Home on Whidbey is a family blog revolving around Fran, Ed, Brad, Yessi, plus puppy Benton, and our family, travels, friends, neighbors and community. Thanks for reading.


PCT Mile 375

Brad left Wrightwood, California this morning.  To date, he has hiked 375 miles from Campo and been on the trail for 25 days, for an average of 15 miles per day.  His hiking goal was 20 miles per day but then zero days or partial rest days mess with the average.  Leaving Wrightwood he will enter the   Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness and then Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park and the town of Aqua Dulce.   Aqua Dulce might be most notable for the films shot at the Vasquez Rocks including Blazing Saddles, Flintstones and the "Arena" episode of Star Trek.  It appears he will be another four or five days on the trail before I hear from him again.

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Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

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Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness


Trail Angels

Have you wondered  what exactly a thru-hiker is?  Or what a slack pack, zero day, or Yo Yo is?  I found this site on my search for trail angels, and it answers all questions about trail vocabulary.  But, it's still trail angels that fascinate me, entice me, and almost (not quite, but almost) make me want to move to property right on a trail.  The definition of a trail angel is simple yet enticing:  "A non-hiker who helps a hiker in some way." 

I think when Ed and I meet Brad in Northern California this summer, we'll try to set up our little trailer to be a hikers' soup coupe, or some such.  All will depend on being able to find a suitable stop, close to the trail.  But, not knowing in advance where we'll be, because we won't know Brad's location until the last week or two, will present challenges.  At the very least, I think we'll leave cookies and cold drinks along the trail from time-to-time.

Early on, Brad told of a retired couple who purchased property right on the PCT Trail so they could be trail angels.  He reported that Big Bear and Ziggy are indeed angels extraordinaire.  Big Bear and Ziggy maintain their home as the Whitewater Trail House .  They have been angels before and post this message on their website:

Stop by for a zero day or hour, its all good with us.  We have hosted hundreds of hikers at our previous location in Anza, and we look forward to meeting each and every one of you hiking the PCT!!

The Bear and Aaron

Ziggy and Charllie
Some angels wash clothes, give rides to grocery stores or post offices,  provide showers and sometimes even have foot soaking tubs or hot tubs available.  Internet and mail drops are additional services offered by trail angels.  The angels come in all shapes, sizes and ages, offering free gifts to charging small fees or suggesting donations are welcome.

Other trail angels, called roving angels, leave water and cold drinks along the trail when there is a long, hot stretch with no water resupply options.   They might also leave food, clothing or first aid supplies when they deem it necessary.   Pretty anonymously they help the hikers.   Angels!  Indeed angels!

Life Saving Water Cache in the  Desert

Helpful Signage
Cold Drink Cache


The Fun Facts of the PCT!

dbBrad in 1211 did much of the Washington PCT with his much-loved pup, Sir Benton Cowboy.

Cutest Aussie Even
The Seiad Valley Cafe in Seiad Valley, California, right on the PCT, challenges thru-hikers to eat 5 one-pound pancakes in under two hours.  If they can do it, the pancakes are free.

Seiad Cafe

Seiad Valley Cafe pancakes

 The triple crown winner, Brian Robinson, completed the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail for a total of 7000 miles in one year.

Brian Robinson
In 1970, Eric Ryback, a 17-year-old student, won acclaim as the first PCT thru-hiker.  He published a book in 1971, The High Adventure of Eric Cyback:  Canada to Mexico on Foot.  Ryback carried an 80 pound pack, with only five resupply packages on the entire trip.   

Eric Ryback

Susie Burns and her father Frank McCubbins (72) did a first on the Oregon PCT using four different pack animals:  goats, Bactrain camel, llamas and mules.  Their favorites were the goats.

Richie - Goat Peak
Pack Goat
Pack Llama
Pack Bactrian camel

Pack Mules

  • Saturday

    The Quick Swirl!

    Dining outside at the Langley Village Pizzeria
    As Ed and I sat enjoying our Village Pizzeria salad last evening, a quick swirl of wild wind and rain came up driving the outside diners inside, while the servers dived for the umbrellas that were  about ready to launch themselves; throwing branches hither and yon;  and kicking up quite the wild weather of white water and flying debris.  It was such a quick and unexpected little swirl that the folks in town giggled with delight as they ran about on the streets twisting and turning with the wind.  The whole storm lasted only about 10 minutes, but on our one-mile jaunt home we saw this:

    Fir down on Camano Avenue

    Edgecliff Restaurant tree topples

    Redwood breaks off at Lash residence
    Photos by Barton Cole
    This morning I noticed my neighbor's 15 foot fruit tree tipped over.  All of this in Langley.  Meanwhile, Brad, on the PCT in Big Bear Lake territory in California, is experiencing high winds with projections of snow and night time temperatures in the 20's.  Checking the Big Bear Lake forecast this morning at 7:24 a.m. it was still only 31 degrees, but expected to get into the 60's later in the day.  I hope that new sleeping bag was up to the task of a cold, cold night, and the tarp shelter remained secure.


    Big Bear Country

    Googling Big Bear in California you find a  Big Bear City, unincorporated, and the city of Big Bear Lake, incorporated, but not to be confused with the lake called Big Bear Lake.   Brad was at  the city of Big Bear Lake yesterday.  At the time I spoke with him  he was uncertain whether he was taking a morning of rest, day of rest, or moving on right away.  Another call this morning disclosed that he took a zero day yesterday and is headed out this morning.  He will  be out of touch for about four days, as he heads into Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area and Sheep Mountain Wilderness with a stop in the town of Wrightwood, 66 miles northwest (but mostly west) as the crow flies (where a letter awaits him).
    Grizzly Bear
    Black Bear
    With the name Big Bear I got curious about the animals, specifically bears, in that region.  So, once again, I turned to my trusty oracle for information.  I find that the name came from the Grizzly Bears of the 1800's that roamed that area.  There are no wild Grizzly Bears left and can now only be found at the Moonridge Animal Park in Big Bear Lake.  Replacing the Grizzly is the introduced Black Bear.
    Sheep Mountain Wilderness
    Photo by Michael E. Gordon
    Silverwood Lake SRA © Shara Rogers
    Silverwood Lake
    Photo by Shara Rogers


    The Feat of the Feet of the PCT

    After a long day of hiking, soaking one's feet is heaven.

    There's a book here -- "The Care and Maintenance of Feet on the PCT!"   Or, "Oh Man, my Dogs Hurt!  Or, "Ouch!"

    I've just started reading Wild - From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.  Wild, in even the first couple of chapters, has a lot to say about sore feet.  But, the most alarming story, enticingly mentioned in the book's prologue, is about the removal of her hiking boots on a steep slope in Northern California, just to watch one boot tumble irretrievably over the edge.  The second boot, now useless without its mate, she hugs to her breast and then tosses it over the edge too.  There she stands barefoot,  on a trail far far away.  The Prologue leaves Cheryl right there.  For the predicament's solution, one must read on...

    Strayed began her PCT adventure at Mojave, close to Tehachapi Pass; Brad started in Campo, at the Mexican border.  A distance of about 250 miles by car and no doubt considerably more by trail.  As a result, the beginnings of Wild - From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail has yet to be seen by Brad.


    Ug, Facebook! Really?

    To the many in my life dismissing Facebook, here's an example of why I enjoy it.  When Brad was tramping the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand I "liked" a number of the Te Araroa facebook pages to see what was being said.  In the process I became friends with a few of Brad's tramping friends -- Charlie Barran, Richard Wagner and Ludovic Lemoine.  I was also following Brad's adventure on his blog, doing my own parallel blog and following other trampers' blogs as well.  With the delightful benefit of social media I followed along with Lude & Flore, Floppy Adventures, and more.

    My computer adventure was clearly not as good as actually being in New Zealand, but quite the adventure nevertheless.  I researched every mountain, river, town and track.  I followed the weather and trail challenges.  Each estuary waded through, beach walked, hut stayed in and swinging bridge crossed was vicariously enjoyed from home.  And, the blogs, plus facebook,  filled in even more details with comments, photographs and tramping friends exploits.  Not quite, but almost, I feel like I've been to New Zealand.  I fell in love with the kiwis, adore many of Brad's unmet friends, and am in awe of the beauty of that country.  Sure beats the postcard every three weeks that my mother got.

    Just yesterday I had a lovely Facebook chat experience with Charlie Barran about db's (all Brad's friends are calling him db) latest adventures on the Pacific Crest Trail, pros and cons of blogging and his photographs.  Charlie put together some fabulous panoramas of the Te Araroa Trail, which I'm sharing here:

    Photos by Charlie Barran
    My life is richer as the result of Facebook and blogging.  Viva la social media!


    NW Rain

    As I think of Brad, hiking the PCT in the hot, dry, hang-onto-your-water-supply, Southern California landscape, here in the NW it is raining, and will be raining, according to all forecasts, for the next week.  Although the sun and blue sky-beauty of the past 10 days has been wonderful, so is the rain.  The garden is, suddenly, perky again, the soil has returned to that dark, wet-looking, deep brown color.  The plant foliage once again has that lush wet look -- the usual look of a NW spring is back.

    Fredley Creek from the Bridge

    Fredley Pond from the Bridge

    Fredley Pond and Fish from the Bridge

    Fredley Garden from the Bridge

    Fredley Vegetable Garden from the Covered Patio

    This evening we had BBQ chicken for dinner, with corn on the cob (probably from California) and a huge green salad from the garden (topped off with an avocado and walnuts, also, probably from California).  We ate, all the while missing Brad, as we watched the rain fall.  My dinner grateful, a tradition of many years, was for the rain.  It is lovely!

    Snohomish Centennial Trail

    On Mother's Day Ed and I enjoyed a sunny, warm, beautiful 45 mile round trip bike ride from Snohomish to Arlington and back, along with every biking family in the Greater Seattle area.  It was crowded and lively with the good cheer of having a family-bike-ride-with-mom.  It's a well-maintained and easy to ride trail that passes through beautiful countryside, including forests, farmlands and wetlands with stunning views of the Cascade Mountains, but especially Mt. Pilchuck.   We'd wished we'd taken a picnic (more on that further down in this post) as there were picnic tables and benches nicely placed along the way in pleasing spots.

    Ed @ Machias Trail Head and Rest Stop

    Fran @ Machias
    In my home town, Langley, we now have signs marking the Langley Loop. The Langley Loop is a great idea for helping all sorts of people to find Langley, a village off the highway.  I'm advocating more "loops".  It's easier for automobiles, but much, much easier for hikers and bikers.   They are tired and hungry and can't just drive around until they find something.

    Langley dancing the Langley Loop:
    Here we go loop de loop
    Langley Town Photo - 5/19/12 on the day Langley danced the Langley Loop de loop.

    As with any town, when you live there, or are quite familiar with it, signage is insignificant.  As a result, locals can be somewhat cavalier about maps, giving directions and signage.  I remember, years ago, when my then young son, Brad, and I were still living in Seattle but doing a bike weekend on Whidbey Island.  We'd headed to South Whidbey State Park for camping and then the next day we were biking to Langley for the Island County Fair.  We'd been given directions to enter Langley on Saratoga Road.  The first business we came to, Langley Lumber, was closed on Sunday, so we asked a motorist where Langley was.  After they stopped laughing, they told us it was just down the street two blocks.  Obvious to them, not so obvious to us and exploring the possibilities of Langley's location on a fully loaded bike was not that easy.  And, this is my point.  If Langley had had the Langley Loop signs back then, we would not have had to ask where Langley was, so obvious now that I live here too, but not so obvious all those years ago.
    Saratoga Road
    Ed and I had that same experience when we arrived in Arlington last Sunday on the Centennial Trail.  We were wanting lunch but first we needed to find downtown Arlington.   Road map?  Nope.  Signage?  Nope.  Restaurant signs?  Nope.  Here's a trail dumping 100s of riders into their town and not one entrepreneur or chamber or city sign to be seen.  We finally asked other riders and found our way to Arlington's main street.  There we found a bike shop and asked for recommendations to a good eatery.  We got some hand waving but not very good information.  The restaurants recommended were closed.  Our Arlington lunch experience left us unsatisfied in a number of ways.

    There's a message here.   Bikers do spend money.  Bikers do eat and drink.  Bikers will return in their cars if they've had a good experience.  Bikers are good for the economy.  As are hikers.  When Brad was hiking the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand he found lots of eager businesses along the way -- hostels, eateries, bars, bakeries, shuttle services, kayak services, lodges, sporting goods stores -- ready to serve the hikers.  He's finding that in some of the towns along the Pacific Crest Trail (of note so far is one of  the best sporting goods stores, south of Wander on Whidbey, and the town of  Idyllwild) hikers are seen as assets, but not all.
    Welcome to Idyllwild
    Bicycle Trails and hiking trails are awesome for the users, and the wise towns are capitalizing on the economic benefits of having trails in their neighborhoods.  When I rode the Galloping Goose Trail on Vancouver Island a few years ago, entrepreneurs were popping up from B&B's to kid's lemonade stands.  When Ed and I rode the George S. Mickelson Trail in South Dakota two years ago, the only trail-oriented business we found on the 114 mile route was a bicycle shop and on the Trail of the Coeur d'alenes we found a fabulous State Camp Ground, but few services. 

    Now I'm not suggesting that the trails allow billboards and mini strip malls, but I am suggesting that there are missed business opportunities for the towns along these trails to provide services and information about their services.

    The Pine Forests of Idyllwild

    Brad hooked up with five other thru-hikers somewhere between Campo and Idyllwild so when we talked yesterday from the trail, he was pleased to be sharing the good companionship of fellow hikers.  In Idyllwild they went out for lunch, rinsed off the dust, resupplied, rested, gathered again for dinner and were set to depart early on the 19th.  Unfortunately, the departure was delayed due to a leak in Brad's water pouch.  With feelings of  gratitude on Brad's part and great patience on his friends' part, they waited for him to get it fixed.    Big Bear is the next destination to be reached in approximately five days.

    Idyllwild, as reported by Brad, was a very welcoming community.  The residents were ready to help the hikers, including picking them up if they were hitching.  The businesses were sensitive to their needs and provided for them in every way they could.  There were about 20+ hikers in Idyllwild when Brad was in town.  It was humming with thru-hiker endorphins.

    Idyllwild, CA
    PCT Trail approaching Idyllwild

    Can you spot the hikers?

    After the hot, rattlesnake-ridden, cactus-blooming PCT desert trail, Brad found wonderful, cold, beautiful snow in a pine forest near Idyllwild.