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!

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.

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!

Living for the City -Stevie Wonder

In the perfect world I’d live in a small cabin in the woods where I could just walk out the door and go hiking. Alas, I live in the city. This can mean at times I have to jump in the car and head drive a trail-head. Not something I want to do or have the time for. That’s when I go for a city hike.  I consider myself lucky to live in San Diego, where there are canyon trails tucked in small pockets around the city, interestingly diverse neighborhoods, numerous parks and the urban forest that is Balboa Park.

Actually I used city hiking as part of my training for my first thru hike. I’d throw on my backpack hike down to the store, grab some groceries then hike a different route back to the house. Walking the city with a giant backpack, people may think your crazy or super outdoorsy. Either way your in good company.  Other option, grab a day pack or fanny pack even, find a local park on a map and head for it. Explore the wildness of the hood, the stunning views from a hillside, giant urban trees and surprise book nooks!

Hiking adventures are right out your backdoor, whether you live in the city or the mountains; the beach or the countryside. How many adventures have you passed in your car on the way to the trail-head, store, or work? Go on get out there, you can thank me later!

The trail will provide…lessons

 

So we are out of the ‘flat’ part of Wyoming also known as the basin. It was just a teaser. For awhile there we were all….this is nice, flat and warmer weather. But nope, this is the CDT. First lesson when having a dance party on the CDT, apparently you should pay attention to the trail. I was dancing/singing my heart when I realized Kelsey was no where to be found. Checked my GPS and I was lost, (by lost mean off trail). I had to cross country it about .65 miles just to get back on trail. Then I high tailed, 2 miles to the next water source. She was there waiting, whew.

Second lesson ticks are no joke. They are freaking everywhere out here. Glad I have long pants, but I am consistently flicking them off. I about freaked when I found one in my tent!

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Third lesson, there is no hiding from the wind. We beat the rain to our campsite by the river. But the wind beat us ALL night! I really was unsure if my tent would survive the night the way it was bending and the rainfly whipping.
Survived the wind and made it to South Pass City aka the other windy city. To get here we hitched first to Lander. While walking down the street I hear someone call out ‘chardonnay’! It was Samson, we met on the PCT. He was with Sandy she stays in South Pass City. She gave a us lift around town then back to South Pass. She also kindly let us shower, laundry and sleep inside her cool cabin. With the winter storm rolling in she let us stay a 2nd night, fixed us dinner, and told us all about the Arizona Trail!

South Pass City is a national historic landmark a major feature on the Oregon Trail travelled by thousands in the mid 19 century. If you want to see some mining history this is the place.


People are so kind. We also met Hawkeye, he hiked the CDT in 2014-15, and is maintaining a water cache near South Pass City. He got down on my level for the picture (my feet hurt and standing was not an option).
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Next we head for Pinedale (possibly snow) oh and bears! We hear there has been some bear and wolf issues in the area, great. Embrace the Brutality…or go home I guess.

Grants, NM to the Cuba vortex

This trail section has been interesting to say the least. Leaving Grants we passed two correctional facilities, which I suppose explains  the no hitchhiking signs. One one the ladies from the women facility did wish us good luck our journey as we passed.
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We were treated to some great views and varying terrain sand, dirt trail, and hard sandstone. I’ve been trying to remember to take more pictures but they just don’t do it justice. It totally looks like West World. Man, if only I had a horse.


Now on the weather, seriously we had it ALL. Started out with warm days and wind. Then it got overcast and windy. Next there was rain, hail and wind. See a theme. Kelsey’s tent was blowing away, with her in it. I had staked down my tent, but this only created a mini sand storm in my tent. On the upside we camped right by a water cache, so no filtering and Pop tarts! Thanks trail angels! [A trail angel is a kind-hearted person who performs a good deed (for example, gives a ride into town or back to the trail) for a hiker.]

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When we got into Cuba, we ate McDonalds and got to our motel. We stayed at the Del Prado motel, much needed after a cold rainy day. Now the next day we got our supplies, packed up and were headed for the trail. We got as far as the Frontier motel, half a mile away!

Zero day in Cuba (A no-hiking day is sometimes referred to “taking a zero” or hiking no miles that day.) Why? Well, for one thing we are fast approaching the San Juan mountains, our first snowy section in about a week. I’m excited and concerned. At the next stop I pickup my ice axe, micro spikes and winter gear! It’s about to get real. Plus the next 12 miles we hike gradually uphill. We ended up going up to well over 10,000ft, so yea. Basically we are slowing the pace hoping for more snow melt. Outta here tomorrow…let the slow crawl begin.

Route 66 water kicks!

So I almost forgot about our water situation a while back. Things happen fast out here. So we were hiking through El Mapais conservation area, it was a day of snafu’s. 20170504_185700First I miscalculated what I thought would be a short cut. Then we hiked by multiple ponds, not getting water, because we had planned a 22 mile hike to a well. Camping at the well meant water that night and for the next day.

Unfortunately I did not read the comments on the water report that stated the well was dry! The next “possible” water was 20 miles away and we had none. So we hike another 2 miles to the freeway and caught a hitch to the nearest gas station….where we had Soda Pop, of course!! A nice guy bought us chips and cookies, he had thru hiked the Appalachian Trail!

We spent a bit too long there leaving just as it got dark with plans to stealth camp as we were still a ways from town. So we whipped out our headlamps and began night hiking Route 66. However New Mexico loves it’s fences so finding a spot was, well a challenge. Thought we found a spot under an overpass, but it was right by the rail lines…not safe. So we climbed what Kelsey called a ladder(it was actually a drainage screen). Back on the road we noticed rail security coming our way and hid behind some bushes! Once he was gone we climbed a fence finding a nice sandy spot to cowboy camp (Sleeping outside without an overhead shelter, such as a tent or tarp).


All in all it turned out to be a great spot. I slept great considering I’m not a fan of cowboy camping. Oh the joy of thru hiking….you just never know how your day will go, or where!

Rolling on…..

Well, Pie Town has great pie, but the sweetest thing there is the local residents! Anita at the Toaster House is the nicest lady.  Thanks for great place to rest and recharge. Jeremy  and Jennifer a local couple invited ALL 10 of us hikers over for a great stir fry dinner. Then the whipped out their guitars played and sang, they have skills. We were well taken care of. Jeremy  quote: “Now you all are out here on this trail to find yourselves, or whatever…..we are here to help you on your journey.” There are so many people who were very generous with their help out here it is beyond words.
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We finally escaped the Pie Town vortex, mmm pecan pie. Headed out towards a town called Grants. We took the alternate route which included a long dirt road walk but Western New Mexico’s gorgeous, rolling terrain, a lot of ranch land covered in ponderosa pine and juniper, with spectacular views of natural sandstone bluffs. There is also a lot of cows, cows we share shade and water with.

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Moooover, we want water too!

Fingers crossed my water filter still works. It may or may not have frozen with dip in temperatures. It’s questionable if they work after that. I do have iodine tablets as a back up. I have to get better with handling my water issues…..more on that later!

Have wine will hike

From time to time people ask me about the name chardonnay. I give people the side eye who ask if it’s my real name. No. It’s a nickname, cycling, playa and trail name. Typically I only use my given name at work. I started using the name back when I was cycling, I liked carrying Chardonnay on my bike for adult beverage stops. When I went to TTITD it just felt right to use chardonnay as my playa name. When I found out about trail names I was certain what mine would be. And yes it is chardonnay with a small c!

Did you know Chardonnay is the most diverse-and most planted-white wine grape in the world? Full bodied, bold, beautifully crafted and quite mature…..I identify with all those descriptors. See chardonnay is more than a nick/trail name, it’s my alter ego, a better version of me.

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Signing the register……Chardonnay and mashed potatoes!

When I hike I pack in (and out) Chardonnay in cartons. I’ve even had it shipped in a mail drop (thanks Leslie) to celebrate at the PCT northern terminus.  Bandit wines and Wine Cube (easy to find at Target) are great for hiking, they are lightweight and can be recycled. They also have Merlot (what up Brenda) and Cabernet Sauvignon which are great for day hiking and camping. But when I thru hike I tend towards Chardonnay. Pack up some cheese and Nut Thins crackers and boom, instant motivation to get to camp!

Even got to do some wine tasting on the Appalachian Trail (Delaware Water Gap). Checkout The Renegade Winery out of Stroudsburg, Pennslyvania great wine, good people

chardonnay everyday……happy trails!

 

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Chardonnay in Gatorade bottle…….Babybels and crackers, classy.

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.