Snow Levels on the CDT and the PCT for 2007

Before hiking the PCT, I watched the snow levels, as too much snow in the Sierras would make for a more difficult hike. So far, things look good for both a northbound PCT(Pacific Crest Trail) hike or a CDT (Continental Divide Trail) hike. (Although NM looks really dry) Snow levels for the PCT and CDT 2007. To see the snowpack for other months and years go to: http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/cgibin/westsnow.pl

I also found this site that has a a really good graph of the snow levels for PCT or the CDT

I sort of had other plans for this summer like building a cob cottage or selling my BC property but as the winter wears on and I tire of domestic life, I’m more attracted to a hike. The cabin I’m living in is fine for now and I don’t need to sell my BC property and it’s not every year the snow levels are this low…….

Watches for hiking and travel.

Before starting my PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) hike, I was given a Suunto compass/altimeter watch. I didn’t feel like I needed one, but I brought it with me. It turned out to be one of my favorite pieces of gear. Combined with the data book, that would list all the altitudes, I found it easy to figure out where I was. I also had opportunities to use the compass. Periodically, I would set the declination on it. The declination of every section is listed in the guidebook. A watch is also helpful for using “dead reckoning” to figure out where you are, (example: I have been walking 2 hours; I usually walk at 2.5 miles an hour so I must be…)

The compass watches’ batteries are only good for about a year, and I have had terrible luck in changing the batteries. I would recommend going to a jeweler to have it done. That said even still, my Suunto started leaking after about a year. My next one was a High Gear. It stopped working after about a year too; I changed the battery but it still didn’t work.watch.jpg

Yesterday, I ordered this Casio PAW1200 Pathfinder Atomic Solar Triple Sensor watch, which is a solar powered altimeter/compass watch. Because the battery will never need changing, I’m hoping this one will last. It also sets it’s self by an atomic clock. Even if it doesn’t see any light for 5 months it’s supposed to keep working. My Casio data bank was always a good and dependable watch and I’m hoping this one will last as well.
You’ll want to set the declination and altitude. To find out what the declination is for where you are or where you are going, visit: http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/seg/geomag/jsp/struts/calcDeclination To find out what the altitude is for where you are, download Google Earth and type in your address. If I come to a place with a elevation sign and it doesn’t jive with my watch I reset the altitude.

For international travel, I used to carry a Casio data bank; it would hold all my important numbers and phone numbers. The calculator was essential for figuring out what things cost in dollars. In addition, it listed the current time in cities around the world. I also liked that the light on it, was bright enough to light my way through a dorm of people sleeping, down some stairs, and into a bathroom that was built with large boulders protruding into it.

Update:  I called Casio and asked how to set the declination on it and the woman said, “the what?” and then read the manual that I had just read 3 times that didn’t say anything about how to check the declination. She said that she thought that you couldn’t do it, I said that that is crazy to sell a compass watch at that price and not even be able to set the declination. Then she said that the watch specialist would call me back but so far, no call.

In a moment of clumsy inattention

Things are warming up here. It got up to 40 F (4.4 C)today, which is sort of sad because the snow is no longer fluffy. Everything is drippy. My porch looked wet this morning, when I went out to start the generator, but it was icy and I slipped and fell hard; my back hitting the corner of the step.  I left my slippers lay where they had flown, hobbled back inside, took some ibuprofen and went back to bed. I forget to live carefully, sometimes. Sometimes, I live as carelessly as someone can, who lives in the city and who has health insurance.

On the trail I try to live carefully; the consequences of an injury could be great. I find that I hike more carefully and balanced by myself then when hiking with others. Ray Jardine, in the Pacific Crest Trail handbook, recommends not hiking alone through the Sierras, so, I started hiking with two other hikers in Kennedy Meadows. The partnership didn’t last long; I didn’t like hiking at someone else’s pace. I did enjoy the camaraderie and having someone to camp with at night. I started hiking at my own pace and meeting up with them, now and then and camped with them for a few nights.

We were all hiking together when we came to a swollen stream of glacial melt. The first guy walked across and he pointed at a log as the best way to cross. I didn’t think about it, I just crossed there. The log rolled and trapped my foot under it. I was trapped in a gushing stream of glacial melt up to my ribcage, I was thinking that I may die there. One of the guys was able to lift the log off my foot and I scrambled out. The other guy said, “See, that is why we should all hike together?.

That was a joyous moment when that log was lifted off my foot and I was happy and grateful that he had been there, but the lesson is not that you shouldn’t hike alone but that sometimes logs roll and also that you need to find your own way and not let others lead you.

We all parted ways soon after and I was happily walking at my own pace again, aware and edgy like a creature in the wilderness should be.

Oasis of hell.

There was a trail angel that lived close to the Pacific Crest Trail in southern California. His house was where the hikers stopped to rest and get water through a particularly hot, dry stretch of the trail. When I got to his house, another hiker in his yard, told me that the man was taking a nap. His house was covered in homemade signs that said stuff like “I hate everyone equally.? Some of the signs I didn’t understand. At the bottom of every sign was his name.

Since I had been hiking at night to avoid the heat, I laid down in the shade of a tree and went to sleep.

I woke up to an old big man standing above me. He said, “Who the fuck are you?? I introduced myself and he said, “Well, you better go inside and sign the fucking guest book.? I went inside and he gruffly and with many obscenities explained that his well pump was broken so he couldn’t offer hikers a shower and ice water like he usually would. There was a tank of water that we could fill our bottles for drinking but no washing. He told us to just shit anywhere, but not where he would step in it. There was a turd in a newspaper outside his garage.

He asked us to pay him five dollars each for the shade and drinking water. We all paid, filled our water bottles and hiked on.

A month later, I heard, he shot himself.

My first night on the PCT.

For twenty years I dreamed about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I shopped for gear and read books about hiking the trail. The day I turned 40, I sat staring at the phone afraid and excited to make the call. I told myself that it could not be put off; it had to be done that day. I called my job and told them that I wouldn’t be back that spring because I was going to hike the PCT. To my surprise they said, “That sounds great! If you don’t have anywhere to hike next year give us a call.? And so, it was really going 11campo-monument.jpgto happen; I was going to hike from Mexico to Canada, close to 2700 miles in one summer.

I got off the bus, down at the border, and walked to the beginning of the trail and back again to the little town of Campo. I slept on the rocks above the store to avoid possible run-ins with immigrants during the night. That night I was so happy. It felt unreal to finally be there after so many years of wanting to be there. I didn’t set up my tent; I just lay down my pad on the rock and got in my sleeping bag. That night I was woke up by a bird that touched me and then hovered above me.