09 July 2008

Completed PCT hike, if not finished.


I have kept my commitment to myself. I left TM thinking that I may be finished for this season of hiking. I have spent 6 wonderful days with perfect weather hiking and now two + days in SLT praying and eating well. Now I am confident that I am done. I feel complete.

The best analogy I can think of is that it is healthier to leave some food on your plate then stuff yourself. I’ve stuffed myself before when I hiked the Appalachian Trail. My AT finish came by pulling myself one town after another, but I didn’t really enjoy myself all that much. Now I feel free to let it go. This was part of the reason I liked to say I was preparing for a PCT hike and not planning. I get stuck on plans to easily.

My life’s path from here will be to travel to Portland to visit friends and make it home for Justin’s wedding in early August. Then I’ll be moving to Syracuse, NY to be with Emily and explore the unknown paths of deeper relationship. Family and friends seemed to have taken on a new importance after my “Wood Creek Incident.” Call me a sucker for near death experiences if you want.

Also I have a certain settling in my heart to ‘slow down’ in my life. I will still be going on adventures and travelling, but maybe with less urgency. I hope to be more present to each moment and each person I met in-between. No longer do I envision attempting to keep to checking off all my ‘life list’ goals. This settling I find inside also stimulates me to look into my future, as a result I’m toying with ideas of graduate school. How best can I be skillfully prepared to work for the coming of God’s Kingdom?

I’ll talk with you soon. Thanks to dad and you so much again for your endless love and support.


08 July 2008

from South Lake Tahoe, CA (PCT 1094.5)

hello all,

I'm resting in SLT for a few days with a friend visiting from San Fran.   I'm trying to update my past month of hiking.   Because of a sickness and exhausting trail conditions plus then I started feeling better but then hiking longer days (5:30am - 8 pm) journally has been laxed lately.  

I've posted two new ones June 18 and June 19th.  More to come soon.

yours in loving kindness,

06 July 2008

Toulumne Meadows to Echo Lake (S. Lake Tahoe) [PCT mile 1094]


I’ve reached South Lake Tahoe approximately 150 miles north of Toulumne Meadows, Yosemite NP. I hiked in Sunday July 6th to Echo Lake and caught a ride into SLT, where I found my way to the Campus Crusade for Christ’s Summer Project. Emily had helped me arrange these accommodations.

Leaving TM, with six and half days of food was not exciting. As I packed up extra food at the TM P.O. to mail ahead, I put ever extra clothing item I could spare too. I left the small P.O. slightly disoriented trying to find the PCT. I immediately missed my detailed maps from the past 150 miles. I made it to Glen Awlin’s campground and was pleased to have piped water to refill before I hiked northward.

The trail seemed to have an erratic trajectory. Losing the gentle changes in elevation, I had grown to appreciate over past 940 miles the PCT would cross a meadow and then snap upwards find a pass and charge down. Thankfully these climbs were usually brief. Less enjoyable still was the mosquito gauntlet. These little buggiers were everywhere and endlessly biting. I often was hiking with my rain pants on and bug netting over my face.

I was hiking alone but over these last several days I would pass some hiking friends such as Prison Rob and Squatch. My hiking style was in full stride, as I began hiking by 5:30 am and continued until 8 or 9 at night. I would stop for water, and three main meals cooking breakfast and dinner. My spirits were often very high, especially as the views changed.

A fun story: I was heading towards Sonora Pass from Kennedy Meadow Creek when I met up with Squatch heading southbound. He reported a rocky expanse from our location until the pass with limited camping. So I decided company tonight was better than miles. I hiked south a mile with Squatch and we laid out our groundsheets to cowboy camp behind some trees.

In the middle of the night, I was awoken by something at my feet. I’m trapped in my mummy bag as I peer into the shadows. Squatch says, “oh it’s just a pesky marmot.” I pull my arm free and swing a trekking pole around the shadow and it leaves. I pull my head lamp out and flash it into the fields. I find a pair of eyes charging me as a gray fox’s body exits these shadows into the light. The fox goes for my bear canister and pulls a Ziploc from it and runs off. My heart is racing with it. I’m annoyed at 2 am to repack my food and then try to get some sleep. An hour later I awake to my backpack being pulled from under my feet by a fox again. A trekking pole swing later and I’m left alone. I don’t get back to sleep but wait for the sun to break and pack up. I’m really tired that day.

The views changed to vistas of black volcanic rock from my foxy campsite. I really enjoyed the change of pass. I didn’t realize I was ‘full’ on all the big peaks along the JMT. I was hiking approximately 25 + miles a day. I probably broke 30 once or twice but I had accidently mailed my data pages with my extra cloths from TM to SLT.
I had two pieces of great trail magic. First as I spent my final night before town at Lost Lakes, I daydreamed of canoeing. And as I dropped from the ridge to camp, some weekenders let me take their canoe for a paddle. Then in the morning about 5 am I left Lost Lakes and made to Carson’s pass by 9 am where I was treated to some Former PCT and friends breakfast feed. I figured drinking beer at 9 am wasn’t too bad as I had been up since 4:50 am.

Love you,

01 July 2008

Red's meadow to Toulumne (PCT 940)


Sunday July 29th, was the beginning of the end and a day of great revelation. Lying in bed in Mammoth Lakes, I was preparing myself to return to the trail. My body still felt weak. I called Emily to do some diagnosis and she gladly researched many potential ailments. I left for breakfast. Over my toasted bagel, I gingerly ate worried I was in the incubation period giardia, I started crying. I hadn't told Mom, Dad or Emily about my nearly fatal accident then 10-days earlier.

I tried reaching Emily several times only to get voicemail. So I continued with my plans and left Sew-n-Sew, Paranoia & SW. at Motel 6. After three shuttles I was back at Red's Meadow. I was thinking my body was so weak that I may be finished with all of this PCT business. I said, 'just hike a few miles see how you feel you can always turn around.' Wanting to see the "Devil's Post Pile National Monument," I hiked a parellel route of the PCT and taking in these vocolanic columns. I made a detour to the Ranger station wanting to try one last time to call Emily.

Two attempts 20 minutes apart failed. And as I retied my shoes from my lunch break, the pay phone rang, Emily was on the other end. Slowly through tears and sobbing I shared with her my accident. I only noticed the swarms of tourist arriving and departing as the roar from each bus load silenced my conversation. This was a necessary and difficult experience.

I hiked Northward, taking the John Muir Trail instead of the PCT. The JMT weaves in and out of a half-doze mountain lakes that had sounded much more appealling than a ridgeline. Whatever the PCT is like, the JMT was wonderful. My first night I camped alone above a lake Hutchinson? (sadly the name is far from mind now). I continued to marvel at how comfortable I was at being alone and in the woods.

The next day I was looking to make it near Toulumne Meadows, my next resupply. I left camp early and walked my slow and steady gant. I meet up with Treebeard and his visiting partner Makela near 1000 Island Lake. My day's joy was spreading with the light of the rising sun. As I neared Donhoue pass, I continued to chat up each passing section hiker.

Lunch was typical with my prayers, eating and some stretching. Yet as I walked on my heart exploded with Joy, happiness and energy I hadn't had for a week or more. I kept trying to settle myself down from this altered state because I didn't want to hurt my leg again. It felt as though I was being pulled by my heart and floating on joy into Toulumne. I surrendered to this energy and simpled tried to do ' damage control' as I continued to pick up my pace.

I felt complete in Toulumne. My mind was filled with ideas of letting go of my preparations of getting to Canada. I had heard in heartmind these past two days- after sharing with Emily- a repriorization of my time. Skillfully, I recognized this energy would pass, so I said one more town and I'll think about ending my hike.

I'm simply excited to have made it 940 + miles, safe and happy. I really enjoyed the last 2 days of miles and views. I've always enjoyed walking for walkings sake. And now with my energy again I look forward to the next 150 miles to my resupply in South Lake Tahoe (SLT), CA.


29 June 2008

VVR - Mammoth Lakes (@ Red's Meadow ~906)


Only a two days and one night have past since leaving VVR. My leg is still sore and same for my heart. The typically energy I have for long days and continuous miles are not present. I left VVR Thursday on their Ferry across Thomas A. Edison Lake. Knowing fewer navigation issues were ahead, I was please to leave everyone and hike my own style again. Uncharacteristically of my AT hike, I left the 'official' PCT for an alternate route into Red's Meadow (Red's is the point to catch as bus into Mammoth Lakes).

Off the PCT, I took the Cascade Valley Trail. WOW! Falls, after falls, after falls, and plenty of gentle hiking. My body and energy still weak felt that even this reported 'easier terrain' was tiresome. But the most exciting piece was that after my first night alone, I hiked to a set of natural hot springs. So Friday morning I spent an hour resting in a warm smoothing bath. Oh, I almost forgot, Thursday night just 1.5 hours prior to camp I saw my first PCT bear foraging for food about 50 yards down hill from me.

I didn't relax more as I was eager to get to town. Just a few miles prior to Red's Meadow, I took a break at Rainbow Falls, strangely this cascades triggered some emotional aversion and tension that echoed of my Wood Creek incident. I took sometime to pray and then hiked to catch the Shuttle to Mammoth Lakes. Low and behold I saw SW. there. I was glad to have him to share a sit with as I was a bit self conscience of my odors around the bus full of tourists / dayhikers. In Mammoth Lakes, I was hoping to see Sew n Sew and Paranoia once again.

Exciting for me was that I was able to run from my Motel 6 room to the local natural health store. I made it just minutes prior to is closing Friday, able to purchase some Kombucha. I love that stuff. I can't wait to start brewing again.

I did meet up with my friends. But most of my time in town was spent in bed, trying to rest and recover. I was ready to end my hike. Yet many small gestures have contined to encourage me northward. One such incident was, at the Base Camp Cafe, the waiter covered my tab after we discussed PCT and his upcoming 3-months snowboarding trip to Chile.

I miss you , and I look forward to hiking with you soon.


26 June 2008

Indepence to VVR (PCT ~860)


This past week has been the most physically trying so far. I'm tired and feeling weak. I don't have much energy even though I have been eating more. My hiking partner SW. has had GI issues and hasn't eaten in three days. Hopefully I don't get whatever he's been carrying. Today, I'm getting my maildrop at Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) and resting. The temptation of a big meal and many calories waifs from the smell of the grill. Sadly I only feel my stomach is safe with toast and some fruit.

Leaving from Independence in route to VVR, I didn't begin with this low energy. As I shared with Emily, I left Independence full of energy and carried a great zeal for the trail and life in general. But a series of events continued to take 'it' out of me. First my Wood Creek Incident. The following night, Joanne walked by camp asking "have you seen Andrea." This was about 8 pm in the dark and we didn't know where Andrea was. The following day included a 2 hour rock scrambling, bolder hopping off trail search (she was up trail and had passed by off trail). Later I injured my leg by straining a muscle. That same afternoon SW. started getting sick. Slowing my pace to stay with him, I started feeling weaker myself.

However, settling more and more into this trail experience and finding home in my body has been supported by the relentless beauty. The long snow fields of Muir Pass made the summit taste all the more wonderful. Yet getting up to this pass was slow going, and I continued to be decieved as I misused my maps. Up and over SW. & I camped along Evolution Lake. Relaxing in camp by 7pm with the Towering Granite Spires and Spikes of Evolutions peak behind me I watched a glowing sun light up the canyon and reflect on the lake. The chill of 10,000 ft. and stillness of the air at 8pm was revitalizing after the work of that day.

Many things blurried together as I felt weaker and I put much attention into tending to my ailing friend. Initially my rambling stories helped each of us keep pace up climbing. By the last day in this section, I didn't want to talk much.

I've laid around at VVR begining to uppack the feelings from the Wood Creek Incident. After speaking with you on the phone, I found myself crying telling someone of my mixed feelings. Then I laid in bed feeling my heart and body trying to untangle the messy memories.

Slowly, just as I travel one step a time, Grace is providing the healing that my mind/body / heart yearn are always seeking.


23 June 2008

Way behind on journal entries...[Done!]

I just received 2 more journal entries to go with the 3 I received last week (that's what I get for not opening the letter until today!). I'll have them posted over the next couple of days. I also think I'm 1-2 picture cards behind. I'll post the pics first (its easier).


Edit: I posted 3 journal entries and both photo cards. Two more (long) entries to go.
Edit2: I need to learn to count. There are 3 more long-ish entries to go. I'll try to get 1-2 of them up tonight. FWIW, the pictures below are great!
Edit3: Done! See 6/10, 6/15 and 6/17 entries.

19 June 2008

Incident at Wood Creek

*** The following is a thank you letter sent to Sequoia / Kings Canyon Search and Rescue on my Behalf. Details to follow this letter***

Dear Debbie Brenchley,

I'm writing with a heart of gratitude for Kathy's, your pilot's and your diligent work to respond to my emergency back country accident. I realize that a great expense was occurred and you all were working in a risky situation to help me.

As I stood shivering at the bottom of a ten foot punch bowl surging with water, I was scared. I was glad Greg activated his emergency GPS beacon. My friends tried to help me get out for over one and one-half hour. The cold water I stood in was effecting hypothermic conditions in me. Knowing that some help would respond to Greg's beacon helped me maintain a hopeful mental attitude.

I am now clearly more aware of how a playful moment in water can cascade into a life-threatening situation in seconds. I will diligently be a more cautious and safer back country traveller hence froth.

Again I thank you and your supporting staff and all search and rescue. You all are , in the language of long-distance hiking communities, true 'trail angels.'

Casey Burnett

*** Now to hear the Rest of the Story***

On a hot day, I saw some fast flowing shallow water moving along Wood Creek, a mere twenty feet from the trail. (for those familar this is about 1 - 1.5 miles north of the suspension bridge)   Knowing that dangerous falls were just a few 100 feet down stream, I carefully laid down a the edge of the water in 1 or 2 inches cooling myself off. I asked NOIA to make a video clip of me sliding maybe a foot or two on the edge. What I failed to realize was the power of physics.

In an instant of movement, I was floated not just down the edge but also into the center of surging water (6-10 inches). Three seconds of terror followed as I screamed NO! NO! NO! etc 100 yards of uncontrollable circumstances before I said Okay, "feet down stream and cover my head". This granite water slide I had been shooting along had no end in my minds eye. BOOM! I hit a down tree which saved me from falling any further.

Now standing on the edge of a punch bowl which I had dropped ten feet into, I was trapped with a ten foot rock shelf over me and 4 feet of funnelled forced water at my feet falling further down the mountain side. Noia and SW. quick tried to throw me a rope across these 4 feet. Only the rope and stick were pulled into the current and lost. I attempted to climb the tree which had stopped me and leaned part way up the rock shelf over me, but my bare feet hurt to much and the rock I'd have to traverse was smooth and without much hand hold options.

I realized as I stood shivering I was starting to experience Hypothermia. I stripped my wet shirt and shouted the news to NOIA and SW. Now I was scared again. How did I survive the slide? Now with my feet standing in snow melt and trapped, uncertainity reigned supreme as my mind raced for ideas and my heart attempted to remain calm. I shouted for food. Time was slow and fast simultaneously. Noia sang and danced across from me helping me bounce, move, warm a bit and smile. Realizing the miracouls part 1. to this event, I survived 100yds of uncontrollable free fall, I sang to myself a new song. "I am alive, I am alive, I am alive."

SW. found a way to stand above me and lowered me food and my rain gear and shoes. Dressed I felt warmer. Eating was a chore as my chattering jaw hurt from use and the stress I was bitting back. My conscience had been drifting but learning that NOIA has used his GPS 911 helped hold to hope.

I thought my with my shoes I would be more secure on the log and maybe have some traction on the glacier smoothed granite above me. SW. had brought my ice axe's sling to use as a move able handhold. I gingerly tried to loose my hands death grip from the log (I had been holding too for emotional security and comfort) and wiggled my fingers. Then I tried climbing the log once again. At the top the transition to rock was worrisome. A fall may put me in the center of the water cascade further down hill. SW. stabilized himself and extended the sling. I felt my shoes grip on the rock (i'm very grateful I like multiple adventure sports, having a few years experience of technical rock climbing, I think helped immensely). I stood on the first small shelf, hand in sling. My free hand searched for an additional hand grip. Found, SW. moved the sling and I made two more moves and was out.

I stumbled from the rocks edge and collapsed into my seat and began crying. SW.'s comfort and support at that moment rubbing my shoulder and recognizing the grace of this experience was uplifting from the drowning of other emotions (fear, fear, fear, sadness, guilt, etc.) that erupted in the safer environment.

SW. and I joined NOIA via a down tree 200 yards up from my temporary prison and 100 yards up from the three second slide. Noia and I hugged. Celebration. We sat down, exhausted and took a long lunch after this 1.5 hour unplanned experience. Noia sent several OKAYs with his GPS beacon.

Later that night Search and Rescue arrived. Apparently the device is so new, Noia and S&R didn't know how to cancel the 911 correctly. The three of us gave our report. Hopefully I won't get at $3000 bill for the backcountry response call. Kathy and Deb seemed to think the incident was a legitimate call for action, but others would need to review.

I fell without "dashing my foot against a stone" only a minor scratch on my leg and knuckles marked my body. This playful moment in water is a lesson in the danger and magisty of nature's power. My accident could have been easily filled with injury or even fatal.

My heart was heavy with this trauma for some time. More on this later.

Thank you all for your prayer of safety.

Rae Lakes to Pinchot Pass

18 June 2008

Independce, CA (790) - just a hitch


I wanted to share with you a moment of grace.   Really this is a series of stories that to me reveal God in my midst working in and around me.   As Sew n-Sew, Paranioa and I prepared to leave town with an arranged ride up to Onion Valley Trail head, Sleepwalker (SW.) arrived on a bus from Bishop.   As I picked up his pack (heavy to my 1/2 his age body) and saw him limp a bit, I offered him my spot in the car.  I figured I could catch my gang and I had been planning to hitch anyways

As I stood waiting with my thumb out my friends IMPATIENT and FRUSTRATION arrived to stand with me (note: these are not hikers but personifications of my internal feelings).   As I struggled to offer compassion to each moment and driver, I realized something.   I was experiencing powerlessness.  When I accepted this I found great freedom to be kind to myself and strangers who drive past.

After 1.5 hours a truck past me only to turn around and pick me up.  As Frank let me into his car, he explained to his seven year old son, Joseph that I looked nice and don't usually pick up hitchhikers.   As we talked I was edified with my position that it will be more important to hike with my dad in Oregon than worry about getting to Canada by some arbitrary date in the middle of September.  Reality is the dirt path of the PCT will last longer than all our short time here on earth.  What are my priorities?

Mystery continue to dance with me as I started up the trail towards Kearsarge Pass, Joanne is heading down the trail to me.   Now I see God's working.  I was available to troubleshoot and listen to her and Andrea as they process a forgotten cell phone and longing to call home.   So I was there.  All God ask of us sometimes.  

I left only to catch SW. and Paranoia.   The three us partnered up to help each other with navigation and for me slow down my pace.

I see in all these small happenings the loving hand of God giving gifts, first to me from Frank's message as a father taking his son fishing, second in me being a ear to frustrated friends, and finally the gift of companionship from SW. and Noia for the next section.

Surrender to the Way of Grace is a powerful tool for being an agent of change,  an ambassador of Christ, God's love in and for Heaven on Earth here & now.   However the power of surrender is powerlessness in this world of fearful control (my natural "go-to").   I wonder how these truths will grow in me with time.  I always hope I am available more and more to God's will for me.  May it be so.

Love and miss you,

Indepence to Rae Lakes

17 June 2008

Photos: Kennedy Meadows to Independence

Full Screen

Note: Sorry the movies are out of sequence (they are all at the end).

Resupply Indenpendence


I’m spending a night on the gazebo of a new construction B&B in town. This came together only moments before 9pm, wow! Town has been a rush, but my chores are nearly down and I’ll be hiking tomorrow. Earlier I hitched to Lone Pine to find an outfitter to replace worn socks and buy more sunscreen. Now I’ve mailed my sun pants home. Yeah, a lighter pack if only in my mind makes miles and climbs easier.

Climb, climb, climb! Last Wednesday, shortly after walking through the still smoldering Clover meadow fields, the PCT headed for 10,000 feet over ???? pass. The broad wide meadows on either side are stunning.

I’ve matched up with 6 other hikers for safety. Paranoia, Sew-n-Sew, Senator, Too Obtuse and Bad Advice. The collective pace is less than my normal plans. At first this was a struggle, yet I’ve learned to play more as I wait. Climbing on rock piles and splashing in rivers and creeks. Yes, water.

Water is plentiful. Bonus water crosses trail from high snow melt making cleanliness and hydration more convenient. I wash my face and neck often and sometimes my socks.

Water, flowing, in many forms, small brooks, big cascades, wider rivers and small streams. All of them beautiful and full of life (God). Grandeur and awe fill my heart often. Mountain peaks, tower out of great rangers of granite.

Yesterday, I climbed over Forester pass. Following trail wasn’t hard, but impossible because it was often under snow. However, I now feel more confident in my map skills as I connected rock islands to the south slope and climbed to 13,500’.

I wrote to Dad about my side trip up Mt. Whitney. I’ve find climbing rather enjoyable, especially knowing I’ll be surprised by new views. As Paranoia said “it’s so big1” it’s nearly impossible to describe the majesty of it all.

I think often you should submit for sabbatical and thru-hike the John Muir Trail. You know the PCT and JMT share most of next 250 miles of gorgeous land.

My body is doing well, with low mileage. One change is something has led to my feet swelling resulting in blisters on my big toes. Ow! New shoes are ordered for South Lake Tahoe two-weeks away.

My spirits and heard feel more settled in this new environment. I continue to listen for God in silence and stillness 3x a day. This grounding is a huge support and healing communication for me.

Be well and give my love to my nieces and nephew and Cheri


15 June 2008

Mt. Whitney summit


Happy father’s day! I just awoke near Guitar Lake from my post-summit nap. Yesterday Senator, Paranoia and I camped above Guitar Lake at a “tarn”. Our intention at Senator’s initiation was to hike out starting at midnight so we might catch a sunrise from the summit.

The granite bowl wrapped around our camp glowed last night with a bright moon. The area is full of marmots. A nuance problem for food storage and tasty sweat covered gear. Additional attention was taken to put all my gear inside.

Midnight arrived a few 4 hours after lying down. The three of us packed dup and were hiking with headlamps and moonlight quickly. The trail was easy to follow at first. However, change came abruptly across a snow patch and we lost the trail

The following 2 hours of scrambling were at first exciting, then worrisome and tiring. The moon hide behind an opposite face and the valley went black. Our small headlamps were limited aid. Reviewing map, we decided to spread out a bit and head up into the headwall. In short order we were out of eye and ear sight, not a wise move. I wandered into rocks and snow as far up as I could. After a scary and risky choice involving a icy patch, I gave up, deciding to return to camp. As I did Paranoia shouted as I passed, “I’ve found the trail.” I joined him, but no Senator. We waited an hour. Still no response, to shouts, whistle and blinking headlamps.

Now going on 4am, others began to arrive very slowly. Too obtuse said, I could head up on off chance Senator passed us. Paranoia went to the opposing wall as light filtered slowly into area. As I hiked quickly, to say warm, I fed off irritatable energy and worry about Senator. Thirty-minutes up my two-hour accent; I heard Paranoia shouting to Senator and heard everyone was okay.

I was released to hike, from my mind of second-guessing. Through Blocky spires and up stone steps I climbed 3000+ feet. I arrived at Mt. Whitney’s summit at 6:50am. I thought of you. As I turned a bend to find quarter mile, I was swept with tears as I ????? the tension I caused up with me.

Three hours passed as hikers arrived. I ate well as Americorp vol shared delicious oranges, apples and goat cheese.

The descent was slower than my ascent. The temperature rose. The sun is blaring through the thin, blue-cloudless skies above. We are planning to have lunch soon and then hike a few more miles.

I wonder what my swing down from the emotional summit of Mt. Whitney 14,495’ (tallest in continental USA) will be like. Now being physically exhausted and approaching high-point on PCT over Forester Pass tomorrow, I hope my body can rest and recover well.



10 June 2008

Photos: Mojave to Kennedy Meadows

Full Screen

Kennedy Meadows


Tomorrow I will leave and head into the high sierras. When the gang I was waiting for Sunday arrived and reported they wanted to tank two zeros. I felt irritated. However, now at the beginning of my third zero I’m glad for the change of routine.

I’m camped out with two-dozen hikers, whose identities change each day. Relaxing outdoors without many townie distractions brings the gift of a camping trip. There is no hurry. I can synchronize my internal pace with my actions a little easier. Sometimes while hiking, I’m thinking ahead of my body.

Sunday there was an informal church service, delivered by a local mountain man, known as “the deacon.” I continue to bump into other hikers, passionate about God shown thru Jesus. I’m grateful to have shared times of prayer and conversation with mike, Danger and Wildflower, EZ-going and Free, detective Friday and others. Others have been intrigued by my participation in the 6-week silent retreat last fall.

Yesterday afternoon, Paranoia, Andrea and I walked down to the south Fork of Kerne River to swim. The water was refreshingly cold. Some rocks provided seats near small rapids. Then we warmed ourselves on hot rock slabs at the river’s edge. I also did a few stretches, noting that stiffness had been creeping into my inactive muscles.

I’ve noted that my Achilles and heel are sore each morning. This is alarming to me on one hand as these are signs of plantar fasciitis. Yet I know many athletes and outdoors people who are for themselves through this ailment. Gingerly, I’ve increase my self-massage and begun some simple stretches, I’ve read about online. A very important self-assessment is these pains are not getting worse.

I sent myself too much food, so I indulge myself in consumption whenever I please. Even when I’m aware I’m eating out of boredom. At the general store, I’ve bought OJ, “V8” and ice cream, plus treating myself to sarsaparilla root beer as these are not packable on trail.

I loaded my “Bearvault” with 6-days of food and it feels really heavy. I increased my packed food, knowing altitude and challenging terrain will leave me hungry more often. With the bearvault, I haven’t learned how to pack my “ULA-Circuit” a new. At any rate, I haven’t much to get rid of, buy whatever extras I do have I’ll mail home today with this letter and another photo card.

I’ve enjoyed being able to talk on the phone and hear how family is. The inspirational quotes and copies of devotionals have been greatly appreciated. They seemed to be nutritionally rich for a balance spiritual diet. As always thanks for making my boxes and adding treats.



09 June 2008

Trail Statistics to date...

  • April 17 thru June 7: Campo to Kennedy Meadows -- 44 days
  • 12 Zeros
    • Warner Springs (3) – Kick off party
    • Idyllwild (4) – includes fire detour
    • Big Bear
    • Wrightwood
    • Aqua Dulce
    • Case de Luna
    • Mojave
  • 6 Neroes (less than 10 miles in a day)
    • Warner Spring
    • Paradise Café
    • Cajon Pass
    • Wrightwood
    • Mojave
    • Kennedy Meadows
  • Body Ailments
    • Right Achilles and then left Achilles
    • Knee pain on and off
    • Blisters
    • Sun burnt nose
  • Gear worn out/wearing out
    • Trekking pole
    • Rain pants
    • On 2nd pair of shoes
    • Torn sun hat
    • Sleeping pad is smashed and torn
    • Wore through two pairs of socks
  • Hikers
    • Sew-n-sew
    • Gazelle
    • Matt A
    • B-1
    • Sasquatch
    • Senator
    • Sly
    • Gopher
    • Sleepwalker
    • Cuddles
    • Paranoia
    • Gypsy lulu
    • Tailwinds
    • Tahoe Mike

Trail highlights to date...

· Campo to Warner Spring

o Day 1 – excitement, touching Mexico under fence

o Concern about Achilles pain out of Mt. Laguna Store

o Trail magic – camping with sarah and conversation

o Meeting Joanne and Andrea at 3rd gate water cache

o Free night with “B-1” at ranch; talking and soaking at Hot Spring

o Beautiful ???? fields as Warner Spring approached

o ADZPCTKO – ride from Yogi, working with Brian from ULA; seeing all the hikers

o Hearing Eric Ryback talk about his hiking experience

· Warner Springs to Big Bear

o Paradice Café’s Jose Burger #2 with Fat Tire amber Al

o Apache Peak fire – changing my plans

o Side trip to climb in sunning and exciting Joshua tree NP

o A night sleeping under I-10

o Majestic campsite along Mission Creek, meeting Senator and Opah

o Fun in “tomato House” and $9 given to use at highway overpass “from the lord”

· Big Bear to Wrightwood

o Helping Ross, secure a ride off trail as he wore out

o Walking near Holcomb Creek and deep creek with wild birds

o Deep Creek Hot springs, struggling to relax; swimming

o Pastor Marlene’s root beer float trail magic

o Sunset from Cleghorn (?) ridge north of Silverwood Lake

o Panic at I-15 that next 22 miles were dry and mostly uphill

o Trail angels – Walt and Laurie host me in their home

o Reunion in Wrightwood – Sew-n-sew, Sly and sasquatch

· Wrightwood to Aqua Dulce (Hiker Heaven)

o Buggy summit of Mt. Baden Powell

o Wild African Safari Dream at Little Jimmy Springs campground

o Breakfast at North Fork ranger station, washing my face crying

o 1 hour break at Mattox Creek in Canyon Burn

o Afternoon at Robi’s Nest Campground pool, resting with “Whiz”

o Sleep under the “Star trek” rocks – “vasquez Rocks”

o Hiker heaven – to town movie “Indian Joes”, “in-n-out burger”

· Aqua Dulce to Mojave

o Slack pack 24 miles, 6+ running at Anderson’s

o Relax’n outside on zero; taco salad; Joe and Terri’s trail angel story

o Playing on aqueduct with chalk

o Hikertown’s cold outdoor shower; dog pee’d on my pack

o Giant sand pile, trail with no path

o Mojave, eat’n at denny’s, discerning thru my doubts and fears

o Church

· Mojave to Kennedy Meadows

o Wind farms, more wind farms

o Gust pushing me and full pack around, up and down

o Sheltering in pine grove (sunset), Joshua Tree Grove under rock

o Talk with Paranoia and Andrea while climbing from Bird Spring road

o Views into Butter Bread Canyon; OF snow covered ridges and Mt. Whitney

o Fire again closes trail

o Excitement/fear of pending High Sierras

08 June 2008

Kennedy Meadows General Store


I left the town of Mojave with seven days of food and five liters of water, this may have been the heaviest my packs been thus far. My Sunday start didn’t happen until almost noon, as I attended church in town. The three hikers in attendance doubled the size of this UCC congregation. The pianist kindly drove me to the trail.

Three days were windy and exposed. The gusts at saddles sometimes pushed me up hill. I met up with Paranoia, and we camped together in the shelter of pines a top of a ridge. We were able to witness a stunning sunset with our dinners. He and I hiked together for next four days. We met up with Sew-n-Sew, senator and Too Obtuse at camp near Bird Spring. The next 30 miles would have been dry without the generous water cache by trail angles Bill and Mary.

The terrain remained mostly sandy desert, but at times the vegetation blended with pine groves hinting at the approaching High Sierra. Another clue was the climbs grew steeper and longer. As the PCT wandered along beautiful valleys would appear down from each saddle or pass. And rocky ridge lines seemed to grow gnarlier as I left Southern California behind.

Very exciting views of snow covered ranges and a towering Mt. Whitney, spanned the horizon. This gave me additional pull to hike-on to Kennedy Meadows. I hiked most of Friday alone having camped solo, the night before, near Needle Peak springlet in the basin of Needle Peaks. It wasn’t until nearly dinner I met a section hiker. However, I continued onward camping alone again in Rock House Basin.

In camp early, 6:30p, I did some yoga and waited for sunset. The basin was expansive and sound of south Fork of Kern River bounced to my ears as stars slowly appeared. I awoke at 5:45a, and watched three lightweight hikers pass by. I packed eager for my destination and two scheduled zero days.

Relaxing and resting is a challenge for me. Yet I know it’s important for my body and mind to take a break. This is especially true because of the focus and energy that will be needed in the High Sierra. I am scared at some level; and confident at another. I think my fears are the fuel of my earlier doubts. The group I plan to enter the next 200+ miles with is well skilled and equipped for what lies ahead in the trail-less snowfields and bear country.

I spoke with Shoshana in Mohave. She helped me remember the faith in God who led me to the AT, JVC, silent retreat and carried me through is here to. I sometimes lose sight of God’s working on the macro-level of my life.

Well, I hope Tony and you enjoy your 50 mile trip in PA [It was fun. We had crappy weather, but otherwise it was a great trip]. From what you’ve shared, you seem excited to hike and spend time together. I miss mom and you very much.

Be healthy and take care.

Love Casey.

June 8 resting at Kennedy Meadows

Surprising to me there is Internet access in a trailer at mile 700 just a 1/2 mile off trail. I've resupplied and rested up. Thanks to all those who are emailing me encouragement. I'm moved and touched by the generosity of love and compassion for my journey and life. I feel more centered in my God. Trusting more in the Spirit which has led me before and through difficult times to carry me.

I wanted to share a friends blog. Senator updates his blog everyday via a Pocketmail device. His postings have more details of day to day happens and are uploaded weekly. I started hiking with him around May 8th. Click Here to read it.

I'm excited and nervous for the snow fields of the High Sierras. I'll start hiking by the 10th I think and make it to the North End by July 7th and rest up / recover at South Lake Tahoe for two days.

Be well.

Yours in God's Hands

01 June 2008

Click for Full Screen

30 May 2008

Aqua Dulce to Mojave



A dog pee’d on my pack before I left Hikertown. Bummer the odor clung to my chest strap for the last two days. I’m glad to have had the time in Mojave to wash and soak my pack with vinegar. Hopefully the odor will pass with miles ahead. A moment can change a lot.

This section has been unseasonably cool. I’m grateful for the beautiful 60-80F temps instead of the 100+ the norm. I’ve hiked many of the past 100 miles with Joanne, Andrea and Senator. Having company is a support, but sometimes group decision making is a headache. Each are lovely and supportive of my journey and helping me care for my turbulent hear. The miles have been fun, playing with sand art and sidewalk chalk.

I purchased new shoes in Agua Dulce, using a car at Hiker Heaven to shop at REI. The Invo-8 fit great. I had a neat opportunity north of the Saufley’s to run 7 miles w/o my pack. A group of us drove our gear 25 trail miles to a road-crossing where trail angels, the Andersons, host hikers. As my day hike was wrapping up, I came upon Mr. Joe Anderson restocking the Hiker Oasis: water, beer, soda cache. He took my pack and I ran on. Running was exhilarating, getting up my heart-rate and engaging my mind in a ????? way.

I rested at the Anderson’s for two nights. Watching movies and feasting on Terri Andersons taco salad was spirit lifting. I was glad to have been at the Casa de Luna (Anderson’s) on a slow night. Only 15+ hikers made for a low-key evening. The night prior had 40+ and tequila was the power of a rocking hiker party.

News travelled the trail 200 miles south from Kennedy Meadow to my ears. Uncertainty and doubt led me to call Mom to mail additional gear. Reports are that KM has been 20F below average making the Sierra snow covered passes at 10000 ft potentially below freezing. Plus the snow melt has slowed and an additional foot or two gathered over Memorial Day weekend. I’m dreading the added weight I’ll be carrying during those miles (bear can, ice axe, micro spikes, and more clothes).

My body is feeling better where it once ached. So my heel and ankle are healthy and strong. My right knee, started having a new pain. Maybe this acute tendonitis won’t grow beyond management. The tough part is I have all day to dream disastrous storylines. Other comments on my body come from various female hikers; apparently, I’m in the running for sex trail legs of ’08. My calves have elicited specific admiration. A reoccurring nuance is that my nose is peeling from sun burn again.

Today I took some time to investigate in prayer continuing my hike. My discernment, prods me onward. However, my mind has been throwing tantrum once in a while with my aching knee and heart-mind I know many of the potential bail out points ahead. I would say that I am as emotionally and mentally raw and sensitive today as I was after 6.5 months on the Appalachian Trail. Making for a roller coaster of a hike inside me.

I miss Burnett summer gatherings and Emily. I dream to be finished hiking in season to join Dan and you on a fall weekend trek. My future plans are still unclear, but ideas of graduate school are being toyed with in my head. My priority shortly post-hike will be family and Emily. May I be patient in my PCT journey and my life.

Thanks Tony for posting photos and journal pages. I sent new photos with this page [Ed: I think Mom has the photos. I’ll get them up as soon as I get them].



24 May 2008

Wrightwood to Aqua Dulce (Saufley's)

5/24/2008 (assumed date)


Simplicity is a gift when I am able to relax into it. Leaving Wrightwood, I was struggling to ride the life wave. I was awake and packed by 6am, however Joanne, Andrea and I didn’t make it to the trail until noon. Ah! I’m working with this stiff attitude of mine. After this rough transition, the hiking has been beautiful. Simple sounds of birds, sights of canyons, creeks and flowers are beautiful.

Sunday’s miles north of Wrightwood, the aroma of Sierras was in the air. As I marched up Mt. Baden-Powell, the trail disappeared often to snow patches. The white stuff slowed down my pace and made the miles harder. As I headed up late in afternoon, caravans of day hikers passed me returning to their cars going to their homes. Here I am being a space-age nomad with no address. Andrea and I left Joanne on a ridge top and descended into camp.

Little Jimmy springs camp, was full of PCT’ers. I made dinner by spare moonlight beneath towering pines. Later I spread out my Tyvek groundsheet to cowboy. Sleep was weak as bugs feasted on my exposed skin, so at midnight. I arose and pitched my tent. Rest was peaceful until 6am wake-up.

The trail meanders through pines and down into scrub brush. The variety has been wonderful and the weather too. As I descended in elevation, temperature cooled. I camped alone after sunset. Having very little water I hiked early to north fork ranger station before making breakfast. As I washed up I was struck by the life lessons my mom trained me to do and take care of myself, as I cleaned behind my ears at a water spigot.

Wednesday, I paced myself slowly because Thursday I would nero (low-mileage day) into Aqua Dulce to resupply. Wiz caught up with me and we hiked together. I spent a gorgeous morning hour at Mattox Canyon creek in a recovering burnt forest. Surprising me in that afternoon the trail intersected a road near a campground with a pool. So Wiz and I spent hours for $5.00 resting in sun and swimming. At 5pm we moved on.

The trail dipped into a rocky canyon famous for being scenes of movies. The sunset behind a foggy haze, reminding me of Star Trek. Wiz and I duck off trail to a patch of ground and shared camp with Sly, Tailwind and Tahoe Mike.

Thursday, the PCT shared a road into Aqua Dulce when I stopped for breakfast before going to Hiker Heaven.

The Saufley’s host hikers. There are cars for use and I caught a ride to a bigger town and saw “Indian Jones” in the theatre. Friday, I went shopping to buy 20+ days of food to mail ahead throughout the Sierras. New gear adorns my feet, with new Inov-8 shoes I’m hopeful my inserts help my Achilles in 500+ miles.

I’m with many hikers and its dinner, so I’m signing-off. I miss Dad and you very much. I may be done with my hike before Canada. My body is well, but I miss friends and family. One day at a time.


20 May 2008

New Posts and Photos pending...

Casey sent me several new blog entries along with 300+ new photos. I'll post the photos and begin entering the blog entries tonight. So, check back in a day or so for more updates (make sure you scroll down as they will be entered on the date he originally wrote them).


PS. I'm all caught up. I added 2 journal entries (5/10 and 5/16) and a slide show (5/16). Guess I wasn't as far behind as I originally thought.

17 May 2008

recommended read

Here is my hiking friend Andrea's online blog. Definitely worth reading as she has a persistence for detailed journal keeping that I do not.



click here

I'm in Wrightwood for a zero day. Enjoying the hospitality of two wonderful local trail Angels, Walt and Laurie.

Rested and well feed, I'll start hiking north tomorrow morning.


16 May 2008

Big Bear to Wrightwood

You asked me a few weeks ago if the trail was difficult to follow. These past three days I’ve referred to my maps more times than before. The PCT hasn’t been hard to follow when I’m on it, but there have been dozens of jeep trail crossings, where I’ve gotten turned around for a while.

Sunday morning leaving Big Bear city, a day later than my last letter said, I strolled north from Hwy 18. I took breaks to sit or climb rocks. I meet up with the guys I was dropped-off with near a small creek near Van Dussen Road. We moved on after joking of taking a ride trail back into town.

An hour later, undesirable choices were to be mad. The PCT was temporarily re-routed and I doubted the route and hiked back to the last trail sign, frustrated and impatient. Somehow Gopher, Naught Eyes and Sweekfish all took a wrong turn and how we met up. A decision was made to hike the reroute after maps were consulted (later I learned dozens of hikers ignore the reroute and enjoy water and clear trails).

Hours of 4x4 road walking, seemed uneventful until Naughty Eyes turned to us and said “If I see a ranger, I’m getting a ride.” He had been sick 3+ days in town and though he was better. Yet now 15+ miles into our day and with no known water source or distance to the end of reroute we marched on slower but with focus. Gracefully, a jeep drove by and I flagged down the driver. After calming and accommodating Julie, who was alone, she agreed to help Naughty Eyes (we introduced ourselves with our given names).

Now I was alone, because Gopher and Sweetfish pushed ahead as we’d slowed down. I was left with many uncertainties and ½ liter of water. The sun was setting I the rock filled habitat, very suitable for mountain lions. I walked waving my trekking poles and comforting my rising fears and fatigue. My pace quickened, until I arrived to the end of the reroute water and friends.

I had been on the trail for 12 hours and was moving for 8.5 of those. I properly did 26-30 miles. My feet were sore that night. Even then I was grateful to have been available to offer the little aid I could to Naughty Eyes. Plus, I had put myself within a half-day’s walk to the Deep Creek Hot Springs.

Monday was peaceful, listening to the creek beside me come in and out of earshot as the trail ducked into gullies. I made it to the Hot Springs and spent the night after 15 miles. Strangely, I had a hard time relaxing, in hot pools or swimming the creek.

I awoke slowly and again the trail snaked above a canyon carrying(?) bird songs and water-on-rock melodies. The beauty of this area may be an echo of God’s love for all of humanity. I found it a challenge to allow nature’s full-acceptance and non pretentious gaze wash over me. Still, even I knew that the “Good Book of Nature” was teaching grace and redemption.

The canyon emptied into a valley, but a dam has been constructed. Losing the trail before 9am I retrace my steps and try again. I bush-whack through an overgrown streambed and cross over on a well placed log. Continuing uneventfully along rolling hills until I meet Marlene(?).

Trail angel Marlene, has stopped at a road crossing and is serving up root beer floats. Even though its only 9am and a stiff cool breeze has me in a windbreaker, this local pastor’s “water to the ??? of ???” was a real treat. I had two.

I carried on alone for the remainder of my day. Near Silverwood Lake State park, I took a wrong trail for a wee bit before correcting my error. I paused for a brief foot soaking before my body craved to move-on. I made dinner in the park, but pressed on after 6:30pm to find camp.

Atop Cleghorn Ridge, the PCT crossed a 4x4 road. A small pull-out was my floor space. As I settled into my bag I watched the color show of sunset, and the rising taillights in the distance; tomorrow’s destination.

I awoke after sunrise and made the steep down-hills into Cajon Pass in 3 hours. The tread seemed to be cut into a giant sandbox. I wondered how, at the horizon, an interstate could be held up by these.

I took a half-mile side trail and treated myself to McDonald’s Yogurt, OJ and a hash brown. I laughed with BBBedop and Gopher who had been there an hour before then went to see about prices at the motel. Gopher and I split a room and spent the afternoon out of the blazing sun relaxing.

Thursday, I left anxious for the 22 mile uphill and exposed trail that laid before me. Yoga and a special letter from Emily before leaving settled my nerves. God helped by offering an overcast sky and a windy day as the temperature and I climbed.

The route provided views to the south of San Jacinto and San Gorgonio, plus I was nearly on top of San Antonio. I made camp with Arno, Gopher, Thrust, Just Ben and Prison Rob. Conversation was lively and warm, even though the temps plummeted with the setting sun, winds and 8000+ feet of elevation.

I’m now in Wrightwood at a trail Angel’s home resting. I’m not going anywhere tomorrow and will enjoy a zero.

I miss you and mom.

Photos: Kickoff thru Cajon Pass

Full Screen Slide Show

14 May 2008

Motivation - follow-up (5/14)

Thanks Tony for your encouragement and others who have emailed.

I'm feeling better, now 84 + miles north of HWY 18 and Big Bear City. As with all things, things change, my attitude has. Below are some of my comments on my mental / emotional swings.

I knew to expect vacillating emotions during hike. Typically mental / emotional security can be established with familiarity to a group of people or geographical location (I've heard adjustment takes 3-6 months, e.g. moving to college often 1st semester is extra trying). Since nearly everyday these change for me, I'm continuously going through transition.

On top of environmental changes, I'm exhausting my body most day with 6 - 8 hours of hike for 12-14 hours of being awake. Removing possible physical support that often carries the burdens of a stressful day.

In addition hiking for extended time, begins to simplify life, and thus allowing sometimes ignored / unnoticed feelings to rise up (read can amplify experience of feelings). I'm learning my cycles. I can almost tell you what time of day it is by what 'thoughts' / 'moods' enter my mind. (Doubts at 8 am, excitement at 9, day dreams at 10). Stopping in town places new stresses.

Towns are a rush of stimulation and to-dos for me. I'm still learning to ride the wave. I have also noticed that some resupply visits are flooded with fears. On the trail, I'm focused on shelter, water, foot placement / health, etc. suddenly in town, I don't need to worry about these. What I'm calling a mental / emotional dam opens up and I'm flooded in town. Clean-up can be slower than I like.

In conclusion my brother's comments are in response to one or more of these possibilities culminating on me. I'm ever trying to take care of myself (eating healthy, meditating, self-awareness, etc). Yet, I'm learning being emotionally healthy involves feeling all my emotions and learning to ride the wave with more skill.

yours in love

13 May 2008


It seems as though Casey is having a few bouts of doubt (and/or loneliness??) while hiking. I'm not privy to the exact cause, but Mom has had first hand experience on a recent phone call.

So, if Casey gives you call, please encourage him. Every little bit helps. Eventually, he'll run into a few nice folks that will provide a good self-support group along the trial. But the first leg of his journey has people a bit dispersed. This will be remedied soon as he enters the Sierra mountain range in a couple of weeks. At that point many hikers bunch up in groups to help with the potential navigation issues that can occur in that snow covered mountainous region.

Good luck Casey and keep going,


10 May 2008

I-10 to Hwy 18

I’m resting a few final minutes in Big Bear City, CA’s fire station. The 50+ miles here since my last resupply have been diverse and majestic.

Wednesday, Caitlyn dropped Joanne, Andrea and I at the I-10 overpass where we headed north starting at 6:30am. Looking west a rainbow was visible under a dark cloud blanket. Almost exactly at the trail’s line the rising eastern sun was diffusing the ominous cloud into blue sky. I felt only a few sprinkles and had a sun with me all day afterward.

The PCT headed across a gusty open valley before tucking into gold Canyon. Even at 8am, I started to bake between these rock walls. A few miles later I crossed a small saddle, saying goodbye to San Jacinto to my south and the Mesa Valley Wind farm between us.

Northbound I traversed above Teugon Canyon, looking into its jagged and steep gorge walls. At one switch back, I stepped into a dragonfly ascending, as 15+ bugs, hovered above the grass. Beyond the canyon, was a wide (500+ yds) watermelon boulder field which held Whitewater Creek. After, soaking my feet and meeting Senator, OPA and JS, I hiked on. My camp chose me. I rounded a bend and said this place is special. I had come upon Mission Creek. Small cascades and the resulting foliage invited me to camp. In the night, hearing the running water, I felt deeply rewarded.

Thursday, I started early, but walked slowly as I paused often to receive the love gaze of nature so pronounced along the 10+ miles of Mission Creek. After lunch time nap, the trail began to climb. Thankfully even with sun on me the air cooled as I shifted around a bend. With the increasing elevation vegetation grew to new heights offering shade.

By dinner time I had gone 19 miles, but wanted to go a bit further, than where Senator and OPA had stopped. I was glad I moved on as 750 yds north there was an open cabin which protected me from the chilly winds at 8600 ft. as other hikers arrived, a fire was built. I reminisced about Eric Ryback (at 18 years of age, he was the first to thru-hike the PCT back in 1970) saying a fire was his friend each night. Sleep was peaceful.

Down, down, down. Most of Friday was spent losing elevation under tall pin groves. Knowing the PO in town was closed Saturday, I wanted to get in. However, I was mindful to be safe and enjoy myself. I happened off trail to a small knob where I could see both snow covered peaks of San Jacinto and San Gorgoio(?).

As I neared town, small 4x4 roads had caches hosted by town service providers, promoting their place. I enjoyed a banana from Big Bear Hostel. And I did end up spending a night there. But my favorite cache had Jones soda. Yum!

Town was partially hectic, partially restful. I was glad to have a bed for the 1st time since April 16th and do laundry. I was grateful to Gypsy to for her stew she shared along with an apple-cobbler. Yet, I’m rarely rest filled with a to-do list in my head.

I wanted to thank you for the surprised filled care package. Also thanks for sending me the heel pads last week. My Achilles is feeling stronger. From your advice, I did soak my feet in bleach to kill a potential fungal growth. Hiking is sometimes more than full-time work, as I can never leave my body.

I’m anxious as of this moment. Daylight hours are dwindling and hitching can be slow. I look forward to relaxing again on trail. Especially, I’m looking forward to Deep Creek Hot Springs between here and my next resupply. Life is simpler between resupplies.

I miss you.

04 May 2008

Fuller Ridge Remote Camp to I-10


Last Wednesday’s news about Apache Peak fire was an unavoidable invitation to flexibility. It seemed reasonable to switch my recently added side trip to Joshua Tree to this past weekend and hope the PCT would be reopened by then. The unforeseen hook has been an increasing challenge to make plans as more heads and desires are put together. See after joanne, andrea and I were picked up by cathyn, we were now four, later caitlyn’s partner made five. So I’ve felt a wee bit trapped now by my past choices.

Thursday in Joshua Tree, CA

After taking care of business of laundry, cleaning and a visit to the local library, my go-go attitude struggled to settle to the unknowns. “Will the trail open in 3, 5, 7 days, more?”, “When can I finalize my chore list of shopping and shipping?”, “are we going climbing in Joshua Tree Natural Park?”

On Friday, getting news the fire was only 25% contained, skipping 40 miles seemed most reasonable. I felt comfortable at the time with this decision and I think this helped ???? to quick of our mounting options my group kept imagining. Now in motion to climb at Joshua Tree and then return to Idyllwild I expected greater sense of ease. Instead about an hour later I felt deep disappointment at having a hole in my PCT hike. Not until hours later, climbing and looking at the wondrous landscape in Joshua Tree did I have much inner peace.

Climbing at Joshua Tree is almost a religious mecca. Mom and Dad had generously taken time to search for my climbing shoes and harness then mail them to my host. My foot work and body felt strong. And Nico (Caihlyn’s partner) was an excellent guide.
Later that night we arrived back in Idyllwild. We were heading for pizza when I saw Gazelle and the ever-witty sasquatch in the parking lot. The seven of us enjoyed beer, pizza and laughs well past hiker’s midnight [9pm or sunset whichever comes later].

Saturday, unwound itself slowly. My usual early rising self, joined sasquatch for breakfast in town at a small diner, the Red Kettle. Inside the place was hoping with hiker’s bottled necked as a result of fire. Soon a new, vibe energized conversation. Reports were out that ½ the closed trail would be opened by noon. “Ah, now what? Shall we change our plans?”

Thinking through options, our plan to ride up to Fuller Ridge Remote camp and hike north to I-10 still was wisest. Sasquatch offered a ride for andrea, joanne and I up Black Canyon road. At the pull off, we crammed in Canadians—Collin, angela and partway up an 8 miles of jeep trail we picked up Trail dude. The ride was slow, however Sasquatch kept us entertained with his reported big foot encounter in 1996.

I didn’t start hiking until almost 1:30 pm and made camp @ 7pm. The continuous descent didn’t wear on my knees too much, but I do have new blisters on my feet. In my mind I kept imagining, how I might hike on and somehow, hitch or drive back and fill in the 40+ miles before I enter the Sierras. Thankfully the switch backing trail, jarred my mind into the present moment with stunning raw views of snow covered head wall of San Jacinto.

Sunday (today), I have only a few miles prior to our pick-up at I-10 (so I’ve been resting for several hours). I’m a bit troubled as joanne reported she desires to take several days off to spend with Caityn. I’m confused by my reaction as I have plenty of wiggle room in my schedule, but I have some wish to hike-on ASAP. Part of it for me is that I enjoy moving and hiking as much if not more than scenery and accomplishment.

A positive of this additional time is maybe the PCT will re-open and I can summit San Jacinto sooner rather than later and have a continuous thru-hike.
Thankfully for all this logistical angling(?) of plans the weather has been light and breezy, making the exposed sandy open trail more bearable.

May we all be at peace with our thoughts,

30 April 2008

Warner Springs --> Pines-to-Palm Hwy

A group of us caught a ride from kick-off back to warner springs. When catching a ride, I find it helpful to not plan on big miles. Usually hitches have more time consuming steps than I originally envision, I only hoped to go 5-miles to the first water source that Sunday.

Now in Warner Springs, I was able to relax and make a few phone calls, nap and eat a 2nd lunch before heading north to campsite near Aqua Calinte Creek. I slept near cup-o-joe, joanne and andrea, plus a few 100 years away from sly and papa bear had setup camp.

Aqua Caliente Creek was very rehabilitating to my spirit. Three zero days at kick-off made hiking seem abnormal. I guess I haven’t settled into a “hiking-lifestyle” yet, when the trail is home and zero days are excursions. In the fast flowing creek, I was able to find a spot downstream to soak my feet, aiding my Achilles slow recovery and strengthening.

Reviewing data book materials and water reports for this next section, I load out a casual pace. I had a package awaiting me at Paradise café off PCT at Pines to Palm Hwy and they would be closed Tuesdays. So hiking on Monday and Tuesday, involved many breaks in shade and naps. My routine of early mornings still is my preference and I enjoy walking a modest 2.5 mph pace. If I want to do more miles I just hike a longer day.

One of the unexpected results of kick-off was what I call the Warner Springs Herd. As hikers arrived Tuesday-Friday before KO in Warner Springs they’d hitch rides back to Lake Morena, but after KO many of them left Sunday after. As a result water sources, seem to crowd quickly as I would rest hikers south of me caught up. I was surprised how quickly, I was agitated by numbers. After about 4 hikers, I could feel my skin tensing???? And my mind restless.

I went to share on water source that has humorous story. Down a side road a home owner kindly allows hikers to get water from a tank. The story goes that the former owners were growing pot and hat this property confiscated and now the new owner mike bought it from the government. I spent several hours enjoying KO left-over which had been left in coolers on his porch. I even played around doing pull-ups his outside personal gym.

The trail continues to roll up and down and twits through gullies and saddles. In small isolated canyons, such as Nancy’s Creek Canyon, oaks grow, shading tall grass. I spent an hour relaxing with friends waiting for the hot afternoon sun to rest. I hiked on to the anza water cache and made dinner prior to a few more miles of hiking to setup camp.

The last night before resupply, strong winds were ???? to dark clouds and cooler temperatures. When I awoke, I was grateful to be carrying a down coat to keep comfortable in camp. The trail was part of a cloud as I clamed Table mtn. The sun didn’t burn through until almost 11:00am. By this time I had finished the descent into Pines-to-Palms Hwy.

I crossed the highway to connect the PCT, prior to my jubilant march to Paradise Café. Along the 1 mile road walk, I picked-up some trash with joanne and andrea. Paradise was full of 17 hikers by 11am. News of the Apache Peak fire irrupting north bound trail spread quickly. For now, I enjoy a pint and a Jose burger.