What a Feeling – Irene Cara

this is a long post……but worth it!

On the morning we were to climb Katahdin we were all pretty excited to get going. All packed up and ready to go by 6 am. There was a quick stop at the ranger station. You can borrow a day-pack or just leave some of your things there. This was pretty nice since there was really no need to haul everything up there and back. Now the climb is only about 5.2 miles, however this is the AT so yeah. All the fast kids took off as soon as we hit the trail, I fell back. It’s kinda like a race remember to go your own pace. Sparkle is from Boston and offered to give us a ride out of the park afterwards. The plan was to hike the Hunt Trail up then hike the Abol trail down to the campground. Everyone said the Abol trail was shorter, yea, later I would find out it’s also the steepest descent!

I was cool with hiking alone, it was time for me to process the fact that this was it the big finish. The trail started out just fine….then came the boulders.  Not surprised, it never gets easy the last day should be hard too, consistency. So I checked my map, only 2.3 miles to go! Yes I can do that. Pushing hard, I pulled my using the metal hand holds anchored in the rocks. Sweating, breathing hard and swatting those annoying bugs I leaned on a boulder. Now I’m not great with guessing distances but I felt I was really moving. So I checked the map, bad idea. 2.0 miles to go, WHAT!?! That .3 had felt like a mile. The steeper, exposed climb and alpine section were still ahead. oh no.

My mind took over….crap everyone is gonna summit and be down, what if they leave me? I know I can make it but when? Wait wasn’t there talk of rain, what if a storm rolls in? What if there is no Santa Claus? ahhhh. Just then I glanced a saw Glowworm climbing up behind me! “Hey chardonnay, you can do this.. congrats on that triple crown..he said passing me.”  Mentally when you’re not in a good-place on trail, it’s the other hikers you draw strength from, solo hiker or not.  With that I was moving, behind the boys (again), but moving. I’d see the others coming down as I still climbed, but their words of encouragement and a hurry up gave me wings!!

katahdin sign

My first glimpse of the sign, it stopped me in my tracks.

Like a highlight reel it all flashed through my mind. All that I had done to get there, all that I had given up, been through, suffered through, the highs and the lows. I’d do it all again…well most of it. Now let me get a picture and get off this mountain!

My elation was short lived…on the way down I stumbled, ok fell, cut up my hand. There was blood, I would live. But it did not help with the steep climb down. At the bottom everyone was waiting…..and there was cold soda, chips, and sandwich’s!

So there I sat drinking warm Chardonnay, swatting bugs…..now what?

 

 

Have wine will hike

From time to time people ask me about the name chardonnay. I give people the side eye who ask if it’s my real name. No. It’s a nickname, cycling, playa and trail name. Typically I only use my given name at work. I started using the name back when I was cycling, I liked carrying Chardonnay on my bike for adult beverage stops. When I went to TTITD it just felt right to use chardonnay as my playa name. When I found out about trail names I was certain what mine would be. And yes it is chardonnay with a small c!

Did you know Chardonnay is the most diverse-and most planted-white wine grape in the world? Full bodied, bold, beautifully crafted and quite mature…..I identify with all those descriptors. See chardonnay is more than a nick/trail name, it’s my alter ego, a better version of me.

wine-register
Signing the register……Chardonnay and mashed potatoes!

When I hike I pack in (and out) Chardonnay in cartons. I’ve even had it shipped in a mail drop (thanks Leslie) to celebrate at the PCT northern terminus.  Bandit wines and Wine Cube (easy to find at Target) are great for hiking, they are lightweight and can be recycled. They also have Merlot (what up Brenda) and Cabernet Sauvignon which are great for day hiking and camping. But when I thru hike I tend towards Chardonnay. Pack up some cheese and Nut Thins crackers and boom, instant motivation to get to camp!

Even got to do some wine tasting on the Appalachian Trail (Delaware Water Gap). Checkout The Renegade Winery out of Stroudsburg, Pennslyvania great wine, good people

chardonnay everyday……happy trails!

 

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Chardonnay in Gatorade bottle…….Babybels and crackers, classy.