Saturday, June 16, 2012

Suck It Mohave! - 702 Miles

We have officially cleared all of southern California.  For those of you who do not realize, that means no more desert.  I had an extreme moment of clarity a few days ago, when the thought came to me that if given the opportunity to hike through the desert again, or have another baby, I'd choose the baby.  For anyone who knows our family, that is really saying something!

The Barracuda pulled a 29 mile day to get us into Kennedy Meadows, but the show put on during the sunset was well worth it!

We are currently in Kennedy Meadows - 702 miles.  It is the gateway to the Sierras and quite the milestone.  As far as I am concerned, we've made it.  We are mountain people.  Cool breezes, serious elevation gains, passes, ridges, those are our kind of hikes.  I have no worry about snow.  I know how to judge the wind.  I know how to keep a tent down on rocky outcroppings.  I'm all over that.  Searing heat, swirling wind from everywhere, complete sand with no rocks, and gale force no thank you.

As you can see, The Barracuda loves the desert as well
We are about to enter the largest continuous wilderness stretch in the United States.  Needless to say the cell phone/internet coverage is a bit scarce.  We will be checking in as much as possible and posting up pictures when we can.  All in all the John Muir Trail is waiting for us, the Sierras are waiting for us, and the Mohave has been left behind!

Here's to another 700 miles.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

7 Day Countdown - PCT Trail Update

 The Barracuda & Sparrow working on their tans in the desert.

Please forgive the time it has taken to get a post update on the Sparrow and the Barracuda’s PCT thru-hike.  The end of the school year, packaging mail drops, and completing projects around our little cabin has been occupying a lot of my time.  Because of the rustic, simple life we are fortunate to live, items like putting back a year’s supply of wood for the coming winter is crucial before I can feel good leaving to hike for the summer.  One of our neighbors, who lives in an expansive house up the road, once commented that we are “camping out” in our cabin.  As I was chopping this year’s wood, I couldn’t help but think that our humble little cabin and the voluntary simplicity that we practice has likely made the Barracuda’s transition to hiking easier for him than it might be for other adults and kids alike.  The Barracuda is comfortable being outside.  Heck, we have a healthy population of bears, cougars, and bobcats that roam the woods our home is surrounded by.  On the trail, the Barracuda has impressed other hikers by making the campfire, but it must seem so common to him due to our lifestyle a home.  I’m glad he is comfortable camping out, because it allows him to focus on the physical challenge of hiking and to appreciate the things around him. 

 "Camping out" at the cabin last winter

Since the last post, the Sparrow and the Barracuda have walked through the Mojave Desert section of the PCT.  In addition to the heat, they had 50-60 mile an hour winds during the evenings.  As a result of this wind, they had difficulties keeping their TarpTent erect in powdery soft sand that refused to hold stakes, and this caused a few sleepless evenings for the Sparrow as she struggled to brace the tent.  They have hiked approximately 630 miles and should be reaching Kennedy Meadows sometime tomorrow.  I say approximate because our phone provider has zero coverage in the area they are currently traveling through, and there were 5 days with no contact from them.  The first 3 days were easy, but the over protective husband and father started to worry after day 4.  So I was thrilled to get a call from Brynn the other night from a borrowed cell phone.  They are in great spirits and just as determined as ever.  Their pace and confidence is up. 

From where they are currently, they are beginning their climb up into the mountains.  While this means they have some serious elevation to climb, it also means cooler temperature, real trees for shade, and a greater abundance of water.  After their hike through the desert, they will happily take the elevation change for these benefits.  By the time I connect with them, in 7 days, they will have climbed to almost 11,000 feet.  From Independence, CA I will be hiking with them throughout the summer with the goal of reaching the Oregon/Washington border before I have to return for the 2013 school year.  I simply can’t wait to be with them on the trail.  I’m so very proud of both of them, but I’m eager to take some of the physical and emotional weight off of Brynn’s shoulders.  She’s carried a lot these past 630 miles.

I can’t wait to be a complete family, including our crazy dog, moving nomadically up the PCT.  It has been 11 years since I’ve hiked a long distance trail, and I’m looking forward to the peace and serenity such a journey leaves one with.  To be able to share that experience with my wife and son makes me feel like the richest man alive.