Thursday, July 30, 2015

PCT Day 16: Storms a Comin

Day 16  6-3-2015   Sleep 2130-330
Miles 718 – 763

Good Morning!
            There was fog all around and I was cold.  I started moving fast and the uphill got my body warm in no time.  As I cruised along a ridge, the sun started to rise and the moon set.  There was a fog settled in the valley’s.   Surely, I have died and gone to heaven.  I have thought this numerous times now.  Does heaven have days? Some better and some worse? No way.  Can’t wait to meet God.  No wait, Joey, you are a Buddhist.  At best you have been reincarnated into a hiking machine with a super sense for beauty.  Okay, I’ll accept that too.  So the machine was doing all the work and I was enjoying the ride.  Until the sun got higher in the sky.  I entered a fog, my mind was just a haze.  Could I still be sleep deprived?  I had two good nights of sleep though.  I trudged on for a bit but my pace was slowing.  Finally I remembered, “when you are slowing down and things are speeding round, you must first stop and regain the ground, then and only then will stability be found”  -Me.  Yup, I am making up rhyming quotes, to quote to myself to not lose it.  That is how you know it is good.  So I nap for 30 minutes. 
Wish I had a real camera.  Doesn't even begin to portray

What wonders the nap did.  I was feeling good, happy and moving well.  This continued on for quite awhile.  Until I talked to a south bound JMTer.  He asked me, “how far to the lake” and in return I asked “how exposed is the ridge you just crossed” as there were some darker looking clouds in the air.  He told me I would be fine, it is the storm on Saturday that I have to worry about.  What storm? “there is a big storm coming, Saturday, at least that is what the guy at camp with a satellite radio said.” Oh geez.  Not this again.  I totally freaked out on the AT when the rumors of flash flood were flying.  So my mission is to not freak out, but come up with a plan.  Okay, after thirty minutes I come up with this.  If it is truly a big storm; I am guessing three feet of snow.  I can find a shelter or build one, have a fire and wait it out.  I can ration food, no problem.  When the storm clears I can get lost in the three feet of snow not being able to follow the trail.  Okay, I got this, not a worry.  I started day dreaming of how emaciated I would look after stretching two days worth of food out over five or six days.  Awesome.  But that is two days away and then the storm survival.  So why don’t you just focus and hike.  After making it into the dark I settled down under a perfect “tree shelter” and decided I was impressed with my handling the news about a “big” storm.  It was probably nothing and the weathermen are always wrong.  Admittedly though, I was starting to worry.  I know how serious a storm at 11,000 feet can be.  
That is about how far I have to hike

"Sittin' around, waiting for an airplane,
Don't know how to fly, but that's okay"
Airplane - Widespread Panic

Darkness coming

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

PCT Day 15: Kennedy Meadows Cheddar Cheese Massacree

Day 15 6-2-2015  Sleep 2000 - 330
Miles 671 – 718

            It was breezy and cold when I first started.  I knew I was in the mountains and this would become more the norm.  What a relief.  Being too hot to hike midday, trying to sleep during the day and hike all night was really wearing on me.  Sleep is import, to me.  I don’t think more is better.  You want to sleep efficiently.  I believe in the ~90 minute sleep cycles.  I think mine are closer to 86 minutes, they all vary and person to person there will be huge variation.  90 minutes is easy to calculate.  So when I am falling asleep I set my alarm at four hours and thirty minutes or a full six hours later.  I figure it takes me a few more minutes to fall asleep therefore less than 90 minute sleep cycles.  But this is all guesstimation and I have not perfected sleep.  That being said, 90 minutes of sleep, which I was getting the last three nights out of the desert was not enough.  Physical exhaustion; I’ll work through.  But when your mind is exhausted; forget about it.  You start questioning everything, why are you out there killing yourself? It is a real motivation zapper.  So it was nice to get a huge night of sleep and I look forward to getting back to “normal” for me. 
Cold Mountain Morning
            I was jogging along, feeling good and flowing.  A resupply always gets me in a good mood.  It seemed like forever since the last resuply so that was adding to the sensation.  Also, it was a big resupply for me.  205 miles.   That is a lot of food, not to mention the bear can and extra warm layers that waited for me as well.  I cruised down a long descent, soaring over a rattlesnake at one point as if it was just a hurdle on the track; without missing a step.  Yeah, I am on one.  Ran the rolling sandy section all the way to the road.  Three quarters a mile off the trail down a road I was greeted by a roaring applause (they do this for every approaching hiker, I am not special).  What the eff.  There were ~100 hikers hanging out like a big block party.  Okay, relax Joey, you can do this.  You are probably wondering why this is such a big deal.  But I am a total agoraphobic.  Dinner and a movie with friends is a nerve racking scary experience for me.  It is just how I am wired.  Put me on a 1,000 foot shelf on a mountain, I am okay.  But showering, wearing jeans, getting in a car and going to dinner.  Whoa, fill my valium script doc.  I have worked on it in the past, with some success too.  But going to a mall, movie, dinner; it is just not me anyway, so why spend effort to do it easier.  I will say, public speaking and giving presentations doesn’t bother me, go figure.  But I assume that is because it is a “performance” a “challenge” and so I get all in my competitive mode and stay relaxed.  But as far as social events, I rather just enjoy the freaking out I do, for the few times I do “go out”  Its sad sure, but it is who I am.  I’ve accepted it, now give me some mountains!
Long Smooth Descent: Also LSD
            I go in the store and ask for my package.  While waiting I pick out some V8, OJ and a block of cheese.  I housed all three by the time my package was ready.  The lady said. “she had never seen anyone finish a whole block of cheese that fast” (not the first time I heard that) then she mentioned that I had some dangling off my beard…guess I didn’t quite finish it.  I went to pack up my bag and leave as quickly as I could.  For the life of me I could not figure out how I was suppose to pack it.  I remember practicing at home and something was attached to the outside of my pack, but I just couldn’t think straight and remember.  Finally, I realize it was my dry bag (warm clothes and sleep situation) So with my pack bulging at the seams and a dry bag hanging off the back, I finally got out of there and made my way back to the trail.  I knew this was going to be rough.  But I told myself, it is only a few days. My legs will be stronger and I will be used to carrying this heavy bulky pack.  Then I will have a light pack and feel like I am weightless. 
Horned Toad? Hornyd Frog? Horny Lizard...I'm lonely
            The trail climbed ever so slightly for the next 12 or so miles.  I felt no reason to do anything other than walk.  I survived the desert and I was entering the mountains.  A feeling of satisfaction swelled inside me.  Hardest part done.  Second hardest part ahead, but also the most enjoyable and one I look forward to the most.  I knew the Sierras would be beautiful.  I had never been except for up to Tahoe for skiing.  Which is beautiful in it’s own right, but it is not summer in the Sierras.  The sun set and the temperature cooled.  I was content with the day and wanted a good nights rest to start this next amazing part of my journey fresh.  I found a nice sandy spot and was out before I even realized.
Feeling home!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

PCT Day 14: Sweet Dessert

Day 14 6-1-2015  Sleep 100-230
Miles 626-671

Cold Good Morning!
            I woke up to the wind howling.  I even threw my jacket on to stay warm.  Sweet!  Again, I got the speed walking legs going and thought, man I am going to get this done in no time.  Sure enough, all good things come to an end.  The trail didn’t end, it just kicked up into a massive climb.  Suddenly, I was more power hiking and struggling up the hill.  I drink and drink, because I will have to carry less weight on my back.  The pro cyclist do it on the big climbs, I will too.  Worked great.  Except now I am reaching the top and I have all this extra water in me, that is cooling me down.  At the top, it is exposed and quite windy.  I am cold.  I repeat again…to myself, I am cold.  Well that is actually a nice feeling.  The sun was rising and I didn’t mind.  One I finally wasn’t hot and two it was absolutely gorgeous from the top of this mountain.  I wove along until I saw Highway 178, Walker Pass, the “official” end of the desert as some hikers call it.  It was a nice smooth descent and I let the legs roll out, it felt so good.  I felt like I hadn’t run in forever.  Except I was running just last night.  Sleep deprivation messes with your ability to track time.  Ah just another part of the trip.
A view? Means I am up high!
I grabbed water in a hurry, as there was about ten hikers sitting there killing time and I was on my way.  Except now, climbing uphill in the afternoon sun, not only was I getting a bit fried, I was also starting to head bob…in the middle of the day? Grrr.  I found a shady and breezy spot and set the alarm for thirty minutes.  I passed out, woke up to the alarm on full blast.  Apparently I picked a popular spot, as I disturbed five or so people who were taking in the view very close by.  I muttered an apology and got moving.  I finished up the climb and had a nice fun descent into the next valley.  When I started walking uphill again, I had no power, no energy.  I was dead tired.  Damn I thought, here it is 1800, nice and cool and I can’t even hike.  Well, I shouldn’t say can’t.  I struggled to the top of another climb then ran down the backside.  This time when the trail kicked up, I decided to get water and quit for the day.  I was just wasting time struggling at this point.  But it wasn’t even dark.  So I set up camp and for the first time, watched the sun set from bed.  Passed out cold, like I just died.  

666 miles, feels good, no great!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

PCT Day 13: Head Bobbin and a Robin spring

Day 13 5-31-2015  Sleep 130-300
Miles 575 – 626 

            Still dark, kind of cool.  Lets do this!  Yea, I am the kind of person that jumps out of bed half the days.  Sure it was only a 90 minute nap, but that is enough for my battery.  I was flying along a smooth road enjoying the cool breeze.  The twilight and sunrise was pretty, but I would have taken another eight hours of darkness.  I got water at the Golden Oaks spring and knew, twenty miles until Robin Bird Spring.  Just get to Robin Bird spring then you can nap with water.  It was so hot, there were trees, but most were burnt dead wood and provided no shade.  Time slowed down.  My legs slowed down.  My thoughts raced.  I thought it was only twenty miles, haven’t I gone farther.  Geez.  Slurp slurp.  Wait what? I am out of water?  I check my bag.  Sure enough there is just the tough drops to get to, maybe an ounce or two at most.  No biggie, I should be there any moment now and then I can drink my fill.  Shouldn’t I? Oh sweet, 600 mile marker.  Wait, Robin Bird Spring is at mile 602.1  Okay only two more miles.  TWO MORE MILES.  That is like thirty-forty minutes.  I am thirsty now!  Ok then go faster.  True.  Faster I went.  It was good motivation and I was certainly moving faster than I had been the last few hours.  Now I was getting to the point where I knew I should see it any second.  I saw a couple and as I hiked up on them, “Hey, hows it going?” “good, you?” “great, just thirsty, cant wait to get to this spring?” “You mean the one you just passed?” “What?” “Yea it is like half a mile back that way” the girl speaks up “no it is like a tenth of a mile”  “Oh ok thanks”  I turn and leave kind of pissed…at myself.  But then I chuckle, so I am not the only one who gets distances totally wrong on the trail. 
Nice, but stay dark please!
So somewhere between a tenth of a mile and a half mile I am home free sweet.  Turned out to be about a tenth of a mile, maybe a bit more(once again women are better) I get to the spring and camel up.  I find shade among a group of younger male hikers, get the shoes off and feet up.  Time to rest/nap whatever I can get.  A feeling of relief came over me, as I made it, rough go, hot and dehydrated, but I made it.  The group of guys started asking me questions and we arrived at the fact that I was averaging about 49 miles per day.  Why do other hikers always want to know where you came from? Then, when did you start? I am a horrible liar and other hikers always quickly deduce that I am going for the record (I got to work on that). Why you ask? Well, I rather not have people know where I am as to reduce the chance of people tracking me down to “help” me with “trail magic” that is really just support.  This is the reason for the delayed posts, that is if I do have cell service, otherwise not having cell service builds in a nice natural delay.  As far as I heard; via rumor (so don’t quote me) Anish had problems with that on her trip.  It is not a huge problem, but it adds in a whole other obstacle that you don’t need and also brings questions to the validity of your trip.  I also know from experience as I ran into this on the AT last summer.  It’s a tough situation.  People are just trying to be nice and “help” you, but in reality they are hurting you (actually it is a shitty situation) So I am trying not to make this harder on myself.  Also, when people find out that you are hiking 40+ miles a day, they have a million questions to find out your secret.  Which, my secret is I am crazy.  There you happy?  So I answer some questions, and I am happy to, but I rather just get some shut eye and rest up for some night hiking.  One of the guys Cement decides he is going to wait until it is cooler and hike up bit.  So he is going to join me after this nap.  

We get up and get moving, slow at first.  Once we wake up, we jog the entire 14 miles to the Kelso Valley road cache.  We moved well together and talked most of the time.  It was nice for me.  I don’t get to talk to many people and to have a whole conversation about Ultras and FKTs, really made the time fly by. So much so, that we missed a water source.  We trucked on to Kelso Valley, praying it was stocked.  It was, what a relief.  Cement and I parted ways at the cache and I wished him luck on the rest of his hike and at the snowshoe championships next winter, which happen to be in Ogden just two hours north of where I live.  Back to being alone and lonely I felt.  The sun was going down and I was heading into a 40 mile section without any permanent or guaranteed water supplies.  I was carrying a lot of water just in case, but my plan was to hike most of it at night.  I was tired, but I got my legs into speed walk mode and actually covered ground quite well.  Around 100 I started my head bob again.  GEEZ I would like to make it through a whole night without sleeping, but I just cannot.  I carried on until I found a beautifully sandy spot already carved out for me and posted up for the night.  
Kelso Valley Rd a relieving sight 

PCT Day 12: Windmills

Day 12 5-30-2015  Sleep 200-330
Miles 536.7 – 575

            It was still hot when I woke up and the sun was not even rising yet.  I got up to Tyler Horse canyon and got water.  I hiked until about 1100 but I was slowing a ton, as it was hot, there was not a square foot of shade and I was carrying a lot of extra weight in the form of water.  I finally found a few trees near a ridge that seemed breezy.  Without too much extra work I was able to make a spot in the shade with my legs up.  Sweet, I will just nap until it starts cooling off.  I was tired, I should sleep no problem.  Then the ants crawl all over you and the flies land on you.  It is over 100 degrees, do I climb in my mummy sack and hide from the insects and sweat it out?  Or do I try to stay cool and not let the little buggers bug me?  Didn’t really matter I realized trying both.  I was going to be miserable and not get any sleep.  But it is rest, I tell myself.  So half comatose, I lay there until 1600.  Realizing it is not going to be cool for a long time and fed up with the misery, I decide I just need to hike.  The heat is not as uncomfortable when you are up moving, but it does zap your energy and then progress slows and I feel like I should just wait until it is cooler.  Then I think of what I just went through during the middle of the day.  So I decide that either way I am going to suffer, might as well move on down the road. 
Windmills in the morning

So over thinking done, I get to day dream, ah to be in the mountains, with the snow, the breeze, and best yet, the lack of insects.  I pass through fields of giant windmills and the sun gets low in the sky.  The cool breeze brings energy to me as well as the windmills. Going green, machine, downhill time to run. What? Just run Joey! Oh yea, here we go.  You might be confused, but you were just in my head for a second; so know you know how confused I am half the time.  I had to yell at myself to just run, but then I did just run, all the way down to the highway.  I crossed and started the hike up the other side.  The sun had set and now the wind was whipping like being in a wind tunnel.  Because I was, natures wind tunnel; a canyon.  The breeze kept trying to take me away but instead it kept me cool for the entirety of the climb.  I reached the top and rolled along the ridge.  I was getting tired again.  Looking down at my watch 100, oh duh.  I reached a jeep road that became the trail.  I found a little nook and bivy’d up.  I wanted to hike all night as it was nice and cool, but my body likes sleep.  The internal struggle, a compromise and a nap.  
Windmills in the afternoon

Windmills in the evening

Thursday, July 23, 2015

PCT Day 11: Funky Town

Day 11 5-29-2015  Sleep 2200-400
Miles 494-536.7

Today was all about strategy.  I was coming into the low elevation desert crossing before returning back up into the mountains.  The plan was to get to Hikertown mile 518, get my resupply box, nap for a bit then tackle the flat hot aquaduct portion at night.  Well things went to plan, sort of.  I got my hustle on and got the 24 miles to Hikertown done by about 1130.  It was already brutally hot and I was glad to reach the oasis of Hikertown. Kind of a funky place, I dig it.  It was like a fake western town as you might see at an amusement park for kids.  Different little buildings named “town store” “post office” “jail”  each was about the size of a bed room and about half of them were exactly that.  I posted up at one off by myself.  I opened my resupply box and repacked my pack.  Then I napped in the shade the best I could.  When my alarm went off at 1800, I felt rested and ready to tackle the aquaduct.  I looked at the thermometer tucked in under the roof in the shade, 92 degrees.  Well it should only be getting cooler. 
Gotta make a move to a town that is right for me
Town to keep me movin'
Keep me groovin'
with some energy - Funkytown
(Don't worry, I had to look the lyrics up)

As I got up I felt a breeze I hadn’t felt in awhile.  Sure I had a hole in compression tights on my butt.  But as I reached and felt, hmm what is going on?  Oh, the tights had ripped along the whole seam.  Each butt cheek was still covered, but my crack was full on out there.  At first I thought, I kind of like this.  Nice built in aeration system.  Butt, in the 200 feet I had to walk to get to the garage where the big group of hikers was hanging out; I already got comments from two people about the view.  Damn, butt why were they checking out my ass anyway?  So I grabbed some pants from the hiker box, as there were no shorts.  I cut the wind breaker pants and made some skimpy shorts to wear.  I changed and located a sewing kit.  Oh yea, you know how you have sewn maybe once or twice in your life.  Well time to sew a stretched out seam shut…haha yeah right.  Well I tried, failed miserable and decided I would stick to my day job.  Well in the desert, it was going to become my night job.  So I took off around 2000 instead of 1830, with my 185 miles worth of food and three liters of water.  My pack felt heavy.  Good thing the entire thing was flat and I was able to shuffle stride a good amount of it.  By about 200 I was doing the head bob and decided I should get a nap in.  Still being 80 or so degrees out, I just laid on my stuff sack for padding and let my feet hang up on a rock.  You know like a hammock, only made of rock and hard dirt.  Didn’t matter I was so tired, I would have slept standing if possible.
Heading out into the aquaduct

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

PCT Day 10: Aqua Dulce, where?

Day 10   5-28-2015    Sleep 2000-200
Miles 447-494

            Woke up to a sweet cold morning.  I moved swiftly getting through the town of Agua Dulce and got off the road before too many cars.  Then it was hot, hot and more hot.  Big water carry, seeing as I couldn’t rely on any caches.  15 miles on a sun baked south-southwest side of a low elevation ridge.  It was hot.  I thought all my sauna’ing would have helped me with this or maybe it is really just that hot.  I am trying to run a long but the whole time my eyes wonder to Bouquet Resevoir below.  If only I could sprout wings and glide down, I would just face plant into the cool blue.  Although, I guess if I magically became able to fly I would probably do something cooler…maybe not though, it was hot.  I got to the Green Valley fire station around 1330 and drank my fill of water.  I decided before the trip, if it got too hot during the day to hike (i.e. I am losing power, losing focus, losing my mind, or dangerous) that I would try to nap during the heat and hike later at night.  So, today would be the first giver-go.  I laid in the shade with my legs vertical up on the building.  I actually closed my eyes and dreamed a bit.  When I came to, thirty minutes had passed.  But I felt like I was asleep for a full night of sleep, dreams and all.  I guess that is what you get when you are that tired; you sleep faster.  But I didn’t want to go back out and hike eleven miles on asphalt in the mid afternoon sun for this detour.  I tried to sleep more but was really just in a haze.  I decided that it was a wash just dazing here versus hiking. 

Exposed in the sun all day
So I packed up and got moving.  When I got back to the trail head, I was reading the sign and realized they had opened a section of trail.  Great.  I thought this detour was going to shave off a few miles but now I have to out and back for about three miles.  I ditched my pack and got it done without fussing too much.  It felt weird to not have my pack on.  Now back at the road, the fun part.  There was no shoulder and Cali drivers are apparently afraid of crossing the double yellow, even if no cars are coming the other way for miles.  So I got really close to a bunch of cars going 50 mph spitting there exhaust at me…it was awesome!  I finally got through the town and onto the more country road section.  There were hardly lanes and the road to gravel shoulder was so crowned it hurt my knee.  I was walking a third out in the lane and when the four cars I passed the rest of the way came, I scooched over to the absolute side of the road.  Two of them honked at me and made wild gestures for me to move over, off the road get in the bushes, I am coming through.  I can never understand how lazy you have to be to turn your car steering wheel half and inch and then back for two effin seconds.  But they have never run/walked on such a road and just don’t understand.  Still how could they be so ignorant.  Oh conversations with my multi personalities.  Oh hey, watch out, Ostrich crossing…WAIT what?!  I thought I was really losing it for a second, but I took a picture and the sign was real, I deduced.  Ostrich Crossing…don’t see that everyday.  Man this heat is really getting to me.  I was glad when the detour took me off the road and back to the woods, my escape from the scary creatures; back with the mountain lions, bears and dirty hikers.  Thank goodness my kind of crowd.  I hiked in a ways and set up for the night.  A cool breeze comforted me as I massaged my feet and legs while laying on my back.

If only I could glide down there

It was a long day

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

PCT Day 9: Effin A and the KOA

Day 9 5-27-2015 Sleep 2200-400
Miles 401-447

The morning started off well
The morning was cool, with some trapped cold air in little canyons on the way.  But that sun came up and it was quickly hot once more.  I am really glad I did all that heat training before getting on the trail.  I would crank the sauna, stretch as I usually do, but just see how long I could stay in there at 170degrees and 10% humidity, brutal.  I passed the 420 mile mark.  Of course it was the nicest mile marker with decorations of a plant/flower of some kind.  When I say mile mark: people are able to tell where they are via an app on the phone.  Often there is a “500” written with rocks or something like that.  It is not the highway; there are not green signs every mile of the trail.  This 420 mile mark reeked of marijuana.  There was not a rolled up joint for every hiker to celebrate there completion of 420 miles.  Although, that is a thought for some trail magic…just saying.  No instead the smell is radiating from a plant called “Poodle Dog Bush” Which, is an invasive noxious plant that grows rapidly after a wildfire rages.  It is similar to poison-oak and can really mess up your hike.  I am entering a pretty long section infested with it.
420 Miles done!  I get a gold star?

In the heat of the day, I am picking my way through the poison plant.  It sucked, I was miserable, “get me out of here” I thought.  At one point, I am sideways on the trail trying to avoid touching the plant to my left, while not touching it on my right.  I am covered in sweat and so uncomfortable.  Then I hear it.  Like glass shattering.  The high pitched sound of a rattler.  “Oh eff me, I think”  standing still as to not touch any plant or startle the snake more, I try to figure out where the snake is.  I can’t see anything, the trail is all overgrown and there is no sight to the ground.  Shit.  Kill me now, I think.  A few deep breaths later and I am able to make out what I think is the snake.  So I continue picking my way through the poodle dog bush.  The snake seems to be getting louder, but surely he will understand my predicament?  Not how it works?  So I got out of that situation, walked for ten minutes or so to relax then found a place to regroup.  Laying on my back, with my feet up; I think to myself, Joey relax.  It is just a stupid plant and a little reptile.  You are suppose to be hiking 50 miles a day.  You are suppose to be a badass.  Suck it up and stop being a pussy!  And sure enough that worked.  I keep hiking on for a ways.  Dripping sweat and losing my mind.  When I looked up and realized that I had startled a young female “airing out” a little ways off the trail.  She covered up sort of, but remained topless.  I awkwardly tried not to be awkward.  I kept my glance forward on the trail, but tried to be friendly, as though not ignoring her.  Yes, real smooth Joey.  We deduced that it was hot out (thus the nudity) and I wished her a good day as I moved on.  Feeling dumb, I got a chuckle about the encounter.  Thinking to myself, “whelp, I don’t know if I could have made that more awkward” I should be used to it, all those street festivals back in San Fran.  But I guess it just caught me off guard.  This kind of thing happens on the trail, not super often.  But I can’t count the times where I hadn’t seen someone for hours and decide I am just going to change my shorts right here.  And then magically there is always someone walking around the bend.  And I get to do the, “OH, HEY, nice day huh?”  So it is good to receive for a change, or give, I don’t know.  

Poodle Dog Bush, it even looks like a cannabis plant
Focus! Yes back to…what was I doing again?  Oh yea, dripping sweat, getting fried and losing my mind.  Like the scene from the movies, I reached the next water.  Running, lunging forward and falling to my knees.  Face plant H2O style.  Water never tasted so good.  I was actually excited for the next nine miles.  It was a huge descent down to my resupply.  I thought, “I am going to rip this up and be flying” all full of myself.  And full of **it I was.  I ran a bit but my quads started giving out, damn this is a long descent.  Finally, I popped out at the road and was basically limping.  I walked/hobbled over to the Acton KOA and was surprised by the hoard of thru hikers.  It was like a music festival, only dirtier…if that is possible.  Got my package from the store and sprawled out on the lawn to repack my pack.  So I want you to visualize when you are packing for a trip and you have your stuff all spread out on the bed at home.  Okay, now that is me, except on the grass, with my shoes off and feet up on the picnic bench.  I see a nice looking fella come over and kneel down by the sprinkler box.  He starts poking at it with a screwdriver he has procured from his pocket (looks like he has done this before).  I ask, “oh are you going to turn the sprinklers on? Do I need to move?”  He looks up at me and grunts.  Since he wasn’t adamant about it, and didn’t make more notion as I stayed put, I figured, NO, no Joey, you do not have to move, you will not get wet.  Well you shouldn’t assume…ASS.  Sure enough the water starts spraying and now I am doing the Chinese fire drill trying to move all my stuff to a safe zone.  All in all, pretty hilarious…just not for me.  It was nice to get wet, but my electronic stuff is rather adverse to water.  I pack up in huff and retreat back to the trail before cursing too much and making a scene.  As I am walking uphill from the KOA, the tiredness sets in.  I thought I was going to hike on for another three or so hours.  I decide if I am this tired, I must need the rest.  Bed early, wake early and make up for it.  I realize in writing this, this was by and far my most “exciting” or “dramatic” day on the trail.  TouchĂ© KOA
I get to go all the way down there!

Monday, July 20, 2015

PCT Day 8: California Soul; music is a rockin'

Day 8  5-26-2015  Sleep 2200-400
Miles 354-401

Not that is how you start
The sunrise this morning was amazing above a valley inversion.  The trail was nice pine needley dirt engulfed in huge pine trees.  I felt like I was in heaven.  When “California Soul” came on my shuffle, I turned it loud and got proud with my Cali soul.  I miss Cali.  I reminisced about living in the bay area a few years ago as the trail continued a long the ridge all day right next to the Angeles Crest highway.  I took a break in one of the parking lots as the trail crossed the road and was about to head up a big climb.  I dried my feet good and got to chat with a few other hikers.  When it was time to move again, I felt refreshed.  I was powering up the climb.  I could look up and see a beautiful Sun Dog or 22° halo.  There is a song by Lord Huron called “In the Wind”  and there is a ski edit titled “Sun Dog”(Sun Dog Video if you got a minute) that uses the song, that we (My skimo partner) and I highly enjoy.  We often sing the words as we are losing our minds on the longer days as a joke or mood lifter.  Well the song came on my shuffle.  I couldn’t help but be instantly teleported to the Wasatch mountains covered in snow.  I felt numb and couldn’t tell if I was walking uphill in the snow with skis on my feet or hiking the PCT.  Didn’t matter.  I just started crying and moving faster, I was numb.  What an experience, I live for these moments!  I reached the top of the hill, sobered up and got back to business.  Nothing like 5-10-15 minutes of free, easy, no effort movement to get me further up the trail.  I cruised along the crest the rest of the day.  I didn’t hate on the road walk that was part of the detour.  Most times I would get upset that I was walking along the road.  Especially when you are on such a beautiful trail and then you get plopped out next to cars with their exhaust and inconsiderate drivers.  I mean I know there is a double yellow line, but there isn’t another car on the road for miles.  I think you could scooch over and give me more than just a foot of space as you wiz past me doing 40 mph.  Enough about fatties who never ran a day in their lives.  I was exhausted when the sun went down, but on a downhill.  I tried to just keep the mojo going, but faded.  I ate, brushed my teeth and passed out right next to the road.  
Caption This
"Like a sound you hear
That lingers in your ear
But you can't forget
From sundown to sunset
It's all in the air
You hear it everywhere
No matter what you do
It's gonna grab a hold on you" 
-California Soul
Perfect Pine Needley Forest Trail
"You've been in the wind, you've been on my mind
You are the purest soul I've ever known in my life" 
-In The Wind, finally got the lyrics
Musics rockin' and I'm high as you'd like
Sorry, the day just kind of faded too:-/

PCT Day 7: California Love, we keep it rocking

Day 7  5-25-2015   Sleep 2215-415
Miles 302-354

Peace and Love everybody!
      As the sun rose, I realized how absolutely beautiful the canyon I was in really was.  The trail was cut into the side of the canyon the whole way, nothing more than a two foot ledge.  It was rolling downhill and once again I was cruising.  When I crossed Deep creek for the last time at the bottom, I stood right in the creek to soak my feet while I cameled up.  I knew it was going to be a long hot section in the sun and it was already feeling hot at nine or so in the morning.  Boy was I right.   I kept trucking but I felt like I was totally out of it.  I was glad my pack weighed next to nilch.  This was the first test of my nutrition training and man was it paying off.  I packed enough food from Paradise CafĂ© to barely make it to Cajon canyon.  If I felt like I wasn’t going to make it, I would suck up the four miles and get a resupply in Big Bear Lake.  Well as I rolled by Big Bear, I decided with confidence that yes indeed I would go for it and I would surely make it.  I had three Nature Valley bars and two packets of Ramen at the start of the day. 1,300 calories for 40 miles.  I got this easy I thought.  Why? Because for over a year I have been working on my nutrition.  I discovered that, indeed the human body is capable of a lot more than anyone thinks.  It might be uncomfortable, but you can go very far with no food and limited water.  So training; all winter long, I would have my big meal at night 1700-1800 because that is when our employee meal is, I know the time.  I would go to bed.  Get up 5-6 in the morning.  Get all my ski gear together/on and start hiking.  I would hike for as long as I could without eating anything.  Then I would slowly sip on juice I had packed along.  Often times this meant I hadn’t eaten anything for 15-16 hours.  And I would slowly be supplying some carbohydrate for the body to use up immediately.  Often times I would hike for eight to ten hours on two or three liters of juice.  On days I was spoiled I would also have some energy cake leftover from the evening past.  Why would I do this?  Well it works out nice that you save time not packing a lunch and don’t have to carry it.  But no, the real reason is to teach my body to get used to running on fat and fat only.  Also, to get used to how it feels mentally to only run on fat.  It is important for your body to be able to utilize fat very well, but equally important you have to be comfortable with the feeling.  It is different then when you have some carbohydrate.  When you have carbohydrate you feel fresher and crisper mentally.  When you are running on fat, you feel sluggish and foggy mentally.  Once you get used to the feeling though, it is not that bad. 
When the sax part of Baker Street comes on, flying
      And so, I knew I had some food, but if I had to I could make it to Cajon Canyon with nothing more.  Carrying less food, means less weight.  Less weight is important when you are doing something like this.  Less weight means less work, which means less calories burned.  It also means less work your muscles do and less impact when running downhill.  On a hot day, you ultimately are doing less work, therefore creating less heat and staying “cooler” And by having a lighter pack, mentally I feel lighter and feel more like running or moving faster.  Yes, I am that obsessive and nit picky, every little thing makes a difference when you are going long.  So cruising through the heat feeling lighter and cooler, I reached the top of the ridge.  All that was left was the long downhill to my resupply at Cajon Canyon.  A Cheveron…my favorite resupply (gas station).  I felt like I didn’t even have a pack on at all.  Such a good feeling had me flying.  I got to the road and started the rehearsal of my resupply.  I got my OJ and all while drinking, I fill my stuff sack with the appropriate amount of junk food.  I was out quick, damn I am getting good at this.  As I went under the bridge overpass, there was a group of hiker’s setup for the night playing drinking games.  They offered me a beer and told me to setup camp with them.  Man, I sure would have loved to.  No thanks was all I said as I kept walking.  All I could think was, I still got another ten or so miles to hike…probably as many as they did the whole day to get there, ugh.  My pack felt so heavy in comparison, damn I thought, this is what 200 miles worth of food feels like.  Wait it is only 100 miles to the next resupply. That is right! I got extra food to pig out while I walk up this hill.  And so the feast began.  Luckily for me, I can’t eat that fast while walking and it saves me from over doing it and laying comatose on the side of the trail.  None the less, my stomach hurt and I thought I might knock it off.  The last hour and a half I didn’t eat a thing and my stomach finally cleared.  Perfect. Set up camp and passed out satisfied with a great week of hiking, well running, or speedmoving? What am I doing?  And also a feeling of vindication of my training and that it is working for me.  
Bomber trail, dem ridges; got me excited!
There is a sunrise and sunset everyday, go get it!
Delicate Sky

Sunday, July 19, 2015

PCT Day 6: The River

Day 6  5-24-15  Sleep 2145-400
Miles 251.5-302

I was right: slept amazing.  I didn’t want to get up in the morning, because I was sleeping so well, but also because it was so cold.  But Canada on my mind.  I was up and moving fast to stay warm.  I moved well for the first ten hours of the day, the music was hitting the spot, the trail easy, the views beautiful; I was flowing, in the river.  My philosophy on life; The River; go with the flow and it is all downhill.  You can eddy out when you want, portage if you need, or just send that waterfall when you feel like it (I thought I was reading a hiking trip report, not philosophical babblings)   It was getting hot in the afternoon and I was exposed in the sun the entire way.  When I stopped to get water and dry out my feet, I lost all momentum.  My feet were pretty wet and so I spent the little extra time making sure they were dry.  I continued slowly running on this apparently never ending descent.  All I wanted to do was walk and looked forward to some uphill.  It never came, the trail rolled along a river and then into a flat valley.  The beautiful sunset only slightly distracted me from the fact that I was fried, needed water and desperately wanted to walk.  Finally, I hit Deep creek and was able to camel up for the night.  I also got to walk uphill, for about 500 feet.  Then it was rolling trail cut into the side of the canyon.  I trudged on and finally setup camp in a bend in the trail.  I was warned that there was no camping for the next 12 miles or so, but when you are just bivying you don’t need much.  Also, setting up late and leaving early, I have no problem sleeping right on the trail a night or two, which tonight I was.  
Big Bear
Hot and sunny, makes my thoughts funny
Im goin down, down, down, down
Finally; some Boss

Saturday, July 18, 2015

PCT Day 5: Uphill Battle

Day 5  5-23  Sleep 2145-530
Miles 204.8-251.5

Well I slept in, not on purpose.  I had only been using my watch for an alarm, as to save my phone battery.  I must have hit the button to stop the alarm without knowing or did not hear it because of the wind.  Either way I woke up at 530 instead of 400, whoops.  Well I am sure that the hot section I have to hike through today will be even more fun now, seeing as how I will be there more like 1200 then 1030.  Anyhow, I was cruising and it felt good.  After a while though, I couldn’t help but feel like every step was uphill and I was just crawling along.  Well, it was!  I climbed about 7,000 net vertical feet.  I therefore had no reason to get upset about how much walking I did for the day.  Finally, I reached a place with a view.  And what a view.  I could not tell, but I assumed there was a lake down on the horizon and thus the reason the fog-cloud had pooled in that valley.  Gorgeous!  If I could, I would have set up camp there and watch the sun set right into the cloud.  But I seem to remember I am trying to get to Canada as fast as my legs will carry me, so onward.  It was nice and cool in the early evening, which was a pleasant change of pace to the temperature all day.  I knew I was in for a cold night of sleeping, which I always sleep really well in the cold and was excited for that.  I ate dinner and walked on in the cold, having trouble seeing through my breath in my headlamps light.  Finally, I said enough and laid up for the night. 
Good morning sleepy head
Finally up in the cool
From all the way down there, to here
Short write up today, figured I would let the pictures do the talking

Thursday, July 16, 2015

PCT Day 4: Mt San Jacinto

Day 4  5-22-2015  Sleep 2200-317
Miles 159.7-204.8

Woke up to rain drops dripping on my head.  It was 3:17am, 43 minutes before my alarm.  I figured I might as well get up, get going and finish the road walk section before too many cars were out.  It was windy with the rain kind of spitting, which made for a cold morning.  I was on the Hurkey Creek section when I clipped a low hanging branch.  It grabbed my rain jacket (must have just been a funny angle) and I heard a loud rip.  Looking down, I let out a slight curse, but kept moving.  I had a foot long gash in the torso section of my jacket.  When the rain let up for a bit, I took the jacket off and taped it with duct tape.  It didn’t really hold and I could tell was not going to be a long term fix.  The next thing I did was check my phone for cell service.  Bingo, searched outfitters and found “Nomad Ventures” in Idyllwild only 1.9 miles off the trail.  At the store I was also able to pick up a thermal top and some wool socks.  I didn’t have any warm layers yet, as I thought I was going to be hot in the desert. 
Fuller Ridge in the fog and rime
I got out of town and had a wonderful, fog engulfed, spitting rain/snow traverse of Mt. San Jacinto.  The nice thing about being cold, whether you are tired, hungry, thirsty, you are constantly reminded that you are cold.  The best way to get warm; is move and move faster.  I think this helped me make quick time around the mountain.  Finally, in the afternoon after descending the Fuller ridge a bit, the sun came out and warmed me to the bone.  I stopped at one windy spot and was able to dry out my gear and my feet really quick.  My feet had gotten pretty soggy and it was nice to have them dry and hard again.  In sitting there, I was staring up at Mt San Jacinto in aw.  It was a gorgeous peak, half engulfed in cloud, the other half baking in the sun.  I couldn’t believe I had just traversed this peak.  I daydreamed about skiing it.  The North had two or three basins that had many chutes that came together into a massive run-out.  I would imagine if we got the planet some few degrees colder and a good snow year; you could ski the beast from the peak ~10,800 all the way down to ~1,800 feet.  9,000 feet of gloriousness.  Haha yup, this is what I dream about. 

All the way down there, then back up
Ski mountaineering was a big part of my training.  During the winter I averaged about 5k vertical climbing everyday with ski’s on my feet.  This not only got the legs, lungs and heart in shape but also keeps the fat off and makes the transition to running much easier.  All of this hiking was done at an elevation of ~8-11k feet, which helps get you used to the high elevations faced in the Sierras.  The PCT is claimed to have 450k vertical for the entire 2,650 miles.  That is 170 feet per mile average and thus in a 50 mile day you should average 8.5k vertical feet.  So basically, for four months straight through (it would be five or six months, but it just didn’t snow this year) I was doing about two thirds the vertical I would have to do on the PCT.  That kind of training gives you the confidence it takes to tackle such an endeavor.  However; descending on ski’s is much easier than in shoes.  I made my way on what seemed like a never ending descent.  I thought for sure in an hour and a half to two hours I would have made it down to the highway.  Well I ended up giving up on the notion of making the highway tonight and found a nice little camp spot cut into the side of the hill.  I was tired, it was a long day and I was supremely satisfied once more, this time with how I handled the adversity of ripping my jacket and some cold wet weather. 
I thought an all night tour was great training for the PCT; Aaron Rice before the sunrise
Mt San Jacinto