Agua Dulce to Mojave 109 miles

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IMG_0703It’s official. My trail name is Otherworld. The past week has been both amazing and challenging. I skipped about 200 miles from Idyllwild to Agua Dulce to make it to the Sierra’s on time since I repeatedly had to get off the trail for school. I began last thursday afternoon one week ago in a hot, deserty, small town with huge, loud electricity things that made me feel like I was going to get cancer if I stood beneath them for too long. That evening turned out to be so much more beautiful than I expected. I climbed with other hikers as the sun began setting. The hills were multi-colored due to recent fires. The colors of the sun setting, the yellow grasses, and the matilijah poppies were out of this world. I hiked into the night and camped by myself near a water cache. The trail lead me through, around, up, and down beautiful chaparral covered hills in the Angeles National Forest. I saw deer, lizards, snakes, and brightly colored birds. I hiked mostly alone but made friends at water caches and in camp. As I descended out of the forest back down onto the desert floor, the land opened up into a big tan landscape covered in thousands of eery windmills. Now I’ve been hiking through those windmills for 4 days and the wind in the valley got up to 60 miles per hour, and I felt straight out of a movie, with my clothes blowing back, my body leaning forward against the wind, and just being totally thrown around with every step I took. I am in Mojave now and am greatful for a motel room that keeps the wind out. My body is not very happy with the trail food, but it will have to get used to it. My feet are okay, but these new shoes are too small now that my feet have been swelling and the insoles I had in them caused serious blisters on my toes and in my arch so I’ve been hiking without them… I’m in town now and have lots of errands to run. I wouldn’t say Mojave is a very wonderful place, but at least I get a break before the long trek to Kennedy Meadows, 144 miles which will take me approximately 8-9 days. I’m hiking 17-20 miles a day and I am doing well. I am challenged and at times I yell at the wind, but the wind always wins. I’m getting into my groove and I’m feeling good. I will update when I get to Kennedy Meadows in a week and a half. Peace!

Life is So Good!

I returned home last week to tie up some loose ends with my resupply plan as well as to finish school and graduate, what came was so much more than that! This week has been so full of love, blessings, and congratulations that it is making it really hard to get back on the trail! Oh don’t you worry, I’m heading back out on Wednesday! I am just excited for so many things… I finished my last 2 classes at San Diego State University and then on Friday I attended the commencement ceremony for my graduation from college! I had ten guests who either got off work early or took the entire day off just to honor my achievement. My parents, my brother, sister and her whole family, as well as the love of my life Brian, his mother and my friend Danielle attended. The next day, Brian proposed to me at Mission Trails with a ring that he made himself from fallen manzanita wood. He inlayed it with silver and jade from a rock we found together while exploring a riverbed in the Northern California Redwoods. It is beautiful, and I couldn’t ask for a more loving and committed man. Both our families received the news with welcome smiles and hugs. Being away from him while hiking the trail is one of my most difficult challenges of this hike, especially now that we have a lot to talk about and plan. The idea is when I get back we will start the planning (In September) and will be married in March or April of 2014 (less than a year away). After the wedding, we’ll set off into our future together by finding a place for us to share our life. No idea where yet, that is the exciting part!

I am working on my last few boxes and small details before I begin hiking again and will be posting blogs weekly or biweekly, so please keep checking back. šŸ™‚

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Miles 109-178

After a long drive to North County to pick up my new travelin’ flute, we headed east back to Warner Springs so that I could continue right where I had left off the week before. My legs always start to whine a little bit when they know I’m getting back on the trail, but it doesn’t take long for them to get back into the groove. On the way to the trail head I saw lots of other hikers along the road which pleased me because I knew I wouldn’t be alone. Not sure why but knowing people are behind you and ahead of you gives you a sense of peace of mind. When I’m not sure if anyone is around I feel alone and vulnerable – which is something I should probably overcome. I came into this independently and did not expect to be relying on the safety of having others around, although it is nice. On this whole trip so far I have not spent a single night alone on the trail… I’d actually like to have the opportunity to do that, but it hasn’t arisen. Anyway, so we picked up a couple hikers and drove them to the community center so they didn’t have to walk on the nasty asphalt (which I’ve learned is very painful for thru-hiking feet). I hit the trail and saw some familiar faces on the way but happily hiked along by myself. I started out real strong but started to teeter off on the uphill into the foothills of the San Jacinto mountains. It was exposed, very little shade and once again I have the urgency to always keep going – which really tires me out by the end of the day. I am still developing an efficient process for each day – get up early, eat, pack and hit the trail before the sun hits it first (very hard for me – I take forever to do everything). Then, taking well-deserved rests throughout the day, feeding myself when I am hungry, and taking care of hot spots on my feet before they become blisters. I have managed that pretty well as I only have had 2 so far! It’s all a learning process and I’m sure I will get it down in time – especially now that beginning next week I will be on the trail for the rest of the summer, none of this escaping back to home weekly. Finally I am really “kicking off” and gettin the hell outta here! Anyway, I’m having trouble sticking to one line of thought – so I hiked all that day till I was pooped and stayed at Trail Angel Mikes cabin with lots of other hikers where we were fed and slept comfortably in cots. A storm was brewing the next day and after hiking all day, had to run for shelter around 4pm because it was raining buckets and lots of thunder and lightening – it was sooo cool! I was so content and warm inside my lovely tent. I really like it in there, sometimes I’m like… a bed? Well, I think I’d rather sleep on the ground in my tent. šŸ™‚ The days are still long. I hike about 15-20 miles a day and I am still hiking through hot, exposed, desert-like hills. I am very excited to get into some mountains with trees! I did get a little break in Idyllwild where I camped with other hikers and ran into more familiar faces. On Saturday, my love Brian drove up and got us a cabin to stay in and we spent the day enjoying the town together before he drove me home on Sunday afternoon. Here are some photo’s of where I have been thus far…

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Miles 43-109

Hi there.. I am home once again from another 5 day section on the Pacific Crest Trail. Each time I come home, I want to be out even more. I don’t want to be home! But duties, they still call. I hiked into Warner Springs this morning, mile 109 on the PCT. I am feeling strong and capable – definitely starting to feel like I’m getting my “trail legs”. I only have one blister and the biggest problems I have are exhaustion and hunger, which can be fixed easily! Sleep and eat šŸ™‚ I don’t take a whole lot of photo’s because the going is tough through the desert and I want to just keep moving all the time. The one thing that drives me is water – where is my next water source? That is where I am going whether it is 8, 17, or 25 miles away. I’m getting there.

I did my first 20 mile day on Wednesday through some big, dry, hot mountains and there were moments when I asked myself “Why the hell am I doing this?” because it was pretty miserable. I think the high was probably 102 degrees that day and I hiked from 7 am till about 7pm, taking rests in the shade every now and then. I had to ration my water, but I made it there hydrated enough. I think I am through one of the hardest sections of the trail… but either way I am still glad I did it and I have definitely gotten through it and feel that I could get through it again if I needed to.

I stayed in Julian for about 24 hours and hitch hiked back down to scissors crossing for a night hike into the San Felipe Hills. I met a lot more people along the trail again, camped with wonderful people all along the way, even had a PCT bridge party at scissors crossing where some trail angels had brought coolers full of alpine beer and ice cream. It has been great and I am sad to keep getting off the trail but soon that will be over. I’m having a blast and getting stronger every day!

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First 42 Miles

 

Hey everybody, I’m back! I have a class tomorrow so I had to get off the trail until Tuesday. On Wednesday I began my hike with my new friend Heather from the Southern Terminus of the PCT at the Mexican border. We hiked into the evening until there wasn’t enough light to see the trail and found a flat spot to set up camp about 8 miles in. It sprinkled a little bit the first evening but it was fine. I didn’t sleep too good the first night though. The following day we hiked the remaining 12 miles to Lake Morena where the ADZPCTKO (PCT Kick Off) was being held from Thursday to Sunday. I hiked a lot on my own the second day, it just felt right for me to go at my own pace and just move with my rhythm. We spent 2 days wandering Kick Off, watching seminars on injury, desert hiking, and tons of great stuff as well as doing yoga, eating good food, and meeting other people who have the same plans to hike to Canada. It was fun, but I was excited to get back on the trail so Saturday evening I set off on my own and hiked about 8 miles until once again it was too dark to see the trail. I set up camp on a ridge overlooking the mountains and the 8 freeway – the freeway wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it reminded me how close to home I was despite how “out there” I felt, especially being alone. Later that evening, night-hiking friends joined me and made me feel not so alone and in the middle of nowhere šŸ™‚ Today, I woke up in that spot and hiked about 15 miles uphill to the Mount Laguna Lodge where my parents picked me up for my first “zero” day. It was sad to leave my trail friends and to leave the trail in general. I can’t wait to get back out there. I hiked the first 42 miles of the PCT and I can’t wait to jump back on. Everything is going good so far… šŸ™‚

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Ok Here We Go

So today is the day! Yep it sure is.

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So this is what 5 months worth of food looks like! Who could imagine consuming this much food!! šŸ™‚

IĀ  spent the last 4 days grocery shopping and putting together meals. My friend Julia, my mom, dad, sister, my boyfriend Brian, and fellow thru hiker Heather all helped me since I definitely could not have done it by myself in such a short amount of time. Trail magic already… šŸ™‚

Today, Heather and I are headed to the Southern Terminus of the PCT!!! Will write about the Kick Off next week. Check back soon!

I’m off!

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I have to do…. math? I was an outdoor rec major for a reason! Who would think hiking for 5 months would require so much math. I am currently working on getting all of my food prepared ahead of time (note:—-> 5 days till I leave!) so I am a little frazzled at the moment, trying to calculate ingredients for 200 breakfasts, 200 lunches, and 200 dinners. It is a very daunting task, but I am determined to get this done in order to make for a more relaxing hike. By doing this I am avoiding weekly grocery trips in town. I like the idea of going into town as little as possible – really only for the biweekly resupply because I don’t have a lot of money to spend on restaurants and hotels. Plus, I am doing this to be outdoors. I think I will enjoy some rest days in the wilderness. I imagine camping by rivers or lakes for 1-2 days and swimming and getting clean while I rest my tired feet and legs. Most days will be spent waking to the soft light of dawn and hitting the trail, resting when necessary and even napping if I feel like it. I am starting the trail going about 10 miles per day but will work my way up to 20-25 making about 10 hours of hiking. I am determined to go at my own pace though, because this is about having fun – not about pushing myself beyond my limits. This is going to be an enjoyable and beautiful long hike through the mountains, deserts, and valleys. I often feel as though I have missed too many sunrises and sunsets being indoors all the time, now I will have the chance to see them every day for 5 months. This is one thing I am most excited for… I love to watch the sky and the land change colors as the sunlight begins and ends each day.

Everyone keeps asking me if I am excited, and I am very much so. But I have so many thoughts and emotions flooding me that I usually feel overwhelmed by them and can’t seem to filter through them before a new flood of emotions come. I think once I get on the trail my mind will calm and life will finally simplify and quiet down so that I may hear the trees flowing in the wind and the sound of my breathe as I take each step. Life is incredible, and I am so happy to be blessed with a healthy mind and body to take me to the places I want to go and gives me a vessel through which to feel joy. I am almost there… just keep swimming šŸ™‚ I am so close!

This ain’t no joke no mo

Everyday hiking the PCT becomes less of an idea and more of a reality. Last night I said my last goodbyes to all of the people I worked with at Felicita Park and when I got home it really hit me that things are changing and I am in transition to something amazing and new. I was simultaneously sad and happy. I just cannot believe experiencing such positive goodbyes! They BBQ’d on my last day and everyone came (except for NICK – hope you’re reading this! haha). My bosses all had kind words to share about my time at Felicita and they all sent me off with hugs and smiles. It was a happy time and it was one of those moments in life that have been pretty rare for me, when I really feel accepted, appreciated, and like I am noticed for who I am. It feels great to be leaving on such a good note and I look forward to visiting and possibly working there again when I get back home in September sometime.

We all took ownership of the park. I loved it and smiled often at its beauty. I loved taking care of a place so special, so full of history, happy people, and wildlife. I was exactly where I needed to be during the short time I spent working there. I’m going to miss the coyotes and hawks, the menacing flocks of crows, the egrets and herons who caught gophers in the meadows (too bad they didn’t eat squirrels). I’ll miss the squirrels too, though and all the little hummingbirds who are with babies in their nests now, the cute duck pairs, and the crawdads in the creek. I’ll miss the oak trees and the woodpeckers, and the sweet little wrens who visited me at lunch on my “secret” rock. Most of all, I will miss the people I worked with. Each one of them contributed to who I am becoming, and I am so lucky to have known such good people with big hearts (even if they didn’t wear it on their sleeve, they can’t hide it from me). I love people. People make me happy and kindness and compassion spreads like wildfire. Here is to reality setting in! In 1.5 weeks I’ll be beginning my adventure on the PCT and during this wait I will be planning all my food resupplies and getting a few more things to carry in my pack. This ain’t no joke no mo!

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A Pacific Crest Trail kind of Graduation

It’s a very strange feeling that in just a few months I will be embarking on the adventure of my life. I have been in college for what seems like forever, I think it will be about 7 years when I graduate, not to mention a lifetime in school since I learned to speak! I don’t regret it, but school definitely has not always been the best part of my life – in fact much of it was the opposite. I was always the tiny sweet girl who was targeted by aggressive, self-conscious kids who had negative upbringings. Even as a little girl, there were other little girls who would tear me apart emotionally. This evolved on through middle school, and especially high school. Years and years of harassment made me even quieter to the distant eyes – but to my small, close circle of friends I was always colorful, loud, and joyful. That joy is what gave me strength, if I had not had that, I may be a beaten down person today. Though I am still sensitive and my confidence could use some work I do believe that those years in school made me a very strong and outspoken person. I also learned that everything anyone ever said/did to me was a reflection of their inner self which helped me define who I did and did not want to be.

I continued school despite the hardships, college was much easier. Everyone sort of did their own thing and kept to themselves, which I like to do so it has worked for me. I do not consider myself an “academic” person, but I am about to graduate college with a B.S. in Outdoor Recreation which is something I fell in love with years ago. I decided I wanted to be a “professional hiker”, whatever that is! Through my life I have battled the norm and my passions and love in life has been my real driver – not what the world says I should be doing. I know that life is not easy no matter what you do, but doing something you love is what makes life worth everything. I know that my life is going to me amazing after college. Finally, I can see the light and my freedom is coming. I am about to walk off into the wilderness.

The day after I graduate, I will be walking from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail – a ~2,655 mile hike. It sounds crazy, I know – but to me it sounds like I am finally going home. I am going to where I have wanted to be for so long. All those days in class, all those days at work – this is all I have ever wanted – AND I AM FINALLY DOING IT. It’s February, and I’ve just begun my planning process. I am spending my days dreaming about what it will be like. I have been hiking more to get back into shape and to get ready for some real training hikes coming up in April after I leave my job. Each time I find myself on a trail now I pretend like I’ve been hiking for days and that I am looking through the eyes of a thru hiker (on a 2 hour hike haha). I have been staying up late with my headlamp in bed reading Yogi’s PCT Handbook and learning as much as I can, or simply storing information in my brain for later. I am excited, and a little afraid. Can I do this? Yes, I can. But will I know that when I am alone and confronted with something very difficult on the trail? I want to make sure I keep my right mind and stay on the trail – the last thing I want to do is leave my job only to come home a month later. I AM going to do this, and I AM going to walk from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail!! Slowly but surely I am getting things together, I have asked my boyfriend to be my resupply support person because I think it will be a good way to stay connected and to have the experience of relying on him as my partner in life, even when we are apart. I have also asked my friend Julia to transcribe my journals for me as I mail them to her since I will not be using any kind of tablet for journaling. I really like the feeling of pen and paper and don’t think I will be as connected with my journals if I were typing them.

I have bought some gear but most of it I have already, so I am really only filling gaps and will probably have to replace some gear along the way. Money is somewhat of an issue – I expect to have about $3000 for the whole trip but I really need to start budgeting the purchases I am making so I know exactly how much I will have while on the trail. Unfortunately, all this PCT stuff is contributing to my huge lack of care for my 2 classes this semester. I really do not want to deal with them, and have the mindset of a graduate already – except I DO have homework, every dang week. I am so excited to graduate and celebrate my lifetime of education with the hike of my life, doing what I love and have waited for for so long.

I have also been using the PCT-L email list to ask lots of questions like how to thru-hike away from your lover and remain connected, how much underwear to bring, and other relevant inquiries. I am communicating personally with other thru-hikers and hope to be well enough prepared to hike my own hike once I hit that beautiful trail.

I wonder what my trail name will be….. šŸ˜€