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.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Abstract

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Returning from our hikes is always a cornucopia of gluttony. A medium pizza for each of us, Patti’s a throw-it-all-on-as-long-as-it’s-vegetarian with extra cheese; mine, a pepperoni, meat balls, onions, fresh garlic and green olives. To top it off, a cold home brew of our finest Pale Ale. The picture above is of boiling wort, the beginning of a batch of beer, about two minutes after putting in the hops. If ever the saying “watching a boiling pot…” applies, it is here, while I savior the swirl of colors that the hops creates as they drown in the boiling malt and water. Three weeks from “the boil,” I open the first bottle. My son Adam created and gave me my own brand, label and bottle caps, playing off my trail name of 3-Guy.

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Abstract

Heroes Among Us

When we are out on the trail, we meet many sorts of people. They come from all corners of the country and from the world. And if we have learned anything over the 800+ miles we have completed of the Pacific Crest Trail, it is that everyone has a story. We didn’t approach our segment-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with a story of our own. But soon enough we had one: Patti’s diagnosis of invasive breast cancer, her resolve to continue hiking through treatment, and fighting against cancer becoming her only world.

We got to thinking the other day of people we know who achieved amazing feats. Just like the hikers we meet on the trail, they, too all have interesting stories.

John Casterline
John reached out to Patti about a year ago when he picked up our book, “Hiking Cancer“. He recognized similarities of his story with Patti’s. Despite John’s 2006 lung cancer diagnosis, and a string of other cancers that took him through treatments lasting until 2011, John began working on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail once he was done with radiation. His inspiring story is told in his book, “Peaks & Valleys: A Hike of Hope,” available on Amazon or from the author at  www.johnbcasterline.com . Other sites of interest are lungcancerhike.org and postholer.com/tnx4asking . We made plans to meet up with John on our last hike in the Kings Canyon area. We were excited to learn that coincidentally we would be hiking the same section of the PCT about the same time. John was going south and we were going north. Unfortunately John had to get off the trail early due to his health, and ironically, because of the Rough Fire, we did, too. Hopefully, our paths will cross this year.

Eileen Comeaux
Eileen, Patti’s aunt who lives in Hawaii, is a farmer by trade. She provides fresh produce to the local Maui restaurants and sends beautiful, natural Hawaiian flowers throughout the country. We’re all from Iowa originally, home of The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). I’m not sure why or when Eileen decided that she wanted to attempt the 450+mile bike ride. But three years ago, at age 60, she went out and bought herself a bicycle, trained for months on end and made her arrangements to participate. However, in the December before RAGBRAI, Eileen was diagnosed with lung cancer and would require a portion of her lung removed. Somehow, undaunted, in the six months between her surgery and the start of RAGBRAI, she managed to recover and received blessing from her doctor to do the ride. She finished it healthy and happy, a real fighter for what she wanted. Eileen is too modest to have written much about her experience, but you can find out more about Eileen and her business, Hana Herbs, by visiting www.hanaherbs.com .

Evy Schnee
I knew Evy as a kid as the trusted secretary of a family friend’s grocery distribution company in Sioux  City, Iowa. We most recently were re-introduced, sadly, at that very employer’s funeral about 13 months ago. At that time, Evy, at age 67, was planning a hike of a large segment of the Appalachian Trail (AT). The AT is a trail similar to the PCT in that it is a North/South trail, and goes from (nearly) border to border. But it’s otherwise quite a different trail. And for sure not any easier. There is always a certain understated yet strong camaraderie among hikers and when the subject came up between us, the conversation flowed. We since followed Evy best we could (as she didn’t publicly write a lot about her experience), but her story was, nonetheless, picked up by a few media outlets including her local paper and gym. You can read a bit about Evy’s hike by clicking here. She started the A.T. in Harpers Ferry, WV on May 10, 2015 and summitted Katahdin, ME on October 5, 2015. She did this mostly alone.

There are a slew of other inspiring people we have met or who have reached out to us, too many to list here. But the list includes, Alyssa Pension and Sara FryWe wish them all well.

Lynn

Horseshoe Meadows to Taboose Pass

Horseshoe Meadows to Taboose Pass

8/27/15 – 9/5/15
55 miles
Northbound
Mileage driven 590

Change in Plans

This is part three from our last hike. We just finished a keep-in-shape hike on the Trans-Catalina Trail so stay tuned…

We knew Horseshoe Meadow (HSM) to Mammoth would be hard; our longest trip in both miles and number of days. We were looking forward to this segment. We expected the beauty of this section to overshadow the work to get there. In the end, it was the smoke from the Rough Fire (discussed in a prior post) that overshadowed it all.

We prepared to leave Thursday September 27th. Our final pack weight was 28% of our body weights. We were required by the park to carry bear vaults to ward off unwelcome visitors. The vaults alone add a lot of weight! We had one regular sized vault which Lynn carried and purchased a half-size vault that I carried. We had 12 days of food packed in,tight.

IMG_3567IMG_3535After a long drive and long visit with the ranger to get our permits, we made it to Horse Shoe Meadow around 5:15. We hiked three miles into Cottonwood Pass in about two hours before it was dark. Lynn struggled with altitude adjustment. As purists, we should have hiked south to Trail Pass, where we started the last time. But we wanted to pack on miles. We traded those five miles that it would have been to head south to pick up the trail at the Trail Pass cut-off, with five miles it took to take the north cut-off to the PCT from HSM. So it all balanced out. I also gave up being a purist.

Lynn was still struggling the next day adjusting to the altitude and finding himself winded. My mantra for the day was “Just breathe.”

Approaching the section where the John Muir Trail (JMT) meets the PCT, we met a lot of hikers, mostly south bounders. Quite a few of the hikers were finishing the trail, or heading towards Mount Whitney, or both. When we normally hike, we see less than a handful of hikers. We also saw more wildlife than usual. We saw three deer that day, to start.

IMG_3551IMG_3576We hiked 10.7 PCT miles for the day, plus one to get onto the trail. We felt pretty good since we were out-of-practice hikers. At Chicken Spring Lake we had lunch and filled up with water. So far, water was not an issue. But we were not able to completely let go of the need to carry excess water. That night we camped out at Rock Creek. From Rock Creek on through the hike, we found campsites near a creek and with a bear box. Made me wonder why I had to carry a bear vault but I know it’s for safety. The nicest thing about sleeping next to a creek is the sound of water flowing as you drift off to sleep. Better than a Tylenol PM.

IMG_3589On Saturday, we covered 10 miles in 10 ½ hours. I noticed I didn’t have to think about what I was doing in packing up. “Second nature” was my mantra for this day. The path turned to a nice dirt trail. Redwood trees and mountain scenes everywhere. It was gorgeous. At Crabtree Meadow we watched a doe and her fawn. This is the point where the two trails meet.

IMG_2038There were a lot of guided tours on the trail. One young, very energetic guy, asked us to encourage the others down the trail. I thought he meant just the next hiker. So, we cheered the exhausted woman that trailed behind several hundred yards. “You can do it! Go, go, go!” It wasn’t until we stopped to talk to another guy – after ten more hikers passed, who all looked miserable – did we find out it was a guided tour. He was bringing up the rear and had a guitar on his back. That young energetic guy up front was leading the group. This guitar-playing hiker had to stop because he was waiting for the last hiker. She was an older woman who did not have a lot of experience. She was “really slow but steady” according the guide. But she had a big smile on her face as she passed by and the guide moved on with her.

IMG_2032More deer, more hikers and we met a ranger on the trail. I know that sounds odd, but we rarely see rangers on the trail. In over 700 miles, I recall only seeing one ranger, near Mt. Jacinto, leading a small group tour.

We did run into one southbound PCT thru-hiker, Iceman. It was nice having a different kind of conversation with him.

Sunday, we got an early start. Only the trail, or some life-threatening crisis will get this night owl up. There were more deer. We started seeing yellow bellied Marmots. Marmots seemed to love attention and posed for us as we snapped plenty of pictures.

IMG_2099We met up with another ranger. While checking our permits (we were shocked we were asked for our permits, but the JMT is so heavily traveled that it’s monitored unlike the PCT), the ranger asked if we had enough food. We told her we thought we likely brought too much. She then said, although we weren’t suppose to do this, if we left extra food in the bear can at Tyndall Creek, she would take it to the station for other hikers who on occasion show up low on food. We were so thrilled to hear that.

At Tyndall Creek we had lunch and filled up. With signs of water everywhere, I was finally able to convince Lynn he didn’t need to carry 11-pounds of water. We were good with 1-2 liters. At this point, we finally learned to stop at a stream for lunch and dinner so we didn’t need to carry the extra water weight. Habits from our last hike from the fear of not finding water, really stuck for awhile.

By this time, another hiker, Molly, came up and talked with us. She was doing the JMT with her sister, Claire, and cousin Katie. They were very inexperienced. But had done a lot of homework and local hikes near their homes. They also were told by “some professional” they should follow the Knowles pantry method for food. This method recommends you carry 1½-pounds of food per person per day. They had one resupply planned at Independence off Kearsarge Pass, but had started the hike with over 50-pounds on her back. She showed me a recipe book she was carrying. Clearly, they had too much food. I told her what the ranger offered and suggested to do this quick before the ranger got here. Concurrently, Lynn was enjoying one of his Jolly Ranchers. Molly’s eyes lit up so Lynn gave her a handful. She went down and came up, with her sister and cousin, right as the ranger was approaching. Talk about timing for her. She had a large bag of flour, milk, oatmeal and tvp. I bet she had at least 5-pounds of food she gave away. Funny story about Katie: She was napping while Molly was speaking with Claire and could hear Molly talking but not what she was saying. That is, until she said “Jolly Rancher.” She shot straight up and exclaimed, “You have Jolly Ranchers?”

Unfortunately there was too much smoke from the Rough Fire to go on and the rest of our day was spent at Tyndall. The ranger recommended we start early in the morning to beat the smoke. The next day, Forester Pass was on our agenda so we took her advice and started early again.

We ran into a few more hikers. We asked about the girls. We were a little worried about them, in a big sister/brother kind of way. They left camp about 10-15 min before us but we thought we would catch up to them. Each hiker we asked noted how unprepared they seemed. But it was a good natured kind of rib.

IMG_3623The next pass to tackle was Glen Pass. At Forester, hikers told us that Glen Pass was harder than Forester. To which I would reply, “Don’t harsh my mellow!” I don’t know if Glen Pass was any tougher, but I think whoever named it after Glen must have hated him. It was brutal. ALL ROCKS. It seemed like it was taking forever to get there and indeed it took nearly six hours for us to get to the top. However, the view on the other side, away from the rock quarry, was even more beautiful than Forester. Below us was a pristine blue, Rae Lake.

IMG_2191More wildlife to see. There was a bird that looked like a jay but sounded like a crow. I found these birds fascinating. They were too quick for me to take a picture. I saw one fly off with prey in its mouth. I found out they are Clarke Nutcrackers.

IMG_2044At Baxter Pass I took my first spill in a stream. Lynn thought he saw a ring in the water. He struggled to reach it so I offered and promptly slipped on a rock. I was soaked knees to my toes. It did look like it could be a simple engagement ring. Turns out it was a mini wine cork ring. So worth the effort!

Our next pass was Pinchot Pass. This pass was much nicer to climb. Still hard but nicer. We saw pikas. These animals, like the Nutcrackers, were too fast for a photo-op.

By this time, the smoke was on us all day. Lynn had a headache. I was nauseous. We knew it was just time to call it. We were incredibly fortunate to meet Eliot, a park employee working to save a frog. He not only informed us of a rarely mentioned trail to get off trail. It was a short distance from where we would camp that night, and lets out at Independence

It took 2 days to get all that smoke off. Overall the JMT was pretty, had a lot of hikers, and a lot more trash than we normally see on the PCT, sadly. But there was wildlife which we rarely see.

The final count:
20 deer (3 bucks and 6 fawn)
Chipmunks, pikas, clarke nutcrackers,
3 horses, one mule
10 marmots
3 rangers
153 hikers.

Patti