July 30th – Day 15
PCT 1843.7 – 1863.5
I woke feeling fully rehydrated due to the extra water provided by the ranger yesterday. I still had plenty of water to finish the dry stretch of trail. It was a sunny, warm day, but most of the hiking was in the trees, so there was plenty of shade. The next water was Thielsen Creek, about 18 miles. I would still have to stretch the water a bit to make it. At about 8 miles down the trail I crossed hwy 138 and on the opposite side was a water cache maintained by a trail angel group. Most of the water was gone. Only one container with about a gallon of water remained. I took half of it to replenish my supply and moved on. This additional water made the rest of the day a piece of cake water wise. I made it to Thielsen Creek around 5 and fully loaded up on water, then moved on down the road to the next available campsite, giving me nearly 20 miles for the day. That was enough and I was tired.
July 31 – Day 16
PCT 1863.5 – 1877.6
Today was typical. Lots of shoulder pain. Lots of foot pain and blisters. I reached my water source at 14.1 miles which was Six Horse Spring and was about 1/2 mile off trail and down a deep slope. I carried my backpack down, which turned out to be a mistake. There were treacherous portions to navigate through that would have been much easier without the pack. The trail had several disgusting stagnant ponds before you get to a spring that has clean water coming out of the ground. Lots of bees competing for the water.
I filled up my water containers and headed back up the trail. At the PCT, I ran into a couple that was setting up their tents as there is camping there and they were worried about rain. The skies had very dark, angry clouds and you could hear lightning strikes in the distance. It was only about 3pm and I really wanted to get in 20 miles today, so I was planning to move along and take my chances with the rain. Just then, the sky opened up and hail the size of small marbles started coming down hard. I opened my umbrella and tried to quickly setup my tent in the hail. It was tough holding the umbrella, so I put it over my pack to keep it dry and setup the tent with hail smacking me in the noggin. Once I got in the tent, the hail stopped and the rain began. Lighting lit up the sky all around us and the thunder sounded like the mountain was exploding. Quite startling. At these times you feel helpless about your fate. At that point, I decided it was going to be a 14 mile day and stayed in my tent. Lots of other folks came by and camped there due to the rain.
August 1st – Day 17
PCT 1877.6 – 1896
I awoke at 4am as always but couldn’t get out of my bag until about 4:30am as always. Try as I may, I can’t bring myself to get going as soon as the alarm goes off, even though I’m wide awake. It’s cold and dark, making it no fun to get moving. I’m not hungry yet and I don’t have to pee yet. Peeing is what usually motivates me to finally get moving. Lately, I’ve kept a pee bottle around so I don’t have to exit the tent in the cold dark to pee.
I hate making breakfast, especially with the stove. I tried eating energy bars in the morning, but that leaves me feeling calorie deficient during the day. I don’t eat much until dinner, just a few candy snacks during the day, so breakfast is an important meal. I had everything packed up and started on the trail at 6am in my normal 2 hr morning fashion. Some day I will figure out how to get this down to 1 hour, but for now, I just can’t seem to do it, though I try every morning.
Today, the target was Summit Lake. It was a typical hike through dappled forests and somewhat sunny skies. I always melt when hiking in the sunlight, especially while hiking uphill. It seems to draw out all my strength and leave me a limp, sweaty, slow ground dweller. I take a lot of breaks when it’s hot and sunny and require much more water, which means carrying more water, which means sweating more, etc…
About 5 miles before hitting Summit Lake, armies of mosquitoes started attacking. They came in clouds about your head. I had to finally don the head net. Up until this point, I was untroubled by skeeters. Even now, I had not been bitten. Many of the hikers complain about being eaten alive, but they wear shorts and tee shirts. I have all parts covered with clothing except a little neck and face. My clothes are treated with paramethrin, which seems to prevent any biting through the clothing, hat, socks, and neck buff. I was terrified about mosquitoes before the hike after reading several blog posts about them, so I came well prepared. I finally added deet to the mix after hitting the Summit Lake area. I only need a little on my neck and face, and this was just a precaution. I have no bites. I put on the head net as the mosquitoes dive bomb into my face and buzz loudly into my ears, which drives me a little nuts. One comment in Yogi’s guide (the bible) talked about the mosquitoes in the area and suggested to bring a head net, deet and a gun to shoot yourself when you go crazy.
I got to Summit lake around 6pm and quickly set up my tent, as the mosquitoes were thick. After filtering water, I threw my full pack inside, jumped in the tent and quickly zipped up behind me. Ahhhh… no mosquitoes go inside. So far that has been the case every night. No one else parked here, so I was camping alone, which is typical. So far, the stick breakers in the deep, dark woods, have not freaked me out. I fully expect an incident down the trail that will change that, but so far so good…
August 2nd – Day 17
Miles: 16.8 plus 1 mile to resort
PCT 1896 – 1912.8
I woke at 4 and with the usual 2 hr morning chores, I got on the trail at 6. Today’s target is Shelter Cove Resort on Odell Lake. Only about 17 miles today and I’m looking forward to eating the hot dogs and frozen pizza they offer there. Shelter cove also has a fair sized store, so there’s lots of soda, beer, chips, etc to eat. Thick mosquitoes all day and sore, blistered feet. I was looking forward to stopping when I got to the resort. I even considered renting a cabin and taking a zero, but the cabins were all rented out. They had a camping area for hikers far away from the store in the woods. It was worse than you will find on the trail with no toilet or water nearby. For all that you get to pay $8 a night. Anyway, the two hot dogs were good. The pizza was marginal, but I had some cold pizza the next day, which was good.
August 3rd – Day 18
PCT 1914 – 1920.5
I stayed at Shelter cove until the afternoon as I needed to charge my electronics and it was taking a long time to charge the Kindle and the battery backup brick. Normally, you need to charge the backup battery overnight as it is a large battery. My chargers are all 1 amp max. I could use a higher power charger to speed things along. I debated most of the day if I should take a zero, but decided to get back on the trail in the late afternoon. There is a shelter (Maiden Peak Shelter) only 6.5 miles up the trail that is a big deal, so I made that my target for the day. I managed to yogi a ride to a road crossing the trail, saving me a mile to get to the trail, and skipping a mile on the trail.
I got to the shelter before anyone else and checked it out. It was small with wood sleeping platforms high above the dirt floor. There is a wood burning stove in the middle of the floor. Lots of openings around the shelter allowing mosquitoes, ants, spiders, etc. to enter at will. Also, there was a very strong, dusty odor that was probably due to the stove and was quite unpleasant. I decided to sign the journal and set up my tent outside for the night. Soon there were 6 other hikers there and we ate dinner and chit chatted outside on the picnic bench. A couple of hearty souls slept in the shelter, but most slept in their tents.
August 4th – Day 19
PCT 1920.5 – 1941.3
I was up first at 4 am as usual but by the time I got out of my tent, everyone was up and a couple of folks already headed out. We sat around the picnic table eating breakfast and chatting again. They all seemed interested in the story of my southbound attempt. I seem to have become notorious on the trail as word has spread. Several hikers have asked me on the trail if I was Blackhawk down, which is usually followed by a request for details. I’ve learned to tell a very abbreviated version so I can get moving again. I’ve never had this kind of attention before and it’s bit disconcerting.
August 5th – Day 20
Miles: 17.1 plus 1.2 miles off trail to Elk Lake Resort
1941.3 – 1958.4
Today, I’m excited as I’ll be eating in a restaurant at the end of the day. My feet are sore with fresh blisters. I’m looking forward to laundry and a shower.
The hike was mostly downhill today. This may sound like an easy day, but downhill is my greatest bane on the trail. It hurts my feet, knees and ankles. I have to go slower downhill than up. This makes for a long day. I’m expecting this to improve as I lose body fat, but old age is the real culprit.
I was moving along nicely, and only a 20 yards or so to the turn off to the Elk Lake trail, and there were two people with a cooler and goodies. TRAIL ANGELS!! This was a first for me on the trail so far (not counting water caches) and I was excited. However, it was only a mile to the Elk Lake restaurant and I was dying for root beer and food. I had a sprite and an apple and told them my story. They said they through hiked the PCT last year and felt like giving back a little. They were so nice I stayed for 20-30 minutes. When I started moving again, my feet were so stiff, I had to limp hard all the way to Elk Lake.
I had a big salad and a pitcher of root beer at the restaurant. Afterwords, I asked for my resupply package, but they didn’t have it. There was no record of it arriving. I didn’t have the tracking number because UPS said they would email it to me. They didn’t. I wasn’t worried about food as I had plenty yet. All I really needed was my medications. Lesson learned. Carry all medications for a couple months. Don’t break it up in resupply packages. You lose one, you’re screwed. My daughter had just overnighted some pills to me at Shelter Cove, so I was ok with those. I was almost out of my testosterone meds and was worried as to what would happen if I ran out. I’m very low-T so I need a special compounded prescription that has to be ordered and shipped. I should have done this right away, but I put it off for some reason.
I got a shower and washed my clothes. While waiting for my clothes, I sat around a public campfire with some other folks and it was nice and relaxing. For $8 I had the privilege of camping far from the store in the woods again. No amenities. These resorts seem to always put the hikers the furthest away from everything, which doesn’t make any sense. We’re the only ones without cars. We should be located the closest to all the services. They must think that since we walk so much, we don’t mind long walks to the bathroom or store. It’s not about effort, but about time. Going back and forth from the camp to the store/restaurant takes time, something we’re short on.
August 6th – Day 21
PCT 1958.4 – 1964.6
I got up a little late and spent the day waiting for my electronics to charge. I couldn’t decide whether or not to do a zero day. In the late afternoon, I got bored and decided to get back on the trail. I only went 6 miles to a campsite just past a lake. I had plenty of water for the night and for the next day hiking as there are a lot of water available in this stretch. Aside from mosquitoes, it was uneventful.