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Monday, April 30, 2018

PCT - Day 11: 4/29/19 - Idyllwild - zero day

Trail miles: 0
Miles walked around town: 2.2
Seen in downtown Idyllwild
Idyllwild is a great little hiker town. Everyone here is welcoming of PCT hikers. Hiker trash roams the streets everywhere you look.  The town is friendly too.  I walked into a store to buy a postcard and the lady just gave it to me for free after hearing we were PCT hikers. In Idyllwild, it’s even  completely acceptable for one to walk around the street while rolling a spliff.  Try that in Massachusetts.

I took a full zero day today. People like to think town days are for rest or partying. While there’s a little of that happening, mostly town days are for chores.

I went shopping and bought new Smart Water bottles, because I couldn’t remember which one I was using for dirty water, and I really don’t want to give myself girardia.  I also bought a new hat since I accidentally left my old hat at the water cache at mile 145.5. I then rolled over to the pharmacy to restock my dwindling supply of blister treatment stuff.

Message for Johanna
Back at the Idyllwild Inn, I cleaned my stove, scrapped dried lasagna cheese off my spork, flushed my water filter, downloaded updated water reports, charged everything, wrapped more duct tape around my trekking poles, repacked my bounce box, and ditched all my trash.
Thru-hiker hunger

After having ice cream for lunch, Whiplash and I planned how the hell we would get past the aggressive bees at mile 202. Our plan is to night hike it, and we may get lucky since that day is forecasted for colder temperatures and up to four inches of snow.

Bee warning text

I also managed to squeeze in a two hour nap today, which was the best sleep I’ve had in 11 days.

Unfortunately, town days also offer me a lot of time to think and to be homesick. I miss my family and my dogs. I even miss the people I work with and only see via video calls most days. I wonder what it’ll be like to miss an entire summer of Colorado sunsets.

Happy dog

Thus far the trail has tested me and given me a lot so far. Yet, there is still something I am looking for. I just don’t know what it is. I hope I find it before my swollen right ankle gets worse.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

PCT - Day 10: 4/28/18 - Idyllwild

Trail miles: 9.8 from 159.8 - 168.6  (re-route on Spitler trail due to fire closure up to 178.0.) Miles hiked: 15.1
Morning View
The sunrise landed a few rays of sun on me as I was finishing packing up my isolated camp.

I made myself a smoothie (thanks Packit Gourmet) for breakfast. It was delicious!

One of many lizards
I hiked the entire day without crossing paths with any other NOBO hikers. I did see a day hiker and I was catching some rays on the saddle between Apache and Spitler peaks. Mostly, I saw lots of lizards. They would climb on a rock and pose for me. Sometimes they would run down the trail in the direction I was walking so it appeared like a lizard / hiker race.

The climb up to the Spitler Trail was arduous. My energy level was low mostly due to lack of rest days and poor sleep, but partially because of feeling isolated.
On the way to Idyllwild
At the saddle with the junction of the Spitler trail, I just laid down and listened to music for an hour. I thought about my brothers, my sister, my daughter, my wife, and my puppies.

Good place for thoughts
My feet are getting worse. I had an issue with my gaiters and the sand getting in my shoes has resulted in multiple blisters.

Dusty Trail
I also rolled my right ankle twice today on the 2000 ft descent on the Spitler Trail. Once I reached Apple Valley road, I walked about a mile while hitchhiking. I finally got a ride after walking nearly a mile. The guy who picked me up was clearly very wealthy and his very old mother was in the passenger seat. She was clearly unimpressed with me. Neither of them had ever heard of the PCT. They dropped me 5 miles short of Idyllwild since they were not going that direction. The elderly lady insisted that I take a couple books to read. Both of these books spew religious bull shit, so they are now sitting in the trash can under the bathroom sink in my hotel room.

My second ride was from a thru hiker who finished the PCT in 2008.

Idyllwild Inn
Now, I’d finally reached Idyllwild where I will stay the next two nights at the Idyllwild Inn. Tomorrow I will enjoy a much needed zero day.

Upon arriving, I showered and watched in amazement as dirt just kept streaming off my body for 15 minutes. I then dried off and the towel still had large dirt spots on it. It was my first real shower in 126 miles.

I trimmed my beard a bit, and brought my clothes to the front desk to be washed. When these clothes were returned to me clean and with no grinding sand or stench, I was giddy and overwhelmed with joy. This was the first time since Mexico that my clothes have been washed.

View from Adam's beard 1
My buddy Whiplash arrived at the Inn a few minutes after I got back from the grocery store with the essentials: six pack of Mountain Dew, six pack of Firestone Union Jack, and a 1 lb brick of sharp cheddar cheese that I plan to pack out when I get back on the trail on Monday.

Now, Whiplash and I are going to go get some food and beer. I can’t quite grasp that I’m in an temperature controlled room, watching the Celtics/Bucks game 7 on TV. I can’t wait to eat something from a restaurant for dinner. I can’t wait to sleep in a bed tonight.

I have to remember all the chores I need to do on my zero day tomorrow. Flush filter, get fuel, clean/repair gear, ship bounce box, charge battery pack, buy headlamp batteries, replace the hat I lost, laundry, download latest water reports, get weather forecasts, etc.

I will get back on trail Monday on the other side of the fire closure. I’ll only be 2485 miles from Canada at that point. There’s snow in the forecast for Tues/Wed.

1.  This is the editor's way to see if anybody is actually reading this.  Comment if you do.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

PCT - Day 9: 4/27/18 - Emotional Roller Coaster

Trail miles: 19.6 from 140.2 - 159.8
Miles hiked: 23.4

Trail Rabbit

Today was an emotional roller coaster. First, I woke up at 5:45am after SLEEPING ALL NIGHT!

Water Angel

Ranger and I hiked to mile 143 for and found the water cache stocked. We dropped $5 in the donation bag and took a couple liters each. Gratitude by itself does not even convey the immense feeling that I get when finding a water cache stocked in the desert.

It was sort of sad knowing you’re saying goodbye to a trail buddy. I knew that Ranger was getting off the trail at mile 151.9 and hitchhiking into Idyllwild. I was also getting off trail at mile 151.9 to walk 1 mile to the Paradise Valley Cafe for a burger and a beer, but I would later return to the PCT with intentions of hiking to the place where there’s a trail closure from a fire many years ago.

Mile 150

On the hike towards Paradise Valley Cafe, I realized I lost my sun hat. This sorta sucked, but I made do with two bandannas.

When I arrived at the café, I was surprised to see that Whiplash was already there. He had apparently hiked 25 miles the previous night in attempt to catch us, and he apparently camped less than 1/4 of a mile away from where Ranger and I camped last night.

Buttons and Burgers
At the café I also met a girl named Surgeon. She and I seemed to connect pretty quickly. She was even kind enough to sew a missing button back onto my shirt while I ate my burger. For the record Paradise Valley Café advertises the best burger on the PCT; it’s not. Carmen’s was way better.

Anyway after a lunch filled with many laughs and good stories from the trail, Surgeon, Sunshine, and I made our way towards the road and pretty much immediately got a hitch the 1 mile back to the trail. Whiplash was still packing his resupply and missed the hitch (sorry buddy).

trail beauty

Surgeon and I hiked together for a few miles and got to know each other a bit. Our conversation was great, and I opened up to her. I actually got emotional a little bit about a sensitive topic that I talk with very few people about. She consoled me with a smile and a hug.

Pine Tree
Pine Cone

This is what I love about the PCT. When you’re on the PCT, you get the opportunity to talk with people a lot and often bonds form so much quicker than in “real life” for reasons I still don’t understand.

Examples of this:

Surgeon and I met at lunch and I was nearly in tears hugging her about 5 hours later.
Ranger and I hiked together for a couple of days, and I would do anything in the world for him.

Whiplash and I have hiked and camped together off and on for few days, and I think of him like a brother already.

Evening Light

I have feet that hurt so bad that I named them “Hamburger” and “Hamburger Helper”. I was crying tears of pain when hiking this evening by myself down a steep side trail to a spring to get water. Yet... I can never quit this trail. It’s so much more than hurt feet. It’s healing my heart even though it’s also breaking it at the same time. The PCT shows you love from complete strangers is a good thing. Some of these people I’ll never even meet. The PCT is hope. The PCT is torture. The PCT is love. The PCT is whatever you see it as.

Some can look at a section of the PCT and just see blazing hot desert with sand and heat that literally chew your feet. Others can see that same section and see beautiful cacti, perfectly symmetrical yucca plants, and endless stars at night.

Setting sunlight

Right now, the PCT is my best friend.  I just walked up a ton of elevation at sunset with feet that are minced meat, but it was gorgeous.   I then proceeded to do a second toe surgery on my right foot’s big toe to remove the rest of an ingrown toenail that I clearly missed the first time.

So good night,  I’m going to hug my best friend (the PCT) and cry myself to sleep now. My feet just need to suffer one more day, and then I can rest them on my zero day.


Friday, April 27, 2018

PCT - Day 8: 4/26/18 - Body Report

Trail miles: 21.6 from 118.6 - 140.2
Miles hiked: 23.0

[Dad editorial comment: Adam's email arrived shortly after I posted the '   A Dad Wonders' post]

Good morning from the PCT

It’s day eight and time for a status check on how my body is holding up. The long story short is that while I’m writing this laying in my tent at camp, almost everything in my body hurts.

Here’s the report card:

Head (mental toughness): B
I have moments where I really hate the desert, usually when I’m drinking from sone really shitty water source, but mostly I’m embracing the suck.

My digestive problems: C- I think I might have some intestinal parasite or bacterial infection. Time will tell. Imodium did the trick today.

My recently broken elbow: A- I’m only dealing with minor stiffness and pain at nighttime

Knees: B- My knees are doing better than I thought they would be at this point, but that’s likely due to my high intake of Vitamin I.

Ankles: C My right ankle continues to be a pain in the ass, ever since the brutal injury in 2013, but most of my problems now are Achilles tendinitis in both ankles.

A hiker's foot

Feet: C- My feet are very sore and I am really looking forward to a zero day (or two) in Idyllwild. I still have to finish a removal of an ingrown toenail that had me hobbling for the first mile today. Two blisters remain at this point. One on a toe on my left foot and one on my heel of my right foot. Again, zero days are needed for proper recovery.

My right thigh: D This is my biggest concern at this point. I have significant numbness and tingling in my right thigh. It’s numb from knee to hip during the day, and when I stop and lay in my tent, I tingles endlessly like my leg is hosting a pin and needle party.

Dehydration & Snicks

The theme for this day was hydration or the lack there of. I started my day out like I have the last four, with a mad dash from the tent at 3:45am thanks to my intestinal parasites waking up early.

I borrowed some medicine from Ranger and took off up hill at 5:40am. Up and up and up we went. There was a significant amount of elevation gain this morning, followed by an afternoon descent into the desert heat and blazing sun

Shade is good

Along the way up this morning, I picked up Vagabond’s sleeping pad which I found lying in the trail. I carried it and gave it back to him where I thought I’d find him... at the water source. In the morning Ranger and I had 8.5 miles or so to mile 127 which was the last reliable water source for 24 miles. I glanced at the water report though and saw a water source named Tule Spring at mile 137, so I only filtered 4 liters at mile 127.

Ranger made a good observation today. Basically the first 150 miles is really just a exercise in hiking from one water source to the next. I will never look at a glass of clean tap water the same again.

Ranger and I had a blast today with humorous and engaging conversation. I even made a short video during a break about our ailing feet. We discussed how there should be a word for sticks that look like snakes. I hereby dub them “snicks”; not to be confused with Snickers, which is the melted candy bar in your food bag

"Snick" (stick that looks like a snake)

When we arrived at Tule Spring we found a murky muddier stagnant mess. It smelled like sulfur and the water had visible brown and orange “floaties”in it.

Collecting water - uck!
I took a closer look at recent reports from this water source (if you could even call it that). I read about dead lizards and snakes found in the water. I also read about someone getting Norovirus from filtering this water but not chemically treating it.

Anyways, the hike to this “spring” was off trail a bit and the climb back was brutal. I was rationing the water I did have to avoid drinking this ugly water.

I was exhausted by the time we got back to the PCT. We made a valiant effort to make it to a known water cache managed by a trail angel at mile 145.5, but daylight was fading and our feet had enough for the day. Near the end of the day Ranger and I were discussing in detail Mountain Dew. Little tiny bubbles, a color that is somewhere between piss yellow and nuclear waste. We wished for trail magic of Mountain Dew and Gatorade. None was to come.
Look! Civilization and clean water

Tomorrow I’ll get to that cache early and drink all the things. I am still very much dehydrated and rationing the last liter of filtered chemical tasting sulfur smelling dead creature norovirus water that I have.

Mmmm... you could bottle this stuff and trademark “PCT Water”. The slogan for the commercials would be “PCT Water! Taste the floaties!”

Camp site or just resting in the shade?

Day 8 - A dad wonders

Day 8 and there is no email  from Adam, yet.

Maybe he does not have an cell single to send it to me.  There was a spot received last night saying he was OK. I estimated he did 22 miles yesterday.  But... I wonder....

Remember the picture he took on day 7 in the field where there were cows blocking the tail?

trail cows waiting to be burgers

Remember that yesterday Adam reported: "...and ate a burger at the restaurant with the slowest service on the planet. It was a damn good burger; not as good as Carmen’s though."  

Well do you think it is possible that those two cows on the trail realized that Adam ate a bugger - in two locations?

Cow coversation

Do you think maybe they  followed him to his camp site and after he fell to sleep they ..... 

My imagination runs away with me.  

Cows can't operate a spot can they?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

PCT - Day 7: 4/25/18 - "Circus Act"

Trail miles: 17.5 from 101.1 - 118.6
Miles hiked: 20.5

Eagle Rock

I raced into Warner Springs for resupply this morning with a quick stop for a scramble up Eagle Rock.

Flip Flop (hiker feet)

In town, I ran into a guy named Flip Flop. He was apparently having problems with his shoes, so he hiked the last 65 miles in Walmart flip-flops. PCT hikers like this never quit.

65 miles this flip flop

Nearo1 days are full of chores. I tried to balance the chores with periods of fun.

As a side note, the people of Warner Springs are great. After giving myself a bucket shower and hand washing my clothes, and doing toe surgery to remove and ingrown toenail, I then volunteered an hour of my time and helped take trash out, post updated water reports in the hiker hut, etc. Whiplash and I then rolled into town thanks to a ride from a trail angel named Ghost and picked up my resupply package. I also sent home a few pieces of gear that I’m not using and ate a burger at the restaurant with the slowest service on the planet. It was a damn good burger; not as good as Carmen’s though.

hiker cows waiting to be burgers

Whiplash and I walked the 1.something miles back from town. We are both struggling with minor intestinal ailments. I really hope one of these shitty water sources didn’t contaminate me in some way. I have been filtering everything and treating the extra nasty sources with Aqua Mira. Mine stomach problems seems to ?maybe? be getting better. We’ll see tomorrow I guess.

I also received a trail name today. My name is now Circus Act. When I was walking into town, I was juggling my trekking poles because I have slowly morphed into a trekking pole trick artist. This is a trail boredom addiction I have embraced thanks to my buddy Power Thighs from the CT. Anyways, a town local saw me and she said “Is your name Juggler?” I just smiled and laughed. Later that afternoon, apparently the story of my mountain lion encounter has been spreading in the thru hiker community, so when I was packing up my backpack, a girl walked by and said “Hi Cougar Tamer”. I smiled and explained the name “Cougar Tamer” could be taken a couple different ways so I politely rejected that name too. Then when I was walking out of town and ran into the same local. I told her that I am apparently a “Juggler” and a “Lion Tamer”, and then I also mentioned my wife suggested the name “Clown shoes” since I’m wearing two different color shoes. She then said, “That all just sounds like a Circus Act”. So I guess I’m Circus Act now.

I rolled out of town about 3pm and was quickly joined by Ranger. We covered just over nine more miles and we plopped our tents down just after sunset. This was in addition to the 8.5 we did in the morning.

Ranger is a quality guy with values, integrity, and class. And the guy is a hiking machine! He said this 17.5 mile day is the shortest day he’s done thus far. He’s 62 years old and his fitness level puts me to shame.

I’ve made a Saturday hotel reservation in Idyllwild. I have to cover 64 miles before then.

Side note: I weighed myself in Warner Springs. I haven’t lost a single pound yet. Guess I need to push more miles.

1.Nearo  or Nero (noun): Nearly a Zero. A day when you only hike very few miles. Neros often occur when a thru-hiker arrives in a trail town and needs to take care of resupply, laundry, and other town activities before heading back on the trail.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

PCT - Day 6 4/24/18 - Past 100 miles!

Trail miles: 18.7 from 82.4 - 101.1
Miles hiked: 19.5

I finally slept a bit!  Well for about four hours, but that is way better than usual.  This was thanks to putting music on my headphones before sleeping. I woke up at 4:30am with Busta Rhymes playing in my ears.

Trail in morning light

Packing up my cowboy camp is so fast. I just throw everything in my backpack and get moving.

PCT water is gold

I cranked out nine miles to a water cache before 9:30am. I filled up with 4 liters and listened to a touching story from a veteran named Hollywood who’s out here hiking the PCT after over ten tours of duty in Iraq.

sharing water with bees and a turkey

At the water cache others mentioned seeing a rattlesnake on the short trail from the PCT to the cache. I mentioned that I hadn’t seen a rattlesnake yet.  As fate would have it, thirty minutes later I was hiking and scanning the ground when suddenly I hear a loud rattle and hissing. I instinctively retreated backwards and nearly fell down into a ravine. I spotted the rattlesnake sitting on a branch of a shrub about eye level. The Iraq veteran and his buddies showed up and after he led the careful step & jump along the edge of the trail near the ravine edge, I then followed, as did everyone else. Three minutes later, our group stopped again due to another rattlesnake in the trail.

The sun got really hot at 11:30am, so I dove under a small bush and caught a tiny bit of shade and tried to wait out at least an hour or two of the most brutal sun while listening to music and eating junk food and occasionally looking over my shoulder for rattlesnakes.

Afternoon trail
I felt strong for a good portion of the day. I did almost 19 miles today and I feel like I could’ve done more. Both of my small toe blisters have turned to calluses too.

I am currently very gross.  I haven’t showered in several days, and other than washing my socks, boxers, and shirt in a plastic tub without soap, I haven’t done laundry yet. I am looking forward to my first zero day, but I still have a few days before I arrive in Idyllwild.

Mile 100 
Today I passed the 100 mile mark and I’m encouraged about how my body seems to be adjusting to trail life again. This first hundred miles was much nicer to my feet than the first hundred on the CT. I think I have my Brooks Cascadia shoes to thank for that.

Tonight at camp, after filtering and using chemical treatment on our water, I just hung out with Katie, Brent, and Ranger and shared lots of good conversation including telling Ranger our terrifying experience with two rattlesnakes today.

Ranger and I bonded immediately.  He’s in his sixties or so and is also a veteran.  He is hilarious and a total hiking machine.  I love trail family.  These people are so special to me.

dusty trail flowers

Tomorrow I’ll head into Warner Springs and pick up a resupply and hopefully find a way to wash my clothes and take a shower. Tonight I sleep with the sounds of frogs that are probably feeding on the flies at the spring.  The flies took over as the sun went down and the bees retreated to the hive and the wild turkey retreated to who knows where.

The map showing Adam's progress is now on its own page. Click on "PCT - Track Adam" or on the tab under the Header picture.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

PCT - Day 5: 4/23/18 - Mountain Lion!

PCT - Day 5: 4/23/18
Trail miles: 14.0 from 68.4 - 82.4
Miles hiked: 15.5

I haven’t slept good at all thus far thanks to an uncomfortable sleeping pad. I’m trying to remedy that with having Siona send me a heavier but more comfortable one. It’s still 100 miles away. To add to my discomfort my intestines decided that 3:30 am was a good time to explode. So after my mad dash from sleeping bag to a cat-hole, I just packed up and hit the trail at 4:00 am in attempt to beat the heat. I had 8.7 miles remaining to Scissors Crossing where there is a water cache under a highway overpass.

Daylight view of the trail similar to where Mountain Lion was encountered

I was hiking alone by headlamp when I saw eyes glowing in front of me about 30 - 40 feet up a hill to my right.  I hoped it was a desert deer or maybe a coyote, but it FOLLOWED me! I’d round a corner, it would round a corner 30 feet above me. It moved silently. I was a bit scared it was a mountain lion and then my fears were confirmed when my headlamp was close enough to see it clearly. Adrenaline filled my body immediately and I was readying myself for a fight. I did not run, and tried to maintain eye contact while still walking away and avoiding cacti on the trail. This cat and mouse (I was the mouse) game went on for fifteen minutes. I was talking shit at the lion in attempt to scare it away, and apparently mountain lions don’t like Massholes because he eventually stopped following me.


Once I reached Scissors Crossing ,a large group of us hitchhiked into the town of Julian where we spent most of the day at Carmen’s place. Carmen opens her place to PCT hikers out of the kindness of her heart. She gives everyone a free beer, an opportunity to do laundry, a tub of cold water to soak feet in, a place to just chill out and rest. She and the others that take care of us hikers are the most amazing kind of people. Not to mention the great folks that carted a ton of us thru hikers and packs to and from the trail.

I washed my socks, boxers, and shirt in a wash tub. I then hung out with some awesome people, shared a ton of laughs, and ate the best cheeseburger I’ve ever had. Somewhere along the way, I gave my German friend a trail name of Paint Peeler. My German friends decided to stay in town, and I headed back to the trail with a new friend I met yesterday named Whiplash.

Underpass shade

Tonight was the most enjoyable and fun day I’ve had yet, but it was not without suffering. It’s just too hot to hike from 10:30 till about 3:30, so when Whiplash and I made it back to the trail at 2:30, we just kicked it under the overpass which was the only shade for several miles for an hour or so.

cowboy camping

Whiplash and I are currently cowboy camping on an exposed desert ridge.  Water is nowhere in sight, except for the 6 liters I carried up here.

Whiplash is a great guy who I hope to maintain contact with. We were also joined by Sierra and her friend Wine Troll. Sierra has been on trail for 4 weeks already. She has blisters so bad on her feet that they look like their pregnant with other blisters.

Wine Troll got his trail name today when he started drinking a random bottle of wine he found under the bridge. I love these people. I love this trail, even though it is trying to kill me.

Back at it again in 7 hours... over and out.

The map showing Adam's progress is now on its own page. Click on "PCT - Track Adam" under the Header picture.