Tag Archives: California

Faces Of Venice: A Collaborative Photography Project

Hello friends, it’s been a while.

I recently started a new job as a Digital Artist at a design studio in Venice, CA. It has been a fun opportunity with lots of learning to be done. I am using it as a springboard for myself to get back into something that I really love, photography. I haven’t been shooting regularly for some time and this is the perfect opportunity to resume my pursuit of this art form.

The people down here have so much character.

The people down here have so much character.

One thing I have noticed about successful artists is their constant motion towards refining their talents. In this vein I have started working on a collaborative photography project titled ‘Faces Of Venice’.

Jason, one of the wonderful souls working at J's Rentals on the Venice Boardwalk is a true Venice local and a perfect subject for our #FacesOfVenice project.

Jason, one of the wonderful souls working at J’s Rentals on the Venice Boardwalk is a true Venice local and a perfect subject for our #FacesOfVenice project.

Faces Of Venice is a series of portraits on Instagram detailing and documenting the locals of Venice, California. Here are a couple examples. Please follow along as we create what is turning into a very fun and exciting project.

Burning Man 2015 prep begins…

Yup, it’s December 2014 and we are already starting work for OKNOTOK at Burning Man in 2015.  Some call us insane, some roll their eyes and say its ‘too early’.  But if you are a Burner, ask yourself honestly, does it ever ‘stop’ once you are introduced to the culture and experience of Black Rock City?

2014-12-08 11.54.47While some will relish the time off between Burns, others continue building, making, and turning inspiration into reality,  lighting up the sky in August.  Without giving away the fun details about what is in the works for camp OKNOTOK, there will be some changes and new sights to behold.  Make sure you party with us on the Playa in 2015!

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Long ride in Topanga State Park

I often think about how ‘productive’ I am being when I have down-time from work.  After finishing up my freelance gig with The Tennis Channel, I am back to searching for the next work

First rain I've seen in Los Angeles in over two months.

First rain I’ve seen in Los Angeles in over two months.

opportunity.  Productivity shouldn’t only be measured in dollars.  I’m talking about physical training opportunities, running, hiking, biking, etc.  I should relish the time off from work that I have because it allows me to pursue the things I love and affords me the ability to push my body and stay in shape for the next ‘big adventure’.

With all this in mind, I managed to get out for a couple runs including a half marathon distance this past week.  My left ankle (previously sprained at Burning Man) didn’t appreciate this distance very much.  I don’t want to stop running but I think I will stick to less then 10 miles runs to keep the impact down and give my body time to heal itself.  I am trying to help it along with LOTS of hydration and using compression after strenuous activity to help recovery.  To keep the intensity up and reduce impact, I turned to biking this weekend with a nice long ride in Topanga State Park.

A trail sign in Topanga State Park, Santa Monica Mountains.

A trail sign in Topanga State Park, Santa Monica Mountains.

Since I have been in LA it seemed like I had to drive a significant distance to find good riding or trail running.  This Sunday was a great instance of discovery as I learned that access to Topanga State Park is only a 15 minute drive from my house.  I accessed the great trail system from the 405 highway at Mulholland drive.  Parking is at San Vincent Mountain Park near the Skirball Cultural Center.  From this location you can ride some serious distance on a mix of fire roads and single track.

From the Parker Mesa Overlook you can see Santa Monica and Venice quite clearly.

From the Parker Mesa Overlook you can see Santa Monica and Venice quite clearly.

 

 

I intended to do about 20 miles and ended up grinding out just over 30…on the single speed.  While my bike choice wasn’t great, the terrain offered amazing climbing opportunities.  I was able to do a loop instead of an out-and-back and managed just shy of 5,700 feet of climbing.  It’s funny how I feel like the mountains here don’t even begin to compare to Colorado – true but the climbing exists.  This ride offered views of the Pacific ocean with some blazing descents.

Map and elevation profile of a trail ride in Topanga State Park.

Map and elevation profile of a trail ride in Topanga State Park.

Adventures in the Sequoia National Forest

This weekend was a good one, full of well-documented adventure.  Oh how I love to get out of this terrible, oppressive sprawl.  It’s not so much the density of people, or even the urban-ness of an existence here.  Honestly, it’s the air, stagnant and thick with hot exhaust and particulate.  I’m certain that I’m shaving years off my life every time I take a deep breath of this city’s vapors.

Andrew navigates the craft.

Andrew navigates the craft.

We found ourselves packed like sardines into the black GTI.  It’s elegant German engineering lost beneath the provisions and equipment for four of us to enjoy a weekend of camping.  We sacrificed ergonomics and leg room (temporarily) for a taste of the natural world which exists somewhere outside this concrete labyrinth.  Speeding North, the early morning pinks and reds slowly began to illuminate the sky.  Every now and again I caught a glimpse of the PCT as it paralleled parts of our trek to the Southern Sierras.

Breakfast found us in an outdated beige and tan building serving Mexican inspired cuisine.  Juevos rancheros filled my belly and would give me some discomfort later.  Over cups of coffee my travel companions and I discussed the details of life.  We also discussed whether or not the painting of the waterfalls on the wall behind us had the ability to turn on, projecting tranquility on the patrons of this affordable dining establishment.  We never could find the switch.

The Desert

After eating up miles of asphalt through the desert and hugging the corners of a winding canyon, the People’s Car zipped us through the isolated town of Kennedy Meadows.  We blinked and it was gone, Tom’s disc gold course a blur on the side of the road.  Jeremy recorded high-definition, time-compressed video while Andrew piloted the black rocket ship through the pines.  Marcy and I grasped the ‘oh-shit’ handles and felt secure under the groceries and other assorted wares.

Choosing our campsite and erecting tents, we explored our new surroundings.  A curious place, this forest.  We found ourselves perched on the edge of a large meadow, three strands of barbed wire separating us from it’s golden openness.  Trees rose up giving luscious shade, shelter from the alpine sun and it’s radioactive ways.  We walked amongst these elements concluding that we were happy and eager to trek.

We began by eating, a great way to begin.  Setting off on foot, our objective was clear – a rocky outcropping rising up from the far edge of the meadow.  We chose it because it was a high point and we explorers are always drawn to these types of places.  You know what I mean.  A place high above everything that surrounds it.  A place aching with the freedom of unbridled views and brisk winds.  From this aerie perch we viewed the landscape as if it were a model, a perfectly represented miniature world stretching out below us and outward to the horizon.  We ate more food.  We scrambled across and gripped at the rock with our talons.

Jeremy navigates some rock terrain.

Jeremy navigates some rock terrain.

Upon returning to camp, we promptly assumed horizontal positions on the ground or in a hammock.  The shadows lengthened, the sun turned more golden.  The woods embraced our tired souls and comforted us with a quiet that only a living landscape can provide.

Waking abruptly, we got back into our transportation and drove on dirt roads, upwards to the Bald Mountain Fire Lookout.  A brisk walk saw us to the base of a steel tower rising upwards into the afternoon sky.  Our natural instinct as adventurers is to climb upwards, upwards, higher!  And right there, at the top of this metal geometric fortress was a man.  His duty: viewing this stunning landscape of granite.  He watches the heavens, carefully identifying Vulcan’s electrical outbursts, plotting the locations where they smash into the earth.  This wonderful BLM employee is named Tom.

Tom points to coordinates on his specialized apparatus.

Tom points to coordinates on his specialized apparatus.

A day fully enjoyed.  We retreat to the comfort of our dirt patch to kindle a fire and fill our stomachs.  All manner of fancy appetizers whet our pallets for some schlongs which Marcy tosses on the cast-iron grate above our flame.  Wine is uncorked.  Memories are shared.  In this tradition of eating, drinking, and enjoying the company of others, great bonds are forged between friends.  We take time to play with the camera at night, truly a fun group activity.  Later, as the last one awake, I bask in the warm glow of the coals, red and orange, pulsing radiant heat.

Day two greets us travelers with cold morning air.  Reluctantly our entourage breaks camp, eats cold yoghurt (Noosa, the best), and piles back into our vehicle.  We’re rolling further West through the forest, over a mountain pass, and into the Kern River Canyon.  The landscape is changing.  Gone is the dry, thin air that once desiccated our lips and noses.  Now, the shadow of large trees holds in the damp smell of the forest floor.  Lime green moss clings to the red, deeply-furrowed bark of old giants as we turn at a sign labeled ‘Trail of 100 Giants’.

That sense of insignificance we all feel in the presence of great things is washing over me from high above.  This colony of giants is both welcoming and unsettling.  Are these trees happy or vengeful?  Would they say to us, ‘thank you for preserving this grove’?  Or maybe, ‘fuck you Henry Ford’.  I’d like to think the former.  I just hope they don’t drop an un-needed branch on my head in an attempt to settle the score.

Marcy navigates the forest.

Marcy navigates the forest.

Our troop frolics and meanders through the ancient sentinels, heads cocked at an awkward angle to glimpse the highest reaches of the canopy.  Some of these trees are over two-hundred and seventy feet tall.  Strolling right up to them like they are old friends, we run our hands over their spongy bark and duck under their exposed roots or into their burned out centers.  This amusement park beats the hell out of anything made by the hands of men.  Individual cells organized themselves over millennia into these magnificent organisms.  How humans could commit such a crime as defiling this amazing planet that has nourished and provided for us is beyond my capacity of understanding.

The weekend is coming to an end and we must return to the coast.  We would love to remain in this mystical place, among rocks, sticks, and soil.  These places are not ours to keep.  Embracing the impermanence of ourselves we can embrace the impermanence of the world, the dynamic and chaotic collection of matter that makes up our reality.  Organizing and reorganizing, elements and thoughts blend together into a collective consciousness which vibrates and echoes out into the black void of the cosmos.

Photo Credit - Jeremy Rousch

Photo Credit – Jeremy Rousch

Jeremy’s photo really shows just how large these giants are.

Where the hell have I been?

I am JACKED right now.  The caffein in this americano is helping me remember days spent in the café in the town of Lone Pine, California, biding my time while my shin splints healed.  The further the PCT recedes into my rearview, the more precious the memories become that I can still hold onto.  Just last night Banana Boat and I enjoyed some FaceTime, recounting our glory days while we struggle to find as much pleasure in regular life.

My last post was back in July?  Wow.  I had just gotten off the trail and found myself newly located in Hollywood…Hollywierd.  If ever there were a place more at odds with my personality, I’d like to experience it, just for a moment for some perspective.  Believe it or not I am enjoying my time here.  I am enjoying my time with my Father and his partner, both of whom I have only seen occasionally in the past 10+ years.  I have also had the chance to re-connect with an old middle school friend not to mention make a bunch of new friends.  Overall the social experience here has been quite pleasant.  I am glad to report that the more places I find myself living, even temporarily, it’s always possible to find cool, interesting, genuine people.

The boys, the Man about to burn behind us.

The boys, the Man about to burn behind us.

Speaking of interesting social experiences, I just returned from Burning Man.  The only thing you REALLY need to know about the experience is that it was life-changing and I will be going back.  Without writing and exhausting narrative of my 12 days in the desert vortex, I feel like it is my duty to correct some common misconceptions about this gathering.  First of all, this is not a concert or music festival.  Music is a major part of the event but it is only part of the experience.  Not EVERYONE is nude.  In fact, naked or partially naked people are definitely a minority at Burning Man, although you might not think so based on popular images of the event.  Either way, not everyone chooses to whip out their goodies.  Along the same train of thought, Burning Man is not some crazy sex-romp.  Sure, it could be a sexual experience if one was seeking that kind of adventure but again, you would be a minority.  It was for a couple of these main reasons that previously I never attended the event – mostly because a significant other didn’t want me going to this magical place.  Understandable (although ridiculous at the same time if you really KNOW me).

So what IS Burning Man?  Well, you can read about the guiding principles on the BM website if you want a definition.  The best way I can describe the event is PURE LOVE.  I have never previously been in a social environment that is so caring and accepting of ‘the individual’.  EVERYONE is welcomed into the Black Rock Desert and received with a warm hug and respect.  In this desolate wasteland you will embody your truest self and everyone will love you for your bravery and honesty.  Ok, enough about that – the take home message here is that if you have EVER had even the slightest interest in Burning Man, you should go.  I will post a link as soon as our time-lapse video is done being edited and online.

After 12 days of travel, music, very little sleep, and immersion into this new culture, I returned to Los Angeles.

Since my return I have been very actively seeking work.  I am slowly wondering why I choose

Some graphic design fun

Some graphic design fun

such an obscure major in college.  I have applied to MANY jobs, most of which have not even returned phone calls or sent confirmation emails, assuring me they have received my resumé.  This is a competitive job market.  All (most) PA work on films is usually unpaid unless you have previous experience…ok.  Serving/restaurant jobs all require 2-4 years serving experience…ok.  Basically catch 22 kind of stuff.  I do have my second interview since getting here tomorrow.  It is what it is.

For President 2016

For President 2016

I have started doing some freelance graphic design on the side, building my portfolio and learning as I go.  My online portfolio can be found here if you have any interest.

I am trying to stay positive by doing fun things (that don’t cost much money) during the weekend when friends have time off from work.  Most recently we went down to San Diego county and surfed at San Onofre State Beach (just

Foot - 0  Shell - 1

Foot – 0 Shell – 1

North of the old nuclear reactor).  That evening we camped at the State Park.  Great time with great friends.  My friend Jeremy put together a great little video shot and edited entirely on his iPhone 6.  You can find it here, San OnofreSurf Day.

Morning drinking is the best drinking

Morning drinking is the best drinking

Ok, I’m losing interest so instead of rambling I will end this post.  Thanks for following along, will try to make the updates a bit more regular.

The last month in review

My eyes struggle to focus on the computer screen. Today I am on recharge. Sleep schedules have changed like the phases of the moon and today I’m waning. A little more then a month ago I was waking to first light and falling asleep at dusk. This memory feels like ages ago. Things are a little less regular these days, work dictating my cycle of rest and consciousness.

The whole time I have been unemployed, my inner dialog keeps telling me, ‘when you are really ready to work, you’ll find a job easily’. That theory that we can manifest our desires isn’t proving quite as easy as the book made it seem. I never counted on things just falling into place without any work though. Life this past year has been somewhat challenging and I don’t expect that to just change. So here I am in LA trying to get something going. I have to say, things are looking positive.

I started writing freelance for an online blogging site for which the pay is terrible. I look at this job as more of a training opportunity to hone my writing skills. One of the biggest challenges is writing on topics which I have no knowledge of. This requires research to produce interesting copy. I have also been working with a family friend, preparing his house to go on the market. I did a bit of sanding, staining, cleaning, yard work, and landscaping. In the evenings I usually make the time to go for a run up the Maxwell fire road in Wilacre Park.

On the weekends I have been working in Santa Monica with some friends to prepare camp OKNOTOK for Burning Man which is just a few short weeks away. I helped Jeremy construct the frame for his outdoor workspace/shed. As a large team we disassembled the new tower, painted a lot, and moved camp supplies into storage. I still can’t believe that within a month I will be headed to the Black Rock desert in Northern Nevada, a journey I have wanted to experience for more then five years. Am I mentally and physically ready for this experience I signed up for? I look at burning man as a technicolor, multi-media art project with my brain as the canvas. Or is the desert the canvas?

And finally, the last three days have been a blur as I worked as a production assistant on the film, ‘The Broker’. This independent project was a great introduction into the industry, giving me insights I never previously had. Luckily, due to the small size of this production, PAing included lighting, grips, and photography. I learned a lot and worked with some great people. Although I didn’t get paid for my time, I certainly have a solid foundation with which to more forward with this type of work.

Hiking goes on hold for the season

Beads of sweat roll down the side of my beverage, collecting on the New Belgium coaster.  A slight breeze of artificial, cool air hits my left ankle while I sit on leather.  Needless to say, I am not on the PCT.  That corridor of continuous change.  The beautiful and wondrous sanctuary for travelers and those seeking adventure continues to exist in what feels like an alternate reality just to the North-West.  The contrast of Los Angeles, the smog and noise is a polar opposite.  My former company continue exercising an existence of simplicity and utility while this boiling ass-fault (get it…) sprawl is filled with hoards of designer clothed zombies, stumbling in all directions with shopping bags full of excess.

I left the trail for financial reasons.  I began hiking this season, not knowing if I would be able to afford to make the trip all the way to Canada.  Spoiler alert, I ran out of money before making it there.  I’m not upset, nor am I bitter towards those that are continuing on without me.  I am filled with inspiration and awe from my experience.  I only hiked about 800 miles of the 2600+ miles of trail that exists.  If you ever get on the trail, you will learn quickly what I have come to understand intimately; the experience is the journey.  Maybe you don’t have to hike the trail to make this assumption.

My journey ended in one of the most remarkable experiences of selflessness and kindness that I have experienced in my life.  Snooze (Megan) and I finished hiking at Vermillion Valley Resort, an oasis of civilization in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.  From VVR we hitched into the small resort town of Mono Hot Springs where we soaked and enjoyed a night of camping.  The next morning, beautiful cardboard sign in hand, we packed our bags and sat outside the Forest Service campground, thumbing for a ride.  Within an hour of sitting down, a white pickup slowed down and a kind traveler said that if we were still there when he finished eating lunch, he would gladly drive us to Fresno.  We smiled and told him we’d be there.

Within an hour the familiar truck came rolling back towards us and we quickly jumped to our feet to throw our bags in the bed.  Buck was a clean-dressed, friendly guy in his 50’s.  With almost questionable enthusiasm, he said he would be more then happy to drive us to Fresno (2+ hours East).  Upon jumping into the truck we all struck up conversation immediately and knew we were in good company.  Buck had been coming up to Mono Hot Springs since he was a young man to go fishing.  His wife had given him the ok to take a small vacation and relive some of his fishing glory days so he made the love drive up into the mountains.  Although the fishing was questionable, he had a pleasant visit.  Buck asked about the ins and outs of hiking on the JMT/PCT, told us about his adventures hitch hiking across the country as a teenager, and recalled fondly the kindness and open-hearted nature of those on the road.  He said he had such a positive experience traveling when he was younger, that he wanted to give back by helping us on our way.  We liked Buck a lot.

Eventually we rolled into the city of Fresno and arrived in front of a dilapidated building in what seemed to be a sketchy part of town.  This was the Greyhound bus station where we would catch a cheap and uncomfortable bus ride the rest of the way to Los Angeles.  Before we could offer Buck some gas money, he was practically forcing a folded bill into my hand.  We refused for a minute, making quite the scene which eventually compelled me to grab his offering.  We explained that we couldn’t take any money from him, he had already driven out of his way.  Could we give this back and give YOU some gas money we suggested.  Buck wouldn’t have it, saying that our company was payment enough and that we knew we were ‘good people’.  Pay it forward he said.  We tried to get his contact info but he was reluctant saying he didn’t want us to mail him any money back.  We stood there amazed at his generosity and after a brief hug and exchange of smiles, Buck was back on the road.  Opening my hand, I found $40, bus fare for Snooze and I to get to LA.  This is real trail magic folks.

After purchasing our tickets, we walked through a deserted hispanic part of town, searching for food.  The streets were empty and all the businesses closed, a very strange scene for a city.  Eventually we were able to get something to eat and returned to the bus station.  Our ride to LA was what you might expect for a bus – long and cramped.  The WIFI that the poster in the station glorified was next to useless and neither of the 120 volt outlets that were advertised worked consistently.

Getting into downtown at 11pm, we waited on torturous metal benches until my Dad whisked us away to Studio City.  Snooze and I spent the next few days catching up on much needed sleep, watching terrible day-time television, and indulging in restaurant food.  Gotta love ‘real life’.  We both longed for the trail, the simplicity of adhering to the schedule of the sun.  The monotony of walking for hours.  This strange and impermanent existence had become so normal to us, it was unsettling to change it.  But change it we must – Megan had to get back to Connecticut for her Sister’s High School graduation and I needed a job.  We parted ways at LAX, heads still full of fresh memories from our JMT adventure.


 

So that brings us to the present.  I’m here, living with my Dad in LA, looking for a job.  Oh how fun the real world is.  Find a job so I can pay my bills so my credit score isn’t totally fuct (too late).  Get a job so I can make my car payment and student loan payment.  But hopefully the job I find can be more then just a means to an income – hopefully it can be enjoyable.  Do you have a job for me?

Blogging on the trail is challenging

Ok – Hello friends and family!  Thanks for sticking around even though I haven’t added anything new in quite some time.  A realization I’ve had:  Blogging from the trail is tough.  I hate to admit this truth to myself.  I’d rather not tell myself that I’m going to be catching up in the near future because that would be a lie.  Blogging from the iPhone – not gonna happen.  Since I am not carrying an iPad or similar tablet, this limits me to computer blogging.  Computer/internet cafes are not very common on the PCT so that means my ability to write on my blog is limited.  This coupled with the fact that I would need to write about weeks of trail time in a single afternoon just makes it nearly impossible to keep things current.  While I would love to provide you with exciting stories and funny anecdotes from the trail, I can’t use my limited free-time glued to the computer screen.

Here is my plan.  On the right hand margin of the blog you will see a Twitter feed as well as an Instagram feed.  I will continue posting photos to Instagram because it is easy and not time consuming.  I will start posting my mileage via Twitter so that you can see where I have made it to.  This is the best I can do for now.

The past couple weeks have been chock full of excitement.  Beautiful mountains, scorching desert, friendly thru-hikers and over indulgence in meals are some of the moments that have punctuated a priceless experience.  I am currently in Acton, California, at Hiker Heaven (one of the trail angel houses).  We have hot weather on the horizon and some substantial stretches of desert (the Mojave) to cross before we ascend into the beginning of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  We hikers are excited with our progress and the high alpine lakes on the horizon are driving us forward and keeping our legs fresh.

One other bit of excitement – I received a very thoughtful PayPal donation from an international follower – THANK YOU.  Every little bit helps and even encouragement makes me feel rich.

The first 109 miles

Hello from Warner Springs!  I just finished hiking the first 109 miles of the PCT and it has been AWESOME.  I have come to a few quick conclusions.  First, hiking 20 miles (on average) a day is challenging but can be fun.  Second, keeping my blog updated is going to be a bit more challenging then I originally anticipated.  I am not giving up though, I just wanted you all to understand that the posts will probably be once a week, maybe a bit less frequently, it all depends on when I have access to a computer.  I AM keeping a daily journal so that I can remember everything I want to write about on here – basically daily notes to jog my memory and help me write for all of you.  So here it goes.

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Day one.  Go time.  Time to start the hike, the journey that I have been looking forward to for roughly 6 months.  All the planning and research and hours spent on the internet and reading books culminates in this moment where I find myself standing next to some white wooden posts in front of a rusty fence in the desert.  To be clear, this is the boarder fence, protecting our (once) great nation.  Maybe it still is great, right now I’m not sure but hopefully I’ll find the answer.  I mean, one would assume that walking across 2600+ miles would give me a good idea.

t’s easy to lose faith.  Just turn on the television or read the newspaper.  Endless piles of bullshit in all directions.  But I know there are amazing places and amazing people – they’re out there.  So enough of MY bullshit.  Here is what has happened so far.


 

4/11 Day 1 – Mexican Boarder to Lake Morena – 20 miles

I’ve finally started the quest.  The days leading up to today have felt a bit tedious.  I’ve been so close, just waiting to jump off.

And just like that, Dad and Susan were taking my photo, immortalizing this moment in time when I began what was once just an idea.  I’m kind of at a loss for words – shocked 20140417-090606.jpgthat I have begun.  A small part of me knows that there is always a chance that I will not successfully make it to Canada.  At this moment though, I’m ecstatic to have life simplified to the point of ‘one foot in front of the other’.

The weather today was quite nice – felt no warmer then 80’s.  Also looking forward to a cooling trend.  There was a little breeze most of the day.

Rolling terrain crossed train tracks and a small creek before climbing to a sort of mesa with evidence of recent fire and lots of wildflowers.

I met and hiked with multiple thru-hikers including Jonata (sp?), Brendan, George, Sunbeam, Meredith, Wilderness Bob and Lucky.

Big climb of the day involved descending to Hauser Creek and then climbing Morena Butte.

Climbed a knobby boulder before rolling into Morena Lake campground.  We received soda from other thru-hikers who will be starting tomorrow.

Tired and sore but very happy to be here and looking forward to whatever tomorrow brings.


 

4/12 Day 2 – Lake Morena CG to Mile 40 – 20 miles

Another day completed.  After a cold night, everyone awoke to uber condensation on inner tent walls.  The morning was typical – I cooked up a cup of cheesy grits and coffee.

20140417-090653.jpgSome folks left camp before the sun crested the surrounding mountains.  A veil of clouds hung low in the valley.

I was ready before the folks I hiked with on day 1 and I decided to hit the trail solo.

I met many other hikers today including the Israeli couple, Roi and Sarah.  Also met Birdman, Christian, Butters – I think that’s it.

It’s likely that I’ll take a shorter day tomorrow and kill some time in Mount Laguna.

Tonight I’m cowboy’d up just south of Burnt Rancheria campground in a beautiful stand of pines with a grass understory.  Tired.  Food.  More tomorrow!


4/13 Day 3 – Mile 40 to Pioneer Mail Picnic Area – 12.6 miles

After a beautiful & calm night sleeping beneath the stately pines, I woke at 6:45 to song birds.  After two twenty mile days back to back, I knew today should be a bit mellower.

I had a very leisurely morning – peanut butter bagel and coffee were enjoyed from the warmth of my sleeping bag.  When I finally rallied it was around 8:30 and I only had about two miles into Mount LAguna.  This little (LITTLE, less then 500 people) town is right off the trail and offers the thru-hiker many goodies.

I’m not craving huge greasy hamburgers yet so I opted out of either restaurant.   I did however stop into the gear shop which is run by Dave ‘Super’.  I swapped out my aluminum tent stakes for titanium and also got a 2 liter bladder, tyvek ground cloth, and20140417-090734.jpg a bottle for cooking oil.

Super gave me a shakedown and helped me shave a few ounces off my pack weight.

While talking with Super, Roi showed up and I returned his trowel which I found on the trail yesterday.

I spent another hour in town at the general store where I enjoyed a banana and root beer.  And Super bestowed upon me the trail name ‘Cheetah’.  I like it!

Hot hiking led to a few shady rests.  Views of the desert floor, Mt. Laguna observatory, and Garnet peak were superb.

Tonight dinner was cheesy pesto tortellini followed by hot chocolate.


 

4/14/2014 Day 4 – Pioneer Mail Picnic Area to Scissors Crossing – 24.4 miles *lunar eclipse

What’s with all the 4’s? Very strange – and a lunar eclipse to top it off.,,I don’t know.

So today, biggest hiking day of my life and I survived.  24.4 miles was brutal on the feet but perseverance paid off.

I woke up at Pioneer Mail early enough to catch the sunrise, beauty.  Bagel and PB for breakfast and coffee was a nice way to get the day started.  The horde of local woodpeckers kept me company while I packed up.

An early start made the first miles a breeze.  I ran into X-ray at the Sunrise Trailhead while getting water.  I also crossed paths with a couple young CA state park trail guys who were hard at work taking a union…haha.

The trail meandered before descending into Mason Valley.  There I met Kit, Backup, Coach, First Class, Mike and Amanda.  Snack and then some saywer squeezing before climbing again – yeah!  The views and nice breeze returned.

I passed everyone and saw amazing cactus blooms on the ridge top.  I eventually descended into Rodriguez canyon and caught up to Roi and Sarah at the fire tank.  They20140417-090810.jpg convinced me to continue to Scissors crossings.

Descending from Rodriguez canyon was AWESOME.  Real desert – cacti everywhere.  The heat increased.  Cacti blooms, sandy washes, other-worldly.

Trudged to Scissors and met Evil Goat, Blake, Seamus.  Roi and Evil Goat played strings while we drank tecate thanks to trail angel Houdini.  Fun stories were shared.  Now bed, exhausted!


 

4/15 Day 5 – Scissors Crossing to Barrel Spring – 24.1 miles

Another 20+ mile day.  Woke up early to the sound of traffic on the highway, time to get going.

Although I was last out of camp, I moved fast up into the hills.  BIG barrel cactus everywhere as well as Ocotillo.  Endless climbing resulted in nice views and a breeze.

Leap frogged with Roi and Sarah, Turkey Feather, Blake, Bilbo, and Seamus.  Everyone met up at 3rd gate water cache for a siesta.

Another 9 miles got us to mile 100!  Passed Billy Goat’s cave at mile 96 and counted to 1000 before siesta (earlier in the day).

Saw poison oak!  Look out.  Camping with whole gang at Barrel.  Evil Goat is playing 20140417-090628.jpgfiddle in the woods near by.  Great, long day – tomorrow leads to relaxation!

ps saw two snakes

pps got scared by a bird


 

4/16 Day 6 – Barrel Spring to Warner Springs – 8 miles

Short morning of hiking.  Only 8 miles from Barrel spring into Warner.  I hiked with Blake and we shared life stories.  The miles breezed by and before we knew it, we were at Eagle rock.

We took photos and hung out with Evil Goat and Santa’s Helper.  Green, rolling fields stretched out in every direction.

Three more miles of hiking got us to Warner Springs where we ate double cheese burgers at the resource center – a thru-hiker mecca.  They also have a small resupply store, ice cream, showers, laundry, etc.

Instead of staying there we called Warner Springs Monty, a trail angel near by.  He wisked us away to the post office to get resupply boxes, and then onto his house where20140417-090751.jpg he cooked us amazing bar-b-q chicken sandwiches.  Desert was ice cream sundaes.

Tomorrow will be a true zero day.  After having a shower, washing my clothing, and having good food and beer in my belly, life is good!