AZT in a softshell

24174424_10105884676353293_4266342519263038757_n

Yooooo people!  Welcome to the most sporadically-updated hiking blog ever.  Still haven’t finished my PCT writeup- when will I commit to that?  I dunno.  I just bought a “new” $160 rain jacket for $40 and am finishing up my gear purchases for next couple hikes; this motivated me to write something instead of trying to use the interwebs to decide whether I really truly need a replacement umbrella or not.

Anyway in the meantime I hiked the AZT over a few days in November, and the month of April.  It was a super dope trail, just what I needed.  It was definitely challenging at times but mostly just really really chill.  Gonna write a lil summary right now, all in one post – sorry guyz!

If you’ve been following me tho you can see my lil updates, I have decided for now to prose it up here, and do poetry/pics on instagram.  I’m @haikuhikes  whhaaaat.

Before you ask, hiker nerds, here are the things you want to know so I can get back to my story:

I had a 4L water capacity but usually only needed to fill up 2-3L maybe 1x a day, I’m a camel, sorry guys.  I go like 10-12 miles/L on average, more if it’s colder.  I didn’t cook this time, I cold-soaked my dinners which were always instant refried beans + cholula packet + coconut oil packet.  I did not get sick of this.  I also ate avocado + 2x tuna packet lunch most days and did not get sick of this either.  Otherwise, basically bars ‘n’ chips ‘n’ dried fruit/veg things.  I only set up my tarp 3 nights and probably only needed to for 2 of them.  My baseweight was right about 7lbs.  I tried out the new Frogg Toggs emergency jacket, it got holes super easily.  I also used polycryo for the first time, it also got holes really easily.  I might try the polycryo again because I can’t help my gram-counting self.  I saw 2 gila monsters and 1 coati and tons of birds and tons of deers and tons of elks and tons of lizzies and 0 rattlesnakes and 0 mountain lions and 0 bobcats.  I was super happy about all that.  The whole thing took me 33 days between the November section and April section.

OK storytime.

I hiked the portion (100 miles-ish) back in mid-November, as I mentioned on a previous post.  My friend had invited me to hike down the Grand Canyon with them.  I had just finished the PCT a month and a half earlier, and was still adapting to my return to civilization (it’d been 5 years since I had an actual apartment, 7 years since I’d lived in Philly, couple years since I’d played trumpet, had spent half of the last 2 years sleeping on the ground, and another 7 months living on a boat…yeah).  So it was good for me to hit the trail for a minute, another hit of wilderness-IV.  November was a great time to hike- no heat issues for sure!  I actually had an extra day and decided to dick around Flag for a day (super fun town!) instead of getting to the GC or Tusayan early with nothing to do.  I headed out and the first day did like 18 miles, a nice little jaunt through the city as the main resupply alternate was closed due to controlled burning.  I actually think this was a better idea.  Got up around the Snowbowl area, coming down from that there were lots of nice aspen.  Then it  went through a little bit of ponderosas again, I camped in some sketch place in that kinda forest.  The next day headed downhill and eventually hit some really nice pinyon-juniper rangelands which was most of the rest of the way to Tusayan/GC.  Very flat walking…I only needed to stock up once a day for water due to the cold, even with only 2L capacity.  I did like 25-26 miles the next 3 days up to Tusayan.  Water froze every night.  I only saw two other hikers (they were together) the whole week, and a couple people working on Babbit Ranch driving big trucks.  Lots of time to contemplate the vastness of land and the vastness of life.  I did the few miles from Tusayan to the GC after staying overnight there on points at a hotel, then came back to wait for my friends (who didn’t arrive until like 9pm?).  Saw everyone the next am, I think we didn’t start hiking until 11?  Who even knows.  My 2nd time at the GC and first time hiking all the way down.  We took the Bright Angel trail and I managed to get a spot at Bright Angel camp (they all booked Phantom Ranch which was way out of my budget).  We were the ones partying late in the cantina both nights, whoops!  I was so happy for this experience of having time to chill at the bottom, I knew my thru hike would be a little rushed and I’d probably have to head straight through.

azt bikers

Flash forward to April!  Doin it baller style- I wore my merino hiking dress to my gig in Philly (I told people I liked it so much I was gonna wear it for the next 30 days; cue confused facial expressions) and went straight to the airport after, where I ended up riding down to the Mexican border with people doing the bike race.  This was a great way to start- man, the bike gang people were just sooooo chill.  Talking about stop offs at breweries.  Now, we are also speaking of some serious athletes, but the whole thing was more of a portable party, a moveable feast- rather than the negative dude-bro vibing fest that was on the PCT last year, and AT to a lesser extent.  I finally got to the hiker start (it’s different from where the bikers are- they get a nice, flat dirt road- we have a lil hill to go up and down).  Squeeze through the barbed wire, take a terrible selfie, head back up where I am surprised to see my first hiker already at sundown.  I go another mile or two, totalling only 6 miles, 4 actual trail miles with the 2 mile hike down to the border.  Pretty windy, but also an amazing view.  Not terrible with starting at 6-odd pm.

azt mexico outlook

The next day I finished the hike up Miller Peak, plodding my way up.  I meet another hiker at the lake where I get first trail magic- a beer and tangerine from the creators of the AZT 300/750 bike races.  Wow, this trail is great!  I’m not sure if it’s the beer or some wind, or just missing the sun for so long after a relatively snowy winter, I end up not deploying my umbrella as much as I’m wont to do.  I realize I’m starting to get burnt.

The next day my goal is to get to Patagonia by 4 to pick up my package.  I have like 19 or 20 miles, it’s flat tho…no big?  But I somehow get lost, only realizing this when this other hiker comes at me to tell me I’m going the wrong way.  Whaaa?  We both end up racing to Patagonia, trying for a hitch to save the 1.5 mile roadwalk which we won’t make in the 10 minutes we have until the PO closes.  We get to town at 4:06 and bless them, the post office lets me pick up my package.  I look like a wild woman, my arms/face are totally red, and also I am dripping ants I got all over my pack somehow?  We go to the Velvet Elvis where after a bathroom break I return to find the other hiker is quitting.  He has hiked the PCT and AT before, hiking today the same rate as me, but he’s done.  Wow.  Well, it is kinda hot?  IDK.  I force myself to do the roadwalk back to the trail, another 7 miles I plod that night.  28 on day 2, yay!  Almost back on schedule (was a few miles behind since we got to the border late) But then I kill it all by getting lost on day 4, I waste 2+ hours, I Just Can’t, so go back to the place where I’d made my error and there’s a water source, and siesta for several hours as ATV’ers and bikers roll by, asking if I’m ok.  Ugh.  I listen to an audiobook on emotional IQ and meditate a couple times.  Then a mile after I start hiking two prongs on my umbrella break.  I fix it sorta but it’s not functional in the wind.  Between this and lobster arms I hike the next few days pretty much only between 4pm and 11 am.  Full-on vampire mode, this mostly sucks.

azt long sleeve shirt with orbs

It’s not until Tuscon where I’m able to get a cotton long-sleeved shirt, which is actually something I’ve never worn before.  It’s pretty sweet.  I learn that the other hiker from near the lake, as well as the girl I saw camped at sundown the first day, also got off trail due to heat exhaustion.  Droppin like flies!  I take a double zero there in the 100F heat, consider even quitting, meanwhile chill with two of my friends from acupuncture school, as well as buying a sweet thrift store dress for my friend’s upcoming wedding.  I also turn my phone data back on, where I have a short text conversation with this guy I’ve been seeing…in a kinda ambiguous situation.  The sorta one with missed timing and being friends and colleagues and it could just be a temporary-but-healthy-experience-in-relationships-thing (what I assumed was most likely), or being-used-just-as-a-body-with-a-pulse-and-appropriate-anatomy-thing, or maybe even this-could-be-an-unexpectedly-good-thing-for-a-while-thing.  Sigh, now in the future I’m unhappy to report that it was actually number 2 it seems…as that lil exchange was the last one before he ghosted both me and most of our mutual friends.  I guess Universe tho is clearing out space for someone who is down to party with the Daichovo D for reals?  At this time tho I was trying to just do my thing, which involved apparently hiking 30ish miles a day amidst cholla and saguaros to 90s rap/hip hop and MBMBaM podcasts, thinking about what’s been said and unsaid, of how my life even came to be the way it is…bit of gratitude too.

azt goin up mt lemmon

I head up Mt Lemmon on a day with a windstorm- oh well!  At least I have long sleeves.  It takes all day, but I’m rewarded with 1. seeing some other hikers a few miles before the top 2. general store with potato chips and ice cream 3. heated bathroom with outlets that I sleep in overnight.  Yayyyyy!  I see a biker the next day after passing through the INSANELY windy Oracle Ridge, chill with her for a while.  She gives me half an avocado which I trade for a kale larabar, I think I won that exchange.  I hear that Kodak of KCHBR insta-fame is right behind me, which I’ve heard for a couple days.  Maybe I’ll meet him?  Would be cool to get info on Sierra route hiking as I’m planning to do the SHR this summer.  I end up going into Oracle which was sorta dumb in that I wasted half a day hiking and I’d had pretty good energy- but hey!  Ended up getting my period, I went to bed super early, and Marnie @ Chalet Village Hotel is one of the best people I’ve ever met on trails.  Highly recommended!

azt above ripsey wash

Still not many hikers!  I finally saw some on the day with Ripsey wash- 3 GET hikers named 42, Last Call, and One Gallon.  I stop to talk to One Gallon for a good while, not realizing that he’s a hiker legend!  Super cool dude, and I found out much later reading something or other on the internets, that he’s a triple triple crown hiker? Whhhattt.  This is what I want to get out of hiking- not the achievement, but that zen thing of just being chill, not giving a dayum, no ego or at least way less than I have.  I still have this competitive thing about me that wants to Acheive, which can be healthy and for sure has let me have amazing, amazing life experiences, but it’s impossible to separate this completely with the whole Not Good Enough/Not Measuring Up program I have installed from my upbringing…nurtured with good ol’ Catholic guilt trips…come into full fruition with 6 years in studying classical music in university and more years tryin’a gig and audition and get somewhere.  And I didn’t even have that crazy of a time, many people I know suffered way worse.  Well, that’s what I’m out here for.  Getting my body tuned up, and my mind tuned up.

Yo!  Speaking of this- if you’re reading this far and forgot – my poems this hike I think were really good, check ’em out @haikuhikes .  They are super positive mostly compared to the negatively-tinged drivel here.  I guess I still had a lot of hope about life and that situationship or whatevs.  Maybe it’s the real me?  Who even knows.

I don’t see any other hikers after the GET peeps for a while.  One night I get spooked out after 32 miles when I’m about to camp with 3 sets of green eyes in the not-too-far distance.  Oh, man?  WTF.  I am yelling at them and putting poles over my head and blasting Shake Ya Ass (but WHATCH yo’self) by Mystikal for a half hour.  They come slightly forward.  Two of the sets of eyes seem smaller.  Is this a curious mountain lion or bobcat family.  Whyyyyyyy.    I heard there was bobcats in this section.  Finally I give up and get down in elevation a little, camp under a juniper where I think I see a black widow.  Don’t give AF.

The next morning I see three white-tailed deer staring down at me from the top of the hill.

 

I get to the Gila river crossing near Kearny.  The construction crew dudes point out where the water faucet is, then try to get me to stop hiking due to the rabid bobcat on trail.  Great.  They tell me it’s super unwise to proceed 1. by myself 2. without a gun.  They can’t believe I don’t have a gun, and I explain that no thru-hikers carry one.  Shit, I don’t even carry a knife.  Just out of principle (tho I have recently acquired a titanium mini-scissors, I’m ballin).  The next 10 or so miles which seem like they should be really easy, they’re mostly flat, just really take a lot out of me.  It’s not even crazy hot I think, but I’m draaaaaagggging.  Also I see a whole lot of bobcat prints.  Yeah.  I take an hour break at the last Gila river access point where I get some nasty silty water and see a dead fox across the way and have an impromptu sexy boudoir selfie shoot with cows in the background.

azt sexy shots dress

Around 5 or 6 it’s time to make the climb up to this last mountainy ridge before Superior.  I start blaring Moon Hooch on the speaker of my phone (sorta stopped using headphones mostly, I haven’t seen many hikers on trail).  The cows freak out which is hilarious to me since they don’t go off trail, they just keep going on the track.  Also, because Moo Hooch.  Also, because Cattle Dance Party.  I heard them in October when they played along with Too Many Zooz on a show I played.  I missed the chance to sit in because it was like 4 days since I came back from the PCT and after our set w/WPO and then a good 20-30 min of dancin-out to Moon Zooz I just reached capacity overload and had to split.  So I’ve been listening to them a lot this hike.  I have this vague idea I want to make a brasshouse band like that but I really don’t know what form it will take yet.

It starts to spit rain a lil after I set up camp so I put up my tarp for the first time all trip.  Windy AF, it came down in part.  I need to get better stakes.  And/or be better about site selection, even if weather seems good.  What will I do on a more remote route?

azt desert twilight

Superior is kinda amazing.  I try to hitch for an hour before calling the local hotel which has info for a trail angel who gives rides.  She is a lil crazy and I’m not 100% convinced she’s not living out of her van (no judgement!  been there) but she gives me a ride into town, and I ask if she can give me a ride later back to the trail.  Sweet.  I eat at the place in town where I strike up conversation with some people from Australia who are interested in my pack- they can tell I’m a hiker (yay!  this like, never happens, between my dress and UL setup) but confused how I’m fitting all my stuff in my pack.  I also make friends with this retired lady and her daughter with whom we discuss changes in the city of Aspen, CO (I lived/worked there for a summer about 10 yrs ago, and they used to live there), as well as UFO sightings and communicating with orcas.

I charge things and then also get a decent cup of coffee at this other cafe which is a totally different vibe.  The lady who runs it has a husband with terminal cancer, you can tell that she’s doing this just to get a break and be social.  Kinda has her shit together with feminine wiles, all these dudes comin in with obvious crushes on her- even at age 70 you can see she has her game.  Local photographers, biker dudes, rando people passing by.  Not tryin for it, but just nice, and sweet, and put together.  I try to learn something from this.  Dudes don’t approach me super often- not so much a big deal, as I usually never like anyone until I know them a while anyway, but it is annoying sometimes to see people I’m with chatted up and I’m ignored.  I think part of it is I have RBF- resting blah face.  I look bored or something.  Growing up I was always the person people told to smile.  Which made me smile less.  I just note these things more now that I’m in and out of civilization a lot these days.

I make a push over the next couple days and manage to get to Payson in order to meet my buddy Dan from acupuncture school who takes me into town to resupply (whoops!  missed the post office before it closed) and get Thai food.  I wish I knew that we were both wandering weirdos when we were in school- oh well.  Super cool to reconnect tho.  I mention a possible plan to meet up and try some fungi over the summer, something that seems to be coming up a lot for me recently, and I’m interested in as a way to work out some mental issues that there’s been increasing positive research on.

Somewhere in the next section I meet two AZT hikers!  Yay!  They are Shaun and Crusty, and are super cool.  Hiker frens!  I decide not to camp with them tho, it’s like 6pm which is super early.  I punch out another few miles, but see them again the next am because they got up early.  We end up hiking together all the way to Pine.  Shaun is 28, an ex-bari sax player from NYC who got caught up in the scene, and hiking has been a huge part of his recovery.  We both are chatting non-stop about thru hikes (we were on AT and PCT same years), the musical-name-game, and other rando stuff.  Oh, also about that rabid bobcat, which apparently was legit, and actually bit a hiker a few days before me.  Cripes.  Crusty is 19, super quiet, but very chill.  Out hiking trails at this age, not having bought into the collage industrial complex, doin her thing with quiet self-confidence!  I wish I had my shit that together at my age of 36 even.  We roll into Pine where we learn THAT brewery has stopped renting a cabin to thru hikers, as of, today. WTF.  We focus on eating things and resupply before finding a place to stay, and then learn there is nowhere to stay, no one is returning calls, or it’s booked, or no way to get there.  Finally THAT lets us sleep on the volleyball court with promise we are out early in the morning.  Thank you guys!!!

The next day I really like the idea of taking a shower, I’ve only taken 1 in over 2 weeks at this point.  We get breakfast and charge, finally the winery folks call us back and they can pick us up and let us shower and charge things!  We buy ocotillo flower wine and plum wine and I have a few beers from the brewers, we get pretty buzzed while eating thawed out chicken fun nuggets, listening to crazy sax music and watching Judy Tenuta vids and writing poems.  Ray from the winery said he’d be back around 3 but actually it takes later and we’re not on trail until well after 6…um, we don’t even care at this point.  Thanks for the shower!  Yo- hikers, stay here in Pine in their awesome yurt.  But call earlier than like 7pm like we did- whoops.

We hike together again the next day but then I lose them, make a plan to meet up after like 30 miles, but I don’t see them?  I think they went off trail a mile to this ranger station with water and chargers, we just charged, it’s 8:30pm, F that.  I’ll prolly see them the next day, but I never do again.  Kinda bummed.

azt some cool clouds near flag

Anyway this all is on my mind as I head into Flag where I hope I can get some vittles, and a ride up to the Grand Canyon.  I decided not to repeat the other section, as I hiked it within the last couple months, and I’m short on time.  I get a ride with a dude and his two sons who I read about in Wired’s blog of the Sierra High Route, which I’m hiking later this summer.  He’s friends with Rockin’ who is a bada$$ hiker whose home range is the Sierras.  They even buy me a beer when we get up to the GC!  I also buy a slightly overpriced pizza.  I can’t eat much then, but it makes an amazing breakfast the next day.

I’m able to get a permit for Cottonwood camp finally at 10am the next day.  Woot!  Time to hit the south Kaibab trail.  I make friends with a lady on the bus from Tuscon and we leapfrog each other down the incredibly windy trail.  Yeah, this place is enough to make me forget all that dude nonsense, for sure!  Just a place of awe, of communion with humanity.  I’m the sort of person that doesn’t often read books twice, visit the same place over and over, but I for sure want to come here again and again.  Just one of those places.  The Eastern Sierras are another.  Just so stoked and freaking out and talking to rando people on the trail.  Sometimes I read or hear from hikers how they are annoyed by the masses.  Hey there Ed Abbey- I agree, but disagree!  When I see people who are just so amazed by all this Natureness, from all parts of the planet, I’m so happy.

azt view from south rim

azt me at gc

azt south kaibab

azt colorado

At Phantom Ranch I take a break to get out of the heat for a few hours- there’s a heat wave and I only have 7 miles to go.  A guy who leads hiking trips recognizes that I’m a “real hiker” and he buys me a beer.  My buddy from Tucson buys me a beer as well.  And I had already bought one, sooo…4pm drunk hikin outta the GC!  Niiiice.  I realize after about 100m I lost a pair of socks, um, oops, too lazy to turn around.  Sucks tho- the ones I have left have giant holes in them.  Also it’s supposed to snow maybe in next days?

23905641_10105884678359273_7923812436398310485_n

The next morning’s climb out to the North Rim is not all that bad, lotta wind and a bit cool when I stop, but very, very awesome.  So many redbuds, all in purple bloomin’ glory!  Up on the North Rim I see the first two rim-to-rim-to-rimmers of the day, they’s crazy!  It’s pretty windy and cold up top, I’ve got all my clothes on now.  Also I seem to have shin splints again for reals?  Ugh.  I hobble and hobble forward, since I want to avoid the snow and rain if at all possible.  Luckily this year there ain’t much snow north of the GC, it was a very dry winter.  Which means more fires, ugh.  Fingers crossed for yous guys.  I manage to get to Jacob Lake where I crash on the 2nd day and it rains at night (heard there was snow back closer to the GC).

The last day I manage to have a good breakfast and still get to the border at 6pm, even with taking a zillion photos.  Hey!  Um- why does no one talk about the last 3 miles to the UT border?  Some of the most spectacular hiking I’ve seen so far in Lyfe.  Gets me so stoked to do the Hayduke portion of the Vagabond Loop in hopefully spring 2020.  Rain forecasted again- it’s a lil cold and windy too, and all the campsites are taken – so I crash in one of the bathrooms.  Sorry guyz.  Like 3 days after I finished they put up an AZT end monument, just missed it!  All I found was a sign for state line campground, and a sign for leaving UT on the road into the camp.

azt redbuds

azt goin up north rim

azt vermillion

azt im smiling

azt state line az ut

The next day I have a permit for Coyote Buttes – it’s supposed to rain here – what to do?  I stick my thumb out thinking I will just hitch in whatever direction people are going.  I actually get a ride to the Buttes with two retired travellers who are super cool.  We explore together and it’s so amazing, and I feel really grateful to be doing it with other people.  It starts hail-snowing and we head back to the car after our little 5 or so mile loop.  A great way to end my AZT hike!

azt lil rock poops

azt coyote buttes some yellow

azt coyote buttes layers

azt coyote buttes snow

azt amazing tan line hand

You know what’s not great?  Trying to hitch for the next few hours.  I got back to Stateline Campground around 9am.  It’s snowing, then raining off and on.  I decide just to wait in the covered area by the bathrooms.  I hang out first with some Dutch travelers I met the day before, then with a lady named Sunshine hiking the Hayduke.  It’s her first real thru other than setting the FKT on the Annapurna Circuit a year or two ago…on pace to have one of fastest times for Hayduke also, wow.  She does a lot of endurance stuff like running, biking, climbing etc.  This after doing the corporate thing and being like, meh.  Oh, btw she’s like 32 and has done all this.  Super inspiring.

Hitching literally from inside my sleeping bag isn’t working super well, natch.  After a few hours I decide to take a ride up to the campground a mile or two north, where I’m told there’s better hitching.  Yeah, so this campground is super not protected from the wind and rain, at all.  Another hour goes by and I successfully plead for a ride to the main highway between Kanab, UT, and Page, AZ.  Another half hour, a ride to Paria outpost.  Then finally a ride to Page where I give up around 6:30 for burgers.  I book the Holiday Inn on points and hope I can get a ride the next day down to Flag.  This was my longest hitching ever!  Yikes.

I drag myself to the highway again near a gas station- at least it’s sunny today!  I make a sign and get a ride in 10 minutes.  Yeah, this is how it’s supposed to be.  The guy is heading all the way to Flag to find out from his laundry person, who has been incarcerated for beating up her ex boyfriend, where his clothes are.  Fuk yeah ‘mer’ka.

I check into the Grand Canyon hostel and meet Kodak!  It’s a lil awkward as it’s all like, yo, I know you but you don’t really know me?  I guess he’d heard of me somewhere along the grapevine.  I tell him of my plan to hit up goodwill for non-stinky clothes for the plane, he is super down.  We stop at this bike shop first to see if they can fix his bag, it takes forever tho and he is super prolonging his conversations with them, it’s pretty awkward.  While walking towards goodwill he realizes he should just ride there since his crashpad for the night is nearby.  I wait and have a beer at a bar.  Realize goodwill is closing in like 10.  That’s fine, I actually have the next day.  What annoys me is when I see Kodak come up, sorta look at me, and then sorta park his bike, then not, then just leave, without saying anything.  Um.  Another person I never see again!

Anyhoots- the next day I walk to Goodwill and it’s amazzzzing!  The first one is one-a those guys-a that weighs by the pound.  I get a pair of leggings, a satin set of pj’s, and a Mexican embroidered bag to put everything in for $1.50.  Then get a sexy bikini to attract Jersey Shore trash on beach forays at another thrift store down the street.

I go to the airport eventually and decide to celebrate by drinking throughout the way.  I’ve never done this before, somehow the underwhelming ending (hiking was amaze, but then no one really to celebrate with) and lingering hurt from ghosting, and going back to the grind.  But I get a couple nice poems pumped out, have a cool conversation with some workers in the PHX airport, listen to some Beyonce with them, it’s all good.  I’m pretty happy my next trip, even if it’s shorter, is just 2 months away.  At this point in my life I definitely still need this, even if I’m growing some roots I think.

Advertisements

Civilization load-up

At some point Grouse/Quickstart and I stop giggling like we’re at a sleepover, and actually get to sleep.  In the morning we chat with Chipmunk and Triple S who were in bed by the time she got in last night.  Maybe we’ll see them later that day?  We make tentative plans to get a beer together that night.

By the way, Grouse/Quickstart doesn’t want to be called either of those names, she went by those two and a third one that I never learned on the AT, she didn’t feel any of them fit, so time to start over.  We hitch a ride to town with an expat originally from Rhodesia in a sweet old green Ford.  We get dropped off at Ruby’s which is a recommendation we’d had; they pretty much have one type of breakfast- burritos- but hey!  I love Mexican food so yay.  I confuse them by getting no eggs but scrambled tofu with meat sausage.  Also I get hyped up on coffee, I think Grouse-Quickstart (this is really getting annoying, hey?  But I feel like I should not use real names to keep a ‘lil privacy?) is getting juiced too.  She seems pretty amenable to whatever and I think it’s ok for her to not necessarily hike right away since she’s been working?  So today is pretty much planned to be a zero.  She has a reservation for the hostel tonight, which is where her first resupply and poles are.  Hopefully I can get in there too.

I want to make boxes for Oregon at least, maybe even Washington.  I read about this amazing place called Shop ‘n’ Kart in Ashland on Carrot Quinn’s blog, I want to go out thataways. In the meantime we wander around town and look at vintage clothes for real life in thrift stores and wander the Co-op for overpriced health food stuff.  Eventually tho I need to get this resupply jawn done.  When looking on the map I see that Goodwill is also in the same shopping center, along with another discounty store that might have groceries.  At some point we head over.  It takes us a little while to get a hitch, but not TOO long.  Goodwill is not that great, I can’t find a dress, but I do find a (to me) super boring but ok teal athletic shirt and short black running shorts, something I have never ever worn in my life.  I don’t even understand this, I have never hiked in shorts before.

At Shop ‘n’ Kart I nearly have a heart attack at the underpriced healthy snack types, and decide I’m resupplying for not just Oregon, but also Washington.  I buy the entire stash of Pamela’s grain-free Ambition bars, like 50 or 60 of them.  I take a long time…is Grouse-Quick Start annoyed?  IDK, it seems like she’s grabbing things she wants and doesn’t need either.  I also stop in this other store that’s basically Kmart of the 2010’s and buy lots of almond M&M’s and licorice Scotty dogs.  I think I will like this?  Later I end up throwing all of them out.  Why do I always have too much food?

At some point we get back to the hostel, hang out with other hikers, go out to try to find the Germans, but they aren’t there, get dinner anyway.  I totally have hiker hunger and feel sheepish.  Ok, well at some point tomorrow we will hike!

What actually happens is not hiking for much of the day again.  Buy more things at Safeway.  Then get my new backpack from the post office and then mail all my boxes which takes some time.   Then ice cream because why not.  Then hitch to UPS because I remembered at the last minute Shelter Cove won’t accept USPS packages.  The lady who gives us the UPS hitch is awesome- she also gives us a ride to Callahan’s, where we promptly don’t start out for the trail, but eat spaghetti.  The owner offers us a ride to the trail (we missed like 1 mile, sue me) and then at maybe 7:30 we actually hike a mile before setting up in this super mosquito-ridden spot on the side of a meadow with some other hikers.  Oh well, better than nothing!  I do admit that I’m pretty relieved to not have to worry about resupply for the rest of my time, I 95% used maildrops on the AT, it was so much easier/stress-free than my mixed strategy so far on the PCT.

Ashland yiup

Haha another title I don’t even understand.

Today should be pretty good, looked like a nice downhill into town.  I hit a small patch of snow and that nice Sheep Spring within the first hour, where I saw some other hikers.  Of course they all passed me, oh well.  But then I was alone, except for the TONS of weekend dayhikers out to see wildflower wonderland.  I was too eager to get to town to take pics but it was great!  Except I kinda wanted someone to give me props for being a PCT hiker, but I think no one knew bc I wear a dress, and have a small-looking pack.  Ugh.  Even as dirty as I was which you could see in the border pic from yesterday.

I reaaaally wanted to get to town so started zooming on the downhill.  However, there were distractions!  About halfway I hit a perma-trail magic with a cooler full of sodas and a lounge chair!  Don’t mind if I do!  Also I had reception so I sent some txts to 2 of my friends.  Not really sure what the plan is for tonight, but I saw there was a hot springs and it was cheap and I luuuuurve hot springs.  There’s a hostel also but not sure if it’s booked.

Ok- resume zooming!  Except, again a distraction, there was a water faucet in another couple miles with a picnic table and again reception.  I don’t know why I was wanting to text today- maybe it was getting into Oregon?  IDK.  I ate jelly beans for way too long and finally set off again, maybe at like 3 or 4pm.  I got to the Callahan’s turn off path which was a lil sketch, but actually just fine- just a lot of overgrowth.  I learned later that a lot of hikers don’t do that alt bc HIKE EVERY SINGLE STEP ON THE PCT TO CANADA!  For me, oh pleaaaaase.  IDK, you do you, but don’t judge me.  I like my Adventure Time when I can take it thankyouverymuch.

When I got to the road Triple S and Chipmunk were there trying to hitch.  Yay!  They had already been to Callahan’s and said it was meh.  Also- the hostels were full, bummer- but luckily they were down with my hot springs idea. Yay, Europeans!  Other Amerikanski’s didn’t seem too thrilled by the hot springs.  I didn’t want to go straight there tho bc I was super hungry and wanted to get some shopping done if I could.  They already ate.

We managed to get a hitch from a friendly outdoor adventures type lady.  I called the hostels but they were both full, so made plans with the boys to meet at the hot springs later.  I asked if I could get dropped off in town.  Went into an outdoor store and bought a new canister, but couldn’t even concentrate for whatever else I needed so went downstairs to a Thai restaurant.  I had a huge bowl of Tom Kha AND Pad Kee Mao which tasted amazing but was way too much.  So I went outside and was trying to figure out what to do, I literally could not even sit up bc bloatathon.  Maybe there was some MSG going on, who knows.  Sometimes rice f’s me up too.  So I’m lying down on this park bench taking pictures of the hippies

20496570_10105504600687973_1461627753_n

bc I literally Can’t Even and then this lady is like, uh, are you ok?  Great, I am being mistaken for a homeless person.  Except, I’m not!  It’s a lady who works at Seiad Valley, who recognized me from 2 days ago.  She had just driven some hikers from SV up to Ashland who I guess were skipping?  I was really surprised how many people were trying to skip that section.  It was hot and a lil smoky, but not THAT bad.  Plus I think uphills are the Worst (most hikers think downhills are the Worst) but even I did it without a crazy amount of fuss.  U-du-U.  Anyway I guess the dress gave it away.

“My mom said, ‘Does that girl know she has a bunch of holes in the butt of her dress?’  I told her probably, and it likely doesn’t matter either way.”

Word.  Tho I was about to get a new outfit since there were additional holes higher up giving me slight pack sores.

Anyway she said she could give me a ride to the hot springs, which were located out of town, in about an hour.  I basically laid there digesting and then we were good to go.

The hot springs outside Ashland were pretty much the perfect way to get into the local vibe.  I got checked in by a dude with a giant straw hat with feathers in it, who was also wearing a t-shirt about medicinal mushrooms, and a sequined skirt (also no shoes).  He gave me the lowdown and then I went over to set up my campsite.  I saw Triple S’s and Chipmunk’s tents so setup near them.  The “hot springs” were just a big pool that was heated, not even that hot really, but I still dug.  I like to go nude usually at hot springs but it was a weekend and a billion people and co-ed, eh, meh.  To be honest a lot of people there who were subtly checking each other out, especially pervy old men and women.  I hate that so was glad I left sports bra and underwear on.  Eventually I got out, grabbed a sparkling water from the snack shop and then went over to my camp.  I saw that I’d gotten a text from Quickstart/Grouse, she was down to camp at hot springs!  Yay!  Finally she came and we spent first night cowboy camped and giggling and being silly, catching up.  I was very stoked to have a hiking partner for the first time really.  We will see if it works, I was nervous because her group was very fast, I caught up with them in towns mostly.

 

 

 

 

South of the Border

And north too, just barely.

In the morning I wanted to get up early-ish, get some miles done, and see if I could catch up to the Germans/definitely get into Oregon.  6-something?  I forget.  Definitely walking by 7.  Kinda ridgy walking and then down to some wetter areas with lotsa vegetation, some wildflowers, streams, etc.  I want to say I saw at least one of the Germans but just as they were leaving.  Manuel, meanwhile, was behind me, not even up when I’d left in the morning.  Only other thing I remember was listening to Deltron3030 like 4 times in a row.  I think there mighta been some Outkast too.

A bit different day, in the late afternoon there was even a marshy area.  Cool.  About a mile from the border there was a cabin just off-trail, but I was loosing steam and thought there was a good chance I was going to camp at the border for 25.7 mile day, I was a little zonked.  So I didn’t check.  The next day I found out from the Germans that there was trail magic- sodas and sandwiches!  Arrrrgh!  I shoulda checked, oh well.  In the meantime the mile uphill to the border, not even that steep, seemed like the worst thing ever.  I took a $hitty selfie, you’re welcome.

20507155_10105503320807863_3976999344769733981_o

Kinda grub-a-thon in this pic, I like it?  Dress was for sure on its last legs and I was looking forward to thrift store hunting with Grouse/Quickstart for a new one in Ashland.

Saw that I was only like a week behind Gourmet and Godongo, which was cool.  I remembered that Gourmet said she was going to go off trail maybe to hang with her bf.  Maybe I’d see them again?

Anyway I basically was looking at this point for the next campsite to call it a night.  Got to a road where there was a “campsite”- I usually am not super freaked about camping near civilization but this one had absolutely no shelter at all.  I sat there and cooked dinner and the wind picked up- nope.  Couple streamlets ahead I was hoping for something didn’t have a spot either.  Finally there was a nice area I want to say 2 miles from the border, it was a bit before Sheep Spring which was where I think the German guys had wanted to get to.  Really nice tentsites that I don’t think were on Guthook, not seeing them anyway.  It was a little early for me, maybe like 7, but I called it.  There was a group of guys who came later and seemed like they wanted to camp, but then I was already there…IDK.  I mean, I don’t care about sharing campsites.  But they parked themselves far away on the other side of the trail where there wasn’t anything really great (where I was there were like 5 tent sites).   Oh well not my problem.  Ashland tomorrow!!

AZT planning and moneys

Hey y’all…

Randomly motivated to spend a day doing online hiking types aka I don’t feel like going to a bunch of stores to do errands.  Does anyone else get this thing?  Maybe it’s just bc I’ve spent most of the last 5 yrs not with a permanent home.  I *love* these days where I can just lounge around and not do anything that requires me to leave the house/make any real effort to put myself together.  Not that that even matters as much here in Philly where the national costume is apparently sweatpants and a hoody, compared to when I was living in LA.  Also I think now I’m coming out of an almost (or actual?) period of depression, I feel like some fog has lifted, tho it just might be the weather is not so stinkin cold (low’s around 0F?  whyyyy)

Anyway- so I did mention somewhere on here I decided to do the AZT in April.  One thing I see a lot online, or hear from people I meet, is this perception it costs a lot to hike.  It totally doesn’t have to! I spent about $500 a month on the AT.  On the PCT I spent more, but I was kinda f’ed up after 7 months working on board a cruise ship, I just spent whatever I wanted without being budget at all.  With that sort of reckless spending I got closer to that $1000/mo thing thrown around.  I also eat a lot healthier than most hikers so it’s hard for me to understand how people eating cheap junky foods spend so much.  Anyway!  Not to judge, just to show the process of how you can hike cheaper.

Now that I rent my place out on airbnb I’m actually prolly going to profit by hiking (it’s suggesting prices of around $100/night in April)!  This is sort of hilarious to me.

Things that cost moneys:

I got airline miles for free/cheapish (yes, ways to do that):

11, 250 AA miles (you get a discount for having an AA credit card, got the miles as sign-up bonus $1 purchase/Barclaycard) PHL-TUS + $5.60 tax

Not sure where I’m flying back from yet- Page, St George, or Vegas, but it will either be 12,500 UA miles (got these for switching gas provider for 2 months, and a $1 Barron’s subscription) or 11,250 AA miles.  Plus the $5.60 tax.

So, only $13.20 (or $12.20 if I end up not using United for the return flight) all-in for flights.

I’m hoping my friend who lives in Tucson might be able to give me a ride to the border if she’s free and I throw in some gas money.  If not there’s shuttles or hitching.  $30-50?

I plan to do boxes in Patagonia, Summerhaven, and Superior for sure.  Payson has a Safeway and they have good options.  I can’t do a lot of the normal hiking foods due to food sensitivities.  Apparently the grocery store in Pine has instant refried beans?  I can cope with that.  I will resupply at a grocery store (Safeway or Whole Foods) in Flagstaff before skipping up to Tusayan where I left off the AZT in November, to meet with my friends. Hopefully that should get me to the border, but if not I can grab something (probably not as healthy) at either North Rim or Jacob Lake.  That last section is a little uncertain because it will depend on what I do at the end- just finish; go do Buckskin Gulch and/or the Wave.  I’ll find about about if I won the permit lottery Feb 1st.  Might add 1-2 days.  So, in summary: 3 medium USPS boxes = $40.80.  I was going to get the regional rate boxes and mail from Tucson but it’s not really worth the hassle for 3 drops.  I want to get some miles in the first day I hike also and it’s a big uphill slog.

I’ve gotten a few food items so far, and spent $30 for what I think is about half the food I need in 13 days.  I still need to buy jerky/sausage/etc, mashed potatoes/refried beans/rice noodles + tuna packets for dinners, oil, bars, chips.  Have nuts, oatmeal, electrolytes, matcha (!), fruit snacks, and couple misc stuff.  Basically good to go tho.  I will anticipate spending $200 for the month on food in total.

I don’t really plan to do many zeros this trail- basically only Tucson if my friend is around (should be) which will cost 0.  I don’t anticipate any others, might try to nearo into places like Flagstaff tho.  I do plan to stay at the hostel in Flag bc it’s a good place to get a ride up to Tusayan from, and centrally located.  I guess everything will depend on when I get there. For the end of the trail I’ll be leaving from a biggish town and using points.  So let’s say $100 for now for rando hotels/showering/whatevs along the way, but it very well be under $50.

Meals- this is where I really spent a lot of money last time.  I don’t want to spend as much this time so I will really try to keep an eye on it.  I’m going to guess $20/meal and 10 meals which should give me some leeway for a bonus $5 coffee/breakfast sorta thing, if I’m mostly doing $10-15 burger meals.  I am setting a goal not to drink in restaurants on trail unless someone buys it, or with the exception of That Brewery in Pine, coz it’s on trail basically and I’d like to try (tummy is ok for town extravagances if I am GF/DF on trail).  If I have a drink I’ll buy it in the grocery store.  I’d like to be loosing weight tho so not planning to drink much, usually I don’t like to when hiking anyway.

So my estimated total is right about at $600.  I feel like this will give me a lot of leeway as long as I’m reasonably budget-minded.

Seiad Valley Death March Uphill

The next morning we all get up at a reasonable time and start the slog.  I head out first bc I am prolly slower anyway.  Also, I really really want to try swimming-fording the Klamath in a neoair!  Which I read about on some blog.  IDK if that’s a good idea this year, what with all the rain, but it would be super fun to check it out.  Mostly today is a roadwalk, which is fine with me- I love roadwalks!  I am seriously the only idiot who is considering to hike the CDT mostly because I heard there’s a lot of roadwalks, and I love them.  Why do I hike opposite of everyone?  Anyway I get my jams on, and then my REAL jam on.  Oh, yeah.  All the blackberries in history ever are on this road and I stop eleventy billion times to eat all of them.  The Bigfoot crew passes me on the way and gives me a super stale cookie.  I feel bad but I can’t eat it, I toss it and trade for more blackberries.  Just as I get to the connection from one road to the bigger main road, where we will walk 2 miles up to a bridge and cross the Klamath, then 2 miles back, Chipmunk catches up.  I feel sheepish and don’t want to drag him into my sketchy river crossing adventure, I’m uncertain if he’s down for that.  We have another good chat.  I like talking to adults with brains and who have actual introspective qualities.  Have not been exposed to people like this in a looooong time, especially after working on the cruise ship last year, and hiker bros (male/female) of this year.  Talking to Chipmunk makes me realize I need to be more adult tho.  I feel like I haven’t worked through my dirt again.  I guess we all need to do it and it never ends, but still.

We get to the cafe where everyone is there ordering food.  Man, some of the best food on trail thus far- maybe a top 5 contender.  And, one of my major trail landmarks happens- I meet Optimistic Turtle!  OT aka the Original OT as I like to call her (very sideways reference to the best rapper of all time, obviously Ol’ Dirty Bastard) is I think maybe the most trail-famous person out here this year?  At least among hikers (lay people all talk about Dixie and I just don’t want to hear about it based on couple interactions and something that happened to a friend of mine out here…..anywhoooo)

Anyway when I find out it’s OT, and I’m like, “Yooooooooo!  OMG, I am a huge fan of your Guthook comments, you hooked us up with the only campsite in a couple miles/hours either side that night when we had the earthquake near Truckee”.  Yeah, this is totally not a way to scare people.  Anyway, we’re hikers, it’s all good, everyone laughs.  She is coming up with some complicated flip flopping plan and I’m like, yo- just hike north!  Stop flipping, it’s too confusing for everyone!  Again laughter.  I end up seeing OT quite a bit in Oregon as it turns out.  We also learn that there was 25 fires started by the storm 2 days back, that’s what all the smoke is.  It’s not on the PCT, at least not now.

As usual people are having a hard time leaving, there’s a little vortex bc as it turns out it’s stupid hot.  I’m looking back at the weather and it was around 100F.  So of course Triple S, Chipmunk, and I set out to climb like 12 miles uphill, at 12 noon.  We agree to just hike a little and stop at the first water which is maybe 2, 3? miles up, part of which is a roadwalk.  Just to break the vortex.

It’s just stupid hot, partially because there is still some humidity hanging out in the valley.  Chipmunk decides to push on at the spring.  Triple S and I hang for a while but after an hour or so he heads off too.  It’s just stupid hot tho, I just am not in the mood.  I finally head out around 3.  It’s pretty sunny and not a lot of cover.  I do like I did back at Castle Crags and eat jelly beans every half mile or so for the next two miles.  I put Miş Miş on repeat and try to figure out the lyrics, which are in Turkish, which is a language I don’t speak, at all.  Hope I don’t see a rattlesnake in all the brush near the trail.  It is just hot and there is a ton of smoke out in the distance, the whole sky is a haze.  I have a really good picture of this, but it’s on my phone which I broke after doing Mather pass later on in the Sierras.

I decide to say F this and stop at the next spring, which is located precariously, literally on the side of a rock wall, on a little side trail.  Who even found this water location?  There’s a big dead tree to provide some shade and I hang out here for a whole hour, cooking dinner and just cooling off.  Finally I get going and there is some really beautiful ridge hiking.  A couple hikers pass, guess they’ve places to go.  I plop myself on a saddle and enjoy the sunset.  I think about cowboy camping there but I don’t know I’m into the possible wind there.  I think this is the day I end up camping at Kangaroo Spring, a spring I didn’t end up actually finding (I didn’t need water anyway, I just wanted some windbreak).  Manuel is there and I think a little freaked out someone is setting up at like 9pm?  Whoops, sorry, that’s how I roll.

Hiking buds and bigfoot magic

20257935_10105485562425803_7572032269368040581_n

In the morning I wake up.  All the teeny hail/rain has dried up and it’s easy to stash my tarp (PS- that was the, what, like 5th time I’d set it up this summer?  3rd?).  I have a general order that I pack my stuff up and usually my spare trekking pole (the one not supporting my tarp) is the last one to go in my hand.  I grab it and immediately notice something is wrong.  It’s completely gnawed up.  WTH?  It was right next to my groundsheet while I was sleeping, I didn’t even see anything.  Ew.

Well, yet one more way my trekking poles don’t match each other (I broke one last year coming off of Dragon’s Tooth on the AT, which was a totally stupid place to be using poles- it’s more of a climby scrambly thing, and got an old model Fizan donated to me by a lovely trail angel).

There’s a small up I think then a down?  I lose Chipmunk on the up but I know probably he will be waiting up at the Marble Valley tentsite which was originally where I wanted to go; he usually takes breakfast a bit up the trail.  Lots of lush vegetation today!  I’m feel like I’m going in slow motion a little bit, it sounds like I wasn’t too far behind.  As we are taking a break another hiker comes up and tells us about his ordeal yesterday- he said he was at the camp around 4:30 when the storms blew in- he got hailed on twice, with golf-ball sized hail in the first storm!  I feel vindicated?

I forget a lot about today which I guess is understandable being that I’m writing it about 5 months after the fact.  One thing I noticed is that I’m only writing memories of what I did, but not so much about the inner life, the sudden realizations about life, about mental programs, etc that one has day to day on the trail.  I think when I hike next year I will try again to be more consistent, actually writing on trail at least some notes if not a full post.  Plus!  There’s like 3 blogs on the AZT.  So hopefully it could be useful to someone.  Anyway, maybe today was the day of epic wildflowers?  It might have also been the eriogonumists day tho.  I remember coming through this field on the side of a mountain and freaking out with all the flowers.

Hey!  Actually, in general- Northern California was super dope.  I feel like when I read trail accounts people were like, yo- desert is hard and dry and meh, just get thru it.  Sierras ARE THE BESTEST!  Oregon is Boregon.  Washington is a’ight.  Like, NoCal just didn’t even get mentioned at all.  But Hat Creek Rim was amazing, the Marbles are amazing, Castle Crags was amazing.  Even with monster period cramps!  Just sayin’.

Anyway at some point later in the day I catch up to Chipmunk who is kinda my hiking partner right now (miracle of miracles) and also Triple S who are both super cool German dudes.  Triple S wants to go to this campground 6 miles before Seiad Valley, we we can resupply and/or eat a giant breakfast at the cafe.  Chipmunk is real chill and accommodating of my turtleness.  I can see he wants to go tho I say tentatively let’s get to the next tentsite and see how we feel?  Coz it’s a big day, 31 miles if we do it all.  I can do that in the desert bc it’s more flat and heat is good for me but once there’s more climby stuff it’s harder.  For me anyway.  We get to one last tentsite by a bridge and pretty much do or die, there’s not anywhere else guaranteed to stop.  It’s humid as anything, where am I, the East coast?  Blegh.  Ok let’s do like 5 more.

This last section just sucks because three things are happening:

  1. There is some nasty fire somewhere and it’s actually a lil smoky and not great to breathe
  2. There are a lot of overgrown brambles.  Pretty much once we were out of the desert this year there was a ton of blowdowns, but this is more annoying overgrowth, encouraged by all the water this winter no doubt
  3. There are a million billion microhills in this section.  PUD-time!  Updownupdownupdownupdown

I keep up with Chipmunk the first mile or two but then lost him.  It gets pretty dark and I can barely see the stream I grab water from before the campsite.  But finally I get there and guuuuuessss what!  There is traiiiiil magiccccc!  We meet some triple-dipple hikers (what do you call hikers who have hiked everything?  IDK).  I am sorry I forget the other dude’s name, you gave me your business card (yes, he had a hiking business card), but I’m ultralight and trash stuff like that?  Wait, there’s the internets.  Ok!  His name was Wildcat and I see from his blog that the other guy’s name was Steady- which I recall now.  They were thru-hiking the Bigfoot Trail (which like 5 people had thru hiked so far).  They said in some sections of trail they were going like 1/4 mile an hour through totally overgrown brush.  Anyway they were super chill, and hanging out with one of their’s wife (PS apparently my grammar is out the window) who was resupplying them from an RV.  I actually didn’t get that she was 100% thrilled to be there?  Maybe she just thought they were nuts for wanting to do that.  I get that.  We’re all pretty nuts to be out there.

Anyway after a glass of Dewar’s (! seriously) and some conversation I padded off to my sleeping setup and passed out.  Seiad Valley tomorrow!  Almost in Oregon!

Franconia Ridge redux

The cafe in town is so sweet!  Good coffee, nice little sandwiches.  We all get seconds of everything.  This one dude heading SOBO that seems to have hit it off really well with Chipmunk is heading out, everyone is bummed since they have a really good connection.  Sorry I forgot your name, you were cool!  I think Chipmunk and I managed to break the vortex a little earlier than some others and decide to try to hike together.  He is a cool dude who is one of the only other people out here in mid 30s land (he was also 35 I think).  Kinda f’ed up since he came out here ready to mash miles from Sierra City to Canada (even tho his true love was biking)- his GF of 9 years was doing a thru and already did the Sierras- but when he got here she basically broke up with him immediately and was acting super irrationally.  They hiked for a couple days together then split up coz I guess she “needed” to do like 35s and 40s or whatever.  Hence, why when I first met Chipmunk he was drinking some beers at Drakesbad (she left him the day before).  Anyway with all this junk that just happened to him he was really a positive guy.  Really an inspiration.  I get too moody and complainy, I know.  Well, they say write what you know.  It’s what I know best, you know?  Whine and roses.

The trail is just soooooo awesome, each day better and better.  The wildflowers are on point, we are on this awesome ridge, views and flowers and granite everywhere.  At some point we sorta notice these clouds in the distance.  Then the sky gets darker.  And clouds are closer.  Then it starts to thunder and rain.  We are going up in elevation towards some sort of ridge, and I am starting to get really nervous.  He is cautious but not as nervous as me.

This is why.

Once upon a time, which was an actual time that once was upon, I was hiking the AT, in the Whites, coming up to Franconia Ridge, which as usual I didn’t know exactly what that was other than some sorta mountainy thing that was a bit exposed.  Storms in the Whites tend to come in the late afternoon.  I see my friends Badger, Grouse/Quickstart, and Round 2.  We discuss the day’s weather prediction- the storm is supposed to be around 3-4.  It’s like 12:30.  It’s bright and sunny.  There are 4 relatively easy miles to cover, maybe.  No problem.  Actually, I see now on the picture that cloud was kinda gnarly looking.  Whoops.13872750_10104247965664633_5634550180302158117_n.jpg

They get ahead of me and then I come out into the open, out from the forest, and start heading up the trail filled with dayhikers up towards Lafayette.  Within 15 minutes an electrical storm has blown in.  Thunder and rain on me, lightning on nearby ridges.  There is nowhere to hide and the slickrock is slick.  I know there is a side trail somewhere to a hut a mile off trail but I miss the turn anyway.  Finally I get into a forested area just as it lets up for a bit.  Get another mile or so out of the way before the downpour really starts in earnest.  I know we are not supposed to stop and “stealth camp” that early but fuck it, this weather sucks.  I set up at like 3:30 for the night and do the super steep Mt Garfield in the morning.  I later find out Round 2 also missed the turn, and that Badger and Grouse/Quickstart DID take the side trail, which was crazy steep and bouldery, and were in really bad moods since both didn’t agree upon it.

Anyway I swore I wouldn’t let that happen to me again if I could help it, so all this was going through my head as we headed up into a forest of dead trees.  Eventually we came out on a ridge again and there were at least patches of trail with tree cover.  The storms were threatening, but confusing.  We saw another hiker with his tarp pitched at the last of some trees.  We decide to push on to a campsite in our app.

When we get there we’ve done like 20 miles.  There was a campsite in 5 more that originally I was more into getting to than Chipmunk, but I don’t have a great feeling about this and want to stop.  I say let’s at least eat dinner first and decide.  Chipmunk is kinda up for going some more, especially when the other hiker who we saw with the tarp- Triple S (Super Sonic Seahawk) comes up and hangs out for a few.  Ugh, I *want* to go, but I also don’t.  It ends up starting to rain and mini-hail or freezing rain for a bit later on, though I guess not really that bad?  I feel ok with the decision for me but I hate that once again I’ve slowed people down.  What can I do.

 

A not great day plus a gradually better one

Well, actually it STARTS out pretty good.  Beautiful sunup, nice cruising trail on a ridge.  I’m feeling ok at first for a few miles, until I’m not.  My leg was a little stiff yesterday, it’s even more stiff.  And starting to be stabby.  In the other leg too.  Uggggh.  I start to slow down, long legs passes me.  I go to change my pad again and realize I’ve blown through a whole pack (guess there were only 10 in it) in just over 2 days.  Nonononono.  I don’t even know what I’m going to do, the one I’m wearing is already full.  I met a group of girls who are thru hiking together with a dog that just joined them recently, that’s cool.  They don’t have a stash.  I let them push ahead.  By this time I know what I’m going to have to do- hitch into town (luckily there is a road in a few miles) and resupply my ‘snatch.  Ughhhhh.  In such a crappy mood.

I also feel super embarrassed about this and since they are all dudes up behind I really am not in the mood to explain to them that I’m getting off trail for a minute to deal with my metrorrhagia.  So I try to hitch but keep an eye on the trail behind so that when someone comes by I act like I’m just taking a break.  A real low point.

I do manage to get a ride after about half an hour tho.  Get some pads @ gas station.  Get a microwave burrito.  Mope.  Get back on the trail and end up night hiking.  Not a good day.

The next day is really beautiful but I am just not into it which is a shame, bc it’s the Trinity Alps!  I got up early, I’m a little sleep-deprived, I just want to get into town.  I manage to get there just as the post office is closing, which is a good thing bc my replacement gaiters are there (I somehow lost one all the way back in Bishop) and a new charger!!!  I do a kinda lousy resupply at the grocery store/dollar store, I have ramen this time which I am not happy about even though they taste good- I try to limit wheat/dairy to trail magic + towns only.  But there isn’t much else to eat, the potatoes were all cheesy ones.  Get some food, a lil better.  See some hikers enroute to the town camp, better still, there’s a ton of blackberries on the way to the camp, okay okay.  I see Chipmunk and some other people I know, Chipmunk and I decide we want to grab coffee the next morning, but head out earlyish.  He had tried to hitch out and couldn’t get a ride and we heard it’s easy to get one in town the next day, people come to the coffee shop to see if anyone needs a ride.  I shower and charge up and it’s time for bed.

Super-stoker eriogonumists

Today is another day of a whole lot of beauty.  Maybe one of the best days on the PCT so far- a couple totally different environments.  The morning is, well, I guess craggy.  Granite and bushy little plants I don’t know the names of and spruces.  I see deer a couple times on trail.  I stop a couple times in the morning because it looks like period has picked up with a vengeance- what is going on?  Ugh.  At least as it warms up and I get 10, then 12, then 17 (!) miles in before lunch the cramp part is dying down.  I meet some other hikers up the trail who had left camp before me as they are stopped- one is repeating the trail which he hiked 40 years ago!  yikes.  Of course a big, “it’s so much easier now, back when I was a kid….blah blah blah”.  Ok.  I get it, we have a lot more infrastructure.  I guess you really can say it IS easier now.  We know this.  You don’t have to rub it in.  Everyone else in the group is talking about going up to this lake in a few miles for lunch.  I’m like, borderline hangry, but see if I can make it, even though it would be 20 miles without a decent-sized stop for me.  Push by a water source that’s dry and another that’s meh that were my original lunch stop ideas, finally there is water like 16 or 17 miles into my day and I set up my ground cloth in a really sketchy spot right next to the trail and by a big slope.  Don’t care have to take a break.

I get to the trail after everyone else has long passed (if they weren’t already ahead).  I don’t see them when I get to the lake anyway.  Ugh.  I later learn that they were there but way off to the side, and that some of them just stopped for the day.  Well, it WAS pretty sweet but I wanted to get to Ashland in like a week in time to meet/hike with my friend.

Keep going.

I passed some pretty cool lakes and though I was tempted to stay, I was feeling better and wanted to keep pushing.  Got to a trailhead around 4 and there were tons of cars and people wandering around!  Whaaaaa?  Yes, that’s right.  The International Eriogonum Society was in town.  Freaking out about all the wildflowers out and about this year after the heavy winter.  Apparently all over the West wildflowers that they’d never seen before were growing all over the place.  Anyway these botanists had come from all over the world to check it out.

Here are some fun facts I learned:

  • Eriogonums are the “true” buckwheats (I dispute this fact but these guys were real passionate-like)
  • Eriogonums are so named for their wooly/hairy (erion) joints (gonu-)
  • Eriogonums are found only in North America, specifically the West.
  • When Eriogonum flowers are pollinated, they start to turn from a white color to a more yellow, and gradually red color.
  • They grow in harsh arid environments, like deserts and dry mountains with crappy soils.
  • Butterflies love Eriogonums!  So much that sometimes they eats them (the caterpillars)
  • There’s more than 250 species of Eriogonums!

I was really into this but the guy didn’t seem to appreciate my level of interest despite mentioning I used to be in environmental science.  Later on one of the girls I met earlier in the day came by.  She mentioned she was a range ecologist.  Well, she also was young and beautiful, 6 feet tall with long blond hair.  She didn’t seem super into those guys at the time but once I spoke up the guy started talking with her animatedly.  I decided to leave since I’d been there a bit and they were ignoring me at that point anyway.  A couple hours later she caught up and told me they invited her to hang out with them tomorrow!  I mean, I guess I was on a schedule but I was still jealous.

The land changed to some really arid landscapes, almost desert like.  The soil got very orange, red even with my sunglasses.  Suuuuper cool.  One of the guys from yesterday passed me but then set up camp and was in his tent by the time I got to his camp.  He was parked at maybe 5:30pm!  Too early!  I hiked a bit more and that was when the girl Long Legs caught up with me.  She really was quite sweet despite my stupid “getting passed over” program being activated again.  I found out a bit about what a range scientist is (basically an ecologist who works in land that’s at least 50% open rangelands), there are only 5 programs in the country for it.  She said she’s just been floating around from job to job- she could get something better paying/stable whenever she wanted, but she was having “too much fun” doing all these different USFS gigs.  Super cool but again my program was tweaked- why can’t I ever find something rewarding like that?  I haven’t been hired for a job that wasn’t a gimme, and that they would take ANYONE for, in 8-9 years at least.  And those jobs sucked.  I’ve probably applied for about 100 USFS/USGS jobs over the years (yes, I do have a degree in Environmental Geology, with concentration in water/wetlands management) and never have even gotten a letter back.  Regrets about things I can’t control popping up.  Ugh get over it.

She passes me, cruising along without using trekking poles.  I do at least manage to get to the saddle we’re shooting for not too long after her.  My 31 mile day is dimmed by the 36 she just did.  Sigh.  At least there’s a lil spring, and a great sunset.  Need to take THAT part more seriously and all the rest a bit less.