This Is Only The Beginning

My graduation from college was followed by the most mentally and physically arduous pilgrimage of my life thus far, an experience which has thrown me into the greatest transition I have ever been through. Kind of feels like a mid-life crisis, but I’m too young for that! It has been a roller coaster of excitement, sadness, self-love, self-doubt, loneliness, power, emptiness, independence, frustration, pride, inspiration, fullness, and a lack of motivation. Each day is different, which is telling me something very big is on the horizon.

One thing that rings true for me – is that in order for us to transform ourselves, we must first be broken. Something that we thought would always be there must end in order for something brand new to be born. For me, it is a path of independent adventure. I am focused on what I need to do in order to live a life that fulfills me. I am learning that nothing in life is permanent and things can change in an instant which has enabled me to accept a new path…
You can either be a victim to this change or use it as a tool to live what I like to call… “AN EPIC FUCKIN’ LIFE”!!

The trail is a perfect metaphor for almost anything in life. You live the most simple truths because they are all you have. Here are only twelve of the many lessons/gifts that walking over 2,000 miles gave to me:

~ In order to move forward you must let go of the past, because it’s behind you now. Your survival is reliant on your ability to focus on what is happening right now.

~ Don’t try to live faster than the pace your feet can travel – you will get there, enjoy where you are now.

~ No matter how difficult an obstacle, you have the power in you to overcome it. Never give up, unless it will certainly kill you, then maybe you shouldn’t do it.

~ Some days totally suck but a good day is always on the horizon. The hardships you endured are always paid off with the strength you feel from overcoming something so difficult and of course the beautiful places your audacity has taken you. Remember this on those crappy days.

~ Just when you think you’ve reached the top of a mountain, you see there are many more mountains for you to climb.

~ Sometimes, when you want to quit, you’re in the middle of nowhere and can’t do anything about it. Suck it up and keep walking. After all, moving forward is all you can do.

~ People come and go, when they do go, you may never see them again. Enjoy them for everything they are right now.

~ When walking gets boring, DANCE.

~ When walking is too easy, flex your butt muscles and get the most out of the path you are on.

~ If you fall over, get up, yell about it, then move on.

~ If someone wants to help you, let them and let their generosity help you to become more giving of yourself.

~ If it’s raining, get your butt up anyway. Magic can be found in all types of weather. Even on dark, cloudy, rainy days there is always something beautiful to be discovered.

The lessons from the trail are endless, discover some for yourself…

Since I returned home from my long walk I haven’t just been moping around (maybe I have a little bit) but I have been staying busy with friends, occasionally pretending to be a transient, drinking wine, looking at rainbows, holding babies, throwing snowballs, swimming in the ocean, wearing silly hats, journaling, singing loudly and terribly, drinking ridiculously healthy smoothies, making a montage about my trip, looking for work, and routinely jogging 4 miles a day, ending at the top of my local mountain to watch the sun set. Witnessing the setting of the sun on a daily basis has become the one thing that brings me the most happiness and peace during this turbulent period in my life. Also, I discovered the most delightful dance community in San Diego, with whom I have been dancing my heart out. It feels so good to have this outlet. It is very healing and has brought me much joy.

For my next adventure, the time has come. I am going to Mexico at the end of this month. I will be living among other people who strive for a more simple life in a sustainable community in Baja. I don’t really know what it is going to be like yet, but I can tell you I will be learning how to build earthen homes, working hard in the gardens, living in a tent, hiking to swimming holes, hot springs, and waterfalls as well as developing myself as an independent woman. Please stay tuned for my adventures there. I am flying out on December 31st! What a way to start the new year!

Recently, I made a rough “life itinerary” to help me stay focused on achieving my goals and living epically. This winter and beginning of next spring I will be spending my time living in this community in Baja. Next summer of 2014 I will be working a seasonal summer job somewhere in the states doing what I love: environmental education, or something similar in the outdoors. In the Fall of 2014 I will attend the Burning Man festival and that winter I will work my butt off to save for my next big adventure, back on the trail summer of 2015. My goal is to walk every single mile of the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada and put it to rest so that I can move on to other long distance trails. All of this is subject to rearrange, change, and be accommodated to as time goes on but at least I have an idea of how I would like my life to go over the next two years.

Here I go!

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The Brick Wall

I must warn you, this post is nothing like my happy, excited posts I have written over the past 6 months. Rather, it is a reflection of what it is like, for me, to come back into mainstream society after the most beautiful journey of a lifetime. It is very common for people to have a period of sadness after such a long hike, and I am no exception. So if you are here to be uplifted, read no further. It’s all part of the journey, and this is my experience.

I have been “home” for just over two weeks now and have been working through so much mentally, emotionally, and physically. Each day is a challenge in a whole new way that I never experienced on the trail, and it may be just part of this great journey – another challenge I didn’t expect. A very dark one.

While I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail I felt the most happiness I’d ever felt in my entire life – I attained true bliss. I learned that real happiness comes from not knowing what each day will bring, but having the faith in myself that I will confront obstacles and get through them as they come. It is invigorating to wake up each morning not knowing the beauty I will see or the challenges that will arise, but taking each step one at a time and living only as fast as I can walk and only concerning myself with a few simple things: eating, caring for myself, sleeping, resting, filtering water, and most of all WALKING.

Coming off the trail is like coming into the world for the first time. It is a noisy world of fast cars, unhappy, unhealthy, and upset people living lives that contain them in little boxes, only occasionally dreaming of doing what they really want – all the while telling themselves they cannot, because their responsibilities seem to own them. It is a world of anonymity where people barely even look up at one another in passing and think you are weird if you take a moment to say hello to them. After being embraced by a community of happy, healthy people I feel so alone in this world of strangers.

Life here has me dwelling on the past, stressing about others and the chaos that surrounds me, and just plain feeling stuck. I feel as though this place that I call “home” is merely a waiting room. Waiting for my next adventure, waiting to see what the future holds for me, waiting to move out and be independent again. My real home is the trail. The trail is home to all of us, you may just not realize it yet. It is a place where life is simple, options are limited, and friends are everywhere. Every day you are blessed with the beauty of going with your own rhythm and accepting every single moment for what it is and nothing less. On the trail we walk in God’s country, a place of perfect beauty and what may seem to most as mere legend. The earth is a magnificent place but our busy lives within our concrete jungles make us think that wilderness is only a dream, or perhaps a place to visit – but it is our home. As the Tobasco Donkey’s put it, “Civilization is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” I’d rather be hiking up the hottest, most endless hill, or walking through freezing rain and snow than living such an average life. This feeling must be temporary, but I know I will never see the world the same again.

My feet are buzzing constantly and I have nowhere to go. They said it would be hard to come home after my hike, but I had no idea it would be this hard.

The trail gave me a gift. One that no one can ever take away from me. I know how I want to live. After a lifetime in school, I finally discovered what it feels like to be free and now I am determined to live a beautiful life of adventure, and not settle for anything less. I have so much life left, and I will spend it discovering the world. I may not have discovered the strength to do this had I never hiked the trail. The realization that I have what it takes to follow my dreams has pushed me to make some very ambitious and difficult life decisions. I sacrificed my relationship with the man I love to nurture my independence and further challenge myself with living the life of my dreams. It is both terrifying and exciting at the same time, it is also very lonely and I miss him deeply. It is quite simple. He is focused on building a settled life and I can no longer swallow my urge to fly. Perhaps one day our dreams will align, but right now I have no choice but to feed the hunger of my soul to experience all the different flavors life has to offer.

“When it’s time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived.” Henry David Thoreau

Some things I am dreaming of…

1. Finding a community of happy, healthy, inspiring people to live among (out of San Diego)

2. Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail AGAIN (and the entire thing this time)

3. Hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT – 1200 miles long, from Montana to the Washington coast), among many other lesser-known long distance trails.

4. Living in beautiful, inspiring places – maybe other countries

5. Seasonal Park Ranger opportunities in other states (Such as Colorado, Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, etc.)

6. Learning to play a musical instrument

7. Living well, following my heart, not letting the world get me down, being inspired

8. Eventually, settling down somewhere beautiful where I can live simply

I will start working again soon and I don’t know what the next chapter will bring, but I know it is not going to be easy. Being here has me trying to make future plans, but my life is too unpredictable for it not to be in vain so I will do what worked for me on the trail – I will play it by ear and see where the path leads. All I do know is that I am going to follow through with what truly satisfies me, no matter what I have to do to manifest it. And let’s not leave out the most important part… I know that everything is going to be okay. Everything is temporary.

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Thank you for following me. I hope my adventure inspired you to get out and do something you have always wanted to do.

Urge For Going

After a spending a few days hiking through Mount Hood and down into the breathtaking Eagle Creek with Brian, we went into town at Cascade Locks, my last town in the state of Oregon. We parted there where I spent the afternoon at the marine park enjoying the beautiful Columbia River and preparing for my next section toward Trout Lake, Washington. As I crossed over the Bridge of Gods, stepping from one state to the next while suspended over a large body of water, I gazed all around at the 360 degree views of the beautiful river and the bridge I was crossing it on. The wind blew wildly as I looked down where I could see through the metal grids all the way down to the water below. It was breathtaking and exhilarating. I was excited to step into a new state, the last state. Washington!

I hiked into the evening that day and found myself on an unexpected and frustrating ascent in the dark. All I wanted to do was make camp but I had to keep moving forward and hope for a flat place to sleep. It is not uncommon for me to get a little sloppy at the end of the day and this evening ascent really got the best of me. I fell hard on some rocks right on my knee resulting in a nice big, bloody gash and a bruised knee cap. I yelled out loud in anger at the trail and felt pretty silly when I ran into some friends just a few minutes later. I had hoped they didn’t hear me whining at the forest. I camped with them that night in a nice little flat spot near some water. The next morning I completed the ascent alone and enjoyed some music in my ears. It was a gorgeous day and one of only a few that were left…

After a big day of 27 miles, I camped by Panther Creek and saw an almost full moon rise over the rushing water. I felt all sticky from the day of humid heat and lots of climbing so I rinsed off in the freezing water. It was refreshing. That night I made my heaviest meal, gnocchi, which is also my most hearty, flavorful, and favorite meal. I fought for my hot cocoa when a mouse kept coming back to steal a sip. I awoke in the middle of the night to rain drops on my shelter but when morning came it was only fog hanging over the forest. As I climbed, the clouds became thicker and thicker until I was walking through them, taking in the beautiful silence of this dark, wet day. That evening the wind was blowing like a tornado, throwing water at my face as I walked. Once again I hiked into the night, and exhausted from the beginning storm, I fell again and sprained my hand. I was just getting all beat up on this section. The next day was nothing but rain and I was pretty cold and miserable. I resisted the desire to hitch into town at a road I reached before my planned exit road, which was 15 more miles down the trail.

I got a ride with some other hikers into Trout Lake, WA which is a beautiful little town full of wonderful people. I stayed at the tiny grocery store which was run by a family who lived behind the building. They offered small, hostel type rooms for hikers at a very reasonable price and they did everything they could to provide us with what we needed. Trout Lake was full of angels and I’ll never forget how at home I felt there. The day I left the rain had finally broken and it looked like it might become a sunny day, which it did, just in time for me to head into the beautiful high elevations of Washington around Mount Adams where I could see for miles all around. Mount Adams had fresh snow on top which was beautiful and also threatening. The air was cold that day, but I strutted around in my shorts as I walked 3mph with music in my ears. I was on a roll, but by 5pm it was too cold and I had to put on extra layers. From this day on, I never walked again without those extra layers…

That night I camped at a beautiful lava field where water came out from beneath, forming a pool I could get water from. There were 11 other people there that night and we all sat around eating dinner, watching our breath, and making ridiculous jokes that would only be funny to people who have been on a trail for 5 months. The next day I was the last to leave camp (as usual). I passed a couple people while they took lunch, but I saw no one for the rest of the day. I was appreciating the sun as I climbed up high to where I could see lakes, hills, volcanos, and endless forests. As the day continued on I became grumpy, not for any reason in particular. Sometimes hiking can be monotonous and on top of it, I am simply not giving my body what it needs to hike a 25 mile day. A grumpy hiker is a hungry, tired hiker. Despite the beauty that surrounded me, I could not unfurrow my brow. My heart reawoke as I passed over Cyspus Pass and was transported to what felt like the High Sierra again. Rocky peaks engulfed me in an enormous, open valley of flowing water. I found the best campsite just after a waterfall. The site hung over the emptiness of the valley and seemed to float over nothing. I set up camp here and watched the full moon rise as I heard the hoo-ing of a dozen Great Horned owls as they retreated from their daytime sanctuaries in the thick trees of the forest and headed out into the last light of dusk. I watched them as they took flight and went off into the night sky. I love camping alone.

The next day was a blessing in disguise. I climbed up and up where I found marmots! It really was like being in the Sierras again. I had heard about a place I was going to, called the “Knife’s Edge” and when I saw it, I threw my hands up in complaint. Ahh I don’t want to do this! The Knife’s Edge is a 2 mile piece of trail which traverses over a narrow crest with thousand foot drops on either side, with nothing but glaciers to break a fall. My nerves were all buzzing as I crossed over the Packwood glacier and then walked along the edge very carefully. This was one of the most beautiful views I had seen on the entire trail. Mount Rainier in the distance with clear blue skies, mountains, lakes, glaciers, and rivers all around. I was one of the last people to see Mount Rainier from Knife’s Edge this season. There was a tiny cloud at the tip of the majestic mountain and as the day grew late, the cloud got bigger and bigger until the whole sky looked angry with darkness, wind, and cold.

I camped a mile from White’s Pass so that I could go in in the morning and resupply. That night the rain started, and this time it never stopped. It rained and I saw a bunch of hikers at the Kracker Barrel store who where talking about skipping to avoid the coming storm which was said to bring immense amounts of snow and rain. I wasn’t ready to give up yet so I got a ride into Packwood where I could wait out the storm at a lovely little hotel that charged only $30 a night. I ended up staying here for 5 days, and it stormed day and night, nonstop. I became depressed with the lack of hope to continue on. Other hikers were coming off the mountain describing 2 feet of snow and high winds as they traversed the Knife’s Edge. They were all thankful to be alive.

In a couple days I knew there would be at least one clear day, so I decided to get back on trail at that point. The first day out was very cold, but mostly no rain fell. The rain started again the next morning and never stopped. I met some southbound hikers who told me of a trail angel waiting for hikers at Chinook pass. I made it to the pass and waited inside of a pit toilet bathroom at a rest stop, on the floor, in my sleeping bag, because it was FREEZING. My fingers and toes had been numb most of the day, and now that I was stopped my entire body was losing heat fast. I did what I had to do to stay warm while I waited for the trail angel to come pick me up on one of her regular runs up to the rest stop to rescue hikers from the bathrooms.

Trapperkeeper, took me and my friend Backfire to her camp where she fed us a fresh cooked meal, built us a fire in the rain and gave us a dry place to sleep among her Tarp Town in the woods. It was amazing and necessary trail magic. I finally reached the point where I was deciding whether to go on. She checked the weather and assured me that snow was on its way and the weather would only get worse from here on out. The freezing cold rain had been enough for me. It was frighteningly cold. Hypothermia became a real concern and I couldn’t imagine dealing with colder temps. I simply was not equipped enough for winter weather, nor was I skilled in snow travel and navigation. This was where my hike north on the Pacific Crest Trail came to an unexpected finish. 300 miles from the Canadian border, and I decided to turn back.

Trapperkeeper drove me to Packwood the next day where I spent another night so that the following day I could find a ride to Seattle. After making a beautiful Seattle sign on a piece of cardboard, Trapperkeeper showed up in town again and said it had snowed overnight and she was shutting down her camp and going home, to Portland. I decided this was my best bet for a ride and took it. Feeling so far from the trail now, the anxiety hit me as we drove into the busy city with lights, cars, rain, and noise. I realized this was not a temporary ride into town, this was it, and in town was where I’d stay. Goodbye Pacific Crest Trail, for now.

I was then thrown into the oblivion of public transportation. I rode a bus to a train and rode the train to the real train, which I sat on for 30 hours going insane because I felt like there wasn’t enough oxygen on the train (I’m used to being outdoors!), then in the middle of the night I got onto another train from Union Station in L.A. and rode that to Santa Clarita where I spent the night and was picked up in the morning by the well-known trail angel of southern California, Donna Saufley.

Instead of going straight home, I decided I would fare better with some time to reflect and decompress. I skipped a section from Idyllwild to Agua Dulce so I am going to spend 3 more weeks hiking south from Agua Dulce to Idyllwild, or at least until I run out of money. Here at Hiker Heaven I am preparing for my final jaunt in the wilderness before going back home.

I walked over 2,000 miles and I thought there was no chance in the world I wouldn’t make it all the way to Canada, but Washington had different plans this year. Winter started in September, historically the most rain and snow ever received this time of year. Just my luck!

This was the most amazing summer of my life. I crossed through the desert and over the entire Sierra Nevada mountain range, and almost the entire Cascade range. I walked through California, Oregon, and Washington. I walked and I walked, all day every day. I saw the sun rise and set and became in tune with the moons waxing and waning. I slept under the stars every night sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. I met hundreds of wonderful people and for the first time I really felt part of a community. Everyday I was blessed with beautiful scenery, challenges, and time to think and go with the flow. Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was the best decision I ever made, and I will do it again. This was an epic journey through the deserts, mountains, and forests of the west coast. I also had the unexpected opportunity to experience tiny mountain towns all along the way where I met people with unwavering generosity and kindness. There were times when I didn’t think I could take a single step, and then I did. I overcame so much doubt and became stronger than I have ever been. My mind has never been clearer, my life has never been simpler, and my body has never been stronger. Thank you to all the trail angels who helped me keep going and to all the people following me and cheering me on. I have never been happier!!!

Stories of my final journey to come, stay tuned.

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Trail Bliss

I am doing very well and am still out here living in the forest! My home is the woods and I am in love with the trail. I have been so many different things in my life, always searching for what is right for me but never quite meshing completely with any one thing, but on the trail I feel at home. Life is raw and true out here. I have the freedom to be myself and go with the flow of what feels right while being 100% responsible for my actions and dealing with consequences. I have many daily tasks and chores but they are simple: eat, make shelter, sleep, filter water, rest, watch my maps, care for myself as needed, and simply WALK. I used to think this was the hardest thing I’d ever do, but in fact – it is the easiest I have ever lived. Life IS the moment and the challenges, with few options, forcing me to accept each moment and take each day one step at a time. Don’t be mistaken, hiking 25 miles a day is not easy, but don’t we all understand how rewarding it is to suffer? Not only am I in the best physical shape of my life, but mentally I feel powerful and independent. I feel at peace and in control of my life. I have made a complete turn around since the beginning of the trip. At first I could barely stand the thought of being away from home, and now I can’t stand the thought of the trail… ending. I just want to walk in the woods forever….

After a lovely stay at the Hiker Hut in Etna I hit the trail again and got the best of surprises! As I was walking I noticed three beautiful Rosy Boa snakes lying sleepily along the side of the trail. I thought they wouldn’t be safe from flying trekking poles and curious hikers that close to the trail so I gladly scooped them up and made friends with them before relocating them to a safer place. That was such a happy day! Soon after, the landscape transformed from brown and green to white, brown and green. Raw marble all over the ground and making up entire mountains! It was a beautiful sight and made me happy to see such a valuable mineral being left in it’s natural state, protected by the national forest, untouched by the hand of man.

After descending into Seiad Valley, we were picked up by an old local couple in a pickup to avoid the dangerous road walk and were greeted by many hikers relaxing on the grass as we arrived. I had lunch at the cafe but did NOT take on the pancake challenge. I don’t really like pancakes – I’m more of a waffle kind of girl! 🙂

With a full belly I took on the 8 mile ascent up a huge steep mountain overlooking the smoke settling from recent fires in the area, it was eerily beautiful with a red crescent moon as I fell asleep in my shelter. I love sleeping on ridges because I can see the sun rise and set.

Soon, I made it to the Oregon border and the trail was a whole new ball game! I was ready for a change and excited to see what a new state had to offer, I walked on with big smiles and wide eyes… 😀 What I found the next day was Santa Claus! He lives in Oregon!! I met Santa at the Callahans Lodge where I was treated so kindly by fancy, clean people. One woman who worked at the front desk offered us a ride into Ashland and I asked her “how many can you fit?” she replied, “up to 7, I have a pickup truck.” When I walked outside I laughed to myself when I saw her tiny 2 seater truck, we all jumped in the back and we drove on the 5 freeway for about 15 minutes and it was terrifying. At least I can say I’ve ridden in the back of a truck on the freeway! That is not something that most people can say they’ve experienced. Now I don’t ever have to do that again!! But thank goodness for the ride to Ashland, and to be alive. Wow.

In Ashland, I shared a hostel room with several other hikers. It was more like a large apartment and felt very luxurious, although it was difficult to get enough sleep with everyone making breakfast and talking at 6 in the morning. I was a grumpy girl that day. Ashland was a nice town stop, I stayed an extra night to get the rest I needed and got more chores done before hitting the trail again with the excitement of my next stop – Crater Lake! This is a section of the trail that I have looked forward to since the very beginning. Arriving here was emotional and beautiful. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and my feet! The lake was huge and glorious. I camped for a couple nights here and watched both the sun and the moon rise and set shining it’s beautiful colors on the crystal blue waters of the ancient caldera of what was once Mount Mazama, standing above 12,000 feet before it exploded.

I went real slow through this section because of its sereneness. I was caught in a vortex of beauty and bliss, walking through the forests of Oregon has been a dream. People warn you of how boring it is to hike through the forest for days on end, but for me it wasn’t like that. Each day I’d make it to a ridge where I could see snow-covered mountains, craggy peaks, volcanic lava fields, and beautiful sunsets. When I was under the shade of the forest, it was a whole new world of green ground cover, butterflies, lakes, wet mushrooms, and happy pine trees. I could never get bored with the sweet smells of the forest and the soft duff to sleep on. I made it to Sisters and began heading back out on the trail when I was hit with a big cold, scary, wet storm. I was hiking through exposed areas in a lightening storm and I was terrified. I finally found a safe place to set up shelter where I stayed for 24 hours hoping the storm would pass. It did not, so with all my wet stuff, I hiked back to Sisters and Brian picked me up there instead of the planned pick up spot at Timberline Lodge. He is going to hike with me from Timberline Lodge to Cascade Locks which I am looking forward to. However, I am currently stationary at his Grandma’s house in Washington but will be back on trail tomorrow.

I reached mile 2000 last week and have less than 550 more miles to Canada. This hike is a dream and I couldn’t be more content and happy. I want to just keep hiking.

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Goodbye California

Oh boy, so much to write. I’ve really been pounding the trail with little time in town and have not had an opportunity to blog until now. I am in Etna, the last town in California. Over the past few weeks I have been consistently doing 23-26 miles a day. Getting to Canada is a real and timely concern. It’s time to get miles!

After I spent a few days with my family in Sierra City I hit the trail again and headed toward Belden, my next resupply town. I had heard it was creepy, but nobody told me the whole hike would be eery. I hiked for a few days through a dry, hot, and unhealthy forest where I found myself going out of my mind with boredom. I ran into my friend Puppy on the trail and we camped together a couple nights until I stopped to take advantage of a perfect and beautiful ridge where I could dry camp, but only be a mile from water. I knew she was at the water source, but I decided to camp because I hadn’t seen such a beautiful view in days. I was able to watch the sun set and rise from my tent and the hills around were forested and made me think of Oregon, and how close I was to finishing California. This ridge and the Feather River were the two best things that happened to me that week. Everything else was mosquito and poison oak infested, not to mention the occasional rattlesnake (my 3 favorite things!). When I got to Belden I had lunch at the resort which had a bunch of minimally-clothed, pale, zombie-like people wandering around aimlessly. Apparently raves happen here on a weekly basis, and they were the sloppy leftovers.

I slept on the porch of a trail angels house down the road, but got out of town as quickly as possible toward hopefully brighter horizons. The sun was beating down on me while I kept busy dragging my tired body up hill after hill through a dead, burnt forest until I reached Lassen National Forest where water and shade were more prevalent and my spirits were a little higher. I met a girl who I’ve been hiking near for several weeks now, her name is Skidaddle. We have lunch, discuss our daily plans, and often camp together. She has been good company for me, especially since I have done almost the entire trail alone. I was excited to walk through the National Park but it didn’t last long, it only took one day to walk through. Once I reached Old Station I resupplied and got new shoes in the mail! My old shoes had 700 miles on them and they looked it. I was very happy to have new kicks. The next section was Hat Creek Rim which other hikers talked about as the worst part of the PCT due to no water, no shade, high temperatures, and rattlesnakes – it was much different for me thankfully for the clouds in the sky which kept it cooler and a trail angel who kept the cache 22 stocked with water for everyone coming through. I kind of enjoyed that stretch, actually. The haze from distant fires gave the mountain ranges a dream-like feeling.

After I finished up the Rim with some friends Seeking and Delaware Dave, we headed back down into the forest which became moister and moister as the miles went on. Eventually all my trail friends hitched into town while I continued on alone until I ran into some other hikers, Ash and Sierra Bum who I hiked with for several days through Burney Falls State Park all the way to Shasta. I found Skidaddle in the wilderness out of Burney Falls and met some other hikers Rotisserie, Sensai, and Cream Tea – all of which were hiking in the same vicinity for a couple weeks so we all grew fond of one another and shared a big hotel room in Shasta, which was purely awesome. I have not been one of the most social PCT hikers, as I do like my alone time and the freedom to move with my own rhythm, but spending this time with other hikers was really fun and it was so nice to hang out with other girls! Skiddaddle, Cream Tea, and I sat on the bed drinking beer and gossiping. Oh the joy!! 🙂

After “neroing” in Shasta, I hit the trail again with the girls Skidaddle and Cream Tea where we ascended into the Castle Crags, Trinity Alps, and Russian Wilderness’. It was BEAUTIFUL! So different than the high Sierra but so magical. It took us 4 days to get into Etna and here I am now at the Alderbrook Manor Hiker Hut with lots of other hikers.

The hiker life is fun, we are all just living amongst each other as though we are just relaxing in our own living room. I am loving this life on the trail and all the beauty I see. The hiking is fun, but always challenging. I am currently nursing a fluid-filled knee and a shin splint while I rest here. I am trying to prevent more damage so that I can make it all the way! My next town is Ashland, Oregon. WOOHOO!

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Magic Abounds

Hello friends and family! I am in Sierra City now and have about 3 weeks to tell you about…

After a frightening thunder storm coming over Sonora Pass, I spent 2 lovely nights at the Kennedy Meadows Pack Station where I was treated with friendly faces and generosity. I ordered dinner and scarfed it down. Someone who saw me eating recognized me as a dirty, starving PCT hiker and bought my meal for me anonymously. It was a pleasant surprise to say the least. It is amazing how many people want to help us. This is what we fondly call “Trail Magic”.

Trail Magic is what happens when someone who is most likely not a hiker, but is inspired by what we do, helps a hiker in some way. The past 3 weeks have been filled with magic. People who do this are called Trail Angels, and I have certainly gotten to know how much of what these angels do really is like magic.

On July 3rd, my friends Eldon, Kathy, and Julie picked me up from Kennedy Meadows and took me to their beautiful cabin where we spent the evening relaxing and fishing at the river nearby. Another storm blew in so we had the awesome experience of cleaning fish under a tin roof with hail and rain coming down, it was so cool! Dinner was amazing and the next day we spent exploring Bridgeport for 4th of July. We watched the parade, looked at art, swam in the lower Twin Lakes, and watched an incredible firework show after dark. It was a great celebration! The next day, Kathy gave me a gift from her garden – delicious dried apricots which sustained me for days after my visit with them. Julie and Eldon hiked out with me on the morning of the 5th and we said goodbye after about 4 miles. I was a little sad for a bit as I hiked away, but that is expected now and I am able to cope much better than before. Julie and her family gave me something to look forward to and what came truly was trail magic!

As I hiked on I went up and down and up and down, which I have learned is pretty much the entire trail – go down just to go back up! It was beautiful but I was lonely. A fast hiker came by while I was making dinner and I talked to him as much as I could before he ran off into the woods so that he could get his 43 miles in. He was trying to break the world record for the fastest thru hike on the PCT – nonetheless he still took about 15 minutes to have a pleasant conversation with me, which I appreciated more than he knew.
Along my trek the following day I was lost in my earbuds – music makes my thoughts richer because I’ve thought about just about everything I can think of and I get bored thinking about the same things all the time, so music helps keep things interesting. I saw a group of people alongside the trail who called me over. They were past PCT thru hikers who backpacked in for some on-trail trail magic. They offered coffee, cookies, and good company. The same day, a few hours later, I saw a woman sitting by the creek in the distance and as I approached she placed herself beside the trail to greet me. Her trail name was Sleuth and she was happy to see a young woman on the trail. So of course I sat and talked with her for a long time. She also had a sweet german shepard doggy who made me smile. She gave me peanut butter granola bars and two packets of mango and guava Tang! She said you can only buy them in Mexico. They were delicious…. And that SAME DAY as the evening approached and I was looking for a place to sleep, I was greeted by a family near Ebbett’s pass who made me a garden burger for dinner as well as a huge plate of watermelon, cantelope, and grapes. It was the most gourmet trail magic yet!

The next day brought with it a whole new landscape of dark volcanic rock formations and beautiful wildflowers. After a long walk I finally made it to South Lake Tahoe where I was reunited with my friend Heather (aka Hot Tub) with whom I began the trail with. It was lovely to see her face after what seems like such a long time! In Tahoe I replaced my backpack and shoes due to my failing pack and the need for ankle support since I repeatedly rolled my ankles.

Unfortunately, after a day in my new shoes, my feet became unbearable to walk on and after 60 miles I was crying with every step until I reached Truckee where the most amazing magic happened! Whilst hiking, I met another female solo hiker named Mackenzie (aka Hitch) whose company I enjoyed and we went to the Truckee DQ together where we loitered for hours using their restroom, water fountain, and benches. I daydreamed of washing my feet because it might relieve some of my pain but I did not think it would actually happen…

A curious couple approached us with questions about our journey. After a bit of talking they offered to take us back to their cabin where they would cook us dinner, do our laundry, and give us a place to sleep and shower. It was an amazing offer and we could not pass it up. That night we ate a healthy salmon and vegetable dinner with the warm company of Barb and Ernie – our most generous trail angels! Their cabin was in a beautiful forest with lakes and friendly faces. Mackenzie and I felt like new women! It was a very uplifting and eye opening experience for both of us. We are very thankful for Barb and Ernie, and to all of the angels who help us along this amazing journey. Something I need to remember is that pain and suffering are temporary, it will turn out okay, and to trust that the trail will provide what I need.
To top it all off, Barb offered to drive me the 43 miles to Sierra City where my parents were bringing me my old shoes so that I did not further damage my feet. I was sad to skip 43 miles but it was what I needed to keep going. Barb saved me from the pain I was experiencing and the extreme desire to quit because of it. We had a beautiful drive through the forest and enjoyed chatting and having lunch together before we parted and she headed home.

Sierra City is an amazing little town! What a gem. I love it here. I slept in the backyard of the Red Moose Inn with tons of other hikers and spent a lot of time with smiling faces down at the swimming hole. It was soooo relaxing and it is amazing how different I feel just a few days after having the worst day on the trail.
My parents finally came and I spent 3 days with them doing tourist stuff in Sierra City and the nearby Downieville. We explored Big Spring Gardens (which were a bust), and went on an amazing tour of the Kentucky Mine where I unashamedly rode in the ore car with a bunch of kids! We had a lot of fun learning about the gold rush and how they harvested gold from the Sierra Buttes. Each night we cooked dinner in our room at the Herrington’s Resort and it felt like home. Spending a few days with my family was much needed and appreciated. I know it will be difficult to part, but they are both happy that I want to continue on. The next time I see my mom and dad will be when I get to Manning Park in Canada. I have that and a long road trip home to look forward to!

It has been a great trip so far. I have had many ups and many downs and I am learning to recognize the pattern and work through the hard parts with the knowledge that good parts are ahead. Each day I am a little stronger and I truly feel that I can make it all the way. Oregon here I come! I can’t believe I am almost done with the state of California – and what a beautiful state it is! I’ll always be a California girl, no matter where I am. I love this state!

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Mammoth to Sonora Pass

As I said in my previous post, goodbyes are painful out here and the day I parted with Brian it was rainy, cold, and miserable. It was a sad day. I resisted getting out of my tent the next morning because it was still raining, but eventually I did and prepared myself for a day of hiking in the rain again. That day ended up being so incredibly beautiful, one of the most beautiful days hiking I’ve had on the PCT. The forest comes alive when it rains, birds stay out all day because it was like the morning never faded away. Clouds majestically rested on mountain tops, feeding distant waterfalls and lakes while all the plants were covered in dew. Hiking in the rain isn’t so bad! Getting out of my tent and sucking up my complaints was a good decision and I had a great day hiking. One of the many lessons on the trail.
I hiked into Tuolumne Meadows which was gorgeous. There is so much water here in the Sierra’s, rivers flowing all over the place. Tuolumne River was one of the most beautiful of them all. Deep, lazy, and blue-green. I couldn’t resist jumping into its freezing cold waters! After some food and phone calls I hit the trail again for the final stretch to Sonora Pass. I was very excited to reach this destination because my friend Julie and her parents will be picking me up so we can celebrate 4th of July in Bridgeport! Which is something I had done many times as a kid, so this outing really got me motivated. I love having something to look forward to, it helps me a lot! My parents will be coming to see me in about 2 weeks also. It is sad to think that I only have 2 weeks left in the Sierra’s. Next is a bland spot in Northern California before I get to the Cascades!

This past section on the trail was different than the past month because it was a lot of gradual ups and downs instead of an 11,000 foot pass on a daily basis. It has been a nice break, but still challenging.

As I came up over Sonora Pass I was the only person on the mountain, which is normally no big deal but this time a huge thunder storm was looming overhead as I tried to beat it down the mountain. Didn’t happen, it started pouring rain, thundering, and lightening on an extremely exposed ridge with no tree’s. I was terrified being the tallest thing above 10,000 feet. I prayed aloud to make it down the mountain safely, and I did thankfully. However, down here at the Northern Kennedy Meadows Resort where I am waiting for Julie, I have been told that a woman down here in the valley was actually struck by lightening and killed while I was up on the mountain. Very sad and eye opening.

Well, I am going to enjoy this rest day and sit by the river, Life is good. I am strong!

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