Thursday, July 29, 2010

Legs of Steel! - Mt. Shasta

I am sitting in the one internet cafe of Mt. Shasta wearing new shoes, clean socks, and clothes that smell a little less than they did when I arrived in town yesterday morning. It's been a long haul since I last posted.  I've definitely found new limits.  This hike is hard and requires tremendous determination and fortitude.  Reaching the half way point was exciting.  I remember Damien and I yelling at the top of our lungs while dancing around the monument crossing the line drawn across the trail.  In some ways though it's saddening to reach half way after 3 months and 4 days of very hard hiking and look ahead.  It took that long to hike 1,327 miles.  I am now at mile 1,505ish with 1,150 miles to go and I can't wait to cross into Oregon next week.   Total the PCT is 2654 miles long.  I hope to be complete before October and avoid the snow in Washington.  Hopefully I'll finish that master's application and adjust to living near cars again.

Before Old Station(my last town stop) I had begun to get really tired and had considered taking a week off the trail and working at a guest ranch for food and lodging. I was surprised with myself for feeling guilt at leaving the trail for a week to allow my body to rest. At this point Damien and I had just bumped our daily average up to a solid 25 miles a day. (SR - this means there are days where I walk more than 25.... and those days I hurt.) I ended up not stopping but continued on the next day and arrived more than 2 hours behind Damien walking into Old Station almost to exhausted to eat and shower. Damien and I both took a zero day(no miles) and left late the day after. Our no miles day we went into Redding, Damien for shoes, and me for insoles. I had discovered my entire left foot had gone numb and I was experiencing pain similar to what had caused my long stop in Idyllwild(mile 200 or so). After much discussion with other hikers it was decided I don't get arch support. We looked at my insoles and we were all surprised to see holes worn into different places. This past 100 miles I decided to invest in new/better shoes and insoles made for heavy hiking.

In Old Station, I found myself in the company of many hikers: Jake the Rabbit, Balls, Sunshine, Yurtman, Bump, Blue Butterfly, One Step, Guardian Angel, Steady Eddy, Motor, Neon, Avo, Max Chill, and Mike(yea he caught up).  Mike, Damien, and I left late in the evening to get in a night hike through the hot Hat Creek Rim section of trail.  We camped after 10:00pm and began hiking again around 4:00am.  Later in the morning, Damien who has been a joy to hike with rolled his ankle again.  This time though he was unable to put any weight on it.  Mike took his pack and began walking down the trail after the decision was made to get Damien off the trail and to the closest road.  I kicked debris from the trail so he could hop the .5 miles a little easier.  Smiles a Swiss/French woman with 30 years of mountaineering and hiking experience arrived for the .25-.5 mile of off trail walking.  She got a log and had Damien sit on it while she and I carried him to the road.  Afterward Smiles and Mike left to continue hiking.  I stayed with Damien for a little while before leaving to walk down the road a couple of miles until I got cellphone service.  I called the Trail Angels in Old Station, they drove over, picked me up, and we went back to get Damien.  He's currently still in Old Station on crutches.  After a few days of rest the Old Station Trail Angels took him to the hospital to make sure he didn't tear any ligaments.  He got the okay, but he will be off his ankle until it's back to 100%. 
I continued on to the water cache 8-10 miles further and camped with Smiles, Redhead, Mike, Shroomer, Little Engine, and Plain Slice.  We camped along the Hat Creek Rim Ridge in tall dry yellow grass with an amazing view of the sunset beside Mt. Shasta and on the exact opposite side the almost full moon was rising.  It was beautiful and we joked we were cowboy camping in Africa. You would have liked it.

I am excited to say I will get a few days off from hiking.  A close friend has agreed to pick me up off the trail to celebrate our birthdays(his is one day before mine.)  I hope to get in 400 miles before August 15 so please wish me luck.

I'm running out of computer time, but I hope to update again in Etna, 100 miles from here.(4.5 days?)  I will be continuing on alone from Mt. Shasta.  Smiles, Shroomer, and Mike left at the crack of dawn today.  I needed to catch up on emails and phone calls.  I also would really like to keep distance between Mike and I.  But I hear Slimjim is catching up and I expect he is closing the distance between us as I type.  I think he's 30 miles or less behind me so I expect to see him in the next week or so.

Gear - I am definitely thinking of getting a new backpack as my current one has gotten a hole in the bottom that no amount of self repair has fixed.   - - fingers crossed it will last me another 400-500 miles?

Pictures - If you would like to see more pictures please check out my facebook albumns - my mum has recently posted the rest of the Sierras.

Email - having problems getting my gatech email.  Please be patient if I haven't responded yet!!!

I hope everyone is doing well and taking care. Miss everyone!
 - Golden Child

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mt Shasta

Emily's Mom here!  It's been a long haul but Emily is persevering!  She left Old Station (1382) last night.  She's on the trail to Mt. Shasta even as we speak.  It's going to be a 33 mile dry section - all open and hot - in a burned out area (no shade).  It's in the nineties mid-day...  Still hiking with Damien (the nicest hiker on the planet)!

I put all her photos on facebook - it's PCT group 4.  Encouraging text messages and facebooks posts would be helpful at this point.

New Photos for July

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Honker Pass

Again Damien and I had not planned to stop until our next resupply town but we did anyways! :) Walking down the trail there was this giant sign: Honker Pass - Showers, Laundry, Mattresses, Food.  We took down their number and address continuing our walk thinking about bacon.  We hiked 22-24 miles to the road and hitched down to Bucks Lake.  I would say this is my best stop so far.  We got in around 7pm to find the owners out for dinner but they had left the side building open with instructions on showers and laundry. There was even a cooler outside with cold beverages!(even three types of beer Barry!)  The couple Terry and Nancy have a giant porch really made Damien and I feel at home not out of place. The food was absolutely amazing and I enjoyed every bite. Being on the trail for so long it's strange to be inside, sitting at a kitchen table, eating with two pieces of silverware and have a napkin in your lap. 
Alright I need to get clean clothes on and start the 18-19 miles walk to Belden. I'm glad I've pushed it this week, doing 24 miles days have really brought me back to a good hiker rythym.  I can't wait to keep going!
I should have computer access later tonight or tomorrow; oh and I'm at mile 1274.4!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Echo it up baby!!

Yes! I am back on the trail and I can see it for more than 5 minutes of the day!(it's not fully covered in snow) I love it. I've gone over 9,000 feet for the last time on the PCT and sadly... it doesn't sadden me in the least. The ice axe was sent to it's rightful owner in Lawrenceville, the bear can was sent home along with more pictures from Bridgeport. My pack dropped about 5-6 pounds getting rid of just those two items. I've kept the Microspikes just to calm any last minute worries I have over the next two hundred miles that are still scattered with snow and ice.

To give you an update on fellow hikers... Mike and I stopped walking together as of Echo Lake or I-50.... or Safeway where his mother kindly dropped me off.
I spoke with SlimJim a few days ago and he should be getting back on the trail at Toulome Meadows. I warned him about the river crossings and the places I was lost for the longest. The trail/conditions change so dramatically and everyone's perception of "dangerous" is significantly different. What I think is passable many consider pulling the ice axe out or vice versa.  Mango is somewhere behind me and hopefully doing well.
Walking into Echo Lake Mike and I ran into two other thru hikers, Yurtman and Bump. I find them some of the most interesting and enjoyable fellow hikers I have run across in quite sometime. I stayed at an amazing camp, "Berkley Echo Camp" with Yurtman, Bump, and Damien. Everyone else there belonged to a large family and tons of kids. I set my tent up near Yurtman and Bump's and enjoyed listening to the food bell(all you can eat) and kids playing basketball or learning guitar. It was an amazing break and the fireworks from the top deck on the fourth reminded me of how different city life is from my own. From far above Damien and I looked over busy South Lake Tahoe, amidst three sets of fireworks and millions of people along beaches. If we were down there... we probably would go insane with the people, noise, and general over stimulus. It's interesting how that life, that city people life can be a vortex. Here I am, everyday surrounded by the most beautiful country I've ever seen and it is my life and there are people far below me who have been waiting for the fireworks all day, and have been camped out for hours with their perfect spot. What a comparison.

I've stopped at a trail angel with a lake home named Pooh's Corner. I'm sitting in a living room with a rock wall covering the fireplace.  I just returned from a late night(9pm here) canoe across Donner Lake with another hiker, Wyoming.  She was one of the female hikers who shaved her head at kickoff back at the end of April. She's nice with a very calm quietness to her that I find enjoyable.  It's so different than the male hikers. Pooh's Corner is absolutely amazing and the view of the lake is relaxing every minute I see it.   He/Pooh cooks amazing food! I had the salmon I've been dreaming of and he HAD 6 gallons of ice cream in the freezer when I got here!  Damien and I went through a gallon within the first hour of arriving. It's been a good stop and the unexpected timing will allow me to hike straight to Belden without stopping in the small city of Sierra City. I'll continue on to Burney, CA then to Mt. Shasta.

Have you ever sat in front of a live orchestra and goose bumps crawl up your arms at the magic of the music? The past few days from Echo Lake have been filled with that feeling. The wildness of walking on a open ridge line with miles of gorgeous views on both your left and right side while stepping between bushes of vibrant yellow sunflowers and purple flowers.... volcanic rock rising in the far distance. Nothing compares to reaching the highest point along the whole ridge and yelling out.  Wicked wild freedom.  It's a great feeling. Every step has been worth it just for that yell on top of that open ridge that continued for 10 miles.  Camping on the last saddle before Mt. Lincoln overlooking Donner Lake was the best night's sleep I've had in months.  The sunrise was bright red with the bare glints of a true purple.  It was too good for a camera.

I'm doing well and miss everyone.  I'm staying safe and causing only slight trouble everywhere... :)
 - Golden Child!