Sunday, March 22, 2015

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.