Where's Al O'Neal on the PCT?
On and off we have been following Al O’Neal on his journey up the Pacific Crest Trail. He is not the oldest hiker to make this trek, but at 69 years old, he is still an inspiration. He is making this hike, a lifelong dream, to raise awareness for a great cause:. After following his journey, please consider a donation of any amount, to the Histio Cure Foundation thru their website at histiocure.org. See “My Links” on the left. There is a simple donation form on the site. Click on the “Get Involved” option and go to “PCT-Trail to a Cure”. In the upper right Click on the red Donate button. Please ref-erence the name of our cause as PCT or PCT trail to a Cure in the “In honor of/Memory of box. You can also just enter KALISTA’s name in the box. That will allow us to keep track of the success of our efforts. Thank you.
July 20 -Yesterday, while leaving the midpoint monument, I noticed the pain from my hyper extension incident returning. This morning, it was worse. I hobbled around a bit trying to evaluate it and then popped a couple of ibuprofen and headed out. The pain didn’t completely disappear but was manageable for the day. I hiked the 3.5 miles to Hwy. 36 which is the road to the town of Chester. Just across the highway was a premium trail angel set up with fresh coffee, cereals, fruit, coolers with orange juice and soft drinks, and a friendly trail host named Chipmunk. He had come up from Sacramento to help out the usual trail angel for this spot known as Piper’s Mom. I met her briefly as she was busy shuttling hikers in and out of Chester. After about and hour there, I hiked on through beautiful privately managed forest and lumber land. There was active logging activity in the area. The trail was smooth, soft, and mostly level for the first couple of miles from the road and then climbed gradually up past Stover’s Spring which was more like Stover’s Pond. There was reported mountain lion activity in that area a couple of weeks before. Disco, whom I had met back near the Laguna Mountains, posted a great story on the PCT Class of 2016 website about being stalked by one up here. About six miles into my hike today, I met Dave. He manages this section of trail as a volunteer and gave me the cook’s tour as we hiked for about five or six miles together taking my mind off of my persistent knee pain. We hiked to the North Fork of the Feather River where I decided to call it a day not wanting to over stress my knee. I’m not due in Drakesbad to meet my friends from Reno until tomorrow anyway and I will wake early and get out of camp in time to make it there before 10:00 with ease.
July 23 - The rest and relaxation continue as we hit the pool again after breakfast at the restaurant and some time resting in camp. This time we grabbed the shade at the pool and I stretched and iced my knee in between dips in the hot water. A strange thing happened as we were at the restaurant. Bette asked if a lady nearby could take our picture. “Sure”, she said, as Mark introduced me as “a famous thru hiker of the PCT”. She said “Hi, I’m Chuck Norris’s wife. We were momentarily stunned and just smiled for the picture and expressed surprise as she walked away.
July 26- Sleeping in felt good. I slept for about 10 hours and awoke with the sun shining. There is a great little cafe about a half mile up the road called JJ’s. Yogi’s guidebook and Halfmile’s app have incorrect business hours for JJ’s Cafe. They are open Sunday-Tuesday from 7:00-3:00 and Wednesday-Saturday from 7:00-7:00. My knee was feeling marginally better with a little stiffness and after a few minutes of strolling around camp, it felt good enough for a packless walk to the store about a half mile away. I took my phone charger with hope I could find power to charge it. When I reached the main road, I noticed electric lighting in the restroom building in the fee campground on the other side. The short diversion proved fruitful. I found an outlet over the bathroom sink and plugged in. Staying only about an hour, I partially charged, made a couple of calls and moved on up the road to the store. When I got there, I noticed, a couple of hundred yards up the road, a bunch of cars and trucks at JJ’s and people were going in and out. I was pleasantly surprised to see it open and had a great breakfast there. They are very hiker friendly and had phone charging strip, a hiker box, and free Wifi. After breakfast I found a ziplock bag in the hiker box. My waitress filled it with ice and I sat out on their patio for about three hours icing my sore knee, off and on, and catching up on posting. Leaving for camp in the afternoon, I stopped by the store and bought a fuel canister and a bag of Fritos, and walked back to camp. In mid-afternoon, a group of elementary school children along with their teachers and volunteer parents walked up to the picnic area. I was sitting there with a few of my fellow thru hikers and their teacher explained that they were from Jackson Heights Elementary School in Red Bluff, California and on a summer field trip. After asking if we were PCT thru hikers, their teacher asked if we could tell the children some trail stories. We obliged and I related my encounter with the very young fawn along the trek from Sonora Pass to Lake Tahoe. I wanted to tell them of the bear and coyote in the camp at Trinity Lakes out of Red’s Meadow but a bear story was told first so I opted to change it up with the deer story. The children seemed entertained and we enjoyed being a part of their field trip education. My knee was still sore in the evening but seemed to get better during the day. Time will tell.
July 29 -We rose with the sun, packed up and headed for JJ’s. This place is a find and if any of you are ever near here you should take in a meal here. It’s located about a quarter mile south of the intersection of state highways 44 and 89 in Old Station, California, 51 miles west of Susanville. It’s a local, family run cafe with exceptional food and friendly service. During my stay here, I had the best smoked pastrami sandwich I have ever eaten. They serve flavorful homemade jams with well prepared breakfasts. I recommend it highly. I called my oldest sister, Carol Ann and we met she and her husband Howie at the Sportsman Warehouse in Reno. I needed to pick up a couple of things there to repair gear. We wound up going to REI too and it was good to get to see them while passing through. Jennie made stops at Trader Joe’s for lunch supply and Costco for fuel and then we headed up to Tahoe. I was glad I had made the decision to return as I jumped in a hot shower and settled in for curing.
August 6 -I was up early along with Steve and Jennie packing for the trip back to the trail at Old Station. I took my last Tahoe off trail shower and loaded my gear in the car. My kne felt great. Absolutely no pain. We made a couple off stops in Reno for small gear items before heading north. We hit JJ’s Cafe for a terrific breakfast and drove over to the Subway a Cave Picnic Area for last minute food organization and Jennie taped my knee with KT Tape and, just for good measure, donned the neoprene brace as well. Then they drove me back to where I had left the trail a week earlier. On trail again! My knee felt tight but had no pain. At mile 3.28 in I was approaching the Hat Creek Overlook. I looked up the trail and I see Steve and Jennie sitting just off the trail watching me hike toward them. They had taken in the Subway Cave and then drove out and just happened to take the turnout to the overlook, and there I was a little more than an hour later! Jennie gave me cold water and an ice bag for my knee even though it didn’t really require such treatment at the time. I stayed about a half hour and was off again. I hiked up onto the Hat Creek Rim late in the afternoon and camped at a vacant site not quite a mile from the Lost Creek Junction. There is a spring there but I don’t have to stop there in the morning as I have enough water to get me off the Rim even if the cache at Road 22 is not in force.
August 18 -This twenty was a little easier. Due to wide open terrain, few trees, most of the time, and little wind, I was able to deploy my hands free umbrella system for great portable shade! Unfortunately, the trail was traveling south to southwest a good portion of the day so the umbrella wasn’t quite as effective as it might otherwise have been. There was not much climbing today which made the miles easier. The 6:05 start this morning provided more time for rest stops and water collection. Early on, I met a guy named J. D. from North Dakota that is a northbound thru hiker. We talked about our need to cut out some zero days and get to the border sooner before the weather turns for winter. I’m thinking that I might be able to finish in the neighborhood of fifty-three days from now if I hold up physically. Only one knee, my left, is a real concern now and it is seemingly getting much better and definitely manageable for now. I’m camped tonight on a beautiful open ridge. I just watched the sun set and now the full moon rise. Gorgeous!
Goodnight from mile 1549.38!