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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 Update – Volume I from Mike Rumsey

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Every year Tahoe Mountain Sports sponsors a PCT hiker to hike the trail, use our gear, and report back. This year, Mike Rumsey is the chosen one. Mike hails from Portland, OR and just started hiking the Pacific Crest Trail a few weeks ago. Here is his first check in, so enjoy! Thanks Mike.

Well the first couple of weeks, the first couple of hundred miles and the first couple of blisters are behind me.  Have I had a good time?  Absolutely yes!  Have things gone according to plan?  Absolutely not!  Have I rolled with the flow?  Absolutely!  It’s been a great adventure so far and I am looking forward with great excitement for the next part of the journey.

I started the journey with Doug and Mike, a couple of guys from the Northeast whom I had never met before.  My initial plan was to “ease” into the journey.  Due to the distance between water stops easing into the journey was not as easy as I had hoped.  The first day included a 15 mile am hike followed by a 5 mile pm hike. This landed me at Lake Morena.  The highlights of this stop included a shower and an excellent little store, complete with a large and tasty malt.  Not bad for the first day on the trail.

The following day included a re-route off the trail due to an aircraft crash.  We were told it was a 10 mile road walk but everyone seemed to think it was more like 13 miles. All of which seemed to be uphill and in the sun….the rainbow was a USFS campground which included showers….so, with a large handful of quarters I felt clean.  So, two days two showers……living the life of luxury, as long as it lasts anyhow.

As I soon learned, the deserts of Southern California are not as flat as one might expect.  After a few days I developed a couple of blisters as a result of too much of a good thing – downhill hiking.  So, an easy day was in order.  Around this time it seems everyone learned about the same lesson; hike early in the morning, hide out from the heat and hike more late in the afternoon, earlier if there is a breeze. 

Although I’ve seen a few snakes they have not been a problem.  The most pressing concern in the desert has been finding and carrying enough water from one water stop to the next.  To assist in this effort the primary tool is the PCT Water Report.  One plans each day and each segment of each day around the water report.   I’ve carried as much as six liters of water and as “little” as 4 1/2 liters.

After a few days on the trail most hikers hit Mt Laguna, still in San Diego County, but in the mountains.  The post office there was quite busy as almost without exception PCT hiker have decided their pack is too heavy and contain unnecessary stuff.

Since beginning the trail the sequence has been desert, mountains (Mt Laguna), desert, mountains(San Jacinto Wilderness), desert, and mountains (San Gorgonio wilderness – leading to Big Bear).

Along the way, I have met many other hiker and have already made some great hiking friends.  In fact, I met another hiker, also hiking with a Deuter ACT Lite 65 + 10 and he and I have already become fast friends.

The pack has withstood the rigors of the desert, including the numerous types of thorny and spiny bushes, with no noticable impact.

I’m also happy to report the MSR Hubba and the Thermarest Neo-Air are also no worse for wear.  I especially like that I get a great nights sleep with the Neo-Air.  Certainly better than the Z-rest.  Well worth the extra weight in my opinion.

As a result of differing hiking speeds and whether one makes town stops or not, there is some leap-frogging of hikers.  I’ve take every opportunity to have a meal, an ice cream bar, a malt, or a root beer float along the way, provided it has been along the trail (within a mile of the trail).  So, two weeks into the hike, about 265 miles, less 20 miles on the yellow blaze, a bit of saving the feet.

The most memorable moment of the first two weeks are seeing a fellow hiker hike back into camp and stating “Tell me you’re not where you camped last night”.  It seems a rock in the shoe and a switchback made for a bad combination as I was in the same spot.  Luckily, he only backtracked about an eight of a mile.

A welcome relief was seeing a recliner on the trail when I was nearly into Big Bear.  Seems there are three hostels/hotels that have a friendly rivalry in obtaining business.  One of them opted for a full-on rest stop, complete with a recliner and fresh fruit.  Nearly stopped me in my tracks it did.  It was a great rest stop and in fact I considered spending the night in the chair.  Alas, I hiked on and arrrived in Big Bear the next morning.

As a result of the blisters, never severe, but never quite gone, and due to a “still small voice” I have “yellow blazed” to the Fresno area to regroup, re-equip and spend a few days with family before resuming my hike.  I’ll be re-starting next week, at the end of the desert / beginning of the Sierra’s and at a bit more moderate pace.  I am looking forward to the beauty and serenity of the Sierra’s and the more relaxed pace I’ve opted for for the Sierra’s.

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