Tag Archives: appalachian trail

Day 2. The Arizona Weather is Confused.


3/8/15

Mile 11 to mile 37. 26 mile day. Our first marathon! 

Woke up at 6:20 after some reasonably good sleep. 12 hours of off and on sleep only bothered by the fact that so much condensation has formed in my tarp that it actually rained ice cold water all over my bag and my face for much of the night causing me to get just a little clammy. Finally this stopped right before sunrise because all the condensation froze to the top of my tarp. It got pretty cold!



With hands freezing we packed up or ice laden shelters and got walking just before the sun rose over some distant mountains. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the air was crisp and clean with the smell of pine! 
The walk down from the miller peak area was very steep and finally gave way to some nice ponderosa pine forest and then down farther along a flowing creek that was lined with sycamores! Still saw some immigrant trash every now and then, a milk jug here, some candy spelled in Spanish over there. 



We were spooked when two quail or pheasants exploded into flight some 15 feet in front of us. It’s crazy how loud a bird can flap its wings. Before you can even register what just occurred, they’re long gone. Also saw a lot of cows around! 
We ate lunch near another creek and dried out gear out from the moisture last night. Then out of nowhere it got really windy and cloudy. A few minutes later it was raining. Not hard but annoying. Then it stopped for about a half hour and then it really started raining for about 20 minutes and then it was back to warm and sunny. Throughout the day it was on and off sprinkles and sun. 







Drying the condensation at lunch.

Most of the trail today was a beautiful open savannah. Grassland with trees spaced out from one another, none more than 20 feet tall. Water sources more numerous than in the data book. Lots of containers of water for cows, and every creek was flowing. 





Manzanitas!



All listed water sources are flowing and full! 




Set up camp around mile 37 and watched the sun go down. Body feeling pretty good, not one blister and just the usual sore feet after a long day. Patagonia tomorrow! Our first trail town! Here’s our campsite! 



Day 1: Some of Everything and Lots of Climbing.

3/7/15

From the Coronado national monument visitors center to Mexican border to mile 11. About 15 miles total, about 6000 feet elevation gain.

Got in our Arizona sunshine Tours shuttle at about 6 am and drove the hour and a half to the Coronado visitor center. It was a pleasant ride with a CD playing about the history of the area we were in and the driver was very nice, let us stop at a quick shop for some last minute stuff. 

We then began a 2.4 mile hike up a very steep pass probably gaining 1500 or more feet in elevation until we intersected the AZT at mile 1 where we then took a very steep trail down almost 1000 feet to the monument and had our pictures taken in Mexico by a nice couple names Sue and Todd. Then 1000 feet back up to the trail and headed north towards Montezuma Pass (which is only .7 miles from the cut off down toward Mexico so if you can get a ride there you can save a few miles and a killer climb.)

Here’s Bill Muarry and me in Mexico at the monument. It’s in Mexico so you actually have to go through the border to get a picture with it! Bill Muarry was a friend I met on the AT back in 2012. She got her name from some other hikers who really wanted to give out the name to someone and she adopted it because it would be funny and confusing in the trail registers. Thru hikers reunite! Then we started the real climb up Millers Peak, another 2500 feet up, to over 9000 feet above sea level. We passed several old copper mine shafts.  The trees went from scrub oak to pine then to juniper and finally into a forest of Douglas Fir and other firs and spruce I didn’t know. It looked like a northern boreal forest!

Then you go up and down a little bit, passing bathtub spring which is exactly that.

Near the top of the climb we were suddenly in a quaking aspen forest with occational areas covered in snow.

Every now and then you’d also see trash from illegal aliens such as this. They carried 15% mas and didn’t even eat it!

After that the weather got gloomy. It’s cold, overcast and the wind is blowing pretty good. Also considering I got less than 1 hour of sleep last night in the airport with too much on my mind, we decided to set up camp at 4:15. We’re beat and hitting the hay. All downhill tomorrow. Oh and I found these precious babies. 😊



Getting There is Tough

Woke up today at 7:30 and it was 1 degree out. At least it’s sunny! Took off for the airport and continued desperately tried finding a ride to the southern terminus. I tried all the southern passage stewards with no luck but did learn a lot of useful info from them (thanks AZT trail stewards!) finally after about 25 failed contacts I reserved a pick up from Arizona sunshine tours. They will come pick us up at 6 A.M. from a hotel, walking distance from the Tucson airport, then drive us to the Coronado national monument visitor center just a few miles from the Mexican border for $75 each. More than I was hoping but hey, they come right to us and take us very close to a place that’s pretty far from anything.

Met up with my friend Bill Fuckin Murray during my layover in the Atlanta airport.  Sleeping in the airport tonight. Tomorrow the journey begins!



 

Reptiles and Amphibians of the PCT

I’ve been researching everything about the flora and fauna of Arizona. This is something I do and have been doing since I was a kid before I go anywhere new. Everyone knows what I’m all about. The critters, the plants, THE MUSHROOMS! Unfortunately I don’t expect to find many fungi in the dry conditions. But holy crap the reptiles… The deserts are reptile heaven. What I have to look forward to in Arizona are desert tortoises, Gila monsters, whiptails, collard lizards, chuckwallas, and dozens more species of lizard, 52 species of snakes including THIRTEEN different rattlesnake species. I love rattlesnakes. Let me help ease the fear of them. They are probably the most compromising dangerous animals in the United States. Think about it. They have good camouflage and will try to stay still, not rattling and go unnoticed if possible. I can attest to this because on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania I walked right past a big fat timber rattler that was not even a yard off the trail and then did a double take because that big stick looked odd. I walked back and got a good look at him. I couldn’t believe it! Just right there by the trail and he didn’t curl up or rattle at all! Turns out Buzz Lightyear walked right past it a few minutes earlier and it didn’t move either! He thought it was just another Rat snake. It wasn’t until I got close taking pictures that this fella coiled up and the started rattling. After camouflage fails or they get nervous that you’re too close they have a freaking rattle that they use to say, “Hey, uh yea your getting kind of close brah and it’s making me nervous. But I’ll keep rattling so you know right where I’m at and you can go around me. Kthxbye.” What other animal warns you of it’s presence for they good of both parties? And guess what… Snakes don’t have ears! They can’t even hear their own rattle! So all if you who carry bear bells in the desert to alert the rattlesnakes you’re coming, bad news. They can’t hear them.
Rattlers aren’t looking for a fight. A rattlesnake is no match for a human at all. Any person that can pick up a rock or stick has a massive advantage over an animal that can’t defend itself by any other means than biting. And then you hear the stories of rattlesnakes chasing after people. I just laugh at this. If you’ve ever met a rattlesnake, you know that they’re a fat short snake compared to most. And although they can strike amazingly fast, they really aren’t quick to move across the ground compared to other snake species. No contest at all for any person who can run more than a few miles an hour. The fastest snake on earth is the black mamba and they clock in at a top speed of 12 miles an hour which is hardly a sprint for the average person. Don’t even get me started on all the Mojave green rattlesnake crap we heard from locals on the PCT. One guy we were hitching with gave us some weird papers talking about how sinister they are and that a boy just sitting on his porch had a Mojave latch on to his leg and he couldn’t get it off until his brother pried it’s jaws off and then venom was spraying all over. I’m not even kidding about this. Anyways… I digress.
Here are some of the AWESOME reptiles and amphibians I came across on the Pacific Crest Trail!

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Day 1 I came across this speckled rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii) just a few miles before Lake Morena.

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This guy was on eagle rock! It’s one of the many species of Sceloporus lizards. Not sure which one.

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Here’s another Sceloporus I found in Idyllwild. Check out his blue belly!

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A western patch nosed snake (Salvadora hexalepis) that was cruising around looking for lizards to chow on!

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This striped racer (Masticophis lateralis) was checking us out from under a bush next to Deep Creek!

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Twinkle’s most favorite lizard of all time. The horny toad! Phrynosoma blainvillii I think.

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This big guy started rattling at Twinkle, McButter and I heading up Mission Creek.

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While postholing in the high Sierra, I saw something in the bottom of a previous posthole. It’s was a freaking living frog! In this world of ice and rock this little guy was alive and well! Not too sure what he is other than cute.

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This garter snake was chowing down on a salamander when I crossed paths with it in Northern California!

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A California mountain kingsnake (Lampropeltis zonata!!!) I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to find one and she was so precious and gentle. Never tried to bite or struggle or musk, just calmly chilled with me until I put her down and she went on her way looking for snakes, rodents other tasty things.

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I went nuts when I found this widdle baby rubber boa (Charina bottae) in Oregon! Another snake I really wanted to see on the trail and it’s a precious baby! I bet you didn’t know there were boas in the US! In fact there are two! The rubber boa can be found all the way into Canada even. The other is the rosy boa and it’s found in Southern California and western Arizona.

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Caught this big Alligator Lizard (elgaria coerulea principis) in Ashland, Oregon with Mitra and Guthrie next to some “fairy ponds.” Though the common name sounds menacing, he was pretty chill as you can see!

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And then there was this guy… Big northern pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus) I found him right on the trail about 3 miles north of Ashland and it was still pretty early in the morning so he was slow and chilly. I pinned his head (gently) with one of my trekking poles and picked up his head right behind those big venom glands. I held him just firmly enough so he couldn’t wiggle is head around and get me. I held him for a bit in one hand and was taking pictures on my phone with the other hand because I was alone at the time. He was very calm and never even rattled his tail. I set him a little ways up the hill from the trail so he won’t be stepped on and put him down and he just slowly crawled towards some rocks! No aggression at all. One of the biggest adrenaline rushes of my life. To get up close and personal with wildlife, especially the ones less loved. Just like my hero Steve Irwin. Disclaimer… Don’t do this. Haha. I’ve been catching snakes my whole life and caught my first venomous one at 13 years old. I love them. I’m crazy about them. Don’t fear the snakes!
-Sheriff Woody
I wish there was a snake in my boot!

You Know You’re a Thru Hiker When…

I’ve been recently recalling many of the little things that occur on a thru hike that you don’t get to experience back here in the “normal” world. The small daily trail life things make me chuckle in hindsight. Here are some “you know you’re a thru hiker when…”

You wash your shirt and end up with some sort of salty human flavored tea… Extra strong.

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But you were proud of your salt lines!!!

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All abandon structures are fair game as home for the night.

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You’re not the only one at the top of the food chain.

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And feet always come out looking like this!

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And hell, you eat with these hands all day. My grandma would faint if she knew I ate without washing my hands out there.

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When sitting on an old couch next to a dumpster full of delicious food is something to celebrate! Another sentence grandma won’t understand.

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Bath time was certainly more scenic.

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Bridges are… Different…

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Hitch hiking is a common practice and you get to meet all sorts of interesting people… nurses, doctors, firefighters, tourists, semi drivers, Sketchy McSketcherton, trail angels, and lots of other outdoor enthusiast!

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Every meal is a picnic!

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You’ve witnessed or experienced catastrophic toe/foot damage. And then kept on hiking hundreds of miles anyway.

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Your shoes and socks freeze solid over night and you have to put them back on and melt them with your feet.

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One of the things about towns that excites you is being able to shit while sitting down. Yes, excited to use a port-a-potty.

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Anywhere it’s flat for 6′ x 3′ is fair game for camping.

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You become ravenous…

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And the trail magic… Thanks so much to all you trail angels out there!!!

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There are so many other things but this post is getting huge! 😄