Peggy and I were sitting in our library downing an English muffin and a bowl of fruit on Friday morning when a movement outside caught my attention. A fox was climbing our eight-foot deer fence after a Stellar jay that was hassling it. Once again we found ourselves in a zoo looking out from our comfortable cage. The fox climbed down, made its way through our shrub garden, and climbed under the fence. I took this photo right after it climbed under the fence.
Given its reddish color, my first thought was red fox, but its black capped grey tail and climbing ability quickly identified it as a grey fox. Grey foxes are the only ones that climbs trees (and apparently deer fences). They have even been known to raise their families in tree dens high above the ground. We catch glimpses of them occasionally on our property but normally they are secretive. One time, we watched a doe stalk one, following along behind, carefully raising and placing each hoof. That was neat.
My guess is that they have a den (or dens) on our property. The male and female raise the kits together. For the first couple of weeks the mother tends to her babies while the male hunts and supplies food. Our experience is that they form a close bond. A few years ago a fox was run over on the highway below our property. Each night we would hear its partner howling down on the road. Only when I went down and buried the fox did the howling end.
Having enjoyed the fox, it was only appropriate that we would see a coyote as well. We met up with it last week as we were hiking in the forest behind our house. It seemed as curious about us as we were about it.
This is hot off the press, and it isn’t about Covid-19. Woohoo! I was skimming through Apple News this morning and I came across an article that bumble bees bite plants. How could I not read the article? Had the plants somehow irritated the bees. Was there a bee-plant war going on? No, there wasn’t a war. The bees depend on the pollen from the plants for their survival. But they were irritated. The plants weren’t blooming and providing the pollen. So the bees bit the plants to speed up the process. Apparently it cuts two to three weeks off the wait period. I rushed outside to see if I could spot a bumble bee biting a plant. No luck, the flowers were already blooming. I did catch a couple of photos of bumble bees harvesting pollen, however. I conclude my post with them. Bzzzzzzz.
NEXT POSTS: Tomorrow I’ll take you window shopping in Venice. Thursday: Part 2 of nature tales. Among other things, you will meet a Buddhist lizard.
I am continuing to dip back into my archives for armchair travel in the time of Covid-19. This is my third post in a series of five on Venice where Peggy and I travelled in 2013.
Remember the old Frank Sinatra hit song “Love and Marriage Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage.” Venice’s canals and gondolas are like that. It is hard to imagine one without the other. Also, it is hard to imagine gondolas without tourists. I suspect that most of them are docked in this time of Covid-19. In fact, satellite photos show the canals to be surprisingly clean. Even jellyfish have returned to take advantage of the tourist free waters! While Venetians may miss the tourist dollars, they, too, are appreciating their tourist free city. The government is searching for ways to reduce the dependence on tourist dollars— and the number of tourists. Gondolas aren’t about to go away, but there may be far fewer of them in the future.
It is impossible to think of Venice without thinking of canals and romantic gondolas with singing gondoliers. Or possibly your vision of Venice is of fast boats with roaring engines and good guys/bad guys chasing each other with guns blazing as depicted in any number of movies.
We were in off-season, however. Only a few hardy tourists braved the cold for gondola rides and no movies were being made. The canals had reverted to their primary role as transportation corridors, a role which they have played for a thousand years.
We chose to walk on the carless streets that parallel the canals and cross over them on bridges that have as much personality of the canals and provide intriguing glimpses of life along the canals. The highlight of our journey was the famous Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal but the smaller canals, known as rivers, provided more intimate views.
I often think about how are lives are impacted by robots. Peggy and I even have one of the small vacuum cleaners that runs around and cleans our floors and carpets. We call her, Robota. As I grow older, I look more fondly on the robots of the future. In 10 or 15 years from now when the world decides my driving leaves a bit to be desired, I am hoping there is a self-driving car sitting in my yard or readily available to zip me around to where I want to go. Next stop, Grand Canyon. Then there is the downside. Maybe when robots are given quantum computer brains, they will decide we aren’t necessary. I seriously doubt that they will approve of our ‘pulling their plugs,’ under any circumstances.
Aliens are another matter. Maybe they are already here. I’ve blogged several times about the UFO I saw over Sacramento circa 1968. If there are aliens, it seems obvious to me that they would show up at Burning Man. Think about it: a remote desert where it is easy to disguise yourself and people don’t care if you are an alien. Each year there are a number of candidates.
Flying saucers aren’t unheard of in the Black Rock Desert. One year we even had one crash.
Enough on Invaders from Outer Space. My next post will feature invaders from Russia.
When I first ventured out onto the Playa on my 2010 visit to Burning Man, I was immediately drawn to a large sculpture of a nude woman that struck me as being beautiful and full of life. The sculpture, I learned was titled Bliss Dance and had been created by the Bay Area artist Marco Cochrane based on his model, the dancer Deja Solis. Bliss Dance would go from Burning Man to Treasure Island next to San Francisco and is now on permanent exhibition in Las Vegas. Here’s what Cochrane had to say during the unveiling of the sculpture in Las Vegas:
What I see missing in the world is an appreciation and respect for feminine energy and power that results when women are free and safe. It seems obvious to me that feminine energy is being suppressed and that this must change. If we are to find real, lasting solutions to the problems facing humanity, men and women must be able to work together as equals. Bliss Dance is intended to focus attention on this issue.— Marco Cochrane, Feb. 2016 press release
This sentiment also applies to the two other sculptures that Cochrane created for Burning Man as part of a trilogy: Truth Is Beauty in 2013 and R-Evolution in 2015. I consider myself privileged to have been at Burning Man on each of these years. Truth Is Beauty is now on permanent exhibit overlooking the BART station in San Leandro, California.
An 18-foot rendition of Truth Is Beauty and several other art works from Burning Man were recently on display at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in Washington DC. An introduction to the exhibit stated:
Burning Man, one of the most influential events in contemporary art, is both a cultural movement and a thriving temporary city of more than 70,000 people that rises out of the dust for a single week each year in late summer in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. During that time, enormous experimental art installations are erected, some of which are then ritually burned to the ground. The desert gathering is a uniquely American hotbed of artistic ingenuity, driving innovation through its philosophies of radical self-expression, community participation, rejection of commodification and reverence for the handmade.
Nora Atkinson, the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft at The Renwick went on to say this about the exhibit’s title: No Spectators
“‘No Spectators’ is a long-standing saying on Playa. You are encouraged to fully participate. It’s all about being there, being fully present, and not just observing. Two of the ten principles of Burning Man are radical participation and radical inclusivity, meaning that there are no outsiders. Everyone is part of the experience.”
If both of these statements seem a bit familiar, they reflect what I have been saying about Burning Man art and Burning Man in my posts over the last several years. In ways, I believe that Burning Man has been fostering a mini-renaissance in art and is now being recognized world-wide for its contributions.
R-Evolution, the last of Cochrane’s trilogy was actually scheduled to be exhibited on the National Mall in Washington DC between the Washington Monument and the White House. The group responsible for moving and installing the sculpture had written to me and asked for permission to use photos from my blog in a documentary it was preparing for the exhibit. The exhibit was cancelled. It may have been that the idea of a giant nude on the mall was too controversial. Anyway, here is one of my favorite photos of the sculpture:
Peggy (my wife) says what she loves about sculpture is that it is three dimensional art that you can touch and feel as well as see. One of her favorite things about Burning Man is that the art has an up-close and personal aspect, a hands on policy. Most museums have a hands-off policy. The three dimensional aspect of sculpture also has great appeal to me. I believe that that you should be able to appreciate sculpture from any angle. I’ll use the concluding photos on this post to further look at the three sculptures.
BLISS DANCE AT BURNING MAN 2010
TRUTH IS BEAUTY AT BURNING MAN 2013.
R-EVOLUTION AT BURNING MAN 2015
That’s it for today. NEXT POST: UFO’s, aliens, and a giant robot at Burning Man.
You can blame Leonardo for today’s post. That’s Leonardo as in Leonardo Da Vinci. I was reading Walter Isaacson’s magnificent biography about him on Monday and he attributed Da Vinci’s genius to “an omnivorous curiosity, which bordered on the fanatical, and an acute power of observation that was eerily intense.” So that’s what it takes to be a genius, I thought, and determined to test the theory by curiously observing my surroundings in an intense, eerie way. A large toad stared back at me. A sometimes doorstop, sometimes bookend frog was lying down on the job. I don’t know if my I.Q. jumped, but I did observe that weird things were hanging out in our home. I decided it was a subject worthy of a blog post.
Who is weirder than Bone? You’ve all met him if you follow this blog. This past summer he hiked down the PCT with me. And of course he loves Burning Man. He has traveled to over 50 countries with people on adventures that have ranged from being blessed by the Pope to deep sea diving. There is much more. What you may not know about Bone, however, is that when he is at our house and isn’t carousing with his wife Bonette or the jackass Eeyore, he likes to hang out on a pedestal.
Many of the ‘strange’ art pieces found in our home reflect that both Peggy and I like so-called ‘primitive’ art. Like children’s art, it carries a level of creativity and even power that is lost as children and cultures ‘grow up’ and lose their connection with nature, “omnivorous curiosity,” and “acute power of observation.” The mola at the top of the post was obtained by Peggy in Panama from an indigenous tribe. A number of modern artists such as Picasso have used primitive art for inspiration.
Our kids, recognizing our quirkiness, have contributed some of the weird things but I am usually the target. Mom gets more practical things, like chocolate.
Much of what we have simply reflects our own unique brand of quirkiness and can be found outside of our home as well as inside.
There are more, lots more in fact, but you get the idea. And that leads me to a question: What strange things hang out at your house?
I drove into the Pleasant Valley Campground near Tillamook, Oregon and there were bunnies everywhere, including this magnificent creature.
With Easter having arrived, I couldn’t resist re-blogging/modifying a post I did on some really cute bunnies a while back.
I had stopped over in Tillamook, Oregon to visit the cheese factory. It sends out tons of the stuff annually. I assume all over the world. I watched women whip around 50 pound blocks of cheese like they had been working out with Arnold Schwarzenegger. This made me hungry, so I ordered a sample plate of Tillamook ice cream. Bad idea. It’s really good. I mean really, really good. But eating all of those calories made me tired. It was time to find a campground.
And this is where the bunnies came in. I pulled into Pleasant Valley Campground, a few miles south of Tillamook, and was greeted by (drum roll please) RABBITS, dozens of them. There were black ones, and brown ones, and white ones, all of whom seemed to be chasing each other around in a glorious romp to make more bunnies. After all, isn’t that what rabbits do beside deliver Easter eggs?
Ignoring the obvious, for the moment, I asked the owner where all the rabbits came from. “Oh they used to live across the street,” she informed me. “One day, a few moved over here. They didn’t do any harm and the campers seemed to like them. So I let them stay.” The rest is history, as they say. Anyway, here are some photos I took of the rabbits. Enjoy.
I am going for the “awww” factor with this baby bunny.
This was only a few of the rabbits, but it makes the point.
This furry gal was napping when I snuck up on her, but then, her eyes popped open…
And she was all wiggly ears and twitchy nose.
It rained hard that night. I discovered I had several rabbits using my van as shelter. The step is my doorstep. My flashlight caught their eyes. Scary. Was it a case of when good bunnies go bad?
Nah. I’ll finish off with another baby bunny. It was cold out and this tyke looks cold. I almost invited it into my van to warm up.
I don’t know how many of these bunnies participate in delivering Easter Eggs, but any of them would be welcomed here! A very Happy Easter to our friends throughout the blogging world— Curt and Peggy
The Burning Man Organization, BMO, works hard to insure that the mutant vehicles that wander across the Playa and through Black Rock City are both creative and safe. The process starts with an application from Burners who want to bring a mutant vehicle to the annual event. A photo or detailed drawing of the vehicle must accompany the application. A committee then reviews the applications for originality and safety. Numbers are strictly limited. Burning Man is primarily a walking/bicycling event. Upon arrival the mutant vehicle must check in with the Department of Mutant Vehicles, DMV, and pass a safety inspection before receiving a license. Vehicles that shoot out fire must pass even more stringent requirements.
I am wrapping up my series on Burning Man’s mutant vehicles today. There are, after all, another 14 categories of photos from my 11 years of attending the far-out happening in Nevada’s remote Black Rock Desert. Being last, however, does not mean least. Most of these simply didn’t fit into the groups I created. Take this eye, for example.
Well, enough on body parts, already. I’ve written a fair amount about steampunk at Burning Man, especially as it applies to mutant vehicles. Here’s a couple more.
Burning Man constantly throbs with the sound of heavy metal music. I always carry sound makers to reduce its impact on my beauty rest. A number of large venues are found throughout Black Rock City. Mutant vehicles carry on the tradition out on the Playa. Whenever one stops to whip out the tunes, Burners gather around to dance. There’s no question about the intention of the boom box mutant vehicle. Large speakers are another sure guarantee that loud music is about to happen.
With music rolling across the Playa, it’s not surprising that there was also a bar. This one was hauled by an old tractor.
What if Picasso made it to Burning Man. The first mutant vehicle below might be what he would create. The second would be more likely to be found among the ‘primitive’ painters who were inspired by the South Pacific and exotic tropical islands.
Big things come in small packages, as the diamond merchants like to remind us, over and over.
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 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?)
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.
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.
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!
Curt knew I would be nervous without detailed planning of trails, mileage, rendezvous points, and alternatives. With 50 years of backpacking experience including planning, organizing and leading backpack treks for 30, he is something of an expert on the subject. Having a GPS/Spot Gen 3 tracker along was a new experience for him, however. He could upload his location each night via satellite and I could track his progress on my maps. He could also use Spot to signal for emergency help if needed and carried a cell phone, which he could use in the rare times he had cell service or if he had to hike out for some reason.
Then there was the unexpected— lack of water, smoke, fire, and possible injuries on the trail plus my challenges on the road of finding campgrounds and spaces near trailheads, power outages, limited cell service, and RV repair issues.
The first part of the trek introduced us to water shortages! Following mountain ridges over much of its length, the PCT is noted for its limited supply. The mild winter of 2017-18 with its lack of snow fall in the Siskiyous, Cascades and Sierras made it worse. Streams that would normally have been running through July were dry. Springs were sometimes a mere trickle. Even though we had downloaded the most recent information from the PCT site on water sources, the situation was changing rapidly. Our first day on the trail from Mt. Ashland proved the point.
We had planned a 10-mile day since it was our first day out. There had been sufficient water over the first seven miles. It wasn’t the case when we came to our planned camp site. Curt parked me in a pleasant location and took our water bottles down into the canyon where a stream was located. And came back empty. The stream was dry. “The map shows that there’s a spring in about a quarter of a mile off on a side road,” he announced. “We can camp there.” I loaded my pack and away we went. The spring was also dry. Have I mentioned that I was getting grumpy? Our options now appeared to be hiking three miles back or three miles ahead on the trail. “Let’s try farther down the canyon,” he suggested as a third alternative. I dutifully followed along. Fortunately, we hit water in a half mile. Curt’s experience with all-things-woodsy had paid off. The creek, by the way, was the headwaters of the Applegate River, which runs past our front yard.
We had just set up our tent when crashing thunder announced a deluge. I made it inside dry. Curt came in soaked. Mother Nature was having fun at our expense!
The greatest surprise and challenge was fire and smoke. The thought of making a fast exit ahead of a fire was always on our minds, but smoke was the main problem. Curt’s many years of working with the American Lung Association had educated him to the danger. “Wildfire smoke can be extremely harmful to the lungs, especially for children, older adults and those with asthma, COPD and bronchitis or a chronic heart disease or diabetes,” ALA warns. “I resemble one of those categories,” Curt said. Older people are to stay inside and avoid strenuous exercise. Ha!
Fires started to impact the plan as soon as Castle Crags and smoke changed the trail plan totally in Chester when we couldn’t see a hundred yards into the forest. As Curt has shared on his blog, he had to alter his journey to avoid the worst of smoke and fire. Was I worried? Yes! The most difficult situation encountered was at Sonora Pass. I awoke the morning I was to meet him there to learn that a new fire had started on the far side of the pass. As I waited, I watched the smoke billowing from the fire grow larger and larger. When Curt hadn’t arrived several hours after I expected him, I became quite concerned. Fortunately, a long skinny fellow with the trail name of Bone came hiking up to our RV.
“You must be Peggy,” he said. When I responded yes, he told me that he had passed my missing buddy on the trail. Curt had asked him to pass on the information that he was fine and should be along in an hour or two. Much relieved, I settled in to wait and invited Bone to charge his cell phone in our van and have a cold beer. After Curt’s safe arrival (he tells the story in his blog), we drove to an RV campground for the night and learned that the pass and the PCT trail had been closed after we left!
While Curt was facing challenges out on the trail, I also had my share doing back up. As I mentioned earlier, I’d had lots of experience in camping with the RV. But I was a newbie at camping alone. Fires and lightning caused outages at campgrounds and RV parks, cell phone service was often spotty, And Quivera, our RV, demanded attention. Internal lights, the awning, and the air conditioning unit all had issues.
Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. We’d just find a shop that serviced RVs. But the local shops had a common response: “If you have a problem, call 30 days in advance for a reservation.” Does anyone else see a problem here? Repairs were up to me. Fine. The awning jammed, my solution? U-tube! I fixed it. Internal lights out? I read the manual, rewired the one I needed to read by and decided to let the other three go. AC servicing: well, other than pumping out playa dust from Burning Man— a forever problem— it was still working. Why worry?
There was a good ending to my efforts to find an RV service shop. I stopped by Camping World in Rockland near Sacramento and talked with the service staff. One of them walked out with me, confirmed that I would need to replace the awning eventually but told me bungee cords were a great temporary solution. He then replaced all the lights for me. Last but not least, he told me how to flush the AC with a hose. There was no charge for his good advice and help!
Next up: I will talk about the help that was generously offered to me along the way and a unique way of communicating with Curt: The Trekker Telegraph. Bone was a good example.
When Curt first shared that he wanted to celebrate his 75thbirthday hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail, I was not surprised. He has 50 years of backpacking experience and loves wandering in the woods. Then he added the 1000-mile goal. That surprised me! There were so many questions. Reading about the challenges faced by Bill Bryson in A Walk in the Woodsand Cheryl Strayed in Wildadded more. Their combined ages when they started their adventures was less than Curt’s. The conversations and planning began.
The first question was, can we (yes, we) physically do this? I had every intention of joining Curt on the trail whenever possible. He had introduced me to backpacking in 1980 and I, too, had fallen in love with the sport. But there was this age thing— for both of us. I’m 68, a child bride perhaps from Curt’s perspective, but not in the reality of miles traveled in life. Off we went for a week’s backpacking trial run on the 40-mile Rogue River Trail. Other than Curt falling down a cliff (well, only 20 feet head first) after his trekking pole collapsed, suffering minimal damage to his arm, and bouncing back on the trail, it was a beautiful adventure and a confirmation that we could still backpack longer distances with a bit of practice and preparation.
The next question was how much could I backpack with Curt and still provide support along the way? I was to be his ‘trail angel’ in PCT lingo. I’d be driving our 22’ Pleasure Way RV/van as the support vehicle. We had been traveling in it for years sharing driving responsibilities, so I was confident I could manage. It was to be my first solo trip, however! My job included carrying three months of food and other backpacking necessities and resupplying Curt between trail segments. There was the fine print of course— and other duties as required (grin).One was that I’d greet Curt with a big smile, a hug, and a cold beer when he came off each segment. Given that my young/old husband had survived another 70 to 100 miles of backpacking through the wilderness over challenging terrain, the smiles and hugs were really easy! My presence would also offer a comfortable break from the trail and provide the flexibility of changing mileage, timelines, and length of breaks if needed. It was an advantage that few PCT hikers have. Curt is spoiled rotten, what can I say.
Realistically, I would not be able to backpack much of the way without someone moving the van from Point A to Point B. However, we could backpack the first segment together from Mt. Ashland to Seiad Valley which would be a great confidence builder for both of us. The rest we would figure out on the run! Once we hiked into Seiad Valley, 6 days and 60 miles later, I was assured Curt could do anything he put his mind to! (So could I.) Still, waving goodbye to him as he left Seiad Valley on his first solo segment up through the Marble Mountains was hard. “If you don’t come out, Curt, I am coming in after you,” I told him and meant it. He had looked nervous and said, “Call Tony first.” I am geographically challenged when it comes to finding my way around in the woods. Tony is our Coast Guard pilot son who has participated in numerous rescue operations.
NEXT POST: When the unexpected happens along the PCT. Peggy’s perspective: Part 2.
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