Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Idyllwild to Ziggy and the Bear

After resting for two days (it was either taking 2 zeros or miss our ride to the PCT kickoff) and eating like crazy, it was time to go back to the trail.
We got a ride from town to the starting point of Devils Slide Trail, an alternative route to the pct, that climbs to San Jacinto peak (~10800 feet). After two zeros this climb was sure needed :)
One last look at the map and all 4 of us were ready to go - Blake, Matt, Roi and myself.

The landscape was very different from what we saw up to that point on the trail. It was kind of an Alpine terrain, with big trees and snow. Squirrels were running like crazy on the trail as if someone is trying to catch them. It was funny, it was beautiful, it was refreshing.
With every step to the peak we felt the steaks from the night before turning in our stomachs... It was worth every step though...



We did it! We climbed our highest peak in the US so far - 10834 feet (~3300 meters). 

It started to be extremely windy on the way down and cold :(

After few miles we stopped at the last water resource for the next ~16 miles. It was a beautiful spot with freezing water that we had to filter. Roi almost lost his fingers there while filtering the freezing water... We decided to cook our dinner near the stream, so we won't need to carry extra water for cooking...
All other hikers decided to follow us and cook their dinner there as well.  

And there we sat all of us, enjoying the sounds of the flowing water and warming ourselves with hot meal.

The next few miles to the camp ground were a nightmare. The winds got stronger and the temperature dropped. At some point I stopped feeling my hands eventhough I wore gloves... 
The night was super cold, but luckily the campground provided some kind of a shelter from the wind by the huge boulders.
We started walking really early in the morning - 6:20, to avoid the heat.
It was still windy, but bearable.

From this point it was all downhill. Around 6,000 ft. Streched along 16 miles. It took forever to get down to the valley (forever = ~6 hours). Eventually we arrived to the valley and the desired water faucet, not to mention the 200 miles mark

We though the worst part of the day is behind us, but those 5 miles that came after broke all records. Walk on sandy  flat path, heat of the desert, no wind to cool us, it was tough! 2 hours later we arrived to the famous Ziggy and the Bear house. These are two trail angels that live and breath PCT and PCT hikers. The second you arrive to their backyard a refreshing bottle of juice is handed to you and a chair in a shaded area, shower and breakfast are also part of the deal. We spent the night at their place. That evening 8 of us took a taxi to nearby casino. Casinos in the US are famous for thier dinner buffet, this one is no exception. Wonderful dinner we had there. We also recieved free 5$ to spend on the fortune machines. It took less than 10 seconds to loose all of it :) 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Warner Springs to Idyllwild

After a zero day (no hiking) at Monty's, we were back on trail for an 18 miles walk.
It was a nice calm day. 

We actually became a small 3 people gang - Roi, Matt (cheetah) and myself.
Bob (Bilbo), which started hiking the same day we did was on the trail as well. 
Here's a nice pic of the three guys:

We had a relaxed lunch. 18 miles a day suddenly feels like a short day :) 

We went to angel Mike's place (mile 127) to spend the night. We arrived there on the early afternoon, and there were already around 15 people there. It's an old farm house that this guy Mike owns and today some other guy maintain it for the PCT hikers, including serving a dinner.
From the moment we arrived until dark people were kept showing, until there were more than 30 people in the place. Definitely one of the more crowded nights we had. 
This place was so surreal, there was even a garage with piano and drums, old records, 10 old stereos and a billiard table. Of course Roi started playing the piano right away. And another hiker joined him on the drums. It was the best PCT band around :)

We took it slow the next morning, started hiking at around 8:00. 

We had pretty good pace, hiked 10 miles in less than 3 hours. Seeing this fast pace and the hunger made Matt and us try to walk those 25 miles to a place called Paradise Cafe, having one of the place's famous burgers for dinner. 
We had 6 hours to complete 15 miles otherwise the place will be closed. The big march began! Walking and walking with very few stops on the way. We convinced Blake to join the challenge. 

7 miles before the end we had the nicest surprise on the trail - a picnic table with hiker box including a lot of good treats and a cooler box with soft drinks and fruits! Yummy!!!

By 5:30 we were at the highway. We made it!
The burgers at Paradise Cafe were awesome :) 

We called Mikeal from the trail and he came to meet us at the cafe and took us to his place afterwards. 
He lives in Anza and has a beautiful place where he grows garlic and other stuff.
He let us sleep in his guest room which is kind of a separate unit with a bathroom. I had the best shower since we got to the US :) 

On the morning he let us do our laundry and made us a great Mexican style breakfast.
Mikeal is not an official trail angel, but he was definitely our angel :) 

Later he gave us a ride to Idyllwild, where we had 2 zeros days.

The luxury continued also in Idyllwild, where we shared a fancy cabin with Matt and Blake. 

I had my first blister treatment later that day (that's the only blister i have so far from the trail...).

In the morning we went to the grocery store and made a breakfast in the cabin's kitchen. It was the best bacon cheese and egg sandwich ever !!! And we also had a fresh Israeli style salad.

Later that day Idan joined us (the Israeli guy which started a day after us).

Soon we're going to buy steaks for dinner and start preparing a big dinner.

Tomorrow we'll be back on trail.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Our first 110 miles

We were very excited to start walking, but as always we were the last ones to leave the starting point :)
We had to walk ~20 miles up until the first camp ground in Lake Morena. It was quite hot during the day, even for us who are used to the Israeli hot weather...
Within few hours we were already way ahead of most of the people we saw at morning. Surprisingly we are in quite a good shape :)
The views on the way reminded us the views from back home...

Finished the 1st mile out of 2663 miles :)

We arrived lake Morena camping ground at around 5. The first thing Roi did is to go to the local store and buy ice cream and a bottle of beer. Meanwhile I had a shower (we don't carry soap with us, so just warm water shower. But it still takes the dirty out of the skin).
By 8 we were already lying in our tent, filling up the batteries for the next day.

The next day we had a long climb and it felt like it was hotter than the day before. You need to plan your stops very well so you'll have enough water for each segment throughout the day.
We met Bird man again (he stayed at Scout & Frodo and left a day before us).

Somewhere after lunch break we lost our trowel and only realized that few hours later... :(
After a long 23 miles and the first snake encounter on the trail we arrived to Mount Laguna and started looking for a place to pitch our tent. It took us more then 30 minutes to find a place while freezing (the temperature went dramatically down...). At the end, with a little help from fellow hikers, we found a spot to set our tent at the local picnic area.

The next day we decided to hike only 13 miles. 
We walked to the general store near by and bought food for the next couple of days and had a nice big breakfast in front of the store with yogurt, fruits, beer and pretty much every thing we found in the store.

Just before we were back on the trail Roi saw Matt, which apparently found our trowel yesterday :) 

We were ready to go exactly on 12:00.

We arrived to the tiny camp ground next to huge boulder just on time to see the sunset.
The spot was super beautiful, already crowded with other hikers but very exposed as well, which means windy.
Right before everyone were ready to slip into their sleeping bags, an ant appeared between the rocks. Than another one, and another one. All of a sudden houndreds of ants ran between the tents. Luckly our tent was far enough from the scene.

The next day we hiked 21 miles which was the hottest day so far, we took a long lunch break for 1.5 hours to cool down a bit. Then we kept walking and walking and walking on exposed trail without any shade...
When we finally arrived to the camp ground at Scissors Crossing the nicest surprise was waiting for us - a lot of water and a picnic box full of ice and cold beers !!!
It was definitely worth the long walk! every mile of it :) and all this was done by a trail angel called Monty (which we met 2 days later).
After drinking the beer Roi and another hiker called Michael started to play together - Roi played his ukulele and Michael with his fiddle.
Later Roi got a free fiddle lesson :)

The next morning we had to carry a lot of water (6 liters each) since we were about to hike 24 miles almost without places to fill up water.
It was our longest day so far but we made it just on time to enjoy the last sunlight hour in Barrel Spring camp ground. 
When it got dark, a few frogs joined us and made an awful noise...
Few photos from our 24 miles day:

First 100 miles :)

The last day was a very short one. The view changed to green endless fields, the heat was bearable, and there were water every 10 minutes. A perfect ending for PCT section A.

We only hiked 9 miles!
On the way we passed through the Eagle rock, one of PCT famous milestones.

The section ended in a community center in Warner Spring where you can eat good lunch or breakfast, camp, take a shower and so on. 
We had a great cheeseburger and an apple pie and call Monty to pick us up to his place.

We stayed the night at Monty's after a great dinner he cooked for us and a perfect needed shower!!!
The next day we had a zero day (no walking), with so much food Monty cooked, and in between Roi and him played the guitar and ukulele...

Tomorrow we are back on trail, starting Section B.