Playing Trail Angel at Hart’s Pass

September 11th, 2019
Looking east from our campsite at Hart’s Pass

Betsy and I had two main reasons to go to Hart’s Pass. First, we needed to pick up Intrepid. Secondly, we needed to bring Jacob back home. Betsy and I decided to add a third reason, and that was to play trail angel. Hart’s Pass is the last portion of the PCT to cross by a road, at the Hart’s Pass campground, 30 miles from the Canadian border. At this campground, thru-hikers were getting their last “hurrah” before pushing on into Canada. If they did not have a Canada entry permit, they would turn around at the border and hike back to Hart’s Pass where they would hope that they could find a ride to Mazama and thus hitch-hike home. The gravel road from Mazama to Hart’s Pass is the highest maintained road in Washington, and often designated the most dangerous road in Washington.

We had our truck totally loaded with hiker food and camping equipment. When we got to the Hart’s Pass campground, Intrepid was already there and able to find us a wonderful campsite with a great view. To our brief dismay, there was already a trail angel established there, a guy from Indiana named EZ, and was being helped by Tyler. After speaking with EZ, we quickly established how we would work together to maintain the trail angel spot. I brought my food up, as well as a 10 x 10 canopy. This came in very useful, as we arrived on a Tuesday, and it started to rain on Tuesday afternoon, the canopy providing much needed protection for our food and our hikers. Together, we actually had way too much food, so the next day, EZ went to town to get more ice and to drop off a large portion of our food at a trail angel in town, Ravensong. Several days later, EZ took off for three days to hike up to the border monument and back, leaving Betsy and I to take care of everything. We had a great time. At first, we felt that this was not an ideal site to be trail angel-ing, but quickly learned that hiker trash really appreciated our setup, and the non-hiker food, beer, and an encouraging word before their last push to Canada. What was most delightful was encountering hikers that I had met on the first few days of the trail out of Mexico finally arriving at the end. Some hikers had skipped the high Sierra, but all were eager to wrap up and move along, either returning home or returning to the high Sierra to complete that phase of their journey. Friday afternoon, a group from the Grand Coulee 7th Day Adventist Church showed up to trail angel. They apparently do this every year. They were a very kind group, and we were able to work out a transition for them to move in and us out. We had hoped that somebody would show up, since I knew that EZ would not be back from the trail until late Saturday or Sunday. Thus, the replacement group were most welcome to maintain continuity of the trail angel site at Hart’s Pass.

EZ and I have met afterwards in Tacoma to discuss the future. We think that we will again play trail angel next year for 4-5 days, a week or two after Labor Day. Perhaps next year we will improve on our mistakes and make it an even better experience for thru-hikers in the last phase of their hike.

Our tent, a six man REI Kingdom, on space #5
Our camp kitchen table
Betsy in a very relaxed mode
EZ on the left and Tyler on the right
Denise with Betsy
Umbrella Man on the left, who I met south of Snoqualmie Pass
The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse, from Lynden, WA. They were quite familiar with the VanVoorst clan. They were doing the PCT by horseback, but made sure to come and enjoy a beer from us.
Betsy offering some slightly aged apples to the horses and mules, which were eagerly devoured.
The Mule. The Mule was from France, and most delightful and friendly character. I first met the Mule several days out from Mexico in the desert. I was in a long stretch of the desert trail when I saw a short happy person from France doing pushups just off the trail (as though the trail wasn’t exercise enough!). I saw the Mule a few more times in the next few days before losing him. I often wondered whatever happened to him. Apparently, his hike was totally successful!
A great Dane, I don’t remember his trail name. He got extremely excited when I informed him that I had some Carlsberg beer (from Denmark), which he was going to pack in and drink at the monument. This guy was really funny! Apparently, he was going to be on Good Morning Denmark when he got back home.
The replacement trail angels, with some hiker trash (Intrepid and Jacob) as well as Betsy.

North to Crater Lake

July 26th, 2019
Tim in front of our Fish Lake Cabin

22JULY Mile 1773-1785

I was a little slow taking off from Fish Lake. A joined a bunch of other hikers for breakfast, which didn’t open until 9am. Fish tank, Tim and a few other hikers were there. Tim crashed the cabin with me. The attempt to hitch back to the trail was a little frustrating, and I had already walked a mile before somebody picked me up.

VERY touristy Fish Lake

I decided on a short day. The weather was cool with some clouds, but I was still sweating. I am drinking more water than I thought. Finally reaching Christi Spring about 4 pm, there were a lot of tent sites and I decided to crash here for the night. The other hikers from Fish Lake eventually caught up with me, and all but Tim decided to go on. After a quick dinner, I became invaded by vast swarms of mosquitoes, so it was a very quick retreat to the tent and mosquito protection. I also learned the near impossibility of taking a dump without being eaten by mosquitoes. I am now happy in bed, waiting for the sun to go down and everything to cool off. Tomorrow will need to be a big day.

Looking out toward Upper Klamath Lake
Looking down on Four Mile Lake

23JULY Mile 1785-1806I woke up this morning not feeling as well as I would have liked. The sun had not yet risen but one could see, and there was a drove of mosquitoes waiting for me just outside my tent. So, I packed everything in my backpack except the tent itself, quickly got everything together and ran. The mosquitoes remained in hot pursuit for about half the day. It got me thinking about mosquitoes. Have you ever thought about how large their brain is? For thinking, they probably have only 4 Betz cells. They don’t think! I suspect that they are direct operatives/automatons of Satan himself. Every bit of their behavior is Satanic. I can’t conceive of any good they fulfill for the kingdom of God. I certainly don’t mean to be selling bad theology since I believe that God is in total control of all things, yet comprehending the mosquito is like comprehending the whole problem of why there is evil in this world. But, back to the trail. The trail finally started climbing and offered spectacular views of Mt McLaughlin and Mt Shasta. I came to a saddle where looking north you could see Mt Thielsen, and the Crater Lake rim. This is also where I ran into some residual snow on very steep slopes. Several weeks before, this trail would have been close to impassable. I finally crossed several streams which were the last water for 20 miles until Crater Lake village. So, I am now carrying as much water as the desert. My poor back. An even longer stretch of 29 miles is coming up. You drink the water sparingly, but it is warm so your thirst never gets quenched. I stopped at a nice camp at mile 1806 with few mosquitoes, had dinner, and climbed in my tent. Just then, Fishtank comes by and chats. For reasons that will be discussed later, I decided to bail for now, maybe getting some hiking in after a longer recovery for my left shoulder/neck. I arranged that Fishtank could pick up the several resupply packages I’ve already sent in order for them to get used. My resupply packages have become known as having very enviable food items that most other people just did not think about using for a backpacking trip.

Mt McLaughlin in the distance

24JULY Mile 1806-1823 (Crater Lake)

It was quite cold this morning, cold enough to warrant my down jacket. The mosquitoes were already lurking outside of the tent, awaiting a feast of fresh human blood, which I would try to deny them. I knew that today would remain waterless until I reached my destination 16 miles way. The weather started as cool, but warmed up quickly, demanding increased water consumption. There was only about 2000 feet of climbing, so I was able to zip along quickly. Sadly, there was about 8 miles of forest fire to walk through, which extended well into Crater Lake National Park for about 4 miles. I took my mid-morning rest at the high point of the day, a saddle with spectacular views in both south and north directions. There was still snow about the trail on the north side slopes, which suggested prohibitive danger even just a few weeks before when hard pack snow would have completely invested the slope. Even on dropping down 1000 feet to the level of Mazama village, there were large patches of snow. At Mazama Village, the campsites were full and they had not opened up the hiker sites yet. It was like the hikers were their least concern, even though thru-hikers had few other options. I had lunch at the expensive village restaurant, which fortunately provided bottomless fountain drinks, allowing me to consume about 4 liters too partially assuage my thirst. A couple sitting next to me agreed to shuttle me up to the rim, where I could catch a shuttle into Klamath Falls. I quickly picked up my resupply package and doled it out to about 15 hiker trash people hanging out at the village store and got my ride up to the rim. Several hours later I was in Klamath Falls at a motel close to the train station, and consumed several more liters of fluid to aid my persistently raging thirst. I scheduled the Amtrak ride back to Tacoma on-line, called Betsy, and then felt relaxed.

Snow past the saddle
Few of Mt Shasta (far left horizon) and Mt McLaughlin from the saddle
Lengthy area of forest fire, particularly hot to walk through
Arrival at Crater Lake National Park
Yes! Crater Lake

So, I am going to terminate my journey. Toward the end of August, I might still spend several weeks going from Stevens Pass to Canada. This way, I could complete the two ends of the journey. I am sad that a complete thru-hike was not accomplished, but then I was realistic from the start at a 5-10% chance of total success, and on learning of the dismal snow year this year and expected heatwave in the mountains this summer, calculated only a fleeting chance of total success. So many of my fellow hikers (almost all of them) ended up bailing out, most of them far more capable than myself.

Why did I throw in the towel and give up? There was a combination of factors. I will quickly blame the weather and environmental factors as playing a huge role for not only me but for most of the hikers attempting the trail. Greatest in my mind was the physical aspect. I had the strength to make it, but the neck and back issues had become unbearable. Perhaps a different pack might make a difference and I’ll explore that, but it would have to be a pack weighing under 2.5 lb. I will probably still have some time this year to explore that option.

The second issue was psycho-social. First was the psychological issues of the trail. Flip-flopping is known to demoralize the thru-hiker, and now I can see why. I had no choice in this matter, not wanting to take the huge risks of going through the snow of the high Sierra. It is also demoralizing to be hiking south like so many flip-floppers were doing when the ultimate goal is Canada. The trail was becoming unbearably monotonous. For 99% of the time, you were in forests with trees and hills that mostly all looked the same. True, the high Sierra would have offered a different venue but that wasn’t to be this year. I truly enjoyed the solitude of the woods, but then too much of a good thing can become a very bad thing. The hike really is a concatenation series of 3-6 day section hikes, starting and ending at resupply points. With each section, one needed to estimate the difficulty, available water sources, possible snow conditions, and any other possible problems.

I didn’t experience the typical hiker hunger, but often had anorexia, just not wanting to eat much of anything. The thirst was relentless no matter much I would take in. Water tastes SOOOO good right out of a cold spring, but bland when it had been warming up all day in the heat of the sun in your backpack. After about one day, you become quite dirty. Even though I always wore long pants, the dirt on my legs would be challenging to remove once I was able to take a shower. Oral hygiene was close to impossible—just try brushing your teeth without wasting a drop of water! I don’t mind getting dirty, but staying persistently filthy when one has lived his professional life in sterile conditions becomes hard to handle.,

Early on in the hike, there was a sense that once you acquired your “hiker legs” you would be able to go much faster and farther in a day. That was only partially true for me, in that once I got started in the morning, my feet would just go and go, like the Energizer bunny. I found that my heart was a serious limiting factor, in that going uphill predictably would slow me down to a crawl. I found that once I hit a bit more than 20 miles in a day, my feet just didn’t want to go further, and pain in the feet and ankles prevented me from pushing on. This could be remedied by consuming mass quantities of ibuprofen, which I would do. I would have liked to have hit at least one 30 mile day, but 28 miles ended up being my longest day, hit several times on my journey. There are those who can accomplish greater than 40 mile days, but they begin the day at 2-3 am and hike great lengths in darkness—not my cup of tea—and usually are pushing 3 mph speeds. If I tried to do that, I would have guaranteed myself a serious injury.

There were social aspects to the decision to quit. First, the desert was far more heavily populated with thru-hikers, and they were an enjoyable lot. You might go much of a day without seeing anybody, but then you would run into a lot of people that you could identify with. Up north, there were far fewer people on the trail and many of them were section hikers. Most of them were not prepared for the task at hand, having packed WAY too much unnecessary items resulting in pack weights in excess of 50 lbs. Most of these people were very physically fit males who didn’t think that weight mattered. Those people should limit themselves to 10-12 miles per day and go for under a week with most of their hikes, or at least learn and quickly lighten their load. So it was a matter of progressive loneliness for me. I thought constantly about Betsy at home and felt that our time of separation was a bit too long. Then there was the issue of much going on at home and Betsy feeling increasingly desperate for me to be home. She agreed before the start of my journey that she would be totally supportive, and she has kept faithful to that agreement. Yet, I could tell how she really needed me at home. I thought about the other things I should be doing like short adventures with Betsy, and getting the grandchildren out into the woods, teaching them the new style of packing. All of these matters played a part in me finally breaking. The decision came quickly but resolutely, with me giving it several days before talking with Betsy about my intention.

Was the journey worth it? Did I learn anything? Did I accomplish any good through this venture? I believe that the answer is yes to all of these questions.

It would be impossible to estimate the worth of the journey. Healthwise, I lost 25 lb, and feel much better than before the journey. While hiking, I found it necessary to stop my anti-hypertension mediations, or I would get lightheaded every time I stopped hiking. I was way over-treating myself. I always felt as strong as usual while hiking. Spiritually, it was a wonderful time with God. As mentioned before, each day as soon as I was on the trail I would sing the Doxology and Gloria Patri, and then pray for my family including Betsy, the children, as well as my siblings. Often, a special hymn would stay with me much of the day. I had in iBooks a pdf file of the lyrics to my 100 favorite hymns that were always nice to sing in my head in the evening. I have almost completed John Frame’s History of Western Philosophy, though the appendices are almost as long as the book. I experience hiker-brain on the trail which limits the amount of critical thinking that I could do.

The learning experience was massive in terms of knowing how to do long distance hiking. At this time, even shorter hikes will be different, and a focus on lightness will be key. I met many new friends, some of whom I suspect will stay in touch. The trail gave me experience in knowing how to plan and tackle various challenging circumstances such as dealing with long waterless segments of the trail, and learning how to do without many of the comforts of life.

Did I accomplish any good outside of what I gained personally? Others would have to tell me that. Betsy would have been my greatest focus on how this experience might have affected her, and you can ask her that. Doing the hike as a Hike-a-thon for Huguenot Heritage Ministry was a deep concern of mine, and hopefully my journey generated a worthwhile return for the ministry. Thinking realistically 6 months ago, I knew that completion of the trail had most odds against me, and indeed, even completion of the desert section was greatly against me. I also pledged for the hike, but have determined that I would still donate an amount equivalent to as if I had done the entire trail. The dear reader should follow their own heart, but remember that this ministry merits the best we can do to support it, in spite of my personal failure to accomplish 100% of the trail.

So, I will do more of the trail, but will need to take care of home issues and organize my thoughts as well as heal before hitting the trail again. Stay in touch.

Starting from southern Oregon

July 22nd, 2019
Sailor (Alicia) just before leaving back to the trail

Yesterday was busy. I took Alicia up to White Pass, a little more than two hours in each direction. It was still cloudy, though the weatherman promised than it would get sunny. After our goodbyes, I had to quickly get ready to leave. As mentioned before, the easiest way to get ack on the trail in southern Oregon was by Greyhound. Sadly, Greyhound is very poorly run, and the busses can be expected to be at least an hour late. We had to transfer in Portland. I fell asleep and woke up just as we arrived in Medford.

19JUL Mile 1719-1730. I again contacted trail Angel Mike, and after a bit, he decided to just get me and leave me at the trailhead. I was finally back on the trail, but understandably nervous about how my body would handle it. I also decided to not push it any in way. Thus, the first day was only 11 miles, though I did start a bit late, at 9am. Hiking went well, and I had some aches and pains, but minimal neck pain. I should get an earlier start tomorrow and probably start to push it more. One interesting event occurred today. As I was setting up camp, a guy comes by looking for the spring close to where I was camped. After a few interchanges, we introduced ourselves, and he was Fishbait. Alicia had mentioned that I might be seeing him.

Familiar sign
Pilot Rock
Campsite

20JULY Mile 1730-1750

I woke up early as usual, and headed out, not sure how far I’d make it. The trail had ups and downs, but no extreme climbing. The weather was perfect. I passed several lakes, though the views were imperfect. Water was present but not abundant. Thankfully it wasn’t terribly hot. I decided to stop at 20 miles at Klum Landing Camp. The next day, I wish I would have gone a bit further. This camp was filled with RVs and riff raff, with no hiker trash. Oh well.

One of the many expansive meadows

21JULY Mile 1750-1773

This was a long day of 25 miles since I had to walk 2 extra miles to get to the Fish Lake resort where I had a resupply package. It was another beautiful day with very little climbing. About half way, I came to a road where there was trail magic…fruit and ice cold soda pop with a chair to sit in. The last 8 miles had expansive lava flows. The Oregon PCTA has done an awesome job of building and maintaining these trails, making it fairly easy to get through. Finally, I reached the side trail to Fish Lake. Half way, I encounter a fellow hiker who I met on 04APR and haven’t seen since then!

Trail angel on left with lots of cold soda pop
Lava flow

North Again?

July 17th, 2019

It is now far too long to be off the trail. Oddly, several very unexpected events occurred out of my control. They are as follows…

First, I received a call from Sailor at White Pass, noting that she was having knee problems, and wondering if she could crash at our place for several days. Of course that was ok, and we had a great time having her in. It also gave me a little more time to rest my neck. I will be dropping her off close to the trailhead tomorrow am, and then will be hopping on a Greyhound bus in the evening to head off.

Secondly, I was given some terribly unfortunate news. Betsy and I had remained close friends with Phil Muller over the years, and had taken him out to lunch or had him over for dinner whenever I was home from the trail. Last Tuesday, Phil needed help weed-whacking the growth in his backyard, so I took my trust weed whacker over, and we finished clearing out his back yard in about 2 hours, with Phil raking up the loose weeds and I running the weed whacker. Because it was too early to do lunch and with Phil a little tired out, we decided to stop work and just call it a day. Phil also wanted some help taking care of some trees in the yard, and we agreed to meet later in the week to accomplish that. I called the next day to set up a work day, and never received an answer, so just assumed that Phil perhaps didn’t wish to talk at that time. I tried again on Thursday and Friday, and still no response. Betsy was worried, so we went over to his place on Friday about noon, and there was no answer to the doorbell. I thought I heard some noises from inside the house so decided that perhaps Phil really just needed time alone, which wasn’t uncommon for him. Saturday had the event below occur, and so I didn’t try to make contact again until Sunday. Still no answer, so I became very worried. I called Dr. King and Andrew, and neither was aware of what was going on with Phil. I didn’t have Phil’s contact to his sister from Silverdale, so there was nothing that I could do to sort things out. Sunday at 18:40 I received a call from Andrew who learned that Phil was found dead in his trailer. I must have been the last person to have made contact with Phil. It is a terrible blow to see Phil go. He had a tremendous amount of personal problems, but still had struggled to live a Christian life as well as possible. These events kept me in town, answering questions to family, and sorting out whether a memorial service or anything of that sort was going to happen.

Thirdly, I was in a car accident. On Saturday, I drove out to Pinnacle Peak and ran up the hill several times. Coming home, traffic was heavy and I slowed down and stopped for traffic stalled in front of me. Suddenly, I realized that the vehicle, a black sports car, was inattentive and rammed right into my truck, pushing me several meters into the vehicle, a red Silverado, in front of me. The car was drivable to get home, and it was clearly the fault of the driver that hit me (who had good insurance) and so that lessened the pain of it all. In the process of sorting things out, USAA sent out an adjuster, who determined that my vehicle was totaled and not worth repairing, and gave me a generous quote for the vehicle. Once I finish my backpacking, Betsy and I will need to purchase a new pickup, and we will probably go again for a Toyota Tacoma, or possibly a Chevy Colorado. Meanwhile, USAA is going to pick up our truck and dispose of it where cars usually get dumped. It will be sad to see our vehicle go.

Car front
Car rear

Meanwhile, Betsy has a moderate amount of work to accomplish around the house. We will be having the carpet removed from our stairs and upstairs landing, and get wood floors in these locations like we did to most of the downstairs. This is going to tie up her time for a few days and leave her without the ability to get upstairs easily while the workers reconstruct the stairway.

My return to the trail has been under contemplation. I did not anticipate being at home this long. The weather has been very rainy in the Northwest, making it a bit miserable for hikers out there. Typical NW weather is a constant drizzle, and the trail tends to be muddy, no matter how well the trail was designed. At this time, my greatest desire is to simply a) get in as many miles as possible on trail free from snow and mud, and b) get to Canada, since I had to apply for a special permit for that to happen. Thus, I am shortening my original intentions by about 200 miles, and will be starting my hike from Ashland. I anticipate reaching Timberline Lodge in the 1st to second week of August, popping home briefly, and then doing Washington, starting at a point that seems most reasonable at the time to permit me to reach Canada before winter sets in.

Greyhound will take me to Medford, Oregon. It is an overnight trip and will arrive early on Friday. I’ve spoken with a trail angel (Mike) who will pick me up and drop me off at the trail where it crosses I-5 about 10 miles south of Ashland. This means that I will be missing about 20 miles of the PCT in Oregon, but, that’s life. I’m anxious to get back on the trail and am trying the easiest approach possible to get me there. Psychologically, it is much easier to be going north, since I am then headed toward Canada. The snow should be easily manageable. My greatest problem will probably be mosquitos. If it hasn’t occurred to the reader, mosquitos are the bane of the backpacker. I regret how seriously this hike has been chopped up. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, but then, I didn’t anticipate a record snow year for the trail. This was NOT the year to be doing the PCT.

So, I ask you to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I know that Betsy will be ok, but I don’t like leaving her when so much is happening on the home front. The Lord has so far been abundantly good to me, keeping me safe and without any serious problems on the trail or at home.

PCT reflections as of 04JULY2019

July 4th, 2019

I am again at home when I should be on the trail. The neck issue has been quickly addressed. I called up by dear friend Fred Bomonti, a retired chiropractor, who came over and did a few things to my back, and I now feel better. I still have some pain, but not the searing pain that I was experiencing a few days ago. I’ll see him at his office on Friday for a follow-up adjustment. There are things that chiropractors really are superb at fixing, and back/neck pain is one of them. I fear that throwing the pack on my back too soon will re-start the pain, and so wish to give it a bit of rest, and will delay a bit before jumping back on the trail.

It takes a while to get hiker feet, and my strength in walking has never been a problem. Because of my heart issues, I feared that strength to do the trail would be my greatest problem, but it hasn’t been. True, I am tired when I go to bed at night, but when I wake in the morning, I feel as strong as ever. I never question the wisdom of God is designing us to spend a ⅓ of our time unconscious and horizontal. It is a marvelous way get daily “maintenance” on the body. I also lost 25 lb since starting the hike in April, and feel much better. This hiking trip has been awesome for my general health. Twenty-five pounds is a lot of extra weight to be carrying every day, and I’m most happy to be rid of it. Hopefully, I don’t put too much back on before I return to the trail.

I have said before that I have chosen absolutely the worst year to be hiking the PCT. I couldn’t help it. I had to sign up in October, long before anybody knew what trail conditions were going to be like. I figured that since snow conditions were so high two years ago, snow would not be a problem this year, but it was. These conditions have led to three actions among hikers. 1. Push on through. For a few, this isn’t a bad decision, as they have the strength to push on and the knowledge of how to handle severe conditions. I don’t, and the overwhelming majority of those hiking the trail don’t have the capability, and many are getting into trouble because of that. 2. Quit. Many of my friends on the trail were content to do nothing but the desert, or to flip-flop, realize that there were no good areas (this year) to flip-flop to, and then quit, hoping to come back some other time because the trail conditions were so ugly. 3. Flip-flop with time off to let conditions improve and make it a multi-year hike. This will be my ultimate strategy. There is no consensus among hikers on the trail as to the best option.

When I started at the Mexican border, you might hike alone for half a day or more, but you would then see many people when you arrived at camp or if you stopped to rest. It was easy to get to know fellow thru-hikers. In the flip-flop mode, there are so few hikers on the trail, that the acquaintance of one day is certainly gone the next day. You meet the riff-raff hoi polloi out for their day hikes. This last segment, I met a young couple hiking from Timberline Lodge to as far north as they could get in a month. It was their honeymoon. They were WAY overpacked, so I suspect that they might call it at Cascade Locks or not too long afterward. It is quite easy to tell the real thru-hikers from the riff-raff on the trail.

There are four main segments of the PCT. 1. The Desert, 2. The High Sierra, 3. Northern California, and 4. Oregon and Washington. This year was a perfect year to hike the desert. It was green and gorgeous. Water was plentiful. It wasn’t burning hot. It was a joy to hike through. The high Sierra had 220% of average snowfall, the highest recorded in many areas, and the snow is not melting quickly. The high Sierra is usually pictured as lovely green meadows and granite lined lakes with many surrounding peaks. Right now, it is a bland sheet of whiteness. No thanks! Northern California also had record snowfalls with the snow not melting quickly. Thus, many areas remain impassable (at least, as recommended by forest rangers) at this time. Many areas of the Sierra, Northern California, and Oregon/Washington demand lengthy (multiple miles) of hiking through snow, which might not be dangerous, but definitely slows you down to under half your normal hiking speed. The risk of injury, getting lost, and other problems go up astronomically when hiking through snow. Other areas, if the snow is gone, still have the problem of intense blow-downs (fallen trees across the trail) which makes hiking the trail MUCH more difficult. I did the only portion of northern California where snow was not a dominant factor at this time of the year but even then, it was 2-3 very challenging miles of snow. In Oregon and Washington, matters are a bit different. Having grown up the Northwest, generally serious hiking at higher altitudes does not begin until late July or August. The PCT generally stays at these higher altitudes. Besides contending with snow, rain is a constant issue until late July, and insects, especially the mosquito and biting flies) are worst before August. If one was doing a typical PCT thru-hike, you would not be hitting Oregon and Washington until August/September, when conditions in the mountains are ideal. The last few days showed me swarms of mosquitos in many spots which did not even permit me to sit down and rest, lots of rain, and very muddy trails which leaves on feeling uncomfortably dirty. So, there are no good options for where and when to jump back on the trail.

With all of this in mind, I am in deep contemplation as to what to do next. This is now my third time to retreat and come home. Besides running up the cost of this venture far beyond what I expected and planned for, it is psychologically demoralizing. It is especially psychologically challenging to be hiking south when your goal is to eventually reach Canada! Assuming that my neck problem can be resolved to comfortable levels, I still wish to get in as much of the trail as possible. Too much of a good thing becomes a very bad thing, and the doldrums of the daily routine is also somewhat psychologically challenging. The adventure of discovering the trail seems to resolve most of those doldrums, though I find it incomprehensible that many would wish to hike the PCT (or AT) through many times over. I wish to complete as much of the trail as possible this year for several reasons. 1) It was my original intention, and I don’t wish to go against that, and 2) I am walking the trail as part of a hike-a-thon for the Huguenot Heritage, for whom I wish to raise as many funds as possible, and 3) most of the trail that I missed has intense beauty, and worth hiking.

I am definitely going to give my neck a few weeks of rest from the backpack. I wouldn’t mind doing an over-nighter with family or friends (Russ?), but definitely not longer out than 2-3 days. I’d like to perhaps do a car-camping trip with Betsy. Once I return to the PCT, which would be later in July or early August, my thought is to start either at Snoqualmie or Chinook Pass and hike north from there, preferably into Canada. By that time, the swarm of PCT hikers will then be coming through and I will again have company in my endeavor. Most of the snow will be gone. The insects will have died down. I will have missed from Walker Pass to Old Station, from Bridge of the Gods to Chinook/Snoqualmie Pass, and from Castella to Timberline Lodge. These are all areas that might be best to wait until next year, when weather and snow conditions are more favorable. If I recover quickly, maybe I’ll return to Timberline Lodge and complete the Timberline to Castella segment, and then come back and do the above. Next year, since I don’t need to worry about an exact “start” time, getting a permit to finish everything will be much easier to accomplish. Perhaps I might also find the right person to accompany me?

Changes? 1) I’ll go back to Altra Lone Peak shoes. I’ve actually found two blisters on my feet, one on my left medial first toe, and one on my right medial heel. The Lone Peaks did not give me such blisters. 2) The Tyvek is too slippery and doesn’t work well if there is any slope to where one is sitting. I found another simple pad which could fill other uses. 3) I’ll leave the flip-flop sandals at home as I never used them. 4) I’ll carry less food but more dinners. 4) I like the new hydration set-up and will stick with that. 5) I gave my Ursack to Chuckles as I was leaving the trail and she was having a serious problem with rodents eating into her food bag, even while hanging. I’ll get a black Ursack for this next time out. 6) I’ll try to limit my miles a bit more. 7) I’ll probably carry a larger battery backup since I’ll be on longer stretches without the possibility of recharging my iPhone or inReach PLB. 8) I’ll need to be a little better prepared for cold wet weather. Perhaps a thermal top would be appropriate.

What can you do to help? 1) Pray for me, that I might have health to continue, and safety in my travels. 2) Pray for good weather, minimal rain, cool conditions, few mosquitoes, no forest fires and minimal snow. 3) Consider meeting me at one of the resupply points (Snoqualmie, Stevens, Stehekin, or Manning Park, Canada) for a trail angel moment, 4) Provide me a ride to Chinook Pass as Betsy absolutely hates to drive in the mountains, and 5) sign up and pledge to support the ministry of Huguenot Heritage. I most certainly will not make all 2650 miles of the trail this year, but your pledges will keep me going for as far as I humanly can endure. Even I have pledged money per mile for the trail, but value the ministry of Huguenot Heritage sufficiently that I intend to donate as though I had hiked the entire PCT. You might consider the same. 6) Pray for Huguenot Heritage and III Millenium Ministries. The focus of this backpack trip should not be me but the many people who have given their lives and fortunes to bring the gospel to foreign speaking people. Francis Foucachon and others are laboring tirelessly to provide the materials that front-line missionaries and pastors need to minister to their flocks in foreign countries. Have a heart and pray that the gospel triumph through their work.

Full speed south

July 3rd, 2019
Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier, and Mt Adams all in the distance

I mentioned in my last post that I would resume my hike but now hiking in a southerly direction in order to delay hitting areas of excessive snowfall. Because I am using Guthook’s app to determine my mileage, I have Guthook’s set for a SOBO (south-bound) hike, which then gives mileage as calculated from the Canadian border. It will be confusing, but don’t worry: worse things could happen. You’ll still get my total mileage easily calculated, and if I’m at a distinct site, I’ll try to mention that when mentioning the S-mileage to help you know where I’m at. Cascade Locks is 2157 miles from the Mexican border, but 495 miles from the Canadian border. Guthook is actually calling Cascade Locks 406 miles from the Canadian border, perhaps including the 8 miles from the Canadian border to the road. In any event, I’ll use the Guthook mileage with an “S” before to indicate the difference in mileage accounting. Once I reach Castella, it will all be a moot point.

I am making a few minor changes. I’ll be carrying a small sheet of Tyvek to sit or lay on at rest stops.

I’ll be using an Ursack, effective for bears, but most importantly for squirrels, chipmunks and mice that would love to eat your food.

I will no longer carry micro-spikes, but go for a little heavier shoes should I need to kick steps in the snow.

Merrell Moab IIs- NOT waterproof!

I’m no longer using an internal hydration unit for many reasons, and have gone with an external system that always allows me to know what my water supply is doing.

1 liter Platypus connected to a hydration hose and greatly modified by me

So, I am constantly changing but always keeping my weight down. If I add weight, something else has to go. That’s the wisdom of the trail.

Yesterday, I took the train down to Vancouver and Gaylon picked me up. I was able to see his new abode, which looked quite nice. For some reason, I felt really gorked out and we crashed early. I didn’t sleep too well; somehow, getting back on the trail is becoming harder with every break. This time I knew that I would be away between 4-6 weeks-not cool.

30 JUN- S505-523 (2148-2130) I started on the Washington side of the Bridge of the Gods, Gaylon having dropped me off, wanting to get photos of me walking the bridge. Today was a true grunt day, climbing nearly 6000 feet. The weather could not have been better. Most of the thru-hikers have flip-flopped and were heading north. I passed about 5 pair/couples who have done that. They all mentioned some issues with snow, but suggested that by the time I reach those places (like Mt. Jefferson) the snow should be mostly gone. I’m still trying to take it slow and easy for now. I set up camp at Wahtum Lake, expecting to reach Timberline Lodge in 2 days. Mentally, the day was hard as it was a very long climb to start after a long break. I’m thinking that perhaps a zero day at Timberline or Odell Lake might be in order. One thing that has kept me going was a batch of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies that Betsy baked up just before I left Puyallup. Boy were they nice. I’m also finding myself back into hiker-brain, not wanting to think about anything but survival on the trail. It’s hard to read before bed, as the brain shuts down.

Washington side, looking into Oregon
Climbing out of the Gorge
Large sections of forest burnt in the last forest fire.
Hiker trash
Wahtum Lake

01JULY- mile 2130-2109 (523-544S) The weather started cloudless, and Wahtum Lake was most beautiful. I was on the trail by 6am knowing that I would need to go 21 miles. It wasn’t quite as much climbing as yesterday but still was fairly demanding. About 2 o’clock it started to sprinkle and I put the rain cover on my pack. Not much happened with that. The trail went on a ridge that had Bull Run Reservoir (the drinking water for Portland) on one side and Lost Lake on the other. From the trail you could not see Bull Run and multiple signs announced it off limits. Lost Lake could be seen, and it brought back memories of a camping trip with Betsy soon after we were married.

Mt Hood getting ever closer
Lost Lake and Campground in the distance
Glacier Lilies in abundance lining the trail
Rhododendrons in full bloom

Before starting the Old Station to Castella section, I began to have terrible pains in my right neck. I could barely move my neck, and pain when trying to sleep became severe. Because I needed my full faculties of thought, I didn’t want to push the benzodiazepines (good for muscle relaxation) or narcotics to relieve the pain. On my short stay at home, most of this pain resolved. The pain began again soon after commencing hiking yesterday and today was unbearable. I could not look up or turn my head to either side without extreme pain. After setting up camp close to another thru-hiker headed south like me, Chuckles from Kotzebue, Alaska also noted that I was holding my head strangely and I explained to her the problem. The pain is extreme enough at this point that it might force me off the trail at Timberline. Tomorrow will tell.

02JUL- mile 2109- 2097

It rained through the night. My tent held true to the word and kept me very dry. I didn’t sleep much because of the neck pain. The rain had stopped by morning but it was quite misty. Chuckles woke up to wish me off. I left her a bunch of food as she was getting low, and planned on doing less than ten miles today, leaving her short of Timberline Lodge. She was a professional dog musher and was doing the trail to get into shape for next season. The trail was almost all upwards with several long climbs. I did the variant that passed Ramona Falls. The Sandy River was a very swift ford with sloppy rocks but I got across uneventfully though with wet feet and pants. At some point the mist increased and by the time I reached Timberline Lodge it was pouring down rain. To be expected, the trail had lengthy segments of mud, or rivers of water. More surprisingly I was told that the trail was snow free yet there were still lengthy segments of snow, some being a bit dangerous. This sort of weather and trail conditions are very typical for this time of year in the Northwest, but I guess I was thinking that I might luck out. By the time I reached Timberline Lodge, I could not even see the Lodge until I was right on it.

I neck continued to hurt severely. I couldn’t look to the side because of pain, so had to stop hiking and turn my entire body to see anything. The pain wasn’t as severe as yesterday, perhaps because of my lighter pack, but knew that I would be getting a 4-5 day supply of food for the next section and so might expect worse pain again. I picked up my resupply box and decided that I should have my neck looked at. My dear friend Fred Bomonti, a near retired chiropractor from Puyallup, said that he would see me the next day. I hopped a shuttle bus from Timberline Lodge to Sandy, another from Sandy to the Gresham MAX station, the MAX from Gresham to Union Station, and the Amtrak back home by 10pm. My dear lovely wife picked me up, and I could not be more happy to see her.

Ramona Falls
Mist engulfing the mountain
My first blister. I’ll be going back to my old shoes, the Altra Lone Peaks
You can’t see it well, but the streets are lined with “homeless” tents. This did not exist even a few years ago. Like Seattle, Portland has become a highly undesirable place to visit thanks to seriously misguided city management

I’ll soon be writing another blog about my thoughts so far and how I plan on negotiating the future life on the trail so stay in touch.

Northward Ho

June 24th, 2019
Back on the Trail

13JUN

I am now traveling north to intercept Russ and resume our journey somewhere north of Mile 652. Old Station seems to be a good starting point, though communications with those who also flip-flopped suggest that there are problems with that in that they are running into slushy half-melted snow which is very hard to walk through while breeding massive legions of Satan’s insect, the mosquito. The mosquito is the only creature that has no use other than to torment man. Russ and I will have to make some hard decisions. There still needs to be some time for the snow to melt. Maybe a week or two at the beach would be a good idea?

I’ve been able to interact with many of the PCT hikers, some being fairly normal people with an adventuresome spirit, and others appear to be tortured and tormented souls, running both from themselves and from God. They are like the Cheryl Strayed character in the book “Wild”, seeking redemption bt definitely without God’s help or guidance. The trail ultimately becomes just another way of running from the truth and facing the realities of life. You might recall me talking about the drunken hiker at Scissors Junction. We called 911 on him. Three days ago, I met a person that looked exactly like him at the Dove Spring crossing where a number of us sought for shade and rest. I asked him in an obtuse manner about the Scissors Crossing incident, but he soundly replied that it could not have been him. Last night I went to Burger King seeking an internet connection, again saw this man lying in a drunken state in the beauty rocks outside of the restaurant. At this time he confessed that it was him at Scissors Crossing and begged me not to call 911 or the police again. As another example of hikers trying to find themselves, one hiker girl confessed to rejecting the Moroni faith at a very young age, which might have been a good thing save for what she chose to replace it with. Others are simply confused as to what they are running from or where they are running. The use of Ganga is huge. A sizable proportion has more than half their body surface area tattooed. Clearly one needs a great amount of constitution and smarts to survive the trail, but are just lacking in the most important thing in life, which is to realize all created things, both living things and non-living existence like rocks and streams and stars and sky, are there to glorify God. The wonders of the variety of His creation is unsearchable and beyond comprehension. To Him be all glory, power, praise and honor.

14JUNE

Russ and I met at the Redding train station at 4 am, my train arriving an hour late. Neither of us had slept more than two hours, staring at each other with glazed eyes of an incapacitated mental case. We decided to do an easy day of just getting to the trail, and then resting. Uber was able to get us to Old Station and next to the post office was a resort that we decided quickly on staying at. It took them about 4 hours to have a room ready, so we had time to chat, sort through gear, and send home things that were superfluous in our bags. After a restful day, we were ready to start the trail in the morning bright and early.

15JUNE – Old Station to Cache 22 (mile 1373-1393)

We woke up quite early and set out in cool weather. The weather soon warmed up a bit. Hiking was somewhat akin to desert hiking in that it was dry but we knew that the next easy water was 20 miles away at cache 22, so that is where our planned camp was to be. I pictured the Hat Creek Rim as being a desolate place, but it was anything but that. The rim overlooked a valley that was mostly a lava flow. Most of our walk was open but to our right (east) was dense Ponderosa forest. It was a little sweltering later in the day, and Russ was feeling the heat more than me. Camp was easy beside the water cache. Our plan was to take it a little easy for a few days to help Russ get his hiking legs. Since the trail was flat, it was the easiest hiking for me since the start at the Mexican border.

Hat Creek Rim with Mt. Shasta in the distance

The flat nature of the trail on the Hat Creek Rim
Russ in a very happy moment

16JUNE Mile 1393-1410

Today was an even easier day, mostly downhill, with beautiful views of Mt. Shasta to our front and Mt. Lassen to our rear. Though dry, it was through lovely meadows and lava fields that we walked. Russ separated for a brief period to walk the road that paralleled the trail as the trail was wearing on him. At mile 1407 was a cool refreshing stream where I stopped to wait for Russ to catch up. From there, we passed a reservoir where many folk came to play. From there, we were able to arrive at Burney Mountain Guest Ranch, just a short walk off the trail to stay for the night. They provided dinner, breakfast, laundry, and a swimming pool. BMGR was a non-profit Christian organization that seemed (at this time of the year) to cater to thru-hikers. It was here that Russ decided to bail out, as it was much different than he expected and he had not prepared adequately for the journey. For me, it was sad to see him go as he is a delightful person. Because of daily trail weariness, the trail oftentimes is not a terribly sociable place.

Lava bed meadows
The trail going through bare lava flow
Expansive meadows off of the rim

17JUNE – mile 1410-1419

A typical trail sign

Today started with breakfast at the Burney Mountain Guest Ranch, and then saying goodbye to Russ. It was with great pain in my heart that I said goodbye and cherished his companionship, but realized that it would be brutal to expect him to continue as he really was not prepared for the concept of thru-hiking, being exceedingly overpacked, and not really doing any training hikes with a loaded pack to prepare for this. It would not have been wise for him to continue. Perhaps I had been a little harsh in criticizing his unpreparedness for the style of thru-hiking, since it is radically different from regular backpacking. I did try, but guess I failed to get through to him. So, I made a Nero day today, going only 9 miles, and camped at Burney Falls State Park. Tomorrow will be a grunt with lots of miles and climbing. I was able to pick up my resupply box and rest up for the next five hard days. I met Intrepid from Vermont at the Park store while sorting out our resupply food. She is an older lady that did the Appalachian Trail 2 years ago. She decided to not stay at the state park, and I decided to linger, though regretted that later. The hiker-biker site at the state park was somewhat inconvenient but put me in a nice spot to head out for the next challenge. This evening, I went out for a walk and had a couple of beers with some fishermen, got back to camp, and discovered that my food bag had been stolen with half of my food. I kept my food in an odor-tight LokSack bag inside of a dyneema bag. The bag with my cup, spoon, and half the food was missing. Quickly looking around, I found the sack in another open tent so took it back, then ran to the store to make possible alternatives to the food that was missing. Late in the evening, the people came back who took my stuff, apologized, and returned my food. The bag was sitting in a bear box, and they just assumed that it was a free for all hiker box to take as they pleased. I told them I’d be happy to give them food if they needed it, but they responded that they had enough, so I’m not sure why they would be taking a food bag that had absolutely NO appearance of being hiker-box material. Sometimes, fellow hikers are more dangerous than bears. At least they were honest in returning my food.

Burney Falls

18JUNE – mile 419-437

I started hiking at 5:30 this morning, a little later than I had wished. Even though it wasn’t cold out, it is still hard to get going. Leaving Burney Falls, the trail headed mostly north and west. It was flat for only a couple of miles, and then started climbing. I saw several patches of snow and was told that tomorrow I would be walking through a moderate amount of snow. There were very few people on the trail, and most of them were not thru-hikers. I queried everybody coming south about the condition of the trail between Castella and Etna, and it sounded like nobody was getting through. I might need to change my plans again. Unfortunately, I have no cell phone service to talk things over with my most trusted confidant, Betsy. So, I’ll call her in Dunsmuir and figure out what to do next at that time. Meanwhile, I am enjoying the trail with its beautiful forests and shade from the blast of the sun. I’ll probably try to get an earlier start tomorrow and should be able to make it to Dunsmuir in three more days.

Mount Shasta getting closer
First spot of snow, which would lead to 2-3 miles of nothing but snow
Mt. Shasta with beautiful rock formations

19JUNE – mile 1437-1461

Today was a big day. I was up at 4 am but hit the trail by 5. This was going to be an extreme climbing day, and I knew that I would be hitting a lot of snow. As I climbed ever upward I ran into Salty, who strongly suggested that I walk the road because the trail with snow was so challenging. I check out the parallel dirt road, which appeared to be a lengthy mud puddle and decided to stick with the trail. The was wonderful at first, then slowly, patches of snow showed up and eventually the entire trail for about three miles was completely covered with snow. Because most of this year’s PCT hikers had not yet arrived here, the tracks through the snow were non-existent. Right as I was beginning to heavily consult Guthooks app, Stick Figure shows up. He appeared very comfortable with the situation, and I made sure to stay up with him. We eventually got through the snow, and I thanked him heartily for showing up at just the right time and sticking with me. After this, it was just steady trail until I found a place to camp. I was tired enough that cooking dinner was out of the question.

A view from the top, just past the snow.
Looking back at the snow I had just gone through

20JUNE – mile 1461 – 1477

Today was a slightly shorter day, as I was still tired from yesterday, and there was still a lot of climbing to do. I had camped out last night on a dirt road that was a bit uneven, so did not sleep well. I met up a mile later with a group of three ladies hiking together that I knew, including Intrepid, Say-it-again and Buffy, who camped by a Springs where I stopped for water. We were to meet and camp again that evening at a campsite 1477. The next decision was as to whether I should do 23 miles the next day, which also included much climbing, or make it one more night on the trail. I’ll probably wake up early tomorrow and decide. Today was a very pleasant hiking day, even though the sun was out full force. I always had plenty of water, and the forest offered remarkable shade for most of my journey. Early on, I was walking with Intrepid when I took a nasty fall while trying to climb over a large downed tree. My right thigh hurt for several days afterwards, and I felt a bit unstable on my feet. Stick Figure passed me again a few times, and most of the thru-hikers were headed in a southerly direction starting from I-5 (Castella/Dunsmuir). The forest ranger was warning hikers NOT to go into the Trinity Alps area, as the snow levels remained dangerously high. Today was most beautiful. Much of the hike included descending to the McCloud River and then climbing out of that valley. The road into the McCloud River was closed from landslides, so that the usual crowds were not there save for a lone fly fisherman who must have walked several miles in. There were bugs, but they were tolerable. I arrived at camp, set up my tent, cooked a real dinner, and three hours later, the girls show up. I’m ready to crash early and do an early start tomorrow. As mentioned above, I will definitely need to alter my plans but will wait to speak with Betsy.

Intrepid
McCloud River with lone fly fisherman

21JUNE – mile 1477-1501

This was another long day, with lots of climbing, but ending with a very long 10 mile descent into the Castle Crags State Park. I was on the trail by 5:30 am, and the weather remained cool throughout the day. This made walking quite easy. There were multiple views of Mt. Shasta, now looming very close. I could see the Trinity Alps, covered with snow, and Castle Crags. Thankfully I did not need to keep as much water on me, 2 liters being sufficient. The descent took a little more than 3 hours. On bottom, there wasn’t much of anything, and I needed to get 4.5 miles north to Dunsmuir. I tried getting in touch with Uber, Lyft, and a local taxi service with no avail, but then a fire truck stopped when my thumb was out and the kind sir gave me a ride into town. The hotel in town close to the train station announced to me that they were full, so I walked into town to contemplate my options. Out of nowhere the Flying Dutchman caught me, we had some pizza together, and decided to hang out in the train station until morning. After all, we both looked like drifters or bums! The Flying Dutchman sustained some injuries and decided to head home through Seattle. He also decided to stay at our place until he could get a plane ticket back to the Netherlands. His daughter would remain on the trail with new-found friends for another month. It was nice to have an accompanying friend again.

Mount Shasta ever closer
Castle Crags

22-24JUNE – home again???? Read on…

The Flying Dutchman and I spent the night catching momentary sleep in a very stuffy overheated waiting room. At least the toilet was open. The train came an hour late, but then we could get some sleep. Sitting close to me was the Professor, another thru-hiker, who was performing his 2-3 flip, and a guy from Israel (also thru-hiking, sitting with the Flying Dutchman), who were trying to determine his flip options but probably going from the Bridge of the Gods north into Washington. The snow dilemma remains. If I walked north into Washington, I would hit high snow at Mt Adams, very dangerous snow on Goat Rocks and the Kendall Catwalk, and have lengthy trail snow around Glacier Peak. In Oregon, though it just snowed at Timberline Lodge, the trail is free of snow, and Jefferson would soon be free of snow as well as the three Sisters area. By the time I arrived at Crater Lake three weeks later (assuming I started south from the Bridge of the Gods), the snow should be mostly gone. I’ve been able to review what other hikers were doing, and it was mostly extremely chaotic. There is no consensus on a best option, and many hikers are simply dropping out, like Pasta.

I will probably start south from Cascade Locks/Bridge of the Gods, and work my way to Dunsmuir again. I could use a rest. I’ve developed a crick in my neck that I would like to resolve. I have some bruises from falls on the trail that would be nice to resolve. . I need to make a few minor equipment changes. I will need to reorganize my resupply boxes since I am going in the opposite direction (southward) from what was originally planned. I’ll be busy next week.

Meanwhile, Betsy and I are playing trail angel to the Flying Dutchman (Michael). Yesterday, we went up to Seattle to show him the town. He thought that the town was dirty and over-run my homeless people. He was also surprised that Seattle so quickly tears down beautiful historic buildings and constructs moderns monoliths in their place. Today, I took Michael up to the Greyhound station. I was overwhelmed by how poorly Greyhound is now run. We showed up at the Greyhound station only to be told in vague terms that we needed to walk a 1/2 mile to where the bus would actually pick him up. We got there, the bus was an hour late, the bus was over-booked by about 20 people, it was completely chaotic, and if I didn’t beg and plead somebody to give Michael his place, he would never have gotten to Vancouver, BC in time to catch his plane back to the Netherlands. Fortunately, a recent text from him mentioned that all was well with him at the airport. He was a wonderful person to meet, and hope to again encounter him.

The Flying Dutchman (Michael) with the bust of Chief Seattle
Michael at the Space Needle

I will be anticipating starting on the trail again in early July. This will allow snow to melt and the weather to get a little more stable. I will probably not have any more posts until I’m ready to be back on the trail. Until then, may God be with you all.

PCT interlude

June 1st, 2019
Two doctors-Dr. Diane (DD) and me

There has been a silence in my posting, and a few people have wondered where I’ve been on the trail. Actually, I am totally okay, and ready to resume walking. In fact, my feet are itching to get back on the trail. But first, I owe my dear readers an explanation. I had planned from the very start of this adventure to sneak home at the end of May. My youngest daughter Diane was graduating from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) with DNP (doctor of nursing practice). As far as Diane knew, I was still on the trail, until we encountered each other soon after the hooding ceremony. It truly was a surprise for her, as I intended it to be a surprise. I felt most honored to watch Diane graduate. She was chosen to give the oration for her class, and she did a superb job of that. She will do well.

Diane offering the oration for the DNP class
Diane being hooded: now a gurl ‘n da hood!

There were two other reasons that seemed to fit into my plan quite well. First, I was having a nasty case of anterior tibial stress syndrome, that was not only dreadfully painful but also causing redness and swelling in my right leg. I posted a photograph of the lesion in my prior post. It is now completely gone, and I’ve been able to run up and down hills without pain. I attended church (Faith Presbyterian in Tacoma) and encountered the kind, wise and gentle ole’ Doc Darby, an occupational physician, who told me exactly what I had and how I got my leg condition before I told him anything. He also was able to recommend a treatment plan, namely, rest and compression wraps. It worked. Second, there was a serious dilemma as to how to handle a trail still untrod by hikers ahead of me and covered deep in snow. Following many posts on Facebook from the PCT Class of 2019, it was clear that those who were able to make it partially through the snow of northern California were having a most difficult time, while those who felt comfortable pushing through the high Sierra were inundated by ongoing snowstorms, many suffering from such maladies as frostbite. This is a year that the PCT was NOT meant to be hiked.

My plan is as follows. On 05JUN, I will take the train and bus back to Tehachapi to finish 94 miles of the desert uncompleted, going from Willow Springs road east of Tehachapi to Walker Pass. I will do that in two stages, first slack packing (hiking with a day sack) from Willow Spring Road to Hwy 58, taking the bus back into town, and then the next day, taking the bus back to the trail where it meets highway 58 and heading north. This will give me a chance to again break in my legs, and will cut a 25 mile waterless section down to 17 miles, allowing me to carry less water and thus move quicker. After I reach Walker Pass, I will take the bus and then train up to Redding, meet a church friend Russ Anderson in Redding, and head over to Old Station, where we will resume the trail. Old Station is just north of the troublesome Lassen Volcanic National Park, still heavily burdened with snow, and south of a long snow-free area. We’ll start by walking through a 29 mile dry stretch of the Hat Creek Rim, and then encounter some snow as the trail turns toward I-5. We will probably rest a day and clean up in Shasta City, and then resume our trek through the Trinity Alps and Marble Mountain Wilderness of NW California. This last area is deep in snow, but we will be arriving there in 3-4 weeks, where other hikers will have blazed the way through. So, that is our plan. It is possible that snow might further delay our ventures, but the intention is push on as much as God gives us the strength to continue.

I’ve been able to accomplish a few other matters while at home. I’ve completed the papers for signing up for MediCare. Scary. Government health insurance. Secondly, I’ve realized that my diet has completely changed. There are things I now prefer to eat, and things I now detest. I love granola at home but hate it on the trail. I will pack apples and other fruit, in spite of the weight. I developed a love for lunch that consists of peanut butter and honey or jam put into a tortilla wrap, or, tuna wrapped in a tortilla. As a gluten-philiac, it’s a great way to get a little extra gluten in my diet. Then, I realized that certain necessities like batteries (for the headlamp) and toilet paper and toothpaste just don’t go as quickly as I thought, so was able to extract them from the resupply boxes.

My new image, more adapted to the forests of the Northwest. The hat is a Seattle Sombrero.


I’ve changed a few things in the pack. 1. I bought a new Z-packs Duplex tent. It is a 2 man tent that weighs slightly more than a pound and very suitable for inclement weather. The poles to support the tent are your hiking poles. I got rid of my hydration system that sits inside the pack, and am using a system that connects to a SmartWater bottle. I’m back to an air mattress and am using the ThermaRest Uberlight pad. Hopefully, it lasts longer than the Exped mattress, which spontaneously tore on night 2 or 3. And, I’m changing my clothes which will be more effective at heat retention and mosquito protection, as well as rain protection, including packing a heavier raincoat. So, I feel ready to fit the trail with my altered equipment. In all, the base weight is perhaps just slightly heavier, but I will be needing to carry much less water.

The view from the lunchbox area of Mt. Si, looking toward Snoqualmie Pass.

I’ve tried to retain my hiking legs while home by getting out on the hills I trained on before the hike. Several days ago, I ran up Rattlesnake Ridge with Russ. Today, I took Betsy all the way to the top of Pinnacle Peak. A few days after that I ran up Mount Si, 3500 ft of elevation gain with a 9 mile hike. I do all of these with a loaded backpack to simulate me being back on the trail.

Le Garçon at the entrance of the Foucachon house.

I traveled back to Moscow, Idaho to interact with the Huguenot Heritage people. They wish to do a little more filming. Perhaps, I might add that the cause of HH is helping me to push things on the trail as hard as possible, though always keeping safety in mind. HH is an incredible and desperately needed ministry to bring sound Gospel theology to the French-speaking people of the world. It is helping to provide seminary type education to parts of the world where there is no opportunity for pastors to get a solid education in the Christian faith. As a fan of church history, it is without question that the church until recently held great value in an educated clergy and laity. Catechumens in the very early church were denied baptism until they proved knowledgeable in the faith. The Christian faith has always held that it is not only that you believe, but that the content of your belief is correct. I have seen first hand the Christian church exploding in Africa in places where French is the main language outside of the native African tongue. These are people that need the solid Gospel taught to them and Huguenot Heritage through the Third Millenium Ministries has been greatly instrumental in that task. If my hike accomplishes nothing but brings greater awareness to the Third Millenium and Huguenot Heritage ministries, then I will consider my hike a worthy venture.

I always enjoy interacting with the folk from Moscow, Idaho. They are wonderful people that are very intellectually stimulating to me, like a breath of fresh air with kindred spirits. Francis Foucachon was instructed to cook something very simple for me, and so promised hamburgers but made shish kebabs instead. Francis, as a trained French chef, is incredible. He can make dirt taste delectable. I never ever really cared for eggplant, but his rendition of eggplant was exceptionally savory.

Betsy, Carol, Lew, Gaylon

Today my brothers Lew and Gaylon with Lew’s wife Carol popped up from Portland for a visit. I made shish kebabs (with eggplant!) but could not imitate the culinary masterpiece Francis cooked up several days before. We had a wonderful time discussing my next plans for the trail. I will meet with Russ tomorrow and the Medicare man on Tuesday. Wednesday, Betsy takes me back to the Amtrak station, and the adventure resumes. My next post will probably be from Lake Isabella on about 12JUN. A bientôt!

So, I’ll end with the Pilgrim’s Song, #136 from the ACCA Zion’s Harp, the words very slightly corrected. For ACCN members, it is sung to the tune What Could be Lovelier Ever, ZH #297.

Come pilgrims join in singing, Sweet praises to our King,
Who blest us with salvation, Through faith in His good word.
Who blest us with salvation, Through faith in His good word. 

He is the faithful Shepherd, Our rock and Refuge true,
Who lovingly doth lead us, Whose word doth us renew. 
Who lovingly doth lead us, Whose word doth us renew. 

His word our soul does nourish; it is so sweet and pure,
gives faith and strength in conflict, all trials to endure,
gives faith and strength in conflict, all trials to endure.

It shows us our rich treasure, Which God doth now prepare,
Refreshes us with pleasure, Its comforts we do share,
Refreshes us with pleasure, Its comforts we do share.

Our hearts are filled with praises; Our zeal it does renew,
Removes all fear and doubting, Gives motives pure and true,
Removes all fear and doubting, Gives motives pure and true.

He graciously beholds us and leads us in His way,
And joyfully we’ll journey to heaven day by day.
And joyfully we’ll journey to heaven day by day.

So let us journey onward, to heaven and the blest,
For after strife and toiling we’ll reach the land of rest.
For after strife and toiling we’ll reach the land of rest.
ZH 136


PCT- week 2

April 15th, 2019

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.

First Days on the Trail

April 10th, 2019

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.

PCT-The Beginning

April 3rd, 2019

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!

PCT T minus 4

March 31st, 2019

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!



T minus 14 days

March 21st, 2019

I’ve been busy. Those who follow my posts will note that I have tried to read a few more of my vast stack of unread books. You will see several more book reviews before I begin my quest. I have tried out different gear. I have trained too hard, and developed blisters on my feet which have laid me up. I move much faster in training than I would on the trail, and don’t stop to tend to sore spots on my feet. This something I don’t do when actually backpacking, and so I know why I don’t experience blisters when seriously on the trail. Happily, I have learned that I also recover quite quickly from bad blisters, so I know that I won’t ever be thrown off the trail just because of a sore or two on my feet.

New Equipment

I have had a few equipment changes that are not entirely of my own personal choice. I decided to carry a personal locator beacon (PLB), and for me, it is the Garmin InReach device. I chose this device since it also carries maps of the trail, and can serve to provide as a back-up in case my iPhone goes on the blink. I will not be carrying paper maps in order to keep my weight down. With the choice of a PLB, I desperately needed something to remove in order to keep down my weight. I decided to remove my camera, at least for the desert segment of the trail. This took off about 2 lb and added 1 lb, so I’m getting a bit closer to my ideal pack weight. I will still take photos, but just use my iPhone for that. I might be using a larger (26800 mAh) backup battery.

I have several shoulder strap pockets that I’ve tried out, and I don’t like either one of them. The iPhone does not go in and out easily, and it is hard to store other items in the strap pocket. Thus, I have ordered and will try out a fanny pack that many thru-hikers use, called the ThruPack Summit Bum. It provides not only a most convenient place to store my iPhone, but also trail snacks, insect lotion, and sunscreen cream, the things you wish to access on the trail without having to remove your pack. It should arrive in the mail soon, and so I’ll give it a try when it arrives.

I am experimenting with various sorts of water containers. Because I like to use a hydration bladder, I also need a means of bringing extra water in the desert sections. I simple solution would be to have several 1.5 liter SmartWater bottles. I am using some new collapsable canteens, much lighter than the Nalgene canteens of yesteryear, yet very versatile. I would like to make as few of changes as possible at this time, so I probably won’t switch out anything else until I’m actually on the trail and find something that doesn’t fit my fancy.

Huguenot Heritage

One raison d’être for this hike is to raise funds for Huguenot Heritage. Huguenot Heritage is the ministry of Francis Foucachon, a French-born person, trained as a French chef, later becoming an ordained minister in the Reformed faith, now functioning as a missionary to the French-speaking people of the world. Dr. Foucachon is partnering with Third Millenium Ministries in translating materials for theological education into the French language. This stuff is desperately needed. Francis tells me of people coming to Christ in Africa through the ministry of Benny Hinn, and having no clue as to authentic Christianity. With Third Mill materials, natives in the field can receive a full seminary type education in the faith without ever having to leave their country or their community. It is just a super idea that is worthy of all of our support. Please prayerfully consider signing up for my hike-a-thon to support Huguenot Heritage. Hit the link above to discover more about HH and learn what they are doing among the French-speaking people of the world. Pennies per mile is all that I ask, and if you commit to only 1 cent per mile, you’ll only be out of $26.50 if I survive all 2650 miles of the trail. Of course, I encourage you to donate more than 1¢, but any amount matters. You are not supporting me, as I am fully supporting myself; not a cent of your donation will come to me. Your money will be used entirely for building God’s kingdom. So, just do it! They should soon have the ability to make pledges on their website.

PCT T minus 30

March 5th, 2019
Daniel, Francis, Donna, and David Foucachon, then Cooper White, Cooper Salmon

Thirty more days until I start hiking the PCT. The anxiety is building. Thoughts are raging about my preparedness and plans. There are several things that are most important now.

Betsy

I will be leaving Betsy for 5-6 months. She is my top priority in life and the person that I have learned to love more than any other human in the world. My thoughts are ever toward her and her welfare while I am gone. She will be babysitting our granddaughter Rachel during the months of May, June, and July and so will be busy. But she is worried about my welfare, and I need to assure her that I will always play it safe. It is possible that I may drop in at home once or twice in the middle of my hike, but that remains something that I can’t speak about at this time. We’ve gone over many details of the economics of the household since I’ve managed our finances and other concerns entirely up to this time. I think that she is feeling comfortable with matters.

Heavy snow year

I’ve followed online discussions (mostly on Facebook) about how to deal with the heavy snow year. It is quite possible that I will be doing what is called a flip-flop, where one jumps ahead on the trail, and then comes back later to complete that section. If I flip-flopped, I would probably jump from Walker Pass to Donner Pass, complete the hike, and then return to Walker Pass to complete the high Sierra.

Finishing other projects

There are garden and yard projects that need to be completed, friends and family to touch base with, and completion of my autobiography. I have published on this blog site the 1st version of my autobiography. I’ve heard back from several friends that I perhaps might have over-stated some things, such as my criticism of the south without discussing that in general, Betsy and I had a very nice time in Biloxi, all other things being considered. I will probably add in a brief description of my PCT hike, and submit the autobiography to the printers just after our 40th wedding anniversary on 20OCT2019. I await other critical comments on the book but just haven’t heard back from anybody regarding corrections that they would like me to make regarding their own personal details. There will be time for that if you e-mail me before September.

Huguenot Heritage

The photo above is that of Francis and Donna Foucachon, whose ministry is that of Huguenot Heritage, partnered with 3 Millennium Ministries in providing theological educational materials to the French-speaking peoples of the world. My heart goes out to those in Africa and elsewhere who speak the French language, yet have almost no instructional materials in solid Christian theological doctrine and truths. This last Sunday and yesterday I spent back in Moscow, Idaho filming promotional materials for Huguenot Heritage. Several of the Foucachon children run a video/publishing concern in Moscow, Idaho called Roman Roads Media, and they were able to do filming with me outside (in the snow) as well as inside. We intend to do a hike-a-thon style fund-raiser for my PCT hike, asking people to commit to so many cents or dollars per mile to the Huguenot Heritage effort. 100% of all funds will be used carefully to fund the translation of educational materials used by 3rd Millennium. I beg all readers to consider making a donation. Since the trail is at a maximum of 2650 miles and if you donate a penny a mile, the most you will be out will be $26.50. I sincerely hope that you could do 10¢ or even a dollar or more per mile. It will be tax deductible, and serves greatly in promoting God’s kingdom among the French. There will be more information forthcoming regarding this effort on this web site, on the Huguenot Heritage webpage, and on my Facebook page.

It was a total delight to spend time with the Foucachon family and their friends from Roman Roads Media. They are the most wonderful hospitable people. Francis grew up in France, and was trained as a chef. He then went into the ministry, being ordained in the PCA church (I think). He lives in Moscow, Idaho, and used to run a totally first class French restaurant in town, until his Huguenot Heritage ministry needed his full-time attention. I am generally indifferent to French cooking, but I’ve now had a number of meals cooked by Francis, and without hesitation note that they among the best meals I’ve ever had in my life. He is a phenomenal cook. Sunday evening, he cooked a tenderloin steak that is probably the best steak I have ever had ever, bar none. On Monday, he cooked up some lobster bisque and vegetable soup for lunch that was to die for. I really didn’t grasp that food could taste so good. Sunday evening, we were able to share a superb bottle of cognac, fine cigars (that I brought), and fellowship. In so many ways, Francis and I are identical in our theology. We love the Reformed faith, we love the old paths, we love vanTil, we love a worship service that is deeply formal and reverent, etc. It was like discovering a truly kindred spirit. I will definitely be visiting him (and hopefully, some day, his church, Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho) again.

vegetable soup and lobster bisque

A very hospitable table that can be expanded much further. This was lunch! with a wonderful wine, salad, a melted cheese item, and the soups above.

There was about 6 inches of snow in the Moscow, Idaho area. The drive was snowy all the way from Tiger Mountain (in Western Washington) to Moscow, Idaho. The roads were excellent. Nearing their home in Moscow, Idaho, I was using Google Maps, which took me down a side road that ended up unplowed and impassable. After a little difficulty turning around, I make their home in just over 5 hours.

I will be using the Huguenot Heritage and Roman Roads Media people to do my hiking updates. I’ll send them the photos and text, and they will place them into a blog page that will illustrate my hike. Thus, it will be important that you connect with the Huguenot Heritage website.

Preparation for the Hike

I still need to continue exercises to get me in shape. I’d like to do one overnight backpack trip, even if it is only a few miles in distance, just to get used to packing and unpacking the tent, sleeping bag, and camping stuff. I will continue my day hikes, now always with my ULA backpack containing in it everything that I will be needing for my hike. Other days, I’ll go with Betsy to the YMCA and work out on the stair stepper and weights. I feel ready at this time, but wish to continue training exercises up to the time of my departure.

PCT T minus 45

February 18th, 2019

18FEB2019

Only 45 days to go to start the trail, and 42 days to depart Puyallup. Am I getting the heebie-jeebies? Yup! Will I still do it? Yup! Am I totally physically and psychologically prepared? Nope!

Snow

My greatest concern at this time is the snow levels in the mountains. Though there is a large snowpack, the water content is low, so I might be okay with a straight thru-hike. If I get close to Kennedy Meadows (the start of the high Sierra) and I hear that the snowpack is still formidable, I might do a flip-flop and jump ahead to Soda Springs, finish the hike, and then come back to complete the high Sierra after everything else has been hiked. This is not unusual to be done, though I’d prefer to not have to do this. For Betsy’s peace of mind, I wish to exercise the greatest prudence and safety possible for the hike.

Exercise

The heavy snow in early February has prevented comfortable outside exercising. My training walks have been put on hold. In order to maintain some sense of bodily activity, I’ve been going with Betsy to the YMCA and pumping iron as well as using the elliptical machine, which seems to best simulate walking with pack. Hopefully, I can get back out on the trails soon.

Preparation

I have all of my resupply boxes taken care of, and extra supplies at home organized. My pack is packed, and is still a little heavy, but am not going to fuss too much about it. The weight will come down during the first few weeks of the hike. I’ll only keep several days worth of food on me during the first few weeks, but may need 5-6 liters of water at a time on the trail. I’ve also thought about the things that I would need to keep my mind okay while hiking. I don’t like hiking with earphones, but will have adequate music and stuff to listen to on my iPhone. To keep weight down, I will not be carrying any books, including a Bible, but will have books and Bible on my iPhone. That is also true of maps, which will all be on my iPhone. I also like to go over hymns, and so I’ve compiled my top list of hymns and hiking songs, put them in pdf format, and these can be found at the bottom of this page.

Fund Raising

I wish to raise funds for Huguenot Heritage. This ministry translates Reformed theology materials into the French language. My friend Francis Foucachon runs that ministry, and lives in Moscow, Idaho. We will be instituting a campaign that suggests donations per mile per Halfmile Maps. Since the maximum mileage is 2650 miles, a penny a mile will put you out a grand total of $26.50, and 10¢/mile will put you out $265.00. Please think seriously about supporting this effort. I will be going back to Moscow, ID next week to work out a campaign plan with Francis.

Transportation to the Trailhead

I’ve now purchased my train tickets and will be heading out on 01APR. As mentioned above, I’ll stay overnight at a hostel in San Luis Obispo and arrive in Oceanside, CA in the early afternoon of 03APR. On Thursday AM at the crack of dawn, my friend Tom Braithwaite will be dumping me off at the trailhead. After that, I’m on my own.

Other Tasks

Since Betsy will be without me for a while, I’m trying to get the house completely in order. Besides yard work, I’ve had a petty nightmare trying to get my stereo system working again. We have a Synology server with 30TB that takes holds all of our movies, music, and other information, as well as our security system and this blog site. It connects to a Mac Mini which in turn connects to a Denon receiver which connects to a large LG display. The Mac Mini was over 8 years old, and I could no longer upgrade the OS, so decided to upgrade the Mac Mini. The system will no longer connect properly. Many other people have had this problem, and I’ve tried a multiplicity of solutions to remedy it. I have a few other ideas in mind but ultimately may have to call in a “professional” to resolve the matter. Also, I am very near to the completion of my Memoirs. I am trying hard to be sensitive when I need to speak honestly and frankly about others. I am working on tailoring it to read easily and smoothly, while being grammatically correct. The easy part was writing the book as it took me about a week. The hard part is in doing all of the corrections and editing and putting it into a format which could be submitted to a printer.

PCT T minus 70

January 25th, 2019
Resupply boxes

T -70 and counting.

The PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) is a 2650 mile trail that runs from the Mexican border to Canada. Over the distance, multiple deserts and dry spots are crossed, mountains are climbed, and even a pass of 13,100 feet altitude must be negotiated. Specifically, the route runs as follows…

Some of the trail in Oregon and Washington I’ve already hiked, or I am quite familiar with the trail. Other parts, like in California will be totally new to me. Although the trail starts in Southern California, and I will be starting my hike on 04APR, I will almost certainly be hitting snow within the first 100 miles, and challenging snow outside of Idyllwild/Palm Springs. So, I await eagerly the snow reports that will be forthcoming in March.

Training: I am trying to prepare my body for this feat. Already I’ve been hiking up trails and stiff peaks, holding about a 3 mph pace on average. This includes carrying a 30 lb pack, which I’ll be increasing to 40 lb soon. I don’t anticipate typically needing a 40 lb pack, but it still helps to improve the conditioning. The first day on the trail, I’ll try to get a 20 miler in, going from the border to Lake Morena. Why? There is a campground with water at Lake Morena and no guarantee of water before then. Also, there is a restaurant that serves hamburgers! I don’t want to be late for the restaurant. I also don’t want a situation where I burn myself out the first day. Most hikers will typically take most of their zeros (days where they do no hiking at all, like when in town to buy groceries and wash clothes) in the first 700 miles, which is just before the High Sierra.

Resupply: There are a lot of ways to resupply. Many will send most of their resupply packages, and depend minimally on needing stores and other resupply sources. Many will hit a town, and their purchase their resupply for the next two stops. Some will hitchhike into town at every road. I am doing a moderate higher resupply schedule than average, preparing between 20-22 boxes for the trail. I just need to go over them all one more time.

There are things that one cannot anticipate. That is how often one will need a change of clothes, or when certain equipment will break. For this, I am preparing contingency items for Betsy so that I could ask for some gizmo and she’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Other things, like shoes, I just plan on replacing every 500 or so miles. And yes, I already have 5 more pair of shoes boxed and ready to go.

The resupply boxes are all left open, so that if Betsy needs to slip in something or another before mailing the package, she may do that. They are all labeled. Since my trail name is Pilgrim, I printed many circular labels that include images of Pilgrim from Pilgrim’s Progress, that will help identify my packages. All she’ll need to do is to tape the box shut, put on an ETA (for me) at the post office, and send it off.

Sponsorship: I don’t need sponsorship. In fact, by doing this hike, my personal cost of living drops. You live simple when on the trail. Rather, I am trying to raise money for a mission project deeply of interest to me, which is the Huguenot Heritage. It is run by a good friend Francis Foucachon, who was a distinguished French chef who found Christ. As an ordained pastor, he now translates Reformed literature into the French language. It is a vital ministry, and God is working strong in French-speaking peoples of this world. I beg of you to support this ministry. I will be working with Francis to determine how you could support them on my backpack-a-thon. If you donate just 1¢/mile, you will only be out $26.50, or 10¢/mile, only $265.00, at most. That assumes that I am successful for the entire hike. I give myself about a 10% chance of making it all the way through. Please pray about this, and consider it seriously. Besides, not only does it further motivate me, it’s a great tax write-off.

Final Packing: I have my base weight down to 19 lb. In the old days, that would have been considered impossible. Now, it is still considered a touch on the heavy side. I will be vigorously scratching my head, packing, repacking and weighing everything that goes into my pack. Even fractions of an oz. matter. There are people that cut off their tooth brush handles to reduce weight. Many will not carry a stove. I’m not that valiant. Still, there are subtle ways to reduce weight, like omitting stuff sacs, re-thinking how much food you really need to carry, and picking here and there to lose weight. There are some interesting simple things. I will not be carrying paper maps. Guthooks Guides has the trail totally mapped out, with virtually every point of interest to the hiker, like campsites, water sources, obstacles on the trail, etc. This Guthook Guide goes on your cell phone. And, the map on your cell phone ties into your gps unit, so that you always know exactly where you are… so long as your cell phone doesn’t get damaged, or you accidentally burn out all of your battery supply.

Transportation to California: I’ll be taking the train down to California. A friend, Tom Braithwaite, who lives in the San Diego area will pick me up, let me stay at his house the night, and then dump me off at the trailhead. I’ll have to be purchasing train tickets soon for that.

Permits: Permits are now needed to do the trail, especially when going through the High Sierra. I have my PCT permit and California Fire Permit. All I need and am waiting for is the Canada Entry Permit. I don’t anticipate that they’ll turn me down, and if they do, I’ll reach Canada and then exit in the USA at Hart’s Pass.

Betsy and Home Arrangements: Betsy will be babysitting our 12th grandchild, starting the end of January. This will tie her up 5 days a week, up to summer, when Sarah gets off as a teacher for the school year. She will be going back in early September. This means most of my hike will be with her stuck at home. I’ll stay in touch day by day whenever I have cell phone coverage. Betsy needs to know which resupply package gets sent when, where all my camping stuff is, so that if I need something, she’ll have a clue where to find it.

Technology: I used to be on top of technology, until Technopoly took over (See Neil Postman’s book of that title). Determining how to do simple things, like posting a blog page from an iPhone will be challenging to me. Ultimately, I will figure some things out while on the trail. But, I’m making sure my camera can communicate with the iPhone, and that WordPress on the iPhone works well, as well as having FaceBook access.

Getting Psyched: I confess, I frequently look in the mirror, and wonder if I’m not blooming crazy. Yet, 10-20% of all thru-hikers (hikers that hike the whole tamale in one season) are over age 60. And, of all hikers, 30-40% are successful. Many of the unsuccessful are very unsuccessful for a reason, like not being prepared, or not thinking realistically about the endeavor ahead. So, I will do my best to be mentally prepared for this. After all, I’ve dreamed about hiking the PCT for many years, and I estimate that there are not many more years that I will be physically able to attempt such a feat. So, this will be my year, and I’ll give it my darnedest.

So, stay in touch. Pray for me, root me on, support my backpack-a-thon, and stay in touch. Pilgrim

Hiking Milestone in MRNP

October 4th, 2018
View from Pinnacle Saddle Trail showing lower tongue of the Nisqually Glacier, as well as the buildings at Paradise.

Today I completed a major milestone. I’ve lived in the vicinity of Mount Rainier National Park for the last 27 years, but finally completed a major goal of hiking (essentially) all 50 hikes in the book 50 hikes in Mount Rainier National Park. By essentially, I mean that I haven’t hiked every last bit of every trail in the park, but have completed most if not all of each of the trails, with some trails like the Wonderland Trail (93 miles around the mountain) I’ve done twice now. 

The hike that I completed today was a short hike with a lot of elevation gain, going up to Pinnacle saddle. It was a chilly fall day and overcast with frost and ice over much of the upper aspect of the trail. The huckleberries were yellow to red, adding a beautiful spread of color throughout the hillside. The hike was 1.5 miles with 1150 ft of elevation gain, taking me 45 minutes to get in, and 30 minutes to descend out, not rushing it. 

Pinnacle Peak hike starts at Reflection Lake
Huckleberries provide an array of color in the fall setting.
Approaching the upper end of the trail.
A view from the saddle
Other views from the trail
Across the saddle, a view of the Tatoosh Wilderness, and Packwood way off in the distance. Mt. Adams could typically be seen but was engulfed in clouds
Snow patches along the trail. The trails had frequent ice.

I then decided to hike back up the Carter Falls trail to inspect a turnpike that I helped to create earlier this spring. We did not finish the task, leaving the lower end of the turnpike about 18 inches above a drainage gulley. I mentioned that the best solution was to add a culvert (drain) and bridge over matters, but was shot down. It was interesting to note that the final result followed by advice precisely. 

The hike to Carter Falls crosses the Nisqually River on a log
A culvert added below the turnpike, as I advised

With the weather turning, it is unlikely that I will be doing many more hikes in Rainier. I’ll have to do some sort of hiking to prepare for the PCT next spring. When I return to Mt. Rainier, I’d like to return as a volunteer, maybe walking the trails, and providing advice to the mass swarms of visitors that are loving my park to death.

Holden WTA work trip

September 23rd, 2018
Holden Lake

Holden Washington Trails Association Volunteer Vacation 15-22SEPT2018

I try to include 7-10 days/year as a volunteer for the WTA working on trails. I love to backpack, and certainly have not done it as much as I’d like over my lifetime, yet I still feel that a few days “pay-back” for all the hard work that goes into building and maintaining a trail is worth it. Even on national lands, much of the trail maintenance is performed by volunteers, and it is hard work, so I feel that I can afford to do some trail work each year. I had already spent time with the PCTA on a Goat Rocks work project, and a long weekend on Mt. Rainier with the WTA. This trip was originally full, but when an opening came up, I quickly signed up, in that I had never been into this area, save for climbing Glacier Peak 40 years ago with Hannes Zuercher. 

Holden Village is not reachable by vehicle. Either one must backpack in, or take the boat ⅔ the way up Lake Chelan to Lucerne, and then be shuttled in 9 miles to the village. It was started as a mining camp in the 1930’s, the principle focus being copper from a mountain in the vicinity. The village was abandoned in the late 1950’s and then purchased by the Lutheran church as a retreat center. Later, it was discovered that iron leachings from the tailings were leading to a 2 mile section of Railroad creek not having any fish. $600 million later, and much further destruction of the area has led to a possible recovery of the Cutthroat trout in the short creek segment, but uncertainty remains about long-term viability of the entire project. We were not at the village to help with mine remediation, but to fix and clear the trails that run into and out of the village.  Our focus was to brush the MonkeyBear trail and the Holden Lake, Hart Lake trails, while building a culvert/turnpike on the Hart Lake trail. The work was a success, though much was still left to be done. Our leader was Jackson Lee, who was incredibly delightful to work with, probably one of the better leaders that I’ve had to work under, and very motivated at the task at hand. 

In mid-week, I did a 16+ mile hike to Holden Lake and then to Hart Lake, a stupendously beautiful venture of breath-taking quality. Holden Lake sits right under Bonanza Peak, the tallest non-volcanic peak in Washington. Hart Lake was on the trail up to Cloudy Pass and the PCT, and currently used as a bypass for PCT thru-hikers owing to an Agnes Creek fire just north of Suiattle Pass. The other Ken and Carol were close behind me. On my way back from Hart Lake, I got to walk out with 3 thru-hikers who have stayed together since departing Campo. 

Holden Village is run by the Lutheran church. They have Vespers every evening for 30 minutes, starting at 19:00. I usually attended. The services were quite different from traditional Lutheran liturgical worship that I was familiar with, having a focus on personal therapy as religion and worship of  the “happy feel-good eco-artsy-pacifist-inclusive-of-everything-god”. The staff were all very nice, and it was a joy to get to know them. Most of the workers were also volunteers. The closest thing I could think of to describe Holden Village was “The Village” portrayed in the tv series The Prisoner starting Patrick McGoohan, best known as the secret agent man. 

The first work day had heavy rain, and then we had sunny weather until Thursday, when it was cloudy but without rain. Departure on Saturday had more rain. The boat ride out was late in the afternoon, and I was able to make it home by 21:15 that evening.  Photos of the trip follow…

Tam on the trip in
The boat docked in Lucerne, headed up to Stehekin
Our crew gets a shuttle bus ride up to the Village
My bed in the Village
Our cabin in the village
Mountains surround the village
More of the village
The mine remediation project
Mine remediation structures
Ditto
Iron rich crud from the runoff collected downstream and then dumped upstream in this giant basin.
Drain runoff Woman hole (gender inclusive)
Attempt to reforest tailings
Eager beaver workers waiting to play in the dirt.
The turnpike crew, with a thru-hiker included on the far right, and forest service person in yellow.
View from the village
Our day packs are dropped, tools properly placed by the trail, and work commences
MonkeyBear Falls, site of Tuesday’s lunch stop 
The beginning of the turnpike/culvert
Rod, playing in the mud, digging drainage for the culvert
The turnpike filled in with rock followed by dirt using burrito-roll technique
Day hike up to Holden Lake
Higher up to Holden Lake, Bonanza Peak in the center
Holden Lake beside Bonanza Peak
Holden Lake, glaciers hovering above the lake
The other Ken at Holden Lake
Carol and Donald arriving at Holden Lake
Wild Ken in Wild-erness 
Hart Lake from above
The completed turnpike

Culvert running under the turnpike
Drainage beside the turnpike
Completely exhausted trail workers, barely making it.
Departure at Lucerne Landing, the boat arriving in the distance
Very happy trail workers, including Jackson, Elaine, and Pat

Olympic Rainshadow Hike

September 7th, 2018
Mount Olympus as seen from the trail to Grand Lake

04-07SEPT I had planned for a 3-4 day hike in the rain shadow region of the Olympic National Park. The Olympics tends to be challenging hiking, with the trails often showing no regard for real humans, heading straight up the hills without mercy. The land is rugged and not for the faint-of-heart, yet offers some of the most spectacular beauty to be seen. Every corner of the the trail, every vista, every pass, every step offers an ever unfolding realm of majesty; new snow-clad peaks, new valleys, new lakes and meadows, all discovered by the sweat of one’s brow and the toil of aching muscles and limbs… but, it was all very much worth it. Sometimes it could be a challenge to get permits into the Grand Valley basin. Fortunately, it was after Labor Day, and permits were quite easy to obtain. Even though the weather was spectacularly beautiful without a cloud in the sky, the campgrounds were quite empty. On the 8 miles or so of trail from the Grand Pass junction to Three Forks Campground, and the next day back up to Deer Park, I never saw a single other person of the trail. One needs not go to Alaska for solitude!

Day zero started by me leaving from home about noon, and reaching the Port Angeles ranger station where I was able to obtain my permit to hike, and camp at Moose Lake. I decided to start at Deer Park, which I didn’t realize was somewhat of a crazy drive up a VERY narrow gravel road 8 miles to the campground. I spent the night there.

One day one, the hike went from Deer Park to Moose Lake via Obstruction Point, roughly 11.5 miles and 3500 ft of climbing. Much of the trail to Obstruction Point was on a crest overlooking Port Angeles and the Puget Sound on one side, and a broad panoply of mountains on the other. The trail to the Grand Basin also followed a ridge overlooking Mount Olympus (see above) before steeply dropping down into the basin. A short further hike put me at Moose Lake, where I set up camp. There I met a retired chemical engineer named Ray, my same age, and we spoke of our joy for the mountains. I was just getting over a week-long bout of gastroenteritis, so a bit worried about eating. I tried some Loma Linda spaghetti bolognese, which tasted absolutely awful. The meal was remedied with pecan sandy cookies and Snicker bars.

Day two went further up the Grand Valley, beyond where most people do not go, up over Grand Pass. While the lower Grand Valley is V-shaped, the upper valley has a distinct glacial appearance as a large U-shaped cirque. The valley curves to the left, not seen from below, so the top of the valley as seen from Moose Lake was much lower than where Grand Pass actually was, a climb of about 3500 feet. The trail did not seem too difficult, until I had to descend on the other side. On the maps, the trail becomes a dotted line, suggesting not quite a trail. It was not terribly challenging to follow the route down, now with mountains on all sides of me. The hard part was that the trail condition was poor and not maintained. I was unable to hike any faster descending than when ascending the north side of the pass. I encountered three people on the trail, including middle aged lady, a younger man carrying a large tripod on his pack, and an old geezer slowly working his way up the pass… all were solo, like me. Once I reached the Cameron Creek trail, I decided to make this a three (rather than 4-5) day adventure and go down Cameron Creek. Everybody suggested that the trail was okay, and quite beautiful. It was a beautiful trail, though one was now in dense forest without views. The trail here was both poorly designed as well as poorly maintained. It was about 7 miles to Three Forks campground, which took me about 4.5 hours to achieve, much slower than my usual hiking speed on manicured trail. I am not sure why this trail is so neglected. It needs to be re-routed over many segments, and desperately needs a modicum of maintenance, after which I’m sure it would become a very popular trail. For dinner, I had my own specialty, where I combine freeze dried hamburger and vegetables into Top Ramen. It tasted great. The day was roughly about 12 miles, and 4500 ft of climbing.

The last day was a return to Deer Park on a trail that went straight from Three Forks Campground to Deer Park, about 4.4 miles with about 3500 ft of elevation gain. It was a persistent climb, but the trail was in stellar shape, making it not a terrible challenge. There was no available water on the trail, and knew that Deer Park had no water, so my CamelBak was filled with 3 liters, and I went through most of it. Toward the top, the vistas again opened up in their glorious beauty. Though this has been one of my more challenging hikes, I did not feel overwhelmingly spent or exhausted on ending it. I reached Deer Park by 10:30 in the morning, almost 3 hours of climbing. 

On the trail to Obstruction Point
Looking south toward the mountains
Grand Lake
My tent with the Bear Vault at Moose Lake
Moose Lake in the Grand Valley
The view from the summit of the Grand Valley
Grand Pass
Looking down the Cameron Creek Valley
A view in the upper Cameron Valley
My tent at Three Forks
The structure at Three Forks

A few more notes need to be added here. Equipment-wise, I tried out a new pack, the Exos 58, most of which I loved. It was a very comfortable pack, even though I didn’t take sufficient time to fit it to me. There are a few things I didn’t like about it. First, I liked the pockets in the brain, but didn’t like that they competed with an additional optional flap. I would have liked to be able to remove the flap. The long cord on each side that was to help compress the pack seemed more troublesome than good. There were no hip pockets to place little things. Yet, it held everything nicely, including the mandatory bear canister, which one must have when camping in the Olympics. I liked the two very large side stretch pockets and large back pocket. This will probably be my go-to pack, though I might eliminate the “brain” and find a pocket to hold all my loose-ends in in the pack. 

I also tried out two other things, including Dirty-girl gaiters and OP hiking gloves, both of which I loved. My feet were so comfortable in the Altas that I didn’t even bother taking them off at the completion of the hike… they just felt great, without blisters or soreness. The gaiters worked perfect at keeping out dust and rocks and sand from the shoe. I wore my pants over the gaiters, providing a secondary round of protection. The OP hiking gloves also were perfect, as my hands had no soreness while holding onto the hiking poles, didn’t become hot, yet allowed me access to my cell phone for gps purposes. 

I also tried out the MSR pocket rocket mini-stove. Before this, I was very happy with my JetBoil stove, but many reviews and recommendations suggested trying this out. I did, and didn’t like it. It takes at least twice as long to boil up 0.5 liter of water, and requires a lighter to get the flame started. It offers no weight advantage.  I’ll probably go back to my JetBoil Flash Lite system, and use the above stove as a back-up when I’m camping with a group.

Dirty Girl gaiters on my Altas
OR ActiveIce Spectrum Sun Gloves
Final View on leaving the trail

Goat Rocks Work Party with the PCTA

August 24th, 2018
Camp with my tent

PCTA Work Party Sasquatch Volunteer Vacation-Goat Rocks 16-23AUG

I had signed up for this trip early in the year, having hiked the area we would be working on in the recent past.  I enjoy doing trail work, and it is quite educational to experience how much work it really takes to maintain a trail in the wilderness. Though I had expressed a desire to hike the PCT in 2019, this had little influence on me wanting to actually contribute to the maintenance of this trail. 

I arrived to the starting trailhead at Waptus Lake the evening before on 16AUG, and some of the fellow participants were already there. I had a great night’s sleep, and the next morning, was able to meet the entire crew for our endeavor. The leaders, Justin and Dave, explained the rules of engagement, we did some stretching exercises, and off we went to a campsite (as seen above), 4.5 miles up the Waptus Lake trail. It was an easy hike, even with our packs loaded heavier than usual, and with a short steep uphill climb. The food, tools, and other provisions were being brought in by horse and mule through the agency of horse riding volunteers. The horse team passed us on the way into camp. 

We helped set up the community cooking tent, then hiked about ½ to 1 mile further to assess the trail segment on which we would be working. On return to camp, we set up our personal tents, and then had dinner, cooked compliments of Justin and Dave. Each night, two of the crew were assigned to do the cooking and kitchen clean-up. Even with our help, Justin and Dave had to do the lion’s share of coordinating the food efforts, and putting out the food for each day’s breakfast and lunch. 

On day 2, we commenced operations. I was involved in a team that did brushing on the trail below (south of) the Waptus Lake trail junction. The remainder of the crew went north on the PCT and started cutting down cedar trees, debarking the trunks, and installing check steps along the trail. Various portions of the trail would form large “ruts” from rain run-off, but drainage channels and check steps helped to slow the process of erosion of the trail. In the following days, I performed a combination of more brushing, installing check steps, de-berming (removing the outside edge of the trail in order to allow water run-off), and de-sloughing (removing the build-up of slough from the inside edge of the trail acquired my material coming downhill onto the trail). Perhaps Justin and Dave grew a little weary of my constant inquiry as to what and why we were doing things, but little did they know that I had a nickname as a kid of “twenty questions”. 

The very last day, we worked on the trail for only a few hours, adding polish to our work. We had installed 21 Steps (sounds like a Hitchcock film!!!), and did a massive amount of brushing, and de-berming/de-sloughing/drainage structures of the trail. It was a satisfying experience.

I really enjoy all the people that I get to meet in the work party. I felt like the  old goat (Alter Knacker) or (Blöde Ziege) of the group, though I believe there were 1-2 people older than me. There was Jacob, a sixteen year old kid, hoping to thru-hike the PCT next year. Beverly was a wonderful resource and a joy to work with, who had done many work parties in the Olympics. Joan was a very pleasant spirit, who shared a common occupation in the medical field. Julian, of whom I accidentally called “Marcel”. (Unfortunately???), the name seemed to stick, had hiked the PCT four years ago as “Back-scratcher”, and was most helpful in offering pointers in strategies of doing the PCT. Evan was delightful, a person I wish I could have spent more time with. Then there was Sterling, a gregarious personality who hails from North Carolina, who had an affection for finding the Sasquatch, and with whom I had many delightful interchanges. Sadly, his knee began acting up during our week of work. I hope that the knee is an easy to fix. Lastly (but not least), I mention Anne. She hails from Ingolstadt (in Bavaria, Germany), and was a true delight to get to know. I admire her willingness to come to America to get dirty working on our trails. It really touched my heart. She also was a doctor, and I felt a strong kindred spirit with her. I truly hope that we might meet again. . . vielleicht in mein Heimatland, Deutschland. Ich ehrlich liebe Deutschland!!!!! 

I left our fearless leaders last, but only because they deserve special mention. They made an awesome team, and set a tone within the work party that helped everybody on the team have a great time.  Justin was our fearless leader. He walked with a sprightly stride, and radiated the joie de vivre. Particularly, Justin was able to maintain qualities of a leader, such as not forming favorites within the group, and spent time interacting with each and every of the work party members. He behaved like he truly enjoyed what he was doing, which was infectious among the worker bees. Dave was a thru-hiker veteran, trail named Spatula, a bit more quiet personality, but also manifesting excellent leader skills. I loved interacting with Dave.

Several items need to be mentioned. The weather was perfect, but forest fires in the Northwest caused much haziness in the atmosphere, and leading to blood-red moons every night. The dew was quite heavy each morning. Besides my trips with a gourmet chef (John Pribyl), I have never eaten so well on a backpack trip. Superb planning by Dave and the assistance of the horse team allowed that to happen. Finally, my shoes died. I was personally attached to those shoes! They were the first shoes I had ever hiked in with which I had not gotten a blister after a multi-day hike. They took me around Rainier twice on the Wonderland Trail, and many, many other places. I had quit using them for hiking in the last few years, going to Alta shoes (light-weight hiking shoes), but needed them for WTA work parties. Thankfully, I had already purchased an exact second pair, fearing that they would some day die. They died. I noticed that the soles were coming off of both shoes the first day in. Several days later, I took precautionary measures by duct-taping the soles in a circumferential fashion to the boots. That partially helped, but by the time of the hike out, the soles were barely attached to the upper portion of the shoe. The padding of the shoe entirely decomposed, offering no cushion to the terra firma. I acquired my first (but small, non-painful) blister in many years. The shoes were in such pitiful condition, that I threw them away at the tail-head.

In the drive home, I had to make a stop at Scale Burgers in Elbe. Cora, the owner, was my cancer patient many moons ago, and over 25 years later, remained free of cancer. She came out to have a long chat with me. It’s hard to believe that Cora is in her mid-eighties and still kicking strong. The hamburger was also quite awesome. 

As I finish writing this post, I finish the last of five “Tristan und Isolde”s that I have serially listened to. The opera ends with the Liebestod, an extremely demanding soprano solo forced on poor Isolde at the end of five hours of intense singing. I mention this, in that the opera ends sadly, but the trail work also has a sad ending, in that good-bye’s need to be said, and a new set of circumstances need to be engaged. Many are returning back to work. Justin and Dave, after a week of rest, must prepare for yet another work party in the Mt. Adams area, and I must seriously make a decision about whether I should thru-hike the PCT next year. My leaning is in the strong affirmative, though I hate the thought of leaving my wife for 5-6 months, and staying dirty for that length of time. I’m used to sterile operating suites that had no hint of dust. I fear river crossings. But, I love God’s great earth, and share with Bilbo and Frodo the reluctant joy of an epic adventure. 

The cooking tent
A hazy sky from forest fires
Geriatric boots, ready to die
Some of the 21 Check steps that we installed
God’s beautiful world, created for our delight
Looking down from the PCT on the lake by which we were camped
The camp. Sterling rests his knee.
Beverly and Jacob take pride in a proto-typical check step
Joan shows off a step check in creation
Horses and mules saved our backs
We are most grateful to the horsemen that ferried our supplies to and from camp
Adios, my beloved boots

Dewey Lake with Sam

August 9th, 2018


Dewey Lake with Sam
I had planned on hiking into Snow Lake MORA (Mount Rainier) with Sam, purchased the reservations, and then at the last minute realized that I had the dates wrong. Panic and planning led to a longer hike (3.1 miles rather than 1.4 miles), but I’m glad we did it. Sam had an awesome time. He led the hike both ways, and kept a reasonable rate without any complaining. At the lake, I set up camp, did some swimming, loafed (I brought along an ultra-light camp chair), and did the cooking. Sam’s appetite was voracious. Here are some photos…

At the start, Sam is quite fresh


Sam at an overlook to Dewey Lake, half way in. It is about 800 feet down.


An eager backpacker


Sam had a voracious appetite, and ate almost all the food I brought in.


Sam, chilling out at the lake.


The amount of bugs were moderate, and Sam counted 14 bug bites. I had about the same. Our only mishap was that Sam realized at camp that he forgot to pack the sleeping bag. Ooops! We made do by opening my sleeping bag and using it as a quilt. We did not use the fly to our tent, and the stars were most beautiful. With the hike out, Sam did a wonderful pace, even though the climb made him a bit tired. He didn’t feel like he could do another mile. Because the hike was entirely on the PCT, several thru-hikers piqued Sam’s interest, though Sam adamantly remarked that he would not take off five months to do the PCT if that meant skipping school. Oh well… we’ll see!
 

Northern Loop (sort of) Mount Rainier

July 27th, 2018

Northern Loop of Mount Rainier 23-25JUL 2018
I had signed up for the Northern Loop on Mount Rainier in April, as it was one of the few hikes remaining on my list to do in Mount Rainier NP in order to complete all of the major hikes in the park. Besides, I was quite curious about the northern aspect of the park, which is somewhat less accessible than most other areas of the park. The year was mostly spent bicycling, and so to get my hiking legs in shape, I focused on some peaks in the Snoqualmie/North Bend area, doing Mailbox Peak, Mt. Si, and Rattlesnake Ridge. Mailbox Peak was definitely the hardest and Rattlesnake the easiest, but all are demanding climbs.

Russ A. with me on the summit of Mailbox Peak. Guess why it is called “Mailbox” Peak?


I have never done the summit scramble on Mt. Si, but always stop at the overlook several 100 feet below the true summit.


The summit of Rattlesnake Ridge does not afford any views


I had planned to do the hike with Russ A., but various circumstances prevented that from happening, so, not being able to find another hiking partner on short notice, I set out solo. Because the Carbon River Road inside the park is washed out with no intention of the NP service to repair it, an extra 5 miles is added to the hike, which is not challenging, since it is basically flat, with easy gravel road conditions. I camped at the Ipsut Creek campground that night.

Ipsut Creek Camp


Views of the mountains from the Carbon River Road


Waking up the next morning, I headed out, knowing that this would be the hardest day, entailing over 4000 ft of climbing in the space of about 4 miles. The weather could not be more perfect, and I headed across the Carbon River, then working up Chenuis Mountain to the Yellowstone Cliffs. It actually went easier than I thought, though it was a steady climb all of the way through, without relief. Fortunately, it was in dense forest, which kept the hike cool. The Yellowstone Cliffs were most spectacular, and the beauty even intensifying as one reached the Windy Gap, where several alpine lakes, still with some surrounding snow and snow-clad mountains, contributed to the scenic ambience.

Yellowstone Cliffs


Yellowstone Cliffs


Windy Gap View


Windy Gap flowered meadows


Top of Windy Gap looking eastward


Natural Bridge. Below, Lake James is to the right and Lake Ethyl to the left.


Yes, I also did the side trip to see Natural Bridge, which was cool, but a bit of a grunt to get to. Descending about 1300 ft, I arrived at Lake James camp. After setting the tent up and having my celebratory brandy and cigar, I realized that the flies and mosquitos were to intense to enjoy a cooked meal, so settled for a Snicker bar and granola bars. It worked.

Lake James camp


Lake James


The next morning was more descent, about 1400 ft more, to the west fork of the White River. The trail passed by a small burn area before reaching the river.

Burn area, down from Lake James


Upon reaching the White River, I saw rock cairns where the park service suggested doing a crossing of the river. It appeared very unsafe to pass and so I spent about an hour going up and down stream, looking for more safe areas to cross. The particularly warm weather tended to fill the stream and the water was both deep and very rapid moving. I know that others had been able to cross, but being alone and unsure about the crossing decided not to take my chances. On returning from the hike, I checked out other WTA trip reports, and noted that the crossing in the past week was described as perilously risky, or the “most frightening experience”, which to me means it should not have been crossed by those people. I won’t be surprised if I hear of an accident or death of somebody attempting to cross the river there. The park service really needs to offer a substantive warning to those attempting the Northern Loop. I decided to head back. It was a 2.2 mile descent from Lake James to the West Fork of the White River, so I calculated about 18 miles to hike out. I had completed about half of the loop, and except for a couple miles, had hiked the rest of the loop at various times before, so considered my trip a success. I was a bit tired and sore on reaching the car, and my 27 lb pack felt like it had just doubled its weight, causing me to re-weigh it when I got home to confirm that the boogie man did not sneak some stones in my pack on the hike out.

Attempt at the Timberline Trail, Mt. Hood

September 6th, 2017


Timberline Trail, 17-18AUG2017
I had backpacked the Timberline Trail twice already, once about 40 years ago with Jack Frane, and the other about 20 years ago with Kent Dawson. The trail had been closed for a number of years because a wash-out on the northeast side of the mountain, but this year, the trail was reopened completely. I decided to do the trail in two nights with Russ Anderson. The trail is roughly 40 miles length, so we anticipated camping on the NW and SE sides of the mountain, leaving a long but not challenging second day.
We arrived at Timberline Lodge at about 11 am, and after signing in and making necessary preparations, we took off. I remembered most of the trail, though it had a changing face to it. What was most peculiar was that there was more difficulty crossing some of the streams than I remember in times past. The Sandy River was particularly challenging to get across, and only a small log over a very active rushing stream was noted. We started going clockwise, and the west side of the mountain is noted for a series of deep canyons, the first being Zigzag canyon and the second the Sandy River canyon. The trail did an excellent job of following elevation contours so that there was no extreme ups and downs.

Russ ready to go hiking


Mt. Jefferson off in the horizon


 

Mt Hood from Zigzag Canyon


 

More views of Mt. Hood from Zigzag Canyon


 

The intrepid Russ Anderson in excellent style


 

View from the Sandy River area

 

Ramona Falls


We arrived at Ramona Falls, making quite good time, as it was about 16:30 and we had already hiked 10.5 miles. I had some left knee pain from prior hikes, so was wearing a support brace for the hike. The knee started to hurt more, not when walking, but when stopped. Since the campsites for Ramona Falls were quite full, we went a little over a mile further to other campsites on the trail. At that time, my left knee started to become truly painful. After dinner, Russ and I both hit the sack, and slept soundly. The left knee was now quite swollen, and exceedingly painful. After much painful deliberation, we decided to bail out. Rather than retrace our tracks, we decided to take an access trail to Lolo Pass, and then hitch back to the car. It was about 5-7 miles out, which went smoothly. After arriving at the parking lot to the access trail, we were able to hitchhike back to Zigzag, where Russ further rode back to Timberline Lodge to get his truck.
I saw a sports orthopedist a week later, who identified a small stress avulsion fracture of the lateral knee, which requires me to take it easy for about 6 weeks. I find that bicycling gives me a small amount of pain, but can at least let me get some exercise in. Sadly, a combination of the knee injury and forest fires is keeping me off of the trail. It will probably have to wait for next year to formally complete the Timberline Trail.
 

Palisades Lakes Trail

August 8th, 2017


I am busy completing all of the hikes found in the Mountaineers “50 Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park” 1988 edition. After today, I have only 3 hikes left to have essentially done them all. It is a pity I waited so long to do this hike. The view above is the upper Palisades Lake, which is at the end of the maintained trail. The wildflowers were out in this bloom. It was sunny. For the photographer, the only real problem was the haze from forest fires in Canada. The temperature was perfect, and the trail was immaculately maintained. Except for the trail to the first lake (Sunrise Lake), I took all the side trails to trips around the lakes that I passed. The first was Sunrise Lake, seen from the Sunrise Lookout. I’ve seen this lake in the past, thinking that it was impossibly far down, but actually is a very pleasant hike to get to.

Lupine and Indian Paintbrush dominate the floor of the forests.


Flowers along the trail


There were a number of large and expansive meadows bordered by the rock cliffs of the Palisades


Clover Lake was the second lake on the trail.


I passed Clover Lake, and then Pete Lake, which had a campsite. There was also Tom and Harry Lake which I could not find. I hiked on to the Upper Palisades Lake, going a little beyond to see an overlook of the Lower Palisades Lake, reached by a primitive unsupported trail. On return, there was a short grunt up to Hidden Lake, which is a gem very worth the effort to get there.

Hidden Lake


View from the Hidden Lake trail. On the horizon is a flat spot, which is the Sunrise Lookout, the start of the trail.


More flowers, with Pete Lake sticking out


The Garmin data is slightly skewed in that I forgot to turn it off until I got several miles down the road. In reality, it was about 7.5 – 8.2 miles hiking, with 2250 feet elevation gain (approximately). This is just slightly different than the guidebook suggests.

All in all, it was a marvelous hike, and I felt great the entire time. About the last two miles, my left knee started to hurt quite seriously again. I thought that it was healed, but it wasn’t. This made each step dreadfully painful, and slowed me way down. I might have to postpone some hiking trips planned in the next few weeks, and do some cycle touring instead. Bicycling is VERY easy on my knees. We’ll see.

Eagle Peak Saddle

August 6th, 2017


Eagle Peak Saddle (in Mt. Rainier National Park)
Jon and I hiked the Eagle Peak trail on 29JUL. The day before, I did the Shriner Peak trail. I was a little sore, but really felt good. Running up the trail wasn’t too problematic, in spite of the fact that it was a persistent climb at a fairly rapid rate.

Coming down ended up just a little too abusive to my knees and I ended up with a horrific pain in my left knee which took several days to resolve.
The weather was gorgeous, and we were able to complete the hike before the heat of the day. Here are a few of the photos from the hike.

Going up the trail, near the top


Jon in excellent form


The beauty of the Tatoosh Range in Mt. Rainier National Park


Jon at the saddle

Shriner Peak

July 28th, 2017


Shriner Peak is in the Ohanepecosh region of Mt. Rainier National Park, and is a trail that goes from the road straight up for over 3000 feet to achieve one of the many fire lookout posts in the park, the others that I have visited include Tolmie Peak and Fremont Peak. This hike is far more isolated and strenuous than the other two. Like every good park hike, you are greeted with information at the beginning of your hike.

The weather was absolutely spectacular, making it a little hot in the areas outside of the evergreen canopy that covers the trail. It was about 2.5 hours to get to the top, and 1.5 hours to get down. Here is the Garmin data…

Here is a series of views from going up and at the top… click on the photos for a larger view…

Nearing the summit of Shriner Peak. This is seen from attaining the false summit.


Fire lookout on the top of Shriner Peak


This trail heads off to a camping area at the summit of Shriner Peak


Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams from the summit of Shriner Peak


Looking down from the summit.


Meanwhile, I had an interesting event going up. I saw this lady with 3 dogs ahead of me, none of them on leashes. She was hiking fairly quickly, but then turned around about ½ way up. When she arrived back to where I was going up, I informed her that dogs were NOT allowed on the trail, and especially dogs off of leash. I suggested that she leash up her dogs and get off the trail quickly, since there is a fairly hefty fine for violating the dog park ordinance. She immediately became very offended, insisted that she will NOT leash up the dogs since I didn’t speak to her as kindly as she would have wished, and proceeded on her way. She did note that she did not see any signs restricting dogs on the trail. Here is her photo, as well as two VERY clearly seen signs at the trailhead.

Dog herder on Shriner Trail




The park service is kind enough that even if you flunk out of 1st grade, they provide pictograms to inform you not to bring dogs on the trail. There are VERY good reasons for this regulation. That she was offended by me informing her of this regulation suggests that perhaps she attended some feminist assertive behavior class, that taught her NEVER to take instructions from the male gender of the species. It is exactly clueless folk like this that populate the city of Seattle and lead to the insanity that makes me want to stay as far from that city as possible. Sadly, they have to occasionally locate their presence to the wilderness and perform offensive acts in that location. Hopefully, a park ranger catches her someday and gives her a nasty fine for her belligerent behaviors.
In spite of the encounter with the emotionally unstable SJW, the day was gorgeous, with a small scattering of other wonderful people on the trail. This is a great alternative to running up Mt. Si or Mailbox Peak. I now have a countdown of 5 more hikes to do to complete all 50 listed hikes in the Mountaineers guidebook. Several of these can be performed 2 or 3 in a day, but one (The Northern Loop) will demand a 3 day venture to complete.
 

WTA Pratt River Trail Work Party

July 23rd, 2017


Washington Trails Association Pratt River Trail Work Party 20-22(23)JULY
I do a modest amount of backpacking, and have occasionally encountered trails that were not in the best of shape. I had no idea who cared for the trails, thinking that the forest service did everything. Slowly, I realized how much trail care is actually performed by volunteers. In 2009 in Oregon, I took a 3 day trail design, construction and maintenance course (see http://feuchtblog.net/2009/06/08/4-7jun-trail-skills-college-dee/).  I don’t remember who put it on, but it was a blast. Now that I’m into semi-retirement, I decided to actually do some trail work, and the Washington Trails Association (WTA) provided the perfect opportunity. The Pratt River Trail is within the newly expanded Alpine Lakes Wilderness, one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. There was considerable blow-down of trees from the past few winters and so the forest service requested the WTA to help clean out the timber fallen across the trail. Even though I took the trails skills “college”, I was totally clueless as to what this would actually represent. I e-mailed the WTA about issues, such as if we were going to get really dirty, and they suggested not. Actually, trail work means getting down in the dirt, which means that you will quickly become quite filthy. I wasn’t quite as prepared as I should have been for personal hygiene. True, I had my tooth brush, but then, I wasn’t getting my teeth (literally) into the action. My anxiety led me to arrival at the trailhead meeting point early, and was the first person there besides LeeAnn. The entire party ended up being eight people, with two no-shows. I was the only novice in the group, and truly clueless about what we were about to do.
The party was small enough that it was easy to get to know everybody, but several people stood out. The first was Jim. He was the old geezer of the group, but a true gentleman, and the most knowledgeable of the bunch. Whenever there was a question about a complex or dangerous log clearance issue, Jim was the go-to person, and had actually trained a few of the folk in the party. The work was split up into two sawing groups of 3 people, and two others that assisted and cleared brush. I worked with Rich and Jim, and what a treat it was. Jim was an incredible teacher and a real trooper, while Rich was most patient with me being clueless about running the saws or moving logs.

Jim


Rich and LeeAnne. During a break from work, we walked up to a side trail, leading to a giant Douglas Fir tree just off the trail (sort of)


As you can see, we all had to wear hard hats and gloves. The hard hats didn’t make sense to me, because there was no means of securing the hat to your head, and it was constantly falling off, sometimes when you most wished that it would stay on. LeeAnne was the group leader, and she was a real trooper, really fun to have with. Don was another fairly experienced trail worker in the group, who I enjoyed interacting with. Actually, I really enjoyed everybody, including Monty, Dave, and Emily, though I didn’t get the best photos of them.

Don, loaded to take off


The time transpired as follows. We all met at 8:30, and had an introductory safety session at 9:00. About 9:30, we took off on the trail, walking about 3 miles to a campsite at the point where the Pratt River drains into the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River. We set up our tents, prepared a lunch and water for our day sacks, and then took off to start clearing trail. I didn’t count, but with Jim and Rich, our first day involved clearing about 5-8 trees. Some demanded a moderate strategy and multiple cuts in order to safely remove the tree from the trail. Unlike standing trees, the fallen timber may be under considerable tension with bending, shearing and forces of torsion, which could lead to highly dangerous situations if one were not adequately prepared. Jim taught me much about the safest way to attack a log. After cutting a large log, one still had to move it from the trail. Somehow, we were able to move even enormous logs off the trail by sitting on our butts and pushing the logs with our legs out of the way. Some logs were quite complex to remove, and one situation was a cluster of three logs piled on top of each other, all 2-3 feet in diameter, and all under considerable tension. When fallen logs are under tension, one cannot just saw through the log, because as soon as the saw achieves some depth into the wood, the timber starts to close in on the saw, causing it to jamb. In such a situation, three to five cuts need to be made through the timber, with the space between hacked out with an axe. This means that a large log could take ½ a day just to make a single cut entirely through the log. Here is an example of that occurring on the complex log cluster, with one log already cleared.

Jim supervising, with Don and Rich working the 6 foot crosscut saw. Monty stands off in the distance.


The first day was a bit drizzly, and we were very wet walking through intense underbrush covering the trail. It dried out by afternoon, and the next few days were sunny. We were under a dense forest canopy, and so I didn’t need sunglasses or suntan lotion. The work was intense enough that by afternoon, we would be through several liters of water, and the first order of business on returning to camp was to purify more water from the river.
On the third day, Jim was not feeling well at the end of the day, and after some deliberation, decided that he needed to return home a day early. LeeAnne needed to accompany him out for his safety, but was worried enough about Jim, that she asked me to go with, being that I was a doctor and would have a clue if Jim took a turn for the worse. Carrying some of Jim’s belongings, we got him out safely, and I followed him to North Bend, stopping at a McDonalds to get him some root beer, which seemed to pink up his color considerably.  I felt bad leaving the work crew a ½ day early, and hope that the remainder of the crew all got out safely.

Thoughts on the adventure

  1. My opinion of the WTA skyrocketed. They are not just a lame tree-hugging society, but they really care about people, about trails, and about nature.  I had no clue as to how hard it was to clear a trail, as to how much was performed by volunteers, and as to how dedicated many of these volunteers were, some doing 10 or more work projects per year. It makes my adventure look rather trite.
  2. I know that I need to do more of these, and will try to encourage others to get involved at least one a year on a work party. Anybody that enjoys trails should at least once in a while get out and help with the WTA mission, or with Oregon Trailkeepers and other groups that do this sort of work.
  3. I will be MUCH more prepared next time. I don’t need to bring my ultra-light equipment, but instead have my more durable backpack equipment. Three to seven miles is not too far to walk with a 40-50 lb pack, and a few creature comforts would have helped. My ultralight air mattress had a seam tear out, which meant that there ended being a large bulge in my air mattress making it very uncomfortable to sleep the second night. I will bring a more durable air mattress next time. I will also try to develop a little better first aid kit for the types of problems that might happen on a trail. That might add a pound of weight, but should be tolerable. I’ll possibly also take a refresher course in advanced wilderness life support, offered by the Wilderness Medical Society.
  4. I continue to develop thoughts on the concept of “wilderness”. Perhaps certain rules are a touch crazy, like forbidding trail workers to use mechanized machinery (chain saws, etc.) to maintain existing trails. I wonder how many tree huggers are secretly appreciate the dynamite used to create the Kendall Katwalk, or the Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River gorge. I will probably write more on this later, devoting a single blog to my random thoughts on this issue.
  5. I will NEVER again hike a trail without realizing the blood, sweat, and tears that it took to build and maintain that trail. To that I end with my blog with a word of appreciation to all the trail societies (like the WTA, PTCA, Rainier volunteers) that keep up our parks and mountain playgrounds. To the WTA, I might add, sicherlich auf wiedersehen, certainement à bientôt, surely I’ll be seeing you again on a work party.

 
 

Two Hikes in Mt. Rainier National Park

July 14th, 2017


A week ago, Betsy and I took a hike up the Carbon River in Mt. Rainier National Park. The road up the Carbon river was washed out many years ago, and so the park service how keep the road open only for service vehicles, as well as for bicyclists and hikers. It is about 6 miles from the park entrance to the Ipsut Creek campground, where the road ends, and the foot trails begin. It is an absolutely beautiful hike. Here is our Garmin data…


Yesterday, on 13JUL, I took a hike up a trail on the NE side of Mt. Rainier NP, leading to the Crystal Lakes, and then up to a saddle to provide access to the Pacific Crest Trail. The weather was mostly cloudy, but when the clouds disappeared, the view was overwhelming. The above photo is a view of the mountain, with Upper Crystal Lake in the foreground, and below is a view a bit higher up. Here is my Garmin data…


My goal is to finish all of the hikes listed in the book “50 Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park” by Ira Spring and Harvey Manning. I have only 6 more hikes to go. Several I will be doing with Betsy in the next few weeks. Will keep you all posted. When you have the most beautiful park in the world in your back yard, it’s hard not to visit it from time to time. Last Tuesday 11JUL, I also rode my bicycle from Ashford up to Paradise and back. The weather was perfect, it was cool, and most beautiful, but I did not bring my camera. Here is the Garmin data on that…

Rampart Ridge-Mt. Rainier

September 3rd, 2016

IMG_0863
Rampart Ridge on Mt. Rainier up to vanTrump Park 03SEPT2016
Jonny and I did this hike today with the cooler weather. The mid-mountain remained engulfed in clouds throughout the day, so that most of our hiking was done in mist. Though I would have loved the grand views of the mountain that can be seen on this set of trails, there was a different spectacular beauty to be seen, including looking through the mist to see a very large herd of mountain goats on the ridge adjacent to the one we were ascending.
This trail rarely was ever flat, most of it being either fairly steep climbing or descending. The route started at Longmire, and the trail quickly ascending from Longmire up to Rampart Ridge. The trail then followed the ridge, most the time ascending until a lookout is reached overlooking Longmire. From there, the trail either descends or is flat until the Wonderland Trail is achieved at 3 miles. After descending 0.2 miles on the Wonderland Trail, it again takes off on a fairly steep ascent up the ridge to VanTrump Park. You can see the herd of goats above that we saw in VanTrump Park. We continued on for a distance further on an unmaintained trail further up the ridge, but realized that we would not get out of the clouds until we moved onto glacier, not a smart idea. The descent went much quicker than the ascension. We were freezing at the top of VanTrump Park, so were glad to get down to warmer climate. Everything was quite wet, and there was extensive plant life growing over the trail making our shoes and pants soaking wet. It was also tricky, since there were abundant tree roots on the trail, and one knows how slippery they could be. By the time we got most of the way down, we encountered the hoi polloi struggling up the trail, most hoping to achieve a fraction of the distance that we accomplish, and sadly missing the spectacular views that we were able to see.

Jon fresh in eager to hike mode

Jon fresh in eager to hike mode


Blode Ziegen in die Wolken

Another view of VanTrump Park looking up toward the mountain.


Jon having lunch at the summit of our excursion

Jon having lunch at the summit of our excursion


VanTrump Park. Looked for Trump but he wasn't there...he was in Detroit

VanTrump Park. Looked for Trump but he wasn’t there…he was in Detroit.You can see the blöde Ziegen in the distance in die Wolken.


Nisqually River view from Longmire viewpoint on Rampart Ridge. It was not be possible to see this at the start of our hike since the valley was engulfed in clouds.

Nisqually River view from Longmire viewpoint on Rampart Ridge. It was not be possible to see this at the start of our hike since the valley was engulfed in clouds.

White Pass to Crystal

August 24th, 2016

IMG_0846
White Pass to Crystal Mountain on the PCT, 21-23AUG2016
The last trip report had Pete, Russ and I going from Waptus Lake to White Pass. This is now a continuation with just Russ and I from White Pass to Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. It was also two nights, and along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Both Russ and I are now packing a bit lighter, and a bit wiser. To coordinate matters, I dropped my car off at Crystal Mountain, and then Kim Andersen drove us to White Pass and left us to our own devices. The start of the trail was a touch obscure, but we were soon on our way. The first day had beautiful weather with a few scattered clouds, but cool, and no bugs. There was much up and down along the trail, but with lighter packs, we seemed to handle it quite well. We passed multiple lakes, and what I thought would be somewhat monotonous scenery (the long green tunnel) was everything but that. We finally set up camp at Snow Lake.

Day 2, we traversed from Snow Lake to Dewey Lake. It was cloudy the entire day, and most the time, we were hiking in the clouds. We would have had views of Mt. Rainier, which were clouded out today. The scenery persisted in being totally spectacular, and much of the trail actually went through Mt. Rainier National Park. During this hike, I am still experimenting with my Garmin eTrex 30t, and was informed at the end of the day that the battery ran out. Thus, I do not have a complete record. We hiked between 16-17 miles, and climbed about 3000 feet.

Wolkenbergwanderung

Wolkenbergwanderung


Russ waking up at Snow Lake and disorganizing his stuff.

Russ waking up at Snow Lake and disorganizing his stuff.


A hike in the clouds

A hike in the clouds


Russ chilling out at Dewey Lake

Russ chilling out at Dewey Lake


Day 3, we got a little later start of 7:30, and started immediately with a climb up to highway 410 (Chinook Pass). On the way, we encountered Smiles, and then two girls, Old School and Mama Goose, all thru-hikers from Campo. All were putting in 25-30 mile days, carrying packs under 25 lb, and looking as fresh as the first day on the trail. I’m deeply jealous. Maybe 2018? Past Hwy 410, we had another 1800 ft of climbing, reaching Sheep Lake and then Sourdough gap. At Sourdough gap, Russ took off like a jack rabbit chasing the bunnies, and then took a trail off of the PCT, perhaps thinking it was a short cut to Crystal. Fortunately, I caught him quickly enough to correct our course. We continued on the Bear Gap, where there were several trails that took us back to our car. The Crystal Mountain portion of the hike was a little less enjoyable. We stopped at Wallys on the way home, where Russ was able to experience the Waltimate Burger.

Looking down on Dewey Lake

Looking down on Dewey Lake


Heading toward Hwy 410

Heading toward Hwy 410


The never-ending trail

The never-ending trail


From Sourdough Gap, looking back on Sheep Lake with Mt. Adams in the distance.

From Sourdough Gap, looking back on Sheep Lake with Mt. Adams and Goat Rocks in the distance.


From these two hikes, Russ and I both learned the value of going lighter. We were able to talk to many of the thru-hikers and glean knowledge from them as to the methods of their journeys. The common theme was to go lighter, from the pack, to the food you carry, your tent and sleeping accommodations, to your clothes and food. I remain puzzled how many thru-hikers carried cell phones, and yet kept them charged. I saw only a few carrying solar chargers on their packs.
I’ve used the Halfmile maps, and they were extremely helpful in planning the route, and finding your way once on the journey. I was using two year old maps, and the mile markers for this years maps are slightly different by 10 miles. I never needed the Garmin to determine my location, though I’m sure it might help in the Sierras where the route isn’t as clear.
The first hike this year was into Rachel Lake with Peter Tate, and I forgot to bring my trekking poles. It was a totally miserable hike, and I was unstable, falling a lot, and unsure in any sort of tricking footing, like stream crossing. These last two hikes were now with my hiking poles, and what a difference they make. You can hike faster because you can easily catch yourself when you become unsteady. You can lessen the impact when descending. Stream crossing is still slow, but far less unsure. I will never forget my hiking poles again!

Goat Rocks Backpacking

August 13th, 2016

IMG_0807Goat Rocks 10-12AUG 2016

Russ and Pete gearing up for the hike

Russ and Pete gearing up for the hike


We initially planned for a hike from the Suiattle River to Holden, but were informed that the town of Holden was shut down from prior forest fires. After much adjusting we opted for the Goat Rocks Hike. I had apportioned 5 days so that we would not feel stressed about getting back home. We ended up needing only three days. Using two cars with one parked at White Pass and the other at our starting point at Walupt Lake, we were able to start and end our hike by our own conveyance. We left home at 7:30 am on 10AUG and arrived finally at the trailhead in time to start our hike about 11:30. We went up the Nanny Ridge Trail, which was about 2000 ft of immediate climbing until we got to Sheep Lake. We then were on the PCT, and had a little easier elevation profile. Though the trail was designed for horses, it still was a considerable amount of scrambling. The first pass was Cispus Pass, where we were able to meet some through hikers, which included Georgia Boy, who was on the last leg of completing the Triple Crown (Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail). We dumped a bunch of our food on him, and he graciously got a photograph of all of us together.
The Three Musketeers on Cispus Pass

The Three Musketeers on Cispus Pass


Russ, Georgia Boy, and Pete on Cispus Pass

Russ, Georgia Boy, and Pete on Cispus Pass


Georgia Boy took off at almost twice the speed we were going, with less than ½ the weight on his back. It was a sudden realization that we were WAY overloaded with stuff, and started looking at that time for any and every thru-hiker who was starving and needed food. Over the Pass, we found ourselves in a verdant meadow with clean mountain streams and sore bones. It was then that we decided to set up camp, about a mile from our original destination of Snowgrass Flats.
My tent on our first night, with Pete and Russ's tent off in the distance

My tent on our first night, with Pete and Russ’s tent off in the distance


Looking up from our tents

Looking up from our tents


Waking up is hard to do for Russ and Pete

Waking up is hard to do for Russ and Pete



There were a few clouds in the sky which cleared overnight, and we had perfect weather for our walk the next day. The sunrise left a bright glow on Mt. St. Helens, which unfortunately could not be picked up well with my camera. We were at Snowgrass Flats in about an hour, and then slowly wound our way up the side of Old Snowy toward the knife-edge. Looking down, we could see herds of mountain goats, and also a herd of elk. They were a touch too far away to photograph, so left them in our memory. The knife-edge is a 5 mile or more walk along a ridge radiating out from Old Snowy. There was a sheer cliff on each side, which wasn’t terribly dangerous, but demanded your constant attention. One could not be a Hans-Guck-in-die-Luft character. We finally dropped down into McCall Basin, and were greeted by huge fields of alpine flowers in full bloom. What a glorious site.
A view of Mt Adams from Snowgrass Flats

A view of Mt Adams from Snowgrass Flats


A view of Mt. Rainier from above Snowgrass Flats

A view of Mt. Rainier from above Snowgrass Flats


Goat Rocks with Old Snowy on the right. Our went to near the summit of Old Snowy, and then down the knife-edge.

Goat Rocks with Old Snowy on the right. Our went to near the summit of Old Snowy, and then down the knife-edge.


Looking down the valley to Packwood Lake from high on Old Snowy

Looking down the valley to Packwood Lake from high on Old Snowy


Pete ready to start the knife-edge

Pete ready to start the knife-edge


Looking back from the knife-edge on Old Snowy

Looking back from the knife-edge on Old Snowy


A well needed break by a mountain stream in McCall Basin

A well needed break by a mountain stream in McCall Basin


Lupine and Indian Paintbrush were quite prolific

Lupine and Indian Paintbrush were quite prolific



Our resting place that evening was at Tieton Pass, which really didn’t seem like a pass, though it was. At this point, we were greeted by multiple hikers, including a couple going from southern Oregon to Canada, another Mike and Teresa who was doing almost the same hike as us, and who will be later encountered. Our most cherished encounter was with the Brit Family Robinson III, a family from Northern England with a 12 yo daughter and 10 yo son, who had survived the entire journey from Campo (Mexican Border) to here. We gave them a bunch of food which they were quite eager to take, making our packs lighter. The family chronicles might be found here.  https://reallylongwalk.wordpress.com  with Josie and Jack, the Brit Family Robinson III. I dearly hope we might meet them again once they finish their journey. They left us a nice note on our car which we found at the end of our trip.
Scan
We also met Catwater and Sliderule, an elderly couple who hiked the PCT NoBo last year, and now doing it SoBo this year.
Friday am, we were up at 5:15 and on the trail by 7 am. We had no major passes to cross, but needed to cross a ridge which led us to above Shoe Lake. We could have gone to Shoe Lake, but I was concerned about adding elevation and mileage to our hike, which we learned later would not have happened. Dommage! Past Shoe Lake, the trail was nearly uniformly downhill though quite gradual in its descent. It still was hard on the feet, and it seemed like it was easier to go up than to go down. Also, I had run out of water, and there were no good water sources along the trail from Tieton Pass until we were near the end of our hike. I was totally dehydrated once reaching White Pass. Our friends Mike and Teresa had arrived before me, and we had arranged to give them a lift back to their car at Walupt Lake.

On top of our last major ridge climb

On top of our last major ridge climb


Looking down on Shoe Lake

Looking down on Shoe Lake


Looking back at the Goat Rocks

Looking back at the Goat Rocks


A forward look from high up

A forward look from high up


The very well known to PCT thru-hikers Kracker Barrel store - also our destiny.

The very well known to PCT thru-hikers Kracker Barrel store – also our destiny.


Russ arrives at White Pass

Russ arrives at White Pass


Pete arrives at White Pass

Pete arrives at White Pass


 
Lessons that we learned from the hike…

  1. We must go MUCH lighter. That even goes for me, who had the lightest pack.
  2. The Garmin was phenomenal at recording our tracks, and showed very little sign of battery usage, with lithium ion batteries.  I’ll use it again. It incorrectly calculated caloric output, but was a little too truthful about our snail pace on the trail. Plus, we now know exactly where we were.
  3. My shoes wore out. On inspecting the shoes after the hike, there were cracks where I had gotten blisters. I had hoped that they would last forever. I must now explore other hiking shoes.
  4. We need to all be individually prepared. Organizing for three old farts just doesn’t work, as we all want something different for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and have different ideas on how backpacking should take place.
  5. We MUST hike on. The more you do, the more comfortable it is. It is now time to take a year off and do the PCT. I’m not sure I’ll persuade Russ, Pete, or my wife, but it’s worth a try. I still like bicycling, and wish to do some epic rides in the next few years.

To all the wonderful people we met on the trail, may your journeys continue on in safety and comfort.
 
 

Rachel Lake with Peter T

July 14th, 2016

IMG_0657
Rachel Lake with Peter Tate
Peter and I had decided on doing this trip together for the last six months or more. He was going to bring along a friend, and I had hoped to bring Andrew and several grandchildren. In stead, it turned out to be me Peter, Karma, her son, and me. Peter and Karma showed up at our place in Puyallup on 07JUL, and early 08JUL we headed out for the trailhead. We met Karma’s son at the I-90 turnoff, and then proceeded to the trailhead. At this point, I discovered that I had forgotten one of my most important hiking device, my hiking poles. It would prove to me somewhat harmful to me. At least we had food, sufficient clothing and warmth to survive. Karma’s son also had his dog with him, another source of great entertainment on the trail.

Start of the trail

Start of the trail


Bee sting spot. Rachel was stung by a bee here many years before

Bee sting spot. Rachel was stung by a bee here many years before


My tent at Rachel Lake

My tent at Rachel Lake


Peter and Karma's tent at Rachel Lake

Peter and Karma’s tent at Rachel Lake


The hike from the trailhead was four miles, and only a mild climb at first, though occasionally having to hike around many downed trees. The weather was soggy, though we most had heavy rain the first night. We originally intended to ascend up to the Ramparts, but decided against that on reaching Rachel Lake. After finding a choice campsite, tents went up, and we settled in. That night was a very heavy rain, but we all stayed dry in our tents. There were still spots of snow at Rachel Lake, and much more as we ascended to Lila Lakes and the Ramparts. The next day, we did a hike up to and around the Rampart Lakes. After that, we went over to Lila Lakes, a place I’ve never been to before, though I’ve been to the Ramparts many times. Lila Lakes was most spectacular with Box Peak rising up out of the lake. From a viewpoint, only could see the whole of Box Canyon, and the ledge where Rachel Lake was sitting. I regret never having camped at Lila Lakes, and will return.
On the trail up to the Ramparts

On the trail up to the Ramparts


Peter at the Ramparts

Peter at the Ramparts


Lila Lakes with Box Mountain in the background

Lila Lakes with Box Mountain in the background


Lila Lakes

Lila Lakes


Lila Lakes

Lila Lakes


The second night had minimal to no rain. We woke up fairly early, made tea and coffee, and headed out. The trail down was prohibitively slippery, since it was over slick rock (when wet) and tree roots, which are always slippery when wet. I came out quite bruised. There was minimal breaks in the clouds, but at least it wasn’t cold and rainy. All in all, it was another great time with Peter.

Two more PCT books

November 29th, 2015

BergerPCT
The Pacific Crest Trail: A Hiker’s Companion, by Karen Berger and Daniel R. Smith ★★★★
I had previously read and reviewed Berger’s book on hiking the triple crown. She is trained as a classical pianist, but has written numerous hiking and scuba diving books. This is an updated text, with the help of Dan Smith, of a previous edition that she authored. Rather than offering strategies for hiking the trail, this is a book offering more descriptive aspects of the trail itself. She goes section by section, starting in Campo and ending in Manning, BC, describing the trail, the wildlife, plants, geology and other items of interest. She gives suggestions on sites to see, where to do layovers, problems that one might expect, as well as short hikes in each section for the week-end PCT’er. She writes well, and this book was quite an easy read, yet giving solid advice about the trail. Since I am quite familiar with many segments of the Oregon/Washington trail, she seemed to be right on about her descriptions. She’s honest about telling one about the great as well as horrible segments of the trail, giving advice on how to deal with that. I liked her writing style. Though the subtitle suggests that this is a book that one would bring with them, that would not be a good idea at all. Read it before, know its contents, and then bring your maps as the accompaniment.
JardinePCT
The Pacific Crest Trail Hiker’s Handbook, by Ray Jardine ★★★★★
For those in the know, Ray Jardine is the godfather of ultralight backpacking. At first I thought it to be a foolhardy and dangerous way to manage a backpacking trip. Since reading many books on ultralight backpacking, I am now realizing that it is the smart way to go for long-distance hiking, though with a few exceptions. Jardine writes well, and he reads well. He started life professionally as an aeronautical engineer, but is quite experienced with the outdoors, being into rock climbing, having hiked the entire PCT both north ways and south ways multiple times, and having taught for many years as an Outward Bound instructor. This book was an invaluable read, offering page after page of sage advice. Ray tends to be a little bit nutty in spots. His methods of hygiene, especially in restaurants, is rather strange. His dietary habits are peculiar, especially with his love for corn pasta. (Yes, I will try corn pasta on my next pack trip, but fail to find it physiologically superior to other forms of nutrition). Oftentimes, Ray offers advice that he doesn’t follow, but he will usually give you an explanation as to why he is different. Toward the end of the book, there is invaluable advice on how to strategize your PCT hike in both a south and northbound direction. Sadly, his advice on PCT planning is not reproduced in his subsequent publications, and this text, written in 1992 and updated in 1996 is somewhat outdated. I wish he would update his PCT specific book. Other bits of advice need to be taken as advice only. For example, I do agree that the lightest shoes possible are imperative, yet, my Vasque hiking books are the only backpacking shoes I’ve ever been able to wear and not get blisters. I recently tried some trail running shoes for a backpack trip that was quite short and flat, and was cripple up with foot (arch) pain for weeks afterwards, though I never got blisters. He advises sewing your own backpack, sleeping quilt and some clothing, which I will have to pass on. As an older hiker, some attention to sleeping comfort is in order, which might add a few more ounces to the pack. Hopefully, I can keep my basic pack to under 12 lbs, rather than 8.5 lbs that Jardine shoots for. That 12 lb weight would still be an advantage to me. Of course, having somebody to hike with allows one to unload some stuff on the partner, like the tent or the stove and stove fuel, which seems to be the way to go. I appreciate Jardine’s stance against horses on the trail, which truly destroy any footpath, and remove the true wilderness experience for the adventurer. I disagree with Jardine regarding safety aspects for the trail, such as signage, and occasional shelters in high risk areas. I also have no issue with occasionally creating a trail with dynamite. I am quite sure that Jardine has enjoyed the Eagle Creek alternate to the PCT in northern Oregon, or the Kendall catwalk, both of which required a few sticks of dynamite to our betterment. Perhaps an explanation for my stance is that we are required to care for the earth, but that the earth was created for our enjoyment– it is an anthropocentric view of the universe, but which doesn’t give us license to pollute or destroy earth as we have. In all, this is one of the “must-reads” before attacking the PCT.
Of the three books that I’ve found most helpful, this, Berger’s, and Yogi’s handbooks, Yogi’s rates #1, with this in second place, good for its ultralight advice, but outdated regarding PCT planning advice. Berger’s is a close third.

Four Books on the PCT and backpacking

November 2nd, 2015

After visiting Stehekin and seeing groups of thru-hikers on the last segment of the PCT, a long desire to some day hike the PCT has again resurrected itself. This may be problematic, in that a) I’ll need to find somebody to do it with, b) I’ll need to get Betsy’s support, c) I’ll need to find 5-6 months from April through September to take off to do this. Possible? Yes. Probable? I don’t know. I also wish to do some long-distance bicycling in the near future. There is a bicycle route (called the Sierra Cascades route) that roughly parallels the PCT, which I would do first, and have already talked my kid brother into doing it with me. After that, we’ll have to see if I still have the flame for grand adventures. Let me know if you are interested in joining me!
PCTGray
The Pacific Crest Trail, by William Gray with the National Geographic Society, published in 1975 ★★
This book was read by me mostly out of historical interest in the trail. It was written when the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) was still under development, and many sections of the trail had not been fully carved out. I believe that the entire trail happens to now be intact, and often different from where Gray hiked. From reading the book, it sounds like he did not do a “thru-hike”, that is, a solid hike from Mexico to Canada, but hiked in sections, mostly to glean photographs and stories for the National Geographic Society. He also engages about ¾ of the book in detailing character sketches of people he met on of the trail, or in proximity to the trail. Thus, it fails as a description of the PCT itself, but is typical of the writing and journalism that one would find with National Geographic Society publications. It’s cute to see that the people in the photos are all typical for 1970’s hippies.
Yogi'sPCT
Yogi’s Pacific Crest Trail Handbook 2016-2017, by Yogi (aka Jackie McDonnell) ★★★★★
This is the best book that I’ve read so far on the PCT, and is much a reference book (the entire last half of the book is intended to be torn out of the book to be taken with you on the hike) as it is a how-to book and book detailing what to expect on the trail. Yogi (her trail name) includes comments from other thru-hikers regarding how they did the PCT. Yogi covers diverse actions as to what to carry in your backpack, what to wear, how to do camp, how to plan, how to resupply, and how to stay out of trouble. Because she includes comments from other hikers, you realize that there will be no one set way to do the PCT. Most importantly, one learns what NOT to do, like overpack, under hydrate, or not be prepared. She writes well, and seems more connected than any of the other PCT advice books that I’ve seen. The reference section is absolutely invaluable, and is exactly what one needs to know. As an example, she has rough maps of the resupply towns, so that one doesn’t need to wander aimlessly to find where the local hotel, restaurant or grocery store might be located. Reading the book is almost like having Yogi actually there, giving you advice about how you might survive and succeed on your first thru-hike. Long-distance through-hiking has a completely different style than a 2-14 day backpacking trip, including what you eat, how you camp, and how you treat yourself. Yogi gives great advice on these differences, and how to have a comfortable and good time while doing that. Hopefully, I will meet Yogi on the PCT. She’s a real inspiration to get out there and just do it!
TrailTestedLichter
Trail Tested, A thru-hiker’s Guide to Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking, by Justin Lichter ★★★★
This book is very similar to a book I reviewed in 2013 by Andrew Skurka on ultralight backpacking. Similar to Skurka, Lichter is a “professional” hiker, i.e., he seems to spend more time hiking than working at a “job”, and has thru-hiked the Triple Crown (Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and PCT) with repeats of those listed, as well as other long distance hikes, foreign and domestic. Justin (Trail name “Trauma”) details style of thru-hiking, as well as offering equipment recommendations. Many of these recommendations seem to have a sponsor influence, but at least he lets you know that. The book is well written and well illustrated, with many personal anecdotes. I acquired it as a package deal from Yogi.
UltralightLichter
Ultralight Survival Kit, by Justin Lichter ★★★
This book repeated much of what was in the book Trail Tested. It is a small, short book on many of the problems and dangers one can encounter on the trail, and how to deal with them. Hopefully, one is moderately aware of everything in this book before they set out alone on the trail, as I’ve encountered many of the issues that this book brings up. If you own Trail Tested, this book is mildly superfluous. It was also part of the package deal from Yogi.

Wonderland Trail 2015

August 9th, 2015

WonderlandTrail2015-17
Wanderlust 2015
Ich hebe meine Augen auf zu den Bergen von welchen mir Hilfe kommt.
Meine Hilfe kommt von dem HERRN, der Himmel und Erde gemacht hat.
Er wird deinen Fuß nicht gleiten lassen; und der dich behütet schläft nicht.
Siehe, der Hüter Israels schläft noch schlummert nicht.
Der HERR behütet dich; der HERR ist dein Schatten über deiner rechten Hand, daß dich des Tages die Sonne nicht steche noch der Mond des Nachts.
Der HERR behüte dich vor allem Übel, er behüte deine Seele; der HERR behüte deinen Ausgang und Eingang von nun an bis in Ewigkeit.
Psalm 121

The lead photo is taken from Mirror Lake, in the Indian Henry Hunting Grounds region of Mt. Rainier
Jon and I did the Wonderland Trail about 9 years ago, and even then we discussed the possibility of doing the trail in the opposite (counter-clockwise) direction. For those who don’t know, the Wonderland Trail is a hiking trail that circumnavigates around the timberline of Mt. Rainier. It is 93 miles long, with additions that generally make for a 100 mile walk. A few people have run it in a day or two and some killjoys hike it in 4 days, but most will spend 7 – 14 days. A distinct aspect of the trail is that it is typically either going up or down, and rarely is flat, so that by the time one gets all the way around the mountain, they will have climbed at least 20,000 feet in elevation. The trail was built in 1915, and so this year was special in being the centennial year of the trail. The trail has changed much since 1915, and is constantly being revised, as weather and mountain dynamics do not leave for a totally stable walking surface. To do the trail, one must obtain camping permits in order to stay at the camping spots along the trail, and this year, they were particularly challenging to get, in that there were a record number of applicants, and 80% had to be turned down.
We felt blessed in that the weather was near perfect. A week before the trip, the weather was very soggy on the mountain, and the night after we came back, there was heavy rain. We experienced only a few drops on our tent the third night, and had intense fog on the 6th day, coming up the Cowlitz Divide to Indian Bar and over Panhandle Gap. The trail was in exceptionally good condition, with all bridges intact, and no major diversions. Our feet never got blistered, and we got home feeling quite good, with minimal soreness.
On such a long hike, daily routines are necessary. I would usually get up at sunrise (05:30) and Jon soon after. We’d have two cups of coffee and some breakfast bars for breakfast, get the tent down and the packs loaded, and were usually on the trail by 06:30 to 07:00. We would do lunch about 10:00-11:00 in the am, and finish hiking between 13:00 and 15:00. We would quickly set up the tent and unpack our sleeping bags to dry out, pump water for drinking and cook dinner. Several days were special, in that at Mystic Lake and Indian Henry’s, Jon and I took special time to enjoy cigars and wine, while bathing in the beauty around us. At Longmire and Sunrise, we were able to stop into the cafeteria to have real food, which meant a hamburger and Rainier beer at those locations.
One of the delights of such an adventure as this is in meeting people. Now, when you are many miles remote from any road or civilization, the number of people you meet are few and far between. On the Wonderland Trail, there are four types of folk that you encounter, which include…1) the day trip wanderers, many of whom have never set foot in the woods before, and typically found close to the main tourist access points, including Mowich, Sunrise, Paradise, and Longmire. These people tend to be unsociable. 2) Trail runners: these are super-skinny (cachectic) people doing a long distance point to point run, usually 35-50 miles, frequently female, getting picked up distant from where they started, 3) sectional hikers, usually people who are seasoned hikers on a limited time schedule, and 4) complete trail hikers. The complete trail hikers became easy to detect, some of them being on their first day, some on their last, and many in between. The in betweeners were often seen twice if they were going in the opposite direction from us. There were many solo hikers (often female), some quite old hikers (like a solo lady at age 70), and a few large groups. The one large group we saw had a person distinct as a girly-man (man in a Scottish kilt). There was a father-son team consisting of a mainland Chinese man with his 8-10 yo son, a 35-ish female with her 8 year old son, and a 40’ish female with her 20’s daughter, all of them successfully managing the trail. Among the complete trail hikers, there tends to be a fellowship, where you would often stop and chat for while, getting information on the trail, and the best campsites, water spots, etc. for where you were headed. You would concomitantly share advice with your fellow travelers.
The way in which you pack and what you wear on the trail make all the difference in the world. I remember my very first backpack trips as a kid, using backpacks and equipment from a local military surplus store, wearing waffle-stomper shoes, wool coats, and total disregard for weight. We also tended to return home miserable, sore, and with feet heavily blistered. Nowadays, I use an Osprey Atmos 65 pack (to limit how much I can put in), an Osprey hydration unit, summer Feathered Friends down sleeping bag and pillow, a small propane gas stove and titanium pot, high tech jacket and rain coat, and carry nothing that would be frivolous. My boots were Vasque leather boots, the same I used 9 years ago for the Wonderland, and once again, they held up well, with no blisters or foot problems. I did spend much time attending to my feet, using a sock liner underneath REI CoolMax socks, as well as applying an anti-friction ointment to the feet every morning. I used a egg-crate style foam mattress to sleep on, which was a mistake, as the ground was extremely uncomfortable, and will probably go with a Therma-Rest NeoAir pad for future ventures. We used the Big Agnes Copper Spur 3 which was just roomy enough for two people and light. I used REI UL hiking poles, which prevented any falls the whole trip, and was great security for crossing streams and treacherous ground, as well as protecting the knees up and downhill. Things I might do different would be that I would consider bringing a bear vault rather than worrying about hanging your food all the time, and consider bringing an iPad with a lightweight solar charger. I’m tempted to get a Garmin eTrex 35t to record my activities, like I do with bicycling adventures. I would also explore different foods, that would be lightweight, cheap, and efficient, and easy to make on the trail, with minimal dishwashing. Freeze dried foods are popular but not overwhelming filling or tasty. I’ll probably bring more cheese (heavy!!!!) and sausage. Pepperoni sticks oddly don’t last well, but Landjäger (German sort of pepperoni) does quite well in the woods, as well as summer sausage. I’d truly love to find how to bring sauerkraut on backpack trips, but would have to ask my German friends/relatives how well sauerkraut keeps in an unrefrigerated environment after being opened. Gummibären remains the best trail snack food, though Good-and-Plenty’s were easily devoured, slightly different than my impression on cycling trips. It’s odd how tastes differ so radically at home, on the trail, and on the bike.
Day to day events.
Day 1 – Mowich to Golden Lakes. This was a simple downhill, followed by a very long uphill. The campground was next to a beautiful lake where Jon went swimming. There was moderate anxiety still at this time as to the weather, and whether were still capable of a 9 day venture.
Day 2- Golden Lakes to South Puyallup River. Our permit stated that we were to go to Klapatchee Park, which is high up, and unusually beautiful. We were warned that there was no water at Klapatchee Park, so Jon and I both carried about 10 lb extra water up about 3000 ft climb from the North Puyallup River, only to find ourselves before noon at Klapatchee Park. Wishing tomorrow to be a shorter day, we took the risk of going on to the South Puyallup campsite, and stayed in the group camp site, only to be joined in pitch darkness by a solo lady hiker from New Zealand. There was plenty of room in the group site, and it was not problem for us.
Day 3- South Puyallup River to Devil’s Dream. This day took us up yet another very long climb to Emerald Ridge, and then around to the marvelously beautiful Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground. We had lunch, wine and cigars at Indian Henry’s, took a short side hike into Mirror Lakes, and then collected water at a lake on the way down to Devil’s Dream. The sky turned cloudy, and so for the first time, we put a fly on our tent, and got about 20 drops of rain that night. The clouds went away the next day.
Day 4 – Devil’s Dream to Paradise River. This was 11 miles but with minimal climbing, making it a very easy day, and wishing we had books along to read. We arrived at Longmire in order to pick up our first cache, had lunch at the Longmire Inn, and headed up to our campsite, which was unusually quiet, with us as the only occupants that night.
Day 5 – Paradise River to Nickel Creek. The was also 11 miles with minimal climbing, and thus quite simple. This took us over the entire south side of the mountain, following the road that goes along the south side of the mountain up to Paradise and then over to Ohanepecosh. There were numerous day hikers and kids on the way.
Day 6 – Nickel Creek to Summerland. This was a hard climb day, first ascending the Cowlitz Divide, running up the Cowlitz Divide to Indian Bar, and then going above the timberline to Panhandle Gap. It was cloudy all morning, and so there was minimal visibility, but very comfortable for a hard climb. The clouds parted at the Panhandle Gap, and we descended into Summerland in beautiful sunshine. During this section, we thought that our friends Russ and Pete would meet us on the trail, but never saw them at all.
Day 7 – Summerland to Sunrise. This was a long low-grade descent to the White River, and then on a trail paralleling the road to the White River campground. Approaching the White River, we saw a search and rescue team going up, thinking they might be going after Russ and Pete. There was a slightly treacherous crossing of the White River, followed by a long steep ascent from the campground to Sunrise. The mountain was spectacular, and we were able to pick up our last cache at Sunrise, as well as have another burger and beer. Being rather high up on the mountain, the night was chilly, with a slightly cold sleep.
Day 8 – Sunrise to Dick Creek. Our original plan was to stay at Mystic Lake, but I knew that the lake was beautiful, but the campsite was quite inconvenient, with a long distance from the lake, and no close sources of water. Dick Creek is a very small campsite, but overlooks the Carbon River Glacier and very beautiful, so, we changed. The hike was with perfect visibility of the mountain, and we were able to spend over an hour having lunch, wine, and cigars at Mystic Lake, while Jon took another swim in the lake. There was still a moderate amount of climbing before we descended onto the Dick Creek campsite.
Day 9 Dick Creek to Mowich. This was our last day, but with probably the second most amount of climbing, since we decided on the Spray Park alternate, which takes one from the Carbon River all the way up to the top of Spray Park, over 3500 ft of elevation gain for the venture. The day started out cloudless, and as we got to the high point of the trail, clouds started moving in, so that by the time we were down through Spray Park, the mountain could no longer be seen. We arrived back at the car completely intact and ready for another adventure.
To end (before the photos), I need to include my favorite wandering songs…
Wem Gott will rechte Gunst erweisen… with Heino.
Joseph von Eichendorff, 1788-1857
Wem Gott will rechte Gunst erweisen,
Den schickt er in die weite Welt,
Dem will er seine Wunder weisen
In Berg und Wald und Strom und Feld.
Die Trägen die zu Hause liegen,
Erquicket nicht das Morgenrot,
Sie wissen nur von Kinderwiegen,
Von Sorgen, Last und Not um Brot.
Die Bächlein von den Bergen springen,
Die Lerchen schwirren hoch vor Lust,
Was soll ich nicht mit ihnen singen
Aus voller Kehl und frischer Brust?
Den lieben Gott laß ich nun walten,
Der Bächlein, Lerchen, Wald und Feld
Und Erd und Himmel will erhalten,
Hat auch mein Sach aufs best bestellt.
and also
Mein Vater war ein Wandersmann
(note: there is an English version which does tragedy to the song)
Mein Vater war ein Wandersmann,
Und mir steckt’s auch im Blut;
Drum wandr’ ich flott, so lang ich kann,
Und schwenke meinen Hut.
Refrain 1:
Faleri, falera, faleri,
Falera ha ha ha ha ha ha
Faleri, falera,
Und schwenke meinen Hut.
Refrain 2&3:
|: Hei-di, hei-da, hei-di, hei-da!
Und schwenke meinen Hut. 😐
Das Wandern schaffet frische Lust,
Erhält das Herz gesund;
Frei atmet draußen meine Brust,
Froh singet stets mein Mund:
Refrain:
Warum singt Dir das Vögelein
So freudevoll sein Lied?
Weil’s nimmer hockt, landaus, landein
Durch and’re Fluren zieht.
Refrain:
Was murmelt’s Bächlein dort und rauscht,
So lustig hin durch’s Rohr,
Weil’s frei sich regt, mit Wonne lauscht
Ihm dein empfänglich Ohr.
Refrain:
D’rum trag ich Ränzlein und den Stab
Weit in die Welt hinein,
Und werde bis an’s kühle Grab
Ein Wanderbursche sein!
Refrain:
Photos

Fresh at the start of the hike

Fresh at the start of the hike


Golden Lakes

Golden Lakes


Typical VERY smelly outhouse

Typical VERY smelly outhouse


Meadow heading out of Golden Lakes

Meadow heading out of Golden Lakes


headwaters of the Puyallup River

headwaters of the Puyallup River


Jon at Klapatche Park

Jon at Klapatche Park


Me at Klapatche Park

Me at Klapatche Park


St. Andrews Lake above Klapatche Park

St. Andrews Lake above Klapatche Park


Stiff climbing out of the North Puyallup Drainage

Stiff climbing out of the North Puyallup Drainage


West side of Mt. Rainier

West side of Mt. Rainier


Jon looking quite fresh

Jon looking quite fresh


Treacherous trail heading up to Emerald Ridge. This trail was being reconstructed.

Treacherous trail heading up to Emerald Ridge. This trail was being reconstructed.


Suspension Bridge across Tahoma Creek

Suspension Bridge across Tahoma Creek


The mountain from Indian Henry's Hunting Ground

The mountain from Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground


Jon relaxing at Indian Henry's

Jon relaxing at Indian Henry’s


Most of the wildflowers were gone by now. This is at Indian Henry's

Most of the wildflowers were gone by now. This is at Indian Henry’s


Burger and Rainier Beer at Longmire

Burger and Rainier Beer at Longmire


Reflection Lakes on the south side of Mt. Rainier

Reflection Lakes on the south side of Mt. Rainier


Climbing up the Cowlitz Divide toward Indian Bar

Climbing up the Cowlitz Divide toward Indian Bar


Clouds engulfing us on the Cowlitz Divide

Clouds engulfing us on the Cowlitz Divide


Above Indian Bar headed toward Panhandle Gap

Above Indian Bar headed toward Panhandle Gap


Jon taking a breather at Panhandle Gap.

Jon taking a breather at Panhandle Gap.


Coming off of Panhandle Gap toward Summerland, the Gap kept the clouds back so that we could see the mountain

Coming off of Panhandle Gap toward Summerland, the Gap kept the clouds back so that we could see the mountain


Summerland, in competition for one of the most beautiful places in the world

Summerland, in competition for one of the most beautiful places in the world


Afternoon mountain view from Summerland

Afternoon mountain view from Summerland


Early morning alpenglow at Summerland

Early morning alpenglow at Summerland


View of the mountain ascending toward Sunrise

View of the mountain ascending toward Sunrise


Jon enjoying a burger and beer at Sunrise

Jon enjoying a burger and beer at Sunrise


High on a ridge out of Sunrise on the north side of Rainier

High on a ridge out of Sunrise on the north side of Rainier


The terminus of the Winthrop Glacier

The terminus of the Winthrop Glacier


Mystic Lake

Mystic Lake


Meadows below Mystic Lake

Meadows below Mystic Lake


Mt. Rainier above Seattle Park and north of Spray Park, clouds beginning to move in.

Mt. Rainier above Seattle Park and north of Spray Park, clouds beginning to move in.


The end of our journey and ready to do it again.

The end of our journey and ready to do it again.


 

Cougar Lakes 2015

July 6th, 2015

Cougar Lakes-5
Cougar Lakes Backpack – 03-05JUL2015
This is the annual backpack trip that I do with the Flanagan grandchildren. This trip included Patrick and Sammy, as well as Andrew, Jon, and myself. We originally considered doing Rachel Lakes/Ramparts in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, but decided instead on Cougar Lakes. I had been here 3-4 times, the first with Aaron Hughes, and afterwards with Tim Schmidt, later with family. It is just outside of Rainier National Park, but demands a lengthy drive to get to the trailhead.
The drive to the trailhead was a bit unnerving. The road was gravel for six miles, and in much worse shape than I ever remember. Andrew’s Corolla barely made it, and probably bottomed a few times. It wasn’t nice. The trail, after ¼ mile, demands that one walk across a shallow, but swift flowing stream, which we accommodated by switching into water shoes. The trail is a total of six miles, with about 1600 feet of climbing. At 4 miles, the trail passes by Swamp Lake, which is actually a beautiful lake surrounded by rocky cliffs and forest. The trail to Cougar Lakes is unmarked and unadvertised. I had trouble finding it on previous backpack trips. There is no mention of this trail in the most recent guidebooks. I guess the forest service would like to limit the number of people visiting this lake. We saw 5-6 other groups, but for the most part, were completely alone, without anybody else in the near vicinity. Cougar Lakes is pleural because it is actually two lakes, separated by a narrow isthmus, a smaller Little Cougar Lake, which you first see, and the most picturesque, as illustrated above. The second lake is larger, where we camped. Both have much fish, and are great for swimming.

Cougar Lake from our campsite

Cougar Lake from our campsite


House Rock from the larger Cougar Lake

House Rock from the larger Cougar Lake


Early morning view from our campsite

Early morning view from our campsite


Happy backpackers

Happy backpackers


The camp

The camp


Dishes out to dry

Dishes out to dry


Little Cougar Lake

Little Cougar Lake


We spent two nights at Cougar Lakes. The intervening day was restful, with the kids going on a short exploratory hike, but mostly spending time skipping rocks, and swimming, or relaxing in the tent. The weather was perfect, not too hot and not too cold. Both Patrick and Sam stated that they wished they could have stayed more days.
Frodo and Samwise

Frodo and Samwise


Jon and Andrew

Jon and Andrew


Me with the hobbits

Me with the hobbits


To celebrate our hike, we stopped at Wallys in Buckley, where Samwise got his first Waltimate burger, measuring about 8 inches across, with probably 2 lb of meat. He did get some help eating it. Frodo got his Waltimate burger two weeks before after another hike.
The Waltimate burger

The Waltimate burger

The Merry Month of May, 2015

June 4th, 2015

May Adventures-9
May was a busy month. I had three main activities that consumed my time.
1. Adventure Cycle Association Leadership Course
This course is required by those who wish to lead ACA tours, but is also an excellent source of information for leading one’s own bicycling adventures. The classes were held at Champoeg State Park in Oregon, south of Portland and along the Willamette River. It was three packed days of most classwork, but also with short rides mixed in. Much discussion was held in discussing the ACA philosophy of leadership, being that of allowing tour participants much freedom of individual decisions and responsibility. The ACA regimen of daily cycling activity, and conflict resolution were also discussed. I had a great time, met some delightful people, and hope to be assisting in the leadership of tours soon.

The Willamette River at Champoeg State Park

The Willamette River at Champoeg State Park


Camping at Champoeg State Park; my tent is on the far left

Camping at Champoeg State Park; my tent is on the far left


Classroom discussion with Joyce

Classroom discussion with Joyce


Wally and the staff make dinner

Wally and the staff make dinner


Chowing down

Chowing down


2. Dayton, WA bicycling
It has been several years since Russ A. and I have gone to Dayton, WA for bicycle riding. Another friend of Russ, Pete, also comes with, and is a great complement to the rides. This year, our first ride was loop down to Walla Walla, starting from Howie’s cabin, half way from Dayton up to the Bluewood Ski Resort. The second day was a mountain bike ride up into the Blue Mountains, and a most serious grunt. The third day took us to Starbuck, and north of Dayton. The weather was perfect, and rides were most delightful.
Second day mountain bike ride, just after a beastly climb

Second day mountain bike ride, just after a beastly climb


The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers


Russ at home in the Blue Mountains

Russ at home in the Blue Mountains


3. Hikes to Indian Henry’s — two variations
On two consecutive weekends, Jon and I hiked up to Indian Henry’s hunting grounds, a most beautiful spot on the timberline of Mount Rainier. The first hike took the Kautz Creek route, which goes straight up a ridge following Kautz Creek up to Indian Henry’s, wrapping around Mt. Ararat. The top photo is of Mt. Ararat engulfed in clouds. On this hike, the weather was overcast, and we could not see the mountain. Close to Indian Henry’s, we hit much snow, which eventually led us to turn back. The second weekend, we followed the Wonderland Trail going counter-clockwise around the mountain. The weather was spectacular, and most of the snow at Indian Henry’s had since melted. The views of the mountain were awesome.
Flowers

Flowers


More flowers

More flowers


And More flowers

And More flowers


Jon on the Kautz Creek hike

Jon on the Kautz Creek hike


Me on the Kautz Creek hike

Me on the Kautz Creek hike


Approaching Indian Henry's. Lots of flowers and little snow.

Approaching Indian Henry’s. Lots of flowers and little snow.


Indian Henry's Hunting Grounds via the Wonderland Trail

Indian Henry’s Hunting Grounds via the Wonderland Trail


Leaving Indian Henry's

Leaving Indian Henry’s


We camped here before on the Wonderland Trail, and will be camping here again in August when we do the Wonderland Trail again.

We camped here before on the Wonderland Trail, and will be camping here again in August when we do the Wonderland Trail again.


 

Eagle Creek 2012

July 25th, 2012

Eagle Creek with Andrew and Patrick, 12-13JULY2012
This was Patrick’s first backpack trip. I figured that at 7 years of age, he was worthy of a good hike. So, with Andrew’s help, off we went to the Columbia River Gorge and the start of the Eagle Creek trip. The trail goes up 7.5 miles before diverting into several other trails. I wasn’t sure how far Patrick would be able to go, and so picked a trail that would allow for many possibilities to stop early to 7.5 miles. We made it up to 4.5 miles. Patrick carried a pack, including his sleeping bag and pad, and clothes, so he had proportionally slightly more weight per size that either Andrew or I. That afternoon, we walked another 1.5 miles up to Tunnel Falls, and then turned back. The evening was spent in the tent without a fly, and the weather was absolutely perfect. We decided to hike back the next day, aborting a day early, but spending time at the Punchbowl.

Patrick with Andrew, fresh and ready to start


The trail was created out of dynamite for about 1/3 of the distance. The dynamite used was of the native Indian variety, and not the synthetic stuff used by modern man to destroy nature.


Patrick still fresh


The Three Musketeers


Arrival at camp, 4.5 miles later


Tunnel Falls


Eager to go home


The Punchbowl in HDR


 
After we returned to the car, we drove along the old Columbia River highway to Crown Point and then back to Gresham. We are a few sights.

Crown Point


 

View of Columbia River Gorge from Crown Point/Vista House in HDR

Eagle Creek 23-24JULY2009

July 27th, 2009


This must be my 15th time up Eagle Creek, as it is definitely one of my favorite easy hikes. It was the very first backpack trip I’ve ever done, which almost led to calamity. At that time, when I was about 15 years old, this trail seemed to be a challenging tour de force, demanding only the bravest and the best. Since then, I have brought young kids up the trail, and usually hiked to 7 1/2 mile camp in under 3 hours. The trail is spectacular, much of it created with dynamite. There are multiple waterfalls, the most photogenic being the punchbowl (above) at 2.5 miles in. The most impressive is tunnel falls, at about 6.5 miles in…

You can see how the trail walks behind the falls through a tunnel. It remains truly spectacular. There is also high bridge and low bridge

The first photo above is looking down the very steep canyon wall while on high bridge, at the rushing river.

Here I am with Russ Andersen and Jonathan. Unfortunately, Luc had to take the photo.  All in all, the trip brought back many memories, and because of no physical problems or blisters, made me anxious for more aggressive endeavors this summer.
 

14, 26, 28FEB2009 Skiing

February 28th, 2009

Jonny and I went cross-country skiing twice together. The first was up to Snoqualmie Pass, on a groomed trail, for about 14 miles.

The second was into Reflection Lake on Mt. Rainier, much of the way through steep forest with about 18 inches of powder snow. This made the possibility of easy skiing quite difficult, and only once we got to the road were we able to get some speed to our skiing. The snow was quite soft, but also very cold, which meant that it balled up underneath our skis, making the going quite difficult. Both photos were showing Reflection Lake.