May 13
Overlooking the Mojave

07May-Acton KOA (445) to mile 465

I’d like to arrive in Tehachapi in 6 days, which means doing 15-20 mile days. This is supposed to be the hottest stretch of the entire PCT. I woke up at 4:15 this morning and was on the trail by 5 am with a headlight to see the way. It was cloudy overhead and stayed that way all day, keeping the temperature from what is normally sweltering to quite cool, needing a jacket when stopping to rest. Typically I go through about 3-4 liters of water a day, but today I drank a liter of grapefruit juice which I put into one of my Smartwater bottles (what we use instead of canteens) and just a little bit more. I arrived in Aqua Dulce at 9:30 and stopped at a local restaurant for a coffee and breakfast burrito. Soon afterwards, Donna Saufley arrived with a load of hikers including Rescuer, I introduced myself but apologized that I was heading on. Soon afterwards I met Gerhard and Lucia, an older couple from Munich, and so we spoke German together. They had my hiking speed, and personalities so similar to Katja and Hannes that I was sometimes thinking I was walking with them. We set up camp at the same spot near to a water cache. The Lord blessed me today with very cool weather in what is typically hell-hot conditions, and the weatherman predicts the next 5-6 days to be the same. Thus, I am not wasting time in “party” mode, but rather expediting transit through the desert on feet with no name. A few things to mention. I am seeing large amounts of Monarch butterflies, sometimes in massive swarms. They must be migrating north. I am meeting huge numbers of Germans on the trail, of all ages. They seem to all be enjoying the adventure, and they are all very polite. It is amazing how many Europeans come over at attempt the PCT!

Rocks of Agua Dulce
More of the same, movie scenes were taken here

08May- mile 465-mile 478

The weather continued to be cool, and I was making good time, but my left leg was hurting and so I decided to slow down a bit. When I arrived at Francisquito Valley road, there was a trail angel there waiting to shuttle me to Casa de Luna, one of those places that most hikers will stop at. It took nothing to persuade me to stop. I was able to chill out, and get in some fluids. The solder German couple arrived, and we decided to not spend the night at Casa de Luna but to be brought back to the trailhead. It was a very misty night.

Casa de Luna scene
Gerhard and Lucia, with Sticks in the middle

09MAY- mile 478-495

I decided on a short day today, and mostly found the trail in either gentle climbs or descents. I again decided to take it easy and stopped at about 2pm. The German couple intended to spend the night in the same place. The day started out wet, and stayed wet all day. This was great that the normal hot conditions were not encountered. It began to become a bit drizzly, and soon after getting in the tent, serious rain began, which continued much of the night. I cooked dinner in the tent, and was asleep sporadically much of the night.

Wet, cloudy day

10MAY- mile 495-517 (Hikertown)

I awoke and wished for an early start today but it was raining and everything was drenched. Though I was dry inside the tent, and my sleeping bag was dry, the tent was dismally soaked. I packed everything in side the tent, quickly took down the tent and headed out at about 7:30, a very late start for me. Gerhard and Lucia were not yet up and we agreed to consider camping at the Horse Camp 15 miles away. I arrived at the Horse camp at about 1 o’clock, had lunch, and decided it was only 10 more miles to Hikertown, and to head down, since it seemed like it would be raining some more. It did. I wore my rain coat all day, it was cool, and I arrived at Hikertown drenched, hoping that they would have a cabin free. 40 or more other hikers hoped for the same thing. We all got shuttled to the community center at Neenach, where the mayor graciously opened up every possible room to accommodate us. It was crowded and uncomfortable but we had no other options. There was an associated restaurant and C-store where we were able to be fed, and a few hikers to satisfy their desire for beer. It wasn’t the best night, but it allowed us to get some sleep outside of the rain.

Yes! 500
Another wet day, overlooking the Mojave
Hikertown

11MAY- mile 517- mile 540

Today is a day that is almost always done as a night hike, since there is no shade and one is fully exposed to the sun. On awakening, the weather appeared to be cool and overcast, so we decided to go for it. I got my belongings packed, was able to dry out my tent in a drier out back, had breakfast at the restaurant, and then got shuttled back to Hikertown. I will re-emphasize how grateful I am to the people at Neenach for caring for us hikers in desperate circumstances. It was most delightful to walk the path that almost always is walked at night. Almost the whole day was walking either roads or the Los Angeles aqueduct. Only towards the end of the day did the trail start to climb. The trail went through about 5 miles of a wind farm. Finally it started back into the mountains. At that time a thunderstorm came in. I wanted to make it to Tylerhorse Canyon campsite, but being unsure about the thunderstorm, arrived at a campsite about 1.2 miles short of my goal and quickly set up camp for the night, getting into the tent just before the downpour. The sun then came out briefly, but the anticipation is for cool weather for the next few days. Without to much difficulty, I should be able to make it to Tehachapi by tomorrow evening. Each night, I cook dinner, often in the tent, carefully inspect my feet for problem areas and sore spots, and then review the maps and Yogi’s guide and make a plan for the next day. Each morning, my tradition on the trail is that once I hit an easy spot on the trail I will sing (out loud) the Doxology and Gloria Patri. The trail has educated me on the glory of God’s beautiful world, full of the most creative and enchanting beauty, whether in the landscape, or the plant life, or all the diverse animal life on the trail. Being anthropocentric in my thoughts on the world, I realize that God created this all for our enjoyment and delight—His creation loudly bears witness to His being as well as His loving care for us, His children. Thus, it is good to start every day off with the Doxology!

Now is the time to add a few comments about trail physiology. The 2nd through 5th day at the end of the day, I found myself to be increasingly dizzy and lightheaded, something that happens to me after a hard bicycle ride, when I realize that my blood pressure was dangerously low. Finally, I realized that I needed to back off on the blood pressure meds, and I’ve been feeling great since then. I’ve talked a bit about a common experience of insatiable hiker hunger. Quite honestly, I haven’t experienced that yet, and my hunger is actually diminished. Rather, I have an almost insatiable thirst, best met with ice cold sugary soda pop. After my I-10 incident, I’ve also had a strong craving for grapefruit, which is superb at quenching thirst. Something not often spoken of is hiker brain. After many exhausting days on the trail, the brain shuts down to thinking about most things. I constantly think of Betsy, but serious thought, or ability to read a book is almost impossible.

Sticks with friend on the LA aqueduct
Me on the LA aqueduct
Much travel on road, here through a wind farm

12MAY-mile 540-Tehachapi

I was a little slower getting up than I had wished, but was a 5:45 start for a bit shorter day of just 18 miles. The sky was cloudless. It was fairly easy hiking, but all uphill for more than 9 miles. At the top of the climb, some precious trail angel left chairs, umbrellas, and water, which served as a nice place for a break in the day. It was mostly downhill from there. On descent, I was making good time, but started to have excruciating unbearable pain in my right leg anterior muscle compartment. It got worse the longer I was on it. I had this pain several days before descending into Hikertown, and noted mild discoloration of the skin of that area, but now the leg appeared swollen, very erythematous, and painful to touch, with pain on ascent and descent. I knew that I needed to give the muscles more than a day or two rest. Thus, I will be pausing the hike for a bit. My plan is to skip the last 85 miles of the desert and resume north of the high Sierra, returning in August/September to complete the high Sierra.

So far, I’ve gone 558 miles of the PCT. Except for a very short portion, I’ve completed the desert section of the trail. It is also the hardest section, in that one needs to be obsessed with water, which happens to be quite heavy. I’m sure the water weight had a small bearing on my leg injury. The desert was beautiful and for those who live here, it’s been the greenest ever in many years. So, even though this year is bad as a snow year, it has been a great desert experience. I’ve learned much in this short time, like gaining a better understanding as to how to deal with long sections without a Resupply, the types of foods that one would prefer while hiking, what equipment suits me best, and how to maintain a psychological positive frame of mind. Regarding equipment, a double walled tent flunks, especially in adverse weather. I will be doing with a single wall, lightweight Zpacks Duplex, weighing 19 oz versus 36 oz for the tent I’m currently using. It Is not free-standing, but uses your hiker poles rather than tent poles. Freestanding is a misnomer since the tent MUST be stakes down in all but the mildest weather, when you really don’t need a tent. I miss an inflatable air mattress and will change brands to one that seems to be more reliable, or just go with a slightly heavier pad. Though my shoes are super comfortable, my feet need to be out of them at the end of the day, and lightweight cheap sandals will soon be a part of my pack load. My Osprey hydration valve started leaking, a common problem for that brand noted on the internet, so I’ll be using a military version of the CamelBak nipple. That’s it for now. People asked me why my trail name is Pilgrim. I just sort of got that name, I’m not sure exactly how. But, we are all Pilgrims. Hebrews 11:13 (KJV) calls us strangers and pilgrims on earth. John Bunyan’s most read classic of all time, Pilgrims Progress, depicts us all as pilgrims. John Bunyan also gives Pilgrims their own song, one which has been put to music and commonly sung in the church in Bedford, England, Bunyan’s home.

  1. Who would true valor see, let him come hither;
    One here will constant be, come wind, come weather; There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent his first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.
  2. Who so beset him round with dismal stories,
    Do but themselves confound his strength the more is. No lion can him fight, he’ll with a giant fight,
    but he will have a right to be a pilgrim.
  3. Hobgoblin nor foul fiend can daunt his spirit; He knows he at the end shall life inherit.
    Then fancies fly away; he’ll fear not what men say; he’ll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.
Morning overlooking the Mojave
Hills above Tehachapi
Cheap but nice motel in Tehachapi
Very red painful leg, probably injured muscle
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May 06
Hiker trash in Wrightwood outside the village market

02May- Wrightwood (mile369) to Little Jimmy Campground (384) Today was only 15 miles but a very challenging day, in that I not only needed to climb Mt. Baden-Powell ( named after the guy who started the Boy Scouts) but most of the day was walking through very challenging steep snow with Microspikes on, and often with a very indistinct trail. It was a bit exhausting. I decided against the short ascent to the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell since the snow was so challenging to walk in. The views were still quite awesome. I was able hitch a ride out of Wrightwood with Scott and Ingrid, and felt great with the hike until the snow hit. This should be the last snow of the “desert” and it gave for a real challenge. Worse yet, there wasn’t abundant water sources and I knew that I would need food for six days so the pack was heavier than appropriate. From Mt. Baden-Powell, the trail followed a snow covered ridge up and down for a number of miles. Sine most of us are wearing trail running shoes that are terrible in snow, we attach microspikes (kind of like crampons) to our shoes in hopes of keeping from slipping. Finally the trail became dirt again and I stopped at a spring to get water for tomorrow. Typically, it is advised that even spring water be filtered for organisms which I did. The camp was nice, surrounded by snow, and after cooking dinner, was able to join the 20 or so other campers around a campfire that somebody started to dry out the shoes and socks soaked from walking all day in the snow. The next few days should be a little bit shorter and tomorrow, the they-hikers must all take a detour which adds a few miles to the hike. The detour was enacted in an effort to save the yellow legged frog.

Trail covered with snow
Summit of Mt. Baden Powell
Rare campfire on the trail
Tent surrounded by snow

03May-mile 384-mile 395

The length of the walk today was actually about 15+ miles, since I had to walk a detour around a section of the trail blocked off to hikers, in an effort to save the yellow legged frog. After descending to the road from Little Jimmy camp, the trail ascended needlessly to near the top of Mt. Williamson, and then immediately taking you back to the road. After a short trail interlude, the detour began, with a 4 mile road walk followed by a two mile trail to take you back to the PXT. The PCT then climbed up to Cooper Canyon camp. The camp had a stream nearby, it was hot, my mojo was depleted, and knew that an early rise in the am would work wonders.

Descending back into desert
Detour to save the frog

I’ve had a lot of thoughts now about the trail. The further you go, the more you think about your equipment, what you like and don’t like, and what you would do different. I detest my tent. I think that I am going to order a single wall dynemma fabric tent for the next section of this venture. I need a separate drinking cup. The sleeping bag has been awesome. The pack has been super, with the exception of how it handles hydration packs. The Osprey hydration pack is so-so, as the bite valve now has a leak. It is also hard to know how much fluid is in the reservoir while it is in backpack.

I also contemplate on how a trail is representative of life in so many ways. It is mostly a struggle, but the joys overwhelm any struggle. There are good days and bad days. Beauty surrounds you with the handiwork of God but it is so easy to not notice it. Your past experiences provide input into new decisions, but are never perfect and must be coupled with trusting God for wisdom in every decision. Each turn and bend opens up new and mostly unexpected vistas, just as in life it is impossible to predict what the future will bring. Trusting the Lord for each step of the way is for both the trail Pilgrim and the life Pilgrim. Often one wonders why the trail is running the way it does-it often seems like it should be taking an easier course, and then a bend it the trail and a view of where one is going explains things. It’s a lot like Scripture, in that we often question things in God’s Word, yet a broader view explains the wisdom of God’s commands.

04May – mile 395-419

Today ended up being a little longer than I had planned. After getting on the trail at 6 am, it started as an uphill climb top highway 2. The trail followed highway 2 for a considerable distance until leaving it for good. It was then vey up and down with a lot of climbing though the general trend was downward, leaving the ponderosa forests and again entering a desert climate. Water became my primary concern. I had missed an important water source, and then noticed that my planned camp was high on a ridge and windy without water. There was a fire station the trail passed by that provided water for hikers, and just a short distance beyond was a day only picnic area where a Scottish mathematician (Rescuer) and I decided to set up camp. I think that they are used to PCT hiker s using any available spot possible to set up camp. I cooked dinner (Idahoan mashed potatoes) and then set up camp, filtered extra water, and crashed.

Mile 400
Desert
My feet and bottom of tent
Top of tent

05May- mile 419-mile 445 This was another long day. Starting at 6 am, I hit the trail, leaving Rescuer to wake up. The trail further became desert, and with a very dry air. Guthook suggested there might not be any water on the trail so I was loaded. The plan was for 18 miles, camping at a ranger station. Most of the bulk of hikers arrived at the ranger station at about 1 o’clock where he had jugs of water for us. In addition, he came out and offered cold pop for a dollar. I quickly consumed two cans. We all decided that since the Acton KOA was only 8 miles away, we would hike there. I made it by 5:30, and was able to order some pizza. Other hikers had a few cases of beer to drink. Most of the hikers were going to do a short hike tomorrow to Hiker Heaven, but I decided to zero tomorrow and run into Acton to Resupply for the next phase of my adventure.

Mojave desert under clouds
Descending into Acton

06May – zero day, Acton KOA Today was restful, with well needed recovery.

Hiker trash campsite at KOA

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May 01
Mt. Baldy in the clouds

I took a zero in Big Bear Lake and definitely needed a day to relax. I’ve learned than unless for a reason, two zeros together is not a good idea. But, feet get very sore after 4-6 days of hard walking, and they just need a rest. Talking to many other hikers young and old, sore feet are a universal phenomenon when doing 15-25 miles a day.

26April -mile 266- mile 286

Today my feet just felt like walking. Even thought I started 2.5 hours later than usual, I was able to get in 20 miles for the day. There was some climbing up into the hills above Big Bear Lake, but then it was a fairly level trail though Ponderosa woods with some snow still beside the trail. About the last five miles was a bit more exposed to the sun, as it went through a burn area. Camp was at the end of that burn area.

I lost Broken Arrow, though I am sure he is right behind me a few miles. Of the 30 some people I’ve seen on the trail today, about half were from Germany or Netherlands. The people on the trail now seem happier, possibly because the trail is weaning out the riff-raff. Because this next stage will be over 100 miles, our packs are quite heavy from food. Worse yet, hiker hunger is starting to hit. The first few days on the trail, I didn’t feel like eating. Now, I have a very weird appetite, and will eat anything. Tonight I had Bombay Potatoes, something I usually don’t like, and they were quite delicious. Strange things happen on the trail. I have been eating like a pig in town, yet I continue to need to snug in my belt and pack straps. Weight loss?

Above Big Bear Lake

26April – mile 286- mile 308

This was a long hot day, mostly descending a narrow river canyon. The greatest advantage over previous desert days was the recurring shade in the canyons, and the presence of occasional streams. The route ended at a hot springs, which was also frequented by locals, leading to a raucous atmosphere. I should have gone on, but was tired and unsure that close camping accommodations could be found. It was a noisy night. As I learned the next day, there were no good campsites close so made a good decision.

Much hiking through narrow canyons

27April- Mile 308- mile 328 (Claghorn Picnic Area)

I barely got any sleep at all, as it was a very noisy night, with lots of headlamps going off and on. I was on the trail before 6 am and made good time all the way. The trail started as a continuation of a steep valley with rushing river below. I then encountered a dam, had to wade across a knee high river, and then the trail went up into the hills, overlooking a large green meadow. At mile 314, there was trail magic, ex-hikers handing out ice cold sodas. I instantly downed two. Eventually the trail encountered another large dam structure with the hiker on the bottom. Gradually, the trail went upwards and a very large lake, Silverwood, became visible. Many speed boats and entertainment boats were on the lake. My decision was to end at a campground on the end of the lake by the trail. I was able to order pizza a a 2 liter root beer. Even that did not totally quench my thirst. It is odd how this breezy environment keeps one perpetually thirsty. So, I’m a bit sore and thinking about an easy day tomorrow, after talking to an elderly couple southbound on the trail.

Looking down on Silverwood Lake

28April 328-342

It’s Sunday, and I thought that I would be a little more relaxed today, so only did 15 miles. It was still a touch strenuous, with a moderate amount of climbing, even though the last few miles were all downhill. It was a beautiful day, and the landscape quite green, considering that I was in desert. I decided to stay at a hotel at Cajun Pass for several reasons. One was because I was feeling unusually dirty, and was getting mild hiking jock rash. The rash happened yesterday so I put some salve on it last night, and by morning, it was better. But, it means one needs to wash their clothes as they start rubbing rough on you. Secondly, the trail to Wrightwood has no certain water sources, 26 miles, so I wished for only one dry night of camping. This will put me into Wrightwood mid-day on Tuesday, and I’ll do a zero there, as well as pick up my Resupply. Thirdly, I’ll be able to camel up, meaning, mildly over-hydrate myself. After a couple days out in the desert and dry winds, it is easy for me to put down two liters of cold drink in a short span of time, and then still feel thirsty and not peeing well. So, fluids are consumed in mass quantities whenever possible. Finally, a hotel lets me get everything recharged up, and make a long call to my most beautiful and wonderful wife. There isn’t an hour that goes by on the trail when I don’t think about how precious she is to me.

I have a new pair of shoes coming. The desert is very hard on shoes and and I have completely worn out the ones I have on now. There are still no blisters but the feet bottoms get very tender by the end of the day. I hobble and people probably wonder about my ability to walk at all. I become clumsy without my hiking poles. Thru-hikers are a very strange bunch!

Looking down on Cajon Pass and across to Mt. Baldy
Narrow canyon exiting to Cajon Pass
Infamous Cajon Pass McDonalds

29April Mile 342-364

The mileage was actually 23 miles and about 6-7000 feet elevation gain. It could have been a horribly painful climb, but it wasn’t, as the temperature was cool and overcast. It’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow. I started the walk out alone, and about 4 miles in, after escaping the I-15 traffic (it was a traffic jam last night and remained that this morning) and getting by the train tracks, I encountered Megs (Sticks) . We hiked for about 4 hours together and then she needed to make some phone stuff so I shot ahead. The trail crossed the San Andreas fault and then shot up toward Mt Baldy (San Antonio). There were some beautiful sites. The trail climbed relentlessly from Cajun Pass at 3000 ft to over 8000 ft elevation. Toward the top destination of Guffy Campground, I started hitting a lot of snow, which slowed down the pace. Then, it started to hail. It got cold. The hail turned into a freezing rain as I tried to put up the tent, with an added strong wind. The tent went up and I was soon warm, writing this piece. Sticks showed up soon afterward and she got settled in. I’m hoping the weatherman is correct about tomorrow. Hey, this is the desert approaching summer!

Poodle Dog bush, to be avoided !
Stormy weather rolling in

30April – mile 364-369 (Wrightwood)

The wind blew hard all night, making it a challenge to sleep. I did stay warm, but it was freezing cold in the morning for getting the tent down. Like yesterday, we had to walk through a lot of snow but were able to complete the six miles to the road by 9am. Guthook claims there should be heavy traffic on the road, yet because of snow damage, the road is not open yet and there was no traffic going either direction. Thankfully a trail angel picked me and another hiker and took us to town, Sticks obtaining a ride from someone else. Wrightwood is super-friendly to PCT hikers and caters to them in the hotels, grocery, hardware store, and restaurants. I aired out my clothes, sleeping bag, tent, and other things, preparing to again hit the trail.

Looking down on the Mojave
Los Angeles below the clouds
My. Baden-Powell, the trail will run close to the top
Your truly
Typical hiker trash scene in Wrightwood. The grocery store even had charging stations set up to accommodate the hikers

01May- zero day in Wrightwood

Zero days are actually somewhat busy, in that the next segment of the hike needs to be planned. One needs to decide roughly how many days it will take before the next town where one could Resupply, and then how much food to carry. Rough estimates of where to camp each night, so that daily goals could be already thought out are helpful to me, though many would claim that I am over-planning.

There remains the dilemma as to how to deal with the high Sierra and Northern California which has had record snowfalls that don’t seem to be melting too quickly. I am uncertain as to what to do, though some sort of flip-flop is a certainty. This is NOT a good year for a straightforward thru-hike, and I suspect that some of the younger hikers who plan on pushing through are going to get in trouble.

So, the next update will probably happen in Agua Dulce, as I move out of the mountains and snow and down into the Mojave desert.

I remain overwhelmed at the beauty of God’s creation, the diversity and complexity of all there is in His world. It is with great thankfulness to God that He has allowed me to have the strength to delight in His handiwork. Surely all of His creation proclaims His glory.

I am grateful to all who made pledges to Huguenot Heritage for this Hike-a-thon. May the Lord bless you for your thoughtfulness, as it also serves as a great encouragement to me to keep walking!

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Apr 23
Looking down on Tahquitz Peak left and Suicide Rock left with Idyllwild hidden in the valley between

I spent the first night in Idyllwild at the Creekrock Inn, and walked into town the next morning to find my friends and to pick up a few supplies that I needed. On getting back to my hotel, they frantically informed me that I was reserved for only one night and not three. Happily, they found me another place a little further up the road which was the same price but actually a lot nicer, with its own kitchenette. Then, Pasta and Sailor notes that they were going to sleep at the trailhead in the rain. Because my place had two large separate beds, I suggested they spend the night with me and get an early ride up in the morning. It was helpful to me in obtains a lot of information about the trail, since had done it twice before. I didn’t realize it, but Pasta was 71 years old and Sailor 51, and they were moving quite quickly on the trail. When they left in the morning (April17) I almost wished I was also back on the trail, though realizing that an extra day of snow melt could make a large difference since the next 15 miles were supposed to be 70-80% snow covered.

People ask what it is like as a usual day on the trail. Typically, I will be up just before dawn, get dressed, and pack my sleeping bag. I’ll then exit the tent and boil up some water for a cup of coffee. This will give me time to take down my tent, pack up, have coffee and a bite to eat, and be off on the trail. All in all, it takes about 30-40 minutes to get out of the sack and be on the trail. The day is spent walking, punctuated by two or three rest stops, or time to chat with fellow hikers on the trail. About 10 am, the sunglasses and sun cream goes on, and life continues until the end of the day. ‘I’ll frequently check my iPhone Guthook app for location and water information, or stop to take a photo. By about 5-6 o’clock I’m ready to fold up, and I’ll use my intuition and Guthook to locate a favorable campsite. The tent goes up first and sleeping bag unpacked. I’ll cook dinner, and do some reading on my iPhone, usually with Kindle and my bible app. By now, I’m in the sack and will spend some time writing this blog. I all so need to go over the maps, look at water sources, and determine roughly where I’d wish to set up camp the next night. Darkness hits about 8 am and I am soon asleep. Typically I dose off with aches and pains, but by morning seem to feel refreshed and ready to go again. The trail leaves you increasingly dirty and weary, and it is most wonderful that once a week, a zero is taken in town for rest, reflection, conversation with Betsy and friends on the phone, and laundry/shower to get clean again.

I walked into town today, about a mile from the cabin, and realized that the town was now dead. I suspect that the hundred or more PCT hikers all took off in one mass surge, which is probably why it was really good to wait another day before venturing off. Idyllwild is an interesting town, with a mix of conservatives and the artsy new age type shops around. There are a lot is counseling/psychology/spiritualist establishments. The town is a perfect example of the evolving rift that is splitting our society.

Downtown Idyllwild
Sailor and Pasta leaving my cabin

18April – Idyllwild to mile 191.3

This was a most challenging day. I checked out and had the motel owner shuttle me up rod the Devil’s Slide trail head. It was a two and a half mile steep climb with Suicide Rock on the left and Tahquitz Rock on the right. Soon after hitting the top I hit snow, but not requiring micro spikes. I walked through snow for several miles and it became normal dirt trail. Then I reached the infamous Fuller Ridge. The micro spikes went on, and it was very slow trudging through snow, less than a mile an hour. Eventually the rail turned to dirt again and I thought that it was all over. Little did I know that the worst was yet to come. The snow was then far more challenging to handle, and the path rarely perfectly clear. It went on for several miles. Finally I reached the end of Fuller Ridge, the end in sight, and as soon as I realized that the snow was done, I set up camp exhausted. Tomorrow seemed like it was going to be an easier day. Little did I know!

19April-mile 191-mile 211

Today was mostly a lonely day, even though it would seem like I’d cross path with others that I had seen before. It was a 20 mile descent from the snow line to the furnace. It was hard to move quickly because the trail had a lot of loose rock. The most memorable event was my first encounter with a rattlesnake. It at first startled me curled up on the side of the trail about waist high, but when I backed up, it slithered and lay directly across the trail. Yelling at it didn’t help, and throwing rocks to scare it didn’t help. Finally I had to get serious and wrapped it win the head with a large rock to get it to disappear off the trail. At mile 205 there was a water fountain where I refilled my water. There were several miles of paved trail, and then the horrid deep sand, almost impossible to walk in, struck me. And it was horribly hot. I reached I-10 underpass exhausted, dehydrated, and starved. Thankfully, trail angels left a large basket of fruit. I ate 2 oranges, and three grapefruit. I had no clue grapefruit tasted so good. I cooked up a freeze-dried dinner and it tasted horrid so I threw it away. Finally, I walked another mile up the trail to get away from the noise of the interstate, and set up camp. This was close to a wind farm, and the wind blew relentlessly all night, so I didn’t get a wink of sleep.

Relentless and very exhausting snow hiking. Yes, this is the desert
Yours truly
A little hard to see my friend the rattlesnake

20April-mile 211 to 226 (Mission Creek Camp)

Up and early today, I took off on a roller coaster trail with long ascents and descents down nearly to where we started, deep cliffs with strong near-gale wind gusts, and a first river crossing where you just had to get your feet wet. It was a long tiresome day; I walked a large portion of it with Ingrid and Steve, but I was interested in finding a campsite, so by the end of the day took off. Camp was again extremely windy with only loose sand to anchor the tent, so had to put large rocks on all corners on the tent. The wind died down by morning and I got a good nights sleep.

Long Climbs, with Mt San Jacinto and Fuller Ridge in the distance .
A gormet meal cooked in my tent. It was a challenge to keep the sand out of my delicacy.

21April- mile 226-mile 240

Today was another exceedingly challenging day, starting out from camp at 6 am. Half of the day followed up Mission Creek. During the beginning, I encountered Broken Arrow, who I first met in Idyllwild. We were walking at about the same speed so decided to walk together. Broken Arrow had walked this segment a year ago and it was a breeze. Now, with the bad winter, much of the trail was washed out. It was extremely arduous to find the trail, to climb loose gravel broken riverbanks,and at least 20 river crossings, none with bridges or rocks to hop across, and the river was quite fast flowing. We simply had to walk about 10 miles in wet shoes. The trail then took a steep incline, taking us up from hot desert to snow in the San Giorginio wilderness. On top was a nice campground with water and one exhausted little Pilgrim. During the ascent, Broken Arrow and I got talking about our faith, and realized that he was a Christian man of Baptist belief. We agreed to hang together until at least Big Bear, and even hopefully after that. It was a blessed gift for Easter Day.

22April- mile 240-256

Today was not too challenging. Hiking started at 6 am, with a lot of chatting between Broken Arrow and me. Yesterday Broken Arrow, who a 68 yo man, definitely out walked me, but today I stayed about 5-10 minutes ahead of him. It was first more climbing followed by a long gradual descent. At mile 250 the trail passed an animal zoo, which didn’t seem to operational any longer. In the last half hour of the walk, we noted some dark clouds so quickly set up our tents. Broken Arrow noted that he always ate dinner inside his tent, so decided to try the same. It worked well, having instant rice with chicken and vegetables. Inside the tent, it started to hail, then rain and sleet, and thunder. Hopefully it will pass by morning.

Broken Arrow
Heavy clouds forming
Mile 250!!!!

23April- mile 256-266 (Big Bear Lake)

It was an early morning start, and yet too dark to assess the weather. The tent had frozen sheets of ice on it. I am now rethinking my strategy for carrying the tent. After a quick cup of coffee in bed, I had everything packed, and Broken Arrow and I headed out. Though awe were the first two tents in camp, there were now about 30 tents of sleeping hikers.

Nearly cloudless landscape

This was not a difficult day, and at highway 18 which runs into BigBear, we were greeted by Diamond Dave, a trail angel with his trunk packed with fruit and lots of free goodies for us. Soon, another rail angel offered me a ride to our hotel, a wonderful inn in the main part of downtown Big Bear Lake. A shower, the clothes laundered, and a wonderful Mexican dinner at a hole in the wall, and I felt nearly ready to resume the hike, except that I needed to purchase Resupply Ed, dry out and repair everything Thant needs it, and re-think how I’m going to pack my backpack. Tomorrow I will need to decide on Trail meals for the next 6 days and 103 miles.

Diamond Dave
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Apr 15

Warner Springs Ranch Resort- a nice respite

11April2019

I was a little embarrassed to think that I’d be spending two nights resting, until I learned many of the hikers in my group, like Pasta and Alicia were doing the same. It appears to be the norm, and how experienced hikers break in. I was able to purchase a light weight Thermarest egg crate mattress and another small, much lighter inflatable pillow. After my air mattress deflation issue, I’m staying away from air mattresses for a while. Most of the hikers are staying at the Community Resource Center, but the Warner Springs Resort as seen above is inexpensive and nice. I’ve gone through my pack a zillion times trying to lighten things up, but now that I’m on the trail, a lot of other things are becoming useless and getting mailed back home. My appetite is also changing dramatically, and I crave for things like potato chips and salty foods. Spicy foods no longer taste good. It’s weird. Meanwhile, it’s been a strange phenomenon that I must daily tighten up my belt and pack straps. I doubt that it’s weight loss since I still feel heavy; it was be body redistribution.

So, I am sorting things out, as my next leg is 80+ miles to Idyllwild, where I’ll also spend two nights. I’ll have a lot of climbing, going from 3000 up to nearly 8000 feet, and rumor has it that we might hit some snow. There will be a few long stretches without water. I’ll be aiming to stay at “Mike’s Place” tomorrow night. I’m ready! God is my strength and my keeper.

12April – mile 110 -mile 127

I started out by having to walk a mile back from town to the trail. It started out fairly easy, going through beautiful meadows and old oak stands, but surely enough, there was a lot more climbing. Eventually, I saw a sign diverting me off the trail to Mike’s Place. It was about a quarter of a mile, and there were already 10-15 tents set up, and eventually about 40 tents were present. Mike had cold sodas and beer, and an outdoor pizza oven, which he fired up and served everybody their fill of pizza.

At Mike’s

The pizza oven

Mike’s caretaker showing himself a master pizza chef

13April Mike’s Place (mile 127)to Mary’s Place (mile 145.4) The hot dry desert continued, with incessant up and down in the trail. We all wanted to get to Mary’s, since she provided a large tank of water, and, as I said before, you are incessantly thinking about water in the desert. Also, we wanted to be close enough to be able to make the Paradise Valley Cafe in the morning, a super-popular spot for thru-hikers. There were about 10-12 tents at Mary’s, and everybody hit the trail very early the next am.

14April-mile 145.4 to 163.9 It was 6 miles to Hwy 74, and a mile to PVC. I didn’t get any photos, but the omelette was awesome. A group of us hitched a ride back to the trail, and started heading up. Speaking with Pasta and Sailor, we decided to play it safe, since 5 people yesterday needed to be rescued off of the trail, and today one could hear the helicopters working hard. Since we did not have micro spikes, we decided to divert just before the perilous section. The diversion was actually more challenging, taking the Spitler Peak trail with a hitch back to Idyllwild. That evening, my tent was sheltered on a knife edge, and I was a vertical mile above Palm Springs. A photo couldn’t do it justice.

Palm Springs

15April – mile 163 to Idyllwild The hike from mile 163 to the Spitler Peak junction was exhausting and treacherous. They did a very poor job cleaning out the trail from the fire, and it was exhausting and challenging to follow the trail. I also hit some snow. Finally, the Spitler Peak junction showed up completely unmarked, and the Guthook app saved my day. The Spitler Peak trail was poorly maintained, causing me to go much slower than I had hoped. Eventually, it came out to a little used road. While walking the road, a group of hunters came by and kindly offered me a hitch back to Idyllwild. In Idyllwild the typical hotel rooms were plum full, but I managed to get a wonderful room at Creekside Inn just a half mile from the city center. A shower never felt so good, and they allowed me to use their laundry to get clean clothes. So, I’m going to stay here three nights and start preparing for the walk to Big Bear City.

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Apr 10

The starting monument

04APRIL-Tom needed to drop me off early, since he needed to be home at 7 am. That means that I started the hike at 5:15am in total darkness. I’ve never hiked with a headlamp before, but it worked out well, going a full hour before it was bright enough to see the trail. What is usually brown desert at this time was lush green. It was cloudy and cool, making for wonderful hiking. The first 4 hours were totally alone. I passed several campsites at five miles, And then finally started running into people. Lots of people. A younger lady, Elena, seemed to have the same (slow) hiking pace, and we proceeded together all the way to Lake Morena. It was 20 miles for me today, and I intend to slow down after this until I get my hiking legs. Thankfully I acquired no blisters. But, with only four hours of sleep, I went out for a hamburger and malt, wrote this, talked with Betsy, and crashed.

05APRIL Lake Morena to mile 37.2

Today was a cold drizzly day, with light rain occurring throughout the day. When hiking, we were warm, but as soon as you stopped, it got chilly again. I thought that the desert was supposed to be a heat bath, but I am seeing otherwise. The scenery was most spectacular, and we were definitely in mountains. The trail went persistently upwards, so we didn’t get as much distance as we would have wished. They tell us that it takes several weeks to start getting your hiking legs. I am walking with one person who goes about my speed, but a pack of about twenty hikers seem to be hanging together. After 17 miles, the rains eased up and a campsite opened up, allowing for an evening of rest.

06 APR Mile 37.2 to mile 55.9. Today started a little rough. At 4am I realized that my air mattress developed a leak. It was an unrepairable tear. And, it was raining out. Everything was soaked. In the AM I took off at 7:39 am and arrived the first milestone, Mount Laguna. There I had breakfast, purchased some Resupplies, and bought a new ground pad inferior to the air mattress but adequate for now. I was walking with Elena who became slower and slower and complained of knee pain. By the time we reached mile fifty, the pain was unbearable. We walked out to a lunch stop at mile 51.6, where she was able to find a young man take her back to San Diego. It was beginning to get dark so I had to really push it to get to camp site at Oroflame Canyon, a quite beautiful place nestled among rocks.

07APR Mile 55.9- 77.1 (Scissors Junction)

Today was hot, and the trail was persistently exposed. I always thought that the desert was flat, but this was just the opposite, with the trail going through a very mountainous terrain, up and down and up and down without end. The desert was most beautiful, but in a different way than I’m used to. The path was quite rocky, which meant that one always had to constantly watch their step. The entire stretch was without water. Toward the very end, I ran out of water, but thankfully, there was a water cache under a bridge where I decided to sleep. There was a PCT hiker under the bridge that was very drunk and incoherent. After a while, the group of us thru-hikers decided that he was not safe, and called 911 on him. They hauled him away, and I finally had peace to sleep under the bridge with 6 other hikers.

08APR- mile 77.1-91.2

Today was my shortest day, but also my hardest yet. The problem was that I pushed things yesterday, and felt already a little wasted in the morning. I also knew that the entire stretch was going to be without water, so left with 5.5 liters, a weight of over 11 pounds. There was a long climb to start with, and the entirety of the hike was without shade. Psalm 121 was repeated in my head many times. Mile 91.2 held a water cache which I arrived totally wasted at. A pot of Top Ramen soup revived my spirits, and helped with the energy of setting up the tent and fetching water which was a ¼ mile off the trail down a steep grade. The beauty of today was the profusion of wild flowers on the trail. I will be planning shorter days until I get my walking legs. Thankfully, there are no blisters on my feet, and only temporary soreness so far. God be thanked. I feel His presence with me on the way.

09APR -day 6- mile 91.2 to mile 105.1

I stopped only 5 miles from Warner Springs at a beautiful spot beside a running creek. Most other hikers were pushing it to make it into town. When I awoke this morning, I realized how dirty I was and also that I had a horrible smell. In the desert, you don’t have the luxury of showers and cleaning up since water is a sparse commodity. I was feeling stronger today but learning not to push myself too hard at first. I plan on taking a nero and zero in Warner Springs. A nero is when you only walk a small part of the day, and zero is a total day off from hiking. The weather today was cool but windy, and still very dry, making one loose water with any activity. Thus, I was still carrying five to six liters of water at a time, which is a lot of added weight.

The other mishap was my trail pillow stopped staying inflated, but I found that I could do just fine without a pillow, and a little less weight in my pack.

My tent at mile 105

A standard trail meal, Top Ramen with added freeze dried beef and vegetables

Everything becomes filthy on the trail no matter how hard you try; looking forward to a shower.

10 April-day 7, mile 105 to mile 110 (Warner Springs)

Today was a Nero, as I hiked only 5 miles, only 2+ hours to Warner Springs. I had called earlier to see if a I could a room for a night or two, but the internet claimed that they were full. I stopped at the Warner Springs community center and they called for me and were able to secure a room for a very reasonable rate so I bit. At the Warner Springs CC I was seeing hikers that I thought were way ahead of me just arriving after I arrived. The experienced PCTers suggested that even though I was going slower than them, that I was making super time, and highly advised a zero. I certainly felt like I needed a short break. There were 50 or more thru-hikers at the WSCC, and the volunteers helped me get a ride into town to the post office for my first Resupply package, also located right across from the resort. I couldn’t get in until 3 pm, but Tom Braithwaite drove up from San Diego and we went out to lunch and to have a few cold drinks…. warm water on the trail assuages the thirst, but is NOT terribly refreshing. Tom was a true trail angel.

On my Resupply package were a bunch of stickers for easy identification. One of them hit home hard with me, a quote by Francis Schaeffer, “thank God for the reality for which we were created, a moment by moment communication with God himself”. People often wonder what one thinks about while alone on the trail, and for me it is nearly 100% either praying or praising him, or singing through a multitude of precious hymns. The desert has been far more beautiful than I ever imagined, and it is a delight to praise him for his wonderful world.

Just a thought about those wishing to contact me. I appreciate that, but there are two most precious commodities in the desert. Water is foremost, but second is my cell phone charge which I am using as my ONLY form of maps and trail information. If I don’t respond back to you, I am either conserving my cell phone charge or more likely out of cell phone range or keeping my phone on airplane mode to save electrons. Please fee free to contact either Betsy or Daniel Foucachon for info about me. I certainly do covet your prayers and your support of Huguenot Heritage Ministry.

Eagle Rock at mile 105.

Tom Braithwaite, my trail angel

A secret for avoiding blisters… leukotape! No blisters so far!

God bless… next update at Idyllwild in a week.

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Apr 03

Train station in Tacoma

01APR2019-Betsy dropped me off at the Tacoma Amtrak station at 9:30. The train came on time. This trip is via a business class seat, which is quite comfortable. I used a sleeper car on previous train rides, but wished to spare the expense for this trip. The first night, I was able to sleep well compliments of a short-acting Schlafmittel. Portland and beyond manifested rainy weather. I was quite shocked at the massive number of homeless camps along the side of the train route. Consistently, they were enormous piles of trash with a four man sized tent in the middle. It was truly disgusting, making me think that perhaps the problem is not just in the major urban areas. So far, I’ve heard everything but a good solution from the political wanks on fixing this problem. A serious solution would NOT be politically correct.

02APRIL I’m still on the train. I decided to do breakfast, but notes that the prices were outrageous, so I ordered pancakes. Not good. I’m very disinclined to eat train food again. The strategy will be to pack all the you expect To need. While going through the Salinas Valley, the train hit a migrant farm worker standing to close to the tracks. I guess his mommy didn’t tell him that trains can possibly hurt you. Apparently, he was ok but the train was delayed an hour. I disembarked at San Luis Obispo, a nice town, and am staying at the Hostel a block from the train station.

Hostel in San Luis Obispo

Train station in San Luis Obispo

The train station and Hostel are pictured above. The hostel was quite nice, and I was able to get a private room for a very reasonable price.

03APRIL

I was able to get an early start without a problem, and the train ran without difficulty. Tom (Braithwaite) kept me entertained with texting on the way down. I rode coach for this leg of the trip, and it was not nearly so comfortable.

After meeting Tom, we were able to catch up on the last few years, and then go out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant before settling in. A quick call to Betsy and Daniel Foucachon, and I am hitting the sack for a 3 am start on the trail

Tom and Chris, ready to send me off!

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Apr 02

Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan, modern revision ****

I have read this book several times before on the original language, but decide to read this highly recommended edition in contemporary Sprache. This new edition reads very similar to Bunyan’s original text, and was a delight. Modern color illustrations were also added.

The story is that of the journey of pilgrims from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. During the journey the main character, Christian, encounters multiple obstacles on the way, makes wrong turns to get him into trouble, but also encounters friendships, joys, and soft paths to help him on the way. Bunyan offers encouragement, advice, warnings, and admonition to the pilgrim, as relevant today as is was 400 years or so ago.

For many years, this book was the most read book Ever, outside of the Bible. Written while he was in prison for his faith, Bunyan bares his soul about the nature of the Christian faith from an allegorical perspective. It is a wonderful tale to be read while preparing to start a long journey. This was read on my iPhone on the train from between Eugene, Oregon and San Jose, California.

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Apr 01

Nature’s Case for God: A Brief Biblical Argument, by John Frame ***

This is a very short book which I was able to start and finish on the train from Tacoma to Kelli (on the way to San Diego). The book is divided into three parts, the first being the witness of the physical world, the second the conscience and the third part a discussion of natural law by the use of several letters that Frame wrote. The case of the physical world argues for the vastness, the perceived unity, the goodness, the wisdom, and God’s presence in the world. Arguing from a presuppositional basis, his arguments are that the world gives strong support for a creator God of the description found in Scripture. Regarding the argument for conscience, Frame demonstrates how conscience in its various modes truly attests to God.
A book of this sort suffers from the problem of its briefness. None of the arguments were as well developed as they should of been. I didn’t find the book in toto to be a compelling case for God save for the person who believes and needs no case for God.


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Mar 31

I just ordered this book on Kindle, a revised updated (but NOT abridged) and illustrated version of Pilgrim’s Progress. This will be my reading on the trail. It was inspired by a book that I am about half done with, Praying, by JI Packer. Dr. Packer mentions that he reads through Pilgrim’s Progress every year, and has done so for many years. Well, it will be good reading for the trail. The book I intend to read on the train down to San Diego is by John Frame…

This is a small soft cover book, which I hope to have completed before I arrive in San Diego to meet Tom Braithwaite. On my iPad I will also be reading another much larger book by John Frame, recommended by Bob Case…

So, I have my reading cut out. I find that after a hard day of hiking, my reading brain doesn’t work so well, but I’m hoping that I can get a few more books completed while on the trail.
On the Pilgrim’s Progress theme, a song that we sing in church will be one of my themes, Who would true valor see…

Who would true valor see, let him come hither;
One here will constant be, come wind, come weather;
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
his first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.

Who so beset him round with dismal stories,
Do but themselves confound his strength the more is.
No lion can him fight, he’ll with a giant fight,
but he will have a right to be a pilgrim.

Hobgoblin nor foul fiend can daunt his spirit;
He knows he at the end shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away; he’ll fear not what men say;
he’ll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.

So, as I get ready to head out, many thoughts whirl through my head. I love hiking, but I love my wife even more, and I will be constantly concerned about her welfare and safety with me gone. Thankfully, we have supportive friends, and I won’t be totally ex communicato, so that matters should work out well. Naturally, Betsy is worried about my safety, which I can grasp. I will try to minimize the risks of this venture, and play it as safe as possible. Assuredly, I am confident of the Lord watching over my every step as I proceed. I welcome your prayers and support.

I have mentioned previously that my venture is also a hike-a-thon, raising funds for Huguenot Heritage. Please consider supporting that ministry. The website hike-a-thon donation function is not quite functional as of yet, but you will be able to help support a very important and needy cause through my hike. In a week or two, get online to HuguenotHeritage.com and commit to a penny, a nickel, a dime, a quarter or a dollar per mile. Since it is 2650 miles on the trail, for a penny, you will be out at most $26.50. Because the donation is through Huguenot Heritage and not me, I will not know who or what amount was pledged, so I will thank you in advance for your consideration of this.

But there remain typical and expected anxieties in my mind this evening as I prepare to leave. I have done what I could to prepare for this with many practice hikes. I’ve sustained foot blisters, joint pain, and exhaustion pushing myself. There were the countless hours spent researching the trail online, discovering who were the reliable sources for information, and processing that information. What do you wear? What goes in the pack? Where do you resupply? What do you eat? What’s the best equipment? How do you find your way on the trail? How do you best stay out of trouble? What is it going to cost? How will I stay in contact with Betsy? I’ve spent countless hours drawing up, drafting, guess-timating time that I will need to get from point to point, and estimating the amount of food needed. There was a week or two packing resupply boxes for Betsy to ship out. I’ve researched appropriate apps for my iPhone and will be using the latest, greatest technologies. I’ve done many compromises and expenditures for lighter or more convenient equipment that I would be using. Last night, I even unpacked my pack and slept out on my back porch, just to get a feel as to what it is like to be backpacking again since my last trip was last August/September. It also gave me a better feel as to how I should go about packing my pack, supposing I get hit with setting up my camp during a downpour. It may seem strange to many but my biggest preparation has been mental, preparing for this venture. I wished to have various Psalms and song memorized or loaded on my iPhone for use on the trail.

People wonder what I hope to get out of this venture. Why am I doing it? I can think of several things…
1. To fulfill a long-standing dream to hike the PCT
2. To raise funds and increase awareness for Huguenot Heritage
3. To allow me to see multiple unfolding landscapes that reveal God’s handiwork and worship Him in that setting.
4. To have a significant time to meditate, pray and praise the Lord while on the trail.
5. To be a witness to our Lord Jesus Christ and His goodness while encountering others on the trail.
6. To prepare for much easier adventures with Betsy.
Perhaps that is sufficient reason, though I’m sure the list could go on much longer.

I welcome your prayer. I welcome your interactions. E-mail me. Post a note on FaceBook. I may not respond but I will read and appreciate all of your input. Make a donation to Huguenot Heritage. Deus Vobiscum!



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