Monday, May 25, 2015

Day 42 - Push to Tehachapi

Mile 549.7 to 566.5 (hwy 58) - 16.8 miles

Up early on our windy ridge. Make coffee from our tent. The stakes had pulled up from our respective rainfly vestibules and was flapping. Instead of getting up to search for the stakes and reset it, we just tucked the flaps under our tent below our sleeping pads, and held tight that way. Luckily at dawn it was not that hard to find our stakes. Success. Wehadnt feared rain that night, but we thought we would try to keep sand and dust from pushing through our mesh all night with it. We have the big Agnes copper spur II, so though it is a double walled tent (tent with separate rain fly) the tent body is nearly all mesh with only a solid bathtub floor which saves considerable weight. 
Any who, another day of hiking through wind farms. I started to go a little crazy, always feeling like we were hiking in circles. We made it to the willow springs road, which is theoretically an easier hitch into town, but we opted to continue on another 8 miles to hwy 58. Almost nobody does this I guess, but it means a much longer water haul the ext day if you don't so I don't understand why everybody bails. That next section was a bit soul sucking. It was much hotter, drab, and towards the end there were ridiculously long and shallow switchbacks down the hill. It was freaking stupid and I see now why people cut PCT switchbacks, sometimes they are absurd. I actually hated the trail at that point. Anyways, after that it was about a mile to the freeway overpass, in the middle of nowhere. As we got closer to where all the hikers were sitting, god knows why, grant spotted a car heading towards the onramp and yelled for me to stick my thumb out. I never saw the car before it had pulled over to give us a ride! Im sure that group of hikers are still talking about it. Part luck I guess (or good karma?) And part because we are only two people with a lady, or "ride bride" as we are sometimes called. grant and I really are a couple though.  Made it to the hotel, got our new shoes, and had a nice soak in the hot tub. Not a bad day really :)

Day 41 - Hiking through Windfarms is Windy, and my first "10 by 10"

Mile 529.2 to 549.7 20.5 miles

UP and attem, hiking by 0610, all morning chores complete.  Windy as all hell.  I was hell bent on getting my first 10 by 10 in (ten miles by 10am). I had come close before.  Grant had to keep stopping to address his blisters, but I really wanted to charge on, so I left him (knowing he had enough water, come on, I would never leave him to die in the desert, and for god's sakes, it's blisters, and people are always walking by, well, not that day, but i would have gone back for him, and I had goals!!! Fueled by the first marathon of my life, I became a callous person, but you know)  Ok, well, I got my ten by ten, but it was at the cost of our relationship...Not totally, we hugged and made up, then hiked on. We've been together for 14 years, we tend to repair our rifts quickly.
Hiked on through wind so strong it was blowing me off the trail. Not too scary, but a tad annoying and challenging.  Made it to our water source, where we saw Cavalier!!!  hahaha, we had caught up, sort of.  He was leaving, and we were going to spend 1-2 hours at the water source.  Very funny how this trail works out though.
Had a huge lunch, trying to eat through the weight on my back. I still haven't learned how to resupply and always have waaay too much food, which equals way too much weight. Headed out of the canyon where the wind continued to blow me off the trail, but uphill, instead of down the steep hillside :)  Uphill, downhill, UP HILL. I know it's the nature of the beast, but some days you are just over it.  Made it to a water cache with chairs and apples.  We had enough water, but ate an apple and chatted with some fellas, subsisting off of food they find in hiker boxes, boiling water and making stews out of things such as couscous, mashed potatoes, and anything else, all in a big pot they share. So fun to see how other people do things.
We hiked on another half mile, and scoured the area for half an hour before we found something enough out of the wind but not next to dead trees.  Made dinner in the tent because of the wind and fatigue, then to bed.

Day 40 - Our first Marathon!!! Yes, US!

Mile 503.0 to 529.2  - 26.2 miles, oh yeah, you heard me, a marathon :)
Woke up on trail to a little more misty rain, but it seemed to settle down as we moaned and groaned. I  had had night terrors all night long, trying to scream but coming out as wimpers that Grant ignored, of course, cooly letting my be terrorized by my mind all night long...Anyhoo...
Packed up our sopping wet tent, and moved onwards.  Stopped for water at a "guzzler" which apparently is a big plastic tank partially underground with a low roof and downspout used for collecting water.  THere was water alright, and we got all the rest of our morning chores done.  Then hike hike hike, flat, wet but not raining, finally heading down out of the hills towards the Mojave Desert floor.  At about 1230 we stopped for lunch (third breakfast?  second lunch?)  and dried out our tent and rainfly, then up and hiking onwards to Hiker Town.
Hiker Town is some guys home where he built all these little bungalows to look like an old Western town.  Pretty cool.  Lots of subdued enthusiasm in the hiker lounge, aka garage.  Everybody staring at their phones, pretty weird.  Most people hike the Mojave, LA aquaduct section at night, but it was really cool that day, so we were just getting water and moving on.  Made it to the open aquaduct.  rushing cold water in the middle of the desert.  Of course, that didn't last long, as it soon went underground.  We turned Northerly and followed a branch of the aqueduct in a pipe, then turned easterly again, where it went completely underground and was just a dirt road with miles of concrete over the underground water.
At about 6pm we stopped to eat dinner before hiking on.  We checked our halfmile App on our phones and saw we had gone about 23 miles.  I said, "We are hiking a marathon today.  We can do 3.5 more miles!"  Grant agreed (well, he didn't fight it)...And we did!!!  But not a step more.  We gorilla camped on the side of the dirt road in some bushes and called it a night.

Day 39 - back on trail at upper shake campground - hangover hiking - 500 MILES!!!

Alternate Road Walk Mile 6 to 12.9 (PCT mile 493.4) - 6.9 miles
PCT mile 493.4 to 503.0 - 9.6 miles
Total miles = 16.5 all with a big fat hangover!

Got up in our ghost brothel. I looked at the maps, and decided to go back to our original plan of getting off the road walk at the earliest point, Shake Canyon, or something like that. Everybody else is road walking all the way to hikertown because it saves a ton of miles. A lot even hitched all the way to hikertown from the Anderson's, and those who didn't are roadwalking something like 20 miles. Some need to get to Tehachapi before memorial day weekend closes the post office, etc...we are sending our stuff to a hotel, so no problems for us. We are, however, meeting Grant's dad up at Walker Pass on the 30th, so being behind schedule and "adding" miles means we will have to hoof it the next week.
We say goodbye to our road walking friends at our turnoff for the trail, 4.4 more miles down the road, sitting around drinking warm beers from the night before, when a huge rattle snake came slithering past us. Yuck! I jump up out of the way, while our friends scrambled to get a picture. It gaves us one little rattle and kept on going. Now I can't say I was the first person to hike the PCT without seeing a rattlesnake, but I'm glad I finally saw my first one.  Now the next one won't be as scary.
Walking up to join the trail was not bad. It is very sad more people are not doing it. Actually, it kills me. It did mean solitude though. We climbed up into the low clouds, and had a very cool, misty, beautiful hike. It really is nice walking up there, so don't road walk crazy people!!! Made it to mile 500!!!!  And I can honestly say it's been about 500 miles as we have not skipped anything, having now walked a continuous path through all the fire closures.  Pats on our backs, yay!!!
We made it 16.5 miles with our hangovers, pitched a tent, and about 20 minutes after we climbed into our sleeping bag, it started raining. Whew, barely made it!

Day 38 - we got Goosed!

Anderson's, mile 478.2, PowerHouse fire closure alternate road walk to Lake Hughes Rock Inn. Big 6 mile day!!!
Got up, had some pancakes, cinnamon!!! At casa Del Luna, made it to the store for supplies, turns out the lady who work's there, her daughter is about to graduate from the US Merchant Marine Academy Kings Point as an engineer, and she did her cadet shipping with Grant. Small world, and small industry. Luckily, Grant claims he was nice to her :).  Walked to ranger station, washed our socks, started walking the detour at about 10am. We got a text from mama goose, they had already made it to rock inn and were waiting for us. We get there, and turns out there was another beer front! Yikes. Mama Goose got us two rooms upstairs in the old brothel, complete with ghosts, and everything. No arguments allowed. You know how it goes. We did get laundry done though! Anyways, day 5 of a beer front, and we have a new name for what happened "we got goosed!!" Well, actually, grant and I are always down for debauchery in old brothels. We are sailors, after all.

Day 37 - Casa de Luna

Day 37 - mike 465.9 to 478.2 plus .4 from store to Andersons 12.7 miles

Casa Del Luna/The Anderson's/Hippie Daycare

Woke up early as usual, camping with Mama Goose. We had breakfast with her and chatted awhile then grant and I were off at 0790. She still had to pack up her tent and gear, but she hikes way faster than me, so we knew we would see her before long.
Hiking was cool and nice, not too bad. We did finally see mama goose an hour before the road, but she charged on. Got to the Ranger Station and debated if we would stand around hitching the 1.6 miles to the store or start walking. I said if the first car doesn't stop, then we would hike. Well, of course the firts car stopped! We picked up Shuffle (as in iPod shuffle 'cause turns out he sings a lot :), made it to the convenience store, got an 18pack of pbr, and then walked to Hippie Day Care.
Hanging out at the Anderson's was awesome! Bunch of dirty hiker trash just hanging out. Resembled our times at Lake Mead! Grant even told his "how do you sell a deaf guy a chicken" joke. Hawaiian shirts for everybody, really really fun. They had a whole manzanita forest in their property for camping. Their famous taco salad was served with a smack on the butt with a stick if you broke the rules. I helped pick up, followed her in, and started doing dishes. Turns out, it doesn't happen very often that the drunk hiker trash offers to do dishes!
By the time I came back outside, all my friends were gone, it was dark, and I didn't have my headlamp. I stumbled (from the darkness) to the backyard calling for grant. He just kept whistling at me. Luckily Cavalier saved me, standing up with his headlamp guiding me to my tent. I finished off my IPA that Mrs. Anderson had given me for doing dishes, and went to sleep.
This place is an icon, but tends to bring freeloaders. We met people, who I thought I liked, who had hitched their then stayed for 5 days! And then weren't helping with anything!! And let's just say the Good Karma jar was pretty much empty. She hosts upwards of 50 people a day (about 35 when we were there). This is likely the last year after 15 years of hospitality casa Del Luna will open their doors, probably because there are just too many people on trail now. But I feel very lucky to have met them and had a beautiful time so thankyou!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day 35 and 36 -agua dulce to camp with Mama Goose

Yes, well, where I last left off we were sitting in a cafe in agua dulce with plans to resupply and move on. Well, that didn't happen because the warriors rolled in, and of course we owed them a round, which turned into three pitchers of beer, beer to go, and them cramming us into their VFW host's truck to take us to their RVs and to the VFW bar..well, you know how these things go. So it was a 10.2 mile Nero, though I'm going to call it a half day. Anything over 6 miles but under 14 will officially be a half day :)

Day 36 - mile 454.5 to 465.9 agua dulce to camp with Mama Goose
Got up, had donuts and coffee that Tina, manager of the VFW bar and an air force desert storm vet herself, brought us/ made for us, then she drove us all back to town. Finished some beers from the night before, then we decided we needed a six pack of IPA before hiking, and then I decided we needed some 24 oz beers for the hike up. Other hikers joined us  for the fun, though others moved on from the debauchery. We decided to make the long climb to the top of the next hill before having out beers. Bags were solo heavy from the seven day resupply, plus water and beer. We had plans to all go to the Anderson's, so mama goose and us threw in the towel early and camped up by 4:45, our hangovers having nothing to do with it. 14 miles to go in the morning, then our last hoorah before the long walk across the Mojave and up to tehachapi continues. So awesome to meet up with our friends again after big bear. I've decided to go by Starboard after all, the name given by our friend Wild Man, as beesting/sting isn't working out well, but grant is going to go by "good time grant". Everybody likes that name :)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Days 28 thru 35 - cajon pass to agua dulce

Hello all, having trouble blogging right now. We are in agua dulce, home of the old hiker heaven, mile 454.4 at the cafe. Some day I will flesh out these days, but I'll give you the cliff notes for now:

Day 28 - mile 341.8 to 352.7 plus .9 miles= 11.8 miles...afternoon start leaving best western cajon pass. Meet a guy, first day on trail, very little backpacking experience, only carrying 1.5 liters water for 27 mile dry stretch, all uphill. Saved his life telling him about the seven liters I had, and he would likely die if he continues. Water cache where we make him get 5 more liters water. Fell way behind us after that. Haven't seen him since. Scary

Day 29 - 352.7 to 369.4 16.7 miles Wrightwood - up at 0355, walking by 0430. Almost get 10 by 10 (10 miles by 10am) instead get 9.8 miles by 10am. Robin Hood out of water, say well give him some of ours once we are 4 miles from the end. Doesn't come to that. Finish our 27+ waterless stretch with 1 liter left and at 2pm. Easy hitch down to Wrightwood, but expensive room. Nice night anyways.

Day 30 - Wrightwood, mt baden Powell mile 369.4 to 379.5 10.1 miles (pathetic)
Late hotel start. Climb (hike) Mt Baden Powell, founder of boy scouts. Dry camp. Cold

Day 31 - 1 month on trail!!! Mile 379.5 to 390.2  20.0 miles - includes alternate around endangered species detour, with 2.7 miles road walking. Lots of ups and downs, met a guy trying to get 36 miles in to beet the incoming storm. Smart guy turns out. We can't do those miles yet ( or ever :) cold, threatening clouds, hike on almost to 400, but stop at pullout in the trail, near hwy 2, but off highway.

Day 32  - mile 398.7 to 418.7 20 miles! Campsite near mike 400 to Millcreek fire station - rain and snow the whole time plus poodledog bush. Awful. Push on as already wet, so wanted to keep going and camp neat water source and away from snow. Snow gets deep. Running. Make it to fire station...trail angel Mary picking up some frat boys, so also gives us ride to hotel. Grateful to be warm and dry out our stuff.

Day 33 - mile 418.7 to 430.4 11.7 miles.. trail angel Mary picks us up. Grant pumps her gas. Takes us back to Millcreek fire station. Have two 24 oz pbrs for bbking. Good man, great music. Find my phone right where I left it. Hike in through the newly opened poodledog bush trail. Half cleared and beautiful, half a bit dodgy and tedious navigation around it. Cool weather so ok in full long sleeves and pants. Don't want to get burned!!! No rain. Yay :) camp messenger flats. Pathetic 11.7 mile day. Oh well. Oh yeah, put a scull back together and put on trail to scare people :)

Day 34 - Acton KOA day...mile 430.4 to 444.3 - warm but not hot great walking to koa. Laundry, shower, hot tub, funny guts Tom Sawyer and the dude ( prob too big a title for the kid, but oh well) grant gets to borrow the koa ladies bike and buys beer. Order pizza. Drink all night with Breaks. Very fun

Day 35  - Acton koa to agua dulce and on. I'm in agua dulce. The day is not done :)

Pictures on instagram

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Day 27, silverwood lake to Cajon Pass Best Western - mile 328.7 to 341.8 plus .9 miles = 14 miles

Woke up earlyish, flush toilet!!! Woo hoo. Walking by about 6am with all morning chores complete. Champions!

Up and over, easy walking compared to last year with cold temps and blisters not too terrible. Met a trail runner woman who was super nice. We caught her again on her way back. says she runs up to 50 mile races. Crazy. She hiked with us a little while chatting, where I asked her about the gels. She gave me a different brand to try in mocha and vanilla flavors, agreeing powetbar sucks. Will definitely be better than the strawberry banana crap we choked down the day before. Very kind, an then off she went.

Made it to the subway gas station after a harrowing walk on the freeway overpass at about 1230, maybe earlier. 14 mikes by noon almost. Subway was temporarily closed due to a spill of some sort. Argh! Been dreaming of it since before big bear! Since the awful desert section after Ziggy and the bears, in fact. Oh well. We head over to the hotel, another death defying road crossing, bit first grabbed some beer. Room not ready as hotel had been sold out the night before while people waited out the storm, so we asked if we could drink beer in the lobby. No problem!!! This is hiker trash central and they let us do all kinds of things normal establishments frown upon :)

We handed out beers to any hiker who would have one until our room was ready, then we made the dash back to subway for food, because it was 2pm and I was a puddle of tears with hunger. I got a footlong veggie sandwich with triple cheese and atd it all within about 3 1/2 minutes. Then it was a shower, laundry, and hot tub time. After that, blogging, and grant passed out at about 6:45 pm.

We have a 30 mile waterless stretch ahead to Wrightwood. We are guaranteed not to get an early start, so I'm over it worrying.

Take it easy guys. Wrightwood here we come!


Day 26 - Deep creek hot springs to silverwood lake mike 307.7 to 328.7 21 miles!!.

After having walked in threatening clouds and light sporatic sprinkles the day before, the rain came overnight. Alarm clock off at 0415 as usual (ha ha) rain coming down, toss and turn, finally decide to make coffee from inside the sleeping bag. Great idea, but very dangerous, considering the previous day. Still, genius! Breakfast and coffee I'm bed. Rain stops, and we pack up and hit the trail.

Another cold day wearing fleece. I'm loving it as last year was so different! Hike the part we hitchhiked around last year and it is nice, except one small segment along a highway near the dam. Luckily it was short, but when I thought it would be a long road walk, I started thinking of a song, something like "weeelllll, I quit my job and I sold my house so I could walk down this damned old highway to hell" it shortly veered off the highway up towards the lake where it was a nice walk. Tried some awful powerbar gel that made us gag but had caffeine. Bleh!  Made it to the (closed) cleghorn picnic area, found an open flush toilet an water spigot, layed out our tent, pulled up a picnic table and called it a day, our first 20 mile day!!! More than 20 miles!!!!  Yayayayayayyay!

Pictures on instagram

Day 25 - march to deep creek, mile 288.1 to 307.7 19.6 miles

Alarm clock goes off at 0415, manage to sit up at 0455, walking by 0515. That's what my notes say, but can't be true, probably walking at 0615. It was really, really cold. Come to think of it, maybe we were walking by 0515, so maybe I got up earlier that I think. Its really hard to say. Regardless,  all I know is I was cranky and anxious and  we hadn't had any coffee, breakfast or anything, just up and moving.

Little rays of sunlight finally started reaching over the hills, and we found a sunny spot for coffee.. Woops, that's a tent. Keep trucking a couple minutes and find a free spot in the morning sun for coffee.

So yeah, it was cold so I put my puffy on over my fleece, leaned over to turn the flame off on my stove, and poof! Caught the sleeve of my puffy on fire. Melted the cuff away in an instant exposing feathers in a huge patch. So my hated puffy had turned into a hated puffy I could not return. Luckily I had pink flamingo duct tape to patch her up, so I do still have a nice $300 pillow. Some mornings just fight back.

Blister pain comes and goes, nice walking in the cold to the deep creek bridge, where we washed our socks, ate a real lunch (mac and cheese) and hung out a few hours. A few hikers were across the creek but nobody came down to where we were sitting. Met somebody we are calling "Lawrence of Arabia" for quite obvious reasons once I got a look at him. slipped on a rock and scratched my arm up. Day continues to fight back :)

Back onto the bridge where a parent had kindly left a dirty diaper. No, baby shit in plastic garbage is not cute. Pack it out parents!!!

Hike hike hike, weather staying cool enough i leave my fleece on all day, and wear my hat and gloves at times. We passed 300 miles!!! Woo hoo! We come within what i guess is a mile, maybe half mile of the deep creek hot springs where I make us scramble down a steep dirt path in search of the awesome campsite I had last year with One Button. No luck. Just filthy toilet paper, burned out fire pits, trash etc...along the creek. The locals have totally destroyed this area. Did our best to find a spot that wasn't an obvious toilet, triple treated our water, dinner, then bed.

This day fought back, but the walking was fine, the memories fresh, and we almost got 20 miles in! Please don't read on if you don't like toilet rants.

Pictures on instagram

***I was going to do a large post all about when nature calls. I'll keep it short. Nevermind, it's quite long. Pack it in pack it out. Ladies, pack it out, drip dry, use a rock, or my favorite method a handkerchief that you rinse out periodically in a bag away from the water source, but do not leave toilet paper on the ground. Do not bury it either. It does not decompose in the desert at all(and not very fast in other environments) and then animals dig it up, or the wind blows uncovering it. Don't burn it either for bsesus sakes! you will start a forest fire. Toilet paper no. Gross.
Gentlemen, you too. Don't poop by the water source, And pack it out. You betcha I pack it out! Even those papers. Think that's gross? Other people's shitepapers on the ground is grosser, and we are not living the niceties of home out here. You must deal with your shite, literally. Pack toilet paper out damnit, and shite anywhere but near a water source. Hell no I'm not getting in those hot springs, this place has been destroyed.

On a lighter note,most people are not this upset, and have a lovely, happy naked old time in the hot springs, so enjoy :)

Day 24 - 2.5 mile road walk, then mile 275.2 and 288.1 15.5 miles

Got a late start, as per usual. Cab finally came to the hotel about 1000. Got to van dusen dirt road at 1030. Had a 24 oz "moosecock" PBR for the road. It was Grant's turn To carry the empty, so yippee for me :)

Nice hiking. I kept telling Grant to not get used to it as the next few days would be hot as hell, mark my words. Almost made it to where I camped last year with One Button further down Holcomb Creek. Nothing much to report, except it was a flattish downhill, cool weather, nice nice nice, except for the late start... Oh, blisters were marginal, but I got the Jimmy Buffet so song "my head hurts, my feet stink, and I don't love Jesus" song stuck in my head, except it should go, "my FEET hurt and my FEET stink, yadda yadda yadda" found a nice spot up on a small ridge away from the creek to camp because we were tired and it would be warmer than the creek bottom.  Dehydrated zatarains with spinach and cheese for me, and mountain House spaghetti for grant, with my favorite desert (and appetizer, and side dish) sour cream and onion potato chips. Yup, my body craves fat and salt, and I'm giving in.

In bed and asleep about 8:30. goodnight.

Pictures on instagram

Days 22 and 23 - miles big fat ZEROS!

Two zeros in big bear lake, so three nights at the Robin Hood Resort. Laundry, eating, drinking, food shopping, eating, drinking, shopping, eating, sleeping? In room spa...yes...oh yes. Feet say "Thankyou!!!"

Monday, May 4, 2015

Day 21 - Push for Van Dusen Mile 262.4 to 275.2 plus about 2 miles road walk - mileage 14.5-15 miles

After going to bed dead set on pushing past hwy 18 at mile 265, and finishing where I started last year at van dusen mile 275, our alarm clock went off and i couldn't move. Grant was practically unconscious. I got up to pee and everything ached. I told grant I was over it, and we would just get out in a few miles where everybody else gets out. He said we should sleep in then. After tossing and turning, we finally got up, inspired by future cold beer,had a leisurely morning drinking a cuppa coffee, other morning duties, everything! Started walking at 0700. Boy what a long glorious morning that was!

As soon as we started walking my mood lifted and my body aches melted away. My blisters weren't bad. I was walking on sunshine, and really fast. I forgot to mention that the previous day or two I named my blister(s) "sunshine" so umm, yeah. Lots of time on trail with my own thoughts, haha.

Anyhoo, I started regretting changing my mind about our day, especially since I had dumped water to save weight on our 3 mile walk. I told grant I wanted to continue after all, and he said we would get to the highway, tape his blisters and think about it. He was not as happy, prob because he didn't name his blisters sunshine. His are named more like "whywontyoufingbastardsquittorturingmeandgoaway" he also blamed me for our late start, ehem.

Back to my regret about the water(prob still had enough, but you know) I came across a bag hanging in a tree that said PChikers. I reached in and found cold bottled waters! Yay trail magic, I definitely could continue my hike!!! Woohoo.

Rolled into mile 265 at 0900, and grant spent half an hour working on his feet. Meanwhile we watched as carloads of hikers came and went with presumabely trail angels. Basically we were watching all our chances for a free ride come and go as we taped our feet and hemmed an hawed.

Some of our trail friendly acquaintances rolled out of a car with water for the (unexpected) water cache and told us tales of how awesome it was at papa smurf's house and they were slack-packing to van dusen with a ride at the other end. Well, that sealed the deal for me. Then we ran into some other other friends. It was hiker rush hour, and made me so happy. This trail is so funny. Everything happens for a reason. Getting a late start meant we ran into all these people and we mentally were able to keep going!

Hiking hard and fast on groomer trails, we arrive 10 miles later at Van Dusen road, mike 275.2. At about 2pm. There was a crowd of about 15 hikers there, some continuing on, but about 8 waiting for a ride from Papa Smurf. We saw some Warrior friends who gave us the scoop on where the rest of the crowd were staying. I had felt terrible because everyone was so nice trying to get us to stay at papa smurfs or the hiker hostel, when all I wanted was a nice hotel room to myself. At the same time sad at missing out on making friends and all the commaraderrie. Well, this was our perfect excuse, meeting up with our friends!!! Not really an excuse at all as true, but all the same.

We could see there was no way we would fit in a car with all those people, and while bs'ing watched two trucks go by, so we abruptly said goodbye, and started walking down the 3 mile dirt road to try to hitch.

The first truck pulled over and apologized for not having room. They really were packed to the gills with some serious car camping gear. We smiled and said of course it was no problem that they couldnt give is a ride, when grant spotted a cooler. He asked if they had a beer to sell us. The guy smiled and said no, but he could give us a beer. Score! Ice cold too, some tallboy dutch lager we had never heard of. Best beer ever :)

One more jeep pulled over to apologize for no room, and then papa smurf rolled up. He asked why we weren't waiting with everybody else, and we told him we didn't think he would have room. He said there is always room, just hop on the back like a fire truck. We told him we would catch him on the flipside maybe. About a half hour later he rolled up, and sure enough we climbed onto his narrow bumper, held onto his roof rack, packs on and poles on the roof, and slowly went down the dirt road in the overloaded car. Aren't we too old for this? Laughing all the way only moderately worried for our lives...

Papa smurf divided up everybody into different cars at the bottom where his wife Mountain Mama was waiting, then gave us a ride all the way to the hotel, after dropping people off at the store and hostel, while mountain mama took people to their house. She even called to ask if anybody wanted In and Out burgers! Freaking angles. I asked papa smurf if anybody had ever told him they were  saints. He said it was all in the service of the glory of god. Whatever, not our scene, but we were incredibly grateful and gave him cash for the ride.

Got a sweet deal on our room. Asked for a shower and refrigerator and said we would like 2-3 nights, and BTW, we are friends with the warriors staying there. Didn't ask the price, but she told us she gave us a small upgrade, and it would be $62 plus tax. We rolled into our room and I fell to the floor, pack and all, and cried it was such a nice room. Living room with a hot tub, separate bedroom with king sized bed, bathroom with shower with a seat (great for scrubbing after a week without a shower) plus the fridge and microwave we asked for :) my god, our place in heaven.
Ate at the brewery then got in touch with the warriors (who hadn't checked out after all) and had a long  headache inducing night with them all the way til 8:30 at night. Whoa.

OK heaven, we have arrived!

Pictures on instagram

Day 20 - Mile 246.4 to 262.5 - 16 miles - Big Bear in range, trail magic

TI forgot to mention that previously we were getting worried about having enough food to make it to our goal of mile 275 Van Dusen. There were two other places to get out before that, but it was sad to think of not making out goal. We were just going soooo slow after that 20-mile downhill killed our feet. Anyhoo, we figured we would arrive at each out-point and reevaluate our food and our pain levels.

Ok, so up at 0455, leave at 0545. NOt great, not bad. Tried to get water at Cinega Ranch, but wandered around in circles trying to find the official spigot. Gave up and got water out of a hose by a horse corral. This is right next to the infamous "animal cages". A sad sight, Bears, and other exotic animals kept in weird, small, awful chainlink cages. Everybody hates seeing this, so I don't know why the owners of this "private zoo" haven't put up a fence to hide the view from the hikers. I'm not sure, but I think these are Hollywood animals? Would have to check on this.

Anyway, we heard rumors from a Southbound hiker of a trail angel making pancakes, so we were pretty depressed to have wasted so much time trying to get water. We made it to Onyx Summit where there was a sign saying pancakes 'til 10am. It was 9:58. I started running down the trail to the trail angel, and got there at 09:59. It was great. Legend gave us his last three pancakes, only a little burnt, peanut butter, syrup, instant coffee, chairs. He was a story teller, and told all kinds of tall tales. He spends time in Nicaragua, and we were just there four years ago. He tried to convince us we had met there. I was convinced he thought he knew us, but I knew I didn't know him. He of course was bullshitting us, obviously, but he's convinced he had me believing the story. We had all traveled to the same places though :)

While sitting with Legend I finally got my trail name! One of the guys asked me "what's your trail name?" I started compaining about how I freaking wished I had a trail name, that would be awesome if I could get a trail name, so he called me bee sting. I like it. Legend suggested softening it up a bit, but I like an edgy, kind of bad assed name, so Bee Sting it is. Something good came out of that little bastard trying to kill me, I guess. The trail giveth, and it taketh away, that's for sure.

Oh, Legend taught us a song that we all sang together. It goes something like this "I want to be a bum my whole life. I want to be a bum my whole life. I don't want children or a wife. I want to be a bum my whole life" Ah, the hiker lifestyle, almost like the pirate's life for me, only dirtier I think.

Just down the trail was the famous couch trail magic, so we got to have a soda and sit on the couch for a bit. All the trail magic was really slowing us down!!! I needed this crap when I was tearing my hair out down in the desert, but their were no roads there. I'll take it when I can get it though :)

At the next spring we decide to push for Van Dusen Road as originally planned afterall. We had enough food, so we got enough water to dry camp and make it the 16 or whatever miles to that out point. We camped up at this beautiful spot just off the trail overlooking the desert valley below, even finishing dinner before dark. Feet were ok, tolerable, and my mood was improving all the time. SLEEP damnit, sleep.

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Day 19 - mile 230.0 to 246.4 - 16.4 miles, climb out of the desert

Woke up at 0400 and started hiking at 0515. Finally getting our shite together!!! Yay hiking in the dark. Best thing ever when you know how hot it might get. Nice walking on a gradual uphill. Uphill feels much better on the blisters, though they continue to get bigger. Lots of ibuprofen keeps us going. We stop for water, and see Thermometer. He tries to give me a thermometer. Oh, so that's how he got his name. I smiled and refused, which I'm sure hurt his feelings, and is probably a culturally awful thing to do, but hey, I don't want to carry it! Sheesh. Talked to our new trail friends Bree and Juicy for a bit, kept going on up, nice PCT grade trail. Finally break out of the desert hellscape and back into the high desert mountain pine trees. We took a brief break to sit on a nice log in the shade. I was looking at the trees thinking how much I really liked them, and thinking about how happy I was, when KABLAMMO! A bee out of nowhere stung me in the back of the arm! I was screaming 'cause it hurt and because they were still buzzing around me, Grant just kept eating his snack. Thermometer who was also there, looked away, and then finally moved away. (Cultural not to offer help?) He was clearly embarrassed or confused by my shenanagins. Right, Grant continued to eat his snack. "Grant, could you grab my coat, I want to cover up" Chew, chew, chew. "Grant, seriously, grab my coat, or your coat, any coat" chew chew chew. "Grant, could you dig out the Benadryl" his reply " here's some Ibuprofen" BENADRYL MY GOD HELP ME PLEASE!!! Of course, it wasn't all that dramatic, but my mother and brother are both deathly allergic to bees, and I have pretty big reactions, so I carry Epi pens with me just in case, because any one of my next stings could be death for me. It didn't come to that, but it's like, really? I can't be happy you stupid trail? Of course I am happy, but after feeling stuck in the desert for days, finally breaking free, I had to be stung by a bee? Sigh, keep on trucking. No hives for me, but I told everybody I saw about the bee attack. Two other women had been stung too. Particuraly nasty strain of bees in that area, I guess, and they hate the ladies.
Took a nap at the next water source, a spring dripping out of the hillside with a large barrel catching it underneath. Lots of bees there of course. Met some more people, then started hiking again, nice walking in out of trees and into the sagebrush. Finally camped up by a dirt road just below Coon Creek Cabin group campground, at mile 246.4 around 6:30 that night. Other people rolled in a camped up too. Farmer had dinner with us, so that was fun to finally camp with other people and actually be social. Sleepy time! G'night

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Day 18 - Bonus .6 miles, mile 218.6 to 230.0 - 12 miles :(

After wrestling raccoons all night, I woke up late, having forgotten to change my alarm back to 0400. Awake at 0540, dink around. Talk to Zig Zag, who had suffered from the raccoons dragging his pack away, and stealing some of his food. He slept through it all, unfortunately. He gave me some lambs wool to try out on my blisters. We finally started hiking at 0650. Terrible. My god, we even know better! Hike along the creek for awhile, but mistakenly miss the last stop for water before turning off. Still had enough water to make it to Mission Creek, I thought. As per usual, long, f'ing hot slog up the hillside with burning blister feet. hopping along trying to fake it til I make it. Grant's feet are suffering too, so we were a sorry pair. On the last downhill to the water source, I start running to try to mask the pain, oh, and I had run out of water and was feeling awful. Made it to Mission Creek, put my shorts on, and lay down in the creek trying to cool off. Drank some water, washed our socks. The shade we found kind of sucked for napping, so we finally packed up our crap and headed over to another shade tree. By then it was 1145. We waited out the heat again until 4pm, napping, eating, watching a snake slither into the water, and eventually slither out. Soooooo hard to get going again. It was still hot, but less oppressive. We had been gaining some elevation, and it was a long hike back up to the mountains, topping out above 8000 feet tomorrow. We hiked along the creek, the plant life increasing, some little muddy groves of brush to tromp through here and there. For psychological reasons, we decided to keep hiking until we made it to mile 230, then look for a camp site. Well, as luck would have it, right at mile 229.97 there was a beautiful flat spot in the sand across the creek, so we called it close enough and snagged it. Finally setting up camp before sunset!!! How awesome is that :) Eat, wash feet, wash socks and underwear, brush teeth, sleep like a dead person.

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Day 17 - Mile 205.7 to 218.6 plus .6 bonus miles = 13.5 miles

woke up at the water fountain at 0450. Getting better! Moving by 0530, but fits and starts, stopping for various morning chores...5 miles to the famous Ziggy and the Bear trail angels. We arrived at the turnoff to their house at 0800, but decided to skip it as my feet were hurting bad, and it was getting hot. We wanted to get a few more miles in to the next water source, La Mesa Wind Farm, before it got really really really hot. Well, it was really really hot by 0900, and we arrived at our rest stop at 1030. They invited us in for cold water. Apparently the water out of the tap was found to have uranium, so they were discouraging PCT hikers from using their hose, and instead had bought cases of water and were giving them out, and letting us sit in the airconditioned lunch room for awhile. Some workers came in for their lunch break at 1100. We were filthy and stinky, so a little self conscious sitting in their with them. They were super friendly, and we quizzed them about what work they did on the Wind Farm (Crane operator and laborers, replacing the turbine blades. Pretty cool.) We then sat under their shade tree until 2pm when their work day was ending. They had to close the gate, but they had started building a shade palapa outside the gate, and left another case of water in it for other hikers arriving after hours. Super duper nice people, did I mention that? So we sat under the palapa until after 4 pm, almost 6 hours waiting out the heat basically. Meanwhile we met Thermometer, a South Korean who speaks no English. We managed to force him into a "conversation" anyways, and he offered to take our picture for us. We finally left, and it was a hot hike up a steep hillside. Glad to be walking it in the late afternoon then the heat of the day. My (robin's) blisters were killing me, and it was slow going. Finally left the views of I-10 and the wind farm, and made it deeper into the desert foothills, with Mt San Jacinto always looming across the way, reminding me of why my feet hurt. Saw Zig Zag. I was deep in thought about the subway sandwich and Del Taco veggie burritos I would eat at Cajon Pass a few weeks from then when he overtook me. I told him that since nobody had given me a trail name yet, I would call myself "Cerveza Frio", 'cause who wouldn't want that trail name? After going up, of course we had to go around and around, then down down down to the river. We almost camped right there at the river, but we decided to keep going to the Whitewater Preserve, where the ranger lets PCT hikers camp for free under the trees. It was a great park with a wading pool, flush toilets and everything. Unfortunately we arrived so late we didn't make use of the wading pool, but we did soak our feet, charge our phones, and have a nice dinner at the picnic table. After falling dead asleep, I wake hours later to Grant shouting. It was a f'ing raccoon trying to get my bag. I had put all the food in the tent but had left some snacks in the hip belt. I screamed at the raccoon, and snatched my bag back putting it into tent. Also put my shoes in the tent as I was panicked they would drag those off too. Bastards. I had nightmares all night about the raccoons circling our tent (I think they were) and of a puma chewing on grant and I. Last year I hiked with some people, and one lady had lost all her food. I think it must have been here, but she was convinced it was the local bobcat. I think whatever the animal it was, it had taken all her food and her stove and stuff too. With three or four days to go, pretty bad, but her friends all helped her out. Anyway, that's where the cat chewing on us came into the dreams I think. Ok, good night, sleep tight, don't let the raccoons bite.

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Day 16 - down to desert floor, mile 186.1 to 205.7 19.6 miles

Up late again! Argh. Hiking at about 0700. Ludicrously late start. Fill up with three liters water each for the downhill slog to the desert wasteland below. I said aloud "if I'm going to get blisters, its going to be today" but still had high hopes for my feet.  Down down down, large ice chunks falling from the thawing trees. Quite dangerous actually. Running past trees, screaming when I hear the ice falling down on top of me. Funny too, but some of those chunks were the size of softballs! Down down down out of the trees back into the scrub brush, cactus, and snakes. Find a boulder with real shade and take a lunch break. Air out our feet, take a nap. Still at elevation, so hot in the sun, but so cold in the shade we put our fleece, hat, gloves, and puffys on. Kind of silly really. Fun to look back up at my San Jacinto as we go to see how far we've come. Couldn't see it from the idyllwild side, so did t have a view of it until after we climbed it and went down the other side. Mountains are funny like that sometimes.  Getting late. Meet rebel biscuit and stone foot, nice people. Hike with rebel biscuit for awhile. Make it to mile 200!!! Yay. No blisters... Rest at next shade and rebel biscuit moves on. We think she's out of water and its five more miles to go. Make it to about mile 202, and blammo! Blister city. Pace slowed to a hoble trying to salvage my feet. Still have water but not enough to dry camp, so Down Down down we go. Finally roll into the drinking fountain area at about 8:45. The water is warm. Not tepid, but warm. Set up tent, eat, get more water. Meet Joe Dirt. Comes running to the drinking fountain at 9pm panting. We all try to help get him going with rehydrating. Come to find out he had started in idyllwild that morning, climbed mount san jacinto, and come all the way down in one day! That was 34ish hard assed miles with serious elevation gain and loss. We will never see that guy again I'm sure, because his miles are huge!  Ladies camping near us are laughing about all the tarantulas coming out of the holes in the dirt. I cover my ears, close my eyes, and sing "LA LA LA , I can't hear you!". Good night.

Day 15 - Climb Mt San Jacinto - town to mile 186.1 about 14.3 miles

Got a late start leaving hotel in Idyllwild. By the time the pharmacy was open (needed handi wipes) we didn't start until about 9:30. Yikes.
Start walking through the neighborhood to find Ernie Maxwell trail. Cookie lady pulled over frantic that we were walking and tried to make us get a ride to devils slide trailhead. So hard to hike a continuous route to Canada when well meaning locals and hikers with different goals try to stop our progress. We had missed our turn, but eventually got back on track and found this alternate trail. Up up up!

Got to devils slide trail, and it was steep up some more. Packs are freaking heavy with six days of food and water for 14 miles. Finally made it to the trail junction where we could go right and hike the alternate up to 10,800ish ft Mt San Jacinto, or go left and stay on official PCT. Our legs were soooo tired, particurally my right butt muscle (going- up muscles) as we had already climbed about 3400' and we were definitely not acclimated to the elevation (almost 9000 ft) but grant informed me that I would be pissed if I didn't summit, so we took the alternate.

Climb climb climb! Met tons of day hikers who ad taken the tram from palm springs up. Were told you could see all the way to the ocean from the summit, so that put a smile on our faces and made us pick up the pace a little. 1800 more feet later, we scrambled up the rocks to the usgs summit markers, and then scrambled up one more boulder to officially touch the summit.
View was breathtaking, and because of the previous storm a few days earlier, the trees were covered in ice. It was great. Another guy was there. It was his first summit, so congratulations all around. Some pct hikers were (probably illegally) camping in the emergency shelter so that was fun for them, but down we went. It was about 5:15 when we summited, and we had a ways to go to the legal camping area (we didn't get the permit or this particular area). Now to make our down-muscles work.
We stupidly passed up a water source as we had it in our heads that we wanted to get to the one at mile 186. Of course, we had to start hiking with headlamps, we were tired, and there was no camping by the water source. Grant saw a flatish spot full of logs along the trail, so we filled up, backtracked,moved a bunch of logs and rocks around and set up our little slice of heaven beside the trail. A little sloped, but I still slept like a dead person all night :)

Forgot to mention all the snow! Glad to try out our trail runners on snow early in the hike. Think they will be just fine in the high Sierra. Cheers!