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?

 

 

Magic- Olivia N. John

“You have to believe we are magic
Nothin’ can stand in our way.
You have to believe we are magic
Don’t let your aim ever stray
And if all your hopes survive
Your destiny will arrive”

So its day 3 or 4 in the 100 mile wilderness. Its hard to say really the days blurr together. Hike-Eat-Sleep (try not to trip and die) repeat. I get up with the sun grab my cold coffee/carnation breakfast drink, stuff everything in my pack and hike.
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After the short mile day due to rain/hail I was excited to get going. I knew once I climbed over the White Cap mountain I could pull some higher miles. The boys (Sparkle, Gloworm, Newt & Walkietalkie) flew by me on the climb. They are all thru hiking the entire trail. I have a new respect for anyone who does the whole AT in one hike. This trail can grind you down, it takes a lot to push through. Their encouragement as they passed fired up my motivation. (They pass me a lot!) It was an enjoyable 18 mile day, plus I snagged a sweet camp spot right near a beautiful river! I didn’t even care my batteries were all failing (headlamp, phone and back up charger) or that my water filter bag sprung a leak.

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Remember when I gave my food away to hiker running low? Well the trail does provide….the next day at the first road crossing a surprise! Fresh Grounds LeapFrog Cafe was all set up, I had a tasty cheeseburger hot off the grill!!

 

Thanks again FreshGround! The best trail magic is a surprise! With snacks in my pack and a burger in my belly I was ready to make a run for Kathadin!!

The Middle- Jimmy Eat World

“Hey / Don’t write yourself off yet / It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on”

So I’m mixing things up a bit. Headed into the 100 mile wilderness northbound. Then back to southbound the the rest, since my flight is out of Portland anyway. I’ve been a bit anxious, tired and emotional (pacemaker gave me her bacon this morning and i teared up, agh) Everyone’s pretty excited about finishing and the triple crown. My head/heart just isn’t there, yet. The end is near, almost.

Like the hills out here my emotions have been up and then down. I feel unsteady and unsure like the rocks under my feet. Even though there is predicted rainy weather ahead I’m good with being on trail and i hate hiking in the rain. Hoping these next will will be instrumental in sorting myself out.

Yesterday was stressful trying to find my box. After a frustrating call or two it was found, right where it was supposed to be. Thanks Kassy, now I have everything a girl could need for 100 miles in the woods!!

Great stay at Shaws hostel, amazing breakfast and they are very helpful. So onto the wilderness…..see ya on the flip side.

Lonely Together -Avicii

In the end we are our stories…..
We (Coco, Nemo and i) stayed 2 nights at the Human Nature Hostel (maybe it was the bacon wrapped scallops and beet salad dinner that convinced us, seriously so good. It also kept us out of the rain storm) If you happen to be in Roxbury, NH check it out. We slack packed( day’s worth of thru-hiking without a full pack) 10 miles the second day, then did laundry and showered again! Then a quick run to the store for food resupply.

Food resupply is getting tricky. My daytime appetite is still wonky. Towns are getting further from trail, so I need to carry/eat more food so I can keep hiking. Getting on trail by 6am I can feel myself shutting down about 3pm. Then it’s all I can do to stumble to camp to eat…..corn chips and cheese. I have a pack full of corn chips and cheese, also carnation instant breakfast..hmmm.
Tomorrow we hike 14 miles, then I will leave Coco and Nemo they are going into town. We’ve had a string good days hiking together, hate to see them go. They are both finishing off AT section hikes too! See you on the Camino!

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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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.

“Feeling Good” – Nina Simone

Life is not designed to make things easy for us, but present challenges that help us grow- Terry Laughlin

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photo cred?

I did a lot of growing 2017, thanks life! This year was an incredible journey for me, trekking up the Continental Divide, maintaining a social media presence, and deciding how best to share (or not share) my experiences with others. It was great hiking the CDT seriously, it challenged me and gave me new (trail/life)skills.  So grab a beverage and let’s reflect on the last year of hiking adventures and forward to the new year of possibilities.

Website and Social Media 
Wandering Chardonnay website and social media sites continue to grow by the numbers:
12,195 page views (1,066 followers)
169 Facebook Likes
578 Instagram followers
37 Twitter followers 
Thanks for checking it out. These numbers are not outstanding by comparison. But who should I compare with; I’m one of a kind! Like hiking growth takes time, patience and perseverance. I’m learning and putting myself out there more every day! I just hope my story continues to inspire people to get out on their own adventures. But navigating the www is like hiking off trail, you know where you want to go but can you get there, from here.  Not without some surprises and lessons.

I’m learning about self-hosting my own site, making trail videos and oh the hashtags (which will always be a pound sign to me, old school).

One lovely surprise for me was becoming a Hike Like A Woman Ambassador! If you haven’t yet checked out the HLAW website, what ya waiting for, hop to it! I’ve learned tons from these motivated ladies. There are some great podcasts (find mine here), tips, great articles and more.

Trail and Life Lessons
The trans-formative nature of thru hiking has always been a type of therapy for me. The trail is a metaphor for life and it reminded me of many lessons in 2017:

  • Just because someone comes into your life doesn’t mean they have to stay. Walking the trail and life with difficult people sucks. Don’t let other people tell you how to feel, act, or that something is impossible. Walk away, trust me on this. Be bold, show up as yourself.
  • Surround yourself with people who uplift you and believe in your crazy dreams. If someone is taking jabs at you (even tiny ones) those jabs only add up to knocking you down.
  •  Life changes aren’t easy, especially when evolving into the best version of you; it’s exciting and scary all at once. But with every challenge or struggle you grow stronger and more confident in your abilities.  However, it turns out my strength and change is uncomfortable for some, so I’ve had people closest to me disappear or just not show up, that hurts. 
  • But then there are other people that I barely know that have completely shown up, thank you.  See there are really kind people in the world (no matter what the news says) wanting to see you succeed. Go seek them out, find them, they are waiting for you…so am I.
  • Fear is part instinct, part learned, part taught. Fears are created by imagination, when you face them you realize that reality isn’t nearly as bad as your imagination. Like that grizzly bear I heard probably wasn’t nearly as big as I imagined, right?! Be courageous.
  • We need nature, whether or not we ever set foot in it. It’s where we come from, it’s our history (good and bad) and our future. We need to now it is there, a possible
    escape from the madness. My experience is proof that nature will and can be a refuge for all, no matter your skin color.
  • There is a whole lot of talk about POC (people of color) in the wilderness. Let’s stop blaming the lack of money or that we don’t see ourselves or fear of past atrocities. We ARE out there! The outdoor industry and past stories may not have included us,
    but a new chapter is being  written. Stop using the past as an excuse. Be the change, corny but true.
  • Solo hiking is great, but it is always great to get to camp and see a friendly face that is glad you made it. Or at least someone to laugh WITH you because you got lost or scared. I thru hiked the CDT with some top notch, bad ass, ridiculously funny people. Thank you for accepting the bare bones me. Cherish every moment, treasure every mile.
  • Experiences, get you some. Experiences become a part of our identity. We are an accumulation of everything we’ve seen, the things we’ve done and the places we’ve been. What’s your story gonna be this year?

Next Adventure and Opportunities 

So people have asked “so are you done hiking yet”? Answer: NOPE. It’s a big world out there with a lot of paths to walk, people to meet and lessons to learn. I am looking forward to more adventures and experiences in 2018….Like completing the Appalachian Trail, hiking the Arizona Trail, providing some PCT trail magic. Basically spreading black girl magic all over the place! Locally I’ll be doing some group hikes (with wine tasting!), some Get Out Doors presentations, redesigning this site, and some other things (I don’t want to jinx it). oh I’m excited, stay tuned!

Happy New Year and Happy Trails…………..

One week out…..

In one week I’ll head off to Lordsburg, New Mexico to start my CDT adventure. I’m not gonna lie I’m a bit anxious. I’ve got a bunch of little things to do….you know pack, unpack, repack….weigh pack for the bjillonth time. Seriously I can’t believe it’s just around the corner.

Last weekend I got to have a Bon Voyage Campout with a bunch of friends! It was great and chilly, we were up near Mt Laguna. But my friends know how to camp so we were all good. Most of us car camped, but there were some hard core tenters! There was smores, champagne, meats and cheeses, music….and hiking both day and night. Even a fire ranger stopped by to personally give us a permit and, of course, have some of our tasty grilled meats (on our not supposed to be there grill!). Thanks Pat for getting it all together!

like they hike
we going hiking!

I’m really gonna miss everyone. Everyone has been SO helpful and supportive. Now I better get back to packing, again.

 

High on a Mountain Top

Went for a great hike this weekend. San Gorgonio 11, 503 feet, the tallest mountain in Southern California. We took the Momyer route up 15 miles of, well up. We had 5 in our group and picked up 3 more all of us camping at the summit.

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The first part was steep and the younger crew tore out. Actually we all went at a pretty good clip through the first part, that would catch up to us later. It graded out nicely and the clouds and cool breezes made for great hiking.

The part that got me was the last haul. We had to carry out water about 6 miles to the summit. It was alot as we wouldn’t have water again until three miles down the next morning. Plus there seemed to be numerous false summits.

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I so glad we finally made it, and beat. And super happy I was wearing my brace no ankle issues. Now since I left a good portion of my camping gear back in Michigan, I was making due. Borrowed a huge 2 person tent from a friend, thing took up half my backpack. But once I set it up in one of the rock formation wind breaks I was balling mcmansion style! With no puffy jacket I just wore multiple shirts and my super kitty sweatshirt! It got down to 36, brr, but at least it wasn’t super windy as it can be up there.

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After enjoying some wine and cheese and catching the sunset I slipped into my sleeping bag. It’s a 20 degree bag so I was toasty in there. But I used a cheap replacement sleeping pad. Don’t do this. Not a good night sleep AT ALL. Luckily the view was amazing. Crawled out of my tent in the middle of the night and enjoyed the bright moon shining on San Jacinto an the city lights of Palm Springs and Hemet. It’s so eerily quiet up there after being in the city.

After a restless (thirsty) night, i woke and made a half cup (last of my water) coco and coffee. Forgot me oatmeal (not that I had water) so I ate two handfuls of peanut M&M’s. It was a 10 miles downhill so I saved my protein bar for later.

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We took the Vivian Lake route down. BTW I would recommend this route up its shorter and nicer. There were a ton of people coming up that morning. Chatted wit some nice guys out from Arizona at the water source. They had run into the same Ranger we had the day before. The Ranger was putting the fear in everyone about the fires.

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Anyways we made it down in pretty good time. Even after little sleep it was a good hike down. Even got in some trail dance party!!

So I’ve gotten 3 of the six pack of peaka done. San Jacinto, San Gorgonio and Mt San Antonio(Baldy). Just have Mt. Wilson, Cucamonga Peak and San Bernardino to go!