Sunday, May 30, 2010

Idyllwild to Big Bear

Hi all,

It's been an exciting week on the trail. Dan and and I have adopted the team name SNAFU (Situation Normal All F-d Up.) The week started out with Dan and I making an attempt on Fuller Ridge on Sunday. It was probably one of the worst days to attempt this section of the trail. We woke up with freezing temperatures and overcast skies camped outside of Idyllwild. As we made our approach toward the ridge line, a full fledged blizzard developed. Dan and I found ourselves struggling to find the buried trail and we got lost for several hours. Temperatures were plummeting and I found myself dangerously unprepared for the conditions. After an hour or so wondering around in the woods, we realized that our footsteps were also quickly disappearing. After a couple of hours of wondering and still unable to find the trail, we made the decision to head down off the mountain and back into Idyllwild to regroup. Thankfully, after very careful trial and error, Dan and I were able to find the trail we took up the mountain and gradually make our descent. After starting the hike around 7:00am, we arrived where we began at 6:00pm. After an exhausting day, we drank hot coffee in the coffee shop in town and camped out in the campground for the night. Here's a few texts from my friend Pete who dropped us off in Idyllwild and who was monitoring the storm from town:

1.) Yo message me when you make it out ok? I know u 2 are gonna be exhausted.
2.) Urgent. all pct hikers are skipping this section. search n rescue is looking 4 people up there! Get down now!

The rest of the week has been great. The folks in Idyllwild were terrific. Many people offered Dan and I rides throughout the day. We received rides to and out of town the first time we extended our thumbs. Once I finally reached the PCT on Monday, the descent out of San Jacinto State Park toward the I-10 was fantastic. Temperatures increased and wildflowers were exploding all the way to the desert floor. We passed the wind farm just outside of Joshua Tree National Park. We spent an insanely windy evening cowboy camped outside the wind turbines listening to their ghostly howl through the night. We've irritated several rattlesnakes, already. In fact, one beautiful white rattlesnake took a nap in the shade of a sage bush and I accidentally placed my hiking pole right between it's curled up body. Thankfully he still seemed lethargic in the late morning, and did not attempt a strike despite my clearly invading it's personal space. Dan and I camped along the White River watching the full moon rise above the canyon. We've met and befriended several thruhikers already. We found ourselves attempting to solve a mystery involving several hundred dollars worth of abandoned gear near Mission Springs. We night hiked with the aid of the full moon with our new friend Jackalope. We drank an afternoon beer with a father, his two sons, and their grandfather who had an uncanny resemblance to Uncle Jesse from the Dukes of Hazard, near Coon Cabin sharing stories of the outdoors. We saw lions, tigers and bears (no, really) as the trail passed an animal refuge that takes care of retired Hollywood animal actors and allows them to live out their final days sleeping in cages. Finally, we have found ourselves staying in a fantastic hostel in the town of Big Bear Lake, taking a well deserved rest, and catching up with our fellow hikers whom we have crossed paths with earlier in the week. So far it's been a great week. We resupply on Tuesday and make our way toward Wrightwood.

Michael., I will send you some pictures in the mail Tuesday. Talk to you all soon...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

On His Way

I haven't heard from Mark yet, and unless he's had an encounter with a Flying Squirrel Bear, I think it's safe to assume he's happily on the trail and not looking back this time.  I hope to have more soon.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Now that Lost! is finally through and all of the Island's mysteries were finally revealed and we can move on with our lives comfortable in the revelations that at last we know what the Dharma Initiative was, why babies couldn't be born on the Island, the reason for all the time travel, what Widmore was after, why Hurley could see dead people, and all the rest, what better summer drama to turn our attention to than Mark's long hike up the backbone of the West Coast.  I promise to have more posts on the PCT soon now that I no longer have to worry what happened to Walt, or who built the frozen donkey wheel and the giant Egyptian statue, or the significance of the numbers on the Hatch, who were the Others, and so on.   So glad it was all cleared up.

More posts to come once I have some time, and hopefully word from Mark.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hotel California

In the Eagles song "Hotel California," there is a lyric, "You can check out any time you'd like/but you can never leave." That's what this last month has felt like. But I'm happy to say I turned my keys into the rental office today and tomorrow I head down to Idyllwild to pick up Dan. We are driving down to San Diego and going to the REI in town so Dan can purchase new shoes. (He's been having trouble with his current pair.) Then I will drop off my car and Pete will drive us back to Idyllwild on Saturday so I can finally start this thing and Dan can resume his hike.

Just wanted to call attention to Hikestrong 2010 one last time before heading out. Hopefully, each dollar raised will go towards coming one step closer to finding a cure for cancer. It's an honor to be a part of a hiking community in which so many of the participants are using their hikes to try and make a difference in the world. Remember that Dan has also joined Hike for Haiti in which hikers are trying to make a difference in the lives of the people affected by the earthquake a few months ago by raising funds.

Anyways, sorry for the interruption Michael. You can take it away, and thanks everybody for reading...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

Mark, now that you will be starting the trail in Idyllwild, a couple questions:

1. How will you get there?
2. How will you meet up with Dan?
3. When is your first supply drop and have you adjusted your pack accordingly?
4. What happens when you get to Canada?  Is it back to Idyllwild and down to Mexico or the opposite?  And how will you get there?  Is Dan going to rehike that part with you?  (Is this too many questions for one bullet point?)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kern River

My friend Pete invited me to join him on a weekend camping trip into the Southern Sierra along the Kern River. Pete had to attend a workshop at the Kern River Preserve where biologists were searching for an endangered bird in the area.
The campsite we chose was the same as the one I stayed at last fall. It's a peaceful spot in a sandy area along the river. The Kern was raging with ice cold snow melt. At night, the Milky Way was the brightest I think I have ever seen it.
Pete spotting a checkerspot butterfly along the side of the road.
On Saturday, we took a hike along the Kern a few miles to the north of where we camped. All in all, we probably did about 10 to 12 miles. It was very warm in the valley, warm enough to warrant an ice cold plunge into the river. To stay in longer than a second would probably deliver an instant heart attack due to the freezing temperatures of the river!

Pete catching giardia (above)
Saturday night, we camped near Lake Isabella. We had a friendly homeless African American man as a neighbor. In the morning, I talked to him for a while. He said he had earned a degree in biology a long time ago and was contemplating going back to school to earn his PHD. Whether that was true or not, I cannot say. He said he just couldn't be around people all that much. He tried applying to several different colleges around the nation, receiving financial aid, but "it just didn't feel right" he kept saying. He said he preferred to be out in the country as apposed to the cities. Later in the morning I saw him putting on a life jacket. He told me he was contemplating swimming across the river because he wanted to see the mountains on the other side. Thankfully, he never jumped in, but he said he was probably going to try next week sometime. Overall, he seemed very content to be where he was. Pete left him a bag of Cheetos and gave him an apple as we left. The man gave me advice to treat my newly formed poison oak on my legs as we said goodbye.

Overall, another great weekend in the Sierra. I talked to Dan briefly on the phone. He passed Warner Springs this weekend and I'm planning on meeting him at Idyllwild sometime this week to finally start the PCT.

Southern Sierra Butterflies

Butterflies were everywhere in the Southern Sierra yesterday. Along the Kern River, checker spots seemed to appear by the hundreds after each bend in the trail...

Wildflowers of the Kern

Photos of the wildflowers along the Kern River in the Sierra from yesterday's hike. I felt like each species deserved a potrait. Do you have a favorite?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm a Free Man

Pictures from today's hike in the Verdugos...

Silver Puffs (above)
I found out today that I'm a free man. In fact I always was, I just didn't understand my rights in the lease I was in. I think I got played by the rental company, duped for another month's rent that I didn't have to pay. Nobody seems to care, one way or the other so I will wipe my hands clean and start hiking next week. A strange way to start, but I guess that's life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I took a hike this evening up to Mt. Thom and practiced setting up my Spinn Twinn for the first time. I was so busy with PCT planning details the last couple of weeks of April that I wasn't able to do last minute chores like practice setting up my shelter. It has plenty of room underneath, I just wonder how it will do in very windy conditions. No calls whatsoever today about the apartment. I feel like I'm getting my hiking legs back underneath me again which is good.