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June 2002 Journal

Sat. June 1, 2002 Days on Trail:  37
Destination: Kennedy Meadows Today's Miles: 0
Starting Location: Kennedy Meadows Total Miles: 697
Last night my new tent blew and made noise in the wind. I’ll have to guyline the two sides out in the future. I drank too much Dr. Pepper yesterday and the caffeine prevented me from falling asleep right away. I tossed and turned.

Where I had camped with the other PCTers there were “regular campers” (very happy, loud, drinking campers) on both sides of us all. They partied well into the night.

I got up early, 5:15. At 6am, most of the other PCTers, except Art & Sherry who were packing up for the trail, were sleeping.

I hiked the 2 miles back to the store. I passed, then stopped and chatted with “Raven”, a cute young girl who had walked to the store to use the phone. She’s hiking with a male friend and has another friend from Europe joining them to do the High Sierras. Raven had shaved her head, as had her friend she started with, for the hike. Her hair is now about a quarter inch long. She looked adorable. Of course, she’s young AND has a great head shape. I had contemplated cutting my hair real short for the trip. No guts, more work.

I’m sitting here, alone, at the store, except for the very friendly resident cat. A young man I met yesterday, named Josh, was jogging and stopped for a chat. He is in his 20’s and divorced from his young wife who was going to do the PCT with him. I asked him why on his rest day (or zero day in PCT lingo) he was jogging? He said that he runs 20 minutes every day “no matter what”.

The store doesn’t open until 9am so I’m eating potato chips and a tootsie roll from the hikers box. Yum!

I decided to take a well needed zero day today. I got a ride to Ridgecrest and spent some $.

I’ll be back on the trail tomorrow … bright and early … to get in (2) 22-mile days to meet Mike on the 3rd at Chicken Spring Lake.

Sun. June 2, 2002  Days on Trail: 38
Destination: (1 mi. short of) after Monache Creek Bowl levels off on a saddle
Today's Miles: 18.5
Starting Location: Kennedy Meadows Total Miles: 717.9
I got a later start on the trail than I’d hoped for. I left Kennedy Meadows Campground at 7am after talking to other PCTers. Fancy Nancy and Flutter By had arrived in Kennedy Meadows and were getting ready to go to the store.

I got on the wrong trail at the start, which cost me a hour. I took the old PCT trail (left) to the river. Because Tina and Mike and I had been at the campground last January and hiked a bit of the trail, I decided I didn’t need to look at the PCT guidebook trail description.

Chicken Spring Lake, just past Cottonwood Pass, is 45 miles away from Kennedy Meadows. I’m supposed to meet Mike on the night of the 3rd. Having only hiked 18.5 miles today, I’m left with 26+ miles tomorrow. 26 doesn’t sound like much compared to the number of miles I’ve been hiking, but hiking in the Sierras is different. The altitude at which I’m hiking now is much higher. People can start to get altitude sickness while hiking at 8,000 feet. I started hiking at 6,150 feet from Kennedy Meadows Campground. In 10 miles I hiked up to 8,390, down to 7,840, then back up to 9,700, where I am now. I felt the altitude today. I had no energy. I also had a full 6 days of food I’m carrying, plus my bear canister and crampons. Hence only 18.5 miles. I’m not happy about that but I’m also impressed I could do the 18.5 considering how little energy I had. I’ve not slept much the last two nights, so I feel sleep deprived too. I hope I have more energy tomorrow so I can meet Mike that night. I did let him know I might be arriving the morning of the 4th though.

There were many of us who started back out on the trail this morning. Those I ran into and had lunch with were LE & Pugent (Julie & John), Rachel & Scott, Smokey & Bob, Lee & Ann, and Brant. Brant is a young man, maybe 20. He helped me find my way twice today on the trail.

I hiked alone from Kennedy Meadows and ran into the above mentioned hikers taking a break. Actually, they were getting ready to get back on the trail from their break. I didn’t stop for a break. I just said “hi” and chatted briefly. Because most of the hikers are so much faster than I am, if I take as many breaks as they do, I fall way behind. Not that that matters.

We all ended up taking lunch at the 1986 South Fork Kern steel girdered wooden bridge. Swallows live under the bridge and each time one of us crossed the bridge, the birds started to fly with frenzy.

It was clouding over and looking dark over some areas of the sky. I took off to start hiking because the warm sun was replaced by clouds. I also wanted to get in over 20 miles and it was already 2pm and I’d only done 11.5 miles.

Not more than 20 minutes after I started hiking, the sky got very dark. There was thunder and then the rain came. The rest of the hikers caught up to me and we all hiked up the trail trying to get out of the meadow to the safety of the trees upslope.

As I said before, we climbed. I was hiking in the back, alone, and wishing the day was over.

The sun is down, my light is going, I’m cold and tired. I’m at a campsite with Lee & Ann. They convinced me to stop with them and make dinner a mile back from where we are now camped.

They are taking care of me. Lee hung my excess food that wouldn’t fit in the Bearicade Bear Canister. I’m in a tent. It’s cold. It’s 8:25. Good night.

Sun. June 3, 2002  Days on Trail: 39
Destination: Chicken Spring Lake Outlet Today's Miles: 26.5
Starting Location: (1 mi. short of) after Monache Creek Bowl levels off on a saddle
Total Miles: 744.4
It was the coldest morning so far. I knew I had to put in a big mileage day to reach Mike at Chicken Spring Lake, 6/10ths of a mile past Cottonwood Pass, but I didn’t want to get out of my sleeping bag.

I got up and got going by 6am. I still had to climb another 500+ feet of the 3.4 mile climb I had in front of me when I decided to stop last night. I didn’t like stopping in the middle of a climb. The top of the saddle was 10,540 feet.

The rest of the day was harder than I had expected. As a matter of fact, had I known ahead of time exactly how much altitude gain and loss I had in front of me, I would not have believed I could make it to Mike until the morning of the 4th. When I first made plans and told Mike I’d do (2) 22-mile days and cover the distance from Kennedy Meadows to Chicken Spring Lake to meet him, I thought that was realistic.

As I was walking today, I had to stay in the minute and just hike what was in front of me. The day looked too big and too hard.

The elevations for the mileage went like this (not including all the ups and downs not listed on the data sheet I refer to for all the mileage between landmarks, the total mileage, the elevation, and the map page): 10540, 9030, 9010, 8940, 10390, 10425, (a 10700 not listed), 10260, 10000, 9670, 9960, 10380, 10500, 10740, and 11160.

The Sierra weather patterns often repeat themselves for a few days. Today at the same time as yesterday, 1:30ish, the newly formed clouds started to take on a different look. Within 20 minutes the clouds were dark and stormy looking. This was happening just as I was about to reach a crestline prominence of 10,700 feet. I don’t like lightning. I have a fear of it beyond belief - my thinking was: Can I reach and get to the other side of the highest point before the lightning arrives? … or do I just hunker down below the crest and wait till the storm passes? I knew I couldn’t afford to not keep hiking time-wise. I kept any break I took to a minimum to insure I could get the needed mileage in to reach Mike.

Fortunately, all the storm delivered was a little snow.

I didn’t see any PCT hikers today. At first, I did see 2 men and a woman out hiking with backpacks. We just said “hi”. No conversation.

At 4pm I stopped on the trail to make myself my first ever, Lipton dinner. A cheddar cheese & broccoli, rice & noodle dish. I had no energy left and knew I had to eat something in order to have enough fuel for the next 5 hours of hiking.

It worked, my dinner that is. I eventually climbed the last 1,000 feet to Cottonwood Pass. It was dusk by the time I arrived at the Pass. Chicken Spring Lake was 6/10ths of a mile more. I had to put on my head lamp by the time I got to the Lake.

I noticed a head lamp by the lakeshore but it was a PCTer, not Mike. He told me where Mike was set up though.

At 9:30 I found Mike, asleep in his tent. He got up, hugged me, and said he was glad I made it. He told me about the surprises he brought for me; (2) Fugi apples, (2) bananas, artichoke hearts and a footbath plastic container he brought to use before the foot massages he was going to give me! He boiled water for me. I had hot chocolate and crackers. I was out of it. I was dead tired. We said good night about an hour after I arrived.

Tues. June 4, 2002  Days on Trail: 40
Destination: Rock Creek Crossing Today's Miles: 10.1
Starting Location: Chicken Spring Lake Outlet Total Miles: 754.5
I was awakened by Mike saying “Linda, you awake?” at 8:30am! I couldn’t believe I’d slept that late! I actually had been up and then back to sleep much of the night and early morning because I was so cold. I couldn’t get warm. I wonder if it was because I didn’t eat enough before I went to sleep?

I was lazy this morning. Mike is so easy to be with. He showed me the location-finder flag he made and had hanging to indicate where he was camped by the Lake.

I had to clean myself and some clothes in the lake. (I’d gotten in my sleeping bag with all my hiking clothes on. I hadn’t cleaned up since the day before!) I spent time washing the pot I’d cooked in the night before and just basically getting reorganized after the 2-day push.

It was fun seeing Mike. He had a little altitude sickness … not much, but enough that I could tell he was affected.

He was ready to take off before I was. At 10:45am we left camp for our hike to Rock Creek Crossing. Just before we left, Julie (LE) and John (Pugent) came by. We chatted and heard that they and Lee & Ann and Scott & Rachel had camped about 7 miles back last night. It was fun introducing Mike to them.

The first part of the trail after leaving Chicken Spring Lake goes straight up. Mike was taking breathing breaks often. I felt bad for him. He, too, hikes faster than I do. For the first 2 miles we stopped a lot. But he soon found a rhythm when the trail leveled out. It was great that the later part of today’s hike was all downhill.

We stopped for lunch around 1:30. Mike was real strong after he ate. He was good about drinking a lot of water.

Our hiking day ended at 4:20pm. What a treat. The sun was still up. It was warm. We camped by the beautiful full running Rock Creek and had meadows to our south. It felt so good to be in camp with so much daylight left.

Mike and I set up our tents and set about washing ourselves. He went into the meadow with 4 liters of water and the footbath container. He was using soap and didn’t want to contaminate the water by washing in it.

I used the creek to wash myself and my clothes. There was plenty of sun time left to dry everything.

Ann came by after arriving in her camp upstream and I introduced her to Mike.

Mike and I made dinner. We shared the artichokes and he & I shared my homemade hamburger, veggie, and spaghetti sauce dinner. The last time I ate it, I realized I had made too much for one person.

After we cleaned up and put our food in the bear box at the campground, we went over to socialize. I introduced Mike first to Scott & Rachel, who are on their honeymoon, and then Lee (of Ann & Lee). Lee, Ann, Julie & John were all sitting around a small campfire by their campsite. I later brought my garbage over to burn so I wouldn’t have to carry it any more.

Julie had made butterscotch pudding and didn’t want it. The rest of us all enjoyed a serving or two. I visited for a while but knew I had my journal entry to do, so I excused myself and went to my “cave”. Not 10 minutes later, Mike came by and asked if I wanted to see all the white tailed deer in the meadow. Of course I did! Mike went back and told the others and they came down to see the deer too. This is a campsite that Tina & I, and Cindy & I, have been in before. It’s pretty.

Good night. 9:50pm.

Wed. June 5, 2002  Days on Trail: 41
Destination: Wallace Creek and High Sierra Trail junction Today's Miles: 10.1
Starting Location: Rock Creek Crossing Total Miles: 764.6
I woke up around 5:30am but didn’t get out of my tent until 7am. I watched the other PCTers take off between 6:00-6:30am as they crossed the large log over the raging creek. I remember the first time I had to cross that log. It was when Cindy & I went on Carol Latimer’s “Call of the Wild” Women’s Backpacking trip about 4 years ago. I was so scared I’d lose my balance and fall in.

Ann, Lee, Rachel and Scott were going to try and summit Mt. Whitney today. John & Julie weren’t going to as I recall. They all said they were going to do fewer miles in the Sierras and maybe not get on the trail quite so early. But this morning they needed to start early in order to get up and down Whitney in one day.

As Mike and I started across the creek on the log, Mark, a friend of Fancy Nancy and Flutter By I’d met in Kennedy Meadows, came over to us. He,the girls, and Smokey & Bushwhacker, had just arrived at Rock Creek. Mark said that he was glad he happened to see us crossing the log cause he was thinking he’d have to rock hop across and the water was moving quite rapidly.

No sooner did we cross than Flutter By first, and Fancy Nancy second, came across the log to say “hi” and give and get hugs. It’s really special to see people on the trail that you’ve connected with but not seen in a while.

It was 9:30 before Mike and I trudged up the “moderate-to-steep – sometimes steep” switchbacks up to Guyot Creek (10,320 feet) 1.5 miles. Our starting elevation at Rock Creek was 9,550. Then we climbed to the pass northeast of 12,300 foot Mt. Guyot, to an elevation of 10,920 feet.

Mike’s doing very well considering he hasn’t had much time to acclimate to the high altitude. We take it slow and stop often. Mike is drinking lots of water hoping to stay hydrated and fend off altitude sickness. He said often that he’d been a bad boy. I didn’t understand what he meant until he told me today that what he meant was, that he had not trained in preparation for this trip. He is doing much better than I would have done had I not trained.

Mike does like his GEAR. His pack weight is heavy because he is carrying all the comforts of home (Larry’s blow up, 3” inflated, sleeping mattress). This doesn’t make high altitude hiking very easy for him though.

We ran into the same group of hikers that we saw as we were leaving today, at the top of a hard climb. Brant also showed up. One hiker was having trouble, feeling down and out, cause the pack was causing the hiker much discomfort. It was the 3rd pack this hiker has tried since the start.

Around 1:30 we stopped for lunch at lower Crabtree Meadow where Smokey, Bushwhacker, Brant, Fancy Nancy, and Flutter By were eating. They were going to go up to Guitar Lake and camp, then summit Whitney the following morning. They tried a couple times during the day to have us join them to do Whitney as a big group. Mike was not interested and neither was I.

Mike has been meeting all my fellow PCTers and having chats with them. You know Mike – he doesn’t let a hiker go by without a conversation or two. Mike likes to talk.

Brian, another PCTer, ran into us on the trail earlier today. He was going north to south. At first I didn’t recognize him. He’d gotten ahead of his schedule. He went to summit Whitney and was now backtracking to Cottonwood Pass to “go out” (meaning into town) to meet a friend. It must be nice to be young and so very strong! Mike gave Brian tips on Mt. Langley. Brian and his friend were going to climb Langley.

Back to lunch at Crabtree Meadows … What a beautiful spot. Mike and I ate too much. We forded the Whitney Creek holding our boots in our hands. Once we started hiking again, we knew we’d eaten too much. Mike had a little trouble this afternoon. He felt the effects of altitude and had no energy and kept coughing. He’d felt OK up until lunch.

We had some uphill and it was tough for him but he kept going and we finally got to our destination, Wallace Creek. There are bear boxes here. We set up camp. Mike cleaned up in the creek. The mosquitoes were bad. I had on nylon clothing from my neck down and a mosquito net over my wide brimmed hat. I dared not take anything off to clean up. I ate my dinner in my full mosquito proof clothing. Mike ate ½ of my dinner instead of making his own. He wasn’t hungry. He layed down for an hour and later said he was feeling better.

As I was taking my food to the bear box down the trial, Grasshopper came hiking by. “Hi Gottago!” “Hi Grasshopper!” He was proud to tell me that he had done his first 30-mile day. He wanted to know where the bear box was. He said that the previous night he had had a visitor to his camp and it really scared him. He’s getting up and on the trail by 5:30am tomorrow morning so he can get up and over Forrester Pass, which is 13,200 feet, before noon.

Mike and I were going to try to go over the Pass tomorrow, but we thought we’d wait another day to give Mike more time to acclimate. Even though Mike says he is not feeling great, he sure is a trooper and putting in some good high altitude mileage.

It’s different for me slowing down. It’s hard on one hand to see all my friends passing me by. But I think it’s good on the other hand in that it feels like I’m on a vacation. My body is enjoying the lower mileage too. My left heel is very sore, off and on during the day. But on these lower mileage days, I don’t feel the pain very much at all.

It’s 9:17pm. I’m not dead, but I’m looking forward to putting my head down, feeling comfy in my sleeping bag, and having my own special thoughts. It’s my Sister’s birthday. H.B. Lee.

Thurs. June 6, 2002  Days on Trail: 42
Destination: ½ Mile north of Forrester Pass Today's Miles: 10.1
Starting Location: Wallace Creek and High Sierra Trail junction Total Miles: 774.7
I can say, with absolute surety that today was, and will be, the most adventurous day I’ll have on my PCT hike.

But I’ll start at the beginning of the day.

I woke up at 5:30 and started getting ready for the day. Mike was sleeping. I went and got our food out of the bear box and noticed Grasshopper sitting by his packed up backpack eating his breakfast of blueberry Fig Newtons. He had wanted to take off by 5:30am. We talked about the creek crossing. We’d have to take our boots off to cross. Grasshopper left to climb over Forrester Pass today.

The mosquitoes weren’t up yet, so I enjoyed a bug free breakfast. But I was ready for them. I had the 3M Deet on my hands. The rest of my body was covered by the nylon clothing I wear. My head net was ready to be put on at the first sighting of a mosquito.

I woke Mike letting him know the mosquitoes weren’t up yet and that I had some hot water for his oatmeal. I was glad to hear that Mike felt better this morning.

We stated hiking at 7:30, minutes after Rachel & Scott hiked by our camp. They were going to go over Forrester also today. Mike and I were still undecided. We wanted to make sure Mike felt OK.

We had 3 creek crossings today where we had to take off our boots to cross. The first was 100 yards away from our campsite at Wallace Creek. Rachel & Scott already had their sandals on and were starting across. The water came up to their knees. It was painfully cold. Mike and I don’t wear anything on our feet for the crossings. The rocks weren’t sharp but the pain of the frigid water hurt our feet even for a while even after we got out of the creek.

Rachel & Scott hike much faster than Mike & I do so we didn’t see them on the trail until our second creek crossing, Wright Creek, 1.1 miles after Wallace Creek.

Mike & I took a break on the Bighorn Plateau. There were snow-covered mountains around us in every direction. Ray & I had taken a break there last year during my John Muir Trail hike. The 3 deer we saw were so habituated to humans that they didn’t move away from us.

By the last creek ford, Tyndall Creek, I knew we were going over Forrester Pass today. Mike was hiking strong and the weather was perfect. We ran into Rachel & Scott again at the crossing. (Scott had left his camera 1-1/2 miles back). Scott’s misfortunate became our good fortune. We hiked up to Forrester Pass following their footsteps (literally following them in the snow! unless we were climbing over the boulders).

There is a long slog up to where the snowfields begin. The trail was well hidden beneath the snow much of the time. Scott & Rachel are naturals at finding the trail and Mike & I were very grateful. Had I come to do Forrester Pass alone this day, I would have been totally lost and confused as to where I should hike.

As we got closer to where the actual ascent would begin with the switchbacks up the great granite rock wall of Forrester, Grasshopper came bounding down toward us. He had tried going up a snowfield (off to the left of the Pass) in the wrong area and kept getting stuck in the snow. He got really scared and decided he better wait for others to come by. No one did. So he started walking back down to see if he could find anyone. Needless to say, he was elated to find us all.

Scott led us up boulder fields when the lower switchbacks were covered with snow. I didn’t want to ask Scott & Rachel to wait for Mike & me, but I told Mike not to lose sight of where they were traveling. At one point Mike & I got behind enough that we lost track of how Scott & Rachel and Grasshopper got to where they were. We yelled to them and they told us how to come. I guess they figured out we needed their leadership, so from then on, we all stayed together. Thanks to Scott & Rachel for slowing down and being of service to Mike & me.

After a few switchbacks, the trail became apparent and mostly free of snow, except near the top of the Pass, in a couloir, we had to walk across a snowfield. That was scary. Everyone took pictures of each other crossing.

We got to the pass and everyone was very excited to have all the trouble shooting and climbing behind them. We took a variety of combinations of photos and one group photo. Rachel used her little plastic tripod. We ate and looked at the maps for our descent. Our descent was a massive snow covered slope on the north side. There were footprints from previous PCTers. Because we were descending so late in the day, the snow was soft and DEEP!

Scott led us down the snowfield post holing for us all. It was strenuous work for him. Because the snow was so soft, we all at times fell in the post holes. Sometimes we went in so deep with a leg and foot, we got stuck and needed someone to help dig us out.

Mike said after he got stuck once and needed Scott’s help to get his leg and foot out, “Now I know why people in avalanches can’t get out.” The snow is like cement when only a few inches cover a body part.

Because it was late, and we only had about another hour of sun, and we were all wet, cold and tired, Scott decided we should glissade down, changing our contouring line of travel on the slope to a new direction toward the lake. We would have to camp up high because we’d never get down before dark.

Grasshopper was tired of the snow, as we all were, and headed toward the boulders to climb down. We all took off our packs and used them as sleds to slide on top of the snow, rather than continue falling in the mushy post holes.

Scott went down first. I don’t think this man has an ounce of fear in him. Below him was a rock field, and beyond the rock field, a thawing frozen lake. The slope was steep but the wettish snow kept him from moving too fast. He stopped at the boulder field.

Rachel and I came down next. We were both scared but excited. We were laughing hard once we started sliding downhill on our packs. I ran right into the back of her as the slope lessened. We were thrilled to be making some headway in getting off the snow-covered slope.

Mike came down next - totally in control, using his ski poles as a brake.

We all followed Scott again as he climbed down the boulders a way so that we had a straight, rock free snow slope to glissade down. We headed right for the lake.

Again, we all got on our packs and rode the snow to just before the lake. We walked a short way to “Terra Firma” and sun ... and RELIEF!

We made camp for the night in the boulders above the lake. There were just enough flat spots for each of us to pitch our tents. Grasshopper wanted to go on down a little more and try and find the trail. We would like to have gone down further too, but time (sunlight) was running out.

Tomorrow, when we have more time, we will tackle the rest of the snow-covered trail. Hopefully we won’t have a repeat of today’s snow travel.

We are all exhausted. Our elevation is 12,254 feet. I hope I can sleep tonight. I usually have trouble in this kind of elevation.

I, personally, could not have done this Pass if it were not for the knowledge and company of Scott, Rachel, Grasshopper, and Mike.

All I can say is: What a Day! I wish I were a writer so I could describe the day as we experienced it. It was a true adventure. My husband would have killed me if he knew ahead of time what I was doing.

Scott and I hugged at the end of the day while looking back up to Forrester Pass and where we had come down. Rachel and I hugged too. Going through times like this makes strong bonds and good memories.

It’s 8:56pm. I have a slight altitude headache. I didn’t drink enough water today. Who wants to carry water up to 13,200 feet? That’s what the elevation is at Forrester Pass. It’s the highest Pass on the PCT. Thank goodness it’s over.

Good night.

 Fri. June 7, 2002 – KEARSAGE PASS Days on Trail: 43
Destination: Charlotte Lake Today's Miles: 9.8 (.7 miles to Charlotte Lake)
Starting Location: ½ Mile north of Forrester Pass Total Miles: 784.4
I had trouble sleeping last night at the 12,248 foot elevation, but so did Scott and Mike. I usually do have difficulty sleeping soundly in altitude.

I was up early, 5:15, because I wanted to be ready when Scott & Rachel got going. I don’t know whether it will stick, but I gave Scott the trail name, Pathfinder. He is very good a finding the trail under snow. He reads topo maps well, as does Rachel. I knew the trail finding this morning would not be easy. The north side of the mountain gets less sun, therefore more snow.

It took two calls over to Mike in his tent before he got up to get ready. We waited for Mike and then all set out to descend the mountain. What we realized was how much easier it was walking in the morning snow. Last night we came over the Pass too late. The day’s sun had softened the snow making the hellish post holing descent. I’ve read and been told about snow conditions during different times of the day and month, yet until I experience something myself, I don’t really understand it.

This morning, I felt the difference in the snow. We left around 7am and the sun had warmed the snow just barely. But that was enough to make the snow easy to walk on without slipping.

Some friends of ours had summited yesterday also, but they left much earlier and did not have to deal with the softened deep snow. They probably walked on top of the snow as we did this morning.

We walked across some snow bridges over the many water sources flowing down the mountain. I’ve always been so afraid I’d break through, fall in, and be pulled under by the current of the water. This morning I saw how sturdy these snow bridges were at this early morning hour. Later, they may not be so sturdy.

We all talked about yesterday’s adventure some more. We were happy today we had had the experience we did yesterday.

Today’s hiking was almost all downhill. We stopped just before the tree line for a quick breakfast. Mike had his stove out to cook his oatmeal when he noticed Scott, Rachel and I were all finished with our quick, cold breakfasts. Mike is becoming familiar with PCTers’ way of go-go-go!

Mike followed Scott & Rachel as we hiked and had much conversation along the trail.

We had one creek crossing where we had to remove our boots. Oh,…… boots. this morning my boots were frozen solid. They were saturated from yesterday’s snow travel and I left them outside my tent. It took quite a while before I could get my orthotics back in them. For most of the day I hiked in my very wet socks and boots.

Scott & Rachel left the PCT at the Cedar Grove trail to re-supply and meet a friend who will hike with them for a day. By the way, if you would like to visit Scott & Rachel’s web site, I think you may find it very interesting. They keep a journal and have their photos updated as they send them home. They are both very good writers, so it might be interesting to read what Scott wrote about yesterday’s experience. This is their site: www.geocities.com/pct_hike. They both write journal entries so you never know who is writing because they write in the 3rd person.

What I’m realizing about my hike is that I never know what the day will bring. I never know who I will end up spending time with.

I think I mentioned Grasshopper continued on down the trial last night. Mike and I ran into him today on the trail. He had slept a mile beyond where we camped and then hiked today to the top of the trail to Kearsage Pass junction and retraced his steps back down lower into the shade of trees. The snow had caused some blindness and he couldn’t see very well in the light. Grasshopper, from Greenwich Village, admits he knows little about snow and had not brought sunglasses with him. Good hearted Mike gave him his sunglasses and some eye solution he had. Grasshopper couldn’t believe the “trail magic” he was experiencing. He felt better wearing the sunglasses.

Mike and I trudged the only uphill today, 2.2 miles, up to the 4-way junction of Kearsage Pass, Glen Pass and Charlotte Lake.

Mike found the partially snow-covered trail to Charlotte Lake where we will wait for Ray, Tina, and her new friend. They will arrive tomorrow, bringing my next food re-supply up Kearsage Pass. I hope they don’t encounter too much snow. I also hope my husband isn’t cursing me as he hikes up the 2,500 foot elevation gain over 5 miles. I’m very grateful to him. This allows me to have a zero day, lying around, off my feet.

Mike likes our campsite. He thinks Charlotte Lake is beautiful. When we got to our campsite, we set up our tents, filled up with and treated our water, ate (we always eat!), washed up, washed clothes, and ate some more (my dinners are too big for the small mileage I’m doing, so Mike shares them with me).

I’ve enjoyed having Mike come hike and share the PCT experience with me. It’s fun for me knowing that he will now have a sense of what thru-hiking is like. I’m glad he got to meet some of the other PCTers too. They all like him and he likes them also.

I’m excited to see Ray and Tina. I’m also very much looking forward to getting back to hiking and my daily schedule. Some of the friends I’ve met and hiked with are ahead of me now. I can’t wait to see Yogi and Cupcake. I hear they have been hiking together. Where is Coach I wonder? I hope he got the best of Forrester Pass!

Well - good night. 8:44pm.

P.S. Lamont – I got in my tent at 6pm! The sun was still way up in the sky. Can you believe anyone would get in their bed so early? I loved it!!

Sat. June 8, 2002  Days on Trail: 44
Destination: Charlotte Lake Today's Miles: 0
Starting Location: Charlotte Lake Total Miles: 784.4
On the one day I can sleep in as long as I want, I have to get out of my tent because all the frozen water condensation inside my tent was beginning to thaw and water drops were falling on my down sleeping bag. So I got up around 7:15am as the sun was just shining over Kearsage Pass.

I think I’m going to try facing the front opening of my tent in the direction of the wind. Maybe this will help blow some of the moisture out of my tent. I like everything else about my tent except for the heavy condensation I get every night inside.

Today is the day Ray brings my food re-supply to me. I started getting the things in my pack organized for the re-supply. I will be getting rid of the bear canister (I know someone who, if they are reading this journal, will be smiling and saying “I told you so”.). I will also be giving Ray my 6-point crampons. That’s a total of 36 ounces out of my pack. Ray will also take my film, journal entries, and trash. I went through my “ten essentials” ditty bag and got rid of some iodine as water treatment backup and a few other little things.

I went through my bear canister. I took out some peanut butter in a baggie, my last tortilla (that a chipmunk got a piece of as I was looking in the other direction), 2 last bars and a Cytomax drink package for a quart of water. I packed all this up in my backpack for when Mike & I hike up the 7/10ths of a mile back to the junction of the PCT and Kearsage Pass where Ray and Tina and Olin will arrive to meet Mike and me. Mike & I didn’t know how long we’d have to wait for them so we packed a lunch and brought water.

Before we left our campsite to go to the junction, I washed my hair. That was an experience. It was sunny, but windy. I put my Z rest (sleeping pad) down on the bank of the lake and laid down on it. I lowered my head into the frigid water to get it wet. I got up and soaped up my hair with a little camp soap and used a filled Nalgene bottle of water to rinse my hair. Burr. I was cold. My head hurt while in the lake for a last rinsing once I’d gotten the soap out of my hair away from the lake. I knew this would be my last chance to wash my hair until Vermilion Valley Resort, 5 days away.

At 11am we hiked up to the junction to wait for Ray, Tina & Olin. (Tina’s new friend). I was surprised when we had to wait until 3:30 before we saw them coming down the trail. It was exciting and fun to see the three of them coming closer.

Ray was beat. What a trooper! Tina’s friend Olin (he’s hiked and lead hikes all over Nepal) carried my food and bear canister. Tina looked fresh as a daisy. She took care of Ray on the hike up. Both Olin and Tina were great with Ray.

It was good to see my hubby. I know this hike wasn’t easy for him. But he did it and brought me lots of goodies.

We all headed down to Charlotte Lake. Ray & I hung back to hike & talk while the others raced ahead to prepare their surprise dinner for me.

When we got to the lake and walked along the path on the north side, we noticed Tina & Olin setting up a kitchen area far from our campsite. They didn’t want the smell of cooking dinner to bring on hungry bears. I felt sorry for Dustin, a young man Mike and I met about a day or two ago, because he was camped upwind of the kitchen.

Ray & I went right to our campsite, 200 yards past the kitchen. We set up our Room-for-Three tent. Then I set about figuring out how many days of food I’d need for my travel to Vermilion Valley Resort. I got the bear canister filled with my food from Olin and began taking inventory. I’m now eating twice as much as I had been eating. I noticed my granola and dried milk were not in the re-supply box. I must have messed up at home during my pre-packing. Ray also forgot to take my freezer bag out and pack it. But Tina & Olin and Ray made up for the shortage. Ray brought a large home mix, his special mix, of nuts-raisins-banana chips-and-cranberries, plus 2 plums and a grapefruit, lots of Snickers bars, honey oat bars, lemon drops, and jolly ranchers. Tina gave me some granola she said was from a specialty shop, and some dried milk. I found out my surprise was that I was having hamburgers for dinner. They were going to be cheeseburgers until Tina found out I needed cheese for my lunches. So she gave me a big hunk of cheese. Yes!

Plus she made some incredible chocolate chip cookies with carmel inside. Oh yes, yes!! Olin and Tina and Mike helped make the most welcome dinner I could have imagined. Lot’s of fat and protein! It was much needed and much appreciated.

I got the first burger cooked. It was probably over ¾ lb. of meat with tomato and lettuce on a big ole onion hamburger bun (the bun was nice and full and soft, not smashed!). They also made potatoes and carrots. I was blown away by the effort and thoughtfulness. It was not a lightweight dinner they carried all the way up and over Kearsage Pass (2,500 feet elevation gain). I think the elevation at the Pass is close to 12,000 feet.

All I can say is that I will never forget his act of kindness. It was the best dinner I could have ever imagined. I had run out of food and was famished. Mike was pretty happy with the surprise dinner too! Thank you, Thank you Tina & Olin!

And thank you to my husband, who, once again, went to any lengths to be of service to his wife. I feel very loved and appreciated today. It was great seeing everyone.

I’m all packed up and ready to take off tomorrow morning at 6am to take on Glen Pass. I’m a little nervous doing this alone after the snow experience at Forrester. I hear one mile of the trail is covered with snow on the north side. I’ve looked at the map and see that there is massive elevation gain and loss in the next 17 miles. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it over Punchot Pass too (17 miles from where I am). I don’t want to end up descending a Pass late and post holing in deep snow, especially alone. Maybe I’ll get lucky and run into other PCTers. I hope so. The snow on the Pass’s make me nervous.

Ray is asleep. It’s 9:47pm. I hope I can get to sleep right away. I want to get up at 5am. I’m ready to get back to daily hiking.

Gottago!

Sun. June 9, 2002  Days on Trail: 45
Destination: 1.7 miles short of Pinchot Pass Today's Miles: 15.7
Starting Location: Charlotte Lake Total Miles: 800.1
I didn’t sleep very well last night. As much as I loved sleeping with Ray in our Room-for-Three tent he brought, it was hard to sleep with someone else in the tent. I don’t think he slept much either.

I got up at 5am to get ready for my 6am start. I had all my food for the day sorted out and ready to go. I ate a Snickers for breakfast on the trail. It was hard saying goodbye to Ray. I know he misses me and worries about me. It was great seeing him and hard to say goodbye without emotion. I left fast ‘cause I don’t like goodbyes.

I hiked the 7/10ths of a mile up the trail from Charlotte Lake to where the PCT meets the Kearsage Pass trail. My trail actually went high above Charlotte Lake and I could see Mike walking by his tent. I called out “Ray!” but I don’t think he heard. I tried one more time before I turned back around to focus on what was in front of me.

It was cold. I wore my windstopper gloves and a Patagonia R1 over my hiking shirt. I started to lose the trail under snow very soon. I don’t like losing the trail. I always get worried I won’t find it. Often I waste lots of time trying to find where the trail resumes. There are footprints from previous hikers but sometimes they hike over rock and I can’t tell where they’ve gone.

It was lonely going up to Glen Pass by myself. It was beautiful with all the high, craggy, snow-covered peaks surrounding me, but I was scared going alone and didn’t focus on much other than my next step.

When I had to cross snowfields where the slope was steep, I really focused. I kept wondering why I was out here doing what I was doing?! I’d think, “What is a 57 year old woman, without a lot of snow skill and NO snow equipment (I forgot to pack my ski pole snow baskets, so my poles would not go deep down in the snow when I’d use them … not good for balance!) doing out here on this snowy mountain?”

When I got to top of the Pass, I was relieved, but not for long. All I could see was snow and no trail ahead of me. The footprints from previous PCTers were straight down. Two young boys were coming up. I asked them how the conditions were below. They said “fine”. Fine for them maybe!

I wanted to go up to the Pass and down the Pass early when the snow wasn’t too icy or too soft. I managed to get down the snowy face. I didn’t like a few spots where I’d have to step into the foot step ahead of me. When the foot step sloped too much downhill, it left me feeling vulnerable. I never looked to my left, where if I fell, I’d slide way too far.

Just as I got to where some boulders were visible, a couple sat waiting for a friend below. They kindly pointed out where the trial was under the snow. They talked about following the 3rd finger of rock. I kept asking what they meant. Oh well, I got down and it only took me, from the start of the ascent of Glen Pass to the descent - 4 hours! I had estimated on paper that my daily mileage in the high Sierras would be 17 miles a day. Forget it. Wrong.

I actually thought before I started this morning that I might be able to get over Pinchot Pass before it got too late in the day. I knew that wasn’t going to happen after I saw how long it took me to find my way down Glen Pass.

I don’t know why I didn’t enjoy today. I think a lot of it has to do with being afraid. I’m not looking forward to Pinchot Pass after Forrester and Glen. And THEN … I have Mather Pass!

After climbing to Glen Pass (11,978 feet), I descended to Woods Creek (8,492 feet). Just before Woods Creek, Goof and Stroller came hiking up behind me. Boy was I happy to see them. Then I hiked up to and a bit past Sawmill Pass trail (10,370 feet) and camped short of Pinchot Pass at about 11,200 feet.

I was tired and cold. I couldn’t get warm. I stopped hiking at 7pm, had a quick dinner, and got in my sleeping bag and tent and was cold all night. I woke up around 3am shivering. I’d shake my body trying to generate enough heat so I could fall back to sleep again.

Doesn’t this sound like fun? Wanna come and join me?

Mon. June 10, 2002 (a special day!)  Days on Trail: 46
Destination: 2.5 miles short of Mather Pass Today's Miles: 9
Starting Location: 1.7 miles short of Pinchot Pass Total Miles: 809.1
I didn’t get out of my bag until 7:11am. I was not looking forward to doing Pinchot Pass alone. I took off hiking up to Pinchot Pass at 8:11am. I kept losing the trail under the snow. I guess Stroller and Goof made it up and over last night.

While trying to figure out where I was with my compass and map, I looked up to see the two Joe’s. Boy was I happy to see them. They had followed my footprints, otherwise I wouldn’t have seen them ’cause I was off course. We tried to continue going the way I was going, but we dropped too far down (we’d gone past where the trail went left on higher ground). We were dealing with lots of water and boulders and snow too.

We hiked straight up snow slopes trying to get on the correct contour level and find the trail or footprints in the snow.

Taller Joe found the trail. He led the other Joe and I up the snow covered switchbacks and we finally got to the top 3 hours after I started! Again, today, before I started hiking, I’d hoped I could get up Mather Pass before it got too late in the day. After I saw how long it took going up Pinchot Pass, I knew I’d have to deal with afternoon soft snow. No thanks. Hence, the low mileage today.

The time of day dictates how far I can safely go over the Passes. I have many more Passes to go. Word is that Mather’s north side is second hardest to Forrester. Other things that slow me down are the creek and river fords. I had many today.

The “Joe’s” really were wonderful today. They were my saviors. We took many pictures on top of Pinchot Pass. I left before they did to descend, and later ran into them again where they helped me out once more. The South Fork Kings was running full and fast. Smaller Joe loaned me his sandals after he crossed. Taller Joe was the runner bringing me the sandals. I always feel so much safer when other people are with me during these fords. I had about 5 fords today. A couple of fords I should have taken my boots off and walked across. If I fell boulder hopping or log crossing, I’d be in big trouble.

For the last South Fork King ford, when I was alone, I did take my boots off and walk across. I knew boulder hopping on what was available was not safe.

While walking up the last 3-4 miles to where I am camped (2.5 miles below Mather Pass), I ran into 3 deer and then another deer a mile further up the trail. It’s beautiful in this lake filled basin, but I wish I had someone hiking with me.

Joe and Joe had stopped for a late lunch. I had hiked on up to where I’m camped. I made myself dinner at 5:30. I didn’t want to wait until later like last night ’cause the sun goes behind the mountains and it’s cold.

I wanted to go up with the Joe’s tomorrow, but I didn’t know where they’d camp. I was happy to see them coming up the trail as I was lying in my tent at 6:30. I let them know I’d love to go up the Pass when they did tomorrow. They are camped 200 yards away from me. I think they feel responsible for me. I hope so. I need them.

It’s 8:06pm. The sun is down and so am I. Burrrr! Good Night.

Tues. June 11, 2002 (H.B. Marion!)  Days on Trail: 47
Destination: 2.5 miles past Bishop Pass Trail Today's Miles: 18.5
Starting Location: 1.7 miles before Mather Pass Total Miles: 827.6
I slept well last night. I was still a little cold. I’m sleeping in my Patagonia Puffball over all my clothes I hike in. It’s been so cold I don’t want to take clothes off. AND because it’s been so cold and the days so full, I haven’t washed for three days. Gross!

I woke up at 5am. I wanted to be ready if the Joe’s got ready early, so at 5:30am I made myself get out of my bag. I was ready by 7am. I’d stalled long enough to see if they’d wake up. I went over to the tent and quietly said “good morning”. Not a sound. I left them a note and took off for Mather Pass.

I didn’t have too much trouble finding the snow covered trail before the actual steep ascent. Mather Pass is 12,100 feet. I had to climb another 1,100 feet or so.

Once the lower long switchback that contoured the base of the wall ended, the trail and where it was was anyone’s guess. Footprints headed straight up the snow covered boulder field. I guess the previous hikers were impatient. The snow was still a little icy and the straight up approach was not comfortable for me. I did start climbing the boulders when possible. I felt more comfortable on them than the snow, but I had no way to arrest myself if I slipped. Way up close to where the switchbacks were free of snow some of the time, I got stuck. I was on a boulder ledge and no longer felt safe. I kept looking to see if the Joe’s were on the mountain. I saw 2 people and thought at first it was the two Joe’s. I called down and asked if they were coming up this way, ’cause I didn’t feel safe alone. Katie, who I’d met at Kennedy Meadows, came right up to me. Once she was close by, I started to feel safer. She suggested I come down a couple of feet, traverse a snowfield and then climb up again on the boulders. I did what she suggested, and she and I climbed up to the switchbacks close to the top that was free of snow, except for the last snow ledge at the top.

Katie (Raven), Helene (her friend visiting from Europe), and Tom (Katie’s friend Spunky) and I all made the Pass together at 10am. I can’t believe how lucky I am. When I need people, they appear. We had something to eat and began the descent, which to be honest, scared the “_____” out of me. The snow at 11am was still a little icy and I didn’t feel real safe descending but followed everyone else. No one else seems to be the least bit scared. I don’t get it. The descent to Lower Palisade Lake, mostly snow, no trail, took until 12:20. We didn’t have the switchbacking trial so we went straight down which saved us mileage. At the very end of the Lower Palisade Lake, Tom saw many trout. I asked him if he wanted to try his luck fishing. He got his rod and reel out and Katie and Helene and I took a lunch break. When Tom came back with his line all twisted, I helped him untangle it. I’d also shown him the fisherman’s knot when he put his Meps lure on. He asked me after a while if I wanted to try my hand at catching some fish. I said “OK”.

They were impressed with the big trout I caught. It had a large swatch of orange running laterally along its side. I didn’t know what kind it was, but I did know how to clean and cook it in my little pot. I put about 5 little rocks in the bottom of my pot, filled the pot with 1-1/2” of water, rolled the fish in tin foil and then scrunched the fish into a circle to fit in the pot. After a boil, I cooked the fish for 5 minutes. Everyone had a little taste, it was great.

At 2pm I left to head down the Golden Staircase, down to Deer Meadow, down to the middle Fork Kings River, before ascending 700 feet to Bishop Pass Trail (where Mike Bolde hand delivered one of my food re-supplies last year when I was on the John Muir Trail).

Katie, Tom, & Helene and I had leapfrogged each other during the rest of the day and had decided to meet and have dinner at the Ranger’s Station at the Bishop Pass Trail.

The mosquitoes were horrible but I had myself all covered up. A deer came by, real close. He hung around looking at us all. He was not the least bit scared of humans. I bet the Ranger (he wasn’t there yet – too early in the season) feeds him or something to make the deer so comfortable with people.

It was 8:50 when I finished dinner. I went ahead to find a spot to camp while they finished eating. I was to hike 2 miles (or 1 hour) more. It was getting dark and I came to an area where many water sources from melting snow had flooded much of the area in front of me. There were also many fallen trees that had to be climbed over. I waited for the others because I didn’t know what to do. They arrived in 10 minutes and Tom led us all through the fallen trees and water. We hiked another ½ mile until he found the campsite I’d told him I’d slept in last year.

We got to camp at 9:20. It’s 10:47 now and that’s all for tonight. I had a great day. From one day to the next – everything changes. People make the difference.

Good night.

Wed. June 12, 2002  Days on Trail: 48
Destination: .7 miles past South Fork San Juaquin River Today's Miles: 18.2
Starting Location: 2.5 miles past Bishop Pass Trail Total Miles: 845.8
Each day a new beginning – Each day a new adventure on the PCT. What a day this turned out to be.

I got up early, 5am. I started to get ready to leave and left everyone still sleeping (Katie, Tom and Helene). I was going over Muir Pass today and hoped I’d end up going over with Katie, Tom and Helene. They hike faster than I and I didn’t want them to feel like they had to wait for me, so I started early hoping we’d get to the trail-finding part of the Pass together.

I actually lost the trail for a moment but decided I would find it and not wait for the others to come and help me. I found the trail and noticed 2 guys hiking down the Muir Pass. They were doing the John Muir Trail. They started June 1st, so they were making good time.

Tom, Katie and Helene were now right behind me. Tom is a great trail finder. However, we ended up climbing up boulders a lot today on our approach up to Muir Pass. The three of them hike fast and take NO breaks. So I was huffing and puffing trying to keep in their company. The trail was under snow. We followed old footprints or made new tracks depending on Tom’s choices. He does like to climb.

We found the snow melting, rather softening, rapidly. The softer it gets the harder it is to walk in, the more energy expended and time lost. So we hiked fast and continued without stopping. At 11:15 we reached Muir Hut. I was so out of energy. But I kept putting one foot in front of the other because I knew each minute I wasted meant more work.

We all had a quick bite to eat at the Hut. I had to make a nature call immediately. I hope I’m not getting giardiasis. I haven’t been treating my water lately as I get it from running springs or snow melted off flows. I can’t remember which of the many pills I have (for just-in-case situations) are the ones I take for giardiasis.

The descent was just as time consuming and awkward in the snow as was the ascent. The sun cups (depressions from faster melting snow) make walking harder. I kept slipping off the top of the sun cups. And because I forgot my snow baskets for my ski poles, each time I placed a pole too strong in the snow, it would sink through the snow and throw me off balance.

By the end of the day I didn’t want to see any more snow. We still had snow on the trail just past Evolution Lake. I also didn’t want one more river or creek ford.

I told Katie not to worry if I lagged behind. I told her I was going to take some time at Evolution Lake, it was sunny and the lake looked very inviting considering I needed to clean up myself and some clothes. I had a great break and felt totally rejuvenated after my quick jump in the lake.

On my way down the trail to McClure Meadows (5 miles), I had my clean wet clothes hanging off the back of my pack. I must have knocked my socks off ’cause when I stopped to change into the nylon, mosquito proof, pants I’d just washed, I noticed the socks missing. Just about that time Brian from England came by with my wool socks and red bandana. He said he didn’t pick up my white liner socks because they had fallen one at a time and he didn’t realize they went together until it was too late. He figured the clothing belonged to another PCTer. I was very happy to see him holding my clothes.

Gosh, there is so much to tell about today, but I’m so tired (10:32pm). I’ll just end with how lucky I was that Katie & Tom came back from the Evolution Creek crossing looking for another way to cross. They said the water was shoulder high and moving at the normal crossing.

Tom and Katie found a section of the creek 1/3 of a mile before the normal crossing and we all crossed. This water was still very forceful. I kept my boots and socks on, took off my pants and wore my pack dressed in my boots, underpants and shirt. So did Katie. We held hands going across and Tom came into the river below us, just in case. It was an experience I will not forget. But what was interesting and has been interesting all along, is that whenever I need someone’s help, someone appears. Katie and Tom really helped me the last 2 days. We are now camped on the San Juaquin and will leave early. They’ll leave for Florence Lake, me for Vermilion Valley Resort. I have 25.5 miles to VVR. Seldon Pass is next.

Thurs. June 13, 2002 - VERMILION VALLEY RESORT  Days on Trail: 49
Destination: Vermilion Valley Resort Today's Miles: 25.5
Starting Location: .7 miles past South Fork San Juaquin River Total Miles: 871.3
(written June 14th at 4pm)
Well, as it turned out, Tom (Spunky Edison), Katie (Raven), and Helene decided not to go to Florence Lake but to go directly to Vermilion Valley Resort.

So, this morning I got up and left camp at 6am knowing they would catch up to me before today’s Pass, Seldon Pass (10,900 ft.). I had passed some JMT hikers while ascending Muir Pass that had told me the snow wasn’t too bad on the Passes ahead from Seldon Pass to Donahue Pass.

It was easy downhill hiking going from 8,400 ft. to 7,890 ft. in a little over 6 miles. I liked the footing and try to make time going downhill to make up for how much time I take going uphill. After the first 6 miles, I began the switchbacks that took me up to the Sally Keyes Lakes (10,150 ft.).

I had left camp without eating breakfast and took a nice break to eat Tina’s last granola and dried milk while sitting looking at Mt. Henry and remembering how I felt while climbing that mountain 5 years ago on the Outward Bound trip. Lamont remembers very well.

[Transcribers note: Flashback sequence] This mountain summit was on the 3rd or 4th day of an Outward Bound 8-day High Sierra backpack. I met Lamont on this trip. I was the weak link in the group of 10 of us. Because of that, I learned to have compassion for the person having trouble. That trip was the beginning of my love for backpacking. It was also the beginning of the relationship I have with my best friend and financial advisor, Lamont. I’ll never forget the summit of Mt. Henry, my humiliation at how hard it was for me and how I held everyone up and the round table discussion after dinner. When I got back from the 13-hour day summit, I crawled in my sleeping bag to fall asleep and hide from the others. Lamont came by and said “missing dinner is not an option”. I wanted to miss dinner … but didn’t. After we all ate, we discussed the day. From the first person that shared (we went around in the circle) everyone mentioned what a message my summiting was to them. They talked about how hard it was for me and yet I still went on. I cried, they cried, and again, my perception was off about what they were thinking about me.

OK – back to today. It was a special time I had reflecting back while looking over at Mt. Henry. I took pictures of it and hope one turns out ok.

While on these never ending, mostly forested switchbacks, I saw deer and a grouse. I’d never seen a grouse before and it didn’t try to attack me like I’d heard others stories of being attacked. John (Pugent) actually got Julie being attacked by one on video.

Just before I began the ascent of Seldon Pass, Helene first, and then Tom and Katie, passed me. There was very little snow to be dealt with while ascending.

At the top, at 12:30, we took a long lunch break. Trying to glissade down the north side was impossible. The snow was too soft.

We all had the same thought in mind. Food!!! Get to Vermilion, or get close enough, for the morning ferry (9:45am) back to the resort. It was too late in the day for the other ferry pick up at 4:45pm.

We had a very long downhill day from Seldon Pass. All in all we hiked 25.5 miles. Only the 1.6 miles to Bear Ridge was uphill. That 900 ft. elevation gain came at 6:30pm though. We were tired and the mosquitoes seemed to be much worse than the rest of the day. The last two days we’ve had mosquitoes swarm us whenever we slowed down for a second.

After the climb, we stopped at the junction to cook dinner. We had 5miles to go down the 50+ switchbacks to the junction at Mono Creek, where we would then walk another mile to catch the ferry.

We began the descent at dusk and some of us put on our head lamps. We all counted each and every switchback. We were all tired and ready to be in our sleeping bags. At 10:30pm we crossed the bridge to the junction and threw up our tents. Our day was long, but I know we were all glad we were so close to creature comforts at VVR. Food, showers and clean clothes drive me to do super human feats.

I got into my bag and shut my eyes.

In the morning I, got up in my dirty old hiking clothes, didn’t brush my teeth, didn’t eat, didn’t take pills, just started to pack up after I put my boots on. I wanted to get to the ferry … now!

Just as I was getting ready, Yogi, Cupcake, Little Ewok and Sundance (they are getting married in Yosemite) and Happy Jo walked by. They were in a hurry to get to the ferry! They had to have gotten up at 5am and started descending the switchbacks down Bear Ridge to be at the junction where we camped by 7:10am.

I’m at VVR now and everyone who is here has talked about how thrashed they feel from the last 5 days of hiking the 4 hardest Passes (except for the hardest one – Forrester Pass) – Glen, Pinchot, Mather and Muir. The snow conditions have really added to the physical and emotional demands. I know for a fact, I much prefer hiking when the trails and passes are free of snow. I’m glad to find I’m not the only one who feels depleted.

Misery loves company.

Fri. June 14, 2002   Days on Trail: 50
Destination: Vermilion Valley Resort Today's Miles: 0 (1 mi. to ferry)
Starting Location:  Mono Creek Junction with VVR Total Miles: 871.3
After I saw Yogi, Cupcake, Happy Jo, Little Ewok, and Sundance head to the ferry landing, I left our campsite within 10 minutes. Helene, Tom (Spunky Edison), and Katie (Raven) got to the landing 45 minutes later.

I wanted to jump in the lake and clean up a bit. So when I arrived and heard Cupcake and Happy Jo had already gone in the water, I followed suit, without much thought.

I couldn’t believe how much the cold water hurt my body. I quickly got to shallow water, so I could give my hair one last rinse after having dived under the water to get it wet.

The few seconds of pain were worth it. I loved feeling cleaner. We all sat on the smooth boulders at waters edge. At the ferry landing were Yogi, Cupcake, Little Ewok, Sundance, Happy Jo and myself. Then Tom, Katie and Helene showed up. Liz & Simon appeared too. It was good to see them again. Cheryl (Lady Leaper) and Scott came by too. Cheryl is someone I had emailed back and forth with prior to the trip.

When the ferry arrived at the landing at 9:45am, Julie (LE) & John (Pugent) were getting back on the trail, as were some other hikers I didn’t know.

The ferry ride is about 20 minutes to VVR. It felt so good to get off the trail. We all checked in at the store counter and started a tab for the duration of our stay. Showers are $5.00. You get a bar of soap and a towel. There is a washer and dryer outside for anyone’s use. The soap is supplied too. The restaurant has food!!! Good food and great pie ala mode.

There are tent cabins (canvas covered with bunk type cots), 4 to 6 in each cabin. Cabin #2 and #4 are for hikers. Hikers get the first night free. Your first drink is also free. There are trailers set about the property that are available. I’m in one with Yogi and Cupcake.

There are two bathrooms, each with a shower. In the restaurant there is indoor seating for about 25 or less, and just outside is a connecting patio that has a number of tables.

Tonight they BBQ’d. The special was a combo of tri-tip, BBQ chicken and BBQ ribs, baked potatoes, veggies and garlic bread. I had another pie ala mode. I ate with Happy Jo, Patrick (Stroller) and Goof. Patrick and Goof made it to VVR in 3-1/2 days, compared to my 5 days, from Kearsage Pass. They both were not feeling well and are staying here for a few days.

After I arrived this morning, I spent the rest of the day until dinner getting reorganized. I cleaned out my pack of trash, washed my pot and water bottles, washed all my clothes, got rid of old food, went through my re-supply food box and supplemented it with some more food from the store. I weighed myself on the old scale they have in front of the store. You weigh and then they tell you it weighs you in at 5 pounds heavier than you are. I normally weigh 134 pounds. My weight on the scale, without any correction, said 121. Not that I think the number is right, but if I took off 5 lbs. more, my weight would be 116. That means I have lost 18 pounds. I am way too thin but I can’t believe I lost that much weight. I try and eat all the time. In Tuolumne Meadows, I’m going to buy some olive oil to add to all my dinners.

I want to get back on the trail tomorrow morning on the 9am ferry. Yogi, Happy Jo and Cupcake are leaving on the 4:45 ferry. I think I’ll stay and rest tomorrow morning and leave with them. My mind says “Gottago” – but my body says, “listen to what others are doing”. We all hiked until 10:30 or 11:00 last night, so we really do need some downtime.

It’s 9:45pm and everyone is out at either a beach fire roasting marshmallows or listening to people sing and play instruments around another fire. I’m on a pull-out bed in a trailer, in my sleeping bag, ready to put an end to this writing and put my head down and feel warm tonight. I can’t wait. Thanks to all whose mail I read today. I loved getting it.

Good night. Gottago!

Sat. June 15, 2002   Days on Trail: 51
Destination: .1 mile past Re-Ford North Fork Mono Creek Today's Miles: 4.3
Starting Location: Vermilion Valley Resort Total Miles: 875.6
It was wonderful waking up this morning in my sleeping bag, on the couch in the trailer, with Yogi and Cupcake. I so enjoyed seeing it was 7am and rolling back over to go in and out of sleep for the next hour.

The three of us went in to have a huge breakfast and then went back to the trailer to sleep until 11:30am. Our room (the trailer) had to be vacated by noon. We didn’t get too much sleep but it was nice lying around.

The rest of the time before we all left on the 4pm ferry back to our trail head was taken up with re-organizing food for the 3-1/2 days it will take to get to Tuolumne Meadows, making phone calls, having lunch, and more pie ala mode and talking.

The Tradition at VVR is that every backpacker gets their picture taken before they leave. The picture, with your name, is placed in a photo album labeled with the year. Yogi, Cupcake and I had our picture taken together. It was fun when we got to VVR to see who was ahead of us. Others will enjoy seeing our pictures.

We were left off by the ferry and started hiking at 4:40pm. We have a big Pass in front of us. Silver Pass (10,900’) is 6 miles from the ferry drop off point.

I hiked with Yogi and Cupcake. It was so nice to be with Yogi again and I look forward to spending more time with Cupcake.

We had a few easy creek fords where we had to take off our boots. The mosquitoes sure like it when you stop to take your boots off. This 3M product I have, which contains something like 35% deet in a cream base, works well for me. I only have to apply a little on my hands and face. I’m covered with my long sleeve nylon shirt and long zip off nylon pants.

We started at an altitude of 8,270’. As we continued hiking, the rocky trail got steeper. We came to one creek ford that was totally intimidating. We frantically looked up and down creek. The North Fork Mono was moving and deep. We noticed Happy Jo, Sundance and Little Ewok down creek. They had a route that seemed to work but required spotters to readily assist if someone needed help.

I can’t believe how fortunate we were that Happy Jo and Sundance stayed and assisted Yogi, Cupcake and myself across the creek. Had we fallen, I’d hate to think what the outcome would have been. Actually, yesterday, we met a couple at VVR and the woman had fallen in at this first hard crossing.

Happy Jo and Sundance were turning blue from staying in the water so long to help us all get across. Again, just when I need it, some one (or two) are put in my path.

They helped us with the next re-ford too. Cupcake helped Yogi and I. We are hopeful this is the last ford of the Mono. We ended our evening around 8pm, just 1/10th of a mile past the last ford when we ran into Happy Jo, Sundance and Little Ewok camped on a rock and sand ledge overlooking the route we had just covered. They had a fire going and we joined them for the night. We all made our dinners around the campfire.

It’s 10:21. Good night. Gottago!

Sun. June 16, 2002 (Happy Father’s Day!)  Days on Trail: 52
Destination: Red’s Meadow Today's Miles: 25.1
Starting Location: .1 mile past Re-Ford North Fork Mono Creek Total Miles: 900.7
I got going at 5:15am so as to be ready when the others were ready to hike. I hadn’t asked what time everyone was planning on hiking.

We were about 2.7 miles from Silver Pass. The morning felt very cold. Happy Jo, Little Ewok and Sundance took off first. I left just before Yogi and Cupcake. I hiked fast hoping I’d warm up. I hadn’t put gloves on and my hands were numb from being so cold.

We were camped at an elevation of 9,700’. The Pass was 10,900’. Yogi and Cupcake caught up to me and shortly thereafter we had to take our outer shirts off. There was very little snow covering the trail. There was snow, but unlike most of the other Passes, the trail could easily be followed. Because we left so early, the snow was a little icy.

We reached the summit in no time but descended without taking a break. The snow on the north side was riddled with sun cups. Because the snow was still hard, we didn’t want to waste any time going down. When the snow gets softer, it’s harder to stay on the top edges of the sun cups.

Cupcake, Happy Jo, Little Ewok and Sundance took off together after a short break. Yogi and I followed and spent the rest of the day hiking together.

The others had needs at the Red’s Meadow store, so they hustled – Happy Jo had to re-supply at the store which only stayed open until 7pm. We had 25 miles to go to get to Red’s Meadow.

Today’s hike was quite calm and uneventful. Yogi and I saw a grouse. He flew away up into a tree. We had small creek fords, no big snowfield crossings. It was a full day of hiking with a few short breaks. We wanted to get to Red’s Meadow too. We hoped to make it by 7pm to have dinner at the restaurant.

The others made it by 5pm. Yogi and I made it to Red’s Meadow by 6:20pm. We had dinner, made phone calls, Happy Father’s Day! and bought some things in the store.

We decided to spend the night at the backpacker’s campground next to the natural hot springs showers. Boy, was that half hour shower I had great. The hot water felt so good. When I got out (I’d already set up my tent), I went into my “cave” and started reviewing tomorrows travel day as well as write my journal.

It’s 9:55 and I’m clean and comfy in my sleeping bag. I hope the two Pepsi’s I had don’t prevent a dreamy dozing off. What a luxury to be clean and warm.

Gottago – Good night.

Mon. June 17, 2002  Days on Trail: 53
Destination: : Marie Lakes Trail Today's Miles: 19.8
Starting Location: Red’s Meadow Total Miles: 920.7
(writing the 17th & 18th entries on Tuesday, 9:20pm, June 18th)
Our normal departure time from camp seems to be around 6:15am. We all walked back to the Red’s Meadow store to pick up the trail.

Yogi and I continued hiking while the others used the phone or talked about waiting for the restaurant to open at 7am.

We decided to hike the PCT’s High Trail. There were other alternate routes, one I took by Shadow Lake last year on the JMT. I’d always been curious about the trail where the JMT and PCT split off from each other for about 13 miles. The High Trail also goes through Agnew Meadow, which I’d never seen.

Yogi and I met a man named Bob who lives in the area of Mammoth and was out for a day hike. He is 73 years old and has the nicest personality. We stopped and talked for a while about our PCT hike. He was very impressed and complimentary. I needed to have his “pat on the back”. I gave him a hug and told him how special it was meeting him. Hope I get a chance to see him when I’m in Mammoth. We haven’t met many hikers other than other PCTers. It was fun.

The hiking day, however, wasn’t fun. I mentioned to Yogi that we seemed to be doing more elevation gain this day than we do when we have a Pass. I felt as if the entire day was uphill. Yogi and I discussed stopping for lunch when we found the awesome view of Ritter and Banner (2 glacier covered incredible mountains near Mammoth) described in the guide book but we couldn’t wait. We needed a break from going uphill in the heat as much as we needed lunch.

At about 5pm we all (Cupcake, Happy Jo, Sundance, Little Ewok, Yogi and I) stopped at magnificent Thousand Island Lake for a snack before ascending to Island Pass where we would have dinner. (Note - more uphill!) I gave away much of my extra food I was still carrying and wouldn’t need. It lightened my pack and the others enjoyed my goodies.

As we were going up Island Pass, I was elated to find very little snow on the trail. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t snow, but that the trail was always apparent just beyond portions covered. My elation didn’t last very long though. Yogi had just climbed up a steep snowfield covering the trail. She was the second to last in the line up of hikers, and I was the last. She was close enough for me to see her turn to me and point to the crossing, but she was still a couple hundred yards ahead of me.

I went up the snowfield and looked for the trail on the other end. I didn’t look long. Instead, I got too smart for myself and figured I knew where the Pass was. I thought, “Anyone can tell where the low point is.” But to make sure, I took a bearing from the map and followed that bearing up some boulders to the top. Problem was, once I was on top, I couldn’t see anyone. I panicked and took some more bearings and followed them. I crossed the top of the mountain ridge, crossing snow, avoiding snow, looking for my friends. I got scared. I wanted to cry. I felt as if I was 5 years old and had gotten separated from my Dad or Mom at the zoo.

I kept looking at the map. I oriented it with Ritter and Banner Mountains and Thousand Island Lake. I kept walking west hoping to find the trail or my friends. I’d look at the map … get confused … look at the map … blow my whistle … want to cry … said “buck up Linda”… and kept moving toward where the trail was supposed to be. I had this big body of water (was it snow melt pooled? or a small lake?) in my way. I didn’t want to go too far north in case the others were looking for me. So I walked south and heard a voice! I yelled, “Help” and blew my whistle 3 times. It turned out it was Sundance who had become concerned about where I was. He’d come looking for me. I was so happy and relieved. He came over to where I was and we started to walk back to where everyone was eating dinner. Before we reached where everyone was stopped, I noticed Yogi running toward Sundance and me. She looked very concerned. Right behind her, Happy Jo was running toward me on the trail, with full pack, his trekking poles moving as fast as his long strided legs.

What I learned after I got back to camp was, that before Sundance left to look for me, Happy Jo had told him to take his whistle and blow it 3 times if there was an emergency. Little Ewok had given Happy Jo a full emergency medical kit too. So when they all heard me yell “Help” followed by a whistle blown 3 times, they all got into emergency mode. Little Ewok was looking for a place for us to camp for the night.

I was relieved and embarrassed. Yogi said that there had been another emergency too. It seems Cupcake couldn’t make it over the snow and to the dirt in time to where he wanted to poop. Cupcake came back to where everyone was sitting without bottoms on because he had soiled in his pants.

I was out of it. I ate my dinner fast and then we started hiking to Marie Lakes. I fell 2 times because I was so spent from the physical and emotional stress of the day. At 9:30 we camped. I’ve never been so happy to have a day be over. I made myself Olin’s protein powder drink and passed out.

Tues. June 18, 2002 - TUOLUMNE MEADOWS  Days on Trail: 54
Destination: Tuolumne Meadow Lodge Today's Miles: 15.5`
Starting Location: Marie Lakes Trail Total Miles: 936.0
Again we started hiking at 6:15. We thought we’d have some hard river fords based on what the PCT guide book had described, but all the creek fords had bridges now built over them.

The climb, 2.8 miles, up to Donahue Pass (11,056’) from Marie Lakes Trail (10,030’) where we had camped, seemed long. I was just tired of uphill. There was snow we had to walk over and I was tired of snow. It was windy, especially as we neared the top. Since last night’s episode with me being the slower and always behind, Yogi stayed behind me. Then, when she was finding the snow covered trails better than I, she went in front of me, but always looking back. I forgot to mention how Little Ewok had volunteered to walk behind me last night after dinner until we reached camp. Now, Little Ewok is 22 and took very good care of me. Everyone has taken good care of me. I really enjoyed it (but also felt guilty about holding every one up) when Yogi kept saying, “No” when I’d offer her to go ahead of me.

We got to Donahue Pass around 8:15, had a short snack break, and self timed group photo, before heading down through some snow covered trail near the top. Everything looked quite different from when Lamont and I had climbed up the Pass last year.

The last 11 miles, from the top of the Pass to Tuolumne, we speed walked. Well, to me it was speed walking any way.

As we got lower, the trails were quite muddy. It made for real good viewing of the massive bear footprints we all saw on the muddy trial.

I was ready to get to town. After a break everyone took, I felt my left planter tendon tighten. I took off walking before they were ready to leave.

I ended up at Tuolumne Lodge. I got a room (a tent cabin with 4 cots, a table and chair, and wood burning stove). Cupcake and Yogi arrived as I was getting the tent. At first they didn’t want to get a room, but later changed their minds. Mark (Bushwacker) also is sleeping in one of the cots.

We all showered and caught a bus to the store in Tuolumne. I picked up the re-supply package Ray packed with my repaired trekking poles, new balaclava polypro gloves, the wrong kind of liners socks (sorry, Babe), and lots of other edible goodies. Thank you Ray.

Bob Gross (T Bob) was at the store. Ray and I met he & his wife at the Annual PCTA meeting. He recognized me. He gave me a ride back to the Lodge and then later drove me back to the store for luncheon meat and cheese. He’d been off the trail and had his car, which his wife will later pick up. Another trail angel! We (Matt, Mark, Cupcake, Leslie and her husband - Bob’s friend, Dave and his wife) had dinner at the Lodge. They made me eat and eat ’cause everyone says I’m too thin.

Back to the tent for some chit chat until I felt guilty about not writing my journal. It’s 10:40pm – Good night – Gottago.

Wed. June 19, 2002  Days on Trail: 55
Destination: Virginia Canyon Trail Today's Miles: 14.8
Starting Location: Tuolumne Meadow Lodge Total Miles: 950.8
It felt so good waking up in a bed. I got cold in the night and had to pull on the heavy blanket at the foot of my bed. Before we went to sleep, Yogi had the potbelly wood-burning fireplace going full force.

Yogi and I picked the cot beds furthest away from the stove. At first, we thought we’d made a mistake by letting Cupcake and Bushwacker have the cots next to the fireplace. It was cold in our tent cabin when we returned after dinner. Within minutes of getting the fireplace going, the tent was unbearably hot. When Mark (Bushwacker) came into the tent and sat on his bed, he had to open the window (just a piece of drawstring on canvas). Yogi and I had to move Cupcake and Bushwacker’s personal belongings on the floor away from the fireplace for fear they’d catch on fire.

Anyway, at 6:45, I was still lying under the covers enjoying sleeping in, when Yogi said, “Linda … breakfast is in 15 minutes.” Of course I got up. I’m always hungry.

Seating for breakfast in the Lodge has a system. You sign up on a sheet only when all of your party is ready. We (Cupcake, Yogi, Bushwacker and I) were ushered in and seated at a table for 9 with another family. It turned out to be a good thing being seated with this family. Earlier in the morning when I went to put my glasses on to see what time it was, I broke them. I brought them with me to the restaurant and mentioned to Greg, the son of the family we were seated with, if he could fix them. He got a pair of pliers and I had my glasses back in one piece again.

After breakfast, around 8am, I made phone calls. I was sorry I didn’t get to speak with Ray, but I did have great chats with Deb and Lamont.

I knew I was ready to get back on the trail. I’d booked the room for 2 nights but could cancel the second night if I wanted to. They were very nice at the Lodge. The other 3 people were allowed to stay without paying. I went through my food again, for the second time, trying to lighten my pack weight without sacrificing caloric needs. I gave my extras to other hikers. They all get very happy when I’m going through my food.

Carrying 7 days of food makes for a very heavy pack. At least I don’t have to carry more than a quart of water at a time because I’ll be by water most of the day.

I checked out at 11am. Yogi and I walked the trail to the store. I had to send back Ray’s trekking poles I’d used when my tips broke. Ray had mine repaired and sent those back to me.

We found many hikers at the store. Doing what? What else … eating lunch before they took off. After lunch, most of us ate ice cream bars. When we’re in town, we eat non-stop, trying to give our bodies the needed calories.

I met the Father and Son traveling the trail – Ed & Peter. I hope I get to hike with them. I liked them. I’m not good at ages, but I’d say the Son was around 50 and the Dad around 70.

Smokey was at the picnic table in front of the store. Flutter By and Fancy Nancy went to Mammoth, and Smokey, who’d been traveling with them, had had enough of town visits with people he didn’t know.

Matt (Iron Chef) was getting his food all organized at another picnic table. Tom (Spunky Edison) and Katie (Raven) were also there. Josh and Matt rented Garcia bear canisters. It was fun, everyone was eating something from the grill or getting their food and packs ready. Lady Leaper and Scott were on a bench at the store. Yogi had a hot dog – I had a hot dog – Mark (Bushwacker) had french fries.

Yogi, Bushwacker and I took the shuttle bus to the PCT trail head going to Glen Aulin. We started hiking at 12:40. We hiked until dusk.

This is the first time I have hiked in an unknown area. From Tuolumne Meadows on, everything is new to me. It was a beautiful day. Warm. Big white puffy clouds against the dark blue sky. The trail is geared toward tourists needs. There are stepping stone rock stairs everywhere. I couldn’t wait to get far enough away from the day hiker scene. See, I’m already a snob.

I was going to hike alone, but ended up with Yogi and Bushwacker. Yogi and Cupcake were going to hike together, but we didn’t know where he was. Yogi left a note for him on the bulletin board.

It’s funny – I can’t wait to get into town. I’m tired, hungry, and ready to not be hiking anymore. Every day I question, “Why am I doing this trip?” Then, once I’m in town, filled up, rested, and reorganized – I’m ready to go and get back on the trail.

While hiking today we ran into Greg, the teenager who fixed my glasses. He and his girlfriend, Kim, were sitting on the bridge over the Tuolumne River just before the waterfalls up ahead. Then we ran into Lady Leaper and Scott having their dinner early. I met a man named Billy Goat. He has long gray hair and walks my pace. Actually, we ended up camping together tonight.

We had 2 creek crossings that we were concerned about – Return Creek and McCabe Creek, down in Virginia Canyon. We wanted to cross them tonight so we wouldn’t have to worry about them all night. While crossing Return Creek, I asked for help. Billy Goat came out and took my hand. My feet hurt on the rocks in the creek. I still don’t have my sandals to use. My left foot, with the sore plantar tendon, has trouble taking all my weight on the rocks without proper support. I don’t feel real stable in the creek. I got wet up to the top of my legs. We camped 100’ feet after crossing Return Creek on an open grassy area. Looks like primo bear country. Yogi and Bushwacker tied the ursack food bags to trees. I’m sleeping with my food. We all have rocks by our tents. We also have rocks in our cook pots to make noise if any bears come. What a great “ending thought” for me to fall asleep with!

Good night. Gottago.

Thurs. June 20, 2002  Days on Trail: 56
Destination: PCT and Benson Lake Trail Today's Miles: 17.2
Starting Location: Virginia Canyon Trail Total Miles: 968
I didn’t want to get out of my bag this morning. I should have known right then that this day was going to be the kind of day it was ... HARD and confusing.

My tent was sopping wet. I tried to lay it out over a tree to dry it a little, but no luck. We slept on grass and everything felt wet.

Billy Goat was gone when I got out of my tent at 5:36am. Mark was very close to being ready to hit the trail.

Yogi left 10 minutes before I did, at 6:30, and I was alone most of the day.

Today’s hike involved many ups and downs, and many more creek fords. The trail is not signed very much and often the trail is confusing when it travels over the rock slabs.

To put it mildly, I did not like today’s hike at all. I had trouble with my breathing on the uphills, and the downhills were so rocky I had to concentrate on each foot plant. I must have had 10 creek crossings, 8 of them I had to take my boots off before crossing. Taking off my pack, boots and socks, and then drying my feet, and putting back on my socks, boots and pack, all the while swatting the hordes of mosquitoes, takes time. I don’t have sandals so the stones in the water hurt my feet. I have to move slowly, so my feet are in the freezing water longer.

The mosquitoes are out in full force. They know the second you stop. They are all over you. I’m lucky the 3M deet product I’m using really works.

I don’t even want to write about today I hated it so much. My mind is telling me to get off at the 108 and forget the last ½ of this 7-day section hike. I won’t of course, but I think it.

There was snow on the trail again. I got lucky. Smokey walked by as I was stopping for a second. I followed him and couldn’t believe how much I needed him to come by at just that moment. As soon as we started hiking together, the trail took a turn westward up into, first, rock, where the trail was hard to find, and then, up into more snow covered trail. Smokey was very good at trail finding and probably saved me an hour or two if I’d been on my own.

He eventually moved ahead of me.

I got a little freaked going through the dark forest area on the trail to Benson Lake. I also had a nightmare of a time crossing the creek just before the Benson Lake turn off. I don’t even want to waste time looking up the name of the creek it pissed me off so much.

When I first saw the broad deep expanse of creek, I just shook my head! I looked up and down stream for a good crossing. There were two different sets of logs across the creek to the left. I went out on the furthest log to a point where I had to hang back away from some branches on the dead tree to get around to the rest of the log. I just didn’t feel safe. If the branch I would have held onto to lean back over the creek had broken, I’d have been in big trouble. The water was deep and I would have gotten wet, my pack would have gotten wet, and who knows what else.

I decided to backtrack. Play it safe. I tried the next log. I jumped from one dead log to the next and sank into the water as the log moved with my weight. It threw me off balance and I fell back and down against another log. My foot and leg and bottom of my pack went into the water. I had trouble getting up under the weight of my pack, but did. I was pissed … why hadn’t I tried the first log?

I decided to look for a shallow part of the creek. No more tree crossings. I was too shaken up. I went back to where the trail was on the creek. Everything was too deep. I found a spot to the right of the trial up a ways. I was so disgusted and fed up with cold water and rocks hurting my feet during the crossings, I walked right in with my boots and long pants on. The water came up to my thigh. I then had to cross another creek to get back to the land with the trail. That was scary too, crossing over all these dead logs. The land was marshy. I had much water to avoid once on the land but my boots were already wet, so I didn’t care what I walked through. (I later found out another hiker crossed the creek at the trail and found himself trying to swim to the other side when the water came up to his neck!)

I came to the junction of Benson Lake. I didn’t see the arrow Yogi had drawn directing me to turn right, so I turned left. ¼ mile later I ended up at Benson Lake. There were so many mosquitoes I could barely see anything else. I knew I was in the wrong place. I had my map out when Josh came by. Saved again! He was going to camp there with Raven and Spunky but couldn’t stand the mosquitoes. He and I walked back to where I’d missed the turn.

He was waiting for Raven and Spunky, and I wanted to find a campsite. I really wanted to hike more, but my boots were so heavy with all the water in them. I knew I’d have a hard time going up the 2+ miles (1,400’) to Seavey Pass. I just wanted this day to be over even though I didn’t do the mileage I’d wanted.

Josh left a note for Raven and Spunky telling them we’d be at the next level camp area.

We all had dinner. We’re so low that we are in bear country. I have my food in my tent. They have canisters. I hope tonight is better than today. Let there be NO bears so I can sleep and wake up in a better mood. That’s it! Good night. 9:33pm.

Fri. June 21, 2002  Days on Trail: 57
Destination: 1 mile past junction east to Tilden Lake Today's Miles: 17.7
Starting Location: PCT and Benson Lake Trail Total Miles: 985.7
I got up early this morning and took off hiking just before 6am because I wanted to get to the “voluminous Kerrick Canyon Creek Crossing”, 6 miles into my hike, around the time Josh, Tom (Spunky) and Katie (Raven) would be getting there. Because I hike slower, I leave earlier. Had I not wasted over an hour with last nights creek crossing and had I not gotten my boots wet, I would have hiked another 1-1/2 hours and arrived at Windless Lake where Yogi, Bushwacker, Bob, Don & Leslie were camped.

I had a big climb to Seavey Pass ahead of me, 2.8 miles, from my starting elevation of 7,560’ to 9,180’. This section of the PCT has been harder for me than the High Sierra Passes. The area seems like a maze of passes and canyons. We seem to be climbing more daily altitude gain and loss than ever. It’s very hard on me. At times I look up to see the beautiful mountains around me, but most of the time I’m struggling with either catching my breath, drinking water, watching my footing, or adjusting my pack. I sound pretty negative and I guess I am. I don’t know how to change my attitude from one of resenting snow on the trail (still), to having difficulty, at times, finding the trail, to going up to just come down again.

I’ve been happy that I’m not alone in this section. Tom and Katie helped me again with the creek crossing. Tom brought Katie’s sandals back across to me for me to wear on the creek crossing.

At the crossing, I saw T-Bob (Teacher Bob). I’d met he and his wife, Linda, when Ray and I went to the PCTA annual meeting this year. He is hiking with a couple, Leslie & Don, who live in Fort Collins. Today I spent the day hiking with Bob, Leslie, Don and Billy Goat. Billy Goat is a 65 year old retired railroad man. He and I hike the same pace. We are all camped together tonight. I didn’t want to stop at 5:15pm but I needed to. I was tired and I felt good eating and camping with everyone. Billy Goat and I are going to start hiking at 5:30am tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to more snow and exposure just before Sonora Pass, 26 miles away. There is an alternate route that I’m going to look at that doesn’t go to 10,800’. The snow is really freaking me out. But I’ll see. The distance to Echo Lake is going to take longer than I expected. I always pack more than enough food, so I’m not concerned I won’t have anything to eat. I think this section will take me about 8+ days, not the 7 I had planned.

This is the first night I’ll be putting my head down while it’s still light out. I’m looking forward to many hours of sleep. I’m just in my bag, no tent. My food is next to me on the ground. I tied my ursack to a big rock. I hope the bear, whose footprints we saw on the muddy trail, is still heading in his southerly direction.

I have my mosquito net on my head as I lay in my sleeping bag writing. These pesky little things are seriously trying to upset me.

It’s 8:15 and everyone is in their sleeping bag. We are all spread out.

Good night – Gottago.

Sat. June 22, 2002  Days on Trail: 58
Destination: : Leave jeep road at a switchback Today's Miles: 20
Starting Location: /2 mile past junction east to Tilden Lake Total Miles: 1005.2
Today I passed the 1,000 mile point on the PCT! I was with Billy Goat, and Matt had just come by. I can’t believe I’ve walked this far.

Last night Billy Goat and I had decided we would start hiking at 5:30am. I had high hopes of putting in over 20 miles and getting to the 108 Highway after Sonora Pass. I’ve been dreading this Pass with all its snow and exposure.

My sleeping bag had frost all over it. I stuffed it wet. I’d gotten up last night as I was lying in my sleeping bag and took my food bags I had lying next to me and put them in a tree. I got nervous thinking I didn’t want a bear coming that close to me. I really didn’t know how to defend my food once the bear got a hold of it. So rather than lay awake worrying, I got up and did a bad job of hanging the food. The ursack bear bag (Tina's double bag) I tied to the tree.

I woke up at 5:08 and knew I had to hustle to be ready to leave at 5:30. No breakfast, no brushed teeth, no pills.

At 5:33 we walked off. It was cold but both Billy Goat (65 years old) and I walk our fastest and strongest in the morning.

The trail was slightly uphill, north through the valley. The trail and surrounding ground were very wet. We walked constantly, moving on and off the trail, to avoid all the snow melt accumulated water everywhere. Our boots got wet. We made good mileage, which made me feel good.

Actually, today’s entire hike was easy for me. There weren’t any large elevation gains until much later.

Because Billy Goat and I walk the same pace it’s fun to hike with him. He’s good company. We like to stop and take breaks around the same time. At Sonora Pass, his wife will pick him up in the RV and take Billy Goat back to do the High Sierras, which he had skipped. He wanted to go through them with less snow on the mountains.

At 4pm, Billy Goat and I stopped at a campground, right after the last water, before going up to Sonora Pass. I think it was Kennedy Canyon Creek. We decided to rest, make dinner and wait for Don, Leslie and Bob.

Earlier in the day I was seriously thinking about taking the alternate route up to Highway 108 rather than go over the high snowy crests where there was exposure where a fall would be “potentially lethal”. I went over the details of the alternate route with Billy Goat. I wanted him to go with me but I knew (1) he was tired and didn’t want to go that far and (2) he preferred to do the traditional PCT route over Sonora Pass.

I kept going back and forth in my mind as to what I should do. I worried that no one would be taking the alternate route. I’d be out there all alone. I wouldn’t be able to find the trails because no one would be on that trail. That there wouldn’t be any footprints in the snow to follow when the trail was covered. I worried and vacillated. Finally I decided.

When Bob, Don and Leslie arrived, I talked them into eating dinner and hiking up a few miles afterwards. Bob wasn’t happy with me and my idea. He got quiet. But everyone started hiking up the long gravel rock, switchback path, to our campsite at 10,486’. Alan (Pur boy) and Cupcake also arrived at our dinner campsite before we started hiking. Cupcake took off first, then me, Billy Goat, Bob, Don and Leslie.

We left our dinner spot at 5:50 and arrived at our incredible campsite at 7:30.

We are all camping on the jeep road on the top ridge of this Sierra crest with views of the Yosemite Mountains as well as other mountains I can’t name. It’s quiet up here. The wind has stopped. We are all sleeping in our sleeping bags, no tents, all in a row on this old abandoned jeep road along the crest ridge. We will have the morning sun to walk and warm us. What an incredible place to sleep and what a great way to celebrate our 1,000 mile mark!

It’s 9:20pm. Good night. Gottago.

Sun. June 23, 2002  Days on Trail: 59
Destination: .2 miles short of junction atop Wolf Creek Today's Miles: 12
Starting Location: Leave jeep road at a switchback Total Miles: 1017.3
We didn’t get up early this morning. We had 7.7 miles of passes and notches to cross – all over 10,500'. This section is the section I’ve feared, the 7+ miles before we reach Sonora Pass. The highest crest is 10,870’. There will be snow because of the altitude and north facing exposures. So … we did not want to start early and hike on icy snow. Much too dangerous.

We had the sun to warm us as we all lay in our sleeping bags until we finally left at 8am. I made the decision to do the regular route over to Sonora Pass. I was scared, but felt good about being with other people.

It was a long morning. It took us until 12:15 before we reached Sonora Pass, Highway 108. The hiking was slow going over the steep snow covered trail. The snow was hard, but not icy, most of the time. I looked only straight ahead at the next snowy footprint I had to put my foot in. I never looked down the mountain. Had I fallen, I could not have stopped myself. One hiker did fall. She fell about 10’ before, thankfully, landing on rocks.

What helped me the most was that Bob gave me one of his trekking poles that had a snow basket on it. He took one of my poles that didn’t have snow baskets. I forgot to put the snow baskets in my re-supply box. (I really missed them in the High Sierra too). They prevent the pole from sinking deep into the snow, which causes me to lose balance. So having one trekking pole with cups really helped. I used it in my uphill hand. Another thing that helped was Don, Leslie’s husband, would go before Leslie and me and kick good steps into the snow on the steep traverses. A good step keeps you from sliding.

For me, it was physically and emotionally tiring. Often we would go on the rocks and dirt to avoid dangerous icy snow. Because of all the snow-melt water, the dirt was muddy and just as slippery as the snow.

I couldn’t wait for this section to be over. It was the most incredibly beautiful area, but I just wanted to be down on Highway 108.

When we finally arrived at the highway 4-1/2 hours after we started, we found a note from Billy Goat saying they were having a picnic in the campground near the parking lot. Trail Mary (like Hail Mary or Meadow Mama Mary), Billy Goat’s wife, had made soup, had crackers, water and fruit for us. Matt was there too. Trail Mary enjoys doing nice things for the hikers. She was there yesterday when Josh hiked by. She saw Yogi and Bushwacker, who came by yesterday afternoon.

Trail Mary let us use her vehicle to drive to Kennedy Meadows. I needed extra food and Bob, Don and Leslie needed to pick up their food re-supply boxes.

Cupcake had hiked faster than the rest of us and caught a ride to the Kennedy Meadows store. When we got there he was washing his clothes and sorting his food. We hadn’t thought to bring our packs so we could wash our clothes too.

We ate ice cream and chips, had sandwiches made to go for our dinner later, and filled up water jugs for Trail Mary. There isn’t any water at the campsite and she wanted to have more for the next hikers that came by.

I wish we could have stayed at Kennedy Meadows. I’d like to come back. It was a cute resort.

We got back to the campsite near where the PCT resumes and the hikers who didn’t come to Kennedy Meadows with us were resting. (Note: In case anyone recognizes the reference to the town Kennedy Meadows as being the same name as the Kennedy Meadows at the beginning of the Sierras, both towns share the same name.) Food was readied for our packs and after our 5 hour break, we set out on the trail for 2 more hours of hiking at 5pm. Our elevation where we started was 9,620’. In 2.4 miles, we were up to 10,420’. Our top elevation was 10,500’. The guide book says we will not have any more mountains of 10,000’ or over, from here on. Great news!

We ran into Matt (Iron Chef) camped in a little dirt area overlooking Wolf Lake. It was 7pm when we said we’d stop hiking if we found a good campsite. Matt pointed out a larger “flat” dirt area for a camp just below his. We loved it and here we are now (Don, Leslie, Bob and myself). A little while after we stopped, we heard Pur boy talking to Matt (Iron Chef). Pur boy must have camped with Matt. (Pur is a water filter. Alan (Pur boy) had trouble with one – hence the name.)

I plan to hike to Echo Lake with my friends. We will arrive on the 27th. It is much more fun hiking with people, and especially with people my age and my hiking pace. Billy Goat stayed with his wife overnight but plans on hiking out at 5:30 to join us.

That’s it for now. 9:12pm. I’m in my tent. I’m too cold without it.

Mon. June 24, 2002  Days on Trail: 60
Destination: Multi-branched West Fork Today's Miles: 18.7
Starting Location: .2 miles short of junction atop Wolf Creek Total Miles: 1035.8
Don & Leslie took off at 6am this morning. Don wakes up at 5am and starts to get everyone going. I was told he has always been a person who likes to get up early and start his day right away. Don, Leslie, Bob and his wife Linda (not on hike) have been friends for years. It’s fun to experience their close relationship which involves a lot of teasing and laughter.

Bob and I started hiking about 20 minutes later. We both seem to have a lot to do before we are ready to leave camp.

It was 33 degrees this morning. We thought we were through with snow on the trail. Wrong. It took all four of us (once we caught up with Don & Leslie) over an hour to find our way and the trail under all the snow. We only traveled ½ mile.

We hiked 18+ miles today but the going was slow because of all the steep uphill segments. Mud and snow. We took 2 breaks and a lunch (30 minutes). The rest of the time, from 6:20am to 6:15pm, we were hiking and only covered 18+ miles.

I really enjoyed hiking with Don, Leslie and Bob (Billy Goat joined us in camp at 7:10pm). I’m going to continue on to Echo Lake with them on their schedule just so I can be with them. They usually don’t do more than 18 miles except occasionally. Bob’s wife, Linda, and his daughter will be coming up to day hike for segments with Bob, over the next 3 weeks.

I’m thinking about not hiking the 100 miles from Echo Lake to Sierra City and taking that time off to rest. It’s 100 miles in distance. I’d planned (4) 25 mile days. That is totally unrealistic considering the elevation gain and loss in the area, and the muddy & snowy conditions. So rather than try to do the impossible and be dead by Sierra City, I thought I’d rest my foot and my body. I need to take some time off. The section from Tuolumne Meadows to where I am now has been brutal for me. I will come back and hike the 100 miles after my trip. This decision is hard to make. My foot is very sore. Leslie has the identical problem with pain in her heel and plantar tendon. She said a doctor diagnosed it as Plantar Fascitis. He told her to do stretches and made her orthotics. I already have the orthotics, so I’ll do more stretching and maybe the 3-4 days off will help too. I may increase my Vioxx as well.

We arrived in camp around 6:30pm. Bob’s selected site won out over Don’s. I set up my tent, treated water, began rehydrating my dinner before I cooked it, bathed, and washed my filthy clothes. I can’t remember the last time I went to a laundromat.

We all went about doing our chores. Around 7:15pm we heard a shout. It was Billy Goat. He’d stayed with his wife at Sonora Pass campground and taken off hiking at 5:30am. I knew he’d catch up with us. He hiked a really big day. The 22 miles were not easy. It was good to see him and he was happy to see us.

It’s 10:04pm and I’m very tired. Good night. Gottago

Tues. June 25, 2002  Days on Trail: 61
Destination: Sage Brush Saddle Today's Miles: 17
Starting Location: Multi-branched West Fork Total Miles: 1052.8
We all took our time getting up and getting ready this morning. At 6:40am we started hiking. We finished hiking at 6:15pm.

I loved the feel of the country today. We had a bunch of uphill in the morning, but the afternoon hiking was pleasurable. There was constant contrast between the soft green meadows and the high jagged volcanic rock mountains. It was a sunny day with white billowy clouds contrasting against the blue sky. In the afternoon, most of the trail was dry. What a joy! The wildflowers were everywhere. Dominating the scene were Mule Ears, Flax, Indian Paint Brush, Firecracker, Penstomen, Meadow Buttercups, Wallflowers, White Sage, red and yellow Paint Brush. I saw a Sego Lily for the first time and Miners Candle too. Lupine was everywhere. The trail looked liked it ran through a wildflower nursery.

Billy Goat took off ahead of us and we didn’t see him again until we followed the note he left on a spur trail indicating his wife, Meadow Mama Mary or Trail Mary, had lunch made for us all in the parking lot near Ebbitts Pass. We spent an hour eating fruit she brought and the stew she made. Tony, a hiker we had passed an hour before, returned to the parking lot and joined us. He had some cherries he gave to us all. You would have thought each cherry was a $100 bill. Everyone answered “Yes!” to his question of “Would anyone like some cherries?”

Like I said, I had a great, relatively easy, day compared to most hiking days. We took a few breaks. On one break, Leslie and I had to stop for a nature call. While we were in the woods, Bob and Don hiked up the trial and found a log to sit on and wait. Bob couldn’t believe it when he looked up and saw a blond bear coming up from the meadow below, smelling the ground, walking straight toward him. Bob wanted to zoom and get a better picture, but Don moved closer to the bear, causing the bear to turn and run. Bob described the sound the bear made as one he would never forget. Bob said the bear turned, tucked his rear under him, and thundered off fast and hard. Bob said the bear pounded the ground so hard he could feel the vibration. It’s good to know there are still wild bears that fear humans. Bob was happy because he’d wanted to see a bear.

At the end of our 17 miles, we decided to camp at the top of a crest where we can see forever in every direction. There are wildflowers everywhere. As we were cooking, Billy Goat showed up and he is camping with us.

I made myself a spaghetti dinner from Trailfood.com. Before that, I’d had some Swiss cheese. I also had crackers and humus that Bob had made. Cupcake was going to put the humus in the hiker box at Kennedy Meadows, but I took it. I’ve also been taking Cupcake’s discarded macadamia nuts. After dinner, I ate an entire box of pudding with soy milk. Then I had a few Oreo cookies. I’m trying to eat as much as I can. Last night, before my dinner, I ate 6 tablespoons of peanut butter.

We have 2 more days of hiking until we reach Echo Lake. I will be so happy to finally have a shower and launder some clothes. I’m pretty sure I’m going to skip the section (and do it later) from Echo Lake to Sierra City. After I stay at Echo Lake a day or two, I’ll hitch to Sierra City and continue from there. I saw D-Lo today and he saw Cape Town Jenny in Tuolumne Meadows. I hope I see her.

Good night. Gottago

Wed. June 26, 2002  Days on Trail: 62
Destination: Hwy. 88 – Carson Pass (Caples Lake campground) Today's Miles: 20.8
Starting Location: Brush Saddle Total Miles: 1073.6
I was the only one who put up a tent last night. But this morning when I awoke at 5am, I noticed Don breaking down his tent. Leslie told me later in the day, that Don had awakened her so she could help put the tent up because the mosquitoes were so bad last night.

Billy Goat saw a bear while we were packing up this morning. By the time I got up on the rock to look, Billy said the bear moved away. I had to do my morning constitution, so I walked toward where the bear was last seen – my camera in hand, but no luck with catching a glimpse of the bear. (Ray is probably shaking his head while reading this.)

Don and Leslie took off first, then Billy Goat, then Bob and I. We walked fast and caught up with everyone within 15 minutes.

It was sunny so we were happy to be hiking in the shade of pine trees on a good trail with easy elevation gain and loss. There wasn’t any wind and we were only at 8,000’, so the mosquitoes for a couple of hours were more irritating that I’ve ever experienced. I had to hike with my head net on. Normally, when I’m moving they don’t bother me, but today they were all over us, moving or not.

At 9am, we stopped for our mid-morning break at a rocky area, high enough to have sufficient wind to be free of mosquitoes. We thought we’d just have to walk and eat without ever stopping.

An hour later we walked by a creek, just before a culvert, near a road (not very desirable). We jumped in the water to get cool and clean before we ascended the next 800’. Don walked on, disgusted with our choice to stop at the culvert. I don’t think he wanted to take a break so close to the last one. But the four of us braved the water and it felt great.

A couple of hours later, we found Don lying back on his pack in a very picturesque setting. He was waiting for us close to a saddle southeast of the Nipple (a mountain). That’s where we all had lunch. We saw 2 eagles soaring above. Lunch breaks are great. I get my Z-rest (sleeping pad) out and place it against a rock and lay back while I eat all the food I pack for lunch that day. Today it was tortilla, salami, Swiss cheese, mustard, relish, cookies, nuts, and dried fruit. I’ve been eating every hour and my dinners are big.

After lunch, our hike changed from a hot hiking day to a cool, very windy one. We planned on doing 20 miles so as to meet up with Bob’s wife, Linda, and daughter, Seren, at Carson Pass. Billy Goat’s wife, Meadow Mama Mary, will also be on the pass. Billy Goat will be going back to hike the High Sierra section now that the snow will have melted off a little more.

We had to deal with more exposed snow traverses across the covered trail on the way up to Carson Pass. I wasn’t happy about a few of the “potentially lethal” snow crossings. Don was great about kicking good steps in the snow for Leslie and me. Bob has no fear and neither does Don.

We met Meadow Mama Mary in the parking lot near the end of our day’s hiking at Highway 88, on Carson Pass. Bob and Mary went to look for Bob’s wife at a campground. Linda and Seren were looking for Bob. They arrived at Carson Pass where Don, Leslie and I were.

Long story short, we are all camping at Caples Lake campground. Linda made dinner for everyone. Bob, Seren, Linda, Leslie and Don are at the campfire and I’m ready to sign off for the night. We started at 6am and finished at 6 pm. I’m very tired and looking forward to getting to Echo Lake tomorrow after we hike the remaining 15+ miles. Bob let me know we wouldn’t be hurrying to get off early tomorrow morning. He said we’d leave around 7o’clockish.

Good night. 9:17pm. Gottago

Thurs. June 27, 2002 – ECHO LAKE (South Lake Tahoe)  Days on Trail: 63
Destination: Echo Lake (South Lake Tahoe) Today's Miles: 15.6
Starting Location: Hwy. 88 – Carson Pass (Caples Lake campground) Total Miles: 1089.4
(I’m writing this entry at 9:41pm, Friday June 28th)
Thursday morning, Linda had breakfast out on the picnic table for everyone. I was happy to see the hard-boiled eggs, bananas, sweet sticky bread from Schatt’s bakery in Bishop, and cut up cantaloupe, as I didn’t have any more granola for breakfast.

Linda made two trips shuttling us the 4 miles back to the trailhead at Carson Pass. She is something else! What a trail angel.

We started hiking at 7:30am after some group photos were taken. The guide book referred to the last 16-1/2 miles as easy hiking. Well, as a friend of Yogi’s once said, “The first day of hiking is the hardest and the last day is the longest!” Whenever I’m on a “last day” before arriving in town, each mile seems to take forever.

I was excited and relieved knowing this was the day I’d get to shower and do laundry. I don’t think I’ve ever been so uncomfortable with the hot, itchy, dirty feeling of too many days without the luxury of being clean. I was not a happy camper even though I acted as if I were. I was on empty - had been for some time. As soon as we began any ascent, I felt my unrecoverd, tired, but willing legs, steal enough energy to keep my forward momentum going.

The day’s hiking was easier than any other days had been. We had our share of mosquitoes, lots of water pooling in the trail and on each side of the trail. We zigzagged trying to avoid walking in the deeper puddles of water.

We stopped for a break at 9:30 and again around noon for lunch. No mosquitoes at either spot.

We walked through meadows, forests, and the Echo Lake Ski resort. The last 1-1/2 miles before the end of our 15.6 miles, we encountered Linda walking toward us up the trail. She’d hiked in to meet Bob and Seren. We all walked the last long, very hot, uphill mile, passing by summer homes nestled in the forest.

The wildflowers were blooming everywhere and created a great diversion from the impatience I felt about wanting the miles to end.

Echo Lake is very large. The PCT ends in a parking lot above Echo Lake Resort, which is located at the outlet of the lake. Linda’s car held us all as she drove us to South Lake Tahoe where Linda had spent considerable time and effort finding the right motel for us all. The Matterhorn Motel and its owner, an Indian woman, are warm and inviting. It’s small, but practical, and conveniently located across the street from a laundromat and really good Thai food restaurant.

We got off the trail at 3:10pm and by 6pm, I’d done my laundry, showered, made hair color – manicure – pedicure appointments, made a visit to a local ATM, hit the bakery, and was ready to eat the pizza that had arrived at Bob and Linda’s room downstairs. Their room became the gathering place. I went back to my room and organized the food re-supply boxes Ray had mailed me. I waited until the Book Study meeting at home ended before I call Ray. We talked for quite a while.

It’s been called to my attention that I don’t give Ray enough “juice”. Well, here it is … I couldn’t do this trip without his help. Thanks Babe for being such a great support person. You are the BEST!!

Gottago now. 10:13pm.

Fri. June 28, 2002  Days on Trail: 64
Destination: South Lake Tahoe Today's Miles: 0 (zero day!)
Starting Location: South Lake Tahoe Total Miles: 1089.4
The bunch of us who ended up at the Matterhorn Motel decided last night to meet at 8am and go for breakfast. So Linda drove Bob, Don, Leslie, Me, Seren, Julie (LE) and John (Puget) to Ernie’s – “where all the locals eat”. The food was great.

After breakfast we stopped at the “Y”, a close by major intersection that had many stores. We went into a sporting goods store. I was in heaven. I finally got a shopping fix. I knew I had to move fast. My first find was the small snow baskets. Next I found some biker’s gloves (the kind without full fingers and padding in the palm area). My hands are all torn up with deep splits in the skin of my fingers where I probably had death grips on my trekking poles throughout the snowy mountains.

Everyone on the trail (well, many) have the same Marmot Dri-Clime windbreaker, lined with a light fleecy material. Of course I wanted one too. They didn’t have it in stock, but the salesman didn’t miss a beat. He took me over to the new windbreaker, the Patagonia’s Dragonfly. It was so light, and I wasn’t through spending money, so I bought the only medium he had. It was red. I never buy red clothing. Next and last, I purchased the arch wedges the salesman showed me after I told him I had plantar problems in my left foot. I left within 20 minutes after arriving, feeling totally satisfied. A good morning so far!

I had to hurry in the store because I had made a hair color appointment (Gina, I couldn’t go 3 more months with my gray roots showing). The first color Vicki used was too light. So I had a second, darker, color put on. My hair shows no signs of gray!

Next, Linda drove Julie, John and me up to the Post Office at Echo Lake. We had to make this trip quick because I had to get back to the same beauty salon for a 1:15 pedicure and manicure.

When I returned to the motel, Julie, John, Don & Leslie were getting ready to go to the movies. Linda, Bob & Seren would drive them there and then go to South Lake Tahoe’s beach. I went back to my room.

Later, I heard everyone come back. The movie they’d wanted to see had just changed so everyone went shopping instead.

We all went across the street for dinner at Siam, the Thai restaurant across from our motel. No one at the table liked hot food. The very gregarious waitress assured us she had told the chef “mild, mild”. Well, nothing was “mild, mild”, it was all “hot, hot”. I enjoyed the food though. Everyone agreed, even though they couldn’t eat much, that the taste of the food was very good.

Of course, to cool down our palate, we walked back across the street to the liquor store and bought quarts of ice cream which we shared back in Linda & Don’s room.

We saw Simon. He is also staying in the motel. Flyin’ Brian found Liz and Simon at Echo Lake, just off the trail and took them to South Lake Tahoe.

Back in my room, I fell into bed. Tomorrow the hikers set out again. Tomorrow, I will take Linda for a 1-1/2 hour massage. I want to show my appreciation for all that she has done.

Good night.

Gottago

Sat. June 29, 2002  Days on Trail: 65
Destination: South Lake Tahoe Today's Miles: 0
Starting Location: South Lake Tahoe Total Miles: 1089.4
I heard everyone getting ready to leave this morning around 7o’clock. Linda was driving Bob, Seren, Don & Leslie back to the trail. Bob is trying out my Europa tent. They will hike until tomorrow night when Linda will pick them up and take them to Bob’s Uncles cabin.

I walked back to Ernie’s for another great big breakfast before walking the boulevard back to the motel. I messed around packing up my backpack and then napping. Linda hiked 2 miles along the trail with the hikers. She & I had agreed to meet around noon.

We went to Mail Box Etc. I started a bounce box (items are sent ahead that I’m not using now but may need later). Then we drove over to the Spa for our 1:45pm massages.

I got out of the massage room and felt so sleepy and low energy. Wasco, the person who massaged me, said that my calves were very tight, especially the left one where I have the foot problems. He thinks I need to stretch my calves often and roll my arch on a tennis ball. How many ounces does a tennis ball weigh? I may have to take out my new dragonfly wind/rain shirt! (Giggle)

Linda treated me to a wonderful meal after our massage. We sat outside the restaurant on the lawn watching all the activity on Lake Tahoe just across the street.

We came back to the motel for Linda’s marketing list before we headed off to the store.

Oh! I forgot to mention - I saw Capetown Jenny today! I was waiting just before noon for Linda when I saw Capetown Jenny walk up the stairs to her room 2 doors away from me. I’ve been asking everyone for the last month and a half, since I last saw her, if they knew where she was. Unfortunately after talking tonight, I realize Capetown and I won’t be on the same schedule of hiking. I really like her. She is very special.

Jenny came to the market with Linda and me. Once back at the motel, Jenny and I made time to catch up.

I’ve just caught my journal up for today and I’m tired. I’m always tired. It’s 9:50pm.

Linda is driving north to Truckee tomorrow. She’ll drive me that far and then I’ll hitch to Sierra City, or maybe I’ll take a taxi. I’ll spend another 2 days there and then resume hiking north.

Good night.

Gottago

Sun. June 30, 2002 – SIERRA CITY  Days on Trail: 66
Destination: Sierra City Today's Miles: 0
Starting Location: :South Lake Tahoe Total Miles: 1089.4
I knocked on Capetown Jenny’s door and said “goodbye”. Linda was going to drive me to Truckee so I’d be closer to hitch to Sierra City. It turned out she drove me ALL the way to my motel in Sierra City, Herrington’s Sierra Pines. I couldn’t believe she’d go so much out of her way for me.

When I registered at the motel, they told me my room wouldn’t be ready until 11:30. I had an hour till then, so I walked an 1/8th of a mile along Hwy. 49 (a small quaint little road) to the town of Sierra City. There is a General Store, Post Office, Savon, Antique Store Community House, and Restaurant. Every building looks like something from a movie set. It’s an old mining town. They are going to celebrate the town’s 150th birthday within the month.

The focal point of the town is the General Store. Everyone hangs out on the benches in front of the store. When I walked into town I saw Grasshopper, Matt and Sailor repackaging the newly purchased food to put in their packs. It was good to see Grasshopper again. He’s looking good and still has Mike’s glasses. Word has traveled all over the trail about Grasshopper’s gratitude to Mike for giving Grasshopper his sunglasses in the Sierra. I enjoyed the time I spent visiting with the hikers.

I bought a book and some goodies to snack on back in my room by the Yuba River. I plan to stay in town 2 days to rest and stay off my left foot.

After a lazy afternoon, I met Artie & Sherry for the Mexican buffet in the back restaurant of the saloon. Artie & Sherry were the first people I saw when I arrived this morning. They looked surprised to see me so far ahead on the trail. I explained to them, as I did to other hikers as they came into town, who were equally confused to see me in Sierra City when they hadn’t seen me pass them on the trail, that I had skipped ahead and not hiked the last 100 mile section.

After dinner with Artie and Sherry, I went back to my room and read.

I read way too late – 1:00am!

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