Sherman on a training hike on Sisar Road in Ojai.

(A sprinkle of photos from last years Tahoe Rim Trail hike are in this post.)

On our way from Echo Lake to the motel in Pollack Pines, I stop at a grocery store for food. I still have some hiking food left, but am in what’s called “Hiker’s Hunger”. On a long hike the body’s runs at a calorie deficit. On the trail there’s a knowing to conserve existing food, water, etc. Then the hiker get’s to town. The body calls loudly for calories. I bought, and ATE 2 burritos, an 8-piece daily-made California Roll sushi, a quart of coconut milk ice cream, half a bag of corn chips with guacamole and/or hummus. I was very full. But sated.

This morning I feel ok. Probably still digesting…

I empty the pack onto the bed, get a couple items to hand wash, look at my and Sherman’s food that’s left. I group and photograph it. I have 3 days of food left. Sherman has 2 days left. It would be about right if we’d actually been out the intended 2 more days.

Sherman eating dinner in the tent.

One of the lakes we camped near is big enough it has small waves.

Sherman waiting for me to finish getting our water bottles replenished.

The top of one of the lesser peaks on the Nevada side.

I receive a gear lesson. I complain about some of my gear during and after the last 2 hikes, The Long Trail in Vermont and The Tahoe Rim Trail last year. Main items. Quilt and backpack. This year with my ZPacks Duplex Tent somehow lost a couple years ago, a tent is now on the list. I purchased what seemed to be good choices 5 years ago before my first major hike, The John Muir Trail.

I gather data from my own use, talking with other hikers and reading reviews of options. The initial Six Moons backpack was a good size and light, but the shoulder straps are too thin as are the hip belt. After 2 days my shoulders are extremely sore from the weight bearing on that 2.5 inch wide area. They stay sore the whole hike. I wanted a lighter pack with wider and more padded shoulder and hip straps. I wrote about the quilt earlier.

Last year for the Tahoe Rim Trail, I bought what I hoped would be a replacement for the ZPacks tent from REI. I didn’t like it and returned it after the hike. I was trying to save money. The REI tent got decent reviews. Was $325. The ZPacks is $600. This year I got a new backpack from ZPacks at $325 and a new quilt from Enlightened Equipment for $425. I decided that the backpack and quilt were the top two on the list. The Six Moons single person tent I took was a pain, but it worked. I’ll replace the lost ZPacks Duplex tent before next years hike.

Re: gear, I read and study lightweight and ultra-lightweight options. I look at what other hikers are choosing to take and why. The lighter the piece of equipment and better quality the materials and construction, the higher the cost.

I hope this physical body will allow me to continue my annual treks into the wilderness for years to come. I hope the wilderness will exist and continue to call for years to come. The effects of Climate Disaster are evident in the outback. Dry creeks that used to run perpetually. Distressed trees and other plants. There’s an increasing chance that in 15-20 years my grandkids, age 3 & 6 won’t be able to do what I just did.

Sherman on Relay Peak. The highest peak on the whole trail, 10,285 ft.

Coming down from Relay Peak there is a lot of granite to traverse.

First story I left out…

You recall I popped the button off my pants on Day 3. I carried the button in my pocket through the rest of Day 3 reminding myself to get the sewing repair kit out of the first aid kit in the evening. I forget. Now it’s Day 4 and I’m using an overly tightened belt to hold the top of my pants together. As I unpack that night I look in the first aid kit for the sewing kit. It’s not there… Now what?

Day 5 morning I remember the blister kit in the first aid kit. I learned this trick from a hiker’s story of his long hike. I have a needle inside my dental floss container. It’s purpose is to pop blisters. To do this, take a 6 inch piece of dental floss and put it in the needle. Run the needle through the blister pulling it all the way out the other side. This leaves floss hanging out both sides of the blister. Gently press the blister to remove all the fluid. Cut the floss to leave a quarter inch hanging out each side of the blister. This will keep the blister wicking and it’ll be dried out within 24 hours. It works!

Well, I can use this needle and the floss for my thread… I move the floss container to the Sherman brush and scissors bag as that’s always in the top layer in my pack.

Mid-morning I pull over to a tree to pee. I reach to unzip my pants and the zipper is broken. I now have pants with no zipper or button! I tighten the hiking leash around my waist to assist my belt. It’s working, so I don’t want to stop to dental floss sew on the button. When we stop at Ward’s Creek, are unpacked and setup, I sew on the button. It works great!

When Uber gets us to the van I grab the clean pants I brought. I pick them up and they are missing the button! Well, I have one to donate. It’s on the dirty, broken shorts I have on. That’ll have to wait until I get to the motel… Later, after my shower I move the button between pants and throw away the broken ones… Dental floss or tape may be my new button repair thread. I’m sure it’s more durable that normal thread…

The pre-Sierra terrain is expansive. When at elevation the views go on and on and on…

Second story I left out…

I bragged on how smart Sherman has been on the hike. At Ward Creek I left him off the leash to hang out around the campsite. As we hiked in we need water and I assumed there would be good water access right near the bridge or campground. But, no. The bank to the river was a good 60 degrees and down 6 feet. So I looked at Ward Creek comments in the GutHook Hiking App. No suggestions. So I look at the map and guess where the easiest access may be. We cross the bridge to go back the way we came. I see a faint trail along the river the other direction. We go that way. In 30 feet there’s a way to get down to the river. We both go down. Sherman’s thirsty so I let him drink first. He goes right to the place where the water is moving slowest and up within an inch of a flat rock’s top he’s standing on. Then he moves to a place where the water is 4 inches down and swirling fast in small but intense rapids. I hold his tail as he drinks there afraid he’ll step in the current and be carried downstream.

After we get water, we return across the bridge to our camp. We hang out. I dry things. As the sky just begins to darken I feed Sherman. He eats and heads determined into the woods. I freak out. I call and he doesn’t return. I get up and get more insistent. He slows down. More insistent. He slowly walks back. I see what he’s doing. He’s heading for water. To know where water is and head for the river…Smart. But the bank here is thick with plants, at a 60 degree angle down to a very fast river. Not Smart. From what he did when I was getting water, I fear he’ll walk right into the deep swirling water to get a drink and possibly get pulled into the current headed down a 30 degrees mountain side. I give him water in his bowl. He drinks and lays down.

I see that in myself, too. Smart about things and then not so smart about a specific detail that comes round to bite.

Panorama from site of prior photo.

I did more stretching this hike than previous ones. That’s good. But I brought stretch exercises that mostly require laying down. There’s not a good flat place to lie down to stretch and twist in this landscape. I did some while sitting on rocks. A little rolling on a ball when on my sleeping pad. I need to work up a daily routine that can be done in a hiking environment.

I learned more about my hiking food practices. The oatmeal was again easy and satisfying. The red lentils were good but I just can’t eat them every day. The wild rice took three boilings to fully cook. That’s too much fuel use per meal for a hike. The dehydrated veggies I’ve used in the past were just unpalatable this time. The home made trail mix was ok, but had too many Brazil nuts. Adding dark chocolate bits would make it easier to eat and add the caloric boost needed. The Lara Bars were great 200 calorie snacks. Liked the Lemon and Key Lime Pie better than the Cherry. Last year the Cherry was the favorite.

Sherman’s Merrick Turducky Treats were and are his favorite. During the day his preferred snack was turkey or duck jerky broken into eatable size pieces. I’d say his food intake went up about 50% starting on Day 3.

Sherman says it’s time to end. Time to rest…

This is the shortest long hike I’ve done. My preference is longer. It takes 3 days for the mind and body to settle into the world without humans. It takes about a week for the body to do it’s initial adjustment to the demands of hiking. On the 3-5 week hikes there’s an increasing adjustment as the body gets stronger.

People who hike the 2500 mile+ Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Pacific Crest Trail say it takes 500 miles for one’s “trail legs” to appear. Where you can walk 15-25 miles a day on any terrain and not feel over exerted.

I have a vague plan to hike the Colorado Trail next year. That’s a 500 mile trail from Denver to Durango. I’ve barely started to investigate. I have a friend who is also interested. If that panned out, it would be the first time I haven’t gone solo. Life will tell.

Thank you for your interest in my babbling, and your comments on the blog, by text or by email. Knowing I’m not just talking into the void makes a difference.