Ridgecrest

Day 48, 49 – 5/30, 5/31
Ridgecrest
Miles – 0
Total Miles – 727.5 (PCT 702.2)

A truck load of thru-hikes heading to Grumpy Bears for Breakfast

A truck load of thru-hikes heading to Grumpy Bears for breakfast

Today we are going to Ridgecrest for a few days. Little Crow and Will were up early this morning. They were packing their gear by 6:00 am in anticipation for grandpa Bob picking us up. We waited out in front of the store for his arrival. Will and Little Crow played freeze be with Wall Street, Papa Raven, Foxtrot, and Pop Tops. There were roughly 25 hikers also waiting out front for a ride to Grumpy Bear Cafe, three miles down the road. The owner and cook of the cafe, picks up a truck load of hikers for breakfast at his cafe. He has a small size pickup truck. When he arrived at the store, his truck quickly filled up. We counted nineteen hikers in his truck. Off they went for breakfast. Grandpa Bob and his new dog, Pepper, picked us up at the store a little after 8:00. We all piled into his car and headed down the mountain. An hour and a half later, we were settled in a hotel room. We did our laundry and we all took out first shower in 8 days. We went to a pizza place that makes their own ice cream. Dad and Melody brought a cake and some presents for Little Crow’s birthday, which is in 6 days. Little Crow got new gaiters, shoes, and hiking poles. The store had the best ice cream. Dad and Melody told Little Crow and Will we will come back tomorrow for banana splits. We will be heading back to the trail first thing Monday morning.DSC03465-5-30-15

DSC03468-5-29-15

Pop Tops

Pop Tops

DSC03472-5-29-15

Heisenberg

Heisenberg

Giggles

Giggles

Giggles, Sunny Side Up, and Overeasy

Giggles, Sunny Side Up, and Overeasy

DSC03493-5-30-15

Advertisements

Kennedy Meadows

Day 47 – 5/29/15
Kennedy Meadows
Miles – 17.1
Total Miles – 727.5 (PCT 702.2)

DSC03407-5-29-15

Dreaming of hamburgers we got up an hour earlier than normal. The hiking was easy but hot. We had a short up, then miles of down. We did 8 miles before 10:00; that was really good for us. We then set out across Rockhouse Basin. About 3.5 miles more we got to the biggest river we have seen on the PCT, the South Fork of the Kern. Today has been the hottest day of our trip and coming upon such a sight was too tantalizing and inviting to pass up. There was only one thing we could do, everyone took off their shoes and went in. Overeasy and Sunnyside Up joined us. After seven days of sweat and dirt collecting on our bodies the cool water felt so good. We stayed for an hour before the call of hamburgers got too loud to ignore. With only 5 miles to go, we made it to the Kennedy Meadows store at 3:00.
There was a .7 mile road walk to get to the store. Will and I were out in front. As we walked into the store packing lot, Little Bear greeted us with a can of soda, he then yelled that The Ravens are here. All the hikers (more than fifty) on the large patio yelled, clapped, and whistled for us as we walked up to the store. This is the standard greeting. Will and I went up onto the patio and waited for Little Crow and Mama Raven to arrive. They got the same treatment. As the afternoon went on, we lazily sat with the other hikers eating hamburgers, chips, drinking numerous sodas, talking and yes having ice cream. We each had a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. As hikes came in, we joined in the clapping and yelling celebration of congratulations.
Kennedy Meadows, is a major point on the PCT. It delineates the end of the desert and chaparral and the beginning of the Sierra Nevada’s. As we move forward into the Sierras we will stop having so many water problems. The daytime temperatures will be lower and we will be in trees most of the time. The hiking will not be easy, it gets harder. Our daily mileages will drop. We will have snow to contended with and major river crossings. Reaching Kennedy Meadows is a major milestone for the hikers. To get there, you had to work really hard!!!  For many, probably the hardest thing they have ever done. Hiking Southern California is difficult with its extreme temperature variations and lack of water. It is more than a physical challenge but instead a mental problem. The harsh environment takes its toll on many would be thru-hikers bodies and souls. When we all began this adventure, we wonder to ourselves if we, as individuals, have what it takes to get to Kennedy Meadows. We even look at each other and silently wonder who will make or not. A few hikers have confided in us that when they saw us, a family of four with a nine year old and thirteen year old, they did not think we would make it very far. We have out lasted a lot of other hikers and we are at Kennedy Meadows along with many others that have persevered. The Ravens would like to congratulate everyone who have made it to Kennedy Meadows!DSC03400-5-29-15

DSC03452-5-29-15

5-29-15

DSC03437-5-29-15

DSC03433-5-29-15

DSC03426-5-29-25

Foxtrot and Will

DSC03425-5-29-15

The Ravens with Houdini and Sobo

The Ravens with Houdini and Sobo

Courage

Courage

Overeasy

Overeasy

DSC03409-5-29-15

image

Foxtrot and Wallstreet

Push to Kennedy Meadows

Day 46 – 5/28/15
In a burned area after Fox Mill Rd
Miles – 21.7
Total Miles – 710.4 (PCT 685.8)

image

Very little wind and no condensation resulted in a good nights sleep. We packed quickly and joined the other hikers heading up the mountain. The first few miles were shaded from the sun by the mountain. Soon we got to our first water, the second crossing of Spanish Needle Creek. We had to filter the water. It took a long time because I kept having problems with our water filter system. Platypus 6L bags our horrible to close!  They have a closure like a zip-loc bag but the plastic is far thicker. I used all my strength to push it closed against a rock and it would not seal shut. Often times in the pushing process, the water would come out of the bag. I would have to walk back up to the spring where only a trickle of water came out and fill the bag again. This happened three times. For every ten to fifteen miles of hiking, we each need roughly two litters of water  depending on the temperature of the day. On cold days we consume very little water and a hot day like today, we go through two liters in ten miles. While I filtered the water, Will and Little Crow created an obstacle course up the hill and around the trees and they timed each other to see who could do it the fastest. Mama Raven swore at and swatted mosquitoes, the first of our hike. Over Easy offered his 100 percent deet spray. Happily and enthusiastically she used it and found peace from the annoying bugs.
After leaving the creek, we climbed up several thousands of feet in elevation. The sun was hot and the walking was slow. Mama Raven and Will used their umbrellas for the most exposed parts. We finally made it to the top and stopped for something to eat. Overeasy informed Will and Mama Raven that the Kennedy Meadows store has a grill that is opened from 11:00 to 4:30. This means hamburgers for dinner!  Only problem we have is a lot of miles between now and Kennedy Meadows. As we hiked down off the saddle, Will was calculating the mileages through his head and trying to figure out how we could get there before closing time. Only twenty-six miles between us and hamburgers and something to drink other than water. Too many miles for today but his plan is for us to do as many miles as we can the rest of today, even hiking into the dark, wake up early tomorrow and hike as fast as possible tomorrow till we get there. Only one problem with his plan. . . Little Crow. . . not even a hamburger and a Sprite is worth getting up early in Little Crow’s world. Sleep to her is far more important than food! However, in this case, she is out numbered. Three out of four of The Ravens want hamburgers before closing tomorrow. To entice Little Crow a bit, we told her that we would get ice cream too! (We are not sure if they have  ice cream but we are going on the assumption they do).
We got to our next water. Mama Raven and Little Crow were out of water completely, they filled their bags up. We then hiked several more miles to Fox Mill Spring and filled all our water bottles, and had dinner. When we left, there was only 40 minutes of sun light left. We hiked till all the light was gone and just had moon light to walk by. Mama Raven and Will were way ahead of Little Crow and I. They were hiking with Overeasy and Sunnyside Up.  Little Crow and I took out our headlamps and wondering if they would ever stop.  Finally Little Crow and I saw lights off in the distance. We caught up with Mama Raven and Will who had found a place to camp despite being on a steep hill side that was burned. The Eggs camped there too. We set up in the dark. We have 17 miles to get to our hamburgers and we have to do it by 4:30. We all agreed an early start was necessary for the success of the mission!

image

Trail Magic at Walker Pass

Day 45 – 5/27/15
Near Joshua Tree Spring
Miles – 19.1
Total Miles – 688.7 (PCT 664.1)DSC03352-5-27-15It was a clear night with very little wind nonetheless we got soaked through the night. We had condensation on both the insides and the outsides of both tents. All our sleeping bags were wet. The sun hit the tent early and instead of packing up we dried everything. We had sleeping bags hanging from trees and tents over down logs. It took about 45 minutes so we had a late start. At one point Mama Raven took her new prescription glasses off to apply sun tan lotion and left them on a rock. She did not notice that they were missing until we had hiked seven miles, all down hill. She is mad at herself.  She said we are going camping here next fall and we are  going to hike the seven miles to find them on the rock were she left them.
Today the trail was a primer for the high Sierras. First we drop 1700′ to Walker Pass, then we go up 2000′ around Mt. Jenkins, next we drop 1500′ down to Joshua Tree Springs, and then we go up again. The high Sierras well be like this but with altitude changes of 2000′ to 4000′.
Once we got out of camp our drop down to Walker Pass went by quickly. When we got to the Walker Pass campground we found somebody that was doing trail magic. They feed us bananas, watermelon, and oranges. We had soft drinks, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and chips and dip. We soaked our feet in tubs of soapy water, charged some  of our electronic equipment, and washed our socks. We also filled up on water. It was trail magic at its finest. The gentleman and his wife, Chief and Chiefs Wife, who were responsible for the special trail magic hiked the trail in 2013. Mama Ravens favorite part of the Chiefs magic was their brand new Airstream they had. We got to go inside and I admit it really was nice. Will and Little Crow did a lot of oohing and aahing too. I will be hearing from here on out how we need to get one. It was a great break from a normal trail routine and  we stayed much longer then we meant to.
Once we were back on the trail we climbed up and around Mt. Jenkins. This took most of the day. It did give us great views of the south end of Owens Valley and Ridgecrest. With only a few hours of daylight left, we headed down toward Joshua Tree Spring. We got there with only an hour of light left and we decided we have enough water for the next 6 miles so we bypassed it and headed down the valley looking for a place to camp. We found a spot off the trail under some trees. Hopefully we will not have any condensation tonight.

DSC03310-5-27-15

DSC03327-5-27-15

Sunny Side Up

Sunnyside Up

Over Easy and The Ravens

Over Easy and The Ravens

image

Trail Angels

DSC03354-5-27-15

DSC03389-5-27-15

DSC03391-5-27-15

DSC03396-5-27-15

image

image

image

Carrot cake

Day 44 – 5/26/15
After McIvers Spring
Miles – 21.4
Total Miles – 669.6 (PCT 645.0)DSC03205-5-26-15We had a good night’s sleep and did not want to get going. Several hikers past us as we were packing up. We are at the beginning of a 35 mile dry section but we have heard that there might be a water cache provided by Shutter Bugs dad in 7 miles. Right now we have 11.5L of water. We will have to drink sparingly to go the remaining 27 miles to Walker Pass.
The trail heads up to a ridge and contours around the mountain to Bird Spring Pass, the road where the water cache might be.  As we were walking along the trail Mama Raven was so busy looking out for desert tortoises (this area is known for them) she did not notice that she walked right pass a rattlesnake. Will however saw it. It was a smaller snake with only three rattles on its tail and it did not give a warning with its rattles. Mama Raven was lucky. We got to location of the water cache quickly and  with great anticipation of not knowing or not if there was actually water. We saw five hikers, sitting around a dozen or more water bottles nestled in the shade of some small trees. It was a beautiful site. There was also four fold up chairs provided by some unknown trail angel. We refilled our bottles and drank 1.5L. As we were hanging out in the shade a small car drove up the dirt road and five hikers got out of the car. They had rented a car from Tehachapi to stash water for themselves plus extra for any other thru-hikers in need of water. We talk with them for a bit and one of them gave us a big slice of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. We split it between the four of us and Sunny Side Up and Easy Over. We stalled for as long as we could because the next part of the trail was a very long climb and no one wanted to do it. It was also warming up to be a hot day. We wrote a thank you note on one of the bottles of water for Scott and we got going. We did the whole climb without stopping. After 40 days of hiking, we are a lot stronger than when we started. We reached the top where the trail levels out and stays up high. We moved along quickly and easily on a dirt road through another burned area. At the end of the day, we camped in one of the last flat areas before the trail drops down to Walker Pass. The sun was just going down and the high clouds around us quickly turned pink and orange. We only have 6 miles to go to get to Walker Pass and we have plenty of water.

DSC03219-5-26-15

DSC03225-5-26-15

DSC03275-5-26-15

DSC03281-5-26-15

DSC03294-5-26-15

Burgandy

Burgandy

imageimageimageimage

Water cache

Day 43 – 5/25/15
Junction of SC111 and SC39
Miles – 20.2
Total Miles – 648.2 (PCT 623.6)DSC03200-5-25-15It was a warm quite night. One of the few we have had the entire trip. Being up in trees really helped block the wind. Today we have to make it to Willow Springs, our next water source. It is a 1.6 mile side trail that we will reach in 16 miles. We started the day by hiking down into Landers Meadow, a nice treed meadow with big grassy fields. All to common on the PCT, the trail turned and entered another burned area. There were many different flowers growing in and around the burned out tree trunks. We would make a turn and the ground was carpeted with tiny purple flowers. Next we would turn another direction and now the ground was covered in tiny white flowers. Another time there were fields of yellow flowers. Despite being in a bad burned area it was actually very beautiful. When we reached the mouth of the valley, we started to drop. We hiked down out of the pine and oak forest and into the desert. After dropping more than a thousand feet we came to Kelso Rd. This is one of the few paved roads in the area. When we got there we found a large water cache. We were not expecting it. We filled all of our bottles, cooked dinner, and drank as much as we could. From Kelso Rd to Walker Pass is 36 miles. We no longer need to go to Willow Spring which would add an extra three miles. Just to be safe we took several extra litters. Nonetheless we still have over thirty miles to get to Walker Pass.
The trail from Kelso Rd was a 4 mile long slow up. We did it all in one push. We next pushed on to a road junction. To our surprise there was a picnic table there. A table with benches to dangle our legs  and a place to sit other than dirt. It is a real luxury! Cloudrider was having dinner at the table. We decided to have a bit to eat to take advantage of the table. Cloudrider told us that there was no water at Willow Springs. If we counted on Willow Springs for our water we would of been in trouble. I am glad the unplanned water cache was at Kelso Valley Road. The Omelets (Over Easy and Sunnyside Up) came in and used the table too. As the sun was getting low we hiked 1.6 miles further and setup camp. Being back down in the desert we have wind again, but we are somewhat sheltered from it by a stand as Joshua Trees. Earlier in the day, someone tried to give Will the trail name of Hunter because he is hunting a trail name. At first Will liked it, but now is having second thoughts because he knows a Hunter back home.

DSC03156-5-25-15

DSC03169-5-25-15

image

image

image

image

image

A little trail magic

Day 42 – 5/24/15
After Jawbone Canyon Rd
Miles – 20.8
Total Miles – 628.0 (PCT 603.4)

DSC03127-5-24-15

Lately, we are not having much luck finding camping spots out of the wind. Last night the wind blew off the ridge and right down toward our camp. The trees around us had some protection but our tents rattled all night. The tent fabric was very loud and noisy making sleep difficult. We also had condensation last night so we had wet gear to pack in the morning. Once packed it did not take long to get to the next water source. When we arrived at the water source, there were a number of hikers that had spent the night at the spring. We met Cookie Monster and Morning Star who are from Belgium. We have see them several weeks ago but never officially met them. We also met Shutter Bug, a writer and photographer from Los Angeles. As we were walking up to the water trough, a small heard of cows were drinking from it. There were also two calves. We filled all our bottles and headed out. Robin Bird Spring is our next water, in 19 miles.
Today’s trail did a lot of wandering in and out of valleys and did not cover a lot of horizontal distance. It really makes you feel like you are not making a lot of headway. Around midday, we hiked across a big open field of grass and large oak trees. It was really pretty. Then we had a large climb up onto a mountain side which was covered with pine. We have not hiked in pine in along time. The rock we are starting to see is granite. A sign we are starting to enter the southern most foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s. While we had lunch today we met Aquanaut and Little Bear. The are both professional deep sea divers. As we hiked on, we bumped into Shutter Bug again who was sitting underneath an oak tree enjoying the shade and writing in his journal. We asked him if he was hiking tonight to the water source. He replied no. He said he likes to hike only 15 to 17 miles a day. Anything over that, he begins to hurt. And too, this gives him time to write and take pictures. Mama Raven later on said that Shutter Bug has a good hiking philosophy. Most thru-hikers are always trying to make big miles. They go to bed exhausted and with incredibly sore feet trying to accomplish their mileage goals. We are often too tired to take time to enjoy what we are doing and revel in the beauty that surrounds us. Kudos to Shutter Bug!
We were planning on having dinner at Robin Bird Spring however just a few tenths of a mile before the spring we saw a sign. Someone had stashed drinkable water up at a road we had been paralleling. Getting filtered water instead of filtering it ourselves is much faster, so we went up to the road. As we got closer to the road we saw a car. Trail magic was about to take place. Scott, the father of Shutter Bug had setup camp in the most amazing tent. It had multiple rooms. Of course Will and Little Crow insist that we must get a tent just like it. He even had a writing desk inside. He was giving out water and apples to the hikers as he waited for the arrival of his son. We filled our water bottles and then we each got an amazingly sweet and crisp apple. It was worth its weight in gold! Scott told Mama Raven she could have another one but she grudgingly turned it down because their were more hikers coming in that would want one and their were just a few left. Fresh fruit is Mama Raven’s biggest food craving. Later she said that turning down the apple took all her self discipline because she really wanted another one. Next we sat down and made dinner.  Aquanaut and Little Bear shared an avocado with us, one of Little Crow’s biggest cravings. The sun was getting low when we finished eating so we quickly headed up the trail for a few more miles. In the afterglow of the sunset, we found a small flat spot that barely fit both tents We quickly setup camp. There is very little wind for once and we hope it stays that way tonight. Our next water is Willow Spring in 18 miles.

DSC03090-5-24-15

DSC03111-5-24-15

DSC03118-5-24-15

DSC03126-5-24-15

DSC03134-5-24-15

DSC03137-5-24-15

DSC03140-5-24-15

image

image

Slow start

Day 41 – 5/23/15
.5 before Golden Oaks Spring
Miles – 16.2
Total Miles – 607.2 (PCT 582.6)

DSC03058-5-23-15

We woke up this morning to partially sunny skies. No rain like yesterday morning. It was a lazy, slow morning getting ready to get back on the trail. There was not much to do since we got most everything done yesterday.
Since it was Saturday, there was only one morning bus back to the trail and it did not leave until 9:28, so we had a little bit of waiting to do. Of course the bus was late. We finally started to hike at 10:30.
Our next water was in 17 miles. With such a late start we knew we would not make it all the way to the water source, although we would try to get as close as possible. This section is the driest section on the PCT. Every water source will be 17 to 20 miles apart with one section being a dreaded 31 miles. Our main objective, for the next 8 days, is to get to the next water source.
The trail went right next to Hwy 58 for several miles and then it turned away and headed up hill. We climbed 2500′ in about 4 miles. This would not normally be that hard but we have a full load of water and 8 days of food. Our packs were extra heavy! To make matters worst, we have not hiked in four days. They were necessary days off for the weather to clear and for Mama Raven’s feet to heal. However, when you take a long break it is hard to get hiking again. Your body just does not want to go. Nonetheless, we hiked up to the top of our next set of mountains. The trail then did what it always does. It goes from mountain top to the next mountain top crossing at a gap and trying to stay as high as it can and working it’s way back along the range. As we got to the top, the wind came up. It was a strong and terribly cold wind. Many times Papa Raven had to hold Little Crow’s pack to keep her from being pushed off the trail. Often times even Papa Raven and I were pushed off the trail too. The four of us staggered on and off the trail as we hiked up the mountain. One gust was so strong that it knocked over one of the people we were hiking with. Even as this is being written, the wind is blowing strong over the ridge, but tonight we have some protection by some trees. With the cold temperatures (40°) and strong winds we had today, we are so glad we decided to stay the extra day in the hotel to wait out the bad weather. The conditions would have been miserable yesterday to come up to the higher elevations. Yesterday we felt guilty for taking another day off, but today that guilt is replaced with relief.
After reaching the top, the trail worked its way back along the mountain range. We made some distance between us and the Mojave Desert. We are hoping by pulling away from the desert, the wind will lesson. We have only one mile to the next water. We will be there first thing tomorrow morning to fill up. The next water after that is 19 miles away. There is no water to waste, not even for washing socks. It will be nice to get to the Sierras where water will not be an issue. While we had dinner tonight, we were visited by Laura and Darrin (aka Sunnyside Up and Over Easy), who we have not seen in three weeks. We were happy to see them again. Sunnyside Up (Laura) had to take some time off for an injury to her feet. Hopefully she is healthy enough to keep going on. Also Gi Gi caught up with us while we had dinner. We had not seen her for three weeks either. We bumped into her in the hotel in Tehachapi. Her husband came down from Northern California to take her away to Las Vegas for a few days. It was good to see our friends again.

image

DSC03049-5-23-15

DSC03055-5-23-15

imageimage

Down Time in Tehachapi

Day 38, 39, 40 – 5/20, 5/21, 5/22
Tehachapi
Miles – 0
Total Miles – 591.0 (PCT 566.5)DSC03003-5-21-15
5/20
The residents of Tehachapi really like to help hikers. Will and I had to walk 1.5 miles to the post office to get our re-supply box. As we walked over, a car pulled up and asked if we needed a ride to the post office. We said yes. We picked up two boxes at the P.O. and as we began to walk back to the hotel, another vehicle pulls up and asks us if we needed a ride to town. Again we accepted. In a very short time we were back in our room organizing our gear.
Later in the day, all four Ravens walked 1.5 miles to the other end of town. We got lunch, snacks, and new shoes for Mama Raven. After trying a number of different shoes, she settled on a men’s 4E wide New Balance shoe.
Mama Raven has soaked her feet several times in warm water and Epson Salts, trying to see if that would help her swollen and inflamed feet.

DSC02976-5-21-15

DSC02980-5-21-15

DSC02960-5-21-15

DSC03031-5-23-15

DSC03013-5-21-15

5/21
One of Mama Raven’s feet is feeling a little better, the other is the same. We continued to soak Mama Raven’s feet. We have been debating if we should take Mama Raven to a medical clinic to have her feet looked at. After breakfast, I bumped into Smokey outside our hotel room. He was getting ready to get back on the trail. I was talking to him and found out that he is a professor of medicine and chief of the division of experimental medicine at UC San Francisco. I asked him if he could take a look at Mama Raven’s feet. He said yes. We found Mama Raven sitting on the bathroom counter, soaking her feet in the sink while she was working on photographs on the tablet. After Smokey took a photograph of Mama Raven, he looked at her feet. He quickly diagnosed her with some condition we never heard of. Her toes are so swollen that her whole toe nails have become ingrowned and an infection has set in. He also said that what she is doing, soaking and staying off of them, is the best thing she can do for them. Mama Raven’s body, he said, is already fighting off the infection so he did not recommend getting antibiotics for the infection. He added, it is always better if possible, to let the body heal itself than to take antibiotics.
Today was the day that friends of ours from Fallbrook are coming up to visit. The occasion is an early birthday party for Little Crow and to get Will and his friends together. We had a quiet morning waiting for company to arrive with much anticipation. Mid-morning Denise and Cheryl showed up with Ely, William, and Tyler. Sadly, David had gotten sick so he and Karin were unable to come. They brought all kinds of snacks, brownies, caramel and chocolate dipped apples, birthday candles and balloons for the celebration. Cheryl and Denise also got Little Crow a wide headband for her hair, rainbow loom bands so she can make bracelets and temporary tattoos. The kids have school in the morning so they left around 5:00 p.m. Everyone had a really fun time. Thank you Cheryl and Denise for making the gathering happen. It meant a lot to all of us, but especially for Little Crow and Will!

DSC03023-5-22-15

5/22
The weather was supposed to be bad yesterday, but it wasn’t. Just a little cloudy. This morning was a different story. It had rained over night and was foggy and very cold this morning. As we had breakfast, it started to rain again. It lasted for several hours. We agreed we would still get back on the trail today.
One of Mama Raven’s feet is looking very good. The other is better, but still inflamed. As the morning went on we kept checking the weather, it kept raining  and stayed terribly cold; then the clouds dropped down into the valley.  We knew that leaving here we would have to hike up and into those clouds.  After much contemplation, we changed our mind and have decided it would be best to stay one more night. This will let the weather pass and Mama Raven to heal more. Three zeros in a row makes it hard to get hiking again, especially with heavy packs and eight days of food.  It was a quiet day in the hotel room watching Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch and Alaska’s Bush People. I believe Animal Planet’s Monster Week was also watched, however Little Crow got too scared. In the afternoon, Will and Little Crow started to go stir crazy so we decided to walk to the far end of town to a Baskin Robbins ice cream store. Today, Little Crow met a hiker in the hotel lobby named Nailz, a young women hiking the trail who has lost six toenails since the beginning of her hike. Nailz commented that she liked the temporary butterfly tattoos Little Crow had on her face. Nailz asked Little Crow if she would trade something for some tattoos. The final trade was two tattoos for two small snicker bars and the business deal was concluded with a hand shake!

Little Crow and Nailz, tattoos for Snickers bars

Little Crow and Nailz, tattoos for Snickers bars

Tehachapi

Day 37 – 5/19/15
Tehachapi
Miles – 13.3
Total Miles – 591.0 (PCT 566.5)

image

Last night’s wind was some of the strongest we have had. I really thought that the tent would be torn apart. As we lay in the tent, we could hear the wind moving up the hill through the dead trees (we are camped on a knoll in an old burn area), and then it would hit us. It was loud and the strong gusts would nearly flatten the tent. There were no rocks to pile on to the tent stakes so I had to use three logs held down with piles of dirt to hold the stakes in place. If I did not do this, every time the wind came through, the stakes would come out and the whole tent would collapse on us. Will and Little Crow’s tent faired better because their tent was behind ours and thus protected. Since the side of my tent was acting like a sail it would fill with air, I hooked two of our hiking poles together and set them on the inside of the tent, pushing out the tent side, trying to keep it from collapsing. This helped a lot. Little Crow was afraid, so I went inside their tent to calm her down. At some point in the night the wind let up and we all finally fell asleep.
There are two ways to go into Tehachapi, the first is a road in 5 miles and the second is Hwy 58 in 13 miles. We hiked to Hwy 58 because there is a bus we can catch that goes into Tehachapi and the starting of our next section.  It also cuts down our next waterless section from 25 miles to 17 miles. In the morning we hiked through a windmill farm and finally get to Hwy 58 at about 1:30. It was a slow hike because Mama Raven’ s feet were causing her problems. The next bus comes by in two hours so we settled in to wait. After about 15 minutes, a car drove up and a man asked if we needed a ride to town. We all piled into his car and he took us to our hotel. In a short time we are settled into a room. Our first task was showers for everyone. We last washed our hair in Agua Dulce, six days ago. Our last shower was in Wrightwood was 12 days ago. Yep a long time, but there has been very little water and few places to bath.
We will be taking two zeros here and maybe a nero. Hopefully this will give enough time for Mama Raven’s feet to get better. We are thinking that Mama Raven’s new shoes we got at Lake Hughes are the root of her feet ailments. The toe box is smaller than her old shoes and they are compressing in on all sides of  the ball and toes of her feet. Tehachapi has a Big Five Sporting Goods Store, so hopefully we can get some new shoes for Mama Raven.

image

Windy

Day 36 – 5/18/15
On a ridge heading down toward Tiger Tank
Miles – 20.4
Total Miles – 577.7 (PCT 553.2)

DSC02875-5-18-15

The wind blew most of the night but the tents were in a location that was shielded from most of the wind.  As we left our camp, the wind hit us full force. The wind was blowing down out of the Tehachapi mountains and out into the desert. I have a hunch it is always windy like this, because there are hundreds of windmills around us. We hiked for 8 miles to Tylerhorse Creek and almost the whole time we were pushed around by the wind. It takes 10 miles for the PCT to pass through the windmill farm. There are several hundreds of these giant windmills. They are 350′ high with the props stretching even higher. They are constantly spinning creating a loud wind storm sound. Some have a high pitch whistle sound, while others moan and groan as if in agony. One of our favorite things about the desert is how absolutely quiet it is however with so many windmills around us, it is far from quiet.
We at last left the windmill farm and entered Tylerhorse Canyon where the wind let up. Tylerhorse Creek is the last water for 24 miles so we filtered all we needed. The water in the creek was warm but it is better than nothing. At the small creek, a hiker named Mike (aka Smokey) joined us. We have not seen him in weeks. We first met him the first day on the trail. He had to get off the trail for a short time because his wife got sick. She is fine now and Smokey is back on the PCT.
From the canyon, we headed up into the Tehachapi mountains. We climbed back up to over 5000′. Mama Raven’s feet were hurting across the balls of the foot. She had loosened her laces as much as she could, but the shoes were still to tight. At lunch we took the next step and cut her shoes so the toe box would open up more. We are hoping this will help, but it is to soon to tell. Her feet are hurting badly.
The rest of the day we worked our way up into the mountains. In the late afternoon we came upon a water cache, I guess I did not have to carry all the extra water from Tylerhorse Creek.  The water cache also had several chairs for the hikers to enjoy. Therefore, we decided to have dinner here before heading down. Smokey showed up and had his dinner too. After dinner we started down toward Tehachapi. The wind had come up again and we wanted to get low enough to get out of it. Well that did not work. As I write this, my head is holding up our tent. A peg has been pulled out by the wind, again. It will be a long night.

DSC02866-5-18-15

DSC02896-5-18-15

DSC02901-5-18-15

Smokey

DSC02903-5-18-15

DSC02914-5-18-15

DSC02922-5-18-15

Mojave Desert

Day 35 – 5/17/15
After power lines, before Cottonwood Creek
Miles – 21.2
Total Miles – 557.3 (PCT 532.8)DSC02679 5-17-15 bigToday we headed out into the Mojave Desert. There were high clouds when we got up this morning. They would shield us from the sun, somewhat.
We were a little slow hiking to Hiker Town. Hiker Town is a house at the edge of the Mojave. The owner has set up quite a few small buildings with old west themed facades. Thru-hikers can stay the night in one or camp on the lawn. There is a kitchen, bathroom, shower, and laundry, all for the hikers. We stopped by for water. This is the last water source for 24 miles. We ended up also washing our socks and eating. There also was a sweet dog named Rusta that Will and Little Crow got to play with.  We stayed a little longer than we wanted to but finely we got going, and out into the desert we went.
The hiking across the Mojave is easy. For the most part, it is flat and smooth. We went over to the California aqueduct and hiked along it for more than a mile. Then we turned north and hiked on to of the Los Angeles aqueduct. For the first 6 or 7 mikes, the Los Angeles aqueduct is a large metal pipe that we walked on top of. Then the aqueduct goes underground and we hiked on its cement top. We hiked on top of it for most of the day. During the hike, we ran into a section hiker named GoalTech. He was SoBo (south bound). A few miles earlier, his parents in a car stopped us and asked us if we were The Ravens? We said yes. They said they have been following our blog and were hoping to run into us. They were out meeting their son GoalTech. They mentioned that we would be bumping into him very shortly and that he was delivering treats to the hikers he meets. When we ran in to GoalTech he had attached to his backpack a large mesh bag filled with every type of chips imaginable. He was passing them out to the hikers. He also had a big bag of Carmel Nips. Mama Raven said he needed the trail name of Nips & Chips. It was a fun and unexpected divergence from our monotonous aqueduct hiking… Finally, near sunset, we turned off of it and headed toward a windmill farm. A man in a big black pick-up truck offered us a ride up the trail. It takes a lot of will power to turn a ride down, especially at the end of the day when you are tired and short on miles for the day. We kindly turned him down because to except the ride would be cheating. In the hiking world, it is called yellow blazing to skip a part of the trail by getting rides. One does not want the title as a yellow blazer, thus we walked on!  Currently we are camped just west of some huge windmills. Tomorrow we will head back to the aqueduct and continue on toward the Tehachapi mountains.DSC02684 5-17-15 big

image

DSC02705-5-17-15

DSC02720-5-17-15

DSC02737-5-17-15

DSC02740-5-17-15

DSC02753-5-17-15

DSC02756-5-17-15

DSC02774-5-17-15

image

DSC02805-5-17-15

DSC02808-5-17-15

DSC02811-5-17-15

DSC02813-5-17-15

DSC02819-5-17-15

image

DSC02825-5-17-15

DSC02839-5-17-15

DSC02841-5-17-15

image

Alex and Ryan

Will was reading his early blog “Will’s thoughts about hiking the PCT”. He noticed that Ryan and Alex’s name were missing from the the list of friend’s he would miss while he is gone. I (mom) have a confession. Shortly after I typed it in Will’s blog entry from Will’s rough draft, Will informed me that I needed to add them. I told Will that I would fix it. Unfortunately, during the chaos of preparing for our departure date, I forgot. Will is deeply concerned about hurting his friends feelings. I told Will we can title a whole blog after the two of them. Will’s mom owes Alex, Ryan and Will a super sized apology for my oversight!

Oaks in the fog

Day 34 – 5/16/15
Edge of the Mojave Desert
Miles – 22.0
Total Miles – 536.1 (PCT 511.6)

DSC02416-5-16-15

The wind blew all night, but we had setup our tents under a big tree and it protected us all night. We started the day by finishing yesterday’s road walk. We went for about 1 mile and found the dirt road, that led to a trail, which led to another trail, that finally got us back to the PCT.  Not many hikers are coming up this way. Most are walking the road all the way to Hiker Town. We are trying to stick to the trail. As we hiked the ridge west, we went through some very beautiful country of green grass and oak trees. Mama Raven could not keep her camera in her pocket. In the afternoon, the clouds rolled over the ridge top and we hiked up into them. When we were on the south side of the ridge, the wind blew hard. It was cold and everywhere you looked was thick chaparral. Fog was everywhere. The trail finally crossed to the north side and the weather got nicer. It was still foggy but there was no wind and the chaparral was replaced with oaks and grassy hills. Ann took several hundred pictures. She really enjoyed this place.
Finally, after miles of walking west, the trail turned north and headed down to the Mojave Desert. Tomorrow we will cross the Mojave. It will take us several days to get across and over towards Tehachapi, our next food drop.DSC02389-5-15-16

image

DSC02409-5-15-15

DSC02418-5-16-15

image

DSC02425-5-16-15

DSC02430-5-16-15

DSC02445-5-16-15

DSC02449-5-16-15

DSC02455-5-16-15

image

DSC02466-5-16-15

DSC02504-5-16-15

image

image

DSC02533-5-16-15

DSC02540-5-16-15

image

DSC02544-5-16-15

image

DSC02563-5-16-15

DSC02616-5-16-15

DSC02641-5-16-15

Little Crow

Day 33 – 5/15/15
Before Bushnell Summit (road walk)
Miles – 9.2
Total Miles – 514.1(PCT 479.8)

Will, Terry, Joon, and Justa

Will, Terry, Joon, and Justa

It was a slow start leaving the Anderson’s house. Mama Raven and I slept really well on the sofa. Mama Raven was concerned with so many hikers in one room there would be at least one person that would snore making sleep difficult. Instead everyone was as tired as we were and slept soundly and quietly. We were the first up and had to wait for everyone sleeping in the living room to wake up. Although others could have been up too, thinking the same way we were. Everyone was probably awake and contemplating yesterdays hiking adventures in the rain and being thankful for trail angels like the Andersons. At an unknown time, Joe came in on his way to the kitchen to start making breakfast for fifty hikers: pancakes. All morning, there was a steady stream of people coming in to get them. Will and Joon got hot chocolate with their pancakes. As Joe worked on breakfast, Terry would transport hikers to the trail head. The Ravens were not quite ready to go yet because we needed to wait for some of our clothes to dry. The Anderson’s drier got a lot of use the past 24-hours. With that many hikers using the drier, we had to be careful not to loose anything. While that was happening, we worked on getting everything back into the packs. It was surprising how much stuff was taken out and not just by us, but all the hikers. In the chaos of the Anderson’s house, again, we had to be careful not to loose anything. By the time the cloths were dry and on, the four of us were packed and ready to go. It was around 10:30. Terry had just left to take a group of hikers to the trail head so we walked down to the store and picked up a few goodies for today’s hike. Shortly, we loaded our packs into Terry’s car and headed off to the trailhead. We said our thank you and goodbye to Terry and off we went up the trail. It was 11:30, a very late start, but well worth it! Besides, we only needed to get to the post office in Lake Hughes, 8 miles.
The first thing the trail did was to climb up a ridge. As we climbed up, the clouds were breaking up everywhere around us except for our mountain we were climbing that was shrouded in fog. As we crested, we could see out into the Mojave and it was all sunny. We spent the next few hours walking trail and road until we reached the valley floor and Pine Canyon Road. We walked this road to get to the post office. Opening up a food drop box can take time, especially with four of us. There is reorganizing, going through the backs looking for trash (Will and Joon stick trash in every nook and cranny of their packs), going through the uneaten food and deciding to get rid of it or not, testing the new shoes, and talking to passerby’s in the PO. It took 2 hour before we were done and back to hiking. One good thing in our box was new shoes for everyone. The soles of our old shoes have become very thin and you can feel every rock. Will’s old shoes had big holes in them. While we were at the PO we met a hiker named Tattoo Joe. He has hiked over 20,000 miles and use to hold the speed record for hiking the PCT. Tattoo Joe gave Joon a trail name, Little Crow. She liked it! Now Will needs a name. We hiked out of the Lake Hughes Post Office in high spirits. . . new shoes, new supply of food and a new name for Joon.
Our trail followed a busy road for seven miles due to a fire closure. As the sun was almost down, a car pulled over to the side of the road we were walking along. A women we had never met got out of the car and said “hello Ravens”.  It turns out, she was Margaret, who has been following our blog and leaving messages on it. After a good conversation with her, we said good bye. We hiked two more miles before we made camp underneath a Huge oak tree along the side of the road.DSC02334-5-15-15

image

DSC02357-5-15-15

DSC02360-5-15-15

DSC02364-5-15-15

DSC02374-5-15-15

Angel in the rain

Day 32 – 5/14/15
Casa De Luna
Miles – 21.4
Total Miles – 504.9 (PCT 478.2)
DSC02246-5-14-15
We woke up this morning to very wet tents. The condensation was very bad and we had water dripping off the inside of the tents. Even the sleeping bags were wet. At some point we will have to dry everything off. Clouds moved in over night due to the storm that is coming. As we climbed up away from Agua Dulce we kept an eye on the clouds.
We crossed the first range of mountains without any problems and on the other side we found a place to dry out. We laid out the tents and sleeping bags. As we sat eating and flipping everything over that was drying, it started to rain. We quickly packed everything. We had gotten most of it dry and we did not want to let it get wet again.
We put up our umbrellas as we stared to hike up the next ridge. The rain was coming down pretty hard for about a half hour and then it let up. For the rest of the afternoon we climbed up and down ridges and the rain came and went. There was also a freezing wind that blew the rain up underneath the umbrellas. It was impossible to stay dry. In fact we were soaked. It is not fun when the rain is being blown sideways for most of the afternoon.  We were trying to get to a road in Green Canyon. There are two trail angels who are in that area and we were hoping for some help. We were 6 miles out when I started to call both. I got no connection. All we could do was kept moving to stay somewhat warm. The day was getting late as we came around the last mountain top and through the rain, at the bottom of the valley, we could see a car picking up hikers, but as we were coming down the car left. Finally after 6 straight hours of hiking, without stopping, or not eating, we came to the road. We were tired, wet, hungry, and not looking forward to setting up damp tents for the night. We straightened our umbrellas and walked to the road.  There was a white van sitting there and a lady came out. She was Terry Anderson from the Casa de Luna, a family that takes in thru-hikers.  She asked if we would like to dry out and have something to eat at her house.  Of course we said yes.  She drove all of us back to their house. There are upward of 50 hikers here, hiding from the rain. Most of them have been here a day or so and they had their tents set up in the back yard. Terry and Joe, opened up their entire house to the hikers to recover from the days ordeal. Terry made a huge taco salad for all the hikers. She also got all of our wet gear into the dryer.  Tomorrow will be a much better day with everything dry.  We did not have a chance to put our tents up before it got dark therefore, Terry put Will and Joon in a second bedroom and Mama Raven and I slept on a sofa. There was a hiker sleeping in every chair, sofa, floor space, even in the garage. We were warm and dry after such a miserable wet day.  Trail Angels are good people!

DSC02227-7-14-15
DSC02231-5-14-15

DSC02238

DSC02251-5-15-15

DSC02258-5-14-15

image

DSC02277-5-14-15

DSC02287-5-14-15

image

DSC02323-5-14-15

Agua Dulce

Day 31 5/13/15
Just outside of Agua Dulce
Miles – 20.8
Total Miles – 483.5 (PCT 456.8)
image
It was for once a warm night and everyone sleep well. We woke with damp tents. We broke camp quickly, got water, and head down toward Soledad Canyon. This morning we have more than 8 miles of mostly down. We made it to the bottom quickly and then started up the valleys toward Agua Dulce. We really wanted to get there because there is a store and pizza place.
In the mid afternoon we got to Vasquez Rocks. They are a neat formation of conglomerate rocks that have been lifted and tilted. We took are time walking through them. When we got to the picnic area we stopped to wash our hair. It had been 5 days since we had access to a shower so we had to get our hair clean somehow, so under the faucet everyone’s head went. As we were waiting for our hair to dry, Mama Raven found that she had two new blisters. By far Mama Raven has had the most blisters of all of us. We are hoping the new shoes, she will be getting, will help. We will have to wait and see.
We walked into Agua Dulce in the later afternoon and went to the pizza place first. After consuming at half Hawaiian, half BBQ pizza we stopped by the store to pick up some goodies and something for breakfast. By this time it was getting late and we still needed to hike out of town. We hit the trail, the main road through Agua Dulce, just as the sun was setting. We hiked the 2+ miles out of town and went just far enough that no one would see us and set camp. At the speed we are hiking we should get to Lake Hughes on Friday, one day early.
image

DSC02157-5-13-15

DSC02164-5-13-15

DSC02165-5-13-15

DSC02219-5-13-15

DSC02223-5-13-15

24 Miles

Day 30 – 5/12/15
North Fork Range Station
Miles – 24.0
Total Miles – 462.7 (PCT 436.0)
DSC02143-5-12-15
Oh the wind last night! It blow hard all night long. I had to go outside seven times to put stacks in after the tent blow down. Early in the morning I was out putting a stake back in when Will got out of his tent doing the same to his. It is good to know he will fix the tent on his own, especially when the tent falls on his head.
Our first stop of the morning was at the Mill Creek Summit fire station, for water. The next water is over 17 miles away. We hiked the six and a half miles quickly and without a break. Our endurance is definitely getting stronger. We then climbed up on to a ridge and followed it west. From the top of the ridge we had great views out into the Mojave Desert. Everything looks a lot closer, yet we still have six or seven days before we cross it.
The hiking along the ridge was easy except for the Poodle Dog Brush. It had been cut back but it still hung over the trail and the plants were everywhere. We spent a lot of time dodging it. Everyone thinks they got it at least once. Only time will tell.
As the day went on, we realized that we were making good time and if we pushed we might make it to the North Fork Range Station. That would be a big mile day. Since the trail was winding in and out of ravines on a steep hill, we had to commit to going all the way or camping early. We went for it. We walked into the North Fork Range Station camping area with just enough light to see. We had hiked a 24 mile day. This was the biggest mile day for the kids ever. We quickly pitched camp and now everyone is asleep but me, but I will be joining them in just a minute.DSC02116-5-12-15

DSC02130-5-12-15

DSC02151-5-12-15
image

Poodle Dog Bush

Day 29 – 5/11/15
On the ridge before Mill Creek Ranger Station
Miles – 19.5
Total Miles – 438.7 (PCT 412.0)DSC02099-5-11-15
It seems every blog entry we make begins with this statement:  another cold night! Well, this one is not going to be any different . . .it was cold last night!!!  Everyone felt it. Both tents had condensation and our sleeping bags were damp. After packing, we started to hike the last of the alternate route. It was all down hill and we got back on to the PCT quickly. Our trail headed back up to Hwy 2. As the day went on, we crossed Hwy 2 three more times. Most of the day we paralleled the highway. At one point during the day, the Hwy 2  was directly above us about 50 feet. On the steep, dirt hill below the road, there were all types of car parts, and broken glass that did not stop until 50 more feet below us at the bottom of a rocky ravine. The car had already been removed, you could see the fresh drag marks up the dirt hill from where it had been pulled. In our heads, we kept hearing the warnings about the roads on the weekends! Our hike is now starting to carry us to the west and down out of the San Gabriel mountains. Soon we will be back in chaparral and then the desert.
We past through one of the many burned areas in southern California. This is the area of the dreaded poodle dog brush. A plant that grows after a burn occurs. This plant will cause itching similar to Poison Oak but worst. Ann brushed up against it three times. She washed her legs after each brushing but she is worried that she will start to itch. We will have to wait and see what happens. It takes two weeks for the first sign of a rash to appear. Tomorrow is a detour around a very bad section of PDB but we heard that a trail crew cleaned it out last month. If it were not for the work of volunteer trail crew, like The Trail Gorillas and Pounders Promise, we thru-hikers would have a much more difficult time hiking this trail. As Mama Raven was hiking down the trail she was singing along to the tune of Winnie the Pooh’s Heffalumps and Wossels but instead saying rattlesnakes and poodles. Both ominous creatures to look out for in this section of the trail!
Two thru-hikers we have been bumping into for weeks is Ed and Ashley. They are a daughter-in-law and a father-in-law team. The last we saw them was the evening before Cajon Pass. They hiked on to the Best Western. We though they had held up in the Best Western for that storm. What actually happened is that they hiked out about a half day later than us and were caught in the storm. Instead of going down to Wrightwood on the Acorn trail, like we did, they hiked 6 miles, at night, with strong blowing wind and snow, to get to Hwy 2. Someone was supposed to meet them but no one was there. It was to cold to stop moving so they started to hike down. Someone in a car came by and gave them a ride to Wrightwood. I’m glad we made the choices we have, it was safer for everyone.

DSC02094-5-11-15

DSC02101-5-11-15

DSC02110-5-11-15
image

image

image

Endangered Species Alt

Day 28 – 5/10/15
Buckhorn Flat Campground
Miles – 20.8
Total Miles – 419.2 (PCT 390.2)
DSC02056-5-10-15
Happy Mothers Day! It was another cold night. We were a bit slow getting going. Once on the trail we started up Mt. Baden Powell. With our very heavy packs, it took several hours to climb to the top. It is a 3,000 ‘ climb in 4 miles. We only stopped once the whole climb. At the top, the wind was blowing so we did not stay long, we each ate a bagel with cream cheese and an apple and hiked out. On the way down, we bumped into Doug, a young man whose goal is to hike the entire length of the PCT with a heavy 65 pound backpack. As we moved down the ridges, we could see the mountains near Tehachapi. They are the southern foot hills of the Sierras, and are our next major goal of the PCT. They are roughly two weeks away.  The rest of the day we hiked along a series of ridges, slowly dropping down to Hwy 2. We had to cross it several times today.
Our big obstacle today was the endangered species (frog) alternate route. There are two choices of trail:  the first loops around the closed section of trail, dropping thousands of feet only to climb back up again for a total of 20 miles. The second choice adds about 1 mile of hiking, but requires a 2.7 mile road walk along Hwy 2. We have been warned to avoid this road on the weekends because it is heavily driven, and often times by people who like to drive fast on the curvy highway, thus making it dangerous!  Today is Sunday, however we knew it would be late in the day when we reached this section of the trail. We were hoping that fewer people would be on the road at that time of the day on a Sunday. We started the road walk a little after 6:00. By the time we got to the end, the sun was down and only 15 vehicles had past us. Our thinking process worked! We are tired. We found a campsite, set up the tents, ate dinner, and went to bed. It has been a long day.  We pushed ourselves hard to get where we are tonight.
DSC02037-5-10-15

DSC02078-5-10-15

image

image