Friday, June 20, 2008

Let It Burn! much has happened since I last blogged but I will try to keep it short! I got to hiker town in the middle of the Mojave desert to discover it was simply a combination of trailers with now electricity and an outdoor shower that ran off a garden hose. After hiking a 40 mile day I didn't care and took a shower in the cold night air. I did get a good night's rest in the bunkhouse style hostel and the next morning I was joined by Adrian "Walkeaze" Baird to do another 48 miles through the Mojave to Tehachapi. We had a great hike and he shared coffee and other great trail foods with me. His "Trail Grit" has revolutionized my diet out here. It consists of several grains and oats and can be mixed with spices, jellies, or bacon bits to add flavor. We hit the 1st annual chilli cook off upon reaching Tehachapi and even got to see a reinactment of a wild west shoot out on the downtown square. I went back out on the trail that day to finish the final section leading in to the High Sierra's. That section included some more 100 degree days and another 40 mile day before I finally reached Kennedy Meadows where a fledgling forest fire awaited me. The fire wasn't close enough to the trail to cause a problem, but the forestry service was closely monitoring the containment. I met up with about 10 other hikers at the general store and we spent the first day resting and enjoying hot food. The best way to describe Kennedy Meadows is to say it is the only place on the trail where the locals are grittier than the hikers! I got up this morning ready to hike on and my backpack got a huge tear in it as I packed it. At first I questioned why this had happened. I packed the bag the same way I had for hundreds of miles and all of a sudden it got a catastophic tear. Fortunately there was another hiker with me that is an expert at sewing and he even made his own backpack. After a few hours of sewing on new materials my pack was as good as new. The only problem was that I had lost a day waiting. I decided to hike out with the group tomorrow and then it became clear. The forestry service called the general store and informed them the next section of the trail was now closed because of a flare up that caused the fire to spread and cross the Pacific Crest Trail. Had I hiked out this morning I could have been caught in the fire.....thank you God for protecting me yet again! Tomorrow we will be hiking out on a side trail that avoids the fire and we will be entering the High Sierra's. In a couple of days I will be standing on top of Mt. Whitney at the highest point in the main 48 states......I like to call it God's front yard!
Until next time..............

Monday, June 9, 2008

Snake Eyes

Hello from Sunny Green Valley, CA! Today's adventure finds me relaxing in the manzanita garden of Joe and Terri Anderson at Casa de Luna. We are nestled in at a shady spot amongst the blazing heat of the Mojave desert. The Anderson family is another example of the kindness of trail angels. It has been said that the Sauffley's in Agua Dulce are an example of trail angels with perfect corporate efficiency, and the Anderson's are trail angels that run a hippie hiker day care! There is all the beer and food a hiker could possibly need and some of the guests seem to never leave. I say change the name to Hotel California! There is even one guy here that we think is just a regular homeless guy and not even a hiker, but the Anderson's don't care because their doors are open to anyone. Today's excitement involved wrestling and capturing a rattlesnake that had ventured to close to the back of the home. Upon helping catch the snake we put it in a pillow case and dropped it off in the desert where it would be safer for everyone. I leave tonight to hike 40 miles through the Mojave in the dark in order to avoid the 100+ degree temperatures. Next destination: Hiker Town.
Have a peaceful day!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Things Are Changing

Check out these links to some of the places menitioned in this blog:
Good morning from Agua Dulce, CA. I am about 450 miles in to the Pacific Crest Trail so far and things are really starting to make sense. I have known from the beginning what a great adventure this would be, but it is only now that a true understanding of its importance is becoming clear. The last section I hiked was from Cajon Junction 112 miles to the Sauffley's at Hiker Heaven in Agua Dulce. I managed to see five beautiful big horned sheep, climbed the 9400 ft Mt Baden Powell with beautiful views all over Southern CA, got to see breathtaking scenery along the deserted Angeles Crest Highway, and then hiked back to back 37 mile and 30 mile days in to Agua Dulce after passing the historic Vasquez Rocks. Enough about that and let me explain Hiker Heaven. It is yet again a perfect example of trail angels and their decdication to helping make the hiking experience as enjoyable as possible. Donna and Jeff Sauffley have a beautiful ranch style home in the valley complete with grape vines, horses, dogs, cats, a perfectly landscaped yard with river rock and many varieties of plants, and spectacular vistas of Vasquez Rocks. They have opened their home every year for the last 12 years and have now served almost 3,000 hikers. They have let up to 65 hikers stay here in one night. They do our laundry, give us a bed or a cot to sleep in, provide refrigerater and kitchen, loan us bicycles, and even have a Chevy Suburban that they loan out every day for hikers to run errands with! Some of their friends say they are crazy, but they point to one man as an example for why they choose to serve others so selflessly: Jesus. When I asked the Sauffley's why they do so much they gave me several verses from the bible that talked about hospitality and how we are to open our homes to those in need. They also think it isn't just hospitality that is important, but to truly make all guests feel at home. They have got it mastered!!! It is only after reflecting on the imensity of their contribution to my experience that I was able to have another philisophical realization. God has also been my host on this journey. God made this amazing creation and I am a guest in it every day. God is the ultimate host and has made me feel right at home on every mile I walk through his creation. God is there every moment to help me have the best experience possible while I am here and it is only up to me to put one foot in front of the other and have a loving attitude that gives glory back to God for his creation. Wow....all of that because of a realization made possible only by the kind act of two strangers named Donna and Jeff......Looks like their mission to serve others for the glory of God is working!
Next up I am now only about ten days out of the Sierra Nevada mountain range that has been called the best hiking in the world by some, the range of light by others, and also quickly became one of Ansel Adams favorite canvasses. The hike will be epitimized by my climb to the 14,400 ft peak of Mt Whitney which is the highest point in the contiguous United States.

"Surely the brightest and best of all the Lord has built...It has the brightest weather, brightest glacier-polished rocks, the greatest abundance of irised spray from its glorious waterfalls, the brightest forests of silver firs and silver pines, more starshine, moonshine and perhaps more crystalshine than any ther mountain chain, and its countless mirror lakes, having more light poured into them, glow and spangle the most." --Ansel Adams writing of the Sierra Nevada

Have a peaceful day!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hooray For Hollywood

What a great stop this has been! We spent the night at our favorite trail angel Adrian's house last night in Glendale just outside of Hollywood. Him and his wife Snookie were gracious enough to let us take hot showers, gave us a warm bed, and even took us out for some hot and delicious Italian food! After dinner they even took us on a tour of Hollywood where we saw the walk of stars, Mann's Chinese Theatre, and an overlook that gave us vistas of the whole city. What a night to be a hiker! We are driving Pebbles back to LAX to fly home at 8am...I will be back on the trail shortly after that, to make my ascent of the 9400 ft Mount Baden Powell....and then head back down for five days in the scortching Mojave desert.....Pray for me! :)

Have a peaceful day!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Made It To Cajon Pass!

Today "Pebbles" (Debbie) and I made it to Cajon Pass! We got there and there was a short .4 mile walk to a McDonald's! I started by gorging myself on 3000 calories worth of sausage egg and cheese McGriddles....heaven in a plastic wrapper! I want to share with you Pebble's top ten list of things she enjoyed on her PCT section hike with me:

10. The beautiful and quaint village of Big Bear City
9. Viewful and immense vistas from the mountain tops
8. Camping...specifically being read to from "The kindness of strangers" by Mike McIntyre
7. The great feeling of physical exertion and physical challenge
6. The tasty treats waiting at the Cajon Pass McDonald's
5. Seeing three different rattle snakes from less than 5 feet away and not being bitten once
4. After 4 days of hiking stumbling down a mountain and finding an ice cream truck waiting by the side of the road to sell us 6 varieties of iced delicacies including snickers ice cream bars and snow cones
3. The amazingly wonderful and refreshing beaches of Silverwood Lake
2. Coming within 150 ft of a 140 pound mountain lion and getting to enjoy its beauty without becoming lunch!
1. Trail Angels.....they are the people that make us realize how important selfless dedication to others is. They are an example for us all.

The sense of accomplishment seems to be the overwhelming reason in retrospect to deal with the pain of blisters and body ache....That comes from any worthwhile activity so follow Pebble's lead and a sense of accomplishment in your own adventure today!