Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Wow. I haven't had internet access or cell phone service for a long time. I meant to post one of these summaries in Lake Isabella, but the trail angels that took us there were only staying for a limited time (and my phone died). So this will definitely be a longer post.

6/13: (3.4 miles) Yeah, today was a Nero. I spent most of the day in Tehachapi and intended to start hiking around 7pm to avoid the relentless desert sun. But I didn't get a ride to the trail until around 8:30 (just after sunset). I hiked until around 10 but stopped because I was tired (not "exhausted tired" but "sleepy tried"). As I set up my tent by headlamp one of my stakes nearly broke (I was pounding it with a rock and the stake struck a rock). The stake was still usable, but now had sharp metal edges that could cut the guy lines. Fortunately I still had some cell service and ordered two more online from REI to my next resupply.

6/14: (23.2 miles) aimed to make up for yesterday's Nero and hit a PR today! Hiked the rest of the 16 miles to the water source then "cameled-up" for the next one (another 18 miles away). Lots of long desert hiking today and ended up hiking somewhat into the night. Not much else interesting to say about today.

6/15: (15.8 miles) slow day today. Started out very sore and frustrated (the sun woke me up by heating up my tent and that's never a good start to a day. Hiked immediately up a hill with no shade but was greeted at the top by some nice forest! Up and down a couple more hills for the rest of the day and every time started down the hill as a great forest jaunt. Just before I made it to the next water source I met up with Gummy Bear and we camped at a campground that night

6/16: (22 miles) another section of up and downs today (we are starting the sierras after all) but the worst was the sun exposure. Every now and then there were patches of trees for shade but few and far inbetween. Lunch time was under a Joshua Tree that somewhat provided respite from the sun. 3 of us cowered under the tree. We jumped from water cache to water cache today (water bottles left by the trail courtesy of trail angels) with no guarantee that they would be stocked. But they fortunately were. Walked through lots of remains of a recent flash flood (sometimes 3ft deep ravines filled with rocks and sticks that cut through the trail).

6/17: (20.5 miles) Started off the day with a large uphill (did it at 6:30am to avoid the sun). Soon reached a junction to Yellow Jacket Spring (no Yellow Jackets), left my pack, and hiked 0.75 miles downhill to get a liter of water. Wasn't too hard, but had to hike back up that hill and that declared the little journey: not worth it. From then till lunch I was not in the mood for hiking (have I mentioned I hate the desert?) but convinced myself to carry on till about halfway before stopping for lunch. After lunch it was mostly a big downhill into Walker Pass where Trail Angels Rick and Rita took another hiker and me to their house for the night. She immediately cooked us plenty of spaghetti and we were stuffed! Also passed a major milestone- less than 2000 miles left to Canada!

6/18: (5.5 miles) Today we got blueberry pancakes for breakfast (yay for trail angels!). We made a stop at the Walker Pass campground with the trail angels to check the water cache and saw Matt and Lisa there! They joined us on the way to Onyx, where I picked up my boxes (tent stakes and a resupply) before we headed all the way to Lake Isabella (a much bigger town). I spent the rest of the time at the McDonald's eating McFlurrys and using the WiFi until my phone died (there wasn't anywhere to charge it there). Matt's boots are too small so they stayed in Lake Isabella and will try to find a place to get bigger boots. I headed out from Walker Pass Campground (saw a coyote just as I was leaving!) around 7pm and made it about 5.5 miles to a flat spot and decided the next feasible flat spot would be way too far away (around 6 miles).

6/19: (24.1 miles) again making up for the Nero of the day before. This is a new PR! Also a bunch of cool things happened today. First, I passed the 25% mark (I'm now closer to halfway than to Mexico!), then got to Joshua Tree spring and drank Uranium water (it's got more than the "safe" amount, but ok if you aren't drinking it all the time), then saw a bear on the trail about 100' away from me (it ran down the hillside through the brush as soon as I realized it was a bear)! Today had lots of big uphills and downhills in the sun, but I made it to Chimney Creek which had lots of clear, cool water. [Apparently something weird happened when trying to check in this night. Not sure what]

6/20: (21.4 miles) Kennedy Meadows! One of the most renowned names on the trail. After a brutal uphill in the heat and an even more brutal downhill (the downhill had no trees) I finally made it to the South Fork of the Kern River where I stopped for a bit to read and refill water bottles (some people took swims and such in the river). I was able to make it all the way to Kennedy Meadows and finally got to the General Store around 8pm. Made some dinner from hiker box Mac n Cheese (sketch- but it was fine) and hammocked on the porch because I was too tired to set up my tent.

6/21: (10.4 miles) Hung out at the store most of the day. No cell service, WiFi, etc and the pay phone wasn't working. Got my bear canister, ice axe, and some new trekking poles! Was able to trade my bear canister for a smaller, lightweight one (1 lb less) with the General Store. Also sent my ice axe back home because there is next to no snow on the Sierras right now. Had M&M pancakes for breakfast courtesy of the store's kitchen (and later I had a pretty decent burger too). Laundry and showers were spendy and not very good quality so I decided to skip it (besides- I had just taken a shower a couple days ago at a trail angel's). Headed out around 5:45pm aiming to avoid making today a Nero (again "Near-Zero": meaning single-digit miles for me)- and success! But that success meant getting in to camp at 10:45pm or so. Lots of glowing eyes staring at me through the forest but after lots of shouting at them I realized they were deer.

6/22: (18.1 miles) The meadow immediately outside my campsite was beautiful! Beck Meadow, I think (I wonder if Rebecca noticed that). Hiked today up a very steep hill to over 10,600 feet! The highest we've been so far on the PCT! The trek up was tough and took nearly all day. Downhill was much better and for the next couple of hours everywhere looked like a great campsite! I meant to do a couple more miles but ended up camping in Death Canyon where about 20 other hikers were also camping.

6/23: (~17 miles) In the Sierras, the mornings are always very cold (around 40°). This makes it harder to get up in the morning, but it's much better than having the sun beating down on your tent at 6:30am. Once I got all my stuff packed up I headed out around 8:20am (almost before anyone else left camp). It was more uphill back to 10,600 or so, but this time not as steep. More downhill again and we reached Diaz Creek where the next water of the day was. Because it was about 9 miles in, I had lunch here and just hung out for about 2.5 hours while other hikers showed up. About 4 miles later and the PCT met a trail junction to leave the trail and head to Lone Pine. Unfortunately, civilization's a ways away and it was about 4 miles of trail to the nearest parking lot, then 20-some miles that I hitched (all the way down the Sierras into Owen's Valley). I got to the Whitney Portal Hostel around 6:45pm or so and was finally able to catch up on some emails!


  1. Bear spray. It's the thing to carry.


  2. Sounds like one of the best parts is meeting the trail angels. That is pretty cool that there are all those who do that.