FEDEX just delivered a very heavy box from Platinum Performance that contained 110 Blueberry Crisp Bars, 110 Strawberry Crisp Bars, and 112 Cranberry Crisp Bars – a total of 332 nutrition bars. The generosity of Platinum Performance, specifically Mark Herthel, is greatly appreciated.
There is a link to their site on the left hand side of this page. I encourage hiker and non-hiker alike to check them out.
In my previous post, I said that Joyce and family depart for Europe on June 23. I erred. They leave for Europe on June 25. However, it is not a error when I report that it is only 24 days until I depart for Reno.
Four weeks from today, I will be flying into Reno for my return to the Pacific Crest Trail. I will spend the 4th of July in South Tahoe and physically step back on the PCT on July 5.
We had a nice, but all too short, visit this weekend from Travis and Maggie Weller, Yankee Son and Hallmark (PCT Class of 2012). They currently live in Wilmington, NC. However, they are moving back to San Francisco the end of July. We enjoyed talking about the many good times we had on our 2012 hike. I was most impressed with Hallmark’s ability to remember exact dates for all the campsites and town stops we shared. They were most helpful in sharing information on points of interest, places not to miss, places to miss, and trail angels I may encounter as I hike the remaining 1500 plus miles to Canada.
The weather did not cooperate with us being able to spend much time outdoors. We did succeed in doing a short hike to Lower Whitewater Falls. If all goes well, they are going to join me for a couple of weeks on the PCT this summer. It will be fun hiking with them again.
Yankee Son and Hallmark
Most everything is complete for my return to the trail. All equipment is a go except I still want to get a wide brim hat to protect my ears. My resupply boxes are addressed. My “Halfmile’s maps” have been broken into sections and placed in the appropriate resupply box. I have most of my meals purchased. As soon as the nutrition bars from Platinum Performance arrive, I will make a final purchase of cliff and pro bars.
I have increased the number and length of my training hikes. I have also increased the weight of my pack. Although the demands associated with being the Co-Chair for “Honoring Their Service 2013″ have kept me from getting out as often as I would like, I am confident I will be in good shape for the trail. The Marines will be here June 17 – 20. For those of you following my blog who have not done so already, I encourage you to check out the page “Pledging Support to Honoring Their Service” to see how you can support this worthy endeavor.
Joyce and family depart June 23 for 3 weeks in Europe.
See you up the trail! Just Retired
A little over nine months ago, I woke in my Tarptent in a camp site at Richardson Lake shortly after sun up. I could hardly contain myself as I had breakfast, broke camp, and started hiking about 6:30. I had a little over 6 miles to Barker Pass where I planned to get off the PCT to spend a week with Joyce in Reno. I arrived at Barker Pass shortly after 8:30. Joyce’s plane was not scheduled to arrive in Reno until 10:30. I was lucky enough to catch a ride down the mountain to Tahoe City with a young family out an early morning drive. The driver, Mark Herthel, and his father have a company, Platinum Performance, which makes highly nutrient dense nutrition bars. Mark dropped his family back at their hotel and then was kind enough to drive me to Tahoe City. He dropped me at the Dam Café where I waited for Joyce to arrive some 4 hours later. (Mark contacted me a couple of weeks later offering to stock me up with some of their nutrition bars when I return to the trail. I definitely plan to take him up on his offer.)
As those who have followed my blog know, the plan was for me to spend a week with Joyce in Reno before continuing my hike north to Canada. Joyce and I had an enjoyable week in Reno. However, because of weight loss concerns, rather than returning to the trail I returned to South Carolina. The week break became a year break; and I became a section hiker.
July 7, 2012 Thunderbird Resort, Sparks, NV
Since getting off the trail, I have been in hiker limbo. I started the PCT, but I have not finished. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t recall some aspect of my 2012 PCT hike. I think of the many great people I met on the trail, the hospitality of so many selfless trail angels, the great scenery, the many magical moments, and the silent solitude of the trail. On the other hand, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my return to the trail. I have all my equipment, have developed my resupply plan (a combination of mail and buying in trail towns), have purchased my ticket for Reno, have mailed my application to enter Canada by way of the PCT, have sent in for my PCT long distance permit, and have experienced my first trail magic.
The night after I posted my previous entry, in which I announced my plans to return to the trail on July 5, I received a telephone call from an old friend, Craig Saunders. Craig and I served together in the Army and then worked together at the Arizona Department Corrections. Craig lives near Sacramento and said that he would pick me up in South Tahoe and take me to Barker Pass on July 5. The very next day, I received an email from Merv McConnell, the webmaster for the Retired MP Officer Association. Merv advised that his Godson, Jim Picolla, lives in Reno and Jim would pick me up at the airport and take me to South Tahoe on July 3. (I think Merv bribed Jim with an offer of a bottle of his favorite adult beverage.) Thanks Craig and Jim.
While I have identified my resupply points, I continue to research and plan my diet. Some weight loss on a long thru hike is inevitable, but I need to avoid a repeat of last year.
Only 88 days until I return to “following my dream!”
See you up the trail!
Fourth of July Fireworks over Lake Tahoe
I will be returning to the Pacific Crest Trail on July 5, 2013 to resume my hike north to Canada!!
Last Fourth of July, I was with a group of hikers sitting on some rock boulders overlooking Lake Tahoe, about 10 miles in the distance, watching Lake Tahoe’s fireworks. Lake Tahoe’s 4th of July fireworks are suppostedly one of the top five in the country; and, admittedly, they were spectacular from our distant perch. However, I am certain they are even more spectacular up close and personal. So, I decided an appropriate return to the PCT includes watching a massive fireworks on the shore of Lake Tahoe. I will fly to Reno on July 3, catch a bus to South Lake Tahoe, and spend the 4th of July buying a few items that I do not want to carry on the plane and squaring away my pack. With the Lake of the Sky Outfitters’ assistance, I hope to find a trail angel to take me to Barker Pass the morning of July 5.
I really don’t have much to do before returning to the PCT. I already have updated my gear and tweaked my resupply plan. I have been hiking one or two times a week. I am chatting with some friends about some overnight hikes and will slowly ratchet up the miles and pack weight to ensure I am in good hiking shape when I return. Most of the next 154 days will be focused on my diet. While all thru hikers lose weight, I want to make certain to prevent an excessive weight loss similar to last year.
I look forward to being back on the trail and don’t plan many changes in my hiking style. My biggest regret from 2012 was not taking more pictures, especially pictures of my fellow hikers. I intend to correct that this year.
See you down the trail.
It has been 3 1/2 months since I got off the Pacific Crest Trail at Barker Pass (just above Lake Tahoe) and returned to South Carolina to “fatten up.” I am pleased to report that I have gained back all but 5 of the pounds I lost on the trail. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t recall some aspect of my 2012 PCT hike or think about my return to the trail. I have enjoyed and taken great pride in seeing many of those with whom I hiked complete the PCT. In the last few weeks, 6 of the 8 “Usual Suspects” and many other of my trail friends made it all the way to Canada. Whenever I saw one of their pictures at the northern terminus, in addition to being happy over their accomplishment, I could not help but feel a little twang of envy and disappointment for not being there with them. But, not to worry, that disappointment will serve as additional motivation when I return in early July 2013 to resume my hike to Manning Park, Canada.
I am extremely humbled yet very pleased to report that the pledges for my PCT 2012 hike raised over $3,400 for the Communities for Marines. Since I am going to be the co-chair for “Honoring Their Service 2013″ and the chair for “HTS 2014,” I hope to exceed that total in 2013.
Fall has come to the Upstate of South Carolina; and, with the cooler temperatures, I have resumed hiking. I have taken day hikes with the Oconee Hikers to such exotic places as Yellow Mountain, John Rock, Looking Glass Rock, and Scaly Mountain. I have also gotten the Spinnaker Cove group out a couple of times. The hiking has been great and the views spectacular. The cooler temperatures have caused the leaves to begin their annual change of colors as demonstrated by the below picture which I took recently while visiting Stumphouse Tunnel. Located about 7 miles northwest of Walhalla on Hwy 28, the 1,617 foot long Stumphouse Tunnel is an oddity. Started in 1852 to connect Charleston to Knoxville and eventually on to Cincinnati, the Civil War—and lack of funds—brought construction to a halt. While there were various efforts by the Blue Ridge Railroad to revive the tunnel, none of them came to pass and it stands today as a monument to the efforts of pre-Civil War engineering.
See you down the trail, Just Retired.
I left the Mexican Border on April 26 with the goal of thru hiking to Canada in a single season. I got off the trail 1127 miles into my hike at Barker Pass on July 7. Although I was feeling good and was having no problems with my energy level, I had loss an excessive amount of weight and looked emaciated. Joyce and I were concerned that continued hiking could potentially adversely impact my health. I have no doubt that the decision to come home with Joyce was the right one. In some ways, I felt like a failure and felt compelled to apologize for only hiking 1127 miles. After all, my goal was to hike to Canada. Well, my hike was not a failure. I owe no apologies for only hiking 1127 miles. To the contrary, I am proud of what I did. I may not have fulfilled my initial goal; but, as often happens in life, circumstances have required me to revise my goal to simply hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail. THE DREAM LIVES ON!!!
The PCT in some ways is a mirror image of life. There are ups and downs. There are times when the trail is smooth sailing. There are times when it is rocky. There are times when things go as you planned. There are times when you are confronted with unexpected obstacles (challenges).
I have posted a compilation video of photos from my hike on Youtube that you may enjoy.
- Total PCT Miles – 1127
- Days on the trail – 73 (avg miles per day – 15.4)
- Days hiking – 63 (avg miles per day – 17.8)
- Zero Days – 10 Kick Off (2), Idyllwild, Big Bear City, Wrightwood, Agua Dulce, Mojave, Bishop, Bridgeport (2)
- Blog Site Hits as of July 26 – 19,066
Equipment Review: Overall, I was basically happy with all my equipment and do not intend any major changes when I return to the trail.
- ULA Circuit Backpack – It was a little tight to get everything in my backpack when I was carrying a bear canister. The ULA Catalyst would have been the better choice. However, since I won’t be carrying a bear canister in the future, I plan no changes.
- Marmot Helium +15 Degree Sleeping Bag – I sleep in my underwear and this bag kept me warm even the few nights with temperatures in the 20s. Since I expect warmer nights, I may take a lighter sleeping bag with a liner for my return hike.
- Contrail Tarptent – This tent served me well. Other than high winds, it was never really tested. However, based on experiences during my training hikes, I feel comfortable it would do well in heavy rain.
- Therm-a-Rest Neo Air Sleeping Pad – I have read reports from others about this pad being easily punctured. I had no such problems. I simply took care where I located my tent. I was extra careful the three nights I cowboy camped.
- Jetboil Sol Stove – Most of my meals were freezed-dried so I for the most part just used my stove to boil water. (When I did cook meals it was somewhere I could easily wash out my pot.) The Jetboil was rapid and efficient. I easily got 20 meals out of each canister.
- Katadyn Hiker PRO Water Filter – I used this filter until I hit the Sierras when I switched to using bleach. I was satisfied with its performance. It did tend to get harder to pump water as the filter was put to more use. I will plan to change the filter cartridge more frequently on my return to the trail.
- Exped Air Pillow – This is the only item of equipment that failed me. Three nights before I got off the trail, it split down one of the seams. It definitely added to my sleeping comfort and I will replace it before going back on the trail.
See you down the trail.
Today’s Miles: 0
Total PCT Miles: 1127
Joyce and I had a great week in Reno. (The Thunderbird Resort where we stayed was actually in Sparks, NV.) We did a little gambling, checked out the local sights, hit a couple of All You Can Eat buffets, did Trail Magic a couple of days, and just relaxed.
Soon after Joyce picked me up in Tahoe City on July 7, she voiced concern over my emaciated appearance and the potential for future health problems. I share her concern over my weight loss and decided to return to South Carolina to “fatten up.” So, I am no longer a PCT Thru-hiker. I have not given up on my dream to hike the entire PCT and will return to complete it as a section hiker. I am not sure when, but I suspect next year will find me at Barker Pass above Lake Tahoe (pictured below).
Some days on the trail were more fun than others, but I thoroughly enjoyed every day of my hike. I did not make the halfway point, but 1127 miles is a fairly decent hike. I took a side hike up Mt Whitney, the highest point in the Continental US; went thru the High Sierras which included going over the 13,500 foot Forester Pass and 9 other passes over 10,000 feet; visited several great trail towns; fought and won many battles with mosquitoes; crawled over, under, or around countless blowdowns; and, most importantly, met some great people. The great people include fellow hikers, trail angels, trail maintenance crews, store clerks, waiters/waitresses, people on the street and many others.
I had a great support group that made each day’s hike easier. I would never have even considered such an undertaking without Joyce’s full and unconditional support. I also could never had made it without her logistical support. The Keowee Key ” Hike with Mike” group and those who pledged to “Honoring Their Service” provided a daily incentive. The supportive emails from friends and complete strangers were greatly appreciated.
Hiking the 1127 miles from Campo to Lake Tahoe was an unforgettable experience. I look forward to what the next 1538 has to offer.
See you down the trail.