Seen the Movie, read the Book, bought the T-shirt?

He and She movie

We have been home now for approximately 4 weeks and we have squeezed a lot into that time. 1 wedding (my lovely niece Kirsten), 1 big birthday (yip not bad for an auld burd! and all you will read below…

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We had the amazing privilege to open the 2017 Inverewe Adventure Film Festival a few days after returning home. Also, we now have an amazing young man, Sean Hall, who is, somehow, going to make sense out of all our videos clips and stills and make an Adventure Film about our He and She Adventure. Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 15.12.05

All being well, we plan, to show the movie at next years film festival, please save the date, 21- 23rd of September 2018. We will keep you posted!

Also we are in discussions with the amazing Issie from World Adventure Guides  about guide books for the Oregon Coast Trail and the Powell River Canoe Trail.

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As we believe we should get a little more coverage about our adventure we have decided to extend our Just Giving page and Virgin Money Giving Page in the hope that we can raise even more money for our chosen charity, Syria Relief.

www.heandshehikethepct.wordpress.com

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Americanisms, our own language, PCT speak and more

Americanisms – We all know, from years of watching American sit-coms and movies, that our common language embraces a lot of diversity. Here are some ‘Americanisms’ (as we called them)IMG_2860.

  • Turn Out – passing place/lay by
  • Sidewalk – pavement
  • Pavement – tarmac/asphalt road
  • Hood – bonnet
  • Trunk – boot
  • Yield – give way
  • Trail – foot path
  • Restroom- toilet
  • Rucola – rocket
  • Zucchini- courgette
  • Cilantro- coriander
  • A1 – brown / HP SAUCE
  • To go – take away (food)
  • Jelly – jam
  • Shopping cart – trolley
  • Cable car – trolley/ tram (San Francisco)
  • Drip – filter Coffee (pot)
  • Pour over – filter coffee (single cup)
  • Biscuit – plain scone
  • Cookie- biscuit
  • Schucking corn – peeling corn
  • Heavy whipped cream – double cream
  • Gas – petrol
  • RV – motor home
  • Basement- cellar
  • Pants – trousers
  • Chickadee- tit (e.g.  Coal Tit)
  • Fanny – Bottom
  • Creek – burn/ stream
  • Gouch – gulley
  • Canyon- valley/ glen
  • Saddle – pass (over hills or mountains)
  • Overlook – view point
  • Railway ties- railway sleepers
  • Biscuits and Gravy (breakfast)  – Scone and white sauce (poured over scone)
  • Realtor-estate Agent
  • Washroom (Canada)- toilet
  • Dollar Tree ( Canada ) – $1.25 🙂
  • End to end – hotel to hotel
  • Hot flash – hot flush
  • Go potty – go for a pee (adults)
  • Yellow jackets = wasps
  • Defensible Space – area around your home cleared of combustible materials
  • Garbage – rubbish
  • Trash can – Rubbish bin.
  • Cattle gate – cattle grid
  • Remodeling- renovating
  • Pilot Car – convoy vehicle
  • Cotton tail – rabbit
  • Jack Rabbit – hare
  • Line – Queue
  • Dude ranch – A horse riding, cowboy type ranch for tourists
  • Schedule- timetable
  • Wolf pup – wolf cub

Life on the Trail has it’s own terminology to describe the ‘other world’ which you inhabit.

  • Trail Magic –  while walking the Pacific Crest Trail we were often blessed to encounter Trail Magic. This could be a plastic chair under the only shade tree for miles, or a cooler with water or cookies inside, day-hikers who had little bags of M&Ms which they gave as gifts of ‘trail magic’ to the smelly PCT hikers, a dumpster brimming with sugary drinks and cookies beside a sofa in the middle of nowhere on the trail, a picnic bench and parasol in the middle of the desert with two trail angels dishing out beer and ice-cream sandwiches etc.
  • Trail Angel – The selfless people who kindly offer support in a myriad of ways to Pacific Crest Trail hikers. These include our wonderful friends from back home in Scotland who, through their kindness, we knew things would be taken care of at home (Tracy & Roger, Margot & Andy, Katherine, Frank, Helen, Julia and Conor etc), our American team including, Paul and Jack (amazing kindness, their amazing cabin in Truckee, the best steaks in America, A real fourth of July etc.) , June and Wally (their home!, a comfy bed, washing, amazing food and great company), Jeanette (post office services, advice, lovely company and tasty lunch), all those who gave us a lift when we looked like tramps at the side of the road while hitchhiking (like Jen Jones), people who gave us cookies when we were sitting about minding our own business, for the Trail Angel’s whom we will never meet who stocked water caches, water coolers stuffed with food treats, shared their food, offered hikers places to rest and recuperate ( the Saufleys and Andersons etc). The list of Trail Angels and the over whelming displays of kindness we enjoyed cannot be adequately conveyed here. Without all the named and nameless Trail Angel’s our Adventure would not have been possible.  Thank you so much for being such wonderful people!
  • Suicide Squirrel – little furry creatures which wait until a car is whizzing down the road and they dice with death and try to cross the road, exactly at the same time (adrenaline junkie squirrels!)
  • PCT Refugee – Due to the extreme weather conditions this year on the PCT (current count of 6 deaths on the trial and 1 person still missing), many people wisely chose alternative long distance hikes. These PCTers officially became known as PCT Refugees in the US Press!  While walking the Oregon Coast Trail we could spot a PCT refugee a mile away and we greeted each other with the question “PCT refugee?”
  • Hiker Midnight – officially 9pm, any hiker awake beyond this time officially needs shot
  • Trail Name – Hikers, while walking the trail, could, if they choose to, accept a proposed trail name. These names were suggested by other hikers whom they were walking the trail with. Cory was quite happy with the name he was given at birth although I tried a ‘few on him’ to see if they would fit. I half ways accepted ‘Two Tokens” and “Radagast” and “Hedgebackwards”. I answered to all of the above.
  • Taking a Zero –  A complete day off the trail, with no trail walking, normally a day for resuppling in a town.
  • PCT Hobble – Every morning when we awoke and had to hobble to a ‘bush’ for our business, WE COULD NOT WALK! We hobbled, crippled unable to walk, hence the PCT hobble
  • SOBO & NOBO – South Bound (PCT hiker from Canada to Mexico), North Bound (PCT hiker, Mexican border to Canada)
  • Flip Flopping – Jumping ahead on the trail due to conditions, then returning to complete the section of trail you had to jump
  • Karma dollars –  Money you offer to Trail Angels who kindly offer you a lift. 99.9% of people say ‘keep your money’ but it is a politeness to offer a little bit of karma. (Sometimes we forgot to offer however…oops)
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Not only did we Walk the West coast but by having the opportunity to visit the National and State parks of America we got to ‘tick’ many more states. Here are a couple of words which sum of the various states and the impression they left on us. 

  • California – drugs, tented cities, cactus, wealthy, sales tax, pay for a bag, hot, easier hitchhike, high deserts, wind farms, solar farms, lots of people/ large population, water scarcity, gridlock traffic, amazing forests, snakes, lizards, humming birds.
  • Oregon – no sales tax, endless poly-pokes (shopping bags), beautiful empty sandy beaches, driftwood, north easterly winds (summer), Route 101, Hiker Biker campsites, Goonies, Lewis and Clark, temperate rainforest forest, tufted puffins, harder to hitchhike, lots of Scottish immigrants, houses for sale, wooden houses, marijuana shops, plentiful water, huge Tsunami zone.
  • Washington – Seattle, Bridge of the Gods and gridlock traffic.
  • Idaho – (no) potatoes. Flat. Grain silos. Prairie. Clark and Lewis river. Straight road.
  • Arizona – in transit
  • Utah – no booze, repressed, conservative, dry, farmland.
  • Nevada – not a lot there, hot, desert.
  • (Mexico. Baja California) – police checks, pigeon Spanish, good food, whales and mega pod dolphins, pot holes, amazing miles of desert wilderness.
  • Wyoming –  Yellowstone, open spaces. Teton.
  • Montana – country and western songs. Wolves. Cowboys. Cold. Dude ranch.

IMG_6170Our New Language – naturally while spending 5+ months with the same person, living in a confined green tent, eating, sleeping and walking together, as well as developing ESP powers of communication, we developed our own language.  Below are some words from the new language which evolved as we ceased to need to ‘speak’ to each other.

  • Taco Bell – Taco Hell
  • Starbucks – Starbowk
  • Breakfast = McDonalds – breakfast (2 for $2.50)
  • Pizza Hut – Pizza Gut (16″ pepperoni )
  • Cinnamon- Simon  (Simon is added to everything! Cory really doesn’t like Simon at all).
  • Burger King – Burger Ming
  • Greyhound bus – Greyhell bust  (Just how many Greyhell Bust journeys did I endure without air-conditioning in triple digit temperatures?)
  • Triple digits – Tortuously hot
  • Boltbus – BBB – Bolt bus (is) better

Due to the change of plans with the extreme weather conditions on the Pacific Crest Trail we had the wonderful opportunity to visit many of America’s National and State Parks.  We bought an American the Beautiful Pass which allowed us both, for only $80, to enjoy the wonders of the parks throughout the America. The pass is valid for a year but even if you only have a few weeks or a month to explore, it is amazing value. Below is a list of the parks which we can remember we visited… we probably visited more!  The highlights, for me, were Yellowstone (wolf and bear), Bryce (beautiful colours), Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Henry Cowell Redwood state park (the breathtaking trees). 

  • Bryce National Park
  • Arches National Park
  • Pinnacles National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Teton National Park
  • Sequoia National Park
  • Canyon Lands National Park
  • Kings Canyon National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Kaibab State Park
  • Oswald West State Park
  • Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area
  • Cape Kiwanda State Natural ARea
  • Bullards Beach State Park
  • Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park
  • Cape Lookout State Park
  • Beverly Beach State Park
  • Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
  • Donner Memorial State Park
  • Emerald Bay State Park

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The Strength to Make The ‘right’ decision! – SHE

Walking the Pacific Crest Trail was our original goal. I was more ‘relaxed’ in my definition of my ‘adventure’ to get from Mexico to Canada, preferably by ‘foot power’.

We have avidly followed the PCT Facebook pages, received updates from the internet and our Californian and Oregon friends. Primarily we were watching the record snow fall, then the lack of snow melt and of course when things did start to slowly melt, our attention widened to ‘creek crossings’.

It sounds quite benign doesn’t it? Creek Crossing. It sounds like a hop, skip and jump with butterflies and dragon flies sparkling in the sunlight, along with Huckleberry Finn.

The reality could not be more different!
Raging torrents, 2+ meters in depth, the force hurling huge tree trunks, boulders and debris.

I decided to skip the Sierras after various plans to ‘flip flop’ and come back and hike then later proved not feasible.

Cory, with his decades of mountaineering and white water experience, decided to hike the high Sierra. As we know 7 days into that adventure, he had the courage to make a hard decision and get off the trail. The reason for his departure? Not the snow but the creek crossings! One slip in the wilderness is all it takes and the conditions this year with 200% more snow = 200% more snow melt = treacherous!

We made the right decision for us! I’ve ‘Walked My Wild’. 🙂

Pacific Crest Trail and now the Oregon Coast Trail.

Mountain Rescue Services have been overwhelmed. We know of two+ deaths already on the trail. These have NOT been reported on the Officially PCT page!

Our Adventure continues. We continue to head North.

We are enjoying our Pacific West Travels!

 

Only the unofficial PCT Class of 2017 Facebook page mentions the deaths. Thus there will be more serious incidents which aren’t being collated.

R.I.P. Strawberry, Tree & Marvin 💕

The Perfect Goonie Family (4 celebrations and a pipe band! Much more fun that 4 Weddings & a Funeral) – SHE

One of my favourite all time kids movies. The Goonies and little did I know it was set in Oregon. Astoria to be precise which is indeed a real town and the huge rock in the sea used as part of the map to One Eyed Willies clue, is Haystack Rock which we will pass enroute while walking the Oregon Coastal Trail. The Marsh family are the main (lovely) characters of the movie.

Let me introduce to you Paula and Jack Marsh. The real life Marsh Family. This couple and their family have huge hearts. They met Cory when he was their guide during a Boundless Journeys holiday in Scotland and kindly offered their angel wings as we hiked the PCT.

When Cory ventured into the High Sierra, Paula and Jack offered me the refuge of their beautiful home in Folsom and their ‘cabin’ in Truckee.

A complete stranger to the family I turned up on their doorstep, all smelly and hot after a 5+ hour, triple digit temperature, greyhound bus ride from hell, into the midst of the families Fathers Day BBQ and pool party. (Celebration 1). A few days later, they kindly gave me the use of their gorgeous ‘cabin’ in Truckee and the use of their trusty Sequoia.


While Cory climbed the High Sierra and swam the wild creeks, I explored Truckee and tried to keep up my walking regime. In the meantime, Paula and Jack became Grandparents again to Baby Lincoln (celebration 2) and earlier than expected Cory came off the mountains due to the treacherous creek crossings.

We visited Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe (Vikings Holm) and (now a local myself) I gave Cory a guided tour of Historic Truckee and Doner Park with it’s sad story of the Doner Party.

We had a lovely walk and lunch with Jeanette, another amazing Trail Angel from Cory’s National Geographic guiding life. We explored the old Railway Tunnels together, built by the Chinese immigrants.

Paula and Jack (Juniper meow and Tucker woof) arrived in Truckee, laden with food and heaps of kindness. Giant steaks, wild salmon and Paula’s secret recipe waffles (your secret is safe with us!).

Even their friends opened their homes and hearts to us. We had a wonderful meal with Jan and Rick, with numerous bears stories and ‘bear not welcome’ electric mats 🙂

We enjoyed a ‘small town’s’ real Fourth of July celebrations. (Celebration 3). We were in downtown Truckee at 8am to get our deck chairs out (almost too late! Cory reckoned the Germans had been down at midnight :-). and then off to the Fire Department for their 4th of July Pancake Breakfast (think lots of squirty cream and super tasty sausages) . The parade was fantastic fun and I had a tear in my eye when I heard the pipes playing.

I felt Remarkably underdressed! For my next 4th of July parade I’ll make sure I’m ‘red, white and blued up’, with sequins and face paints!

Then home to the cabin to chill and watch The Goonies (again) in preparation for the OCT. Paula and Jack (and their now grown kids) nearly know all the lines of the movie !


We went to Lake Tahoe at night for the fireworks and Paula once more ensured our tummies were fit to burst with a gorgeous picnic feast. As we all sat under the showering starlight and tracers of the fireworks, their friends nephew proposed to his girlfriend. Thankfully there was a ‘yes’ and another big sparkly dancing light on her finger followed by champagne and brownies all round! (Celebration 4!)

Volume control – we didn’t get that lesson ( A little Observation) – SHE

Cultural differences of course we are bound to encounter them but there seems to have been a lesson which we were not a-party too!

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Of course, for the most part, people are hiking the trail alone. They will make friends as they walk. There are also the occasional couples but regardless of this, we missed the voice projection requirement of the PCT.
A hiker will come into a campsite, we may be about a 100 metres away and ‘boom‘ they start to speak. You would be able to hear them way back in Campo. Everyone has a story, we all know that, but the need to ensure that their Grand-mama can hear it way back in Missouri, without using the phone or skype, what is that all about, what need is there which I don’t understand?
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I can understand people’s need to connect, chat and bond, get their words in for the day. Men (2000), Women (10000) but the need for the Sonic Bomb, Blast, to broadcast the story far and wide, it is so strange to me. Or are 90% of those walking the PCT hard of hearing? Decided not to wear their hearing aids?
It does seem to be nationality specific for the most part too. Americans, Canadias, not Brits, older Germans no, younger Germans maybe, especially if they speak with American accents! (A years education in America perhaps?!)

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I find, when I talk, I am shocked at my volume. I sound like I am whispering.

Oregon Coastal Trail Day 1 and Day 2. – First Impressions Do Count 

We arrived at Brookings late in the evening after an early start in Folsom. We headed straight out of town to Harris State Park ( yes named after a Scotsman). There were no camping spaces left so we walked down the beach hoping for a secluded spot on the beach and then the beach ran out! Then we sensibly fished out the new OCT bible and read that there was no other options other than a wild camp. The Day Use area closed at 10 and by 10 our tent was erected snuggly hidden down amongst the picnic benches. It was perfect. 


They locked the loos though! We didn’t get in until 7am in the morning for a wee wash (amongst other things). 
Then we were off, day 1. 
Brookings to (not so) Secret Beach. (About 13 miles but who knows as we got lost so often ). 
First impressions? It’s absolutely gorgeous! In the woods we could be walking in Scotland! Lush, green and verdant. Bracken, brambles, wild raspberries, foxgloves and purple irises. Of course the trees are exotic but so much feels familiar. Although It’s not often in Melvaig though that pelicans fly over head, or a sea lion pops it’s head up to say hello!!
The trail? It’s very poor! Very very poor. Not maintained, misleading, contradictory, no signs or those which do randomly pop up are not at junctions, have no arrows and are frankly, pretty useless. Mostly the track is ‘rabbit track’ when going through the woods and also is very ‘uppy-downy’, tough on shins, Achilles and calfs’. 
Our first day was quite frustrating due to getting lost. Our book was not much help either. To be fair to the author it isn’t specifically a OCT guide but an Oregon Trails Guide and yet it does cover the Oregon Coastal Trail with a section after the ‘day hike section’ for folks like us Thru Hiking!
The mist gathered early in the morning, after our slow start and didn’t burn away until 11:30. Everything is new and beautiful and different from the PCT. We walked over creeks regularly (thus water wasn’t a problem) and managed to miss an entire beach walk (whales-head beach where are you?) due to the abysmal signposting.

  
The trail is essentially Day hikes with sections of trail to join these day hikes into a continuous coast trail. So far the day hikes are of reasonably quality and the ‘link trails’ are mostly very very poor. Today ,day 2 ,we had to bush whack through the ‘trail’ getting scrapped until we bled, with ripping brambles and we both had tingling skin tonight In patches (poison oak or ivy?). .


The views nearly make up for the hard-work trail. The coast so far has been spectacular, misty almost drizzly mornings building up to hot afternoons where the suns heat results in steam rising from shallow pools of sea water. 
The piles and piles of driftwood have been amazing! We don’t have trees that size in Scotland never mind driftwood. White, bleached, smooth and rough, from giant ancient trees to small white rounded twigs. Oh if only I had the energy and space to fill a bag with the beautiful weathered wood!
The trail is quiet (unlike the PCT) perhaps due to Most people walking north to south unlike us. We met a total of 5 SoBos today and met fellow PCT refugees!! 
Our campsite on day 1 was Secret Beach, a beautiful view from our little ledge overlooking the sandy cove and its hanging garden waterfall. I was shattered after my first day back on the trail. Asleep by 7pm,I didn’t awaken until a family noisily traipsed past our tent at 7am to forage giant mussels. The low low tide meant the mussels were exposed. 12 hours, what a part-timer!


We’ve walked from Secret Beach to Cape Sebastian today with a lot More sandy beach walking. This is very hard work when the tide is coming in and much better when it’s receding but at least, unlike the forest, you can’t really get lost (too much). 

We are often Taken onto Route 101,the coastal highway. This is a fast road and lethal. We’ve walked past three stinking carcasses of Mule Deer so far and it’s only day 2. We had 2.5 miles on the hard shoulder today, at least the caber/lumber lorries were fewer (because it’s a Saturday?). 

We’ve seen Mr Osprey catch an eel and also fly over us at our current campsite on Cape Sebastian carrying fish home For his fish supper! (We had a-mash potatoes and little chunks of cheddar, dinner, mmm). 

I like the trail, because it’s so different from the PCT, even if it feels like harder work! 

Oregon son of Aragon!

Cory had 7 days in the Big Scary Mountains and determined that the creek crossings (sometimes 5 feet deep of swift, white water) were simply too dangerous. He got off the High Sierra and has now made it to Truckee where I have been waiting for him. (Courtesy of wonderful Paula and Jack). 
We can see from the PCT facebook page that 100s of people have either skipped the Sierra entirely or gave it a go and decided after a few days, that it was simply too dangerous. 

So what are we to do? It’s not any better further north at present! It’s either very deep snow or worse, impassable raging creeks!


Meet the Oregon Coast Trail! 

382 coastal miles!  We will still be walking to Canada, up through Oregon, just on the coast. 

Then, conditions permitting, we can get back on the PCT at the Bridge of the Gods, and walk through Washington and into Canada! 

Then best laid plans of mice and men…:-) 

 ( we are now on plan C) 

(A) typical day on the trail – SHE

We do have a sort of rhythm to our day. We are up early 5, 5:30, 6 or 6:30. Ideally we like to be on the trail by 6am.

Waking up
Surprisingly Cory is normally first to awake, at first this was probably due to me wearing my Scotrail (eye mask)! But really I’m just comatosed:-)
One of us will have baked or brewed by then. Mandy bakes and Cory for some reason brews. At the very least one of us will be bursting for a peepee (if not our poop).
While one of us hobbles off to a secluded spot. The person left in the tent starts to deflate the Thermarests and stuff the sleeping bags and silkies into their sacks. If it’s me I’ll be wet wiping my hands and face, brushing teeth, inhalers. If it’s Cory he’ll probably have the tent packed away by the time I return!
A quick slug of water and we are off. We will walk for either two hours or until first water (between 4,5,6 miles). Or if we are walking into town we may hike a 7, 8 or 9miles, as the promise of a hot breakfast has amazing powers to lure us to keep walking.
Thus in approximately 2 hours we have breakfast.

Breakfast
We take off our shoes! Let the socks dry (they will be soaking with sweat), let the feet air and reduce their swelling.
We, Cory the Stove Controller, will heat some water if it is Ramen (for Cory), Porridge (for Mandy), or we may just be adding cold water to our Muesli & Powdered milk mix! Breakfast can last from 1/2 an hour to an hour (on average 45 minutes I would say).
Then I try to do 1 hour of my Pimsleur Spanish, now because this definitely does feel like hard work I can come up with many excuses ‘not’ to do it, but I have now completed, the full 30 lessons in Pimsleur Spanish 1! Next I will reward myself, if the iPod has enough charge, with listening to an audio-book. I didn’t start off listening to a book on the trail, but it somehow takes my mind off how hot I am, how sticky I am, how much I smelly, how difficult it is….my monologue with myself…
We will normally have another break in 2 hours, where we will sit again and air our feet. Perhaps having a snack (trail mix or bar).
In the desert (basically all of Southern California) we stopped approximately every 1/2 hour for a standing drink of water.
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Lunchtime
Lunch will be around 12:30 or 13:00 depending on distance covered, fatigue, suitable place to stop. Lunch is rarely something which is warm. Normally we will get the solar charger out, it may have already been out at breakfast, to charge the iDevices. My iPod charges quickly (and empties quickly), Cory’s iPhone needs a lot of iJuice, charges slowly and retains it’s charge very well.
Then we rouse ourselves again for approximately 2 more hours of walking, again stopping again for shoes off, snack if required and available (maybe nuts of a granola type bar, or clif bars if we splurged). We keep walking until we reach our destination.
Each morning we know roughly where we want to reach, the distance we want to cover and camp. Normally the destination will be water and or campsite, which means we have to carry less during the day if we know we will have water to cook our tea. We don’t really ‘cook’ our Tea (dinner) of course. We heat up water and either add it to our Ramen noodles, or our Idahoan Mashed potato. These are the two items we normally have for dinner. Sometimes we might have Knor ‘just add water type pasta or rice’ dish, but these require about 7 minutes of heating and stirring and are and must be economical with the fuel. So yes it is normally tatties or noodle soup, perhaps pimped with salami if we have any!
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Campsite
On reaching our destination for the night, Cory will scout out the best place to put up the tent (we try to be away from others, leaving plenty of space for others). It will mostly be a wild camp, although having access to a picnic bench is heavenly!
Then we start erecting the tent. I get heavier items ready to throw into the tent to hold it down as the PCT is usually or certainly often, windy at night and our free standing TerraNova Tent could easily blow away (until we are in it of course!). Tent erected, we put out the blue mat (Poundlands special!),and we may have to filter water for our Tea (Dinner).
Cory is a control freak about the stove. So mostly he is the Head Cook,I am the bottle washer. I will feebly blow up the two Thermarests while he prepares dinner. We eat from the pots or our Poundland mugs and then I use a wee bit water and a wet wipe if I have one, to clean our pots.
Then it is ablution time. Pretty much as soon as our dinner is finished, perhaps around 7pm, we get tucked up into our tent. We may have a flannel wash if there is water, maybe even put our feet in the creek and have a ‘good old scrub about our bits’ but mostly, due to the water situation, we have a wet wipe. We are sticky, dirty, hot, smelly even after the WetWipe!
I will brush out my Pocahontas hair, if I haven’t done it while the Head Cook was busy, and re-plait my hair again. Then it is teeth, pee etc. Finally we will be tucked into the tent. If Cory is listening to one of my audio-books we might put it on for our bedtime story and set the sleep timer to 1/2 an hour. I rarely last the 1/2 hour…shattered!
We will normally be asleep by 8pm (ish), assuming no noisy neighbours, hurricane winds etc.
Midnight Pee?
I try so hard not to have to leave the warmth of my tent at night. Cory has to water the garden at least once during the night. If I have managed to keep it in all night, then in the morning it is Elephant Pee time!

Climbing Mt Whitney – HE

Thursday, June 22

YouTube video of the day- https://youtu.be/UI39wlQuvu0

Although not directly on the PCT route Mt Whitney is only about 8.5 miles off the trail and is a regular climb for hikers on the PCT trail. 

With the weather set fair with a stable weather system, clear nights and hot days so perfect weather to head up to the summit at 4421m. Highest mountain in the lower 48 states.

After the winter snows I certainly wasn’t sure how much snow would be on the trail but you can only give it a go!

Set off at 5 AM to Crabtree Ranger station along the trail up to the mountain. Not quite first light but twilight enough for there to be an army of mosquitos biting at my heels. 

The valley was beautiful, Ponderosa Pines set against alpine mountains and as I walked higher and the trees diminished the valley opened up into a broad glacial trough with lakes at its base and steep exposed rocky slopes.

Walking steadily up the valley but not gaining much altitude it was hard to imagine how you were going to climb out of the steep rocky amphitheatre.

There was lots of snow in the valley base which was fairly easy to walk on and quite crunchy at this early hour. There were plenty of footprints from those that had gone before so there wasn’t really any route finding problems (good job as I didn’t have a map!).

At the head of the valley the steep back wall turned into a good track but on a long series of zig zags.

The switchbacks were hard work and I started to feel the altitude and slowed down significantly. However it provided a great way to slowly climb and gain altitude.

Once on the top of this stone shoot of switchbacks it was about 1 1/2 miles along a slow ascending ridge to the summit of Whitney. 

It was a beautiful clear morning with around 10 other people enjoying the great 360 views of the whole Sierras from the summit. The summit hut must have had its door blown off during the winter as it was full of snowdrifts.

After about 40 minutes on the summit I started back down the mountain reversing the route up. As always going down hill at altitude you can feel your sucking in more oxygen on the descent which was almost a jog. Came down fairly quickly, final valley snow fields were slightly slushy but no post holing.

Bouncing along. Back at tent by 2:30 PM.

Immortality and river crossings – HE

Today there were quite a few river (creek) crossings. Many of them were just knee to thigh deep wades against the current flow a few of them were in really swift water.

YouTube video of creeks

https://youtu.be/s4bvScrHEEg
I have done plenty of river crossings before, obviously in Scotland and on a infamous trip to the Inylchek Glacier in Kyrgyzstan. In Scotland rivers and burns will spate a few hours after heavy rain or during snow thaw periods. This makes them hazardous to cross but quite often by waiting a few hours ( or overnight) the burns flow will drop significantly to allow them to be forded more safely.

Here in the Sierras many of the creek catchments are quite large and after last winter’s record snow fall and the current heat wave creating maximum thaw, what would normally be fairly easy crossings are wades against thigh to waist high swift water torrents. ​​​​

As a solo hiker I’m very much on my own when it comes to crossing all of these creeks which are swollen with the meltwater from the excessive snow in the mountains. Also it’s not just one creek your going to have to cross, it’s lots. One risky steps may be justifiable but add a few of them together and probabilities start playing on your mind.  ​

It felt a little like being a lead climber when you’re on the crux of a tough route, already above your last piece of gear, which wasn’t that great. The holds you have aren’t great and you know you need to step up to find the next hold.As you step up all your thinking is there better be hold as I reach around this corner if there’s not I’m in big trouble!

When crossing these creeks once you’re in the main flow facing upstream with your walking Pole in front of you to lean on, your pack is on your back but not tied on to you. You know you have to take the next step sideways, and you also know that one slip means you will be in the drink and swimming. 

But you have to take that step or you won’t get across. Today when  crossing one of the creeks I certainly felt pretty nervous as I tried to sidestep my way from one side to the other and came back to the nearside as I felt I could fall in.

There are plenty of dead trees and debris which has been washed down the creeks to get pinned against or under.

After having had a pretty big crack to the head earlier today as well, I think discretion is the better part of valour and I decided it would better to come back and try again another day!

There have been lots of messages from people on the trail, via social media, about the creek crossing conditions. Only a couple of weeks before hand, these creeks had some snow bridges which trekkers used to get across. But now after the heat wave these have all gone. The long days and hot weather meant that snow melt higher up the valleys was massive and peak flows were occurring. Reports of people swimming across creeks didn’t inspire me so dropping out of the Sierras seemed like the best option for the moment.