Saturday, May 22, 2010

The adventures the of the golden child bha bha bhaaaaa:
Agua Dulce wzas an amazing stop and Mrs. Saufley did a terrific job arranging cots, tents, laundry, and showers. The weather was misty and the 12 miles of slack packing through the vasquez rocks was unbelievably inspiring. I was able to traverse the area before 11am.  I had originally planned to journal when I got to theVasquez Rocks but I ended up continuing on to the mexican restaurant... amazing burrito. 

Casa de Luna is usually describled as the complete opposite of hiker heaven(The Saufleys) they are more  wild and are the party type. I had 8 beers and with the help of Mango and Slimjim we fixed a futon. I had asked Joe if there was anything we could do before the hiker herd comes through... he had this broken futon. I'm three beers in taking a look at it. I managed to find an L bracket and some of the original screws... after lots of digging around. I let Mango handle the power tools. You know me... three beers in... it's just not a good idea.(even though sometimes those are the best ideas.)

I camped in the "Magical Manzanta Forest" in the backyard but unfortunately I was sick that night. I woke up after midnight searching for my clothes and managed to get half of them on backward and inside out... I made it out my tent and threw up. I know you think it was the beer but I think it was the greasy food. I stopped drinking around 7pm and had lots of water before dinner. I left the Andersons with an empty stomach. I put in 16 miles on small gas station cookies. I barely hit 1200 calories at the end of the day.

I ended up camping at a small camp "Upper Shakes Campground" located .6 miles off the trail. The campsites were nonexistant.  I spent almost 2 hours hunting for a good site.  I ended up cowboy camping on mulch.  Gross.  So after the horrible experience I have a new rule... I will only go .5 miles from the trail for a campground if it is verbally recommended by someone on the trail.  Otherwise it's whatever I find in the dark...either on the trail...or nearby.  The .6 miles back up to the trail was rough, completely up-hill, and way overgrown.  There were bushes fighting me and they were a foot over my head!

I hiked 24.6 miles total yesterday and made it in to Hiker Town.  It's this strange oasis of small old town look alike buildings.  I shared a room with Mike(Olay) and Slimjim.  Tarzan and Zelda, two of my favourites are here!! I'm so excited to have caught up to them and I can't wait to be able to hike with them.  Mango would like to do the Sierras with them... I feel bad though that I'm undecided about the Sierras.  Slimjim has a good point though... you don't know until you try... and if you feel unsafe or don't like it you can just come down and leap frog up if you want to.  So I think that means... maybe I need to get the ice axe sent to me and maybe some micro-spikes.   ... I guess I have all weekend to think about it though.  Huff.  I had originally thought oh yeah... no leapfrogging... and then the idea really appealed to me.  I'd see the OR and WA wildflowers and hike throughthe Sierras in their prime. I enjoy hiking alone so leapfrogging by myself would be okay with me.  I think Slimjim and Mango are dead set on the Sierras.  It maybe time to fly my own kite again.

I miss everyone and I absolutely love the letters everyone sends.  I keep them with me and reread them about 5 times over the course of the week.  Please feel free to send more and if you don't know what to write about... just write to me about your life.  ... If we were getting coffee that's what we would be talking about!  Post cards will be sent out from Tehachipi so start looking at the end of next week.  I'm excited to get there because there is a Denny's right next to the Post Office!!

Take care and get in trouble people!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Agua Dulce...Road Walks, Fire Reroutes, and Interesting things.

I'm sitting in a single wide trailer with wooden panelling listening to the 8-12 hikers behind me arrayed on futons and sofas waiting in line for a hot shower.  The conversation varies from introductions to where the sweet apple originated from in America.

My second night in Wrightwood I stayed with two trail angels, Ray and Susan.  They had two sons, one 2 the other nearing 8.  They had a teranchula(I know I'm spelling it wrong) sitting in a small cage on the kitchen counter and I noticed  this strange cherping noise.  It was feeding time and the crickets had just gone into the cage with  the spider.  After drinks and pizza with the other hikers I made my way back to the trail angel's place and slept on the loveseat in the living room.  I of course chose the sofa directly below the spider so I woke up every hour to check and make sure the spider was in the cage and the cage was still closed.  Way to sleep paranoid.
The morning I left Wrightwood I went to the most amazing bakery.  The owner found me googling at the sweets arrayed behind glass and began to discuss the options with me.  I decided on this 6 inch wide cinnimon roll complete with massive amounts of icing and peanut butter.  Absolutely the most amazing cinnimon roll I have ever had.  It was warm and gooey.  I packed out two giant honey buns for a late morning snack.  Slimjim got the pink sprinkled donuts that looked overly sugared and yummmy.
Leaving Wrightwood Slimjim and I headed toward the South Fork Campground and made it in a few hours.  As I was walking down the hill I spotted a man sitting in a lawn chair next to a giant pile of firewood.  I wish I could remember his name... He came over to talk and Slimjim and I found ourselves invited over for dinner.  Two hamburgers, chips, pinot gregio and two giant slices of watermelon later I was finally stuffed.  What nice people.  His daughter, Julian was absolutely adorable. (and I hate kids.) 
Slimjim and I encouraged the man who hosted dinner to join us on our hike or at least part of it.  He joined Slimjim for the first mile or so before turning around and heading back to join his family.  He invited us over for breakfast but we turned him down. We needed to put on the miles before the heat sunk in.  For me this morning was difficult because my mind kept reliving old memories.  By the time I climbed this giant hill into the Devil's Punchbowl my mindset was once again positive.  Devil's Punchbowl was beautiful and reminded me so much of Zion or Southern Utah.  Amazing.  The climb out of the punchbowl was strenuous and really took the energy out of me.  When I got to the top of the climb there were many picnic tables and the weekenders began to show up with giant coolers.  Normally I would think, hmmm how can I get lunch from them but the groups coming in were filled with snotty kids, girls looking forward to getting a tan on the walk and having cellphone service from beginning to end of the 7 mile hike in.  Slimjim and I continued our fire re-route walk... on roads.  We spruced up the day by rolling large tires down the road's hills...moving traffic cones into the middle of  the road, and taking an hour long break in a shack only big enough for the bench within it.  It was a great break because there wasn't any shade for miles around.  I checked the outside temperature and it was over 90 degrees.  The rest of the road walk for the day was long and exhausting, but as we rounded a curve we saw the golden arches of McDonalds calling... we rerouted our reroute plan. We went to Burger King, then McDonalds, and then a local crazy store called Charlie Brown.  We ate at each place but Charlie Browns was by far the most interesting...The store looked exactly like the box of animal crackers complete with animal figurines along the exterior of the building.  We stayed in that small city of Little Rock for close to three hours while we waited for the heat to leave the air.  Around 8 Slimjim and I picked up another hiker, Duff.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned her before...she attempted to thru-hike the PCT last year but was unable to due to some blister issues.  This year she is trying again and started in Big Bear City.  I've hiked on and off with her.  She hasn't gotten her trail legs yet so I tend to out walk her quickly in the morning but she catches up during my 3 hour siesta lunches. So anyways... we night hiked along the roads to avoid the misreable heat.  She was done around 10:30 so Slimjim and I stopped as well.  We found a place to camp under some giant power lines... we camped in the middle of the road thinking no one would be driving up there.  Well... we were wrong.  Talk about creepy and sketchy.  Around 1:30 this car pulls up the dirt road... I shine my head lamp all over the place to get there attention.  This was made possible because we had all been both to lazy and to tired to set up our tents in the dark.  The car goes down the road 20 yds then abruptly turned around and headed back... As the car passed me the driver rolled the window down, stuck his hand out waved and said..."My Bad."  Okay... I'm thinking, that went as well as something like that could have gone.  Around 2:30 a second car comes in,.... I flash my headlamp everywhere, Duff must have been close to being run over... but the car goes down 20yds and stops.  They decide to chill there for 45 minutes.  It didn't sound like english and there were lots of slamming of doors and bottles being broken.  It was nerve racking and very frustrating.  By 3:15 they leave.  What a night.
The next morning Duff informs me a snake slept near her.  .... Hm I think well, what kind of snake?  I wonder over and it's a western diamond back about 1.5 feet long.  Just chilling.  She's totally not into the little rattles on the tail and proceeds to continue packing less than 2 feet away.  All I can think of is wow. I mean, I told her it's poisonous... what else can I do?  I tell Slimjim, he goes over to check it out... hey hey, he practically stands on it and doesn't even realize it until she points it out.  Hm.  I mean... it's a snake... why isn't she being more cognazent of it's location?

I pack up snack of some poptarts and leave ready for the next new adventure I'll have to stumble upon and wonder about the sanity of other hikers.

Slimjim and I took a giant break under a bridge along the road walk. It was the only place to get water for 28 miles of the reroute.  We hung out until 2:30 then began to walk.  Two trail angels stopped us, Law and Order, and told us about changing our reroute to go through Action and straight to the KOA campground which was our final destination.  The change reduced the road walking by 8-10 miles.  We took it.  As we were walking, and nearing the "less than 5 miles left" another Trail Angel stopped us, Thomas.  He offered to take us to the Saufleys and drive us back in the morning.  We took it.  Last night I had a real shower complete with razor for my legs.  I haven't felt this clean or primped in over a month. My hair is down and big.  It's getting too long.  Slimjim and I slack packed the 12 miles of trail that weaved through the Vasquez Rocks.  It was an absolutely mystical experience.  It was like walking through a cloud and seeing a misty desert I never knew existed. 

The hike is going well and I am glad to have left the last of the big road walks. I love the hiking life but I've begun to start thinking about the real world of work/school.  It's roughly 100 miles from Tehachapi Pass and will soon have to make a decision about attempting the snowy sierras or leapfroging up to Ashland or Seattle... and hiking the WA and OR states.  I think I would enjoy doing Oregon and Washington after the desert more than I would in the Sierras.  It would also be safer. 

I hope everyone is doing well and taking care.  My mum should be putting pictures up soon. If you have any questions or are curious about anything comment!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wrightwood - what what!

Oh yea.  I made it to wrightwood late last night. I caught a ride with a forest service man who nervously bungy corded my pack to the back the side of his pick-up truck.  The ride was quick and he gave me a bag of chips for my stomach noises.  It was past 7pm and the sun had gone over the ridge, a long day was over... mile high pizza here I come.  I got the Racoon pizza...ham, pepperoni, bell peppers gallore(I know... I eat them now!) and layered in hickory smoked bacon washed down with tons of water.  The place gave us free cinnamon sticks and icing.  Amazing.

I'm not sure what I should tell ya'll, or what you would be interested in hearing.  I love hiking, the lifestyle change has sunk in.  I enjoy meeting other hikers and learning about their pains and worries.  Interestingly it is when I am alone on the trail that the beauty of my surroundings hits me.  I stop and stare out after every ridge climb.  Life is beautiful and I have a much better understanding of the little things.  Yesterday it kind of hit me. I really made it out here, I'm really living life a minute at a time.  I can't believe I'm living my dream. 

I have trail legs now.  I can hike 20 mile days back to back and feel good at the end of the night.  I am however losing feeling in my left heel.  The impact zones on that foot are blasted. I wake in the middle of the night with that heel hurting.  When I wake up though I can put the miles on and feel good about it, no pain... no feeling really.  I've begun to eat lots of food, not enough on the trail but when I get in town I eat close to 5,000 calories. On the trail I probably barely hit 2,000.  I've lost fat and gained muscle.  What I love about being out here is that I am in a constant state of happiness.  My laugh sounds more real, my smile is truer, and my face is emotonally honest.  It's like those kids with a new toy: bright eyed and excited.  I'm making new friends and still figuring out that even though everyone else is a solo hiker they all need help, kindness, and a patient ear.  Sometimes I want to rush them, or out walk them so I can listen to nature and not their life story or what they plan on doing when they finish hiking... but I stop myself.

Slimjim, the southern pain in the ass has caught up to me.  He's a computer over.  I'm glad he's caught up.  It's relieving to hike with someone my age, who has a relaxing personality, and plays things by ear like me.  He keeps to himself mostly but I think he likes my company.  I hope I'll be able to keep up with him, he's been hiking 25+ miles to catch up to me... the most mileage I've hit was 23.5 and got into camp around 4:30-5pm.  We usually hike with Mango, the 63 yr old from Tenn.  We're an interesting and oddly good group.  We work well together and enjoy hiking independently during the day.

What I didn't expect to find out here is how important people skills or rather social skills are even in the middle of no where.  There are all sorts of people out here with different levels of experience... with different pasts and better and newer hopes for the future.  Some are bitter about losing jobs and their negativity tends to ruin my day.  I try to out hike them, or wait an hour before continuing on.  It's amazing how that type of person can affect your day if they are the only human interaction you have. 

MB - I miss your smile in the morning.  I miss work but more than anything I miss the people. I think about NSC a lot.  I hope the guys are treating you well... they like pranks... so you might want to try to throw a curve ball at them! 
DG - I'm pushing 20 mile days on average.  It's good going.  I am so glad to be out here. Independence has a new definition for me now.  I'm growing in to having a full backbone and learning patience can be the best way to reaching an end goal. 
OK - Go single life baby!!! BTW - peactree city is mostly baby boomers, but one of the 5 villages is being redeveloped to attract the singles.  If I may suggest...look there for apartments.  The chapstick you sent is absolutely amazing.  And the lotion. I'm becoming a truely golden child after so much sun. I love getting letters from you!
EB - I miss our coffee talks, I hope life and jobs are going well.  I wish I could be there with you in a Caribou chating.  I am so glad we are friends, I'm glad you always encouraged me to do what I want and do what makes me happy.  It's the best advice.
RE - I might be taking a bus up to the Canadian border and hiking south with all the snow.  When I know I'll be coming through you'll know too!!
BH - I finished my first notebook in time for the second one.  I write so much.  When I get back to the busy world of no hiking I'll start typing up my stories and experiences...the long versions.  The characters here are addicting, mysterious, and sometimes annoying.  I'll be sure to send you what I come up with.  If you didn't know, I love writing.  While I was working with you in ATL I wrote about 10-20 pages a week.  I'll be giving you a call after this blog post too. :) I miss you.
KW - I am sending my pictures home so you should see some of what I see.  I'm sorry I didn't take more pictures.  The first week or two I was just trying to make it to the end of the day.  I've began to take more pictures once I started hiking 20 mile days.  Life on the trail got easier at that point.  I'm really safe, I always take the safer route. Well.. I lie.  Yesterday I made the mistake of taking the snow route and didn't kick in enough and managed to fall down a 15 foot steep snow slope... the back of my legs look kind of ugly because a log and lots of twigs stopped me.  I got off the snow route and took the jeep road.  The cuts are fine.  I'm a real woman, I can do anything! I haven't met anyone with an outlook on life like yours, I miss our talks. 
SR - I wish I had some rubberbands so we could have a rubberband fight, or I could help you with your computer.  I'm glad I'm out here, it's worth everything. I miss you too.
JK - I still can't believe I'm out here. Tell your wife it is life changing.  I am different already and my outlook on much of life has changed for the better.  Life gets simple and enjoying every minute is possible.
Paul  - If you want to send me anything please feel free! send me or my mum an email for our home address... or well if your in ATL you could probably just drop it off.  Oh and I'm in a library... I think blogging is worth the time and energy.
Caribou Boys!!  / Zac - I miss playing pool, drinking beer, tequila, and coffee all in one night.  But seeing the sunset and sunrise everyday is worth it.  I hope everyone is doing well.  I miss running into ya'll and chatting about life, dreams, and passions.  I hope the summer crowd has returned.
OAC Meeting - Psh, come out here for a meeting and each of you would be late.  Productivity would dramatically decrease but I guarentee each of you would love it.  The desert is beautiful. There's a sterility to the environment that no amount of termporary walls or extra air fans can provide.  The flowers are more gorgeous than the Coca-Cola swosh when perfectly placed on any wall. I think each of you would like it out here...     D. Florez... don't have dreams about me... it sounds strange.  When I'm done with this hike though I feel I will be able to give you the best, most beautiful locations to visit so hang tight for another few months!!

Also... Slimjim has a blog as well and his parents will be posting so new videos... I'm in a few so check his blog out in a few days.(I don't think the videos are posted yet.)  You'll get to see me... walking on snow - kicking in, river crossings... and maybe a few more I'm not aware of.

If you have any questions or want me to talk about anything in particular please write to me!!  I read the comments!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Big Bear

Big Bear... what can I say.  I was picked up from the trail head by this nice man and his mother, he was taking her in to town so she could have some good girl gossip and he was going in to hang out with the auto mechanics.  He asked me where I wanted to get off and I said... Big Bear's Post Office.  The car started and forward we went.  I was dropped off at the post office and the nice woman at the counter informed me that I was at Big Bear Lake and I need to go to Big Bear City.  Okay, I thought.  This can't be that bad, I mean I just completed 9.6 miles before 10:30am.  How far is Big Bear City?  It's 5-6 miles. How do I get there? Down Big Bear Boluvard, across the Big Bear Lake board walk... and down aways.  Take a left at the first major gas station on the left.  I asked if she knew if I could get a ride... she suggested the MARTA system(really it's called MARTA).  I got a ride from a nice lady behind me but she could only take a mile or two off the walk.  Apparently this is a doable and often accomplished walk from what I was hearing.  Yeah.... no. I stopped at a major grocery store for a quart of whole milk and a 30 pack of cookies.  When I checked out I had older men in front and behind.  They looked at what I was getting, me a small girl, with this giant pack.... I felt like they knew something I didn't.  The woman, Fiona, I think, who check me out watched me down 25 cookies and the whle quart of milk within 15 minutes.  ... It's all about one bite at a time.  So I ended up... walking a misreable 4-5 miles in the "Big Bear" area.  Huff, Big Bear... I see no bear!  Just a small shoulder on the side of a busy highway.   And for all you people who think... why doesn't she just take the public transit system... well, real women, don't do that.  They tough it. 

So a summary of the past few days!!
Monday, I left Idyllwild by way of Linda, a nice woman who was very scared of Slimjim.  I should have sat in the front with her instead of having him up there.  Slimjim and I managed to escape the post office by 10:30ish.  It was a hot 4.5 miles to the trail head along an old highway.  We made it though and chilledout for a bit.  Some Trail Angels, and previous hikers, Don't Panic and Wing It had some coolers stocked with soda chips and apples.  As we waited for the heat of the day to pas Mango showed up. (Mango and I started the same day (4/16) and had hiked together for 4ish days.  He's older, 63, and I'm pretty sure he see's me as a risk because I lack experience.  ... and I don't blame him nor do I admit to knowing everything about what's out here.)  Mango, Slimjim, and I headed north, past the windmills and into this beautiful valley.  Truely gorgeous.  We camped at the Whitewater Reserve located .5 miles E of the trail.  It use to be an old trout farm.  The picnic tables were absolutely amazing.  They weren't wood and they weren't stone some sort of interesting concrete mix.  The campsite was beautiful and I enjoyed my warmest and quietest night. Oh I forgot to mention as we hiked in we saw Big Horned Ram.  Amazing.
The second day Slimjim and I decided to push it... we made plans to do 20 miles.  It didn't happen. The trail was horrible ... we crossed this damn stream 20-30 times.  The trail moved... you couldn't see it... basically it was 5 hours of being perpetually lost... and alone.  I caught up to Slimjim and we were so exhausted we ended up falling over in the middle of no where, with this giant amount of heat eminating from every single rock around us.  I ran out of water.  Slimjim looked at the maps and decided that we were 200 yds away from creekside campground.  We got up and slowly stumbled there.  It was a great campsite.  There was water.  I quickly became refreshed.  Hiking with Slimjim... did made me feel safer.  (I know he'll enjoy hearing that I did need his help.) Mango ended up camping not 100 yds south of us.  He was too exhausted to make it any further just like us.  Mango, Slimjim, and I ended up hiking 21 miles that day... yesterday.  It a was a long and rough day, but I was so proud.  I rocked it!  ROAR!

What else.  The people here are interesting and strange.  Slimjim is the southern guy who carried my box in Idyllwild.  It's strange that my mum and his mom talk.  I suppose it's good though.  I definitely find it easier to hike with people my own age rather than someone older.  It's hard to relate and my hike seems longer and more difficult.  I suppose I'll figure it out.  But for now the golden child has burnt arms, legs, and hands.  I've found free moisturizer and am working the cracked peeling skin off.  The place I'm staying is weird and strange.  Interesting characters. 
It's 7:35 ..practically hiker midnight.  I'm sitting in this dusty den with a small, non-regulation pool table in the middle.  There are christmas trees everywhere.  The doors have wreaths.  I'm listening to a record of Simon and Garffunkel.  It's the strangest place.  There are stuffed animals all over the room.  The owner poured me wine from a box into a champagne glas.  He went to court today after he finished meditating this morning.  It makes me really wonder.  ... am I really strange compared to these other people.  Well... I suppose  I might be.  I got Big Bear town's confused.  Who knew you could waste 7 hours in Big Bear towns??

I'd bettter go to bed and figure out where I get to sleep.  I hope everyone is doing well.
Life on the trail is demanding but I love the flexibility and the people I meet.  I forgot to talk about Just Jerry.  I'll try to get it later.  Miss everyone.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Trail Name & Man Humor!

So I have a trail name.... The Golden Child.  I think it's fitting and it has stuck to me quickly with the other hikers.  Because I was two days late into Idyllwild my mum freaked out a bit and everyone in town knew me by my face.  Kind of an interesting experience to have the woman at the post office know before I open my mouth to say hello! When I got to Nomad Adventures, the local outfitter, the two older workers knew me by name before I even entered the store.  The made fun of me asked what had happened.  They said my mum was so upset it was like the golden child was missing.  They immediately began calling me The Golden Child since I didn't have a trail name.   I like it and it's not the first time I've been called a golden child this week... Gourmet called me it as well during those two zero days.  BTW - zero days are days where I hike zero miles... just to clarify.

To the Guys - I don't know how it happened but there is a southern gentleman down here that is insistent to make my life difficult.  He's a pain in the ass and you would love him.(Lawrenceville GA)  He took my clothing box away from me for a 20 minute walk to the other side of town.  He offered his services to drive in the stakes for my damn tent!  I don't know what is wrong with damn southern helping men but I thought I'd finally gotten away from it.... I'm a real woman! I'm pretty much amazingly independent!  I don't need help carrying boxes, opening the damn doors, or setting up my tent!  HUFF.  He's not the only one either! One guy(Tampa FL) asked me if I had someone to walk with into reply was,... do I need someone to walk me to Canada too?   Huff, oh well. Thought ya'll would enjoy it.... I just need to figure out how to avoid them.

In Idylwild! - Day 15

GIDGET here - It's day 15 but I wrote this on day 13...2 days late to the computer.

It's been a long and often times lonely 13 days.  I'm currently in tulu canyon by a spring that operates by a giant twisting handle.  It takes some real man strength to move it.  My tent is good and has so far kept me out of a snowstorm.  My sleeping bag has gotten wet twice and I worry what will happen when the afternoon is rainy or the closest town is further than walking distance.  The best time I've had so far has been walking exhausted and in enormous pain down to a trail angel's home.  Melissa(an older 50ish woman) and I had arrived just as Gourmet(the guest host) had called 6-7 hikers in for dinner.  He mae smoked bbq chicken and these terrific potatoes with onions.  Gourmet actually largely ipacted my trip.  My shin splints and entire right ankle was in disasterous pain.  He understood as a leg injury had compromised his thru-hiking experience.  He encouraged me to take a zero day that turned into two zero days.  RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate.  - CRITICAL!!  By day 3 I was feeling good enough to continue.  As I walked away I looked back multiple times to consider turning back and staying another day.  THose two days I found myself really looking at my life and choices.  I left Comb's Peak thinking I should have thanked him more for his questions, suggestions, and sharing his experiences both on and off the trail.   What I find is people can make it, and people can leave it for something new or better.

The wind has stopped blowing and the night is becomming peacefully filled by the creek 40 feet below me.  T.J. gave me John Muir quotes and I find myself relying on one to express my mood earlier this morning..."The mountains are calling and I must go."  Another day with Gourmet would have been pleasant  and enjoyable but the ridge was plain and visible through the glass near the fire and onward I must move with my sorry little legs.

The days here are hot but freezing at night and I often find myself shivering to sleep.  Luckily tonight is different I camped almost two hours sooner than I usually do.  I know many of you are wondering how many miles I hike a day so let me say this... I covered 109.6 in 6 days you can do the math.

I arrived at Warner Springs before 2 pm on a thursday.  The speed cost me my left knee and my right ankle and shin area.  I went to kickoff last friday and I'm glad I did .  The knowledge and experience discussed has already saved me from many mistakes.  I ws also able to rest my body and meet other hikers and Trail Angels.  Prior to coming into Warner Springs I found myself caught in a clod and windy battle climbing past the 3rd Gate Cache on the Sa Felipe Hills/ Mts.  I ran into Dude and Trouble, a young couple from NY.  We ended up camping 20 feet away and this was before 5pm.  The wind gusts were strong enough to knock me off my feet and the rain was coming in at a 45 degree angle.  We became soaked and close to hypothermia... we called it.... and set up our tents. Mine was in the middle of the trail, on the ridge line still taking strong winds and heavy rain.  It was by far the coldest night of my life.  I was scared to fall asleep because my body was shivering so violently.  After I warmed up enough I began to boil water. My alcohol stove was lit beneath the vestibule of the tent.  Before the water could boil the tent flap came undone in the strong wind and I had to pour the water in the pot all over the stove to extinguish it.  I was worried the tent would catch on fire.  Once this catastrohpe was solved I toolk my socks off and ran around my tent in shorts and shirt placing giant rocks all over the stakes.  Guino passed me after I returned into the tent and asked what the hell I was doing in the middle of the trail... I told him I was too cold and had to stop. He recommended sit-ups and eating something.  I pulled out my bag of almonds and began to eat.  However my hands were too cold to hold the bag up and the almonds fell into the bag.  I didn't care and continued to eat.  As the night wore on the tent came 1/2 down, causing the sleeping bag to become soaked.  Luckily I thought quick enough and used the ground cloth to cover ethe sleeping bag.  THis kept the wind from taking away  the heat within the wet sleeping bag.  When Dude came down to wake me in the morning he asked if I hd ever camped in a snow storm... I said no.... and he replied... well you have now.  His voice was laughing at me.  The girl from atlanta sleeps on an exposed Mt ridge on night 5 and wakes in snow.  My pants were my patagonia baselayer, Capaline 2.  In 4.5- 6" of varying snow.  As I packed I knew it didn't matter how long it took I hatd to get into Warner SPrings by the end of the day.  I think it was 16-18 miles from where I camped and I was in a shower by 2pm.  My knees ached, my feet hurt my shoes were soggy and I was walking around in lipstick red long johns.  I was misreable but happy. After the first 7 miles we arrived at Barrel Springs, there is a highway right near there.  We were fortunate enough to be called back to the road for warm muffins and hot tea.  It hit the spot and the next 10ish miles passd quickly.  Needless to say the hotsprings resort was affordable... less than 25 a person.  The rest of the day passed quickly and warmly. - THe first thing I asked my mom to send me were my pants!

Hiking every day or even when it's just all day is exhausting.  Mentally, Physically, and more than anything... Emotionally.  I've come close to breaking but I can't. The trail is addicting.  Every step may hurt but every corner offers a new and enticing view.  It;s beautiful.

I miss the people Ive grown close to but new friends are everywhere.  Real Life is Trail Life.  Simplistic.... food, shelter, water.  The nomadic life we began as,... still exists.  I'm learning new things and old ideas from the environment and my fellow hikers.  Oddly I'm more grown up now.  Each minute feels real and touchable in a way that makes me question why I didn't feel it before.  Although nature is my company I've begun to realize just how lonely solo hiking can be.  It's the stop to smell the wild flowers or the purple cactus blooms alone that is most difficult. But when another hiker is near the flowers are never as mysterious.  I hope I am able to find a good balance.

Thank you again Gourmet. You helped me mentally to get my ready for the next couple of weeks. ...Yeah... Yeah... Interesting!!!  :)

I need to slow down... 10-15 miles a day should be a good speed but I keep pushing more miles.  I rushed Yesterday,....Friday the 30th into Idylwild ... 15-16 miles before 3pm to get into town because I knew I was going to be late checking in with the parentals.  I'm looking at getting a SPOT to make it easier for them to know I'm okay and safe.... There is an "I'm Okay" button that sends an email to a pre set up account.

No trail name yet... I'm loving it out here!
TJ - You gave great advice.
MJ - No man around.
SR - Haven't heard of any female rape since the 70's on the PCT. I haven't met a single person with an alternative agenda.
OK - I miss you but it is addicting out here.  Stay tough Kiewit has possiblities... just look for them and make the best of what you got.  Dig in, grab for responsibility, find a passion, and run with it.  I go more than 6 days without a shower.  I smell, my skin cracks, and my hands look like that of a weathered old 45 year old woman.  Chapstick melts, so my lips bleed sometimes.  I use lots of toilet paper.  Taking a crap in the woods is really exciting and makes me laugh every time!  I've run into 7 snakes so far, and I saw a dead deer yesterday. You could tell a mountain lion was still eating is because of the way the rib cage was opened up.  I think you would have thrown up.... which means we should go hunting together and be real manly women!!!  Life is beautiful out here. The snow that fell was captivating, there were fields of yellow poppies and blue flowers for 4 miles but the snow covered the green part of the plant so the view was of bright yellow and blue under the melting snow.( This is when I wished you were near because you would have loved it too)
BH - I love being outside everyday and all day.  The mornings are the best, the light, the humming birds, the desert.... it's beautiful.  I'm being safe too.
DG - I'm walking quickly!!  I'll be speeding up soon, looking at jumping ahead of the snow covered mts. and doing the drier desert section.... get in 20-25 miles there.  So far 3 people have been airlifted off the section ahead of me.... hence my desire to hitch up north and hike south.  Hope your emily is causing some trouble for ya!
JK - I could see you loving a hike like this.
KW - It's a lot of mental... it's hard.  After pushing it hard the whole day or the whole week.... it's harder.  The people I run across help, it's a big community, and sometimes just chatting about the weather can turn the whole day around.  Each day is good though. Tough, exhausting... but good.
RE - I miss you too!! It will take me a while to get north but when I get to the bridge of the gods I hope you'll let me do laundry, I know you have a terrific sense of smell... and I don't smell good. :)
JS - Come out and hike miles with me.  You would love it. I would go slower, what ever you can handle.
ES - I love you.  I'm safe, and I sleep near other hikers every night.  I miss you.  The gear talks we had really made the difference.  I'm well equiped.
Grandma O'Connell!! - It's an amazing day everyday.  It's beautiful and captivating...
General.... my body has reformed, my feet look bigger, my legs are machines. my hands weathered, my nose sunburnt, but no stress wrinkles... no worries... just living each day by the weather and how I feel.  A lot of hiking is knowing and listening to your body and reacting quickly.  If the ankle is inflammed and twice the size of miami.... it means you need to stop.

 - GIDGET OUT!!! Miss ya'll terribly!

Caribou Boys! - I eat chocolate covered espresso beans in the afternoon and instead of reading I write.  I'm working on putting the beauty of the desert into words.  My sarcasm and bitterness has quickly left my writing.  It's calm and contemplative.  I miss ya'll!