Trip Report #1 from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT):


Date: 4/20/04


I spoke with John & Pat yesterday, here’s a short summary of their journey to date:


They are on schedule per their trip plan and had just hitched a ride into Julian, CA (one of their resupply points) to pick up a food box from the post office. 


When they rejoin the trail, they will get a couple days jump ahead on their schedule.  They will be going through a very dry area where water is cached and if they remained on their former schedule they would have been competing with through hikers for that water…most through hikers will be starting on the trail after the big kick-off weekend (this coming weekend).


They expect to meet a lot of people as everyone seems to be moving faster than they are…They have met half a dozen very nice people on the trail so far. 





I will be sending out updates as I hear from John & Pat (cell phone coverage seems to be intermittent at best)…stay tuned!





Trip Report #2 from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT):

Date: 4/26/04

I talked to the hikers last night & here's the latest:

They are staying overnight in Warner Springs, CA (elevation 3,200 feet)...They are staying the night at a resort with an Olympic sized swimming pool, tennis courts, lush greens & best of all: an Olympic sized hot springs pool (from what I hear, great for soaking sore feet/body)...They will be taking a zero day (for those of you like me--not up on hiker lingo--a "no hike day".)  They are coming out of a resupply point and have heavy packs again...John is carrying 50 lb of gear/food & 20 lb of water...Pat is averaging 37 lb of gear/misc.

They have completed Section A of the trail...about 110 miles.  Section B will be about 100 miles long and they anticipate roughly two weeks to complete that portion.  Section B is challenging because it contains a maximum elevation of 9,000 feet as well as a minimum elevation, just under 1,200 feet....they are now in the San Jacinto Mountains.

Up to this point, they have been averaging 8-10 miles/day & with the current terrain, the GPS reports that they are averaging 2 miles/hr while hiking.  (that works out to be 4-5 hours/day of hiking time with an additional 3-4 hours of misc rest breaks, lunch/snack breaks etc.)  Their total time on the trail is about 7-8 hours/day. 

As a comparison, many of the through hikers (heading up to Canada) are averaging 17-20 miles/day (but I bet most of them aren't in their late 50's).  :)

The terrain has been gradually changing and Section B will bring steeper, more rigorous days...most likely their average speed will drop in this section of the trail.

They mentioned all the interesting people they have been meeting on and around the trail, they had dinner with a few people they had seen earlier while hiking.


·         Inclement weather: None to report...

·         Evenings have not been as cool as they were early on in the trip

·          Daytime highs in the low 80's...great hiking weather.

·         Scenery has been diverse: mountains, plains & prairies.

·         They are considering taking a 1/2 day diversion from the trail to climb to the peak of San Jacinto (just over 10,000 feet)


Please let me know if you have any questions I can pass along. 

Also, just let me know if there is anyone you'd like to add to the mailing list...stay tuned!


Trip Report #3 from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT):

Date: 5/7/04

Hi All – They must be back in civilization (briefly), please find below an email message I just received from John & Pat


To date, we have covered 180 miles of the PCT from Campo, CA (Mexican Border) to Idyllwild, CA. 


On Thursday (5/6/04) we departed the trail at 8000 feet and descended 4.5 miles down the Devil's Slide Trail to pick up supplies in Idyllwild, CA at 5600 feet. The town is great and caters to PCT'ers. 


On Sunday (5/9) we will return to the trail to continue our trip with a new resupply of food and a good rest.  We will be ascending 3400 feet over 6.5 miles to set up a base camp at 9000 feet in preparation for a 7.4 mile side trip to the San Jacinto Peak at 10,834 feet.


Over the next 6-7 days, we will be covering the greatest elevation extremes of the entire trip.  We will be traveling from 5600 feet to 10,834 feet and back down to 1265 feet where the PCT passes under I-10 near Cabazon, CA which is the end of Section B.


Notable items since the last report:


- encountered two rattle snakes on the trail--no problems

- saw a coyote -- too fast to get a good picture

- took a side trip to Tahquitz Peak (8846 feet)--had to cross several snow fields en-route

- encountered a few small snow patches along the trail above 8000 feet

- have seen a few quail and a few hawks

- have seen hundreds of humming birds

- have seen "millions" of small lizards

- froze our butts a couple nights when camped above 8000 feet

- have met dozens of the nicest, most interesting and diversified people ever sharing one common interest (hiking)


Since the last report, we have been "bouncing" between 5600 feet and 8000 feet and have encountered sections of high desert, high plains, boulder fields, pine forests and dense chamise/chaparral.


The availability and location of water continues to be the driving factor in the determination of our daily mileage and camp site location selection.  Very often we are required to carry at least two days of water and "dry camp" the day between water sources.


We are in great spirits!  Our blisters and feet problems are fine and we are looking forward to a very challenging section over the next few days. 


More to follow later. ...... John and Pat



Trip Report #4 from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT):

Date: 5/11/04

I talked to John & Pat Tuesday night & here's the latest:


They are between Mount Gorgonia and Mt. San Jacinto, 5 to10 miles west of Palm Springs, CA, near Interstate 10 (so they had cell service).


All is well!  They are 2 days away from the end of section B.  They report that the scenery has been beautiful...they have been in the pine forest and are now transitioning into the high desert.


They took a side trip and climbed to the peak of Mt. San Jacinto, the climb was great, some snow patches and amazing views.


They were hoping to conserve their cell phone battery and thought they'd get in touch in 7-10 days (the next time they are near a phone (landline)).


Stay Tuned!


Trip Report #5 from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT):


Date: 5/13/04


John & Pat called me on Thursday night, a slight change of plans…


The night before, they stayed at an interesting place call the Pink Motel in White Water, CA… The Pink Motel isn't actually a Motel at all. It's a pre fabricated pink stucco building at the end of a junk yard about 200 yards off the trail. The owners have let PCT hikers rest up there and recover from the desert heat. They've thoughtfully provided water and provisions for those in need and ask nothing in return…there is a kitchen area with a propane stove, a propane refrigerator and 5 couches for sleeping.  The night they stayed, there happened to be 7 people there, so John slept on the floor.  With the communal kitchen area and so many people passing through, there’s a bit of a rat problem.  John said as he was lying on the floor he could hear the rats gnawing on the walls around him, so he’d shine his flashlight every few hours and they’d scurry back to the shadows.  Eeeeeekkk!!  


The next morning many of the through hikers got up early (4AM) to start hiking.  John and Pat said they ran into these same people later in the day coming back down the trail, reporting that there was a fire on the trail up ahead (possibly started by a hiker’s cooking fire.)  They decided to hitch a ride to Banning, CA..spent the day doing their laundry and some fire research on the internet (at a public library) and then took a Greyhound bus to San Bernardino on Friday morning.  They then planned to take a local bus to Big Bear City and resume hiking on the trail.  They weren’t sure if they would continue north, or head back south and check out some of the trail they were forced to miss.  At Big Bear City, they are roughly 7 days ahead of their original schedule.


Trip Report #6 from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT):


Date: 5/20/04


John and Pat called me at lunchtime on Thursday…They had just arrived back in Big Bear City.  Last weekend (5/15) after encountering a fire on the trail, they decided to hitch a ride to Big Bear City and jump ahead a few days on the trail.  They were interested in seeing the terrain they missed, so they hiked south out of Big Bear City for 3 days (about 25 miles) to their objective of Onyx Peak.  At Onyx Peak, they left the trail at (elevation: 8500’) and lugged their gear up a washout to about 8800 feet, they set up a base camp and scrambled up to the summit at 9100 feet. 


They then hiked the 3 days back to Big Bear City.  When they called me, they were at a Laundromat finishing up their laundry.  They were heading to pick up a food package from the post office and then to the trail, to continue north. 


They are back on their original schedule. 


Their next food pick up is May 26th, there is no phone at the next pick up point, so it could be 10-12 days before they get back in touch.


Excitement along the trail: 

·         They ran into a red/white/black snake about 3’ long…he slithered off into the brush before they could get a picture.


The blister report:

·         John has been blister free, so far…just sore feet.

·         Pat’s feet are more blister prone, especially after 14 miles (she told me with a laugh, we decided that we should stop hiking at 13 miles each day…for the sake of my feet.”  J


Weather to date: chilly in morning and mild in the afternoon, perfect for hiking.

·         Blue sky always, except:

·         1 day of rain

·         2 days of clouds


Trip Report #7 from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT):


Date: 5/28/04



Hi All...I talked to John & Pat last night, they had cell service & John dictated a report to me…


Since the last update:

We headed west from Big Bear City, in the San Bernardino Mts passing to the north of Big Bear Lake, we had super views down to the lake and the city of Big Bear Lake and Big Bear City. 


We continued west along Holcomb Creek through pine forests.  While filtering water in Holcomb Creek, we saw some gold flecks in the water and spent the rest of the day panning for gold, I suspect it is feldspar (fools gold), but we have a few flecks as souvenirs none the less. 


We continued west until we hit Deep Creek, and spent the next two days heading north in Deep Creek Canyon.  We followed along the creek, high above on the ridgeline.  We spent half a day at Deep Creek Hot Springs.  John went skinny dipping with the locals, while Pat was content to soak her feet in the hot springs pool. 


We spent the next 2 days going through burn areas and past Mojave River Forks Reservoir Dam and The Cedar Springs Dam that creates Silverwood Lake. 


The last 4 miles of section C were supposed to be very scenic with views of the San Gabriel Mts, but we were socked in with visibilities of only about 100 feet. 


We crossed the San Andres fault somewhere in the decent to Cajon Junction, CA, but it was not obvious exactly where the fault was located. 


The final ½ mile of our journey in section C was in Crowder Canyon with a small clear stream flowing to the end of this section at the intersection of interstate I-15 and California Hwy 138.  The end of section C marks 345 trails miles completed. 


More to follow later, John & Pat.


Trip Report #8 from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT):


Date: 6/12/2004


Report on Section D:


We started Section D at Trail Mile 345 at Cajon Intersection (I-15 and CA Hwy 138) at just under 3000 feet.  We had a 22 mile uphill waterless segment at the beginning of section D so we evaluated every ounce of food we needed down to the last piece of candy.  We took only the food and snacks that we would need to make the climb to 8250 feet over two days.  The less food we had, the more capacity we had to take water.  I started out with 28 pounds of water and Pat had 12 and off we went.  The weather was warm but not hot so all went well.  Once we reached our 22 mile destination, we exited the trail and hiked 4 miles down to 6000 feet to resupply at Wrightwood.  We spent that night in a motel and the next day climbed back up the four miles to 8250 feet to continue on the trail.  We spent the next few days "undulating" (an over used term in the guide book we are beginning to hate) between 6000 and 9000 feet in the San Gabriel Mountains.  Along the route, we took a few side trips to climb Mt Baden-Powell (9399 ft), Mt Throop (9138 ft) and Mt Williamson (about 8200 ft).  After seeing deer tracks on the trail for about 45 days, we finally saw our first deer.  It was a big eared Mule Deer.  Since then we have seen a couple more but not as many as our fellow travelers have indicated they have seen.


About a week ago, our water filter broke.  We increased our daily mileage to 10-11 miles per day so we could get water every two days from sources that we did not have to filter.  As it worked out, in this area there is "piped water" about every 20 miles so we would only have to carry two days water between potable sources.  We have chemicals to treat non-potable water but prefer to use them only as a last resort. When the filter broke, we put in an emergency call to Natalie and she shipped the replacement parts ahead to Agua Dulce, CA where we are currently, so all is well again with the filter.


We continue to be impressed with the kindness of the people we meet along the way.  Pat and I were contemplating a strategy on how we were going to pick up a resupply package that was about 3.5 miles off the trail on a highway that presented some interesting challenges with hitch hiking because of the low volume of traffic and narrow road way, etc., when we met Terry.  Terry is a retired Civil Engineer and volunteer for the Forest Service and was spending his own time out collecting data to present to the Forest Service in hopes of getting some of their erroneous maps updated.  Not only did Terry give me a ride to pick up our food package, but he also took the time to bring me back to where we met and waited until we broke the package down and hauled away our trash.  The recent photos that Natalie sent out of Pat and I were taken by Terry.  Terry --- Thanks so much for your help we really appreciate it!!!  


The weather continues to be great.  It gets warm during the day in the low elevations and the nights are generally always cool but comfortable.  We had some interesting weather a couple days ago.  We were traveling at about 6000 feet and the cloud ceiling was about 5000 feet.  It was cold and blustery hiking.  That evening we were wearing all the clothes we had as we climbed into our sleeping bags.  As one can imagine, it was a damp cold night but after a few hours the next day and after we dropped a few hundred feet we warmed up.


As we approached Agua Dulce, we started seeing Vasquez Rock formations.  These are a "conglomerate of igneous and metamorphic cobbles set in a fine grained pink siltstone".  One of these outcroppings was about 100 yards off the trail had a cave at its base.  We went to investigate and found a shallow cave about 30 feet wide, 7-8 feet high and about 10 feet deep….plenty of room for our tent and equipment, so we pitched our tent and spent the night in the cave. We continued on to Agua Dulce the next day.  We passed through Vasquez Rocks County Park.  Needless to say, there were many interesting and unusual rock formations there.


Our destination was the Saufley's in Agua Dulce.  Jeff and Donna Saufley are perhaps the most energetic, kind, caring and down to earth people you would ever want to meet.  They have opened there lives and their home to support the cast of creatures called PCT hikers.  Through their own resources, they have made sleeping, shower, kitchen, laundry, transportation, mail, internet, and phone access available to all hikers that choose to stop by.  Perhaps most significantly, they have shared a piece of themselves that make each of us a better person.  These two people are the best examples that we have ever met in our numerous adventures that typify the old saying, "it is better to give than to receive".  It was truly our honor and privilege to share an evening and dinner with Donna and Jeff.  As an added bonus, I got to shake hands with Mike Connors, star of the MANNIX series detective show; he was dining at the same restaurant. 


Arriving in Agua Dulce, marked the end of our travel through Section D.  To date, we have completed 455 trail miles.   Other notable items:


--- We saw a few more snakes on the trail.  A couple of small rattlers and a couple grass snakes.  No incidents to report.


--- There have been numerous reports of hikers having encounters with black bears but we have not had that experience to date.


--- We have seen numerous "mommy" quail and their babies along the trail.


Our spirits are high and our feet are not too sore!  We will take a zero day (i.e. no hiking) here in Agua Dulce and continue our journey on Sunday.  We have about a week to go to complete the last 60+ miles before we are picked up by Natalie at trail mile 516.


I am starting to feel a little sad that our adventure is coming to end but we look forward to the "road trip" that Natalie has planned to get us back to Fort Collins by the end of the month.  We will return to Minneapolis in early July and anxiously wait for the arrival of our first grandchild.


More to follow later.   ............John and Pat Dickinson


July 19, 2004 --- Final PCT Trip Report


Hi all, as some of you have reminded me, it has been some time since I last wrote.  I cannot believe it has been almost a month since we ended our hike and two weeks since we have been home.  First and most importantly, Pat and I are now grandparents.  Tracey our oldest daughter and her husband Chad had a baby boy on July 7/2/04 at 11:50 PM.  Aythan Henry DeBruzzi weighted  6 lbs 15.8 ounces and was  21 inches long.  Mother, father and baby are all great.  Aythan had his two week checkup and passed with flying colors.  (Picture included below).



The last PCT Trip Report took us through Section D.   We started Section E by leaving the Saufley’s in Agua Dulce, CA at trail mile 455.  The first two days in Section E were very exposed, dry and hot.  Fortunately, Joe and Terrie Anderson (trail angels in Section E) kept several water caches stocked in this section so we could get water daily.  Joe and Terrie opened their home to any of the PCT hikers that wanted to stop.  The second night out in this Section, we detoured to the Anderson’s home and spent the evening there along with about 7 other hikers that were passing through at the same time.  I had a very interesting chat that evening with Joe Anderson.  Joe is the “stage dresser” for the TV series’ JAG and NCIS.  It is his job to get all the furniture, props, etc for each shot in the correct place for each days filming.  If they go back to shoot a scene again, he has to make sure that everything is the same as it was in the previous filming so they can have a consistent set of filming sections to cut together.  It was very interesting to hear just what kind of people the actors are when the cameras are not running.  Some of us slept in their back yard and some slept in the house.    Terrie made us all a huge pancake and waffle breakfast. Pat and I and a couple others were on our way that morning.  Some of the other hikers decided to lay over another day.  We continue to be amazed at the generosity of the folks we met along the trail.


The following day we hiked a couple miles off the trail to go the city of Hughes Lake, CA to pick up a food package from the Post Office.  The city was about 2.5 miles off the trail so we hitch hiked into town.  We were very fortunate to get a ride right away and were dropped off at the Post Office.  After we picked up our package, we started to hike to a small campground that was right in the center of town. I took about 5 steps and realized that I left my hat in Steve’s Van (the guy that gave us a ride to the Post Office).  There was a small convenience store that we passed on the way to the Post Office so I thought I may be able to get some kind of hat there later.  We got to the campsite, set up the tent, took showers and decided to go to a nearby restaurant for dinner.  While we were there, Steve showed up.  He said we was looking for something in the back of his van and saw my hat so he drove several miles back to town to return it.  He said that he knew he could track us down since we would either be at the campsite, the convenience store or the restaurant since those were the only places to go in Hughes Lake. Obviously, I was very grateful and relieved that I did not have to try to find another hat.  We invited Steve to join us for dinner but he did not have time but he did stay for a beer, so we chatted for a while and he had to leave.  Dinner was so good that we decided to have breakfast there the next morning before we hiked back to the trail to continue our hike.


Once we got back on the trail, it was a hot, exposed hike up about 1000 feet in elevation until the trail flattened a little around 4700 feet.  We passed another Anderson cache and refilled our water supply.  We knew the cache was there so we did not have to carry as much water up the steep section of the trail.  Over the next several days, we came upon the last Anderson cache and a couple caches that were stocked by David Canfield.  Thank you Joe and David!!!  There were also a couple large concrete tanks (10,000 gallons) that are filled periodically by the Forest Service to have on hand to fight forest fires should it be necessary.  There is usually a hatch that is left open on the tanks so hikers can get access to the water.  The water has to be treated or filtered before use.  The temperature each day was getting a little hotter as our elevation decreased.  The trail for the most part is very exposed.  We did pass through areas with a few pine and Interior Live Oak that provided a little shade here and there.  Our route was on a descending course to the western edge of the Mojave Desert.  The area known as Antelope Valley.  We had vistas down into the desert for several days.   We could look down and see our final destination about 5-7 miles to the North but it was still a couple days away as the trail heads west, north, back east and then swings to the Northeast to cross Highway 138 at Hikertown, our final destination.


On our second to the last day, we had an unusual experience.  As we were walking along in a section that was very closed in with manzanitas (small shrubby type trees) on each side of the trail severely limiting visibility, we suddenly came upon a horseback rider headed in our direction.  The horse saw us before we saw them and the horse spooked, throwing the rider off into the bushes.  Fortunately, the downhill side of the trail was not steep and the rider was not injured.  The horse turned and ran back down the trail.  We helped the rider to his feet and stayed with him for a few minutes until the cobwebs cleared and started walking him back down the trail to help him find his horse.  The horse was about 200 feet down the trail peering around a corner at us to see what was happening.  Pat and I waited and let the rider approach the horse alone so it would not get spooked again.  The rider mounted and was off back down the trail so I guess all was well as we continued down the trail for about 5 more miles and did not see horse or rider again.


On the morning of our last day of hiking, the trail left the Angeles State Forest and entered private land owned by the Tejon Ranch.  Apparently there was some big feud between the Tejon Ranch and the Forest Service concerning the routing of the PCT on Tejon property.  Instead of following the “Pacific Crest” as the Forest Service desired, the Tejon lawyers set the route to follow the extreme boundaries of the Tejon property.  So as the fence line turns so does the trail.  This results in the trail having to traverse 60 miles of desert through the Antelope Valley instead of staying in the mountains.  I am not sure who is to blame for this unfortunate situation, but it certainly does a major disservice to the trail.  For all practical purposes, this section is not passable during the late spring to early fall months of the year when the temperatures routinely get well over 120 degrees during the day and there is no water.


On Saturday, June 19, 2004, we arrived at our destination at about noon.  Hikertown is the  Property owned by Richard Skaggs.  It is 516 trail miles from the Mexican Border, on California Highway 138 about 24 miles West of Lancaster, CA.  Truly an Oasis in the desert.  Richard inherited the PCT hikers about 3 years ago when he bought the property from the former owner who hosted PCT travelers.  Pat and I were the only hikers at Hikertown on the 19th and Richard just happened to be there the day we were.  We had a great evening with Richard grilling and chatting.  It seems Richard is a producer and director among other things related to the film and movie industry.  Interestingly enough, he also knows Joe Anderson.  Richard, as the story goes, bought Hikertown when he was looking for a place to store his car collection and miscellaneous production stuff.  It seems that storing his two Rolls Royce’s, Ferrari, numerous 4X4’s, dune buggies, pickup trucks, connix containers of movie props, etc in the Palos Verde area where he has his main home is too expensive, so he purchased this property.  He said he was quite shocked that first spring day when about 20 hikers showed up at his place looking for water and a place to stay.  Now that he has figured out what is going on, he has been expanding the facilities for hikers and has several improvements in the works.  He has a fairly new KIA sedan that hikers can use to pick up supplies and equipment etc as needed.  There are horses there, a bunk house for hikers to sleep, nice green grass in the yard to sleep and relax on, food supplies, water, gas grills, stove, refrigerator, a new bathroom and shower, etc.  All and all, he has made many improvements to the property for the hikers.   As a side note, Richard is on one of Arnold the “Govenator’s” committees that has something to do with air and water quality in that part of the state (Antelope Valley).  We found the time that we spent with Richard most enjoyable.  It was also an added treat to meet his wife Roberta the following day as they both were heading to Sacramento, CA for a committee meeting with Arnold’s staff.


Initially, we drove our van to Natalie’s (our daughter that lives in Ft. Collins, CO) and left it there and flew out from Denver to San Diego to start the hike.  Natalie picked us up with the van at Hikertown on Sunday, June 20, 2004, as prearranged.


The following is a summary of our PCT Hike:


            Duration:                      April 15- June 19, 2004 (66 days)

            Non Camping Nights:      11

            Trail Miles Hiked:         516

            Total Miles Hiked:        560

            Max Daily Miles:          19.2

            Ave Daily Miles:           8.5

            Highest Elevation:       Mt San Jancito Peak (10,834 feet)

            Highest Trail Elev:       9200 feet

            Resupply Packages:   12

            Bad weather days:      3


This was our most challenging and rewarding trip to date. It tested our ability to mentally and physically deal with the daily challenges of the trail, the weather, carrying our gear, food resupply and finding water.  Just a few miles from one of the major population centers in the US (LA), it on the one-hand was unnerving that we could go for 3 days without seeing another person but on the other hand was extremely satisfying that we had those times to share the beautiful scenery and experience with just each other.  We met some very interesting hikers on our trip. I find it so curious that there is such a wide diversity of people (age, income, origin, education, religion, politics) that are bound together by the single interest of hiking the PCT.  I am still trying to comprehend the extraordinary generosity demonstrated by some of the Trail Angels that open their homes and lives to complete strangers.  I reflect back frequently on the kindness and helpfulness of the many Trail Angels we met along the way.  The scenery was beautiful, the satisfaction of handling the challenge and completing the planned distance, the opportunity to share this experience with Pat are all things that I will cherish but the single thing that made the greatest impression on me was the kindness and generosity we received from the people we met along the way.