Mt. Laguna - Mexico

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Mt. Laguna - Mexico

While all through hikes offer different experiences, my South Bound experience was much different than a typical North Bound Hike. Most of the trail was very isolated, with very few who attempt this route in the first place. (90% of thru-hikers attempt to head northbound)

My isolated southbound experience had more opportunity for solitude and reflection! Ironically, on our final days we caught up with 5 other South Bounders:

Witty and fitting trail names were given:

Chopstakes & Shenanigan’s, Cheshire Cat & Bonus Miles, Tiger & Mantis (who I was already hiking with)

Late in the afternoon we all rallied at a campsite. We found out that there were cabins available at the Camp Ground at Lake Morena. Our last stop... Our last night on the trail!!

The crew also found out that I was into outdoor adventure racing and triathlons. There was no way we would make it to the campground office before close by hiking, so they voted that I run ahead to see if we could make it before the park closed!

A minor detail- the park office closed at 5:30pm. It was dark by about 4:45pm and I had about 7+ miles to run!

I gave it all I had, running across dried river beds, sandy sections and up a rocky mountain.   My head lamp was dead, so I was running purely on adrenaline and a faint moonlight that strained through the overcast misty sky! The cold rain was coming down! I came to a turn and met a paved road. I glanced at my watch... 5:28pm! At this point I turned up the speed to my only gear remaining and sprinted into the park!

I arriving with a big smile! I tried to enter the office, it was locked! (Gutted, my head dropped...) Then I saw some movement in the back, so I pounded on the door! A man cautiously opened the door to a panting bearded creature who was drenched from sweat and rain!

I told him my story...

He paused, then smiled, ‘Were closed, but how can I not give you a Cabin now!' I was handed a key and he pointed me through the dark in the direction of our shelter. After a blind night search, I eventually found the cabin and cranked on the little fireplace.

Leaving a note at the park entrance for the others, I proceeded to run into a tiny store in a nearby village that was closing shortly... I ordered a few extra large pizzas and a few choice beverages! By the time I arrived back, somehow every hiker miraculously made it to this little remote cabin...

We packed that little cabin, drying out and sharing food, laughter and many stories!

 

 

 

The final day,

November 10, 2015

 

A few of us hiked together for awhile, but this was really a solo journey...

It felt right... To disperse... To hike the final stretch alone...

To reflect on our individual trips...

 

As we approached the border the rain disappeared, the blue skies returned and you could see the monument in the distance... Five distinct worn pillars stood proudly on top of that large sandy hill. They overlook Mexico to the south and the final mountain ranges of Southern California to the north

I arrived first out of our newly formed entourage to the Mexican Border!                                      As each one of us came to the monument we all waited and cheered loudly for each other until the final hiker had reached the monument hours later!

Three of us had packed and hiked the final 20 miles with a bottle of champagne each.        After some mad shaking... We fired off the champagne in celebration!!

We sat around, laughing & sharing stories of our unique once in a life time trip until the sun set!!

It was a perfect afternoon!

A perfect finish to my hike!



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Idyllwild - Mt. Laguna

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Idyllwild - Mt. Laguna

Its about 1:00am and I am currently in my tent enduring a wind storm.
Since i wont be sleeping, I thought what better time to write in my journal:

This section was rather interesting!
The landscape slowly changes again to dry granite rock, with more earthy tones of rustic reds, oranges and sandy hues..

I love generous people & people with a sense of humour!

Randomly, in the middle of the desert (the middle of nowhere) I hike past the back of someones ranch. You notice a surfboard stuck into the sand. It's at the 145.37 mile mark. There's also a table with two chairs and a homemade bookshelf full of books.
On the front glass window there's a sticker that reads:

Books you don't need,
In a place you can't find!

They also have a small water cache as there's a lack of water through the desert as you could imagine.

 

In the following days we come across some exotic creatures,

When nature takes its course..
We head off trail dig a hole, relieve ourselves, fill in the hole and carry-on..

Leaving no trace!

My current travel companion pulled off to the side and while digging his hole came across this giant scorpion which he accidentally severed, as it was in the sand.

I was waiting up ahead, filtering water from a tank and having a snack when he appeared.
He wanted to play a prank on the couple behind us...

So I suggested we place the scorpion (dead) on the shut off valve to the water source. :)
And propped him up in a defensive attack-pose.

20151108_102109.jpg

We got a couple squeals out of it!!!

 

On my travels, I have seen an incredible amount of animals and creatures of all sizes.
Yet one remained unseen,
They often say that if you see it.. It's too late!

I was night hiking and starting to descend down a dry, rocky rugged mountain in the dark night.. the batteries in my head lamp were dying..

As I turned the large rocky corner, my failing headlamp met two eyes right in front of me!    This time they weren't green! (which are usually deer)

I knew exactly what it was...

The elusive beast...

Sure enough when I shone my light lower, I could make out his claws dug into the dry soil, crouched, in a stalking position, moving towards me. Then he stopped and stood up...

I shined my failing beam away briefly... to see how he'd respond... then shined my beam back again...
And when I did.. The muscular predator was in a stalking pose now even closer, advancing towards me..

I quickly turned to give my lagging buddy a heads up what was in front of me.

At this point, with all my animal interactions. I know that animals especially predators senses are far more receptive than humans. They sense fear, dominance (and lack of) in their competition and their potential prey.

My rationale was:
If I turn back or show weakness, he's going to attack and leap on me.                                        If I'm going to have a show down with a cougar on the side of a cliff in the dark, either we are going to war, or its getting out of my way! 

(Plus, I'm pretty determined to get to the Mexican Border at this point!!)

I pull out my knife and march right at the Mountain Lion...

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Big Bear - Idyllwild: Mt. San Jacinto

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Big Bear - Idyllwild: Mt. San Jacinto

In Big Bear, I met up with a fellow south bounder and oddly enough began hiking with a young man named Isaac.

We hike long hard days..
But seem to be taking long water & food breaks at scenic locations.
Trying to soak up the time we have left.

Of all the animals and creatures I've ran into..
This was one of the most detailed and coolest creatures.
I saw this horny toad scoot across the trail,
So I gently picked him up to examine a little closer..

 

We are now aware that the Mexican Border is within reach..                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mother nature though, wants to let us know it's not over yet!

Because we have about 200 miles left, I have been trying to make my 4th pair of shoes last.
However, the sides blew out and I have been hiking for a couple days now with a 5" hole from the side of my foot all the way to my big toe. I am hoping they'll make it to Idyllwild were I have my 5th pair awaiting me.
They just have to make it over one more mountain- the largest in the area!

As we approach the base of Mt. San Jacinto you are at about 1,300ft of altitude.
In a single day we climb up to about 10,000ft.

Hiking upwards, the temperature begins to drop quickly. At about 7000ft the trees are covered in a layer of ice.

At this point the night is coming, so we put on another layer and turn on our headlamps.

Soon the whole trail is covered with a thick layer of ice!
At first we are laughing and joking around.
Then we become very quiet and serious as we realize how bad it is becoming.

(Remember- we're on top of a mountain on a tiny trail that for the most part is slanted and going uphill or downhill)

At times we are on all fours..

I am cautiously walking when the slanted trail takes me...
I slide uncontrollably 25-30 ft right off the trail and fall about 10ft down where I land hard!
Somehow I grab a bush and hook my leg on on a rock before sliding off a cliff..

This is by far the slowest hiking I've done on trail..

We slowly make our way over the peak and down to lower elevation.
At this point it is getting late and we are way behind schedule.

We pick up the pace and blaze down the back side of the mountain.
Somehow during the dark, we missed our turn off trail to Idyllwild.
We decide that we've gone too far to turn back, so we continue to hike further down an alternate trail until we come to a small campground near our road.

I approach an elderly man whom is setting up his tent in the snow.
We ended up helping him with his tent, which resulted in a ride down to Idyllwild where we could resupply.

 

So much for the desert!

 

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Wrightwood - Big Bear

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Wrightwood - Big Bear

The next section is very hot and dry but offers some great views of an unexpected lake reservoir. I even come across some natural hot springs!

 

This section gives me some time to think..
At a trail registry I write:

Less than 450 miles to go!
What does that mean to you?

Think about who you were when you started this hike.. and think about who you've become..

Remember all the great times, the wildlife and the landscapes we've encountered.
The hard times and the obstacles we've overcome.

Think about were you'll be when your done.

Now cherish the rest of your trip!!
Every last step...

-Ike
SOBO 2015
 

Recently I've thought a lot about being out here..
The aspects I like the most:

The Truth:

Life on the trail is beautiful & harsh at the same time..
I live for glowing sunrises and sunsets,
Mother nature gives me her best and her worst.

I live through the hot sun, through the cold snowy nights,
The warm summers breeze and the vicious wind storms.

I've spent a week without real sunlight and weeks with nothing but blaring sun,

I've been through snow storms & ice storms,
Wind storms & lightning storms,

But one thing is certain,

Mother nature is real,
It's powerful,
It's beautiful,

And I endure it all,

Life on the trail is simple,
I have very few possessions,
Yet, I am the happiest and content I've been..

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Tehachapi - Wrightwood

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Tehachapi - Wrightwood

Coming out of Tehachapi (the massive mudslide area)
I met up with three Oklahoman's whom I hiked with for about 1.5 days.

Leaving the highway trail-head we could not find the trail..
We hiked up a steep winding gully for about two hours before reconnecting with the actual trail. This gully was washed out with left over debris- bushes, tree limbs and rocks.

As I moved on further the landscape and weather changes becoming flatter, dryer and hotter.
At times I would hike for a day without seeing a single tree or finding any shade.

For days on end, I hike alone through wind farms, desert, and back into the mountains.

Next, I reach a section which possesses the poodle-dog bush, which can hospitalize you with poison oak like symptoms..

The bush flourishes after fires, especially in the burnt sections.
Luckily, I met a caretaker high up at a ranger station who was closing down the building for the year and he showed me what it looked like. 

I hiked through a section that was closed due to a fire and this poodle-dog bush. 
And it was everywhere! 

I am trying to complete the trail as purely as I can. So I pulled out my dance moves and maneuver through some thick trail covered sections of the closure.

Just before dark, I approach the trail-head and see an old pick-up truck leaving.

I let out a whistle and run down.
I jump in the back of a pick-up and we zip down into Wrightwood.
He drops me off at the grocery store.

While I am in the store the girls are really friendly and introduce me to Jeff a retired school principal who ends up putting me up for the night.

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Goodbye Sierra's...Hello Desert

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Goodbye Sierra's...Hello Desert

 Image Source: Imgur

Image Source: Imgur

After the John Muir trail and summiting Mt. Whitney, the trail tests you mentally and physically once again..

Through the High Sierra's it's the law to carry a bear canister for your food. This eliminates the scent of food to the predators.. It weighs about 2.7 lbs and you look forward to dropping it off once through this area.

I sold my bear canister and due to dry areas without water the weight is immediately replaced with extra water reserves at times carrying two days worth of water resulting in a very heavy pack!

The people disappear on the trail, the the views while still beautiful are somewhat dull in comparison. The landscape slowly transitions to mountainous desert.

Isolation once again...

Then, this happens, as I approach Lake Isabella and further south to Tehachapi area the weather turns and mass amounts of rain storm in. Last minute I see a warning come in:
(In bold red lettering highlighted in yellow)

10/15/15 : Torrential rains and flash foods in the Tehachapi, CA area & Lake Elizabeth, CA
10/14/15 have washed out portions of the PCT and the roads in that area.

Hitching into Tehachapi or Mojave on Hwy 58 could be problematic as the highway is closed between SR202 (just west of Tehachapi) and SR14 (Mojave, CA area) due
to a monster mudslide that put Hwy 58 under 4 ft of mud. 

The PCT crosses Hwy 58 right between these roads so you will have to walk quite a ways to get to Tehachapi or Mojave. There is no expected date for the reopening of Hwy 58. 
Mudslides have also affected Elizabeth Lake Road 

I arrived at highway 58 to a monster landslide that closed the entire interstate right in front of me...

The trail was washed out and mud everywhere! 
Over 160 cars were washed away with this landslide!!

There were massive excavators and convoys of large haulage trucks removing water and mud..

The trail was completely covered and I had no choice but to walk through a mass clean up of excavators and dump trucks along the windy highway towards Tehachapi, CA.

Some one called the cops on me. When the officer showed up, he was very angry and verbal and about to arrest me. He even frisked me for weapons etc.

In the end.. (once he let me speak) he was so interested in what I was doing. He drove me 10 miles into town, dropped me off, shook my hand and donated to the charity/mission! :)

Thanks officer!

- Ike

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John Muir Trail Pt. 2

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John Muir Trail Pt. 2

We carried on up over a couple passes..

This is were things got real, Gnarly!

The snow had covered the entire valley leaving the trail underneath a thick white blanket. For the most part we had no idea where the trail was! For almost 10-12 miles we guessed were the trail and the pass was.

Trekking in snow regularly up to the knee and occasionally hip deep.

There were some very real moments that hit you.. hard..making you realize how vulnerable you are, how remote and isolated we actually are.

You stay focused and strong mentally, you don't allow the negative thoughts or consequences creep in and take over. You just push through the pain, the wet freezing feet, the onset of frost-bite and keep moving!

After about a week of hiking..our food packs are dwindling and it's time to resupply. Due to being late in the season all the resupply locations are shut down for the year.

We decide to get out at Kearsarge Pass
A one way: 
-8 mile hike out of the way through the snow -then about a 50 mile hitch hike into Bishop *Then repeated all the way back just to get to the trail we left from..

We were very fortunate and had some great rides with awesome people.

Next we made our way up over Forrester Pass on route to climb Mount Whitney.

I am so fortunate to be able to share this experience with my brother Les!

Miss Bell & Powers + a grade two class has been following my journey. 
Along with hand written notes, the studentsmade me a wristband:
Which I put on and wore all the way up to the Summit of Mount Whitney. 
The highest peak in the continental USA at 14,494ft. 

I haven't taken it off since!!

Thanks,

Ike

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John Muir Trail Pt. 1

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John Muir Trail Pt. 1

Much has come together to make this next leg happen..

I have hiked pretty much 30+miles a day for a month straight without a days rest.
My brother taking a couple weeks vacation with some shift changes and last minute flights..

We are about to connect to hike the John Muir Trail/PCT section together.
Approximately 210 mile trail through the High Sierra's starting October 1st.

I cannot imagine what was going through his mind the first couple days we met??

I have not seen him in about 5 months:

  • Since then I have lost about 10lbs. 
  • My hair is longer, I have a beard and smile more often.
  • Essentially, I look like a wilder, mountainous, more rugged version of Forest Gump.

Day 1 Together:

As we hike from about 8600 ft upwards we notice the weather changing,
The snow is starting to accumulate with every step...

We approach a lake, and notice about 5 or 6 tents set up before the final climb over Donahue pass (our first above 11,000ft)

 
 

It is getting later in the day and I want to make it over and down to a little lower elevation before dark.

As we hike to the final ascent..
We notice about 5 or 6 foot prints in the snow fade to one!
We follow them until they stop!
The foot prints turn around and head back in the opposite direction..

I let out a laugh, look at Les and march on up over the pass in 6" of fresh snow

Just the beginning...

We hear warning of the first winter storm coming in the near future...

Over the next couple days we experience every kind of weather:
We wake up to frigid blizzards and have beautiful sunny days in Valleys at lower elevation.

One thing is certain,
The passes are becoming higher and the snow deeper..

A little over half way mark, we are cold and chilled, our feet wet for days now. 
The snow is getting deeper, the wind is picking up and the temperatures is dropping way below freezing.

I make the call to ascend to Muir Pass were we can seek shelter in the emergency John Muir stone hut (11,975ft)

As we approach Wanda Lake we are blessed with an incredibly lit sky that puts on a draw dropping show for Les, an American and myself. 

Once the skies performance has come to an end and darkness has followed..

We break out our head lamps and make our final climb towards the stone hut..

The trail is over blown with snow,
With about 1 mile to go...I just aim towards what I think is the hut and trudge on up through rock and snow leading the way.

As I look back out over the dark valley there are two more headlamps that approach..

I open the hut and greet Les and finally our American companion with smiles and high fives! The hut is an ice box, yet we are excited to have shelter and be out of the wind...

In the morning we are greeted to sunny, clear, crisp skies!

The adventure will continue...

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The Beginning of the Sierras

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The Beginning of the Sierras

The last two sections despite the animal encounters have mentally been tougher! 
I have to admit. 

Whenever I go through these tougher times, I always recognize the thought, acknowledge it and replace it with something more positive or empowering.

In these times, I will start with gratitude and think of everything I am thankful for.
I will think about how fortunate I am to see this incredible landscape and all the adventures that have come my way. 
How thankful I am for my family, my parents and my awesome brothers. 
How thankful I am for the wonderful people in my life.              
For my health, my body and my physical endurance. 

This mind shift is so powerful and totally changes my mood, my outlook and my energy!
 

As I cross the Sierra County the landscape begins to change. I notice the the mountain peaks begin to reveal their white granite sides. Lakes are peppered throughout the rock which are very appealing to the eye..

I get excited at the thought of the High Sierra's which is in the near future (some of the best scenery in North America)

Sierra City (actually a tiny village)

I arrive in the village around lunch time, first stop is a chicken breast sandwich. Next, I immediately head down the street to the country store to tackle the "gut buster' 1lb legendary burger.
I finish this undertaking, pick up food rations and pack up to hit the trail. I look up and notice thick smoke and fire coming from behind the store. I run in and tell the owner to call the Fire Department and run for the nearest garden hose. We pull a number of them from near by houses connecting various lengths to reach the fire.
During the process, I noticed some boxes and began moving them away from water and smoke to salvage them. Shortly a few of the communities civilians are joining in with the work. (It's awesome to see how quickly small communities come together in a time of need or crisis.)
 
It turns out the owner of the store had boxed up hundreds of books and was about to donate them to the local library.
After about 2 hrs of fire and salvage, I had a shower in the public washroom to remove the smoke smell and returned to the store for one quick meal before I headed back on the trail.

As I ordered my food. The lady asked if I wanted an old fashioned milkshake. I politely said no thanks. She looked at me and said, "I think you should have a milkshake with your burger" 
(I looked at her with a smile and questionable look)...

She then replied, "Larry (the owner) said what every you want is free.. so what kind of milkshake do you want with your extra large grilled chicken breast sandwich?" 
  

Back on trail:

I see a sign marked: Entering Desolation Wilderness - this was one of the favourite areas I have been through to date!

I will let the pictures explain....

- Ike 

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Half Way!

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Half Way!

Today was a big day, a long hard day..

The country side is changing. It is becoming more rugged, dry and isolated. I have ran into more bears than people in the past week (7 bears). For a day or so we wind through high up, remote ranch land. The only things I see are empty shot gun shells and mountain lion prints in the dirt. Some the size of a humans hand. I can tell that they have been stalking a hiker just ahead of me..

I wind my way through this rugged rim trail, hiking at a fast pace. I avoid small rocks and roots with each step to save the ankles. If there is larger ones I will just step on them to keep stride. As I was winding my way up the trail, I took a step, out of the corner of my eye, I look at were my foot is landing. Somehow I put the air brakes on and stop with my right foot suspending about 4" above a 3.5 - 4' rattlesnake. I pause for a moment... take a deep breath... and slowly rewind my step...

A couple days ago we had temperatures dropping at nights well below zero, with heavy frost and some snow. This took a couple people right off the mountain. 

Every day since has been getting increasingly hotter. This morning for the first time on the trip I woke up with a headache. Likely to do with the heat and dehydration. Day time temperatures have been well over 100'F. First thing in the morning I tried to hydrate as much as possible, though with the conditions and steady climbing, my body continually sweated it out.

Water was plentiful in the early morning with many streams, creeks and springs to choose from. Then things shifted without any real notice. Within 2 days we had back to back 26 & 35 mile stretches without water. The trail rose above the tree line and I was completely exposed the entire day. Five water sources were completely dried up...

I stopped at a side trail that lead to an off trail source and found a note:

"Dry stagnant Pond - Save your precious steps"

A decision had to be made:

At this point, I could not swallow! My mouth was so dry if I attempted to my throat would painfully crack and not close. I looked at my watch, my empty water reserves and my maps. I was so dehydrated that if I slept, I felt this would have serious negative consequences on my body.

I pushed throughout the dark night until I finally came across a landmark, a faint grown over old dirt road that lead down and away from the trail. I followed it until I heard that welcoming sound.

Running water!  It was a small spring almost in a tiny cave.. It was cold and refreshing to the touch.. I drank 2.5 litres beside the spring..

- Ike   

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California Here We Come

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California Here We Come

In the past couple days I have not seen a sole on the trail.

I became aware of how few people are now on the trail and how isolated this 600-700 miles will be until I arrive closer to Yosemite - a mecca for climbing and hiking.

I have also noticed the terrain becoming more difficult than Oregon and much higher elevation changes.

I made a decision to bump up my mileage and try to make up some ground with this isolation. I have been hiking consistently over 30 miles a day now, and Yesterday, I woke up around 4:45am and was hiking by 5:20am. 
I pushed through and logged about 36+ miles in more challenging terrain. 
I had a slip and bashed my leg/ankle up pretty bad.
I have been in extreme pain for days now.

At one point I was hurting so much I had to stop and lie down.
For about 1.5 hrs I did not know how I could carry on like this.
During that time, I was so hungry that I started eating and noticed my food pack diminishing. 
I picked my ass up (I had no other choice) and limped about 70 miles into my next stop..
Putting my leg in cold streams every chance I had to reduce the swelling.

Perhaps I have been pushing it a little too hard..

On another note:
 

I ducked into a very small village of Seid Valley. I picked up some supplies for a couple days. One nice addition was spicy barbecue tuna packs! :)
I had hiked the day and had been dreaming about this newly discovered entrée I had.
I quickly pulled over at about 5:00pm and tried out my new dinner.

I got up threw my pack on and resumed hiking.  
I turned a corner a started heading up a single track trail, with a sharp cliff drop off of a few thousand feet to one side. 
The other side was a steep incline.

As I looked up.. I noticed a big bear barreling my way! I quickly thought..Camera or knife?

I realized how big, how close, and how fast he was charging towards me..

I quickly unsheathed my knife and clenched it with all my grip.. and let out a loud holler!!
It didn't phase him...

Now within a few yards of me..
I power squated, bracing myself for a collision!
Then, I remembered my hiker poles and smacked them together as hard as I could over my head while hollering!

Last second.. he veared to the right and up the steep slope! 
Close call...

I guess he wanted to join me for dinner! Try out my spicy BBQ tuna. It was pretty darn good!

The truth is:

I like having a knife, when I bare it..there's a sense of basic, prehistoric survival, I feel a powerful feeling rush over me, to defend, to protect...

I feel Alive!

- Ike

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Oregon/California

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Oregon/California

DSC_0092.JPG

Today I crossed the border of Oregon into California.

Within a mile of the sign I was greeted by a rambling herd of 20-30 elk.

Crossing into California, I was filled with mixed emotions..
Mostly great!

It felt like another big milestone completed which pumped me up.
It also humbled me as to know the size and terrain of California yet to come.

Looking back on Oregon:

  • Generocity.
  • Fast.
  • Flat.
  • Fires!

Two acts of 'trail magic' occurred:

#1. A very nice couple Gary & Tabitha picked me up Hitch-hiking. 
On route they decided to duck into there home. They offered for me to use there shower (which I desperately needed!!) When I came out, they had cooked a pizza and made a salad for me. They then proceeded to drop me off at my destination!
 

#2. I met 3 retired school teachers that gave me a ride into Bend, OR. 
They took me to REI and then the grocery store. Then drove me all the way back to the trail.
Due to the size of Bend, I wanted to ship a box ahead to an isolated pick up location a couple hundred miles ahead. 

One of them stated that she would ship it for me. I was a little reluctant as it was my food rations for days. Though it would save me time and money, plus you learn to trust your instincts.

About a week+ down the trail I came to this tiny pick up location. There was currently a major drought, causing the lake to dry up and close down everything in the area. I tracked down a girl that helped run the place. They were missing my package! She hopped in her truck and drives off.

About 15 minutes later she returns, hops out with a box under her arm.

When I open it. There's something different...

There's a hand written card, on the front is written:

Ike - 
ps. Box wasn't quite full. 
I live near Trader Joe's (health food / bulk store) so added a few more things. 
Sorry if making pack too heavy- you can eat or share!!  


Inside is three hand written messages and a personal gift!

Thank you Grace, Al & Sharon!


For the past week, I have been hiking through haze, smoke filled skies from the Crater Lake fire.

We squeaked through the fires in Washington before they shut down massive sections and now had to do some minor detours around the Crater Lake fire.

I back tracked- back up towards to closed North Entrance and was able to hike the entire Rim Trail South into Mazama. Many people were skipping this section all together because of the fire & closed access north of Crater Lake, thus missing some smokey yet tremendous views..

- Ike

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Oregon - Trailside

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Oregon - Trailside

The first part of Oregon was great!

I came to Eagle Creek an area where water flows down a gorge which consists of a calaboration of water falls and inviting swimming holes.. 

I spent a couple hours here swimming, cliff diving and taking pictures..
Up ahead is a waterfall that you can walk behind.

As I moved on up the trail, I set my camera down for a brief moment. Out of nowhere two hikers came around the corner.

I looked down and all I saw was my eye cup..

(deep breath)

I look down the gorge and I see what might resemble a lens cap..

I venture down to the cap and make out what appears to be a camera near the bottom.

I scale down just about killing myself in the process.

My camera display and lens are smashed.. But managed to salvage the pictures.

This absolutely gutted me! I had a beauty, light weight mirrorless 24.3 mega pixel camera at about $1200 that lasted me 3 weeks.

At this point..
The adrenaline kicks in and rather than get mad with anyone, I release my frustration in the form of physical exertion.

I hike on with 3 consecutive days well over 30 miles each day..

I arrive at a pass beat up, tired, dirty, dusty and starving!

I get a hitch into a town called Sisters.
I walk in and pick up a few groceries for lunch etc.
While up at the till the cashier asks about my travels..
She tells me the total (around $30)
As I pull out my money..

A gentleman quickly hands her the balance and picks up my grocery bill.

It turns out that a girl hiker was helicopteredoff the trail and ended up staying with Rick and his wife for a couple weeks while she healed up.
He had a real positive experience with this hiker that he wanted to pay it forward to me..
Thanks Rick!

From Sisters I hitch-hiked into Bend.
I went to a Trader Joe's to resupply with food and while I was in there. A lady walks up to me, smiles and says 'you look like a weary thru-hiker.. can I give you a ride back to Sisters'

I thanked her.. but mentioned that I needed to finish up and then had to make my way over to the camera store..

She said:

'No problem, I'll drive you..I will be outside in the Grey Mercedes-Benz'


She proceeded to drive me back to Sisters, show me the post office, and drop me off at the campground. This is the kind of generosity I was speaking of in my last blog..
It lifts your spirits!

Thank you Sisters and the generous people who reside there! You have no idea how much these acts of kindness mean to thru-hikers!

The past two days were spent hiking through black volcanic lava rock with fabulous views of the Sisters, Mt Jefferson and Mt Hood extending North.

There are forest fires near Crater Lake.
It will be interesting to find out what lies ahead. ..

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A Day in the Life...

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A Day in the Life...

Everyone has a different philosophy,  different speed, different nutritional needs, and different ways their body responds to the terrain.

I have tried a few different approaches and this is were I am at currently.

I usually wake up around 5:30am
Pack up my tent and belongings. 
I usually have homemade granola/oats with a few goodies for flavour and energy.

Unless I am somewhere amazing..
I try to be hiking by 7:00am
Usually, I hike for about 13hrs straight
minus a couple stops for food and to filter water.

I like to camp near a water source for a couple reasons:

a) Scenery: Yesterday I was up before anyone on the lake. I was filtering my own water just as the sun was coming up..
Two Does and their young fawns came out for a drink.. I was leaned up against a tree and just sat back and admired them..

b) Hydration: You are usually dehydrated by the end of the day. I need water for both dinner and breakfast. This way I can also have a small reserve to carry on in the morning.

I will look at my maps and try to make a basic plan as to were I will hike to find the best water source that can fuel me to the next. Carrying enough water to the next source without stopping too frequently or carrying too much weight.

The only issue can be if a water source is bad or seasonal stream or creeks marked on the map have dried up. So far the water sources have been abundant.. The longest stretches maybe 15-20 miles.

I will snack on throughout the day..
Trail mix, bars and peanut butter wraps etc.

I now try to eat an early dinner
Which usually consists of a protein and a carb. Protein usually being a pack of tuna/salmon or sardines along with a dehydrated pasta or potato. Luxury would be a quinoa or couscous mix.

The goal is to get the most amount of calories while maintaining the least amount of weight and preparation.
This often results in very dull, boring food..
My body craves fruit and protein which don't travel well.

Usually by the time you come to a trail head your food pack is empty!

 

-Ike

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Washington State: Canadian Border to Oregon

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Washington State: Canadian Border to Oregon

 

Today I crossed the bridge of God's into Cascade Locks, Oregon completing the 514 mile State in approximately 3 weeks and over 550 miles total.

Tomorrow is a mark of firsts..
A new state and a new set of shoes!

 

Washington State:

The Animals

Most animals are seen directly on the trail. Usually I startle them and occasionally the startle me. Which is in close proximity.

I have seen a dozen deer, 1 steelhead salmon, 1 black bear, 63 mountain goats, 3 snakes and four separate sightings totalling about 14+ Elk:

  • A doe and two fawn
  • A couple bucks 
  • A single buck 
  • Group of 8-9 Elk

I startled the the bucks that were right in front of me, they crashed through the forest and across the trail stopping me in my tracks..
Any closer and I would have been trampled.

 

The Trail

The trail plays with you physically and emotionally. It is challenging..

The part that I am working on is balance because I left later in the season. About 2 weeks after most South bounders(from what I am told) 
I feel a little pressure as though I have to make up some ground. That I need to be through the Sierra's by the end of September. To avoid usually/potential snowfall that could make the trail unsurpassable. This also means more miles, longer days and harder on the body. I am also carrying a heavier pack than most as I have electronics necessary to document this trip.

On the other hand, I am travelling through some spectacular scenery and want to take it in, be present and enjoy my surroundings.

I have seen in some people almost an obsession with miles, speed and light weight technical gear.
Head phones in, eyes to the dirt and away they go - missing much of the reason they are out here.

I must admit I have had moments where I've been focused on speed and mileage and had a number of days over 30 miles (~ 50 km). I have also caught myself, and slowed down at a beautiful lake, and dove into the refreshing mountain lakes and rivers. Taken moments to observe wildlife, the fascinating views or even have a conversation with passing hikers. 
 

The People

Thus far, I have met some incredible people. Out here there is no status. There's no sports cars or flashy possessions.

We are humbled by are few necessities. Really just food, water and some basic form of shelter. And with this, I have bared witness to some of the most kind and generous souls in a long time. There is a generally sense of respect amongst us.

The northern trail is much more remote. There were days when I wouldn't see anyone. The more south I go this shifts, one because the trail is more accessible to higher populated areas and secondly I am starting to see some Northbound hikers coming through from the South who left back in March/April from Mexico. Many whom had injuries or skipped sections.

There is a growing culture and respect for hikers in the local communities and villages. We "thru-hikers" especially are treated with a generous presence. Hitch-hiking usually works out well into towns and at certain re-supply areas I have been given fresh cherries, nectarines and even pizza and BBQ chicken from a local fisherman.

This generosity of something so small or simple makes your day! After being in the bush or forest or mountains for days. These simple acts of kindness restore your faith in humanity & lift your spirits after a long tough day or week on the trail.

Tonight I stopped into a local micro brewery and ordered a beer. The lady tender looked at me and said

"This one's one the house"

This was kinda like a pay it forward gift from visitors who would buy a beer for a future thru-hiker they didn't even know. She pointed to a jar and that had tokens on them. 

On the back was written:

'You are AMAZING. And stronger than you think....'

 

- Ike

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White Pass, Washington

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White Pass, Washington

Last night I arrived into Whites Pass, WA.

Recharged my phone & camera over a late afternoon meal. I resupplied with food and fuel and decided to head right back out on the trail at about 6:30pm

I pushed it close to dark and could not get a campsite, so I continued on up to high elevation where there was one site that was very exposed. 
I didn't like the spot but had no choice...            
I finished setting up in the dark as overcast clouds quickly rolled in and just about blew me off the mountain.  
With the rattling of the tent, I was lucky if I got 1 hr of sleep...

I headed off bright and early in the morning. As the mist slowly vanished from the peaks it revealed a welcoming warm and vibrant sun.

The views were incredible up around goat rocks..

On my way out late afternoon I stopped at a picturesque waterfall/creek around 5:00pm for some water.
In the middle of the creek/waterfall was a massive boulder.
I climbed across and upon it, where I set up my backpack like a recliner. 
I fired up my tiny stove, cooked dinner and enjoyed a hot tea as I overlooked this endless valley view ahead.

I was enjoying the view from my throne so much that it took me 20 minutes to realize that over my right shoulder.. I was accompanied by 63 furry white mountain goats..

Quite the view!

 

White Pass, WA. 

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Humble Beginnings

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Humble Beginnings

I arrived in Seattle had a few supplies and gear to finalize. I took about 12 buses from Seattle and to my final bus last one to Concrete, WA 

 

From here, I hitch-hiked to Mazama had lunch and then hitchhiked up an old single lane logging road up the side of mountains.
Then I started on foot 35+ miles back into Canada to officially start the adventure.

In a little over a week I ran into a forest fire, ran out of food & ran out of water and had to melt snow to drink.
Thus far I have experienced a remarkable and humbling Washington.

The first 4 days were stunningly sunny and hot. 
Next a freak cold/wet front came through at high elevation that left us absolutely drenched and chilled for 4-5 days. 
The final day we had enough, we woke up shortly after 4:00am and hiked 24miles into a small town of Skykomish. 
We crashed in a backpackers garage, dried out our clothes & gear. We resupplied and will resume first thing tomorrow morning.

I am quickly reminded of two of simple life lessons nature offers.

1. The power and beauty of nature
2. The fact that we can't control everything, though we can control our reaction to it

Every day I am hiking for the most part 20+ miles with a couple over 30 miles. 
Close to a marathon a day with a 35lb pack up and down mountains.

Initially it takes a toll on your feet, your knees and joints.. My feet are beat up, swollen and blistered and my shoes already don't fit.

With this cold relentless rain, it makes you want to stay in your tent, or leave and go to the comfort of your own bed.
We don't have that luxury out here. 
If we stay in the tent, we will run out of food, and you can't get out because we are 70 miles into a 107 mile section hike.
This makes you suck it up lace up your soggy shoes and persevere. 
Pushing you physically & mentally.. Especially through difficult times.
This is the kinda life lessons that transfer over into everyday life, relationships and hard times.

It also shows us how powerful mother nature is and just how small we are.

I walked through giant hemlock forests where thousands of trees were knocked down.
Some of them well over 600 yrs old.

In the midst of this miserable, chillingly wet weather you can still find beauty.
We come off a mountain and wind our way through a forest.. the path is lit up by emerald green moss, the creeks glisten with their surrounding fauna that comes alive in this weather..

We can choose what we focus on...

Happy Trails

- Ike

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Lindsay native Isaac Selby tackling Pacific Crest Trail next week in hike for Hope Grows Haiti

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Lindsay native Isaac Selby tackling Pacific Crest Trail next week in hike for Hope Grows Haiti

A Lindsay native is packing his bag for a fundraising mission that will take him more than 4,000 kilometres on foot to complete.

Isaac Selby, 32, is setting out for Seattle on Wednesday, where he'll make his way to the starting point of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Selby is undertaking the four-month journey to raise funds for Hope Grows, a local charitable organization working in Grande Goave, one of Haiti's most impoverished areas.

Read the full Peterborough Examiner story >>

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