Monday, June 27, 2011

Polar Bear Club

I woke up to one of the greatest campsites I've ever seen. I was on a bluff at 10,400 feet overlooking the western range of the Sierras as the sun illuminated their tips and began to move down the slopes. I got up really early because I needed to get across Forester which was 10 miles away through really rough terrain and high altitude. I knew I was going to need all day wandering around, looking for the trail. I hoped to be able to get up Forester before it got too soft. I didn't want to spent the whole day post-holing and getting nowhere. I was out of camp by 6am and really anxious to get to town.I was only ten miles from Forester pass and only 18 miles to the side trail that would take me out of the Sierra.

After about 20 minutes I came up to Wright Creek. Normally in the mornings the creeks aren't as swollen and easier to cross, although much colder. At 6:20 in the morning Wright Creek was still raging. It's not good to have your feet wet for days at a time and mine were beginning to feel the effects of it so I really didn't want to get them wet first thing in the morning. I walked up the creek bank trying to find a fallen log or some way to cross without getting wet. The manzanita on the banks was coated with ice and I couldn't find any obvious place to cross. About 100 yards upstream I saw a spot that looked like I could jump to. A rock that was sticking up about a foot above the rushing stream. I would have to jump about 4 feet across a deep channel of 35 degree water. I'm not sure what I was thinking but I decided to go for it. With my poles in one hand, I made a jump for the rock, not knowing that it had an invisible coting of ice on it just like the bushes on the banks. When my foot hit the rock, it slipped right over it and I landed on the rock in a split. I tried to hold on to the rock but it was covered in ice and I was pulled over backwards by the extremely powerful current. I went from bad decision to a life threatening situation in the blink of an eye. The freezing water took my breath away as I was quickly swept downstream. I had to get out of the water but first I had to keep from smashing my head on a rock. I got my feet downstream and flipped over, trying desperately to get my foot or hand on something. Suddenly my leg got caught between two rocks and the current flipped me over it. I thought my shin was going to break as the current pulled on me. My leg was stuck and my back hit another rock. The current had me pinned down and I was facing upstream with the water rushing over the front of my body. I knew a had only minutes to get out of the 35 degree water. I threw my oles over the the bank and tried to get my leg unstuck and still keep from getting swept downstream again. My hands were frozen and I couldn't grab anything. My fingers were useless. I was probably yelling and I managed to thrash through and get to an overhanging bush which I grabbed onto and dragged myself onto the shore. I was safe. I had to keep moving though. I grabbed my poles and hustled up the bank and into the woods, trying to jump and run and flex all of my muscles. I got to the trail and dropped my pack. MY PHONE! AHHHH! it was in my chest pocket and I managed to get it out with my frozen fingers. I had to get the battery out! My fingers were worthless, forget the phone, I needed to get some gloves on. They were wet but at least it was something. My clothes were all dripping. I opened up my pack and at least everything was dry inside. I managed to get my phone apart. It was soaked. I didn't allow myself to think about the consequences of that. I needed to get warm. I tried to hike a while, thinking maybe the clothes would dry but in a few minutes I decided it would be a good idea to get out of those clothes. I pulled out anything dry and put it on while I hung up all of my clothes on a tree as the sun climbed in the sky. I was going to be alright; however, I was going to lose a lot of time.

I took that time to eat some food and get warmed up. My clothes took about an hour to dry and then I moved on. Losing the phone was a big deal though, it had all my maps in it. I now had zero navigational tools. I knew I could get out by going east but it really wasn't as simple as that. I still had to find and cross Forester Pass and Kearsarge Pass and I had no idea where they were and there was no real path to follow. I was hoping someone would come up behind me but from what I had seen, the closest person to me was at least a full day behind. I was going to have to keep going, blind.

I knew I had to cross another river and that the climb to Forester began after that so I just did my best to find old footsteps or marks that looked like footsteps. It was scary and much of the day I spent in despair but I managed to somehow find the trail occasionally.I came to Bighorn Plateau and there was no way whatsoever to tell where the trail went. I just guessed and got lucky. Eventually I found some tracks that hadn't been melted and I followed them all the way to Tyndall Creek. I wasted about two hours wandering around, trying to find the Ranger Station, hoping for a map or anything. There were bear boxes and I looked inside them for maps or anything that might help. The only thing I had was the section from Yogi's guidebook which gave a written explanation of the approach to Forester Pass but no maps. I got across the creek and laid out my phone, hoping the hot sun might dry it. It did help but there was a lot of moisture under the screen and I wasn't going to try to turn it on until it was totally dry. I had no idea what it looked like over Forester Pss but I was hoping that maybe I might see a fire or tents or something. I sat at the creek crossing and ate lunch, drying my feet and hoping that someone might come walking up.

Most people camp there and leave early in the morning while the snow is very hard. It was 1:30 in the afternoon when I decided to make a run for Forester Pass. The snow was soggy and the sun had been very bright for the last several days and the snow was soft. Figuring out where the trail went was an exercise in voodoo and the snow made it really difficult to traipse around looking for it. The altitude became a huge factor and once I figured out the general direction I was going, I stopped looking for the trail and just headed toward the huge wall of granite in front of me. Just about when I stopped looking for the trail, that's when I found the tracks that would get me up and over Forester Pass.

I found what seemed to be a large person's tracks and I stayed in them exactly; hoping to avoid post-holing every step for five miles. It took me about 4 hours to go 5 miles. The climb up Forester Pass was grueling. Between the altitude, the snow, the steep climb, the uncertainty and the sun, I was exhausted when I got over the pass. Fortunately, the trail was more obvious going down Forester into King's Canyon National Park.

It was about 6PM when I started down toward Vivette Creek, although I didn't know that's where I was going because I had no maps. I followed the tracks down and it looked like just about everyone took the shortcut and glissaded right down into the valley. The glissade should have saved a lot of time but the snow was soft and I couldn't really slide. I ended up having to kinda run, post-holing and crossing the wide open valley. At some point it occurred to me that I could put my phone in a bag of ramen to dry it out. Man, I wish I had thought of it earlier. I put the ramen and my phone in a ziplock and continued into the woods. The trail was impossible to find but I followed the river and saw a tent. It wasn't a thru-hiker tent but it was pitched on the only flat, dry ground I'd seen in days so I hailed them and one of them poked their head out of the tent and didn't mind me camping there. He thought I was a ranger. They were section hikers going SoBo. I figured I'd ask them if I could borrow their map from the section they just did. I was so relieved. I cooked some Idahoans and went to bed.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lost and Solo

I was hoping the diarrhea had passed but I didn't think it had. I was too psyched out to sleep in. I just hoped that it was from something I ate and not Giardia or some other problem. It took a while for Bandit and Sprinkles to get up. I couldn't sleep and it looked like this river was going to be tough to cross. Fortunately Sprinkles found a big tree to cross about 200 yards upstream.

After we packed up camp, we crossed on the big log and headed up toward Crabtree Meadows. When we got there there was a large creek with lots of golden trout hanging out along the banks. Of course the fellas wanted to catch some fish and they were going to camp there and get up early the next morning to go up Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental US at 14,505 ft. I climbed it last year so I wasn't planning on climbing it again; besides, I needed to get out a couple days early so I could call my musicians and arrange for the gigs I had the next weekend. I reluctantly got my stuff together and headed out. I didn't realize the trail was on this side of the stream so I crossed it two more times before I got out of there. I was trying for the campsite at Wallace Creek which was about four miles away. I didn't realize that it was the beginning of a harrowing three day journey.

The trail to Wallace creek was completely obscured by snow and no map was going to help me get there; although my maps were on my phone and I was trying to save batteries so I rarely consulted them. I had no compass, no GPS and my maps were PDF Files on a phone. I had just started to simmer a recipe for disaster.

I have no idea how I even found Wallace creek. Three times I had to backtrack and restart to find the trail since the footsteps in the snow were completely lost in the sun cups. Sometimes you could find the trail by old notches on the trees from the John Muir Trail (JMT); however, the JMT often strays from the PCT and you could get yourself even more lost.. Finding the campsite at the river crossing was going to be nearly impossible. Eventually I found Wallace Creek but it was late in the day, the sun had dropped on the other side of the mountains and everything was covered with five feet of snow. The creek was deep and torrential. I couldn't find the crossing and so I weaved upstream through manzanita and snowdrifts to try and find a fallen log or rock formation to jump across. It was hard work and slow going as each step was a logistical puzzle. It became apparent that I was going to have to make a decision soon to actually go across the creek or camp in the snow and wait until morning. I tried to cross several places but it was very dangerous. Time was running out, I thought I found a good spot where the river had split in three smaller but still treacherous streams. I fought through thick bushes and snow just to get to the creek edge. The water was shockingly frigid and soon it was creeping up to the bottom of my kilt. I had left the snow baskets on my trekking poles and the strong current tried to pull the poles from my hands as I sought for good holds in the fast moving water. I tried to get across but soon found myself with a deep channel of impassable water in front of me. Backing up was looking even worse. I couldn't let anxiety turn to panic I couldn't go down. I was in big trouble and there was no one who would be missing me for days. I had to stay upright. I had to get across. I wasn't going to let this river get me. Out loud I yelled at the river, "This is not how I die! This is bullshit! C'mon, let's go" I was trying to psyche myself up. I spotted a possible route and managed to get across the deep channel without losing my footing. I don't actually remember how but I finally got across, wet and cold and lost. I had no idea where the trail crossed the creek. The sun was gone and dusk was making it impossible to find the trail. I might actually cross the trail and never know it as I wandered around the snow-covered banks, searching. I pulled up the maps from my phone and made a guess as to my position based upon a recognizable mountain bowl to the south. I methodically traversed along the river until I actually found the trail and the campsite. I was very relieved; but, what areas weren't covered in snow were soggy and not what I was looking for. I decided to hike for as long in the dark as I could and was rewarded with an amazing campsite about a half mile up the trail overlooking just about everything... I was too tired to eat or to make food. I put up my tent, put my bear cannister a couple of yards away and crawled into my sleeping bag.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Golden Trout Dinner

Sleep was great on the soft sand and my bag is so warm that I haven't yet had to actually get in it, I just lay it on top of me like a blanket. It's a unique bag that can be unzipped fully to make a blanket so that's how I've been using it. While we were eating, the hikers from Trail Pass came by and they were off the trail. I yelled across the meadow to tell them where it was and I watched them carefully because I wasn't sure where it went to. according to the map there was a shortcut through a pass above the spring where that fed the meadow and I planned to go due west over the little saddle and reconnect with the trail instead of going all the way around. Sprinkles and Bandit originally agreed with this and then they decided against it. I got stubborn and I went over the saddle and sat in the trail and waited for them.

Later that day we went by Chicken Spring Lake and the fellas were really itching to go fishin so we went up there. It was totally frozen. We kinda lost the trail after that and continued to lose it all day. We encountered a few other lakes which weren't frozen and Sprinkles was really trying to get us to stay there so they could fish but I really wanted to try and et down to a legit campsite and get some real mileage in so they conceded and we headed down to Rock Spring Camp. My feet had been soggy almost all day it was starting to take it's toll on the condition of my skin. I started to just walk in every stream to cool my feet, reduce swelling and create some squishyness in there. When we finally got to Rock Creek we were glad we did because it was huge and there were plenty of trout. I'm going to have to get a backpacking rod.

After I set up my tent I set about to collect some wood for a fire. The fellas went fishing and I knew we were going to need some coals. It was really difficult to find wood of any significant size because obviously this campsite had been camped out. Even the branches in the trees had been taken. I managed to get enough for a decent fire and got it going. Bandit and Sprinkles caught 6 small trout (Golden Trout). Dinner was going to be interesting! Bandit cut up some garlic and onions and made 3 trout packets for cooking. It was cool eating fresh fish but of course we were worried about bears so we had to burn everything.

Then came the diarrhea. At some point my bowels decided to go haywire. I don't know if it was the fish or something else but it continued through the night and I had to get up and sneak through the woods and cut cat holes several times. I was pretty worried. I had four or five days of hiking left and certainly not enough toilet paper for this kind of activity. I hoped I wouldn't have to resort to using snow; although, at least there was plenty of that around...

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Friday, June 17, 2011

Frog Beach at Poison Meadow

My headache was still going strong in the morning despite a good night's rest. Topsy Turvy gave me three Advil and I accepted them greedily. Later we go tinto a political argument about immigration and I'll bet she wished that she could take those Advil back. Occasionally I get into arguments with people out here on the trail about political issues. There are all types of people out here. Granola types, conservatives, eco-fascists, religious fanatics, you name it, they're out here. I think Bandit and Sprinkles would appreciate it if I didn't ransack everyone I meet who has a different opinion than I do but sometimes I can't help myself. It starts as a civil discussion but sometimes escalates to an unproductive argument. That's not what happened in this case. I think we had a civil disagreement but then again I'm an east coast cat and sometimes what we think is a civil disagreement is looked at like a vicious argument by Westies.

I had some more gastrointestinal issues before we got on our way and I hope I brought enough paper.

We hiked through varying levels of snow and passed several places where people are going from and coming back onto the trail. At one point we found an old corral by a swampy lake where we got some food. We saw some trout in the stream and the fellas got very excited to do some fishing. They both brought rods with them and can't wait to catch something.

Nearing the end of the day, we passed up a good campsite at "Trail Pass" where a bunch of hikers had stopped including Mother Goose, Sunshine and a few others. We decided to get a little further on down the line. Unfortunately we ran into a LOT of snow. This is pretty much where the turning point was. After Trail Pass the trail really began to be covered mostly in snow. It took us a while to get anywhere because we kept losing the trail and there were no places to camp that were either flat or not snow-covered. We were following footprints and sometimes they were and sometimes they weren't on the actual trail. We followed the footsteps into a flat area but we were way off the trail. We heard a shout from our left and it was Yankee with Swiss Miss telling us that the trail was up the hill a little to our left. Up ahead the footsteps led to a large meadow that was wet, muddy and full of cow patties. Bandit's cattle resentment was coming back. On the other side of "Poison Meadow" we saw what looked sort of like a beach. We suspected that the sandy area was dry and so we made for it. We were in Bear Country now and this looked like a prime spot to find one. We had to cross a creek in the middle of the meadow and Bandit pulled off a daring leap across a big gap. I filmed it. WE found a great spot on the other side of the meadow and we set up camp and started a fire. It was getting pretty cold. We sat around the fire and dried our soaking wet shoes and socks. The roar of the stream was seasoned with the chirping of thousands of frogs as the stars came out. It was like being on some strange beach at 10,000 feet.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Of Meadows and Mosquitoes

It was the first time I got to use my new sleeping bag in the wild. It kept me fantastically warm. It was wet though, and the inside of my tent was covered in a fine layer of ice. I didn't want to get up. I was hoping the sun would come out and dry the whole thing up. The night before the moon had been so bright I thought someone was standing outside of my tent with a spotlight. Unfortunately my bowels had other ideas and I was going to have to get out of this tent and find a tree to water. when packing up I tried to dry everything out but eventually had to just accept that it was going to be wet. Maybe sleeping in a hige meadow with a creek running through it was not the best idea.

We hiked along hige meadows all day and crossed the winding Kern river which kind of reminded me of a high altitude Missouri. Fortunately there was a bridge there although it was marauded by swallows who dive-bombed us as we crossed it. I imagined what it would be like to get in a tube and float down the Kern all the way to wherever it eventually led.

We eventually got in to a campsite that was just along another creek. I objected to camping there but I was overruled. I really didn't want to get marauded by a hundred mosquitoes. The fellas use Deet but I'm not a fan. As we got in to camp my head started to pound. I hadn't been drinking as much water as I should have been and I didn't feel like getting water in a cloud of skeeters. Sprinkles came over and sprayed me down with deet and I hate the smell but I ended up just climbing into my tent and trying to rest. It was early and the fellas wondered what was wrong with me. Data Muffin and Topsy Turvy came in to camp and I finally got out of my tent to get something to eat. I couldn't tell if the headache was from altitude or dehydration but I suspected that it was probably a combination of both. I'm still on antibiotics too and I've just started to get some diarrhea so I'm a little worried about it but I've got about 6 more days of walking til a town so I guess I'll just wait it out.

We made a fire and sat around eating. Our food cannisters are very heavy and I'm torn between conserving food and dropping weight. It's weird knowing I have so far to walk just to get back to civilization. I realize now that I'm also not going to have zero cellphone signal the entire time I'm out here. I have a gig on the 23rd, so I must be able to get out of the Sierra by the night of the 22nd. I'm shooting for Kearsarge Pass by the town of Independence on I-395. That means I'm going to have to walk about 10 miles off the PCT to get there and over the Kearsarge Pass and down to my car in time to get back to San Diego for my gigs on the 23rd, 24th and 25th. I actually haven't called my musicians for the gig yet so I'm going to have to get out in time to get that stuff together too. These are the things that keep me awake at night...

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Into the Sierra, finally.

The time for campsite shenanigans was over. We got back on the trail today and we into the Sierra officially. There should be some daunting terrain in the next 9-day segment including the highest mountain in the Contiguous United States. Mt. Whitney, at 14,505 ft. has been a problem for lot of thru-hikers and many have gone up only to return without summiting. It's not on the actual trail though so you don't have to do it if you don't want to. We'll have to cross the highest mountain pass on the Pacific Crest Trail in about 6 days; Forester Pass at 13,200 ft which means it's surrounded by mountains that are higher than that. I've heard the snow levels are making it really tough to get through and the creeks are more like raging rivers. Since I've never hiked through this kind of terrain, I'm interested to see what it will be like with all of the rumors floating around about how tough the Sierras are going to be with all of this snow.

We had a pretty steady climb all day starting around 6000 feet in Kennedy Meadows. You could feel the altitude becoming a factor. It's always tough entering the woods again after a bunch of days sitting on your butt and playing bored games and eating smores.

Near the end of the day we came up through a stream-cut valley and crested a pass around 8000 feet into an amazing meadow. We'd been waiting to get some water and there was an interesting stream that had cut a deep, mud gully through this immense valley (later to tribute to the Kern). The sun was soon to go down and it was like something out of a movie. There was a group of people in the woods on the edge of the valley across the gully stream and a couple girls getting water. I didn't recognize them but they waved and we waved back and we were going to go over there to get some water when a guy walked from out of the woods and intercepted us. We figured out that he was a guide for a high school group and he was probably trying to keep us from coming over and interacting with his 11th graders. Pretty funny but a prudent move on his part. Me and Sprinkles and Bandit surely don't pose a risk but you never know what kind of people are running around out here; or of course, what kind of kids you have in your group for that matter. Haha! Maybe he was protecting us!

We decided to drop camp in this awesome meadow about a 1/4 mile north of them. There were cow patties everywhere. I wasn't aware that some people actually herd livestock up into these mountain meadows and they feed on the delicious grasses, clean air and sparkling mountain streams. Unfortunately, they poop EVERYWHERE. I did some research and it turns out that high altitude cattle grazing has been going on since the 1850's since these areas were basically otherwise unusable; however, it's widely known that this causes a lot of problems with water quality for people who rely on the water that comes from the Sierras (Basically all of Southern California). In fact, one of the reasons for the establishment of Yosemite National Park was to try to alleviate cattle grazing in that area. Cattle Poop creates increased bacteria blooms in the drinking water supply and has the greatest impact at high altitude because of the fragile ecosystems. I'm against it and Bandit was ranting about it all night.

For more information, check this out: Reducing the impact of summer cattle grazing on water quality in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California: a proposal

Anyway, the HS retreat guide told us they were going to be hiking out south in about an hour so we knew it would be quiet. A few other hikers hiked through and Spice Rack and Caveman dropped in on us. Bandit was passing out Peppermint Patties (Peppermint Schnapps and Hot Coco) and after something like that, it's tough not to drop your tent and hang out for the night. A full moon was on it's way and the stars on the ceiling of this meadow were spectacular. The floor; however, was still littered with hubcap-sized cow droppings.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wilson Mobile Command Center

I'm, sitting in the mobile command headquarters of the Wilson Conglomerate while we escape from the heat of Kennedy Meadows and await the arrival of more Thru-Hikers to arrive for the evening festivities. Rum Tim, Janimal and Grandma Sprinkles have graciously offered their tine and energy to set up a mobile trail magic station of which we are the principal beneficiaries. Alina, Sprinkles' GF just showed up from Vegas and Amy is here for Bandit and I have my iPad and guitar. Some hikers just came in so I'm going outside to meet them all.


I spent the majority of e day throwing bean bags at little holes, I'm getting a little antsy. I have no transportation and we're not quite ready to go out to the trail but just sitting around is starting to get to me. this section will be the longest I've been out without a town and you know me, I LOVES ME SOME TOWNS!

We went down to the store and I got reall ticked off at these people. I tried to buy a 99 cent Arizona Iced Tea and they charged me $ 1.52! How can you charge me $ 1.52 when it says 99 cents right on the can? Granted, I can understand that they have some expenses getting the stuff way out here but a 53% mark up? And why is it 53% and not like an even 51 cent mark up. That's what really got me was the 2 extra pennies. It's adding insult to injury! Another think that really chaps my buttons is that these folks tried to tell us it was illegal for Sprinkles' family to offer trail magic to the hikers because they were charging for dinner. Ridiculous! They were having some sort of $ 5 potluck, supposedly to benefit the local fire station. I don't believe it for a second. These shuysters rung my bell and I'm going to do some further investigatin'

I wonder if the food inspector wants to take a little trip out there to see if they have all their ducks in a row while they're selling burgers cooked over there in the corner on that ratty grille. I would hate to mess it up for the other hikers but these Children of LT. Schmidt are just taking advantage of the desperation of hundreds of tired, homesick hikers. Someone has to do something!

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Monday, June 13, 2011

Shuttle my bounce box to lone pine and back

They had breakfast cooking when I got up. The campsite was teeming with thru-hikers and I met Sprinkles' Dad "Rum Tim", Stepmom "Janimal" and Grandmom Sprinkles. They are super down to earth and we had a great breakfast with a bunch off hikers. Ninja and Drop&Roll were there with K-Bomb, Push, Sparrow, Beacon, and a bunch of others I can't remember. Amy found a bird in the grille of my car and it was a really cool looking bird. I felt bad for hitting it, it was about midnight the night before and i was zooming down thislittle road in the middle of nowhere and I remember noticing him on the side of the road and as I was about to go by I was like, "don't do it!".

Well, he did it,

I tried to miss him but apparently I failed. I'll show you a pic later. I got my pack all packed up which took a while cause I really didn't want to forget anything in this section. We all drove up to Lone Pine where I dropped my car off and we resupplied and helped Buttercup get some shoes. We had dinner at the Whitney Restaurant and came back to the campsite. A bunch more people were there and especially Pepe and Bootz! Sweet, we were going to have a great singalong tonight I could tell. The campfire was long and full of song as we stayed up all night. My tooth is still bothering me a little and I think it's just healing itches but I hope it doesn't get infected while I'm out there. I doubt it will, cause I'm taking ampicillin but I can't say I'm not thinking about it... Sleepin in the RV again... Damn Im spoiled

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Back on the trail at Kennedy Meadows

I hung around for a while with Laura and split much later than I had planned. I repacked my car with less stuff cause I wan't going to need any of it before I was coming back again for another gig on the 23rd. Sprinkles' parents drove up to Kennedy Meadows and brought their RV and Bandit's GF Amy is coming up so we're not going to leave Kennedy Meadows (KM) until Wednesday. There's absolutely no service there so I'm probably going to be out of touch until the 23rd or so. We'll be hiking up from Kennedy Meadows to Kearsarge Pass and summiting Mt Whitney on the way. It's about 87 miles plus 10 to get back out and it'll probably take about 8 days with all of the snow and river crossings. It'll be cool to meet Sprinkles' Dad and Stepmom. I finally got on the road at like 6PM and headed up. The drive was boring although I almost hit an owl and 2 little birds (turns out a I actually did hit one of them) and I got to camp and everyone was around the fire. I briefly met Sprinkles' Dad and then we pretty much headed to bed. They let me stay in their camper and it was really nice. I definitely want to get something like that when I grow up.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mexican Teeth Pt 2

I decided to take public transportation for the dental excursion. I jumped on the Red trolley and took it to the border. I jumped in a cab and they took me to Washington Dental on Revolucion. It was about 11am when I got there but they took care of me quickly. they looked at the tooth and informed me they were going to have to remove it. While they were at it, they recommended I get a cleaning since I hadn't had one in a while. Grand total for a tooth extraction and a deep cleaning: $ 60 Man I love these guys. They gave me all the novocain I needed so that I felt nothing. It was awesome, except for the fact that I had a tooth removed and that can suck while it's healing; but, no more pain! Whew! About an hour later I was finished and on my way back to the US. They let me have the tooth, I want to put it under my pillow and see if the tooth fairy sends me a couple grand for an implant... I will probably get one down there, it's only about $ 1300 for each tooth including the crown and everything. It's like 3 or 4 grand per tooth in the US. The quality of Mexican Dental work is excellent as well. You're not sacrificing anything except for exorbitant bills by going down there.

I came back on the trolley and dropped myself off at Laura's pad. She had a great little place with my buddy Pat. Actually he's the reason I met her and I like it there. It's comfortable and clean and her little husky Mieka is one of the best behaved dogs I've ever met. I'm going to be home for a couple of days because if the tooth and I( have a performance on the 11th in San Diego. I'll head back up to meet Sprinkles and Bandit at Kennedy Meadows on Sunday the 12th. I've been trying to catch up on b logs while I'm home and don't have much to do. It's tough to remember all the stuff that happened out there, especially when I'm taking vicodin. that's stuff messes with my memory and makes me tired. I don't see what all the hullaballoo is about this drug though, it doesn't really do anything to me. Then again, I'm only taking like a half of the prescribed dosage but I don't really need much, it just helps to take the edge off of the pain enough that I don't mind it so much. It does help me to stay focused on writing though. I just sit here and write away and watch TV.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

San Diego Serenade

We got up pretty late and there was a Padres game that she wanted to go to so we went to that and since I've been off of the antibiotics for a few days, the tooth started to throb again. it's pretty bad this time and I can't concentrate on the game at all. I was starting to get really annoyed with everything and Laura decided to go get me a few Advil. Thirty mounts later the pain was almost gone but I'm glad I didn't get rid of those vicodin the VA gave me for the tooth. I called my Dentistador in Mexico from the game. I didn't need an appointment. I love those guys. The Mexican Dental system is awesome! I would head down tomorrow. We split from the game early cause the Padres took a turn for the worse in the 8th inning. Now, I'm not one to leave a game early when my team is down. I feel like that's just bad form. You gotta hang in there and root for them when they really need you; however, the Padres are not my team and besides not really liking baseball, my mouth was really bothering me so I agreed to split early. We went down to the Ralphs on the way home and picked up supplies so Laura could make some crazy concoction she calls a "Taco Ring" or something like that. It was pretty damn good. I picked up some goat cheese and blueberries which I turned into some homemade jam and we watched TV and ate and passed out with the help of Mother's little helper.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Back off trail and on tour to Burbak

woke up at the campsite at walker pass, hung out with everyone, warner springs Monty was there and setting up his camp. I was going to shuttle Balls and Sunshine but another guy took care of that. I tried to talk to the guy that has the internet thing at Kennedy Meadows to maybe set up a gig but he was in a rush to go back I think his name was Tom,

got on the road in the early afternoon and headed down to Burbank. I made pretty good time and I dropped in to Joe's Great American Bar and grill where the gig was going to be that night. I realized at that time that I hadn't sent Torch any promo material so he didn't have anything up on the walls, oh well, I know he has a good following at these gigs , I've seen it before and there are usually a ton of people there so I wasn't worried about it... ok maybe a little

I dropped off most of my gear on the stage and looked around a little before I went over to Torch's place to take a shower and wash some clothes. We caught up and I realized I hadn't posted the gig on Facebook so I took care of that and we sat around listening to a bunch of old records he picked up at a thrift store. You can get all these old vinyl albums with random stuff on them for like 25 cents a piece and you never know when you're going to run into some little gem you wouldn't have ever heard of otherwise. You just need to have an old record player is all...

We headed out to get a haircut from a giel at a salon, it was pretty sweet. they had great coffee and m&ms in a glass jar. I was in hiker heaven. I told the girl at the desk the joke about a day hiker. section hiker and a thru hiker and the M&M.

Got down to Joe's, I met everyone and then we sound checked. I had three amazing players with me that night. David Miller on Bass (who called the other two cats) Mark Cally on Guitar and Paul Lines on drums. These guys are all superstars and it was a real pleasure to play with them. the crowd was jumping too and I had a great time messin around and playing music. I love nights like that, the crowd was aces.
I was going to crash at Torch's but I really wanted to get home and sleep in Laura's bed (she was pretty stoked about it too) and despite my best efforts, we didn't get out of the club til two and then I had to go back to torch's to pack up the stuff and drive back to SD. Needless to say I took a nap or two in random parking lots when I was doing touch-and-go on the steering wheel. I got in as the sun was coming up and jumped into a warm, soft bed with a warm, soft girlfriend. She was glad I took a long shower at Torch's.

Just notes, not an actual entry:
Trail angel mama and her son Jayhawk,
Warner Springs Monty showed up and we set him up , then I split for Burbank. I had a gig at Joe's Great American Bar and Grill for Mark Tortorici aka "Torch" and his regular Tuesday night event. When I got in to town, I hung out at his place, did laundry, got ready and went to the gig refreshed. It was packed and a great night for swing dancing. Torch really has a good thing going there.

funny how my legs and feet are trashed but as soon as I get on that stage i'm dancing around like afoo and I can't feel any pain. I had a killer-diller band with David Miller and Mark Cally from Royal Crown revue and Paul Lines ondrums. Man i wish I had guys like that all the time...

After the gig I drove back to San Diego but kept passing out on the side of the road and didn't get in til late the next morning. My tooth was really starting to throb, two days ago I had run out of the amoxicillin I got at the VA back in May. I had a lot of stuff to do to catch up with work and get to Mexico and see what was going to have to happen. They're probably going to have to pull the bastard... Oh well, sleep first...

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Notes: Trail magic at the Bridge

This entry is not written yet, these are just notes:
Section Notes:
Started out heard spoonman and others going by, we were sluggish to get out
It was wet and cold again
Had to #2 a third day in a row, strange
Headed up to Cottonwood o creek to get water, turns out
Cottonwood Creek bridge Trail magic with Good Spot and Wonka
Dice game Box Something
hung out inthe shade, finally got going again we had some climbing ahead of us. Cricket joined us the weather kept threatening,
as we got up in the mountains looking for the water source at Tyler Horse canyon but it looked like it was definitely going to rain. We wanted to get more miles in but I didn't want to get all wet. we were trying to get to the Tehachapi pass rd at Rt 58 where Pepe and Bootz were going to meet me with my car but if we stopped here we would have 20+ miles to get to that rd and that wasn't likely. it was 16 miles to the willow creek rd and i could just have Pepe and Bootz pick us up there. We were still beat from the 30 miler the day before so it wasn't hard to convince Bandit and Sprinkles to stay here and cook some dinner.
we met a cat named Joe who just recently got back on the trail after taking a week or two to let his legs heal.

I was a little worried because this canyon looked like it had the potential to flash flood like crazy. It was the only canyon with drainage that we had seen or knew of for many miles and the mountains above it were vast so that means that it didn't even have to raon at all in the actual campsite for it to be completely flooded from rainfall anywhere in the mountains above

Hikers here:
Gourmet, Hot Rod, joe, cricket, etc.

I was glad we stopped because it did rain in the night although nowhere near as bad as it looked like it was going to.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Notes: 30 miler on a desert night hike

This entry is not written yet, these are just notes:
It was a wet night and as much as I wanted to wait until the sun warmed and dried the tent, I also had to go to the bathroom really bad
got up hear spoonman
#2 in the woods again
bandit then sprinkles too
walked tot he tank cgot confused, it wasn't the one
walked to the guzzler
filmed it,
Dirt Bike Riders on the trail
gourmet yelled at them
missed the campsite at Bear
met up with Gourmet and Krista and Hotrod, cricket etc at the Horse springs camp
ate lunch
got back on and went down. Cows, fields, goats, long ass hike along the range til we finally go down because of the shooting club.
Describe it,, full facilities, shower, laundry, funky little prop buildings, roosters dogs, garage with couches, tv lot of hiker box goodies and food
coffee maker incident
bunch of people were there, we ordered food from the market and Doug picked us up in his RV ans took us to the store.
I got a pastrami sandwich and picked up a few walking snacks
We got showers and washed clothes at Hikertown but the owner wasn't there.
had a lot of conspiracy stories
Didn't want to head out so early but bandit and Sprinkles wanted to get on the road we were going for 34 mile day
going to follow the Aqueduct for most of the second part
huge group of us, everyone was drinking and wearing glow sticks and glow bracelets
we were way out in front all night, worried they would get lost, we actually made a wrong turn in the dark and had to follow another road to get back to the trail.
Cold and wind kicking up dust
we could hear the aqueduct rushing below us
stopped for dinner on one of the way stations
So tired, zombie walking
at about 30 miles decided to call it quits, looked around for campsite all we found was broken glass and shotgun shells
looked for spots with shade because the sun would be killer in the am

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Friday, June 3, 2011

Escape from Casa De Luna

We finally bid a fond farewell to Joe, Terry and the Casa de Luna although we had to wait until about 2pm for a ride to the trailhead. We got back on where we slacked from over at Lake Hughes. There was some climbing and wind but all in all it was nice (except that the trail always seems like a mother after four days sitting on a couch in some strange town)

We ran into some counselors from a local Christian Day Camp that were hiking around. We got some lunch after the first major climb although we got such a late start we knew we weren't going to get very far before sundown. We passed mile 500 and some of the guys were camped out at the road there. Someone had made a "500!" out of pinecones and we wanted to cook some dinner but it was just too damn windy. We hiked on until we finally found a spot to cook out of the wind right by the old PCT 500 mile marker. It got pretty dark and we wanted to get some more miles in so we kept going in the dark until we crested the hill. We knew there was a water source nearby but we wouldn't be able to find it in the dark so when we came upon this meadow in the saddle with a bunch of tents in it, we set up camp. It turned out it was Spoonman, Cerveza, Tick-ette, and a few others. It had been a sort of cold evening so we were hoping that the winds weren't bringing in rain. We set up camp in the dark and I was out cold in about a minute flat.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Casa De Luna Part 4

I dropped off Pepe and Bootz at the trailhead near Tehachapi and came back to Casa De Luna only to realize we weren't getting out of there today. We did end up slacking an 8 mile section but coming back to stay at CDL. I did manage to take care of a few important things like ordering new pole sections for my broken trekking pole and also a new pole section for my tent. I contacted Melanie at Leki and was all set to give her my credit card information to get a new pole segment sent to me and she said "forget about it, I already sent it out free of charge." Obviously I'm a huge fan of Leki and I recommend that you use their stuff. I emailed Tarp Tent about a cracking pole segment on my tent and was contacted back directly by the owner, Henry Shires. He also sent me a segment free of charge and it got to me right away at the Anderson's. With customer service like that, you'd be crazy not to use their stuff. Not to mention it's functionally superior to all of the other mainstream lightweight tents out there. I have the "moment" tarp tent. I'm posting a picture from inside the tent so you can get a mosquito's-eye view of my living quarters. I just updated my gear list and you can see everything that I'm carrying or wearing by clicking on "Gearlist" over there to the right --->

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Casa De Luna Part 3

Another Day at the Anderson's began with pancakes and ended with a great night around the fire playing music til late. I think I figured out what I'm going to do about leapfrogging the car. Pepe and Bootz want to do the next section southbound so I'm going to drop them off at Route 58 and bring my car back here to Casa De Luna. It will take them about 4 days to walk back south to the Anderson's and I will travel north to the 58 and they will then drive my car up to me. I like this idea. We had another great night of jamming around the fire with a whole new group of people. I hope Pepe is around a lot more cause it's great to have someone to play Jazz with and that's rare on the trail. Tomorrow I'll drop them off and come back to finally split from the Casa... Hopefully...

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Monday, May 30, 2011

Waking up to a Murder (of Crows)

By 7am I found myself throwing pinecones at a murder of crows but by then the damage was already done. I was up. We goofed around a bit with the family and said our goodbyes and nice to have met ya's and I drove up to the Anderson's and Casa De Luna. My plan was to drop my car off and get a ride back to the Saufley's so i could do the 24 & 24 challenge with Sprinkles and Bandit.

The Saufleys and the Andersons are two of the most notorious hiker refuges on the PCT. Although they are only separated by 24 hiking miles, they are about a thousand miles apart in their approach to hiker hospitality and trail angelics. The Saufley's are the first of the two that you hit on the trail and they have an efficient operation where you roll in, take of your clothes, put on some "Saufley Electric" sweats while they wash all your stuff. They have racks with at least a hundred mail drop packages in alphabetical order (including my brand new sleeping bag), tents with cots that you can stay in and by the time you're settled in, your clothes are done. They have a lot of resources for you there, information boards and gentle music playing out over the "Compound." There's a piano, a guitar, and it's all very well organized. It's very nice and they've made it very convenient to stay there. They have a rule though, you can only stay for two nights.

The Andersons have a similar rule: You have to stay there at least 2 nights and to be honest I think they'd rather see you stay there than finish the trail. Their place is called Casa De Luna and is also affectionately referred to as "The Vortex." They have a couple of couches out front and a large back yard with a big Manzanita Forest with campsites strewn throughout. You basically just plop your stuff down and sleep wherever you end up. The booze is flowing, the people are loud and it's basically like a big hippie compound. Joe and Terry Anderson are crazy and fun. There are hammocks, instruments, a frizbee golf course and strange games like chocolate syrup wrestling and the 24 in 24 challenge.

The 24/24 challenge is where you hike out from the Saufley's with a case of beer and you consume one every mile until you reach the road that goes to the Anderson's. I don't drink so I was just going to accompany Sprinkles and Bandit as they did the challenge but it was so hard to get back to the Saufley's after I got my car there and so, instead of asking Bandit's girlfriend to drive all that way and back, I decided to stay at the Anderson's and skip that 24 mile section and wait for Bandit and Sprinkles. Meanwhile I would help trail angel and shuttle some hikers.

That night I pulled out a bunch of instruments and we had a great jam session and about 25 hikers sat around the fire and we sang all night long. There are a few good guitarists and singers here and this cat Pepe is a really good guitarist and we are able to do jazz tunes. Virgo was there and he filmed it and even sat in on my drum kit. It was an amazing night and everyone had a great time. I passed out on the futon in the front yard in my brand-new Exped Dreamwalker 20 degree sleeping bag.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cries of the crows

The crows were relentless with their cackles and cries of the future or whatever it is they yell about in their half-human voices and unintelligible prognostications that only the medicine man and his ilk knew how to decipher. This is the kind of thing I peruse as the Crows' mumblings intermingle with my own inner voices which usually start their litany of fear mongering even before I'm fully awake.

The birds are always waking me up with their impossible melodic intervals and shrill tweets that are not limited to 140 characters and especially not a common musical scale. I've been known to get out of my tent to throw pine cones and even water bottles the them just for five more minutes of wrapping my head in my bag.

The campgrounds had a community center and a pool and a jacuzzi so we went down there and the people were trying to wrap their head around a Marine in a kilt. I guess this campground allows you to be a member or something and they had community events and karaoke and steak dinners and stuff here.

Back at the campground I was soon hunched over coloring books with Bandit's Nephew and Niece, Liam and Luna in washable crayola markers of unbelievable hues. I remember when it was just the primary colors but these days they have all kinds of colors and I was trying to figure out how I could use lavender and orange highlights in a lizard's scales and to convince Liam that eagles normally have purple feathers and blue beaks.

He wasn't buying it.

We decided to go pick up my car from the Saufley's and we were going to shuttle it up to the Anderson's but it turned out that only 24 miles walking turns into over an hour of driving in this part of California. That makes about as much sense as my coloring theory. I wanted to walk the two sections, but it was going to be a logistical headache so I brought my car back to the campground and figured we'd do the Harlem Shuttle Shuffle tomorrow.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Road Walkin the 2 to Memorial Day

We got out of camp pretty late as usual. After a few miles we found ourselves down at the permanently closed Angeles Crest Highway CA Rt 2. Much of this road has been closed on and off since 2004 due to landslides and fires. According to the locals, they are supposed to open it back up any day but it was closed for now. There are two re-routes for the PCT in this section due to a protected frog's habitat and for landslides. Looking at the maps, we noticed that the reroutes added quite a few extra miles and using the road instead of the old trail so we decided we were just going to walk the closed HWY 2 all the way in to three points. I'm starting to get sick and tired of the way this trail has been routed here in Southern California. There is an awful lot of unnecessary walking going on. This may sound like a stupid statement coming from a person who has decided to walk from Mexico to Canada but the way I look at it is this, I've already committed to walk 2600 miles or more this summer but there's no reason why I should have to walk unnecessary miles for no reason at all. These trails have you walking back and forth and back and forth for no reason. It's extremely frustrating.

I am totally down to walk to exciting views and interesting geological structures or historical points of interest. That's actually what I was hoping that the people who created this trail had in mind. I also understand the ecological significance of switchbacks as well as the benefit of not having to walk straight up a hill; however, I'm frequently wondering to myself, "Were the hell are we going?" and inexorably the trail will go three miles out of the way for no reason at all. I find myself staring at the same mountain or desert view over and over again as I go around corner after corner for what seems like no other reason than to add miles to the trail. Some guys are like, "It's just the trail man, you're gonna do the miles anyway, why does it matter?" and to that I say, "Balderdash!" It does matter to me because if I was navigating to Canada without the PCT, expediency and conservation of route as well as other resources would be contingent upon my success. Anyway, we decided to hike the road instead of wasting 18 extra miles on re-routes. If it's a re-route anyway, we decided we would do our own re-route. I think it's my new philosophy. If the PCT re-routes, I'll decide which way I re-route. I'm starting to think that I can't wait to finish this trail so I can start badmouthing it but hey, why wait?

We spent all day hiking down the road, spearing pine cones and launching them at each other and walking this surreal, deserted road. There were tunnels going through the rock and I was singing Gregorian chants in the amazing echo chamber. We discussed doing a rave or a wedding or something like that right on the road or in the tunnel. I got some great footage of a rattler that we would have just walked right by but he got all ornery and started shaking his tail when we were practically past him.

There looked to be a storm front coming in soon and it was getting cold. When we got to Three Points we knew there was a restaurant a couple of miles from the trail. We walked it down to Newcomb's Ranch and got some food, played pool and waited out the storm. Bandit got a hold of his girlfriend and she offered to come pick us up because his family were going to hang out at a campground for Memorial Day Weekend. Bandit didn't have to try hard to convince me to come and stay with them. Actually he didn't even have to ask...

I felt a little guilty at taking all this time off but I figured I'm a vet and it's Memorial Day so I can take a little R&R.

We set up our tents and I got to take a cold shower. Me and Sprinkles met the whole family. I decided to take a walk around the huge campground. There were hundreds of campsites and a lot of different kinds of people hanging out here. It was weird. There were a ton of Mexican families partying and listening to Latin music. There were a couple of Church groups and a couple of campsites with all black families watching Def Comedy Jam on an improvised projector screen.

One thing that struck me as very strange: I didn't hear a single musician playing any live instruments. It really bothered me. Nobody was so much as strumming a guitar. I walked around to every campsite that night and didn't hear a harmonica, guitar, or even a person singing around a campfire. It was kinda depressing. The next day I saw a dilapidated guitar leaning up against a trailer but I think it was probably only used as a prop.

I slept in my tent in the campground. It was kind of weird being there with my ultralight gear and thru-hiking, spartan efficiency in the midst of all these huge luxurious tents and $ 500,000 RVs with satellite TV and Internet access. I was amused, imagining how none of these "campers" had any idea that there were three international men of mystery in their company, unobtrusively nestled in these meagre little tents with stinky, dirty clothes and scruffy demeanor. I drifted to sleep, feeling like the alter-ego of some strange super hero with no real powers. Like Forest Gump or something.

Just some guy dumb enough to walk across the country.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summiting Mt. Baden Powell

We sat around the campground all morning waiting for some of our friends to show up. Kevin said he was driving them up in the morning but he drove up on his scooter and told us he'd be bringing a bunch of people up around noon. They started at a different point and Kevin came back with his camper and slacked us down to the Rt 2 parking lot before you climb up to Baden Powell. It was going to be the a heck of a climb and we ran into a few people on the way up. We knew there was a lot of snow up near the top and we wondered how much it would affect the climb. About three miles up, the snow completely obscured the trail and Sprinkles and I were constantly scouting around to try and find it. Eventually we gave up and just decided to start climbing straight up the hill. It was steep and difficult to climb in the deep, soft snow. I kept post-holing up to my thighs which were freezing since I was wearing my kilt commando. Near the top, we ran into early girl and Water Boy who were doing the same thing that we were, trying to climb a really steep section. They're one of the older couples out here on the trail and I was worried that they might not make it up the hill. Early Girl looked really worried so Sprinkles and I hurried up the hill to help them out. I tried to cut some steps as I climbed the nearly vertical wall but it was tough and even though I'm not a very tall guy, I was still cutting them a but too far apart for Early Girl. I took some video of the section that I was trying to climb and it's hard to see in the video just how vertical the slope was but trust me, it was pretty tough, especially without crampons or any other climbing equipment. Here's another Video

We all made it up the tough section and the slope got more gentle near the summit. We came upon a very old Limber Pine tree called the "Wally Waldron tree" which is supposed to be about 1,500 years old. We got a couple of shots of that and then set off to summit Baden Powell. The wind was severe at the top and I have a video of my hat flying off of my head. It would have been long gone but I was lucky enough that it hit the only tree at the top and I managed to recover it from the scree-strewn slope where the wind was less severe. We stuck around until a whole bunch of us got up there, ate lunch and finally the cool wind was annoying me enough that I took off before everyone else.

The slope down was covered with deep snow and I tried to "ski" it in my sneakers. I managed to pull it off sort of and descended very quickly. the snow on the trail was making it really tough to find the trail in some spots. Bandit had mentioned that it was "all downhill" after the Baden Powell summit so I ended up getting pretty lost thinking I should keep descending when I lost the trail. I had to bushwhack up a really steep hill and it took me forever. I finally found the trail and ended up being behind al of the people I had left in front of.

The hike seemed to take forever, considering it was only about 6 miles. At one point I was trying to find the trail and I went through a big snow field and I suddenly post-holed, and I felt my shin begin to scrape against a boulder. I thought I was going to break my leg as my weight was coming down on it. I jammed my trekking pole down quickly, getting my leg out of the way. Fortunately I got my leg to the ground safe, unfortunately I snapped my uphill trekking pole in half over the boulder. It took me a minute of so to get back on top of the snow and it took me a few minuted to find the trail but I eventually got to Little Jimmmy Campground" where I met up with a ton of people. Someone started a fire which about 20 people sat around, eating food and talking about all sorts of things. A few heated discussions ensued about Canada denying a few of us entry due to previous DUIs. One of the hikers was very adamant about Canada not wanting "Stupid Americans" in to Canada and so any excuse to deny entry would be exploited, especially not letting "Convicted Criminals" in. This thru-hiker was confident that we would never be granted permission. It was pissing me off and since I'm actually going through the complicated and expensive process of getting "Rehabilitated" I was trying to explain that there was a procedure in place and she wouldn't have any of it; adamantly insisting that we would NEVER be let in to Canada under ANY circumstances. Eventually everyone went to bed. I was really full because one of the hikers was trying to get rid of some food which I happily ate.

It was going to be a cold night. There was snow all over the campsite, in fact, we scooped up a lot of snow to put out the fire. Tomorrow was going to be a long road hike because the PCT is rerouted due to a recent firs and also a protected species of frog has made the original PCT off-limits. I need a warmer sleeping bad BADLY.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Out of Wrightwood

We woke up eventually and Kevin drove us down to the Evergreen restaurant to get some breakfast. If you ever go there I recommend the "Evergreen Breakfast" you'll never finish it and it's got everything except pancakes. I couldn't finish it.

We tooled around Wrightwood for a few hours, picking up supplies and generally trying to psych ourselves up to get on the trail.

We piled in to Kevin's camper and he took us up to one of the campsites and we settled in without hiking. We just decided to stay there. There was water and firepits so we figured that was a great place to stay. At least we're out on the trail and not ini town again. These towns are tough to get out of. Especially when you have great great hosts like Kevin and Linda to make you all comfortable and clean and fed and on top of comfortable mattresses.

I'm sitting at a picnic table right now with Bandit, Sprinkles, Dusty and Camel. We're lighting a fire and heading to bed. This is actually the first time that I've used my iPad on the trail instead of in town. I have to buy a new iPad charging cable though, we should be at the Saufley's in about four or five days and I can get all the stuff I left in my car.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Surviving into Wrightwood

IT was a good night's sleep and I felt much better. I was still having diarrhea but I got out of camp by 7:40 with hopes to reach Guffy campground and a fresh spring by 11am

Nader and Bait got out of camp about an hour and a half before me. It's crazy how some people get up at like 4:30 in the morning. Crazy.

hiking was rough. My cell phone was dead and I know there were some people worried about me from my texts. I spent a lot of time resting in the shade and taking it easy. I think the amoxicillin actually messes with my cardio-vascular system too. I seem to be out of breath much more than usual and sweating more than usual too. I ran out of water about three or four miles before the campground but the hiking wasn't very tough. I passed the turnoff to the spring but I finally found it. It was a steep climb down and then back up but the water was amazing. I ate a ton of food and drank a ton of water. I had another six miles to get to CA RT 2 which was supposed to be an easy hitch in to Wrightwood.

I pushed on and found myself at the top of Mountain High Ski resort. Apparently it's at Wrightwood and I didn't know that. I've never skied there but I'll have to go this winter.

Right before I got to the highway, I ran in to a king snake, the kind that looks like a coral snake. It was cool, I got some footage and kept going. I really needed to get in to town.

I got a ride from the second car that come by, although that still took about 30 minutes. Rt 2 is not a very busy road.

Wrightwood is great, it has everything you need all within a block of everything else. I found Bandit and Sprinkles at the Yodeler Tavern and soon all my old pals were there. They had gotten a ride from Kevin and he and his wife Linda were hosting them, I asked if he had any room and he did so I ended up going with them back to their awesome house. They cooked us dinner and we watched the final night of American Idol. If you ask me, casey should have won, not that fake basso country douchebag but hey of course I'm going to be partial to a jazz guy.

ANyway, I feel much better and now we're trying to figure out whether or not I'm staying in Wrightwood for another day...

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Running on empty and crashing.

Today could have been my last day on the trail.

I started out by getting up really late. I didn't get out of camp until about 10:30. I had to deal with some uncomfortable bowel movement before I could even get my tent down. It had me worried that I might have been dealing with a mild version of Giardia or dysentery. I finally got moving and I knew that Bandit and Sprinkles would be a couple hours ahead of me so I was going to try to push to keep up. I realized I hhad stopped short of the actual campsite and I found a cool water cache that was being resupplied by Joanna. I left my name at the book and drank about a half a liter, I thought about filling up but I figured I would have an opportunity to get some water later. I would be wrong.

I was having a tough time climbing and although it wasn't hot, I was sweating like crazy. I wasn't really drinking much water or eating. I just couldn't seem to get my pace going. Every step seemed like a chore and I was trudging along, felling pretty bad. Eventually, after about six or seven miles I decided to take a break. My pack felt really heavy and I sat it down on a rock. The trail was very narrow here and the sides were steep going up and down on either side of the trail. there was nowhere to sit really, so I tried to find a rock or something. Normally I feel better as soon as I stop but I just couldn't get my breath. I sat on this rock but it wasn't really comfortable and then I heard the ringing in my ears start. I know that means I'm going to pass out so I tried to lay across the rock.

I came to with dirt, rocks and plants in my mouth and I was sliding down the hill to the trail. I was delirious but I was trying to get whatever was in my mouth out and spitting and dry-heaving. I was afraid I might fall off the side of the trail so I kind of sat down and laid back on the only flat spot: the trail. I don't know how long I lay there in and out of consciousness. I eventually tried to get up and got really dizzy again so I lay back down. At some point a couple of people came by and stepped over me, asking if I was alright. OIf course I said "Yeah man I'm fine!"

It took two hours until I was able to get my pack on and walk a little. I got about a half mile up and got woozy again so I pulled out my pad at a wider spot and plopped back down. I wasn't sure how much water I had but two angels came by, Spoonman and Cerveza. They insisted that I take some of their water and they sat with me for a bit. I thought I had giardia for sure. I tried some texting. I was so angry and beat down that all I could think about was getting off trail and going home. I texted some people and was planning to get off trail if I made it out of there. Nader and Mosquito Bait showed up and they told me they were camping at a spot about a mile ahead. I eventually got up and made it to that camping spot while they were setting up. We spoke for a while and Mosquito Bait told me some more about amoxicillin and how it wears you down, gives you diarrhea and makes you way more sensitive to the sun. I was so relieved! I thought I had Giardia but here it was probably just the antibiotics. I had some dinner and tried to hydrate slowly with what water I had. I knew I had to go another 7 miles in the morning until I could get a good water source. I had about a liter left and I was just hoping the trail wasn't too bad. Nader and Bait gave me some of their couscous and I lost my spark so I had to try and eat with my drumsticks as chopsticks.

I climbed into bed with a full stomach and some horrible gas that smelled like I was dying inside. I wonder if I'm going to have this gastrointestinal issue the whole time I'm taking my ABs

I feel better but I'm still a little sour on the trail. We'll see how I feel tomorrow.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Monday, May 23, 2011

Back at Cajon Pass

I ended up going to San Diego and the VA Hospital doesn't do dental so they gave me some amoxicillin and told me to go find a dentist. I'm not sure when I'm going to have time to do it but at least it'll take care of the abcess in the meantime. The gig at Big Bear was great but there wasn't a ton of attendance because the Hostel was closed to hikers for the weekend so basically it was just people I already knew from Big bear and guests of the hotel. Craig let me crash at the resort. I dropped in on my old stomping grounds and Murray's. The next night I had a gig in Newport Beach which was cold as hell, we were outside on a hilltop and the fog came in. It sucked pretty bad. That night I was going to go up and drop my car at a hiker hostel called the Saufley's in Agua Dulce but I decided to detour out to Vegas and spend the night with Laura before I get back on the trail. It'll be a while before I get to see her again.

The next day I drove out to The Saufley's and stayed there. I slept in one of their tents and the next morning I found a cool hiker named Blaze who was willing to do the shuttle thing with me. He and I drove out to the REI in Rancho Cucuamonga to see if they had a pair of shoes for him. Then we went to a Henry's and a Ralph's to pick up supplies. At Cajon Pass there is a MacDonalds and we had some burgers. I met a guy named Soft Walker who apparently hikes barefoot a lot. I bid my car and Blaze adieu and used the bathroom and then got on the trail, planning to hike a few miles in the dark. It was looking like rain and I was really not looking forward to a climb up in rain and possibly snow but I really needed to get back on the trail.

Soft Walker was ahead of me and I had to turn my headlamp on to go under the bridge of the I-15. it was a little strange doing that in the dark, wondering what was under here and there was some running water that turned into a regular stream. I had some difficulty not stepping in the water in the dark but once I was out from under the bridge and re-found the trail, I was able to hike with my headlamp off. I hadn't intended to get all the way to the first campsite at 5 miles but somehow I managed to get there... around midnight. I found a bunch of tents on the side of the trail and just pitched my tent in some low bushes because I thought it was the campsite I had been looking for. It wasn't. It was close though, just about a 1/4 mile away. I have been experiencing some gastrointestinal abnormalities lately and I'm hoping it's not Giardia which is one of the reasons why people treat water. It comes from Raccoon Feces and it's like Montezuma's revenge on steroids. It takes about 7 days to ferment in your body before symptoms show up and I had some untreated water about a week ago so... I just hope that it's not a problem. I guess we'll see.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Zero in Vegas...

I stayed at the Big Bear Hostel and woke up with a toothache. I've been feeling something in there for a couple of days but today it was really bothering me. coincidentally it's was the same tooth that I had root-canaled beck before I did the Appalachian Trail. I hope it's not an abscessed tooth but it's feeling like it might be. I decided to go visit Laura in Vegas before my gig on Friday and maybe I'll check in with the VA in Vegas and see what they can do for me.

I stopped at the trailhead on the way out and ran into Sprinkles and Bandit. They were getting a ride already so I just drove out to Vegas and found Laura's apartment and we went and ate but the tooth was killing me. It turned out I forgot to pack my sound system so I'm going to have to go to San Diego anyway. It turns o ut they don't have VA clinics there in Vegas so I will go to the VA in La Jolla. I have to get back on the trail but it's so tempting to just blow it off and enjoy the civilian world.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Monday, May 16, 2011

Slackin off to Big Bear Lake

That was the coldest night so far. This 40 degree sleeping bag isn't going to cut it very long. I'm pretty sure I need to get a warmer bag most kosh or sooner. I've been looking at this killer bag, the Dreamwalker from Exped. It's the warmer version of the bag I have which is unlike any other sleeping bag I've ever seen. You can put your arms out of it and wear it like a jacket so you never have to get out of your sleeping bag to get up and get ready in the morning.

Check it out here:

Anyway, I lay there freezing, I think it went down to like 20 or 25 and I waited until the sun started to melt the frost on my tent before I roused myself. I started walking, I was hoping to get 27 miles to rt 18 by nighttime but when I get to this cabin I see Natural (a guy I met the other day on the trail) and he's there with his car. We start talking and he tells me it's supposed to snow tonight and maybe tomorrow. My car is in Big Bear and I'm thinking, "this would be a good time to hang out in Big Bear for a couple of days."

SO I caught a ride from Natural and it's a good thing I did because apparently i forgot to load my sound system in the car! I'm going to have to head back to SD and pick it up and then back up here. I have to figure out how I'm going to afford to buy a warm sleeping bag. Laura's in Vegas for the week and Vegas is about the same distance from Big bear as San Diego is...

Maybe it's a good time to hang out in Vegas for a day, head back to SD to pick up the gear and then head to Big Bear for the gig on Friday...

I think I hear a Hunter S. Thompson quote coming on...

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Climbing into the Blizzard

I had probably my best night of sleep on the trail so far. The temperature was great and I was on flat ground. It was going to be a long hike today uphill all the way. I was climbing up toward Big Bear and there was rumor of weather. In two or three days I should be in Big Bear so I wasn't too worried about it. I didn't realize what I was in for...

It's interesting to not how the mind works. I knew from looking at other people's maps and elevation profiles that it was a 20 mile section of almost all climbing but once you get on the trail you're thinking, "I wonder what the trail has for me today?" Then it's almost like you're surprised when the maps are right. An all day climb is kind of unbelievable. when you're on mile 14 or 15 and you normally get 20 - 25 miles you get frustrated as the landmarks come by much more slowly. In your hiking head you're thinking that you have come 7 miles and then you come up to some hikers at a stream and find out you've only gone 4. Nearing the end of the day, the last few miles into camp are excruciating as you come around another turn and there's another stretch of uphill that turns toward a peak you couldn't see earlier.

I've heard that the climbing section into Big Bear is one of the hardest on the whole trail and that it's the reason that many people get off the trail permanently in Big Bear. Well, I can definitely see that. I thought I was lucky because it was an overcast day with a lot of wind when typically this part of the trail is extremely hot; however, in the afternoon the temperature began to drop very quickly. As a ski instructor and frequent traveler in the mountains I pride myself in being able to tell the temperature without a thermometer. I'm rarely off by more than three degrees in the 10 - 50 degree range, even with wind but as I climbed and the temperature dropped I was afraid to believe my guesses. It felt like 40 degrees at 4pm! It couldn't be! It felt like 35 degrees at 5pm as I pulled in to a campsite that had some water. There were a couple of packs sitting by a horse "burro" or "Hitching Rail" and a tall hiker there. In my kilt and thin shirt I was quickly shivering.

"How cold is it man?" I asked Pepe who was getting ready to go further up the trail
"Pretty cold, somebody had a thermometer on their pack and it said 39 about a half hour ago"
"Man I can't believe it!" It's gonna go below freezing tonight and yesterday I thought I was going to get heat stroke!"
"Yeah man I'm trying to get to 146 to some shelter they have there."
"Man I think I'm just gonna wrap up in everything I have and pass out. Is there water here?"
"Yeah, it's about a 1/4 mile past the campsite. Catch ya later"

There were a couple of people at the campsite and I started gathering raking up pine needles with my trekking poles to try and get better insulation to sleep on. It was going to suck tonight.

Seahorse and her boyfriend who doesn't have a trail name yet walked up, he was the one with the thermometer. He told me it was 35 and dropping quickly. Shit

I got a bunch of water and then collected wood and we all started a fire with pinecones. I stayed up late with the fire, not wanting to face the cold. I was guessing it was now about 28 degrees at 9Pm which meant it could go down to 20 or even lower by 3am. I got into my tent and put on everything I had and tried to go to sleep. I blew all the water back into my bladder so my drink tube wouldn't freeze and I was not looking forward to this night cause I only have a 40 degree bag and a Patagonia down sweater. Shit.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Whitewater Trail Magic!

I awoke to the sounds of the I-10 and the screeching brakes of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe on it's way to St Louis from somewhere beyond San Diego. I can only assume it was using it's brakes to rouse we hikers for there is nothing but desert and uninterrupted track for many a mile. We had a lofty climb in front of us, eventually to 9000 feet on the way to Big Bear. The wind was howling but I hardly noticed because the howl had been a constant since I arrived here the afternoon prior. I knew I was headed toward the wind farm up the hill and then to some river beyond that but I had no idea what was actually in store for me.

I climbed quickly the stiff and windblown flora and passed the defunct carcass of the Pink Motel, which was for a short while a hiker hostel and junkyard. The corroded corpses of cars and what looked like a former Hostess delivery truck stood out from the various flotsam of you-name-it and what-did-we-used-to-call-its. There was a hiker register there on a lonely post beside the trail and I stopped with a few other hikers to sign it, like Seahorse, Chili-dog and Bubbles, Das Boots was ahead and I ran into him at the wind farm office which was closed. The wind was dangerously close to blowing my sun helmet off and into the sky so I took an extra shoelace and lashed it to my pack strap. It saved the day on several occasions. The wind was relentless and I peeled a sour apple blowpop, wrapper fluttering violently, while I tried not to let it litter the hills and destroy my hiker karma.

After a goodish climb and the regular meander, I descended into a canyon where the wind was not so severe. When the winds blow strong, the perspiration is evaporated and my chafing is cured; however, in lesser winds, the rubbing and stinging sets in. I walked past a few civilians, out for the day with their rottweiler and doberman and they were surprised to hear about the enormity of the PCT. Shortly after that I saw a note, a glorious not in a ziplock bag laying in the center of the trail.

"Trail Magic Ahead at the Trout Farm.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, sodas

There was a junction and a nice, new sign that said Whitewater Preserve 0.5 mi and under that it said, "Hiker's Welcome"

There would be more trail magic today! I didn't know how much though...

I hiked the half mile in to the preserve and there were a few others already there at a wading pool that you could do some stealth rinsing in. Ninja, Drop&Roll, K-Bomb, etc. they directed me to the pavilion where Buck-30 (a triple crowner) was grillin up burgers and other delectables and he had a book about he CDT. A triple crowner is someone who has hiked all three of the long trails in the US: The Appalachian Trail (AT), The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) which goes up the middle and is the most remote of the three. Buck 30 lives in San Diego and decided to come up and do trail magic for a few days and he is the man! I'm starting to think about the CDT now... Ahh shoot. get back on the PCT!

There were a lot of day hikers and casual campers with lots of kids there and trout pools with HUGE trout in them. They were so docile I put my hand in there and they would actually rub up against you.

After that, just about a million people showed up at the magnificent preserve with our Ranger Jose who pulled out a scope and let us check out bighorn sheep on the hillside. Rain was looming and we still had a big climb ahead of us...

Just as we depleted Buck-30's trail magic, another trail angel dropped in with pesto tortellini, baked chicken, watermelon for days and pies of various flavors. It seems we are not going out to hike any more today... The moon was nearly full and the wind had the smell of rain on it...

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sleeping under the Bridge

Got up early because I heard it was going to be a hot climb. We had to drop 8000 feet into the desert and it was going to take about 19 miles, so I knew it would be a typical PCT indirect route.

The PCT is starting to irritate me with it's rambling, meandering route that unnecessarily winds back and forth and over and around ridges for seemingly no reason at all. Unlike the Appalachian Trail, it doesn't take you up to every peak and scenic view. Instead it takes you around every little canyon and hill so you can see everything from every different angle. In a word: UNNECESSARY. I would be much happier if we would just go to ur destination or go to something interesting. The AT might have been like this except you could never really see it because all the shrubs and trees were too high. Out here you can see where the trail goes and you're thinking, "Why the hell am I going all the way over there to come back here just a few feet below?" There's nothing wrong with switchbacks, just make them shorter, a LOT shorter.

I was right, this trail did in 15 miles what it could have easily done in 8 and I spent all day fighting heavy brush and descending into the hot valley below. It was so strange, yesterday I was hiking through five feet of snow and today it was 94 degrees at 10 AM. I cut a few switchbacks and bushwhacked a little. I'm not ashamed to say it. I cut up my legs and probably risked some Rattlesnake encounters but it was worth it. F the PCTA and their ridiculous switchbacks that go a half mile out and back to put you 50 feet lower on the same slope. Total BS!

By the time I got to the bottom I was waxed and chafed and pissed. I refilled my water at the fountain they have there at Snow Creek and I saw these crazy clouds coming over San Jacinto. I knew it was going to rain so I waited til the clouds were in the right spot and I headed across the steaming valley with cloud cover to cool me. It was a good idea and as I got to the bridge where the trains and the I-10 pass over a desert wash I saw some strange birds like owls or hawks burrowed into the desert bluffs along the RR tracks. I shot a picture but it turned out pretty bad.

The wind through that valley is extremely strong nearly 100 percent of the time (which is why there are all of those huge windmills there) and the old creek-bed wash I was walking in was hard to move against the wind while hiking in the deep, loose sand but eventually I got to the bridge where some awesome people had dropped off sodas and beers and other snacks for us PCT hikers. I was chillin there cause I had some cell service and then Bandit and Sprinkles walked up. Bandit and I decided we were going to hitch to the next exit down on the I-10 where we heard there was a Burger King: Cabazon. Some students from Redlands were filming a zombie movie nearby and after sticking our thumbs out on a deserted frontage road for an hour I decided to ask them if they would give us a lift. They did. There were cool and all bloodied up for the filming so we really made an interesting combination. Lots of other hikers had showed up at the bridge so Bandit and I decided to conjure up some of our own Trail Magic. We got in to Burger King in Cabazon (where those huge dinosaur replicas are) and ordered 25 cheeseburgers, 12 Chicken Sandwiches, 6 big orders of fries, 12 dutch apple pies and lots of condiments. We had no idea how we were getting back but we had our hands very full of food. Bandit got us a ride from this guy Jeff towing a sand rail and when we arrived back under the bridge, there was a cacophony of adulation that barely rose above the highway drone.

We feasted all night and fell asleep in the dirty sand under the bridge, about 20 of us, fat, warm and happy, with another day of climbing toward San Gorgonio ahead of us...

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Snow Trekking the Ridges

Getting out of Idyllwild was tough but I managed to get breakfast at the Red Kettle again and get a ride up from the owner of the Idyllwild Inn around 8:15 AM I was worried about the hike back up devil's slide but it proved to be not so bad. I ran into Ninja and Drop&Roll after Saddle Junction and we all headed up to San Jacinto. I decided I didn't want to summit San Jacinto despite John Muir's glowing recommendations. I was experiencing a lot of chafe from the kilt but the feet were fine as we came down toward the feared "Fuller Ridge" where we hiked through a lot of snow which really slowed me down but wasn't very dangerous. Once, I post-holed all the way in and my bare bottom and balls were treated to the exhilarating sensation of a frosty cradle since I'm going commando under my kilt. WOW! That was something I'll never forget (I'll bet I just gave you a visual you won't soon forget either).

After fuller ridge we came into the Fuller Ridge campground and I was just too tired to keep going. I really wanted to because there was a lot more daylight left but the chafing was just to intense.

About a million people showed up and we had a great campfire with Seahorse, New Homes, Side Track, Sprinkles, Bandit, Ramblin Rose, Half Step, Roger, Bubbles, Murphy, Dump Truck, and a bunch more I can't remember.

I took some great video of me on top of a rock formation on Fuller Ridge and you can check it out here:
Rotary view of San Jacinto and San Gorgonio

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Back to Idyllwild

I have been feeling pretty good lately and I've been getting big miles but today I felt the strain. I've been climbing up at much higher elevations so I am finally starting to slow down, not to mention I ran into a ton of snow today, so much that I actually lost the trail and bushwhacked a half mile up a mountainside, pretty much lost, until I found a trail which I assumed was the PCT (it was) but I ended up going the wrong way on it until i ran into some people who set me straight. It may seem like it's hard to go south instead of north but it's actually pretty easy because I don't have a GPS to tell me where on the trail I actually am and even when you're going north on the PCT, a lot of the time, you're going any direction BUT North. It's frustrating but the trail is dictated by terrain so you just have to deal with it. Today had amazing views though and it's evident that the people who work on this trail have done so much hard work to maintain and build this trail. It's amazing.

The altitude climbs and the snow hiking made for a really tough day and I had to drop back down into Idyllwild to pick up enough food to make the next 130 miles to Big Bear. It's going to be rough because in two days I descend 8000 feet into the desert, only to have to climb it all again after I cross the I-10.

When I got into Idyllwild I was planning on resupplying and then going right back up but I had to hike an extra 5 miles just to get in to town and I decided to just take a break and tackle the re-entry (2.5 miles straight up) in the morning. I piggybacked in a cabin with 5 other guys and I hit the market to resupply. 6 days of food is heavy and I have a lot of altitude to cover both up and down. It'll be rough but the views are spectacular. You can follow my progress on my website at For some reason the GPS map isn't working in some browsers but if you give the page a minute to load it usually works.

Tomorrow also has a lot of snowy and icy spots that have a lot of hikers worried. I don't have crampons or micro-spikes but I figure enough people have gone over that the footprints will be easy to hike in. We'll see! If my GPS tracker loses a couple thousand feet of altitude in less than a minute, you better call the coroner to come pick up my body.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Windy Strollin to Apache

We got a late start after breakfast that the Red Kettle and met the owner's dog, Cody Bear or something like that. It was a long-haired Akita. It was HUGE and it was a really cool dog. Now it's Laura's favorite kind of dog and she wants one. We finally got out to the trailhead around 11:30am after picking up Sweet Pea and taking him with us. The climb wasn't too bad but I got a late start so I knew I wasn't going to get too far. Near the end of the day dark clouds were coming in and it was getting very cold. It wasn't supposed to do that! I sat at a switchback and cooked some ramen and salmon so I could just keep hiking until dark but that didn't happen, around 6pm I holed up in a really cool tree alcove just off the trail that I later discovered (after getting up to pee at 3 am) overlooked all of Palm Springs and the desert.

The night was REALLY cold, the coldest yet but I managed to stay alive.

David AKA “Mister F. Gentle Spirit”