An Incredible Support System Is Discovered… Peggy’s Perspective on the PCT Adventure

We met Jeanine (center) when we backpacked into Seiad. She had just hiked in from Castle Crags. In addition to being a PCT hiker, she is a ‘Trail Angel’ providing support to through hikers. Here, she makes Bone’s acquaintance.

The Trekker Telegraph

There were times that communication with Curt was critical. For example: Circumstances sometimes required that I change my location from where we had agreed to meet.  That’s where the trekker telegraph came in handy! Curt was hiking north to south while most through-hikers were traveling south to north. This meant that the majority of hikers I met at the trailhead would pass Curt along the way. Much to my delight, I could send messages with them.  They had a true appreciation of just how difficult the hike was and were more than supportive of Curt’s adventure. They were also used to sharing information with fellow hikers. (It didn’t hurt that I bribed them with apples, apple juice, fresh water, peanut butter, scones and beer.) I’d give them his card with his photo and away they would go. The more worried I was, the more hikers I gave the message to. Curt laughingly told me when he came out at Burney Falls that he had heard I was in a new location some 13 times! Good thing, since I was several miles away from where he was expecting me. Laugh all you want, Curt.

I truly enjoyed getting to know the through-hikers. I was amazed at the variety of ages, genders, nationalities, repeat trekkers, segment trekkers, first timers, and seasoned hikers. They all had stories to tell and were glad to share.  They also wanted to hear about Curt. We had a sign on the back of our van that featured his adventure.

The sign on the back of our van often led curious people to ask me what the story was. These included through-hikers as well as people in campgrounds and towns along the way. Here the tale is a bit different. The photo includes our friends Tom and Leta. Tom helped Curt create the first Sierra Trek in 1974 and they have been causing mischief ever since.

More Support

The sign also drew people in at campgrounds and in the small towns where I shopped along the way. They would stop by to visit, ask questions, share personal or family stories about the PCT, and often ask how they might help out. I distributed lots of Curt’s cards.  

Trail angels are people who volunteer to support trekkers by providing water, food, lodging, and transportation along the way. We met a great one in Seiad Valley. Jeanine had hiked the PCT, as had her son. She lived near Burney Falls and regularly supported through hikers on the 30-mile section south of the Falls where there wasn’t any water. She immediately offered to help Curt, becoming a friend to be cherished! I saw her again near Burney Falls where I had a fun lunch with her and her friends. Later, she and her husband joined both of us for pizza in Burney. Her information about the trail was invaluable. The lack of water combined with 105 F temperatures ultimately persuaded Curt to save the Burney section for another time, however. 

Other people jumped in to help whenever help was needed. My friend Barbara and her husband Carl, long time hikers, gave us a ride to Mt. Ashland where we started the TMT. Tim and Sandra Holt in Dunsmuir, friends from Curt’s past, offered to let our nephew Jay leave his car at their home when Jay joined Curt for a 100-mile segment. My own trail angel activities paid dividends. One couple I had given a ride to, drove all the way to Sonora Pass just to check on me and to see if there was any news from Curt!

RV Angels is a new category! I made that one up but I have a few stories of campground hosts and RV Park hosts who helped me out. I was traveling without reservations for most of the trip as I needed the flexibility to be where I was needed most. The challenge was finding space. One host (in Chester) who had no open spaces heard my story, told me to wait a moment, made a call, and then returned to tell me she had a spot. That night she returned and said I could stay as long as I needed! Another host (in Burney Falls) offered her private phone number for emergencies and her private internet server so that I would have consistent service. Another host (Lake Tahoe/Truckee) squeezed me in between some big rigs and said she would find a spot for me if I needed to stay longer.

Several friendships were made. Some will continue to grow over the next few years. A favorite story is about Linda. I had just returned to Quivera (the van) and saw Linda with her quilting supplies, sewing machine, and materials spread out over the picnic table. Yes, I love quilting so, of course, I had to introduce myself and rave about her skill! Next thing I know we are sharing a glass of wine and just having a great time talking a mile a minute! She and her husband Pete were part of a local group that RV together. The men would go fishing and the women would quilt. Then all would party in the evening. Turns out she grew up in the Lassen NP area and still had a summer home. We agreed we would tackle Lassen Peak next summer. When we finally returned home in September, Linda had sent me the quilt that I had so admired. What a gem!

Then there was the homemade coconut cream pie. Jeanine and her friends had recommended a restaurant in Falls River. It was known for its coconut cream pie. Curt was excited; he loves coconut cream pie. Bad news, they were out. Good news, when the baker heard Curt’s story, she headed into the kitchen and made another pie!! Little things mean a lot. Curt claimed it was it best he has ever eaten. (I wonder if that had anything to do with eating backpacking food for weeks?)

The Falls River Hotel where Curt got his Coconut Cream Pie.

Other Thoughts

Family connections:Yes, I worried about Curt on the trail. That is who I am. Our kids were great about checking in regularly. They were also receiving the evening messages from Spot, the GPS tracker, letting them know where Curt was and that all was well. What was best, though, was that our 13-year-old grandson Ethan joined Curt for one segment and Jay, our 30-year-old nephew, joined him for another. Now I could relax. A bonus came along with Ethan. Our daughter Tasha and her other son, Cody, joined me and we were able to play for a week. 

Jay and I just before he and Curt took off to hike the hundred miles to Castle Crags.
Here I am with my grandsons Cody and Ethan and my daughter Tasha above Emerald Bay Lake Tahoe after Ethan had come out from his hike with Curt due to a sprained ankle.
We had introduced Tasha to backpacking several years earlier. She’s shown here just north of Yosemite on a trip we were on.

Birthday at Castle Crags:Believe it or not, I have never spent my birthday alone! I LOVE birthdays and have turned mine into a day per decade celebration. So, this summer was a bit different. However, there were a few surprises. Of course, the kids called. Then I received a phone call from Jay and Curt who stopped on top of a mountain and discovered a cell signal. I had answered concerned about an emergency and was greeted by a stirring rendition of Happy Birthday to you! What fun! To celebrate, I then called our friend Sandra Holt and invited her to join me for train-car dining at the Railroad Park where the wait staff spoiled me rotten. OK, I really was not alone.

On being by myself:One afternoon I was enjoying a beautiful spot at my campsite in a forest campground about ten miles from Sonora Pass. Shaded by pine trees and enjoying incredible mountain views, I pulled out my guitar and softly sang and played my favorite folk songs (Think 60s-70s.) I noticed a father and daughter standing behind the van and listening discretely. When I picked up some artistic word searches I had been designing, the two of them approached. The father said his daughter had a question: Was the TMT sign on the van true? Yes. Then what did I do with myself each day?

It was a good question. I had never really traveled on my own in the RV. There was plenty of down time while I waited for Curt. My day included reading (lots), playing the guitar, writing a daily journal, creating artistic word searches (the daughter got quite excited about this and offered to test them for me!), following the news, keeping the RV resupplied, researching campgrounds, hiking, and supporting Curt. I used social media when I had an internet connection to keep up with friends and my responsibilities as President of the Friends of Ruch Library.

Hiking alone in the woods by myself was also a first. Walking 2 to 3-miles daily on local trails wasn’t a problem. Longer hikes presented a bit more of a challenge. First, I had to get used to the quiet. Then there was the expectation of encountering large, furry animals on my own. Deer fine.  The mama bear and her two cubs was another story— especially when they decided to walk toward me. Being directionally challenged, I am always concerned about getting lost. I paid real close attention every time the trail split, carried a whistle, and loaded up with water and snacks. My conclusion, I love hiking but I prefer to hike with Curt. (Grin.) We finished off our adventure by backpacking together in the Three Sisters Wilderness of Oregon.

While waiting for Curt I hiked up the trail toward Castle Crags. It was one of several longer hikes I took.

This wraps up my observations. I was reminded that being back in nature does rebalance the mind. The think time and quiet time when wandering in the woods cannot be matched. There is a good reason that Curt and I are soulmates. So, here’s to our next adventure. I am thinking the PCT in Oregon deserves much more of our attention!

Here I am on the PCT in the Three Sisters Wilderness of Oregon.

A Noble Lake along the PCT… Heading South from Ebbetts Pass

An evening view of the Mokelumne Wilderness from Noble Lake on the PCT.

I remembered Noble Lake from my 2003 trek when I backpacked 360 miles from Lake Tahoe to Mt. Whitney to celebrate my 60th birthday. For some reason, it didn’t seem as ‘noble’ this time. Maybe that’s because of all the other lakes I had passed on my hike down the PCT. But the views looking back toward the Mokelumne Wilderness were spectacular.

An afternoon view of Noble Lake. The lake is located south of Ebbetts Pass.
Another evening view of the Mokelumne Wilderness from Noble Lake. This is a situation where the smoke from the fires may have enhanced the photo.
Looking up from the lake, I caught this mountain glowing in the evening sun.
I was treated to more views of the Mokelumne Wilderness the next morning. It’s fun to think that I had been hiking through the area the previous day.
As I watched, the sun continued to rise, bathing the peaks in a soft glow.
I would have lingered, but Peggy expected me to be at Sonora Pass the next day, and I had miles to go. As I hiked up the early morning trail, I said goodbye to Noble Lake. Would I be back for my 80th birthday? (grin)
Up toward the pass, I was greeted by an old elevation sign. I think it told me I was at 9,980 something feet.
You know you are out West when you come to barbed wire fences. This provided a passage (sort of) that through-hikers could get through, but not cattle. The old shovel head spoke of earlier times.
Looking through the wire, I could see my next destination, the Carson Iceberg Wilderness.
I’ll conclude today’s post with this view. It suggested another smoky day. Within 48 hours, the trail would be closed due to fire.

NEXT POSTS: Time’s limited since I am preparing for the San Francisco Writers’ Conference. I have one more post on this section of the PCT and then Peggy has two posts on her experiences as ‘trail angel.’ I think I will hold on these three posts until after the conference. In the meantime, I will put up some Burning Man eye candy since Peggy and I are hoping to go this year, assuming we can get tickets.

From Etna Summit to Castle Crags: The Photography of Jay Dallen… Backpacking the PCT

This little fellow decided to visit with Jay and landed on his finger. I might add, he did not want to leave. I had experienced this several time in the Marble Mountain Wilderness. I think the butterflies liked the salt on our skin created by sweating our way up and down mountains! (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)


It’s a wrap, as they say in the movie industry. Today is my last post on Etna Summit to Castle Crags, and then I will be moving on to the trek from Castle Crags to Burney Falls. As promised, I am going to feature my nephew Jay’s perspective on the trip, since he hiked the hundred miles with me. He sent some 1400 photos he had taken on his iPhone! I had to increase my Drop Box space to accommodate them all. (grin)

Jay works as a cameraman in Hollywood and has a good eye for photography. (He also works as a director, which is where he wants to end up.) I’ve selected 30 photos from the 1400. I continue to be amazed at the quality that can be achieved with cellphones.

Note: Many of these photos will seem familiar since Jay and I often photographed the same subjects, like the frog, for example.

Jay spotted this frog at a spring and we both took photos of it. I was convinced that it liked to pose. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

This fat caterpillar that was busy devouring leaves also caught our attention. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

An ancient snag was brought into the modern world by a jet contrail streaking across the sky. It’s unlikely that jets, or even propeller-driven airplanes, were invented when it was a youngster. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

This snag entertained us for at least 20 minutes. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

We were both kept busy taking photographs of Mt. Shasta. Jay included me in this one, hat in hand, so to speak. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

A Trinity Alps lake (I believe it is one of the Boulder Lakes) points toward the distant Mt. Shasta.(Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

Trees in shadows can make dramatic photos. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

As does the contrast between light and dark with this snag sculpture being set off by the sun on the grass in the foreground. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

And these shadow trees framing the white snag. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

Sun on the PCT in the foreground and white clouds in the background served to set off the dark forest with its tall pine tree between. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

Shadowy trees add drama to dark clouds as the sun breaks through. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

Sunlight illuminating the green moss helped to light up this photo of a twisted snag. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

Did Jay take as many photos of flowers as I did? Hard to say, but he took plenty. A stark, burned forest provides the backdrop for this columbine closeup. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

Jay spent a lot pf time on his back shooting up. It worked well for these tiger lilies. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

Neither of us could resist the yellow lupine. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

Or the marsh mallows. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

Corn lilies about to bloom… (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

And corn lilies blooming. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

Azaleas. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

And, Bigelow’s sneeze weed. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

“Crest” is the defining word in Pacific Crest Trail, and hiking along the crest can be depended on to provide awe-inspiring views, such as this one in the Trinity Alps. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

And the Castle Crags… (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

Including this ‘Sound of Music’ shot of the Crags. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

A fun tent photo of Jay’s tent. I, too, was carrying a Big Agness tent. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

I’ll conclude with this selfie that Jay took of the two of us with Castle Crags in the background, and… (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

Of himself. (Photograph by Jay Dallen.)

Want more? Jay’s photography can be found at:


Here’s an update for those who are following along on my journey. After finishing the Carson to Sonora Pass section of the PCT, I doubled back to pick up the Granite Chief and Desolation Wilderness section west of Lake Tahoe. I had promised my 13-year-old grandson, Ethan, that I would take him through the area where I had led many 100-mile and 100-kilometer backpack trips in the 70s. We had great fun. Ethan is a real trooper. Unfortunately, he sprained his ankle about 34 miles in and we had to bail. (We were ‘rescued’ by a TV crew, but that is for a later post.)

And how far did we travel? Two of our days included hiking from below the distant peak to where Ethan is standing.