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!

Reminiscing – Little River Band

 

April is derived from the Latin aperire meaning “to open”, for me that means two things: opening my memory book, reflecting and being open to what the future holds. Also it’s “trail-aversary” time!!

4/12/15 started hiking Pacific Crest Trail
4/15/16 started hiking Appalachian Trail
4/13/17 started hiking Continental Divide Trail

Let me tell you it feels so strange not to be heading out for a thru hike this week, it’s like I’m missing something. Just can’t shake that ‘isn’t there something I’m supposed to be doing’ feeling. Thinking back to my first day on the PCT I waved enthusiastically to my friend that drop me off at the southern terminus.  Trying to look brave and confident I turned and realized I didn’t know which way the trail actually was! Thus began months of me muttering some variation of “where is the trail?….is this the trail?…..why am I not on trail”?

Sometimes in regular life I am plagued by these questions still. Am I going in the right direction, is this the right life path? These are great questions to revisit on the regular. Otherwise you may find yourself wondering aimlessly, lost if you will. Heck I got ‘lost’ going to a friend’s house recently. I took the wrong exit. Trail lesson: check your map

Thru hike PCT California chardonnay
chardonnay PCT thru hike in N. California

People have asked which trail was my favorite. The Pacific Crest Trail, of course, it was my first and holds a special place in my tiny heart. The CDT was challenging, but fun and the AT was, well, the AT. But I hear the parts I’m going back for are awesome.  All three are amazingly different and offer their own challenges. Trail lesson: celebrate our differences

 

Since I got a month before I hit the trail I’ve been helping others get to the PCT terminus to start their journeys and picking up hitching hikers.  I found gratification in hearing their stories and lending encouragement. Trail lesson: be of service to others

Three years of long distance hiking reminds me the importance of appreciation, kindness, community, dreaming, good wine, and good shoes. Long distance hiking is hard…. but I’d do it all again! It’s good to reflect remembering where you started and how far you have come. But stay open to the future possibilities!

Speaking of anniversaries…… it’s the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act!  The PCT, CDT and AT are just 3 of the eleven National Scenic Trails. Get out there and find your trail! I see more trails in my future! Happy Trails!

Five More Minutes – Scotty McCreery

 

“Time rolls by the clock don’t stop, wish I had a few more drops
of the good stuff…”

Hiking Estes Park Colorado
Hiking Estes Park Colorado

You might have heard me say I started hiking 4 years ago (long distance anyway). Well I’m getting old and forgetful! This popped up on my Facebook memories (FB you don’t totally suck)! Look at me hiking Estes Park, when I was living in Colorado 10 years ago. Rockin actual hiking boots AND a camo backpack.  You’ve come a long way chardonnay!

That’s me a real OG (outdoorsy girl)! I’ve been “adventuring” for so long it’s become my normal. Normal or not, the memories coming in waves are special and remind me the clock doesn’t stop for anyone. Take in every moment in life or you’ll blink and it’ll all be over.

Nature Therapy: Why The Great Outdoors Is Great For Recovery

Feature Image: Courtesy Pixabay
This guest post was written by Michelle Petersen

In the 19th century, aristocrats and well-to-do members of the upper-middle class flocked to spa towns and health resorts across the western world. From Bath, England, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, the Great and the Good pursued wellness by going out into the countryside in search of fresh air, sunlight, flowing water and green space to combat the tyranny of disease. Research is proving them half right.

Spending time in nature boosts immune response, improves the symptoms of depression and lowers blood pressure and stress levels. For the millions of people struggling with addiction, access to a good therapy program that incorporates outdoor activities could make the difference between a successful recovery and relapse.

Green Exercise

Physical activity in the natural environment has been demonstrated to bring about improvements in both short and long-term health outcomes. Studies show that a simple walk in the woods helped patients with ADHD to improve their concentration after only 20 minutes. Just living in an area with abundant parks and woodland can have lasting positive effects on mental health. Japanese research indicates that people who exercise regularly in fresh air and natural green spaces actually extend their lifespan.

A Healing Environment

Researchers are investigating the ways in which our stress responses are mitigated by being in the outdoors. A Japanese team from Chiba University theorized that our bodies evolved to interpret information about plants and streams, not traffic and high-rise buildings, and that we are adapted to relax and heal in pleasant, natural surroundings.

Finland has gone so far as to implement a program of five hours a month of nature experience to help combat their population’s high rates of alcoholism, suicide and depression. South Korea has three official “healing forests” utilized as treatment therapies for maladies as varied as cancer, depression and addiction. They plan to advance the program by adding 34 more in the next two years.

Healthy Changes In Lifestyle

In the U.S., there is a growing demand for experiential therapies to assist patients with their recovery from substance abuse and addiction. Along with traditional approaches, such as counseling and behavioral and nutrition therapies, many hospitals and rehab centers are taking their patients out into nature, with great success. Patients are engaging in myriad physical activities such as rock climbing, kayaking and hiking. These programs focus on strengthening the body and mind with healthful exercise in enriching surroundings. Participants learn teamwork and cooperation while building trust and self-confidence.

Hiking in the woods offers the recovering addict a peaceful environment in which to distract themselves from their problems, while providing them a series of obtainable goals. The next hill, the next tree and the next rock — these are all achievable. As they learn new, natural skills, they improve their mindset and find a new sense of self-worth. In nature, they are able to focus on the task at hand and draw strength from their surroundings. They can clear their minds and renew their commitment to their improved state of health.

Time spent engaged in pleasurable activity outdoors amid the shade of trees and the music of flowing water, encourages our sense of wonder and promotes a feeling of joy. It helps us to connect with nature and improve our health and well-being.

For an addict in recovery, it can also ease the symptoms of withdrawal and foster healthy lifestyle changes and the acquisition of natural skills. As Calvin Coolidge once said, “There is new life in the soil for every man. There is healing in the trees for tired minds, and for our overburdened spirits… Remember that Nature is your great restorer.”

About the Author: Michelle Peterson believes the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride. Her mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it.

 

A Flower in the Desert -The Cult

 

If you’re looking for a nice hike, in the wild, with few people around, this is the one. Corte Madera Mountain in Cleveland National Forest, just east of San Diego. You will need a permit, but you can get a free permit emailed to you if you call the rangers station. Seeing as I was the only one on the trail, I had my choice of the couple of campsites at the summit!

The Trail is a 7.5 mile out and back trail near Morena Village. There are great views over
the Lake Morena area and the desert as you climb. At 4,657 feet, it is a continuous climb, so don’t forget to take plenty of water! Overall, great hike. The manzanitas that line the trail throughout the hike are cool, some were completely covered in the bright red bark.
There are signs noting the birds of prey nesting in the area, I wasn’t lucky enough to spot any. On the upside I also didn’t see the mountain lion that is rumored to be in the area, either.

Leaving late in the afternoon I made it to the top and set up camp just in time for the moonrise! My camp was just off trail surrounded by large granite boulders, I had dinner grazing at the twinkling city lights in the distance. It was a lovely, much needed, restful evening under a full moon. Initially I had intended on staying two nights, but quite a few hikers came through in the morning so I decided to bounce.  I hiked down and headed for Anza Borrego State Park! I really enjoy the desert. (side note my first bicycle was a yellow banana seat named the Desert Flower, foreshadowing?)  The desert is very calming to me, hot, but calm. So, yep from the mountains to the desert in an hour, Southern California! On the way to meet friends, I stopped off to stretch my legs at the Slot Canyons. It has been awhile since I’ve been there.

The Slot Canyon, just of highway 78, is a hidden gem of tall narrow channels, that at points you need to squeeze your body to fit around tight curves. The trail itself is pretty easy, with plenty of kids scrambling through. The trail is only about 2 miles with a “loop” that goes out into the open desert. Take plenty of fluids and a hat if you plan on exploring the open sections! Most people that I saw go on the hike (probably due to the heat) just went through the canyon and then turned around and went back.

IMG_20180401_073414_600.jpgSpent the rest of the weekend recharging, reconnecting, watching four-wheelers and dirt bikes whip across the dry lake bed. I woke early to have coffee, watch the sunrise and take in the cool quiet morning.

 

Heading back home in the late afternoon as I approach Scissors Crossing I spotted two hikers thumbing on the side of the road! Two thru hikers from Brisbane, Australia  looking to get a lift in Julian, I was happy to help and here how their journey was thus far. Being in this section of the PCT brings back a flood of memories. How little I knew, hitching for the first time and camping alone in the San Felipe Hills. It is my wish for the 2018 PCT class that they travel safely, show kindness to those that cross their path and remain open to the lessons of the trail!20180401_162241thru hikers happy to get to Julian…..and get some pie!

 

Something to Talk About – Bonnie Raitt

About 40 days out from starting my hike and I’m getting in trail mode. Making lists checking them twice. I don’t read blog obsessively like I did before the PCT anymore. However, I might checkout a hiking movie or two, listen to some podcasts. I really got into podcasts on the CDT, I like listening while I hike. My mind flows differently when I’m hiking, ideas come in waves, creativity is stirred. Listening to podcast reminds me of  times gone by when people would sit around the radio to listen to a show, you know like before tv. Listening while I hike, I can let my mind imagine the stories in vivid color, get wild ideas about my next adventure and learn some things.  Continue reading “Something to Talk About – Bonnie Raitt”

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.

Pictures Of You -The Cure

Why did I watch that?

The 2015 Pacific Crest Trail Class Video. Think I’ve watched it at least half a dozen times. It makes me happy and brings me to tears every freakin time. I might be biased but 2015 was the best year to thru hike the PCT, what a bunch of characters. Forever I’ll be grateful that it was my first long distance hiking experience. So many weird, crazy, amazing, painful, life changing, heart stopping things happened in that 4.5 months. Let me tell you, I’ve seen a lot of things from RAGBRAI to TTITD (and other stuffs be we’re not gonna get into that right now) but thru hiking, well, that’s living. I could go on and on (as some of you know) but why….there’s a video!

Oh you can see me at minute 1:29:42……representation yo!

https://vimeo.com/163526977

Just for playing along……..here’s bonus, never shown footage from my private collection.

 8/13/15- “The price is high. The reward is great.” – Maya Angelou

 

Girls in their summer clothes – Bruce Springsteen

As a long distance hiker spending 4-6 months on the trail at a time you get a little dirty. In an effort to be ultra-light (backpacking that emphasizes carrying the lightest and simplest gear safely possible for a given trip) most hikers only have one outfit for this entire time. This can leave a hiker looking pretty haggard and getting some side glances from people in town. But I’m here to tell you roaming around in the woods is no excuse to not look good. Even if you are just going out for a day hike looking good is an avenue to feeling good! It can even put a little pep in your step!

                                        runaway?        runway ready!     day hiking diva!?
Now I don’t always look pulled together, but I try. Last year for the CDT I had the cutest teal Brooks top and thrift store skirt and matching teal trail runners. Unfortunately that outfit was pilfered at the gym the day before I left for the trail so I ended up with a last minute Walmart dress/plaid top uncoordinated ensemble. It worked fine but for pictures I looked like a hot mess, not cute. Looking nice is important, well for me it is, don’t judge. This one time I went into a runners shoe store in search of trail shoes. The guy helping me knew all about shoes, arch supports and toe boxes. He brought out a plethora of shoes for me to try on, but when I asked him “do you have some in a cute pink or teal” he was stumped. He replied “color doesn’t matter”. Ha! Wrong answer I replied heading for the door. Seriously, I’ve painfully strutted around in 3 inch black suede heels, but I looked so good. Now I highly recommend you getting some comfortable (preferably broken in) footwear for the trail. That being said if you want a nice color don’t be afraid to seek that out.

Now a days there are a multitude of options in ladies outer wear. If you can’t find your look in the sporting goods store, outfitters, online or just don’t want to break the bank; I got two words for ya. Thrift Store. There’s probably a flowy dress or skirt in there just waiting for ya! Throw on some leggings and boom you’re ready to crush it. I found a nice butterfly dress, that coincidentally matched my Dirty Girl gaiters, for three bucks at a thrift shop. It’s my “town dress” for when my hiking clothes are in the laundry! Turns out it’s also great for pictures and works with my tutu. Tutu!?! Yess, I wear a tutu (that I have to carry for about 50 miles) at the end of my hikes. It’s fun, cute and makes me happy, kinda like my Cargo Tail. Wait, what? Yes it’s fun and people interact or speak to me on trail because of it. Hiking is about the challenge, feeling empowered, blah, blah, blah……and fun, don’t forget to pack your fun! Besides fashion forward hiker trash get quicker hitches, maybe.

                                            Nice tail. Thanks, I been crushing it!

She believed she could……again

The fact is not lost on me that I did not post a made it to the border post. For those of you who don’t know yet……I made it to Canada (and where you been?). I made it thru, yeah me! That last day is really hard to write about, though. There were so many conflicting feelings, happy but sad, tired yet elated. (that every present question where do I go from here?) Second guessing myself, should I hike faster or slower, enjoy the last miles or get them over with, eat gummy bears or skittles. With a light pack I really couldn’t help but hike fast, I was in the flow. Only stopping to get water and take off clothing as it got warmer. The climb up to the Ptarmigan Tunnel was actually pretty nice, full disclosure I was so hyped on caffeine. Roswell was just ahead of me, we made it to the trail-head, unceremoniously, about the same time. Glad he was there to capture the moment.

20170909_142106

That look you get when you realized you walked to Canada and there is no ticker tape parade…..

We then headed down to the actual border crossing to get our passports stamped and chat it up with border patrol. And of course take more pics. Due to fires we ended at the Chief Joseph Pass not the northern terminus at Waterton. Hey Canada is Canada, no?

20170909_143851
So yup I made it to Canada…..again! That night I lay in my tent, sipping Chardonnay feeling the feels. It was good. So attempted to thru hike the CDT….well, I hiked it, I survived it, learned from it and grew from it.

cute dress ✓, tutu ✓, carton of chardonnay ✓

Thank you so much for reading (and commenting) my stories of my thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail. Even more thanks to those that helped me get out there and along the way. Please continue to follow me on my other adventures as I continue to find my way through the vines!