Monday, November 29, 2010


Road into Campo

First sign looking north towards Canada
The Southern Terminus
Border Fence
My register entry almost 6 months ago.
Answerman's entry. Although we split paths after Mamoth Lakes, we kept in touch via phone throughout the hike. Answerman finished the trail in Manning Park with Blackgum and three other hikers two days after Indie and I finished. Again, it was neat to see my friend's names in the registers during this last stretch of trail, although I did feel a bit envious at times knowing they were home relaxing while I was still battling the elements!
The final ascent
It is finished!
Allan and his kids Marion and Jake
I finished the trail on November 3, 2010. I could not have done it without the help from my hiking friends, the trail angels, Pete and Fabio assisting with resupply, Hikestrong donaters, and the grace of God, blessing us with exceptional weather for the month of October. Thank you all!!!
Unlike Manning Park (the northern terminus) where I was filled with elation, relief, and a bit of disbelief, the finish at the southern border was mostly filled with a feeling of satisfaction. While in Washington, Indie often would ask me whether or not I was going to finish the trail. Most of the time I answered that I was not planning on it, that I got everything out of the trail I wanted to get out of it by hiking Idyllwild to Manning Park. Finally, one day he said, "You need to finish the trail. You don't want to have any regrets."
The PCT ended with one last piece of trail magic. Allan picked me up at the monument at 12:00 sharp and drove me all the way to San Diego. It was the last piece in a long, long, string of human kindness that has made this trail so amazing and memorable. The views were unforgettable. The physical effort has been greater than anything I've attempted up to this point in my life. The community of hikers is exactly what it is. A community. Something that can be hard to find in this day and age.
I took away from this hike, that at the end of the day, I have nothing to worry about. As hard or desperate life gets, our basic needs will be provided for, somehow, someway. It may be uncomfortable, it may be scary, it may take time, it may be frustrating, it may not turn out the way we want it to, but we will be provided for. It's a very comforting realization. Thank you PCT...
On a side note, I'm going to be moving to Mendocino county tomorrow and starting (or resuming) my job working with autistic kids with my old company. I will say goodbye to southern California, and start a new chapter of life in northern California. Although I don't know anything about the area, I'm hoping to find some good trails and take some good pictures while living there. Until the next post (which I hope will be sooner rather than later), happy trails once again!


Cool little discovery in my old neck of the woods...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Last Full Day on PCT

View towards I-8
Walking under I-8

Granite arch
Lake Morena (above/below)

Camped in a burn area just outside Campo
I get nostalgic looking at these photos. It was my last full day on the PCT. Weather was perfect, although a bit breezy still. The morning started with hiking towards, and then under the I-8. During this time, I was working out lyrics to a PCT song in my head. By mid morning, I arrived at Lake Morena. The campground was completely deserted, but all the facilities were still in working order. Better yet, they had a shower house, where I was able to enjoy a long, hot shower. It was heavenly. I dried off sitting on a picnic bench, basking in the glorious, warm sunshine, and enjoyed a snack as well. After drying off, I filled up my water bottles and began hiking towards Campo, the end of the trail for me.
It was cool to notice that the terrain resembled the Sierra in some ways, at least the rocks did. I was walking amongst granite again, and evidence of glaciation was present once again. The closer I got to Campo, the more I noticed random articles of clothing thrown amongst the bushes. Evidence of Mexican immigrants, no doubt. By evening, I reached an area that burned fairly recently. It was time to find a campsite. Unfortunately, it seemed some great sites burned in the blaze. Nevertheless, I chose a flat spot amongst the charred manzanita bushes, and camped next to a huge boulder to try and get some shelter from the breeze that picked up again.
It was a satisfying evening. I called Allan on my cell phone and arranged a ride for the next day. I lay in my sleeping bag, staring at the stars, trying to soak in my last night under the Milky Way. I felt excited, sad, pleased, fulfilled to know that I was just 8 miles from the finish. Life was about to change once again, but for now, I tried to stay in the moment.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mt. Laguna and points further south

Mt. Laguna country store and post office
A small reminder to watch my step. This was a tiny rattler, and supposedly they are more dangerous than adults because they don't control their venom when they bite.

Another small reminder to watch my step!

Sunset over another wind farm

Monday, November 1st. The post office was not due to open until 12:00pm. Again, another relaxing morning as I only had 3 miles or so to reach the post office. While at the country store, I met a man named Allan and his two kids. Allan, who used to work for IBM, now home schools his two children. He was very interested in the PCT and we sat on the porch of the Laguna country store for about an hour discussing the trail. His two kids were great as well, patiently waiting for us to finish talking, so they could eat lunch. Before leaving, Allan offered to pick me up at Campo when I finished the trail. It was a very kind gesture, especially knowing how busy everyone is these days.

After finishing my last resupply, I hit the trail once more, only 42 miles remaining. Around sunset, I began looking for a campsite, and I found a nice secluded spot on a small rock outcropping with great views to the east. That night, the Santa Ana winds picked up with a fury. For a long time now, I've been trying to think of a way to describe what it was like. Kind of like a wind blowtorch or something. The wind would lick at me for several seconds, fierce gusts that would penetrate the feet of my sleeping bag. Then they would completely cease for a few seconds, and then whip up again. Sometimes there would be a break for an hour or so before they would start up again. This lasted the entire night, but I felt fairly protected as I was sleeping behind a rock.

Friday, November 26, 2010


The day after the rains stopped, I was just 4 miles from the Mt. Laguna Post Office. Unfortunately, it was Sunday so the post office was closed. As a result, I was able to find a fantastic campsite that was secluded, comfortable, and amongst oak trees whose leaves were changing colors, after a short morning hike. The rest of the day, I chose to relax and went on a couple of short day hikes from camp. A different way to spend Halloween, that's for sure.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rain Returns

I awoke first thing in the morning and saw a big black cloud directly overhead. I quickly packed up my things and started hiking. The winds began to pick up and rain appeared to be falling to the west. Good thing this storm waited until morning to reach me or else I would have been soaked since I didn't set up my tarp the night before.
I was treated to a morning rainbow in the desert valley, which followed me for a couple hours. Again, the temperature seemed to fluctuate all over the place, depending on the speed of the wind or how much sun was out.
By mid morning, the storm reached its peak in ferocity and lasted until about noon. Unfortunately, I was hiking through a very exposed section of the Lagunas. Rain was falling completely horizontal, and I estimated the wind to be blowing 40-50mph. It was brutal. By noon, I started to get scared because there was simply nowhere to pitch a shelter as far as I could see. The vegetation was all about waste high offering little to no protection. I was starting to get hypothermia it seemed, I could barely move my hands. With the wind the way it was, my tarp probably would have been torn to shreds If I tried to somehow set it up on the trail. Usually the act of hiking keeps one warm no matter what, but the wind seemed to be whipping my body heat away from me, leaving me with chills.
Thankfully, a spot finally emerged, and I set up my shelter behind a bush about six feet high. Sure enough, shortly after I set up my shelter, the storm abated. I chose to stay in my sleeping bag for about an hour to warm up, and then hit the trail again. The rest of the afternoon was chilly, but I had great views of the desert to the east.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Scissors Crossing/ Julian

Morning sunrise from camp

Ocotillo (above)

Road S2
Scissors Crossing cache

I met Pete at the cache and we went to lunch in Julian.
Town of Julian
After a good nights rest, I slowly made my way down towards Scissors Crossing and was happy to see the ocotillo cactus again. The trail only passed a small grove of them, and that was their only appearance on the entire trail. As it turned out, my friend Pete, a botonist, just happened to be working right near Julian and was in the area when I reached the road S2. It was a surprise treat to be able to hang out and have lunch in Julian after several days of not really seeing anybody. After eating a delicious Reuben sandwich in town, I refilled my water bottles and said goodbye to Pete. A hitch back to the trail was easy to come by, and I returned to the PCT mid afternoon. Before starting back up the trail, I saw a guy who jumped out of a jeep and said hello. He had hiked a large portion of the trail this year, and said he was having a real hard time wanting to go back to a regular life. There was an obvious restlessness in him. I said I understood, and couldn't help wondering what the repercussions of doing a trip like this are. Anyhow, I hiked a few more miles that afternoon and camped on another sandy spot about a hundred feet off trail and fell fast asleep under the stars.