North Fork of Big Pine Creek / by nigel grey

Last weekend we cruised up the 395 to Big Pine, just outside of Bishop. Truth be told, neither of us have much real backpacking experience and it seemed logical to try some gear and techniques out before heading out for five months on the Pacific Crest Trail. It was a fantastic learning experience. We debated the pros and cons of bear canisters on the way to the trailhead, and both ended up on sort of opposite sides of the issue. Coreen's right arm felt like it immediately became dislocated when shouldering her pack for the first time. I ended up with some kind of evil headache from a lack of caffeine and oxygen (lots of elevation gain in the first two miles). So everything was going quite far from smooth for this test run. It was a little disappointing even. I felt like a total newb, we both did. The hours of preparation and research (what kind of shoes should we wear, how light is my fork, should I wear underwear, what kind of umbrella should we bring?) were all pretty useless when it came down to actually stepping onto a trail. I figured this would be the case though, there are no training substitutes for the real thing. At the end of the day, we made an amazing dinner complete with corn pasta and powdered goats milk. We had some salty chocolate while sipping hot toddies next to an icy cold creek. We slept soundly beneath the stars and dreamed of lighter backpacks and the imminent snow storm we would hike into the next morning. 

We woke with the sun, stoked that the clouds had cleared up ahead, made a quick breakfast and made our way up the trail. This place is super killer, so beautiful. We stopped by the creek and I tried to fish. I have pretty much no idea how to use a Tenkara rod but I look pretty pro in the photo. I successfully scared every fish away with the fly. Nailed it!

At this point all the clouds came back and it started to snow. We pressed on a few more miles to First lake, and decided to turn around and head back once the snow started sticking. It was a good call considering we had a car parked about 4 miles back, and as John Muir once said, "The hot springs are calling and I must go". For anyone else out there planning a thru-hike of the PCT this summer, I would definitely recommend driving to the hot springs near Bishop instead. It's super easy and you hardly have to walk at all. There is a great book called Eastern Sierra Hot Springs and its only $12.95. Way cheaper than quitting your job for half a year. There was a dude who lived in his van with two dogs over at "Little Hot Creek" he must have figured this out many years ago.

The next morning we crushed a sport climbing route in the Owens River Gorge. We usually climb super hard 5.14's and stuff but decided to climb this 5.7 left handed instead.

We camped out near the Buttermilks and watched the sun rise for Coreen's 26th birthday. Happy Birthday Sandwich!

I'm not sure if we are total geniuses or what, but we got this idea to go to a really cool place and go on a run. I don't know if this has a name, but I think it should be called "Cool Running" in the Alabama Hills outside Lone Pine.

I know we aren't entirely ready for what we have planned (can you ever be?) but we figured a bunch of things out, and now our gear looks slightly used. We are still accepting sponsorships, all reasonable offers will be considered. Stay tuned for details on the Super Radical Garage Sale Party! We are getting rid of many awesome things that you probably need. Thanks for reading, have a super bueno Cinco De Mayo!