Tuesday, July 30, 2019

El Windigo

John reached into his backpack and pulled out a plastic bag of jerky. "Here," he said handing the man the entire bag. "How's this?" The man nodded but didn't say anything. Anthony offered him a dehydrated beef and broccoli package, but the man waved it off. The man gave the boys and slight bow and walked down the trail from where the boys had come. The man sang a song but they couldn't make out most of the words. They recognized the words, ...tonight I'm gonna be with you... and 

"Me, too," John said.
A couple of Forest Rangers stopped their truck where the dirt road intersected the PCT. The female driver got out of the truck as John and Anthony approached the road. "You look like you saw a ghost," she said to the boys.

Anthony told her about the guy they gave the jerky to. The ranger's eyebrows shot up. "Wow! You actually saw him and gave him something to eat?"

John was busy trying to decipher what the ranger was saying, while Anthony said, "He looked hungry."

"Have you guys heard of El Windigo?"

They shook their heads. "What's that?" John asked.

"Not what. Who," the ranger said. "As the legend goes, El Windigo was an Algonquin Indian who got lost in the woods and was starving. He was so hungry that he turned into a cannibal and would kill anyone he saw and eat them. But he never died. He walks the trails and asks people for food. If they give it to him, he lets them go. If they don't he waits until dark and kills them in their sleep. When they are found, parts of their bodies have been eaten. At first, those who found the bodies assumed that a bear or a puma had killed them. But when the coroner's reports came back, the bites were from a human."

John gave the ranger a nervous smile. "I don't believe in ghost stories. And if he's an Algonquin, he'd be on the East Coast anyway. "

The ranger paid no attention to what John said. She continued, "He shows up and resides wherever his name is said. And since some idiots named that mountain, Windigo Butte, he now lives here. There have been a few sightings but you two are the first I've met who actually talked to him and gave him some meat. I hope you aren't camping too close to Windigo Butte for the night."

"We still have a few hours of hiking north before we set up camp," Anthony said.

"Good. Stay safe," the ranger said. She got back into the truck and drove away.

"Oh! Don't go get weird on me now," John said.

John and Anthony hiked a total of 22 miles before setting up camp for the night. After John set up his tent, he fired up his camp stove to boil water to pour into his dehydrated fettucini Alfredo. Anthony stared at his beef and broccoli bag. He found a flat rock and set his stove on it. "That guy on the trail freaked me out," Anthony said. "What was he doing out here without a backpack?"
"He was probably some homeless guy who figured out that backpackers always have food," John said.
"His voice was creepy," Anthony said. "It was like his words had to climb over a dusty pile of loose rocks that were so sharp each one cut his throat as he talked."

John ate, and when he put his things back into the bear canister, he stopped, and stared at the bag of beef jerky sitting inside his bear canister. How did that get there? he wondered. He put the bear canister away from the tents. He opened his tent. "I'm so sleepy. We had a long day. Goodnight." He got into his sleeping back and fell asleep.
Just as dawn lifted the edge of  night's black skirt John yelled, "No!" He woke up in a cold sweat.

"Are you OK?" Anthony asked as he crawled out of his tent.

"Your snoring gave me a nightmare," John said as he crawled out of his own tent.

"My snoring doesn't cause nightmares," Anthonys said. "It causes wet dreams." He laughed. What time is it?"

"Too early," John said. "I had this nightmare that some creepy bald guy with grey skin and pointed teeth was eating your leg."

"My leg?" Anthony asked. "He would've gotten more to eat if he had gotten my stomach. It had food in it." He laughed again.

Click on the words Waltzing Matilda and Jersey Girl to hear the songs.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Crater Lake and Beyond

John and Anthony hiked along the western side of Crater Lake yesterday.Click here to see a short video of Crater Lake  The basin that eventually became Crater Lake formed when a 12,000-foot-tall volcano called Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed 7,700 years ago. The volcanic basin, called a caldera, eventually filled with water and became the lake that we know today. Bottoming out at 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in America. Today the hiked 21 miles. When they woke up this morning, Anthony thought he smelled someone frying bacon. He wondered if John had been holding out on him. But when he opened his tent John was only making coffee. "Where's our next destination?" he asked. John pulled out his map and looked north. "It looks like it's beyond those mountains over there." 
"Really?" Anthony asked, "Steak and eggs, with potatoes and gravy, and a stack of pancakes sure would be good if we're going to hike all the way passed that mountain."

 They made it around Mt. Thielson and took a break. They put their packs down and John took the last bit of water out of his water bottle. "There's a nice stream over there," Anthony said pointing. John pulled out his water filter and walked toward the stream. He stopped short when he heard the rattle. Between him and the stream sat a snake shaking its rattle. "Catch me a tasty mousey and I'll move," John turned to see if Anthony had thrown his voice. But Anthony was busy pulling out a candy bar out of his pack. John turned to look at the snake. It hadn't moved. It rattled again. John decided that he wasn't that thirsty after all.

The boys hiked 21 miles and got some nice views of Diamond lake.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Ice Cream

26 July The boys backpacked 20 miles. Anthony sang the Lava song again. He tried unsuccessfully to get John to sing with him. He suggested one song after another, but John wouldn't sing along with Anthony. 
The following day they went 23 miles and almost made it to Crater lake. Just before they found a place to camp, they spotted a young couple walking toward them. Anthony stopped and waited for John to catch up. "Can you tell what they're eating?" he asked. 
John leaned his head forward and squinted. "They're eating ice cream cones," John said his eyes opened wide. Where do you ice cream cones in the backpacking in the Oregon mountains?"
"Did our GPS take us off the trail?" Anthony asked. They both checked their tracking devices. 
"No. We're on the trail." When they ran into the couple they asked where they got the ice cream cones.
"There was an ice cream truck parked in a parking lot where the highway intersects the trail," the young woman said. 
"The ice cream man was giving free ice cream to anyone carrying a backpack," the young man said.
 "The highway can't be far," Anthony said."Let's hurry." They picked up their pace and headed for the highway. But when they got there, no ice cream truck was in sight.
John looked at his tracker. "We've gone 23 miles today. Man-oh-man, an ice cream cone would've tasted so good."

Friday, July 26, 2019


"After yesterday's 22-mile hike, my feet are complaining," Anthony said as they reached Lake in the Woods highway 140.
"Stop whining," John said. "Are you hungry? I know I am. Hey! look. That must be the trail right there." John said pointing to the opening across the road."
Anthony pulled out his GPS. "There's a campsite not far from here," Anthony said. "We can eat there and if it's a nice place, I say we set up camp for the night."
"That's fine with me," John said. They didn't get very far before they heard kids voices and laughter. The walked in that direction. They reached the edge of a parking lot and saw a toilet. "I'm heading for the toilet. digging little poop holes in the forest is getting really old," Anthony said.
"I hope there's a freshwater spigot near that toilet," John said.
"Are you a PCT backpacker?" a little girl in pigtails asked John as he replenished their water containers."
John smiled. "Yes. How do you know about the PCT?"
The little girl, who looked like she was no older than ten said, "I did my first part of the PCT when I was seven. My daddy and my uncle took me with them to..." She put her finger to her lip and looked up. "To Mammoth Lakes and then we hiked on the PCT to Tool me. Not that's not it. To, to old me or something like that, I can't remember."
"Tuolumne Meadows?" Anthony asked.
""Yeah! That's it."
A man in shorts and hiking boots and a woman in shorts, a halter top, and tennis shoes walked up to the girl, Anthony, and John.  Two little girls followed them. The girl's father told John and Anthony that he had completed the whole trail when he was in college. He and his wife have been taking their daughter on segments of the PCT for the past three years.
"Tomorrow, Daddy and I are going to start and go to Crater Lake. It will take us five days.,"Her brown eyes opened up. "Daddy says it's fifty miles away. My mom will meet us there. She isn't coming with us this time." The girl leaned in close to John and Anthony. She narrowed her eyes as she whispered, "She's pregnant." And then her eyes lit up. "I'm going to be a big sister again."
"She tells everybody," the mother said. "You'd think that with all the fighting she does with her two little sisters, that she wouldn't be as excited." They all laughed.
"We always start a hiking trip with a steak dinner," the mother said. "We have far more than we can eat. Why don't you join us?"
"Thank you," Anthony said,
"Yeah, thanks. That sure beats any dehydrated meal," John said.
They thanked their hosts and hiked a little further until Anthony spotted a place to set up camp. "I'm so full and that steak was so good," he said as he put his backpack down.

The following morning John took a photo of Mt Mcloughlin.
"I wonder how big that mountain was before it blew its top," Anthony said. "This lava field goes on forever."
Yeah. I'm glad they have a well-maintained trail cutting through it," John said.
Anthony broke into song, "A long, long time ago there was a volcano living all alone in the middle of the sea."
Click the link to hear the Lava song that Anthony sang: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh4dTLJ9q9o

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

South Brown Shelter

Anthony looked at his GPS and said, "It looks like we should be near the shelter. According to this note, it is a log cabin."
"We've already hiked 22 miles and my feet are killing me," John said. "I hope we won't have to set up our tents."
"We won't have to worry about pumas or bears preying on us at night," Anthony said.
"But what if the bears know that campers leave food here?" John asked. "What if they wait for us in the morning and when they don't find food, they chase after us?"
"I don't see that as a problem, John. I can outrun you when the bears chase us," Anthony said and laughed.
 There was still plenty of light when the boys arrived at the shelter. "That door isn't going to keep a bear out," Anthony said.
"Neither are our tents," John said. "At least this has a solid roof in case it rains."
"A fireplace and firewood!" Anthony yelled when he looked inside.
"Yeah! and a place off the floor to put out sleeping bags," John said.
Anthony pulled out his knife and scrapped some kindling to start a fire in the wood-burning stove. "This reminds me of when we were little and we lived in Duranes, in Albuquerque."
"How is that possible? You were only about 3 or 4 when you moved from there." John said.
"I know," Anthonys said. "But I do remember putting wood in the stove when I was little."
The boys boiled water and pulled out their packets of dried food. They set up their sleeping bags on the wide shelves along the walls. While they waited for their food to re-hydrate in the packets, they stepped outside. "Hey! we can eat on a real table tonight," John said.
When their food was re-hydrated and ready to eat they sat at the table. "Boy a nice cold Sapporo would taste real good right now," John said.

Seiad Valley, CA

This is out of sequence. They were here last week, but John and Anthony just posted this photo on Instagram.
 This is the Google 3D maps view. The red pointer shows where they were when they took the shot above. There were down there and then they had to climb up.
 This is where they were.

Monday, July 22, 2019

22 July John's Birthday in Medford

Today is John's birthday. I remember buying him his first guitar when I was in high school. That was a long time ago. 

John and Anthony hiked by the Mount Ashland Ski area yesterday and were very glad that they didn't have to wear snow snows to get by. I had been under the impression that they were spending the night near the freeway. But when I checked on their progress this morning, I came to the realization that they didn't. They got picked up. But because it was dark, the driver took them back into California before they realized they were going the wrong way. The tracker only shows them in Oregon. But they would've had to go all the way to Hilt, California to find a place to turn around. But no harm done.

Since it is John's birthday, they decided to celebrate by spending time in a hotel. But when they walked up to the reception desk, at 10:45 at night, with their backpacks, and their beards with leaves and twigs still stuck in them, the six-foot, six-inch 250 pound receptionist, who looked more like a football tackle,  stood back from the counter, tilted his head, and said, "We don't have showers here for you boys. But if you can afford it, I have a room with a large shower on the second floor, next to the housekeeper's laundry room. I can make sure that the housekeeper brings you extra bars of bath soap."

John and Anthony looked at each other. They really hadn't noticed the twigs in their beards until then. "We'll take it!" Anthony said. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019


Most people assume that cows are gentle creatures. And they can be. However, when Anthony went to take a bump behind the trees, the cow with the bell didn't take kindly to a human walking close to her calves. She watched him for a short while as he walked into the tree line. But once he was there, and she heard him unzip his pants, her cowbell began to clank as she ran toward the trees where Anthony had planned to do his business. Poor Anthony had to pull up his pants and run as fast as he could and jump over the fence to where John stood laughing. The cow snorted at Anthony and walked back to the herd.
"You're going to have to hold it until we are out of hearing range for these cows," John said grinning from ear to ear.

Eating at Molly's? Is that the name?

Anthony and John were getting into the groove shortly after they repacked and started along the trail. The brisk morning air filled their nostrils with a foresty aroma. Anthony broke into song, with John Denver's, Sunshine On My Shoulders. 
"Hey! You've got a nice voice," a 20 something woman said as she met them going southward. "Did you run into snow on the way up?"
John and Anthony explained how the snow forced them to skip the Sierras, and how they had to turn back after they left the road near Etna. "But the snow level is better now," John said. "We are back on the trail."
Anthony hoisted his backpack up on his back and then leaned on his walking sticks. "How about you? Did you run into snow on the way down?" 
The young woman looked at her hiking partner. "Well, it's like this," she said in a thick Southern drawl. "We started at my kid sister's house in Ashland. Now I gotta tell ya, I ain't never seen a bear up close and personal. But when we got up this morning and Ah unzipped mah tent, Whoa wee! There was a bear sittin right outside Lucy's tent, no further than I can spit. He was havin a rawt nice time chompin on them two extra hamburgers we forgot to put away in the bear canister."
"You cooked hamburgers?" Anthony asked?
"Nah! We bought them at Molly's in Etna." the Southern woman said.
The other woman's eyes lit up. "They were the best tasting hamburgers ever. We liked them so much that we bought extras to eat later. Make sure you stop at Molly's when you get to Etna."
"How did you get rid of the bear?" Anthony asked.
"That was so dang easy. When Lucy woke up, she yelled for me to start the coffee. That scared the bear and he ran off, with the what was still left of the hamburgers. They were so deee liscious. Hmm. hmm."
Cass and Grant picked up John and Anthony where the PCT crossed the road to Etna. 
 Cass and Grant brought them their supplies for the next leg. John and Anthony got busy repacking. While they packed their supplies, Anthony asked Cass and Grant if they would stop at Molly's in Etna. They had been told it was a great place for lunch. They stopped in Etna and asked for the whereabouts of Molly's. The residents looked puzzled. "We ain't never heard of Molly's around these here parts," a local said. "But, if ya have a hankerin for a good hamburger, no one beats Dolly's on the bend on the highway."
Text from Cass: "Anyway, we drove 200+ miles to Scott Valley to meet John and Anthony. Great Time. Delivered their supplies and they bought lunch for Grant and I. Then we drove them to Lovers Camp where they set out on the trail again."

 While they packed their supplies, Anthony asked Cass and Grant if they would stop at Molly's in Etna. They had been told it was a great place for lunch. They stopped in Etna and asked for the whereabouts of Molly's. The residents looked puzzled. "We ain't never heard of Molly's around these here parts," a local said. "But, if ya have a hankerin for a good hamburger, no one beats Dotty's on the bend on the highway."

"I bet you that Southern girl meant Dotty's and not Molly's" John said.

After they filled their tummies Cass and Grant and Levi the dog, took Anthony and John to Lover's Camp. But it took longer than they expected because the  mountain had slid onto road in three locataions. They were forced to go on a small dirt road to help them reach Lovers Camp.

End of the Snow Barrier July 11th

It wasn't the bears, rattlesnakes, pumas or the lone jackalope that made John and Anthony postpone their trek. It was slippery, mushy snow on the steep mountain slopes. They gritted their teeth and retreated to their homes until such time as the snow would cease to be a hindrance. When the mountain snow reports indicated safer travel conditions they headed to Red Bluff, to Cass and Karen's ranchito. John and Anthony left extra supplies with Cass and Karen for the second leg of their "go around and catch up" where they had to go back to Etna. The boys got dropped off at the trailhead along 1-5, just north of Castella and next to the Sacramento River at 8:30 AM on July 11th. As they walked under the freeway, John looked for the jackalope he had seen when they were picked earlier.
They hiked 14 miles around a mountain their first day back on the trail. 

"I bet we could've done this part, even with a little snow," Anthony said when they chose a spot to settle in for the night. The wind blew hard and kept blowing out the fire on Anthony's camping stove. They heard a whooshing coming up the slope. The wind would not settle down. John came over and used his body as a windbreak. A twig fell from a tree and smacked him on the head. "It's a good thing we aren't in Hawaii and that twig wasn't a coconut," Anthony said and laughed. 

The following morning the sun illuminated their tents. John unzipped his tent and squinted in the bright sunlight. "Hurry and get up!" he yelled. "There's no wind and if you want hot coffee, you better get out here." They hiked almost 20 miles the following day and settled in for the night on the bank of Deadfall Lake. "Why do you suppose they call this Deadfall Lake,: Anthony asked. 
John looked up to the top of the ridge 750 above them. "Maybe some dude fell into the lake from up there,"' John said.