Saturday, May 31, 2008

Snow in SoCal?!?!

Yes, we've seen it all in this section. We went from slogging through snow at 9000' to reuniting with the toasty desert at 2000'. We had several chilly nights that froze our water bottles. After leaving Cajon Pass, we briefly dropped into Wrightwood to get supplies (and a veggie burger and beers) before making the 2700' ascent of Mt. Baden-Powell. The storms that drove us off the trail last week had indeed dropped many inches of snow and most of the trail was hidden. Luckily, we were not the first to go through and we had footprints to follow. It was very slow going and perhaps the most challenging 10-mile stretch yet. Many hikers opted to walk Highway 2 instead of dealing with the snow. Both of us had forgotten how beautiful the San Gabriel mountains are, especially considering their proximity to Los Angeles.

We are now in Agua Dulce at the Saufley's house. Donna and Jeff have been hosting hikers (sometimes as many as 65 per night) for almost 10 years. They provide everything a hiker could need including use of their car, laundry, showers, tents with cots, TV, music instruments, etc, etc, etc. We are enjoying yet another full day off before heading out into the Mojave desert. Hope all is well in the "real" world. Keep those comments coming.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mile 300!

Lori and I are now at Cajon Pass on I-15. We were chased out of the mountains yesterday due to hail and thunderstorms. After the hail we spent the night under the awning of a public toilet! Ah, wilderness! The following morning we walked for 5 hours straight (14 miles), finally making it to the shelter of a McDonalds! This same storm dropped 3" of snow in Wrightwood, our next resupply town. The trail climbs 2200' higher than the town of Wrightwood so it is probably covered in 6" of snow. A few hikers and I were actually interviewed for the news (about the freak storm) but didn't make it onto the newcast. So we are taking a full day off here at this lovely freeway interchange - one hotel, three fast food joints. We will hit the trail again tomorrow and hope that the weather is better and the snow melts fast. We are now one day behind schedule. We knew we would be in Wrightwood on Memorial Day weekend so we did not send a food box there. We will resupply from the grocery store. Also, the public library will be closed so I probably wouldn't have been able to send a post from there anyway.

Before we got chased off the trail, we passed the spot of one of our fondest memories from '96: Deep Creek Hot Springs, one of only a few hot springs along the entire trail. We walked 22 miles (our longest day yet) to arrive at these healing springs. After a soak and a good night's sleep, our bodies had forgetton the abuse. A few hours after leaving the springs, we crossed a road junction and were greeted by Marlene, a trail angel offering root beer floats to all hikers. Trail angels are people who provide unexpected good will along the trail - perhaps it's a ride to town, a piece of fresh fruit, or a root beer float. I am always surprised at how many people come out of the woodwork to help us hikers. It is also ironic because we are the ones out for the summer having a good time and living in the woods!

Thanks for the comments and keep them coming!

Monday, May 19, 2008

It only hurts when I walk

Hello All! My apologies for such a long time between posts. We are in Big Bear City (mile 235). We are both healthy and happy but still a little trail sore. We were forced to skip 30 miles due to a forest fire near Mount San Jacinto. The fire was already out by the time we got there but the Forest Service needed to do "Resource Damage Assessment". We took the closure as a sign to take a full rest day in Idyllwild which we did and were thankful for. Of course we arrived on the day the library was closed hence no new blog post. From there we hiked to the summit of Mount San Jacinto (10,800') complete with snow travel and over the next day and a half descended to the trail's low point in California 1188' at San Gorgonio pass (at the I-10). Over 9000' vertical descent! Very punishing indeed but interesting passing through all the various life zones. We then immediately climbed back up to 8500' on the other side of the pass. Yes, the second 100 miles were much harder than the first. Much of the last few days were spent hiking through a burn area. As you probably know, over the last few years much of southern California has burned including many sections of the PCT. What is interesting though is how quickly these areas are coming back. Whole hillside's covered in purple wildflowers, more globemallow than I have ever witnessed (and it's one of my faves), and new shoots growing out of the bases of burned out trees. Fire is a cleanser and very much a part of the natural cycle.

We have met quite a few more hikers. In fact, we will be celebrating a trail birthday tonight with many cold cervezas and another birthday in the next town! It's not all pain and suffering! Hope all is well with you and don't forget to leave comments (Just click "comments" below. If you don't have a Google account, just click "anonymous" and sign your name at the bottom of your comment).

Friday, May 9, 2008

1/16th of the way there!

We have successfully navigated the first 110 miles of the PCT with only a few blisters and the usual aches and pains. Lori's dad, Chuck, dropped us off at the border about 9am on May 1st. We hiked the first 20 miles to Lake Morena under beautiful, albeit waterless, conditions. In fact, we have been blessed with great hiking weather - mild temps and cool breezes the whole time. We have hiked several 16+ mile waterless stretches but these have been non-events. Despite a dry spring, the wildflowers are out in full force. Even coming from Arizona, we have been amazed at the lushness and fecundity of the Southern California deserts. We have seen horned lizards, snakes (only 1 rattler), wild turkey, hawks, ground-burrowing bees, and thousands of butterflies. We have been from 2200' elevation to over 6000' at Mt. Laguna (where we celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a Negra Modelo and lime!). We have met about a dozen other long-distance hikers - some experienced, most not.

I am writing this post from Warner Springs Resort. We got in this morning (5/9) and proceeded to eat lunch and soak in the hot springs! We are spending the night (with several more soaks) and hitting the trail again tomorrow. Despite the breaking in period, we are both very excited to be back on the trail and in the wilds again!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

And they're off!

The packs are packed and the car is loaded for the trip to the border.  All the prep is done.  After months of planning it is time to release our stress and worries.  The abstract is becoming reality.  If it's not done by now, either it wasn't important or we'll learn to live without.  Que sera sera!

It was great to catch up with all our Tucson friends in the last few weeks.  Great party, great bike rides (Tour of the Tucson Mountains, Tuesday night, Thursday morning) - we'll be thinking of you!   And to all our far off friends and family, we miss you too, and hope that you enjoy living the "trail life" vicariously through us.

Our first post from the trail probably won't be until Idyllwild which is about two weeks away.  See you then!