Scottish Adventure Travel Film Festival

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 20.55.53STOP PRESS – Scottish Adventure Travel Film Festival

Inverewe Gardens, Wester Ross

Event Details

15-17 September 2017

Cory Jones and Mandy E. Rush have been asked to open this prestigious event and speak about their recent adventure trip walking the Pacific Crest trail and the Oregon Coastal Trail.

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San Juan Islands – let there be Orca – SHE

On my goals for 2017, among many other wonderful dreams, is to see Orca in the wild. Yes, we have a reasonably local pod off the West Coast of Scotland but they are quite a rare sight.

After lots of research and looking at logistics we ruled out getting to Vancouver Island after finishing the Oregon Coastal Highway. Too far away and expensive to get to, as we plan to visit Yellowstone for Wolves, bear and moose and be back in Oregon for the Solar Eclipse.

The San Juan islands are in Washington state and reasonably easy to get too! We take a bus from Florence to Eugene and then another bus to Seattle. We catch a shuttle bus from Seatac airport to Anacortes and a ferry over to Friday Harbour on the main island, San Juan. It’s a two day trip to get to San Juan and it has the feeling of Gairloch. It’s bustling with tourists and all the locals know each other. The islands main industry is tourism, just like back home. However here their are scores of kayak and whale watching boats. Welcome to the island that boasts the Orca Highway.

The resident pod of Orca eat salmon, thus behave differently from the transient pods of Orca which frequent the waters off the coast of the San Juan Islands and Canada.

We catch the local bus ($5 p/p about 4 buses a day) to San Juan County Park which has a hiker biker camp. There are toilets with running water, charge points in the toilet or at the rangers office. For once the Hiker Biker camp, is the best spot in the campsite.

The temperatures are topping triple digits on the mainland and San Juan, although not quite so hot, is dry and balmy. We erect our tent as close as possible to the sea and plan our Orca sighting optimisation plan. The sunsets from the park are magnificent and the lights of Vancouver Island wink at us as it turns from dusk to dark.

There are warnings everywhere about the resident raccoons and thankfully there is a communal food locker for the hiker bikers. Despite this during the night I am awoken. There is something outside the tent. If I didn’t know better I would sweat it was a hippopotamus ripping up hunks of grass with its massive mouth. The noise of the rip and munch is so loud! What can it be? I sit up and look out the mesh of the tent door and I see the delicate silhouette of a graceful black tailed deer. She is gazing at me. I Am gazing at her! She is beautiful! After a while she tires of inquisitively looking at me the big red caterpillar. and resumes her hippo impersonation moving further down the meadow towards the sea.

The Orcas are well know to be visible from the coastline from our park and also Lime Kiln park, down the coast a few kilometres. This is the Orca Highway. The salmon run up the west side of the island and the hunters follow their prey.

Based on all our research we book a kayak trip and dream of our Orca Experience. The kayak trips leave from Small Pox bay, in our park, so we wait for our guide and the other clients to arrive. We chat to our neighbours in the campsite. They have a yacht and travel these waters often and are touring the island with their bikes for a few days. We are the only hikers at the park, the rest of the people are either cyclists or have vehicles. We we chat their little dog heads for the porch of our tent. Cory hollers a ‘hey’ at the dog and the mum quickly retrieves the dog.

Later we I go to renter the tent and get ready for our kayak I find a little horrid parcel the dog had left for us on our porch!!!! Dogs always on the leash, the rules are there for a reason. Yuck!!! Thankfully it was a wee dog! The ‘parents’ are horrified, I’m reasonably matter of fact about it, Cory ‘is Not happy about it’.

After initially accidentally signing into the wrong group! Our guide and van arrive and we set off!

We see Bald Eagles, curious seals, harbour porpoise, millions of tiny fish, various jellyfish but we have one track minds. ORCA. The sea is tranquil and still, like a pond, not the open sea. I feel quite calm in the double kayak with my expert at the back. Cory takes a wee while to get used to having a rudder though! I just paddle as instructed and hope for the best.

We stop for lunch and based on cryptic comments from our guide and the other clients I ask. “Did we miss some Orca information on the mini bus? Are the Orca not around?”

Our guide admits yes we had missed a bit of information on the trip over. The ‘resident orca’ have ceased to be resident. The salmon have disappeared and thus the Orca have too, worse, this isn’t a recent occurrence. The sightings had plummeted in 2016 and 2017 it had gotten a lot worse. Salmon numbers were down to 20% of what they were a few years ago. The Orca now rarely frequent the ‘Orca super highway’.

This is the best kept secret of the San Juan islands where the tourism industry is built of the whales (as well as sport fishing). People don’t come here to kayak, they come to kayak with Orca.

The day ceases to hold any interest for me after that. I can go kayaking, we can go kayaking whenever we want. We live beside the sea, we kayak with Otter and curious seals.

Quite discontent and feeling quite ill treated at this information we rethink our strategy. We book a super fast rib from Friday Harbour the next day, as there are many transient pods of Orca in the Saltish Sea. With a fast boat we maximise our chance of being able to get to any pods, if sighted.

We had to get up and on the road by 7am. The local bus doesn’t start until 10:30 so we will have to walk the 10 miles across the island. If we don’t get a hitch this leaves enough time to get into town by foot. 2 miles into our hike, a young Dutch couple stop and empty their back seat. They have just left our campsite and are headed for the ferry at Friday Harbour. Kerching ! Cory impresses them with a ‘Dank vel!’

The smog from the wildfires in Canada have made the day hazy and humid. We get kitted up in the warm suits and head from

Canadian waters where the captain says Orca have been spotted. It will take us about 1hour 10 minutes to get to the area. After yesterday’s disappointment, we are a bit scared to get our hopes up!!

There is a naturalist on board also but we travel so fast there isn’t much she can say and be heard. The captain, with 20 years experience, seems to know just as much as our guide.

We bump across the flat seas and visibility across the waters is fantastic. If the orca are there, we will see them!

The groups of boats are the give away that we have reached our destination. The tour boats have to stay at least 400yards away from

The Orca to decrease disturbing the whales. Of course if he Orca dive and come up closer to the boat, then you have ‘lucked out’.

Then silently the huge dorsal fins break the surface of the calm grey waters. It is breathtaking!

When they dive we never know where exactly they will reappear. We watch them silently break the waters surface, usually take about three quiet breaths and dive again.

The transients are hunting. They will eat porpoise or seals etc. Thus they behave differently from the resident salmon eating pods. They are silent. They breath as one. They are quiet. They are stealthy.

They are spellbinding.

They are magnificent.

They are beautiful.

We are thrilled. When, after 40 minutes, the captain says we will have to start heading back. We are gutted. I want to stay with them for hours.

Our captain was good however as he, unlike many other boats, kept a respectful distance from the whales. It was interesting to watch the other boats and how they flouted the rules. Also how the boats were ‘almost’ listing to one size with the weight of all their tourists leaning over one side of the boat.

Thrilled we return to Friday Harbour and catch the 4 times a day bus back to the park.

Day three and the Orca pressure is off! We have a day off sitting at our campsite and gazing at the sea.

Day four, again we start hitching into town before the bus service. A lady picks up about a mile into our hike, again she is from our campsite and has a lovely big dog called Bear. She drops us off at a busier junction as she is headed for English Camp. Immediately after getting dropped off Elaine picks us up, she’s in a rush so we scoot into the car and whoosh have a lovely chat as she heads into town in a hurry.

Our initial ferry departing Friday Harbour was late, we get back into town late. We’ve missed the bus that will take us back home. We manage to get to the supermarket before the 60+ cyclists manage to locate it and empty it of booze and crisps and then head to the ‘bus stop’. There is a bus but it won’t go as far as our park. It stops 5 miles before our park and then turns and heads back to town.

We ask to get dropped off as close to the park as possible and the driver recognises us. She’s says if no one else gets on the bus she will take us all the way home. No one else does get on, we are very lucky ( and great full) and leave here a tip as well as our fare!

We leave he island on Saturday and have to be at Friday Harbour by 6am. Cory arranges for a taxi to pick us up at 5:20 and it’s a groggy 4:45 that sees us packing up the tent in the dark.

We wait for the taxi at the park entrance as we sleepily remove ‘sleep’ from our eyes. 5:15, 5:20, 5:25, 5:30. Cory phoned the company, no answer. He phoned them again and leaves a message. 5:35. He tried again. He then phoned our (return journey prepaid) shuttle driver to explain that our taxi hasn’t picked us up! He says that even if he shows up now, we won’t make it as he is about to board. He said we could try for the 8am ferry and try and catch the Bellair shuttle. 5:40 and we start walking.

Trudge. Trudge trudge. Our bus leaves Seattle at 2pm! IF we catch he 8am ferry. IF we can get space on Bellair Shuttle. Will we reach Seattle in time for our next prepaid bus to Portland?

3 miles, we walk three miles and no a single vehicles passes us! At the English Camp junction we hear a truck.

I don’t hitch! Apparently I “pulled a face” which Cory said I should use every time we are hitching. Hehe!

I didn’t use my thumb either! I flagged the truck down! The driver didn’t have a chance!

He was opening his boot before I even explained our predicament. What an angel!

He was a local cafe owner on his way to open up!

He said that the Island operated on its own agenda and wasn’t entirely surprised we had been let down by our taxi driver! We had assumed their was only one company on the island but he explained there was a few!

We arrived in good time and headed for a coffee and to charge our iPhones. We needed to arrange our onward journey and get the taxi driver! Cory phoned and phoned the taxi company and left messages. No one phoned us back!!!

I phoned the taxi company, with my different number, and someone answered. I passed the phone to Cory.

After chatting to the driver on duty it was established that our driver should have been BoB the owner of the company. The driver said he would phone Bob and get a solution and call us back. He did call back and said Bob had forgotten to write our booking in his book! And?

He said Cory should call Bob in the office. Again Cory called and called. He left messages. No response. Cory phoned the driver back and explained Bob ‘wasn’t answering his phone’! The driver then gave Cory Bobs mobile ( well it wasn’t his mistake was it!).

Bob answered his mobile!

Cory, thankfully, managed to remain calm and explained we had now missed our prepaid shuttle to Seattle and would also miss our prepaid bus to Portland.

Bob said he would be with us in 10 minutes to give us money to cover our costs! We then set about trying to get reservations on the Bellair shuttle and change our BoltBus booking. Bob appeared with seconds to spare as we prepared to board the ferry. We got $160 to cover our costs.

We secured seats on Bellair. We managed to get our BoltBus tickets changed we would make it to Portland that night for our prepaid Airbnb. And we even had money left over for a lovely late lunch in Seattle. The most awesome Chinese.

It had been quite stressful! We were just glad we hadn’t been heading to the airport for a flight only bus connections or the consequences would have been a lot more

Disruptive.

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!)

Southern Section of the Oregon Coastal Trail (Day 3-7) – SHE

Day 3. The Oregon Coastal Trail. Cape Sebastian to Humbug State Park

My feet are sore. How quickly I’ve lost my PCT conditioning despite my efforts to maintain. Walking on the hard shoulder of the 101 doesn’t help.

We had a lovely start this morning up and over Cape Sebastian, having sipped our tea in the tent watching the Osprey repeatedly fly over with all manner of fish. After which we were faced with a 5+ mile walk on the 101 highway again, so we opted to hitch into Gold Beach (named after gold was found their a few centuries ago) for a nice breakfast and phone charge.

The hitch took longer than PCT averages but eventually a gentleman took pity on us. He regaled us with stories of global warming and solar black spot research by Russians and how the next mini ice age is imminent. He’d been out early to harvesting giant muscles (which might be what they call Razor Clams) and gave some to us for the supper. We headed to Double Ds the ‘happening place ‘ in Gold Beach and it was a lovely Eggs Benedict breakfast for me and American Fry up with our favorite hash browns for Cory 😉 (Guns welcome if you keep them in their holster!!)

Then another road walk out of town and over another McCullough Bridge to the beach. The wind was fierce, the infamous north easterly, but since we saw 3+ bald eagles, it was worth it!

By late afternoon it was time to try our thumbs again, Humbug Hill our destination (Cory preferred to call it Hamburger Hill) here we would find out first Hiker Biker campsite. Ellen and Dave were our trail angels after a wee wait, phew.

Hiker Biker pitch. Only $5 per person, including a hot shower and sockets in the loos to charge our iDevices ( not forgetting clean water, picnic benches and sit down loos).

We had ramen and giant muscles for tea! A bit of protein and very juicy. Yum.


Day 4.

Humbug Mountain to Cape Blanco state park

We climbed out of Humbug State park and once again we broke the silk trip wires of millions of spiders, the first Hikers on the trail despite the not so early start. We were headed for a section of trail on the old 101, well above the current fast highway. We walked past more banks of sweet peas and then had a 1.5 mile road walk of the real highway before dropping onto the beach to head towards Port Orford.

Cory had planted the seed of Bagels and Cream Cheese for breakfast so morale was high. Port Orford had a lovely vibe compared to Nesika ( yesterday, think American werewolf in London or The Living Dead), the wind had picked up and we walked through town, being passed by mini south bound cyclists.

Rays Supermarket provided the bagels and cream cheese among some other delights (family size bag of Lays Crisps) and we found a piece of pavement and had brunch, then to a cafe for a coffee (Cory), smoothie (Mandy) and phone charge.

Refreshed we were ready to Tackle the 5.5 miles of beach walk into the wind. The guidebook warned that it was a hard beach. (Super soft sand). Prepared for a battle we found the going not too bad underfoot. The wind however was a different story! Cory had just remarked that at least the sand being whipped up, was only hitting our legs. Then god turned his hairdryer on full and whoosh. Our faces were sandblasted. We already had our Gortex jackets on at this stage, my Tilley Hat had wrapped itself around my neck in an effort to Evade the wind (or choke me!) and our sun creamed faces now resembled Sand sculptures of our faces! It was tough!
Eventually we got to the Elk river. Armed with my poles, Cory bravely stepped into the estuary and immediately disappeared up to his knee. Hmmm tide table check? We found a huge piece of driftwood and tried to shelter as I brought up the tide table.
Time 14:21

High tide 14:24

Low time 19:30

Hmmm a long long wait to get over the river!

iPhone out, I brought up a map. It looked like a dirt track up the cliff. Could we cross the river further upstream and reach Cape Blanco by a different route, rather than wait until the evening to cross the river?

We thought it was worth a try as we were being battered by the wind and were slowly being buried under tiny grains of sand.

An hour later Cory thought he saw a possibility. Again armed with my poles he set off across the Elk river. At its deepest it was just over his knees and not too fast flowing. 

He then came back and escorted me over the three sections of the river. The deepest point on me was up to my shorts.

Now? Hmm No trespassing. They have guns (and dogs) in Oregon. We skirted a field and headed for the track we saw on the IPhone map. We traipsed through fields and skirted farms that felt like the countryside of Perth.

After a wee break, after the mini adventure, it was already 4pm! Again we headed through another farm stead and thankfully again it looked like no one or their dog was home. Then we passed a man in his pick up, taking a break from corral building.

Cory sent me back to ask about a short cut to the campsite or was it four miles (big circular route?!). I went back and dutifully enquired about our options.

Now where you from?”

“Scotland”

” well let me go back and get my car and I’ll take you! My mother would sure like to meet you! She’s a Mackenzie from Scotland”
So yes, he went and collected his car. Then took us back to the house we had passed previously. His mum was surprised and delighted to meet us, the Mackenzies from the Black Isle, sheep farmers now and then and we got a lift to the Campsite!

They cursed the gorse brought over from Scotland for hedging as it had went wild in Oregon and they also had a problem with Coyotes now decimating their flock. Her mother and father still used the beach as the highway to get to Bandon.

Hiker Biker Campsite with hot showers and USB charge stations for $5 pp. Fantastic:-)

Day 5 

Cape Blanco to Bullards Beach Hiker 
Two days of the North Easterly wind and we need a new plan. Walking south to north was proving to be no fun rather than gorgeous. Out of the wind the trail is lovely but being slowly harled with a coating of sand while battling a path forward was gruelling.

We needed to do some Research! How to get to Astoria and then walk the route south. We had our last bagels smothered in cream cheese as we lounged in our tent checking Amtrak and local bus timetables. A cheeky chipmunk had been sneakily ducking in and out of the underbrush and finally he decided the time was right, our attention on our bagel breakfast and disappeared into our lunch food bag!! Cheeky! Next he disappeared with a used teabag!! That did it, he wasn’t back again.

Also our gas somehow ran out and our lighter died, we needed a store! Armed with a plan we packed camp and headed off to hitch to Bandon. We had a record breaking hitch. 2nd car, wait time of 30 seconds.

Meet the Mushroom Man. This fella, when not working in construction in the oil industry, collects all sorts of mushrooms and sells them

Commercially!! For approximately 16 miles we got the insider information of all local mushrooms, their selling price per pound and where they could be found (assuming the landowners permission). “You don’t want to trespass in Oregon”!

The new problem he was encountering? Marijuana is now legal in Oregon and everyone can have 4 plants for personal use. People have a lot of land in Oregon and some people had ‘ a lot more than 4 plants’ and didn’t like people walking about their land to ‘collect mushrooms’.

In Bandon we got gas, lighter and more bagels etc. And walked onwards to our next hiker biker camp at Bullards Beach State Park. We meet Stuart aka Fixit (2015 pct they hiker) “hey are you guys pct refugees?” “Yes” “your number 18 and 19”! “Are you walking south to north?” “Yes but we are about to change that” “that’s a very wise idea”. Stuart having walked from the north gives us quite a few tips for our up and coming reroute before early bed.
Day 6. Bullards Beach to Sunset Bay state park at Cape Arago

Up and at it early as we had a plan and my thermarest had misbehaved last night. Slow puncture? I awoke in the middle of the night feeling every bump of the floor and had to perform some mouth to mouth resuscitation.

Tea and bagel for breakfast ( oh the joys of having frequent villages enroute) and off we set towards the beach.

Following Stuart aka Fixit’s advice we walked along the boardwalks and sandy paths and then paths parallel to the beach rather than the sand itself and made good time for the first 2.5 miles.

Mr raccoon had been on the boardwalk before us and left behind his little wet paw marks. And a chunky black, slow salamander made his way across the sandy trail to the beach as we progressed along.

Having learnt our lesson re. Tide times, we had to get around Five Mile Point at low tide. We managed the five miles of Whisky Run Beach and hit the point exactly on low tide, 9am (all the muscles and sponges were exposed). Then onwards to Seven Devils Road (Hills!!).

This was another 5.5 miles of mostly gravel path. We started counting off the ‘devils’, the old route the locals took with their mules and wagons. I spotted a handful of wild turkey grazing at the side of fields, long legged and surprisingly fast.
After a lovely lunch of more bagels, crisps, cookies and hot tea we felt fortified enough to tackle the ‘ no trespassing ‘ section of today’s trail (don’t trespass in Oregon they have guns and dogs!). The books description of this section was poor, so armed with the iPhone’s Satelitte image we tried to find the route.

Again more gravels roads but this time a lot less travelled. Cory spotted an elk quietly grazing by the side of our trail. On spotting us, it gracefully trotted out of sight.

We walked through the forest, through sun and shade, up and down. Cory regularly checking on the IPhone that ‘all looked well’. The old road was slowly becoming less defined, over grown with grass and lined with wild flowers, the scent of the flowers and their pollen heavy in the air.

Cory had just been counting his chickens. “We are nearly there, probably only another 30 minutes” and we literally hit a wall of brambles!

Cory went scouting for the path! I sat down in the lush meadow and peeled off my soaking socks and tended my sore ‘trench feet’ toes. 10 minutes later and the intrepid explorer was back having found a deer track around the bramble forest.

Mummy Mule deer was in the meadow with her two little babies also grazing happily on the rich leaves and grasses. She seemed to be looking straight at us but since the grass was up to our necks she obviously couldn’t quite see us until we loaded up our packs onto our backs.

15 minutes of bushwhacking and we were back on the trail, eventually coming out along the side of a golf course. We passed a house with a big (not doing its job well) thankfully friendly Alsatian and lots of ginger chickens obviously long lost cousins of my lovely Weasley Sisters. After another hour, the entrance of the state park was just around the corner.

Hiker Biker campsite number 3. After our unlimited hot water showers, We polished off the nachos and chocolate chip cookies washed down with tea and powdered milk. Then more S-mash and ‘sausages’ for tea.

What a great wildlife day!


Day 7. Sunset Bay to Coos Bay

What a night!

Numpties bumbled into our site around 11:30 and they were still be noisy an hour late! Cory popped his head out and asked “will you be going to bed soon? We are trying to sleep”.
Then at 4am they were at it again! Again Cory asked them to be quiet!

Very tired this morning due to such a poor sleep. Our plan to walk the beach to Charleston foiled! We finally dragged ourselves out of the soggy tent at 7am, packed and ate breakfast.

Cory lifted their helmets, as they were still sleeping(!!!!) and reported them to the ranger station ( they can’t leave without their helmets!).

We walked the four miles to Charleston and within 20 minutes, Sean ex-military, Harley enthusiast, kindly dropped us off at the bus stop shop for our ticket and transport to Eugene and onwards to Astoria for a new North To South route.

Just another Poop in the woods

Frodo and Scout trained me so well! The day before day1 of our hike, we stayed at Trail Angel’s Frodo and Scout’s in San Diego.
We were blessed to have a bed in their home. They fed and cared for 40+ Thru Hikers that night and are incredibly kind.
After pizza and before the cupcakes, they gave us their Orientation and Welcome Speech.
One thing which really stuck with me was “Pack it in, Pack it out”.
Scout (Barney), spoke about the amount of hikers now doing the trail and how it was becoming a brown poop trail. When only 400 people were hiking the PCT a year, it may have been reasonable to bury your loo-paper the 6 inches below ground with your poop. With 2000+ now attempting the trail? But now the little critters were very interested in the ‘smells’ and now dig up the holes, placing a rock over the area is not going to make any difference.
Now soiled toilet paper hangs from the trees like disgusting brown ribbons.
To be honest, at the time, I thought, it cannot be that bad!
Day 1 of our hike, at camp, Cory and I went for a wee walk, away from the herd, to find a place to bathe where it might be a bit more private. I needed a peepee and went off to what I thought was a secluded spot. Clearly others had had that idea also. When I went behind the large boulder, the air was full of humming, lots of big bumbling glistening black flies! It was worse than anything Scout or Frodo could have described, I was confronted with lots of mounds of poop!
Whomever had been there had not even dug a poop hole! Their paper was strewn everywhere too.
I thought I might vomit with the sight and the smell!
I was a convert.
From day one, we had a little Ziplock bag in our ‘toilet’ bag, and the soiled paper goes in and I pack it out! Yes it is pretty gross having 5 days of poop paper with you but the wilderness shouldn’t have to endure any more than what we already put it through!
We also have scented bacterial gel in the ‘toilet’ bag. My stomach now revolts at the smell of the bacterial gel ( buy non-scented!), due to the ‘poop’ association but it gives us a higher degree of hygiene than we would otherwise enjoy where there are no facilities to wash our hands after the act!
And regular? Heck yes, it is as soon as we get up or not at all…. Unless we are heading into town that day for a resupply… then we both wait for the luxury of a toilet and washing facilities 🙂

In the Footsteps of Wild? What do I have to do to earn “Wild” status? – SHE

Cheryl Strayed walked 1055 miles (the PCT is 2650ish) , she didn’t start at the start! I never noticed that when I read her book, I guess I didn’t know enough about the PCT at the time. She started at Tehachapi Pass, about 40 days into our walk!

Despite just getting on the trail at Tehachapi, she got off the trail at Lone Pine, as the snow on the Sierra’s was bad. I don’t think it was a 200% more than normal year but she didn’t feel competent enough to continue.

strayed map.pngShe then bounced onward to Sierra City next and then got back onto the trail and finished at the Bridge of the Gods between Cascade Locks, Oregon, and Washington state. Not the final end of the hike in Canada.

I have already walked 650 official PCT miles and I too will be skipping the high Sierra due to the big snow year and now the treacherous creek crossings.

So now my hike has turned into something of a “Wild’ Adventure.I now only have to walk another 450 miles of the PCT to earn ‘Wild’ Status….

I am frustrated I have had to skip the Sierras but I would have been risking my life and Cory’s patience and sanity!

I still intend to walk to Canada Inshallah!

cropped-bridgeofthegodssign2.jpg

First impressions – HE

Just arriving at Idyllwild. Eleven days and approx. 160 miles into the trek. No major injuries or dramas. 

Writing this blog from the Paradise Cafe. Just walked 7 miles to get here for breakfast at 9am and someone is sitting outside playing a bit of jazz!! 

Reflections on the first 11 days. Southern California is hot. The desert is hot. But what did we expect. Good for the base tan!

The good news is that since it rained this winter to break the five year drought the desert is in bloom. Cactuses look amazing and lots of snakes ( only one rattlesnake so far). Plenty of birds but when we stop in the heat of the day they have gone to sleep. Lots of hummingbirds, vultures, titmice and more. Keeping a list on my Nat Geo Bird App.

Not enjoying being part of the ‘herd’ on America’s premier Wilderness Walk, but it’s now starting to spread out and we have some avoidance tactics now too. Not as much phoo and paper as expected which is great. 

Everyone is lovely and polite yes mam, yes sir. Everyone has time for hikers and a story to tell but when your walking sometimes it’s hard to stop and chat! 

One day to go! PCT starts tomorrow.

Last minute packing and trek food shopping has now taken place. To see a video of our trek food shop click here

Fortunately we have had lots of space to sort out our boxes to post up the route of the trail in the garden of Scout and Frodo who are amazing Trail Angels based here in San Diego. After pulling our bags apart and sorting out the kit to post on for the mountain stage of the trip we had a pile of 8 boxes to post north.

Our main bags are the lightest they have been since we arrived! 

Visa and AT&T SIM

Arrived at last. It’s been over a year of working done we made the decision to walk the PCT so to finally arrive in the USA is wonderful. 
Heathrow to LA via Seattle worked well. And as Seattle being a relatively small airport the immigration guys were great. Hardest part being Mandy struggling to have her thumb prints recognised by the fingerprint machine. Problem solved with some grease from my forehead. 

Walked through Inglewood this morning meeting some of the street residents, lots of people in doorways and with their home in a Trolley. 

Walked to AT&T to purchase a USA SIM card and now we are set up to let everyone know we are around. 

On Greyhound to Mexico now for a few days R@R before the walk begins. On way through San Diego it was interesting to see the tented villages!