PCT Day 42: Mile 528.5-558.5 Tehachapi


The wind lightly caressed my tent all night. Not sure why, but I woke without being fully rested. It was time to move and I had light hopes of making it to Tehachepi by the end of the day. Just a cool 29 miles away.

In the middle of the night at 9:45pm and again at 1:15am I heard people passing my tent, nighthiking the flat open desert section afraid of the heat (which was nonexistant). I chose to hike it in the day and packed up and rolled out with a surprisingly light pack as I was working on my last day of food.

I soon met Poke and Spicy from South Africa. We chatted as we hiked town the flat trail with windmills towering above. They had been all over the world, trekking together and this was just another trip for them. We came across Fairweather, hiking on with some hurt feet just before the first water resupply.

We all topped up on water and I stopped for a snack. They pressed on and I got in the solo mood and started hammering. I passed the new friends and trekked through the hills making it to the next water resupply where I found a few other hikers gatheringwater from the shallow creek. The next few miles twisted and winded through the mountains, until I came to a large dropoff preceeding the last big gain of the day.

Up and on I went, my favortie kind of trail. The gain was good, the views incredible, and I soon came upon Fig Papa having a tough time heading up the grade. He was distraught about his bother forgetting to send him a new pair of shoes to Tehachapi Post Office and the ones on his feet were well beyond their life. His feet were pretty done, but grin and bearing it, he knew there was 10 more miles to go to the road. We stopped briefly at a trail magic oasis at mile 549 to rest the feet and chat with other hikers. I then pressed on the next 10 miles alone.

It was all down hill and my feet were pretty beat, but the scenery made up for it. Wild flowers came out to play and the cool weather made it all worth while. I finally reached the trailhead where Happy Feet was hanging out in his FJ with a huge smile on his face. We chatted and he gave Mike, Paul, Sisyphus, and myself a ride to Tehachapi. We stopped at the Red BBQ place and gorged on some incredibly good food. Wow is all I can say, if you are ever in town, make the stop! The owner Mimi let us camp out back for free and we took full advantage. What a great day!

Hiker Profile:

Spicy & Poke: From South Africa, a married couple that traveled the world together. They were both climbers, hikers, and all around adventurers. They had recently sold their house and bought a new one in Capetown which they rented out for this trip. Leavin their cat to their brother and their computer programming jobs behind. They hit the trail excited to see what the PCT had to offer. They were taken it back by the beauty and diversity of the desert thus far, every day brought something new to the table. They were both eager for the Sierras although a little unsure of the snow as they had not much experience with it. Both out there, smiling, enjoying the journey as it came!


PCT Day 41: Mile 504-528.5 HikerTown


Alarm blasting, waking up with a wet bag, and going through the motions. It was 41 days in and I most definitly wasn’t tired of waking up and getting the chance of walking all day and taking in the views.

I headed out, soon stopping at a dirt road that lead to a cistern. It was said there was a dead snake in the water, at this point I was going for it. Sticks and bottles with their tops cut off laid near the opening. Apparently the method was to tape a bottle on a stick dipping it in the water to extraxt your portion.

Soon Sisyphus and the boys came walking down the hill after I was nearly done. Sisyphus employed a new method, he bent down sticking his whole body into the opening of the cistern and dipped out water by hand. He also went as far to pull the snake out, what a guy! I thought it was funny that is was him (Sisyphus) to pull out the snake that died obviously by drowning after attempting frutaly to escape it’s inevitable death. . .

After, we all trekked on, and what a beautiful trek! We rolled through the hills and the light shone through, soon the hills opened up and I could see the dry desert below. “Bring on the heat”, I thought! The beautiful meadow I was strolling through reminded me of walking down an Alabama country road. Birds chirping, golden light shining through, it was pretty serene.

Snaking through the next few miles I finally exited at a place called HikerTown where a bunch of other hikers were hanging out. We caught a lift to the diner 4 miles away where I ordered some food and recharged the batteries.

After betting back, chilling, and filling up on water I took off into the flat open desert. After a few miles walking by farm houses and plots of land I found the LA aquaduct, and eventually a huge pipe that feeds it. As I walked along its top I thought of all the peoples water below my feet, looking around seeing not a drop to drink. I bet some never even think of how far their water traveled just to be at the convinience of the flick of a wrist at the kitchen sink.

I trekked a few more miles, enjoying the cool temps and the joshua trees all around. My feet were tired and I found a nice spot to hunker down. Tent up, food in my belly, I layed down to rest, pretty happy with the days work behind me!

Hiker Profile:

Snake Patrol – From Saskatchewan Canada, hee had just graduated college and never had gone backpacking before in his life, before the PCT. He graduated in Mechanical Engineering and did some interships in his home city. Hopefully hell get a fulltime job post PCT where his gilfriend lives. Hes always been into some kind of sports, and played american football for all 4 years in high school as a tight end. He plans to get back onto his hockey team as soon as he gets back, and has really enjoyed hiking it with his best mate from school, Bakster.

Snake Patrol with his tongue sticking out.


PCT Day 40: Mile 478-504 Bear Trail Camp


I woke a little later than usual. I still felt the stickiness from dew or moisture from a fog that rolled through the night before and expected it on the hike that day. After packing up and walking to the front, breakfast was served! Pancakes and coffee waited anyone who desired them. I was elated and brabbed a plate, ready and hungry.

Knowing a needed to get moving, I said goodbye to the other hikers and grabbed my bag starting the 2 mile road walk back to the trail. Before I got tot the first stop sign, Terri and 2 other hikers pulled up asking if I wanted a ride. “Hell yes” came out of me involuntarily. I hopped in, and minutes later was setting foot on trail. I thanked her for the ride and got moving.

The foggy cloud of course awaited me and I welcomed it with open arms. I snaked through the manzanita as the trail gided me through the mountains. Finally after quite a few miles the fog burned off and I could see the views in the distance. Soon Sisiphus caught up to me and we chatted for bit as we trekked on. He was from Holland, and after visiting Californis in his teens, he came back with a bigger adventure in mind.

I waved him on and took a break in the sun, it was snack time and a nice chicken burrito satisfied my desire. I looked north, to the desert, knowing full well that i would be down in the furnace the next day. Enduring the heat, and hopefully fairing well. The open high desert turned to a canopied forest. It was beautiful with little strands of light finding their way through the leaves of the trees. I snaked my way though.

After playing a game of treasure hunt for a water cistern at Sawmill Camp I got back on the trail and headed on. The miles at the end of the day sometime seem hardest. I think its mainly for the bloode gorged feet that have been pounded for the last 20+ miles that are pleading for help. I gave them no relief, and kept hiking. I soon found Sisyphus, Paul, and Mike, setting up camp for the night. I paused and we chatted before I pushed the last mile and a half to Bear Trail Camp. I was tired, and glad to be there. So were my feet, especially when I finally released them from their shoe prison. Whew man, a big fbut fun one!

Hiker Profile:

Fig Papa (John): From Rhode Island, he pressionally sails boats for a living. Everwhere from 10 foot skippers to 100 foot yachts, he serves clients by racing their beastly masterpieces all over the world. He loves that fact that he is land locked on trail. Here on the PCT he is as far as could be from any boat or boat talk. Really taking a break from it all!


PCT Day 39: Mile 454-478 Casa De Luna 24-24-24 Challenge


All eyes were set on Casa De Luna. A group of us wanted to get there and my 2 buddies Lucas and Bones wanted to attempt the 24-24-24 Challenge. Like most challenges, they made no sence and you were required to make an ass of yourself and prove your worth as a hiker, or a man, or something like that. The test was to walk from Hiker Heaven to Casa De Luna, a distance of 24 miles, while consuming 24 beers, and completing this feat within 24 hours. Did I mention this is all on the DL?!

I of course agreed to go along and babysit as the voice of reason. Honestly to get some good pics and video of the whole thing! We set out, stopping at the grocery store where both fellas loaded up with 24 beers and we were off. They cracked the first beer where Section D started, and we were off. We chatted as they went, took the pictures, video interviews of course. Both seemed pretty confident and dedicated, only 2 beers in of course.

We finally got off the road and back onto dirt trails. WE rekked on with a good pace. Bones had sent his food forward to Casa De Luna, Lucas decided to carry everything. I was surprised at how quick they still moved. The fog was waiting in the moutins for us and soon engufed us as it did me the day before.

They drank on and we chatted about all kinds of subjects. Eight miles in we took our first break and it seemed like a huge portion of hiker heaven had been released. WE saw at least 20 peopel come through all buzzing about the challenge, everyone in good spirits. They had drank 10 beers before 10 am and were pretty proud. The fog burned off and I new the hardest part of the day awaited us.

The sun started beaming down and we walked on. The laughter and chattiness wore off as they approached beer #16, and I knew they both needed to drinlk wter, I forced them both the chug half a liter. WE hiked on and the gain stared to pick up as we did. Lucas got this idea in his head about the perfect place to hang out and relax for a few hours while trying to have a few more beers from the sun. Ever tried to be the voice of reason to a guy 16 beers in? Let me save you the time, dont try!

It became pretty obessed in his mission, and after me asking him to take a 5 minute break while I take care of busniness of my own, he delaired it wasn’t personal and pressed on. At this point I deemed they were on their own. I found them a few miles later, huddles up in the spot he recalled. Crushed beer cans and a look of relaxed pride after finding his paradise was across Lucases face, Bones was indinfferent. I walked in chatting for a few and finally said y goodbyes to finsih out the last 7 miles of the day.

By the end I caught up to Fugi and Dino (Silver Fox), and I could feel the miles in the bulding of my feet. I was ready to be done. We walked out of the trail, surprosed to find Nancy Pants, a trail Angel, waiting to give us a ride to Casa De Luna! What a treat!

We arrived, and there were tons of hikers. The manaznita forest out back where we all camped was the most impressive bit. After a hug to Terri (she owned the place), a borrowed hawaiian shirt, and some free taco salad dinner I was set. It ws such a nice positive vibe and everyone was happy to be there, a great day indeed!

Trail Angel: Nancy Pants – lived in the town and loved hikers, being one herself. She enjoyed being recieved as someone’s joy at the end of a long day with a free ride and a smile!


PCT Day 38: Mile 444-454 Hiker Heaven


I woke wet and damp. It wasnt dew, but something finer, and once I got out of my tent I could see what it was. A fog had covered the surrounding mountains and its humidity must be the cause of the wetness. I got up, packed up, and hiked out of the KOA.

I hiked up and into the fog and it was delightful! At first I thought it would be irritating, but it wasnt cold and the wind wasnt howling. I hiked on and up into a landscape that held large rocks with formations that reminded me of a creek bed.

I saw a coyote stop me, leap from his morning rest spot and take off, tearing up the hill. It was some of the better wildlife I had seen so far! I kept snaking through the mountains. Up and up I went until I was fully engulphed by the cloud. Once I peaked the ridge, I could hear a roar from a road below. I wasnt exactly sure what highway it was, and I couldnt see it, but I could hear it through the thick blanket.

I decended further until I could make out the road and the valley below with the trail leading to it. Soon I met Apineglo, a bearded man in a kilt, from Canada. He was a funny guy and didnt have trouble pirting out obsenities, like water from a spigot. WE trekked on, chatting together and soon safter hiking through a tunnnel, beneath the road we saw incredibe area of rocks that were molded by water and air.

We kept treking in snapping pictures left and right before climbing up the hill on the other side and heading further towards Auga Dulce. WE passed Vasquez Rocks, a pklace with incredible formations. It so happen to also be a site where part of Blazing Sadles was filmed!

After the rocks, we walked a few miles by road into town. WE sat together chatting on while eating breakfast at an open diner. I headed over to the grocery, grabbed my resupply, and headed towards hiker heaven. Once there Sidetrail gave me the rundown of the place. They had laundry, shower, charging stations, computer to use, tv and a ton of movis, plenty of space to camp, and even trimmers to cut your hair if you needed! It was pretty awesome!

After making a quick Lyft run to REI, I returned triumphant with a new pair of shoes, new baselayer, and new sox! Fresh clothes and a shower, it really is the little things in life! Later that night I grabbed some wood and a bunch of us started a fire in the pit. One of the guys who volunteed at the place came over asking if we had asked for permission. The logs and an empty pit was more than permission for me, but then and there I was named Fire Marshall. Apparently I was in charge of extingushing the flame at the end of the night and I could tell anyone to go to bed. Hahha, laughs ensued and people joked about making it my trail name. It wouldnt be the first, and im certain not the last.


PCT Day 37: Mile 418.5-444 Action KOA


I woke to the sound of electricity buzzing in the air above the camground. The large powelines that rose overhead ran from the Fire House too the street below. Like every morning, it was time to move. I hiked on and up the hill on my own leaving the group behind. The rolling hills before me were nice and I enjoyed the gain.

On I pushed until finding a beautiful cloud covering the entire valley below and the moutain tops were the only things that poked through. It was like looking at huge sea monsters moving through the deep sea. I hiked on greeting the Gazel Boys (4 guys who grouped together from the first day at Scout and Frotoes) and soon after Cricket. We chatted for a bit for a while as we hiked.

I told her about phoenix and why my shirt was all tattered and torn. We hiked on and further, and the gain started to pick up and I pressed on. Finally I came across an awesome overlook from a saddle. One thing I could say is that almost every day seems like a post card on the trail. I soaked it in.

After having a snack I pressed on the next miles and kind of floated as I did. Soon I pulled into the Ranger station where I stopped for water. There were free hotdogs up for grabs. Man we are getting treated so well here! After pressing on I had just 8 miles to the KOA for camp and I seemed to just go into my own head. Taking the gains on as fast as I wanted, and zooming on the downs where my feet would let me.

Finally I came upon the road that lead to the KOA. Coppertone, a trail angel was propped up at the trailhead, but I was too much in a hurry to get to the KOA before it closed at 5pm. Ice cream, a hot shower, and a jacuzzi awaited me after the quick 0.2 mile walk. I posted up, and was pretty content overall. The group started trickling in slowly and I slipped away to check email and do some administrative work before settling in for the night. Another great day!

Hiker Profile:

Cricket – Early 20’s from Houston Texas who moved to Readding CA. She Trail Angeled for PCT hikers in northern Cali from time to time before finally deciding to make the move herself to take on the huge adventure. She had ripped her first shirt, lost her Anker charger in the first week, and seemed to be taking it all in stride. Her shoulders were burnt from the new dress she baught to maek up for the shirt. She enjoyed trekking outdoors and was very interested in Wildlife Biology. Perhaps she’ll persure it after Canada.


PCT Day 36: Mile 394-418.5 The Fire House


The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire . . . – Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three

I woke, early as usual. I could still hear the creek just campside gurgling away. It was time to move! I went through the morning routine and was soon standing with my coffee, leaving camp, waving bye to those who were up, and woundering if those still snuggled in their bags were going to sleep in.

I pressed on, after stopping to put my hoody away when Amanda caught up to me. I had met her briefly in Wrightwood and again the night before, but this was the first time we ever actually got to chat. We rambled on as we walked and I asked about where she came from, which I was happy to sit back and listen to as we hiked up and out of the valley.

The views were gorgeous, and we took in the morning light. Soon we came upon Camp Glenwood where we stopped to rest and grab water. Soon the rest of the gang showed up! There were free post cards including postage on a post board nearby and I grabbed one to send out (you’ll find out who you are soon enough). We chatted and snacked before leaving the nice small camp.

I trekked out with Lucas and we chatted as we went rolling through the hills, heading up through the high desert and the pines. It was a really nice day and we bobbed from road crossing to road crossing. Finally we all started to split off into our little bubbles trekking through the landscape. Cool Runnings caught up to me on the downhill and we chatted as we went. He told me about his service in the military and his maintenance on Helos. I told him about my time as an Engineer in the repair and overhall plant in Phoenix I had done. We laughed at the small connection you find in unexpected places.

Cool Runnings

We came upon Lucas chilling under a tree, and soon took a quick break before pushing on and up through the brush laced trail to the pines above and eventually a beauful saddle that overlooked the valley west. We all took a break, eating lunch and enjoying a little down time.

Ready to press on after some good snack, we hiked down the last few miles to the Fire House. The words Beer and Pizza were all it took to bring most of us running! Doug, a hiker, was there just handing out free food to anyone interested, asking no thanks in return. We thanks him anyway. We mashed down and hiking just a little further down to camp. There we stretched, ate, joked on about thai ramen, and the 24-24-24 challenge (more info to come), and things we had seen on trail. It was a solid day, everyone was in good spirits and the views of course were incredible.

Hiker Profile:

Amanda – 33, from Portland, hiking with her dad who just so happened to qualify for the Boston Marathon. She has her Bachelors from Portland State in Hearing and Speech Therapy and did some shadowing all while working as a waitress as Ruth Criss. She loves helping those in need and is excited to go back to grad school once completing the PCT.

Lucas – 20s, Lucas is a funny character. Funny in that he always seems to have a look on his face that he is pondering something deep written across his face if you aren’t speaking to him directly. When you do speak with him he is funny, chatty, and on a mission of his own. He can trek fast and hard. He attempted the PCT in 2017 which was brought to a hault by fired in Oregon and Washington. After coming off trail he found it hard to readust coming so close to finishing. He’s back this year with a lot of energy and vigor for cleaning up the unfinished business he has.


PCT Day 34+35: Mile 369-394 Mt. Baden-Powell


Cool Runnings, Madalyn, Lucas, and myself woke early in the morning to meet Madalyn’s Uncle Matt, who lived intown and offered to give us a ride at 6am. The day before (Day 34), we all decided to take a full zero and recover. It was well needed. Plus we watched Cool Runnigs and Austin Powers (lil throw back 90s action). So once matt arrived we all piled into the truck and we were off.

The morning was chilly and getting going was like brushing dust off an old tractor that had been sitting in a field for 10 years. The views were great though and we snaked through the landscape quicky until finally finding the start of the uphill to Mt Baden Powell. It wasn’t killer gain, but with 4 days food resupply and water to get me and ther 10 miles, it was energy draining!

It wasn’t as steep as the push to Mt. Baldy just 2 days before, but for some reason my body was still trying to shake off the dust. I pressed on, up the switchbacks one by one. About 3/4 of the way up, I ran out of gas and had to start pushing will my will alone. After some good grunts and groans, I topped the windy peek to find and american flag, gorgeous views, and Luke playing the Ukulele.

I sat and took it in, looking back to where we were days before. Really stellar views! We chatted on as everyone arrived, and dispersed just the same. It seemed it was a day of every man for himself, and I was alright with that.

I hiked the next miles through the landscape, glacing on to the distance and really enjoying it. At one point I met Luke on a stellar trailside rest stop overlooking a cloud covered valley. I joined him, and we chatted about all kinds of things.

It was time to push on, and the next few miles melted away. I finally was stopped when we came to an endagered species trail closure and had to road walk. Bones joined me for a bit and we chatted before making it to Buckhorn Campground where there was a big group of PCTers and a couple of trail angels cooking up hotdogs for everyone. Man what a nice treat!

We chowed down and decided to walk on a bit further down the trail and not to get sucked into the camp. Sometimes its nice to be in a big group, but sometimes a smaller group on a backcountry campsite with a gurgling creek is whats needed. Thats just what we found, just 2 miles ahead. Luke was sitting in camp, chilling. Bones and I, and eventually Amanda, Hannah, Cameron, Madalyn, and Cool Runnings trickled in. We all hung out, ate dinner, did stretches, and hit the bed. A good day indeed!


PCT Day 33: Mile 357-369 Mt Baldy


I woke up early, packed up, and got my butt moving, I was hoping to hike from our camp to Hwy 2 and catch a hitch into Wrightwood before everything closed down at 5pm. It was only 13 miles away, but the challenge was doing the 7.5 side trip to the top of Mt Baldy and back and also finishing the 13. Needless to say I was moving.

There was and awesome cloud looming over the San Bernadino Mountains to the East. I snapped pictures as I trekked on. The only person I saw that morning was Eagle, he was doing his thing solo and I wasnt about to disturb him. A dull pain started up in my left knee as I hiked through the morning. I told myself that it would go away, but it persisted. It would start up like an orchestra tuning a D string, and fade as they found the note. It wasn’t sharp, or quick, just a dull roar. I trekked on until finding my tunoff.

I dropped down onto the road below, set up my tent, stashed all my gear except my bag, some water, and a snack. I started hiking down further to the saddle just before the trail took off, upwards, towards Pine Mountain (first of 2 summits before baldy). The gain was unforgiving and hardy.

Up and up I went , until finally finding the top of Pine and I could see all the way to Mt Baldy, and I understood the full extent of the trek I bit off. The trail dipped far down between the saddles of the peaks and I would have to regain all I lost just to get to the next. There was no other way, I was commited. Off I went.

Finally I reached the 2nd peak, Dawsons Peak. It had a register and I saw someone comment “now to regain 1200 ft to Mt Baldy”. “Oh goody”, I said. I thought back to Phoenix and Squaw peak having similar gain and how every Friday Pete Kennedy, Dane Butow, and I would meet and race each other to the top after work. Shoving elbows and talking trash, we would edge each other on, until redlining the heartbeat and leaving it pinned there until finally we reached summit and gasped for air.

Dane and Pete weren’t physically there that day, but they hiked that last hard push with me. I pressed hard, sweating, heart pumping, until finally by almost some miricle the gain stopped and I reached the top.

The views were great! I met Zack and John at the top and we chatted for a bit. After snacks and a break I said goodbye and headed back. Finally after a few grueling hours I had returned to my trail stash. Once back, Kevin, a day hiker, seemed to appear from nowhere. We chatted for a bit before he took off up the hard gain to Pine Mountain.

I hiked the final miles to the highway exhausted for the most part. I walked to the road and stuck my thumb out. Not but 5 minutes and a black SUV pulled to the side of the road and opened a door for me. Zack, his gilfriend and 2 dogs greeted me and we chatted as we drove to Wrightwood.

I had finally arrived, soon found the Moutnain Hardware store, food, and a group of PCTers that I ended up staying with in town. It was a good long day and I was beat. Not too beat to go out for a 2nd dinner and some beers in town with the guys, but definitly beat.

Day Hiker Profile:

Zack, John – I met these guys at the top of Baldy. Super nice and hooked me up with a little extra water so I could get back to my trail stash (I had slightly underestimated the gain and wanted a lil extra as backup).

Kevin – Nice guy from LA, clean cut, instagramer that liked to bag peaks from different trailheads.

Trail Angel:

Travis – Super nice guy with his girlfriend, puffing on some grape flavored vape, and sporting a shaggy curly yellow mane. They were locals and worked at the zip line place in town.


PCT Day 32: Mile 335.5-357 McDonald’s Challenge



Bring on the challenge!

I woke up to a very wet tent. The condensation from my breath and the dew of the morning settled on my fly. It made putting my tent away feel like putting on wet underwear. Not very fun!

Never the less, I was up and moving down the trail taking in the views. I had little expectations as we neared interstate 15. I thought we would be just looking at and listening to a roaring highway the whole time. Instead the trail decended a beautiful flowing rollercoaster through the landscape, and it was so awesome!

The views were stellar and we dropped further down into a small canyon until finally just before being spit out on the side of the I15. There was a McDonolds just 0.4 miles away and we had all (there was a group of 15 PCT hikers all camped together) chatted about meeting up there for breakfast. We were all eager to see who woud take on the McDonald’s Challenge. It was Sean who stepped up to the plate.

The McDonalds Challenge was born when a guy resupplied his food with soley McDoubles for 90 miles. Since then its been modified a bit here and there. For the most part people try to make it to Wrightwood, just 28 miles away (and a lot of uphill) only on the fast food gooodness. Sean was stepping up to the plate with 10 cheese burgers and 2 McChickens. He ordered them all without condiments so that he could add his own later in hopes that the burgers would keep longer.

After bidding him good luck I headed back out to the trail. The sun was up, and after cresting a nice ridge I met Dino who sported a big smile and a salt and pepper beard. He was packing out a few burgers himself. I had too much food as it was and didnt want to risk the stomache issues. I pressed on up and over the ridge coming down the other side to a nice water cash. I sat down, pulled off my shoes, performed surgery on a thorn that had been in my foot from the day before, grabbed some grub, and grabbed an extra liter of water. The next push up the hill to come was going to be a good one.

As soon as I stood to leave, Dino and Jenn (the woman I met in Mission Springs a week back) walked up. We chatted about the lack of water in the miles to come and how it wasnt going to be easy. I said goodbye and pressed on.

The next few miles were great! All uphill and on a perfect grade. Up and up I went. Fueled by ramen, pringles, and gushers I hiked to my hearts content. The trail snaked and swirled and I took in the views and enjoyed every step.

inally around the 9th mile of the consistant gain, I met back up with Jelly Bones, Madalyn, and Fuji (a new friend I just met). We chatted and laughed about the McDonald’s episode and about Wrightwood to come. I pressed on just 1/2 mile more to a nice flat camp. Eagle, Jelly Bones, Madalyn, Windbreaker, and a few others rolled into camp. Food, stretches, bed, and lights out for me. What a nice day, beautiful views, great trail, and lots of laughs.

Hiker Profile:

Sean – Early 30s, from Seattle. Chose to take on the McDonald’s Challenge with 10 cheese burgers and 2 McChickens. A true legend of the day!

Alex and Michael – 28, best friends for 22 years. Roommates, not only in life, just also on the trail. 2 bros, hiking it out, sharing a tent.

Fuji – 30s, From Holland, working at a travel company designing pamphlet porfolios. She coordinated, selected, and refined photoes for places of interest. Ever seen a pamphlet for a city or vacation destination? She was the lady behind the scenes, working hard to bring you the product. After have lived in California for a year or so as a teenager, she decided it was the PCT to bring her back and really explore the state.


PCT Day 31: Mile 312-335.5 Silverwood Lake



The best surprises are the ones you never see coming.

I woke early, went through the routine, and before long I was standing, admiring the sunrise with my pack on my back and a cup of coffee in my hand. Not a bad way to start the day.

Jelly Bones and Madalyn had just rolled out of their tents and I waved goodbye as I headed down the trail. The morning was cool, but not cold, and I figured the today would be a bit warm. I headed down the switchbacks and across the open lot before coming face with my first fording oppertunity. It wasnt bad, pulled my shoes off and filtered water as I crossed. Before long I was hiking back up into the mountians.

The trail skirted the west side of the San Bernadino Mountains and the views over the valley inundated with farms was pretty nice. I soon came up on Eagle, a German, chilling next to a small creek. I stopped, chatted, gathered water before Madalyn and Jelly Bones came rolling through.

It was time to trek, we three got back to the usual froghopping theme and pushed the next miles quickly. Just before the Silverwood Lake dam Madalyn pulled off to wait for Bones, I pressed on. The temps started getting warmer as I climbed until finally cresting over the hill and getting slapped in the face with views of Silverwood Lake.

What a paradise in the desert! I skirted the lake taking in the views until finally pulling into a pavilion at the far end of the lake. Some other hikers had ordered beer and pizza!!! What a treat! I grubbed down, gathered water and took a quick swim before getting moving again.

We all (there were at least 10 or so hikers) pressed on in tiers, taking the next 7 miles in stride as they meandered through the manzanita and sage brush maze. I finally reached camp, scouted a decent spot and set up. Soon the other hikers trickled in, plenty of room for all! After a good meal and stretching I found myself in the tent chilling out after another great day!

Hiker Profile:

Eagle – From Berlin, Germany. He has done a few long distance trails in the Germany, including the circumference around Berlin and a trail through the Alps. He loved the huge size of the US and wanted to try a big thru hike.


PCT Day 30: Mile 285.5-312 Deep Creek



There was frost covering my tent. I woke cold and with the hood of my sleeping bag sintched down around my face. It was time to move. I kicked my Jetboil on, boiling water for coffee and started packing up.

I was soon on my feet trekking down the trail, blowing into my hands, hoping that the feeling would return to my numb fingers. Finally the sunlight warmed me and thawed me out as I winded through the pines.

I came to the Holcomb creek and took a break, snacking and filtering water. Soon, to my surprise, Madalyn and Jelly Bones rounded the corner. We chatted about the miles to come and the water resupply. Soon I was back on my feet saying goodbye.

Coulter pinecone

After a few miles I came across a Canadian couple who I had met the day before. Soon madalyn came screaming by, she had a good pace! I said goodbye after snapping their picture and took off. For the next miles Madalyn, Jelly Bones, and I leap frogged as we hiked out of the pines into the granite boulder speckled landscape.

We pressed on together until finding a bridge with a nice creek below. I walked down, pulled off my shoes, and sat on a log in the middle of the creek, feet plunged in. Once lunch and the break was over, I said goodbye to the girls and headed out.

The trail hugged the side of a canyon with Deep Creek at the bottom cascading down as it dropped. After snaking through the valley I took another break. The girls soon turned the corner and we resumed the leapfrogging.

We hiked past the hot springs, where there was an overwhelming crowd of nude guys hanging out in the pools. Welp I could have done without that mental image!

We trekked further down the canyon, until finally, as the sun set, we came to a trailside camp.

Hiker Profile:

Madalyn & Jelly Bones

They met in Frezno, both from Santa Cruz. Madalyn went to college at NYU for Environmental Science and Jelly Bones went to a college in Vermont studying Film and Biology. They both dabbled in climbing and hiking. They had both recently graduated and saved up deciding to hike the PCT together.

Jelly Bones

PCT Day 29: Mile 277.5-285.5 Little Bear Trail Camp



Parting is such sweet sorrow – Shakespeare

The alarm blasted, it was time to go. Izzie had been trekking with me for the last week, the time seemed to fly by. So fast that it seemed as though the day for her to head home had come way too soon. None the less, she gathered her things and we were soon both walking towards the bus stop just behind Vons.

Coffee in hand, it seemed as though we perfectly timed it. Not but a few minutes after arriving, the bus pulled up. We said our goodbyes and she boarded. I wasnt ready for her to go, but I knew I had a lot of miles ahead of me that weren’t going to walk themselves. I waved bye through the bus window as it pulled away. Turning, I headed to Vons to grab a food resupply.

After stocking up I headed back to the hotel, finished some administrative work, and packed up. I was ready to hit the trail. All morning my head seemed to be in a fog, perhaps it was too much coffee, perhaps it was not being used to beer I drank the night before. I sluggishly walked across town, back to he north side of Big Bear Lake arriving at the Couger Crest Trailhead.

Nauseated, I started to climb. The only thing I could think to do was just keep moving. I ascended, half in a daze. I soon reached my tent stash and packed it all up. After forcing a quick snack down my throat I just started walking. I feared that if I stop I might yak, and I didn’t have the time or the water to deal with that.

I walked the ridgeline, taking in the views when I could. It wasn’t until a few hours of dazed walking that the lathergic feeling finally faded. Somehow I had already walked 5 PCT miles and my stomache began to come back to life. I stopped and ate, chugged water, and tried to shake off the queeziness.

The next few miles were better. An awesome could inversion hung over the valley to the west, and I could finally appreciate the expansive views. I trekked on, soon finding myself at Little Bear Trail Camp. Shadow was there, already setting up camp. He had a bit of a belly that you could see under his black shirt. He had a few seemingly random tatoos on this forearms and legs. He had a small blue moon tattoed jut below his left eye and seemed to be missing his left front tooth. He seemed to train himself to try and cover it up by not smiling too big or pronouncing certain words. He seemed nice enough chatting as I walked up. I said hello, set up my tent, and went through the nightly routine. My stomach had settled, thank god!

Madelyn, Jelly Bones, Shadow, Greg joined the ranks of Little Bear Trail Camp as I sat and cooked my dinner of Knorr and mashed potatoes. We all chatted and ate dinner until 7, when we all retired to our tents. I was ready for a good night’s sleep!


PCT Day 28: Mile 276.5-277.5 Big Bear Lake



It was time to go into town! There was no real rush as Izzie and I couldn’t check into the hotel until 3pm. I figured we would mosey on down just in time to grab a burger for lunch. We got moving, in no hurry, packing up camp and making coffee.

We easily trekked the 1 mile to the cutoff for Big Bear Lake and I stashed my 1 man tent, along with my sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and 4 liters of water up on the ridge. This would save me from carying a good 13 pounds of weight back up to the ridgeline. Slackpakcing? Maybe, but it was just more efficient than lugging all the stuff down and back up.

After dropping the ridge and cicling the lake we came into town. We stopped off at Get The Burger for a tasty burger, fries, and cold beer. It was a little pricey, but was just the thing needed to hit the spot!

We headed to the hotel, checked in, got clean, and scrubbed our clothes in the sink. After hanging out to dry for a bit, we were ready to hit the town! We headed towards Big Bear Village, where we ended up stopping at the Social Bar & Grill. They had some pretty good live music and we hung out for a bit. So long in fact that we ended up staying for dinner!

We headed back to the hotel. The next day Izzie was to get on a bus headed to town so she could catch a flight bound for Washington. I would once again be hiking on solo. It was a good day, nice to finally get clean for once, and really enjoy the small things Big Bear had to offer.


PCT Day 27: Mile 271.5-276.5 Lake Swim



Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The day before was a nice big one, Izzie and I didn’t plan to but ended up hiking 19 miles to camp. So this morning we both moved like slugs and with all the additional miles we were only 6 miles from our dropoff into Big Bear so there was no rush.

It became a Lake day! We got up, packed up camp, and hiked down the trail through the wandering pines. Just 5 miles later we found a nice camp spot and set up for the night to come. Packing only food and water for the day we day hiked down towards the Lake for a nice lazy day (and much needed lake bath)!

We didn’t see many people until heading down the Cougar Crest Ridge Trail. Until then all we saw were lizards and a few red breasted woodpeckers. Pretty sweet seeing the wildlife. Once we hit the junction we started to see day hikers and PCTers.

We happily headed down the trail, taking in the sights of Big Bear Lake ahead. Before heading for our destination we stopped by the discovery center, filled up water and learned about the local wildlife.

After the center we finally arrived at the lake and the wind was blowing pretty good. It wasn’t cold, but with the wind you needed a jacket. We both braved the water and after acclimating to its temps we were grateful.

Chilling out and relaxing to appreciate small things off the trail is just as important as the PCT itself. We packed up, and hiked back up the hill to camp. Another great day! Tomorrow, Big Bear to resupply! I can taste the burgers already!


PCT Day 26: Mile 253-271.5



The human’s best survival quality is his ability to adapt.

The alarm blasted its insistent ring, letting us know it was time to start the day. We started the day without big expectations really, we figured we would just hike and see how far we got.

The first miles of the day were relaxed compared to the day before. Nice settle downhill through a pine valley all the way to a cool creek at mile 258. All the pain in my hips from the day before was totally gone. Maybe I just needed to break back into the backpacking groove!

On our way to the spring we kept leap frogging some of our camping neighbors from the night before. That’s when we met Kevin and Trout. Kevin went to school in Birmingham AL, an area where I had actually spent some time. Soon after meeting Kevin, Trout ran up and without introducing himself began to regale us all the tale of his runin with a scorpion . . . I’ll let his Hiker Profile tell the rest.

Once arriving at the 258 creek we ran into Mayo and Greyscale who we happily chatted with and learned they were both doctors and asked quite a few more questions about Sweden and how they came to meet. We sat by the trickling cool creek and enjoyed the break in the pines.

After filling up on water we pressed on, the gain became hardy again and it finally eased up once in the wide open high desert area where Joshua Trees started to appear. After trekking in the open desert for a bit we finally stopped to rest below a nice pine for a lunch break. A little Tanager bird chirped away in the branches above.

We pressed on further skirting the mountian and finally getting expansive views of the Lucerene Valley and a piece of the Mojave Desert. Finally we came to Highway 18 where we enjoyed a cool drink from some trail magic and a rest where we met Raider from Austria. He happily chatted, and was super friendly talking about the miles to come and the PCT McDonalds challenge (more to comb on this in future post)!

We said our goodbyes and Izzie and I pressed on, snaking through the hills enjoying the views of the desert and Lake Baldwin. We were halted by the Holcomb Fire closure at Mile 268. Talk about a burn, that area was scorched!We slogged the dirt road climb to bypass, man what a push! We finally met back up with the PCT and started desperately to find a flat spot to camp. After a few miles we finally found camp, a beer that we lugged from the trail magic cooler (thanks to Raider!), and incredible views of the setting sun.

What an unexpectedly nice big day!

Hiker Profile:

Trout – 20s, told us of the tale (from a few days before) where he was stung in the penis by a scorpion. He was filtering water 3 miles into his hike, when the arthropod crawled into his shorts and stung him. Only 15 miles later with a swollen situation, he exited the trail to get assistance.

Kevin – 30s/40s, grew up in ATL, went to UAB at Birmingham for Engineering. He moved to San Diego where he worked as a quality engineer for a small production plant. He saw the movie Wild and figured “I can’t let that bitch Reese Witherspoon show me up”. He took a leave of absence and started hiking!

Kevin (left) & Trout (right)


PCT Day 25: Mile 240-253 Zoo



Every ounce counts

It’s a funny thing to think about cutting your toothbrush in half, or only carrying 2 pairs of underwear . . . but all those little things start to add up.

I realized it when Nick accidentally brought a car camping tent instead of my 2 man backpacking tent for Izzie and I to use. Honest and easy mistake, especially when so many other things were being stuffed in the car (and the tents are the same color). My point is simply the weight difference in the tents (I ended up borrowing Sam’s car camping tent) really seemed to make an impact. I felt the weight on my back, so bad it started to cut into my hipbones. First time I had that issue in 240 miles.

Aside from me crying about gear weight, it was an awesome day! We woke, and had a pretty lax morning, getting on the trail after 8. I was happy to get moving and we pushed over the first hill. We wandered through the San Bernadino Mountains switchbacking up a ridge and down the other side. Every time we came close to the west end of a ridge we could see the snow capped San Gorgonio staring at us. As we neared the east side of the ridge, Palm Springs and the desert to its north came into view. Happy we weren’t down in the 100 degree desert heat, we hiked on.

San Gorgonio
Izzie trekking on, the desert in the distance.

After a few miles of beautiful mountains we came across an animal cage. It house 2 grizzly bears and a tiger. It stated on the map notes that they were used for films. A strange find in the middle of nowhere. We peered in, the 2 grizz paced back and forth, needing a larger space. The tiger lounged around, not looking too bothered.

Yup, that’s a grizz!

Tiger sniffing the air

We pressed on, up the next ridge, and the pines began to change. Huge Junipers began to come into view, they were great and massive with red shredded bark and dark green leaves. Then we started to notice the mistletoe in the branches. Izzie told me it was a parasitic plant and that it would take over the tree by transferring its seeds through an explosive expulsion which just spread to other surrounding trees. I could imagine it eventually taking over.

Twisted junipers

Mistletoe taking over

Finally after a long day carrying a full resupply and a little extra weight we found ourselves at camp. We set up, and enjoyed the remaining sunlight before crashing out like tranquelized wildebeests. A really good but tiring day.

Hiker Profile:

Greyscale (Walter) & Mayo (Emily): A couple who lived in Sweden, but came out for the PCT. Mayo was originially from Cali, but now lives in Sweden happily with Greyscale. It was her dream to trek the trail, and Greyscale came for support. He started with her in Campo Ca and would continue until Big Bear where he would fly home and Mayo would continue on to hopefully finish the trail.


PCT Day 24: Mile 240 San Gorgonio



Izzie and I woke early, made coffee, and hit the trail before the sun hit us. Our aim for the day was to top Mount San Gorgonio standing at 11,503 ft.

We pressed on in the early morning glow with just day packs that were light as a feather compared to the usual boulstering backpacks. We found ourselves at the traihead and started out.

The trail was faint at best to start and several times we got off track, on a wash that looked like a trail until we realized it went nowhere. I pulled out my phone and checked the GPX, we were way off! We circled around and finally found ourselves on an established trail and started trekking. Rounding a bend we saw a nice large meadow lay off to the right and a small creek trickled trailside. Suddenly, three deer, startled by us, headed up towards the top of the hill far from sight.

Perfectly good signage!

We pressed on, finding Fish Creek just before slathering on sunscreen and leaving the protection of the trees into the sun drenched hillside. The gain was on! We headed up and on switchback after switchback until finally seeing the snow covered Gorgonio, standing proud.

After a quick break we climbed further up the side of Gorgonio and finally into some heavy switchbacks. Snow caked the trail and we kicked in steps as we went. After rounding the south side of the mountain we reached the final switchback! The end was near and we were both a little tired from the push. By this point the trees were now shrubs, and nothing but large granite boulders and chipmunks lived up here. The constant gain finally let up to the summit, we rejoiced and celebrated with a much deserved snack and rest!

The views all around were awesome, San Jacinto to the south, Mount Baldy to the west, the Mojave desert to the northeast and Palm Springs to the east. Satisfied with our feat we packed up and headed back down the trail we came, until finally after 20 good miles we arrived at camp ravenous for food and the remaining 2 beers we stashed. Another great day outside!

What a great day!


PCT Day 22 + 23: Mile 240


5.5.18 & 5.6.18

I was woken up at midnight with Nick, Sam, an Izzie shinning their lights into my tent. I expected them to be in a car, but instead they were on foot. The night before Izzie (girlfriend) flew into Ontario CA, and Nick and Sam (buddies from Phoenix) picked her up from the airport. They drove towards the camp I was staying at just to find a locked gate that stopped their progress and forced them to walk on foot. Six miles and nearly 2000 foot accumilated gain they they found theirselves at the doorstep of my tent.

I was pretty happy to see everyone and we quickly set up camp and crashed out in the chilly 30 degree weather. The next morning we woke late and decided that with most of the supplies back at the car that instead of summiting San Gorgonio, the best plan, was to walk down the mountain back to the car and find a camp for the night. We set up, dropped most of our gear off, and went into Big Bear to be tourists for the afternoon.

I felt like a king, eating, sleeping, and actually bathing, it was a nice experience. After getting back to camp and making a steak and potato dinner I went to bed happy as a clam.

The next day we got up slowly and had an awesome steak, egg, cheese, and potatoe burrito. After handing out for a bit we headed back up the moutnain where Sam and Nick left Izzie and I to fend for ourselves for the rest of the afternoon. We snacked, day hiked, and relaxed, getting ready for the next day attempting a summit bid on Gorgonio.

Resupply time!

Hiker Profile:

Jenn – 60s, Wanted to walk cross country after seeing Forest Gump. It wasnt until she worked in Yellowstone for 4 seasons, that she realized you could cross the country on a trail and not just on roads. She was a retired corrections officer, as was her husband. Once she stated that she wanted to hike the trail, her dusband told her she needs to act her age. After working in Alaska a few seasons her husband started becoming more interested in hiking but still not too keen on her hiking the trail. Despite her insistence, her husband faught her up to the day she left for the PCT, planning was difficult. Husband drop her off at Scissors Crossing, and met her down the trail at Warner Springs. Every time he sees her, he tells her she can leave any time. Finally he started to support, sending food and packages. Shes plans on only hiking to Northern California, taking her time as she goes. Avergaing just 10 miles a day, shes taking her time and enjoying every minute of it!


PCT Day 21: Mile 240 – Trail Zero



Whew it was cold last night! Camping at 8000 feet brought on the 30 degree nights. I woke several times, I wasnt sure if it was the cold, my need to go to the bathroom, or my excitement to see my friends Nick,Sam, and girlfriend Izzie who planned on meeting me on the trail later today.

I tossed and turned sintching my bag down around my face so you could only see my mouth and nose. I could lay there any longer as I felt the warm from the sun beaming on my tent walls. I got up and did the usual routine to get paked and eat breakfast.

I was soon walking back down the old logging road towards Mission Spring Trail Camp taking in the expansive views, and for once taking my sweet time strolling along. They were to meet me at the camp 12 hours later just 4 miles away, so I had no hurry. I checked out the Fish Creek trailhead we planned to ascend the next day to the summit of San Gorgonio.

I walked the dirt road back to the camp, chatted with a few passing PCTers. I reached the camp where I met an older fella Walk about Jim. He had 2 dogs with him and was pretty friendly. His cowboy hat had the PCT emblem on the front. I could see some old faded tattoos on his forearms. He sported a few bracelets and a leather pouch around his neck. He was from Tennessee, was out to hike the trail and just taking his time to enjoy it. He didnt seem to have the urgency to hall butt up the trail like some of the younger thru hikers, just seemed to really be taking it all in.

I set up my tent as we chatted for a bit. He packed up and pressed on with his little 2 dogs and his walking stick. Super nice guy! I continued on with my chores: gathering water, getting an ice cold spring bath, gathering wood for the nearby fire pits, and having a little lunch. Now all was left to do was wait, and enjoy the surroundings!

Hiker Profile:

Walk about Jim – 70s? From Tennessee, moved to the suburbs of Chicago for about 20 years before finally coming back to Tenn after his parents heath started to fail them. Before leaving Chicago he hiked and biked the length of the American Discovery trail from Chicago to Venice Beach, which I would imagine planted the seed of long distance adventures. After finally having a heart attack and triple bypass surgery to save his life, he decided it was time to focus on himself for a bit. He planned to hike PCT, CDT, AT (tripple crown). Not an easy undertaking, but with his 2 dogs by his side, he seemed determined. If all else I could tell he just loved being out in nature.


PCT Day 20: Mile 231-240 Mission Springs Camp



I woke early and got moving! The late start the day before had me a little groggy and unmotivated to press down on the miles, so I figured a presunrise start would do me some good. It was such a nice morning! I was protected down in the canyon from any weather and my only accompanyment was the gurgle from the trailside creek.

I trekked on, passing tent after tent where other PCTers slumbered, it felt really nice to be moving early. Something about watching the golden hour of the sunrise was magical. I rounded a courner and saw Matt, just getting up and starting his coffee. I was in such a good moving mood that I only stayed for a moment before pressing on.

Surprise note from my friend Marcella, what a nice find!!!

The views were awesome, the higher I hiked, the more I could see. Snowcapped hillsides came into view and finally so did a burn area. It had already started to recover, shrubs and low plants were coming through popping with fresh green. A few of the old soldier pines still stood, half burnt, yet keeping the green of their needles, standing big and strong. Most of the other strees were fully burnt, leaving only a hard white skeleton standing upright. A few trees had fallen obstructing the trail and I carefully stepped over the obstacles.

Soon coming into a clearing I saw Jason again. “Hey man!!” He exclaimed when he saw me. We caught up for a few minutes as I gathered some water. After a bit we said farewell and I pressed the final miles up to Mission Springs Trail Camp. What a nice place, a cool spring flowed nearby and pines shaded the area.

I decided to hike up an old logging road to higher ground so perhaps I could get signal and call Nick, who was driving out the next day to meet me. With little luck I had success and got through. After making one or two other calls I pitched my tent and set up for the night. The views from the mount were awesome, I could see San Jacinto, and all the way down into Palm Springs. Another great day!

Hiker Profile:

Pitch & Mustang – A father daughter team coming out of Alberta Canada. Yes, they had an accent, and were super friendly. They told me about the crap winters they have had this season and how it was unseasonably cold and snowey. Mustang had completed a bunch of research on the long distance trails in the US and after seeing that the PCT had the much less rainfall than the AT, she convinced her dad that this was the one. Hiking home, thats gotta be a good feeling and a good motivator to just keep on moving!


PCT Day 19: Mile 218.5-231



The days began to meld together . . .

I woke and there was only little spurts of wind as opposed to gusts the night before. I was still tucked back in the meadow of the Whitewater Preserve and I wanted to make it a late morning to try and wait out the weather.

I had another small ant catastrophe, I think they got attracted to an empty coffee mug that I used to make Gatorade in. That’s how it goes sometimes. I packed up and did the morning routine, Matt was hanging back too and we hiked out of the Preserve together.

It was hard to get moving this morning for some reason, perhaps it was the lie in I had, or the 5 days of food I was carting around, at any rate the start was slow and sluggish.

The skies were still grey to the north and threatened rain, small spurts splashed us as we hiked across the flat of the Mission Creek floodplain. The trail finally started up a ridge and I was happy to get some gain and a higher view.

The mountains to the north were snowcapped and looking south, San Jacinto was also dusted with snow and shrouded in a thick cloud. We pressed on, taking in the views. I stopped for a moment to hang out on the ridge, Matt pressed on and soon Peanutbutter came hiking up the trail. I said hello and I had just finished my break so I decided to walk with him for a bit.

We chatted as we went up and down the hills, finally peeling off into the valley of Mission Creek which we would meander up until finally coming out at the headwaters, Mission Springs.

Peanutbutter pulled over and I kept on, catching back up to Matt. The valley was beautiful, brought to life by the creek, and guarded on both sides by large ridges, rising up nearly 1000 feet. The green plants and trees clung to the creekside, making a little oasis in the otherwise dry desert.

We kept on, hiking a few more miles, meandering up the canyon before finally finding a nice spot creekside with a big sandy pad. I plopped my stuff down, set up my tent, and got ready for dinner. I couldn’t think of a better place, the creek was gurgling, the temps were nice, and the site was flat, like it was made for a tent. Satisfied, I crawled into my tent and relaxed, calling it another good day!

Hiker Profile:

Peanutbutter – mid 20s, from Massachusetts, completed his undergraduate degree in Environmental Science, worked at seasonal jobs since he graduated and leveraged the temporary employment time period to complete the AT and now recently free of a relationship, looking for a new adventure found himself on the PCT.


PCT Day 18: 209.5-218.5



I woke to the sound of a train in the middle of the night. Clicked play on my music and dozed back off. By daybreak I was up, packing things away and getting ready to head out. The other hikers that camped under the overpass were following suit.

In the distance I saw a woman walking up with 2 bags in her hands towards the group. “Who was this?”, I thought. I soon found out it was Deborah, a trail angel that lived in the neighborhood nearby.

She greeted us with a smile and brought breakfast and coffee, what a treat! I scarfed down a donut and said my goodbyes to the group. I hiked into the desert and the blustering wind.

Jacket on, buff pulled up, I was decently warm, and mostly glad that it wasn’t raining! I hiked in the foothills towards a dark grey cloud with windmills lining the ridgeline. I pressed on, past the neighborhood just north of the I-10, and soon hidden into the mountains to the north.

How far again??

Don’t mind the power poles!

The duality of the old broken down ranch pen (on the left) to the new modern transformer plant for the wind turbines (on the right) was a mark of the times.

I trekked through the valleys and up the sidehills chatting to hikers as we met. Marie, from France, was welcoming with a smile and wave. Her blue hat was capped over her red hair and jacket zipped up to warm her. She deliberated on stopping at a windmill Trail Angel stop that was supposed to have coffee, I pressed on.

Up and over a pass I went meeting both Nocoat and Jaime as I did. The views were great! Thunderheads grew in the distance to the north and the wind just seemed to blow harder. I hurried along, chatting as we went until finally dropping off the last ridge into the valley that housed the Whitewater Preserve, my home for the night.

Thunderheads forming

Bridges at the preserve

The preserve was pretty cool, it was an old trout hatchery that was converted to a wildlife preserve. Mountain lions, bobcats, lynx, bighorn sheep, roadrunners, lizards, dirty thu hikers, all the animals of the desert were welcome here. It was a nice place to rest, and I set my tent up for another windy night.

Map of San Gorgonio, w the PCT

Nice pool out back

Hiker Profile:

Jaime – From Minnesota, got his undergraduate and graduate degree studying insects, focusing on bees and their interactions with pesticides. Moved to SoCal with his now wife who works for the forest service monitoring bee habits. After working for the department of agriculture, decided to take a break, move in w his partner and trek the PCT.

Jaime on left, Nocoat on right

Marie – 20s very nice but shy and polite red headed hiker from France. We chatted a bit but never got past the formalities before she pulled off for a break and bid her well.

Trail Angel Profile:

Deborah – Awesome, nice, goodhearted woman rockin some trifocals and a huge smile. Came and dropped off fresh coffee, including cream and sugar with a side of donuts for the crew under the bridge!


PCT Day 17: Mile 206-209.5 Cabazon


The wind was really kicking. Felt like my tent was in a mosh pit and the heavy part of the song just hit. Finally at day break, it calmed long enough for me to pack my tent and bag up and get back on the trail.

Dana was up and ready as she seemed like an early morning gal, I said goodbye, took a picture, and headed out onto the trail.

Whatever the wind held back in that morning, it made up for over the rest of the day. I pinned my hat down and covered it with my buff to make sure it didn’t take flight as I walked through the flat desert after Snow Creek towards the I-10.

I could hear the roar of the highway grow closer, and soon found myself on a service road, walking with my thumb out. The Post Office didn’t open until 8:30, but surely someone would pick me up. . . . not a soul on the road headed my way until finally Jose, from Mexico in his little blue Nissan picked me up.

I thanked him, and grabbed my resupply box (Thanks Mark!) from the Post Office. Then after some administrative work at the town library, I headed to In and Out for a burger and fries that I had been craving all day.

Stuffed to the gills, pack heavy with 6 days of food, I set back out on the road towards the junction where the I-10 met the PCT. It was still chilly from the wind gusting and the 60 degree weather. It wasn’t until the last 2 miles of my 7 mile walk from In and Out that Dave, a Marlboro smoking white bearded fella pulled over and gave me a lift.

I thanked him, we fist bumped, then I went under the overpass. To my surprise Matt (guy I hiked with day 1) showed up not long after I did! We caught up sharing stories from the last few days over dinner. It was 8.5 miles to the next camp and it was too late to start that push. Seeing as I had almost walked 17 getting around town, I decided to stay . . . under an overpass (can’t get much more homeless than this!). I pitched my tent, grabbed my headphones, and prayed for at least a little sleep.

Trail Angel:

Dave – 60s, Marlboro smoking, truck driving, kind fella that hooked me up with a ride to my home under the overpass.


PCT Day 16: Mile 190-206 The Cloud


If you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll ask for a glass of milk . . .

The wind had somehow found its way back to me again! In the middle of the night it started up, and didn’t give up. I threw my headphones in and played some music to fall back to sleep. It was unusually cold on top of the wind factor, so I was less than anxious to get moving. Once I got up and packed up, I looked through the trees to see a cloud blanketing the valley below.

I hurried down the trail to see if I could grab a shot in a clearing before the cloud dissipated. I was ecstatic to find the the cloud not only stayed, but covered the skyline around altitude of 5000 feet end to end along the horizon. You could see the cloud flow as it moved over the terrain below, how cool! I snapped picture after picture as I walked down the ridgeline.

I kept hiking on, taking admiring glances at the view every chance I got, until I came across Carlie. I said hello and we chatted as we hiked down about her experience thus far and what she thought of America as she was fresh from the UK. We both agreed that the PCT had incredible scenery and she told me a few places in the UK I should visit. I decided to pull off for a break and she headed on.

I just sat in awe as I snacked at the views I had. I packed up and headed on, and soon found Carlie trailside for her own break after a few miles. I kept diving down into the desert and as I descended, the landscape began to subtly, then dramatically, change. The wind was still all about blowing, but the cool temps just made the desert more enjoyable. I soon met Dana, a woman in her 60s, boldy trekking solo, and easily holding her own.

We chatted as we dropped further into the desert, she told me about where she was from, and some of the great experiences, lifestyle really, that brought her to attempting the thru hike. We soon came across Jason, giving his feet a rest and we decided to join him. Soon after, Carlie came and joined as well. From here on we leapfrogged each other, taking breaks, trekking on, all the while admiring the boulders that began to dominate the desert landscape.

Mile 200!!

Finally after a good long day we found a dirt road with a spigot installed for hikers to grab water. We set up tents, stretched, ate together, then chatted on about where we were all from and the day we were about to put to bed. The views were spectacular, the landscape incredible, just a really solid good day.

Hiker Profile:

Carlie – 35, from Salisbury England. Before starting the hike she worked for a travel agency selling vacations to Africa. Her boyfriend of 16 years (an outdoorsman) became her advocate to take a break from her office job, get outside and push her limits on a long distance trail. After some research for good treks, she settled on the PCT to test herself. One night over dinner she mentioned she had horrible shoulder pain while working at her job, but since she started hiking, all that pain went away. A little escape from a desk can really make a difference, she said!

Dana – 60s, Grew up in the Bay area, went to undergraduate at UC Santa Barbara, where she studied biology. In her senior year she was in a library and saw a picture of Half Dome in Yosemite California, which not only drove her to pursue a graduate degree in geology, but also made her into a climber. She climbed near Santa Barbara, but would also frequent Tahquites, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, and other climbing Mecas around the States. Once she graduated she taught at University of Wisconsin for 30 years and after retired with her husband to Boulder CO. She has 2 daughters in their 20s, one of which is following her footsteps with biology. Loves climbing but hasn’t done it for years. Likes to hike, really likes to section hike, and really really likes to look back after 3 days of backpacking in admiration of how far you’ve come.

Dana, Very cool lady!