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!

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!

 

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