Saturday, September 28, 2013

Part 212 - Bibliography


Adamson, H., & McHugh, J. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2014, from
Alexander, C. (1998). The Endurance: Shackleton's legendary Antarctic expedition. New York: Knopf
 Alexandra, J. (2009, August 31). Station fire claims 18 homes and two fighters. Retrieved September 20, 2014, from
Amundsen, R. (2014, September 18). Retrieved September 20, 2014, from     
Amundsen, R., & Chater, A. (1913). The South pole; an account of the Norwegian Antarctic expedition in the             "Fram," 1910-1912,. London: J. Murray;.
Auhenticmaya. (2011, January 28). Retrieved September 20, 2014, from     
Belleville California - Waiting for the Mother Lode. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2014, from
Benson, L. (2013, May 28). 69 Year old Richard Jones attempts hike from Mexico to Canada. Retrieved September         20, 2014, from
Benson, L. (2000, December 1). Deseret News Lee Benson Column
BNSF railway skykomish facility. (2013, January 1). Retrieved September 23, 2014, from
Bogue, V. (1881, January 1). Naming of the pass. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from      (W.P. Bonney, Secretary, Washington State
Bonney, W. (1881, February 1). Naming of the pass. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from
Bromstein, E. (n.d.). Thirty jobs with weird, futuristic sounding titles. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from   
Clelland, M. (2011). Know the Lingo. In Ultralight backpackin' tips: 153 amazing & inexpensive tips for extremely lightweight camping (p. 5). Guilford, CT: FalconGuides.
Clark, D., & Gale, M. (1997). Puppies for sale, and other inspirational tales a "litter" of stories & anecdotes that hug the heart & snuggle the soul. Deerfield Beach, Fla.: Health Communications.
Coyote, P. (1996, June 8). The Diggers Archive. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from
Doctrine and covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ; The Pearl of great price. (p. D&C 38:30).        (1981). Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints The Pearl of great price. (pp. D&C       121:7-8). (1981). Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints.
Drakesbad Guest Ranch. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2014, from     
Drury, G. (2000). The historical guide to North American railroads (2nd ed., pp. 293-294). Waukesha, WI: Kalmbach Books.
Dunsmuir. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2014, from,_California
East Peoria, Illnois. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2014, from,_Illinois#cite_note-11
Erwin, J. (n.d.). Declarations of Independence. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from
Fisher, M., & Fisher, J. (1957). Shackleton. London: Barrie.
Gray, W. (1975). The Pacific Crest Trail (pp. 110-111). Washington: National Geographic Society.
Gray, W. (1975). The Pacific Crest Trail (p. 184). Washington: National Geographic Society.
Geologic history. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2014, from     
Hastings, L., & Carey, C. (1932). The emigrants' guide to Oregon and California.
Hill, R. (1999, September 29). New look at an old landslide. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from
Historic Columbia river highway. (n.d.). Retrieved December 23, 2014, from
Howard, C. (1992, January 1). Handcart companies. Retrieved September 24, 2014, from
James 1:5. (1979). In Holy Bible. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jones, Raymond F., The School, Astounding Stories, Campbell, 1954
Jones, R. (1962). The Cybernetic Brain. New York: Avalon Books.
Jones, R. (1975). The king of Eolim. Don Mills, Ontario: Harlequin Enterprises Lim
Journals of lewis and clark. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2014, from      ited
Kimball, E. (n.d.). Heber C. Kimball. Retrieved September 19, 2014, from     ,_Heber_C.
Kimball, R. (2012, September 7). Campo, California, A brief history. Retrieved September 18, 2014.
Kirk. (n.d.). ADF druidism and me. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from     
Lehmann, H., & Hunter, J. (1993). Nine years among the Indians, 1870-1879 the story of the captivity and life of a Texan among the Indians (p. 21). Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press.
Lewis, C. (1901, May 1). The disappearance of mount mazama. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from
Macintosh, H. (1999, February 22). Stampede pass. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from
Mark 9:23. (1979). In Holy Bible. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Mark Twain quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2014, from  partly_because_it_was_worth_it/166444.html
McDonnell, J. (2011). ADZPCTKO - "The Kick OFF" In Yogi's PCT handbook, Planning Guide (p. 39). Shawnee Mission, KS: Yogi's Books
McDonnell, J. (2014). Yogi's PCT handbook, Trail Tips and Town Guide. Shawnee Mission, KS: Yogi's Books
Michelson, M. (2012, November 14). Tunnel Vision. Outside Magazine
Moses 1:33, Salt Lake City, LDS, 1999
Most Popular Titles With Location Matching "Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20,   2014, from Rocks Natural Area Park - 10700 W. Escondido Canyon Rd., Agua Dulce, California, USA&&heading=18;with locations including;Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park
Murphy, R. (n.d.) North American Rails     . Retrieved September 20, 2014, from
Olsen, A., & Allphin, J. (2013). Follow me to Zion: Stories from the Willie Handcart Pioneers (pp. 92-93). Salt              Lake City: Deseret Book.
Origin of the lemuria legend. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 201, from     
Ormsby, W., & Wright, L. (1942). The Butterfield overland mail,. San Marino, Calif.: The Huntington library.
Oxford Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2014, from     
Petiqura, E., Howard, A., & Marcey, G. (2013, November 26). Prevalence of earth-size planets orbiting sun-size star.           National Academy of Science.
Poe, E. (2005, November 30). The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Raven. Retrieved September 20, 2014, from
Port of cascade locks. (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2014, from
Randy Miller's Predators in Action. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2014, from
Raytheon Company: Customer Success Is Our Mission. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2014, from  
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Riffenburgh, B. (2004). Shackleton's forgotten expedition: The voyage of the Nimrod (p. 107). New York: Bloomsbury Roosevelt, T. (1917, January 1). Citizenship in a republc. Kansas City Star, p. 4.
Sahagun, L. (2012, April 7). Reforestation not taking hold on land burned by Station fire. Retrieved September 20,   2014, from
Sarmento, I. (2013) (I’m Fine) Personal Conversation, used with permission
Schaffer, J. (2004). The Pacific Crest Trail (7th ed., Vol. 2, p. 199). Berkeley, CA: Wilderness Press.
Schaffer, J. (2004). The Pacific Crest Trail (7th ed., Vol. 2, p. 268). Berkeley, CA: Wilderness Press
Schaffer, J., & Selters, A. (2004). The Pacific Crest Trail - Oregon & Washington (7th ed., Vol. 3, p. 135). Berk eley, CA: Wilderness Press.
Schaffer, J., & Selters, A. (2004). The Pacific Crest Trail - Oregon & Washington (7th ed., Vol. 3, p. 302).           Berkeley, CA: Wilderness Press.
Schaffer, J., & Selters, A. (2004). The Pacific Crest Trail - Oregon & Washington (7th ed., Vol. 3, p. 310).           Berkeley, CA: Wilderness Press.
Schifrin, B Schaffer, J.; Willett, T., (2004). The Pacific Crest Trail (7th ed., Vol. 1, p. 158). Berkeley, CA: Wilderness Press.
Schifrin, B Schaffer, J;.; Willett, T., (2004). The Pacific Crest Trail (7th ed., Vol. 1, p. 191). Berkeley, CA: Wilderness Press.
Schifrin, B Schaffer, J;.; Willett, T., (2004). The Pacific Crest Trail (7th ed., Vol. 1, p. 277). Berkeley, CA: Wilderness Press.
Sego Lilly. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2014, from
Shaw, F. (2004). Locating Air Force base sites: History's legacy. Washington D.C.: Air Force History and Museums        Program, United States Air Force.
Shettle, M. (n.d.). Historic California Posts. Retrieved September 22, 2014, from
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Stanton, R. (n.d.). Hoskaninni Papers. Retrieved September 20, 2014, from 4"
Stewart, G. (1960). Ordeal by hunger; the story of the Donner Party. (New ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Stone, S. (n.d.). Hippy time line. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from
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Wagner, B. (n.d.). Nash rambler history. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from     
Washington, T. (2001, February 6). Smoking the great outdoors. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from
Water and Power Associates. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2014, from     
Webb, R. Personal conversation with Roy Webb, Special Collections Library, University of Utah, 2014
Wescott, D. (2014, August 31). Rabbitstick-WinterCount: August 2014. Retrieved September 19, 2014, from
Willow Fire Archaeological Studies, San Bernardino National Forest, California - Federal Emergency - Projects - SRI.             (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2014, from
Wolfe, T. (2008). The right stuff (2nd ed., p. 1). New York: Picador.

Wrightwoodskihistory. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2014, from      ,_California#History

Friday, September 27, 2013

Part 211 - Canadian Border Authorities

The calls were placed - one to the American Border Patrol and one to the Canadian border authorities.  While they waited, they chatted amicably about various and sundry items. The officer said that the Indians had illegally been collecting mushrooms and had close to a $1,000 worth of the fungi.  He removed them from the bed of his truck and threw them into the woods as he talked.  He also didn’t know a lot about the PCT, and Coincidence was more than happy to fill him in on the specifics.  

Before long, the American Border Patrol called back to say they had no issues with the American, but when the Canadian border authorities returned the officer’s call, the response was,
“Arrest the suspect on violation of the Emigration Act.”

The jovial and amicable manner of the Conservation Officer immediately changed and he said, in a most authoritative tone of voice,
“Sir, I need you to turn around and place your hands behind your back.  You’re under arrest.” 

“Whoa,” said Coincidence, “I didn’t see that one coming.”

“Neither did I,” said the officer.

It was a long ride to the town of Hope in the back of the police cruiser, made even more difficult having his hands cuffed behind his back, but Coincidence prevailed.

In Hope, he was taken to a detention facility of the Royal Mounted Police and placed in a small cell, but not before being searched.  Later that evening, he was transported to Vancouver, and was somewhat upset when he overheard his guards mention something about a "hearing." Coincidence recounted that before being taken to the transport, not only was he again handcuffed, but he was also shackled with leg chains, which made it difficult to walk in his bare feet.

The ride to Vancouver was long, over an hour, and upon arriving, he was again placed in a small cell, where he remained for the night.  As he drifted off to sleep, he found it ironic that he started the morning walking through the forests, and ended the day in a jail cell.

The morning interview Coincidence had with a Canadian border official centered on the small detail of why he had deviated from his planned border crossing at Manning Park, and also, the nitpicky detail that his permit had expired by two days.  Coincidence explained to him the difficulty of crossing the snow-covered mountains.

“So," said the official," you just want to go home?”

“Yes,” replied Coincidence.

“Well, we really have no need to keep you further; I’ll see that you’re released as quickly as possible.”

Later that afternoon, a cab ride was provided for Coincidence to the U.S.-Canadian border where he quickly passed through.  Once on the American side, he placed his hand on a large sign that said, “Welcome to America,” then turned to face Canada, flipped it the bird, and walked away.

In retrospect:  Thru-hikers, particularly those crossing into Canada at Manning Park, carry two official documents with them; first, the Long Distance Hiking Permit issued by the Pacific Crest Trail Association; and two, the Canadian Identification Permit for entry into Canada.

Either permit can be requested for examination by the appropriate authorities.  Chances are, a hiker will never be asked to show their permits, but there are consequences for not having them.  Personally, I had a Forest Service ranger ask for my Long Distance Hiking Permit while hiking to Fuller Ridge in the San Jacinto Mountains, and as Coincidence found out, the Canadian permit is valid only for crossing into Canada at the border crossing specified on the permit – which is Manning Park.
I’m Fine’s Ending

Like Ernest Shackleton, I’m Fine wasn’t about to give up.  Even after having rescued himself and making his way to civilization at Stehekin, one would think that being as close to death as he was, he would have taken the heavenly opportunity to flee the snow and icy-covered mountains and frozen wilderness and beat a hasty retreat to the comforts of his parents' home in Pennsylvania.

But I’m Fine, like Shackleton and most PCT hikers, carried within himself the ever-smoldering embers of the “Wanderfire,” that never say “never.”  I marvel at and applaud the indomitable spirit of I’m Fine who, rather than take the easy way out by saying,

“The path ahead is too hard, I’ll pass,” recouped and plunged back into the mountains, with as fierce a determination as I’ve ever encountered, to complete the journey he started.

No one would have faulted him for leaving the mountains; he had given his best and the mountains had nearly snuffed out his life.  But I’m Fine is of a particular breed of individuals, not uncommon to those found hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, where determination, courage, commitment, and vision are required qualifications for even considering a long-distance hike.  I’m Fine persevered, prevailed, and conquered even as did Roald Amundsen and Ernest Shackleton.

Although I’m Fine, and Coincidence endured a bit more on the trail than the average PCT hiker, they nevertheless typify the strength of character most hikers bring to the starting point at Campo.  These are the type of people who would have sailed with Amundsen and Shackleton, and these are the type of people future PCT hikers might want to compare themselves with along with the character strengths of the twentieth-century polar explorers; doing so will give the aspiring PCT hiker a good barometric reading as to the feasibility and potential success of their anticipated 2,665-mile adventure.

Richard Jones (Trail name: Rabbit Stick) Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hiker, Class of 2013

P.S.  I still have a one-owner, low-mileage, only driven on Sunday trans-oceanic rowboat for sale, as well as a bear vault.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Part 210 - Coincidence's Story

Coincidence’s Story

Coincidence, a thirty-nine-year-old health-care professional from California, arrived at Rainy Pass on October 2, 2013, a few days after the first major snowstorm of the season had shut down the trail for most PCT hikers.  He and his small group of five camped at the pass, and were joined the next morning by a larger group of fellow hikers who had tried to continue on from Rainy Pass the day before but had been turned back by the deep snow.  They had retreated to the trail town of Winthrop for resupplies and the acquisition of additional winter clothing and snowshoes and were back for a second attempt.

The newly arrived group was actually two smaller groups, one that was going to make another attempt up the PCT from Rainy Pass, while the second group had elected to proceed to the border via the East Bank Trail along Ross Lake.

After the initial attempt the day before by everyone to ascend the mountain passes north of Rainy Pass and having to retreat, the smaller of the two groups that arrived this morning felt that their best effort would be to roadwalk twenty miles west to the East Bank Trailhead, then proceed thirty-two miles north, along the east side of Ross Lake, until reaching the border.

When the two groups split to go their separate ways, Coincidence was left standing alone in the parking lot; he said he was undecided as to which group he should go with.  He wanted very much to continue on up the trail to Hart’s Pass and beyond, but his gut feeling told him not to go.  He was wise and listened to the whisperings of the spirit, and fell in behind the group beginning the twenty-mile road walk to Ross Lake, accompanied only by female hiker Horney Toad, who had hiked with him to Rainy Pass the day before.

Arriving at the East Bank Trailhead late in the afternoon, he saw other hikers engaged in conversation with National Park Rangers.  It was then that he learned that the trailhead and the trail itself fell under National Park Service jurisdiction and was therefore closed to the public because of the government shutdown, which began on October 1 and would last until October 16, 2013.

Coincidence was in shock at what he was hearing; how could his own government deny him, as well as the other hikers, access to what they felt was public property, indeed their property, as citizens of the United States.  No amount of arguing with the rangers produced any positive results; they were adamant about their orders from their superiors that no one was to have access to any property administered by the federal government, and were threatening to ticket, arrest, and jail anyone who dared to do otherwise.  This was as true for the Ross Lake National Recreation Area as for Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, and Yosemite National Parks.

Across the nation, the American public was outraged by the closure of these national treasures, and as an example of their anger and frustration, veterans, in an act of civil disobedience, removed the metal barriers surrounding the open-air World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., a monument that normally had no park service personnel present.

It was widely reported in the media that the National Park Service had been ordered to make the government shutdown as painful as possible for the American public, orders originating from top levels of government, to highlight the Obama administration’s disagreement with congress about funding for Obamacare and being denied congressional permission to raise the national debt.

Coincidence and the others knew nothing about what was happening on a national scale; they only knew that their little section of the world had suddenly crumbled, and they were being asked to vacate the premises – the parking lot of the East Bank Trailhead that was administered by National Park Service, but belonged to all Americans.

One by one, the dejected hikers returned to their vehicles, if they had one, or accepted rides from others, if they did not.  Only Coincidence refused a ride, and finally, he was the only one left standing in the parking lot, besides the rangers, who had retreated to their vehicles.

Confused, bewildered, in shock and with no plan in mind, Coincidence began walking towards the trail; he passed the NPS rangers sitting in their vehicles, and kept on moving.  They put their SUV in gear and pulled up alongside of him.

“Where you going, buddy?” they asked.

Coincidence politely replied,

“I’ve just hiked 2,630 miles, all the way from Mexico, and I’m thirty miles from completing my once-in-a-lifetime journey, and you’re telling me I can’t continue; to be honest, I’m in total shock, and I just want to keep walking."

“We understand," said the rangers, "and we’re sympathetic with your predicament, but we have orders not to let anyone proceed.  Let us give you a ride to the nearest town.”

Coincidence accepted their offer, climbed into the back seat of the SUV, and was driven to the small town of Marblemount, six miles west of Ross Lake.  He settled in for the night at the Buffalo Run Inn, but he did not sleep.  He was frustrated and angry, and from these agitated emotions, he developed a plan.  He wasn’t quitting; he hadn’t come this far in his long journey from Mexico, now on the threshold of victory, only to be denied the accomplishment of his goal by some fat dude in Washington, who had no concept of what it meant to labor physically for a goal; no, he would not be denied his just rewards.  He would go forward, even if it meant going to jail.

Early the next morning, October 4, 2013, Coincidence hitched a ride back to the trailhead with a hunter.  Fearing that the rangers would be there when he arrived, and they were, he asked the hunter to let him out a little past the trailhead parking lot.  Once he was out of the pickup truck, Coincidence scrambled down the embankment where he hid for the remainder of the day, until the rangers left. 

Late in the afternoon, with heart pounding, he climbed to the top of the embankment, and seeing no NPS Rangers or vehicles in the parking lot, bolted across Highway 20, into the parking lot, and up the trail.  He kept moving at a quick pace, fearful that tracking dogs and mounted police were right on his trail.  It wasn’t until seven miles later that he finally stopped for the evening and made camp.

Coincidence was elated and euphoric at his accomplishment.  He had outwitted his adversaries, and was now seven miles closer to his goal.  He slept well that night.

On the trail early the next morning, Coincidence kept moving at a brisk pace; the trail, which followed along the edge of the lake, eventually turned to dirt roads as it neared the Canadian border, and then, there it was – a large sign that read, “International Border,” and adjacent to it was Monument 72, a silver obelisk marking the US-Canadian border.  He had made it; he had walked all the way from Mexico to Canada, even if it wasn’t the official ending point of the journey, and his only regret was that his friends could not be there with him to enjoy this delicious moment of celebration.

Farther up the road on the Canadian side was a campground that was shuttered for the season.  There were several cabins scattered around a central common area, and upon trying the door of one cabin, he found it was open, and like Goldilocks from the story of The Three Bears, he went in and made himself right at home, which included building a roaring fire in the custom stone fireplace.

Kudos to Coincidence for pursuing his dream and not letting any obstacle deter him from achieving the goal he set out to accomplish.  While all others in the face of adversity turned back, Coincidence alone, in the true spirit of Amundsen and Shackleton, plowed ahead, not letting the hardship of an early winter snowstorm or the might of the United States government stop him.

But, the "fat lady hadn’t sung yet," and as Earl Nightingale would say, “And now for the rest of the story.”

On the third day of his caper, having escaped the long tentacles of the CIA, the NSA, the IRS, the CSI, and the NPS, Coincidence, from the cabin door, stepped out onto the Canadian road and again began walking north.  He was still a long way from civilization, the town of Hope being the nearest center of transportation, which meant either a long road walk or hopefully a ride with a local camper or fisherman.

Not far from the border, he spotted the vehicle of a Canadian Conservation Officer, whose occupant was interrogating a group of First Nation (local Indians) individuals who were clustered on the ground in front of the officer.  Coincidence, not sure of what to make of the situation, walked on by, and waved to the group as he passed.

“Do I need to be concerned,” he thought.  “No, I have my Canadian PCT entry papers, the ones I’ve been carrying and protecting from damage all the way from Mexico; I’m good to go.”

Moments later, the car carrying the Indians sped down the road, dust and gravel flying everywhere, and were quickly out of sight.  And then, the vehicle belonging to the Canadian Conservation Officer slowly pulled alongside of him, and the officer politely asked him about his activities – where’d he come from, where he was going, etc.

Coincidence explained to him about being a PCT thru-hiker, and having been thwarted in his attempt to cross into Canada because of the snowstorm, and then produced his Canadian entry permit.  The officer examined the permit and said he needed to make a couple of phone calls.

Part 209 - Epilogue


During my last four days on the trail, starting at Cutthroat Pass just a few miles north of Rainy Pass, a slow-moving winter began moving into the area; first it was just drizzling rain, but as the snow levels lowered, the drizzle turned to sleet and then to snow.  Woody Pass was the high point on the trail through the northern part of the Cascades, and OTC and I walked across it with a little more than a foot of snow on the ground– nothing to get too excited about, and on Wednesday, September 25, I crossed the border into Canada.  Two days - forty-eight hours later, a massive winter storm, coming off the Pacific Ocean, slammed into the North Cascade Mountains, laying down, in most areas, a minimum of three feet of snow in the high mountain passes and effectively shutting down the trail, from Snoqualmie in the south, through Stevens Pass, Stehekin, Rainy Pass, Hart’s Pass, and beyond – in the north.

Individual hikers became stranded; while small groups began to congregate at Andrea Dinsmore’s Hiker Haven in Baring, twenty miles down the road from the ski resort at Stevens Pass, and trail towns like Winthrop, thirty-five miles east of Rainy Pass, to assess the situation and formulate plans for moving forward, if it were at all possible.  Others, who were close to Stehekin, decided that it was time to close up shop for the season, and took the boat across the lake to the town of Chelan, and called it quits for the year.

On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, the first day of the U.S. government shutdown, a small group of seven hikers - Toots Magoots, Tears for Beers, Atlas, Fun Size, Lighthouse, Delightful, and Cuddles, who had been resting in Winthrop and formulating plans for pushing on into the North Cascade Mountains, started from Rainy Pass.  They were young and determined, and not about to let a snowstorm deprive them from achieving their cherished goal after having traveled so far and suffered and sacrificed so much.

Without much difficulty, they hiked to Cutthroat Pass and a little beyond, but the lead hikers who were breaking trail – Fun Size and Lighthouse, by this time were postholing through three feet of snow, with those coming behind following in their footsteps; but the pace was slow – only one mile an hour.  At one point, the trail circled around a large rock lying beside the trail; here, a snowdrift over four feet high had formed at the edge of a steep slope and it wasn’t deemed prudent to try and break through it.  The group turned around and headed back to the parking lot at Rainy Pass, thoroughly disappointed at being turned back
The group studied their maps, looking for an alternative route, one at a lower elevation that would allow them to proceed towards the goal of crossing into Canada, even if it wasn’t at the official PCT crossing.  After considering several alternatives, the group decided to try a trail – located twenty miles west of Rainy Pass, called the East Bank Trail.  Starting at Highway 20, the trail entered the North Cascade National Park and followed along the east bank of twenty-three-mile-long Ross Lake, a large man-made reservoir formed by damming the Skagit River for hydroelectric power and operated by Seattle City Light. 

The following morning, October 2, 2013, the group of seven, headed by trail angel Aloha driving a green van dubbed the Pickle Jar (Aloha is Toots Magoots husband who had been following her and providing support along the trail), pulled into the trailhead parking lot at the East Gate Trail.  

To their amazement, they saw two National Park Service vehicles parked in front of the entrance to the trail, effectively blocking it, along with yellow plastic tape with the words, “Caution, do not enter,” printed on it strung around the perimeter of the trailhead.  Other hikers, who had the same idea as the seven from the Pickle Jar about hiking the East Bank Trail to Canada, were engaged in conversation with the two NPS rangers standing beside their vehicles, emblazoned with the words “U.S. Park Ranger.”

Bottom line:  Because of the U.S. government shutdown, access to all national parks and recreational areas, in essence any entity under federal jurisdiction, was now closed to the public; this included river trips through the Grand Canyon, as well as entrance to the Ross Lake National Recreation Area and the North Cascade National Park, which meant that Pacific Crest Trail hikers, or recreationalists of any type, were temporarily being barred from entering the national parks.

The two NPS rangers were polite and very apologetic about the ban they were being compelled to enforce.  They knew the decision was out of their hands, and as employees of the federal government, they were obligated to perform their duty, regardless of their personal feelings about the matter.

The hikers huddled among themselves, a dejected lot of humanity if ever there was one. Many shed tears and hugged one another as the phrase was muttered over and over again,
“It’s over with, it’s over with.”

And, indeed, it was, at least for this little group.  There was no further recourse to pursuing the trek north; the winter snows had shut down the Pacific Crest Trail, and the U.S. government had shut down the one possible alternative trail.

Back in Skykomish, at Dinsmore’s Hiker Haven, the last of the Class of 2013 PCT hikers were assembling; their situation was a little bleaker than those who were farther up the trail, but in the end, just as disparaging.  Several groups from Hiker Haven started north from Stevens Pass; one made it sixteen miles, the other eighteen miles; but ultimately, both groups had to retreat.  Reality was, winter had arrived in the North Cascades, and no amount of wishing or determination was going to alter the fact.

Several unfortunate hikers still on the trail woke up to find their tents buried under several feet of snow, and realized they could neither go forward or backward and had the foresight and clarity of thought to sit tight until local search and rescue teams could extract them from their snowy captivity.  Such was the case for the Japanese hiker, Taka, who was located in the Milk Creek drainage south of Stehekin, and Make-Do and Kokonut, south of Trout Lake.

Likewise, an extensive ground and air search was conducted by local SAR teams and friends of Rocket Llama, just north of Trout Lake.  After several days of sitting tight, rationing her food and other supplies, being passed over by search helicopters, she determined from a study of her maps, that by heading east down the Killen Creek drainage at mile 2,253, she could intersect a Forest Service road.  This she did and was successful in connecting with search and rescue personnel who had been scouring the terrain along the PCT for over a week.

Now, in hindsight, was it worth my effort to rise early and be on the trail by four thirty every morning?  With only forty-eight hours to spare before the big winter storm hit, and reading the accounts of many who had to abandon the trail for this year, and the accounts of a handful who had to be extracted from the mountains by search and rescue teams, I would say that’s a definite yes. 
From day one, back in Campo, I always had this underlying feeling that I needed to keep moving up the trail at a brisk pace, and not dally.  Some would call it a "gut feeling," and I can go with that, but my experience with prayer and listening to the "whisperings of the spirit," are more in keeping with my line of thinking.

In closing this long account of my experiences along the PCT, I finish with the story of a thru hiker who I believe is qualified to stand as a representative of all the hikers from the class of 2013 for endurance, tenacity, bravery, commitment, and determination, the same enduring qualities that Shackleton and Amundsen possessed in setting a goal, preparing for and pursuing it, and then enduring to the end until the goal was accomplished.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Part 208 - PCT - Thanks For the Memories

Day 5 – September 25, 2013

I slept in this morning, and why not; there was not a big hurry to be on the trail; it was only six miles to the border.  I found OTC sitting in the doorway of his tent, boiling water for coffee and his morning gruel of thick, pasty oatmeal, laced with dehydrated fruit.  He offered me hot water and a packet of hot cocoa mix, which I gladly accepted.  The morning was crisp, and our breath was frosty, which made the hot beverage all that more satisfying.

We were both very cognizant that this was the last day of our epic journey, and for a moment we reflected on the magnitude of what we had accomplished.  We started in early spring from the Mexican border when the days were long, the mornings warm, and flowers were just beginning to bloom.  And over the months, as we steadily marched north, almost imperceptibly, the seasons had changed, until now, the full force of winter in the high mountains was just hours away.
I told OTC that I would be at the border about noon, and asked if he might be there around the same time, so that we could take pictures of each other.  He said that probably wouldn’t happen as he anticipated meeting his wife, Cora, at the border at four this afternoon; he said he was going to stay in his tent for a while, catching up on his journal writing, and probably taking a nap.  As a last interaction between us, he gave me a note to give to Cora when I saw her on the trail.

I pack up and bid him farewell, and told him that if he and Cora made it into Manning Park by ten tomorrow morning, breakfast will be on me.  My last memory of OTC was seeing him still sitting in the doorway of his tent drying his gloves with the heat of his Jetboil stove.

I’m not a wordsmith, and thus it’s difficult for me to put into words what I’ve experienced these last few days in the mountains of the North Cascades just prior to crossing into Canada.  I’ve seen pictures of these mountains in the springtime, when the grass is green, flowers are in full bloom, and the trail is brown as opposed to being white; suffice it to say, the area is unbelievably gorgeous in the springtime; but at the moment, I’m here at the other extreme of the season - the onslaught of winter, just moments away from the tipping point when the door to this vast wilderness will be slammed shut and hidden away for the duration of many months.

I’m seeing the mountains on the verge of hibernation, on the eve of slipping away into a winter wonderland that no one will be allowed to penetrate, until the guardians of the passes – the snow angels, once again grant their permission to enter.  The mountains are at their moment of transition, from the carefree days of sunshine and lollipops, to the solemn and austere days of cleansing and renewal, and OTC and I are brusquely being ushered out the door, as though the mountains are saying, “Closed for the season.”

It would have been difficult, but not impossible, for me to have traversed these mountains alone; after all, Cookie passed through two days before, and Swiss Army will come through two days later.  But I’m here, alone, at this specific moment in time when the snows are just beginning to cover the trail, and there was no one really in front of me breaking trail.  It’s not altogether impossible to lose the tread, especially in moments of whiteouts or when the clouds settle on the ground and obscure the landforms.

I do not believe that it was happenstance that OTC appeared on the trail at the precise moment he did.  I firmly believe that those who are beyond the veil and who have been diligent in watching over me during this trek knew I would need a companion, an escort with prior knowledge of the trail, to see me safely through the quickly deteriorating harshness of the fast- approaching winter.  Had it been anyone other than OTC, it might well have been a case of the blind leading the blind.  But, as it turned out, my jolly companion for the last three days was a carefree, bushy beard, wannabe Viking – OTC. 

Thanks, my friend; you performed a service that I’m sure you’re not even aware of.  And like the "thanks" we hikers express to all trail angels, it hardly suffices for the deep, profound gratitude we feel, but, at the moment, it’s the best we can offer.

Leaving OTC in his tent, I searched out the spur trail that came down to the lake, and would lead me back to the PCT.  Wet shoes punching through crusty snow uncovers twigs, branches, and stiff grass that only days before were enjoying the warming rays of sunlight, but are now resigned to receiving a crushing mantle of snow ten to twelve feet deep that will block the life-sustaining rays of the sun until next summer.

In moments, I’m back on the PCT and flying down the trail; I’m walking as fast as I can go, but still being vigilant and cautious, as the trail changes from deep snow, to slush, to ice, and then to mud.  I don’t want to end my long, hard-fought journey to a broken ankle two miles from the border, as did Gourmet in 2012.

Down the stretch I fly, and when the trees open up so that the mountains are open to my view, somewhere in the distance I know I’m seeing Canadian trees; I tell myself they have to look different than U.S. trees, but in reality, everything is green.  Three switchbacks, a short straightaway down a small hill, and then I’m there, standing in the small clearing beside the legendary and almost mythical Monument 78; time is noon, Wednesday, September 25, 2013.  Goal achieved; check that one off the bucket list and on to the next one – maybe trek the Great Wall of China, maybe another bike ride across America, or maybe a bike trip to the South Pole using a fat tire bike, or even ride a rocket sled to the moon as my father envisioned in his science-fiction short story titled: Rider in the Sky.

 Peter Bird, my friend the English ocean-rower, in an interview was once asked why he rowed the ocean. I don’t remember his precise answer, but it was along the lines of trying to explain to the questioner, what it means to live life at a level above the dull routine of everyday living.

I often get asked the same question with regards to my bike ride across America, my solo ocean crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, and my desire to hike 2665 miles across the mountains. It’s not an easy question to answer, because there is no one, clear-cut answer. Most often, I just reply, “Just because I can.” But that’s really quite superficial and doesn’t really answer the question.

 Having had a great deal of time on the trail, to ponder this question, these are some more in-depth reasons why I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, why I rowed solo across the Atlantic Ocean, why I biked across America, and why I will continue with these activities as long as I’m physically able to so do.

Like Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken, I choose the road less traveled because I dare to dream. I do not want to arrive at the end of my life having regrets about unfulfilled dreams.

I choose the road less traveled as a means of pushing myself to the limits, to gain a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses.

I choose the road less traveled because, at certain levels, I am afraid of things. Hiking, and navigating through the mountains, the open range lands, the forests, the ocean, builds my self-confidence.  At home, at work, at play, it enables me to say, “I can do this hard thing.”

I choose the road less traveled because it means I’m still alive, and my life has purpose. It means my life hasn’t become one of simply knowing the times of all the daytime TV shows.

 I choose the road less traveled to experience that which is unconventional, life events that few people will ever know or understand.

I choose the road less traveled to experience the splendor of this wonderful country I live in, to be fully immersed in all that God has created for my benefit.

I choose the road less traveled to gain an appreciation of the people who are different from me, to broaden my horizons; to gain a human perspective that I’m not acquainted with.

I choose the trail less traveled because I’m different; my family history genealogy shows that I share common ancestors with Lewis and Clark, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Amelia Earhart, Oliver Cromwell, Horatio (Lord) Nelson, Edgar Allen Poe, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Ulysses S. Grant, Butch Cassidy, Buffalo Bill Cody, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. (Relative)

I choose the road less traveled to add to my storehouse of experiences; after all is said and done, I am the sum total of my experiences.

I choose the road less traveled to interact with people, and to hear their stories.

I choose the road less traveled to see what I’m made of, what I’m capable of enduring. In a world of cushiness and softness, there’s not much opportunity to experience the harshness of life that generations past have endured. On the trail, or on the ocean, I can experience pain, and suffering, thirst and hunger, cold, heat, weariness and mind numbing fatigue, and still find the will to keep going.

I choose the road less traveled as a surrogate for those who physically may not be able to do so, or who lack the time; in order to share my experiences with them.

I choose the road less traveled to gain knowledge about me; like putting up a mirror and looking at my reflection, I seek feedback to make course corrections, in order to stay on the strait and narrow path.

I choose the road less traveled to learn how to prioritize the demands on my time; to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I choose the road less traveled knowing that I will encounter circumstances that will require my total reliance, and total faith in God for help and assistance.

I choose the road less traveled just for the fun of it.

The U.S.-Canadian border is just a straight line of trees that have been cut down, approximately fifty feet wide, that extends from ocean to ocean.  There are no Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers in red coats and wide-brim hats to check my papers that I’ve been protecting for 2,665 miles, fearful that if I didn’t have them, I might be turned away from crossing into Canada; in fact, there’s no one here at all.  I do a little "happy dance," sign the trail register hidden inside the bronze obelisk, take a selfie, and then with no other celebration or antics to perform, put my pack back on and begin the eight-mile trek to Manning Park where I will meet my wife ,Jodie, and friends, Ken and Lois Cutler, at the Manning Park Lodge.

The only euphoria I feel at the completion of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, is the knowledge that I can soon get off my feet, which I can no longer feel, and without the weight of my pack on my back, once again be able to stand up straight.

Many miles from the monument, I meet beautiful Cora, OTC’s wife, valiantly trooping up the trail with a fully loaded backpack, intent on making it to the border, but now, obviously way late.  We stop in the middle of the trail, and I tell her that I have a note to give to her from OTC.  After reading it, she says she’s bringing cookies to OTC, and would I like some?

Does the sun come up in the morning?

Is the Pope Catholic?

She drops her pack and extracts a medium-size plastic Tupperware container filled with little cookies.  Cora tells me to take all I want.  If she only knew what dangerous words she’s just spoken.  My fingers tremble as I limit myself to three; the urge is to flee with the whole container.

In the late afternoon, the eight-mile section of the Canadian trail ends at a paved road, adjacent to a flowing stream that leads into Manning Park.  As I set foot on the road, a vehicle approaches with three eager faces peering out of the windows.  It is my wife and friends.  

Our jubilation at reconnecting with one another is electrifying; there is so much joy and happiness.  It would have been a real downer and total letdown not to have had a cheering section waiting at the finish line.

Jodie and the Cutlers flew into Seattle, rented an SUV and drove to Manning Park, arriving at the lodge just a few minutes before I exited the forest onto the paved road.  Brownie was in the lodge, and he gave them information on how to find the trail where I would exit.  What great timing we all had.

That night in the lodge, after a shower, shave, dinner, and numerous desserts, I sat in front of the communal fireplace visiting with Brownie, Laptop, Biers and Ranch, the only trail hikers in the lodge at the time.  We reminisced about our experiences for a long time, as the four of them passed the bottle around.  Finally, it was time to say “Good-bye,” which we did with heavy hearts; we truly are comrades in arms, and we share a link that will bind us together forever, a link that is 2,665 miles long, affectionately known simply as the PCT.

Now, as the saga of this long adventure comes to a close, as well as bringing closure to so many of the other adventures I’ve been privileged to participate in, I pass along a couple of quotes from three, well-known historical figures that are pertinent to the stories and essays contained in this memoir.

First – from Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right."

And from Walt Disney who said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.  Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.”

And finally, from the signature song that the famous comedian Bob Hope would sing at the close of his weekly television comedy show, and which seems most appropriate to end this adventurous tale: 

 “Thanks for the Memories.”

As I descend in elevation to the Canadian border, I encountered Yabba Dabba and his wife Hot Wings and their well-behaved dogs. They have been to the border, signed the register and are now heading back to Hart's Pass where they'll exit the trail. It was pleasing to get to know these good people.

And there it is, the US/Canadian border. It's just a wide swath of trees cut in a straight line from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic.

This is the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. It looks much like its cousin the southern terminus.

Beside the terminus is Monument 78, the marker delineating the border. There are three parts to the monument and they can be pulled apart. In the bottom is the hallowed register. No one leaves without signing this important document. It attests to all that the long-distant hiker who started at the Mexican/US border five plus months ago, has accomplished the near impossible.

Just like at the southern terminus, there was no one around, so I had to take a selfie as a testament that I had arrived at the end of the trail. 

The beginning and the end.