Something to talk about

You know what’s great about a long hike or road trip? Time to catch up on those podcasts!! Might I recommend checking out my chat with Erin on the Hiking Thru podcast. We talk about the trail and how it’s spurred some of my current adventures and not getting locked into those pre-trail plans. Get out there, explore and go with the flow!

It’s Not Over – Daughtry

In 2016 I quit an attempted thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. I learned some lessons on that hike, like all trails are not the same and to thru hike you have to really want it. Quitting doesn’t necessarily mean failure though, it just means you’re done, for now. Checkout my fun chat with Lynn Marie of Quit Happens, we talk quitting the trail when the drive isn’t there…..and going back when it is!

 Quit Happens with Lynn Marie 

African American hiker Appalachian Trail
AT Conservancy

Stay tuned…..in 2 weeks I’m back on the Appalachian Trail…..Katahdin I’m coming for ya!!

 

Heavy Things -Phish

uljerk

Time to come clean……I am not ultralight. There I said it. Actually I started out kinda light on the PCT but over the years and other trails I caved to carrying more stuff. It wasn’t planned it just snuck up on me. Add this add that…ounces count and add up. When I first thru hiked the PCT I didn’t know really what I was doing nor did I know anyone who had taken on such an endeavor. So I googled it of course, depending on books, blogs, and online resources. There’s no shortage of people ready to share all about their gear and weight issues. Continue reading “Heavy Things -Phish”

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!

Girls in their summer clothes – Bruce Springsteen

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.

                                            Nice tail. Thanks, I been crushing it!

She believed she could……again

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.

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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?

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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.

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!

So 2 Canadians and a S. African walk into a hostel….

If my info is correct about 250 attempt to hike the CDT every year. Compare that to the over 2000 that take on the PCT and 3000 on the AT. Seeing, well anybody, on this trail is rare. In the last 5 days we have seen only one other hiker. Top that with the fact there is no signal (what up Verizon, just sayin). You are so on your own out here.

It really hit me on that 7 day stretch between towns (I’m using that term loosly). At one point we were 2 days walk from well, anything. Have you ever been that isolated?

I have to say I’m glad to have Kelsey to hike with. She’s a great hiker, done both the PCT (where we met) and the AT. She knows how to work the digital maps that I’m still figuring out. (I’ve always just used paper maps, old school).  We get on each others nerves at times, we are from vastly different worlds and all. But she has a good sense of humor. When things go bad out here (getting lost, running out of food/water, being wet for hours, freezing….) It helps big time to have someone to laugh through it with. Our common phrase is: this is gonna be funny later.

We made it to Pie Town, I think there maybe more Hikers here than towns people. But they are nice people, they have pie and a nice hostel called the Toaster House. Some of the Hikers even helped a neighbor with some yard work.


So the other hikers, right. There is Fun Size she’s from Alaska, Treeman showed up he went Trail Days(an annual thru hike CDT kickoff in Silver City) so we got ahead of him. He tells us there are a bunch of hikers about a week and half behind us. (Guess nobody is eager to face the San Juan snow) There is also Canadian brothers Ian and Liam hiking with Kate from S. Africa. So international…..The Trail Unites Us! Oh and Jordan who is road tripping his way to AT trail days. So the hostel is fullish.

We all decided to take a zero day (no trail miles) and just kick it at the hostel. The Canadians convinced us, hmm. The closest grocery store is 20 miles away. But yeah Jordan is taking us to get ‘supplies’. Looking forward to a rest day, cards (spoon tournament) and socializing.

Poked and scratched

There are a lot of things that poke and scratch you out here, and then there’s the bob wire fences! I’ve been over, under and around so many fences. But we made it 85 miles back to Lordsburg!

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Don’t fence me in…see that CDT sign…that’s the trail.

I got a pretty wicked tan, yea desert hiking! Seven of us left the border at the same time. Most of them flew by us. We kept running into a group of three 2 guys and a girl (ME, Thor, and Garbelly). We would all huddle under the very limited shade spots. Later I found out this was ME’s FIRST thru hike! Go girl!

Now Kelsey and I are sharing a room with Treeman, he’s from Germany and a joy to chat with. Getting showers, laundry and food for the next 3 day leg. Food resupply is easy, with all the heat I didn’t eat much. Kelsey on the other hand has found her Hiker hunger and is resupplying at McDonalds!

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Double cheeseburgers to pack out!

 

Leaving EARLY tomorrow morning, trying to beat the heat. Next stop Silver City! Only 2915 miles to go….

Happy Trails!

And they’re off….

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Leaving the border, southern terminus.

It’s now Day 2…..and we are thoroughly scratched up from playing “find the trail.” First day went great, even though it was plenty hot. I was only carrying 1.5 liters of water so I beat to the first water cache about 13 miles then camped about 2 miles after that. Water is heavy, yo. So, I like my Nemo air mattress, not love; only because I’m  concerned about popping it. It miss my Zlite I could just throw down anywhere. Got a good nights rest even with Border Patrol barreling by at about 1am, shining a spot light on my tent.

Kelsey and I started day 2 realizing were off trail. (Kelsey and I met on the PCT, hiked part of the AT together, so it only seemed right we start this challenge off together! ) We had to go through A LOT of brush to get back on trail that morning. I brushed by a cactus, ouch, they were in my shirt and my arm. Think I’ll live. Made it to the second water cache, met Youngblood, he is a young guy hiking alone, and did the PCT last year. We discussed the lack of shade and trail finding difficulties. I got 3.5 liters to get me 20 miles to the next water. I cameled up (drank 1 liter), so I should be fine.

 

Really, no not really.

Thru hiking is a magical and transformative experience indeed. But it ain’t all roses and butterflies as told here: 101 ways thru hiking the pacific crest trail will piss you off Here are my top ten picks from the list!

10- Backtracking. (Having to backtrack for any reason whatsoever, usually because you are lost or left your trekking poles,  is infuriating.)
         *This totally sucks and when people ask how many miles did I hike I feel like I should add in the “bonus” backtracking miles.
9-$100 hotel rooms that don’t allow hiker room sharing. (You can’t blame them, but ouch.)  *
Come on, I just want a shower & I promise not to wash my tent in the tub.
8-Being in a trail town longer than you want to for reasons beyond your control. (Like snow. Or sickness. Or the damn post office hours.)
*
I dream of getting town and all I will do (shower, eat, etc) I get there and can’t wait leave!
7-People thinking you’re homeless. (I mean, you are. But still.)
6- Hitchhiking. (Bears? No problem. Mountain lions? Not even a threat. Getting into the back of a truck with a couple of drunken maniacs with an “I’m Your Bitch” bumper sticker? Unnerving.)
*I’ve had my share of sketchy hitches. But hey they gave me smokey treats! oh the stories!
5-Obsessively thinking about anything. (“What am I doing with my life” and relationshit issues seem especially aggressive.) Realizing at noon that you’ve walked about 4 miles less than you thought you had. (that math thing)
*Obsessive thinking /math kicks into high gear immediately after my mp3 batteries die. Agh!
4-Getting skinnier than your hip belt can cinch.
*
When I was overweight I used to dream of my “ideal” weight. When I dropped to my “ideal” weight on the trail, it was a bit scary and not so ideal.
3-Missing something really cool happening in a loved one’s life. (Can’t you schedule your graduation/marriage/baby/art opening around my thru-hike please?)
Seriously let’s plan more things in the winter/off season, no?
2-Food portions. (The whole “serving size” designations are a fiasco of deceit. There is no way there are 4 servings in a box of mac and cheese. No way. And since when is a hamburger under half a pound?)
*me on trail: 4 portions, give me another      me at home: Omg I ate 4 portions!
1-Sunscreen, Deet, and daily handfuls of ibuprofen. (You know it can’t be good for you.)  *
With an iodine flavored cocktail wash it down! Do the vitamins I take, off set this?