My Hike with Glen. (part 1)

Words by: Jeremy McAllistar

Greetings hikers, backpackers, and friends of all ages. My name is Jeremy and I just got back from an epic (for me anyway) 33 mile overnight trek on the Pacific Crest Trail with ultra-light backpacking titan Glen Van Peski. It was one of the best hikes of my life and I just wanted to take a few words to report on the trip (part 1), and share the lessons learned and give my reactions to gear (part 2).

This trip started out largely by accident. I was emailing Glen about an unreleased piece of Gossamer Gear. As we were chatting back and forth we figured out that we lived pretty close and before I knew it Glen had invited me on a trip he had planned.

On the day of the hike (at zero dark thirty) we met at the ”finish-line” for this hike, off of the I-10 at Morongo. After we dropped off a car we loaded up and drove to our put in point at the Heart Bar campground (in the north east corner of the San Gorgonio Wilderness). It was an adventure just finding the trailhead. The fog, freezing rain and the “map” we were using (tiny pages torn out of a PCT guidebook) led to a little backtracking, but we eventually found the trail, loaded up and headed out around a little after sunrise.

I was raining on us at the start of the hike, but it was a beautiful rain. It was the kind of rain that made the greens greener, the browns browner, and the trail slipperier. It wasn’t long before one of us slipped and fell—Glen drew the cosmic short straw and fell as we were crossing a small streambed. He was ok, but he broke one of his trekking poles and had to carry it for the rest of the trip.

After the early mishap, we recovered and really began to find our stride. The rain cleared up and we began chewing up miles and dropping elevation. We crossed from pine forest, through oak wood, past large brush, before hitting the desert canyons that made up most of this trip. We stopped for lunch by a beautiful stream and besides the occasional foot-care problem or potty stop we were simply walking. Not fast, just walking.

We stopped for dinner on the crest of a hillside at sunset and it was stunning. After dinner we picked up and hiked through dusk and on into the night. Night hiking a well-trodden trail like the PCT is wonderful unless you have to cross an expansive riverbed. We found said riverbed (and river) well after dark and we spent the next hour or so playing a fun game I like to call “Is that the trail over there.” We eventually found the trail on the other side and decided to bed down for the night on the sandy beaches of the Whitewater River.

Sand is super comfortable to lay on, but it doesn’t hold stakes very well. When a midnight mini storm came in, both of our shelters threw stakes and fell on us. After securing everything a little bit better in the middle of the night we both settled in to the pitter patter sounds of a light rain which led to a rather restful nights sleep.

We woke at sunrise and got off to a fast start. We climbed out of the canyon we were in through a cow patty minefield and ate breakfast on the crest of the hill overlooking the windmills of Palm Springs. From there it was several miles of windswept desert hiking back to the car. We had just finished 33 miles in a little under 28 hours, but the mileage pales in comparison to everything else I learned on this trip.

15 Responses to My Hike with Glen. (part 1)

  1. Lazarus November 30, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    Did Glen do something creative with his DriDucks jacket? I can’t quite tell what’s going on with the shoulder straps in the photo…

  2. Joe November 30, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    Great story. What did you eat? ~Joe

  3. Jacob D November 30, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    Cool report, Jeremy.

    “It was the kind of rain that made the greens greener, the browns browner, and the trail slipperier.”

    Great line :)

    Looking forward to the rest.

  4. Craig November 30, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Nice post of an eventful hike Jeremy.
    I am interested in the rain gear shown in the picture you provided. It looks like you may be using dri-ducks and Glen might be wearing one of Joe Valesko’s cuben fiber rain jackets made by Z-packs…. I might have that wrong. Can you comment on how each jacket worked for you in the rain particularly any comparison of the breathability of the two? (I use Dri-ducks and am looking into the z-pack jacket but the price point between the two is several miles wide). Also, did you use rain pants and how did that work for you? Glen, if you are out there I’d love your feedback as well. Thanks for your help…Craig

  5. Don Milligan November 30, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Jeremy, Glen,
    Very good read, you drew an image of a very fun hike.
    looking forward to part 2.

    Don

  6. Jolly Green Giant November 30, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    Sounds like a great opportunity and I’m interested to hear about the rest of the trip. It looks like ole Glen is sporting a ZPacks breathable cuben rain jacket. He’s such a gear enabler.

    Cheers.

  7. Randy Martin November 30, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Would like to see a recap of some of the things you learned.

  8. DavoColo November 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    When I was younger and less crotchety, I used to take a sleeping bag and an 8×8 piece of heavy plastic and camp on sand banks along Sespe Creek, there in SoCal. I never bothered to pitch the “tarp” (such as it was). I just laid on it and — if some rain came along — folded it over the sleeping bag, burrito style, and went back to sleep. Low-budget camping at its finest.

  9. B Daddy December 1, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Very evocative writing Jeremy. Thanks for taking me along while I stayed warm and dry this rainy Saturday morning. Cosmic short straw indeed! Looking forward to Part Deux.

  10. Glen Van Peski December 1, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Craig and Jolly Green Giant – yes, that is the the Z-Packs breathable cuben fiber rain jacket. I’ll try to get my gear list posted on the Part 2 article. It was not super rainy – I had a Z-Packs rain skirt in my outside pocket, never deployed it. So I didn’t get a good test of the jacket’s waterproofness, but I was very impressed with the workmanship on it, and it was super breathable. We were walking downhill, so it might not have gotten as good a test in that regard either, but from my first take, it’s at least as breathable as the Driducks. As was pointed out, the price points are a little different. I still think, for what you get, the jacket is a deal.

    As far as food, I’ve written a piece on that, can’t find it online, will find it and post here. But I’ve gotten tired right now of my own cooking, and on a trip on the CDT this year tried a Mary Janes Farms dinner that tasted so good I bought some. On this trip, I did NOT end up liking the one I took, so the jury is still out.

    DaveColo – great description, I’ve done that also, just not on purpose, but it sure was effective.

  11. Jeremy McAllister December 1, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    Hey all, thanks for the responses. Now let me see if I can answer a few questions…

    @Lazarus: Glen isn’t wearing Dri-ducks. He is wearing Zpacks waterproof-breathable cuben fiber rain jacket (http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/wpb_jacket.shtml).

    @Joe: Glen and I planned our own food and ate different meals. You will have to ask Glen about his food. The one thing we had in common was our Probars (www.theprobar.com). Gel brought some extra for me to try. Let me tell you, if you have never tried these before, do your self a favor and pick up a box for your next trip. I especially love their fruity flavors. Fresh fruit is a flavor that I have such a hard time getting on the trail. Everything always ends up tasting dry, hard, and salty. These were a revelation and made up my breakfasts and some of my mid-hike snakes. For lunch I made, what I like to call a “Big SkyPB&J.” My local Fresh and Easy sell a granola “bread” called big sky mountain bread (?) or something thereabouts. I then top with Justin’s peanut butter packets and a Jelly packet that I liberated from my local Chick-fil-a. Dinner was a Fast pack Pad Thai that I picked up from Chad over at Sticksblog.com (http://sticksblog.com/2012/05/06/meal-time-fastpack-pad-thai-w-spiced-olive-oil/). It was awesome. That was most of my food for the trip.

    @ Jacob D: Thanks for the complement. I like to write and the rest is coming soon.

    @Craig: You will have to wait for Glen for the comparison. I’ve only used the dri-ducks, and this was also Glen’s first hike in the WPB Cuben. It might be better. Is it $200 better? Not unless it flies off of me and magically parts the clouds where I’m waking so that no rain even touches the trail that I’m on. Then, maybe it would be $200 better ☺.

    @ Don: Thanks for the comment. Part 2 is coming soon.

    @ Jolly Green Giant: An enabler indeed. After seeing all of this state of the art gear, I think I spent all of the rest of my birthday money.

    @ Randy: Part 2 contains all of that info and it will be coming soon to a CPU near you.

    @ DavoColo: Low-budget indeed. Glad I didn’t have to resort to that on this trip.

    Keep the comments and questions coming folks and I’ll do my best with the answers.

    God Bless, Jeremy

  12. Grannyhiker/Mary December 2, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    When are we going to see a report from the annual lightweight gear manufacturers backpack (this year, I understand, Grant Sible, Ron Moak, Henry Shires)? I enjoyed hearing their panel discussion at the ALDHA West gathering this year. They were going to head out, I believe, the next day.

  13. Will Rietveld December 5, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Hey Glen, couldn’t help but notice in the article that you took a fall and broke a pole; I thought it was the people who hike with you that did that! Now I feel a bit exonerated since I did that twice. Nice to know that you are still out ahead on the trail and whats in your pack. The ZPacks raingear sounds like an excellent UL choice, even better than Tyvek :) Best wishes, Will

  14. Glen Van Peski December 16, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    Yeah, Will, it’s been a long time since I’ve broken a pole, maybe never with the latest construction. The ZPacks was a little heavier than my Tyvek, but I sure would have liked to give it a try on that trip with you in the Weminuche. THAT would have been a worthy test… maybe next year.

  15. Glen December 18, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    For those interested, I’ve posted my gear list from the trip, and my 2011 personal food strategy at the very end of the Part 2 trip report.

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