These got swept under the rug for a while, but February 4th I completed my coast to coast objective, making it into the Pacific Ocean at Dunes Park Beach in San Diego, CA.
In addition, I somewhat recently made it to the CDT aswell. Hit the Southern Terminus on March 2nd, walked to Lordsburg NM, and took off to Utah to wait and give the San Juans a chance to melt a little bit by the time I get there in May.
By the time this goes out I ought to be back to hiking on the CDT, but I have been tooling around Southwestern UT for a few weeks now, mostly focused on resting and learning to rock climb.
The Border Route Trail section, immediately after the Superior Hiking Trail, brought me my dusting of late MN snow. While I had just come off trail to resupply; Nemo was dropping one of our friends off to SoBo the SHT, so we kicked it for a night and he brought me a ration box. Found several unopened beers in the woods, still good even; not in the same place either, like 3 different beers in 3 different places. Hope I didn’t wreck someone’s caches for a drunken FKT attempt… Saw lots of wild life up close, all the baby animals that aren’t afraid of people, or are otherwise foolish. From the moose at a safe distance, to grouse chicks and fawns that try to hide right in the center of the trail. (or worse, under the arch of my boot.) Met Problem Bear briefly on the Kekekabic trail, He’s Triple Crowner who attempted the NCT east bound in 2016. I think he got off in MI around when the trail gets overly civilized. People who can really relate to long distance hiking are pretty rare the farther you get from the Triple Crown Trails, so I think we both enjoyed taking an hour to commiserate.
I caught both the BRT and Kek before many of the volunteers had been out for the heavy trail maintenance necessary. Many dead-falls and Aspen were bent across the trails; likely a hold over from heavy snows or a fall windstorm; slowing progress about as well as any of the steep elevation jumps of the AT and the LT, as following the trail became less walking and more tracing a tread path through a thicket that grows sideways. Leaving the Kek and the boundary waters I was able to connect with a group of volunteers who put me up in a boy scout camp near the Kek’s terminus, and also fed me pretty decent before I set off on the next decent road section. MN was good to me, even on roads; people offered me rides, food and drink multiple times a day between Ely and my next trail section just after Grand Rapids. (These great lakes states seem to share town names pretty frequently…) Good to have “Minnesota Nice” be more true than just a series of passive aggressive jokes.
This road section is about when I really got on top of this iteration of the blog, and I think when I got onto instagram. The next section of established trail is well supported by trail volunteers and came and went quite breezily. Here I found my first morel mushrooms, which at the time I thought were quite sizable, as well this section was where I had to step over a fawn that failed its hide check. (or maybe just balance…) I ran into an encryption error, and accidentally erased all the pictures I took in Minnesota to this point, so the ones that have made it here I have found because as luck would have it; I didn’t back up anything in that time, but I did transfer files around a little so there were a few survivors. You’d think that afterwards I would’ve learned my lesson and developed good habits around back-ups and data management, but I actually recently had another near catastrophe… maybe I ought to get around to that…
Overall, winter seems to only come in a few flavors on trail. Some such as while crossing the Inyos for this look into Saline Valley, are amongst my favorite hiking conditions, and it might be a stretch to even call them winter. Cool air, comparatively warm sun. I’ve said it before, but this kind of weather inspires big mile days more than any other.
Similar weather abounded in the desert sections of the PCT, especially after I came down from the high points near San Jacinto and Onyx Peak; where conditions dipped into another flavor of trail winter, too windy and wet to stop and fiddle with Cameras. Luckily it didn’t stay that way for too long. The overarching plan to spend winter in the Southwest is working out, almost too well. Its maybe a bit hot for me at these lower elevations.
Herein upon Muir Pass I having had a bit of this second flavor of winter, but was also determined to try to photograph my surroundings. It helped that I could hop in and out of the Muir Pass Hut for refuge as need be.
Another, more literal flavor of winter camping is while snow may not be present, temperatures are low enough that you can pack ice cream out from town for you first breakfast. I would encourage this universally, everyother non-cooked meal you eat will already be equally cold.
August 11th 2016, to February 2nd 2017.
A far cry from my original plan to complete the PCT within 100 days, but I self sabotaged that plan almost immediately. Second crown in hand, and onto San Diego to complete the coast to coast portion of my trek. The CDT is almost in my sights.
This is a bit late, but after some deliberation I chose to re-route around the Sierra from Sonora Pass due to mixed signals about storms that were passing through in the last week. I intend to go back into the Sierras yet, possibly via Tioga Pass, Mammoth Lakes, or further south depending on conditions.
Keeping this contingency opens up some opportunities to hike by Mono lake, and possibly into Death Valley later on. Also given that I already have future plans to hike the John Muir Trail, I should be able to easily fill in my gaps. While maintaining a continuous footpath for this trip. (I am open to the possibility that if I get ahead of schedule on the CDT I may hitchhike back out here to do the Sierra while still on this trip, but that is less likely)
Finally, I intend to hike west from the PCT near Tehachapi, to complete my coast to coast objective, and return to trail by foot soon after.
Made CA at long last, the final state of the PCT (and being more than half of the trail…) and positioning myself to my best estimate, at mile 10,000 as I resupply here. Its the first significant milestone of a fall that I think will have several others!
Its kind of amazing that it falls in a town, considering the pains I take to stay away. Alas it would be far stranger, if nothing out of the ordinary happened over such a time as the past 19 1/2 months.
This is overdue in writing, but I will set the posting date to reflect the actual time.
Made it to the PCT! The Pasayten Wilderness has been one of my favorite sections of trail of the whole trip! I was able to meet my friend TK at castle pass on the 10th as I had given him as an estimate a month prior, (I’d count this as a measure of how good I am at predicting my progress if it hadn’t required a ton of effort for me to skirt in close to 11:59pm on the 10th) and we’ll be heading south, hoping to hit campo and the Mexican Border around mid November. Excited for another easy to follow trail!