Saturday, May 1, 2010

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!


  1. Saw the Caribou Boys today - they introduce me as Emmily's Mom... I've started to introduce myself that way. Wonderful coffee with O. K. She's doing great. I'm proud of both of you!

  2. Unsolicited Advice: A couple of Flameless Ration Heaters in your pack for emergency situations where you can't use your alcohol stove (say, inside your sleeping bag) might be helpful (if you can afford a few more ounces, of course.)
    Also, Textured Vegetable Protein goes well in instant potatoes to add some substance & protein. Since it's fully dehydrated, it could be a lighter alternative to tuna. And add MSG, it makes everything more delicious.

    If you're interested in FRH's or TVP, let me know and I can send them your way.