Day 47 – Hive planking on the Muir Pass

Camping next to a river is sometimes a good idea, last night was the other part. By the time I left the fire micro environment, condensation had soaked my sleeping bag. So I set up my tent in the dark and crawled into it to escape the wet. Awoke to ice crystals.

Pass job

Pass job


The objective today ambitious. Cross Mather Pass, descend the golden staircase, cross the everlasting Muir Pass, fly down the other side and camp at Wanda Lake. We almost made it, but as always that really wasn’t the point.
Pass back side

Pass back side


Myself, and the ice crystals waited for the warmth of the sun to make its way down the valley wall. Thus the start was late at around 830. Climbed, and quickly arrived in a mammoth amphitheater above the tree line. From my low point a spin showed my eyes mountains in every direction. I kept my attention alert as yesterday Red Beard had seen a wolf at about this same altitude.
Trail shower

Trail shower

The path up to Mather pass was well laid out and not a grind at all. From the High Point the Valleyview north was a showstopper. Sheer grey walls poured cascades of spilled milk down to the pined carpets that floored the valley bottom. This water in turn filled lakes that would overflow by waterfall to the next lower brother lake. I spent much of the day following along listening to their music. The race of water downhill always beating me. Even when we parachuted down the golden staircase the water was speedier in descent.
Slide rock

Slide rock


At The bottom of the valley of the Palisades I took a dogleg right for the valley of the Kings. Now I was moving uphill against the current of water, altitude and my own limitations. The pass lived up to its reputation as a hard-hard pass to reach. Again and again what appeared to be the pass was just a trick played on your certainty. I climbed out of forest, and into stunted trees, then shrubs, to grasslands and finally just rock and snow. Each successive bowl holding yet another lake and the promise of more climbing ahead. It felt like a ladder that might not have a destination.
Bridge dancing

Bridge dancing


Slack hive planking at Muir pass

Slack hive planking at Muir pass


The muir hut at end of day

The muir hut at end of day


The day grew late and the stomach empty. Finally, climbing over a snowbank at 7 p.m., I spotted a hive-shaped pile of rocks that spoke of man-made. This was the John Muir hut built in 1930 by the Sierra Club. It resembled the charcoal kilns of death Valley. The hives insulating qualities proved to charismatic and the night was passed listening to the wind.
Day 47 06-18-13_Sunset_Muir_Hut 600px

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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Day 46 – Postcard passes guarded by marmots

Started the morning by watching the drip rings formed by trout feeding on mosquitoes. Gorge yourselves, I thought. Left as UB was trying to help out the mozzys with his fly fishing pole.

Took one last look at the now named Glenn pass. Often described as one of the scariest passes on the PCT, it was merely a long up and down hike. The reason being the lack of snow this year, estimated at 40% of normal. Though there were some snow patches, on the descent, they weren’t challenging. Water levels, for purposes of fording streams, are conversely lower. I hope the mosquito population follows suit.

PCT north

PCT north


Assume for the purposes of today’s hike that everywhere I looked I saw beauty, that all the scenery was stunning and spectacular and that basically I made my way through a postcard. It was just one of those days. Adjectives fall short. 360° gorgeous. Initially it can be overwhelming. Then you get used to it. Then you take it for granted because it is without contrast. To avoid this final stage I would take my shoes off at every break and look at my toes to remind myself of ugly and provide needed contrast.
Valley descent

Valley descent

Marmot as trail guardian

Marmot as trail guardian


The trail fell and Rose, Valley to pass, as is the pattern of the Sierras. Each step of descent a loan that must be paid in full on the corresponding ascent. You can avoid the thought but one always knows its truth.
Sweethearts

Sweethearts


Passed two days hikers coming in the opposite direction. They were both wearing full bug head nets, mine which is in my bounce box. Seeing them in nets is a bad coming attraction. Like seeing cars coming in the opposing lane with their windshield wipers going and you in a convertible without a top. On the subject of day hikers, they smell funny, kind of artificial with their deodorants sprays and perfumes. It’s offputting. Thru hikers, on the other hand, smell natural and of the forest. It’s quite neutral and unobtrusive. At least that’s my take.
Fun climb potential

Fun climb potential


The pass of the day was Pinchot at 12,050 feet. I called it La Pinchita because her curves were soft. Ended the day in a valley next to a canyon stream on La Pinchitas backside. Took an ice bath, then chased the bone cold away over the fire. Pancakes, conversation and a ukulele wrapped up the efforts of the day.

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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Day 45 – Father’s Day in the bush

Retracing my steps back up the Kearsarge Pass with a loaded pack forced my eyes downward. The beauty was still there, but observed only at rest breaks. On the downside of the pass, said my farewell to Kearsarge and rejoined the flow of the PCT.

Right away I came upon Litehouse, a hiker from Scotland, who was resting by the side of the trail. He was suffering from a wicked looking infection on the back of his knee. My guess was a spider bite of some kind. He was on his way to Bishop to track down a doctor. I gave him some antibiotic cream and wished him speed. Out here we are all our own ambulance.

Lakeside property, Rae Lakes

Lakeside property, Rae Lakes


Climbed yet another pass which I didn’t even learn the name of because I was lost in the misery of pack weight. But from the top I could gaze down on the three holes of azul that were collectively known as Rae Lakes. The original plan was to take a full day of rest on their shores. But plans fall apart as is their nature. So from noon on we called the lakes home.
Team pancake effort and patience

Team pancake effort and patience


The first order of business was starting to turn the 5 pounds of materials hauled into pancakes. That accomplished and cooks exhausted before bellies were full it was naptime. At one point I woke up in time to see a first in my life. Slack was sleep eating. Lying in the sand, under the direct sun, he was softly snoring. At the same time his hand was flopping around near a bag of M and M’s. When the hand would eventually track down one it would drag across his face and drop it in his mouth. A lazy chew would ensue. The hand would then rest for a few minutes and then the process would start over. The snoring never stopped. Wonders never cease. I fell back asleep before I could warn of the dangers of choking.
Father's Day in the bush

Father’s Day in the bush


Awoke to a stack of pancakes, margarita in a bottle and a Father’s Day card. Red beard, slack and orbit knew that being away from my daughter on this day had been tough on me. As good friends, they did what they could which meant the world. I was emotional in appreciation.

A fire capped the day. UB and mock mock showed up for a Whitney reunion. And then Messenger, an Israeli, stumbled in from the dark to complete the party. Messenger came into his name because he hiked most of the PCT southbound last year. He would constantly relay messages From northbound hikers to their friends behind them. Thus the moniker.

Good conversation, warmth and trail gossip rounded out the Rae lake’s experience. Happy Father’s Day to all who do it.

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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Day 44 Missing my daughter

Hikers and smartphones slept in, exhausted by their efforts to catch up with the non-PCT world. The day started, and the TV came on. The incredible pace and speed of information delivery stunned me a bit. I guess moving along at 3 mph tends to slow all the senses down. I gave up on the box and focused on my cheesecake breakfast. Then it was out to the pool to write. There a young guy taught me ” if it’s for free, it’s for me, and I’ll take three.” One has to keep their ears open.

Orbit versus cheesecake in Bishop

Orbit versus cheesecake in Bishop

The morning slipped out the back door as the afternoon came through the front. Motel 6 wanted their room back so we moved our base of operations over to the Vons picnic grounds. I dropped $125 on seven days of food and the four of us spent the next four hours in front of Vons gorging and packing food for the hike to Mammoth. My hats off to the graciousness of our Von’s hosts.

The packs worthy of a benchpress, and procrastination exhausted, we walked to the edge of town and stuck out our thumbs. It took three rides to reach the trailhead. Tina first, who recalled us with her own hitchhiking stories. Then a mom and son duo headed out to clean out a local casino and finally Tom and his wife who had hiked the PCT in 1985. In that year there were 20 other hikers on the trail. Their tent alone weighed nine pounds, which is more than Orbit’s entire pack. This year one son is on the PCT, the other on the CDT- Continental Divide Trail, doomed to repeat the sins of their parents. And, of course, in this very small, big world we have mutual friends in Flagstaff, Arizona.

The lateness of our arrival at the trailhead made our hike back up Kearsarge Pass short-lived. We camped under, around and on a large boulder balanced on the edge of a lake. I drifted off savoring my father’s day conversation with my daughter. She told me of the wonder of her life and the PCT PowerPoint presentation she had delivered to her class. I miss her so.

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Day 43 Icy swim in high mountain lake

Rose to the beckoning call of civilization. Answered because the bear vault was down to its last cliff bar.(between roughly mile 750 and 1000 Bear proof canisters are mandatory.) Everyone recognizes the necessity, everyone despises their weight and awkwardness. Thus the plan was to leave the PCT, climb over the reputedly lovely Kearsarge Pass to a trailhead and then hitch into Lonepine for resupply. And if the stars aligned a dentist.

Was a tad anxious about my new footwear as the hike started. The night before I had lost my footing in a stream and one shoe went into the drink. I cook dried the shoe next to the fire and accomplished both. As my attention wandered my insole cushioning melted. It’s aromatic bubbling finally alerted orbit. At least they are lighter now.

The pass met all of its advanced PR and even surpassed it. At the High Point one looked down on a slide of a valley that didn’t level out until the desert floor thousands of feet below. Great gray granite spires splotched with snow provided the edging. A series of navajo shaded lakes connected by cascading streams formed the floor. And groves of Pines gave it all texture. No amount of willpower could prevent a summer swim.

A lake at Kearsarge

A lake at Kearsarge


Summer swim in ice water

Summer swim in ice water


Did I describe it right?

Did I describe it right?


After 4 miles of descent we arrived at the trailhead. Warm root beer left by a trail angel was the cherry on top of the Kearsarge Pass. The wait was short for a ride. Wayne, a fire instructor, crammed us into the back of his pop up, Cabover camper and took us all the way to Bishop, where a dentist eagerly awaited my business.
Coming down Kearsage Pass

Coming down Kearsage Pass


The Motel 6 was incredibly hip, along the lines of a Soho apartment. The calories consumed voluminous and rich. My mouth returned to full Chomper status. Gear supply stores galore. A bakery named Schats. And Rustys, a bar full of pool, pinball, margaritas and dancers searching for the rhythm, any rhythm of 80s rock. All overlaid by the incantations of a local rodeo and it’s excited announcer. What more could you ask a town? Kisses Bishop

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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Day 42 – Green Vietnamese with view of Whitney

June 13, 2013
25 miles
Mile 784

Day 42 coming up forester pass 600px

Sleep never arrived, but my little radio helped me pass the hours. First it was Christian radio and their grievances with the devil. Then a pointed critique by Noam Chomsky on the murder of Osama Bin Laden. And lots of average pop music. Finally the BBC with their dispassionate analysis of everything. Which is where I was at 4 AM when the door busted open and Pac Man announced, while standing on Red Beard, “The Pac Man is here and he is cold. Move over.” Followed by, “It stinks in here. I mean it really stinks in here.” I was too tired to explain to him that his head was in the methane cloud and that all he had to do was sit down. One by one climbers came in from the dark, drained by the cold. The night was over though the clock didn’t know it.

I waited in the methane infused warmth, and then rushed outside at the last minute, for the sunrise. Found a hole to slide down into so that the wind could only beat on my head. Exchanged Good-Mornings with the sun and took one last look around before escaping down hill. But first I paused to affectionately pat the walls of our shelter. Though climbers had been killed inside it by lightening strikes, I felt a deep affection for its efforts on my behalf.

Doing my best Allah Akbar

Doing my best Allah Akbar

Looking down from Whitney

Looking down from Whitney


Submerged quickly to another world of sunny meadows and streams of honey. Reorganized, and took off for Forester Pass some twelve miles away. Forest Pass, at 13,200 feet, is the highest point on the actually PCT. Like all passes, its long slow work, a view, and quick fast fun. The real challenge of Forester though was psychological. Its V-shaped snow chute visible from many miles off, the question “I have to go there?” had plenty of time to deteriorate resolve. Which was already in short supply due to sleeplessness. As always though, stubbornness carried the day and the pass.
Night curtain going down

Night curtain going down

Sun coming up on Whitney

Sun coming up on Whitney

RB pointing to useless ice axe.

UB pointing to useless ice axe.

Whitney escape

Whitney escape

Blast coming up Forester Pass

Blast coming up Forester Pass

Though the backside trail was blocked by snow at several points, our descent into Kings Canyon was rapid. Arrived on flat ground spent and hungry. Dinner was a mysterious and vile green Vietnamese rice. Since I eat to reduce pack weight I choked it down, but I don’t recommended it, even to deserving enemies. Lights out at eight.

Green Vietnamese

Green Vietnamese

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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Day 41 – Breathtaking beauty, angry wind and marmots

June 12, 2013
15 miles today

Going up Whitney

Going up Whitney

Shelter at the top of Mt. Whitney

Shelter at the top of Mt. Whitney

SLaCK, Orbit and Red on top of Whitney

SLaCK, Orbit and Red on top of Whitney

Lake of the mountains

Lake of the mountains

Meadowstream

Meadowstream

Mount Whitney's bowl

Mount Whitney’s bowl

SLaCK ascending Whitney

SLaCK ascending Whitney

Plans evolve as information arrives. A simple comment changed everything, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The plan itself was to have a very leisurely morning, then hike eight miles to the base of Mt. Whitney, at 14500 ft, the highest mountain in the continental U.S. We would then store most of our gear in the meadow at the base, climb up five miles to just above Guitar Lake and camp. Early the next morning we could climb the remaining four miles to the summit in time for the sunrise. Plans like promises.

Breakfast was slow and communal. Red Beard had carried in pancake mix. Slack mixed up peanut butter from some dehydrated mix he had found in a hiker box. Lunch box tossed in olive oil. I figured out a way to turn my pot lid into a frying pan that would fit over my stove. And Orbit told everyone she believed in them. And that is how we passed the long morning, mesmerized and salivating as Red lovingly cooked up 30 sand dollar sized hotcakes. His method entrancing. After one side was cooked he would slide a small spoon under the cake and move it few inches off the pan. There he would wait, the cake balanced precariously, until the Zen moment hit him to flip. His accuracy rate hitting the tiny pan was a staggering 87%. Completely worthy of one of those knucklehead cooking shows.

The plan started according to itself. Moved along rock strewn paths through the kingdom of the marmot. A beaver like animal that is always fascinated by the rock around the corner. Arrived at the base meadow in the afternoon with visions of a sun soak, food and nap followed by a casual stroll to Guitar Lake. However, a PCT hiker walked into the vision. He mentioned that he had been on top of Whitney that morning and that a small hut in the summit was unlocked. Gears shifted. If we hustled, we could climb 4000 ft in time to see the summit, sleep in the hut, catch the sunrise, the make our way to Forrester Pass. Being the oldest in the jump I did not abuse caution. We were off by 3:00.

The photos will explain the scenery to you in ways that I cannot. Again and again I stumbled off path because my eyes would not stay down. The 7.6 miles to the summit never allowed for the next step to be lower than the previous but the pack was light, so all was good. Eventually the trail arrived at the edge line which was interspersed within Nepal like rock bridges that fell away sheerly to ones right and left. Then through some snow and a final clamor to the high point. Can one ever tire of hiking down on the rest of geography?

The sunset was still locked in future, but the cold wasn’t, so I headed for the hut. There to greet me, were Mok Mix and UB, two PCT hikers with the same plan as us. The hat was on 8’x8’ closet. UB said he was sure I would fit. I smiled as I said “And the three other behind me?” UB smiled back. All would be fine. It was 6:30 PM.

We crowded in. Various mathematical formulas were proposed to solve the sleeping puzzle, none of which appeared promising. Dinner formed and the hut being to warm. Feeling returned to the extremities, but so did my old high altitude nemesis nausea. Thus, what little I could get down was self force-fed. Sunset commenced and I gave it the respect it deserved, but the minute the green flash didn’t appear I fled the stabbing cold back to our oasis. Conversation dominated the dim light and the highlight was UB’s story. A condensed repeat.

UB heard of the PCT while living in San Francisco. He decided he could knock if off in 90 days. He trained hard at the gym and started the trail at 6’3” and 195 lbs. His first step took place on April 17. To complete the trail in 90 days would require 90 consecutive 30 miles days without a break. Challenge the PCT to a duel and she will shoot back. UB started fast and light putting up big miles. He lived on gel packs. The one night a mountain lion circled him during a night hike. In the ensuing standoff a cactus tore up one leg and recluse spider bit the other leg, which translated into a one-week hospital stay. Back on the trail he pushed hard to make up the miles. By the end of the first month he was down to 165 lbs and his body reeked of ammonia. A sure sign he had begun to consume himself. Rest and fattening sloe him. But still be pushed. Then he blew out his knee on a fast downhill. Another medical visit to be fitted for a knee brace.

The low point came, as it always must in a comeback story, on the descent into Walker Pass. A misplaced step, a fly in the eye, who knows? But UB broke. He hurled his hiking poles off a cliff, then his stove. He went to the dirt and rallied against the injustice of the trail. Tears exhausted, he sat up. What exactly does one do alone in the middle of nothing after beating the earth? No words of sympathy, ho helping hand. You get up and move on. And that is what UB did, but with a new destination, San Fran over Canada. As UB looped into Yogi’s Trail magic kitchen Walker’s Pass he figure his PCT sojourn was over. But the trail had warmed up to UB and gave a little love. “How about an ice cream sandwich?” were the finest words he heard under the blue roof. With that simple question, Ub returned the trail in spirit. Then he met Mok Mok, an Australian woman who counseled patience. UB began to see the trail as an experience rather than a race to Canada. Realizing he had taken as many zeros as hiking days to date, he changed his approach to savor over speed. When I met him on Whitney he couldn’t stop laughing at himself. I love guts.

We lay down in a contortionist jigsaw and attempted to summit sleep. For me it was not to be as nausea had brought along its high altitude had brought along its high altitude buddy insomnia. Still I was smug in my warmth, as the cold grew ever angrier at the intrusion of our shelter.

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

If you’d like to help out and donate, please click here!

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Day 40 – Doc’s MIA and I’m talking to my backpack

June 11, 2013
20 miles today
Mile 761

Sierra Scene

Sierra Scene

Woke up warm and danced a prone jig. The plan hatched, delivered on to higher altitudes. Slithered out of my shelter and found a rock in the sun with just the right meadow view and wrote down the events of yesterday. Slack accused me of being a modern day Thoreau. If only. Wrote my two pages and slipped them into a Ziploc, along with the last nine days. AT&T is not fanatical about blanketing the PCT with cell phone coverage. Without which I can’t scan the pages and send them off to Cirina who types and posts them. Maybe from the top of Mt. Whitney, though an unfortunate wind would render memories lost.

Fell into the automatic rhythm of the morning-breakdown, oatmeal and pack and walk. Left a note for Doc. MIA as to future plans. What could have happened to him? He was leaving Kennedy Meadows right behind me. Maybe he had patients to attend to. Always the mysteries.

Fallen tree with swirls

Fallen tree with swirls


The trail passed through miles of a landscape of granite sand interspersed with boulders and bizarre pines, seeking purchase in the sand. Their root patterns so shallow that a good shove would seem to tip them. Their weathered color beyond my words, but within reach of a great painter. I was fascinated by the fallen pines with their twisted core nude to the world. I stopped repeatedly to stare at the tree ruins, no two ever alike. Lost in my inner world, it took awhile to register the snowballs whizzing past my head. Orbit, Slack and Red Beard had waited in ambush. Their aim questionable, their arms more so. I was uninjured.
Stone triangle captured by dragon

Stone triangle captured by dragon

Arrived at an alpine lake for a long relax on the grass banks, followed by a dive into the freezing water. No rush as the day’s miles were not long. Met Lunch Box, a dentist to be, who would later catch us a trout for dinner. Off again, and quite clean from the dip.

Lunch Box of Nashville Tennessee, PCT hiker with fish slayer

Lunch Box of Nashville Tennessee, PCT hiker with fish slayer

My pack singing and talking as I went. When heavily laden, a pack makes noises that sound amazingly human. Constantly I search for who called out only to realize I am alone. Conversely and perversely when someone actually does call out, I ignore them because they are my backpack.
Tollgate

Tollgate


Came across a stream that was thickly bedded with wild onions. Dinner perked up. Pulled into yet another meadow camp from a dentist’s office poster. You know the ones that inspire calm before the torture. The thought of dentists bringing to mind the tooth that is yet again in my pocket. The talk around the fire that night was of an ambitious plan for climbing Mt. Whitney and Forester Pass on the same day. To the night.
My eyes

My eyes

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Day 39 – Ice in my water bottle & fighter jets overhead

June 10, 2013
25 miles today
Mile 741

Meadow of my coldness

Meadow of my coldness


The change is startling in its immediacy. The air is clearer, vision crisper, and all about is vivid. Julie Andrews comes to mind. Within, things change too. Just like when you return to a family reunion and find yourself falling into old roles, a return to the desert brings out my inner-kid, jokes, stories and all around goofiness. But the mountains are different. They instill a calm contentment that permeates my interactions. Perhaps I am even more adult like, though I resist even writing that.

Awoke, not true. Got up from a sleepless night only when the sun blessed my head. I had cowboy camped in a valley meadow at 8,600 ft. The bitterly cold air had hung low all night. Now it was in my bones as I drank from my water bottle clinking with ice. I whined to my compatriots who had all slept warmly. They, who had all grown up cold, smiled at the turning of the tables on the desert kid. I needed a plan, which in the end consisted of three steps to sleeping contentment. One, wear all the clothes I own to bed. Two, set up my tent every night to trap warm air. Three, figure out my sleeping quilt. Red and I looked it over. Turns out I’ve been sleeping with it upside down. Cue chuckle. Also discovered lots of bells and whistles on it that should provide more warmth. Optimism returneth.

Picture a seismograph in a big earthquake. That’s what an elevation gain and loss chart looks like in the High Sierras. Now strap on a heavily laden pack and you understand the day. The newfound adult calm is fortuitous; else there would be temper tantrums. So why do it? If you could trade eyes with me you would trade places too. In a heartbeat.

Headed down the trail I was lost, lost, lost in my thoughts. I glanced to my left and six feet away was Orbit lost her own thoughts. Problem was she was headed in exactly the opposite direction. It startled me tremendously. Where the hell is she going? Wait a minute, where the hell am I going? What’s going on? Turned out to be just a particularly tight switchback. The whole day was like that. Thoughts to awe, as the miles rolled past. Future courses of action, that had been drowning in murkiness, finally emerged from the muck. I now know what had to be done. Back to the awe.

Turtle shell flowers

Turtle shell flowers

Land-based water lilies

Land-based water lilies

Climbed to 10,600 feet and looked down at the drained and much abused Owens Valley where L.A. is a vulgar world. Our vantage point was a sheer drop that Slack dreamed of BASE-jumping from. I just remembered youthful urges. Later we summited a minor little peak and were rewarded with a wobbly, rocking boulder the size of a VW bug. Slack got on and I tried to rock him off the mountain. He was disappointed with my failure.

Owens River Valley

Owens River Valley


All day I experienced the fear the Taliban must endure. Over 25 sorties of fighter jets zipped directly overhead. Some of the flybys were 200 feet off ground. They sizzled the mountain and our senses, as we ducked repeatedly. I counted the bombs on their wings to pass the time. The hot-dogging was wild as I watched them doing barrel rolls through tight mountain passes. The training purpose was obvious. Those mountains were cousins to the ranges of Afghanistan. Hope they all come back.

A six-mile descent, that did an excellent imitation of 12 miles, brought us to a meadow with stream.

Arrived at 7 PM and declared home. The test of sleep ever-looming.

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

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Day 38 – Scorpions-0, Hikers-1 and a swimming hole

June 9, 2013
14 miles today
Mile 716

Kennedy Meadows is a fly-catcher, sticky tape kind of place. Some hikers had been there for over a week. With only 200 residents, services were limited, but what was there was directed at hikers and extending their stay. All you can eat options abounded. Having an open tab at the General Store allowed purchasing on impulse without pain. A large deck encouraged loafing. And, finally, packs engorged with heavy bear vaults and multiple days of food discouraged a return to the trail. Lethargy crept.

Awoke on a patch of dirt behind the General Store, knocked a large scorpion out of my shoe (they seem to have an affinity for me) and completed my morning adulations. Went down to the deck to wait for the sun and all you can eat pancakes. The crowd, a mix of locals and hikers was large and the wait long. By the time I had finished my pancakes it was time for a hamburger lunch and a beer. Time was abusive and our departure began its failure. Around two we rallied, closed our painful tabs and made a run for it. Four of us made it out. Doc, who was right behind me, got sucked back into the vortex and has not been seen since.

Welcome to the high Sierras

Welcome to the high Sierras


Climbed to a swimming hole for a last dip before a 2,000 ft ascent into the Sierras. While everyone was in swimming I hid two perfume strips in Orbit’s pack that I had torn from a Vanity Fair. Being completely opposed to all convention it was a cruel trick to play on her. The smell of the unwashed does not offend, but the stench of perfume turns her stomach. Her laughs of disgust when she finally discovered both strips rang through the mountain air.

Self-discovery is part of the trail. As I hiked a sudden flash of insight stopped me dead in my tracks. I backed up two steps and looked down and saw what my shoeprints looked like for the first time. Nice to recognize something that had been following me for over a month.

And then there it was. Over a rise, and a gigantic, majestic meadow reached up and grabbed all my senses at once. A door closed on the desert and opened on the mountains.

Big Sky

Big Sky


We were in the High Sierras at last.

Steve Halteman
On the Pacific Crest Trail
Hiking the PCT for the Kids of Escuela Verde

If you’d like to help out and donate, please click here!

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