Into Town

Day 11 – 4/23/15
Idyllwild
Miles – 20.2
Total Mile – 190.6 (PCT 162.6)
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Last night was our coldest night yet.  Mama Raven and l could not get warm. The chill from the ground was coming up through our sleeping pads. We quickly packed up and started to hike down to the valley floor. Below us was a blanket of clouds, but they started to pull back as we hiked down. Soon we came to Morris Rd. I missed where the trail turns off and we ended up following the road down to Hwy 74. We then turned north and walked 1 mile to where we should have come out. The alternate then followed a dirt road under some power lines and eventually intersected Hwy 74. The next several miles we hiked along the side of the road. We do not like doing that because the cars are so close, especially on the bridges. Finally we got to Herkey Campground and off of the highway. The alternate then went over a ridge and down into Idyllwild, our home for the next few days.
A comment on the mileage: the total miles is how far we have walked. That includes PCT miles plus off trail miles, such as walking into town or waking around a closed area. The PCT number is the PCT mileage marker from Halfmiles maps.

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Paradise

Day 10 – 4/22/15
Cedar Springs Trail Junction
Miles – 20.5
Total Miles – 170.4 (PCT 162.6)
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We woke up this morning with visions of hamburgers in our heads. We were 8 miles from the Paradise Cafe on the Pines to Palms highway. Dreaming of restaurant food is a huge motivation to hike fast…and that is exactly what we did. The miles rolled by and we walked into the restaurant little after 11. Slowly we worked our way through 3 large hamburgers and a plate of nachos with lots of guacamole for Joon. After lunch, we were back on the trail to Idyllwild.
In 10 miles, at Cedar Springs, the PCT is rerouted because of a fire in 2013. The forest service has keep this trail section closed because their has been lots of erosion and they want the plants to come back strong without human influences. It will add 4 or 5 miles but that is OK. It is a very quite trail section since most people are skipping it. That 10 mile section began gently as it meandered for several miles through a boulder field. It was beautiful. As the trail grew steeper, it got colder and colder, and the sun was replaced with thick dense clouds.  As we moved up over 6000 feet, we reached the ridge line and the wind really picked up. The clouds were racing over the top of the ridge and down the backside – to were, we didn’t know because of zero visibility. There was very little daylight left and Joon was getting scared. Shortly thereafter it was so dark we had to take out our headlamps. It was really cold! Now Joon was so scared she began to cry. However she understood we had to go on because we had no place to camp. At 9:00 pm we reached Cedar Springs Trail and found the perfect campsite. It was flat, shielded from the wind, and it was home for the night.  As we pitched our tents, Mama Raven realized that she could see the moon and some stars. By the time the tents were up, the clouds were gone and the stars were shining bright. Looking to the west, we could see the valley was socked in with clouds. Looking to the east was a more impressive view. Thousands of feet below us, was the twinkling lights of Palm Springs and it’s surrounding communities. Our efforts were rewarded grandly with such an amazing scene. Even Joon was impressed.

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GiGi at the Little Tree Library, cache 145

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Barrel Springs

Day 7 – 4/18/15
San Ysidro Creek
Miles – 18.3
Total Miles – 107.5 (PCT 104.9)

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Last night the wind really blew. Our tent rattled all night. It blew so hard that our tent collapsed on us. I had to go outside four times to put tent stakes back in the ground. By the time we got up, several of the other groups had already left. We started hiking just before the sun hit us.

We made good time and with only one stop, came to the third gate water cache. San Felipe Ridge is more than a 23 mile waterless stretch. Some people like to help out the hikers by dropping off water in dry sections, the third gate is one such location. Will and I hiked down to the cache to get 5L of water. The cache is at the end of a dirt road. There was several hundred gallons of water, all in 3L bottles. It was quite a setup.

From the water cache, we hiked to Barrel Springs, about 10 miles away. Barrel Springs is a nice change from what we have been hiking in. It has a lot of large oak trees which shade the whole area. We got there in the mid-afternoon, and filled out water bottles. There were 9 other thru-hikers there. We decide to push on to San Ysidro Creek in the hopes that there will be fewer people.
We live an hour from Warner Springs and this is one of our favorite day hiking areas. It’s like hiking in our own backyard, we know all its twist and turns. It is a mix of grasslands and chaparral, with a few streams thrown in. We hiked it in the evening so the light on the grassy fields was beautiful.  Mama Raven kept stopping to take pictures. As we headed into the fields, we ran into an obstacle, a large herd of cows. They were all about the trail. Joon was a little concerned as we scarred the cows out of our way. We finely got to San Ysidro Creek and setup camp. We will have no problems getting into Warner Springs tomorrow.

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Easy Day

Day 6 – 4/17/15
At a large camp part way up San Felipe Ridge
Mile – 9.6
Total Miles – 89.2 (PCT 86.6)
Blisters: Joon – 3, Mama Raven – 4, Will – 0, Papa Raven – 0

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We turned today into a partial lay-over day. You could tell by the low milage. At the speed we are hiking, we will get to Warner Springs late Saturday or early Sunday. Our food box is at the PO and it closes at 1:30 on Saturday. That means, no matter what, we will be waiting until Monday morning to get our box. So we decided to slow down and try to get to Warner Springs sometime Sunday afternoon hopefully before 4:00, when they stop selling hamburgers. Therefore, what better way to rest than somewhere with showers, bathrooms, a pool, ice cream, and a deli.
For breakfast, Cheryl brought us a Mom’s apple berry pie with a crumb topping from Julian. Of course we ate the whole thing. We sorted the equipment, washed all our socks, and basically got ready for the rest of this section. Joon went swimming in the pool. Since it was unheated she did not stay in long, but she and Will had fun playing around the pool. By lunch time, everything was packed up and ready to go. We got deli sandwiches before Cheryl took us back to the trailhead. We stated hiking around 1:30. Joon had a difficult time with Cheryl leaving, she is missing home. Our plan was to go only 9 miles and we knew that it would take us the rest of the day. It was a big up and hot, but a strong wind helped.
San Felipe Ridge is one long switchback. It goes for almost 20 miles before topping out, swinging in and out of gullies and valleys. It is long, boring, and very dry. It was dusk when we got to where we could camp. There were 5 other groups here, so we just squeezed in, set camp, ate dinner (egg burritos), and went to bed. Tomorrow we will get to Barrel Springs and then get into Warner Springs mid-day Sunday.

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Breakfast

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Cheryl

Day 5 – 4/16/15
Stagecoach Trail RV Park
Mile – 16.0
Total Miles – 79.6 (PCT 77.0)
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Our campsite last night was well protected from the wind. We just had light breezes while the other two parties around us had a strong wind all night.
The hiking today was not hard, just long. It was almost all down hill. We went from chaparral and meadows all the way down to the desert floor. The trail rolled in and out of the mountain sides slowly contouring down. We could travel miles sideways but not a lot of distance vertically. As the trail grew closer to the desert floor, it started to go up over small ridges to avoid private property. This drove us up the wall because our end point was off to the north and the trail was going needless miles to the east.
When we finally got to S2 we meet up with Cheryl. Before we started the trip, we had arranged with her to meet us at Scissors Crossing. She was bringing us much needed water. Scissors Crossing has almost none.  What she did instead was to bring us and two other hikers (Laura and Darrin) to the Stagecoach Trails RV Park. We had deli sandwiches, got our first shower in 5 days, and place to rest for part of tomorrow. All the kids from Will and Joons old school wrote notes to them. We all had fun reading them. Sarah and Karin sent some missing/needed supplies. Thanks everyone for all the help.  Also we had a chance to read all of the comments on our blog, again thanks!
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Windy

Day 4 – 4/15/15
1 mile beyond Sunrise Trailhead
Miles – 18.4
Total Miles – 63.6 (PCT 61.0)

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The wind blow almost all night. Sometime in the early morning it stopped. The only problem was that the wind started back up just about the time we get up, and it was a cold wind, the type that bites.
Most of the hiking today was right on the edge if the mountains with a big drop down to Borrego Desert. When we hiked the PCT in 96′, this section was over 100°; it was much more pleasant this time. We hiked with long sleeve shirts and had our down jackets on. For the most part, it was very easy hiking. The trail rolls up and down along the edge. It was well into the afternoon before we took off our warm clothing. It should warm up as we head down to the desert floor tomorrow.

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What Does Bear Spray Feel Like?

Day 3 – 4/14/15
Desert View Picnic Area
Miles –  16.7
Total Miles – 45.2 (PCT 42.6)

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Today is a big up day. We have to climb up to Mt Laguna, which is about 12 miles and several thousand feet. W saw our first running water down in Kitchen Creek. It would have been nice to go down by water but the trail stayed 100 feet above it.
A lot of people are trying to hike the PCT this year and many of them have little to no experience. That means, in a lot of cases, they bring way to much stuff. We see many very large packs. At some point they start to dumping gear. About mid-morning Will found a full bottle of Bear Pepper Spray. He asked if he could spray it. I thought sure why not. I pointed him away from us and he pulled the trigger. It put out an orange mist. He shot it a second time. I took it from him and went over to let Joon give it a try. That is when the wind shifted and I felt burning in my nose. All of a sudden Mama Raven, Will, Joon, and I went running away as fast as we could from the area. Everyone had buying eyes, nose, and throat.  We did a lot of coughing and gagging while we moaned, groaned, and laughed. We used water to wash out our mouths. I guess that was not such a good idea. Next time we’ll have to spray it down wind.
Around lunch we stopped at our first stream. It was not big but we could soak our feet.  It feels really good to soak the feet on a hot day.
At the end of the day, we reached the Mt Laguna store. The first thing we did was to get some food and drinks. Next we get our box and sorted out the food. Then came more food. As the store closed we went over to the local outfitters. The store is owned buy a gentleman we met last summer as we hike the JMT and he hiked the Sierra High Route. We talked with him for about a hour and picked up a new stuff sack and some cord to make a strap for Will’s hat.  It was the best stocked outdoor stores we have seen.
We are now camped in flat spot and the wind is really blowing in the trees above us. It is going to be a cold night.

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Thank You

I know that lists of thanks you are boring but the following are some of the people who have and will be helping us.
I want to let them know how much I appreciate them. So if you want to hear about hiking, skip this.
Karin S.
Cheryl L.
Suzanne N.
Denise H.
Sarah H.
Donna and Carl W.
Molly V.
Terri S.
Emily and Gene T.
Bob and Melody U.
The Holston/Sawyer Clan
Dirty Girl Gaiters
BioSkin

The Day Two Blues

Day 2 – 4/13/15
Somewhere Just before Kitchen Creek Falls
Miles – 14.4
Total Miles – 28.5

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Everyone was very tired last night and none wanted to get up. Although we did start hiking soon after the sun came up. Joon was not moving very fast due to the blisters on each foot. We headed down to Hauser Creek and then stated our first big up. It took longer than we though because Joon was walking so slow.
When we got to the top we stopped to eat and I worked on Joon’s blister’s.  She had two, one on each foot. One was big and puffy and the other was long.  What caught my eye was that it was long. I took a look in her shoe to see what could caused it and saw that her blister lined up with her new hard plastic orthotics. The insert was what was causing her blisters. Of course we pulled them out.
Our first big break of the day was at Lake Morena. It has picnic tables, bathrooms, and a place to dump trash.  We stayed for about an hour.
Six hot miles and several hours later we came to Big Oak Campground. This is a good place to stop because it has water, so out came the cook kit and we had hot dogs for dinner. When you are hiking in southern California it is important to eat where there is water. We were very slow to start hiking again. Everyone was tired. This always happens at the start of a hiking trip. The second and third days are the hardest. Out bodies are still adapting to hiking.
After a good rest we headed out. We had a big up in front of us. We are starting to hike up to Mt. Laguna, so it was all up. It was a bit hard finding a campsite. but as usual. we made something work.  Tomorrow we reach our first food drop, Mt. Laguna.

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Smokey, Tofu, and ?

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Well we’re off

Day 1 – 4/12/15
Above Hauser Creek
Miles  – 14.1
Total Miles – 14.1

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The last week has been very stressful. Working right up to end left me very little time to help Mama Raven to get ready. Mama Raven and I have been up until almost midnight every night. Yesterday was the worst, Mama Raven and I did not get bed until 1:30 this morning and then we had to wake up at 5 to get ready to go.  The Sims and the Linbergs arrived at our home at 6 to drive us to the boarder. With all the last minute things we had to do, we did not leave until 7:40.  After a one and a half hour drive we stopped to meet up with my mom and then all three cars drove to the boarder.
17 people have all ready stated there hike today, we will make it 21.  After the mandatory pictures and putting our fingers into Mexico; that is all we could fit through the boarder fence, we stated our hike. But we did not start alone, the Sims and Linberg’s hiked with us for the first 2 miles.  It was great to have so many people seeing us off.
We had the normal problems we always have at the beginning of a hike: sore feet and shoulders, and sluggish hiking. We know it takes 3 to 4 days to start feeling good. We just have to get through it.
We traveled through chaparral and some oak. The day was not really hot and a nice wind blow most of the time. The flowers are out. Every where we looked something was in bloom.
Joon got the first blisters of the trip. She got two of them, one on the inside of each foot. We have popped one of them and put disinfectant on them. We will be watching it closely tomorrow. Joon did complain that her feet were hurting but we did not make the connection and she does not have much experience with blisters.
Mama Raven:
We bumped into our first hiker who was quitting. She was hiking solo. She said her feet hurt.  I thought about my feet with plantar fascitis, nuroma, metatarsal ailment, and swollen achilles tendon. That is all one foot, but I’m still hiking. I take a lot of vitamin I (Motrin)

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Moms Thoughts

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Writing is a very slow and labor intensive job, thus I do not do it often. I wish I was one of those people that was blessed with the talent to be able to put their pen down and the thoughts effortlessly come flowing out onto the paper (or computer screen) in a clear and concise way. Instead my thoughts become tangled together and a gobbly mess comes out.  It is even more daunting task knowing that others, especially the ones that do know how to write, will be reading my words.  Nonetheless, I thought I should write down some of Mom’s thoughts about hiking.

I love to walk, and the longer the trail, the happier I am!  So, what about walking that makes my happy?   I am a firm believer in the concept of less is more, therefore, I fault the human race of bad design. The day to day life that they have created, is too complicated.  It is over designed. Thru-hiking is living in its most simplest form.  It is nothing more that eating, sleeping, walking, and reveling in natures beauty.  The burdens of day to day life dissolve away.  I wake up every morning on the trail feeling that this is the best day of my life.  This is why I love hiking!

Before Will and Joon were born, we said we wanted to someday hike the Pacific Crest Trail with our kids.  Over the years, every excuse came up as to why we should not do it.  The number one consideration was always financial.  How do you just quit a job for half a year, face the uncertainties of unemployment, upkeep mortgage payments while we are gone, receive no unemployment, and face the financial fees for no longer having health care.  It sounds like a bad decision.  Nonetheless, smart idea or not, we are throwing caution to the wind and taking our family on a hike from Mexico to Canada.  In fact, there is something in that very wind telling us to go.

In a week, the ravens are “going off the grid”, and thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  We are all excited.  We are a little nervous too.  Last fall, when we began planning for our trip, my biggest fear was huge river crossings during spring melt in the Sierras.  Once again, California has had another winter with exceptionally low snow fall,  therefore my anxiety of river crossings has faded away.  It has been replaced with rattlesnakes.  Since Southern California experiencing a forth year of drought, it is expected to be a record year for rattlesnake bites.  I do not know why drought increases rattlesnake bites, perhaps it is causing the snakes to move away from their territory looking for food and water?  Nonetheless, I have been telling Will and Joon when they are hiking, not to look at their feet, instead look in front of them and to keep an eye out for any snakes.  Also, assume that any large rock in the the trail can have a rattle snake on the other side.  Look before you step!  I recently gave Will a home school assignment to learn to identify the different types of rattlesnakes in California and to research what to do if bitten by one.  Hopefully, that will be useless information for Will.

The only other real concern I have is for Joon and her speed of walking.  She is slow!  To use Joon and slow in the same sentence, is an oxymoron.  Joon is all about speed:  she has to swim and run the fastest, she has to do her math drills the fastest, she has to eat her dinner the fastest, brush her teeth or even sharpen a pencil faster than anyone.  Everything she does, becomes a race.  However, when if comes to walking she is a snail!!!  I think this is because she has a very vivid imagination, and when she walks, great stories are unfolding in her mind and she is concentrating more on her stories than walking.  As she is trudging along on the trail, you can see her get slower and slower with each step she takes.  Tim and I have to keep reminding her to step it up.  I suppose if this is the biggest hurdle to overcome, we are in pretty good shape.