I mailed the blog updates from Mojave to Lake Isabella to my sister a few days ago (she should be getting them soon) and she will update when she has a chance, so the missing week is in the mail. I threw some pictures up today, so it should all go together.
Sierras.......here we come!!!
Guessing 7 days from here to Kearsarge Pass (including a day to summit Mt. Whitney...if the weather is nice) Then we'll come back up Kearsarge pass and hike north from there, but I'll try to find computer access in either Independence or Bishop around June 10th or so.
Monday, June 2, 2008
The Chief's b-day! We were up early and excited to get to the famous Kennedy Meadows! We gave Chief a birthday card (one we found in the PO in Mojave.......but it's the thought that counts!!) It sang Happy birthday to him! Then we hit the trail, 5 miles to the General Store where there is laundry, showers, ice cream and all of our boxes of "stuff". We were there by 7am! Took the picture to the left on the short road walk to the store. The place was full of excited hikers! When the store opened at 9am, we picked up our ice axes, new shoes, our bear cannisters full of food for the next 7 days and some more resupply stuff we had sent. We got right to work and figured out if we had enough food, bought some more and filled the cannisters full, tried on the new shoes (montrail hardrocks, but they are owned by a different company now.......we'll see if they hold up as good as the last pairs we had) I had to go up one size due to feet swelling! We ate a pint (each) of Ben n' Jerry's and got our computer time in! Now it is 7pm (what a long day) and we just had our fill of a spaghetti dinner that the store put on for the hikers. We'll be going to bed soon, excited about tomorrow! But now I have to go back and make sure the bear cannister is going to fit in my pack! (minor details!!) Hi to Kevin Rooney who lives nearby and tried to meet up with us around Walker Pass 2 days ago, sounds like you only missed us by a little bit, which is amazing considering how long a trail it is! Thanks for thinking of us! Ok, that's it for now, next update will be around June 10th when we hike out of the Sierras to resupply in Independence or Bishop (cause we heard the store in Independence has closed)
What a great sunrise and nice morning walk we had! 3 miles of ridge walking and then like 5 downhill, we hiked 8 miles by 8am! Easy hiking that is for sure! Stopped by the Fox Mill Spring, filled up on our water for the rest of the day and kept on walking (basic theme here.......walking) Walked through an old burn area with lots of purple lupine and small yellow flowers blooming and came around a corner and WOW, the Sierras! We could see them! Snow covered and just waiting for us to get there! Yeah, feel the excitement! Walked down to a stream and it was 3pm and we'd hiked 21 miles, so we rested there for a bit, washed the feet/legs (still very dirty hiking, dusty and dirty trail) and then we pushed on a few more miles for a good ole 25 mile day. We could see smoke in the distance (but not too far distance) from some sort of fire today. Noticed I have a few sunblisters coming back on my hands.....time to use more sunscreen. To bed by 7:20, a good day and tomorrow will be even better!
Said goodbye to Meadow Ed and the crew and back on the trail we went by 0650. Uphill we climbed.......maybe the extra food we bought wasn't such a good idea afterall?! Ate lunch with Samuri (she hikes about 500 miles of the PCT per year and her hike is done in 2 days for this year) Met a new couple on the trail from England (no trail names yet) Warm day hiking....or maybe it was the extra weight! When we reached the spring, we rinsed our feet, legs, arms, basically everything! Neighbor practically did a full laundry wash there! But it felt good! Saw 2 horny toads relaxing in the sun, smack in the middle of the trail, I stepped right over them and never saw them until Neighbor yelled, Hey, did you see these toads?! I went back and took a picture (see above) don't they look like they are kissing?! Stopped hiking just before 6pm on top of a ridge. Mac n' cheese for dinner.
Up early and hiking by 0530! Beautiful morning and close to the road, we saw a sign that said "Pancakes".......say no more, we are there! We walked down to Walker Pass Campground and found Meadow Ed and Meadow Mary with fruit, pancakes and the works (see picture to the left...that was the set up)! We each had a pancake and then set out for the road to hitch into Lake Isabella. Roadside, within 10 min a nice lady with a large drooling dog named Goliath pulled over in her Solara! So, Neighbor, Chief and I jumped in! I got to sit next to Goliath and he seemed to like the salt on my pants........during the 40 min car ride, he managed to lick most of it off.......yummmmmy. Anyway, we made it to Lake Isabella and quickly found the Kern Motel and decided not to stay the night there and headed for the famous milkshake diner! That was worth the trip! Oh my gosh! Over 100 different varities of milkshake.......ahhhhh! Neighbor and the Chief got Cookies and Cream/pistachio/something else and I got a chocolate/peanut butter/resees pieces! Wow! Then I got an omellette and the guys got Bacon cheeseburgers! Only when hiking can I eat like this and I love it! I'm still dreaming of that milkshake! Afther that, we waddled over to Vons (supermarket) and resupplied for the 51 miles of hiking to Kennedy Meadows (2 days and 1 morning of hiking) Then we caught a bus to Onyx for $1 and then caught a ride with 2 dirtbikers back up to Walker Pass, the funny thing is .......they know Stinky and Chris! Really small world! So, back at the campground for the night Meadow Ed was cooking up some steaks and salad which we gladly took part in and then we crashed for the night, bellies full! (after apple pie) :)
Cold night but an amazing amount of stars. Another day of easy walking. Someone said the large snow covered mountain in the distance is Mt. Whitney! We saw more mountain lion tracks today (the locals call them pumas). Saw Laces and Lucky on the trail and that was it for hikers. Camped at McIvers spring with Chief, Vizor and Super (same crew as last night.) Hiked about 20 miles today by 4pm. The talk of the evening was all about going into Lake Isabella tomorrow morning! The famous milkshake place is going to be busy when we show up! Then its only 51 miles (2 days + 1 morning) of hiking to Kennedy Meadows. We are going to carry lots of food and eat good! Since we are used to carrying 5 days of food, 2 1/2 days will be nothing- so we'll carry extra! We are at miles 644.1 and feeling good- our bodies are finally in hiking shape!
Woke to damp sleeping bags and tent fly again. Cold morning, wool hat and gloves to start the day. Feeling low on energy, both Neighbor and I had to tighten our waist belts recently, so we know we're starting to lose weight. On the AT we both wore elastic waist shorts, so it wasn't a big deal, but now we're wearing nylon khaki pants and they are feeling loose. Hiking in the pine trees, large boulders everywhere, expansive views, its just wonderful. Made it to a road where people left water in jugs for hikers (called a water cache) by noon and that was 14 miles for the day. Dried out our gear there and devoured PB & pita for lunch. Walked another 8 miles after lunch. Warm afternoon, I even rolled up my pant legs and let the breeze blow on my skin. Heard many chirping bugs in the bushes- sounded like people snapping their fingers. Ate a meal that Pilgrim sent us "curry in a hurry"- that rocks! We might have to order a few of those online! Good stuff- then I made another interesting jumble of food in a pot meal and we finished dinner off with a tootsie roll pop. 28 miles to the next town- we were going to go into Onyx, but everyone keeps saying that Lake Isabella is the place to go. A store there has the best milkshakes on the trail, so Lake Isabella it just might have to be! Oh- we saw a big mountain to the north today, covered in snow! Its got to be in the Sierras!
My Mom's birthday- happy birthday Mom! We slept until 6am! Considering we went to bed at 6pm...that was a good nights sleep. Easy walking today, only 4 or 5 miles to the spring. Our tent and sleeping bags were damp, so we dried them out at the spring. Met a man who works for the wind farm and he told us how 1 windmill puts out 400 kilowatts of electricity per hour and the average house only uses around 200 kilowatts per month. Thats impressive, these are some windy mountains and we walked past hundreds of windmills today. The next water was 19 miles from the spring, so that was our destination for the day. The scenery is changing, more pine trees, less cacti, glacial valley below, mountains seem more impressive...I like it! Walked through a herd of cow, they stop grazing as we walk by and just stare. I move quickly through them. I know cows don't "charge" but they are big animals and I'm not hanging around! The sun came back today-ahh-feel the warmth. And yes I put on my sunscreen! I use celazome and I buy it from Michelle at www.orgskincare.com. She's great :) We made it to Robin bird spring by 6pm (mile 602.2). 7 others here, which is amazing considering we didn't see any other hikers today! Cooked up one interesting dinner- all in one pot was Annie's shells and cheese, some sundried tomatoes, a package of spring vegetable organic ramen, peas, carrots, corn, onions (from Just Tomatoes) and a foil package of sweet and spicy tuna! Tasty!
Up early and caught our 0630 ride. We asked someone yesterday to give us a ride to the trail, otherwise we might have been hitching all day long! Get us out of Mojave! Cold back on the trail, clouds flying by and drizzling, brrr. We got moving fast to stay warm. Chief, Wasa, Neighbor and I hiking together. We crossed Highway 58 (for those of you following our progress on the Triple A map) and climbed uphill. We realized that once we get above 6,000 feet, we won't come back down for another 700 miles! Great view back into the desert. We heard a few explosions from the military base below and joked that it was a meth lab blowing up! No water for 26 miles. So our packs are heavy and we have a full resupply of food, so we called it quits after 22 miles, only 4pm but it felt good to stop early. Cooked a chicken and rice dinner and crawled into our sleeping bags.
We forgot to get fuel yesterday and by the time we remembered, the Napa store was closed, so we had to wait until they opened today at 9am. We usually use denatured alcohol for the stove, but when that isn't available, we use HEET (antifreeze). So we walked to Napa, then looked towards the mountains we were headed for and noticed the big dark scary clouds and decided to stay in town for another night. Then we decided to try to "slackpack" the next 8 miles in between roads (leave most of your gear in the room and just hike with light packs). So, we tried hitching out of town for 30 min and gave up, most of the people driving by were from out of town and probably didn't even know about the PCT and the rest were from town and I wouldn't have wanted a ride from them! So, we went to the grocery store instead and bought some food for lunch, went back to the room and actually relaxed! Watched the Weather Channel and watched the big dark scary clouds get scarier and scarier! Cheese pizza and rootbeer floats for dinner. Oh and I've learned something new over the past few weeks- what tweekers are. I've never even heard the term before, but now I'm surrounded by it. For those who don't know- tweekers are the meth addicts and a few areas we've hiked through are full of them. Chels called our room! I had called her earlier but she was flying home from San Diego- so when she got the message she called our room back...what a great surprise!
Hiking by 0530, 13 miles to Mojave, putting on the wet shoes wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was a cold morning, I had 5 layers on top (all the top layers I'm carrying) and my wool hat and nice wet gloves. Up, up, up we climbed, into the snowy mountains, the wind was so cold, but we soon warmed up and took a few layers off. A dirtbiker was playing around in the snow last night and made an absolute mess of the trail. We were now walking in 4-5 inches of snow mixed with mud and once the sun started warming things up- yuck! We were able to walk alongside the trail on top of the snow without falling through for awhile, but eventually things softened up and snow kept going in our shoes! We made it back down to 4,000 feet and to the road (where everything was dry and snow free) and caught a ride into Mojave and right to the post office. Picked up 2 letters (one from the fam and one from Gram and Papa) and 2 care packages! One care package from Pilgrim who wanted to spice things up for us with "curry in a hurry", some thai meals, asian noodles and trail mix and Lindt chocolate (which never actually makes it to the trail because we eat it so quickly!) Thanks again Pilgrim!! I love the surprise of a care package and you just never know what you'll find inside. The other care package from Priscilla with what she says are homemade cookies (but they are the same ones she mailed last time and tried to pass off as homemade, so I'm not so sure if they are store bought or really homemade!) Either way- we loved them! Thanks! Some lipton side meals, instant potatoes and spices which are staples out here for us. A small bar of soap which I'm sure was a joke, but it'll come in handy, so I'm going to carry it. A familiar looking deodorant from Christen, which I know was a joke and I'm not carrying! Thanks for the thought. And many other snacks and treats that we will eat over the next 94 miles to Onyx. Anyway- then we walked the 1 mile to Motel 6 and being Memorial Day weekend and a Saturday, we thought we'd be paying tons of money for a room, but it was very reasonable and we quickly moved in and spread out all our wet gear. (the tent, fly, groundsheet, sleeping bags, packs) basically everything we were carrying was either wet or damp. Then we showered, went to the library and checked email/updated blog as much as possible, and picked up some bars (cliff, powerbar, nature valley, luna, odwalla, etc) per day. So the next stretch to Onyx is 94 miles (roughly 4 1/2 days of walking) so we needed 32 bars between the both of us. Then Chief and Wasa showed up at the motel and we all went out (across the street) for spaghetti and meatballs.
Good night sleep- our first time sleeping "cowboy" on the trip (no tent, just on the sleeping pad, in your sleeping bag). I woke and saw the moon rising over a city in the distance. Up and hiking by 0615, lots of flat mile ahead of us this day. Many clouds in the distance hovering around some mountains we were to climb later. Met up with "The Brothers" (Brit, Water Buffalo and Chunks) and before long...it started to sprinkle! Wow- our first rain the whole trip! We put on our trusty precips and away we went. The sprinkles turned into rain, ummm, yuck and with no rainpack covers, our packs soon were a bit heavier than we really wanted. Everyone said, "Oh, it never rains in the desert, and if it does, its only for an hour- then the sun comes out again." Well, the rain turned into HAIL and then thunder! This is not what we expected for the Mojave Desert, that is for sure! Wet shoes, wet packs, wet everything! Yuck! We kept hiking and came upon a couple hikers who had started a small fire to stay warm by! Yeah- Neighbor, Chief, Wasa and I all huddled around and it felt great! The hail stopped and the sky started to brighten, so we decided to make a run for it- another 3 miles to a spot where we could camp. The trail was so waterlogged at this point, rocks started sliding down the trail, eek! The hail started up again and then the thunder- so we got to the canyon- we set up the tents and climbed in to get warm. Only 3pm, but we were at 4,000 ft and had 13 miles to go until we got to the road to Mojave and the trail goes up above 6,000 ft and we didn't want to mess around with the cold winds, hail, and being soaked and have to camp in the snow. Cooked 2 meals for dinner and went to bed by 6pm!