Monday, August 31, 2015

PCT Day 27: Happy Birthday Mike->Firecracker->Run Like an Antelope->All Night Long

Day 27 6-14-2015  Sleep 2000 – 500
Miles 1198 – 1252

            Well I snoozed, thinking it was the right thing to do.  But here at 530 it was already warm and I was thinking I made a mistake.  After a good size climb, the trail traversed along the mountain.  The views were spectacular and had me in a good mood.  I was moving a long the ridge with no hustle to my day.  I was hoping to put in a big day, especially after yesterday and it was my brother’s birthday.  Neither things seemed to motivate me out of cruise control and I moseyed on.  Finally, I ran into a hiker named “Firecracker” We hiked a long for a ways.  He knew all about FKTs and ultra running.  He asked me a lot of questions about diet, training, music.  He was excited to hear that Phish and Grateful Dead took up the majority of space on my ipod.  I told him I was in a bit of a funk and just not having the best day.  He understood why I might be tired and understood speed hiking on a long trail.  He said that I knew it was just about putting one foot in front of the other and putting in the hours.   Yes, I knew, and something clicked. 
Certainly no shortage of beauty, just shortage of photos
            We reached his friend who was just ahead of us hiking on the trail.  We said our goodbyes and well wishes.  As I turned to flee, Firecracker sang “Run run run run run run run run run run run….” I smiled as he was singing “Run like an Antelope” by Phish.  Well I ran.  I had a spark now and the fire started.  Like someone had lit a fire under my ass, or firecracker.  It was smooth terrain and I was flying.  I wanted to get as close to Belden as possible today to make my resupply tomorrow earlier.  I also still wanted that big day.  I ran and ran and ran, it felt so good.  I was in the zone and not feeling a thing.  Well hello there mr mountain lion.  At least I shone my light in his direction instead of passing without notice.  I picked up my pace for good measure.  The way I am feeling right now, I could out run a mountain no problem, or take it down with one blow and not miss a step.  I love this feeling.  It was getting late and my head was bobbing.  Okay, quick nap I thought.  I made my way up most of the climb, but saved some for the flip side.

“Set the gearshift to the high gear of your soul

You’ve got to run like an antelope out of control”

2000 (8pm) When I finally started moving
I loved the lighting here

Friday, August 28, 2015

PCT Day 26: Owie My Feet Hurt

Day 26 6-13-2015   Sleep 2200 – 400
Miles 1155 – 1198

            39 miles to go to Sierra City.  They close at 1900.  I have 15 hours to go 41 miles.  Piece of cake I thought.  But shouldn’t I wake up first?  Sometimes, it feels like you don’t even sleep.  You blink and it is six hours later.  Those were my thoughts going to bed and therefore first thought in my mind upon waking.  I crossed the highways and was feeling good.  Big piece of cake I thought.  So the first decision I made was to get lost for probably about a mile and a half.  So you see; Donner Lake has a rim trail.  They use a crest pretty much identical to the PCT and very similar color scheme.  I was running and reached an intersection.  I saw the double crest on a sign that said to the right.  So of course I didn’t stop and just booked it right.  Well cruising along feeling awesome, I reached another intersection.  This time, I did stop.  I only saw the one crest.  It was the Donner Lake crest.  Hmm.  Which way is the PCT though?  I pulled out my map.  It looked like I was supposed to take a left at and intersection a ways back.  But that can’t be, I saw the crest.  Maybe someone messed with the sign?  Who would do that?  So I hustled back, trying not to be too bent out of shape about it.  When I got to the original intersection, I saw who messed with the sign…the people who put it up.  There were two crests.  Two Donner Lakes crests.   Then I saw the often difficult to make out wood engraved sign that said PCT to the left.  No crest.  Why did they make the Donner Lake crest so similar?  Why did they put up two crests?  Why do they make those wood engraved signs that you can’t even read?  Why don’t you just hike faster and stop whinning?  Fine. 33 miles to go and 11 hours to do it.  3 mph should be easy.  But you need time to actually shop at the store.  Then hike faster!
            So hiking on faster down the trail, I decided I would call the store and double check the hours.  A lady answered, told me they closed at six and I crapped my pants.  How could this day go any worse?  But I was booking along a smooth, rolling, soft trail.  Okay things are going to be Okay.  Well, let me tell you how they could get worse.  I reached the top of a descent.  My feet had really dried out these last two days since the rainy/soggy days before.  They had dried out so much so, that the bottom of my feet were cracking and bleeding.  Now, this descent was rocky.  Very rocky and cobble sized rocks.  The ones that roll your ankle left, right and every direction up, down and in between.  My skin was cracking and it was painful.  All I wanted to do was stop shoving my foot into rocks and feeling the pain of the skin being pulled apart.  “But I got to get to the store!”  So with tears in my eyes, a grimace upon my face, I trucked on.  When I hit the road, it felt good on my feet.  That is sad, but the smoothness of the asphalt eased the torque on the skin of my feet. 

I passed a man sitting on his porch. He said hi and I back.  Then he said I looked beat.  I said I was, but would be better once I get to the store.  He said, the store? Closes at 5 I reckon.  WHAT?  Okay thanks and I was sprinting again.  It was 1720, no way did I sprint that whole way to miss the store.  It really didn’t matter now if I hustled.  They either closed at 1700 and I missed it, or they close at 1800 and I have 40 minutes. Well I had thirty minutes to shop, as they closed at 1800.  Thirty minutes is not exactly a lot of time, especially if you want to pig out and buy more and so forth.  But that was a good thing, get me out of here as quick as possible.  I was fried, my legs shook if I stood still and I was an eye close away from falling asleep standing.  I got my OJ and all my groceries.  I packed up and started walking.  Good work.  But I had forgotten my feet hurt.  They were hurting so bad, I just had to stop.  On the side of the road, I took my shoes off and put my feet up on the hill.  I leaned against my pack.  I napped a little.  I was so exhausted and I was feeling pretty sick.  I had really pushed myself today and I knew tomorrow I would pay.  I finally got my energy up.  Walked the rest of the road and up the trail a bit.  Finding the first semi-level spot, I set up for the night.  It was so early, but I was so tired.  The extra rest will help me get over this cold I thought.  


No pictures again, I guess I was just rushing all day. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

PCT Day 25: Youre My Boy Blue

Day 25 6-12-2015  Sleep 2100-430
Miles 1106 – 1155

            I made my way up the pass, it was already twilight.  Geez, these days are getting long.  But that is why I like the northbound late spring hike.  You get the most day light.  Otherwise, the way to speed hike these long trails is really southbound starting late July or early August.  But this year there wasn’t any snow, so might as well use the sun.  The reflections on the still lakes set the mood for the day.  Calm and smooth.  There were a lot of downed trees in this section, but it wasn’t taking me out of my rhythm.  No instead, I was jumping over them like the steeple chase.  Maybe I was feeling better, maybe my pack lighter; didn’t matter.  It was putting me in a mood.  That kind of mood where you feel invincible, like you can tackle any problem.  I climbed up hill a bit and saw an oasis.  “I see blue” “he looks glorious” Lake Tahoe.  The Tahoe rim trail is on my list to tackle.  And here I am hiking at least a little section of it.  It was getting hot though.  I was losing pace and day dreaming of jumping in the nice cold lake.  Instead I tried to nap in the shade.  But it was too hot and miserable, so I gave up after 30 minutes.
Dicks Pass: Five in the morning

            I made my way past Alpine Meadows up on the west side of the ridge.  Finally the sun was getting lower in the sky and cooling down.  I passed through Squaw daydreaming of being surrounded by snow and cold.  I saw my first bear, all the way down a hill and across a meadow.  I watched her; looked like she was B-lining it for something.  Then I remembered the group of three hikers and two dogs I just past.  They were set up for the night and grilling out over a fire.  I had said hello and made small talk.  The lady asked me if I was hiking with a dog.  I looked down and around to see if there was actually a dog (this happened to me on the AT)  No dog….hmm and I thought I was losing it.  Well it looks like they are in for a long night.  I passed Tinker Knob and the sun was setting.  It was spectacular.  The sun set just kept going.  Will this ever end?  Kind of how some of these days feel like, will it ever end?  I made my way across the ridge and then took to the descent.  I was fried and so too were my quads.  It was a struggle.  So much so, that I decided to go to bed and try to be better tomorrow. 
Smooth and Calm
I See Blue!
What is zee fuk is a Chinese Downhill?
A whole 'nother hour of this

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

PCT Day 24: Real Shorts

Day 24 6-11-2015  Sleep 2300-330
Miles 1065 – 1106

            Deep sleep, wide awake.  30 miles to my resupply.  Have to get there before 1400.  I have a goal, I have broken it down; 400 to 1400 is ten hours, 30 miles; is three miles an hour.  All I got to do is beat 3mph.  Easy enough.  I was moving well and with the sun in the sky, I couldn’t help but have a feeling of surviving.  The sierras behind me, the storms behind me, the tough stuff tackled.  A little phlegm in the back of my throat, but no worse for wear.  I would get to Echo Lakes, shed some weight, get some new gear, feel refreshed and be flying.  I reached a parking lot with tons of tourists; get me out of here!  It was highway 50 Carson pass.  Suddenly, I knew where I was.  I remember only a few years ago skiing at Kirkwood.  It was actually one of my favorite places to ski.  Wow, how skiing has changed for me.  The “Wall” my favorite spot.  Where I tore my meniscus one superbowl Sunday.  When everyone else at the cabin was hung over and didn’t make the trek; it was my brother who trucked on out there.  God, I miss my brother, I love my brother.  I wanted to call him right then.  But my phone has been less than 20% for days and I refuse to turn it on unless it is an emergency.  It hadn’t mattered as it had been raining and I wouldn’t have been able to use it anyway.  But now it was nice and sunny and I wanted to hear my brothers voice.  I decided I just needed to be patient and/or run faster to Echo Lakes.  I was tired though and feeling a bit sick, so I just made pace and thought about how awesome my brother is.  
Morning Tahoe

            I rolled into Echo Lakes about 1330 and realize that it was a store tailored for PCT hikers and they would have grabbed my package at any time.  Well, you live and learn.  But it really didn’t make much difference, I didn’t stress about getting there.  I got my package, some snacks and sprawled out on the lawn.  I soaked up the sun and repacked.  I called my brother of course and we talked for a good 10-15 minutes.  I wanted to talk all day, but I knew I had to be on my way.  Geez, this never ends? Belly stuffed, I headed back onto the trail feeling a bit light headed, weak and not motivated; I just walked slowly uphill reminiscing about past lives.  I was thinking about how much my life had changed from high school to college to a career to a ski bum.  Haha, it was kind of like my day yesterday.  I smiled; life lessons.  It was beautiful around all these lakes, I wanted to keep hiking, but I was exhausted and thought if I was sick, a little extra rest would help.  I ate dinner early and once more watched the sunset from bed.  
Ahh sunshine, much better!
Tired, but not tired of the views

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

PCT Day 23: Life is Good

Day 23   6-10-2015    Sleep 030-800
Miles 1019 – 1065
           
            It was still raining so I slept longer.  I wanted to quit so bad.  Well there is a road in thirty miles.  I guess I will start hiking(I know there is a road a mile behind, but what did I say, no hiking backwards).  It was absolutely pouring at the top of Wolf Creek pass.  There was a lot of snow and so I thought I would give the glissade a go.  But no. The rain had soaked the snow pack and turned it too mush.  I was post holing up to my crotch.  I was freezing cold.  This sucks.  I yelled, I cursed.  Didn’t matter, there was no one around.  I had seen maybe five people since Glen Aulin.  I freaked out.  Went ape shit.  I was trouncing through bushes and trees, not feeling a thing.  Adrenaline will do that to you.  I just want to get out of here.  I was sprinting, well more like sloshing around until I got low enough and was on dirt trail again.  But I am moving as fast as I can to get out of here.  The faster I go, the harder the rain seems.  Fine be that way.  Finally, hitting dirt I make my way on an angle to where I think the trail should be.  Back on the trail I relax a bit.  But I am still just over this, wanting to get out of here. 

            After a long descent, I finally get a chance to walk.  Walking uphill I get to relax and regroup.  Just keep moving forward and eventually your mind will change…that was the best I could get to.  I felt like I was getting a bit sick.  I had some phlegm in my throat and just felt exhausted.  Just keep moving.   Eventually it worked.  After about eight hours of absolutely getting poured on, it worked.  I hit highway 4 and without even a thought, I crossed it quickly and kept moving.  The rain let up.  Wait, the sky is clearing.  The trail was bomber dirt.  Oh boy.  I ran and ran.  The sun had set but I was nice and warm, and drying out. I cruised on, I couldn’t help it.  The trail begged me to run and I couldn’t resist.  I had that feeling again, you know that feeling.  Your hair stands up, you get a chill down your spine and you go numb.  You know yes, this is it.  Runners high.  So some of you have never felt this before or haven’t quite recognized it.  But it is like a mini orgasm.  You know that climatic feeling, same.  It is awesome!  I was in a good place mentally again.  Wow, how the day can turn.  I remembered, I get to resupply tomorrow.  I get a new auxiliary battery, shorts, t-shirt and dry bag.  Man life is good.  With that declared, I posted up camp for the night.  I tried to dry my feet the best I could before my eyes closed for good. I was tired!

No pictures for today, it was raining and my phone was dying.

Monday, August 24, 2015

PCT Day 22: Rain in my Brain

Day 22 6-8-2015  Sleep 2200-400
Miles 971-1019

            A few punchy climbs and long descents had me feeling good.  Also, I was making good time.  I was thinking I was finally back to feeling as close to 100% one can feel when averaging 47 miles per day.  Some dark clouds had me thinking about putting on my rain gear.  But I resisted and made the correct call.  A few sprinkles didn’t make much difference.  The trail was meandering through grassy valleys and everything was flooded.  Once again, my feet were swimming.  I knew it would be tough and I would have to be on my game for any opportunity to dry my feet.  I passed the 1,000 mile mark and it felt good.  I remember thinking damn, that is a lot of miles, only 1,650 more to go! I think that for most people, that might be hard to fathom.  But everyone who has ever done an endurance event knows you just got to piece it together.  My brain works like this… 1,650 miles divided by three miles per hour is 550 hours.  125 hours a week would have me done in 4.4 weeks.  4.4 weeks is one month.  So only one month, damn time flies!
No Battery, Lots of rain: the only picture I took this day
            As I made my way up Kennedy canyon and the last big climb for the day, the clouds got dark and I knew I would be treated to a light show and a break.  Sure enough, crack, and I dove under a large uprooted tree.  Break time.  I took off my shoes to let my feet breath, but I knew there was no way I was getting them dry.  I was about 36 or so miles into the day.  I thought if I had to stay here for the night, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.  But I was pissed, No! I am not letting this happen again.  I want the miles.  So, when the lightning was seemingly over, I got my garbage bag out and installed the moving shelter.  I put my head through a hole I made in the bag and close it nice around my neck.  Now I have a garbage bag draped over my shoulders, torso, backpack, arms and legs.  I also have on my rain jacket and rain pants.  I am invincible, well I feel it sort of. 

            Up up up I climb, warm.  Almost too warm.  But I am not taking off my last bit of comfort.  As I reach the top, the rain had pretty much stopped.  A new problem had arisen.  Fog.  I was completely socked in and it made route finding difficult.  Then it started to snow/rain mix.  Big wet flakes that melted as soon as they hit me.  At one point, I headed down the wrong direction.  Almost immediately realizing that I lost the trail I headed right back the way I came.  At least I thought.  Now I am wondering around just trying to find the trail.  I wasn’t too long and I was pretty sure which direction to head.  My mind was heading to a dark place.  I was really just over this late afternoon/early night cold wet weather.  I knew I had to do something to change my mind, get it thinking positive.  But I didn’t have the answer.  I reached the road and the rain had stopped.  I kept walking.  I knew if I kept walking past the road, even if I felt like quitting when I woke, I would not walk backwards.   Therefore; I would have to walk a ways before I could actually quit, thus giving me time to really think about it.  A little ways up, I found a spot under a boulder and accepted my camp for the night.  I felt like quitting, but I know to sleep on big decisions.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

PCT Day 21: Beautiful Valley (s)

Day 21 6-8-2015   Sleep 2200-400    
Miles 928.3 – 971
            
Cool Valley

            Early morning cruising down from the pass, into a gorgeous valley and on my way to resupply.  Yeah, I was feeling good.  It was cold in the valley inversion, which kept me moving fast to stay warm.  Finally, I felt the sun and the road.  Three tenths of a mile and I was grocery shopping.  The store was a mad house, they didn’t have some items I was looking for.  I kind of panicked and got in line behind ten or so people.  I couldn’t help but get upset at the tourists buying a soda.  Seriously, you drove up here and now you are waiting in this line just a buy a soda at nine in the morning.  You don’t have anything in your car?  Do you really need soda to fuel your half mile walk and to take pictures from your car?  I want people to experience nature and beautiful places; but so many people do it wrong.  Driving and pulling off to take pictures.  It irks me so much.  If you are going to do that, just sit at home at your computer.  It is called google images.  Well, I have enough energy to get upset.  I must have gotten the rest I needed.  I got out of the store and found a sunny spot.  Drying my feet, eating a block of cheese and repacking my bag took me only a few minutes.  I wanted to get out of the mad house asap. 
Tuolumne River

            Back on the trail, a sense of relief came to me.  Back with my peps; the dirt, rocks, trees and horses?  Holy horses!  I had to wait to let a group of four riders go by, each rider had five or six horses in tow.  It took awhile and couldn’t help but think about how much respect I have for horses.  They scare the shit out of me.  They are big and all muscle.   Also, they might be able to beat me in a long distance race.  After the last one passed, I made my way.  Maybe I scare the shit out of them too!  Because the trail is covered in fresh horse droppings.  Yummy.  Making my way through Glen Aulin was stunning.  Picturesque with big powerful water falls.  My pack was heavy but I knew in only 150 miles, I would be able to send some stuff home and I would be at lower elevations.  In the afternoon I got showered on for a bit, which wasn’t bad at all.  But I was making my way through some low spots, valleys and fields.  My feet were swimming in the fresh extra water added to the scene.  Suddenly, I was getting attacked by mosquitoes.  That is what I forgot, DEET, damn’eet!   So I put my jacket on and hung my thermal top from my waistband.  A trick I made up on the AT.  If it is too hot to cover up, just hang a long sleeve upside down from your waistband.  As long as you are moving, the sleeves will swing around your legs and prevent the mosquitoes from landing on your legs.  A little warm, but comfortable.  Not need to be sticky gross with Deet, also I find I have to apply deet almost every hour.  I traveled well as the sun set and was in a good mood.  I found a place to sleep.  I made sure my feet were nice and dry and passed out.

Coolest nook I've ever seen


Soggy Feet


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

PCT Day 20: Mammoth Lakes and Pancakes

Day 20 6-7-2015   Sleep 2100-430
Miles 887.4 – 928.3
           
One of the coldest mornings on trail: Lake Virginia
            I woke.  It was real!  I got the rest I needed, but I felt like I had miles to make up.  I didn’t get near as far as I liked and now I have more things to do at Red Meadows (figure out a rain jacket, order a new aux battery) not to mention, it will be the first time in seven or eight days having cell service and thus internet.  The trail was easy, at least my body made it seem.  I ran the whole way.  My legs and feet floating over the ground.  I love when I am “running” I don’t have to look at my footing.  I am moving so fast and light, that whatever misstep I take is fixed before I even realize.  I can stare off at the scenery around me.  But then I was flailing forward, couldn’t quite get the legs under and I was face first in the dirt.  I got up and dusted myself off.  Meanwhile, looking back to see what got me.  A 2” diameter stump back 50 feet in the middle of the trail, that someone had cut off a couple inches from the ground.  Nothing pisses me off more!  People come out here to maintain the trail, which I appreciate.  But then they do a half ass job and make it more dangerous.  Of course, it is me and a few other people that are running the trail and not staring down at our footing that might suffer; so I will shut up.  I was amazed at how far I traveled in what seemed like such a short time.  Either I was really moving fast, or my perception of time is quickening; both are good if you are going for as far and fast as you can go.  I got busy right away at Red Meadows.  The resupply there was limit both in choice and quantity.  When I asked the cashier about it, he replied, “yeah, we opened early this year” Which, I just nodded to.  But couldn’t help but think; I just passed the bubble (main group of hikers) they are coming your way, don’t you restock?  Good thing I was only going one day to Tuolumne Meadows. I would take my chance of them having better options.  I had good cell service, so I decided I would eat breakfast at the CafĂ© while I did my internet shopping.  I ordered my three breakfast choices and the waitress asked if there was anyone else joining.  Part of me is highly amused at this whole “Joey eats a lot” business, but really it is embarrassing.  I also find it amusing that I can’t get six pancakes on one plate.  Instead they have to do the three orders of two.  I wrapped everything up and was off.   Not terrible for how much I accomplished.

It was quite the view all afternoon
            Now, I only have one stomach.  So I have the egg breakfast, omelet and six pancakes sloshing around in syrup in my belly as I am trying to walk uphill in the midday sun and heat.  It was a little uncomfortable, but I was super carb-loaded, or I am coining the term “carb-bloated” In a few hours I knew I would feel amazing.  As for right now, I am enjoying the stupor.  As the day cooled and my stomach cleared, I felt amazing.  It was beautiful and cool, as I was up at 10,000 feet.  I passed a bunch of Lakes with reflections of the gorgeous scenery.  Had I ate too many pancakes, had a heart attach and gone to heaven?  No, I was just getting my long-trail experience.  Seriously, go hike a long trail!  The sunset was amazing, I even stopped to watch it, while I got my warm clothes on and my dinner out…yes still hungry.  Walked and ate dinner.  Although only 42 miles were hiked; this was the day I needed.  Like if your life was a mess and you spent a whole day organizing.  Yes, you didn’t get “anything” done, but now the machine is ready to work at full efficiency.  With this sentiment, I set up camp and passed out.  
Going for artsy

Thousand Island Lake, I didn't count, but I think they over estimate

I like reflections

I actually stopped walking for a minute

The sky didn't stop though

Monday, August 17, 2015

PCT Day 19: Dreaming

Day 19 6-6-2015      Sleep 2300-200
Miles 852.2 – 887.4

               I wanted Red Meadows today, but realistically early tomorrow morning.  It was only 55 miles away though.  Surely a magical effort could get the job done.  The motivation had me moving well up a climb away from Muir Trail Ranch.  I came up to some lakes and Selden Pass.  In hindsight, this landscape was the most beautiful of the trip for me.  The sun was rising, the moon setting.  The lakes were quiet and calm.  I had a dejavu feeling, but I knew I had never been there.  It was that dejavu feeling you get when you know you are in the right place, doing the right thing.  A feeling oh so pure.  I think this helped, but I started believing that yes, yes I could do this.  55 miles ain’t that far.  At 4 mph, that is only 14 hours.  I can totally average 4 mph, I have done it before.  14 hours from 200 puts me there at 1600, three hours before they close.  I got this.  Oh really, an “I got this” chant.  Yeah, “You got this” “Yes, I got this” it is amazing how when you change your thinking, the world changes.  Gradually, it wasn’t if I make it to Red Meadows, it was when I make it to Red Meadows. 
It was a beautiful morning
            I was running downhill, everything was going well.  Then I started walking.  Joey, “Why are you walking?” Oh yeah, so I start running.  A few minutes later, walking.  Hmm, run please.  Run, walk, run, walk.  What is the matter with me?  I don’t know.  Just walk for a bit and I bet you’ll be running again in no time.  I walk for a good thirty minutes.  All I can think now is that it is downhill, I should be running, but I just keep walking.  I don’t want to walk.  Maybe I should lay down.  WHAT? Yeah, you know just a quickie, you’ll feel better.  Geez, okay.  I take my shoes off and set an alarm for 15 minutes.  I passed out.  Was I really that tired? I think, as I get my shoes on and take off.  Well think about it; you didn’t get much sleep last night.  And you raced some weather the last two afternoons.  You stressed without rest.  The formula for tired, overtraining and/or staleness.  Right okay.  Let us re think this then.  You are going to stress and race to get to Red Meadows, but then what?  I will get sick and be useless.  Okay then.  Remember you didn’t mind getting to Red Meadows early morning tomorrow? Yup. Okay so let us do that. 
Very cold though
            Content to move at a leisurely pace, I was taking in all the beauty around me.  This is awesome I think.  Why doesn’t everyone do this?  Everyone should do this.  I think you realize what is truly important to you when you are out here.  To the point it makes you think, why am I out here hiking wasting time when I should be doing ______.  But you know that you need to finish the journey and get the entire picture.  So, can I keep walking now or are you just going to stare off into space all philosophizing?  …I was walking, just not quite as fast I would like.  I was definitely not as focused as I would like to be.  I started thinking, that I really needed a good nights rest; to get my physical fitness back, but also my mental health.  A plan is always good.  So I made one.  Get over this hill and down the big descent.  Take a 90 minute nap.  Then get up over Silver pass, see how you are feeling.  Quit when you would like and make sure you get six hours of sleep.  Easy.  So it went, up, down and nap.  Well let me plug my phone into the battery to get it a charge.  When I looked inside my solar panel pouch, it wasn’t there.  BLEEP! You got to be kidding me.  The mesh was worn and had a small hole in it.  I assumed the battery was rubbing and finally went out the hole it created.  Whatever; I have broken or lost everything else it seems; I will figure out something as I have before.  I am still here trucking.  Okay, after my nap.   
Praying for the trail to be in the sun
I woke feeling well.  I started up Silver Pass.  I got to the big open basin right before the top.  I take stock of the clouds as this is my last chance to seek shelter or it is commitment to get over and down.  It doesn’t look bad at all, just go.  I start climbing the last 400 feet to get over.  Big flakes begin to fly, I look up.  Where does this come from? There were clouds but nothing crazy.  Hmm just some rogue flurries I think and keep moving.  When I reached what I thought was the top, the trail turned and had a bit more to go up.  The sky also turned.  It was socked in over this sub ridge and it was nuking big wet flakes. Here we go again.  I could barely see through the fog/cloud and big flakes hitting me in the face.  My jacket was closed around my face as tight as I could get it.  I was just peeking through a little hole at a white abyss.  But I checked the map before I got up here and I knew; you head down a shelf, pass by a lake in a northeast direction and then descend the drainage basin west northwest along the south side of a mountain.  Very specific.  None the less, I sent it.  Just full on running, post holing and almost falling flat on my face.  I used trees to get some reference, apparently getting too close to one and ripping my jacket on the arm.  I looked down, shook my head but otherwise didn’t give a hoot.  Yeah, I am so tired of this, I am not even swearing anymore.  Finally, I got my leg in a deep hole in the snow and smack. Face first into the snow and kind of somersaulting over.  Well at least I didn’t hyperextend my knee or at least I had enough adrenaline to not feel pain from hyperextending my knee.  It wasn’t long, but it felt intense; I reached some dirt and the trail.  JoeyNavigation, no need for maps or GPS.  I calmed a bit, but I was still cold and it was still snowing.  After awhile it seemed to let up, sweet.  But how am I going to get warm, I don’t really want to be stressing my body again. 
Deja Vu
Then I saw it.  A blue tarp with four nice looking hikers underneath.  I said “hi” and they told me to come under the tarp and get out of the rain and get warm for a second. I thought I would only regroup and move on, seeing as it was only 1800 and I had definitely not gotten my miles for the day.  But Brian, Jess, Erika and Brennan were all so nice.  Offering me a seat and asking if they could heat up some ramen for me.  Then they asked if I was hungry. Big mistake.  I am always hungry, but better yet I have been starving for 16 days now.  They were resupplying tomorrow, had a ton of food left and were sick of carrying the extra weight.  Well I put on a show.  I always struggle to eat around other people.  In the winter I often eat around 30 or so people.  It takes me a good 45 to 60 minutes to get in all the calories I crave.  And I have been told I need to slow down and chew my food; but IM HUNGRY.  Even for the experienced, I have been told it is quite the spectacle (me eating).  Funny thing about the Ramen, I have probably eaten close to 200 packets in my life. Basically, just last year on the AT and this year on the PCT.  But I have never cooked it before.  Brian asked me how much water to add; I said the usual (playing it safe) He said that everybody likes it different…busted!  So I told him I had never cooked it; we all chuckled and then he graciously made the decision for me.  
Last picture before preserving my phone battery

Most of the time on the trail, my conversations are limited to “how’s it going” and “have a great hike” And I don’t see very many people to begin with.  Here I was hanging out with four people who were curious about this random guy with what looks like a day pack, out in the middle of no where running through the snow.  In between mouthfuls I would try to get out my part of the conversation.  Which, I think now could be a very interesting interview technique.  Get say, a Tour de France rider after a big mountain stage.  Put a huge plate of food in front of him; he has to eat the entire plate and answer 20 questions in the allotted time.  I would watch it at least, just saying NBC Sports.  Maybe I should stop riding my bike trainer, watching the TDF, eating some pasta and veggies, while trying to write this...  It was nice to have a real conversation and I couldn’t help but feel like we had planned this trip all along; just a weekend with friends in the mountain.  What a nice dream!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

PCT Day 18: Muir Mirror on the wall

Day 18 6-5-2015   Sleep 2300-330
Miles 809.2 – 852.2

Voted prettiest morning
            I shook the snow off the lower half of my bivy.  Seems as those we got a little dusting overnight.  The moonlight reflects off of everything and creates an ethereal glow to the still dark morning.  Working my way up the trail, I am overwhelmed by the beauty.  I forget how beautiful a fresh coat of snow is in the early morning.  Especially, when the landscape still has it’s colors and is not already all white.  As I climb up along the South fork of the Kings river, I run into quite a few creek crossings.  Well it was below freezing and the normal hopping stones for crossing the creeks carried a nice gloss.  So shinny pretty, slippery, shittay.  No worries, I am a physics genius.  If I only step vertically and do not put any horizontal pressure, I won’t slip.  Well here we go. One rock.  Two rock. And ankle deep in icy water. One rock. Two icy water.  Across, I walk fast to keep the blood flowing and my feet from freezing.  Okay, I can be better.  I almost had it.  Next creek.  One rock, two SHIT. Dammit.  This time I just trudged the rest of the way across the creek as I was already wet.  Next creek.  I ain’t playing your bullshit games, frozen rocks!  I just trudge across.  And so it goes a few more times.  I was done with the creek crossings but quite cold.  I moved fast to stay warm, but desperately wanted to stop and dry my feet off. 
Beauty is in the freezing cold water
The sun was rising all beautifully again, but I didn’t hesitate a second to enjoy.  I just moved quickly and figured the sooner over the pass, the sooner down, the sooner I can stop and dry my feet in the sun.  So hustle on.  At one point, I went to adjust my layers and unzipped my rain jacket.  As I went to zip it up again, something didn’t go right.  Looking down the teeth were all out of sorts.  I thought I could just back the train up slowly and start over.  And so I did.  And the zipper fell off.  Gosh darn it.  So as I am walking up hill I take the extra shoe lace that I used to fix my phone carrier off.  And now am “sowing” my jacket shut.  By the time I reach the top of Mather pass I have a brand new pull over rain jacket.  Luck is going my way.  The snow of the down hill is ice hard and slippy as all hell.  But once again, I traverse over a few hundred feet and spy a line.   This one a little rocky, but I want the rocks as chances to stop or slow down if I get going to fast.  Sure enough, I lift the brakes and almost instantly accelerate to a faster than desired pace.  I try to dig in, to steer to a rock or slow down, with almost no affect.  I am at the mercy of the hill now.   I see a rock ahead and do what I can to aim for it.  I brace for impact and slam.  My legs took most of it but my butt did tap the rock.  Enough to bruise it and it would probably be felt the next couple of days if I sat on it.  But I was moving, too busy, and hurting else where;  I would forget about it and it would never bug me. 
It seems as though I have come a long way
I highly enjoyed the Palisade basin
I quickly got off the remaining snow and ran for about thirty minutes.  The sun was really warm now and I found a nice south tilted rock.  I took off my shoes and dried my feet.  I took off my warm clothes as now I was baking in the direct sun.  My feet were already dry.  I packed up and took off on yet again another amazing descent along a creek.  This one had quite the nice cascade to it.  I had already forgotten about the ripped jacket and the frozen feet.  Life is good, I thought.  I reached the fork in the river at the bottom and headed up the other side, the middle fork of the Kings river.  I had an excited feeling.  This was the last major high pass and it is the pass that is named after a pretty famous guy, Muir Pass.  There were some dark clouds approaching and once again, I found myself looking around for places to seek respite.  Crack.  It started snowing/hailing with out warning.  It wasn’t full on and intense, but enough where I didn’t want to be standing out in it.  I dove under a rock that I thought would do the job.  But apparently, I am bigger than I think.  It did the job, with a little leak.  But I was quite squeezed in and one had one position to be in.  I took my uncomfortable rest and knew again it would be a race up and over the pass.  Finally, it let up snowing and I began up.
11,6 Just chillin', well freezing!

I thought it was much shorter than it ended up being.  The trail climbed up into a big basin and traveled flat for awhile.  This was the most snow of any pass, and therefore I was following in others foot holes.  There were tracks this way and that.  I wasn’t getting lost, as I could see where I had to go; but frustrating trying to figure out, which track is the direct route and which is the scenic one.  My feet were getting cold spending all this time in the snow.  I knew I had to move and move fast.  If there is this much snow here, the other side could have even more.  I had about an hour and a half of sunshine left and it wasn’t too cloudy.  However, the clouds in the sky were blocking the sun for me.  Some flurries began to fly as I neared the top.  I reached the top and could see, there wasn’t more snow, there was more water.  This side’s snow was melting and making the ground into one big run off.  I knew I must hurry now, as my feet would be wet for awhile and if the sun went down, I might not be able to get them dry.  So without any regard for my body, I start hammering away.  The snow was soft and I would punch through a foot to two feet down, often times into icy cold melt water.  I was running on pure adrenaline.  I didn’t know where the exact trail was, nor did I care.  I knew it passed by the left side of the lake and that was where I was headed.  Eventually down far enough, I could make out tracks in the snow and knew I was getting close to the trail, the end of snow and relief…so I thought.  I reached the dirt, yes.  Ah but here comes the wind.  I just kept running to stay warm.  The sun had set and the view around Evolution Lake was gorgeous.  I felt good and needed to get warm so I just ran as fast as I could.  About an hour and a half later I reached the Evolution creek ford.  My feet were already wet so I just jumped right in.   The water seemed swift but I worked the channels and never got over my knee.  Across, I kept moving to keep my blood circulating, but I knew I had to make a fire to get my feet dry.  It was spitting mist on me, but I knew everything was so dry, a fire would easily start.  I found my spot and made a fire.  Taking my shoes off and roasting my socks like marshmallows.  I also roasted my feet.  After ten minutes I had reached a good level of dryness and the skin of my feet returning to hard.  I put out the fire and carried on.  I wanted more miles to get closer to Reds Meadow, my next resupply.  I figured the closer I was, the more it would motivate me to hustle there tomorrow.  But the surge of adrenaline coming down from Muir pass had me gassed.  I was moving really slow and thought it better to rest.  I bivy’d up with the notion I would just get up early and hustle.
Evolution Lake

Couldn't decide which I liked better

Friday, August 7, 2015

PCT Day 17: Really High

 Day 17 6-4-2015   Sleep 2130-330
Miles 763 – 809.2

Big; one word to describe it
            I wanted an early start to go over the PCT’s highest point, Forrester Pass 13,200 feet.  I was excited to go up a big mountain pass and see this high point, but more to feel it.  I was cheery because it was overcast keeping things cool, not too breezy which kept it from being cold, but also provided some pretty nice reflections in the ponds/lakes along the way.  It was quite the mellow climb, until about the last 500 feet.  Where the trail was cut onto a ledge along the rock face.  It was so magnificent.  Lord of the Rings style.  From the top, the view was inspiring, but I didn’t stay long.  I made my way down the other side.  There was only patches of snow which made footing awkward at times, but all in all pretty easy passage compared to what it could be.  Finally, down onto the trail it was a long and seemingly never ending descent crossing creeks frequently.  The sky was dark.  I reached the bottom and the trail headed up.  I knew this meant another pass.  Worried a bit I was looking around for possible places to find respite.  Sure enough, one of those loud slow building cracks that sounded like it started hundreds of miles away and then struck down just a mile from you.  I ducked under a boulder and took it all in.  I decided I wanted all the energy I could have after the storm had passed.  If I have to hustle or go later into the night, I wanted to be rested.  So I set an alarm for 90 minutes and closed my eyes.  I believe I entered a deep sleep and then woke twenty minutes later.  Amazing.  When you are that tired your body can be really efficient and get you a quick charge. 
There are rocks in the water in the cloud
Although I think you should always progress forward, sometimes it is okay to look back
Heading to Mordor
The other side; if you have done enough drugs there is a smiley face
The thunder had gone away but it was still sprinkling.  The clouds looked faint to the west and I thought, might as well go for it.  I had a little extra hitch in my giddy up and it made Glen Pass seem pretty easy.  There were some flurries flying for the last couple hundred feet of climbing.  It didn’t last and the skies eventually cleared.  As I started down the backside, I had a good feeling.  This was going to be a glissade.  I traversed about 200 feet past the butt tracks that went straight down at the cliff, shaking my head at the sketchiness.  Either they knew there was a cliff and have the biggest balls in the world or they had no clue and were super fortunate to not send the 100 foot cliff.  I found my line and I prepared my ass.  I sat down on my garbage bag, heels in front just off the snow for braking or steering purposes.  My hands held the garbage bag that was providing a smooth slippy surface under my butt and pack.  I leaned back and weeeeeeeeeeee! 500 feet covered in no time.  It was fun, exhilarating especially because you feel a bit out of control and can get going pretty fast.  I passed a couple a little ways down.  The girl and I joked about going up and doing it again, she had a good time.  The guy just grunted and hardly raised his head, he had a bad time.  A bit further I ran into a threesome of ladies with a tent setup and a stove out.  I said howdy and they asked if I would like some warm tea.  I said, “ha, I wish. No thank you” and kept on running.  I felt too good to stop.  But three ladies, alone in the woods, surely you were complaining about being lonely just awhile ago.  Don’t care, on a mission.  I am sure they were a bit confused as well.  
View from Glen Pass
 Making my way through Rae lakes was absolutely beautiful and I day dreamed of camping up here just for the weekend with someone special.  As I assumed the few tents I passed along the way were doing.  They weren’t worried about this “big storm” oh yea, the big storm I forgot.  Well, I am not going to worry about it then, seeing as I had forgotten about it for most of the day.  I was flying down the descent.  When I reached the bottom, there was a crowd of thru hikers camped right at the Woods creek crossing.  With the sun setting, I couldn’t help but want to set up camp and enjoy the sun set in the company of these strangers.  But I knew I had to trudge on and so that thought vanished quickly.  I made my way up the long climb to Pinchot Pass.  After awhile, in my head I was thinking when I get over Pinche Pass, get down quick and find a Pinche spot to camp.  I was tired and cursing in other languages.  Cresting the top was such a warming feeling, I teared up a bit.  I bombed down the descent a mile or so and began looking for some tree or rock for shelter.  I was able to get right up under a tree with many low hanging branches.  My feet were not above my waist as I would like and they were exposed out beyond the branches.  But I didn’t care, I was exhausted.  Home is where you make it!
Rae Lakes; couldn't you imagine camping here with that special someone?
Or I would just camp here and watch the show