No sleep ’til PA

October 21, 2014

Howdy folks. I will get to doing some more stuff here again soon. For now i wanted to let folks know that i am safely back at home in PA. There is so much to do that it is rather daunting, but i got started digging out today and will have to simply keep at it.

"Stand By Me" Bridge

“Stand By Me” Bridge

I don’t have a schedule set for when more PCT info, stories, and pictures will begin to appear here, but they will.

Experimental Forest?!?

Experimental Forest?!?

Also, I will begin a new writing exercise “soon”, which will be my path towards becoming more familiar with brevity. You can re-read that last sentence a few times and note that brevity and i don’t often dance to the same songs…

Washington is pretty

Washington is pretty

I can already hear some “isn’t this more of a status update than a blog post” grumblings. Sure, but six months with no Facebook has been fantastic and i am not at all eager to plug back in there. So, you get a short-ish post here with a few pictures!

Casa de Luna Banner-Done

Casa de Luna Banner-Done

Casa Banner-closeup

Casa Banner-closeup

Be Well. More Soon. Right On!

n

 


Let’s Head South!

October 6, 2014

Howdy. I thought it was time for a little news. After an excellent 10 day stay in Northern Washington-Bellingham, I am headed back to Green Valley, California via Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area.

It was such a treat to be able to spend so much time with my friends and receive a mini-immersion course in Pacific Northwest living. I don’t know how much about that time I will share here. Certainly, sitting on the bus having said farewells yesterday and early this morning, this does not seem to be the right time. The memories and feelings are so new and fresh and precious to me. There is a warm, familiar, and comforting level of intimacy we found at our first meeting, almost four years ago now, that we still share easily.

But everybody likes pictures!

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FAQ:
1. How do you feel/are you OK? I feel good, but my feet still hurt. The damage from broken wet shoe blisters is almost healed. The soreness and inflammation at the toes, ball, heel-basically every part of my foot that can touch the ground-those parts still hurt and probably will until I force myself to get off my feet a lot.
2. Are you gaining any weight or ALL the weight? I think I am gaining some weight. I am battling hunger while trying to eat smaller meals/snacks, but this is a difficult game.
3. Are you still a crazy woods person? The transition from trail life is slow and incomplete. I am getting some of the social graces back, but I am still quirky. I carry a lot of food with me at all times. I bought a small fuel can, even though I may not use it once before I have to leave it with Joe because you can’t fly with them, because I couldn’t handle not having the ability to boil water and make meals at all times.
4. So, like, are you ever going home? Yes! I have not set a date yet, but I will fly back to PA in October. Perhaps something in a high teen or low 20…


And it feels so good

September 6, 2014

I just saw my old pal Zander for the first time since 1993. We met in southern Washington, hiked a little bit, camped and talked. How nice to spend some quality time together after so long.

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After a few days of very low miles, I feel pretty good and rested again. I will take it very easy tonight once I finally leave Kracker Barrel and do a few 20-25 mile days and then see Josh and Sammy again.

I am not ready for the end. We will do that stuff another time. For now, all is well. I feel good. I saw an old friend. I am starting to see hikers I have not seen for over 1,000 miles. Goat Rocks Wilderness was amazing and I am eager to see more of beautiful Washington.

Be Well

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Goodbye Columbus

August 8, 2014

The walk is going well. I am feeling good and strong. My body is doing well. I have stopped shedding pounds since 40 or so fell off. I think I may have even gained a little bit back. My shoulders are a little achy and my feet are contemplating revolution, but other than that – I am tip top.

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That pic was taken after a long awaited reunion with the PCT. On august 1, I hit route 3 south of Etna. Firefighters were staged at the trail head at the road crossing. These folks talked with me a while and highly recommended that I not proceed on the trail but road walk to Etna and talk to the next firefighter team there. I met a local fella, Brian – and his dog Thor, in Etna and camped with them over the weekend waiting for the post office and to see what the fires would do.

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I looked at maps with Brian and some other relief workers and a long stretch of road walking ensued. The pros told me to stay off the trail until Ashland, OR. In order to stay off of Interstate 5, I walked on rural highways and dirt roads. I slept in the bleachers of a youth baseball field in Fort Jones. I got water from a church sprinkler at 10 pm in a small town called Hilt. I was occasionally thwarted by barbed wire and dangerous looking no trespassing signage featuring references to guns, dogs, video cameras, and prosecution.

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I met John Mullin at the church in Hilt and we looked at the maps together also. He helped me avoid an area i planned to walk through that was no longer open road but private property, driveways, and lawns. This last unexpected detour led through some rolling hills and just across the line in Oregon, I found a beautiful Tibetan Buddhist temple.

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The adventures of the past week will stay with me, but I must admit that I am very pleased to be back on trail. Road walking g should be faster, but I covered less miles off trail. Not knowing a precise route, not knowing the mileages, not knowing the elevation changes, not knowing where the water sources might be or where to camp or use the bathroom – it was stressful… and beautiful…

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It’s Alive!

July 1, 2014

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Howdy folks. I have been having such a fantastic time out here. I have lots I would like to tell you about. Finding/making/taking the time to write blog posts has been a bit of a struggle so far. I won’t do it out on the trail. At the end of a day of hiking, I am ready to get horizontal with no weight on my back, hips, knees, legs, and feet as soon as humanly possible. Typing on my phone while laying on my back with hands up above my head is not a position I can maintain for very long. In towns, I am still not at all good at taking zeros. I end up doing lots of walking or my chores take most of a 14 hour day and there is no time to just sit around and write. I may need to do a double zero to get writing done. For instance, in Tahoe, I cleaned almost all my gear – every stuff sack and every zipper, sanitized all my water, kitchen, and cooking stuff with bleach, washed all the fabrics, showered three times and had one bath, and, and, and…Anyway…some highlights:

Hiking with Joe for even a few days was really great.

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I saw Marie (I am not gonna link it here via the phone but you can search for Jun 11(ish) 2012 and read about the first meeting) again at VVR – an awesome and totally unexpected surprise. Walked down from VVR to where she was working at Mono Hot Springs. She is getting into archery now and we shot her bow and arrow. I had not done that since high school and it was fun.

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I am down to 149 pounds with my clothes on (no shoes). I am eating a lot. I am not going to bed hungry or anything. It is just very difficult to keep up with the calorie demand. (Smaller beards now run away or bow when my beard comes near.)

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I would love to write about food and I will but not today. For now here are a few process pics.

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6 days of food prepped

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One day of food (minus the baby bells that were still in the ice bucket when I took this).

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6 days of food packed up

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Today’s Breakfast

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We meet the nicest people out here as well. I can’t even really say hitchhiking has been easy because I have not even really needed to try to hitch. Most times, rides find me. I will try to mention everyone eventually but today I will feature the folks that helped me out from Echo Lake to South Lake Tahoe. John and his dog Ernie gave me a few rides, and I got to meet and hang out with John’s friends. We had a great afternoon talking and eating. So “hey” to John, Ernie, Dan, Will, Laura, Siddhartha, and Arundhati. (I hope I did not butcher your name stop badly.)

Until next time, Rock On!

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May 15 – 16 miles by 11 am

May 16, 2014

As you can see, this ain’t exactly going to be a play-by-play sorta deal. Given that, I have spent some time considering what to write about. I do want to capture the flavor of several different phases of the hike thus far and cover some of the outer stuff. Inner stuff is also on the menu. I forget the exact phrase she used, but Liz asked me something to the effect of “how’s your head?” Which is a fair and good question. We will get there. Before it is lost to the past, I want to give some highlights, and circle back around to pick up the thread of “staggering arrogance”. (You thought I was gonna let that one just sit there? No way!)

After a great first day, I hiked alone the second and third days. I did still see some people at water sources, but was alone most of the day and the evenings. I did start to talk with two guys I kept running into, Darin and Daniel. I think they started to become a unit on day three. By the evening of day four, we formed a loose group. Over the next few days, we did start to hike together and the three of us threw all of our best ideas together and we became better hikers because of it.

The Water Party is one result of this combination. There are two kinds of water parties-bathing and drinking. The drinking part is simple. Always remember to drink tons of water when it is free, easy, and you don’t have to treat or carry it.

The bathing water party is another simple idea. I was cleaning my feet once or twice a day and doing some other cleaning when it was easy. The Ds and I started to carry an extra half liter of water each for the final walk of the day. You can do quite a bit of cleaning with half a liter. When water was scarce, we would only use a quarter liter or simply enough to wet a bandanna twice and rinse it once. Those simple steps made us very happy and clean and helped us to sleep better.

The adjustments to my daily routine were another huge result of my time with those guys. I had been waking up at 3, tossing in bed until 5 ish, doing all my chores, then breaking camp and hiking between 6-7. One day I apologized to the Ds about making noise so early the morning. Turns out, we all get up at 3 and were all sitting quietly in bed not wanting to wake the others. We started actually getting up at or near 3, immediately packing up and hiking. This was great. I had to change the whole way I thought about morning time and morning chores and readjust myself, but it was worth it.

Next up: pace with the boys and bushwhack campsite sites

P

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May 10

May 10, 2014

Hey all. I am having some phone and/or external battery issues. No charge is happening. So if this is it for a while, don’t freak out!

Roughly 15 miles outside of Wrightwood now and will decide later whether or not to go in to town tonight or camp nearby and go in early tomorrow. This was not a scheduled stop, but I am behind schedule and need some more food!

Lots to tell you about. Hopefully this is an external battery and not a Phone issue. If it is phone related, I may not be back in action until after I get to Joe’s and can get into LA – around a week??

The Grand Canyon was spectacular. Turned out that just Joe and I hiked and it was nice to have that time together. My body held up well. My left leg is pretty much fine now. My right is the new target. My physical prep covered big muscles and cardio well. But there are a lot of little muscles below the knee.

I meant to take it really easy and just do 15 miles a day when back on the PCT, but my second day back on trail I did 24 to walk out of a snow/hail storm/damp cloud mass just sitting on top of this mountain. Done 20s every day and feel pretty good. I wish I still had my old speed. I am getting these 20s the hard way, through long hours rather than a fast pace.


April 25, day 12

April 25, 2014

I am at mile 193, making my descent off of San Jacinto mountain towards highway 10 and Ziggy and the Bear’s house. Yesterday was a trying day. I did make it out of Idyllwild and my leg survived a long day of low impact hiking. I did make a wrong turn and got lost for most of the afternoon. Despite a 5:20 am start and a long 14 hours of hiking, I only made it about 10 forward progress miles.

Today has been better. I slept in and did not start hiking until 7! No wrong turns. I have water and food. I will go another 4-8 miles today. I will make it to Z&B tomorrow. It is beautiful out here. I feel ok. It is hard to go slow but I am finding a way. I have limited this morning’s effort to seven miles in 5 hours with a few stops.

Could not post that at the last stop. Now at 196 – 10 for the day. Everything after this just makes tomorrow easier. Still feeling good. As always, I wish there was more water that I did not have to carry. I still have 3 liters but the next source is not for 10 miles which is tomorrow for me. I would love to drink a liter of water right now – and I look forward to the next chance for a water party!

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April 20th. Day 7.

April 21, 2014

I am with my trail dogs Darin and Daniel and my internet buddy Trish at trail angel JJs house in Idyllwild.

Yesterday my left calf started to hurt quite a bit. Today it was also no good. It is a weird thing on the front/on top of the shin. Daniel says that is connected to the stuff that holds up the arch so it is probably foot related.

We got up about 4 and started hiking to press for Paradise Cafe and make our first closure decision. My guys rocked out at our usual pace about 3 mph. I was struggling behind between 1-2 mph. I did finally meet Minda and we got to walk together for a few miles.

By the time I got to the cafe, the Ds found a trail angel willing to give us a ride to town and then on to his house. We all had showers, clothes are in the laundry, and we are just relaxing and telling stories until we drive the the hill at dinner time.

We will camp at the campground in town with some other folks tonight and see what we see tomorrow. It will probably be a zero for me just to rest the leg, but I may press on if it feels ok. I do wanna be careful here in the beginning.

I will try to update some more tonight or tomorrow.

Having fun. Feeling good.

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Transitions

April 13, 2014

I am on the train headed to San Diego, and the long walk begins tomorrow. The journey, the adventure, this has already begun, but tomorrow I walk.

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I enjoyed my second trip to Green Valley. It is always good to see Joe and Terrie, the dogs, and the town. What a beautiful place. A few other hikers came through and we had some good times and spent yesterday throwing some disc at a great course near Wrightwood.

I am at a bit of a loss trying to figure out what to say. I feel like I am on the cusp of something and should have some wise words or deep insights. Right now, I feel mellow and nervous and excited and focused and scattered. I feel like I am fully prepared and I feel like a crazy person. Despite the mix and the contradictions – I think calm and excited is the predominate pair.

Things have been out of my control for a while. Now I am a passenger on a train. Soon a passenger in a car – a traveler on my San Diego trail angel’s schedule. Tomorrow will be more of the same. I can walk – everything else is petty much out of my hands.

Daunting and freeing.

I am looking forward to some quality silence and some time unplugged.

Tomorrow – my start date – is 6 months off the booze. That still feels great and this trip poses no challenges or threat in that regard.

I am a little over 5 months off the cigarettes and that also still feels good. None of the few people I hang out with in PA smoke, so this past week was my first time around any other smokers. Wow! Does that suck. I was a little concerned that it might be tempting but the opposite is the case. It was reassuring to be that grossed out.

Anywho. This highly focused and concise entry could be the last one for a bit. I don’t know how I will feel out there, but I expect that I will stay off the Facebook and won’t post a ton of blogs either. I have committed to one blog entry per month. There may be more, but there may not.

Oh, the tent! (I am sure you were on pins and needles.) As expected, I am starting with Joe’s zpacks hexamid twin. I will probably order my own hexamid solo in the next few days so that I can get in a tent with a smaller footprint. I may wait to make the order until my first town stop at Warner Springs so that I can have a few more days to get used to the zpacks system, the shockingly low door height, and hopefully see a solo model on trail and get to check out the size, live, in person!

That is it for now. Back to watching the ocean and the little towns.

Rock On!

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