Lake Morena Campground

Sunny Friday turned into torrential downpour and high winds. Many times during the night I awoke inside my tent and held up my hands with the hopes that my tent would not collapse. I awoke to a cold freezing day but at least me and my gear were dry. Others had not fared so well and there were trips planned for the laundry mat to dry out gear. I was having a Washington September flashback in the middle of California desert. The weather could not dampen our spirits and it was a great reunion!


Class of 2013!


Class of 2009!


Movie time

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Start: Large Oak Camp
End: Lake Morena
Miles: 16

After a cold night I was ready to get hiking. I was trying out my new Zpacks hood with my quilt from last year. Still cold and no improvement. During the night I put on my down jacket so my core was warm but the legs/feet never got comfortable. Temps were down at about 40F, elevation around 5100 ft. After sleeping in, I was on trail by 6:45 am which netted beautiful desert morning hiking. A slight breeze rustled the chaparral around me but the sunny skies soon turned the terrain warm.

Spotted either a Anna’s Hummingbird or Allen’s Hummingbird. It flashed its iridescent red throat as it seemed to be issuing a warning. It was a first time experience when the hummingbird buzzed my ankles as it sped up the trail.

The mental fortitude kicked in as the afternoon heated up and the miles slipped by slowly. It’s hard to acknowledge that the body is not in the same condition as when I left the trail. Despite that, I was happy to have knocked out the 16 miles by 2pm.

Rolled into the kickoff where the campground had filled in the last day. Hikers everywhere. Time to relax and grab a beer. Surprise Gourmet dinner trumped the mass burrito dinner. Thanks Gourmet! Movie night. Reunions. Hugs. Happy.


Yucca seed pods


Spines = modified leaves = cactus protection = pain for me



Morning snack time


2009 relic: A helicopter went down and the scenery is scattered with unexploded rounds. Fun!






Trail tread through the dry Cottonwood Creek



Whip snake?

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2014 – Mt. Laguna South

Start: Mt. Laguna
Finish: Lark Oak Campsite
Miles: 6.5

After only 4 hours sleep I was on the road again and picking up hikers at the Saufleys and Cajon Pass. Connected with Cuddles and we drove up to Mt. Laguna where we found Shotput, Pepper Flake and Puppy.
After some hanging out and chatting with current thru hikers we were on our way South. Easy downhill miles. No complaints from feet. Beautiful scenery, lots of birds calling.


An unusual feeling…..heading South!


Midnight Rider and Valentino headed North for thru-ride #2.


Puppy ahead on the trail. Reaching Chaparral cover.


Young alligator lizard?




Flowering Yucca



Desert sunset

When I Walked For Beer

Unless you’re new to this lengthy log of my life, you know that I am a bit of a beer nut. Ok, not really. I am an addict. Addicted to the hoppy, frothy, foaming barley wonder we call beer. This addiction comes from my years of homebrewing. The palate has happily settled on the monster hop notorious to IPAs, especially Double IPAs. My dear hugging trail friend Maggie asked me how many beers I drank. It really is scary to ponder. So many miles, so many beers.

Here they are, my top favorites.
On Tap:
1. Fresh Hop IPA ~ Old Schoolhouse Brewery – Winthrop, WA
2. Insider ~ Crux Fermentation Project – Bend, OR
3. Barley Legal ~ Dunsmuir Brewery Works – Dunsmuir, CA
4. Homo Erectus ~ Walking Man Brewing – Stevenson, WA
5. Worthy Imperial IPA ~ Worthy Brewing – Bend, OR

In The Bottle:
1. Phillips Amnesiac Double IPA ~ Phillips Brewing – Victoria, BC
2. Vortex IPA ~ Fort George Brewing – Astoria, OR
3. Jamaica Sunset IPA ~ Mad River Brewing – Blue Lake, CA
4. Stone India Pale Ale ~ Stone Brewing – Escondido, CA
5. West Coast IPA ~ Green Flash Brewing – San Diego, CA

All these beers are the result of having made it to yet another trail town. The reward. The carrot. Like the day it took me 4 hours to warm up after hiking 19 non-stop miles in cold, pelting rain. Like the day a trail angel took me to 5 different breweries in Bend. Like the day I sat and contemplated the smoke-filled skies. Like the day I was blessed with angel after angel after angel. Like the day I sat asking, “Did I really hike all those miles?” Like the day I had pizza and beer for breakfast.

And for every town beer memory there is an equally wonderful on-trail beer memory. Like the day when there was a cooler of Miller High Life seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Like the Bud buzz at Ollalie Lake. Like the day we packed beers out of Reds Meadow, hiked 9 miles and called it a zero. Like arriving at hwy 40 to find PBRs. Like 100 mile reward beer at Barrel Springs. Like the day I arrived to find a cheering crowd, shade and ice cold Steel Reserve at Walker Pass.

Still many miles to hike and beers to drink! Cheers!

If you want to read more of my story, click of the Class of 2013 link on the top right of my page.

Old Schoolhouse Brewery with Tears For Beers

Old Schoolhouse Brewery with Tears For Beers

Crux Fermentation Project

Crux Fermentation Project

Dunsmuir Brewery Works

Dunsmuir Brewery Works

Worthy Brewing

Worthy Brewing

Reds Meadow Zero with Cherub, Soup Nazi and Snickers

Reds Meadow Zero with Cherub, Soup Nazi and Snickers

Got Questions?

Feel free to ask me any questions about my hike or thyroid cancer or……well, anything! Email me at pctlionheart [at] and I’ll post the answers here. If you want to see what I’ve been up to lately, check my postholer journal.

Smart's Mountain Fall morning

Smart’s Mountain Fall morning