Sculpture v2: Unexpected, Unexplained.

This little piece of enigmatic metalwork is somewhere on the PCT just South of Casa de Luna, nobody (by which I mean me) knows why its there. At first glance it appears to be an arrow, maybe pointing in the direction of trail, however it is not at a junction and points 30 degrees off trail into a bush. In addition, the fletching is off, leading me to believe that it was meant as a conjunction of the Venus (♀) and Mars (♂) symbols. (it could also be Mars and the modern Earth symbol {♁} but that seems unlikely to me) These symbols in a modern context are often used to refer to gender, and their orientation in this sculpture is rotated, so I think the Artist intends for us to flip gender on its side…?

This may not count as sculpture if your conceptualization of sculpture requires a human artisan, but mine does not and this is the spitting image of an eagle anyway. Eagle Rock is a fixture of the PCT, such that I knew it was coming up, and I had only seen about 3 people on trail (not counting 100 yards from roads, and even including them its not many) in the last 1200 miles of the PCT.

These ended up being on a dead end spur, (I briefly headed towards Los Vegas for a doomed attempt to meet up with Mammoth for a third time.) but a pair of (shī) randomly off route 66? What in the world? They’re just in the desert; they even have registers despite not being on a trail, but no explanation.

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Gear sprawls v4: A Yardsale in Review

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As I am getting back on the PCT post-holiday break it seems that I may have made the wrong choice with regards to weather. Had I stayed on trail I would have finished out SoCal without much trouble, but it seems we’ve caught a few decent storms since then, so I’m coming back in with a pretty similar kit to what I carried thru the Sierra, basically just minus an Ice Ax. Carrying the snowshoes unnecessarily feels a little silly, but I think I may get some use out of them given how low snow line is on San Jacinto.

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Although, my kit doesn’t change that much season to season, I try and keep my budget a little too tight for that. Most of this stuff has come a long way, and my use conditions for this trip put a bigger premium on durability (or warranties) than I would if I were doing a single trail. Both puffy jackets were acquired on trail, although the top one I picked up on mile 40 o the AT… the second is perhaps a bit overkill now, I’ve only worn them together a couple times. (namely atop Mt. Whitney) While keeping weight down is important, preventing gear failure (especially in winter conditions) is paramount; both from a sense in that if I am carrying it, then I need it to be not broken, and in a sense that replacing gear cuts into the coffers, which ultimately will be what forces me off trail.

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The red and silver sleeping bag liner is a vapor barrier, which really does extend the range of comfort. Although I already sleep quite warm, and early in the trip found that my 20°F bag I could sleep comfortably into the teens. This has since receded a bit as I think I may have worn or otherwise damaged the down. Despite washings it never seems to recover its original loft, it is however still quite warm, and with VBL layers and some midnight crunches I haven’t found too much trouble sleeping below 0°F. Also of note slight modifications to my tent, having added a set tension distributing guy lines, I reduced the number of stakes required for setup by 4, bringing minimum setup to 4 stakes and fully battened down at 6 stakes. I recently modified it further. Using some small plastic rings cannibalized from my backpack, to minimize the cord on cord action, which should prolong the life of the guylines a bit.

Roadwalkin’ v1

Ever maligned, often deservedly so. Road sections have something to offer, especially if you count making peace with the death that speeds past, not but an arms length away.

In the final section of the NCT, while following the ill fated McClusky Canal; ya gotta take what elevation change you can, and this ten foot embankment is about it.

Finding a roadwalk route from Lake Sakakawea to Glacier NP isn’t too hard, but a little effort and some extra miles to get you off of US2 in Eastern MT is worth it. Even if you do see the rockies for an extra day before reaching them.

The Joys of having left the plains, to the point where turning around yeilds a view to Chief Mountain, instead of the seemingly endless horizons.

Crossing 138, (not walking along it… I know) into Crater Lake NP, even the road caught some of the sunset’s reflection. Climbing Mt. Thielsen that afternoon put me behind enough to catch this here, rather than somewhere in the forest without a clear view to the skies.

Architecture v2: Unaccompanied Miner’s Equipment

Second to last stop before catching the PCT. Camped out in an abandoned miner’s cabin, thatvhas since been refurbished for recreational use. The Map said it was a Tungsten Mine, and being on the side of Wolframite Mountain seems appropriate. There was quite a spread of old heavy machinery strewn about, I spent a couple hours photographing, and didn’t even check it all out! Deserves another trip honestly.

Eby’s Stamp Mill, across the river from Belden, CA and just along the roadside. Used to Process Gold from ore, now its mostly a nice place to have a roadside picnic. Complete with privy.

A saw measured for cutting square-set timbers, for the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, NV. I got to take a short side trip out there from South Lake Tahoe with one of the women who was also staying at the hostel there.

Saline Valley Salt Tram Crossover Station. This used to be the top of a system of Gondolas that could transport people and salt from Saline Valley (just west of Death Valley proper, and inside the National Park) to the Owens Valley, and thus the rest of California. In the brief research I did for this I feel like I should’ve poked around a bit more, I was in quite a hurry to badwater though. Will return here aswell.

Wreckage v2: Broken Bridges

Had a lot of inconsequentially broken bridges in WA, but this one’s got TK on it which counts for a lot. I rarely get a subject to photo, and I’m not well versed taking selfies. His pack is super long with how he stashes his sleeping pad there. Maybe I should play around with camera timers more…

You can barely make out that bit of boardwalk sunken under the flooding from a mid-winter thaw. Not sure if it normally crosses a smaller stream, but even before submersion it would’ve been woefully inadequate for this span.

This is less a bridge and more an extended boardwalk along the bank of a river. The sections of which are undeveloped seem very prone to flood. I routed thru the woods several times within a few miles of here to avoid the calf deep plus wading while temperatures hold near freezing.

At first glance this bridge in the North Cascades doesn’t really look broken, it might’ve had some ambitious architect, intent on making a statement about trail fixtures. As you close on it though:

You find it is actually collapsed into the water. Awaiting a nice spring flood to wash it downvalley where it may find new life as driftwood, surely inspired by the legions of hiker trash who cross it each season. Atleast someone placed a rock in the middle to help keep your feet dry.

Nothing is Ever Allowed v1

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It may not be a public trail, but that must go somewhere. I also like the fine print. Definitely not a toilet…

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They don’t look closed?

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This one is just a shame, an earthen dam would make an awesome sledding hill.
 

Levity v1: Or Emoji’s in their Natural Habitat

Doubt there’ll ever be a v2 of this one, but there’s a certain levity to finding little bits of personality on the trail when you are working hard.

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Its like the trail itself is smiling on you, right before the next climb.  You pretty much gotta smile; even if you walk for a living, compared to most everyone else, you are still on vacation.

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I’m not sure what a DEhA is, but it made me cackle like a hatter when I found it. Maybe there’s something in ME’s aquifers. The humor might not translate well to text from my head.

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Whoever wrote this was at exactly the same point in their arc on the AT as I was when I passed it. In retrospect it had a lot worse to get, and whatever I was complaining about at the time would probably be a joke to me now.

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There were plenty of little bits of crank-poetry along the trail, many of which describe some of the trail personalities to a T. This one scratched my funny bone at the time and got saved, many others were lost to my camera.