Flying in to Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness

Coming through Millinocket around noon today we stopped at the Hannaford’s grocery store where down by the dairy isle I ran into Billy Goat, a former Mainer, who is best known for his perpetual thru-hiking of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Uncle Tom and Billy Goat

Uncle Tom and Billy Goat

I was astounded that he appeared in my life again. I had three conversations with Billy Goat on my 2010 5-month thru hike of that trail, that 2,700 mile baptism of ice, snow, and other forms of cold water.

Billy Goat and me on the PCT in Southern California in 2010

Billy Goat and me on the PCT in Southern California in 2010

Billy Goat gave me specific advice each time that we connected.  Slow down was his main message, “You may never pass through all this again.”

Billy Goat has been out providing ground/ auto support for a friend who is about to finish a long segment from Gaspe, Quebec to Katahdin.  I told Billy Goat he looked good for 75. His eyes are not worn and washed out, and still radiate hope.

The highlight of the day was sitting in the rear seat of a small 4 seat float plane with my buddies Chris and Joe when we departed from Katahdin Air Service and landed on Crawford Pond 15 minutes later to begin our 50 mile northbound section hike.  The cost of the flight included a shuttle of my car to Abol Bridge, a one hour round trip.  When we finish the hike, the car will be right there for us on the Appalachian Trail.  IMG_3507 Jim, the pilot,  pointed out where the AT meanders between the lakes and ponds below as it carries itself along the undulating green carpet.

It was the perfect introductory backpacking day.  Blue skies, except for the clouds over Katahdin.

Katahdin looms in the distance

Katahdin looms in the distance

IMG_3515 A short 3.5 mile afternoon, and a bed space in my favorite AT shelter, Cooper Brook Falls. Tomorrow we start our first full day of adventure.

Go Take a Hike! – NYTimes.com

Go Take a Hike! – NYTimes.com.<  Enjoy the hope.

Every once in a while, Nick Kristof, prizewinning journalist takes a long hike, and it’s national news. This time it’s 145 miles in Oregon on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  Kristof’s article calls to mind one of the most piercing quotes of all time, from the Grand Wanderer.

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It looks poorest when you are richest.  The fault finder will find faults even in paradise.  Love your life, poor as it is.  You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse.  The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. ”                                                                     -Thoreau

In 2010, on this exact date, I was 1544 miles into hiking the PCT, and in Etna California, about 100 miles south of entering Oregon.

Me entering the Trinity Alps

Me entering the Trinity Alps

Read my Trailjournal entry from that day, echoing my own renewed appreciation for hiking this particular National Scenic Trail.

When General Lee Saved Dreams – Pacific Crest Trail Journal

Axilla helping Train exit South Fork of the King River in June 1010

Axilla helping Train exit South Fork of the King River in June 1010

I just received a repost of a June 24, 2010 Trail Journal entry from Dreams.  Dreams hooked up with MeGaTex for a few days as we all were backpacking through the  Sierra on our 2010 Pacific Crest Trail thru hikes.  This part of the PCT is not much for solo travel, and is where even seasoned hikers who prefer to walk the trail alone often find themselves teaming up with other hikers for situations just like this one!

I agree that this was the scariest and most dangerous water crossing on the whole PCT. I still have mild PTSD that lingers on, still triggered by the unique deep bass roar of these overflowing streams and watercourses.

So, enjoy the following report from a day way back back in 2010.  Thanks, Dreams !

Click here—>>>Dreams – Pacific Crest Trail Journal – 2010.

Rescue at Hauser Canyon

While re-reading my Trailjournal from my 2010 thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, I started looking around the Web for anyone starting out early this year. Blondie’s all set to go, and is posting on |Blondie Hikes.   I stumbled upon her remarkable post about a unprepared hiker-wannabee who might have died if not for Blondie’s help.

Hauser Canyon is a location that one passes through on the PCT .  It is located at about the 15 miles north from the US/Mexico border in California.

Hauser Canyon coming up

Hauser Canyon coming up

Apparently Blondie was day hiking the 21 mile segment that most hikers complete on their first day on the PCT.  Hikers try to make the 21 in a day because there is so little water in that section, punctuated with heavy border patrol that would invite a look-see wakeup from Agents if they detected a tent up in that section. If you make the 21 miles you arrive at Lake Morena State Park, a safe haven.

My campsite and tent- NIght #2 PCT

My campsite and tent- Night #2 on PCT

Knowledgeable trail angels have suggested that this will be a record year for PCT thru hiker attempts. “1,000 people on the trail this year” is popping up. Hopefully there is some sense out there,  Some say it’s the Wild effect, thanks to Cheryl Strayed’s best selling book about hiking a portion of the PCT in 1995.   Here’s my review of the book.

Check out the full story here–>  Rescue at Hauser Canyon.  Sheesh!

Be sure to read the comments, too.  Feel free to leave your own comments here and I’ll join in the discussion.

 

PCT Hiker Survey: Meaningless Numbers From Meaningful People

I’m reblogging a “report” of what appears to have taken considerable time and has good data. I was surprised that the completion numbers were this low, and like the concept of the composite “typical hiker”.  This is interesting for any long distance hiker.

PCT Hiker Survey: Meaningless Numbers From Meaningful People | Halfway Anywhere.

Carey Kish: “His toughest trek beckons”

In Maine’s Sunday Telegram.

Carey Kish: His toughest trek beckons | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Tiki-man survives near drowning

Dateline: Spring Brook, Camden Hills State Park, Camden, ME

The normally staid water bottle, AKA Tiki- Man, barely survived a harrowing fall into the rushing, frigid  Class V rapids along Spring Brook on March 16, 2013, in Midcoast Maine.

Tiki-man taking well-earned rest on  Vermont's Long Trail

Tiki-man taking well-earned rest on Vermont’s Long Trail


When Tenzing was getting refills for multiple water bottles near the bloated culvert containing Spring Brook, Tiki-man  leapt from his hand into the raging torrent.
While Tiki-man remained  collected, Tenzing became gravely distraught about the situation.Tiki-man was engulfed by the torrent that quickly propelled  him under the multi-purpose road above.  In panic mode, Tenzing scrambled up the embankment, only to become further frantic as he realized that the revered, purple, and ( at times) luminescent head was no where to be seen.

Glancing straight down the side of the road to the surface of the maelstrom below, Tiki-man was sighted, in an  immobilized state  within the backwaters of an eddy, but beyond human  reach.  Stuck inside backwash Tenzing leaped into rescue mode, and quickly fashioned a three-pronged branch,  that he used to dislodge and release Tiki man, only to realize that the valiant water bottle was facing yet another harrowing scoot down the icy water.
Tiki-man courageously traversed at a diagonal across the channel, where he eventually struggled to maintain a tentative hold on the far-side shore.

Gripping on for dear life!

Gripping on for dear life!

At this point, Tiki-man was clearly up against very thin ice.

The three-pronged stick guided Tiki-man past this last challenge into a still pool, where he was airlifted to safety by the selfsame stick.
Most importantly, Tiki-Man lived to tell the tale. He described his dunking as the most harrowing experience that he has ever been through.

Tiki-man is a seasoned, 6 year old water bottle. Tiki-Man has recently become  increasingly despondent at his persistent failure to lose enough weight to qualify him as an ultralight backpacking accessory. He occasionally mumbles about being teased as “a bloated relic” by Platypi and even the young upstart plastic soda bottles.
The colorful character has risen through the ranks of backpacking water bottles through his persistent dedication to thru-hiker hydration.

A veteran of three National Scenic Trails, Tiki man has endured unparalleled adventures on the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and  Vermont’s Long Trails.

The closest the battered water bottle had come to the slag heap of also-ran hiker gear was in 2007, when he was dropped from a day pack on the AT and left for dead in a crevice between a rock and a hard place. Extracted from his impending tomb by a hiker named Big Sky,  the revived Tiki-Man survived a dark passage through the US Postal Service, adorned with a mere one dollar and thirty-two cent stamp and a tattered Uncle Tom address label.

Undaunted by his early morning sub-freezing soak today, Tiki- man bucked up, and settled into place in the backpack, where the wizened vessel  supplied his human partner, Uncle Tom, with hydration on a  long winter day hike in the Camden Hills.