Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 42: slack packing, and visit from mom and dad! :)

Wednesday 5/30/12
Miles 558-566 (8 miles)
Elevation same as yesterday

Today was such an interesting and random day. Lol. But then again that can be said about almost everyday of this hike :)

I enjoyed the free continental breakfast with my 3 awesome roommates in the morning. The hotel was so cool, they let me store all my gear there so I could slack pack. Slackpacking is basically backpacking, but with minimal/no gear. The purists who hike the PCT consider slack packing cheating, but I consider it efficient. :D. So I left everything at the hotel, and carried only my pack with water and my vodka-soaked watermelon. Lol. This will be an epic 8 miles :D

I got a ride to the trailhead from a man who was a former scout-troop leader, who likes to pick up hikers because he likes to hear our stories. Cool dude. Anyhow, the 8 miles I hiked today were AWESOME. Holy cow I never walked so fast in my life it was amazing!! I did the 8 miles in just over 2.5 hours. I didn't start eating my watermelon til I was about 2 miles from my destination. I didn't want to get dehydrated. See, I may have stupid ideas but at least I'm somewhat smart about executing these ideas :D. I ran into 6 hikers slack packing southbound.

One of these guys was Hee Haw (he's a professional bluegrass musician, and is carrying a carbon-fiber mini-guitar on the trail) and the "PCT Men's Support Group". Lol, they're funny. Anyhow they borrowed a car from their friend and parked it at the road intersection where I was going, so they asked me to drive it back to the other end of this 8 mile section. STOKED!! This saves me from trying to get a hitch on a major highway where cars are going 70+mph. :)

My parents also drove out to meet me, and were waiting for me at the same road intersection, so I had them follow me, I went through Tehachapi to pick up my gear I left, then dropped the car off at the other trailhead, and rode to Mojave with my parents. Cool!! :). It was awesome to see my mom and dad, as this was the last place we could meet that is a somewhat reasonable drive from Los Angeles.

I had lunch with my parents at a Mexican place that had really good carne asada and horchatas. Stoked!! It was very decently priced too. It was so awesome to see my mom and dad. It was the first time I saw their new pickup truck too. They bought a brand new silver 4 door 4x4 Tacoma a while ago. (hey Craiggo, it's like a bigger version of yours!)

The truck is awesome. It has air lockers, a cover for the bed, a winch on the front, old man emu shocks, and all kinds of other epic modifications. My dad is a professional mechanic. Oh, for those of you in the LA area looking for an epic mechanic, he owns a Chevron gas station and an auto-repair shop by Cal State University LA. He's been there for over 30 years :) Look it up, it's called Eastern Car Care Center.

Bah, sorry I didn't take many photos today, I was so tired. Lol. My parents are on the Best Western Rewards program so they got me a room at the best western in Mojave. It's NICE. I feel so out of place, coming off the trail and going into a nice place like that. Lol. Anyhow, I was so grateful for the room. My mom and dad left in the late afternoon, they had to go home. I took a nap at 5pm, intending on waking up later, but I slept all through the night til 7:30am the next day. Yeah, I was *that* tired. Lol.

Day 41: wind, windfarms, and lots of sand

Tuesday 5/29/12
Miles 541-558 (17 miles)
Elevation 3,950'

Today was an unusually difficult day for me. I dunno why. My throat kinda felt scratchy all day, and I was really tired. I hope I'm not getting sick :( I later talked to LB and he said his throat was scratchy too. Maybe it's from all the dust that the wind is blowing around. By the way, I'm in the high desert right now (Mojave). And it's pretty windy. There are wind farms everywhere. And when I say windy I'm talking 20-40+ mph winds. Wheee!

Anyhow, I woke up around 6:30 and slowly got my stuff packed. I took a pic of the sign of the trail camp inwas at. I cooked some food for later since I had water here. The next 17 miles is a waterless stretch. Bleh, that means I have to carry 3 liters of water, which is heavy.

I took a lot of breaks today, because I was feeling unusually tired and not-good. The whole first 8 miles was uphill, but it was only about 1,000ft and it was gradual, so it wasn't bad at all. I am so incredibly thankful for my umbrella, the chrome dome from golite. I know I talk about this everyday, but it is worth more than its weight in gold, going through the desert. Anyhow, at the top of the hill there was a water cache!!! I took a pic of the cache and the sign next to it. Oh my gosh I was sooooo thankful for this cache. I took about an hour break here just drinking water and eating and resting. It was also awesome because the trail is pretty much downhill from here. Yay!! :) I'm on the homestretch!

The rest of the hike today was mostly downhill so that was cool. Scenery was kinda eerie: windfarms and burnt trees. I got to the highway where there was *another* cache of water and snacks. Thank you so much to the anonymous trail angels that leave these caches!!! <3

So a couple hours before I got to the road intersection, The Bobcat texted me and said they (her, LB, Powernap) were staying in Tehachapi and they needed a 4th roommate, so I decided to go there. I really like those 3 people. :)

Tehachapi is an interesting town. Very spread out. It's a small desert town with some character. Lol. TK's pizza place is awesome, I was hanging out there for a bit, the guys that work there are super awesome and really stoked about the trail.

I decided that tomorrow I'm going to slack pack the 8 miles between the 2 road intersections to town, so I made some vodka-soaked watermelon for that. It is now chilling in the fridge. Haha, stoked!! :)

Wow there are tons of hikers in town, I know there are a bunch in the hotels on either side of where I stayed (best western country park), as well as places down the road. I love this trail. And all the trail towns are so interesting. Lol :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 40: memorial day desert walk

Monday 5/28/12
Miles 518-541 (23 miles)
Elevation 4,738'

Remember all those photos from yesterday that I took from the top of the hill, of the valley? Well that's pretty much what I walked across today. The desert is so lovely. I was pretty stoked, since my whole goal the last week was to figure out where I was going to be on memorial day weekend so as to avoid all the madness. The desert was the perfect place. I only saw one other hiker all day.

Afte leaving Hikertown I basically walked through a bunch of ranches. The whole day was kind of a surreal experience, and it definitely started out as such. When I left Hikertown in the morning there was no one around. I thought that was odd, since there were so many people the nigh before. So my day started off in solitude and that's pretty much how it was.

I passed by a real funny looking house. I took pics of it, the house looked like an igloo. There's actually quite a few ranches out here, surprisingly enough.

For about 15 miles the trail went on or next to the LA aqueduct. The first part was wide open like a river, I have a pic of that. Afterwards the aqueduct was either in a pipe or it was paved over so it looked like a road. I have a pic of that too. It's so ironic how there's nowhere to get water for a 17 mile stretch even though we're walking on top of a crapload of water. Lol.

There were tons of Joshua trees about. That made me happy. I love Joshua trees.

I took a 3 hour break in the middle of the day. I like doing that on hot days, because I think it's quite silly to walk during the hottest part of the day. A group of dirt bikers passed by me. One of the guys asked me for water because he thought his bike was overheating. I was somewhat reluctant to give him my water since I was still 5 miles out from the next water source and it was hot. He said he lived about a mile away and he'll bring me more water. So I figured all was well. True to his word, he found me up the trail a bit later and brought me a gallon of water. Awesome!!! Unintentional trail Angels are the best :)

I ran into a guy Chris up the trail later, the only hiker i saw all day. we both ended up at the water source around sunset. At that point I did about 17 miles. Man, it was a tough day. I don't know why but I'm unusually tired. I hope im not getting sick or something. :(

I made some dinner and then kept going because I wanted to put more miles in. There was a stream about 6 miles away so that's where I headed. To get there you walk though a windfarm. And boy it was WINDY!! Plus it was night so it was not exactly the most pleasant night hike but hey at least it wasn't hot :)

I finally made camp around 11:30. Boy was I tired!! There were a lot of other hikers asleep around the stream.

The whole time I was night hiking I was trying to figure out my situation this next week, I made a slight logistical error. I sent my bounce box to the post office at Onyx, which isn't open on Saturdays. Oops. So, today is Monday and I won't get into Mojave til tomorrow. Onyx is about 90 miles away. Basically that means either I do 30 mile days and try to get to onyx before 4pm on Friday, or I have to delay myself 2 days and get there Monday. Both were solutions I wasn't stoked about, but I decided on the latter. I'm not going to kill myself over 2 packages. Lol. Who knows maybe this is the Universe's way of telling me I need to slow down a bit. :). I'm still trying to bust some big mile days because the majority of the herd of hikers is just behind me. I hope my 2 day delay won't put me smack dab in the middle of that insanity. Ah well.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 39: morning magic, and the quirky/cool Hikertown

Sunday 5/27/12
Miles 510-518 (8 miles)
Elevation 3,037

As if the trail magic last night was not amazing enough, Dave and crew gave us breakfast too!! :) they had cereal, bars, almond milk, yogurt, bananas, bagels, almond butter, tea, and all kinds of epicness. Oh my gosh what a great start!!

The weather was still nice and cool so the hiking was mellow. I did about 8 miles to get to this place called Hikertown. It is a very odd and awesomely quirky place, I have pics of it, it is all on some guy's private fenced property and it looks like a little mini western town. All the buildings are individual bunk houses that you can stay in for $10 a night. It looks like a movie set but was never used for that, it was built as a hobby by the original owner. Anyhow, there's an actual house where the caretaker lives, and the garage is where the hiker hangout area is. I took a shower (outside with the hose, that's the great thing about being in the desert, it's hot!), did my laundry in the washing machine, and helped organize the hiker box. A lot of people I've met the last few days have come and gone out. Some new people who rolled in later in the day I think is staying overnight.

So, after an entire evening of debating whether to go or stay, I decided I'm going to stay. I originally intended on doing 13 more miles so I could have a 20 mile day. But as the evening rolled in it was *windy* and my aversion to cold told me I shouldn't walk in that. Lol. My reasoning is, if I night hiked, i'd have to set up camp at some point, and it will be dark and windy and cold. Whereas, if I left early in the morning, I can just do more miles and setup camp before it gets dark and cold.

So that's basically my justification for being lazy and only doing 8 miles. Lol

The cool thing about being here so long is I got to meet a lot of new people, as well as hang out with a lot of people I've been around for a while. I'll get pics of everyone in the next few days I'm sure. Anyhow, Hikertown is so cool and weird, it's an awesome place to spend memorial day weekend. :D. Be safe everyone!! Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Day 37: divine blessings

Friday 5/25/12
Miles 478-490
Elevation 4,532ft

It rained throughout the night. I felt bad for all the people cowboy camping. I know what it's like to get rained on in the middle of the night while cowboy camping, while its windy. It totally sucks.

I woke up around 6:30am, Joe Anderson made some coffee and cooked us all pancakes. They were awesome! I helped out with dishes for a while then ate.

All morning I was debating whether I should stay or leave. I really did not want to be around for memorial day weekend; I don't want to deal with that kind of madness right now. However, the weather forecast called for scattered showers throughout the day. Ugh.

So all morning I was having an internal debate with myself, basically whether I wanted to chance being in rain or not. The temperature also has dropped a lot, it's cold and windy. Brrr. There were about 4 or 5 of us that were debating on leaving or staying.

I eventually decided to go. A trail angel at the saufleys called the andersons and said there are 60-70 hikers that will be showing up at Casa de Luna soon. Holy crap!! Prior to this I already made up my mind to leave, this just confirmed my decision. I hope I don't get rained on!! :)

I did about 12 miles and decided to camp. I originally wanted to night hike to do 20 miles, but I ended up stopping instead. Right after I got my tent up it started raining.

I am so grateful to the Universe for always helping me out. Paulo Coelho, my favorite author, says "when you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it". I truly feel exactly that way right now. It's like the stars keep aligning for me, and everything happens exactly as it should. I am so incredibly blessed to be on this trail. It is such a life changing experience for me, in so many ways.

There are 3 activities I've intentionally done that have dramatically changed my life and/or perspective on things: 1)running a marathon, 2)doing the Master Cleanse (look it up online if you don't know what that is), and 3)doing this thru-hike. It's ironic that one of my main goals for doing this hike was to get away from humanity, yet in doing so I have encountered the most beautiful and amazing aspects of humanity, in both other hikers I've come across as well as random kind strangers I meet on the trail.

Day 38: 500 miles! And a surprise gathering

Saturday 5/26/12
Miles 490-510 (20 miles)
Elevation 4,015

Wow it was cold! I was camped up on a ridge, there were 6 people a few miles behind me that camped down in the canyon and they said they had to shake ice off their tents. Yikes!! I am so glad to have my tent. a few hikers sent theirs ahead thinking there would be no rain in SoCal. oops.

Anyhow, it's unusually cold today, which I'm grateful for. Normally this is a ridiculously hot and dry section of the trail. It was so cold all day I didn't even need to stop and get water, so I did 32 miles total on the 2 liters 20 oz of water i got from the Anderson's before I left there.

I hit 500 miles today!! Whee!! I took a pic of the "500" that someone spelled out with sticks. There was also an official pct 500 marker which I also took a pic of, but this one was actually at mile 502. Close enough I guess :)

When i got to the spot I intended to camp at, there was trail magic there!!! What an awesome surprise, and an awesome unintentional celebration for my 500 miles!! Weather Carrot handed me a soda first thing when I got to where their truck was. Weather carrot, Orbit, and Dave was doing trail work, and I rolled in around dinner time. Bobcat was there too, and so they made us all dinner! It was amaaaazing! We had rice, naan, curry, tea, and cookies for dessert! I was soooo stoked :D

The 5 of us camped out there that night. Dave, orbit and weather carrot are going to do some more trail work tomorrow. I am so stoked, this is such a perfect crew to camp with. I really like all the people here. I took a pic of them making dinner. Bobcat is the one with short hair and a beanie, she is so rad and one of my favorite people on trail. Orbit thru-hiked last year (she is also a veteran of the Appalacian Trail), and she was staying at the Anderson's helping them out, and came along on Dave's project to help out. Weather c
Carrot is the guy with a hat and longish red hair. He is so cool!! Definitely one of my favorite people on trail too. So the reason he is called weather carrot is because of his red hair and his obsession and knowledge on anything weather related. It's funny, at the Anderson's, he camped somewhere right behind me, and we had a spontaneous 30 minute conversation about weather. He's an incredibly fascinating individual. He's a veteran of this trail as well as many others, and the reason he was doing trail magic was because he is a longtime friend of Dave. Dave works for the PCTA (Pacific Crest Trail Association; they are the organization that is responsible for maintaining the trail and handling everything pct related, on the official end. They are an epic organization and they do a wonderful job :)

Anyhow, it was overall an amazing day today, I am so stoked!! Dave and Weather Carrot have a lot of experience on this trail so it was so rad listening to their stories. This is such an awesome little group of people to camp out with, I couldn't have asked for anything better. <3

Day 36: a kind-of zero day at Casa De Luna

Thursday 5/24/12
Mile: 0
Elevation same as yesterday

Not sure if you count today as a full zero, since I technically walked here through the night and into the morning. Lol.

So I passed out in my tent sometime after 10:30am (after i ate a whole pint of mint chip ice cream) and didn't wake up til about 5pm. The property Casa de Luna is on is quite interesting. The backyard area is where the hikers all sleep, and it's basically a forest of trees and bushes that go super far back. In fact I'm not even sure where it ends, it's so huge. There are patches cut out here and there for people to set up tents within the forest. It's pretty cool. I picked a spot way back in the forest along with 4 other people, so it would be nice and quiet.

Casa De Luna has a reputation for being quite insane. Haha. The Saufleys are known for their "corporate efficiency" manner of taking care of hikers, the Anderson's are known as Hippy Daycare. It's pretty awesome over here. A lot of people skip stopping at the Anderson's because they don't want to be amongst the madness. I actually wasn't planning on stopping by, except my hiker permit was sent here so I had to come pick it up.

All PCT hikers who plan on doing 500 miles or more need a thru-hiker permit. I got one a while back but I left it in Hawaii. And I didn't realize I forgot it until I was about 100 miles into the trail. So I had another one sent to me. Yay! I'm legal now. Lol.

Terri Anderson made us all a community taco dinner, it was great! I ate a bunch and just passed out around 10pm. I was soooo tired. It has been an interesting day. Sorry I don't have pictures, I was too tired and out of it to take pics.

Day 35: I LOVE rocks, and Donna Saufley is AMAZING!!

Wednesday 5/23/12
Miles 444-478 (34 miles)
Elevation 3,391

Yeah, you read right, I just did a 34 mile day. Holy moly that was nuts. I'll get to the story why in a little bit.

This morning I left the KOA campground and hiked toward the Saufleys which was 10 miles away. Just before Agua Dulce which is the town the Saufleys are at, is Vasquez Rocks county park. It was absolutely beautiful. I LOVE rocks. There is so much life and soul in rocks. Just like trees. And rocks are like the bridge between the modern world and the primordial beginnings of earth. I took a few photos of the rocks. I also liked the fields of yucca plants. That was beautiful.

The town of Agua Dulce is so awesome. It's a tiny rural town, Chelsea who is staff at the Acton KOA campground described it as Acton with more money. Yeah, the houses (ranches) at Agua Dulce were pretty nice looking. Anyhow, there were signs all over welcoming us PCT hikers to town (the trail goes right through town). That was so cool. I stopped at Sweetwater Cafe for food with Pineapple and Express. I have a photo of that, I ordered a veggie omelette with bacon. They gave us a 20% discount! That was so rad. The town is so awesome!

The saufleys live about a mile off trail, as I was walking there I got picked up by Donna Saufley! I don't think there's enough words in my vocabulary to describe the amazigness of this woman. She is an absolute multi-tasking machine. And she does it all with such a jolly attitude. She is so awesome. The Saufley residence is amazing. There are about 6 dogs and 2 horses on the property, along with a giant mobile home, a trailer, and about 6 gigantic tents that all together house around 50 hikers at a time. And then there's the actual house that Donna and Jeff live in. It's so awesome here.

The photo of me and 3 other people, that's Team 808, we are all from Hawaii. Last Minute (the dark hair guy) and I are from Oahu, Pineapple and Express are from Paia, Maui. Too bad Dazzle (Kauai) isn't here. The photo of me and 2 people are Molasses (girl) and Ben. We are the Nocturnal Wander Crew because we all love night hiking. Oh, Ben is also an amazing pianist, so is another guy named Weather Carrot. There is a piano at the Saufleys and they were jammin!

I spent the day at the saufleys organizing my 5 packages as well as my resupply package. That pretty much took all day. Lol. At some point tonight I decided i was going to night hike the 24 miles to the Anderson's aka Casa De Luna.

That was nuts. I left the Saufleys at 9:30pm and got a ride to the trailhead. And just kept walking and walking, and eating and walking at the same time. Around 2:30am I got really really tired. I ate some energy/electrolyte gummy candies and felt better. I got my 2nd wind around 3:30am. Then at 4:30am I got to a water cache about 7 miles from the Anderson's. I was hiking in flip flops up til that point; I changed into my 5 finger shoes because when I get tired I trip over things a lot, and I didn't want to lose toenails. The sky was also getting lighter, I knew the sun was coming up soon, yay!! I can do this!! :)

Around 5:30am I got really tired again. And my feet were starting to hurt. Must...keep...walking! When I got to about 3 miles out, I was soooo tired. I dumped all my water to lighten my load (I didn't need it at that point), and drank some of my wine (I had about a liter). Lol, those last 3 miles were awesome. My pack was way lighter, and the wine helped warm me up and gave me a happy buzz. :)

I was so tired when I finally got to the road at 8:30am, I just sat down for 30 minutes. It took me another 30 minutes to get a hitch, I was later told the road is a connector road between Lancaster/Palmdale and Los Angeles, so people were probably commuting to work. The lady that eventually picked me up is a firefighter at the Mill Creek Fire Station (where I slept several nights ago), cool!!

I got to the Anderson's around 8:30am, ate some ice cream, and passed out. I was soooooo tired, at that point I was up for over 24 hours. Wheeee!!! Lol.