PCT thru hike 2016: Trout Lake to Hwy 12 (White Pass)

Hello everyone,

After 10 days of hiking, I have reached Hwy 12, which is the end of my first section on the PCT. So far, I have hiked 148 miles. I have been averaging approx 15 miles a day. This is quite an improvement from the Appalachian Trail where I only averaged about 10-12 miles a day for the first week and a half.

The past several days have involved extensive snow travel in the Mount Adams and Goat Rocks Wilderness areas. More specifically, I have hiked multiple miles traversing steep snow slopes, mountain passes, and ridgelines. Route finding has been challenging without a gps.

This brings me to an important point. Always carry a gps in the backcountry. Physical maps are a great resource, but when snow covers the trail as was the case during the past couple of days, maps can only get you so far.

Two days ago, I lost the trail and had to set up an emergency camp. By sending a SPOT gps tracking signal to my parents, they were able to direct me back onto the trail so I could retrace my steps. I saw where I made my mistake. Never let your guard down at the end of a long day.

So far, I’ve learned a lot of lessons on the trail. One, always carry a bug net. Two, carry a gps so you can plug in waypoints to make route fiding easier. Three, have a backup plan and tell people where you are going. Most inportant of all, stay calm and keep a level head.

All in all, I’m having the time of my life and seeing some amazing views. Next stop, Snoqualmie Pass.

Have a great 4th of July weekend everybody. God bless America.

Fish

 

PCT thru hike 2016: Cascade Locks, OR to Trout Lake, WA

Hello everybody!

First off, thank you to everyone who continues to support me throughout this hike. Your support is much needed!

The trail has been great so far. Lots of great scenery and wildlife. So far, I’ve seen black bear, elk, deer, a coyote, giant slugs, giant newts, and a bald eagle.

For those of you who don’t know, last week I had a minor setback with too much snow on the trail mixed in with an illness. As of today, I’m feeling 100 percent.

I reached the town of trout lake today. I have completed approx 75 miles of trail since the start of my hike.

My hike started in Cascade Locks, OR which is on the Oregon/Washington border. It’s also the lowest point on the PCT, somewhere around 200 feet above sea level.

I plan to hike north to the Canadian border and then hitch a ride back down to Cascade Locks to continue my hike southbound to the Mexican border.

For now, its a burger, some beer, a cherry turnover, a giant cherry popsicle, and 2 squirts.

Next stop, White Pass.

Fish

P.s. Two quotes of the day: 1. “Why dream the dream, when you can live the dream.” 2.”Our lives are better than your vacation.”

 

O Malley Peak Climb

Greetings,

Today was the day. The air had an austere feeling to it. One that was filled with anticipation and the relatively unknown events that were about to unfold on the upper mountain of O Malley Peak, which is situated at 5,184 feet. Despite the unknown, I knew that everything would run smoothly. I had been on this part of the range twice, having scouted out the area while getting some ridge climbing in. You see, I racked up two failed attempts on this particular peak and I was getting antsy. I knew that the summit would keep digging at me until I finally placed myself on its snowy pinnacle. However, in the back of my mind, I knew that dangers existed on the mountain. Cornices, avalanches, wind blowing ice at my exposed face, and slick rock were among a few challenges that I would face. My experience has brought me to this point. Why back down now? So it was with great joy that I found myself on the snowy tundra heading toward the west ridge of the mountain. The initial climb was tedious work. I plunged each foot into the thick snow one after the other for what seemed like hours. Finally, I made the ridge line that would take me to the summit direct. The views at that point made me burst into tears. Too many mountains to count! In this moment in time, I realized that the summit was within reach! I was at it for three and a half hours. It would take me four hours total to reach the summit. I took a swig of my gatorade and moved on towards the top. When I made the summit, I jumped with joy. It hit me like a ton of bricks. All of my hard work had payed off. I stayed up on the desolate peak for about five minutes than headed back down, this time with a leap in my step. I celebrated with some cold drinks and reminisced about the adventure that I just had.

Winter Mountaineering Gear

Hey guys,

Here are some pictures of gear that I take on one day mountain climbing trips in the winter months. Note that the mountains I currently climb are non technical so make sure to consult an expert in the field if you are considering technical climbing! Thank you. Also, this gear list was planned around temperatures in the sub zero range with possible wind and rain. Happy climbing! image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

Introduction to Mountaineering

Hello everyone,

This has been my first post since I finished hiking the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. I want to say thank you again to all that followed my adventures. This next chapter in my life has involved me moving to Alaska to pursue a career in the outdoor guiding industry for hiking/backpacking, mountaineering, and/or especially fly fishing. Recently, I discovered a passion for mountaineering, one of the most challenging, yet rewarding outdoor activities out there. When I was a fishing guide in Estes Park, CO in the summer of 2013, I climbed my first mountain (Long’s Peak) which has an elevation of 14,256 feet. Since then, I’ve went on to summit 12 mountains, 7 of which were in Colorado and five here in my home of Alaska. There lies an intimate beauty with mountains. The history, culture, nature, science, and the people that surround these exaggerated risen pieces of the earth crust lures the curious one to the mountain’s front doorstep. The precipice beckons. The crux makes us question our margin of safety. People who have perished in the rarefied air of higher elevations is a mystery. The mountains were once sacred and feared. They were reserved for the Gods. In present time, mountaineering presents a feasible outlet to escape the demands of everyday life and societal norms. I consider the mountains my home. My freedom ground. All it took was one climb. The climb that started it all.

Farewell to Appalachia

As my entire hike flashed before my eyes, Springer Mtn. loomed ever nearer. I had a mere 21 miles to the finish from highway 60. I was so excited to be finished, but at the same time, I did not want to leave the woods which have been my home for the past 5 months. The people, scenery, and the wildlife have made this trip one to remember. I walked over the last stretch of Georgian Trail and stopped a mile short of the summit at big stamp gap, which was a forest road. I only had to wait ten minutes for my parents. What I didn’t realize was that my grandparents were in the car as well. I was so emotional, I had to turn away from the camera. The five of us hiked the last mile together and I reached the summit at 4 pm on October 22, 2014. I was feeling many emotions, but happiness overcame every one of them. I had just walked pretty much the entire length of the eastern seaboard and I was happy as a clam. We had beers to celebrate and my buddy Marcus and I celebrated our hike together. We had a celebratory dinner afterwords and I fell asleep late at the hotel.

This journey was everything and more and I can’t wait for my next adventure! Thank you to my support team! I couldn’t have done it without you guys!

In the famous words of John Muir, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.”

Fish

General Stats/Other Info

1. I walked 2,186 miles in 4 months and 20 days.

2. I walked through 14 different states:
-Maine
-New Hampshire
-Vermont
-Massachusetts
-Connecticut
-New York
-New Jersey
-Pennsylvania
-Maryland
-West Virginia
-Virginia
-Tennessee
-North Carolina
-Georgia

3. I walked through two national parks and eight national forests.

4. One in four hikers complete a thru hike. 10% of all thru hikers are SOBO.

5. There are more people all time who have summited Mt. Everest than have completed a SOBO thru hike all time.

Fish

Favorite things about the trail

1. The White Mountains of New Hampshire. I liked this because I was above tree line for the majority of the time and I got great views! Also, the weather was cooler. It’s a lot better that hot and humid.

2. Southern Pennsylvania. I really enjoyed being close to home and walking through farmland and paralleling streams. My favorite town on the entire trail is Boiling Springs, PA. It’s a fly-fishing town so go figure.

3. The Smokey Mtns. Even though It was foggy and rainy most of the time, I got to hike with my dad for a couple of days which made for a good experience. I enjoyed the company and the extra food!

4. Trail magic. My favorite one was in New York. The cooler was filled with sugary drinks, little Debbie’s, tuna packets, a variety of fruit, and bagels, which were my favorite. My buddy and I took our lunch break there.

5. The people. Everyone was very friendly and out to help everyone else. I felt like I was part of a community with the same goal in mind; to reach the finish. And to enjoy nature of course.

Fish

What I Would Do Differently

There are few things that I would do differently on my thru hike. This trip was everything and more.

1. Wear non-gore-tex boots. My boots were so breathable, that water would seep right through my boots and once inside, would hold water until dried. It would take days to dry my boots. I’m definitely going to buy better waterproof boots next time.

2. Carry a smaller pack. I felt that I had a lot of extra space in my pack. Also, my pack weighed close to three pounds empty. I currently have a 65 liter pack. If I had to do my thru hike over again, I would go with the 46 liter pack.

3. Take less zero days, and plug in more Nero days. Zero days slow down your pace and can make your muscles stiff. At least a Nero day gets your legs moving.

That’s pretty much it folks.

Fish

What I learned on the Trail

Here’s what I learned on the trail:

1. Hike your own hike. Don’t worry about where all of the other hikers are. In time, you will cross paths agin. Also, there is no such thing as first place on the trail. It is not a race.

2. Learn to appreciate the small things in life. In the real world, modern convinces such as a car, a hot shower, and the radio can be taken for granted. On the trail, there are no such things. When they come around once in a while when off the trail, you’ll feel blessed that you share these convinces with people in the civilized world.

3. There are few things that are of most importance. Relationships with family, friends, and God will keep you on track and help to keep priorities straight. Also, education is a monumental tool that can benefit you and others in everyday life and save lives when sudden emergencies strike.

4. It is important to think positive thoughts. Negativity will destroy you and force you to quit a thru hike in the end. To be honest, there were a couple of times where I wanted to quit, but then I remembered how great it would feel to finish the trail and be reunited with family. Positive thinking makes all of the distance!

5. Keep yourself heathy! Being healthy allows you to hike many miles a day for day on end. Getting sick will make the chances of completing a thru hike in a timely manner more slim.

Fish

Day 139-142: Franklin, NC to Woody Gap, GA 60

Howdy folks!

As my hike draws to a close, I can’t help but smile at the thought of what I’ve accomplished and the experience that I’ve had these past four and a half months. More specifically, the views that I’ve seen, the people that I’ve met, and the variety of wildlife spotted have made this trip one of the best of my life. I think I’ve matured more as a man, learned the true meaning of hard work and perseverance, and had the strength to overcome adversity, especially when hiking through eight straight days of rain! I have constantly thanked God for this opportunity and the fact that I have stayed healthy every day. I did not get sick once!!

Anyway, the trail in Southern Appalachia is beautiful, however the trail does not have many switchbacks so the trail is usually very steep when going up a mountain. It’s not like the gradual ascents in the Smokies or Virginia. Also, the elevation goes up and down repeatedly for miles on end!! The one thing that makes it worth the hike is the abundance of oak trees! Despite being more difficult than I thought, Georgia is one of my favorite states on the trail. I can picture myself hiking this section again sometime. It’s hard to believe I’m only 21 miles away from the finish! My parents will hike the last mile with me. I couldn’t have pictured a better ending.

Fish

My diet-What I Eat on a Daily Basis

Calories are important, so I eat a lot of processed food. Here is my overall diet for the trail

Breakfast:
-Two cherry pop tarts (sometimes I spread peanut butter, Nutella, honey, or a combination of all three onto the pop tarts)
-Nature valley breakfast biscuits (1 package)

I ate instant oatmeal from Maine to Southern Vermont

Lunch:
-1 packet of tuna salad or tuna albacore (I usually mix in honey with the latter)
-1 builders protein bar (vanilla almond or chocolate mint)

I ate spam in a burrito and a snickers bar from Maine to Southern Vermont

Dinner:
-Knorr pasta sides, rice sides, or Asian sides (Asian noodles and butter flavored pasta were my favorites)

I ate ramen noodles mixed in with instant mashed potatoes from Maine to Southern Vermont

Snacks (I would eat these while hiking on the trail
-Anything under the Little Debbie label
-Snickers bars
-Mr Goodbars
-Hershey bars
-Pay days
-Trail mix
-Processed meat (slim Jim’s, pepperoni, pickled sausage)
-Crackers

I would use peanut butter, Nutella, and honey as a spread for the Little Debbie snacks to add extra calories

There was a time when I ate an entire container of Nutella and a one pound jar of peanut butter!

This is what fueled me on my hike. I can’t wait to eat real food when I get home!

Fish

Trail Names

Here are some of the trail names that I’ve come across during my journey:

Pan
Sky Chicken
Cannonball
Boulder dash
Sandals
Deadhead
Many Homes
Blue Velvet
The Gardner
Toey
Spoons
Gilligan
The Hungarian Revolution
Fiver
Padre
Lone star
Rare breed
Sassafras
Lemongrass
Calamity Jane

Fish

Trail Terms

NOBO-this stands for northbound. This is someone who hikes from south to north.

SOBO-this stands for southbound. This is someone who hikes from north to south

GAME-a hiker who goes from Georgia to Maine. Same as NOBO.

MEGA-a hiker who goes from Maine to Georgia. Same as SOBO.

Thru hiker-someone who completes a long distance trail in one uninterrupted trip.

Section hiker-someone who hikes parts of the trail at different times.

Flip flopper-someone who starts in the middle and hikes to one end, and then hikes to the other end from the original starting point. The most popular place to start a flip flop hike is Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

LASHER-this stands for long ass section hiker. This is someone who does the trail in large sections, usually totaling anywhere from 500-1000 miles.

Blue blazer-someone who takes side trails to skip hard sections of trail or to take a shortcut into town.

White blazer-also known as a purist. This is someone who keeps strictly to the trail and does not take shortcuts or skip sections of trail.

Yellow blazer-someone who skips sections of trail via car.

Pink blazer-someone who meets a woman along the trail and joins itineraries shortly after. Some pink blazers get engaged at the end of their trip, usually on Mt. Katahdin.

Slack packer-someone who does not carry a full sized pack with them, usually a day pack. You can cover a lot of miles this way. In my opinion, I think this is cheating. No pain, no gain!

Yo-yo-someone who thru hikes the trail in one direction and then turns around and thru hikes the trail back towards the original starting point. This is for people who are insane and are ambitious enough to do a total of 4,400 miles in one trip. This undertaking would take about six months to over a year, not to mention having to deal with snow and ice at higher elevations.

Fish

Day 135-138: Cable Gap Shelter to Franklin, NC

Hey guys!

Well what can I say? I’ve been hiking in rain for 8 straight days. This is a true test of perseverance. Anyway, made it to Franklin, NC where I’m taking a much needed rest day. Haven’t had one since Daleville, VA. I pushed hard but I’ve enjoyed every minute of the trail. I’ve seen some amazing views. I can’t believe I have just 110 miles left. 5 days should do it. I plan to be finished on the 22nd of October!! Very excited about reaching he finish. Sends chills down my spine just thinking about the end.

Fish

Day 128-134: Smokey Mountains National Park

Howdy folks!

As the highest peaks of the AT loomed closer, I couldn’t help but smile as my journey was almost complete. There was just one challenge that stood between me and the finish. I was confident in my ability to to take on the mountains strong. After all, I had over 4000 feet of climbing to get up on the high ridges.

I met my dad in newfound gap which was 31 miles into the park. We hiked from there to Fontana Dam which is the southern boundary of the park. It rained every day we hiked plus it was foggy and windy so we didn’t have many views. However, this was quickly remedied because my dad was with me at the highest point on the entire trail (Clingman’s Dome), when I hit the 200 miles left to go marker at thunderhead mountain, and when I got inducted into the 2000 miler club!!!

He motivated me to push strong to the finish. When he got in the car to leave, I knew it would only be a short 9 days until I saw my family again. 165 miles to go!!! I will finish on the 22nd of October. Let me just say that this adventure has been quite a ride. I appreciate all of he support!

Fish

Day 123-127: roan high knob shelter to hot springs, nc

Howdy folks!

These past couple of days have been sketchy with weather. There was a cold snap where it got down to freezing at night and it was windy. I seriously considered buying gloves. Anyway, looking forward to the Smokey Mountains! I will be hiking with my dad for a few days and he will be with me when I hit 2000 miles. All I can say is, where has the time gone?

Fish

P.s. I’m 274 miles out and 1912 miles in!

Day 118-122: Damascus VA to Roan High Knob Shelter

Howdy folks!,

The past couple of days have been quite pleasant and full of adventure. The feeling of finally reaching Damascus was a major turning point. I was only 4 miles from the border. However, before I left the hostel, a huge wave of home sickness hit me. I missed my family and friends and it was still another twenty something days before I would see them again. I did feel better when I finally left town and I camped right at the border. I was so happy to be in Tennessee!!! Virginia is the longest state on the trail with roughly 540 miles and it can be mental. It was one of the biggest mental challenges I had to overcome but I did not get the infamous “Virginia blues.”

The trail in Tennessee is nothing short of beautiful. There were hardly any rocks and there were lots of stepping stones. I also got to see a waterfall and some trail maintenance people installing a bridge. They sure make my life easier! Anyway, there was a lot of ridge walking for most of the state. At the very end, the mountains started again and I had my toughest climb in months. In the middle of the climb, I crossed the border into North Carolina!! I caught a glimpse of Roan Mountain which is above 6000 feet and would be near my camping area for the night. The shelter that I’m staying at on October 1st is the highest shelter on the AT at around 6100 feet! It sure will get chilly up here! Anyway, the leaves are amazing and I can only imagine how they will look when I get into the Smokeys.

I have 375 miles left and feeling great! Hope you guys are too.

Fish

Gear Review #4: cookwear

imageThe stove i use to boil water is the snow peak stove. I like the fact that is is compact, lightweight, and easy to use. For fuel i use canister fuel distributed by brands like mountain safety research and jetboil. My cup that holds my water and meals is a titanium cup that holds about 2 and a half cups of water. Its very lightweight and it came with a lid. Overall, this setup is easy to use and inexpensive.

Gear Review #3: hiking boots

The boots Ive been wearing on the trail are the Vasque breeze gtx 2.0. I like these boots because they are comfortable, breathable, and have plenty of cushion to lessen the impact on your feet while going downhill. Also, the tread is a plus. I dont like the fact that the boots are goretex. They take forever to dry and they seem to keep water in rather than out. I would not recommend these boots for winter hiking. More of a three season boot. image

Gear Review #2: tent

The tent Im using on the trail is a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1. All of the parts which include the tent, footprint, rain fly, stakes, and the one pole system weighs in at around two pounds. I like this tent because it is lightweight, keeps me dry, and has a bug net to keep mosquitos and black flies at bay. Even though its a little pricy (350.00), Ive had no problems with the tent and i can get replacement parts no problem. The only thing i worry about is the durability. The fabric is very thin, so you have to be careful not to tear it. There are a couple of small holes in the side. I would recommend this product to a friend.

Day 114-117: Chestnut Knob to Damascus, VA

Howdy!!

Fall has finally arrived! This is my favorite time of year and it has finally started to cool off. The hot and humid weather is pretty much gone. I’m getting my cold weather gear shipped back to me.

These past few days have been some of my favorite days on the trail. Let’s start with the pastures. The majority of walking has been though farmland. I saw many cows chomping on grass. They just looked at me as I ambled past. Also, I passed I-81 which goes not far from my home in York. For the most part, this part of the trail was really well maintained and it was easy walking.

The generosity of people has blown me away. Two days in a row, I got a meal payed for. I ate a one pound burger with fries in Atkins and burritos in Marion. Each meal was covered by a former through hiker which really impressed me. I will now be paying it forward sometime in the future. Trail magic was plenty in his area too. Things like soda, cookies, and little Debbie cakes were a treat!

One of my favorite parts of the trail was Grayson Highlands. Not only was I exposed on high ground, but the colors of the leaves were magnificent, I got to see wild ponies, and I saw the most beautiful sunset. It was blood red. I ended up hiking in the dark for a while and set up camp under a lone tree by a road.

Then next day I reached Damascus. This is a turning point. I am 3 miles from Tennessee! So far I’ve hiked 1,719 miles. I have roughly 466 miles left! The final phase is about to begin!!! I’m so thankful for this opportunity! Hoping the rest of the trip is a memorable one. God bless you all.

Fish

Day 107-113: Daleville, VA to Chestnut Knob Shelter

Howdy folks,

Now that I’m halfway through Virginia, I finally feel that I’m closer to the end than I’ve ever felt before! This week was filled with many highlights and great scenery. I got a panoramic view of the mountains and Roanoke on top of McAfees Knob which is the top five most photographed places on the entire trail. What I sight to behold!

The shelters that I stayed at the next few nights had people in them so I was grateful for the company. I’ve been isolated from other SOBOs for many weeks now. However, I know that they are getting along just fine.

When I stayed in Pearisburg, I stayed in this motel with very clean beds and my room even had a 50 inch flat screen tv! I’ll be honest…I watched the Parent Trap on ABC family. It felt good to get a shower before I carried on the trail. It was quite climb out of Pearisburg.

One of the things that I admired about the trail this week was the rhododendron tunnels I walked through and the many brooks I crossed. Nothing satiates the soul more than watching a frothy brook tumbling over rocks through dense groves of rhododendron.

Another thing I liked was walking through pastures. The scenery reminded me of home. Fall was quickly approaching and the leaves were changing fast! The shelter I stayed in on the eve of the first day of fall was an enclosed shelter on top of a grassy bald. I’ve never seen so many stars!!!

This week has been adventurous and I now have only 565 miles left!!!

Fish

Gear Review #1: backpack

The backpack Im carrying with me on this trek is the Osprey Atomos 65. This is a great pack because its very durable, comfortable, and has lots of space to store things. Durability in a backpack is important and this backpack is made with an abrasion resistant material to keep it from ripping wise open. Comfort is also important and this backpack has lots of padding in the shoulder pads and hip belt. The last thing is space. This pack has many compartments. There is the main body, an upper compartment, water bottle holders on the sides, hip pockets, and two decent sized compartments on the backside. Overall, Im very impressed with this backpack. The only thing i dislike about the pack are the straps. They always fray and I’m constantly having to adjust them. I would recommend this pack to a friend!image