I’ve been working the past couple of days on getting my other site, charityhikers.org moved over to my home server and recreated on Drupal. It’s turning out to be a huge pain in the neck. The main problem is that there seem to be too many viable ways to accomplish what I want, and no consensus as to what the best one is. The result of this is that there are a number of half-hearted attempts at explaining how to have multiple sites running off of one Drupal installation, but none of them are really that detailed, or really apply all that well…it’s frustrating.
However! In doing this, I discovered a treasure I thought I had lost. I discovered my old PCT journal entries, which I have posted below, by date. It’s a bit long, so I won’t be offended if nobody reads them, but it’s interesting to see what I was thinking before the big trip back in ‘05. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the actual posts from the trail, so it’s a bit of a cliff hanger. Alas.
21 March 2005
Well, it seems the journaling function of my site is finally up and running. It has been a long road to get here today, and I am glad we are finally nearing the end of it.
I can not say I have really kept a journal very much in the past, so this is a bit of a foreign medium to me. I write lots of personal emails though, so perhaps I will just pretend I am writing one of my confidants, and see how that goes for a while. Nah. Too easy.
So, planning for the trip comes along nicely these days. At this point, I am pretty much ready to go with the following enormous gaping holes in my preparations:
- I have not finalized my resupply bounce box, or the destinations it will be going to.
- My first aid training from October is growing more and more useless by the day. I need to restudy it before the trip, but it is just so boring.
- I need to move out.
- Some sewing remains to be done.
I guess this means the planning is coming along nicely. Whatever the case, I will be ready when the time comes. I know what gear to take, and I have my many permits all taped to my wall.
Last weekend I took some time to actually study my first aid stuff. I discovered that I had indeed forgotten the many nuances of it as I had imagined I would. I did think of a brilliant way to remember it all though: I finally made my own SOAP note. These are the things you use when an accident occurs to make sure you take all the right vital signs and ask all the right questions. By making my own, I essentially wrote myself a guide to first aid.
Jeesh this is a boring entry. I kind of just wanted to write it so that something would be here, and so people had something to read. I will write another one in a week or so.
Backpacking, Journaling, Etc
25 March 2005
Well, I think I said in the last journal entry that the journal site was done. That was a lie. It needs more work, and seems to be an interminable source of work. That having been said, I am fairly certain it is about done now. I have been working with a volunteer from Craig’s List on getting everything to work the way I want it to, and the result has been pretty sweet thus far. Last night I stayed up rather late and got it to its present condition. A number of changes have been made to it, but nothing that will wow non-coders, so I am going to spare you all any more talk about this subject.
A more interesting subject to talk about is the fact that I am going backpacking this weekend. It will probably be the last trip before the big one, so it is a bit stressful. I am trying out a couple of new things, namely some padding that I put into the straps of the M5 so it would hold more weight, some new shoes that I pro-dealed from Vasque, and I think that is about it. I might see if I can stand using Ken (my quilt). It is getting warmer out.
The one thing that I haven not been able to decide is where the hell I want to go. I do not want to go to Big Sur because it is infested with Poison Oak and ticks, the trails are unreliable, and there is not that much ground to cover. So, that having been said, where should I go? Certainly not Point Reyes. Jesus that place is busy on a normal weekend, this is Easter weekend. I guess I could go to a more southern area in Los Padres forest and successfully dodge the snow down there. It is a long drive though. Much longer than I would like.
Anyway, as the last hike before the trip, it is bound to be humbling. I think I can get at least 50 miles in this weekend, so that will be good experience as well.
Skyline to Sea Trip Report » Raccoons, Rains, and Rushing Waters
28 March 2005
Well, I am back from the trip, and it was quite awesome. Certainly something to write home about anyway.
I started off the trip on Saturday, whereupon I learned that there was no legal parking at the trail head. Pretty damned annoying really. I get out of bed early to rush myself to the trailhead, where I learn that there is no parking. There is not even a ranger station, but there is a payphone to make up for the lack of cell phone coverage. So, I called the station, and made reservations for the campsites. Do you take credit cards? Naturally, they do not, and naturally the nearest ATM is about half an hour away. So, here I am, I have my reservations, but no way to pay for them, and I am at the trailhead, with nowhere to park within about ten miles. I spend about half an hour looking for parking, eventually finding a place I can pull off the road that does not have any blatant signs saying I can’t park there. I park. I hit the trail, and for the first 2/3rds of Saturday, I followed the road, crossing it every few miles. It was noisy, and lame, but eventually it kind of veered away from the road and became much more beautiful. By the time I finished my first 16 miles, and made camp, I was in the heart of the Big Basin Natural Park, a beautiful place indeed.
Upon waking up the next day, I headed west yet again, towards the sea. Beauty was everywhere, but it was the best when I saw the beginnings of Barney Falls, which are by far the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen outside of Yosemite. Imagine if you will, hiking along through trees that have been around since the Byzantine Empire (probably), on this verdant and moist trail. It is gorgeous. Then, all of a sudden, you see a waterfall that is about 50 feet high, and rather wide in the middle of it all — Gorgeous.
So, anyway, I eventually, made it to the sea, and turned around to head 31 miles back to camp, and eventually my car. Along that direction, I saw a lot of the people that I had passed going the other way, and they were rather curious to see me coming at them a second time, but that is another story. The real story is that Rain was predicted. I made camp at Sunset Camp in what looked like a good spot if it should start raining. Well, it did start raining, and eventually that spot became flooded. I spent about an hour digging in the mud, making dikes and dams around my tarp, but in the end it proved to be a futile effort. I probably dumped out my 1L pot about 50 times before I gave up. It was a sad day, but luckily, moving my tarp was not such a big deal, so I did.
With night came animals (the bastards). I was sleeping under my tarp in one hell of a rain storm. Thus I could hear just about nothing. I woke up to see what looked like something white moving away from my tent. It was a full moon, but the clouds made it pitch dark out. I grabbed for my flashlight, and discovered that it was missing. Shit. I grabbed for my pack, where I had a backup light, and discovered IT was missing. SHIT. SHIT. SHIT. Bobcats have stolen my pack right from next to me under my tarp. I now have no light, and it is too dark to walk anywhere. Ok. I need to get a light from the people in the neighboring camp. They are asleep. I will have to wake them. Done. Ok. I have a light. It went on like that for about half an hour, eventually resulting in my discovery of everything that was once mine with the exception of my food bag, the food that was in it, and one of my (expensive titanium) stakes that had gone missing during the tent move. I tied my pack to my tarp with the theory being that if bobcats were going to steal my pack, they would have to wake me up to do it. They did come back to steal my EMPTY pack, but it is not like it woke me, and they were unable to get it untied. Oh, and they were apparently raccoons, not bobcats. So, in conclusion, I lost all of my food for the final day, and my pack got some tears in it. Not cool at all. So, I hiked out to the nearest road, informed the ranger, and hitch-hiked back to my car. All in all, about fifty miles covered, one storm bested, and a mafia of racoons fed.
Training, Preparations and Having Both Arms Pulled In Opposite Directions
4 April 2005
So, the final weeks are upon us. There’s no denying that now. How am I coping is probably the best question to ask at this point. The answer is that I’m losing a fair amount of sleep because I keep waking up with revelations pretty much every night, but other than that, I’m doing ok. Plus, I’m unemployed, so it doesn’t particularly matter that I don’t get the best sleep during the night because I can always just sleep more during the day.
These revelations though, they’ve got to stop. Pretty much every night I either dream PCT, or wake up around four in the morning with the revelation that, “Put shampoo in your bounce box,” or, “you’ll want a phone card.” Really, I wish my brain would just take a chill pill. Last night was especially bad, which pretty much explains why I’m complaining about it so much. I’m pretty sure that was due to the fact that I made (and ate) about a dozen cookies the day before though.
The weekend was good as far as training went. I did some sewing on Captain Tent for Mr. Boothe, and I made myself a right hand rain mitt out of Epic material. Now I just need to make mike some mitts, and myself a left hand mitt, and my sewing will be done.
So far today I have been pulled in so many different directions is kind of strange. I dealt with my phone line; returned messages; got paid for my final weeks of work (though I still need to go to the bank); programmed my GPS a bit, and dealt with some AIDS fundraising stuff. So many different things, so little time. I have to get back to work, but before I do, a report on the training that I did, and the fact that I have blisters.
Over the weekend, I did some training by hiking about ten miles out to Barney Falls again, and climbing bleachers at Cal. Both were tiring, but today I must train more. The hike was really strange because Rachael and I were accompanied by a photographer from the Oakland Tribune. Keep your eyes peeled for the article on April 18th.
Revisiting the Worst Day of All Time.
11 April 2005
Approximately one year ago today, I received in the mail a form from the DMV that told me that me registration on my Mustang was overdue, and that in addition to the regular fee, I was being charged a late fee. At the time, it was frustrating because I had never been asked for the original fee, and at the time I was rather strapped for money. I eventually went down to the DMV, where, after waiting in line for some time, I learned that I had forgot my wallet. You can imagine how terrible this was on a hot day in LA traffic.
I drove home to get it, and calmed down a bit about how frustrating it was that the one time in a very long time that I forgot my wallet, this was the effect. I got back in my hot car, and drove back to the DMV (about a half hour drive, with no traffic). In addition to having traffic, I actually had to wait for a funeral procession to go by. It took a long time, and I had no A/C. In the end, I got the late fee waived, got new stickers for my car, and got on with life, considering it the worst day of all time, which it was at the time. I realize that it doesn’t sound so bad, but there were more details I’ve left out for all of our sake.
Today is threatening to be about as bad as that day. For the past month, I have been harassing my dad (also my employer) about getting me my tax forms. Finally, on Saturday, he got them to me. This left me with about five days to get them done - not much time, if any at all really. So today, being the earliest time that I could get them in, I called H&R Block to see what they could do for me. After telling them some information, I came to learn that it looked like I owed about, oh $2,500 by the man’s estimate. About half of what I have saved for the trip. This is not good news, so I decide I should call my dad to give him a piece of my mind, and ask how the hell this happened. He, being the savvy business owner that he is, asks me a number of questions, and informs me that I need to get an extension so that his CPA can deal with it when I drive down to San Diego for the Kick Off. Just what I need right now. So, here’s the uncertainty with that: I don’t know who’s going to pay that money, or how much it is going to come out to. Probably somewhere around $1,500 is my guess. More than I would like to part with, especially to the war machine. I mean, what would Emerson say?
So that was pretty bad, but I filed the extension over the phone, agreed to pay a 1% late fee, and got on with life. The next project was to call the DMV about the notice I got last week informing me that, yet again, I had become “delinquent” in my “renewal.” Sigh. here’s the bad news, the car that I failed to renew? I gave it to my dad to sell. He sold it to one of his employees in Mexico. I don’t know who, but it’s down there, being the good Mustang it always was. So. I call the DMV to ask them what to do about the fee I owe on the car I don’t have. The third time I call the number, I don’t get the busy signal, and I actually get through to a phone maze of some sort. After dialing about ten numbers, I get put on hold for a second. Then, I get thrown back into the phone maze, because all operators were busy. So, I go through it again, and get put into the queue. This happens three times. Eventually, I get through to what sounded like a Vietnamese woman that was fresh to America. She barely spoke English, and was quite angry for some reason. Why? I don’t know. Anyway, I asked her what to do. She says, file the Release of Liability Form, REG138. Ok, I say. She notes that it will ask who I sold the car to. Hell. I don’t know who it’s sold to. My dad sold it in Mexico to one of his workers. He probably doesn’t even know my dad anymore. I tell her this, and the jist of what she says is, well, you can’t release liability without that information. I reiterate that I don’t have it, and she tries to hang up on me. I plead, “please, please don’t hang up on me.” Miraculously, she does not. I ask again, what can I do if I don’t know their name? She has no answers, and barely speaks English, so I ask for a supervisor. No luck. She says, I should call the “Registration Control Unit in Sacramento,” and gives me a number, 916.767.8035. Happy, I call the number. She was toying with me. The number has this message, “At the tone, the time will be 2:22 PM Pacific time. Beep.” She literally gave me the number to the universal time place. I am still in shock about that.
So here’s the summary. I owe a couple of grand in taxes. I have a car that is mine, but is owned by somebody else. I can either pay $100 for it every year, or somehow try to find another answer. It’s 3PM. Today has been terrible, but at least I didn’t get stuck behind a funeral procession. Perhaps I hate the DMV. How can it be so bad without people being up in arms? I don’t understand. We live in the modern age.
Better Today, Thanks for Asking
13 April 2005 Well, it seems that all is well in the world of PCT planning. For some reason, I can’t quite figure out what it is that I should be doing to get ready. It’s possible that I’m entirely ready at this point. I have a few things that I want to shop for, but the pile of gear that is going with me down to San Diego is ready. I can’t really pack for the trip yet because I don’t want to compress my sleeping bag, but all else is ready.
My roommate Rachael has told me that I should jot down some of my biggest worries for my ever vigilant public. Probably my biggest worries at this point are water worries - that one, I won’t get through the desert without some serious dehydration, and that two, I won’t get through the Sierra Snow like I need to. I have done some thinking about the southern California water situation, and I think the thing to do about it is carry a ton of water, keep your eye on the next water stop, and hope for the best. I figure if I carry six liters, I should have more than enough. Usually that’s cutting it close, but I hear that every creek, crik and rivelet is pumping with water this year.
As to what I am going to do about the snow in the sierras, and, more importantly, the San Gabriels, I think the plan is to hit it like a ton of bricks. It’s not the most brilliant plan, but I think it might just work. I think my age might factor into this foolhardy plan. Anyway, we’re going to hit it, and perhaps we’ll break fresh trail. Should be interesting anyway.
One other concern that I am harboring at this point is Ken. Ken is my homemade sleeping quilt. I’ve had him for about eight or nine months now, but I’ve been too afraid to really get out with him much. I have been sleeping under him for a good few days now, and I think I can get used to him. If not, I’ll have a Feathered Friends Hummingbird waiting for me at my mom’s house in San Diego, so worst case scenario, I’ll just have her mail me that.
So, all in all, I think I’m in the calm before the storm. It’s possible of course that the storm will never hit, but I’m pretty sure it will. Take the following information, and tell me if it adds up nicely: On Friday, I have a going away party in Berkeley. On Saturday, I have one in LA. On Sunday, I have one in San Diego. On Monday, I have a date with my dad’s CPA to do my taxes. Hmmm…
19 April 2005
Well, things are winding down, and it looks like I am about ready to go now. The bounce box is packed; I have resupply packages set up for Warner Springs, Idyllwild, Wrightwood, Kennedy Meadows, and Ashland; I’ve been on tour for the past few days, and have said goodbye to just about everybody I know; and I’ve done, filed and paid my taxes (grand total with deductions: ~$500).
Even though it seems like everything is a go, I feel somewhat strange. In a few days, I’m going to begin walking. After walking for a few days, I’m going to continue walking. Then, after a few weeks of walking, yes, I am going to walk some more. Eventually, after five months of it, I will stop walking, if and only if I have made it to Canada. Sounds simple, but I get bored easily. I’ve never done anything quite like this before, so I can only guess how my mind and body will react. I’m pretty confident about how my body will react (aside from my ankles and hips), but I know my mind is going to go insane at least temporarily. I was trying to explain to a friend last night about how it will happen when my brain tries to make me quit. I think that at first my brain will tell me that I’m bored. Then it will tell me to quit, that there’s no point in going on if I’m not having fun. Eventually, I will tell it to go away and mind its own business, but it’s harassed me incessantly in the past, and it will continue harassing me on and on even after I’ve asked it to leave me alone. The trick is going to be telling it to go away, and remembering all the reasons that I am on the trail - the beauty, the challenge, the isolation.
I guess I have cold feet a little bit right now, but I’m quite excited. I know it will be the trip that defines the next chapters in my life, and I know that I will leave the trip a changed person.
The next post will be from the trail.
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