Halfway from Mexico, halfway to Canada. 1,328 miles complete, 1,328 miles to go. That’s not the only good news: the snow is over. What more could we want? (free beer and ice cream is the correct answer). What we don’t want? One aspect of snow travel that I failed to discuss in the previous blog: busting your ass non-stop, 24/7. On our final day of navigating the ice, I dropped the rump in the slush twice and face-planted into the powder once.
Let’s delve into another frequently asked question: “What all you got in that bag?” Here is my packing list at the risk of boring you to death:
The Big 4:
-Tent (basically just a mosquito escape bunker)
-Sleeping Pad (it’s no Tempur-Pedic, but damn comfortable for weighing 7 ounces)
-Stove, Gas, Lighter
-Pot, Spoon (both are titanium pimpin’)
-2 Pair Underwear & Socks
-Hiking Shorts, Shirt, Hat
-Sleeping/Camp Pants, Shirt, Beanie
-Rain Jacket, Pants (it doesn’t rain so only used for laundry day outfit)
-Waterproof Snow Socks
-Tennis Shoes (leave the boots at home, ruining 5 pairs total)
-Down Jacket (rarely used as a jacket, primarily used as a pillow)
-Phone (crucial for my maps, GPS, info)
-iPod, Headphones (crucial for my sanity)
-Bluetooth Speaker (how I got my trail name)
-Battery Pack (to charge my ridiculous bluetooth speaker)
-Toothpaste, Brush (cut it in half, save the weight)
-Beard Comb (easily most important piece of gear)
-Cologne (gotta stay fresh out here)
-Body Glide (rub it on your nethers to prevent chaffing)
-Headlamp (no idea why I carry it, just use the flashlight on my iPhone)
-Crampons (shoe spikes for snow)
-Ice Axe (super hero device for snow)
-Umbrella (put some brass music in your ears and dance the Mardi Gras second line down the trail)
-Trekking Poles (if the ice axe wasn’t enough, you now have transformer arms)
– More often than not, we have very unique hitchhiking experiences while making our way into town. On this particular day, the woman giving us a ride receives a telephone call and proceeds to answer over her car’s stereo. It is a call from a doctor that informs her of the need to make a decision ASAP on whether or not to keep her father on life support… Just as we begin to silently route for this guy, she informs the doctor to take him off… on speaker phone. Upon finishing the call (and us feeling an indescribable amount of awkwardness), she pretends that we didn’t hear anything and continues with normal conversation.
– We see our first bear! “Is it in the mountains majestically catching trout out of a stream?” you ask. Far from it I’m afraid… We see spot the ferocious beast rummaging a dumpster in downtown South Lake Tahoe across the street from a bar that we are getting pushed out of at 2am. Naturally, we instantly charge toward it for a photo-op.
– We would like to extend a huge thanks to everyone that made our amazing break in South Lake Tahoe on 4th of July weekend. From Dad & Claudia treating us to an amazing boat ride, my buddy Chris Suggs showing us some awesome disc golf, and the random guy (almost definitely a local drug dealer) that gave us a $100 bill after hearing that we walked from Mexico. Couldn’t have asked for a better break walking out of the Sierras.
– One night, we find ourselves trapped at a campsite with absolutely no water and snow slopes that are too steep to continue in the dark. The kicker… we are all totally out of water. Our only solution is to settle in, build a fire, and start melting snow for water (morale is at an all time low). After hours of scooping, melting, and filtering snow; we have 1 liter of water each. 1 liter of the most disgusting water any of us have ever consumed.
– If the artisan, handcrafted, smoked water wasn’t bad enough; this is the same evening that my body decides to become violently sick. I wake up to a disturbingly upset stomach and hardly make it back to sleep from puking through the night. The next morning, I begin searching the map for an escape route to get to a doctor. The quickest route requires a 6 mile hike through the snow followed by a bushwhack with no trail to arrive at a dirt road. By the time I reach the dirt road, I’m incredibly dehydrated, dizzy, and nauseous. The only people in sight is a large family with 5 kids and a mini van. Fortunately, they are willing to give me a ride into town and to a doctor. Unfortunately, we are in stand-still traffic for 45 minutes and I’m sweating bullets trying not to puke all over these kids. The doctor diagnoses me with gastroenteritis. After 4 days of intestinal warfare (including losing the battle of pooped-pants) and spending $820, I’m back on the trail.
– It seems like you learn something new about yourself every day out here. On this day, I learn that I have no tolerance whatsoever for line skippers. We are in Kennedy Meadows, the entrance to the Sierras, and everyone is in line to do laundry in one machine before entering the wilderness for 10 straight days. When I sign up, I’m third in line. 3 hours go by and I walk in to someone loading up the washer and I assume that it is the person in front of my name on the list. I say “Oh awesome, you must be Jonathan.” He says “No, I’m Steven.” I look at the list and see his name 5 names below Jonathan and I. So I proceed to tell Steven (a 60 year old British man) that there is obviously a line since he signed his name and it is not his turn. He informs me that he is NOT an idiot and knows how a line works. He also claims “I looked for Jonathan but I’m not waiting all day.” I go outside, yell “Jonathan!”, and he instantly stands up. I take Jonathan inside to find Steven still loading up his clothes. I yell “It wasn’t too damn hard to find Jonathan!” and proceed to start taking his clothes out of the washer. I yell “It’s all yours Jonathan!” and storm out. Steven is scowling at me and I’m doing my best not to punch an older British man in the face.
That’s about all for now. Like clockwork, the day we get out of the snow, the raging rivers die back down to trickles and it feels like we are in the desert hunting down water to drink again. However, the upcoming dry spells, mosquitoes, and poison oak won’t stop us. Low desert, high desert, and Sierra Nevada complete. Northern California, Oregon, and Washington to go. Halfway to Canada.
3 thoughts on “Bar Bears / Smoked Snow / Line Skippers : PCT Blog #4”
HI- I love reading your blog. I picked up a buddy of yours, Quinn (I think was his name) in Tahoe City and gave him a lift to Truckee. Someday, I would love to hike the PCT so for now, I am enjoying following several brave souls out on the trail.
Tahoe City CA
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Hey Bud!! Just got off the phone from speaking to you and it was AWESOME to hear your voice!!! VERY glad to hear you are healthy again and no severe pains. Also glad to hear a good report on the kitty!! Very proud of you… hang in there… and be careful!!!
Love MOM 🙂
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