Cold!

May 24, 2010

Team Roadwalk has been reunited, mostly.  Things have been going well.  Back to the 10 miles by 10 am schedule.  I have discovered that coffee makes me go fast, especially raw.  Thus far, Crow Dog has suggested just eating Emergen-C raw and then chasing with water, not a terrible idea.  It is kind of fun for the stuff to snap and crackle.  I don’t particularly enjoy Emergen-C either so it gets the vitamins overwith.  Today I tried instant coffee raw, gross!  That stuff does not go down easily.  This morning when I was hiking alone in the freezing weather (I thought we were supposed to be in the desert!), I looked down at my watch and noticed I was going 2 miles/hr, slow!  Yesterday we were practically doing 4 mph, thanks to coffee and pancakes.  Now I need to get coffee or tea. 

Also today I saw a baby black bear! Cute!  No mom in sight. 

I also ran through stinging nettles today trying to get water that clogged the filter.  Gross!  It had tadpoles.  Then Charlie swang by saying, yo there is a creek up ahead.  It had been all for naught.  Then Moleman came by and rescued me from the stinging nettles with his trekking pole.  Thanks Moleman.  He is also charging my battery, thanks Moleman. 

Tonight we try night hiking!  Hurrah!  Everyday out here feels very full, productive, challenging, and eventful.  Really enjoying the life on the trail.

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I’m at the Casa de Luna or the Anderson’s taking a real zero, zero.  This past week has been very chill.  Soon we will be in the grasps of the desert and then after that the Sierra, so I suppose it is okay.  We trekked 24 miles to get here and then decided to take one more day.  The weather has been nice, coolish by desert standard, so far, so good.  Yesterday I saw 2 more rattlers, bringing the total to 5.  Yesterday one large one wouldn’t really move.  It wasn’t really scary, I just didn’t want him to bite me.  He slithered off after a couple of minutes, they are neat looking animals.

I love the vibe of Casa de Luna, the only requirement is to sign the banner and wear a Hawaiian shirt.  We have been eating taco salads and pancakes and hot dogs.  It is very nice. I spent the day reading Roald Dahl’s The BFG and napping.  It is pretty quiet here today.

The Sierra have been on everyone’s mind and although it looks like there is a lot of snow, we are going to give it a whirl. With our iceaxes raised we will run into the Sierra.  It will probably be slow going, but I think we will make it.

Not too much else is going on.  I’m looking forward to the next parts of the trail and while the plush life has been nice, it will be fantastic to get back out and hike, hike, hike.

D is for Detour

May 20, 2010

I am in Agua Dulce, CA at mile 454.  We covered this section quick, quick because mostly it was a reroute around the Station Fire, which included pretty much all of the Angeles National Forest.  The road walk was rough especially because I pulled out my shoe liners to make my shoes bigger, but I hiked it with 5 other people and it made me that much happier to be on trails.  It was nice to hike along the road in a group, it would have been terrible alone.  We were also so lucky to get 2 cool days to do the road walk, as opposed to yesterday, when we finally hit the trail it was really hot.  That part was especially nice.  We also met some great people along the detour.  The old farmer at Blum Ranch was so interesting to talk to.  We ended up sitting around drinking sodas while he told us stories for over an hour.  It was really great.  Their ranch that has peaches, pears, plums, lilacs, honey, and walnuts was gorgeous and has been around since 1891!  We also met a family that took us in so we didn’t have to sleep by the side of the road, very nice!  I got caught up on the Biggest Loser, as they had a daughter around my age.

I had an amazing time in Wrightwood.  Guthook, Crow Dog, and I had some superb trail magic.  We stayed with a great couple who took us in and fed us and filled us up with homebrew too.  We also got to lounge around in their hot tub and hang out with their dog Clancy.  Then we moved to Susan and Ray’s and I got to play with their adorable 2 year old baby Logan.  Cute, cute! 

We hit the trail and have been pulling big days up to 25 miles in order to make it to Agua Dulce.  There are tons of hikers here at the Saufleys.  Some people have hitched around the detour and such, people are doing all sorts of crazy things this year.  Last night we enjoyed a great dinner at the Sweetwater Cafe and stayed for a long time.  The Croatian Sensation was good friends with one of the guys there from incidents in years past so we all got a round of shots. 

Off to Breakfast!

Hikers!

May 10, 2010

The hiking community is something different than I expected, in a good way!  It feels like the way a community should be.  On trail and off the community is great.  While one hiker is not responsible for another, there is a sense of comraderie that if something does happen there are a ton of people that have your back. 

In town it is nice to see the people that are all around you on the trail, but that I don’t necessarily see.  It is good to catch up and share stories.  It is nice to be able to go into a restaurant and sit with hikers even if you didn’t come with them, or to say hi to them in passing.  We are really easy to recognize.

On the trail, the community is even stronger.  Who you see is obviously all up to chance on the trail.  Everyday feels so long, yet so short too.  When all you are doing is hiking and chatting with hikers you get to know them well within a couple of days.  For instance, I met Wolf Taffy, Anne, and Guthook only 2 weeks ago, but it seems as if I’ve known them for months and months, despite the fact that it hasn’t been that long.  All we really do swap stories in and out all day long.  There is also a strong bond and understanding between hikers too, sharing this intense and common experience. 

There have definitely been some hikers who I have connected with much better than others and the connection is realized much quicker than out of the woods, at least for me.  I get along really well on many levels with some hikers and the converstions have been really meaningful and interesting.  Also, sometimes without even realizing it, some interactions have profound attitude adjustments for me.  Hiking with Crow Dog I just started to feel really positive and excited about the trail although we weren’t really talking about moods on the trail. 

People who aren’t hiking are so receptive to our journey.  People are willing to give rides to the trail, tote us around town to run our errands, punch in their numbers for savings at the grocery store, or just even walk up to you and say “You’re a hiker, right? I can spot one of you from a mile off!”  My favorite is when a local gives some bit of interesting history about where the trail goes through.  Since we cover such a large distance it is hard to comprehend each area we go through.  I like to learn about where we are walking.  I would love to know more around the flora and fauna too and like hiking with people who do know about it. 

Some of this might be abstract, but since I have the time today I thought that I would delve a little bit more into the experiences I’ve been having.  So far people have been really supportive and great.

Currently in Big Bear Lake, 265.5 miles in.  The past few days have been great, great!  This journey has certainly been very physically challenging, but even more challenging has been the mental and emotional aspect of it. 

Going solo has been an adjustment for sure, but I feel as if in this last stretch that I am finally starting to get it down.  Granted the longest stretch without people has been about 5 hours, and I have yet to camp solo, but there were definitely aspects of this journey that as a solo venturer I was nervous about.  There are certainly pros/cons to traveling solo.  Being the sole one responsible for me is sort of daunting, but there are always people around even if it feels like there isn’t.  A pro is that I get to do what I want when I want to, and there is always the same amount of work for me to do.  There is only me to consider.  Sometimes planning the day by myself is tough, but I’m getting better at it.  The good side is that I can do whatever my body feels like doing for the day.  The reality of the trail though is that there are a lot of people around and it is fun to hike with a variety of people and not be committed to one.  More about people and the hiking community in the next post.

In terms of the past few days.  I really missed my original group coming out of Idyllwild.  I road walked around Fuller Ridge, which I know was the right decision because there are only hairy stories that have come out of people that have done that section.  Most people said ice axes and crampons were necessary.  I’m not really going to go into all that, but I walked around that section.  I experienced enough snow in the Saddle Junction area and although I’m sure I would have made it through, I probably wasn’t quite ready for that experience so early on mentally.  Anyway, we came down, down, down from the mountains to the Table Mesa Wind Farm.  I started hiking with Crow Dog, who is much faster than me, but we got along real well so we hiked together for much of the next section.  It got hot as we climbed out of the wind farm and ran into prisoners doing trail work and asked them about this Whitewater Creek we were supposed to be coming to, they said it was a big river.  We carried on with the thought of jumping into the river at the end of the hot day.  When we finally got there after hot, hot we jumped in and it changed the day, it was superb.  Then we camped right next to the water. The next day we climbed to 8500 feet and it was a cold night.  I was nervous about the snow coming into Big Bear and was cold that night so when Crow Dog asked if I wanted to leave at 5am I just got up and started walking.  The change from cold/hot/cold/hot has been often.    The snow in that next section was not so bad so I exchanged cameras with Crow Dog and we made it look extreme and took lots of pictures.  Finally some pictures with me in it, those will be coming eventually. 

I got into Big Bear yesterday morning, ate breakfast at Thelmas and decided to zero (not hike at all) today.  I’m pretty excited and my body definitely needed a break even though I’m itching to hike again.  I’m really getting into this hiking thing.  Hiking for 10 hours a day is becoming normal and fun.  Everyday is a journey and it is so beautiful out here. 

Miss you all and thanks for all of the comments, I love reading them.

Idyllwild, 179 miles

May 4, 2010

I’m hanging out in the lovely town that is Idyllwild, CA.  Been a good last few days.  Lots of trail magic so far, including some detrimental, yet still appreciated burritos.  The hiking has been an interesting mix of desert and mountains.  The desert part has been hot.  Even the desert divide has been hot, yet there has been snow too.  Yesterday was a crazy day with snow, some off trail excitement, some sketch traverses, etc.  It took quite awhile to accomplish our supposed to be short 16 mile day, which was probably more of a 20 something mile day, nobody knows for sure.  The snow was gorgeous though and it was crazy to round a corner with snow and then see a bunch of lizards running around.  The San Jacintos are lovely.

Also of note, first successful hitch of the trip yesterday as well, which very lucky.  I was dreading walking into town late at night after the snow, my feet where aching and wet and cold, so I threw my thumb out and a pickup picked us up, yes!  The road ended at the trailhead so the chances where slim, but a super Scottish couple let us ride in their truck bed into town.  We ate some great pizza and crashed at the campground, long day.  

Since Andrew asked, I don’t yet have a trail name, names that have been proposed that I have declined: feminine mystique, which I don’t really know where that came from, also Crazy Lips because of my Burts Bees chapstick, BMW standing for bodacious mountain woman.  I have not taken any of these, it is still early though, so there Andrew.

Today is a zero and I’m stocking up for the next section to Big Bear.  Should be good, hopefully.  

Thanks for the comments and for reading!