Wednesday, April 30, 2014

First big day

Today we knocked out a 26 mile day. My sole motivation was the burgers and showers at the end. We ended at the paradise cafe and let me tell you they live up to their name. 

There was a closure from a fire in 2013 between paradise cafe and idyllwild so it ended up hitching up from mile 152 to 177. The pcta had no alternative route and they urged people to hitch around instead of trying to hike the crazy single lane road. 

I haven't had service for the last two days so I haven't been able to post anything. Over the next couple days the elevation on the trail will peak at 9000 feet then drop all the way down to 1000. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mile 100

We passed mile 100 today and it felt so good. I'm sitting in my tent right now planning out my day tomorrow and it looks like a 20 mile day. Ever since my feet healed up and I got the new shoes hiking seems much easier. The crew I've been with (Mac, sideshow, reed, Cody, and black swan) have been doing good miles since we started after kickoff. It's lookin like I might actually make it after all. 

We stopped today at eagle rock. It is basically what it sounds like, this massive rock shaped like an eagle. 

Last but certainly not least...I got my first resupply package and have a rediculous amount of food. They have hiker boxes where people dump anything they don't want. Turns out I could eat for month just by grabbing stuff out of there. I'm planning on making a few changes to my future boxes. I did pick up a 2 liter platypus bladder that will help a ton wih filtering water. The 16 ounce bladder the sawyer mini came with takes forever to fill my bottles. 

Here's a beard shot. It's getting out of control. I've been taking pictures everyday to make a slides how at the end showing how my look has changed.

Also, I apologize for typos, sloppy writing and text talk. Doing posts on a phone is tricky. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

We got rain!

Last night was the first rainy night in the desert, and it poured. It's been a fun time down at the kickoff. I've met quite a few people from Eastern Washington and even some I had classes with up in Bellingham. That being said, I'm ready to get back on the trail. This week has seemed like a month. Time goes rediculously slow out here and zero days (days without hiking any miles on the trail) last forever.

I found out last night everyone was getting free socks and snacks from the Keen vendors who showed up later in the day. Wish I would have known that before I dropped 20 bucks on  a pair of socks. Lesson learned...

I'm worried about getting a ride back to scissors crossing. Right now the ride board shows one person taking people back but there's a list of about 20 who need a ride. I think today will be a day of planning for tomorrow. I want to get an early start since I'll have to drive back to the trail. That way I'll beat the heat and get some solid miles in to make it to warmer springs in two days. 

The trail angel stocking the water cache at scissors crossing is stopping as of last Wednesday because people have left a ton of garbage and a couch. He was getting pressure from the rangers to clean everything up so he's just going to stop all together. This means a 32 mile waterless stretch for everyone just starting out. I lucked out because I only have to make it 22 miles. I'm at scissors crossing tonight and it's looking like a long windy/sandy night. 

Here's a shot of the class of 2014. 

Friday, April 25, 2014


So ADZPCTKO stands for annual day zero PCT kickoff. This year there's around 380 people who will start the trail this weekend. At the kickoff there are a bunch of informative talks covering topics like water availability to hiking injuries to wildlife. There are also a ton of vendors selling gear and giving out information. I picked up and pair of shoes and socks to help out with my feet problems. I'll be shipping my shoes, gaiters, and knife back because I feel like I don't need them (at least at this point on the trail). It's a unique vibe here. Like a mix between a hiker/hippie festival and an actual organized professional event. Everyone has been more than inviting about everything, like a huge family. 

On the way down I hitched with a few guys named Cody, Side Show, and Black Swan. I met them in Julian and they're the same age as me so it's been a fun time hanging out. We were picked up by a few people who did the trail last year (30 pack and hippie long stocking). They were really excited for us and we talked trail the whole trip down. From what I've heard there's some amazing things to come. 

Some bad news: 

Last night I learned that a hiker, who was 19 years old, coming from the border to lake Morena died. It was a big reminder that even though this adventure is filled with excitement and fun, it's also dangerous.

This is one of the gifts the pcta gave everyone who is thru hiking. It's called the ass-blaster. I'll let you figure out what it's used for...I don't think I'll be using it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Blown off the hill

Last night was windy to say the least. We hiked about 3 miles past the water tank with hopes of finding a little relief. Long story short, the ground was sandy and I woke up to my tent slapping me in the face and all the stakes ripped out. But we did get up early and start hiking this morning at 6:30. 

Today has been a lax day. We have about 14 miles to hike and another 12 mile hitch into town which I've heard is easy. I think my plan is to restock and stay in town for the night then find a ride back to the kick off in Lake Morena. That will give me a chance to rest me feet and get some real food in. I've been passing a lot of people hiking southbound to get to the kick off. Most of them have do the PCT a few times or did it last year (they come back to celebrate). I'm excited to meet more of them and hear their stories. 

I've been seeing these cactus plants along the trail. The flowers on them are bright pink. It's nice. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wind and clouds

First off I want to say thank you for all of the support, tips, and advice. It's nice to hear people are as excited as I am. And sorry about not replying. I've been reading everything, just haven't taken the time yet to get back to everyone. I'm still working on getting the right balance of phone use and solar charge (I've been using my ipod quite a bit).

Last night was cold. I thought I could get by with using my sleeping bag as a blanket...big mistake. I knew today was suppose to drop into the 60s or 70s so I slept in. Got going around 8 and ran into some serious wind over Garnet peak. There were some views after Mt Laguna that were amazing. I took a few videos with my camcorder but It's hard to see the depth of the mountains. It was crazy. Anyway, here's a picture of a lizard eating some ants. 

I also scored some news socks that seem to be helping out with my feet issues.

And I saw some big pine cones. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easy days to come (hopefully)

The blisters in rocking right now are the worst I've ever had. I'm hiking with a couple (Jae and lizz) and lizz happens to be a nurse. She helped me fix them up. I also had the best side trail I've taken today that had a couple waterfalls at the bottom of the hill. It was a nice place to rest my feet and it boosted my mood to power through the rest of the day. Also, about five minutes after the falls I saw my first nude hiker. A tad awkward walking past him on a trail that is only wide enough for one person. Overall, pretty exciting day. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Day 1.5

The first day out on the trail started great then was brutal. The heat of the day finally caught up to me and the pre hike jitters faded away. I also saw more lizards then I have in my entire life. I made it to lake Morena around 630 and was greeted with a bowl of pasta and a cold beer from Sherpa. He works with the pcta and was there for the night. He's the first trail angel (people who do random acts of kindness for thru-hikers) I've ran into. I have some gnarly blisters on the back of both my heels so I'm taking it easy today. Only putting in 12 miles. I'll do the other 11 tomorrow to reach Mt. Laguna.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Day zero

My blog from last night didn't save so I'm going to make this short. I made it to the border and monument around 830 today and I'm heading to Lake Morena today! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What is the PCT?

So what is the PCT anyway? It is a National Scenic Trail that is 2,650 miles long and runs from the Mexico border (Campo, CA) to Canada (Manning Park). It runs through multiple mountain ranges including the Sierra and Cascade. The trail ranges in elevation from nearly sea level to the highest point in the lower 48 states at 14,505 feet (Mt Whitney). 

If you plan on hiking south to north, like I am, there is a 5-6 month window to complete the trail before you get baked in California or snow stops you in Washington. The majority of people who attempt a thru hike start in April and finish around August or September. This means hiking 20-30 miles per day is pretty standard.

This year there has been big news about the drought in Southern California with snowpack in the sierras being 32 percent of normal. It’s going to be a dry hike to say the least.

Four more days! I’m excited and scared at the same time. Excitement coming from having the opportunity to hit this trail running and the scares coming from so many unknowns. Not knowing what to expect in a place you've never been is always an uneasy feeling. I think my trail name should be “half way”. I feel half way prepared 100% of the time. I think it's normal...Looking forward to it though!

A little history...

This past year has been a roller coaster. I graduated a little over a year ago and I was filled with all sorts of hopes and dreams about where I would go from there. However, three days after graduation, I had a major surgery on my ankle and unfortunately had to move home to recover. During this time I had a lot of time to reflect on what I wanted to do and what I needed to do to get there. Turns out, it’s not so easy to find a job in the field that you want without experience or a master’s degree. So I was at a crossroad. I was living in Eastern Washington, when I wanted to be on the west side. I was looking for any work, when I wanted to look for work in restoration and fisheries. And I walked with a limp. So what to do?

I ended up landing a job at a winery as a lab tech, still living in Richland. It was all good until the 60-hour weeks and 12-hour days started to wear on me, and then having to rotate between nights and days. Without sounding negative, let’s just say I wouldn't wish that schedule on my worst enemy.

One of the best things that came from working there was the idea of never wanting to do it again (the cheap wine and overall experience of working at a winery wasn't so bad either). The idea of hiking the PCT also came to me during one of those 12 hour night shifts while I was sitting there all by myself. So I began doing a little research and looking through videos of previous hikers and I decided that was what I wanted to do. I started ordering gear and planning, which takes most people 6 months or more to get everything in line. Things got really real when I put in my two week, and that was the point where there was no turning back…