Wednesday, September 23, 2015

PCT Day 31: Oh Deer

Day 31 6-18-2015     Sleep 100 – 400
Miles 1401 – 1429

            Last night when I dropped off the bluff, the trail turned to Basalt with some sand mixed in.  Basalt tends to be pretty sharp and very grabby.  I was struggling along the trail, the sun was just coming up and it was already hot.  I knew this would be rough on my feet, but the entire time my feet felt pretty good.  All of a sudden, there was an intense pain coming from the bottom of my left foot.  I figured I had got something in my shoe and was now steeping on it.  Upon taking the shoe off, I could not find the source.  Next I took off the sock and realized the problem.  Just a nickel size blister in the middle of my fore foot.  No biggie, I will just drain it and be on my way. 
So I got my Neosporin out and jammed my toe nail clippers in (I had lost my knife some time in the last day).  I couldn’t get to it.  It was hot and the feeble attempts at draining the blister were making me some what nauseous.  I decided that I couldn’t reach the blister through the callous on my foot.  I would have to sit here with the toe clippers and dig through the callous to get to the blister.  I decided I would eat a little snack to settle my stomach.  I got to work and slowly got to the blister.  Well, one of the blisters.  What I didn’t realize was it was actually a few blisters on top of each other and around each other.  So I kept digging until I drained the last one.  I thought I was going to throw up the entire time.  Now I have a nickel size hole in my left foot.  No big deal, I will just let it dry and harden then be on my way.  I had cell service so I figured I would call my brother while my foot dried and that he would calm me down.  He didn’t answer.  So I called my friend Laura.  I figured she would have some great advice being an ultra runner and trainer.  Also, seeing how I hadn’t talked to her in a long time, we would have a lot to catch up on.  Laura was the person who got me into ultra running seven years ago and so I think I should blame her entirely for my current predicament.  Kidding.  We had a nice conversation and it helped me forget about my troubles for the moment.  After hanging up, I figured I would check my foot to see if it was dry and hardened up.  It wasn’t even close.  Pissed, I decided I would take a nap and let it sit out in the sun to dry.  After the first 90 minutes it was pretty dry, but I realized how tired I really was.  So I decided to give it another 90 minutes, harden really well and I can hike later into the night.
So I woke up from my nap.  Put an extra sock on tripled over the front of my foot where the blister was and I was on my way.  I was limping at first, but then I realized the foot didn’t really hurt, so I stopped.  I was motivated and moving well, as I had ground to make up.  I hit the Wild Bird Spring trail magic. Which was an entire camp set up for hikers to stay, shower, eat up and heal in any way possible.  If only I had made it here before dissecting my foot I thought.  I would have loved to take advantage of the hospitality but now I was in a hurry.  I had a can of beans and some soda.  Grabbed some more soda and candy bars for the road and kept moving.  As I hiked away I couldn’t help but laugh about my day.  If only I had been a little further, it would have been a perfectly timed break.

I made good pace for the rest of the evening, but once again was head bobbing.  I guess it is time for me to sleep.  I only made it 28 miles today, but I think I avoided a disaster and being off the trail all together.  I wasn’t too upset and was satisfied with how I handled the situation.  As I went to make my bed for the night, I had the sense that there was an animal close by.  As I scanned around, I saw it.  A little ball of fur laying only ten feet away.  A baby deer?  There was no momma deer around, so I moved in for a closer look.  Oh crap, it is a baby deer.  It was breathing hard and it seemed to me that it was only born not too long ago.  I thought it might get up and try to run away.  But as I got closer and closer, it just laid there totally still, breathing hard.  I took a few pictures and pet it real quick.  Wow, this is amazing I thought.  I figured either mom would come back soon or a mountain lion might smell a snack, so I walked a bit further and set up camp.  What a day.  I got to pet a baby deer in the wild, how many people can say that? Alright! And I went to bed almost entirely forgetting about cutting my foot open earlier.
Really wish I didn't have to kill this baby deer
I am not kidding!  Killed it with my bare hand

*Note: No baby deer's were murdered in the making of this story. I had a few comments about how because I touched the baby deer it lead to it being abandoned or eaten by a mountain lion.  You're welcome family I saved from hitting this deer with your car in a year or so...if we are predicting the future.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

PCT Day 30: Lessen Learned

Day 30 6-17-2015     Sleep 2300 – 330
Miles 1351 – 1401

            Well it was beautifully smooth terrain and I was running.  About 500 feet at a time.  There were down trees everywhere.  The down trees were huge with lots of branches.  This sucks.  Each time I get running, I almost get into a groove then stop.  Have to figure out how to get around these trees.  I had gotten so pissed that I just started walking all together.  There was a beautiful volcano off to my left (Lessen) but I could care less.  I was hot again and in a bad mood.  Come on Joey, don’t be a baby.  Shut up mind.  You don’t know what this is like.  Wait a minute, you always say you like a challenge.  Isn’t that why you are out here killing yourself?  Yes, what is your point?  Well aren’t the downed trees just another challenge?  Good call mind.  Challenge accepted.  I was running again, but shortly after my epiphany, the downed trees stopped…almost to my disappointment.  Now the trail was pine needley bomber descent.  A hero trail if I ever saw one.  So smooth and soft, my feet rejoiced!  For probably ten miles I just bombed down totally in the groove and not feeling a thing.  Except of course for the heat that was slow cooking me into one of those dehydrate meals other hikers eat.  I hit the road that put me at my resupply point.  A beautiful gas station with AC. 
            I took my time doing my shopping.  After feeling the AC, I had no motivation to keep on hiking in the afternoon heat.  I drank as much juice as I could stomach, used the facilities and then laid down in the shade for a nap.  Also, the next thirty miles had no water source and only one unreliable water cache.  I wasn’t going to tackle this in the mid afternoon sun/heat.  Three hours go by, with hardly a wink of sleep.  I am finding it very difficult to get any sleep with it being this hot.

            So here we go hiking off into the night.  The whole section was pretty much all flat.  The trail skirted along the ridge of the bluff.  It provided a nice breeze and I felt cool almost cold.  Once again I was starting to head bob.  I would have just given in right away, but I wanted to get closer to some water.  I didn’t have to go long, there was water at the cache.  I drank some and filled up full.  Walked a few more minutes just to brush my teeth.  I passed out immediately. 
Lessen and the tree massacre

Monday, September 14, 2015

PCT Day 29: Midway Hot Day

Day 29 6-16-2015    Sleep 2300 – 330
Miles 1302 – 1351

            A fast morning was made by rolling smooth terrain.  But then came the heat and no rain.  I was hot and the sun frying my brain.  Ok, I'll stop, so to keep you from going insane.  Really? Yeah, I got all day out here to loose my mind.  I fear I have mostly reached the flats.  The trail goes up and down in small hills.  But gone are the long climbs and descents.  Unfortunately, I find this terrain to bore my legs and they slow down without the big changes in pace.  I hit the midpoint sign post at 1105, halfway.  Holy cow, it seems like I just started last week….28 days ago.  I was getting really hot and fried out in the sun.  The mix of low elevation and heat wave we are apparently having are making it unbearable during the mid afternoon.  I decided to find a shady spot and put my legs up.
Halfway Home


     A ninety minute nap did the trick and I was moving fresh again.  I can’t help but think, if it stays hot like this, I might have to go to the midday nap again.  Which, I would love to work, but I remember it did not leaving the desert.  Finally the sun went down and the temperature cooled just slightly.  It was the first time since the morning I wasn’t uncomfortably hot.  I rolled along through a forest and smelt the sulfuric smell of a geyser.  Geysers are neat, I think, but I didn’t want to sleep in the stink.  So I trudge on a bit through a campground, up a hill and found a sweet forresty spot to sleep.   
Only 1325 miles to go!
Sometimes the trail is technical, others it not even a trail

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

PCT Day 28: Bombing to Belden

Day 28 6-15-2015    Sleep 100-230
Miles 1252 – 1302

            I felt good and motivated upon waking.  I finished off the climb and rolled the ridge.  It was getting hot and I was exposed in the sun.  I was getting fried.  I reached the last water for a ways and took my break.  I camelled up in the shade.  I also soaked my shirt and head band.  I knew I would be okay, I had done my dehydration training…What? Yes, I said it.  At times I will go for long runs without water.  I ran 50 miles once with no water or food.  It seems the more you do it, the more comfortable it gets.  If I am trying to feel good and perform the next day, it is not wise for me to get that dehydrated.  But knowing you are not going to die is nice.  So I made it to the next water without worrying or carrying too much.  Now, just a long descent to my resupply point in Belden.  I have a lot of ski buddies, who can’t understand why I like running so much.  But the descent, to me, is the same as skiing.  When you have a smooth six mile 4,000 foot descent as I did in front of me; Well, it is like skiing a foot of pow on a 30 degree slope.  Effortless.  Floating.  Awesome.  Pure heaven.  4,000 feet, that is a long ski run let alone a “shoe” run.  It took me about an hour and I hit the road.  Saddened that is was over, but relieved to reach my resupply well before closing.
Bomber Descent, all the way down there
            I was excited for my new shoes and to send a few things home.  First things first though, pounding orange juice time.  While I took care of four 12 ouncers, the lady kindly searched for my package.  She came back empty handed.  I figured she was looking for Kampanelli and just over sighted it.  But when she came back empty handed a second time, I started to worry.  I told her I would go with her to look.  There were only maybe ten packages and it was obvious, mine was not one of them.  Oh shit.  There was plenty of food/groceries to resupply, but what about shoes? This can’t be happening to me.  I pulled out my phone, no cell service.  I was able to get onto the Wifi after miss typing the password for five minutes.  Looking up where I sent the package, I found the problem.  I sent it to Little Haven (trail angels) instead of the resort.  I called them up, she was more than happy to drive the package over.  When she arrived, I asked her another big favor.  Would she send a package out for me? (as the resort would not).  She said for sure, no problem.  So I handed her my sleeping pad, along with my thermals and hat.  It was way to warm for any clothes let along thermals.  And surely I don’t need a pad to sleep on, this isn’t a leisure trip.
And now back uphill

            I packed up and was on my way.  I wanted to keep the miles flowing, despite the slight delay mix-up resupply.  It was still hot, but the sun was down, so it was tolerable.  I made my way up the climb in the dark.  I came around a bend and smack in the middle of the trail 50 feet in front of me was the largest mountain lion I had ever seen.  It was staring at me, not moving.  HEY YO, I yelled.  Nothing but a blink of the eyes.  Damn, this cat aint scared of me.  I looked around on the ground for something.  I picked up a ten foot long fallen branch of a tree.  I continued with my ridiculousness, waving the tree around and hollering.  Finally, the cat leapt ten feet in the air and disappeared down the hill.  Well, that was kind of scary.  I could go to bed right now.  You are going to sleep here, with that monstrous cat in the area?  Good call! I walked about a mile and said “eff it” Set up camp and passed out without thinking of the cat again.  Somehow, when you are really tired, you just don’t care.