Buzzed by a jet

Day 51 – 6/2/15
Death Canyon Creek
Miles – 21.2
Total Miles – 756.0 (PCT 730.7)DSC03520-6-2-15Last night was literally a bumpy night. We did not look at the ground very well and we had large lumps of dirt making for an uncomfortable nights sleep. The hiking this morning was slow. No one was moving fast. I think altitude is taking its toll on us. We hiked up the valley we slept in and came out at Beck Meadow. We then crossed a small ridge and dropped into Monarch Meadow. Monarch Meadow is the largest meadow in the Sierras. We took a brake at the bridge over the South Folk of the Kern River. The bridge is home to hundreds of swallows. They were swooping under the bridge to their nests. It was fun to just sit there and watch them.
Once we left the bridge we had a long climb up Cow Canyon. By the end of the climb, we were over 10,000′ in elevation causing us all to breath heavily. By the time we got to the top of Cow Canyon, we were starting to run low on water, instead of having to pump the water up there, we decided to hike another 9 miles to the spring at Death Canyon. After filling up our water bottles at the spring, we left Cow Canyon and traversed across Olancha peak. The views to the south were beautiful. The rest of the day we dropped down toward Gomez Meadow and then over to Death Canyon. Late in the day when we were hiking through Gomez Meadow we heard a jet flying toward us. There was a large rock wall just to the west of us and the jet came right over it, directly over our heads. It was so low, it seems as if we could reach up and touch it. It probably was no more than 300′ above us. It made a quick left turn and headed into the desert. Everyone looked wide eyed with their hands over their ears. It was incredibly loud. Moments later a second jet did the same thing again. After that excitement, we hiked on to Death Canyon and a little before sun set, we found a place to camp. As the kids and Mama Raven pitched the tents, I went in search of the spring for water. I found it coming out of a pile of rocks. The kids showed up with the rest of the bottles and we filled them. Now we are ready for tomorrow’s dry section.DSC03534-6-2-15

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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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Trail Magic at Walker Pass

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

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Sunny Side Up

Sunnyside Up

Over Easy and The Ravens

Over Easy and The Ravens

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Trail Angels

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Carrot cake

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

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Burgandy

Burgandy

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A little trail magic

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

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

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Slow start

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

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

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Deep Creek

Day 22 – 5/4/15
In the middle of nowhere
Miles – 18.8
Total Miles – 335.6 (PCT 318.0)

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It was a quite night with very little wind. Again, everyone slept well and no one wanted to get up. When the sun hit our tent we stated to get going. It was not long before we were on the trail.
Today was an easy day of hiking. The trail follows Deep Creek until it dumps out into the Mojave Desert, after about 15 miles. Mid morning we stopped to pump water and wash socks. It was a nice shady spot a little ways from the trail. We were able to also clean the pan after last nights dinner.  Since there has been very little water on the trail, more often than not, we have to cook dinner in the previous nights dirty pot. There simply is no water for the luxury to clean the cooking pot or eating utensils!  A clean pot to cook in is a real treat! After the chores were done, we headed back to the trail and the sun. The trail quickly headed up a ridge. Will was looking back at the small pond above were we got water and he saw a Black Bear. It was just heading down to the riverbed. I knew that there were bears in these mountains but I had never seen one.
Hours later we came to the Deep Creek Hot Springs. We were hoping no one was there so the kids could play in the hot springs. The hot springs is a popular location for the locals who live near by. Most who come to the springs take the “clothing optional” to heart. There were about 20 people there, all in different states of dress. We hiked on. Several miles later we came to the Rainbow Bridge and found a quiet location by the river. Will and Joon had fun trying to catch fish and Bull Frog pollywogs in Joon’s hat. Our granola was used as bait. To our surprise, the fish actually liked the oatmeal, however, they did not like the almonds. They would go for the almonds but they would immediately spit them out!  Unfortunately, Will and Joon did not have any luck catching fish but they had a lot of fun trying.
Towards the end of the day, we finally hiked out of Deep Creek Canyon and across the Mojave Forks Dam. Why this dam is here, I’m not sure? It is very large and there is no water behind it. In fact on the side of the dam where there should be a lake, it has 30′ Cottonwoods growing in it. I’m not sure if it has ever had water in it. As we exited the canyon, a really cold, strong wind came up. We were being blown from side to side and large dust devils twisted around us, blowing dust and sand in our faces.
We hiked on and as the sun was almost down we found a place to camp. It is somewhat protected from the wind. I have already had to go outside and put tent pegs back in after they came out from a strong gust of wind. I hope it let’s up during the night. The tent fabric is very noisy when it blows in the wind making sleep nearly impossible!

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Barrel Springs

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

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

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

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

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