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Pre-hike PCT Journal

Tues, April 9, 2002 Days on Trail:  0
Destination:  Bishop Today's Miles:  0
Starting Location:  Home Total Miles:  0
Tonight I arrived in Bishop around 7:30 after having stopped for 10 minutes just before Big Pine. I couldn't resist the setting sun's color display on the different shaped cloud formations. I only had my little Olympus camera but I still shot off about 10 shots while the truckers and other vehicles sped by. The sun had dropped behind the Sierras. I was facing the White Mountain Range where the mood provoking light display set the scene. Why don't I ever have my good camera and tripod? The light was getting low but I still tried to capture what it was that made me pull over. It almost doesn't matter whether the camera caught what I felt, because I was so pleased and moved that I took the time to stop and see the changing light and experience the affect the scene had on me.

I've been racing so much lately, as many know. I can't believe I had to rush back home 2 blocks from home to retrieve the helmet I left behind. All I can do is laugh at myself. Is it age or overwhelm? Hmmmm.

I played a Pulse CD and danced in my seat all the way to Lone Pine. All the movement helped generate circulation in my aching back. I kept looking off to the west, from Aqua Dulce on past Mojave, trying to imagine how far away the PCT was paralleling Hwy 14. I'm excited and happy about just possibly seeing the trail.

I finally stopped at the "Jerky" place in Olancha. You know Ray, the one where I always say, "Let's stop" and we never do. I bought some good jerky and dried mango.

After arriving in Bishop, I found myself driving back and forth on the main street. I couldn't decide two things…. What to eat? Where to sleep? I ended up getting a Burger King special. Ugh! I drove out toward the Buttermilk area eating the greasy thing, but got scared while on the dirt road. It was dark by now and I didn't feel comfortable pulling over to sleep in the back of my car. I went back to town and pulled into a dumpy but safe little motel for the night.

I'm meeting the ice axe/crampon instructor tomorrow at 6 am. It's 9 pm now so I'll say goodnight.


 Tues, April 10, 2002 Days on Trail: 0
Destination:  Sierra Mountain Center Today's Miles:  0
Starting Location:  Bishop Total Miles:  0

Sierra Mountain Center Crampon and Ice Axe training day.

I met my instructor, Dave, at Jack's restaurant shortly after 6 am. While I was waiting inside I watched two tables pushed together slowly fill up with local old-timers. As each arrived and sat down, the waitress called them by name as she said good morning. I was mesmerized by the unity I noticed. Tradition!

After a quick breakfast, and a filling out of necessary release forms, an exchange about the PCT (Dave hiked from Campo to Mammoth in '97), we headed up to a snow covered, north facing slope, just south of Cardinal Village located just below Lake Sabrina.

Dave carried all the necessary safety gear in a large daypack. I carried my backpack (wanted to practice in it). We both carried our helmets, ice axes and crampons. At 7am it wasn't too cold. We didn't wear heavy clothes but did use hats and gloves and long gaiters. Climbing up to the snow field at an elevation around 8500' caused me some concern. We hiked over rocks and shrubs, but thank goodness, had only a short distance to go.

The snow wasn't great for what we wanted to do. There wasn’t much snow. Dave checked out another patch of snow further up the hill. It wasn't much better. It didn't matter to me though. I was happy it wasn't real hard and icy. We began by Dave teaching me how to cut steps into the steep slope. He was patient and clear which made me feel comfortable from the start. He talked about how I should stand on the snow in my crampons. It felt unnatural to thrust my ankle down the slope, but he explained this position creates good purchase with all the points on the crampons. Next, I learned how to hold the axe and how to swing it with my uphill arm to make steps to help me safely move up the slope. He emphasized the importance of maintaining balance and 3-point contact at all times. I won't go into all the various ways he taught me to move my feet.

We spent a good amount of time at the top of the slope practicing many different ice axe arrests. I was nervous but excited. The one that got me was when I had to try to arrest from a head downward, on my back, sliding position. The hardest part was not doing the actual arrest but getting into the position before I started sliding. Dave had me on belay so I really didn't have anything to fear. Right!

Two weeks to go!


 Wed. April 24, 2002 Days on Trail:  0
Destination:  Warner Springs, CA Today's Miles:  0
Starting Location:  Big Bear Lake, CA Total Miles:  0
 I am sitting in the bathroom with the door closed so as not to awaken my restlessly sleeping husband, Ray. We are at the Warner Springs Ranch where we arrived today around 4:00pm.

I can’t sleep. I know I ordered decaf coffee with dinner tonight, but my body is filled with all kinds of adrenaline. Rather than compose and re-compose in my head, I got up to begin my journaling. How scary this is for me – to write, knowing others will be reading what I write. This may be harder for me to do than backpack for 5+ continuous months!

Yes, I will be backpacking from the U.S./Mexican border, along the Pacific Crest Trail, all the way to Manning Park, Canada. That is my plan. But right now, at this very moment, that sounds insane!

I’ve spent the last 6 months planning and preparing for this adventure. I’ve complained about how much work it has been laying out an itinerary, preparing food, buying food, packing the food in 27 re-supply boxes, figuring out what extras I need where and in what box, buying gear, trying gear out, weighing and re-weighing gear (every ounce counts you know!), etc., etc. I could go on and on, but won’t. Even though I have felt overwhelmed with the preparation, I have enjoyed it. But as of yesterday morning, Tuesday, April 23rd, I had done all I could with getting ready for this trip. I’d said my goodbyes, had my (hair) roots dyed for the last time in 5 months, and left a message on my phone asking people to not leave a message.

Ray and I left home around 2:00pm on Tuesday. Originally, Ray was going to drive me on Thursday, April 25th, to Campo, a town near the start of the trail. We’d spend the night and I’d begin hiking first thing on the 26th. But Ray, the good Prop Man that he is, wanted to “prep the show” right. He wanted us to leave a couple of days earlier to preview and know ahead of time where we would meet up when he brought me my re-supply boxes at the towns of Wrightwood and Warner Springs.

Ray will be in charge of sending off all my re-supply boxes with the exception of 2, which he’ll bring me. He’ll bring me a box when he meets me in Mojave. That will be May 31st, our 12th wedding anniversary. The other exception is when he and Tina will hike up Kearsarge Pass to re-supply me.

I can’t say enough about how grateful I am to my husband for his patience, his support, his love, and all his help with the preparation (… asking questions like “How many pieces of toilet paper go in each baggie for a 5-day re-supply box?” or “If you want 7 Jolly Rancher candies a day, how many would be in a baggie for a 7-day re-supply?”). I don’t know that I could do this trip without my husband’s unselfish love and support.

There are so many who have helped me, that I hesitate to start listing names. But right now I’d like to thank a few people because, without their help, I would not be able to do this trip.

Many of you who know Jane (White) and Debbie (Davis), know I am a better person because of them. Debbie is also my journal transcriber. Thank you, thank you. [from Debbie – “you’re very, very welcome Linda”].

Lamont (Ross) and Tina (Langan) are good friends, friends who share my love of backpacking. They have helped me organize my thoughts with the preparation when I didn’t know where to begin or how to continue.

And here, I want to mention a separate thank you to Tina regarding my web site. Thanks for creating the logo on the “Home” page, AND, on the “About Linda” page for providing the first picture and inspirational message that means a lot to me. Thanks so much for your contribution.

The “About Linda” page on this web site, from notes I gave her, was written by Pat (Yeo). I was thrilled that she offered to do it.

And though I wasn’t going to start listing people, because I knew I’d forget so many, I have to mention one more person. Without this man’s help and personal training, I would not have the physical endurance and strength necessary to complete this journey. Thank you George (Naum).

Tomorrow Ray and I drive to Campo. We will find a place to camp for the night. I want to have some pictures taken of me at the beginning of the trail. Kevin, the manager of A16, who sold me my first backpack almost 5 years ago, will be starting the trail with me. He will be with me until Mt. Laguna, 3-1/2 to 4 days after we begin. Kevin and I will attend the 5th ADZPCTKOP (Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off Party) on our 2nd day at Lake Morena. This function is a send off for the through-hikers that will start this year. 74 of the “Class of 2002” have indicated they will be attending this event. I heard 400 through-hikers have applied for permits for this season.

ADZ is put on by past through-hikers, trail angels (people who support and help hikers along the trail by caching water, giving rides, or putting hikers up for the night) as well as other giving people. I can’t wait to see the people (the players) I’ve only known on-line from having seen their posts on the PCT L digest forum, http://mailman.hack.net/mailman/listinfo/pct-l. This is a site for people to exchange any information that is trail related. Over the last 5 months, I haven’t missed checking out the site for new posts.

To be continued …

One Day To Go!

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