Kids Corner 
Today is a two-for-one edition of Kids Corner!

A week ago I took a detour on the trail - that's like if one end of your street is closed and you have to go around a different way to get home. The detour was because somebody discovered a rare (endangered) mountain yellow-legged frog living on part of the trail. To protect the frog, they closed that part of the trail. I didn't see the frog, so I can't tell you what it looked like, can you find one online? This one might be a little tougher to find, good luck!

Also, lately I have been passing by a LOT of wind farms. A wind farm is a placd where GIANT fans are set up to be spun by the wind. This generates electricity for people to use. Have you seen a wind farm near you? Can you find pictures of one online?

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Snow pack 
I'm hearing that snow conditions are not just bad (for hikers) in the Sierra's, but that Northern CA, OR and WA are just not worth skippong ahead to. In previous years skipping ahead was possible because those regions didn't get the same recods snows as the Sierra's. This year it seems Mother Nature was being fair and balanced. As I sit, sunning myself at a Motel 6 pool in Mojave, CA (the pool is ice cold, the wind is almost steadily 20-50mph, and the temperature feels 70) I have the feeling that my best option is to Kennedy Meadows, pick up my packages, and catch a bus/ride someplace to lie on wait for things to melt. Yes, it might be possible to keeo going, but I don't think it would be as enjoyable.

We'll see how things look in a week when I'm at Kennedy Meadows. For now I just wish I had ear plugs - this wind is INTENSE!

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Not your typical desert 
I am at mile 454 in Agua Dulce, CA - a town where the trail literally goes down main street for a few miles. I'm at the Saufley's, a very hiker-friendly Trail Angel home that can accommodate up to 50 hikers. Next to their house they have a nice prefab house with two bedrooms, a bathroom/shower, kitchen and living room. Currently there are 10-15 hikers here and about 9 are in the "house" watching movies and making food. I'll be camped outside on a cot inside one of the pre-setup large tents. I'm not sure if I'm staying another night or just the one.

Since leaving Wrightwood, the desert hasn't exactly been typical. I left Wrightwood with a fellow named Wrong Turn (we've been hiking together for a few days) and when we got to the trailhead there was Fly-By and Sniper (a guy and girl I've been running into for a few days) so the four of us went off together. Here's where things get fun. Around noon we got to the base of Mount Baden-Powell, a snow-covered 9400 foot peak and proceeded to walk up, up, up it. The first 3 miles were your typical switchbacks with occasional snow. The last mile was buried under snow and at that point a "shortcut" was called for that just shot straight up the mountain - a bee-line to the top. The four of us were kicking steps in the ice/snow to make our way up, and relying on pre-kicked steps where possible. It was very tiring but well worth it - the view from the top was AMAZING.

To our south was the Los Angeles basin, completely covered as far as the eye could see in marine layer clouds that were stalled out in the low elevation. Apparently a cold weather system was preventing it from moving along and burning off - the clouds were all below us. In the far distance we could see San Gorgonio in the San Bernadino's (where we had come from a few days earlier).

That night, we found ourselves at a campground full of boy scouts, hikers, and PCT hikers. In the morning we found that same campsite full of ice and snow. During the night we got completely iced over and then a layer of snow thrown on top! In the desert! Well, the "high desert" specifically. That day we hiked together in the freezing rain and snow, hoping to eventually find the sun or an elevation that would be warmer. As always, the trail provides, and we came across an empty public campground... where one of a dozen fire pits happened to be smoking... and next to it was a stack of pre-cut wood... and a packet of bacon... and sausage. Our guess is that bad weather drove the campers off and in their haste they left all of this for us. So we brought the fire back to life, dried out our shoes/socks, cooked up the meat, and made ourselves at home. Eventually the sun came out and we were able to fully dry off and revive. What are the odds?

I hiked a few more days with Wrong Turn while Sniper hitch-hiked (with Fly-By) to a doctor to have her shin-splints looked at. Wrong Turn and I put up with more rain, freezing cold winds (40-60 mph), and very little sun. The desert is full of water and ice now. Last night we stayed at a KOA Campground and had chinese food delivered (we're spoiled), the night before we were camped on a bluff above a highway near a Ranger's Station.

In my next stretch of trail, between here and Mojave, CA, 110 miles away, I will be crossing the ... well, Mojave Desert. Typically the 20-30 mile stretch is done as a night hike to avoid the heat, but this year is so cold and wet that it just might be acceptable to hike during the day. I'll see when I get there.

My big logistical task is still to figure out what I'm doing about the Sierra's. I'm definitely leaning towards jumping ahead and coming back. Glenn, I'll give you a call tonight to talk about meeting up. I don't have cell reception, but the Saufley's provide a free phone for us hikers to use so look for an unfamiliar phone number in your caller ID.

Feet, shoes, gear, attitude, appetite, and health are all holding up just fine. I'm still doing 25+ miles a day and staying ahead of the pack - and meeting new hikers every day.

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Kids Corner 
Not to scare the adults, but it's time to talk about bears. For 370 miles I have not had to worry about a single bear - they simply no longer inhabit Souther California like they used to - but apparently a few have been sighted in the area I am now hiking. It's nothing for a hiker to worry about, but can you find out what a black bear looks like? Many of you might have them where you live too. For extra credit, take a look at grizzly bears too. They don't live in California anymore, but they can still be found in other areas.

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Mile 370 - Wrightwood 
Walked over the San Andreas Fault yesterday, after spending a few hours relaxing at a McDonalds. What?! Yup, that's the PCT for you, fast food one minute, slow continental drift the next.

I'm in Wrightwood, CA, a small town on the San Andreas Fault and at the base of some very tall mountains. Mt Baden-Powell is next door and has a lot of snow on it at this moment. I'm still walking through desert, forest, forest + snow, forest, desert, repeat and will be at least a few more days - I don't believe snow will be on the trail after Mt Baden-Powell.

Town is small and condensed, so it's easy to get around and find what you need. I might actually stay in town and take a "zero day" (no hiking) because I'm once again nursing a sprained ankle. Darn right foot just loves to keep rolling underneath me. Coincidentally (or not?) only my right foot has suffered from some early blister problems that have now subsided and are on the mend. It's all good.

For those of you not aware, I am hoping to pick up some sign-language on the trail and bought a bunch of waterproof index cards with signs printed on them. I then had my co-workers write comments on them, but never read any of them. Andrea has just sent me my first batch of cards and I have to say the comments are making me laugh. Nice shoes, Becky. ;) Ed, I actually DO wish I was on my bicycle (save my ankle the trouble of spraining itself). Thanks!

I am currently considering my options for the Sierra's, since they are about 3 weeks away. I might tackle the snow and swollen river crossings, I might skip ahead to the Lake Tahoe area and hike to Canada then come back when everything is melted, or I might take a few weeks off and wait for things to melt more. Right now I am WAY ahead of the main pack of hikers, and I am going to hit the Sierra's way too early for most people, and I am not one to just slow down or take time off. It's awfully tempting to jump ahead and come back later.

Well, time to get rolling. There's eating to do. Oh, and the toilet in my motel room refuses to flush properly, so I'm trying to fix that (it's some really weird low-flow shelf retrofitted into the water reservoir area, definitely not your standard setup). :)

Oh, Rob W, I fully expect there to be evidence that you've been riding my bike while I'm gone! I want to see that the seat and handlebars have been adjusted to your dimensions!

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