September 21, 2010
I put my pictures up on facebook, which I didn’t really want to do, but did anyway. For people not on facebook you should be able to access the pictures through these links:
Southern California, parts 1-3
The Sierra, parts 1 and 2
Let me know if you have trouble with the links, but hopefully they should work.
I’ve been back for about a week and a half now and it has been strange. It is tough to think about things other than sleeping, walking, and eating. I definitely didn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my life on the trail. In fact everyday I would think of something different.
I did definitely form thoughts on thru-hiking though. Thru-hiking is an extreme mental, emotional, and physical challenge. It was hard to wrap my mind around going 25-30 miles everyday, that is a long way! Also, I felt that sometimes we were just cruising through these gorgeous sections of trail that in any other circumstance I would love to stop and lounge at or even camp at. As one hiker said, “the PCT is like the freeway of hiking.” While at times this was frustrating, most of the time I understood that it was just the way it was. I know that I am definitely going to be back to Northern Washington someday, it was too pretty to never revisit it. It helped to think that the PCT was a sort of scouting mission to seek out places that I might want to come back to or even live near someday.
Some things I learned on the PCT:
My proudest probably had to be learning to pee standing up with a pack on, that was great. My knee joints didn’t really hurt after that.
I learned that to unfreeze frozen shoes, pour water on them.
I learned how to blow snot rockets really well, something I didn’t even really learn how to do when I ran all the time.
I learned to not be afraid of bears, but to watch out for rodents.
I learned that I loved trekking poles! And they helped a ton in the Sierra and fording rivers and to use as crutches when my feet hurt.
I learned that while I like to hike alone sometimes it is really nice to have people around too.
My favorite piece of gear was my sunglasses, I loved those things so much. I will buy cheap solar shield sunglasses forever.
My worst piece of gear was my pack, but this is my own darn fault. As I shrank the pack fit worse and worse. In South Lake Tahoe I started noticing it and it just got worse. My hip belt was pulled completely tight at the end and still too loose and the pack just had too much to it. If I were to do it again I would get a smaller pack with less to it, meaning less adjustment straps and back padding. Maybe even make it myself. There were a lot of days when that pack made me completely and totally miserable.
The most uncomfortable ailment I had was definitely the foot rot in Northern California. It not only smelled terrible, but my feet ached and ached. It was pretty gross. Worse than the parasites and shin splints.
The worst hitch we had was out of Mt. Shasta. I had just gone on medicine for the parasite, was feeling bad, and we had to hitch for 2 hours in the heat to no avail. Then we ended up having to pay someone to bring us back to the trailhead. If I were to do that over I would have just gone to the nearest town to the trail even though it was small.
We had mostly great hitches, one of the best was probably to Ashland with a mom and her two sons. The kids were cute and they brought us right to a delicious Italian place. They were the second people to go by us too. Oregon hitching was a delight. The day into Lake Isabella was a pretty great string of hitches from the RV to the firefighter to the girl that fit 5 of us in her Saturn with packs.
The longest I went without a shower or doing laundry was 13 days, which was from Cascade Locks, OR to Skykomish, WA. A shower never felt so good after that, and I don’t think I’ve ever smelled so bad. It was pretty special.
I am still holding that I am a one trip wonder and won’t do anymore long thru-hikes, but who knows. I would definitely look into doing shorter trails. I would love to do the JMT when there is no snow, it will look so different! I would maybe like to do the Colorado Trail too. Maybe one day in the far distant future the CDT, but for now potentially sections of the Montana CDT if I’m still here.
Thanks for reading!
September 12, 2010
Well, we made it. On September 9 at about 7:15 pm we rolled up on Monument 78. It was after a 31 mile day through snow, sleet, rain, snow, and rainbows, so we were just kind of tired. I felt so relieved. I don’t think I’ve ever felt a bigger sense of relief ever. Crow Dog saw the monument first, we both saw the clear cut that the US chops at the border and I was excited, but more relieved. I hugged the monument, wondered where we were going to camp, took a few pictures, took a few more pictures, cooked dinner, and read the register and signed it.
Turns out… the monument was a terrible place to camp! Rampant with mice! For probably the third time on this trip I had a mouse run over my head. I shot up screaming, Crow Dog shot up yelling because I was screaming, what a fiasco! Coffee was made in the morning for the last eight miles in. It was a little sad that we were both pretty exhausted for the eight mile hike in the next morning, but it was only eight miles. And it finally didn’t rain down on us. It was a quiet last morning.
The last stretch into the border was quite lovely when it wasn’t raining. I still loved the state of Washington the most. The clouds provided some crazy dramatic landscapes. I wish we had seen a little bit more of the North Cascades, I could tell they were horribly beautiful from the little we saw through the clouds.
Glacier Peak wilderness was also spectacular. Most of the bridges were repaired and the blown down trees cut in half. The old growth was really eerie, but neat. The crossing of the Sciuattle River was exciting, on a wet, small, upward sloping tree with rushing glacial water below. Something my mind kept saying no to, but I made myself do it.
We also had an encounter with a ranger as Crow Dog was pooping 10 feet off the trail on a steep switchback. It was perhaps one of the most hilarious moments of the entire trail. The ranger said hi to him and then started talking at me. Once Crow Dog finished and came back on the trail he was being ridiculous behind the ranger, I busted out laughing, the ranger turned around, and reminded us of the ‘leave no trace’ policy. I laughed about that for the rest of the day.
Now I’m back in Bozeman. And there is SNOW in the mountains! What in tarnation?! The weather is very nice in the valley though. We had a good drive back through Canada. We went through Canadian wine and fruit country. I had this vision of picking apples in Washington and apparently you can just as easily do that in Canada, but I was too tired. Instead I just drank a raspberry milkshake and ate fruit.
What a trip though. I still haven’t really formulated too many thoughts on it. It was really epic. It was amazing, terrible, phenomenal, beautiful, scary, euphoric, hard, I guess the list could go on and on. It is incredibly bizarre to function around lots of people, to wear cotton clothes, to put on deodorant, to sleep in a bed, to change my clothes, to think about things I have to do besides eat, hike, sleep. Things definitely feel a little foreign right now. I’ll probably do a wrap up post soon and get pictures up hopefully soon, I’ll link to those when I get them up somewhere.
Thank you to everyone who helped, sent boxes, sent cards, gave words of encouragement, picked me up on the highway, housed me, lifted my spirits. It meant a lot and helped me keep on going. I couldn’t have done this without support.
September 1, 2010
So here I am chilling out at the Dinsmore’s in the sun. The past few days have been very rainy and cold. Last night was probably the worst of the rain. I haven’t posted all of Washington. I guess I haven’t posted that much at all. Let me start by saying… I LOVE Washington! It is beautiful and spectacular. It is also more hilly than Oregon, but gosh is it pretty. I made the claim that I loved Washington 10 hours into hiking out of Cascade Locks, but I’m not going back on it, I love it still. It is lush and green and filled with water. It is gorgeous!
Three days ago we hit Snoqualmie, I-90, the closest I was to Bozeman on the trail. I told Crow Dog I was going to hitch for 10 minutes and see what happened, but I didn’t. That was a coolish day. We hiked out of there with clouds descending. That night we camped on a not-so-abandoned trail. A bunch of people walked around our camping get up, oh well. The next day was on and off rain, not terrible. Yesterday was rain all day long. Into the evening it rained, including while setting up camp. Everything was wet and it was pouring. That was tough. Thankfully we had town to look forward to and as we descended it got warmer and sunnier. Now it is nice out, and everything is drying off and hopefully the weather pattern will hold until we finish. Getting excited about finishing!
A more upbeat story… on Saturday morning a group of 5 people out trail running informed us that we were going to be in the middle of a 100 mile trail race, the Cascade Crest. We would have 200 runners passing us by. This also meant… aide stations! These runners were running a station at Tacoma Pass. They offered us food. We got there just after lunch and snacked on some turkey sandwiches and watermelon. Only 5 runners had passed us at that point and they were running fast! We got cheered on by the people at the station waiting for family members or friends running. Crow Dog was embarassed, I was taking it in. Why not get cheered on for walking 2350 miles? The next aide station was 7 miles on, we hiked to that, while cheering on more runners and eating huckleberries while they passed. The next station was put on by a local high school cross country team. They were great and more food. We heard that the big aide station was a mere 4 miles on, so we hiked to that. Tomato soup! Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Candy! String cheese! What an inspirational day! The runners provided so much positive energy for our hike, it made it one of the best days of hiking yet.
Well with the end in sight I have mixed feelings, some days happy about it, some days sad. See you all on the flip side! Thanks for all your support.