Index and other PCT Hikes

Dan's June 2003 Pacific Crest Trail Journal

From Cottonwood Creek (PCT Mile 539)
to Vermillion Valley Resort at Lake Edison (PCT Mile 871.3)

Sunday, June 1, 2003
Joshua Trees and Windmills dominated the view near Mojave. I met Justin at Tylerhorse Creek, and soon after saw a baby horned lizard, less than 2 inches long. Much of the day, the trail was trashed by motorcycles, with peaks and dips every 10-12 feet, 18 inches top to bottom. It really beat up my feet, constantly climbing up and pounding down. (Warning - engineer talk - other people may skip - At times, the trail I was walking was lined in the geometric plane that the blades of the propellers of the windmills were in. To me, a guy who has worked on many machines similar to the windmills, this was scary. You see, if the blades were to break off, they would fly out in that plane, and smash whatever got in their way - including, I feared, me!) (Wind Energy) After walking 24 miles to Oak Creek, I tried hitching into Mojave, but was unsuccessful in getting a ride. In the several hours I walked on Oak Creek Road, only a half dozen cars came by. The water in Oak Creek was not very attractive; it had lots of algae in it. I had thought that I'd be in town with access to something more palatable pretty quickly. So I didn't drink any and I ended up getting pretty dehydrated. It was pitch dark on Oak Creek Road; I couldn't even see the reflective white stripes against the black asphalt. But I could feel the thick smooth paint stripe against the rough asphalt through my shoes, and felt my way along. At 11:30pm, I finished my 34 mile day's walk at the Mojave AM PM Minimart, and bought myself a birthday dinner of a hotdog, ice cream bar, and a 64 ounce mix of Gatorade and Sprite. By midnight, I was in a room at the Best Western Desert Winds. The first thing I did was to throw away the Doritos. After eating them as a staple food for two days, I couldn't stand them any more. (Dan)
Hotel: Mojave Best Western Desert Winds
Miles Walked: 34

Monday, June 2, 2003
Even though I'd drunk 64 ounces before going to bed, I was still so dehydrated I didn't have to pee when I got up in the morning. So at the crack of dawn, I headed back to the the AM PM for another 64 ounce drink, then later to Denny's for a big breakfast. It was a hot, clear, dry day. I resupplied, and stripped my pack of anything I wouldn't need to get to Kennedy Meadows. I looked at the hundreds of airliners parked in storage at the Mojave airport, and realized that I wasn't missing much in the aerospace industry while out on this hike. I heard later that another hiker committed suicide a few hotels down the Mojave strip. (Dan)
Hotel: Mojave Best Western Desert Winds
Miles Walked: 4

California Section F

Tuesday, June 3, 2003
I met my sister Julie and her two kids, Jenny and Vanya, at the McDonalds in Mojave for lunch. As I tanked up on soda, and the kids got their ice cream, we talked a while. Then we headed back to the trail at Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road. There we found F Troop waiting for a ride to Mojave. My sister stuffed a bunch of them into her car like clowns, and drove them down. As I hiked the windmill covered ridge to Highway 58, a couple of C-130s buzzed me. Later, the winds really picked up, and at camp, my sleeping bag flapped in the wind, and occasionally inflated like a windsock. I didn't get very much sleep. (Dan)
Camp: A few miles north of Highway 58
Miles Walked: 12

Wednesday, June 4, 2003
Early in the morning, I fought the high winds and the slope to get up the trail, sometimes leaning far into the wind. I was buzzed by a Vari-Eze. When I was resting past Golden Oak Spring, I heard that Snowman was back on the trail and just behind me. (Dan)
Camp: 8 miles past Golden Oak Spring
Miles Walked: 20

Thursday, June 5, 2003
From today through Kennedy Meadows, I hiked neck and neck with Yogi, Yucca, and Kimber, who were hiking as a group. I saw a Striped Racer Snake. Cumulus clouds formed and disappeared in the afternoon. (Dan)
Camp: 4 miles shy of Kelso Valley Road
Miles Walked: 20

Friday, June 6, 2003
I met Glory from Tennessee, and Sharon, a baby nurse. I saw a snake 1 mile north of Kelso Valley Road, and later my first deer of the trip. At the first road past Kelso Valley Road, I met Steve, husband and car support to Steady. I really appreciated the ice cold drinks he gave me. In the afternoon, I saw lots of mining ruins and tailings. Around 11 am, cumulus clouds started to develop, some dark. Later, above and downwind of Wyley's Knob and Skinner Peak, virga and virtually continuous thunder developed. It rained for about 10 minutes when I was at Bird Spring Pass. When the thunder stopped, I climbed over Skinner Ridge, and camped in the saddle between there and peak 6455. The late afternoon 50% overcast cleared completely early in the night. (Dan)
Camp: Saddle between Skinner Ridge and Peak 6455
Miles Walked: 22

California Section G

Saturday, June 7, 2003
2-3 miles to either side of McIver's spring was a 1997 lightning burn. As I descended to Highway 178 and Walker Pass, I could see the snow covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada Range. Yippee! Cumulus Clouds started forming around 11, covered 50% of the sky at 5:20, and 80% at 7 pm with the occasional rain drop hitting me. The sky cleared early in the evening. I saw one snake on the ascent from Walker Pass, then as I was traversing around Mount Morris, a striped racer snake came ripping down the hill across the path. I was focused on the loose rock covering the trail and just saw him flash through my vision. I nearly jumped out of my boots. (Dan)
Camp: Morris - Jenkins saddle
Miles Walked: 22

Sunday, June 8, 2003
In celebration of my arrival in the Sierras, I summited Mount Jenkins. There was a great 360 degree view. I saw a striped racer and 2 other snakes. At Spanish Needle Creek, there were pretty lavender wild roses, with an awesome fragrance. (Dan)
Camp: Less than a mile south of Canebrake Road
Miles Walked: 24

Butterfly Monday, June 9, 2003
I explored the barite mine and mill ruins at Fox Mill Spring. In the burn area of the 2000 Manter Fire, the wildflowers were particularly vibrant. During the morning 2500 foot ascent, their scent hung in the air, and with a lot of birds chirping I enjoyed the uphill grind. I was rationing food, and really appreciated it when Kimber and Yucca gave me a jar of Skippy they'd been trying to give away for days. I grabbed my spoon and gobbled it right down. They had problems with their Aqua-Mira and were happy to take a few quarts of pumped water in exchange. I had a great tamale pie dinner at Grumpies in Kennedy Meadows. (Dan)
Camp: Bridge over the Kern River
Miles Walked: 22

Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Meadow Mary gave me a ride to Bishop, where I took a bus to Mammoth Lakes, and stayed with my brother Bob, his wife Chette, baby Bodie, dog Shadow, and cats Hannibal and Lecter. (Dan)
Camp: My brother's couch in Mammoth Lakes
Miles Walked: 0

Tuesday, June 10, 2003 - 4 PM.
Dan called from Bishop. He hiked to Kennedy Meadows and took a few days off to visit his family in Mammoth Lakes. Sunday he planned to return to Kennedy Meadows and continue North. Kennedy Meadows is at PCT mile 697. Dan had hiked more than 25% of the Pacific Crest Trail, and his feet were letting him know it. He planned to update the Trip Log and add some stories while he was in Mammoth. And, if he got a chance, he planned to scan and add some of his latest pictures.
Here is Meadow Mary's story about Dan (June 10, 2003)
If you are wondering about Lynn, here is Meadow Mary's story about her (June 9, 2003) (Gene)

Wednesday, June 11, 2003
My brother and I tubed the Owens River. The weather was still clear with afternoon clouds over the Sierra and White ranges. (Dan)
Camp: My brother's couch in Mammoth Lakes
Miles Walked: 0

Thursday - Saturday, June 12-14, 2003
I edited this journal at my brothers place, and kicked around Mammoth Lakes. (Dan)
Camp: My brother's couch in Mammoth Lakes
Miles Walked: 0

Sunday, June 15, 2003
I hiked to Emerald Lake, and later swam in Hot Creek with my dad, brother, and Shadow, my brother's dog. (Dan)
Camp: My brother's couch in Mammoth Lakes
Miles Walked: 5

Monday, June 16, 2003
My dad and I took a trip up to Toulumne Meadows. While he fished, I hiked to Pothole Dome, the ridge east of Fairview Dome (the summit itself was too scary to do alone), and Soda Springs. (Dan)
Camp: My brother's couch in Mammoth Lakes
Miles Walked: 8

Tuesday, June 17, 2003
I hiked to Barrett and TJ lakes with my brother and Shadow. Later I bought new shoes in Bishop, and a new digital camera at Kmart. (Dan)
Camp: My brother's couch in Mammoth Lakes
Miles Walked: 5

Wednesday, June 18, 2003
My dad and and mom dropped me off at Kennedy Meadows at noon. We picked up Lugnut where the road to Kennedy Meadows leaves US 395. I took lots of flower pictures using the new digital camera. (Dan)
Camp: 1/4 mile past the Hiawee Trail junction
Miles Walked: 10

Golden Staircase

Thursday, June 19, 2003
I saw a big jackrabbit before leaving camp, and then many snow plants all day. There were mountain lion and fox tracks on the trail. I finished reading a book with testimony and conclusions from the US Senate investigation of the sinking of the Titanic. I saw 3 marmots. Altitude sickness began to weigh in with a headache all afternoon and heavy breathing. The headache cleared overnight. (Dan)
Camp: 2.4 miles south of Death Canyon Creek
Miles Walked: 16

Steer Skull

Friday, June 20, 2003
I came across my first patches of Sierra snow; it was great to scrub up with the snow and feel a little cleaner. There were lots of twisted, knarled , burned, and broken trees that evoked images of various animals to entertain me all day. My camp was at Dutch Meadow, with Morris. I had a very slight afternoon headache, plus shortness of breath, from altitude acclimatization. (Dan)
Camp: Dutch Meadow
Miles Walked: 14

Twisted Tree

Saturday, June 21, 2003
I spent a while talking with Jill, Burt, and their dog Patch just south of Cottonwood Pass. I had no altitude headache, and the weather was clear and sunny. (Dan)
Camp: Rock Creek
Miles Walked: 16

Trail Through Rock Field

Sunday, June 22, 2003
The weather was clear and beautiful. I had a slight altitude headache, in spite of taking some aspirin. I finished reading Thomas Wolfe's "The Hills Beyond", and more of his writing. I camped with Jon at the second tarn (a small mountain lake) past Guitar Lake (Off the PCT, on route to Mount Whitney). There were scattered afternoon clouds which cleared by 7 pm. I had a slight altitude headache and nausea when I arrived at camp at 3:30 pm, but they were gone by 7 pm. There were lots of marmots, but they were smaller in size than those I had seen a few days earlier. There were many big trout swimming in the inlets to Guitar Lake. My water froze inside my pack overnight. (Dan)
Camp: Second tarn past Guitar Lake
Miles Walked: 12


California Section H

Sandy Plateau

Monday, June 23, 2003
I huffed and puffed up Mount Whitney starting at first light. It was slow but steady going, with breathing breaks at every switchback. I could see that I was pulling ahead of other hikers down the slope. The water in my bottles froze during the hike. Given my propensity to altitude sickness, I was happy to be the first person to summit that day, and to have the top to myself for 10 minutes. After that, dozens of hikers summited one after another and the air of solitude changed to one of celebration. I had a slight headache and very slight nausea. While packing up my Mount Whitney base camp that afternoon, I think I lost my pen. (Dan)
Gene: The summit of Mount Whitney is 14,491 feet. Here is Molasses' account of being on the summit.
Camp: Wallace Creek
Miles Walked: 16

Molasses (yellow jacket)and Fashionplate Dan (blue jacket) by Smithsonian Cabin atop Mount Whitney.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003
I camped at Upper Vidette Meadows. There were horse bones in the camp and by the stream. (Dan)
Camp: Upper Vidette Meadows
Miles Walked: 13

Atop Glen Pass, Boy Scout Troop 78 out of 29 Palms

Woods Creek Bridge Just south of Glen Pass Wednesday, June 25, 2003
In addition to the normal variety of fighters I'd seen flying around the previous few days, I saw an F117 Stealth Fighter. Atop Glen Pass, I met Boy Scout Troop 78 out of 29 Palms. I had a slight headache at 1 PM at Rae Lakes (altitude). The weather was clear, and in the afternoon, hot. (Dan)
Camp: Wood's Creek
Miles Walked: 14

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Over the last couple of days, I've been swapping e-mails with Nathaniel. He's the boy scout all the way on the left with the hat and glasses. He remembered giving me a pencil to replace the one I'd lost packing up my Mount Whitney base camp. We can all thank him. Without that pencil, I would not have remembered much of what's now in this journal. He had been searching the web for his old troop and came across this photo. I sent him a higher resolution image. Thanks to former webmaster Gene, who still had archives of the old photos. It's cool that I still occasionally hear from people I met on the trail 6 years later. (Dan)

Thursday, June 26, 2003
The weather was clear and warm. I had no altitude headache all day. I camped at the lake just south of Mather Pass. There were frog and marmots at the lake, as well as some scattered marmot bones. (Dan)
Camp: Lake just south of Mather Pass
Miles Walked: 16

Spreading Phlox

Friday, June 27, 2003
I saw three marmots raiding another hiker's pack at Lower Palisade Lake, and watched him chase them away. I learned later the marmots continued harassing these hikers for their entire stay, and eventually got a whole loaf of bread. I saw a newborn fawn struggling to it's feet for the first time at the confluence of Palisade Creek and the Middle Fork Kings River. (Dan)
Camp: Big Pete Meadow
Miles Walked: 18

The Doe and her Fawn, at the bottom of the picture, to the right.

Saturday, June 28, 2003
The weather was hot, with scattered afternoon cumulus clouds. There were lots of polliwogs at Wanda Lake. (Dan)
Camp: McClure Meadow
Miles Walked: 15

Marie Lake

Sunday, June 29, 2003
I walked through a huge swarm of dragonflies. Later, in mosquito ridden Bear Valley, I had to ford Bear Creek. The water was above the knees, and as I stopped to remove my shoes and pants, the mosquitoes attacked. My legs were as black with mosquitoes as if I were wearing pants. Though mosquito bites are normally no more than annoying to me, with so many thousands biting at the same time, the entire skin of my legs was screaming in pain. Though it took only seconds to lash my shoes and pants to my pack, several times I paused to wipe my hand up my legs, each time smearing a thick mosquito gut goo on my skin. I was quite relieved to jump into the freezing water, but as I tried to concentrate on crossing, they were biting all over my face and neck. Finally, I ran down the trail barefoot to a windy spot and quickly dressed again. The mosquitoes kept me hiking full speed all the way down Bear Valley. On ascent to Bear Ridge, a little after 8 pm, I saw a nine inch red snake, probably a rubber boa. This was one of the few days on the trail that I continued hiking after dark. I did it because Lugnut and I had agreed to camp close enough to Vermillion Valley Resort to go in for a big breakfast in the morning. I found I had become so adept at hiking that I managed to cross a stream in the dark without getting my feet wet. I camped near the junction with the trail down Bear Ridge to the west end of Edison Lake. (Dan)
Camp: Bear Ridge Trail Junction with Lugnut
Miles Walked: 24

Rubber Boa Constrictor Snake

Monday, June 30, 2003
After hearing from southbound John Muir Trail hikers for days how wonderful Vermillion Valley Resort was, I decided to stop in for a day of sloth and gluttony. There were big meals and big pie slices. I tried to buy a trout shaped ball point pen there, but it would not write on the waterproof paper in my notebook. From the hiker box, I picked up some deserts from British MREs that had rock hard dried fruit in them (Dan)
Camp: Vermillion Valley Resort
Miles Walked: 5

After all the postholing and kickstepping in the snow in this section, my shoes were falling apart.

Next: July 2003

Index and other PCT Hikes

Fawn Seiad Valley Etna Castella Burney Falls State Park Old Station Belden Sierra City Truckee Reno Elko South Lake Tahoe Echo Lake Tuolumne Meadows Reds Meadow Devils Postpile Mammoth Lakes Bishop Independence Lone Pine Fresno Kennedy Meadows Inyokern Ridgecrest Las Vegas Bakersfield Tehachapi Mojave Agua Dulce Wrightwood Cajon Junction, Interstate 15 Big Bear Palm Springs Idylwild Anza Warner Springs Julian Mount Laguna Lake Morena Campo San Diego Los  Angeles San Jose San Francisco Stockton Sacramento Redding Escondido Salton Sea Mono Lake Lake Tahoe Pacific Crest Trail Tahoe Rim Trail, 2012 John Muir Trail Sierra High Route and Kern River, 2012 Sierra High Route and Kern River, 2012 Sierra High Route and Kern River, 2012 Eureka Interstate 5 Interstate 15 Interstate 40 Interstate 80 Interstate 10 Interstate 8 Colorado River Mexico Arizona Channel Islands California Nevada Pacific Ocean