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Hiking plans 2021

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    • I got the official OK for my time off from work for this summer's hiking. Whoo Hoo, bring on the mountain. We already have reservations in Baxter State Park for August. I don't remember the dates off hand. We're also going to hike NY+NJ, Delaware river to Hudson river. While we've covered that stretch already it was as a bunch of day or one night trips. And while we're in New England I still need to get Wildcat D.
    • Took off from Thursday September 2nd through the 12th for a trip to New Hampshire. 1.5 days driving each way, but still enough time to get some hiking in. The rough plan is to cover Pinkham Notch to Route 2 over two days and to finish my orphan hike between Franconia Notch and the Gale River Trail over another two days. Not a lot of AT miles, but a good compromise with Mrs. Tortoise to combine vacation time with hiking time.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, and Max Patch to Carter Notch NH
    • LIhikers wrote:

      I was home from work yesterday, to wait for the Verizon repairman. I started getting stuff together for our hike that starts on a week and 2 days. It's a huge pile, it's amazing what I grabbed. I'll have to go through the stuff again this weekend.
      I hear you. I put all of my hiking gear from tents to food to maps into labeled bins. Almost every bin on this set of shelves is hiking stuff.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, and Max Patch to Carter Notch NH
    • Our AT hike this summer starts next Saturday so I spent this weekend putting my pack together.
      The all up weight is 26 pounds without any water. I've got bottles that will hold 3 quarts.
      Even though there there will be some places where we could resupply along the way Kathy didn't want to do it that way and so we each have a giant food bag. She said she packed us each 12 days worth of food, my food bag is huge and heavy, and I'm willing to bet we'll have left overs, we almost always do. Anyway, next Saturday I don't know how far we'll actually hike as we have a lot of driving to do . First we'll drive to Bear Mountain State Park and leave our car there, that's about a 2 hour drive. Then our son will drive us over to the NJ/PA border which will take another 2 to 2.5 hours. Depending on what time we talk our son into leaving (he's not an early riser), at best we'll have half a day to walk. There's a camp site at about 4.5 miles in, but I hope we can get past there, we'll see. From the Delaware River to the Hudson River, which is what we're doing, is listed as 110 miles. Both Kathy and I will be using new packs for the first time as well as some other new items like tent and sleeping pad. We'll see how it all works out.
    • LIhikers wrote:



      Even though there there will be some places where we could resupply along the way Kathy didn't want to do it that way and so we each have a giant food bag. She said she packed us each 12 days worth of food, my food bag is huge and heavy, and I'm willing to bet we'll have left overs, we almost always do.
      I can guess what that food bag looks like! :)

      I carried a 10 day food bag once, plus a footlong sub and a drink for the first night which were too big to fit in the bag. I don't plan on ever doing that again.
      2,000 miler
    • LIhikers wrote:

      Our AT hike this summer starts next Saturday so I spent this weekend putting my pack together.
      The all up weight is 26 pounds without any water. I've got bottles that will hold 3 quarts.
      Even though there there will be some places where we could resupply along the way Kathy didn't want to do it that way and so we each have a giant food bag. She said she packed us each 12 days worth of food, my food bag is huge and heavy, and I'm willing to bet we'll have left overs, we almost always do. Anyway, next Saturday I don't know how far we'll actually hike as we have a lot of driving to do . First we'll drive to Bear Mountain State Park and leave our car there, that's about a 2 hour drive. Then our son will drive us over to the NJ/PA border which will take another 2 to 2.5 hours. Depending on what time we talk our son into leaving (he's not an early riser), at best we'll have half a day to walk. There's a camp site at about 4.5 miles in, but I hope we can get past there, we'll see. From the Delaware River to the Hudson River, which is what we're doing, is listed as 110 miles. Both Kathy and I will be using new packs for the first time as well as some other new items like tent and sleeping pad. We'll see how it all works out.
      You will have 'The Rocks of PA' from DWG to around Route 23. There must be some strong juju at Route 23 that kept the rocks from creeping any further north.

      I distinctly recall broiling in the sun on the open ledges around Sunrise Mountain and before the descent to I-87 and the Elk Pen parking area (Agony Grind). Bring sunscreen!
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, and Max Patch to Carter Notch NH

      The post was edited 1 time, last by StalkingTortoise ().

    • We've covered this whole section previously. But then it was done as day hikes or 1 nighters. We did one winter, 2 day hike that was so cold a ranger was parked at a road crossing to check people's gear. If he didn't like what he saw he was telling people to turn around and go home. I guess they didn't want to have to make middle of the night rescues. We passed inspection and went on our way.
    • LIhikers wrote:

      We've covered this whole section previously. But then it was done as day hikes or 1 nighters. We did one winter, 2 day hike that was so cold a ranger was parked at a road crossing to check people's gear. If he didn't like what he saw he was telling people to turn around and go home. I guess they didn't want to have to make middle of the night rescues. We passed inspection and went on our way.
      Something similar happened to me and one other hiker when we summited Katahdin. Katahdin was closed becasue of ice and snow but the ranger allowed us to summit after he inspected our gear. We were required to carry our full packs, becasue, as he put it, if you fall and are injured I can't get you until tomorrow. And if you don't have a tent, sleeping bag, and warm clothes you won't survive the night.
      2,000 miler
    • max.patch wrote:

      LIhikers wrote:

      We've covered this whole section previously. But then it was done as day hikes or 1 nighters. We did one winter, 2 day hike that was so cold a ranger was parked at a road crossing to check people's gear. If he didn't like what he saw he was telling people to turn around and go home. I guess they didn't want to have to make middle of the night rescues. We passed inspection and went on our way.
      Something similar happened to me and one other hiker when we summited Katahdin. Katahdin was closed becasue of ice and snow but the ranger allowed us to summit after he inspected our gear. We were required to carry our full packs, becasue, as he put it, if you fall and are injured I can't get you until tomorrow. And if you don't have a tent, sleeping bag, and warm clothes you won't survive the night.
      Having just hiked that today, I would say it is a good thing you were young then. :D
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Astro wrote:

      max.patch wrote:

      LIhikers wrote:

      We've covered this whole section previously. But then it was done as day hikes or 1 nighters. We did one winter, 2 day hike that was so cold a ranger was parked at a road crossing to check people's gear. If he didn't like what he saw he was telling people to turn around and go home. I guess they didn't want to have to make middle of the night rescues. We passed inspection and went on our way.
      Something similar happened to me and one other hiker when we summited Katahdin. Katahdin was closed becasue of ice and snow but the ranger allowed us to summit after he inspected our gear. We were required to carry our full packs, becasue, as he put it, if you fall and are injured I can't get you until tomorrow. And if you don't have a tent, sleeping bag, and warm clothes you won't survive the night.
      Having just hiked that today, I would say it is a good thing you were young then. :D
      It was no big deal at the time, just another mountain to climb, but yeah, I wouldn't want to do that now.
      2,000 miler

      The post was edited 1 time, last by max.patch ().

    • Yup,
      PCT Walker Pass to Crabtree Meadow (I hope). I am a little worried about my condition.

      I have a bearikade. I like it, but I found out after I got it that it is not rated for grizzly country. If I ever go there, I'll need to get a different one. Something to consider.

      I'm up at 4 AM, so goodnight all.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • Hello Guys, I am back from my PCT section.

      After only four days in the desert (Walker Pass to Kennedy Meadows), I desperately needed some R&R and took a few days off.

      I then did a three day hike from Horseshoe Meadow to Kennedy Meadows. That section went much better, but I did cheat a bit and picked the easy direction.

      A more detailed trip report will be delayed for sometime, because after I transferred the photos to my computer, I broke it.

      Had planned on a 130+ mile section, and only got another 100 in. Hope to be better prepared next year, but time seems to be slowing me down. Not even half way yet!
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • Kathy and I have been home from our river to river hike ( Delaware to Hudson river ) of 110 miles.
      After leaving our car at New York's Bear Mountain State Park parking lot our son drove us to the Delaware Water Gap.
      Our plan was to do this section in 11 days, covering 10 miles a day. It's been about 20 years since we hiked this section and it's a lot different than I remembered it being. Since we last did it either the ATC or New York/ New Jersey Trail Conference has imported an awful lot of rocks. As we covered the miles we saw lots of wild life. Deer was most plentiful, flocks of wild turkey, several kinds of snakes, squirrel and chip monk, and largest of all, a bear. But not to be out done by the animals we saw plenty of wild flowers of every kind and color. And maybe best of all, there were plenty of berries to snack on along the way. The first few days the humidity was very high, we had a couple of night time rain storms and one day of rain to hike in. There were lots of people out on the trail all along the way, day hikers, weekend hikers, section hikers and of course thru hikers going in both directions. We really appreciated the sandwich shop in Culvers Gap where we bought a brisket sandwich to have for lunch but we also went into Unionville, NY to have pizza for lunch and to resupply on snacks for the rest of the trip.

      I wish I could say that all went well but on day 2 a seam in my right shoe started coming apart and a couple of days later the same happened to my left shoe. As the seams got worse the shoes were no longer stable on my feet and so both feet wound up with some pretty big blisters I had to address a couple times a day. And then one day I tripped over a rock and went down hard hitting my left cheap bone on the point of another rock. OUCH! I just sat there for a while while I got past the shock of it all. It turns out I was just hurt, and not injured. Then a couple of days from the end I did something to my left knee, making it very painful when I put any pressure on it. It hurts just to stand up from a chair.

      Tomorrow we'll leave for Maine. We might as well still use the reservation in Baxter State Park. I sure won't be going up the mountain but Kathy's going to give it a go. I did take some photos but will have to wait to share them until after we get home from Maine.
    • Hope your knee feels better. Take it slow and easy at first. Good luck.

      Let me know if you need a pit stop north of Boston on your way back home. You can camp in my yard and even have a camp fire :) (North Reading, MA).

      S
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • OK, I have recovered my lost photos. Here is a 'Day One' Trip Report...

      Due to my late summer start, I could not hike my next sequential section north from Agua Dulce. That crosses the Mojave desert which I certainly did not want to do in July. Instead I skipped ahead with a plan of walking from Walker Pass to Whitney. As you will see, 'the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.'

      A Trail Angel named 'Tie Dye' was kind enough to get me the 50 miles from Mojave, CA to Walker Pass (which meant it was at least 100 miles of driving for him). I had never seen Walker Pass, so while I was hopeful it would be the gateway to the more verdant Sierra, it turned out I was still smack dab in the midst of the hot and very dry Mojave Desert. It was 104 degrees when we left Mojave, CA. Luckily it was a much cooler mid-nineties that evening at the pass.


      Walker Pass Monument. There is a water cache behind it.

      The Hike up from the road. Yup, this is the desert alright.

      Once I got out of sight and sound from the road, I camped. It had been a long day of trains, planes, and automobiles.

      The landscape.

      First Day selfie. Still nice and clean.


      OK, this was a key juncture in the hike. A dozen miles in was the first 'reliable' water source. Problem is that California is in a record drought. Even the reliable water sources were drying up. I did not know what I would find here. I carried 6 liters of water from Walker Pass. Camping the night before, and the 12 mile hike to here only left me with two liters. If this source was dry my plan was to turn around and hike back to the start. I could not risk moving forward. Fortunately, there was still a trickle. It took me 30 minutes to fill up 4 liters, but I had water again. And it was good!

      Walking into the sunset.

      So at the end of the first full day of hiking I was 14.5 miles in. (Another 1/2 mile to get water). I was feeling pretty good. The sun and heat had cooked my brain a bit, but as expected I felt it more the next day. It was clear and calm, so I found a flat patch of dirt at the top of my final climb and cowboy camped. This turned out to be a big mistake, but I will describe my woes that night in my next post.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • Day 2 on the PCT: Blown Away


      Here is a photo of last night's campsite, a flat patch of dirt at the top of a climb. It was a calm, clear evening when I got there, so I just spread my ground cloth and slept under the stars of the Milky Way. I had no problem falling asleep after the long hike and a day in the merciless sun.
      In the middle of the night a stiffening wind woke me up. I secured the belongings that lay around me as best I could, but the gusts kept increasing in intensity. Then drops of rain began to fall. This was a novel experience for me in the desert. I was caught in a bit of a quandary. I did not want my sleeping bag to get soaked, but the weight of my body was keeping my possessions secure from the sometimes gale force winds. Fortunately the rain was light, so I just lay there continuing my battle against the wind while suffering little harm from the rain. It still made for a long and sleepless night.
      By morning, the wind had subsided. Whatever moisture fell had dried. But some of my clothing and other items had been blown into the nearby brush, so I spent the morning going on a bit of an Easter Egg hunt as I packed up. Fortunately all that was blown to oblivion was my foam sleep pad and a stuff sack or two. I hiked on, a little weary for the wear.

      The Hike


      Spanish Needle Creek

      This little trickle of water is the best crossing of 'Spanish Needle Creek.' The crossing further downstream had all dried up. Most rivers get bigger as they flow, but in the desert they seem to get smaller. Most of my days are focused on getting to the next water supply and hoping it still flows. Water can be the difference between life and death. Well, now I'm being over dramatic. I only move forward if I have a viable escape plan, but every time I find water I breath a sigh of relief.


      A Garden of Blooming Yucca

      Here is a beautiful collection of blooming Yuccas. Normally I see plenty of wildflowers along the trail, but this drought has made such sights a rare occurrence.

      Mountains Beyond Mountains

      There was a bit of a climb today that was wearing me out. Surprisingly, another band of rain came through which actually chilled me a bit (I enjoyed that). I sat at the side of the trail under my umbrella waiting it out. I actually fell asleep for some unknown amount of time I was so tired before I moved on under a brightening sky.

      Still Life

      As darkness closed in on me at the end of the day the trail takes you down to a little traveled dirt road that lead to a BLM campsite. The area had beautiful rocks and ledges; mountain lion country! I would cautiously be sweep with my headlamp forward and behind me and overhead along the ledges I hiked keeping an eye out for mountain lions :)
      The promise of a water faucet at the campground kept me moving forward down the PCT and then off trail up Canebreak Road. Finally, at the furthest reaches of the campground, I found the faucet. Beautiful, plentiful cool water. I hung my hammock between two trees and settled in for a restful, worry-free sleep.
      ***************************************************************************
      Total PCT Miles: 14.5
      Other Miles: 1.1 miles to campground water
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • Day 3 on the PCT: Roasted, Toasted, and Sick to my Stomach

      EditChimney Creek Campground

      This is my campsite from the previous night at Chimney Creek Campground. Not a bad hang considering I set up in the dark. The single water faucet was across the way along with a pit toilet. Luxury!
      I was the only person here. In fact, I have yet to see another person on this entire journey.

      Interesting Tree Branch

      This interesting tree branch was at the site. The branch seems to have branched apart, but then grew back together. I love seeing the oddities of nature.


      One Lonely Wildflower

      the desert sections I can find the occasional splash of color. But hiking here in July in an unprecedented drought is a different story. This sad picture is the single wildflower I saw today.


      The clouds have cleared from the previous day's rain. I am walking under the hot sun again protected only by the small circle of shade created by my umbrella. I would die out here without my hiking umbrella. A few miles after I left last nights campsite, I came across a piped spring and troth called 'Fox Mill Spring.' I topped up a few of my empty water bottles there. The water had a yellowish tinge to it. Once I used up my good campground water and began to drink the Fox Mill Spring water I immediately began to regret it. It made me sick. The miles came very slowly after that. I was beat from the sun, I was getting the dry heaves from the water, and no doubt my electrolytes were getting screwed up from them both. I hiked on as best as I could.



      Light Beams from Heaven



      It is a funny thing on the trail. The trail can bring you from misery to joy in a second. Today I was feeling both simultaneously. I felt physically terrible, but at the same time how could I not be grateful and joyful when I see views like this? All I could do was laugh at myself between the convulsive stomach cramps, diarrhea, and spitting up gastric juices.

      Sunset

      With the poor mileage today I found my self in the unfortunate situation of hiking down a trail which was carved into the side of a ridge with no place to camp. It was getting dark, and I had run out of gas. I did not have the energy to night-hike by head lamp. Finally I just crashed right on the trail. I crawled into my bag at on an uncomfortably steep slope and threw up one more time.
      I fell asleep while watching shooting stars and thinking how lucky I am to have my family, to see all this beauty, and to be experiencing this very moment. Through good times and through bad times I hope all my friends Love their Life!
      *********************************************************************************

      PCT Miles: Only 9.0
      Other Miles: 1.5 from the Chimney Creek Campground
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • Day 4 on the PCT: I Reach Kennedy Meadows (South)

      The beauty of an uncomfortable dirt nap on the trail is that you have no problem getting up early. I arose and packed at 3 AM. I wanted/ needed to get to Kennedy Meadows today. I need to rehydrate and heal. I wound my way down this ridge under the stars with a bright moon as my guide. Only when the trail switchbacked in a dark ravine did I need to turn my headlight on. Dreams of a good meal and cold drinks propelled me forward.
      Still in darkness I reached the floor of a valley and crossed the dust dry Manter Creek bed. It looked like a good place for a flash flood if it ever rains here again. I lost the trail for a bit, but picked it up again by sweeping semi-circles on the opposite bank.
      As the sun was just coming up I was serenaded by owls. One would call nearby, and then others would answer in the distance. I never did see them. Just another one of those little things that lift my spirits, and make me smile inside.

      The Morning Golden Hour


      South Fork of the Kern River

      I've read descriptions from hikers how they were nearly brought to tears at the site of the South Fork of the Kern River after trudging through hundreds of miles of desert. In my case it was more like disappointment and horror at what this drought has done. The river was not flowing. What you see here are some pooled areas behind beaver dams. The water was stagnant and foul; I dared not drink it. The Kern River is home to the beautiful California State fish, the Golden Trout. I thought about the impact that this drought must be having on them, and all the other wildlife that depend on this river.

      Nearing Kennedy Meadows

      A Fixer Upper along the Trail

      The trail here took me through some meadow areas. These are sagebrush meadows, so they were not lush or inviting. I have always heard of Kennedy Meadows as being the 'Gateway to the Sierras.' I was looking forward to something verdant, but it is still hot, dry, and the sun is still merciless.

      Finally, the trail crosses a quiet paved road in Kennedy Meadows and there is a road walk to the Country Store. All I could think about that last half hour on the road walk was finding a spot of shade and cold drinks. Lots of cold drinks.

      Kennedy Meadows Country Store

      Not the best picture of the country store, but I took this so you could see the price of gas here.
      Walker Pass to here was a fifty-mile four-day hike. During that time I did not see another human being. Apparently smart people do not hike the desert in July. Kennedy Meadows is a bit of a ghost town too; the hiker bubble has long since passed.

      I stayed at the store for an hour drinking every kind of beverage I could buy. What I discovered was that the drink that made me feel better was coconut water. I am definitely going to bring some of that on my next desert hike instead of plain water. Even the thought of plain water makes me feel sick now. I got a ride to "Grumpy Bears' restaurant, but it was closed. Very disappointing. So, it was back to the country store.

      I really wanted and needed restaurant food, a cold shower, and a comfortable bed to get better. I decided I had to get out of Kennedy Meadows and find civilization. The lady in the Country Store called a trail angel for me who she said would give me a ride to the little town of 'Lone Pine.' An hour later who showed up to drive me but 'Tie Dye', the man who gave me that ride to Walker Pass.


      Tie Dye

      At the end of a long day we finally reached Lone Pine. Once again Tie Dye has driven well over 100 miles to give me a ride (probably on the order of 200 roundtrip for him). I enjoyed our conversation along the way. Before the evening was over I drank many more drinks, had a fine meal at my favorite California Chinese restaurant (The Merry-Go-Round), and enjoyed a cozy bed at the Historic 'Dow Villa' hotel. Life is good!
      ************************************************************************************
      PCT Miles: 12.2
      Other Miles: 0.5 roadwork to Country Store.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • Amazing Grace: Lost and Found in Lone Pine, CA

      All Creatures Great and Small


      Looking Back at Horseshoe Meadow

      At the end of two days of recovery in Lone Pine, CA I found myself with this view of Horseshoe Meadow at 10,000 feet and in the company of deer. If it had not been for the intervention of some fellow hikers I would not have enjoyed this moment, this place, this view, God's creatures. I am so very grateful that I met these fine folks and the fact that I am back on trail hiking again.

      But first, let me tell you about my time in Lone Pine.


      Loved this Chinese Restaurant in Lone Pine, Great People

      I love Lone Pine. It has everything a worn out hiker needs. I rehydrated, I ate, I rehydrated, I showered, I rehydrated, I slept, I rehydrated, I watched the Tokyo Olympics on TV, and then I rehydrated some more. It took two days for my digestive system to return to normal (well, normal for me :) ).

      But I was feeling down and defeated. I was now miles from where I left the trail. My itinerary was in ruins, and I only had completed 50 miles. I knew I would never finish my dream of walking from Mexico to Canada at this rate. The years are taking their toll, and dreams falling to the cycle of father time seem to be the way of life.

      These hikes are selfish. I love the trail, but hate being away from my family. I decided the right thing for me to do would be to call off the hike, and visit my daughter Rory in Las Vegas. I tried, but I failed at this too. There was not a single available rental car within hundreds of miles of Lone Pine. I had no way to get to Rory and five days before my return flight. Was it divine intervention that kept in in Lone Pine at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, or just simply supply chain issues? Either way, I needed to to something to get out of my funk.

      The Trail Will Provide!

      And that is where these fine folks came in. I met them in the lobby of the Dow Villa while watching the Olympics. The woman next to me in the photo goes by the trail name 'Sunshine.' She is aptly named; the light of her kind heart radiates like sunshine in her smiles, eyes and deeds. Sunshine has been section hiking the PCT since the 1970's. Her daughter and a friend (Spirit) have joined her for a section hike in the Sierra. Sunshine must have sensed I was a bit down, because she struck up a conversation and gave me the encouragement to get back on the trail. They made an offer for me to join them in the ride they had arranged up to Horseshoe Meadows.

      So that is how a few hours later I found myself in the beautiful high Sierra backcountry at Horseshoe Meadows. I thanked these kind hikers and said my goodbyes as I headed up the valley back towards the PCT. When it seems the universe conspires to take you down a path, you should accept. I am glad I did. At least for me, everything looks better at 10,000 feet. Tomorrow, my journey continues.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • Day 5: Trees and Clouds are my Favorite Things: Horseshoe Meadow ==> Cottonwood Pass == PCT SOBO

      PCT/ Cottonwood Pass Trail Junction

      I always touch the end and start points of my sections to insure they link together to form a continuous path from Mexico to Canada. That is the goal I set for myself on this hike. My preference is that each section be completed NOBO (northbound) in sequence, but that ideal has fallen by the wayside right at the very beginning. My first section was the JMT section of the PCT in Central California heading SOBO. Since then I have had to skip around a bit to accommodate fires and the seasons. The ride which brought me here was too sweet of an offer to pass up. It makes sense to hike this 50 mile section back to Kennedy Meadows SOBO (southbound) completing at least most of what I set out to do this year in the opposite direction. This will still leave a rather awkward 20 mile gap NOBO from Cottonwood Pass to the southern terminus of the JMT (John Muir Trail) that I will have to fill in someday.

      And I have to admit, I feel like I am cheating a bit. Starting at 11,000 foot Cottonwood Pass and ending at 6000 foot Kennedy Meadows means I'll be 'walking downhill.' I am still recovering from the desert and bad water so circumstances have worked out to my advantage. Don't worry, there will still be ascents along the way, but this is definitely the 'easy' direction to take. A strange thing to feel guilty about; it must be my New England puritan heritage.

      High Country Trail

      The trail is gorgeous up here. There are trees and clouds and greenery. There is no question that I am a high-country mountain boy, and not a desert rat :) There is a skip in my step today. I am dancing with my friends the ancient Sierra Junipers, the clouds, and just grinning from ear-to-ear. I love it here! I am so glad that I met Sunshine and her friends and that they changed my path.


      Beautiful Bark

      View of Horseshoe Meadow


      Cows at Diaz Creek


      Beautiful Roots

      My camera is filled with photos of beautiful trees, roots, bark and wood grain. I know that most will not share my obsession, so I will try to keep those to a minimum here.

      Looking East Across Owens Valley


      Great Rocks, Great Trees, Great Trail

      Today I met my first hiker on trail. I saw zero human beings on my hike from Walker Pass to Kennedy Meadows. Although there were plenty of hikers setting up yesterday at Horseshoe Meadows, I saw none on the PCT, presumably because most of them were heading north into the Sierras, and I was heading south. I finally met my first hiker on trait this afternoon. His trail name is 'Data' and he is also from Massachusetts.

      It started raining and then hailing. I actually celebrate the rain when it happens here. Not enough to cure the drought, but enough to make me hole up for a while under my umbrella sheltered by some rocks. When I saw Data hiking up the trail I gave him a hearty 'Hello' which made him jump out of his skin. I apologized for startling him. We talked for a while, while getting soaked and worrying about the occasional clap of thunder.

      Data is doing the section north from Walker Pass like me. He plans on exciting at Whitney Portal (climbing Whitney). I had planned the same, but clearly have failed at that goal for this year. Also like me, it was Tie dye that got him to the trailhead at Walker Pass. Unlike me, Data is young and fit and is just flying up the trail. It was fun to finally have someone to talk to, but we both were getting soaked, so eventually I wished him a great hike and we parted ways.

      Tonight's Hang

      Today's climb to Cottonwood Pass and hike left me exhausted. I set up camp a little earlier than I usually do and slept like a log. It's all good!
      *********************************************************************************

      PCT Miles: 15.2
      Other Miles: 3.6 from Horseshoe Meadows to Cottonwood Pass Trail Junction

      Great mileage today!
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • It's picture Day! Lots of great scenery today.

      Western White Pine


      'Just Call on Me Brother When you need a Friend'

      You know I have a tree/ bark/ wood grain fetish, right? I only show you 10% of the tree photos I take. This photo got me thinking. There is a growing body of research on the 'social interaction' between trees, mediated by their mycorrhizal symbionts. Trees that nourish each other, 'warn' each other, protect each other, especially between kin. Seeing this elderly tree leaning on a younger one, perhaps its own offspring, got me thinking about the silent story unfolding around me.

      And then of course it put an 'ear-worm' in my head. "Lean on Me"; the version by Club Nouveau. I sang the song out loud as I bounced down the trail today. Good thing I am alone out here :) 'We all need somebody to Lean on.' 'We be Jammin!'

      OK, I'll keep quiet now and just let the pictures do the talking...

      Olancha Peak

      Jammin down the Trail


      Spring Near Death Canyon Creek



      At Death Canyon Creek for the second time on this entire journey I met some hikers on-trail. There was a group of four men packing up camp. They have a late start for a big climb ahead of them. I sat and rested here a bit and chatted. They let me know the location of the spring above, which had cool sweet water. I was glad to find it, Death Creek Canyon water was more green, muddy muck. This is still drought territory, so finding good water sources is a challenge.

      Gomez Meadow

      Gomez Meadow 2

      As the Elevation Lowers, the Brush turns to Sage

      More Great Scenery

      California False Hellebore ([i]Veratrum californicum) [/i]

      I always enjoy the wildflowers on my hikes, but they are scarce on this one with the drought and all. I take pictures of the ones I do find. These False Hellebores are a highly toxic plant. At a little rivulet I saw that someone had fashioned a funnel with the large leaves of this plant to capture the trickle of water and funnel it into a container. Probably not a good idea I thought.

      Monarche Meadow 1

      Monarch Meadow 2

      So as you can see I have dropped quite a bit in elevation today, the landscape is getting dryer and the brush is turning to sage. This section goes by some huge meadow areas, it was very pretty. Saw plenty of pronghorn antelope today. I love the way they 'bound' through the sage. They were too quick for me to get any good pictures, though.

      I'm Always Liken the Lichen

      Do you See Him?



      Steel Bridge Crossing the South Fork of the Kern River






      And so I reach today's destination, the South Fork of the Kern River. It is actually flowing a bit here. If you remember I passed this river further south of Kennedy Meadows and the drought and evaporation had brought it to a standstill there. Where there is water, there is life. I hung my hammock next to the river and enjoyed the aerial acrobatics of the swallows, and then later in the evening the bats.

      I stood on the bridge watching some trout in the water below. The water was not much deeper than the trout, so they seemed to 'crawl' as much as they swam in their quest to consume as many insects as possible. I worried about their fate if this drought continues. This watershed is the territory of the California state fish, the Golden Trout. A stunningly beautiful animal. I had previously caught some hybrids on my JMT hike years ago, but these were purebreds here. I wish them success in life's perpetual struggle to survive.





      Riverview Campsite for Tonight



      Another great day on the PCT.
      ********************************************************************************
      Today's PCT Miles: 18.5
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • New

      There called hiking plans, not hiking reality. My section from Pinkham Notch to Gorham didn't quite work out as intended, but I did knock off that pesky 'orphan' section on Franconia Ridge & Garfield Ridge. All in all, a good week in New Hampshire. I even got to take Mrs. Tortoise up Mount Washington via the Cog Railway. Sadly, there wasn't a view to be had during our short stay at the summit.

      I'll get to the trip reports once I get home and caught up.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, and Max Patch to Carter Notch NH
    • New

      Stalking Tortoise,

      I am looking forward to hearing about your hike. On the bright side, maybe when you get back up that way I will be free to meet you in Gorham for a cold one. Usually my family is in the neighboring town (Randolph, NH) every Labor Day Weekend, but not this year.:( My wife and I do plan to do some leaf-peeping there for Columbus Day.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier