Tehachapi to Leavenworth

By the numbers
Total Miles hiked: 890.7
Completion percentage: 33.58%
Hiking days: 56
Zero days: 25
Total Ascent: 94683 ft.
Total descent: 95618 ft.
Blister count: not worth tracking anymore
Notable injury count: 2
Toenail count: 9

I’m a bit pressed for time here in Leavenworth because Carjack and I are planning on hiking out of Leavenworth this afternoon. We arrived here on a Sunday and I was not able to access my laptop until Monday morning (today) as it was waiting for me at the post office. To make things a bit quicker for me I’m going to make this post bullet points only.

-The trail family (except for Spartan) decided to flip up to the Canadian border and hike south. This is primarily because of the snow conditions in the Sierras. The Sierras got roughly the same amount of snow that they did in the winter of 2017 and that year 2 PCT hikers that attempted to go through had their lives taken by river crossings. We didn’t like our odds, so we decided to push the Sierras off until the Fall. In addition, there is a high risk of fire in Washington/Oregon this year and hiking that section now will allow us to hopefully dodge any trail closures due to fire.

-The section from Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows (KM) was mostly uneventful, and I hiked most of the ~100 miles by myself. I left Tehachapi about a half day after everyone else and trailed them the entire way. Because of the extreme heat and long dry stretches (up to 20 miles) I opted to night-hike most of it. The timing of the moon phase was very fortunate and an exceptionally bright full moon allowed me to hike two nights without using a headlamp. It was a surreal experience I am glad to have had.

-Unfortunately, during this section an old injury flared up. Quite a few years go my running ‘career’ was ended when I dropped a training implement on my right Achilles tendon and partially ruptured it. During the stretch to KM I started to experience dull pain and tightness in my Achilles. I compensated by putting more weight on my left leg, which then developed into an overuse injury in my left knee. According to Carjack, I had an inflamed infrapatellar fat pad which is a small patch of soft tissues that sits under the knee tendons. Nothing worrisome, but it was painful. My knee filled with fluid, and quite a bit of it drained into my ankle, causing it to swell. Photo below. Daily exercises and maintenance have gotten things under control, but hiking with both injuries was miserable up until a few days ago.

-Getting to the northern terminus from Kennedy Meadows was not a trivial task. From KM I hitched to Bishop, took a local bus to Reno, then a Greyhound from Reno to Sacramento, another Greyhound to Oakland (which was delayed by almost 6 hours), then a Lyft to San Jose where I stayed at my friends house for a few days, another Lyft to SFO, a flight to Seattle, got a ride from Carjacks parents from Seattle to Mazama, and finally a 30 mile approach hike to the Northern Terminus. All of that took about a week, and the time off was welcome as it allowed my injuries to heal up a bit, even though I did not fully recover.

-Washington is incredibly beautiful, to the point I am seriously considering trying to live in a small town up here after I finish. The mountain ranges are so vast and deep that the views are quite literally breathtaking. I have shared photos with family and friends of what I have hiked through, but the photos fail to capture the immensity and majesty of the landscape.

-The weather in Washington has been downright awful. Most days have been very overcast, and there has been more rain than we anticipated. Most days I am walking into camp soaked head to toe. The wetness is exacerbated by the cold temperatures, but the prospect of catching a world class view at the top of a pass is enough motivation to keep hiking.

-Carjack and I are hiking between 20 and 25 miles on full days, which is a great accomplishment given the terrain and trail conditions. The elevation changes in Washtington are huge, and the trail is quite poorly maintained. Most of the trail family group is a few days ahead of us, but this section is considered to be one of the most difficult on the PCT, save only the JMT portion.

-Two members of the trail family are no longer hiking. Magpie (formerly AK) missed her boyfriend greatly and decided to leave the trail and return to Denmark to be with her loved ones. Danish tore a tendon in his foot and is no longer able to continue. He walked 150 miles on a torn tendon, which is a feat in its own right, but the pain became too much and he will return home as well. Both of them will be dearly missed. In addition, many people who we have met along the way have decided to get off trail.

This is what a lot of the ‘trail’ looks like in Washington

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