Its been almost a month since I started. I’ve had my highs and my lows, however everyone I’ve met along the way has made me promise to finish. The day before i got here to Agua Dulce, I hiked 28 miles (45 km’s). It was the first time I’ve pushed more than 23 miles in one day. So far the journey has been more of a mental one, the physical trials are there (28 miles takes a toll) but the excitement proved more powerful and somehow I was able to push an extra 4 miles that day. I kept picturing that I would get to Hiker heaven a trail angels house and that I could IM the family and Kristin. I pushed that last 14 miles and got here before 11am. I look back over the miles that I’ve done and i would never have believed it possible, the only obstacle is that everyday I’m hiking a few more miles, but everyday I set myself a goal that will lead me to Canada.
My last post was at Cajon pass, mile 342. we spent the night at a Best western there because of an impending rain storm that night. I got a great deal for only $10. The next day proved to be a really tough one. We started around 7am after an all you can eat breakfast, which was part of the deal! 5 miles into the day we crossed the San Andreas Fault line, I thought it would be a bit more visual, but it was mainly just dry creek beds. We’d been hiking through very thick mist/cloud since the start, only about 20m visibility. We then started the arduous task of ascending ~5000 feet over the next 17 miles. When i say 5000 feet that’s not a straight path up, the PCT has been nicknamed by my current group as the NTT (The National Torture Trail). The PCT meanders winds and drops down and up, down and up… Sometimes its ok, but mostly its frustrating.
By the time i had barely 500 feet to ascend and 6 miles of trail, the weather had started to pull in again, bearing in mind I was over 7000 feet (+2000m) in elevation. This was some of the hardest hiking I’ve done yet. It was cold, and very wet. I was alone and with no one I knew of behind me, I still had ~4 miles to go when I was hiking in the worst stuff. As soon as I rounded the saddle , the path meandered slowly dropping a measly 300 feet to Guffy campground where thankfully I met up with the rest of the group. The wind was reportedly gale force on the ridge, however Orange Ranger had scouted out a flat ‘marsh’ out of the wind 300 feet down on the side of the ridge out of the wind. That night was thankfully a good night. It wasn’t my coldest and my tent easily stood up to the weather.
The next morning we hiked a short 5 miles down to Inspiration Point where the PCT crosses Hwy 2. Orange Ranger had arranged for us to make a trip into San Bernardino, where some of us went to REI and Wal-Mart and we all went to In-and-Out and gorged on really good fast food. On the trail its a bit of a joke, we treat calories as the life support to our hike… 1000 calorie McDonald’s burger, tsk tsk, I need 4 times that daily.
We then headed back to the trailhead and did a cool 2 miles in the evening and camped at Jackson Flats Campground. Orange Ranger had left us and stayed in town, so just MileAMinute, Liane, Niko, Burning Daylight and myself spent a nice cool evening round a campfire.
The next day, the 3rd day from Cajon Pass, was one of the physically challenging days that I’ve done. The main obstacle in our path was Mount Baden-Powell, i was particularly keen to ascend this peak because of my history with scouts. It was after the 7th mile that day that things started getting tough. The snow started to get really thick about a mile from the summit and shortly the path all but disappeared. We ended up going straight up on our hands and feet. We ended up having lunch on the summit after only 7 miles, we were all drained already.following the ridge along and down would also prove to be difficult as most of the snow on the path was ice, and we would end up taking detours around the 1 – 2 m snow drifts that lay across the path. We ended up camping after 12 miles that day, we were also waiting for Niko and Liane as they were having trouble and took awhile coming down.
Day 4 led me past the 400 mile mark! After the previous day, today was hot! We covered 26 trail miles, because of some detours because of frogs, we estimate we covered only 22. We camped up on the side of a ridge near a spring, i arrived in camp nearly exhausted, I would however get a good nights rest.
The day before i got to Agua Dulce and Hiker Heaven, ended up to be a good day. It was hot and dry though, we hiked 12 of the trail miles on road because of a plant called Poodle Dog Bush (PDB). PDB is a nasty plant were the leaves secrete an oil that is apparently worse than Poison Oak. A trail crew that was removing the stuff sent 3 of their members to hospital with because of bad reactions. Luckily for us it is early spring and before it has bloomed, the PDB is supposed to be less potent now, i guess i will find out in 8 days or so when the signs show.
This day also turned out to be my longest, i covered a distance of 29.5 trail miles and i estimate actually hiked 28 of them because of the detour. As i said above the mental trumps the physical and arriving here has been a significant boost to my morale.
The day i arrived was a cool 14 miles and was relatively easy. The highlight of the day was walking through the Vasquez Rocks Park. The picture at the top of my blog is actually the Vasquez Rocks and they certainly lived up to their beauty.
I’ve been here now roughly 2 days, I’ll be heading out shortly before lunch and hope to cover 15+ miles before dark. Dan Miller will be joining me in a week for a section hike through the Sierras, it will be nice to have him along. He’ll leave me late June or so and I’ll have roughly 2 months to finish the hike.