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!
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
Made it to Canada…again
Time for wine and reflection!
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!
There was an Apocalyptic feel leaving camp for Many Glacier. Going to the Sun Rd was closed over night from fire. So it was weird crossing the road and there being zero traffic. Just the day before it was teaming with tourist headed for the falls. I am so coming back to Montana when it’s not on fire. First thing the permit was changed (Waterton was evacuated) so Chief Mountain it is! The rangers are keeping tabs on where hikers are in case conditions change, that’s nice to know.
Bears oh my!
Luckily, Garbelly told us about the Ptarmagin Tunnel trail it runs 20 miles, through a tunnel then right out at Chief Mountain at the border.
Another round of boys showed up that evening. Hikers are stacking up with the closures and rerouting. Moist, Roswell, Quicksilver and Mac (always fun to meet a blogger in person. We sat around laughing, chatting and eating.
I was excited and sad only one more day on trail. Had fun walking about the campsite talking to other campers, checking out their car camping rigs. A car camping road trip may be in my future!
Toasted Toad helped with us slack packing! That was fun for me, even the climb to the tunnel, then it was downhill (except for the last 3 miles uphill, really). Embracing the Brutality, yep…….almost there…..
Well the first day into Glacier was great. What a beautiful area. There was only 11 miles to Two Medicine where we’d get our backcountry permits. About 2 miles out I ran into some goats on the trail!
Unfortunately at the ranger station we found out many other hikers beat us to the punch. Most campsites were full so our next day would have to be 26 miles, a long day, then 14 miles the next day. The other news was that the border at Waterton was possibly closed due to fires. We might not make it to the monument. The detour would put us at Chief Mountain…nooo (well ok, im being dramatic). Basically we’d have to wait til we got to Many Glacier for updated fire information.
Luckily Toasted Toad met us and had a campsite already at Two Medicine. He also brought drinks and dinner! Other hikers came in and enjoyed hot dogs, chardonnay and jack daniels shots!
Thanks to ME for grabbing my buff I dropped on trail! So glad I got to see Garbelly, ME, and Thor we were all on the same shuttle to the border the very first day….later sharing shade in the desert! There’s not a lot of people out here but the ones that are are pretty awesome.
Well you really haven’t lived til you have slept on the floor at a truck stop. Yep that happened. The bus left at 5am and stealth camping was not an option with all the truckers and mosquitoes. Greyhound, man, I have no words. Seriously this girl on the bus (who had already been told to stop singing by the bus driver. His words: “this is not American Idol”, too funny) got kicked off the bus for shoplifting, for real.
Had a layover in Salt Lake City (why are people fascinated with the SLC convention center? ) Spent the 6 hour layover laying in the grass, looking real homeless, watching tourist take pictures of the convention center. Back at the bus station I did a happy dance when I found out the rest of our trip would be on this comfortable sprinter van!!!!
Finally arrived in Butte, Montana at 3:15 am, walked 1.7 miles to my motel. What? It’s to early to check in, shocked. Oh well luckily there was an empty couch in the lobby where I took a little nap. I don’t think they really liked that, but hey I got in my room by 10 am! I was in need of some real rest. The next day back on trail headed for Canada…..or so I thought.
To get back on trail where I had gotten off (Idaho not Montana, aka Montanaho) a few hitches were necessary. Seemed simple enough, wrong.
4 hitches and 6 hours later, found myself in nowhere, Montana! By nowhere I mean nowhere near the trail. DOH!! Finally gave up getting to the trailhead and took first ride I could get into town. See the trail goes right through the town of Anaconda, way north of where I wanted to be. So guess who’s southboundING, this girl! Then I am so headed to Canada.
Oh many thanks to the Adventure Camp Anaconda trail society for providing that sweet shed for hikers to crash in, in Anaconda!
Got to catch the eclipse from the Idaho/Montana border. Then had a great day seeing our hiker friends, on trail, we haven’t seen in a month or 500ish miles. They were all headed north while Kelsey and I were headed south!
There’s a sign in Rocky Mountain National Park with the saying “the mountains don’t care”. Yep they don’t. They are there to marvel at and for those, who dare, to climb. I am not a fan of climbing (hiking uphill), heck I didn’t even like biking uphill. So thank the sweet baby Jesus I am out of Colorado, but the mountains don’t care.
I was told I picked the wrong hobby to not like climbing. I don’t think so. At home I can hike over the mountain or around, hike the city or the desert. Going where I want/choose, at my speed. Out here I’m on the trail (when I’m not lost). Out here is not hobby hiking, it’s extreme hiking.
“Embrace the Brutality,” the unofficial motto of the CDT, isn’t just hype. On the CDT you face risks that are rare on the other long-distance trails and challenging climbs. Thru hiking ain’t for everyone. But ‘hobby hiking’ is!! Get on the trail, or street (Urban hiking); make your own route. Find your own way, even if it’s around the mountain. That is all……now go!
I wake up chilly, no actually cold. Why is it so cold, in August? Stealth camped just outside of Grand Lake, what cute town, I’d live here. From my tent the lake is not visible through the fog it’s only .5 miles away. I don’t want to get out of my sleeping bag, but I have to potty so I’m up. It’s a later wake up than usual, headed into town for AYCE buffet, resupply, and make plans to get back up to Montana.
The last 4 days have been rough for me. Moral is low, energy is low but the climbs have been high. Guess I’m just trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel but I can’t with all the rain, hail and clouds! Really I’m not good at climbing, toss in crappy weather and I’m a mess.
Just south of Winter Park I got lost. After a huge climb I got to the peak and couldn’t find the trail down. It was covered in rock with like a bjillion cairns. The jagged rocks hurt my feet and I kept tripping, that’s when it started raining, great. I clumsily got myself down to some trees thinking I’d find the trail, nope. My crappy GPS would only show where I was but not any direction. I ended up climbing back uphill then following a forest service road to where the trail crossed it. So frustrating. I had shooting pain in my feet by the time I made it to camp.
It has become hard to enjoy the incredible sceanary when I am constantly just trying to out run the daily rain storm or not roll my ankle on a rock. It is beautiful, really, lakes surrounded by mountains and nice camp sites. I’d like to come back…..and car camp, sometime when I’m not racing to Canada.
We got dropped off by our ride at the Safeway grocery store. After wondering around aimlessly I finally got enough food, sorta. (I’m still having eating issues like on the PCT. I just don’t have a taste for anything while on trail. So basically I’m not getting enough calories and my energy is way low. But only like 800 ish miles to go, I’ll make it, eventually.)
Anyway, we got a ride back to the trail before we even got out of the parking lot. 20 minutes later we’re standing back near the trailhead looking at the looming gray sky. A check of the forecast..thunderstorms, agh. We decided to hitch BACK to Leadville, again!
Ended up getting a ride from two very nice guys. Staying in one of the motels seemed like a good inexpensive option. However, every motel we stopped at was full! There was a mountain bike race going on. That’s when one of the guys said “i have an apartment you girls can stay in, if you want, just lock up when you leave.” Hmmm, ok.
Turns out his friend lived in the main house and we got the entire downstairs apartment to ourselves! The friend came down with beer and regaled us with some interesting stories. Conveniently he had a friend that worked at the liquor store! We stayed for two days, I was glad not to be out in the rain. Kelsey wants to go back for the donkey races in a week! Ah, geez.
Escaping the Leadville vortex I am egar to finish these last miles out of Colorado. Not sure how I’m gonna get back to Idaho yet. But hey, things tend to work out as they should.