Help me Floyd….

Well, I was feeling pretty good when I left the wind River motel in Dubois, our second favorite motel after the Y motel in Chama. My resupply for Macks Inn, Idaho was mailed and I was off to catch a hitch back to the trail. Got a lift pretty quick from a nice local couple. They had a small well mannered child in a car seat in the back. Seriously 2 strangers hopped in the car and that kid was quieter than a church mouse, NOT a peep. They were super nice warned us of the bears and took us all the way to the unmarked trail head.

It was a nice morning climb up to a dirt road, where we passed some guys on dirt bikes trying to get around a rock slide. From there we hiked down to Brooks Lake campground. Lovely place with cabins, a lodge, horses and a great view of the lake and bluffs. The campground was not open tent camping due to bear activity. Hmmmm


After another 7 miles we came to what I easily call a raging river! Playing the walk downstream then upstream game we couldn’t find a place to cross. This sucks because you can see the trail, right there on the other side. So close but yet so far. Since it was late afternoon and there was some pre hung bear rope; we decided to camp. Hoping the water would be lower in the morning.

I have to say I was not keen on where we camped near the river and thicket, i.e. bear playground. We now a have a bear aware code word: Floyd. If either of us sees a bear (or needs some help) we yell Floyd !! Its a running joke. If you watched Amazing Race this season you know Floyd. Floyd you were robbed dude.

Anywho, after a super cold night. For real my shoes were frozen in the morning! This weather is ridiculous, come on its June already. As much as we wanted to rise and shine, we didn’t move til the sun hit our tents. Sadly, even after putting on my neoprene socks, crossing that river was not an option. It was still pretty high. Even if we risked it there was another stream it converged with 4 miles later that we’d have to cross.

Although we hated to, it was plan B time. RETREAT. Yep hike back and road walk it.

BUT WAIT……so while I was sitting in my tent, waitin for my shoes to thaw that morrning I saw something……

MOOSE!!

received_1363619600418694
I have been wanting to see one for awhile. He just strolled past camp, stopped then mosyed right on by!! Silver linings.

High Water…..

Our next section through Bridger Teton National Forest is brought to you by water and mosquitoes. It was a record snow year all along the trail this year. So record snow means high melting run off creating raging high rivers and standing water creates a bjillion mosquitoes.

The mosquitoes have been eating us alive. I thought when we got back in the snow at 10,000′ there would be none, or less. Nope. Those little buggers are relentless. We stopped for one break and had to put up our tents just for a moment to eat and rest.

The raging rivers are a whole other story.

At one crossing the water more than waist deep. We went up stream about 1.5 miles just to find a safe place to cross and it was still thigh high. Then we had to bushwack back to the trail. About 5 miles later we had yet another crossing with the river trifecta…wide, deep, and fast current. In the picture that pole is a trail sign, under water. This crossing was pretty scary as it was so fast and wide. We spent almost an hour looking for a safe place to cross. It would not be the last crossing.

We hiked faster the rest of the day. It was great to actual get back to a point where we could pull out 20 miles. While the snow is still around it is melting so really it’s just wet and super muddy. The bear prints left in the mud reminded us we are in grizzly bear country. I’m not a fan. Now I am hanging my food in trees and it can be frustrating just getting it up there. Of course once I get it up there I want something out of it! We hiked to one campsite because it was supposed to have a bearbox…..unfortunately it was buried under a bunch of snow.


On the way into Dubois the views of the Tetons are amazing. I even took part in hike naked day, tastefully of course. I was glad I did it early, because even though we haven’t seen ANYONE since we left town, all of a sudden 5 cyclist on the Tour Divide came racing by!


When we hit the road it took awhile to get a hitch. A girl we passed hiking down the mountain, Emily gave us a lift into town. She was out picking mushrooms!

Hanging out in Dubois now resupplying and sending supplies ahead. Headed for Yellowstone next!

Wyoming mountains

20170616_094714.jpg

Left Pinedale feeling optimistic, and we got lucky, scored two hitches right away! A nice couple from Utah and then got picked up by Jeff. Jeff had a whole 3 truck caravan, ready for some serious camping. They had a canvas tent, chairs, a chainsaw and potato chips! Once, Jeff told us he spent a winter in the Wyoming back-country living in a tee-pee, that’s hardcore. He pointed out things of interest  on the drive and asked if we had bear spray.
20170619_100431
So yes I caved and got bear spray after numerous warnings. Since this trail has western theme, I hooked it to my side belt. I feel like a gunslinger!

20170618_140718

We camped that evening at Green River campground, nobody there but us, but it had bear boxes and neither of us was to eager to start hanging our food.

Next day we happily crossed Green River, on a Bridge! There was a 2000′ climb shortly there after up to Gunsight Pass. The climb was super tough as we were attacked by mosquitos all the way! We were rewarded with snow on the north side of the mountain.
20170619_133612.jpg
This is about where things took a turn for me. I couldn’t stay on my feet, slipping on the snow and mud, plus our first waist deep river crossing. Whenever we cross a stream/river I let Kelsey go first, duh, she’s a lifeguard. If the water is too deep or the current too strong for her I ain’t going. I often worry she’ll power across and I will be left there scared stiff. Fording rivers scares the crap outta me.

20170619_105314.jpg

 

Later I miss judged a slippery rock crossing a creek and went down hard. Half my pack went in the water, managed to save my phone, but busted my knee on a rock. Camped early due to my knee and wet clothes. It was pretty comical us hanging our bear bags, that evening, (pretty much us pitching rocks at each other) it distracted me from my bloody knee.

Wyoming…..it’s all good

If my last post sounded a bit dire. I was in mood for sure. I usually try to stay upbeat and keep my down moments for my personal journal. Honestly though everything isn’t always wildlife and butterflies out here.

The tough times are hard to share, who whips out a camera when things bad, not me. (Well you might have enjoyed seeing us crawl in the snow when we couldn’t walk!!)

Actually the stress was mostly from being off trail. The four day stretch to get from New Mexico to Wyoming was intense. Hitchhiking can be fun, unless you have a bus to catch. Taking the bus is never fun, especially when it overheats and you might miss you connection. Then our 12am bus was packed, so of course an hour from our stop a tire blows.

Finally we are back on trail and I am feeling much better. Wyoming is flat but beautiful. Leaving Rawlins we continued our jail tour! On our road walk out of town the wind blew my hat off and across the highway. As I ran for it a motorcyclist pulled over to see if I was ok and offered me a ride. Man I wanted to take it as a hitch on a motorcycle is on my to do list. But I passed, not going my way. Thanks for stopping!

Wyoming State Penitentiary         Ticks!
There are A LOT of ticks in this section. So I am wearing long pants even in the heat of the day and in tick paranoid mode. Water is scarce, I think I need a class on operating solar powered spring, not a single one has worked.

 


But I’m hiking…..so life is good. Thanks everyone for the kind words, support and encouragement.

Through it….

Leaving town is always a mental struggle. I’ve showered, done laundry, filled my belly, sorted my gear, and resupplied. Now it’s time go out there and be beaten down by the trail all over again. This morning I woke emotionally drained, just wanting to stay in bed and cry. But that’s not an option.

I got some personal things dragging me down. Coupled with the unknown of what lays ahead. This trail is so much tougher than the last two. Sometimes I feel I’m not even in control, and the littlest issues be come huge. I’m not one to let stresses get me down. You know smile on the outside even when falling to pieces inside. Thing is out here there are no distractions. It’s  just you and all the things in your head.

So I’m sucking it up today, leaving Rawlins heading for who knows what. Maybe I’ll find some peace and clarity, or not. But it’s a thru hike…..gotta go through it.

rawlins

Colorado you win…for now.

Soooo, plans have changed, as they do. Left Chama and was in so much snow. We were moving at a snail’s pace, maybe slower without snowshoes. With all the snow we are consistently wearing crampons and even with neoprene socks my feet get wet and numb. Camping at high elevation  (11000 to 12000 feet) is really cold. Only doing about 10 miles a day made the section way longer than expected, so running out of food was a strong possibility.

I knew Colorado would be tough but it kicked my butt. The first day only did 10 miles. Didn’t make it to water source so I had to melt snow. You know how long it takes to melt snow, forever. Being slightly dehydrated I had leg cramps through out the night. Agh.

On the 3rd day out we started out optimistic, but within a mile the post-holing began (taking a step on packed snow, only to hit a soft spot and sink straight down into it). So much so we actually crawled at one point. It takes a lot of energy if you sink in really deep, say up to the hip, just pulling your leg from the hole is a real chore.  A group of guys came by moving at a pretty good clip. We thought we could fall in behind them and at least not have to consult our maps every mile. (the trail is under all that snow so you are constantly checking to see if you are even remotely on trail) However that was about when it started hailing, then snowing, sideways!
20170601_181123.jpg
Long story short that was enough for me. This was not meant to be torture. Nor did I want to die of hypothermia, know when to say when.  So we hiked the 22 miles back to Chama, New Mexico. That in itself was an experience also as it stormed on us both days returning. I have never been so wet and cold. Kelsey had to talk me through some high current stream crossings (while snapping photos!) Have you every been on a snow bridge? Scary. Hearing the rushing water underneath your feet, praying your next step won’t send you plunging in the icy water.


Back at the Y Motel Ann and Bud took care of us, again! They used to live in Poway, CA!! Thanks for getting us to Pagosa Springs Bud (see ya in August).

So, yea, current plan is to flip up to Wyoming and head north, then back to end in Colorado. Or something like that, the logistics is, well complicated. Let the hitchhiking, bus riding adventure commence!

It’s not me It’s you…..

New Mexico I’m moving on, it’s time. You tested me in ways I never imagined. The heat in the desert with no shade to found, to the cold temps that I was not expecting. There were winds that about blew me right off the trail.

Your amount of wildlife is Incredible, a bear, elk, rabbits, COWS, rattle snakes, turkeys, and a bird that looked like a Cornish hen!

Crossing the Gila river so many times I lost count. Such a contrast to the high current ice cold streams that numbed my feet in the north. I will never forget how my heart pounded and legs shaked as I crossed on a downed log. Your many, many gates and fences.

The scenery you provided brought western movies and Georgia O’Keefe paintings to life. The one night I cowboy camped I felt like a bandit, but the star filled sky seemed so close I could touch it.

Your small towns made it hard to return to the trail at times. So many friendly, generous  and kind people helping make this journey easier.

As my first state on the CDT you didn’t make it easy. Embrace the Brutality, indeed. I doubted myself at times, but your challenges have made me stronger.

So I’m off to face the snowy mountains of Colorado. Thanks for the memories New Mexico!

Slow going

When the weather was warm it was easy to get  up early, hike 20 mile days and stick to a schedule. Then it got cold. (Yes, I realize I will more than likely be cold til, well Wyoming.) Cold mornings mean late starts, short days and low miles. So I am “behind schedule” so to speak. But then plans tend to change daily out here, I should know better.

20170524_075532

We had planned to roll in and out of Ghost Ranch, nope. A storm rolled in just as we picked up our winter gear packages. $35.00 campsite in the rain didn’t sound appealing so we hopped a free shuttle to Sante Fe. That didn’t pan out either. The bus dropped us “near” a hotel way out of price range. We must have been a sight, walking in the rain, full packs, carrying axes and boxes! See ya Santa Fe, we hopped the bus back to a town called Espanola. Good place, friendly people and cheap motels. Valerie at the Days Inn even offered a ride 30 miles back to the trail!
20170520_092910.jpg
Now I like town days (especially when Survivor happens to be on) showers, sleeping in a bed, reorganizing my pack (where do I attach this ice axe? ), and watching it snow from inside! But honestly all that sitting around zaps your trail legs.

Back on trail we were moving pretty slow to start. But then Kelsey got sick and the snow got deeper. So what was a section that was supposed to take 4 days to hike took 6 days.

Then as we were packing up I tore a huge hole in my backpack! I patched it up with duct tape and a sleeping pad patch kit. Hopefully it will hold.


Now I’m not complaining, ok yes I am. It is SO cold and crazy windy. Even had to break out the crampons for the steep section into Chama. Thanks to the warmers from Leslie the nights have been warmer! Hot coffee in the morning is a great warm up too!

20170524_055210

On the upside, made it to Colorado!! 800 miles done. Plus so much more wildlife, a lot of elk, turkey’s, (chipmunks) little beasties tried to take my gummy bears, and paw prints I have yet to identify. Over appreciating nature one mile at a time!

This cold weather is killin my spirit.

Just when you think you have things figured out, the trail will throw something else at you. Left Cuba, NM feeling pretty good, only hiked about 5 of the up hill miles and camped. Turns out that was a better plan than doing the whole 12 miles up and over the mountain.

20170513_161255
Nice spot before things went south.

The next morning we thought we’d just crank out the next climb. Wrong. As we climbed things just got worse and worse. On the upside I saw my first bear! I saw him first and when I started making noise he ran. Anyway we crossed a stream getting our feet wet but thought they’d soon dry out, wrong again! For the next 5 miles we were in, surprise, snow. Not just snow but also melting ice cold run off. It was SO cold. You don’t know cold til you’ve walked in ice water for an hour. Seriously we were post-holing in icy water up to our knees at times. My feet were numb, so we stopped changed socks and put plastic bags over our feet.

20170514_133513
Bags on feet….photo cred Kelsey

Treeman caught up to us soon after. He is a super nice German guy with long legs and pretty fast. He was just plowing through the snow with his neoprene socks. He left a whole day after us, that’s how slow we were.

This was easily our worst section, thus far. The plastic bags added insulation but did nothing to stop them from being wet. It took us most of the day to complete that climb and start down, what with the blow downs on the decent. At one break we just sat and laughed (to keep from crying) at the ridiculousness of it all. There was no out, just through. I have never been so glad to get to camp.

This section weighed heavily on us as we knew it was just a precursor to what awaited us in Colorado. We camped that night with Youngblood who asked what our plan was for Colorado. We have none. Both Yougblood and Treeman are getting off trail for a week to wait for the snow to melt. They also both have ordered snowshoes for Colorado. Neither Kelsey or I have snowshoes. I don’t want them as I don’t have any idea how I’d carry them.

Trail being the trail the next day we descended further to warmer temps and spectacular views. We headed for Ghost Ranch,  where Georgia O’keeffe’s paintings come to life.

Ghost Ranch is beautiful and you can rent cabins there. We hurried to get there for lunch in the cafeteria, it was so good. Of course while hanging at Ghost Ranch the clouds rolled in rain and cold temps followed. Why is it so cold, not good for my morale.  Now that we have received our cold weather gear (re: extra weight) we will pause and try to figure out what to do next. Just plowing through the San Juan mountains might not work, there is still much snow. In the Sierras on the PCT I just plowed through (highly unprepared) I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Ignorance is bliss.

Podcast giggles

 

 

hlaw

Checkout my podcast is out on Hike Like a Woman! It was my first time doing a podcast interview. We did the interview back in December 2016, so I was still in trail CDT prep mode. Rebecca is a great interviewer, checkout some of her other interviews of inspiring women. I was nervous, if you can’t tell, thus all the giggling. Listening to myself was strange, my own voice sounds weird to me. Hindsight being 20/20 I wish I had answered some questions, not differently, but more completely. Oh well, hope you check it out! It’s good a chuckle.