Sunday, 26 July 2015

Picture upload difficulty!!

Still having problems uploading my pictures ... Wifi is not very efficient in yhe USA it seems πŸ˜’

Coming near to the end of North California ... But will my trail shoes make it?

26/7/15 mad dash to Etna, over 7000ft assent, burnout, it was a Sunday (therefore a huge risk that i wouldn't get a lift into Etna), 32 miles after the last few days of 30 miles per day..... But heck - some you win others you lose. Needless to say, I arrived at the trail head at 6.15pm, picked up by lovely horseman 'Bob' by 6.18pm and i was eating apple rings washed down with, yep, you've guessed it : Fosters before 7pm. Etna is a very quaint, friendly, traditional all american town - with one street. A night camping at the rv park meant that i could wash my clothes, charge my phones and get the all important chocolate (and Fosters) - that will get me to Seiad valley in two days time. 

A funny thing happened today, as I was having a brief lunch stop - on mile 16ish .... In the middle of nowhere; there was a jeep with a male driver with a couple of kids in the back messing around on the hills. They passed me slowly enough for us to exchange a brief hello, looks like great fun and no, i wasn't attached to the group of kids further up the trail that were chanting songs. Now, blow me down with a feather, but just by chance, i was late with stopping the drier (laundrette attached to the rv park and garage) so had agreed to pop over to the garage lady when i was done; and the man at the counter paying for his petrol recognised me immediately and said 'oh you and my jeep on the trail!' Of all the places, coincidences and timings that came together at that point. Small world! (Moreso as i had been wearing my hat earlier too) 

25/7/15 30 miles on the nose .... It was hard after yesterdays cruise on the flat, non stony, well kept paths. Today the pm was filled with stoney hills - steep and relentless ( so pleased that my trail shoes are falling to bits and have a wafer thin sole!) Lovely views of the hills (especially my stopping place) ... But with views = tripping over + stubbing toes!

I saw yet another rattlesnake today that luckily crossed my path without hanging around. It was the biggest i have seen yet, a huge green and sand coloured with a huge rattle! Uggg!

24/7/15 best path to date. Perfect trail, no fallen trees, large stones and the views were spectacular and consistent. A perfect day, 

23/7/15 i stopped in castella after only 7 miles in. I was going to take a nero and stay at the campsite but it was only myself there. So i showeredand washed my clothes, stocked up and headed back on trail (after forgetting my charger! Doh!) ... 9 miles of straight up - luckily the mountain dew (drink) helped my up the mountain... 
My resting point was on the edge of the cliff ... So pleased that i have a bivvi as otherwise i would have had to stop at mile 5! So 17 miles with the major hill mostly out of the way- should make tomorrow easier πŸ˜€

22/7/15 32 miles today with 10500+ ascent ... And i have to say that i felt fine. I think that the key to the miles is how many miles can be done before lunch. Today it was 20 miles (with 7 miles down hill and a 4500 ascent) - so it just made the second half a lot easier. 

Lie in tomorrow as with the milage done over the last few days its only 4 miles to the pit stop (with shower).  I am forced to take it easy as the campsite opens at 9.  Currently debating how long the pit stop will be .... But I will need to be fit for the 20 mile ascent (oh dear!!) getting out of castella campsite. 

Nonetheless, lets hope my bivvi survives the night unlike last night. A mouse/deer/chipmunk/ squirrel nibbled through my bivvi to get through my now ex-waterproof food bag 😁 ... Fixed now with duck tape  .... And an understanding why, halfway through last night, ants started to come in my bivvi!! 

21/7/15 a slow and steady 27 miles up and down the hills. I have to say that yesterdays 29 took its toll. Deer, lots of deer last night and on the trail. These lovely to look at animals turn into wee eating (they are after the salt) monsters at night. I am not sure that i got much sleep last night and when i arrived at todays camp ... Bless, there was a deer sleeping /part of the welcoming party!

20/7/15 29 miles and that was with hills, hot burning sun and a pit stop at the rv camp (stocking up with chocolate, a couple of pepsi and a mountain dew!). Drinking the pepsi and mountain dew meant that the 10 mile hill went by in a flash and i arrived at the top by 4.30pm!! 
Oh and how could i forget the angels oasis at 7am - 2 miles after I started this am (after sleeping in an ants nest!- yep another story here). Although i didn't stop long enough to take the outdoor shower, cook breakfast on the outdoor cooker or sample the food - i have to say it was the best organised trail magic!  I did however manage to leave my water bottle that had my large (and expensive) water filter on! Sadly, i only realised that i had left it behind 8 miles after (hmmm i think i need to drink more water!) - thankfully i still had my mini sawyer (that i should have thrown away weeks ago!) 

19/7/15 29.7 miles today!! Flat, flat and more flat! Ekkk!! I much prefer the hills.... However heat, sun and no water for 30 miles was the primary concern; the second concern was cows .... πŸ˜‰

Luckily there was a cache after 10 miles so it meant that i made it to the lakes and little creek albeit a little dehydrated! I started to relook at my plan tonight and it looks like i will be heading into Oregon by the end of this month, then with 2ish weeks to cross Oregon ... I could be potentially on track and maybe even early!!!
18/7/15 saying cheerio is always hard and perhaps more so on trail especially to those who are leaving it at this stage. 

Passed and briefly stopped at old station/ J J's for a drink and very good sandwich (with real meat!!) 

After supper I continued along the trail ... Only to rattle a blinkin rattlesnake ... Not seen one of those for a while .... And i still do not like them!!

17/7/15 after a very entertaining burger at the local burger joint it was an evening of pool and beers at the rv camp (of course this was after showers and laundry duties). Back on trail after a fun 'ride' in the back of a roofless jeep! The evening was spent by a sandy lake. 

Friday, 17 July 2015

Halfway marker πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

16/7/15 wooohoooi arrived and made it to the halfway point! Its now all about one step closer to homeπŸ˜€πŸ˜€ funny though ... Such a big marker is marked by a small concrete post .....

And so the climbing of trees continue πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

15/7/15 for a second I thought i was in the jungle! Lots of overgrown bushes on the path today with too many to count fallen trees blocking the path. Frustratingly these are just the many obstacles that slow the pace. Today started with a 4500ft + climb over 15 miles that doesnt sound bad but the never ending hill in the sun gets a little tedious. The top was great although fleeting with its views. At mile 19.5 i had to make the decision of walk to the next water in 8.5 miles or carry 3 litres for 5 miles. Needless to say, the former won! And i was glad of that decision ...... As the views from my bed show. 19 miles to do tomorrow .... Before heading into town (Chester) - i need more solid fuel as i am completely out .... As well as chocolate again! πŸ˜‰  oh, and did i mention.... Over 10000ft accent today .... 

14/7/15 a very quick 6.5 miles down a 4500ft  hill meant that by 9.30am, i was in a bar drinking a cool lemonade. Lazy, recharging day at the bar by the river was had. This was very welcomed after yesterday! 

13/7/15 over 7500ft asent with about the same down - it definitely was a valley that was hiked. This is tough and i would say even tougher than the high Sierras. All day is spent walking up or down hills / valleys. Madness absolute madness!! In the morning the best view was at the rock outlook ... Stunning really stunning.

At around the 2.30pm mark (post lunch) my energy depleted in an instant but the hills didn't. This made for uber hard work. I have not known this type of energy depletion and hunger that cant be filled. Even after x2 ramin and potatoes (the last of my food) ... I was still hungry!! However, what i learnt very quickly was that i either need to buy more snacks or i need to plan better. 

12/7/15 over 6500ft elevation it was crazy day 

11/7/15 gentle hills today and an easy 25 miler (luckily). Today, i was tired, very tired and left camp after 8.30am (and drying my kit in the sun). Although my alarm repeatedly went off every 10 min from 4.45am .... Ho hum. 

10/7/15 lazy am at Sierra City - sorting and drying kit before heading up a uber large hill. Made it to the ridge and set up camp overlooking the lake. What i couldn't believe that we walked 10 miles - but it didn't even remotely seem that much. 

09/7/15 a quick 16 miles in the am after a bad nights sleep in a very wet and damp sleeping bag. However i arrived at the Sierra City waterfalls and spent some time chatting to some painters who found some sun.

After quickly setting up camp, it was time to sample a 'gut buster' burger at the general store. OMG - it was the best and biggest burger to date.

Pool in the evening - and going to a restaurant to order beer and chips! Such a hiker thing to do - ahh well πŸ˜€

08/7/14 rain, thunder and hail!! After a great morning albeit cloudy, i stopped for lunch with some fellow hikers. Luckily for me, one had put up their tent..... As within about 5 minutes the heavens opened and a hail storm started. Thinking that was it .... I then went on my merry way only to go through another two hail storms and plenty of rain. Camp was very welcomed at the end of the day ( 27 miles rather than the intended easy 21 miles!) 😁 but everything was damp, wet and even more wet! Nice πŸ˜€

Friday, 10 July 2015

Pictures to follow - i am having great difficulty with wifi and uploading pictures etc

Searching for clean water 😁

 miles without much of a stop due to running out of food and the rain, thunder and lightning were on my tail for the pm. Today was also the start of the longer stretches without water as i was to find out. After a couple of ascents with all of the streams dry, when I came across a stagnant green pond i filled my water-bottle. I have to say, even though I know that the sawyer does a great job .... the thought of drinking this water was in emergency only. Sadly the photo doesn't show the green haze or bits floating ... But all was well when luckily I came across a lake with clear water.

Meadows in bloom was the order of the day, stunning colours that were so vibrant. It was only last week that the meadows were just a green mass. 
The last 6 miles were wet and cold. My last bit of food (supper) was cooked under the tarp.... never did cuscus and Ramen with pepper taste so good. 

Tomorrow will hopefully be a quick 9 miles before hitching into South Lake Taho, for, yes you have guessed it a huge breakfast burrito, resupply shop, a pair of new hiking trousers (my ones have rips and holes in now), shower, laundry and the start of the 4th July celebrations that start on the 3rd yes, a few fosters too πŸ˜€

01/7/15 Pit stop! its been just 8 weeks today since I started on the trail .... 1056.8 miles ago in Campo. Its already been a huge journey whether just what I have learnt practically but more it has restored my belief in human kindness in its purest form. On this trail so far, I have met some truly wonderful people with amazing stories, outlooks and raw generosity. We are here together, stripped back to basics with our homes on our backs with the trail taking us forward through mountains, forests, valley and passes. Here, if anyone needs help, we all want to help, give, support, find the solution, forward thinking, uber positive ... with absolutely nothing expected in return ... because that is the trail, trail life, trail magic, trail karma and trail people. It fits. 

Basic daily concerns are ensuring that either we carry enough water or know when the next stop is, which is a far cry from turning the tap expecting clean water to flow; or whether we have enough food (or ramen) to make it to the next resupply stop. As the little PCT community migrates across the USA .... Supported by angels, the USA public and friends/family in the UK ......My faith in the humankind race is restored .... And more 

Today, I seem to have hit a constant ... the legs move at the same speed whether up, down or on the flat. This meant a comfortable 27.5 miles today, even with a 1.5 hour snooze by the lake, I landed up in a deep canyon. Although a restock of marathons/ snickers and protein bars have definitely helped, i am pleased that I continue to get fitter each day. 'They said' I would, and they are right ... Although it seems that finally my metabolic rate (and maybe weight loss) has also stepped up a gear..... So it was Ramen, potato and cuscus tonight (oh the treats of the trail πŸ˜‰). 

30/6/15 26 miles and I felt so good. Over 3 lots of mountains (with a long valley decent). This was probably because  I had an unexpected stop at the car park of Kennedy Meadows (north). My intension was to hitch a ride into Kennedy Meadows (North) so that I could stock up on snacks, shower and do my laundry .... But low and behold ... In the car park was a van selling snacks etc ... So after eating x2 marathons, x4sausages and x2 eggs, x2 mountain dews, x1 orangeade and a packet of corn chips ... I decided to forgo the shower, town, bed and laundry and instead stock up with more snacks and finally get rid of my bear canister (this is the first place that you can officially) and continue on the trail towards echo lake... In three days time! Such a hiker!! Eeekkkk!!!! And a very smelly and dirty one too! 
But something worked ... 26 smooth miles later i arrived at the top of the valley head, open skies with a view of the last mountain (and valley) that i had just trekked over and through. 

29/6/15 woohooo! Made it to the 1000 mile mark! I cant believe it. Sadly I forgot to carry a fosters to celebrate (too much added weight) but i have to say, just seeing the 1000 marker was good enough - silent and with a deep breathe ... A marker that I didn't think I would see. I slept by the creek with my floppy tarp (I need to get to grips with putting up the tarp using my poles) flapping in the wind and rain.

28/6/15 over  6800 ft ascent ... I just couldn't make the final 1.5 miles of 23, so I found a flat shelf on the rock face and set up camp. The shelf was perfect height to have the tarp sloping over and across my bivvi which was needed with the thunder, lightning and rain. With the tarp up it meant that I could even cook under it and sleep with a view of the valley below. I did have to put my pole on the open side so that I would wake if I should start rolling over (and down the mountain) !! 

I have to say, I am so pleased that there is some rain and thunder... Hopefully it will put out the Washington fire! 

27/6/15 mozzies .... Darn mozzies ... Everywhere .... All day, all night ... Just biting and sucking blood! - its a wonder that i have any blood left. Camp fire by the creek was amazing followed by the best nights sleep ever ... Warm, cosy and in the morning I just didn't want to get out (it took me 2.5 hours!!)  

26/6/15 An early morning hitch was successful and the driver took us on a tour of the park (great so little walking) and a picnic lunch was had by the river. The views were amazing and i saw my first bear grazing in the meadow, Kyoti running into the trees and deer. Due to the early free return bus, the afternoon was spent by the river ... Munching again ... With watching the set on 'the rock' with the pipes playing. Perfect. 

Update about the Washington fire - the trail is still open, fellow hikers report a lot of smoke and caution is advised. So thats great news

25/6/15 arrived in red meadow after a good 20miler ( near Yosemite) and decided that a detour to Yosemite tomorrow was in order. The talk of the town is the 'Washington bush fire' as it is only 1.5 miles away from the PCT trail. Sadly only 14%ish of the fire is contained and therefore with a change of wind direction, it could compromise the trail and would mean a 100 mile hitch around the fire. 

24/6/15 back to the trail - after yet another breakfast burrito .., uneventful but even with the late start (and hitch back to Tollume meadow) over 20 miles was covered ( must have been the burrito)! 

Btw - a precious moment happened today. Walking up a hill .... Suddenly a stop everything moment,  when all I could hear was a creek flowing, birds calling and the gentle pipe playing ... It couldn't be recreated ... A heart and step stopping moment .... Never to be forgotten.

23/6/15 with a zero in Mammouth, the day was filled with eating, snacking, pizza, Coppertones soda ice cream (yes, we saw him again in the hills and he was staying nearby πŸ˜€), shopping, drinking and doing very little. Best purchase today (apart from the food) was the large sawyer filter. Usually filtering water (mountain and creek water needs it) takes an age and with my mini filter it takes another century .... But my new larger filter ... Heaven and quick πŸ˜€. I cant wait to try it out! 

22/6/15 arrived at red meadow then bus into Mammouth. Best burger n the world with a couple of others hoovering up left overs from others. Such a hiker thing to do. Even wine πŸ˜€

17/6/15 probably the coldest night to date - great to set up the day of two passes and 23 mile trek!!! I was given another trail name today at the top of the first pass.... 'Bluebird' because 1) i am able to put and carry 14 days of food in my bear canister 2) i eat only bird food 3) blue eyes 4) blue clothing 5) bluebird car that was very popular that goes on forever and cant be killed .... But fosters  keeps on returning as a popular trail name ... That also happens to be blue πŸ˜€ .... 

16/6/15 made it to the 'over the wibbly bridge' to the 800 mile mark!!! πŸ˜€

15/06/15 today was going to be the big day with over 6000ft elevation gain peaking at 13000ft - Foresters Pass. This was going to be the highest point on the trail. It was the most perfect and uber amazing view and company.  I simply cant put into words the intensity but summed up why I was on this trail. Moments like these put everything right in the world and any issues just melt away. Perfect! 

With 22 miles with silly elevation gain and river crossing - it was just a perfect day. 

12/06/15 after a day at the very chilled Kennedy meadows and catching up with a few familiars, I was really looking forward to getting back to the trail.

The next stage is the tough one - into the Sierras with high daily elevation gain and the need to carry bear proof canisters ( great more weight to carry)  for the food. Nonetheless, I am super excited - I love mountains and looking forward to the USA scale! 

I have to say, I am feeling extremely settled on the trail and starting to regard myself as a proper hiker who loves and prefers the trail life. So, for the next couple of weeks I want to stay on the trail and not side step into town for resupply. This means of course, I need to carry 14 days of food in my pack and forego showers and other creature comforts. 

So, just to recap : 14 days of food for the mountain ranges, bear canister and elevation gain to die for! ... Well after a good American breakfast of course!! 

Best start to crack the 6000ft to 9000ft elevation!