Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day 50 - wa736 to campsite at pct mile 753

After another chilly night (hang on tight, it's going to be that way for several weeks now)  we got up and started packing our stuff. Happy Pants was already gone.
After worrying about water so much last evening, Yair and Idan decided they had enough water on them, and didn't go down to find the stream and get more water. I had plenty on me anyway.
The walk towards the next water source, Diaz Creek, was easy and pleasant. We got there into hours, and filled up our water for the next section.
From there, we had an easy climb up through some passes, until we reached a beautiful snow water stream for our next refill. The views towards Horseshoe Meadows were very nice.
We met Young Oak, the other French guy on the trail, as he came up from Lone Pine. He stopped at the stream to cook lunch, and told us he plans to hike all the way to Mammoth in 7 days. That's an ambitions plan. Hope he makes it.
From there we had a short and nice climb up to Cottonwood Pass, which had good views in both directions. Idan "felt" this might be a good place to get cell signal, and he was right. It wasn't the first time he had done this, so henceforth he will be known as Signal.
View from Cottonwood Pass, down towards Horseshoe Meadoes
Our next stop was a bit higher, at Chicken Spring Lake, where we filled up for the night. Yair and I filled from the lake's outlet, but Idan (Signal) wasn't lazy, and went a bit further to the lake. He said it was freezing around it, but it was amazing. He also got much cleaner water.
Chicken Spring Lake, our water source for the evening
It was getting a bit late, at 16:15, and we were a bit too tired to continue all the way over to the trail to Rock Creek, about 4 miles away. So we headed out to walk together, and just find a good, sheltered spot to stop for the night. It was going to be over 11,000 feet anyway, so we hoped to get away from any cold winds, at least.
Just another selfie
We finally found a nice, flat, area just off the trail, about 2 miles later. That leaves us 15 miles to get to Crabtree Meadows tomorrow, as a base camp before summiting Whitney.
We cooked in the warm sun, but as soon as it went behind the ridge, the temperature dropped. We finished eating quickly, got everything in the bear canisters and headed to bed.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 49 - wa722 to wa736

Today was a bit strange.
Last night was pretty cold up there. I put on everything I had, and managed to sleep.
In the morning we left a bit late, and headed out to finish the climb from yesterday. It wasn't too long, and we had good views from the top on some snowy mountain tops.
Nice views down from the ridge
From there we had about 6 more miles of down hill, until Death Canyon Creek. We took our time on some stops, and also had lunch at the creek, before going to its spring source to filter some water.
At the source we had to use a zip lock bag to get the water from the small stream, and it all took too long. In the end, we only headed out at 14:30. Way way too late.
A nice tree stump
We had 5.5 miles of climbing up to a spring which had no info on the water report, so we didn't know if we'll have water there or not. We had some plans to hike further 6 miles to a dependable water source, but this late in the day, it was clear we will not make it. We figured we'll hike just a bit after the first spring, and camp somewhere on the way.
Some more mountain tops
The climb up was long indeed, but we got some good views up to the Sierras, and down to a big valley on the other side. When we got to the side trail to the unknown spring, we decided to stop for the day, and just find a relatively sheltered spot for the night. It was already around 18:00, and the winds were strong.
We found a nice spot. I hope it won't be too windy up here. We made camp, and cooked dinner. Happy Pants came a bit later. First time we've met him. He is from France. He also went further down and found the water, so we will get some tomorrow.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 48 - Kennedy Meadows campground to wa722

Phew. Another one of those "hardest on the trail" days.
It started nice enough with some walking up along the Kern river, and then up some smaller stream. Long climbs, but nothing exceptionally hard. We made decent time, and figured out we'd reach our destination early, at around 16:00. So we planned to push a bit further.
After another little climb in a beautiful meadow, we filled up some water at a very nice spring on a short side trail. Later we had another break under a tree overlooking the Kern river again. The trail went down to it and crossed it on a nice bridge.
Crossing the South Fork Kern River
Idan getting water to clean his socks (away from the water)
From there, the big climb started. We climbed about 800 feet up in 4 miles, to our initial destination. The water there looked bad, and we couldn't see any good camping spots nearby. It was early anyway, so it was 2.5 more miles, with 1300 feet climb.
Entering a wide meadow
A nice panoramic view of the canyon
Horrible. We all felt the impact of the altitude, getting over 2500 meters. I could feel the air I was breathing was not enough for hiking on. Idan really felt dizzy, and Yair said he felt the shortness of breath even before. We really walked this last bit slowly, worried that the water source wouldn't have camp spots anyway, and we'd have to carry on (and up).
Nice tree near our camp site for the night
We finally got here at ~18:00, and found good spots. We filtered our water and made dinner, and am now in our tents, hoping the night won't be too cold, at 9700 feet (2960 meters).

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day 47 - Kennedy Meadows to Kennedy Meadows campground

Today was almost a zero day.
We woke up to a chilly morning, and Yair took off to Ridgecrest to return his rental car. We were hoping he'd have good luck hitching back.
Bambi and Rudolph relaxing at the "Internet Cafe"
We finally got our laundry done, and had a shower, after the water shortage ended. So we were relatively clean. I then started the task of arranging my food for the next 7 hiking days. It's a long stretch, and we also have to fit about 5 days of food inside our Bear canisters. I managed to get all of my food inside my canister, for the entire 7 days. I just don't eat that much. I hope I won't get too hungry on the trail.
Yair got back just before 13:00, and we decided officially that we'd head out in the evening, just to hike the short, 2.4 miles trail to the campground.
We spent the rest of the time organizing, sending boxes to Lone Pine, eating good meals I got from home (thanks!) and laying around.
At about 18:00 we left the general store, and headed out. We stopped to weigh our heavy packs at the Internet Cafe. Idan's was 40 pounds, Yair's was 35, and mine was just 30. I hope I didn't forget anything.

Entering Bear country
The trail to the campground was easy, and Yair got his first taste of the pct. Once there, we found a nice spot not far from the water spigot, set up camp and made dinner.
A short while later Big Boots, Sock Pot and Twice came by, and made a camp fire in their campsite. We joined in for a while, and it was very nice. Penguin also showed up and camped nearby.
All in all, a very relaxing and easy day.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Day 46 - Fox Mill Spring to Kennedy Meadows

Today was a good day.
I slept well during the night, and we managed to pack up quickly and head out early at 7:15.
We had a long climb to start our day, but we were done with it fast enough, and started the long long descent to Manter Creek. The trail just went down and down along the ridge, and every time we turned a corner, there was more descending trail ahead of us. It took forever. And the day started getting really hot.
Finally, we reached the creek at about 11:00, and ate some snacks. The water didn't seem too good, so I filled up 1 liter, and didn't bother to filter it. I figured I'd carry it just in case I'd run out of water, and only filter it then.
This rattler started rattling away right when Idan passed it, and I was behind. We both jumped instantly.
The next water was the Kern river, about 4.3 miles north, and we have finished all the major climbs of the day. The trail was just rolling up and down some hills, and crossing some low saddles.
At one point I was walking about 1-2 meters behind Idan, when suddenly we heard a loud sprinkler like sound. Idan jumped forward two or three steps, and I jumped back several steps, and we saw a Rattler right between us, to the right of the trail, all coiled up and rattling. I took a large detour on the other side of the trail (and didn't forget to get a photo).
Chilling my feet at the Kern River
When we got to the Kern river (well, the south fork of it), it was just as I fantasized - a wide rolling river. It was really hot outside, and I was really sweaty, and I kept thinking about jumping in. But at the end I just dipped my feet and legs. It was still very nice. We also got some more good water for the final stretch of the day.
The 700 mile marker
The remaining 4.3 miles were again - rolling trail with minor ups and downs. We got out of the shade just at 13:30, so it was definitely hot, with almost no shade on the trail, and just an occasional wind.
We saw some buildings ahead and to the right, and we hoped one of them was the Kennedy Meadows general store, but the trail just went on a bit further, before it finally reach the paved road.
Walking on the hot road at 15:00 was no fun, and we kept looking for the Internet Cafe, assuming all the hikers will be there. We passed something that seemed like it, from the photos we've seen, but it appeared to be deserted and closed. We moved on to the general store, and finally found all the hikers.
We claimed a spot behind the store, and bought some cold drinks and relaxed a bit. Idan had a burger, and then we got all of our boxes and set up our tents. Idan was hoping he'd get a hold of Yair before he arrives up here, so we went to the Internet Cafe to try and call him using Skype.
The Internet Cafe is no Cafe. It's just some trailers and chairs laying around, and there's wifi there. Tom, the owner, is not around. So Pink Panther runs it at the moment, and she gave us the wifi password. She also gave us our loaner Bear canisters and Idan managed to replace his small Garcia with a bv500. Lucky.
My food bag for the next section - a bear canister
We got no luck with the Skype, and headed back to the store. A short time afterwards Yair arrived and parked his car. It was really good to finally see him, and we helped him unload all the stuff he brought over for us. Some of it from back home, and some were just fresh supplies he bought yesterday.
Yair and I had veggie burgers for dinner, and Idan bought his mother's excellent chocolate cake to share with everyone around. He later brought some Israeli snacks as well, and people were really interested.
With all the boxes and food we've got here, I will have to figure out tomorrow what I'm going to carry. I need to fit around 5 days into my Bear canister, and carry 2 more days outside, for the days before we reach the places where it's mandatory. It's going to be a pain.
Oh, and the zippers on my tent's bug netting started giving me a hard time. Right before entering mosquito country. I hope I can fix it here somehow.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Day 45 - Joshua Spring to Fox Mill Spring

Today we had quite a day. It was exceptionally hot, and we had a lot of climbing to do.
The first one was in the morning. We managed to do most of it still in the shade, before the sun came over the mountain range to our east.
Crossing the ¼ trail mile mark
From there we went down, and found an unexpected water source just half a mile before the expected one. It was a pretty nice looking creek, and we got good water from it. We also had a nice breakfast there.
And then - another major climb. This one was even longer, and after a lunch break at the "top", we climb a bit more.
Purple flowers in bloom
The day was getting very hot, so at the saddle before the big descent we made another long stop, about 7 miles from the end. But we couldn't bring ourselves to wait out the heat, and headed into the 5 miles hike down at 14:00.
When I got near the Chimney Creek, and the road, at the bottom of the valley, I ran into Bambi. She immediately said "follow me for some trail magic". I literally ran after her to the road, where she gave me two bottles of Gatorade, two cookies, and two tangerines. She also offered a full subway sandwich to split with Idan, but it wasn't vegetarian, and contained ham, so we both didn't take it.
Apparently Steve was just there, picking up Steady for the day, and he gave Bambi and Rudolph all that stuff (and more. They got their share). So we got some awesome magic.
There was also a cooler by the creek. It contained mostly empty cans, but I found one beer can (and so did Rudolph), and Idan drank a diet, decaffeinated, coke. We also had apple squash from there. So all on all - a great stop.
We rested there for about an hour, before the final 2 mile, 1000 feet climb. We got to camp at about 18:00, and found Rudolph and Bambi here. Rudolph hurt his knee yesterday, so they are taking it slow into Kennedy Meadows now. Hopefully they will get there tomorrow.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day 44 - Lake Isabella to Joshua Tree spring

The plan was to do a longer day, of about 19 miles, but we had a hard time hitching on the freeway ramp. We moved to the main street, near the McDonald's (and I got a vanilla shake) and it didn't work much better, until a pickup stopped, and the driver said he'd be right back and take us up to Walker Pass.
It turns out he is the guy taking down the trash from Yogi's cook out up at the campground, and he also just dropped some other hikers at the motel. Anyway, he got us back up just before noon. A late start on a hot and hard day.

Yogi's Trail Magic at Walker Pass
View back towards the pass
We hung around the campground for a while, got cheese toasts for lunch, and drank some cool soda, but finally we headed out at 14:00, aiming at the spring about 13 miles down the trail.
The hike started with a long long climb. We stopped for some munching at the first campsite, 4.5 miles in. But it just kept on climbing afterwards. We did manage to make our second short stop at the top of the climb, so since then it was all downhill for the rest of the day.
Nearly at the top of the climb
We got to the spring just before 19:00, and headed down the steep side trail to the water. Down by the trough there was a weekend hiker setting up camp, and another guy we just met at the cook out, taking a sort of a hiker bath, with a bandana. We just filled out our water, treated the for the first time with Aqua Mira (because Idan is worried that in this section filtering isn't enough), and headed back a short way towards the trail, where we saw a nice spot for our tents.
Near the Joshua Tree spring
A quick dinner, and we are going to sleep late now, at 20:30. Tomorrow a long and hard day.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Days 42-43 - zeroing in Lake Isabella

After the great trail magic dinner up at Walker Pass campground, we also had pancake breakfast for dinner. I failed miserably, and only had one. What can I say? I'm not a breakfast person.
There was another hiker that came in last night, after doing a 40 mile day. And two more that strolled in this morning after doing over 30 yesterday. They were all heading out, and not going into town.
We went out to the highway, and got a hitch in about 10 minutes. The lady who picked us up, Helen, said she just started noticing hikers on this road this year. She leaves in Ridgecrest, and drives over to Lake Isabella every Friday. Two weeks ago she picked up a thru-Hiker from Scotland, and first learned on the whole pct. She was very interested in our hike, and asked a lot of questions about it.
When we got down to Lake Isabella, she said she'd like to take us over to the next town of Kernville, to show us the nice Park over there. So she drove 10 extra miles over there, and we saw the nice Park and the Kern river over there.
Afterwards she got us back to the Lake Isabella motel, and we waited for Big Boots, Rudolph and Bambi. We all shared a two queen size bed room, and Big Boots got to sleep on the floor (and pay less).
We did our laundry while waiting for the room to be ready, and later had a shower. It feels so much nicer to be clean in towns.
Idan and I went over to eat something for lunch. I had a burrito. It was all right, but wasn't made of the freshest ingredients. Then we went to Vons and got supplies for the next, 2.5 days, section to Kennedy Meadows. We also got some town food for tomorrow breakfast and lunch.
Many other hikers arrived during the day, filling up the motel. At the evening Writer came in with a new shipment of hikers, including Penguin. Writer has started a thru-hike on April, and wanted to write about the trail and the hikers. She switched to section hiking, to concentrate more on her writing. She posts her articles on
I went for dinner with Big Boots, Sock Pot, Young Oak and Writer, at a nearby Mexican place (a real restaurant, not the fast food from lunch). Writer kept asking us about what motivates us, and what makes us hike the trail. It was an interesting conversation. She got our contact details so she will be able to ask more questions later, for her project.
On our second zero we pretty much did nothing except move three rooms down. And a sand twister took Idan's hat flying across the road, when we went out for lunch.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 41 - campsite at pct mile 625 to Walker Pass campground

It's seems to be the only photo I've got from that day, after I lost some I took with my phone. Damn.
Another long day.
We woke up to a tent filled with condensation, and had to take our time drying it out in the morning.
The first 5 miles of the trail breezed by, until we got to the Bird Spring road cache, which was indeed full. We also had trail magic in the firm of two picnic chairs and a cooler filled with Gatorade.
While we were sitting there, a truck came along with Forest, Sasquatch and Sharpa the dog. They work for the PCTA, and came around to survey the trail around the road, 5 miles in each direction. They also gave me a beer.
We went further, over a 1500 feet climb, the big climb of the day. It took a while (I think I counted 12 switchbacks), but we got to the top (and even had some cell signal up there).
Just as we were getting our lunch, before Yellow Jacket spring, it started raining a bit. But it ended before Idan managed to set up his poncho-tarp up.
The plan was to hike about 20 miles or so, and leave a few for tomorrow, to get into Walker Pass. But we saw we had plenty of time to make it all the way. So we hiked up some smaller climbs, until we got to the final, 5 miles descent into the pass.
I put on my music and raced down the trail. I met Big Boots just as he was going to find a camping spot before the pass, fearing that the campground at the pass itself would cost money. I guess I convinced him to come along, since he showed up down here several minutes after I did.
Down at the campground we got out second trail magic of the day. Yogi, Kate and Coppertone were there, giving sodas and starting to make dinner.
We got pasta in tomato sauce, and bread and salad. And ice cream from Coppertone for dessert. It was a great ending for a long day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 40 - Robin Bird spring to road crossing on pct mile 625

Last night was even colder than the night before, but I still managed to sleep OK. But this morning was really cold outside.
We took our time, as usual, and left camp last. I hiked most of the day with my wind shirt on, putting on my jacket as soon as we made a stop to eat something. It seemed like it will start raining almost all day long, except that it didn't really, for must of it.
Add caption
The hike itself was pretty nice, most of the day, except for a small section of burnt forest.
Our initial plan was to hike an alternate down towards Willow Spring, which was supposedly the last water source for 30 miles, until we reach Lake Isabella. But last night we heard that there is a water cache about 5 miles before Willow Spring, so we figured we'd fill up there and try to hike several miles further today.
When we finally reached the road crossing with the cache, we met Steve, who is supporting his wife Steady, and doing trail magic along the way. We got sodas, snacks and tangerines, and also filled up about 2 liters of water each. The cache itself was empty, and this wouldn't get us all the way to Lake Isabella, but Steve said there is another cache 15 miles further which should be full by tomorrow.
We went further, hoping to get closer to the cache for tomorrow, and hoping we are right to rely on it. Then we met a section southbounder, called GoalTech, who took our photos for his blog, and told us there is a lot of water at the cache. So that put our minds at ease.
We met Big Boots and Steady just at the second intersection with the spring alternate. They were planning to do 5 more miles, but Steady mentioned there's a good camping spot 1.6 miles ahead.
As we were heading out, the rain finally started, and I got pretty wet through my wind shirt. I knew it won't last long, but we agreed we'd tent up at that 1.6 spot until the rain stops, and then figure out what to do.
When we got there, the rain pretty much stopped. I set up my tent, looking for a rock to help me stake in the stakes, when Big Boots and Steady came around, and said they'd go 2 more anyway.
Idan wanted to keep going (it was just over 15:00), and finally he convinced me to take down my tent and head on.
Our camp spot for the night
The next 2 miles were pretty easy, and we got here with Big Boots and set our tents just in time. Rudolph and Bambi came in shortly after. They were planning to get to the next cache, but the weather convinced them to stay, and they also managed to get into their tents just as the rain returned.
We had our dinner inside my roomy tent, while the rain was falling outside. But now it has cleared up, and we even got enough sun to dry my tent. It might rain again during the night, but tomorrow should be warmer.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 39 - Golden Oaks spring to Robin Bird spring

Last night wasn't too cold, and I slept with just my base layer. There was no wind, which was also nice.
Crossing another burnt forest
It was supposed to be a somewhat medium day, at just under 20 miles. But it was cold all day, with some colder winds at some areas, which basically meant we didn't stop much, and when we did, we didn't rest for too long.
We made our lunch stop at the campsite where Geordi camped at last night. He was just getting up and having breakfast at 11:00. And he'll probably do the same trick tonight - get to the water, eat and fill up, and head out for some cold night hiking. I understand night hiking to avoid the heat, but there's not much heat around...
We were debating whether we should stop so early today, when it was around 14:30, and only 2.3 miles to go. But doing more today didn't make much sense. It would have made tomorrow easier, but tomorrow isn't too hard anyway.
When we got here, we met Big Boots, who was trying to decide if he should stay or go. He stayed eventually. We were setting up our tents, when the hail started coming. It wasn't raining at all - just small hail being dumped on us. So we are now in our tents, trying to keep warm.
The hail just stopped, so I'll head out to fill up some water bottles now.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 38 - Tehachapi to Golden Oaks spring

Well, we managed to understand how to catch the Kern bus from Tehachapi back to the trail. We did skip 8 miles of trail, since we got off at Willow Spring Road (mile 258), and got back on at highway 158 (mile 266). Oh well.
Just as we were starting our hike, a trail Angel came along and dropped Happy Feet, Glitter and Path Finder there as well.
Not much shade under those Jushua Trees
At first the trail just went parallel to the highway, but soon it took a turn and started climbing up. We made a short stop on what we hoped was close to the top, but then the trail just kept on climbing and climbing.
At the end of the climb we found a nice tree which already had Happy Feet and Geordi under it. We stopped for a while, and then noticed a cement goats head on that tree. That was creepy.
We went on, and the trail was rather nice for a while, before it got on a 4x4 road for 4 miles. But it wasn't that bad.
More wind turbines
The final 4 miles were rather easy, and we made it early to the spring, only doing just under 17 miles today.
We got some water to wash our socks, and set up our tents, when Happy Feet and Geordi came along. Path Finder, 10 Speed and Rags came along later, as well as Bambi and Rudolph. Glitter should also join soon.
Tonight it will be 3 degrees down at Tehachapi, and we are higher than the town. So it might be freezing here tonight.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day 37 - Zero day at Tehachapi

Breakfast at Kelcy's Restaurant
Well, for breakfast I went over to the nearby Kelcy's, which is a local establishment. I got eggs with onions, mushrooms and tomatoes, home fries and biscuits with gravy. It was very good, but I couldn't even finish it all.
Idan wanted a change of scenery, so we checked out of the Santa Fe, and headed over to the cheaper Ranch Motel. It's a bit off the main road, but the room was much better, so it turned out well.
Just a strange murial
Later we decided to go grocery shopping for the next section. We messaged Kay, and she picked us up in 5 minutes. That was really nice of her. We bought our food, meeting a lot of other hikers in the store. Early-B bought some freeze dried Mountain House meals at the nearby Big 5 store, so I ditched two Knorr meals and headed over there (with Kay driving). Sadly, they had no vegetarian meals over there, and I had to trouble Kay for another quick stop, this time at the other supermarket, to get two Knorr meals again.
Back at the motel, we were just resting and doing nothing, when suddenly Idan thought of checking whether Lake Isabella, our next stop, has somewhere to buy gas canisters. They don't. So we had to walk the long long way back to the Big 5 (nobody stopped to give us a ride), buy the damn big can they were selling (they didn't sell the smaller ones), and walk all the way back. Annoying and tiresome.
We were looking around for someplace to eat, doing a short tour in the main street. The Italian restaurant seemed nice, but Idan was too afraid by its atmosphere. Or maybe it was the fact that Penguin was there with her husband. Anyway, we left.
We passed by our old motel, and met Sock Pot, who told us that Cheese and Butters were in our old room (oh... the memories. Feels like it was yesterday), so we dropped by to say hello. Then we just got back to our room and ordered Domino's using their app. It wasn't easy, but we managed to get it to work.
And Pizzas for dinner

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day 36 - pct mile 549 to Tehachapi

Last night was very windy in the campsite. Shortly after I fell asleep I woke up when I heard both of my tent stakes being torn off the ground. It was still early as I got up to stake them back in, and Snail Trainer was just setting up his tent, next to Tim.
I put in the stakes in the ground, and moved some heavy logs over them, to keep them in place. My front stake still managed to get dislodged twice more during the night, until I finally secured it properly.
Apart from the wind, the night was rather warm.
In the morning we headed out to finish this little section and get into Tehachapi. It was only about 10 miles away, which were mostly downhill. Easy.
We only made one short pause on the way, and just after passing a water source (which we did not need) we started seeing the highway from above. This is the most frustrating bit - you see exactly where you need to go, and the trail keeps going in switchbacks, and along ridges, instead of just getting there!
My feet were hurting (not much more than usual, but still), and I just kept going on and on towards the road. Finally, we got there just as Snail Trainer did, and started to hitch towards town.
The third car passed us, and then came back. The driver, from across the road, asked us where we need to go, and whether we carry any weapons. He was quite insistent on making sure we don't carry anything, and even let it slide that in any case, he does. So we shouldn't do anything foolish... He seemed rather worried about giving two stinky hikers a ride for about 10 minutes.
Once we got in the car, his wife and him were very interested to learn about the trail, and how much we've walked so far. They were really nice, and got us right where we wanted to in town.
We were hoping to find a list of trail angels that allow hikers to sleep in their homes, but I assume that unless you run a huge operation like Hiker Heaven, or Casa de Luna, you can't handle the crowds anyway. So the trail angels of this town mainly offer rides around town, and to and from the trail. Fair enough.
We started checking out the local motels. The two Best Western are expensive ($90), so we headed down to the cheaper Santa Fe motel ($70), and crashed here.
After a shower, we got our laundry done, and wanted to head out to the supermarket, mostly to buy food for the day. Idan was just negotiating a ride there, when suddenly I saw Kay calling me from across the street.
Kay was our ride to the KO back from Idyllwild, and she lives in Tehachapi. She plans on hiking the pct next year, so she picks up hikers around town to build up her karma. I think her karma must be huge by now. We told her we were coming in today, but hadn't phoned her for a ride yet.
Well, now we gladly jumped in her car, which already contained Pedi, and she drove us to the Albertsons.
Idan was intent on eating at the McDonald's. So I had a small salad and fries. Yay. And we bought some stuff to keep us through the day (fresh guacamole and not-fresh hummus!), and then headed back into our tiny room (thanks again, Kay!)
We spent the rest of the day just sitting in his room. I took a 2 hour nap. And we tried to get our Sierra strategy working. Apparently we are getting way too early to Lake Isabella, so we'd have to meet up with Yair further north, in Kennedy Meadows. And even then - we might be getting into the Sierras too early. A report from the 16 said there is still plenty of snow over 10,000 feet, and the forecast is for some new snow coming this week. So we might get stuck there for a while. Together with all the other crazy hikers that pass us and run along north.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Day 35 - pct mile 529 to mile 549

After a short, warm, night at the spot we crashed in last night, we finally got up and got moving just around 7:00. We were still last to move from the campsite. And also had some hikers pass us, who, we assume, started before sunrise from Hiker Town.
Will trucking past me, in between the wind turbines
The first 5 miles towards the Cottonwood cache were like last night - a flat and boring road walk. The views are not all bad. There is something hypnotic in seeing all those wind turbines rotate together. And the heat wasn't THAT bad. And we had a nice wind to keep us chilled and relatively dry.
Will, Alpine Start, French Toast and two others which hall remain nameless (Sorry, I don't remember their trail names) at the Cottonwood cache
At the cache I drank a liter of Gatorade (from the powder) and had some snacks, before heading on towards our next stop, another 6 miles ahead.
We made a short nap stop on the way, and still managed to get to the Tylerhorse Canyon before it got to hot. We stopped under a nice, somewhat shady, tree on the left, and later discovered that "everyone" went down to a bigger tree, a bit off the trail to the right. Oh well. We still rested there for a couple hours, to let the heat pass.
We finally left to finish off our day at around 14:00, with about 7 more miles of climbing to reach the water cache at mile 549.
It was indeed a long climb, but we got there at the end. The cache had some gallon bottles with water, and a big stack of half liter bottles as a bonus. So we were all good.
A short while later Salt Shaker and Xtra Smile came along. They did what we did from last night. Only they started before dawn, this morning. So it's 30 miles with no full sleep. Very hard.
Early-b came in as well, as did Pedi, Quinoa, Soap Box and Half-n-half. Some of them camped here, and some went a bit further on.
Only a short day into town tomorrow.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Day 34 - Oasis cache to the middle of the Mojave

A very very long, and different, day.
It all started with a nice walk down towards the Green Valley Road, where Casa de Luna is. The trail was easy, and I especially enjoyed watching the trail climb up the mountain on the other side of the road, knowing that it was inside a fire closure, and I won't have to climb it.
We got to the road at about 10:00, and Cheese came in just after. Terry Anderson, the owner of Casa de Luna, just passed by with her car, and picked us up to the famous hostel.
Butters and Idan in Casa de Luna
Upon reaching Casa de Luna I was immediately given a beer. Then I was led to the Hawaiian shirt rack, where I picked one up for the duration of my stay there. The whole atmosphere was very laid back and relaxed, and it is really easy to decide to just stay there for a day or two. Every night is taco salad night, and the party is always on in the front yard, but at the back there is a manzanita grove, for quiet camping and sleeping.
We resisted the temptation and headed out at about noon, planning to hitch around the closure (no road walk for us). We met Sunbeam and Arctic at the gas station, eating ice cream, so we bought a pint of Ben and Jerry's as well, and shared it. It was a hot day.
Hitching the ride out of Green Valley wasn't easy. It took us about half an hour, when finally the local plumber stopped and took us to Lake Hughes. There it got worse - we tried hitching along with the Australian Girls (Mozi and Emu), but nobody stopped. Probably because we were too many. After we split, and headed down the road a bit, we finally got a ride in a pick up. The driver then also stopped for Mozi and Emu, and later for Alpine Start and French Toast as well. So we all got our ride into Hiker Town - our second trail Angel of the day.
Alpine Start, French Toast and Mozi on the ride to Hiker Town
On the ride to Hiker Town
Hiker Town is a bit different. We just went to the common area, and sat on the sofas until the heat of the day passed. The place was packed with hikers, some who actually did the road walk, and many were heading out at the evening.
Snail Trainer met a friend of his there, who bought a lot of beer and curry take out for everyone. After he left, Idan said he looked like the head guard from Prison Break. And then Snail Trainer said it was indeed Wade Williams - the actor from Prison Break. So Idan scored some points there. Apparently Snail Trainer used to date the actress from the ah-ha video "Take On Me", and she was friends with Wade's wife, and that's how they met. Funny story.
Anyway, we left Hiker Town at about 18:30, heading out for our first night hiking. The trail is all flat and boring for the following 17 miles, and quite terrible in the daily heat.
The open LA aqueduct
At dusk it was much more bearable. We got to the open LA aqueduct, and walked along it for a short while, and then headed into the Mojave desert on the aqueduct road. The sun set, and it was still quite warm, and we just kept on walking on those roads. When the moon rose, we didn't even need our head lamps. But it still felt like we were hiking extra miles at the end of the day, and not like we only did 7 before that. So every step hurt.
I took some ibuprofen, and was surprised to find out how that chemistry really does make the pain go away. But when we reached the point where the trail left the aqueduct road, at 22:20, we called it a night, and set up camp. Along with some other hikers who stopped here before.
Well, that was an experience.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Day 33 - Hiker Heaven to the Oasis cache

I managed to postpone our exit from Hiker Heaven until around 9.
At one point a group of hikers was digging a 6" deep trench for a pipe for the gray shower water to go to other side of the yard, instead of into the troublesome septic tank. I lent a hand.
A view back on the trail. Nice switchbacks.
Yesterday a reporter from Backpacker magazine interviewed Donna Saufley for their next issue. And since then a photographer was hanging around, shooting hikers doing hikers' stuff at the Heaven. He had a blast with all the hikers digging and moving dirt, you will definitely see some photos from that bit. I think he made every effort to avoid getting a photo of me, so I won't be on next month's cover. Or anywhere.
Well, we finally left the Heaven, and I got a good hug from Donna. I was surprised she remembered my trail name, and she wished me to enjoy my hike. It was very nice.
We got a ride to the trail head, saving us some annoying in town road walk, and headed out. The weather was hot, but it was a bit windy which kept things all right for me.
Siesta and Bomber having a nap.
At first we climbed up a small ridge, and saw Agua Dulce from the top. We finally reached a nice shady tree at the end of the climb, and met Cheese, Bomber and Siesta resting there. We joined in, and had a short nap, before heading over to the next spot.
That next spot was the first cache of the day. Another nice shady spot, the same cast of characters, and a shorter nap this time. From there, it was mostly a climb.
Nice view on Bouquet Reservoir. Sadly, we didn't end up there.
After finishing that final climb of the day, I put on some music to run the final, short, bit down to the cache. I reached it to find Baby Wipes resting a bit before heading out to Casa de Luna, and Gabriel and French Toast, who just reached there before me.
Baby-Wipes and Cheese at the Oasis Cache
Alpine-Start and French-Toast
The sodas and picnic chairs were very nice, and we rested for a bit before looking for tent spots. It wasn't easy to find a good tent spot around here, but we managed to find a relatively flat area in between some trees, on the other side of the trail.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Day 32 - Zero day at Hiker Heaven

This was the first zero day I took just to rest, and not just trying to get better from some injury or illness. It felt good.
I didn't sleep in, though. I guess I'm used to wake up with sunrise. Besides, I knew I'd be cooking inside my sleeping bag in 10 minutes, if I'd stay in it.
Having breakfast with Penguin, Cheese and Will at the Sweetwater Cafe
So, after a slow morning of doing nothing, I finally took a bike down to town for breakfast. I sat at the Sweet Water Cafe with Will, Cheese and Penguin, and we all filled our bellies with different variations of eggs. I had Florentine Benedict, and it was very nice indeed.
My breakfast
After breakfast I had to bike back up. I was worried about this bit, but I managed to make it back in one piece. I got just in time for the ride to REI.
In REI I only bought a pair of socks. I'm not sure the toe socks are really working for me, so I'll see how it goes on the coming days.
The trip to Wal-Mart was a pain. I had to buy supplies for the next section, as well as for three other sections throughout the Sierras, and also a bit for Yair, who will join us for that section of the trail.
I came back with a big box full of food I had to distribute to different boxes, and we shipped them from here. They really do run an excellent operation here at Hiker Heaven. I just hope we calculated all of our food rations right, and that we will manage to get some bagels and cheese along the way as well.
Right now we are getting ready to have our pita with humus and tomato dinner. I'm getting hungry just by thinking about it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Day 31 - Acton Koa to Hiker Heaven

As usual, we got up late, and were almost the last to leave the campground.
I last saw Idan when we were crossing the rail road, just beyond the KOA. He just went off and didn't look back.
The climbs weren't that bad, and I passed several hikers on my way up. The trail then went down and under a highway. It then entered the Vasquez Rocks Park, which was very nice, and has all those signs next to different trees, with their names on them.
At this point I figured out Idan is not going to stop until the end, so I found a nice shady spot on the side of the trail, and had my snickers. Soon, Sunbeam and Arctic joined me for a snack, and surprised me that we only have 3 more miles to go. Penguin joined us, and we headed out to the last bit together.
Arctic, Sunbeam, Penguin and her uncle, on the way to Hiker Heaven
After another short climb we saw what we thought was Agua Dulce, and were very disappointed to see the trail going around it and over another hill. Just before finally reaching town, this guy with a camera was walking towards us, and Penguin was very surprised to meet her uncle, who had been following her blog, and surprised her.
One if the many boxes Idan got here.
We finally got into Hiker Heaven at around 11:00, and I met Idan. I knew I could count on him to get us the best beds. We are now showered and done our laundry, been down to town for veggie burrito, and have finished our dinner pizza along with Cheese.
Hikers hanging their sleeping bags for airing
Cheese is impressed by the size of the pizza
Idan is already planning all of our mail drops for the Sierras, but I'll get to it tomorrow, before we head over to the Wal-Mart to buy supplies.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Day 30 - fire station to Acton KOA

Phew. Longest day yet, and it felt like it.
The initial plan was to do two medium days into Agua Dulce. So 17 today, and something similar tomorrow.
Last night was very windy, and one of my tent stakes took off before dawn (I found it later), but the tent held, and I slept fine. All through morning the wind continued, and it was rather cold. The trail went up along the ridge, half of it just bush walking, trying to avoid Poodle Dog Bush, and figuring out how to get over blow downs. It was terrible. We managed to miss the first campground, so we just sat on the trail and ate something for late breakfast.
View on the North Fork Ranger Station 
On we went, though, and managed to find the second campground for lunch stop. We hid at the entrance to the outhouse to avoid the wind. It didn't work.
Yet another blow down, right before reaching the Ranger Station
We finally reached the Ranger Station quite early, and I got a soda, and filled up some water. It was only about 14:00, so Idan made me keep on hiking for the day.
We had 8 more miles to the campground, and we limped away. I put on my music. It didn't make me fly today, but it made those miles a bit better. We had a final stop just before the climb. I used the time to count all my new blisters. Very picturesque. Then there were 4 miles left, and even the climb wasn't that bad, after I got over my initial hiker shuffle from after the break.
Nice desert views
As we neared the road next to the campground, we were stopped by Coppertone, whose trail magic we missed back at the exit from Deep Creek. Well, we got our fix of Root Beer Floats this time, and then limped away into the campground.
There are a lot of hikers gathered here. Most from last night, and many new ones. I just took an awesome shower, and am now relaxing on the grass just before making dinner.
Total today: 25.5 miles
Hikers chilling at the Acton KOA