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.


Casey just called. He is aware of the small fire on the trail near Apache Peak. He was able to avoid that section of trail and is now safe in Idyllwild (a small town between LA and Palm Springs).

26 April 2008

ADZPCTKO plus 3 zeroes



I’ve been resting my body for past few days. I’m with a large gathering of hopeful and former PCT hikers at the Lake Morena Park at mile 20. The whole campground is full of gear and excited peoples.

I’ve been able to connect people, helping them to get their needs meet. For example, I introduced Joanna and Andrea to Gazelle (my San Diego Host). Gazelle was able to help Andrea get to REI to return her backpack. I went too and picked-up miscellaneous pieces of gear for two other hikers back at ADZPCTKO.

That group of letters stands for “Annual Day Zero PCT Kick-Off”. 2008 hikers are treated to food, multi-use bandanna and a LED light. Plus teachings gear and fun.
I’ve ran into hikers I met during my AT hike in ’04. Reconnecting has been life-giving. I’ve been meeting new friends as well. There are plenty of funny characters.

Yesterday I spend time trying on new gear. I think if would be a blast to visit ULA Equipment and sew my own pack under Brian’s supervision. Humorously at one point I was trying on packs myself and Brian had stepped-away then suddenly I was fielding questions from eight people. Plus I started fitting packs. Brian returned, I kept working. I really enjoyed sharing my passions and lightweight gear is one of my passions.

Different people have been trying to give me a trailname. Andrea and joanne think I’m a “Trail Mom” for helping take care of other hikers needs. Brian of ULA and Matt (Mosaic PCT’08) were joking of changing “Father Ounce” (my AT trailname) to “Lord Ounce”, especially appropriate as I deemed which pack would help customers. Back in Warner Spring, some called me “double-plate” for taking dishes from busboy’s hands.
I’ll be hitching a ride to Warner springs on Sunday. I’m eager to start hiking, but my Achilles still is sore. Now there are people telling me that it may progress into “plantar fasciitis”. If this happens my hike will be over. Speaking of my body, I was attacked by a rock on Thursday. As I set-up my tent the rock I was hitting on my stakes lept up and bit the tip off my finger. I have a tender split and blood blister on my middle finger.

I’m off to post this letter and visit with friends.

Love Casey.

23 April 2008

Mt. Laguna to Warner Spring

I left Mt. Laguna after 4 hours working through my mail drop and phone calls. When I packed up and walked the ½ mile back to the trailhead my Achilles in my right ankle had a bright warm pain. Being late in the day I was tired and my mental calm blew from my mind with the gust of the wind. As doubt and concern began to arise in my mind saying, “Will my ankle heal?, What’s wrong? How can I fix this? Will this take me from the trail?”

The majesty of nature pulled me back as I gaze before me through a saddle a range of peaks. I audible said “wow!”. Grace continued as some Trail magic came my way. In a campground 5 miles PCT north of Mt. Laguna I stopped for water. A woman asked about my hike and reported that the winds were going to be stronger and temps were going to be 10 degrees colder than our previous night. After mentioning that I didn’t want to spend $17 to camp, when the trail was free, Sarah offered me some dirt and I stayed with her. I was glad to call it a day and share some company.

Sarah reported that she’s helped many hikers over her regular trips to Mt. Laguna Recreational Area. She offered me wine and veggies and we talked until the cold arrived as our sun exited.

Sunday morning my Achilles continued to plague me, however I hiked on. This injury has been a kind of gift as it helps me slow down and be intentional in caring for myself. After struggling with the undulating trail, I chose to allow myself pain. This change of attitude from frightening to accepting my condition opened my mind to new ideas. Shortly following my moment of compassion, I thought of how to wrap my foot and ankle with a bandana. Then I was able to change my stride and relieve some strain. I hiked this way for the next three days. My ankle hasn’t felt any better; I am thankful that it doesn’t feel any worse.

My physical pain was counter-balanced by my emotional vitality. The trail offered me much energy during these ???? miles. As I descended into Mason valley truck trail on Monday the pet war guarded by decorated sentinels of brush poppies. These yellow flowers, popped-out against the various shades of browns and greens. Continuing down into lower elevations more colors of flowers sprinkled the scene before me.
Mom would not like how dirty my clothes have been getting. One day I was resting upon a rock looking down into San Felipe Valley a cool breezed comforted me. I was startled by a noise behind me. “What was that?” as I snap my head around. No one was there. Settling back into my seat I hear this noise again. With a little experimenting I discovere the source of the startling sounding. Moving my torso side to side, I hear the sound similar to carboard on sandy pavement. However my sound source was my dry and stiff shirt scrapping the rock I was sitting upon. Man I was disgusting. Ha!

My evolving morning and nighttime routine have helped me get on to the trail earlier. Now I can be on the trail by 6am, I started meeting new people. Medi??? Pastor (You remember that some people take trail names for the duration of their hikes?) is one. She is inspirational; she is recovering from a staph infection in her knees from an ’07 surgery. Her attitude and her smile was encouraging later that day some pct alumni past me heading southbound to the kick-off party.

My final night on trail I meet Andrea and joanne. These spirited girls are a delight to talk with. Joanne is celebrating her birthday Saturday. She is a bit of a spitfire. Andrea, walks with wonder on her face. We walked the last dozen miles into Warner springs together. As I left the trail to scrabble up rocks, Joanne invited me to take a side trip to Jashua Tree to do some bouldering. I’m really excited that this might take place.

They stayed on trail and I walked into Warner Springs. I meet up with B-1. He was grateful to learn that I carried his sunglasses that I found two days earlier. He offered me a shower and the floor space. I was stoked to have the joy of company and lodging for free. After dinner I soaked in the hot spring pool at warner spring resort, listening to B-1 share story after story from his 67 years on earth.
I'm catching a hitch to the pct kick-off party on Thursday, ill call from there.

Love Casey.

20 April 2008

19 April 2008

Note: Casey’s handwriting can be difficult to read. If what you read doesn’t make sense, it is not my fault. I’m not going to make much of an effort to ‘clean-up’ his reports. Also, he asked that I make the blog entry's post date match the date on the letter, so that his letters are displayed in order in which he writes them, not when I (or others) get around to actually posting them.

4/19/2008; 43.0 mile Mt. Laguna.


Starting at 6:20a I hiked leisurely into Mt. Laguna. As I passed Long Canyon, I enjoyed the pine grove, with this shade and a stiff wind, I felt chilled most of the morning. Within an hour of my morning's blister popping, the tape came off in my shoe, rather annoying redressing to follow. And my dry nose started bleeding again. Sure I enjoy hiking but the body is still adjusting.

Since starting two and an half days ago I’ve enjoyed how diverse the environment has been. My “desert-hiking” vision prior to starting was of sandy expanses of exposed paths in blazing sun. However, along my 43.0 miles thus far I’ve seen various flowers, Yucca, lilacs and others. The trail is lined a parts with trees and bushes of heights from stubbly sage brush, then short smooth-red mountain Magoheny to even towering mountain pines.

The trail’s terrain and tread has been rather hiker friendly. I can look up and out at the rolling mountains or abandoned air force bases 80% of my hiking time, this is up from 50-60% of my AT hike. As I look down into valleys from on high, boulders are strewn like salt and pepper in a bush salad. Sometimes I’ll scramble up a sloped boulder for a 360 view.

Birds and lizards are the majority of wildlife so far. I can tell temperatures are rising when birds stop chirping. On my first day from Mexico’s border I caught a glimpse of a mountain quail running across PCT’s sandy tread. Ravens often are the only thing interrupting the tint of blue. Hikers near me have mentioned rattle snakes, but I haven’t seen one yet. As I was reclining in front of Mt. Laguna store, four deer ran across my view. The melody of creation is nurturing to heart & mind.

My body is adapting as expected. Some blisters on my right foot, and my hips are tight when I start up after a break. With my loose and light colored clothing, I’ve prevented major sunburn. However, my lips and cheeks are a bit tender from exposure in Warner Springs and at kick-off party.

Yesterday, I spoke with no other hikers and camped alone. Only at the end of my light 12.4 miles did I talk with campers at Cibbets Flat Campground, where I got water. Seeing people was very satisfying after having a post-first day emotional/physical crash.

My New Balance 908 shoes are working well. And I’m really glad to have a down coat because the nights are abruptly cold after being in sun all day. But my last minute shirt switch in San Diego has been the best gear so far. My ExOfficio white sun shirt (no longer white) is cool and breezy and light. Plus under the arms, from cuff to bottom hem, is one-inch band of mesh.

Well my 3+ hour break in Mt. Laguna is nearly up. I’ve sent myself too much food, and this weight is making the next steps seem overwhelming. I'll write after kick-off.


18 April 2008

Letters and photos on the way...

I'll be posting Casey's letters (and photos) within a few days. Stay tuned.

17 April 2008

On the Trail #1--Day 1


Driving from San Diego, I began pondering transition. I watched city and highway change to suburbs then fields of scrub brush and grass. I reached the southern marker at about 7:00 am, and after several photos and sticking my hand into Mexico, I started walking. My heart swelled to my eyes with delight and joy.

Throughout my day I consider other changes that would come. I'm learning how to read different data material with each authors style. My body is adapting to my shoes and pack; minor blisters formed on my feet, and my hip bones are sore.

The view and temps have changed. I had the gift of a breeze the 1st day. The breeze was cooling even as the sun climbed and blared effortlessly through the blue clear skies. I took several breaks throughout my day. I was careful to keep my feet dry by changing socks often and drying my feet in the sun. I'm pleased to establish this health pattern early on--my feet are happy too.

The trail went from dirt path, then a brief 100 yd of road, to a small climb. My feet were sheltered by short brush on this SE slope. After lunch I crested the little climb and could see Mt. Howser's exposed face waiting for me. This final climb drained my bodies energies, however, my spirit still soars. At last I descended to Lake Morena Co. Park--bonus, a shower!

Much love,

16 April 2008

15 April 2008

Prep # 16 -- From San Diego Final Stage Point

Dear Jim,

I had a fantastic time visiting Portland last week. I'm glad I took the time to visit prior to my hike. Reconnecting with so many friends helped me settle my ever fluctuating nerves about my approaching adventure.

Tim and I drove thru Redwood Forest in route to San Francisco. We picked up a twenty-something hitchhiker who had endless stories. He left behind an odor when we drop in a town along HWY 101. Tim and I then made our way delighting in the gorgeous sunlight and warm temps (75+) to the Bay Area. We spent the weekend visiting friends, hiking and starring off at the bay. Our group had stumbled upon a regatta on Saturday. The transformation of the competing boats from homogeneous colored sails to brilliant billowing spinnaker sails was awesome.

I took greyhound to San Diego yesterday. And today, I'm taking care of some final logistics. I realized as I spoke with my host Carole (mom of PCT hiker Gazelle 07 & 08) that I've spent the majority of my effort these past 4 months working to raise money and awareness for the Al Forthan Scholarship Fund. To put it into numbers, I'd guess 70% of my effort so far for this hike has been for the Al Fund. This numbers will change drastially when I start walking.

So today I'll be writing - with gratitude- more thank you cards. Then doing laundry (I've been in same cloths for 5 days) and showering. Then I'll pack up and hit the trail sometime this week.

I hope your family is well and thanks again for allowing me to crash at your place for a week.

In Love,

06 April 2008

prep #15 -- Reason. We don't need no stinking reason

To decide to take the steps to prepare for the PCT, I listened to my heart.

Now as the day of actually putting foot on the trail approaches, I continue to reevaluate my decision.

By the graceful conversation with my friend, I realize there is no simple reason that I continue to say yes to Hiking the PCT. That having a simply reason may be a dishonor to God who is ever mysterious. So I continue towards my hike with an ever fluctuating motivation and determination.

Will I have courage to continue following this Mysterious Way of Grace through-out my life? Especially when societal norms and aversion to risking raises in my future? Thankfully I'm not in the future yet, I can be grateful for the clarity of my present choices.