View Full Version : Article: PCT Thru-hike #4

05-18-2004, 09:26
Fourth article in a series following thru-hikers on the PCT..

Distance hikers battle blisters, bad water before taking break

By Elizabeth Fitzsimons
May 16, 2004
The San Diego Union-Tribune (javascript:NewWindow( 'FIISrcDetails','?from=article&ids=sdu');void(0);)
By the time they descended into the San Gorgonio Pass, he had developed his first blister, she had paid the price of drinking unfiltered water, and their thermometer had hit 108 degrees.

The two North County hikers, Paul Longton and Nancy Imbertson, were 190 miles into their 2,650-mile trek from Campo to Canada, and they were ready for a break.

In the shadow of the San Jacinto Mountains south of Interstate 10, they doused themselves with water from a fountain, and debated whether to wait to meet a friend, or leave a note and press on for a few more miles.

But it was so hot, and the shade so nice. They soon heard the voice of their friend, Don Line. It was May 4, day 12 of their journey.

"Hi, kids," Line said from under the umbrella he carried. He was their ticket to good food and company, clean clothes and showers -- and a visit from Imbertson's boyfriend, Jim Hagen.

"What a welcome sight!" Longton later wrote in his journal. He and Imbertson, known on the trail as "Buzz" and "Izzy," are keeping Internet diaries at http://www.trailjournals.com.

Longton, a 55-year-old architect and father of two, lives in Oceanside with his wife and son. Imbertson, 39, runs a construction business with Hagen in Encinitas.

May 5 was supposed to be their "zero" day -- no hiking -- at the Line Oasis, their name for Line's Palm Desert home. Instead, they knocked off five desert miles in the morning, before it got too hot, to get it behind them. They finished by 9 a.m., met up with Line and spent the rest of the day floating in Line's pool, drinking beer and eating grilled hamburgers and strawberry ice cream.

It had been four days since Longton and Imbertson parted with Line, one of two friends who joined them from the start of the trail, intending to make it to the San Gorgonio Pass.

One friend, Joe Valenti of Carlsbad, dropped out after limping into Scissors Crossing on an injured ankle. Line decided he was finished before noon May 1, after hiking 20 miles from Warner Springs to state Route 74, just north of the Riverside County line.

"It was just a great place for me to stop," Line said. "It was the perfect day of hiking and I was on top of the world. I figured it couldn't get any better."

Earlier that day, Longton and Imbertson descended into Tule Canyon, just inside Riverside County, to find a spring described in their guidebook as the only reliable water source for miles.

"Everyone should fill water bottles here," urged Ben Schifrin, one of the authors of the book "Pacific Crest Trail -- Southern California." The next water source, he cautioned, was 22 miles away.

Longton and Imbertson found a muddy spring, and nearby, a tank with a working spigot. Imbertson gulped the water without running it through their filter, a decision she would pay for a few hours later.

But it didn't seem to slow her down, Line said.

On May 7, Longton took 5 pounds from Imbertson's pack to ease the pressure on the six blisters she counted on her feet.

"I'm ready for them to be gone so I can stride along as opposed to what ever it is I'm doing that is a bit awkward," Imbertson wrote in their journal.

Despite the blisters, she logged 22 miles that day. Just past Arrastre Camp near Big Bear Lake, Imbertson took a moment to recall her day.

To be continued . .