Saturday, April 23, 2016

Zero Day

Day 18 - April 23
Miles: 0

There are times when I think we should give Susan the new trail name of "Twitchy" because she can't sit still - ever. Even on our Nero days (trail speak for less than 10 miles in a day) she gets restless quickly. So I was a little shocked when she finally conceded to taking a full Zero day today. All thru hikers take zeros along the way, typically quite a few over the course of a 5+ month hike. Only the most elite athletes do this day after day without rest. Elite we are not...  

We've already had the motel included full breakfast - twice!  We will chill in the room the rest of the day and have Del Taco for dinner (not many choices around these parts). We hope to be on the trail early tomorrow for what will be a difficult stretch - we must climb 5000 feet in 20+ miles with no water sources. We will leave here carrying 5 to 6 liters of water each. At two pounds per liter, you can do the math. Ugh. 

We did get a new trip bird right outside our motel door, a Hooded Oriole. New total 142.  And there is a Cliff Swallow nesting in the alcove of our balcony. 

Some other random thoughts from the first 340 miles:

- We are hiking really well overall. I'm really impressed with how strong Susan is day after day. 
- Typing a blog nightly on a tiny phone screen after hiking all day, settling up camp, and cooking dinner can be difficult. Please forgive my lapses in grammar, typos, and generally incoherent thoughts...
- There are bird species that are relatively hard to see where we live that are so abundant in the right habitat that I've been amazed. California Thrasher, Wrentit, and Black-chinned Sparrow are literally everywhere in the California chaparral eco region. 
- As expected, the hiker community are fun people. It has been difficult for us to make any real friends so far but have made a few good acquaintances in the last several days. We are either hiking too fast or too slow to get into much of a group. That will probably change as we enter the Sierra later this spring. 
- Trail Magic abounds and my faith in at least a small portion of our species has improved a little. 
- I wonder if the maids at hotels that hikers frequent after long stretches on the trail just throw the wash cloths away instead of trying to launder them ...

How about an update to the 10 quiz questions from before we left:

1 - How many bird species will we see on the trip? 142 and counting. 
2 -  How many days in California will we NOT see a Raven? Only 1 so far. 
3 -  How many eBird Lists will Susan do on the trail? 83 to date
4 -  How many new California County birds will Susan get? 28 in SD and Riverside. It's not looking good for a new one in San Bernardino but she already has over 315. 
5 -  How many feet blisters will we get combined? None! Yet! Knock on wood!
6 -  How many steps will Bob record on his iPhone (includes all trail and camp/town steps)? 
747,514 as of right this minute as long as I don't get out of bed and hobble to the bathroom. 
7 -  What day (almost certainly in September) will we finish? TBD
8 -  How many days will we get rained/snowed on?  Three if we use the definition of rain while we are hiking. 
9 -  How many times will Susan eat ice cream? Three including the McDonalds caramel sundae yesterday afternoon. 
10- How many toenails will Susan lose? None yet but one is pretty black and held in place daily with duct tape. 

Short cuts make delays, but inns make longer ones.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

We are definitely out of here tomorrow. 


  1. We laughed our heads off sitting here at the curb outside Stadham hall taking a breather before dinner at the Owens Lake bird festival. Miss you two. Question: are we allowed to revise the answers to your 10 quiz questions based on your updates?

    1. Ha! Wouldn't that be cheating? Oh what the hell, sure revise away! 😀

  2. Thanks for not putting a picture of Susan's toe on the blog :-))

  3. Okay, honest...? That picture of you trips me out. I mean we grew up as kids and now we're well into our 50's. So bizarre. If it's any consolation I think you look more like your mom. Thank God for that! And "a job well done" to update us every night. Like you said that ain't easy. Know your--and Susan's--drive is inspiring to me.