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My 1999 PCT Journal
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Mexican Border - Sonora Pass
A Hike Of 1,015 Miles
April 26 - July 30
--By David Mauldin
I returned home August 12, 1999 after hiking a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. I began my hike at the Mexican border and hiked 1,015 miles to Sonora Pass in California. I had to leave the trail earlier than expected because of problems with my back, but I am looking forward to returning to the PCT in 2000 and 2001. I have about 1,600 miles left to hike, and I plan to hike 800 miles each during the next 2 summers. In hiking the PCT in 1999, I also completed the John Muir Trail, climbing 14,500 ft. Mt. Whitney on June 30 and finishing at Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park on July 22. I also completed the 700 mile desert portion of the PCT, which starts at the Mexican border and ends (depending on your point of view) at Kennedy Meadows. My own "Thousand Mile Summer" was an incredible adventure. Thanks to everyone who supported me with prayers, healing ceremonies, spiritual requests, CARE packages, letters, cards and positive thoughts. They meant a lot, and some days, they were all that kept me going.
Apr 26 - May 2
"I'm a leavin' on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again. Oh, babe, I hate to go." -- From the song, "Leaving On A Jet Plane", written by John Denver.
Apr 26 - Spent last night in an over-priced hotel in downtown San Diego. I'm not accustomed to being in large cities (or small ones, either) and I'm anxious to leave for the trail. How do people live in places like this? I don't think that they really "live". Exist is more like it. Arrived in Campo about 5:00 p.m. after riding a trolley to El Cajon Transit Center, and taking a rural bus the rest of the way. Its not quite as bleak here as I expected. Its quite pretty, actually. Timbo and I walked down to the border, and encountered several officers of the Border Patrol along the way. We were given dire warnings about not remaining at the border after dark, even heard a horror story about an armed Mexican bandit robbing the illegal aliens on the Mexican side of the border. We took lots of pictures. It was quite a thrill seeing the monument (that marks the southern terminus of the PCT) loom up out of the desert as we topped a small hill. I've waited for this a long, long time! But, its more than a little scary being here. I feel like an alien myself. But we made it back to Hwy. 94 (where the bus had dropped us off previously), and camped on a small knoll just across the street from the store.
Apr 27 - Six armed Border Patrolmen entered our camp just before dark last night. Someone saw Timbo and me leave the store with an abundance of water bottles, and called the Border Patrol. Apparently, everyone involved thought that we had been talked into getting a supply of water (from the store) for some illegal Mexican aliens. When the officers converged on our camp from all sides with their hands on their holstered weapons, I put my hands above my head in mock surrender, smiled as best I could, and said, "We speak English, and we surrender!". After the officers saw that there were no "illegals" around, everyone relaxed, and we all had a nice chat. It was as close as I've ever come to having a SWAT Team called out in my honor. I awoke this morning to frost on my tent. I'm not really surprised, I've been following the weather around here via my PC and the Weather Channel, and its been cooler than normal. We are anxious to get as far from the border as quickly as we can. About a mile north of Hwy. 94, Timbo stopped abruptly and I almost walked into him. Before I could ask what was wrong, I heard and saw one of the largest and angriest rattlesnakes ever, just a foot or so off the trail. It was coiled and ready to strike, and Timbo had almost walked right into it. Before the day was over, we would have 2 more such encounters. We hiked about 16 miles to Hauser Creek and camped. The scenery is very nice; not at all what I expected. Its not real hot, either, maybe 90 degrees during the heat of the day, but better than the 100 or 105 degrees I was expecting. The mountains here are low and brush covered. The brush is called "chapparal".
Apr 28 - About midnight last night, 3 or 4 Border Patrol vehicles roared past us on the dirt road, about 20 feet from our tents. Things got real quiet, and then a group of about 30 illegal aliens ran past us on the road going in the opposite direction. A few minutes later, there was another group, then another. They were in too much of a hurry to bother us, and I'm not even sure that they noticed our tents. But, it was exciting, to say the least. This is a strange place. Today, hiked about 10 miles to Boulder Oaks Campground after stopping off at the Lake Morena malt shop. Its very cold and windy; I was in my tent by 6:00 p.m.
Apr 29 - Spent a very wet and stormy night in my tent. So much for the advice of several friends who said, "It never rains in southern California, so you'll have to change your trailname from Rainmaker". Ha! I've been here only a few days, and its raining already. Actually, its sleeting and blowing small amounts of snow. What the heck is going on?? Hiked 16 miles in sub-freezing temperatures to Mt. Laguna, where there is a motel, store and P.O. There are also about 3 inches of snow on the ground at this elevation (6,000 ft.). I was almost hypothermic when I arrived. Timbo and I got a motel room for only $30. The owners gave us quite a discount because we are PCT hikers. At least the weather kept the rattlesnakes in their holes today.
Apr 30 - Spent a very restful night in the motel room, but it took quite a while to get warm. With the cheap room rate of $15 apiece, and the worsening weather conditions, we decided to stay another day. More snow fell during the day, and the temperature didn't get much above freezing.
May 1 - Left Mt. Laguna in warming temperatures, and beautiful sunshine. Hiked about 15 miles past Garnett Peak. Scenery just north of Pioneer Mail Picnic Area is among the best I've ever seen. Now camped in the middle of the trail about 6 miles north of Chariot Canyon, because no other campsites are available. Its very windy, making it almost impossible to cook with my Esbit stove. Finally took my stove inside my tent long enough to light the fuel tablet, then brought it back outside.
May 2 - May 9
"David Mauldin is crazy, and if you are thinking about hiking that trail after reading his journal, you are as crazy as he is!" -- Comment made by Joyce Andresen to her husband Andy after they read my AT journal. Joyce and Andy are my friends, and fellow Georgia Appalachian Trail Club members (issue of sanity aside, Andy thru-hiked the AT in 1998).
May 2 - Hiked another 15 or 16 miles to a point about 3 miles south of Scissors Crossing. Now camped in the floor of the desert, and it is beautiful. So many new plants and scents. Have met a few other hikers, but not many. This certainly isn't the AT. And its not Georgia, either.
May 3 - Awoke to clouds, cold and more very high winds. Hiked to Scissors Crossing, got chilled waiting for the bus to take us to Julian to resupply, and was cold all day. Waiting for the bus in Julian to take us back to Scissors Crossing was about the coldest I can ever remember being. Now near hypothermia in my tent. Left ankle is hurting, and I have a half-dollar size blister on the bottom of my right foot. Wind is unrelenting and is threatening to destroy my tent. This is awful; having second thoughts about all this.
May 4 - Left Scissors Crossing in high winds after a brush with hypothermia last night. And I'm still not real warm. Hiked 12 miles to a water cache left by the Pacific Crest Trail Association and The Sierra Club. Now camped alone in the high desert. Timbo went ahead, and I probably won't see him again. Left ankle is painful, and the large blister on my right foot is threatening to put me off the trail. Can't walk without limping. Not sure that I can hike tomorrow. This is beautiful and awesome, but very painful, difficult and at times, terribly frustrating.
May 5 - Finished with the San Felipe hills, and hiked 14 very painful miles in the process. First mile of hiking after leaving Barrel Spring was probably the most painful hiking that I've ever done; blister on bottom of right foot has been a nightmare. Now camped in desert chapparal, surrounded by mountains. Will lose toe nails, on big toe and second toe of left foot, probably only the first 2 of many to follow. End of the first 100 miles. The PCT has kicked my butt so far.
May 6 - Best day of hike to date. Hiked 5 miles to Warner Springs (a town), and was invited into the home of Joseph Dordahl for a shower, laundry and lunch. He is a veteran of WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam and he is one of the kindest persons I have ever met. This trail magic was briefly interrupted by 10 minutes of sheer panic when I realized that I had left my hiking poles at the gas station where Joe picked me up. He drove me back to town and they were still there, exactly where I had left them. Later, hiked 5 more miles to Caliente Creek. Have a beautiful camp about 50 feet off the trail, directly on the creek, among blooming wild flowers.
May 7 - Tom With The Cell Phone (a fellow PCT hiker) told me this morning that Timbo had gone home from Warner Springs. I feel badly for him, and was very surprised. Hiked about 14 miles to Comb's Peak. Its beautiful. Blister on bottom of right foot is better, but it's still raw and burns badly when I put iodine on it. Have 2 new blisters on toes of right foot, but don't believe that they will amount to much, unless they get infected. I know it was difficult for Timbo to leave all this beauty and go home, especially after he quit his job to come here.
May 8 - Had an encounter with a scorpion and a sidewinder rattlesnake, all before lunch. Welcome to the desert. The scorpion was just hanging out on my therma-rest with me while I was sitting on it having breakfast. The snake was almost directly in the middle of the trail, and was the color of desert rocks and sand. They can't be seen until they rattle, their camo is too good. Hiked about 15 miles, don't know where I am. Climb from Nance Creek provided some of the most beautiful scenery and exciting terrain (one slip and its all over) I've ever encountered. Put my pack down in a bed of ants when I made camp, and they covered it in less than three minutes. I'm learning the ways of the desert, often times the hard way. Got water from the tank at Tule Canyon. Blisters on right foot are worse, getting new ones each day. The ground is hot enough to "cook" the skin on my feet, and that is exactly what is happening. My shoes are actually very comfortable and not causing any problems.
May 9 - Foot pain was severe today and I had very little stamina. Hiked only 12 miles and camped near Penrod Canyon. Enjoyed hiking through the canyon, it was almost a spiritual experience. I expect that the place was sacred to the Native Americans, and that is what I was picking up on. Have never seen such large, colorful and beautiful rocks. Grizzly and Yum, former AT thru-hikers, and present PCT hikers, left water for me at Highway 94, saving me a two mile round-trip walk on hot asphalt to a restaurant to get water.
May 10 - May 16
"I had a big advantage over my fellow hikers. I never liked hiking and backpacking to begin with." -- Comment made by Bill Irwin during his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (Bill is the only blind person to ever hike the AT.)
May 10 - Entered the high country of the San Jacinto Mountains and went above 7,000 feet. Basically, climbed all day. Underestimated the mileage I had done, thought I was finished for the day, but still had 3 miles, and a thousand foot climb, to get to water and a campsite at Apache Spring. I was tired, cold, thirsty and hungry, but it didn't matter, it (the other 3 miles) had to be done. Blister pain better. Scenery is beyond belief. What a view from my campsite; basically I'm camped on an overlook, looking down into the desert several thousand feet below me.
May 11 - Kept climbing and went above 8,000 feet. Keeping an eye on my barometer, would hate to get caught up here in a storm. My keen sense of observation has told me that there are no motels to duck into. Scenery continues to improve. How much better can it get? Now camped on Devil's Slide Trail near the town of Idyllwild. Out of food, and blisters seem worse. Will take a few days off. What a view from campsite, a mountain that looks like Half-Dome in Yosemite.
May 12 - Awoke to a beautiful view of Tahquitz Mountain, the Half-Dome look-alike that completely fills the view from my tent door. Concerning views and natural beauty, everyday on the PCT is like the best 2 or 3 days on the entire AT. Its hard to describe. Water has been very scarce at times; waterless stretches of 15 - 20 miles are normal. I've found that I can get by with one quart of water for each 4 or 5 miles, so a 20 mile stretch with no water sources means carrying 4 quarts of water, which adds 8 pounds of pack weight. A week's worth of food also adds about 15 pounds. A coyote walked close to my camp while I was having breakfast, but didn't see me. While he was walking away, I made a high-pitched squealing noise, trying to mimic the sound of a rabbit in distress. The coyote came back to investigate, but when he recognized me as human, he gave me a look that said something like, "Look, I'm hungry, and I'm looking for something to eat, why don't you get a life???" He then walked off in disgust. I couldn't help but laugh. I then packed up and walked a long 2 miles into the town of Idyllwild. Paid $ 50 for a motel room ( no discounts for PCT hikers here), then did town things. This is a nice little town. My feet are in very bad shape.
May 13 - Got a ride from Dave, a PCT trail maintainer, out of Idyllwild and back to Devil's Slide trailhead. Hiked 2 miles back to PCT, then about 6 more miles to Deer Springs. Now camped alone high in the San Jacinto Wilderness, elevation 9,000 feet. Have a beautiful spot in a grove of giant pines and spruce; my silent but friendly companions for the night. This is one of the most beautiful campsites so far. No one ever had a more beautiful day of hiking than I had today; its good to be here. Wild and free.
May 14 - A very difficult and frustrating day, but beautiful, anyway. Took a wrong turn 1/4 mile after leaving camp. Found myself, after 1 1/2 hours, at an elevation of 9,700 feet and not far from the summit of Mt. San Jacinto. At 10:30 a.m., I was back where I started. Hiked about 15 miles, net 12, to a point close to San Gorgonio Pass. I'm out of the high country, back in the desert; hiked 11 hours. This morning, my fingers were numb while I was getting water from Deer Springs. Now, its close to 95 degrees. Welcome to the PCT.
May 15 - Surprised that I still have a tent, after the high winds last night. My little Eureka Gossamer stood up to gusts that were at least 40 mph., and seems to be no worse for it. Hiked down to San Gorgonio Pass, an elevation loss of about 8,000 ft. since my misadventure yesterday on Mt. San Jacinto. Found the Middleton's "cabin" (dubbed "The Pink Palace" by previous PCT hikers) just north of the pass. It’s a free "hostel" maintained by Don and Helen Middleton. Lots of other PCT hikers are here, and it was great being inside, out of the wind and with other hikers. We had a fire in the fireplace, hot food, music and unlimited coffee. There was lots of laughter and story telling, everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. I know I did. The hike across San Gorgonio pass today was eerie and surreal. The sun was setting, and the sky was a very strange shade of bright pink. There are windmills all over the place (called "wind turbines" by the power company that operates them), and the wind was blowing about 50 mph. It was a 2 mile "sand slog" across the pass to the Middleton's, and hikers have to cross under railroad tracks and a very busy Interstate highway. It was like being in the scene of some sci-fi movie. I'll never forget it.
May 16 - Took the day off, and stayed at The Pink Palace. Don Middleton took Scott, Blake and me to Cabazon and Beaumont for lunch and shopping. Wind has died down a little, but it is still howling. Feet are better, but I keep getting small blisters on right foot. This was a needed and greatly enjoyed day of rest, but I'm looking forward to getting back on the trail.
May 17 - May 23
"You either get strong, or go home, the desert sees to that." - -From the book "Journey On The Crest", by Cindy Ross.
May 17 - I have now spent 3 weeks on the PCT. It has become my life, but it has not yet become my home. Got an early start from the Middleton's and hiked past the Mesa Wind Farm where there are literally hundreds of wind turbines (windmills). They are so out of place in the desert that I can't help but stare at them, even though they just sit there and nothing happens except that the blades go round and round. Somehow, though, its almost mesmerizing, so is the "whoop, whoop, whoop" sound that they make. I suppose its because nothing else in the desert moves. Soon after leaving the wind farm, I was back in the desert hills. Hiked about 14 miles and camped near Mission Creek. Weather has turned warmer, the thermometer on my watch read 96 degrees at one point. This was a solitary and beautiful day of hiking. At one point, reached the top of a canyon rim and could see for at least 40 miles in all directions. It was just me, the mountains and the desert. There was nothing else.
May 18 - Began my day in desert chapparal and cactus at an elevation of about 3,000 feet. Thirteen miles, one rattlesnake encounter and a 5,000 foot climb later, ended my day in a fir and pine forest in the mountains, at an elevation of 8,000 feet. In other words, just another day on the PCT. It has taken 230 miles and almost a month of hiking, but I now feel comfortable and confident hiking alone in the desert.
May 19 - My day started in freezing mountain temperatures. While I was packing up, the apple I've been saving for several days rolled off the top of the hill I was camped on. It rolled for quite a long time. As far as I know, its still going, perhaps on its way to the Mexican border. Talked with a car camper at Coon Creek Road; the first question he asked me was, "Would you like an apple?" What trail magic! He also gave me 4 quarts of much needed water. Lost the trail a few times in the afternoon. Camped near Onyx Summit at an elevation of 8,600 feet. Kind of hurt all over, though feet are a little better. However, they look awful. There is no such thing as a "normal" day on the PCT. Its either blazing hot, freezing cold, a 50 mph wind, a snowstorm, no water, a 5,000 foot ascent, a 7,000 foot descent, rattlesnakes blocking my path or I can't find the trail. This is far removed from the kinder, gentler shelter-to-shelter hiking on the AT. I'm starting to think of it as "crisis management hiking".
May 20 - Hiked to the fire station in Big Bear City. The Fire Department really takes care of hikers; showers, bathrooms, tables and chairs, and a grassy area for camping. There are lots of other PCT hikers here, including an Englishman, an Australian, and 3 from Norway. Will spend 2 nights in Big Bear City. Intend to go to Motel 6 tomorrow.
May 21 - Had several CARE packages and letters waiting at the P.O. It was all greatly appreciated and much needed. Its nice to know that I haven't been forgotten out here. Won't have to buy much food for the next leg to Wrightwood. Packed up and moved to the Motel 6. Margo and Jason are also here, and we plan to leave together tomorrow. It will be nice to be hiking with others again.
May 22 - Packed up and left about 11:00 a.m. Hiked 4 miles back to the PCT, then hiked about 7 more miles. Now camped on a beautiful overlook with Margo and Jason. Felt good today, lots of stamina and not a whole lot of foot pain. Too much town time can definitely be demoralizing; its good to be back in the wilderness. Hiked above Big Bear Lake; a beautiful day with great scenery.
May 23 - Hiked about 14 miles to Holcomb Bridge, now camped on a beautiful little beach on Holcomb Creek with Margo and Jason. In Georgia, this "creek" would be called a river. It felt wonderful to cool off my feet in the water. Now at a much lower elevation, about 4,500 feet. What a beautiful campsite; it will be difficult to leave here tomorrow. There is unlimited water and shade, a rare combination on the desert portion of the PCT.
May 24 - May 30
"There are no winners. There is only time and space on the planet; we're all just killing time to stay alive." -- Jack Fair (Jack is an elderly, eccentric desert recluse who provides PCT hikers with welcome shade, water and hospitality.)
May 24 - Hiked about 14 miles to Mojave Dam, and camped just below it. Stopped for lunch at Deep Creek Hot Springs, a "clothing optional" place of immense natural beauty, peace and tranquility. It was a bit odd to see both male and female bathers walking around the area without clothes. California is a different kind of place. I'll bet this hot spring was really one swinging place back in the 60's. You know you've had a great lunch stop when you consider rearranging your life so that you don't have to leave. The hot water felt so good, and the scenery wasn't bad, either. This landscape is really surreal; sometimes I just stop and look around for a few minutes. Its mostly barren rock and mountains in the vicinity of Mojave Dam, with a creek and strip of greenery. The dam is still under construction, and it has the look of pork barrel politics. There is this massive mile-long dam in the middle of the desert, designed to impound the water from 2 small creeks.
May 25 - Hiked about 15 miles to Arrowhead State Park, where sprinklers came on and thoroughly doused our campsite. Earlier, Margo, Jason and I stopped at Summit Valley Store for snacks and shade. Foot pain mostly gone. Margo and I took a dip in Arrowhead Lake, the water was cold, but invigorating. We let the sun dry us while we sat on a secluded little beach and felt sorry for the rest of the world.
May 26 - Hiked to El Cajon pass, where there is a McDonald's. I Had been looking forward to a strawberry milkshake all day, but to my dismay (this is putting it mildly!), the ice cream machine was out of order, and I had to settle for a Coke. Margo, Jason and I got a motel room, but Margo later found a ride and will skip a few days ahead because of foot pain and needing to get to a post office. Jason and I will meet her in Wrightwood when we get off the trail to resupply. It feels so good to be clean and to be out of the sun, and to sleep in a real bed. The hot showers weren't bad, either.
May 27 - Hiked about 14 miles, and gained about 3,000 ft. in elevation. It was very hot today, about 100 degrees. I drank over a gallon of water. My body seemed to be telling me on several occasions, "Would you like to take a break now, or hike another 100 steps and pass out?" Lost 2 toe nails, and will soon lose a few more.
May 28 - Jason and I both slept about 12 hours last night. We were both exhausted, and partially dehydrated. We stopped for lunch at Guffy Campground, where there is a great spring. Jason drank too much water too quickly and became sick. Later, he made coffee for both of us using his gas stove. After a long lunch break, hiked 8 miles to Hwy. 52 and hitched into Wrightwood. We found Margo at the Pines Motel, and the 3 of us are sharing a room.
May 29 - Spent a quiet rest day in Wrightwood. It’s a nice hiker town, except there is no laundromat. Motel room is small and cramped; I'd be looking forward to getting back on the trail and climbing Mt. Baden-Powell, except for all the food and water I'll be carrying when I leave here.
May 30 - Hitched back to the trail at Inspiration Point, then made a 3,000 ft. climb to the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell. The scenery, and the experience, were awesome. Hiked 14 miles to Little Jimmy Campground. Being from Georgia, I can't help but wonder if there's not a Miss Lillian Campground around here somewhere. It will be very cold tonight, and I will be at my comfort limit (or a little beyond it). It reminds me of a saying we have on the AT. "If it’s a cold night, and you don't have to put on everything that you brought, you brought too much". I definitely haven't brought too much. I'm one of the few hikers out here without a Polar-Tec jacket. Instead, I opted for an expedition weight Thermax top.
May 31 - June 6
"A difficult journey cleanses the soul. The more difficult the journey, the more thorough the cleansing." - - Ancient Tibetan proverb
May 31 - Beautiful, but short day. Got a late start and stopped at Cooper Canyon Campground after only 12 miles. The long descent from the San Gabriel Mountains to the floor of the Mojave Desert seems to have begun. The floor of the Mojave is ominous, I have seen it from the high peaks the last few days. It is getting closer, and looms larger and flatter each time I see it. Appears I will hike it alone, Margo and Jason want no part of it, and plan to skip the entire section. This is a beautiful and remote campground with tables, water, fire grates and apparently no road access. Many large trees today, some were the size of redwoods. The Mojave portion of the desert is an intimidating place, but I'm as ready as I'm going to get. And its "only" 125 miles. Bring it on.
Jun 1 - The descent into the Mojave is temporarily on hold; trail has returned to the high desert. Have a beautiful campsite that someone, probably PCT volunteers, have dug right out of the side of the mountain. I'm here with Margo and Jason, and the campsite is scarcely large enough for our 3 tents. There is a beautiful view of the valley below, and mountains in the distance. Its very cool, cloudy and windy, and it will probably rain soon. I'm no longer exhausted at the end of each day. Arrived in camp at 3:30 p.m. after hiking 14 miles. Tim came in just before dark, and he camped below us near the trail.
Jun 2 - It rained all night. And right on the very edge of the Mojave Desert, too. Rainmaker strikes again!!! Later, the weather turned very bad, with snow above 7,000 ft. and lots of wind; some gusts were over 40 mph. Did my first 20 mile day on the PCT in order to get to Messenger Flats Campground, where there were not only campsites, but water as well. Expected Margo, Jason and Tim, but they aren't here. Where the heck are they? English John is here, but he is about as close to hypothermia as I am, and I'm not sure he even recognized me. All my gear is soaked, and the temperature inside my tent is 36 degrees and dropping. Me, my clothing and my gear are all at our limits. I'll sleep a little cold tonight, but I have plenty of food and my clothing and sleeping bag will keep me warm even if they are wet. I will be okay, if a little uncomfortable, unless the storm knocks down my tent.
Jun 3 - Last night was kind of "bleak", to say the least. It reminded me of New Hampshire in late September. Hiked to a ranger station and stopped to get water. The caretaker took one look at me, and asked me to come inside and get a hot shower and something hot to drink. I readily accepted. I probably won't leave until the coffee runs out. Margo, Jason and Tim showed up later. They had received some Trail Magic, and spent the night at a minimum security prison, guests of one of the Administrators. Frankly, I'm glad I was in my tent up at Messenger Flats! Later, hiked 9 miles to a commercial RV campground. Tim ordered pizza for us, and we all pigged out in our tents in the rain. Its also cold, and I'm having a tough time dealing with 3 wet and cold nights in a row. Actually, I'm very tired of it. This is June in the Mojave????
Jun 4 - Left the RV park in cool, but clearing, weather. Hiked 10 miles to Agua Dulce (a town). Helped some PCTA members put up a canopy for tomorrow's Trail Day's festivities. Hiked through the Vasquez Rocks, named for a famous outlaw who used them as a hideout in the wild west days. The area is now a state park. Jeff and Donna Saufley operate a free hiker hostel, and Donna picked us up at the grocery store and took us to the hostel, which is a large mobile home located adjacent to the main house. Its very nice, I have never stayed in a hiker hostel where the needs of hikers have been so well anticipated. Donna Saufley is quite a Trail Angel, I've never met one quite like her. It appears that taking care of PCT hikers is one of the most important things in her life; such enthusiasm, kindness and generosity! She even allowed me to use her PC to pick up my e-mail; then left to go into town while I was using the computer, leaving me all alone in her unlocked home. Many other hikers are at the hostel; no one wants to leave here, especially with the Mojave section of the PCT just ahead.
Jun 5 - Spent a mostly quiet and restful day at the Saufley hostel in Agua Dulce. Enjoyed meeting all the PCTA people who are here for Trail Days (and the festivities and free food). However, as usual, its about time to get back on the trail. I won't be doing the Mojave section alone, Tim and I will be hiking together. Margo and Jason still plan to skip it, and I don't blame them.
Jun 6 - Regretfully and reluctantly left the Saufley's and hiked into the desert with a week's worth of food and 5 quarts of water. Donna Saufley took my picture as I was leaving. She also told me that if I was ever out this way again, that their door was always open to me. I wasn't expecting that, and it gave me a brief lump in my throat. We shared a quick hug, and I was on my way. With about 17 pounds of food and 10 pounds of water, my pack weighs close to 50 pounds, and its very close to being too much for my already badly aching lower back. Tim and I are getting along well, but he's bummed out about his pack weight, too. Hiked about 10 miles and made a dry camp in the desert.
June 7 - June 13
"The weakest among us can be some kind of athlete, but only the strongest can survive as spectators." - - Dr. George Sheehan, "The Running Cardiologist"
Jun 7 - Hiked 13 miles to Francisquido Road (not sure about the spelling) and camped, got water from less than friendly ranger station. They wouldn't even let us inside, had to use a jug outside. This was a public building operated by the U.S. government, and I don't believe that they had the legal right to deny us admission, but I didn't push it. All we wanted was water, anyway. Weather kind of cool. Scenery is actually very nice for this section, mostly low, green, brush covered mountains. Expect this to change soon. Feel better today, pack seems not as heavy. Back was very bad yesterday, surprised it held up.
Jun 8 - Hiked 15 miles to Upper Shake Canyon. Margo, Jason, Veronica and Katherine met Tim and me at Elizabeth Canyon for lunch (there is a road, and Margo has a rental car). Margo has taken on the role of Trail Angel, leaving water and snacks and visiting hikers at various locations. It is appreciated greatly. Weather surprisingly cool for the Mojave, and its real pretty out here, too. However, the worst part of the desert is clearly visible a few miles to the east. Had rattlesnake encounter number 7, a very deadly Mojave Green. The guidebook says that it is one of the deadliest snakes in the world. Bite victims have only about 4 hours to receive anti-venom, or they die.
Jun 9 - Hiked 17 miles to water at Pine Canyon Creek. Hiked through the beautiful Pelona Highlands before dropping down into the canyon. Now camped illegally on the private property of the massive Tejon Ranch. According to the guidebook, employees of the ranch, in years past, have shot at PCT hikers who strayed off the trail. Hopefully, this is a kinder and gentler era. However, there are no other places to camp. Eclipsed 500 miles of trail today. Bugs are getting very bad.
Jun 10 - Hiked about 15 miles and camped near Oak Creek Canyon. As far as I can tell, Tim and I are camped squarely in the middle of the Mojave Desert. We found a hole in the Los Angeles Aquaduct and he siphoned several quarts of water for us using his water filter. Earlier, stopped by the home of Jack Fair and he provided us with shade and water, and invited us in for a while. He is a very entertaining character with a colorful past. However, he has the look of having been alone out in the desert too long.
June 11 - Finished my 35 mile walk across the floor of the Mojave and entered the Tehachapi Mountains. At one point, was carrying 6 quarts of water and making a 2,000 foot ascent right into a 50 mph wind. This is one of the hardest days since leaving the Mexican border. Hiked about 17 miles to Tylerhorse Canyon. Had an encounter with rattlesnake #8 while making my descent. It was coiled at the edge of the trail and stood its ground. I was tempted to give it a good whack with one of my hiking poles, but I got off the trail and detoured around it. I don't mind the ones that rattle. After all, they live here. Its their home; I'm just a visitor.
Jun 12 - Running very low on food, but will make it to my next resupply point, I think. Hiked about 16 miles to a point about 3 miles north of Hwy. 58, where Margo is to pick up Tim and me tomorrow morning and take us to Tehachapi . Hiked within sight of wind turbines all day, and I'm sick of looking at them. Looking forward to Tehachapi tomorrow. Very dirty, but feel pretty good. There has been no extra water for bathing, and not even for brushing my teeth. Camped about 100 yards below 10 giant wind turbines. Will listen to their "whoop, whoop, whoop" noise all night, I suppose.
Jun 13 - Descended 3 miles to Tehachapi Pass at Hwy. 58. Margo was delayed, and was just late enough to make it interesting. It was very good to see her when she arrived! Tim and I were completely out of water, and it was about 100 degrees. The highway is a divided 4-lane, and hitch hiking would have been out of the question. Jason, Veronica, Jim and I split the cost of a $70 room at the Best Western motel. Spent LOTS of time in the motel hot tub and pool and got several showers. It will be difficult leaving this place. There's also a restaurant next door. Margo is shuttling everyone around in her rental car, and it is greatly appreciated. Tim is getting off the trail here, and skipping the next section. However, Jason has decided to hike from here to Kennedy Meadows, so I won't be hiking alone. At Hwy. 58, the guidebook says welcome to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Wow. Have been living in the desert almost 2 months. Won't get nostalgic just yet, the desert goes on for a while. I have arrived in the Sierra only in the geologic sense.
June 14 - June 20
"It is better to be alive and parasitic, than dead and self-reliant." - - Tim's comment to me when I initially declined his offer of water he pilfered from the Los Angeles Aquaduct.
June 14 - Was pleasantly surprised by the amount of mail and CARE packages that were waiting for me at the post office in Tehachapi. It was all greatly appreciated. Really enjoying the hot tub and pool at the motel, as well as the restaurant next door. I have a rather straggly looking beard and long hair, and I'm walking around town in my lycra biking shorts and a t-shirt while wearing my waist pack. In Georgia, I would attract some attention, but here in California, I don't even rate a second glance.
Jun 15 - Jason and I got a ride from a local, Terry Larson, who shuttles PCT hikers back to the trail for free. When we began hiking at Tehachapi Pass, the temperature was 105 degrees, I was carrying 6 quarts of water, a week's worth of food, and we were making a 2,000 ft. ascent. Jason, who has been off the trail for a while, almost passed out. Thankfully, after we ascended to about 6,000 ft., there was a nice breeze and the temperature "cooled off" to about 90 degrees. Made a dry camp in the high desert. This was a very rough day, Jason appears to be in bad shape.
Jun 16 - When Jason was getting out of his tent last night to relieve himself, he fell onto the tent, and broke the front hoop and ripped the fabric. I loaned him my tent pole repair sleeve so that he can continue to use his tent. My pack is very heavy; again had to carry 6 quarts of water, from Golden Oaks Spring, because of having to make another dry camp in the middle of another 25 mile waterless stretch. My back is really at its limit, surprised that it is holding up.
Jun 17 - Trail is slowly going into the mountains, and away from the desert. There are trees again. Thought today, while in the Piute Mountains, that for short periods of time the PCT almost resembled a normal recreational hiking trail, where families might come for a week-end hike. There was even some shade, plentiful water and camping. However, I have enough PCT experience now to know that it won't last. Hiked 16 miles to Landers Camp. No dry camp tonight; have unlimited water.
Jun 18 - Another very rough day. Back in the desert big time, but scenery rugged and beautiful, with high desert mountains and valleys that seem to go on forever. Have a very nice campsite in some large boulders at an overlook. View across the desert floor is awesome; mountains to my left and right, and the floor of the desert in the middle. Have 3 deep puncture wounds on right hand after having a collision with the cactus-like spines of a Joshua tree. One of the spines nicked the vein in my hand that is located near the base of the thumb, and there was a lot of bleeding. My hand is painful and swollen, but it still works. Jason is road walking this section, and he is missing some grand scenery. I expect he will get off the trail soon. Hiked about 17 miles with temperatures hovering around 100 degrees. Camped just north of abandoned Danny Boy Goldmine. The guidebook says that it was a working mine for almost 70 years.
Jun 19 - Had another encounter with a Joshua tree, this one resulted in 3 more puncture wounds on my buttocks after I backed into it trying to find some shade. These things are dangerous! They ought to put warning labels on them! Seriously, I have no one to blame for my carelessness but myself. However, I'm starting to resemble a pin cushion. Another lesson from the desert, I suppose. Ascended to about 7,000 ft. Getting very tired of having to make 2,000 and 3,000 ft. ascents with 5 - 6 quarts of water. I'm anxious to get into the Sierra Nevada mountains. I'll still have to make the ascents, but won't have to carry so much water. Hiked about 15 miles, and into the Kiavah Wilderness. Camped in a rocky meadow full of many different species of blooming wildflowers. Jason went on to McGyver Cabin, where there is a spring.
Jun 20 - Hiked to McGyver Cabin and found Jason. He said that he had seen a bear about 100 feet in front of the cabin last night. After that, he changed his plans concerning sleeping on the front porch, and went inside. The cabin is used mainly by hunters and PCT hikers, and has the look and feel of an AT shelter, except that it is fully enclosed. There was a large pot, we wanted some coffee and Jason offered his stove. So, I made coffee cowboy-style before we returned to the trail. Later, hiked to Walker Pass, where Jason and I met Florian, a young woman from Australia who is thru-hiking. The 3 of us hitch-hiked to the KOA Campground about 25 miles away, located near Lake Isabella. There's a pool! After many dips, snacks and hot showers, we received a ride from one of the RV'ers to a restaurant several miles away. The RV seemed a bit "rough", and Jason asked the owner how much he had paid for it. His reply was, "It was free". I couldn't help but laugh, but the owner didn't seem to mind. After our restaurant meal, we were hitch-hiking back to the KOA, and a woman in her mid-60's driving a small pick-up truck recognized Jason and gave us a ride. Jason said he had met her a few days before in the desert, when she was riding her dirt bike and delivering jugs of water to the trail for PCT hikers. I have found that the desert is full of colorful characters. Desert dwellers are a bit off center from mainstream America, and long-distance hikers aren't exactly normal, either. I've noticed that the two groups tend to get along very well, and seem to enjoy each other's company.
June 21 - June 27
"Fewer people have hiked the PCT than have climbed Mt. Everest" - - Interesting trivia fact supplied by Margo. Margo has climbed 6 1/2 of "The Seven Peaks" (the tallest peak on each of the seven continents).
Jun 21 - Received a ride back to Walker Pass from George, a permanent and retired resident of the KOA. By pre-arrangement, we also met Margo there. She still has her rental car, and she is planning on turning it in tomorrow in Ridgecrest, which is about 40 miles away. She has secured a ride back to the trail from the rental car company, and said that we were welcome to share her motel room tonight in Ridgecrest. A few hours later, we were in a pool again. The desert will still be there tomorrow! Margo shuttled Jason and me around town to outfitters, restaurants, etc. Jason opted for a movie, and Margo and I had a nice time with interesting conversation at dinner. It was a fun day.
Jun 22 - Margo turned in her rental car, and true to their word, the rental car company gave the 3 of us a ride back to Walker Pass. Hiked 12 mostly beautiful miles to Joshua Tree Spring. This is the transition zone between the desert and the High Sierra. The weather felt a little "cooler" than normal, however, when I looked at my watch, the temperature read 92 degrees. All things are relative, I suppose. I'm ready to leave the desert. It was fun in April, and all right in May; but this is June. Its time to leave the cactus, heat and rattlesnakes behind and get into the high country.
Jun 23 - Jason left the trail because of foot problems and some kind of stomach virus. He said that he would meet us in Kennedy Meadows, but I'm not sure that he will make it. Probably won't see him again, though he has invited me to visit him in Arizona later. Will miss him. Hiking with English John and Margo. Very hot today, have a new blister on 3rd toe of right foot. This surprised me, I thought my feet were "blister proof". Now only 20 miles from Kennedy Meadows, and the official end of the desert portion of the PCT.
Jun 24 - Hiked only 12 miles and camped near a small stream about 4 miles south of the Kern River. Brent, a fellow Nam-vet who has hiked the PCT previously, told me at the Saufley's that the Kern River is where the scenery starts to change from desert to High Sierra. I can't wait!
Jun 25 - Hiked 8 miles to Kennedy Meadows; there was no sign of Jason, and no messages waiting at the store. Got a shower, washed clothes and resupplied. I also picked up my ice ax, Gore-Tex parka and down sleeping bag. I will go into the High Sierra tomorrow, and will be hiking in elevations of 12,000 - 14,000 ft. in less than a week. It seems to take forever for the trail to leave the desert, but when it finally goes, it does so very quickly and with reckless abandon. The end of the desert came none to soon; if it had lasted another week, I don't believe I could have stayed on the trail. As it is, I have an aversion to strong sunlight and heat, and I feel "drained" and sun-baked. Living in a desert environment for 2 months was quite an adventure and a unique experience in my life, but its time for it to end.
Jun 26 - Had a nice dinner last night at The Grumpy Bear restaurant, which is run with the help of generators, because the nearest electrical lines are about 40 miles away. There is a bar at the restaurant, where the locals gather to drink and sing on week-end nights. Their rendition of "You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me, Lucille", with its special twist, will always make me smile when I remember it. It was hilarious, but unfortunately, "R" rated. The owner gave us a ride back to the trail, and we hiked about 3 miles to Kennedy Meadows Campground and camped. This morning, I got an early start to escape the RV'ers (generators, radios, barking dogs, screaming children, screaming adults, etc.). Entered the South Sierra Wilderness. The desert is finally done! I did it! If my hike ended today, I would be satisfied, except I want to experience the High Sierra and the John Muir Trail before returning home. Scenery improved all day; Beck Meadows is really something. Climbed to about 9,000 ft. and camped near Olancha Pass Trail. It feels great to be in the Sierra. And that is quite an understatement.
Jun 27 - Beautiful High Sierra scenery continues to improve, but there are many mosquitoes. But, it gets cold at night, and they mostly go away. However, I'm very glad that I brought my head net. I paid $2 for it at Wally World (Wal-Mart), but wouldn't part with it now for $100. Hiked 15 miles, and camped at an elevation of 10,300 ft. This is true wilderness; no roads (gravel, dirt or paved) will cross the trail for over 200 miles. The cool weather, "soft" sunlight, plentiful water and beautiful scenery are restoring my spirit and body. I have a zip in my step that has been missing for a while.
June 28 - July 4
"Rainmaker, you look like a crippled Ninja" - - Jason's comment to me while we were in camp, and I was wearing a black watch cap, black long underwear, and black back brace.
Jun 28 - Now deep in the Sierra wilderness. It is a truly beautiful land of immense green meadows, snowy and rugged peaks, alpine lakes, magnificent conifers, warm sunshine, clear blue skies and cool breezes. Crossed Cottonwood Pass at 11,500 ft. Now camped in a beautiful cirque (valley carved by a glacier) with grand scenery in all directions. Altitude is 11,370 ft.; hiked about 16 miles. Mosquitoes are worse, but they are only a small nuisance in comparison to the beauty and grandeur I am experiencing. Someone once said that these little darlings have protected and defended more wilderness than all the laws that Congress has ever passed.
Jun 29 - Crossed into Sequoia National Park shortly after leaving camp, but haven't seen any Sequoia trees that I know of. Scenery is about as good as it can possibly get; I'm running out of words to describe it. Hiked about 14 miles to Crabtree Meadows, where Margo and I made camp. Mosquitoes are swarming. I will climb Mt. Whitney tomorrow; at 14,500 ft., it is a bit intimidating, however, the ranger told Margo that there is very little snow on the trail. Margo climbed Mt. Whitney previously and does not intend to summit again, so I'll be going alone.
Jun 30 - A day that I will never forget. I left Crabtree Meadows as soon as it was light enough to see. Most of my gear was left in camp, since I will hopefully return tonight. I carried my backpack, but took only extra clothes and food for the day, so it was very light. The scenery was beyond belief, right from the start, and it was one of those situations where you feel that you are the only person left on the face of the earth. I saw no one else for hours. When the sun finally made it up over the peaks, I was approaching Guitar Lake. I stopped for a short break, but was quickly swarmed by mosquitoes. I couldn't figure out where, or how, the trail was going to leave the valley, there seemed to be nothing in all directions except solid rock walls. However, the trail soon started switchbacking up a sheer cliff. The trail had been blasted out of solid rock, and was only about 2 feet wide. It was scary. It got even scarier when I came to a point where a rockslide had completely covered the trail with grapefruit and basketball size rocks. I had no choice except to climb across the rocks to get to the trail on the other side. The mountain was on my left side, and a sheer drop off of 500 - 1000 ft. was on my right. When I took my first step on the rocks, I told myself that this is one of those situations where if you slip, you die. I planted my left foot, and it promptly slipped out from under me. I seemed to be falling in slow motion. I knew that if I fell to the left (and into the mountain and rocks), that I could survive, but if I fell to the right and off the trail, that I would die. Falling down seemed to take an awfully long time, but luck was with me. I crashed into the rocks and held on for dear life (literally). When all motion ceased, I had a firm grip on a small boulder with my left hand, but my right arm and leg were hanging over the edge. I had pain in both my hands and my left leg, but I had no idea how badly I was hurt. I just lay there for a minute, planning my next move. I could see some blood on me and some of the rocks, but I had no idea where it was coming from. I very carefully moved enough so that all body parts were away from the edge, then slowly crawled over the remaining rocks to get to the relative safety of the trail on the far side of the rockslide. I then wiggled out of my pack and sat down. My first priority was to get my breathing and heart rate under control. A quick check of my pulse indicated that my heart was beating at almost 200 beats per minute, and I was hyperventilating. I leaned back against the mountain, closed my eyes, tried to relax, and had my breathing under control in less than a minute. My heart was still pounding, but in another minute or two, my heart rate was out of the danger zone. Next, I had to see where all the blood was coming from and determine how badly I was hurt. I had small cuts on both hands, and a larger cut on my left shin. My main concern, however, was my left knee, the one that had hit the rocks. I've been to many orthopedic doctors concerning my knees, and I have paid attention and asked many questions. I gave my knee a quick examination. There was no lateral movement; it was still "tight", which was a very good sign. The kneecap had taken a good blow, but there was no fracture. The ligaments were not painful, but one tendon was. Most importantly, I could still put weight on it. In other words, it still worked. Diagnosis: Blunt trauma to the patella, resulting in contusions and mild sprain of the upper patellar tendon. Treatment: Take 3 Ibuprofen, continue climbing the highest mountain in the Lower 48, try not to hit the knee on any more rocks, and worry about the consequences of all this reckless behavior tomorrow morning. I know that mountains are inanimate objects, but to me, they are "spiritual beings". Clearly, this mountain was testing me, or else we had just gotten started off on the wrong foot (no pun intended). So, I told it, "I've been waiting a long time for this, and its going to take more than that to get rid of me. But if you want to continue to try to kill me, take your best shot. I'm still here." With that little ceremony done, I put on my pack and continued my ascent. I climbed several more hours without further incident, and without seeing another person. However, the trail was very scary, and poorly maintained. Several times, I almost quit. Shortly after I passed the trail junction with the Whitney Portal Trail, I came upon a woman sitting on some rocks, visibly shaking. She was the first person I had seen since I left Crabtree Meadows about 4 hours earlier. It was not cold enough for hypothermic conditions, so I assumed that she was scared and not far from going into shock. We exchanged "hellos" and I asked her if she was all right. She said that she was, but that she had had enough, that she had decided to wait where she was for the rest of her group to come back down. I told her that I was scared, too, and that if she wanted, we could try to reach the summit together. She declined my offer, and I continued on alone. One snow field and an hour later, I reached the summit of Mt. Whitney, which is the southern terminus of the John Muir Trail. I really felt that I had earned this one, and I basked in the warm sunshine. The scenery was unbelievable; I felt that I was literally on top of the world. There was no sign of civilization in any direction; nothing but snow covered peaks as far as the eye could see. Soon, however, I had to reluctantly leave the summit in order to get back to Crabtree Meadows before dark. Before I left, however, there was something else I wanted to say to the mountain. I told it, "You scared me this morning, but you don't scare me now." My descent was without incident, however, I did stop at the pile of rocks that had almost cost me my life. I urinated on them, made an obscene gesture in their direction and then continued my descent. When I saw Margo at Crabtree Meadows, she said, "Would you tell me about your day on Whitney?" I did, but it took a while.
Jul 1 - My knee hurts a little, but it works, and I've hiked with worse knee pain than this. This was an unbelievable day, coming on the heels of the adventure and misadventure on Whitney yesterday. Hiked in alpine beauty all day, first across the Bighorn Plateau, then into the high country approaches to Forester Pass. Camped by a tarn (small snow-melt fed pond) at an elevation of 12,150 ft., according to my trusty Avocet watch / barometer. Margo and I are only a few miles from the pass, which at over 13,000 ft., is the highest point of the PCT. Everything was going so well; then the Marmot From Hell showed up. He stood up on his back legs, took a very long look at my tent, and I knew there was going to be trouble. He was very subtle at first, acting like he was just foraging; but edging ever closer to my tent. A rock thrown in his general direction seemed to have very little effect. A few minutes later, he was back, this time more interested in the various food items where I was sitting. When he got close enough, I "nudged" him with one of my hiking poles and said, "That's close enough, pal". To my utter amazement, the pesky little varmint bit the tip of my stick! The rules of engagement had been set; the gauntlet had been cast down. I examined my stick for bite marks, and told him that he had just stopped being cute. I then picked up a hand full of gravel and threw it in his face. Now, I thought, we are really communicating! He ran away, but I knew he would be back, and I took advantage of the lull in the action to gather artillery (small rocks) for the siege that I knew would follow. I considered my situation. I was defending a fixed position in territory that was unknown to me. The marmot was familiar with the terrain, had the support of the locals (other marmots), was very patient, and would use the hit and run tactics of guerilla warfare. Hmmm, I thought, I have another little Viet Nam going on here. A few minutes later, he was back; this time making a somewhat less subtle try for the inside of my tent. Time for a change in tactics. I chased him until he ran under some rocks, then gave him some carefully measured non-injurious jabs to the ribcage with the hiking stick he had so brazenly bitten about a half hour before. Rocks thrown in his direction he was ready for; but being poked with a hiking stick was a new experience for him, I expect. Anyway, it did the trick. I allowed him to make his escape, and there were no more encounters during the evening and night. Margo and I began to soak in the beauty and grandeur of our campsite. This was indeed the "Range Of Light", a phrase often used by John Muir to describe the High Sierra. We both basked in the warm sunlight, and tried to take it all in. However, the "light show" was just beginning. Sunset was followed by the rising of a nearly full moon. It cast beautiful light and shadows on the jagged peaks that surrounded our campsite. I slept half in and half out of my small tent, knowing that this was the most beautiful night that I had ever spent in the outdoors. I kept looking in the direction of Forester Pass, wondering what adventure tomorrow held.
Jul 2 - While I was preparing breakfast, the Marmot From Hell returned with another marmot, probably his mate, or perhaps just a partner in crime that hoped to share in the booty. More rocks thrown; more marmots peeking out from under boulders. However, they were a bit late. I took down my tent and the siege effectively ended. I figured it was a draw; I hadn't driven them off, but they hadn't gotten to my tent or food, either. In the end, I did what we should have done in Viet Nam; announced that I'd won and packed up and left; leaving any ongoing squabbles to be sorted out by the locals. An hour later, I had a lot more to worry about than thieving marmots; Margo and I had taken a wrong turn. We had started up the nearly sheer rock face on the south side of Forester Pass, and we were lost. Well, not exactly lost; we knew where we were, we just couldn't find the trail. We searched for an hour to no avail. I finally said to myself that enough was enough. I sat down and relaxed a few minutes, then decided that I was going to find the trail with my eyes, instead of my feet, even if I had to sit here and look for it the rest of the morning. After 10 minutes of carefully examining every feature on the rock face for any unnatural appearances, however slight, I noticed a section of rock that appeared to be "straighter" than the area surrounding it. Margo was several hundred feet closer to it than I was, and I directed her to the area I had seen. A few minutes later, she shouted that she was back on the trail. Once again, we were on our way. The ascent to Forester Pass was "exciting" in that the trail has been blasted right out of the rock face, and it is relatively narrow. However, it didn't seem as scary to me as it would have had I not climbed Mt. Whitney the day before. Before long, we reached the narrow pass at an elevation of 13,200 ft. Wildflowers greeted us, along with blue skies, cool air, warm sunshine, hardly any wind and some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. Needless to say, it was difficult to leave. Entered King's Canyon National Park and hiked to Kearsarge Lakes, after leaving the PCT / JMT on Kearsarge Pass Trail. We will hike 8 miles on the Kearsarge Pass Trail to Onion Valley tomorrow, and then hitch-hike about 25 miles to the town of Independence to resupply.
Jul 3 - Margo, who is much faster on the downhills than I, left early for a "power hike" to Onion Valley. It is Saturday, and if she cannot get to Independence before noon to pick up our boxes and mail at the post office, it is entirely possible that we won't get out of Independence until Wednesday. As it is, we will have to wait until Tuesday for the post office to reopen, so that we can remail our "bounce boxes" ahead before we leave. Also, since it is the 4th of July weekend, we expect motel rooms to be at a premium. She will try to get rooms for us before they are all taken, and needs to get to town as quickly as she can. I had the luxury of a slower and more enjoyable hike over Kearsarge Pass and down to the road at Onion Valley. I got a ride with the very first car that passed, but it took over an hour for the first car to come by. I eventually found Margo in town. She had made it to the post office and picked up our mail and packages scarcely minutes before it closed, and she had secured the LAST motel room in town, which she graciously offered to share. While sitting on the bed, I bent at the waist, twisted my torso, and picked up a heavy box off the floor. I immediately had a severe back spasm. Cursing my own carelessness, I wondered if this was the beginning of the end of my hike for this year. ( It was. )
July 4 - July 5 were spent resting, recuperating, resupplying and waiting for the post office to open in Independence, CA.
July 6 - July 11
"Any fool can get to the top of a mountain. The trick is getting back down." -- Sir Edmund Hillary
Jul 6 - Got a ride from Bob, the owner of the Vintage Motel. He charged Margo, English John and I only $5 for gas. What a bargain! It would have been an almost impossible hitch hike. My pack is very heavy, and my back is hurting badly. One more stupid mistake with my back, and I'll probably need a medical evacuation in a helicopter to get out of here. Its frustrating. And painful. However, I knew the odds when I came out here in April. Hiked back over Kearsarge Pass at 11,000' and camped at Charlotte Lake. My back somehow held up and feels no worse, and may even be a little better. We are camped right on the lake and very much in the heart of bear country. Its very good to be out of town, and back in the High Sierra wilderness.
Jul 7 - Crossed Glen Pass at an elevation of 11,900'. Met Just Jane and her companion. She lives in Vermont, and I've talked with her previously in some trail-oriented internet chatrooms. The north side of the pass had a very bad looking snow field, but it wasn't as bad up close as it appeared from a distance. I have learned a lot about walking on snow from Margo, and she has also taught me the basics of ice ax use. I've noticed that it has a lot to do with confidence. As Ray Jardine once said, you probably won't fall until you think you should. He calls it "Brain Lock". I'm very glad that I didn't send my ice ax home from Independence. I feel a lot better just knowing its available, even if I don't have to use it. Today, I needed it; however, someone with more experience could have easily gotten by without it. This is an incredible wilderness experience, and my back better hold up. I'm determined to finish the John Muir Trail at Yosesmite even if I have to crawl there. English John and I camped at Woods Creek Crossing, where there is a swinging bridge that I will cross tomorrow. Margo went ahead. It feels so good to have unlimited water in camp, a welcome change from the desert. Its also wonderful not having to carry 5 and 6 quarts of water through 20 and 25 mile waterless stretches in 100 degree heat.
Jul 8 - The mosquitoes finally got the better of me. I have not used any DEET since Viet Nam, because of the images that the smell of the stuff conjures up, especially at night. However, I'm now splashing it on like all the other hikers out here. Skin, clothing; it doesn't matter . It is not unusual to be swarmed by 50 - 100 mosquitoes whenever we stop during the day, or when we are sitting around camp at night. The bugs make me very thankful for my insect-proof tent. I would hate to be out here in a tarp. In fact, I wouldn't be out here in a tarp. Climbed to the top of Pinchot Pass at 12,100' and did a long, snowy traverse in the process. Did the pass solo, but saw Scott and Robin at the top. There are a very nice young couple. I met them in Independence, and I enjoy their company. Robin has a great marmot story: She encountered a large marmot on a rock directly beside the trail. She stopped, made a dismissive gesture with her hands and said, "SHOO, SHOO; GO AWAY!". She and the marmot stared at each other for a moment, then it jumped off the rock and went after her ankle. She said she screamed and ran back down the trail, with the marmot in hot pursuit. When she returned a few minutes later with Scott, the Macho Marmot was nowhere to be found. Whenever I need to laugh, I think of dainty, proper little Robin being chased down the trail by a marmot. I'm now camped alone in the wilderness, with indescribably beautiful alpine views in all directions.
Jul 9 - It appears that I have dodged the bullet concerning my back. For some reason unknown to me, it has held up. It is now seemingly back to what passes as "normal". In other words, it hurts, but it works. Reached the top of Mather Pass about 9:00 a.m. I got to the pass too early in the day, and the snow hadn't been softened by the sun. So, I had to use my ice ax again to chop some steps. There was also a hairy snow traverse on the north side of the pass. Hiked past beautiful Palasade Lakes, then into Palasade Gorge. Hiked about 14 miles and camped at the Middle Fork of King's River amid pines and giant hemlock trees. Camped at the base of a large and noisy waterfall, where 2 rivers come together. There are towering peaks all around. Descent from Mather Pass was over 4,000' .
Jul 10 - Made a 4,000' ascent and finally reached Muir Pass. There is a stone shelter at the pass, one of only a few on the PCT. Muir Pass is different. To reach it, I had to go past many cliffs, valleys, alpine lakes, rushing streams, snow fields and rugged peaks. It was an austere, bleak, inhospitable and surreal world, but also strangely beautiful and inviting. Weather cold and windy, lots of clouds and fog. Hiked 15 miles and camped at Evolution Lake. A rough but beautiful day.
Jul 11 - An almost "normal" day (if there is such a thing on the PCT), except for the hordes of mosquitoes in Evolution Valley, the fact that my back is very painful, and it rained twice. Left King's Canyon National Park. In what was quite a feat by the trail engineer bureaucrats, I couldn't help but notice that not only did the trail not pass within sight of King's Canyon in King's Canyon National Park, but hikers don't get to see even one Sequoia tree in Sequoia National Park, either. Way to go, guys!! You did a great job! Hiked about 13 miles, and camped just above the San Joaquin River.
July 12 - July 18
"If you've seen one Redwood, you've seen them all" - - Comment made by Ronald Reagan, concerning the creation of Redwood National Park.
Jul 12 - Still cloudy and threatening rain, and the mosquitoes are Southeast Asia bad. Climbed Seldon Pass, and forded several rivers afterwards. Wildflower displays are awesome, plants that I've not seen before. Believe that Shooting Star is my favorite. Hiked about 17 miles, made a tough 1,200' ascent right at the end of the day. Camped on Bear Ridge, near first trail to Edison Lake. This is the first time that the data book has been wrong about the availability of water. There is supposed to be a spring or creek here, but there is not. Had to backtrack about a half mile back down the mountain to get water. Mosquitoes are swarming, and that's putting it mildly. Put on protective clothing, DEET and my headnet, and tried to ignore them. The buzzing is maddening, however.
Jul 13 - Got up at 4:50 a.m., had a light breakfast, no coffee and was on the trail by 5:30. Hiked 5 mosquito plagued miles to Edison Lake and caught the 9:45 shuttle boat to Vermillion Valley Resort. Margo, and 3 couples; Scott and Robin, Jeff and Melanie and Mike and Ellen, are also here. They were to leave in the p.m. to go back to the trail, but a severe thunderstorm changed their minds and they decided to stay another night. Had a nice nap. Had a $5 shower in a bathroom that was absolutely filthy, and a $14 dinner that consisted of a fair salad and a not-done baked potato. The couple who run the "resort" are nice and friendly, but the place is a rip-off. I'm anxious to leave.
Jul 14 - Caught the afternoon shuttle boat back to the PCT and the John Muir Wilderness. Hiked about 2 miles and camped near a rushing stream. This is a wilderness paradise, but the continuous 15 mile days, the incessant and maddening mosquitoes, and my very painful back are taking their toll. I'm starting to think how nice it would be to be home. However, I try not to think about it too much.
Jul 15 - Climbed Silver Pass. Hit a snow pack on the north side before I even started down. It was steep, almost too steep to walk. I thought about sliding down on my rear end, but decided not to because of my back. Saw an elderly woman at the pass who is thru-hiking the JMT. Was a bit concerned about her. Either she was hypothermic, very tired, or has been out here a bit too long. She offered me some of her snack food 5 or 6 times while we were talking, even though I declined it each time. She obviously needed it more than I did. Her clothing was far from adequate, and I felt badly for her. She was from Austria, and her face was extremely weather-beaten, except for her crystal clear and sparkling blue eyes. She had a good spirit, but as Margo would have said, she (the elderly woman I encountered) is "working through some challenges", and I expect alcohol is one of them. Hiked about 17 miles and camped near Purple Lake. It must be a great place to camp, hundreds of mosquitoes can't be wrong.
Jul 16 - Hiked about 13 miles to Red's Meadow Resort. I was pleasantly surprised by the facilities. I was expecting a small store near a meadow on a dirt road, however, there is a paved 2 lane "highway", a very large grocery store with a souvenir shop, and a café. There is also a campground and free mineral hot showers. Will long remember the shower! I'm kind of bummed out, trying to work through it. Saw Scott and Ellen at the store; they said that Margo had gotten off the trail here yesterday (?) and had taken a bus to the town of Mammoth Lake. Scott said that he doubted that she would return to the PCT this year, that she had had a rough couple of days after they left Vermillion Valley Resort.
Jul 17 - Had a nice, but expensive, breakfast at the café, with Rio, Justin and Matt. Got a late start. Went by Devil's Postpile National Monument, which in my estimation, is vastly overrated. Big pile of rocks. Big deal. Hiked about 12 miles and camped about 2 miles south of Garnet Lake. Temperature is colder and dryer, it may freeze tonight. Met Mary, a southbound JMT hiker. She said that while she was in Tuolumne Meadows Campground, a bear slashed through her tent, even though there was no food in it. Luckily, she was not in the tent at the time, but I don't think it would have mattered if she had been; the result probably would have been the same. The Yosemite bears are a different breed.
Jul 18 - Hiked past several beautiful alpine lakes. Thousand Island Lake is somewhat misnamed; I believe Forty Island Lake would have been more appropriate. However, it is beautiful, regardless of it's name. There were spectacular views of Ritter and Banner peaks; quintessential rugged peaks of the High Sierra. Will long remember the spot where I took my morning break, Thousand Island Lake several hundred feet before me, and Ritter and Banner peaks looming in the distance. It was hard to leave, especially since my gut feeling tells me that this is all coming to an end soon. Later, made my ascent of Donahue Pass, which seemed to go on forever. When I reached the top, I found a beautiful campsite about 1/10 of a mile above and to the east of the pass. It was only early afternoon, but there were no mosquitoes, and the elevation was too high for bears, so I decided to stay. There were 2 resident marmots, but they seemed content to stay away from my tent and food. After an hour or so, we just ignored each other and went on about the business at hand. They foraged; I rested, prepared coffee and dinner, and soaked in the beauty and spirituality of the place. I spent a pleasant, but windy, evening. The alpine valleys and snowy peaks seemed to go on forever. This night was special. I was there in the high country alone, and it’s a different world up there. Seemingly, there was no one else within a hundred miles. And the marmots kept their distance.
July 19 - July 25
"There ain't no such thing as what used to be, what might be, or what might have been. There only is what is." - - Words of wisdom spoken by an elderly black man in a bar in Tampa, FL in 1977.
Jul 19 - Will never forget my 11,000' campsite at Donahue Pass last night. Had a hard freeze, the water in the small tarn next to my tent was frozen solid this morning. This had a devastating effect on the resident mosquito population. Most of them are dead. Hiked about 12 miles through Lyell Canyon to Tuolumne Meadows. Yosesmite National Park is busy and confusing; I feel like a small dog lost out in the middle of a highway. I'm not accustomed to all the noise and rapid movement of vehicles. Bent down to get water; forgot and bent at the waist instead of bending my knees. Had some severe pain in my back, but it has subsided. Back feels fragile. I know I have a few boxes at the P.O., but I'm leaving here to hike about 23 miles to Yosesmite Valley to finish the John Muir Trail, then I'm taking a bus back here to continue on the Pacific Crest Trail. Will wait to get packages until I return here from Yosesmite Valley, to avoid having to carry extra weight down to the valley. Camped at the backpacker's campsite in the RV campground. Ah, wilderness! There's nothing like the sound of generators, radios, TV's, slamming doors, barking dogs, diesel engines, crying babies, screaming children and screaming adults. And everyone packed together like inner city residents in some ghetto. I don't get it. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for the privilege of generating (and enduring) all the stress and noise, why don't these people just spend a quiet week-end at home?
Jul 20 - My back "went" while I was sitting on a bench at the store this morning. Have a lot of pain in the bundle of nerves at the lower end of my spine, and it is causing weakness in my legs. However, it is not as bad as it could be; I can still walk, and I can still lift my pack. Packed up in late afternoon and headed for Yosesmite Valley, but took a wrong turn and lost several miles and hours. Opted for a fresh start tomorrow morning and returned to the RV campground. This was kind of a wasted day. But if you are going to waste a day, Yosesmite National Park is not a bad place to do it.
Jul 21 - There is a multitude of trails in the area of Tuolumne Meadows, and surprisingly, the John Muir Trail is not well marked. Found my way through the maze, finally, and headed back out into the wilderness. Went through some gorgeous and unique scenery in the vicinity of Cathedral and Unicorn Peaks. Camped at Sunrise High Sierra Camp, where the mosquito population seems to be thriving. There is an old hippy camped above me, and several couples camped below me. Surprisingly, the old hippy used to live in Young Harris, Georgia; about 30 miles from my home. And one of the couples below me has a sister in Marietta, Georgia and they visit the area regularly. And their daughter in law, who is with them, vacationed at Lake Rabun this summer, which is less than 20 miles from my home. All this in Yosemite National Park in California. It is indeed a small world.
Jul 22 - Left camp after a beautiful sunrise. Hiked about 13 miles into Yosemite Valley and finished the John Muir Trail. There was no one around to share my enthusiasm except a park service employee who was emptying trash cans. He got the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail confused; told me that I hadn't finished the John Muir Trail, that it continued all the way to Canada. Right. I was too tired to argue with him. I just took a deep breath, and asked him where I could catch a shuttle bus. He gave me directions, and an hour later, I was dining on pizza, french fries, salad and a giant soft drink at Yosemite Village. This was followed by a giant cup of coffee and a cheese danish. Later, boarded another shuttle bus for the backpacker's campground. The valley is absolutely beautiful, but its beauty lies in the steep cliffs and waterfalls that surround it. The valley itself is kind of like Mall Of America meets the wilderness. Feel great concerning the completion of the JMT. However, as usual, the beauty was in the journey, not the destination. Tent zipper on mosquito netting finally died. Have no way to get it repaired, so I'll probably have to buy a new tent tomorrow.
Jul 23 - Spent a fun, restful and productive day in Yosemite Valley. Bought a new tent and sent my old one home. Went to the pool, took several dips and had 2 very long showers in the locker room, all for $2. Later, visited the laundromat. There are many small stores around, and I've pigged out on various types of junk food all day. Went to the grocery store and resupplied. As usual, bought too much food. However, this was a good day spent in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Returned to the backpacker's campsite near North Pines Campground. Really like my new tent, a Eureka Solitaire. However, it came with fiberglass poles. My aluminum poles from my old Eureka Gossamer fit it, so I swapped out the poles. Sent the fiberglass poles home with the Gossamer.
Jul 24 - Went to Curry Village, and bought a $19 bus ticket to return to Tuolumne Meadows, where I will continue north on the Pacific Crest Trail. Bus should have arrived in time for me to get to the post office, but it was late. The post office closed at noon, since today is Saturday. Need to get my packages, but cannot wait around here until the post office reopens on Monday. So, will send a change of address, and have them forwarded to Sierra City. Left Tuolumne Meadows and hiked past meadows, granite peaks and waterfalls to Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp. There are several couples camped to my left, and a young Japanese couple camped to my right. Just before sundown, a very large cinnamon colored black bear tried to enter the camp of the couples on my left. They yelled and threw rocks, but the bear wouldn't leave. Finally, one man charged the bear, yelling and throwing rocks as he ran toward it. I held my breath. Its not something I would have done, but it worked. Instead of attacking, the bear ran away. Knowing that this bear could be bluffed would be important later. I've had a few bear incidents; about 10 years ago I was bluff charged by a female black bear with cubs in the Smokies. And a few years ago, a grizzly and I surprised each other in a thicket near the McKinley River in Alaska (I tell folks that I was the most scared, but he jumped the highest). And, I've lived in black bear country for 12 years, and I frequently observe them on and near my property during summer when the berries are ripe. However, up to this point, I had spent hundreds of nights backpacking in both grizzly and black bear country without ever having a bear enter my camp in the middle of the night. Although I didn't know it at the time, my luck was about to run out.
Jul 25 - Last night was exciting, to say the least. Soon after the couples on my left had chased the bear away, I went into my tent for the night, trying to convince myself that the bear had been driven off, and that he wouldn't be back. The mesh door on my tent was zipped because of mosquitoes, but it was a warm, clear, moonlit night, so the storm door had been left open. Just as I was dozing off, I thought I saw the head and shoulders of a bear enter my line of vision from the left. Instinctively, I slapped the side of my tent, and yelled "Hey!!". The shape I'd seen disappeared, and I thought I might have heard something brush my nylon tent. Fully awake, I looked around. Nothing. Had my mind conjured up the bear image? Had I been dreaming? Had it just been a shadow cast in the moonlight? I wasn't sure. I tried to convince myself that my eyes were just playing tricks on me, and managed to go to sleep. Just before midnight, I was awakened by loud "sniffing" noises. I looked outside, and hoped that I wasn't seeing what I thought I was seeing. I blinked, rubbed my eyes and looked again. No doubt about it, the second largest black bear I've ever seen was at my door, and sniffing my pack that was lashed to my tent frame (there's no room for the pack inside). All food items were safely stored away from camp, but there were probably all kind of odors on and in my pack. I could have easily reached outside and touched the bear, it was less than two feet away from my head. I knew that I was probably only a few seconds away from having my pack or tent slashed. Without really thinking about it, I quickly opened the zipper on the mesh door as loudly as I could, slammed by hand down on my pack, and yelled, "GET OUT OF HERE!!" as loudly as I could. Regardless of what one thinks of bears, their startle reflex is something to behold, easily double that of a human. It jumped straight up in the air, ran a short distance and stopped. I didn't realize until later that when I slammed my hand down on my pack, that my hand and the bear's mouth had been only inches apart. I don't remember getting out of my tent, but the next thing I remember, the bear and I were facing each other from a distance of about 15 feet. He was clearly visible in the moonlight. Nothing happened for a few seconds, then he took a few steps toward my tent. Hoping it was the same bear that had been chased off earlier, I made a kind of "lunge" toward it and shouted at it again. It worked; the bear ran away and disappeared. A few minutes later, I heard a woman scream, and then a man shouting what sounded like insults and threats in a foreign language. I figured that the bear, whom I dubbed Nightmare, was giving the official "Welcome To Yosemite" to the young Japanese couple camped on my right. Nightmare was indeed making the rounds. Things quieted down after that. I believe the bear went to everyone's camp, satisfied itself that no food was available, then took the rest of the night off. Thankfully, no one was injured. When I packed up and left camp, the Japanese couple were still in their tent, all their shoes neatly lined up just outside their door. They would have quite a story to tell to their friends and relatives in Japan when they returned home, which would probably be very soon. Hiked 15 miles to Matterhorn Canyon and camped near a creek, up in some rocks. Its almost as beautiful as Yosesmite Valley, however, its total lack of RV campgrounds and development of any kind make it even more attractive, to me, than Yosemite Valley. There are no metal food lockers or bear poles in this section of the park, and since I have no bear resistant food container, (they are too heavy, and don't hold enough food for long-distance hikers) I will be in violation of park rules the rest of the time that I am in Yosemite. I will probably spend as much time avoiding the rangers as I do the bears. Will bury my food bag under rocks tonight about 20 feet from my tent. Far enough away to be safe, but close enough to defend my food if I have to. I can't even imagine getting caught out here with all my food gone. The simple fact of life is this: Any hiker who is not prepared to defend his / her food shouldn't be out here. I don't expect to get much sleep tonight.
July 26 - July 30
If you ask, "Who says so?" often enough, eventually they will lock you up - - George Carlson
Jul 26 - Roughest day of hiking in a while. This part of the park is almost devoid of hikers and today I found out why. Did my 15 miles, but it was mostly constant switchbacking up and down steep slopes on poorly maintained, rocky trails. Mosquitoes are at crisis levels, and today, almost all my DEET leaked out because I neglected to tighten the cap properly after using it. A simple mistake that gets magnified greatly out here. Now have about 50 mosquitoes swarming around my head, and have no protection except my $2 Wal-Mart head net, my parka and my long pants. I'll be in my tent soon. Without the head net to wear during the day, and the zip up tent to use at night, the mosquitoes would not be bearable.
Jul 27 - Encountered a crew of California Conservation Corps workers doing trail maintenance. First question one of the workers asked was, "Would you like to have some insect repellent?". More trail magic; sometimes this type thing seems almost uncanny. Anyway, they fixed me up not with one, but 2 bottles of DEET. They also invited me to dinner at their camp, but it was early in the day, so I regretfully declined. Now camped on a creek about 2 miles north of Wilma Lake. Last few days have really been rough. Up over passes, down to a valley, ford a creek and begin the process again. Bugs are awful, but I got DEET!! Will bury my food under rocks again tonight; it seems to work well, in that I still have it all.
Jul 28 - What a difference a day makes. Back started hurting badly yesterday, and is now much worse. It hurts all the time, and I'm getting severe jolts of nerve related pain at the base of my spine and down my legs. Hiked out of Yosemite National Park at Dorothy Lake Pass. Bugs don't seem as bad. Just my luck; I have enough DEET to hold them off for 2 weeks, and they go away. Oh, well, I'm not complaining. Also, completed 1,000 miles of trail today, however, I may be done. Have to worry about getting to Hwy. 108 at Sonora Pass for now, will worry about everything else later. Have a very secluded campsite about a quarter mile off the trail in some large boulders. Got water from a small creek that was lined with beautiful displays of blooming wildflowers. The sun was setting, and lighting up the water and the flowers. It was a peaceful and serene setting, and I sat down for a few minutes to take it all in. I had the feeling that I was the first person ever to be here. Well, probably not the first, but I don't expect there have been many. I know that my hike is ending (for this year). Its somewhat sad, but my back held up for a thousand miles, and frankly, that's about 980 miles longer than I thought it would.
Jul 29 - Hiked from Kennedy Canyon to Sonora Pass, and it was probably the roughest section of trail I've done. There was more snow than in all of the high passes on the John Muir Trail. In many places, the trail was no more than 8 - 12 inches wide, and it traversed very steep slopes. Often, the "trail" was nothing more than loose rock and gravel, with long, painful and probably deadly slides down "several" hundred feet of mountain if I slipped. At Sonora Pass, the guidebook warns that a slip could be lethal. No kidding? If its that bad (and it is), why don't they do something about it? This was a very scary, painful and exciting day. At one point, I was on a snow field, where one slip would have taken me down an ice chute, over a cliff, and into a lake. Another time, I was descending on a snow field, and the terrain became too steep to walk. I had no choice except to get down on my butt and slide about 150 feet. It worked! Except for one good jolt that my back received, it was fun. I heard about this technique from Margo, but never expected to try it myself because of my back. However, today I had no choice. I arrived at Sonora Pass early enough to hitch into Bridgeport, but I wanted to spend one more night on the PCT. I pitched my tent in full view of Sonora Pass up on a little knoll, enjoyed my surroundings one last time, and thought about the incredible 3 months I had spent on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Jul 30 - I started hitch hiking at Hwy. 108 at Sonora Pass about 8:30 a.m. I estimated it would take about 3 hours to get a ride, and my estimation was almost exactly correct. Shortly after 11:30, a man stopped and asked where I was going. To the gracious, gentle and kind person who stopped, Al Bergeron, I replied, "Bridgeport". However, on the inside, I said, "I'm going home". Al helped me out of a bad situation, and in doing so, he took a chance on a dirty, scraggly looking stranger in the middle of the wilderness. After I loaded my pack in his vehicle, I took one last look around at the beautiful surroundings and got a brief lump in my throat. For this year, though, it was over. I thought about the Native American proverb that so often has inspired me, "I am wounded, I am not slain, I will lie down to bleed for a while, then I will rise up and fight again". I will "rise up and fight again" in about a year, the day I return to Sonora Pass and continue my journey on the Pacific Crest Trail.
My 2000 PCT Journal