Return Trip

Had a great time in Michigan with my crazy family! It’s a good thing I am hitting the trail soon, I ate soooo much food. I couldn’t help myself, you know, home cooking. I think they were trying to fatten me up for the hike. Apple pie with ice cream, wine, chicken, dumplings, stuffed pasta shells, more wine, smoothies, grits……..some how I missed out on my brothers taco night, next time (but I’m so flying). Great seeing my nieces and nephews, they are all so grown up now (well except the newest addition). Did a lot of running around, laughing, family foolishness, even went to church with mom. Nothing like family time.

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Mom and I in our Sunday best. (and my sisters finger)

 

Drove straight through from Flint to Denver on Saturday 18 hours! Had mom along for the ride. We were pretty spent by the time we got to Sissy’s house in Green Valley. After a couple hours sleep I was back on the road. Left mom in Denver to spend time with family/friends and catch a flight back home. She rode as far as Denver but she is not fond of driving through the mountains. I tried to ease mom’s fears about the hike, but of course she is still worried. It’s what mom’s do. I told her not to watch in wilderness shows for a while.

It was a great drive from Denver through the mountains. Realized that can only road trip alone or with certain people (you know who you are). I roll a particular way on the open road or I get real wound up. Anyway, made a quick stop at Arches National Park, what a beautiful park. I will be going back when I have more time to hike and explore for sure! It was really hard to stay on the road rolling through Utah, there are so many great views and places to stop and hike. So yep had to take a quick spin around Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

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Finally made it back! Whew now I guess I’m ready to walk to Canada. My next trip is, so gonna be by plane.

Road Trip!

2 weeks, 2 days, and 6 hours til I hit the trail……………and I am in the middle of cross country road trip. Yep I taking a quick trip back to see my family in Michigan and some friends in Iowa.
So far it has been quite the trip. I took the scenic route, so beautiful are the mountains through Utah and Colorado. Even with the white knuckle drive over the very snowy Vail and Loveland Passes.

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I’ve been called crazy for taking on the PCT and making this drive. Is it crazy or just living? Sure I could have flew home. But I would have missed out on seeing Devils Canyon in the Black Ridge Wilderness and getting to spend some
quality time with old friends.

It’s been 3 years since I left Iowa for Southern California. Great to be back, so much has changed but it’s still the same. Great night out with my girls. What a bunch of beautiful, smart, strong, funny, and active women!

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And yes they are ‘crazy’ like me all in their own special way! Caught up with some past coworkers and some old friends. So many memories, laughter, tears and life experiences were revisited (over adult beverages, of course). Iowa is a great place to be from.

Tomorrow I’m headed for Michigan! Family time!

What is this feeling…..

Having trouble describing the way I am feeling lately. It’s really a hodgepodge of feelings. In the last month I have connected with some really amazing people and that makes me happy (but also sad that I will soon have to be away from them for so long on the trail.) It is probably completely irrational but I am kinda worried I’ll be forgotten. Maybe I’m just being silly but it is the way I feel. Maybe it is just the realization of things actually happening that has me all wound up.

In the last week I purchased burning man tickets, sent in my Canada permit and my PCT permit. I traded out for a different tent(six moons- Scout), started 2 different jobs, and considered joining the circus (i know, that’s story for later). My social life has been at cruising altitude for a while now, that is fun an all, but the hermit in me is clutching a parachute and checking for exits.

Breathe………don’t panic……….this to shall pass. Freak out tomorrow. Aw heck it’s Friday, let’s wait and freak out on Monday!

Priorities

Well I had to make some grown up decisions today. Boo. I had hoped to go on a week long 150 mile hike next week, as a training hike. I was really looking forward to it. Being able to test some gear, test myself, learn some things and have some fun. But unfortunately that is not going to happen.

See taking 5 months off work and hiking the PCT is not an inexpensive endeavor. Recently when I was chatting about doing the trail (it’s all I do now) a guy asked how can you afford that you must have a trust fund. Wouldn’t that be great but um, no. To take 5 months off work I’ve had to make some (many) sacrifices. Some have been harder than others.

Like that training, I was really pumped about it. For awhile there I was going hell or high-water. But then word priorities kept popping into my head. Right now the PCT is my priority. You know if it’s meant to be it’s up to me!!

Right now I just can’t afford to take a week off work. (Heck, I’m actually interviewing for a second job tomorrow.) 3 months, 4 days, 23 hours til the first step (well give or take, close enough to freak out a little) Time to start making the tough decisions. No more procrastinating and what not. I still haven’t decided what socks to take Injinji or Darn Tough!!! Agh! Wait….don’t panic….breathe…ok…Injinji it is, there that wasn’t so hard. Boy, soon the only decision I’ll need to make is start with the left foot or right foot!!!!!!!!!

Synchronicity

Talked to my mom this morning. She is convinced I should contact a friend of hers about a job “because they are hiring”. While I need a job with good insurance, better pay and the security of a government job would be great and all…I just can’t see starting a new job with only 5 months til I leave. By the way she did not acknowledge this fact at all. Now I have told her. I’m not sure if she has forgotten or chosen to pretend that it is not going to happen. For like a second I doubted myself…

After talking to her I logged onto my computer…..this quote was posted by another thru hiker:

“Alongside our greatest longing lives an equally great terror of finding the very thing we seek. Somehow we know that doing will irreversibly shake up our lives, our sense of security, change our relationship to everything we hold as familiar and dear. But we also suspect that saying no to our deepest desires will mean self-imprisonment in a life too small. And a far- off voice within insists that the never-before-seen treasure is well worth any sacrifices and difficulty in recovering it.”
-Bill Plotkin, ‘Soulcraft’

With that, I realized I would not be making that call. 

Breaking away from the “norm” has created a great deal of anxiety for me. While there is safety, security and familiarity in the norm it doesn’t make my heart sing and my soul soar. I need, want, will stay on my current path. The desire to hike the PCT is in me now, not later, now.

When I return maybe I’ll get that job with better pay, insurance and all the things; or maybe not.  The path I’ve chosen may will have it’s ups and downs, heck I may fail miserably at this whole endeavor but at least I will have tried.

Portland……………..

One great thing about my weekend in Big Sur was that I got to do A LOT of thinking. I haven’t yet figured anything out, but I certainly thought about stuff. Mostly I been trying to figure out what I will do AFTER the PCT. Seeing as I won’t have a job, home or even a car, I got to figure out a plan.

Seriously I have been tossing around the idea of moving to Portland. Thru hikers tend to gravitate there (surrounding yourself with people get “it” can be real nice), plus I know a few burners who recently moved there, plus they get rain. Oh how I miss rain. Anyway I do like San Diego (even with it’s lack of rain), thing is I’m not sure I love it. I need to find a place to land for a while, a longer while than usual. I need a place that makes me not think about being anywhere else.

So yea, I need to plan a trip to Portland, quick like.

Big Sur, CA

Went on the most fabulous camping weekend! My friend Pat and I threw a bunch stuff and a tent in the sugar cube and took off for a couple of days in Big Sur! It was well, fabulous. I didn’t even have cell phone coverage, yea!  It was just great to drive up there with absolutely no plans.

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We camped in three different camp sites. The first one we tried to slip out without paying, but at the last minute we paid (it had nothing to do with the golf cart chasing us)!  Hilarious. The next day we camped at place that totally had a full sign posted …..but then we asked and they had one left! I think those full signs are a joke, just saying, because the next it happened again. We opted out of camping by the beach (Limekin)with ALL the families instead we drove up in the mountain and BINGO! We found the greatest campsite ever! Yep I liked it that much! It was just off a bend in the road. At first we thought we would be camping by the road then hiking up the canyon. However there was a couple of great spots just feet up the canyon.

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After tucking our tent into a spot right between two redwoods, we hiked up the canyon following a small creek that led right back to a Waterfall! I swear this was the second waterfall of the day (we hiked to one earlier). Did I mention right up the road from our site was great spot with a log a view of the ocean and a great spot to watch the sun rise and set! Yep this place was so sweet I wouldn’t have been surprised if a unicorn pranced by! (Actually we did see some deer at sunset and zebras on the drive up).

We squeezed in a lot of hiking between taking in the sights (even some window shopping). It was cool as you are driving along the coast you can just pull over and hike out to a secluded beach, or up and down the canyons.

Lovely place, I recommend going. I know I will be going back!!

End with a Burn

Well, Burning Man 2014 is in the books! Although I am still process all the events, experiences and lessons I am moving through the change on to my next adventure. As my friend said last night it hard to come away from a burn without changes. This year my changes are smaller but I feel a deeper meaning.

I spoke many times at the burn (to anyone who would listen) about my upcoming PCT adventure. The similarities between the two experiences are staggering.The sense of community, LNT, trail magic/playa magic, surrendering to the elements. Carrot’s recent post struck a cord:

The PCT is a place that we construct with our imaginations that has its own culture, value systems, traditions, vocabulary, cuisine (block of dry ramen covered in peanut butter, anyone?), beauty standards, and mythology. We come together, agree that this place exists, and then we all there, for a little while. 

At Burning Man we construct a city quite the same way, it’s extraordinarily indescribable, the planning, transport and building of all the things, together we build this magical place to live. But after a week it is gone, we burn the art and remove the rest, as though it never existed at all. It remains only in our collective hearts.

Initially I was wrote the burn off for next year, but now I am super determined to try and make it back in time. What an epic way to end my PCT adventure! The logistics and finances I have yet to figure out but if it is meant to be things will come together. Things tend to work out the way they are supposed to.

 

So the ‘real’ planning and training has begun. Down to about 7 months to get my crap together! Eeek! Time flies man. Seems like just yesterday that the class of 2014 was leaving kickoff. But in the last weeks many have completed their journey at the northern terminus. Ah, yes there is a feeling I long to have, but wait I’m getting ahead of myself, so much to do.

 

Along with all the gear, packing, training, and a gazillion spreadsheets I ‘ve been working on some inner stuff too.

Like figuring out what my philosophy/goals are for this thru-hike. Hike fast or just in enjoy the experience, are both possible? Do I want prove something to myself?  What’s the meaning to life? What are my plans after the trail. What do I really want from all this?

These questions whirl in my head at night, no real answers yet…..but stay tuned I may have a lead on the meaning to life one!

tentative schedule

Time to Burn

Hey there readers…..crickets…..i know it’s been a bit but I’ve been busy and my internet is sketchy. So while I have been training more in the gym my hiking miles have declined. Did my training hike over the Poway mountain about two weeks ago and did a long stroll with my hiking buddy last weekend, but that about it. Been working out in the gym 3-4 times a week, sometimes twice a day. The weight hasn’t fallen off the way I had hoped, but then I eat crap. (must-eat-better) I can feel my muscles getting firmer and stronger, I can run longer and faster, best of all I feel good.

I’ve had to put most of my PCT training on temporary hold because…….agh!…the man burns in 17 days!!!! Headed to the burn in one week! I am so not ready, not even packed kinda.

Feeling weird about the burn this year, excited then not excited, unfortunately the not excited periods are longer than the excited ones. Oh well ten days to get my head in the game and my sh** together. There are so many things to be excited about this year. First time I am driving myself, ohh, road trip with as many stops as I want! Ranger training, fingers crossed that goes off without a hitch. I have so many friends coming this year that are first time burners! Just got the camp layout and I am tucked back in a nice little corner with some fun people. (agh , they better not change it).

I had written the burn off completely for next year…..however….as I see people on the trail this year are finishing up pretty early (ie before September).. I know that it is a wild fantastical dream but what an epic way to cap off a PCT hike but with the man burn!! A girl can dream……

Never give up….

Gearing up for the PCT takes, well, effort. Now I see how and why people become obsessed with gear research. There are so many options and it’s all like a personal thing what you choose. You read one persons gear list and think, cool that seems reasonable, then you tally up the cost yea, no. Check out another gear list great that financially doable, but wait can I really get my base weight down to 8lbs? (base weight gear without food or water) Let’s face it I have never been a shopper, heck I just bought new trail runners I haven’t bought news in 7 years!! So I suppose I should get quality gear, it’s gonna have to last.

I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around what my food and resupply planning will be like. This task may well be the biggest I have ever taken on. Been reading so many blogs lately of people that have gotten off the trail for many reasons; from lack of money, training and just motivation. Makes me want to be that much more prepared. I really have to use these nine months to get REALLY ready. All the while reminding myself that what will be will be.

That being said, I just finished reading the Anish article in Backpacker! Wow, just wow. She did 44 mile days (and broke the PCT speed record 60 days and 17 hours and 12 minutes), that is just mad crazy. What a great story about not stopping, giving up and following through.