Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Webb Mt

Here's the lookout!! Camping below tonight thanks to this really nice couple staying in there. They gave me water!!

The climb to the top was hell. 3000ft in 3 miles. Slowest I've ever moved! 

I was supposed to do 3-5 more but I stayed too long talking and bears like sunset time. Not worth it. Tomorrow will probably be a big day. I'm not sure I can climb Mt Henry tomorrow. It looks steeper than the one I just finished!!
There's an alternate that can take me into the next town more directly and I'll probably do that!

Hope to write more later!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Travel Day 1

After flying to Seattle and walking around the city waiting for the late train, I'm now comfortably sitting watching the waves before we turn inland. 
Unfortunately there was a train that derailed around glacier and I must now exit at whitefish and take a bus to the west glacier train stop. I'm hoping between the late train(2hrs) and the bus i arrive early enough tomorrow to figure out a permit for the night.  I submitted a permit with 3 options about 6 wks ago but unfortunately the park still hasn't responded.  
Oh well!  So excited- the walking starts tomorrow!!! :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What's next?!

The Sierra High Route.  More than 50% of it is cross-country or off-trail.  In those areas, I will have to rely on my ability to read maps and navigate across boulder fields, scree, and many passes.   While this will test learn-able skills, I am hoping it will provide a solid basis for mental stress and positive decision making. Although these are also skills, they take far more trials and experiences for confidence to build.  I'm hoping this trip will give me a different enjoyment of nature, a confidence for off-trail hiking, and a better basis for decision making.  I am sure I will be ... misplaced often.   I did begin a search for a hiking partner from my pool of familiar hikers, but there were no takers.  I had originally planned this to be a solo hike, but opened it up to others for safety reasons.  Now having read books that relate to this, I feel prepared for a solo traverse.   I am still stressing about my travel plans to and from the trailheads but I am sure I will find someone who lives in Fresno CA. (If you do, please let me know!!!)

I got my permit two weeks ago and I am looking at flights!  Most of my new gear has arrived.  In the last 10 months I have re-outfitted ALL of my gear.  I am now on my way to becoming UltraLight!  My new tent arrived this week and it looks stellar, it  has been in production for the past 6 weeks.  Cottage Gear Companies make gear after the order is placed.  Besides my tent, my UL quilt(instead of sleeping bag) will come in sometime in July.  (It has a 9 week lead time!)   Also, depending on family needs I am hoping to fly to Seattle for a 45 mile jaunt over July fourth weekend.  I have one more major hike planned, but I don't want to jinx it.  It's just too intense and has such a large possibility of being an epic failure, so you'll hear about it later...   For now, it's eating healthy, training with 120% of expected pack weight, and getting my knees up to standard.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this blog, and in the end I've concluded the blog works great for one thru-hike, but I'll need something bigger and better to encapsulate all of my hikes, ideas, and backpacking advice.  In the next few months I will be putting my web design skills to good use as well as asking others for help.  Before the end of the Sierra High Route trip I hope direct you to a website that is currently "Under GoldenChild Construction".   For those who have seen my mad skills with drills, screws, hammers, and thingamajigs.... stand back!!!!

 - Happy Trails!  and email me if you have a contact in Fresno please!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pictures of the End

Reaching the Border!!

 My first night walking south and I camped alone.
 Magical Washington going South.

Boat and I at the border. We're tough!! It was a sad goodbye.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Part 2 - Reflection

I did what so many said I couldn't or wouldn't do.  I finished the PCT on September 18... 5 months and 2 days after I began it.
Yes, I am a different person than the me who started, the me who left Atlanta, the me who gave you a hug goodbye.

Reflecting on the past 5 months is hard, everyday my thoughts change.  I leave feeling and thinking differently about what those months meant to me and where I want to be for the next 5 months everyday.  To make it easy for everyone... life off the trail is slow, sad, depressing, and filled with gaining weight, nap time, and walking on sore feet, cracking joints, and callused toes that have lost nerve sensations.  
Waking up at 5:30 in the morning was terrific, but now there is nothing to do, no trail to walk, no early morning sunrise over a gorgeous mountain range, no tent next door, no hiker groans nearby.  I hear the beginnings of the trash trucks, dogs barking, the next door neighbor's 3 yr old beginning to cry like the rooster at Stehikin... except the trail is finished.  I treat myself to sleeping in, 8:30am rolls around and my body complains...inactivity hurts.  Starving I must rise on legs that can barely hold me up.  I lean onto the walls, the chairs, making my way to the stairs, a roller coaster for muscle coordination.  The pain, the muscles twitch... the feet scream.  Downstairs I grab breakfast. Marveling at the refrigerator that keeps my yogurt and raspberries cold, I hop to the chairs on bloated feet I don't recognize.  Yurtman asks if I want coffee or tea... and within minutes the water on the stove is boiling.  There was no discussion over where my stove was, who's fuel would get used, and if I would be providing the purified water. It's all in the kitchen.  CLEAN WATER!  STOVE WITH FUEL!  CABINETS WITH TEA AND COFFEE!!!  

Do you realize what a gifted life we take for granted?  When was the last time you shit in the woods?  When was the last time you packed out a week's worth of food, toilet paper, or purified your water so you wouldn't come down with a stomach disease?    What's the longest period of time you went without a shower?  Do you know what bad hygiene really is?  Have your feet ever been black for the dirt and mud you tramped through?  Have you ever washed clothes then put them in a bucket and they're still dirty?  

To enter the grocery store last week and look down the frozen aisle I realized this meant I could buy something to eat for next week.  I could buy that gallon of milk I'd been craving and it would be okay if it took me more than one hour to drink it.  But I couldn't buy whole milk, because it had too much fat.  I will need to watch my calories... and eat less.  How strange to eat everything and anything for a full year, and now try to diet.  Alien.  At the checkout I reached for 6 snickers bars.  I had to put them back.  What person eats Snickers bars off the trail and doesn't gain weight?  

You may say I am over exaggerating but being off the trail is like losing a loved one no one has ever met. You feel the withdrawal of a close companion, a friend who pushed you to greater strides, better views, and tested your resolve.  Now you have graduated, you have finished it's tests, dealt with the rain gear, experienced dehydration, and have become one with the ice axe.  Now, you're done.  You are left standing completely alone, with no friends in front or behind you. There is no pack on your back, the tent stays in it's stuff sack, the trekking poles have been leaning against the front door jam for a week, and you have no desire to move.  No desire to admit that deep down, leaving that trail was as hard as getting on.  Denial hits, yes I did something I consider amazing, and I want so bad to go back... but I don't want to.  I hurt.  My body is tired. My brain is tired. My heart is tired.  I gave it everything I had.  I lived in the moment of PCT life for 5 months,  and my reserves are empty.  I met people who changed my views on life, kissed someone I wish to kiss again, cried over scratches I watched turn to scars, questioned the meaning of life, and changed sharp corners to callused edges.  I am more connected to myself yet more alone than ever before.

There are no saints on the trail. No one is better, no one gets a raise, no one pats you on the back.  The people with ultra light weight gear, the people who walk slower, are all just people.  It is YOUR trail, YOUR hike... it is what you make it.  I am not perfect.  I fall down, I trip, I slide down sidewalks slick with rain.  My gear isn't especially lightweight, I don't hike especially fast, but I did finish the trail and I finished my hike.  This doesn't make me better or different than anyone else, I just took my equipment, walked at my pace, and eventually after lots of time and many many steps... I got down the trail to the end.

I enjoyed every minute, every break, every person I met, every tree I saw, every rattlesnake that made me jump. 

I'm still coming to grips with the aftermath. Reflection sounds so light-hearted. Truly though it's filled with pain, pride, slight regret, and thoughts of friends you may never see again.  

Thank you for reading about my adventures.  The comments and emails I got were so encouraging and I wouldn't have been able to finish without your support.  Also, thank you for getting curious, changing your route, turning around, and stopping to pick me up when I stood on the road alone with a thumb out... THANK YOU!!!

I am working on putting together a complete story of this strange trip that turned into a search for sanity. A trip that like life is a slow beginning.

Friday, September 24, 2010

ROAR! (Part 1 -Facts)

Over the course of the trail I've written about events, people, feelings, and changes.  But giving a summary of the end result of the 5 months worth of changes, adventures, stories, and hard.  I'm tempted to begin this post with where I am now, both mentally, emotionally, and physically... but it would be a strangely inaccurate representation of me, my hike, and the end of the trail.
Part 1 -  I will catch you up on the last 2 weeks of hiking as if the end hasn't occurred. It's a struggle to relate... to explain and/or summarize changes and ending thoughts so Part 2 will be about being done / reflection.

 The days of Washington are filled with gray mist that begins 20 feet away in every direction... and it never ends.  Rain falls softly, angrily, slowly, quickly, or loudly. It is always wet, humid, and cold.  Clothes don't dry, the tent is stuffed while it's still dripping steady streams of condensation and rain.  Dreams of being warm, dry, or comfortable fade quickly as the days blend together.  After the first day everything is always soaked.

I discovered just how ineffective my rain gear is the day I left Snoqualime with Boat and Slimjim .  The jacket collected water in the forearm as I hiked, causing my fleece to get soaked, and the shirt beneath was already drenched in sweat.   The rain pants had small tears from my glisades in the Sierra's.  It turns out duct tape doesn't actually fix everything.  The pants let moisture in, but not out... so the bottom half of me became as wet and cold as my top half.  In one word... I became miserable. As I didn't have any other clothes besides a pair of long-john bottoms to sleep in, this became a problem.

After the first night camping in an open meadow, with ineffective rain gear, a tent that must not be seam-sealed any longer, a damp sleeping bag, and a failing neo-air I became the hiker I swore to never become.  I walked with my head down, feet to the grindstone.  I walked on auto-pilot.  The Golden Child Zombie walk began as I trudged through thick mist, feeling cold, and depressed.  Unable to take breaks in fear of getting wetter and colder, I didn't see a gorgeous Washington... I missed the flowers, the goats, the berries.

As the day continued and the rain fell heavier I took a wrong turn somewhere.  Lost and confused I took a 3 mile "alternate route".  I discovered how far behind Slimjim and Boat I was when I found a note in the middle of the trail saying they were headed for Desolation Lakes to camp for the night... and "WHERE the hell was I?"  FoxTrot and Flashback(really fast hikers) caught up to me on my 15 minute lunch break; they had taken the same extra route I had.  I was able to catch up with Boat and Slimjim after 2 hours of hard hiking(3.5 -4 mph).  As Boat and I walked toward Desolation Lakes I slightly ranted about how everything was breaking... and I made up my mind that I needed to go to REI when I got into Skykomish no matter how far behind it would put me.  Everything was breaking, they only piece of equipment that hadn't was my stove!  Boat and I considered pulling an all-nighter but I ended up putting my tent up anyways. That night was the first battle between the field mice and I.  I woke Boat up periodically through the night with my headlamp and yells. We fought all night over two snickers bars, my maps/atlas, and my toilet paper. I won the maps and toilet paper, but the mice got the snickers.  After barely any sleep I settled on taking a shortcut into Skykomish as did Slimjim.  As we split off from Boat for the four miles of extreme descent,(3,000+ ft) I listened to Slimjim tell me about reaching his patience with people. We got down to the road in two hours.  Slimjim must have been reaching the end of his patience because after waiting 30 minutes for a car he picked up his pack and told me he was going to start walking. I think he thought I would follow him... but I didn't.  Within 15 minutes a car pulled over and we headed down the road.  I explained to the driver that another hiker was on the road ahead and asked if he would mind picking him up too.  He said no.  If a man had left me to hitch-hike alone then he had done me a disservice making me hitch as a lone female.  This made me slightly nervous... alone in a car with someone who wants to keep me alone.  He dropped me off at Steve's Shop near the Dinsmore's and gave me his cell phone number in case I wanted a ride to REI.

 So I arrived at the tiny General Store / Diner alone.  The conversation with Steve,the owner, was hilarious to me...
Steve: Hiker?
me: yes(sigh)
Steve: Cold?
me: and wet
Steve: Dinsmore's House?
me: yes
Steve: Coffee?
me: YES
Steve: Menu?
me: pancakes?
Steve: I make KILLER pancakes!
me: DONE

After the best pancakes of the trail I headed to the Dinsmore's House(local trail angels) where I  showered and put on a dress from the hiker clothes box. I ended up calling the driver from my previous hitch and he drove me to REI(90+ miles away) and back to Skykomish... it was the scariest ride I've ever had.  But it was worth it for the new rain jacket and replaced neo-air and rain pants.

Slimjim, Damien, and Smiles had decided to get a hotel room further in town, so when I got back Babysteps, Foxtrot, Flashback, Drugstore, Boat, and Cruisin'(CDT hiker) were in the garage. It was a bubble of activity and I found Bump doing trail magic!  She had brought three cakes and they were so delicious. When Bump dropped Babysteps, Foxtrot, Flashback and I off at the trail head the next morning the car was full of energy! We sang Kat Stevens the whole way! High-fives and hugs of excitement, we started off headed for Stehikin.  

I caught up to Boat and Drugstore who had started hiking earlier that day than I.  Boat and I decided on only doing 25 mile days to the border because we didn't want to rush the last part of the trail. Drugstore on the other hand was ready to put the miles in and get the trail finished.  By the end of our first full day on the trail Drugstore had out hiked us by 10+ miles.  The last day getting into Stehikin Boat and I decided to be crazy and hike all the way until 1am to the Stehikin Ranger Station.  In the morning we saw Foxtrot, Flashback, Slimjim, Babysteps, and Drugstore all headed out to the Border(82 miles away).  Boat and I stayed in Stehikin for the night and treated ourselves to the Ranch and the Bakery.  Between the two of us our bakery bill was $78 dollars.  We bought a giant scone for every morning we'd  be on the trail(total = 9) loafs of bread for lunches, sticks of butter, and tons of sweet and intoxicating-ly tasty pastries behind the glass cases.

Leaving Stehikin was hard, Five days of hiking for me, Four days for Boat... we walked 25 mile days, woke up when we wanted, stopped for berries on every hill.  I just tried to enjoy every minute of each climb, descent, break, dinner, and view.  We arrived at the border on September 18th at 4:15pm.  There was excitement... but there was more sadness than anything.  After taking pictures, eating lunch, and making hot chocolate it was time for us to part ways.  Boat on his way to Canada and me back toward Harts Pass(30 miles) where I planned to hitch-hike to a town with a pay phone and call Bump for a pick-up and ride to Seattle.

Things worked out amazingly well the day after the border...  It turns out Balls and his daughter Sunshine had decided to hike from Harts Pass to the Border and back.  I ran into them early the next morning and they had camped with Foxtrot that night, he had already completed his thru-hike and was heading south just like me.  I camped with Balls and Sunshine that night and in the morning we all hiked to Harts Pass... through snow, hail and rain.   When I got to Harts Pass I found Foxtrot beneath the bathroom roof.  My hands were so frozen I needed help un-buckling my pack, getting my dry clothes out from the bottom of the pack inside three seperate bags,... and he untied my shoes then made me hot chocolate.  Before I had finished changing into my dry clothes Balls and Sunshine arrived and we packed the compact car up fully loaded with soaking wet gear and extremely smelly hikers.  Both Foxtrot and I as well as a hiker I didn't know well, RT, rode into Seattle by way of Balls and Sunshine.