Home About Fred To Order Contact Us

PCT Trail Blog


PCT Finished!
PCT End: 29-Aug-2009 Northern Terminus, US/Canadian Border

PCT Finished!
PCT Start: 11-May-2007 Southern Terminus, US/Mexico Border

Aug 31, 2009, Stevens Pass to CANADA

Left Skykomish Thursday, Aug 20. Reached the US/Canadian border about 5pm on Friday, Aug. 29 and meet Judy and Peggy at Manning Park Saturday morning. Over those 10 days, hiked thru the Glacial Peak Wilderness, the southern part of the North Cascades National Park, the Pasayten Wilderness and Manning Park Provincial Park.

North of Steven's Pass on US2, Glacial Peak Wilderness was a challenge because there were three bridges washed out from a 2003 flood, tree blowdowns, and some washed out trail. There is a detour that is a must for horses/stock, but most hikers now take the original PCT. Coming up to Red Pass there is a spectacular view of Glacial Peak and other mountains, but that afternoon clouds settle in and all I could see was the U-shaped glacial valley below the pass. The next day heading down to Milk Creek, there were three major wash outs of the trail, but negotiated all three down to the creek. I had been told by southbounders that there were two boulders that were an easy jump across. I didn't jump, but did lean across their V-shape and kept my feet dry. But really to no avail. I camped next to the creek and in the morning started up the 2,000' in 2.5 miles thru chest/head high brush. The dew quickly soaked pants and shoes, There were some major downed pile of trees, but getting thru them wasn't too bad because I could follow earlier folks paths up, over, under, or around. The next creek, Vista, had a small log across. Two southbounders just walked across. I did walk, but very slowly sideways using my treking poles as a balance. The next creek was a major roaring, silty, glacial creek. About a 1/4 mile up the creek was a big log--almost 2' wide. Many folks just walked across, but I decided to do a butt scoot. About 10-15 minutes later I was safely breathing (hard) on the opposite bank and took a well needed break. The rest of Glacial Peak was nice: great views of the peak and its glaciers; other peaks and crags, and many glaciers and/or snowfields. (Didn't have to walk thru any)

I timed my arrival at the High Bridge area in the Lake Chelan/North Cascades Park area to catch the first shuttle bus at 9am. I was hoping to stay at the Ranch which had tent cabins (plus more expensive cabins) and included three meals (all you can eat), but it was totally booked. Back on the bus, we stopped at the Bakery and I woofed down a large sticky cinnamon bun in recorded time. Next stop was at the Landing where there was a motel/resort. I was going to stay there, but, alas, it was also full. The last option was a (free) campgound just adjacent to the Landing. There was a shower (but I forgot my camp towel so kinda air dried with the help of some paper towels) and a laundry--had to wait a long time for someone else and finally just took their laundry out of the washing machine and then out of the dryer. (They came back after their bike ride and wound up waiiting a while to dry their last load of clothes. A hiker can only be so patient waiting for others to finish their washing chores.) Also picked up my last supply box from the post office. That evening I made reservations at the restaurant for 4 of us: a couple and a young gal who crossed paths for the previous few days. Great meal and had 'pot luck' dessert. After that the waitress asked us if we want some 3 day old apple pie that was set aside for the staff for free. Yes was the answer.

Catching the bus the next morning, it stopped at the Bakery. It was then that I realized that I had ''lost'' my camera. The camera wasn't important, but the disk was. I went back to the Landing and did find the camera, or rather someone else had. Took the next shuttle to the High Bridge, stopping at the Bakery and getting a blueberry scone which I saved until two that afternoon and ate a ham-n-cheese pastry on the bus ride.

Then it was off to the races since my schedule called for a Sunday arrival at Manning Park and there wasn't any cell phone reception to indicate any lateness. 14 miles that day, having started at noon. 26 miles the next day, trying to make sure that I would get to Canada about the time I had told Judy. The following two days were easier and more relaxed: stopped after 20 and 21 miles. Some rugged countryside with peaks, ridges, cliques, and some fires off in the distance. (There were even two smoke jumpers who were monitoring the fires.) I did arrive at the border -- Monument 78 with the cleared strip of land east and west of the spot marking border. There were 3 younger folks also at the border, but since two of them didn't have passports to get back into the US at a regular border crossing, they turned south to hike 30 miles back to a road in the US. The whole week was fairly warm, dry except for one evening shower, and almost no bugs--fairly unusual for the North Cascades.

The past month plus 2 days have been a delightful way to spend part of the summer. Blisters go away; soft bed now available; plenty of food to munch; family to be around,and the memories (and photos) remain.

Take care and may all your hikes/paths be enjoyable.

Aug 19, 2009, Skykomish, WA

Four days and 75 miles from Snoqualime Pass I arrived at Stevens Pass and quickly hitched a ride down to Skykomish. What a surprise the town is: it is the middle of a multiple year diesel leakage cleanup. Right now a three story hotel has been removed from its location, all ground underneath it is being scoped out, and gravel dumped in to replace the contaminated soil. The hotel will be moved back next week. The motel that I was going to stay in was to old, etc to be moved, so was torn down; so was the adjoining post office which is now in temporary quarters. I'm staying in an Inn which is okay, but no phone or TV in the room. The good thing is that it has a cafe which is the only one in town.

Back to the hike: From Snoqualime the trail climbs directly up to crest-top crags, winding in and out on a traverse for a number of miles. There are some narrow spots warning horse riders to check ahead and be careful. Off the cliff edges down some thousand feet, lakes shimmer. The trail drops into meadow lands, past churning rivers, and back up to another crest. For example, on Monday I started at an elevation of 3,400 feet. A few miles later crested at 5,600, than dropped back to 3,700, up to 5,900 and called it a day at 4,800. Even with all the ups and downs that day, I still made 22 miles.

The day before there was a detour because a bridge was out and there had been a small fire before that location. I came to a shallow river ford and decided to go barefoot across the river smoothed rocks. On the other side I had breakfast while my feet dried in the 40 degree temperature. And there was another potential ford of a much swifter/deeper creek, but luckily there were enough rocks and logs to hop across. So kept my boots dry these past four days.

The passage thru the Alpine Lakes Wilderness was awesome, which is why there were so many hikers going between Stevens and Snoqualime Pass. I guy I met yesterday took 14 days--he did many side trails.

I'm taking a zero day here in Skykomish. With nothing to do here in town except go to the Post Office, watch the cleanup activites, eat a few meals, and take a few naps my body should be ready for the next stretch of the PCT

Aug 14, 2009, Snoqualimie Pass (I90) WA

I left Packwood under cloudy skies. Five days later and about 100 miles I'm drying out in the Summit Inn at Snoqualimie Pass.

The weather forecast predicted showers Mon - Wed. Nothing happend on Monday, except a little rain that night. Tue saw showers on and off and -- what I not counted on -- mist, low clouds, or whatever it was. Distractred by a late Tue afternoon shower I missed my intended camping spot. I did find a spot under some trees: partly dry and partly wet needles. Lo and behold, the wet spots were like a sponge on the floor of the tent. I finally realized what was happing and use my 'camp' towel to dry the floor. By that time my long johns were wet on the butt and knees. I spred my jacket on top of my pad (which was also wet from the rain) and slept fairly well since my feet were on the dry patch.

Wednesday I had to wear my damp shirt and pants--but they dried quickly once hiking. Showers and mist all day and again a late afternoon downpour. Also had the opportunity to hang out my stuff at a cabin during my lunch hour. Although the sun didn't shine, stuff dried out. I wasn't that wet until had to hike thru some tall brush and young trees that crowded out the trail. It was like walking thru a wall of water. That night I sat in my tent with jacket, etc. on while boiling water in the eves of the tent--it was still raining. Did the same procedure as the night before: pad, jacket, sleeping quilt. Since I pitched the tent on a sandy patch there was not the problem of water seeping thru the floor. Slept nicely but had to put on wet clothes. Again they dried out, but it took a little longer, especially when walking thru wet brush.

On Thur two fellows passed me so most of the drops on the plants were shooked off by them. Mostly mist all day. Found and adbandoned logging road to camp that night. Actually cooked outside, but ate inside the tent. Pants only wet from knees down and shirt okay. Did the same procedure as the previous nights. Rained real had for a few hours that evening.

Friday morning started raining about 4. Finally stopped about 6, then I took down the wet tent. ( I stalled around having breakfast in the tent.) The rain stopped, but the brush was wet, therefore my pants were again soaking. Finally got to Snoqualimie about 1:30. Got a room. Took a shower--hot shower. Washed and dried clothes. Everything else is drying out in the room.

The weather forecast is for clearing and warmer temps, so I think I'll push on tomorrow.

The sad part about the past five days was the lack of views. Supposedly, there were very impressive sights of Mt. Rainer over four days. I took joy in being able to see across a valley when the mist rose and sure did like the one hour of sunshine.

Aug 8, 2009, Packwood/White Pass WA

Eight days and almost 150 miles later, I'm in Packwood WA. Got here this morning. Staying at an old hotel--no phones in room, shared bathroom, but really cheap. The most important thing is that they picked up my boxes from the post office yesterday since its closed today. They are also doing my laundry since the local one is no longer open. When I first got here a fellow in a jeep stopped to chat. When he asked my trail name and said Fred, he said Fred from Sagle. Turns out that I had met him at one of the Gatherings--place for long distance hikers to share stories--and that I looked like Ed Abby.

Leaving Cascade Locks Sat. morning at 6 the temperature was cool walking across the Bridge of the Gods. With raising elevation there also was a raise in temperatures (and humidity). By noon there was not a dry spot on my shirt and my pant were wet almost to the knees. My bandana was drenched from sweat from forehead and eyes. Yes, Peggy, I'm using NUUN--an electrolite replacement tablet. Starting at 184', went up to 3,400, then down two thousand, than back up, then down. (This continued for the next week, some days more ups and downs than others) (About 21 miles today)

On Sunday (Aug 2), was going to stop at a picinc grounds with a small lake near Stabler. The lake was gone--the dam on Trout Creek was being demolished. Made it to the County Store to get my resupply box--not sure if I would have stopped there if I had been driving--and even order a hamburger from the outside bar-b-que while sorting food stuffs. In the late afternoon headed up another steep climb after getting lots of water from a forest service campground facet. One thing with the hot/damp weather, not many bugs. (About 19 miles today)

Monday. Cool once on a ridge with a slight breeze. Passed a spring and later turned around to go back to it; wasted about 2+ miles because I wasn't focused. Some trail angels left a bucket of goodies for hikers: I took some oreos and peanut cookies. Ups adn downs again today. Some mosquitos a pain for a while. Stopped at a lake, putting my tent on some grass. (About 20 miles today)

Tue Aug 4. Tent wet from dew; dried it at noon while having my usual lunch of PB, bagels, jerkey, apple/pear/banana chips and every other day a proteir drink. Went past the Sawtooth Huckleberry Field that Am. Indians had been gathering berries since at least the 1850s when seen by an Army officer going thru the area. A little early for berries, but I did find a few handfuls over the next days. The bears have probably found all the ripe ones because their scat is dark purple and has berries scattered within. Found a whole piece of moleskin in the moring which I put on one of my heels. Both had been developing bigger and bigger blisters since the time I got the boots wet on Mt. Hood.. Felt much better. Rinsed my shirt this night since it was getting stiff from the dried sweat. And its getting cooler: down to the 50s in the morning. (Over 23 miles today)

Wed Cool in morning. Approaching Mt Adams, got water from a spring gushing from rocks about 7am. The 3 1/2+ quarts lasted until about 5 that eveing when I reached Lava Springs 17 miles later. It had been cool and wasn't a lot of ups and downs going around Mt. Adams. On the PCT, I guess we miss the really nice parts of Mt. Adams, but what I remember were the fields of lupines that I walked thru for almost 5 hours. Along the trial, burshing the lupines gave off a fragrence--or when the wind blew. Lupines were ahead, above and below the trail after going thru some clump of tress or around some rock boulders. Saw a youth corp group working on the trial--what a way to spend the summer. (About 23+ miles today)

Thur. Cool, almost cold. 40 in the a.m. Cloundy. Up and down again: up 1k, down 600, up...Walked thru brush for 3+ miles. Almost could not see the trail. Then open along and up a hillside approaching the rocks, glacial valleys, rushing water, etc. of the Goat Rocks Wilderness area. Dropped back into the trees to get a sheltered campsite for the night.(Almost 20 miles)

Friday. Up early, hiking past other tents. (Not PCT hikers, but Goat Rock trekers.) Went above 7,000' reaching a brink that dropped some 3,000'. Used a trail above a glacier that looked mainly like foot prints in the steep hillside. Trial was there further on, going along a knife like ridge. Some places the ridge was not moore thean 4 feet wide, dropping thousands of feet down each side. Some places the trail seem ed be little more than a foot wide. An exciting, awesome place to hike thru. It took me over 3 hours to go about 3 miles. A lot of picture taking and some very deliberate foot placements. A nothern thruhickker named Tomato passed me as if I was almost standing still. Stopped early after only about 11 miles of hiking at 3:15. (Didn't think I could get to the highway before dark.) Passed the time reducing the population of mosquitos. Was in the tent at 5:30.

Sat. 8+ miles brought me to Highway 12. There were a couple of nice views and walks, but mainly in the tress again. When I got to the highway, got a ride the first car going by. Had a late breakfast, showered, etc. and almost time to go since the library is closing.

July 31, 2009, On the PCT Again; OR

Once again I'm on the PCT trail. On Tuesday, 7/28, I took a bus to Hood River, OR, arriving in 104 degree temperature at 5 in the afternoon. It took three rides to go about 35 miles up to about 4,100 feet. The temperature at 8pm was still 85. I hiked for about a mile, found a more or less level spot and called it a day. Wednesday morning was almost cool--about 60. Hiked 4+ miles to get to Timberline Lodge--a massive resort/ski area. The snow board bums were all hitting the slopes on Mt. Hood. Since I had been out for so many days on the trail, I decided that I needed the buffet at Timberline. After many pieces of bacon --hikers really need protein--eggs, fruit, juice, waffles, etc. I was out on the trail basically circling around Mt. Hood. In the lateafternoon I did get some good pictures of Mt. Hood: all day it had been encompassed by a haze. Did cross one slity river getting boots wet. Rung them out and continued. When approaching one of the glacial washouts, there was small sand storms blowing out on the trial. In a few places the green leaves were covered with gray dust. There were also multiple black flies for most of the day. Even though above 4,000 all day, the temperature sure seemed high--at least my shirt/pants were soaked. Stopped about 7ish having covered 22 miles.

On Thursday my feet had a couple hot spots and a minor blister. Saw some local backpackers and a few PCT folks. That afternoon went off the PCT onto the Eagle Creek alternative. What a fantastic area: rushing creek, major waterfalls, a tunnel behind a 150' waterfall, cables along blasted out trail on basalt cliffs. Finally about 5 ish stopped at a small beach and had a quick swim. Didn't sleep very well for the third night.

After starting to hike Friday morning, realized that I could stop in Casada Locks and not really be behind time. Besides, my sleep deprived mind readily agreed that I need a good nights rest. I did get into town a little after 9 and checked into a Best Western. Since the breakfast room was still open, I had a second breakfast of the day. Shower, laundry, little nap, then to the post office to map out old maps--every two ounces matter. Went to the little museum--no a.c. so extremely hot--and to view the story of the "locks". Before the dam was built, the locks provided safe river passagae over the 37' drop and rapids on the Columbia.

Enough for now. I hope to be in Packwood next Friday and will be able to resend a note at that time.

July 31, 2008, Sisters, OR

A zero day in Sisters, 12 days and 287 miles after Ashland. No wonder my body needs a rest--maybe two.

The biggest happenings over the past 12 days were mosquitoes and snow on trail.

Mosquitoes. Heavy many places and in some places swarms. When a person stops and within seconds your pant leg is covered with black spots, the mosquitoes are there. When hiking and look behind and see clouds of skiters, they are there. When hiking and inhale a mosquito down your throat or up your nostril, mosquitoes are there. When black specks hit your eyeglasses or get inside the lens to the eye lids, there are mosquitoes. When Deet and a bug hat are your constant companions while resting, eating, etc., mosquitoes are present. When eating supper inside your tent just to get some peace and relaxation, mosquitoes are there. When having lunch up high next to snow banks and can take a nap after eating, NO mosquitoes are there--and such a wonderful time for such a small blessing.

July 31, 2008, Sisters, OR

A zero day in Sisters, 12 days and 287 miles after Ashland. No wonder my body needs a rest--maybe two.

The biggest happenings over the past 12 days were mosquitoes and snow on trail.

Mosquitoes. Heavy many places and in some places swarms. When a person stops and within seconds your pant leg is covered with black spots, the mosquitoes are there. When hiking and look behind and see clouds of skiters, they are there. When hiking and inhale a mosquito down your throat or up your nostril, mosquitoes are there. When black specks hit your eyeglasses or get inside the lens to the eye lids, there are mosquitoes. When Deet and a bug hat are your constant companions while resting, eating, etc., mosquitoes are present. When eating supper inside your tent just to get some peace and relaxation, mosquitoes are there. When having lunch up high next to snow banks and can take a nap after eating, NO mosquitoes are there--and such a wonderful time for such a small blessing.

Aug 7, 2008, Almost out of Oregon

I almost made it thru Oregon--about 58 miles short of the Columbia River. A sore foot--similar to last year--convinced me to stop hiking at Highway 26. I probably could have continued another two days past the snowfields on lower Mt. Hood to the Oregon border, but thought that enough was enough. It was six weeks to the day since I started back at Donner Pass. Being at mile post 2097 and having hiked 787 miles was enough for this season. Next year I should be able to finish the PCT...

Some body had posted a sign at the trail head where I started again after Sisters. The sign said that the trail was snow covered, treacherous, and crampons were needed in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. It suggested to go to Lolo Pass which is almost 125 miles ahead. Knowing that there were hikers ahead of me--as well as behind me--I ignored the sign. It didn't have any date on it nor did it indicate who posted it. A hiker's father said that it was put up the day before and that the snow wasn't too bad, at least part of the way.

I did run into snow, but the patches were not any worse than what I had already gone across during the past few weeks. The snow patches, however, were longer and didn't always end at the trail. Most of the time I could find the trail again in 5 to 10 minutes, checking one direction than another direction. Toward evening I had some difficulty finding the trail again. Arriving a a sign post (without a sign) at 6:00 and seeing a campfire ring with a flat spot, I decided to stay there for the night. I walked one direction, spotting some cairns, but no trail as I circled around for about 1/2 hour. The next morning I circled the other way, finding the trail in after about 30 minutes of walking. The trail had switchbacked under the snow bank right about the place where I had spent the night. The next couple hours were thru snow banks, but not a problem finding the trail. By early afternoon was going into Jefferson Park--a flat area with lots of running water from melting snow. With all the weekend backpackers, the tracks thru additional snow banks were easy to follow. Dropping below 4,000' there were no more snow banks, but a few mosquitoes that evening--just enough when I camped by a lake to sit inside the tent to eat supper. That evening 5 thru-hikers also stopped at the lake campsite--including two I had hiked with before Ashland.

The next day about mid-morning my foot started to hurt: one of the tendon attaching to the inside of the arch, It continued to be there the rest of the day, although I did hike 28 miles thru the flat Oregon forests. And the following day I knew that I should stop the trip this year since I was going much slower than usual. After getting to Highway 26--about 18 miles that day--around 3pm, hitched down to Hood River, staying overnight and catching a bus to Spokane where Judy gave me a ride back up to our summer cabin.

A most enjoyable six weeks: fantastic scenery; some smokey areas; interesting fellow hikers; enjoyable zero days, especially in Ashland; some trials and tribulations, especially the mosquitoes; wet feet going over and down snow banks; and a general sense of accomplishment of moving fur her along the PCT.

Take care and I hope to start these updates again next summer.

July 31, 2008, Sisters, OR

A zero day in Sisters, 12 days and 287 miles after Ashland. No wonder my body needs a rest--maybe two.

The biggest happenings over the past 12 days were mosquitoes and snow on trail.

Mosquitoes. Heavy many places and in some places swarms. When a person stops and within seconds your pant leg is covered with black spots, the mosquitoes are there. When hiking and look behind and see clouds of skiters, they are there. When hiking and inhale a mosquito down your throat or up your nostril, mosquitoes are there. When black specks hit your eyeglasses or get inside the lens to the eye lids, there are mosquitoes. When Deet and a bug hat are your constant companions while resting, eating, etc., mosquitoes are present. When eating supper inside your tent just to get some peace and relaxation, mosquitoes are there. When having lunch up high next to snow banks and can take a nap after eating, NO mosquitoes are there--and such a wonderful time for such a small blessing.

July 31, 2008, Sisters, OR

A zero day in Sisters, 12 days and 287 miles after Ashland. No wonder my body needs a rest--maybe two.

The biggest happenings over the past 12 days were mosquitoes and snow on trail.

Mosquitoes. Heavy many places and in some places swarms. When a person stops and within seconds your pant leg is covered with black spots, the mosquitoes are there. When hiking and look behind and see clouds of skiters, they are there. When hiking and inhale a mosquito down your throat or up your nostril, mosquitoes are there. When black specks hit your eyeglasses or get inside the lens to the eye lids, there are mosquitoes. When Deet and a bug hat are your constant companions while resting, eating, etc., mosquitoes are present. When eating supper inside your tent just to get some peace and relaxation, mosquitoes are there. When having lunch up high next to snow banks and can take a nap after eating, NO mosquitoes are there--and such a wonderful time for such a small blessing.

Particularly bad mosquito areas were in the Sky Lakes Wilderness and the southern part of the Three Sisters Wilderness. Both areas have a lot of lakes, ponds, standing water, and some moisture from snow melt. Just north of the Three Sisters and at the start of the Mt. Washington Wilderness while hiking thru basalt flows, no mosquitoes, although tough on the feet. And in the mornings when the temp is close to 32, again no mosquitoes. As I head north I expect more of the skitters, but now I'm mentally prepared and still have lots of Deet, bug hat, jacket, gloves, tent, and swear words.

Snow on trail. I think I mentioned snow before, but during the past days there were some particularly snowy trail days--on the ground not from the sky. In the Sky Lakes Wld after a saddle at Devil's Peak there was a long--many couple hundred feet--and steep snow patch. Luckily for me it was almost noon and the snow was pliable enough that I could walk--kick steps--across the patch. If I had fallen I probably would have just slid a couple hundred feet down to some nice soft rocks.

In the Diamond Peak Wilderness I took the regular PCT going up high rather than the mosquito laden alternative (which could have saved 7 miles). Hiking in snow patches for a couple of hours gets tiring. But this was where I had the mosquito free lunch and nap.

In the norther half of the 3 Sisters Wld, there were snow patches for almost 12 miles--but again mosquito free. I did some boot skiing--ie, sliding down some hills on the snow patch rather than making a big switchback. In these cases I saw others boot slides and figured, what the heck.

Other brief updates:
--Supper at Fish Lake Resort after hiking 17 miles on 3 quarts of water--a hand pump at a shelter didn't work

--Shower at Mazama Village (Crater Lake) campground; laundry and shower at store were closed because of a fire a few days previous. Pills, food, tissue, etc in small plastic--not ziploc--smelled like smoke

--Crater Lake Rim walk--what an astonishing, deep blue lake.

--26 miles without a water source, but no problem because I was well hydrated before I started; even had a quart of water left because of the cool day

--An alternative route going close to water, got confused about the trail meeting back to the PCT--the map and the layout of the ground features didn't match. Took about 6 extra hours going back to antoher connecting trail. If I'd continue for another hour of so I would have come to the PCT

--Getting a resupply box at Shelter Cove on a big lake (I forget the name); having a shower and doing laundry; and sleeping in my tent that night clean and without traces of deet

--Missed turn in Three Sisters Wilderness, realizing the mistake when I saw a sign that said "To PCT North". Fortunately, this was a connecting trial and I only went out of my way some 3 miles or so.

--Passing and being passed by three guys for about 7 days. Had met one guy in Etna, another in Seiad Valley, and all three again in Ashland. They go a lot faster than I, especially uphill, but I start much earlier and get ahead; then the catch up, etc....

July 17, 2008, Ashland, OREGON

Finally out of California--sure is a big state when walking it.

Now at Ashland, OR, at mile 1719.7 north of the Mexican border. Since I started at 1155, I've covered 564 miles, although 156 were fire detours, so actually hiked 408 miles in about 3 1/2 weeks.

Left Etna on Monday, getting the bus to Yreka then another bus to Seiad Valley. Dropped off at the start of the trail at 5:15 and proceeded to start up the almost 4,000' climb. I stopped about 8, drenched head to toe--even the camera case was wet. Shirt and pants were still too wet to use a pillow that night. Smokey that day and the next. Were supposed to have views of Mt. Shasta, but couldn't see very far. Even my eyes started to burn after a while.

The other 4 who rode the bus with me were ahead the first night, but I passed them in the morning--guess the youngsters need their beauty sleep. Same thing happened the next two days: they would get ahead of me, but with 'constant forward motion' over a long day of 13 hours I would catch them in the mornings.

Arrived in Oregon about 9am Wednesday. There wasn't any welcoming committee but did have a PCT register and signs posted that so many miles to Canada and to Mexico. Later that afternoon around 5 there was a Welcome Center about 5 miles out of Mt. Ashland. The Welcome Center was two coolers filled with beer and soda pop. What a nice break to sit on one of the coolers drinking a non-decaffeinated soda.

Arrived in Ashland about 10 this morning. Plan to take a zero day tomorrow and head back north on Saturday. While in Ashland I'll try to go to two of the Shakespeare Festival plays: seems like the appropriate thing to do in Ashland (eh, Lionel?). I'm staying a hostel, which hopefully won't be a mistake. I do have a private room--actually its a room with 7 beds but I've rented it for a private room. There are at least 4 other PCT hikers at the hostel, 3 of them I've meet before so it should be enjoyable.

Will get to an outdoor store to restock on Nuun, etc.

July 14, 2008, Etna, CA

Another hundred miles and a few hours off the trail in Etna. And it looks like I'll be jumping ahead for another 65 miles since the trail is close northbound--something about fires in this part of the woods. The PCT closed Saturday, but may be open tomorrow. If not, I'll take a bus to Yreka and then transfer to Seiad Valley and start north again. Now back to the update.

7/9 Wed Leaving Dunsmuir after an unsuccessful property assessment appeal by phone to Bonner Co., started to climb some 2,500' in warm, then hot temperatures. By the time I got above Castle Crags I was beat. I had to take cool down breaks, hiked from shade to shade, and really enjoyed the water almost five hours of trouping uphill. I had consumed 7 quarts of water since 9 that morning. That evening I was rewarded with a nice spot to watch Mt. Shasta and the bands of smoke caught in the rays of the setting sun. Oh, I did see a fox that morning. 17.7 miles today

7/10 Thur Over Trinity Divide in the morning. Smokey today. Passed an older couple NoBo section hikers. At Lake Porcupine, some CCY kids hiked in to clear a small trail off of the PCT, but it didn't need any work so they went swimming and fishing. At Dead Fall lake, a number of backpackers, and then day hikers. Knew I was getting close to a popular trailhead. 26 miles today

7/11 Fri Still bear signs on the trail: scat, torn stumps, overturned duff. Since I didn't sleep too well last night, kinda poked along, even taking a nap about 10am. Since I knew there was a 1200' elevation change, brought 3 qts. of water. Plenty enough, but reality part was that the trail climbed over 800', dropped a bunch, went back up, etc. Entered Trinity Alps Wilderness. Stark granite ridges, peaks, etc. About l24 miles today.

7/12 Sat Wasted about 1/2 hour looking for collectible water at some marshy areas. If I had reread the guide books, I would have known that there was plenty of water especially after the first two marshy spring areas. Saw the peaks specifically called the Trinity Alps, but the smoke dulled some of their features. Had cell phone connection at a crest where I could see 4,000' down into populated valleys. Got into the Russian Wilderness and almost instantly the smoke level increased--almost couldn't see across close valleys. Was on a granite slope for about 4 miles and was somewhat concerned that I wouldn't find a place to camp for the night except on the trail--which was narrow, usually not flat, and had periodic bear scat. Finally made it over a ridge, dropped into a timbered side of the ridge, and found a flat spot. 23+ miles.

7/13 Sunday Still smoky, but not as bad as yesterday. Continued thru the Russian Wld. Had to climb up and over a big snow drift. Met a guy named Billy Goat--I had seen him a few years back at one of the Gatherings (of long distance hikers). He was out for 30 days with two packs since he was not going to resupply; he would carry one pack ahead about 1/2 mile then go back for the other pack. On the trail there are all types. Reached Etna Summit road about 11 and read the trail closure sign. At least the Forest Service did leave a flyer explaining how to get ahead of the closure. Waited in some shade for cars heading left, finally realizing after two trucks passed to the right that I was supposed to go right. But it wasn't a disaster since got a ride with the next truck.

7/14 Mon In Etna stayed at a hiker's hut. The gal whose boot prints I followed for days is here. Another guy also showed up on Sunday. They rented a video last night and another couple that I had seen in Safeway in Burney came over to watch. Turns out that Disco and POD had hiked the CDT a couple of years back. Had fun talking about the CDT, especially in Wyoming and how they did not like Rawlins motels... Will go out for breakfast soon, and then more than likely catch the 12:22 Stage to Yreka and back on the trail by 5.

July 8, 2008, Dunsmuir, CA

Brief update of the nine days since I left Chester.

6/30: Mon. On trail by 11:30. Nice, clean, flat trail for a few miles--good looking, groomed forest. About 2 was joined by Mike--ShowOff--and walked with him about an hour. Then he took off running--he goes anywhere from 30 to 40 miles per day and is one of the first folks thru the High Sierras. No bugs--like last week--until late afternoon, then mosquitos. Entered Lassen Nat. Park and saw Teminal Geyser, actually a steam vent, about 7:30. Found a flat spot and camped for the night (even tho I didn't have permit) and had a cold supper in the tent: just too many mosquitos out there.

7/1 Tue. Boiling Lake early in the morning--lots of steam, fumes, etc. rising from the lake. Lot of forest walking, past a resort call Drakesbad too early to stop in for breakfast; past campgrounds with folks still in tents; past a few lakes. Out of Park by 2:30--had seen Mt. Lassen only once, but barely since there was a lot of smoke. Talked with a southbound (sobo rather than a nobo like I am) hiker. Dusty trail, dry, but no bugs. Hat Creek Resort about 6:30. Had a ham n' cheese sandwich with pot. salad and an ice cream bar. Hiked about another half mile and camped for the night.

7/2 Wed Got to Subway Cave, a lava tube, but flashlight not strong enough to to thru. Had breakfast and filled up with a gallon of water since no more natural source for over 30 miles--although a water cache about 17 miles out. After climbing up to Hat Creek Rim, there was another water cache so I topped off one of the emptied quarts. Hot and dusty for the next 13 miles--a fire about 20 years ago wipped out most trees, although I found three spots for a morning, noon, and afternoon break. Reaching the water cache about 4:30, sat in a lawn chair for about a half hours just enjoying being there. I still had plenty of water--about a 1/2 quart left, but its always nice to sit in the shade and drink a quart or so of H2O. After being so refreshed I misjudged the terrain and passed a number of small camping spots getting on a basalt ridge with no place to stop. Finally around 8 I spotted a small--but big enough for the tent--spot without big basalt ridges/chunks.

7/3 Thur Cool hiking in the morning, reaching Hwy 299 about 11. Trouble getting a ride, even through I had walked down to where another road reached the highway. Finally an old--really old--lady pick me up. She could hardly hear, but that not most important for driving. Found a motel in Burney, went to a Pizza place and then over to a store. But the store had closed--for good--just before I got there. Luckily there was a Safeway down the road aways. Meet two nobo hikers who were shopping--they had gotten a ride from about 35 miles back and were planning to start the Hat Creek Rim hike that evening to avoid some of the heat. Went to the library to read all the PCT list notes and delete them.

7/4 Fri Left motel about 5:30, stopping at McDs for 2 sausage/egg bisquits. Not sure that was a good idea since had a small reaction about 24 hours later. North of Hwy 299 there was a fire about a week previously--walked thru the burnt area for about a mile. A few remaining burning stumps. Got to Burney Falls State Park, following the Burney river when it was nothing--not even flowing--to becoming a creek, to a roaring stream, to a major water fall. Really cool--especially from the mist from the 129' falls. Crossed over a dam, thinking I'm sure glad there isn't an earthquake right at this momemt. Stopped for lunch under a trail bridge; a gal went over the bridge, stopped for water, and kept going. I never saw her again except for her footprints all the way to Dunsmuir. Windy at base of Red Mt. when I stopped for night at 6:50, but few bugs with the wind.

7/5 Sat Real brushy leaving leaving Red Mnt--over head in places and had to best guess exactly where trail went. Hear some chainsaws in the distance, as well as some horseprints. Eventually caught up the group of Backcounty Horsemen who were clearing the trail of downed timber. Had lunch a place called Moose Creek headwaters--the whole stream started a few feet above the trail. Got water, but even tho was tempted not to, I did put aguamira drops in my bottles: I don't want to be grounded if I get giardia again. One of the horse guys said that I would run into snow patches going up further, and sure enough I did. The first were just climb ups, overs, and slide downs. Then came the big patches: about 12' high, 20 to 30' wide and about 400 yards long. Up on top I kept trying to see where the trail might be, but didn't see it. Finally came down on top of an old road and hiked that for about 1/4 mile, getting comfortable when I say some cut ends of logs. Then another big snow patch for about the same distance as the first. When it ended I was at the junction of the old road and the PCT trail. I knew it was the trail because there was a PCT post a few yards ahead. Going across snow patched is much harder than just hiking--and much more sweat pouring out even when standing on a pile of snow. Since I wasn't sure exactly where the next water source would be, I got about a quart of water from the snow--what a cold rush drink that is. Eventually came to a water source, hiked a few more miles and stopped for the night.

7/6 Sun All downhill for 12 miles, with all kinds of water along the way. At the bottom to the ridge, walked past a campground still filled with 4th of July folks. By noon I had gone over 14 miles, but than come the uphill on a hot afternoon. (Sure glad I had some of the Nuun, Peggy's recommendation for electrolite recharging.) Arrived at Squaw Valley River about 5:45. Since I was so hot and shirt was salt encrusted, took a dip and washed out the shirt. Had supper and started hiking again since the next clime was over 3,000' and I wanted to get in some before dark. Found an old abandoned road about 30 yards off and below the trail that had one level spot. Nice soft pine neddles....

7/7 Mon Made it to the top of the ridge easier and sooner that I expected. Amazing what a cool morning can do for one's pacing. Mount Shasta sure looks inviting. Plenty of water this moring. Saw a bear who took off, then stopped and looked back for a while. Stopped short of Interstate Five to have lunch. An older guy was out for a day hike and was going about a mile more--he was going to give me a ride if I was still at the I-5 interchange. However, I got a ride almost immediately and was in Dunsmuir by 1:30. The B&B I was going to stay in is no more, so went over the the Travelodge. Don't regret staying there because it has AC. Temperature yesterday was 96; today supposed to be about 100. One of the cafes was only open 11-2; another had just closed and would be closed on Tue and Wed; another was only open Thur-Sun; and the laundry was being remodeled. Ever tried washing a 4 days of dirt out of socks in the sink and pants and shirt in the tub?

7/8 Tue. Today. Went to a little park by the Scramento River under I-5 bridges. Besides garden clubs, the elementary school kids helped restore the place. The 7th grade class wrote the trail guide, which I'm sending so Kathy/Peggy can see and maybe show to Judy H. Also went to the City Park which has a small botancial garden. All in all a nice morning stroll--what else does a bus man do on a holiday?

Went to a Thai cafe for lunch--great food. For tonight, I think I'll hit the hamburger joint. ---Just got a big scare--the computer logged me off and I hadn't saved. Thanks goodness it was saved by Yahoo except for the last few sentences. Saw Mike/ShowOff this morning. He's 60 miles up the trail, but came back to Dunsmuir to get his box at the post office yesterday and to meet someone to go hiking with for the next few weeks. I'm amazed that he gained 2 1/2 to 3 days, but I'm consoled by the fact that I'm an older gentleman who can only get about 25 miles a day. Maybe when I get in shape I'll be able to gain a few steps on him--if he's sleeping.

That's about it for now. Smoke is around, but only in the distance and is no real issue. The heat, tho, for the next few days will be a concern. In the lower areas its supposed to be 114 or so; up here around 100. I can just pretend that I'm getting ready for the Marathon de Sables--or maybe I'll learn to just say no.

June 27, 2008, Chester, CA

This update from Chester CA is three days earlier. Don't be fooled that I'm a really fast hiker--although I did hike 80 miles from Tuesday evening to Saturday at 10:30. The trail was closed because of fires and I hitched to Quincy on Saturday and over to Chester on Sunday. Today I got my drift box from the post office, recharge phone and camera batteries, re-mailed the box to Dunsmuir and stopped in the library to chatch up on the emails from the PCT list serve. Judy had already read most important ones related to the fires in northern CA so I was able to scan fast and delete the 230+ miscellaneous stuff.

As mentioned above, I started on the PCT Tuesday about 6pm at the top of Donner Pass. Made five miles, getting just past I80. The next day it was smokey but not too bad; made 22 miles that day with ups, downs, and arounds. That evening the wind blew from the east moving most of the smoke back away from the Sierra crest. With more-or-less clean air to breathe and not great ups and downs except for a 2,500' climb in the afternoon, made 23 miles. Saw a brown 'black' bear cub about two years old: when it finally hear me it flew down the hillside and was gone in a flash. Friday started as mildly smokey but not bad. By late afternoon the smoke came in with a vengence. I even put a wet bandana over my nose for the last half hour of hiking and called it quits about 6. It was getting too hard breathing--hyperventillating. Still made 20 miles that day. Sometime in early morning heard crashes from the woods then something running on the road panting as it hurried by--never figured out is it was an elk, a bear, a bigfoot. By Saturday I was pretty sure I would have to get off the trail. Judy had mentioned some closures and it was only time when I would have to stop. After 10 miles the trail was closed.

So I skipped about 100 trail miles on my fire detour. This morning I'll leave Chester heading north. According to Forest Service folks, the PCT north is not closed. The skies today seem quite clearer than the past two days, so here's hoping ...

1-September-2007, Truckee, CA (via Garfield Bay)
PCT mileage: 1156 -- Restart miles: 492

You may have guessed from the heading: I'm off the trail for this year. Two days out from Truckee I started feeling tired and lethargic. A virus of sometype may have added to the feeling, but as I was heading downhill for 7 miles to Donner Pass/Truckee I wanted to stop every 15 or so minutes for a rest break. By the time I got to Truckee I knew that it was time to bail--That was Wednesday, Aug 29. Its now Saturday and I'm still fatigued so it was a good call to listen to my body and head for our northern home.

The hike from Bridgeport went well. I caught a ride early morning and was on the trail before 8am. Some 75 miles later after crossing thru the Carson Iceberg and the Mokelumne Wilderness, and the El Dorado, Toiyare, and Stanislaus Forests, I reached Echo Lake (Resort--Post Office) which is about 20 miles out of South Tahoe. Along the way went up over passes, back down to valleys/creeks, past lakes, around weird, bizarre volcanic sculptures, thru forested areas, traversed ridges/crest, and paralleled some roads. The volunteers manning a FS info station at Carson Pass on highway 88 gave me a banana, apple, and some Oreo cookies. That apple sure tasted good when I stopped to eat it on top of a hill an hour later.

At the Echo Lake Post Office I was able to get my resupply box even though it was Sunday--owners of a small place have some flexibility. Lower Echo Lake was busy with hikers, etc. There is even a water taxi that takes folks up the lake for about 3 miles--there were quite a few weekend backpackers waiting for the taxi at the north end...

Desolation Wilderness was the prime focus of the weekenders and daily hikers. Since it was Sunday evening, I found a spot near Aloha Lake and took the opportunity to rinse my legs and shirt in the clear water. (No, I did not use soap--plain old water can remove dirt and sweat pretty well.) Past multiple lakes--Heather, Susie, Gillmore, Dicks, Middle Velma in the Desolations--the next morning.

In the Granite Chief Wilderness when I stopped for lunch on a high ridge, I finally looked up and wondered where those dark, widespread clouds came from. Decided to take only a half hour and semi-raced the clouds, making a clean get-away. Once down off the ridge about 3 hours later, stopped for a break and KA-BOOM right over me thunder rattle the trees (and me). Started to rain a little for about 30 minutes. Started hiking again once the lighting had gone away but there was slight drizzle/rain for the next few hours. First hours of rain in 28 days. Left the wilderness beneath the ski lifts of Squaw Valley and camped at the start of Squaw Creek. The rain stopped before I did, so supper fixing and tent raising was easy. The following day -- Wednesday the 29th -- after a 1200' climb it was all down hill as I mentioned above.

The California-Oregon border was still another 600 miles away, but those five or so weeks will have to wait for another year. Then there are still the 900 or so miles in Oregon and Washington. Since I'm finding it difficult to keep hiking for more then 4-6 weeks at a time, I guess I'll have a few more summers to play around with the PCT.

In the meantime I'll be trying to get some pictures ready for my web site, fredgaudetphotography.com.

22-August-2007, Bridgeport, CA
PCT mileage: 1018; mileage since restart: 354

Another zero day in a week. Wow, my body will not know what to do with all the rest.

I'm two days ahead of schedule. The rides from Mammoth Lake were quick--I was on the trail by 7:15 after three rides. Twenty plus days were a little higher than the 17 I had used as a planning guide.

When I got to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite it was the first time in 240 miles that the trail crossed a road. (Previously I had left the trail to find a parking lot, etc.) Traffic and tourists, which was expected. T.M. consists of a store-post office-grill in one building and a gas station/mountain shop next door. I did buy a replacement filter for my water filter--was getting harder and harder to pump after the dirty water a few weeks back. Also bought a hamburger at the grill--there is often a line across the street but at 3:00 o'clock I had no wait.

Once back in the wilderness, there was a lot more foot and horse traffic, especially to Glen Alum(?) where there is a High Sierra Camp--perma tents and a mess hall. I camped there that night--backpacking area was a little removed from the tents-- because it has bear boxes and bears were known to inhabit the area. Alas, still haven't seen any bears.

Seemed to be getting a little dried the further north I went. Some creeks, lake outlets were dry. In fact, one crossing was dry this year when last year, according to an email that I just got, was 200' wide and 4' deep and a hiker was swept downstream a ways before being rescued. Along with no mosquitoes I guess there is some benefit hiking in the Sierras in August. No storms and no rain in the next week's forecast. I did send an e-mail to the PCT-list regarding water further north, especially and sources that have dried-up.

Almost upon leaving Yosemite Nat. Park, the geology of the Sierras changed. Replacing the white granite slabs/domes/peaks was a volcanic type rock, brownish in color and different texture. On Monday I climbed up 1500' to the top of a ridge, camping for the night on a small flat space. The next morning hike was almost surreal: volcanic ridges/peaks along a lateral traverse for some two miles reaching the Sierra Crest again. (I hadn't been on the Crest since before my first town stop over two weeks ago--the PCT had gone over passes and down into valleys/canyons continuously, but not on the eastern crest.) After some ups and downs along the crest-line, headed some 1200' feet down to Sonora Pass. The guidebook says that with snow cover sometimes into late July, the trail down can be lethal. (Another good reason for hiking the Sierras in August--no snow on the dozen or so passes.)

Once at Sonora Pass, got a ride from someone who had stopped there about two minutes before I arrived. Bridgeport--about 8 blocks long and 4 blocks wide. Now to get a ride that easy tomorrow...Echo Lake in the next 4-5 days and Truckee (Donner Pass) in about 4 or 5. Given these time lines I should be able to find a motel room just before the Labor Day weekend.

15-August-2007: Mammoth Lakes, CA
906 miles on the PCT; 242 miles since starting again Aug 1.

July 31 was spent flying to LA, car rental to Bakersfield, shuttle bus to Lake Isabelle and then to Onyx, and trying to hitch from 7pm to 8 pm. Since no traffic, went across the street (highway)--Onyx is a very small town--to find a spot in the field. Did get a ride the next morning at 5:45 and was hiking again at about 6. The lower Sierras were dry, so I carried a gallon to 1 1/2 gallons to make sure I had enough water until the next source. Some were dry, others had a little flow. Even one, the South Fork of the Kern RIVER was dry, except for a few big brownish puddles which provided two quarts until the next water. As I got higher on the third and fourth day out, walked along the Sierra Crest, peering down into the valley about 4-5,000' below. I did stop in Lone Pine--down in the valley--for a quick resupply, shower, meals and motel sleep. (Lone Pine is where the Whitney Portal is--and where many who climb Mt Whitney pass thru.) Whitney Portal is also the end/start of the John Muir Trial which overlaps with the PCT for some 231 miles. It seemed like a lot of people were heading south on the JMT, or at least I saw very few going north.

At Crabtree Meadow, just below Mt Whitney, water was no longer an issue. I'm carrying about a quart to two quarts; the longest between sources has been only 7 miles.

I did not go to the top of My Whitney. I decided that I don't do 14ners. Didn't do any on the CDT, so why start now.

Hiking in the high Sierras is breathtaking, in more than one way. Seems like I would go up a 1,000', than down 500; up 2,500' and drop 3,200; up 3,000 down 2,500, etc. The highest pass was Forester at 13,200--the trail up one side was blasted from its granite walls. The next few passes were above 12,000, then some about 12,000. The latest passes were only about 10,900, relative pieces of cake.

The scenery is also breathtaking. Sheer pinnacles, peaks, etc. Blasted-out trails; multiple switchbacks. Mountain lakes and cascading creeks/streams. Alpine tundra and forested slopes. Sheer granite walls and rounded domes.

Bears? I guess so since I've seen a lot of bear boxes, those metal storage bins humans are supposed to put food into if they don't have a bear canister (a plastic portable bin) I haven't seen many signs, except for some overturned rocks, although a ranger said there were some around a lake. As I get closer to Yosemite I can expect to have some encounters--all positive I hope. The ranger did slap my hands rather than giving me a citation because I didn't have the right type of food protection. I have two Ur sacks--Kevlar bags--but didn't have the aluminum insert. Without it I couldn't sleep the area--but she gave me a break and showed me a side trail that was out of the immediate area. I also bought an insert so when rangers up ahead stop me, I can say "Yes" I have....

Mentioned that there are a lot of people hiking the JMT. Some plan to do the whole trail, but have a different time frame than PCT long distance hikers like me. I'm hiking between 17 and 21 miles a day (its a little harder than in southern CA) while many of them hike about 10-14 miles a day. So when I'm hiking between 6 and 7am and 5and 6:30pm I walk past mini-cities, particularly around bear boxes. I've seen up to two dozen tents clustered together. I usually camp away from others, away from lakes, etc. as a means of not being around places that bears have learned that people have food.

Eight days after my quick in-and-out from Lone Pine, I did go into Vermilion Valley Resort. Took their small ferry across Lake Edison. Showered, washed clothes, had breakfast, lunch, supper, and breakfast the next day. Needless to say, I was kinda hungry. Stayed at VVR for about 23 hours, but didn't have a zero day. That zero day is today in Mammoth Lakes. A zero day is a day and two nights without having to carry a backpack. Since there are trolleys in Mammoth, even the need to walk to the grocery store, etc. is negated. Since I already have most of my chores done, I'm thinking of seeing a movie this afternoon. I did find a bakery just across the street from the motel and have already had a pound cake and an apple fritter.

My internet clock time is winding down so I'll close.

18-June-2007: Mile 663 in CA
Leaving the mid-level desert west of Mojave meant climbing some 2,200' in the Telachapi Mountains. Took only a gallon of water to go some 17 miles to the next water source. Almost ran short because I forgot how much needed going uphill in hot, exposed, sunny areas. Once in the trees and with plenty of water (1.5 gallons), the next 19 miles didn't seem so bad. Did have more than a quart when I arrived at the next spring.

Hiked past high ridges of windmill on and off for some 7 miles. Next morning dropped out of shade of pines/oaks of 6,660 to about 4500': umbrella time for next eight hours. Even at 5,000 or so feet the Mojave Desert sun can be warm--heat bounces up from the sand as well as from above.

Thankful for 2 major water caches about 18 miles apart. These provided the needed fluids without having to drop off the ridges some 500'+ down to springs. Carried 1.5 gallons from water source to water source for the next two days.

Saw bear prints, but no bears. At one pass, two Navy jets flew about 100' above tree level, hot-dogging thru the pass.

Hitched to Lake Isabella where I decided to stay Thursday night. Shower, laundry, and food do the body/spirit good. Also was able to buy a broad-brimmed hat, tossing away the baseball cap (which only cost 0.75 at a Mojave thrift shop.) Local bus took me back up toward the pass about 15 miles, then hitched the remaining 17.

After some serious uphill--about an 1,800 foot climb in 4 miles, back into trees once on the north slopes. Start of the Sierra crest--at least according to the guidebook--and past some impressive peaks. After about 13 miles on Friday all of a sudden it felt like my foot bones fell about 2 inches. They didn't, but something happened to my foot. I decided to bail since there was an old abandoned road that went about 4 miles back to the highway. I didn't want to get to far away from an easy exit and the foot was hurting (some of the time). It made me think of the stress fracture I had in New Mexico 4 years ago--hurt sometimes but other times on level trail was okay.

So I'm off the PCT for now, leaving at mile 663. I got a ride back into Lake Isabella; the next day I took the local bus to Bakersfield. Rented a car, driving up to Kennedy Meadows to retrieve a box from the General Store (no post office) and then to Los Angeles the next day for a plane flight to Spokane. I'm now in the Sandpoint/Sagle area trying to get an appointment with a sports orthopedic doc, but both are booked until the end of July. If I have a stress fracture it could be healed by then...

I didn't feel too upset about leaving the PCT since I was planning to get off the trail in about a week in order get to a family get-together the first of July.

Hopefully, I'll be back on the PCT by late July or mid-August and to get thru the Sierras before the snow flies. If I don't, there's always next year.

If I start again, I'll send you a note that I'm off again.

9-June-2007: Mojave, CA
Left Agua Dulce about 5 Tuesday morning--nary a soul was stirring except one guy at the computer. Got a good day's hike in, going about 26 miles. I did pass another trail angel's house--I heard that there was heavy partying, etc and decided I'd pass.

Tuesday was the day it was getting cool/cold in CA. That evening as I was hiking up a ridge, the clouds were sweeping up over the top. Since I wasn't sure what the weather might be for the rest of the night, I put up the tarp. Had to use some gallon water jugs that were there to hold the tarp down. About 2 hours later the tarp came down--winds kept blowing from every which direction. Since the sky was clear, I decided to take the tarp down, putting it in its stuff sack. The wind kept up the rest of the night. In the morning I could not find my hat. I looked for about a half hour but had no idea which direction it may have blown. Thanks goodness it was cool and that there were some trees at the 5-6,000' elevation. I did get a bandanna and wrapped it around my ears and put plenty of lotion on the nose and forehead.

Wednesday the trail dropped to about 3,000 and then followed a road along the Los Angeles (covered) aquaduct for 16 miles. I did put up the umbrella all afternoon at least keeping the sun from baking my skull. I also hiked the longest day so far: 30 miles.

Water wasn't a problem: either there were caches or other sources readily available. The most between sources was 16 miles. There was even a "shower" at one of the water sources--since I was only one night out from Mojave, I passed.

Wind farms--about 12 miles of walking past the giant beasts catching the wind. I even slept last night with the whooshes over my head. I did see, I think, a couple of the wild brown (Spanish) mustangs that still roam those hills.

Made it to the highway about 8 this morning. Called a motel and they picked me up (and another hiker from another road). The Days Inn had a hiker rate and I also got the AARP discount above that.

The temp in Mojave is probably in the high 80s today. I did get a baseball type hat and used the bandanna under it on the walk (of a mile) to the library. When I go next door to the grocery store, maybe I can find another, if not this will work. And I hope the temps are still reasonable for the next 3-4 days.

ZERO Day tomorrow. Since I've been to the post office (twice), done laundry, and will have bought needed food, tomorrow should be one of total lounging about...

I'm bumping into more and more people. Some I pass on the trail; others have stayed in town here more than 2 days, etc.

So far I'm right on schedule. I start into the (beginning) of the Sierras on Monday, at least that's how it's billed. Really don't stay above 6,000 or so for the next week. Judy will be sending me a resupply box to Kennedy Meadows with food as well as my tent and some warmer clothes. I'll send a box back to her--collect--since there is not a post office at the general store. I won't be in internet contact again until about the 24th in Independence.

4-June-2007: Agua Dulce, CA
Got in Hiker Heaven about 9:30 this morning. The Saufley's--who basically turn over their outside property to hikers--have provided almost everything a hiker could want/need. There is a mobile home that provides a shower and a kitchen. They have a laundry tent so people can get clean clothes after showering. Donna does all the laundry--but she's not been here since I arrived so I'm not sure when mine will get done. There are 6 canopy type tents with cots. They have two vehicles hikers can use in order to go into LA, get groceries, etc. And two laptop computers so all can retrieve/send important messages. Many folks spend two or more nights here--there are about 12 here now, some will be here 3-4 nights, either waiting for new equipment or healing blisters, or just hanging out. I plan to leave tomorrow morning early, assuming my clothes are clean...

The trip from Wrightwood was fairly uneventful. I got a ride out of town at 7 and was soon hiking again up on the ridges above 8,000. I did go to the top of Mt. Baden Powell --I assume all you former (boy) scouts will know who Baden Powell was. Stayed fairly high in the San Gabriels for the next three days so the temps were on the moderate side. When the trail started to go down, the temperature went up. Nothing in the three digits--yet--but in Agua Dulce is about 90 degrees today. Did carry plenty of water, but had no problem getting between the 17+ miles between water sources.

Another hiker about a 1/2 day ahead of me saw three bears over 36 hours--more bears than people. I did see another black rattlesnake lounging in the shade on the trail; it didn't want to move, but about 5 kicks of sand finally got it off the trail.

I've been hiking with/behind a couple since Wrightwood. They left the evening before me, but I caught up with them on Friday. Since then we would jockey back and forth, all of us getting to Hiker Heaven about the same time.

On Saturday all three of us arrived at the Mill Ranger Station about the same time. After we found the water facet, kinda debated whether to just tank up and get going again or to have dinner -- it was about 6 -- and find a place to stay for the night. Soon there was a car full of weirdos that drove up and back and then stopped a little ways down the road. After a bit a 'lady' asked if we had any bandages, etc because her son had cut his knee. Found a gauze pad. About 5 minutes later a Forest Service truck drove into the driveway--we were just on the cement pad in the shade. They got out their first aid kits, then the car also drove into the area. The FS folks took pulse rate--all the EMT stuff. About 15 minutes later a FS fire truck with 4 drove up; then a Los Angeles County fire engine with 4 guys plus another truck with one. All in all quite a turn out for a fractured knee cap. After splinting, they all went their merry ways and we headed up above a trailhead parking lot to find some level spots for sleeping. Quite a response--hopefully they would be able to do the same for me. I guess for the Angeles National Forest their biggest issue/concern is recreation since as far as I could tell there is no logging, mining, or cattle grazing. Hence the response teams for recreational issues.

Sunday at another ranger station about 18 miles from the previous, I stopped for lunch and rest at 1. The ranger brought me over a chicken fajita and pot. salad--was that good. When the couple arrived, he bought them some as well.

After leaving that RS, dropped from about 4700' to about 2500' (with some ups and downs in between), crossing Soledad Canyon Road--a place full of RV parks. Since it was Sunday evening, not many folks staying over. I decided that I would hike up to a saddle away from all the possible turmoil, found a spot and stopped about 7ish. Monday morning at 5 I was surprised to see all the traffic heading towards LA. I guess there are a number of people of do live out in the rural areas, but pay the price in terms of commute time. I'm also amazed that there can be so much hustle-bustle but still have something like the PCT that will be away from all that in 10 or so minutes.

Ahead is Mojave. Itís not flat as I had hopped, but will go up over 6,000 then back down. I've checked the water report and it looks very doable. I'll let you know when I get there.

31-May-2007: Wrightwood, CA
Another zero day, ten days and 191 miles since last stop. Wrightwood (WW) is at mile 369, about a 6 mile hitch down Highway 2.

I'd calculated the time it would take to get out of Idyllwild and to hike back up to the PCT, so I didn't get to the next resupply town--Big Bear City--until 7:15am Sat rather than Fri night. Decided to not stay the night--motels basically booked for Memorial Day weekend. Instead, took a shower at the Big Bear City fire station, did laundry, and grocery shopping. Leaving Von's, I waited for a bus to get back to the fire station. Dial-A-Ride came first: Asked if I could get a ride--the driver said only for those who called, but she would let me ride as a "Senior--Disabled". I accepted and limped aboard. And I guess I'm "disabled" because it sure is hard keeping up with all the young turds--those 20 and 30 somethings-. But itís like the tortoise and the hare: they stop early, stay longer, and get started later. Somewhere along the way I pass them.

On second thought, maybe I'm not too disabled since I did three marathon days -- 26 miles-- in row since Bear City.

Since Mexico have gone thru the Laguna Mnts., San Jacintos, San Bernadinos, and now in the San Garbiels. An incoming wind from the sea has kept temperatures fairly nice in the high country, and not too bad in the low valleys. Crossing I-10 near Carbazon, the temp was in the low 90s. Only used my umbrella about 3 of the last 9 hiking days. Soon ahead, though, the trail drops below 4000' and temps will climb upwards. But for now am enjoying the coolness of WW.

I'm limited to a max of an hour a day on the library computer. I've already read the latest water report and deleted over a hundred emails and still have a few minutes left before I'm permanently shut down...

Hiked through a spectacular canyon for about ten miles Sunday and Monday--Deep Creek. (Vinnie, I think this is where your friend had concerns.) Got to the Hot Springs about 7am on Memorial Day. Still folks sleeping at that hour, but according to hikers, the day before was something else: drunkard with a rattlesnake; most high on acid or mushrooms; plenty of naked bodies in the hot springs. Anyway, at 7 Monday morning, nothing much happening. Kinda glad I missed all of it. For the next few hours there were gang taggings along the canyon. Glad I saw no one except fellow hikers.

Vegetation changes with elevation. Pines and firs up high; desert stuff down low. Have seen flattop buckwheat, globemallow (up to 5' tall), brittlebush; creosote, and many cactus plus other things I canít identify. Animals: few more rattlesnakes, plenty of lizards, some rabbits, a few deer, and two foxes. Surprisingly, there have been no cattle along the PCT, although could see a few in the distance.

Water is still the guiding parameter for the hike. Most water sources have been between 12 and 16 miles apart. When leaving I-15 McDonalds (yes I had lunch/supper there), I and three others carried enough water to get to a water cache about 7 miles away. I actually carried about a gallon, just because... And sure enough, the water cache was EMPTY. The other three decided to hike to the next water source about 16 miles away--they made it, but were hurting. I decided to go up to a highway about a mile away and bum, or yogi as itís called, for water. With two empty bottles upside down in my hands, a car stopped within five minutes. I got two more quarts from them and went back to the PCT about an hour later. Stopping that night about 8, then up the next morning early, I made it to the water with about a 1/2 quart left. I was glad I had gotten the extra water for the 3,000' 16 mile climb.

Got to go. Time is almost up in about two minutes.

21-May-2007: Idyllwild, CA
After 10 days of hiking I'm taking a ZERO day in Idyllwild, CA. Idyllwild is a weekend tourist town nestled at the base of the San Jacinto Mnts. Yesterday was like a zoo with all the Harley weekenders and others.

I started my PCT hike on Friday, the 11th. Got a ride from the airport all the way to the Mexican border just south of Campo and started hiking about 3:30. Made 11 miles through the desert brush before stopping that night. Most days I hiked about 20-24 miles, starting to hike about 5:15 and stopping around 7 to 7:30. I do spend at least an hour--sometimes two hiding in the shade (if I can find it) between 12 and 2.

My first stop was Warner Springs on Wed about 9am. Warner Springs Resort has special rates for hikers and it was good to get a shower and wash clothes. Problem with doing laundry was that I didn't have an extra set of clothes (they were in my drift box which didn't stop at Warner Springs) so I was walking around in my raincoat until stuff came out of the dryer. Usually no big deal, but I did have the opportunity to meet 5 other PCT hikers while dressed in the blue coat.

Speaking of hikers, I saw no one until the Tues. evening before Warner. Quite unusual, but I was about 12 days behind the herd/wave of hikers. There were 315 folks signed in at one location. And there were about ten or so behind me. I'm not quite the oldest old guy on the trail--there is a 69 year old and another 67er. (Dave, I did see Terry's name at about mile 145, 12 days ahead of me; so he must be doing okay.)

In the lower elevations -- 2,500 - 5,500' -- the temperature is warm--mid 80s or so. Not that hot, but warm enough for me to use the umbrella for almost every day. The day before getting into Idyllwild, I didn't need the umbrella. Elevation got up to 8500 in the San Jacintos. No rain, no snow--just sun.
Water is the major organizing factor of the hike, and will be for the next weeks. For the first few days I would still have about 2 quarts of water when I got to the next water source. I've finally scaled back a little but haven't run out of water. Sometimes itís been about 20 miles between sources--usually 10-12 miles. There have been water caches which have been most welcome and allowed the shorter distances between water. I have hiked off trail a mile and again 0.5 mile in order to resupply with H2O.

Food: I'm probably losing weight but trying to bulk up during town stops. I even hiked an extra mile and back to get to a restaurant in order to by a Jose Burger (a PCT hiker favorite): 1/2 pound hamburger, avocado, mushrooms, cheese, jalapeno with fries, coleslaw, tomato and pickle slices. When I got to Idyllwild yesterday afternoon, I did buy a large pizza. Couldn't eat it all, so itís in the motel refrigerator for snacks, like at 8:30 this am. I already had breakfast an hour earlier. The main purpose of a zero day is to walk very little and to eat as much as possible--and to take multiple naps.

About enough for now. There is a 30 minute limit on the library's computers and I've already been here an hour. And itís about time to get something to eat...

Photography by Fred Gaudet
Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Southwest, and Rock Art Photos