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!!

Tahoe Rim Trail

People sometimes ask what’s your next adventure? Really I never know. Things just kinda happen. Like, I wanted to thru hike the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT). However, I just started a new job and taking a week off is currently not an option. So a friend and I decided to section hike it together. 

We decided to do the first leg over the 4th of July long weekend. I dusted off my gear and boom it was on. Getting a late start after work and shuttling cars we hiked up to a nice camp spot then hiked down out of the trees to catch the first set of fireworks out of Kings Beach. Doing the Brockway Summit to Tahoe Meadows was a good choice for firework views but that was still A LOT of snow.

It was really nice trail, then the higher we climbed the snow patches started. Seriously considering some crampons after this hike. All that slipping, sliding and trying not to fall really suck your energy. Found a lovely spot on Mt. Baldy to camp at 9,200 feet. Watched the moon rise on one side of the ridge and the fireworks of Tahoe City, Incline Village, Zepher Cove and South Lake was over the opposite ridge. Afterwards I stood watching boats glide across the lake and the traffic build up on the roads. I was super grateful that I was just ten feet from sliding into my tent for the night.

The section is only 21.6 but I was really glad that we had planned to do it over multiple days. There were certainly parts where we were just hoping for the best only to find we were way off trail. Spent 10 miles picking our way through some sketchy snowy areas. Hiking on snow can really slow your roll and tire you out. We decided to scramble up the granite rocks to get to Raley’s Peak (the highest point on the TRT) at 10,335 feet. It was a way more fun than picking our way over miles of suncups (bowl-shaped open depressions into a snow surface) what a workout that is! 

Getting to the top of Relay’s we were rewarded with amazing panoramic 360 degree views. Then we had to get down. Without crampons taking the trail towards Mt. Rose was out of the question…..so sliding down the steep face of suncups then high stepping over the depressions of the only choice. Skiing this area next season has got me a bit excited. 

I really enjoyed this hike, I’ m so glad to be living in the Tahoe Basin. Hiking the Sierra’s on the PCT was my favorite section.  It is a true privilege to have access to the Sierra’s and all it’s beautiful possibilities. What will my next adventure be? Hard to say….. I just  go with the flow and trust the universe will put the correct opportunities in my path. 

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!

Hazy shade of Winter

I’m sitting here watching it snow. It has been snowing all day!
Wednesday night through Thursday: Heavy snow accumulations
of 2 to 5 feet above 7000 feet with blizzard conditions.

Thus is mountain life…..I love it. Well having to dig my car out is not high on my happy list, but skiing tomorrow should be sick. I need want some powder skis, ok maybe it’s not the skis and I need to step up my powder skills…or both.

Got back from a quick weekend in Portland/Trout Lake. Besides some travelling hiccups it was a great trip. Driving along the Columbia River is always so beautiful. Even got to stop by the Multnomah Falls a magnificent 611 feet tall falls. No trip to the area would be complete without a stop at Thunder Island Brewery in Cascade Locks or a Huckleberry Shake!

Sometimes it’s good to get away to appreciate where you came from. After flying all over then running errands in Reno, then the drive back to Tahoe City; I was so glad to get home. (Seriously I was in 4 states over the weekend) Super stoked to get back to work. I really like my job and the people that I work with.

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 


Embrace the New Chapter

Initially was going to start this post with a ‘sorry I haven’t posted in a while’. But I am not. This last month or so I have been sorting things out for myself. Clearing my head and determining my next life steps. In October I celebrated my 48th birthday, it was similar to an out of body experience. I was surrounded by people but alone. It is a strange yet familiar place for me. People look at me but they don’t actually see me for who I truly am. There is so much about me they do not know, at times I can see in the faces filling in the blanks with what makes them comfortable. Who will they decide that I am?

In Portland for my birthday I explored the city, trails and saw old friends. Mainly I was there for the ALDHA West Gathering, a hiker get together that includes speakers, Trail Angel/Triple Crown Awards and Board elections. I won a sweet Hyperlite backpack playing bingo and the 60’s costume contest!

The Triple Crown award presentation was enjoyable, I did a very short acceptance speech, it was recorded but I haven’t seen it yet, it was kinda a blur.

TC photo

That’s where the Board elections come in. I ran for a member at large seat. It seemed like a great way meet other hikers, learn more about long distance hiking/conservation and offer my skills as a way to give back to the community. I won! I was shocked (there were some other great candidates) then excited.

group aldha

ALDHA West board members '19
ALDHA West Board Members

So it’s gonna be a busy and excited winter learning new things, meeting new people, working with the board and living in Tahoe. That’s a whole lot of new.

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!

 

 

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?