My truth

The day started out beautifully. The owner of the motel drove us all to the trailhead at 8am. Kind of a late start for us but we wanted the chance for town food for breakfast. After 7 miles we were at the spur trail for the summit of Mt Baden-Powell. Named for the founder of the Boy Scouts. The wind was blowing at least 40 mph and an icy bitter cold. Everyone else dropped their packs and headed for the summit. I have an irrational fear of wind so chose to hike ahead and look for a lunch spot. It took a while to drop below the wind and find a good spot. They all joined me soon enough. After lunch I continued on alone. Part of my inspiration for being out here is to learn to be responsible for all my decisions. A couple hours later I checked the Halfmile app on my phone. It said I wasn’t on the trail. I didn’t believe it. I could not recall a trail intersection where I might have made a wrong choice. My map (to me) seemed to show me on the trail. It was a perfectly good trail I was on. The app said I was .82 miles from the PCT. I didn’t believe it! I continued on for 1.2 more miles and finally realized I was on a Boy Scout Trail. Backtracked the two miles to the junction and then the additional 3.3 to where we had decided to camp. For the remaining miles I was back on a ridge with 40 mph winds and I was scared. I knew I wasn’t going to die but I admit that I was scared. I learned to be more thoughtful in assessing a situation where I only have myself to ask. Be critical in times of uncertainty.
I’m now at camp. It’s windy and cold. I will be wearing all I have with me. I’m tired but lessons are good when you actually learn something. Poco Loco. Yep.

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Mt Laguna to Sunrise Trailhead

Kirby, Willow, Jason and I left Mt Laguna at 7 am. After a half mile walk we were back on the PCT heading north. We quickly descended out of the pines and into oak trees. The Chariot Fire of 2013 came through the area between Mt Laguna and Julian. We walked through the burned area and life is starting to return. Oak saplings are growing out of roots that remained alive. Lots of wildflowers and beautiful views of the Anza Borrego Desert. Stopped for lunch after 11 miles. My Nike fitbit says the daily mileage was 19 but the map says 17,5. Overall the miles clicked by steadily. We have all decided to “cowboy camp”. Meaning under the stars with no tent. We are in a field and it’s a bit windy. Still , I’m happy to be done for the day.
As I said a while back, Jason was busy dehydrating food all winter. We will have Thai chicken and rice with a curry coconut cream sauce. Living large with stinky feet. Everyone keeps trying to give Jason a trail name but he has veto power. Tomorrow we want to hike another 18 miles then hitch a ride into Julian. Thru hikers get a free piece of pie!
I’m typing this as I lay on my sleeping bag in the late afternoon light and will walk up the hill to find cell service to send it. Don’t sweat about hitch hiking. Everyone does it and locals near the trail are happy to help out Poco Loco

Mile 354-Mile 370

Early light on Mt Baldy

Trail through snow midday today

Bandana says “Hiker to Town”

To get a jump on my buds I left camp early and was hiking by 6:15. They caught me at eight miles where we snacked together. It was only 15 miles total to Hiway 2 which is the road into Wrightwood. Very few cars on the road but a local trail angel was dropping someone off and he let us all pile in for the five mile ride. Got a cheap room at a hiker friendly motel. Ran into lots of hikers wandering around that we’ve seen in various places along the trail. I sorted through my food resupply box and put together meals for the 84 mile stretch to Auga Dulce. Cool temps expected tomorrow but then super hot after that. It’s all part of the experience! Staying in the moment has become the biggest joy that I’ve been able to incorporate. A climb can be long, but it does end. It can be hot but nights are cold. All part of being present.
My dear friend. Debbie. Asked what I might think about on long stretches alone. This morning I spent three hours trying to remember all the words to Bohemian Rhapsody! Very profound, eh? Can you do the fandango? 😊. I’m sure I will contemplate some serious life changes but right now I’m just happy pushing my body and seeing beautiful scenery.
My new shoes are feeling good. Chris Benz also brought me a new set of clothes. Just having a little bit of sleeve is more comfortable with my pack. I sent the others home. Poco Loco
PS. Thanks for cutting me slack on my one-finger typing on my phone! Sent from my iPhone

Mile 342 to Mile 354

Williwaw, Beiwolf and Monsoon

Rockin, Grasshopper, WhyNot!? And me

Atlas, Spirit. WhyNot!?, me and Grasshopper getting ready to get back on trail at Mile 342

Mumbles and his wife Chris and our transport van

Kickoff party would have been more festive if it hadn’t been so darn cold! I stayed dry in my tent but it was a big rainstorm! I stayed in my sleep clothes all day yesterday. Went to a lecture about snow skills but didn’t learn much. It’s too early yet to assess the conditions for the Sierras. The most recent storm dropped snow where we will climb to tomorrow but shouldn’t be a big problem. Today we got back on the trail at 11:30 and climbed nonstop for twelve miles until stopping around 4:30. It was a 3000 foot climb and very well graded. We we all happy to be back on the trail after four days off. I didn’t have Mumbles to hike with and I hiked alone. It’s just impossible for me to hike the pace of WhyNot!? who is one if the most conditioned athletes I’ve ever met, Grasshopper, who has long legs, and Atlas and Spirit who are on their 20’s! Maybe I’ll find a hiking partner up the trail somewhere. As we learned at Kickoff though, we are ahead of the “herd”.
Tomorrow is a sixteen mile day to Wrightwood where we all have resupply boxes to pick up. That food box will get us to Agua Dulce about five days later.

Thank you all for the continuing encouragement. And a HUGE thank you from all of us to Chris Benz for all the time, energy and money spent helping us. You are one special person and in my heart forever. Poco Loco

Kick Off Party

My tribe is at the AZDPCTKO. Funny word which stands for Annual Zero Day Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off. There are perhaps 500 people here at the Lake Morena County Park celebrating the trail and each other. Throughout the day there have been talks about managing the desert, wildlife. Flora, water, snow conditions , overuse injuries and foot care. The atmosphere has been upbeat and full of chatter all day with many previous hikers here telling their stories. Dinner was veggie burritos and most meals are provided free all weekend. Right now a movie is being shown on a huge outdoor screen made of Tyvek but I am snug in my tent. Rain is expected all night and lasting until noon. It’s in the low 40’s but shouldn’t get much colder. I’m toasty warm and just praying I don’t have to pee in the middle of the night! We have had perfect weather so far so I’ll just take what comes this evening and be grateful that I’m warm, fed, safe and happy.
Most everyone has a trail name–or soon will. There are several reasons for them. First, the names are so unique it is clear who you are referring to. Many people get their names because of something dumb or just funny that happened. Like Tumbleweed. She was trying to pee without taking off her pack and fell onto her back like an upside down turtle. Monsoon went for a hike with a clear forecast and had nonstop rain for a week. Or Williwaw, a sailor, named for a wind that blows from the coast to the mountains. Beowolf has a three year beard that he can style to form the letters PCT. It’s a fun cast of characters that I’m meeting every day. Also, people get to assume any identity they chose separate from their real life. The trail though is a remarkable equalizer. It doesn’t maturer how much money you have or who you know. No one is hauling you up that mountain or across the desert. You do it on your own. I know we will be anxious to get back to the trail on Sunday. Our ride isn’t picking us up until 7:30 Sunday morning and it is at least a five hour drive back to Mile 342 where we left the trail. If possible we will get at least some miles in on Sunday.

The music soundtrack for the movie is great and I’m enjoying it as I snuggle in my bag. Night all!

Mile 342 Cajon Pass

This morning’s view

Mile 342. McDonald’s ahead on I-15

Good Afternoon! Soon after settling in and setting up camp in the “Day Use Only” picnic area at Silverwood Lake we were hanging out with a bunch of hikers under one of the pavilions when Beowolf got the brilliant idea of ordering pizza from whatever town is down the mountain. The manager of the pizza place finally agreed when we told him there were 8 pizzas needed. They arrived in a hour and the driver got a $30 tip! Then a park ranger showed up. We were camped illegally but after he asked if we were PCT hikers he said to “have a nice evening!” Another bit of magic! It was 35 degrees this morning but I was on the trail by 6:45. It was an uphill climb initially of 1000 feet so I warmed quickly. Fourteen miles and five hours later I sat inside a McDonald’s (Me!) drinking a chocolate milkshake. The six of us walked across I-15 and have motel rooms. Mumbles’ wife who is my dear friend, Chris Benz, is flying down tomorrow and renting a big van to take us all back to Mile 20 for the annual Kickoff party. They expect 800 people to attend. Hopefully we learn something and also meet others doing the hike. There are 20-30 people that we continually run into and have gotten to know pretty well. Many are at this motel tonight. Sunday morning, Chris will drive us back here where we left the trail at Mile 342. Mumbles will go home then. He was fun to hike with and will go home with good stories.
Dinner options are limited at this trucks stop sort of place. Beer and chips just might have to do. Thank you friends for the encouragement and sweet words!!

Poco Loco

Mile 266-Mile 328

Big Bear Lake from the trail mile 275

The beauty returning after 2007 fire

Deep Creek Hot Springs Mile 308

The canyon we followed all morning today

Another view

Towards late afternoon on our day off in Big Bear, Grasshopper went to Urgent Care and had her infected big toe lanced and drained. She is now on antibiotics and it will heal. Grasshopper arranged for a driver to pick us up at 7 am Sunday morning and promptly a 92 Oldsmobile wagon arrived. I called dibs on the rear facing way back seat and since Mumbles and I are the only ones that would fit there it worked out well. The driver lashed our packs on the roof and we we were at the trailhead at 7:30. It was a lovely 20 miles through burn and not burned areas and we camped under Ponderosa Pines by a spring. I could hear owls all night and rushing waster. Uber peaceful. Yesterday was a tough one. 22 miles to the hot springs and it was quite hot all afternoon. My shoes which are Salomon XT trail runners have been perfect. I bought them late last fall and trained in the all winter. Well. Their hours are numbered! The mesh has fallen apart on both shoes. No worries though as I have a new pair coming on Thursday! The hot springs were fun!! All different temperatures of water in half a dozen separate pools. Plus a large area for swimming. There were at least 20 people camped last night and we hung out with Monsoon, Beowolf, Colonel, Arizona, Bi-Polar and
Meander. I slept well because I was clean. This morning it was unusually warm which makes it easy to break down my camp. The first 14 miles today went quickly but then I started dragging. All day the wind blew hard and I had to fight to keep my balance sometimes. But, I remembered what Danny Poling said to me. When faced with a challenge, “Lean in!” It seems that the last 20% of any endeavor is the most difficult. Such is certainly true with what I’m doing.
Finally arrived at Silverwood Lake and I have time to clean up before cooking dinner. ONLY 14 miles tomorrow which sounds good to me after the last three days.
Let me tell you about Grasshopper. She is a Santa Cruz, CA, native and grew up as a surfer girl. She
has legs that are twice as long as mine so I don’t even try to hike her pace. She’s 56 and a widow. I
definitely want to complete the hike with her. Wonderful attitude and all the guys love her. Me too. Poco Loco