Partly for fun, but of course for work too, we closed up the office and went up to the trail. The goal was check out one of our major projects: the re-alignment of the Pacific Crest Trail north of the Sierra Buttes.
On Thursday, we day hiked and a few of us jumped in a lake. In the afternoon, we joined the ACE corps crew at their base camp. They cooked up dinner of pork, potatoes and carrots. We played ring toss, set up tents, chatted, and enjoyed the evening.
Yesterday, we picked up tools and joined the crew for a day of trail building. It’s a many-year project. I worked on clearing brush along the flag line. It’s the step before cutting new trail tread (which another team was doing).
It’s really neat to build new Pacific Crest Trail. It’s done with so much intention, planning and very high standards. Laying out the trail and constructing it in a way that will make it long-lasting with little maintenance is the basic goal. When it’s open in a few years, the PCT will be further away from roads, pass by more water, mountain views and a nice campground.
This hike was pretty unique. With my coworkers and partners from the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service, we hiked the PCT today from Carson Pass to Meiss Meadow and the Truckee River. It was a field day during a week of training about the science behind hiker’s impacts on trails. We brought out one of the world’s only Recreation Ecologists to do some extra professional development in light of the increasing popularity of the PCT.
I won’t go into what we talked about during the workshop (we’ll do a post at pcta.org about it), and instead just say that it was a beautiful day on the trail. I do love talking trail management and relish the few days I got to spend diving into it with other professionals.
I feel it in my thighs.
We just hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from the South Climb Trail on Mt. Adams, around the mountain, through the forest, up an over the Goat Rocks and all the way to White Pass. It was eight days in the wilderness. My longest stint of the year. The longest trip Lindsey and I have taken together.
And it was utterly groovy.
First, a shout-out to Ali and Colin for being outstanding hiker friends the last three days on the PCT through Goat Rocks Wilderness. It was fun guys. And truly, you made this trip possible by dropping us off at Mt. Adams then days later setting up cars on the northern end, at Walupt Lake and White Pass. PCT section hiking is a mess of impossible logistics. You made it possible.
The Portland portion of vacation was quick: flugtag (flying machines crashing into the river), brewery, Next Adventure (saw PCTers), chores, backyard BBQ, and a comedy show.
Then, hiking. There’s too much to tell and I’m not one for sharing in detail.
Circling around half of Mt. Adams was beautiful. We had nice camps, walked through a large burn area, ran into a friend, and did two side trips. High Camp was very much worth the effort and provided grand views of Adams immediately above, Saint Helens and Rainier. Lookingglass Lake wasn’t. It had burned.
A quintessential sketchy guy, deep in the wilderness, completely unkempt, with a machete, gnarly infected eye and a you-wouldn’t-believe-it charming and nice demeanor, gave us mushrooms on the shoulder of Mt. Adams. We ate those King Boletes and they were delicious with couscous.
As often happens, we slept a lot. Wonderfully long naps. Early bed times. Late starts. Walking 10 miles per day is really darn pleasant. I also read a book (What is the What?), usually with Lindsey cutely reading snippets over my shoulder instead of doing math or reading scientific papers.
I really like section hiking the PCT. Yes, i’ve seen it all. But it’s oh so nice to return to familiar places.
On our fifth day, I swam, read, relaxed, ate the crumbs of my food bag and twiddled thumbs long enough to start to worry. Then, Ali and Colin finally walked up to our backcountry lake, with the food and smiles we were expecting. Whew.
From there on, it was the heart of Goat Rocks Wilderness. It’s for that scenery that I flew up to the northwest. On my thru-hike, I had decidedly mixed conditions through the area. Partly cloudy skies, then rain and fog. This time, wonderful blue skies and puffy clouds dominated. We had one of the most epic PCT camps that I’ve had with full views of Mt. Adams, Saint Helens, Rainier and Goat Lake. We climbed to the summit of Old Snowy and I walked the Old Snowy alternate as well as the actual PCT. Then we hit the iconic Knife’s Edge and did the still very enjoyable miles down to White Pass.
I gave my conditions report to my coworker who is in charge of the area and it was full of details. The major bits were: a bit of ATV incursion near Potato Butte, generally excellent trail, mild brush above Walupt, still incorrect signage on the alternate on Old Snowy, really bad tread collapse on the Knife’s Edge, and the wonderful experience of walking northbound right after logout and new trail around Shoe Lake. Also: every camp had an actively used fire ring, usually far too close the the trail, and during a fire ban. And, too much toilet paper from people that buried it an inch deep, plus multiple outright surface turds. Remember to teach newbies pooping and make sure they comfortable with doing it right.
Yesterday, some coworkers, volunteers and friends hiked the PCT south from Echo Summit. It’s always nice to get on the trail and out of the office. We met a few thru-hikers and more than a few section hikers. It sure is early to have so many thru-hikers this far north.
In 2006, I walked the Pacific Crest Trail. It was hot dang wonderful. Since then, I’ve found myself building a sizable collection of videos on youtube. I thought that I should revisit my PCT hike, since I had little visual documentation of it (an epic tomb of words can be found on this journal.) It was really enjoyable to search back through my photos of the trip. Most of my content on youtube features actual moving images. I hadn’t explored making slideshows. Aren’t those antiquated? Aren’t I more modern? And yet, a slideshow, 2006 technology one might say, was made. The process inspired me to go back through some of the 21,000 photos on my ibook. Perhaps there will be some more slideshows to come. Myanmar definitely deserves it.
A CDT slideshow can be seen by digging a little into my online presence. hint, hint..