Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pct 7 - Mojave Desert: Snow, Wind and Rain

Pct 7 - Mojave Desert: Snow, Wind and Rain

Hikertown - MP 518

For months before the trail, thoughts of the southern Californian desert brought to mind the 110 degree heat along the 20 mile waterless roadwalk. My plans were to night hike the section, while hunkering down under bridges during the day. It was my way to beat the heat.

Well, mother nature beat us to the punch. Snow, Rain and winds is what has greeted us. Even thought it dusted snow on us in the Mojave Desert last night with 30 degree temps, our spirit is high. The irony has brought a second bloom to the desert high-country as we make our final push towards the Sierras.

Through the last few days since the Saufley's we stayed at the Anderson's. This oasis also know as Casa de Luna was filled with music, hugh taco salads, free beer, and lively people. The Andersons are the opposites to the Saufley's in a great way. They call there setup with the hikers who drop by every night as they head north, "Hippy Daycare". After two days of holding oit of the storms that were creating tornados in the Mojave, we made a break out of the comfort of the Oasis. White snow greeted us...

Along the Lenora Divide parelleling the Mojave is a stand of Black Oak that is like a great expansive park. With their sheltering baughs reaching out over the trail, the wind and weather passed over head. The special groves that they hold are ones that seem to hold almost a magical feel. For 30 miles, these forest grow and soon the trail will follow them all the way around the Tehachapi Mtns. But for now we gain a taste of thier groves and descend to the cold Mojave floor. Tonight we will walk the aqueduct while looking above to the best views of the Milkey Way. One without the lights of the city. The trail goes on and the natural world always seems to inspire and amazed us forward.


PCT 6 - San Gabriels, Trail Angels and the Saufley's

Subject: PCT 6 - San Gabriels, Trail Angels and the Saufley's

The echo of water runs through the pines and Douglas Fir of the Gabriel groves. We pass high above the divide between the desert and the ciyt. To the North the great Mojave extending out towards the first hills of the Sierras, Mt Whitney on the far horizon. TO the South the great mass of LA sprawls below, with the lights at night to send the imagination reaching for some future scifi movie. Yet we walk along a line of high mountains. Towering above both. Here in the Alpine forests and meadows, following the trail of silver moccasins, there is time to find the rhythms of the trail. Snow Plant brighten each pondo with a red glow as the poke out of the forest floor. Following the march of foot prints, all going forward to Agua Dulce. Along the way climbing to the tops of Mt Baden-Powell, a tribute to scoutings founder.

After the desert heat, to walk the forests, is to be in heaven.I once told Jake while walking the high forests of the North Cascades, that if  I died on the trail, I would know that when I came to the trailhead there would only be a resupply and more trail before me. For me I would skip the white clouded utopia, just to walk the Mountains and Rivers without end. Somehow here, the taste of things to come seem refreshing. *:o) The glimpse of the High Sierras warms Line and my heart with anticipation. Yet the Mojave still beacons.

There area a few people that have helped us along the way that should be told about. First Meadow Marry and Gorden. There are  road crossings with the trail, and it seems one of the two are always there, sporting water, fruit and gateraid to wary travelers. Meadow Mary, wife of Hiker Billy Goat, follows the hikers north to her home just south of Ebbits Pass. Her words of encouragement and pad and paper of names seems to keep hikers on the trail, hiking along. The second is Gorden, and old hiker that now supports others along their way. He spent years supporting his sister along the triple crown (PCT, CDT and AT) who was blind and diabetic. To here Gordan's stories about determination, puts us in our place on hotd ays, and gives us the courage and inspiration to push on.

Finally, here in Agua Dulce is the Saufleys. L-Rod (Donna) and Buzz Saw (Jeff) have the hospitality that goes unmatched. I was here in 2006 and spent 2 days, and here we stay for 3 while 35 other hikers come in out of the heat to enjoy a relaxing few days after a month of hiking. IT is incredible to meet such compassionate people, and their dedication goes well noticed and appreciated. We will leave today from heaven to head back into the Oak Groves towards the Mojave. Thanks to L-Rod and Buzzsaw, we leave enthusiastic about the hike...

Hiking hiking we go, to the north towards our home,
-- Ridgewalker

PCT Fotos so far

PCT 5 - San Bernidino & Deep Creek

Subject: PCT 5 - San Bernidino & Deep Creek

It was like a spot out of a movie, a paradise amid the desert hills. There was a cool stream flowing down the white granite canyon walls, sandy beach, and palm trees rusing above the hotspring pools. The previous day we had walked a dusty road through the blacken remains of the Butler Fire from Nov of 2007. On one side of the road, the Ponderosa stands were still green and rich, while the south side the blacken remians of Incense Cedars, and Pondos remained. Yet once we reached the cooling sides of Deep Creek it was a magical walk. We decided to take a Zero day at deep creek and meet the locals. There were all sorts of characters that Saturday, and it seemed like the stories flowed from each as to the land that surrounded. Most knew about the trail, and the pack of people (79 strong) had just moved through the night before. But now it was just locals...
Deep Creek was a special place in the San Bernidino Mountains. Part of the Transverse Range that we would be traveling through for the next week. Echos of Jacinto still in our thoughts, we look forward to the Gabrials that were coming up. To any that never though that So Cal had mountains of interest, the 10,000 foot mountains reminded us, that it was indeed a special place. Yet fire, is very present in this region, and after a day at Cajon Pass, we saw the starts of another fire on San Antonio Peak. This one started by a lone campfire in the winds... My feelings grown more and more to (No Campfires in the Wilderness) as I see these blazes and their effects. Yesterday it grew as we ascended towards Wrightwood, and it's power was awesume. Luckly the fire was away from the trail, and we still enjoyed the snowfields that lined the trail we ascended.
The people along the trail are a special breed. All of them seem kind and willing to help. Last night we stayed in a Ski Cabin at Mountain High Resort for free, enjoying a home cooked meal and showers. Meadow Mary helped us with the ride, and seems to keep track of us as we move along the trail. Soon we will be in Auga Dulce and in the kindness of the Saufley. I fear what will happen as the trail numbers grown. Now it is 450 hiking this year, it was 290 in 2006, and the populatrity seems to grown. The compassion of those in towns all extending their welcome is great. I hope that it remains there as more people hike the trail...
Well, back into the forests...
Hope everyone is enjoying theirs,
"We follow Mountains and Rivers without end, it is our home..."  Gary Snyder
-- Ridgewalker

Pct 4 - Ascending Mission Creek

Pct 4 - Ascending Mission Creek

Visions of oaks fill my memories as I walk up Mission Creek from the
desert floor. The 8000 ft ascent out of the Colorado desert into the
pine forest of the San Gorgornio Wilderness is a long one, crossing
all the ecological zones of the mountains of so cal and three major
faults of the great San Andreas. We marvel in the deep narrows at
tortured granite gniess, twisted in circles and resisting change. A
sharp contrast to the open fields of the canyon the give much needed
shade and water. I know Jake would send hours just trying to figure
out this complex geology here, as I feel myself wanting to do. Yet of
is the biology that strikes me the most.

On my last hike through this long canyon, I caught myself amazed my
the mix of oak, mamzanita, and joshua trees extending up the canyon.
Each holding thier corner of the canyon to the water that flowed down
from snowy heights on Gorgornio. But since then a fire raged through
the groves leaving only a few untouched near the narrows.

Black and white highlights the remains of these plants, but with all
things of nature fire leads to rebirth. Almost as a recent reminder of
the fire still burning on Jacinto, the rebirth had an unexpected
beauty. All the land of this desert canyon was radiating with fields
of vivid purple and gold. For at the base of each tree remains was a
bloom of purple cantebury bells. The were as big as each finger and as
alive as the hummingbirds and sphynix moths that hovered about them.
Among these flowers, the shoots of new trees grew. Here the forces of
life over fire showing through.

The rest of the climb brought us up to the company of grand vanilla
smelling Pondos and Oak groves. By the end of the day we were throwing
snowballs back and forth and sauntering through the ancients. Back in
the forest again...


Sent from my iPod

PCT 3 - Fire on the Mountain

PCT 3 - Fire on the Mountain

There is a grove on the mountain that reminds me of home. Hidden in
the desert high mountains of San Jacinto, is a tucked away stand of
old growth Cedar, complete with two watching black ravens. We stayed
there overmost of the day as hiker after hiker ran down the hill to
get water from the clear springs. Each looking around and the moving
along to get to Idyllwild and town comforts. Slowly we packed upand
left our forest haven.

Back on the desert ridgeline and in the high gustsof wind flowing over
the 7000+ foot divide, we moved quickly along the crest. Just out of
Forbes Saddle I saw a rise of smoke on the horizon. Realizing it was
not a good sign , Line and I moved quickly towards it's source, Apache
Springs. It was around 4 pm and we had planned tp campat that springs
for water. But by the timewe reached Spintster Saddle the whole peak
was ablaze in an inferno. We just seemed to be drawn closer.

The power of fire over life isalong known force. Ecologists know it
for it's regenerative forces. Fires like this clear the land and break
open seeds. For the pyro there is an alureto the brillance of the
orange flames, carrying in it a beauty of creation and destruction at
the same time. To a chemist, the orange red flames mask the many Redox
reactions that bring electrons from their high excited state in Oxygen
to a lower Carbon Dioxide state. But for me at that moment I saw the
groves of pines burning away.

As the helicoters and tankers buzzed us from above we moved back down
the trail towards Forbes Saddle. High winds making the travel
difficult along the ridgeline. But truely of was the constant looking
back over shoulders to watch a 5 acre fire grow in intensity to a 300+
fire. We meet three more hikers and made it down off the ridgeline by
7 pm with just the glow of the flames behind us. By morning most of
the Pct in that area had burned. Yet luckly, the winds had turned away
from the direction of Cedar Springs. The spirit of the mountain was

Now, hikers wander around Idyllwild debating their next move. Many
will move on like us. Others will stay to be pure and follow the
trails full course. There are many more miles of beatiful groves yet
to see, and the trail still lives in my memories. But for now just
enjoy the shelter of the pines of Idyllwild.


Sent from my iPod

PCT 2 - Chihuahua Mike's Desert Bungalo

PCT 2 - Chihuahua Mike's Desert Bungalo

We had been walking through the desert scrub of Anza-Borrego most of
the day. Temperature had been high most of the day but the climb had
been beautiful. In the sky, the gliders soared above our heads as we
made our way north. Just past a basin that I had called Weathertop in
2006, due to it's look from Tolkins description, we came upon
Chihuahua Rd.

There was supposed to be a water cashe maintained by a weekend desert
rat that live around the bend. As we came upon the road there was a
rock that had the words, " Water, Rest, and Shade 1/4 mi." inclined to
get out of the Anza heat, we started to walk the road.

There as we turned the corner was a house with a long porch over
looking the Santa Rosa Mtn, with the sounds of old time western music
coming from it. The place looked like an inviting oasis.

We walked down the road and entered the gate. There kicking back
watching his nephaue practice archery, was two men in reclining
chairs. One of them introduced himself as Mike and invited us to stay
for dinner and some water. He pointed to a back porch of the house
where there was everything a hiker could need from cold beer and chips
to water and much need insoles for Line. We kicked off our shoes and
pulled up a chair, where Todd who we had been hiking with already was.

After about an hour of resting and conversation, Mike kicked up the
grill and we had a huge dinner with his family on the patio watching
the sunset blaze the sky. All of the foods of the 4 major meat groups
were there. Ribeye, BBQ chicken, tritip and pulled pork. Line had
mysteriously told me that day that she was craving milk for Idyllwild
and now it appeared.

We spent most of the evening talking and making out stars in the open
skies. To the north the light show of the Cohella music Fest beamed
away at the night sky and Mike Responded with a couple of million
candle power lights. All solar powered.

In the end it was great to find this desert oasis with the trail angel
Mike. It reminds one of the goodness of strangers at times. Hats off
to you... We left in the morning to the sounds of an old western
song..... Water....


Sent from my iPod

PCT 1 -- Tramping thru the Borderlands

MP 110 - Warner Springs Ranch

First hundred miles, and more to come! The land has been beautiful the last couple of days. Opening up with a trail of meadows, desert cactus, and groves of oaks. My memories of the last hike thru this dry borderlands was a stark difference from this year. We were greeted by miles of desert bloom in every color imaginable. The variation of each plants was incredible, with at least 4 different types of Bush Poppies gracing the resent into Chariot Canyon.

Our trip began with a ride to the border by Girl Scout in the dawn hour. Weaving in and out of the dark desert canyons, we arrive at the border fences along that dusty trail. Soon after a few pictures we are down the trail heading towards our first night at Lake Monera, 20 miles away. We blasted out most of the miles that morning and them relaxed besides Hauser Creek before pushing on.

From there the trail follows the Cottonwoods and Oak pastures to Boulder Oaks campground before rising up to Mount Laguna. The views of a trail winding it's way through large out-stretched oaks giving shade to the grass fields below, gave the feel of Tolkien's description of the Shire. I could almost imagine rounding the corner to see Frodo reading below these resting baughs.

The land changes as you ascend out of the low border towards the high plateau of Laguna. Following the creek canyons, changing from the desert side to the forest side the views were unending. The mountains rise in a grand enscarpment here. The tale of San Andreas is written
in the geology. Far below, the scorching Colorado Desert, parching all that try and water it comes into view. A beautiful barren scape that run the imagination wild with western tales of a bandits haven, were the law fears to treed. Yet we walk the edge to Laguna sheltered by the passing cool breeze, and water at each bend.

Over the next two days we walk the Rim, following in and outpf views unending. We meet up with other vagabonds following this northward trek. Captain Teacup, Hotshot, Issac, Julian and Rockstar finding company in the evening as we shelter from the evening winds. Places
like Pioneer Mail, Lucky 5, and Oriflame pass by. The bloom lay before us getting only better. And after two days we come to a camp of 10 other hikers all watching the nights sky at Rodreigez Watertank. Below the sunsets on the next landscape one I remember well, San Felipe and the Anza Desert of Scissors Crossing far below.

We set off at 4 am, in hopes of getting a jump on the day. Third Gate Cashe is a hot dry 22 miles away, and my last encounter with this stretched left memories that still feel as if it werejust yesterday. The moon blazes the desert landscape, with cactus and scrub in the dark. Yet somewhere in the first mile out I dropped my camera. After two hours of searching I find it only after giving up. With time wasted, we continue to the bottom. The days heat never shows up, as the winds blow my dread away with the cooling breeze. And colors of viberent Pinks, yellows and green blossems fill my day dreams. A wet cool year has brought out the Barrel, Ocittieo, Prickly pear, and bear cactus in a grand symphony of color. Startling life to a stark land, brings a quickens to our step as we hike further. At 10 miles into our day Scissors Crossing comes into view. A well stocked water cashe fills or supplies and we continue to ascend the hill. We follow the winding trail, in and out of gullies fighting the wind at every turn. But compared to the 110F heat of my last hike, the 80F heat seems like a gift. We leap frog Rockstar most of the day, catching up in the shade. Making it after 20 miles to 1st Gate Sandy Wash, we call it a

There a mockingbird finds us his newest curiosity and spends hours calling every sound he knows to hear our reply. It makes me wonder at times if he really wants the car alarm to reply to his mating calls, he gives all thru the night. In the morning Line and I make it to Third Gate and the to the grove at the mountain foot, Barrel Springs. There an encampment of hikers surround the water troght talking up the visions of luxury at Warner Springs. Biscuits and Gravy, the hotsprings pool, and a bed for the warry feet. Most leave early, but we decide to enjoy the evening.

The next day the trail passes thru the grand Montazuma Valley of green and gold. Poppies every were lure us to the resort paradise. And we complete our first leg. After letting the feet recover we will push to San Jacinto and the 10,000ft peak there with alpine flavor. This trip has treated us well, and Line takes the credit with a grin. We'll have to see just what tommorow brings.

-- Ridgewalker