Just a Small Part

Since my first visit when I was 10 or so, this valley has always been my ultimate cathedral.

By late June of this year, it will be just a small part of an amazing experience.

But don’t ever think that it lessens the majesty of this valley.

Video courtesy of Colin Delehanty and Sheldon Neill.

Whale Shark

Our home for the summer received a quality control shakedown after being created this week.

Gen Shimizu, the genius behind Yama Mountain Gear, posted a pic and asked if it looked like a shark.

It does.  A Whale Shark.

Does anyone else see a shark? #yamamountaingear #swiftlinetent

A photo posted by YAMA Mountain Gear (@yamamountaingear) on

At 36.5oz actual weight, I’ll barely notice it in my pack.  But we will both enjoy this Yama Mountain Gear Swiftline 2-person tent on those wet and windy nights.

 

Holding

It has been a while since I’ve put up a photo post that wasn’t related to our prep for our upcoming hike.

Here’s a fun one from our visit with friends the week before last.  While we spent quite a while doing more formal portrait and pregnancy bump shots, a lot of the fun was when everyone was hanging out and the pictures just happened.

Like when Dad had to feel the kicks of their first child.

Holding

Jammin’

Wow, has it really been two weeks since the last post?

In the immortal words of Bob Marley, we’re jammin’.

We spent a week in Kansas experiencing what we’ve been missing here – winter.  A nice bout of snowfall and single-digit temperatures, made all the more enjoyable by spending the time with very dear friends.

Plus, they gave me the opportunity to shoot “baby bump” pictures for them as they’re just a couple of weeks from having their first child.  I’ve never had experience and it was nothing short of amazing.

Once we got back, we had to hit the slopes.  It’s late-spring conditions here, with the nights on the mountain not getting below freezing.  So we had a day of pushing slush and skipping rocks, but it was a great time.

Then a full weekend of trail-related activities.

Friday night had us at a local screening of a movie called “Only the Essential“, a documentary of a couple of hikers on their thru-hike of the PCT back in 2013.  It was a heck of a lot of fun to see the spots through someone else’s vision.

The best part was the Q&A session afterwards, when an audience member asked the producers what the most eye-opening moment was for them during the hike.  Colin Arisman responded, relaying the moment when he realized that he truly was house-less.   The look on Goddess’ face was priceless.

That part is really sinking in.

The rest of the weekend was trail work with the Siskiyou Mountain Club, building rock steps, build drains, clearing brush, clearing fallen trees and rehabilitating old, faded trail tread.

Misery WhipTaking a break.

Bean Meadow SunriseWatching sunrise on a morning when people were fretting over whether their clock was telling them the right time or not.  Sunrise is sunrise.

Boccard Point ViewView from Boccard Point in the Soda Mountain Wilderness.  That’s Pilot Rock to the left, Mount Ashland in the distance, just right of frame center.

We worked the majority of the trail from Pilot Rock to this viewpoint, skipping just a couple of miles of deadfall trees because it was late Saturday afternoon and we needed to set up camp before sunset.

Those will be taken care of next weekend.

 

PCT – Trail Maintenance

In case you weren’t out traveling earlier this month and missed getting a copy of USA Today slid under your room door, there was an interesting article on the state of the National Forest Trail system, which is pretty dismal.

Here’s the article.

One thing you’ll notice in the article is the increasing reliance on volunteers to maintain the trails.

We’re eager volunteers.  Personally, I enjoy the excuse to get out into the wilderness and do some work.  The crew members are great and everyone’s excited to be there to work.

Plus, for me it’s a chance to see new areas and scout out where I’d like to return to shoot photos.  Like this one.

For me, it’s a win-win.

As much as we’d like for the work to get done on its own, just through the love and dedication of the volunteers, it can’t.  For many of the volunteers, they sure wish it could, but it can’t.

So please consider donating to the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), the non-profit organization responsible for the trail-work coordination and execution, as well as the protection of the trail corridor.

The PCTA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, meaning that your donation may be tax deductible on your taxes next year (sorry, if you were looking for an angle on the forms you’re doing now, that ship sailed two months ago).

We are 1/4th of the way to our goal!  Would you please help maintain the trail that Jennifer and I will be walking this year?  Your help will ensure that the trail is available for hikers in the future too.

Please click on the picture of Jennifer and Skinny on the PCT below to lend a hand.

Thank you,

Bill & Jennifer Anders

Jen n Skinny Deadfall

 

 

 

PCT – Permits

Hello everyone.  It has been a while.  My semi-regular posting schedule has been much more semi than regular lately.

Things are rolling quickly.  In just over a month we hand the keys to the house back and we’re effectively homeless.

Not long after that, we’re walking.

Did you catch that? In just over a month…

I’ll let that sink in.

Mostly for us.


Permits

A trek like this isn’t possible without permits.  We cross a lot of public land that is protected for one reason or another, not to mention several National Forests and National Parks.  Each requires a permit.

PCT:  For the purposes of a long-distance hike on the PCT that is longer than 500 miles, the PCTA manages an interagency permit system that covers the myriad permits along the way.  That’s much easier and more efficient than  trying to coordinate with all of the different agencies.

Especially to summit Mount Whitney.

Due to the increasing popularity of the trail, they’ve had to institute a 50-hiker/day start schedule.  That move caused a lot of consternation amongst many hikers, folks who by their very nature are easy-going and just go with the flow.  The new quota meant that we hikers had to pick a date and stick to it.  For those that didn’t jump on the registration site right after it opened, their preferred date might not have been available.

That’s a bit problematic for folks that had already bought airline tickets.  The system is even getting press in The Smithsonian.

But it’s working out.  After the initial consternation, most folks are realizing that the system is the only way to minimize impact on the trail.  Our start date is already full, at the beginning of a stretch of two weeks where every day is fully permitted.  So we’ll see a lot of folks on the trail in those first few weeks.

Campfire: Since we’ll be camping mostly outside of established campgrounds in California, we are required to obtain a campfire permit.  It’s a simple system consisting of watching/reading a short fire prevention presentation, then taking a test.  A successful test completion means a permit.  Done.

Canada: Yep, we need a permit for Canada.  Why?  The final 9-mile stretch of the trail is in British Columbia, finishing in Manning Park.  But there isn’t an official border crossing there, so they need to know we are coming.  Plus, we need the official stamps to show that we aren’t in Canada illegally.

That makes sense.  Otherwise, I might take away someone else’s job at a Tim Hortons.*

Mind you, we don’t have to go into Canada to complete the PCT.  We could stop at the monument right at the US/Canadian border, take our pics and not enter Canada.  But that means a 30-mile hike back to the first US town south.

Since we don’t have anything keeping us from entering Canada (e.g., criminal record), we’re going to keep walking.

The added advantage of going into Canada is that a very good friend lives nearby.  It will be good to finally meet him on his home turf, as we’ve only been able to get together in Germany and here in the US.


That’s it for permits.  It doesn’t seem like much, but the PCT and Canada permits add a bit of stress to the process, as they don’t open for application until so late in the planning.  But it has worked out.  We’re fully permitted.


*Tim Hortons – my only experience with a Tim Hortons has been their furthest east franchise, a lovely garden spot known as Kandahar, Afghanistan.  I must say that they make a fine doughnut.  Hopefully I can get another one at the end of the hike and see if it tastes just as good.

Remembrance Day

Day of Remembrance


The following was originally posted 6/21/2013:

Manzanar National Historic Site, one of ten camps where American citizens of Japanese descent were incarcerated during World War II.

Just because of their heritage.

They were Americans, held prisoner, without due process, without a trial, by their own government.  A government that they trusted.

A government that held them prisoner.

Just because of their heritage.

Manzanar War Relocation Center, Independence, California

—————————–

After Goddess and I drove through Death Valley, Manzanar was an absolute must-stop.  I was aware of the history, Goddess was not.  I also needed to see how they had improved the site, since the National Historic Site complex was not opened until 2004.  Prior to that, there was nothing to mark the location other than a single stone obelisk that was the edge of the cemetery for those that died here.

Some 30+ years ago, I lived just 90 minutes south of here and on our many trips on US 395, I’d see the sign marking the dirt road to the obelisk.  Just the simple act of reading it as we passed by a few times a year was enough to cement the name in my mind.  Later on I became familiar with Ansel Adam’s landscape and documentary images of the camp, which led to research and learning.

It was a place that came to mind often while we lived in Europe, touring places like Dachau.  Although I could never equate Manzanar to Dachau since there was no plan or action to eliminate the prisoners in Manzanar.  Some studies of the mortality rates of Manzanar show it to be statistically similar to free cities with the same population.

With heavy hearts we drove onto the grounds, just thinking about American citizens who were imprisoned just because of their heritage.  The point was driven home as we walked into the visitor’s center.  Seated on a bench was a park ranger with two kids of Japanese descent.  Mother stood nearby as the ranger explained to the kids, the oldest about eight years old, that had they lived in the United States during that time, they would have been rounded up and held prisoner in this camp.  Just because of their heritage.

That was tough to hear and see.

If you are ever driving along US 395 along the Eastern Sierras, take an hour or two and stop in.  The site is large and there are several displays scattered about several miles where they were able to restore artifacts that made life more bearable for the prisoners.

—————————–

As far as the landscape goes, that’s the Eastern Sierras in the background.  Absolutely beautiful chunks of rock, if you ask me.  Of course, I’m biased, having been able to spend several years of my youth living with them in sight, being able to camp and hike and fish all over them.

And if you look at highest peak left of center, that is Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States, topping out at 14,505′.


In just a few months, Goddess and I will be standing on top of that peak as part of our hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

Workin’

Yep, we’ve been workin’.  Quite a bit.

But throwing in quite a bit of fun while we’re at it.

Yesterday we got on a rare mid-week trail work crew in a local Wilderness (yep, that’s a Capital-W Wilderness, which is different from your every day run-of-the-mill wilderness).  The specific one is the Soda Mountain Wilderness, just a short 20-minutes or so from town.

The event was held by the Siskiyou Mountain Club, one of many environmental stewardship organizations in the area.  The trail we were working on was the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), so there was also representation from the PCTA.

There were six volunteers and we quickly split into two groups.  My group included Goddess and the PCTA rep.

Our first blow-down tree turned out to be the only one that our group of three got to tackle.  It was a tough tree, fighting us until the very end.  After two-and-a-half hours, of fighting with it, we had to call the other group back for reinforcements.  It still took another 30-45 minutes to finish the cut and get it off the trail.

It was an interesting oblong-shaped Douglas Fir, measuring approximately 34″ horizontally and 24″ vertically (as it lay on the slope) with well over 100 rings in it.  The first taps sounded like it was pretty rotten, but turned out to not be true.  There was nothing rotten in that tree.  It was a very solid specimen.

Too bad the soil couldn’t support it through the torrential rains and hurricane-strength winds the area received last week.

But why did it take so long for us to clear the tree from the trail?  We were in big-W Wilderness, which means that no mechanized means could be used to clear the tree.  So it was the old-fashioned 2-person crosscut saw.  Or, as we learned recently, a “misery whip”.

Although I actually love to use it.

Here I am with Ian Nelson, the PCTA Big Bend Regional Representative, starting the first cut on the uphill side of the trail.

Crosscut Saw Tree Clearing on the Pacific Crest TrailA few hours and a few broken felling wedges later, the trail was accessible.

Here is Goddess standing on the newly cleared trail.

Crosscut clearing of the Pacific Crest TrailFor those keeping track, it’s at approximately mile 1,732 using Halfmile’s 2014 track.  Or about 1/2 mile past the Pilot Rock Trail junction if you’re heading north.


As you may be aware, as Goddess and I are hiking the PCT this year and are being sponsored by Yama Mountain Gear.  Through that sponsorship, we are asking for donations to the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA).  As a non-profit organization responsible for maintaining and protecting the PCT, they need our help to fund activities such as this.

Even with volunteers, the crew work does cost money, even if it’s just simple logistics and tool care/replacement (remember, we broke 3 felling wedges that will need to be replaced).

So if you are a trail user or just like the idea that organizations like the PCTA exist to protect this National Scenic Trail, please consider donating even just $10 by clicking on the photo below.  If you donate $35, you will become a member of the PCTA, which includes goodies for you (details at the link).

The best part?  Well, besides folks being able to get out and maintain the trails?  Your donation may be tax-deductible!

Thanks to those of you who have already donated.  We’re at 16% of our goal for the year already!

Bill and Jennifer Anders, Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and raising funds for the Pacific Crest Trail Association

Thank you.

Bill & Jennifer Anders

Lunch Interrupted

Midday Sunday.  We were making lunch before we ran out the door to take care of some errands.

I was pulling the vegetables out of the drawer for a salad when I became distracted.

For the next couple of hours.

It’s a good thing that Goddess is patient.  She took advantage of the time to not only finish preparing lunch, but to eat it and take a nap.

That was time well spent.

The subject of my distraction was a pair of lovely carrots that we received from one of our local farmers in our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

Aren’t they lovely?

You’d never find these in a store.  Honestly, I don’t know why.  It’s not like they are less nutritious.  The human mind is odd.

Truth be told, mine is too.

Watching these carrots suspended in space in my makeshift studio (the hallway) for a while gave rise to many different stories in my mind.

Which stories can you come up with?


Later this week will be our last delivery for this winter through our CSA.  This is the second winter that we’ve received bountiful baskets full of in-season vegetables from Barking Moon Farm.  Thanks for the flavors and the exploration, Melissa and Josh!

Walking

There has been a lot of walking around here lately.  A lot more than usual.

We do live in quite a walkable town.

But we’ve got a longer walk to get ready for, you know. So it’s a lot more hours on the feet, more frequently.

Today was one of those days, complete with errands and appointments.  It helped that our errands and appointments in town today were spread out.  That forced us to get walking early.

It was also a great opportunity to test the rain gear that we have on hand (we’re still mulling over a couple of  items), plus check to see how the sock/shoe systems work while soaked (verdict: swimmingly).

The best part is that once the appointments were done and we were waiting for the shop to finish with the car, the walk delivered views like this:

We took the rainbow as a sign that our car was done at the shop.  Three hours later, we found that to not be true.  But four hours later, all was right.

That image was shot right after we stopped for our “lunch”.  I put “lunch” in quotation marks because we’re working on our feeding schedule on these walks, trying to stick to every 90 minutes or so for a snack, then keep moving.

This specific feeding was closest to noon, so that counted as “lunch”.

Just 90 minutes later, it was mid-afternoon and it was time for a break.  It had been raining pretty steadily and hard for several hours, not to mention all of the water blowing off of the trees in an increasing wind.  But we were comfortable.

Just a touch hungry.

As Goddess boiled the water for some hot tea, I snapped a couple of pics, which didn’t stop her from eating some of the salami and rehydrated veggies.  But her look here, a look that I did not notice at the time, is proof that if I didn’t act fast, I was not going to get any of it.

Now that’s what I call “hangry”.