Sunday, June 7, 2015

The other day while sitting with a friend, he began questioning me about my adventures on foot. I began trying to find the words of describing a beautiful place I had been , when he interrupted me. He asked, "Does anything bad ever happen to you out there?" I thought for a second, then with a bit of a chuckle, I replied.
"Well,, I have had contracted Guardia and other water born illnesses several times. I once fell down a snow chute just three before completing and busting up my tailbone and tore all the skin off both elbows and arms. I cracked myself in the head by a low lying branch, and woke up an hour later, not knowing where I was. I have walked on more blisters than I can count, some the size of golfballs, only to have them turn to infections because I could not stop walking. I have lost all of my toenails, most, multiple times. I have been cut, scraped and bruised almost daily. I have walked thousands of miles with bummed knees, swollen angles and feet, shin splints, torn muscles and ligaments, and had to eat advil like m&m's. I have been lost, hot, cold, thirsty, starved, or lonely, one of which, most of the time. Walked countless miles with ass rash or some other form of chafing. Been chased by dogs, bulls, bees and venomous snakes. Faced down bears, lions and drunks. I have been stopped by cops, detained by sheriffs, and held at gunpoint by crazy land owners. I have been yelled at by passing cars to get a life, job or haircut. Been told not to panhandle in front of the post office, or shower in the sprinklers. I have been kicked out of buffets for eating too much and hanging out into the meal change. I have lost my phone, maps, cash, credit cards, meds, hats, sunglasses, tent stakes and many other things that keep me walking safely."
And then he interrupted me with, "WTF, why the hell do you do it?" And I thought once again and could only come up with' "Because its fun..."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

   I just spent a better part of a week out on the PCT, hiking section A and B. I really had no plans other than just hopping onto the trail and hiking with a friend [super classy]. She had started at the Mexican Border and was in the beginning of her dream of hiking the entire PCT.
   I parked my truck at Barrel Springs and hiked South, knowing she was hiking North in the San Felipe Hills. It was not long before I saw her just below the High Point. We united and began hiking North. She seemed to be doing well and was very cheery. The sky was clear and the temperature was nice in cool. Considering we were in one of the warmest stretches in the entire trail, it was nice. We met  up with some other hikers at Barrel Springs, ate some food and pushed onward. We ended up camping in a nice Oak grove.
   The next morning was very pleasant. We passed some very inquisitive cows, took pictures at Eagle Rock and talked a lot on our way into the Warner Springs Community Center. At the center we had breakfast, rummaged through the hiker boxes and I got a ride to Barrel Springs to retrieve my truck. We stopped by my favorite Oak Tree on the PCT and took some pictures. Later that evening we continued on and camped along Caliente Creek.
       The next morning I knew that it was time for me to move on and start hiking my happy pace. I told [SC] that I would be doing this, and she said that she figured so. I put in my head phones and began zoning out and crushed some miles. Before long I was coming over the high point and was shocked to see how much the area is beginning regrow after the last fire. I have always been concerned in that area, for it has been years since the fire and it just never seemed to regenerate. But it is finally starting to show promise.
   I saw lots of hikers along this stretch and eventually stopped at Mike Herrera's, where Kennedy Meadows Tom was holding down the fort. This was the first time in all the years that I took the time to actually walk to the home. In the past there was always a water cache at the road crossing, and no reason to go over to the water tanks or the house. Tom cooked some cheeseburgers, We exchanged some conversations and I made my way back out into the desert for some much needed miles.
   The temperature had warmed up, but it was short lived as the evening began to take fold. This stretch has always been among my favorites along Southern California. The Anza Desert is very much alive along the Tule Canyon Area. Upon reaching the Tule Tank, I showered and shaved under the water hose. I cleaned all my clothes as well as my socks and headed back out into the evening. The sun down was extraordinary.
   I walked into the night and had one of the best night hikes in a very long time. I ended up finding a secluded camp on a rock outcropping. The stars were remarkable and I laid awake for hours reminiscing of the many star lit nights I have had. Things were quite humbling and I eventually fell asleep to the sound of the distant coyotes and nearby owls.
Upon the first hint of light, I was quickly dressed and heading for the Paradise Cafe. I was not surprised to find the Anza Cache fully stocked, and nicely organized. But I was completely surprised to find Mary's Cache a 100 feet off the trail. This cache had picnic benches, a small library, coolers full of soda and fruit, a separate box with food and a couple of seperate regesters. One regester in particular was her attempt to politically gather everyones opinion of caches. This is a nice oasis for the weary traveler, but putting so much comfort along a trail, just continues to bite away at our wilderness experience. But I drank a soda and pushed on to Paradise Cafe without leaving any negative words in her register.       
I walked into Paradise Cafe in the late morning hours. I was greeted by several hikers, most getting ready to hitch around the fire closure and the others preparing to connect their footsteps from Mexico to Canada, by walking a shorter detour. I sat around there for a while and had a chicken salad. Super Classy showed up first from the people I saw from the previous day, and then one by one the others began to pour in. After a lengthy stay, I chugged down a chocolate shake, and headed back out into the afternoon sun.
Not long after I was back on trail, I began to run into more of the previous hikers that I had already met. One by one I continued to cross paths with hikers.
Back at Mary's cache, as the sun was going down, I began looking for a site to camp in, but the whole are looked like a toilet due to all the toilet paper lying around. I went ahead and pushed on to the famous rock cropping camp spots. Along the way, there was a tent set up in every wash and clearing. I was not surprised to find the rock cropping to be full of tents as well. I passed the Anza cache and found a spot up above off trail a bit.
It was another great sunset, as well as a very dark and star lit night. It was not long before I heard the voices of others, another reminder of how many people are hiking the PCT.
The next morning I was up before dawn and passed several tents on my way int Tule Canyon. I saw a coyote, and a large white owl. The morning was cool for the first 7 miles to the Tule Tank. I greeted several late sleepers and took a shower under the hose again. One of the girls there, who was dressed in filthy white and tan desert clothes could not believe I would get soaked under the hose when the air was still cool. But, I just looked at her and said that she would end up with rashes and chafing if she did not start cleaning herself. She thought I was crazy and I departed laughing.
After a pleasant but warm 10 mile climb up to Mikes house, I scooted into the shade for the most part of the rest of the day.I saw a couple repeat offenders, and my old business agent from my Union. He had retired and was now hiking the trail. He said he had been following my endeavors for years and was the biggest inspiration for his wife and he before their hike. His wife was now off trail, and he was living his dream alone. It was quite a humbling experience, and I hope to follow his progress.
I left into the dark and night hiked to the edge of Warner Valley, where I had signal and caught up with communicating with my friends and down loaded pictures onto FB. The next morning I was back at my truck by 7am, and back at home surfing by 11am. The PCT is still an amazing place but it is changing rapidly, and I am very grateful to have hiked it when I did. I have no desire in thru-hiking her for a few more years. It really makes me want to hike the CDT before it gets like this in the near future. So next year, I think that is what I will do.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Living in your filth...

   The internet is a funny place. When you get on one of these hiking pages and begin discussing hiking related topics, you get a whole barrage of comments and statements. Some are meant to be in humor, others are 2nd and 3rd hand knowledge and a few are hard learned lessons from seasoned hikers. It is a wonder that any new hiker can absorb the correct info and make the correct decision.
   There is one issue I see with a lot of hikers, [and some being seasoned] that opens up an entire can of worms with their entire healthy existence while living on the trail. Not only that, they take this issue and bring it to town and push it on the patrons who know nothing of Long Distance Hiking. The issue is "Living in you own filth".
   When I first started ramping up my miles and hiking longer distances, I began to have new issues. I would get blisters, chafing, rashes, and basically have a miserable time trying to make my way up a trail. Once you figure out all the little things related to your gear, clothing and foot wear, there should be no reason that these things should happen.
   When a person does not rinse the sweat and salt off their entire body, what begins to happen is the dust and dirt begins to stick, and the rubbing of your clothing, pack, and shoes, begin to tear at your skin. Also a lot of sicknesses people are experiencing is because they simply do not rinse daily or bi-daily.
   I understand that the water can be cold, but it is a small price to pay when your back side is chafing or your pack is rubbing against your skin. I see this a lot. People get these insane rashes on their backs, and blame all sorts of things, but I know from hard earned miles that they have not rinsed their shirt, pack or skin.
   Keeping clean on trail can be hard, but if you take the time and suffer the cold, it becomes routine, and the health benefit from it is unsurpassed. Not to mention, the seasoned hikers in general, sorta laugh at your filthy existence on trail.
   Wearing colorful clothes helps for hiding the dirt, and light solid clothes show the dirt more, but in reality, water rinsing without soap will get you many days of cleanliness till you can finally hit a laundry mat. I also suggest wearing polyesters rather than nylon [accept for socks] because of the rinsing abilities, and the fact that the finer thread patterns do not hold the dirt so well.
   Then there are the socks. There are all these new socks with warrantees and promises, but they do not do justice when it comes to the whole hiking package. The simple Nylon Dress sock is my choice because of several reasons. But the most important reason is because of its suburb rinsing abilities. They are thin and if your feet can not handle the lightweight sock at first, just put on a second pair. Eventually your feet will toughen up and it will be more comfortable, due to the breathing abilities of the sock. You will be able to clean them easily and always have a fresh pair. They are lighter, more durable, and cheaper than any other option. But most importantly, if you keep your feet clean, the dirt will not sand your feet to the point of sores or blisters.
   I have a little system I do when I want to keep up my daily miles and not sit around cleaning my clothes. I like to wash myself in 3rds. I will stop at a water source, move down stream, and rinse my top half, bottom half or my feet. Considering I will most likely run into 3 water sources that day, I will just divide it up. If the water source is near non existent, I just use my water bottle to rinse.
   I have seen problems related to "living in your filth" on every hike, but I figured it out myself several years ago. Sometimes I still fail to keep clean, and almost always, something painful begins to occur. Especially in cold climates when the icy water is not feeling good.
   If this begins to make sense to you, this may also help: I suggest All your clothing is thin and easily dry able. It is especially important to be able to rinse your clothing, and dry it out on the back of your pack. This will also help keep some clothing dry while its raining, so that you can crawl into your bag at night with dry clothes. I would test all your clothing before you depart on your journey, by soaking them in water then ringing them out. If they are still soaked, try finding something comparable, that dries a bit faster.
   I like using thin running shorts, or sometimes stretch surf trunks. I also like a thin button up dress shirt, both being 100% polyester. I also like tech shirts for added warmth and quality fleece when hiking in colder climates. I never like garmets of any type that hold water rather than repel water..

  Most hikers do not really care about this, but being a Male hiker who has hiked unknown trails to the public, cleanliness is very important to the public eye. Walking into a trailside restaurant or convenient store smelling and looking homeless, are bad for the entire thru-hiking community. It is not as bad in the towns where the majority of locals know what you are doing, but never the less, nobody wants to take their family out to dinner and be sat down next to a table full of thru-hikers.
  It does not take that much energy to clean yourself up as best as possible before you run into town. You will smell, look, and feel better.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Back in the water!

I injured my knee 2 1/2 years ago and it was too severe to surf for the 1st 6 months of the injury. I was more focused on healing it enough to walk 3000 miles along the Continental Divide Trail. But as soon as I was done with the CDT, I ended up working in the Bay Area, and just lost all desires to surf. The knee injury is still prevalent, but not as severe. Also I have been doing Cross Fit exercises and P90X workouts as well. My weight has dropped and not only has my overall condition improved, but so has my knee.
   So for the past few weeks my first true love has been calling me home, and Yesterday March 21st, I took the longboard out and road some waves. It was like riding a bike and I can not find the words to explain the wonderful feeling I felt inside knowing I could still surf well. I also went out today [the next morning] and it was smaller but cleaner. I had a couple of really good waves. There is nothing quite like a good day of surfing to lift your spirits and touch your soul. I think that surfing led me to hiking, for the solace and living in nature are very similar. Not to mention the healthy lifestyle.

Yosemite Run...

Now that I am in work mode, I have been focusing on staying in shape. So I have been in the gym after work and trail running as much as possible. Eating right though is most important and probably the hardest part. Not to mention I will soon be going in for a meniscus repair on April 30th. This bum knee has allowed me to hike, but not run long distances. I have not ran any Ultra Marathons in 2 1/2 years since I tore it. But anyways, I went for a 20 mile run with Catra in Yosemite up and over Yosemite Falls and atop North Dome, then down and out via Mirror lake. We had not even made into the park, before the ranger stopped us to tell us that he knew who Catra was. He said he read all about her in Runners World. And that is how it is to hang out with Catra. Not long after, we were greeted by fellow Ultra Runners, that joined in and ran the rest of the day with us. The weather was perfect and the falls were flowing nice.  It was a great day in the park. My knee held up pretty good, and we continued meeting other people who knew who Catra was along the way. It sort of reminded me of hiking with Scott Williamson. It was pretty cool, and I surely did not mind taking extra breaks.
We sure were a colorful bunch, and our conversations were great. But the day was just perfect, and I could not believe it was only mid March. We actually ran across a couple of small snow fields and the drinking water was great, [luckily, cause I dropped my water bottle from Yosemite Falls] yes I littered, But I bet someone picked it up for me. Doh....
We finished our run at Ahwahnee Lodge, where Mark told us a great story about a date he once took there! We supported trail trash everywhere with our pictures and went and had dinner in Curry Village. This unplanned spur of the moment trip was absolutely awesome! I hope we meet up and do it again.

Winter Road Trips

   I am in beginning stages of planning my next long haul across the country. Nothing is in concrete yet, but I am beginning to gather info, gear and supplies. One thing for sure though, I will be doing something a bit more extreme than any of my previous hikes, so I need to get the past 5 months Blogged, and begin again with my new adventure. 
   I will not be too detail about the past 5-6 months, but I will share enough to allow you all to understand why I have been too busy to catch up with these posts.
   In the beginning of October, I hiked some cross country routes to an old family secret spot, high in the Sierra, with a good friend Hippie Longstockings. We took a nice cross country route, that no matter how many times I have done it, it is always a challenge. The weather was perfect, and we had a great time talking and laughing all the way to my cherished spot high in a secluded basin, nestled away from popular trails. We never saw a single soul all the way in.
   After camping along the lake, we made our way down to the John Muir Trail to meet up with my good friend Scott Williamson. Now we were a trio, and the conversations went all day long as we made our way North. We met several South Bound PCT hikers, and because we were carrying so much food, we began Trail Angeling along the way. Especially Scott, for he was really carrying a lot of food. One hiker we met [Bloody Mary], will always stick out in my mind. She was a young vibrant girl that was about as cute as can be. I was stoked for her and her journey. And it was not the last we would see of  [Bloody Mary].
  We eventually made our way out of the Sierra, and all three of visited Sugar Momma Patty Cakes home in Mammoth, for a shower and great conversations. The next morning, we all split in different directions, accept for hippie and I, who continued down highway 395 for some Hot Springs adventuring. We really became pretty good friends, talking about trails, and adventures. I knew then that we would be hanging out some more, cause we just have too much in common and really like the same things.

   As soon as I arrived home in Huntington Beach, I was starving for some more hiking, so I took off again, this time solo on the PCT. I entered at windy gap [mile 400ish] and hiked south. Since I was alone, my pace was fast and my hiking times were long, [16hours+] I did not stay anywhere, just motored my way along to Idywild, where I exited at the trail closure. I did stop at Ziggy and the Bears for the first time in all these years. I never stopped in Anza where they use to host hikers, in all my PCT travels. It was just too far off trail. But their new place is right on trail, and in a great place to get out of the conditions. I met Trail Angel Tiff, who picked me up and took me to her home where I finally showered. I waited for Hippie to come retrieve me. 

    A few days later Hippie and I took off again for another road trip, and headed up the 395. It was really cold, so we decided to go to Death Valley where it would be warmer. Hippie has a great truck for car camping and she really has it set up well. She calls it princess camping, and I would have to agree, cause she is one organized individual. Her Truck is named Melissa, and she would end up hauling me 14 thousand miles in the next few months. 
   We really had a great time in Death Valley and also made our way to Ash Meadows Reserve. This place is absolutely amazing. It has so much water pouring out of the ground, that there actually use to be a lot of agriculture there at one time. But people realized that this was an unique ecosystem and turned it backwards into the place it once was before.
We spent most of the day just going from one spring to another, and then drove right into a path of big horn sheep. It was one of my favorite places in the Death Vally region that I have seen. We ended up back in Death Valley where we were blessed by a wonderful sunset and a great night of warm camping. Not until we stopped for poses on the Dante's Peak Trailhead.
 Well you would think that Hippie and I had enough fun to last the common person a year, but no, we were right back at it. My job had got pushed back a bit, so we hit the road again. This Time though, we took "Hot Tub".
   Hot tub, and I really hit it off. I had already hiked the CDT, and she was really interested in doing it this year, [and yes, she is currently in planning stages, and almost ready to start]. But before we got too far, I got Melissa stuck in the middle of the desert. I thought Hippie was going to kill me, but she was actually pretty cool about it. We got her out though, and we were off for our first hike [Turtle Head, outside Vegas]. This use to be my training climb when I worked in Vegas, and I was stoked to take them here.
As you can see, we were a colorful trio, and the fun did not stop there, because Zion was just around the corner. We hiked two separate trails in Zion, both very beautiful. We took so many pictures, and really had a awesome time. We saw a lot of the Southwest as well.
From Zion, we were on our way to the Grand Canyon. We went through the Navajo Nation and really had a pleasant road trip. We camped outside the park, and were up early for or longest hike down into the canyon and along side the Colorado River. For me, this was the best part of the trip. I just love the Grand Canyon. It is such an amazing place. And Hot Tub really is a strong hiker. You would think that would be it. Right? No, instead we all three went and hiked Hippies Training Hill, making our trip into hiking in 4 separate states.

For the next few weeks, I had some business to take care of in the Bay Area, but sure as heck I was back to San Diego to head out on a scouting trip to plan a hike around the Salton Sea. Hippie and I began a drive around but never completed it. I still would like to do that some day, but it is not high on my list. Hippie and I were both busy around the Holidays, but we did squeeze some hiking out and around San Diego, and some on the PCT, where we did a night hike with "Bloody Mary", in section A. We hiked around Eagle Rock, and camped at Barrel Springs, where we saw her off for the last part of "Bloody Mary's" adventure.
 For the next few weeks, I was back and forth at work, Hippie was planning for her next adventure, hiking the SDTCT, from where I would meet them and help out all the hikers and get them back to their cars at the completion of their trip. It was actually amazing to see how many people actually came out for the hike and participated. I met some new friends and we were soon off on a short Thru-Hike.
   We decided to Drive Melissa 3000 miles to hike 250 miles, from Oklahoma to Little Rock Arkansas. This time we would take Sara "BloodBank" Fry. And what an amazing tough lady Bloodbank is. We had something really in common, and I have not been around anyone since I had this experience, so we could not stop talking about it. The CDT!!!!! We would go on for Hours and Hours. I could see the fire in this young lady's eyes. We were so alive! I am so sorry Hippie for driving you nuts, but the CDT is both our passions.
   We first went to the petrified forest, and were soon beginning to hit a big storm. The weather just got worse and worse. And we eventually had to get Melissa off the road and wait out the storm near the Texas Border in New Mexico.
As you can see, it was cold that night and we were not too sure what we had gotten ourselves into. But we pushed on and shortly after entering into Texas, we were out of snow and moving back to normal speeds. But short comings did not stop there.  50 miles from trails start, Melissa, needed a new water pump, but just like her own reliable self, she finally came to rest at a local repair shop. Some would think we were lucky, but I believe that Melissa has a living and breathing soul, cause it all worked out just great. We would hitch from here to the trailhead, while the Mechanics would watch her for the next 8 days. 
And so we were off again, this time hiking the Ouachita Trail. The Ouachita Trail was a very quiet trail. We did not see anyone for the first 105 miles, and even then it was brief. There were shelters roughly every 10 miles, and they were  either new or in great condition. The water was plentiful and the trail was well marked. This trail deserves a whole page within its self, but I can not get too deeply into it. I am really glad to have done it, and the local people are wonderful. I highly suggest this to be a great winters hike. There are not many views, but the serenity is exceptional.
The terrain is a lot like the AT, but the resupply can be difficult if you were a guy hitch hiking alone. Being with girls really helped with resupply. No body really knows much about the trail or anything about Thruhikers. Like I said, this hike really deserves its own write up, so I might do one on a later date.

Well all good things must come to an end. I am now back to work in the Bay Area. But sice my friends were hiking in Death Valley to get there 2015 ugly sticker, I thought I would join them. So here I went again, after work on a Friday, heading south for a 3 day weekend in Death Valley. Sugar Momma Patty Cakes, Dip, Hippie, and I all have birthdays, and so we would celebrate our birthdays together.
 This was the beginning of a yearly hike that I hope we all can continue to make. We are all hiking family and I hope that we reunite yearly. We all earned our stickers and we had a lot of fun. I know this has another blogs worth of stories within itself, but I can not find the words to express things correctly. But basically, this was my wild and crazy 5 months, I thank all of you who joined me, and especially you Hippie! We saw a lot of this country in a short time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

ALDHAWEST Triple Crown Awards

Immediately after completing the Colorado Trail, I rushed out to Seattle to join ALDHA west organization in celebrating this years Triple Crown Awards. It was an amazing turn out and and such and honor to join my family of Triple Crowners for the largest assembly to date. I especially liked seeing Sunshine [now only 14 yrs old] as she received hers. 
 I also had the pleasure of being present as Meadow Ed received the Trail Angel Award. Ed and I go way back, from my early days on the PCT. I first met Ed at Kennedy Meadows in 2001 while I was section hiking, and we have been pals ever since. It was sorta funny explaining to everyone that Ed use to leave water caches in old whiskey bottles.

 I also got the pleasure of seeing my old class of 2013 from the CDT. We all shared stories and memories about when we met or how we missed each other on our travels.

I also spent some time with all the celebrity hikers and PCTA's Jack Haskel, doing a little hippie day care. He has the tie die down. I think he use to do that as his old job.
Afterwards I was voted onto the Board and am now part of the  only organization that represents long distance hikers and the trails of the west. Being part of this is an honor and will save more about this in a future post.

The weekend was a success, and I am glad I made my way to the ceremony.