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!

Eat Me, Drink Me -Marilyn Manson

“Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.” -M.F.K. Fisher

food

I love food. That being said I eat really bad. Ok, not that bad but not good. But I’m lazy, single, busy, and I abhor going to the grocery store. Basically I have tons of excuses for not eating better. Thru hiking has not helped. When I hike I don’t eat well or healthy, if at all. I wrote a bit about my eating issues here. I just don’t get hiker hunger, not til I get home. Then eating Nutella and gummy bears on the regular is not good. So I try to keep moving.

Needing a bit of variety in my life I’ve brought running back into my life. I used to run, begrudgingly in the military. I even ran (ok, mostly walked) the Des Moines Dam to Dam half marathon. But I did it, so I figured why not give it another try (running and a half marathon)! Crazy, right, well that’s how I roll (slowly). Thing about running, especially at my age I need to be better about how I fuel myself. Now I am not giving up the Nutella or gummy bears, they’re just too good. Dialing those back and adding in healthy stuff I love. Avocados, nuts, fruits and veggies. Maybe all those times I wasn’t eating on trail I can just chalk up to intermittent fasting!

So I’ve been researching healthier, affordable and tasty trail food options. Stumbled upon this site whole food hiker.  The site has some great nutritional and trail information. I usually tune out when someone starts talking health food. However the guys delivery is refreshing. Besides, I’ve been tossing around the idea of another walk to Canada, that Hot Springs Trail has got me all kinds of interested! It’s kinda off the beaten path kinda trail, I like that.

Speaking of trail food something I really like is chocolate! Recently at REI I picked up a chocolate+coffee snack that is so good! What’s better than a chocolate+coffee before you head up that mountain. Joe Chocolates, my favorite is the Honey Almond; but there is three other tasty flavors! Yep that’s going in the resupply box!

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!

Five More Minutes – Scotty McCreery

 

“Time rolls by the clock don’t stop, wish I had a few more drops
of the good stuff…”

Hiking Estes Park Colorado
Hiking Estes Park Colorado

You might have heard me say I started hiking 4 years ago (long distance anyway). Well I’m getting old and forgetful! This popped up on my Facebook memories (FB you don’t totally suck)! Look at me hiking Estes Park, when I was living in Colorado 10 years ago. Rockin actual hiking boots AND a camo backpack.  You’ve come a long way chardonnay!

That’s me a real OG (outdoorsy girl)! I’ve been “adventuring” for so long it’s become my normal. Normal or not, the memories coming in waves are special and remind me the clock doesn’t stop for anyone. Take in every moment in life or you’ll blink and it’ll all be over.

Nature Therapy: Why The Great Outdoors Is Great For Recovery

Feature Image: Courtesy Pixabay
This guest post was written by Michelle Petersen

In the 19th century, aristocrats and well-to-do members of the upper-middle class flocked to spa towns and health resorts across the western world. From Bath, England, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, the Great and the Good pursued wellness by going out into the countryside in search of fresh air, sunlight, flowing water and green space to combat the tyranny of disease. Research is proving them half right.

Spending time in nature boosts immune response, improves the symptoms of depression and lowers blood pressure and stress levels. For the millions of people struggling with addiction, access to a good therapy program that incorporates outdoor activities could make the difference between a successful recovery and relapse.

Green Exercise

Physical activity in the natural environment has been demonstrated to bring about improvements in both short and long-term health outcomes. Studies show that a simple walk in the woods helped patients with ADHD to improve their concentration after only 20 minutes. Just living in an area with abundant parks and woodland can have lasting positive effects on mental health. Japanese research indicates that people who exercise regularly in fresh air and natural green spaces actually extend their lifespan.

A Healing Environment

Researchers are investigating the ways in which our stress responses are mitigated by being in the outdoors. A Japanese team from Chiba University theorized that our bodies evolved to interpret information about plants and streams, not traffic and high-rise buildings, and that we are adapted to relax and heal in pleasant, natural surroundings.

Finland has gone so far as to implement a program of five hours a month of nature experience to help combat their population’s high rates of alcoholism, suicide and depression. South Korea has three official “healing forests” utilized as treatment therapies for maladies as varied as cancer, depression and addiction. They plan to advance the program by adding 34 more in the next two years.

Healthy Changes In Lifestyle

In the U.S., there is a growing demand for experiential therapies to assist patients with their recovery from substance abuse and addiction. Along with traditional approaches, such as counseling and behavioral and nutrition therapies, many hospitals and rehab centers are taking their patients out into nature, with great success. Patients are engaging in myriad physical activities such as rock climbing, kayaking and hiking. These programs focus on strengthening the body and mind with healthful exercise in enriching surroundings. Participants learn teamwork and cooperation while building trust and self-confidence.

Hiking in the woods offers the recovering addict a peaceful environment in which to distract themselves from their problems, while providing them a series of obtainable goals. The next hill, the next tree and the next rock — these are all achievable. As they learn new, natural skills, they improve their mindset and find a new sense of self-worth. In nature, they are able to focus on the task at hand and draw strength from their surroundings. They can clear their minds and renew their commitment to their improved state of health.

Time spent engaged in pleasurable activity outdoors amid the shade of trees and the music of flowing water, encourages our sense of wonder and promotes a feeling of joy. It helps us to connect with nature and improve our health and well-being.

For an addict in recovery, it can also ease the symptoms of withdrawal and foster healthy lifestyle changes and the acquisition of natural skills. As Calvin Coolidge once said, “There is new life in the soil for every man. There is healing in the trees for tired minds, and for our overburdened spirits… Remember that Nature is your great restorer.”

About the Author: Michelle Peterson believes the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride. Her mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it.

 

A Flower in the Desert -The Cult

 

If you’re looking for a nice hike, in the wild, with few people around, this is the one. Corte Madera Mountain in Cleveland National Forest, just east of San Diego. You will need a permit, but you can get a free permit emailed to you if you call the rangers station. Seeing as I was the only one on the trail, I had my choice of the couple of campsites at the summit!

The Trail is a 7.5 mile out and back trail near Morena Village. There are great views over
the Lake Morena area and the desert as you climb. At 4,657 feet, it is a continuous climb, so don’t forget to take plenty of water! Overall, great hike. The manzanitas that line the trail throughout the hike are cool, some were completely covered in the bright red bark.
There are signs noting the birds of prey nesting in the area, I wasn’t lucky enough to spot any. On the upside I also didn’t see the mountain lion that is rumored to be in the area, either.

Leaving late in the afternoon I made it to the top and set up camp just in time for the moonrise! My camp was just off trail surrounded by large granite boulders, I had dinner grazing at the twinkling city lights in the distance. It was a lovely, much needed, restful evening under a full moon. Initially I had intended on staying two nights, but quite a few hikers came through in the morning so I decided to bounce.  I hiked down and headed for Anza Borrego State Park! I really enjoy the desert. (side note my first bicycle was a yellow banana seat named the Desert Flower, foreshadowing?)  The desert is very calming to me, hot, but calm. So, yep from the mountains to the desert in an hour, Southern California! On the way to meet friends, I stopped off to stretch my legs at the Slot Canyons. It has been awhile since I’ve been there.

The Slot Canyon, just of highway 78, is a hidden gem of tall narrow channels, that at points you need to squeeze your body to fit around tight curves. The trail itself is pretty easy, with plenty of kids scrambling through. The trail is only about 2 miles with a “loop” that goes out into the open desert. Take plenty of fluids and a hat if you plan on exploring the open sections! Most people that I saw go on the hike (probably due to the heat) just went through the canyon and then turned around and went back.

IMG_20180401_073414_600.jpgSpent the rest of the weekend recharging, reconnecting, watching four-wheelers and dirt bikes whip across the dry lake bed. I woke early to have coffee, watch the sunrise and take in the cool quiet morning.

 

Heading back home in the late afternoon as I approach Scissors Crossing I spotted two hikers thumbing on the side of the road! Two thru hikers from Brisbane, Australia  looking to get a lift in Julian, I was happy to help and here how their journey was thus far. Being in this section of the PCT brings back a flood of memories. How little I knew, hitching for the first time and camping alone in the San Felipe Hills. It is my wish for the 2018 PCT class that they travel safely, show kindness to those that cross their path and remain open to the lessons of the trail!20180401_162241thru hikers happy to get to Julian…..and get some pie!

 

Something to Talk About – Bonnie Raitt

About 40 days out from starting my hike and I’m getting in trail mode. Making lists checking them twice. I don’t read blog obsessively like I did before the PCT anymore. However, I might checkout a hiking movie or two, listen to some podcasts. I really got into podcasts on the CDT, I like listening while I hike. My mind flows differently when I’m hiking, ideas come in waves, creativity is stirred. Listening to podcast reminds me of  times gone by when people would sit around the radio to listen to a show, you know like before tv. Listening while I hike, I can let my mind imagine the stories in vivid color, get wild ideas about my next adventure and learn some things.  Continue reading “Something to Talk About – Bonnie Raitt”

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.

Pictures Of You -The Cure

Why did I watch that?

The 2015 Pacific Crest Trail Class Video. Think I’ve watched it at least half a dozen times. It makes me happy and brings me to tears every freakin time. I might be biased but 2015 was the best year to thru hike the PCT, what a bunch of characters. Forever I’ll be grateful that it was my first long distance hiking experience. So many weird, crazy, amazing, painful, life changing, heart stopping things happened in that 4.5 months. Let me tell you, I’ve seen a lot of things from RAGBRAI to TTITD (and other stuffs be we’re not gonna get into that right now) but thru hiking, well, that’s living. I could go on and on (as some of you know) but why….there’s a video!

Oh you can see me at minute 1:29:42……representation yo!

https://vimeo.com/163526977

Just for playing along……..here’s bonus, never shown footage from my private collection.

 8/13/15- “The price is high. The reward is great.” – Maya Angelou