I had the opportunity to fly down to Kick Off this year and I took advantage of it. It freed me up to spend the night at Scout and Frodo’s, day-hike the southern 20 miles of the PCT and add on Sunday night in the campground after the event.
Of course, it was a wonderful time.
– My favorite thing about KO is the opportunity for us play community. I really like getting to chat the regulars year after year. Meeting the new hikers, if only briefly, is nice too. I met a whole lot of great people.
– I was witness of a helicopter doing a body recovery 😦
– KO is always really hectic and busy for me. This year was a little less so because the weather was bad, and I’d made a concerted effort to downsize the expectations on my time at the event.
I attended another wonderful hiker gathering last weekend. The size, format, venue and schedule of this ALDHA-W Gathering seemed just right. Not too big, not too small. Just a perfect weekend of slideshows and hanging out with really great people. You are some impressively strong, skilled and experienced hikers. Hot damn that’s a lot of walking. Thanks for being my friends.
After the Gathering, I spent the rest of the long weekend higher up in the hills. We lunched in Downieville, snacked in Sierra City, camped at Packer Lake (in a fall drizzle), and road tripped through the “lost Sierra”. Ambling around Truckee, Tahoe City, the lake, shopping for a SUP and exploring the Donner party’s history happened too.
I traveled to Oregon for my first ever PCT Days. I love hiker gatherings and this one ranked right up there with the best.
With the little time I had before returning to the airport, I rode bikes, ate at a food truck and went to the Portland Art Museum.
It poured on the second half of my hike. Thankfully, I was prepared after having accounted for the weather forecast. Pack cover, pack liner, dry bags for everything, ziplocks, a floorless tarp, good rain gear, a rain skirt and an umbrella. Instead of being a downer, the rain was a fun bonus.
This section of the PCT is one of the trail’s most scenic. It’s high, jagged, and beautiful. Traveling at far less than my thru-hike’s pace, I had time to sleep, stare, ponder and play. I also chose my night’s destination based largely on it’s beauty. Picking those gems made for a more special trip. I jumped in lakes three times between the deluges.
While I had the time and intention to do some side trips. I didn’t. They were all either too much work, or too stuck in the clouds.
Through the most dramatic areas, the clouds only made the mountains more interesting. I watched at they moved up and over ridges, screamed past summits and blew across lakes. Luckily, the heavy weather came during the less stunning stretches.
Chased by the rain and moving with Waterman, a distance hiker from New Zealand, I moved out of the backcountry a day early. The two nights at the Dinsmore’s were plain old fun. Getting to know Jerry and Andrea better was a big bonus to this hike. The thru-hikers passing by were all happy, fun and jazzed. The first bearded face in the dorm was my good friend Gehaz. We met hiking in Nepal in 2009 and it was great to reconnect with him in such an unexpected place.
The last day, Hot Sister, a friend from PCT ’06, picked me up, put me up and toured me around Seattle. We went to somewhere north of 25 separate places and now I know for sure that it’s a really great city.
Thanks also to Magic Man for the very kind airport pickup, conversation and ride to the crest. I found some hikers after you left and they gobbled the donuts.
I had a fantastic time at KO again this year. Did two presentations, tabled, talked to dozens of friends and hundreds of others. What a wonderful community we have.
I walked the John Muir Trail a few weeks ago. I’m not sure if there is anything to say about it that hasn’t been said before. It was just a really pleasant and enjoyable hike.
I was doing ~25 miles per day and still had time for long conversation breaks, swimming and lounging in cool places.
- Did 28 miles my first day. I was unsure about my ability to average 22mpd. The long first day without trouble reassured me that it wouldn’t be a problem.
- Ran into people I knew: Rachelle, Lills, Joseph, the buds from Sacramento, the guy from a former workplace, Woodrose, Muleskinner, TPL lady and friend, the three rangers who stopped for long chats, the guy who recognized me from my CDT photos, and Rockin’ and Wired. All of you that I didn’t mention. It was nice meeting you too.
- Running down Mather Pass and across Upper Basin because of dark clouds, hail and lightning.
- Hiking Silver and Selden passes in a day. Mather and Pinchot in a day. Glen and Forester in a day. Twany Point and Whitney in a day.
- The solo experience.
- The act of hiking.
I camped with a father and son who only had onion soup and a small amount of potato flakes to eat with three days to go. Don’t rely on your ability to fish.
People are cheating and it stinks.
You have to be able to fit all of your food in your canister. Don’t carry a tiny canister because “it’s required to have a canister.” It’s actually required to protect all of your food in the canister. Just having one doesn’t fit the spirit or the letter of the law. The idea is that you protect the bears from your food. Not your food from the bears. Save the bears.
Follow permit rules. The quotas prevent overcrowding. Crowds stink. The JMT is crowded and it’s at least partially the fault of people who cheat.
I didn’t treat any of my water.
Resupplying at Muir Trail Ranch was very convenient. You could resupply from the hiker boxes without a problem.
The trees of the Sierra are dying. I confirm this every time I go out.
Greyhound has problems. There is no guarantee that there will be space on the bus, even if you bought a ticket weeks ago. There were 40+ people waiting for the bus that had 3 seats. There were 60+ people waiting for the bus that came 3 hours later.
Head on over to my Facebook to see my best JMT ’12 Photos.