Goodbye Columbus

The walk is going well. I am feeling good and strong. My body is doing well. I have stopped shedding pounds since 40 or so fell off. I think I may have even gained a little bit back. My shoulders are a little achy and my feet are contemplating revolution, but other than that – I am tip top.

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That pic was taken after a long awaited reunion with the PCT. On august 1, I hit route 3 south of Etna. Firefighters were staged at the trail head at the road crossing. These folks talked with me a while and highly recommended that I not proceed on the trail but road walk to Etna and talk to the next firefighter team there. I met a local fella, Brian – and his dog Thor, in Etna and camped with them over the weekend waiting for the post office and to see what the fires would do.

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I looked at maps with Brian and some other relief workers and a long stretch of road walking ensued. The pros told me to stay off the trail until Ashland, OR. In order to stay off of Interstate 5, I walked on rural highways and dirt roads. I slept in the bleachers of a youth baseball field in Fort Jones. I got water from a church sprinkler at 10 pm in a small town called Hilt. I was occasionally thwarted by barbed wire and dangerous looking no trespassing signage featuring references to guns, dogs, video cameras, and prosecution.

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I met John Mullin at the church in Hilt and we looked at the maps together also. He helped me avoid an area i planned to walk through that was no longer open road but private property, driveways, and lawns. This last unexpected detour led through some rolling hills and just across the line in Oregon, I found a beautiful Tibetan Buddhist temple.

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The adventures of the past week will stay with me, but I must admit that I am very pleased to be back on trail. Road walking g should be faster, but I covered less miles off trail. Not knowing a precise route, not knowing the mileages, not knowing the elevation changes, not knowing where the water sources might be or where to camp or use the bathroom – it was stressful… and beautiful…

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How decisions get made

I got to castella ca and found two packages waiting for me at ammaritis market. A “new” mid sleeve hiking shirt, a replacement section for a damaged hiking pole, new socks, and a fully functional air mattress make a beautiful tableau. But, I arrive Monday, wait until noon to finish with my food resupply and mail my damaged air mattress back home, and the next post office in Etna closes Friday afternoon. I don’t feel like doing the big miles to maybe not quite make it there in time. What to do with two new free days?

Immediately I decide to break the 100+ miles into five 20 mile chunks instead of four 25 miles chunks. My feet have been making some noise and I think I am due for some new shoes. I will have a lazy morning at camp, let my stuff dry out, and spend a little time at ammaritis looking for a hitch to the gear store in Mt Shasta. If nothing turns up, I may go ahead and walk to Etna and try to hitch to Shasta from there on Sunday.

That is how it goes. I am still loving this adventure. Living outside is magical.

…a few hours later… Some guys pulled up next to me in camp where I was writing and asked if I needed anything. So, I got a pretty easy hitch to Shasta for new shoes and a few essentials. I hope your lives are going this smoothly 🙂

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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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