After last year’s short-lived attempt to return to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, I suspect many people will be surprised to learn I went back on the trail.
I have no regrets about getting off the trail last year, but the dream of hiking the PCT never really died. The first part of the year, a friend of mine in the Seattle area and I starting talking about hiking the Washington section of the PCT. Regretfully, a foot injury interrupted his training and he had to cancel. I decided, if I was going to hike Washington, why not start where I got last year and give a shot at the rest of the trail. After all, I am not getting any younger.
Following a successful 2014 Honoring Their Service event and a 44 year anniversary celebration on the 4th at one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Travinia’s, (Joyce and I had the dining room to ourselves – the manager said they had not advertised they were going to be open on the 4th), I flew from Greenville to Reno on July 5. I took the bus to Truckee and spent the night at the Inn of Truckee. I returned to the PCT on July 6 at the spot I got off at last year – the I-80 Rest Stop outside Truckee.
July 6 miles: 18.5
2014 PCT miles: 18.5
Total PCT miles: 1178.5
My arranged ride was about 30 minutes late picking me up at Inn of Truckee. By the way, if you ever need a room in Truckee, I recommend staying some where else. It was clean and cheap, but needs renovation.
After a brief telephone conversation with Joyce, I stepped back on the PCT at 7:35 AM. I had 3 steady climbs before lunch. For the day, I had over 2800 feet in elevation gain. Nothing steep, but everything over 6500 feet in elevation. I hope I get acclimated to the elevation quickly. The last climb was painfully slow.
Saw lots of hikers but most were locals. Late afternoon, I passed Treehugger and Petunia, a couple from Atlanta hiking south on the PCT. They started at Crater Lake. Once they finish the Sierras, they will go to Canada and hike south to Crater Lake. So, I may see them again. Also saw a small deer.
July 7 miles: 19
2014 PCT miles: 37.5
Total PCT miles: 1197.5
Last night, just as I was starting to fall asleep, I heard foot steps in my campsite. I looked out to see a huge deer. Cool.
This morning I was on the trail by 6:45. About an hour into the hike, Banana Boat, a young lady from Idaho, became the first north bound PCT hiker to pass me. A little later, Teddy Rose passed me.
I hiked the rest of the day in overcast skies that kept the temperatures down. There were more downs than ups. Mid afternoon a hiker named Allen caught up with me. He declined my offer to let him pass and he pushed me the rest of the afternoon. He was going into Sierra City and I decided to join him.
We had BBQ chicken at the Sierra City hotel restaurant. They are normally closed on Monday but opened to feed about 10 hikers. We are camping on the church lawn.
July 8 miles: 19
2014 PCT miles: 57
Total PCT miles: 1216
I woke early and hiked the 1.5 miles (not included in the daily mileage) back to the PCT. It was a hard day. Climbed up and around Sierra Bluffs. Total elevation gain was 4800 feet. The climb was made even more challenging by the trail being covered by rocks. If it wasn’t little rocks, it was big rocks that really slowed my progress. The photo is the back side of Sierra Bluffs.
I stopped on a mountain top to cook dinner at about 5:00. I was pleased to see I had 3 bars on my phone and was able to call Joyce. Shortly after I hung up from talking with Joyce, Alan came walking up. He left Sierra City 3 hours after me. We continued 3 more miles to a campsite by a small lake.
July 9 miles: 10.5
2014 PCT miles: 67.5
Total PCT miles: 1227.5
I decided to hike a short day to give my muscles a chance to recover.
Took my time breaking camp. Alan was going to do 20 miles today so we said farewell. A South bound couple at our campsite last night told us there was trail magic in the form of root beer floats 4 miles up the trail. When I got there you could see everything was in place for trail magic, but the person doing it was apparently still in his camper asleep. I continued on.
I passed my first northbound hiker. He is 73 and told me he is the slowest hiker on the trail. I believe it. He left from the I-80 rest stop on June 22. (I left from there on July 6.)
July 10 miles: 7.5
2014 PCT miles: 75
Total PCT miles: 1235
I woke before day break and laid pondering my plans for the day. I have been having trouble getting food down the last couple of days and am concerned about my calorie intake. So, I decided to go into Quincy early.
I made the Quincy-Laporte road mid morning. One of the books on the PCT says this 22 mile hitch is a tough hitch and doesn’t recommend it. I agree. In the first hour only 8 logging trucks passed by. A couple of Forest Service guys stopped but were only going a couple of miles. They offered to give me a ride down the road to a location where getting a ride might be better. They also gave me some much needed cold water. 2 minutes later, a young woman surprised me by stopping and giving me a ride. Hers was the first car I had seen in over an hour. She took me to the post office where I got my resupply box. (I planned to resupply at Quincy just further up the trail.)
I had a cheeseburger at the Court House Cafe and walked down the street and checked into the Spanish Creek Inn where I plan to take a zero tomorrow. Had pizza for dinner.
Failed to mention I had a bear cub run across the trail this morning. It was too quick for me to get a photo. Never saw Mama Bear.
July 11 miles: 0
2014 PCT miles: 75
Total PCT miles: 1235
A zero in Quincy.
Slept good, waking about 7:00. Spent some time organizing my food supplies for the next portion of the trail before walking to the Court House Cafe for breakfast. Had a western omelet. Then it was off to Safeway.
Spent the rest of the day relaxing.
July 12 miles: 19
2014 PCT miles: 94
Total PCT miles: 1254
Woke early, checked out of the Spanish Creek Inn, and walked up the street for breakfast.
I then walked up the street to position myself for a hitch to Buck’s Summit. Took awhile, but I finally got a ride. I was back on the trail about 9:00. Started with a fairly gentle climb of about 1800 feet. The trail then stayed fairly level as it worked its way around Spanish Peak. The day ended with an almost 5000 descent in 6 miles down to Belden Town. It was around 90 degrees and I was drained by the time I got to Belden. Food consumption was again a concern.
Here is where I ate lunch on the backside of Spanish Mountain.
Spoke with Joyce and shared my concerns. After our call, I looked at all my options and decided to terminate my hike. I gave my old friend, Craig Saunders, a call and he agreed to come get me.
Spent the night at Braaten’s Hiker Haven.
July 13 miles: 0
2014 PCT miles: 94
Total PCT miles: 1254
I woke early and walked down the highway to the Belden Resort to have breakfast and to wait for Craig. He arrived around 10:00 and took me to Sacramento.
My dream of completing the entire PCT probably should have ended last year, but it did not. It has now!
I will cherish every memory of my PCT adventures. Words cannot begin to describe the spectacular scenery I encountered. The camaraderie of the trail community is like no other. I am grateful that I was part of it, if only for a little while.
Follow your dreams!
One month ago today, I surprised myself with an abrupt decision to end my hike to Canada. If I had stayed on the PCT and hiked at the pace I projected, today I would be somewhere between Seiad Valley and Callahan’s Lodge. I have great memories of my hike in 2012 and the 2 brief days of my 2013 hike. I met some great people, saw some spectacular scenery, and had many magical moments. I hiked 1159 miles, approximately 43%, of the Pacific Crest Trail. My hike provided me a greater appreciation for the simpler things in life and increased my love of the outdoors. I have no regrets about my decision to get off the trail.
Since coming home, everywhere I go, I cannot avoid someone asking why I decided to get off the trail. I have been awed by the over whelming support.
I have not given up hiking or backpacking. As soon as the temperatures moderate some, I will be back on some local trail. I also intend to do some section hiking of the Appalachian Trail.
I will leave this blog up. Hopefully it will help others considering a thru hike. My advice to them is to follow your dream and to Hike Your Own Hike.
I offer a heartfelt thanks to all those that helped me on my hike and to those that contributed to “Honoring Their Service.” Most importantly, I thank Joyce, my wife of 43 years and the love of my life, for her unwavering support and encouragement. I look forward to many future adventures with her.
Hope to see you on the trail!
Today’s miles: 13
2013 PCT miles: 32
Total PCT miles: 1159
I woke early after a very restful night of sleep. I took my time breaking camp and having my breakfast, and I was on the trail at 6:40 AM. After an initial climb of over a thousand feet, the trail stayed on a ridge line with spectacular views in every direction for several miles.
I begin to meet day hikers and even runners as I approached Donner Pass. One day hiker asked if I wanted a cold drink. He had a bear canister in his back pack which was full of beer and soda. Thanks Reno Dave for the 7-Up.
As I arrived at Hwy 40 and Donner Pass, I heard someone say, “Hey, Just Retired.” It was Scott, a lawyer from Sacramento with whom I had hiked some last year. (Scott completed the PCT.) Scott and Anna were doing trail magic. I sat in one of their lawn chairs and enjoyed a couple of cold drinks, a banana, a cookie, and good conversation before moving on.
I took the above photo of Donner Lake immediately after crossing Hwy 40.
I soon came to I-80. The trail ran right behind a rest stop and I decided to take advantage of the facilities and fill up with water. I found a picnic table in the shade to have a snack. A Desolation Wilderness Ranger joined me to eat her lunch. She asked if I was a thru hiker and if I was getting off the trail. I said that sounded tempting.
She left and for the next hour I sat pondering my response. For almost a year I have looked forward to returning to the PCT. Canada was still a long way off. Could I do it? Yes. Would it be easy? No. Did I want to do it? No.
After realizing I no longer have the desire to hike the remaining portion of the trail, I then debated when to get off the trail. I could hike a few more days or weeks, but sitting at a rest stop on I-80 seemed like as good as place as any. I called Craig in Sacramento. Before I said anything, he asked if I wanted him to come get me. I said yes. He took me to Reno where I caught a flight to Greenville.
In a couple of days, I will attempt to write a final entry to this blog. Please know that I greatly appreciate the support that I have received from so many. I suspect there are some who will be disappointed with my decision. I am not.
Today’s Miles: 19
2013 PCT Miles: 19
Total PCT Miles: 1146
The Saunders and I had a nice dinner at an Italian Restaurant in South Tahoe and then watched the fireworks. They were spectacular up close and personal. A very enjoyable evening.
Wish I could say the same about the night. Some rowdy drunks made noise all night long. I think I got about 2 hours sleep. Bonnie and Craig got less.
This morning, we drove to Tahoe City and had breakfast at the Dam Cafe. The Dam is where Joyce picked me up last year. After breakfast we drove to Barker Pass and I was back on the PCT at 7:52 AM.
It was nice to be back on the Pacific Crest Trail. The below us looking back at Lake Tahoe.
I hiked most of the day at around 8000 feet. The temperature was a little less than what we were having in SC. The humidity is a lot less. The climbs are steeper in the Carolinas. But, the elevation has really challenged me. I was zonked by the end of the day.
Hikers met today: Feather, Goodall, Blurr, Commando, and Cookie.
I am camped alone tonight.
South Tahoe, CA
Today’s Miles: 0
2013 Miles: 0
Total PCT Miles: 1127
I spent Tuesday night in Greenville with Linda and Randy Foshee, good friends who are watching out dogs until Joyce returns from Europe. Randy took me to the airport yesterday morning. The lady working the American Airline counter was a friend from my TSA days and she helped me get good seats all the way to Reno. (Thank you, Joy for my first trail magic.) My second trail magic occurred at Reno Airport when Jim Picolla, the Godson of a fellow retired MP officer, picked me up and gave me a ride to the Motel Six in South Tahoe. (Thank you, Jim. It was nice meeting you.) I had dinner and went to bed early – my body was still on Eastern Standard time.
I was pleasantly waken by my IPhone about 2:00 AM when it alerted me to some text messages from Joyce. She was in Genova, Italy waiting for a train to Germany. It was the first WiFi she had for a while. A few minutes later she called me. It was good to hear her voice. The phone call was too short, but we were able to wish each other a 43rd wedding anniversary.
This morning I watched the South Tahoe 4th of July parade.
Craig and Bonnie Saunders, friends from our military days, will be coming into town later today. We are going to have dinner and then watch fireworks. They will take me to Barker Pass in the morning and I will resume my hike to Canada.
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