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

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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.

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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).

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PCT Pacing

In the last post covering PCT Planning, I mentioned a 20 mile-per-day (mpd) average needed for us to get to Canada by the end of September.  Hopefully before the snow starts falling.

Twenty miles a day?  Walking?  On purpose?

Gotcha.

But remember, that’s the average.  Half of the hike will be below, half will be above.

We’re going to stick with the ultra-marathon mantra of “start out slow, throttle back”.  In other words, we intend on being tortoises.

We’ll start our hike about 10 days earlier than the traditional start of the PCT hiking season, which coincides with an event called the Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off (ADZPCTKO).  The ADZPCTKO is, in a nutshell, a camping weekend where hikers can meet other hikers, get advice on their equipment, buy what they need and get the latest trail, water and snow conditions for the trail before they head out.

[I actually typed “buy what they don’t need”.  Freudian slip, anyone?]

The location of the ADZPCTKO is the Lake Morena campground at PCT mile 20.  A lot of folks will do that 20 miles in their first day.

Goddess and I will not.

We’ll take two days to get to that campsite, a week before the masses.  We’ll keep moving at a 10 mpd average pace for the next couple of weeks.

There are downsides to moving so slowly.  We’ll have to carry more water between watering holes (literally) in the desert.  We’ll have to carry more food between resupply points.  But we’ll be giving our feet and our bodies frequent breaks during the day, giving everything a chance to settle into the task.

A typical day early in the hike might look like this – wake up early and get on the trail around sunrise.  Walk for a couple of hours until mid- to late-morning when it starts to get hot (it will be the desert, y’know).  Find or create shade, have lunch, take a siesta and wait until late afternoon.  Then get a couple of more hours on the trail in the late afternoon/early evening before setting up camp for the night.

A lot of folks will try to get in 20 mile days, day after day, right from the start.  Some of those will soon start to deal with incessant blisters and/or bio-mechanical issues.  Quite a few of those will stop at Warner Springs, just 110 miles into the hike, deal with their injuries and never continue.

That’s not something we want to experience.

We’ll get to Warner Springs as the ADZPCTKO is in full-swing and we’ll likely continue north.  Although we’re still discussing the possibility of hitching a ride back down to the event.  We’ll have time.

If we continue along the trail, the fast hikers will catch up to us within a few days.  Soon the trickle of hikers will become a steady stream as the faster ones catch and pass us.

But we still won’t be in a hurry.

By the time we get to Kennedy Meadows, the traditional start of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, we’ll be up to a whopping 12 mpd average.  And we’ll still get to Kennedy Meadows about a week earlier than the traditional 15 June date.  In a typical year, departing Kennedy Meadows earlier than 15 June means dealing with a lot of snow at elevation, while departing Kennedy Meadows after 15 June means an easier time as the snow melts quickly.

Mind you, that average takes into consideration days off.  In thru-hiker parlance, a day off is a “Zero Day”, meaning no miles are hiked.  Often taken in a town, a zero day can also be taken on the trail, but that requires additional food and water for that segment of the trail.

Another option is what is called a “Nearo Day”.  Instead of no miles hiked, a hiker can camp a few miles outside of a town, wake up, hike into town and take care of whatever resupply and other chores are required, then hike out of town a few miles to camp for the night.

The advantage to a Nearo is not paying for a hotel room.  Handy when you’re trying to save money on the trail, but not so much if it has been 7-10 days (or more) since the last shower or hiker bath in a large body of water.  Even your fellow hikers might start to say something about that.

So while the average is 12 mpd, we’ll slowly build up our daily pace to accommodate those off and shorter days.

The next 400 miles through the Sierra Nevada Mountains will be slow going as we have to work over several high elevation passes and across streams swollen with snow melt.  After that, it’s time to get serious about making miles.

Through Northern California and Oregon, it’s likely that we’ll be covering 25 mpd, many days covering 30+ miles.  It sounds like a lot, but when you consider that by the time we enter Northern California we’ll have had over 1,100 miles in our legs over three months, we’ll be up to the task.

Not to mention time.  We’ll enter Northern California in early July, a few weeks after the summer solstice.  The days will be long (~15 hours of daylight).  We’ll be comfortably walking 12-14 hours each day at a slower than normal walking pace of 2.5 mph.  That gets us over 30 miles each day if we want or need to push that hard.

Once we get into Washington, the terrain becomes a bit more demanding again and our daily pace will slow down a bit.  But at that point, we’re five months into our long walk and have the finish in our grasp.  Excitement and motivation will help overcome any terrain and weather (rain) that we have to deal with.

And that, in a nutshell, is how we average 20 miles per day on this long walk.

But that sure is a lot of words.  Perhaps this will help with the understanding of the motivation:

 

PCT Planning

I’ve been posting about this long walk that we’re taking this summer, a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).    If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, click here for a quick overview.

Go ahead, we’ll wait.

OK, good.

Well, as you can imagine, a 5-6 month hike doesn’t just happen.  For some, sure, it can be done.  Especially if they already have all of the right equipment and a bit of background doing this.

That could be us.

In a couple of years.

But for now, we need a plan.  Enough of a plan that Goddess is comfortable with our general direction.  Why she trusts me to do this, I’ll never know.

Perhaps it’s curiosity.

Luckily there are hundreds of hikers that make the same trek every year.  Some multiple times.  Others glean information from all of their hiker friends and do things like write guide books for the rest of us.  One such hiker has a trial name of “Yogi”.  Yogi’s book is the Bible for the PCT (she does one for the Continental Divide Trial [CDT] also).

The best part is that she updates her book every year.  For folks like us who bought last year’s book to try to get an idea of what we were getting ourselves into, she’s kind enough to post a summary of changes.  I can then pencil in the changes without having to buy this year’s book.

The level of detail is just crazy.  Although not mile-by-mile, it might as well be.  Every known water spot, every known road crossing, every known spot to resupply (more in a later post) is listed in the book.  It sure helps those of us that aren’t familiar with the trail and the towns.

So Yogi’s book is the Bible.  While it gives us the overview and the details, it doesn’t do much to help build a schedule.  That’s where Craig comes in.

Craig first hiked the PCT in 1996.  Planning for that hike, he built a schedule on a spreadsheet compiling as much data as he could.  Eventually he ported it over to a web-based program and he puts it out there for us to use for free, although donations are appreciated.

Craig’s PCT Planner starts off simply enough – enter a start date and press “go”.  After that it’s easy to get buried in the weeds.  That’s where I’ve been for several months now.

This is how it looks graphically:

CaptureAnd for those of you in the know about this sort of hiking, that is not our plan.  Most quick hikers at the front of the pack are not averaging 24.5 miles per day through the Sierras, even if they were doing that through the 700 miles prior to these sections.

Not to mention that this plan would be leaving Kennedy Meadows and entering the Sierras almost a month earlier than conventional wisdom, ensuring a lot of deep snow to push through.  No thanks.

We’ll be much slower than that, likely only covering 15 miles per day through this stretch in mid-June, a month later than depicted.  But that’s OK, we’ll make up for it later in northern California and Oregon.

For the detailed planning that I’m doing now, the graphical display is nice but hard to follow.  Instead I export the data into a spreadsheet, just like Craig used in the beginning.

That’s where the Devil is.

In that spreadsheet.

A lot of details and a lot of things to stress over, if I was to stress over those things.  But the one thing I do know is that no matter how much planning I do now, it doesn’t matter once we start walking.

As Craig cautions – “Just because you carried four cases of beer into the woods that one time 15 years ago does not mean you can still do it now“.

For us, the days will evolve however they will.  We’ll adapt or we won’t.

In other words, while I’m doing quite a bit of planning, I constantly keep military strategist Helmuth von Moltke The Elder‘s paraphrased quote in the back of my head:

No plan survives contact with the [trail].

In other words – one step at a time, one day at a time.

We’ll get there.

 

PCT Thru-Hike Sponsorship

Great news!

Goddess and I have been picked up on a sponsorship for our thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) next year.

The primary sponsor is Yama Mountain Gear, run by Gen Shimizu out in Charlottesville,  Virginia.  Gen makes ultra-light shelters and bags, which will help cut my weight by a couple of pounds.

That’s the deal – I carry the house, Goddess carries the kitchen.

Gen is working hard to get other companies on board, which is nice.  But for us, the most important part of the sponsorship is personal access to mentors, folks that have been doing this for a long time.  It turns out that one of them even lives a few miles away.  It will be good to pick their brains as we prepare.

If you’re wondering why that’s the most important part for us – have you ever asked a question on social media in a group of several hundred people?

There’s your answer.

If you’re curious about our thoughts on this, we both have profile pages on the team site:

Goddess

Bill

Yep, for those of you that don’t know, Goddess’ name is really Jennifer.  But on this page (and in real life) she is and will always be Goddess.

Here we are together:


Part of our responsibility with this sponsorship is to do some fundraising for the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA).  You’ll likely remember several of my posts from this past summer where I was out working on the trail with the PCTA.  Next year we can’t work on the trail, but we can do our part by helping fundraise.

I know it’s a tough time of year for everyone.  Especially since it seems that everyone is putting a hand out.  But this fundraiser will go all the way through 2015, so please don’t feel any pressure to act immediately.

However, if you are looking for another opportunity for a tax write off this year (and again next year), here’s your chance since the PCTA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Online fundraising for Bill and Jennifer Anders fundraising for the PCTA with mYAMAdventure

As you can see, a couple of folks got a bit antsy (you know who you are), not wanting to wait until the announcement.  That’s awesome!  And Thank You!

I’ll keep you updated as we get closer to the hike.  It’s hard to believe that in just over 100 days we’ll be starting this adventure.

Tree Smoke

An inaccurate description of what’s going on here.  Not completely, because those are, in fact, trees.  But that’s not smoke, just fog in the valley below and lifting out of the trees after a brief warming by sun.

I heard the phrase “tree smoke” years ago to describe this and have always liked it.  It’s interesting when it’s several trees like this, but a lot more interesting when it’s a single tree in a stand of trees.  That always makes me wonder about the microclimate around that single tree and the myriad physical processes that make that unique occurrence.

But sometimes I look and just enjoy the beauty of it.

Tree Smoke

Overlooking the Rogue Valley, Jackson County, Oregon, from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), approximately mile 1,746.5, at about the same time that “The Whiz” was given her trail name.

And now that it’s December, it’s time for WordPress to include the falling snow.  That makes your visit to this site a little bit more entertaining, especially once you realize that the snowflakes will chase your cursor as they fall.

Have fun!

 

Thanks!

Here in the US, today is Thanksgiving.  A day to give thanks.

Scenes like this help affirm to Goddess and I that we should give thanks every day.  And we do.

These two scenes are from yesterday morning, Thanksgiving Eve if you will.

We had hiked out the afternoon prior with the intent to camp out and test some equipment in the cool.  It wasn’t cold, but cool.  The morning low temperature was right around freezing.  Not too bad, especially considering that we were at 6,500′ and it is late November.

Grouse Gap Sunrise

Not a bad way to crawl out of the sack.

Although it was much, much better less than 30 minutes later.

Shasta Sunrise

Giving thanks?

We have plenty of reasons to be thankful.  Most of all for the opportunities that have led us to where we are and the opportunities yet to come, including a long walk next year that will keep that mountain, Mount Shasta, within view several times during approximately 300 miles of hiking.

Trails and Rocks

An excellent weekend here, not just in weather, but deeds.

Saturday was a full day of trail work on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with a good group of people.  This time it was a local section, so I woke up in my bed instead of in my tent.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Sunday was a day spent with friends from the trail, except we went vertical, climbing Pilot Rock, a prominent peak near town.  It’s a fairly popular climbing spot, with a couple of routes rated 5.11+ on the south side.  But we stuck to the north side, a scramble up a wedge with a couple of fun “feet hanging” moments.

At the top was a nice 360° view of the area.  Not much different than the view from many of the other peaks in the area, but none have the approach that this required.  Good fun.

Of course, I had to stop and enjoy my favorite view of a mountain that makes me smile – Mount Shasta.

Pilot Rock Shasta View

After the climb, we headed down to the meadow, ate lunch, laughed and enjoyed the view of Pilot Rock.

Pilot Rock Meadow View

The route was on the left (north side), up in the crease between the two main columns of Pilot Rock.  If you looked at the Wikipedia page, you might have noticed the panoramic view.  Click on that and you can see the impressive polygonal columns that make up the rock.  Those made for a nice stair-step approach to the summit.

Keen-eyed watchers of this page might notice the shape at the top of Pilot Rock and the small weathered tree.  That’s the subject of my favorite image of the rock, shot back in June during a nice bout of rain.

Steadfast

Hopefully you were able to get out and enjoy the outdoors this weekend!

Wildhorse Lake

We were disappointed in the lack of clarity in the sky, as there are several wildfires in the region.  Luckily we got there when we did, as a thunderstorm rolled through two days later and started a wildfire on the slopes.

Wildhorse Lake

Steens Mountain, Oregon.

Unfortunately, we didn’t make the hike down to the lake.  You can see the trail extending down from the lower left, using switchbacks to drop down the steep slopes toward the lake.  It’s only about two miles round trip, but in our haste to pack the car and drive out to southeast Oregon, we left all of our water carrying bottles and bladders at the house and the water filter was back at the camp.  So at the elevation (~9,000′) on a hot day, we wisely decided to not make the jaunt.  Oh well, a good excuse to return to the lake.

Perhaps even camp.

Lunchtime and Fires

A couple of snaps from a long day working on and hiking trail.  Longer than anyone expected, as the 7.5′ maps didn’t show quite a bit of trail detail (e.g., switchbacks) that we needed to know.

Once the fires started, the trail we were sent to work on, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), was closed to the public so that firefighters could move freely on it.  Not to mention, parts of the trail passed close to the rapidly growing fires.  Since that trail was closed, we shifted gears and tackled a few local trails that had been sorely neglected for quite a few years.

The first was the Long Gulch Trail.  Quite a bit of clearing brush and rebuilding trail that morning, but we were lucky enough to make it to Long Gulch Lake for lunch.  A few folks jumped into the water while most of us just enjoyed the scenery.  Those that swam regretted it later as the chafing set in on a long loop hike back to camp.

Long Gulch Lake

This is the view of the lake a couple of hours later as we worked the trail up to the ridge line.

Here is a map that some folks built of their three day hike of the same loop that we worked and covered in 10 hours.  But to be fair, we only worked the uphill portion of the Long Gulch Trail, then moved quickly through the rest of the loop to get back down into the valley.

Long Gulch Lakes Loop

We moved quickly through the hike portion once we reached the top of the Long Gulch Trail.  We received word from the Forest Service that we were not to dilly dally, as the Coffee Fire was just a few miles away and blowing up in the dry, hot, windy afternoon conditions.  We could see a bit of the smoke plume from the top of the summit, but had a chance to really get a look at it less than 1/2 mile later as we hiked under the south side of the ridge line.

Coffee Fire

The picture makes it look quite a bit further than it really was.

As we dropped down the switchbacks towards Trail Gulch Lake, we had a front row view of the helicopters dropping down over the lake and scooping up water to drop on the surrounding fires.  That made for a complete experience.

Over a week later, the Coffee Fire is still going, having burnt over 6,000 acres, but is 60% contained this morning.  However, our entire area is in a Red Flag Warning for the next 48 hours as another round of thunderstorms, with little rain, spread over the forests.

It’s just that time of year out west.

PCT Sunrise

A perfect response to my last post, Magenta Sunset.

PCT Sunrise

This sunrise was nine days later and about sixty miles as the crow flies, although driving time is a few hours.

This was the view from my tent.  I didn’t even need to lift my head to see it, instead I would roll on my side and unzip the screening for a clear view.  It was a view that I could quickly get used to.

Too bad I didn’t have the chance.

I spent nine days with a work crew on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  The crew consisted of volunteers with the PCTA, as well as young AmeriCorps volunteers working through the American Conservation Experience (ACE).  We were responsible with rehabilitating a stretch of the PCT north of Carter Meadows Summit, which sits on the boundary between the Klamath National Forest to the north and the Trinity Alps Wilderness to the south.  That was the plan.

But plans change.

On the afternoon of our first day of work, thunderstorms popped up.  Quickly we got wet, but then the hail started and a very close lightning strike (within 1/4 mile)  really got the crew on edge.  But not as much as the smell of smoke just a few minutes later.  Within 30 minutes we were hiking off the trail, stepping aside to let the first ground firefighting crew get by.  We spent the rest of the afternoon back at camp watching the activity as smoke jumpers dropped into the very steep terrain, then watched water drops continue until dark.

Little did we know at the time, but we were at the epicenter of the beginning of the 2014 northern California fire season.  Within days, over 20,000 acres in the surrounding forests were on fire.

This view was the next morning, as the fire smoldered to our northwest.  The little bit of smoke in the air really enhanced the dawn.

I was lucky enough to get one more morning of this view at dawn, but then we were asked to vacate our camp to make room for a forward firefighting camp.  After that we were safely down in the valley, but missing the sunrises and sunsets.  And instead of working on the PCT, we spent the rest of our time working on local trails heading up into the Trinity Alps Wilderness.  That turned out to be a good thing, as those trails were very neglected and sorely needed the attention.