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.