Gear Spawls v3: Unsprawled in Shelters (because thats rude.)

This week comes with some extra pictures, since I messed up last weeks post.

Benson Hut, just a little south of Donner Pass on the PCT. The shelters out west don’t get the love they do on the AT, but they are generally super nice. Combining unique construction and eclectic feature sets, I dunno why most thru-hikers out here aren’t super pysched on them…

A little old gem in the Pasayten Wilderness, I didn’t end up staying here, but despite the disrepair I could see myself doing so. Its got bunks, a dirt floor, and a tree on the roof, what’s not to like? Elmo was still keeping up with me fer this one, but the PCT and TK were almost in sight and I was getting a little over-excited to do high mileage.

Not the shelter I stayed at, but Lakenenland had a little adirondack shelter out back, complete with cots, a table, and full window exterior doors. This little picnic shelter makes a better picture what with the sculpture an all. Also I don’t seem to have a picture of the actual shelter…

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Boots on the Ground v2: Boots on the Snow

From the top of Mt. Wynne, only a few days ago. You can see Pinchot pass is pretty clear, but unfortunately the trail is enough of a rut that it has protected the snow, leading me to still be snowshoeing on about 4 to 6 inches of snow, when about half the surrounding ground is clear… that horizontal line of snow on the left about in the middle is the trail down.

A sign atop Donahue Pass on the south border of Yosemite NP, I don’t know how tall it is, but looking back to that last significant snowfall we’ve gotten a lot of melting don in the past couple weeks.

Right around shasta we got a little bit of snow, just enough to make climbing Shasta inadvisable. but in the following days I found quite a few tracks thru the remaining snow. this one seems to have stuck around a ways after the snow it was made in melted away. Such is the power of dirt.

Here’s my pruned foot, neither in a boot nor on snow.

Near Crater Lake I got my first snow of the PCT, and did a fair chunk of trudging. This was the second day of constant wet feet, and it shows a bit. Got to stop in at South Brown Mountain Shelter, build a fire and dry out. Some  of those divots didn’t really go away with the wetness though.

Animals on the Trail v2: little guys

Preying mantis in NorCal, I’d never seen one in real life. They look super cool, I dunno if it was cold, or something else, but it seemed unable to move significantly. Nice for photos, not so much for its survivability, especially given its right in the middle of the trail. I even passed a NoBo 15 or so miles past who might be the one to spell its doom. Hope you can make it outta there little bug buddy!

This finger sized frog hanging out on a privy seat in ND, I usually avoid picking up little animals, but he was chilling out pretty hard and I wasn’t really looking to sit on him, or wait for him hop off on his own. I see a lot of toads, and hadn’t seen many frogs, atleast not since I was in the southern AT. Then they’d been mating, you could hear the frenzy of croaks for a quarter mile in either direction!

This big ol’ Beetle (?) was trying to roll this rock around ID, wasn’t making much progress, but I sat and watched him try for a few minutes. Kinda wonder why it was so intent on this little stone, probably something mundane, yet nefarious. 

Tiny Spider crawling around some asphalt near an earthen dam in OH, might’ve posted this one on the previous iteration of the blog, but it wasn’t till now that I noticed the the thin thread of silk being spun behind it.

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.

Winter v1

The first snow of this fall, just south of Crater Lake. It thawed fully after two days and then we had temperatures in the 90s, but here I had zigged when I should’ve zagged and found myself on the wrong side of the mountain. Nothing a little more walking wouldn’t fix, but the real trick is how much it cuts into your night hiking ability to have frantically melting snow fogging out your headlamp’s beam.

The thaw is often worse than the freeze, and this cycle repeated itself far beyond its welcome in the upper peninsula of MI. Would’ve much preferred to cross these bridges while frozen, rather than going way up stream or balance beaming across the deep cold waters.

Right after my return to trail following the new year, I was greeted by light snow. I had skipped the mildest part of the winter and had much yet to come for the year, and not much farther ahead I would cross paths with a veritable herd of deer in the suburbs of Dayton, OH. There must have been more than four dozen of them, their tread left the ground bare of all but a few motes of snow.

From way back, atop Blue Mountain in GA only a few days into the trip and already dealing with snow. That’s what you get for starting the AT in February. This was mere hours before Nemo and I met Rescue for the first time, and he got us a ride into town courtesy of the Fire Rescue Crew.

Gear Sprawls v2: All splayed out on the western front

Tarn Camp, WA

A somewhat rare view of my 2 person camp setup, with TK gone I had a whirlwind of gear juggling, first mailing my solo kit home, and then within a couple weeks having to coordinate to get my solo kit back. Also pictured, the wonderful Mica lake in the early morning, firmly in the halo of the morning’s alpenglow.

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Ready to go the morning after staying at an abandoned cabin, which used to serve a tungsten mine in the Pasayten wilderness. Shared it with a couple who had thru-hiked the PNT the previous year, and with Elmo an older thru-hiker who had been accompanying me for a few days, till I turned south.

pack at the beach, ID

Another shot of my pack at a beach, but no snow this time and the weather was wonderful here. Took a couple hours off from hiking to go swimming and watch people zip around the far side of the lake on their motor boats. Blue pack’s time may be running dry, and I may have even replaced it by the time this goes up, getting lots of holes in the exterior pockets and the webbing of the harness if abrading apart, its hard to complain too much though, I’ve carried it almost 5000 miles at this point.

Bivvy atop Abercrombie Mtn, WA

Having just woken up on Abercrombie Mountain for sunrise, a year out to the day from my Katahdin summit under similar circumstances. (Although I didn’t camp on top of Katahdin, don’t worry all you Baxter State park reps who scour the internet. I just climbed up under cover of darkness.) Abercrombie used to have a lookout tower on it and most of the wood components of this otherwise stone bivvy were probably salvaged from it. Mostly what’s left are the concrete footings and a little bit of twisted metal. The stones were all really flat, so it was actually super comfortable to stay in there, although I’m well insulated from ground conditions by my sleeping pad.

 

 

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.