Updateage from Oregonia

Heyyyyy kiddos.

So much has happened since I last wrote.  Well, in some ways not so much at all.  I hiked about 1400 miles of PCT now.  I had a total of two weeks off due to shin splints and then other day by day injury-annoyances that made me lose momentum and think about quitting.  A lot.  Also blogging became something I didn’t feel like doing anymore, maybe I was just doing it for some attention I wasn’t even getting, so once I got over my narcissistic self, I wasn’t into it.  Tho I do have notes and might go back once the trail is done, IDK.  But then Castle Crags and Trinity Alps and Marble Mountain Wilderness happened and my legs stopped hurting and period finished for the month and I even met a few cool hikers I gelled with/hiked similar paces to and I built some real momentum coming into Ashland.

THEN my buddy Grouse/Quickstart showed up to hike Oregon with me.  Well, she’s called Whatever now.  I was super afraid she would kick my ass mileage-wise but actually we hike really similar AND she also likes huge siestas AND laughs at my jokes so it’s been superfuntime.  Well, until someone set Oregon on fire.

We managed to hike few a couple areas right before they were closed so we managed to get to Crater Lake where there was a reasonable amount of confusion.  No hitchhiking allowed and no way to hike anywhere, even the rim alternate was closed.  A trail angel set up a shuttle around the closure but then this one ranger who like, was last picked for the soccer team as a kid cracked down on it so we had to stealth sneak into her van.  But we found Diamond Lake had pizzas and beautiful camping so here we are!  Gonna hike to Bend via Shelter Cove etc and then reassess from there, since there’s another closure north of that.

Anyway that’s what’s up, and we had an epic smoke-enhanced sunset over Mt Bailey from our campsite tonight (which lousy cell service isn’t letting me upload), so all is decent enough in the world.  What even is the PCT this year.

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Day 46

14.9 miles 1179.3

I wake up in the middle of the night.  The stars are crazy, I can see the milky way.  Suddenly, the bridge shakes.  Earthquakes? Avalanches? Huh?  “Did you feel that?”  Gourmet says.  “Yup.”

The bridge shakes again a little later.  What is this is this thing going to collapse what is even happening.  The bridge seems really stable but is there, like, an avalanche that’s going to flood everything?  We use 2am logic which tells us that the safest place is on the concrete steps supporting the bridge on the north side.  That being the only side that is adjacent that is not snow-covered.

There are a few more tremors throughout the night.  I really don’t know what to think.  Am I in over my head.  Snow, GPS nav, now earthquakes which I never ever read as a possibile thing to watch out for whilst hiking.

Eventually I sleep hard, dreaming that I was trying to look up earthquake and Truckee on the internet, but it was a foreign keyboard and I can’t get “e” to type correctly without accents on it.

We don’t want to get up in the morning, we’ve wet cold bags, but we also don’t want to get wiped out by a flooding river?  A relatively late start on trail around 6:40.  The water level is more than a foot less and we can actually see the first 5 feet of trail!

Ugghhh but then there’s All The Snow.  HOWEVER, today we put on our microspikes and this helps sooooo much!  Yay!  Crunch crunch crunch- it’s a satisfying sound.  We try to follow tracks when we can, but there’s not much so far.  We know a group of 5-6 hikers are a day ahead, where are all the tracks?  There’s a bridge at the next stream, along with a campsite that’s completely underwater.

There’s another small tremor, eek!  I am just so grateful I have a hiking partner right now.

Finally we get up towards a ridge, see some open trail.  There’s a guy above !  I say hi.  He asks who we are.  I say Haiku and Gourmet.  He splits and we never see him again.  I feel like that’s pretty rude?

We keep seeing his tracks and they are pretty accurate so not entirely mad at him tho.  We name him Boot-Ski because apparently he is always doing that.  He also decides on a lot of sketchy spots that are right by covered trees but the tracks help us make much better time than yesterday sooo?

Maybe around 3 we finally start to have more trail than GPS snow nav.  We crush a little and are super stoked to have 15 miles today by 6!  Mule ear creek is the name. 

Speaking of aminals, a deer at the campsite doesn’t give a fuck, comes within 15 feet of us, whatevs.

A little before 8 some other hikers come. They said there was an earthquake about 4.0 epicenter 20 km n of Truckee guess where we were?  Haha!  I’m totally googling this when I get to Sierra City which is hopefully tomorrow yay!

Day 45

1156.7-1164.4 7.4 miles haha

In the morning Gourmet and I wake, but don’t want to get up.  It’s cold once you get out of the quilt!  We have to start upon the inevitable however.  We come down from the bunkhouse and Ed makes us coffee.  Wow, even more epic trail magic.  He gives us a ride to the post office in Truckee where Gourmet mails a too-short ice axe home and her bear canister, and some extra food ahead to Sierra City.  Will we get there in 2 days or 4?  We have no idea.

We hitch over to the I-80 visitor station where the trail picks up and get started.  It’s just, snow.  I posthole while we’re still in sight of the visitor’s center and realize later I’ve lost my sunglasses.

We have to start using GPS to navigate within the first mile.  I turn off my phone to save battery, Gourmet is the navigator and I’m the scout.  It’s just tedious, but also fun even when a little sketch?  We get to a meadow where the Peter Grubb Hut is supposed to be, it’s a realm of small suncups.  We take a break on a small clearing of rocks and we’re already past it? Well.  We ascend and then skeeeeeettcchhily descend a small hill.

Our goal for the day is North Creek bridge, which according to Guthook is a good place to camp.  It turns out to be the only snow-free place to camp within many miles, with the trail covered in snow right up to the edges of the bridge.  The Guthook comment also says “95% of trail in snow” from the hut onwards, it’s sure right!  But the bridge is dry and sunny even so we lay out our wet footwear, eat dinner, and sleep in anticipation of another tough day ahead.

Day 36

22.5 miles hiked

660.7 miles total

I have a feeling like it will be another long siesta day.  Let’s see.  I wake up a little late but am on trail 5ish.  A mile out I see Bartender just leaving.  We know there’s trail magic with root beer floats courtesy 9f Coppertone at Walker Pass.  Let’s move!

I follow the rabbit aka bartender 13 miles in 4 hrs.  It’s the fastest I’ve hiked, and I keep up mostly until the descent where I lose her.  It’s good to push myself but I can’t do it all the time.  I wouldn’t want to join their group- she’s one of the “slower” ones and I can’t even keep up with her when she’s got a bum knee.  Eh, I’m getting over these things.

People do the same as yesterday, leave 10 or 11 to hike into the exposed heat/climb.  I don’t get it, time for siesta!  Bang Bang and I are the only ones who stay.

I meet Bang Bang’s family who have come to hike with her.  Her mom is French which explains why she speaks it so well!  She discards a book she is not enjoying, Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari.  I, however, find it right up my alley.  Wow.  This is just not the book I’d expect from a comic, but it’s surprisingly well researched without being boring.

A local trail angel comes in bearing gifts of expired baked goods.  He says there are 150 people at Kennedy Meadows, he was just there yesterday.  12 people have gotten thru to Mammoth, but they all did it when there was still snow bridges.  We all wonder what will the thaw do.

It’s a tutu day for Tanya it seems.   Everyone pretty sapped from the heat.  My siesta is again 930-630 there’s a guilt thing but whatevs?  I’m always working smarter not harder tho its not as impressive.

I make it up, then around the big mountain.  I see a lot of people, those who left before me, camped after 3-5 miles.  Gotta do some more.  It gets increasingly sketch, with wind, sand, lots of rocks, and steep drop offs.  I am looking for a place to stop by mile 6 but nothing.  Finally I get to the top, I’m about to throw down a cowboy camp, but 2 things happen.  My ground sheet just starts flapping like crazy due to the wind, and I hear rustling down below.  After last night’s encounter I wonder if it’s an animal, but it’s actually a couple camped out down below in a stealth spot.  Whoops, sorry for waking ya. Embarrassed and not liking the wind I decide to push on.

It’s another 3ish miles before I find a spot on a saddle.  Good enough!  At least I pumped a couple extra miles out.

Day 35

19.6 miles hiked

638.4 total

Ok, well.  Back in the desert, or finally hitting the real desert?  There’s discontent in the air, the knowledge of being in a forbidding place.  I get up at 4, I have to make miles before I’m toast.  13 to a cache where I’m hoping there’s both water and shade.  Another 3 up a big hill where for sure there are good siesta spots.

It’s foggy and mysterious and foreboding when I start.  The scenery changes a little as I ascend, there’s some pinion trees and birds waking up as the sun rises.  Each day of light is a ticking time bomb, I’ve gotta get to a siesta spot.  It’s pretty windy and cold once again, but I know it won’t last.  I am so thankful for getting up early to avoid the worst of it.

I pass 2 couples, one getting packed, and another who passes me for about 3 minutes before I pass them maybe taking a pee break?

Well, I get to Bird Spring pass.  I’m trying to see the water.  I don’t see that at first, what I do see is a guy getting out of an SUV.  Is it too much to hope for???? Aaaaagghh Epic Trail Magic from Brewhiker!!!!!

A lot of people are here, Skip, Styles etc but just getting ready to do the climb.  It’s 9:30 which is borderline.  What should I do.  Brewhiker gives me a beer.  Well.  Nothing like climbing up a hill in 100+ heat after drinking a dehydrating beverage.  I stay and chew the fat awhile.

One couple soon comes, it’s Sphagnum PI (best trail name ever!!!) and Drippy.  We talk about the trees we’ve been seeing, I mention I’m pretty sure they are pinions.

“Pinions!” Sphagnum exclaims.  “The mystery conifer!”  We get into a discussion of white vs yellow pines which makes me super happy.  Bartender arrives and hangs for a little but then goes off for siesta, so the four of us bust out UV umbrellas and sit in the dirt.  What time is it.  Almost 11.  Nope, not hiking for a while.  We talk about random stuff and I am super happy.  Really missing the social aspect at times.

Sphagnum knows a lot about birds, I ask her if she can help me ID some I came across that morning.

“This bird sounds like the Joker on nitrous”  I say.

“It’s a canyon jay.”

“Another bird has like, either a long break walking with its head up, or a unicorn horn thing?”

“Probably a mountain quail.”

Wow.

Later Brewhiker brews us (he is not limited to the brewing of beer apparently) some custom pct coffee made by the guy in Idyllwild.  So good!  I have some more before finally leaving at 7 something (haha) to climb, and boy, is it the ticket.

Really loving Brewhiker’s vibe, just what he’s doing.  #vanlife.  I also realize on climb I have enough $ maybe for one? Fantasizing about fall trail magic this is a perfect spot for it.

Well, the caffeine and cool shade helps me up the hill, 3 miles in a little over an hour which is super for me!  Right at the top I see something leap over some rocks to the left.  I think it’s a bobcat?  It looks about 3 feet long, not really mottled, a golden brown color.  I didn’t notice a long tail tho.  Later I look on Wikipedia and it REALLY looks like I saw a mountain lion, but would I have really? It definitely saw me and skittered off, it’s rare to see one, hey?  Still, super awesome!

I go 7 miles before cowboy camping.  It’s super dark.  Still have the encounter on my mind, so when Drippy and PI cone by I convince them to crash there also under the stars.

Update!

Hey kids,
Here in Lone Pine at mile 745.  It’s gotten a lil crazy here, no Wi-Fi for almost 10 days.  It’s 105F, the road I hitched in on is closed to fire, it looks like there’s a dragon spouting fumes behind Whitney, and in the great beyond, All The Epic River Crossings and snow.

I’m going to be updating tho in the next couple so stay tuned!  Will be taking a couple zeros.

Day 34

25.9 miles hiked

618.8 total

I wake up in the morning and it looks like a mouse bit hole in my food bag, ate a larabar.  Well, really digging them much anyway.  I have this metallic taste on lips again why???  Oh well, time to hike.

I see some sort of antenna as I ascend.  Maybe there is a secret cow society here.  Hyperintelligent cows who have connectios with their space ancestors, all laughing at these silly humans trudging up the hill while they laze about and eat tins without needing all that exercise.

I soon have to poop, and realize a HUGE problem- I don’t know where my wet wipes are!  Luckily there is like actual vegetation here and the soil is nice soft humus to dig into.  I use found material- oak leaves, and some miners’ lettuce which I’m super stoked by.

Slow and steady as usual today, folks!

I see no one until 430 when I meet Sam just starting the 5 mile descent to Kelso Road, where there should be a huge water cache waiting for us.  She lost 20lb already, super cool for taking charge of her health!

I get to Kelso and then Bartender and Sam rendezvous with me about 45 minutes after I get there.  It’s so nice to chill here with these girls, but one look at what’s ahead, lotta exposed desert, I know I have to get started with this at night when it’s cool.  Yoy.


 I make a last push.  I poop at the bottom, then 1 more uphill into the thick of the Mojave.  There is nothing, just sage, grass, sand, and joshua trees.  It’s a total of 3 more miles before it becomes dark.  There’s no moon, so finito.

Day 33

21.9 miles hiked

592.9 total

It was super windy and noisy around all night, but unlike the second night I had on trail, but the bunker kept me ok.  Slowly the wind died down a little so prolly this was a good decision.  I tried to congratulate myself on this small thing, I often don’t give myself credit.  It’s hard out here doing such a physical thing when I’m not a particularly strong person (though, with pretty good endurance and usually avoiding injury); brains just aren’t as sexy as raw muscle and extreme physical accomplishments out here.  Even tho you really need the former to consider having the latter, at least in the long run.

On my way up I see the German dude from the weekend.  “Hey,” I say.  “Forget something?”  “No.”  Um.  “You’re headed the wrong way?”  “Nope, the right way.”  He’s done.  Wow, it unnerves me a bit how he could change his mind so drastically in just a day.  I guess he already had a good PCT experience last year but still, he was so sure.

I am slowish today but how is that unusual?  Sigh.  But my miles aren’t horrible, I’ll live with it.  I trudge up a dirt road that’s surprisingly crevassed and challenging and exposed and sweaty.

Well, I get to the water source about 12 miles in.  I see Skip and Styles who I haven’t seen since Julian at the water source.  Their friends Wes aka Cookie and his girl? are sick w/noro in Tehachapi.  They want to do like 19 more to next water.   Am I?  Nope!!

A couple and I aim for Hamp Williams pass. I keep calling it Hank Williams passvin my mind.  I am intrigued by cow comments on Guthook, I want to stay here!

“I would not camp here again.  Some cows showed up seemed upset, like I was in their spot. They made a ton of unholy noise no cow should ever make right outside my tent until I got out and shined my light on them they shut up and left.  Probably my scariest night on the trail so far.”

Awesome!

But even with this inspiration it’s pretty durn hot and exposed in the afternoon.  I get passed by people including the couple from the water source.  I arrive at 6:30 at low point before the small climb to the pass.  There’s a huge tent site here.  I stop to eat.  F it I’m not hiking 3.5 more staying here and this is how I end up in my sleeping bag by 7:30.

Day 32

12.5 miles hiked

571 total

Wake up early cold bc For Sure took all the covers again.  I don’t know why I am so annoyed with her, I guess the underlying resentment of her not even offering to get me lunch or a drink or whatever is giving me cause to be annoyed about as many things as possible.  Well, I’m up.  F it I’m slackpacking myself- I get the early bus hitch back easily do it and back to town in under 4 hrs, all before For Sure wakes up.

I head down for breakfast, For Sure comes down, and then leaves while I am doing internets things.  I delay the inevitable w/ late check out, I want to watch TV but can’t figure out how to use the remote.  I drink another limon pepino gatorade, take another epsom salt bath.  Finally I take the bus again to get out.

It’s flat at first right by road but sooooo windy.  I have a Marilyn Monroe moment right by the highway, whoops!  Looks like you truckers get a show.  I finally start to ascend but it’s gotta be around 60 mph gusts, I am literally being knocked to the side, and sometimes have to stop and wait for it to die down before I can make forward progress again.  Is this the new hiker cross training: hiking uphill in a wind-tunnel.  Eat that, the NFL.  Of course there are wind turbines in distance, I feel like I’m in some sort of futuristic horror landscape where all there are are turbines and desert.   Finally I see campsite that’s basically like a bunker. I wanted to go more than 5 miles in evening but oh well stop at 6. I don’t see anyone the rest of the night- it’s amazing how alone I am out here, even within the bubble.

Day 31

Zero!

Today is going to be the town day I have been waiting for.  On the agenda: Eat Things, Laundry, Coffee, Watch a Movie in The Good Ol’ American Fashion, Drink a Beer, Order Gear, and Epsom Salt Bath!

I am very excited about these things and after a decent but gluteny breakfast at the Holiday Inn I set off to take care of business.  The laundry is broken, of course.  This Holiday Inn is really not the best, hey.  The lady at the desk gives me directions to a laundry that’s right near the movie theater, so that’s good at least.

It takes me a little while to get a hitch on a Sunday morning, it’s very low traffic and I have to walk a quarter mile near the Home Depot until I get a hitch.  The guy in the pickup truck has no idea what the PCT is.  Hmmm.  He thinks it’s wierd that I asked for a hitch of only 1 mile but, hey!  It is cold AF today.  Why is the desert so cold and windy?  Today was a high in the 60s and winds up to 50-odd miles an hour.  Probably a wind chill then in the 40s or lower?  Why.

I head over to the laundry and then realize that 1. I have no quarters 2. I have no cash.  I try to use my credit card I brought with me (I neglected to bring my “purse” aka cuben sack for whatever reason) to get cash from an ATM.  Nope.  Where can I get some cash.  Hikers!  And hikers can be found, quite obviously, at the German bakery it seems every single person in town reccommends to go to.  I go in, there are about 10 hikers sitting at a table.  Yup.  I get $1 from 4 people and I’m good to go.  I go back to the laundry, put my stuff in, it’s a brand new laundry and super nice, and they even have the fragrance free laundry detergent I prefer.  Sweet.  Back to bakery, order coffee, some cookies for the people who gave me money, and this thing called a bierock which is really not super-German seeming to me?  I look it up on wikipedia, apparently they are from Volga Germans aka people who used to live in Central Asia near the ‘stans.  A ha!  I knew this thing seemed like it came from out East somewhere.  It’s super good though, a meat-onion-and-garlic-filled roll.  I head back to laundry, put my stuff in the dryer, and head across the way to the Thai place (Thai Hachapi- get it?  Get it??) that everyone has been talking about.  It’s good!  And actual real Thai food this time, although all the lunch specials are Chinese-American food?  Whatevs, pay $1 more for real Thai food.  I join two hikers and they let me have some of the extra Tom Kha Gai they ordered, it’s so spicy I start coughing.  Why can I eat any level of spicy in Thailand but am a wuss in the US?  One of the great mysteries of life.  I guess it’s the climate differential.

I do these hikes first and foremost as a cultural thing.  I like hiking and sleeping outdoors and nomading but I really am interested in all the wackos I meet along the way.  Who are these people who live in rural America in this day and age?  I lived in California for almost 5 years, I know almost nothing about it.  So quite obviously it’s important for me to take part in important cultural activities such as Going To A Movie, something I almost never do in real life.  It’s only $6 here which is just obscenely inexpensive to me.  I want to go the whole hog and buy popcorn and a soda but they are actually kinda expensive and I just sorta ate a huge plate of Pad Kee Mao, plus the soup, plus 2nd breakfast of bierock in addition to actual breakfast.  All right, I guess I’m good for a couple hours.  The movie, Wonder Woman, is just super pleasurable.  Not profound, but enjoyable.  I guess this is my thing now?  The last movie I saw in a theater was also under super wierd circumstances- Deadpool, in a fancy shopping mall in Medan, Indonesia (we all were in nice dresses, and they in makeup/heels), with my friend from LA Shui Lan and her rich Chinese-Indonesian friends.  I also super enjoyed both the movie and circumstances in that instance as well.  The movie is so good the audience claps after.  Love it.

I head back to the bakery because I don’t know what else to do, maybe I’ll meet some other hikers.  There’s only this German dude who acts like he knows everything.  He also thru’d the AT previously, he’s one of those who assumes he has the lightest pack but he’s wrong because I do WHAAAAAAT.  Just kidding.  But my pack is a whole 1.5lb less, and he seems annoyed by this.  Hahaha.   This reminds me that I need to get back and order some replacement gear so I head off and after a bit get a ride from two guys, once again, in a pickup.  “We knew you were a hiker,” they say.  “I’ve got the uniform, right?” I say.  “Yup- puffy, leggings, and trail runners.”  They sorta invite me over to their hot tub but I decline because I’ve better things in mind.  I have a convenience store beer (that I end up drinking only 20% of, I seem to not want alcohol much at all these days), couple things of fresh fruit, another bierock, and 2 chocolate espresso cookies waiting for me.  I eat these things as the bath fills up and it’s time for Epsom Salt!  I love this stuff so much.  I order gear on my phone while I’m there- new trail runners, a “new” merino dress (mine has holes and patches in it, it’s on its last legs), microspikes, OPSak odor proof bags (I saturated my last odor-proof bags with olive and pepperoni oil, it’s long gone), some fancy salve to prevent macerated feet from the water and snow I will soon be going through, and most excitedly, a cuben poncho that doubles as a bathtub groundsheet.  I’ve been using a cut up plastic drop cloth bought from the dollar store in the desert- it is fine, but it has a million holes in it and I want something nicer if I’m going to potentially have to camp on snow or wet ground.  I also don’t have a rain jacket, Frogg Toggs were okay but not amaze, real ultralight rain jackets cost the same as this thing.  I’m back under 7lbs base yay!  I also read messages from a guy from Reddit I’ve been in touch with about conditions in Northern CA.  He started out from Truckee like I want to do, he made it north but there was a lot of snow, about 20 miles of covered trail with no sign of trail or markers, he’s skipped a section and in Belden not sure what to do as there’s another storm predicted.  What to do what to do what to do.  What is fear mongering and what is being smart and what is knowing your comfort levels and what is being lazy.  I don’t have a team, I don’t think I should go through Sierras, but there’s no question that at least at this point, the Southern Sierras are definitely passable.  It’s what’s closer to Mammoth that’s a mess.  Ugh.  Forget it.

The other girl comes back to the room, she’s gone shopping.  I sort of am annoyed that she never offered even to buy me a beer or coffee for the room.  I guess that’s again dealing with expectations but it’s bad ettiquette?  Get over yourself, if you didn’t want to share you should have not offered it.  It’s interesting, I am still seeing various programs I run this year, but it seems like it’s smaller things.  I’m less worked up by stuff this year, last year the “not good enough” thing was so overpowering I was stressed so much of the time.  I definitely feel more grounded.

Well, I’m on the phone forever deciding last things, it becomes almost midnight and definitely time for bed!  I am super reluctant to leave town, perhaps I will leave late in the afternoon tomorrow.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  No rush to Kennedy Meadows!