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7/29, Mile 875. An unexpected exit.

Rooster: It is 6am, and we are currently sitting in a coffee shop in Seattle. We just arrived after driving our rental all night from Fresno, CA. Why? In an unfortunate turn of events, Maverick slipped on a rock while crossing a creek, and tweaked her back. Nothing serious, nothing a couple trips to a chiropractor and taking it easy for a couple weeks won’t cure.

But obviously, marching up and down mountains with a pack on her back is out of the question. So we are done for the year. We’d be really disappointed, but we’d already come to terms with the fact that finishing it this year was unrealistic. We were already way behind schedule because of our incredible time in Kernville.

So, no regrets, no sorrow. Our biggest goal was to have a big adventure, to live our best lives. We hiked a third of the PCT, spent 6 awesome weeks working at a rafting company, and met some of the best people in the world. We are fortunate that we have the flexibility to come back some other year (2021?) and finish. And so now we go back to Wisconsin to start a new phase of our lives, knowing that the trail will always be there for us.

We’ve been off the grid for awhile, and we’ve got a decent backlog of pics and stories. I’ll be getting those posted over the next couple days.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened”.

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7/19, mile 789. Mt Whitney and Forester Pass

They say there are no bad photographers in the Sierras. They would be correct; no matter where I point my camera, the views are spectacular. We did a full moon ascent of Mt Whitney, starting at midnight, and summiting just after dawn. At 14,505 feet, it is the tallest mountain in the lower 48. The following day, we went over a steep and snow covered Forester Pass. It is the tallest pass on the PCT at 13,200 feet. Just one week into the Sierra Nevada range, and we’re already overwhelmed by the challenge and beauty of these incredible mountains. Enjoy the pics and videos.

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7/12 Mile 702 Back on trail!!

Maverick: We are back on trail, and it has been a HOT few days. Technically, we’re still in the desert, so it has been hitting mid-90’s by the afternoon. Additionally, we’ve been greeted by hordes of gnats/flies. They are not interested in your arms, legs, or any other body parts. They are interested only in entering every orifice of your face all the livelong day. They dive bomb your ears and swirl around, fly up your nose, and land on your cheek to get stuck in the sweat/sunscreen cocktail that resides there. You can’t outrun them (I’ve tried), they laugh at my essential oil bug spray, and I hate using DEET. Ergo…headnet. Not sexy, but sanity-saving.

Even though this short, 50-mile stretch was hot and buggy, we cowboy camped at the top of a ridge last night, and it was BEAUTIFUL. Tons of stars, the Milky Way was right above us, and Rooster even woke up to a late night visit from a lizard when he felt little feet running across his head. One of our favorite campsites yet.

Today, we are in Kennedy Meadows at Grumpy Bear’s resupplying, showering, doing laundry, and eating some non-trail food. Tomorrow, we head into the Sierras and are in for a real treat with the views to come.

NOTE: We will likely be out of phone and internet range for the next couple of weeks, so don’t worry if you don’t hear much from us. We’ll be soaking up epic views of mountain ranges and alpine lakes, along with a sunrise Mt. Whitney summit! And we’ll have tons of great pics to share when we get back to civilization in Mammoth.

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7/9 Saying goodbye to Kernville.

River guides: Evan, Gabe, Jay, and Collin

Rooster: It’s time to get back on the trail, but not before we say a heartfelt goodbye and thank you to our new friends at Mountain River Adventures. On our last day, a bunch of the guides took us out on some Class 4 rapids, and they were a blast! These guys (and girls) are hardcore, and know how to have a great time. The entire staff, from the guides, office, camp host, drivers, and maintenance crew, were some of the friendliest people we’ve ever met.

Dawn
Kate

Most of all, we want to thank the owners of MRA, John and Rhonda Stallone. They welcomed us to their world, and paid us to work in their playground! We will forever be grateful for the opportunity they gave us to further our adventure.

John and Rhonda Stallone, and their son Sebastian

Tomorrow, we’ll be getting back on the trail. Today, we are grateful for an incredible experience with great people.

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7/6: Earthquakes, and one last ride.

Rooster: We’re just about at end of our time here at Mountain River Adventures. We hit the trail next Wednesday after nearly 6 weeks off. The time has flown by because it’s been so much fun. Today I took the shuttle up the mountain for one more run down Just Outstanding, and had an incredible ride. Clean, fast, with a little bit of airtime to get the heart racing. When JO empties onto Old State Road, the views of the Valley and Lake Isabella are incredible. I am REALLY going to miss this place. Here’s a couple short videos to show what I mean.

Oh, and apparently it’s earthquake season. Our former home in Ridgecrest got hammered by two major tremblers within 36 hours. We’re about 50 miles west of there, and still felt plenty of rumbling. Doing fine, and carrying on.

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7/1 And the good times continue!

Maverick: Another week in beautiful Kernville, and we continue to make the best of this time off trail! Rooster got in three consecutive days of mountain biking last week. The first day he was the lead guide for a dozen riders, and the next day he ripped down the trail we had done a couple of weeks ago. The last day he rode with a group of guys down the infamously challenging (or as he called it, equal parts terrifying and exhilarating) local Cannell Trail. He walked away with a few scrapes, some road rash, and bruising as a result of a tumble on the last ride, but had an awesome time pushing himself on an expert level trail.

As for me, my best friend from high school (yep, that’s 30 years 😮), Angie, drove down from a business trip in San Francisco to hang with us for a few days. We had such a fantastic time and some adventures of our own, hitting up the Sequoias, Dome Rock, and some rafting on the river. We don’t see each other often, so it was a real treat to have lots of time to catch up!

The next week will be packed with holiday activities and work, getting everything ready to hit the trail again, and saying goodbye to all of our new friends at MRA. These people have all been so good to us, making us feel like family and as if we’ve always been there. We will miss them all, for sure…but the trail is calling. 🏔

Rooster giving his pre-ride talk to the group

Up on Cannell TrailSign at Dome Rock, a rock climbing hot spot

On top of Dome Rock (Needles behind us)

Our rafting guide friend, Nate, who is heading back home to Ashland