Home » PCT Blog Archive – 2012

PCT Blog Archive – 2012

This archive file is all of the text portion of my PCT Blog.  The blog still exists with pictures and a link has been added to the links directory.  There are references in this text only version to pictures and videos. All PCT pictures and videos are available in the PCT gallery page. Portions of this blog are journal entries by me and parts of it are written by my Dad as I reported back to him along the trail. 

 Ryan Iker (Spork) on the Pacific Crest Trail, 2012

The Pacific Crest Trail is a long distance mountain hiking trail closely aligned with the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range, which lies 100 to 150 miles east of the U.S. Pacific coast. The trail’s southern terminus is on the U.S. border with Mexico, and its northern terminus is in British Columbia, Canada. Its corridor through the U.S. is in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington.
The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,663 mi long and ranges in elevation from just above sea level at the Oregon – Washington border to 13,153 feet at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada. The route passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks. 

ANOTHER BEGINNING (2012-04-12 05:25)

Since finishing the Appalachian trail in October 2011 I’ve been in Tucson, AZ. The time here has been great. Growing up in Ohio Tucson seems like another planet. The terrain is crazy wild, the people are different, and the climate during the winter is perfect. I’m fortunate to have family close and it is only due to the kindness and hospitality of Brandon and Tina that I get to experience another phase of geographical change. It’s been a great place to winter over and rebuild my resources and body after 6 months of roaming the woods on the East Coast. I wasn’t quite sure what the long-term effect the AT was going to have on my life. For sure, it was profound. I have thought about it daily and most often it ended in a lingering need to re-enter the woods.

I truly believe that twists and turns in your life happen for a reason. A month and a half ago I had a plan. I was going to spend the winter here in Tucson and head back to the East Coast this spring. Throughout my time here in Tucson I was aware of a bigger and greater challenge that lay just 300 miles to the West of where I sit. They call it the Pacific Crest Trail. Frankly, it’s been on my mind since midpoint on the AT. Once I realized I was actually going to pull it off. Once I realized I could sustain the effort, my mind wandered off to other and different challenges. Plans altered, opportunity arose, and I drove my stake in the sand. The stars aligned&. again. My hiking buddy from the AT, Chimp had already made plans and everything in my life pointed me toward joining him. I start the trail on April 28th.

I went out on a bike ride today with one goal, get a new pair of sunglasses. I have been riding a lot lately and have become incredibly comfortable riding in this city. I began thinking about the fact that I will be starting number 2 out of the three major trails in this country in two and a half weeks and I started to get pretty durn excited! I was headed to REI about 6 miles away. I put some music on and it was time to hit it. I have been searching for an adrenaline rush since I came off the AT. Riding a bicycle as fast and as hard as you can during rush hour traffic challenges both mental focus and physical endurance. I am completely ready to come at the PCT with everything I have. I feel good. I hit the point today where the mind takes over the body and pain is not an issue. This is the zone that allows you to push forward when your body is screaming stop! I did not let up and my body pushed through. I’ve had a taste and I want more. I’ve tested that top gear several times in the past few weeks. Yep, it’s still there.

The AT was a challenge like nothing I’d ever experienced. The PCT is wilder, longer, hotter, colder, higher, and more remote. It is a step up in challenging your hiking skills and will. This one is where I become REALLY good at this whole long distance hiking thing. It is a one foot in front of the other marathon. It is where I really get to let go and just walk. The PCT will be a trip through places I have wanted to go for so long. It has a mystical, gnomes in the woods, feeling about it.

This trail is about extremes and I look forward with great anticipation and excitement. I have to say this.. The only way that I could have had enough money and be in a position to come at this in the best possible scenario is because Brandon and Tina put up with me for almost 6 months. Thank you guys for everything. I have nothing but love for both of you! While I’m at it, big thanks to Dad for everything you have already done and thanks for everything that you are about to do with the blog and support. To all of those that follow this blog, just the fact that anyone follows the blog is awesome. While on the AT when I found out how many hits the blog was getting I really felt the support while I was hiking. I hope you have some fun following me from the border of Mexico to Manning Park in British Columbia, Canada.  Spork is back…

Emmilea (2012-04-26 01:29:08)

Hell YA! I can’t wait to stalk you and Chimp! Love Mouse.

Anonymous (2012-04-26 17:03:01)

Have fun in Lassen! I had my honeymoon there and got to walk about a mile on the PCT. I randomly came across your AT blog somewhere around Tennessee and I’m excited to hear about your PCT adventures.

Goodbye for now Arizona! (2012-04-28 09:41)

I am in the car right now heading to Campo, California with Brandon and Tina. We are very close to the California border. I will say this, I have no idea what is going on! I know what I am doing but it has not set in. I am almost there, on the brink of another crazy adventure, on the cusp of yet another major challenge. My mind is strong and my body is ready to take what the trail has to throw at me. Look out PCT, you have been placed in the center of Spork’s crosshairs and this ain’t my first rodeo!

Talia Haynes (2012-04-29 15:24:12)

Good luck Ryan! Steven and I can’t wait to hear about your adventure when you get back!

SECTION 1, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (2012-04-30 06:31)

The PCT departs from the Mexican border near the small town of Campo (elev. 2,600’). In May (when most thru-hikers begin their journey north) temperatures often reach the 90s in this region. Over the course of the next 40 miles, the trail passes through Lake Morena County Park, beneath Interstate 8, and then climbs through chaparral, scrub oaks, and pines to the rim of the Jeffrey pine-shaded Laguna Mountains. In the Lagunas temperatures in May can dip below freezing.

Next the trail dips into Anza-Borrego Desert State Park at Scissors Crossing, and then winds up, down, and around the San Felipe Hills and lesser mountains of the Cleveland National Forest before crossing Highway 74 at 4,900’ and climbing the backbone of the San Jacinto Mountains. Here it reaches its highest point in this section at 9,030’ shortly before it plunges to its lowest, crossing beneath Interstate 10 at (elev. 1,190’) in broad San Gorgonio Pass.

From here, the PCT climbs steeply to the crest of two east/west-oriented ranges, often under welcome forest shade. It passes near Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead before crossing Interstate 15 between the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains at Cajon Pass near Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area. The vistas from the trail in these mountains include the Los Angeles Basin and Mojave Desert. To the west of Mt. Baden-Powell and the Angeles Crest National Scenic Byway, the PCT descends to Highway 14 at Agua Dulce, then traverses the often brushy landscape of the Sierra Pelona. It continues north for a generally hot and dry traverse across the San Andreas Fault Zone and western arm of the Mojave Desert before climbing into the Tehachapi Mountains where it crosses Highway 58 and enters the Sierra Nevada. The southern California section ends where the trail crosses Highway 178 at Walker Pass (elev. 5,246’).

For thru-hikers the most important considerations when along the Southern California PCT are water and hot temperatures (ranging from the 80s to the 100s). Springs and seasonal water sources begin to dry up in April or May and distances between reliable water can be long (8 to 20 miles). For help finding water, refer to the PCT guidebooks, which tend to give accurate accounts of water sources and their reliability, but remember – conditions do vary from year to year. Other challenges in Southern California include flies, poison oak and rattlesnakes.

Tucson to Southern California (2012-04-30 06:40)

Brandon and Tina drove Ryan to San Diego on Saturday, Apr 28. Sunday he met up with Chimp and they spent the day getting together some last-minute items and supplies. They plan on being at the Mexican border first thing Monday morning to start their trek

tina (2012-04-30 10:21:40)

Can’t wait to see the progression of the beard over the next few weeks worth of pictures

barry (2012-05-02 08:47:20)

I am happy for you two fellas. Make sure you camel up real good.

Snakes, Heat, and Desert (2012-05-01 04:02)

Spork called last night to check in. He sent a picture from the border from his iPhone. They made their first day’s goal of 23 miles. It was critical that they make this distance since this was the only water resupply since leaving the border. He said he’d gotten soft and forgot what trail pain felt like. He was having a little pain on the outside of his left knee and had a hot spot starting on his foot. It was all good. He commented that the rattlesnakes in the desert were bigger and badder than the ones he encountered on the AT. They were a whole lot less intimidated by hikers. They got held up for a while when they found one laying right in the middle of the trail. Tossing pebbles usually ran them off. This one required a much bigger rock and only moved just off the trail where it laid in ambush rattling it’s tail. A running high step got them past. He described the sun and heat as brutal but bearable.

He was going to be turning his phone off for a few days but would continue to send GPS locations.

Brutal! (2012-05-02 19:55)

Here I am in my tent on day 3. First of all, words can’t really describe how beautiful and foreign it is out here. Second of all, I am getting BEAT DOWN! I say this with a positive outlook. I haven’t taken a comfortable step in 2 days. Blisters on both of my feet and a bum knee are making it difficult to take it all in so far. These things happen. There is nothing wrong that didn’t happen on the AT. I think my feet are starting to turn the corner and we’ll see what happens with my knee. When you get a blister it makes you walk different. When you walk different it pisses off other parts of your body. I lay here humbled once again.

The wind today was crazy especially considering we were walking down the sides of mountains with a thousand foot drop on one side. A feeling that I can’t really describe but I love it! We come around a bend and it’s nothing but massive mountains and deep valleys. The trail winds back and forth so much that we are rarely going north. We are at mile 54 and I bet we aren’t 20 miles from the border.

Well, I hope my body decides to get its act together soon. Hope all is well! With love from the desert, Spork

Ohhhh baby! (2012-05-03 21:37)

Finally! The knee is feeling good again. After 4 vitamin I’s (Ibuprofen) and a solid pep talk from the one and only Chuck Iker, the gods finally decided to shine on me. What an incredible hike today. The desert is in full bloom and we have started seeing more desert plants like prickly pears, choya, and yucca. They were strangely absent from the first 60 miles. The trail is about a thousand times smoother than anything on the AT. This is some great big mileage terrain.

Love, Spork

Phone Call (2012-05-04 09:57)

Talked to Ryan last night. It was around 2:00 in the afternoon there. He and Chimp were sitting under a small bush in the desert trying to catch a little shade and looking at a water hole that was too disgusting to attempt a water draw. He reported they had seen their 5thrattlesnake. They were a little surprised how quickly the mountains showed up. He said the scenery was overwhelming and the desert was in full bloom. The wind has been endless and strong. The nights have challenged their 20 degree sleeping bags. They summit one mountain and there are a hundred others for as far as the eye can see. The AT tended to restrict line of sight on what’s ahead due to the heavy foliage. The PCT keeps your next few days hike right in front of you all of the time.

They’ve encountered very few other hikers, primarily because there are very few other hikers. The PCT is thru hiked by less than 300 people a year. Somewhere up ahead should be a group that left Campo Trail Days a few days before Ryan and Chimp started. They haven’t caught up to them and they’ve not run into any stragglers yet.

He was still struggling with knee pain but his blisters were settling down. He encountered knee issues on the AT and was hoping it would settle down soon. He seemed to be in as good of spirits as you can be crouched under a bush in the middle of the desert with a throbbing knee. Based upon his last post he made at the end of the day things seemed to take a turn for the better

100 Miles (2012-05-05 07:03)

Spork and Chimp camped at the 101 mile mark last night. They’ve been on the trail 5 days and that puts them right at 20 miles per day. They should be in Warner Springs some time around midday. This is an important resupply point.

Eagle Rock (2012-05-05 16:23)

Chimp and I hit 100 miles yesterday after 5 days of hiking. It is really nice having such a good buddy out here with me. It really helps the mental game. Chimp is doing well. Eagle rock was the first landmark in my mind. The hiking is so nice. My knee didn’t hurt at all the 8 miles into Warner Springs. My blister has developed a buddy just under it. They have both popped ad are now fusing with the rest of my foot to make a serious hiking callous. This is a good thing. We are resting under some shade after eating a burger. I would rate said burger a 2 out of 10. I’ll take it though. Anyway, we’re going to do a little night hiking tonight with the full moon. Someone said this is the closest the moon is to the earth all year. All I hear is night hiking in the desert with no headlamp. What up!

Love, Spork

Pink Floyd, NoBo 2011 (2012-05-07 20:23:08)  Spork, you crazy bastard. You’re awesome. Keep living the dream.

Idyllwild, CA (2012-05-08 05:05)

Ryan called last evening from Idyllwild,  CA. Idyllwild is an important stop over due to the remoteness of the next few hundred miles of trail. They had the opportunity to get showers and wash some clothes. They were on their way to the grocery and outfitter to get supplies and pick up a few needed pieces of gear. They need to leave Idyllwild with a week of supplies.

They have caught up with the group of hikers that left the PCT trail days. They started 2 days ahead of Spork and Chimp. The pair plans on getting up early and getting on the trail with the goal of putting these hikers behind them for good over the next few days. They will be hiking above 6,000 feet with two sections above 9,000 for most of the next week through San Jacinto Mountains and into Big Bear. In one section they will gor from over 9,000 feet to 1,500 in less than 20 miles.

Ryan sent his first SD picture card home from Idyllwild. I’ll get these on the Blog as soon as they arrive. Both Ryan and Chimp were in good spirits. Ryan is still fighting blisters. Chimp appears to be immune. Ryan feels like he’s finally getting into the zone and working out the kinks. He said walking is becoming fun again. Their miles are increasing as are their spirits.

Trail Pictures (2012-05-09 18:13)

Ryan sent a SD card home with trail pictures from April 30 till May 7. You can access the pictures in the right column

5 days worth of Goldfish in a day and a half. (2012-05-10 21:18)

Chimp and I have spent the last 3 days climbing from the desert floor to over 9,000 feet of San Jacinto fury, walking through snow and pine forests, and then dropped almost 8,000 feet over 21 waterless miles. I now lay in my tent about 5 miles short of passing under I-10. 205 miles over 11 days! Gettin it! I have never had this much fun hiking. The last 3 days were definitely a test though. We saw a 28 mile climb that was followed by a 27 mile decent. The water situation the entire time was brutal, but we hit it hard and took it down. Next… well, I honestly am not too sure what happens after the next 5 miles. I am willing to bet that we climb another mountain, and repeat. This hike is still in complete dream world status. Now that my blisters have healed and my knee is feeling stronger the fun is about to really begin. I have never hiked this fast and aggressively before. At this point it’s a matter of how hard you can you push your body, while not overdoing it at the same time. So far, so good.

We are planning on taking our first 0 day in Big Bear on Monday. Strangely I am not too interested in taking a day off but we need to slow it down a bit. We are going to meet Chimp’s dad, his dad’s buddy Adrian, and possibly Chimp’s brother in Kennedy Meadows around the 8th of June.

Oh the animals… 2 rattlesnakes, lizards, baby squirrels, and really odd-looking bugs! There’s always something to look at out here. If we don’t know what it’s called we just throw the word desert on the front of it and there ya have it. For instance, some sort of unknown winged animal becomes desert bird. This works great with plants also, desert aloe looking plant. Crash course in Chimp and Spork animal and plant classification complete. I guess that’s a long-winded way of saying we need a book.

The two Advil PM that I took are starting to kick in! Time to get some rest. I hope everybody had a great day. Remember, you can take up to 3 Aleve per day. Love, Spork

Big Bear, CA (2012-05-13 21:36)

Chimp and I have hit the two-week mark. We have traveled 265 miles from the border. We find ourselves in Big Bear, California at a Motel 6. We are going to take our first day off tomorrow. Looking back at the start of our journey it has brought many high and a couple of lows. I must be honest though, a low day out here is still a great day in the big scheme of things. Life is good!

Today after a bit of a lazy start to the day we stumbled upon a compound with a bunch of cages in it. In these cages were lions, tigers, and you guessed it, grizzly bears. (and a black leopard) this guy came out of a little building and explained that he was an animal trainer for movies. He did all of the animal scenes for the movie Gladiator. Only on the PCT will you stumble upon something like this. Things like this keep you pushing and wondering what is around the next bend.

We hiked hard and made it into town to split a large pepperoni and jalepeno pizza. Food will motivate beyond anything out here. I worked another small blister on my foot but who cares. It won’t be the last and you learn to put it out of your head. Pain only affects you when you acknowledge it’s existence.

Let the dream continue…

Love, Spork

Deep Creek Hot Springs (2012-05-18 05:59)

Spork called last night. He and Chimp were in good spirits and were making good miles. He said they are comfortably averaging 25 miles per day and had really settled into their pace. They are currently hiking the high desert. The temperatures are approaching 100 degrees but still cold at night. They camped last night at Deep Creek Hot Springs, a high desert remote hot springs which they found was a clothing optional destination. The wildlife included beat-up soaking hikers and a mix of clothing optional locals who took advantage of their options. He described the experience as interesting. His explanation was comical.

He called from the trail half way between Deep Creek and Silver Lake which was their destination for the night. They were at the 316 mile mark. He promises to send home another CD picture card in the next week. They will be hiking remote high desert and will not really be near a post office until later in the week.

In talking to Ryan you are a little taken back by how at ease he is with the whole experience. He is approaching his third week and over 300 miles in one of the most inhospitable sections of the country. He speaks extensively and almost romantically of the beauty and vastness of the desert. He talks about climbing over 9000 feet in altitude in 20 miles stretches as if it were nothing more than a walk in the park. It’s hard not to hang up the phone without a twinge of envy. You have to give him credit, he’s doing something very few have. He’s a long way from Kansas.

I’ve spent the past month reading a lot of books and trail journals on the PCT. I’ve found some very good reads both as trail journals and just interesting looks at life. Some of these include:

Skywalker – Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail, Bill Walker

Wild, From Lost to Found, Cheryl Strayed

The Cactus Eaters, Dan White

A Gang of One, Lief Carlsen

A Through Hikers Heart, Tales of the Pacific Crest Trail, Ray Echols

Lunch Time (2012-05-23 09:00)

Chimp and I are sitting down at 9,200 feet after a long steep climb eating lunch. The tree is 1,500 years old and the view is unbelievable!

I officially hate poodles. (2012-05-23 09:10)

For about 30 miles the PCT is lined with poodle dog bush. This nasty little beast is like poison ivy, poison oak, and Satan mixed together. It only shows up after a fire. The area we are walking through looks desolate and unforgiving. Chimp and I ran out of water for the first time yesterday. After we passed a dry spring that we had counted on, we hiked an extra 8 miles to get water at a Ranger Station. We have had some great sunsets and sunrises the last couple days. Life is good on the trail!

Over and out, Spork

Anonymous (2012-05-24 00:36:18)

Spork,

I happened across your blog chronicling your hike through the AT- it was a good read. My son and I live in Palm Springs, which you’ve probably seen from the top of Mt. San Jacinto. You’re living the dream up there; leaving everything behind and communing with friends and fate. Keep it up so people like us may live vicariously through you. Clar

Ryan who??? (2012-05-24 22:12)

Spork it is! 454 miles … 25 days later. I can’t really express my true emotions with words. I can say this though, my faith in humanity is redeemed once again. Chimp and I are at the hiker heaven hostel in Agua Dulce, CA. These wonderful people live for dirty, smelly, and appreciative people. They have welcomed every one of us into their home for a shower, laundry, and some well needed relaxation. These are the people who genuinely love and care for the people who ask nothing more out of the world than to enjoy it in it’s rawest state.

What does it mean to live in a desert world that it is so harsh and unforgiving? All you really need is water, a flat bit of ground to sleep, and a pretty sunset and sunrise from time to time. Out here, life is that simple. When you get caught up with the grind and struggle of life, just take a moment and appreciate what we take for granted. On the trail or in the ”real world” life is only as complicated as you make it. Just remember, people are generally good and the world is beautiful. Sometimes we forget our true path and that is to be happy. Be happy!

Love, Spork

Shin Splints! (2012-05-27 15:18)

I have always heard of people getting shin splints. It is something that sends a lot of people home but it also can be reversed somewhat quickly with some rest, ice, and Advil. I will conquer the splints! I will not be denied.

Well I’m hanging at Casa De Luna. Home of the trail angels, the Andersons. I couldn’t be in a better place for this issue to arise. It’s hard to put a time limit on a recovery but I’m hoping that by tomorrow I can make it back out. This next stretch is the Mojave desert, the real desert. Not a good place to get stranded. I am staying positive and expecting a speedy recovery. I did just polish off 4 hot dogs, a pint of ice cream, a banana, a half-gallon of chocolate milk, and 2 pieces of string cheese for lunch. That sure can’t hurt!

Love, Spork

30 days, 500 miles (2012-05-29 10:58)

I talked to Spork several times over the weekend. He was a little beat up with shin splints. Apparently his last day of hiking was pretty painful. He was taking a down day at: Casa de Luna: The home of Joe and Terrie Anderson. The Andersons are well-known trail angels who allow hikers to stay at their home. He was very confident that a day off his leg and the ability to ice it down would do the trick.

Monday morning he said his leg was feeling better and he hoped to get back on the trail after lunch. He thought it would be best to start off with a 1⁄2 day. He’s about a day behind his group and if all goes well he should catch back up with them before entering the Mojave Desert section.

I expect to get several SD picture cards this afternoon and will get them posted as soon as possible.

Tomorrow he will be on the trail for 30 days. He should hit the 500 mile marker late today or tomorrow. This map shows his progress to date. The numbers only represent GPS pings. He’s missed a few.

Pictures from May 9 to May 25 (2012-05-30 04:53)

A new pictures catalog has been added to the right column. I received 2 SD cards yesterday with about 500 pictures and 30 videos. There is also a link with a few of the video clips he sent

Hillary (2012-06-04 12:24:09)

I might use that comically beautiful wildflower picture as my new desktop background… you will be credited!! :)

Chuck Iker (2012-06-05 05:11:54)

I have a full resolution version of that picture if you’re interested. Send me an email at handpotter@gmail.com if you’d like a copy.

Tehachapi, CA – mile 568 (2012-06-01 12:15)

Ryan called this morning from Tehachapi, Ca. He, Chimp and two other hikers they have met up with shared a motel room in Tehachapi for the night. Since Tuesday Ryan covered 80 miles in 3 days and caught back up with the group Thursday evening. He did 30 miles Tuesday and 33 miles Wednesday. He reported the 80 mile stretch across the Mojave as hot, sandy, and incredibly windy. Several sections were in soft sand. He said it was like walking across the hot sand at the top of the beach only for hours on end.

The temperature today is Tehachapi is going to be over 100 and they have a 24 mile stretch of waterless desert yet to cross before they get back into some mountains. They were debating either hold off until tomorrow when the temp is supposed to drop 10 degrees or taking off in the afternoon and hiking into the night. Within the next week they will be entering the start of the Sierras.

Entering the Sierra Nevada Mountains. (2012-06-07 11:20

Chimp, Peanut, Oregon, and I have made it to Walker Pass, mile 652. This is a big milestone in the trip. We have officially entered the mystical Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is completely new to me. I am now further north in California than I have ever been. The desert was not ready to let us go without a fight though. Last night we were on the final leg of a 29 mile day with very little water when a monster set of clouds started rolling in. We made it to camp to find out that there was no water. We attempted to set our tents up in 70 mile an hour wind gusts, not very easy. Setting up tents in 70 mile an hour wind gusts in sand is impossible. I laid in my tent with the only anchor holding it to the ground being myself. It felt like we were being sand blasted all night. I got about 20 minutes of sleep. ROUGH night! The winds in the last week have been rowdy. Walking on a trail that has, at minimum, a 500 foot drop off one side is a rush in itself. Walking on a ridge when there are gusts that can slam you to the ground is nuts.

The big mountains are upon us. We can see them in the distance. At this point it seems like we can cover so much ground in a day, but it’s crazy because our scale is so skewed. The mountains are so big and there have been very few trees. I feel small and powerful at the same time.

I will introduce you to the crew.

You all know Chimp from such adventures as the great AT conquest. Chimp had planned on this PCT thruhike before he had finished the AT. He has a blog going too – www.walktoshare.org.  He is hiking to raise money for a grant that paid for his brother’s treatment after a car wreck. He was in a coma for 4 weeks. This world class treatment was paid for by this grant. His brother is now 100 % and is truly a walking miracle. Chimp is a genuine southern gentleman.

Peanut was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. He now lives in Denver. Peanut is deathly allergic to peanuts which when it comes to trail food that limits your choices quite a bit. He has the same mentality as we do out here. Laugh a lot and hike hard.

Oregon is from Oregon believe it or not. He works for the forest service department in the wildland fire division. He also does some search and rescue work. He’s a real Oregon woodsman, also a very funny individual.

We have a great group of guys right now. I haven’t laughed this hard since I was on the AT. It is never a dull moment

I am finally really getting into trail shape. (I know I say this all the time.) My feet are tough and my shin is about 90 %. It has been a pretty painful start to the journey but at the same time I would rather be out hiking in some pain than sitting on the couch. I am amazed once again at the human body and mind. Pain is just a warning that something is wrong and if you know it’s nothing major then you can control how much you pay attention to it. I love it out here and couldn’t be happier. It’s pretty extreme but it is so rewarding at the end of the day.

It’s about time for the rattlesnake pictures to turn into bear pictures. I was apparently pretty close to one the other day but didn’t see it. Another hiker in front of me saw it. I can’t wait for the first bear sighting. They are some amazing creatures and they generally want nothing to do with people unless you have food… generally. Don’t worry everyone, I won’t do anything extremely stupid. I can’t help but push it a bit though.

Well it’s about time to get back to the trail. We stayed at Lake Isabella Motel yesterday. The owners here are so nice and helpful to hikers. They drove us around town when we needed it. They made some delicious homemade egg rolls and steamed buns. It was really unexpected hospitality from a random motel 36 miles away from the trail. Let’s see how long it takes to hitch 36 miles back to Walker Pass. It only took us 20 minutes to get a ride in. We got a ride from an awesome couple that works at a hospital out here and picked us up on their way home from work. Thanks again if you read this! I am going to be sending another memory card home with pictures today so keep an eye out. Have a great day everyone!

Love,

Spork

Lake Isabella, CA (2012-06-07 11:38)

I talked to Ryan last evening from Lake Isabella, CA. They arrived there Tuesday late and hitchhiked 38 miles into town to take a down day. This was an important resupply point as they are finally out of the desert and starting their hike into the Sierras. They will need to carry 8 days of food into this next section to Independence, CA, some 150 miles away. Ryan was in the process of finishing a post so I won’t go into much detail other than logistical. His tale of their last 4 days in the desert were comical but probably only as an outside observer.

He said he was feeling better than at any point thus far in the trip. His blisters were healing up and his shin splints were almost gone. Being on the receiving end of phone calls from the trail for the past year I know that body aches, foot issues, weight loss, gear, and food and water availability are primary talking points amongst hikers and anyone they talk to. These are all just realities of trail life. The discussions are matter-of-fact rather than genuine complaints or gripes. They expect these issues and take them in stride. His comment was ”comfort kills dreams”.

To punctuate the tribulations they endure Ryan told of a 20 mile stretch of waterless trail last week that ended at a spring littered with cow pie floaters. The purification methods they use make almost any water supply safe to drink from a biological perspective, it the aesthetics and floaters that offer a challenge. Ryan is carrying an ultraviolet light purification unit that kills all harmful bacteria and spores. The addition of a little Crystal Light flavoring and he said it was “good to go”. Yikes.

Over the next week contact will be limited. They will be constantly above 5,000 ft and crossing snow and ice-covered 10,000 ft. passes. Forester pass is is 13,180 ft. Entering the Sierra’s is a significant change in scenery but also require different gear and more planning for resupply. Many sections go a week without crossing roads or hitting resupply points.

They plan on being in Independence, CA in 7-8 days where they will meet up with Chimp’s Dad and Brother. They will take two days off the PCT to ascend Mt Whitney as a group and return to the trail 2 days later. Mt Whitney is the highest point in the lower 48 at 14,405 ft. Although the PCT does not directly cross Mt. Whitney the hikers did not want to miss the opportunity to make the climb. In addition, Chimp’s brother who was in a coma not that long ago will attempt the hike with them. Ryan provided a link to Chimp’s blog and his brother’s story.

New Pictures May 26 to June 6 (2012-06-10 05:55)

I received a SD card in the mail yesterday. This group of pictures is located in the right column.

Mile 736, Mulkey Pass (2012-06-11 11:43)

I got a voice mail today from the trail. Spork called from Mulkey pass at 10,400 ft elevation. This was the first time they’ve had any service for the past 5 days. He said they were doing well, very little snow was in the passes and that he’d call the next time he got some service.

Mt Whitney (2012-06-13 08:28)

Received a call from Spork at 9:40 this morning (6:40 his time) from the summit of Mt Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States (14,505 ft). It was a brief and crackly call but he was able to tell me that he started out at midnight last night heading up the approach trail and summited as the sun came up. He was excited, he said he felt great, it was the highlight of his hike so far and that he’d call when he got into Independence. His immediate plan was to hike back down to a camp he was at last night and take a nap. There were a few ice and snow crossings but that the passes were pretty clear for a summit this early in the year. Mt Whitney is not directly on the PCT. Ryan decided he was not going to pass that close and not summit.

He sent a GPS from the summit you can see on the live maps.

Oh Sierras, how I love you! (2012-06-16 10:38)

It’s really hard to express the beauty and challenge that the Sierras present. This is the most rewarding hiking I have ever done. The world-class views just seem to get better every day. We were introduced to the Sierras by a steep climb up to 10,000 feet and these massive mangled pines. Once Chimp and I had reached the first peak we could see the next 100 miles that we were about to hike. We sat there sizing the range up and discussing how we would conquer it in the days to come. The siege was under way and we are good at what we do. Look out Sierras!

The greatest feat of my hiking career. (2012-06-16 15:30)

On the 13th I set out from Crabtree Meadows campground at 12:30 am. The plan was to tackle Mt. Whitney before sunrise. I hiked up with a guy named Iron. The hike for the first 3 miles was mild and enjoyable with the Milky Way visible and an extreme feeling of anticipation coursing through my veins. We made it to guitar lake and it got serious. The next mile was steep and a bit exhausting. Then the switchbacks began. They weren’t very steep but they were long. About 3 miles from the top the air began to get very thin and catching your breath became a bit of a challenge. Night hiking is very strange when you know there is a 3,000 to 4,000 foot drop about 3 feet away and you can only see a 5 foot patch of lit ground in front of you. I made it to the top at 4:15 am. Well I was about an hour early for the sunrise and it was freezing! I thought my toes were going to fall off. An hour later the sun starting peeking out over the distant mountains. The light playing off of the peaks all around me was spectacular. I was at the highest point in the lower 48 looking down on the Sierras. After a couple of hours of hopping up and down trying to keep warm and take in the views I decided it was time to hike down.

I had no idea what the trail really looked like because it was dark on the way up. It was pretty shocking how treacherous the trail was. The hike down was nothing but views of lakes and mountains. I finally made it back to my tent at the camp and laid down for 20 minutes and ate some food. This was a 17 mile round trip and pretty exhausting but I was determined to get more miles in on the day. Packed up and full of food I set out towards Forester pass, 14 miles away. I felt like a zombie stumbling down the trail for a about 5 miles and then I got my 23rd wind of the day. Game on! I starting powering down the trail with a thirst that needed to be quenched by views and miles. I made it to the base of Forester Pass not really sure where the pass was. Suddenly about 2,000 feet up I saw two ant sized people standing between two peaks. I felt the blood rushing through my veins and up I went. I made it to the top at 13,200 feet looking back on the lakes and trail. It was about 7:30 and the rays were bouncing off of the lakes and mountains. The back side of Forester Pass had more snow than I had seen yet. I lost the trail for a minute and had eventually found my way again.

After the pass we officially had entered Kings Canyon National Park. I decided to hike another 6 miles to a campground that would put me 9 miles out of Onion Valley Campground over Kearsarge Pass. Once again I had to turn my headlamp on. I still felt great at this point. I powered down the trail and made it into camp by 10:30. 22 hours and 37 miles later I had made it! What a feeling. I had gone through about 20,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. This was one of the best days of my life.

800+ Miles (2012-06-18 06:43)

Spork called Sunday morning. They took a couple of down days in Independence, CA where they met up with Chimps’ Dad, brother and friend of their family. Ryan was particularly thankful of their hospitality and company. It was late morning and Ryan and Chimp were at a Laundromat and getting supplies to head back out on the trail in the afternoon.

It’s unlikely they will have any contact for the next 6 days and they will need to carry enough food to get them through to their next resupply. This mid-section of the Sierra’s is remote and they are entering Bear country. The State requires that they carry Bear Cans to store all of their food in. It’s a hefty fine if a Ranger finds you hiking without one. Ryan was explaining some anti-bear tactics. The trick is to stop and eat dinner in one spot and move on and camp in another off the trail. The PCT is a corridor that all kinds of animals use to move north and south. Camping right on the trail increases the likelihood of contact.

Independence marks 800 miles. Ryan sounds as comfortable and sure of himself as any time I have talked to him since leaving the border. He is in awe of the Sierras. You can hear genuine joy in his voice. He’s filled 2 16GB SD cards in the past two weeks. These are on their way home today. He was able to purchase his second pair of trail shoes in Independence. We also arranged to have some gear changes mailed to the Independence post office. He has lost quite a bit of weight and his waist belt on his pack was no longer cinching up. We ordered the next size down and had it sent to Independence.

Over the next week the trail crosses many permanent snow-covered passes. So far they’ve been lucky with ice and snow. This past winter had near record low snowfall in the Sierras. In many places the total pack is at 30 to 40 percent of normal. It’s recommended to time your hike so that you won’t reach the Sierra’s until June 15. This allows the best timing for Sierra snowpack melt and avoiding the start of autumn snow further north. Right now they have about 150 mile of the Sierra’s under their belt and are making excellent time. With this consideration Spork and Chimp have decided to hold their total mile through the rest of the Sierra’s to about 20 miles per day so they can stop and smell the pinecones. Over the next two weeks they will pass through the Ansel Adams Wilderness, Yosemite, and on into Lake Tahoe. New pictures will be posted as soon as the SD Cards arrive later this week.

Be sure to look at the two previous posts Ryan made on Saturday with his Iphone.

Mammoth, CA – 900 miles (2012-06-23 14:39)

Ryan was finally able to get phone service this afternoon after almost a week. They will be getting into Mammoth, CA late this evening and plan on taking a down day there to resupply on Sunday. Mammoth marks 900 miles. They have averaged 20+ miles per day this week. Ryan said they have hiked long days of 12 to 14 hours. The terrain has been rugged with a lot of high passes and cold nights into the 30s.

The section of trail they are now on is actually the original John Muir trail which the PCT was expanded from. It is reported to be the most stunning and remote section of the Sierras. Ryan fought for words to describe. Amazing was about as descriptive as he could get. I am hoping to get SD cards Monday that he sent from Independence.

Chimp’s shin splints are healing up. Ryan was going through breaking a new pair of shoes in this week and is back to blisters and hot spots. His comment on that was how could anything piss you off in this place. He speaks with a reverence and awe that is obvious. He said it was impossible to understand the remoteness and grandeur of the wilderness in the Sierras until you actually see it. They’ve not crossed a road in 6 days. They’ve been hiking with Sunset for the past few days. Sunset is a 65-year-old almost double tripper crowner. He’s nearing completion of the PCT, Appalachian Trail, and Continental Divide Trail for the second time. The triple crown is almost 8000 miles. Ryan said they think he broke his toe the other day and they still fight to keep up with him.

Their plan is to go off the trail on Tuesday or Wed and take a trolly into Yosemite Valley. This is off the trial but they did not want to miss it. Longer term they are hoping to be in Lake Tahoe by the 4th of July. We will be sending resupply packages there. Batteries, toilet paper, snickers bars, and whatever else he decides he needs but can’t get. They will be in Mammoth all day tomorrow and will try to do a post with pictures.

A week of passes, lakes, and marmots. (2012-06-25 17:08)

The week coming out of Kearsarge Pass seemed to blend into one crazy dream. The days were long. The hiking was slow and grueling. I was about as happy as could be. It’s really tough to separate the days. Some of the big passes were 4,000 feet up over 10 miles and the ”small” passes were 3,000 feet over 7 miles. 6 hours of climbing can actually be really fun in a delirious sort of way.

The feeling you get standing at the top looking back can only be understood in the moment. The pictures only seem to be a reminder of feeling and do little justice to the real beauty. It’s much more than visual. The smell of the fresh air, the sound of the wind cutting through the granite peaks, and the warmth of the direct sunlight are what really makes the views special. The mountains, lakes, trees, and dirt are here calling your name. Will you answer the call?

Split Pea Traveler (2012-06-25 19:41:07)

Lovin’ your blog! Hoping to do the Oregon section next September. Can’t wait to see your posts from there. Awesome stuff, man.

What a town! (2012-06-26 08:46)

Mammoth, CA is what every town in America should strive to be. We came off the trail and the magic began. We got a ride into town from Spike and his brother. Spike owns the Mammoth Liquor Store. He had come down with a terrible case of pneumonia and was in a coma for the entire month of December. Before we had the pleasure of meeting him he had made it up to Duck Pass for the first time since barely making it out of the hospital. It was a huge day for him and his family and it was really special to be a part of. Keep it up Spike! You, your brother and fiancéè were a big part of an amazing experience that I will not forget. Thank you so much for the hat also! Mammoth Liquor and Spork are headed to Canada.

After making it into town, we checked into the Motel 6, cleaned up, and went out to celebrate Oregon and Sunset’s birthdays. The town is crawling with hikers. There is a really great group of people in our little bubble right now. We caught up with a lot of people we haven’t seen in a while.

The next day was spent wandering around town looking for supplies, eating, and relaxing. I sat around for a bit and made myself some new plugs for my ears out of the abundant Manzanita Bushes. Look out Spork is getting crafty! The entire town was so nice and genuinely caring. Everyone smiles and says hi. All of the stores are quickly willing to send you to the next store to make sure you get exactly what you need. There seemed to be no competition between stores. They all knew each other and wanted to make sure you were happy first. Mammoth is mainly a ski town but is busy in the summers with mountain bikers an hikers. I will be back Mammoth!

We headed out of town and spent the night at Red’s Meadow Campground. We all hung out by the fire and made a plan to get to Yosemite by Wednesday afternoon. I’ll throw another post up as long as there is service. Thanks for following everyone. The amount of support and interest is something that I think about every day!

Much love, Spork

New Pictures 6/18-6/24 (2012-06-27 16:16)

I received a SD card in the mail today. These pictures are in the Sierras from 6/18 to 6/24. I have uploaded them at full resolution. They are just too nice to downsize. There are some post card quality pictures in this batch. I have also included a short video. Ryan is taking quite a bit of video but he and Chimp plan on splicing them all together after they get done so I’m only putting up short clips. The video and pictures are in the right column. There are still 2 SD cards in the mail from before these. I’m hoping to get these soon.

I received a short call from Ryan this afternoon. He and Chimp were at the ranger station in Yosemite trying to get a Half Dome hiking pass for tomorrow. Yosemite Valley is not directly on the trail but they did not want to pass this close by and not get a chance to see the park. Spork and Chimp are both doing well.

6 Days, 162 Miles (2012-07-06 04:10)

We heard from Spork last evening. He and Chimp were headed into Reno, Nevada. In the past 6 days they have hikes 162 miles from Yosemite to South Lake Tahoe. South Lake Tahoe puts them right at 1,100 miles. In his words it has been a glorious week on the trail. They have moved from the granite peaks of the northern Sierras to lava and volcano mountains. They are still staying well about 5,000 ft. They spotted their first two bald Eagles and the trail magic has been overwhelming.

They spent the 4th on a mountain overlooking the Lake Tahoe basin and were able to see the fireworks from their high perch. As a result of a ride offer they have decided to take a down day in Reno and recharge. He has been without any phone service this past week and promises to catch up on his blog posts over the next two days. Listening to his stores it sounds like they continue to live the dream.

New Pictures and Videos (2012-07-07 11:38)

I finally received the SD cards from 6/8 thru 6/18. These have been hung in the mail for a while. There are over 400 pictures and 20 videos. I’ve picked out the best pictures and added them to the right column. I have also included two videos from Forrester Pass. These will be down the list since newer pictures have been posted since these were added.

The picture cover roughly from entering the Sierras through Mt Whitney and into Bodie, CA.

Trail Wars: Attack Of The Ka (2012-07-07 15:31)

We entered Yosemite National Park. Almost instantly these massive granite peaks started to look stranger, almost rounded. The waterfalls started to show up more frequently. It was beautiful country. With Yosemite and beauty came these little flying hell beasts called Mosquitos, or Ka in Japanese. I haven’t ever been bothered by the Mosquitos out east. Well these little monsters love anything with blood. The moment you step out of your tent in the morning until the moment you crawled in at night there was a good chance of an attack. It was the first time that I almost lost it on the trail! We made it through Yosemite and they seemed to calm down quite a bit.

While traveling through Yosemite, Chimp, Nino, and I went down to the Valley and climbed Half Dome. The hike was incredible. Just before the top we saw a 60 degree wall of granite with 2 cable handrails that you had to drag yourself up by. By far the most dangerous thing I have ever done and one of the most rewarding also. After 3 hitches out of the Valley we were back on the PCT headed for South Lake Tahoe.

BURGER! (2012-07-10 12:42)

Stopped off at Donner Pass for a burger and fries at Donner Ski Ranch. Hit the spot! We are in the middle of a 30 mile day to get into Sierra City by tomorrow night. We have been walking through tons of ski resorts the last couple days. Pretty scenery but the water issues are back. The 12 mile waterless stretch today is the biggest since we got into the Sierras. Time to hit it. Hope you are all having a lovely day!

New Pictures June 26 – July 12 (2012-07-15 09:33)

There were well over 300 pictures on the card I received Friday. These cover June 26 entering the Ansel dams Wilderness through July 12 just entering the Tahoe area. I was left a garbled voicemail on Wednesday but other than that we’ve not heard much for a week. They are hiking north of Tahoe in some isolated wilderness. In his voice mail he was able to say they were doing great, making good miles, he took his first real fall of the trip, and that everything was great. There are also two short videos from June 30 and July 10. All of the new pictures and videos have a link in the right column.

Half way! (2012-07-18 15:59)

Just got into Chester, CA. We celebrated by eating a half-gallon of ice cream. It took 13 minutes. I beat my record from the AT by 6 minutes. After that we decided to celebrate with an all you can eat pizza buffet. This morning we passed the half way point, 1,300 miles. We have entered the Cascade Mountains. No more Sierras! Tomorrow we will be hiking by Lassen which is an active volcano. I’m pretty pumped about it. Once we leave town there is a geyser about 5 miles down the trail. Not every day you get to say that. I am having a blast out here! Every day seems to be better than the last. This is all still totally foreign to me. Every turn is exciting. I need to do some catching up on my blogging but I haven’t had service even in town lately. One of these days soon I’ll get to it. I hope your all doing well!

Love, Spork

Split Pea Traveler (2012-07-20 10:38:37) Awesome! Lovin’ it!

Lassen Volcanic National Park and beyond. (2012-07-23 09:59)

Leaving Chester on a full belly, we headed toward the park. It was some pretty walking and relatively easy. The rocks slowing turned porous and black. We could see Lassen, an active volcano, was towering over the landscape. It still had plenty of snow on it. We ended up circling it and never really got that close to it, but we did get to see some volcanic activity. Terminal Geyser didn’t actually turn out to be a geyser but a steam vent. The water was boiling and it smelled like hard-boiled eggs. It made us hungry! After the geyser we walked by a sulphur pond that was steaming and surrounded by bubbling mud. The dirt was red, yellow and orange. Pretty darn cool.

Once we made it out of Lassen the walking was the nicest yet. It couldn’t have been smoother or flatter. This is logging country so the trees are spread out and pretty uniform. After passing through Old Station, CA we were headed into The Hat Creek Rim. It is a 30 mile waterless stretch through a burn zone and some very exposed terrain. The weather has been nice and not too hot until we walked into the rim. We hiked a 37 mile day including the first 20 miles of the rim then got up late and hiked through the heat to Burney, CA. I haven’t sweated that much since Southern California. It was brutal!

The highlight of the trek through the rim was the view of Mt. Shasta in the distance. It is over 14,000 feet and still covered in a good amount of snow. It is the only monster mountain in the area so it towers over everything around it. The realization that we are almost to Shasta was somewhat surreal. We are really making a dent in this trail. The second half of the AT really flew by so it’s important that we enjoy every second of every day. It’s not too tough to have fun out here due to the unknown and beautiful scenery. Life is good!

Mount Shasta on the Horizon (2012-07-26 12:25)

Received a short phone call and a couple of IPhone pictures from Spork around noon today. They were on their way into Shasta to pick up some drop packages of food and supplies. One picture is looking forward to Shasta the other looking back. He sounded good. He was in bad need of socks and some new clothes. Both are waiting for him in Shasta. He’s also due for shoes. He got around 700 miles out of the last pair. These will be sent to his next mail drop by his brother Brandon, is Tucson.

He said they hoped to be in Shasta in the next few hours in time for the Post Office and would not leave without a cheeseburger. They expect to be in Oregon within the next 5 days.

The Push to Oregon. (2012-07-28 08:58)

The last four days have been beautiful. We are truly getting into the Cascade Range. It is full of MONSTER pine trees, large granite and volcanic mountains, and delicious mountain water! I am having the time of my life. There’s no place I would rather be. My mind is consistently blown every day. We have had a mystical view of Mt. Shasta for days now. Let me tell ya folks, this is one good-looking mountain! There aren’t any mountains near as big as Shasta on the horizon. That makes Shasta seem even bigger. The people around Shasta have believed in gnomes for a very long time. This is no joke! Now we are on the lookout for Bigfoot and gnomes. Just one picture of either means I can truly retire. My camera is ready to rock at all times. We made it into the town of Mt. Shasta yesterday and we are headed out today. We need to get 160 miles in the next 7 days to make it to Seiad Valley by Saturday to pick up my new shoes. No big deal. We are strong and motivated. Look out Oregon. We’re coming with a full head of steam and legs of steel!

1,900 miles down (2012-08-14 04:35)

I added some new pictures from the first week in August. They have had very limited service and even less opportunity to resupply in the last few weeks. They quietly crossed the Oregon border last week and are currently just past Crater Lake, Oregon and right at 1,900 miles. In a short call from Ryan over the weekend he said the trail was relatively flat compared to northern California and they have been averaging 30 mile days. They expect to get through Oregon in roughly 3 weeks due to less elevation. Washington will be a much greater challenge. Spork promises a full update as soon as he can get service and a few hours off the trial.

New Pictures Oregon Border to Crater Lake (2012-08-17 04:35) 

I finally received the second SD card from Spork’s last mailing. Pictures are in the right column. I received a short crackly call from Spork yesterday. We have several issues ongoing. The first is a pass to enter Canada via the Pacific Crest trail. Since they are entering a foreign country via a crossing that does not have a port of entry special paperwork is required. The problem isn’t as much entering Canada as it is getting back into the US. The Canadian government has a special form and department to handle the paperwork but you are not able to apply any sooner than 90 days from entry. The difficult part of that is to make it to Canada takes a lot longer than 90 days. So, we’ve been sending drivers license and passports back and forth to get copies while still keeping him with proper identification. It has become very difficult to handle due to the complete lack of towns past Northern California. It looks like we may have it worked out as long as Canada processes paperwork fairly quickly.

Earlier this week they finally hit one of the forest fires all over the west this fall. They had been smelling smoke all day and it was getting thicker and thicker. One a ridge they ran into a group of fire jumpers who escorted them down off the mountain (luckily in the right direction). They closed the PCT behind them. Any hikers behind them were going to either have to wait it out or find a way around. A PCT through hiker takes walking every inch of the trial very seriously. They were luck they were able to get through this one. Their timing has been impeccable this trip. The trail has been closed at several locations due to wild fires, all behind them. They have one particular ace-in-the-hole with Oregon. As his name implies he’s from Oregon and he’s a professional fire jumper when he’s not hiking. Not a bad guy to have in the group. Oregon, Chimp and Spork have been hiking together since around mid-California and plan on finishing together. Spork promises some words of his own as soon as they are able to get service. It’s been very sketchy for the past 200-300 miles.

Matt (2012-08-21 21:43:12)

my wife and I met Spork and chimp along with a bunch of other hikers this past weekend 8/18 and 8/19. We were doing trail magic at Hwy242/McKenzie Pass. I drove Spork into sisters to get a package, and he and chimp came along for the ride to drop another hiker (iceman dan) off in Bend. Looking forward to following Spork’s progress!

2,000 miles (2012-08-22 08:15)

I had every intention of getting caught up on the blog yesterday but instead we had some serious games of pool basketball and we all passed out early. We’re in the middle of a long needed down day. Sorry but here are some pictures to buy me some more time. I hope everyone is doing well and I’ll get some more posts up as soon as possible!

Washington Border, Columbia River 8/30/12 (2012-08-29 11:53)

I’m sitting here on the Columbia River, which happens to be the Oregon and Washington border. It seems like I just got into Oregon. 20 days and 425 miles later here I sit. It started off with a stay at, Oregon’s grandparents, Nina and Jerome Lee’s house. These two folks are some of the nicest and most caring people in the world! We stayed with Oregon and them for 3 days. The generosity and kindness they showed us will never be forgotten. Thank you so much Nina and Jerome!

While in Ashland, Oregon, Chimp, and I took a side trip to the Redwoods and the Oregon coast. It was incredible. Those are some BIG trees. The Oregon coast is nothing like the beaches that I’m used to seeing. It’s full of rocky coves and huge boulders.

We left Ashland after 3 days off and headed towards Crater Lake. The trail in Southern Oregon was very similar to Northern California, hot and dry. Once we made it to Crater the hoards of people were a bit overwhelming but the lake made up for it. Crater lake is 1900 feet deep and 5 miles by 6 miles wide. One of my favorite lunch spots of the trip was up on the rim of the lake next to a couple of pine trees and away from all the people. After leaving Crater the heat cranked up a bit. Forest fires were trying to slow us down but we dodged the first two. The first fire we came to we actually got escorted through by a smoke jumper. It was wild! There were flames on both sides of us and ash covering the ground all around us. The second fire we got a chance to watch a helicopter fill his bucket from a lake to drop water on the fire that was a couple miles away. The third fire was a bit of a pain. The trail was closed and we had to take a detour that included a good bit of road walking.

A week or two ago we went into Eugene with 10 other hikers and stayed with Hallmark’s Uncle John and Aunt Laura. We spent two days eating, hanging out in a sweet tree house, and playing in the pool. Thank you John and Laura for the hospitality. Thank you Hallmark and Yankee Son for the invite. I had a blast! With Northern Oregon came the terrain and scenery that I had expected out of the whole state, big trees, smooth and padded trail, moss covered rocks, streams and green everywhere. This is where I wouldn’t be surprised to see gnomes, unicorns, and Sasquatch. It has this mystical feel to the whole forest that is tough to explain.

Now I am staring at Washington thinking that we are almost done. Where has the time gone. Then flashes of the desert, sierras, northern California, and now Oregon go through my mind. I just walked the length of the AT and there is still 507 miles left. I couldn’t be happier that the adventure is not over yet. A man told me the other day that ”nature is peace.” My mind is so clear and the world is so simple while in the woods. The challenge fades and a lifestyle is born. Yes it is still a challenge. This is what I do. It is what makes me happy.

New Pictures Mt Jefferson to Washington 8/22 – 8/28 (2012-09-03 12:20)

New pictures were added to the right column. Ryan called from the trail over the Holiday weekend. They are doing well, the trail is starting to get some elevation to it again. It’s difficult to place them on a map as there are much fewer towns to reference. They have had some difficulty with resupply and getting mail drops but they are managing to get food as the opportunity arises. They should be right at 2200 miles at this point with around 450 left. They expect to finish up in Canada right around the 3rd week of September. They expect to be at their next mail drop location by this Wednesday and will call in and provide some more detail. The connection he made this morning was short-lived and very crackly.

Pushing Through Northern Washington (2012-09-13 09:41)

Talked to Spork briefly today. He’s feeling good, liking the scenery, and putting down 30 mile days. He can smell Canada. At his current rate he expects to cross over into Canada around the 19th. He has one last drop box to pick up in Stehekan that has his last 3 days of food and paperwork to get into and out of Canada. He said the North Cascades are beautiful. It is starting to get cold and based upon what he hears the weather should hold out for the balance of the hike. He is going to try to upload a few pictures this afternoon if he gets any better reception moving into the next town. He is sending home a picture SD card this afternoon.

Split Pea Traveler (2012-09-14 15:29:51) Totally cool!

Pictures & Videos Sept 1-13 Washington Border to Ranier (2012-09-15 12:05)

I received a new SD card in the mail this morning. In the right column is a tab with 150 new pictures and above that one is a tab with 3 videos. These cover entering Washington until just after Mt Ranier.

2,663 miles, 142 days (2012-09-20 09:34

Based upon his GPS ping last night Spork was at the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail ends 10 miles into Canada at a small monument in a nondescript piece of Canadian forest. For the past 5 days he has been completely without cellular service. Only his GPS locator is getting a signal.

Ryan started the trail on April 30, 2012. He ended his journey on October 19, 2012. He has hikes 2,663 miles in 142 days. He has averaged 18.75 miles per day. In the past 17 months he has hiked 4,844 miles on the PCT and Appalachian Trail.

We hope to hear from him in the next day or two. He should be working his way back toward Seattle where he will make arrangements to return to Cincinnati.

There are still lots of pictures coming to add to the site and without question some words from the wanderer. Congratulations, Spork!

Split Pea Traveler (2012-09-22 11:32:05) Congratulations!!

 

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