PCT Completion Hike – Days 12 to 30

Checking in after completing our first 400-plus miles of our PCT completion hike. We have now been on trail for 30 days and are well more than half done with the entire trail. Our latest adventures took us from Sierra City, where we last left word, to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. We have lots of stories, have learned a lot of lessons and have posted a lot of pictures on Instagram, too.

Now that we are a month into this, we are starting to see some of the differences between how we used to hike sections and how we are now hiking the remainder of the trail in its entirety. Planning is simplified to some degree. We no longer have to figure out transportation to each trailhead for each segment, for instance. But it’s more complicated in other ways, such as having a viable and successful resupply plan. There are other considerations, too. Being out on trail for an entire month has brought new dynamics to the hike. It’s no longer a mere physical task, though it is still that, for sure. But I’m finding the hike now just as much mental as physical. So, this brings in new dimension, as well. Patti mentioned the other day how she wakes up each morning and at first a thought sweeps over her about how hard this hike is. Soon enough, that fades and the wonder of the day takes over. For me, I find myself thinking about the hugeness of the world around me, and seem to seek a space in it where I make sense of what that means.

We are still decoding our new normal, trying to figure out what works, what doesn’t and how things might work better. We look for efficiencies everyday and we continue to dial in what works best for us. We continue to struggle getting our daily mileage over 15-miles. We have done many days over that figure, just not consistently. In order to match our goal to be done with the hike by September 15, we see each day at least a small part of that probability diminish.

We had a string of equipment breakdowns. Much of our gear is old or just not doing what we need. So, we have spent the last couple of days researching, finding and acquiring new gear as needed. This includes new shoes for both of us, a new pack for Lynn, a new water filtration system, new rain poncho for Patti. These items all either completely gave out on this latest outing, or wore out after normal use. We also needed to call for a replacement tent as the brand-new one we used only for 40 days or so, started breaking at the poles and screen. It was very stressful while on trail seeing each of these items break over a period of just a few days. Still more than 70 miles out from any stopping point, we could do nothing but rely on duct tape and employ a world of patience until we could take care of these problems once off trail.

Another major issue we are working to resolve is our weight loss. Patti has lost 8-pounds and I have lost 14. According to a calorie-burn calculator I found online Patti and I are likely burning around 5000 calories per day of hiking, well more than we can take in. So, we are constantly fighting weight loss and keeping up our energy. To this end, we are looking for better and more calorie-filled foods along with rich proteins. As an example, Cliff Bar Protein Builder bars carry 400-plus calories. Compared to the Nature Valley brand bars we were using, we more than doubled the calorie counts for our breakfasts by making this one change alone.

As we headed south on the trail, we saw and met many of this year’s thru-hikers. At first, we saw what one hiker described as the “elite” – those that hiked the Sierra Nevada Mountains as they approached it. We also met many people who jumped ahead of the Sierra Nevada and bounced back to the Sierra once the snow had mostly melted. Then, we started seeing hikers who started later in the season, finished the Sierra but did so only after the winter season had all but ended. Either way, Patti and I both hold a lot of respect for thru-hikers, no matter how they do it. It’s a great accomplishment ether way.

About Pace

Patti is 5’1”. I’m 5’11”. We did some testing (we have plenty of time :)) and found that for every 100 strides I make, Patti has to make 140 strides to cover the same distance, a remarkable difference. This has led to a lot of our time on trail spent separately. No matter how I try to modify my pace to match Patti’s, I gain speed over time and end up well ahead of her. If Patti tries to keep pace with me, she wears out and then falls behind, then, too. She does carry more endurance though and can hike beyond my stopping point. We are still working on how to make things work but right now we spend a lot of our time on trail hiking alone.

We will continue updating our progress as we are able. We don’t often have service. But when we do, I’ll update our progress.

As always, thanks for following along. Pictures on Instagram

Lynn Shapiro




Weekly Photo Challenge – Repurpose


It was with mixed emotions when we walked through Tehachapi back in March 2015. The windmills scarred the mountains sides.

Yet those eyesores do serve us with valuable electricity we need. There is plenty of wind out there. And it makes sense to use it to our advantage.

…Sometimes it’s hard being an environmentalist.

Gobbler’s Knob to Deep Creek Bridge

11/14 – 11/18/13
58 miles
Mileage driven 265

Poodle Dog Paranoia, Lost Hats,

Uninspired Graffiti & Naked People

I approached this hike with a bit of trepidation. Since she had just finished her last round of chemo, I was a little concerned about Patti’s endurance. We had mapped out a 70-mile route but, at the last bit of the planning stage, I insisted we back off and do only 60-miles. Other reasons for my caution were the forecast that called for 20 to 30-degree nights, and my concern over carrying the necessary water to get through some dry sections.

All of those concerns, and any others not mentioned, proved to be unnecessary. We both felt great physically and emotionally. The weather held out and the cold was not as bad as we feared. In the end we had likely our best and most rewarding segment yet.

We started with a hike-in to the trail head, south of, but near Gobbler’s Knob, on Lyttle Creek Road. Anita, our sister-in-law and chauffeur for the day, was generous enough to pick us up at Splinter’s Cabin to the south at Lake Arrowhead, and dropped us off about 2/3rds of a mile in from the highway and about two miles away from the trail head.

Lytle Creek Road

The plan was to complete 58-miles in six days. We managed to complete the entire section in just five days. The route was quite easy, relative to some earlier sections. We started at 8300 feet descending to altitudes ranging between 3000-4000 feet. Shifts were gradual and easy.

We read in advance about Poodle Dog Bush, a poisonous plant which seeds are activated by fire. The 2009 Station Fire created this year’s high risk conditions in this segment. Concentrations of the bush were reported right on the trail. The seeds lay dormant deep inside the soil and then when it feels the heat of fire, it replants and pushes up Poodle Dog.  This is a southern California phenomenon and is largely rare without proper conditions. It just happened that we did see some Poodle Dog when we first got on the trail that lasted about two miles. We were prepared to avoid it by having gloves and by covering everything up. We added hydrocortisone cream to our first aid kit, just in case.

One real bummer on this trip turned into a bit of irony and fun in the end. I noticed as we got to the trail start that my hat wasn’t on my head. I was certain it was gone for good because I recalled putting it on right before helping Patti get her pack on and that’s the last I knew of it. Then, the next day, I see Patti searching through all her stuff and mumbling about a hat. Turns out her “Tis Herself” green hat with the shamrock was nowhere to be found. At least Patti now has hair to cover her head. More than I can say. I was a little concerned about sunburn. Luckily, I had my bandana and wore it like a survivor buff. It worked well. Patti said it made me look bad ass. I think the picture below proves it to be more like: Bad – an ass.

Bad Ass

The missing hat, in case you're looking for it.

The missing hat, in case you’re looking for it.

Anyway, turns out my hat spent the week in Anita’s back seat and I will be getting it back. Patti’s Irish luck is missing along with her hat. Hopefully, someone will find it and enjoy it.


We felt like true members of the PCT hiking community when we stopped and ate at thru-hiker milestone, McDonald’s at Cajon Pass. While we aren’t thru-hikers the food and the “McCafe” coffee was somehow oddly delicious. We think they made it all special just for us.

At McDonalds

We lucked out with the weather. We knew to expect cold nights. That did happen, though not as low as we feared. On the second day, it looked like we might be getting some rain. However, we hiked out of the cloudy conditions and the day ended with sun overhead.

Clouds breaking

Setting Sun

We noticed graffiti through much of the 58-mile stretch. It seemed to us that it was done mostly by one tagger but we couldn’t be sure. It was annoying. We also found a little bit of trash and a few cigarette butts. We haven’t seen a lot of this on any of the trail since we began in Campo. We were a little surprised and disappointed. Other than that, however, the trail all the way was in excellent condition.


Seriously, is this what we want to see?

On our fourth day, we looked forward to Deep Creek Hot Springs. When we first approached the area we were “greeted” with a “boo!” There stood a 60’s-something, velour robe-wearing, barefoot, drunk guy who, we could tell, decided on his own that he was the Patriarch of the Pools. He did surprise Patti. He cracked himself up when he admitted he had never done that before. The seriously disturbing problem was that we also read this is a clothing-optional gig and that what was under the velour was likely no underwear. I was grateful for “Robe’s”  fatherly guidance when he mentioned the Rangers only swing around in their helicopter once a night and that they usually leave “us” alone as he pointed out other cowboy campers in the area. It kind of looked like a homeless encampment. He also showed us the water source and the pools. The place was kind of hippy. Those there wanted to be away. One naked guy jumped into the pool of hot water and said his trail name was Raithe. Patti asked about that and he said he wasn’t afraid of shadows. Neither of us knew what that meant but we went with it. I was thinking if only he knew Patti’s trail name is Glow in the Dark.

We previously ended a hike at Lake Arrowhead where the Deep Creek Bridge carries the PCT through the region just east of the lake. By starting this section from the north near Gobbler’s Knob and connecting the dots to Lake Arrowhead, we have now completed the entire distance from Campo to Gobbler’s Knob, 356 miles in total, minus just 27-miles closed currently due to the recent Mountain Fire. We’ll have to finish that small portion near Palm Springs, sometime later.

A brief update on our use of technology: We replaced our solar recharger with a new GoalZero system. Patti is not convinced that it worked well. But I believe it will work perfectly once we get better at using it. We’ll report more as we learn.

Silverwood Lake

Silverwood Lake



There’s an App for That

Notes on how technology makes our hikes possible

It’s hard for us to imagine how we would make it through a hike without the technologies we use when both preparing and actually hiking the trail. I was recently mentioning to someone that we were planning out our next hike and was asked, what’s to plan, just go… But the fact is, we do spend a considerable amount of time planning out each hike. And we use a lot of technology when we do so.

Perhaps the most valuable planning aid is the internet. There are vast resources that help guide novices like us. And of course there is plenty of technical data available for the pros. Maps of the trails are critical. We found a great resource, Half-Mile’s Pacific Crest Trail Map, that lists amazing details of the trail. It’s published in sections, can be downloaded for free in PDF form and can be a stand-along answer to all map needs for the PCT. It lists landmarks, on- and off-trail campsites, sources of water and warnings of all sorts. The Half-Mile maps are indispensable when we plan our hikes.

Half-Mile also integrates nicely with our phones. The app called PCTHYOH (we found our free copy in the Apple App Store) gives full access to each of the maps Half-Mile publishes and further integrates with the on-board GPS in the phone.

Speaking of phones, it is not amazing that a little device like a smartphone can do all the things it does? Besides the obvious chores it does for us, we also ask it to wake us up at a specific time, it can store all our contacts and other information, and make all that available at incredible speed and convenience. We have several apps on our phones that help us on the trail. If necessary, we can find ourselves on the trail using Apple’s Maps App through its GPS capabilities. There is something comforting out there, looking at my phone and knowing that I am that pinpoint on that map going in the right direction and on the right path. Another excellent map app is PCT SoCal which dials into the PCT specifically, and gives details on the few things that Half-Mile omits. What did they do 25 years ago?

All this technology takes a bit of power so we recently purchased a solar powered re-charger set that works reasonably well. It takes about five hours of constant solar exposure to recharge and it more or less doubles the length of time we have power for our devices. Of course, that is for each device, one charge for one device. We rotate hoping to keep both phones online.

More obvious advantages we have gained from technology are less gizmos but more invention, in a way. Synthetic underwear that repels moisture, special cushioned socks and sophisticated design in hiking boots, shock-absorbing hiking poles, and our CamelBak water-toting and drinking system, and the backpacks that have been designed to carry them in fitted compartments, all make hiking today much easier than it must have been just a few years ago.

With these technologies, we do without some of the things most would consider absolutely necessary. We do not carry a compass, for instance. We also do not carry a watch. No big folded-up maps. We have been keeping pedometer-readings but don’t need a pedometer. We have an app for that. It even gives us calories-burn information, like we need that!

We both look forward to our next hike, likely a trek north of Warner Springs. That is our furthest point north on the trail. The bit left for us to complete going south is just getting too hot to do this time of year. In fact, just today, a news report came out that a young woman hiker died of heat exposure while hiking. She was hiking in San Diego County on a trail east of the PCT further into the desert. This news brings a certain re-awakening that our hikes carry risks. Not that we needed a reminder.