ADZPCTKO and Mojave Desert Hikes, April 24-26, 2004

Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick-off (April 24) and two days of hiking in the Mojave Desert (April 25 and 26.)

The Pacific Crest Trail, PCT, runs the 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada, through the desert, through the mountains, through the days of water hard to find, through the days of battling snow and rain. Most people spend about 5 months on this endeavor. Current plan is to hike it by the time I'm 57 (says mrm at age 43); the good doctor Wenegrat is not necessarily in favor but maybe he can be talked round.

David Hough is hiking it in sections, hence our trek out to the Mojave the next day. He covered 23 miles the first day and 9 miles the second, both part of Section E of the PCT. Linda and I stuck together and did slighly shorter hikes (12 miles the first day, maybe 9 or 10 the second day) and we played the part of shuttle car drivers.

  1. Linda and David at the Southern Terminus of the PCT - just a few feet from the Mexican border, which is marked by a corrugated steel wall.

  2. That there's the Mexican border. The U.S. side has a dirt road for the border patrol jeeps and SUVs and pickup trucks and what-all they drive.

  3. Linda standing smack dab against the wall that defines the Mexican border. I'm not sure what Team was Building what, to inspire the wall painting.

  4. Linda seditiously standing in Mexico. (Why does the Border Patrol allow the wall to be so obviously torn apart, a mere mile or so from their outpost?)

  5. Now we're at the contest. There was a contest to see who had the lightest pack (without food, fuel or water.) This couple is hiking together. Their base packs were in the 11 pound range. He made most of their gear.

  6. He demonstrates a lightweight raincoat.

  7. The current trend in lightweight tents is the tarp tent: stretch the fabric against the elements, but don't really worry about bringing along a real tent. This is OK except in times of severe cold or heavy, heavy rain.

  8. Another concept in backpacking: just carry three rolls.

  9. Another moment during the light-pack-contest. I have no idea what's going on, but presumably the contestant is explaining the use of the thing he holds in his hand.

  10. Yet another contestant!

  11. I think this veteran PCT hiker uses the trail name "Billy Goat". He had the lightest pack at 8 pounds 11 ounces, but didn't win the contest since he doesn't carry any water filter or purification device, and the judges felt they couldn't pick up his pack and start hiking without that.

  12. This is one of the event's organizers - he constructed a special vest that he loads with iron weights, and wears this vest when he climbs 60 or 70 flights of stairs several times a week, as training.

  13. This contestant explains the construction of his lightweight stove.

  14. Now, this guy from Michigan or somewhere really swept the audience. He definitely won everyone's vote for the most original and neat gear gadget. He constructed a sort of tent that goes over his pack and also over his head, useful for rain or sun.

  15. He demonstrates its incredible coolness.

  16. A hiker shows off his nifty way of writing hitch-hike signs on his ground cloth. Murmurs of approval, but I don't think he got too many votes in the end.

  17. "PCT Hiker, Please Pick Me Up! I am not a serial killer!" (Just kidding, he didn't write that last bit.)

  18. The man with the pseudo-fixed-umbrella contraption collects votes, while Linda looks on admiringly from beyond.

  19. David in his gear!

  20. Tarp tents from the back. Also note the ADZPCTKO truck under the American flag!

  21. David inspects the maps.

  22. The fellow with the bald head and the mustache and beard, in the white shirt, at the bottom right of the picture, gave an hour-long talk about how to find water in the desert --- what camp sites have water, what streams are running, where to find caches left by the angels. Trail angels, that is - people who bring water to the trail for the hikers to find. He also handed out a summary sheet about where to find water. People were very appreciative.

  23. OK, this is the first in a series of attempts to photograph this guy's highly unusual neck piercings. He has four rather large pins in the back of his neck, like he's a cyborg. It looks rather horrible and scary and painful, all at once.

  24. This is a pretty good picture of the layout of the steel ball bearings, or whatever they are.

  25. Ouch ouch ouch ouch.

  26. Linda and David get ready for our hike on Sunday, April 25th. We walked in the Mojave desert. Linda and I did about 6 miles and then turned around to go back to the car, so we perhaps walked about 12 miles. David did the whole 23 miles! We picked him up at the other end of the trail.

  27. A cactus blooms.

  28. What the desert looks like.

  29. After lunch, at about the 6 mile mark, we parted ways. Linda and I walked back to the car, and David forged ahead for the remaining 17 miles.

  30. Now this one is blooming with a vengeance.

  31. The first of many, many pictures of Joshua Pines!

  32. They are more astonishing in person.

  33. Standing tall and proud.

  34. Now this is during the hike on Monday, April 26. Note the subtle contrast (insert-smiley) between the white man-made whirling trees, and the prickly native version.

  35. See the white windmills in the distance, framed by the Joshua trees.

  36. These windmills are huge.

  37. Oops! Rattlesnake taking a nap on the path.

  38. And not 20 yards up the trail, the long tail and rattle of another rattler juts out.

  39. California poppies, the state flower. No, not harvested for opioids.

  40. A gaggle of Joshua trees leans into the sun.

Marianne Mueller
Last modified: Friday, April 30, 2004