The Sierra Club hike this weekend was to a really great place called Pine Mountain Lodge. It's a great destination for a backpack. The trail is steep and climbs up to over 5000ft elevation. Up there are pine, big cone spruce, cedar and manzanita. Also snow. There's no longer a lodge, but a long time ago there was a hunting lodge. There are Chumash cave paintings, but they've almost completely flaked off the rocks and the last remaining bits are adhered to flakes that look ready to fall.
I had my backpack all packed with the plan to hike in with the Sierra Club and then camp out. But I changed my mind.
It kind of bummed me out to think about hiking up with the Sierra Club and then having them all wave good-bye at 1:00 or 2:00 and then sitting around twiddling my thumbs for the rest of the afternoon, listening to that lonely whispering sound in the pines. The Man wasn't even going to go on the day hike and just thinking about how he seemed to be believing he'd never go hiking again, I just didn't want to sit up there all alone trying to figure out if I wanted to be married to an invalid.
So instead I decided to do the full day hike. It would be more exercise for the day. All the fun hikers that I like would be there. We'd all go out to the Deer Lodge for beer and burgers afterward. It just seemed like more fun. So just before I was almost ready to go, I decided to do the full day hike instead of the backpack and informed The Man. So what does he do but throw on his hiking clothes and come with me.
So there we are, hiking this super steep trail and he's way out in front of everybody. Someone asked if I'd like to get ahead and try and catch up to him, as if I could. When I finally found him, he says, "Look at you, you can't even keep up with an old man with a heart condition." Good for him. I mean here he was thinking he'd drop dead any second and now suddenly he's hiking and thinking himself strong and healthy, and he's happy and smiling and having a good time. I told him Ray Jardine says your legs are like a second heart so as long as you keep walking, it doesn't matter if your heart stops every now and then. Your legs will keep the blood moving. He laughed and thought maybe that would work. His heart is healthy as a horse, but has an electrical short that causes it to beat strangely and then stop beating for a few seconds.
I hiked most of the way wearing Crocs. There are three deep creek crossings right at the start of the trail. So I brought Crocs to wear, thinking I'd just put my shoes on when I finished those three crossings. I decided what the heck, I'd see how far I could hike wearing Crocs. I hiked all the way to Pine Mountain Lodge in them, even in the snow. They're not very good in snow. All the holes let the snow in. I put my regular shoes on for the way down but once we got to a creek crossing in the middle of the way down that also was a wet one, I put the Crocs on and completed the rest of the trail in them. I can see why some people hike the PCT in Crocs. They're pretty comfortable. My feet felt a little sore after a while though. I'm not sure why.
So even though I didn't camp out, I got in a good hike to a beautiful place and had a good time. The trail is called the Gene Marshall Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail. I told The Man we ought to thru-hike it some weekend. Park a car at both ends and hike through from a Saturday to a Sunday. I kept joking on the way down the trail how all these years I had only section hiked the Gene Marshall trail. I kept making jokes about how Team TrailPiper, or is it Team PiperHacker is going to thru-hike the Gene Marshall trail. Maybe we'd continue on all the way to Bakersfield where I'd be required to comb my bangs so they stick straight up and he'd have to put on a cowboy hat just to be allowed in. Then The Man started wondering if you could walk from Santa Barbara through Bakersfield and over to the PCT. That would be funny. It's nice he's thinking about hiking again.
I'm trying to decide if he doesn't return to the PCT this spring, should I try hiking from Highway 74 south to the Kickoff? I'm not planning to go to the Kickoff, but it would be an easy way to maybe get a ride back to my car and have a little fun. Or if The Man does return to the trail, I could try to get some 4-day weekends and do bits of the So Cal PCT while he's out there.