Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sorry about the posting but there was NO time to load the pictures at Paradise. They are on the last post and the new ones here.

We are now at Ziggy & Bear's place, crossing Highway 10
Leaving Paradise café (see their blog) we did a picture session where once again I was the star. People like to have their pictures taken with me … Jimmy & Pascal are sometimes included but of course when it comes to single pictures with someone, it's with me. We had to retrace a mile to reach the PCT and then we meandered up the mountain to reach areas of big rocks where it was quite difficult to climb over the rocks and pass through with our packs.
People leave water for the hikers
Lots of rubbing, impressive steps, almost mountain climbing … but we made it through and marvelled at the changing landscape. Trees are a new thing for us, I'd never seen such big things. We are also crossing meadows where the grass looks luscious … of course Pascal won't stop for us to taste it. I think he is still with the people at Paradise café in his mind, he would have gladly taken Dia for a ride I think. A delicious generous person with a smile to boot … She even kissed him goodbye and I think he regretted not really kissing her back. I sense he is in a strange melancholy feeling the need to share and missing a female companion while quite happy to be alone and really enjoying his time with us.
Well after 5 miles we finally camped in a nice spot where there was grass and a great dust bowl where Jimmy & I rolled with joy. We managed to roll just in front of his tent and put dust all over the place! He hollered but seemed happy to see us enjoy it so much. I tasted dead tree cuts and must say that oak brambles are really tasty. We are starting to experience quite a few new plants and I especially like the stiff grass bunches that grow along the path … when Pascal will let me taste them. There were quite a few at camp and they are now all shaved down as I insured that none was left to stand. In the morning we went in turns to greet Pascal when he woke up and as he sat in the tent we hugged and licked him to thank him for this camp where we ate most of the night. When we left there was so much poop around you'd think there was a whole herd of donkeys around.
Camping at Taquiz meadows
This morning we did 8 miles all up hill to get to cedar springs which is one mile off the trail but with good water, shade and BIG trees. Lovely spot for lunch even is the grass is a bit rare.
I was watching as a humming bird came to say hello to Pascal after lunch. He hovered for quite a while, almost as if having a conversation. They do that you know. Curious little birds who make a lot of noise with their wings as they stand still in the air.
Jimmy has a sore where the bag rubs agains him, so Pascal has decided to exchange the saddle panniers to load the heavy stuff in my bags on Jimmy and the light stuff in the big bags for me. Hopefully he can tie them so they are not too low for me. I'm not sure I look as pretty with these. As we leave this hollow, we are going to test carrying a full load of water as our next water source is 16 miles away. Then we have another 10 miles to water and get to the top of the mountain where we'll have to go 20 miles from water to water … The Yacinto Mountain is a really tough spot.
----------------------------------------------------------HELP ?? PLEASE -----------------------------------------------
Pascal has decided that he is going to call on the network of people who take horses on trails and ask if someone can help us by transporting us from Cahon Pass to Kennedy meadows or just before. This way we can avoid the hot desert, stop at a major grocery store on the way to re-supply and be at the foothills of the sierras early June. He hopes someone in the Cahon area can meet us one morning and load us so we get there mid day. It'll take the person a day but Pascal will of course pay for the expenses (gas, food …). It would REALLY help us. He thinks we can be there around the 8th of June weekend … but that will have to be worked out with the person and depend on how we progress. He has run out of phone credit and has to buy some, but the best way to communicate is by Email.
Well for tough … it IS tough. Uphill all the time and you go around, down then up much more, then a few seconds of flat and there you go up again. Yesterday we did 9 miles and camped on the edge of the trail where there was a little grass. Good thing because right after the trail went down and no grass for miles. Today we did 14 miles! And over 2500 ft of climbing.
We left at 6:30 and got there at 12:30 so in 6 hours we did them. We met ranger maintenance crew, young, full of energy and doing outdoors work they obviously like. Pascal thanked them for the work enabling us to use the trail. The head of the team, a woman of great class in her late 20s, Pascal had already met at Warner Springs. She mentioned that there was a boulder in the middle of the trail. Well I tell you! She did not mention the tree that lays on the trail and is nearly as high lying down than the height of my legs. How do you want a poor donkey, loaded with a full load (Pascal is validating that the limp episode is over) to wiggle, I really say WIGGLE, because that's what I had to do! Poor Jimmy was almost dragged over. Then when we got to the rock, oh I wish Pascal had taken a picture, imagine a slanted rock, barring the full passage with the near edge as high as my knees and the far edge at the level of my nose. NO, I was NOT going to risk this seeing that if I slipped, one side was a rock wall and the other a VERY VERY steep down hill. All that in a bend of the trail. I think I saw my last moments arrive. I backed out. Pascal however was on the rock (looking like a surfer) and managed to get the lead rope stuck so that I could NOT pull back. I looked at the thing under all it's angles, but I knew Pascal would not give up, I had tried this at the streams. If he did the rope thing I was sure to be hung by the head over the hillside. No, I had to find a way. WELL I DID! I decided that no one understands how far a donkey can leap. I leaped right over the rock taking Pascal by surprise. He almost fell over the side. Of course I did not land easily and had to catch myself on my knees, but that worked. My back feet had to follow of course, scraping on the way, but I got up and pulled my brother over it. I was scared but proud. Hey let's see you with a 60lbs pack take that big a leap! Pascal was VERY happy and hugged both of us. I think he wasn't sure I'd go across. But that was not all, oh no! We kept going up hill, and up hill. Of course we donkeys don't mind going up, and we like to do it fast so it's done with. So Pascal has to half run up the hills to keep up with us. I know we should slow down, but that's our revenge … and it's easier. Well Pascal after 7 miles of this was tiring like the rest of us. But we're half his age and we don't smoke! So he was struggling more and more and at one point I got worried, he finally did pause because he could sense his heart beating much too hard. I think the rapid gain in altitude did not help. 3000 feet up in less than 2 days is a lot. This San Jacinto mountain, if it does not kill us, we will be able to say we are getting in shape. Once on top of the San Bernardino range, I think we'll be fit for the Sierras.
Manzanita bloom
I watch Pascal as I munch on this rough basket weaving quality grass, the only one up here surprisingly, and see him put around his camp seeming quite busy. Between the salt and water supplies for us, his diner, repairing his sandals and hiking boots with a leaking tube of epoxy (Araldite) and inspecting the surroundings … now of course he is typing in his tent. No lost moments as he fills his time with living, appreciating, reflecting on the past, on the nature of his relationships, … at his needs and his desires, questioning the WHY of his being. I think he is quite happy for the time being. His meditations are needed at this time, times will change and so will situations. What I'm really happy is that we seem to make a good 3 being team. Oh did I tell you that today he took the wrong trail, I found myself facing a low hanging tree, Jimmy kept going as he is wont to do, and then the two of us fell down and rolled down the hill … thank goodness the undergrowth was luscious and soft. Jimmy got unattached from me which allowed him to stand on the switchback below, but I was so tangled that Pascal literally pulled me downslope which allowed me to free my legs and get up on the trail. No one, nor any equipment seemed to be hurt, possibly Pascal's backpack got it's outside pouch ripped. Then we went off … in the wrong direction, happily a hiker came up immediately and we turned around … Pascal had really been upset … with reason.

The Taquiz valley here is really quite a marvel, I think we're going to stay the day and only leave in the evening to do 6 miles. Nice to rest after yesterday while still going a bit forward. A deer came to visit on the other side of the stream this morning. Pascal did some repairs, and fixed a hot supper. He does that regularly on his funny tube stove. But it works really well and he can make fires safely almost anywhere. It burns practically everything, here it's pine cones as they have the advantage of not cracking and sending sparks like the wood does. He has ideas for improving the model but is quite satisfied with his invention. Finally today we did 8 miles and camped on the side of a stream tumbling down the mountain. He put us up a little below where there was some grass … not the kind I particularly like but we did manage to eat. He camped right by the stream on a flat rock and heard the sound of tumbling water all night. A couple of hikers passed by but aside from taking MY picture, they passed on despite the invitation by Pascal to stay. Interesting this trail where people are really on their own journey. A few manage to make groups that travel at the same pace, but mostly people are meditating about their lives, the meaning of it all. Some like the woman who backtracked at 11pm, complaining about altitude sickness, turn back and you then wonder if they'll start up again or someday … or never. Human drama at it's best, no need to look at prime time comedy.
The full moon is rising over the mountain which is the only thing bathing in the last rays of sun. We are eating dirt for minerals, brambles for stamina, grasses for energy, bark, wood chips, … adapting to whatever is edible. We like to scratch the earth, soften a spot and then roll in the dust making a cloud. Only once did Pascal put his camp downwind … I don't think he'll do it again.
Today it was downhill, I mean really downhill with a 4000ft drop in elevation over 15 miles. I had to put a stop to it, Pascal was thinking of going on 20 miles to reach a water faucet at the edge of the desert crossing. But we had had it! Imagine, I crossed 5 streams and even with getting my feet wet, I jumped over a rock, a tree, another tree, and we went around a half dozen trees that barred the trail. Even once I could not make it up the hill and Pascal had to unpack me and carry all the stuff up the hill himself. Yes we are ALL tired, this was a long day.
Strange mushroom ? just pops out
There is a lot of trail maintenance to do between 172 and 198, sometimes the ways hikers have taken are more evident than the PCT, or you can't see the PCT so you take the by-pass. And I won't mention how I pushed all day trough the bushes to help maintain the trail (but destroyed the bags, panniers if you prefer!). We are going back to the desert so there is only dry grass and dirt and brambles here. The tiny surface grass is really delicious, but it takes hours to collect enough of it for a meal! Our pooh smells different than it used to and the colour of it is much darker. Interesting how we adapt to our environment. At last the wind seems to have died down after sunset. It has been stressing to be in the wind always for the last 50 miles. No wonder we see so many windmills, full fields of them down in the valley below. You'd think we were at the Grand Canyon considering the drop and the Big Bear mountain range on the other side of this valley with highway 10 crossing it. A narrow valley that links the ocean coast with the desert. Having to squeeze either wind makes for continuous strong winds. Yesterday at 2800 meters (I'm international, so you'd better get used to metrics) some 8000 ft for the ignorants, it was cold, but here at 1500 meters it is still cold. The desert influence I suppose. We go to bed with the light and get up the same, a rhythm that changes your way of being … alone or with others. Pascal just got up to pee before crawling in his bag, you should have seen him, a real wooden stick creature, stiff from the day's descent!

1 comment:

  1. Pascal - I finally looked again and saw the blog was up! I don't know what was wrong, but last time it had said the blog had been shut down. I have been panicked since I hadn't heard from you in three weeks! I emailed you as well. Please CALL when you can!

    The blog is wonderful - your writing is excellent and the pictures are marvelous. Take care and be well, my friend.