This post is a catch up for the first week back on the trail. I’m using my phone to type it and I’m quite slow with my thumbs. Its really just an unedited collection of notes and I apologize for the unprofessional presentation. Also, I have no pictures as I can’t transfer them from my camera to my phone. They will have to come later when I work it out.
I’m on an airplane heading to Medford Oregon where I will stay at a hotel one night, then, tomorrow I will give the PCT one more try. I’ve been recuperating from my last attempt to conquer the trail but its time to get back in the saddle again. I managed to hike three days last time before being foiled by 60 degree snowy slopes. This time we will forgo the snow and see how we do on clear trails. I broke up the trail into strategic sections that I plan to hike deliberately out of sequence. Starting at the southern Oregon border, I’ll hike north to the Canadian border, catch a flight to Bakersfield and hike from the southernmost point of the Sierras north to Oregon. Then catch another flight to San Diego and hike from the Mexican border to the Sierras to finish the trail. I may do the SoCal section southbound and save a flight. Not your traditional path but it provides a mostly snow free hike for the whole trail. This, of course, cannot be guaranteed.
After I arrived in Medford at 10:30 pm, I collected my backpack from the carousel, which took an inordinate amount of time. I would have started to worry but there were 30-40 others waiting for their bags, looking equally concerned. Misery does deserve company…
I caught a cab to the Medford Inn. The room was decent and the hotel looked like a two star trying to be a three star but not quite there. There were a pack of what looked like high school seniors bursting in and out of their rooms, coupling up around the pool area. Nothing scary
PCT 1725.5 – 1729.5
I needed breakfast plus some isopropane for my stove (can’t carry it on plane), so I went for a walk. Burger King was right next door so I had breakfast and moved on down the street. About 4 blocks away was a Walmart. Great! I got my stove fuel and checked out of the hotel.
I caught a city bus to Ashland. There was a thru-hiker on board and we got to talking, as thru-hikers automatically do. His name is Big Sauce and quite friendly. He got off before the end to hit a coffee shop. I road as far south as the bus would take me, which was about 10 miles short of Callahan’s and where the PCT crosses highway 5. I got off the bus and walked over to the highway 5 on ramp a d stuck out my thumb. After an hour and a half of watching cars speed by, ignoring me, Big Sauce comes strolling up. He suggested a different place to hitch. I was ready to try anything. Five minutes after we got there, we got a ride.
At Callahan’s we drank 3 beers and had the all you can eat spaghetti. Then we hit the trail at 6pm. I hiked about 4 miles and dry camped (no water source) for the night.
PCT 1729.5 – 1738
I got up late and didn’t get on the trail until about 9:30 or so. I was low on water and it was a very hot day. By the time I got to the water, I was dehydrated and exhausted. I camped at the water for the night.
Miles 5 trail plus 2 off trail
PCT 1738 – 1743
I decided to hike to the Green Springs Inn to eat in a restaurant and get a room or camp outside. I was hoping for a hot shower also. This was a short stretch of 7 miles but I really wanted real food and a nice bed for the night. I’m already finding my hiker food to be repellant.
When I arrived, I had a hamburger plate, which was delicious, and discovered the resort was hosting a wedding that day so all the rooms were booked. What’s worse, they are using the space that is normally used by hikers to camp for the wedding. There was no where I could camp unless I walk 2 miles back to the trail and walk several miles down the trail to find a campsite. I was tired and in no way did I want to walk even a mile more.
While I was staring hard at my map, someone asked me if I was hiking the pct. I talked to him about my hike and my current predicament. He said he was heading to Hyatt Lake Resort, about 7 miles up the trail, and could give me a ride. I took it.
I got a room but the restaurant was closed. I had eaten lunch at the Green Springs Inn, but was still hungry. I ate from my food bag.
The UPS truck arrived and I asked if I could send a package out. He gave me a form and said to use a credit card and leave the package with the Inn. So I put everything I could stand to do without in a box and left it with the Inn. Unfortunately, I put my Kindle and keyboard in the box, which makes blogging difficult. Also, when I zero I’m a room with no TV, it can get quite boring.
PCT 1750 – 1758
I got up around 6 and packed up to hike. At 7am, I headed to the restaurant and ran into the same guy that gave me a ride yesterday. I had given him $10 and he wanted to help out again. I told him I would buy breakfast if he would give me a ride to the trail (2 road miles). We ate and he took me back to the trail.
I hiked to Klum Landing campground. It was only another 8 mile day but my lighter pack weight was still killing me and wasn’t getting any better over time. I decided that I would hike to Fish Lake resort and do a zero day to heal up. I also decided to have Nicole (my daughter) send my smaller, lighter pack to Crater Lake so I can exchange it for the monster on my back. I’ll save 3 pounds in the exchange.
It was $20 to stay in the campground. Pretty steep for a campsite and some water. There were also pit toilets, which beats cat holes.
PCT 1758 – 1770
I hiked to South Brown Mountain Shelter. It has a water pump but the water needed to be filtered. Even then, it tasted like metal. Hard to drink even with flavoring added. The shelter was quite dirty and smelly. There was a wood stove in the center of the room and there were lots of openings where bugs can, and do, enter. I decided to sleep outside in my tent.
There were about 5 other thru-hikers staying there. We exchanged stories around a picnic table. They liked my helicopter story. I liked their large daily miles. Always over 30 and often over 35. I was embarrassed to say how far I was hiking each day. I gotta get a lighter pack!!!
I decided that I couldn’t stand my resupply food. I started buying food in the small stores. Guess I’ll be redoing my whole resupply.
Miles 10 plus 2 off trail road miles.
PCT 1770 – 1780.5
I got up at 4 am to get an early start, but it took over three hours to get on the trail. It usually takes two hours, which is still twice what it should. I need to work on a better system.
Another hot day with suffering and sharp shoulder pain. Twelve long miles toting that pack with the Buick in it. My knee was sore and causing me to limp. I had a blister on the ball of each foot. I was ready for a zero day. That means two nights in a cabin.
I got to Fish Lake and asked for a cabin with a PCT discount. It cost me $100 per night… ouch! But I was taking the cabin at any cost. It had a shower, bed, couch, full kitchen with refrigerator, microwave, stove, toaster, and coffee maker.
Zero day in cabin. No TV and no WiFi, though I could call and do text messages on my phone. I had sent the Kindle home so no video relief. I did get lots of rest with my feet elevated and ice on my knee. It was a good break and I felt much better.
Miles 22 plus 0.5 off trail for water
PCT miles 1780.5 – 1802.5
I was feeling so good after my zero day that I got up at 4am, hit the trail by 5:50am and completed over 22 miles. Good day but I paid for it with blisters and a sore knee. The only way I was able to complete this distance was due to the cold, drizzley day.
The pack hurt the whole way. I’m looking forward to getting my smaller pack. I went a quarter mile off trail to get water, but actually I went down the wrong trail by accident and stopped by a lake. I refilled my water containers and climbed back to the trail.
I found a campsite and slept alone.
PCT 1802.5 – 1815
After yesterday’s long miles, I couldn’t get up early and got on the trail after 9:30am. It was a hot day. After 12 miles I was bushed and decided to look for a place to crash.
I stopped at a campsite and talked to another thru-hiker who was waiting for his friends. He said he had ONLY hiked 35 miles today and it was too early to stop. He moved on to the next site which was 3 miles down the trail. His friends came along a half hour later and they continued on to meet him. Once again, I slept alone.
Miles 14.5 plus 6 miles on the wrong trail
PCT 1815 – 1829.5
I felt good today as I will be reaching Crater lake where I’ll take a double zero and pick up my other, lighter pack. I felt I was flying do an the trail. I had just enough water to make it to Crater lake, and no more. There were no more lakes or streams and I dry camped last night. This is the longest stretch so far without a water source; 20 miles.
With about 8 miles to go, I had to go around a large blow down (tree) and then I continued down the trail. The trail started going down steeply and got very rocky. Pretty soon there were lots of side bushes. It was a miserable trail. Suddenly, I heard rushing water, which made me stop dead in my tracks. There should be no water!! I pulled out my phone and checked my position. I was way off trail. After much head slapping and loud profanities, I dejectedly headed back up the trail. A 6 mile mistake making a 14 mile day into a 20 mile day. What’s worse is I didn’t get water when at the source. Now I make it back to the PCT and only have 1.5 liters of water to go 8 miles on a hot day. I was taking a break looking worried and a hiker named Ridge runner stopped to talk. She asked if I needed any water. I told her my sad story and she said she had too much water and insisted that I take some. I took 3/4 liter and thanked her profusely. I later wished that I would have taken more. I barely made it to Crater lake. I ran out a mile before and was dizzy and weak.
I stayed in Crater lake for 3 nights. Now I’m back on the trail again. I will update in my next post.