Holy cow, with minimal reception, and wanting to save battery power, I've been behind on blog posts, but ahead on amazing adventures and building memories that I can't even begin to explain every story at the moment... But let me try to sum up some of them for you...
South Tahoe was an amazing rest day! Stinger (my hiking buddy since Kennedy Meadows South -- triple crowner, veteran, total babe, and friend for life), has amazing friends in Tahoe, and they totally rocked the stay with their awesome hospitality. Everything from driving us to the grocery store to resupply food, going with us to see Jurassic World, driving us to In-n-Out in Carson city (where I conquered my first 4x4... Look it up), and partying generously at their home.
I slept at the hostel, which was the coolest place for some personal time. I got my own room, baked thumb drop and sugar cookies like Betty Crocker, made an amazing breakfast with other hikers, received the book, The Alchemist (which I have since finished and passed on to Stinger), and showered and laundered my dirty clothes. Recharge and relax.
One of the evening, we walked out to some marsh land along Tahoe lake, and starred at the lake while the sun set over the rim. The lake reminded me of the ocean, and warmed my heart. No photo unfortunately, except the one I keep in my heart. Priceless.
Hot weather hit hard once back on the Tahoe Rim, but lakes and rivers made afternoon swimming a normal thing if the wind wasn't too strong. Wild flowers are WILD and so beautiful in their many colors. Sierra City was awesome, because Christina (life long friend from middle school) visited with her mom and cousin Brooke. They brought beer, and hung out all afternoon in a swimming hole with myself and other hikers. The hikers have become family to me, and it's so rad when friends from home can come out and meet these other incredible people.
Ladies Man, Nude-o, Fly Ballz, Franklinstein, Nips, Face, Easy Rider, Suds, Growler, Double Puff, Night Shift, Copenhagen, Tarzan, Pocahontas, RADish, Hawk Guy, Tangled, Houdini, Occupy, Rattles, Ace, You Again, Lebowski, Phoenix, Beetlejuice, Hawaii, Courage, Beer Goddest, One of Us, Rebo, Nominal Toast, Foot Hawk, Skunk Ape, Bender, Fun Jumper, Wormwood, Ram, Wind Screen, Buds, Garbelly, Stan, Delux, Giggles, Simba, Puppy, Lone Wolf, Herro, Legs, Weekend, and of course Stinger.. All trail family, even if I don't know their real names. Ha! We all share such a bond because we are going through the same physical struggles, and are connected by our determination and common goodwill.
Stinger and I summited Mt. Lassen AND IT WAS SO AMAZING! We hitched out of Old Station to the front of the park, and then luckily hitched to base camp from someone from Costa Rica! We hit the trail before sunrise, and climbed to the top for one of my favorite views on trail yet. So beautiful -- I love being high up in elevation, especially for sunrise. We could see Mt. Shasta from the top, and since then, it has been a frequent distant mountain in the landscape. We were going to climb that too, but conditions were not good (even though a few other hikers did it, and I was jealous).
Thunder and intense lightning hit hard the days following our summit. Perfect timing.
Burney Falls was beautiful, and they sold beer in the State Park! Good craft beer too! Major score :)
Stinger is tall, but not next to these trees! I left Stinger at Castella because he was waiting for a package, and it's amazing how I miss him! We got into this solid rythem, from making coffee to setting up camp. Hopefully he catches up to me soon!
I ran into Nude-o (who I haven't seen since before Tahoe!) while leaving Castella and Castle Crags State Park. Beautiful volcanic rock that jets out of the mountainside made my trip epic. Wink. Nude-o and I camped on this beautiful hillside, and the following days hiked 28, 27, and 27 miles into Etna. That's over a marathon everyday! My feet were so sore hitching into Etna, but Etna Brewing Company, their IPA, Jalepeno Burger, and brownie ice cream desert made the long mile days worth it. Also, the company.
So, I'm over halfway.
Almost to 1,600 miles.
Almost to Oregon.
I'm currently in a motel room, with Easy Rider, Nips, and Nude-O. These dudes are the coolest, most hard working, passionate, driven, creative guys... Much like most people on trail. We talk ideas, brainstorm the future, share adventures, laugh about living, smile about life, and drink like sailors. Last night, we passed out on a lawn in the RV park in town after a fun night including bike riding, shotgunning Olympias, and smiling at the miles we accomplished just before. We earned last night's partying session, which led to today's rest zero in the AC motel room.
This has gone from a vacation to a lifestyle. Talula (my backpack) and I have been through blood, sweat, tears, snow, rain, lightning, and some serious sun.
I think I have fallen in love...
With the trail.
Avocados? Packed. Beer? Drank. Fuel? Yes. Electronics? Charged.
Heading back into the woods from being in town for a night is always a wonderful feeling. It's becoming home out here. Rain falling from the sky made me both happy to have an umbrella while hiking, and excited to set up camp early in the day to just sit in the warmth of my sleeping bag and tent while the rain settles for the evening. We knew the forecast, but didn't stress at the 60% chance of rain and thunderstorms. You just deal with it, and honestly, I freaking love the sound of thunder when it barrels deep through the valleys below. It makes me smile and become aroused by the energy of the clouds. It's a rush. Staying dry can be a daily struggle, but it becomes normal to be taking precautions on a hour to hour basis. Gore-tex shoes make jumping in the sloshy snow and sludgy mud a pretty fun pastime, and the Golite umbrella rules for both sun and rain.
The Sierras are fucking incredible. Beautiful passes that climb a few thousand feet and then quickly drop thousands of feet reveal pockets of California's incredible forests. John Muir Wilderness, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Saphire Lake, Evolution Lake, the Golden Staircase... These places take my breath away on a normal basis. Seriously, I am always saying, "Jesus Fucking Christ" or "Oh God Damn" as I drop my jaw and trip out on the epic and monumental landscape. It's fucking unreal how beautiful it is out here. There are times where I am walking for hours, literally hours, uphill nonstop - switchback after switchback. I find my mind completely clear when I'm fighting exhaustion and focusing on my breath, pace, hydration level, and each step. Then flashes of thoughts roll in my head and then quickly out again. And then back to clear. It's like the world's greatest meditation stair master workout plan. My legs are fucking nuts. Super strong and lean, but also beat the fuck up from ice, snow, and twigs. I am climbing over fallen trees, hopping on rocks and balancing on logs to pass over rivers frequently.
Shit, fording rivers is not a surprising daily thing either out here. The other day, I wanted to make it to the Muir Ranch hot springs, and after a long ass day (26 miles) down from Muir Pass (where I stealthy slept to avoid bad weather and melted snow), and then afternoon showers, I finally made it, but didn't know you had to ford a river to get there... Shitty. Fording rivers is kind of sketch, and lame when you wear slow drying shoes and the level is high. Luckily that night, even though the water current was strong and up above my thighs, I was going to get into the hot springs quickly after, and would be okay... So the silver lining? Crossing back over the next morning, when the temperature was cold and so was my body. Luckily, the 8 miles of uphill immediately after the river helped. Every up has the down out here... And it's all up and down in the Sierras. Lots of balance. It's been good for reflections and thoughts.
It's an incredible feeling to stand on top of a mountain pass and look back at the thick forested mountain range you either just crossed, or are just about to cover. Rivers and waterfalls flow from the snow melt up top, and fall loudly into the lakes and streams below. Wild onion grows near water beds, and marmots and chipmunks quickly travel throughout the terrain. No sign of bears... yet.
Everyone I meet and pass are each so inspiring and loaded with a warm heart and positive outlook on life. We say you can't be an asshole and hike this trail... You wouldn't make it. Attitude is a huge part of one's success. Hiking in the rain for hours... Fording rivers at fucking 6am when it's fucking cold as balls... Cowboy camping next to your bear can... Getting your feet soaked right after changing into clean socks... Carrying the extra weight of four avocados because they make every meal better... Missing a sign and getting miles off trail and having to backtrack... Post holing up to your waiste and having to crawl out of the snow and ice... But this is what I came out here to experience. This is the challenge I knew I would face. It's been everything I dreamed and more.
My attitude and the attitude of the other hikers make this trip so solid and loaded with endless smiling and laughs shared. Daily, I am breathing so deeply from my lungs and laughing so deeply from in my stomach. Since we battle the same challenges, everyone is instantly connected and bonded by humanity, courage, and perseverance. It's fucking beautiful. We share ideas, hobbies, memories, dreams, goals, and accomplishments. They are trail-family to me, and have so much charisma, charm, and beauty. Surrounded by those who inspire me to never stop growing and acquiring knowledge through experiences is amazing. This shit is amazing.
Mosquitos suck. Hiker-hunger is real. Mammoth Brewing rocks. Balance is critical. People are amazing. The earth is huge. The universe is magical.
Stoked on life.
Holy cow, so I have not had any service since before Kennedy Meadows, so my apologies for the delay! This trip is aasammmaazzziiinnnggg. Everyday something new and exciting happens, which both challenges my physical strength and my mind. I have finally hit the Sierras - a dream come true. The landscape has changed from cacti and water shortage, to sequoias providing balanced shade, rocks that stack high above 10,000 feet, and rivers every few miles or so. I've been using my life straw lots, which saves times used filtering through the Sawyer mini, and weight in my pack. The bear barrel though... is a pain in the neck... but highly valuable for protecting my food. I saved a ton of money preparing my food before the trip, but I still find myself running into every grocery store while in town to resupply on produce and other fresh foods. Avocados are a popular carry-out on trail, also cheeses and beer. The things people carry to gain that little bit extra comfort while in the mountains make the world of a difference for food-happiness.
Sooooo I climbed Mt. Whitney!!!!! It's the tallest point in the southern 48 states! And it was the day after my highest mile day - which was 27 miles!! Let's just say I was pretty exhausted climbing over Forester Pass (which is the highest point on the actual PCT trail). The weather has been amazing, so every mountain top reached has shared incredible views and a remarkable feeling of accomplishment. The down hill from Forrester Pass was both hilarious, and fucking difficult. It faces the north, so the snow level was high, but the afternoon when I was going down, the snow was slushy and a total pain. I remember at one point, I was trenching through the snow waste deep, my knees were bloody from the ice ripping off knee scabs I acquired while running downhill days prior, hands were red and sprinkled with sharp ice... And as I stood there, with over 200 feet of snow left to make it to solid dirt, all I could think about was my mom being pissed if she saw me in my current state. Bloody, icy, sun burnt, and in a possibly dangerous position if I sunk too deep into the icy snow. Anyways, made it through, laid in the sun near a beautiful lake to dry off, and continued on my way. Every difficult situation renders someone beautiful once complete. As I walked down the valley that evening to my campsite, baked in every form possible, the smile on my face was so large, pure, and satisfying.
The amount of people on trail lowers each day... But that's okay because thousands of people registered for thru hike permits. Either people slow down to rest and recover, or they are skipping ahead to avoid the snow, or are leaving trail, tired and beat. Everyday I hear of someone else stopping... I don't think I'll get to that point, but I know I have some difficult terrain ahead.
Now since in the Sierras, lake swimming is a daily activity, which is so cool! I want to get my fishing license so I can eat some of the fish I swim with on the regular.
Hitch hiking is more comfortable, and don't worry, I never hitch alone.
My pinky toes hate me.. I feel bad for the little guys.
I eat so much... Or I CAN eat so much. Food is such a treat, but super mandatory when you start feeling your energy level drop. There are times, when you have to climb a few thousand feet, for over 10 miles... So for hours, you're walking up hill! Shit is exhausting.
Life is amazing, I can't wait to write more later. For now, I need to pick up my resupply box, and head back to trail. Love you, thinking of you always.
Current location: Laying in my bag in between Hwy 58 and a railroad line, while the sun sets and my stomach feels full. This is the highway exit for both the Mojave and Tehachapi. We Nero'ed out of Tehachapi after a night hanging out with my Dad. He worked around LA this past week, and was able to stop by and be an incredible Trail Angel to Fly Ballz, Franklinstein, and myself... Stummy.
A little bit ago while in Agua Dulce (a small town with a bit of roadwalking as the trail) an amazing family sitting near a group of us smelly hiker trash inside a Mexican restaurant were both fascinated and excited about our adventure. They came up to us while we were eating to tell us they were so inspired by our journey, that they already took care of the bill to help us make it to Canada. Thank you strangers! You rock!!
Terry and Joe Anderson are amazing! These Trail Angels have been sharing their magic for many, many years. Their home is truly a hippie-daycare for hikers looking to kick back, laugh, and relax! With disc golf, a maze of trees to camp within, a water pipe, breakfast, dinner, and rides to the store, I couldn't help but stay 2 nights before continuing trail. Props to them for all their commitment and hard work supporting the PCT. YOU BOTH FUCKING ROCK!!
Life-long friend Krystin Moler (who blued my hair before trail) and her beautiful boy Kristofer picked me up from the Anderson's and brought me to her mother's place in Landcaster for a shower, shave, in-n-out, and ice cream! It was so awesome to spend time with her, and to relax and watch some tv while washing my clothes and catching up with Krystin. She's so amazing! While dropping me back off at the Anderson's, we picked up 2 hiker trash folks. Krystin is a Trail Angel for sure!
The killer Portland Thrash bands Weresquatch and Gladius met up at a KOA campsite and day-raged with us hiker trash. They played the night before near LA, and the PCT just so conveniently lay in their route to their next show. After we demolished a crap ton of pizza and beer and soaked in the hot tub, they went on their way to their final show. Such rad dudes! Ponder nailed the ultimate trail magic for me, and carried all the way from Portland Stone Brewing's Enjoy By 4-20-15 to share, as well as a Ninkasi Stout that had yeast that traveled into space! So sweet!
My Dad's visit was so awesome, and I was sad to see him drive away this afternoon as he dropped us off on Tehachapi Willow Spring Road. Last night, him and I stopped by Honey Wagon Brewery, he helped run errands today, and he kicked back with us hiker trash in the hotel room pounding pizza and laughs. It's amazing how much he has influenced me, and how I feel so connected to him. Music, foods, jokes.. We even look alike. He filled up an iPod for me, and today, while hiking, I both laughed aloud and shed a few tears as each song brought me closer connected to childhood memories. Everything from Counting Crows to REM, to Van Halen and Black Sabbath... It was such a good mix. Hey Dad, you're pretty fly, for a white guy, and I love you so much.
Trail Magic is real, and honestly, magical. From zip-lining to a margarita, I appreciate every little bit of it. Makes me reflect on generosity and kindness. Big acts and small acts. Heart and soul. I think heavily on some of the magic I have received in my life outside of trail. From the magic of Nan and her family, to my own family and the quality friends in my life. And magic I'm not sure if I said "thank you" enough for. The Kay's when they took me with them to Hawaii; Cortnie for dying my hair with her dye; Jonathan for the toy princess pony to sit on my desk; Maha for building me a custom table; Emily for the rooftop party; John for the skateboard... I'm not sure if I said "thank you" enough times to really express how grateful I am to those people for all that they've done. So, to you guys, thank you. And to everyone one else, thank you too.
I've hiked over 250 miles since my last blog post, and everyday feels like a whole new story to share. This trail is: hard, long, uphill, downhill, windy, hot, sweaty, beautiful, vibrant, calming, struggling, emotional, and challenging. I've found a pattern with certain tasks like: making food, washing socks, or setting up my tent. But even so, there are always surprises. Today, even when we woke up to dark black clouds rolling over the mountain toward us, we weren't expecting the gusty wind or hail... We just expected to keep walking through everything.
Idyllwild was super cute small mountain town, and provided a laundry mat with loaner clothes(!!), craft beer(!!), and a campsite with showers. Super sweet. Trailhead was a few miles from town, and the dude that Rachel, Bender, and I hitched a ride back to trail with kept bragging about his "Pink Lemonaid" saying it was the best is town. After a nice launch sharing some Lemonaid and laughs, we hit the hit full force.
The next few days led to Ziggy and the Bear (amazing Trail Angels who open up their home to hikers) after passing north over I-10. It's funny knowing that if I headed West along this highway, I'd end up in Santa Monica at the ocean. So close, yet so far. Leaving their home brought my first rain, and first time getting lost from trail.
Miles from Big Bear, Rachel and I somehow lost trail while taking a picture of a fallen tree. This hour of trying to figure out how to get back led us both up to a Y Camp, where they not only let us shower, but wash our clothes, and fed us burgers, and let us RIDE THE ZIP LINE! Craziest detour yet! I'll get some pictures from Rachel and post them soon.
So Big Bear Brewing was wonderful, and had an amazing Black IPA called Onyx. 5 beers later, I stumbled back to the hostle I was staying at and woke up to my first trail hangover. Was a hard morning, but totally worth the beer. And shit, I clocked 21 miles leaving Big Bear, so success!
Back on trail, another stop was these amazing Hot Springs with several pools, rad people, and a sandy beach that made life feel perfect. The wind was calm and the shade from the tropical trees made everything, including tired feet, feel perfect.
Other cool highlights, was the McDonald's in Cajon Pass and getting a hotel room!!! I shared a room with 3 awesome dudes, and felt like a queen after a long bath in the tub. The room rank of feet and body odor, but we called the local skunk to help fragrant the air. The food, well, I'm ashamed to think of how many calories I ate, but it all tasted amazing! Straight hiker trash.
I've found an awesome crew of hikers to roll with, who we all laugh, and share goods, and keep each other company during the long days. We are family now, and it is rad to think of all the other adventures that come our way.
Wrightwood was another cute town, where me and a crew of others proceeded to take a zero day and drink like the gods forced us. In this town, I decided to purchase more fresh groceries and carry them out on trail! I carried 3 avocados, one onion, and two tomatoes... All which tasted wonderful once on trail. Variety and freshness are key on trail to break up the monotony of packaged foods! Those, and snickers bar and emergen-c packets.
The things I think about while walking come from all sorts of nooks and crannies of my brain. The layout of my elementary school bathroom... The science fair project and that trip to Universal Studios. The more beautiful memories are the ones recalled by triggers while on trail. The fresh green tall grass that glows in the wind reminds me of my great grandparent's house when I used to sit in the backyard just listening to the wind blow. Or the golden flowers remind me of the wildflowers that covered Ulistac (this natural reserve area I used to volunteer at). Or today, the fridged cold wind while I cradle my fingers for warmth reminded me of years of track and field, waiting outside in the cold awaiting an event. The memories are long, and then, feel like they go silent. Then follows the chain of thoughts that flood my mind disabling me from thinking any one thought. Then when I noticed what I'm concentrating on, it is the trail. Walk. Walk. Walk. Step. Step. Step. How's my stride. Owe, my blister. Hmm, what will my next snack be. Then back to my grandparent's garden. Cherries from the tree. Carrots. Mmm, food. Mmm, steak.
A good round of "would you rather" the other day with Zanbino put my life into a perspective I haven't explored or questioned.
Would you rather loose your hair or your teeth? Would you rather give up carbs (including beer) or meat? Would you rather only have good sex but bad head, or bad sex but amazing head? Would you rather stub your toe or bite your tongue?
I learned a lot about myself during this game, but I feel like I am discovering more about myself in terms of goals, and boundaries each day. I think about so many things. I think lots about Adam, all trying to embrace the positive while not forgetting the pain. I think about painting. I think about teaching. I think about my tiny house. I think about guys with cute smiles, stupid flings, my favorite burrito in St. John's. I think about sex, and how good it would feel to be held or touched. I think about my family, and my friends who I consider family. I think about Nan. I think about my grad school thesis and how I want to visit Costa Rica. I think about my friends and what they are up to. I think about all the amazing people in my life, and how I wish they could be doing something at that very moment that would make them smile. I think about love. I think about loving myself more when I leave trail, and more importantly, today. I think about kindness and cruelty and how I want to live in the world. I think about you, and the Beasty Boys, and smoking in Disneyland. I think about Vegas, and New York, and all the places I've partied. I think of all the times I vomited from having the time of my life. I think of mistakes. I think about one night stands, and where are they now. I think about ex lovers, and where are they now.
I think about you.
Right now, I am sitting on a bed (!!) inside a ranger station around mile 436. We were going to camp outside, but were invited inside to avoid the rain and high winds. No joke, there were several moments today that I felt I was going to blow off the mountainside! Even without my umbrella open! I feel warm dry, and excite to sleep. Each night, one of the biggest highlights is jumping into my sleeping bag. That, and resting my feet.
So many miles, so many miles...
Update: The desert is hot!!
As the days grow longer, my body is beginning to feel stronger by the mile. My blisters seem to be healing, and overall, the only thing dragging down the days is the scorching sun and weight of carrying more water to avoid dehydration. Water casches are always exciting, and fortunately semi-frequent and always appreciated!
Definitely going to Trail Angle some water next year!
Hiking and setting up camp is beginning to feel like normal life. I mean, after all, it IS my life now. It's my job -- I show up to work hard and sleep exhausted at night knowing I did my best to push my body through the dry and mountainous terrain. It's hard. There are moments, where sweat is dripping down my cheeks and my throat feels dry like I'm sick and I can see up 3 miles ahead at the trail I will be walking in just over an hour. It seems so far, but after the terrain crossed inthe past 10 days, I know it looks horrendous but is possible. Having a camel back is amazing for quick sips of the heavy water I'm lugging to keep me alive. It's a mind over matter job... I get to take breaks whenever I want and no one cares if burp or swear, but with each step, I push myself to limits I didn't know I could. I find myself comfortable peeing with a backpack on, storing food in my pockets for nibbles here and there, and always on the lookout of snakes. The daily grind is brutal on trail...
... That being said, totally worth it.
Right now, I am sitting in the shade of a beautiful oak tree while my best trail-bud Rachel serenades me with a guitar she found inside the town of Warner Springs' recreation center. Within the past couple hours, I have scarfed a double patty burger, drank (drunk?) two Mt.Dews, showered for the first time in over a week, personally popped my first blister myself (Trail Mom Chris popped my other first blister -- I was too sissy to do it myself), washed all my clothes in the shower, and now sit here in total peace. The temperature is a sweet 77 degrees. We are parked here waiting for our washed clothes, and popped-blisters, to dry. I can not explain how good it feels to be clean. I can't figure out how I get so much dirt on my face everyday! Having showered, I can see that my face has developed a nice base-coat tan. I have been the dorky kid on trail using my umbrella everyday, but that shit is so awesome! From 11am until 4am (while the sun is high) I am walking in shade! Only when it is windy does it suck. Yesterday, I was walking around a mountainside with a narrow trail and steep drop off to my left, and the wind began blowing so hard! It was my first wake-up call to the power of mother nature while on trail. I stood there, bending my knees trying to firmly plant them into the rocky trail, with both hands holding the sides of my umbrella tucked near my head, practically praying that "death by umbrella launching off cliff" was not going to be in my obituary. The moment the wind stopped, I immediately dismounted my umbrella from my pack, and continued the day with my sun-hat on. The breeze now feels pleasant as I sit here writing this.
Thank you everyone for the kind messages. My family, friends, and even their family and friends, are really some of the best people on this planet. Your support is what I think about as a slowly climb up mountainsides, step after step, in the hot sun, with this heavy pack pounding down on my poor heals and their blisters. I think my blisters have blisters now - haha! I know I am making the choice to hike this, but that doesn't mean the walking comes easily. Thanks guys - I love you all!!
It's amazing the things I've seen, that I would never see all at once, nor come out to the middle of nowhere to see. Eagle Rock, random caves, cattle grazing in a field (whom didn't like us in the field with them... We were like, "Shit, we never trained for cow-attacks..!"), vistas showing mountain ranges we've passed over, and ones beyond that, cacti with fushia, yellow, and white flowers, snakes (only one rattler, the rest king or something native), ants... and more ants, all sorts of birds, and people smiling even though they're all in excruciating pain. We all are. It's almost taboo to talk about ones personal pain because we are preaching to the choir. Either way, in the end of the day, I feel so grateful for this opportunity and the people who have my back. Even though I am not personally responding to each blog reply, please keep them coming! They're soooooo awesome to read after a long day.
The other day while in Julian (home of Julian Cider Co... Which I unfortunately did not go to...), I sent home 4lbs of stuff I felt I no longer needed, or no longer wanted to carry. I ditched the brain of my pack, the book I never finished reading, the can opener I don't think I'll ever use, and a few other things that were weighing me down. It feels better, and it is fascinating how my attention has moved from gear weight, to water weight. As a community, we are all trying to figure out how much water we each need for how many miles we're hiking for how long we need to hike until the next water source.
Rachel and I have been waking up early (5:30am) to morning-hike before the desert heat warms the ground too much. Hot heat means blisters and more dehydration. After 20 miles yesterday, Rachel and I called it a night and made an insane dinner combo of Mac-n-cheese and mashed potatoes... Mixed... And Oreos dipped in peanut butter sprinkled in pixie-stick powder... dinner of champions! We then camped right along the trail baracading the pathway with her tent and my tarp. I've been cowboy camping so much... With earplugs in... Which help both my fear of bugs crawling into my ear as well as keeping my mind quiet to the sounds of the desert night. The stars are incredible out here and the slim moon chills the air around 5am each morning. I can't wait until it's full so I can put in a night hike with no head-lamps. Morning hiking is incredible.
No trail name yet, no backpain... Yet. Just smiles and blisters and beautiful desert landscape. Lovin' it.
This blog is almost the most difficult to type so far, because there is so much I want to share, say, and describe to you. First, yes -- this trail hurts. Everyone hurts. My feet hurt. Carrying a pack with water and food, weighing around 40lbs total (20lb base weight), up hills, down hills, in the sun, on hot, sharp, uneven desert rocks hurts. Bad.
That being said, it has been so worth it. The people I've met are absolutely amazing, and the views are unbelievable.
Right now, I am sitting in Julian where me and a few others decided to take a rest day. We all slept outside last night under a bridge, laughing until we all passed out. Cowboy camping is not as scary as I thought. I crave beer, a giant swimming pool, my mattress, and my friends. I wish I could steal some friends and family so they could see some of the incredible views... Although, the pain is real. I have 3 beautiful blisters, and have ditched so many things in my pack to lighten my load. I'm even debating getting a lighter tent!
So many people I want to thank:
Lindsey, my sister: you're amazing for helping so much with my resupply packages! I love you!
Brandon: your thoughts and support are felt all the way over here -- thank you!
Charity and Sandor: my first trail Angels!! They met me at Mount Laguna and gave me soooooo many amazing laughs, seasoned French fries, and a delicious IPA!! Thank you so much!!!
Adina: you dropped off my box, but first loaded some sweets, including pixie sticks!!! Seriously, it's been a great friend-getter during lunch ;)
All my friends at home: I have gotten some beautiful notes of encouragement online, and the gear you all helped me get. I wouldn't be so prepared without you.
Things are absolutely beautiful out here. The rocks glow, the flowers sparkle. The sky looks larger than I've ever noticed. I have seen 3 shooting stars, a rattle snake, tons of ants, trail magic from random day hikers (who shared chips, eggs, and fresh veggies). The people are beautiful and come from all areas and jobs. The youngest person I met so far was 18, the oldest 78. It's amazing. The crew of people I have been hanging with the past few days are family for life. We have shared so much personal information, and have seen each other in our worst possible state. We share the pain as much as we are sharing the trail.
I'll write more while on trail. Until then, xoxo.
For my final meal, sushi was the ultimate dream come true. I really can't believe tomorrow is the day. All this planning... All the preparation... And I'm ready...
My dad and I did a final walk-through of REI this evening. I feel confident in my gear. I don't feel confident in my stomach though. It's turning so hard. My dad didn't believe me when I said sushi will make it better, but it sure is doing the trick.
This afternoon, I went over to my amazing friend (since 6th grade) Krystin's house, to hang out, share laughs, re-dye the blue in my hair, and drink beer and mimosas. She's such an amazing person. She made sure I left her home with a, "This is Skarks territory," sign, a spare iPod, a sweet dryfit shirt, and gingerbread edibles. Uhhhmazing. I am so grateful for the people in my life right now. It's no joke when they say, "It takes a village to send Katie on trail." ... That's the saying, right? ;)
As I finish my packing, drinking Le Freak from Green Flash, I must remember what Alex told me yesterday: Life finds a way.
Brandon, my brother-in-law has been SO amazing!! Not only has he provided positive support from the beginning, he's built a support systems in many others, including my family and with his coworkers! Thanks Team Comerica!! Brandon also wrote me a beautiful letter the other night, expressing how much he believes in me, and how proud he is in me... Made me cry. He's so anazing. I'm glad my sister found such a rad man. My sister has also been so incredible. I wonder if she knows how much I look up to her -- she's such a strong person, and called me today telling me how I have already succeeded in hiking this trail, by making it this far in the process. Her, and Brandon's help is unquantifiable and shows the true strength of Ohana. I love you guys, forever.
Sent 2 boxes from this morning to Warner Springs and Idyllwild. Lindsey is sending two more tomorrow. Adam met Emily today to hand-off my forgotten ground Tyvec, since Emily is heading south this weekend. Adina took my box for Mt. Laguna since she's going there Saturday. I met with her and Jonny Morgan last night at Green Flash Brewing for beers and dinner. So great to see them! Figured out my bank accounts, student loans, and final necessities... This is it. The sunset seemed to glow just for me this evening -- as if it knows what I am about to embark on. Time to pack my final pack, shake it down, and try to sleep. See you tomorrow, Campo. I've been dreaming of you for a long time.