Blog Posts

CNOC Trekking Pole – Review

(Sorry this should’ve posted this weekend…technical difficulties)

So I got my hands on some new trekking poles! The CNOC Vertex Carbon Trekking poles, a serious step up from the last ones I got at Walmart. These poles are the z type trekking pole, but not fixed length. This tripped me up when I first got them. Luckily there is a video explaining how to put them together on their site! So there is a push button connector, when extended I really like this z type pole as they tend to be more compact. As someone who uses poles less than most, i.e. they spend a lot of time in my outer pack pocket, I like that the are not protruding out like antennas.

There is a foam handle then a foam grip just below that. There is a cork version which is great if you have sweaty hands. But if you are camping be sure to not to leave your poles out, critters like to chew on the sweaty salty cork.

So each pole come in at only 7.7 ounces, together that is less than a pound, if your counting! They do come with a spiffy carrying case, snow and mud baskets and rubber tips(for pavement or concrete). I’m always looking for inexpensive, quality gear that can do double duty. These are actually a great deal price wise….right now they are on sale!  I’ve already used them on few urban and local canyon hikes. Can’t wait to try them in the snow! (I’m so looking forward to this winter!) I’ll let you know how that goes!

Go ahead, go check them out! The holidays are coming, yo!

State of Love and Trust

With the end of the hiking approaching, seeing pictures of hikers completing their hikes I have been reflecting on my own experiences. Looking at old PCT pictures and getting all teary. Maybe it’s just all the Pearl Jam and Martin Sexton I’ve been listening to that brought on all the feels.

I got a lot going on in my little corner of the world currently, don’t we all huh. The currents are shifting and as usually I am just gonna ride it out. Over the last 3 or so years figuring out “what to do next’ has been easy…another trail of course! The choice was easy as I was comfortable there or at least familiar. But if growth starts outside our comfort zone…I got to mix it up a bit right?

Bears, rattlesnakes, heck even bold squirrels are not as scary, to me, as stepping into a new adventure. There are so many unknowns, but thus is life, mine anyway.

So, I’ve decided to take a position in Tahoe for the winter! (i had to go back and change that period to and exclamation point) Been saying for years ‘I’m gonna ski more’ so what a better way than- total immersion! It’s gonna be hard, cold AF, new people, new experiences, new places I have never been. I’m not even sure where I will be living or with who? The uncertainty is exciting and scary all at once. On the upside I am looking forward to taking a swing a snowboarding (again), checking out that Rim to Rim trail (in snowshoes probably) and whatever else they got going up that way! Look at me getting out my head and my own way. This should be interesting. What you got going on this winter? Get outside!!!!

Say Something -A Great Big World

Well hellooooo! How y’all been? I’ve been enjoying the last days of summer and just being, well, busy. Let’s catch up!

So I went to PCT Trail Days…
Like a crazy person I drove 17 hours to Cascade Locks, OR! But it was so worth it. I met some cool people (that I’ve only known through the internet), volunteered at ALDHA-West, chatted with hikers and learned about Land and Water Conservation Fund!!

A Place in the Sun….
I’ve been itching to move out of the city, thought the desert would be right up my alley. So I took a trip out to Palm Springs. It was fun and hot, I even hiked part of the Cactus to Clouds trail, but it was hot. Went to a swanky museum and a cool bar with misters because it was hot. Then when I left to drive home my car overheated, I guess because it was hot. I took that as a sign and ditched the whole desert plan.

You’ve got a friend…..
My friends are the best and have helped in every way imaginable throughout my hiking adventures. So it’s been great to be back this summer and get to hang out with them. There have been some rocking brunches, porch chats, city hikes, kayaking, Ziggy Marley at Del Mar and Pink Floyd on the Spreckels Organ. We camped at Carlsbad State Beach last weekend and hiked Mt Woodson for a fogged out full moon! So much laughing and straight up shenanigans. 

But wait…I thought you said you were itching to move out of the city? Yes, this is true. It’s time to mix things up a bit and get out of the city. There are plans in the works I’m finalizing the details and digging out my winter gear! (hint) More on this later…

 

Looking Forward……

BIRTHDAY MONTH is coming!!! Setting down my wine glass and picking up my stein, bring on the Oktoberfest fun!

October there will be a lot of celebrating Me! Oh and the 50th anniversary of the designation of our nation’s first two National Scenic Trails: the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails!! The PCT and the AT were our nation’s first National Scenic Trails, designated by a bipartisan act of Congress and signed into law as the NTSA (National Trails System Act) by President Lyndon Johnson on October 2, 1968. 

Two years later on October 14, 1970 Elsye chardonnay was born, destined to hike those very trails…..yeah let’s celebrate!

For my birthday week I’ll be in Portland finding some trouble to get into and then Mt. Hood, Oregon for the ALDHA-West Gathering!

Oh I love Fall!! But I’m also looking forward to a wonderful winter adventure!

 

 

Yellow Ledbetter – Pearl Jam

When I’m in a time of transition and lacking clarity I listen to Pearl Jam – Yellow Ledbetter.  I have no idea what the actual lyrics are to the song. Heck I don’t think anyone does, maybe even Eddie. But there lays the beauty of it..

“A riff loosely based on something I had during the Ten sessions. I thought it was pretty. Eddie started making up words on the spot and we kept them. I still don’t know what it’s about and I don’t want to! I love it. Fans like it too!” -Lead guitarist Mike McCready

So in moment s of, well, uncertainty I listen to the song. Sometimes on repeat. At some point I just hear what I want to hear. Some people need silence to hear what their heart or that little voice inside is saying. I need Yellow Ledbetter….

 

What a Feeling – Irene Cara

this is a long post……but worth it!

On the morning we were to climb Katahdin we were all pretty excited to get going. All packed up and ready to go by 6 am. There was a quick stop at the ranger station. You can borrow a day-pack or just leave some of your things there. This was pretty nice since there was really no need to haul everything up there and back. Now the climb is only about 5.2 miles, however this is the AT so yeah. All the fast kids took off as soon as we hit the trail, I fell back. It’s kinda like a race remember to go your own pace. Sparkle is from Boston and offered to give us a ride out of the park afterwards. The plan was to hike the Hunt Trail up then hike the Abol trail down to the campground. Everyone said the Abol trail was shorter, yea, later I would find out it’s also the steepest descent!

I was cool with hiking alone, it was time for me to process the fact that this was it the big finish. The trail started out just fine….then came the boulders.  Not surprised, it never gets easy the last day should be hard too, consistency. So I checked my map, only 2.3 miles to go! Yes I can do that. Pushing hard, I pulled my using the metal hand holds anchored in the rocks. Sweating, breathing hard and swatting those annoying bugs I leaned on a boulder. Now I’m not great with guessing distances but I felt I was really moving. So I checked the map, bad idea. 2.0 miles to go, WHAT!?! That .3 had felt like a mile. The steeper, exposed climb and alpine section were still ahead. oh no.

My mind took over….crap everyone is gonna summit and be down, what if they leave me? I know I can make it but when? Wait wasn’t there talk of rain, what if a storm rolls in? What if there is no Santa Claus? ahhhh. Just then I glanced a saw Glowworm climbing up behind me! “Hey chardonnay, you can do this.. congrats on that triple crown..he said passing me.”  Mentally when you’re not in a good-place on trail, it’s the other hikers you draw strength from, solo hiker or not.  With that I was moving, behind the boys (again), but moving. I’d see the others coming down as I still climbed, but their words of encouragement and a hurry up gave me wings!!

katahdin sign

My first glimpse of the sign, it stopped me in my tracks.

Like a highlight reel it all flashed through my mind. All that I had done to get there, all that I had given up, been through, suffered through, the highs and the lows. I’d do it all again…well most of it. Now let me get a picture and get off this mountain!

My elation was short lived…on the way down I stumbled, ok fell, cut up my hand. There was blood, I would live. But it did not help with the steep climb down. At the bottom everyone was waiting…..and there was cold soda, chips, and sandwich’s!

So there I sat drinking warm Chardonnay, swatting bugs…..now what?

 

 

Thank you for the music -ABBA

Pretty much my last day in the 100 mile wilderness, it rained. For like 20 miles I hiked in the rain. I was not all that happy about it, mostly because it would rain then kinda stop, then start again. Wearing the Frogtogg poncho I snagged from a hiker box, I draped my other poncho over my pack. As if I wasn’t wet enough I tripped getting mud all over my skirt. That was also about the time when I realized I’d lost my bandanna all my friends had signed.

Needing a distraction I put on some tunes. Lauren Hill sang as the trail winded around lakes (heck it might have been the same lake). Maine is like Minnesota great trails, lots of lakes and a gazillion bugs! Next up Christina Aguilera’s Dirty, rain or not you just gotta dance to that! So I did, right thru the puddles straight to the shelter. I immediately set up my tent (in the shelter) and climbed into my sleeping bag in a wet skirt and top. I knew my body heat would dry them over night, the wet socks and pants were left out to fend for themselves.

There were a bunch if soggy southbounders at the shelter too. Strange listening them chat as they begin their thru hikes while my hike comes to an end. There was so much I didn’t know when I started my first thru hike. Maybe its better that way. Too much prep and info spoils the surprise. Embrace the suck and be open to fact there is more to learn.

Me & Hummingbird!   Rain drove us into the shelter but didn’t dampen our fun!

The next morning I pulled on wet socks and started the process of getting to Katahdin, and it is a process. Step1 hike 3 miles to the camp store for an all you can eat breakfast. Step2 discuss with hikers how many hikers are going to be at campsite and how many are actually allowed; even though no one knows for sure either number. Step3 get so full you forget to buy dinner, snacks or summit food. Doh! Step4 Enjoy a beautiful sunny 10 mile hike to the hiker reserved campsite. Step5 sign up with ranger to climb Katahdin… So glad to spend my last night in the woods with a cool bunch of hikers because tomorrow is summit day! Even Hummingbird was there, I hadn’t seen her since Vermont!

20180629_080331Mt Katahdin!!

Magic- Olivia N. John

“You have to believe we are magic
Nothin’ can stand in our way.
You have to believe we are magic
Don’t let your aim ever stray
And if all your hopes survive
Your destiny will arrive”

So its day 3 or 4 in the 100 mile wilderness. Its hard to say really the days blurr together. Hike-Eat-Sleep (try not to trip and die) repeat. I get up with the sun grab my cold coffee/carnation breakfast drink, stuff everything in my pack and hike.
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After the short mile day due to rain/hail I was excited to get going. I knew once I climbed over the White Cap mountain I could pull some higher miles. The boys (Sparkle, Gloworm, Newt & Walkietalkie) flew by me on the climb. They are all thru hiking the entire trail. I have a new respect for anyone who does the whole AT in one hike. This trail can grind you down, it takes a lot to push through. Their encouragement as they passed fired up my motivation. (They pass me a lot!) It was an enjoyable 18 mile day, plus I snagged a sweet camp spot right near a beautiful river! I didn’t even care my batteries were all failing (headlamp, phone and back up charger) or that my water filter bag sprung a leak.

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Remember when I gave my food away to hiker running low? Well the trail does provide….the next day at the first road crossing a surprise! Fresh Grounds LeapFrog Cafe was all set up, I had a tasty cheeseburger hot off the grill!!

 

Thanks again FreshGround! The best trail magic is a surprise! With snacks in my pack and a burger in my belly I was ready to make a run for Kathadin!!

In the Wilderness- Genesis

20180623_090705So this is how the 100 mile wilderness went…

First off i was all hyped to be going it alone, into the wilderness. Nope. Holy crap there are a lot of folks in the “wilderness”. For instance i never camped alone, which was weird but fine. First night i set up my tent, i was just not feeling the people in the shelter. This guy had a gun and was all “better to have it and not need, than need it and not have it.” Really, I’m a girl with a broken pocket knife…you’ll be fine. I high tailed out of there, wet tent and all, pretty early. I wanted some miles between me and pistol packin pete.

I hiked 16 miles to the next shelter, i was the only one there..for like a minute. I pitched my tent in in a bad spot and did a crappy stake job. It rained, EVERYTHING was wet or really damp. My bad. Dragged my pack to the shelter, then after the drizzle stopped went back for the soggy tent. Meanwhile i meet this dude, southbound hiker:

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I try to ask people “whats your story?” It gives people the opportunity to tell what they choose to share instead of playing 20 questions. Well, boy did he have a story. I wont share because its detailed and not mine to tell. But he asked me to take his picture, oh and he was low on food so i gave him some ramen. (Should’ve checked first…that left me with only 1 hot dinner for myself).

I wished him well and quickly hiked 10 miles or so to the next shelter…because it was gonna storm, again. I set my tent up IN the shelter and hung things to dry. Then the rain and hail started. The shelter and tent sites filled fast.

Two things i feel i should explain 1) yes i put my tent up in the shelter, however my tent takes up the same amount of room as if i just threw down my pad. 2) i do it because of mice dont want them crawling on me and the bugs and mosquitoes are mad intense out here. They drive me bananas. Tried sleeping with a bug net on, nope.

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The Middle- Jimmy Eat World

“Hey / Don’t write yourself off yet / It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on”

So I’m mixing things up a bit. Headed into the 100 mile wilderness northbound. Then back to southbound the the rest, since my flight is out of Portland anyway. I’ve been a bit anxious, tired and emotional (pacemaker gave me her bacon this morning and i teared up, agh) Everyone’s pretty excited about finishing and the triple crown. My head/heart just isn’t there, yet. The end is near, almost.

Like the hills out here my emotions have been up and then down. I feel unsteady and unsure like the rocks under my feet. Even though there is predicted rainy weather ahead I’m good with being on trail and i hate hiking in the rain. Hoping these next will will be instrumental in sorting myself out.

Yesterday was stressful trying to find my box. After a frustrating call or two it was found, right where it was supposed to be. Thanks Kassy, now I have everything a girl could need for 100 miles in the woods!!

Great stay at Shaws hostel, amazing breakfast and they are very helpful. So onto the wilderness…..see ya on the flip side.

Lonely Together -Avicii

In the end we are our stories…..
We (Coco, Nemo and i) stayed 2 nights at the Human Nature Hostel (maybe it was the bacon wrapped scallops and beet salad dinner that convinced us, seriously so good. It also kept us out of the rain storm) If you happen to be in Roxbury, NH check it out. We slack packed( day’s worth of thru-hiking without a full pack) 10 miles the second day, then did laundry and showered again! Then a quick run to the store for food resupply.

Food resupply is getting tricky. My daytime appetite is still wonky. Towns are getting further from trail, so I need to carry/eat more food so I can keep hiking. Getting on trail by 6am I can feel myself shutting down about 3pm. Then it’s all I can do to stumble to camp to eat…..corn chips and cheese. I have a pack full of corn chips and cheese, also carnation instant breakfast..hmmm.
Tomorrow we hike 14 miles, then I will leave Coco and Nemo they are going into town. We’ve had a string good days hiking together, hate to see them go. They are both finishing off AT section hikes too! See you on the Camino!