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Category Archives: What’s goin’ on in my life-kinda stuff
Hey there. the clock is slowly ticking down to June 15, and by slowly I mean FAR TOO SLOW. I’m ready to do this, but I must wait for snow to melt in Glacier Nat’l Park. I put out a few feelers on the Facebook page for 2013 CDT hikers and it looks like there will be a few people starting their thru-hike just before or after me, so I won’t be terribly alone on the trail, although there are two different starting points, but they quickly merge to one.
The last few weeks have been possitive for the hike. Today I crossed the $2000 mark, and Someone donated $1000 to my fundraising site ! (AMAZING !!!) just $1000 to go to hit my official goal. After a concerning night, a few weeks back, in my tent with far too much condensation that left my new down bag wet at the head and foot, My friend Michael purchased a new Big Agnes tent for me, in fact it’s a tent i struggled with buying last year when ants ate holes in my tent, I wanted to upgrade to a double wall free standing, but decided to stick with the comfort of the tent I had, at half the price. I’m so very excited to use it! More on that tent and why later…
With what I raised and what I’ve saved I’m on good track to keep my hike moving, I just can’t have any unexpected expenses. Since I have my 6 pair of Montrail shoes already purchased (remember, I bought $115 shoes for $50 through a friends and family discount) so they need to work out well.
I was contacted by a wonderful man who hiked the AT in 1975. He provides trail magic and assistance at the Dinsmore’s Hiker Haven, who happen to be the last Train Angels on the PCT. They’re working together to get me Sqincher electrolite drink mixes on the CDT. A few people have offered to send me food supplies, but those are all packed and ready to send. Most of the food is dreary and boring though, so I’ve sent out my resupply lists and Rory (my resupply guy) will let everyone know where I’ll be and when (if I can’t) so little surprises can pop up when I least expect it. My goal will be to get in and out of towns w/little spending and temptation, so if I find an extra box of goodies at the Post Office, I’ll be able to fend off cravings at the supermarket…. or so I tell myself.
I left my job in industrial paint/prep Friday, the guys I worked with seem to want me back, even though I only worked there two months. I work very hard so it’s nice it’s recognized. Dan, who runs the paint shop, even drew me a map to follow. It starts and ends at work, and although I tell him I won’t be back until the end of Nov at the earliest, he wants me back for the busy season…. I like the little lake and mountain’s he included on the map. Funny good times.
For the first time ever, I’ve been folowing other’s blogs as they hike North on the CDT (NoBo = north bound). Wired is one to watch (click here to find her blog). She hiked the PCT in 2011 and is EXCELLENT at blogging and explaining. Her photos are amazing and I can’t wait to visit the spots I’ve seen her post about. I was able to offer up my first trail magic for her as well, by buying a piece of pie for her at the Pie-O-Neer in Pie Town, NM… the staff was happy to oblige my request of looking out for her arrival … Also, I’m followingHighlife (Click here to find his blog), who seems to have service everywhere on the CDT so he’s posting a lot on Facebook…
Next week I head back to see my family for a week. Other than the short two days in San Diego in April of 2012 when they saw me off on the PCT, I haven’t spent time with them in a year and a half. It will be good to see them, tell them all about the PCT, all about the CDT plans, and then head back to Portland to start climbing the mountains of the Columbia River Gorge, training for the mountains of Glacier Nat’l Park.
I’m going to try to weigh my gear and get a full gear list together. I didn’t end up doing this on the PCT because I had so much extra silly stuff that I didn’t want to know, or more so, I didn’t want YOU to know how heavy my pack was… I bought a gram scale to be technical, I’ll try to do that before I head out.
Thanks again for all of the support, and for regular updates, you’re better off following my Facebook page… facebook.com/hiking26.
Yeah. It’s true. I just started a job last week. What to do next is driving me crazy.
I over think everything, so that’s really all this is…. Me Over Thinking! But Publicly, so maybe I’ll work it out as I type.
Post PCT I moved to the Portland area and began the search for a job to get me through until the CDT. I have known all along that the CDT may not happen in 2013 because of funds. My job search was vast, and often way off track from what I used to do (industrial painting) because the work schedule can be rough and often include Saturdays. I began REALLY missing my old job up near Spokane… So much so that I kept thinking of moving back just so I could get back to work. I’ve learned to live very minimal – for the first time in my entire life! – but I still have bills to pay and my other half is so graciously letting me live rent free so I can funnel all funds into the CDT.
Two weeks ago I received a phone call from a company about a job I applied for and really thought might be a good fit. The problem is, I sent my resume to them just before I committed to the CDT by purchasing $1000 in food (If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know the commitment all started with finding a ridiculously good deal on Oreos/Nutter Butters/Fig Newton Snack Packs at a gas station for 14 cents each). I went to the interview and after hearing about the benefits they offer – MOST important to me – One Week of vacation offered after only Six Months and it accrues that way every six months. Starting all over in a blue collar job market I never expected to find such a deal with vacation time…. VERY IMPORTANT to have vacation when you’re a backpacker ! (and when you have family that lives more than 2000 miles away.)
Well they offered me the job. I started last week. I figured two things – 1) I may not like the job or they might not like me so I could quit June 1 and go hiking. 2) I could beg forgiveness from the people who have donated to fund my CDT 2012 adventure and push it off until 2014. I LIKE to work. I like the stability it brings to my life because I don’t do well when left to manage my own time. I have a great track record for working, and I NEEDED a job for many reasons beyond finances. But I never expected to be back at work just before the hike. The company has now purchased very expensive Red Wing Boots, Coveralls with my name on it will be here next week, they’re bugging me about turning in Insurance paperwork (that’s right, insurance ALREADY!!!) …. I’m giving them my all and showing them what I’ve got and they’re investing time and money in training/employing me, and here I am on the fence about what to do. I WANT TO WORK HERE !!! But I can’t NOT hike the CDT this year. What happens if something goes wrong this year and I can never long distance hike again?
What happens if…. the answers are endless and unknown.
I just wish I didn’t like the job so much. The longer I’m there the more I feel I’m deceiving them, and that is NOT what I want… That’s not who I am.
So why not stay, hike another year, send off my already packaged up food stash to hikers on the CDT and PCT …. It’s money lost but …. NO! I need to go hiking. I NEED this more than I need a job right now.
So, here’s my ideal situation. In a few weeks I go in and tell them I want to work there. I tell them I feel I’m an asset (I work hard and if there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I have a great work ethic), and that I really like their company and would like to grow with them… But explain that there’s something I gotta do first. At this point, they could fire me, but I’d love it if they kept me on until June 1, then I could go see my parents in Missouri (I haven’t seen them since they sent me off on the PCT a year ago Sat April 6 – then I return to start a slow hike on the CDT since I will have had little training (that’s OK, I didn’t train much for the PCT either)…. then hope they’ll have an opening to hire me when I return in November.
I want this job.
I want to hike more….
If something goes wrong – I’ll never regret not having a job the way I’ll regret not hiking the CDT.
SO…. that’s where I’m at…. what a mess.
On this past eve of the New Year, my better half and I walked into a Portland area Cafe, Cup and Saucer to be exact, for a mid-day bite to eat. Asked to wait, I reached down to grab what I thought to be the December issue of Just Out. I knew Johnny Manthis was on the cover, and I had not yet read the story inside. Imagine the immense excitement, when I pulled the magazine from under the discarded newspaper on top, to find ME on the cover. ME ! Ok, it wasn’t exactly a surprise, but when Johnathan Kipp sent me a post interview email that I might be on the cover, I kept my expectations to a minimum. I’m an off-kilter dreamer, who doesn’t deal well with my own disappointment when I’ve imagined something into a false existence. So how low did I keep my expectations? No cover photo, back pages, a few small photos spread here and there…. Seriously. Just Out blew me away with this spread, and here it was, days before I expected the new issue to hit the stands.
Since the hike’s end in September, I appear to have fallen into a bit of a slump, which is a disguise for the deep crevasse I’m typing this from. I’m confused about my ‘status’ as a photographer (what’s an F-stop?) My website is messy and only occasionally works, My trail journals still remain mostly bundled in a zip-lock bag waiting to be deciphered, THOUSANDS of photos from every bend on the Pacific Crest Trail sit wait to be sorted and edited, and more than three hundred clips, equaling NINE hours of video have just recently been compiled to make some sort of documentary of my wedding gowned border to border extravaganza. I’m still unemployed, I’ve gained 35 pounds (fat chance fitting into any of those gowns now!), I haven’t achieved any of my goals I dreamt up in the six months I was on trail. All I can think about is the NEXT long trail, and how I’m going to raise the money to make that happen by June. Although post hike depression and confusion happen often, I feel like a mess.
So back to me, standing there, holding this early issue of a beautiful Portland Area magazine. Gracing the cover as the City’s Mayor and Vocal Legends have in the past… This is just what I needed. I’m so proud, in a city immersed in art like Portland is, it’s quite an honor to have this exposure. The story was scrapped to make room for more photos, and that’s just fine with me. There are FAR too many stories and incidents that brought hiking26 to fruition that I could never get out in a single article, and more than anything, I prefer that spectators create their own story behind the gown changing man on the mountain.
Jonathan, and the staff at Just Out, and Kory too, for pointing them in my direction long ago, I thank you for the pat on the back, the excellent photo spread, and this great New Years gift you’ve given me!
It sounds so simple… Less than 600 miles lie between me and the border. But there are still mountains to climb, and these often come with rain or snow. I”m not worried about it, but definitely keeping an open mind about what lies ahead. I write this from Portland where I took a few days off to spend with close friends, but ended up turning it into a recovery period for my shoulder which has been strained for two weeks. I’m assuming it’s from compensation, my left pack strap has been broken for weeks, and unable to adjust it, I often found myself walking with my left shoulder lifted higher, before I would realize I needed to loosen the right strap. Are you confused? I think I am too, now. I was able to get in to a local Acupuncture clinic which seems to have done the trick, but a few extra days of letting the shoulder heal was in order before throwing 50 lbs back on my shoulder.
I admittedly could sit here in Portland for a few more days. I’m not ready for this hike to end. It’s going to end short of the 26 week plan, so I’ll beg forgiveness if it does. There’s a danger in prolonging it into October though, snow could put an ugly end to a very long journey, so I’m shooting for the end of September.
Today I sent my old job, which I was technically on a leave of absence from, an email to see if they’re interested in having me back. This, I hope, takes some of the pressure of my post-hike decisions off my mind. If they don’t have work for me, then I’m pretty sure the decision has been made that I’ll be leaving my cute little town of Newport, and moving to Portland. I have many wonderful friends here (just as I do in Newport), but here I can take the next steps necessary for my future. I’ve comfortably let my life sit somewhat stagnant in Northeastern Washington, but this entire process with hiking26 has pushed me to the point that I want to conquer my fear of being an artist or photographer. I have never really considered myself either, but I’m close enough now that I want to move forward, and pursue my dreams further.
So once again, just as in the beginning of the hike, I’m back to conquering mountains, both emotional, mental, and physical. The nice thing though, is even if I settle back into the life I had before, I’ll have the most wonderful experience behind me, and know that I have the power to experience SO much more.
72 hours ago myself and fellow PCT’ers Chief, Cookie, Gourmet, Salt Monster, Voices, and Scalpel fell asleep on the beach of beautiful Silverwood Lake, part of a State Park in Southern California. The beach, not far from the swath of land that flanks the PCT therefore making it Federal Land for thru-hikers to use, was a comfortable and peaceful resting place for us all, because I asked. I’m pretty much a rule follower, and since the area was marked for day use, I wasn’t going to camp there w/o permission. The campground was a few miles away and that might as well be a 100 miles away to a weary thru-hiker, so I set out looking for a ranger to get the skinny on where we needed to be, or if I would leave my buddies behind for the piece of mind in knowing someone wouldn’t shine a light at my tent at 9 o’clock telling me I needed to pack up and move on.
A mile or so down the winding pavement I came to the park entrance where I stood in an open doorway for what seemed an eternity waiting to be acknowledged. Eventually a young man made eye contact and stepped outside as I explained that I was with a group of PCT hikers, where we came to rest in the park, and asked where we needed to be to set up our tents. Before I finished speaking I had already noticed his eyes judging my dirty crusty appearance. “Site 13, it’s down that road there, $5 per person” he said.
As I attempted to gain some sympathy, explaining again where we were, and that after so many miles hiking, we would like to be as close to where we’d come off the trail as possible, He pulled out a map, and showed me where site 13 was… no where near our present trailside location. Thankfully, someone in charge stepped in and asked if I was a PCT hiker, and immediately said “it’s free. You have 100′ easment on each side of the PCT which is Federal Land and thru hikers get to sleep there for free…. Do you guys know about the PCT ???” Still, eyes watched me like I was a vagrant, and not someone who is attempting to pull off the somewhat incredible feat of walking 2600+ Miles.
I suppose my offense in all of this comes from the employees that were giving me these looks. They’re working at a State Park. So call me stupid, but aren’t we all, the park rangers and thru-hikers, supposed to be one in our love of nature ? Or am I ignorant in expecting that I might get some respect for what I’m doing, just as I should respect them for their position as a Park Ranger? Whatever the answer is, something good came from this, a group of (what I assume to be) new park employees learned about the PCT and it’s role in the park that they work for.
Fast Forward… or hike slowly on… to Mc Donalds @ Cajon Pass, 13 long hot miles from that beach we were curled up on, sleeping under the stars and an amazingly bright moon. Admittedly I was something to stare at as I walked in the joint with my dress on, but once again (even after the dress came off) eyes followed and sneers grew across faces as our sweaty, dirty selves hobbled up to the counter to order anything other than the dehydrated packages of what was stashed away in our packs. (Double Quarter Pounder w/Cheese, large size value meal and a large Chocolate shake for me (Ordered TWICE over 3 hrs))… Inquisitively, a man walked up to the table, explained that he was a substitute teacher who knew we were hiking a long trail, but couldn’t remember the name. It was such a pleasure to respond The Pacific Crest Trail. He smiled, wished us luck, and was on his way. Once again the self pride in what I’m doing was restored.
We don’t hike the PCT for acknowledgement, we do it for all sorts of reasons. I for one just wanted to do it, thought it would be cool. As this project evolved, I began realizing many things about myself that I’d like to work on – there’s something interesting about knowing you’re leaving your life behind for six months and having NO idea where you’ll end up mentally, physically, or emotionally. As the hike grew near I was far more aware of what I hoped I might change about myself, and as I hike I grow far more aware of what’s going on in the rest of the world that I don’t care for. But who am I? Just little ol’ me with issues. So lets make a deal world – I won’t judge you without first inquiring within, and you don’t judge me without doing the same…
If only it were that simple. Life is just as complicated as I am.
At Kick Off, one of the organizers approached me, shook my hand and complimented me on what I am doing. He thought it was great even though several others said that I was just doing it to get attention. – It was difficult to accept the honor of being thanked without letting the ‘attention’ comment get in the way. But attention seeking I was, but only to get the money to hike the PCT… Did they ask why I was doing it? or just judge me because it’s so much easier to judge that which we don’t understand.
So as this post drags on I’m going to work something out, and work it out publicly. Sometimes getting it out of my head is the only way to move forward. For some time, during the planning process of my hike, a delightful friend, section hiker, and provider of trail magic shared with me information of a 2011 PCT hiker named Wired. What gear she used, the amount of rainy days she encountered, etc. Most often, as my faulty memory serves me, these offerings began with “Did you see on Wired’s Blog….”
I didn’t read her blog. I think I pulled it up once. My little world is so complicated sometimes that I dont’ have time or the power to focus on others lives. I was too busy trying to figure out what a 6’4″ , 200 lb Man might need for the PCT, while hiking in wedding gowns, and in turn, how the hell was I gonna make that work as well? One last hike with my friend prior to the PCT was led with “Did you see Wired posted you on her blog as one to watch?” -huh!?
So days after I began my journey, I received an email from the one, the only, Wired.
You don’t know me, but I’m Wired from PCT Class of 2011. I know how overwhelming all this can be (since my blog was highly followed last year) so I’ll keep it short. I reluctantly listed you as one to watch this season and I’m now glad I did. I appreciate your art and what you’re trying to do, but I am always hesitant of prospective hikers who could be disingenuous and using the trail to profit. Your more recent posts are honest and sincere and show that you are not out there to just take from the trail…but to enhance it and appreciate it for the amazing journey it is. I can totally relate to how you feel and I have to commend you for your honesty. It is your hike and people will understand! Good luck!
Well I just checked the clock. I’ve hesitantly written and re-written this post, and in one hour, it will be one month since I received your email, 320 some-odd miles I’ve hiked, and one month that I’ve stewed over it, re-read it, shared it, pondered it, over-thought it, and contemplated what I would do about it…. and the answer came as I let them get to me… all of the people who judge the dirt on a thru-hiker for what it looks like instead of what it is – often something they can’t comprehend or imagine, but actually IS genuine and good and amazing, and yes, a little bit off the wall crazy.
So Wired, I thank you for your honesty, your compliments, your sincerity. You’re a rock star amongst PCT hikers. But I’ve been here, an Email away, the entire time you felt I might be “disingenuously using the PCT for my own profit”. I would have welcomed a simple question that might have bridged the gap between being judged, and enlightenment. Maybe some day we can walk a trail with our mutual friend, talk about the PCT and teach each other a thing or two, and share a good laugh which is welcome in all walks of life.