Day 28 mile 431 

On a day that ends with me in the back of a ‘black and white’ 

 I woke a few times in the night .Wrestling  down the tent flaps . Winds i havent experienced since the night at Ziggy and the Bears . So i enjoy the ‘lull’ early morning . The moon is still up and the sun not yet putting in a full appearance . So the sky is a dark dark blue , with the promise of orange at the edges . I smile as i stir my porridge . Im looking forward to today . It looks like a straight forward hike to Tehachapi . I dont think i will make it all the way today as its thirty plus miles , but there is a nice campsite close to the highway and so i plan to hitchhike in tommorow morning and resupply . Its the last big town for at least a couple of hundred miles , so this is an important hiker hub . 

me and some turbines
Ive been watching the Windfarm and generators  get closer and closer , and by second breakfast time im in the heart of them . They ‘whoop,whoop’ and are pretty spectacular in an alien scfi kind of way , but only for so long . The other downside about hiking through a windfarm is , well , the wind .. Blimmin ‘ek .. The WIND . I walked at about 45degrees most of the morning , consoling myself that at least i was exercising some new muscle groups . 

a lone turbine
 At lunch i dropped down to a spring in a gorge , where it was blissfully windless , and there was Guss , he’d headed off early yesterday , so it was a nice suprise to have company and a catch up , fill up our water and have a cup of tea (im trying to culture the natives) !
Later , more wind farm ,more wind turbines and more wind . Much much more wind . I get my Hilaryscottcousteau head on and push ever onwards , ever upwards , towards the looming summits .

look carefuly you will see the turbines
It does feel like an achievement facing such resistance on a pathway . The day to day winds that hamper and hinder . Winds of distraction , winds of confusion , winds of change . How do i deal with the winds on my pathway ? Often the distractions seem to engulf me , advertisments , telemarketing, too much choice in the supermarket .. It all chips away at my defences . It all trys to take away my precious time . How can we walk through these winds and remain entirely ourselves ? 

more wind turbines
 The windturbines are earning their money today ‘whooop whhup whup!’
 I realised a long time ago that the wind is never going to stop in my life.It is a constant of nature. I know that I can be its ‘victim’ or just accept it and ‘get on with it’ . I like the way that the wind has left my face nowerdays , carved with its character . 

turbines and a tree

I motor on , enjoying brief moments of the wind being behind me and having the distinct sensation that im flying .. So , even wind has its upsides. 

looking all mad max
Later having cracked out a plus thirty mile day im standing on the side of the highway with my thumb in the breeze . I get picked up and ride in the back of the truck with the backpacks . Im elated to think i will soon be in a town and eating Pizza and washing it down with some amber nectar . 

So im a bit disconbobulated to find my creditcard getting bounced .. Not once , but thrice ….  Ahhahahahrghghghhhhhh ! To say the least . 

But get this , get this ! The lady in the chevron garage phones the local officer , who comes straight over and gives men a coupon to use at the local motel . Ive been kindly put up care of the Sally Army tonight . OK im not exactly a vagrant or a stranded motorist , but I am grade A ‘Hiker-trash’ and so that must count here . 


 Officer Bruce gives me a ride to the Motel Santa Fe in the back of his squad car . Im totaly and deeply in childhood fantasy land . I am both Starsky and Hutch and Chips and Kojak all at once . Officer Bruce apologises that the seats in the back aernt comfortable .. Yeah yeah its not a Damler .. Its BETTER !! 


Tonight with a can of donated beer and a bag of crisps . I sew on patch four .. Im so tired i have a bit of a wobble and realise im dehydrated . Time to get into Uncle Ned . 

Did i mention the wind turbines .. 

Day 27 mile 398

We have an early start from the Andersons . Happy to be on the road . We have to hitch to avoid yet another diversion . Its a little confusing each time we have to negotiate these moments . The path is supposed to be continious , but we have now had four major detours from the regular path . 

 That said , the hitch goes well , while im waiting i see this Red tailed hawk . Its a beautiful moment when she is hunting above us . 

red tailed hawk
 We are picked up almost imediatly . We are planning to hike about twenty miles today and get into Hikertown tommorow , so i can pick up my post ( my tent that my friend Kylee has sent over ) . 

 Best laid plans of Mice and men . The second fella who picks us up talks all about the local raptors . Turns out he flew eagles and owls all over the state . He has been training and hunting with them for over thirty years , and even visited the UK to fly birds . Maybe because we are so deep in conversation , next thing we know we are being dropped just a mile from Hikertown . 

Olaf , Guss and I hike up to Hikertown , a rather sureal film-set/campsite out on the edge of the desert . The owner had modelled the look of the place on a wild west theme , and opens the door to visitors and their resupply packages throughout hiker season . 

While im waiting for the postman I cant resist the urge get a shot outside the local jail .. An uncanny suggestion of what would materialise over the coming days ..

wanted !!

Post arrives . I unpack box , repack box , have a catch up with So-far and So-good , Sparks and the new face for me ‘Toka’ . Time passes , im thinking that ive had an unplanned ‘Nero’ and it doesnt sit well with me . I tell myself to relax and go with the flow . An hour later im on the trail .

 A long straight road , acompanied by a pipeline running straight as an arrow , direct to the middle of nowhere . 

long road home

The wind is picking up . I pull my bandana over my face , then i cut the first monotony that the path has offered me with a bit of photography . I catch a Turkey Vulture speeding low over fields , hunting . 

turkey vulture in flight
Later as the sunsets I catch a moment of sun coming through the tops of the trees . Satisfied with the photos , i hike on .

Im enjoying my first tumbelweeds and a straight flat road . I stop and eat by the roadside , enjoying the new colours that the sky offers up , pinks and purples bruise the night , the temperature drops and i cover another few miles before  night falls and im forced to stop and set up camp . 

I wasnt planning on pitching the tent , tonight , but with the first few drops of rain , im happy to have a bit of cover . I can put this tent up with my eyes closed , so doing it by starlight is easy . 
 Whats not so easy, is holding onto the tent around about midnight as its attempting a take-off . “Grrrrr!” I shout aloud at the tent ! “Flap ! Flop! Whal whaap whapp wapp! ” replys my rebellious wee sleeping contraption . 

I sleep again .. tumbelweed , rusted barbed wire , hawkes and sherrifs all jostle for my dreamtime .. I reject them all in favour of ‘Trail mix paradise’ a fantasy i conncoct about a hike to a never ending fountain of trail mix . Made from assorted ingredients ; smarties , cranberries , jelly beans , chocolate coated nuts and dried fruits .. Ahhhh bliss !!

Sweet sweet sweet dreams . 

KDay 26 mile 387

California meadows

 

Do you ever get ‘perfect mornings’? One of those days that starts so well that you hum all through the day ? 

 Well , I got one of them today . 

so good and so far

 Got signed into the guest book as I left with Guss and Sofar-Sogood . Waterboy took us all to the trail head and Olaf joined us later . It was a hike that began under the frizzle of huge electric pylons , but wove us up through golden prairys and cabbage whites to black oak and hummingbirds. 

We stop at Bear spring and Guss plonks himself down in the grass , to find out that nettles can even penetrate the hardiest of mountain mans pants … Doooh! To be fair he didnt cry and i suppose thats why i didnt laugh too much . But it was worth a photo , so here is one of Guss before his rub with wrath of the nettle . 

Im rambling on the pathway today . The company of the trees is haunting , deeply contemplative when contrasted with the harsh presence of the desert. Green corridors open and allow me moments alone with ‘lady bugs’ and fungi . 

top of a thistle

 I want to stay with the ‘lady bird’ for another while or so , so I take the same photo five times . Im blissed by the symetry of her colours and her form . I actualy thank her aloud as im leaving . Im talking to nature, and im hearing her reply . 

Happy to be hearing her reply. 


I get on my knee to take a picture , I imagine that im here in prayer. It all is a prayer . Im grateful again !! Damn i think ‘I should go and climb a tree’ I think i will try and get Guss and Wing-it to scale one withe me . 

 Sage is on the pathway , i record a song with the iphone , it flows inspired by the moment , my breath , my heartbeat , the click of the sticks , the bird song , then my voice .. Im singing without rules or without interuption .. I have melodys new and the lyrics drip out unhindered . 


I find the day and miles slip away under stronger feet and stronger balance . Ive become tougher ,leaner,calmer . I only register snakes now , as i pass them and move on unphased 


 The afternoon Im sitting on ‘Bobs bench’ and Wildfire drops in . We talk about nature. I love seeing PCT sisters . Focused and grounded women. Inspiring .


I dont want the day to end . Its been perfect walking . We sit outside the Andersons place , all in  Hawaian shirts and snuggly on couches , with live guitars and singing . 

hey you ! get offa my cloud !

Later i tell a story : ‘My life in dog years’ . The crew of friends on the path love it . I go to sleep on a glow .. 

Once upon a time .. 

A long long time ago .. 


See you tommorow .  

Day 25 Zero day . 

I found the Andersons Hiker Heaven is a transdimensional vortex and requires a sonic screwdriver to exit . Had I known that i would not be here now . 

the sophlies hiker heaven

Big Toe may have to leave the trail . This is serious ! I was sad talking to him even about the possibility of potentialy maybe not hiking on together . We are good friends now I tell him honestly it wouldn’t be the same without him . 
Fingers crossed . 

Big Toe is back from the quacks , and he has meds. But bestest of all he has a smile , his swagger is back , and he smiles when i tell him he has lost a bit of wheigt . 

Im going to see him again ‘firther on up the roooaaad … Further ooon up the roooaaaoood ‘! 

Im full of gratitude .. I will kick on to the ‘Andersons Hiker Heaven’ tommorow .A twenty mile jaunt i will try tommorow . 

I get the good fortune to catch up with Sofar-Sogood and Wildfire . I make some new friends in the trailer kitchen and meet ‘Not guilty’ and ‘Dont axe!’, the latter being a Southbounder who was a great laugh !! 

New friends are met but some connections still grow deeper . I tell Wing it and Guss id like to do the Sierras with them . We are becoming ‘Solid’ and that feels like gold . 

The Sierra High pass is a story often discussed over the fire or in a circle after food . We are looking at the snow pack , how many people have done the section already, what equipment is best and where are the turn offs . I am growing with the answers . The pathway is illuminating.. It wants to be walked . 

Making friends on the pathway is an imense blessing . 

We learn much of ourselves when we observe our behavious when we are seperated momentarily or extendedly from these friends .
Zday is something when nothing happens not even a blister count ! 

a bit crackly and flaky but otherwise good

  

Day 24 mile 364 

  

Yesterday was a big one for me . Not every day is going to be like that ( I tell myself ) . ‘Don’t have expectations and I wont be disappointed’ is a useful mind candy . Today i awake on the path , literaly. Ive slid down the mattress , so the first thing I see is another hiker (ninja Tourtouise) bearing down on me at about 3miles per hour . “Mornin'” , “Mornin!” . He is off and i get on with making my oats .  

 

The sun slowly warms me as i walk . Its good to have the pathway to myself again this morning . Im happy to just tread the miles today , Im heading for a Hiker Heaven at the Soflies in Agua Dulche . I stop frequently to eat and take photos . 

squirrels are ACE

 

I know Wing it is ahead of me and Big toe is behind , it could be minutes or hours , but it really doesn’t matter . Just good to know they are there . 

  

As I reach the Ranger station half way through the day we regroup . All together we look at a weather report as the clouds are rolling in . They are thick, fast and grey , not a great combo by any means . We bounce the lunch down fast and get out of dodge . We’re sitting high here and its a 6000ft drop down trail to the next stop . We slip away onto the path .. One at a time . Enjoying the cool breeze that picks up to about 20miles an hour , bring light splashes of sweet relieving rain . Nothing like a bit of desert rain . 

   

We hit the trail head ‘Indian rocks canyon’ and we are deciding on our next step . We think about hitching . I day dream that ‘D’ will cruise up in his white ‘Cadillac’ and get us off this stickyblackhot tarmac . Moments later D does pull in . Like a trail angel in shinning armour , with a cool smile he offers us a cool bannana from his ice box , or a cold californian orange . We dont know wether to laugh out aloud .

   

chocolate bar for the name of this one ?
 

Later in the mexican resturaunt where Big Toe is busy buying me beer and a taco , i chuckle to myself . The ‘Dodgers’ are playing a ‘Ball game’ and i still cant believe Im in America . The landscape outside is the home film set to numerous tv shows and movies . Sets like Roy Rodgers, Austin Powers , Sinbad  and Bonanza where thrown up here amongst the amazing rocks . 

Much later at the Hiker Heaven ,  the goodness of our trail angel hosts , i find myself surounded by open ears at the fire side . Someone has put hay bails around a stone fire pit . We have sung Eagles songs acompanied by ukuleles   and guitars . We jam out a brilliant version of ‘Major Tom’ by the late , great Bowie, then a Prince number , finaly Wing-it suggests a bit of Lemmy too !! A bit of ‘Ace of Spades ‘ flows on . 

Song turns to story ,and I jam storys to the gathered collection of hikers , a version of ‘The Green Knight’ and they love it . The fire side , the cold beer and a drop of rum help the feet , the muscles and the laughter . We talk late late into the night .. (About 8:30pm !) 

Blister count : Closed until further notice . 

Day 23 mile 347

 

views over the valley
 
Got up early . It was quite cold on the porch , so i head out alone whispering a goodmorning to Wing-it and Big Toe as i hit the trail. Well, not so much as ‘hit’ ,as ‘limp’ onto the trail. Its a part of the paths ritual to slowly warm up the muscles each morning . It takes time , taking it easy . 

 I walk with wide open eyes , im keeping a hopeful line open to see a bear this morning . I go quiet . I hear in the back of my mind ‘When you look ,You might not find what your looking for , but you will always find something’. Moments later early morning beauty visits me , a wild deer bounces up , startled , she is pure power , all four feet spring upwards and she bounds . Im stood transfixed by the moment . I know this is something I treasure , something reasuring, something true . I return to myself and catch a breath , still cold I take the next step , already the day owes me nothing .

Im still replaying the scene in my minds eye when a sudden burst of movement takes my eye , and now the scene is repeated . Im at the top of a glade and below me in the lush green grass and pines another Deer takes flight . I cant really believe what im seeing . Her nut brown flanks and white bob tail are just boundful of energy . Her sister rises at her side , startled by the sudden flight . I watch wide eyed and childhood innocent in the Cathedral of trees . Soft watery green light floods in through the pine branches . I hold my breath . This moment is ours . This moment is all I live for , to love nature unhindered . 


Later at Sulphar Springs im filtering my water and I look down . A fresh cayote paw print beneath me . I dont go for the camera . I put my fingers down and run them across the earth . I count the claws , I commit the colour of the soil to memory . I see how cayote bent to drink here, how he came soft at night, how he aproached warily and slowly drank . The full silver moon casting shadows on the mirrored water . I feel his grey pelt , his wildness runs through me . 
I make my lunch with the lads at the Firestation . We have hopsctotched each other most of the day . Wing it welcomes me in and i tell him of my morning . He smiles , he just knows . 


Later i make a great afternoon . Miles fall away and I catch the setting sun hitting the great redwoods . I walk with my ancestors tonight , as the sunset casts orange and purples across the horizon . 
I sleep right there ..

Right there ..


I watch a satellite jet streaming above , through the inky night sky . 

These are your stars , they shine above you , they shine for all of us . 

Blister count : 2

Day 22 mile 320 

wind blasted cyprus tree over 1500years old

No bears in the night ! 

Woken up by the early birds heading off onto the trail . We werent far behind . The first few miles fell away as we came down the mountain to meet Highway 2 . We regrouped there and decided our best course of action . We took the Highway diversion around the endangered species zone . Stopping for a break about halfway at a picnic spot . It was nice to relax and watch the world go bu for a while .

  
A little later Big Toe , Wing-it and I are down at the Buckhorn camp site . Its full of huge grey squirrels and beautiful Redwood trees . The forest is begining to change , it has more ‘manna’ more power , and a deeper presence . 

  
I enjoy the river crossings here , everything seems so much more alive . I think of writing poems and how the nature here will affect my work . I imagine that im being inspired on a level ive not yet explored . 

  
After lunch Wing-it and I walk the trail towards Camp Glenwood , an old boy scout camp where we plan to stop for the night. The trail is easy with no snow , but as ever the last miles seem to take for ever . 

  

At last we come around the last corner , and Big Toe is already there . The wind is high , there is no water and so we decide to Cowboy camp on the covered porch of the scout hut . We cook our dinners and swap jokes whilst the wind dies down . Suddenly someone appears on the path . A new face , he introduces himself as ‘Adventure Chicken’ after a brief chat he decides to hike on . He leaves us with news about the trail further on .

   
 
 Beyond Kennedy Meadows are the High Sierras , a mountain range that is said to be the jewel in the crown of the PCT . At the moment they are snow packed , which means that they are pretty much impassible . I begin to wonder about a lengthy trail diversion . So that I can rejoin the trail after the worst of the snows . 

  
We talk more about the trail ahead of us ..Above us on the porch are a huge pair of Elk Antlers . I wonder if I will see one on my journey .

 big toe bonding with his pack 
Time to hit the hay .. Off to Sulpher Springs at first light..need a good rest before then . 

Another satisfying day on the trail . 

Blister count :2

Day 21 mile 303

 We make a big breakfast of eggs sausage and beans . Then we wait around for our trail angel ,Janette , to pick us up . We organised for her to pick us up at 11am , but by 10am its clear we are all getting itchy feet . 

  

The trail has an allure and a power over us now . We are in its thrall! Janette arrives and we throw our packs into the back of her truck , she drives us to the trailhead and we make some adjustments and begin the days walk . 

always do your best

Today for me is an important walk , Im going to climb Mount Baden Powell , named after the founding father of the Cub Scout movement . I experienced my first outdoor adventures through the Scout movement and feel very grateful for those early formative challenges . So today im going to “Do my best !” , stay focused and remember my scouting days .

  

On the map its only 8miles to the top of the mountain, but saying that , it turns out to be quite an adventure ,snow up on the path makes slow going . Switch back after switchback after switchback , eventualy being submerged in snow and ice.A couple of times I totaly loose the pathway and Im grateful for the company and skills of the ‘pack’. We press on using GPS to navigate our way around some tricky turns , and use our ingenuity and gile to stay on our feet . 

wing it in action

By the time we top-out at over 9000ft we have a real sense of achievement. The views are truly spectacular and the trees and landscape are truly magnificent .

  

big toe , wing it and jukebox

 I hit 300 miles today and am planning on my next patch , so its a beautiful bit of serendipity that some other hiker has left a patch in the sign-in register at the top of Mount Baden Powell . I see it as a good sign ,and I put it in my pack to sew on next Zday. 

  

Wing-it slips on his bum and comes up laughing , I enjoy being in the company of people who dont take it all too seriously . We pick our way carefully down towards the snow line . 

 

be prepared
 
Later we take a long winding downhill to ‘Little Jimmys Campground’ where im told the bears are a real nuisance . I hide my food bag in an unused fire pit and keep my fingers crossed i dont loose my Snickers bars tonight .

bear country

We sit around a picnic table and eat , drink tea and fix our blisters . The talk turns to the day ahead , planning to detour around an ‘endangered species zone’ that means we will have to make an extended road walk . Maps and aps are drawn out to try and make sense of the diversion , but it only adds to the general confusion . One by one the lads hit the hay . I find myself up last , trying to edit some photos . I hit the hay satisfied that Ive relived a bit of my childhood today . I even have a patch to prove it !

I wake in the middle of the night and the full moon is so bright its like someone is shining a torch in my face . I listen to the sound of the pines blowing and am once again in the lap of nature , i hear a rustle and think maybe its a bear . Its Guss getting out of his tent to answer the call of nature . Ha ha ! 

Blister count :3

Day 20 Zday

I woke up ,gotta outa bed a put a comb across my head …made my way outside and had a smoke ,somebody spoke and i went into a dream …
  

Next thing i knew , I was in the Evergreen dinner talking to my friend Edwina Hayes . There was a sign about coffee and I knew that it would speak to her , she used it for her album cover ‘Good things happen over coffee’ . 
 

https://g.co/kgs/7QZhu 
The eggs where perfect in the dinner . I talked to ‘So far’ and ‘So good’ they are from Newcastle in the UK and they know far more about the PCT than yours truly .  They talked about the hard path on  and the possibiltys to skip some miles .

  
We talk of plans and routes , Im not sure about directions , as there is some weather coming in , and some ice up in the hills . I want to do the next section as the mountain has some symbolic significance to me . 

Later  Big Toe re-emerges and we hug ! Excellent , I have my trail buddy back . He hitch-hiked from the Cahojn pass and is ready and raring to go . Its so good to be reunited . Lets get singing !!

  
  
We book into a lovely chalet and agree on a Zero here, before a big walk to Agua Dulcae that is six days off . I spend the rest of the day shopping and watching the footy . Its not all about walking alone . We are planning a feast and a big sleep. 

  
Liverpool beat Everton 4-0 and ‘wing-it’ and I are in bliss . We have a few beers and some chicken    wings and I know that I will sleep like  a log tonight . Thankyou Mr Klopp. 

 Sakho on his noggin!! 
  
The only flowers i see all day are outside the hardware store and i click photos on the phone , just to record my procsimity to the fabled route 66 .

  

 get your licks
The local Harley population is massive . Hope we get a lift back to the trail on the back of one tommorow morning !!

Blister count : 3   

Day 19 mile 283

  
The sun rises on another trail day . Last night the cayotes let loose their howls to the moon . It was a moving moment to awake to the moon and the call of the wild . 

Today im heading to Wrightwood .’Wing-it!’,Guss and I spent the night sleeping in a dry river bed , today we are going to walk a formidable crest. We have to climb 8000 feet over 15miles or so . Breakfast is a cup of Irish tea ,and we are off . Its first light and Im hoping to avoid the hardest rays of the sun today . Out here next to the Mojave desert its plus 90 by lunchtime , and I dont want to be hiking in that thankyou kindly !

  
I make good progress over the first 8miles , but its a never ending rise . After a few hours I decide to imagine im in an Esher painting. You know the one that they are all walking up a stair case that never ends . It seems easier that way . I try to think about not thinking about thinking ..it works for a while . 

  
The scenery is amazing , every spur on the path offers beautiful panoramas , and each saddle i cross opens up to new horizons . The snow capped mountains and the pine trees offer cool relief from the heat I know is just a mile below me . 

  

Its so much easier on my feet today , I feel like im honed down and tuned up . I can crank out miles and slip through time . Its like ive become tuned to the trail . I stop momentarily beneath a great pine for some trail mix and a mouthful of water . I can feel the breath of the mountain . It comes in waves , fresh with the scent of pine .Im so glad to have this peace today . I feel like its all mine , everything I see and everything I feel . The lizards skit , and im walking again. 

  
I hit Acorn Trail at about 15 miles , its a 3 mile walk to town from up here , but I have to resupply . The next resuplly will be six days away , so I take the steep slope downwards into a beautiful ski-resort town that is full of log cabins and chalets . 

  
Wing-it! Has made it down before me . His real name is Ian and he is also a Liverpool FC fan . He and I have hit it off easy and we share a beer on his cabin porch he has rented for his big Zday tommorow . 

I check out the local convenience store . They offer free hotdogs to PCTers .. I chat to the owner . He interviews me for his PCT blog and takes my photo outside his store . He proudly shows me a picture of David Beckahm who came through here yesterday to fill up his motorbike . I smile and think of footy .

 
Tonight me and Wing-it are planning on a Mexican feed and a 5cent margarita night at the resturaunt around the corner . 

Ive washed behind me ears , brushed me teeth and had me laundry done . Now to watch the Liverpool highlights on me phone . 
Blister count : 3