Jul 11

Orthocogy may be defined as right/correct thinking.  It is a word coined by me to complement the words orthodoxy (right/correct creeds/beliefs) and orthopraxy (right/correct practice/behavior). The word “orthocogy” is most needed in the English language, as no other word fits the entity of thinking correctly. Besides, having an orthodox belief system does not guarantee that one thinks well.

I first realized the need for this word while reading the parable of the sower in Mark 4. After Jesus gave the parable, he later asked his disciples what they thought it meant. Let’s quote directly from Scripture…

Mark 4:10-13 (ESV) And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that
“‘they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.’”
And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?

It is easy for us to assume that we would have offered the correct interpretation to Jesus, yet the interpretation of Jesus would NOT have perfectly matched what a Reformed, Arminian, Anabaptist, Catholic, or heretic would have offered as the best interpretation of this Scripture. Jesus commented that orthocogy (right thinking) is necessary to understand not only this parable but all of his parables.

There does not seem to be much difference between orthocogy and wisdom, which in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word hokmah (chokhmah, חכמה) or Greek sophia (σοφία) in the New Testament. There are times when the Wisdom literature of the Old and New Testament seems contrary to sound doctrine, such as Job, Proverbs, the Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), or the book of James. People have wondered about whether or not the book of Esther should be in the canon of Scripture, as the book does not even mention God. Yet, I think there is a reason for its existence in the canon. As my dear friend Bob Case brought out in his commentary on Esther (reviewed previously by me), the book of Esther offers great wisdom in how to deal as a Christian in the world of politics. It’s a lesson easily missed.

I have oftentimes wondered as to why superb theologians make some of the stupidest errors in thinking. I recall how the Southern Presbyterian theologians Thornwell and Dabney both wrote passionate defenses for slavery. I recall how one of my heroes of the 20th century, JG Machen, was an ardent fan of one of our worse presidents ever, Woodrow Wilson. Think of those theologians who came out with vitriolic statements against Donald Trump, in spite of him making more Christian-like decisions than ANY other president who preceded him! Or, contemplate how so many “first-rate” theologians are woke, adhere to critical race theory, or have given in to the higher-critical thinking of biblical interpretation.

Orthocogy is very much like orthodoxy or orthopraxy; we all like to assume that we have it. Even though our behavior may change with time and our belief systems mature over time, it is quite clear that we all assume that we are the best examples of the three orthos. Dale Carnegie, in his hit book How to Win Friends and Influence People spends the first chapter of his book developing the notion of how even hardened criminals are convinced that they were right thinking and right acting in their crimes. He is correct. Orthocogy is not a trait that we boast about possessing, and if we do, we probably do not have it.

The wisdom literature gives you instruction as to how to obtain orthocogy.

Proverbs 2:6-7 (ESV) For the LORD gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity…

Proverbs 3:5-7 (ESV) Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.

Proverbs 9:10 (ESV) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Though Proverbs 1-9 is a focused treatise on wisdom, other Scriptures (especially the book of James) offer insights on how to gain wisdom (orthocogy). It is true that orthodoxy, orthopraxy, and orthocogy are inseparable features. One must behave well in order to think well. One must hold wisdom with the highest value and seek after it, seeking for wisdom and knowledge. To this end, one can not approach Scripture in a haphazard fashion and expect to be imparted with the grace of wisdom. Wisdom entails standing on the shoulders of other bright scholars, striving diligently for truth and correct understanding of things, ordering one’s life in accordance with the Scriptures, and being humble in one’s assessment of themselves.

Hopefully, the word “orthocogy” will become an established word in English literature. It is needed as a completion of the ortho triad and establishes a framework for thinking through the writings of any person. Are they living a proper life? Is their diligence in Scriptural accuracy right on? Do they think well in the matter of life issues? If any of those three questions is suspect, then the rest of a person’s teachings also become suspect. The three go together, and the exclusion of any one of three gives one an incomplete assessment of a person and their teaching.

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Jul 03

Echo Lake with Sam Flanagan: 01-02JULY2021

Echo Lake is located within the Norse Peak Wilderness, just north of Mount Rainier, and in proximity of the Crystal Mountain ski resort. It is pristine wilderness with wonderful streams and beautiful lakes, marred only by the unfortunate occurrence in 2017 of a major forest fire that raged through this area. The fire was started by lightning strike, and though it was fairly comprehensive, it is seen extensively when one is hiking in proximity to our current trail while on the Pacific Crest Trail. The fire was rather selective, leaving large patches of unburnt trees, and occasionally a small island of viable trees in a field of charred and dead trees. Some of this hike traversed burnt sections, though there were still mostly viable trees.

We started out on July 01 at about 10 am, and the parking lot was essentially empty. This is an extremely popular hike so that was quite strange. On the way in, we greeted the owner of the one other car in the lot who was hiking out. She also had a Gossamer Gear backpack, which is not the most common backpack in this part of the universe.

Crossing a stream on a precarious “bridge”, aided by a rope strung across the creek by the forest service.
Sam entering the Norse Peak wilderness
Hiking up the Greenwater River system, past the lower and upper Greenwater Lakes.
Sam at the horse camp of Echo Lake. Across the lake, one can observe the devastation of the 2017 fire.

I originally intended to do this hike as a loop, going from Echo Lake up to Corral Pass, spending the night at Corral Pass, and then descending by way of the Lost Lake trail and back to the trail head. Echo Lake was 7 miles from the trailhead, and a lot of climbing. As we went past the Greenwater Lakes, we encountered more and more mosquitos. Sam applied mosquito juice, but still got eaten up. I was using a mosquito head net, but they were not attacking me as viciously as Sam, so loaned the net to him. Even still, by the time we reached Echo Lake, Sam had had enough of the mosquitos, and we decided to call it quits. We ate lunch and then dinner, set up our tent, and had a restful night. The day was warm but mostly cloudy, with blue sky for an hour or two while we were at the lake. On the way out the next day, we then encountered swarms of weekend warriors coming up the trail. We got to the parking lot about 11 am, which was nearly full of cars. I gave Sam an obligatory stop at Wally’s for his Wallyburger, a treat not to be missed.

On arriving home, Betsy had a list of chores to get done. Meanwhile, I conspired as to my next hike. Sometime after the 4th JULY, I will be taking the train down to Vancouver, WA and meet Gaylon. The next AM, he will drop me off at the Bridge of the Gods, but this time, I will start hiking north. I’ll probably not resupply until White Pass, a total of 150 miles, and then terminate the hike at Chinook Pass, and hitch hike back to civilization.

The multiple obstacles that I continually am confronting have left me with the question as to whether I’m crazy, or whether God is blocking every attempt of mine to complete the trail. At this point, I’ve lost all interest in completing the entire PCT. I would like to hike most of the Washington and Oregon parts of the trail, and hopefully also hike the trail from Castella to Ashland. I don’t have any extreme hopes or expectations. I’ve learned the importance of enjoying the hike. Many will push on in the face of miserable conditions, simply to claim that they’ve done the entire trail. That’s not my cup of tea. I’ll do what I can, but I’ll enjoy it while I do it.

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Jun 29

Last year, the Wuhan virus prevented most people from hitting the trail. This year was assumed to be a normal season. Distinctives included a higher than normal snow season in Oregon and Washington, and a lower than normal snow season in the high Sierra. Now, as I head down to central California, we are experiencing an extreme heatwave in the Northwest, with temperatures as high as 106F in Puyallup, and hotter in Portland. This heatwave has extended down to central California, with only the high Sierra having relief from the heat. The heat has affected the train, as they claimed that above 100F, they were limited to a speed of 40 mph. So, I’m not sure that I’ll reach the transfer point in time to switch trains to Bakersfield.

I purchased a business class seat to save money, yet sleeper cars just make sense for overnight travel. Hopefully, I can get some sleep tonight. At least the train is air-conditioned. They require you to wear masks, which creates a stagnant air environment, enough to make one sick.

Towards late evening, as we were coming up on Klamath Falls, we were informed that the train could go no further since there was a fire that was close to the tracks. By morning, still in Klamath Falls, they notified us that the fire had actually encroached on some train trestles so that further travel was impossible. They also tried to find a bus to transport us southward, but virtually none were available. Therefore, they were taking us back home and refunding the train fare. 

Lava fire in Northern California. You can see that the Amtrak track goes right down the middle of this fire. They are represented by the dashed white-black line that runs under the fire shield on the map.
One photo (that I did not take) of the fire. Mt. Shastina is on the left. The train tracks run right through the middle of this fire. 

At this point in time, there truly is no sensible way for me to get to the trailhead, as I am not going to fly there. My options have completely run out. I called Betsy to let her know what was up. I am a bit disappointed but also realize that God sometimes uses such means to lead me on the correct path. So, it is unwise for me to be angry about matters. Yes, I believe in the providence of God that works all things for His purpose, and for the best of his children. The fire was caused by lightning, and because of the dry hot weather, the high Sierra is also experiencing an abundance of lightning storms, which present significant dangers to the hiker. 

What to do? Well, I’m sad to not do the high Sierra. Even if I schemed another way to get back to Walker Pass or Kennedy Meadows, it will be past the time permitted on my permit and thus run a problem. So, I will do other things. Like, hike the Washington portion of the trail. Get back into bicycle riding. I have some serious home projects that need to be done. Even though Washington has had a heatwave, it was a winter with much snow, and a moderate portion of the trail in Washington is still covered with snow. Thus, several weeks delay before starting at the Columbia River would be ideal. 

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Jun 25

Next Monday (28JUN2021) I board an Amtrak train to Bakersfield, CA. This is an overnight train with several transfers, after which I board a bus to Lake Isabella. I’ll spend a night in Lake Isabella and then board another bus to Walker Pass. If the weather happens to be unusually hot, I will then continue on to the town of Ridgecrest, and hop a ride from there to Kennedy Meadows to begin my hike for the year. So, I couldn’t tell if I will begin hiking on 30JUN or a day or two later. In any event, I will be hitting the grandeur of the high Sierra in this episode of the PCT. I do not plan on summiting Mt. Whitney, a common side trip for PCT hikers, but will maintain my objective of hiking straight through. I also do not plan on stopping for resupply mid-way through the high Sierras but will head straight to Muir Trail Ranch, a segment that will take roughly 10 days to complete without a resupply. I will do a limited resupply at Reds Meadow (Mammoth, CA, Devils Postpile area) and mailed resupply packages at Tuolomne Meadows and Kennedy Meadows North (Sonora Pass). Rather than hitchhike down to South Lake Tahoe for resupply, I’m hoping that I can do a limited resupply at the Echo Lake grocery store before arriving at Donner Pass. At Donner Pass, I will hitchhike to Truckee, CA where I can catch the Amtrak train back home. I’ve considered plans for a much more extensive hiking season and then opted against that for a number of reasons, including my desire to spend as much of the summer with Betsy as possible, and taking the extremely hot weather under advisement. Besides the challenge of hiking in hot weather, there remains a much greater possibility of forest fires. Later in the summer (September) I hope that I can complete some more of the Washington PCT, perhaps with Russ A.

Preparations have been somewhat haphazard. I’ve been doing long hard day hikes, and last week did a very easy overnighter with Sam and Liam Flanagan. Physically, I feel ready. I’ve mailed my resupply packages to Kennedy Meadows (South) and to Muir Trail Ranch. Today, I mailed resupply boxes to Tuolomne Meadows and to Kennedy Meadows (North).

I will be using a Garmin InReach mini which will allow you to follow my progress. The device leaves a satellite “breadcrumb” every 30 minutes as to my location so that you can observe my progress from home. The link for this is share.garmin.com/PuyallupPilgrim . You may see mileage posted from the InReach mini, but it is highly inaccurate. Because it only takes a location every 30 minutes, it would be accurate only if I were walking a perfectly straight line without ups and downs. I could take my Garmin Explorer, which registers every few seconds and thus get a highly accurate reading on my hike, but that is much extra weight and totally unnecessary. My mileages will be reasonably accurately estimated from the trail mileage data of Guthooks, which is the iPhone GPS map system I use to stay on track on the trail.

Here is what I will be taking with me in my pack…

  • Backpack-Gossamer Gear 60Mariposa with rain cover
  • Tent – ZPacks Duplex
  • Hiking poles – ZPacks
  • Ground Pad – Thermarest NeoAir XLite – female
  • Sleeping quilt – Feathered Friends 20 Flicker
  • Pillow – down
  • Hiking gloves – Outdoor Research sun gloves
  • Buff & Handkerchief
  • Feathered Friends EOS down coat
  • Shorts, t-shirt (synthetic), socks, underpants, long underwear, fleece mittens/hat
  • Stove – Pocket rocket MSR kit with pot
  • Fuel canister
  • Camp towel
  • Long-handled titanium spoon
  • Bearikade bear canister (will change to UrSack at Kennedy Meadows) – an extra quarter to open and close the Bearikade
  • Personal paraphernalia – sunglasses, chapstick, wallet, pen, notepad, swiss army knife
  • Hydration bottle and tube
  • Rain jacket OR Helium II
  • Sawyer Squeeze water purification
  • 1 & 2-liter water bags
  • Suntan and Insect repellent, bug net
  • headlamp with extra batteries
  • Toilet paper, trowel, sanitizing gel
  • Pee bottle
  • First aid kit
  • Repair kit
  • Backup 10,000 MaH battery with charge cables
  • Medications: regular plus emergency meds
  • inReach Mini
  • iPhone

This is it. This will be my only “stuff” for 5-6 weeks. I have arranged for 4 resupplies, one at Kennedy Meadows South, one at Muir Trail Ranch, one at Tuolomne Meadows, and one at Kennedy Meadows North. I will also do a limited resupply at Reds Meadow and at Echo Lake resort. Here’s the contents of my pack…

Here is my resupply list for contents that I will have in the resupply boxes and food that will be on me…

PCT Resupply Box Contents July 2021

I will be leaving home anything that will not be used, save for hopefully a few emergency first aid supplies. Everything in the pack as well as the pack and on the pack have been weighed and re-weighed many times. Alternate items have also been weighed and the choice of alternates depended largely on the comparative weight of the item. I am doing a few things much differently. These include a) not using a fanny pack, but instead will be using a shoulder strap pocket on my backpack to hold my iPhone and sunglasses as well as permits and notepad. I will be using a Gossamer Gear pack. I’ve rigged up some straps to hold the bear canister to the outside of the pack. I may be trying out a hoodie rather than a button-down shirt. I will be using the right hip belt pocket for quick energy food—I used to keep quick energy food in my fanny pack until some chocolate melted and got all over my iPhone; not cool. I’ll be using a large zip lock bag for my daily lunch meal supplies since I am using the Bearikade bear canister which is a little hard to quickly access. I anticipate that I will be continuously modifying my style to best suit my changing needs.

The high Sierra and Washington are the two top-rated areas of the trail. I know the Washington section of the PCT reasonably well but have never been to the high Sierra. So, I’m looking eagerly for this phase of my adventure. This segment is also the part in which you MUST have a permit. Everywhere else on the PCT, you can hike the trail and camp the trail without a permit. If you camp in the high Sierra without a permit or without a bear canister, you WILL receive a hefty fine and curtly escorted out of the park.

I am finishing my pre-hike training with a few more hikes. On 24JUN I ran up to Thompson Lake, a 4000 ft climb and 14 miles of trail. Saturday I will be doing hiking around Mt. Si and Mt. Tenerife (the twin peaks of tv series fame). The weather has been hot, and I’ve been holding up, so I am feeling about as ready as I could be for this upcoming challenge.

I’ll be sending blog pages as often as possible, but in the high Sierra and all the way up to Donner Pass, there will be very few locations where I’ll be in cell phone range to download my blog pages. Thus, the only way you’ll be able to follow me is on the Garmin site. My PLB will receive messages, but I beg of you, PLEASE do not send me a satellite message unless it is most urgent. Rather, e-mail me ([email protected]), or comment on this web page, but do NOT text me or satellite message me. The reason is quite simple. I won’t have cell phone coverage to receive text messages. A satellite message eats up a massive amount of electricity for my PLB, and my contract plan does NOT allow for unlimited messages, which I’d like to reserve for Betsy.


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Jun 18

It is now about 10 days before I resume my adventure. Since it has been nearly a year since I’ve last backpacked, and since much of my equipment has changed, I saw the need to do a trial run. To accomplish two purposes, I took Sam and Liam with me, letting them become more independent, including using their own tent. I brought about 5 times the amount of food that I would normally carry, and the Flanagans quickly went through most of it. We hiked into Ipsut Creek campground, about 5 miles of relatively flat terrain, so it was fairly simple and it gave Sam and Liam ample time to mess around and do their own thing. On the way and at the campsite, we diverted to two waterfalls, Chenius Falls and Ipsut Falls, both rather beautiful.

Chenius Falls



One of many logs across the Carbon River we crossed to get to Chenius Falls

Ipsut Falls, where we also got our water

Crossing a dangerous log, showing off to a couple of female park rangers

I have no photos of our campsite, but the tents were the Zpacks Duplex and Triplex tents. We all slept well overnight, and headed out about 8:30 am to head home. On the way back, we stopped at the mines of MORA, a short little climb off of the trail where, in 1899, serious efforts to find gold and other valuable minerals were made. 

The Mine of MORA

The kids were awesome, and on returning home, were rewarded to Jack in the Box burgers. Hopefully, more adventures will follow.


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Jun 03

Top of Mount Si looking at North Bend

It is now 25 days before I take off on my grand adventure, Act II. Act I was accomplished in 2019, though my intention at that time was to finish the entire PCT, circumstances of weather and snow levels prevented me from accomplishing my intentions. I had hiked 1000 miles of the trail and completed the most challenging portion, making it through the desert of Southern California. My plan at this time is to go from Walker Pass to Old Station, and then perhaps finish off California by also hiking from Castella, CA to Ashland, OR. If there is more time in the hiking season and the weather is favorable, I’ll also try to finish up some of Washington. If successful, this should get me in another 800-1000 miles of trail. I’m hoping that by next year, the Eagle Creek Trail opens up and that I might do the Eagle Creek as a completion of the Oregon segment of the trail. This would repeat about 50 miles of the trail, but then it is a beautiful trail that I won’t mind repeating.

There are several things that I have already taken care of. First is the purchase of my train ticket from here to Bakersfield, CA. I will hop a county bus (Kern Transit) to Lake Isabella, and then early the next morning, take Kern Transit up to the trailhead at Walker Pass, which will drop me off at about 06:30. The first 50 miles will be desert-like conditions, and so plenty of water will need to be carried. At 50 miles, I will reach Kennedy Meadows South, where I will pick up my resupply package, and then head off for the longest stretch without a resupply, 158 miles to Muir Trail Ranch. There, I will have another resupply package mailed to me. Which is another item that I have to attend to.

Resupply packages

The orange buckets and boxes are resupply packages that I will be mailing to myself. They are still open since I will not seal them up until the day I need to mail them. Most of them will be mailed before I leave town, giving them about 3 weeks to arrive at their destination. The blue box contains a scale—everything gets weighed. The ice ax will go with me on the train, though I won’t need it until I reach Kennedy Meadows; it is difficult to mail, but fairly lightweight, so not objectionable to carry. Behind the blue box and ice ax is my pack. I’ll have further details as to exactly what I’m carrying in a later post. Buckets and plastic boxes are used for many locations, since they are remote locations, and numerous critters can easily get into them and ruin the contents if they are in standard cardboard boxes. I keep a record of exactly what I have in each box and need to thoroughly think out what I will need for the section of the hike associated with that resupply. In South Lake Tahoe, I will also need a new pair of shoes. I use Altra Lone Peaks, which wear out at about 500 miles. I use them since they are super lightweight, and that I have yet to get a blister with those shoes. They are probably the most popular shoe on the trail, for a good reason.

Personal conditioning is also important, and I have been doing a number of day hikes with a full pack on my back, using the loaded pack that I will be doing the PCT with. I currently have adopted the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60, a pack that weighs (empty) about 2 lbs but is very comfortable and well designed. It is currently my favorite pack for this sort of activity. Day hikes have mostly been in the Snoqualmie Valley and Issaquah Alps area since they are relatively free of snow. I have also included some of the grandkids in my hikes, though they do not carry anything but a raincoat and water for themselves. Here is a few photos of my adventures…

Patrick and Liam on top of Tiger Mountain #1. Mount Rainier is in the distance.

The summit of Mailbox Peak. Yes, that is this year’s mailbox on the summit.

Near the top of Squak Mountain Central. The original owners had a fireplace, which I assume was connected to a house.

I also hope to do one or two overnight trips, perhaps taking a grandchild or two. This will be within the next two weeks. I feel ready at this time to go, though with the usual pre-hike anxieties. To follow will be a detailed list of my pack contents, resupply strategy, and further training hikes of interest.


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May 09

09MAY2021  The PCT trail awaits me. I leave in 50 days.

I plan to return to my mission of eventually hiking through the entire Pacific Crest Trail, section hiking it over several years’ time. I would have preferred to have thru-hiked the trail in a single season, which I attempted in 2019. That ended up in an aborted mission for a number of reasons, the greatest being that it was a very high year for snow, and most of the people that I hiked with were either flip-flopping or dropping out. I ended up skipping around a bit, and yet the snow still seemed to be a deterrent issue, either from failure to melt creating dangerous conditions or from recent melting causing the number of mosquitos (misery) to be intense.

This year, I hope to do several sections. I plan on starting from Walker Pass and working my way up to Donner Pass. I am not totally decided on whether to go from Donner Pass to Old Station this year, being that resupply may be slightly problematic. If I skip Donner Pass to Old Station, I will jump up to Castle Crags (Castella, I-5) and proceed up to Callahans (I-5 in Oregon/Ashland). After coming home, I would like to complete further sections of Washington State. I have changed my plans a number of times in the past few months. Should I resupply over Kearsarge Pass/Independence, or push on? Should I stop at Muir Trail Ranch (MTR) or go another day and resupply at Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR)? VVR is much more friendly to thru-hikers, but is slightly more off of the trail, and demands yet another mountain pass and 20 more miles of hiking, which is added on the 156 miles you’ve already gone from Kennedy Meadows South without a resupply. Should I stop at South Lake Tahoe, which demands a hitch-hike to and from the trail, or should I do a limited resupply at the Echo Lake Resort? Other decisions will probably be best made while on the trail.

Many further decisions await me in the weeks ahead. Exact equipment remains a question. I’ve tried out several other packs and love the Gossamer Gear Mariposa. I’ve strongly considered switching stoves but ultimately decided on sticking with the JetBoil stove that I’ve used before. It heats water faster, uses less fuel, handles wind better, and only weighs a few ounces more than the more popular trail stoves. It is not as good of a cooking stove since you cannot simmer the heat, but then I generally do minimal cooking on the trail outside of heating up water or cooking Ramen noodles. How should I carry my bear canister? Inside or outside of my pack? What foods am I going to prefer to eat, knowing that one’s appetite seriously changes while on the trail? Questions, questions, questions.

Because I am going to be hitting a more challenging portion of the trail immediately after starting, I realize the importance of getting into trail shape. I plan on doing an overnighter or two. I will continue to run (more like… 1-2 mph crawl) up trails in the area at least 2-3 times a week. Hopefully, that will also get my excess weight down, and it seems to be working. This activity has also been fun and has allowed me to explore a lot of new trails in Western Washington.

Assembly of resupply boxes has occupied some of my time. It is hard to predict exactly what is going to be needed for each new segment of the trail. So, you over-plan a little bit, knowing that some of your goodies will be left in a hiker box. Too much of anything can become nauseating on the trail, and balance is most important. A person’s physiology changes drastically while on the trail. In 2019, I discovered that I was getting profoundly hypotensive, which ended when I stopped my anti-hypertensives and stayed only on aspirin and a few general vitamins. Like many hikers out there, aches and pains force one to consume mass quantities of vitamin i, ibuprofen.

I will not be doing hike-a-thon activities this year.  In 2019, I was participating in a hike-a-thon for Huguenot Heritage, an organization that is dear to my heart and worth hiking for. We did not coordinate well enough the development of a support structure, were late at setting up the structure for raising support, and then struggled with a terrible year to actually hike the trail (because of snow). Because this year is going to be piecemeal, it will add to the complexity of raising support. So, I am not going to engage this as a possibility for Huguenot Heritage or any other worthy organization.

Betsy has been my greatest support through all of this and has put up graciously with my adventure. She does not share my passion for the trail, preferring to engage in gardening and home pursuits. I am able to reassure her of my personal safety through the use of new technology, the personal locator beacon (plb). I have my Garmin InReach mini set to send a satellite signal every 30 minutes while I am on the trail, identifying my location. Thus, she is able to see my progress as I move further and further north. I am also able to send her messages via satellite, and she is able to send messages in return. As an aside, a few people will be receiving my daily plb notifications. PLEASE DO NOT respond unless it is vitally important or an emergency: each response takes up electrons on my device and I don’t have a wall socket at night to recharge anything. I will be up to 11 days away from the ability to recharge my devices. Back to Betsy. Part of the rationale for me section hiking rather than doing a pure thru-hike is that I will still have a moderate amount of time this summer with Betsy. She just happens to be my most favorite person in life, and life on the trail is always thinking of her.  She also contributes to my hiking by mailing resupply packages at the appropriate times, and for dropping me off and picking me up from the train station. Bless her soul for helping me.

I will be departing to Walker Pass with much less anxiety than in the year 2019. By now, I am most familiar with the routine of thru-hiking, waking up before dawn, sometimes heating up a cup of coffee, taking down the tent and packing your pack, taking off on the trail, singing the doxology, gloria patri and Constantinopolitan creed, walking for 2-3 hours at a time before stopping to rest, eating food that would normally be completely unacceptable off the trail, constantly watching your Guthooks app to make sure that you are on track, going occasionally to the point of exhaustion before stopping, setting up camp, cooking supper, settling in the sleeping bag, killing all the mosquitos that happened to stray into the tent, writing the day’s trail blog, and then quickly drifting off to sleep. Each day repeats itself with new segments of the trail, new challenges, new discoveries, new horizons, new vistas, new photographs. Someday (soon?) I will have reached an age that will no longer permit me to go long distances on the trail. It’s hard to know when that day will come. Until then, I keep my head held high and walk with a thankful spirit that God has granted me the ability to do what I am doing. Cum deo ambulo. Deus mecum et vobiscum!

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Jan 28

It’s been over 2 years since I last did cross country skiing. The John Wayne Trail (Cascade to Palouse Trail) at Hyak is a simple trail with minimal elevation gain and groomed, that allows one to get back into shape. The drive from Puyallup is about 1.5 hours. The weather was overcast with a few breaks, but not too cold. Since it was a Thursday, there were not too many skiers on the trail, and that, mostly skate skiers. My course was as follows…

I didn’t expect to get in quite as much distance as I did. My goal to ski to the lower end of Keechelus Lake was not met, meaning I will need to return another day for that. Sore muscles resulted from today’s endeavor, but not too bad. I will return perhaps next week, and then begin to venture into serious X-country country. My ski poles are 45 years old, my skis 30 years old, and they are definitely NOT the style currently being used, though they worked just fine for me. I was a tad bit clumsy, falling 3 times, which one remembers, because it’s not the easiest to get back up onto the skis.  I probably won’t post further ski adventures, unless they entail something memorable.

Keechelus Lake, looking north toward Hyak.

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Jan 27

I’m just announcing that I will be continuing my hike up the PCT this year. As many of you may have recalled, I commenced an attempt of a thru-hike of the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) in 2019. The PCT is a 2652+ mile long trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. I was doing this in part because it was a life-long dream of mine, and in part to raise funds for the Huguenot Heritage Foundation as a Walk-A-Thon. What I didn’t realize was that the year 2019 was a horrific snow year, and much of the trail remained under snow well into late summer. After that, family issues, higher than normal mosquito counts, and a few orthopedic ailments led to me bailing and playing trail angel at Hart’s Pass for a week with EZ, and then with a wonderful church group from Grand Coulee. I accomplished 1000 miles of the trail and a thirst to return. I now intend to commence where I first bailed, at Walker Pass, and go north from there. In 2020, I had a permit, but the Chinese virus struck. I used the summer to spend extra time practicing my trumpet, but also in having the opportunity of taking my grandkids out on their first or second, or third backpack trips, teaching them the new style of ultra-light packing, and getting in a few bucket list hikes.
It’s now another year. Thinking a bit more realistic, I am placing several restraints on my endeavors. I don’t want to waste the entire summer on the trail alone. (The surest way to create mortal enemies is to invite your best friends to hike the PCT with you!). Hopefully, I might trail angel a bit, if I can connect with EZ or the Grand Coulee folk. I’d also like to spend some time in a cabin in the woods or at the beach with Betsy (my dear wife) and with friends.
Here is my plan. On 28JUN I hop Amtrak down to Bakersfield, CA from Tacoma, WA. Using Kern County Transit, this will put me on the trail at roughly 6:15 am on 30JUN2021. I will resupply (mail myself packages) at Kennedy Meadows South, enter the high Sierra, resupply at Muir Trail Ranch, Reds Meadow (Devil’s Posthole, Mammoth Mountain CA area), Tuolomne Meadows, Kennedy Meadows North, hitchhike into South Lake Tahoe to resupply, resupply at Sierra City, Belden, and then end at Old Station just pass Mt. Lassen (where I started hiking a section 2 years ago), hitch or Uber a ride to Redding, CA, take Amtrak up to Dunsmuir, CA, and then hike the trail from Castella/I-5 to I-5/Callahans (Ashland, OR) before taking the bus to Klamath Falls, and Amtrak back home to Tacoma. It sounds complicated, but it’s not. This will leave me with only the segment from Crater Lake to White Pass, WA and the segment from Snoqualmie, WA to the border to complete, which will be done in a future year.
This particular segment of the trail will have its own difficulties. The high Sierra from Kennedy Meadows South to Muir Trail Ranch is a 158-mile stretch that goes over 5 mountain passes, one 13,100 feet high, and takes about 9-10 days to do. That means carrying 10-11 days’ worth of food. One also needs to carry crampons (spikes for the shoes) and an ice ax in this segment, as well as a heavy bear-proof container. It is also one of the most spectacular segments of the trail, made famous by John Muir.
Just as in 2019, I will be leaving updates and photos on this blogsite. Remember that these posts are written late at night when I am tired, and not totally coherent, in my sleeping bag in my tent, and won’t be corrected until the end of the season. These posts will come a bit more infrequent than in 2019, in that I will not have a means of connecting to the internet for long periods of time.  I no longer use Facebook, so you won’t find me there. I will be carrying a PLB (personal locator beacon), and that will send out satellite notifications every 1/2 hour of my walk as to my location, should you wish to follow my progress. If you wish to have daily notifications of my satellite signals, drop me an e-mail requesting the same, and I’ll try to accommodate you.
The initial challenge of doing this hike is in obtaining a permit with a start time that is personally desirable. About 14,000 people sought permits, and I was able to get into the queue at #1273, leaving me my choice as I wished. The permit is below.
Please feel free to contact me. I will be updating my plans as time goes on. Many of you I have not heard from in years, so please get back to me! I’d love to hear from you again. My trail name is “Pilgrim” or “Puyallup Pilgrim”, just in case you wondered. That is what I go by on the trail and do not use my birth name.
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Jan 06

Jazz: A film by Ken Burns ★★★

Betsy and I have just finished watching the Ken Burns series on Jazz. I had listened to a Teaching Company series on the history of Jazz, but that was a few years ago. I have only recently developed an affection for the Jazz genre. I remember my first exposure to jazz was in 1st grade Clinton School in South Elgin, Illinois. Our class was moved to the school gymnasium, along with other classes, for a special event. They were introducing the school to jazz, and had some jazz music playing over loud speakers. As a six year old kid, it seemed like rather unstructured, chaotic music to me. I wasn’t used to it. I never heard anything like it before. Then, many of the students were jumping and wiggling around in a very unusual manner; which didn’t make sense to me. Growing up in an Amish-Mennonite community, dancing was unheard of to me. In high school, I listened to easy-to-grasp classical music and the newly emerging rock and roll. The Beatles were ok, but the Rolling Stones really seemed to say more to the soul. Louis Armstrong always stood out to me as music that I had a strong attraction to; I remember well playing many times over his St. James Infirmary, and being spell-bound by his trumpet playing. Since then, my main interest drifted to more serious classical music, and Bach stood as first and foremost. Beethoven, Wagner, Mahler, Shostakovich, and many other 19th & 20th century composers left me spell-bound. I decided to take up trumpet lessons early this last Spring, and ended up with a teacher whose trumpet career oriented around jazz performance. Though I dearly love to listen to music, and enjoy performing it, I do not possess an intrinsic talent for music. Why my instructor is so patient with me is a total mystery. I am sure he gets a good laugh with his family and friends whenever my pitiful lesson performance is brought up. Still, I find working on lessons to be something of great value and joy to me, even though I may never perform in public. Jim, my teacher, is totally awesome. He is slowly introducing me to jazz, and I am loving every minute of it. Assignments include listening to great trumpet players, and my listening has expanded from Maurice Andre and other classical trumpet players to the jazz genre. I looked on Amazon and YouTube for anything that included trumpet, and I was most pleased with what I found and heard. Jazz, like more complex classical music, takes time to appreciate. This film on jazz finally helped bring things together.

The series on jazz starts with New Orleans musicians like King Oliver, quickly shifts to Louis Armstrong, and then marches through the history of jazz up to the present day. Focus was placed on Armstrong’s career, the evolution of jazz in Chicago and then New York, and later Hollywood. Early New Orleans and blues gave way to big bands and swing, to music of WWII, to later Louis Armstrong and new evolutions of jazz; be bop, then Avant Garde, then fusion jazz. Note was placed on periods of time when it seemed as though jazz would go extinct. Special emphasis in this series was placed on Louis Armstrong. It seemed as though they were claiming that jazz was born with Satchmo and died with Satchmo. Other emphasis was placed on Duke Ellington, and Billie Holliday. Mentioned just in briefest passing were the host of other great bands of the pre-war era: Stan Kenton, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, and Glenn Miller. What was disappointing was two things. First was the total absence of a real jazz history. One cannot talk of jazz history without mentioning ragtime, tin-pan alley, minstrel singers, and other precursors to New Orleans jazz. In this series, Wynton Marsalis and his associates become the last dying hope of jazz. Contrary to the series, I don’t believe that jazz is on its dying breath. It is not as “experimental” as 20-40 years ago. It is more colorblind, including not only black performers, but white, hispanic and other races. There is virtually no mention of Mexicans, such as Raphael Mendez, or Cuban, such as Arturio Sandoval, or the Canadian Maynard Ferguson or the Oregonian Doc Severinson. Or Al Hirt. Or Allen Vizzutti. Or Bobby Shew. If one takes a serious look at the jazz scene today, it is more acceptable to the general public than ever, it is technically masterful, and it has been able to draw in many other influences, such as classical, to the jazz genre. I am surprised that Wynton Marsalis, “the last great hope to jazz”, was never mentioned in this film as having spent a number of years of his life playing mostly in the classical genre before migrating solely to jazz. Surely he has also brought a classical influence with him? Is it that jazz by necessity must come from the NY night club scene with primarily African-American performers?

Deficits aside, I learned much through the series, and would hope that others watch this series. It is hard to dislike any of the Ken Burns series. This is no exception to that rule.

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