The Samples – Could It Be Another Change

So I survived birthday month! Got a few more bumps and bruises but I made it. Managed to camp/hike every weekend except on my actual birthday. To say the least I did all the things. Camping in the Eastern Sierras (it was so beautiful with the fall colors and lakes) to camping at the La Jolla Indian reservation then camping in the Anza-Borrego Desert. The best part was doing it all with friends old and new.

Magical moments in nature is what keeps drawing me back out there. The winding creek under a star filled sky, climbing the same hill over and over, a light rain falling on my tent, avoiding poison oak as I scramble down a mountain while people in onesies laugh and dance the night away.  Disco camping! Ah, yes Youtopia, San Diego’s regional, it was the best year yet, magic on the mountain. While I was hiking the CDT I wrote this poem regarding the burner/thru hiking community, nature can really ignite your creativity.

Finding My Flame

I am only ordinary 
Not special in any way
Not even noticed
As I go on day to day

I went in search
Of something
But the dust made it hard to see
What was truly me

But the voices around me
Said what do you want to be
Confident humble strong
With that
I could not go wrong

From the desert city
To the woods I did flee
There I’d find what eluded me

The path was full of obstacles
Night dark as could be
Yet there was light from
The desert community

A flaming fire
Inspired encouraged
and restored my soul

From sunrise at a fence
To sunset on a mountain
I began to see
What I seek is
Inside of me


Now with the month of November kicking off I am reminded of all the things I planned to do but have not. So it is certainly time for me to reignite the flame. Time to start closing out this year and prep for the next.

Post trail dust off and reacclaimation

Well I’m back in San Diego. Physically I am anyways, my mind and heart are somewhere else.

So let’s see the Burn was way different for me this year. The weather was crazy, windy, dusty, cold (this has been the coldest summer on record for me, seriously), and the art was stirring, but there were SO many people. Going to the burn right after the trail might have been a bit over ambitious on my part, I admit. At least I had some down time in between and wasn’t just dropped directly into that or I may have lost it. Honestly it was a bit more intense than I thought it would be.

No sooner than I got to the playa I got in a tiff with a dear friend. We worked it out but I really internalize it and just wanted to hide out in my tent sanctuary, that did not exist. (note to self there is no such thing as a minimalist burn) It was very conflicting having so few things for months then being around all the excess on the playa. Also, even though self expression is stressed at the burn, I felt more ‘myself’ on trail. On the playa there is a need to ‘dress with flare’ that seemed like a mask to me. Nevertheless I got myself through it, left my Brooks Cascadia in the temple with a note that took forever to write with all the crying. Those were great shoes, letting them go was like closing a chapter I didn’t want to end. The random connections didn’t really happen this year. Reconnecting with new/old camp mates and distant friends was much more what I needed and enjoyed.

Now that I am back in SD the finality of it all has hit pretty hard. Trail life was, well simpler, everything now is overwhelmingly complicated. Agh. The weirdest things have been throwing me for a loop. It is hard i’m sure for people to understand the difficulties associated with coming off the trail. Like driving, I hate driving now, i just do. Why does everything have to be attached to an address? Why am I so broke but, I have so much stuff? Agh. All I really want to do is climb in my sleeping bag and hide. But I cannot, because I have “things” to do. That and it is like 100 degrees! (i am loving that part!)

Luckily I have friends who are allowing me to crash at their home while I “get it together”. Thanks Colleen and Mike. And yes, I am “getting it together” albeit slowly. First, I need to get a job or two even. Because………..wait for it…….I’m preparing for the Camino de Santiago!!!! A girl’s gotta have a dream!!!


End with a Burn

Well, Burning Man 2014 is in the books! Although I am still process all the events, experiences and lessons I am moving through the change on to my next adventure. As my friend said last night it hard to come away from a burn without changes. This year my changes are smaller but I feel a deeper meaning.

I spoke many times at the burn (to anyone who would listen) about my upcoming PCT adventure. The similarities between the two experiences are staggering.The sense of community, LNT, trail magic/playa magic, surrendering to the elements. Carrot’s recent post struck a cord:

The PCT is a place that we construct with our imaginations that has its own culture, value systems, traditions, vocabulary, cuisine (block of dry ramen covered in peanut butter, anyone?), beauty standards, and mythology. We come together, agree that this place exists, and then we all there, for a little while. 

At Burning Man we construct a city quite the same way, it’s extraordinarily indescribable, the planning, transport and building of all the things, together we build this magical place to live. But after a week it is gone, we burn the art and remove the rest, as though it never existed at all. It remains only in our collective hearts.

Initially I was wrote the burn off for next year, but now I am super determined to try and make it back in time. What an epic way to end my PCT adventure! The logistics and finances I have yet to figure out but if it is meant to be things will come together. Things tend to work out the way they are supposed to.


So the ‘real’ planning and training has begun. Down to about 7 months to get my crap together! Eeek! Time flies man. Seems like just yesterday that the class of 2014 was leaving kickoff. But in the last weeks many have completed their journey at the northern terminus. Ah, yes there is a feeling I long to have, but wait I’m getting ahead of myself, so much to do.


Along with all the gear, packing, training, and a gazillion spreadsheets I ‘ve been working on some inner stuff too.

Like figuring out what my philosophy/goals are for this thru-hike. Hike fast or just in enjoy the experience, are both possible? Do I want prove something to myself?  What’s the meaning to life? What are my plans after the trail. What do I really want from all this?

These questions whirl in my head at night, no real answers yet…..but stay tuned I may have a lead on the meaning to life one!

tentative schedule

Time to Burn

Hey there readers…..crickets…..i know it’s been a bit but I’ve been busy and my internet is sketchy. So while I have been training more in the gym my hiking miles have declined. Did my training hike over the Poway mountain about two weeks ago and did a long stroll with my hiking buddy last weekend, but that about it. Been working out in the gym 3-4 times a week, sometimes twice a day. The weight hasn’t fallen off the way I had hoped, but then I eat crap. (must-eat-better) I can feel my muscles getting firmer and stronger, I can run longer and faster, best of all I feel good.

I’ve had to put most of my PCT training on temporary hold because…….agh!…the man burns in 17 days!!!! Headed to the burn in one week! I am so not ready, not even packed kinda.

Feeling weird about the burn this year, excited then not excited, unfortunately the not excited periods are longer than the excited ones. Oh well ten days to get my head in the game and my sh** together. There are so many things to be excited about this year. First time I am driving myself, ohh, road trip with as many stops as I want! Ranger training, fingers crossed that goes off without a hitch. I have so many friends coming this year that are first time burners! Just got the camp layout and I am tucked back in a nice little corner with some fun people. (agh , they better not change it).

I had written the burn off completely for next year…..however….as I see people on the trail this year are finishing up pretty early (ie before September).. I know that it is a wild fantastical dream but what an epic way to cap off a PCT hike but with the man burn!! A girl can dream……

Really , really?

So I dubbed last weekend bad ‘decision weekend’. The decisions weren’t even that bad (I’ve made worse) but they certainly rather ridiculous. Sometimes I just get overly excited and don’t think things through, you know logically. So here’s what happened….

It was Memorial Day weekend and I really wanted to do something since my trip to the desert was out. Decided that I needed to do some hiking and Mt Baldy had been on my mind for a while. Out of the blue I stumble upon MissyKat having an extra ticket to Myth Masque in LA, something else I had wanted to do. Of course I decided I could do both, bad idea. A friend told me so but I was all whatever. Bad ideas are built on not listening. 

Now Myth Masque is not just any masquerade ball in LA, people go all out with costumes. I, of course did not have a thing to wear. After totally stressing, I ended up buying a corset that was way out of my budget, bad idea. 

Friday night a friend had a housewarming party that I ended up staying way too late at, bad idea. But I was having such a good time, I have great friends, you would have stayed too. So staying out late Friday meant a Saturday morning rush to finish my costume and pack the car. 
Did I mention I hate driving to or around LA. Agh. The traffic is mad crazy and there are just people EVERYWHERE. Plus there is nowhere to park. The stress of me driving and a valet parking situation led the me rewarding myself later that night with……drinks!!! Bad idea.


But again you would have too. It was a festive atmosphere, the venue was spectacular, the costuming was top notch, the company was good, so …..I got my party on. Bad idea. 

After about 4 hours of sleep I dragged myself up (makeup still on from the night before) and started what was supposed to be a simple one and half hour trek to Mt Baldy. I was meeting Liz and Mark at 8. I had planned on grabbing some food/drinks for the hike on the way……that did not happen. Why… my sleepy has I totally took a wrong turn and got lost (sorta) at least went way outta of the way. Didn’t get to the mountain until 9:30 (sorry Mark and Liz).

So in my frazzled state I grabbed my day pack, 2 bananas from the backseat, and Gatorade. And I was off….in the clothes I has slept in! In my mind I thought we could ride the chair lift up and cut off 4 miles, it wasn’t running. (actually it was but my lack of planning I did not realize it didn’t start til 10) So we just set off for the shortest route to the top, seemed like a good idea, but we missed the turn off for that short route, doh! (side note: there is a true lack of signage on this trail, it is a true guessing game which direction to go.)

Now Liz and Mark are in great shape and good hikers so they were ready to take that mountain. I was pleading with my legs not to revolt. That was the weird thing about the whole hike, I was feeling good from the waist up. From the waist down my legs felt like lead, every step not painful, just hard. I managed to drag myself to the lodge after a gazillion breaks.  Then the death march began, for me anyway!  (let it be know if it hadn’t of been for Mark & and Liz I would have turned back, heck I might not have gotten out the car! They are fun to hike with and put up with all my whining.) We went up this stretch of rocks that was steep and seemed to never end. I kept telling the others to go ahead as I was basically pausing every third step.

I finally made it to the top (well that top anyway). From here it leveled out a bit as you cross Devils Backbone. I must say even in my exhausted state, WoW what a view!! You can see clear down to the desert floor and the cool breeze rushing across the peak was refreshing. We rested here before starting across the tiny trail that led to the summit. There were plenty of people coming down from the summit (they obviously did not miss the mystery turn off).


The thing about hiking is you get plenty of time to think. The one thing on my mind that last sections was ‘holy carp next year I’ll be doing this with 25 pounds on my back, dear goodness’. The other thing about hiking is the distance between utter misery and euphoria is very short. As I trudged along I reflected on all the bad decisions I had made recently made and came to two conclusions, I can’t change them and don’t have to make anymore.

A term used frequently on the PCT is HYOY (hike your own hike). When we turn that last corner and I saw that 700′ vertical climb to the summit was when I stopped. Hiking my own hike meant letting the others go on and my turning back. Sure I could have limped up there just to say I did, but that most likely would have meant me being rescued or spending the night on the summit.


Long story short (after all that lol) I went back down, Mark and Liz made it to the summit then we all took the chair lift back to the parking lot!

All in all it lessons were learned and memories were made. I’ll go back and bag that summit, everything in it’s time!

 Quitting something is hard. But it’s also valuable. ~Anish

Adventures..,similar but different

Lately I’ve been ruminating over all the similarities of the adventures I undertake. Mainly Ragbrai, Burning Man and the PCT. They are all quite similar but different, but things I gravitate to all the same.

Check the links to see what these are all about, because I could go on for days about them all. Basically Ragbrai is a weeklong bike ride across Iowa, Burning Man is well TTITD, and PCT a long distance thru hike (for me anyways).


In each of these experiences you really want to pack ALL THE THINGS, you convince yourself you need ALL THE THINGS (you really don’t). THING is you have to transport the things. You pack them on your bike, in vehicle or on your back. I’ve seen bikes weighted with more than 60 pounds of ‘gear’ on Ragbrai, but your rolling so….hills are a b***h thou. On the PCT, for your own enjoyment you will want a whole lot less, a shakedown will take care of that. Burning Man well heck if it won’t all fit in or on top of your car you upgrade to a Uhaul!



There is a level of physical and mental preparedness that is necessary for each of these endeavors. If you choose to go unprepared, which some do, you will wise up quickly pay dearly. Each one of these contain a level of danger involved that could, well, result in death. But hey, nothing like a little death and danger to make things exciting.


On both Ragbrai and the PCT there are a lot of people willing to help you out. On Ragbrai they are called Iowans; on the PCT they are called Trail Angels. I’ve heard tales of how generous trail angels are; I have experienced the generosity of Iowans. These are people who when a bunch strangers on bikes roll into town they open there hearts and homes. Iowans will let you stay in their house/camp on their front lawn, do your laundry, drive you the next town, fill you with adult beverages, then grill you dinner! One time we camped in the town square of a very small town, in the morning some local ladies brought out the best the best egg casserole and oj for breakfast, just because. At Burning man this comes in many forms, people helping put up your camp, gifting food, presents, hugs, rides, even a shoulder to lean on.


Then there is the time. Ragbrai runs a 7 days (+3 if you bag out from Des Moines), Burning Man runs a week also (unless you have early entry or stay late then it could be 10-14 days). The PCT 4-5 months, time commitment indeed. So if you a looking a adventure, I highly recommend checking your vacation time then heading out to any of these. Why not? You never know what dangerously amazing experience you might have!