Jul 17

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.

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Jul 04

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.

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Jul 03
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.

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Jun 24
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.

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Jun 01
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


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Apr 15

Warner Springs Ranch Resort- a nice respite

11April2019

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

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

12April – mile 110 -mile 127

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

At Mike’s

The pizza oven

Mike’s caretaker showing himself a master pizza chef

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

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

Palm Springs

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

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Apr 10

The starting monument

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

05APRIL Lake Morena to mile 37.2

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

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

07APR Mile 55.9- 77.1 (Scissors Junction)

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

08APR- mile 77.1-91.2

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

09APR -day 6- mile 91.2 to mile 105.1

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

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

My tent at mile 105

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eagle Rock at mile 105.

Tom Braithwaite, my trail angel

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

God bless… next update at Idyllwild in a week.

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Apr 03

Train station in Tacoma

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

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

Hostel in San Luis Obispo

Train station in San Luis Obispo

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

03APRIL

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

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

Tom and Chris, ready to send me off!

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Mar 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Mar 21

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.

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