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Rcluster - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2009

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Ron & Julie "Snowplow & Rubber Legs" Cluster
City: Eugene
State: OR
Country: USA
Begins: Apr 12, 2009
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Tue, Jun 9th, 2009
Start: Lake Isabella Motel
End: Owens Saddle - 7055 ft
Daily Distance: 9.6
Trip Distance: 454.6
Hours Hiked: 4.8
Daily Ascent: 2677
Daily Descent: 1092
Min Elevation: 5031
Max Elevation: 7296
Entry Lat: 35.72732
Entry Lng: -118.00324
Min Temp: 58
Max Temp: 78
People Met: 12

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 571
Journal Visits: 94,711
Guestbook Views: 34,232
Guestbook Entrys: 123

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Pacific Crest Trail Map

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North from Walker Pass

Today is full of mixed feelings. We are looking forward to continuing our journey, yet we will likely be heading into some severe weather. We will also be out of communication for a while during the time Julie's dad is recovering from surgery. It is difficult to decide whether to stay another day or go ahead and get on with the hike. We don't feel that staying in town one more day will accomplish anything so we decide to get going.

We meet Rockstar at 8:00am to try hitching a ride to Walker Pass. The plan is to try hitching in Lake Isabella for about an hour and then, if we don't have any luck, catch the regional bus to Onyx and try hitching from there. Lots of cars going by but no one stops. Just about the time we are going to start walking over to the bus stop, a full size crew cab pickup with a canopy pulls up behind us in the parking lot. The side window is down so I walk up and ask if they are going up to Walker Pass. Brad, the driver says they were thinking of driving us up there. They need to run by the house first and will be right back. I tell him thanks and that we would appreciate that very much. In about 10 minutes Brad and his 22yr old son are back. We load the packs in the back, the three of us climb into the back seat and we're off. We have a nice visit with them on the drive up to the pass and they drop us off at the Walker Pass campground where we left the trail last Saturday.

It is sunny and 78 degrees when we start hiking at 10:15am. We parallel the highway for about a half mile and then cross it. We have completed section F of the PCT. The next couple of miles climb steeply, eventually resorting to a series of short, steep switchbacks to get to the top of the ridge. As we are slowly making our way up the switchbacks, we feel a raindrop, then another and then more. We packed our raincoats in an outside pocket on our packs so we stop, take the packs off, and get our raincoats on. By the time we have finished getting the raincoats on it is raining hard and has large hail mixed in. Which can only mean, KABOOM!, yep...thunderstorms. Now we have a discussion about whether to continue climbing, stay put for a while or retreat back down the trail. We are not up on the top of the ridge and there are many nearby peaks that are higher than we are. The map shows the trail staying down along the side of the ridge. FLASH! 1 one thousand, 2 one thousand, 3 one thousand, 4 one thousand, 5 one KABLAM! CRASH! BOOM! Rumble rumble rumble. Hmm...less than a mile away. I don't like this much. I can't tell which direction the storm is moving. Another flash, count it off, and this one was about a mile and a half away. Ok, looks like it crossed the trail in front of us. We continue the half mile or so to the top of the switchbacks where we find Rockstar having a snack. We discuss the rain and the storm. None of us like it much but the weather is supposed to be improving starting tomorrow. The rain begins to slack off so she heads on up the trail while Julie and I stop and get something to eat. We take a short break and then get moving again because we are getting cold. Our pants are soaked but they will dry quickly.

The rain stops and we start to warm up as we continue up the trail. After a couple of miles of fairly level trail, we begin climbing again and we are presented with some nice views to the east. We can see a small town, probably Ridgecrest, as well as some irrigated fields which look like bright green circles in a field of brown. The storms are beginning to break up and we see some occasional patches of blue sky. We are having a rough time right now. Our knees, hips and shoulders are all really sore and we are barely making forward progress. We question whether we have the stamina to make it through the Sierra. We actually discuss whether we should turn around, hike back to Walker Pass and be done. We decide to keep going but it was a close decision. My blisters are feeling ok, but I am getting some knee pain that I haven't had in a long time. Julie and I both are having shoulder pain also. We take some ibuprofen and try to remind ourselves that this is what the first day back on the trail is supposed to feel like.

We decide that we do not want to camp near Joshua Tree Spring because we have been told there is a bear in the area that is not afraid of humans. Apparently it has caused problems for hikers in the past. We stop at Owens Saddle about 3 miles before the spring. We have plenty of water for tonight and will stop there tomorrow to fill up.

Owens Saddle is a little over 7000 ft and is a notch between two high ridges. The terrain drops away quickly to the west and east. This makes it a natural funnel for the wind so we are worried that our tent may have a rough time if it gets too windy. I have the full set of tie down lines staked out, 14 pegs and lines total. Should be ok. A little later, 2 girls hiking together show up and set up camp a little ways from us. It's always nice to have company.

We are both exhausted, after only 9 miles. Hope tomorrow is better.

Animal sitings: lizards, scorpion

Sounds of Freedom: Heard a few but no sitings. Too many clouds.

Entry 67 of 118
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Journal Photo

Ron & Julie On The PCT - 2009

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more:


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