Some thoughts before departure...

  • I am still not a vet, doctor, lawyer, dog trainer, cia agent, fbi agent or a navy seal so...walk
  • I am doing this for the challenge of course, and I hope to gain a confidence that comes with this type of endeavor. But also I hope to gain some new knowledge about the world and the truths that reside in it.
  • Am I walking to "find myself"? Or just to take a walk. You decide...and you'll probably be right.
  • I'm not in the best shape of my life, but I do have a lot of new great gear so....
  • After living with my parents the last 2 years, it makes perfect sense to walk 2650 miles - alone.
  • Yes there will be bears, cougars, rattlesnakes and scorpions both imagined and real along the way. I'm definitely more worried about those imagined.
  • Am I scared? Not as of yet, more of just a constantly increasing anticipation. But check back with me on the 3rd night in the desert.
  • I tried to keep my pack fairly light, but I definitely would not call it ultralight. Somehow when I added up all my ultralight gear and put it in my ultralight pack, I ended up with just slightly heavy.
  • My biggest concern for this trip is that I get too hungry somewhere along the way, my brain goes awol as it usually does when I get hungry and subsequently you never hear from me again...I'll try to eat frequently.
  • I am not Christopher McCandless. This is not Into the Wild.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Almost there....

Day 58, Mile 900.8
Mammoth is finally here. Just 6 more miles give or take tomorrow and i will be seeing the parentos for the first time in 50 days. I am looking forward to it to say the least. Today was a long one, but well executed in terms of enough breaks, and getting into camp at a decent hour. Did Silver pass in the morning at 10,900ft and then worked our way up and down eventually stopping at 9,090ft for the night alongside Deer Creek. The mosquitoes were vicious at times today and at one point did not seem to be respecting the d-to-the double-e-t. I am not looking forward to having to put that chemical on my body for the next 1,000 or so miles. I got two or three big bites on my bald spot, I can only imagine how nice of a target that must look like for aerial attacks. Anyway the day went by fast enough, i had heart pains today here and there which was weird. I attributed it to the fact that I've been eating hardly any protein and def not any fresh fruit or vegetables - vitamins just don't cut it from what i can tell. When i get into mammoth tomorrow i am going to eat as many different fruits as are available to me and then take a shower. Maybe i will put some before and after shots up here, so you can see my transformation from homeless man to vagabond to 6th year college student. I plan to take two zero's in mammoth and then get back on trail on the 1st, looking forward to both. Oh i almost forgot, today we came across 3 JMT-ers south-bounding (been a lot of them in this stretch) and one was Asian, one was African American, and the third was Latino. A triumphant day for diversity in the back country, a good thing, wish i saw more of it. Thought of the day; i don't know im falling asleep as i type. Songs of the day; Macho Man by the village people, and Santa Claus is coming to town by umm Christmas carols unlimited. Cravings of the day; this morning it was a pear/apple/carrot/celery juice from like a Ronco juicer. In the afternoon it was apple pie with just apples no filling - a la mode.
JWC on the PCT

VVR-- Vermillion Valley Resort

Day 57, Mile 880ish
This morning we made the 1.4 mile walk down to the lakeside to be picked up by the "ferry" to take us to VVR. The "ferry" was more like a small pontoon boat, but it worked. It picks up for VVR at 945 and drops you back off at 445, so we had most of the day there. As soon as we arrived we sat down to breakfast. I had a greasy breakfast burrito which hit the spot. We handled various logistical business, picked up a food drop, and hung around on some picnic tables. They were going to charge me $2/min for using the phone to send blog posts via my pocket-mail so i decided to wait til Mammoth in 1.5 days, and i just sent a 5 sec telegram (you know this already). The news was on the TV, Fox News to be exact. I was amazed at the amount of bullshit being broadcast as fast as possible. At one point one of the hosts talking about a girl found murdered and the investigation ensuing said something to the effect of;"in all likelihood wouldn't it possibly suggest then, the FACT that...." After great lines like that i was treated to speculation as to Obama's position on hip-hop and the artists choice of lyrics and or song themes therein. All i know is you won't see a report on McCain's position on country music or slow wtf. Anyway the food was ok and gave me some much needed calories. I haven't looked in a mirror in 11 days and i was surprised at what i saw in the bathroom mirror. My beard is doing this weird curl thing only on the right side of my chin, my bald spot is buying up new dome real estate, and i am very skinny. I got on their scale and if it is correct, i have lost 24 pounds so far. Not enjoying that. Wow it is getting really cold and my fingers are starting to ache. Going to curl up now. Thought of the day; arrogance has a place somewhere, it knows that for sure. Song of the day; just pick a random song from Ludacris' album "chicken and beer" i had a bunch of them going through my head today. Craving of the day; a quality vanilla milkshake and my moms banana bread(seems to be a popular one for me)
JWC on the PCT

Yaw! Fish Yaw!

Day 56, Mile 877.2
I am beat. Tired and dirty, but not hungry. By the time i get to Mammoth i will have not showered in 17 days. I know ladies, get in line. Anyway on to better things - i did not starve tonight. Yesterday i think i hit my hiking wall per se as evidenced in the blah post but today was a new day. Around noon we came on a set of lakes on our way to another pass. I happened to see a few trout and we decided i should try fishing for real this time. They were nice size fish, but not at all interested in my particular fly. Then we noticed that just in this one shallow area there were probably upwards of 50 trout. So we decided to go back to the old Indian ways - fish herding. I had thought of using our mosquito nets on the way up to Whitney and now we put this plan into action. Kraig got alongside a narrow channel with his net, and i got in the water with a trekking pole and my "new" walking stick and commenced the herding. It worked on the first try. 5 more times at different angles and different channels and we had 6 fish. Kraig cleaned them and i packed them in snow in a plastic bag inside my bear canister. When we got to camp they were basically frozen solid. Boiled them, took the skin and bones off and out and added them to Kraig and Gina's dehydrated chili. Extra water added and we had ourselves a trout and bean stew of sorts. It was really really good. We pushed 23 miles today so we will be able to spend all of tomorrow at VVR handling business and taking on some calories. Get to sleep in tomorrow because the ferry to VVR picks up at 945 and we are only 1.4 miles from the dock. But i wont get any if i don't put this thing down, and its midnight - not "hiker midnight" actually 12am. Thought of the day; i wonder if my godson Roman is walking yet. Songs of the day; this morning when i woke up it was, knock knock knocking on heavens doooor. After we caught the fish and were climbing to the pass it was, i wiiill surviiive hey hey do doo dodooo dooodleoo dooodledoo etc. Craving of the day; my moms cooking.
JWC on the PCT

Fading Fast

Day 55, Mile 853.5ish
Muir pass was the first thing on the agenda today. It was long and slow going. 2 miles of snow on the front side, 3 miles on the back side. The Muir Hut was pretty cool up at the top but the rest just felt repetitive. I think it mostly has to do with my lack of nourishment, but I'm starting to get tired of this stretch of trail. The passes are all difficult to some degree, the scenery is always beautiful, waterfalls everywhere, and I'm ready to be in Mammoth in comfort. We did the rest of our miles from Muir pass on in pretty good time. Just like yesterday i watched trout and potential trout locales all day. But our camp spot for the night happens to be next to a rough and fast spot in the south fork of the San Joaquin River- no trout. I have to catch some tomorrow, otherwise i will only have a few pieces of jerky for dinner. I'm still not happy with myself for that, i knew it wasn't right in the back of my head. Safe to say i wont be packing the beef ramen with the Ritz crackers in a ration from now on though. Even if i had the correct amount i do not think it would be enough. I am getting skinny-er I've noticed. Hip bones seem to be protruding a bit more then usual and when i scratch my back i can feel ribs instead of fat or muscle. My demand for calories has been increasing since i started this leg and today it felt like i hit empty. It's real hard work at times to hike through soft snowfields with a pack on, and at altitude. I had really low energy all day, i wanted to sleep at every break. I have some jerky left, a small bag of trail mix, and 5 bars to last me a day and a half to VVR. Wish me luck. Thought of the day; i miss my family, both nuclear and extended. Song of the day; Rudolph the red nose reindeer. Craving of the day; fruit- blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, oranges, bananas, mangoes, papaya, kiwi, cherries, plums, peaches, nectarines, pluots, tangerines, clementines, pineapple, pears, cantaloupe, honeydew, Tuscan melon, casaba melon, watermelon, star fruit, yeah some fruit.
JWC on the PCT

Eulogy's and unfortunate circumstances

Day 54, Mile 835ish
Both of the deaths occurred yesterday, but i needed a day to mull over the tragedies. My walking stick passed early yesterday morning, my spork sometime in the interim. So first a little poem for my walking partner of over 300 miles.

I'm sorry it happened, but it wasn't you,
It was me, it was me, i broke you in two
I was testing a rock to see if it would hold
But the river crossing proved to be too bold
I will miss you my friend, and the rhythm you kept
I'm sure from now on my stride will appear inept.

And now for my spork, the dearest of companions.

You ate with me every night
You were lexan - very light
You had two sides - a fork and a spoon,
Sorry when we first met i called you a fpoon,
Although it will take time for my emotions to settle,
When i get to mammoth my spork will be metal.

Ok so as far as the day goes it went fairly well. Putting on wet cold shoes in the morning is getting old but i managed to keep them dry today throughout the numerous crossings. We descended today to 8000+ ft into Conte Canyon. The King river cuts through the canyon and at some points it was powerful waterfalls, at others calm and meandering. As we walked i thought of about 5 different ways we could catch fish. Every time we passed a smooth spot in the river i looked, and most times it was teeming with trout. So as we walked i discussed the various methods with Kraig, and we decided we would camp at the second to last lake before Muir pass and fish there. On our way trail magic happened, we passed a guy backpacking with his daughter, and fishing along the way. We got about 5 feet of line and a fly from him. Long story shorter, this lake i sit in front of right now is fish-less. I put together my contraption anyway and put a line in just cause. Nada. We had a "short" day at 16.5 miles today and got to our destination around 430. Hence why i have the time to attempt fishing and write a novel for this post. The sun just dipped behind the ridge and the temp dipped as well. I'm going to go put some more clothes on and cook dinner. Oh yeah, dinners got counted wrong like i thought. I realize now I mistook a small bag of Ritz peanut butter sandwiches for another ramen while looking inside my bear canister last night. Also ate through two extra snacks on accident, whoops. Picked some wild scallions to add to tonight's ramen, but it looks like I'm going to be fishing for more then just fun come the day after tomorrow. Thought of the day; thank you Aunt Janie for the small bottle of krazy glue, the adhesive on the velcro for my gaiters came off after falling in the stream earlier so the glue came in handy- thanks a lot. Song of the day; the one that goes ooochiwally wally ooochibang bang and then has this kind of cool whistle thing going. Craving of the day; fresh caught trout roasted over and open fire, also Baskin Robbins vanilla ice cream in a sugar cone.
JWC on the PCT

2 Passes, 2 Bears, 2 Wet Feet

Day 53, Mile 819.9ish
Looooong day. This morning i was walking through a freezing cold creek by 720am. Tonight i was walking through a freezing cold creek up to my knees at 803pm. In between those two times my feet remained wet for one reason or another. The two passes we did today each had there own problems. The first was Pinchot pass and we basically started that ascent first thing in the morning going almost 4000ft in elevation over 7 miles to finally reach the pass. In between the two passes was some beautiful country, but a lot of water, i think its mostly just the time of year with all the snow melt. At one crossing of the south fork of the king river it was too powerful to cross and there was a note saying go upstream for a better crossing. As we made our way up stream i saw brown fur out of the corner of my eye and then a bears head. I said BEAR and Kraig stopped, and we then both saw the much larger mama bear in front. Both were about 15yds from us. The bigger mama bear took off running and dove into the river and ran up the other side. The cub looked to be too old to still be with it's mother, we gathered this from his size (250 prob) and the way she just took off leaving him/her to figure it all out. He/she was much more tentative crossing the torrent of water and i think i may have been able to get a decent picture of him/her. The end of the day was fairly treacherous. We did the last pass between 500 and 615, it was some pretty difficult stuff. Most of the switchbacks were snowed over so we basically had to make our own way, Gina was not fond of this. I was really glad i had my ice axe once again, and it definitely gave me a boost of confidence and allowed me to be safer. We finally got to camp around 810, for a grand total of a 13hr day. I made half a macaroni and ramen combined with some jerky added for protein, it turned out pretty good. My only concern is that i think in my hunger and haste i may have counted wrong and now only have 2 ramen left for 3 dinners. Going to have to check on that in the morning. We are up over 10,000ft tonight and its pretty cold. I think i may sleep with my down jacket on. Speaking of sleep, once again its way too late, this is becoming a bad pattern. Thought of the day; the high sierra country is easy on the eyes, but hard on the feet. Songs of the day; Go Gettaaaah by R. Kelly and the song about the dog Bingo that was his name-o. Craving of the day; for breakfast- my moms crepes with a little vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg added to the batter and a fruit salad of honeydew, cantaloupe and cherry halves. For lunch-various meats and cheeses made into mini sandwiches on my Aunt Andrea's rolls, my Aunt Jane's rolls, and my Grandmother's "long beach" rolls. For dinner- thanksgiving, all of it.
JWC on the PCT

Crack-head Mosquitoes

Day 52, Mile 800.8
Today was both easy and hard; kind of regular. We made it to Glen Pass by noon and down to the other side by 215ish. It was definitely easier then Forrester but it too had its challenging moments. At the top i met a fellow Long Beachian(Long Beachan?) who was doing a section of the JMT southbound. Weather was coming in and so we talked only briefly and then i continued down the other side. There were some glissadeing (kind of like skiing in your shoes-sort of) opportunities on the north face and it was a pretty efficient way of getting down quickly. We only got rained on briefly as we passed through the Rae Lakes area. It was an amazing set of lakes, each one as picturesque as the next. You could see the trout in the shallows. I think i will come back to the JMT next spring/summer with my dad just to do some decent fly fishing, maybe just a few miles here or there to get to the fish. Today the mosquitoes were out in force and i got a bunch of new bites. The majority of them i got fording/ crossing the streams. I think they hang out at the particularly difficult crossings so that a) you are too busy to swat them, and b) they get that adrenaline surge as well. Other than all that it was a pretty regular day - long though, cause its the solstice. Actually it worked against me because we got into camp about 545, but because of the extra light and a fire ring here i am again at 945 writing instead of sleeping. One last thing though, just wanted to say wassup to the BBSR staff- hope week 1 went well, right now you are probably enjoying your first Saturday night off at Sandy's. Somebody 21 or over drink a Big Bear mug for me. Thought of the day; sometimes attitude can overcome aptitude. Song of the day; Everywhere we gooo-oh(x2) people want to knoooow(x2) whoooo we arrrre(x2) soooo we tell them(x2) weeee are cabin threeeyeeee(x2) mighty mighty threeeyeee(2) youuuu KNOWWWah! - a BBSR original sort of. Cravings of the day; a sandwhich that i can make myself with all of the various things i might want on a sandwich available to me, 3 loafs of my moms banana bread 2 with nuts and a glass of rice dream and milk(half of each), and good popcorn from the stove top.
JWC on the PCT


Day 51, Mile 783.5ish
It is unfortunate that these days have been so long, only in that by the time i get into bed its hard to write it all down and still get enough sleep. That said i will try to consolidate an amazing day into a brief paragraph in 10 minutes. This morning went well and we were back on the PCT/JMT by 925. We headed north through more beautiful country. I find myself getting a little over zealous with the picture taking. At some point i realized yes, it is all great looking country, now just try and take the best parts of it to take up space on your memory card. Still at the rate I'm going i fully expect to have two dead batteries and 2 full memory cards by Mammoth. Throughout the day we had many snow fields to cross and a fair amount of streams. I do not think my feet were dry at any point past about 10am; when i took my socks off finally this evening they looked like corpse feet. Today ended with adrenaline abounding everywhere. We did Forrester pass and it was harder then Whitney to some degree. Right before the top there was a snow chute with snow still across the trail. Technically it wasn't that difficult but the penalty for failure was certain death, so that made it a little challenging. Got to the top of the pass and looked across to the north side and saw the entire slope covered in snow with a little traversing path cutting across. There was a fair amount of hikers there and everyone was excited or scared but still ready. I got to use my ice axe for the first time and it was actually a big help. As we started to head off Hank the dog comes around the corner wagging his tail and apparently loving a good 13,200ft pass in the afternoon. Although i do not think people should take their dogs through the desert sections, i have never seen a dog look more in his element then Hank does here. I post holed through the snow at one point on the traverse up to my right hip. My knee hit a rock underneath and i thought i did some damage, but it was just the cold making it feel worse then it was i think. Although everyone had their moments, everyone made it down successfully, even Hank-he was pushing to get by me for 1/4 of the way down. Tonight i am camped in more astounding surroundings then even last night or the best day ever locale. But the ground is either frozen or two rocky for enough stakes, so its a no-rain fly night. Meaning i have my down jacket on inside my down sleeping bag but my hands are out typing and freezing -so I'm going to stop. Thought of the day; everyone able bodied in southern California should summit mount Whitney since it is right here, its very do-able and something you will never forget. Song of the day; i don't know the song or who its by but there is a part that goes iiits cold as iiiice, maybe its a commercial jingle?. Craving of the day; super cucas (sp?) super chicken nachos. Malcolm knows what I'm talking about; we used to get it in SB and have it for lunch and dinner, it might last for a little breakfast as well.
JWC on the PCT

Today i farted at 14,496ft

Day 50, Mile 766.3 + 13.4 side trip
This is going to be as short as i can make it because it was a long day and I'm just now getting into bed at 953- way too late. Started the day off with a creek crossing that almost turned bad for Gina. Kraig got me crossing on video, I'm pretty sure he set it on video because he thought i was going to fall, but i didn't. I was continually amazed at the scenery today, it really just gets better and better; which i didn't think was possible. At crabtree meadows we snacked, then took off for the bear box to drop food and then on to guitar lake. Along the way we had to cross whitney creek(more like a heavy stream i thought). I decided that i didn't want to get my shoes wet as the rocks set up to cross were being overflowed. So i found a nice set of spaced out yet hop-able rocks to cross at; although the second and third looked a little slippery. Yeah, they definitely were slippery. If you drew a line from my left nipple to my right shoulder - everything below that got soaked. I managed to pull myself out on a large rock fairly quickly and other then my pack getting a little wet it was quite refreshing. We set up camp at guitar lake and left to summit Whitney around 1:45. We reached the top around 5:00. It was pretty amazing up there. Took a few videos and some pictures and hung out, then started our descent around 5:51. Ok, exactly 5:51. I got back to camp at 7:52. I basically flew down because i was so thirsty. Guitar lake water was cold and good and handled that when i returned. I might have another big day tomorrow, we have not decided whether to do Forrester Pass or not, but i think we will. Forrester Pass(13,180) is the highest point on the PCT, i am looking forward to it. Thought of the day; its what i wrote in the log book at the top of Mt. Whitney - closer to heaven, closer to my angel, my baby girl, this is for you Lauren-3/15/88-2/18/01. Songs of the day; twinkle twinkle little star and another one bites the dust the version by... wyclef jean? Cravings of the day; at the summit- a loaf of french bread, a block of sharp cheddar, and two cameo apples. When i got back to camp at guitar lake- a large hot bowl of pho (if you don't know, you should, cause its delicious).
JWC on the PCT

I'll be back here someday

Day 49, Mile 760.3
This by far has been the best day on the PCT yet. That is definitely saying something considering all the great times I've had so far, and the fact that i have a very heavy pack heading into this 8 day leg. The mountains that i said are no longer in the distance, are now right here, i am walking on them, its cool. Today started with a 2.5 mile climb back up to trail pass to rejoin the PCT after picking up the food ration last night. The next few miles we climbed a gentle ascent and ultimately topped out somewhere over 11,300 feet. It was a beautiful view and we took an early break just to make it last. The rest of the day went by with most of the miles being downhill. We arrived here at rock creek and decided that even though it was early it was a nice spot. What started out as a "nice spot" turned into my favorite place on the PCT so far. Hence the best day so far. We are camped in a stand of tree's which is sandwiched by rock creek flowing loudly on the right, and a large open meadow on the left. During dinner on the bank of the creek i was relieved to see that there was a definite lack of mosquitoes which compliments the awesome surroundings. I had a teriyaki chicken and rice mountain house freeze dried dinner tonight. I changed the way i cooked these and it came out great. Just icing on the cake really. I hope my excitement for this place and evening is apparent without verging on sounding giddy; although i must say I'm close. After dinner i walked over to my tent and saw two deer grazing in the meadow. I spent the next 20 minutes wasting the batteries in my camera trying to get a decent shot of them. I pretended i was an Indian(native American) sneaking up on the next 3 weeks worth of food for me and my family. The stalking worked well, the camera just couldn't handle business. I gave up and came back to the tents. I was telling Kraig and Gina how amazing i thought this place was and then two bucks walked right past at about 50yds. One older, about a 6pt maybe, and the other younger and awkward. They looked like mule deer to me and Kraig agreed. As i write this they are grazing about 300yds off in the middle of the meadow. I really didn't expect this type of stuff so early into the sierra's; we just entered Sequoia National Park at mid-day. I hope i haven't gone on too long about this, but its just been great. Ive caught myself smiling just cause many times today. Anyway we have decided to summit Whitney tomorrow, and guess what - I'm excited about that too. The plan now is to take only essentials and leave the rest of the food etc in bear boxes at crabtree meadows. Then with light packs, summit in the afternoon and camp at guitar lake tomorrow night. Hopefully this will put us a half day or so ahead and i can get to Mammoth and the parentos that much sooner. It's starting to get chilly so i gotta zip up and pass out. Thought of the day; When people are talking about walking they often use the saying "i just put one foot in front of the other". Doesn't make sense really. This would be accurate if you were describing the the beginning of an attempt at the splits or a specific move in the hokie pokie, but not walking. I mean unless you say "i just put one foot in front of the other, and then put the back foot in front of the other, and then i repeated that and achieved forward motion" - see that makes sense. Songs of the day; assorted pieces from Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, and here comes the suun doo do doo dooo here comes the suun-and i say its alrighhht doo do dooo...yeah im not going to write out all of those you either know the song or you dont. Craving of the day; all types of asian cuisine - tonights mountain house teriyaki is as close as i am gonna get out here.
JWC on the PCT

Southern Sierra Wilderness

Day 48, Mile 744.8
Today was a good day. With scenery like this the miles seem to fly by. The mosquitoes were still an issue all day. At every water source you basically traded say 2 liters of water for 6 bites and a possible case of west Nile or malaria. But besides that it was aaaall good. At one point today the mountains that i keep taking pictures of of in the distance were no longer off in the distance. Mt. Whitney is only 21.5 trail miles from where we pick back up tomorrow morning. After Whitney we join up with the John Muir Trail(JMT) for the next 200+ miles until Tuoulmne Meadows. Tonight we are camped at horseshoe meadows where we picked up our food. I managed to cram most of the 8.5 days of food into my bear canister. Depending on the spot the rest will either hang from a tree or get thrown in a bear box when available. We sat down after dinner and planned our approach to Whitney. As it looks now we will do about 18 miles tomorrow. The the following day we will drop most of our food at Crabtree ranger station in a bear box and then continue on up to Guitar Lake and make a base camp. The following day we will summit, and then try and tack on some miles at the end of the day to get to another site with bear boxes. That was a little heavy on the logistical side but there may be a few folks following along with maps and everything (my father). Alright i started this too late as it Goodnight. Thought of the day (bear with me on this one i have no idea either); developmental ways, coded frays, don't stand too close to the by-way. Song of the day; don't have one that i remember i guess. Craving of the day; California pizza kitchen- 1/2 a California Cobb, a Thai chicken pizza and a mushroom pizza.
Post Script; it has occurred to me just before i was about to fall asleep that with the earthquake last night the entire so cal coast could be in the ocean, i hope not.
JWC on the PCT

Mosquitos blood

Day 47, Mile 228.6
Well as evidenced by this blog i did not get burnt to a crisp in my tent last night. Although i did wake up a couple times and think the fire was closer, but the longer i watched and the more i woke up i realized we were still in the clear. This mornings walk through the active burn area was an interesting experience. The whole forest was a mono-chromatic gray. It reminded me of Narnia for some reason. A couple places along the trail felled trees and root systems were still on fire, or glowing red and smoking profusely. Despite my attempts to capture it on picture or video, it never quite came out right. Anyway we made it through all that and started our climb for the day. We topped out at 10,560ft, the highest i have been so far on the PCT. For the most part, the day consisted of climbing and killing mosquitoes. I have never killed so many in a single day. We are camped next to a creek tonight and the mosquitoes continue to be amazing. During dinner i counted 14 on Kraigs right shoulder/back alone. I DEET'd myself except under my socks and therefore i now have about 5 bites on each ankle. I finished dinner and came straight to my tent even though its only 730, they are hovering and waiting and accosting the tent mesh. I just counted 9 on the -ok I'm going to stop, nobody wants to know this and you got the point already I'm sure. According to the data book we don't go below 9000 feet for the next 68+ miles of trail. Its probably even longer but that's as far as it goes on the pages i have in the tent with me. Tomorrow we meet Tigger down at horseshoe meadows for our next food drop, looking forward to it, but definitely not the added weight. Shoes are giving me a few problems but not terrible. The ankle bites are going to be more of an annoyance tomorrow then the small blisters that are developing. Ok i am going to try and go to sleep even though its only 820 and the sun hasn't set. Thought of the day; what reason is there for mosquito's in the world other then to spread disease and currently ruin my life in the sierra's. Song of the day; wastin away again in margaritaville... again. Craving of the day; crab legs with a garlic and lemon butter with a touch of orange zest.
post script: i woke up just now at 1231am to the earth shaking, it woke up Gina too, hopefully that's as big as it goes tonight cause I'm not exactly in a tree-less area a.k.a the forest.
JWC on the PCT

What's the guide book say about this?

Day 46, Mile 710ish
This morning was fairly regular, the afternoon the same, this evening- not so much. Today we got packed and Grizz drove us back to the Kennedy meadows general store for some last minute things. We got back on trail about an hour later then planned around 3. I would like to write about how my new shoes feel, about the new gear i have for this leg or the hopes i have for the sierra's; but there is a more pressing matter. The fire info board at the general store informed us that there was no longer escorts through the burn area. Instead it gave helpful hints like "if the fire is ahead of you and impassible, watch it for 30min to an hour and after it is burned through its fuel source you can go ahead and walk through" So armed with such wisdom we set off today towards the billowing smoke. Kraig and Gina upgraded to bigger packs so with the added weight it was slow going. Consequently at around 645 we realized that it was very possible we would be walking through the live burn area after dark, so we decided to stop here. We set up camp down at an established camp site in a stand of pines that survived the last fire in this area. From our spot we could see a lot of smoke over the ridge and what looked like smoke from an already burned area about a mile in front of us. As it got darker i noticed a small patch of fire. We continued to watch as the darkness illuminated the patches of fire all over the hillside. The wind is unfortunately blowing right down the valley our direction. After hearing a couple trees pop and crackle during dinner we discussed evac plans should we wake up to flames within a 1/4 of a mile give or take (preferable give). After getting in our tents we realized it would be hard to tell how close it is or is not. As i write this now the wind has blown the smoke into camp and it smells really strong. Its like being at a bonfire, just slightly more intense. We just had a big flare up a moment ago on the hill, but now its back to just the brush on the ground. I'm going to watch it for awhile with my headlamp off and then set my alarm for a fire check in 2 hours. What a way to start the sierra's. Thought of the day; i have been back on trail for less then 9 miles and i am already real dirty. Song of the day; and i went down down down in that burning ring of fire, and it burned burned burned and the flames went higher by johnny cash i think, and highwaaaay to the dangerr zone by um, top gun the movie soundtrack. Craving of the day; the fathers day brunch that i missed.
JWC on the PCT

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I am still alive- stop. VVR will charge me $2/min for the phone- stop. Hence you will not hear of my travels for a while longer- stop. Repeat, I am still alive- stop.

JWC on the PCT

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Whole lot more of nothing much

Day 45, zero---This morning the sun didn't just wake me up by being bright; the heat was unbearable. I thought i had picked a good spot the night before but apparently not. We packed up this morning and moved campsites because Grizz prefers a specific spot in the very back. I must say it was one of the nicer spots i had seen throughout the campground. Is nicer a word? I think not. Anyway we spent the day hanging out and talking outdoorsy stuff, what gear works best when, where, how, and why. Always the where and the why were explained sometimes the other two were lacking. Met TK- Grizz's friend, another Venice resident and also a man who works in the outdoor industry. The food got combined with what was left of our box and it was pretty near perfect for the day. Good to relax and eat...again, but i am definitely ready to take off tomorrow. This is the longest time i have been sedentary the entire trip. My cankles are still there so i am hoping when i get back on the trail they will return to normal. I'm really hoping i didn't do some sort of permanent cankle building with all this walking. Had a great dinner this evening courtesy of Grizz; pork loin cooked on the open fire, roasted sweet corn, salad, and pasta with a olive oil and garlic red sauce. It was our last well balanced dinner for awhile. I had a moment today as i was reclined on a flat rock and looking through the tree's at the cloudless sky. I felt a realization of how lucky i am to be able to be out here and doing this. Not everybody would choose this i know, but everyone should have the opportunity to get 5 months with obligations only to themselves and their journey. Whatever and wherever that journey may be. I know that this seems distant and idealistic for most, so i will take full advantage of my opportunity each and every day on this trail. Although this should not be confused with me hiking for anyone other then myself. OK, i was about to go off on more of a tangent then i already have. But basically i wish this feeling on everyone, there that's it. Tomorrow i head into what Grizz called the "longest unbroken stretch of wilderness in the lower 48". I am not sure if this is true, but the feeling(a good one) is just the same. On the 20th i plan to summit Whitney, i am still debating on taking crampons. 14,000 plus feet and thigh deep river fords in between- here i come. I will not be able to send blog updates for 11 days starting tomorrow the 15th. So in advance, i would like to say Happy Fathers day to my Dad and Granddad. You two are the kind of father i hope to be someday, the kind with kids grown and out of the house. Really though, i can only hope to have the integrity, stamina, humor, and heart it takes to be a father of your caliber. The both of you -if that wasn't abundantly clear in my plural confusion. Jarell Happy Fathers day to you as well, i hope your first is a good one. Alright its getting late, time to lay it down. Thought of the day; its OK to be cautious, its not OK to be fearful- fear is just False Expectations About Risk .(got that acronym from Rock & Ice in New Zealand- just in case that is copyrighted) Song of the day; random country-that was all the radio would pick up. Craving of the day; Enriques garlic shrimp, and some vanilla ice cream with champagne mango cut up on top.

JWC on the PCT

Gone to Chimney Peaks til Sunday

Day 44, a zero---Got my box today via my mother via ups. Spent most of the day re-packaging everything and preparing food drops. My bear canister does fit in my backpack but I'm going to have to get creative in making everything else fit as well. Got in a little nap today which was nice; I fell asleep in the hammock outside the cyber cafe. We packed up all our stuff and headed back down to chimney peaks campground with all our boxes and bags etc courtesy of Chuck Norris and his van. We arrived around 630ish. Got a much better campsite this time, and i now have my DEET so i wasn't eaten alive. I'm hoping one application lasts for awhile cause i don't want to run out of it here before even setting foot in the high Sierra. We got a nice fire going after collecting a good amount of wood, and its still blazing as i lay here writing. Alright I'm dozing in and out. Grizz is supposedly getting here around 2am, if he purposefully wakes me up i will fight this man-i barely know. That's it, there is no more. Thought of the day; i wonder when my feet and ankles will stop looking like I'm pregnant. Song of the day; i just know the melody and the line "regulators mount up!" i think its by Warren G and some folks. Craving of the day; a real bed- the longer i go without walking 20 miles a day the tighter and more uncomfortable this sleeping bag feels every night.

JWC on the PCT

The mass of hikers is overwhelming

Day 43, zero again---Today i awoke to the smell of smoke in the air. The clover fire as its being called, has gone to 1,311 acres and is being left to burn for "resource benefit". So far PCT hikers will still be allowed to hike through the active burn area as long as you are escorted by firefighters during daylight hours according to the ranger i talked with. If everything stays stable we should be able to leave as planned on the 15th. The day was fairly benign, i racked up more on my tab at the general store despite the 23lbs of edibles my mother sent me. Just got off the phone with the parentos actually and she decided to include more fruit with some gear i needed sent up -definitely can't complain. Found out some good news today; i do not have to carry 11 days of food out of here. Tigger whom I've mentioned before is going to be meeting Chuck Norris in a spot 2.5 days out of here and offered to carry the rest of our food in her van and drop it in a bear box or give it to us personally if we meet up at the same time. That was a hefty sentence to say the least. Anyway you get the point. Then i would be able to actually fit my food in my bear canister. I'll carry 2.5 out of here and then 8.5 out of Horseshoe Meadows (Tigger meeting spot) and still have food to summit Whitney and all that. Alright that was a logistics laden way of saying I'm going to be able to enjoy the Sierra's a bit more now. This place is starting to fill up and there is a party planned for Saturday. Although as it looks now I'm going to be back at Chimney Peaks campground with Kraig and Gina; Grizz is meeting us there Saturday in the a.m. Not sure how i feel about missing the festivities yet, but if i change my mind I'll probably just meet up with them here on Sunday before departing. Looking forward to my box of fruit and gear tomorrow. If it gets here early enough most of the day will be spent re-packing for the Sierras and preparing the Tigger food drop etc. Alright I'm going to give up on making this post even remotely interesting, i mean really i just sat around most of the day and ate food and drank a few beers on the deck this evening- that's pretty much it. I'm gonna go to sleep now. Oh yeah and i got my posts to send on the general store land line finally (as you can see), must just be this particular payphone- i hope. Thought of the day; most of the time i feel as though i do not quite "fit in" in any given place or group, not sure why. Song of the day; uh forgive me in advance but the one that goes- in the sitaaay, city of Compton/Watts/Long beach/Inglewood (whichever one) we keeeep it rockin(x 2), shake it shake it baby etc... Craving of the day; been eating pretty good, can't remember one if i had it.

JWC on the PCT

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Relaxing can get boring

Day 42, a zero - I really tried hard this morning to stay asleep, but the sun had other plans. I was hungry anyway so it wasn't that bad and i got up at 7 on the dot. Had a real breakfast this morning courtesy of my Mothers food drop box. Had two bowls (well pots considering my limited kitchen) of cereal and a croissant and a fresh mango, oh and some dried mango. Sat around trying to warm up this morning and waited for the store to open. Once it did, i got a towel for a shower, put my laundry in, and started the process of dialing down the funk factor. The shower was like a wooden box enclosure from the knees up with sort of a shower head/spigot thing that had a fine mist that turned cold in the air and then a stream of molten lava water that hit me just about at my tailbone. Regardless it was wet, and i had soap, and it worked for the most part. I actually still have two spots on my ankles that apparently cannot come clean with soaps currently used by the general public, and i scrubbed hard.! After getting clean i got to put on my old yellow UCSB athletic dept t-shirt and a pair of blue jersey shorts that i keep in my bounce box. It was glorious. For those of you who are confused, a bounce box is a box of various things i will need along the way but do not want to carry, and so i send it ahead to various towns i know i'll be stopping in. Is it illegal grammar to end a sentence with in? Shit i did it again. Anyway so i spent the day basically trying to send blog posts, eating good food, and calling the parentos about various logistics before i head into the high country. I say "trying to send blog posts" because I've only managed to get "The Fan is still on High" to go through. I did drop it for the first time in 702.8 miles yesterday but it was a short fall. So it could be that i am even writing this for nothing as it will never reach you. I hope not, possibly it is just this particular pay phone. No other news really besides the ridiculous amount i feel i have already written. I did get into the "cyber cafe" today, which is code for a silver jetstream trailer with 4 laptops and Internet access. Got to check on my blog and read comments which is always good; keep them coming they are greatly appreciated. Lastly my feet are questioning my loyalty and have swollen up on me. Some people can pull off the cankles, but its not a good look for me. I think it's just the lack of ground pounding and having the extra room in my crocs to expand, but i would like to think there is some healing going on. Some folks i haven't seen for a while made there way in today, more to follow I'm sure. OK that's it for real- sorry i got too much time on my hands and no bedtime. Thought of the day(a quote i heard from another hiker in this case); you can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning. Song of the day; devil with the blue dress-blues dress onnnn, devil with the blue dress awwwwhonnnnn. Craving of the day; an exact copy of the double scoop(1 vanilla, 1 strawberry) ice cream in a waffle cone i had in Lake Isabella that only cost me $1.45.

JWC on the PCT

Kennedy frickin Meadows, Hell Yes

Day 41, Mile 702.8---No bears last night, and a good nights sleep was had. The two big climbs were easier then anticipated and we were past them by 1030ish. The rest of the day seemed to linger on, but the scenery got better and better as we neared the foot of the sierra's and KM. We hit the Kern river around 3 and it was great to know we were officially out of the desert. 702.8 miles and my body is looking forward to a few days rest and lots of food. My Mom sent approx 69lbs of food for the three of us for 3.5 days, that's 23lbs a piece-no problem. We got in to KM about 440, just in time to start a tab, pick up packages, sign up for dinner and get some much needed Gatorade. I washed my hands for dinner and the first time got the first layer off, the second time i think it was mostly clean. I looked in the mirror and found 7 bites across my forehead(if i don't watch out I'm gonna get a trail name like stegosaurus or something) and basically mud caked at my temples. Tomorrows shower can't come soon enough. I haven't even set up my tent yet so i should probably get on that. I also have to figure out where to put the 87lbs of stuff the parentos sent. Next three days are going to be spent eating, sitting, talking, and observing thru-hiker behavior at its best and sometimes worst. So now with cold Corona in hand, i will proceed with the tent set up. Thought of the day; my Mother knows how to take care of folks. Song of the day; there's an ice box where my heart used to beeee by Omarion? and lets get down to business to defeeat the hunnns, did they send me daawters when i asked for sonnnns, by the warrior guy/male love interest of Mulan in Mulan. Craving of the day; banana bread-satisfied when i opened one of my boxes from mi madre.

JWC on the PCT

Beautiful Day x 2

Day 39, Mile 659ish & Day 40, --Mile 681.3--You will see why i am writing two days together soon enough. Yesterday morning started out a little rough as i had a 12:21am call(demand really) of nature and then stayed up another half hour writing in my journal waiting for stomach to settle. I'm pretty sure it was the chicken out of a bag, it got me the first night in Lake Morena too and i hadn't eaten it since. Anyway so we did some miles, went to a cabin and spring and got some water yadah yadah you know the deal. Kraig and Gina were really low on snack food, and after eating through most of my trail mix the first 4 days i wasn't doing that great either. After some more miles we came out to hwy 178 at Walker Pass. We all needed water to take us the 13 miles to the next source. The camp faucets were off, the cache was empty. The only available water was in a concrete tank with cattails growing out and at least 5 types of bugs in their various stages of life. We sat around for a few minutes and contemplated using my filter and their aqua mira to possibly make it potable if not palatable. Earlier Kraig in his hungered state had brought up the idea of hitching into Lake Isabella for a meal and then coming back to the trail. I had thought about it first thing in the morning but didn't want to say anything and figured i should just tough it out. Well the water was the last straw and we decided to attempt a hitch. We could get some more snack food and clean water if we only made it to Onyx(17mi), and much more if we could get the 35 miles out to Lake Isabella. We stood on the side of 178 for about a half hour. It was a Sunday so everyone was leaving Lake Isabella, nobody going in, and those that were didn't want to give us a ride. We finally gave up and decided to head back to the trail head and figure out water on the way. Then the best trail magic to happen to me yet-happened. "Beth" and "Wendell "drove into the spur road and said "we saw you guys give up when we passed and felt bad so we thought we should come back, need a ride? we're on our way to Lake Isabella" We piled in, then the next amazing thing happened. Beth asked if we would like a ride back to the trail, as they were just going to Lake Isabella for a short visit with an Aunt and then going back this way. I need to shorten this up- pizza, ice cream, and snack food was bought, oh and water and we got picked up and driven back- best 4 hr detour of the trail so far. Only problem is that we got back about 6pm and still had 6 miles to do to make our mileage for the day. Another abbreviated version- it got dark, we went past our intended camp spot, we hiked until 1045ish, did almost 9 miles instead of 6, it was not fun. Hence the reason I'm writing tonight about both days. So this morning we awoke in our little spot on the side of the cliff and started off. Today was another great sunny day and the smoke from a fire (we think its burning north of Kennedy Meadows) had settled into the valleys opening the views up a bit. Couple of big climbs today, an even bigger one coming up tomorrow. We made it to Chimney Peaks campground early around 530, and were greeted by bear tracks on the road leading into camp. Its going on 9 now and still no sign of him/her, so hopefully it will stay that way and i can get a good nights sleep as opposed to last night. One other problem with this campsite- mosquitoes. They love me, i already have 4 bites on my forehead and 5 on my back and legs and even as i lie here in my mesh tent body they are whining outside constantly. Looking forward to the DEET in the next box, otherwise i think i will be anemic in a short while. Tomorrow we head to Kennedy Meadows, camp there tomorrow night and then hit up the general store in the morning for all our food and gear maildrops. I cannot wait for new shoes, my feet and knees have been not good the last two days at all. At about the 450 mile mark my shoes got questionable, and now at 530 they are done for. Also i am down to one pair of socks with heels in them. Also i am so dirty it's starting to actually bother me. Also my clothes haven't been washed since may 26th at the Saufleys. Its all in need of a fix...also. 3 days hanging out at Kennedy ought to do that. Alright this has been entirely too long, single day posts shall resume i promise. Thought of the day; random acts of kindness set off a chain reaction of goodwill. Songs for two days; Kiss the girl by uh- Sebastian the crab, Wastin' away again in magaritaville by somebody, I'm still Jenny from the block by Jennifer "beautiful booty" Lopez, This is how we doooo it, this-is-how-we-do-it by somebody, Myyy kind of town chicagooo isss by Sinatra. Craving of the day; Schats bakery cheese bread and a nap.

JWC on the PCT------------------------------

The Short and the Long of it

Day 38, Mile 637.4--Today went by real quick. We didn't leave camp until 650am but we had 10 miles behind us before 1030am. I tried a new way of walking today for some reason. It was more of a march and i just kept rhythm; uphill i went a little slower, downhill i went a little faster. One thing i noticed is it allowed my mind to wander a bit more which was nice. The only drawback was when i would completely check out and then realize i was right on the edge of a cliff etc. The next 5 miles went just as fast and we made it a total of 15 miles to a cache before 1pm. The next 6 miles however took forever. It was hot, and the grade was 5.0 for 2.3 miles and then 4.2 for 1.4 miles. Luckily the last 2.3 miles was a downhill for the most part. At the top of the climb i got another distant view of the snow capped sierra's. Which reminds me, i had said earlier that i saw Mt Whitney, i was actually looking at Olancha peak. Either way it got me ready mentally to be in the sierra's doing it real big. Today we passed "Hardcore" and "Latecomer" and their dog Hank. One of the few dogs left on trail, and from what i could tell he is doing alright. We got to the end of the 6 miles and had to do a 1.4 mile round trip down and back up off trail to get water from a spring. After setting up camp and starting dinner we were joined by a group of 5 or 6. One of whom is "Squatch" the guy who did the DVD's on the PCT i watched before coming out here. It was interesting to see what he deemed worthy of filming for his next movie. Now they are all down about 75yds with a small campfire going, hopefully they don't stay up too late, cause honestly i can't afford to lose the sleep. Going to be some more climbing tomorrow as we hit Walker Pass, hopefully i will be able to see the right mountain that is Mt Whitney. The girls of that group are now singing, it is not good at all. Some earplugs would be useful, i took them out of my pack at the last minute, oh well. Thought of the day; he who falls and does not get up, can take solace in the fact that he will never fall again, but that is all he may have. Songs of the day; yooou get a line i'll get a pole honey, you get a liiine i'll get a poh-wuuul baaaabe by somebody, and grant my last request and let me hooold youu, let me hooold youhooohoo, lay down beside meeee- those lyrics are off i think, by Michael Buble maybe? Craving of the day; a meal i had with Hayley right before i left at the Cheesecake Factory- pork chops done right with an apple chutney sauce thingy and garlic mashed potatoes and spinach, mmm mmm mmmmm so gooood.

JWC on the PCT

My Side Of The Mountain

Day 37, Mile 616.--The first 3 hours of hiking this morning was through some of the best forest yet. When i was a kid and always day dreaming about having a dog, a horse, and a gun, out living off the land, this is what i pictured. The only exception would be some water, I'm pretty sure i had at least a stream or two teeming with trout in those fantasy's. The terrain actually reminded me a bit of eastern Oregon. I loved the spaced out trees, grass on the ground in some spots, pine needles covering the rest, and big boulder formations throughout. This lasted for a while but eventually we made our way back into high desert pines and then down to my current location - the windy desert...yay. We had a fair amount of water sources today, and i made sure not to make the same mistake as yesterday, i even tried to pound a liter at every source before filling up. I didn't slow down today and we did 23 miles so i think it worked out well. One thing that's bothering me is i think my shoes are breaking down. !Either the insole, or the shoe itself, or both. I say this because for one I'm starting to feel rocks come through a lot more, and two I'm getting a blister right next to a callous. I haven't had any foot ailments (besides the ingrown toenail which is good now) since like mile 280 something. Only 4 more days and about 86 miles to go though and i will have new shoes for the sierras, hopefully those won't give me too many problems. I'm cowboying it tonight cause i didn't feel like setting up my tent in the wind again. Got a nice view of the moon over the ridge and the stars are starting to come out. Not a cloud in the sky all day, and some of the bluest sky i have ever seen. Thought of the day; thinking about putting something together for kids with autism that involves dogs and hiking. Songs of the day; Heeeey goood lookin whaaatcha got coookin, hows about cookin somethin up with/for(I'm not sure) meeeeee, and weeelcooome baack by Mace- he is now apparently living the vida without the loca, and lastly- buffalo soldier byBob Marley. Craving of the day; back to Uncle Tracy's pancakes and a glass of cold milk.

JWC on the PC-

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Fan is still on HIGH

Day 35, Mile 574ish - Day 3 of non-stop wind. We got up this morning in our room at the Ranc Hotel(maybe they couldn't afford the second h?) and turned on the weather cause it looked rough outside. Forecast called for high winds in the 60-70mph range in the area until approx 3am. Well its 9pm now and so far they've been right all day. We went down this morning to the Village Grille and had a good solid breakfast. Then we went down to the local coffee shop called Mama Hillybean's. It turned out to be the spot for everything we needed. We all checked email etc. and Kraig found out his dog is tearing up his friends house and cannot stay there anymore. So i asked my parents if it would be OK to have a 110lb American bulldog playmate for Leo for the next month. Although my Dad was not included in the decision, as far as i know it went through. I would like to take the time here to say that my parents are two of the coolest people i know. I realize i am biased, but they are already sending me food and gear on the trail at all my drop locations, helping me with the very thing your reading, and now taking in a stranger's(stranger to them) dog. Just wonderful, awesome, great people if i do say so myself, and i just did. The owner of the coffee shop let us use the internet for free, the phone long distance for free, and gave us a ride back out to the trail; a trail angel in the making. Once back on the trail we fought the wind for 18 or so miles to end up here at about 6000ft. We found a little spot tucked back in the tree's but just barely off trail. Not much room to maneuver around the tent but fairly well protected from the onslaught of air. We are now out of the Mojave and on to the southern sierra's, its looking more beautiful already. The pack weight coming out of Tehachapi was the heaviest of the trip so far and had whats left of my butt muscles hurting. I had 16lbs of food and 9.5lbs of water for a grand total of 25.5 plus base weight. I won't even have that much weight heading into the Sierras for 11 days. But i handled it well enough and still made good mileage considering the 12pm start, so that's comforting to some degree. Alright its way too late to still have a 520 wake up tomorrow, got to go. Thought of the day; Australia is an island but not, cause its a continent, and then the same with Antarctica, is Africa in that category too? I'm having a hard time picturing the north east corner in my head. Songs of the day; Poor unfortunate souls by Ursela in the little mermaid, and Savages, savages, barely even human, savages, savages...from Pocahontas. Craving of the day; just a banana or two.

JWC on the PCT

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I'm just a hot mess

Day 35, Mile 558.3 - I awoke this morning at 1:31 am to find that the sandblasting/ chinchilla power wash had subsided. I think i woke up cause i was so hot now that the wind wasn't blowing and having every tie tied shut on the bag. In my half awakened state i could not manage to get out of the bag and basically freaked out fighting with the zippers and drawstrings until i was actually sweating. I laid there for some time trying to cool off and noticed that the wind had made the air so clear i could see stars behind stars behind stars. Then i brushed some of the sand off my face, head, and sleeping bag and laid it back down. Todays' 13 miles went pretty fast for me. The wind picked up again by the time we got to the oak creek wind energy, go figure. My hat is thoroughly ruined after two days in the high winds. I took a few pictures of it and then it got retired. We got a hitch into town with two guys drinking Budweiser and a van full of tools and shit. It was an interesting but welcomed ride. We are now in a motel after picking up the 16lbs of food in a drop from my parents. The food seemed heavy but once i crammed it in the pack it was just fine. Alright i need to get into town and get some mass calories into my body. Last but definitely not least i want to say happy birthday to Prince. Hope you had a good day little man. Thought of the day; cleanliness may not be next to godliness for real for real, but its damn good to be clean sometimes. Song of the day; take me dowwwn to that lovely place... yeah i have no idea who what or where, no one is gonna get that one. Craving of the day; turkey BLT with Swiss cheese on toasted squaw be exact.

JWC on the PCT

A terrible, awful, no good, very bad day

Day 34, Mile 545.1 - Wow. Last night the wind got me up and out of my tent twice. So with not the best nights rest i headed into today. It started mundane enough, too mundane in fact; walking the la aqueduct for roughly 11 miles, some of them on a road nearby. I apologize ahead of time for this posts language and poor literary standard as i am writing under duress, but we will get to that in a minute. Towards the end of the aqueduct walk around lunchtime the wind started picking up again. It was a head wind mostly and with m straw hat on i had to keep my head down. So my world became 2 dimensional for the entire walk after lunch. It was like one of those old school video games where you shoot things and avoid things as they pass by; except there was nothing to shoot and all i wanted to avoid was the wind. The wind only got stronger as the day progressed. At one point i swore it was pushing the brim of my hat down so hard on my brow that it was increasing my inter-cranial pressure. As we climbed ! the wind started to get to where it was physically pushing me around. As i walked i thought about how if my Uncle Steve was here he would say, "Jesse you just aren't fat enough", i would have to agree. I wished many times today that i still had the other 15lbs i started this thing with. We made it to a canyon and discussed the logistics of where to camp, how many more miles we could go etc. Little did we know that when we tried to proceed the trail would be completely obliterated up ahead. We ended up having to turn around mid trail and back track to the canyon floor, but not before i thought Gina might die as she got semi-stuck on hardly any footing and could barely get turned around let alone back to better trail. The rest of the day was very 3 dimensional, we climbed up a slope to reconnect with the trail about a 1/2 mile down the canyon. We then forged ahead on slopes with an indentation you might mistake for a game trail, but in this case was the PCT. I should mention t! hat there was a caution sign just after leaving the aqueduct saying that this section because of fire damage can be particularly well...f%#!#d up. They were correct. Even as i lay here now smashed inside my sleeping bag, i have to keep wiping the screen to get the grit off as the wind howls by. At times today i kept looking up in the sky cause it sounded like a jet going overhead, oh no just the wind, yeah no biggie. I had a few times today where the wind almost took me completely off my feet, and a few others where i had to take a knee to keep tipping over. I have sand/dirt particles in every orifice, my nose is sort of running and i wiped it, it looks like mud. Too windy to put the tent up so its cowboy camping tonight. Also new development, well not really just first time writing about it. I got an ingrown toenail and i pulled it apart tonight and the usual puss came out but then it started bleeding and wouldn't stop for awhile, real odd, never seen that before. Its getting too hot in here so i gotta go. Thought of the day; to be able t! o find the right motivation for the right task at the right time is a good skill to have. Songs of the day; Dina wont you blow your hororrorn, and Swiiing low sweeeet chariot, comin for to carry me hooome. Craving of the day; not food actually but an eyewash station like you have in chemistry class, could def use that right now.

JWC on the PCT

3.5 miles in 4 hours

Day 33, Mile 523ish - A rough day for the most part, but it had its rewards. This morning we started out a little later then planned but still early by most standards. By 820 it was apparent that we might be off trail, by 9 it was very apparent as we were told by someone constructing new trail that this wasn't the pct yet. So the yellow tags we had followed as far back as Wrightwood coming through snow were no longer a viable source of route finding. The maps in the guide book can be frustrating and in this case they were really not helping. Long story short we got back on trail and as the title says we did 3.5 mile in the first 4 hrs of hiking. We made it to "hiker town" around 330 after a very frustrating section in which this time we actually were on the right trail, but wished we were not. Tigger (wife of Chuck Norris) was there and offered us a ride to Gil's country store. It was definitely a country store, not much to it, but i managed to get a few calorie boosters for the next two days. Speaking (writing really) of that, i do not think i am getting enough calories out of my current diet. I did the math today in my head and even round up to some degree it seems as though i might be around 1900. That would be fine if i was playing some racquetball twice a week or something, but out here i need probably 2500-3500 and even more in the colder stretches. So i gotta work on that so i don't run out of gas in the sierra's or anywhere else along the way for that matter. We took off from there after packing food; we each bought a bag of pasta and split a jar of Ragu sauce -tonight's dinner. It was real good and filling. After dinner the wind died down a bit here and there, enough for me to get my tent up in the lulls. I love this tent, its blowing across the Mojave tonight pretty good and in here i no longer feel like a midget in a plastic grocery bag. Leg made it 20+ miles today counting our little detour and no pain so the outlook on the sierra's looks good. Oh yeah i forgot- just before we left, Bob the owner of hiker town, came out and said there is a fire above Kennedy Meadows. I hope that gets put out with the quickness, and it doesn't do too much damage. 36 miles to Tehachapi, so far the dreaded Mojave hasn't been all that bad ::knock on wood:: We shall see. Thought of the day; how come the MLB championships is dubbed the "World Series", i mean besides steroids from Mexico, and players from the Dominican Republic and japan there isn't much worldly about it. World Cup soccer, now that makes sense. Songs of the day; Beat It by Michael Jackson, Yellow Submarine by the Beatles, and I Feel Good by James Brown. Craving of the day; uncle Tracy's- everything you need in life is in there- wonderful tasting pancakes, and a glass of cold milk.Post Script: it is now 208am, the wind is blowing so hard that i am up, Kraig is up, Gina is soon to follow. So far my tent is holding, Kraig just got out to redo one of their stakes, thank goodness I'm not in my Tarptent. Some more sleep would be nice, just about every time I'm almost there the wind blows so hard that i mentally go through every single stake i put down guessing which one will break loose. Fun fun fun in the Mojave.

JWC on the PCT

Nero at "Grizz" Camp

Day 32, Mile 504.8 - Today was a 6 mile journey on the pct and a 8 hour journey through the mind of "Grizz". I mentioned him on the last post i believe, but that was before i knew the man. This man knows back country travel, adventure and exploration inside and out, and he is also a little nuts. It was definitely an interesting afternoon filled with many stories starting with "you know that ____ was the best gear i ever had probably cause..." or "well you know the weather was so bad this one time that..." or "I'll tell you why that piece of gear is bomber..." The man has worked in the outdoor industry for a good while so he has an opinion on every piece of gear out there. He liked my sleeping bag, loved my Marmot DriClime, my tent was pretty good, and he liked my pack, so i figure I'm in pretty good shape. We spent the day at Bear camp which is kind of a mix of high desert, oak groves, and manzanita at about 5000ft. Had a nice encounter with a fairly large rattlesnake as we set up our tents in the! early afternoon. Grizz got out his snake stick(half a golf club with a hook melted into it) and proceeded to try and get a hold of it so we could get a better look. I quickly got my camera and Kraig said if that thing isn't on video mode it should be, i was already there. The snake wouldn't come out of its den to "play" and Grizz lost interest for the time being. Hopefully the snake doesn't decide to curl up next to me tonight. I already had my tent set up so i didn't want to move it, but i am currently residing about 8ft from the den's entrance, so far so good. Grizz brought up mainly beer, but some chips, and some blueberries and strawberries as well. He also managed to find a jar of spaghetti sauce, spaghetti pasta, and some Parmesan cheese. We all ate that for dinner, and it was a nice change of pace from Ramen. Anyway a good nero all said. Plans for tomorrow include a town stop for Kraig and Gina to pick up a mail drop, and i will pick up some more food at the small country store seeing as i just sat around and ate all day today. Then its on to Tehachapi via the Mojave. Decided to add another piece of gear for the sierra's; crampons. Its a just in case sort of thing, but i would hate to not be able to summit Whitney because i didn't have them. Thought for the day; determined to know the end, he forgot the beginning. Songs of the day Dirt Track Date, by i cant remember, and Yesterday, alternating between the Boys II Men and Beatles versions. Craving of the day; in the AM it was a peanut butter, honey, banana and bacon sandwich. In the afternoon it was cold watermelon.

JWC on the PCT

The Mojave Approach

Day 31, Mile 498.8 - This morning we got up and out early, we were loaded in the van by 530. Last night the dogs barked on and off for a while but oddly did not start up when it sounded like a small animal possibly a raccoon was being killed at about 125am. Everybody enjoyed that little wake up, i heard grumblings all around. I got hot again last night which is a good thing. It means this bag is worth the ridiculous amount of money i paid for it, and a good chance it will make the sierras comfortable, at night anyways. We made excellent time this morning getting 8 miles done in 3 hrs which included a breakfast break. Tomorrow Kraigs' friend "Grizz"(cause he likes grizzly bears apparently) is coming out to meet us at mile 504 point something at Bear camp- how appropriate. In continuing with the slow down process we will probably take a nero (near zero) there with "Grizz". Supposedly he is bringing fruit and beer and snacks so i cannot really afford to miss that. Probably still looking at 3 days in Kennedy Meadows before Sierras departure so we might take a day at Lake Isabella as well. The last 8 miles was tough at times on my leg. It is real weird in that if i can maintain a certain even gate it is just fine, even after it has started hurting. But any irregularities and i feel sharper pain right away. So today i made it 12 miles before it started hurting, maybe with tomorrows nero it can heal a little more. Got to get it right by the time i head into the sierra's. To be honest the sierra's are what i have been most intimidated by in all facets of this trip, researching, planning, and now executing. Ive changed my approach and hopefully it is a good choice. I will now be going out of Kennedy Meadows(start of sierra's) with 11 days of food; 10 days of travel and one day to summit Mt. Whitney. OK i am getting ahead of myself, or ahead of you and the trip rather. The Mojave is really whats next, and it lays below the mountain top we are camped on tonight. Looks rather barren, but not as long as i had envisioned. Its funny because miles wise it seems that i have a long way to go. But time wise it has been flying by, and seems as though it will continue to do so. Its only a week from Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows and i will be to Tehachapi in 3 days. Really looking forward to seeing my parents in Mammoth, and although its almost a month away it seems very near. Wow this is a long post, we got into camp really early and i was in my tent and in my sleeping bag before the sun was down-that's why. One last thing though, i have decided i am not going to law school this fall. I know, i know, but i am not moving on to something else, i just want to finish the trail absolutely positively. So Oregon folks and family look out cause I'm making it to cascade locks if all goes well. Still haven't worked out my transition back into civilization while avoiding moving back into the parents house, but i got some time to mull that over, ill figure something out. Alright more then enough said, if you've even made it this far. Though! t of the day(compliments of the late Ellis Chartier); She was only the cattleman's daughter, but all the horsemen knew her...Song of the day; since my baby left- dum dum- i found a new place to dwell- dum dum- an easy beat on lonely street called heaaart break hotel, iiiim feelin soo lonely baybaay, im feelin soo lonely i could diiie - by the kaying, Mr Elvis Presley. Craving of the day; quality sushi.

JWC on the PCT

A Solid Zero

Day 30, a zero - Well i had planned on leaving this evening and getting a few miles under my belt before retiring for the night. But as it tends to do out here, things change and after a few beers, a warm fire, and another guaranteed free meal, so i decided to stay one more night. The pro's were just listed, but the con is that ill be getting up at 5am tomorrow to hit the trail by 6 at the latest. Chuck Norris (trail name) offered to give us a ride in the morning so we took the opportunity to relax a little longer this evening. Didn't do much today, ate 3 oranges and two bananas and had a great sandwich for lunch that's about it. Made some calls to the Madre to change up some food drops and add some things here and there. Got a bunch of new characters into the Anderson's today, and while its nice to meet new folks i like it a little more thinned out then this. With a 5am start that ought to fix some of that, plus most of these people are going to zero tomorrow as we did today. The Anderson's w! as an interesting place to say the least, i probably should have gotten more pictures. Currently "jake" the neighborhood gigalo dog is roaming causing all the other dogs to go nuts as they did last night as well. People are yelling for Jake at equal intervals and Kraig is getting rather annoyed in his attempt to sleep. We are camped up close to the house tonight as we decided at the last minute to stay, so i am just cowboy camped (no tent) right outside the back fence. Some people are trying to get to sleep so i should turn my head lamp off and quit writing. Thought of the day; i can get cynical about pretty much anything given ample time. Song of the day; nothing but a gangstaaa paaharty, that's the chorus, by somebody; and Georgia on my miiiind, this particular version by a blind guy i saw on Ellen for a brief second this afternoon, really phenomenal. Craving of the day; nothing really.

JWC on the PCT

Two half days = two half days

Day 29, Mile 478.6 - First half of the day went to the trail, second half of the day went to Corona and Tecate at the Andersons. If the Saufleys is "hiker heaven", the Anderson's is the the anti-christ to that. First thing when we got in was a beer in the hand and the rules laid out. Rule number 1, don't let the dogs out, and that's it. After a slightly painful last 3 or 4 miles into town it was nice to just sit in a chair and relax in the middle of the day. What an amazing place here in green valley at the Anderson's. A hiker gathering if I've ever seen one. Had hot dogs at 4 and taco salad at 7, and beer flowing throughout the day, they really know what a hiker needs. I am probably going to take another zero tomorrow i think. It depends on what i want to do time wise. I am actually real confused as to my schedule. I'm still hiking with Kraig and Gina and they are on a similar pace and they project a Manning Park arrival date of September 25th. As opposed to my schedule which has a few more zeroes for! visiting folks but a faster pace as well and my arrival date is October 6th. So yeah i don't know, but here i am at the Anderson's slowing down for a Kennedy Meadows arrival date of June 13th or 14th and seemingly pushing back my northern terminus date as well. So now after reading this you can be as confused as i am, see its like you're right out here with me... lost apparently. There is a manzanita forest behind the Anderson's house that has tons of camping spots. I of course thought i needed to go as deep as possible into the 1/4 mile of trail back in here. I am slightly regretting it now that i can hear what sounds like a decent sized mammal, well to be honest it sounds like human steps circling my tent. I'd rather it was an animal, as long as it doesn't get my food bag which is hanging from the tree over my tent. Alright sleep time, before my imagination gets active. Thought of the day; my leg needs to hurry up and heal. Song of the day; i think the title is Angels Among U! s by Alabama. Craving of the day; the fillet mignon my dad made before i left, possibly the best steak of my life so far.

JWC on the PCT