Life is so delicious

Can’t say I went hungry while in Fiji. So much tasty goodness. A lot of the time at the resort was spent deciding what and where to eat next. There was an amazing Sheraton breakfast buffet, with a fresh juice bar complete with smoothies and protein drinks. Even made to order eggs. Good thing there was a gym and numerous beach activities.

Our first days in the interior jungle we lived on Backcountry meals and protein bars. Some people are not fans if rehydrated meals. I thought they were tasty, except for when they were crunchy. But that was usually due to me not adding adequate water and being impatient.

By the time the race was going, so was catering. The local catering crew had mad skills and worked long hours, but always greeted us with smiles. Seriously in a field they whipped out fresh pastries, cookies, breakfast, lunch and dinner! When it’s raining, your sliding in mud on limited sleep….a hot meal can be a game changer. 

Then there were the Wavaka villagers at Camp 2. The village ladies came over for tea. Little did I know ‘tea’ meant tea/coffee and 2 trays of fresh baked breads! There is just something unexplainable about sharing food with others, there is a coming together a sense of community. I will be forever grateful to those near and far that have shared their food and allowed me to become part of their world.

What finer things to do than travel and eat well? Even if you could only afford to do it rarely, the fact that you aspire to that, and are willing to spend money. I think that speaks well of people” Anthony Bourdain

We’re #2, we’re #2!!!

Camp 2

When we arrived at Camp 2, the command post was already set up, since it was late we opted to sleep inside under the giant race map! There was also the business of meeting the local village workers. Little did we know those guys would share so much with us in the coming days.

Our camp was 2 of 4. WE’RE #2!!!!! There was a command post, medical, media and food tent. I eventually got my tent up!

Camps were where teams could meet with their team assistant(TA). The camp volunteers stationed at that the camps organized a site for each team and their gear was delivered to that spot. When teams or their TA arrived we pointed them in the right direction. It was funny because prior to the race start we had a whole system of how we were gonna do everything. Then the race started, the rain started and things got real. See a large truck would arrive filled to the brim with about 5 large plastic tubs per team and other stuff. All this gear has to be carted over to the camping area. Unfortunately with all the rain and mud we were only able to get the truck so close or they’d get stuck in the mud. Thanks to a lot of rugby strong Fiji men, every tub was carried  to the every site and back.

Terry- Malaysia, Tim-US, and Derek-Canada were the other Camp 2 volunteers with Lani as our Lead. It was a joy working/laughing/exploring with all of them. Speaking of Lani she is Fijian and in charge of our camp, heck there wasn’t anything she wasn’t on top of. No matter what urgent matter came up she had the answer, so when people mistook me for her I was stoked (sans answers). Her grace under pressure (especially with very little sleep) is something I aspire to. Being Fijian she made sure we got to catch some of everything and explore. There is some much to see in Fiji but exploring the villages was pure joy!

Two Tickets to Pardise(ok, 1)

I was anxious and tired when we landed in Fiji at 5am, it’s a super long flight to paradise. Once again I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, but it was big. Other participants and event organizers were milling around the airport terminal, jet lagged from different corners of the world. Once we sorted out groupings, passports and changing money we loaded busses to go to the resort, our home and training location for the next couple of days. Some of the volunteers were experienced and had been part of past Eco Challenges they were way more confident in the goings on than us newbies. 

I roomed with Cali from the UK, she was super nice and I just loved to hear talk. What, I like a nice accent. With a couple of other volunteers we explored, ate and prepped for going to our camps. There were credentials, shirts, documents and radios to be picked up. Then the repacking from your luggage to your backpack. It’s a lot like packing for a camping trip, well because that’s exactly what we were doing. Adventure camping in the jungle, as usual I could have been more prepared. Live and learn!

The adventure part of Adventure Racing (AR) is what really excites me. Like long distance biking, thru-hiking and even burning man, AR is just little out there. The energy and build up in the preparation. Knowing it’s gonna be hard, challenging, frustrating and you’ll ask yourself, many times, why am I here. But you push on through the fears and doubts with the help of like minnded people who remind you of the magic in an adventure.  

The next stage of this adventure began with a 6 hour van ride to our remote Camp 2. Seeing the city melt into the remote country side is quite the experience.

It’s hard to explain how surreal this was for me. 17 years ago I watched Eco Challenge on TV and now here I was, a part of it. When I applied I doubted I would make the cut. Seriously you should have seen my application video, it was so……me. I guess that’s the key throw your hat in the ring and be yourself. But yeah that’s basically how I ended up a volunteer in the World’s Toughest Race. For those of you watching on Amazon Prime…(I know you are)…..check me out on X-Ray bonus feature!

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!!

Eco Challenge – Fiji

After a challenge, trip, adventure or experience I get home and take a deep breath. Then I say to myself (sometimes out aloud) whew, I did it….and didn’t die! 

Although I step out of my comfort zone on the regular, it’s a monumental task for my inner me every-time. I’m not big on labels but I suppose you call me an extroverted introvert. I live for going places, trying new things and meeting people. But it is seriously exhausting mentally and emotionally. 

Usually the first thing I’ll do when I get somewhere is find an escape spot where I can go and reset. In Fiji it was down a little cliff then  across the river to a sand bar. A couple times I had to scramble to beat the rain. No I idea how I’d get back up if that cliff turned to mud. 

What can I say, it’s how I cope and keep from killing people (kidding..sorta).

Anyway, for those of you wondering I’m back in Tahoe! The welcome back was a wake up call.

from this to …………………………………to this

So I will be posting about Fiji soon….but first I have to find my coat!

Road Trip part 1

Recently I did a 5000ish mile cross cross road trip. Nothing was really planned except getting home for Mothers Day to see my mom in Michigan. I left Tahoe and headed south. What, out of the way, nope. Had a quick stop and Mammoth to hit the slopes. Plus, I needed to stop in to San Diego re connect with some friends and grab some summer gear from my storage unit. It was great having brunch with my peeps, Coleen and Mike host a kickin waffle brunch in their sweet yard! Thanks Kassy for girl chat, a place to crash and providing much needed kitty time!

After San Diego, fully loaded, Q (my suv’s name) and I headed out across the desert towards Las Vegas. I car camped most of the way, I had the back sleeping pad set up. I really like camping on BLM spots, if not I slip into a truck stop or quietly slide into a hotel parking lot. The route through Utah and Colorado is a really beautiful drive. Massive red stone formations in the Valley of Fire and Moab! I really need a specific trip to Utah and stop stealing moments on my way else where. Found Vail pass closed for safety concerns so I slept in Avon. If I had been a week earlier I could have got some skiing in but most of the areas were already closed for the season.

There rest of the way to Michigan was a dark blur. I got news outside of Denver that my uncle had passed so getting home meant driving through the night. I’ll miss my uncle Frank he was quite the character loud and could always lift the mood when family got too serious. He never questioned my crazy life, just sent me side money through Western Union! Old school. Frank dude you will be missed…..see ya on the other side!

Sagebrush to Summit

received_3383116303139251What a difference a week makes! Last weekend I was granted one more relaxing weekend with friends in the desert. With my life about to transition I was a bit anxious about all that was ahead of me. It was a much needed time to unwind and laugh. Four wheeling can be a great way to unwind. Thanks guys for help with those snow chains and road trip tips!

                         ‘Merica

 

 

On Sunday I sorted and loaded the car. I’m pretty sure I over packed AND under-packed (is that even possible). But everything needed to fit in the SUV while leaving me room to car camp. Since I had a couple of days I broke the nine hour drive over a couple of days. Camping first in the Alabama Hills, it’s a beautiful area with lots of dispersed camping that I’ve visited before.

The next day I headed north in search of a hot spring. After rambling around a couple of dirt roads I landed at the Hilltop Hot Springs. I would have rambled further but to my surprise my service engine soon light came on and I was a bit nervous about straying to far from highway 395. So I found a lovely dispersed camping spot about half mile of 395 back in a forested area.

My friends messaged me about a storm coming in so I figured I better push on to Tahoe City. There was rain that turned to snow and then back to rain. It stopped near Carson City so I had a beautiful drive north around the lake.

Tahoe City is a quaint resort town just minutes from Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows  where I’ll be working. After a stop at HR I drove around til I found a good spot to stealth car camp. Not easy in a town with limited parking, but I found a spot. Went to sleep with a light rain falling…….woke to 7 inches of snow! Cleared the snow off with a towel (I neglected to replace my snow brush/scraper)! Welcome to the mountains!

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Home of the 1960’s Winter Olympics

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!

 

 

No Rain, No Pain, No Maine….

So there’s been pain and rain….guess who’s in Maine!! Man, New Hampshire did not ease up. I survived the White Mtns and the Presidential range, but my shoes did not. I got to the town of Gorham, stayed the night to rest but rolled ankle and get new shoes. I bush whacked my way up to the AT and ran into some old buddies!

 

My hiker bubble now also includes Nemo, Coco, Rainbow and Sketch. Good group, we hike are own pace ending up at the same shelter. Hard to believe I’m in Maine, the days are flying by…two days ago I went through Mahoosac Notch (one of the hardest and most fun sections of the AT). It was certainly fun. It was not hiking…It was straight up rock/boulder scrambling. Now the Mahoosac Arm after it was a grueling climb up 1500 ft in under a mile.

 


That was tough I was so happy to get to the shelter and SIT DOWN. It was a good day. With a storm coming we hiked out at 5am, but still got rained on as we summited. Nemo and I crossed the bald with ponchos whipping in the wind and rain. Then with the help of ropes & ladders decended. With our new found speed we covered 9 miles and got to the shuttle stop 3 hours early!!

 

Luckily ‘Sherpa’ stopped, on his way home from fishing, and offered us a ride (and beer). Staying at the Human Nature Hostel, it’s a cool wooden geodesic dome with a huge hot shower and WIFI!! I’m easy to please. Plus the owner has been on Naked and Afraid like multiple times!

 

It’s weird I’m not tired but my knees and feet hurt. When I get tired I think of this young lady I met on trail. She works at the Carter Notch hut. Supplies have to be hiked in. She was carrying 2 turkeys, dry goods and a body pillow, uphill for 3.6 miles with this contraption. She was so cheery and happy when I met her at the top! It made me happy and I still had to climb!

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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!