Sunday, July 29, 2012

Big Bear to Mammoth

July 6th - July 13th

It's a birthday tradition in our family to celebrate my birthday in Big Bear at the cabin. We get to enjoy the 4th of July fireworks and all the birthday festivities wrapped up into one. I was happy we didn't miss out on this tradition this year. We spent a few day alone in Big Bear with our doggies and we were later joined by my parents. It was awesome. Below you can see a view of the moon from our deck.

We left Big Bear on Friday and headed out on our adventure. We had no idea where we were headed when we got in the car, but that's the fun part. We ended up in Wrightwood.

When we were hiking the PCT we road walked a section of HWY 2 and we talked then about how lovely it would be to drive HWY 2 one day. So that's what we decided to do. We decided to stay the night in Wrightwood then cruise the 2 the next day.

That night we enjoyed a celebratory drink at the Raccoon Saloon.

This interesting bug was crawling around town.

That morning we cruised HWY 2. All along the way poodle dog bush was in full bloom. Eeeekk glad we weren't hiking through it.

We decided to head up to Bishop for the night, but we were delayed by the fish fire.

The next day we made it up to Mammoth. Our first stop: Mammoth Brewing Company!

One of my favorite beers.

The next few days we spent fishing the Mammoth Lakes. We had success at Lake Mamie and Lake Mary.

We enjoyed happy hour at Roberto's a few times. Free nachos and quesadillas!

We enjoyed Mammoth a ton. Next stop...Tuolumne Meadows.


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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Change of Plans . . .

June 17, 2012
Day 78

As we started out our climb up Kearsarge Pass from Onion Valley, we stopped and enjoyed some fishing for a short while, but had to move on if we were going to make it up and over Glenn Pass today. After climbing Kearsarge and returning to the PCT we decided to take a short lunch break. This is where we decided to “change our adventure” and end our thru-hike.

Before embarking on our thru-hike, I promised myself I would never get off the trail on a bad day. I didn’t want to stop because I was cold, wet, hot, exhausted, frustrated, hungry or as a result of any of the other physical and emotional factors that take a toll on a hiker. Today was not a bad day; today was a beautiful day in the Sierras. The sun was shining, the landscape was beautiful and we were both well rested.

As we sat on the rocks next to the PCT and snacked on trail mix, Tailgate turned to me and asked me what I wanted to do after the trail. I frankly answered, “I have no idea.”  Like many other thru-hikers, we have no home or job to return to. Our decisions after the trail will determine much of how the next chapter of our life will unfold.  I wanted many things out of this experience and I think I was hoping for the answer to this question (and a few others) to present itself somewhere along the trail.

Some of the things I hoped to gain from this thru-hike:  
  • I wanted to test myself physically like I never had before.
  • I wanted to have an adventure with my husband.
  • I wanted to experience and become a part of the tight-knit hiker community.
  • I wanted to carry my home on my back and experience the thrills that come along with that.
  • I wanted to immerse myself in nature in a new way.

I believe I gained all of these in varying degrees. However, there are many other things that I hoped for (maybe unrealistically) that just weren’t a part of a thru-hike. Unrealistically, I imagined myself taking afternoon naps on the trail, fishing for entire days and stopping to have lunch at any beautiful lake I came across. The reality for us was that we didn’t have the time to do these things while keeping on schedule.  I felt I had tested myself physically and now I was resenting the fact that I couldn’t stop and enjoy these spectacular places with my husband.

On that rock, we both came to realization that we gained all we could from this hike. I don’t think I gained everything I hoped for, but I gained all that I could from a hike like this. There came a point for me when I realized that I had what it took physically to hike the miles I needed to complete a thru-hike. I walked through the hottest, driest and highest sections of the trail. I hiked over 800 miles. I made it through the Mojave, I walked 20+mile sections with no water, I weathered snow and rain, I climbed to the tallest point in the continental US and the tallest point on the PCT. I now felt like I was in the prettiest section and I couldn’t stop to enjoy it. I envied section hikers that were stopped by a stream fishing while I marched on. I was inspired by the sierras, like so many before me have been. I thought of John Muir and understood his captivation with this area. I suppose the question became: do I continue on to Canada because I want to complete this thru-hike or do I slow down and enjoy the most beautiful landscape I’ve come to know?

The answer to this question was glaringly clear to us. We picked up our packs and headed back over Kearsarge. We hiked Kearsarge twice that day with full packs and smiles on our faces. We seemed to be completely on the same page about this decision, which I am thankful for.  With the record number of thru-hiking permits issued this year, there are many that will make it to Canada. We only have the most respect and admiration for those who do complete a successful thru-hike.  However, I encourage everyone to “hike your own hike” or “have your own adventure”. After all, it is the journey that matters; not the destination.  One thing we have realized on our hike is that time is so precious, especially time with those that you love. I want to indulge my wandering sprit and spend the rest of our summer exploring and enjoying the beauty that nature has to offer

Our journey will continue as we grab our car and start heading north, starting out near Mammoth. The plan is to hike sections of whatever trail we find along the way and explore anything that sparks our interest. We don’t know how long we will be gone or how far we will go. Part of the fun is not having a plan or a schedule.

The experiences we have had on this trip have been indescribable and phenomenal. I will always cherish the relationships we have formed with fellow hikers, trail angels and strangers along the way. Also the support we have received from the home team has been so invaluable and generous. Thank you to all of those who have followed our journey thus far, it means so much to us.

We look forward to sharing the continued adventures of Tailgate and Twist through our blog. Start looking for more posts after the the 4th of July.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pictures in Bishop

June 13th, 2012
Day 74
Today's Miles: 0

We got into Bishop somewhat late yesterday and split a room with Camshaft at the Vagabond Inn. After running a couple errands before all the businesses shut down here in town, we all crashed.

This morning we had to wait until the local camera place opened to walk down and find out if they could offload all of our pictures from the iPhone to a thumb drive. Luckily they could but it would take several hours. We were willing to wait and some of Camshaft's packages didn't arrive at the Independence post office (one of which is a replacement pack for his Osprey), so we all got a room for tonight as well and decided to zero.

Unfortunately we don't have many pictures of our stay here due to the fact that our phone was completely full when we arrived and then tied up for most of the day while offloading our pictures. But while we waited, Tailgate, Camshaft and myself enjoyed a EUFA soccer game on ESPN followed by the Yankees and Braves (when it's just me and two guys I tend to be overruled on these choices).

We are hoping Camshaft's pack and other packages arrive tomorrow so that when we are passing through Independence on our way back up to Onion Valley, however we're going to get there, we can pick them up.

We do apologize for the flurry of updates to our blog, but up to this point we have had spotty service and it seems like whenever we do have service we are on top of a pass or mountain and don't want to spend the time there on the phone. But thank you to everyone for their support, it really means a lot to know people out there are rooting for us!


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Kearsarge Pass

June 12th, 2012
Day 73
Today's Miles: 5 (+7.5 Miles Extra Credit)

We slept in this morning knowing that we would only be doing 12.5 miles to Onion Valley to pick up our food for the next stretch. The first couple miles were all downhill paralleling the river we camped next to last night.

Twist next to a cascading waterfall.

Then suddenly the trail took a hard right at a junction and it felt like we were climbing one of the steepest grades yet. Luckily I was paying attention to where I was walking because we came across the first snake in a while, even though it wasn't a rattler.

After climbing for a bit we hit the Bullfrog Lake junction to Kearsarge Pass where we left the PCT to pick up our food drop. We were excited to take this trail because in Yogi's guide book they say this is one of the most picturesc sections of the trip. We quickly found out this was entirely true.

Here we got an amazing view of the Kearsarge Pinnacles above.

We reached the top of Kearsarge Pass and of course went to take pictures of the view (the one we got is above)... unfortunately, our iPhone gave us a notice that our memory was full after just one picture at the pass. What did this mean?... Well, we literally could not take one more picture or video of our trip until we cleared some memory. A little frustrated by the situation, we decided that instead of having the convenient food drop at Onion Valley; we would have to go into Bishop and offload our pictures and videos to a thumb drive so we didn't lose any of the documentation we had of our trip so far.

The person doing our food drop, Ken McDonald, turned into our ride to Bishop where we got a room at the Vagabond Inn with our now good hiker friend Camshaft. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to offload our pictures and video because it would be agonizing to take one more step on this trail without the ability to document it. Here's hoping all goes according to plan and we can be back on the trail in a day or so.


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Forester Pass

June 11th, 2012
Day 72
Today's Miles: 17.5 (+1 Mile Extra Credit)

A little stiff from our Whitney side trip, we woke up with a big day ahead of us. We were going over THE Forester Pass today! We headed out and quickly hiked the 1 mile back to the PCT from where we had camped in Crabtree Meadow and were headed North once again. Par for everyday in the Sierra so far, the morning was filled with nothing but spectacular views.

YouTube Video

Looking back toward Mt. Whitney.

YouTube Video

After a quick break about 7 miles in we began the approach to Forester Pass. It was a long gradual climb for the first few miles winding through an exposed rocky area spotted with lakes.

You might be able to see the pass in the picture above. It's the one with some snow still left in the chute.

Once we hit the base of the pass we started up a series of switchbacks that gave us a view of where we had hiked up from.

Me from a switchback above!

Looking up at the pass, almost there!

YouTube Video

Once we had reached the top of the pass we took a few minutes to relish the climb, and to take in the views.

Looking back South.

Looking North.

Looking straight down where we climbed up from.

Me enjoying the Southern view.

After our quick break at the pass, we started heading down. There was a little snow but barely enough to slow us down.

The views on this side of the pass were gorgeous, both looking back at the pass as well as over the meadows below.

Once down in the meadows below the pass we were surrounded by huge rocky cliffs that seemed to have waterfalls every few steps.

See the waterfall?

We hiked about 4 miles down from the pass and found an awesome campsite near a river about PCT mile 784.5. Oh, did I mention the campsite had a waterfall too!?!?

Tomorrow we will head out over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley to pick up some food for the next 5 days. It looks to be a day of climbing but no doubt as beautiful as the last week on the trail.


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