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!

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.

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.

Shakedown – The Score

This is the first time I have not been hiking a bunch before a thru hike. Now, I have been running (read: slow jogging) but still I think I’m in need of some serious hiking miles. Lately all my hikes have been under 10 miles, at a leisurely pace I might add. This weekend calls for a Shakedown Hike!! (shakedown hike is a hike that’s usually done to test your gear before a long hike.) My gear is mostly dialed in, it’s more like a shakedown for body (read: feet). Actually I do need to try out a hiking outfit I’m not totally sold on yet. Sorry to say the Walmart dress, from last year, did not make the cut this time around! Oh and I really want to try out my new…….wait for it….backpack!!! I’ve had the same backpack for the last three years, a ULA Circuit, it took a beating but got me through.

I toyed with the idea of going with a different pack, nope. See if ain’t broke don’t fix it. Your pack is an extension of you, the carrier of all the things. The ULA Circuit was recommended to me, so I got it and boom! Loved it. I’m not a gear nut, I just know what works and what I like. “Blue” as I called her was a great pack, we will roll again.

But for this next adventure I’m rolling with “Black Bird” (I got the black, it also comes in green, orange, red, and multi-camo!)

 

my new baby!!

 

ULA Circuit 

  • weight: 2 lbs 9 oz
  • S-curved style shoulder straps
  • adjustable hip belt (no rubbing)
  • the 2 zip pockets fit my phone, snacks, chap-stick, knife, stuff I need to easily get to
  • plenty of adjustable straps (because sometimes you need to readjust your load)
  • hand loops (love these when I’m not using trekking poles)
  • side pockets that snug fit a water bottle or expand for tent poles, hat, gummie bears!
  • One hydration pocket and one small pocket for valuables in the interior
  • roll down top and a bunch of external attachment points

It’s so clean and nice I hate to take it outside. Yeah, right. I think it’s gonna be a big mile weekend! I’ll let you know how it goes!! Happy Trails!

Living for the City -Stevie Wonder

In the perfect world I’d live in a small cabin in the woods where I could just walk out the door and go hiking. Alas, I live in the city. This can mean at times I have to jump in the car and head drive a trail-head. Not something I want to do or have the time for. That’s when I go for a city hike.  I consider myself lucky to live in San Diego, where there are canyon trails tucked in small pockets around the city, interestingly diverse neighborhoods, numerous parks and the urban forest that is Balboa Park.

Actually I used city hiking as part of my training for my first thru hike. I’d throw on my backpack hike down to the store, grab some groceries then hike a different route back to the house. Walking the city with a giant backpack, people may think your crazy or super outdoorsy. Either way your in good company.  Other option, grab a day pack or fanny pack even, find a local park on a map and head for it. Explore the wildness of the hood, the stunning views from a hillside, giant urban trees and surprise book nooks!

Hiking adventures are right out your backdoor, whether you live in the city or the mountains; the beach or the countryside. How many adventures have you passed in your car on the way to the trail-head, store, or work? Go on get out there, you can thank me later!

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.

So close but yet so far

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Laying in my tent stealth camping in East Glacier, Mt. I lose track of days on trail, didn’t  realize that it was Labor Day weekend. Hostel is booked and so are most hotels. Hiking straight through that last section (with no town stops) was tough. It’s a 140 mile section if you go straight through. I under estimated my food needs, had to start rationing.  (This was poor planning and me being lazy. But food is heavy, yo. Ha, you’d think this was my first thru hike. Certainly not the first time I ran out of food. Doh! Was doing some 27 to 30 mile days to get done. I wasn’t hungry but my energy levels were super low. Pretty much stumbling into camp (seriously, over ever tree root) eating a tortilla with peanut butter and passing out.


My legs are so scratched and tender from all the branches scratching, over growth, climbing over blown down trees and just tripping.


The route is beautiful taking us right by the wall and through the Bob Marshall wilderness. (The Chinese Wall is limestone averaging about 1,000 feet tall and stretches unbroken for miles. The rock face marks the Continental Divide through the Bob Marshall Wilderness) However, there a lot of fires, one we passed within 1/4 mile of the trail. The smoke limited the views and made the sun an eerie red. Many of the trails were closed, glad we made it through.
the wallThe Chinese wall

Our last day we hiked 29 miles to get to East Glacier. That was a super long day, but being that I was down to a bag of Skittles and a granola bar….well I was motivated. Made to town just in time to grab a burger before the restaurant closed!!

After stealth camping we headed to Brownies Hostel to grab our last packages. Unfortunately, the did NOT have them!! I was more than upset. I purposely had the packages sent early AND to the hostel to avoid the post office being closed upon arrival.

So frustrating, so close to Canada (like only 100 miles left) and this happens. I don’t want to (and can’t afford to) to sit here and wait. Mostly annoyed that the hostel is like, oh well.

On the upside, walking through town I run into a hiker I met on the PCT, then randomly in Portland, then ha here in Montana! Small world! They were in town for a wedding, gave us fresh fruit (Oh how I miss fruit,yum plums) and drinks! Made me feel better.
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Not sure, guess I may have to leave without packages. I’ll keep checking til we leave tomorrow. Packages have been known to just “show up”or “be found”. Fingers crossed.

PS:  Thanks Gary for the lift back to the trail! Oh and my shoes….yep duck tape!

Light Years

The trail both humbled and disappointed me when I had to bail off the snowy Colorado trail. But my safety was more important to me. Flipping north and then back south was an expense and logistical mess. But I will soon be in Montana/Idaho and headed for Canada!
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After 4 days on trail, escaping Colorado I finally got signal and with that the sad news that a dear friend (Mr. French) had passed. It’s times like that I just want to go home, or fall to pieces. But I can’t quit or stop I have to keep moving forward, thus is life.

But when things get tough angels step in. At the trailhead I met some folks on vacation from Georgia, Cooper and Jane. They not only offered a ride to town but took us to their rental home for lunch, showers and laundry. Cooper reminded me of my friend, witty/funny, lifting my spirits. Later they took us to dinner in town, lettings us camp on the lawn after chatting around a campfire. THEN…drove us up to catch our bus the next morning!


With all the craziness going on right now, know there are people out there like Cooper and Jane. People so kind and generous, to strangers just stumbling out of the woods.
I’ll be very busy when I get back home, paying forward all the kindness showed to me out here. I can’t wait.

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This next section is for you Mr. French! Thanks for the laughter and believing in me (even on the trail I didn’t finish). I’ll be rockin that AT buff, see ya on the other side.

And wherever you’ve gone
And where ever we might go
It don’t seem fair
Today just disappeared
Your lights reflected now
Reflected from a far
We were but stones
Your light made us stars- Eddie V.