woody in my head also seems to have some uncertain allegiances because he seems to let some things slide just to see what will happen.

The Kelly and Neely are not at all as good as the real thing. The real ones give me great advice. The ones in my head are oddly not any smarter than I am and do not offer tons of great advice. I don’t know what their jobs are but I am glad they are there.

That is your little image for today.

Rock On!

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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