Saturday, June 21, 2014

PCT Day 17-23

We ("Fat Dog" and "Marathon") had a really great stay at the Best Western in Mammoth Lakes. We really didn't move much and luckily, everything we needed was within a 5 minute walk from the hotel. They had an amazing complimentary breakfast buffet (fresh eggs, pancakes, french toast, sausages, bacon, potato mash, watermelon, cereal, toast, oatmeal etc which we never touched) and we went to town on it every morning. The coffee was great too. Besides the $$$ I would highly recommend the hotel.

The morning we got back on the trail I woke up with a sore throat and wasn't feeling well, which is the opposite of how I would expect to feel after 2.5 days off. I was suppose to feel AMAZING, but I didn't and would have to deal with that for the next 1.5 days as we made our way to Tuolomne Meadows to re-supply. On the plus side, Peter was feeling really good after all that he had gone through in those first couple of weeks. The new shoes were feeling WAY BETTER then what he previously had and he was able to walk pain free (for the most part). Here is a mileage breakdown of the last 7 days:

Day 17: 26.5 miles (Tuolomne Meadows re-spply)
Day 18: 30 miles
Day 19: 28 miles
Day 20: 29 miles
Day 21: 35 miles
Day 22: 33 miles
Day 23: 15.5 miles (Echo Lake re-supply)

We had to avg 30 miles after day 17 because we only had enough food (in theory) to get to our re-supply in Echo Lake. However, the post office was only open from 11am-2pm and you can tell by our mileage breakdown that we had to bank extra miles to ensure our last day was going to get us to Echo Lake on time to get our boxes. Post office times are one thing you have to deal with out here. Luckily, many of them are connected to a store and an employee will often get your box for you, which is what happened in Tuolomne Meadows.

The next 5 days were amazing. The scenery was simply breathtaking and there is literally nowhere else I would rather be than hanging out in the wilderness all day every day. We have only had one 3 hour stint of rain on the entire trip so far (and we were sheltered)! On this leg of the trip I had a tiny bit of leg soreness (tight hamstrings) at the end of each day but I always felt good in the morning. I think it's a combination of totally shot running shoes, lot's of climbing, and just the wear and tear that 30 miles a day does to your body. My tight hammies felt way better on the last couple of days where there weren't as many hills to climb. The days and nights were a lot cooler. It wasn't until the second to last day that I even put on a t-shirt and rather hiked in my long sleeve, wind break jacket and pants most of the time. I should take a moment to talk about these Arc'teryx pants we got at the factory outlet store in North Vancouver. They are SUPER lightweight and durable. They were made for the military (they have a military line of clothing) and have zippers down the side if you get a little hot. They have a built in pocket you can pack the pants into and I will definitely be taking these on backcountry running excursions in the future.

We decided that we would pick up our boxes (we had 4) from Echo Lake and then try and hitch a ride to South Lake Tahoe (13 miles away) and take a full rest day. Both of us were getting new shoes, our re-supply box (with new socks inside!), and MEC sent Peter new poles. While we were waiting for our boxes I over heard a guy "Mulberry" who was getting a ride to South Lake Tahoe with a guy "Grey Wolf" he had met on the JMT. I asked if he had any extra room for us too, and he said he did!

South Lake Tahoe is an interesting place. Right near our hotel, there is a state line that divides California and Nevada. Literally on the other side of this line are a bunch of Casinos. There must be 500 Inn's/Hotels/Motels in this little city. I am just stoked that our feet feel good and we can actually go check out the town a little bit.

getting the rocks out of my shoes. 

My favorite gear list:

- La Sportiva Crosslite. This shoe has for the most part kept my feet blister free. My right foot (smaller foot) has had zero issues. My left foot, which is a tad bigger, has had one blister on both my pinky and big toe. The problems only started when we were going in and out of creeks all the time and my feet were constantly going from wet to dry. Even after 500 miles my feet never got sore. They have a built in gator so I don't have to wear a separate one. Peter wears dirty girl gators and he still has to empty out his shoes nearly as frequently as I do. Shoes are the one thing that take A LOT of wear and tear. Shoes are not meant to be walked on all day everyday and never get a chance to rebound. The fact that these low profile shoes took me over 500 miles is awesome! Thanks La Sportiva for sending me a new pair to Echo Lake! 

- Mountain Laurel Designs Burn Pack: This thing is lightweight and has great outside pockets. I can easily grab my water bottles while hiking from the 2 side pockets. It has more than enough space for everything I need. I have had no chafing from the pack and it's comfortable as anything. I added on 2 waist belt pockets which is where I carry the majority of my food for the day. We have only seen one other hiker "Midway" with this bag but it is on the $$$ side, so maybe that's why? 

- Defeet Aireator Monkey Junky socks: These socks just make me so happy. They are about half the price of my Smartwool socks and have lasted about the same amount of time. You can buy these at MEC.

- North Face Eat My Dust Shorts: I really love North Face shorts. They are inexpensive and just fit my body right. These shorts are soooo comfortable hiking. You can get these at North Shore Athletics.

- MEC Uplink Jacket. This is my all time favorite jacket. We met another guy in Mammoth wearing one and instantly knew he was Canadian. Turned out he was from Victoria and we spent a bit of trail time with him when we ran into him a few days later.

- MEC T1 Long John. I know my crazy psychedelic tights do not look like long johns but they are and they are soooooo comfortable. I put them on every night when I snuggle up in my sleeping bag and often wear them hiking in the morning until I get too hot. I have had quite a few compliments on these tights. 

- Patagonia Houdini Windbreaker. I have really enjoyed this piece and love that it has a hood. I have a Sugoi one I love for running back home but it didn't have a hood and I am really happy with my choice to bring the Houdini. 

- Rainshadow Running Trucker Hat. I just love this hat so much and it does a great job at protecting my face!

- Petzl E + Lite: This is the only headlamp we both brought. We don't hike or set up camp in the dark and thus this is all we need. 

- GORP Bars: This is a relatively new bar on the market and is owned and operated in a small town (Niverville) in Winnipeg. It is high in calories and is packed with nutritious ingredients...such as Pea Fibre! I love the Peanut Butter Apple flavor. You can get these at MEC. 

- I Love My Muff wipes: I remember going for a run with some new friends and seeing these wipes in their car. The name had me more than intrigued and I knew these would be perfect for the trip. I met up with the owner, Ritz, and she so generously hooked me up with some to take on my trip. I have used these everyday and it is such a nice feeling to know I am a dirty mess everywhere but the important bits!

The greens are just amazing right now

The wind was CRAZY this evening! Thank gosh we had our Arc'teryx wind pants!

I hope you enjoyed the picture show. I am not sure when we will be in a town with wifi again. Our next carry is 3.4 days to Sierra City and then it's roughly 5 days in between re-supplies for a long time. We are both looking forward to getting to Oregon!

One funny thing out here is that (mostly) everyone has a trail name. It took a while for us to get use to introducing ourselves by our trail names. Mine is "Marathon" and it's a nickname my friend Emily gave me a few years back when she first met me and it just seemed fitting to use. We decided that Peter's should be "Fat Dog" because of the race that he helps put on in Manning Park, which is where the PCT finishes. People are pretty funny when he introduces himself as "Fat Dog". They often repeat it back saying "Nice to meet you"...'Mad Dog' or 'Bad Dog'. One lady even said, "Oooooo Fat Dog with a 'PH'". People have a hard time calling Peter "Fat" I guess. He has lost roughly 20 lbs already so I guess it's understandable how they get confused.

It's officially summer today! I hope everyone is enjoying theirs so far. I'll write back more tails from the trails when I get the chance. For now, we will enjoy the rest of our stay in South Lake Tahoe. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Pacific Crest Trail: Day 0-14

In the first few days out of Tehachapi (the desert). 

A quick recap before we started...

We cleaned out our home the night before and the only belongings that remained were those that were in our hiking packs. We literally slept in our sleeping bags on our Thermarests. The next morning, we got up, packed those items back into our bags, left the keys behind and walked out of our place for the last time. We took the Canada Line to the airport and a few hours later we were in Bakersfield. The place was tiny so we knew we were going to a small airport. We needed to get to a town called Tehachapi which is roughly 45 minutes away from the airport. Peter did a small announcement on the place and one lady happened to be heading that way. We got dropped off and quickly checked into the Best Western, where we received the hikers rate, a rate we've seen a lot of on this trip. The next morning we caught the 5am bus which would take us to the trail head.

Day one was pretty awesome and we had seen 4 people within the first couple of hours. We hiked 6 hours and 16 miles straight without a break to the first place to re-fill water. There were roughly 8 other people that would pass through there while we re-filled and it was immediately apparent that we were not alone on this journey. We met a lady named "Sugar" (trailname) and she is from Kerrisdale. It was nice to make a Canadian connection so quickly into the trip. Everyone we met had been on the trail for over 30 days and we felt like the newbies on the trail since it was only day 1! Peter had us planned to only walk 26 miles per day for the first 5.5 days to get our legs warmed up to the 30 miles we are scheduled to be doing daily thereafter. We would walk 28 miles that day and banked 2 miles!

Peter not feeling very well.
We followed this day with two 30+ mile days due to a shortage of water re-supply and before we knew it we had banked 14 miles! We had to walk further to make sure we finished where there was water, because we relied on it to re-hydrate our meals and to cook with, as well as drink. The desert is HOT and due to a shortage in water, we were forced to walk through the heat of the day. Now, I can handle this fine however Peter is a pretty heavy sweater and requires much more water than myself. On day 2 or 3 he developed heat stroke and then became very dehydrated in the days that followed, as he had to conserve water. These ailments made it so that he had a hard time taking in food. At this time we were eating mostly bars and nuts until dinner time where we made a warm meal. We saw people with salami, wraps and cheese and were oh so very jealous of this. Peter just stopped being able to stomach all the processed crap and craved real food. We knew in a few days we could re-supply with those items but for now we had to eat what we had.  He began to vomit when he tried to take in food. So now he had heat stroke, was dehydrated, and couldn't eat. This trip was off to a challenging start!

At the end of day 3 or 4, we were nearing the end of a 32 mile dry stretch and were coming into a campground where there was no guarantee of water. As we approached the grounds we noticed a few large tents with lights all around. It turned out to be Yogi, one of the authors of a PCT guidebook. She had been set up there for nearly 2 weeks and her sole purpose was to provide 'magic' to hikers. Every day she provided hikers with water re-fills, beverages (beer, pop, gatorade), food (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). ALL FREE (however, donations were welcome). We got there at night and were greeted by a round of thunder claps from all the other hikers shacked up there and Bearbait, a 6 year old boy who gave us a pin (with his face on it) and coke. We then grabbed a beer and got fed burritos. The next morning we received coffee and chocolate chip/banana pancakes. I think we thought we had found heaven! The burrito was the first solid thing Peter had been able to take in, which was reassuring. However, the pancakes came up the next morning. He was still not quite on the mend yet.

Everyone we had met told us that the section from Tehachapi (where we started) to Kennedy meadows was the most challenging of the entire trip thus far, which made us feel better about the hard me we were having.

Our morning routine is to get up around 5:00am and be hiking by 6:00am, which is earlier than most people. Each morning we pass a ton of people still sleeping in their tents or cowboy camping out in the open. In that first week we met a ton of people and we flip flopped back and forth with them, until we got to our first re-supply point at Kennedy Meadows. Again, we were greeted by thunder claps from all the hikers who were hanging out there. Many were taking rest days and having a good time drinking and taking some time off their feet. For us, it was a place to EAT some real food, BUY some real food (wraps, meat, cheese), and have a shower. We got there around 9am and stayed until 4pm. It was the first time Peter was able to eat and keep down real food. We chose not to stay over night and got back out on the trail.

We were now heading into the Sierra's and we welcomed the challenge. Everyone kept talking about having "legs" for the Sierra's and I really didn't know what to expect.

At the top of Muir Pass

There was snow in the Sierra's

I just loved this tree

Big cut! Peter took that for our Forest Ranger friend Mark Grist.

One of the many beautiful lakes

There's the odd burnt out forest
We fixed the food situation in the Sierra's but Peter's feet became a bit of an issue. However, the trooper that he is, he taped them up and never complained. We were still managing roughly 10 hour days and covering roughly 25 miles/day. He eventually cut the sole of one of his shoes and cut out the side of the other to allow more room for his feet. This gave him a lot of relief.

The Sierra's are stunning!!! We spent the majority of this section on the John Muir Trail. I highly recommend this trail to EVERYONE! Complete single track up and over pass over pass over pass. Ton's of beautiful climbs and descents. A lot of creek/river crossings where you're walking in water well past your ankles. We got up as high as 13,200 ft and stayed around 10,000ft-12,000ft for days. Everyday was beautiful and stunning. The animal life we saw daily- deer, marmots, lizards, and chipmunks. There was more water than we knew what to do with which was a nice change compared to the desert and we didn't have to worry about treating it. There was snow but nothing we couldn't handle. We tried to get over the pass's in the mornings because the snow was firm. It would be post-holing madness if we tried to do them during the day and we stopped early a few times to ensure this didn't happen. I really enjoyed the technical descents.

We weren't quite covering the mileage we had anticipated and were a day or 2 behind where we thought we would be and had planned for. This worked out just fine because were now in Mammoth Lakes and have enjoyed 2 full rest days! The blisters on the feet are beginning to heal (I have a good one too on my pinky). Peter went to the hospital here because of an infection on one of his blisters and is now on anti-biotic's and has been given the go ahead to keep hiking. We've been feeding ourselves well and have enjoyed the down time but are ready to get back out there! The terrain from here on out will be easier than the last 8 days.

Other random tidbits: Peter broke a pole and I have had 3 holes in my Thermasrest. Luckily, MEC is mailing him some new one's and I have been able to patch up my mat just fine. We were camping in a lightening and thunder storm the night before we landed in Mammoth which was really exciting. We have met so many amazing people and it's been fun exchanging stories. Peter has been a wicked hiking partner and besides the physical bodily challenges, it's been rewarding doing this trip with him by my side. We bring very different skill sets and his compliment mine very well. I am very lucky.

I've pretty much dialed my eating and how much I need. I wonder if that will change in the next 60 days. Here are my (Peter eats different things) staple foods in order of consumption:

PB Pro Bar
Coconut/Almond KIND Bar
Oats and Honey NatureValley Bar
Dried Mango's
2 small Corn Tortilla's with cheese and Dried Figs
1/2 pack of Krave Jerky
2 handfuls of Salted cashews and PB filled pretzels
Pay Day or PB Choc Camino bar
Dehydrated Dinner (home cooked by me!)

I have all these same foods (minus the wraps,cheese) in all my re-supply boxes so hopefully I don't get sick of them. The nice thing about town stops is you get to take some other treats out on the trail with you.

That is all I have for now. I'll write back again when I get the chance and have more pictures to post.