Welcome home party

Hello!  Now that the traveler is home, I am planning a little party so everyone can see him (last chance to see the crazy red beard before I make him shave it!).  For those of you that are close enough to San Diego to join, please consider this your invite!

Info:

Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7 pm

Blind Lady Ale House at 3416 Adams Ave.

 

Give me a shout if you think you’re going to make it.  You can call/text me at 559-280-4696 or sarah.hutmacher@gmail.com.  They don’t take reservations but I am going to try and stake out enough space for us, so I’m trying to keep a general headcount.  Grab a beer and see some of Stephen’s pictures.  The more the merrier.  Hope you have a chance to stop by!

And thanks to all of you for supporting Stephen on this adventure!

S

 

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PCT Complete!

207 days on the trail, 2663.5 miles, and 5 weeks of hiking in snow, and Stephen and Dances crossed the border into Canada on November 18, 2012 at 5:30 pm!  What an incredible achievement!

Stephen has wonderful pictures to share, which we will certainly be posting soon.  We are spending a few days in Canada (went to Victoria and are now in Vancouver), but I figured that since we have a little Wifi here, I’ll post a couple of pictures.  These are pilfered from Dances’s blog (we haven’t downloaded Stephen’s photos yet), but I figure you guys are probably waiting to hear that he’s not frozen in the wilderness, so I figured I’d better post something!

Below, frozen whiskers and posing at Monument 78, the Northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail!

 

We’ll post more when we get home…

Last week on the trail!

I spoke to Stephen yesterday, and he is in Stehekin, WA at the top of Lake Chelan.  It has now been over 200 days since he began this trip!  He is is 2,574 miles into the trail, so he’s got 81 miles to the Canadian border and the Northern Boundary marker of the Pacific Crest Trail.  WOW!

He sounded good.  A little worn out, but I would say he’s probably earned that.  They are now hiking with snowshoes, which is a bit slower.  Now that he’s been hiking through snowy, cold weather, the trail has gotten somewhat less enjoyable, but Stephen says there have been moments where spectacular vistas or the sense of feeling 2500 miles under his boots have made it worth it.  But I think he is finally ready to be home.

And speaking of that, I bought plane tickets for me to go up there, and for the both of us to fly home!  I will fly up this Saturday, and we will both fly back on Wednesday before Thanksgiving (in time to take Stephen up to spend time with family over the holiday).  I fly into Bellingham, WA, and will drive my rental car (better get a 4×4) over the border and then east to pick him up at Manning Park, British Columbia.

Can’t wait!

Washington

About 200 miles to go!  Stephen is north of Snoqualmie Pass in a pretty remote part of Washington.  Between Snoqualmie and the next resupply point (Skykomish) there aren’t any roads at all!

Stephen has been getting snowed on quite a bit.  He figured out that his tent stays waterproof for about 4 nights, at which point the various leaks result in him being pretty wet (and therefore, pretty cold).  In fact, he had icicles in his tent the other night when he called me!  But he is still hiking, and he and Dance are still moving along!  But they are making somewhat slower progress than they have been so far.  Between walking in a foot of powder, cold weather, and shorter days, they are hiking about 15 miles a day.

Despite the cold (or maybe because of it), the scenery has been spectacular.  Stephen called me from Bellevue, WA this past week, and shared some photos.  Some hikers who they’d met earlier this year who had hiked a section of the PCT live in Bellevue, and drove up to pick them up at Snoqualmie Pass.  They spent a day in town running their gear through the dryer, warming up, and eating well.  Stephen hasn’t been able to use his camera much because of the weather, but Dances has a camera and shared some of her pictures.  (And I just shipped Stephen our waterproof, freezeproof camera, so he’ll have the chance to take some pictures as they get close to Canada.)

 

Fall colors.

A herd of elk.

Mountain goats.

Mount Rainier.

 

Snow day!

Skykomish is located at Stevens Pass (how appropriate).  Stephen is expecting to be there on Tuesday (ish, it’s getting hard to estimate durations).  It looks like he’ll be facing more rain and snow, but he’s getting so close!  I think we’re looking at an end date around Veterans Day.  Can’t wait to see him again!

Winter on the Trail

Well, Stephen said the beautiful autumn lasted all of one week…  He called me yesterday from White Pass (along Highway 12) in Washington.  He had picked up his resupply and checked into a hotel for a night to dry off.  Apparently after he got into Washington state, it started and raining…and pretty much hasn’t quit.  Except to turn into ice storms and snow.

His gear got pretty soaked through on the first day of rain, which meant a wet and cold couple of days.  But, he did have some time to rethink his strategy for staying dry for these last few weeks!  He spent last night in a hotel, ran his stuff through the dryer (thawed out his fingers) and got back on the trail today.  There were clear skies today and hopefully through tomorrow, before the lousy weather sets in again.  But now the has a plan to try to stay dry, and at his next resupply at Snoqualmie Pass, he will have a huge box full of gear that I bought for him last night, including a tarp, sleeping bag liner, a couple dry-bags, garbage bags, wool socks, hand warmers, and more.  Between a little more rain-preparedness experience and better gear, hopefully he can kick this trail’s butt!  Only 350 miles to Canada, which means over 2300 miles of trail under his boots.

Holy.  Shit.  (Sorry, Grandma…)

Send  your warm, cozy thoughts Stephen’s way!  One way or another, he’ll be done in a few weeks!

Washington, Here He Comes!

Two states down (but really, who are we kidding?  California is practically 3 states on its own…)

Stephen has crossed the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River and has entered Washington State, putting him 2,200 miles into the adventure!  Whoa.

And I just got back from another visit, probably the last one before Stephen finishes.

Stephen’s dad John and I flew up to Troutdale, east of Portland, on Friday morning.  It was super windy on the way in and we had a very…exciting approach to the airport.  John of course was very calm (and I hope I was at least acting that way).  But we landed no problem of course.  We drove into Cascade Locks and wandered a bit to find the trail and look around.  We beat Stephen by about an hour, long enough for a bowl of clam chowder and a coffee.  And then he just walked right up to the front of the little restaurant!

Stephen looks great!  He’s getting pret-ty beard-y.  He told us about his last few weeks…

He’s been hiking with a friend named Dances with Lizards (ok to shorten to Dances or Lizard).  They have been passing each other on and off since Southern California, and have finally teamed up for this last section.  Stephen says it has just turned into fall in the last few weeks.  Lovely!

 

Stephen has made it all the way through the state of Oregon without rain!  I suppose the tradeoff for dry weather was those pesky wildfires…probably not worth it.  Even with the dry weather, he has seen some beautiful scenery!  On their way toward the Columbia River, they skirted Mt. Hood, and Stephen said that that was quite the hike… The mountain is made of glacial silt, which is apparently about the texture of flour.  With 40 mph winds, it only took a few minutes to have ears, eyes, and nose full of silt.  By the time we saw Stephen a few days later, he still looked like he’d been antiqued!  They were grateful for a stop at the buffet at Timberline Lodge (I think they may have lost money on these couple of PCT hikers though!!),

   

Dances was meeting up with family/friends for the weekend too, so we didn’t get a chance to see her.  But when Stephen found us, his dad launched a mission to make up Stephen’s five months of calorie deficit in one weekend.   Stephen gladly sat down with us at the restaurant for some chicken strips, fries and coke.

We stayed at a hotel in Troutdale, and met up with John’s cousins Bill and Cindy for dinner at Edgefield, a McMenamins restaurant with beautiful grounds.  We went to a pub and (of course) ate more food.  And they even came bearing gifts!  Stephen got  a cozy scarf for the chilly weather up ahead, and even I got a lovely handmade infinity scarf (thanks Cindy!!).  This is Stephen practicing for Washington (imagine him with the down jacket though…):

We went to Portland on Saturday and ate a great lunch and beer at Deschutes Brewery (yum), followed by ice cream at Salt and Straw (a fancy hipster ice cream parlor with flavors like Pear with Bleu Cheese, Coffee and Bourbon, and Cheddar Apple Pie), followed by burgers and truffle fries with Bill and Cindy.  We also had a chance to watch some football with John’s Uncle Ed, and met up with friends from high school, Amelia and Chris for beers at Lucky Lab Brewery!  Stephen was ready for a break from trail food!  Compared to all this, he’s going to be bummed to go back to potato flakes and spam…

On Sunday, we went to breakfast back at Edgefield with Gwen and her daughter (where Stephen had Chilequiles and Chicken Fried Steak!).  We also went to Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in Oregon.

 

Getting Stephen back on the trail was a bit hard, as usual.  But we sampled a couple home-brews from our friend Andy (including a Stout plus Bacon plus Bacon!) back at the Bridge of the Gods, and Stephen changed back into trail clothes.  His pack is heavy with some new cold weather gear, but at that point, he had 506 miles to go…and by the time I’m writing this, fewer than 450!  We left for the flight home, and he waited another hour or two for Dances to arrive back on the trail before walking across that half-mile bridge into the last state before the Canadian border!

He definitely wanted me to tell everyone that he misses all of you!  I think being lonely for everyone has been the hardest part of being on the trail!  I’m definitely not counting down the days…but we’re getting close!  Thanks again John for letting me tag along on your visit!

And now, just because John flew us over some incredible areas on our way up there, I’m sharing a few of my shots from the plane… Half Dome and Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Crater Lake, smoke under the Three Sisters, and Mt. Thielsen (which Stephen climbed to the tip-top of, believe it or not).

 

 

 

2,000 Miles Down!

This has been a busy week at work, so I haven’t added any updates.  But I have heard from Stephen twice this week and now that my work event is over, I’m adding an update.  He called last night, and he has now officially crossed the 2,000 mile mark!  He arrived last night at the Big Lake Youth Camp in Sisters, OR, a Seventh Day Adventist summer camp that is friendly to PCT hikers.  The camp is shut down now that summer is over, but they are still accepting hiker resupply boxes.

Stephen called me from there yesterday and from Elk Lake earlier this week, and he’s doing great!  The nights have started getting cold, so I have a shopping list of cold weather clothes to ship him in his next resupply.  He’s finally worn out the rainfly for his tent, or as we call it Pedro Dos.  Good timing…no protection from the rain now that he’s in the famously rainy Pacific Northwest.  I called The North Face to see if I could buy a replacement.  The fly for his tent has been backordered for months, but they have the fly for the predecessor for his tent, which is almost exactly the same dimensions and their technician thinks it’ll work if Stephen ties it up.  The best part?  They are shipping for free directly to Stephen on the trail! Very cool, North Face!  Thanks.

Stephen has been hiking with another hiker named Lizard (I don’t actually know her real name?).  She started the trail with her sister and dad, but both have them have stopped hiking due to some injuries.   The three of them have been about on pace with Stephen for this whole hike.  She has actually met a bunch of Stephen’s family…Rachel and Katie met all three of them at Lake Edison.  John met them in Mammoth while he was waiting for us to arrive.  And my parents met her in Tuolumne Meadows when they picked me up.  She and Stephen have been picking up their speed with the intention of getting through to the Northern Terminus, and really covering some territory.

At Big Lake Youth Camp, they were allowed to stay in one of the camp tents an use the showers and laundry.  Nice!  Stephen’s resupply package hadn’t arrived yet, but the camp host offered to drive him down to the post office this morning AND take him to get a chicken fried steak for breakfast in Sisters when they went in for the mail.  That fact dominated probably 50% of our conversation yesterday, haha.

Next up, Stephen has about 154 miles to hike to get to the Columbia River, The Bridge of the Gods, Cascade Locks, OR, and the border to Washington State.  He plans to be there in a week, on Friday.  If the weather stays nice, he will be getting a visit there from his dad and I!!  Keep your fingers crossed that the weather gods are on our side!

Southern Oregon

Man, Stephen is so creative.  Here’s some sweet trail art he made when he crossed the 1800 mark south of Crater Lake, OR.  Stephen is currently hanging out at the Shelter Cove Resort on the shores of Odell Lake.  He arrived on Wednesday and is waiting for a resupply box I shipped him (the first one that I didn’t ship early enough to beat him to the designated spot…I guess not too bad considering I have been sending resupply boxes for 5 months), which hopefully arrived this afternoon.

Shelter Cove has Wifi, so Stephen and I exchanged a couple of emails yesterday.  He says that the last stretch has been pretty quiet.  The through-hikers that are still hiking the PCT are pretty strung out now, so Stephen doesn’t come across a lot of other hikers anymore.  Plus, the wildfires seem to have limited the number of day hikers and other backpackers.  Other than being a little lonely, he seems to be doing pretty well!  I don’t know a lot about what he’s been up to, but he sent me some great photos, so I am sharing them with you!  Below, a pretty stream (not bad for being taken with a phone…) and Crater Lake.

 

Stephen also hiked to the summit of Mt. Thielsen (below), which he said was pretty, but unfortunately the smoky air is still limiting the scenic vistas somewhat.  In the second photo, the dark gray color is fulgurite, an unusual glasslike mineral formed when the mountain has been struck by lighting so many times.  Pretty cool!  I was glad to see the blue skies in the photo while he’s sitting next to the giant lighting rod…

 

Stephen also said that at one point a swarm of giant black wasps that actually pinned him in his tent for four hours!  He was about to finally pack up the tent when this wasp tackled a yellow jacket out of the air and ate him!  Badass.

 

So now he’s here, looking at this view from the lodge, hopefully enjoying the TimTams I put in his last resupply shipment.

He’ll be back on the road tomorrow.  He’s got another wildfire and trail closure coming up in about 60 miles or so, south of Hwy 242, but hopefully this time, the detour will be pretty painless.  I guess we’ll see!  Stephen is now just about 3/4 of the way done with this hike, and already halfway through Oregon.  He may have a one more visit from his dad (and maybe me?) in his future before the end of the trail, but he’s getting close!  The trail in Oregon and Washington are much more remote than in California, so he’s got plenty of reflection time!

Bye for now.  S.

 

California…check!

Stephen has crossed the border into Oregon!  After 1,700+ miles of hiking through desert, the Sierras, and the beginning of the Cascades, he has walked the last steps of this trek in his home state.

I arrived in Medford, OR on Friday night and drove down to meet Stephen about 30 minutes outside of Etna, CA.  There are some sizable fires burning in the Seiad Valley near the CA-OR border, so unfortunately that section of the trail is closed.  The good news is that the timing worked out pretty well with my visit, so I was able to shuttle him around the fires in a vehicle (as opposed to him trying the hitchhiking/bus/walking on the side of the highway combo, like he had to do around one of the last fires).  Have your own wheels makes you more flexible…go figure.  🙂

I drove up to the spot where the PCT crossed a little road (one of the possible meet-up points Stephen and I had discussed the week before on the phone, and the one I thought would be the most likely).  It was closing in on midnight, so I was scanning the side of the road for some sign of him or the PCT and saw the blinking light of Stephen’s headlamp.   Found him!  He’d arrived after dark and waited, and had flashed the light at the one other car that had driven by (a nice lady who actually stopped to see if he needed help!).  We drove to a trailhead a little up the road to Taylor Lake, where we camped for the night.

The next morning (after egg, ham and cheese croissants in Etna), we headed back toward Oregon.  We had views of Mt. Shasta, but there was a lot of smoke in the air.  Stephen had been breathing it for a few weeks and had a bit of a ragged coug, but was otherwise in good health.  He is developing legs of steel and quite the bushy, red beard!  We ate and showered in Ashland, OR, explored Lithia Park, ate ice cream and pizza (and then Stephen had tamales and frozen yogurt for second dinner), and window shopped.  We had a pretty mellow day overall.

The following day (Stephen’s 27th birthday!)  we hit the road for Grants Pass to go on a jet boat tour of the Rogue River!  These boats fly down the river, I bet they are something like 45 miles an hour.  They only need about 6-8 inches of water to move along.  It’s pretty spectacular.  The boat alternates between racing, drifting to check out wildlife, and spinning around 360s.  We went from Grants Pass to Hellgate Canyon.  So fun!  (below is one of their promo pics, but it’s pretty cool anyway…)

We also went wine tasting in Applegate Valley and relaxed in some Adirondack chairs sipping a nice Roussanne at Schmidt Family Farms.  A wonderful afternoon!  We finished off the evening watching the new Bourne movie in Medford.  I gave him some birthday presents…new sunglasses (he lost his on the trail a while back) and a iPod shuffle with new music.  Stephen wanted me to say a big thank you to Grandma Hut for the spending money (which we used for the jet boats!), to Bob and Kay for the CASE of snickers bars and the kindle books, and to his mom for the new shoes and for sending me up to Oregon (thanks from me too)!  All in all, Stephen was very pleased with his birthday!

 

I dropped him back off on the trail on Monday after a picnic lunch from the Rogue River Creamery.  To get past all the smoke and wildfires, I ended up dropping him off at Fish Lake where the PCT crosses Highway 140.  Stephen was a happy boy.  Ready for the quick jaunt across Oregon (which is only 457 trail miles total!)  He’ll be at the Columbia in a heartbeat!

 

Past the Halfway Mark!

Okay, so Stephen is officially more than halfway done (well, quite a bit more now, he’s about 1425+ miles in)!

It’s been pretty quiet on the Stephen front for the last few weeks. He’s been in a very remote part of the northern Sierras (north of Tahoe has been a pretty dead zone as far as cell phones are concerned!). Plus, the forests make it hard to charge the solar charger to charge his phone.

Anyway! I’ve spoken to him from pay phones twice this past week, so…updates!

Stephen’s dad met him at Echo Lake at Hwy 50, and the boys got to spend the day (and a night in a bed with a shower and laundry) in South Lake Tahoe. Below is a photo of Echo Lake.

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Past Tahoe, Stephen headed toward Lassen and passed through some beautiful country!

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The lake is Aloha Lake (I think), and and Stephen said he slept at a pool just near the waterfall one of the nights on the trail. Oh, and he shared the trail with a few grouse! I don’t know too many details about this part of the trail, so Stephen will have to fill this in later!

Next, Stephen started nearing the wildfires that are currently burning in Northern California. Because he hadn’t been able to check in much, we weren’t sure where he was on the trail exactly. Just as all of us back home were starting to stress out a little (ok, maybe a lot for my part) about just how close he was to the fires, I got a phone call! Stephen called from a pay phone at Bucks Lake. Apparently the Cal Fire folks were turning hikers off the trail there, just south of the town of Belden. The Feather River (at Belden) was serving as a fire break for the Chip Fire, which by then had burned more than 60,000 acres and was only 55% contained. Stephen ended up hitching a ride with the owner of the Bucks Lake resort to Quincy to the east, then took a bus to Susanville. He got some groceries and supplies, and then tried to get his way back to the PCT. By then, there was another fire closing the trail north of Lassen. So instead of heading to Chester (which was the plan when we spoke, since it is only 7 miles from the trail), he ended up needing to hitchhike more than 50 miles from the side of the highway. Stephen has gotten rides before with strangers, but usually other hikers, trail angels, or people who offered. This was his first thumb up on the side of the highway experience, and as he said, was an exercise is rejection. He sat for two hours, then walked another two hours before a nice girl from Ashland, Oregon picked him up. Who could say no to this face?!

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I was able to get his packages from the sections that were burning forwarded to later spots on the trail, and overnighted him some supplies. He got back on the trail at Old Station, CA. The next day, he began to cross the lava fields, which meant a hot, exposed day and 30 miles without water. And to make matters worse, Stephen says the smoke from the wildfires was pretty nasty. He had a view of the Shasta Fire and all of the smoke to the west (another one that he is skirting, but shouldn’t have to cross!), below…

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Stephen is now making great progress. He called me today from the McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, where he picked up another resupply box. He said the falls were really pretty. He seems to be happy and in good spirits.

He will be meeting his mom (and hopefully sister and family friend Chris) over the Labor Day weekend at Ash Camp trailhead at the McCloud River. I’m sure that this means he’ll have a couple great meals in his future! And I happen to know his mother is getting him some (desperately needed) new shoes for his birthday, so he’ll be thrilled to get that too!

And my exciting news is that I bought plane tickets (well, actually this is part of his mom’s birthday gift to him/me too!) to Oregon to see Stephen for his birthday which is coming up on the 9th! I can’t wait! If anyone has a card or note they want me to deliver (or a gift, you know, like a new bowling ball or a dumbbell set) give me a call/text to coordinate!

I’m sure Rachel will have some pictures for me to share next week!