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Thursday, May 31, 2018

PCT - Day 42: 5/30/2018 - Preparing for the Sierra

Trail miles: 0
Miles walked: 2.8
Hiking the PCT in a Lotus
We had a second zero day in Kennedy Meadows to rest and this allowed me to go through the painful exercise of packing my pack with a bear canister in it. It took several attempts before I successfully fit it in my pack with all my other crap.


After breakfast, Chilly Bin, Ziploc, and I were waiting for a hourly shuttle to take us to Grumpy Bears so we could go try to convince the others in our group to hike out today amongst other things. I’m not a patient person, so when I saw a yellow Lotus pull up in front of the general store, I told the others I was going to score a ride with this guy. They laughed and sarcastically wished me luck, and someone from the porch said “Dream on Circus Act.” Two minutes later I was having the last laugh as Bob raced me over to Grumpy Bears in the passenger seat of his Lotus. For the record, Bob knows how to drive this car too. When we pulled up and other hikers saw me hop out, my hitchhiking legend status increased a bit more.
Hitching a ride in a Lotus
Eventually the others arrived in the back of a dirty pickup truck. We ate, relaxed, shot some pool, and sent packages. Later we would discover that I inadvertently sent home a half empty fuel canister in my Ursack that I had intended for a hiker box. Chilly Bin also inadvertently sent her toiletries to a friend in Seattle. We had a good laugh about this later when she realized her mistake. Guess it’s better to realize this mistake now before you are in the Sierra looking for toilet paper in your pack and finding none.


shooting pool with Tapeworm
Socks and Misfit arrived in Kennedy Meadows today too! It was great to see them both and it appears like they’ve been enjoying hiking together.

By mid afternoon, Ziploc, Chilly Bin, and I were longing for the more comfortable surroundings of the general store so we headed back. When we came back, we sat with Rocket, Stockings, Ramen King, Slippy, Misfit, Socks, and a few others. Rocket treated us to a beer, and Ramen King shared a box of Girl Scout cookies which makes him a up and coming legend in my book.

The kitchen here closes at 4 pm, and the general store shortly thereafter, so we mostly ate junk food for dinner and then retreated to our camping spot around 7 pm to sort out our resupply, eat some Ramen noodles and just hang out together.
Circus Actg
Ziploc was sporting her brand new backpack, and trying to discover a new method of packing it since every backpack seems to have it’s own method.

I believe my friendship with Ziploc and Chilly Bin grew a bit closer tonight. We all piled into Ziploc’s nightclub and just talked for an hour or so. Sometimes we were sharing humorous stories and other times just openly talking about deeper topics. We smiled & laughed a lot. We also discovered that each of us is incredibly ticklish on our feet. The PCT is one of the only things I know of that can bring together three people from three different backgrounds from three different corners of the planet.

The three of us ended our short slumber party early though since we all really needed to get some sleep. We hike out tomorrow morning heading into the Sierra. The snow is still very prevalent and temperatures are on the rise which could complicate creek crossings in the upcoming days.

Note: Cell service will be spotty or nonexistent in the Sierra, I’ll post daily posts as soon as I can.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

PCT - Day 41: 5/29/2018 - Resupply in Kennedy Meadows

Trail miles: 0
Miles walked: 3.2


morning campsite
Kennedy Meadows is basically in the middle of nowhere. Taking a zero day here is not about partying or eating at great restaurants. It’s about resting and getting one’s body, gear, and mind prepared for the Sierra.

I woke up around 4:30 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I walked from my tent to the front porch of the general store and sat down and enjoyed the really slow WiFi by myself. I wrote a blog post, downloaded updated snow/ford reports regarding the Sierra.


General Store
After a while I was getting cold and returned to my tent around 6:00 am and instantly fell asleep and woke up from a deep slumber at 8:00 am.

I stumbled half asleep up to the front porch and found my group surrounding a round table. I sat down, chugged a Mountain Dew that I had stashed in my tent the night before. Around 8:30 am we all ordered pancakes for $5 and I opted to add a couple eggs and sausage to my breakfast. I even drank some coffee. For anyone that knows me, drinking coffee is highly unusual. In fact, I would guess it’s been over ten years since my last cup of coffee.


Breakfast
I weighed myself while waiting for my breakfast and discovered my weight has dropped from 185 lbs at the start of the trail to 172 lbs. I’ll write a diet related book after my hike. The secret diet will be revealed on page 1 and it’ll simply read: “Eat a shitload of jelly beans and hike 20 miles every day.” For my loyal blog followers, this secret is yours for free.

After breakfast it was all about hiker chores; shower, laundry, shopping for missing items, and picking up our resupply packages. We opened our resupply packages around a table, taking turns like a family does on Christmas Day.

HoosierDaddy showed up in a car he borrowed from Yogi who runs a outfitter store a few miles away. He drove two carloads of us over to the store where I bought some food and a buff to hopefully keep my neck from getting sunburn. I also finally got myself some Chili Cheese Frito's that I’ve been craving for 140 miles. Ziploc replaced her broken pack with a new one and picked up new shoes she’d sent herself.

Our group then walked over to Grumpy Bears Retreat for a burger and some drinks. We sat in the shade of a lone tree out front and marveled at truckloads of hikers coming and going. We even got a demonstration of Gandalf’s puffy/rain skirt combo than makes him look like a bearded Swedish Hulk.
Gandalf's Puffy
While sitting under that tree and drinking a margarita, a truck pulled up and Chilly Bin hopped out. We were all really happy to see her. She’d hiked a few long days in a row to catch up with us, and we are glad she did.


Truck load of hiker tash
While sitting under that tree, we got some news from Peanut Butter that he needed to go into town to visit a doctor for what is hopefully a minor medical issue. Peanut Butter was understandably very emotional about having to get off trail with an unknown status of when and if he’d return. He then did something I have a great deal of respect for. He opened his heart and told us just how much we meant to him. It was a very touching moment for all of us. I sure hope he’ll be back. Personally, I really like him and hope to continue growing our friendship regardless of whether he returns to the trail or not.

Off and on during the day, there were mixed reports about snow conditions.  At the outfitter’s shop, to no surprise from me, the reports were serious and almost bordering on fear mongering in my opinion. I guess they are in the business of selling gear, so that makes sense. Again, this is just my opinion. I still think Yogi runs a fair and honest shop. The thing is, I believe it’s all relative. For someone that has never hiked through snow in the mountains, it is probably legitimately scary. For someone more experienced, like myself, it’s probably just second nature. I’ve done lots of winter and spring mountaineering in Colorado and my only real concern is that I will be missing some of the key pieces of gear I would normally carry. That being said, I’m confident I can embrace the suck and overcome whatever the Sierra throws at me and get by without it.


Gandalf, Chilly Bin, and Opera
At the end of the day, a few of us returned to the Kennedy Meadows general store and a few of us stayed at Grumpy Bears. I was in the group that returned to the general store.

I hung out with Chilly Bin and Ziploc eating cheese and crackers, a banana, and a pint of ice cream for dinner. We all cheered and applauded we saw NoMan arrive too. We caught up with him and watched a decent sunset as he proceeded to eat nearly all of a half gallon of vanilla ice cream.


Hitching 
That evening as a group of drunk people sang Billy Joel’s Piano Man around a campfire, I gave Ziploc a pack shakedown. We meticulously went through each item she carried and in the end I believe we eliminated about 2-3 lbs of stuff from her pack.

Tomorrow I have to ship some items home. Then I get to figure out how to add an additional day’s worth of food to my already full bear can. This is so I can do a side trip to summit Mt. Whitney for the second time on my way to my next resupply about 86 miles further north. The plan is to either leave tomorrow afternoon or early Thursday morning. I can’t wait. I already miss moving northward.
Sunset at Kennedy Meadows



Tuesday, May 29, 2018

PCT - Day 40: 5/28/2018 - Kennedy Meadows

Trail miles 26.0 : from 676.2 - 702.2
Miles hiked: 27.5


Kennedy Meadows 
Today is Memorial Day. On the PCT it’s just another day. Out here, I often do not even know what day of the week it is unless someone tells me. Last year on Memorial Day weekend, I spent a memorable weekend with my good friend Kate climbing couloirs in Chicago Basin deep in the San Juan mountains of Colorado. Other years, I might be at home planting a garden in the morning and cooking BBQ ribs in the afternoon. And some years, I was in Las Vegas getting ready to play World Series of Poker. This year I’m hiking the PCT. This year is much different.

I started today by shaking off a wet tent from a soaking rain the night before. When I started hiking, I was trying to decide if I wanted to hike the full 26 miles to Kennedy Meadows, or to have a more relaxing day and just do 18 or 20 miles and roll into Kennedy Meadows on Tuesday morning. I had just enough food to waffle on this decision for part of the morning.

I left my camp early, just before 5:30 am in hopes of catching up with my friends, but honestly I expected they were probably already in front of me again. I stopped at Chimney Creek and filtered three liters of water. When I was walking away from the creek, I was surprised to see Ziploc and Opera walking from the Chimney Creek Campground towards the creek to go get their own water.

Tapeworm caught up with me and we hiked together for a couple miles. We talked for an hour or so which helped bring my head out of the dark isolated area it had gone to the previous day. When Opera and Ziploc caught up, we talked about the previous day where they had walked past me. Apparently it was just an honest mistake. They were just very focused on the trail. I felt bad for letting my brain manufacture falsehoods in my head based on this. Each of us reassured each other that we are family. We decided to hike to Kennedy Meadows together today. I was elated to be hiking with these great friends again.

We climbed 2500 feet in elevation through an old burn area. When we reached the top we could see the snowy Sierra in the distance. This was very exciting! It was the first time seeing the finish line of the desert. We stopped and had pack explosions in order to dry our wet gear and eat an early lunch. I was so happy to be back in the company of my trail family. I sat in the sun sharing a bag of chicken teriyaki with Tapeworm and just smiled.


back explosion or drying party
When our break was over we started hiking down towards our next water source at the Kern River which was still 12 miles away. During this segment, I learned just how interesting of a guy Tapeworm is. He was born and raised in Afghanistan before moving to Australia and he’s gained so much wisdom and perspective through his experiences and education. He’s really wise beyond his years.

The whole hike down to the river was hot. Sweat poured off my head. None of us had showered in six days, since last Tuesday. All we could think of was swimming in this river. Although, we did have detailed discussions about food too. Questions like “What would you eat for brunch?” floated around, and the answers were thoughtful and in depth. When one person thought of something that another person had not, it was a let down. I remember thinking “how could I not think of a smoothie?” after hearing Tapeworm’s detailed breakdown of the fictional brunch he would eat.

After what felt like an eternity, but what was really about four hours, we arrived at the Kern river. This was the biggest body of water we had seen in 700 miles. Within minutes, we were all in the water submerging ourselves and splashing each other like kids in a pool. It was a fitting way to end a 700 mile desert section of the PCT.


In the Kern River

Walking the last 4.5 miles to Kennedy Meadows felt even hotter, but maybe that was due to having been in the cool water of the river for an hour. The torture was briefly interrupted when Opera sang, per request, an “over-the-top Super Bowl rendition of the national anthem”. It had me in fits of laughter and she carried each note excessively long just for the added Super Bowl dramatic effect.

We passed the 700 mile marker and continued slowly to mile 702.2 where we reached only the second paved road we’d seen in 136 miles since leaving Tehachapi. We walked the one bonus mile down this road to Kennedy Meadows four wide taking up most of the road. It was an emotional and moving moment for all of us. Hugs were shared, love for one another communicated openly with words, but also in one another’s eyes. I realized again that this trail family means the world to me. I believe, without each other that none of us would have made it this far.


Circus Act at mile 700
When we walked up to the Kennedy Meadows General Store, a crowd of thru hikers and locals on the porch cheered loudly and applauded us. I choked back tears again but the proud moment was brief, since I realized I was now in a place where I could buy things that I’d been dreaming of for 136 miles. I walked in to the store bought two Mountain Dews, one Gatorade, a six pack of beer, a banana, and an ice cream bar.  


Civilization Food!
After each of us ate a bit, we setup our tents behind the store. Joy and happiness was on everyone’s face. While setting up our tents, I told Ziploc and Opera that I loved them. They told me the same. We hugged each other and I caught a glimpse of tears in both of their eyes which made me feel better since my eyes were not dry either.


The 'Walk"
We ran into Gandalf and we all sat on the porch and ate dinner. We talked, laughed, and cheered on a few late arriving hikers.

We have only known each other for just over a month, but the bond between trail family is real and it is strong. We’ve shared misery together. We’ve experienced things together that cannot even be described accurately with words or pictures. We’ve also shared fun times and great laughs, sometimes those laughs are from just reading (and re-reading) comments about a large rusty pipe. We’ve also openly talked about how we feel for one another and poured our hearts out to each other. We’ve grown individually. We’ve also helped each other grow as individuals. Lastly, we have grown together, just as trees with roots in close proximity do.


Next Chapter
We’ve hiked 702 miles from Mexico to the Sierra Nevada. I encourage you to just think about that distance for a minute. A continuation of this adventure awaits us in the high Sierra. It’ll be a new chapter to the most memorable time of my life.

PCT - Day 39: 5/27/2018 - HYOH

Trail miles: 19.3 from 656.9 - 676.2
Miles hiked: 19.5


sunrise
A campsite with a sunset and sunrise view is a true gem. Last night, we were lucky enough to see an amazing sunset. And this morning, after having the best night of sleep I’ve had on the PCT, I woke up to a fabulous sunrise which I could watch from the comfort of my sleeping bag.


Morning view
As usual, our entire group passed me within 30 minutes of starting my day. It’s getting old always being the slow one in the group. Sure, we all hike the same miles, but it takes me a longer amount of time. This means I get less recovery time, less breaks, and less time for fun. If I’m being brutally honest, I am tired of trying to hike at someone else’s pace. The “Hike your own hike” (HOYH) mantra is fine if you are just looking at it from a point of view of isolation. However, the reality is people make friends with those that hike slower or faster than they do.

Today it was one innocent comment from one of my friends that triggered a series of negative thoughts in my head. I didn’t let on that anything was bothering me. I just did what I wanted for a change, and as a result I walked at my pace, was alone all day, and I’m currently camped alone.


Opera and Ziploc
I don’t understand why it’s always the case where the slow guy needs to hike faster or longer. I’m know everyone has their priorities and their agenda, but if friends enjoy hiking with each other, can’t it go both ways?

Around 8:30 am I walked past mile 663, which means now I’ve hiked 25% of the PCT. It also means I have less than 2000 miles to go. It’s a little crazy to think that I’ve been out here for 39 days and I still have 75% of the trail remaining. It’s a little disappointing that there are so many miles left to hike, but that also means I can enjoy this adventure for that much longer.


Quarter of trail marker


I walked past Ziploc, Opera, and Tapeworm when they were having a snack at 9:00 am and greeted them but kept walking. I was hiking my hike today. I raced up a over 4000 feet of elevation to a cool shady spot where I stopped for lunch. I had come about 16 miles from last night’s camping spot and it was only 12:45 pm. I hung up my wet clothes, sleeping bag, and tent to dry out in the sun. Everything had gotten wet overnight from condensation.


drying gear
After eating some lunch, Tapeworm walked by and mentioned that they decided to go another 8.5 miles to a campground in hopes of Memorial Day weekend trail magic. I had already decided that I was not going to do that, partially because I hate crowds on holiday weekends in campgrounds and I didn’t feel like hiking 24 miles today.

Shortly after Tapeworm left, Opera and Ziploc walked right by me without even saying hello. They were so focused on the trail they didn’t see me sitting 20 feet off trail in a campsite with my sleeping bag hanging from a tree. I even yelled “hi” but they just kept trucking.

I hiked in solitude for the rest of the day. I didn’t even see another hiker for about 4 miles. I stopped to inspect little pink flowers I’d seen on the trail for weeks but had always taken for granted. I marveled at little ant highways that crossed the trail, with thousands of ants just cruising along with no knowledge of what the PCT is, or how there was trail magic up ahead 6.5 more miles.


Ant highway

I also stopped often to just look back at the desert and say goodbye. I have come to both love and hate this desert, and after tomorrow, I will leave it behind as I hike my last full day to Kennedy Meadows and the unofficial start of the Sierra. Finally I’ll be amongst real mountains again!

The old fight was the heat, the sun, soft sand, lack of water, poison oak, poodle dog bush, and constantly trying to stay hydrated. The new fight will be post-holing in spring snow, the cold, altitude, fording raging creeks, thunderstorms, hail, and aggressive bears. It’s fitting that as I write this in my tent a thunderstorm is raging above me and this is the only rain I’ve seen since day one in Campo.

The challenges may be changing, but they are all fights I’ve won before. I am confident that I can adjust. There is however one last fight, which is the one in my head. That fight I am currently losing, and it’s a fight that I am almost certain I cannot win alone. I hope to catch up with my friends again.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

PCT - Day 38: 5/26/2018 - PCT Surprises

Trail miles: 22.7 from 634.2 - 656.9
Miles hiked: 23.0

Hiker Sunset
One of the greatest things about the PCT is the unknown things that come each day. Usually, the night before, we know about how many miles we’ll hike the next day. What we don’t know is what we will see, hear, experience, and share with others during those miles. Today was a great example of this.

Sunrise
The day started very cold. The wind had howled all night and was still roaring at sunrise. Ziploc and I glanced at each other from our sleeping bags, with just our eyes and noses exposed, and agreed we were getting a later than normal start. It was a good thing she offered me a spot in her tent last night. There was nowhere on the windy ridge for me to pitch a tent, and if I cowboy camped, I would have potentially been fighting with hypothermia.

Morning View
We all started hiking at 6:30 am or so.  I was wearing all my layers, a hat, and gloves. Within a mile my body warmed up and the winds subsided a little and the layer shedding began.

We had about 17 miles to go to Walker Pass, where there was a water cache. Our group covered this distance quickly, and I even felt that I was very sore and lethargic from the previous day’s 25 miles.

Hiker View
I managed to keep up with Tapeworm for a couple miles, mostly because it was downhill (and he slowed down a little). I really enjoyed sharing stories and talking motorcycles with him as we covered some more of the same, sandy desert terrain.

Uphill flowers
Tapeworm, Opera, and I arrived at Walker Pass around 12:30 pm and found Ziploc already sitting with a couple of other hikers (Gandalf, Grinch, and No-Man). HoosierDaddy had already hitched into town to get a resupply. There was also a trail angel named Chris who had brought Pepsi, Coke, pretzels, potato chips, bread, peanuts, jelly, peanut butter, gummy worms, a watermelon, and beer!


We all sat down and enjoyed way too many snacks and several beers. We moved back and forth from the sun to the shade and back to the sun.

Hiker Conversation
Gandalf is from Sweden and the banter between he and Ziploc (our friendly German) was truly hilarious. We laughed endlessly listening to Gandalf do his impersonation of a “serious German”. 

Hiker Magic
We discussed the idea of just camping at Walker Pass, but ultimately, around 4:30 pm, we decided to hike to knock off some of the elevation gain of the Owens Peak Wilderness.

Owens Peak
I flew up the mountain powered by Pepsi, watermelon, beer, chocolate, peanuts, and potato chips. I had probably consumed 2000 calories at the trail magic, and I had already eaten 3000 calories before I even got there.

We arrived at our anticipated campsite, which was five miles up and found it occupied and very windy. We pressed on almost another mile and found a doable spot. Tonight Ziploc and Opera are sharing the nightclub with my tent on one side, and Tapeworm on the other.

Evening
The sunset was breathtaking. We had views to the west and views to the desert floor to the east. Yet another one of the PCT’s surprises for us today.

PCT surprise
Late tonight we got a text from HoosierDaddy. He apparently injured his knee in town and decided to rest for a few days and then hitchhike to Kennedy Meadows where we’d see him again.

We’ve heard rumors of a big bubble of hikers at Kennedy Meadows waiting for snow to melt in the Sierra. We’ve also heard rumors of significant snow from Forester Pass and further. I personally don’t believe the rumors. As an avid Colorado mountaineer, I don’t want to let some snow scare me from pushing into the Sierra, but I also want to stay with this great trail family I am fortunate enough to be a part of.

Speaking of friends, nobody has heard from Socks in a couple days, but I assume she’s with Chilly Bin. I believe she is about 30 miles behind us based on the last text message I received from her. We are all hoping they catch up. I personally really miss Chilly Bin and her unique combination of humor and sincerity.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

PCT - Day 37: 5/25/2018 - Soft Sand, Wind, and a Nightclub

Trail miles: 25.2 from 609.0 - 634.2
Miles hiked: 25.7


Sunrise 37
I was up early and rolled out of camp at 5:25 am. I hiked alone on the beautiful trail for a few miles. I was briefly above the clouds until the trail descended to the desert floor. I was rocking out to a mix of Green Day and Ice Cube and sang along as I flew down the first seven miles to a water cache at mile 616.


Desert Lupin
Today a cold front had moved through and the result was lower temperatures for our shade less hike across the desert. My only company on the trail was Joshua trees, lizards, and endless soft sand.


View
At mile 12, I stopped and took a short break to let my feet breathe. I sat there pondering my life, my marriage, my career, all of it. I asked myself the question “Why do people need so much stuff to live happily?” I was on day 37 of essentially living out of my backpack and I was mostly content.


Simple life
When I started hiking again, I received a text message from my daughter where she told me she missed me. It brought a tear to my eye and made me more motivated. I really miss her.
Text from daughter
Sixteen miles into my day, I caught up with HoosierDaddy and Ziploc who were hunkered under a Joshua tree eating lunch. When I joined them, I learned that Shank and Pocket Knife had a personal issue come up back home and were getting off trail briefly.


Desert view 
On my two breaks today, I ate a ton of food. Hiker hunger has hit me fully. I spent the last mile into Bird Spring Pass thinking in detail about Chili Cheese Fritos, Mountain Dew, and ice cream.

It was VERY windy at Bird Spring Pass, but my ankle was screaming from hiking 22 miles in mostly soft sand all day. HoosierDaddy and I stopped while Ziploc, Opera, and Tapeworm continued on.


Ziploc
Cowboy camping was the only option since the wind was insane, even in our slightly protected spot behind a couple Joshua trees. I ate dinner of cous cous with Shitake mushrooms.
Cous Cous



After eating the wind was howling, so we made the tough decision to hike on until we found a good cowboy camping spot out of the wind.

HoosierDaddy
HoosierDaddy and I left the Bird Spring area at 6:20 pm and powered up the mountain. We were on a mission. The wind was gusting over 60 mph and throwing us around and knocking us off our feet. 



We covered three miles and gained 1500 feet in one hour and ten minutes. We finally arrived at the spot where Tapeworm, Opera, and Ziploc were camping just after a glorious sunset over the desert below.

Desert Sun  Setting 


Ziploc

Desert View
Tapeworm was cowboy camping because the wind kept knocking his tent down. HoosierDaddy found a good spot to cowboy camp, and Ziploc offered for me to join her in her nightclub (it’s a big tent with lights, so we call it the nightclub). I graciously accepted, hoping that we could keep each other from freezing to death tonight.

Sunset # 37

Friday, May 25, 2018

PCT - Day 36: 5/24/2018 - An Opera to filter water with

Trail miles: 21.7 from 587.3 - 609.0
Miles hiked: 22.6

I left camp a bit after 6:00 am and hiked alone while eating my 800 calorie breakfast. I watched the sun rise over a few windmills, and I could already feel the heat. 


Sunrise
The trail climbed relentlessly on this cloudless and windless morning. By 7:00 am I was sweating like a pig. To my surprise, Ziploc snuck up on me on the trail. I was very happy to see my German friend and gave her a big hug. We continued together until we were about 8 miles into our day where we stopped and took a 15 minute break. 


Ziploc
We talked a bunch and our 15 minute break became a 45 minute break since neither of us were really interested in continuing uphill in the heat. Yet, somehow we found ourselves hiking again. We pushed past 6000 feet in elevation and the terrain was much prettier than I anticipated. My hiking was slowed by me taking lots of photos and I found myself hiking solo again.


Solo Hiking

Name these flowers?

"You talking to me?"

What are these? 
Somewhere around mile 598 I rolled my right ankle spraining it mildly. I continued along in moderate pain to the 600 mile milestone where I found HoosierDaddy and Ziploc taking photos. It was a proud moment so I quickly took a photo, but I was more interested in getting to the Robin Bird Spring to eat my late lunch, get water, and take my shoes off.


Mile 600
When I arrived at the spring, maybe 8-10 other hikers were there and there was a hiker clothes line on a log where tents, jackets, and sleeping bags were drying off in the sun from the previous night’s condensation.

Hikers and Drying Rack
At the spring, I met Misfit from Maui, and an older couple named Rocket and Stockings from my home state of Colorado. It was good to talk to these guys. They are legit mountaineers and we shared some fun stories about fun couloirs to climb in Colorado, etc.



When leaving the spring, I stepped off the trail to let Tapeworm go by at his normal turbo speed. My step into the scrub landed less than a foot from a baby rattlesnake. 


Rattles or Gopher snake?
Thankfully, he just slithered away. Quickly I caught up with a guy named Peanut Butter with whom I’ve crossed paths with a few times. We hiked together and had a good meaningful conversation about our respective families, relationship challenges, and other miscellaneous real life topics. I really like Peanut Butter; the person, not the nasty stuff you ruin jelly sandwiches with.

During our last couple miles, after I stopped to take a close up of a gopher snake, we ran into a trail angel named Cinnabon who gave us the most awesome information that she had just refilled water caches at mile 616 and mile 631. The section from 609 to 650 is often one of the driest, and this information allows us all to not have to carry a crazy amount of water for those 40 miles. We thanked her with hugs and a group photo.


left to right: Peanut Butter, HooiserDaddy, Cinnabon, Circus Act, Ziploc

When we arrived at Landers Meadow Spring, I was considering pushing three more miles, but everyone else was staying, so I decided to stay too. Hearing Opera sing to herself while filtering water was extra motivation to stay put. I just love hearing her voice.



Ziploc and I camped in a close vicinity like we seem to do a lot. It’s comfortable to have a good friend within earshot so we can still talk when it’s approaching hiker midnight.  


Campsite Sunset
Around 6:30 pm, we all gathered as a large group around Misfit’s tent and had a thru hiker dinner. It was a lot of fun and there were many smiles and laughs.


Dinner time at Camp
Tomorrow a cold front with lots of wind is supposed to show up. I guess the lower temperatures are actually a good thing, that’s assuming I can find a sheltered spot to camp away from the wind.