Monday, November 23, 2009

Global Architecture Brigade

Hello all! As most of you know, I am currently almost halfway through my Comprehensive Architecture Project (CAP) project, better known as the 5th year professional architecture degree. My classmate, Joey Rosenburg, and I are starting a student chapter of the Global Architecture Brigade here at the School of Architecture at UNC-Charlotte. This student GAB organization consists of travelling to Panama twice in the next year to design and build a small community project (agri-tourism cabin, park facilities, etc.) We are currently recruiting members and starting the fundraising portion of our trip. You do not have to be a student or in the field of architecture to be a member, if you are simply a handyman or good with design you are more than welcome to become a part of GAB. If you are not interested in going and would like to contribute to our effort, I have attached a flyer that we have posted around school, and let me know if you would like to help!

Spencer Warpzilla McKay

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Video Footage Update from Singapore

As Kobie is adjusting to normal life and working at his bungee jump simulator back in Singapore, he is trying to find the time to edit all of the footage from this past summer on the trail.  Here is a clip he just sent me of a stream crossing near Yosemite NP.  

Friday, September 4, 2009

For those of you who are not facebook savvy, here are some panoramic pictures that I have recently compiled from the trip. I will be printing a few of them out for sale at an art show in nearby Huntersville next weekend. School is going well and i'm busier than ever. 5th year architecture is a comprehensive design project, mine is a finnish cultural center in D.C., I will try and post some images as the project enters the design phase. For those of you still interested, tom and kobie are nearing the WA border on the PCT and have just 500 some odd miles left. Their blog is linked to the top right of mine.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Summer's End

        It's been a while since the last post, in which I disclosed the information that I would be skipping a large portion of the PCT in order to make it to Canada before school started.  Since that time, I have done very little hiking to be honest.  Once I skipped up to Bend, OR I was so tired from the overnight train ride that I decided to get a hotel room in Bend via recomendation of Trail Angel Floyd Gust.  I checked in at The Mill Inn Bed and Breakfast and immediately fell asleep, in my room.  I was so exhausted after halfway sleeping all night on the train, guarding my pack, that I almost missed my stop (which consisted of a wooden ramp in the middle of the woods).  There, at my stop, a bus was waiting for me to take me to Bend and Floyd was waiting with a small white sign with black lettering with the three simple letters,    P-C-T.  After I told him where I wanted to go and how tired I was I decided to spend the rest of the day in Bend after my train ride and some grocery shopping for the next 150 mile segment.  Floyd arranged to pick me up from the B&B the next morning and I enjoyed the rest of the day, long nap included.  Floyd picked me up later that next morning around 9 and took me through Sisters, OR and back to the trail.  It was a bittersweet moment hopping back on the trail, in a good way though.  As I hiked through the first 3 miles of forest fire ridden trail and dusty dirt, I rounded and fought my way through heavy brush and blow downs.  I thought it would never end, I was also worried about the trail conditions up ahead, Floyd said they still had a decent amount of snow up in the mountains.... Floyd was right.  The snow up north in Oregon was much more frustrating than the snow I found in the Sierra Mountains.  In Oregon, it was snow drifts, at a relatively low elevation.  Therefore, the trail was not very well maintained at this time of the year and the snow drifts were much larger than I had ever imagined.  Nevertheless, I fought through and made it 26 miles on my first day out after a week off of hiking.  Evidently I ended up taking a wrong turn in a snow drift covered mountain and started hiking down the old PCT, now an alternative route.  When I saw a sign pointing "To Pacific Crest Trail" an hour later, I knew something was wrong.  Fortunately I had run into a hiker going from the CA/OR border to Canada, and she took the same wrong turn.  We took a look at her map, and figured out that the trail we were on led back up with the current PCT.  I wasn't the happiest camper, but I hiked until I found some running water, and made do with a camp infested with Mozzies.  After hastily making camp and setting up my tent, I cooked dinner, and proceeded to eat it in my tent.  At this point it was late in the night, well hiker late, at 9:30pm.  I was tired, swarmed by mosquitoes, and ready for bed.  
        I hadn't slept so well in a loooooong time.  I woke up and it was 9:00am, and I felt like I could sleep all day.  Finally, I got up and hiking after a quick break of camp and was making miles by 9:30am.  Despite the late start, I made pretty good mileage, easy to do when you only take two or three breaks in an entire day and your guide book says there's a camp store with sodas and ice cream where you're planning to camp.  Of course, there was a change of ownership in the Lake Ollalie Resort and the camp store identified in my guide book was closed.  They did still offer campsites, which I refused to pay for, out of heavy disappointment.  The campsite manager did give me a coke after I inquired about the camp store, and it was quite refreshing.  All day I had been fighting over the issue of whether or not I wanted to hike like this all the way into Canada for the rest of the summer, and that really got me thinking.  
       I reflected on why I was hiking, and what it meant to me and others.  The truth of the matter is, without someone(s) to share the experience with is of utmost difficulty, not just physically, but mentally as well.  I reached into my pack, and grabbed a plastic bottle, in it, the ashes of Stephen Harrington, and I though to myself how wonderful it would have been to shared this experience with him.  Then I thought about the Appalachian Trail, and how I always had Ben there with me to live the experience.  It was at that point when I realized, especially after hiking with Tom and Kobie, that without others out on the trail, happiness is only true when shared with others.  Not only do I think that that philosophy is true on the trail, but in life as well.  With thoughts like this in your head, when you're all alone, it is easy to get carried away on the wrong mental path.  There's no one there to bring you back and say "Hey man, we got this."  Without that, I never felt so alone in my life.  It was at that point when I pretty much decided, tomorrow morning would be the beginning of the end of my hike.
       It may come to a shock to a lot of you, some may disappointed, confused, or let down.  But, I tried my best to complete the trail, and without anyone there with me, I just felt an unbearable selfishness.  Not only towards family, but friends as well.  I had ditched Ben, headed out on my own, on a trail that we both wished to do together.  I never fully realized our friendship until this trip, alone, because it ain't easy out there alone.  I had roommates back in Charlotte that needed my help moving out of our apartment.  Mom and Randy even moved all my stuff out a week earlier to my new place in Charlotte.  I know everyone supports my hike, but it just seemed like it should come to an early end.  So the next morning, after waking up in the Lake Ollalie campsite just south of Mt. Hood, my pounding headache and upset stomach were tell tale signs, that the time to call it was upon me.  I luckily caught the hitch of all hitches to Portland, OR from the middle of nowhere via Estacada, OR .  I wanted to be done, to be home, to be excited about school in the Fall; and I can proudly say I felt all of those things.  Not to mention hiking over 1,000 miles in a Summer, and meeting some amazing people along the way (Tom, Kobie, Stacie and the film crew,  Tom & Tori, Ryan, Jeff, and many others).  It all started coming together that this wasn't what I wanted to do anymore, maybe finishing in Canada wasn't suppose to happen, maybe Steve really taught me a lesson.  A lesson that we all need each other, that we cannot do anything alone, and although we can try, even if we succeed, who do we have to share that with?  These are all questions that I thought about before I decided to call it a summer.  
       I have a big year in school ahead of me, and although living in the woods for 2.5 months brings you closer to nature, I kept thinking about my transition to school from the AT and how fast it was.  It did not want that to be the case.  I thought about what I really wanted to accomplish this summer on the trail, and I think I did.  To get away, to realign myself with the great outdoors, to reflect on the past four years of school, and to reconfirm that studying architecture is what I really wanted to due and pursue.  All of these things were answered.  It was nice to get away, to catch my breath after 4 years of intensive design school, but I knew the hardest was yet to come.  I knew that each day on the trail wouldn't wear me out as much as each day in architecture school.  That's my new plan, to put as much as my passion of hiking into that of architecture.  I know I am capable of great things, and that is what I wish to do.  After spending a few days in Portland, Stacie drove up from Northern California and after a rush overnight mailing of my Birth Certificate, I drove the film crew car up into Canada to see the end of the trail.  I made it to Manning Park, the official end of the Pacific Crest Trail.  It was a frustrating moment, in which I was unable to find the PCT northern terminus monument; because it is actually on the border of the USA and Canada, which is 12 miles south of where I was.  In attempt to find the ending terminus I carried just a video camera (thinking the end was just a couple tenths of a mile from the parking lot) and ended up hiking not only four miles, but four miles straight uphill!  After realizing I was ill-prepared and not able to make it to the end, or had taken the wrong way, I headed back to the car.  I decided not to spread Stephen's ashes in a parking lot at the end of the PCT, it just didn't feel right.  So I recorded a video for the documentary summarizing my hike.  It was hard to put into words the past 2.5 months, I can't even recap any 2.5 month period of my life (excluding the AT), because you just seem to live differently in civilization.  Instead of meetings, projects and deadlines, main points revolve around things something much deeper.  Who I've met, what I have seen, and what I have experienced are all things I thought about.  I met a lot of good people, saw a lot of beautiful things, and experienced a trip of a lifetime.  
        After a frustrating border patrol check back into the United States, I drove back to Seattle, and felt satisfied in the trip.  It was nice to see California, Oregon, Washington, and Canada; all of them places I had never been before.  I intend on finishing the PCT, and continuing the completion of the Triple Crown (AT, PCT, and CDT).  It was simply time to come home, and with family and friends and wonderful as the one(s) I have, it makes it easy to do so.  No one made me come out on the PCT, and I'm aware of that.  As I currently move into my new house, and tell all my friends and family about my trip, everyone asks "how was your trip?", all I can do is smile and say "It was awesome".  I don't regret a single thing, and I want nothing more than to complete the PCT within the near future with not only Steve, but with Ben, and whoever wants to come along, because I never really realized until now, its now what you do, its who you do it with, and that mind-set can not only be lived on the trail, but in your day-to-day as well.  Thanks again to everyone following the blog and supporting me along the way, I hope I  have not let you down.

Spencer "Warpzilla" McKay

Friday, July 17, 2009

Away to Oregon

Well my friends, it is only after extensive thought that I address you with this blog. Over the past few days while taking time off with friends I have constalty been asking myself "should I stay should I stay or.should I go." Stay being Bridgeport,CA or go being a skip up to Sisters,OR from where I can hopefully finish the trail. It has by no means been an easy decision and was a hard one to make. From the very beginning when I faced heat exhaustion and an eye infection I knew right away that the trip was jeapoardized (it's full completion). Hoewever, After my first few days off due to eye infection I met back up with the guys I started with, Tom & Kobie. I then continued with them through the desert and the high and low sierra's. Although few following my blog will ever meet them, Tom and Kobie have become truly great friends during this journey. I can only believe that if Steve were here with me that he would enjoy the same friendships that I have made. It is not easy to move on without them, but they understand. School is not a burden that I frown upon, but it surely has not offered me the challenges I've faced on both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. That is why I feel so lucky and fortunate that God has given me the opportunity to be out here.
Recently I talked to Ben about our AT hike, and we often refer to a visit of the resupply in Unionville, NY. There, we were taken in by the now former Mayor of Unionville turned trail angel and he remembers our story to this day. I couldn't help but break into a smile when Bandana told me this (Ben has a friend who is completing a long section hike of the AT from Damascus,VA to Katahdin,, ). Appearantly the mayor of Unionville has been telling our story to hundreds upon hundreds of hikers who pass through his home on the AT. It is hard to put in a reasonbly lengthy blog post the inspiration we have imposed upon other hikers and former mayor Dick Ludwig. Steve's spirit, I am confident, will live forever on the AT and I will do my best to instill it upon those I hike with and meet on the PCT.
Now, as i find it harder and harder to type, I announce that I am skipping up to mile 1989.5 Sisters, OR from Bridgeport, Ca mile 1018. I am neither proud of this jump nor ashamed. It is just the best decision in my situation before I complete my final year of architecture school at UNCC. As this midnight train rolls on I feel confident that getting to Canada is the right decision. I look forward to keeping up with friends made thus far and future friends to come. Afterall, that's what it's all about, as the father of the AT Benton Mackaye said " to walk and see and see what you see.". So that's exacly on what I intend to do.
I have been followed by and independent documentary film crew through most of my hike and will be filmed by them druring my finish of the northern terminus of my hike. It is hard to fully explain why I am out here to a complete stranger, but those who have the time and interest hear about a friend who never got this opportunity that I have recieved. There is plenty more I would like to say, but Hell maybe there will be book some day. Thanks for everyone's love and support, this trip couldn't be possible without you!


-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A little time off

Well I headed out of Mammoth Lakes, CA and said my goodbyes to Tom and Kobie, only to take a wrong turn a mile ahead of them and proceed to go the wrong way for a brief amount of time. In that time Tom and Kobie passed me and I caught back up with them while they were taking their first break of the day. So we did our goodbyes all over again, it's basically been the goodbye that never ends. With a semi-late start of about 10:00 am I was able to get in about 25 miles and over the final difficult pass of the trail Donahue Pass. I camped just below the pass to avoid getting too low in elevation and mosquito territory. The next morning was my birthday, and as I was packing up and putting my rain jacket in my pack (which I also use as a my pillow) I felt something in the pocket, T & K had put some salami and a pack of twizzlers in the pocket with a little birthday note, so it was a good start to the day. From where I camped it was downhill to Tuolomne Meadows of Yosemite National Park. There, I enjoyed a birthday double cheeseburger and met up with Ryan, who I had hiked Mt. Whitney with. I took about a two hour break from there and headed on another 15 miles. I camped right by a creek in Virginia Canyon and had a nice little birthday dinner in the wilderness. The rest of the terrain through Yosemite was a lot of up and down in and out of canyons and the elevation gain/loss was reminiscent of that of the Appalachian Trail. The mozzies were absolutely terrible, I nearly used an entire bottle of Deet in one day and hiking with a mosquito net on your head is frustrating to say the least. I met a wonderful group of section hikers when I camped just about 14 miles south of Sonora Pass which is a highway that leads into Bridgeport, CA. They invited me to come down to where they were camping and we talked all about the trail (which they had section hiked up to where we were over the past few years in 100 mile increments). It was nice to chat with some other people since before then I had seen very few people the past few days. Allen, Larry, Trevor and Alissa (spelling?) offered me a ride into Bridgeport, CA and I couldn't resist. Once I got to Bridgeport I decided to go ahead and just get a ride to Tahoe from Stacie and Christa (two documentary film crew members that have been supporting another hiker who is just behind me). While waiting for a ride from Stacie and Christa I was walking down the street and passed the Jolly Cone ice cream joint where Gary, Jan, and Bob bought me a glorious chocolate cone that hit the spot on a summer day. It was certainly a nice dose of trail magic. From there Paul Mobley (a fellow Sanderson Spartan) picked me up and took me to his and his wife's, Megan, home. We caught up and I hung out with them until yesterday afternoon where another friend of mine who lives in San Rafael, CA (Collin Noble and his Mom) picked me up. Now I am currently deciding whether I should indeed skip a section to get to Canada or to just continue hiking, most likely with Tom and Kobie, until its time for this hiker to come home. I'm currently adding pictures and am accepting suggestions on whether to skip a section or to just keep going. Sorry its been so long since an update. Thanks for keeping up.


Monday, July 6, 2009

A Trip 4 Steve

Ascending Mt. Whitney was one of Stephen's dreams. Although he wasn't able to physically summit the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, his presence was definitely felt throughout the day and the trip in general. I spread a decent amount of his ashes that I have been carrying on top and the rest will be traveling with me to Canada. Kobie was kind enough to film the ceremony from two cameras, here is one of those clips. We all certainly miss his smile, laugh and great sense of adventure.



new pics are up!

Sierra's Part Two/Mammoth Lakes, CA

Hello all,

I am now in Mammoth Lakes, CA, 906.2 miles in. The last six days have consisted of ascending and descending pass after pass (a pass is the high point between two peaks). The lowest passes have been at 10,900' while the highest of this section have topped out at 11.978'. I have continued to carry both the ice axe and bear vault. Tom, Kobie and I have averaged about 20 miles a day which is hard work in the Sierra's after ascending 3,000'-4,000'/day and then descending it. I did have a bit of a string of bad luck this stretch. Friday, as we took a break at a bridge my sunglasses were sitting on top of my hat, as I took my hat off to scratch my head and swat some mosquitoes aka mozzzies, my sunglasses went "tink" hit the rail of the bridge and quickly swept away by the rapidly flowing stream below. Losing sunglasses when you're about to cross a snow field in a cloudless sky is not exactly what you want to do. Then as we descended down John Muir Pass (the snowiest pass of all) I lost my DEET bug spray which was a big mistake because the mozzies have been so bad. Seriously, if you stop hiking, they swarm you and cover your legs. They are especially bad towards the end of the day and are frantically trying to set up camp and get in your tent before they eat you alive. Saturday morning, I woke up, packed everything up as quickly as possibly because the mozzies were already bad, then had a stream ford within the first 20' of my day. With my ipod in my shirt pocket and my camera in my hip belt pocket of my pack I took my first step to cross the swift moving stream. Being as we cross around ten streams a day shoes on and all, I didn't think much of it. So I stepped on a rock with some shallow water flowing over it, what slipped my mind was the speed of which the water was flowing over it and leading into a bigger outlet creek just 15' away. As I took this step, my footing went out from under me and plop, I was fully emerged in ice cold snow melt water, camera, ipod, and all. Fortunately, I landed on my back (onto my pack) and as curse words didn't seem to get me out any quicker, I frantically found my footing and got back up before I was swept out to the bigger outlet creek. My next thoughts went straight to the condition of both my camera and ipod. I didn't want to check their status right then and there first thing in the morning, so I let them dry out. As I continued through the day when I got to camp last night and set up my tent it was time for the moment of faith. So, I turned on my camera, full of pics of this entire section. Everything was FINE. Then, turned on the ipod, a rush of relief came over me as it turned on and played perfectly. Crisis averted! I took a series of buses to get into town, including one in which the bus driver was a former DJ at Raleigh's own K97.5. We had a good chat and eventually hopped two other buses to get into town, I went straight to the Von's (the west coast equivalent to Harris Teeter) and bought one of those Rotisserie Chickens and 2 liter of Pepsi. I sat outside the store and polished off the chicken in minutes. I am now checked in at the Motel6, my home away from the trail, away from home. Stacie, one of the crew members of a Film Documentary crew is also in town and was nice enough to allow me to use her computer for an update. I hope everyone had a wonderful fourth of July and I look forward to reviving my packages n' such from the post office tomorrow from Momma, Lauren, Collin, Cassie, Murph, and Todd.

Warp on,

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sierra Nevada Pics/Bishop, CA

Today has been a wonderful zero day here in Bishop. I got frustrated in the library earlier due to the fact that I was uploading pictures and nearly had them all uploaded and then Internet Explorer quit on me. My thirty minute time slot was up in the library and apparently everyone in Bishop is using the Library's computers today. So I cooled off, did some laundry, made some phone calls, bought food for the next 120 mile section and then decided to come back and give it another shot. Although I did make one tiny mistake, I added the newest pics to the wrong Picasa web album account. Click here and the new pictures will be able to be viewed, I couldn't add all of them because the web was super slow, I will fix it when I get to Mammoth Lakes, CA in 6 days from today when I will be able to use Kobie's computer that he has been mailing himself to every other town.
Since I left Kennedy Meadows, the beginning of the Sierra Nevada's I was in the Southern California section of the PCT. I am now in the Central California section and the difference is astonishing. I only have to carry a couple liters of water at a time because it is so plentiful, and not to mention ice cold mountain streams and snow melts. There are a couple of new challenges that I have been facing which include colder temperatures, bear prevention (I am now carrying a BearVault, which is a hard plastic cylinder that bears apparently are unable to open. One attempts to cram all of their food into this contraption, but the only thing it is really good for is a stool, and maybe a bongo. I am carrying the smaller one in the photo.) and another challenge is hiking in snow. It's called post-holing. Its when you're hiking over snow field at elevation (depth of the snow if not clear) and if it is late enough in the day and the sun has made the snow a little soft, any step could end up sinking you up in snow up to your waist. If you're unlucky enough, both feet will go through the snow and you'll have to take a few minutes to dig yourself out. It can be quite humorous, until it happens to you. You've got to just laugh it off though. Unfortunately, there are often rocks and even snow melt stream running under the snow fields and you don't even know it so you can get cut up and get your feet iccccceeee cold wet.
The conditions up Mt. Whitney were absolutely perfect, it was a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky. I spread ed some of Stephen's ashes at the top, and it was an emotional day to say the least. I knew he was watching over us the entire time, and I could feel him there with me. There's a good chance I'll never be that high on foot ever again, it was an amazing experience. When we descended we looked back up the climb and were just astonished that we had just climbed up the tallest peak in the contiguous 48 states. The next day we went over Forrester Pass, the tallest point on the PCT at 13,200 feet. That descent was sketchy and covered in snow, and we post-holed most of the way down. There was one point where we were able to sled on our butts about 50 vertical feet, that was fun! We've got a hell of a climb to get back up into the Sierra's tomorrow, but once we get up it will be crossing up and down snow covered pass after snow covered pass. I am looking forward to getting back on the trail, and getting some awesome pics for everyone burning up in the summer heat!

Thanks for everyone's love and support!


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sierra's part one

The first half of the Sierra Nevada's are complete. This includes summiting Mt Whitney, forrester pass, and numerous other highlights that will be elaborated upon in another post. For my birthday I will be in Mammoth Lakes, CA. A lot of people have been asking me so of you want to send something please address it accordingly.

Spencer McKay
c/o General Delivery
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Here's a little eye candy for now

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Entering the Sierras

Talked to Spence on the phone via a calling card tonight. His cell phone is getting no signal in the particular town (Inyokern, CA) so a blog from the iPhone isn't happening.

He sounds great and has been doing well on his hike as he has finished the desert. That's right, finished the DESERT!

Warpzilla has hiked 702.8 miles thus far and is looking to hit Mt. Whitney in 3 days.

All for now,
Bandanna Ben

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mojave, CA

Taking a day off in Mojave (mow-ha-vee), CA with Tom and Kobie. After leaving the Saufley's, hiker heaven, the unseasonably cool weather continued over the next few days. This area of trail is suppose to be one of the hottest, waterless stretches of the trail, but was not so for us. We headed to the Anderson's, another trail angel family that hosts hikers and places water caches along a section of trail. Their I piled high with every addition possible. I even got to play disc golf with Joe Anderson which was truly a treat, I typically play multiple times a week at school with Quint, Murph, Joyner, Collin and others. My game wasn't quite up to par, but certainly was nice to play after a 24 mile day. We headed from there it was another 26 miles to the road to town. Cleaned up and showered once again, I am refueled and have had enough town for a while. This last portion of trail consisted of heavy winds, (hence the wind farms) beautiful Joshua Trees, some previously fire-burned trail, a decent amount of switch backs. I am now adding pictures of the last section and look forward to your comments. I hope everything is well in the real world. Thanks to everyone keeping me in your thoughts and prayers.

All for now,

Monday, June 8, 2009

Agua Dulce Zero Day

Warpzilla turned up yesterday at mid-day, as planned at Hiker Heaven (mile 454). The dogs, Pudd & Roxie were happy to meet him and enjoy the enjoy the smell--pronounced "stench"--of the trail all over Spence and his pack. Pudd might have lifted his leg on the pack, but it will go unnoticed... After a couple of beers and a long hot shower, it was time to eat something. Salami, crackers, cheese, peanuts, steaks, potatoes, salad, another beer and he's full. After a good night's sleep in a real bed, bacon, eggs, toast, burritos, chips & salsa and he's recharged! We did a low pass through REI for just a couple of things, refilled and shipped the bounce box and returned Warzilla to Hiker Heaven to be ready for an early assault tomorrow. He looks good. Bright eyed, tan but not burned, 224.4 pounds and eager to get through the remainder of the desert.

It was a pleasure to have him here and I'm glad we were able to connect. I'm making a small garden with the dirt he washed off. California real estate isn't cheap! Go forth Warzilla! We're watching you....

Flyin B
Ben's Fa

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Agua Dulce, CA

Since I left Big Bear City, CA, the weather has been absolutely crazy. The day before getting into Wrightwood, CA I hit a McDonalds as I crossed under Interstate 15. I got there just before breakfast and waited for the lunch menu to switch over and I took full advantage of that. From McDonald's it was a 22 mile 6,000' climb into the San Gabriel Mountains. I camped trailside that night with just 11 miles to the Acorn Trail which would take me into town. I woke up at 3 AM with rain hitting me in the face and a clap of thunder, then a flash of lightening. With all of my gear spread out around me I frantically gathered it all up and got my rain cover on my pack. I then realized it was no longer raining so slid my pad and bag under some low brush and went back to sleep. an hour later Kobie and Tom came walking by; they had packed everything up and started hiking already. I knew now they would beat me into town. I started hiking at my usual 6:00 AM. An hour after hiking and getting closer and closer to the dark clouds ahead, it finally started hailing. The special thing about this hail was that with wind gusts of 40-50mph, it was sideways hail. It became so violent along with the thunder and lightening that I set up my tent as fast as I could and waited the storm out. I finally got started again and hiked through the eary silence of dark clouds above all the way to the side trail, then I began to feel more precipitation and thought "oh no its raining now", but not to worry it was just snow flurries. I finally got to the acorn trail, down it, and in to Wrightwood, CA alast at 3:00PM. It was an adventure indeed. I resupplied in Wrightwood, which was a nice town and shared a room with Tom and Kobie there. We headed out of town the next morning and climbed up and over Mt. Baden-Powell (Robert Baden-Powell is the founding father of the Boy Scouts of America), then finally began to descend. The next two days were spent hiking amongst clouds that constantly misted on you and I saw the sun for a total of 3-4 hours until this afternoon when I was hiking into Agua Dulce. Mr. Burchardi, Bandanna Ben's Dad, was waiting for me the second I got into town and I am spending the night at his house in Simi Valley, CA which is a quick 40 minute drive from Agua Dulce and the trail. I am uploading some pictures right now and should have them up within the next half hour.

Warpzilla Over

Monday, June 1, 2009

On the phone with THE MAN right now

Well, I'm on the phone with Spence right now...

He says, "I swear I feel Jesus' hands sometimes on my shoulder, my right shoulder, and I turn around and he ain't there. And I feel it on the left shoulder, and he ain't there either. You know that game? Yeah, I feel that"

Sounds like all the prayers and encouragement have been helping out!

He's camping tonight in a recreation area and has hiked 326 miles so far on the PCT. In about 1 week, he'll reach Agua Dulce and meet up with my Dad and hopefully get to rest his piggies for a 0-day.

Thanks for following!

-Bandanna Ben

Friday, May 29, 2009

Big Bear City, CA

So, after Idyllwild, I was feeling back to normal and hiked back out via the Devils Slide Rock Trail which takes you back to the PCT.  I felt fine on the entire climb back to the PCT and I camped after about 9 miles of hiking that day. Then I descended from Mt. San Jacinto Wilderness 8,000 vertical feet in 16 long, hot, switchbacked, curvy, hot, brush filled miles of trail.  I then slept that night just south of I-10 and unfortunately right next to a railroad line that was quite active.  Those factors did not really bother me, it was the constant winds that supply the wind farm across the interstate with energy that threw my tent around all night.  I woke up with my tent collapsed on top of me and finally decided to start hiking around 6.  The Mesa Wind Park had an office a few miles up the PCT that offered cold water and some shade to rest so I headed in to take a load off at about 930.  When I came back out the heat was already picking up and I knew I had to get to the next water source and find some shade by noon at the latest.  So, that's what I did and I rotated around the shade of a pointy little tree until about 6 in the afternoon.  Then I decided to boogey on out and the temperature was amazing, so I made some real good time to the next water source.  It was there I decided I was going to eat dinner and hike as far in to the night as I could.  That plan however was spoiled when I started throwing up again after dinner.  After losing all of those calories I needed I decided the best thing to do would be rest, get up early, and hike back out, because Big Bear was still 40 some odd miles away.  So I back tracked about 18 miles with little to no energy and finally got back to the Mesa Wind Park Office at noon.  I then informed my parents about the situation and Mr. Haley got in touch with a friend of a friend to come pick me up nearby in Cabazon, CA.  Don Gatch picked me up and got me to an urgent care center to make sure I was alright.  The consensus was basically Heat Exhaustion and I once again underestimated the sun.  Don made sure I got a place to stay for the night and that I was squared away.  After refueling and getting more fluids down I posted a ride for a shuttle to Big Bear City, where I was going to meet up with Kobie and Tom once again, on the PCT email thread I receive.  Then Rick Press, who bought me my Jose Burger at Paradise Cafe South of Idyllwild, responded on the blog that he could probably help out. So about 10 o'clock yesterday he picked me up and we arrived in Big Bear at lunch time and I caught up with Tom and Kobie.  Now we have rented a car and drove down to Rancho Cuchamango (spelling?) to get to a mac store where Kobie has now just received a new iphone after his previous one malfunctioned.  So I'm enjoying a nice zero day, remembering how to drive a vehicle, and might even see a movie tonight.  We'll be heading out tomorrow and the final stretch of harsh desert is awaiting us.  We are looking forward to the challenge and I will keep you updated.  Tom and Kobie's website is here.  They just updated it last night.  

Fly low and beat the radar,


Thursday, May 28, 2009

new pics

I am now in big bear and have uploaded new pics on to my picasa web album thanks to kobie's handy little laptop. will post a more informative blog later. For now, here's some eye candy.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Off to Big Bear City, CA

After a rough stretch of not feeling well on the trail the past day and a half, I feel that is all behind me and I am eager to head back to the trail. I am getting a ride from Trail Angel David Ledbetter, who also treated me to an all you can eat pancake breakfast here in town this morning, much thanks! I have reloaded on food and have been stuffing my face to regain calories surely lost to hiking 20 mile days with little to no food in me. Hopefully I will have a better time on the trail now, I have picked up some NUUN electrolyte tablets as well which were our saving grace on the AT. I am planning on a 4 day stretch to get to big bear, where hopefully I will be staying with Tom and Kobie again (they left to go back to the trail this morning). Stay posted and thanks for everyone who was so worried about my general well being, I' m learning fast how to take care of myself out here! Hope to hear from you all soon, I enjoy the comments!


Saturday, May 23, 2009


Wel,l yesterday was not my day. The jose burger was the last thing I was able to eat, I woke up with some kind of stomach bug night before last and it ran through me yesterday. It all started going south when I cut my shin on some brush in the trail. That wasn't too big a deal, it was bound to happen with all the scrub oak. Then I had to hike 2 extra miles to get water (which was not a problem) and encountered my first close call with a rattler. Then as I was sitting down to fill up my water bladder I gashed my head open on a broken limb that I couldn't see in the shade. As this all piled up I continued to climb,(a total of 3,000ft) and as I was eating a granola bar trying to get energy for the next climb I took my last bite and it came right back up. I wasn't too worried until it happened again laterim the dayanf I started losing a lot of water. Completely drained from the long day I pitched my tent at 8000ft and instantly fell asleep at 7:30. I woke uptuis morning with one thing on my mind and that was getting to town, getting some food, trying to keep it down, and getting rehydrated. So far so good, and as you can imagine all the parents have been on very high concern as I called them last night. I went to the fire station in town and their paramedics checked me out. Rehydration and refueling and rest is the name of the game now. And... Despite all this, somehow I'm still having a good time. Hopefully these speed bumps will stop soon and it will be smooth sailing.

Stay thirsty my friends,

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vive Jose

No, not that jose, I have just endulged myself with supposedly the best burger on the trail. As you see in the pic, a half pound pattie, bacon, Swiss, avacado, mushrooms, and a heaping pile of fries. The man who invented the hamburger was smart, the cheeseburger smarter, the jose burger...pure genius. That's all for now, will be in Idyllwild,CA tomorrow night.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Warner Springs Ranch

Well tonight I am much much closer to the trail, just a 3 mile road walk, which I will do tomorrow morning. I am staying with Tom and Kobie and we will be heading out at the crack of dawn. I will be in Idyllwild, CA in about three days, give or take. Thank you to everyone keeping up with the blog and for supporting me through my not so fun time off. Although, I was able to type up my 5th year Architecture School Thesis Proposal from my iphone, so it wasn't a total loss. No cell signal at the ranch, I'll try to update from the trail in the next couple of days.

Over and out,

Everybody loves Ramona

Well, after two days in Julian, CA (apple pie Capitol of the world) I have moved further from the trail the past two days in order to see an eye dr. Due to complications with my contacts. I saw an eye dr in Ramona yesterday and he gave me a new pair of contacts, but wants to see me today ( in an hour) because he wants to make sure everything is ok. I feel fine and am hoping for his clearance, then I have a ride scheduled back to the trail this evening. I will be putting back in at warner springs and catching up with the two guys I started with, kobie and tom ( and finally hiking again tomorrow. It has been a long and frustrating layoff, but I'm glad everything is working out and the full length of the trip has not been jeopardized.

Fly low and beat the radar,

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, May 16, 2009


i dont know why the link won't work...try this if you're having trouble

Julian, CA

Taking a Nero (near zero day-not really hiking) in Julian, CA after getting in around 7pm last night after a scorching day of 30 miles and 100+ degree heat. I definitely pushed it too far the past three days, 77.6 miles. I've been hiking with some real cool guys, two of them I started with in Campo, CA (Kobie and Tom), I left them yesterday morning to get to Julian in time to get to my Bounce Box at the P.O. I caught up with Jeff who just graduated from Texas Tech with a masters in Biology (I met him on the first day but we've been passing each other back and forth ever since). We split a hotel room last night after I was severly dehydrated yesterday due to an underestimation of how far away the highway was and the energy draining powers of that hot desert sun. We we're treated to dinner by a lovely couple last night when we got in to town at the local Mexican restaurant, its always nice to receive a little trail magic. I'm uploading pics now and trying to upload a video too, we'll see what the San Diego County Library computer system allows me to do. The biggest thing that the pictures do not really capture is the scale of everything out here, it is much larger than that of the Appalachian Mountains. The link to the pics should be top right of the blog. My next stop in town will by Idyllwild, CA and I bounced my box up to Big Bear City, CA.

not sure if the sound works.

All for now,


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Day one

From the border to lake moreno county park, 20.6 miles in the bag. There was a killer climb at the end of the day that threw a tough blow, otherwise I felt good and have plenty of time to recover for tomorrow...I think. Enjoy the pic, I'm turning black out here!

-- Post From My iPhone


You gotta do work to do work.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

San Diego

Hanging out in San diego right now, with
"Robert reiss at the trailhead". There are three other hilers leaving for the beginning in campo California tomorrow early; tom, coby(so?), and heidi. I might try and hike with them for the first couple of days depending on their pace. Mr. Burchardi was a phenomenal help today picking me up from the airport and making sure I was good to go and ready to make some miles, Thank You!

All for now,

-- Post From My iPhone

He's in CA

Spoke with Spence and my dad and he made it safely to California this morning and they spent the day San Diego getting final provisions. He's staying the night at a Trail Angel's house and they're hitting the road for Campo, CA where the PCT begins. Stay tuned for further updates about our favorite PCT hiker, Warpzilla.

Bandanna Ben

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Got a one way ticket

Things are finally falling in to place for the start of my PCT thru-hike.  My final exam is in 4 hours, Bandana Ben is on his way to Charlotte, Graduation is Friday, and my flight leaves RDU at 630AM on Tuesday.  I've got a base weight right now of 15 pounds (without food or water) which puts me around 30 with full food and water.  I am compiling a gear list for all you followers out there.  Ben's Dad, Mr. Burchardi is picking me up from the airport in San Diego, CA just before lunch time on Tuesday the 12th and will help me get where I need to go from there.  I am now officially being sponsored by Mountain Khaki's for the thru-hike.  They will be running a blog/twitter on me called "Where is Spencer Now?".  They provided me with a good bit of apparel for the trip in return for emailing them pictures and descriptions of my latest experiences.  Stay tuned for a gear list and updates from the West Coast.  

Warpzilla Out

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mountain Khaki Sponsorship

It just so happens that a couple friends of mine are employed/have an in at Mountain Khaki the famous outdoor pants/shorts brand.  Currently in the works is a gear sponsorship.  Hey, I'll take all that I can get!  Just wanted to share the good news, here's a link to the Mountain Khaki website. 

earnin and burnin, breakin necks and cashin checks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hello all dedicated blog followers!  It is one month to the day that I will take my first steps on the Pacific Crest Trail!  The day is coming very quickly and I am currently in the process of many things; finishing up my 20 credit semester (finals should be fun), graduation plans, finding someone to sublease my apartment, moving out, etc, etc.  Hopefully it will all fall in to place.  Either way, I'm flying to San Diego on May 12th, and getting picked up by a trail angel and getting a ride to the trailhead southeast of San Diego on May 13th.  As I am making final gear adjustments, printing out maps, reading up on the PCT, I would like to compile a contact list of anyone you may know that might be willing to help or meet up with me while I'm on my hike.  I would at least like to have a couple of emergency contacts in case I get in a tight spot, cause its a long drive from Raleigh, NC...even though we all know Momma would do it!  Please comment on the post if you are aware of anyone who might be willing to supply some good ol fashion trail magic. 

Fly low and beat the radar,
Spencer aka Warpzilla