Page 1: May 2009

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Entry #1.
  Entry #2.   Entry #3.  Entry #4.

Entry #1. 2nd May 09. Singapore.
Preparation for the off...

I'm flying out to meet up with Tom in Minneapolis in less than a week, so the last minute preparations are well under way. As well as getting all my hiking kit together, as I am handling the 'tech' side of things, I am also doing a little prep-work on the website too.

It'll be a lot easier to create webpages now so they are ready to be added to as we go, rather than try to create them and get everything linking together from the trail... Small town internet isn't always the most reliable and fast, so ease of uploading is important. We won't have much time to mess about, so a little work ahead of time should go a long way to helping us down the trail, quite literally!

Some of my trail gear is still with Tom in MN, so I will be able to fly over fairly light. I have pretty much all the gear I need (and we aren't taking much!)... I just need to get some new socks (Ooh, yeah! Exciting!!). There is a bit of customising still to be done to some gear, like my camera pouch, but other than that, it just has to go in my pack and I'm set.
So for now, I am going to sign off and upload this, then create a few more pages ready for the coming months.
I hope you enjoy following us along, and don't forget to drop us an email... they are always very appreciated!

Cheers for now,

Entry #2: May 3rd 2009. Singapore.
Ready to go!

After a few hours of uploading and general web-work, the pages are ready to go. It took a bit of careful order and patience, but I reckon it'll be worth it... and worth another entry just to make sure it is working as planned.
Hopefully the flight and entry to the USA will be as smooth... as well as being 'flu-free too!

The next entry will have some pix attached too, as I start to pack my kit and tech gear.

Catcha soon,


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Entry #3: May 11th 2009. Minneapolis.
Preparation for parcels.

Well, I managed to arrive to the USA without too much hassle this time. It was a bit touch-n-go for a moment there as I cleared customs in Chicago, but after the usual questions, to which my answers were clearly begrudgingly satisfactory, or at least made me look honest, I was allowed in again.
The flight to Chicago was OK in that I had a window exit row seat, but the annoying flickering TV screens meant I ended up with a decent headache. After wandering around Chicaho O'Hare for 2 hours, I felt better and even managed a doze on the 1 hour flight from Chicago to Minneapolis.
Quite used to it all now, I took the light rail into the city where I was meeting Tom. Crossing the road at the lights, he was pulling up at the red, so with a quick toot of the horn, he got my attention so I threw in my gear and we were off back home to catch up with Steve.

The next day, after a solid nights much-needed sleep, we set about organising the 40+ meals we are going to be having sent out to us at various parcel drops along the way.


Tom had been keeping an eye on prices, and when REI had their sale on, picked up $400 worth of freeze-dried meals for us, so for the times on the trail that we don't have a resupply town (just a small post office) that's when we will receive a resupply parcel. There'll be 8 parcels sent out to us containing mostly food, but sometimes also new socks and shoes. The smallest parcel is 4 to 5 days worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the largest is 7 to 8 days worth. Luckily, provided the boxes are within  certain dimensions (and they all are) the cost is the same, regardless of the weight.

So Saturday, we hit the shops for additional food stuff like dried rice, dried mashed potatoes, museli bars and some sugary stuff like drink mix and chocolate. Then I got the joy of going back to my favourite store in the whole wide world... REI. Given that I am on more a of a budget this time though, I didn't go too mad, and just stuck to things I needed like gaiters (to keep pebbles out of my shoes) and some small waterproof gear bags. As the sale was still on, I did splash out slightly and got 2 freeze-dried desserts for a treat... Raspberry Crumble is wonderful in the mountains around a camp-fire!!

We met some of Toms freinds in REI, Harry and Kim, who we had a great chat with and it was very cool to hear that they too are Roadwarriors-in-their-own-right, in that they are keen cyclists and divers too. Also, it was nice to have some feedback from "fans" as they keenly checked out our website before, and are looking forward to the updates posted on this page.

Needing one more item to keep me from getting bitten in the woods, we rolled on.

After another stop in Gander Mountain where I picked up my stylin' Bug Suit, we went on to Potbellies, a very NYC deli kinda sandwich joint (like Subway but fancier and with more atmosphere) where we chowed down on the 'Wreck': a 9" sub with roast beef, salami, ham and turkey, topped off with veggies, pickles and mayo. Awesome!

After being helpfully redirected by the folks at the Sprint store, we made our way to their competitors at AT&T, where after speaking with a very helpful dude, Fabian, Tom and I signed up for a new phone number, so I am now rolling along with an AT&T iPhone! (I had the iPhone from Singapore, but now it feels 'official' as AT&T were the first to have them from Apple).

For $80/month we have a bunch of free calls and SMS's, but the killer feature and deal-maker was the unlimited data usage. Given that AT&T have pretty damn good coverage in the whole area we will be hiking, we should be able to easily check emails, find out info for the trail ahead, check weather and even use the maps if needed. Of course, we might not always have coverage, but I think we will do OK. (Famous last words..?).

Chuck, Toms dad took us out for a great feed, and then we tried to check ot a movie only to find it wasn't out yet. Bugger!
Sunday was spent finishing off the boxes, weighing gear, stitching up some stuff that needed customising, and throwing ball with the nephews.

So now the parcels are lined up in order, ready for postmaster Steve to send off as and when we need them.
The packs are almost ready, I am just waiting for stuff out of the dryer, and once I have uploaded this update, I will pack the gear away, then Tom and I will head for the airport.
San Diego, here we come!


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Entry #4; 28th May. Big Bear City, California.
265 long hot miles done...


I can hear the sounds of "AT LAST! AN UPDATE!!" from here... OK, OK, I know, it has been a while... but when you see the pictures, for one, I hope they make up for the wait, and for two, you may understand why we haven't updated sooner... there's been nowhere to update from!

Scoring roomy exit-row seats, we flew to San Diego and were met by the most excellent Trail-Angel Bob, with whom we stayed for 2 nights, enjoying the comfort of his house (and his amazing 50" plasma TV!) before Wednesday morning, he drove us an hour through the early hours darkness, winding towards the US/Mexican border, where in the rising sun, he dropped us right at the monument.

The start was a good one, it was early (0530) and cool, so with spirits high, but packs feeling too heavy, we set off North... the Canadian monument a mere 2665 miles away!
All was well until we made a slight error and realised 5 miles too late we'd taken a wrong turn somewhere and so began a 3 hour bush-whacking back-track to find the correct trail. It was probably that detour that really did the damage, as after 25 miles of hot hard rough rocky steep terrain, we eventually arrived at the planned campsite late in the afternoon, ready for some food and water, rather broken. My feet had really taken a beating too, and for the first time ever, I actually had a blister. Damn!

Pain and exhaustion aside, the sage-brush landscape, rattlesnakes and the many, many lizards were interesting to see, although it did take some effort to appreciate it by mid-afternoon.



Tom was a bit better for wear, although also quite tired. We both realised that although we were making a good effort at travelling light, we were still taking too much for what we were attempting to do, and if we wanted to make the remaining 2640 odd miles, we had to ditch some gear at the next available post office. Some was to be just sent home (mini-ipod-speaker, pen, some socks etc) and some items to be 'bounced' ahead... that is posted to ourselves further along the trail. So that's what happened with my little computer... hence this update now, as we have just collected it. Not that we had had internet beforehand anyway!

Well, over the past 15 days we have had total of 2 'zeros': a day of no hiking, and on the 13 days where we have been pounding the trail, have covered 265 miles to here, Big Bear City, CA.

We have gone from the desert at the border at 2915 feet to 10,830 feet at the peak of Mount San Jacinto. Not in one go though, but with many ups and downs in-between. It has been a hot dry 30C in the sage-brush and cactus filled deserts to 2C chilly nights in the pine covered mountain peaks.




Our second day started out well with a much more gradual start around a lake then a well-graded climb for 10 miles until we reached a highway that we had to cross to rejoin the trail. That was when my GPS came in very handy. Unfortunately, the trail was closed, sadly due to a military helicopter crashing in the area and scattering unexploded ordenance around the trail. We were faced with a detour along the highway, but the sign gave no distances. My GPS showed it was in the region of 30 miles!! 20 more than via the trail, and with no water available.
Luckily, we managed to flag down a Forestry Service guy who arranged for some of his crew to give us a ride to our destination for the night. Also, where the post office was located, so we did get the chance to lighten our loads, whilst enjoying a nice cold pepsi!! Given that we'd done an additional 5+ miles on our mistaken route the day before, we figured we were almost even... OK, we 'owe' the trail 5 miles... but I reckon we'll make it up easily enough.

The nights have been quite cool, but bone-dry, so we have not bothered with our tents at all, each night being spent gazing up at the stars. Very quick, easy and wonderful!


I know I take plenty of sunrise and sunset pictures, but when they are as serene and peaceful as we have seen, it is hard to not do so... the first pic below is from our 3rd day on the trail as we left the campsite near Penny Pines on the Sunrise Highway, and the next pic below that is the mist creeping in under the sunset overlooking the desert valley some 6500 feet below us from our self-made little campsite 'private pines' as I called it (where I have my blue sleeping bag laid out above left).

Finding water, or making sure we are carrying enough, has been the biggest single challenge. At some times, we have had to carry up to about 7 litres, which equated to 7 kgs or over 15lbs of extra weight. Some of the hikers are relying on springs or caches, some of which may or may not be there. We have been OK so far though, both of us carrying enough, but not too much.
Often we have been pleasantly surprised to find a cache (where 'trail-angels' leave water, and sometimes food) for weary hikers. Many of the caches are in isolated areas where without them, you could be in trouble of possibly running dry. As I said, we have carried enough each time, but a rationed enough... finding a cache to top up from is great.  
In the higher mountains over the past week, we have had running water, from which we can fill our bottles and drink nice cold water... but not before treating it or sucking it through our filters. Being hydrated is great... having Giardia is not!
So far, the best 'trail magic' we have enjoyed was the La-Z-Boy recliner with a cooler full of fresh fruit right on the trail... AWESOME!



So we are now in Big Bear City, taking a day to resupply and do this update. I have to try and get my iPhone working again, as it has had a bloody software problem, so I can email from the trail and Tom can phone his folks. Also to share war-stories with a few of the fellow hikers we have met along the way so far, and who are in the same motel as us... stories of the DAMN steep long climb... the amazing view at the top, and the near-misses with the rattlesnakes!

So far I have nearly stood on one, and Tom just walked past one and disturbed it enough for it to hiss, rattle loudly and side-wind away (thank goodness) from us... Tom jumped a few feet ahead, and I stopped dead in my tracks, but the rattling hissing serpent was still too fast for either of us to get his picture... but at over a meter (3 feet) long, and as thick as my wrist, he was a good size. I'm sure he'll get bigger as the trail gets longer too...!
Snakes aside, it is the nature we are here for, and we make sure we take time to stop and 'smell the roses' as well as lay back and chill too... the pix prove it!


OK, that's enough for now as I am dog-tired and still have gear to sort. The next update and pix should be in about 3 weeks time... around the 16th of June, when we get to the town of Mojave... provided we survive the desert of the same name!

Cheers y'all.


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