Biking Baja with a President Trump

If you are an American traveling in a foreign country, Trump's word choice is likely making your trip more interesting, and possibly more dangerous. Every insulting tweet or headline creates more shock, confusion, disappointment, and anger.  Anytime I was near a newspaper or a TV, Trump was on it. Whether at the dinner table, a restaurant, or in line at the grocery store, Trump came up.  Some people wanted to know if I supported him or told me what they thought- "Trump es loco!". I did not meet any Mexican Trump supporters, though one man told me his niece, now in Seattle, voted for Trump.  He said she married an American and forgot where she came from. 


Baja Bike Ride

On January 23 I left Oceanside, CA for a 3 week ride down the Baja Peninsula.  My route was 1200 miles, mostly on paved roads, with about 100 miles on dirt roads.  A map of my route is below.  The paved highways usually don't have a shoulder, but traffic is light outside of populated areas. Drivers were mostly courteous, though traffic is sometimes moving at very high speed.  There was, of course, an occasional yahoo.  There are endless dirt roads if you want a slower less traveled route.


A Soutbound PCT Summary

In preparation for my hike on the PCT, I largely depended on two blog articles, The Southbound Scoop and Why Sobo?, along with the PCTA website for information. I hope this summary will be another helpful account if you are considering a southbound trip on the PCT. 

If you are willing/able to hike the trail in around 4 months and don't want to be with a large group of hikers, south is likely the better direction to hike. You will hit the Cascades with beautiful snow-capped peaks and waterfalls, the Sierras will be snow and bug free, and the desert won't be as hot (it will be dry).  Based on conversations with some northbound hikers, you may even have less snow to deal with in the Cascades hiking south, than in the Sierras going north.


Southern California: The Dry Part

The southern CA stretch was more difficult than expected, partly due to the transition from one of the most visually stunning landscapes (the high Sierra) to one of the most drab (the desert in the fall). I was also expecting southern CA to be flatter. It's not all desert south of the Sierras, but instead climbs in and out of the desert, transitioning from desert, to chaparral, to forest as you go up.

The most difficult part was adjusting to a trail with few reliable water sources.  Clear cold water is abundant in the high Sierras, but south of Cottonwood Pass, water sources quickly increase up to 40 miles apart. Carrying 2-5 liters of water takes some getting used to, as does being dirty all the time. (There are few swimming opportunities.)  Once south of Tehachapi the trail begins to pass through more populated areas, so resupply and support becomes more frequent, offsetting much of the difficulties with the lack of water.  Showers, laundry, cold drinks and food are more accessible.  Unfortunately there were several trail closures due to fires and an endangered frog, so some road walking and/or hitching was necessary.


The Spectacular Sierras

Hikers I met heading north kept telling me the mountain scenery was going to get even better as I got further south into the Sierras. I found it hard to be true, but it turned out to be so.  I'm now south of Mt Whitney and out of the national parks (Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia), so I'm fairly sure I've hit peak Sierra splendor. I still have about 90 miles to Walker Pass and into the Mojave, but a kind local offered me a rest.

There has been lots of hiking company on this section.  Many people hiking the 200+ mile John Muir Trail and many other section hikers. That has been a nice change, and hiker boxes have been well stocked. Weather is near perfect except for a couple cold snaps that included snow and an hour of steady rain. Nights have been chilly with a couple drops into the teens.

I have so many pictures of mountain passes and lakes I'm not sure which are which.  Below are my favorite pics from this section. Lots of panorama shots as the views are have been expansive.
Hiking into the sunset out of Donner Pass.