Friday, April 18, 2008


Idyllwild, CA

Dear all-

Reason and I have really been enjoying the comforts of Idyllwild. This is a wonderful little mountain town with enough of a new age bent to provide the raw food blended shakes that Reason so craves! Fortunately, there is a Park Service campground just a block from the action where we have been sleeping for three dollars a night!

The ranks of thru-hikers in residence have thinned. Suntan, Waffles and black lab Mac headed out yesterday after procuring full point crampons and aggressive ice axes from the local outfitter. (While Mac has some cool red doggie boots with Vibram soles to protect his paws in the hot desert, his own claws serve him well on the ice!) Mike and Malani, salmon fishermen from Alaska, are taking an alternate trail and will do their best. They've contacted some of the ranger stations up the trail and figure their chances are good. Zeke, Kate and Leah also took an alternate trail to connect with the PCT later. None of them returned yesterday, so they must be doing alright. Jan, a Purple Heart veteran of two tours in Iraq, was needed at home by his family.

Suntan and Waffles's big talk about five-mile long north-facing 8000 ft plus Fuller Ridge has Reason very excited, and me shaking in my non-Gortex, high-ventilation desert trail shoes. But Suntan and Waffles have lots of winter experience climbing Mt. Shasta, etc., and even they set out with very aggressive equipment. I think they are also only 22! Suntan keeps talking about exercises involving dropping 150 pound duffel bags over ice cliffs and hauling them back up to practice rescue techniques, for example, and has dreams of climbing Everest in three years. I know that I am cramping my husband's sense of adventure, but the truth is that neither one of us has relevant experience. My final argument, that Reason will have to emotionally carry a very apprehensive and frightened Cruiser over that five mile ridge along with his sore knees and his own backpack full of water and six days of food, finally hit home. That would be horrible for both of us!

We have ordered some six-point crampons that should arrive on Saturday. Finding a place to accept UPS packages is quite a chore when you are homeless. We literally canvassed door-to-door until we found a willing participant! Regardless of the advantage that the crampons will give us, we still don't have experience using them. I look forward to gaining winter experience, but now does not seem like a good time to practice. We'll encounter more snow up ahead, but hopefully it will have some time to recede before we get there.

Tomorrow, after we pick up our package, we'll make a road walk to a jeep road that will lead us back to the PCT, bypassing Fuller Ridge. I'd rather walk the next 2,300 miles than take a shortcut 3,000 feet down an icy slope! The other crew of five is headed out today and will do the same.

much love,


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