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.

h

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

sTom 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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