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X-Apparently-From: <prehistorictony@yahoo.com>
Reply-To: <PT@HikerTrash.net>
From: "Tony Nitz" <prehistorictony@yahoo.com>
Subject: Thru-hike progress to Lake Tahoe.
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2000 11:22:26 -0700

Hey All,

Well, the section of my thru-hike with the Boy Scout did not work out as
planned.  I was to hike the 76 miles from Sonora Pass to Echo Lake with
Alex, the Boy Scout, and Russ, his dad.  Although Alex did very well and was
very enthusiastic, Russ, was another story.  After less than two miles into
their hike, Russ began complaining emphatically about everything.  His 25
pound pack was too heavy.  He didn't like the food he'd packed.  He couldn't
get his stove to work to his satisfaction.  He had at least three or four
mosquito bites on the first day.  The temperature was always either too cold
or too hot.  The 400 feet of elevation gain on the first day was too
strenuous.  It ended up taking us three days to cover 19 miles, but Russ
complained that I was pushing them too hard.  Is it just me, or does Russ
sound like a real wimp?  I thought it strange that he never complained about
all the smoke in the air from all the fires around us.  That was the only
moderately irritating aspect of this whole section.  Of course, I was
recovering from a bad cold, and still had some sinus congestion and a
terribly sore throat.  On the morning of the fourth day, Alex and I were
packed and ready to hike by 7:30, but we had to sit and wait another two
hours for Russ to get out of his bag!  That morning he came right out and
said that he hated hiking and camping, and had never wanted to be there.  I
reminded him that there was no reason for him to be there except to
participate in an activity his son enjoyed.  He agreed, but said he'd
changed his mind and wanted out.  Alex wanted to complete his hike to earn
his 50-Miler badge.  Russ insisted on quitting at Ebbetts Pass.  The worst
part of all this is the way Russ ended up blaming ending the hike on his
son, and making Alex quit too!

Alex had informed me that his knee was hurting.  I examined the knee and
interviewed Alex about the pain.  I explained to him that there was a
difference between normal soreness from working muscles and joints harder
than you were used to, and a debilitating injury.  I explained that my knees
hurt often, but that does not mean they were injured.  Alex had not twisted
his knee, or hurt it in any way.  It was just normal soreness from hiking.
I recommended cutting a hiking stick to help, and making sure he rested as
often as needed so as not to over work it.  On our fourth day out, we hiked
13 miles with a total elevation gain of 1800 feet, with Alex, instead of his
dad, controlling the rate of the hike and frequency of breaks.  Alex said
his knee was actually feeling better, and he was able and willing to hike
another three or four miles.  His dad, though, insisted that Alex's knee was
injured.  Russ used that as the excuse to end Alex's hike 20 miles short of
earning his 50-Miler badge.  Alex was extremely disappointed.  I hope he
understands that the failure was not his.  I think it's terrible when
parents abuse their children emotionally just to serve their own purposes,
or hide their own weaknesses.

I'm back in Reno now to perform more military duty with the Nevada Air
National Guard.  I've been informed that I'll need to return during the
third week of September, also.  I'd hoped this would have been the last
interruption of my hike, but the duty in September is important.  I should
be back on the Trail, headed north, by the end of next week.  Because of all
the unexpected delays up to this point, it now looks like it will be a real
challenge to be able to hike to Manning Park before the end of October.
Mid-November seems more likely.  I'll wait until I return to Reno in
September to decide, but a flip-flop may be necessary, i.e. traveling to
Manning Park, Canada, and hiking southward to avoid extreme weather.  I
guess now I really am hiking at the very rear of the pack.  Stargazer,
Shotgun, Beaker, and Todd should be at least two weeks ahead of me when I

Oh, for those thru-hikers on the list that met a young man named Jesse who
started at Cabazon in mid-May to do a long section hike, I have an update.
He dumped more than half the weight he was carrying, and made it all the way
to Tuolumne Meadows!  I met up with him again at Walker Pass, and hiked with
him on and off until he reached his goal for the summer at Tuolumne Meadows.
We all thought he was going to die when we met him in the desert on his
first day out, but he really adjusted and came through like a true
long-distance hiker.  Good job, and great hike, Jesse!

I had originally intended to attempt a winter southbound thru-hike.  It
appears that my northbound hike could become a real winter hike, though.
Because of the lack of time and money, I will have to delay my winter
thru-hike attempt for another year.  Bummer.  Especially since the money
problems were caused by my poor choice of an off-trail support team.  Russ,
the Boy Scout's dad, was supposed to be mailing me my packages for resupply
and gear changes.  Six of the nine packages he was to send were either days
late, sent to an address other than requested, or not sent at all.  The need
to purchase new gear in trail towns, spend zero mile days in motel rooms
waiting for late mail, and purchase supplies that were not expected to be
needed has cost me nearly half as much as an entire thru-hike should cost!
My completely unsupported hike of the A.T. in '97 was much less hassle.  The
remained of this year's hike will be unsupported, and hopefully headache

Still haven't seen a bear!  I guess I'm just doing everything right.  I'd
hope so after more than 20 years of backpacking in bear country.  I've heard
a lot of criticism over the new Ursack bear resistant container.  Several
hikers have claimed their food was taken from the Kevlar bags by bears.  My
perspective is this:  In over 20 years I've never had my food taken by a
bear.  That's not luck.  The only time I've felt the need to protect my food
in a bear resistant container in the backcountry was in Denali National Park
in Alaska.  Virtually every story I've heard about hikers losing their food
were, ultimately, the hikers' fault, not the Ursack's.  My Ursack will
probably never be tested by a bear.  I consider the $60 investment
worthwhile because it allows me to legally carry a 6 oz. stuff sack instead
of a 3 lb. rigid canister.

I think the problems hikers have with bears can be attributed more to their
camping styles than to any bear resistant container they may carry.  The
real problem with most backpackers can be described with the same
explanation of the difference I see between most thru-hikers and most other
hikers.  Understand the environment you are going to be living in, and
become a part of that environment, as most thru-hikers do, rather than being
a temporary intrusion and burden upon the environment, as most other hikers

Although I'm trying, I probably won't be able to get my entire journal
transcribed up to date and posted online while I'm in town, but I will have
most of my photos scanned and posted before I return to the Trail next week.
Find them at http://www.hikertrash.net/PCT2000.htm.  I may be experiencing
many unexpected delays, but I will not give up the quest.  I will hike to
Canada this year!


"Prehistoric" Tony Nitz
AT97/99, PCT2000

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