Alice and I have rented a place in Honolulu for about 7 weeks before we move into our new place in Ventura. So we are living like residents for a bit. One of the first thing I did was buy a used mountain bike to do some exploring. Got a decent hard-tail for $200 and it is holding up pretty well.
Home base is here in Waikiki
Here is what I’ve found so far using a combination of guides, guesses, and occasional trespassing. Note: Almost all is paved or roughly paved so far.
This has been my go-to route for getting some exercise and nice views. Water up before leaving Waikiki. You can get some food/water at Hawaii Kai but East of there you are on your own. No towns, haven’t found a working water tap.
Take swim gear and snorkel. Plenty of spots to jump in the water to cool off.
Here are a few pics from recent outings.
This was not one of my best route planning outcomes. I basically just hooked up with Alice for some food and then heard about the Punchbowl and figured the road called “Punchbowl” would get me there. I recommend finding a better loop.
When you get to the top you will find a huge military cemetery and memorial to (mostly) vets from WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. I find it interesting that so many of the Japanese-American vets have fresh flowers on their markers. Anyway, here is the view that awaits.
Failing to Pearl Harbor
Not everything works out. Here is an example of where not to go.
There are no pictures.
Winning with Tantalus
I’ve included my second route through Tantalus which, according to Google, is only 13 miles. But these are some hard miles. This is a 1500 foot climb up into a rainforest and yes, it is raining. It has that feel like it is wet all the time. At the top the temp was at least 10 degrees cooler. Rode through the rain on the downhill, sliding turns and passing cars. Winning.
So the plan is for Joe and I to grab a ferry from San Pedro and head to Two Harbors. We will then do the Trans Catalina trail in reverse of the traditional route. We’ll hike up to Parsons landing and end at Avalon. Doesn’t look too rough. First task is to clean my stuff from the PCT and figure out what needs to be replaced.
My hydration pack looks pretty nasty
Here’s the “Plan” and my shopping list
Joe picked me up at 6 and we headed to San Pedro. Light traffic, got a good breakfast before boarding the ferry to Catalina. All aboard at 9:30.
After a stop at Avalon, we were dumped off at Two Harbors.
That goes on your Back, Joe
Today’s goal is Parson’s Landing. The hike started with this.
Then it became a steep road
With a bunch of, well, lame vistas.
So the entire day’s hike was road walking…steep road walking. Had a bit of shade from the hills in some places so it wasn’t so bad physically, just dull. Ran into a bunch of these foxes. They are not timid at all. We’d see these critters throughout the hike, including a more personal encounter. Talk about that one in a bit.
We hit the top of the climb on Silver Peak Road…ugh, I mean “Trail”. Probably 1500 feet or so. Joe posed for a little pic.
Only ran into one group during the hike, while we were having lunch. Bunch of kids hiking with a couple of Dad’s. Two younger girls probably 12 ish were blazing the trail. Collecting rocks and soil samples as souvenirs. They were carrying decent sized packs and had twice my energy. Impressive. Picking up the rear were a couple of teenagers.
Joe was chatting with one of the Dad’s and he going on about Millennials. I passed those two when we got back on the trail. They looked sullen. Guess they’ve had enough of nature, heh.
Joe put the hammer down on the decent. I didn’t see him until we reached Parson’s. He was in the pit toilet. Seems his digestive system was not happy with the sandwich I bought for him at the general store.
Sun was setting so I only took a couple hasty pics. Nice digs.
Camping right on the beach with a couple bundles of firewood. The site filled up quickly with folks. Apparently there are only 8 sites there, but each has tons of room. The two little girls showed up shortly after, then rest of the troop and the trailing teenagers. Those kids were running up and down the beach until it was dark.
Excellent night on the beach. Tent was surprisingly dry in the morning. We packed our stuff and shoved it into the locker. First goal was to do a quick hike out to Starlight Beach which is the bookend of the TCT. Well this turned out to be another road walk with a bunch of sharp ups and downs.
Heard that the new west end road is a bit tortuous so we took the “Old” west end rout. A bit of the road was washed out, but had some single track around the spot. We’d already heard the “beach” was an exaggeration. Near the last steep drop in the road Joe suggested that this was good enough, but I insisted on seeing the thing. Gotta be true to the trail gods, ya know.
So, here it is.
Here’s Joe with a elated grin.
Yeah, pretty disappointing. Hiked back to Parsons, picked up our packs, and started the west end road walk back to Two Harbors. Got a little taste of some single track before the 6.5 mile road walk.
We passed a HUGE boy scout camp that is in a valley bordering the ocean. I didn’t take a pic, but this place was enormous. There were fixed tents for hundreds there. Dozens of long boats, probably a hundred canoes and kayaks. All empty for now, but must be busy in the summer. Next day, a hiker and I were laughing about it. We didn’t get that kind of treatment in boy scouts. I built wooden cars and he visited retirements homes. Best we got was a canvas tent in the mud. Ok, so this road walk had nice views of the ocean and the LA shoreline. But I was in a funk. All we had done was walk on dirt roads. It is an affront to my hiking nature. I was in creative bitching mode. Hot road walking, my trail mix is full of peanuts and raisins with only one or two mm’s, my feet hurt, etc. Joe labeled me Grumpy John. Something about a malfunction in my Amygdala.
Arrived at Two Harbors around 2:00. Here’s a picture from the ridge above.
Joe and I had a debate about doing another 3 hours to little harbor. After eating a pretty good lunch and deep into our beers, we finally agreed to stay at Two Harbors as planned. Our campsite was right above the waves, but the wind was coming up. Joe decided to switch to a site further up the hill, which turned out to be a great call. It was crazy windy that night, a guy mentioned that the wind driven swells were 4 to 8. Before we moved, Joe applied his considerable photography skills on a group of campers all dressed in matching PJ’s. I expect those will be a different color in a few days.
After setting up, we had a good dinner at a bar in town. Some local lady came over to our table to tell us all about the channel islands historical museum that was getting setup in Ventura. We picked up a little history of Catalina from her that was somewhat interesting. So give that one a visit if you are interested in rich people buying islands then letting a bunch of cows loose to trample all over them.
Getting back to our site, I saw a fox run out of my tent. He was inside munching on my crappy trail mix. He left all the raisins on my sleep bag and ate all the remaining mm’s and almonds. My Amygdula was not pleased. Tomorrow has to be a better day.
Windy night, but good sleeping.
We hit the trail around 7:30. The first climb of the day was something called Elephant’s Nose. That bit was some good uphill. Fortunately my Amygdula was satisfied with the scenery. The Eastern half of the island is much greener and has better views. Here’s the view from the top
We made Little Harbor around 11. Locals told us it would take 3 hours, we did it in 2.5, so our pace was pretty good. For the first time I felt like I was doing my normal PCT pace. We dropped our packs and I was making some coffee when a couple of kids came over with a plate of chorizo and eggs. That was some righteous trail magic. Chatted with their group for a few minutes about the fishing. They said they were catching a lot of halibut and sea bass from the shoreline. Joe took off and while I messed around with my gear. My jetboil cup split (again) and I put some more duct tape on it. I think that stove is reaching end of life. Before I left, I stopped to chat with another hiker who was packing up. There was a bison grazing in his capsite. Here he is.
So tunes on and another climb 1600 ft climb to the airport-in-the-sky. Mostly single track until the last mile which was a road walk. Turned out that we missed a bit of the trail that looped around the airport.
We had lunch at the cafe there. Bison burger, baby. That was meh, but as advertised, the cookies were amazing. Checked out the gift shop there. Bisons seem to be the theme.
The conservancy has reached some kind of agreement with the Marine Corps to improve the runway up there. They had a bunch of equipment setup. Apparently there are no commercial flights in, only private planes, charters, and cargo. Joe heard that a charter flight in/out is $8k. Then the passengers are treated to 45 minutes of twisting dirt roads back to town. So that sounds pretty lame. We saw several island “safari” vehicles driving in and out. Open top Humvees with 4 to 10 passengers and some guy talking…about what I don’t know. Not much material to work with from what I’ve seen so far.
Next it was a ~2 mile walk to blackjack campground. Joe got his water crossing, which we celebrated with a picture. It was 6 inches deep, but hey, now we are really hiking.
Blackjack turned out to be a nice campground. The micro-climate here is interesting. First tall trees we’ve seen outside of the towns. The temps were dropping quickly and, since there was a fire restriction in place, we turned in early. Got the chance to chat with some hikers we had seen a few days earlier. One gal finished the JMT last year, so we swapped a few stories.
Excellent day. Good trail, saw a bison, got some trail magic, did about 13 miles and ~2.5k of elevation. Joe said I was snoring up a storm that night.
Had a leisurely start in the morning. Breakfast, chit-chat with other hikers. On the trail around 8. Some nice single track to hike in the morning that followed a ridge line. Joe and I were exchanging leads and stayed pretty close together. We lapped several groups of hikers that left earlier that morning, so I think we were keeping a respectable pace. It was a groovy morning.
Hmm. So there is this story of a hiker getting gored by a bison last year. Everyone has heard it, though who knows the circumstances. Anyway, that herd is not moving and nobody in our little knot of hikers knows much about the great bison menace. These things are eating away making some kind of gurgling sound like water going down a big drain. Some gal said she read a pamplet that said to stay 100 feet away or risk dismemberment and death. Eventually a consensus was reached and we headed downhill to the left around the herd. I stopped to take a photo of the brown one watching Joe with a hungry look on his face, but I couldn’t get both in the picture. Here ya go
After that we ran into a lone bull standing on the trail. He wasn’t moving either. Down below we could hear one of the safari trucks stop and the guide going on about the Catalina bison. Joe and I toyed with the idea of running into their view making some lewd gesture to the creature. He seemed to want me to do that while taking a video. There is a saying that if you can’t find the stooge at a poker table, then it is you. So I vetoed that idea. We put 20 feet of downhill between his bison-ass while the guide kept yapping away. I think a couple hikers running by the bison might not fit into pitch.
Next it was a bit of road walking then a nice 1200 foot drop on single track to Avalon. Passed a bunch of day hikers coming up the trail. They were getting a good workout.
Had a little interlude in a city park. Joe got to re-live his childhood for a few moments.
Then it was another mile on the road into town. We were checking out all the golf carts driving around. There are some tricked out ones. Most folks just leave their keys in when they park which kind of makes sense. Where you going to go if you steal one?
Did about 13 or 14 miles today. Beers, food, and ice cream then the 4:45 ferry back to San Pedro. Not sure the total mileage on the hike. I read somewhere that the trail is officially 37 miles, but due to the out and back at Starlight it works out to about 53 miles and 9.6k of elevation change. We probably did something like 50 over the 4 days. Good hike, definitely recommend it.
The PCT is currently 2,659 miles long. I finished 1,770 miles of it.
Of the 20 weeks allocated toward the hike. I lost 1 of those weeks due to shin splints and took another 3 weeks off for a family emergency. All together I did about 16 hiking weeks for this trip, averaging about 110 miles/week.
When I was planning the trip, I figured the most realistic scenario would see me leaving the trail in southern Washington. Turns out it that if I had those 3 weeks back and if Oregon had not caught on fire, I would have finished in Washington at about mile 2,200. If I took fewer zeros or if the snow levels in the High Sierras was lower, or if I had taken a few extra weeks……If, if, if.
What was most important to me on this trip was to have zero gaps in my footpath. I’m proud to say I walked every inch of the PCT from the Mexican border to Fish Lake, Oregon. Many folks, even the hardcore ones, had to skip some sections due to fires or high water. Fortunately I did not have to, so I’ll never have to go back and hike some section to fill in the gaps.
That said, I still have 889 miles to go. It will be a great motivator to stay in shape over the coming years while I section hike those remaining miles. I will get this beast done and when I do, the personal satisfaction will mean even more!
I made quite a few changes after my test hike during Thanksgiving, 2016. During that period I did the first 77 miles of the PCT and discovered that I needed to shed some weight and some small rechargeable batteries to go with my solar charger. Surprisingly, the equipment I started with on April 27th was what I ended with on September 15th. There were a few things I dropped during the last stretch through the High Sierras and some stuff I would have liked to switch, but I did not want to monkey around with a system that was working pretty well.
First the pack and things on the outside.
Pack: Gregory Baltoro 65 – I probably saw less than a dozen PCT’ers carrying this pack. It is considered too heavy and “feature rich”. Personally, I like the pack. It can carry huge loads, never sags, and is very comfortable. I’ll be using this pack for years to come. If I was going to do this hike again, I’d probably switch to a ULA pack and keep my load lighter.
Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Sol. This was an addition in Ashland, OR. Before, I had a super-old roll-up pad used for breaks and an inflatable mattress used for sleeping. After Ashland, I ditched the old roll-up and experimented with just using this pad for sleeping and found it to be good enough. Frankly, I think at that point I was so tired at the end of the day that the extra comfort of an inflatable was not that important. Love this thing.
Poles: Some crappy aluminum REI poles. I don’t know the model. I didn’t know how much I would use them so I bought the cheapest set. Turns out I used poles about 50%+ of the time on the hike. I have a philosophy that using poles too much causes me to ignore having good balance. That said, there were times that I really needed them when I was tired or walking sketchy downhills. I beat the shit out of these. The tips are so wrecked that I’ll have to toss them. Will probably buy some carbon fiber poles next.
Not Pictured: A small compass, thermometer, whistle combo thing that I hung off the back of the pack. Good gadget, mainly to check the temps.
Next is an overview of my pack’s contents
First row, starting from left
Sleeping Bag: Zpacks Solo Sleeping Back and Stuff sack. This thing was amazingly light at about 1lb, 4 oz. It is a “20 degree bag” but that was a stretch. I had to layer up when it got that cold, sometime even sleeping in my puff jacket. My only real complaint is that the shell material is so thin that after 100 days some of the seams began to separate and the down was falling out. But hey, I saved 2 pounds over a comparable bag!
Puff Jacket: REI down jacket without hood. Held up great. Still using it on day hikes.
Inflatable Pillow: Cocoon Ultralight Air-Core pillow. I LOVE this pillow, all 6 ounces of it.
Stove and Pot: Jet boil Mini-mo. This stove rocks. Heats water extremely fast and the insulated pot kept food hot until I was done eating it. Some folks had trouble with their igniters, but I never did. I tossed the plastic legs. The gas canister fits inside. Great system.
Inflatable Pad: Therm-a-Rest Prolite Plus. This is a self inflating pad. Never had any holes nor problems with the self inflation. Just unroll it while setting up the tent and by the time I crawled in, it took a couple puffs to finish inflating. That said, it was bulky and as mentioned above, I ditched it for the last 400 miles to save pack weight and space for my stupid bear can. I think I’d carry this again especially in cold weather and combine it with a foam pad for extra warmth.
Clothing Bag: Sea to Summit waterproof bag. I’ll get into the contents later. I’m fortunate to have traded from a mesh bag to this after a couple months on the trail. Just in time for some rainy days. My cloths never got wet.
Tent: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2. It is a two person tent and arguably overkill for a solo hiker, but I liked the extra space and really liked the side entry. All the lux adds weight, coming in at 3.5 lbs with the ground sheet. It held out the rain and was my haven from mosquitoes. I might go with an ultralight single-wall tent next time to save weight, but this was a solid choice. Only wear and tear is 2 holes in the netting that I caused. Unicorn taped and good as new.
Stuff Bags: Green one was my miscellaneous stuff, the Red one was hygiene. Get into those later.
On the second row
Water Bladder: Platypus 2.0 Liter bag with Sawyer squeeze filter inline. I spent a lot of time working on this system. There is a quick connects between the bite valve and the Sawyer. I could take off the bite valve and use it as a gravity filter to get water for cooking. I made an attachment that would also go on this quick-connect to back-flush with a Smartwater bottle. All this stuff worked well enough, but it turned out to be kind of a headache keeping the filter clear. Next time I might just ditch the bladder and use a Sawyer squeeze with water bottles.
Snow Baskets: Attachments for my poles when going through deep snow.
Rain Jacket: This thing is a 10 year old Sierra Designs jacket. It is heavy, and the f#$%ing seams leaked during heavy rain. I didn’t discover that it sucked so bad until I really needed it. I will burn it after I finish this entry.
Med Kit: I paired this down a lot. I stored some bandaids, dressings, some compression tape (to wrap my shin occasionally), extra duct tape, various zip ties, tweezers, and alcohol wipes.
Food Bag: My fork/spoon combo was always stored there.
Tracker: Delorme tracker that I traced my route with. It was handy to send text messages as well. Originally I didn’t want to carry this, but Alice insisted. Turns out it was very useful. Don’t leave home without it !
Glasses Case: I carried and extra pair of glasses there plus sun glasses for the times when I wore contacts.
Solar Panel and Bats: This was a suntactics-8 panel. I Velcro’d a couple cheap 2800 mah batteries on the back. Usually I toss this panel on the ground during lunch and charge the batteries, then use the batteries to charge my phone, Delorme, kindle, whatever. Sometimes I’d charge those things directly. It was great to charge “off the grid” ….but…it was heavy, inconvenient to setup when trees covered the trail, and frankly I only needed 5 to 7 days of power until the next town. Next time I’ll probably ditch the panel in favor of a couple bigger batteries.
Headlamp: I got this from Soho after my other one died. Cheapo lamp that uses 3 AAA batteries. Did the job.
Electronics Bag: I’ll get into that one in a minute.
The clothing bag
I’ll do this in columns.
Column 1: Two T-shirts and a set of synthetic boxers. One of the T-Shirts was a merino wool shirt that I almost always used for hiking. The other was a synthetic that I used for town days and occasionally for hiking. Merino wool is the bomb.
Column 2: REI hiking shirt. Long sleeves that I could roll-up. At first I used this every day, but after I got a good tan, I would only wear it when in the cold mornings or the mosquitoes were hating on me.
Column 3: Convertible shorts, the zip-on legs, and a set of cheapo running shorts. Over time, I stopped wearing the convertibles and instead wore just the running shorts. They were pretty skimpy and I got more than one comment about it…but super comfortable. I used the zip-on legs a handful of times. I’d probably re-think this combo next time.
Column 4: base layer long-johns and long sleeve top, a pair of sleeping socks, and 3 pairs of hiking socks. The base layer stuff I would put on before sleeping so my bag would not get dirty. I also used them a few times when it got cold during hiking. The socks were all darn tough brand merino wool. Great socks.
Column 5: PCT Bandana. I hung this on the front strap of my pack to dry my face, clean my hands, etc.
Next is my Miscellaneous Bag (green)
Gloves: Some cheap fleece liners that I had laying around. Worked great!
Buff: This guy was indispensable. I’d wear it to sleep on cold nights. I put it on during cold days. Used it as a beanie around the campsite.
Z-packs Down Hood: I thought this would be useful for sleeping. Tried it a couple times and I hated all the crinkly noise it made. It cost $40 and weighed nothing, so I schlepped it around the whole hike.
Bug Head-Net: Never used it.
Extra Spoon: Never needed it, but glad it was there just in case. Heard many stories of folks losing their spoon and resorting to a tent stake or a stick, heh.
Swiss Army Knife: This ultra-delux army knife was also ultra heavy at 1 lb. I will toss this boat anchor next time in favor of a simple pocket knife next time.
Extra Compression Tape: Yeah, I needed it.
Patch for Air Mattress: Never needed it
Duct Tape: Used this when I ran out of magical Unicorn duct tape
Ear Plugs: Never used them. I was usually so exhausted that nobody could snore enough to wake me.
Extra AAA’s: Always had a fresh set for the head lamp.
Special Blower Thingy: Attach this to a trash bag to blow up my air mattress. Used it a couple times, will toss it.
Special Back-Flush Adapter: Mentioned this above. This thing would screw on a Smartwater bottle to backflush my inline sawyer. Worked good, but was a headache to setup.
Extra Sawyer Filter: I always carried a spare since they were so light. Good thing too. I froze my filter overnight on two different occasions and had to switch it out.
Now we move on to the Hygiene bag (red)
This particular bag was always within easy reach for those, you know, important moments when you gotta go. Most of this stuff is self-explanatory. One ziplock had contact lenses, the other had some Tums (calcium pills for cramps), Tylenol, and Allergy meds. I’d never go without some Deet. The little soap bar was handy a couple times.
And finally we get to the electronics bag
I’ve already talked about the charger and batteries. The heaviest thing was an old Kindle fire which I used for blogging and book reading. I paired it with a keyboard from Logitech called “Keys-to-go”. That combo worked very well. I had a sandisk that plugged directly into my iphone for additional music.
The thing that made all this work well was a SanDisk Connect Wireless flash drive. I could wifi to it with my iphone to backup my pictures and could also connect to it with my kindle. That let me move photos to the kindle for blogging and let me carry some movies, etc for down time before bed.
All this stuff let me basically have a laptop and photo editing workstation on the go. I would not change a thing. It all worked very well together.
BTW, there is some kind of strap on the lower right. I carried that around for 5 months and never figured out what it was for, ha ha.
I packed and started hiking around 6am this morning. I need to get this hiking business over early today so I can catch a hitch into Truckee at at decent hour. Octane will catch up for our 9am breakfast somewhere around Squaw Valley.
Passing through both Alpine and Squaw ski resorts today. Interesting seeing these slopes bare of snow.
Stopped at the the crest of Squaw’s Granite Chief hill for breakfast. About a 1k foot climb. Octane skis here during the winter. Figure this would be a cool place for him to poke around.
I heated up and ate everything I had left in my food bag this morning. That leaves me with a handful of soggy fritos and a mustard packet. I cut this one a little too close given the crappy weather.
It is a bittersweet end to a bittersweet week. I’m ticking off a lists of “lasts” for the hike. Last climb above 9k. Last 1k climb. Last bag of dehydrated whatever.
All that is left now is a long walk along a ridgeline to Mount Judah, a walk past Donner pass, then highway 80. Octane got a pic of me before we got moving again.
Octane and I stopped at Donner ski area for a burger and a couple beers. After that we crossed through a drainage tunnel under I-80 and parted ways. He is going to do another 12 days to Chester.
As for me, this connects all the pieces. An unbroken footpath on the PCT from the Mexican border to Southern Oregon. 1,771 PCT miles of hiking.
Last night another through hiker rolled in and camped next to us. In the morning I met him. It is the German-American guy I’d last seen at Tuolumne. He’s going my way so we started the morning together.
Octane likes to take a late breakfast which worked out well for me too. We hiked from 6:30-9:00, then pulled over. Gave me time to dry all my crap out (again).
We stayed together throughout the day exchanging the leads. His pace is similar to mine and we were both pressing each other a bit to scratch out more miles.
Climbing from 7,700 into the Granite Chief Wilderness, the clouds started rolling in again for our afternoon dousing. I’m so sick of this.
We sat down under a tree when the hail first started. It was marble sized for a few minutes, then got smaller, and finally transitioned to rain. Octane is using a cheap umbrella that he bought a few days ago. Looks like a lighting rod to me.
At the first break in the storm we both packed and got rolling. Octane took another break an hour later, but I pressed on through the storm. I’m not getting stuck on another pass like yesterday.
The rain broke up on the way down and I snapped a couple photos.
I descended into the a large campsite near the Five Lakes trail junction. Rain had stopped and the campsite stayed dry for the rest of the day. Octane showed up a bit later.
I’m running out of food, but Octane, either through pity or the selfish desire to lighten his load, gave me one of his dinners. Good thing too, I’m down to half a bag of fritos and some chicken and rice.
Did 28 miles today. Turns out that the threat of starvation does increase motivation.