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
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!