Friday, April 30, 2010

Fun At Idyllwild!

Mom here again!

A successful end to a stressful day! Emily called in about 7pm EST - just as she picked up her package at the Idyllwild Post Office.  Apparently her feet and shin splints  held her back - so she took two days off.  There's no way she could have contacted us - we just had to wait.  Guess we could have waited an extra day - but, well, would you?  The Idyllwild post office was just wonderful , the post mistress was so patient and sympathetic.  As soon as she saw Emily she told her to call her MOM!!!

Imagine Emily's surprise when she saw her photo all over town.  HMMMMM wonder what that's like.  Sounds like the weather's been tough and not all her equipment has worked out.

I'm so impressed at the large mutually supportive PCT hiker/angel community.  What a wonderful group of people with whom to walk one of the nation's most beautiful trails.  All's well that ends well.   Emily plans to buy new boots, rest her shin splints and continue on!


Hello everyone, Emily's Mom here.

We haven't heard from Emily for six days and, as you can imagine, we are concerned.  She missed her check-in call on Wednesday and didn't pick up her resupply package in Idyllwild.  

Today, (Friday) we contacted various rangers, park agencies, and outfitters to see if anyone had seen or heard from her.  After speaking to Law Enforcement for Cleveland National Forest, I was almost ready to call the Riverside County Sheriff's office and ask them to sweep the trail with helicopters.  We opened an incident report, but weren't quite ready for search and rescue. 

Thanks to Officer Garret of San Jacinto State Park and Nomad Ventures in Idyllwild, CA we have some information.  After checking the campgrounds and coffee shops in Idyllwild, Officer Garrett asked me to email her photo to Nomad in case some of the hikers who stopped there for resupply might have seen her.  He really went above and beyond to do this and if he hadn't - we wouldn't know what we do now. 

A few hours later, Adam, a fellow hiker called from Nomad.  He had seen her at a "Hiker-friendly" house on Wednesday. Reportedly, several hikers were caught in a terrific storm on a ridge outside Warner Springs and elected to hike back down to stay at the house for shelter.  Emily stayed on to dry out her equipment.  So she's 25 miles from Idyllwild and is hiking more slowly.  Most likely she won't get to town until Saturday.

Previous to this, Emily has had a GREAT TIME! She's averaged 18 miles a day, made tons of friends, and attended the big kickoff event.   She took classes in Managing Bear and Mountain Lion incidents, health and safety on the trail, and mountaineering.  Although she is a solo hiker, she has been walking and camping with others all along.  I think she's made some really good friends along the way and has learned a lot!  Despite the snow and cold, I know she's enjoyed the spectacular desert scenery in Southern CA.

I cannot say enough good things about all of the rangers I spoke with.  For now, we sit and wait, and hope to close out the missing person's incident report very soon!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Adventure Begins

Emily's mom here - thought you'd all like to know how it's going.

On April 15 I delivered Emily to US Air, there were tears - mostly mine.   I had to watch her go through security before I could leave.  She was so happy and energetic, did  TSA notice? Probably not. 

Then we started what, I think for us, will always be known as "The Long Wait". We're going to spend a lot of time waiting over the next few months. I'm so appreciative of  Emily's friends who have been positive and encouraging during this period.   And finally, she called toward late evening.

As planned,  her "ANGELS" met her at the San Diego airport.  Apparently she already knew them from the year she did trail  maintenance with Ga Tech. 

This is the busy season for the ANGELS.  There were 13 hikers staying overnight at their house.  They all shared vegetarian lasagna and salad together at dinner and discussed the trail and their equipment.  Imagine an entire dinner discussing who has the best water purifier.  Well, who else to discuss it with.  Since she bought completely new equipment, Emily found that she was in good shape. 

She had a great time meeting all the new people:  a couple from New Zealand in their sixties and two girls from Israel who arrived without a stitch of equipment.  The ANGELS were WONDERFUL, they drove everyone to REI, the supermarket, the drugstore.  Emily is in great company and has gotten the best possible sendoff.

Reportedly,  the ANGELS delivered seventeen hikers to the trail the day before Emily arrived.  They planned to deliver Emily and two other solo hikers yesterday morning - both male one from TN, the other from Chicago.   We got a text from her last night at 11:49PM (8PM her time).  She's OK! 

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Okay! Great and amazing news after lots of wallet pulling, baseweight is: 11.5 lbs.  This number does not include my camera or cellphone. This brings me to 12 lbs with no food or water.  When I got the tent I hadn't anticipated it adding 3lbs to my carrying weight.  It brought me dramatically over my weight goal by 2.5 lbs.  As I searched for lighter weight gear I discovered I could drop 6 lbs of dead weight if I pulled out of my wallet.  By choosing to go with the lightweight option I am joining the group of so called elite ultralight fanatics.  Secretly... I love it.

The sleeping bag: GoLite Adrenaline 20+.  size: Short....  weight: 1 lb 14 oz
The sleeping pad: Thermarest's newest NeoAir. size: Short... weight: 10 oz
The Tent: Nemo Meta 1p.  Total weight: 3 lbs-ish
The backpack: REI Ultralight Flash 65 Weight: 3 lbs 2 oz.
The good news about being small... things weigh less.

I am so excited!!  My camera will be taking pictures of my progress tomorrow.  There is a slight color just sort of happened!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Girl vs Wild or Girl vs Self

Elizabeth Austen's Poem: The Girl Who Goes Alone.  

See the third one down.

Some of this poem isn't really how I think, but the beginning and end ideal is one every girl can relate to.  

It's interesting how perspectives differ with age, company, and upbringing. 

I've lain awake at night, listening to a "giant beast" outside my tent, bang at my bear bag tree... I've never been so afraid.  It came within two feet of my tent, went down to the stream, inspected my bag on the way, and touched my canoe scrapping it against the rocks.  What was it?  I don't know.  Do I want to know, or would knowing make it better?  What's funny is although someone was with me in the tent, it was me who was freaked out more, who remembered where every possible weapon was kept.  They  just sat there ... no panic, like this was any other night where the wind blew and the leaves rustled.  Did my gender affect how I react because of how I was brought up?  
How do you go to sleep after that.

... how do you tell someone, it will be okay, I'll be safe.  What if that someone is a person who warns you about the crazies ... how do you show faith when they never have?   
Age, company, upbringing, perspective.   Gender.  Sometimes it makes a different sort of difference.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I caved after I found the best tent possible for me.  It weighs under 2lbs, has a vestibule, uses trekking poles instead of heavy tent poles, and has mesh covered opening to allow air flow while limiting bugs.  It adds a pound to my base weight but I think it will be worth the comfort.  It has also made me re-evaluate other choices of mine.  I've gotten ahold of more compression straps and fun thing-a-ma-jigs!!  I sit in the living room spreading out equipment, testing it out, playing with extra straps and packing methods.  Finding endless variations of things I will be doing for the next 5 months.  Somehow though, it is as calming as closing your eyes to fully take in the first sip of fresh coffee.  It's like nothing else and always makes you feel better about fulfilling goals... or waking up.

I've gotten a new alcohol stove and tested it out extensively! It's by Trangia.  What I like about alcohol stoves is how multi-purpose the fuel can be.  Isopropyl Alcohol is easy to find within the most basic of stores, it can also be used with a First Aid purpose.  Keeping your feet, hands, and cuts clean is good backpacking practice.  When your feet become heavily used, blisters or cracks occur.  Keeping the foot clean and dry will help reduce swelling or blisters making those next couple of miles easier and more better!  When you go to the bathroom the most basic thing everyone takes for granted... running water.... is the sink to wash your hands.  In the woods, in the desert, there is no sink, in fact the next water source might be 10 or 20 miles away. Between now and then you might decide to eat granola, or put your hands in your gorp.  If there is residue or your hands have bacteria and germs it can seriously cause stomach/digestion issues.  Isopropyl alcohol easily reduces this risk... and so does germx! 

I hope to have a spreadsheet complete next week with the contents of my pack and the item's corresponding weight.  Fingers crossed for a base weight of 13!!  It's funny how weight sometimes seems important and other times you are willing to make so many exceptions because "You want to" or something is "Worth it".  In my mind I'm 6'2" and can take on the world, but when I start to be realistic... I find myself a foot shorter and unable to take on the whole world as easily as I thought and planned.  The step ladder in my trunk cannot help me on this trip.

But, still... 

Get Excited.  
It's ROAR!! Time.  
It's Conquer Time!