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Posts Tagged ‘Bolt’

In the morning, everyone slowly packed up to go back to the picnic tables where we ate breakfast, lounged, and sat.  Periodically, some people would get motivated and leave the picnic tables for the trail.  Eventually, after a good amount of french fries, I got motivated.

Dead Animal and I cut across a field to get back to the trail and we walked for a bit until we came back to the Tuolomne River which we had tried to swim in before at a higher elevation, but it was too cold.  There, the river got wider and warmer, so we jumped in since we couldn’t shower anywhere near the store.  The whole first few miles, we passed ridiculous amounts of day walkers, horse packers, and complaining kids.

After a good swim, we got to the Glen Aulin Camp, a horse camp type thing where a few people worked.  It had a super buggy backpacker camping area next to it, so we set up there and tried not to be completely eaten by mosquitos.  It was a bit early but there wasn’t any water for 8 miles and the terrain didn’t seem too amenable for flatness for a bit.

Bolt rolled in right before dark who we hadn’t seen for quite a bit and he said that he and House had gone down into the valley for a bit.  He was trying to go to South Lake Tahoe in 8 days which meant a lot of 20s.

The mosquitos were horrible right from the get-go and did not care about deet what-so-ever.  Plus, we had a long slow climb first thing in the morning heat.  Since we entered Yosemite, the trail turned shitty.  It was super rocky and in parts it seemed like they didn’t really try to build a trail, rather they just brought some horses through for a footpath when they couldn’t just make cairns on large rock slabs.  Other times, they built the trail up nice, lined with large rocks, but left piles of ankle-twister rocks in the middle.  Or, worse yet, these cobblestone-like steps which were usually covered with sand and were too small to actually put your feet all the way on, i.e. I’m-going-to-fall-on-my-ass-steps.

Most of this section was dominated by that and going in and out of canyons.  We would hike sharply up on rocky steps to almost a view, then descend sharply down the same shit into another canyon.  Sometimes, a large blow down would cut off the corner of a steep switch back so we had to cut the already steep switch back into a steeper one.

Once in another canyon, we followed it for a ways, then climbed up into another one pretty much.  After dropping into the first one there, we ran into Waffles, Gator, Snowflake, and Mancake by the water.  While we ate lunch, they headed up the next steep climb which turned out to be a bitch of a steep climb.  The climb redeemed itself by taking us past Miller Lake which proved some of the best swimming yet.  Waffles and the others had caught Ornie and were building an elaborate sand castle using six different pots for various building sizes, a mote, and the whole nine yards.

We continued steeply down, then back up toward Benson Pass.  The first third of the climb up was a little absurd in the steepness, but it evened out a little bit afterward following up Wilson Creek.  At the last creek crossing, we stopped to cook dinner and decided to stay there, taking the 17 mile day.  I would have loved to read, but couldn’t since the Kindle got in a fight with my bear canister and lost.

Hiking up the last 600 feet, we reached the pass to find G camped there blasting Jay-Z off of speakers and Bolt fifty feet up on some large rocks.

“What are you doing up there?” Hop-a-long yelled up.

“Sleepin’!” Bolt called down as he began traversing down.

G had left the Tuolomne store at 2pm, passed us at midnight, and camped in the pass for a nice 26 mile day.  Little crazy.

We went up and down, up and down, pretty much the whole next day.  For lunch, we had to set up mosquito netting and tents to not get bit near the side trail to Benson Lake.  Of course, we had another steep climb after that.  On the bumpy top, we stopped by a small lake and Brittany (a JMTer who continued on the PCT from Tuolomne to Tahoe) caught us.  Then the wave came: Dubs, Wiz, Trip, Cactus, Extra Credit, Drop Zone, and Hollywood (not the same one from the AT) all came up and joined us.

The way “down” Kerrick Canyon was so much of a bitch, we all camped at the bottom.  Trip made a campfire and Cactus attempted to make a large spam kabob.

Realizing we were a little low on food, we got up early to pull a long day in the direction of town.  We had already climbed 2,400 ft before 10am in two small climbs that had longer descents.  We passed Drop Zone and Brittany who had camped three miles ahead of us.

We had over ten miles of super slow ascent through meadow after meadow up to Dorothy Lake Pass which would take us out of Yosemite.  For the first time since leaving Tuolomne, we had a decently graded climb.

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A little under two miles after the pass, we crossed the 1,000 mile mark, so we stopped and celebrated.  The last of potato chips were devoured and we opted to go as far as possible.

We stumbled down the trail trying not to stop for dinner since we knew we wouldn’t go any further.  At 8:30pm, it was called at 23 miles as we all began stumbling over our own feet.

We followed a meadow to Kennedy Canyon, then hiked up the canyon to a very exposed section above 10,000 ft.  All four of us were beat after the day before.  We found Bolt again at the last creek crossing and the section was making him feel beat too.

The last big climb went super well.  At the top of the ridge, Dead Animal, Hop-a-long and I stopped for a snack.

“Those were the nicest graded switchbacks in hundreds of miles,” Dead Animal said.

“Yup,” was the resounding reply.

We went from one side of the ridge to the other several times staying high and exposed the whole time through some amazing volcanic rock that reminded me of Colorado.

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Surprisingly, we had easy hitches at dusk and right after dark.  All four of us got rides into Tehachapi for pizza.  After food, we took up residence at the cheaper Best Western (there were two) and ran into many hikers there at the morning continental breakfast.  GypcGirl was there and told us she had been there for five days, had tried to leave but got blown off the trail into a ravine, had to spend the night there, and bushwhack out back to Tehachapi.  Drop Zone appeared saying his hairline fracture in his ankle was still bothering him so he and GypcGirl decided to skip the rest of the desert and hitch to Kennedy Meadows.

We spent the day attempting to get everything done in the spread out town, and of course watching the season finale of Game of Thrones.  It was an impromptu zero day, but we got everything done, even hot tub time.  We met Dubs and The Wizard, found Voodoo and Twinkle Toes, and watched a lot of meaningless television.

The next day, we got moving.  We had a large climb out from the road, going past wind turbine after wind turbine.  For the most part, I was annoyed at the 25 dry miles and the amazing amount of water and food I was carrying.  The wind was strong for the first few miles, but I could mostly walk straight.

Then, as the climb ascended the ridge, shit got ridiculous.  First, I just felt like I was ataxic (drunk walk), yet I was completely sober.  Second, I realized I would lose my hat if I left it on my head, so I stopped to put it away and tie a bandana around my hair to keep it from hitting me in the face.  Third, I had to secure all the adjustment straps on the pack, and my braids, because they began whipping me in the face.

Dead Animal and Inspector Gadget got ahead of us a ways when Hop-a-long and I stopped to talk to Sparrow, Barracuda, and Magellan.  I started first, and got a little ahead of them until I rounded a switch back straight into the wind.  It came full force at me as I leaned directly into it and dug in with my legs.  My sunglasses flew straight off my face and soared over 40 feet away.  The wind had pushed me off of the trail, just below it and to stop myself from going further, I gave out onto my stomach to crawl up on my hands and knees once I realized it was not a gust and would not let up.  I attempted a small bushwhack to find my sunglasses, but I was unsuccessful.

After we all managed to get around that curve, we had a few switchbacks of ataxic walking until a larger challenge.  We had hit a small high point on one part of the ridge and the trail formed a small knife’s edge.  The stretch was about 15 feet with a gully on either side.  As we came up to it, we could see the dust and dirt flying horizontally from one side to the other.  I attempted to go only to get whipped straight off the trail.  I laid down on my stomach and crawled back to where Sparrow, Barracuda, Magellan, and Hop-a-long had huddled together.  We waited there in a pile for a few moments, realizing the wind would not let up.  I ventured out first on my hands and knees.  I made it across and set my pack down to go help Sparrow and Barracuda.  Hop-a-long and Magellan also made it behind me crawling.

We got to some Joshua and juniper trees not far from there and we all found spots dug out under the trees to camp for the night.  Right as we were going to bed, Bolt, Navi, and Natty showed up. They found trees as well and we all made a large group to climb the rest of the ridge in the morning since the wind was still bad and supposedly would get worse.

Once we got to the top of the ridge, we found Dead Animal and Inspector Gadget still in bed (they didn’t have us to wake them up).  They had found a nice protected spot in some trees and we all took a break there.  They had also seen a bear not far from them.

The whole day we battled some wind, but most of it we could walk straight in after the top of the ridge.  When we all made it to the water source, we found Astro and Sea Hag.  The “spring” was a large trough full of leaves and gunk and a broken pipe.  Luckily, we found a white pipe that had a decent flow, but definitely had some floaties.

Loaded up with water once again, we set off another ten miles.  We camped near a dirt road, thinking no one would come by since they usually don’t come that far out at dusk.  After scouting out the best spot under a tree, we set up and ate dinner.

“A Lexus!” Dead Animal said surprised.

“A Hummer?!” Inspector Gadget said.

“Lots of cars?” Hop-a-long said.

We watched a train of really expensive cars drive up and make a circle in the campsite we almost chose.  They moved them around and around so they could use all their headlights and fog lights to set up their large Walmart tents and pull out all their coolers.  If we weren’t so beat from the wind or the 23 mile day, we would have tried to yogi some beer.

Dead Animal and I got up and walked over.  They clearly spoke another language that I knew nothing of.  We guessed they were either Middle Eastern or Russian.

“Hi,” I started, “we just want to let you know you’re right by the PCT and we’re sleeping right over there.”

“Just in case you guys are shooting guns or something,” Dead Animal added.

“Ohhh ok!” One named Sam came up and introduced himself.  “We do target practice in the morning, but we shoot that way” he said pointing in the opposite direction.

In the morning, we yogi’ed some sodas from them and promptly left when they started shooting things.  We didn’t see any targets, but we left before we could investigate.

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We passed mile 600 that morning, but didn’t celebrate too long since we still had 2 miles to water and we were all a little low.  Robin Bird spring seemed ok, but the surrounding area was covered in cow shit.  Definitely aquamira’ed the crap out of that, despite it coming clear from a pipe.

That day, we had the luxury of two water sources.  Whoa.  We had to carry extra anyway because we couldn’t rely on the Kelso Valley Road cache.  The water report was unclear on how much it could possibly have, so we loaded up.

We got to the road at dusk, and lucky for us, the cache had plenty of water and we settled down for the night.  Natty, Navi, Bolt, Magellan, and Astro joined us in the surrounding area.

Unfortunately, we knew the following day was supposed to reach 95 degrees and we entered an exposed high desert at the cache.  Basically: we had 15 miles to the Bird Spring cache, with a decent amount of climbing all exposed.

We woke up at 4am and left by 5.  A breeze prevented us from moving a little earlier.  None of us were ready to go.  I even skipped breakfast for an hour and a half while I tried to catch the cool weather.

Shade followed us for quite a while due to the position of the trail climbing up the ridge.  That was perfect.  Once the shade disappeared though, all bets were off as the sun oven turned on to bake us.  On top of that, the trail was so sandy, it was like walking on a beach.  At a small breeze point, I stopped to savor the wind and looked down.  Someone had written “Fuck Sand” in the sand.  Amen!

By 11am, I started to get a little delirious, so I threw on tunes to keep my mind distracted while I finished up.  Inspector Gadget and I made it to the cache just before noon, and Hop-a-long got in about 20 minutes after.  Dead Animal had stopped at the one shady tree about 2 miles back and took a nap.

By about 2pm, everything was silent except for snoring.  Everyone was sleeping through the heat: Dubs, The Wizard, Cheesecake, Snowflake, Ornie, Waffles, Astro, Natty, Navi, Bolt, Inspector Gadget, Hop-a-long, and myself all perched under various trees playing the game of finding shade or comfort.  When the shade leaves, the sun wakes us back up and inevitably, we move to a less comfortable spot to stay in the shade.

At 4pm, Dubs, The Wizard, and Snowflake charged on up the next 2000 ft super exposed sandy climb.  We timed them up the first switch back as they went.  At 5:15, a large group charged on: Navi, Natty, Bolt, Astro, Magellan, and Hop-a-long went.  At 5:40, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget and I charged up it, sweating immediately.

The climb was long and hot, but gave decent views from the top.  We had a nice-ish bumpy ridge walk after that.  We found Hop-a-long staking out a flat spot for us and we crashed pretty quick.

In the morning, we set out along the ridge walk ignoring Yellow Jacket Spring which was .7 mile off the trail and the description on the water report was “dig a hole in the mud, wait for it to fill up, then filter it.”  Gross.  We had all opted for the 20 mile water carry over that and the next one, McIvers Spring, that had a description that included “surrounded by cow shit.”

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From the creepy campsite, after we got startled by bats flying out of the only not burned thing: the bathroom, we went to finish the damn long detour.  Right before the climb, we met Snow Turtle and Agasey who had been too creeped out to camp in the abandoned awesomeness.

Dead Animal and I hiked up and up on the damn pavement to the abandoned communication tower.

“What will you bet Safari climbs that?” He asked.

“There is no question,” I replied.

Forty minutes later, “Guys! I totally climbed that tower.  Actually I was chicken shit at first, then Bolt came and we climbed up that thing!”

We all laughed as we took turns in the poopers at the Messenger Flats campground where we got to go back on actual trail.  Continuing on, we still battled the Poodle Dog Bush and severe erosion for several miles, not to mention overgrown plants that tried to attack you in gauntlet form.

Hitting another ranger station after a 10 mile morning, normally, we would have posted up in the shade for the afternoon, but with a mere 8 miles, mostly downhill to a pool at a hiker friendly KOA…..basically: set autopilot to swimming pool!

The elevation profile made it not seem too bad, but we saw the heat waves and felt them bouncing off the ground back up.  The countouring first two miles seemed to do more up and down on the side of the hill than following it.  I set my tunes louder and just kept going.

At the KOA, hikers had taken over a large chunk of the picnic tables ordering food from one restaurant that somehow made Chinese, American, Mexican, and Italian all in one place.  Safari had already ordered Chinese, so we checked it out and it seemed alright, so we ordered, took showers, ate boatloads, and then went swimming.  No, we didn’t wait 30 minutes. No one died.

That evening, we pooled our booze and got some vending machine sodas to mix with the dregs of what was left while we played a rousing game of rummy.  Then we cowboy camped on the playground.

Once again, picnic tables slowed us up in the morning, but we managed to do the 10 miles into Agua Dulce by around 10:30ish.  We waited until the pizza place open that had a large sign saying “welcome PCT hikers! Come have the last pizza and Beer until Tehachapi” (some 100+ miles later).

With bellies full of pizza and beer, we headed over to the Saufleys who are ridiculously awesome trail angels who do everything.

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Bristle Cone gave us the run down: put the pack on a cot, sign up for a shower, grab some loaner clothes, put laundry in a mesh bag with a name, food in the fridge, recycle as much as possible, grab a new water report, and relax.  We set on that full of pizza and beer.

At 6pm we got a ride over to REI on the outskirts of LA to solve our growing list of gear issues.  I desperately needed new shorts and a light pair of leggings; Hop-a-long needed to replace her Patagonia wool leggings that got huge holes as well as a leaky platypus; Dead Animal needed seam sealer for his tent; Shags needed new leggings; and Inspector Gadget desperately needed new shoes. image

By the time we got back, we ended up watching the latest Game of Thrones episode that Inspector downloaded to his laptop and hanging out quite late.  So late that none of us got up until the sun scorched us out of our sleeping bags.  We packed up off the cots and then went to hang out on the couches until the sun went down.  The temperature reached over 100 degrees that day.  We were sweating sitting in the shade doing nothing.  More entertainment came as we painted everyone’s toenails pink and watched some movies.

We waited until the heat subsided and got a ride to the pizza place around 6 in the afternoon for happy hour.

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We all spent that night sleeping in a ditch next to Hwy 2.  Before going to bed, we ate at the picnic tables, took advantage of the poopers with free tp, and made a discrete fire tucked back near some trees despite a blatantly obvious “no campfires” sign.  It was freezing; the wind whipped and it might have been 40 degrees then and began to steadily drop at night.  One car seemed to come and go quite frequently with a large camera and huge binoculars.

That night was super cold.  I had several layers on and put my thick New Zealand wool socks on and wrapped the bottom of my sleeping bag in a trash bag.  In the middle of the night, I still had to wrap my feet in my puff coat…they were cold again an hour later.

In the morning, Shags came over and asked if the ranger came to us too.  Confused, Dead Animal and I shook our heads only to have Inspector Gadget and Hop-a-long groan from their tents that a ranger had come.

“You guys slept straight through it!” Inspector said.  “He came here first and shone bright lights at our tents and asked us for ID.  Apparently that odd couple in the car were bird watchers who told the cops there were people rummaging through backpacks.”

“They talked to me about the campfire,” Shags said.  “The guy was cool though; he asked if we would be warm enough without it and then asked us to put it out.”

“Did you guys sleep through the dirt bikes too?” Hop-a-long asked.

“I heard them peal out,” I said

“You could hear them going all the way to 5th gear,” Dead Animal said.

“Yeah, well they almost peed into our ditch until one went ‘whoa! Dude! There’s people down there!” Inspector imitated a stoner voice.  “Pretty sure they were drunk too.”

We got a super late start at 8:30 a.m. Just in time for a 1000 ft climb.  Good morning trail!  Up, over and onto the 4th crossing of Hwy 2.  Where we slept in the ditch was the official detour around the yellow-legged frog mating, but that was a 20 mile detour for 4 PCT miles.  Yeah, right…

We did another up and over to the 5th road crossing where the old detour started: the walk, the damn road detour.  Sitting there, we decided road walking sucked, so we began walking and kept throwing our thumbs out.  As the pavement continued, our feet began to hurt, but nothing except motorcycles passed us.

In the end, we ended up walking two road miles to a campground where we yogi’ed a ride from some day walkers to a biker restaurant down the road a bit further called Newcomb Ranch.  There we ate lunch as a large hiker herd (about 11 of us) road walked and got a ride there, including Barracuda and Sparrow…Barracuda is 7 years old….

Lunch, 4 beers, and 2 shots each, we left with a six-pack to begin hitching.  With a 7-year-old, we got a ride easily from some super awesome people in a large vehicle driven by Kristi.  We went back to the 6th crossing of Hwy 2 instead of that campground which had a few mile side trail back to the PCT.

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We only had a few miles to mile 400 which we celebrated for quite a while on the side of the trail there.  Someone had made a large “400” in rocks and we took a slew of pictures.  After drinking some of the six-pack, we moved on downhill to water, then further on to the Three Points trail head.

Picnic tables reeled us in with a cooler full of trail magic soda and some water.  Dan, the trail runner, trail magic’ed us some Tecates to keep the beat strong and we camped there, by the side of the road under a tree.

Deciding to get serious, we began hiking early in the morning.  We did discover that camping near picnic tables and poopers significantly slowed us down in the mornings trying to get out.  We went up and up and oh yeah, more up.

By mile 413, we faced yet another detour…this time for poodle dog bush: renamed devil bush.  Basically, an area of land burns, then poodle dog bush takes over and spreads like wildfire.  It especially likes to grow smack dab in the middle of the trail.  The plant actually looks really pretty with sweet-smelling purple blooms, but it’s more like a poison apple of death that entices you into getting a big fat emergency room bill.

The first part of the detour took us down a dirt road about the same distance as the trail was, but the road took us down the other side of the ridge down to a fire ranger station.  Right above the station was an outhouse with a spigot next to it and a large water tank to provide shade.  The whole group posted up there for a while, even Neon and On-a-move stayed for a while as we all sat and ate as much as possible from our food bags.

When the sun had stopped sizzling our skin, we began again.  The worst of the poodle dog was supposed to be at mile 425 and then between 428 and 430, so Hop-a-long and I tried to go on the trail between miles 419 and 421 instead of walking the paved road recommended detour.  We just really did not want to walk on pavement, but the trail had quite a lot of sand going up then dove through some pretty bad poodle dog bush.  Some of it was not too bad, but there were a few parts where one of us had to use our poles to hold it for the other.  A few other times, on a contour, we would have to shimmy down a little bit to go below the poodle dog bush in the trail, but above the layer beneath.  This was more challenging because usually the sandy eroded shit would not hold your feet, so you had to walk faster to avoid your footing giving way, but not fast enough to carelessly bash into the devil bush.

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Needless to say, we walked the damn paved road after that as recommended because that wasn’t supposed to be the worst of it.  Several miles later, we decided to look for a place to crash when we came up on a burned and abandoned fire station.  Naturally, we thought it was the coolest thing ever and slept in the destroyed hand ball court.  It was super creepy…right out of a horror movie…large group…could pick us off one by one, but no, we were fine, all six of us.

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We managed to have quite a bit of fun in Wrightwood.  Probably too much fun.  Safari, Shags, and Drop Zone had gotten ahead of us and we heard tell from some Canadians that Drop Zone had gotten a ride from the water cache to Wrightwood.  When we finally got a ride down, we fit Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget and me in a hybrid with our packs and we went straight to the Mexican restaurant for Margaritas.  With two double shot margaritas and large portions of Mexican food in our bellies, we found Safari and Shags who had gotten a room at the Pines Motel.  They gave us word on Drop Zone who had apparently just hiked out with another girl and didn’t sobo back to the water cache.

The Pines Motel had plenty of character and great service, but the shower didn’t drain, the TV did not change channels, and we put 5 people in a 3 person room.  We stayed in town to celebrate Safari’s 21st birthday. Our goal: make him puke.

We started with beer and white russians with almond milk then progressed to the Racoon Saloon for tequila shots and jukebox entertainment. When we got back to the room, our goal became fulfilled.

We attempted to get moving in the morning, but all we could motivate to do was head down the street to the Grizzly Cafe and eat extremely large breakfasts.  Safari had called to ask specifically if they had Belgian waffles with fruit and they did.

Food comas set in so we went back to bed for nap time.  Jay, the motel manager, knocked on our door at 10:45 to tell us check out was at 11am.  We packed up and then looked outside.  An evil dark cloud of death was descending from the mountains where we wanted to go and the wind blasted us so hard the trees pelted us with pinecones.  We later found out the snow level had dropped to 7000 feet and there were hurricane force winds going on up there.

We moved to a bigger room and fit more people in it.  It’s super helpful when sleazy motels are run by hikers.  They try to give you the lowest rate for the most people and do your laundry for free.  Our second room had more character than the last and even included brick paneling.

Lounging all day took work.  We got some free coffee/tea from the local coffee shop, resupplied, went through hiker boxes and drank beer.  Major Upchuck came over and hung out, getting fake tattoos and shot-gunning beers with us for a while.  Then, out of nowhere, Hop-a-long found Peter wandering around outside so we took him in and immediately put beer in his hand.

We did manage to get the 6:30ish am shuttle that the motel ran for free.  I wished I had more layers that day.  I huddled under a large bush while waiting for everyone to come up in 3s.

The first five miles were fine except for the wind and the general coldness.  It really wouldn’t have been that bad except I’d gotten used to 85 to 105 degrees and when we got dropped off, it was a whopping 29 degrees.  Then the trail did this annoying thing that trails do of going to 7500 feet only to drop 1000 feet and then gain 3000 feet.

We all stopped at the second road crossing of Hwy 2 at the base of the Baden-Powell trailhead.  As we ate a snack huddled together and used the privy, we attempted to look pathetic to see if the hoards of people in the parking lot would give us any food or anything hot.  They didn’t.

It was then that it hit us that it was not only Saturday, but Memorial Day weekend Saturday.  Hello headphones!  We probably saw 150 people on one side of the mountain. Day walkers, boy scouts, crazy trail runners.  The boy scouts were the most annoying; they didn’t yield to packs going uphill, they completely ignored the small group hiker etiquette, they cut switchbacks, and hell knows what else.

We met a section hiker, Shaka Zulu, who sang a wee song that amused us.  Safari and Shags skipped the side trail to the summit while Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, Hop-a-long, Bolt, and I went to the top and drank our last two beers and Bolt provided some whiskey.

If the morning was slow, the afternoon was slower.  My energy had been zapped between climbing and answering the same usual day walker questions over and over despite the obvious headphones (i.e. leave me alone sign).  Yes, I am walking to Canada.  Yes, I started in Mexico.  No, I don’t have a job. Yes, I sleep outside. Blah blah blah.

By the afternoon, the sun had partially come out and there it might have gotten up to the low 50s, but as soon as the cloud that usually seemed to mysteriously stay to one side of the ridge tried to creep over, it got cold.  The trail weaved over the ridge and in and out of the cloud.

Dead Animal and Inspector Gadget convinced Hop-a-long to make them quesadillas while Inspector hatched a plan to go to town for pizza, despite having left town that morning after a zero.  He blazed ahead six miles to the 3rd crossing of Hwy 2.

Hop-a-long, Dead Animal and I got water from Little Jimmie Spring and pondered the maps and all the information we had on the up coming detour which had to by-pass 4 PCT miles for the breeding of a yellow-legged frog.

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