Pacific Crest Trail 2001

I began hiking from the Mexican border, alone, on April 27,2001.

TrailQuest / Rainmaker's 2001 PCT Journal / My Homepage

This photo was taken at the entrance to King's Canyon National Park (elevation 11,320 ft.) on June 12, 2001.

Mexican Border (Campo) to Kennedy Meadows .
Kennedy Meadows to Echo Lake.
Crater Lake to Manning Park, Canada.


Gear List Before and After

---links to the photos of the mohican and cherokee tents, and the packless system, with new test results and conclusions

Brawny's Journal

Mexican Border to Kennedy Meadows

April 27 - I arrived in San Diego at 11:00 p.m. on an American West flight. Charlie Jones picked me up at the airport and took me to his home. After a few hours of sleep on his couch, we were up at 5:00 a.m., had breakfast and were on our way. He drove me right up to the border, took photos, and extended me best wishes. I headed out at 7:33. My goal was Lake Morena by dark, 20 miles away.

I carried my full pack plus 4 quarts of water. Since the temperature cruised around 85 degrees, hiking conditions were perfect. Spring flowers, knee high grasses, blue skies and with it all, the tremendous sense of freedom and marvel that it was actually happening were my sensory perceptions.

I kept a steady pace, snacked on jelly beans and took my first break at a stream near some Cottonwood trees. It was flowing very well; a cool water source for now. By 1:00 p.m., I'd made 11 miles and knew Lake Morena was within my reach. Hauser Creek proved to be a poor water source, so I drank the rest of the water I'd carried and climbed up into the hills. Reaching Lake Morena about 6:00, many hikers and PCT support members had already arrived for the 3rd annual kick-off party (I never can keep track of all those initials).

The campground is large, with many car campers in pay sites. A bath house with hot water and free showers is available. I took a quick cold shower, washing out my hiking clothes and went to set up my new Cherokee tent. The space allotted "overflow PCT'ers" was in tall grass, at the edge of the campground. A ranger station with pay phone is approximately a 1/4 mile to the right, and a restaurant / grocery store a couple of blocks walk the other way. I made phone calls there.

We were fed grilled cheese hamburgers, chips and sodas for supper. This was a wonderful surprise. I ate without counting calories.

April 28 - Was served a great breakfast of fruit, muffins, cereal, milk and most appreciated hot, percolated coffee. More people continued to arrive all day. Some of the hikers elected to slackpack south from Fred Canyon Road, others from Mt. Laguna. Around 11:00 a.m., Strider (Ben Cleveland), a friend from AT TrailChat, arrived. He brought a huge box of chicken, macaroni salad, baked beans, sodas and fruit. He also brought a very special treat; an enormous orange and a sack of chocolate candy bars. Strider, you're great! Walt Hansen also came by with fruit snacks and I met him for the first time. He is a very wonderful gentleman. Goslowgofar, another online friend from AT TrailChat drove down for the party, arriving last night. It was really great hanging out with her; she hiked the AT in 1988.

Dave (Lightningbolt from NC) had a styrofoam cup when he began his PCT hike. After concerns over potential bacterial buildup, he now has a new cup made from a soda bottle. His new cup has been pre-shrunk with boiling water and duct taped for insulation. It is quite a creation. We brainstormed and tested it extensively; a young man (Jason) and his wife were using their stove to boil water for the tests. They live here and hope to thru-hike in 2003; a really enthusiastic fun couple.

That evening, water caches were discussed and listed at a gathering after another wonder feed. Suddenly, a ferocious dog fight broke out when an unleashed California Yellow Dog came into the camp and attacked two leashed PCT dogs. Bedlam ruled as all owners tried to separate the snarling, biting dogs. (Note from Rainmaker: "California Yellow Dog" is the generic name Brawny and I used last year to describe the great mass of Golden Labrador Retrivers we saw on and near the trail.) After all the excitement was over, the water cache reviews resumed.

A gear contest was next on the agenda. Several categories were listed and we signed up. Grand prize was a G4 pack and various other gear goodies were also on the table; winners choosing among them. All contestants came and did their presentations. I wore my rain jacket with sewn-in mittens (4 ounces) and rain pants (2 ounces), both made of sil-nylon. I forget what category I won ( believe it was "best new innovation on the trail this year") but I now carry a photon style light (white) as the result.

April 29 - Sunday morning. I arose at daybreak, packed and made ready to leave. Hot food (eggs, bacon and toast), fruit, muffins and cereal were all served before 6:00 a.m. I ate and headed out, not knowing my day's goal; just hike. I felt strong and made it to Long Canyon where I wrote most of this at 3:30 p.m. (after 17.8 miles) while waiting for chlorine to purify my water. I then drank a quart and headed out. I am seeing all kinds of hikers; some very talkative, perhaps a few men a bit put out by seeing a solo woman hiker and perhaps thinking that they will have to look out for me. I think NOT. Camped at Desert View, just .8 miles from Mt. Laguna. Did 22 miles today.

April 30 - Hiked into Mt. Laguna. The restaurant was closed at 7:00 a.m. when I arrived. But who do you think was just heading to breakfast in Pine Valley? My wonderful trail angel Charlie Jones! So, we had breakfast there with Tom and came back. Going to resupply to Warner Springs and leave by noon.

Right now my biggest problem is missing Rainmaker. Evenings are the worst, from about 5:00 p.m. until I go to sleep. So, I’ve been hiking until around 6:30. Almost had a disaster as I looked for a campsite along a ridge walk. One spot was big enough, but if I went out after dark, I could have easily fallen off a cliff. Kept hiking and I’m now camped on a small ledge just above the trail beneath some Manzanita bushes. Cozy, but my campsite has a definite “slant” to it. Eating raw Ramen noodles and drinking Kool-Aid. Added 10 drops of Chlorine per liter to the water I had to get today from a horse trough. I’m feeling very strong physically. I’ve met lots of good people on the trail. Didn’t get out of Mt. Laguna until noon, so did only about 12 miles before picking up 5 qts. of water and then hiked another hour. Now in a water alert zone, although there is a water cache (so we’re told) at Scissors Crossing. No one will or should stake their life on it, though. The PCTA has some great members who take care of the caches and we appreciate them greatly. Weather is perfect, with many beautiful aromatic flowers. Lots of dry creeks.

May 1 - Camped about 100 yards east of the trail. This is a true desert environment, and I’ve got “stickers” all around me. Thank God for the Z-Rest and a plastic bag that gives me some measure of cleanliness. Started hiking about 6:00 this morning. Had an absolute perfect sunrise; cool, calm and peaceful. I managed not to roll off the ledge last night. I’m not too good at choosing level campsites and I’m usually too tired to care. Today I hiked until about 6:00 p.m. and covered 21 miles. I’m feeling great except for sore shoulders from carrying 5 qts. of water most of the day. I drank most of it while hiking and then resupplied from a cement tank just a tad off the trail. How grateful we are for the water on route. It’s been hot today without much shade. The footprints I’m following reassure me I’m on the trail and makes navigation easier. Met a really nice older gentleman, Al Mader. He and I were hiking up Chariot Canyon Road towards a likely rest spot under a shade tree when suddenly I saw a 5 foot long rattlesnake just in front of him. I yelled, “Snake, snake, stop, stop!” We watched as it slithered off toward our shade tree and intended rest spot. He can have it, we decided, and we found another place to take a break further up the trail. Al hadn’t been looking at the trail and hadn’t seen the snake, and thanked me for alerting him. We said our “see ya laters” at the water tank, and I hope to see him again. An English gentleman, Tony, is just up the trail from me, camped somewhere, so it’s really not as desolate as it seems. If I ever get enough water, I have got to wash my hair!

May 2 - Left camp at 6:00 this morning, not really knowing my goal. Got to Scissors Crossing and there was water. Tanked up and took a break. Crossed the road and found two PCT hikers, one ending his hike due to chafing, etc. He said, “It’s not fun anymore”. The other, a soloist who had previously hiked this stretch, was ill and has chosen not to hike it again. I’ve hiked 2 or 3 miles this morning, and have 23 more miles of “undulating” trail ahead of me today, with no water except a possible cache 13 miles ahead. The AT is known for its PUD’s (Pointless Ups & Downs). The PCT must be known for its “undulating” trail; in and around, switchbacking, climbing and turning for endless undulating mile upon mile. The next measurable feature, a cattle gate, brought me to a total of 10.6 miles by 11 a.m. I decided to go for it. By 2:00 we (two groups of two each plus me) had reached the cache. Yes, 7.6 miles to Barrel Spring, I thought. However, I had miscalculated and it was actually 10 miles. We alternately hiked and rested. It was very windy and then turned cool, clouds coming in from the north. Our collective goal (though I still hike solo, leapfrogging these other partners) was to get down to a lower elevation and camp by water. We encouraged each other when passing, and recalculated the miles. Disbelieving that I would actually have to undulate again over to yon mountain, hiking as fast as my legs could carry me, I fought the clock. I had to be on trail. Nothing or no one could go on undulating like this. And, how far can these last 5.6 miles past the gap be, for heaven sakes? Finally, dropping down, a gate appears. Yes! Three gates, more dropping, more undulation and the shady oaks of Barrel Springs appear! Pam is washing her short hair and Erik, her husband, is cleaning up. We give a salute. I set up camp; start coffee, do some cleaning up, and in comes Jerry and Dave just before sundown. I feel like we did a marathon! 26 miles for me today.

May 3 - Hiked 8.7 miles and arrived in Warner Springs about 10:00 a.m. Now sitting in bed in my room, writing this journal, eating black jelly beans from my bounce box. Clothes have been washed in the sink. Jerry & Dave have the room next to me. My room cost $25, no TV or phone, but glorious hot water and soap, a closet and two stuffed chairs (Rainmaker, I miss you!). Gear has been sorted and cleaned; scraps of paper that found their way into every crevice have been corralled and trashed. Good lord, what a slob I’ve become without someone to emulate. Check-out is 1:00 p.m. tomorrow. Hope to enjoy the time fully and maybe I can hike out with these guys. Solo is wonderful and the independence is great. However, it can be lonely at night and a bit frightening to be so totally on your own. Hopefully I’ve taken all the right stuff (supplies, guide book & data book pages, etc) out of my bounce box, because I won’t see it again until Wrightwood. My body feels great; a few twinges on my feet and legs. Nothing a day of rest won’t solve. No blisters; trail runner shoes rule! My silk shorts are proving to be very comfortable. Going back to my Esbit stove; having to use metal stakes for a cooking pot support with my other stove doesn’t cut it in this rocky terrain.

May 4 - Warner Springs is a small community of 203 people. From the trail, it can be reached by following a dirt road to the right, that is encountered just before the school. Then, you can continue on the highway into town. Across from the post office is Warner Springs Ranch. I spent last night there; $25 for a room and $5 for an “electrical surcharge”. Spent about an hour in the hot tub.

The Mini-Mart next to the post office has beverages and snacks, but it is not a place to plan on for resupply. Today, hiked about 14 miles. Aqua Caliente is flowing strong; good water can be had at any of 5 or 6 places where the trail crosses right through it. We did pick up water at Lost Valley Springs. Hiking with a guy named Frank from Alaska. Hiked until 6:45, then found a small site for my tent, but he had to go farther to find one for his. Very little camping possibilities along these ridge walks. Jerry and Dave stayed another night in Warner Springs. Dave’s feet have been trashed by his leather hiking boots, so a friend took him to get new ones. He now has New Balance 803’s; a tread well represented on the sands of the PCT.

The trail has been exceptionally well marked; the water caches good. Let no hiker forget the sunblock. With the best, liberally applied, you will achieve a deep tan in 2 – 3 days. Without it, you will be lobster-red. Most hikers have capacity for 6 – 8 liters of water. Much of the trail is shadeless, so thirst is strong. I’ve seen several hikers with umbrellas, some lined with foil for protection against the intense heat. Guess I need my hiking poles more than an umbrella. One guy lost his hat in the wind. Thankfully, I remembered to add elastic cord and a cord lock to cinch my hat tight when it’s windy.

May 5 - It’s 5:00 p.m., and as I sit down to write this, I am still trembling. Hiked about 17 miles and plan to camp with friends Pam and Erik at Nance Creek. Surprisingly, it is flowing. It has been a hot day, and a hard one, too, from the time I tanked up. Then, carrying 5 qts. of water, I headed out solo. Reading the map and guide book, a bit uncertain of the grassy spot where we were to meet, I set my left foot down and immediately heard a tremendous rattle. I looked down while probably jumping ahead (I really don’t remember), and saw a large rattlesnake about 10 inches from my foot. The snake crawled off, still rattling its tail in warning. Heaven sakes, I just about stepped on him, and he was mad! Hope the next hikers coming down the trail about 1/10 of a mile away don’t meet him. Earlier, I crossed a good road, went through two gates and expected to be at Tule Springs. It took me longer than anticipated, and fearing I may have missed my last water in 30 miles (most springs are dry), I sat down to read topo maps, take bearings and reread the guidebook. Finally, I realized there was no way I could have missed it. Hoping to God I was right, I continued on. In my head I said, “I have no business being out here alone, someone needs to watch me”. But now, although I feel rattled , am wiser. I learned many lessons today, among them don’t walk and read at the same time, stay focused. All senses are needed out here.

May 6 - Hiked 19 trail miles and one long mile down to Live Oak Springs with Pam and Erik. Penrod Canyon Creek amazingly had water. It was kind of hot and I feel tired, but after washing up at the spring and having supper, things are looking better. Crossed paths with another huge rattlesnake as it slept in the shade. Just as I was about to pass by, I saw him. He lifted his head to look at me. Snakes are deaf, so I just made vibrations on the ground with my feet and hiking poles and waited. I took his picture and finally he slithered off, with his tail raised to rattle. After much waiting and deliberation, I quickly walked past.

May 7 - With Idyllwild only 20 trail miles away, I woke early and was packed by 5:50 a.m. I am definitely getting better at this. Back on the trail for a long day. Hauling 2 liters of water for 10 miles to Apache Spring, which is a very steep descent ½ mile off trail. But first we had to climb. That was the day; climbing and descending, gaining and losing the same 1,500 ft. Had some nice shady walks through forest. Met Pam and Erik at lunch break as we dropped packs and waited while he went down to get water for the rest of the day. A million thanks to Erik and Pam for their team work. They are an amazing couple from Los Angeles. Anyway, got to Tahquitz Valley Trail and the snow patches worsened. Three trails go through there, and in good times would be easy to follow. However, with snow covering large sections, footprints from yesterday’s hikers were obliterated. I became concerned; a mild word for the inner turmoil I felt. Also, some footprints seemed to be going in the wrong direction, and I lost some of the footprints of thru-hikers I’ve been following. Knowing I had to get to 8,500 ft, then descend again, I went to a peak and finally saw a PCT post. I actually put my hand on it, then bent and kissed it. Finally back on track, I hiked to Saddle Junction, where no camping is permitted. Pam and Eric never caught up to me, camped alone. Hope they are ok.

Then, I went down the Devil’s Slide Trail toward Idyllwild about ¼ mile and camped about 7 p.m. I guess I hiked about 21 –22 miles horizontal. But snow is good; it makes water.

May 8 - Hauled into town about 8:00 a.m. Had a delicious breakfast, a tad pricey by Georgia standards. But, I’m not spending the night and it’s worth it for the delicious brewed coffee. This is one town it would be best to have a map for. You get off the trail and head downhill to the left. Fern Valley Road then winds for 2 miles. Then I turned right, then left, then stopped and asked directions and ended up at a pay phone. There are lots of hikers in town (9 so far; that’s a lot by PCT standards), so the gear shop is opening for 3 hours, although it is usually closed on Tuesdays. I was informed of this by another hiker. The hiker bond builds as one goes through the same things together. Seems like suffering builds bonds faster than fun.

May 9 - Camped last night with friends; got up early and was on the trail by 6:00 a.m. Everything was fresh and pleasantly warm. Hiked an easy first 6 miles to Deer Springs. The snow was still on the east side of the ridges. There I picked up water. Then I spent the rest of the morning on Fuller Ridge sliding down snow banks, over rocks, trying to stay upright in the snow. Thank God for hiking poles.

I am leap-froging with a woman name Alexa. She is young and great fun to talk with, a pre-law student with a lot of facinating observances. Finally arrived at the Fuller Ridge Campground, where I dried out shoes and socks while having lunch with her. Sixteen miles remained until I would reach the water faucet at Snow Creek Road. A hiker couple, a friend and I decided to go for it. Gradually, the trail became snowless. There was very little trail description in the guide book at this point, and a misunderstanding caused a miscalculation of miles covered. However, we decided to try to get to the water faucet at Snow Creek Canyon, anyway. Heard 2 more rattlesnakes and bushwhacked down into a canyon and back up onto the trail around another one, spearing myself on cactus in the process and getting a nasty wound.

Stopped hiking at 8:00 p.m. without reaching our goal. Slept under the stars with my 3 friends; too tired to do anything but eat fig bars. Have cactus stickers all over me. We have descended 8,000 ft. since leaving Deer Springs.

Four night hikers passed us about 10:30 p.m. using head lamps, proclaiming this nicely graded trail section which wound endlessly over the same 3 mountains was designed by Satan himself.

We’d done 27 miles, but all felt disappointed and irritated that our last 2 hours of frustration had not enabled us to descend that maddeningly smooth trail to the water faucet.

May 10 - Being determined not to rush today, feeling down after a poor night’s rest, I put my pack together, drank my last water and had a bagel while the others packed quickly before sunrise and hiked out. Still, at 6:00 a.m., it was hot. A mile descent took me to the water faucet. From there, the trail heads north on pavement (Falls Creek Rd.) until an intersection. Then, it turns and goes through thick sand. Posts marking the way are high and visible, but the 4 miles to an underpass of Interstate 10 were exhausting and draining. At one mile past the I 10 is The Pink Motel, a hostel run by the Middletons. No way can I express enough appreciation for this oasis in the desert.

Even after only 6 miles, I needed to take a break. Just no energy; not willing to do a 20 mile day. I came in, felt the soft carpet beneath my feet, read the hiker register, and saw Dave and Jerry’s resupply box (they are friends I met before Warner Springs, but they haven’t caught up to me yet). I made up my mind to stay for the night and head out with them at first light. Other hikers came in, some planning on leaving later in the cool of night. Others plan to spend the night. This is much more restful than a town day, especially my last one, which was quick and hectic with laundry, resupply and post office stops. I believe the temperature was 110 degrees today. Now at mile 213.5, twelve days of hiking, fourteen days from the border. John and Margo bought food and made a huge feast for us; grilled hamburgers, chile, boiled corn on the cob, cold pasta, potato salad, beer, etc. A fabulous stay!

May 11 – Hikers were leaving the Middleton’s as early as 5:00 a.m. to beat the heat, all bound for Big Bear City 63 mile away. Had a great night sleeping on a couch (one of five). Hiked 8 miles to Whitewater Creek, a marvelous fast flowing stream about 10 ft. wide. Got here about 10:30 a.m., but due to extreme heat, 6 of us are holed up in 117 degree heat, cooling off in the water and writing in our journals. We are tanking up with as much water as we can drink. Plan to head out by 2:00 p.m. and get in another 8 – 10 miles. A person could easily get heat exhaustion if not careful. The trail is shadeless and the winds have been calm today. A few clouds dot the sky, but none cover the sun. These people I’m hiking with are great and although all four of us are technically solo, the conditions bring a bond that will long be remembered.

I’ve been watching the ants on the trail as I hike alone. It’s quite amazing. Some larger black ones trying to stuff a leaf down their hole, a joint effort that reminded me of kids putting a huge quilt down a laundry chute. Tiny ants forming four lanes, 2 coming and 2 going, across the trail. Amazing co-ordinated endeavor in this heat! Red ones swarming over my shoes and socks as I sit barefoot in a last scrap of shade at 9:00 a.m., the mountain providing some shade before the sun goes higher. Some other ants hauling an enormous but lifeless stink-bug across the sand. I can imagine their mom saying, “No way are you bringing that in my house!”

We sit in the shade or creek, talking strategy and resupply points, reading maps, discussing topography. This is not your average group. Everyone is self sufficient and strong. We left at 2:00 and still managed to hike 17 miles for the day.

May 12 - Mission Creek has sandy campsites along its next meandering run of 7 miles. We crossed it about 20 times this morning. We got an early start at 5:23 a.m. so we could do the 5,000 ft. ascent before it got hot. The clouds rolled in and a light sprinkle began and cooled us all morning. Then as we ascended to 7,000 ft. it began to rain in earnest, turning cold and coming down even harder. The clouds appeared to hold snow. Margo and I put on our rain gear; John and Ben pressed on. Planning another 20 miler, cold and raining, there was no point in stopping for a break. We crossed a road late afternoon and I smelled campfire smoke. A note on the trail read, “Margo and Brawny, come up to the fire”. Up on the hill, above Coon Creek Campground, was a shelter with a blazing fire. John called us in, handing me a piping hot cup of apple cider. Wow!! Now at mile 248, the day’s misery forgotten and home for the night, we cooked supper and chatted. Jerry and Dave pulled in at 6:00 p.m. and the sun began to shine. Hiked 18 miles, climbing 5,000 ft. Small things make such a difference on the trail, every small kindness becomes large. The hiker bond deepens.

May 13 - Headed out about 6:15 a.m. and the weather was beautiful and cool. The trail seemed to open up, and we began to “crest cruise” with little elevation change. Picked up water at a spring; had hiked 9 miles by 10:00 a.m. and decided to try for Big Bear City. John and Ben were dumbfounded, tried to talk me out of it, then went with me on this. Pulled in after hiking 28 trail miles and 3 miles off-trail into town, a 31 mile day by 7:00 p.m. Had supper at Thelma’s Restaurant and called Rainmaker. So great to hear his voice and know things are going well at home. Staying at the Fire Station, a wonderful oasis, very hiker-friendly. Said good-byes to those heading out today, plan to spend the day chilling, mailing out, and planning the next section to Wrightwood.

May 14 - Spent all day in Big Bear City. We camped at the Fire Station again and ate at the various restaurants in town. Basically, I floated around the 3 – 4 blocks that held a market, post office and restaurants . There are only 2 public phones in that area, so we had to take turns calling our special people. The post office in Wrightwood is closed Saturday and Sunday, so I and the group of hikers I’m with began to plan strategy. It is our next resupply point, but doing 88 miles by Friday and making a steep descent down the snow covered Acorn Trail into town made us skeptical. Reluctantly, I mailed in a change of address, and had my bounce box and mail sent to Agua Dulce, in care of Donna Saufley, the ultimate trail angel. We hope to resupply at El Cajon Pass near Interstate 15 and skip Wrightwood altogether.

May 15 - We hiked out today after getting a ride from another hiker in his rental car back to the trailhead. His car’s odometer measured the distance at 4 miles, not 3 as the guidebook states. A cab was also available in Big Bear City, but the cost was $20. Hiked 11 miles and made an easy descent to Little Bear Springs where there is a spring and picnic tables. Four of us had lunch there and pressed on to a 90 ft. steel bridge across Deep Creek. Camped in a nice sandy spot below the bridge, arriving about 6:00 p.m. We didn’t realize how many day hikers would be coming by on various trails. As usual, we were looked at as some type of strange creatures in the wild. Hiked 24 miles.

May 16 - Got up at daybreak and hiked 9 miles to the hot springs. Only a couple of guys were skinny-dipping. We had a snack there and continued just past Mojave Dam. At that point, it was difficult to find the trail and we ended up bushwhacking to the right (south) until we came to a trail that finally forded Deep Creek. We are still a foursome of solo hikers. Who knows how long this will last. We holed up in the heat until 3:30 and hiked until dark, since we were on a crest and no campsites were available. Basically, we were night hiking without head lamps. I stayed within sight of John’s white socks hanging from his pack. Jack and Ben were an hour ahead and found a small camp. We had to press on. Hiked approximately 25 miles and camped on an old Jeep road.

May 17 - The lure of “town” (motel, McDonald’s, mini-mart on I-15 at El Cajon Pass) just 20 miles away calls us. We packed up and headed out at 5:15 a.m., and quickly made the miles around Silverwood Lake. There was a nice picnic area with phones, toilets, etc., but we didn’t need anything and pressed on. More water was flowing than expected, but we still hauled a couple of quarts apiece between water sources. I arrived at Interstate 15 about 2:15 p.m., and I got a huge chocolate shake at McDonald’s and waited for the rest to get here. Then, we got rooms at the Econo Inn which is just ¼ mile from the trail. They are excellent rooms with air conditioning, phones and TV. I checked out the mini-mart and found that I will easily be able to resupply there, however, the men are a bit skeptical. I have a jar of peanut butter I hauled here from Big Bear City, along with some Oreo cookies and crackers. That will be my lunches. I also have 11 packages of instant oatmeal that will be my suppers. With leftover gorp from the hiker box, I just need some pop tarts for breakfast and hard candy to suck on through the desert dryness. It really helps. There are Ramen noodles at the mini-mart and Lipton Cup-O-Soup. I’ll probably get a few Ramen packages, they are great back up food and can be eaten either hot (cooked) or cold, like pretzels. We are heading out tomorrow after lunch at the McDonald’s.

May 18 - Left the motel at 11:00 a.m., but hung out at McDonald’s on I-15 until we got back on the trail at 2:00 p.m. Hikers have been coming and going, gauging the water needed for the next 22 miles and 2,700 ft. elevation gain. I am carrying food for Agua Dulce, 110 trail miles away. All my mail has been forwarded there from Wrightwood, so there’s no need now to worry about the post office being closed Saturday and Sunday. Hiked 12 miles today. Trail angel Sam Harfield had water stashed for us 6 miles up. A surprise!

May 19 - Left camp by 6:20 a.m. to finish the ascent to 8,225 ft. There’s been some patches of snow. Had lunch at Guffy Campground. The spring is down a very steep side trail. The trail has been full of “almosts”. Today, I almost slid off the ledge as I crossed a snow section. My foot slid down the mushy last step and I found myself sitting in the snow bank, hiking poles pinning me, holding me to the ledge. I couldn’t seem to get up until I unsnapped my pack belt and let go of one pole. Sure wish I had my snow baskets for my poles, but they are in a box bound for Kennedy Meadows.

But, I have learned to forget the “almosts”. I almost got lost, I almost missed my last water source. I almost stepped on a rattler, I almost had to sleep right on the trail. But if one would dwell on that, they’d get pretty scared. Somehow, each day should start out fresh with no worries or fears, so I learn from my “almosts” and keep hiking.

Town has its lures, the biggest for me being a telephone so that I can call home and talk with Rainmaker, my life partner and best friend.

It hailed today. Hiked 20 miles, camped 5 miles before the big concern; Mt. Baden-Powell, rumored to be snow bound. An alternate road walk around is available, but I don't want to do it.

May 20 - Hiked to the trailhead just below Baden-Powell spur trail; at 9,245 ft. elevation, it was rumored to have a lot of snow remaining. About 2 miles up, switchbacks became obscured and difficult to follow. As we neared the last mile, only snow and a few signs remained. We knew we must go to the top, so we just muscled our way up, kicking in steps. Around 8:00 a.m., seven of us negotiated the ascent, finally reaching our goal. Then the westward trail had to be found. I was glad to have fellow thru-hikers to help search for the trail and to help orienteer.

We ate lunch at Little Jimmie Campground and hiked on until 7:30 p.m. Exhausted from the snow, the terrain and then the heat of the southfacing, torturous Mt. Williamson trail, we camped in a small remote place just off the trail. Hiked 24 miles today; a 3 vitamin “I” night, definitely.

May 21 - I have worn the cushioning under the balls of my feet totally out of my shoes. My feet are trashed in that area, and it always feels like a stone is under the ball of my foot. David (Rainmaker)is sending my boot inserts to Agua Dulce, but until then I must deal with this excruciating pain. Still, we managed a 20 mile day in spite of this and John’s shin splints, aiming for and making the Mill Creek Ranger Station. They so kindly let us sleep on their lawn, use their picnic table and gave us pure water. We reassessed our food situation; with our injuries, Agua Dulce seemed very far away. I filled the holes of my shoes with shoe glue. Hope it helps; something has to help or I am not going to be able to go.

May 22 - Shoes are definitely better; feet feeling better, but still hurting. Hiking slow, but steady, John and I head for Saddle Ranger Station, 17 miles away. Alexa, my good friend, caught us after a day off in Wrightwood. Suddenly, with so much news to catch up on (hadn’t seen her since Big Bear City, a week ago) we girls took off hiking and chatting, the miles flying by. Lunched at Messenger Flats Campground. Taking off again, Alexa and I chatted all the way to Saddle Ranger Station. Called Rainmaker and then Alexa said, “Wanna go for pizza? Only 8.8 miles away at the RV park”. We had 4 hours of daylight remaining, so of course, why not? Pizza beats oatmeal any day of the week. Besides, the ranger said it was all downhill! Don’t you believe it; a roller coaster of sand and grit followed, but we reached our objective by 7:15 p.m.

We ordered a pizza each and mine was a medium (12”) with the vegetarian works! It was delivered with a Mountain Dew to wash it down. Oh, Yeah! Life is good. Have 2 pieces of pizza left for breakfast. Did 26.2 miles today. Had to yell down some dogs at 2:00 a.m. as they guarded the entrance to the women’s restroom. I needed to get inside to get some water. Heaven sakes, here I paid 4 bucks to camp by water and no way on earth was I going to die of thirst.

May 23 - With 9 miles to the Saufley’s hostel at Agua Dulce, my bounce box and the famed hospitality waiting, we headed out by 5:30 a.m. As early as it was, it was still very hot, very dry, carrying 1.5 liters of water. We arrived around 10:00 a.m., showered and Donna Saufley did our laundry. Surely, she is the patron saint of the trail. Gear is spread everywhere, mail being dealt with. It’s more organized and wonderful than can be imagined. Hikers are hanging out in clothes the Saufley’s have provided. With the absence of expensive gear and clothes, it is almost like a loss of rank. Very cool. Almost everyone is wearing a Saufley Electric navy t-shirt, and shorts of varying color.

May 24 - Spent the day relaxing and charting water report data available at the Saufley’s. The incredible efficiency of their hostel operation is a marvel to behold. As new arrivals showered and got their laundry washed by St. Donna The Lady Of Our Laundry, so named last year by the Menacing Vegetables, people were getting up to date on the Internet, calling home, and shopping for new gear.

21 thru-hikers gathered around after Donna did postal duties and heard her story. Her husband Jeff told his part of how they began their paradise on trail. For all who visit their hostel, I will leave the mystery untold. Her rendition left us laughing and truly grateful for the circumstances that brought it about.

May 25 – Today, headed out from Agua Dulce Canyon Rd. on trail and managed to hike to the Green Valley Ranger Station at San Francisquido Road, about 22 miles. The weather was cooler than normal, a mere 85 degrees or so. I am writing at the picnic table under the pavilion with 5 other hikers. We are eating supper, chatting, enjoying the cool of the evening; everything looks good. Two water stashes at Bouquet Canyon Rd. and Spinky Road by trail angels from Green Valley (the Andersons) helped us greatly. Bear Spring was running, although it was hard getting the water.

May 26 - Last night, after washing the dish, Mr. Anderson drove up and invited us all to come to their house and spend the night. We took him up on his offer, and he drove us (Alexa, Ben and me) back to the trail this morning. We started hiking about 6:00 a.m.; the weather had cooled off and we began our ascent. Water was an issue today as we calculated miles to the next probable source. A water report I saw at the Saufley’s indicated a couple of springs were running, and it was correct. There were supposed to be some water tanks, too, but we never found them. About 1:00 p.m., we went down to a campground and picked up all the water we could carry. We cooked a meal, got back on the trail and are now trying to finish our 20 mile day. Alexa and I are both so sleepy. It was kind of strange how our water pick up went. We dropped our packs at the top of the trail junction. “Haven’t seen anyone all day; they’ll be safe," Alexa said. So, we went down for water with just our water bottles. I thought I heard a voice at the top where our packs were, but Ben said, “Oh, it’s just a mourning dove”. We got down to the bottom of the canyon and Alexa and Ben went off to fill water bottles. Suddenly, down the hill from where we just came comes this running herd of teenage boys. I stood there, mouth agape, thinking, “Holy Cow, now what?” My only weapons for self defense were 4 empty water bottles. I stood alone as they ran toward me, all guys and one humongus German Shepherd dog. Dogs aren’t my thing, and I could imagine another stand off like I had at the RV park a few days ago. But, the dog was on a leash, held and restrained by a Correctional Officer. I discovered this just as a they reached me. “Is there water at the campground?” I asked. No one knew anything. That issue passed as the young men were herded to some point beyond me and I found my companions. We loaded water and climbed back to our packs. We cooked our hot meal and hiked out. We hiked only 4 more miles as sleepiness beyond description overtook me. I realized that the last 3 nights were spent in houses, netting only 4 hours sleep (for various reasons) each night. Alexa and I justified a 5:00 p.m. stop and camped after about 19 miles. About 8:00 p.m., loud booming music started and continued until 5:30 a.m. Wow! We had unknowingly camped right below an all night party being held on Maxwell Creek Trail Road.

May 27 - Got up and hiked out about 5:30 a.m., determined to make it to The Country Store at Lancaster, 1 mile west of the PCT and 20 trail miles away. Hiked hard and strong on a beautiful 80 degree day; had a nice breeze all day. Met Ben early this morning, who’d camped about 2 miles up trail from us. Got to the store at 2:00 p.m. after an insulting traverse through and around private property: the Tejon Ranch. We stayed 2 hours, each of us trying to contact our people at home by phone and leave messages that all is well. Pulled out and got back on the trail. Now stealth camped with Singing Steve, Alexa and Ben in a grove of Joshua Trees. There has been a lot of vehicle traffic on the dirt road that serves as the trail. Hiked 26 miles.

The “herd fear” of the desert was a curious thing to me. At Agua Dulce, so much fear generated by waterless stretches and heat caused entire groups of hikers to road walk (cutting off 30 miles of desert) or slackpack large sections. I am glad I opted for neither, just on a personal level realizing we’d done the desert thing already in the previous section. I did not want it to beat me before I even tried this portion of trail. Hiking today was perfect and well worth the effort. The desert is not a thing to fear, nor a thing to be attacked by or to flee from. It is something to be experienced. Found two beautiful feathers; a confirmation of trail gifts to come.

May 28 - Became very windy last night. Packed up and left camp at 5:30 a.m., determined to walk through the desert and get as close to the town of Mojave as possible. Did 23 miles, but feel very weary.

The day started fine, cool and breezy tail winds helped us make good mileage. Suddenly, walking toward me was Dell, another thru-hiker we’d met two days ago. He held up his finger, a sorry bruised and oddly bent affair, and told me how the wind up in Tylerhorse Canyon had swept him off his feet. He landed hard and either broke or dislocated his finger. He was walking out for help. This was a forewarning. Just 2 miles before Cottonwood Creek, the wind changed directions and came at us head on. It was gale force and I could scarcely stay on my feet. Gravel and sand blowing in our eyes, Ben, Alexa and I headed for the water source by the bridge. Finally there, we cooked a hot meal and discussed goals for the day. The wind kept us from any quick miles, even though the trail was good and almost flat. After two hours, we hunkered down in a gully and finally got some respite from the constant pounding of wind. ( We would later learn that 50 mph winds were recorded at the wind farms that day.) Once, on top of a small knoll, I couldn’t move, but stayed where I was with hiking poles firmly anchoring me to the ground. The wind was threatening to blow me off the knoll. Ben passed me and said above the howl of the wind, “Get right behind me and follow”. He broke the force of the head wind and that allowed me to climb down.

The trail finally went up into the canyons where winds abated. The trail wound around mountains, the tread being exceptionally narrow and loose. We climbed 1,600 ft. this afternoon and finally camped in a grove of pine trees. I will sleep good tonight. Tomorrow is a town day, and rest and resupply are the goals. After spending tomorrow night in town, will head out late on the 30th.

May 29 - Day was spent resting and resupplying in the town of Mojave. Mojave is a great little town with all the fast food joints, a large grocery store, post office and motels in easy walking distance.

May 30 - Left Mojave by 10:00 a.m. and I’m now back on the trail and hiking toward Tehachapi Pass, where we have 12 qts. of water stashed. Ben headed out at day break, Alexa still in town, its solitude and the desert facing me on this bright day. The trail is loose, winding and under hundreds of windmills. Finally, I crest a hill and see Hwy. 58. I’ve learned that this does not mean anything. Just because it's visible, and the data sheets claim I will one day cross it, doesn’t mean it will happen anytime soon, even in my lifetime. I remember Rainmaker’s plea last year, “Please, while we are still young!”

Anyone who has done PCT switchbacks knows the agony of endlessly winding mile after mile to descend 10 feet in elevation. The benefit comes when you realize you missed a great photo op. But not to worry. An hour later, you will get another chance, perhaps closer, perhaps not. The drawback is the tendency for some to “cut” (bypass) the switchbacks. I got burned on that once, but that’s another story. Anyway, seeing all these poor plants uprooted as hikers cross downhill makes me ponder the struggle of life. Each little plant starting from a seed that fell. Ten years later, having finally soaked up enough moisture, it could have germinated and in ten more years could have grown big enough to have stickers and to be a true pain in hikers’ socks. Sad to see such tenacity rewarded thus.

To every thing, turn, turn, turn
There is a reason, turn, turn, turn
And a purpose for every switchback under heaven
A time to be lost
A time to be found
A time for the wind to kick you around
A time to curse
And a time to refrain from cursing
A time to be seen
A time to hide
And a time read your PCT guide

Cooked my supper trailside at 6:30, haven’t seen anyone, not even by scanning downhill since 2:30 p.m. Hiked until sunset and camped alone beside a jeep road, among a beautiful stand of Jeffrey pines. Hiked 19 miles today. Now 5 miles from water.

May 31 - I am eating my supper, 4 servings of mashed potatoes with cheese seasoning. This instant food comes with a “4-cheese” seasoning package and is really delicious. I was surprised how light it was. A box (box thrown away in town, of course) with 8 servings weighed only 7 ounces. That will make 2 suppers for me.

Hiked 24 miles today to get to Robin Bird Spring, just .1 mile off trail. I believe I will camp here tonight, lots of flat places and besides, I’m pretty tired. Having hauled 5 qts. of water all day (10 extra pounds) and divying it out mile by mile until I knew I’d get here, has been exhausting. Besides that, I’m hauling food for Kennedy Meadows, 142 miles from my last resupply in Mojave. Now only have 99 miles to go, but that’s still too far to eat like crazy to reduce pack weight. Have to admit, though, it crossed my mind.

I am told this spring has a resident bear, so originally planned to eat supper here, then hike another mile. But, I think I may have met him earlier today, or his brother, and my fear is greatly diminished.

Today, just as I ascended steeply, hiking solo since 8:00 a.m., I met Lone Wolf as he stealth rested uphill in shade. I stopped in the shade, and another hiker I knew came by. So, I then took a regular sit down break and we chatted for a while.

About an hour later, still hiking solo, I was descending to my right. Suddenly, a face popped up out of a 6 ft. stump. I stopped, thinking “That is one huge raccoon!” The rest of the body followed, and as this bear climbed out of his home, I stood speechless and motionless, watching and trying to process what was happening. He jumped onto the trail, still looking at me, then turned and ran off down the trail, as if I had some shotgun ready to blast him. I waited a couple of minutes while clicking my hiking poles together before I resumed hiking. Then, as I walked along, I hummed “I knew I loved you before I met you, I must have dreamed you into life……….”

I saw a deer last night, lots of rabbits, squirrels and lizards, and a couple of rattlesnakes along with 3 antelope as we crossed the floor of the Mojave desert. However, this was my closest encounter ever to a wild bear, and I was alone. A treat to see wild animals up close.

I picked up some shower shoes in Mojave to use as town and camp shoes, since I’m not carrying sandals. They are proving to be worth their weight of 2 ounces. I figure they’ll come in handy while I’m in the High Sierra.

June 1 - Got up early to get as far into the 35 mile waterless stretch as possible while it was still cool. Two water caches are supposed to be ahead, but everyone is carrying maximum capacity, some as much as 9 liters. I can carry only 5 liters. As it is, my left leg is hurting and I have to take it easy or risk greater injury. Still have a lot of food weight, so every undulation in the trail is painful. Bikers have created many excessive “undulations” in the trail, and I really feel the lack of traction in the loose sand. At times, I feel as though I am standing still while I’m walking, like I’m on a treadmill. Did 22 miles and camped in a flat area among Joshua trees. Lots of ants are swarming mindlessly. Sure glad I have a tent. The wind is blowing fiercely, so Alexa and I are glad for the windbreak. Have been on the trail 5 weeks now. Slowly, civilization means less, and personal strength and tenaciousness means more.

June 2 - Hiked 7 miles to a water cache supplied by trail angels. Another 13 miles brought us to McGyver Spring and a very tight cabin. A wood stove and benches were inside, but Alexa and I have decided to pull out later because we know claustrophobia will overtake us in the cabin. But until then, we are enjoying the instant coffee left here and plenty of water at the spring. I have spare hex tablets, so the stove is going as I am writing outside at a little table. We have done 20 miles so far today.

I now use the term “trail maintenance” to refer to bodily functions, removing stones from shoes, drinking water, etc. I have decided that the blaze orange, red and yellow colors that others have out here are not good trail maintenance colors. It is so easy to spot these across the canyon, off in the trees even. Alexa and I are basically green and black and hard to spot.

After coffee and brownies at the cabin, we started hiking. Others talked about Walker Pass Campground, but I told them that I just didn’t have 8 more miles left in me today. The trail “opened up” to us, then cool breezes as we descended on good tread. About 4:00 p.m., Alexa said, “If I got to the highway and hitched into Onyx, what would you want from the store?” I laughed and said I wanted some chocolate milk and snicker candy bar. Citrus showed her the guidebook and told her that it wasn’t doable. He said it was 8 miles, a 17 mile hitch (one way), and that the store closed at 7:00. Alexa said she wished she had a watch, and I loaned her mine, with a warning that she not hurt herself. Believe it or not, she reached the road at 6:10 and began hitch-hiking. The third car that passed picked her up. She made it to the store just before it closed and bought sodas, chips, candy bars and my chocolate milk. She made it back to the campground at Walker Pass by 7:15. We sat at the picnic table eating and marveling at our “stampede”. That is the name I have given to this sort of madness that brings on a 27 mile day in order to enjoy a candy bar at the end of it.

June 3 - Hiked 21 miles and camped on a crest saddle early enough (5:30) to enjoy a hot meal and to write and relax. Somehow, anything under 20 miles now seems like slacking off, and today seemed like an easy day. Had time to clean up and chat, and even to relax a bit before dark. Met some section hikers with bright and monstrous packs. It hurt to see them barreling up the hill.

My Glossary Of Trail Terms:

Trail Animal - A long distance hiker who is thoroughly comfortable being dirty, smelly, stealth camping and hiking mega miles (20+) every day. Usually has a wild gleam in the eyes, prone to laugh without reason even when hiking solo. Happily eats ramen and oatmeal, but will cause a stampede for pizza, beer or to get to a telephone.

Trail Maintenance - Originally meant to signify a pee break, but further elaboration includes removing stones from shoes, changing clothes, stopping for a drink or other things designed to make the miles less miserable.

Stampede - Term for the onset and completion of a mad rush to a goal, initiated by a trail animal who has pizza on his or her brain, and knows where he or she can get one some ungodly distance away. The proposed mileage is initially deemed to be impossible by other hikers, but the idea is implanted and the stampede is on. From that point, breaks are limited to a quick pee and a chug of water, lasting no more than 2 minutes. In 6 weeks, I have been in 4 stampedes. They usually involve 5 – 6 hikers.

Treadmill - This happens when you’re trying in vain to gain elevation on a 4” wide, sandy, undulating trail. You’re using your hiking poles like mad and climbing; suddenly looking over to trail’s edge and realize you’ve been hiking by that same damn rock for 15 minutes.

Undulation - The vertical or horizontal waves of trail tread. The vertical ones caused by mountain bikers are especially maddening because they are totally uncalled for and preventable. The horizontal ones caused by canyons are just there because they have to be, or else this trail wouldn’t be 2,659 miles long.

June 4 - Woke up to a very cold and brisk morning. I have decided that before I leave from Kennedy Meadows that I must get a bag liner of some sort. I really would prefer polar fleece or silk, but will actually settle for even a cotton tablecloth!

Hiked 24 miles today and camped by the Kern River. We will get an early (6:00 a.m.) start tomorrow, which actually is late for Alexa, Ben and me. Usually, we are on the trail before 5:30. It’s time to shift gears now. The desert heat is in the past and we no longer need to haul 10 pounds of water. Ice axes, bear strategy and snow are the new issues. The mileage should go down as we maneuver the passes and cross swollen streams. In the last 9 days, we have hiked 192 miles, and this includes the town stop in Mojave. Alexa proposed that even though we three are soloists, we should have a team name. Ben suggested “Jamaica Bobsled Team”. Hmmm; a premonition?

The area we crossed this afternoon has suffered a recent fire. It is very depressing to see the charred ground and dead trees standing. However, bright yellow and purple flowers have sprung up, giving hope of renewal.

June 5 - Hiked a quick 5 miles into Kennedy Meadows General Store. Resupplied from my bounce box, the hiker box and the store. We’ve all had showers in a quaint wooden stall for $2 each. They supply the shampoo, soap and towel. The laundry is now in the washing machine. The three of us combined our clothes in one load. I will hang it on the line to dry, since there are no dryers here. Hope to take a day off and head out early in the morning of the 7th. Haven’t seen the campground yet, but it (about 3 miles away) is tonight’s goal. I have cut down, and sewn with dental floss, an old wool army blanket that the lady in the store sold to me for $2. I will use it to supplement my sleeping bag. I’m so happy, will sleep warm now, but this will add an extra pound or two of weight to my pack.

Kennedy Meadows to Echo Lake

June 6 - Used the pay phone at Kennedy Meadows Store a bunch. We had breakfast a mile down the road at Ireland’s Restaurant and headed out in the afternoon. We hiked just to the campground 3 miles away. It is a nice and clean area with with good privies, running water and fire rings. Kennedy Meadows was a good layover, with a lot of hikers coming and going. Met Eric from Tennessee, a neat power hiker.

June 7 - Loving my tent tonight. We hiked 22 miles today, going from an elevation of 6,120 ft. to 10,540 ft. There is plenty of water, but every creek is swarming with thousands of hungry mosquitoes. When we pulled into camp, I set up my tent, threw everything inside and got in. I took my time organizing supper and getting cleaned up. Those with bivys are very limited now! John will get out at Lone Pine to buy some DEET.

The scenery is beautiful and I’m tired of such big miles. But, because we’re all hauling 10 days of food for Vermillion Valley and another day’s worth to do Mt. Whitney, many are leery of slowing down for fear of running out of food. Very few are opting to go to Lone Pine or Independence.

I’m very anxious to get back to hiking with Rainmaker, my partner. Hikers were bunched last night at the campground, have now split up somewhat, I am going on another couple of miles.

June 8 - Hiked 20 miles, the goal was to get to within a day’s hike of Crabtree Meadows, so we can camp there tomorrow night and summit Mt. Whitney the next day. Three hikers opted for a day in Lone Pine. Before taking the spur trail, Patch sliced his 1 pound block of cheddar cheese into 3 parts. Alexa, Ben and I each took a part and ate it on the spot. We had 10 days of food, or should I say 5 days of hungry hiker rations. But, we must stretch them for Vermillion Valley, still 128 miles away, plus one whole day to climb Mt. Whitney. I hauled out all I could carry from Kennedy Meadows, but feel hungry a lot. This is normal, I guess. Hikers are black holes; food falls into them and they seem to never get satiated.

The scenery is gorgeous, mosquitoes out in force. Water sources from snow melt are frequent. Very cold hiking this morning, so glad for my army blanket liner. This has got to be a first, and for an ultralighter? Good heavens, it is embarrassing, but at least I’m warm at night. You do what you have to do. Rainmaker is bringing my fleece liner, so I’ll have it for Oregon and Washington.

Alexa saw a large black bear feeding in a meadow below. We are cooking supper now and will hike a few more miles before camping. This climbing at 10,000 ft. can be draining. Like Ben so aptly put it, “I feel like shit”. I laughed quite a while over that; 4 words, and it couldn’t be said any better.

June 9 - Hiked an easy 18 miles and camped at Crabtree Meadows, near the ranger station. Glad there are bear boxes here. We’ll head out tomorrow with light packs to summit Mt. Whitney. Had a beautiful day of hiking, weather perfect, scenery splendid. Somehow, there’s always this “rush” feeling going on, to make miles. It’s extremely hard to find someone who wants to hike the same pace, and be a good hiking companion. Solo is the way to go, if you’re not afraid. Really missing my hiking partner. If one ever gets a good hiking partner, he or she should be treated like gold.

**A Word About the Bag**
This phenomenem I have noticed among many long distance hikers. A gallon size ziploc bag is filled with a decent recipe of gorp. Perhaps peanut M&Ms, walnuts, raisens, and yogurt covered dates. It's an enormous amount of food, so cannot be finished before the next resupply.
A package of pretzels perhaps, or a hiker box find of sesame sticks and sunflower seeds is then thrown into The Bag at the next town stop. Better to carry one large snack bag than several tads of food.
Next we find leftover Chex breakfast cereal joining The Bag. Or "Does anyone want these appricots" joins The Bag.
One noted bag made it all the way from Idyllwild to Kennedy Meadows, 423 trail miles, where it was put into a hiker box. Within 2 hours another hiker claimed it. Thankfully, that hiker finished it by Vermillion Valley.
No way on God's green earth could recipes ever be written for a 300 mile bag. It may be the most awesome of trail gorps, including shredded coconut, freeze dried strawberries, corn and peas. Included but not limited to Captain Crunch, Kandy Korn, peanuts, bacon crackers, and corn nuts. It's not a matter of imagination. It's a matter of no ziplocs. Well, that and convenience. At snack time, just haul out The Bag and chow. If holes develop, as in even the best of bags, a duct tape patch is used. The crumbs are not thown away, but eaten, regardless of salt or sugar concentration.

June 10 - Cooked breakfast, and Ben and I were on the trail at 7 a.m. It’s quite overcast, with a line of blue to the west. We’re going to summit, if at all possible. Mt. Whitney is the southern terminus of the John Muir Trail. Without a summit of Whitney, there’s no point in finishing the JMT in Yosemite Valley. Everyone has stripped down their packs, placing gear and extra food in the bear box. My external frame has one stuff sack with clothes, snacks, one full water bottle, ice ax and rain gear. It weighs about 5 pounds total and feels like nothing.

There was ice on the log when we forded the creek. An hour later, we came to Guitar Lake. The clouds moving eastward gave us hope the weather would clear. Snowfields began to appear. It was just Ben and I; the others followed later. Ice was still on the trail and key rocks used for climbing were covered with thick ice. “Just follow the footsteps, don’t worry about the trail”, Ben called to me as I approached a set of 3 switchbacks. He waited at the top of that section, then cautioned not to touch the icy rocks. On hands and knees, I pulled myself up and over. We gained 4,500 ft. of elevation in 7.5 miles. It was mentally exhausting having to watch for ice, snow and loose tread with every footstep. Since it was Sunday, many day hikers appeared on the Whitney Portal Trail. Some carried crampons, ice axes and packs. They seemed winded, thier's being a longer and steeper trail. Near the summit, there were some harrowing ice mounds covering the trail, requiring axing-in and pulling myself over and onto a narrow ledge. We picked our way to the top, much of the trail obscured with snow or boulders. We summited at 12:15 and stayed until 2:00 p.m. Going down was easier as the snow became soft and mushy. Nearing Guitar Lake there was so much snowmelt that I lost the trail and bushwhacked straight down, seeing the JMT below. Ben had gone ahead and I took a little extra time.

I had no problems with altitude sickness. I’m loving my high top trail runner shoes. Tried some smart wool socks today on the hike and like them, too. My feet stayed warm and comfortable, even though sopping wet by day’s end.

June 11 - Left early this morning, as is the custom of my friend, Ben, whom I’m hiking with. Alexa met us on trail. Together we forded 3 streams barefoot, then pressed on to Forester Pass, highest point on the PCT at 13,200 ft. Snow reportedly awaited us and we needed to get there before it refroze in the evening. The climb was steep, the preceding area full of snow with water underneath it. Finally found the northbound trail. Below us was all snow on the north side, footprints traversing the slope. Because it was late afternoon (2:30), it felt like X-country skiing; little postholing. Alexa, Ben and I all like that sport, so it felt okay. Pressed on to Vindette Meadows, where there is a bear box. Hiked 21 miles.

June 12 - Hiked 17 tough miles up to Sawmill Pass Trail. This morning we crossed a sobering traverse on the north side, requiring use of my ice ax. Postholing causes problems as one tries to extract their leg buried up to the hip, without losing balance and going on a down hill slide. The afternoon was so beautiful, with waterfalls all along the canyon. We climbed 2,000 ft. in preparation for Glen Pass tomorrow morning.

Tonight, dark clouds rolled in, the wind picked up and snow became a concern. It’s still very cold up here, ice on lakes, trail and rocks each morning. Warm gear is a must; hikers shed layers as the day warms.

Things You'd Rather Not Hear:

-"It's all down hill from here." - Somehow those word always precede the worst of sections, but draw one into an insanely huge mile day.
-"The prices there are pretty reasonable for California." - Means outrageous to normal folks.
-"So are you having fun?" - Hunh, you mean I'm supposed to be?
-"There's a horse camp upstream." - This just after you'be drank a quart of untreated water from this lovely creek. Oopsey!

June 13 - The clouds blew over and we awoke to a clear day. Today, Pinchot Pass and Mather Pass are the objectives. Reportedly, neither is bad, so we felt that doing both passes on the same day was doable. We even managed to pull it off. Hiked 22 miles and camped in a sweet place, tired but happy for the beautiful trail and friends I share it with.

June 14 - A big day planned, seemingly impossible, but two objectives loom. One is Muir Pass, reportedly a heavy climb. The other is Evolution Creek; cold and deep and 12 miles beyond the pass. Hoping to ford it in the evening, rather than in the cold of the next morning. We pressed up Muir Pass. I found myself frustrated by lack of calories and slogging through miles of snow. The last miles were more a searching for footprints, avoiding sun spots and underwashed snowfields. The PCT / JMT doesn’t always summit the low spot at the pass, so we were at times guessing and checking maps to find our way. Thankfully, I was with Ben. Two sets of eyes are good at times like this.

We reached the hut at 1:00 p.m. I cooked a pot of hot oatmeal and coffee, my lunch in the cute, stone Muir Hut. We headed down about 1:45, bushwhacking and slogging through snow and fording snowmelt streams, finding a 100 yard section of trail every mile or so. Dry feet and shoes became moot points as we just waded through stream covered “trail”. Surprisingly, once it got down to Saffire Lake and Evolution Valley, it opened up to us, and we were able to make Evolution Creek. We crossed it about 7:40 p.m., only thigh-deep on me. I cross barefoot, almost driven crazy by bloodsucking opportunists! Mosquitoes! 24 miles today!

June 15 - With Vermillion Valley Resort only 27 miles away, I enjoyed the last bites of my food, saving a breakfast for tomorrow. Having been on trail for 9 ½ days, anything is going to be good. At this point, money seems unimportant. Clean clothes and hair without every last strand coated in dust worth everything! The ferry ride will be a luxury, I will call / e-mail home. Oh, the plans and fantasizing! We hiked 22 miles, though weary, muscles giving warnings, muscles that never complained before. Met some new people. One young man seemed filled with fear, talking about all the bad things that could happen to people. He even skipped a section due to fear of bad water. Fear is a very negative force; deadly to dreams. I have been very afraid many times. Hate to let it beat me without a fight, though. Camped at the top of Bear Ridge; it’s all downhill to Vermillion Valley Resort.

June 16 - Got up early and was on the trail by 5:30. Fifty-four switchbacks awaited me, according to the guidebook. There is a ferry at 9:45 and I must be on it!

Hiking solo, and was half way there. Was fortunate to see the large bear grazing. He ran off after I whistled. The ferry holds only 5 – 6 people and I was lucky to be on the first shuttle. They run a tab for hikers, your name on a card. Everyone at the resort is so friendly. It is clean and the first night in a tent “cabin” is free. I have a lower bunk. I share this tent with 3 other young 20-ish women. The first beverage is free, also. Someone brought a pile of food and we ate that, also. Showers are $5, but I wanted to see how tan I really am. Found some peppermint shampoo in the hiker box; so lovely! Ben and I shared a load of laundry for $2.50 each. Things are looking good.

There’s a big BBQ tonight. It costs $12.95; smells good, fresh homemade pies, too. I guess this being on trail for 190 miles makes me love any little luxury. Lots of hikers here (13) and some others leaving out. Very good vibes.

June 17 - Spent the day relaxing at Vermillion Valley. Had a “short stack” of blueberry pancakes with blueberry topping and syrup for breakfast. They completely filled the plate and I couldn’t finish them. With the bottomless cup of coffee, and all for about $6, I was a happy customer.

Lots of hikers leaving today so the boat man will probably make at least 3 trips. I have been pleasantly surprised by how nice my stay here has been. The scenery is beautiful and everyone is very friendly. Doing some math to slow down my mileage, figuring out what I will do with a week off as I wait for Rainmaker to arrive.

Later, hiked 4 miles to camp by a stream. Only 26 miles to Red’s Meadow. I am hauling lots of food, treats and candy. This seems to be a common overreaction among the hikers who do the long stretch from Kennedy Meadows to Vermillion without resupply.

June 18 - Hiked to within 3 miles of Red’s Meadow, which made it a 23 mile day. I am eating well because I have only 1 ½ more days of hiking before I arrive at another store. I hauled lots of goodies out of Vermillion and I’m eating like crazy; cookies, gorp, gourmet coffee, red licorice. This is my reward for last week’s hunger.

Reportedly there are 2 pay phones at Red’s Meadow. After $2 per minute from a cell phone (not even working properly) at Vermillion, those pay phones will be very busy. Marty let me use his pocket mail, so I wrote an e-mail to Rainmaker, and all messages were downloaded for one minute cost. I plan a long call home, and will not leave there until I get it!

It’s no wonder people plan to hike the John Muir Trail, even if they never get to do another trail in their whole lives. It’s an incredible place; plenty of water and lush meadows, high passes, innumerable waterfalls and cascades, wildlife and flowers. There are also beautiful clear skies and ice covered turquoise alpine lakes with snow covered ridges around them. We plan to finish the JMT by day hiking to Yosemite Valley from Tuolumne Meadows. We will then get a ride back to Tuolumne Meadows and continue north on the PCT. I consider myself fortunate to be able to do this.

June 19 - Hiked 3 miles into Red’s Meadow and 4 miles out. I resupplied to Tuolumne Meadows, buying a 24 oz. loaf of wheat bread, 18 oz. plastic jar of peanut butter, 13 oz. bag of Doritos (Nacho Cheese flavor), 8 oz. cheese salsa (finished and threw away the jar before heading out), 4 king size candy bars and 11 black licorish sticks. While enjoying the free hot showers near the campground, I placed the cheese salsa on the ledge of this enormous cement tank inside the little room that was mine. Opening the chips, I basically ate while showering and washing trail clothes. Now, if that ain’t living, I don’t know what is! All the free hot water you could want, in a private room, eating junk food and not worrying about the calories!

True to form, the pay phones were in constant use, I spent over 2 ½ hours on them myself. Lots of catching up to do and information to verify since Kennedy Meadows. We also had breakfast at Red’s Meadow and all 8 of us hikers agreed the meals were expensive and the portions were small. Then again, these friends of mine are mostly from the east coast and have enormous appetites and limited budgets.

We are, generally speaking, not into possession of things, but value possession of experience. The few things we have with us are well worn with daily use and their respective weight in ounces quoted on request, or even in defiance, as in “Yeah, well, this 4 pound camera is taking pictures that will last me a lifetime!”

I have seen several PocketMails, cell phones, guitars, and tiny radios. Each person perhaps has one “luxury” item. But this one JMT hiker put it so precisely, “Seems like the longer your hike is, the less you carry”.

June 20 - Hiked 20 miles, up and over Donohue Pass, and camped. I crossed a wide, snow-melt stream barefoot this evening, not liking the looks of the boulder hop and strong current flowing over the rocks. The water was ice cold and knee deep in places, however, this method works for me because my feet are used to barefootedness.

Today was spent circumnavigating beautiful lakes along the 12.9 mile JMT section that doesn’t coincide with the PCT. There are so many lakes, crystal clear, but camping isn’t allowed near several of them. So much traffic puts enormous strain on the delicate environment here. We ate lunch by Ruby Lake, passed Thousand Island Lake and then we were back on the PCT / JMT Trail.

Trout abound in all these lakes and streams. Ben, (AT trail name “Cobweb”) is wistful. Already he plans a fishing trip when he returns to his home in Vermont. Non-resident fishing licenses are $90 in California so I’m told; beyond time and financial considerations.

Have not seen any of our friends today, but mainly JMT and week hikers. Can’t imagine what it must be like here in a month or so.

Writing out my goals for the last leg of my solo journey, I have hiked this last month with a lot of the same friends, especially Ben & Alexa. But, we all know our solo standing. I have 153 miles from Tuolumne to Echo Lake, and hope to carry out 11 days of food, take it slow and rest a little before my partner Rainmaker meets me for our last section. The thru-hikers must keep up their 20+ mile days in order to complete their journey in one season. I must slow down to meet my time frame. It's been great, and challenging, but the time has come to shift gears. However, I will miss seeing them on the trail. Those behind me will catch up and pass. Trail friendships are just that and seldom continue into the other world. We love what we have when we have it, we let go what we must when it’s time.

My words or photos can never convey the quality of the unfolding Omnimax panaramas, complete with birds singing, marmots whistling, water and wind rushing, soaring eagles, circling ravens, dark clouds threatening and lightning flashing. The tall, magnificent, sculpted trees, tender shoots and flowers so delicately clinging to a cliff 12,000 ft. up. This was no postcard trip; it was the total surround of an Omnimax theater.

******Fording A Creek*******

I've learned alot about fording a creek since I started in Campo. First let me describe and define a PCT "creek". Out here anything with water flowing is either a spring, streamlet, lake outlet, or a creek. Back home some of these would be classified as Class 4 Rivers.

There's Evolution Creek, Bear Creek (there's gotta be at least 5 Bear Creeks out here), Kerrick Canyon Creek, Stubblefield Canyon Creek, Kennedy Canyon Creek, ect. The trail will parallel, from a ridge, one of these puppies as it roars down canyon. In the back of your mind runs the thought, "How on earth am I gonna ford that thing?"

But, thankfully, it crosses at a fairly benign place where its widened and slowed and most boulders are at least not in motion now.

Usually the trail resumes directly across the creek and the objective clear. A simple rock hop is possible in many steamlet crossings, the rocks having been placed a long-legged man's stride apart. Once, when I had already committed myself to such a hop, seeing the next one an impossible 4 feet away, I devleoped what I call the "Sacrifice the Queen" manuever. In chess, the dumbest move apparently is to lose one's queen, the most powerful piece. However, it may save the whole game . Thats what I call putting ones foot on a slightly submerged rock, and using it to complete the ford. It appears unskillful, but to any sneer of laughter, I simply state "I sacrificed the queen." That ususally shuts them up with a look of complete confusion.

Sometimes a creek crossing looks like a baredoot necessity. Nothing immediate presents itself. Then ensues running up and downstram to find an easier place; a partial log, met by a boulder, a point peeking out. That's all one needs.

Ice may be present. The logs may be unstable. Hiking poles definitely help here. Its an art form.

When all else fails, off come shoes and perhaps socks. Laces tied in a knot and shoes slung around the neck, a crossing is slowly made diagonally down stream, allowing the current to bring you and the thousand feasting mosquitoes ashore. No grimace or groaning is allowed for a Classy Crossing. This barefoot crossing has the benefit of some thorough cleansing action for feet as well as socks.

June 21 - Hiked 11 miles in to Tuolumne Meadows this morning, where there is a post office, café and store. Had a great time hanging out with hiker friends. At the same time we realized that these tourist crowds are not easy to maneuver around. I don’t believe I’ll spend any time in Yosemite Valley, but plan to hike down tomorrow, completing the JMT, and get back here to the backpackers campground by evening.

The grill (café) here has good food and service. The store is good, with camping supplies, food, postcards and everything in personal care products. Prices are reasonable, especially for California.

June 22 - We got up early, made our way through the campground and found the John Muir Trail. Everyone said it was all downhill, but the first 5 miles weren’t. Spent the day hiking the 27 miles to Yosemite Valley. Hiked past beautiful Unicorn Peak and later had beautiful views of Yosemite Valley from the vicinity of Nevada Falls. Didn’t climb Half Dome, saved it for another trip. Goslowgofar hiked in to meet us from Yosemite Valley and we met her just past the cut off trail to Half Dome. Finished the JMT at Yosemite Valley, then Goslowgofar took us for pizza and brought us back to Tuolumne Meadows. It was greatly appreciated, and we had a wonderful time.

June 23 - We spent the entire day hanging out at the picnic tables at Tuolumne Meadows. Hikers came and resupplied, and the post office was very busy helping us mail ice axes, surplus food and my Army blanket bag liner home. I elected to keep my ax until I got to Echo Lake out of respect for Rainmaker’s and Cindy Ross’ experiences at Sonora Pass. I may be the only hiker carrying an ax through this section, but it also makes a good weapon. I hopped on a shuttle bus to get a $2 shower at Tuolumne Lodge. It was great “Zero Mile” day; spent the night at the walk-in Backpacker’s Campground.

June 24 - Ben (“Cobweb”) packed up and left at 5:18 this morning, saying “Bye, Brawny” as he left the campground. I am sad that we had to part, but he is determined to get to Ashland, OR, 800 miles away, by the end of July. I don’t need to get to Sonora Pass until July 12, only 74 miles away. Goslowgofar met me at Tuolumne Meadows about 10:00 a.m., and we hiked back to the PCT. She hiked with me to the campground at Glen Aulin, and returned to Tuolumne Meadows via a shortcut she knows about. It’s really been some great trail magic getting to spend these days with her and I enjoyed her stories about her thru-hike of the AT. She is very proud of her “back yard” (Yosemite Valley) and I can certainly see why. We parted company at Glen Aulin and I continued another 12 miles to McCabe Lake Trail junction. Because of bears, I buried my food under rocks between large boulders and gathered some smaller rocks to use as ammunition should the need arise. No sign of human camp is near, no fire rings, no human footprints or trash. Hope all this effort gives me a quiet night.

June 25 - What a treat to sleep as late as I wanted, have a hot breakfast, and piddle around to my heart’s content. Got on the trail at 7:30 and crossed a stream at Virginia Canyon. Met a young woman who was on a work trip, she and I have hiked together all day, and it has been a real pleasure. Hiked only about 10 miles and buried my food again; was a big job since my food fills 2 stuff sacks. The weather is partly cloudy and pleasant, though it does get chilly at night. I sleep with all my clothes on inside a tent in a 20 degree bag and I’m just barely making it concerning staying warm at night. The idea that a person sleeps warmer in less clothes has been proven to me to be a fallacy. My next sleeping bag will be a 0 degree bag.

June 26 - All food present and accounted for. Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows have served to split up the group that had been bunched together on the trail. Some young men opted to climb rocks down in the valley for a few days. Other hikers had family members meet them for a few well deserved days off. Hiking solo; forded several wide streams that are very low for this time of year. The climb up Benson Pass was ambiguous, if it hadn’t been for the rock ducks (markers), I don’t think I could have found my way. One important note; don’t ever cut switchbacks on a multi-use trail, you could very easily end up on a spur trail. Later, I crossed Kerrick Canyon Creek and cooked supper. Maybe it was the double hot chocolate and black licorish, but somehow the ramen and cheese delight didn’t go down very well. Or perhaps it was the dried apricots? Anyway, I felt ill. I didn’t want to camp where I’d cooked, but my stomach hurt. As I contemplated the situation, it was already after 5:00 with a 900 foot climb ahead of me and a steep descent on the other side. Suddenly, off to my left walked a beautiful black bear. I don’t believe he saw me, or perhaps he was just being nonchalant. Decision made; guess I can hike some more tonight. I put on my pack while watching the bushes the bear had gone into. I saw him cross the stream via some rocks like a human would do, and he dashed off. I believe he either caught my scent or saw me at that point. I hiked another 3 miles and camped among some boulders. Hiked a total of 19 miles.

June 27 - Unbelievable 25 mile day. I’m now camped in Kennedy Canyon, 11 miles from Sonora Pass. Very cloudy and cold, put on some major miles and haven’t seen a soul all day. Very lonely for a face; would like to see another human being. I saw 2 people fishing at Dorothy Lake, they watched me the entire time I skirted the east side of the lake. When I got there, I said hello, and they completely ignored me. A bit later, I met a park ranger on horseback, and I talked his ear off for a while. He mentioned he had seen a couple just ahead, and thinking that it was Gutsy and Dan, I was determined to catch up to them. I hiked like crazy, and had supper by the bridge on West Walker River. A man I saw camped just past there said that the couple was only 45 minutes ahead. At that point, it was 6:30 and I figured that they would camp by Kennedy Creek. I crossed the creek, and seeing a tent, I called out, “Gutsy? Dan?” It was Shady Tree, Nightingale and their dog. Another couple camped across the trail also fit the description, but turned out to be Barbara and Charlie. Finally, I’m camping with others again! If it ever gets warm, I have to get a bath. I have so many layers of dirt, I have no idea what color (how tan) I actually am.

June 28 - Had a leisurely breakfast, and almost forgot my hiking poles when I left Kennedy Canyon. Extremely windy walking on the 6 inch ledge that served as trail across the ridge. Needed to stop and put on my wind clothes and later had to negotiate an ice slope using my ax. Got to Sonora Pass about 3:30. Alexa came in, and we stealth camped in the same spot where Rainmaker camped in 1999, and he and I camped together last year.

Kind of tired of burying my food and hiking alone, I lightened my pack, throwing out anything possible in the garbage cans at Sonora Pass. I hoped to do this next section in 4 days.

June 29 - This morning, before heading out, we met Ann, another woman soloists. Alexa and she agreed, Echo Lake in 3 days. What?? Thats 74 miles. By Sunday, yes, and this was Friday morning. Oh well...lets see what happens.
Crazy thru-hiker mode took over. We made 14 miles by lunch time at Boulder Creek. Hiked until dark, going down steep switchbacks past Noble Lake. Had a gorgeous sunset, and Alexa and I camped at the same spot Rainmaker and I camped last year. It is a beautiful little spot above a raging creek. Hiked 27 miles. Felt great, strong and happy to be "thru " hiking again.

June 30 – Did 28 miles today after getting on the trail at daylight and hiking until dark. The dreaded Blue Lake ridge walk (“The Nipple”) was done before supper. Strong winds, narrow trail and a steep 1,000 ft. dropoff made me remember with trepidation this stretch of trail. Alexa and Ann went ahead, planning a 31 mile day to get to Carson Pass. I camped atop a very windy ridge 4 miles from Carson Pass, tucked under a multi-trunk tree. I figured if it survived long enough to grow as big as it was(perhaps 18 feet tall), that surely it would survive one more night.

July 1 - Awoke to a beautiful sunrise; this is the reward of a high camp. Got to the ranger station at Carson Pass about 8:30, but found that the public phone was out of order because of some digging that was going on nearby. A volunteer at the ranger station gave me a quart of fresh Bing cherries in a zip-loc bag and a soda. Determined to make Echo Lake today and call home. A lot of trail markers are evident and it was easy to find my way. Reached Echo Lake about 5:30, some young trail friends saw me coming from a distance and gave me a peach, soda and chips. Called Rainmaker, and managed to get a ride to Berkeley Camp. For $10, I have a hot shower, access to a hot tub, and a bed in a shared tent cabin. I am done! I have 11 days until Rainmaker arrives, and I intend to spend the time resting and relaxing.

July 2 - July 13 were spent resting and recuperating near S. Lake Tahoe.

Crater Lake to Manning Park, Canada

July 14 - Rented a car at Reno Airport Friday, and drove up to Klamath Falls with Rainmaker. Our dear friends Brenda and Ralph picked us up, and took us to their home where we spent the night. Had this fantastic supper which Brenda cooked, Diane and Dan came over, too. So great seeing them again, trail friends and angels from last year. Today they brought us up to Crater Lake and also stashed water for us at Hwy. 138. To our surprise and delight they also stashed 2 giant Snickers bars for us.

Hiked 17 miles to our campsite just north of 138. The rim trail around Crater Lake was spectacular, although giving and taking the same 300 ft. of elevation. Once we rejoined the official PCT, the trail leveled out and we made good time, arriving in camp around 6, after a late start at 9 a.m. Very happy to be sharing a double wall tent with my partner Rainmaker. No more cold nights.

July 15 - Hiked about 12 miles. Its very cold for this time of year. This morning I couldn't seem to get warm, wearing gloves, balaclava, wind pants, two layers over my hiking clothes. Water so cold, it chilled us when we drank it. Picked up 4 qts. at Thielsen Creek and hiked to a saddle. Its getting cloudy and looks like rain. Or snow. Good heavens. July in southern Oregon.

July 16 - Hiked a very cold 12 miles from the saddle over to Tolo Camp. Water was a steep decent 1/3 mile down a spur trail at Tolo Spring. Rained a lot last night and our tent proved true. We each have a vestibule and made ourselves hot coffee and breakfast this morning before packing up and heading out. This 3 1/2 pound double wall Coleman Cobra tent kept us dry. Met a hiker who is from Oregon. He reassured us that this is unusual weather and would warm up sooner or later. Thank God. I was mentally preparing my muckloc order form.

July 17 - Awoke to clear skies, but still cold. Hiked up to Windigo Pass, then got on the original PCT route, now called Oldenburg River Trail. Lots of lakes on this route. Hiked 16 miles. The trail is well maintained, the seasonal creeks, though, were dry. Very few mosquitoes, our theory being they all froze to death the last 2 nights. Lots of horse droppings on trail, but Whitefish Horse Camp ahead doesn't allow campers Without horses. Maybe I should get a bridle. Plenty of water faucets there, though.

July 18 - Hiked 10 1/2 miles to Shelter Cove Resort. The store is expensive so we scrounged in a hiker box. I only needed 3 days food but should have bought something. I got some "soak and heat" stuff I will politely refer to as food, and dumped it in with my tad of remaining Ramen and mashed potatoes. This concoction would have worked had there not been all these little peas, inedible and dangerous seeds. Just bird feed, I kid you not. I called it Shit Supreme.

I dont want Rain to bail me, but he is passing me mashed potatoes and I gratefully accept them. Hiked out from the resort. NO post office really, just will accept packages, no stamps, but a stamp meter. They do have a phone.

We split a half gallon of vanilla ice cream, sprinkling on top hot cocoa mix to try for some interest.

Hiked another 4 miles out to camp.

July 19 - Hiked 14 miles to Charlton Lake. Picked all the dehydrated peas and beans out of my supper so I can cook the remaining food for tonight. Warmed up a little today, but clouded over. Thunder is causing us to prepare for rain again. Its so nice to share and have time with my partner Rainmaker.

July 20 - Hiked almost 15 miles. Still cold and partly cloudy, thundering much of the day. Small lakes and ponds abound, so do the hungry mosquitoes. 100% DEET is necessary for sanity. Earlier, a hiker was coming up behind us as we passed through a burned over section. We stepped off trail, and waited until he caught up. Much to my surprise and pleasure, it was Lightingbolt! Hadn't seen him since the kick-off party, April 28th. We took photos, introduced Rain to Lightingbolt, and got caught up on news. This guy is flying with 38 mile days. Met another thru-hiker, Jason, who has been leap frogging with Lighting and Erik Wiese. I asked them to give my regards to that fellow from Tennessee whom we will never catch. Ultralight is definitely the way to go with the long trail. Most of the weight is food, which is a pleasure to deplete on mega sections of 150+ miles.

July 21 - Hiked 13 miles plus one more into Elk Lake Resort. I was glad to be sitting at a table, warm and waiting for our friend who lives in Bend to come pick us up. Thankfully, she offered to help us, and we will resupply there. This resort has hot meals, which smell delicious. The few groceries here could not even resupply one thru hiker, if he or she could afford them.

Bought a beautiful fleece turtleneck in Bend. I am swapping that for the silk button down shirt. That silk layer worked great in the desert, allowing for warmth and ventilation, but now has deteriorated with the sun. The fleece turtleneck is so necessary now; vital in cold weather in keeping my neck warm.

July 23 - Monday, left Bend and got back on trail. We Hiked 6 miles to Camelot Lake, arriving around 8 p.m. That chocolate milkshake from McDonalds while driving over to the trailhead was one last treat, so refreshing. Its warmed up a lot and my extra clothes aren't really needed just now, but so glad I have them. My new Nike day and a half pack is really loaded with food and is heavy. Will have to do some adjustments, sewing and such tonight.

We set up the tent, I threw everything inside and sewed while munching goodies. Rain cooked outside. His ankle is of great concern to both of us. We will hike slowly these next days, in hopes of improvement. Never thought I'd see him hiking in Smart Wool socks and sandals. I have food for 10 days. Better to do ten 10's than to hurry and loose my partner. I would hate for him to get off the trail.

July 24 - Hiked 13 miles and have a beautiful site among obsidian rocks and mossy covered trees. Mosquitoes are lessening. Enjoying very pleasant temperatures. The scenery is the best yet, with flowers, small lakes and streams, mountains blue in the distance. Eight hikers have passed us, weekenders. We are hard to notice, stealthily camped above the trail. Only 2 saw us. I cut some blue pad from my closed cell to pad the hip belt on my fanny pack. There is only a thin belt we sewed on to my light 1500 cubic inch pack, the food weight is causing the belt to hurt. Hope this trail innovation helps.

July 25 - Hiked to Lava Camp Lake trail. Hauled water up to our camp. A relaxing day, the scenery so beautiful we stopped many times to just look around and marvel. A lot of lava flow through this section made the trail rough in places. Marvelous veiws of northern mountains and evergreens, white barked trees, and sweet smelling lupine all made this day's hiking perfect. Cloudless skies and moderate temperatures sweeten the delight.

Encountered 18 horses and riders though, who seem to have no regard for hikers. Even though we were on narrow ledges, they kept right on coming. I scrambled down hill to get out of their way far enough off trail to avoid kicks by startled horses. One horse was especially spooked and kept shying. I backed further and further away, talking softly to calm it. Finally it passed but then it had to totally circumvent Rainmaker, a man too scary looking for that horse to handle. That horse's name was Murphy. I guess with the idea, if anything can spook this horse, it will.

July 26 - 2,000 miles! Well, 1999.6 at this Lily Pad Pond which is just so lovely a campsite. Hiked over 16 miles today, through lava flow, rough terain. The cold spring was a 18" diameter hole in the ground, with water about a foot deep, just on the right side of the trail. We took our afternoon break there and decided to press for this lake. Its warm and sunny and I have plenty of food. So good.
Last night before bed, around 6:30, 3 thru hikers came past. They cooked supper at the junction down to the Lava Camp Lake and pressed on. While they cooked and ate, Rain and I kept them company and it was fun catching up on trail news. Seeing how this threesome got along so well, even to cooking and eating out of the same pot was a marvel. They share a 10 x 10 ft. tarp. The three amigos, but we later learned, not the three Original Amigos. Those we would later meet.

July 27 - Decided to hike thte lower Oregon Skyline Trail, which is an alternate old PCT route, lower in elevation and passing numerous lakes and streams. Many seasonal creeks are dried up and the new PCT route for the next 28 miles has only a few water sites available, some as much as a mile off trail.
Hiked for awhile with a man named Chad and his son Joseph. They are base camped and out on a day hike. We talked about trail desserts! Suddenly we heard the thudding of hooves, so stepped aside, and allowed 4 women with their 7 horses to pass. The 3 pack horses each loaded with huge plastic boxes on both flanks passed as we chatted with the women. They were heading to Red Butte Lake today, hauling in gear etc. for their class they will teach tomorow. The class? Leave no trace. All this for 12 people. I kid you not. They wanted to lighten the load of those coming tomorow. Its the greatest paradox. Horses and all that stuff. Leave no trace. Yeah. Tell me how you get one horse down the trail with no trace. How about 7, pounding, eating, defecating, horses hauling in god knows what, to teach 12 students how to leave no trace. Hiked 15 miles today, camped near Marion Lake.

July 28 - Saturday, I realized this morning that I have been on the trail for 3 months. Woke up to rain and the realization that my hiking clothes were all wet. Had left them out under a starry sky last night to air out. We each cooked in our vestibules and packed up during a lull in the drizzle and a very cold day. At lunch we sat under out tent fly trying to stay warm. Hiked in 3 layers on top, shorts and rain pants. The sil-nylon is really doing its job and the mittens help my hands stay warm under the gloves. Hiked 14 miles, camped just above Milk Creek. The sun is shining intermittently now, and we have all our gear spread around drying. Contemplating a resupply at Ollalie Lake Resort. Reported to be similar to Shelter Cove, we dread the high prices and limited selection.

"Maybe they'll have some decent deals. Like Ramen, 2 for a dollar. Or, buy one oatmeal, get one free." Rainmaker considers my banter, and I suggest, "Maybe like a free motel room with the purchase of every Ramen." Rain turns and gives me this incredulous look.

Have met 3 dads, with their young sons, and 2 couples, and a group of teenage boys, in the last 24 hours. Humm; women, whats up?

July 29 - Rain began about 8:30 this morning; a cold sleeting rain. We climbed from 4300 feet to 7010 amidst clouds and rain. Saw several other hikers, all wearing rain parkas and heavy clothes, pack covers or garbage bags covering their gear. 2 laden llamas, 3 boys and two men passed us. These small boys were hiking up over the mountain today and down to a lake. I felt sorry for them. When they stopped to chat, the llamas gave me withering looks, and leaned towards me. I kept backing off trail, wondering how far one could spit, and if they would break lose to bite me. LLamas with an Attitiude.
Hiked 13 miles, too cold to stop long, sliding down the snow covered slopes on the northside. I took some photos of Rainmaker crossing in his sandals and Smart Wool socks. Something wrong with this picture. Crossing snow, July 29, in Oregon. Now in a shelter at Breitenbush Lake, a welcome surprise. We sit at a wooden picnic table as the rain pelts the roof. Each of us has gone through several liters of water, rehydrating with warm fluids. Our rain fly is hanging to block the wind on the one open side of the shelter.

July 30 - We ended up setting up our tent in the shelter last night. Hiked 6 1/2 miles into Ollalie Lake Resort. They have adequate food stuff, but expensive. A microwave is available so I made some popcorn. Hot coffee, and hot water is available. Ramen is 75 cents. A rustic cabin rents for $60; a 30 minute shower is $5. One at a time, please. There are bagels, muffins and pastries for a buck each. One generous man who was hiking and leaving tomorrow gave us a lot of his extra food. This helped enormously. Met Paul, another thru hiker, and The Three original Amigos there. Hiked out another 4 miles, and camped by Lake Jude.
I am amazed by how much food I eat lately, but its been so cold, and staying warm requires calories.

July 31 - Hiked 15 miles today. Woke up to mostly blue skies, a welcome surprise. The forcast had told us at least 2 more days of rain remained. Few mosquitoes left. Saw my first glimpse of Mt. Hood. Truly magnificent glaciers and clouds around it.

At lunch we spread out gear in the sunshine. I am drying socks on my pack, and swapping them every few hours for those on my feet. I hope to hasten the drying of my shoes this way, kinda an internal mopping. Rainmaker's sandals are dry, and his socks are doing nicely, also. Humm, interesting concept. Camped by a spring 2 miles before Warm Spring River.

August 1 - Hiked 15 miles, and camped in a sweet little site right next to Timothy Lake.

Met a lot of week-enders, hikers out with packs for a few days. Answered questions about when we started, gear, etc. Trying to get information about Government Camp, our next resupply 17 miles away. Really looking forward to pancakes and hot coffee.

One hiker gave us such a laugh, running out of water, walking along Timothy Lake. He told Rainmaker he didn't want to drink water out of a lake, because of the boats in it. I should give him a clue. This water is great. Wait til he has to wade through cow droppings to pick up water.

Rainmaker and some birds are having a contest over his food. I give you one guess who will win. We are not benevolent day or week hikers. We are hungry long distance hikers used to defending our food and winning.

August 2 - Hiked about 17 miles, camped .2 miles from Hwy. 35. Going into Government Camp tommorow early enough for a pancake breakfast. I'm really tired tonight, not exactly sure why. I think perhaps dehydrated, and wishing I had something sweet to eat. Saw some beautiful views of Mt. Hood, grand in its ruggedness. We've been 11 nights on the trail since Bend.

August 3 - This morning we packed up camp after a brief breakfast of coffee and the tad of food remaining. Walked up to Hwy. 35 where we got a ride with the first car that came by - a snowboarder bound for Timberline Lodge, the glacier and snow that offer summer fun.

This town, Government Camp, is something else. At the Huckleberry Inn we ordered breakfast and drank coffee to our hearts content. Rented a bunk room for $84 which was pricey but with rain moving in we were glad to have it. There are 6 beds here, 3 sets of bunks, so we just spread the gear all over the place, sorting and resupplying. A TV with 10 stations, a phone, wonderful tub and shower is just heaven. A laundromat is next door. The village store has a lot to offer, and prices the best I've seen outside of a hiker box. Went to the post office just a block down the road. A very good town stay if you have someone to split the motel price with. Food is great, a snowboarders convention center, seemingly, with test areas and kids with boards all over town. All the gear shops wax boards, sell clothing, and accessories. No hiker gear. All snow gear. I cruised every shop in town looking for a serious hip belt. No luck. Not even close.

Across the street live music will play in a bar. This is a real happening place.

August 4 - Left our room just before 11 a.m. check out time. Hiked out in the fog and drizzle and back on trail by 11:38. A woman who'd been doing a section hike and just got off saw us and gave us a ride, a pint of raspberries and offered any food we needed of her supplies.

Hiked 5 miles to Timberline Lodge. Had pizza and chef's salad there for David's(Rainmaker) belated birthday meal. There are 5 dining areas in that location, but one was being used for a wedding reception and two were closed. The fancy bar upstairs was available, but we opted for the Blue Ox, located on the bottom floor. A cute little cozy place, nestled in a corner. Great Starbucks coffee. Male Waiters!

Hiked another 4.6 miles to Lost Creek and what was one time Paradise Park Shelter. It is now a pile of rocks. 45 miles to Cascade Locks and the Oregon border. Very cold tonight. Met some nice women who gave us Bing cherries. Yummy. Ate those with the leftover pizza. Have all my clothes on, in the tent. Just barely warm enough.

August 5 - Saw so many day hikers, their kids and their dogs. Hiked 15 miles, some tough uphill on the new PCT route because the old one up to Bald Mt. is full of mud slides and trashed trail. A posted sign said it wasn't worth maintaining anymore, but hikers, not horses, could still use the old one.

The black flies are maddening, having no respect for numerous applications of DEET. Yet, I continue applying it with hopes it will keep them at bay.

Picked up water at a trickling spring just .4 north of Lolo Pass Rd. Hiked about a mile until we finally found a campsite just off trail on the right side. On the left is a notice posted every 200 yards telling of a 6 month jail sentence and $5,000 fine if caught camping there, because of the Bull Run Watershed Act.

If any topic can get me going its Leave No Trace aimed at hikers, but allowing cattle and horses through here at all. We leave no trace, cut no vegetation, bury personal waste, carry out all traces. But cattle, for the financial benefit of a few are allowed to totally trash around on our national lands and wildernesses for a pittance of money, some of which ranchers haven't even paid for 5 years. We are told to cut no switchbacks, a very reasonable request, and herds of cattle are grazed in our wilderness, tromping and tearing up the hard work of maintainers. It really gets to me sometimes. Poisoning our water with their waste.

Oh well. A perfect hiking day, with magnificent views of Mt Hood. Warm and breezy at times. We did 15 miles.

August 6 - Hiked about 14.5 miles and camped near a waterfall on the Eagle Creek alternate route, suggested by the guide book, and everyone who has ever hiked it.

The morning was the warmest its been since Crater Lake. Hiked through lots of raspberry, thimbleberries and huckleberies. At lower elevations the berries are ripe. We have been enjoying the berries alot. The vegetation covers the trail in many areas, making it hard to see the rocks below. Great views then opened up of the Columbia River Gorge, and northerly views of Mt. St. Helens, Rainer and Mt. Adams.

Met a couple today southbound. They have 1100 miles to Sonora Pass, I realized later. Wonder what that'd be like in October.

A trail mix of pretzels, crushed a bit, Fritos, and chocolate chips is pretty decent.

August 7 - Tuesday. We heard there was free camping for PCT hikers at the RV Marine Campground 1/4 miles east of town, so that was our goal for today.

We got on the trail by a normal 7:30 a.m. after hot steaming coffee and cream cheese on a bagel. Strolling along past waterfalls, ahead of Rainmaker, both of us were enjoying the ripe thimbleberries along the edge of the trail.

I rounded one curve and thought I heard some noises down in a small canyon, thinking it was people and what on earth were they doing down there. The trail was narrow ledge, dropping off into the canyon, the wall rising straight up on my left. I continued munching trailside berries, rounded a bend, when suddenly heard something going swish by my right sholder. I thought something had brushed my pack and turned to look.
Glancing back, I saw a black shape just next to the tree at the trail's edge. "David, a bear!" I looked up, and saw her cub in the tree that was so close I could touch it.

I began backing up, clicking my hiking poles together as a million thoughts raced through my mind. What on earth? Is that a bear? How on earth did I not see her? Oh my god, I just walked right past a mother bear and cub. Not wanting David to walk past her as I did, I called several times, David, a bear! She raised up, looking very angry and began to huff and woof at me. I kept backing up, looking behind at the trail so I wouldn't fall off it, hoping also that I wasn't backing into another bear. I couldn't yell, I have no idea why not, but just kept watching as I anticipated her bluff charge. A bluff charge, I asked myself? Is there any room for a bluff charge? All my senses getting ready for it, and determined not to run.

Rainmaker (David) around the bend, was calling to me, "Carol, don't run! don't run." Because of the waterfall we couldn't hear each other, and had no idea what the other was doing. He had seen the cub scurry up the tree, and knew I was just up ahead. He kept advancing on the mother bear, yelling to me, hoping I could hear, hoping she would become confused, perhaps be distracted, and even turn her attention to him. Finally, she dropped on all fours, and ran off down into the canyon. Her cub soon followed. Then, Rainmaker came around the bend.

We held each other close for awhile, reliving it, telling our experiences over and over. I have never had anyone risk their life for me before. I don't think I ever had anyone who was willing to.
Its something I will never forget.

Safe and sound we continued on the Eagle Creek Trail, a marvelous section which brings one past Tunnel Falls, and unpaintable beauty. There is cable embedded on the canyon walls for hand holds. It is a popular trail as one gets within 5 miles of Cascade Locks. By 3:30 we were in town, camping by 4:30. Cascade Locks has restaurants a plenty. I plan to check them out soon.

August 8 - I can't sleep, ate too much taco salad, a wonderful meal for two, served to one in a huge, deep fried tortilla shell with taco chips on the side.

Then, there's the quarterly hour Special, a freight train roaring past shaking the ground to pieces, me included. Aha, that would be the 6 strands of rails we crossed just before this campsite designated for PCT hikers. No wonder they give it free.

Maybe I've seen Green Fried Tomatoes too many times. Maybe I'm also still wound up from yesterday's bear encounter. That was a trail gift, to see bears so close. Anyways, here I sit in the well lit public bathroom, on a bench, writing and drinking water at 2 a.m. Could be worse. Lots worse.

Later that day:

Packed up at the visiter center free site and checked into the Econo Lodge next to the restaurant, across from the mini-mart, an ice cream shop and the post office. Had a zero hiking day, but still was very busy with bounce boxes, resupplying and fantastic gift packages sent by friends. Rain went to the library to use their computer and was able to get online for 1/2 hour (the limit). Did laundry, wrote letters, met Cindy, another long distance PCT hiker. Gave Rain a haircut, now he doesn't look quite so wild.

August9 - Packed up and left by 10 a.m. Walked across Bridge of the Gods for free (a courtesy to thru hikers). We opted for the alternate route to Stevenson, Washington and continued up to Carson, about 8 miles. Extremely hot and dry, but fun eating at the mini-mart just as one enters Stevenson. Now camped at a motel/RV park, where the owner is refurbishing an apartment. He is letting us use that bathroom, the kitchen with complete facilities, plus a place to camp, for only $10.

Across the street is a good sized grocery store, a definite resupply option. The post office is next to it. Had we know these facts, we would have used it instead of Cascade Locks, and avoided carrying food these last miles. ATM machine available here, also.

Write it down in detail
Visualize having it
Devise plan
Say no to anything that gets in the way
---from Jim Walters' (note on the TV set)I love it.

August 10 - Hiked up to Panther Creek Rd. and hit the PCT by 10 a.m. Hauled water to make the 2,500 ft. climb. Dropped down 350 ft. to camp next to Cedar Creek. I have my pack so heavy, it was so hot, sweat was dripping off my face. Took a bath downstream at camp and feel tons better. A small wooden sign at the top of the trail tells of this camp. Now only 104 miles from White Pass.

August 11 - Hiked 15 miles and camped near trail between Blue Lakes and Lake Sebago. A young couple is camped next to us. They came about an hour after we set up. They have a dog, which they allowed to roam all over our camp, saying, "Just let us know if he is bothering you." Rain and I just returned that statement with an unsmiling stare. They got the message and tied up their dog.

Very crowded camping, its Saturday, that's right!

August 12 - Hiked 16 miles today to camp by Steamboat Lake, .2 mile off trail. It was warm again, with flies and mosquitoes. I know this won't last long, only 425 miles from Canada, with summer closing fast.

I have thought every thought over at least 4 to 5 times. I am running out of thoughts. I have redesigned my pack, designed new tents, clothes, etc . I asked Rain and he said he is humming some tunes. Been a long time since I heard any tunes, but will hum what I can.

Today while hiking there were a lot of frogs on trail. One even jumped out in frount of me, hitting my pole, and bouncing off. Then he hopped away. A hit and run frog. Oughta be a law.

August 13 - Hiked 15 miles, camping just below Mt. Adams in a lovely spot.

Crossed Hwy. 88, which is a possible hitch into Trout Lake, but there was no traffic heard. Then crossed Hwy. 23, much more traffic. That would be a better option if one chose to get off the trail here. Just past that road, a woman had left a cooler with trail magic treats inside. That was such a lift to my spirit, very special. Thanks, Tripod.

We left there crossing several water sources, and met three people coming towards us. A man in white shirt (how strange) carrying topo maps. He stopped us, and asked me, "Do you know of any place these folks (the couple with him, he indicated with a gesture) could camp with water? Is there any water ahead?" They had asked Rainmaker for spare water. There is a spring just ahead of us, we were counting on. When asked, they said it was dry. We showed them on the topo map the one we meant. "No, its dry. There is no water in this whole stretch." I was unbelieving, just couldn't imagine. I told them of the water we'd passed, not to worry, that although we had none with us now to spare, they would surely have water to drink soon.

Rain and I hiked about 15 minutes and heard distinctly the flowing spring on our right, exactly where it was supposed to be. Minutes later, we came upon several campsites, with definite trails leading downward. Obvious signs of water. Following one down, there was a large spring, flowing happily along, with all the water and flowers one could wish for.

These people brought themselves out here without the ability to find water. Very dangerous. Listening, quietness, and observation, will get you what you need out here, generally speaking.

August 14 - Met Berkley Bill again, while we were having breakfast in camp. He is a thru-hiker I'd met in the Sierras. Rainmaker and I speak of the Donner Syndrome. Had they crossed that pass before they camped, they would have made California safe and avoided the dreaded winter, starvation, and resulting cannibalism.

With that in mind, we teased each other, next person who passes us early in the morning, while we eat breakfast, when they say, "have a nice breakfast" we would reply, "No, you Are breakfast!"
Man alive, trail humor!

Hiked 15 miles, crossing various glacier fed streams. The last, Muddy Fork, was icy cold and deep, the bridge being out. This was a barefoot crossing for me, Rain crossed first, in shoes, and as he neared the middle, suddenly stepped into a lower spot. The water, so strong and swift, nearly knocked him off his feet. I knew it would be almost to my hips.

I entered the flow, and was shocked by the cold. Concentrating, one firm step at a time. Rain set down his pack, and reentered the stream, to steady me as I hit that low spot, nearly losing my balance. Deep and icy, just below my hips.

Pack is definitely lighter with 2 1/2 days of food left for White Pass, 43 miles away. A man in a red pickup drove past, then returned to talk and evaluated us, as we camped just past a road. I dont think he'd seen Rainmaker the first time past, and he returned to investigate. After Rain talked with him, I felt a little better, but bad vibes from this guy kept me alert and nervous all night.

August 15 - Hiked 14 miles, went down spur trail 101 to camp by small lakes just 1/4 mile off PCT. Today saw a large brown colored Black bear, it ran away. Last night the bugleing of a bull elk,yipping of coyotes and fresh bear dropping in the morning made our own wilderness experience richer. We crossed a road, the last until White Pass, over 40 miles away. My energy is good, eating light is probably helping. Tomorrow looks to be a big day.

August 16 - A very frustrating day. A lot of climbing, beautiful views, but somehow just took a long time. We reached the Packwood Glacier, tried crossing it, and got 1/2 way when Rain said to turn back. All along, it had been iffy. As I crossed ahead of Rain, about 4 in the afternoon, I kept hearing noises from above. The glacier above me seemed to be groaning, shifting,or something. I glanced back at my partner, just in time to see a rock slide come down, barely missing him. I think thats when he had enough.

An alternate route, up over Old Snowy, was the only other option. My whole body screamed against the injustice of having to climb, when the data sheet said we were done with that for the day. The treadway down from Old Snowy was loose scree, and then began the undulations of the crest walk, as fog rolled in. No water until we got down from there, past Elk Pass. It would have been absolutely gorgeous had it not turned cold and windy, with night pressing us.

Finally, with partial views opening through the fog of high mountains and deep valleys, the trail descended and we camped near glacier melt streams in a sweet campsite above 6600 ft. Cookies, a granola bar and milk for supper, then conked out by dark. 14 miles, I guess.

August 17 - Hiked into White Pass using chairlift trail 1112. That was a mistake! Either we missed it, and missed the road down, or this option is nuts. Once we reached the highway at White Pass, David lost no time in asking point blank some tourists if they would give us a ride to Packwood, 20 miles west along Hwy 12. They readily agreed, since they were going that way and off we went. Whew!

Packwood is a marvelous little town, with many motels, resturants, mini marts and laundry facilities. We reserved 2 nights at Hotel Packwood, a historic building with small quaint rooms. The bathroom, however, is down the hall. The owners keep coffee brewing all day, movie videos are available in the lounging area, and there are TV's and phones in the rooms. We paid $39 a night, and that was a weekend rate.

August 19 - Left Packwood today. We checked out of our room at 11:15, walked to the mini-mart, and ate some snacks. Got some shoe glue yesterday and sealed up some boot seams. Hope that helps these Faded Glory high-tops make the last few hundred miles. I have had them since Mojave, and thats pretty good. (They ended up lasting the entire rest of the trip, giving me over 1400 miles of service).

I have learned that ultralighting means saving pain, as in not carrying too many supplies like lotions and spare this and that. I am no pack mule. Most of my weight is food, and then clothes. Its turned cool and every piece I have I use.

In Packwood, the weather forecast was for 4 days of record cold and record rainfall. The upside of this is it will help the firefighters, and very welcome. The downside is we will have to be extremely careful of our gear, to be wet is to be cold, in elevations over 6,000 ft. Some hikers have decided to take a few extra days, and wait until it improves.

White Pass, where the PCT crosses the highway, has a mini-mart sort of place. Its called One Stop, not Kracker Barrel like the data sheet says. Nice folks there, with post office drops available, laundry and lodging of sorts. They sell some delicious corn dogs. Hiked out 6 miles and camped at Busch Lake.

August 20 - Monday. Last night I got sick, nauseated, my stomach felt like it had too much acid. Took an Immodium after midnight dig and release. Never leave home without 'em. Nibbling on pretzels with Advil.

Re-met Marny and Tom, hikers I'd met by Baden-Powell in the desert. I will remember Tom as the guy singing "Home, Home on the Range" while going through snow and trying to find the switchbacks up and over. Camped near side of trail above Two Lakes Trail. Skywalker came by; we chatted and gave him the weather forcast. He is beating it to Snoqualmie.

As we washed up from supper, I stood looking south, Rain's back against his pack, looking north. What was this face I saw looking back at me, from the log at trail's edge, not 30 feet from us? Was it a mule? A horse? an ugly hiker? The mind searched to place it...."David, there's a bear" When I spoke, it startled, and ran headlong downward, as fast as possible. It must have come to investigate some color or odor. That's 7 bears so far.

Rainmaker is in a lot of pain with his neck and back. With storm clouds approaching, we plan our strategy for the next stretch. Above all, keep the sleeping bag dry. We'll make it. Seems like the trail is always asking us, testing us, "How badly do you really want this?"

August 21 - Learned this morning that rocks make poor pot supports in cold weather. They seem to soak up all the heat my hex tablets put forth, paper and twigs don't help. Tent stakes tonight proved very workable, in spite of rainy weather.

Rainmaker and I have this ongoing study of ultralight technique. I provide the experimentation. He provides the astute observation. Even though he isn't an ultralighter, he does have the best and lightest stove system going, which I will adopt for the AT this spring.

Hiked a mere 12 miles in the promised rain and cold. Not nearly as cold as I'd figured, but its coming. Set up under some huge pines near Sheep Lake, the ground was sheltered enough to be dry. We both are enjoying hot coffee, all gear inside. Loving this tent with its two side doors and vestibules. Whoever designed this Colman tent for two was a genious. It adds at least 15 degrees of warmth once it is closed and we are in it for a bit. Weighs just 3 pounds, 11 ounces.

August 22 - Hiked 15 miles through freezing rain and wind along open crest slopes. Pulled into camp early because breaks and lunch were so short, just grabbing a bite to eat. Camped by Arch Rock Springs, data sheet and guide book saying there's supposed to be a shelter here, but it burned down and was disassembled a couple of years ago.

Saw Miracle Mike tonight when he came down for water. Kam is still with him, though she waited at the top of the trail.

August 23 - Woke to blue skies! Hiked 5 miles to Urich Shelter, in Government Meadows, and enjoyed coffee on the wood stove. John and Cyclone were there, hanging out. On and off, sunny skies would appear, then it would rain, sometimes simultaneously. We needed to make 5 more miles to camp just south of the 14.4 waterless stretch. Rainmaker's back is in a precarious state. We will do shorter days and not carry water. I want to finish with him in Canada, so I will do whatever he decides, willingly. We discussed options. If he should need to leave the trail for two weeks' healing, would I continue without him, or wait out those two weeks? What if he couldn't return then? Finally decided I would need to go on. That not looking like much fun, we will be cautious, and take it one day at a time.

Tonight we set up camp just before another deluge started. I couldn't get my stakes into the rocky ground anywhere, to serve as a pot support. In desperation I used the metal ends of my hiking poles, while my partner laughed good naturedly in disbelief. "Is that rubber I smell burning?" he asked. "Yeah, its the snow basket gaskets," I replied.

August 24 - 4th day of rain, clouds, drizzle and cold, finally broke clear this afternoon. Hiked 14.4 miles through beautiful forest, clear cuts, crossing several roads. Just before Tacoma Pass there was a bucket with cold sodas and treats a trail angel had placed there. His name is Mountain Dew, he thru-hiked the AT in 98.

August 25 - Woke to clear, cold skies; hiked 14 miles. What an unusual day. Just past Snowshoe Butte we met two people who forewarned us of a 100 mile race to take place on the PCT and nearby trails. Later that day it warmed up, and we looked for the water one-tenth mile west of the weather station access road. Couldn't be found. Berry pickers up on the hill gave us directions to a camp with water. Could not be found. Bummed and thirsty, we headed north, hoping seasonal rills would be running. Just at Road 54, Lizard Lake junction, was a group of men and women sitting around trucks and tables laden with food. We crossed that parking lot; they offered us water and asked about our welfare. Finding that we were PCT long distance hikers, they said "Get you a plate and help yourselves. We are the aid station at mile 35 for the 100 mile race."

We ate all that our dignity would allow. One man saw our reluctance and brought out the makings for sandwhiches, while another poured us Gatorade. "Don't worry," he said, "there's plenty. We'd be daresant to run out." A woman gave us snacks, and showed us fruit. So wonderful. Christmas in August!

Needing to make some more miles, we thanked them and headed out. Camped by Strip Creek in a tiny campsite next to the trail. Runners began passing us now, calling out things as they passed: "Are you hiking the PCT?" to which Rain answered after they were out of earshot..."No, we're waiting for the $%@&^ mall to open so we can go shopping!"

"Is this the right trail?", you took the wrong turn 50 miles back

"How ya doing?" audibly Rain responded "Fine, and you?" He claimed to be fine also, to which I called out (when he was out of range) "Liar!"

"40 done, 60 to go!" ....Rainmaker responds with 2400 done, 250 to go. Seriously, there was a measure of extremism here, that we shared with them.

****Sung to "Leavin' on a Jet Plane":****

Instant coffee's made, its early morn
Poptarts ready, wrappers torn,
I hate to pack it up, and hit the trail
But, I'm leaving on a jet plane
Won't be back to this trail again
Oh Rain, its good to go.

So many snakes I've walked around
So many times I've nearly drowned
I tell you now, they don't mean a thing

All the bears we've met, there's been a few
All the resupplies, me and you
When we get back, those things will be online,
Cause, I'm leaving on a jet plane...

The deserts done, Sierras too
Trinities, Sisters, Cascades are through
Don't mean to brag, but thats the way it is

Every quart I carried, every pound of food
Every laugh and smile, every dark mood
I tell you now, that means everything
I'm leaving On a jet plane,
God, it'll be good to be home again
Oh Rain, its time to go.

August 26 & 27 - We arrived in Snoqualmie, another ski run descent into a cute little resort type town.

To my utter amazement, Ben (Cobweb) met us today, on trail! He stayed and finished instead of getting off in Ashland. So wonderful having my trail friends catching up to us, and exchanging news, views, and irreplacable smiles. Nothing like it, at all, on this earth, the friendship and understanding, the crude jokes and laughter that long distance hiking brings. I love it.

We talk of the water in northern California, solutions to the cattle (a .357 Magnum, I believe was mentioned) We ask about the welfare of hikers ahead and behind. Trade incredible stories, of animals, hardships, sickness, and plummeting down 59 cut switchbacks. Naughty!!!

Supposedly there is a hiker friendly bed and breakfast in this town, simply call the number listed in the town guide. We wanted to. Believe me. Tried and tried. A ranger told us good luck. Probably on line. Well, it was a mile away, or so, and no one wanted to hike down there, to see if there was room. The Best Western gave us PCT special rates. A room normally going for $109 was rented to us for $65 a night. Hot tub, TV, private bath, with restaruant attached. I'm home. Anyone able to call that other place and get through deserves an award: Most Persistant Hiker on the PCT. At least 6 hikers gave up during those two days we were there.

Resupplied out of the store, but that same sickness, nausea, and diarrhea from last week found me again. I am laying in bed, and bemoaning the delicious food I can't eat during this town stop.

August 28 - I'm very excited and happy about leaving Snoqualmie, bound for Skykomish and the Canadian border. I have been on the trail 4 months now. I think nastalgia will soon set in. We mailed a box ahead to Stehekin, 89 trail miles from the border. Seeing that resupply would be limited, we included pretzels, M&M'ss, Ramen and rice.

I'm feeling better now. Ate a good breakfast. Whatever this ailment is, it has the decency to last only 24 hours and allow me to eat small amounts.

Climbed 2,400 feet and camped by Grand Lake. Its beautiful and very rugged.

August 29 - Hiked through beautiful country today. I suppose its been beautiful this whole time. Just couldn't see it for all the fog and rain. Up and over Hucklberry Mt. was harder than I'd imagined, over to Park Lake. The trail was narrow scree, some chutes the guidebook talks about would be truely treacherous on ice or snow. As it was, only snow was way off on a mountain. Mosquitoes are still here! Glad I still have DEET for night and early morning in camp.

Camped at a beauful site by Lemah Creek, hiked 15 miles. Heard the cry of an eagle or hawk a lot today while climbing. Realized how special it was to be out here.

Up in the heights I walk the ridge,
Look way down below, I see the bridge
I crossed that log this early morning
In spite of all dayhiker warnings
Wind through my hair, an eagle cries
I'll soon be there,
Never be tame again

August 30 - Camped near Waptus Creek, just after crossing the bridge. Up trail there are great sites, and an older hiker is camped there. He talked with us while enjoying his one drink. "As long as I get only one, its going to be 100 proof Vodka," he stated.

Grizzly and Starman passed us today and I enjoyed, once again, trading news. We each are traveling newspapers. Lovely weather continues, as we look at nearing Canada in September, we take good weather as trail gifts. Rain and I only have 2 resupplies left, but our food options for the trail continue to dwindle because of nausea and just boredom / intense distaste for typical suppplies. The mere mention of peanut butter and pop tarts bring such a pitiful look to Rain's eyes that I agreed they are off limits. I won't eat Ramen, he won't eat dairy products. A couple of good loaves of bread, heavy as they are, will be our main stay.

August 31 - Hiked 15.5 miles today. The daily climb of over 2,000 ft. and corresponding descent makes me feel the profile map now. Now I understand why this section's profile looks like tines on a fork.

Last night, after two extra strength Tylenol, I woke with a start. Earlier, Rain had mentioned something about "some damn mouse" ran across his arm. Yawn, yeah, ok. Passed out quietly. Suddenly though it was real, as I sat up quickly at 2 a.m. and said, "A Mouse!!". It seemed as though one had just ran past my head.

Like a cougar, Rain all at once, in 3 seconds, had the flashlight on, tracked that mouse, located him next to his Therma Rest and beat it to death with his fist. He then unzipped the door and flung his sorry hide outside. Zipped it up and laid back down. Heavens! So that's how it's done!

That mouse had chewed a hole through the mesh, dropped down onto my food bag, and musta been one dense critter, because he ran up to our heads to see if we were awake. Now he is smashed flatter than an ultralighters sleeping bag. If I had been him, I'd have munched myself sick, then made a break for it first light.

Sewed up the hole this evening, and fondly think of Rainmaker as the Avenger and Mortal Mouse Enemy. Probably got its roots from his AT thru hike in 92, when he trapped and killed 6 one evening, even helping to hang one by its neck with dental floss until life left its body. May it rest in peace in some cat body. Seriously, I don't really like mice.

Tucked in a cozy little campsite just before the headwaters of Cle Elum.

September 1 - Woke with rain pattering on our tent, snapping noise and such. I sleepily said, "David, I keep hearing stuff outside." He replied thoughtfully, "Well, there's alot of stuff out there. Stands to reason." I looked over at him. He was dead serious.

We made coffee, ate some rice crispy bars and packed up. Hiking on days like this you really don't take breaks other than to drink, pee and grab a bite. If you stop long you get cold. If you try to talk, the various layers make hearing all but impossible. He might ask, "Are you doing alright" and I would hear, through my hair, balclava, and rainhood, "Grrrrr, sit type." "Hunh?" I ask increduously.
He looks at me. Frowns. Repeats, "Are you cold, you want to stop?" I hear," Grrrr, old rotten pop." "What?" Can't hear anything. All you want to do is get to camp, set up the tent, fling everything inside, and eat.

Keep things separated. The wet outside with the wet. Dry inside with the dry, wearing it, eating it, or writing on it. That's rainy day strategy. Hiked 15 miles. Camped by Hope Lake, 8 miles out of Skykomish.

Septmeber 2 - Hiked 8 miles into Sevens Pass, and finlly got a ride down to Skykomish. One thing I've noticed. Its never the people with the nice cars, money or space who give hikers a ride. Its invariably someone with an old car, having to move bags, dogs, and themselves over to make room. May all their kindness return to them a hundredfold. May gifts come their way, and sunshine be their portion. Those pushing a brand new two-ton vehicle through life, usually solo, may they need a ride someday, and stand hoping.

This is one dying town. Only one motel remains in business. $73 for a tinsy room is high. Yet, it does have a microwave and small refrigerator, coffee pot and lots of channels on TV. The owner has been voted politician of the year. No laundry facilities. No, they couldn't let us use the washing machine for our wet and muddy gear. Ask a local. Hunh? Fine. I washed everything out in the tub, hanging it to dry all around our room. He thought a load of wash would be hard on his septic tank. How about 2 bathtubs of hot water to wash with, and a couple more for wrinsing? We left with cleaner clothes. Its all relative. We have a saying, Rainmaker and I. Its not actual dirt unless its real shit. I mean that literally.

Everything seems to be closed, or for sale. The deli is for sale. The one restaurant is for sale. They keep whatever hours that suit them. When I complained to another hiker that they closed unexpectedly at 2:00 one afternoon, he replied, "Well, then, you were lucky!"

The Chevron mini-mart, though, has sufficent food for a good resupply, and food we cooked in our motel. Baked potatoes, Sloppy Joes, and plenty of onions made a great meal.

All said, Levenworth, 36 miles east, would be a better town stop than this had been. Next time I will know.

September 4 - Hiked 10 miles after leaving town. There was supposed to be Janus Cabin Shelter here, but like the rest, has gone the way of the grave. I have the 2000 guide book, Rainmaker has the newer one. Supposed to be partly cloudy and clear this next week, no rain. Hope they are right. Manning Park only 171 miles away. Feeling very close and very cold. Fog rolling in, happy anticipation as we near our journey's end. I've loved this experience, but ready to go home for the winter.

September 5 - Hiked 14.5 miles, and camped by Pass Creek at a good site. Saw Meadow Ed today.

Well, it rained last night, cloudy and foggy all day, sometimes visibility is only a hundred feet or so. We know the mountains make their own weather, but wishing for some sun soon.

Rainmaker has his fleece bag liner now. I am glad, because I know how much I have needed mine and it makes me feel better knowing he will be warmer. Last night some critter stole two wads of my toilet paper I keep in my shoe just outside my door, for night trips. Man alive, there's not an endless supply! Guess I will have to start sleeping with it!

September 6 - Hiked over 16 miles. Had a short period of sunshine, then fog rolled in. We weren't going to do Red Pass tonight, but remembering the Donner Party's folly in not doing the pass that evening, and getting snowed in, we elected to go for it. Camped 1.7 miles below, at 5,500 feet. Less elevation means warmer. This section of trail is like the last. A good climb every 10 miles or so, then dropping back into the valley. We can see our breath in the tent, wind chill must be hovering around 20 degrees.

September 7- Went over Fire Creek Pass today around 5:00 p.m. I believe this to be the most lovely place on the entire PCT. It was certainly my favorite. The evening sunshine brought out the golden hues of the fall colors. The grade was gentle, the mood sublime. A perfect contentment. We stopped and took several photos, all the while knowing it would never suffice. Hiked down to Mica Lake and camped by its sandy shore. We did 16 miles.

September 8 - Hiked only 13.5 miles. The climb this morning was overgrown and took alot of energy. Met Jason and his girlfriend Hana today, a great couple doing the state of Washington. The day was totally clear with beautiful blue skies. Somehow our bodies disagreed with the data sheet. 59 switchbacks down to Vista Creek. This took alot of time. Also, the old growth forest, survival trees, and nurse logs all deserved admiration. 5 others came to camp near us, John, Cyclone, Sara, Robin, Max and Spider. Stayed up past dark enjoying the comradeship.

September 9 - Miles came easier today. Rainmaker's opinion is that the data sheet was wrong yesterday, and now making up for it today. Only one climb of 3,000 ft. Need to make Stehekin before the bakery closes tomorow.

September 10 - Hiked 12 miles and caught the 3:00 p.m. bus. For $6 you get to ride into Stehekin. A difficult hitch. Met The Wolfpack, a man and his grown sons, also going into town. The bus driver was friendly, but allowed too much time, getting us into town late, and barely missing the post office. David importuned the post man to stay open, and we were able to retrieve our box.

Lots of hikers in town. We quickly grabbed the last free spot camping, registration is necessary at the visitor center. Laundry is housed in the same building with the free showers. Hikers hanging out on the deck in front of the restaurant. If you want to eat supper there, you must register early in the day. The store and restaurant both close at 8:00 pm....I guess no one eats after that. Rain and I had to make do with hiker type snacks, not having done all required to get a restaurant meal that night.

September 11 - I can only begin to describe this day, one that will be forever imprinted on the minds of every American. Like the day President Kennedy was shot, we shall always remember where we were, what we were doing, who we were with.

We woke to a smokey valley. The wild fires were not yet out. Starving, we dressed and started walking to the restaurant for breakfast. Many of our friends were leaving right afterwards. I wanted Rain to meet them, especially Dell. Many hikers were in town, and we met one, who mentioned, "Did you hear? A ranger told me he heard that 3 planes crashed. One into the Pentgon. Both World Trade Center towers are gone."

Disbelief, anxiety, confusion followed us into the resturant where 11 of us were seated at two long tables. The waiter told us what he knew. In this town of so little contact, radio reports were all we had.

Some political discussion surfaced, and a hiker left the table. The buffet included scambled eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, fruit, milk, oatmeal, and coffee. We ate, talked, conjectured and surmised.

Photos were taken, good-byes said to friends we would probably never meet again. We have but 89 miles left. Just days.

Finally stuffed, we headed next door to the store where ten or so people stood around listening intently to the radio. One woman is speaking, telling of the people she sees jumping from the windows, of people fleeing, confusion, smoke. My god, I thought, this is real. This is America. The country is in readiness. Who are these terrorists? We are told the borders are closed. No planes flying, all have been grounded. A forth plane has crashed. What is wrong with the people who would do such a thing?

Nothing makes sense. A sick feeling comes over me. I must get some air. I must do something that makes sense. I go to work on my resupply. Not a single hiker thinks of not crossing that border. We have come too far, suffered too much, been out here too long. Not me, nor Rain will turn back now.

Couln't find my magic trail spoon. It's been with me ever since Lassen Park stream crossing, when I found it by river's edge. I looked high and low. Through every sack, every corner. Went over the campground five times. Then, I chided myself. Get real. People have lost their lives today, and you are mourning a spoon.

Hikers continue to come into town, are met with the news, share the utter amazement and shock, which turns to anger that some would do this thing. We thrill at the story that 4 men on the last flight, hearing via cell phone their fate, rushed the terrorits. And I think, "Never Again". Never again will a hijacker be allowed to take over, take us anywhere. We are not sheep. Never again will we allow it.

But for now, the trail claims our attention as we rest, resupply, and mail home the final extras, those last few ounces not needed.

Met Zion, a neat 23 year old. Hopes he will not get drafted. Re-met Bob Walker, from Canada, hiking for Parkinson's Disease. He bought two mouse traps to eliminate some constant pests beneath his tarp. Jack came in. Haven't seen him since Echo Lake. Looking hungry. Looking tired. Hope I can get a newspaper tomorow.

September 12 - Hiked 5 miles to Bridge Creek Campground. Jack and Paw Bunyon are here. We took the 11 o'clock bus out of town. Eric and Pam caught that one into town. Amidst many hugs and exchange of quick news, we parted. Wished I had a newspaper with me. I tried to buy one off the ferry, the only place one can, but the man ahead of me scooped up the last. We stood around him on shore, as he slowly opened and paged through. About 8 of us, reading over his shoulder, standing close, saw photos for the first time of our national disaster.

September 13 - Thursday, we hiked 16 miles today, and past Rainy Pass. Camped next to Porcupine Creek, 60 miles to the border. Lots to think about now. State of our country, aches and pains mounting up, getting home, new gear for the AT. Smoke is not so near or so strong.

Was hiking ahead of Rainmaker, early morning, thinking, when suddenly I heard deep grunting, growling noises. Oh no, not another bear! The bushes hid the trail ahead, as it wound its way near the crest. I started hitting my hiking poles together, backing up. Just then, a hiker, heading towards me, appeared, and he was laughing! "Excuse me. Sorry." He smiled. "I didn't know you were there." He had been belching, trying out his loudest effects, and I was sure it was an angry bear. David still laughs when he remembers seeing me in my "bear defense mode" with a red faced male hiker coming around the bend.

September 14 - Hiked 17 miles . Camped by Brush Creek. Border fever is here. Met Bad Boy Billy Bean and traded stories. The funniest was about a fellow hiker awakening to find a bear face in his tent. He hauled off and slugged him in the nose. Bear ran off, and he went back to sleep. Then, how Patch had driven a cougar off far enough so that he could camp by water.

Beautiful weather continues. No real news from southbounders on state of national affairs. Saw one jet contrail so the planes must be back in the air. What I would give for a current newspaper!

September 15 - Hiked 14 miles. Carried water up from Hart's Pass. Met some weekenders and they agreed to post a message to the PCT list that we were safe and almost done. Tired, its close to where gear, body or weather may go at anytime. Lots of hikers ahead and passing us.

My trail spoon was poured out of my cherrios bag this morning. Just before dawn, I could barely see, and this larger object starts coming out of my ziploc bag....What on Earth?

Then I realize its my trail spoon. Its come back to me. A trail gift. Rain understood when I kissed it. Every piece of gear is so important.

September 16 - Early morning hunters headed out past our tent. There was a beautiful sunrise. We hiked 15 miles to camp by a spring. Layers of colors surrounded us today. I again thanked the trail gods that I had a whole camera of 27 shots to capture some memories. A hawk circled overhead, then a vulture. "Not yet!" we called to him. Not sure what is happening to my feet, my insteps in particular. Taking Vitamin I on a regular basis. Trail gods continue to ask "How much do you really want this?"

I've learned so much, and its such a joy hiking with Rainmaker, sharing stories and dreams. He has taught me so much. I'm glad I came out here this spring so that we could finish together, a continuous unbroken line from the Mexican border to Manning Park, Canada. As we discuss the future, I realize he is contemplating the end of his long distance hiking carreer (hikes over 500 miles) and I am contemplating the beginning of mine. I love this life, and at last have found my peers. David and I are life partners, even more than hiking partners, a priceless relationship.

In long distance hiking, we learn to look past the superficial. Hikers like this look horrible, untrimmed, unmanicured, ragged, dirty. But looking past all the trappings of life, are found innovative, self sufficent, interesting people. Before that experience, its easy to judge by the exterior, never to really see them. Most are getting by at the poverty level, and enjoying it.

Monday September 17 - We neared the border, after easy hiking and a bout with a male grouse with a serious Attitude. He would have made great soup, but no hiker returned violence for his molestation of our shoes and gaiters.

Now, I stopped, and waited for Rainmaker to lead the way. This had started out to be his hike. He had invited me along last year. He has led me to this discovery. It seemed appropriate that he should see Canada first, touch that monument,and rest his pack against the sign that designated our crossing.

It's been a blur, seemed the clock wanted us to savor it. The scenery was lovely. Tomorow we catch the bus to Vancover. Tomorow we get to Seattle. The drama nearly completed, its time, and I will cherish it always. You never loose things so hardly won, always a part will stay with you, and become you.

I looked up the side of the mountain, and saw a narrow strip of trees torn down at the base. That is one skinny avalanche! Oh, that is the border!

Met some section hikers at the border, who took our photos. They were heading to the lodge that same night. We ate our snacks, leaving just enough for supper and a light breakfast. That was all.

Hiked up to the designated camping area near Windy Joe Mountain. Twenty teen-agers with two chaperones were camped there. Not having alot of space, we camped a bit off the trail and main area. It was nearly dark. We immediatly set up camp, and began cooking.

Heavens, these kids are sure curious, and keep coming by asking about water. They come so near my cooking pot, with its one last hot meal, I am afraid they will knock it over, contents, flaming hex tablet and all. I have changed in the tent, to avoid boys' eyes. I really am a little crowded.

Finally, a large group came so near, stepping over my stuff, etc., I finally told them, "I am drawing a circle around our site. Next one steps over the line gets shot."

They stopped. Looked at me seriously, and started giving me some elbow space. Rain was tucked back a bit. He just looked at me with blue smiling eyes, and continued cooking.

Not much noise tonight, except the attempts of the chaperones to hang their food bags, by flashlight.

September 18 - Tuesday, Well, if crossing the border wasn't the official terminus of the PCT, then surely getting to the PCT trail head was, or the lodge. We did that this morning. The Greyhound bus leaves at 11:15 and we were determined to be on it.

Woke at 4:30 as planned and cooked coffee by Photon light. We shared our peanut butter and wholewheat bread, each getting a sandwich with predawn coffee. Hard to believe. Hard to believe its finished. I go home now. That was the last night on the trail. I have been hiking for nearly 5 months now. They say it changes you. They say you will never be the same. I think they must be right.

Packed up and hit the trail, so quiet that early morning. Only about 4 miles to go. By 8:30 we came to Gibson Road, a parking lot and "The End". Hiked on that road until it came to Hwy. 3. Turned left and there was the Manning Park complex; cabins, lodge, restaurant, gift shop, groceries. Had a very nice breakfast, other hikers there having one also. If you pay with a credit card, the money change is no problem. If you pay with American dollars, they give Canadian back. Exchange rate was 40% increase in our favor.

We were out there in the parking lot waiting when the bus pulled up. Our tickets couldnt be purchased there, but in the next town of Hope. All went well, arrived in Vancover by 3 pm. While waiting at the bus stop/tram station, we feasted at Mcdonalds. The prices are American, and the exchange rate Canadian. Much food for few bucks.

Took the 5 p.m. Am-Track bus to Seattle, arriving around 9 p.m.. The bus fares were about $50 for each of us, from Manning. Customs were thorough. The agent had problems seeing Rain as the man in his drivers license photo. After removing his glasses, and reminding the officer that it had been a long hike, the agent finally let him pass.

A trail friend picked us up, and took us to our motel, where we had a room until we flew out on the 22nd of September.


I know things will come to me
things you can learn no other way
when they do, this is where I'll put them.

So many things lost their power on the trail. Money only mattered when I was in town, and then, it was spent on real things, like food and clothing. The materialism that can plague a person, meant little. The less I carried, the better my hike. Reduced to drinking out of a plastic peanut butter jar, wearing the same clothes day after day for 5 months, the less I had, the more complete my experience.

Don't push a barn through life. That thought kept coming.

Need for Noise lost its power and instead was replaced by quietness and focus on life: taking time to look, and see what is before me, Observing the bears, snakes, water, wind, weather. Reading the true nature of things. Knowing now, for a certainty, that a person is truly responsible for their own happiness. Hope I can carry this with me into civilization.

Society lost its power, and a new definition of the Real World took over. It is very Real when one faces life day by day, with wilderness elements and basic life needs constanlty before you. I think thats what I lived in for 5 months. I am addicted to the Real world. Civilization seems contrived, with all its self inflicted trappings. Walls are built to keep things in, and out.

What works for me is here and now, and may not work for me forever. Or for anyone else, now, or ever. This is where individuality is discovered sometimes pleasantly, sometimes painfully.

Never will forget the incredible strength of will and determination displayed, however gently, by those who went through it all, never giving into fear. I admired that the most, I think.

And finally, the wisdom of my favorite quote reinforced " In the end you find that no one wins, and that the race was only with yourself" .

Gear Before and After

Last year, July 14 - Sept 15 2000, I hiked from Sonora Pass to Crater Lake with Rainmaker. You may read about this adventure if you like.

My gear list has changed somewhat. The first solo tent I made, the Mohican, is a one person single wall that I designed and made that following winter. It weighs 2 pounds 3 ounces. In spite of the fact that I love it, my hiking partner, Rainmaker, had some good suggestions, and so I remade it, and saved a whole pound. You may wish to see The Cherokee , which weighs an official 1 pound 3.2 ounces, on the post office scales, and requires only 4 stakes.

I have a "packless" pack, which consists of various stuff sacks strapped securely to my external frame, minus the pack I carried last year. Gone are my blue rain jacket, and cream colored shirt, in favor of a more stealth appropriate grey silnylon . I am using a bounce box, instead of drop boxes, to allow me greater access and flexiblity in gear swapping and resupplying.

I have added a 3/4 length closed cell pad, because a good nights sleep on the trail is worth the 7 ounces. I will keep my z rest from last year also.

For the first 1013 miles, I will be solely responsible for getting me there, a sobering concept, so I have the Pacific Crest Trail Guide (in sections), the data book, and a new compass. Also I am bringing with me all the knowledge Rainmaker taught me last year about navigation. Hopefully, it will be enough for one so directionally challenged. Rainmaker hiked this section in 1999, and you can read the inspiring account in his Pacific Crest 1999 Journal .

Gear List

North Face 20 degree sleeping bag....2 pounds
z rest, cut to 36".....8 ounces
closed cell pad 48 "........7 ounces
single wall one person tent, with stakes....1 pounds 7 ounces
external pack(frame only)...1 pound 14 ounces
stuff sacks/cinch straps....6 ounces
packcover.....2 ounces

At end of trail the sleeping bag was still with me, although I had Rain bring out my fleece liner. My bag just wasn't doing the job, and the additional 10 ounces were worth it. I ditched the z rest which had been abused to near uselessness. I sent the Cherokee tent home because I now shared a Coleman Cobra tent with Rain. It weighs 3lbs 10 oz. which we split. I swapped out my packless frame system for a Nike day-and-a-half pack, made modifications and now it weighs 21 ounces. I then only needed two silnylon stuff sacks, for two ounces. The packcover has made the entire trail now. It is still good enough for another couple thousand miles.


1 pair 100% nylon socks, fleece socks, undergarments, nylon scarf...6 ounces
100% silk long sleeve shirt, silk bottoms..5 ounces,
100% silk long sleeved buttoned shirt...3 ounces
expedition weight thermax top and midweight bottoms....15 ounces
knit stretch gloves,fleece mittens, balaclava,...4 ounces.
silnylon rain jacket, silnylon rain pants, mosquito head net...7 ounces

In this category, the climate changed to a rainy, cold one much of the time. I ended up with one pair of smart wool socks to sleep in, kept the silk set of long underwear and expedition set of long underwear. I ditched the buttoned silk shirt in exchange for a fleece turtle neck and light bottoms to sleep in. No fleece mittens, but some thinsulate gloves. All this extra clothing increased my pack weight by over a pound and a half, but many cold days hiking and rainy nights sleeping I was thankful for every last stitch.

Kept the silnylon rain clothes and head net to the end. Surprisingly, I needed the head net even into September.


100%nylon shorts, nylon socks, sports top....7 ounces
Broad brimmed felt hat....2 ounces

trailrunners....24 ounces

I wore the same pair of shorts the entire trip, as well as my sports top. I changed to smart wool socks and also did need to get new shoes in Mohave, they were high tops, which finished out the last 1400 miles.

Leki poles with snow baskets.....18 ounces
Grivel Mont Blanc ice ax(bounce box).....18 ounces

Sent the ice ax home, as well as the snow baskets at Echo Lake.

photon light, spring loaded utility knife, micro can opener, with safety cord, whistle...2 ounces
camp towel...3 ounces

Kept these, cut the camp towel down, and used it as a bandana as well. Ditched the regular bandana.

Cooking system

pot with lid, windscreen, 20 hexamine tablets...10 ounces
matches, peanut butter jar, spoon, ...2 ounces
Two 1.5 liter water bottles, two 1 liter bottles....7 ounces
testing Tincan Man's beer can stove...half an ounce

Kept the pot, windscreen, spoon. Downsized the peanut butter jar from an 18 oz to a 12 oz capacity. Only needed two 1.5 liter bottles in Oregon and Washington. Used my esbit stove after much experimentation.

Murphy Bag...
electical tape (wound around water bottles)...
needle and thread
clevis pin
safety pins

No longer needed clevis pin and wire for pack repair.

Personal Hygiene Kit

toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, cotton balls and q-tips, rubbing alcohol, vaseline, tweezers, razor, mirror, comb, in a mesh ditty bag....8 ounces

First Aid, Chemicals Kit...

Immodium, vitamin I, multi vitamins...
neosporin(anitbacterial rub)...
mole skin

Got rid of the mole skin, used up the Neosporin and didn't bother to replenish, ate up all the vitamins and figured they weighed too much to bother with.

Fanny Pack,...(1/2 ounce)

disposible camera, maps, compass....

sunscreen, insect repellant, lip balm, ....

Fanny pack was replaced with a tiny ditty bag hung from the hip belt. It carried my camera, sunscreen, DEET and lip balm. Current maps went in my shorts pocket. Future maps kept with journal. Burned old maps daily as part of fuel. journal, pen, "office"...

I took the original outfit to the post office. The lady set it on her scale and it weighed 12 pounds 15.5 ounces. This was without the hiking poles, my shoes or ice ax.

I really don't know what my final base weight was. I know I am heavy on clothes and sleeping system, but had to work with it for personal needs.

Bounce Box

contents to be mailed and added / subtracted from on a regular basis,
including: trail guide data sheets for upcoming sections, spare socks, spare gloves, spare sunglasses, extra sunscreen, lipbalm, liquid bug repellant, petroleum jelly, liquid soap, vitamins, immodium, ibuprofen, instant coffee, pot scrubbers, gallon ziploc bags, aluminum foil for backup windscreen, razors, 4 ounces laundry soap, stamps, envelopes, paper, toilet paper, cotton balls, ice axe, postal wrapping tape,

One may walk alone emotionally, in spite of being surrounded by people every minute of their lives. I will walk alone for over 1013 miles this spring, but in my heart and soul comes the spirit of Rainmaker. Though thousands of miles may seperate us physically,
I do not feel that I am alone.