Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – Thursday, June 27th

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

Sightseeing with a strict regimen

 

Our next section started with a tough hitch out of South Lake, a quick stop for a milkshake and then we were into the beautiful Desolation wilderness. We were a little apprehensive before entering Desolation wilderness because we had been warned that there is a slight mosquito problem. As we left Echo Lake we started seeing why – Desolation wilderness is just a patchwork of lakes and islands like a Scandinavian archipelago, and for one of the few times I was happy that the wind was blowing, it was keeping away those damn bugs. This section of the trail followed the Tahoe Rim Trail and often gave us beautiful views of the lake as it climbed up the back of ski resorts like Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley.  After making a 33 mile day we we were able to sleep at a nice camp site under a ski lift at Squaw Valley. The next day we decided we would make it to Donner Pass for lunch and the closer we got to the pass we realized today was the first Saturday of summer and everyone had the same idea, go for a hike. Through all the short conversations with day hikers one couple offered a place to stay, but we were still thinking of doing more miles on the day.  After making it to the pass we started talking and changed our mind. Yeah, we could use a shower and bed. After this change of heart we decided to looked for a meal and then waited at the trail to see if we could catch the couple from before. They looked quite shocked to see the same hikers at the bottom that they saw up top and even more shocked that we remembered their offer. This couple had never hosted a hiker and made it a memorable experience. Lori and Ross cooked us lamb dinner, with homemade bread for breakfast, along with some very interesting stories.

The next day of the trail started with some rain and wind and it was time to test our rain gear. Turns out Dash’s poncho didn’t hold up in the wind and my tarp set up can’t keep two people dry. The next day was a wet cold morning and a wet 17 mile push into Sierra City where we were treated to rib dinner, beer and a dryer. We have learned that we can do some larger mile days but that we will be opportunistic and take a good break when we can. Life is great and we are getting closer and closer to Oregon!

 

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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – Saturday, June 22nd.

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

Twenty is not plenty –

(thumbnail photos available on Rick & Dash’s blog!)

Leaving Tuolumne Meadows, Rick and I were fresh and charged out into the wilderness stronger than ever. In the last 6 days we have raised our average to 25 miles a day and have done as many as 34 miles in one day. Not hiking for four days made us realize how accustomed we have become to walking all day. We’re like cattle dogs that can’t function unless they run around all day. We require a large yard…. The entire west coast wilderness to be exact.

For a couple of days we could only enjoy the scenery if we kept moving. Stopping allowed the 1000′s of mosquitoes to zero in, target, us, and bite! As we ascended and descended we looked like Mars and Jupiter orbiting with an astroid belt of mosquitoes between us. Honestly, it was terrible, but as we’ve seen so far if you keep walking, it gets better. We climbed our last big pass, just shy of 11,000 ft., and walked a ridge line at that elevation for an afternoon. When we came back down, the pesky satellites were gone.
Two days ago, we came upon two hiking poles abandoned by an ice chute. It seemed like a gift from some trail deity because Rick had just lost a pole during a creek crossing. There was a name and number on the poles that we recognized as someone we knew. When we got to town, South Lake Tahoe, Rick called the owner and discovered he had fallen down the chute, suffered some broken ribs and a collapsed lung – had been helicoptered out to a Reno hospital. He is okay and Rick managed to send him his poles, but the whole experience was a big wakeup call that reminded us to remain cautious, even if crossing multiple slippery ice chutes a day is quite routine.

On a lighter note, we passed a mountain called the nipple!

We got into town, rented a dodgy motel room, and spent two hours at a buffet. Back to the trail!

– Dash

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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – June 13, 2013

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

Highs and Highs –

 

After a great time in Independence we were off and ready to take on the second leg of the high Sierra. This section offered us some good elevation and more snow than we were used to. The talk of the sierras had been Forester pass which was the highest at 13200 ft and had a few dangerous sounding snow crossings, but if you recall the last blog post we made it over that and even had time to flash some cheek on the “dangerous” snow crossing. Now that we were past that everything had to be smooth sailing right? It turns out that north of Forester pass there are seven passes 11,000 ft and taller and we learned this right out of the gate. After a great breakfast and a ride to the trail head from the owner of the hotel in Independence, Strider, and a PB and J sandwich for lunch we were headed over Kersarge pass back to the PCT. Back on the PCT, in late afternoon, we decided we would head over one pass before calling it a day, this turned out to be a good lesson in snow travel. As we were headed above 11,000 ft we were greeted with a large amount of snow and an even larger amount of water coming from the snow that had been warmed by the sun all day. After making it to the top with quite wet shoes we had to negotiate the snow covered north slope to make it somewhere dry to set up camp. On the descent we started to get used to things that would be every day for the next week. The first one was post-holing, which is when your foot and more often than not your whole leg goes through the first layer of snow, down through the softer lower layers. Although not the worst thing in the world this can be very tiring and leave your feet quite wet. In a bad case your feet and legs will find rocks down in the snow. The second part that made the passes more difficult was finding the trail after snow crossings. Most smart people get over the passes in the early morning when the snow is hard and easier to negotiate. They leave hardly any trail, so it can be tricky to know which tracks to follow. Though these passes presented some difficulties they also had the best rest spots of the whole day. A sense of accomplishment, the knowledge that most of the rest of the day was down hill, a lack of mosquitoes, and high elevation is how your cook up a seriously nice break. During this section of the trail we realized we had packed one less day of food than needed if we wanted to take a relaxed 15 mile a day section. We changed it to around 20 miles a day and took a day off at Reds’ Meadow. As we got most of the passes pretty early they didn’t pose too much of a problem. Though some of them, Muir especially, presented some tricky snow crossings over streams (It rewarded us with a beautiful hut on the top, knowledge that some friends were only a half day ahead and a growing appreciation for the brave goofy little critters called marmots). The low areas for me had challenges and less reward than the passes – mosquitoes have started showing their ability to break down a good mood and with 5+ creek crossings a day we are often moving with wet feet, though 9 out of 10 creek crossings are fun rock hops. With beer and candy on our minds we made it to Red’s Meadow pretty early in the day and saw two things we have become accustomed to, a hiker box full of good free food (the specialty this time were tuna steaks and chocolates), and a sign from a trail angel.  After realizing we had plenty of time to make it to where I was meeting my parents on the 10th we should take this guy up on his offer, and I’m sure happy we did. It turned out to be pretty much like if one of my friends just picked us up off the trail, Dewy was just one of us and was pretty new to the trail angel thing so he just opened his house up to us and treated us like old friends. We had lots of pizza, watched plenty of TV, and he and I talked plenty about what the skiing was like in the area during the winter (turns out they have great backcountry and now I have a guide and a couch, life is good). Back on the trail we found our friends Longlegs and TR and decided that we would get into Lee Vining a day early for what else but more beer and more pizza. After making it out of the Sierras I was greeted with the comforts of a warm bed, a warm shower and better yet my parents, who took time out of their busy schedule to hang out with me. To add icing onto the cake they surprised me by bringing my Swedish family along (Dennis and Erika Lind) who I had not seen in two years. It was great to be in everyones’ company and it’s another day that you think couldn’t get any better.  As always life keeps giving me everything I ask for and much much more.

we will add a gear review and a tips section for people who want to do what we are doing, how ever large or small (it’s not so hard)

Gear:

La Sportiva is a company who makes a pair of trail runners called Wildcats – I didn’t know it before the trail, but this Italian mountain company makes the ones to have on the trail. They are light but have a very sturdy base, The top is breathable and relatively strong. Both Dash and I had tears show up in the little toe region around 400-500 miles that grew but stopped before they compromised the shoe. The tread stayed together very well and we made it a comfortable 942 PCT miles on these. highly recommended.

Hiking tip: hiking poles though they might make you look a little silly will save your knees on the down hills and make river/stream crossing much easier. They also work great as pseudo tent poles if you have a light weight tarp.

 

-Rick

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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – June 1, 2013

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

This is it.

 

My Grandpa used to say, “If you walk far enough, you’re bound to go somewhere.” As of now, Rick and I have reached the pinnacle of our trip: The Sierras.

After leaving Kennedy meadows, I attended an outdoor church service for fun. The service included six people and four dogs… With some catchy hymns stuck in my head, we cleared out of our trailer at Tom’s and hiked into the Sierras. Right off the bat the views trumped anything we had seen as we settled down for the night at the edge of the Kern River. I awoke early and peered out of my sleeping bag. I was shocked to see the landscape was covered with frost, Rick and I included. We looked like frozen popsicles and I was in no hurry to abandon the warmth of my sleeping bag to see if the rest of our things were alright and if Rick was alive.  We entered Sequoia National Park and immediately the trees seemed to grow taller and grander. The trees were nice, but our attention was on the looming peaks in the background that we were about to climb. It is hard to keep a good pace in the Sierra because there is so much to look at. It seemed as if the animals took it as their queue to come hurtling out of the woods any time we stopped. Deer, marmots, western tanagers, you name it, we saw it (except for bears).

Rick and I wanted to summit Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48, at sunrise, so we climbed up the mountainside to Guitar Lake at 11,000 ft. in Whitney’s shadow. Crossing a creek we tripped over dozens of large trout that had reached the end of their journey up stream. Rick and I looked at each other and with a nod, grabbed a few and cooked our best dinner yet. In the morning we summited Whitney, with the moon and stars lighting our way to begin with, and later passing their job as guide off to the sun, right as we reached the top. A perfect morning with amazing views, clear and copious, Rick and I stood at the top of the world, 14,598 ft., and stared back at the 800 miles we had just hiked. Completely alone, having not seen a person in days, we sat in silence admiring our planet’s beauty.

Yesterday, we climbed 2000 ft. up and over Forester pass, 13,200 ft., the highest point on the PCT. We exited Sequoia National Park and entered Kings Canyon National Park. We clambered down 4000 ft. through snow, then climbed back up 2000 ft. over Kearsarge Pass, and then down 3000 ft. to a trail head that would take us to the town of Independence where we would resupply. We stayed at the Mt. Williamson Motel last night and the only other guests were a group of seven siblings celebrating their sister’s 60th birthday. They invited us to join them, cooked us dinner, declared us family, and spent the night telling stores of their childhood which they had spent entirely in the Sierras.  It was a wonderful way to reflect on what we had just come from and would soon return to.

– Dash

 

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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – May 25, 2013

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

On to the next one!

We arrived safe and sound in Kennedy Meadows, and were greeted by a friendly guy named Tom. He owns some property in town and has set up a haven for hikers. There were 10+ campers and trailers available for hikers to stay in and one with computers and internet, allowing me to make this post. In the morning there were pancakes and coffee and on some evenings there are tacos served. Just down the street is a store which accepts packages for hikers and has a place to shower and wash your clothes. Most importantly, it has a porch and beer for sale!

The last section from Tehachapi started off as good as a section can – The Great Gatsby at the local theater. Dash clearly looks like a hiker, and he was offered a place to stay as a result. He accepted the offer from this nice lady Joy, who suddenly had four smelly hikers on her hands. With our friends Longlegs and Max we went out to Joy’s house and we were treated to showers, warm beds, pork chops (earned by Joy’s son, who caught the pig by hand at a local rodeo), horse rides and a ride to the trailhead. They took us in the RV as the family was headed to the next town over for a softball game.

The section from Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows was about 140 miles. It was a slow and windy transition from the desert into the high Sierra forests. Every time we thought we were done with the desert for good we would drop in elevation and lose all our good shade. The views are getting better every day as we see the menacing high Sierra grow in the distance, with nothing but granite and snow. Out here life has been getting better every day, as the miles come easier and we get more and more used to this life.

Kennedy Meadows is our staging ground for Mt. Whitney and Forester Pass (the highest point on the PCT at over 13,000 ft). We’re checking all our gear, ditching everything we don’t need and loading up on seven days of food.  The next section should be one of the most challenging and most rewarding sections so far, but I couldn’t be happier to leave the desert behind for something more familiar!

-Rick

 

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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – May 18, 2013

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

500 Miles!

Since our last post, we have been very social. After leaving our now good friend Bob Blair’s Japanese tea house on a mountain, we met back up with our hiker friends at a trail angel’s compound in Agua Dulce. We spent the day playing basketball at the local school, improvising an ice bath with a canoe, and gathering provisions for the next section. That night we had a barbeque with the trail gang and got to bed early for an early morning departure. Our next stop was the infamous “La Casa De Luna” known for being a hiker vortex. One hiker a few years back ended up staying for five months. Why?  La Casa De Luna is owned by trail angels Papa Joe and Mamma Terry, two fun loving individuals that more than anything want you to have a good time. Their backyard is a maze of Manzanita trees with plenty of places for hikers to set up camp. We had planned to spend a night and a day here, two dinners and a breakfast, because every night they make taco salad and every morning they make pancakes. But after a fun evening, & a day of disc golf and lounging, we were sucked into the vortex and forced to stay a second night! After our early morning escape, we continued our hike, anxious to finish up the last section of desert. As we were descending into the 30 mile stretch of the Mojave, ash began to fall around us. We looked up and saw a large fire blazing in the distance. We were downwind which meant we were in a potentially dangerous spot. After phoning the fire department, we determined we were in the clear and finished our day of hiking.  Fire danger aside, we had reached 500 trail miles! 500 miles in one month… not to0 shabby. As of now we are at mile 566 which means we are more than 1/5 of the way done and more importantly, we are done with the desert! In the last 24 hours we climbed out of the Mojave which was beautiful because the Joshua trees were blooming. I guess this year’s bloom has been a once in a lifetime event because nearly all of the Joshua trees bloomed, a phenomena never before seen! As we left the flowered desert we entered the windiest place on earth… at least it seemed that way. The wind coming off the Pacific funnels in between the Sierra and Tehachapi mountain ranges where it picks up pressure. It’s like putting your thumb on the end of a garden hose. Extremely powerful winds. We just walked through it and it felt like being behind a jet engine for a day. That’s all. Onward!

 

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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – May 12, 2013

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

 

Our story picks back up on our way back to the trail after getting our supplies and a burger in Wrightwood. We had been dealing with a few damp cold nights after some weather came through the area but things were clearing up so we were getting in position to make an early climb up Mt. Baden-Powell. Waking up to a clear, warm morning we were pretty excited to make it up to the 9400 ft. summit. The ascent didn’t show us much difficulty aside from about 3000+ vertical ft., and it rewarded us with a beautiful view of Mt. Baldy through the clouds. As we were sitting atop this peak sharing sips of Johnny Walker Black (supplied by our new friend Fire Drill) next to a 1,500 year old cinder-cone pine the sun started softening the ice that had accumulated on the trees from the weather that had moved through in the days before. With the ice softening in the trees they started dropping their loads which varied between a light drizzle of water to microwave chunks of ice. We took this as our note to head down and started heading north to lower elevation as it was getting warmer and sunnier. The trees would drop their ice loads with no rhyme or reason and gave us several close calls which got us down in a hurry, but gave us no serious trouble. After getting down into the safety of Little Jimmy Creek we figured that as fun as dodging ice bombs was it could have been handled with more care. This day was capped off with a quick search and rescue drill run by our new friend Longlegs, in an attempt to find Dash. This went on until we discovered that Dash had actually taken the correct trail, where the rest of the group had accidentally reached the 8000+ ft. summit of Mount Williamson.

The next day, in an attempt to get in some miles early I misled our group of four, including Moonshadow and Firedrill, a mile out of the way into some endangered frog habitat. Once we were on the correct trail we had two miles and about an hour of wasted time which made everyone a little peeved. The middle of the day passed as most do, just waiting for the next meal or snack, though it started to get exciting again in the evening when our last water source turned out to be dry. We had the option to try to camp up on a ridge and make it to water in the morning, or attempt to make it another seven miles, giving us 27 PCT miles plus two wasted miles on the day. We assessed our water situation and decided that it would be best to make it down to the ranger station with water seven miles away. The decision was aided by the sound of thunder off in the distance. We started ticking off the miles down the ridge feeling good as the clouds and thunder started getting more intense and closer. Within about an hour we had our rain gear on and were walking rather quickly as the sky started to open up. Our quick walk turned into a slow jog after the rain turned into a heavy down pour and then into hail. The time between the thunder and the lightning went from double digit seconds to a few seconds to less than a second. We knew that this wasn’t a good situation but with the fire station in sight (several miles down the hill) and being soaked to the bone we had one option. Although the conditions were about as bad as they could be we all kept in high spirits and continued our slow jog down with the occasional story or joke to pass the time. The storm started to break as we were getting to the fire station. We’d been planning a night in an outhouse to dry out but we went to the main building to check on some better shelter. We rounded the corner to see five of our friends also taking shelter here and were greeted with cheers and much needed sips of Jim Beam. Getting into the dry clothing I had left, I started to plan a night under the eves of the building when I started to hear talk of a “trail angel”. Within 30 minutes a man showed up at the fire station offering a house with showers. This sounded too good to be true – who would be crazy enough to open their house to nine wet hikers. That man turned out to be Jim K. who was just getting back from feeding the homeless – He truly was an angel. The excitement in the group was at an all time high with just the thought of a dry place to sleep, but this wasn’t the half of it. This man was the 15th of 16 kids and knew how to deal with a group – chicken, salad, wine, 12 year scotch, classic rock, a drier, showers, warm beds and plenty of good stories and jokes. To top it off, the next day was the 30th birthday of one of our group and that called for coffee, chocolate chip pancakes, fresh fruit, eggs, cake, and plenty of singing and jubilation. Within no time we were dry, fed and back on the trail.

Life is great- the trail really does provide, and continues to.

-Rick

 

 

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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – May 7th, 2013

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

 

Triple D –

So it’s been a while… well, maybe not that long, but a lot has happened on the trail. After leaving the wonderful hiker stop of Ziggy and the Bear, a retired couple’s house that devout their summer to sheltering hikers, we entered the San Bernardino wilderness. The entrance was guarded by hundreds of wind turbines that I swear eerily moaned  “turn back” as we joined the sun in our climb over the horizon. The next next couple of days turned out to be fantastic. We climbed back up out of the desert, spent a night in an empty rundown cabin, passed a remote boarding facility for Hollywood’s large cat actors, and arrived at our next stop, Big Bear City, where we were finally able to truly socialize with some fellow hikers. Since Idyllwild, we’ve been hiking with a Scotsmen named David and now hike under the team name of Triple D (Dash, David, Dick). In addition to David, we have been playing leap frog throughout the days with two Whitman grads, two cousins from Boston, and two girls from England. Recently, we hiked back to back 24 milers, our inspiration being a hot springs and a MacDonalds both located a stones throw from the trail. The hot springs were just what our muscles needed despite them being about the same temperature as the air, really hot, and populated by full time nudists.  Following the hot springs was a canyon that was overrun by white supremacists mobbing their trucks in and out of the mud with confederate flag and beer in hand. They appeared to be having as much fun as us. When we exited the San Bernardino wilderness we walked on the historical Route 66 that dead ended at the Micky D’s where we ate amounts of food I’m embarrassed to describe. Last night we camped at the now famous “Gobbler’s Knob” with all of our friends. The weather was the harshest it’s been, rainy/windy, but we cancelled it out with a blazing campfire. We awoke to snow this morning which was bizarre because we’re mentally preparing ourselves for the Mojave desert… it’s crazy out here!

-Dash

 

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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – April 29th, 2013

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

 

San Jacinto Peak

After leaving Paradise Cafe, Dash and I parted ways. Dash hitched into Idyllwild to rehab his knee and I headed off for 28 miles through the the San Jacinto Wilderness. This turned out the be the prettiest and most vertical so far. From the road it starts with desert and you quickly head up into some rugged mountains. A damp night on a saddle which captured all the inversion fog turned out to afford some of the best views so far. After getting up to 8,600 ft. it was time to head strait down to Idyllwild to meet Dash and take my first zero day (a day with zero trail miles hiked). Idyllwild turned out to have a campground right in the middle of town, a great cheap breakfast place, and a nice little library where they don’t turn down smelly hikers. By then, Dash was at 100% and we were ready to head out to get our first summit – San Jacinto Peak. This peak was 10,800 ft. and a straightforward walk up, but turned out to be0 more difficult that I had planned, with five days of food and all our gear on our back. From the top of San Jacinto we were able to see the valley floor 9,000+ ft below. Although each day has some very difficult parts my memory tends to be very short as a good spot of shade and some cold water seems to make everything worth it. After our 9,000 foot descent and 100+ degree heat we ended up in Ziggy and The Bears’ house where footbaths and cold drinks are given free, with some good jokes to hikers. Life is good.

-Rick

(Technical difficulties, pictures on the way).

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Rick & Dash’s Excellent Adventure – April 25th, 2013

These posts are created by our sponsored PCT-hikers, and contain their stories and adventures, straight from the trail.

 

Breakfast, Desert. Lunch, Desert.

Dinner, Dessert. Desert, Desert, Desert.

It is day 11 on the trail and this last week has been hotter than a Santa Fe 4th of July. Seriously, we may come back not only looking like bums, but really old bums. Since leaving our friends in Julian we have been trekking across the Anza Borrego State Park which has, in between the excessive expanse of burnt shrubbery, thrown at us many hurdles – rattlesnakes, horny toads, and coyotes. Having learned that it is exceptionally hard to hike in 90 degree weather, we have become accustomed to hiking from 6am to a water resource, taking a break, and then continuing hiking at 5pm until we reach a relatively flat place to sleep.
Along the trail, there are people called “trail angels.”

They supply water caches, randomly place coolers with ice and drinks, and occasionally a complete shelter. The other day we came upon “Mike’s,” – the guy is a trail angel who opens up his house to PCT hikers. An oasis for hikers, it simply is just a shack with some shade, a horseshoe…court, with lots of retired stone grinders. Apparently Mike owns a tortilla factory and grinds the corn the old fashion way. Mike, busy with his tortillas, was absent at our encounter, but his friend, whose name I forget, was watching over the place for him. The dude sits all day chatting with hikers, sharing stories and occasionally distributing bananas to the group. He said he used to have a season pass to a theme park and never once rode a ride. He just liked watching people have fun, so being the caretaker of Mike’s PCT oasis seems like a perfect fit.

Rick and I have become in-sync with multiple hikers, all of which are from out of the country. We have been camping together the last couple of nights, which on top of the banter of accents and foreign languages, have been blessed with incredible stars. Unfortunately we are parting ways as we enter the funky town of Idyllwild which apparently has a country music festival going on. YEE-HAW.

 

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