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Posts Tagged ‘Barker Pass’

The stretch from Chester to Drakesbad Guest Ranch went quickly and had some great jam music from Heehaw and Kristo.  We stayed near Drakesbad at the trailhead for a night as all the hikers clumped together in a new bubble from having to skip around the Chip’s Fire.  Drakesbad gave us free laundry and showers which was great and we got to swim in their hot spring pool…but only after a shower.  Dead Animal, Dancing Feet, Not-so-bad, Cowboy, Shep Dog, Heehaw, Kristo, and Swiss Army.

Dead Animal had gotten back on after a week off to rest his right knee which had started hurting him crazy bad right before Barker Pass.  He and I set out from Drakesbad right as Hop-a-long had caught up and headed north slowly since the heat was pretty bad.

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The heat actually sucked so much, we stopped after 3.5 miles and took a two hour nap.  We saw Michigan Wolverine, E.D., Even Star, and Dazzle there when we first laid down.  When I woke up, Magellan was eating lunch ten feet away.

We plugged on five miles to South Twin Lake and went for a swim which felt most refreshing.  Yay water filter!  The lake was also the last water for 12 miles.

Dead Animal and I put on headphones and managed to whip out another ten miles or so in just over three hours and camped for the night about five miles before Old Station.

When I woke up, however, I did not feel in tip-top shape.  I thought it was just because I hadn’t eaten as much as I should have the night before, so I ate breakfast and kept packing up.  Right before leaving that feeling you get when you know you’re going to throw up sometime soon hit me.

I managed to get a mile and a half to water where I laid down.  Not much longer and the sudden feeling of “I’m going to puke NOW” came and I made it about 10 feet before breakfast came right back up.  My first reaction was annoyance: I could have used that four hundred calories.

Since puking made me feel better, I ate a handful of Triscuits to replace the lost calories but that only upset my stomach five minutes later and I hurled everything up again. Dead Animal waited patiently while Splinter and Inspector Gadget passed and made sure I was semi-ok.

We moved another mile before I had to lay down in the shade, then puke, then I could go another mile or so, then lay down, then puke.  I’d hiked on food poisoning twice before in Spain and it sucked, but I knew I could do it if I had to.  Dead Animal did eventually take my pack for the last two miles when I was not holding down water and almost passing out.

Dancing Feet and Not-so-bad had called Firefly, a former trail angel to pick them up and Firefly offered to take us in as well.  Magellan came to get away from the heat.  When she came, I was laying on the cool pavement outside of the Old Station store drinking ice water from a cup with a straw so I didn’t have to sit up.  Funk gave me an anti-nausea pill that doctors apparently give to cancer patients to keep food and water down.  It worked miraculously.

Firefly got us all over to her house and showed us around.  I decided to take a nap in her garage since it was the coolest place around.  After some sleep and rest, two days later, we were back in action going up to Hat Creek Rim.

Dead Animal and I saw Safari, G, and Bouncer that evening as we began our night hike up there.  Right as it got dark, we saw sweeping views of the Reading Fire, started by lightning in Lassen National Park back where we traveled through before.  To the other side, we saw grand views of Mt. Shasta off in the distance.

That night we got 14 miles into the 30+ mile of exposed rim before we took a nap to get up early and try to get through the rest.  The cache 22 was not far off and we found it in the morning as a small oasis of water, shade, and an amazing trail register.

Regrettably, we had to leave the space of wonderfulness and go out into the evilness of the sun.  The entire day had very little shade but we did get a small treat of trail magic in the form of a cooler full of ice water.  I had actually just been dreaming of ice and anything iced.  We enjoyed a break with Bird, Freebird, and Scallywag.

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Dead Animal and I pushed that afternoon and made it to Hwy 299 into Burney and went in to escape the heat.  Talk about a small town.  It was super nice and the motel was clean and had cheap laundry.

The next morning, we got out and went to the trail fairly easily.  Hiking another 8 miles, we got up to Burney Falls State Park where I had my resupply sent.  Dead’s knee was still really bothering him those 8 miles and he made the tough decision to get off there instead.

The state park store where we loitered for quite some time had some rather disgruntled older and very rude employees, so we tried not to spend too much money there and blow up their toilets a few times for them.  A whole crew took over a section of picnic tables: Extra Credit, Cactus, Trip, Hollywood, Scallywag, Mr. C., Buffet, and Camilleon.

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“…just to watch him die…” – Johnny Cash

Hop-a-long and I finally left the shelter of the bathroom at 1:30 in a break between thunderstorms realizing we had only managed 6.5 miles that morning.  We climbed up and over a small ridge and down to a creek and campsite where some section hikers were posting up at 3pm for the night.

We got water and watched the sky, debating our options.  Seven miles of exposed ridge walking would come in about 3 miles and there was no more water until we descended the ridge.  After we sat through a couple small storms and watched other systems collide and make dark swirls in the sky, we decided to load up on water and go until treeline and see from there.  The map showed possible flat spots right around where the trees would disappear on the ridge if the storms persisted.

On the way up the climb, it hailed on us and we stood under a tree for it to finish.  It got up to about pea sized but stopped after about 10 minutes and we continued climbing.

At the top of the ridge, we ran into three day walkers who told us the other side looked clearer than the east side facing Lake Tahoe.  There, we got to leave the 40 mile section that the PCT and the TRT (Tahoe Rim Trail) shared.  Watching the sky, we saw they were right and also another patch of trees a mile or so down.  w2e scampered over to them and reassessed.  Still ok.  Well, the clouds were a little dark but we hadn’t seen lightning in several hours that was close enough to be threatening.  We hurried along the ridge from semi-safe spot to semi-safe spot.  This particular ridge did not really leave too many bail out points that did not include 500 feet or more of scrambling down.

When we finally descended, we breathed a sigh of relief, sat down, and swatted mosquitos.  Then we hiked a bit more to a small campsite just a bit up the next climb.

That night was a bit strange without Dead Animal or Inspector Gadget, but Hop and I had fun anyway.  I also swore I heard voices, but Hop heard nothing.  Great.

“Hahahahaha, did you hear that?” Hop-a-long asked in the morning.

“No,” I said looking up from the 3G I discovered on my phone.

“Someone just yelled like Tarzan…you’re not crazy!” Hop laughed.

We had two climbs that morning before a very long descent to town road.  We ran into the first day walkers about half way up the second climb and they scared the shit out of me since I was rocking out with my iPod and in the zone climbing up.

When we reached the top of the ridge that we would follow down, we ran into a large man named Daniel who was doing a section from Truckee to Mt. Whitney, which he’d done several times to get back in shape.  He said it would take him 4 months for the 400 miles.

“So what are those loud booming sounds we’ve been hearing?” Hop-a-long asked when he said he was a local.

“Ohh, yeah, there’s a bomb range right over there,” he said nonchalantly, “and over there is some other military base that flies fighters all over, and over there is where they hit targets over in…what’s that country?? Oh, Afghanistan, with remote controls.”

“Huh.” Was our reply.

He sat and told us various other entertaining comments until we got up and hiked to town.  We began running into a million day walkers the closer we got to a road.  I kept my headphones in to avoid having to repeat the usual conversation over and over.

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At the road, Hop hitched right to Truckee and I hitched left to Soda Springs.  My wonderful mother sent my resupply box to the hostel, but the Post Office kept it, so I had to run across the street to grab it before they closed, then I was at the hostel bar having a beer when Dead Animal called and said he had gotten to Truckee and rented a car and was coming to pick me up.

When he did, we picked Hop-a-long up from the busiest Safeway ever and drove around listening to loud car music in the extra awesome rental that had gotten upgraded because the rental car guy didn’t feel like cleaning the economy car.

While driving and blasting music, we decided to opt for AYCE Sushi instead of splitting a motel room.  We ate a massive amount and I almost had to pull a Swanson move of throwing up in the bathroom and then finish eating.  Afterward, we found the trailhead and slept in the woods by the rental car.

In the morning, after caffeine we bought a map and figured out how to get to a forest service road at mile 1174.2 and slackpack sobo back to Truckee.  We got there late and started around 10am.  We ran into one of the Japanese guys and Camillion who we hadn’t seen since the Anderson’s.

The trail cruised up and down, up and down.  At the first water, we ran into G and Swanson and I offered some of the vegan brownies my awesome resupply mom sent.  Hop-a-long and I chilled and cruised listening to music the whole time since we could charge it that evening again.

We soon ran into a number of other hikers, a lot of whom we hadn’t met yet.  Dancing Feet, Not-so-bad, Funk, and Trooper.  After the big “climb” which was so switchbacked that it didn’t seem like much, we ran into Snow Turtle and Aggassi on their way up.  It was actually really cool going the “wrong way” because we got to run into everybody.

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Dead Animal picked us up and we went to Reno since we had talked about it for about 500 miles or so.  We went to REI first where Hop-a-long checked out packs, but didn’t find anything since it was pretty picked over.  I got a Sawyer Squeeze filter to try out.

After that we found a cheap room in a casino, got pizza, and hung out.  We managed to get back to the trail around 3:30 and hike by 4pm after hanging out with Hollywood, Drop Zone, Lorax, Chow Down and I’m Fine.

Hop-a-long, Drop Zone and I made it about 10 miles that evening but couldn’t find any flat spots, so we camped right smack in the middle of a side trail figuring it wouldn’t get any traffic.

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The “rain” prevented us from taking many breaks, so we hurried to a Visitor’s center at Hwy 88, Carson’s Pass. When we got there, we saw Dubs, Wiz, Extra Credit, and Cactus hitching into South Lake Tahoe early.  We saw Scallywag sitting at the visitor center who we hadn’t seen in a while.

Yogi mentioned a cafe somewhere along the road that Gadget had hurried ahead of us to go eat at.  We weren’t planning on going until Dead Animal convinced us, mostly because he claimed to need soda, beer, and a burger to go on.  It only took five minutes or so to get a ride and then we found Gadget, Hollywood, Trip, and Drop Zone all there.

Inspector Gadget had already done some poking around on the phone and discovered that he could get us a free Holiday Inn room again that night, but not the next when we planned on getting in.  Somehow, we ended up hitching into South Lake Tahoe early as well.  We found Aggasi and Snow Turtle at the casino where we attempted to play some penny slots and celebrate Brittany’s birthday.

The casinos and their cheap drinks prevented us from leaving South Lake Tahoe promptly and we began attempting to hitch out on the outskirts of town after visiting the Lake of the Sky Outfitter who provided us with cardboard and markers to make a sign.  On one side, we wrote “PCT hikers to Carson Pass” and on the other we wrote “PCT hikers to Echo Lake.”

Knowing that getting back to Carson Pass may be pretty difficult, we started trying to get there, then just randomly kept flipping it back and forth seeing who would take us where.  Eventually, after a good wait, a red pick-up picked us up and brought us half way to echo lake.  He laughed since he had just picked up Navi there and taken her into town.  She had sprained her ankle super bad and stayed back at VVR for a week and managed to work most of her stay off down to an $88 bill…amazing.

Dead Animal and I waited there for not even five minutes and we got picked up by two guys who took us to where the PCT crossed route 50, or 14 trail miles ahead of Carson Pass.  Whoops, oh well.  The way I see it, is that I’m still a net of 17 miles ahead (17 extra for Whitney + 18 extra for Kearsarge minus 14 here, and minus 4 around that stupid frog detour back before mile 400).

We walked a mile and a half over a hill to Echo Lake which was swarming with day walkers and a bunch of hiker trash sitting at a picnic table drinking beer.  The suspects: G, Inspector Gadget, Hop-a-long, Pacemaker, Swanson, and Natty.  We sat for an hour or so, then escaped to go on trail.  We compared recent stories of people thinking we were homeless bums.

“I was just standing outside the liquor store watching packs and some lady just came up to me and asked, ‘so are you homeless?'” Dead Animal said.

“Someone asked me that while I was waiting for the traffic light to change and the “walk” pedestrian light.  Sure dude, I’m just a homeless bum with $1200 worth of gear on my back…I don’t know what went wrong!” Backtrack laughed.

Soon, we discovered the irony of a populated Desolation wilderness as we passed an absurd amount of day walkers in the first few miles out of Echo Lake.  Walking by all sorts of cabins, people went in and out and all over.

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At mile 1100, some one had made the usual rock sign, so Dead Animal GPS’ed it for exactitude and we got to work making a pretty one.  While we set up behind the sign in a flat spot, Inspector Gadget, Hop-a-long and Swanson came up and crashed too.

“I heard voices and singing and saw headlamps last night around midnight,” Hop-a-long said in the morning.  “G probably passed us super late again.”

Down the trail three miles or so, we found none other than G, whose first comment was, “I wouldn’t be awake right now if it weren’t for those damn load section hikers early in the morning.”

“Wanna split our last beer, so I don’t have to carry it up the pass,” I asked.

“Yeah! Want some whiskey?” G perked up.

“We can polish off the last of this wine too,” Dead Animal chimed in.

It proved a fantastic start to the morning as we then had to climb Dick’s Pass, which surprisingly was not that bad since the grade was overall awesome.  On the way up, Dead Animal took advantage of cell service and called his mom back.  We also met a crazy old guy with an old-school pack and a crazy beard.

I got a bit annoyed at the pass because we went to the lowest point on the ridge which clearly was the pass, also marked thus on the map, but then we had to climb 300 more damn feet up one side and go over.  A sign post claimed that was the pass.  Nope.

Lunch came at a lake outlet stream a few miles below with a great swim, music from G’s speakers, and sock rinsing.  From there, we generally went down with several bumps the rest of the day.

About three miles down from lunch, I hear and “ARRRRRRG!!!” I turned around to see Dead Animal holding his right knee and hobbling to a log.

“I don’t know what I did!  I guess I stepped down from something wrong, or did something when I fell on it the other day, or what, but something is catching on something else every time I try to put all my weight on it,” he said through a grimace.

Vitamin I was taken and I looked at it.  The muscle or tendon just down from the knee cap was a bit swollen where he said it was catching.  As I thought about what we could use to wrap it, Pacemaker came up and offered us the use of his ACE wrap, which worked decently with the combo of him borrowing my polls for several miles.

Eventually, we got to Lake Richard and camped near a group of 13-17 year olds with matching t shirts who decided it was a good idea to play frisbee right near our tents at 8:30-9 at night.  Hop-a-long kindly explained that thru-hiker midnight was around 9pm and the four or five thru-hiker tents were all trying to sleep.  They all managed to quite down around 9:15, much to our pleasant surprise.

That evening, we had looked across the lake at the sky and had a “hmmmmmm” moment.  Right before sleep, we all put up rain protection.

“All you thru-hikers are scaring us!” said a nearby section hiker who did not want to put the rain fly on his tent it seemed.

“Those clouds look like the start of something and we heard there may be weather moving in tomorrow.  In our experience, it rolls in the night before out here,” Hop-a-long said.

Sure enough, 2am, rain spurts.  Thunder crashed all night while lightning bolts cracked down on trees only 50ft away.  Flash, flash, flash all night.  I didn’t sleep well since I was worried a lightening bolt would start a fire nearby or a tree would fall.

Good thing I had trouble waking up that next morning and was not quick about breaking everything down though.  Right after my morning pee break, I spoke with Pacemaker and while we talked, a massive sheet of rain began rushing toward us across the lake and the thunder became the loudest it had been, lightning getting closer.  I could see the line where it was raining and where it wasn’t.  I ran back so fast and continued laying on my neo-air hoping the lightening wouldn’t hit the lake and bounce over to where everyone was camped.

Once the biggest front seemed to have come through, we packed up and left at a late 8:30…so much for a big day!  From there to Barker Pass, it rained every 30 minutes or so for about five minutes.  Most of the trail there was in trees, which was super convenient since we could just pause under a big one and not get really wet, then hike when it only drizzled.  Dead’s knee still hurt quite a bit, so we went slow, which somehow seemed to increase my hunger.  Hop-a-long was on her yogiing game and got all kinds of non-cookable food since her pocket rocket rungs had gotten striped and she had to call MSR.  That’s what happened to mine last year on the Colorado Trail and MSR was super helpful and replaced it for me.

At Barker Pass, some section hikers we had talked to waited with their car there when Inspector told them Dead needed a ride into town to rest his knee.  Hop-a-long and I posted up near the bathroom, ready to chill there while it thunderstormed.  Dead Animal went down with them to rest his knee and Inspector Gadget went down too, for no real reason other than he wanted town and town food.

Hop-a-long and I talked with Funnybone, who had thru-hiked the PCT in 2002 and 2006.  He was out for a short section.  He was really fun to talk to while we waited out a few thunderstorms there since in not too many miles the trail would jump up on a ridge and stay exposed for about 7 miles.

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