Tracker and Ant Hoho

Subject: The Grey Beards and the Pacific Crest Trail

Today is something like Day 13 for me on the PCT however, I am on my second of four consecutive zero days. I am giving myself 160 days to hike the entire 2,655 mile trail – so what’s the rush I say; the trail is my journey and I don’t now look forward to it ending and, besides the snow melt can’t be rushed.

An aha moment just occurred above in the last sentence. If only I would’ve listened to my younger and wiser thru hiker self.

A zero day is a day that I don’t hike. Now, why am I taking a zero day you might ask?

Primarily to heal up sore tired dogs (feet). Also, if I kept on hiking I would reach Warner Springs (30 miles) where my Logistician wife could easily pick me up from a road junction. Warner Springs was just a (bridge too far) to go when you have tired and barking dogs. Non baby boomers- you can google or look that last remark for a lesson in Americana history, aka Operation Market Garden.

Now, not hiking doesn’t necessarily mean that I am not walking anywhere – the town of Julian has lots of great places to explore and lots of great walking to be done.

Today in town (Julian) is a wildflower expedition with something like over 100 wildflowers on display. Down the hill is a Mountain man rendezvous going on – today is the only open to the public day so dare I walk a little more.

Tomorrow Patti (AKA: Logistician) arrives and drives me and on a wine tour of the local area and Sunday CornNut (Rick) and his wife Doris are driving up for a morning brunch before I gently get dropped off back on the trail again; at Scissors Crossing.

Back to the subject of Greybeards. My top three greybeards encountered thus far are – in no special order of priority;

1) Billy Goat – The man is an institution among himself on the PCT. Bill Goats (age 70 and recently single ladies) his words of wisdom and mannerisms instill that special confidence and security; as if spoken or better yet written down on stone tablets by the likes of possibly Moses himself.

Talking to Billy Goat at the hikers kickoff was like receiving the word from the man himself, for he is truly a hikers hiker.

Billy Goat Greybeard has hiked something like over 45,000 miles thus far and counting. He recently returned from Israel where he hiked over 300 trail miles. “Hiking is his way of life”, and all who come in contact with him shall receive the blessing!

Now why do you think you need that large knife Trawlercat when you also carry that small knife he says to me?

Because if a bear, a rabid squirrel or other unforeseen critter attacks I want to make sure that I can put up the best possible fight possible.

And what about that knife sharpener you’re carrying?

Because a dull knife is not your friend I say.

(As you might now begin to understand a new long distance thru-hiker is now born or made but slowly molded- and this thru hiker has a ways to go)

Billy Goat caused me to think, rethink, question and learn.

JackAss on the other hand taught me how to pack my pack. Far from a Greybeard but well on his way.

If you haven’t figured it out by now US thru hikers acquire trail names that either come to us or are self given.

MendoRider is another Grey Beard who at age the ripe old age of 76 years old has ridden over 47,000 miles on horseback.

He has entered and won several times over prominent 50-150 mile equestrian races. He last rode/hiked/? the PCT on a horse named Primo.

I asked him if he knew what Primo meant and he was surprised to learn that it meant cousin. Cousin ( horses new trail name) hiked the PCT with MendoRider sitting atop.

Horse – I think I’ll take a zero day today and go visit that little fillly just up the road some.

MendoRider – Now where did Primo go?

True Story. The hobbled horse was last seen about 2/10th of a mile by another thru hiker going northbound back to the last place he was corralled for the night.

Speaking of sitting on top of – An 11 month old baby girl I heard is also hiking the PCT.

Only her saddle is a Kelty pack on the back of her mother. Dad gets to do all the work as he is their Sherpa. Why?

Only they know the answer and like somethings in life – like this long distance hike

– If I had to stop to explain it to you; you could or would never really understand the answer if I tried to explain it to you.

Best of luck baby girl!

Grey Beard Number 3 – Eli – a young 81 year old former weightlifter, merchant marine and his English girlfriend Sandra are just who or what anyone wanting to make sense out of life should talk to.

Eli has words of wisdom that made me cherish the thought of growing old with my Logistician wife Patti; now if I could only remember what those words were. . . . . seems that growing old also has a few challenges – growing old gracefully now – that’s what Eli does best.

As you can see, if you think its all work and no play on the PCT then you are most certainly wrong.

See you on the trail!


PS: The Logistician says this grey beard gets cut off before she will have any physical contact with me.

Guess I’ll be buying a razor today