Girls in their summer clothes – Bruce Springsteen

As a long distance hiker spending 4-6 months on the trail at a time you get a little dirty. In an effort to be ultra-light (backpacking that emphasizes carrying the lightest and simplest gear safely possible for a given trip) most hikers only have one outfit for this entire time. This can leave a hiker looking pretty haggard and getting some side glances from people in town. But I’m here to tell you roaming around in the woods is no excuse to not look good. Even if you are just going out for a day hike looking good is an avenue to feeling good! It can even put a little pep in your step!

                                        runaway?        runway ready!     day hiking diva!?
Now I don’t always look pulled together, but I try. Last year for the CDT I had the cutest teal Brooks top and thrift store skirt and matching teal trail runners. Unfortunately that outfit was pilfered at the gym the day before I left for the trail so I ended up with a last minute Walmart dress/plaid top uncoordinated ensemble. It worked fine but for pictures I looked like a hot mess, not cute. Looking nice is important, well for me it is, don’t judge. This one time I went into a runners shoe store in search of trail shoes. The guy helping me knew all about shoes, arch supports and toe boxes. He brought out a plethora of shoes for me to try on, but when I asked him “do you have some in a cute pink or teal” he was stumped. He replied “color doesn’t matter”. Ha! Wrong answer I replied heading for the door. Seriously, I’ve painfully strutted around in 3 inch black suede heels, but I looked so good. Now I highly recommend you getting some comfortable (preferably broken in) footwear for the trail. That being said if you want a nice color don’t be afraid to seek that out.

Now a days there are a multitude of options in ladies outer wear. If you can’t find your look in the sporting goods store, outfitters, online or just don’t want to break the bank; I got two words for ya. Thrift Store. There’s probably a flowy dress or skirt in there just waiting for ya! Throw on some leggings and boom you’re ready to crush it. I found a nice butterfly dress, that coincidentally matched my Dirty Girl gaiters, for three bucks at a thrift shop. It’s my “town dress” for when my hiking clothes are in the laundry! Turns out it’s also great for pictures and works with my tutu. Tutu!?! Yess, I wear a tutu (that I have to carry for about 50 miles) at the end of my hikes. It’s fun, cute and makes me happy, kinda like my Cargo Tail. Wait, what? Yes it’s fun and people interact or speak to me on trail because of it. Hiking is about the challenge, feeling empowered, blah, blah, blah……and fun, don’t forget to pack your fun! Besides fashion forward hiker trash get quicker hitches, maybe.

                                            Nice tail. Thanks, I been crushing it!

Come Talk To Me – Peter Gabriel

Heck I recently had someone say to me ‘hiking is that all you ever talk about’? No and Yes. It is my current passion. It brings me joy, happiness, makes me feel strong and it takes me to magical places. So yeah, I talk about it A LOT. No, I will not dim my light for you. If my happiness and joy thing is too much for you get to stepping, I’m fine with that. I’m trying to do something here. What? I don’t know. Be happy, live my truth…I’m figuring it out as I go, ok.  I’m on a non-traditional journey. Awhile back I was really into bicycling, biked across the state of Iowa like 11 times and did a Duathlon.  There was a lot of prep and training that went along with that. Similarly with hiking there is a lot that goes into getting ready for a hike. The journey begins long before I take the first step.

So I will be writing and talking about it. If you have a “thing” you are passionate about put it out there, talk about it, I’ll listen. Once I planned a bike trip from Iowa to Mississippi. I talked about it a lot, did tons of planning. I only made to St. Louis (it’s hotter than blazes along the Mississippi river in June) but I tried. Go ahead, follow your passion as they say. When I decided to do the PCT I had never done anything like that before. But I wanted to see if I could, I did! I have my sights set on some other wild ideas (well outside my wheel house) that I may fail at spectacularly, but I owe it to myself to try. What are you gonna try this year? Do it with passion, shine your light!

Podcast giggles

 

 

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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.

A change is gonna come

Hey everyone!! I know it has been awhile since my last post. I finally got back home to California and needed to get a job ASAP. I have a very long to do list, car registration, place to live, find 2nd job and still maintain a social life. Don’t even get me started on the CDT to do list, so-many-details. So I’ve been busy with life.

I have written a couple of posts, they are hanging out in drafts….I keep changing my mind, I’m wishy washy like that. I’ve been wrestling with the idea of writing a post on race & diversity. I just don’t know, one must choose their words carefully when dealing with said topic. That and everyone is hypersensitive right now. People have asked about being a solo black female on the trail. With almost 4000 miles of hiking under my shoes, I have to say race has not been an issue.

My whole life I’ve participated in activities that were mostly white. That’s just my life. From hockey cheer-leading (yes we cheered on the ice, I get that question so often)to skiing to road biking. I’ve never let participants race determine if I was gonna give something a try or deter me.

Of course I’d love for more African Americans to experience the joys of being in nature. It’s good for both mental and physical health…and just plain fun. I’d also love to see more representation in ads and magazines. But until that happens. Make A Plan and go for it! (I’m talking to you people of color) Every camp out doesn’t have to be a epic adventure, maybe just an over night. Represent! Take a buddy with you. Please don’t wait until you see someone who looks like you before decide to go. Just go. You can do it. African American clothing designers, how about some hiking gear! I enjoy answering backpacking/hiking/camping questions, lay them on me.  I’ve had this blog since what, 2014  and still people are like ‘I couldn’t find any African American hikers’. I was inspired to thru hike by just reading some blogs by some tough ladies who tackled many a trails. They were all white btw.

On the PCT I hiked with some great…. people (yes mostly white people). We hiked and talked about our families, hopes, dreams and silly things. We all want the same things, but most importantly we talked, that’s where it starts. See when it comes to race on the trail…..let me put it this way. When you are cold, got miles to go, scared, and trying not to slide off the side of a snowy mountain; your trail buddies skin color isn’t really important. You just make it happen….together.

 

Leave it to me as I find a way to be

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I’m finally finding the time to reflect on my journey. It’s weird, I spent so much time, after finishing the trail, traveling and running here there and everywhere. There has just not been time. Or maybe….

I was avoiding it. Some how there has been a part of me that has not really wanted address how much it effected and changed me. As it is I have changed so deeply at my core that I cry at the loss of who I was.

Some days I catch myself reacting as my old self would, that is frightening. It’s like trying to slide into an old skin. It’s not right it doesn’t fit, it’s uncomfortable yet familiar. It is imperative that I find a way to embrace this new me and move forward.

                                                                  ………..find a way…….
What has started all this ruminating? Well I been working put all my trail pics in a video you know with music and stuff. It’s taking a bit as my computer, well, sucks. The windows program is constantly crashing, so annoying. That and everyday it seems harder and harder to settle in the city. When did things become so overly complicated? Why am I here? Why is it so darn noisy?

Today I watched a film about the Appalachian Trail. So much hard stuff to deal with rain, mice, mosquito, mountains lots of them. Yet after the film I whipped out the calendar to see when I could start! Um, yea when did I become this person, did not see that coming. I have a feeling it’s gonna be a long winter and I need new hiking shoes.

Paperback Writer

So it was my birthday this last week! Another spin around the sun and what can I say this last chapter in the life of me was a dozey! Really looking forward to the next one because I did not realize the last one was gonna play out the way it did. You just never know.

I didn’t really do much for my birthday, but I did get to go to Youtopia at the last minute. So glad that I did. It was amazing! Got to spend time with some very special people, get my dance on and a bunch of, well other things went on. It was beautiful. Connected with a guy from North Carolina hoping we can meet up when get out east!  Even got to throw up my old Coleman tent, after that one person tent that Coleman was super roomy! Heck I could have had people over, if I was ever there. Think I slept all of 4 hours all weekend, good thing I don’t feel as old as I am.

Looking forward to my life settling down a bit but I am just not sure when that’s gonna happen. With work and so many people I need to catch up with. Feels like I am constantly running with hardly time for a short hike. That makes me sad and even more anxious. Pushing to get into my own space by November, that should help lower my current high anxiety. I just feel really discombobulated with things everywhere, the room, the car, storage. I need a solid landing pad so I can focus and stop stressing out. At least I’ve started eating better, so there’s that. One day at time, one thing at a time, just breathe……………………

By the way did you see this article:
It’s all about the journey. Hiking the PCT, solo.
This was pretty much the first interview I’ve ever done, or least remember (mind is the first to go). It came out pretty awesome, but that’s just me. Thanks Teresa!

Gear Breakdown

When I did my preparation, I compared gear reviews from a bunch of blogs, journals and websites. It was my intention to forgo comfort for less weight. That sorta happened. They say you pack your fears and mine was cold. So I carried cold weather gear the whole trip weight be darned. So let’s get started.

Tent: Six moon – Scout

WP_20150519_002_preview
tent inside teepee, yes!!

Upside: Light weight
Downside: Honestly I wasn’t too happy with this choice. Anybody around when I put it up knows of my displeasure. Using trekking poles as tent poles is great til you break your poles in the middle of the woods. Plus staking it down was kinda a pain, especially setting up in the rain or snow.

Sleeping bag: Big Agnes Mirror 20 degree
Upside: Simply put, warm. Even when I cowboy camped and it got all wet, I was warm inside. When it was warm I just threw it over me, still great.

Backpack: ULA Circuit
train track_preview

Upside: Light weight, the fit was great, held more than enough stuff and really sturdy.
Downside: Could use like two more pockets. Also wish there was a way to put away and get poles without having to take off my pack. Like if I could whip them on the pack all ninja style would be cool. But maybe that’s asking too much.

Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Z/MSR. Talus Sure lock

Upside: The Black Diamond was great & light weight, til they broke. Not even sure how, it just snapped at the z part. First one then the other. But they lasted all but 2 weeks. The MSR were a tad bit heavier, but super sturdy. (thanks Dinsmore’s for the poles)

Downside: I really only use the poles when I want to really move or crossing water. Most of the time they are strapped to my pack. However, they were necessary for my tent.

Shoes: Brooks Cascadia 9/New Balance

Ok, so here is the shoe situation. August 2014 I got my Brooks to tryout, loved them. So I trained in them and started the PCT in them. So great comfy, light weight and no blisters. I was happy as a chipmunk, however they had plenty of miles from the jump. So by the time I went to order more (around the Sierras), too late. I could only find Brooks 10 in my size (not my fav). My bad. So I picked up some New Balance and shipped my lovingly used Brooks to Ashland. The NB did not work for me, my feet are flat and weird, but they got me to Ashland where I slipped back into my old Brooks. Now yes I should have gotten new shoes, but I tend to make do and I wanted to ride it out. So I slipped in some inserts and made it to Canada. I don’t recommend this. Ok enough about shoes.

Rain gear: Or lack the of =poncho

I did not have adequate rain gear. There I said it. A rain poncho works well….until it doesn’t. Lesson learned, invest in rain jacket and pack cover. Even though nothing in my pack got wet, except for when I spilled water in there.

Energizer Headlamp: It was inexpensive and worked like it was, but it worked. Basically it just wasn’t very bright.

Cold Weather Gear:

Walker pass_preview

Laundry Puffy jacket-not the lightest, but inexpensive and warm
Cool Max long sleeve top- loved it, kept me super warm!

Wool hat, fingerless gloves (camo insulated gloves for Sierras), leggings, cropped workout pants. Surprisingly this all kept me toasty enough.

Socks- I had a lot of socks, so weird, I lost some, bought some, was gifted some. I really liked the Thorlos and the Darn Tough the best though.

Well I think that is it. I really didn’t have that much stuff. Daily I wore my black skirt (found at a thrift store years ago and used to bike in, that skirt could tell some stories). Topped it off with a Columbia short sleeved shirt (loved it even more when I found the hidden pocket), dirty girl gaiters (all the kids are wearing um) sports bra and my Pat hat!

So time ton start working on my new gear list…….I’m gonna need some things!!!

Time to burn

Tomorrow we hit the road headed to Nevada!! Time for that thing in the desert, otherwise known as Burning Man. I’m excited to say the least. Last year darling Marie sat with me at the burn and asked me what my dream was. I quickly said: To be a thru hiker! Then end with a burn.rt

Well I put it out in the universe and boom! Even when I doubted things just fell into place. Sometimes you just have to put it out there, then get out if your own way.

Super freakin hyped to see all my beautiful crazy burner friends. Let me tell you all throughout this journey my burner friends have been there. Whatever I needed. When I went to my first burn 5 years I had know idea I would meet so many amazing, generous, crazy, beautiful, loving people. I’m so lucky and super grateful, I get hearty (is that a word) and teary writing about this.

But no time to get mushy. We got to finish packin and loading! Dusty hugs for everyone soon! I love you guys!!!!

oh I am so burning my shoes!!!!shoes

Re-entry

So I have been off trail for almost a week. I miss it to say the least, like all of it. The early mornings, the aching feet, even the dirt. It was just so less hectic and simple. When did everything get so complicated with so much stuff.

I thought when I was done I would just want to stop moving, sit down. Nope. Even with the balls of my feet still tender, I feel a need to, well, walk.

Totally enjoying my time here in Seattle. I really like this town. Been staying with my friend Rod who incidentally was at my last dinner before I left and then hosted my return dinner. Can’t think of anyone better, the man knows food. Many thanks for the re-entry crash pad Rod.

Speaking of food, holy crap I can’t stop eating. So many tasty things I haven’t had in so long. But seeing as I am not putting down 20+ miles daily now I have got step away from the food.

So I’ve gone on a few walk abouts. Yesterday I walked six miles to WalMart. Found a nice little trail from the house then along I-90. Heck there is even a 9 mile trail into downtown. I love this town. (there is also the slim chance I could run into Eddie Vedder, so there’s that).

Alas, I’ll being heading further south in a couple of days, by car. Yeah, road trip! It’s time for TTITD. I’ll have a bike there but there’ll be plenty of walking to do!!

Oh Canada

Well if you haven’t heard I freakin made it to Canada! I can’t believe it! Got to the northern terminus on August 13, 2015 at 9am!

Left Skykomich (thanks for the ride Matt!) and took the ferry from Chelan to Stehekin. Steheken is a great place you can only get to by ferry, float plan, or hiking. The fire was just across the lake, we could see flames from our campsite. (thanks to those fighting the fires, you guys are incredible). Got to stop in the famous bakery. Had ice cream, a cookie, monster cinnamon roll, and the biggest croissant every filled with cheese & bacon. So much yummy goodness! Visit Stehekin, the people are so nice, the lake is beautiful and bring me one of those croissants!

After stuffing myself we hiked on to Rainy Pass and hitched into Mazama. I was worried my last package won’t make it, since we had to change the shipping at the last minute. But Leslie was on the ball, and it got there just minutes before I did! After a quick resupply Goat and I headed for Harts Pass. There was trail magic there, muffins, fruits and drinks! Thanks Meander!

We camped 6 miles out from the border and celebrated a bit! I woke the next day in a mood, due a lack of sleep. There was a deer (with a huge rack) eating outside my tent all night, seriously I could hear it chewing. Guess we were in his dinner spot! My mood improved once we started those last miles, to the monument.

I’ll tell ya it was kinda weird when we got there. I had imagined it for so long. So hard to believe it was over and I had made it. That and I also had 30 more miles back to Harts pass, so it wasn’t really over for me.

After many pictures, signing the register and some mashed potatoes (I was super hungry) we said our goodbyes and Goat headed into Canada while I headed back to Harts pass. (Goat you were a great hiking partner! Thanks for the laughs, trail chat, pushing me and putting up with my crazy especially in the rain! Lol)

goat canada

The 30 mile hike back was a great decompression. Plus I got to see many friends headed to the border. Came around one corner there was Toasted Toad! Happy trails to you man I will never forget Forester Pass!

Did I mention how beautiful Washington is? I will definitely be back! The views, lakes, mountains, only second to the Sierras, in my opinion. I was told there was another fire the smoke & helicopters confirmed it. We were very lucky to get through before the northern fire closures. There is a reroute so people can still get through! Good luck to all those still pushing to the border! Stay safe and happy trails!

To all those I hiked with or crossed paths with on trail, let me just say Thru Hikers are a special kind of crazy and I wouldn’t want it any other way! Thanks for being part of my journey. See you on the next trail….yes there will be more!!!

 

 

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