Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

ON THE LAM

Freeze-dried food, nausea, heat, bugs. Having fun yet?

September 14, 2004|Barbara Egbert | Special to The Times

Barbara Egbert, husband Gary Chambers and their 10-year-old daughter, Mary Chambers, started hiking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail in Mexico on April 8.

Mile 739, Day 52

Mary wakes up feeling queasy and throws up after drinking some water. She still hikes 15 1/2 miles that day.

Two days later, we veer off the Pacific Crest Trail to climb 14,497-foot Mt. Whitney. Mary leads the way up and back, running the last few yards to the top with her father.

We return to the trail and in the next few days trudge on to climb Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT at 13,180 feet. Five more high-altitude passes -- Glen, Pinchot, Mather, Muir and Selden -- exact their own torture: electrical storms, snow flurries, snowfields, rockfalls, rough stream crossings and hordes of mosquitoes.

*

Mile 1,000, Day 72

At one of the more rugged and scenic parts of the trail, we cross from Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows to Sonora Pass. Wilmer Lake sets the standard for mosquito hell. We catch up with other thru-hikers Carol and Brian (Carol's on crutches after breaking her knee at a stream crossing) and Crow and Sherpa (Sherpa's got a shoulder wound after getting whomped by a bear).

*

Mile 1,100, Day 80

A thru-hiker approaches and calls Gary by his trail name: "You must be Captain Bligh!" It's Popsicle, who began the journey with a broken arm. Popsicle says he's been tracking Mary's little footprints for weeks.

*

Mile 1,154, Day 82

All the way through Yosemite, answering nature's call meant providing a blood feast for bugs. We spend the night at Sierra Club's Peter Grubb Hut (Mile 1,157.3), where we instantly become trail specimens: Some women at the hut were wondering what thru-hikers look like when we walk through the door.

*

Mile 1,326, Day 93

We're halfway through. I'm not sure whether I'm ecstatic at how far I've come or depressed at how far I have to get to Canada.

*

Mile 1,348, Day 94

Because of Scrambler (Mary's trail name), we tend to attract a crowd when we stop at resorts or pick up resupply boxes. Parents want to know how a little girl can cope with the rigors of long-distance backpacking. Mary takes it all in stride -- literally and figuratively.

*

Mile 1,417, Day 97

It's our hottest day yet, 107 degrees according to Gary's altimeter/watch. We hike 25 miles to a backpacker camp at Burney Falls in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. We sweat gallons in this heat and scrupulously plan each day around finding water sources. It's almost painful to gaze at the thunderous falls, all that water.

*

Mile 1,472, Day 100

We celebrate our milestone day with a family check-in: Gary's right knee is aching, my feet hurt all the time and Mary is wilting in the heat. Our treat? Freeze-dried beef stroganoff and freeze-dried chocolate cheesecake decadence.

Mile 1,560, Day 106

After a 24-mile day, we can't find water at Scott Mountain Campground in Shasta Trinity National Forest. Luckily a car camper brings us 3 gallons and two peaches. Another camper gives us a mango, and the next morning we get fresh raspberries. Heavenly.

*

Mile 1,630, Day 110

I see three bears next to the trail. This is the first day of bow-hunting season for bears. I meet a man from Acton who claims to have killed a 600-pound bear a few years ago.

*

Mile 1,775, Day 118

Our friend Alex meets us at Highway 140 west of Klamath Falls, Ore., with homemade cookies and new boots for me.

*

Mile 1,825, Day 120

Gary fought nausea yesterday and feels much worse now. Flu? West Nile virus? He staggers into Mazama Village at Crater Lake, Ore., where we have a room reserved. We'll have to take a "zero-mile day."

To be continued ...

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|