By the Numbers

116,000 Length — in words — of the initial draft submitted to Wilderness Press.


722 Miles hiked in the course of researching and field-checking the guide-in-progress. (Coincidentally, that’s the same number of track miles in the NYC subway system.)

9 Rattlesnakes encountered (Coche, Roma Potrero, 40-Mile Wall, Howard Creek, North Fork Lockwood Creek, Upper Romero, [undisclosed], Horn Canyon, and Horsethief).

Well Hey There, Buddy

1 Mountain Lion (followed immediately thereafter by 1 near heart attack!). En route to San Rafael Mountain from McKinley Saddle.

1 Bear (Topatopa Bluff; at dusk).

1 Bear skull (Upper Rancho Nuevo Canyon).

Bohemian and the Bear

1 Skunk. (Well, Masha and Lilly encountered it; I ended up paying the price when they came back to share the news — Cienega Camp, East Fork Santa Paula Canyon.)

3 Condors spotted (Red Reef/Sespe confluence; Sespe/Tar confluence x2).

3 Golden eagles (including the one who targeted me for attack! True story! — Timber Canyon @ Hines, Three Sisters, and Mission Pine Ridge).


63 nights spent on the ground.

Fireside Chat

2 Nights spent — on separate occasions — at our most-frequented trail camp(s) (a tie; Madulce and McKinley Spring). ZK was along for all four of those alternately great/miserable nights.

44 Percent of total mileage for which said Resident Science Officer was along for the ride/pain (~318 miles).

79 Percent of total mileage for which the uber-hund was along for the adventure (~570). ZK wins on a per-foot average, otherwise the uber-hund gets the nod.


40 Approximate number of bottles of single malt that saw me through.

August 06

435 Cost — in US dollars — of Adventure Pass/Park Service/BLM/Bureau of Reclamation fees I’d have incurred in the past 12 months alone were it not for the Federal Interagency Pass (guide-related and not).

80 Cost — in US dollars — of the annual Federal Interagency Pass (recommended!).

1 Mascot found (by ZK) and returned to its home.

Guest Star Lite Bee

Home for an Afternoon

3 Number of times inclement weather on the trail made for a serious reschedule/reassessment of the day’s/trip’s goals (Madulce No. 1, Alder Creek, Toad Spring).

"What's that Shadow on the Blind?"

Countless Number of times — divided by seven — that heat caused a change of plans.

7 Number of rock art sites visited over the course of researching the guide.

SB-33 (aka SBa-1381)

1 Total number of sites actually discussed in the guide.

8221 Elevation — in feet — of the highest trail camp in the Los Padres. (Sheep Camp, one of my Top 5 personal favs, and my wife’s No. 1 Favorite.)

Smokeys Meadow

30 Approximate number of lime bars consumed at Full of Beans in Ojai.

6108 Miles driven to and from various trailheads, ranger meetings, campgrounds, and shuttling over the past two years on behalf of the guide.

Memorial Weekend 2011: McGill 1 of 3

2 Courses of prednisone.

14 Lookouts or lookout/AWS sites visited in the past 20 months.

Thorn Point Lookout and AWS Hut

0 Pot grows encountered (amazing; ran into many in the years previous).

10 Approximate number of tri-tip sandwiches consumed at Reyes Creek Bar & Grill.

3 Number of tri-tip sandwiches enjoyed by the uber-hund.

6 Consecutive years that Li’l G has joined the annual spring trek to Lily Meadows/Chumash Wilderness.


100 Approximate number of times I questioned my/our/anyone’s sanity along any given stretch of trail.

1 Number of times the uber-hund second-guessed a route, and turned back.

3 Number of seconds afterward it took for me to realize she was right and follow her back down.

"You're Gonna Share, Right?"

96 Routes detailed.

25 Maps rendered.

Crunch Time Mappage

4000 Weight — in metric tons — of this monkey that’s now mercifully off my back! \m/


8 responses to “By the Numbers”

  1. FANTASTIC!!!!!! And you enjoyed (well almost) every minute of it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. The scale of some things are so large that attempts to put them in perspective fail. I know an old Chief who would simply say “outstanding” and let an accomplishment of this magnitude speak for itself. I can’t do better than that.

  3. Great work. And I’ll add for you……

    3 Days until I am ready to start on the next saga.

  4. Fun post! You forgot to tabulate the number of times you were almost swept down a creek or river. Or the number of times you almost lost a k9 companion to various wildlife. Or…

    Anyway, congrats again on the major accomplishment. It’s been fun joining you on a couple of these trips and I look forward to getting in on a few more in the upcoming winter.

  5. thx all.

    (and @Nico, the first would be 3, I think. 😉 Zero on the latter … the only near-dog loss would have been to those mobile hamburgers-in-training along Aliso Cyn last spring … not sure those count as “wild” animals.)

    Now the posts can stop being these self-aggrandizing missives and focus on the more interesting mysteries and forgotten corners of the LP. Game on!

  6. Great stuff, makes me want to buy the book even more–hope your publisher lets you put the above list into your preface.
    I’d like to see the list of things you didn’t put in…….rolls of toilet paper consumed, number of times you forgot toilet paper, ticks pulled off….stuff like that a kind of out take to the out take.
    Best of luck with the book I’ll bet it’ll be a classic.

  7. Wessen von Hessen Avatar
    Wessen von Hessen

    Great Post! It’s good to hear that you can take it a little easier now. Can’t wait to get the book signed by the author.

  8. George Armstrong Avatar
    George Armstrong

    As always, very admirable work.

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