What Takes 5 Years To Go 1100 Miles & 4 Months To Go 1500? How We Plan to Finish the PCT This Year

When we started hiking small sections of the 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail back in 2012, we told people we were on the 10-year plan. We figured the most we could ever get done any given year would be only 150 miles on average. So, we weren’t really sure when we might actually get to the northern terminus at the Canadian Border.

Mt. Shasta at sunset

Mt. Shasta from the south on Castella to Chester hike, summer 2017.

One of the frustrations of being section hikers is the length of time we spend planning each segment. It’s not always cool to leave your car someplace for two weeks. So, we work hard to find good on and off access points to the trail. We also are captive to the clock, needing always to get back to our jobs. This, of course, plays a huge part in how many days we can stay on trail each outing. And all of this limits the number of miles we get in each year. Once we do get back on trail, we need three or four days to get into our groove, adjust to the altitude, etc. And by the time we start to really feel like we have finally connected with the trail, it’s time to chase off back to the “real world” – a reality, as I’ve written in the past, that is real only if we make it so.

Deer in meadow

Found this deer grazing in a meadow on our Castella to Chester hike last summer, 2017.

We are excited to announce…

…our decision to get back on trail in June. This time, instead of our usual two-weeks, we’ll be taking an extended leave to hike the remaining 1550 miles of the trail, taking us likely into October. We’ll soon start to share posts on our planning, preparation and schedule. We plan to keep up the blog during the hike, posting directly from the trail when possible.

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We are also very excited to introduce Sweet Dreams Outdoors. We’ve partnered with Sweet Dreams to bring you reviews of new products and provide discounts on select gear  offered exclusively to our readers. Stay tuned for more details. Patti and I are both very excited to be part of the Sweet Dreams Outdoors team. Most of what they offer is recommended by staff members. The site features a lot of innovative products and the prices are really fair. It will be a blast to test and review new items as they become available.

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Save Our Lands

This was posted on the Pacific Crest Trailside Reader. Public Comments are being requested by July 10th to save these 22 monuments and 5 Marine National Monuments.  I have taken directly from the Reader’s May 31st post. PLEASE take a moment to make your comment.  I’ve made mine, stressing the importance of  needing space, not congestion of urban sprawl. And of course, how healing, inside and outside, these areas of nature are:

Pacific Crest Trailside Reader
VERY VERY IMPORTANT – all PCT users and lovers pay attention
Posted: 31 May 2017 10:00 AM PDT

The Department of Interior led by Ryan Zinke is reviewing 22 National Monuments and 5 Marine National Monuments, created or expended between the years 1996 – 2016. What is at risk? These Monuments may be reduced in size or eliminated all together. Three of the Monuments encompass stretches of the PCT – Sand to Snow National Monument (includes, among other features, Whitewater River), San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (includes, among other features, Mt. Baden-Powell), and Cascade Siskiyou National Monument (includes, among other features, Pilot Rock near Ashland, Oregon). There is a 60-day public comment period (ending July 10). It is critical that PCT users make their feelings known. You can do so by:

1) enter into your browser (or follow this link) http://www.regulations.gov

2) under the ‘What’s Trending’ column on the left side of the screen, you can double click on Review of Certain National Monuments Established Since 1996; Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment

3) click on “Comment Now”

4) make your comment

Here is what I wrote:  ( I am not sure who this author is…it was part of the post).

At the age of 62, I finished walking the Pacific Crest Trail. The Trail passes through three of the Monuments under review: Cascade Siskiyou, Sand to Snow, and San Gabriel Mountains. Just this past April I was again walking through the mountains of Southern California from the Mexican border to the San Jacintos, four years after first backpacking in these arid mountains. What is striking to me is just how aggressively development continues to push, push, push into these fragile desert landscapes. Horse ranches, greenhouses, homes, even housing developments and the associated roads, utility lines, and commercial establishments have sprung up where they did not exist even 4 years ago. Once development occurs, it is extremely difficult to undo it. The Sand and Snow and San Gabriel Mountains Monuments offer modest but critical protection from the sprawling reaches of Los Angeles and the Palm Springs/Palm Desert communities.

The landscape is extraordinarily vulnerable. The desert holds its scars for a very long time. You can see this impact as you walk near the Whitewater River in the Sand to Snow Monument. Or, from the top of Mt. Baden-Powell, in the San Bernardino Mountains Monument where the layer of pollution from the L.A. Basin often offers a palpable layer extending far to the southwest.

While not surrounded by massive population centers like the Sand to Snow and San Gabriel Mountains, the Cascade Siskiyou Monument is threatened by the rapidly growing Ashland-Medford communities of the Rogue River Valley. Homes are pushing their way farther and farther into the mountains around these communities. I believe that the Cascade Siskiyou Monument not only protect iconic features like Pilot Rock, but helps preserve the recreational opportunities for this region of southern Oregon.

I have lived on the North Coast of California just south of Redwood National Park for more than three decades. I think that the creation of Redwood National Park provides an object lesson when insufficient land is protected. The Park, in deference to local logging companies, initially limited much of the protection to a narrow strip of old growth redwood along Redwood Creek (named the ‘worm’ for its size and shape). Quickly we learned, as surrounding lands were aggressively logged and Redwood Creek clogged with sediment that we had to preserve the broader eco-system … not just a small patch of trees. By the time we learned that, the cost of buying back the watershed and its restoration was immense.

Do not give up these Monuments for short-term employment and temporary gain. I would love to walk some of these lands with you as I know that you agree with what I have seen and learned.

Alexa’s Hike

This is Alexa’s first post from the trail.

https://thetrek.co/week-one-with-team-foot-stuff/

Week one with Team Foot Stuff

We’re five days into our six month trek, and we’re loving every minute of it.

Okay, maybe not the extreme hiker pains, and the occasional steep up or down hill, but the bad moments on the trail make the good ones that much better.

On day one we ended up connecting with a group of hikers at Lake Morena, mile 20. There were about thirty hikers at the camp ground that night but a group of nine of us seemed to have an immediate connection. Brooke and Don we had hiked with from mile one starting that day, and with their energy we found it easy to get all the way to Lake Morena. The remaining six had started about an hour after us, and we met them as we shared beers and goodies from a trail angel, Rod, who was staying for a week at Lake Morena to give back to the hiker community.

The first week has been a good array of emotions- lots of pain in various areas of our body, tons of laughs amongst our group self named “Team Foot Stuff”, and incredible views and scenery along the entire way. It’s hard not to enjoy every moment of the trail, it’s already chalking up to be an incredible experience.

We’re resting at mile 77 today in Julian. We’ll try to reach Warner Springs by Monday and take a nero. Until then, happy trails!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Earth

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Taken near Thousand Islands Lake, Inyo National Forest, August 2016. Our shout out to Earth Day coming on Sunday.

The Earth is diverse, resilient and beautiful. It forever impresses. Never has this seemed more important than it does today.

 

Earth