North on the Saône

With about three weeks left before we head off for our Baltic cruise we decide to explore the northern reaches of the Saône.

We’ve had a couple of really hot days but, for the most part, the weather has been lovely. The nights are usually in the high 50’s to low 60’s and the days usually top out in the mid-80’s.

Leaving Gray, our second night out on the Saône

We usually try to stay in marina’s or towns with electricity service so we would have fans in the evening (I am working on changes to the boat wiring to allow us to have fans when we are not on shore power).

We are feeling more comfortable about nature mooring (nosing up to the bank and shutting off the engine) since I think I have found (and fixed) the engine starting problem.

Bert helming through the “Souterrain de Savoyeux”

Most of the time we are in the river with short “deviations” through canal sections to bypass portions of the river that are not navigable. We usual do 2-4 locks per day though they tend to be pretty deep (3 meters or so). And we did have one bad experience sharing a lock with a couple who clearly did not know what they were doing – their boat kept hitting the front doors. Not good.

Cocktails on shore

We often have dinner off the boat when we are in marinas since there is often little shade. We deploy our table and chairs and enjoy the shade.

We stop during the day at any place that looks interesting (a chateau or the remnants of a 13th century castle for instance). And we took a short side trip to Traves to see the “Pierre Percée” (pierced standing stone). They have no idea how old it is or who put it up.

And we always try to slow the boat when we pass fisherman so as not to disturb them, though sometimes that is difficult.

Typical French fisherman.

A Week with the Kids!

After our shake-down cruise we welcomed Francis and Emilie on board for a week of cruising on the Rhine au Rhone canal. Still having engine starting issues but … it works most of the time.

Route for the weeklong visit of Francis and Emilie

With only a week we decide on a one-way cruise. First, a short jog up the Saone to Auxonne and then back down the Saone to catch the Canal de Rhone au Rhine (the Saone empties into the Rhone at Lyon so is considered part of the Rhone system).

Auxonne

Napoleon is pretty big in Auxonne – he went to military school here and they are quite proud of him. After walking around a bit we drug our chairs up to a pretty spot (out of the sun!) overlooking the river for a aperitif.

Wine!!!

A bit later the most amazingly dirty boat pulled in right behind us. I think it belongs to Pigpen.

And the award for dirtiest boat goes to…..

We left Auxonne in the morning and headed for the first lock on the Canal de Rhone au Rhine. The canal jumps in and out of the river Doube and a good part of our trip was in the river. The first lock is manned and we got a lecture about safety, locking technique and how to operate the remote that we were given to operate the locks in this canal (they are almost all automatic).

Dole

Marina with Dole in the background (arrow is our boat).

We did a longish day (7 locks and 25Km) to get to Dole. We planned to spend all next day here exploring. This turned out to be a great call since Dole is wonderful. Charming city with lots of shops and restaurants and the marina is quite nice.

And Louis Pasteur is BIG in Dole. He was born here and this year is the bicentennial of his birth. We had a nice dinner at a place on the (no longer used) Canal des Tanneurs where, incidentally Pasteur’s father had a business and where Pasteur was born.

Dinner on the Canal des Tanneurs

And, because there is always something we don’t understand, here is a little gem from Dole… I especially like the DeLorean as a waffle.

Besancon

From Dole we took two days to get to Besancon, the biggest city on this excursion with a population well over 100,000. We stopped at Ranchot, a little town the first night.

Our anchorage at Ranchot.

We wandered around the village and stumbled into a local artist exhibition in the chapel where Francis and Emilie bought a souvenir painting.

Lunch in Ranchot

The trip from Ranchot to Besancon is highlighted by a short tunnel section and one double lock.

Besancon is a very old city (dating back to Roman times). The original city was on almost an island made by the Doube and easily defended. There are still remnants of huge fortifications above the city.

Old part of Besancon. Circle is where we moored.

Fortifications overlooking the entrance to Besancon from the Doube.

We spent an afternoon at the Victor Hugo museum (he was born there) and did the tourist “Petite Train” ride around the city.

This region (Franche-Comte) was not part of France until the 17th century when it was conquered (by Louis 14?) (though it was also part of Spain – this is very confusing). And some people obviously think that was a mistake.

Myfavorite piece of graffiti in Besancon – Evil Spongebob!

Shakedown Cruise Complete!

After two weeks on the Saône and Seille we are back in St Jean de Losne waiting for Francis and Emilie to join us for a week. The map shows our route south from St Jean for the two weeks we were out. Total distance was about 180 km.

Map of our shakedown cruise

Down the Saône

After leaving Tournus we did an out-and-back route on a side canal to Pont-de-Vaux. Not a great canal and not much to see or do in Pont-de-Vaux so probably won’t be doing that one again.

Bert making friends in Pont-de-Vaux

We got back to Tournus after a rainy day. We really like Tournus – it has a great hardware store, a Supermaché within easy walking distance and has a great little place to moor the boat right on the Saone. Also there is a pretty good pizza place right on the river.

View from our mooring in Tournus

After re-supplying in Tournus we continued down the Saone. We decide (after talking to Alex and Deb on “Sadie”) to take a little detour up La Seille. Pretty little river that is navigable (with locks) up to Louhans. The first lock has an operator but the remaining three are all manual and boaters are responsible for operating the locks.

Eclusier on the first lock La Seille
Walking to dinner is Cuisery.

Spent a night in Cuisery before continuing on to Louhans. Louhans is supposed to have a great market on Monday so we want to be there for it. Unfortunately it rained all day so we got completely soaked operating the locks.

Raining on the way to Louhans

It was still raining when we left Louhans but the forecast is improving. We get lucky and most of the rain has stopped by the time we hit the first lock.

Our system for these locks is for me to hop off and do all the lock stuff (doors and gates) while Bert wrangles the boat. Works pretty well – I have no idea how a solo cruiser would handle this.

Someone having a very bad day

Back onto the Saône heading to Macon and we saw what can happen if you ignore the channel markers. This was a Le Boat rental and it looked like everyone had been evacuated. And there are big barges on the “Grand Saone” (the part of the Saone from St Jean-de-Losne to Lyon).

One of the bigger barges we saw.

Macon is one of the oldest cities in France, dating back at least 2,000 years but there is very little old stuff remaining because most of the city was destroyed in the religious wars. There is one strange old wooden building dating from about 1500 that still survives. It is covered in carvings of naked guys and monkeys.

The marina is very nice and there is a lovely shaded path from the marina to town but Macon itself is not particularly charming. We did a short run into town which was lovely.

Leaving Macon we headed north towards our home berth in St-Jean. We stopped for Martini Night in a an old, unused lock that somebody has converted into a mooring with services. It was nicer than it sounds.

Martini Night on the Saone.

And with only minor engine starting issues we finally reached St-Jean…

Home!

Finally Cruising!

After three weeks and a few days we finally raised anchor and headed out onto the Saone!

Back on the Boat

After being evicted from Decize for four days so the mechanics could have their way with her we finally moved back aboard Friday, June 17, almost exactly three weeks from the day we arrived in St Jean. No one was around when we finally got permission to return and, of course, the engine didn’t start. But… a couple of texts later and an H2O guy shows up with the big booster and we started Decize and moved back to the marina.

Finally back in the Marina!

St Jean had a big festival Saturday so we stayed one more day to enjoy the fun.

Cruising – Week 1!

Sunday we weighed anchor and headed south on the Saone, still a little concerned about engine starting issues …. but hopeful. Our first day we cruised 48 Km to Verdun-sur-le-Doub passing through two of the big locks on the Saone.

It was a hot, windy day and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the Captainerie served ice cream, beer and wine.

View of the Captainerie in Verdun-sur-le-Doub from our boat.
Decize from the Captainerie

With the exception of a few pretty impressive thunderstorms things are going well – the engine has started first time, every time so far. We spent two nights in Chalon-sur-Saone, a big city after three weeks in St Jean and we nabbed the last visitor spot, too bad for the people in Le Boat rentals!

Entrance to the Port de Plaisance of Chalon

And Roberta finally got her first Leffe Ruby.

We left Chalon after some major shopping (including a lot of fans!) and headed for Tournus, a place we have never been but will definitely return to. A great town with lots of shops and restaurants and a great hardware store (though a strange obsession with hair – I counted 8 coiffures in a four block area).

We spent an afternoon exploring, visiting the famous Abbaye Saint Philibert.

Our mooring in Tournus.

Two weeks, no motor, new bikes and the hunt for the elusive martini glass!

We arrived in St-Jean-de-Losne almost exactly two weeks ago. We had planned to spend a week provisioning and getting the boat ready before heading out… but things have not quite worked out.

We arrived late on Thursday and were unable to secure a taxi so …. after 24 hours of travel we had a lovely mile walk from the train station to town.

Our first view of St-Jean-de-Losne on the road walk from the train station.

The next morning we walked to the marina looking for Decize. We were directed to the H2O workshop area where we found Decize moored on the ramp.

And on board a bottle of cremant and a nice note from H2O.IMG_0745_8756

So… we are good to go, right? Tried starting the motor so we could move over to the marina but …. nothing happens. Over the course of the next week we moved out of hotel and onto Decize, we got moved from the ramp to the workshop dock and we finally met with the shipyard manager.  And….the engine still doesn’t start!

After an hour or so troubleshooting (Thursday, exactly one week after we arrived) we all agree that the problem is the starter motor. So… another almost full week waiting for the starter motor.

While waiting we decide to take the train to Dijon and get bikes. The train runs a couple of times a day and takes about 30 minutes.

Waiting for the train in St Jean

The first bike shop we walked into had exactly what we wanted.  We bought two bikes and were told to return in the afternoon to pick them up so headed for downtown Dijon to search for things we could not get in St Jean… a picture frame and …… MARTINI GLASSES! Martini glasses are not a thing here in France and we have yet to find decent ones (though we continue to look).

IMG_0873_2471
Our new bikes on Decize
Bert with our new “Martini” glasses.

And, of course, being Jason and Roberta we decided not to wait for the train (three hours away) and decided to ride out new bikes back to St Jean (about 35 kms). Did I mention these were city bikes? With not much in the way of suspension? We took the recommended route, the canal towpath which started out paved but quickly turned to rough gravel. Two hours, tired and hot, with sore butts, we pulled into the marina. But we beat the train!

Meanwhile back in motor-land we finally got our new starter in and installed. After several false attempts we finally go the motor started! We even took Decize for a quick spin around the marina but….. well more on that next post when I explain why we still haven’t left St-Jean after two full weeks.

Our new starter motor!!!

Lists, Lists, Lists and Boxes

As I type this we are 10 days from leaving for Europe for five months and….. still no word from the shipyard about the status of our boat (Decize)…

Lists!

Leaving our townhome for 5 months requires a lot of lists. Lots and lots of lists. Here is one to give you an idea. There is no way we could do this without lists. This is our Townhome list. We also have a Boat Box list, a Boat Supplies list, a Medical Supplies list, and a Final Day list. Just to name a few.

  • Long stay (6 month) visa (Received)
  • Set up sprinkler systems (Done)
  • Car maintenance 30K miles (Done )
  • Prep car for 5 months (Trickle charger/fuel stabilizer)
  • Keys to Richard/Linda (Done)
  • Keys to neighbors (Done)
  • Program shades. (Done)
  • Pay 2021 taxes! (Done )
  • Back Gate lock – combination lock! (Done)
  • Replace AC filters. (Done)
  • Get copies of utilities (Electric and Gas) (Done)
  • Medical Kit (Done)
  • Practice packing (Done)
  • Mail – Virtual Post Office (Done)
  • Complete Itinerary to Richard/Linda/Francis (Done)
  • Stop Newspaper (Done).
  • Pack/ship boxes to marina (DonePicked up May 10)
  • Get latest (4th) Covid vaccine booster (Done – May 11).
  • Notify neighbors that we will be gone (Done)
  • Arrange lawn care (Done)
  • Car Inspection (Done)
  • Laptop backup
  • Empty/clean fridge (last day)
  • Drop cloths (for furniture)?? (Done)

We review the lists every few days and it looks like we are close to actually finishing some of them….

Boxes

We decided early on that with all the stuff we wanted to take to the boat we would need to either take extra luggage on the plane or ship stuff directly to the marina. We opted for the latter (neither of us relishes the idea of schlepping heavy luggage up and down stairs at the train stations).

After a little online research we settled on Sherpr , a company who promises you can “skip the hassle and ship your luggage & boxes ahead of time!” We started planning our boxes. As they say on their website “we make the customs process simple for you.” Maybe. We’ll see. We ended up with two boxes (medium sized boxes weighting about 40 lbs each) costing a total of about $350.

Prohibited Items

And the list of “Prohibited Items” is pretty extensive. I think my favorites are “Juice Liquid Living creatures” and “Christmas Crackers”. I’m not even sure what those are. And, of course, no “Pornographic material”… “of any kind!”.

The boxes were picked up by a UPS driver five days ago. A few days later we received a request from a UPS person in France (at least we think he/she was in France as the email was in French) for a signed “ATTESTATION DE NON REVENTE ” along with a copy of my passport. Basically swearing nothing in the boxes is for resale. Will update this post when and if the boxes arrive…

Box update: Our boxes arrived! We put Apple AirTags in our boxes and tracked their progress. After about a week they arrived in St Jean de Losne!

Our boxes have arrived!!!

Decize… in the water? Oui ou Non?

And, ten days from departure, we still have no word from the shipyard about the status of our boat. Since Decize is our home for the next five months this is a little worrisome but we are hopeful….

France Long Stay Visa ….

We are heading back to Europe after an almost two year hiatus due to the Pandemic. We did a quick trip last year to check on the work on the boat (which is STILL not done, of course) but this summer will, hopefully, be our first cruising season on Decize.

The first thing we needed was a long-stay tourist visa. The standard visa (which, for US citizens, requires nothing more than a valid passport) is only good for 3 months and we are planning on being gone closer to 5. Here is the official statement on the “long stay” visa:

For any stay in France exceeding 90 days, you are required to apply in advance for a long-stay visa. In this instance your nationality does not exempt you from requirements.

Whatever the duration of your planned stay, the duration of your long-stay visa must be between three months and one year. In order to extend your stay beyond the period of validity of your visa, you must apply for a residence permit at a prefecture.

During its period of validity, the long-stay visa is equivalent to a Schengen visa, enabling you to move around and stay in the Schengen Area outside France for periods not exceeding 90 days over any period of 180 consecutive days, under the same conditions as if you held a Schengen visa.

Official France Visa Website

Besides a fee (about $100) you have to provide a bunch of documents. The consulate in Houston no longer handles the processing of the visa (though you still have to start the process at the official French site )- they now use a private firm that verifies your documents, records biometrics (fingerprints, photos) and takes your money (VSF Global). VSF then send everything to the French embassy in Washington for approval. If everything goes well you get your passport back (in 2-4 weeks) with the visa.

Not sure what you do if you are not in one of the 10 US cities that has a VSF Global office – fortunately we are. As stated above the visa is good in the Schengen zone for up to 90 days which is good as we plan on travelling outside of France. The Schengen area is ” an area comprising 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders.”

Schengen Area (Blue)

Required Documents

Requirements for a “Long-Stay” visa.

Some of this is easy, the passport and passport-size photo for instance, but just what the heck is a “note verbale” for instance? You MUST have a piece of paper for each box on the list. Here’s what we provided (and it worked!):

  • Travel Document: Passport
  • ID Photo: Passport pictures (Walgreens)
  • Purpose-1: A signed letter promising “not to exercise any professional activity in France.”
  • Purpose-2: We don’t have “pension certificates” in the USA. We worried about this one a bit. We finally provided copies of our latest social security statements.
  • Funds: A copy of our latest bank statements (not sure how much they are looking for).
  • Accomodation: We provided the address of our marina and a copy of the sales contract for Decize. The marina address would probably have been sufficient.
  • Health Insurance: “A copy of your American health insurance card is not acceptable .” You need a “travel health insurance certificate covering costs for medical repatriation, and emergency and/or hospital treatment, for a minimum amount of €30,000“. More on this below.

Travel Health Insurance

There are lots of companies that offer travel insurance. My advice is to avoid the US companies as they are ridiculously expensive. The range of premiums is huge (from hundreds to thousands of dollars). We elected to go with a premium package from Europe Assistance .

Total cost for both of us was €477 (about $570). A minimum package (that still meets the requirements) would have cost about €300, for both of us for 5 months. This is less that we pay for one month of health insurance for Roberta in the US. (This is where I start a rant about how totally screwed up the US healthcare system is but…. I won’t.)

The Interview

The interview at the VSF Global office in Houston (on the West Loop) took about an hour for both of us. You have to schedule an appointment online. The interviewer was very nice. We did not have a “we won’t work letter” (you MUST have a piece of paper for EACH applicant and EACH item on the list!) but she let us write one out by hand. We had to pay a copying fee for each page that needed to duplicated and for the actual visa application (for some reason the ones we brought were not acceptable?).

Total cost (VSF’s fee, the application fee and copying charges) was about $150 each. We also had to have our photos taken and provide fingerprints.

Visas!

And… after about two weeks we received our visa-enabled passports back via Fedex… (these pics have the actual visa numbers and dates blurred out).

Lone Star Trail in Review

I recently did a 5-1/2 day thru-hike of the LST. These are my observations/thoughts on the trail.

My favorite campsite, on Lake Conroe

Campsites

I camped at three of the designated primitive campsites on my hike. They were indeed primitive, consisting of a fire ring ,a couple of tent sites and, sometimes, a log to sit on. I’m not complaining, it’s nice having a cleared flat tent site but there is not much here. The other two nights I camped in Sam Houston State Park, which was both expensive and not that great, and a primitive campsite which was lovely. I stopped for breaks at Stubblefield and Double Lake CGs and would try to arrange a night at Double Lake when I do the LST again. It was such a lovely setting. My first camp was probably my favorite, a primitive camp on lake Conroe around LST mile 16.5.

Trail conditions

With the exception of the East Fork of the San Jacinto river crossing and a couple of miles around LST 93.0 the trail was excellent, packed earth with few rocks and well-maintained. I would guess over the 96 miles I stepped over roughly 200 fallen logs but that’s to be expected. There was also one swampy area (where the trail crosses FS202D) I was able to detour around.

Weather

There are not very many winter thru-hiking opportunities that do not involve ice axes, snowshoes or skis. The Lone Star Trail is an exception. At under 100 miles you only need a 6-7 day weather window which is quite common even in January. I only had one cold, wet day.

Other hikers/people

On the first day I passed three thru-hikers. I never saw these guys again. I also saw three or four day hikers near Lake Conroe. After that, over the next five days, I saw a grand total of one other hiker, a guy who was doing a west end yo-yo. Also I don’t think I saw a single car at any of the trailheads (which were very nice, by the way). I met a lone hunter near the end (in the swamp around mile 94). So, in four and and half days, after I left Huntsville State Park, I saw a total of two people.

Bridges

The bridges on the trail were, for the most part, in good condition. There were some damaged walkways near the end and, of course, there is no bridge of any kind across the East Fork of the San Jacinto.

Wildlife

With the exception of a couple of squirrels and a beaver I did not see another animal besides birds. This may have something to do with the fact that hunting is allowed.

Signs/Trail markings

The trail is extremely well blazed. And there are more signs than I think I have ever seen on a hiking trail. It would be really hard to get lost on the LST.

Dogs

Just what the heck is the deal with some people and their dogs? This is the only hike I have ever taken pepper spray on and I’m glad I did. Especially if you hike without poles you should have pepper spray. I sprayed two dogs and almost sprayed a third. I have never had dog problems like this on a trail it was very disconcerting and scary a few times. I love dogs. I’ve had a dog. The problem is not dogs, the problem is people.

Road walking

Like most thru-hikes there is some road walking. Mostly rural roads with very little traffic and a nice change from the trail. The exception is the 3 miles after leaving Evergreen, on FM 945, extremely narrow shoulders and cars doing 65 mph. This was not a fun hike part of the hike. If you decide to try to hitch this section you should try getting a ride in Evergreen because there is no place for cars to pull off once you leave.

Trash

The trail was very clean with little trash except in a few places, mainly near road crossings. I did see the odd bit of TP.

Trash at FM945

What I learned, what I would do differently.

Not much, but a few things:

  • Take the “unofficial” East Fork bypass. Swimming at 35 degrees was not fun.
  • Try to cache at least one food drop to reduce pack weight at the start.
  • Try to schedule a night at Double Lake CG. It was a very pretty spot.
  • Try to pick a week without rain!
  • Skip Huntsville State Park – the extra miles aren’t worth it. Who needs showers?!

Lone Star Trail, Days 5-6

Day 5 – Thu, Jan 25 – LST 83.5

East Fork of the San Jacinto

Up and hiking by 7:15 AM. 2 miles later I am at the east fork of the San Jacinto (8 AM). The water looks deep so I scouted up and down river looking for logs across the river. I found one and attempted to cross but the bark kept flaking off and it was a good 5 feet above the water so I backed off.

My first attempt to cross – bark and loose debris on the log made me back off.

I found a pile of logs that looked easier to cross on, as they were on the water surface. As I attempted to cross the logs moved and I fell into the water. I ended up standing in water up to my lower chest. I scrambled back onto the logs and crossed to the other side..

My second (and final) attempt to cross was here.

My pack was wet up about 3/4 of the way. My pants and shirt were soaked. Fortunately my clothes bag is at the top of my pack so my other clothes were dry and I was able to quickly get into some dry clothes which was important since it was 35°. I ended up hiking in my long-johns which was not only stylish but comfortable.

After I got dry clothes on and started hiking I realized I had lost my sun hat when I went into the water. Over the next hour the sun came out and by the time I got to double Lake Campground my clothes are starting to dry a bit. I stopped for short break and laid my clothes in the sun.

Drying clothes at Double Lake CG

Double Lake is a pretty little campground with all the usual amenities. If and when I do this trail again I will definitely try to camp one night here. I was able to dump my garbage and grab a little water here also. Access from the trail is great – not more than a couple hundred yards.

The Double Lake CG across the lake.

The weather just got better today, warming up nicely. I stopped for lunch at about mile 11 at near the last crossing of Big Creek. I got water and filtered it and laid out all my river wet clothes, sleeping bag and tent to dry in the sun while I ate lunch.

Lunch of champions!

The water in Big Creek filters clear and tastes wonderful. In an hour everything was dry so things are definitely looking up.

I humped 4 L of water to my last primitive campsite at mile 83 1/2. I have one bar of cell coverage here so I was able to call Roberta and let her know that the plan is still to arrive tomorrow around noon.

And a pleasant surprise! Some kind hiker left some extra food in the camp mailbox (each PCG has what looks like a mailbox with a trail register and trail info). I was getting kinda low on food so the raisins are much appreciated!

Requisite Day 5 selfie.

After the first day I have only seen one hiker and not a single car at any of the trail heads. I’ve camped by myself every night except the night in the Huntsville State campground when I was surrounded by RVs.

Day 6 – Fri, Jan 26 – LST 96.4 

Would have gotten my earliest start of the trip (7:00) but just as I was starting out I noticed my backpack was wonky. One of he webbing straps has broken. I managed a quick fix (thank you duct tape!) and was hiking by 7:15.

Day 6 Selfie

Another gorgeous day. I am down to just snack food, and not much of that, so a 12.5 mile last day sounds good. My pack feels great – guessing it’s down to 18 lbs or so. The trail is in great shape and I am making good time.

Stopped for first break about 9:30 at the Mercy PCG (LST 89.1), after 5.5 miles or so. This PCG has a bench!!! Of course. The one PCG I DIDN’T stay at would have a bench.

FS2112 Mercy PCG …. with a bench!!!

Then back on the trail – getting near the end!

Nearing the end!

Crossing FM 945 at LST 93.1 someone’s water/food cache looks like it got raided.

Garbage on the trail near FM 945.

Thought this last 6 miles or so would be a breeze but after about mile 93 the trail is a swamp for several miles. Really bad hiking conditions. Not really a trail – just a swamp with markers.

Also noticed a lot of damaged walkway/bridges in this stretch.

The swampy conditions let up after mile 94 or so and the last couple of big bridges (over Winters Bayou and the San Jacinto) were in pretty good shape. The Winters bridge is missing a few planks.

San Jacinto Bridge at LST 92.5

Roberta walked out to meet me and we walked the last half mile together. It was a lovely end to a lovely hike. My next post will be my thoughts and observations on the LST and what I would do differenty.

Lone Star Trail, Day 3-4

Day 3 – Tue, Jan 25 – LST 51.2

Good karma to start the day! Hiking out of Huntsville State Park a guy stopped and picked me up and took me out to the I-45 feeder. Then a mile or so walk under I-45 to get back on the trail east of TX-75.

Coming up on TX-75
Back on the trail! And no rain!

Unfortunately while it isn’t raining today it is overcast so no sun to help dry all my wet stuff.

Today was my first run in with dogs. Just what the hell is the deal with these people and their dogs? About 8 miles along I hit FM 2296 and a short road walk when I was serialy attacked by multiple dogs running out from unfenced (or open fenced) yards. I used my pepper spray twice. Crazy.

Stopped for lunch along the trail after 10 miles or so. Still have seen no other hikers since the first day.

Lunch!

Ran into a hiker just after lunch, the only one i’ve seen for two days. He is doing a west end yo-yo and had just tagged Boswell Creek and was heading back west. And today was milestone day! Highest point and halfway.

Boswell Creek (just after halfway at LST 48.2) had lots of water. I scooped 4L into my dirty water bag before heading on to camp.

Boswell Creek and the log I used to get across.

Today was my first designated primitive campsite. I rolled into East Four Notch PCG (LST 51.3) at around 3:00PM, hung my tent and fly out to dry and made some much deserved hot tea.

Tent drying at East Four Notch PCG

The designated primitive campsites (PCGs) are all a bit different. They all have flat tent sites and a fire pit. Some have logs to sit on or even (gasp!) a bench. This one had the bare minimum.

The Boswell Creek water filtered to a lovely yellow color which ,while not looking all that great, tasted okay, especially in tea.

Filtered Boswell Creek water. Tasty!

Day 4 – Wed, Jan 26 – LST 68.5

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day, perfect for hiking. It started a bit chilly, 35° or even a little colder. I hiked in my puff for the first two hours while things warmed up. The first 3 miles or so were mostly on roads but did not see a single car.

Starting the day on a road in my micropuff.

It was sunny all day which was a nice change from yesterday’s overcast and the day before with the incessant rain.

Road walking.

At about LST 60 the trail crosses FS 202D. On the other side of the road the trail was very swampy with lots of standing water. I elected to stay on 202D for a hundred yards or so then bushwacked back to the trail to avoid the water.

Swampy trail near LST 60.0

Stopped for lunch at a trailhead just before 12 miles around noon. I laid out the tent, sleeping bag and all of my socks to dry in the sun while I ate lunch. I also called Roberta and we talked which was nice.

Trailhead #9, lunch in the sun drying out.

After lunch was a long road walk, starting with 2 miles to Evergreen. As far as I can tell the only things in Evergreen are churches and cemeteries. I stopped at the Baptist Church in Evergreen Park for water per the guide …

Thanks for the water Evergreen Baptist!

…and then continued on for another 3 miles on a really lousy hiking road (FM945), no shoulder and cars going 65. The guide warns about dogs in this area but I only saw a couple and they were on the other side of the road so I did not have to use my pepper spray again.

FM-945: No shoulder and cars doing 65 mph!

I arrived at my second designated PCG (LSHT Camp Site #2, LST 68.5) at my usual time (around 3:00) for my afternoon tea and a little whiskey. No logs to sit on but someone left a sleeping pad which I used for a seat.

Home for the night

Tomorrow is the East Fork of the San Jacinto crossing and I haven’t been able to get any recent information on the crossing.