Wheeling around

Matters o' the Bike: While the front brake rotor no longer rubs on the fork stanchion it has remained too close for comfort and I've noticed that when I stand in the saddle under full load that I've been getting some metal-on-metal contact between the rotor and caliper housing.   On my last ride I decided it's time to stop chasing my tail on this and get serious.   After some consultation with Alex Nutt of MTB Tandems and Bob of "Bob & Ardyce's Bicycle Shop" here locally I decided to try machining off about 1/16" of the rotor mounting face on the front hub and to have the axle's bearing retainer turned down to match.    That required the wheel be completely torn down and several trips today back and forth between the bike and machine shops but, theoretically, after the wheel gets rebuilt tomorrow everything should be grand.  Again.  Sigh .. ;-)

Matters o' the Hike:  After little sleep last night (too hot for the bag, too cold to not have any cover), the "get going super early" plan didn't work out.   Nevertheless Tina knocked out 20 miles and rests tonight at a nice level soft sand site up at 6500' -- much cooler and with a strong breeze too.    She's got a fairly short hike tomorrow out to the pass.   If by some miracle the bike is back together early I'll fetch her with that else I'll be in the car.

So endeth the report for the day, David :-)

On to Walkers Pass - and then a quick trip to Monterey!

After picking up our mail drop, washing clothes, and eating a luxury McDonalds breakfast, Tina got back on the trail at Jawbone Canyon Road around 2pm and hiked about 15 miles before making camp.    Tina reported tonight that she didn't see a soul all day.

Tomorrow's predicted to be our hottest day yet (103) and so she's planning to start walking before dawn, break for the hottest part of the day, then walk again until late.    That's always been standard PCT hiker protocol but this year has been so much cooler, wetter, and snowier than usual that we've been able to dodge most of the hard core heat.  Luckily, on Thursday the temps are supposed to drop back a bit and then before very long Tina will be starting into the High Sierras.

Thursday I'll be picking Tina up from Walkers Pass on the bike.   It's about a 24 mile ride back to Ridgecrest from there but one that's almost entirely downhill.   

Friday we plan to make a quick trip to Monterey to visit with our son Keith with a probable return to the trail on Sunday.   There's a small chance Keith's company may pick up some work over this weekend and so our backup plan would be for Tina to make it into the Sierras and back out at Lone Pine in time to try it again the following weekend.   See, this way we get to visit Keith and we don't really have to call the days zeroes ;-)

Until later!   /David

And then a day where everything goes right

First thing this morning I got the report that Tina had slept extremely well last night.   Awesome.   Then I pack up for my 58.3 mile cycle trip up to Ridgecrest, CA from Mojave.   I get a late start (8:25am) but, miraculously, there is almost no wind and four hours of peddling later I am at the hotel in Ridgecrest.   By late afternoon there are horrific winds over the route I'd just taken -- stronger than anything I've seen out here and ones that would stopped me in my tracks.  

On the way I met another cycle tourist, a fellow named Marcus who had a very nice classic touring rig who said he'd already crossed the country 3 times (in various ways) in prior adventures.   This was after noon already and he was preparing to knock out another 70 miles to get up to Lone Pine.   Yeesh.  Great to meet a fellow cyclist, tho.

Also on the way I notice and stop in at the funky "Jawbone Canyon Store" and pass by a big "Jawbone Canyon Recreation Area".   At the hotel I look up Tina's position with GeoPro and see that she is either going to cross "Jawbone Canyon Road" late today or early tomorrow.   I knew it was a dirt road and so quickly I call the relevant BLM ranger and ask whether the road is open and could be traversed by conventional 2wd vehicles.   Yes it can.

Quickly I scan for local car rentals finding two at the nearby InyoKern Airport.   The cheapest is Dollar.   I call them and start haggling on price.  In that conversation I find out that the guy is physically less than one block from my current location (just outside the entrance to the naval base here) and will cut the price even more to rent direct from there.   I go.  I get the car.   I throw in the GPS, computer, etc.   I head out and pick up a bunch of water on the way.  

At the Jawbone Canyon Road turnoff (an hour away by car) I finally raise Tina on GeoPro and verify that she can make it to the road crossing.   As it turns out the road is just *barely* navigable by 2wd vehicle but two hours later and with GeoPro relay assistance from my Dad I have Tina in the car and we're headed back.   We get back, Denny's meal is consumed, and tomorrow is planned to be a Nero with me re-launching her in the early afternoon.



New shoes but a difficult day

Tina went out this morning in her second set of shoes and insoles.   The originals lasted about the same as they did the AT -- about 500 miles.   On the AT, the laces had always broken a couple times by 500 miles and the sides had typically been cut open by rocks.   Here on the PCT it's that the treads that wore off -- not so much the damage on the sides and top.   That says something about the differences between the two trails.

Other than the new shoes we got off to a bad start this morning.   When we got all the way back out to the trail we realized that we'd forgotten Tina's trekking poles.   So back we went to Mojave to get them -- 90+ miles is too far to go without them.   Consequently, Tina got a late start on what was too have been a 24ish mostly uphill walk to the next water.   Since it was also tough, slow, full-load climbing day she was only able to make about 19 miles before setting up a dry camp with just a liter or so of water left.

When I got back to Mojave for the second time I discovered that she'd also left her camp shoes.  Arghh!! .. and this on top of the discovery a couple days ago that we have no idea where Tina's new (but broken in) boots are for the Sierras.   Every family we spent time with on the way out from VA has searched their houses twice over and today I started calling the most likely of the hotels we stayed at on the way.   Quite the problem since boots are a "should" item for the Sierras but they are also no place to march into with boots that haven't been broken in (should we go out and buy new ones).   Hopefully they'll materialize in the next couple days.

Tomorrow Tina keeps hiking north (hopefully finding water early!) and I set out very early on the 60 mile ride to Ridgecrest, CA where it appears I will be based for some days. 

To a better tomorrow!  /David

Arrived in Mojave. Sierra entry looms large.

Hiker Tina reached mile 558 on the PCT this afternoon where I was able to pick her up with the bike about 12 miles west of Mojave, CA, home of Edwards  Air Force Base, Scaled Composites, the National Test Pilot School, the Mojave Spaceport, and a number of aerospace companies.  Mojave, the town, is considered pretty blah and ugly by the hiker crowd and perhaps most elect to hitch the other way and go to Tehachapi, but we're finding it to be quite satisfactory.   The fact that we have a bike helps, tho, since the town is strung out along the major rail lines for almost 2 miles.

The big thing about Mojave/Tehachapi is that they are generally considered the last serious resupply before hitting Kennedy Meadows, the gateway to the Sierras.   While Kennedy Meadows is 8 hiking days away, there's just one traditional resupply possibility between here and KM and that one involves a 35 mile hitch.   So for most, everything needed for the Sierras that has not already been shipped to the Kennedy Meadows must get moving that direction ASAP.   Luckily we are not "most" and I have hatched a suitably diabolical resupply plan that should give Tina solid support into KM and through to Lone Pine (~50 miles into the Sierras but perhaps 5 days travel due to the snow).    The rest we'll figure out later.

In any case, Kacee is mailing off Tina's boots, ice axe, etc to us right away.

Meanwhile, Tina's two day hike into here from HikerTown went well.   The first day out she had the hated "aquaduct walk" across the desert floor but was lucky to have temps in the 80s instead of the 100s.   She spent the night in a nice camp in Tylerhorse Canyon with about 9 other hikers who had also come from HikerTown.   Today (Friday) involved a lot of extremely windy ridge walking overlooking the huge wind farms between Mojave and Tehachapi -- these are much more impressive than the ones around Palm Springs.

My 46 mile bike ride to Mojave from Hikertown was easy since it was mostly downhill and downwind.   I did hit one snag in that the front brake rotor started rubbing again.   This had just started up south of Rosamond on the mostly desolate Sierra Highway when suddenly I spotted a sign saying Best Bike Shop Ever on a parallel road.   Screeech.... !!!    I headed right over and found the shop to be my favorite kind -- small and directly operated by a very experienced owner.   Dusty was busy working on another bike but nevertheless jumped right on my problem.  In less than 20 minutes he had performed some significant adjustments on the thing.   At the end of the day I think the conclusion is that the intrinsic spacing of these particular components is just too close, but now perhaps a whole gnat can fit between the rotor and the fork -- especially if it hunkers down.  ;-)    Thanks, Dusty!

Tomorrow (Saturday) is a full zero as we work on resupply and Sierra planning.

All the best, (Biker) Dave

Kittens and Rattlesnakes

That's right.   Kittens and rattlesnakes.    Here at the Hikertown Hostel this evening we have kittens and dogs to pet but today on the trail Tina encountered the very deadly Mojave Green Rattlesnake, producer of the most toxic snake venom in the New World.    Tina couldn't get this particular one to move from the trail and so she finally backed up and then walked right at it at full speed.   That got it mad but then it slithered off into a burrow -- pic above.

I of course encountered my own exotic dangers.  ;-)  Today speeding downhill with the fierce wind for 15 miles I was constantly being zinged in the legs and face by zillions of little grasshoppers which, for some reason, like to sit at the side of the road.   Most jumped out of the way or onto me but I probably smashed several dozen.   The grasshoppers were there yesterday too only I was going so slow they all hopped out of the way by the time I got up to them.   In the slow motion study that was yesterday I noticed that the grasshoppers seem to like it when one of their buddies gets smashed -- they all show up to dine on the remains.   Yum.  I study things like this when I'm crawling up hill.  :-}

Anyway, we safely arrived here at Hikertown in the early and mid-afternoon.   It's one sweet place made up by its (movie producer) owner to look like the set from a movie western.   Everybody gets their own room / building / trailer for the night but there's a wonderful common area with a full kitchen, laundry, shower, a big lounging area, etc.   There are dogs and kittens to pet and chickens to chase.   The nearest store is about 10 miles away but the store / deli (the "Wee Vill Market") actually sent a huge RV type van out to pick about eight of us up to load up on fresh cooked food and other supplies and then they ran us back!    We understand that during hiker season this happens 1-2 times per day!   But best of all there is no TV or phones so the hikers tend to abide by "hiker midnight" and are almost all (a dozen+ tonight) in bed by 9pm.   I think I may be the only one up at this point.   It's not a place to zero like the Saufley's, but it's nevertheless wonderful.

Tomorrow Tina heads out early for the dreaded Aquaduct walk across the desert floor which is considered by many to be the most miserable section on the whole trail.   Thankfully, it looks like Tina will mostly just have the wind to deal with since the highs are only supposed to be in the low 80s vs the 100s that people sometimes experience here.   She hopes to make it across the floor and then climb back up into the mountains a couple thousand feet before calling it quits.   

Meanwhile I'll be biking about 50 miles to the allegedly icky town of Mojave where our next mail drop and drop box should be waiting.   The day after I will probably be cycling up and against the wind to Tehachapi for isobutane canisters and then back to Tehachapi Pass to pick up Tina with a  quick 2000' downhill ride back to Mojave for a zero afterwards.

I'll end with a shout out to our son Keith who "phases" tomorrow at the DLI and starts his year+ of Chinese study.   Congrats Keith!


Cruising along, mostly

I don't know what happened to my legs yesterday.   Although it started with wet conditions for us both, on Monday I had a nice strong 40 mile ride with plenty of climbing and about 20 miles into direct strong headwind.   I was pleased that I'd been able to keep up the fight (keep attacking) all the way.  Then I met Tina at the Green Valley Ranger Station on San Francisquito Canyon Road after she'd hiked 24 miles and we spent a pleasant evening camped at the side of the road (seriously, we had a covered picnic table, water, and slept well -- if it'd had a restroom it would've been perfect).   

But then yesterday I don't know what happened but I got whipped by a shorter (36 mile) ride with less climbing.   Maybe it was improper hydration, maybe it was that I had to immediately start into a very steep climb without a warm up, maybe this, maybe that .. I don't know, but everything was screaming waaaa.. yesterday!   LOL.    I climbed up through the mountains about 1500 feet and I had thought that once I reached 4100 feet I'd have a long down hill.  But no, it kept dropping me down a few hundred feet and making me reclimb to 4100.  

Finally I got a long descent and then at a road junction my GPS had me turning left and clearly back into the mountains but I'd caught a glimpse of the desert floor a few miles down and away in the direction of the other choice.    That caused a pause in operations for some study.   Looking more at the GPS-planned route it did have me doing more of the same and even wound up putting me onto something called Old Ridge Road -- which I knew had to be bad.   Roads with "canyon" or "ridge" in the name are risky business (not as bad as ones with the word "gap" or "mount" in them, but still bad ;-) .. but combining "ridge" with "old" and now that's for sure bad .. that means that the road was so bad that people had to come up with a replacement thus making it "old" .. :-}   .. So I checked out the alternative and decided that I'd rather ride up the valley floor against the tougher wind.  So down I went a most wonderful descent to the floor. 

I was so pleased with myself.   The picture of me smiling is one I took of myself at a stop in the descent.   ;-)   And then the first 10 miles or so of progress against the wind wasn't too bad.   I was managing about 10mph and, with this rig and against the wind, that's pretty good.    But then, whammo ..  the route started climbing and the wind picked up.   I was down to 3-5 mph and couldn't afford to stand in the saddle at all because the increase in sail area would bring me to an almost instant halt.   By the end I was having to stop and take a break every mile.   That's a pretty shameful thing but I was beat!    I even had to stop with just 1/2 mile left to go because I just couldn't take it.   Now that's what I call fun stuff! :P

Anyway, I made it to an actually quite nice EconoLodge next to I-5 and will head out to HikerTown Hostel in a short bit.   That's where Tina and I will probably spend the night.   She hiked 22.5 miles yesterday but didn't sleep all that well since it was very windy and she kept hearing animal noises (a concern since she's observed that she's clearly in bear country now).   Hopefully Hikertown will be a nice break.    When she reaches there this afternoon she will have covered the 63 miles from Agua Dulce in 3 days, i.e., today is a shorter day.

The first two pictures are from the descent I mentioned.   Mom, please note that the second picture is both a Scenic Vista(tm) and a Pastoral Scene(tm) ;-)   .. The third is a look at the road up the valley floor (okay, boring, but just for documentation's sake ;-), and the fourth was actually taken first -- it's of me rolling up my condensation-soaked tent at the ranger station.

ATB, David

p.s. Oh, we've started signing registers "Hiker & Biker"

Reporting from Hiker Heaven :-)

Howdy!  We arrived here at Hiker Heaven around noon yesterday (Saturday) and what an amazing place and operation this is.    It deserves its own post but everything you might need and want as a hiker, the Saufley's provide -- and for this year they project that they'll host some 500 hikers before the season is done.   I think almost every hiker spends two nights and parts of three days here recuperating and preparing for the run to the next resupply -- 104 miles up the trail at Tehachapi Pass.   There are many raves about Hiker Heaven on the web but this 2010 journal entry provides a fuller description than most.

As projected, Tina pulled some long mile days getting into here (e.g., a 27.5, 24, and 25) and covered the 112.5 miles from Cajon Pass in six days total.    We're now at mile ~454 in Agua Dulce.   The next resupply point will be at Tehachapi Pass in ~105 miles which she plans to cover in about 5 days.   We head out towards that goal early in the AM tomorrow.   It looks like we'll be able to camp together at least two of those nights on the way.

In the news, we've started catching up and passing some of the people we were on the trail with at Idyllwild but then fell behind when we took the week off to attend Keith's graduation and let Tina's leg heal.   Judging from the various trail registers, others are accelerating away from us and yet others are maintaining their week lead.    My read of the relative proportions of all those is that we're moving at rates generally associated with the second quarter of the main pack but are physically back with the third quarter.    

Some compression is already happening, however, as many near the front slow down so that they don't enter the Sierra's too soon.    As you are likely aware, snow fall this year in the Sierra's is 450% of normal and so that traverse is expected to be much more challenging than is usual.  The traditional first entry dates are around June 15 but many argue that a much later entry date makes more sense this year.   I'm guessing that people are going to pile up at Kennedy Meadows (~250 miles ahead) and then head out and up like a giant wave of lemmings .. :-}

As for my own stats, lately I haven't had to do much hard cycling to keep up.    That'll pick up over the next fews days as I go "off route" (the route being the Sierra Cascades Route) to seek out additional meet up points with Tina.   Once we get to the Sierras it looks like we'll both be having a tough time of it but many details of that are yet to be worked out.   In particular, I haven't resolved which side of the Sierras I'm going to go up or whether I may actually do a giant lap around portions of it -- the official route is on the west side but there is perhaps more utility for Tina if I go up the east side.

I'm working on a decent way to caption photos in Posterous galleries.   For now, the ones up at the top are from the approach to Mount Baden-Powell (the sunset and tent scene are at about 8000'), the summit itself with the monument and 1500+ year old trees, one picture capturing the burned out but slowly recovering remains of the 2009 250 square mile Station Fire, and then grassy slopes around Soledad Canyon.   Here are a couple more --

Tina about to leave the KOA on the 10 mile hike to Hiker Heaven.   About ten other hikers camped there with us that night.

David caught talking on the phone with Jeff H waiting for Tina's arrival at Agua Dulce.  :)


bike fixed; road fixed; 24 miles hiked

We had some initial comm difficulties this morning but at lunch Tina reported that she'd been late getting started this morning since she was deep in Cooper Canyon where it stayed dark well into the morning.   Nevertheless she hiked 24 miles before shutting things down for the night.   Sounded like it was a long day with tons of ups and downs.   Tomorrow evening we're hoping she can meet me at a road crossing about 25 miles on but, that failing, I'll meet her there Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, the root cause of my bike problem was discovered by the bike shop here in Lancaster.   It turned out that the bearing tension ring on the front hub had loosened up and that had allowed the wheel to move the tiny amount necessary to generate rotor-to-fork contact (see pics).    I should've thought about this since Brendan Collier of the Hub Cyclery (and Siren Bicycles) found the same ring loose while tightening up some spokes and truing the wheel when we were in Idyllwild.

In any case, many thanks to Bryan Laine of Bicycle John's who came into work an hour and half early to repair the bike on his own time.   When we'd spoken on the phone earlier I didn't understand why that'd be necessary but once there I understood -- that shop is *crazy* busy!   In any case, a big gold star to Bryan for helping a traveler in need.    The offending set screw has now been dosed with blue Loctite.

While at the shop later I found that they had some aerobars I could replace my (steel) ones with. I did that to save what must've been a full pound.   I continue to find things to ship back or ship ahead to save weight -- just before the bars it was the iPad and before that I started cutting back on the amount of water I'm carrying.   You wouldn't think that a couple pounds would make all that much difference on a 125+ pound rig but I swear I can feel each one coming off.

Returning to the hike, we hope to reach the Saufley's mid-afternoon on Saturday. 

Thanks to everyone for all the support, David

p.s. oh, about the "road fixed".   I just read in the "Antelope Valley Press" that Highway 2 is mostly opening back up tomorrow!   This is road I had to detour around.  

Daily update + how we track each other

A successful day.  

Tina's spending the night at Cooper Canyon Trail Camp (mile 395.5) after an early morning traverse of Mount Baden-Powell.   Just as we had been advised, it was best to head straight for the peak and then walk down the ridge on the back side to meet back up with the trail later.   The down hill walk is essentially clear of snow.     In a first, we spent a fair bit of time visualizing the off-trail foray in Google Earth beforehand.    Tina reported tonight that the time spent doing that paid off in that she always felt sure of her location.    She also reported that the views from the top were spectacular!

Once Tina had cleared Baden-Powell I launched on my 50 mile ride down to Lancaster -- 1000' up followed by 4500' down.  I had been worried about a predicted afternoon 40 mph headwind but I only experienced approx 20 mph headwinds and the portions of the route directly into it were sloped very gently downhill and so that was a big help.   I arrived in Lancaster about four hours later.   I got the bike over to the shop and will go over there in the morning to "help" them with it as soon as they open.  :-}

Yesterday I promised some words about how Tina and I keep track of each other and how we communicate when one or the other of us has no cell coverage.   In short, we use a new satellite service called GeoPro to track each other's position, let others see our positions, do emergency notifications, and to do 2-way messaging between ourselves or any cell phone or email.   The service has its issues, but it beats the heck out of what we used on the AT (a combination of SPOT, ham radios, and cell phones).  

I decided the details of that would be boring for most of our readers and so I've put those here for those who want to dig in.   If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.  The solution is not for everyone but I think many who currently use SPOT would be better served by GeoPro.