The Mexican border was looming ever closer. I was currently in Northern New Mexico. It was quite beautiful. It just so happens that New Mexico had it’s coldest fall in 15 years. I got snowed on multiple times. Far from the desert scrub I was imagining. No rattlesnake to surprise me this time.
I was flying high and cranking out milelage. Fast forward to the Gila River alternate. I was 40 miles from Silver City. I had a choice. Hike 40 miles on highway, or ford the Gila River 52 times. I took the former. I did my personal best that day. The best part? Arbys.
My final day on trail was October 31st, 2018. What a day to remember. I finished the Triple Crown with my dad by my side and my mother and grandmother met us later that day. I wss now 1 of 400 people in the world to have completed this challenge. 7,500 miles and 22 states later. My life was complete. Thanks be to God.
I have never been so parched in my entire life. I was currently in the middle of the 36 mile waterless strectch in southern California. It was October of 2016. I had just had over 500 miles to go on my Pacific Crest Trail thru hike. I was getting closer to the Triple Crown and I could feel the lure. But first and foremost, I was thinking about water. I was camped 9 miles from highway 58, where the town of Tehachapi was waiting. But there was one problem. I was out of water. I woke up feeling sore. I ran the last 9 miles. All down hill. I got to the highway and hitched. Two hours later, somone decided to pick me up. They were even nice enough to drive me to McDonald’s. I got the largest cup on the menu and filled it with Coke. Then I filled it with water. Finally, I was quenched.
The last 500 miles were a whirlwind. Some things that stick out in my mind were getting trapped in a thunderstorm on San Jacinto, walking the Mojave Desert, and trekking through the San Gabriel mountains while walking past tigers and bears. Yes, you heard that right.
On my last day, I met my parents near Campo and walked the last couple of steps to the monument. It was bittersweet, but I was content. I have thru hiked the entire 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail. There was now only one thing on my mind…
What can I say? Colorado is stunning! I timed it perfectly with the leaves. The aspens have turned yellow, gold, and orange. Fall is upon me. As I rest up here in Salida, I an reflecting on my last month. I only have 866 miles to go and 33 days. On October 31st, I will be one of less than 400 people in the entire world to have completed the Triple Crown challenge.
The trail in Colorado is beautiful. Massive 14,000 foot peaks surrounded me, aspen leaves littered the trail like confetti, and pockets of turquoise lakes punctured the landscape.
Some highlights in Colorado were:
1. Hiking with my best friend from Grand Lake to Rollins Pass.
2. Hiking and spending time with one of three triple triple crowners. His name is Let It Be.
3. Seeing two bull moose close up.
4. Staying at 3 killer hostels.
5. Staring face to face with a mountain lion in the dark.
All of these things have made Colorado great!
I need to get booking though… I got snowed on climbing a pass and the nights and mornings are bone chilling cold. Winter is coming. I have to sleep with my filter to avoid it freezing. Once I reach New Mexico (Oct 4), I can breathe easy.
Thank you so much for the support and I looking foreard to seeing many of you in a little more than a month.
What can I say? Wyoming is a great state. My favorite so far. It kicked off with Yellowstone National Park. Not only was the trail easy, but I got to see Old Faithful erupt, I got to walk by several geyers and natural hot springs, and I even followed a llama for about 10 miles. It had escaped its owners and had been roaming around for about a week. I guess it wanted to be free to roam. I don’t blame it. I want the same thing in life. “I got no time for coolin’ heels I’ve got to roam”-Myles Kennedy, Year of the Tiger.
After passing through Yellowstone, I entered into the Teton-Bridger wilderness, in which I spooked a grizzly bear, and I also crossed parting of the waters which is where a creek forks in two and each tributary drains into two different oceans. Pretty damn cool. I rested in Dubois, WY in which I had the best smoked buffalo and spicky elk sausage I’ve ever had. They even had it in an omelette. I ended up eating at that establishment four times.
After Dubois came the Wind River Range. I knew I had to push 30s to get to Lander on time. One minor drawback was the snowstorm I got caught in at 11,000 feet. I had to beat the snow off of my tent several times during the night to keep my tent from collaspsing. That day, it snowed, hailed, sleeted, and rained. Yes you heard that right. I was lucky to have escaped. I was actually excited to be in the Basin for I knew it would not snow.
After resting in Lander, I headed into the Great Basin. A giant wasteland of sage brush and dried up creeks, cow patties, and sand. Lots of sand. And cows. The entire four day stretch through the basin was on roads. I’m not kidding. Dirt and gravel roads. Which was fine with me. I’m quite fond of road walking because that means I can push big miles. Overall, from Dubois to Rawlins, I did 9, 30 mile days in a row. I’m beat.
I celebrated by taking a rest day in Rawlins, WY. I’m halfway done my solo trek of the CDT! 1,400 miles in. A couple of days to Colorado and the high country. Let’s keep the snow to a minimum please. I’d never thought I’d say that seeing as when I lived in Alaska, I prayed for snow so I could make the climbing more fun. The CDT is a whole different ball game.
Life is good. God is great. When life gives you limes, make a gin and tonic.
Happy Labor Day.
Jacob a.k.a. Fish
Hey ya’ll. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve blogged and I’m very excited to share with you my experiences over the last several hundred miles.
After leaving Butte, MT, I knew that I didn’t want to do over 30 miles consistently every day. That hurt my body in a way I never wanted to experience again. However, the goal was to make it to the next rest stop in 10 days or so. I had been hiking for about a month so I figured I had my trail legs. I did. I did not however have my trail knees. I discovered the hard way. It started on day 8.
As if I hadn’t learned the first time, I blazed out of the gates of Butte like a triple crown favorite at the belmont stakes. Even though the trail conditions were prime, the ups and downs were getting more frequent, but I kept doing big miles. Between 28-30 miles to be exact. I was feeling pretty good. Until one morning.
I was camped at the bottom of a steep climb that would take me over a pass situated at about 9,000 feet. I left camp at around 8:00 a.m. My usual time. I took my first step with excitement as I do every day and to my dismay, my left knee wobbled like a bobble head doll. Ouch!! My ligament! Or patella? I didn’t know where the pain was coming from. It hurt all over. I hobbled up the pass and finally I collasped to the ground.
I could not bear the pain any longer. I called my mother. I always do when I’m in distress. What to do? She gave me a list of options. I sat there trying not to get sick. Trying to be calm. No use wasting energy. I checked my maps. 8 miles from the nearest road. And wouldn’t you know it? It lead to a town. Godwink. My mother and I formulated a plan and I limped the whole way to the road. It took all of my strength. I got to the road and had service. Godwink. I called the only hotel in Jackson, MT. I explained my situation. A young lady came and picked me up and drove me to town. I entered the hotel. Hobbled to the bed. My head hit the pillow. Lights out.
I woke up a little while later, hungry and aching. I took a hot shower and gathered my thoughts. I sure as hell wasn’t going to hike the next day. Maybe even the next. I was still trying to decide if I needed to go to the hospital. “Wait until morning.” I told myself this repeatedly. I got something to eat at the neighboring cafe. I came back to the room and got out my maps. Planning time.
I came to the realization that if I wanted to finish this trail, I needed to decrease my mileage, and shorten my route. It was no longer going to be 3,000 miles. However, I wanted the triple crown more than anything. I did not want to jepordize it by burning myself out. So I decided that I was going to take alternates in Colorado and New Mexico that would shorten my journey by 100s of miles. I felt better about the whole thing. About not taking the official route? Who cares anymore. This trail is known as the hike your own adventure trail. Multiple routes can be taken to arrive at the same destination. I like that. It felt liberating to no longer be constricted by my own standards on taking the official route. My health is far more important. As far as the hospital, I decided not to go.
These past 10 days have been nothing short of fabulous. Since my injury, I have shortened my days, walked slower, took more frequent breaks; and have done more stretching. I find myself in the town of Bozeman, MT where I am spending time with cousins. They have been so generous with there hospitality. I cross into Wyoming tomorrow. I also enter Yellowstone National Park.
All I can really say is this. Life is good. God is great. When life gives you limes, make a gin and tonic.
This post is short and sweet. The goal was simple. Make it to Butte in 3 days. That would require me to hike 102 miles from Hwy 12 at McDonald Pass to Interstate 90 at Homestake Pass. Possible? Yes. Fun? Not so much. The only reason I saw this fit was a slight discrepancy in mileages between my topo maps and my guthook app. The app was more accurate. I quickly realized that I had underestimated my total mileage of my route. By over 200 miles. Damn.
In order for me to finish the trail by my goal date of October 31, I have to average a minumum of 26 miles per day for the next 97 days. 3,000 miles in 122 days. Game on.
I knew what I had to do over the course of these 3 days. So I hiked 32 miles out of Helena. The next day, I did 35 miles. A personal best. The last day into town, I pulled off another 35 mile day. Spectacular.
The best part? Another trail angel who is a mutual friend gave me a ride to town and hosted me for two nights. The icing on the cake? A chocolate milkshake. What would the world look like without angels???
With 1 percent remaining on my phone and my battery pack dead, I knew I was in for an adventure. I had 15 miles of walking to town and daylight was quickly fading, I decided to pitch my tent right next to a forest service road. I had been walking roads for the past few hours and my feet were sore. My first 30 mile day had come to an end.
My main navigational source was an app called guthook. It had a red line for the trail and an arrow (me) that would indicate whether I was on trail or not. Without this app, my maps would do, but my maps didn’t tell me about every little intersection or confusing parts. So the fun part was trying to get to town without getting lost in the wilderness.
The next morning, I remember getting to a four way intersection. I had no idea which way to go. So I asked God. I said, “God, show me the way!” I turned left. The best left I ever made. A couple of miles down the road, I ran into these two women. And a CDT trail sign. The first in over 10 miles. God works miracles.
When I approached the women, I asked them for a favor. I asked them if I could text a “trail angel” and ask her for a ride and place to stay. A trail angel was anyone who performs any type of hospitality to hikers free of charge. The form of hospitality is called “trail magic”. To my dismay, the trail angel was out of town for the week. This is the crazy part. One of the ladies was the only other trail angel in town. Not only did she give me a ride, but she hosted me at her home for two nights. Shower. Laundry. Meals. PURE GOLD.
This day taught me an important lesson. There is always a sign. As we drove down the highway, we passed a huge billboard of Jesus spreading his arms out in love. It said, “I am the way.” Chills to the core. My very soul was glowing.
If I thought that I climbed over enough fallen trees on the PCT, then I was surely mistaken. Miles upon miles of trees from last years fire covered the trail and made it nearly impossible to follow the path. But alas, I quickly found out that my navigation app did not use cellular data and ran off of the gps programmed into the phone. No more reliable phone than the iPhone 5. Period.
Anyways, my phone helped me navigate the trail through the bad sections. The pristine maps I carried did nothing and my gps did not have the trail in detail so there ya go. And that is why you carry 3 forms of navigation. One of them will usually work.
The section through the Bob Marshall was peaceful and was actually a lot easier to hike than Glacier. A lot more dirt paths through the forest with gentle gradients. No real valley to pass and repeat. Also, the fording of rivers was easy. No more than knee deep. I will say my waterproof socks did come in handy. As far as wildlife, no bears, but plenty of mosquitoes who got there fill of blood and a nice mule deer just outside of benchmark.
Overall, I was quite pleased with this section. So far, I’ve completed 233.5 miles of trail. I have been on trail for 15 days. Only 105 more to go!! Haha. Next stop, Scapegoat Wilderness and Montana’s capital, Helena!!!
The final trek has begun. The last trail of the triple crown challenge was laid out at my feet, like a welcoming door mat in a suburban neighborhood. Of course, the physical trail resembled nothing like a neighborhood, but more of my feelings for it. To me, the trail was home. After all, I will have spent roughly 1.2 years in the wilderness alone in the last 4 years while trekking across the country. I dreamed about this moment for a long time. No longer did I have that wanderlust while looking at the front page of backpackers magazine or envy the outdoor guides for there extravagant lifestyles. I am living the dream now.
The best part about starting this trail? My dad hiked with me for the first four days. This was my chance to get broken in and get my trail legs without destroying my body. For the 4 days we hiked, we averaged about 12-13 miles a day. My dad kept up and he was in shape!! A significant improvement from our Mt. Whitney climb. Some of my favorite moments during our time together was hiking through a pass with sideways hail with 50-60 miles per hour sustained winds, encountering a grizzly bear at 10 yards (yes that’s right), and hanging around camp smoking our favorite cigars.
Dad describes Glacier National Park as some of the most beautiful scenery he has ever hiked in. He hopes to join me in Colorado to climb Grays Peak, the tallest point on the Continental Divide Trail. As for me, I’m feeling pretty stoked about the journey. 2,750 miles in 120 days. Southbound. Solo. What more could I ask for? Maybe a portable soda machine…
Wow what a sight!! I couldn’t believe my eyes as I climbed up out of Sonora Pass and into the high country above 10,000 feet. The moon was full and a spectacular sunset was about to take place. I was feeling so euphoric that I hiked into the night and arrived at camp late. At this point, I had Yosemite on my mind.
The high Sierra portion of the trail was by far the most difficult physically but the shear beauty of granite (and lots of it) made up for the water loss (sweat) as I slogged up the passes like a pack mule. The trail through the Sierras passes through three National Parks. They are Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia.
All three were spectacular, but Yosemite stuck in my mind like super glue. Meandering through meadows full of little red flowers, fording streams chalk full of golden trout, catching sneak peaks of waterfalls, and conquering Donahue Pass with a heavy load while a pack of coyotes cheered us on made this section a memory that will last a lifetime. I even got to chat with some climbers about some of the rock features in the park such as the world famous Half Dome.
What can I say, this section from South Lake Tahoe to Southern Kennedy Meadows is a dream come true. About 400 miles of natural beauty caused by time and weathering.
One of my favorite times in the high mountains was summiting the 14,505 foot Mt. Whitney and then subsequently hiking two more days to Cottonwood Pass with my dad. My dad took on the challenge like a champion. It took us all day to complete the hike. 17 miles round trip and 4,500 feet of elevation gain. Needless to say we were too tired to eat much dinner in camp.
Everything in the past 3 weeks has been a pleasure to experience and I hope I find myself back in the Sierras again hiking the John Muir Trail. At this point I’m 750 miles from the finish and have a month left of hiking. Halloween can’t come soon enough. It will definitely be the definition of bittersweet.
It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. It’s been 2.5 weeks but I’ve been doing some solid hiking up until this point to try and cover some ground.
So far, I’ve done about 1,500 miles since my start in late June. I crossed the halfway point on September 2. It’s amazing how many more miles I’m doing consistently per day than the AT. I’m doing between 25-30 miles. Also, I achieved my personal record near Shasta California with 33 miles in one day.
What can I say, California is beautiful. The large slabs of granite, the wildflowers, snowcapped jagged peaks, and huge pine trees have made for an enjoyable couple of weeks so far. I have begun to enter the higher elevations of the Sierras. It won’t be long before I cross Sonora Pass and be in the high Sierras, which are considered the crown jewel of the trail.
I have about a month and half left of hiking. The two most challenging parts are left. The high Sierras and the desert. The advantage of hiking southbound on the trail is that when you hit these two areas, it’s cooler, not as many bugs, and the snowpack is manageable. The only disadvantage is the days are shorter so waking up super early is a must. I look forward to hiking Mt. Whitney with my dad which will be the third week of September.
A couple of things I noticed about Cali. The people are super friendly. I havent had too much trouble hitching rides to and from town. A couple even hosted me in their home and fed me and let me use their shower!! Also, the towns themselves are pretty cool. I remember a couple of towns that reminded me of towns back home like Sierra city which has a population of 250. Another wonderful thing is I get to hike a lot with a view. Nothing motivates me more than being able to see ahead.
I just wanted to thank all of the people who support me and follow my blog. I will be finished around the 31st of October. I look forward to attending two PSU football games. I can smell the finish!!!
I can’t believe I will be in California tonight!! The 455 miles of Oregon trail have taken me a little over three weeks to hike. The trail itself was very mellow compared to Washington, however it was dry and dusty and mosquitoes were constant due to the number of lakes and ponds.
I will keep this post short and sweet. I figure since I aspire to write a book about my adventures, I will give you all of the details then.
Here are tree highlights about Oregon. The first was spending a day in Bend. I got to do the pub tour and visit 4-5 breweries. We had to peddle the bar around so my legs were pretty sore after, but it was worth it. Also, carboloading was a pleasure as always.
The second highlight was hiking Crater Lake National Park with my dad. We hiked the official PCT and the rim trail, which gives you stellar views of the lake!! I can’t thank my dad enough for the support. We had plenty of adventure on the trail and the lack of water was so bad seeing as there were two caches and all of the seasonal creeks and springs were full of water.
The last highlight was staying in Ashland, OR. A guy namesd Chris let me stay at his house and he fed me dinner, and offered shower and laundry. We hung out downtown and visited a local fly fishing shop and specialized backpacking and adventure sports stores. Ashland is definitely one of my favorite trail towns thus far.
So far, I have hiked nearly 1,000 miles. California is nearly 1,700 miles long. It will take me roughly 2.5 months to complete. I am very much looking forward to summiting Mt. Whitney with my dad in late September. I’ve heard the Sierras are the crown jewel of the trail. I hope I couldn’t agree more.
For those of you wondering what I eat on the trail after the first month of a long distance hike, (this is when the “hiker hunger” hits) here is what an average day of food looks like. Total caloric intake is between 2,500-3,000 calories. To add extra calories to my three main meals and snacks, I supplement with rather large spoonfuls of honey peanut butter which adds about 200 extra calories to each food item.
After two incredible back to back 27 mile days, I was within 4 miles of the border. I woke up early and reached the monument at 10 that morning. Success!! 506 miles in one month! It was July 22.
Because I couldn’t go into Canada, I had to turn around and go back to Hart’s Pass which was 30 miles south. I arrived on Saturday morning and rode in the back of a big white panel van with 3 other women all the way to Seattle. The couple that drove us were trail angels in disguise!!
Becuase my shoes had big holes in them, I went to REI and got new ones! I felt like a new man. On top of that, one of the girls let me spend the night at her apartment which overlooked the space needle. Very cool. Ended the night with a well deserved burger, jalopeno poppers, and a cold porter.
The next day, I rode Amtrak to Portland and then took a series of rides back to Cascade Locks where I started on the 22nd of June. Full circle. This sweet gem of a town is located along the Columbia River at the Washington/Oregon Border. This is also the lowest point on the PCT right at the Bridge of the Gods. It was this excact place where Cheryl Strayed ended her life changing hike on the PCT.
For now, it’s rest and reflection. Tomorrow, game time. Oregon, here I come.
This was one of the easiest sections I’ve hiked in Washington and also my best mileage days so far. 3 days of 22 miles, one day of 24 miles, and one day of 23 miles.
There were a couple of highlights in this section. One was the community of Stehekin which was situated along lake Chelan. I took a zero here and I was lucky enough to have been invited too stay at the lodge for two nights! Also, there a cherry pie at the bakery.
The other highlight was crossing rainy pass and canping below cutthroat pass. If you remember, I originally started at rainy pass and got turned around by deep snow and illness. To be able to finally connect the dots was a blessing.
The only complaint I had was the overgrowth. Soaked from head to toe and I didnt even eat any salmon berries!
At this point I was less than 60 miles from the Canadian border.
1 section to go!
This was a rather short section. It took me 3.5 days to complete it. I don’t remember much from this section so I won’t say a whole lot.
One thing that stuck in my mind was Dinsmores Hiker Haven. This was one of the coolest places I’ve stayed. The PCT dorm had sofas, bunk beds, hiker collectables, and guitars.
Also, the store across the street had excellent food and had a tent set up for hikers with a fire pit in the middle. There was a banner put up welcoming thru hikers.
3 sections down, 2 to go!
After escaping the mild ordeal in Goat Rocks Wilderness, I was ready to hit some easier patches of trail. Indeed it came true, as I was able to do my first 20 mile day hiking out of white pass. That night, I camped at the border of Mt. Rainier National Park. In the morning, I saw a spectacular view of the glaciated peak in all of its glory. Kinda enough to make you cry. Such beauty at our fingertips.
As for snow, it improved slightly with only one confusing snow field (fog blanketed the trail) at chinook pass. As for weather, well….it’s Washington. Wet socks were a constant. I lost my extra pair of darn tough socks before the interstate so I got a ride from a gentleman at the hotel to a specialty shop close to Seattle that had the socks I wanted. Now, I always carry 3 pairs of socks.
I took a zero day at the motel to let my feet heal up. The skin was raw from hiking 20 miles the day before.
Two sections down, three to go!