The Bubble

Day 24

Mileage: 17.4

Total distance: 704.6

Camp tonight is at Kennedy Meadows Campground. There is a soft wind whispering in the trees and crickets chirping near the creek. The sky is turning to a dark blue and the moon is glowing brighter than the night before. My stomach is full of burger and Gatorade and I am oh so happy to be closing my eyes soon. 


I didn’t sleep very well last night. I woke up many times because of the wind and the cold temperatures. I was up high on a peak cowboy camping and freezing my ass off. It’s good to know I can handle it and survive, but I’m thinking I may want more warmth to be comfortable. I was in a cacoon when I poked my head through my bag to see that it was bright and sunny outside. It was 6:45 and I was still tired. I wanted to be in Kennedy meadows quickly so I got my things together in a hurry and started down the mountain. 


The first 6 miles were easy going and smooth in my descent off the peak and then the trail spilled out into and open meadow at 6,000 feet of elevation. Black sage covered the earth and various pines were scattered around the valley. Essentially the meadow was a bowl and the trail worked its way around the eastern edge and eventually dropped down to the South Fork Kern River. I could hear the water from a mile away as it was rushing through a valley and a smile stayed on my face until I reached it. 


When I got to the river I met three guys who gave me a swig of Bacardi and I immersed myself in the icy waters. My socks turned the water brown and the drips of sweat from my face made the water do that thing when you pour oil in water and it gets all rainbow like. Probably the sunscreen. I cleaned my body and laid in the sun on a rock with sublime playing on a jam box close by. 


Finally I got my things together and made my way through the rest of the meadow in high spirits until I reached Sherman Pass to head toward Kennedy meadows. I walked into the general store and about 50 hikers applauded me upon my arrival. It’s a tradition supposedly. I smiled and raised my poles to the sky and bought an ice cold ipa to rest on the porch. 


I sat for a long time eating everything I owned with my feet up talking with a few hikers. One of which hiked the AT northbound the same year I went south. Super cool to talk the trail with her. There were hikers everywhere! We had taken over the general store and the smell was just incredible. There were hikers sleeping, drinking, eating, pooping, stretching, opening boxes, testing new gear and anything you’d imagine a hiker doing. I have caught the bubble! Some had been there for a week and some for only an hour. It was hilarious to sit there with a few hikers and watch all that was happening. I love the people who choose to thru-hike and find myself at home with the individuals I meet. So. Real. 


After a while a truck came and took about 15 of us to a restaurant to get burgers and I sat for a long time drinking a beer and attempting to upload pictures to Instagram, but the wifi was incredibly weak. I could hardly send a text. I sat for a long time trying to tell my family and Molly I’d be out of reach for the next few days and then devoured my burger before heading back to the general store where another 50ish hikers were living it up. 


As soon as we got back I grabbed my bag and started down the road to the trail. As I was leaving I turned around to snap a photo of all the hikers and all the memories that have been made at Kennedy Meadows general store. I was sad to leave. I wanted to stay and make friends, but I figured it was already 8 and most people would be sleeping soon and if not it would be a late night drinking and the morning would be difficult to do big miles. So I walked solo into the sunset down a single laned road and watched the glow of the sun sparkle the sage in the meadow. The Rays were blasting through the pines and forcing me to crinkle my face as I walked. 


That feeling of loneliness crept up on me during the two miles I hiked to the camp ground. The massive amount of people I was just surrounded by made me feel even more removed from any connection. Everyone was in a group or had a hiking partner and were paired up in circles laughing and drinking. I mean I didn’t like sit in a corner and wallow in solitude or anything. I talked to a lot of people, but it’s like that thing were less is more. Sometimes I think the more people the less potential for depth. I know that’s not always true and I’d hate to put a definite on something like that, but with all that was going on I knew I’d be walking to the trail alone and carrying on into the sierras without another person who I know and can rely on, but that’s a part of why I’m out here. There is a lot of room for independence to grow in my life and this trail has already made that happen and will only do so more as time goes on. I feel fueled by the joy all of the hikers shared and the laughs that I heard. The happiness they carry has spread to me without most of them even knowing it. There are a ton of more people to come and a lot more to experience and I’m overwhelmed with peace lying in my bag for another night under the stars thinking about the trail ahead and the desert behind me. 

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Four Peaks

Day 23

Mileage: 35.2
Tots distance: 687.2

Camp tonight is 8,000 feet on the last of the four climbs I had today. It is cold and getting colder by the minute as the heat from the sun drifts further and further away. There are incredible views of the sierras ahead of me including mount Whitney. There are a few other hikers scattered atop this hill and everyone has retreated to their tents for warmth and sleep. 


There was a gorgeous sunrise this morning just over walker pass and I couldn’t resist its call to wake up and get the day started. The normal routine ensued and by 6:45 I was off. I was slow moving for the first few hours climbing the first mountain, while I was searching for signal and brushing the soreness off my bones from the 40 mile day before. 


Eventually it wore off and I got moving up the mountain. I hadn’t looked at the profile of the day and thank God I didn’t because it would have been a discouraging view. As soon as I summited I went straight back down only to cut between two peaks and rise again to climb another. 


A few miles went by and I stopped for water at Spanish creek and found 15 hikers nestled in a camp spot eating, drinking and sleeping during the heat of the day. I spoke with a few and was complimented on my badass hat by a woman and left the crew to climb the third peak. 

I feel safe in assuming that when most people look at elevation profiles and see a downhill there is relief and motivation for an easy section of trail and I would mostly follow in that thinking until today. Every time I have gone down hill I feel my muscles cramp, my bones take a pounding and my gut get tossed around and whatever’s in there slosh back and forth. Then when I go uphill I get this rush of endorphins that make me want to keep going and I rarely stop until I’ve reached the top. I absolutely have fallen in love with the quickened pace of my heart, the drips of sweat down my nose and the heavy breath that makes me feel like an engine moving a train. 


I was done with my goal for the day around five and noticed there was another mountain to be climbed right after the creek I was at and I figured I might as weel get started on it tonight, but half way up there was no convincing my body to stop. The sun was dropping behind the summit and I wanted to chase it down. I wanted to stand at the top, 8,000 feet up and watch the sun sink below the horizon. I wanted to, for one last time today, push my body forward and work for a reward and a reward I was given. The golden crest of the ridges before me were illuminated by the setting sun and the sierras erupted out of the earth and stood like statues, frozen in time. Behind me purple was rising from the valley and hovering over the lesser mountains to the south. 


Laying in my bag I feel accomplished. I feel like I did exactly what I was supposed to do and found myself in sync with the world around me as if everything lined up and I experienced harmony in the wake of the universe. 

40 and a Quarter

Day 22

Mileage: 40


Total distance: 652

Camp tonight is at Walker Pass Campground with fifteen other hikers spread throughout the area. The wind is howling as the night begins and everyone has retired to their tents. 


I woke up in my new bug net this morning and felt so rested seeing that it was almost 7 am. I got my things together quickly and still trying to figure out the best way to am handle this damn bear can that takes up so much unnecessary room in my bag. I had planned on doing big miles, but wasn’t sure how far I would get starting after 7. 


Four miles in I got to the first water cache and filled up four liters in hopes of another cache fifteen miles away. I figured even if there wasn’t I would still be alright. Thank God there was one. 


The trail led me through the classic desert sand in a roller coaster fashion as I went up and down 4-5000 feet of elevation. Eventually I dropped down to a road twenty miles in and found the other cache. Hikers were hiding in the shade and fighting off killer bees that swarmed the water in search for their own hydration. I sat for a while and drank while my stomach began its cramping that would last the rest of the day. 


As soon as I left the cache I had a 2,000 foot climb up to 6,500 feet that was surprisingly easy with a low, steady grade and hard, compact dirt that allowed traction. With fifteen miles to go, my stomach was clenching inside my gut and I started to realize it was because I was well beyond dehydration. I had only had three liters in twenty miles in hopes to conserve my water during the 42 mile waterless stretch and it was now taking a toll on my body. I slowly sipped a liter. Then another. And by the third liter I was descending down the gorgeous hills headed towards Walker Pass. My stomach was still in rage, but I was going to finish my first 40 mile day and be exactly a quarter of the way to Canada. 

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When I got to the campground I found hikers sitting at a picnic table and eating bread with tomato paste that was left by a trail angel. I joined in the feast and got to talk to some guys about my day, which was exciting since I had such a gnarly day. One of the guys was from Holland and told me he was hiking because he has had a really bad life before starting and thought maybe this would help. I feel that he made a great decision. I hope hiking does for him what it’s done for me. 


I left my poor man pizza party to set up my cowboy spot for the night and go sit on a toilet for twenty minutes hoping my stomach chills out. After explosive diherrea and some more water it finally calmed down. I hope that is the end of my stomach cramps, but we will see what tomorrow has in store. 

Now it is time for sleep in the gusty wind under the sparkling sky to prepare for another day of walking into the Sierras. 

Finally!

Day 19 Mileage 12.4

Total distance: 566.4
Not much to say about today as of now. I’m currently hiding from the sun waiting to see Molly after hiking a chill 12 miles trough windmills. There has been a cool breeze all day and some clouds to keep off the sun. It’s so hard to hike when you know that soon you will be relaxing and resting so these past 12 miles have been so easy, but some of the hardest to stay motivated for. 


I woke up many times throughout the night and kept going back to sleep until 7. I had a frustrating poop and got on the trail. Four miles in I came up to an rv owned by Legend where two hikers sat handing out massive pancakes. So big I actually couldn’t finish one. Also I had just ate five minutes before at a river crossing and didn’t know the rv was there. I blew it. 


As much as I love the scenery today I kept thinking about all the windmills and their purposes and how much they do and got pretty critical of them and whoever put them there. I know it’s all going to la. Just like the water in the aqueduct and now these beautiful rolling, grassy hills have massive white metal spinning noisy machines stabbed into the earth all through the valley. Thousands of them. Anyways, I got over my criticism and just got excited to see Molly and spend the day resting and relaxing. 


This will be my last town before entering the Sierras and a much needed visit from Molly before starting the next section of trail. 

When the Sun Don’t Shine

Day 18

Mileage: 36.4
Total distance: 554

Camp tonight is on a ridge looking down a valley with some windmills behind me. They have this strange whooshing sound they are constantly making and I think it will be like white noise to help me sleep. Or I’ll think a plane is going overhead at all times. The moon is shining bright as a crescent tonight and the sunset was aboalutely spectacular. Everything was drenched in gold followed by pink. My skin looked alien and the plants around me were magical. A hawk flew over me just as I was about to set up to sleep to end a perfectly long day. 


I woke up at 4:45 to my alarm in a breezeway in one of the strange houses of hikertown. I considered going back to sleep and hiking the aqueduct in the heat, but then I saw the sunrise and was motivated to get out there. The sunrise expanded across the entire field before me and the brightest pinks were stretching across the sky. It was very special. 


The walk along the aqueduct was boring to say the least. Flat. Hot. Lonely. At one point early on my stomach started making weird sounds like bacon sizzling and I thought I was going to puke, but after 30 minutes it relaxes and I realized it was the excedrin I took on an empty stomach. A lot of hikers have been sick in this area and I did go into a borderline panic thinking about being stranded in the desert heat, vommiting and shitting everywhere. 


I go 18 miles done by 10:30 and knew I would need a nap today but decided to push on for 8 more miles to a creek where hopefully there would be shade and water. The hike there was gradually uphill on a hard dirt road and of course I got lost with all of the switching around those windmill roads do and got irritated yet again. Tons of sheep appeared out no where and I still have no idea why they were there. Sheep are hilarious creatures. 

I got to the water around 1:45 and there were tons of hikers hiding under shelters and sleeping or reading to wait out the heat for the 14 mile waterless stretch before us. Along with a 2,000 foot climb. I got my water and laid down a second to relax and that was all I remember. I must have passed out immediately, but an hour later I woke up and went back at it. 


The climb was brutal with soft sand that pulls you back and the heat was dominating the left side of my face. Sweat was dripping like it was raining on me and my calves were cramping up repeatedly. This was mile 30 for the day so I had already spent a lot of energy and climbing up that hill was a little too much, but magic came at the top where I met a man named Daniel who seems to be an old dead head wearing a John Lennon shirt and red tinted glasses. He had long grey, curly hair and a scruffy beard. Super sweet guy. He gave me a beer and some fruit and after some other hikers showed up I carried on to make it as far as I could before dark to get to Molly asap in the morning. 


The rest of the day was downhill and after seeing a million rabbits and some deer and a couple of hawks I was in wonderland when the sun went down. The temperature dropped and it felt like it did this morning and the colors were breath taking. These two times of the day are easily my favorite, but I have to say knowing that I’m about to sleep and not hike is much more exciting. 12 miles to my lady. So. Stoked. 

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Overlap

Day 17

Mileage: 25ish
Total distance: 517.6

I woke up this morning feeling like shit. I could not get up and did not want to move a muscle. My whole body was exhausted, but going back to sleep just wouldn’t work. Why is that? Heat? Brightness? Full bladder? Yea! That’s it!! I peed for almost five minutes hunched over like a broken man from how tired I was. 


It was 6:45 and I had 35 miles to do. I got my things together in a flash and set off. I got to go uphill at first and I thought that would pump my body up, but I could not shake the exhaustion. For three hours I fought and fought, but my body was not having it. 


Eventually after minor ups and downs of grade I reached a road 13 miles in that lead to Casa De Luna and a fire station. I read a sign that said the trail was closed due to a fire and I lost it. I actually verbally cussed out the trail and threw my water bottle at a tree. 


It’s just such a bummer to get motivated to do big miles and hike the trail and have to now miss almost 100 miles because of fires. I realized quickly it was no ones fault and I chilled out, but it still sucks. A couple hikers came over and told me there was an 18 mile road walk to get back to the trail and I chuckled at the disappointment I felt from everything. Exhaustion. Fire closure. Road walk. Damn. 


I ended up filling three liters of water and began walking up hill on a road with no shoulder for about three miles when a man in a huge maroon truck asked if I wanted a ride. Of course! 


He was a silly man with a big belly and a strange southern draw with a hint of New York to it. Very odd. He went on an on about workers comp and how pissed he was at the company he used to work for and at one point whispered to me, “you know I’m a millionaire?”  

“Oh, really?”

“Yup, 3.5 million. I fell off a building and it was the companies fault and, say, you ever seen that Erin movie?”

“Erin Brockovich?”

“Yeah, yeah! That was my lawyer?”

“No shit?” 

“Yup! Now you can tell you friends you met a millionaire!”

He was very proud of this and I commend him! Well done man. Well done. 


He dropped me off along with 5 other hikers who were attempting the 242424 challenge where you drink 24 beers in 24 hours while hiking 24 miles. A.K.A.- death from dehydration in the desert. Dumb, but I saluted them and went on my way. 

  • 13 hikers in one van. 

Road walks suck big ones. Hot black asphalt and hard pounding concrete under your feet for miles can tear your legs apart. By the time I reached hiker town I was limping on both legs and I could feel my feet melting from the sole. 


Everyone in hikertown seemed to be out of it. There were hikers everywhere passed out or hiding under small trees like quail cowering under a bush. It was depressing to say the least. I met the caretaker who is a creepy looking older man with bright hazel eyes and patchy hair. He was very kind, but very unorganized. I came to find that only one of my four boxes were here and I laid down depressed to try and rest before hiking ten miles away on the LA aqueduct. 


I ended up getting a ride into town with the owner of the place who is also a millionaire who owns Omstar productions and many other companies around LA County. His name was Vic and he was around 65 years old with a good belly on him that was covered by a blue polo and lifted by bleached blue jean pants. He was a very, very kind man and asked me if I wanted a bite of his burrito. I said no politely and ate a mediocre burger to pass the time. Vic took me back to hikertown where I sat for a long time drinking water and Pepsi before leaving to begin the 16 mile stretch of the Aqueduct. 

I was about to leave when I got a text from a friend who has been ahead of me saying he was in the same place I was and after a few clarifying texts we found each other in the belly of hikertown. I decided to stay the evening to hang out with him and his hiking partner and a bunch of other hikers. We all went into town to get food and beer and watch the Warriors lose horribly in the finals before returning to chill in what is called the “Saloon” in hikertown. On the ride there we had about 10 hikers crammed into a van and on he way back I got laughing with another hiker about eating a bag of chips and he confessed that he just ate a bag of pork rinds and feels fantastic. When we got back we sat around and talked about the trail and gear and were joined by a belligerent hiker who was very eager to speak and tell stories about his life and made things awkward for the most part, but his time spent was short lived. 
I am now in my fart sac on a hard wood surface rest to pass out for a long day tomorrow. I get to see Molly in two days and that has been my main motivation for the past week. It was nice to have an evening off and rest in good company. Now it’s time to sleep and dream of pizza and kambucha. 

Stuck In Heaven

Day 16

Mileage: 30
Total distance: 466.1

Camp tonight is in a valley leading towards a lake. The sun set almost directly down the valley and the most glorious golds were on display that slowly melted into bright pinks and purples. 


I hate downhills first thing in the morning. It’s the worst. My body is not awake and stumbling down a hill is not the way to wake it up. I prefer a subtle incline for a solid three miles and then I feel wonderful, but today that was not the case. It began with 8 miles downhill to the KOA in Acton and the entire time my left foot was pinching with pain and my stomach was getting rocked from the abrasive pounds on the hard surface of trail. After I quit whining things got great. 


I got to the KOA and realized they had nothing I wanted to so I went right back on the trail to get another ten miles to find Agua Dulce. At one point the trail takes you under an over pass with a long and small tunnel where kicking rocks sounds like a car wreck. I had a lot of fun making humming noises and wolf howls until I realized there was a hiker sitting at the end watching me. Dammit. I smiled embarrassingly as I passed and bolted down the trail. 

  • Vasquez Rocks. 

Once I was off the mountain and back on the desert floor the trail brought me through Vasquez Rocks, which is a place filled with various rock formations that had holes all throughout them. The Ravens loved this place. As I was walking through I heard a rumble in the bushes next to me and froze to see what it was. Something was pushing through the brush and just as I was about to panic a gorgeous grey fox came trotting out from behind the wall of shrubs. It spotted me immediately and we shared a stare for a moment before it retreated back into its haven. 


I ended up getting lost in the rocks and had to use my gps to get me back on trail. I was so frustrated and hot that I started running until I felt my quad clenching and took a minute to sit and breathe off my irritation. Heat can really make me a dick and I get so caught up in frustration that I have to sit and let all the shit sit for a minute so I can process and get my head back together. 


After the rocks there is a long road walk into Agua dulce and horses were in everyone’s back yard leaving them to be spectacles for romantics such as myself. The horse is the most majestic creature on earth. That’s objective. 


Once I got to town a group of hikers were in the back of a truck and called me over to go to Hiker Heaven. I was thrilled! I got to shower and clean my clothes and get a new pair of shoes to last me a few days until my next drop comes. It was sad to say bye to my first pair, but they had served their time and were now garbage. 


I kept waiting and waiting for a shuttle back to town, but it seemed that everyone was done for the day and relaxing in heaven, but I still had 18 miles to do. I sat around for a long time playing with my phone and talking to a few hikers I met the other day on the side trail for the frog reroute until finally a shuttle was going into town. I felt like a butthole for being so impatient when these people were doing so much for me but I really wanted to be back out there and finish my day. There home was so gorgeous and their hiker operation was so extensive. The AT trail angels have nothing on the vast set up these angels have for hikers. It’s kind of ridiculous. 

  • Hiker trash. 
  • Multiple computers for hiker use. 

Things worked out perfectly. I got my groceries and bought a kambucha and talked with Molly for a long time on my way up another 1500 foot climb. This climb was out of control. There were so many different shades of grass and the sun was just glittering them in contrast with the wind blowing them around. Once again I was on cloud nine and smiling from the beauty that surrounded me. I couldn’t handle it. I took a million pictures and whistled for an hour. The back side of the hill was even more gorgeous.  The sun began to set and a lake came into view and the clouds spread out to make a beautiful shape across the sky, waiting for colors to dress them for the night. 

  • Gladiator. 

I found a cache at the next road a couple miles down the back side of the ridge and decided to set up camp, but when another hiker passed and vocalized his distaste with camping next to roads I packed up and hiked another .4 miles to make my third 30 mile day in a row! Also the mice where jumping around and I didn’t want to deal with that shit again. 

  • My phone looks HUGE!!

There is now an occasional buzz from the road half a mile away along with a strange flapping noise hovering my tarp. Bat? Angel? Fairy? I am happy to be another day closer to seeing Molly and feeling proud of my body for taking the beating it’s had for the past two weeks. Soon it will be a machine and will carry me all the way to Canada. 


Thought of the day:

Everyone should listen to this song:

Manatee Commune- Clay

Two Weeks!

Day 15

mileage: 35.4

Total distance: 436.1
Camp tonight is on a picnic table in the North Fork Ranger Station. I’m in super lazy mode tonight and only going to get my bag out to sleep on a table. No way I’m blowing up a pad or laying a ground sheet and for sure not setting up a damn tarp. I’m BEAT!!! Presently I have my feet up in the air to help them heal and looking down a valley while the colors change with the sunset. It’s a pretty perfect spot to end a gnarly day. 


I woke up late this morning and didn’t get started hiking until 7, but figured I’d still try and beat the sunset 35 miles away. My legs were taking forever to wake up and were being little divas until finally they got the memo and turned on. The trail was subtle at first and winded down the valley I was in until I reached the end only to go right back up to 6,000 feet. 


I had the worst song stuck in my head all day and honestly started getting frustrated that I couldn’t get rid of it. Wanna Talk About Me, by Alan Jackson? The worst. I wonder why it was that song. What the hell? 


Around noon I got to a fire station and found 7 other hikers pressed up against each other to hide from the sun. It was an incredible sight and I’ve been beating myself up since for not taking a picture. I ended up hanging around for a while and drank a ton of water and had a banana that a trail angel came to drop off. Magic! I applied way too much sunscreen on and took off around 1:30. The sun was blazing hot and the uphill I had was on soft sand that pulled me backwards with every step. Not only that, but there was poodle dog bush everywhere! There was even a section closed off for 7 miles, but I had a child like moment where you tell them not to do something and that makes them want to do it all the more. So I did the poodle trail. Part of me feels like I have to experience it. Like am I even a real thru hiker if I don’t? I feel invalidated. We’ll see if today did the trick. The burn zone where the poodle grew was so vast and the trees stood like skeletons frozen in the valley below. It was a sad sight, but cool to experience. 


The last 17 miles were easy going and I hardly drank any water until 5 miles left where I sat on a rock and enjoyed the haze from the fog blanketing the base of all the surrounding peaks. I slammed some chili with beans and farted down the mountain. I felt so good the last three miles I was prancing past poodle bush and skipping over poison oak. I just didn’t give a damn. The wild flowers were going off and I felt like I was in a fairytale. I had a smile on for at least twenty minutes and then chuckled at myself for being such a fruit cake, but I love it regardless. It feels so good to finish a 35 mile day early enough to watch the sunset and be laying down to watch the stars start to shine. 

  • Poodle dog bush

  • Snow flower

Thought of the day:

Take that ya damn plant. 

Smoke On The Mountain

Day 14

Mileage: 31.2

Total distance: 400.6
Tonight I am at Glenwood Camp and climbed up the ridge a ways to watch the sunset. There are four other hikers down by the cabin, which makes me feel great about choosing this spot for the night. There’s are streaks of gold sinking behind the range in front of me and directly behind me are stars beginning to shine above the mountains. Mosquitos are eating me alive. 


Today kicked my ass!! So many climbs and some serious elevation change in the past thirty miles. Right off the bat this morning there was a 4 mile, 3,500 feet climb and for some reason I had a ton of energy to blast up it. Perhaps it was the coffee and donuts this morning on the way back up the hill. 


As soon as I was dropped off by my incredible host family, I realized I left my wallet in their car. Shit. No service. I began wandering around trying to find some and started trying to hitch, but nothing was working. Finally, I got one bar and sent my message quickly and thankfully it went through. About fifteen minutes later they showed up with my wallet and I thanked them endlessly for helping me with my carelessness. I felt like a fool!! Right after this I started hiking and immediately crossed a rattlesnake. That’s number 5? 


The views today were jaw dropping. It’s so cool to look back and see where you’ve come from and where you’re going next when you stand on a mountain. At one point you could look down and see LA nestled in a pocket and on a really clear say you could seethe ocean, but it was too hazy for that. 


I really enjoyed being alone today and got to do things at my own pace without feeling bad for holding someone else up. The trail took me in and out of pine forests and zig zagged up and down the ridges that stretched west. 


Around mile 15 I summited a mountain and before me I could see smoke ascending off a peak not too far away. Sounds of helicopters filled the air and soon I saw them coming and going spraying water around the fire in attempts to control its burn. I sat for a long time and watched this and began hiking again and was still able to see it off and on. I began getting closer to the fire and started worrying the trail was going straight into it and at the last minute it dipped down to highway 2 and is at the perfect time for another reroute. The section the fire was in was a protected area for a species of frog, but unfortunately now was on fire. Poor little guys. The reroute included three miles of road walking and 1.4 miles of a side trail to connect you back to the pct. The side trail was breath taking! It follows a canyon and massive cedar and pine trees fill up the forest and greenery swept the floor. It was so lush and perfect with my timing going through it. The golden hour had begun and I was on cloud nine. So. Damn. Pretty. Also, I reached mile 400 today! Wahoo!!

  • Side trail of wonder. 

The last five miles were slow going, but the grade was low and the sky was colored beautifully. Now that I am sitting up on this hill I can hear owls hooting in the distance, mixed with a low hum of the helicopters working hard to maintain the fire. There is an owl so close by it scared me when I first heard it. I wonder what he’s gonna do tonight? 


Thought of the day:

Who won game 2?!?!

For the Middle-Aged

Day 13

Mileage: 24.8

Total distance: 369.3
Tonight I am sleeping on a cozy couch in Wrightwood, CA that belongs to some very generous trail Angels in town. I am showered, my laundry is done, I ate a huge dinner and some cheese cake and now ready to pass out. 


I woke up this morning at 4:30 and saw the subtle glow from the east and forced myself up to get started on the 15 mile climb up the 8,000 foot mountain. There were no water sources between here and 25 miles away so I was going to need to stay out of the sun as much as possible. I popped an excedrin because of my left foot acting up and for the caffeine and I was off by 5 am. 


Not even 4 miles in I come to a water cache and fill up and rest for a minute to make sure I’m hydrated. I also poop and after my time with McDonald’s yesterday m, this was no quick, ritual morning poo. It was a huge pain in the ass. Heh heh. 

  • Saw this last night a little while before bed. 

The climb was gradual and slow moving, but every time I had exposure to the sun the temperature shot up 20 degrees. I loved those moments in the back side of the ridge where the sun hadn’t reached yet. I passed a few hikers on the way that I met yesterday and got to share water with some and feel like a hero before entering poodle dog bush territory to boost my karma points. It’s true that you can smell it before you see it, but all of it was dead today and folding back to the earth until the little demon bushes decide to rise again. 

  • Dead poodle dog bush. 

At mile 13 I came up to a jeep road and hear classic rock playing out of a grey Toyota Tundra where there was a blue tarp and two middle aged men sitting around waiting for hikers. They both greeted me and were incredibly nice. I got two snickers and a Gatorade and sat in the shade while we discussed the trail and gear, a classic favorite amongst middle aged men. I can dig it. Two other hikers showed up and after a while I decided to get back on the road to finish the climb. Before I left one of the men told me to enjoy my hike and that I’m a hero. I brushed it off as a strange compliment, but then he said, “I wish I would have done something like this when I was younger, but now I’ve got a career and family. So do it for us man.”  I felt a sense of pride and validation in thru hiking from his sentiment and realized that there are probably tons of people who feel stuck in careers or life and see adventures like this and think, “damn, I wish I did that”.  Well, I wish that I could do it for those people, but the truth is its all an illusion until you get out and free yourself from whatever chains you feel locked down in. Maybe I can inspire, but beyond that is just a head game. Anyways… Cool dudes. They both had some real love for nature and flowers. Especially flowers. 

  • Magic. 

Almost immediately after leaving the trail became breathtaking with views of the summit down to the desert floor and the terrain became slate rock and low grade. It. Was. Beautiful. After about three hours I found myself walking through pines and stumbled upon yet another trail magic location and laughed at today supposedly being one of the most difficult days to stay hydrated and in 20 miles I had three different Angels provide water and rest for hikers. Humans are unbelievable. Generosity is infectious and just getting to sit in the kindness of the people who did these things for me today made me feel like being a better and more kind person. 

  • My hand swelling from altitude? 

I got to highway 2 around three pm and got a hitch almost immediately into Wroghtwood. This nice man from Garlinburg who was on a work trip to test new plane innovation picked me up and took me to the hard wear store to get a list of angels who might get me a shower and some laundry. This guy was willing to wait around and take me wherever I needed to go and was really into discussing gear in the hard wear store and so was I. Some older gentleman at one point as I was walking out the door motioned me over and whispered, “you want some pot?” I chuckled and said, “nah, but thank you so much for the offer”. He grinned and and nodded as he walked away.  Finally I got a hold of a woman and drove to her house to say by to my new middle aged pilot friend. On the tour of her home I felt uncomfortable with the state of her space, but was willing to overlook it for the kindness she was showing. However, she was leaving soon to drink wine with a friend and when she left I grabbed my things and dipped. Quick. I called another angel and her husband came to get me. Whewwwwww. 


When I got in his car I saw MercyMe CDs and knew I’d be in the home of some good, kind Christian folk. I got to their house and was greeted by this incredibly sweet motherly woman and was instructed to make myself at home asap. I fell into a great rhythm with the family quickly and began joking and laughing with them about hiker stories they’ve heard or Ive experienced. The husband was really into connect the dots, adult version, and sat for log periods of time before completing a sheet and then would come over and show his wife his work. It was very cute. There were two babies in the house that belonged to the daughter in law and they were very thrown off by everything about me. They only ever called me “hiker”. When they went to sleep they both said, “good night, hiker”. I love them. 

  • Posing in my borrowed clothing. 


I got to shower and do my laundry and by that time dinner was ready. At one point the woman was telling me about a man she housed who was a hiker and as she was describing him she says, “and he was a Christian so I really like him for that” and I started to get the sense that she was very particular about her religious beliefs. Not in a spiritual sense of finding significance in a creator, but in a religious way where morality and appearance validates worth. After that I began looking around and seeing things in that lens and just felt like I was in a movie with people who play a role because they are told to and not because it is real to them. Or maybe it is, but only because they are terrified to mess up and experience the consequence they have come to believe would happen to them. This didn’t ruin my evening and I ended up having a wonderful time with the family, it just made me realize that Christianity isn’t always just faith, but now it’s a culture and those are two majorly different things. It’s scary to think that people may get lost in a fear based structure to keep peace and morality, while giving up their individuality and truth. Maybe I’m speculating too hard or being too harsh on the culture because I’m jaded, but really there are some jacked up things about Christian culture in America and a lot of it makes me skeptical. 


All that to say, I really am thankful for this place to stay and these people and I have had a wonderful time enjoying their company in this home tonight. I wasn’t planning on staying long, but I felt so comfortable in this space I felt like I could just lay back and rest and take some time to relax. So that is what I have done. 


Thought of the day:

I love today.