John's 2004 Continental Divide Trail Hike

2004 Pre-Hike Journal

6/12/04 Santa Cruz
I'm waiting in Santa Cruz for Walter to pick me up. He'll drive me to the San Jose airport early tomorrow morning. I'm serene, but exhausted. My food boxes are done, thanks to the direct help of David and Tom. The food got packaged with the help of David, Mark G., and Richard S. Friend and fellow backpacker Robin provided a home while I did all this in San Francisco.

Today I cracked a crown and half of it came out. We'll see where that leads. Earlier in the week I broke the key in the lock in the back of my Subaru. Luckily, I'd already done most of my moving and hauling.

5/31/04 Weed
Went up to my Dad's new place in Weed, near Mt. Shasta, for a few days. We celebrated his wife's birthday... and mine.

Should I be crazed?
I leave Tucson Wednesday morning, yet I'm feeling peaceful. Everything seems under control.

5/9/04 A long-overdue update.
I gave notice at Cafe Terra Cotta. It's a great restaunt job. I worked today, Mother's Day, which was a lot of work and perhaps worth it.
I got my new sleeping bag! It's a 20-degree down bag that weighs 22 ounces.
Here in Tucson, living with David has turned for the better once again. It was bad for a while, mostly due to my moodiness of late. David's townhouse is in a place that has a pool and spa. I'm by the pool now relaxing and beating the heat. Soon, it will be impossible to beat the heat while being outside.
Looking forward to my time in the Bay Area. I had to pass up on a fun rafting trip because time is too tight. The little boy in me wishes I could do everything all at once. The adult knows I have to stay focused. I have a lot to do, but I'm pretty sure everything will work out.

4/24/04 Saturday at ADZPCTKO
Learned about a few good backpacking things today at the various contests: Great camp shoes, a solution to my cooking problem, and how hikers with few resources choose to spend their money.
I'd seen the potential camp shoes once in a catalog, but dismissed them. Today seeing them and knowing the best place to buy them turned my opinion around. I'm actually overjoyed to have information about really light camp shoes.
My current cooking problem came about because both Ziploc and Glad stopped making stand-up bags. Today I saw something I'd forgotten about: a bag cosy. It will help me cook most of my meals neatly.
Finally, at the g-force contest, I got to know which sleeping bag Billy Goat used: the Nanutuck Arc Alpinist, the exact sleeping bag I want to get. Billy Goat's not a man of resources, but he spent the money on a really good bag.
I spent some time with Class of 2003. Nice folks.

4/23/04 from ADZPCTKO
What can you learn from looking at the tadpole of an endangered toad? Today I got dropped off at Civett Flats Campground and hiked back the 11 miles to Lake Morena. Toward the end, at Boulder Oaks Campground, I saw a sign announcing that the campgroung was closed during the Southwestern Arroyo Toad's breeding season. Just past the camptround was, I think, "the" stream that held the tadpoles. I stopped to pull some trash out of the stream and noticed the darting of small fish, which I quickly identified as tadpoles. I looked at them. They were just tadpoles wiggling around trying to be in the warm shallow water without being dinner. They didn't know they were threatened. I thought about watching the sea otters growing up. In Monterey Bay, Pacific Grove, they were abundant. I always saw the amazing little guys in the mostly big surf.
What did I learn? That these creatures live life and man intrudes by hunting or habitat distruction. Either they make it or they don't.

5/03 Why the Continental Divide?

I'm hooked on long distance hiking, or more accurately, thru-hiking. It's a great way to live. My five months on the PCT were fun and hard. I know now that I wasn't having full-time fun, but what I ask myself is what part of life is full-time fun? I know I want to have more fun on the CDT. Fun is feeling happy, being content with life and circumstances, and not being caught up in the Monkey Mind.

I am committed to not letting the CDT become a grind. I know I'll see see hard days, cold and wet days, and hard hitches. I also know I'll see things that I can hardly imagine. I long to be up high, moving through the landscape. I long to in my bag in some grand open space hunkered low to avoid the wind. I long to cross a new stream, to look ahead and wonder where I'll be hiking next, to be cooking my dinner in the late afternoon. I want to live outside again.

People were a big part of the PCT. So few people hike the CDT, I can't expect the wild parade of characters. I'll hook up with people, and them with me, and we'll form alliances until circumstances have us split.

There's an amazing feeling to be in a new landscape, in a place I've never set foot in before, a place where the ground feels the same as many past steps, the flowers, grasses, and bushes are familiar, the wind feels like it never left, and yet it's so exciting in its newness.


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