Monthly Archives: December 2013

Tentative Start Date

Well I’ve signed up for Mountain Education’s Snow Basic Course (SBC) near Echo Lake on April 11-13. So that means that I’ll probably leave home a few days before that, fly to San Francisco CA, visit Stephanie and Justin, and make my way to the course. The course will help me be better prepared when I get to the Sierra Nevada mountains in June. Then after the course I’ll make my way down to Campo CA to start the trail around April 15th. Slowly things are getting put in place.

Update: Terry S. who I met last year at ADZPCTKO, is also taking the snow course at the same time and lives north of LA said that I could catch a ride south with him to the Carpinteria, CA (CPN) train station which would take me to San Diego. From there Frodo and Scout can get me to the trail. Thanks very much Terry, Frodo, and Scout.

First Stream Crossing

I hiked with the “Crack of Dawn” meet up group at McKinney Falls State Park this morning. After completing 4 miles with them they were done so I headed out for at least 4 miles more. To do this I hiked over to the lower falls and crossed there to continue on the Homestead trail. It was not that deep, but it was quite cold. Others we’re crossing at the same time. They took off their shoes whereas I just plunged ahead with my shoes on. I also used my hiking poles for improved balanced. By the time I got back to the car I actually did 9 miles.

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Accept the Depravation

Having read various trail blogs and listened to various podcasts, I feel I should have a phrase that philosophically aligns with what I’m trying to do. One of the podcasts I’ve listened to is The Trail Show, and they’ve use the phrase “embrace the brutality”. I feel this is a bit strong and just not me – for example, it seems more like head-banging heavy-metal rock whereas I’m more easy-listening classic rock. So I have chosen the phrase “accept the depravation”. We’ll see if this fits as I get closer to starting the trail and once I’m on it.

Camping and Hiking at Colorado Bend State Park

Leaving drizzly Austin worried me, because camping in the cold rain is tough, but arriving at a clear Colorado Bend State Park after a two hour drive was comforting. After checking in I backpacked about a mile to the primitive camp area where I setup, and made dinner. For the first time I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner of my dehydrated spaghetti.

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Night comes very early so I got into my sleeping bag and I listened to my audio book. It was probably around 7:30 PM when I went to sleep. I kept waking throughout the night. I was either cold or uncomfortable. By morning I had my sleeping bag gathered around my neck, my buff over my face and my wool cap on and I was still cold. It was 6:30 AM when I finally got up and broke camp. Then again eleven hours of sleep is too much. Also the full moon was a distraction – it was so bright!

Making breakfast and breaking camp took over an hour. Making cocoa was a nice treat. Finally I was hiking. I chose various trails to make a ‘short’ ten mile hike because this is a recovery week. At one point I scrambled down sheer rocks holding onto a wire handhold to get to Gorman Falls. I find going down a lot harder than going back up.

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By the time I got back I had completed nearly 13 miles. Oops! Sore and tired I set up camp. Then I walked to the car to get more fresh water which added another three miles to my feet, but at least that was without a pack. Getting up and down to get in and out of the tent is tough. My knees were tender and this was supposed to be a short easy recover week. Dinner was cold homemade turkey soup and some Fritos. Again a good dinner IMHO.

Mid hike my iPod ran out of juice and I tried to use my battery backup power source. After a few failed attempts and once I got to camp I figured it out. So I juiced up my watch, iPod and iPhone. The sun came out at the end of the hike so I even got out the solar charger a bit.

Saturday I went to bed and wrote this blog post until 9:00 PM. That night was to be even colder (30F) so I had all my down layers on. As a result my normal stuff-sack pillow was empty so I used an inflatable pillow, and my new down-filled air mat. Overall, and to my surprise, I was comfortable all night.

I woke when a few birds started to chirp and it was light out. I actually had slept in until 7:30 AM which is amazing since I’m typically an early riser. Upon getting out of my tent I noticed frost on everything – the tent, and the grass. As I packed up my bare hands were chilled and painful. I felt that the temperature was quite below freezing.

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So I slowly did my eight miles stopping to remove layer upon layer as the hike went on and the day warmed up. With the sun out I actually rolled up my sleeves. I was sore starting, but as I warmed up I was OK. I listened to one of my audiobooks as I hiked along to help pass the time.

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I arrived back to my little remote campsite having completed about 9.2 miles. It is ‘about’ because my GPS watch run out of juice in the last two miles. Power management is an issue this weekend with me wanting to keep my iPhone, iPod and watch alive. I have been learning about and using my solar charger and backup battery.

Returning back to camp I again and for the last time set everything up. I made and ate some packaged Spanish Rice for lunch which was OK along with some Fritos. Although I’m alone I’m not antsy maybe because I am writing this post which is keeping busy or because I’m not waiting for anyone to arrive. Dunno why, but I’m not bored.

I finished my second two bottles of water so I again walked the mile or so back to the car to fill them again. I need to drink more water for lots of reasons. When I got back it still wasn’t dinner time so I killed time exploring and taking a few more photos of the Colorado river from my campsite and a panoramic picture of my campsite.

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Dinner was again spaghetti which was only OK. Maybe it was that I added in the dehydrated sauce which might have been too much. Overall flavor was good, especially sprinkling on Parmesan cheese as I ate it, but twice in three days was too much.

I again prepared for a very cold night by wearing all my down clothes in my sleeping bag. Again the frost was on the ground and tent when I woke. Packing up for the last time I hiked to the car, filled my now empty water bottles and drove to the other end of the lot about a mile and hiked the Spicewood trails. On the way up I was high over a creek, and after two miles I stopped at the junction and turnaround point for breakfast. Heading down on the second and return trail I enjoyed crossing the creek several times and following a more technical trail (getting lost and following blazes and trail mud). All told I completed five miles by the time I got back to the car. BTW I stopped at the ranger station who said that the past two nights were in the twenties degree Fahrenheit. Brrrrr!

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Afterwards I headed back home feeling more confident. Each of these trips helps me understand and practice what I need for hiking and camping on the PCT.