It was two years ago today that I left Campo, so I thought this would be a good time to wrap this blog up. Since I’ve been home, I’ve had time to edit my posts. When I was hiking I was pressed for time and posting from my little phone, so I’ve gone back and fixed all the typos and auto-corrects. For you English teachers out there, just know that I took freedom with my syntax on purpose. I write a lot of scientific and legal documents, so this is a nice opportunity to just write.

I also fattened up my blog entries with things I still remember, that I left out the first time. I tried not to edit the original posts (other than typos/syntax). I didn’t delete some of the things I’m a little embarrassed about. I just added content. It might be 50% longer now, and a better read, if anyone wants to read it again. Mostly me. This blog has been a great gift to me.

If you’re planning a thru-hike, plan to do a blog, even if you don’t make it public. It’s a great way to have your journal and your photos all in one place.

I will still probably make small edits (like it’s 1900 on April 6th as I write this. Why does it say posted on April 7?). I found some photos to add, I’ll add those in the next few days. Maybe I’ll never stop editing it. But other than some extra photos, you probably won’t notice the changes. I think it’s pretty complete. I may even learn how to make this site easier to navigate, but until then, if you want to go back or jump to a spot on the trip, go here:

But, before I go, I wanted to share my post-trail thoughts.

Naturally, the big question is: Am I really done? Will I go back and pick up where I left off and hike to Canada? Section-hike it a little at a time until I complete the whole trail? Go back and start over again from Campo? Honestly, I just don’t know. I have no plans.

Hiking the PCT is so… extreme. It’s a very long time to be away from home. Most of that time you’re outdoors in whatever weather is happening at the time, and this often leads to discomfort. No bed. Crappy food. And it beats you up physically pretty good.

And yet, I love being outside in Nature. The beautiful views, the fresh scents. Being out among all the other living things and away from humans and their garbage and ugly landscape they built. I sleep great in the woods without a bed. It’s good to work my body and get good and tired.

But the PCT is so much more than that. It’s a huge Adventure! Just saying, “Hike from Mexico to Canada” is enough to blow most people’s mind. You know it’s going to take around six months, so you head out from the Mexican border on this six-month adventure… and then you’re just out there. On the trail. And it’s a magical place to be!

You have a very clear mission every day for the next six months. Walk as far as you can north. It’s simple, and you can make progress with every footstep. Of course, you can’t just get up and walk to Canada, you have to stop for lots of reasons (sleep, eat, rest, resupply). In fact, you can stop anytime you want, for as long as you want, anywhere you want.

Therein lies the bliss. The freedom. The joy of having a purpose, which you are constantly making progress on, but you can take it at your own speed. Feeling tired and want to take it slow? Go for it. Feeling like you want to get to town and decide to hike as fast as you can? Why not? You can baby yourself, push yourself, linger at a nice place, or see how far you can go. It really is a special place, that strip of dirt out there so innocently.

And again, the Adventure is EPIC. Standing out in the wilderness on some ridge with a nice view has a different look when you’ve walked there from hundreds of miles away and have hundreds of miles yet to go. It has left a mark on me, and I think about it every day.

I’ve noticed this winter that cold really reminds me of the trail. Wind reminds me of the trail. Walking anywhere makes me think of the trail. And pretty much anytime I look at the sky. Day or night, clear or cloudy, looking at the sky reminds me of the PCT. So, no big thing. That hardly ever happens, right?

Which has led me to my new hobby, trying to cultivate that feeling that I got on the trail, at other times when I’m outside. I like to sit on the porch and watch the clouds. Sometimes they’re really beautiful and I know if I was out on the trail I’d probably take a picture. So, why should the fact that I’m at home and there’s no majestic mountain to frame it prevent me from appreciating how beautiful this planet is in the same way? It’s a state of mind, a perspective. It comes naturally in the wilderness. It’s much harder in town, but sometimes I can get there, and I like to think I’m getting better at it.

After two years, I am happy to report that I feel a much greater sense of accomplishment than I did when I had to leave the trail without even hiking all of California. But it’s true I hiked 1200 miles in three months! And there is no doubt I had to get off the trail. I got the splinter in June 2015 and I would say it still bothered me until April or May 2016. It was a serious injury. I have a nice scar. So, excluding the part that was out of my control, how did I do with the part I could control? I think I rocked it pretty hard.

I certainly feel more confident about my abilities: physically, socially, mentally. It’s a really huge thing to leave your life and head out on an adventure through the wilderness and a bunch of strange places. It gives me confidence that I can accomplish quite a bit if I really put my mind to it. Maybe I need to think bigger about the future? My mother said that I can be lazy, but I always rise to the occasion. Maybe I need to plan more occasions that need to be risen to?

Did I “find myself” on the trail. I guess not really, but I learned a lot about myself, even at my advanced age. For instance, I learned to ask for help. I’m weird about being self-contained, ready for anything, don’t-help-me-I-got-this. On the trail I learned that if you need help, the fastest way to get it is to walk up to the first person you see and tell them what you need. This lesson was reinforced when I got home and was working on the fires. Don’t be shy if you need help!

So, I’m feeling good about my PCT experience. I’m really glad I did it. No Regrets! I’m glad I went alone and hiked my own hike, which was more solitary than most. Other than the Canada thing, I got what I wanted.

Thanks to everyone who followed along, especially those of you who posted comments. It’s was a big morale booster out on the trail.

My Dad wants to go backpacking again this summer and we will be hiking close to home here in the Marble Mountain Wilderness. It’ll just be a fun, easy, out and back. If we feel good and hike far, I hope to make it all the way to Marble Mountain and camp at Sky High Lakes, which would mean I could hike ¼ mile or so of PCT I haven’t been on. How’s that for a section hike!

I guess I’m at a loss for words to explain what really happened to me out there. But it definitely was a good thing. One of those experiences you never forget. I have trail dreams frequently, especially if I read a few of my blog posts before bed. I didn’t make it to Canada, but looking back at my early post about my goals, I got close enough. Good times.



My Trip to Alaska – Coming Home

Day 10

Sunday, July 10th

Brian picked me up and took me across the island to the ferry terminal in Hollis. I think the ferry left around 10. I had another omelet at The Landing in Ketchican and headed over to the airport to wait for my flight. When I got there I saw that I had like a 2.5 hour wait, but another flight to SeaTac was leaving in about half an hour. I asked if I could get a seat on the earlier flight, and I could! (for $20, way worth it). I had to sit way in the back, in a tiny seat that was one of the worst airplane seats I’ve ever been forced to sit in, like sitting on a church pew without moving for two hours (my ticket was First Class on the later flight). I got back to the Cedarbrook Lodge in the early evening (5? 6?) had a lovely bath and a good night.

Day 11

Monday, July 11th

I can’t remember what time I got on the road, but I remember making it door to door in 9.5 hours, which was much nicer than coming up. I followed the speed limit the whole way too. No stops other than for gas or to go to the bathroom. It was 113 degrees when I went through Grants Pass (!), but a cool 57 in Arcata. Ironically, the exact same temperature it was when I left Craig, Alaska yesterday.

I’m claiming victory on this vacation. It was a good one. I went someplace new and different. I got to catch up with a friend and see what his life is all about. I made new friends and had some great parties. But I also had a lot of down time and got some good rest. I feel ready to go back to work and my regular routine. It was a good break. Honestly, I don’t know how a vacation could be more perfect.

My Trip to Alaska – Part Four: Working and Playing

Day 7

Thursday, July 5th

Got up early and met Brian at his office at 0800, ready to work all day in the field in Alaska. Something had fucked up with the gismo’s batteries (a total station), but we headed out just the same. It was about an hour drive and then a 45-minute hike up “12-Mile Creek” to the job site. They are planning to use a helicopter to move some large trees into the channel to help sort gravel and make better fish habitat. We were doing pre-project surveys.


Setting up the Gizmo. The trees for the helicopter to move are waiting on the gravel bar in the background, root wads and all.

It’s pretty cool, because I love surveying streams, and Brian needed help, so I would have done it for free. But my boss said since I’m a Forest Service Hydrologist, working on a Forest Service project, I can get paid regular 01 time. So, I’m not on vacation today, I’m getting paid!


I was working, boss. Honest!

The stream was not what I expected at all. It had a very sandy bottom, with some gravel and cobble for flavor, and was mostly about knee-deep and pretty wide. Easy hiking.



Back home the streams are confined in tight valleys and have a much coarser substrate, with lots of big boulders and bedrock for flavor, and deep pools.

We got lucky on the weather, with no rain, lower-sixties, and some sun breaks. I was even hot a few times. It took a while to get the instrument set up, and then I was the rod-man. We surveyed the thalweg (the deepest part going downstream), high and low bank, and some Left Bank ground terrain (where I officially met “Devil’s Club”) until lunchtime, when the battery died. So, we had lunch and got back early, around 1530.

When we got back to the truck Brian realized that he had forgotten to check the gas that morning, and we probably didn’t have enough to make it back to Craig (or any other gas station). It certainly added some excitement to the day! But we swung by a spike camp nearby that he knew about and found a few gallons stashed there, so, no biggie. Information is power. Good to be a local.

When we got back it was just sunny and beautiful! I saw Angela at her desk, and she looked really good. It’s only a third of a smoke from the FS office to the Blue Heron (where I’m staying), and when I sat down to finish my smoke, it was hot! OK, mid 60’s, but no wind and full sun. Just like my porch back home!

Changed into something more comfortable, made a grocery/beer run, went back to Brian’s around 1800. We drank some beers.


They were all four looking at their phones, but Hannah saw me and hid hers. Kids these days.

It seems like there are a ton of children here in Craig, and it seems like a nice place to raise a family. I like to think that Brian’s kids weren’t the only little ones in town that were polite, well-behaved, and were comfortable in adult situations, including impressive conversational skills. Whatever Brian is doing with his daughters, he’s doing it right. I was kind of blown away.

Brian fancied himself a sou chef so he made some killer white wine/pepper/whatever sauce to toss over halibut and rice. I just kept partying until 1030 or so, when I took a plate he saved for me, home. Drank another beer, saw the near-full moon rise around 1130. I still ate Brian’s halibut, rice and sauce for dinner. And it was really good!


Day 8

Friday, July 8th

Slept in until 1030 or so. When I woke up there were sun breaks and a decent temperature. I had planned to take a drive around the island in Brian’s car (he’s got to work), but I ended up just relaxing, eating some of the food I’ve got in the room, reading, napping. I figured this was my last day with nothing planned for a while. My last chance to be lazy and do nothing, so that’s what I did. And then it started raining hard around 4 and I was glad not to be out there, car or not.

I finally rallied at 420. Beer run. Dishes. Went over to Brian’s around 1800. We drank some beer and headed over to the Shelter Cove restaurant with the girls for our 7 O’Clock reservation. Very nice upscale restaurant! The beer wasn’t too good, and it took us over two hours to get out of there (the girls, especially Lauren were tired). But the food was excellent, the chef even came out to ask us if we liked it. Best meal I’ve had in a long time. (Almost $200 (I treated), but hey, live a little).

Walked home and brought the guitar back to Brian’s. I played one song for him and the girls and then we went over to Taylor and Sarah’s and we played some guitar and fiddle. They weren’t particularly good musicians, but we had fun playing and socializing. Good people. We all dispersed for bed around 11.

But I didn’t go to bed. I drank some more beer. I had the windows open and was enjoying the fresh air. Strong, stormy wind actually, enough to rock the place. Sideways rain.

Actually, this place sways quite a bit in the wind, and it sways when my downstairs neighbors walk around. And I can hear them. I wonder it they can feel the place shake when I walk around up here. Or how much they hear me. I try to be quiet and not move too much. I would NOT want to be here in an earthquake! Or tsunami.

I’m still planning on going for a hike with Brian and the girls tomorrow. We’ll have to see what the weather is before we know where we’re going.


Day 9

Saturday, July 9th

The weather wasn’t too bad, so we did go hiking.

First, we stopped by the park in Klawok to look at the totem poles. They were pretty cool.

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Then, we went up this FS dirt road to the end and looked up at the mountains.


The way to the lakes is up that strip of whitewater on the left, if you can get there.

It was cold (50?) with a chance of showers. Brian told some stories about trying to hike through some of the chutes we could see. It looks really forbidding and hard with all the brush. I guess you hike up what’s basically a waterfall and there’s some lakes up there. Not today.

So we went down and hiked an old logging road that has been converted to a nice hiking trail, partly by the creek.


Nice raised gravel tread to keep you out of the mud.


I can’t remember if Brian was part of that project, but it looked pretty new, so, probably. He was part of the stream restoration the trail went to and it looked awesome. Some of the trees that were placed in the channel had been pushed aside, but most of them were doing their Large Woody Debris job and creating pools and gravel deposits of various coarseness.


They put logs across the channel, anchored with some riprap.


Creates pools and sorts gravel.


Human created log jam. Good cover for fish.




Looks like good fish habitat to me.


Logs placed to armor the bank and make a nice deep pool


We got back to Craig around 1400. I can’t remember what we did then. Probably drank beer and hung out would be my guess.

My Trip to Alaska – Part the Third: The Fourth

Day 5

Tuesday, July 3rd

Not sure why, but I got up around 0830. I had been tasked with buying the oysters for tonight’s party/feast (they do the fireworks and barbeque and everything on the 3rd here) but I had to wait until 1000 for the oyster place to open. I finally went over and got them, plus more beer. Next on my list was breakfast, but since I was still drunk from the night before, I thought I’d have a beer first. Which turned into 4 beers, by which time I didn’t really fancy going out. I had lunch in my room and took a fat nap.

Here’s the view from Brian’s porch at the FS barracks. I probably should have done a pano or something. These are from west to east.

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I went over to the FS area to join the party around 7 and made even more new friends, including the District Ranger and Brian’s boss. There was a big spread of food, but at first I just wanted to drink, and then all of a sudden the food got all packed up. I had one oyster.

Lots of store-bought fireworks and we all got pretty drunk. A good party! The real, professional fireworks went off around midnight. I didn’t see that much of them because Angela had glommed onto me, taking my attention. I really liked the human contact, but at some point she wandered away, and I took that opportunity to leave and go to my own bed. I’m shy that way.


Day 6

Wednesday, July 4th

I was a bit hungover today, for some reason. I got up in time to see the parade, which was pretty small, but energetic!







There’s Brian next to the big fish.


I talked to some new friends I met at the party last night. They were thirsty too, for some reason. Then I spent the rest of the day reading, sleeping and trying to eat. I think I drank over 15 beers yesterday and ate very little food. I didn’t feel totally awful, but I had no energy or motivation. My plan is to work out in the field surveying with Brian tomorrow, so I need to be ready for anything. Surveying streams in Alaska sounds burly.

My Trip to Alaska: Part Two – Fishing

Day 3

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Got up at 0630 to go fishing. Brian, Angela, Casey and I went out on Casey’s 19-foot Boston Whaler. First, we pulled up some crab pots and got about 10 “sea-spiders”, then we baited and set a “skate” for halibut, and headed out for some salmon.


View of the harbor from my room.


L to R: Casey, Brian, Angela. The brown place, upstairs with the windows open, up and to the right of Angela’s head is where I’m staying.


Our ship.

The plan was to net the salmon out of a small stream on Hekeda Island, which is about an hour away, but when we got there, there were no fish to be seen. They’re late this year. Or something. Normally, there’s hundreds of them and you just scoop them out of the shallow stream. The beach was rocky with massive amounts of wood, so getting ashore was a little tricky since I didn’t have waders on. I had to get ferried by Brian or Casey on their back. The boat couldn’t land, so the skipper (Casey) took it off shore a ways to fish while Brian and Angela and I walked around the island for a little bit.



Angela and Brian pulling up a crab pot


Craig, Alaska

Very remote feeling, and full-on rain forest. They showed me an old structure of some kind but it was totally melted into the landscape and covered with moss. It might not be the remotest place I’ve ever been, but it sure felt like it.


After a half hour or so, since there were no fish, we looked at some petroglyphs on a cliff above the water and headed back. I wasn’t quite warm enough. There was a headwind, and it was choppy, and I was right out front exposed. The wind speed was probably 30 knots, but I think we were actually making more like 10 knots back to port. It took longer to get back than it did to get out. But we did see about 10 whales (including some breaching), some porpoises, seals, and lots of sea otters. Sea otters are extremely cute and aren’t too shy of the boat.


Casey trying his luck off shore while we explore.

We got back and had a big crab feed, then drank beers. I was really tired so I left kind of early and went to bed around 1030.

I should mention, it’s summer up here in Alaska. There’s a lot of daylight! It gets dark around midnight, and then it starts getting light again around 0400. It’s not all that conducive to sleeping normal hours. Or sleeping much at all, really.


Day 4

Monday, July 2


Rains a lot here!

I was so tired I slept until almost noon. It felt good, even if I was still a little tired. I went and did some clothes and grocery shopping (I got a wool hat and some gloves so I would be warmer if we go fishing again). I was going to go for a hike around Cemetery Island, but I decided to take a nap instead. Vacation!

I forgot to mention that there are SO MANY Bald Eagles here. Probably 100 or more right here in town.


My view looking down from Brian’s porch on a smoke break.


Bald eagles are by far the most common bird to see. And I was blown away by their call. I think of this screech, like you see/hear on TV. Like a Redtail Hawk. But no, they totally sound like seabirds. Sort of like a seagull. Like a ten pound Sandpiper. Here’s a nice little YouTube clip, if you don’t believe me.

Also, where I live, we’ve got some really big ravens, and they’re kind of the “top dog”. I wouldn’t say they’re aggressive to other birds, but they seem totally care-free if not arrogant. Up here the ravens are just as big, but with the big Bald Eagles hovering over everything, they seem much quieter. Very polite. Down right demure.


Sun came out later

I went over to Brian’s for dinner (venison steaks (that he shot himself) and taters, very good) and I got to meet his lovely daughters Hannah and Lauren. Meat is really expensive in Craig, so Brian hunts deer, and catches salmon, and crab, and has a freezer full of meat. Apparently, a real treat for them is to buy some chicken at the store, at like three times what it costs in California. But I love venison, and fish, and crab, so I was happy with the menu.

After dinner we went out with Casey to check the skate.


The Forest Service barracks where Brian lives. It has a nice view!



Bald eagles aren’t so impressive in silhouette.


Fishing can make you pretty sleepy. Of course, despite the sunlight, I think it’s around 10 PM.

Only one (30-lb) halibut, one yellow-eye, and one rockfish, but we did get about 25 crabs out of the pots. I helped Casey clean the fish while Brian boiled the crabs. Got totally munched on by gnats and had itchy bug bites for a week after along the line where my hat meets my forehead. We had a very nice dinner, then we drank some beers and I headed home.

Ended up partying downstairs with Mary and Ernie. They kept giving me tequila shots. I got so drunk I couldn’t play the guitar, which is saying something! Finally went to bed around 4 as it was getting to be daylight again.

My Trip To Alaska: Part One – Getting There

So, I’m not hiking the PCT today. Want to hear about my trip to Alaska back in 2012?

Day One

Friday, June 29th, 2012

I had planned to leave Arcata at 0800. I heard it was an 11-hour drive to SeaTac airport, which would put me there around 7, which would give me time to enjoy the amenities at the nice place I was staying, and relax. In the end, I was hungover and didn’t get up until 8. But I was out on the highway by 0920, I rolled into the Cedarbrook Lodge around 8. The drive was pretty easy, except I hit the south side of Portland a little after 4 (on a Friday, on arguably a holiday weekend) and I didn’t break free on the north side until after 6, so I probably spent over an hour at a full stop in the middle of I-5. This was pretty sucky since I was beat up from hard field days last week and falling in the creek (Willow Creek). Your butt gets just as sore sitting in the car whether you’re moving or not.

The Cedarbrook Lodge is nice. It reminds me a little of the Resort at Squaw Creek. Very nice room. It has nice grounds you can walk around. Very close to the airport and the highway, but still pretty quiet and rustic feeling with lots of trees and birds around. I was really glad I didn’t stay at a “regular” place. The only badness was, even though it was mostly overcast and some light showers, it was like 78 degrees, which is a little hot and humid for my taste. I watched a video on my new computer over the free Wi-Fi, set up a new email account, got room service for dinner, drank 6 beers and called it good around 1130.


Day Two

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

I got up at 0725, five minutes before my wake-up call. I packed up quickly and had plenty of time to wait for the 0830 shuttle to the airport. The check-in and security lines were pretty slow at the airport, but I felt like I had plenty of time. So, I was surprised when I got to the gate and they were on their third round of boarding already! My ticket said departure was at 1035, but I think we pushed off from the gate before 1030. I guess if everyone’s on board, let’s roll, eh? I was in First Class, which was nice but not like First Class on some fancier Airlines (or routes). I regretted turning down the proffered turkey sandwich and side salad. I had some snack food with me, and I was picturing a bill of like $25, but turns out I think it was free for us First Class folks. I sat next to a guy who has been going to Patrick’s Point for a week every year for like 30 years, so we had lot’s to talk about. Small world.

I arrived on time (11:37) in Ketchican, and took the airport ferry over to the town side of things. If you heard about “the Bridge To Nowhere”, this is where it was proposed to be built. It’s true, there’s not a lot happening on the island, and I don’t think very many people live on it, but I can see why they wanted it. Air travel is pretty important in Alaska, and there’s no way to get from the airport to the mainland without crossing the water in a boat. I can see in bad weather where this might be dangerous or impossible, compared to a nice easy bridge.


Damn lightpole

There were LOTS of float planes taking off and landing, which was cool. I asked the ferry guy how to get to the Inter Island Ferry to Hollis and he said, “Out to the main drag and go right two blocks”. I guess blocks are bigger in Alaska, because it was at least a quarter mile and my arms, hands and elbows were killing me from carrying my 35 –pound suitcase.

It was a beautiful partly cloudy day with some sun and a welcome 55 degrees or so. I got my ticket for the ferry but there was no place to drop my bag. So I schlepped it across the street and had a Denver omelet at The Landing and then took the ferry at 3:30. It was pretty comfy, and uneventful. I saw two pods of whales blowing and tons of jellyfish. I was amazed at all the clear-cuts on all the islands we passed. Almost all of SE Alaska is Forest Service and they weren’t shy about getting the cut out. And these are islands with no infrastructure. They had to build some kind of “port”, and all the roads they need to get the trees. Turns out, humans are pretty industrious. And maybe not so good at building roads where it rains so much. I saw lots of landslides coming off of old roads. Most of them don’t go into salmon spawning streams, like where I’m from, so, maybe it’s not that bad. It looks bad.


I arrived on time (1830) in Hollis, Prince of Whales Island, and my friend Brian picked me up and we drove across the island to the small town of Craig. That’s a trip of 45 minutes or so through some beautiful country with thick forests and rocky/snowy mountain peaks.



In full confession mode, I had been contemplating quitting drinking on this trip. You know, get out of your patterns, your triggers, go someplace totally different and “start over”. Yeah, Craig, Alaska is not a good place for that, and I could tell after an hour drive across the island that I wanted to pick up some brewskis before we got “home”.


We stopped here in Klawok for beer and gas. Klawok and Craig are like peas and carrots.

So we got a few 12-packs and went to my room at The Blue Heron. The only problem was, there was nobody there, and it didn’t seem that I was expected. The front was unlocked, but nobody was home, and there was no note for me. I called “Tammy” and she had no idea at first who I was, and had no notes about any reservation for me. I said, “Gee, that’s a bummer, since I’m standing here in Craig right now with my bags.” I’m not sure what happened, because the last time we talked, I was going to have one of the little rooms, but just for one night, and then move to the bigger room. I thought it was all arranged a month ago. After a few minutes she called me back and said she could fit me into the bigger room for the whole eight nights, if she could have an hour to get it ready (it was 730).

So, we went and drank a few beers at Brian’s apartment, which is about 100 yards away from the Blue Heron, just past the Forest Service Ranger Station. I got to see Paco (Brian’s parrot) again, who is looking really good.




Paco Paco

It wasn’t long before Brian’s friend Taylor came over. He also works for the Forest Service (fish bio). He showed up with a Steelhead Extra Pale Ale in his hand, and I’m like, what?? Turns out he’s born and bred in Humboldt County (Eureka). He’s 30, so I have to ask Karla if she knows him (he doesn’t seem to remember her (edit to add: she’s married now, and not going by the last name she had in high school. They do, in fact, remember each other). He plays music, and I was lamenting not bringing my guitar, and it turns out he has an extra! So, I got to bring back to my room a nice loaner for the week!

Then Brian’s other neighbor, Angela, showed up. She also works for the Forest Service (Hydrologist, like me) and we hit it off good. She had been working for the Shasta-Trinity NF before coming here and knew Christine and Fred. Then Brian’s buddy Casey came over. Another Humboldt State University grad, here on a detail, who usually works on the Umpqua NF. Humboldt connections everywhere!

I finally checked into my room around 930. It was a very nice room. It was on the second floor, with a nice view of the harbor and the bay. It was actually on piers and stuck out over the water at high tide. It had a nice bed with lots of covers, a little sitting area, a tiny bathroom, and a tiny kitchen with a stove, sink, fridge, microwave and a compliment of dishes and utensils. It was perfect!


I took these pictures a couple days in. It looked better when I got there, but I thought the should go here in the post.


How much do you really need?


I think that building in back is Brian’s housing. Pretty close!

I went back to Brian’s for a few more beers, then came back to my room around 11. I could see and hear a couple smoking downstairs on the big porch that sticks out over the water (the bottom place is the sweet spot with a much bigger room and a deck). So, I went down and introduced myself. They were a little surprised at first, me (with my leather jacket) just showing up on their porch at 11 and all, but we soon hit it off and partied until about 2! They also live in California and come up here every year for a vacation.

So, not a bad start. I’ve been in town 5 hours, and I’ve made 5 new friends!

Returning to The Scene of The Crime

I went skiing at Squaw Valley two weeks ago, where I first got off the trail, right before my toe infection. Last summer it looked like this:

Last week, there was snow!

My Dad came out to visit and my sister Sarah. It was really good to see them again. Sarah took that picture from the top of Granite Chief, and it was really cool to get to say, “I walked here from Mexico once.” As much as I failed at my thru-hike, what I did was still pretty cool, and I’m trying to focus on that and not the failure part.

In other news, I’ve been reading other people’s blogs from last year, which is really cool now that I have been there and they often mention other hikers who I also met. Some of these have inspired me to add more detail to my blog. There were things that happened that are kind of interesting that I don’t want to forget. There was a lot of time pressure trying to post from the trail and now that that is gone, I want to make the story more complete. Honestly, dear reader, this blog is for me as much as anything. Anyway, I’ll let you know when all the additions are done, if you want to read my story again.

In the meantime, while I was looking for something on my computer I found my journal from my trip to SE Alaska a few years ago and I’m thinking of making a post, or several posts, out of that.


I think there’s a way to make a menu of each post, but while we wait for me to figure that out, here’s some links to some milestones. If you’re new to the blog and you want to start from the beginning without scrolling all the way back, or you want to jump to a particular part of the trail, you might find one of these useful:

First day on trail:

Leaving Warner Springs:

Leaving Big Bear:

Leaving Wildwood:

Leaving Tehachapi:

Ten Moons

Full moon tonight. And it was a full moon my last night at home back in April, when I was looking up, already homesick, nervous and excited, wondering what I was getting into. Counting both those moons, and the ones in between, that’s ten moons. And since it was just the Solstice, and it’s the end of the calendar year and the start of a new one, here’s a reflective post about my PCT hike, and my plans for the future.

I’m feeling better about my accomplishment, and thinking less about my failure to complete my hike. I walked 1200 miles through the desert and the mountains of the High Sierra by myself. That’s something to be proud of, I think.

I haven’t had a lot of trail dreams (circling back to the title of this blog), but I have had a few. It’s like I thought it would be: it’s not a memory, but it’s close. I’m on “the trail” but part of my brain is still “wait, that’s not right.”

As for finishing, I’m not going to try to hike the whole thing in one year again. Well, maybe after I retire, but that’s a long time away. And I’m not going to try to hike the half I missed in one-go either. I really shouldn’t be gone from work for four months during field season anytime soon.

But, I don’t think I can rest easy until I have hiked the entire PCT. So, I intend to chip away at it, two weeks here, a month there, until I walk the whole thing. It’s not what I set out to do, but I think it’s something I want to do. Hey, this way I can go as slow as I want and enjoy it, and really nail the season that is best for that part of the trail.

We’ll see. When I do head out on the trail again, I will post about it here. I’ve been reading trail blogs again, and it’s getting me excited to go back out. I’m on the verge of planning a 10-day trip next summer. 150 miles?

I want to thank my Dad, for hiking with me, for the medical advice, and most importantly for taking me backpacking when I was a boy and instilling a love of mountains and wild places in me.


Anyone recognize the background?

I want to thank Vito Almarez for feeding me and making my life so much easier in Tehachapi. I want to thank my Uncle Jay for meeting me on short notice at Sonora Pass with resupply and to take my bear canister away. I want to thank everyone who gave me a ride when I was hitchhiking! And Special Thanks to my cousin Bruce, who made it possible to wake up at a beautiful lake on the PCT, and be home in my own bed the same day! A Miracle!

Of course, Angel Kathy was indispensible. Without her love and generosity I would have been a really hurting camper, and probably would have come home much too soon to feel like I gave it everything I had.

You can hike the PCT alone, but you can’t do it by yourself.

As I’m posting, it’s Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas everybody! See you next year.


I won’t keep you wondering. Behind me in the photo is Dicks’s Peak. I think my right arm is covering where the PCT crosses Dicks Pass. Just above my right foot, above the rock, is looking exactly at where Dad and I camped by Suzie Lake last summer. I’m standing on top of Keith’s Dome.

A Few More Gear Reviews

I left out a few items from the Gear Review post that should be mentioned:

Raincoat: OR (Outdoor Research) Helium II

I didn’t have a particularly wet hike, partly because I didn’t make it to Washington, so I don’t have a lot of “hard rain all day” experience with this jacket, but it seems to work well enough. What I really like is how small it packs down (about the size of an orange) and how it weighs in at 6.4 ounces! Not much to carry, but does a really important job when you need it! This is a nice piece of gear that I’m still throwing in my bag, trail or town, if there is the slightest chance of rain or high wind. I mean, why not?

Knife: Leatherman Squirt Ps4

One-inch blade, scissors, screwdriver, mini/phillips screwdriver, cap lifter, file, tiny pliers, and 3 ounces. Very cool. I found a one-inch blade to be totally adequate for my trail needs, even cutting up my shoe. I mostly used the pliers to pull tent stakes out of the ground when my fingers were frozen. The scissors were nice for cutting bandages and moleskin and tape. This was the first piece of “PCT gear” I bought, so I’ve been carrying it for about 18 months and I love it. People before my hike asked me if I was going to carry a gun? Then they’d ask if I was going to carry a big knife? Which was my chance to pull out my little one-inch blade and show them. Honestly, that’s all you need. Leave the one-pound Bowie knife at home.

Groundsheet: That stuff they put on houses before they put the siding on

The stuff I used wasn’t Tyvek, but it was some kind of “house wrap”. Perfectly water-proof, extremely light weight, and easy to fold and manage. Love it! Never going back. I couldn’t seem to buy any around here, but I have a friend of a friend who works construction, and when he found out I only wanted a 6-foot by 8-foot piece, he just gave it to me. This is the way to go folks. And I’ll pass on the advice I got in Mt. Laguna: always put the same side down and always fold it up the same way. Apparently, over time the ground side can get abraded and start to pick up bits of grass and such.