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City: Elk Grove
Country: United States
Begins: Apr 5, 2009
Date: Sun, Feb 1st, 2009
Start: Elk Grove, CA
End: Elk Grove, CA
Daily Distance: 0
Entry Visits: 3,129
Journal Visits: 33,523
Guestbook Views: 1,067
Guestbook Entrys: 20
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My first hikes as a 6-year-old were wonderful experiences among the frogs and snakes, the turtles and crayfish, the poison ivy and mosquitoes. I would literally drag my army-surplus pup tent to a clear spot in the big trees near the creek at my family’s home in Virginia. A sandwich was dinner. The stars were my night-light. And I was always home by breakfast. Honestly, the first song I ever learned was “The Bear Went over the Mountain.” So it is no exaggeration to say that I truly have a passion for hiking.
It’s nearly spring, now and it seems like just yesterday that I started dreaming / planning about the PCT. Actually it was October – that is, October 2007. I had things to do so I spent a year planning which grew into 15 months quite rapidly. Like I said, I was busy. Coincidentally, along about the same time as my planning started, my wallet ruptured and began hemorrhaging cash whenever I walked into outdoor gear stores. Lucky REI.
Part of the planning was to get a large chunk of the non-hiking activities out of the way in 2008 so that I would have plenty of extra time to fritter away in the final months before embarking. Luckily, the PCTA Trail Fest was held here in Sacramento and so I was able to scam a ton of wisdom from the crew making presentations as well as to see new and expensive hiking-booty that called to me from the vendor tables.
Knowing this, the organizers of ADZPCTKO sent me an invitation to attend. Well, it was on the internet and the pct-l board, but I knew that it meant “me”. And lo, there were plenty of wise guys there. There were old hands, grizzled-faces, even some leather-skinned carcasses passing out trail information – for free. I was in heaven. Free stuff! A bandana. A stik-pik. Oh yes. There were vendors. They were good and I wasn’t. (Curse you blind-auctioneers!)
So I started my journal last October 31st. Actually, I thought about starting a journal then. Historical note (sounds better than a meteorological note, doesn’t it?), Halloween was the first day of rain since the previous May 31st and I was just too excited to sit and write. Caught by the early-evening downpour, trick-or-treaters lost out on the tons of really way too sweet candy I had here. The true reality of a thru-hike set in the next day when my bear canister (my FBC) – the huge blue baby - arrived followed by my new pair of Crocs. (I was slightly curious if other men wore these.)
Brain to body: you need to get busier. There’s no time for journaling today. One day later and there is chain control over the passes to Tahoe. Whoo – hoo! Yeah, great. Two weeks after that and my left knee is being re-engineered for the nth time. The medicos are on my side and want to get me onto the trail before I need a walker. (I had explained the “no wheeled-vehicle” policy to them.)
Dates. Dates. When to start; when to finish. I had to approach this logically. Can’t be too soon for snow. Must be earlier than drought conditions. Need to submit taxes. Since I’m not superstitious, consulting the stars was out. I mean, let’s be real here. Being a man of letters (and numbers) I went for the scientific approach – numerology. My research revealed that I had to leave in April (that’s when the lease was up) and the year ended in 09. The calculator clearly displayed that nine minus four equals five, so the only logical date to start was the 5th of April, 2009. Thanks to science, that part was easy.
When do I finish? Science was no help. I had to figure out how to do the “slinky walk”: start slow, go fast, go faster, untangle it from your fingers, and move on. My diligent planning techniques and time-wasting strategies (cribbed from the PCTA and postholer sites) have me wringing out my socks in Manning Park on the 16th of September – just in time for my birthday.
In the spirit of skipping ahead, I may celebrate my b’day early and hoist a cold hopped-beverage now, just to see how it might feel in September. Mmmm. Feels good. (I cannot overemphasize the benefit of planning and training on every aspect – even liquid nourishment. The key is simple muscle-memory through routine practice.)
So how busy is busy? I spent the summer hiking around Tahoe, thinking about getting in shape for the PCT. It always sounded like a good idea and I gave it no argument, at least while I was on the trail alone. My real downfall in planning is my start and stop hiking routine. Start hiking, stop and take picture, turn, look for new aspect, walk more, repeat. One does build up the miles this way. I built up more than 600 that way, but I never did make it around the lake. Go figure.
All that hiking also gave me the time to think about all of those photos and what it is I do with them. The answer is simple; I share them with the people who weren’t there to see what I could see. I showed the pictures to everyone who could see them which made me think a bit about the people who couldn’t see the pictures. How could I share what I saw with them? I can blah blah blah but I can’t adequately describe the beautiful and awesome vistas that I could see to those who couldn’t.
The daughter of one of my friends in Great Britain is losing her eyesight due to a genetic, blindness-causing disease called retinitis pigmentosa. It is uncommon in that it afflicts about two million people worldwide. My friend’s daughter is one of those and it must seem all too common to her. This disease has no cure yet, but the British Retinitis Pigmentosa Society is aggressively funding genetic research to find one.
I am determined to help her and others with RP by devoting my hike from Mexico to Canada this year to raising awareness about RP and soliciting contributions for the BRPS. Their link can be found on my website at www.summers-trails.com If you are able to share in my adventure, then come along. I’ll post photos here and on my website (where you’ll see shots from all around the Tahoe Basin). Enjoy the shots and the trip and, if you can, help someone else to see what we can see on the other side of the mountain.
Pacific Crest Trail - 2009
Help others see what I could see at www.longwalk.org.uk
Hasta la pasta.
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