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Category Archives: June 2012
Ok, so it’s the trail. But I’ve met some really wonderful people on the trail. I often forget to get names and photos, (I know, I know… that’s important, but I get so wrapped up in a great conversation, I’m usually long gone before I realize I’d forgotten……)
Sunday night, while setting up my tent away from the INSANE winds that blew around an area that sported such sights as ‘hell-hole lake’, elephants back, and ‘the nipple’, two hikers w/o packs walked by and told me about their planned Monday. Carbon dating remnants of what they think to be an old beaver dam at Blue Lake. California is a bit behind on the beaver scene (apparently my home state of WA is well ahead (thus the reason the field behind my ol’ cabin is now a marsh due to beaver dams down the creek)). California is thinking of introducing beavers to the Sierra Nevadas, and this couple was out to prove that it’s actually a RE-introduction. A study in the 1940′s showed that beavers didn’t exist above 10,000 ft in the S/N’s… this information is likely wrong. Anyhow, I found this to be fascinating and a nice evening chat after a cold windy push to the campsite.
Monday, before I had a half mile in, I ran into Billy Goat again !!! His first hike on the PCT was in 1989, and since, he’s hiked more than 25,000 Miles of the PCT – everything he owns in storage, he hikes full time year after year. I was in haul-ass mode to get to Tahoe (even though my food wasn’t due till Tues/Wed). I-Pod cranked up to a high beat tune, I was striding fast across a field when I encountered the CUTEST dog, carrying his food (good boy) in a pack and his wonderfully friendly owners. Suzanne and Tom live in South Lake Tahoe. Suzanne Roberts teaches writing (and should therefore become my new best friend) and has a book about her adventure on the John Muir Trail coming out in September, called ‘Almost Somewhere‘. Just talking to her makes me anxious to read this book, it was a great conversation that I hated to walk away from.
I mentioned my interest in moving to Portland as well, so I’ll put in a plug for her best friends partners’ new restaurant Gruner – Portland Oregon.
I’ve seen so many sights that I often find my days mundane. But the people on the trail keep things exciting, when I’m not feeling up to making excitement happen myself.
Hey Howdy. I have some catching up to do, as I always do, but as I hit South Lake Tahoe, a ten mile hitch from PCT Mile 1094 (that’s right – I passed the 1000 mile mark !!!) I found 70+ facebook birthday messages, a lot of wonderful donations, and before I forget, I want to tell you about my birthday on the trail …
The day prior I ended up hiking with a group of people including an Israeli guy named Udi. We all celebrated the 1000 mile mark, left Yosemite, and set our goal for camp that evening. With Kennedy Meadows Resort planned for Friday, we wanted to get as far as possible to get us to town faster Friday. Sonora Pass we understood to be the last of the big climbs before the trail gets a bit easier. The granite mountains turned to beautiful red/brown volcanic beauties. In just two hours time, I was shocked at the complete change in scenery, which reminded me much of my pre-PCT hike around Mt. Saint Helen in 2011. We turned up a canyon, passed through the last of the trees for ten miles, and fought strong winds as we climbed up, and up, and UP switchbacks to what must have been the best view I’ve seen on the PCT.
Udi suggested we stop and camp here on the saddle, where the others – Memphis, Nightengale, Knut (from Norway), Opus (from Seattle), and Castle slowly arrived tired, yet invigorated by the vista. The rock fragments proved to be too difficult to sink tent stakes, so cowboy camping it was. A rock circle, likely erected long ago, served as a one man wind shield so we could cook dinner. After eating, our sleeping bags all in a line, facing south, we stared at the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain peaks that we just climbed out of. Within an hour, we all turned around out sleeping bags and watched the sun set over the hills behind us. It was stunning.
The night proved to be difficult. The cold wind howled over the saddle and pushed it’s way through all of our sleeping bags. Knut relocated to a spot behind a rock formation. By 2 a.m. I had pulled out my pack cover and wrapped my feet in it, then pulled my rain skirt and put it on to keep the wind from my legs (I was already encased in my thermal underwear, puffy coat, rain coat, gloves…..) and when that proved to STILL be cold, I pulled the big ol’ wedding gown from under the rocks I had piled on it, and stuffed it in my sleeping bag. Finally I could get some sleep.
We all woke before 5 a.m. to see the sunrise and Nightengale led everyone in a ‘Happy Birthday’ tune. The view all so grand that I think we’d all lose sleep again to experience a night like that. Opus shared with us all the temperature – 34* and risiing. Slowly we trickled from camp, over crazy rock chipped mountain sides, over more snow than I expected to see on June 22, pelted by blustery cold winds, and again the landscape changed. Purples, Blues, Greens, Browns, Greys… all part of the volcanic rocks that we traversed…. And then – THE ROAD ! It’s always invigorating and exciting to see the road that will take a weary hiker to FOOD! (and takes 3 times longer than you expect it will)
A trail angel was set up at the trailhead with Cake, Cookies, Coke, Beer, Strawberries, and other big wonderful bowls of fruit. We spent an hour eating and chatting. ‘Speed-Stick’ , a tripple crown hiker was there to see her boyfriend off on the PCT, and offered to mail off my bear-canister and wedding gown. She gave us a ride to Kennedy Meadows Resort where we planned on staying for the night, and where my trekking poles and food resupply waited.
This is where things went wrong. But just in going through my journal and notes, I realize that I’ve let a few silly things ruin my thoughts of what really was a stunning beautiful day. The back-woods resort had nowhere for us to stay, so we settled on the back porch of the store and restaurant and sorted through our resupply. My sister sent 7 days of food for 75 miles (3 days more than i really needed) and another wonderful birthday surprise, so I wasn’t sure what to do with it all. Since my family knows I usually travel in a pack when it comes to resupply, my FANTASTIC Sister included an entire party pack for my birthday. I’m a big kid, so this may seem strange to you, but it came complete with balloons, party hats, Compass rings, horns and a Tiara LOL. Yeah… big kid fun !!! But by the time I left Kennedy Meadows, there were little girls running around with these trinkets. The weight was too much to take on the trail, and no room in my pack with the extra food. My mom sent a HUGE Gooey Butter Cake, which I took back to the trailhead and was happy to be able to share with 8 other hikers that were sitting around with the Trail Angel, who was still set up and serving.
My trekking pole parts arrived as well, and when I opened up the box, I didn’t find a few parts, I found two brand new Carbon Fiber trekking poles. Josh from www.rutalocura.com took great care of me. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I may be sponsored by rutalocura, but I LOVE my YANA trekking poles.
From the trailhead I was able to get in 8 more miles. So I still pulled off a birthday resupply, and 16 miles on the PCT. I’ve been stewing over my experience at K/M Resort, but glad I took the time to share this, because between the scenery, and the love and support of my family and friends, it really was a fantastic day. =-)
This is a HUGE gown, sent from Florissant Missouri, from Tracie. She works at a bridal shop and was able to get her hands on this gown for me. It never made it down the aisle, but I’m sure a lot of bride’s to be tried this on. I didn’t alter this dress much, doing so would have ruined it, so it’ll be quite interesting to see how it handles. This gown will hike with me from PCT Mile 942 @ Tuolomne Meadows CA (in Yosemite) to Sonora Pass, mile 1018.
Made by Bonny
Size 12? Half of the tag was missing -
100% Poly outer – Lining 100% Nylon
Made In China
Price Tag – $490
Weight – 4 lbs 15 oz.
Imagine walking along a trail, meandering around deep blue alpine lakes, flaked by walls of mountain peaks and ridges. You’re high above the tree-line. As you slowly descend, grassy edges begin to line these scattered bodies of water. It’s perfection. You round a corner to see a canyon below so deep that the magnitude of what you’re doing makes you stop dead in your tracks… Then the lakes and the meadows plunge over the edge as you pick up the pace down, down, down switchback after switchback watching what was a lake erupt into water falls and explosions of sprays over granite boulders and slabs…. Are you imagining it? It sounds too fairy tale to be true, but I lived it last Saturday. June 9 – Mather Pass. I’d climb a hundred passes to relive these moments.
It seems I’m getting a bit more accustomed to the altitude. Climbing is still wearing me out a bit, my legs still feel week after just a few switchbacks, but resting helps and gives me the energy to keep moving up. The last hundred miles or so seemed to be nothing but UP to a pass (often 11-13,000 ft in elevation) then down to the creek below (8-9,000 ft in elevation). Over and over this takes a lot of energy, but the incredible vistas and excitement of what views extend beyond the mountain passes keep me moving.
The mosquitos are beginning to make stopping anywhere near water (which is everywhere) a bit frustrating. I have a head net and deet, but I hear from beyond that they’ve become deet resistant on the trail. Blow downs from a storm gusting 100+ mph winds slow things up a bit as we walk around or climb over not just one, but sometimes clustered piles of trees. The forest service has been working for weeks to cut through the worst of it along the trails, the last 3 miles on the PCT before heading out for resupply showed beautiful but hard work on their part. It’s supposed to be worse ahead, so I hope the trails are cleared. Early hikers had quite the trouble finding the trail under thousands of downed trees. Walking around one tree, only to find more down, then having to find the way back to the trail is not so easy. What I’ve encountered though usually has a faint trail through the dirt, showing what others have done to traverse around.
I’m still hiking with on and off with No-Amp, Memphis, Chief and Cookie, and every day someone new comes along, for a day, an hour, or just a quick break to introduce. Either I pass them, or it’s a speedy thru-hiker that’s moving faster than I care to (or can) go. Last week, after hiking with someone for the day, I had to break free and move on. The constant complaints of sore feet, trail conditions ( “I HATE ROCKS !!!!” -the trail goes up, the trail is to steep down, the trail is sandy…), the weight of the bear canister and ice axe… it’s always something. While descending from the incredibly beautiful Mather Pass, I commented on how stunning it was, and possibly my favorite day in the Sierras, the hiker said “I can’t look – if i do, I’ll trip on all these rocks !”….
It’s mind over matter out here, and although EVERY day I hit a rough period (usually mid day heat causes this), I still manage to take the time to enjoy what I’m doing. My heart is in this. I suppose it doesn’t ring true for everyone.
We’re in Mammoth Lakes now, about to head off to the trail again. My new IMPROVED pack – The Osprey Atmos – carries the weight much better and makes the load feel far more comfortable. I sent my Ice Axe home, I only used it once and it was more of a hinderance than a help, but there for safety of course. There’s just not enough snow, and my Yana trekking poles are doing what I need to get me through.
Just ahead is Yosemite. I’ve never been and I hear it’s simply the best place in the world. I’m looking forward to what could be better than what I’ve experienced in the last 100 miles. I’m 1/3 complete now, but there’s so much more to discover (and 16 more dresses to get through LOL).
Thank you again for all of your donations and help through all of this. I can’[t do this without you all, and I’m glad you’re along for the hike !!!
Someone asked me the other day if I was going to write a book about all of this. Honestly I figured that would be part of the grand plan. There were thoughts of a short documentary as well because it has the potential to be visually interesting enough for such a thing. But as I hike on, fatigue and time work against me and I doubt that anything will ever come of this other than pure week to week entertainment. Which is fine with me.
Getting video and photos of myself were far easier when I had plenty of time to work out a photo, no one around, and few people around to watch me ‘do what I do’. It’s rather awkward when people are staring at me in a gown trying to create some form of art. I suppose I work best alone, and didn’t fully realize how difficult that would be out here on the PCT. The best moments are candid and random, and mostly happen when others are met on the trail. But, I can’t get those moments on camera, it’s too difficult to carry on a conversation and ask to document it at the same time. I often wish I had someone along to get these great moments, but alas, it’s just me out here. There are plenty of stories to tell and retell, but I’m not sure how great they’ll all be, when told on paper.
Last week, while hiking through the Sierra Nevada’s, I started encountering more and more people headed in the opposite direction. Many of these hikers are going SoBo (Southbound) on the JMT. The John Muir Trail and the PCT share the same trail for a few hundred miles and those out traversing the trail are fun and friendly, often greatly amused by encountering the mustached man in white…
I’d like to continue with a future in thru-hiking fun, but will need to figure out where the finances will come from to make that happen. One of my many plans I’ve dreamed up – The Triple Crown One Man Wedding Party !! I can hike the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) next in a tux (I need a break from dresses already LOL… And it can be technically challenging and slightly backwoods) then hike the AT (Appalatian Trail) in Bad Bride’s Maid’s Dresses – It all sounds fun, but this hiking thing is expensive, and as reality often sets back in, I’ll be heading back to Newport to see if I still have a job at the Steel Fab Shop where I can’t run off every six months to take half the year off. Who knows, but I’ve completed 1/3 of the PCT now, and my mind is often off wandering….
I have actually come up with another of my brilliant ideas for the PCT NEXT year, but I’ll have to keep this one to myself – it’s too good of an idea and could steer my future if I can figure it all out. That’s the beauty of hiking – Plenty of time to think, when the scenery, or elements aren’t overwhelming me.