Now that was a hard day

Yosemite
8/29/18
Miles – 14.2
Total miles – 232.87


It was darker than normal when we woke. There were clouds covering the sky to the east and they were blocking the morning sun. We ate, packed, and started off for Clouds Rest. It did not take long to reach its summit. The views were wonderful in all directions. We did not stay long because there was a cold wind blowing from out of the East. As we started down we could see Half Dome below us to the South. It took a few hours to reach the trail junction for Half Dome. We stashed our packs a ways off of the trail, took one bottle of water and started for Half Dome. The climb was not bad until we came to the first quarter dome. It had steps going up one side. The climb was slow. As we rounded it’s top we came to the cables. Mama Raven was not looking forward to this. They are posts about every 10 feet with a 2×4 to stand on. Slowly we worked our way up. It was very hard work and it tired our hands and arms as well as our legs. After an eternity, we reached the top. We spent some time at the top, resting, taking pictures, and peeking over the edge. We found a hole in the middle of the top where a dropped rock would make noise for about 15 seconds. Finally, it was time to head down. Walking down the cables is easier than going up. You have to stand up and control your speed with your hands. Your hands do get very tired. Finishing the cables we hiked down the quarter dome and back to our packs. All and all it took about four hours to summit Half Dome and return. Now came a very long down, all the way to the valley floor. We took the fastest route down, our tired leg protesting the whole way. We finally reach the bottom around 5:30. We took the first bus to backpacks camp and setup. It was a very hard day and we are all very tired.

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Not a hard day

Near Clouds Rest
8/28/18
Miles – 16.5
Total miles – 218.67


It was another cold night and we were not in a hurry. The store did not open until 8:00. We got up and talked with Catwater and the other volunteers before packing. Soon it was time to head off. We said our goodbyes and walked over to the store. We picked up some bear claws and drinks and sat in the meadow eating. Finally, it was time to start hiking. Our first objective was Glen Aulin. We have been out that way a number of times. There are a few locations where there are large flat slabs of granite with the Tuolumne River passing by. It is really pretty. Just before we reached Glen Aulin we took a trail south to McGee Lake. From the point all the way to Half Dome is trail we have never been on. Something new. After passing McGee Lake we did a few ups and downs and after a few hours we arrived at Tenaya Lake. We took a long break there and soaked our feet. Soon after leaving Tenaya Lake we started a long steep up. We did not expect this, but we pushed through. Late in the day we stopped at the only barely flowing water to filter and cook dinner. After eating, we decided to push on a little more. With the mountains painted in reds and oranges, with the setting sun, we came to a flat area and stopped for the night. Tomorrow we will summit Clouds Rest, Half Done, and hiking down to The Valley.

A change of plans

Tuolumne Meadows
8/27/18
Miles – 0
Total miles – 202.17


We have a problem at Sonora Pass, a fire has closed the trail North of it. Our Sonora Pass resupply boxes have been sent home twice. We could leave Tuolumne Meadows and hike North to Sonora Pass, but how do we get off the trail? We have decided to cut our trip short. Today we picked up a permit to hike to Glen Aulin then turn South and head to Tenaya Lake, pass it and hike over Clouds Rest, summit Half Done, and then on into The Valley. This is a lot shorter than what we were planning, but that is ok. It’s a vacation.
Today we spent time seeing Tuolumne Meadows. We picked up and sorted our box. We mailed home the extra food. We hiked around Lembert Dome and sat along the Tuolumne River. It was a quite easy day.

Catwater

Tuolumne Measures (940.84)
8/26/18
Miles – 14.53
Total miles – 202.17


It was a warm night, but it was a little hard to sleep with a full moon and no trees to block the light. Toward morning my phone said that it was 4:30. We started to wonder why it was so light at 5:00. By 5:30 we decided to eat breakfast and get an early start. Around 6:00 Whisper informed us that her watch said it was 7:00. I realized that my cell phone was an hour off. Every now and then, when a cell phone is not connected to a tower, it can lose track of the time. This was going to be a later start. We packed quickly and were hiking by 7:20. Our trail climbed up Donohue Pass. A cold wind was blowing as we hiked out of the trees and up the rocky valley toward the pass. It was only two miles to the top so it did not take us long. We stopped long enough for a few pictures before heading down. The winds stayed with us until we dropped to the first hanging valley. On the way down Bling saw a large Black Bear, which was brown. We took at break and ate something before we heading down to Lyell Canyon. Now the hiking became very easy. Lyell Canyon is very flat. There rest of the day we headed toward Tuolumne Meadows. We took a side trail to the campground and set up our tents in the backpackers camp. Then it was off to the store for drinks and dinner. We took our drinks and dinner across the road and sat in the meadow eating. Once we finished I went to the grill to return the tray. As I was leaving I saw Catwater.
Catwater is a thru-hiker we meet on the PCT in 2015, we saw her for 5 minutes in the middle of Washington in 2016, we started and hiker a lot of the CDT with her last year, and here she is this year. We knew she volunteers in the Yosemite Park every year, but we did not know when she will be here this year.
After saying hi to her I sent her out to see Mama Raven.  Catwater and Mama Raven decided to move our tents to their group camp and we visited with Catwater will past hiker midnight.

An easy day

Beyond Rush Creek (927.24)
8/25/18
Miles – 12.39
Total miles – 187.64


We had a good night’s rest in a warm room. Around 7:00 we went down for breakfast, then returned to our room to finish packing. We headed out of the hotel a little before 8:00. We made a quick stop at Shachts for bread before heading to the bus stop. Our timing was a little off and we had to wait 20 minutes for the next bus to The Village. From there we cough the bus for Reds Meadow, but we did not go there far. We got off at Agnew Meadow. Now the climb started. The trail goes up the east side of the valley. Almost the whole way up we had wonderful views across the valley, at the Ritter range, Banner peak, and the mountains far to the South. We took a long break and soaked our feet at 1000 Island Lake. This lake is one of the most beautiful lakes along the whole trail. It is very large and dotted with tree covers islands. After a bit we continued on to Islands Pass, one of the flattest passes we know of. In fact, we have trouble knowing where it is. Every time we have crossed it, we try to figure out where the top is, but we are still not sure. After crossing the pass we hiked on to Rock Creek and then kept going toward Donohue Pass. Since the trail is easy once we cross Donohue Pass we decided to start early tomorrow. We had plenty of time to cross the pass today, but we just did not need to rush. We will be in Tuolumne tomorrow with no problem.

Mammoth

Mammoth (906.63)
8/23/18 and 8/24/18
Miles – 17.26
Total miles – 175.25

8/23/18
Last night was cold. Since our camp was in a deep valley near a river we had a cold breeze blowing across the tents all night. We packed quickly and started hiking toward the sun. There was frost on the ground as we went up the valley. It did not take long to reach Tolly’s Hole, a very nice meadow in a hanging valley. At this point the trail climbs the valley wall. Climbing, we soon crossed into the sunshine. About mid way up the valley wall, we had to stop and pull off our coats and long sleeve shirts. Soon we reached the top and the hiking got easier. We continued on and came to the shore of Lake Virginia. There was no wind and the lake was mirror like,  reflecting the mountains to the South. We crossed it’s inlet and hiked over a small ridge and then dropped down to Purple Lake. Here we filtered water and ate before continuing on. The trail sweeps out onto the side of the mountain, traversing North, and then into the next drainage. Soon we came to the cut off to Duck Lake. Here we had to make a decision, do we follow the trail we know, or do we go over Duck Lake Pass to Lake Mary and then into Mammoth. We had never heard of this route into Mammoth and we did not know if there was any transportation into Mammoth. We did not want to get stuck at a trail head so we followed what we knew. Our trail contoured around an edge and followed the ridge down. We stopped once to eat the last of our food, then we hiked on. The terrain changed from granite to volcanic as we dropped towards Reds Meadow. At the last stream crossing, before Reds, we stopped to soak our feet, then it was on to town. We hiked up to the store at Reds Meadow and got food and drinks. Then boarded the bus for Mammoth. We needed to change buses at Mammoth Mountain. I called a hotel and got a room for two nights. As we were waiting for the bus a man asked if we wanted a ride to town so the four of us and one other hiker piled into his old van and off we went. A short time later we were in Mammoth Lakes and in our room. And now we’re off for real food and rest.

8/24/18
There are only a few things we needed to do today. First was to get our small package from the post office. This was a little difficult. It took two trips. First Whisper and I went, but they could not find out package and I had not brought the tracking number. Back to the room we went, then I got there number and headed back. Their system showed that the package was there, but they could not find it. In the end, we discovered that it was filled under Mama Ravens name not mine.
Since breakfast my stomach had been hurting. As the morning went on, the pain became sharper. We went out to get sandwiches and I just felt like laying in bed. We returned to the room and I went to bed. Mid-afternoon Mama Raven went to the post office to mail home a few things and she purchased new shorts. Over the last four days the seat of her old ones had torn out. She sewed them up twice. While she was gone, I ate a little and started to feel better. Around 5:00 I was feeling well enough to walk to the store, with Mama Raven, to buy food for our next section. When we returned to the room we collected up the kids and went to dinner. We went to The Village. As we walked through the plaza there were people everywhere and a band was playing. As I lessened to the music I thought that this group was doing a great job of covering a Journey song, then I realized that it was Journey. We went a place called Burgers for dinner. There was way too much food. None of us could finish our plates. So far my stomach is feeling better so we will be hiking it tomorrow.

A lot of elevation change

Near Fish Creek (889.37)
8/22/18
Miles – 19.38
Total miles – 157.99

Last night was the coldest yet. High clouds covered the sky, but they burned off as the day went on. Today we have a lot of elevation change, over 9000′ of it. We started out by hiking down to the bottom of Bear Ridge. This was several miles and not difficult. Next we climbed to the top of Bear Ridge and traversed across it. The drop on the other side brought us to Mono Creek. We took a nice long break on the smooth, flat rocks edging the river. Once finished, we started the +3000′ climb up Silver Pass. We were not looking forward to this climb because the beginning is in the exposed sun with very little shade. We moved slowly and sweat a lot.  As we gained elevation the temperature drop a bit and we moved off into the trees. We past a beautiful meadow with a slow meandering stream in it. Then we climbed up next to Silver Lake. When we reached the far side, we followed some switchbacks to the pass. From the top we had a great view North and we could see, for the first time, the fire burning southwest of Devil’s Post Pile. There was a thick line of smoke heading east. We did not stay at the top of the pass long before dropping down into the valley in the North side. After hiking for several miles we stopped for dinner near a small stream. With only an hour or two of daylight left, we hiked to Fish Creek then turned up the valley looking for a camp site. A mile later we found one and set up home for the night.

Is that all?

Near Hilgard Branch Ford (869.99)
8/21/18
Miles – 21.56
Total miles – 138.61

It was a cold night. We were not looking forward to what was coming soon, after we started hiking, our first stream crossing where we needed to remove our shoes. We quickly packed and headed to the crossing. Thinking ahead, we all wore a pair of dirty socks. We arrived, put on our Crocs, and crossed the knee deep water. After dropping our packs we pulled off our wet socks and returned to the river to wash them. Once this task was finished we started to hike down Godder Canyon. This is a pleasant hike near a large river. The river drops through a set of waterfalls. At the bottom we stopped for a break and filtered water. There next section is a climb we have never liked.  It goes up to Sender Creek and it is exposed, long, and hot. Of course we came to it in the middle of the day. On the climb we stop once in the only shady place, then continued up to the creek. We were tried. but we needed to push on to Selden Pass. This part of the climb was a bit easier. We past Sally Keys Lakes and stopped for a short rest at Heart Lake. The final push only took 20 minutes and we were at the top. Selden Pass is one of the few passes which has trees on it. The sun had set on the pass and a cold wind was blowing through it, so we hiked on. Quickly, we dropped down to Marie Lake and the sun. We crossed it’s outlet and head down into the valley below. Everyone was running on empty, so we stopped and had dinner before continuing. Bear Creek, a very difficult crossing during the spring melt, had rocks across it. Everyone made it across with dry feet, except for me. I dunked one foot. We set off down the valley looking for a camp site. The sun was hitting the tops of the mountains and it would be dark soon. The place we found is not the best, but you cannot have everything.
After figuring out today’s mileage Mama Raven said “Is that all”. She was hoping for more. Maybe tomorrow.

A good mileage day

McClure Meadow (848.43)
8/20/18
Miles – 19.94
Total miles – 117.05

We had a good night’s rest at the edge of the meadow. With ten miles to the top of Muir Pass we hoped to reach its summit by 2:00. The first five miles were not difficult and we covered the distance easily. Then the trail began to climb. The first lake we came to has no name on the map, but we call it Frog Lake. Every time we come by this lake there are hundreds of frogs and pollywogs. It was no different this time. We took a break while Bling tried to catch a frog. It kept going under rocks so he switched to pollywogs. He caught two. After leaving the lake we started the real climb. We hiked up ridges, along a black river, and around more lakes. After several hours we reached Helen Lake, which is a very large lake just before the pass. We knew that the top of the pass was close, but we needed a rest and some food, so we sat on a flat place looking over the lake. About an hour later we reached the Muir hut. A stone building built in the 30’s in the middle of the pass. Now came more and miles of down. Today’s up and the foot crunching down really hurt Mama Ravens foot. We stopped once to eat and rub out her sore foot. We continued down until the sun had almost set, then we found a camp. There are a lot of people in this area so it was a bit difficult finding a site. Tomorrow we will continue down and then hike over Selden Pass.

Over Mather Pass

Grouse Meadow (828.49)
8/19/18
Miles – 17.11
Total miles – 97.11

It was a warm night and we all sleep real well. Our normal wake up time is 6:00 and usually the kids are already up, but not this morning. I had to get out of my tent and rattle there’s before they woke up. Finally, we had breakfast. We were just fifteen minutes later than normal when we hiked out. The first part of today was 5.5 miles to the top of Mather Pass. This took us about three hours to hike. When we reached the top there were about ten other people up there, all Sobo JMT’ers, so we stopped just for a few minutes and then headed down. Since Whisper, Mama Raven, and I were out of water we stopped at the first creek we came to and filtered 10L. Next, we got down to Lower Palisades Lake and stopped to eat and soak our feet. The Golden Staircase was the next part of the trail we had to tackle. The Golden Staircase is a series of tight switchbacks dropping you down nearly 2000′. It is in the sun, so it is hot. Once down it the trail levels off and keeps dropping until we reached the Middle Fork of the Kings River. There we stopped for dinner. Turning up river, we started the climb up toward Muir Pass. We did not get far before we ran out of steam and stopped for the night. We have 10 miles of up to reach the top of the pass. We will make it tomorrow, but the question is, how far down will we get?

A long hot up

South Fork of the Kings River (811.42)
8/18/18
Miles – 17.92
Total miles – 80.0

Yesterday was hard. It was difficult waking up, especially for Mama Raven. After getting our food from the bear box and packing, our first stop was a spring not 5 minutes from where we camped. Once each water bottle had 1.5L in it, we stared to hike down to Woods Creek. This is an easy hike and we covered the distance in a little more than 2 hours. While soaking our food we had a quick snack. It felt great to cool off our feet. Next, we started a long up, about 7.5 miles to the top of Pinchot Pass. The first half of this climb is not one of our favorite places. The trail is along the Woods Creek, but it is open with very little shade. This piece of trail gets very hot and it seems to go on forever. About two miles up the valley Mama Raven and I came to a beautiful stream cutting across the trail. The kids we a good 10 miles ahead of us. We could not resist. We pulled off our shoes and waded into a clear pool with a small waterfall. We each dunked our head to cool off. Then we dried off and hiked up to the kids, who were wondering what delayed us.  We took a long break at the midday point before continuing on. It took several more hours to reach the top of the pass. We did not stay long because a cloud had parked itself West of us and it was blocking the sun, also there was a cold breeze. Several miles later we reached Lake Marjorie and we stopped beside it to cooked dinner. We needed the energy to get to the bottom of the valley. It was 6:45 when we headed out, we wanted to hike down the last 2.5 miles and cross the South Fork of the Kings River before we found a place to camp.  We set up our tents after the sun had set. Back on the south side of the river is camped a large group of horsemen.  Every now and then we can hear the horses neighing. We will be heading over Mather Pass tomorrow.

A hard day

Rea Lakes (793.48)
8/17/18
Miles – 12.01
Total miles – 62.08

We woke to find that Whisper was feeling better, so we are heading back up. We were hoping to get a ride back to Onion Valley at 6:30, but Jim was not at the motel. After a bit I figured out that he had gone to Lone Pine. So we ate breakfast and waited. He returned around 9:00. After he took care of a few things we loaded our packs into his car and we headed up to Onion Valley. We finally got on the trail around 10:00.
The hike out of Onion Valley is a hard one and we were not looking forward to it. We slowly worked our way back to the spring we camped at several nights ago and stopped for a break to fill our water bottles and eat. To keep the weight down we left  with very little water, knowing we would fill up here. The last 1.5 miles to the pass was tough on Mama Raven and I. Two days off, heavy packs (We are carrying seven days of food), and the attitude took a toll on us. We moved very slowly.  We were happy when we reached the pass, because we had three miles of down before our next climb.  Just before we reached the PCT we took a lunch break and relaxed. There was a flat rock with sun shining on it and Mama Raven tried to take a nap. Clouds were forming up, but never built into thunderheads.  This would become our first rain free day of the trip. Our next objective was to summit Glen Pass. We had about four miles and 1000′ climb.  That should have been easy, but it was not, for Mama Raven and I. We were not moving very fast and we could not get enough air. Our bodies have not adapted to this altitude. We even lost ground acclimating, sitting at 4000′ for two days. We did make the pass, but the kids got there way before us. Now we had a big drop down to Rea Lakes. Toward the bottom Mama Raven was really dragging, she had no energy. With 1.5 hours of daylight left, we were going to stop for a snack, but instead we found a campsite. Yes, we could have gotten 2 or 3 more miles in, but this location has a bear box. The Black Bears in this area are very bad. Using the bear boxes helps us prevent any problems.  With the late start and stopping a bit early we are behind where I hoped we would be. Tomorrow’s fun will be Pinchot Pass.

Rain storms

Spring below Keasarge Pass (R)
8/14/18
Miles – 16.4
Total miles – 47.04

The kids had a better night, but the parents did not. It takes several days for our bodies to get used to sleeping on the ground. We had to keep flipping from side to side because our hips hurt. Morning came cold and clear. That is what you get when you camp at over 12000′. We packed our gear and started hiking before the sun hit is. The valley which leads to Forester Pass is tight with high sides and it takes a awhile for the sun to rise. It did not take long for us to reach the switchbacks at the bottom of the pass, then we started up. Huffing and puffing we reached the top of the pass at 13118′. We took a short break there for pictures and to talk to a ranger, then we started a long down. As we were hiking the 8 miles down to where our trail cuts up out of the valley, thunderstorms began to build up. We stopped for a break at the bottom and it started to rain, then hail, then more rain and hail. We sat under a thick tree, umbrellas out, and watched it come down. After 20 minutes or so it let up and we started the climb. It continued to rain on and off over the next 3 or 4 hours. We hiked up to the cutoff for Bullfrog Lake then we headed east. We are heading out tomorrow to Independence to pick up food the next section. Bling was pushing to go over Kearsarge Pass today and shorten tomorrow. We had plenty of light when we reached the last place to camp before the pass, so we hiked on. This pass is lower than Forester at 11790′ but Mama Raven and I still had a hard time with the altitude. It was slow getting up, but we made it. After reaching the top I had a bloody nose.  The air is very dry and it just started bleeding.  I needed to call the hotel to arrange a time for them to pick us up tomorrow and I was told that I only had phone reception on the pass. I tried to get a signal with my smart phone to no avail. Then I switch to Mama Ravens flip phone. Flip phones have larger antennas and I was able to leave them a message. We started down. Our objective was a spring about a mile over the pass. It did not take long to reach it and we found a good location to camp. We only have about 3 miles to Onion Valley and then we will wait for our ride.

Not bad for the second day

Valley below Forester Pass (776.38 R)
8/13/18
Miles – 15.91
Total miles – 30.64

It was a hard night. Whisper and Bling fell asleep by 7:30. Whisper woke in the middle of the night with a headache. Instead of asking us for a Morton she lay awake, then she drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the night. Bling wake around 1:00 and was ready to get up. He lay there for hours before drifting back asleep. When morning came both kids were ready to get up and not lay in the tents any longer. The day began by climbing up a valley next to Guyot Creek. It is not a big up, but we still had problems with the attitude. The trail went down to a small ridge and around it to Crabtree Meadow.  This is a large meadow near the base of Mt Whitney. We were running low on water, but we decided to continue now a few more miles. At Sandy Meadow we stopped to filter water and eat. Just as we were finishing, it started to sprinkle. Out came our rain coats and pack covers. The thunderstorm was to the South and we were able to hike away from it. We reached Wallace Creek and then Wright Creek. We were getting tired as we climbed up to Bighorn Plateau. Bighorn Plateau had one of the best views in the Sierra’s. The land drops away to the Kern River and you have wide open views for about 270°. Mama Raven would have loved to camp there, but it was too early. The day was getting late as we dropped down to the plateau to Tyndell Creek. After crossing the creek we stopped for dinner. We wanted to get a few more miles closer to Forester Pass so we hiked until the sunset. We were really dragging with we found a place to camp. It is just two flat pads with some rock protecting us. The temperature dropped fast and we are all now snuggled in our sleeping bags.

Well it’s a start

Rock Creek (760.43 R)
8/12/18
Miles – 14.73
Total miles – 14.73

Well, we started another summer backpacking trip. We left home Friday afternoon and drove to Lone Pine.  On Saturday we got our permit and dropped two boxes of at the hotel in Independence. We will be getting back there in several days. In the early afternoon, my sister and her son arrived in Lone Pine. They will be taking our car back to Reno while we hike North. This morning we all went out for breakfast, then loaded up the cars and headed to Horseshoe Meadows. The drive is about 22 miles and we climbed over 6000′.  We unloaded, talked for a bit, then the Ravens started hiking. Two days ago we were in San Diego at nearly sea level and now we were hiking at 10800′. We had to climb up Cottonwood Pass, 11145′ and then go a bit higher to Chicken Spring Lake before we could start down. The altitude was very hard on Mama and Papa Raven. The kids seemed to handle it well. It took us about two hours to reach the pass. By this time the clouds were building. We past Chicken Spring Lake and started the traverse toward the drop to Rock Creek. They was one big clap of thunder and soon it started to rain. We stopped to put on jackets and pack covers. It rained on and off for about an hour.
One nice thing about being up this high is the temperature. Down in Lone Pine it had been over 100°, back home it had been in the mid 90’s, but up here it is the high 60’s. Time for our coats to come out.
Now that the main up for the day was over we had a much easier time hiking. The altitude is mainly a problem only when we are walking up. Working our way across the mountain was not very hard and we moved along quickly. As the afternoon went on we started to slow down. This is our first day and we were feeling it. We decided to stop for the night at the Rock Creek crossing, mainly because it has bear boxes. A few hours before sundown we reached the Rock Creek crossing and found a place to setup the tents. It was earlier than normal, but it is our first day. All and all it was not bad.
Happy birthday, Mama Raven.

And Home Again

Home
4/2/18
Miles – 16.97 (111.39)
Total miles – 69.74
The wind blew all night.  The tents rattled most of the night.  At some point it did calm down a bit, only to pick up toward dawn.  With the miles we have been doing we knew that we would get to our car this afternoon.  The only question was would there be time to drive to the Prius, then to the water cache, and get home before we were to tried to drive.  We packed camp and started up the trail.  There was one other hiker camped on this small shoulder.  He started hiking with us.  Over the next few miles we talked with him.  Has name is Up Hill Hike.  He just retired and is attempting his first long trail.  We all hiked into Barrel Springs.  No one needed water so we just stopped for a break.  Mama Raven checked out the tank the spring flows into and found soft drinks in the cold water.  We split two and took two for lunch.  Up Hill Hike went on while we took a break.  We are very familiar with the trail from here to our car.  This is one of our favorite day hiking areas.  We headed off into the open grassy plains in the toward San Ysidro Creek.  This is a big cattle ranch, but the only cows we saw were way down in the valleys below us.  We have not had a lot of rain this years so the grasses were just now beginning to grow.  Most of the plains were covered with the dried brown grass stalks from last year.  We stopped for a break under the sycamore trees growing over San Ysidro Creek.  We were here one and a half months ago and the creek was not flowing, but the resent rains have revived it.  Mama Raven soaked her hurting feet.  Her planters fasciitis has returned.  We will have to get it resolved before this summers hiking trip.  From the creek the trail climbs up out of the valley and crosses more plains to Eagle Rock.  This is where we were planning on having lunch.  As we approached we could see a group of 12 horsemen around the rock.  We hiked just past the rock to a different outcropping and stopped to eat.  After the housemen left we saw 8 or 9 hikers head off in both directions.  The kids climbed the rocks and we ate our last meal for this short trip.  Soon it was time to head on.  We hiked through more plains and up onto a chaparral covered ridge.  Crossing it we dropped down to Canada Verde Creek.  This creek runs all year, and we followed it all the way to Hwy 79.  Most Thru-hikers walk to the Community Center for a place to camp, food, and showers.  Warner Springs PO is just 1.2 miles north.  But this was not for us.  Our car was on the far side, so we headed around to the second crossing of Hwy 79.  Just before reaching our car we stopped at the deserted campground.  There are picnic tables here and it is covers with huge oak tress.  It is a very nice location.  On our 2015 PCT hike we camped here.  It took a few minutes to find a path to our truck but soon we were driving south.  First stop was the water cache at Scissors Crossing.  Bling and I retrieved the water and placed it with the large cache under the bridge.  Next we all drove back to Mt. Laguna and picked up the car.  An hour and forty-five minutes later we were at home.  All and all it was a good little trip and we enjoyed getting out.

A long climb

Small camp site after 4th gate
4/1/18
Miles – 23.98 (94.41)
Total miles – 52.77
Leaving camp it is a very easy walk to Scissors Crossing. We traversed along the mountainside and then had a long straight section across the desert floor. Before we started this trip we had stashed 4 gallons of water at the far side of the crossing. When we got to the 1st road there was a water stash, some basic supplies, and, since it is Easter, someone had put 4 pies from Julian. We each had a slice. We filled up on water then walked on to the bridge. Under it was a very large water stash and someone was cooking breakfast for the hikers. Two water stashes and we still have not gotten to ours. We decided to not touch ours and, once we had finished the hike, we would drive back and move it under the bridge.
We stared up San Felipe Ridge. This is a very long exposed climb with no natural water. Although, about 12 miles up the ridge is a water cache. The weather was perfect to hike this desert trail, cloudy, cool, and not too windy. It is not unheard of having temperatures in the triple digits. We moved along well, but the hiking is very boring.  You spend a lot of time waking in and out of gullies and small valleys. We did come across a rattlesnake. Bling was passing it when they both saw each other and jumped back. He waited for us to catch up and we all passed it. It was big and brown. In the later afternoon we got to the 3ed gate, the water cache. There were hundreds of gallons of water stacked in boxes. After filling our water bottles we decided to hike a few more miles to 4th gate and stop for the night. When we arrived at the 4th gate there was no place to camp, so we pushed on to the next flat area.  This was a somewhat exposed shoulder.  Right now it is very windy up here and we have only a little protection.  I hope the wind lets up so we can sleep.

First Day

A small saddle
3/31/18
Mile – 22.89 (70.43)
Total miles – 28.79
Today we started to have hiking aches and pains. The hips hurt, the shoulders hurt, the feet hurt, the back hurt. Some high clouds rolled in last night and that soften the sun as we hiked. They thicken a bit this evening. That will make tomorrow cooler, when we drop down into the desert.
For many years we have used Z-Lit Sleeping Pad.  Last night Mama Raven tried an inflatable sleeping pad for the first time and had problems. It’s surface is nylon and she slides around a bit. Also her pad slide around the tent making it hard to stay close to her. We sleep with a single open sleeping bag, like a big blanket, so we have to be near each other.  The last problem was her back; the pad did not support it.  In the morning she had a lot of back pain.  She is going to let Bling and Whisper try the pad for the next few nights.
This was really an easy day of hiking. The trail goes along the top of the Laguna Mountains, just on the eastern edge, where they drop down to the desert. In the afternoon we hiked down to Chariot Canyon Rd.  The trail then come back up and around to the next saddle and our only water source, Rodriguez Spur tank. The water tank was just about empty, but someone had left some bottles of water. We partially filled up. As we were fixing dinner a truck drove up and they stopped to talk to some of the thru-hikers. Soon they were handing out more water. All and all about 11 people got water from them.  After dinner we hiked on, for a few more miles. Just about 7:00 we stopped for the night. We had to walk down to a small saddle to find a flat place to camp.  All the other thru-hikers stayed back at Rodriguez Spur.

Easter trip

Near Mount Laguna Campground
3/30/18
Miles – 5.9 (47.54)
Total miles – 5.9

We are doing a short 3-4 day trip just to get out this spring.  I looked at four or five possible trips and decided on a point-to-point along the PCT.  This trip will give us a chance to stretch our legs and see if there is any improvement in Mama Ravens foot.  At the end of the CDT Mama Raven was a mass of pain.  She hurt in her neck, lower back, throat, and right foot.  All winter she has been seeing doctors trying to resolve all her issues.

We had a lot to finish before we could drive out, so we knew we would get a late start.  All those last minute things add up. What we had not realized was that Bling did not have any decent shoes. We left our house at 11:30. Mama Raven and Bling headed for Big 5.  Whisper and I stopped by the bank and then we meet them at Big 5. We found a pair of shoes and we all headed over to Subway for lunch and a sandwich for dinner.  On the road again we drove to Warner Springs and parked the truck in a shady spot off of the road. We all piled into the Prius and drove to Scissors Crossing. We found a safe place near the trail and stashed 4 gallons of water.  We will be back there in a few days for the water. While looking for a hiding place, Mama Raven realized that she had forgotten her hat.  With the temperatures in the mid 90’s a hat was something she would need. We left Scissors Crossing and drove up to Julian. The town was busy.  I found a parking place and we walked to the nearest clothing store. There Mama Raven found a hat. We left Julian and headed toward Mt Laguna. We made a quick stop at Pioneer Mail to check to see if the water was turned on, it was.  Our next stop was at the Mt Laguna store.  I asked were we could park the car for a few days.  The owner told me about a place just up the road. A short time later we pulled into the empty parking lot and unloaded.  It was 3:30.
The hiking along Mt Laguna was easy.  It is mainly rolling hills covered in chaparral.  Most of the pines were lost in a big fire 5 or 6 years ago. We hiked along easily in the cool mountain air.  Clouds rolled in as we sat and ate our Subway sandwiches. Then we hiked on toward the Mt Laguna Campground.  We found a good place to camp and settled down for the night.

A Beautiful Addiction

Over a month now, we have been home after completing our CDT hike and the longing for the trail will not leave us alone. From past experiences, we know those thoughts will not end until we are hiking again. A short week hike will not do, but a trail of great distance that will allow us to luxuriate in all the goods things of thru-hiking. To walk in nature’s grace for weeks at a time and to sooth the heart and soul in its peace and beauty is a journey worth taking. We, humans, have designed a very complicated and stressful way of life for ourselves. With our hectic lives, humans have simply forgotten how to be human. We are all hurrying to do this or that. For the most part, it is meaningless. We are too busy working and making money, too busy tuned into our media devices, too busy trying to fit 40 hours of activities in a 24 hour period. The goal has become to accomplish tasks the cheapest and fastest way possible. We are quick to judge others without any thought of the individual. Whatever happened to the golden rule that you treat others the way you would want to be treated? Constantly, we are trying to live up to the expectations of society. Brilliantly, we beat ourselves up: not smart enough, not talented enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough, not a good enough parent or spouse, the list can go on and on. Amongst the wild places, it is the one place I have found where my individual self is good enough. This is why I hike. I need to go home to the trees, rivers, and mountains to remind myself that this hectic life is not normal or healthy. It is where all the unimportant elements of our daily lives that drown me simply disappear and what is left are the few essentials necessaries to sustain life. It is then I discover true happiness. Long distance hiking is something I want to experience over and over again to revel in the joy of being alive. Thru-hiking is a beautiful addiction!
I do not presume to be wise and an expert on matters of life and the universe. However, hiking for hours, day after day, week after week, many thoughts and ideas enter the mind. The following are a few thoughts that I pondered as I meandered along: There is a strong and loving connection between us and the natural world. There are reasons for its loving title of “Mother Nature.” If we listen closely, nature has much to teach us. The Hopi Indians, Aborigines, and other indigenous people know of the bound. Thru-hikers and anybody else that spends time in nature know too of this relationship. For those who are willing to listen, nature has much to tell us. As we walk along, the loving and compassionate ways of nature comes right up through the soil and flows up the legs and travels straight to the heart. Blowing gently, the wind rustles the leaves of the trees, that speak of kindness. Reminding how important and powerful the smallest details are, the tiniest flowers break through the hardened soil to show the world that they are important. Pouring down rain with thunder and lightning all around, nature shows how to have grace and elegance even under the worst circumstance. The majesty of mountain peaks can bring tears to the eyes of the toughest souls. There is perfect reciprocity taking place with each branch of nature mingling with one another. When will the physicists of the world see the grandness and potential of the laws of love and beauty? Hopefully, when the hiker goes home, they too can live their lives with the same beauty, grace, and most important, compassion that Mother Nature has so lovingly demonstrated.
Nonetheless, we are home and doing our best to re-adjust back into this normal life, if such a thing is possible. Upon returning to our residence, there was much anxiety. Our little bit of heaven on earth is over and we have rudely been tossed back into the stressful world. Although, hopefully, we can handle all, the hurdles that come our way with grace and elegance that nature showed us so many times on our adventure. Each Raven misses something different. Bling misses the lack of deadlines. Whisper misses the horses and the cold crisp mornings. For Mama and Papa Raven, the list is a mile long of all the items we miss. That will have to wait for another time.
Whisper is adjusting to home life the best. She has always been a homebody and in Whisper’s world, there is no place like home. What she missed the most was our two cats, Ollie and Oggie. In fact, after arriving home and seeing her beloved two cats for the first time in six months, she was overcome with emotion. The two cats were equally happy to see her. We were uncertain of their reaction to us after being away so long. Forgotten us, they did not! All they wanted was to be held and petted, constantly, for weeks after our return. Genuinely happy they were to have their people back. Even Oggie, who is known for his very soft and low volume motor, purred loudly. Finally, Whisper got what she so badly missed, to hold and love her cats.
After arriving home, the kids immediately returned to school. It seemed like a cruel act to inflict upon them after the past six months of living a carefree life of the trail. Each week they missed, made school harder and harder to return. Yes, we homeschool, but we go through Biola University that still has requirements to be met. It is a rigorous program, especially the high school level that Bling is at. He is a sophomore. For World Literature, he has been learning about Plato, Socrates, Homer, and Shakespeare. Physical science has been an introduction to physics and chemistry, which he will take next year. He also is taking geometry, world history, and swimming. Bling is longing for the life of the trail that has no deadlines. Whisper’s schooling is thankfully simpler. They are both back to swimming on the FAST swim team.
The following information is awkward to write about. I simply do not feel comfortable talking about such personal health issues for various reason’s. Because people have asked for information about the issues that I experienced along the way, I will give a brief update. There are hikers out there with far worse hurdles to overcome than I did. Nonetheless, the last month of the CDT were very hard on me. In fact, it seemed during the entire hike, everything possible was thrown at me to see how much I could take before I quit. There were many severe aches and pains I had to contend with. As much as I did not want to go home at the end of the hike, I also said I needed to go home and heal my body or find out what is wrong with the parts that won’t heal. So that is what I have been doing. For my right foot, a cortisone shot was administered to relieve the severe case of planters fasciitis, which throbbed even when I did not walk on it. On the same foot, I was diagnosed with a Morton neuroma. This explains why the pad of the foot hurt also. A cat scan of my sinuses will be performed soon to hopefully find out once and for all what is going on with that situation. Immediately, after returning home, I started seeing a chiropractor for my neck, back, and jaw. The TMJ has reached a level that the simple act of smiling has become painful. Chewing food is now quite an ordeal. We are seeing small improvements with the jaw, however eating is still a painful process. Thus, we are looking into a specialists in the area of TMJ. Three years ago, my neck from disc 4-7 were fused together. Several years prior to the surgery, we were hiking in Oregon and a tree fell down and hit me on the back of my head, causing much problems for my neck. After several years of treatment and pain management, the only solution was cervical fusion. The neck was better after the procedure, however, it still has issues, especially when I hike up hills with a pack on. The neck is held at an unnatural forward position, which results in pain. This will always be an issue as long as I hike. Consequently, the pain doctor I use to see, told me I would have to give up backpacking. As long as I can still walk, that will never happen! I have two successful long thru-hikes on the same neck that is plated and screwed together. I am counting on more hiking adventures for the future. Since the surgery, I have been scared to have my neck manipulated by the chiropractor, however hoping to find some relief from the pain that has been accumulating in the neck, I agreed to have adjustments. Surprisingly, I am having great results! After lower back ex-rays, I have learned that between the last two vertebrates, the discs are worn away. Without their shock absorbers, the vertebrae sit on top of the other and the nerve running through them is not happy about the situation. Seeing the chiropractor three times a week has brought some relief to the lower back, but still it is terribly sore. The writing is on the wall as to what I must do to fix this, however, I do not want another spine surgery. Hoping stem cell surgery advances come soon, I keep pushing aside the idea of surgery, although if I want to feel better now, there is a solution. Oh yes, there is one more issue that I kept silent about on the trip, I am officially lactose intolerant!
In addition to homeschooling and doctor appointments, I have finally begun the daunting task of reviewing and editing the 28,000 images that I took of our CDT hike. It will be several months to complete the task. After that job is done, I will put together a slideshow with music like I did for the PCT. Hopefully, that will be accomplished faster than the PCT slide show. There was a big learning curve for that one. Meanwhile, we will keep plugging along in our day to day life, shoving away as much of the chaos and craziness we can. We will be praying for our friends that have been diagnosed with cancer while we were gone, and we will be dreaming about our beautiful addiction of thru-hiking.

Mama Raven
November 26, 2017