Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Off the trail

We skipped ahead to Ashland shortly after the last blog post, and hiked for a few days in a heat wave, with a string of big wildfires behind and ahead of us.  But we (I in particular) had lost momentum and wanted to do some other non-PCT traveling for the rest of my leave from work, so we ended up getting off the trail, seeing some Shakespeare in Ashland, going to a bunch of Oregon's many brewpubs for a few days, and then driving down the coast back to Berkeley.  I hiked about 1285 miles, and Marina hiked 850ish in total.  It was a great trip, and we're looking forward to doing more pieces of the PCT over the next few years.

Right now we're still in Berkeley, planning some more travel adventures this fall.  We might blog some more about our travels here, or at least put a pointer to a new travel blog if we start one.

As always, happy trails!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Skipping ahead to Ashland, and photos from Mammoth to Bucks Lake

We're about to head to head to Ashland today and hit the trail again tomorrow.  We're skipping ahead far enough that we have an extra week to get to Canada, but we're really going to just hike and have fun and not worry about schedule as much for now.

Here are some photos from the stretch from Mammoth until we got off the trail, with a few non-trail photos from exploring Mammoth with Carlo and Francesca at the end.  Full album here.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lots of news

Lots is new since our last post.  The biggest and happiest news first: we're getting married!  I proposed to Marina just after Sierra City over lunch, and she said yes.  We're both very excited.

Also just after Sierra City, we started to see a huge plume of smoke in the distance.  My knee also began to hurt more and more again.  We eventually decided to take a break at a B&B near Bucks Lake, 20 miles before Belden.  There we found out that there was a giant wildfire ahead, and we'd have to skip to Chester.  We took a full day off, got a ride to Quincy, and took a bus to Chester.  I went to a doctor there who told me I probably had a torn meniscus, which worried me a lot.  We decided to come back to the Bay Area to check it out.  Our friends Carlo and Francesca drove up, explored Lassen with us for a day, and dropped us off in Berkeley last Sunday.

Fortunately, the real knee specialist I managed to see on Monday told me that I just had tendinitis (of the group of tendons called the pes anserinus), not a torn meniscus.  After a week of rest, ibuprofen, and icing, it feels pretty good.  We are figuring out when and where we want to get back to the trail (we don't have time to start where we left and make it before the snow, probably) and will post another update once we're sure about that.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

New PCT photos from Marina's phone


Today, during our zero in Sierra City, I got enough computer time to organize and share all my personal cell phone photos from the PCT. So, please enjoy some new photos!  I put them into a Picasa album.  

You will see my photos from the Kickoff and Lake Morena, and then starts again in Detroit Airport on my flight to LA, when I rejoined Heavy (Dan) on the trail in Agua Dulce. Please click here to view the album, which is public.


Sierra City - PCT Hikers are a different breed!

And here is another gem from Ashland Daily Tidings.  I do agree with most of this article!


Yes people, that's 7000 calories per day.

Sierra CIty: Trail Angels, S. Lake Tahoe Recap, and where to mail us next

Hey y'all!  This is Cheers here.  We are enjoying our time here in Sierra City, where we are staying at the Red Moose Inn, a hiker-hostel type place that's operated by trail angels Bill and Margaret Price.

A lot of you have told me that you are interested in the idea of trail angels.  I am catching up on the internets, and found this interesting article in the Ashland, Oregon paper, which has a weekly series on the PCT.

We have really appreciated the help of all the trail angels we have met along the way, including all the people who have given us food - on and off the trail.  

In particular, we want to thank our friends Sarah D., Natalya E. and John O., who were total troopers last week when they drove up from SF to meet us for our zero day in South Lake Tahoe.  Instead of a calm, relaxing weekend at the lake, they got an insane day of errands and shopping.  Thank you guys for driving us around, helping us shop (including going to 3 stores to find a cute new hiking outfit for my new skinny hiker body), and cooking us delicious food (that lasagna was delicious, Sarah!)  

We also want to thank our friends Adam and Eric, who provided the accommodations for all of us - we stayed Tahoe house.  It was great to stay at the same house where we've come to ski many, many times in the last few years.  This was as close to home as we get on this trip, both in distance and in sentiment, and we did manage to relax by Fallen Leaf Lake at the end of our crazy zero day, in addition to buying and mailing ahead food for a total of 14 days.  Plus, our friends got to see thru-hiker resupply planning in action - crazy!

After leaving Tahoe, we decided to add one more mail resupply for Northern California.  We are going to Drakesbad Ranch!!!!  Check it out: http://www.drakesbad.com/
I, for one, am very excited about my first planned zero day ON THE TRAIL, at a place I've dreamed of visiting for a few years now.  We have found resupplies in town to be stressful as we have to run around and buy lots of food instead of relaxing and staying off our feet.  Drakesband is a fancy resort that's located within the boundaries of Lassen National Park, with a hot springs, pool, a massage therapist (!!!!) , and delicious meals for guests (at 50% discount to PCT hikers) all on site. Added bonus: no shopping needed.  A little bit of stress yesterday to buy and send out this mail drop means we can relax and enjoy our time at Drakesbad, where we hope to be in about a week or so.

We plan to be in Ashland on or after 8/22, which is our first Oregon stop, and we plan to take a zero day there!  If you'd like to send us a postcard, a letter or a package, here is the mailing address: 

D. Eisenbud and M. Brevdo - PCT Hikers 
c/o Callahan's Lodge
7100 Old Highway 99 South
Ashland, OR  97520

Please jot down our ETA (8/22/12) on the front of the box, along with our last names.  More info on their website here: 

This place is on our way into Ashland itself, from where we will buy and mail ourselves food for the rest of Oregon (probably 5 resupply packages!).  If you send us snail mail, as always, please be sure to email us to let us know ahead of time, so we know to look for it once we get to Callahan's. 

Thank you again if you've either sent us or plan to send us packages.  Current craves: Trader Joe's anything, especially their dried bananas and toasted pine nuts; salmon or tuna packed in OIL (not water!) in foil pouches; dehydrated salsa from KillerSalsa (we tried this in S Lake Tahoe), lower-sodium, high-protein dehydrated meals for dinner, and non-peanut butter sources of protein for lunch that mail well, such as almond/hazelnut butter and powdered hummus.  And, as always, dark chocolate.


Sierra City, CA (mile 1197)

We're out of the high mountains now. We went over 8000 feet for the last time on the whole PCT yesterday. We're expecting hotter weather for the rest of California, which should take less than a month. The air at 4000 feet feels positively chewy (the last time the trail went this low was in the desert, though our resupply in Independence was as well.

We're starting to do bigger mileage days. We keep falling just short of 25 but will start doing those too. Marina's feet are feeling better but I'm having some hopefully minor knee problems (in the previously uninjured knee, surprisingly) so I'll keep an eye on that. We took a half day off in town yesterday, which helped.

We're camping in the back yard of the Red Moose Inn, a little establishment that mainly caters to hikers. There's a bigger crowd of PCT hikers here than we've seen in a long while -- maybe about 15.  We need to finish our laundry and eat breakfast and then hopefully a pretty early start this morning before it gets hot.

The trail continues to be pretty and we're having fun. On to the halfway point (in a week and a bit) and then Oregon!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lake Tahoe!

Just a brief note from somewhere above Squaw (a Tahoe area ski resort).  We are 3 days out of South Lake Tahoe and moving fast.  Trying to hike our first 25 mile day.  Here is what much of today looked like.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mammoth Lakes: Mile 906

It was great to have Daniel and Marina "pass through" Mammoth lakes, where we rented a little cottage on one of the many eponymous lakes! We even followed them a few steps on the trail after they left Red's Meadow, and then found them again, very sensibly taking in the marvel that is the Devil's postpile monument (pictures in the next post, perhaps!)

Meantime here are a few pictures Daniel took from the edge of the desert (cacti below) up into the miraculously beautiful high Sierra. There are LOTS more pictures! -- it was hard to choose.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Next place we can get mail: S Lake Tahoe, 7/20

If you want to send us mail, the next place we will be picking up letters and packages is South Lake Tahoe.  At a minimum, it will take us 10 hiking days, starting tomorrow, to get there, so anything that arrives by July 19th will definitely get to us.  If you do send us something, please write EISENBUD/BREVDO on as many available surfaces as possible, and address mail thus:

Daniel Eisenbud and Marina Brevdo
c/o Lake of the Sky Outfitters
1023 Emerald Bay Road
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Also please write "Hold for PCT Hikers, ETA 7/20" somewhere prominent on the mail.

Thanks to all who have sent us care packages so far!

Red's Meadow / Mammoth Lakes (mile 906)

We got into Red's Meadow yesterday evening, and after 17 straight hiking days, are taking a much needed rest in Mammoth Lakes today.  My parents drove up for a few days, and we're all staying in a cute cabin on a lake.  It's been nice to relax with them, eat, catch up on email and the New York Times, and of course eat some more.

The last nine days of hiking have again been spectacular.  The elevations have been slightly lower than the last stretch, never getting to 13,000', but we spent at least a week above 11,000' at some point every day, and today is probably our first day totally below 10,000' in two weeks (and even the cabin we're staying at is above 9000'.)  There have been a lot of really spectacular lakes.  Unfortunately it's usually been too cold for swimming, and when it is hot enough swimming involves jumping in and then out as fast as possible, because the water is frigid.  We also stopped at some lower elevation hot springs with a warmer lake, which was nice.  Lots of wildflowers too.  Hundreds of pictures forthcoming when my dad has faster internet access and can upload them.

We've had too much food on every stretch so far, so this time we decided to pack a little bit lighter.  Unfortunately though, we stretched out the trip a day, and I multiplied by two instead of four to calculate how many snack bars we needed per day, so we ran a little bit low on food after seven days.  The hiker box at Muir Trail Ranch yielded some olive oil and a bag of oatmeal, and a John Muir Trail hiker offered us, unprompted, a pound of cashews.  By the time we got to our small resupply at Vermillion Valley Resort two days ago we were quite hungry, but fortunately not starving.  We ate heartily there, and had plenty of food for the last two days in to Mammoth.

Some gear has started failing as well.  One of my hiking poles snapped on a descent about four days back, and one of our tent zippers has failed.  Fortunately, Black Diamond (hiking pole) and Big Agnes (tent) are graciously sending us replacements under warranty, to South Lake Tahoe.

We're mostly holding up pretty well ourselves.  Marina's feet are the main sore point, so she's trying various approaches to making them happier.  My right knee (the one I broke skiing) is occasionally sore, and occasionally has a fleeting sharp pain, but for the most part is doing really well.

We're looking forward to some more pretty high Sierra scenery, but as we get to South Lake Tahoe the terrain will get a bit lower, and after that will get a bunch flatter.  We are going to start trying to do 20 mile days on a regular basis, up from 16 or so in the last while.  We need to average 20 a day for the rest of the trip, so before too long we'll try to ramp up more to 25s or so, so we can take breaks in town.

More in a week or two!


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summitted Mount Whitney, now in Independence, CA (Mile 790)

Hey y'all,

This is Cheers!  (Marina); happy 4th of July!  We are currently relaxing and drinking Mammoth Paranoid beers at the Subway in Independence, CA.  We got in yesterday, and the last 8 days' hike took us from Kennedy Meadows, all the way through the Southern Sierra (including Sequoia National Park) and out east, through Kearsarge Pass.  We love being in the mountains, and are thrilled to have had incredible weather (highs in 70's, sunny and no thunderstorms) through the high passes.

Some hikers asked us a few days ago: what is our favorite section of the trip so far?  "This part!," we laughed.  Mount Whitney (the highest peak in the lower 48, which a 17-mile side trip to the east off the PCT) was amazing, and we've been taking tons of pictures.  No major problems with altitide, since we are well acclimated already.  No bear sightings so far, but we've been seeing lots of other wildlife, like marmots, deer and birds, and even a pika or two!  Other wildlife sightings include JMT (John Muir Trail) hikers, with whom we are sharing the trail till Yosemite, as well as lots of other PCT thru-hikers.

We head back up into the Sierra today, hiking 3,000 feet back up, to Kearsarge and to Kings Canyon National Park, over Glen Pass, into Rae Lakes.  Should see lots of glacial melt lakes and high Sierra passes in the next 8 days!  We look forward to seeing Dan's parents in Mammoth Lakes, our next town stop. 

Hope to see some of you in South Lake Tahoe in a few weeks!  Date and location TBA.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Out of the desert, into the Sierra! (Kennedy Meadows, mile 702)

We're currently at Tom's Place, the property of a hiker-friendly guy across from the Kennedy Meadows store.  It's a collection of small trailers.  We're staying in a tiny one with a double bed, and currently sitting in the internet trailer with some laptops.  We already had pancakes and coffee.  Life is good.

Marina has really gotten up to speed hiking since Tehachapi.  We've done 16 miles a day on average for the last nine days, including a few half days into and out of town.  We stopped in Lake Isabella for a night to resupply a few days ago, ate great burgers and milkshakes, and showered.  We have hiked through brutally hot wind farms, been happy to find a single gnarled Joshua tree that cast enough of a shadow for a mid-afternoon shade break, seen a rattlesnake, a fox, some scorpions, a mole, and probably some other critters.  We're now into meadowy 6000' Sierra terrain, and about to go much higher soon.  The desert was often beautiful, but this is getting way prettier.

We're taking the day off here, picking up packages, figuring out how to fit our bear canisters into our backpacks, etc.  Tomorrow we'll head out for an eight day stretch over the highest terrain on the PCT.  Forester Pass is the highest point at about 13,153', and we'll make a side trip up Mt. Whitney, at about 14,505', the highest point in the lower 48 states.  Our next stop will be at Independence or Bishop, from where we may or may not have internet.  We'll definitely update from mile 900 at Mammoth Lakes, in a couple weeks.  More pictures coming once my dad gets the next SD card I mail him today.

Happy trails!

Monday, June 11, 2012

In Techachapi, CA (Mile 558)

Made it to Tehachapi, CA. We have hiked 104 miles since setting out from Agua Dulce last Sunday night, 7 days ago!  Below is a photo of Heavy with our delicious and well earned breakfast this morning at the Apple Shed Restaurant.

The Mojave desert floor crossing is now behind us.  We got lucky with the weather, as it was not too hot, with highs in the mid-70s.  However, on the way out of the Mojave it was incredibly windy.  It was tiring work to climb the ridge in that wind!  We walked past a whole bunch of windmills for the last 2 days, and there are more windmills to come.  According to Yogi's PCT guidebook, between here and Kennedy Meadows (the entrance to the Sierra) it is always this windy, hence all the windmills.  Guess we'll find out if that's true.

We made trail angel stops along the way at the Andersons' and in a fun place called Hikertown, a dusty desert outpost that looked like a Wild West town with chickens, but is actually all a hiker hostel.  Sadly, we forgot our cookware there, so we are renting a car today and driving back to retrieve it. 

We are staying in Sierra Ranch motel in Tehachapi till tomorrow, so feel free to contact us.  We are also getting food for the next 6 days' hike to Walker Pass, from which we'll hitch a ride to Lake Isabella.  We are excited to go there since my mom's name is Isabella!

We're happy with our daily mileage so far, given that I just got on the trail and my flat feet were a big worry to me before I started.  Here are the deets:

Last Sunday: We started with a cool 5 mile evening hike from Agua Dulce and to a beautiful campsite up a ridge, past some buzzing power lines, and with the full moon lighting the way.

Monday: 18 miles to another windy campsite near Green Valley, where Casa de Luna (aka the Andersens' house) awaited.

Tuesday: 2 miles, a short hike to the road, and then we spent the day relaxing at Casa de Luna.

Wednesday: Terri A. dropped us off at the trail, told us to take care of each other out there and hugged us. We headed up the ridge, from the Andersens to Hikertown, a 40 mile hiking stretch in all, we did 13 miles or so this day.

Thursday: 17 hot miles in the mountains, with a long siesta nap in our tent in the afternoon.  This day, Heavy passed the 500 mile mark on the PCT since he started at the border.  We celebrated with whiskey and dinner at a beautiful open campsite overlooking the night lights of the Mojave below.

Friday: 10 miles in the morning, down into the desert to Hikertown.  We rested for the afternoon, ate an amazing meal cooked by the Hikertown caretaker, and headed out around 7 pm, to do 11 more very flat desert road miles.  This made for 21 miles that day, my first 20+ mile day on the PCT.

Saturday: 13 miles along the desert floor, then up the windy ridge and into the most beautiful campsite I have seen yet!  Tylerhorse Canyon was a respite from the wind and had an ice-cold stream, where we filtered water and I cooled my aching feet.  This was the last water source before our exit to Tehachapi, so we took a lot of water with us for the entire next day. 
This day we hiked and camped with a woman with the trail name Listener.  Listener is 74 years old, thru-hiking alone, and if she finishes, is likely going to set a record as the oldest person to do so.  She is one amazing lady, more about her later.

Sunday: 17 hot and exposed, waterless miles, up and over the ridge and down to Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road.  We got pretty hot, but carried plenty of water; also came upon a nice water cache that was unexpected and very welcome.  Got to the road just before sunset, at 7 30 pm, and hitchhiked to Tehachapi with a nice local who told us more about the awesome windmills we'd been seeing.

The other pics below show the desert for the last two days.  We walked for 2 days along an aqueduct, and Heavy (Dan) walks over it in the photo.   More pictures to come later!

Please excuse any typos, as I'm typing on my cellphone as Heavy drives the dirt road to retrieve our pots.

Cheers! (aka Marina)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Casa de Luna, and where to mail us things

Success!  After the first 25 miles of hiking together from Agua Dulce, we reached Casa de Luna, a famous trail angels' house in Green Valley, CA.  It is famous because it's known as "hippie day care" and everyone wears hawaiian shirts.

We decided to hang out for the rest of the day here, to have lunch at Green Valley Cafe (see pics), and do some laundry.  Heading out tonight toward Hikertown, and on to the Mojave.  No blisters so far, and we are enjoying the cool, breezy weather!

We wanted to let people know how to send us mail: both letters and packages.  The next good place is in Mammoth Lakes, CA, and we may get there around the first week in July (perhaps around July 4), or a bit earlier.  The Motel 6 there holds packages for PCT hikers; you can mail anytime and they will have it for us when we get in.  Please be sure to email myself or Dan (Heavy) to let us know if a package is waiting, so that we know to go there and pick up.

Here is how to address it via USPS:
Dan Eisenbud and Marina Brevdo
C/o Motel 6
PO Box 1260
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Please write on the envelope "Hold for PCT thru hikers".

Now, people have asked what to send us? Letters of course, we love real letters!  And food!  Food that lasts the 2 weeks in the mail, and then is good on the trail.  Food that is light, dense (to fit in the bear canisters), and delicious, and food that is hard to get in the sierra small markets where we are doing our daily shopping. 

Here are some suggestions: beef jerkey, halva (amazing hiker food), dark chocolate things that won't melt, energy bars, almond butter and any salted nuts, nice freeze-dried camping dinners (aka Mountain House), good granola; Kind bars and other nice bars, dried veggies, sealed brownies, salmon in foil.  Any instant powdered things from health food stores are awesome, aka powdered beans, powdered miso soup, or hummus or hot chocolate.
Feel free to pass this info to anyone else who may want it.

Do you have a favorite backpacking food we should know about?  If so, let us know!
With love,
Marina (Cheers!) and Dan (Heavy)

A message is waiting  for Heavy and Cheers! -- at Donner Pass Road crossing.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Marina is back on the trail with me. We sent a zillion boxes for resupply yesterday and hiked out, and today we're hiking maybe 20 miles to Cass de Luna or maybe not quite that far. Marina's new trail name is Cheers!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hello Kitty store display

I was wrong before.  This is my new favorite place in the Detroit airport. Wow.
Apparently this airport is a major travel hub to Asia, specifically Japan Airlines.  The announcements are often in Japanese as well as English.  Cool.

On my way to agua dulce: Detroit's shiny new airport.

Landed in Detroit on my layover to LAX.  Landing brought back college memories, since the last time I was at this airport was when I was flying back and forth from Williams to Mike Close, my then-boyfriend's house in Rochester Hills, Michigan.  And it sure didn't look like this in 1999!  There's a shiny new express tram and lots of arty touches.  My favorite is this beautiful granite indoor fountain, with choreographed water flows.

On to LAX!  Just now really sinking in that I'm on my way to meet Dan and there's nothing I need to do for the next 4 months except walk toward Canada.  I have done so much for my mom in the last month, and I was sad to leave her this morning!  But also excited to do nothing but walk now, and heal.

Backpack full of yummy hiking treats, like hazelnuts and dried mango.  Here we go!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Surprise Seafood Pancake!

Another major highlight of the trip from Wrightwood to here, which I somehow neglected to mention, was right at the beginning of the endagered species detour.  There are four miles of closed trail to protect the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog.  Last year's detour was 2.7 miles of pleasant road walk on a minor highway with pretty low traffic, and 1.4 on trail back to the PCT.  This year's new detour is about 14 extra miles, and apparently goes across extremely crumbly trail.  I chose the old detour.

I got to the beginning of the highway road walk portion, and saw my friend Apocalypse sitting with some older folks at some picnic tables by the side of the road.  The other people turned out to be part of a Korean senior citizen hiking group, the Evergreen Hiking Club.  I said hi, and they started giving me all kinds of food: eggs, fruit, soda, a styrofoam cup of whiskey.  But that was just the beginning.  They started making a huge vat of batter for seafood pancakes, and feeding us.  Ramen followed.  I couldn't eat any more, but took along a zip-loc of seafood pancake for dinner.  It was all delicious.

Aside from appreciating being fed, I was also really touched at how excited everyone was that we were thru-hiking the PCT.  Their enthusiasm, and the food, gave me new found hiking energy for the rest of the day.

If you enlarge the picture above, I am in the bottom frame.  I have some more pictures from my camera when the next batch goes up.