The Over The Hill Adventure – a year of mini thru hikes

Yooooooo the 3 people that read this!

It’s 2021, we are all still here!

What even has been my life the last few years since I wrote. I moved out of my old place, lots of fun but also drama. Started dating this dood that is awesome and then we got engaged and THEN we got married? Got some better job opportunities and started saving money and opened up retirement accounts even (I did not know these even existed before about 2 years ago). Moved to the burbs. Bought a car.

And oh yeah, the planet is a mess between covid and politics and climate change. Yeah.

Anyway, hashtag-adulting real hard over here. I turned 40 and got married a few days later, time to check my head. And body. My routines have gotten messed up in the last couple years- no more biking/walking everywhere, I have to drive. Yoga type places mostly closed, IDK, I never got the hang of doin stuff at home during the pandemic. I started working a lot more, at one point last year was working at 5 offices (I’m in healthcare, not critical care but it was still tough) and also doin music gigz. Not a lot of time for adventuring even if that was possible in the same way as in the Before Times. And of course wedding planning, which in a pandemic year definitely was stressful.

I’m on the other side now mostly intact and grateful fo shou but I really want to reset myself. So I’ve come up with this plan: a year of mini hiking adventures. I want to try to do one thing a month. I’m hoping I can find my center a bit in doing so, give my whole self a tune-up.

My first trail is this weekend, looking forward to giving a write-up after it’s over (if I survive….lol!)

That one time my backpack fell apart…a PSA by Haiku


Getting closer and closer to go time for the Sierra High Route…I had to cancel a training hike out in CO/UT because like the whole southwest corner of CO was on fire and they closed a whole national forest?  Guess it’s open again but I had to make a decision.  In retrospect prolly not the best training hike anyway- over super deserty stuff mostly and not so much bouldering types, tho I was gonna do big miles at least.

Then my buddy from my band said, hey, you wanna do the High Peaks traverse with me?  I checked it out, I knew nothing of the Adirondacks except that they were a thing in NY.  They are the only mountainy thing on the East coast that’s not part of the Appalachians, but rather the Canadian Shield, did u know?  It looked like there were a few scrambly things so I was like, gold, this is great.

He came up with a plan entitled “High Peaks Tripping” because, yeah.  Anyway he had to bail since he got a sweet gig in Philly, so the tripping was up to me.  And only the high peaks part of the trip, since I wanted some supervision for the other uncharted territory (for me) and didn’t want to go it alone.

So the Great Range Trail gets increasingly gnar and I didn’t know there would be a couple spots where I’d have to either pass down a pack or throw it down, there’s 2-3 chute-y 10 foot ledge-y drops.  I did this twice and well, you can see for yourself.  Whoops.


I acknowledge it was kinda my fault but still i feel like 2500 miles is too early for a pack to be totalled (original seams ripped just from normal wear/tear NOT dropping it 10 feet)…sooooo…IDK.

There wasn’t a good spot to stop and eat something/stop freaking out/come up with a better packing plan plus the bear can was ripping it more, so i just safety pinned it together and descended Saddleback/climbed Basin shoving the bear can onto ledges and then scrambling. Yoy.

I was just done at the top and luckily there was a little spot big enough for my pad among some trees blocking the wind on Basin.  The next day was rough and I was in no hurry, having decided to abandon the route, so dicked around reading fantasy novels on my phone, making update vids, and eating things to make my pack lighter.  Well, you win some, you loose some.

My bad.

So like over 2 months’ worth of PCT rn okay go


It’s time to put this at rest…blogging for the PCT.  Reminded about this because I hung out with Whatever who hiked Oregon with me- I never finished this, it’s about time.  I love reading other hikers’ blogs and wanted to pay it forward a bit but…it’s hard!  I have a newfound respect for sure for those hikers that indulge.  I got super burnt out by the PCT and by the PCT I mean the whole culture of many of the people I met on the trail.  What I call the dude-brah phenomenon.

For those who nerd out and read about hikers, over the winter there was this whole to-do about “toxic masculinity” on the trail.  IDK, I think that words are powerful and they’s more fighting than healing words…I prefer to call it the dude-brah phenonmenon.  The dude-brah phenomenon is certainly not limited to those of the male persuasion, at least not what I witnessed (tho for sure, I definitely saw it more amongst guys, but there were more guys…IDK).  I started to witness even in the desert, it picked up a notch going into the Sierras, where I got off and hung in Bishop a few days to rest which is also where everyone was freaking out/being judgmental/being judged by if you did/did not go through at that time…HYOH was SOOOO discouraged last year and that was super f’ed up.  LEGITIMATELY PEOPLE DIED, HELLLOOOOO.  Let me remind y’all once again about Haiku’s #1 rule of thru-hiking: Don’t die.

I escaped these people for a bit when I skipped to Truckee and an area I felt more safe tackling, then when some of the early Sierra people started filtering through it came back full force.  I actually had on multiple occasions someone say, oh, you skipped Sierras and are coming back later?  Have fun on your section hike.  Whaaaa?  I don’t even know what to say, but this is not the type of camaraderie I’d like to be around.

I did meet some cool people tho as well coming into Oregon, especially the two Germans Chipmunk and Triple S.  I’m not sure if it’s because they were older as well.  My buddy Grouse/Quick Start from the AT joined me there.  The first day we actually got on trail (we dicked around in Ashland for 2 days first, haha) we managed a 30, as well as a momentarily sketchy side-trail adventure (already losing points with the purists club, well, F you, we had burgers and free beer), we were over it.  Since it was a heat wave (it hit 114 in Ashland a day or two later) and also sections were starting to get closed due to fires, we decided f it, 25ish/day is fine, let’s take 4 hour siestas by lakes.  Or trail magic with Cold Drinks.  During this time Grouse/Quick Start found her new name (she didn’t like her old names)…in trying to describe herself to other hikers, she was like, “You can call me whatever”…so obviously this became her name (Whatever).  Hahaha.  Classic.

The dude-brahs were a drag tho.  Example 1: Shelter Cove, all these dude-brahs bragging about how fast they are going and stuff they went through trying to outdo everyone else.  I’m standing in line at the grill talking to someone behind me, I feel someone bump into me.  My reaction is to push hands out, which land on a hiker who keels forward into the ledge, then sideways onto the ground.  Just straight passes out.  He came to right away but it was a heart-stopping moment for a sec.  Until he goes: “Huh uh…hey, yeah, so I’m probably low on electrolytes, I ran 20 miles here this morning in 3 hours…yuk yuk yuk.”  I mean, this guy actually just put his health at risk, and people are no lie, giving him high-fives.  Does anyone else think this is just terrible, or is it only me?

Soon after there’s another guy from this crew, an older dude trying to relieve his youth hiking with a pack of younger hikers.  He takes a break at a lake where Whatever and I have decided to siesta for a couple hours.  He makes some comments about how there’s no way he could siesta like we are, he’d just be thinking about how many miles he could have hiked during that time.  Riiiight.  He starts yammering about the Sierras and starts to grill me about it…I can tell he is about to be super judgmental about me skipping to do it at the end of the season by his other comments, I don’t even want to deal.  I say the Sierras were fine.  Which they were.  I hadn’t done much of them yet.  Imagine whatever you want dude, my hike isn’t your business.

Soon another older gent comes by and they start getting into this competition, as I guess only old dads can do, about the accomplishments of their sons.  “Well you know, my son just finished his post-doc in medical research…delayed his entry into the workforce you know, but starting at a salary of $200k a year isn’t too bad”…”Oh yeah, I know what you mean.  My son knew he wanted to be an engineer at age 5, so he accelerated his courses and had his doctorate by age 22”.  Yada yada yada.

Whatever comes over and shows me her phone.  On it she has typed: “These dudes suck.  Can we leave?”

We cut our siesta short by 2 hours (including not swimming as we’d planned and hike on.   I parody the dads.  “Well you know, my son’s so advanced, he actually lives in the future.  It’s been a little difficult for me on the trail, but not too bad.  I actually have stage 5 testicular cancer, but I’m managing.  Explains why my balls are bigger than yours tho.”

As soon as I say this we immediately have to take a pee break mid-trail.  It’s just too much.

Later we see two super cool hikers, Gutenberg (she’s a printer and has block-type tattoos floating up her arm, so cool) and JC (Jesus Christ, named for his sandals).  They’re sitting in the middle of a burn section by a tree.  “We have service here!”.  Ok!  Resume siesta.  Shit!  Then I spy that dude coming like gangbusters again.  We hear him yelling up to us.  “We have to lose him!”  I shout.  Whatever wants to get water just off trail at a lake so we hope we can hide and he’ll just pass us.  Then we hear him shouting at us asking if we see any girl packs.  Um, seriously WTF?  I’m like, yo, what’s a girl pack?  And he’s like you know, it’s smaller, some other nonsense.  I say there is actually not any discernible difference between a woman’s pack and a man’s…if he’s talking about why MY pack is small, it’s because I’m ultralight and my base is tiny, I don’t need a lot of room.  He gets angry and says he’s saying it because he found a girls’ rain jacket on trail and is trying to return it.  Oh yeah?  How does he know it’s a woman’s?  “Well, it’s pink.”

Y’all wanna slap anyone yet?  We decide to rename him Girl-Packs.

The trail gets closed at Fish Lake right after we pass through and as we are coming into Crater Lake there’s tons of smoke.  We apparently (along with a few other hikers) got on the wrong trail a few miles before, and the fire was about a mile west of that.  Neat.  When we got to the highway signs were posted that the trail we were just on, and north of there was closed…as was the alternate on the Rim.  The dude-brah purists decide to hike on the highway that has no shoulder and cars zipping by at 60mph…um, no thanks.  After a night and most of another day trying to figure out what to do, this trail angel gives us a ride to Diamond Lake where 4 of us girls just chill.  So much better.

I think actually Shelter Cove was after this part…few days later we opt to go into Bend, a town we both wanted to check out.  More issues with fires ahead, it’s still hot (Whatever is a lil less heat tolerant than I), tons of burn sections, it’s just kinda meh out here.  But Bend has fancy coffee shops and eateries (Wild Rose Northern Thai Eats is actually the best Thai restaurant I’ve ever been to outside of Thailand, primo and 100% authentic!).  We hitch back to the trail but then realize the guy is giving us a ride to Highway 20, instead of Highway 242.  The trail is closed north of Highway 20 anyway.  ugh.  Well, we hike like 2 super flat and pleasant hours to Big Lake Youth Camp, which is where we wanted to get anyway that night, for the buffet.  It’s a good thing we did, since it’s the last night for it apparently.  Rides around the huge Jefferson fire closure seem to be offered mainly here, it would have been difficult to get one at Hwy 20/Santiam Pass anyway.  A guy named Maverick might be able to get us a ride the day after next, but we manage to snag one from this other dude for the next day, along with a couple French hikers.

Ollallie Lake is a pretty remote place- no idea how we would’ve gotten a hitch here and most hikers we find out later aren’t able to, instead hitching to Highway 26 or even to Timberline Lodge or Cascade Locks.  Even the PCT at some point is like, there’s no way to get around this one.  It’s super chill there, and we have a good hike out after buying a snack or two.  Timberline I find is super overrated and this hiker there named GQ is tagging onto our group of Whatever and I pretty hardcore.  It’s very obvious he’s 1. kinda full of himself (red flags: software developer who can “live or work whenever/wherever I want”; says with a completely straight face, later explained to me because of his “shirt, general cleanliness and beard maintenance” that it’s “obvious” why he’s named GQ; thinks that Manayunk is the best part of Philly….um….nooope?) 2. interested in my hiking buddy, who by the way, has a boyfriend at home.  I feel like sometimes she can be a little oblivious to interest from men…this is a thing it’s been difficult for me to understand historically, when dudes are/aren’t interested in people, but this time it seems very obvious.  And she is super attractive, and also pretty chill/not giving AF.  The brunch at Timberline is just ok for me and they’re annoyed that I don’t agree with them I think.  Then we just keep hiking and hiking and hiking…20 miles clicks by and even tho I’ve requested a break I have to keep pushing to try to catch up with them.  I have a mini-meltdown around 6pm when we stop to get water and he still wants to do like 8-9 more miles for a, IDK, 34 or something?  I’m frustrated- he’s not in our group, why are we letting him dictate our hike?  The rest of the time we’ve been chillaxing.  I have my fear of abandonment issues, about how I’m always a person that people just bide their time with until they find something, anything better.  Whatever is like, I just assumed you’d take a break if you wanted one, which is not how we generally do things, but makes sense.  We hike maybe 4 more miles to a campsite up the hill, which is totally fine and still like 28 or whatever for the day including the time off @ Timberline.  I get my period soon after this night which makes sense why I’m PMS’y but I’m in a Mood until the border.

Once in Cascade Lakes I’m still in a Mood and worrying about time, I don’t want to stay overnight even tho I do.  Whatever decides to splurge on a little cabin hotel and I crash on the floor.  I find out I messed up my Canada border crossing application, and have to hitch to Hood River the next morning for the nearest fax machine.  I try to get a ride, this sketchy ass dude comes up, I explain as I’m standing next to Whatever.  He doesn’t look at me at all, only stares at Whatever.  I’m not sure what to do but I kinda need to get this done and I’m a tough girl sooo…?  Then he’s like, “Wait, she’s (pointing at Whatever) not coming?  I don’t knooowwww….”.  Wow.  Maybe turned down for a hitch for being too fugly.  WTF.  I say, never mind, I need to grab something else from the hotel.  Although again, not dead yet?

Again we dick around town but there’s not a ton to do.  Trail Days is starting later that day so I decide to stick around a bit…it starts up, it’s windy AF, all the vendors have their cuben tents flapping wildly in the wind and I feel like it’s not a great way to sell your stuff?  Thermarest takes my loaner pad (thank god, it sucked, tho grateful to have something) as they’ve sent me a new one (apparently old pad was unrepairable- this makes pad #4).  There’s really not a lot of things to do here tho and dude-brahs are approaching from all sides so it’s definitely time to split.

There’s a climb out of Cascade Locks but it’s moderated by tons of blackberries.  Couple days later I get a hitch to Trout Lake near some trail magic (22oz craft beers on ice, are ya kidding me).  Trout Lake has a great lil restaurant and super friendly people.  I decide I’m hitching back to Oregon for the eclipse, which everyone is super judgmental about (“I can’t imagine taking that time off, think how many miles you could do in that time!  You’ll lose the continuity!”) Unnngghhhh.

Getting to the eclipse is probably the easiest thing ever.  I make a sign that says: “PCT Hiker to ECLIPSE” where I get all crafty and put a lil eclipse art after it.  I get a ride to Hood River after 10 minutes and then as I’m getting out of the car, another one pulls up and offers me a ride.  Score!

The second car has some kids in their 20s who are pretty chill, one of them really wants to go to the festival in Madras.  We first take a rest break by the Deschutes River at a picnic spot and it’s very, very dope.  Desert fun time!  With rivers!  I learned more about the Oregon Desert Trail while in Bend and this makes me really, really want to do that hike someday.  I’ll hit up the PCT sections that were closed in 2017 probably at the same time as well.  We get down to Madras but I see thousands of people over at the festival.  Think wistfully about that picnic site.  With a store across the street.  Yeah, big festival isn’t for me right now.  I get a hitch back with some drunk Native Americans coming back from a baptism in Vegas.  Drunk as in they are actively passing beers around the van, and the driver is drinking.  Um, well, it’s not SUPER far to Warm Springs?


I get to the site and end up making friends with this dude who is a PCT trail angel.  He actually went to Trail Days offering rides to hikers, and no one wanted to take him up on it, all wanted to head to the border.  This might be the only time in our lives we see this phenomenon, WTF?  Anyway, he’s down with me camping behind his truck for protection (the state of OR decided to not enforce rules about no overnight camping during the eclipse).  The next day we drive north a bit on the highway and find a great site near the road and open desert.  I’m able to have my own space and do my own thing.  Yo!  The eclipse was definitely one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen in my life, I totally want to see the next one in the US in a few years.  The trail angel gives me a ride to Hood River and on the way back to Trout Lake I get a ride with a guy who gives me the ins and outs of mushroom hunting…apparently quite lucrative!  It’s pretty cool but then he starts going on about George Noory and Coast to Coast, and seeing if I’m a Trump supporter or not, so I’m pretty relieved to get out of the van and start hiking again.

Back on trail, hopefully with my diversion I’ll see some different people.  Washington ends up being full of pretty chill people and more importantly, some spectacular landscapes.  There’s some dude-brahs, but maybe the ones from trail days either got ahead of me or are still partying behind me because of Trail Days.  When I get to Snoqualmie it’s hot AF and hazy AF…another fire is approaching!  Ugh.  I decide to take the rest of the day off and try again tomorrow…it’s pretty easy to find other hikers to do the same thing- including this French girl and US guy that were on the hitch around Jefferson in Oregon, and Gourmet.  Frens!

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I’m the only one who wants to do the Goldmeyer hot springs alternate, of course.  It proves to be a clutch decision, as 1. so interesting to be on lightly maintained trail, with some sketch rocky sections, and then mosses and shit 2. it’s in the next valley over, so no smoke! 3. other access points to the hot springs are closed, so I have them all alone for a couple hours.  Incredible!  Definitely the best springs I’ve been to in the US so far.  Just don’t camp there, rodents are so bad.  I’d hike a mile to the bridge and camp on that.  The hike the next day back to the PCT was just incredible.  I find out later from hikers who did the normal route that it was pretty meh and not great views.  At Lake Ivanhoe I look up and see what looks like a mushroom cloud in the distance, cripes.  A couple days later there’s a 100 mile section of WA closed too due to the fire.


Winding up towards the border…at some point I see Triple S again, yay!  I miss the side trail for a lake we were gonna meet up at for lunch tho…which was also where I was going to refill water, whoops.  1L for 20 miles, and a big climb at the end, yah, I was hurting.  When I finally got to the next source I chugged almost a L without filtering ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

When I got to Stehekin it seemed I caught up with Gourmet and Triple S, but unfortunately also a bunch of the dude-brahs…the other guy at my campsite got this girl loaded and had noisy sex with her while I was cowboy camped like 8 feet away.  Yoy.  I didn’t want to eat the overpriced food at the restaurant the night before so when the bus dropped us off at the bakery, I was like, you know what?  I’m’a eat here for a bit.  Again other hikers were being judgmental “you’re so close to the border?  How can you waste a couple hours???  Just get some cinnamon buns” but actually I think the food (like, actual food- curry chicken soup and salad and stuff) was the best food on the entire trail.  So fresh.  I had a great conversation with Reptar who I met in the desert.  He was working on a documentary of the trail, it was very refreshing.  Later that night I ended up camping where Triple S and other hikers were anyway.  Found a replacement washer for my water filter, score!


The last few days to the border were pretty spectacular including a rainbow 5 miles before I crossed over.  I got to hang with Triple S which was great but with that main pack of hikers that included the super-annoying Girl-Packs.  I’m at the border too soon for my flight and have to stay 3 nights in Vancouver, during which time I shatter the face to my phone, but it still works?


Get down to Sacramento on the plane where I stay overnight on hotel points and then take the Amtrak to Truckee…I super love taking trains and hang out in the cafe car where they have a guy giving interpretation and local facts.  In Truckee I get a hitch from a local who seems bored and buys me beer at the cafe near the trail…another hiker joins us and he gets beer as well.  I hike about a mile up the trail kinda drunked, yah…set up a super shitty campsite.

The next bit is just meh for me, Desolation Wilderness, I’m not feelin it.  Then I get my period- early, again!  Why do I not plan for this.  I have to get off trail and hitch to town early (was going to try to hold out to Sonora Pass) and I say F it.  It’s been super cold too so while in Lake Tahoe I buy some thicker leggings.  The next couple days I’m just not making the miles I want to- like 25s instead of 30s- and I’m just draaaaagggging.  Colder temps + All The Wind = no bueno.  Then I hear rumors of a snowstorm coming, great.  I have a resupply planned for Sonora Pass…supposed to start snowing later that night, it will definitely hit at that elevation at least a foot…ugh, what to do.  F it, I hitch to Bridgeport, I’m done.  I decide I’m quitting and going to hot springs, get a room at the hotel.  Aight.


The next day after hitting up the hot springs and looking at the snow up out on the mountains (Travertine Hot Springs!  also super dope) I keep my eyes out for hikers.  I spot a guy and get a harrowing story.  He got caught in the storm and ended up hiking at night over the pass, because his tarp situation flooded and his down bag got soaked.  Blizzard-like conditions, he dropped his headlamp and also couldn’t operate his phone because his hands were too numb.  He decided to try to hike the couple miles to Kennedy Meadows North but then he knocked on the door of these guys camped in a tricked out bus and they let him crash.  He was super chill and a SOBO hiker from Washington.  We shared a room that night and the next day met Miguel who was this sponsored hiker from Mexico doing a long section.  I don’t even know how to explain his situation except that he had everything paid for by this retired rich guy, and then the dude decided to quit, but he was still gonna pay for him, so we all crashed his hotel room for free.  I decided to unquit and me and hiker #1 (I can’t remember your trail name!  Sorry!  But we IG frens, it’s all gutt).  We made it over the snow bit a good 15 miles…I didn’t want to start hiking at 5:30 the next am, so I never saw him again.


Sierras were, uh, mixed.  I definitely liked barely seeing anyone on trail.  Between it being late season (mid-late September) and then the snowstorm clearing people out, it was pretty sparse.  All the cottonwoods or aspens or whatnot changing to yellow were super beautiful.I sang lots of Tori Amos with my earphone in, probably sounding like a maniac.  In Mammoth the trolley stopped running…I selected the Duck Lake alternate on the way back which was primo.  I got to the Muir Ranch turnoff a day too late to grab food there…disappointed, but kinda wanted to be done.  I got to stay in the Muir shelter on one of the nights with 3 other hikers which was pretty fun.  Each day started getting more and more windy, although very sunny.  But long tedious days trying to rush to Mt Whitney and Lone Pine so I could get back to LA for my flight.  I got over Mather Pass and then right after I got down to the S Fork of the Kings’ (where Strawberry died, wild!  It was ankle-deep at 9pm in early Oct) I dropped my phone on slickrock, recracked the surface, and it stopped working.   Nononononono!  No more easy maps, no more gps, no more I-conquered-Whitney-finale-pic.  Well, it fit tho.  This hike was about letting go of any and all expectations.


Anyway the day with Glen Pass I saw a few more JMT’ers which it had been a couple days since I’d seen, a beautiful day really and the wind died down a bit.    Which was good because I also had to do Forester.  So happy I was doing it then and not in June which would’ve been socked in.  A long day the next (Whitney?  whatevs at this point PS I guess those Korean hikers didn’t understand to send me the pic they took of me) but I got into town late at night and had an underwhelming, but tasty post-trail celebration.  Felt a sense of confusion the next day- none of the other hikers were ones who’d finished there, there were a couple of SOBOs, mostly just random travelers- what am I doing here in Bishop again and civilization and all that?  I took the bus to Lancaster and then train to downtown LA where my friend Chris picked me up and returned me my trumpet but didn’t have time to hang due to a gig, so I sat in his house alone for 2 hours before I ubered back downtown to have Japanese hotpot and get drunk on wine and sake with my friends Erin and Jay.  Flew back to Philly, had a bizarre gig that night playing what I call “Mummers rep”, 2nd line tunes I don’t actually know, and some Balkan stuff on the street, find an apartment within 3 days, come back and it’s a lil like I never left?  Or I did, but so much is the same.  IDK, but I do feel a sense of relief here, the familiarity of things, the non-stress of LA or cruise ship pressures.  “How to eat a watermelon and be yo’self” sorta shiz.  I think it’s the right place for my home base, though I know I am done with the normal person life and need to have my adventure time still, at least in part.

Some notes on AZT logistics afterwards

azt colorado river

For those who are prepping for the AZT I wanted to leave just a few notes on preparation.  There’s definitely some info out there, but a lot of it seems geared towards people moving at a little bit slower pace than experienced thru hikers.

First off- any questions, ask the AZT facebook group!  This is definitely the friendliest trail community I’ve met so far, and there’s a wealth of info to be had there.

A lot of people use Ken’s Shuttle Service to get to the border.  I didn’t because he quoted me $150, but what I didn’t know is that he will split it among other hikers going there, and also you don’t need to set that up- if there are others going the same way, he’ll work it out.  I got lucky since the AZT bike race was starting the same time I was headed there, so I got a $40 shuttle from Homegrown MTB, they were super awesome, and might also be able to do shuttles on demand.

Resupply: you really don’t need too many points.  Here’s what I did:

Start w/two days’ worth (and pack out a burrito, puh-lease).  Actually you don’t even need dinner for day 2, you’ll be in town.

Patagonia: 4 days, mailed a box.  This section has some difficult parts, it could be worth it to break it up in Vail which I heard isn’t a terrible hitch.  A lot of people send to La Posta Quemada…meh, I was hiking at night this section because of the heat wave and lobster arms and just wanted to get to town and buy a non-fleece long sleeve shirt.

Tucson: 2 days.  I doubleplus love Tuscon and totally feel it’s worth it to go into town here and take a zero or two…YMMV.  Was able to get some nice resupply @ Sprouts.   They have all the food store options you could imagine.

Summerhaven: I just bought snacks here at the end of the climb.  They have a decent store, not sure on prices.  Also an ok hiker box.  I eat healthier stuff tho than most hikers so not really great options for me.  *Word to the Community Center Crashpad** haha

Oracle: 3+ days, mailed.  You can make good miles in this section, just bring breakfast for 4th day.  Honestly I really didn’t need to get off here, I think it would have been fine to just bring extra from Tucson, but hey- didn’t need to carry that stuff going up Mt Lemmon.  In town food options suck (that Mexican place everyone goes on about is super overrated) but Chalet Village Motel is super primo.  They also have one of the best hiker boxes I’ve ever seen.

Superior: 3 days, mailed.  I wouldn’t mail next time tho, they actually had instant refried beans (Herdez) in the little supermarket!  Prices were good.  Super loved this town, will definitely stop here on the GET next year.  If you don’t want to stop in Payson buy like 5 days here and make sure to order pizza @ the Kearny water spigot (I heard Kearny was a decent stop as well but it seemed to be a lil early for that section for me, I liked keeping the momentum.  Pizza guy might give ya a ride into town)  There might be a hotel on the main street by this time next year otherwise definitely hit up Copper Canyon Hotel, they are super friendly and there’s a trail angel they have contact for that gives rides w/donation.

Payson: 3 days, mailed.  My friend wanted to meet up and this was the closest town to Tempe.  But I got to town too late and missed my maildrop!  I didn’t want to deal with hitching the next morning so just bought resupply @ Basha’s (there is also a Safeway).  Lotta good restaurant options, we went to the Thai place which was fairly legit, and this Buffalo Bar for a drink after.  My buddies Crusty and Shaun went in here too and also enjoyed it, they got a hotel for like $60 I think.  They said the hitch in was easy, hitch out took maybe an hour, not horrible.

Pine: 4 days, mailed (to THAT brewery).  Note: THAT no longer has a cabin for hikers to rent, BUT you can stay at this awesome winery in a yurt, and it’s even cheaper!  Definitely do that, but don’t wait until like 7-8pm to call, make plans as soon as you get into town.  They let us shower and hang out during the heat tho the next day (we bought some wine and left some extra money).  The market in town is decent if a lil overpriced tho the checkout clerk was super unfriendly.

Flag: 4 days, buy here.  Lots of good options for health nerds like me.  I had brought food from home when I hiked this section in November, but I’d probably just buy in town.  I ended up buying the section from the Grand Canyon to the end here.  Safeway, Fry’s, Sprouts, Whole Paycheck, rando health food stores, lots of options.

Grand Canyon: 5 days, mailed.  Might be worth it to grab a snack from the general store in Tusayan (most things are expensive, but drinks are normal price, there’s some cheap frozen burritos, and apparently now a Starbucks).  In general tho both the resupply in Tusayan and at the GC are really expensive.  You could grab a drink or beer at Phantom Ranch which is a nice respite, and I’d definitely recommend to grab a meal or two at Jacob Lake if you can manage it, nice staff, primo breakfasts (this is from someone who typically hates breakfast foods).  The resupply there sucks but you can pack out some celebration beers or whatnot.

It is a HUGE pain to get out from Stateline Campground so be prepared for that.  There was yucky sleet-snow-rain-wind weather which made it a drag, which is why it’s pretty great to stop in Jacob Lake the day before and get some snacks and/or a beer to tide ya over.  I arrived at 7pm and didn’t end up in Flagstaff until noon 2 days later, took me 5 hitches and probably could have taken even more.  I am a pretty clean cut hiker in a dress, it usually takes me 5-20 minutes for a hitch anywhere in the US.


AZT in a softshell


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.  Let’s not even get into my years in LA and when I worked on the cruise ship.  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.  I also get a message that dude I was seeing or not-seeing was also splitski from our mutual group of friends.  More feelings of loneliness, or rejection, or whatever prey on my mind.  The monotony of sage and juniper and pinion rangelands echoes my thoughts, but doesn’t provide comfort.

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?


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.

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


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.


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.