Trail Logs for June 1 through June 30, 2001
June 1 7:00 AM. Same place as last night. North of Sonora Pass, CA.
What a way to start a new month! This morning I'm still exhausted, so I'll take some extra rest time. I can only push the body so hard. I guess the miles and the 6-hour nights are catching up to me. A look in the mirror shows the "sunken eye" look of the over-trained endurance athlete. I've been calling on my stress hormones too much to get me through the day. Eventually those run out. The body won't operate above "red-line" forever.
June 1 9:00 PM. Wolf Creek, Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, California.
A tough day. I started hiking at 10 AM and the snow down the north side of Sonora Peak was rotten. My calf slabs are not getting a chance to heal. Plus, my tiredness is not just overuse. I have some sort of virus. I haven't felt like eating much and I've had an upset stomach and a bit of a headache. No fun. Still, I'm 22 miles closer to Echo Lake, where I'm expected Saturday night. No way It's 53 miles from here! Even if I felt good that would be impossible. But Carson Pass is "only" 40, so maybe I can get to a phone late tomorrow if I feel good again. Big if. I have improved throughout the day, so maybe.
June 2 9:30 PM. Lost Lakes Spur Road, CA.
Another tough day, but at least I walked the whole day and got in 31 miles. I'm now overdue at Echo Lake. I sure hope there's a phone at Carson Pass in the morning, or I'm going to appear in Echo Lake almost a day late. There's nothing I can do, though. I'm doing the best that I can with this virus. It's getting better, but I still didn't like eating today. I'm a little nauseous, still.
There's still quite a wind blowing, too. Coming over "The Nipple" at dusk was a potential hypothermia experience. 40's with a 70 mph wind! I wore everything I've got and was okay.
June 3 9:00 PM. Echo Lake Resort, California.
This morning I woke up feeling very bad again. The seven miles to Carson Pass took over 3 hours. I just had no energy. So I stopped at Carson Pass for a couple hours. I called home and found out that Maya was NOT waiting for me at Echo Lake as planned. That had fallen through. That was a great relief as it is one less thing to worry about right now. I also found out the PCTA Executive Director, Bob Ballou, had been to Carson Pass yesterday to see me! If I'd been on schedule, he would have been there at the right time, too. But I missed him too bad. But he left some delicious cookies, which I ate immediately. So the rest, the cookies and some nice conversation with the Forest Service volunteers at Carson Pass made me feel much better. I even decided to walk another 15 miles here to Echo Lake. I felt pretty good but not great, so I'm still planning to take time off here. My latest theory about what's wrong with me is that it's just lost appetite. When I choke down food or take time to eat slowly while resting, I feel pretty good for a while.
June 5 5:30 AM. Value Inn, South Lake Tahoe, CA.
Despite it being a layover day, yesterday was pretty busy. I picked up my resupply box at Echo Lake at 9 AM and hitched into South Lake Tahoe. I found the Value Inn near a laundromat and pizza place, so I knew it was the place. I settled in and found my room phone wouldn't work. So I've been making calls from the pay phone down the street. I took a shower, bought some food at Taco Bell and took it and my laundry to the laundromat. When the food was gone and the laundry done, I picked up a pizza on the way back to my room, where I camped out for a while eating and sleeping. I had another attack of lethargy and lack of appetite while lying in bed! This time I noticed my heart racing a bit. Very strange. It passed in an hour or so and I got some ice cream to celebrate.
Maya from the San Jose Mercury News arrived about 9 PM and we talked until 10:30 PM. We'll resume this morning.
June 5 9:30 PM. Desolation Wilderness, CA.
I'm back on the trail again and feeling much better so far. When I ate some of the trail mix left over from the last section, it tasted bad. The peanuts, I think, have a problem. It would sure explain my problems if I've been "poisoning" myself with some food. It's also true that the times I've really felt like I couldn't eat another bite were just after eating the trail mix. Snickers Bars and other stuff always went down more easily. I'm going to try to avoid the trail mix for a while, and if I run out of other food, try the new bag first.
The interview with Maya and the photo shoot with Joanne, both from the San Jose Mercury News, went very well today. Of course, it felt strange to be the subject of such interest, but as a "new experience", it was not too bad. I hope they got what they need for an article. It was certainly a pleasure working with them.
June 6 9:00 PM. Near Granite Chief, Squaw Valley, CA.
Today I discovered another one of the most beautiful sights on the trail. A cooler with my name on it! Thanks to Captain Chaos, PCT Class of 2000, I had a mighty tasty lunch today. The Odwalla O.J. lasted about 10 seconds, followed quickly by the brownies and a Heineken. A couple hours later I had the Coke and cookie and a Snickers. I'm saving another Heineken, the apples and a Nutrageous for tomorrow. Thanks Chris!
It was good timing, too. Earlier I started eating some trail mix left over from the previous section. But unlike the last few days, there was very little wind today, so I could smell the bad peanuts. It seems I've been getting sick on spoiled peanuts! It was always the one thing I couldn't choke down. If I had any taste buds I'd have noticed the problem earlier. So I believe I've solved the appetite problem. I'm just embarrassed that it took so long. And, the extra food from the cooler will make up for the trail mix I tossed. (In the cooler.)
June 7 9:15 PM. Mt. Lacey, north of Interstate 80, CA.
It was another flawless day weatherwise. I hope I don't start taking this for granted. The notable milestone today was crossing Interstate 80. I believe it's the only road that crosses all three trails. I also think of it as the symbolic halfway point on the PCT, although the actual spot is well north of here.
June 8 9:30 PM. Sierra Buttes, California.
Today I resupplied in Sierra City. Waiting for me at the post office was a letter from my friend and bridge partner, Bob French. It was good to hear from him, but you better get out and play more bridge! At least I have an excuse for getting rusty!
Also at the post office were packages from Glen Van Peski and Read Miller. They generously offered me free gear at the PCT kickoff party and this was the delivery.
Glen's personally made custom G4 pack is a real beauty. I didn't want to get it dirty, but that's what it's for. This is a lower volume model designed to fit my summer gear with no slop. After 7 miles this afternoon, 3,500 feet up the Sierra Buttes, it's working great. Good size, good fit, and comfortable. But I guess you can't trust my G4 reviews any more now that I'm sponsored. Ho-ho.
I've been wearing Read Miller's Moonstone Cyrrus since the kickoff party and love it, but now I've got "one of my own" with a full-length zipper. Many thanks to Glen and Read for being a part of my big adventure.
So, now that I save 1.5 pounds on the backpack itself and have sent home my ice axe, rain chaps, wind jacket and a big stack of old maps, I'm about 3 pounds lighter. I've still got everything I need to stay warm down well below freezing but my base pack weight is 11-12 pounds without the variable food and water weight. That should help the average mileage!
June 9 9:00 PM. Fowler Peak Trailhead, Plumas National Forest, CA.
A good day, light pack, excellent trail and some new resolve netted me 38 miles today! I made it from the Sierra Buttes to the rim of the Middle Fork of the Feather River. There was very little snow on the trail and more pine needles than rocks so the feet felt good. I've been "resting up" a little since the tough days in the high Sierra and the bad peanut problem, but now I'm feeling good again, so it's time to push a little harder and see what happens.
June 10 9:30 PM. Mt. Pleasant, Bucks Lake Wilderness, CA.
Today's surprise was a visit by David Paulson, one of two guys who attempted the PCT yoyo last year. For those unfamiliar, a "yoyo" is a double thru-hike from Mexico to Canada and back! It's been attempted numerous times since 1996 or earlier but no one has completed it. The key is getting back through the Sierra Nevada before winter sets in. David got back to Tuolumne Meadows last year. Scott Williamson, who has made something like 5 attempts, got to Vermilion Valley, which is just a few days from success.
Scott got married this year and will make no further attempts, and David says he won't either, so the field is open for newcomers. Any takers? Ironically, this year would have been the best conditions in many years, but no one is making the attempt that I'm aware of.
It's interesting to note that the remainder of my Triple Crown attempt boils down to a hike very similar to the PCT yoyo. The current part is identical hike the PCT northbound as early and quickly as possible. But rather than return on the PCT, I have to "return" on the CDT, where the San Juan's of southern Colorado are a similarly placed late-season barrier quite comparable to the Sierra Nevada. So every day counts during the summer.
June 11 9:00 PM. Cold Springs, Lassen National Forest, CA.
Resupply at Belden was the priority today. I did that sandwiched between a 4,000-foot descent into town and a 5,000-foot climb back out. I guess that's the way the mind is, but I'd forgotten just how far down it really is to Belden! The area looks different his year after last year's Storrie Fire. Both sides of the Feather River were affected. There are now lots of dead snags around. Sad.
June 12 North Fork Feather River, CA.
Tonight I'm camping with PCT hikers! Zea and Kermit are here. I last saw them near Big Bear City. They are hurrying to get to a summer camp in the Trinity Alps on time so they skipped the high Sierra. They were expecting me to come by at some time but I was sure surprised to see them! A nice surprise, though. I have someone to walk with today and camp with tonight. It's very nice to have some kindred spirits to talk with, too. They have homemade packs and very light equipment, so we have lots in common to talk about.
Today was also the halfway point on the PCT. "Just" 1,330-something miles to go!
June 14 10:00 PM. Rock Spring Creek, CA.
I made it to Old Station yesterday and was so busy eating and sleeping that I forgot to write. That happens sometimes when I'm at a motel. My routine is disrupted.
Dave at the store was really talkative, which is just fine with me when I'm coming off the trail. Since the café was closed, I also ate dinner from the store. Six hotdogs heated in the microwave, plus a Klondike Bar. Not too bad. Breakfast was 2 peaches, 2 breakfast burritos and a pint of Haggen Das vanilla ice cream. Yum!
The best part about the motel was the long bath. I scrubbed the grime out of the callouses on my feet with my toothbrush. Now THERE'S multiple use for you! My feet felt much better today now that there's less grit grinding away in the cracks of my callouses. I put duct tape over the cracks to slow down the return of the dirt.
It worked well enough to get me 33-1/2 miles today in 12 short hours. I got a late start in Old Station but still made it through the 30 waterless miles on the Hat Creek Rim. It was hotter today than usual, perhaps 90's in the sun, but 5 liters of water lasted all day. I got into camp just as it got dark, but I could still see the skunk checking me out. I chased him off, but I can still smell him out there. I hope I don't get any more visits tonight. The mosquitoes are bad enough.
Because my dad mentioned it to me this morning, I notice Mars in the southern sky tonight. It is near Scorpio and very bright because it's near opposition. (Opposite the sun.) It's also interesting to note that it's currently much brighter than Antares, the bright red star in Scorpio. Antares gets its name from an old name for Mars, Ares. Antares is the "rival of Mars", literally. Right now the rivalry is running in Mars' favor. When Mars is farther away from the Earth, the two can be similarly bright.
June 15 9:30 PM. Red Mountain, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, CA.
I resupplied in Burney Falls State Park today. The falls there always amaze me. All that water emerges from springs within half a mile of the falls! That's a LOT of potable spring water! I had a couple hotdogs and Frostie cones at the concession there while I opened my box. The whole operation took about 1-1/2 hours, so I was able to hike just over 30 miles today.
At Baum Lake I saw a couple of the Ospreys that nest there. One was diving for a fish while the other one was diving after the first, trying to chase it off. They can really fly well. An amazing sight.
June 16 9:30 PM. Ash Camp, McCloud River, CA.
35 miles today. I ran a little because my feet were feeling good. It felt great to run, but now my feet hurt again. I guess running is out of the question when doing 200+ miles per week.
I don't know the exact numbers, but I've hiked about 3,670 miles so far. That puts me over the halfway mark! And the year's not half over yet. That's awfully good but this is far from in the bag yet. It's the summer months that count and I need all the summer days I can find. At the current rate I'll finish Colorado in very late September. That may or may not be before the snow starts falling in earnest. Guess I've got to keep pushing for big mile days while the weather is good.
June 18 6:30 AM. Site 25, Castle Crags State Park Campground, CA.
I got in last night and got dinner at Ammarati's Market. They have some good burritos plus the usual snacks and stuff. I had ice cream for dessert.
At Site 25, which is reserved for PCT hikers, I met two other guys. Jeff is hiking south from Ashland for a month and a half. He hopes to make it to Tuolumne Meadows. He has already hiked the AT and every PCT section north of here. Boomer is a day hiker who hiked to Indian Springs yesterday. He has a bad back that limits him to a couple hours on the trail, but he loves hiking enough to put up with the pain. He'd love to be able to thru-hike, but he was visibly stiff and sore from his hike. Once again I'm reminded how lucky I am to be able to do this. My aches and pains are nothing compared to his.
June 18 10:20 PM. Near White Ridge, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, CA.
By hiking fast and late, I got in 28 miles in spite of a 10:30 AM start and a 4,500-foot climb out of the Sacramento River Canyon. It was another hot day in the sun, 90's perhaps, so hiking fast took a lot of water. Still, the best time to push hard is on an otherwise short day. Hopefully I can get about 6 hours sleep and get an early start tomorrow.
June 19 9:30 PM. Trinity Alps Wilderness, CA.
If I could skip resupply towns altogether, I'd be doing better on mileage. 37 today! But towns are a fact of trail life. It turns out the Castella stop was expensive for me time-wise. It seemed nice at the time, but I believe my schedule assumed that I'd spend less time in town. I had no choice because I had to wait for the Post Office to open Monday morning, but I wasted a couple hiking hours Sunday night and five more on Monday. That's half a day and at least 15 miles. Those miles would have come on food carried from the previous section, so the current food wouldn't have to last as long. As it is, I have four days food to hike 156 miles! And, I only did 28 the first day. Clearly, I'm going to need most of a fifth day. Fortunately, I always have a little extra food, and I bought a few goodies at the market, so I probably have enough. But I'm going to fall behind a little more because of this, when I was trying to catch up. And I had to figure for a while how the food plan could be so wrong. I spent a lot of time getting it right.
Much of today's hike was south or southwest. Obviously, I'm not getting any closer to Canada that way, but the trail here takes a wide circuit around Mt. Shasta to avoid its lava flows, and getting to the Trinity Alps is almost a backtrack. It sure was hard to do all those miles in the "wrong" direction.
June 20 10:00 PM. Near Etna Summit, Klamath National Forest, CA.
This appears to be the same spot that my dad camped in on 7/19/99. That's quite a coincidence considering we both stealth camp in tiny inconspicuous spots. But I'm using the same maps he did and we mark our camp spots. This looks like the same place to me. It's the only flat spot without big rocks in it in this area. Mileage today was 36 miles. Not bad at all considering the terrain. But today is nearly if not exactly the longest day of the year. The sky is still noticeably light at 10 PM. First light is around 4 AM. That's quite a change from the 14-hour nights I had in January! Also, it's 61 degrees right now. That's warm enough that the ants are still active, so I'll be crawling with them for a while as I sleep. Believe it or not, it doesn't bother me that much any more. At least they're not after blood like the mosquitoes, ticks and some flies.
June 21 10:00 PM. Buckhorn Spring, Marble Mountains Wilderness, CA.
34 miles today despite my feeling lethargic. Maybe I'm making a breakthrough to higher mileage. This certainly isn't easy terrain. It will be interesting to see what I can do in the flatter parts of Oregon.
I saw a large buck with velvet on his antlers. At least 3 points per antler, not including the eye guards. It's just barely summer, but the deer are getting ready for the fall rut already.
I met a couple hikers on the trail today. I was talking to the first when the second guy arrived. I didn't get their names, but the second guy knew who I was from the website. He also was carrying a CatStove, which is designed by my dad. Very small world. He loves the light weight and simplicity of the homemade alcohol stove. Low cost is also a factor for him.
June 22 10:00 PM. Upper Devil's Peak, 8 miles north of Seiad Valley, CA.
I got another surprise visit today! My friends Kris Bunya, David Tabuchi, Frank Rosenblum and Josh Martin drove up from the Bay area and met me on the road as I was walking in to Seiad Valley. I had heard that David might try to meet me at Hyatt Lake, but it was otherwise a complete surprise. They fed me lunch and really picked up my spirits. I've been feeling a little down lately but their presence really picked up my energy level.
And I'm sure I would have spent more time relaxing in Seiad Valley if they hadn't been there to keep me on track. I really didn't feel like heading up the big hill in 90-degree heat at 5 PM but they got me started and I felt fine after that. They'll also meet me at a road crossing tomorrow as they are up here for the weekend.
Today will be my last camp in the state of California. The weather has been awesome, 57 days and I've not set up the tarp even once! I've also calculated that the 1,700 California miles are about 23 percent of the Triple Crown. There are 21 other states making up the other 77 percent. What a big state!
It's been a while getting planned and scheduled, but it now seems definite that a writer and photographer from Sports Illustrated will meet me on the trail for an interview! I'm certainly flattered that a magazine of that caliber is interested in my hike. I guess thru-hiking is getting popular enough to get noticed in the mainstream press. I hope that the exposure will bring more people who love the National Scenic Trails system into the fold. We need all the help we can get to establish and protect the trail corridors and maintain the tread. Anyone who would like to get involved should join one or more of the trail associations. Information on the Appalachian Trail Conference can be found at www.atconf.org.. The Pacific Crest Trail Association is at www.pcta.org, and the Continental Divide Trail Society is at www.gorp.com/cdts. I'm a member of all three.
June 23 10:00 PM. Sheep Camp Spring, Siskiyou Mountains, Oregon.
Oregon at Last! After 57 days and 1,700 miles, a new state. And it's cloudy enough to consider the tarp, but I haven't put it up yet.
Josh, Frank, David and Kris met me here with pizza after I hiked 33 miles. Heavenly! They even had a cell phone so I could check on my friend Brooke at the Western States 100 mile endurance run that's going on this very minute. Unfortunately she dropped out at the 26-mile point. She injured her knee late in training and could not run well. She tried to run anyway a valiant effort, but to no avail. It is nice to be able to know exactly what's happening even out here in the wilderness. But I'm disappointed for her. She trained long and hard to get in shape for this only to be denied. Ouch. As the saying goes, "Next year."
June 24 9:45 PM. The fenced spring on Pilot Rock jeep road, Oregon.
Welcome to Oregon, now set up the tarp! After not using it at all in California, I'm under the tarp tonight in only my 2nd night in Oregon. Last night I probably should have set it up also, but I got lucky. The rain held off until after I broke camp. A short while later it was snowing! Wow! This is late June and it was cold and windy all day. What a difference a state makes!
But Oregonians are a tough bunch. It's Sunday and I saw about a dozen day-hikers out today. They didn't seem to mind the weather at all. I guess that's where I get it from. Though raised in sunny California, I'm a born Oregonian. We Oregonians have webbed feet! So the weather didn't slow me down any. 33 miles today.
June 25 10:00 PM. Burton Butte, Rogue River National Forest, OR.
This was resupply day at Hyatt Lake Resort. That's where my four friends stayed when they visited over the weekend. It appears they were busy "decorating" my resupply box as a birthday surprise. It was completely covered in pictures of swimsuit models! I guess they figure that a 40-year-old hiker-hermit like me needs to be reminded what the fairer sex looks like. Well my 40-year-old brain cells are not THAT far gone! They also left me a few gag gifts like some fake Viagra, a funny birthday card and some money to buy a meal at the resort. The funny part about the money is, that knowing how I count ounces, the cash was a large pile of change and some one-dollar bills. The even funnier part is that the resort café was closed today, so I have to carry the cash to Crater Lake to use it! Very funny guys!
I also found out that the article for which Maya interviewed me at Echo Lake appeared in the San Jose Mercury this morning. The real surprise was that it appeared on the front page! Wow. My dad read me the entire article over the phone; Maya did an excellent job. She really did her homework, got a lot of good quotes from a lot of people, got all her facts straight and managed to keep from making me sound like a freak. Nice job, Maya.
It rained some more today and I've got the tarp set up again tonight. That may slow down my planned early start tomorrow, especially if it's raining then, but I'm going to try to hike 40 miles on my 40th birthday. I'll cut it short if I don't feel up to it, but I'm hoping I'll feel okay.
June 26 10:00 PM. Devil's Peak-Lee Peak Saddle, Sky Lakes Wilderness, OR.
It took from twilight to twilight, but I got my birthday 40 miles in! It was far from easy, but I don't think I've strained anything either. Tomorrow will tell.
It rained long and hard today, turning the trail into a string of puddles and dampening my spirits a bit. But I came upon a group descending from Mt. McLaughlin who recognized me as a thruhiker, so we stopped and talked. When I mentioned it was my 40th birthday today they all sang me Happy Birthday! That was awfully nice of complete strangers and it picked me up quite a lot.
Another milestone is that I'm very close to the 4,000-mile point in my hike. Lots of 40's today! For my birthday dinner I'm having spaghetti. But I seem to have lost the sauce, so it just has olive oil and Parmesan. Actually it's not bad, but I am hungry.
June 27 7:30 PM. Crater Lake, Crater Lake National Park, OR.
I'm here with Chris Ballard, Cory and Pierre from Sports Illustrated. We're taking pictures of my camping setup and I'm demonstrating what I'd be doing in camp writing in my journal while cooking dinner. It's raining hard right now and they're out in the rain, but I'm dry under my tarp.
I got here about 3:30 PM and found that the Post Office closed at 3:00! Ouch. But we have all afternoon and until 9 AM tomorrow to do the interview. And I can always use a few hours off my feet. I'll be in a motel tonight instead of out in this rain, too. Fortunately it's forecasted for clearing tomorrow. Finally!
June 28 9:45 PM. Mt. Thielsen, OR.
Well, the guys from Sports Illustrated are gone. They hiked 17 miles with me today from the Rim Lodge to Hwy 138. Of course they weren't carrying as much as I was, but I was very pleased that they could easily keep up with me. In fact, they pushed me along at a faster than normal pace, allowing me to cover 33 miles after a 9:45 AM start. Corey, the photographer, and Pierre, his assistant, were working especially hard running ahead to find a good shot and taking pictures as I walked by. Chris was able to take notes while walking and we all had a very nice, cool and cloudy day with no rain. It's clearing tonight, but I still set up the tarp just in case.
Crater Lake was as beautiful as ever. And the rain clouds we've had actually made for some dramatic photo opportunities. The rapidly changing light, though, kept Corey busy changing exposure settings.
Overall, the interview process was a lot of fun. The guys were great and it certainly passed the time quickly.
June 29 10:00 PM. Diamond Peak Wilderness, OR.
The mosquitoes are back! Especially around Summit Lake they were abundant, but even here, a couple miles out into a somewhat drier area, they're bad enough to eat dinner with a head net on.
It was another mostly sunny day so I'm not setting up the tarp tonight in spite of the clouds that remain. The moon and some stars are visible, so I'm hopeful it will be a nice night.
35 miles today after a late 8:00 AM start. This is a relatively easy "Oregon" stretch of the trail.
June 30 9:30 PM. Between Brahma and Jezebel Lakes, Three Sisters Wilderness, OR.
41 miles today in 15-1/2 hours! Love this Oregon section! Soft, flat and fast. It also goes north.
I saw a south-bounder today named Joel. He has a Scottish accent and is hiking from Stehekin to Walker Pass. That's almost 2,000 miles of the PCT and almost all of the northern part, so I'll probably start seeing a few more south-bounders soon! He was certainly surprised to see a northbounder so soon.
Even though I've hiked this section twice before in '97 and '99, I saw a new view today. North and Middle Sisters, Mt. Washington and Mt. Jefferson were visible from Diamond Peak. The other times I've been there it was clouding up or raining.
The mosquitoes are still thick here. They helped keep me moving all day.
BANNER PEAK IN THE MORNING LIGHT
ALONG THE TUOLUMNE RIVER BETWEEN TUOLUMNE MEADOWS AND GLEN AULEN