Saturday, April 14, 2012

14 April ~ Hiking and Concocting "American porridge"

Charles here. That's Seano, there. We were just assembling breakfasts for our nine days while it is raining and snowing a little outside. Some of this breakfast we're mailing ahead to ourselves. The rest we're carrying.
Here's Seano helping me assemble 27 breakfasts (9 days x 3 men).
It was back in 1991 when Sean and I were working on the first scientific survey of uninhabited Henderson Island in the far reaches of the Southeast Pacific that my oatmeal got dubbed "American Porridge" by our intrepid expedition leader (and world-renowned boffo ornithologist), Dr. Michael D. L. Brooke of Cambridge University. For some reason he objected to my presenting this as "porridge" -- and was quite sure it was not porridge. If it was anything, it was "American Porridge" -- since I was adding walnuts, raisins, coconut, cinnamon, brown sugar, milk and butter (and a dash of salt). Six days of this we're carrying to Warner Springs, 110 miles along the trail. At WS we'll pick up mail packages, including the breakfasts that will take us up out of the chapparal- and sage scrub-covered Peninsular Ranges and into the Transverse Ranges -- with pines and snow and rocky Mt. Jacinto. There at Idyllwild we'll have more dried milk and fuel to pick up -- and more breakfasts and suppers to assemble (but they have supermarkets there).

Today "Mouse" phoned -- Matthew Zion -- and asked us if we'd like to get in a hike before we fly out. Our first hike with a fellow PCT-hiker!! (yay).  He's a former student of mine, but he's no kid. He's a Navy veteran, and a veteran of the AT (Appalachian Trail) and the CT (Colorado Trail) the latter of which he yoyo'd (hiked out and back 1200 miles) last summer. We bumped into him on the CT while we were section hiking last year. While he was in my class a year ago at university, I'd pick his brain like mad since we were both planning separately this year's big PCT hike.

"Mouse" (Matthew Zion) and Charles at Chautauqua Park
Mouse is just getting over an IT band injury that's on the mend. He can't get out to start the trail, however, until the semester finishes around May 10 -- about three weeks after us. We're attending KO, so that will knock us off by a few days. I'm guessing we'll have a 275- or 300-mile lead on Mouse when he starts, but that he'll catch us up in no time -- he's fast and light (a master of UL backpacking) and a consummate athlete.

Spring is thoroughly sprung all around us: sand lilies, wild plum, golden currants, wax currants, white, purple, and yellow violets, columbine, mountain candytuft, chickweed, endless Oregon grape, chokecherry just about to blossom, wild apple a riot of pink/white blossoms, etc. 

Today's hike was a breeze -- the four of us hiked and chatted, and we moved along at a pretty good pace -- and we ended up shaving off 30 minutes from what it usually takes us (so, 13 miles in 4 hrs). And that's counting a fifteen minute dawdle at Eldorado Canyon Creek while I soaked my feet, washed my socks, and slurped the delicious artesian water. Four hours? WTF? I've been more than two weeks out of commission with bronchitis (zero exercise), and Sean and Christo have been snowed under with writing, and packing, and logistical stuff. In fact, Christo had to get back to the car to get to work, so he and Seano headed out before I was done at the creek, and Mouse and I came along afterwards. Christo and Seano managed the round trip in 3 hrs. 40 minutes -- a 50-minute improvement on their best time previously. Geez. We must be getting even stronger. Our legs feel just fine tonight -- and our feet aren't hammered.

But the movers come in two days. So tomorrow, all righteousness must be fulfilled. And then we attend Chris's graduation party at his parents' house (double yay). He'll be wearing his graduation gifts from us, including a 2200-year-old Dionysos silver tetradrachma mounted as a necklace. We're pretty sure Dionysos is Christo's patron Greek god. If I told you how many times we came home to find Christo with grapes and grape leaves woven into his hair, sans toga, reaching to pour us the fruit of the vine from a goatskin ... well, you just wouldn't believe us. But those of you who get to meet him on the PCT will. Oh you will. :-)

Six days from now we're on the plane. Wowie.

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