To mark the tenth anniversary of my open heart surgery, I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from Donner Summit to Tinker Knob, a round trip of 15 miles.
I departed the trail head (elevation 7,063 feet) at nine o'clock. A pair of runners took off ahead of me. This is a popular trail. I would see a few runners, and many hikers, including a few people walking the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail, from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada.
I've lost count of the number of times I've ascended the steep granodiorite face just beyond the trail head. Sometimes I went to Donner Peak, other times to Mount Judah. A few times I went to Tinker Knob, elevation 8,949 feet. I know I've stood atop Tinker Knob twice. Maybe I've been atop it three times. I'd have to go through my journals to be certain. One thing I know - the camera has not been invented that captures the grandeur seen from the crest of the Sierra Nevada.
The trail in places is literally on the crest of the Sierra, rain on the west side of the trail flowing to the Pacific Ocean, rain on the east side flowing into the Great Basin.
Today I spoke with two women on solo hikes of the entire length of the trail. The first was an American, in her early thirties. Later I met a woman in her early fifties who spoke English with an accent, possibly Danish or Swedish. She said hiking the trail was the most incredible experience of her life. Over the years I've spoken with several women making a solo hike of the entire trail. I wonder how many were inspired by the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.
I met a group of three men in their fifties, and spoke at length with one, a ham radio operator who inquired about the Kenwood TH-F6 radio attached to my Osprey pack. He said that this was the first day of a three week hike for his friends and him. They were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Donner Summit to Yosemite. They were from Oregon and go on many long hikes throughout the Western United States.
Most of my hike was spent alone, my thoughts going here and there, while I took in the views around me.
I reached Tinker Knob around 12:30 PM. Tinker Knob is the core of an ancient volcano. I spoke briefly with a couple coming down from the summit. There is no marked route to the top. I tried to follow the couple's path to the top, but could not find a safe route. I looked about. Nothing looked certain. This is not a good place to suffer an injury. I decided it best to turn around.
I made two 2-meter contacts with my Kenwood radio from the crest, both with 5 watts of power. The first transmission was on the west side of Anderson Peak. I was just above the headwaters of the North Fork American River, and my signal bounced down the canyon walls to the W6EK repeater in Auburn, a distance of about 50 miles. I spoke with a man in Foresthill, and he said I was his first ham radio contact. I regret not writing down his call sign, but perhaps we will talk again. Later, between Tinker Knob and Anderson Peak, I again reached the W6EK repeater, this time talking with a fellow member of the Sierra Foothills Amateur Radio Club. We switched to a simplex frequency, and my 5-watt signal made it some 75 miles to his house in Sacramento.
A strong breeze blew over the crest on the return hike, and the sun beat down, with the temperature about 85 degrees. (It was about 105 degrees in the Sacramento Valley). I was well-hydrated at the start of the hike. During the hike I went through 2.5 liters of water and 1 liter of Gatorade. Still, I was very thirsty on the last mile of the hike, and my thoughts turned to the cold beer in my refrigerator. I reached my vehicle at 4:45 PM, downed a half-liter of warm Gatorade, and headed home.
|Approach to Tinker Knob, from the north|
|View from the east slope of Tinker Knob, to the south shore of Lake Tahoe|
|View west from the crest of the Sierra, between Tinker Knob and|
Anderson Peak, to the canyons of the North Fork American River