Archive for March, 2011

March 19, 2011- Completed Sunrise Highway to Warner Springs, CA

A late post on that section, but better late than never.  I am actually back in NJ now, briefly, and Li An is back in the Netherlands trying to sort out her visa.  I have hundreds of trees here to get shipped out to their various new homes, and some more plans to make for our upcoming much more extensive hike starting in April.

Last weeks shakedown hike from sunrise highway to Warner Springs was excellent.  Again, the weather was ideal; sunny, warm, windy.  At night there was an early waxing moon to brush one’s teeth by, and late night starry sky intermissions from the many bizzare and wonderful dreams that come from sleeping on the ground.  The lay of the land there is mostly ridges and steep gullies, but the trail, frustratingly at times, takes no chances and tends to wind and wind and wind and o yes wind some more just slightly off contour either up or down.  After nearly thirty miles of walking I checked my GPS and found I was 7.6 crow miles from where I had camped two nights prior.  Yikes.  Especially since water is so scarce.  I set out with a gallon, and dry camped both nights, very VERY thankful that the water cache trail angels are already at work.  This is a rugged, granitic bouldery, steep, and yes Beautiful land.  Without a good trail though, the Chamise (Adeonstoma fasciculatum), Ceanothus greggii, and scrub oak (Quercus spp) would be near impossible to travel through.  Coming slowly down out of a repetitive Chamise chapparal landscape one enters into creosote bush (Larrea tridentata)  shrubland, and eventually down below 2500′ and onto the south face slope of Grapevine Mt past Scissors Crossing where you really get into the xeriphytic desert landscape, if only briefly.  To greet us, as only cacti can, there were barrel cacti in full bloom, Opuntias of various sizes and dispositions, Agave, Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens ssp splendens), and of course Joshua Tree’s disheveled older brother Mohave Yucca (Yucca schidigera)…I digera that name, how about you, you digera??

It was gorgeous, but the heat is already turning up there, and spring will flash past quick as the thermostat soon gets set stuck on triple digits.  This was the brief taste of Anza Borrego State Park I was hoping for, and was happy to see some desert blooms without the threat of myself bursting into flames.

Following on from that the trail regains altitude, enters back into chapparal, before dipping again into some ancient Coast Live Oak woodlands (Quercus agrifolia), clear and cool streams, and some very large meadows where the Lasthynia’s were blooming in mass.

Again I am impressed by the shear diversity of not just the plants we are encountering on this trail, but the varied landscapes and vegetation communities we are passing through.

I would also like to say that my homegrown (on oak logs), home dried shiitake mushrooms are absolutely Making the spaghetti dinners for me.  All hail the mycelial network!




March 10, 2011 – back in Pomona, CA

Just returned from hiking our first 120 miles (193 km) and 7.5 days on the PCT. We started in Aqua Dulce (with the famous Vasquez Rocks) with amazing oak trees, through Antelope Valley along the infamous Los Angeles Aqueduct (from the Owens River Valley) with jolly Joshua trees jangling and radiating, through the desert with many flowering plants, past the thousands of wind turbines yesterday to Tehachapi pass where we got a ride back to our car with one of the Regen community members where we sleep now in Pomona LA. We had excellent weather, nice and sunny but cool, and plenty of water. Feeling alive meeting all the elements and the other-than-human life forms and with feeling all the muscles in my body.

Thankful already for the many trail angels along our way (from the Trish of the hardware shop, the oasis cache, the people who gave us water, Amy and Andrew who gave us a hitch into and out of Lake Hughes, Garage Man and Pound Hound for sharing us their stories and candybars, Bob at Hikertown for the food, Lisa who picked us at Hwy 58 and above all the five coyotes showing themselves right when we started hiking and the little white owl flying a circle above our head when we had finished.

Now back at the Regen Co-op in Pomona LA enjoying picking and eating fresh oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, shower, more goodies, while Justin is keying the plants we collected and I applied online for my 6 month visa needed for the real thing starting in April. We’ll keep you posted and you can sign up for this blog, you can also find Story the Walk on Facebook now.

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March 2, 2011 – Pomona, CA

Well, after some deliberation and changing of plans we have decided to make our first short shake down hike on the PCT through the Antelope Valley in the western corner of the Mojave Desert.  There is still snow up above about 5000 feet (the ranger station at Idyllwild said as much as 6-8 feet when we called.  So we will be largely staying below about 4000 feet, and actually the section we will be doing is mostly along the Los Angeles Aquaduct.  It won’t be the most exciting or scenic part but it will be good to have it done now when the weather is still relatively cool and the sun is not blazing away.   It should also serve as a good place to refine our methodology for the plant survey work.  Come May when we pass by that way again we will be glad then to have that part done already.

The past two days we traveled down  from San Francisco to Pomona, ride sharing with two Craigslisters,  and have been guests here at the Regenerative Cooperative of Pomona, where my brother lives when he is not in Kenya volunteering with Doctors without Borders.  Our packs saddled with dumpster delights, bellies full of fresh baked banana bread and banana smoothies (guess what we found a lot of at Trader Joe’s last night), we head out…

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