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Archive for July, 2009

PCT Journey, Volume Four – Tuolumne Meadows to Kings Beach (Lake Tahoe)

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Mike had a chance to stop by the store on his way through Lake Tahoe on the Pacific Crest Trail and it was the first time we actually got to meet in person. Here is his 4th installment from his time on the PCT.

My break at Tuolumne Meadow was great, including visiting Guy, a friend who works at the park.  In fact, we caught up over dinner one night, a dinner that included a double dose of dessert consisting of pie and ice cream.  It does a hiker good!

I was gathering my gear, planning on hiking out about noon on July 4th and as luck would have it, I saw a pack I recongized, another Deuter ACT Lite 65 + 10 owned by none other than my hiking friend Peter, who I had not seen since Big Bear in Southern California.  After catching up for a few minutes, we opted to hike out together.

The hiking from Tuolumne Meadow to Sonora Pass was, as I had been previously warned, contained both hilly terrain and bugs.  During one stretch while hiking through the meadow leading to Dorthy Lake while attempting to apply bug dope, remove my pack, swat mosquitios and get clothes on I broke into my “bug dance”.  I’m sure it was quite a sight but luckily Peter opted to hike on so hopefull there are no photo’s or worse yet, videos of this episode.

On reaching Sonora Pass there was again “Trail Magic” provided by “Meadow Mary” and “Billy Goat”.  Thanks to you both!  Further up the trail, at Walker Pass, there was an impromptu dose of “Trail Magic” provided by Jack, an PCT thru-hiker of several years ago.  Also a Walker Pass was the end of the “Markleeville Death Ride”, a 130 mile bike ride complete with I believe, five or six mountain passes.  I rather missed the bike at the moment.

After a bit more hiking I reached Echo Lake (S. Lake Tahoe area) for a minor resupply and headed for Kings Beach, CA to visit the staff at Tahoe Mountain Sports (my sponsors).

PCT Journey, Volume Three – Kennedy Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Greetings everyone.  Wow, what an incredible journey I had through the High Sierra’s.  When I left Kennedy Meadows the forecast was for mixed rain and snow as well as cold temps for the first few days followed by a warming trend.  The forecast was correct which made for some late starts, early stops and some less than ideal hiking conditions.

A couple of nights out of Kennedy Meadows I camped at about 11,000 feet, approximately one-mile short of Cottonwood Pass.  About 3 AM I awoke to the sound of sleet hitting the rainfly.  Sometime during the night the precipitation turned to snow.  I awoke at 6 AM to a beautiful morning and began my day by taking a few photo’s and brewing a cup of tea.  By 7 AM the weather had deterioriated and the snow began again in earnest.  So, rather than hiking in it, I opted to wait it out and I crawled back into the tent and waited it out.  I was thankful for having a good tent and bag.

A few days later after hiking through a bit more weather I reached Crabtree Meadows on June 17th.  Crabtree Meadows is the western “jumping off” point for climbing Mt Whitney.  According to others, it snowed on Mt Whitney on the 17th.  The 18th broke with good weather and an early start (5:30 AM) on climbing Mt Whitney.  My climbing partner, Danny (AKA “Trail Virgin”), and I made good time and reached the summit before noon and enjoyed the view before the weather closed in and we headed down.  The SMC Capra Ice Axe and Stubai crampons provided by Tahoe Mountain Sports were a great help in getting up and down the mountain safely and quickly.

After the hike up Mt Whitney came Forester Pass.  Although Forester Pass is approximately 13,000 feet and is spoken of as formidable I found it to be less challenging than the Mt Whitney climb.  There was a long snow field leading up to the pass, as well as a rock scramble to transition from the snow field to the trail (switch backs).  Overall, not too bad.

Other passes had their challenges, including a near-vertical last-pitch at Mather pass as well as the route finding on the Northern side of Muir Pass.  I found Muir Pass to be the most challenging due to the length of the snow fields and the route finding.  As it happened my journey through Muir Pass was a solo journey which added to the slow going as a result of slowing down for both safety and route-finding purposes.

I reached Muir Trail Ranch on June 24th, a few days later than planned, for a much needed food resupply.  I was ever so glad I included a package of fig bars for immediate consumption in the resupply bucket.  Although the pack was heavier due to the resupply I felt great as I headed back up the hill from Muir Trail Ranch.

A few days later I reached Red’s Meadow where I planned on topping off the lunch supplies, having dinner and an overnight stay at the campground.  At Red’s Meadow there were also “Trail Angels”.  “Just Ben” and Bethany as well as one of their relatives were there providing trailside snacks.  They also had use of a condo in Mammoth.  So, it was off to Mammoth for a shower, a bed, use of the laundry facilities and a couple of good meals.  I had a 24 hour hiatus as I got off the trail at 3 PM one afternoon and was back on the trail by about 3 PM the next afternoon.  Thanks Ben and Bethany!

I had a great hike from Red’s Meadow to Tuolumne Meadows, including an easy climb through Donahue Pass.  Along the way I ran into other hikers I had not seen for a while including “Magellan” and ”Sugar Mama” as well as Joel and Katie, newlyweds from Mammoth.

I reached Tuolumne Meadows early in the afternoon on July 1st for a much needed rest.

PCT Journey, Volume Two – Techapaci Pass to Kennedy Meadows

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

It was rather interesting resuming my walk after the two week break.  It was good to see family and talk to a few friends.  I resumed my walk late in the afternoon on Tuesday June 2nd at Techapaci Pass.  The first 24 hours back on the trail were challenging.  For the first time I felt a little lonely.  This coupled with a 2300 ft climb and a long afternoon of rain dampened my spirits.  Within 48 hours I was feeling better especially since I was back in the trees.  That’s always good for one’s spirit.

Following the rain there was quite a bit of wind and as a result I found creative ways to pitch the MSR Hubba to block the wind but still get some air as it was a warm wind.  What I found is that one can pitch the tent and install the rainfly and roll the doors back beyond the normal roll-back position by unhooking the fly from the front side of the tent.  Another option I found was to pitch the tent with the fly doubled up on one end to allow for stargazing while still blocking some of the wind and/or being prepared for rain (photos below).

At Walker pass, half way between Techapaci pass and Kennedy Meadows there was “Trail Magic”, arranged and provided by “Trail Angels”, usually former PCT thru-hikers wanting to give back the hospitality they recieved while on the trail.  After having my fill of food, complete with milkshakes I opted to stay at the Walker Pass campground.  This was a “Nearo” day (nearly zero), though I had hiked eight miles.

After leaving Walker pass I pulled  21, 18, and 10 mile days and reached Kennedy Meadows about noon on Wednesday June 10th.  I promptly commmenced with a feeding frenzy which included a hamburger, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and not much later another burger and a couple hours later, a chicken dinner.  Wow, even I did not know I could eat that much.  By yesterday afternoon, after some additional large meals I was actually full.

I’ve been enjoying my trail food most of which was assembled from both mail order freeze dried companies (fruit and vegatables) and grocery store items (rice, couscous, polenta, black beans, spiced lentils, etc).

I’m meeting lots of new people and enjoying the scenery especially since I am now in the Sierras.

The pack is packed and I am heading out this afternoon, June 12th, to get a few miles in this afternoon.  The Kennedy Meadows store was nice but it’s getting crowded and my feet are itching to move.  Looks like the Sierra’s will be on the cool side and as a result there are many hikers leaving the trail to hike other sections or simply waiting, hoping the weather will change.  I’m thankful for the choices I made in bringing the MSR Hubba, as well as a warm sleeping bag and clothing.  Many of my fellow thru-hikers have lighter equipment and have expressed some concern about the high country traverse.  As for me, I am adding a couple of days of extra food and fuel and “going for it”.

Weather permitting I will climb Mt Whitney about 5 days from now.  I’ll then resupply at Muir Trail Ranch on June 21st and anticipate reaching Tuolumne Meadows on June 28th or 29th.

Happy Trails to one and all…
Mike

Run to the Beach Race Results

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Thanks to everybody who came out and participated in the first Run to the Beach 5k or 10k race sponsored by Tahoe Mountain Sports and Vasque Shoes. We also want to thank Icebreaker for coming in with an Icebreaker sock donation at the last minute. Overall, about 45 people participated in our inaugural event. We expect you all to come out next year and bring 2 friends to make the Run to the Beach the best 4th of July Trail Run in the Basin! Enjoy a couple of the photos below and click here to view the results.

Gear Review: Deuter Race X Air 1

Monday, July 6th, 2009

I think I’ve found the ideal mountain bike pack, the Deuter Race X Air 1. Over the first few rides I’ve really noticed the advantages of the Aircomfort back system. It really keeps your back cool  while still keeping the pack from moving around while you ride. 850 cubic inches is plenty for the essentials for any bike ride. I always carry a pump, extra tube, patch kit, tire levers, multi tool, a few Cliff Shot Blocks, and water.  This pack carries all this and has room for an extra layer or more food for an epic ride. It doesnt have a ton of internal organization pockets, but the front pocket keeps your wallet, keys, and phone handy, and the side mesh pockets are the perfect size for an extra tube or energy bar. The Deuter Streamer resevoir that comes with this pack is the best I’ve used. The fact that the whole top opens makes cleaning it after a ride much easier than with other brands, just wipe it down with a paper towel and hang it upside down to dry. While I am primarily using this pack for biking, It would be a great small daypack for someone doing fast and light hiking as well.

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