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.


Grace on Grace

As we depart for the NW Tandem Rally in Salem, Oregon, and then continue on down to Yosemite,  California to meet Brad, we leave a beautiful, beautiful garden at home.   Here on Whidbey Island the spring has been wet and cool.  People might be complaining but the garden is delighted.

Japanese Iris


Mt. Whitney

Mount Whitney is 14,494 feet.  Although it's the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, it doesn't take any mountain climbing expertise to complete the 22-mile round-trip trail to the summit.  Brad and Hannah climbed it on June 24, descending as the sun set.  Brad reported a spectacular view.

  • Mount Whitney sunset
    Mt. Whitney at sunset

  • Serious Hiking!

    Hiking all three major US long distance trails -- Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is called a Triple Crown.  This young boy, age 7, wants to complete a triple crown by age 13.  Brad met this boy on the PCT.  After a long day of hiking here he is with the energy to build sandcastles.   Barracuda is his trail name.

    "Barracuda" on the PCT

    Map of US with 'triple crown' trails

    Hiking one trail in both directions, in one season, is called a yo-yo.



    It's raining here today.  Coolish, at 55 degrees, and very, very wet.  The forecast was for 80% rain, but I thing it has been 100%.  The forecast also said, "sun breaks"  -- wrong!   The sun has been deeply lost in clouds and rain.  But, boy is it green!  Almost hurt-the-eyes-green.

    Ed, protected by his huge golf umbrella, at the Langley Second Street Market today

    Grace Garden

    Rain Drops on the Pond, Grace Garden

    Japanese Iris, Grace Garden


    Benton Fishing

    The goldfish spawn and Sir Benton Cowboy watches.  He's pretty fascinated by the whole process of these fish jumping across the plants until exhaustion sets in and then they look dead as they float, often belly up.  Once they recover, they swim away, but what a show.

    Father's Day

    We had a wonderful Ebey's Landing Father's Day ride in central Whidbey.  Twenty-four miles of mostly dry; all beautiful! We then enjoyed a pleasant dinner in Coupeville.  There was less rain in the rain shadow so we only got sprinkled on a couple of times.  When we returned to Langley we could see, from the falling over plants in the garden, that it had rained hard here.  Going north was a good call.

    Fran & Ed, Coupeville, WA


    Kennedy Meadows to Mt. Whitney

    Today Brad enters eight hundred trail miles of sheer beauty, challenge and pleasure, going from high mountains  to deep canyons, as he heads into "The Range of Light" as John Muir called the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  The Central California PCT crosses eight passes above 11,000 feet, with the highest being Forester Pass at 13,180 feet.  For over 200 miles  the trail has no road crossings.    That's what the central California PCT offers and that's what Brad is about to experience -- beginning today, I think.  He arrived in Kennedy Meadows on the 14th and planned a day of rest yesterday. 

    Forester Pass
    Photo by Drew Glazer

    Leaving Kennedy Meadows it is up, up, up for 60 miles and three days of hiking, with Mt. Whitney (approximately 15 miles within the southern boundary of Sequoia National Park) being the destination.  Plant life will transition from pinyon pine and scrubby juniper to lodgepole pines in the subalpine zone.  This route requires a bear canister and an ice ax is recommended.  Given the isolation, many thru-hikers plan to stock up and hike an uninterrupted 10 days to Vermillion Valley Resort.  Others take a side trip to Independence or Bishop.  I don't know what Brad has planned.  I do know he, Charlie and Hannah did a large resupply in Lake Isabella.  The hiking group is at three right now as Dave headed back to San Francisco.

    In about two and one-half weeks Ed and I will be meeting Brad.  We think we'll be finding one another in the Yosemite area.


    A Big Scare!

    Last Sunday we walked at Greenbank Farm with one playful, frisky, healthy 15 month-old puppy.  This Sunday he's recovering from some horrible, painful, and swollen infection on his neck.  The two most wonderful words we've heard all week are "non-malignant", but the ongoing concern of where did this infection come from and will it return still haunt us.

    In the meantime, Benton sleeps a lot as a result of the infection, surgery and painkillers.  But happily he's chasing rabbits, crows and having a great time trying to catch fish in our pond between naps.  The puppy factor is so strong, even as sick as he is, it sneaks out and delights us.

    Sir Benton Cowboy
    The cutest aussie ever!

    Ed and Benton at Greenbank Farm
    Benton & Fran at Greenbank Farm

    Tehachapi Pass

    Yesterday Brad reached Tehachapi Pass, historically most noted for it's railroad engineering feat. Today the trains still run but new history is being made with wind farms.  The Tehachapi Pass Railroad Line was constructed from 1874 to 1876, and is mentioned as one of the seven wonders of the railroad world.  In researching the seven wonders of the railroad world there doesn't seem to be a comprehensive list, but some of the mentioned railroad wonders include Chunnel (tunnel under English channel);  Feather River Canyon (including Williams Loop, Clio Trestle, Tobin Twin Bridges, Pulga Bridges, Keddie Wye and Spring Garden Tunnel); Central Railway of PeruThe Zig Zag Railway, Lithgow, New South Wales, Australia; Cincinnati Union Terminal; Huey P. Long Bridge; Pennsylvania Railroad's Horseshoe Curve; Darjeeling-Himalaya Railway; Moscow Subway; Colorado Narrow Gauge Circle; Sammering Railway in Austria; and on and on.

    As I read this list, as it applies to the USA, I feel sadness.  We developed one of the most awesome railroad systems in the world, the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1800's, yet we've let our train system deteriorate and be dismantled, little by little, piece by piece, until it's just a fraction of its past greatness.  I hope I live to see its revival, but I think I must leave that to Brad.

    One of the things Ed and I like to do is ride Rails to Trails.  As we ride we are both grateful for these beautiful bikeways but, at the same time, lament the loss of this country's trains.  A couple of years ago we rode the Hiawatha Rails to Trails bike trail in Montana and were shocked to read that it was still an operational  train route as recently as 1980.  That same summer we also rode Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes,  the Spokane River Centennnial Trail, and the George S. Mickelson Rails to Trails in South Dakota, all  providing great bike riding, beautiful natural beauty and bountiful history.

    Then, this past Mother's Day we rode the Snohomish County Centennial Trail, still in operation as a train route as recently as 1987.  The list, of course, goes on.  Trains no longer running but outstanding bicycle and walking paths opening.  The yin yang of loss and gain.

    But, back to Brad.  He was at Tehachapi yesterday, but has probably hiked on by now.  On the other hand, for the first time in his six months of tramping, he is suffering from blisters on his feet.  He might have decided to stop, sit, and heal or he might be pressing on.

    The gang of six hikers -- Tripod, Charlie, Hannah, Brad, Aaron, Mark -- continues to redesign itself.  Aaron split off a while ago to be in the company of a new woman he met.  Tripod comes and goes.  Brad split off a week or so ago to hike single for a spell.  Now Charlie has split leaving Mark, Brad and Hannah together.  It's fun how the group splits and regroups allowing for alone time and reconfigured group time.  The dance of the PCT!


    8:00 a.m. and 3 miles down!

    Had a call from Brad slightly before 8:00 and the group was on the march.

    After hiking alone for a few days, Brad is once again hooked up with "the group", or at least part of it -- Hannah, Charlie, Mark -- and they're moving out!  Their destination is Kennedy Meadows in 10 days, or 25 miles per day.  The trail distance is 247.9, so they can slack slightly one day.  Once they reach Kennedy Meadows they will have hiked a total of 704 miles, and reached the entry to the High Sierras.

    Brad's new look -- two new shirts, shorts and glasses
    Yesterday was a zero hike day, but an important day of new purchases at REI.  The Hiker Heaven (***** hostel) provides rides, bikes, shelter, and almost anything else a hiker needs.  Yesterday there were about 20 hikers staying there.  Brad headed off to REI to replace his stove pan, which they didn't have, so he'll limp along with the broken pan for a while yet.  He also replaced clothing items which after the Te Araroa in New Zealand  five month tramp, and now another month on the Southern Section of the  Pacific Crest Trail, were disintegrating.  


    Aqua Dulce

    Image Detail
    Aqua Dulce

    Yesterday Brad had arrived at Aqua Dulce and had checked into Hiker Heaven.  Today he was thinking he might catch a ride by train, bus or car to a larger city to replace his damaged stove pot and to replace his disintegrating shirt.   I'm thinking I might get an update later today or, perhaps, he's already back on the trail.

    The past two days he hiked 19 and 21 miles respectively, following 26.5 and 20 mile days.  I guess a bit of a rest is in order, so even a long bus ride might sound good pretty good to him.

    Aqua Dulce is the end of Section D on the PCT and the beginning of Section E.  If I've got my facts straight, once he crosses Highway 58, Tehachapi Pass, he'll be into the Central California PCT, reputed to be the most beautiful part of the California PCT Trail and includes Sequoia National Forest.  

    Since Sunday, a wildfire has raged over 1,700 acres in the Sequoia National Forest, forcing evacuation of hikers and campers along Lloyd Meadow Road, which provides access to Golden Trout Wilderness.  The PCT passes to the east of the Golden Trout Wilderness area.   Brad still has 110 miles to Highway 58, and then another 50 miles before he's in the area of the wildfire's present location.   Hopefully it will be contained before he gets much closer.


    400 Miles!

    A day out of Wrightwood....

    Beautiful  Forest

    Brad - PCT 400 Miles