Sunday, May 13, 2012

May 12th Mile 306

Near a creek 6:24 pm

Today was one of those days that didn't turn out like I had planned. You might remember Moral Dilemma#1 from last night. Well in the light of day I decided to be a good little soldier and take the official detour that the PCTA and Forest Service wants us to take. I walked the four miles to the junction, ate some snacks then turned my feet towards 14 miles of road walking. I was doing my best at making lemonade, thinking how nice it would be to have a smooth dirt road to walk on and be able to look around at the sights as I went. Well, not so. Guess what? Dirt roads are designed for wheeled vehicles and they have different needs than hikers have. For example, vehicles have engines that push them up steep hills. My engine is used to less than 10% grades. Vehicles need banked turns to maintain balance at speed. My legs are used to walking on relatively level ground, laterally. I felt like I was walking on a steep hillside most of the time. And did I mention the speeding motorcycles, quads and jeeps? Can you imagine the ruts they make on dirt roads? However I want to be clear here, I don't blame them as I was walking on a road clearly not designed for foot traffic.

Lets just say, after five miles the lemonade thing wasn't working. As I was grumbling to myself four jeeps with FS folks in them came along and stopped along side to see if I needed anything. When they heard I was a PCT'er they told me the trail had been repaired and that there was no need for a detour. Well s**t! Here I was five miles into a hot, nasty road hike I didn't have to make. One of the guys gave me a map and told me I could walk back to a junction and hike back down the the PCT without going all the way back to my starting place. I tried to be gracious and thanked him for the information. What to do? When in doubt, take a break so I found a tree stump to sit on and pondered my future. Within a few minutes another vehicle drove up and an off duty FS Ranger asked me if I needed anything. Apparently folks aren't used to seeing a 60 year old woman wearing a pack, sitting on a stump, under a silver umbrella in 90 degree heat. I explained my dilemma and after some discussion with his girlfriend/wife in the truck, he offered to take me to the spot just above the PCT junction. I really don't know what I would have done if they hadn't helped me out in this way.

I got the boots on the ground version of the closure from my friendly helper and basically the trail has been completely repaired and while the damaged bridge is not yet repaired, it is completely passable. But since it isn't ALL done, the closure hasn't been lifted. Talk about the nightmare of big agencies covering their backsides. Whatever the danger might have been, it couldn't have been worse than that road walk was for me today. It's not as if we hikers are divas and have to have 32 inch wide, perfect trail to traverse. If we were, we sure wouldn't pick the PCT to hike.

After all that I just couldn't pull a long day off. I did manage to hike about 14 miles of combined road and trail tread but when I got to this nice creek, in the middle of hot, dry hillsides, I just couldn't make myself continue on four more miles to the next possible campsite. So I found a nice spot for myself for the night and tomorrow will be better.

So there you have the Saga of Upside Down and the Trouble With Detours.


  1. Well Shelly, I'm sure glad that ranger came along so you didn't have to decide whether to continue on that road with the jeeps and the bikers. Wish I had a picture of that 60 year old broad sitting on a stump with a pack on under a silver umbrella… bet you made quite the picture. Sweet dreams.

  2. Well! I can say with great confidence that today (5/13) was a better hike than yesterday (5/12). Road walkin' ain't nuthin' like trail walkin'! Just think, your predicament gave someone an opportunity to earn their "Trail Angel Wings!" Lemonade anyone?

  3. The ranger saved the's good that he showed up and took you where you needed to be. What are the chances that would happen? Must be all the positive energy your friends are sending your way on this incredible journey. Hope today was more fun!