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 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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Mar 05
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.

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Feb 18

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.

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Jan 25
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

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Oct 04
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.

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Sep 23
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
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Sep 07
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
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