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.

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