Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sing it Proclaimers!

So that tune released in the year I was born, 1988, now relates to Honey Bear and I. We have walked 500 miles! As of right now we are in Tehachapi, CA resupplying our food for the next seven days to get us up to Kennedy Meadows. Kennedy Meadows is the located at 6,000 feet at the base of the Sierras. Man have I been waiting for this!!! Those big granite spires and desolate wilderness have been calling my name since the day we started.

Sometime around my birthday in the middle of June I am meeting up with Ryan to rock climb the East Face of Mt. Whitney. As a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker, most take the time to go the 18 miles side trip up to summit Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the lower 48 states. We will be going up Mt. Whitney from the west side, which I have never done before, most likely on my birthday this year! I am going to hike down the Moutaineers Route to meet Ryan at the base of the East Face and we will rock climb up and summit again the next day. From there on out the Sierras are all ours. Alpine lakes, 13,000 foot passes, unexpected weather and millions of photo opportunities arise. So much to look forward to!

Two days ago, Honey Bear and I crossed the Mojave desert and left a small, bizzare, western place called the Hikertown Hostel in the evening after dinner to beat the heat of the desert. We night hiked under the open star filled sky and the waning gibbous until about 2 am with three friends: Spud, Wooley and Darkness. Just as the sun dipped down below the horizon and we were walking ontop of the Los Angelus Aqueduct, Honey Bear and I cracked open glow sticks and each of us attached them to out trekking poles to dance around with. We had been carrying these glow sticks from Big Bear for about 250-300 miles and were excited to finally use them. Wind turbines and large gusts of wind entertained our senses in the dark as we hiked. Of course with a 18 mile stretch without water, I carried way WAY to much water. I brought 5 liters and honestly drank one... that's why I am Oasis.

This last stretch between towns has included three stops at three different Trail Angel houses. It really made this section through the desert very enjoyable. Donna Saufley opens her home near Agua Dulce to hikers and had cots, a kitchen, post office and laundry facilities all available for hikers. She even has extra clothes and bikes for hikers to use while they are doing laundry and want to ride into down for food. The Andersons are known for their party house 24 miles from the Saufleys and definitely lived up to their name. These amazing trail angels spoil us with great food, entertainment and really show us love and care like a parent while on the trail.

So here's to you mom... today Honey Bear and I were sitting in a cute diner in Tehachapi and walked in with dirt on our clothes, most likely that 'thru-hiker' stench, and our packs to enjoy a good breakfast. Of course our eyes are bigger their our stomaches while ordering and we made a small scene by unloading maps and copies amounts of random crap on the table while we were trying to get organized that we caught the attention of a woman sitting next to us with her husband. When she was about to leave, she offered us 20 dollars because she had the impression we were homeless and needed the support. Bless her soul but of course we could not take it. We explained our situation and the face that we were hiking and chosing to be 'homeless' per se. She didn't seem to understand but it made us smile, alot. Here's to what we call 'Hiker Trash'.

Moments off of trail in town are always rewarding by filling your stomach with food you've been craving, but experiences and encounters with locals are always my favorite. All is wonderful and the trail is amazing. Cannot wait for the Sierras and to get above 10,000 feet again! Love and miss you all.

With love,

Friday, May 25, 2012

And she has been named...

Each day on the trail is so rewarding. Instead of counting days passed by date I can view miles that I have hiked, as I look out in the distance I can see mountains approaching that I will go over, and once there can look back from where I've come. I love the sense of accomplishment each and everyday. Simplicity in so many forms.

So my friend Dan joined Honey Bear and I on trail for 32 miles as we ventured to the deep creek hot springs. The second day when we had been watching dozens of some huge black flies swarming around and in a snag, we decided to sit down nearby under some cedars and the most beautiful small waterfall along the creek. Of course this meant that lunch had to be postponed until after we swam. As we were making our way to the creek Honey Bear thought it would be a fitting place for me to finally receive my trail name she had in mind. Oasis! I have been given this name for the crazy amounts of water I carry and drink. Absolutely love it! It is nice having a trail name especially since we are hiking in a different group now because we took three days off in Big Bear. While making our way to this secret oasis in Deep Creek, we were stopped by the sighting of three beavers. This was the first time Dan had seen beavers in this area even though he had been down there countless times. Honestly I can say if Honey Bear and I were there without Dan we probably would have passed by without even acknowledging the dams even being there. Dan really made us take the time to look around and appreciate the fine details while we hiked. It was wonderful having "Reverend Beav" (which we named him on the trail) and hopefully he can join us again after the summer.

There is this plant called poodle dog bush that exists in baja California and parts of southern California that germinates after a wildfire has burned an area. It has been all over the Pacific Crest Trail in many areas just before Wrightwood and a huge portion of the trail before Agua Dulce. We have been forced to take road walks that parallel the trail to avoid the bush because it causes a more severe allergic reaction to most like poison oak or ivy. The day we walked 15 miles on the road turned out to be none other than LADIES DAY! Six wonderful women: Corn Nut, Sniper, Honey Bear, Monkey, Heather and I walked with each other loving the estrogen filled conversation and interaction. Each one of those women has inspired me by the stories of adventures they have experienced or wish to accomplish in the near future. Sniper and Corn Nut traveled by kayak down to Louisiana from North Carolina then biked from Louisiana to California before starting the Pacific Crest Trail. Monkey has done the John Muir Trail with her mother Heather twice already and she is eight, yes I said eight, years old! She may be the youngest person on the trail and could be the youngest to complete such a long trail. I have been amazed by the people most on this trail thus far. The range in age is so drastic yet the commonalities of a similar goal, ambition and perseverance is amazing. 

Honey Bear and I have made it to the Saufleys, an amazing host trail angel in Agua Dulce, CA and are prepping for the Mojave! We are 200 miles south of the Sierras and my palms are sweaty thinking about those high granite spires and long wilderness that are soon to come. Until then much love to all of you. I appreciate all of you in my life and love hearing from you periodically. Call me anytime and leave a message so I know to get back to you! I have learned lately that life is short and we cannot be thankful enough for the time we have.

Those who wander are not lost. I heard this saying once that your life can be depicted by a line from point A to point B starting with birth and ending with death. Most lines are straight connecting the two, but those who wander and wonder have a huge undulating line between the two. When you stretch out that line your life is much longer than lost who go straight from point A to point B. Go wander and wonder.

Much love,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ziggy's Trail Angel Casa

The largest bowl of ice cream, two hot dogs, salad and one orange later, I am stuffed to the brim with wonderful food. About two hours ago I finally made it down the endless switchbacks descending Mt. San Jacinto to be pleasantly surprised by a cold Dr. Pepper underneath highway 10. It was a crazy sensation sitting under a bridge of a highway that runs from California to Florida relaxing with six other thru hikers sipping on cold beverages. A mile up the trail Ziggy, a trail angel, opened her house as a hostel for thru hikers. Not only are we allowed to sleep in her back yard, but she has been feeding us, offering warm foot baths and other endless accomodations. I feel so blessed to have stumbled into her life on the trail. Her home is about 2/10 of a mile from the trail in which she made homemade signs pointing us in the direction of her house. It has been endless hospitality, love and care since Honey Bear and I arrived.

Honey Bear and I reached mile 210 today! The sun was hot on our backs and water was scarce, but as we rounded then bend on one of the long switchbacks, a small pile of rocks (with one word, unless...not!) saying 200 was displayed on the ground. I yelled out in shock and Honey Bear thought something was wrong. We had a dance party and lived it up in celebration!

Tonight I am going to sleep out under the stars on a small square of carpet underneath the beautiful desert sky. With Big Bear on my mind, I am looking forward to seeing all those wonderful friends I left behind to start this journey!

So much love,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Southern Terminus to 100 Miles!

So as I lay in my tent for the sixth night in a row listening to frogs croak in a stream nearby, I have been debating how to describe my experience thus far on the pct. Incredible. Sweaty. Tired feet. Compassion. Community. These words all sum up the completion of over one hundred miles, and will.continue down the trail.
The desert wild flowers are all in bloom this time of year. With every step I take, Lena ( known as Honey Bear on the trail and I will be referring to from now on) and I pass dozens of bloomed prickly pear cacti, yuccas, western wallflowers, and other various  flowers.

There are over 500 people on this trail but depending on how quickly you hike and how many miles you want to push in a day allows you to change up the people you are hiking around. From Mt. Laguna, Honey Bear and I have been keep leep frogging, passing, or just behind the same group of hikers. We have been hiking and camping with four other thru hikers: Pit Stop, Ginger, Ring Master and Panama Red. I could go on and on about Ring Master and how much he inspires me. It is quite a humbling experience trying to keep up my pace to a 69 year old man. So many people doubt their abilities especially when us as adults reach a certain age. Why? How come we start to regress and decide we are not capable of certain things. Ring Master was talking about how excited he is to celebrate his 70th birthday on top of Mt. Whitney and how he wants to complete the Camino de Santiago in a few years. He crushes more miles some days than I do as a 23 year old. Truly age doesn't matter, passion and drive keep you motivated.

The trail creates a community and makes me feel at home. This morning I experienced my first "trail magic" ( when people bring food, drinks or any gifts to hikers on the trail). We were surprised with sandwiches, cinnamon roles, cookies, beer, soda and cliff bars. It was an amazing sugar rush that helped me bust out 12 miles before lunch. There have been countless times when I have seen random acts of kindness on the trail. We are all here to support and care for one another to try and reach a common goal.

We are cruising up to Idyllwild in a few days and my mouth is watering just thinking about some ice cream in that cute mountain town!

Next stop after Idyllwild is back home in Big Bear to visit some friendly faces and have old friends meet new friends. So much to look forward to while enjoying each and every day.

So much love,