The Anderson hangover

Today after coffee and pancakes at the Anderson’s I felt a million bucks hiking to the first water cache 7 miles away. My feet felt the best they ever have on the trail which I attribute to the slower days, new shoes and constant foot soaking recently.

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At the first cache we had a couple of surprises including a shirtless man riding in on a horse and two trail angels bringing us beer, chips and chocolate cupcakes.

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UB and I decided to move out and start the 2,800 foot climb in the middle of the day. It was hot but nowhere as bad as yesterday. We stopped for some foot rest, mashed potatoes and sardines midday through and then continued another few miles to the next water source which was a ‘guzzler’ (basically a storm water drain) on the top of some concrete in the middle of a pine forest.

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After pumping the water for at least three other hikers who only had drops for purification, we cooked dinner and then made a comfortable home on the concrete near the water drain. Maybe this is what they call ‘roughing it’.

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We only went 14 miles today, one of our shortest days, and finished well before sunset. In fact we finished so early this afternoon we all sat around twiddling our thumbs, not sure exactly what to do when we’re not hiking, eating or sleeping.

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Hijacked by the Anderson’s

Pac Man and I had given up on going to the Anderson’s today as our feet had taken a beating and we had no energy to walk the extra 2 miles along the road to their place. Coincidently when we arrived at the fire station by the highway a van pulled up and Snort jumped out, picked up my pack and coaxed me into the car. Once I arrived I couldn’t understand my hesitation to go, this place was a relaxation haven and just what the doctor ordered.

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It was a long tough day for Pac Man and I up until this point. Neither of us slept well even though I wasn’t mauled by a cougar and didn’t wake up with a tarantula in my sleeping bag. I had the alarm set for 4:30am but we didn’t even stir until an hour later once the sun had started to rise.

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We had 7 miles until the next water cache and then another 7 to the highway. We walked the first half in the cooler part of the day and arrived at the cache by 10am. Sadly we just missed the beer left in the cooler but luckily there was still water to fill up with and deck chairs to chill out in the shade on.

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We hoped to reach the highway before the heat really set in but ended up hiking right through the hottest part of the day until 2:30pm. Neither Pac Man or I were in a happy place. Pac took a big fall and was lucky not to do more damage with his huge pack crashing on top of him. It was a challenge to get him back on his feet. My feet were unhappy again and I was almost at the end of my patience with my foot issues. I had mole skin, tape, fresh socks and was airing my feet regularly and STILL they were hurting! Grrrrrrr!

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Pac Man opted not to take the ride into Casa de Luna at the Anderson’s but I was so thankful I did. On arrival you receive a round of applause by all present, then I got a warm foot bath, a cocktail and a shady place to rest in the backyard with my feet up.

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Despite the group of hikers playing golf frisbee in the yard over my head, using me as a penalty if I was hit, I slept like a dream. When I woke up I got onto the phone to Super Dave in Mount Laguna who I bought gear off in my first week. We talked through my foot problems and I’ve now ordered some gel soles to put in my shoes that will cushion them and hopefully solve the issues I’m having. They’ll be waiting for me in Hiker Town 40 miles down the trail!

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UB was also passed out at the Anderson’s after his 24 mile push in the heat of the day after the Saufley’s. He has a few extra blisters but was in great spirits after a good rest. He introduced me to Craig (pictured above) who created the incredible software that helped me plan my resupply! Thanks Craig!

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When the sun went down we felt like we were at a high school house party! There was industrial proportions of taco salad and beer to consume! Terry and Joe told us the story of how they began to host hikers and the vibe was just so chilled. I honestly had to pinch myself as some parts of this hike are so unreal they actually feel like a dream.

Lions, tigers and tarantulas, oh my!

The adrenalin has been pumping this evening after Pac Man and I thought we heard something being attacked on the trail not far from where we had set up camp. The sounds were hard to decipher but it sounded like a woman in agony and lasted at least one minute. We decided to take my SPOT and walk back up the trail to investigate. On the way we passed a tarantula which freaked me out completely, but that was the only thing we saw after 15 minutes heading up the trail. We ended up calling the Anderson’s, trail angels about 14 miles from here just to raise a yellow flag. Pac Man spoke to Terry Anderson who said another hiker had recently woken up with a Cougar 10 feet away in this area. I can tell you I’m a little freaked out cowboy camping tonight, especially with Pac Man zipped up in his tent. But I’m determined not to let these creatures deter me from sleeping under the stars, not after working up the courage to do it in the first place.

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There was more drama this morning when I was cutting duct tape off my hiking pole with my pocket scissor and I slipped and sliced across the knuckle of my index finger on my left hand quite deeply. I ran to the kitchen with blood pouring out of my hand and luckily Pac Man was there to give me some paper towel to put around it and told me to hold it above my heart to stop the bleeding. He then created a small splint from a plastic knife so I can’t bend it and reopen the cut and then bandaged me up. I was a little shaken by the shock of the blood and the pain but luckily the splint is stopping me from hurting it further and hopefully it will heal in a few days.

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UB left earlier today to reach Hiker Town ahead of the pack so he can set up glow sticks for the walk along the aqua duct for ‘Glow in the dark’. He’s got a new pack and is travelling super lightweight, unlike Pac Man who is still carrying at least four times the weight of most hikers in his giant pack with 8 litres of water.

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Once we had packed up at the Saufley’s and sent out our bounce boxes and yet another small package back to Canada, we headed to the bakery to sit out most of the day’s heat and eat and drink real food before hitting the tail. I am now wearing the Cascade shoes that I found in the hiker box in Warner Springs and bounced to the Saufley’s at kick off. I decided not to make the trip to REI because I wanted to test these shoes first and see how my feet feel. They’re definitely better than sandals that’s for sure!

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We walked 9.5 miles this evening and have another 14 to go until the Anderson’s. We’re not sure we’ll stop in there as we just took a zero, but we’ll see what tomorrow holds and if I’m still in one piece after tonight!

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Hiker Heaven at the Saufley’s

I’m finally off my feet after persistent advice from Pac Man who I think has been banging his head against the wall trying to make me rest. With all the things to do when you reach town it’s hard to find the time to have your feet up above your heart, but considering I’ve lost sight of my ankles completely I realised it was time.

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Because we arrived in Hiker Heaven so late I missed the official tour so I brushed up on the facilities this morning discovering the laundry system, hiker clothes, foot baths and parcel service.

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UB had mentioned it would be like Christmas when I arrived because there were 5 parcels waiting for me. Two were actually from me but the other three came from Dr Sole, Dirty Girl and Ladybug (Sarah). Between them I got blister care, muscle care and chocolate, everything a thru hiker could possibly desire! Thank you SO much guys!!!

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Pac Man and I jumped on bikes and headed a mile down the road to the bakery. UB was there editing videos (the one I re-blogged in my previous post) so we all chilled out for a while drinking coffee and eating bakery treats. I bought some lunch food, paid my phone bill and headed back to Hiker Heaven to soak my feet for the second time and put them up in the air for as long as possible.

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UB has lost about 25 pounds and Pac Man 15 so we decided to go into town for pizza dinner. There were only two bikes and after attempting to sit up on the handlebars I saw a car just waiting out front of the Saufley’s so we hitched the one mile to Big Mouth. Pac Man ordered the largest pizza on the menu (and the planet) to the surprise of all staff who said it was impossible for three people to get through it. They were right!

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In a semi comatosed state we stumbled back down Darling Rd and snuggled up under the stars listening to the large group of hikers chatting around the campfire. It honesty feels like a long school camp except you’re free to do whatever you want, your only chore is to hike.

22 miles to Agua Dulce

After the hideous road walk yesterday my feet were swollen and my ankle blisters had returned. I knew it was going to take 22 miles before I could put my feet up and rest! Pac Man and I woke around 5am, had coffee and oatmeal then hit the trail around 7:15am.

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The pressure of my blisters stung with each step to the point where I had to sit everything down and perform typical surgery on those suckers! There was so much liquid that came out but as a result each footstep following the surgery stung like bejesus!!

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I tried focussing on Pac Man’s mantra of ‘pressure not pain’ until we reached the KOA campsite complete with picnic tables, shade and a store that sold ice cream and other goodies!

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After two ice creams, three packets of chips, a Gatorade and a Snickers bar I completely passed out. At one point I woke up because the sun had crept up on me and I was beginning to get dehydrated. Pac Man describes the scene as me waking up with drool and dirt stuck to one cheek and a leaf stuck to the other, while I searched around blindly for my water bladder then drunk from the tube like I was suckling at a teet. It’s important to look good out here, what can I say!

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We still had 11 miles to walk to the Saufley’s and left KOA at 6:15pm when the sun had finally cooled off. It was a climb straight out. My blisters had dried up a little but the bottoms of my feet felt raw from wearing sandals over 80 miles. We reached Hwy 14 when it was dark and had a spooky walk through the tunnel underneath. I was so glad I wasn’t on my own!


Once through the tunnel we entered an amazing canyon with boulders towering above us. It was super spooky in the dark, especially after Pac Man thought he saw a cougar. I had a feeling of anxiety and dread and made sure Pac Man didn’t get too far ahead of me in the dark. It was the longest 3 miles of my life and just as we reached the safety of the road Pac Man saw the cougar’s eyes again and an outline as it finally scampered off. I literally had chills. We arrived at the Saufley’s around 11pm after enjoying a Jagermeister and cold beer down the last one mile road stretch. We even turned down a hitch because I was so determined to make it the whole way on foot. In my next post I’ll describe what Hiker Heaven is like, I never want to leave!

Two days in one

Yesterday and today kind of rolled into one another because of the massive detour the day before. We woke at 5am up on the saddle and poor UB slept badly because of a huge infected blister he had on his heel. I convinced him to stab it Muk Muk style with a needle and although hesitant at first, he gave it a good lancing! We had about 5 miles to walk to the rejoin of the PCT close to water and a campsite. We bumped into Lion King coming in the opposite direction. He had been so worried about us after he heard from the Swedish guys that we went the wrong way because he didn’t think there was any water.

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We all ended up relaxing in the shade together and I had my first peanut butter and jelly wrap! UB and I spent most of the day watching and laughing over some of the videos we took the day before and sleeping off the long night hike.


We had to keep shuffling as the shade moved and eventually around 5pm we decided to head to the next water source at Cooper Canyon campground and then cook dinner before heading off to hike through the night again. We saw Pac Man’s name written in the dirt and heard from Lion King he was only a few miles ahead so we figured we’d catch him today.

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We cooked up another huge meal of mac and cheese, tuna casserole and salmon. We’ve both been blessed with huge trail appetites now and a lot of our day is dedicated to eating or talking about our next meal!

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We left the campsite as the sun was going down and thought about doing close to 20 miles. We passed the 400 mile mark but by midnight our bodies were beat and we ended up cowboy camping on an isolated dirt road after trying to pep ourselves up with a cup of coffee.

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After four hours we woke at 5am and got up to hike again. We were having a good chatter this morning about the rules of cricket, golf and the like when we stumbled across Pac Man packing up his campsite. I hadn’t seen him since Warner Springs and it honestly felt like years had passed and so much had taken place for both of us since then.

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The three of us hiked together and at one point a helicopter circled us and flew above us stationary in the sky for a few moments. UB freaked out that maybe he had accidentally hit his spot and signalled for rescue but I think they must have just been practising.

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Once again there were some beautiful views along the way. A detour because of a fire a few years back meant we were road walking about 4 miles to a ranger station to rest and get water at for the next long stretch.

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After a late breakfast of oatmeal we rationed our food for one more day and tried to get our pack weight down. It was 36 miles to Agua Dulce from the ranger station and UB had in mind he might try and do the entire distance in one day. Unfortunately another 14 mile road walk because of the poisonous Poodle Dog Bush on the trail meant a huge uphill climb and extremely sore feet for me in my sandals. I even had to go back to wearing my purple Frocs because the pain was so bad. UB went ahead but Pac Man and I called it a day around 7:30pm after 26 miles. My feet were so tender I spent most of the last 2 hours distracting myself by talking out loud in my Margaret Thatcher accent, making up stories about the PCT for Pac Man who soon asked for silence on the final stretch. We were both hurting when we set up camp and discovered UB is only 3 miles ahead because he ran out of batteries for his headlamp. Tomorrow we’ve got 22 miles to the Saufley’s Hiker Haven in Agua Dulce, can wait to soak and rest my feet!

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Happy feet

Today was an absolute breakthrough for my feet! I wore a very thin pair of socks and my Kamik sandals and my feet were dancing up the trail! I was nervous about climbing back up the Acorn Trail from to 1,500 feet in 2 miles, but with happy feet we were at the top before we knew it!

We woke early and Wendy and I went for breakfast at the Evergreen Cafe. Naturally it was filled with hikers and gave us an opportunity to catch up with a few trail folk. It was a quaint little place with big sunflowers hanging from the roof which would move up and down whenever someone entered the cafe.

I had to make a trip to the post office to send my resupply box ahead to Etna. I still had so much food left over and UB had another mountain to sort through so I tried to bounce it ahead. Unfortunately it wasn’t sent priority mail originally so I had to pay to forward it. I’m sure the guy in Bellingham said they were sent priority mail… Grrrrr, a good lesson for those new to the US postal system. I also finally sent home my e-reader and a few pairs of socks I had accumulated. Expect another package BJ, it’s starting to add up.

Snort who worked at the Dirty Girl stand with UB and I at the kick off was back on the trail after suffering glandular fever and was waiting for us at the start of the Acorn Trail. She organised for someone from the house at the trail head to come pick us up from town and drive us up there! Champions!!

It was steep climbing but warmed us up for what was to come. The wind was absolutely fierce and with my sleeping pad acting as a fin on the back of my pack I was being blown in all sorts of directions. We could see Baden Powell in the distance and headed in its direction wondering when the best time to summit it would be. We decided at 5:30pm at the bottom of the mountain to start the 4 mile ascent. Miraculously after 2 miles of straight up we came across Lion King resting up in the woods with just enough spaces for us all to sleep on flat ground.

We cooked dinner as the sun set, drank hot chocolate and then jumped into our sleeping bags under the stars. We have 7 miles until water so we’re all on rations and rather thirsty. The good thing is we’ll start hiking at 4:30am to see the sun rise from the peak and then head downhill until we hit water before the sun gets too hot. Goodnight for now from Baden Powell.

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One month down

Last night at midnight after 19 hours of walking was the first night I was too exhausted to write my blog (plus I haven’t had signal for two days). We finally crashed out under the stars on Burkhart Saddle after approximately 32 miles, most of which were straight up.

The day started with a 4am wake up call and a 4:30am departure from camp straight up to the summit of Baden Powell. My muscles were so cold and stiff I felt I was hardly moving, but seeing UB up ahead and knowing we needed to reach the summit by sunrise kept me going.

We were low on water so I was trying to conserve as much as possible for the climb down. When we were 0.3 miles from the top we dumped our packs, grabbed some food and the water we had left and ran/hobbled to the peak.

We arrived at 5:30am as the colours in the sky became more dramatic and just before the sun peeped its head over the horizon. Like the sunrise on San Jacinto, it was just magical. Lion King made it up too just as the sun had risen so we all sat in ore until our muscles had thawed and we were able to muster the energy for the hike down.

Just before our next water source we came across the two Swedish hikers Laptop and Feather. We were all discussing the upcoming alternate Endangered Species route which detours a part of the PCT where some kind of endangered yellow frog lives. The official detour is 20 miles and the old detour is 4 miles, but goes along Hwy 2 for half the length. We sat there puzzled wondering who and why anyone would take the long detour.

That question was answered about 2 hours later when UB and I ran into some day hikers who said they were surprised to see anyone on this trail. We both looked at one another then asked what trail we were on. Yes you guessed it, WE were on the long detour because neither of us realised we’d taken the wrong trail. We were 3 miles into the 20 long stretch and both agreed going back, although still a lot shorter, just wasn’t an option.

We laughed at our stupidity as we continued through some of the most treacherous washed out trail we’d seen on this hike. The views were stunning and the rock formations and valleys were like non we’d seen. UB even caught a baby rattle snake which he was going to pick up until I freaked out so he let it go.

We reached a campground after 6 miles where we were warned about some drunken locals hanging out. We met a few of them and had quick introductions until a second group of drunk teenagers showed up, one dragging a huge shot gun. I had my back to them and UB kept an eye on them from under the rim of his hat until they disappeared out of sight. My whole body was tense and I was trying to determine from UB’s body language if this situation was ok or if we had to make a really quick exit.

We left soon after having just eaten pasta with salmon, smoked oysters and mashed potato mixed into one pot. We knew the rest of the detour climbed around 2,500 feet and dropped into valleys along the way. We also had limited daylight and were resigned to the fact that a lot of our walking would be in the dark.

At our first water source we got attacked by mosquitos and lost the trail for about 20 minutes. Soon after the sun went down my body switched into machine mode. We hiked without headlamps for a while but turned them on not long before UB spotted a mountain lion far down another trail. I wasn’t too concerned until another few miles down the trail he started yelling and banging his poles and pushed in front of me to scare off another one crouching right next to the trail. I didn’t even see the beast but UB saw its outline scamper off when we started to yell.

UB was amped after this encounter and I was keen to push on knowing that if we had to hike this section in the daytime I’d never make it. The last push was 5 miles straight up. Other than Kilimanjaro I’ve never done a relentless climb like this after so much other hiking during the day. If UB didn’t promise me hot chocolate at the top I’m not sure I would have made it. We reached the saddle around 11:30pm, threw our sleeping mats on the ground and crawled into our sleeping bags absolutely pooped. I could sleep my body was aching so badly. I can’t believe I was able to hike over so many jagged rocks in socks and sandals for 19 hours. It was a truly epic day and we both fell asleep satisfied knowing we’re probably two of the only thru hikers that will take that route this year.

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Goodbye Salomons

After a somewhat traumatic blister day I have taken drastic action. The Salomons are in the bin and I have bought myself some very stylish hiking sandals which conveniently have holes where all my blisters are so they can breath (and hopefully heal).

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I started off around 5:30am this morning and was truly still half asleep for at least the first hour. I was wearing my Frocs from the beginning of the day which worked well until the stony ground became more jagged and steep and I started slipping and sliding all over the place. We climbed close to 5000 feet from McDonalds which started to take its toll as the day heated up.

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As you can see from my videos in the previous post I was having all sorts of foot troubles. I tried modifying my shoes with duct tape and chux super wipes which managed to get me to the top of the Acorn Trail heading into Wrightwood. This is where I noticed that my small toe was three times its normal size filled with liquid.

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I went through many different emotions today, met some new hikers, saw a fox, cried, popped more blisters and eventually found my way to Wrightwood. I scored a ride to town thanks to UB and Lion King who had jumped ahead and met me at the bottom of the hideous Acorn Trail with a random dude in a borrowed ute.

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Once in town I reunited with UB, drank coffee, then ran my errands including a trip to the post office, hardware store and supermarket. I finally got to pick up my Muk Muk key ring which will now travel with me back to Canada!

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I think I was over hungry when I got to town and actually had to force three tacos down at dinner. Following that we sorted out food for the next few days, repacked my backpack and cleaned out all of my cooking items including the rice and black bean that has been festering in my pack for two days. It smelt out the entire bathroom!

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UB, Lion King, Wendy and I are all sleeping in the same room tonight with girls in the bed and boys on the floor. It honestly feels like we’re on a school camp! Tomorrow I’ll be testing out the new sandals and will have to climb 1,500 feet up the Acorn Trail back to the trail, not looking forward to that one!

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