Blue October – Into The Ocean

It has been a little over a month since I finished my thru hike. You would think after 3 long hikes I would be better at reintegration, but I’m not. Returning to
“regular’ life has not gotten easier. The me I am on trail is different from the me in regular life. The same but different, two sides of the same coin. I long to
be back on the trail because I love the person I am when I’m there. Stronger, more confident, inspired, independent, the stripped down basic beautiful me. If you
are wondering, yes I will be back on the trail. There are miles on the AT that stand between me and the Triple Crown and I want that, for me. If nothing else I’ve
learned not to let anything stand between me and my goals.

Being back in regular life means dealing with all the things. Adulting. There are so many things to do.

Had a lovely welcome back party with friends. (thanks everyone
who came and put up with my absence in the middle of it all!) Still so many people I would like to reconnect with. So much changed while I was away, births, deaths,
engagements, marriages, and situation rearranging. As I moved up the trail life moved on, I knew that it would. I’m catching up, processing and oh my gawd the politics.

My car needed to be repaired (darn little beasties chewed my wires). Posted one message and so many people offered help, thank you. (special thanks Nick for going
out of his way to repair my janky car and deal with my crazy that day, love you) I needed to find a place to live and work. I am deeply grateful to my friends for
taking me into their homes when I return. I’m finally getting some work but the commute makes me question my sanity.

TRAFFIC
Yeah…..back to work!!!

There are also the internet things to do. You might have noticed I have posted in a while. Some posts I only wrote half of and never finished, like my gear review.
Those awesome ladies over at HLAW (Hike Like a Woman) gave some great advice about blogging. That’s when I realized I really need to redo my blog too! Honestly it all
got a bit overwhelming for a bit. So when some friends invited to hike the Eastern Sierras with them I was like, “Yes, yes, and yes!!”

PSA: Prolonged contact with nature can promote positive mental health.

Four days in the Eastern Sierras, just what the doctor ordered. Short hikes to beautiful lakes, fall colors, laughter and marshmallows around a campfire.

Can’t think of a better way to kick of birthday month! Friends with birthdays (thanks Leslie including me in your celebration at the Hollywood Bowl, great time! All this time in California and I’m only just now seeing the Hollywood sign!)

Oh and MY BIRTHDAY! This being my 46th trip around the Sun, a time of reflection is in order. 20, heck 10 years ago I never would have imagined this is where I would
be in life. Even with all the craziness I love what my life has become. It’s not for everybody, but its mine.

elsyew

High Sierras

The Sierras have been beautiful with the snow capped mountains, rushing rivers, amazing views and challenging terrain. But I am ready to move on. This has been the toughest section yet. I’ve dealt with nutrition issues, exhaustion and now a sprained ankle. Yea that happened.

Last Friday 3 miles from camp we had to ford a river. The PCT is always throwing some obstacle in your way. Fording rivers is NOT something I like to do. So instead of wading through thigh deep water I tried to cross on a log. Bad idea. I slipped stepping onto it, and fell thank god not in the river. The pain was awful(I heard the crack) but I still had to cross and now I was scared. Yep and crying. (rushing water+ wet shoes +wet log=bad fall)

ankle sprain_preview

But hikers help each other and the guy crossing before me came back, took my pack across, then talked me across, holding my hand as I flung myself from the log to a rock then the other side. The hiking community is made up of some special people. Without his help I might still be there balling.

I limped on to camp hoping this was not a trip ending injury. Laying in my tent that night I decided it wouldn’t be. Heck we were 2 days into 7 day stretch, only one way out, I would have to hike 33 miles just to get to a road. ( being air lifted out just didn’t seem right for a sprain) A retired hiking doctor, Sweeper, taped my ankle.

So my plan was to limp/hike 10 slow miles a day, over Sonora Pass out to a road and hitch to town. Easy, well so it seemed. Except day 1, I took a wrong turn and limp/hiked 3 miles in the wrong direction! Suffice it to say I had a huge breakdown in the middle of nowhere and didn’t get very far that day. I managed day 2 without getting lost, figured out a way to limp/hike faster and made up some miles! Day 3 my confidence buoyed by the thoughts of being somewhere warm and off my ankle that night. I was making great progress stopping occasionally at snow fields to stuff snow in my sock!

Coming over the last snowy pass I knew I would make it! I could see the road from the summit! I could also see the trail winding off around ANOTHER mountain! No I thought, that’s so far. That’s when I made the oh so brilliant choice to-leave-trail, and make a bee line to the road. I could slide down the snow (glissading, way better than limping), cross the wooded field and be there in no time. So off I went. Bad Idea.

 PSA: Never leave the trail, especially if you are injured and nobody knows where you are!

After quickly sliding down the mountain I realized the error of my ways. The small wooded field was by no means small and there was a steep drop off between me and said field. DOH! With the sun dropping quickly I couldn’t bring myself to climb back up so I continued on. I found a way down but I would first have to cross a stream of rushing snow melt. Great! Remember that fear of stream crossing I mentioned. After some crying and beating myself up I forded that freezing stream wonky ankle and all. Bushwhacking the whole way I finally made it through that ‘small’ wooded field and up to the highway! After an hour of hitching I finally got a ride from a super nice dude into Bridgeport!
Headed to S Tahoe to rest my ankle then back on trail! I’m going to Canada…only 1004 miles to go…..

 

while you’re busy making plans

In life you make plans and before you know it they are blown to hell. Same on the trail. You want everything to halt while you regroup but it doesn’t so you just wing it. That’s life.

I’ve been winging it for a while now. Just hike, hike, hike when all else fails push the miles. That was working in the desert portion, pushing my body to get big miles. Got goals, got plans, got a schedule move, move….Not stopping to rest, recover or even enjoy the moment. Well life has away of slowing you down. The Sierras put the brakes on for me.

On the trail I have been saying always move forward not back. Even when we got dire warning’s about going over the passes. Dangerous, scary, whatever, can’t go back must move forward.

I pushed forward through the mountains faster than I should have. Through thigh deep snow. Then I did two passes (Pinchot & Mather) 20 miles in one day. (I was warned to slow it down, but nope) Well lesson learned. The next morning I was beyond exhausted with Muir pass ahead, and I just knew I didn’t have it in me to make it over. I HAD to get off trail, I was losing weight and weak. Happy Feet  (he was getting off due to some serious sun burn) and I hiked 22 miles over Bishop Pass then hitched into the town of Bishop.

Yep the Sierras were kicking my butt. The Sierras are like big monsters with snow on them. You fight them all the way up 10, 11, 12000 feet. The reward is breathtaking views, like living in a postcard. But then you must descend and try not to let it chew you up on the way down. I’ve conquered a couple of monsters but it was a tough fight.

So I am currently recouping in Bishop. Staying at Hostel California! Great place, highly recommend it! I need to rest and resupply for the next section. Rethinking my nutrition. I need to take in ALOT more calories. I’m down 20 pounds, that ain’t good and explains my exhaustion. So I’m off to go make very high calorie mac and cheese, pickup some protein powder and eat, eat, eat! Then back on the trail…..to enjoy the beauty of these monstrous mountains at a slower pace!

 

It just got real

I’ve been seriously deep in nature! At mile 790 and it’s been a trip getting here. Took my first zero(s) at mile 702 in Kennedy Meadows, no rest day in a hotel as there is not one anywhere near there, but I did camp in a teepee! (check our my instagram @elsyew, I haven’t figured out how to post pics here yet).

Anyway up until now we have just been hiking trying to stay hydrated. But once you hit Kennedy Meadows it’s like planning an expedition. People have ice axe’s, crampons extra clothes and a million plans. I got none of that. I’m just winging it, with my new shoes and insulated over sized gloves)! That’s how I ended up trudging through a snow storm 2 days out of Kennedy Meadows! Yeah…what weather report? But I survived and didn’t freeze to death, so far. Yeah me.(side note:low snow year does not mean no snow or warmer temps..just so you know)

My dreams of climbing Whitney were dashed as there was just waaay too much snow. When 2 guys with ice axes and crampon’s aren’t going I figured I’d better pass too. I’m crazy not stupid.

I’ve been hiking with Toasted Toad, he found me wondering around, kinda lost, just past the Kern River. Darn paper maps. So with Whitney out, on we went to Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT at 13,153 feet. The hike up was looong, snowy and cold. I have seen pictures but to see it with your own eyes CRAZY!!! At the approach a guy told us “don’t go, it’s too dangerous, it’s not worth risking your life”. But heck at that point it was either go over or hike back 16 miles, nope no going back.  I was crossing the pass with Toasted Toad (a retired special agent) so figured I was in good hands. So on we went! It was all good, sun shining and all, til we crossed over the pass, then it got real. And I thought that guy may have been right.

The north face of the mountain was all socked in! You couldn’t see the trail or 20 feet in front of you. I was seriously concerned, we were post holing, slipping, falling….it was beyond an adventure. But we made it, finally, thank the sweet baby Jesus. I have never been happier to see other tents. Then we got to camp and got snowed on overnight…3 inches! Yeah that happened.

forester after snow_preview

So right not I am at a hostel in Independence, CA with the others that survived the pass trying to regroup and figure out a plan to move forward……

Stay tuned….

Nero Zero breakdown

Made it to Kennedy Meadows, that is major. The gateway to the Sierras!  700 miles without a Zero! Financially that is great because I can’t afford all the the hotels and time in town. The last few miles into KM were long and winding, but I was pumped every time I got a glimpse of the Sierras! Walking up to the General Store (where I would camp, shower, eat, and worry) was great the hikers sitting on the patio cheer for you as you walk up, nice!

bear canister_preview                                                    bear canister- thanks for the loan

Staying 3 days in KM was not in the plans….but, first I needed to pick up my bear canister that I got through the loan program. You only need the canister mainly through the Sierras, so they loan it to you and you mail it back when done! Second,  I needed the rest and the opportunity to socialize with other hikers. Chatting with other hikers was good and bad, though. It was nice to know that other people struggled or disliked the same sections that I did. Sitting around the deck or the fire at night laughing and learning about everyone is a big part of this experience. However, the guys quickly picked up on my nervousness about the Sierras. They made a point in telling me all the scary hypothermia stories they could think of. This combined with the incoming storm, plus watching people pull rope, ice axes, gloves and well, winter gear from their packages sent me into a tizzy. Bring on the wine!!

Quickly realizing I might be unprepared for the mountains, moreover my finger less gloves might not cut it. Luckily, I was able to score a ride into town with another hiker and headed straight for the outfitters!

So headed into the Sierras, hopefully I won’t freeze to death. But I made it through the last snow storm. So send me lots of warm vibes!