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.

Too Hot -Kool in the Gang

First I want to give a shout out to the couple from LA that gave me a lift into Bennington thanks for dropping me right where I needed to be! Also to Andrea who was not going my direction but went 30 mins out of her way to get me to town.

Now, after Bennington why did I have to go to town again so soon? Well this is the part of the hike where things start to go wrong. First my tent zipper decided to go south. Fine not really a big deal, it kinda zips so I can manage. But then sitting in my tent the next evening my sleeping pad decides it’s done. Really? Yes really. It just deflated. FML oh well, guess I’m trying to get to Hanover to find patches or a replacement. Thus is life on the trail…..

But wait there’s more, it was cold for like a minute…then it got hot and humid, really humid, then it rained. I got heat rash (I guess, never had it before & I’m not doctor) so I kept hiking, of course…it got worse. It was painful, I was walking funny but I got to Hanover an things turned around.

A trail angel took me to Lebanon to get a new pad then dropped me at Bill & Betsy’s house. I met their son Karl on the PCT ’15! Betsy and her husband live practically an the AT, hosting hundreds of hikers (I’m the first this year!) After a shower & laundry we chatted over the best thai salad I’ve ever had.

The trail is tough and at times painful. Hiking with a girl I just met ‘hummingbird’ (she’s from sun valley, id) we joked about why we even put ourselves through this. We didn’t come up with a clear answer.

What I do know is I’m touched by the generosity of people every time I’m out here. The simplest act of kindness can mean so much, rippling out to many others.

East coast, West coast, Mexico, Canada, black, white….we are all connected. Now what up with this weather?

Ain’t no mountain high enough – The Supremes

So, it was a rough start. The trip to the trail wore me out. Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts is high enough at 3,491′ the highest peak in the state. I decided to rehike it. (At the summit is where I got off trail last time) Why, not sure. Maybe I thought I needed a kick in the pants. Well I got it. I planned to get water at Bascom Lodge at the top….it was closed, doh! Two other southbound hikers were there looking for water also, so I wasn’t the only one that didn’t read the closed note in the guide.

 

 

They told me there was a spring ahead and plenty of water in Vermont. That could be good and not good. (Trail tip: if you see water…get it, do not wait) I had to drag myself 4 miles before I got water. Geez, you’d think this was my first gig.

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Veterans Memorial – Mt. Greylock

After rehydrating, setting up in a really nice camp site, I slept well. Even with the water mishap and a super climb it was a pretty good hike. I got to see my first bear, he was in hurry and took off, rude. Oh and I saw a porcupine got a fuzzy zoomed in photo, yeah I wasn’t getting any closer.

 

 


So I’m back on trail…and in Vermont (aka Vermud, very muddy my kicks are getting dirty) The AT and the Long trail run together for the next 100 or so miles! So I’ve run into a section hiker and some northbound thru hikers, I will probably never see them again they have trail legs. I’m moving at a snails pace but finding my groove. It is way warmer out here than I expected and those little bugs are out full force. At least they don’t bite but they are annoying AF.

Next up..The Green Mountains, hmmm more climbing. Sweet baby Jesus give me strength!

Thank you for being a friend -Andrew Gold

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People often ask how am I able to take time off and hike the trail for month(s). Well I say, I work hard and a lot. However, there’s another bigger part of the equation. People. By people I mean family, friends, coworkers, and strangers. My family doesn’t completely understand what I do and my mom wishes I didn’t do it at all!! But like every other crazy adventure that I take off on they support me even when they are not sure how.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again, I have the BEST friends. They have shown up every freakin time, financially and emotionally. Whatever I needed and things I didn’t know I needed. When I needed extra work friends hired me, when I needed a place to live pre/during/post trail they took me into their homes, they gifted me gear and threw going away parties and camp outs. They sent packages, watched/repaired my car and took phone calls from the trail keeping me up on goings on at home.

Because I work for months at a time I work with a staffing agency (Ultimate Staffing). Vicki has been on it for the last three years, finding me great long/short term positions with great companies. My current assignment is with a auto dealership and it’s been a great job with fun people. Super happy that they want me back, they celebrated my departure with tasty food (carbs and meatballs!!) and gifts!

 

Thanks Apothekayla for the healing salve!

Then there are the strangers, aka friends I haven’t met yet. People who follow my blog/Instagram, leave supportive comments, messages, jokes, tips and donations. This is so over whelming at times it brings me to (good)tears.

Gracias     Merci Beaucoup      Grazie     Danke sehr   Mahalo

I’m out there hiking the miles, adventuring, ‘living the dream’ but it wouldn’t happen without my awesome support crew! I never walk alone! So much love and kindness. Thank you all for ALL THE THINGS and being on this journey with me.

I love y’all………..yep you!

It’s Not Over – Daughtry

In 2016 I quit an attempted thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. I learned some lessons on that hike, like all trails are not the same and to thru hike you have to really want it. Quitting doesn’t necessarily mean failure though, it just means you’re done, for now. Checkout my fun chat with Lynn Marie of Quit Happens, we talk quitting the trail when the drive isn’t there…..and going back when it is!

 Quit Happens with Lynn Marie 

African American hiker Appalachian Trail
AT Conservancy

Stay tuned…..in 2 weeks I’m back on the Appalachian Trail…..Katahdin I’m coming for ya!!

 

Heavy Things -Phish

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Time to come clean……I am not ultralight. There I said it. Actually I started out kinda light on the PCT but over the years and other trails I caved to carrying more stuff. It wasn’t planned it just snuck up on me. Add this add that…ounces count and add up. When I first thru hiked the PCT I didn’t know really what I was doing nor did I know anyone who had taken on such an endeavor. So I googled it of course, depending on books, blogs, and online resources. There’s no shortage of people ready to share all about their gear and weight issues. Continue reading “Heavy Things -Phish”

Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

wa podcast

Chardonnay- Looking for a Triple Crown This Summer

 

If you haven’t heard I did a podcast interview with Rudy over at Cascade Hiker Podcast. We chatted about thru hiking, what inspires me, and going for the Triple Crown. Going for the Triple Crown (hiking the three major U.S. long-distance trails) is something I don’t really talk about much. Seriously go check it out. He has a great conversational style and besides me he has talked to some really interesting, motivating and knowledgeable outdoorsy people! Let me know what you think, my recorded voice sounds kinda dorky but I tend to be my harshest critic!

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!