6/15 – The Migraine Day
You know how migraines are supposed to ruin your day and everything revolves around the migraine and you’re just aching to get rid of the migraine? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have found the cure. Well, it’s not quite a cure but it does distract your for a bit as well as annoying the bejezus out of you. My cure is poodle bush. All you need to do is walk through a maze of the blasted plant for like an hour and I’m telling you that migraine will be the least of your worries. General feeling today: annoyed. We had delicious juice and toast at the biker bar this morning and our pace was nice and easy and then I migrated and then we walked and then we got poodle bushed. It was everywhere. We walked off trail, we put our packed on our heads, we swiveled our hips in ways I didn’t know Curtis could swivel his hips! And all to avoid that silly plant! You know it’s around because all of a sudden everything starts smelling like marijuana. I’m hoping none of us got it. I’ve also never gotten poison oak so I have no idea what I’d be in for. Despite the poodle bush, we ended the day on a pretty good note. The view from our campsite is incredible. I’m so excited to see my mom tomorrow! Yay for moms and zero days! Oh and watermelon. I’m totally getting a watermelon. XoXo Kimi
This entry is going to be all about how awesome Moms are. Dads, we love you too, & we wish you a happy early father’s day, but Moms deserve a special shout out after today.
We made 8 miles today before getting to our rends-vous point with Kimi’s Mom. She found us at what was, unbeknownst to us, an impossible to find freeway at an unmarked junction. When she arrived, she pulled out a cooler with Genova’s sandwiches that she had gotten for us, burritos that my mom had gotten & fruit from Rebecca’s mom, as well as several other goodies. We then ran several errands including replacing our camera at Best Buy, getting (??) tape & other such necessities at Target & eyeglass screws for Becca at Walmart. Palmdale shopping center for the won??. Then we checked in at the Motel 6, SHOWERED & hung out for a bit before going to dinner. You see, when a restaurant advertises “all you can eat sushi” they’re not expecting backpackers to come through the door. 26 dishes later, we were all stuffed & ready for sleep in BEDS! Thank you to Kimi’s mom for absolutely everything, to my mom for food & the trekking poles & Becca’s Mom for the fruit & for typing up bolts & sending boxes & the “Curtis caches,” & to Curtis’ mom for seemingly endless patience with our lack of communication abilities. Dads, we love you too. Happy, Healthy & not eaten by bears – Hanna
I’m writing this sitting in the back of Kimi’s mom’s car, wedged between a giant cooler and the window. I’m still clean, which is incredibly novel, and I’m full of all the incredible food our parents sent with Kimi’s mom. I fee incredibly spoiled.
We woke up this morning (in beds) and drove from Palmsdale to Kennedy Meadows, around what looked like a very dry section of trail. Kimi, Hanna and I actually recognized some of the drive from our trip to Death Valley a couple of years ago, which was kind of fun. I used the driving time to patch the holes in my pants with the half of my bandana I have not been using as a handkerchief. My bandana was purchased in Idylwild (where options were limited), so after blowing my nose on the national anthem for the past months I will now be wearing it on the seat of my pants. I am so patriotic.
The drive up to Kennedy Meadows.
When we got to Kennedy Meadows, we found the general store full of fellow through hikers. We have definitely caught up with the pack. I’m excited to get to know some of them – we’ve only met a couple other hikers so far. Kimi’s mom also brought us a resupply box and some gear, so we spent the afternoon sorting stuff, reassigning group gear weight and generally being lazy. Tomorrow we start up again, but for tonight I’m overstuffed and not too far from civilization – Becca.
Chillin and dividing up gear.
It was a great night 😀
Kennedy Meadows 0 day: We’d planned to start out again on the trail today from Kennedy Meadows, but the early morning changed plans for the day. Kimi felt quite queazy 30ish minutes after waking up, and her poor stomach proceeded to get worse from there. We decided to wait and see how she’d feel, and spent the day eating ice cream and burgers and drinking bear and getting to know the hikers we’d just caught up to. To name a few, we met UHaul, Lightweight, Scaliwag, Caveman, Scrubrat (?), who offered some of his home brewed stout for lunch, and many more. We heard so many stories, and got an idea of other trail experiences our new friends had gone through. That night, we ventured over to “Tom’s,” the trailer hangout for PCT hikers. It was awesome! They had trailers for hikers to get some sleep in actual beds, a phone, and 3 laptops w/ internet for hikers to use. And to top it off, they play a movie every night. We’ll be back on the trail tomorrow.. hopefully Kimi feels loads better. – Curtis
Hanna patching her pits.
Saying goodbye to Kimi at the trailhead.
Today we woke up in the Hiker commune in Kennedy Meadows. Kimi was still feeling sick so she and her mom went to lone pine & team sardine went on one sardine short. We begun our trek into the Sierras! Beccs was also feeling a little sick, so we stopped next to a meadows & she lay down for a bit. The highlight of today was the wildlife! At the first river we crossed, we saw several trout, all between 6″-8″ long. If we find some bigger ones we’re font to try to catch dinner! Then, further up the trail at lunch, we were filtering water and we saw a water snake. He was so cute 🙂 I asked Curtis if I could take him with us… he let me take a picture instead (picture to come). When we were about 2.5 miles from camp I heard Curtis from 50 feet ahead say “Woah!” & looked up to see a large black bear about 150 feet away running up a rock face. It was so cool (it was fortunately far enough away that it was cool and not scary). Now I am sleepy, so I must sign off for now. Happy, Healthy & not eaten by bears (though we have seen them). – Hanna
Apparently my body does not like it when I eat a tortilla and a Clif bar for dinner after hiking 19.5 miles. Who have thunk it? To my credit, I’m pretty sure that anything else wouldn’t have stayed down. Hanna and I definitely got some milder version of what Kimi has; and I just feel very lucky that it is not as extreme.
Overall, today was uneventful in a pretty nice way. Figuring out where we were at any given time was a bit difficult as there were three different mile markers that fit the exact same description: faint trail leading to a spring off the right side of the PCT, possible sign saying “corral.” Sometimes I think they’re just messing with us intentionally.
Also, someone ahead of us keeps drawing hearts in the trail with their trekking poles. I want to find out who it is, because I’m really enjoying it. Much love, Becca
Very important to stay hydrated.
6/21/12– Barney & Theresa.
Today was awesome! Hanna, Becca and I got up and started our stroll in a painful fashion, all slightly aching from gas pains from our rice and beans dinner the night before. Great views, quick miles, and we got to finish our hiking at 1:00 PM when we hiked into Horseshoe Meadow to meet up with Barney, Theresa, Kimi and Maddy. They picked us up at 2ish, at which point they chatted with us and exchanged stories as we quickly scarfed down the fresh fruit they brought us. We wandered down to Lone Pine, and happily wandered around gear shops and sporting stores, as well as a gem shop, before sitting down to dinner and eating venison, ostrich, buffalo and beef burgers as we divulged our trip details to our dearly missed friends. The hotel room was wonderfully clean and comfortable compared to previous nights (I had been cowboy camping to save weight). The showers were coated in dirt once we all had finished cleaning up, and we madly rearranged food boxes and planned out our next 8 days of craziness. Unfortunately, climbing Whitney requires quite the early start, and so getting everything organized is not exactly conducive to going to bed at a reasonable hour. Whitney looms before us tomorrow. Hopefully all goes well – Peanut Butter
Curtis wields his new poke-in-the-dark after losing his first one on day 3.
At the Mt. Whitney Restaurant.
Best sign ever. Hands down.
In the car ready for Mt. Whitney.
Today we climbed Mt. Whitney with Theresa, Barney & Maddy! It was so great to see them, especially since I haven’t seen Maddy in over 6 months! We climbed up about 3 miles, had some watermelon that Barney & Theresa had carried up the mountain, & had some wonderful chats. The scenery was absolutely incredible. Huge waterfalls, extensive views of Owens Valley, beautiful trees, granite faces & crystal clear lakes. After a tearful goodbye, we hiked up another mile with just Maddy & stopped at a lake to have lunch.
The view was gorgeous.
It was really nice to get to talk with Maddy & hang out a the lake for a few hours. We made Arnold Palmers (we have lemonade & iced tea powder) & ate hummus & sardines. Unfortunately, the sardines are getting to me enough that I actually threw them up today! I won’t be eating them for a few weeks I think. We again said a sad goodbye & continued up the mountain. We camped at Trail Camp, the last spot before the first climb. At 5 trail miles below the summit of 12,000 feet it was our coldest & windiest night yet! Let’s hope for better sleep tomorrow! Happy, Healthy, & not eaten by bears – Hanna
Trail Camp- it was so friggin cold.
Marmot eating a breakfast burrito.
June 23 – The Whitney Climb
There is a place called Guitar Lake, named as such because the lake is shaped roughly like a guitar. It is on the west side of Mt. Whitney, around 2000 ft below the junction between the Mt. Whitney trail and the John Muir trail. I am sitting on a rock overlooking this lake now.
I know we talk a lot about what we’re doing, what we’re eating, and where we are, but I am going to try this time to show you the places we see. Imagine it is the evening on a summer’s day, a day where you know the sun will not set until well after 8 pm. The air is somewhat chilly, a slight but constant breeze blowing up from the lake below you. The water is straight ahead surrounded by a meadows littered with outcroppings of rocks. There is a stream flowing on your left that has been swallowed up by the greenery; the only reason you know it’s there is by the sound. And on three sides, you are cradled by mountains. There are no trees here. The cliff sides are bare, a dullish gray-brown and jagged. Landslides are everywhere. Behind you is the backside of Mt. Whitney, a steep-sloped 2000 ft rockslide. The sun is blinding you. It has turned half the lake diamond white; you can trace the thick reflection of light from the neck of the guitar to its base as it slashes the instrument in half. The wind is howling a little louder now, a feeling you are all too familiar with since hiking up that monster of a mountain today. Curiously , my legs aren’t sore and my mind is far too fresh for such a climb. It’s probably the mountain air.
We climbed Mt. Whitney today. I’m not one of those “we must get to the top!” people. I don’t get a whole lot of pleasure out of conquering mountains. My happy place is the ocean, which might have something to do with why I am so much more enamored with the view of this lake than I was with the view from the top of the contiguous 48. Don’t get me wrong – it was incredible. I have never seen the Sierras the way I did today. But I think everyone has their own favorite stuffed animal. Mine just happens to be shaped more like a whale than a mountain goat. That didn’t make sense. I hope that makes sense.
I’m happy to be hiking again. The time off was nice in its own way (backstory: I took four days off because my wonderful mom came to give us a resupply and take us to Kennedy Meadows and then I got a 48 hour bug so I stayed with her until Barney, Theresa and Maddy came to climb Whitney with us) and I loved spending time with my mom and Maddy but this trip is about the trail and the scenery and the hikers you meet and man am I tired of sitting on my ass all day! We’ve been going slow but walking feels so good (even if I did somewhat sprain my ankle yesterday). Bon nuit! xoxo Kimi aka Littlefoot (or Walking Trainwreck – take your pick).
It was quite cold and windy.
Surprisingly, it was much warmer and not windy at the top!
The view of the Southern Sierras.
The south side of Forester’s Pass.
One pass down, 10 more to go! 24 hours after hitting the highest peak in the lower 48, we hit the highest point on the PCT, Forester’s Pass. Despite the name, it was way above tree line. Even below tree line, we’ve been so high up in elevations there are only a couple types of trees. I’m learning to identify them very slowly; I’m the only one of us who hadn’t had a dendrology class, and I absolutely cannot tell how many needles per bundle a tree has from far away.
After our first pass, I can officially say that I’m grateful there has been very little snow in the Sierras this year. The switchbacks that lead up to the passes are rocky and cliff-y and slippery without snow, but we definitely are safe without ice axes and microspikes and all the other crazy equipment snow years require. There was a patch at the top of the pass that was big enough for us to make lemonade powder snow cones, so I was pretty happy.
Now it’s late and I’m sleepy so I think I’ll sign off. This morning I was so reluctant to get out of bed that they pulled the tent down on me, and I’d rather not have that happen again 🙂 – Becca
At the top of the pass.
6/25 Glen’s Pass
Between the windex-blue high alpine lakes, the crowded bullring route deemed a trail by the PCT, and some of the new hikers we met today, I don’t quite know what to write about. In my opinion, the pass was the most difficult so far, and coming down was by no means any easier, as the trail was covered in fist-sizeds cobbles that are just the right size to twist an ankle. On the way up, we met a guy named Trip, a high, red-headed geologies from New Zealand with an awesome accent. He carried a huge wooden pole for a walking stick. He chatted with us half way up at a resting spot, and made his way up with us tot he top. He then proceeded to run…actually run… down the entire pass on the back side despite the ankle rolling rocks…crazy. The lakes where we ate lunch that day were so pretty they seemed to be fictional illusions, mystical wind-rippled mirrors disturbed occasionally by the native trout inhabiting them. The trip gets better and better by the day. That’s all for now. – PB
Elevating the bad foot.
June 27 – The Sierras are beating us up
Today has been quite a day. We’ve been going slower since we hit the Sierras, first because of my sprained ankle and now for a variety of reasons. Hanna is not fairing so well with the altitude, my achilles is acting up, which is making it difficult to walk uphill especially, and we’re all having trouble waking up in the morning after being pampered by Barney and Theresa. Unfortunately Hanna is doing the worst – we are currently at the LeConte Ranger Station in Kings Canyon National Park and waiting to hear from the interim ranger about whether or not they are going to helievac Hanna tomorrow morning out to the Bishop hospital. We’re not entirely sure what’s wrong yet – she’s been having altitude sickness but today she all of a sudden got a dizzy spell, sat down, took a deep breath and felt like she had golf ball sized lumps between her ribcage and lungs and a sharp shooting pain went up and down her spine. She is currently on oxygen and all be for the night (yay Becca for knowing how to use and monitor oxygen tanks!). I’m sorry but I’m going to make this short. We’ll update everyone tomorrow of course. Kimi
I know it’s not the kind of thing you usually plan, but if you’re going to have a medical situation in the woods you should definitely do it near an in-construction ranger station in a major national park.
One of the hardest things about Wilderness medicine is deciding when and how to evacuate someone. Besides the many minor injuries that can be treated in the field, here are lots of headaches, nausea and stomach pains that could signal something dire but are also a common result of walking 18 miles a day, eating an unusual diet and just generally being a person. Especially on this section of the PCT, which is pretty isolated, getting a person out of the woods can be tricky. (Walking someone out, while often the correct decision, takes a long time and can potentially be detrimental to whatever injury or illness is present. Assisted evacuations are costly). Carrying out a person with a badly sprained ankle can take up to 17 people to accomplish, and helicopter evacs further strain the resources of the crew.
My point, which I realize got a bit lost in my ramblings about wilderness medicine, is that where we were last night and this morning was as close as we could get (not physically close – we were a nasty 12.5 miles hike out) to having the resources of the urban world. Besides having someone responsible for search and rescue resources calling the shots, we got to put Hanna on oxygen, which should just never be possible in the woods.
Ahem. I was supposed to talk about today, wasn’t I? After Hanna got helicoptered out, we walked about two miles up the trail when Kimi’s achilles began to object strongly and we had to change plans. We actually ended up turning around and hiking up and over Bishop pass. We originally wanted to get into Bishop tonight, but we didn’t quite make it before dark so we’re staying at a campsite 7 miles from the highway. Hopefully someone will be driving out tomorrow and can give us a ride. We’re probably going to end up having to skip some mileage in here somewhere to make it to Sonora pass by the 8th, but on the bright side we get to check in with Hanna earlier. Here’s hoping she’s doing well. – Becca