Portland – The Replacements

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Sitting here writing by a fire with a view of the stunning Oregon coast. What an honor to be included in this weekend writing retreat. A group of women writers, bloggers, pod-casters and trailblazers. Sharing our hopes, dreams, passions and some ridiculously tasty healthy food and lots of snacks!

Jenny and Rahawa picked me up from the airport we had a lovely drive out to the coast. This was only my second time in Portland but my first time going to the coast. The drive out is beautiful, foggy and rainy. The trip wouldn’t be complete without stop at the Tillamook cheese store! So much dairy, mmm. Jenny even took us down to Short Beach and to checkout the Cape Meares lighthouse.

 

 

We stayed at a lovely Airbnb in Oceaside. It was so great to meet the people behind the books, tweets, podcasts and emails. I was pretty stoked to meet Carrot Quinn, her blog was the jump off for me doing the PCT. If you are interested in hiking the
PCT check out her book Thru Hiking will Break Your Heart. Finally I caught up with Rahawa she’s a great writer that thru hiked the AT in 2016 when I did, but our paths never crossed. There was also Jenny of Unlikely Hikers, Nicole of Real Talk Radio, Lacy of
Liberation Barbell, Alley, Vanessa, and Kelly. I could go on and on about these women but I really think you should checkout their works and take it all in for yourself. Thank me later.

 

 

Now I know why people go away to write. There’s something to be said about removing yourself from the daily grind, a little nature time, waking with a clear mind to put words to paper sans distractions. Surrounding yourself with talented awesome people helps too! There was a lot of writing, eating, trail talk, life talk and getting to know each others quirky personalities. We even tackled a puzzle that was, I swear, missing pieces. Frolicking, yep there was beach frolicking!

Something magical happens when beautiful, strong, intelligent women come together.  Women laughing, dropping knowledge and supporting each other. Women carving their own paths, standing up for themselves and inspiring one another. Given the state of the world today a network of siStar support is crucial. Just because you carve your own path does not mean you have to go it alone.

Emerald City

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Hanging out in Seattle processing the last 5 months. Sometimes it’s like a blur, while some moments I remember with amazing clarity. I’m fortunate to have amazing friends here in Seattle that allow me to decompress in their beautiful spaces. (Yes, I was here also after the PCT)

Cerrie and Chad (missed ya, but Flapjack took me on a nice walk about!) have taken me in this time around. Cerrie you’re the best taking care of me, working and whipping out homemade dumplings, you rock! This was a last minute stop over, too bad. So many awesome people to see here. Some I just didnt get to see. But they too are in the midst of decompression and dusting off.

I did get to catch up with a dear friend from Iowa Sheri! Old friends are best they remind you how far you’ve come but that ya haven’t really changed. On trail I dreamed of a ‘nice’dinner (ya know with silverware) got to share that with my friend James. Thanks man your energy is contagious!
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Today I’ll hop a plane back to San Diego. Feels like I’ve been gone foreva!

Winter Wonderland

This past weekend I got to go play in the mountains…..snow covered mountains! Joining some friends from Minnesota we met up in Denver and headed out to Steamboat Springs! If you like to ski (or snowboard) and you haven’t been to Steamboat…..what are you waiting for. It’s been almost 10 years since my last trip there. Honestly I have only skied a handful of times since I moved to California. So to say the least I was a bit rusty. Luckily after a few warm up runs on Thursday Night Ski I was just fine!

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Did I mention the snow!? It snowed everyday we were there except one. This made for some great morning skiing and some visibility issues when it got windy. I went with three guys that ski well and often. So we hit it early and hard, there was minimal lollygagging in the lodge. Everything was super full anyway with Winter Wondergrass going on (and it was sold out). What’s Winter Wondergrass…..hmm…bluegrass bands and craft beer festival. I didn’t hear a single band but I did get a few drinks with the locals!

steamboat

We skied as a group in the mornings, that was fun. I chased the boys down black diamonds on fresh legs then broke off in the afternoon to ski longer runs. I really like the longer runs rather than repeatedly flying down the mountain to sit on a chair lift. Steamboat has great long runs, by the time you get to the base your feeling it!

The CDT comes pretty close to Steamboat, I’ll probably resupply there. I couldn’t help but wonder how much of that snow will still be there when I hike through!

 

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!!

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!

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