Skirting the issue

Let me start by saying I’m not a big endorser of products. But I’m all about sharing with y’all something that is worth you checking out. Okay. That being said you probably know I am really thrift store kinda girl. I got both of my thru hiking skirts from thrift stores because I was looking for a particular type of skirt. You know, one that fits and was comfortable.

What am I getting at here? Ok well, long story long…..Purple Rain Adventure Skirts! I got my hands on one of these and boom game changer! Finally a hiking, biking, outdoorsy skirt that works. Um…it has pockets, need I say more. It fits those of us that have, you know hips. It’s fitted but not too snug. It’s really cute and versatile. I’ve worn mine to work and around town, it’s better than yoga pants.

Recently I tried out the action dress! It’s cute and comfy too! So go check them out (I’m talking to you Ragbrai ladies!) Oh and dudes too there’s a kilt version! Get you one….you can thank me later!

Road Trip part 2

Second leg of my super road trip I rolled out of Michigan and blew through Indiana and Illinois. That’s about where I hit I-80. I-80 westbound would take me all the way to Tahoe. I’ve driven this stretch of road Michigan to Colorado so many times now I truly think I could do it with my eyes closed! I lived in Iowa for about 20 years. I always look forward to going back. A lot of growing up, for me, happened there and many friends were made. As always I didn’t get to see every one I would have liked to. But I got to see some old friends and their adorable little guy!

Driving through the windmills of western Iowa my mind linged on the days I biked those rolling hills. Ah, the fly over states. After living in the densely populated west coast I longed for the open space of the Midwest and the comfort of a small town.

Since I was rolling north through Colorado I just had to stop at New Belgium Brewery (Ft. Collins). Have you been there!! Next time you’re in the area stop for the tour. The tour guides (and beer) make it real fun. I lost my wallet hurrying to catch the tour, the people who found it were trying to contact me before I finished the tour! Thank goodness. New Belgium…..Good People….Great Beer.

After lunch and a chilly stroll around Ft Collins (man it was 79 degrees when I left Iowa) I was westbound again. By the time I hit Wyoming it was sleeting.

Nothing but good things to say about Wyoming. In 2006 I hunted a buffalo there. Considered moving to Chugwater when they were giving away land and hiking the Basin was a joy. Oh and they have wild horses, what a sight to see! I had planned on camping/hiking a few days in WY. However the cold rain and digital highway signs warned of a storm coming. So on I went.

Next stop Salt Lake City……wait hold up Park City, I see you…got to come back to this cute town to ski. Spent the next miles plotting a winter ski resort road trip. How fun would that be! A quick stop to stretch my legs and check out Temple Square.

With reports of fresh snow falling in Tahoe I pushed on from Salt Lake City. It was a good choice…….got back just in time to get in one last powder day!! Not a bad end to a road trip.

Michigan Women

If you didn’t know….I’m from Flint, yes that one. You can’t go home again….that’s kinda true. When I grew up in Flint it was a different place. I lived in a Dick and Jane neighborhood there were homeroom moms, halloween was a community event, we played kickball in the street, we drank from the garden hose, everyone went to day-camp, mom knew everything and GM was the city anchor. Now GM is gone, the city seems smaller, I don’t know the neighbors, we lock the doors, my high school is closed and water comes in bottles.

Things have changed. But somethings haven’t…mom still knows everything, she still has the bests yard in the hood and at 85 she’s a force to be reckoned with! Going home always reminds me how lucky I am. My parents sacrificed a lot for me. They taught me I could do anything, ski, play violin, colorguard….whatever I came up with they were behind me, no matter what. Mom taught me to be a strong woman but not to forget those that paved the way. Thanks mom.

While I was in Michigan I went down to Livonia to hear Heather Anderson give a talk. I was super excited, I’ve wanted to meet her for a while now. She is badass hiker and super nice. Have you read her book,Thirst!?  It was so good. Took me like a month to read it. I had to keep stopping to process all the feels. Go check it out!

Michigan hiking girls!

Oh and Heather happens to be from……Michigan!! So in conclusion 1)Badass Women come from Michigan!! Boom! 2) Home is where the heart is…and mine is sprinkled all across the country.

CNOC Trekking Pole – Review

(Sorry this should’ve posted this weekend…technical difficulties)

So I got my hands on some new trekking poles! The CNOC Vertex Carbon Trekking poles, a serious step up from the last ones I got at Walmart. These poles are the z type trekking pole, but not fixed length. This tripped me up when I first got them. Luckily there is a video explaining how to put them together on their site! So there is a push button connector, when extended I really like this z type pole as they tend to be more compact. As someone who uses poles less than most, i.e. they spend a lot of time in my outer pack pocket, I like that the are not protruding out like antennas.

There is a foam handle then a foam grip just below that. There is a cork version which is great if you have sweaty hands. But if you are camping be sure to not to leave your poles out, critters like to chew on the sweaty salty cork.

So each pole come in at only 7.7 ounces, together that is less than a pound, if your counting! They do come with a spiffy carrying case, snow and mud baskets and rubber tips(for pavement or concrete). I’m always looking for inexpensive, quality gear that can do double duty. These are actually a great deal price wise….right now they are on sale!  I’ve already used them on few urban and local canyon hikes. Can’t wait to try them in the snow! (I’m so looking forward to this winter!) I’ll let you know how that goes!

Go ahead, go check them out! The holidays are coming, yo!

What a Feeling – Irene Cara

this is a long post……but worth it!

On the morning we were to climb Katahdin we were all pretty excited to get going. All packed up and ready to go by 6 am. There was a quick stop at the ranger station. You can borrow a day-pack or just leave some of your things there. This was pretty nice since there was really no need to haul everything up there and back. Now the climb is only about 5.2 miles, however this is the AT so yeah. All the fast kids took off as soon as we hit the trail, I fell back. It’s kinda like a race remember to go your own pace. Sparkle is from Boston and offered to give us a ride out of the park afterwards. The plan was to hike the Hunt Trail up then hike the Abol trail down to the campground. Everyone said the Abol trail was shorter, yea, later I would find out it’s also the steepest descent!

I was cool with hiking alone, it was time for me to process the fact that this was it the big finish. The trail started out just fine….then came the boulders.  Not surprised, it never gets easy the last day should be hard too, consistency. So I checked my map, only 2.3 miles to go! Yes I can do that. Pushing hard, I pulled my using the metal hand holds anchored in the rocks. Sweating, breathing hard and swatting those annoying bugs I leaned on a boulder. Now I’m not great with guessing distances but I felt I was really moving. So I checked the map, bad idea. 2.0 miles to go, WHAT!?! That .3 had felt like a mile. The steeper, exposed climb and alpine section were still ahead. oh no.

My mind took over….crap everyone is gonna summit and be down, what if they leave me? I know I can make it but when? Wait wasn’t there talk of rain, what if a storm rolls in? What if there is no Santa Claus? ahhhh. Just then I glanced a saw Glowworm climbing up behind me! “Hey chardonnay, you can do this.. congrats on that triple crown..he said passing me.”  Mentally when you’re not in a good-place on trail, it’s the other hikers you draw strength from, solo hiker or not.  With that I was moving, behind the boys (again), but moving. I’d see the others coming down as I still climbed, but their words of encouragement and a hurry up gave me wings!!

katahdin sign

My first glimpse of the sign, it stopped me in my tracks.

Like a highlight reel it all flashed through my mind. All that I had done to get there, all that I had given up, been through, suffered through, the highs and the lows. I’d do it all again…well most of it. Now let me get a picture and get off this mountain!

My elation was short lived…on the way down I stumbled, ok fell, cut up my hand. There was blood, I would live. But it did not help with the steep climb down. At the bottom everyone was waiting…..and there was cold soda, chips, and sandwich’s!

So there I sat drinking warm Chardonnay, swatting bugs…..now what?

 

 

Thank you for the music -ABBA

Pretty much my last day in the 100 mile wilderness, it rained. For like 20 miles I hiked in the rain. I was not all that happy about it, mostly because it would rain then kinda stop, then start again. Wearing the Frogtogg poncho I snagged from a hiker box, I draped my other poncho over my pack. As if I wasn’t wet enough I tripped getting mud all over my skirt. That was also about the time when I realized I’d lost my bandanna all my friends had signed.

Needing a distraction I put on some tunes. Lauren Hill sang as the trail winded around lakes (heck it might have been the same lake). Maine is like Minnesota great trails, lots of lakes and a gazillion bugs! Next up Christina Aguilera’s Dirty, rain or not you just gotta dance to that! So I did, right thru the puddles straight to the shelter. I immediately set up my tent (in the shelter) and climbed into my sleeping bag in a wet skirt and top. I knew my body heat would dry them over night, the wet socks and pants were left out to fend for themselves.

There were a bunch if soggy southbounders at the shelter too. Strange listening them chat as they begin their thru hikes while my hike comes to an end. There was so much I didn’t know when I started my first thru hike. Maybe its better that way. Too much prep and info spoils the surprise. Embrace the suck and be open to fact there is more to learn.

Me & Hummingbird!   Rain drove us into the shelter but didn’t dampen our fun!

The next morning I pulled on wet socks and started the process of getting to Katahdin, and it is a process. Step1 hike 3 miles to the camp store for an all you can eat breakfast. Step2 discuss with hikers how many hikers are going to be at campsite and how many are actually allowed; even though no one knows for sure either number. Step3 get so full you forget to buy dinner, snacks or summit food. Doh! Step4 Enjoy a beautiful sunny 10 mile hike to the hiker reserved campsite. Step5 sign up with ranger to climb Katahdin… So glad to spend my last night in the woods with a cool bunch of hikers because tomorrow is summit day! Even Hummingbird was there, I hadn’t seen her since Vermont!

20180629_080331Mt Katahdin!!

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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Up & Up – Coldplay

I’ve been meaning to post, but well things change by the minute out here. So here’s what’s up.

So Moosilauke was my biggest nightmare. It took me just as long getting up as it did coming down. It was tough. Slippery rocks and roots that reach up an grab. I tumbled and fell so many times I lost count. My knees and ankles really hurt, but I survived to climb again, immediately thereafter. I tried to make the shelter where everyone was headed  but no. So I hiked/camped alone for quite a while. It is really hard to just camp out here, you are like always on the side of a mountain and there’s lots of brush.

I’ve been trying to pick up the pace. Found myself a little bubble of cool people. They all have trail legs cuz they have been hiking since Georgia or Harper’s Ferry. I was concerned about the White/Presidential Mountains the climbs are tough for me but I was super happy to be above tree line! I was avoiding the huts as the work for stay is confusing.

The huts are nice but at $100 a night, woah. They allow thru hikers to work then stay in the dinning room but it makes for a tiring evening. I rather stealth camp or pay $5 at a camp site.

Mother nature was on my side and I was feeling good on the climb to Mt. Washington. I put my tunes on and danced my way up. It’s bike week here so there were tons of Harley clad bikers at the top. (Yes, you can drive up or take a cog train!)


I should have did less dancing because the downhill took a bit. Instead of making the campsite I only made it to the next hut! So guess who did work for stay? It wasn’t bad, I got chicken, rice, peas and dessert. Then I did some dishes. Some other hikers came in 5 of us stayed the night. They clarified I was near the end of the group, but a guy named Fresh Ground would be doing trail magic the next day.

My love of being above tree line ended the next morning. We climbed up and over Madison at 4000 feet with 50 mpg winds. That wind catching your pack while balancing on uneven rocks, ok, ok back in the trees.

When I hit Pinkcom Notch I was back in knee ankle pain territory, and none to excited about hiking up Wildcat on the other side. But a true trail angel was waiting to lift my spirits!

Fresh Ground has been moving along with this pack of hikers for awhile. He had real ground beef cheese burgers, cookies, fruit, pie, chips..I said just a tiny burger, he made a huge one and said ‘you need this’. I did. Thank you, Fresh Ground.

These are the days you hike through the crap for. People like Fresh Ground (he is all the way up here from N. Carolina) that go out of there way to make your journey better. I spent the afternoon chatting and eating with current/previous hikers. I should have hiked on (as there is rainy weather looming) but I just couldn’t go.

So…..I’m stealth camping tonight with some others at the tail of the group. Tomorrow I will tackle the Wildcat climb and as much of the 21 miles between here and Gorham as I possibly can before the rain.

Everyone knows I am going for my triple crown, I feel pressure to be faster or better. It’s pressure I admittedly put on myself. I know, hike your own hike right….

Roar – Katy Perry

Laying here in the hostel bed, everyone’s sleep but me. Can’t sleep, in the morning I will wish I had. Tomorrow we tackle Moosilauke and enter the White Mountains. I have no idea what challenges are ahead but I know they are out there.

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I try to sound confident and casual as I talk with other hikers. But my own concerns and fears I keep to myself. It’s been nice at the hostel meeting other hikers but it also makes me anxious. Hiking alone up till now I make my own pace, distance and choices. Now that I’ve met people I feel a pull to keep up, I feel slow.

Deep down I know the trail is about to school me. This next section will be physically, mentally and emotionally taxing, truth.

Become the Mountain Lion by refusing to hide in the cave of your own shyness or uncertainty. Roar with conviction roar with power and remember to roar with laughter for balance.

Thats what my cards read before I left. Really I pull the Mountain lion card! Couldn’t I have pulled the sloth or maybe a turtle. Fine (clears throat) I’m ready roar.

What I think I’m like roaring…

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Reality….

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I’m Not Ok (I Promise) -My Chemical Romance

I escaped the Hanover vortex. It can be so hard to leave the comforts of town. After dinner with friends, trail angel pampering, even a neighborhood birthday party, who wants to head back in the woods! I slack packed the 8 miles into Hanover with Liz, it was fun hiking and chatting with a West coast buddy. Liz was in Maryland when I first did the AT now she lives in New Hampshire. Thanks for everything Liz!


I dragged myself up to the Moose Mtn shelter and had it all to myself so I set my tent up inside. It rained the next morning so I was glad. The rain let up so I took off, made a run for the cabin at tge base of the fire tower. The last mile was a killer, so many slippery rocks. Got to the cabin at 8 pm.

I had high hopes of making it to the hostel the next day. That didn’t  happen got within 3 miles and crashed in a camp spot with another hiker, Gardener. After getting rained on and a climb I was happy to stop. I had been hoping for hot noodles but I only had flavored water (since i hadn’t planned on camping). Not matter how cold you are hot ramen and mashed potatoes with flavored water is NOT good. I forced it down.

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Mmm, cherry flavored dinner!

It was a quick hike into the hostel the next morning, it was super early but ran into my first southbounders!
It’s about to get real. Next up….Moosilauke and the White Mountains. Man, I should have trained more, these climbs are torture. Moosilauke is a rough 4,800 ft climb and treacherous. Yeah. With the current dreary wet, chilly weather I have some concerns. Picked up a fleece from the hiker box as there are rumors of snow on Mt. Washington, I hope not, geez.

They say you pack your fears and cold is mine. Soon enough I’ll be whining about the heat & humidity, oh AT why must you toy with me? No rain, no pain, no Maine.