Manning Park

Day 33 – 8/8/16
Manning Park
Miles – 8.6
Total Miles – 519.3 (PCT 2650.1)
It rained over night and the sky was filled with dark clouds when we got up.  It is not a long hike to Manning Park and we knew that we would get there this morning.  Even though we would have a room tonight, we still packed for rain.  It is always better to err on the side of safety.  We started hiking in a light rain.  The trail to Manning Park is a lot different from the PCT.  It is much steeper and less cleared.  The PCT has been designed with horses and hikers in mind so it rarely gets very steep.  The plants have not been cut back for some time so we got very wet walking through them after the mornings rain.
After several hours hiking, we crested a ridge and had our last view of the U.S. shrouded in rain clouds. We took a short break to eat something. Short because to was just too cold to sit for very long. The trail climbed up through a small gap and then started down toward the resort on dirt roads.  The hiking was easy and we made good time. However, Mama Raven slowed us down to take photographs of the mushrooms that lined the path.  Down deep, she does not want the trip to end, so by taking time to take photographs,  the trip lasted a little bit longer.  As we hiked up to the lodge, it started to rain.  We had been lucky to hike the whole way to Manning Park under threatening dark clouds with very little rain.  It was considerate of them to hold off till we reached the resort.  Our task was to get a room.  This did not turn out how we had hoped.  The resort was full.  The receptionist told us that there was camping about a mile back up the road.  The thought of walking to a camp site in the rain with our soggy gear,  was utterly unappealing.   The Ravens had been so looking forward to a warm shower and soft beds with clean dry sheets; the last thing we wanted to do was to head back out into the rain and find a wet campsite.  Papa Raven also checked with the receptionist about our box.  She could not find it and had no record of it arriving.  Lastly, we checked about the outbound buses.  We needed to go from here to Osoyoos to cross back into the U.S. The receptionist informed us that 2 months ago the bus service changed its hours and the bus to Osoyoos would leave the lodge at 3:15 am.  Definitely not a convenient time, especially having to pack the gear in the rain, and walk a mile in the dark to catch the bus.  Postponing the dismal walk to the camp ground,  we settled down in the lodge’s lobby while Papa Raven got on-line to buy bus tickets for the morning’s bus.  While we were sitting there, another hiker came in and inquired about a room.  Mama Raven overheard the receptionist tell him that there were full but there was a hostel he could stay at.  Hostel!  That was our answer.  Mama Raven immediately went and talked to her about it.  She had forgotten about it when she first talked with us.  A short time later, we had two rooms and we headed across the highway to settle into our cozy, dry rooms!  Winning the lottery, could not make us more happy than we were at that moment knowing we did not have to spend another night in the rain. The hostel had showers and a kitchen.  We took turns showering and tried to dry our clothes as best as we could.  The Olympics started a few days ago and we sat by the TV in the kitchen watching them.  Being in Canada,  all the coverage was Canadian specific.  So we rooted for the Canadians.  We consumed a very big dinner at the lodge restaurant.  Little Crow and Bling both ordered nachos separately.   When they arrived to the table, we were shocked at the mountain of nachos that were set before both of them.  Neither of them could finish them.  Mama Raven and I had burgers.  Finally, we headed back to our rooms and to bed because 3:00 will come very fast tomorrow morning.

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Stehekin

Day 28 – 8/3/16
Stehekin
Miles – 9.6
Total Miles – 429.8 (PCT 2569.4)
It was a warm night and we slept soundly after our twenty-five mile day yesterday. With a sigh of relief, we saw blue sky with only a cloud here and there when we poked our heads out of the tents. It looks as if the unexpected storm had passed. We packed up quickly and got hiking. We wanted to catch the 11:00 bus into Stehekin so we had to push ourselves to make it on time. The trail dropped all the way to High Bridge. It is not a steep drop and is easy hiking.  High Bridge is where the bus would pick us up. We made only one stop to eat on the way down. Bling and Mama Raven made it to the bridge first at 11:06. We missed the bus!  We would have to wait for the next one. Gloomily, we hiked on down to the pickup point. There was a bus schedule posted and we noticed that there was not an 11:00 bus, instead it did not arrive until 12:30. Everyone was a lot happier knowing we were not late after trying so hard to be on time. Also we were eager for food, and a place to get clean and to dry out the gear. Stehekin is a small resort located at the North end of Lake Chelan, which is 41 miles long. No roads go into Stehekin. The only way to get to it is by sea plane or boat. The buses and cars that are in Stehekin came over on barges.
On the way into the resort, the bus stopped at the famous Stehekin bakery.  Martha Stewart visited it many years ago and claimed it as one of the best bakeries she had ever been to. Long before Martha Stewart’s discovery of the bakery, long distance hikers on the PCT knew how good it is. Up and down the trail, it is well-known as one of the best places to eat. For hikers, it is a legend. We got pizza, two big ham and cheese croissant, a blueberry Danish, and fruit kuchen.
When we got into Stehekin, we started to look for a room. We disappointedly found out that the lodge was full. Next we tried the ranch, it too was full. We needed showers and clean laundry!! What to do?  The boat from Chelan came up and we went to see how much the fair to the other end of the lake to the town of Chelan. The only problem was that they boat was working on only one out of the two motors and will take twice as long to get there. That would between 8:00-9:00 tonight. So that would not work. We really wanted to clean up. It has been six days of sweat, dirt, mud, bugs and plants in hair. We stink!  We were feeling very sub-human.  Mama Raven said how about look into a sea plane to Chelan.  That would be a treat for every one. The sea plane was $120 per person one way. Too expensive!  Somebody told us about the public laundry and shower and off we went.  There was only one shower and one laundry machine, and of course there was a line of people waiting. Luckily, we were the only ones needing laundry.  We cycled each of us through the shower, one dollar for 5 minutes. As this was going on, we sorted our box. After several hours, we finished and decide to stay at the campground. We walked over and found a spot. At least we had somewhere to stay and we were now clean!  We were human again! We went over to the lodge for dinner around 6:30 and found that Lord Vader was there. We sat and ate with him.  We all had a wonderful time sitting and talking about trail life and life after long distance hiking, especially trying to “melt back into the world of muggles.”  (what thru-hikers affectionately call non thru-hikers).  It is more often than not a difficult transition. Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed our evening with Lord Vader.
We will be back to the trail tomorrow morning. Rain is forecasted for Sunday, we will be nearing the boarder that day. I hope it waits a bit and let us get to Manning Park before it rains.

Leavenworth

Day 21, 22 – 7/27/16
Leavenworth
Miles – 0
Total Miles – 322.3 (PCT 2461.8)
Even through we are not hiking today, we still got up at our normal time. It is a town day and excitement is high!!! Nonetheless, we leisurely packed up and headed over to Stevens Pass Ski Resort before 8:00. This year and last year, the PCT passed through many ski resorts causing Bling and Little Crow to want to try the sport. Papa and Mama Raven use to ski and both love it. However that was many years ago, before owning a house with a mortgage, bills, years of private school tuition, kids and now unemployment. Our response to the kids has always been “one day, it sure would be fun to ski!”  Anyways, we cleaned out our packs of all trash and waited for the store to open at 9:00. When it did open, we ordered four smoothies, ice cream, and our box. We sorted out the box and got the packs ready to go.
At about 8:00 this morning, we started to tried to get bus reservations. Stevens Pass is not a regular stop, so Papa Raven had to line it up ahead of time so the bus driver would stop for us. Everyone he called could not figure out how much it was and they kept having him call a different company. It took four different companies before
he was able to buy the tickets. Next, we just had to wait until 11:30 for the bus to come. By 11:50, the bus had not arrived so we called the bus company to see if we missed the bus or was it late. Come to find out, the Seattle traffic had held it up. We were relieved we had not missed it. Finally, the bus arrived a little after noon. Once we were in Leavenworth, we quickly found a room in our price range and Mama and Papa Raven took showers so we would not stink when we went to the medical clinic. We had no time to wash clothes, so hopefully most of the smell was on our bodies and not the clothes. It was the best we could do under the circumstances.  We left the kids in the room, as we walked over to the clinic. We walked in to the clinic at 3:00 and right away we got to see a nurse practitioner. She said what needed to be done was to remove a quarter of the nail on the side that is causing the problem. However, she was hesitant to recommend this because we would be hiking with an exposed nail bed and that will be uncomfortable; also would be hard to keep it clean. Mama Raven said let’s have the procedure done anyways because hiking with it the way it is has become unbearable. Thus, the job was done in 15 minutes. Mama Raven said the worst part of the procedure was all the nerve block shots to numb her toe. After that, it was easy!  At the end, the nurse put a big, fat bandage on Mama Ravens toe. It was so large it would not fit into her shoe. They gave her a hospital sock to put on. And that is how we left the hospital: one shoe on one foot and a sock on the other, hobbling down the road.  Good thing we only had to walk a mile back to the room!

7/28/16
Leavenworth
We spent a quite day in Leavenworth. Mama Ravens toe is feeling much better. She is very happy we had the ingrown nail trimmed back. Around lunch, everyone walked into town. We wondered in and out of the shops and played the tourist. We worked our way to the far end of town so we could stop by a Safeway, for some extra food for the next section, and hardware store for epoxy and duct tape to repair Bling’s and Mama Ravens hiking poles. We all returned to our room and relaxed. All and all, it was a good day of not doing much of anything.

Snoqualmie

Day 15 and 16
7/21/16
Snoqualmie
Miles – 5.5
Total Miles 251.2 (PCT 2390.7)
We had sunshine first thing this morning. That has not happened very often this trip. Since it is a short five miles to town, we were a bit slow getting out of camp.  That is at least Mama and Papa Raven were. Little Crow and Bling were so excited for town day they were up and ready at record speed!  The hike to town started with a simple traverse. The only problem was with the dew. Washington is the only place were you can hike on a clear day and still get totally soaked. The trail is often overgrown and dew collects on the leaves. As we hiked through them we got wet.  The vegetation up here is green and beautiful with lush ferns, mosses, clover and grasses. There are wildflowers of every color.  One of our favorite has been there Bear Grass.  A tall stock grows out from the center of a clump of dark green grass. The stock ends in a explosion of hundreds of tiny white flowers. When we came through here last September, the Bear Grass was long gone. Vast variety of mushrooms are up here too.  The local residents know which ones are edible and they come up and gather them. We are clueless about them so we are not about to try any of them.  There are also berry bushes galore:  huckleberries, blueberries, black berries, salmon berries, thimble berries, and ones we do not even know their names. This is how today’s trail went until we crossed over to the eastern side of the mountain. Once over to the sunny side, our paced picked up and we passed under the Summit Ski lifts. By 10:00 we dropped down the mountain and hiked into Snoqualmie Pass.
First thing we did was to stop by the gas station to pick up some drinks and something to eat. Papa Raven went over to the hotel to see when our room would be ready. It will not be ready at 12:30. He picked up our re-supply box and we sat at a picnic table and sorted through it. This did not take long, so we spent a lot of time just sitting and waiting. Finally 12:30 came, and we got into our room. Showers and laundry were the most urgent tasks completed. Bling and Papa Raven got their new shoes. The old ones were eagerly thrown in the trash. We had dinner at a restaurant across the street called the Commonwealth. It was excellent and we plan on eating there tomorrow night as well. The sunshine we woke up to this morning disappeared to dark gray cloud cover. It did not rain. That comes tomorrow, while we will be dry inside the hotel room!

7/22/16
Snoqualmie
Zero
We did our best to do nothing. We ate. We did some repair on the  equipment. We sat and rested the feet. We watched TV. We watched Discovery Channel’s Alone, Deadliest Catch and Alaskan Bush People.  Mama Raven worked on photographs for the blog. That’s about it!
We did pick a good day to take a zero. We woke to rain. The clouds stayed very low all day and it rained several more times throughout the day. We were glad that we were not hiking in this wet weather.
Around 1:00, Bling started to feel sick (nauseated). He took a nap and stayed in bed and by 6:00, he felt better and wanted dinner. It was kind of weird, not feeling well for 5 hours. We hope that is the end of that ailment for Bling. We ate at the Commonwealth restaurant again for another awesome dinner. The Raven’s favorite part was the carmel apple crisp with vanilla ice cream.

Trout Lake

Day 5 – 7/11/16
Trout Lake
Miles – 10.1
Total Miles – 82.2 (PCT 2226.4)
With only ten miles to go to get to Road that leads to Trout Lake we did not need to get moving too early. Nonetheless, we did anyways, at least earlier than the last four days. Every morning so far, we have woken up to rain and had to stay in the tent until it stopped. Once again, we had rain over night.  A light drizzle.  Enough to get the tents all wet. Despite the condensation falling on us, we packed up early and headed for our ride to Trout Lake.
The trail was easy. We had a medium size up and a really big down. The sun was coming out every now and then as we hiked.  We took a short break underneath an old growth pine tree whose girth was enormous.  There are not too many trees left like him.  Last year, we stopped for a break underneath it also. It was good to see him again.  We got to the trail head just before 1:00. That gave us a two-hour wait. I did try to get a phone connection but it was not strong enough to make a call. Since our gear was saturated with water, we pulled it out and dried it in the sun. Our back packs even had a chance to dry. The time passed quickly. Gary arrived at 3:00 and we put our packs in his truck, then it was off to Trout Lake. On the way to town we had a good conversation with Gary, the gentleman that picked us up.  He had been a forest fire fighter for thirty years, but now he is retired .  When the space shuttle Challenger exploded over Texas, he was called in to search for shuttle debris. He also worked in the evacuation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana.  He has fought forest fires all over the country, including San Diego. He now spends his time during the summer shuttling hikers back and forth. We tried to pay him for the gas, but Gary would not accept any thing. As we walked in the store, Bev, the owner, gave us the same room we had last year, it is at the back of the grocery store. Actually, the room belongs to “Mikey” the cat.  He just lets us borrow it from him. The kids loved his company last year, and this year was no difference. We dropped our packs and started to make a laundry pile as everyone cycled through the shower. Just before 7:00 we walked over to the cafe for cheese burgers and huckleberry pie. After dinner we worked on our re-supply box and then it was off to bed. Just what you need for a re-supply stop food, a shower, and a warm dry bed.
The only problem for the day was Papa Ravens foot. We think that one of his heel blisters got infected and his ankle has swollen up a bit. We will look at it tomorrow. Mama Raven also noticed she has some Poison Oak from the first day of our hike. Despite all the rain we have had since we began our hiking trip five days ago, we are thankful to be here. The Ravens are happiest, when they are hiking.  It is amazing how content we are out here. We simply are walking in peace and beauty. Concerns and problems melt away. I (Mama Raven) dread the day we have to go home.

Stehekin

Day 166 – 9/23/15
North Fork Camp
Miles – 19.2
Total Miles – 2656.1 (PCT 2577.2)

Rabbit, Pandora, ?, Salt Lick at the Stehekin Bakery

Rabbit, Pandora, ?, Salt Lick at the Stehekin Bakery

We wanted to get to High Bridge for the 12:15 bus. We have 11.5 miles to get there. It is dueable, but we have to move quickly. We got up and started hiking by 7:00 am. The trail was easy and we made good time. As we turned into Agnes Gorge, Mama Raven asked what time it was and how far we had to go. The time was 10:00 and we had 5 miles to our destination. That means we had to do two hours at 2.5 miles an hour. We walked into the parking lot where the Stehekin bus would come, it was 11:50. Waiting there also was Rabbit, Limy, Pandora, and Salt Lick. They were two reasons we need to go to Stehekin. First was to pick up one days of food to get us to Rainy Pass. The second and most important reason is to go to the Stehekin bakery. The town of Stehekin is at the end of lake Chelan which is forty miles long. The only way to reach Stehekin is by airplane, boat, or by foot. It is a tiny community that has an amazing bakery. All the thru-hikers have been dreaming about it ever since they arrived to Washington. For much of the summer, there was doubt by the hikers if any would make it up this far because of the trail closures due to all the fires in Washington. Many hikers gave up on Washington and left the trail at Cascade Locks at the Oregon\Washington border. For those that persevered are rewarded with not only the amazing natural beauty of this state (and its is stunningly beautiful) but also are treated with a trip to the Stehekin Bakery. The bus arrived on time and one by one the hikers boarded. Each hiker paid the bus driver for the ride and asked does the bus stop at the bakery. Each time the driver answered patiently, yes. Not long after we started off down the unpaved road, the bus stopped in the middle of the road. There was a moose clumsily walking along the road heading the same direction as the bus. Nobody on the bus, including the driver had ever seen a moose before so it was exciting for everyone. A little later, the bus pulled up to the bakery and with great excitement everyone got out and walked inside the bakery. The hikers looked wide eyed with awe gat all the goodies before them behind the glass case: huge cinnamon rolls and sticky buns, raspberry twists, fruit kutchen, cheese rolls, brownies, cookies, chocolate coconut bars, strawberry and rhubarb pie, blackberry and apple pie, breads, quiches and filled croissants!  The excitement and joy on all the hikers faces as their eyes moved from one goody to the next was priceless. It was like little kids in a candy store. We wanted everything and we bought far more than we were capable of eating. Each hiker left the bakery with a large bag of priceless bliss to sink their taste buds into! Back on the bus, each listed off what their bags contained. As for The Ravens, we ended up with a cinnamon roll, a sticky buns, kutchen, pizza and a sandwich. We actually got the least because once arriving at Stehekin, we would quickly pick up food at the store and promptly catch the next bus back to the trail head. This means that we will very soon be stopping back by the bakery on the way out to pick up some more treats. The other hikers plan on staying the rest of the day, if not even overnight. They will be doing laundry and showers and their re-supply boxes. We will do all those things tomorrow at Winthrop. We had only thirty minutes before the next return bus. We talked a few minutes to Haiku. We quickly emptied our trash from the backpacks and went to the store for a short one day re-supply. We packed what we purchased just in time for the arrival of the bus. We quickly talked to Vulture and told him to say hello to Chef for us. They are spending a night at the lodge. We boarded the bus and off we went. The return bus contained Mt. Parana and Haiku, Chickadee and Stonefly, Honest Abe and Moose-lee, The Ravens and another couple we did not know. On our return trip, the bus once again stopped at the bakery. This time we got two slices of quiche, a croissant sandwich, two blackberry kuchen, and three mountain bars filled with coconut, almonds, and chocolate. Once we were back at High Bridge, we put all the food away and started hiking. This area has designated camping only so we were heading for the first one, only 5 miles out. But when we got there, we found that we still had two hours of day light left and only 3 miles to the next camp. So off we went. The next camp had a number of groups there, but we found a quite place to camp and this became home for the night. Tomorrow we will get to Rainy Pass and then go down to Winthrop and see Bling! We will find out what the outcome of his visit to the ER last weekend. In Stehekin, there was no cell phone service to call Bling, so we have to be patient and wait one more day for the news of his leg. We are counting on it to be nothing more than a soft tissue problem that has been healing during our separation from him. However, at the same time we are wondering if there is some indication to uncle Lew that there is something more wrong since they are taking him in to the ER. (our health care insurance does not cover out of state medical expenses unless it is an emergency room visit). We are looking forward to a family portrait at the Canadian monument. To visualize Will not being there, knowing how hard he worked to get as far as he did and the last ten days of it was in such discomfort and pain with his leg, is a painful jagged pill to swallow.DSC01122-9-23-15

DSC01121-9-23-15

3 Zeros

Day 135, 136, and 137 – 8/24, 8/25, and 8/26/15
Cascade Locks
Miles – 0
Total Miles – 2211.9 (PCT 2144.4)

Zakley and Papa Raven

Zactly and Papa Raven

8/24/15
This is our first zero since northern California and we have been looking forward to it. I would even say the Ravens are down right excited. Two years ago, when we hiked Oregon, in Cascade Locks, we stayed at the Bridge of the Gods Motel and RV Park. They had some nice little cabins with two rooms and space to have a grand pack explosion. They also had a small kitchen. Several days ago I  made reservations for two nights. The room we got this time was even better than what we had last time we were here. It was a RV log cabin, built this year. It was about 800sq/ft. with a front room with two single beds, a full kitchen, back bed room with a queen bed,  bathroom with a jacuzzi tub, high peaked ceilings, pine wood paneling and a large front porch to air out our sleeping bags. It could not have been more perfect. We were doing our re-supply box, repairs on the tents zippers and just getting ready for the next section when panic ran though the thru-hikers at Cascade Locks. 70 miles from Cascade Locks the trail just got closed due to a fire near Mt Adams. This is the second closure for the PCT in Washington.  Some hikers who had left back to the trail this morning where returning to Cascade Locks, while others wanted to give up on Washington and go home or hike a different trail. Some hikers were taking a wait and see attitude. The Ravens fell into the last group. I knew that there would be a good number of people trying to figure out a way around the trail closure. Teflon, Cosmic Bubble and Dingo came by our cabin to see what our plan was for the upcoming future  PCT hike. The mood amongst the hikers is very depressing. It seems many our calling it quits after 2,100 miles. The hikers at our cabin, including the Ravens have no intentions of quiting. The Canadian border is too close!  All the hikers have been overcoming some sort problem or another since we began this trip months ago at Campo. This simply is just one more obstacle to figure out how to overcome. By dinner time there was talk of a road walk around the fire. We had a great pizza dinner at the Ale House and at least 10 other thru-hikers were there. The ones we knew where Milkshake and Sticky Buns, Velcro and Xactly, Cat Women, Rainbow, Brother Dude and Coppertone, and Rebo. Another, thru-hikers showed up half way  through dinner. It was Smokey with his wife Karen. He had met his wife here at Cascade Locks and was returning after a few days in Portland. We have not seen him since Tuolamne Meadows. Knowing he is a doctor, we talked to him about Bling’s leg and he asked Bling a bunch of questions. He suspects it is a strained muscle and says we are doing the right things for it (icing, hot water baths,  motrin). However, the best thing we could do for Bling’s leg is to stay off of it. Our plan is to leave tomorrow. Most of the hikers we know, who came into Cascade Locks today, our planning to take an extra day off. Perhaps we will do the same for the sake of Bling’s leg. A surprise for us was that our pizza dinner was on the house. Our waitress really likes thru-hilkers and she had heard about The Raven family on the trail. She called the owner who agreed to pay for Bling and Little Crow’s dinner and the waitress paid for Mama and Papa Raven. We also noticed the waitress giving Rebo twenty dollars to go buy drinks for the hikers staying at the hiker hostel here in town. She later offered to take us to Portland tomorrow if we needed anything. She genuinely wanted to help any thru-hikers she could. Since we did not pay for dinner we gave her a big tip!
8/25/15
This morning Bling’s leg was not much better. We knew what we had to do. . . stay another day. Around 9:00,  Papa Raven went to the motel office to pay for another night. The woman behind the desk informed him  that our room had been paid for. Someone, she was not allowed to say who, came in this morning and paid for our room. We have no idea who did it. We suspect Smokey and Karen, who also were staying at the same motel, but we are not sure it was them. Smokey was leaving early in the morning for the trail. We spent most of the day sitting around the room working on odds and ends and attending to Bling’s leg. By dinner time we were packed and ready to leave first thing in the morning. Velcro, Xactly, Gi Gi,  Dundee, and Cat Water also were leaving tomorrow morning. Snow White and Wall-ee, Tephlon and Cosmic Bubble and Dingo left yesterday. There concerns were the upcoming fire detours while ours was Bling’s leg.
8/26/15
We were up and out of our room by 7:30.  With great apprehension, we hiked over to the Bridge of the Gods so we could cross into Washington. Bling was limping badly. He tells us that his leg was feeling better than yesterday, but we can see that he is not ready to hike. We are all frustrated. Our hearts, including Bling’s, are ready to go on but physically we are unable to. All of our hiking friends have gone on and by staying another day we will not see them again.  Sadly, we walked back to the motel. As we were walking along, in our gloomy moods, we were looking down when Mama raven found another mylar fourth of July pinwheel, just likes Bling’s. It was sticking up out of an old orange construction cone along the side of the road. It was all dusty and scratched up but still worked perfectly. She added it to Bling’s backpack and said Bling has even more BLING! Once again, I went to the office around 9:00 and paid for another night. The woman gave us a discount on the room because we have been there for so long. We stayed in the room most of the day so Bling would stay off his feet. We continued our routine of ice, heat, and motrin. Mama Raven even got a chance to work on photographs for the blog. Something she has not had any time for. It was a quite day and we will be ready to go in the morning.

Timberline Lodge

Day 132 – 8/21/15
Ramona Falls turn off
Miles – 15.6
Total Miles – 2175.6 (PCT 2104.2)

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Breakfast at Timberline Lodge was on our minds so we got up a half hour early and hit the trail as quick as we could.  As early as we left, two hikers past us before we even got out of our tent. We knew were they were racing to. . . breakfast.  A few minutes from camp, we crossed a highway and a clearing of trees where we noticed it was a cloudy day.  The visible hill tops were completely blanketed by clouds. The good news was there was no smoke anywhere.  We started the 5 miles of up to Timberline Lodge.  The climb was not hard and we made good time except for the mile or so of deep sand right at the end hikers have to drudge through before you reach the lodge. Along the way, we passed the Smiths who were finishing packing their gear.  They would be passing us soon.  Bling wanted to make it to Timberline Lodge before The Smiths, so he pushed forward up hill, hard and fast.  The wind was blowing hard in the morning so the sand blew into our eyes as we made are way forward.  We got to the lodge around 9:00 and went straight to breakfast.  And what a breakfast it was!!!  What we liked the best was the orange chocolate pancakes, we even carried out 4 of them to eat on the trail.  It was a feast:  sausage patties, ham, potatoes, the house hot chocolate (Mama Raven says it was the best hot chocolate she has ever had.  Bling and Little Crow agree), home made yogurt with fresh berries, fruit smoothies, granola, oatmeal, waffles and every topping imaginable, eggs with mushrooms and cheese, pastries.  At the end of the feast, we were so full we could barely move.  It was the best breakfast we have had on the trail.  No, that is not right, it was the best breakfast we have ever had!   When we were done, we finally took the time to look around, the dining room was filled with thru hikers:  Wild and Brotein, DNA and Etch-a-Sketch, Cosmic Bubble and Dingo, Rabbit and Sinatra, Orgami, Trailbride and Cope, Teflon, The Smiths, Beeker,  and many others we did not know.  There were more thru hikers than regular guest of the hotel. Some of the hikers have been here several days, just hanging out waiting for the next meal to be served. Mama Raven and I went down to the lower building to get our re-supply box. We got two boxes, Mama Raven’s new shoes and some socks, but no food box. Mama Raven looked through their list of names while I went in back and looked for the box. To great relief, we found it. The lower building was much quieter than the main lodge so we spread out on a table to sort and organize. While we were doing this the kids were up in the main lodge with the packs. They had met another family that is hiking the trail: Canyon, Sky Pilot, and eleven year old Rabbit. They have been wanting to meet us but we were to far in front, however they skipped most of northern California and got ahead of us. They spent several hours with us and then we decided to hike out together. My hope was to get hiking by 12:00, however, we did not leave until 2:30. Just before we hiked out we swung by the Blue Ox bar and ordered a pizza to go and a second one to eat while we were there. We hiked around Mt Hood with Rabbit in the lead and Little Crow right behind her. Bling and I were at the back of the pack. Bling was having a problem with his leg. We keep getting farther and farther behind everyone. That is not like Bling. I keep asking questions about the pain he was feeling and we finally figured out that one of his leg muscles was cramping up. He had never felt a muscle cramp before so he could not tell me what was hurt. We had to stop several times to rub it out. That helped a bit. It took two more rubbings and a long down hill to get him feeling some what better. I rubbed it out before he went to bed. Hopefully it will be better in the morning. We are going to head to Cascade Locks and take a zero there. We have not had a zero day off since Castella in Northern California. It is time for some time off.

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Rabbit

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Sky Pilot, Bling, Rabbit, and Canyon

Elk Lake

Day 125 – 8/14/15
Elk Lake trailhead #2
Miles – 24.1
Total Miles – 2021.4 (PCT 1951.3)

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We woke this morning to clouds rolling over the mountain above us.  A cold wind was blowing through the trees.  There was very little sun and what sun we did have was weak. The weather has changed very quickly.  Both tents were wet with condensation, but we packed them anyways.  We can dry them later or just pitch then wet tonight.  Our objective today was getting to Elk Lake Resort.  We do not have a food drop there but there is a restaurant and food is calling us! We need to hike 22 miles before they close and we are not sure what time that is.  These days we are hiking with Cat Waters, Xactly, and Velcro. They also are going to Elk Lake for dinner.  Wall-ee and Snow White are a couple of hours behind us. First thing thing this morning, the trail began with a steep climb.  At the top of the climb was Stormy Lake and it was cold and windy just as it names implies.  Next, we dropped down to lower elevations. In the flats we hiked by many ponds and lakes.  This area is littered with them.  Most of the lakes are very shallow due to the drought, therefore the water in them is very warm. At one of the lakes we stopped at, the water was warmer than the air. It would have been nice to swim in but it would be very cold getting out. And as usual these days, we are always trying to make miles to get somewhere by a specific time which unfortunately leaves very little relaxing time.  We spent the day leap frogging Velcro and Xactly.  At one point today, we past a group of horseman hauling gear for the pack service and I asked them about the weather.  They said that it would be overcast all day today and clear tomorrow. It is hard to believe it is August since it is so cold. We made it to Elk Lake Resort, which is a mile off trail, around 6:00 and went straight to dinner. Cat Water was already there and she sat down with us.  Just as we were about to order, Velcro and Xactly came in. They too joined us at our table.  We had a very good dinner of hamburgers for Little Crow and Papa Raven and fish and chips for Mama Raven and Bling. The Ravens also had three milkshakes: chocolate for Little Crow and huckleberry for Mama Raven and Bling. Papa Raven had a beer.  The conversation was mainly about the big fire up in Washington near Stehekin that has closed about twelve to fifteen miles of the PCT. The detour is 100 miles, with sixty of those miles being on highway 20.  All PCT thru hikers are very concerned with this but we will all have to wait and see what happens about the situation. We were very full walking out of the restraunt.  We were getting ready to fill our water bottles and hike back to the trail when Wall-ee and Snow White walked in. They had just hiked a 29 mile day to get here in order to meet a friend.  Everyone is hiking out tomorrow, however we are leaving tonight. Staying at resorts too long becomes very expensive. Hence we are in and out as fast as we can. We will be seeing our friends through out the day tomorrow.  We are camped a little shy of the PCT and our mileage is a little low for the day, but we are going to bed tonight with full stomachs after an awesome dinner.  It is a perfect way to end a day on the PCT!

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The big climb

Day 111 – 7/31/15
Cook and Green Pass
Miles – 15.0
Total Miles – 1729.3 (PCT 1668.2)

No more wrist brace

No more wrist brace

We get up at our normal time, packed, and were at the door of the restaurant when it opened. The Seiad restaurant is known for its pancakes, they’re huge! Little Crow had french toast and a chocolate shake. Mama Raven had an egg and sausage sandwich and a blackberry shake. I had two blackberry pancakes. And Will had a stack of three pancakes, of which he only ate one, and a blackberry shake. What Will was unable to eat, we had it wrapped up to go and hiked out with them. We hit the tall at 8:45. That was not far off our target time. It was already starting to warm up as we road walked out of town. Today was suppose to be 110° in Seiad and we wanted to get up as fast as we could. To save on weight we carried only enough water to get us to the next spring, so we stopped first at Fern Spring, then Lookout Spring, we skipped Kangaroo Spring because the water did not look good, and our final fill up was at Cook and Green Pass Spring. As we climbed, it got hotter and hotter which made us stop often. Our speed up the mountain was not very fast. It was in the afternoon when we topped the high point. The rest of the day was a rolling traverse, but it was slow. The mornings effort in the heat really tired us out. In the late afternoon thunderstorms started to build. Little Crow kept a very close eye on them, as they grew toward us, she became very concerned. By the time we had reached Cook and Green Pass one of them had caught up with us and the lightening was overhead. Little Crow at this point was truly scared. All she wanted to do was to crawl into the safety of her tent, this was about 7:00. Little Crow is terrified and rain is immanent at any moment. We decided to stop and set up our tents. It was sprinkling as we set them up. Will and I walked down to the spring to fill all the bottles. We all settled down in the tents with thunder and lightening all around while I made dinner. Little Crow was far more relaxed and happier in the tent. It was a hard, hot day but we completed the big up and the rest of the section should be easier. If all goes as planned, we should be in Oregon tomorrow! One more thing…..it was a good day for Will. His wrist brace came off today. At one point when we were high up on a ridge we got phone reception so Will asked if we could call his doctor to see if she finally got the X-ray we had taken back in Ridgecrest. Papa Raven called and we actually got a chance to talk to Will’s doctor. She said yes, it has healed enough. Will is officially brace free!DSC02319-7-31-15

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Glen Pass (11,946′)

Day 56 – 6/7/15
Lower Rae Lakes
Miles – 12.9
Total Miles – 836.6 (PCT 794.3)DSC04103-6-7-15We woke early and peeked outside the motel window to check the sky. . . . no clouds anywhere. That was a good sign. We could hike with some confidence that we will not get rained on. We finished packing and went over to have breakfast which the motel provides. After eating bacon, eggs, and toast cooked by Dave; Mama Raven, Will, and Little Crow went to Subway to pick up sandwiches for the trail. While they were gone, I closed up the packs and loaded them in the car. There was a scale hanging from a tree so I decided to weigh each pack. The packs have all our gear plus 5.5 days of food and 1L water each. Little Crow’s weighed 17lbs, Will’s and Mama Raven’s weighed 26lbs, and mine weighed 31lbs. With Subway Sandwiches in hands, Dave’s wife took us back up to the trailhead. We got to the parking lot about 9:30. Before we headed up the trail, we had another birthday party for Little Crow with the German Chocolate cake, whip cream and Strider’s Tiara! We did not have time to eat them yesterday because of the birthday brownies Sarah sent Little Crow so we thought it would be fun to celebrate at the trailhead. We had candles, sang Happy birthday, and to our amazement, the four of us almost ate the whole cake. Finally it was time to hike. Clouds had formed as the morning went on but they did not look very threatening. We felt very strong climbing to the top of Kearsarge Pass despite the full stomachs of cake and whip cream. The only problem we had was all the people we stopped to talk with. It slowed us down a bit but it was good to see our hiking friends. A lot of hikers were resupplying in Independence or hitch hiking to Bishop. In the early afternoon we stopped and ate our Subway sandwiches. We then headed up Glen Pass. It is not a bad pass to climb from the south side. The difficult part is getting down Glen Pass’s steep, snow covered north side. Even though the clouds came and went through out the day there was enough sun to make the snow very soft. We postholed down the steep cliff side. For the most part all went well until Little Crow post holed up to her hip and she could not pull her leg out. As she tried to free herself, she started to panic. Mama Raven and I got there as soon as we could and tried to calm her as we pulled her out of her predicament. Her shoe and gator stayed at the bottom of the hole. I reached in and worked at pulling out her shoe. It was good and stuck. It took a minute or two to get it out. After that we tried to stay to the well packed paths. As we reached the bottom of the cliff we looked back up what we just came down with awe. We walked around Rae Lakes and camped at one of the lower lakes. While Mama Raven and I set camp, Will and Little Crow went down to the lake to fish. Will received his fishing kit in the Independence resupply box and he really wanted to try it. Even though they did not catch any they had lots of fun trying.DSC04136-6-7-15

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Pika

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Sinatra

Sinatra

Snow White and Wall-ee (Wallstreet)

Snow White and Wall-ee (Wallstreet)

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Kennedy Meadows

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

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Dreaming of hamburgers we got up an hour earlier than normal. The hiking was easy but it was 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 deserts 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

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Foxtrot and Will

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The Ravens with Houdini and Sobo

The Ravens with Houdini and Sobo

Courage

Courage

Overeasy

Overeasy

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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)

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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 her 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 to her 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 everything, 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. In fact they were hiking with Overeasy and Sunnyside Up.  The two of us were wondering if they would ever stop when 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!

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Agua Dulce

Day 31 5/13/15
Just outside of Agua Dulce
Miles – 20.8
Total Miles – 483.5 (PCT 456.8)
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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.
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Paradise

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

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GiGi at the Little Tree Library, cache 145

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Preparation Update

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We are working hard on getting our food together.  So far we have half of our dinners, almost half of our breakfasts, and a long way to go with lunches. We are hoping to finish all the food well before our departure date.

On Sunday I was loading the dehydrator with trays of wild rice, chili, and sausage when I noticed that it was only blowing cold air.  Upon closer inspection, I found that the heating coil in the dehydrator was not working.  I emptied all the trays while Ann looked on line for a new dehydrator.  We found one through Amazon for about $100 and ordered it.  When it arrives we can get back to finishing the food for the trip.

We received some bad news, The Hikers Heaven will not be opening this year.  Hikers Heaven is run by a family in Agua Dulce who would let the thru hikers stay at their house, pick up their packages, do laundry, and get showers.  It was a very important location for everyone hiking the trail.  It seems that the people who run it were accused of causing thru hikers to bunch up.  Which is not true.  The KOP does that.  So instead of causing alleged problems they closed their doors.  Now we have to come up with other plans.  Instead of a food drop at Agua Dulce, we will be having one at Lake Hughes.  Normally we would not go near Lake Hughes but the Powerhouse fire two years ago closed a section of the trail and to get around it we will hike right next to the Lake Hughes Post Office.

We filled out the paperwork for our passports cards.   Next we will file them.  For kids under 16, both parents have to go the filing office.  Hopefully we can get this paperwork finished before we leave.  We need the passport cards to get back into the US after finishing the PCT in Manning Park, Canada.

How do we get our food?

One of the most common questions we are asked is how do we get our food?  There are several ways thru-hikers do this.  They can buy their food along the way in the towns along the trail or they can mail their supplies to the towns that are too small to have a good selection and buy it at the towns that have full size grocery stores.  Another way is to mail all your food.  The last scenario is, hikers can resupply out of the hiker boxes along the trail.  A hiker box is a surplus of supplies and food that other hikers have discarded.  All towns along the trail provide one.

We will be mailing all of our food.  There are four of us and buying that much food in the small towns would be very expensive.  We can get exactly what we want, in the quantities we need at home.  Some hikers buy prepared meals from hiking supply stores however, this becomes terribly expensive.  We prepare our own meals from ingredients we buy at Walmart or Costco.  Some of the meals are:  spaghetti, basil orzo, vodka pasta sauce, egg and sausage burritos,  rice and bean burritos, chili, chicken salad wraps.  It is a lot of work to do this, but it is far cheaper.  We have friends that will be mailing our “food-drop” to us as we hike.  Since we live on the west coast, the mailing cost is a lot lower than for those who live else where.  An advantage to mailing is that we can make changes to our boxes as we go.  All it takes is a phone call.

The Work Begins

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Spaghetti sauce ready for dehydrationSincre

Since there are only three and half months before are departure date,  we have begun the laborious job of food preparation.  We try to dehydrate as much as we can ourselves to save money.  The first thing we are working on is spaghetti sauce.  We bought large quantity of Prego sauce at Costco that we pour onto drying trays.  Overnight, it dries into a leather that we grind up into a course powder.  This makes reconstituting with water easier.  Next, the dried sauce is divided up with pasta noodles and vacuum sealed.  The trays in the photograph, produced enough for ten dinners for our family of four.  We have a lot of food to collect: 147 breakfasts, 151 lunches, and 137 dinners for 160 days of hiking.  There are only 137 dinners because we are expecting to have access to restaurants on food drop days.  Our dehydrator will be running nonstop for many weeks.

The collection begins

We are starting to collect the food and equipment we will need for the PCT.

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The gathering of food is the easy part; there is just a lot of it.  From our itinerary, we know how many days we will be gone, therefore we know how many breakfasts, lunches, and dinners we will need.  It is just a matter of buying all the food, dehydrating it, and vacuum sealing it.  It is a lot of work.  A few weeks ago we started to buy some food when we saw it on sale.  Costco, Sam’s Club and Walmart have low prices and a good selection.

One of the problems a lot of thru hikers have is they bring the same food for the whole trip.  Food is what keeps you hiking and if you cannot stand to eat the food you brought, it makes the trip that much harder.  Dinners are the most difficult meal for us to come up with good recipes that we all like on the trail.  Our problem child is Will.  He is one, annoying, picky eater!   Over the last 3 summers of hiking, we have been testing as many dinners as possible. We have found only 6 or 7 dinners that we all agree upon.

This is a good time to buy equipment with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas sales abound.   We have gotten a Gossamer Gear Gorilla backpack for Will, Uniqlo Ultra light down jackets for all family members, and a camera for Tim.  There is still  more equipment to purchase, like socks and shoes and a lot more food!