So I have decided to “resupply as you go” where I will buy on the trail and mail it ahead. This will allow me to adapt my eating habits over time and distance. To get started from home I have bought and packed food for Warner Springs which I mailed two days ago. So I will bring with me food for the Snow course and for the start at Campo. Then I will buy at Mt Laguna. Next I will pick up my food at Warner Spring. And so forth from resupply to resupply from just buying, to buy and send, and to just picking-up a package. My resupply plan is in the website pages under Mail Drop List.
However I forgot to include maps with my first package to Warner Springs. So today I am mailing those. They are from Warner Springs to Agua Dulce. I will carry with me from Campo to Warner Springs. Then I will have home send me from Agua Dulce to Kennedy Meadows if I need them. I am wondering if I will use them or not. Only time will tell.
Since last September I have been preparing for my hike. Back then I put together a plan of hiking each day (except for Fridays) and doing this week after week. I started easy with low weight and low mileage and have built up over time adding 10% increase each week. I’ve injected recovery weeks after every 4 weeks where I reduced the weight and distance 30% to let my body heal. [Thanks Steve Sisson for teaching me about training plans.] As a result over these past seven month I have hiked 1600+ miles. In addition each month I did a shakedown camp out at a local state park culminating with a multi-day desert shakedown at Big Bend in February. So am I ready? All I can say is that I’m now done with the prep. Yippee! And I know I can hike 20 miles with a 35 pound pack. And I can camp in a variety of weather conditions. So yes, I think I am.
Tomorrow I fly to Sacramento CA at 6AM to take Ned Tibbit’s Mountain Education’s Snow Basic course at Echo Lake CA (near South Lake Tahoe) from April 11-13. Thanks to Terry S. who will pick me up and together we’ll attend the course. My equipment is purchased, my prep hiking is done, my resupply plan is prepared, my suitcase is packed, I’ve gone over my resupply with my family and I’m ready to go. For the past few weeks I’ve been waking up early, that is, well before dawn. I think it’s nervous energy. This hasn’t been a problem because I just get dressed and go out and do some prep hiking. This is no longer the case. In a matter of a few days I’ll be on the actual trail and reality will be set in. I wonder if I’ll be able to sleep tonight. Hmmm.
Terry and I arrive at 10 and met Ned Tibbits, the instructor, and the other students, Kelly and Jasmine, a mother and daughter team. We got on snowshoes and hiked to Echo Lake where we ate lunch. Along the way Ned stopped frequently to explain various things like reading the clouds and past avalanche areas. After lunch we hiked on the actual frozen Echo Lake. The weather was warm and the snow slushy. At one point I post holed down and my other leg jammed in the slush getting all wet. Shortly afterwards we got off the lake not wanting to break through. At the end of the lake we climbed over some small snow covered hills, but by then we were all tired especially me. So I was glad when we stopped. Hiking 4-5 miles in the snow was exhausting. We set up our tents, got water in a nearby stream, carved a bench and table in the snow, and sat there eating our dinner and chatting about the day. Hopefully I get more sleep tonight .
Terry and I at a snow covered Tahoe Rim Trail / PCT marked. By the time we get here they’ll be no snow.
Echo Lake covered in snow and ice. We snowshoed across the lake and beyond to our campsite..
We woke at sunrise, got dressed, had breakfast, and headed out into the back country at about 9AM. Up numerous hills, across snow bridges over small streams we arrived where we could see Pyramid Peak and numerous other ones. I’ve been slowing the group down because I’m not used to this elevation (about 8000 feet). I’ve had to stop and catch my breath. Also I’m always last – trailing everyone. I have to remember I have to hike my own hike. Next we headed back and went down a steep slope. Sliding and stepping we went down and down. Teaching us how to traverse steep slopes in the snow. It was fun once we got over our initial fear of the height. We got back to camp at about 4:30 PM exhausted.
On the last day we did safe ascent and descent. Without snowshoes we learned how to use our ice axes to slow our descent. This included going down head first on our backs on a steep slope. Simply put we held our ice axes up to our chests with the point out then rolled on our stomach and jammed the point into the snow which caused us to swing around head first and then to slow and stop our descent. After numerous attempts we headed back to camp, got our packs and headed out. It took us about 3 1/2 hours of snowshoeing to get back to our cars, say our goodbyes and head out.
On our return we could see Lake Tahoe in the distance.
Our instructor, Ned Tibbits.
Sunburned me after the weekend course. Now I’m off to start the trail.
As a traveler, a stranger in a strange land, I’ve had to depend on others to get where I needed to go. The generosity and kindness I’ve received on this journey so far has been eye-opening. People talk about how isolated and uncaring we have become. Well from my point of view it’s the opposite. Total strangers have taken time and energy to support me on my pilgrimage. I have a hard time expressing my appreciation for what they have done for me so far. From driving for hours to get me towards my goal, to sheltering me, to giving me a warm meal and comfortable bed for a night, but most of all to accepting, talking with and listening to this solo sojourner on his journey. For these offerings of yourselves I thank you. I am in your debt forever.
Slept in a bed for the last time at Scout and Frodo’s. They were wonderful. They picked me up at the train station, fed me dinner, entertained me, gave me a bed to sleep on, fed me breakfast, and drove me to the trail. At 7:22 AM we headed out. After 22 miles I got to Lake Morena at about 5 PM.
It’s fun to look back as you’re hiking and realize you’ve made progress. Sometime after Lake Morena and before Mount Laguna I went under a highway. A little while later I turned back and realized that I had climbed a bit. I went under on the far left.
My daughter asked if the trail is hard to find/follow. Not at all. It is generally well marked and obvious. Here is the trail just outside the campground at Mount Laguna.
It was a long day, but I made it to Mount Laguna, or maybe I should say that a bunch of us got to Burnt Rancheria campground 1/4 mile away from town, and tried to camp there. The place was closed, the water was off, and I heard the front gate was locked. After a bunch of us got all settled on a site or two at the back the campground the manager came by and told us we had to leave because they weren’t open. We tried to pay, but he said no. (They open next weekend – sheesh!) It was about 7 PM when he told us and it was getting dark. He told us we could sleep anywhere that was 150 feet from the last “structure” so we packed, moved, and re-setup next to the trail outside the campgrounds. I cowboy camped (no tent, just under the stars) and at 4:30 AM it started to sprinkle a few drops so I got startled and got up quickly, packed and started hiking. Luckily it didn’t rain any more so I just continued to hike.
I still have plenty of food and hiker hunger hasn’t set in so I skipped my resupply in Mount Laguna. It was late in the day and I was tired from hiking all day the next day the store opened at 9 AM, and I wanted to start early. So I might have to conserve a bit for the next three days until Warner Spring. Adapting on the trail is all part of hiking. Hopefully this choice won’t hurt me.