The Gathering

While your waiting on that Fiji post……let’s talk about the ALDHA-West Gathering!!

After a long flight back (that included a sweet layover in San Diego. Thanks again Brendan and Kassy! The best layovers include friends and margaritas!) When I landed in NorCal I hit the ground running. Unload, laundry, repack and I was off to Nevada City, CA!

The annual ALDHA-West Gathering is a gathering of hikers who share a love of long distance outings. It’s a great time to see hiking friends old and new. Camping was in full effect. Car camping, tent camping or a cabin if that was your thing. There was also a hike to a waterfall, Hiker Olympics and music provided by Jacob and the Ghost Train. Want to try new tent, pick up, trade or win some gear….it was all there!

Speakers this year included Steve Queen, Ultrapedestrian, Heather Anderson and Loren Steinberg and Mary Taloff (they did the Camino by wheelchair!) All the speakers were informative, inspiring and funny.

A highlight of the weekend was the Triple Crown ceremony Saturday evening. Triple Crowners are people who’ve hiked all of the three major long distance trails (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail).  They shared their stories, got their awards and we celebrated their accomplishments (well into the night)!

Mark your calendars…….next years Gathering will be in Colorado!!

Something to talk about

You know what’s great about a long hike or road trip? Time to catch up on those podcasts!! Might I recommend checking out my chat with Erin on the Hiking Thru podcast. We talk about the trail and how it’s spurred some of my current adventures and not getting locked into those pre-trail plans. Get out there, explore and go with the flow!

It’s Ruckin time!!

Preparing for a long distance hike? Have some questions?

Whether you are on trail for a few days or several months, if you’re hiking this summer, this is the event to attend! 5 venues …….check out one near you! Come chat with me in Oakland!!

NorCal Ruck
Oakland, CA
January 26, 2019

Cascade Ruck
Stevenson, WA
February 23, 2019

Colorado Rockies Ruck
Golden, CO
March 9, 2019

Bellingham Ruck
Bellingham, WA
March 23, 2019 

Inland NW Ruck
Coeur d’Alene, ID
April 6, 2019 


Thank you for being a friend -Andrew Gold

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People often ask how am I able to take time off and hike the trail for month(s). Well I say, I work hard and a lot. However, there’s another bigger part of the equation. People. By people I mean family, friends, coworkers, and strangers. My family doesn’t completely understand what I do and my mom wishes I didn’t do it at all!! But like every other crazy adventure that I take off on they support me even when they are not sure how.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again, I have the BEST friends. They have shown up every freakin time, financially and emotionally. Whatever I needed and things I didn’t know I needed. When I needed extra work friends hired me, when I needed a place to live pre/during/post trail they took me into their homes, they gifted me gear and threw going away parties and camp outs. They sent packages, watched/repaired my car and took phone calls from the trail keeping me up on goings on at home.

Because I work for months at a time I work with a staffing agency (Ultimate Staffing). Vicki has been on it for the last three years, finding me great long/short term positions with great companies. My current assignment is with a auto dealership and it’s been a great job with fun people. Super happy that they want me back, they celebrated my departure with tasty food (carbs and meatballs!!) and gifts!

 

Thanks Apothekayla for the healing salve!

Then there are the strangers, aka friends I haven’t met yet. People who follow my blog/Instagram, leave supportive comments, messages, jokes, tips and donations. This is so over whelming at times it brings me to (good)tears.

Gracias     Merci Beaucoup      Grazie     Danke sehr   Mahalo

I’m out there hiking the miles, adventuring, ‘living the dream’ but it wouldn’t happen without my awesome support crew! I never walk alone! So much love and kindness. Thank you all for ALL THE THINGS and being on this journey with me.

I love y’all………..yep you!

Heavy Things -Phish

uljerk

Time to come clean……I am not ultralight. There I said it. Actually I started out kinda light on the PCT but over the years and other trails I caved to carrying more stuff. It wasn’t planned it just snuck up on me. Add this add that…ounces count and add up. When I first thru hiked the PCT I didn’t know really what I was doing nor did I know anyone who had taken on such an endeavor. So I googled it of course, depending on books, blogs, and online resources. There’s no shortage of people ready to share all about their gear and weight issues. Continue reading “Heavy Things -Phish”

Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

wa podcast

Chardonnay- Looking for a Triple Crown This Summer

 

If you haven’t heard I did a podcast interview with Rudy over at Cascade Hiker Podcast. We chatted about thru hiking, what inspires me, and going for the Triple Crown. Going for the Triple Crown (hiking the three major U.S. long-distance trails) is something I don’t really talk about much. Seriously go check it out. He has a great conversational style and besides me he has talked to some really interesting, motivating and knowledgeable outdoorsy people! Let me know what you think, my recorded voice sounds kinda dorky but I tend to be my harshest critic!

Reminiscing – Little River Band

 

April is derived from the Latin aperire meaning “to open”, for me that means two things: opening my memory book, reflecting and being open to what the future holds. Also it’s “trail-aversary” time!!

4/12/15 started hiking Pacific Crest Trail
4/15/16 started hiking Appalachian Trail
4/13/17 started hiking Continental Divide Trail

Let me tell you it feels so strange not to be heading out for a thru hike this week, it’s like I’m missing something. Just can’t shake that ‘isn’t there something I’m supposed to be doing’ feeling. Thinking back to my first day on the PCT I waved enthusiastically to my friend that drop me off at the southern terminus.  Trying to look brave and confident I turned and realized I didn’t know which way the trail actually was! Thus began months of me muttering some variation of “where is the trail?….is this the trail?…..why am I not on trail”?

Sometimes in regular life I am plagued by these questions still. Am I going in the right direction, is this the right life path? These are great questions to revisit on the regular. Otherwise you may find yourself wondering aimlessly, lost if you will. Heck I got ‘lost’ going to a friend’s house recently. I took the wrong exit. Trail lesson: check your map

Thru hike PCT California chardonnay
chardonnay PCT thru hike in N. California

People have asked which trail was my favorite. The Pacific Crest Trail, of course, it was my first and holds a special place in my tiny heart. The CDT was challenging, but fun and the AT was, well, the AT. But I hear the parts I’m going back for are awesome.  All three are amazingly different and offer their own challenges. Trail lesson: celebrate our differences

 

Since I got a month before I hit the trail I’ve been helping others get to the PCT terminus to start their journeys and picking up hitching hikers.  I found gratification in hearing their stories and lending encouragement. Trail lesson: be of service to others

Three years of long distance hiking reminds me the importance of appreciation, kindness, community, dreaming, good wine, and good shoes. Long distance hiking is hard…. but I’d do it all again! It’s good to reflect remembering where you started and how far you have come. But stay open to the future possibilities!

Speaking of anniversaries…… it’s the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act!  The PCT, CDT and AT are just 3 of the eleven National Scenic Trails. Get out there and find your trail! I see more trails in my future! Happy Trails!

Perfectly Flawed – Otep

Before I started hiking I was 211 pounds. I never really mentioned it or talked about it here on the blog. Really I didn’t want it to be a “thing”. Weight loss wasn’t my reason for doing a thru hike and I have an adverse reaction to being labeled. Prior to losing the weight I outwardly played the “I’m happy with my body game”. While inside I knew that wasn’t true. You can lie to everybody and everybody will lie to you saying “you look fine”, but you can’t lie to yourself.

The PCT blogs I started out reading were these girls pulling 20 mile days the first day on the trail! Ok, I thought guess that’s what I’ll do too, if they can, I can. So I started hiking 2 miles, then 5, then 10. When I hit ten miles I was elated and deflated, crap 10 miles….I have to do that like twice. But I quickly learned my body was capable of more than I thought. Turns out you just need to keep going. Or have a 10 mile out and back, training loop where your only option is to walk back.

PSA: It’s gonna hurt, you will cramp and be in pain. But pain is just weakness leaving the body, or so drill sergeant told me. However preparing yourself physically can make a world of difference.

By the time I hit the trail I had lost 60 pounds! I was looking good, feeling strong and loving the compliments, yo. But I wasn’t at my goal weight, you know that magic number that will make everything right in the world. Now I didn’t change my eating habits, I just hiked, a lot. I was determined to be ‘ready’ for the trail. It’s worth mentioning that I have eating issues when I hike. Most people can hike and eat, I cannot. When I hiking I just have zero taste for anything. If I fill my day-pack or hip belt pockets with snack they will be there when I stop for the day, unless I force it down. One of the joys of hiking is all that food you get to eat. Unfortunately for me that hunger doesn’t come till I stop moving.

That first day on the PCT I did 20 miles, I was completely spent but I did it. Fast forward a month I was hiking the Sierras and losing weight due to a major calorie deficit. Down 20 more pounds I hit my goal! Yeah…..no not yeah. I was scarily thin and weak. Weak was not what I’d envisioned. I ended up getting off trail in Bishop for a few days and I just sat and ate. That magic number meant nothing if I couldn’t get to Canada.

Returning home from the trail I was still pretty thin. I got less compliments and more “girl you need to eat”. Luckily I was down with that idea, mmm non trail food.

Over the next two years I would hike two more trails the AT and CDT. My weight fluctuating, up when off trail, down during hiking season. I’m maintaining strong and healthy though. I still have eating issues on trail (hiker hunger eludes me). But I’ve come to terms with my weight, there is no “magic” number. I’m heavier than that, stronger than that and ok with that.

Girls in their summer clothes – Bruce Springsteen

As a long distance hiker spending 4-6 months on the trail at a time you get a little dirty. In an effort to be ultra-light (backpacking that emphasizes carrying the lightest and simplest gear safely possible for a given trip) most hikers only have one outfit for this entire time. This can leave a hiker looking pretty haggard and getting some side glances from people in town. But I’m here to tell you roaming around in the woods is no excuse to not look good. Even if you are just going out for a day hike looking good is an avenue to feeling good! It can even put a little pep in your step!

                                        runaway?        runway ready!     day hiking diva!?
Now I don’t always look pulled together, but I try. Last year for the CDT I had the cutest teal Brooks top and thrift store skirt and matching teal trail runners. Unfortunately that outfit was pilfered at the gym the day before I left for the trail so I ended up with a last minute Walmart dress/plaid top uncoordinated ensemble. It worked fine but for pictures I looked like a hot mess, not cute. Looking nice is important, well for me it is, don’t judge. This one time I went into a runners shoe store in search of trail shoes. The guy helping me knew all about shoes, arch supports and toe boxes. He brought out a plethora of shoes for me to try on, but when I asked him “do you have some in a cute pink or teal” he was stumped. He replied “color doesn’t matter”. Ha! Wrong answer I replied heading for the door. Seriously, I’ve painfully strutted around in 3 inch black suede heels, but I looked so good. Now I highly recommend you getting some comfortable (preferably broken in) footwear for the trail. That being said if you want a nice color don’t be afraid to seek that out.

Now a days there are a multitude of options in ladies outer wear. If you can’t find your look in the sporting goods store, outfitters, online or just don’t want to break the bank; I got two words for ya. Thrift Store. There’s probably a flowy dress or skirt in there just waiting for ya! Throw on some leggings and boom you’re ready to crush it. I found a nice butterfly dress, that coincidentally matched my Dirty Girl gaiters, for three bucks at a thrift shop. It’s my “town dress” for when my hiking clothes are in the laundry! Turns out it’s also great for pictures and works with my tutu. Tutu!?! Yess, I wear a tutu (that I have to carry for about 50 miles) at the end of my hikes. It’s fun, cute and makes me happy, kinda like my Cargo Tail. Wait, what? Yes it’s fun and people interact or speak to me on trail because of it. Hiking is about the challenge, feeling empowered, blah, blah, blah……and fun, don’t forget to pack your fun! Besides fashion forward hiker trash get quicker hitches, maybe.

                                            Nice tail. Thanks, I been crushing it!

She believed she could……again

The fact is not lost on me that I did not post a made it to the border post. For those of you who don’t know yet……I made it to Canada (and where you been?). I made it thru, yeah me! That last day is really hard to write about, though. There were so many conflicting feelings, happy but sad, tired yet elated. (that every present question where do I go from here?) Second guessing myself, should I hike faster or slower, enjoy the last miles or get them over with, eat gummy bears or skittles. With a light pack I really couldn’t help but hike fast, I was in the flow. Only stopping to get water and take off clothing as it got warmer. The climb up to the Ptarmigan Tunnel was actually pretty nice, full disclosure I was so hyped on caffeine. Roswell was just ahead of me, we made it to the trail-head, unceremoniously, about the same time. Glad he was there to capture the moment.

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That look you get when you realized you walked to Canada and there is no ticker tape parade…..

We then headed down to the actual border crossing to get our passports stamped and chat it up with border patrol. And of course take more pics. Due to fires we ended at the Chief Joseph Pass not the northern terminus at Waterton. Hey Canada is Canada, no?

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So yup I made it to Canada…..again! That night I lay in my tent, sipping Chardonnay feeling the feels. It was good. So attempted to thru hike the CDT….well, I hiked it, I survived it, learned from it and grew from it.

cute dress ✓, tutu ✓, carton of chardonnay ✓

Thank you so much for reading (and commenting) my stories of my thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail. Even more thanks to those that helped me get out there and along the way. Please continue to follow me on my other adventures as I continue to find my way through the vines!