Unsaved draft typed this morning lost... Lesson learned the hard way... Save yo' shit if you type more than one sentence. Oh well. Can't sweat the small stuff, right?
My head is in a peaceful state right now compared to the partially flustered state I awoke to this morning. I felt anxious when I woke up around 3 covered in sweat, not wanting pull the sheets back further because of the chill on my moist body. I dreamed this vibrant, royal blue beetle I was admiring flew up my skirt and climbed up to my back. Fuck that thought... Bahhhh. (Excessive) Bugs are seriously one of my top 3 fears of trail. Almost like Indiana Jones and snakes... But I'm a little better.
This morning, I typed about my Easter and how wonderful it was to be around my family. They all were so interested to ask about gear, clothes, food, miles... As crazy as they think this is, none seemed majorly surprised. It was so nice to be around them all at once. I haven't been home for Easter since I moved to Portland. The last 5 Easters consisted of being present virtually on a screen, taking turns seeing the faces of my family, only to be passed on until everyone had a turn and I ended the call in tears, to continue with my typical Sunday while they continued with laughs, bunnies, an adorable family portrait, home made brunch by my parents... Man. I planned my PCT launch around bring present for this. So happy to be there and get their love. Ohana.
My Dad and I just left Venice beach and are on our way to San Diego. He's been amazing following through with supporting not only my dream to hike the PCT, but to have a sweet road trip to the boarder. I told him last year I wanted to drive with him to the start of trail, but take the scenic route and drive along the California coast. I am going to miss the ocean so much -- I definitely have a major soft spot for the power and beauty it holds.
So far, we stopped at Firestone Walker Brewing for me to have a beer (My Dad is the most responsible/strict DD I know), stopped in at my Aunt Connie and Uncle Dave's for a quick hello/goodbye with them and my cousin Dennis, ate at the, "Best Indian food in Ventura," and this morning, walked 6.2 miles from one end of Venice Beach to the Santa Monica Pier! Warm up for the mile he's going to do with me starting PCT, and my venture for 2,600 more.
Sunday night after Easter I was so overwhelmed and exhausted from all the excitement, that I didn't want to do anything trail (even though I had no choice). I decided to work from the couch on the spread sheet of information for my family to have, while my sister helped set up the GPS spot my Aunt is loaning me for this trip, all while watching the 10 Comandments on TV. While Moses walked his 40 days through the desert, I could help but laugh hysterically while poor Moses crawled with his shaft and wool poncho through the Hollywood created desert-set. It's funny, but all too imaginable for myself... Haha? (Who put that question mark there..?)
Monday morning, I woke up thinking: okay Katie, this is it. Pack your bag, finish your boxes, you're leaving as early as possible. However, if you know anything about me, early doesn't really work. I'm more of a ten-minutes-late kind of person. I'd be the person late to their own funeral/wedding/birth/drive-south-to-start-this-crazy-fucking-hike kind of person.
I finished labeling the boxes, and layed out all my gear on the table. When Logan and Ryland woke up, they asked, "Auntie Katie, where are you going?" Only when they grow up will they understand the magnitude of where I was going and what I was doing.
Weighing my pack once it was all loaded was a trip. 32lbs minus Water. Holy moly... This is happening. 4-hours later, I said farewell to my Mom, and cried she prayed for my safety. I'm going to miss my Mom so much. Everyone. I am going to miss everyone so much.
The past few days have been grocery shopping overload! I am seriously, sick of grocery shopping for packaged food right now. Bless my dad for calorie counting, driving, and brainstorming with me every step of the way since I've been in CA. Thank you Lindsey (sister) for being my online guru and finding quick deals on last minute goods. I wish the best to my mom who might be going slightly crazy as she watches us prepare, desperately hoping I'll decide to not hike this trail. My entire family has shown so much support. My friends too. Jeez, the amount of emails and messages I've received the past week with encouraging words have warmed my heart and kept my spirits high. I love you all so much!
This morning, Night Rider (Alina) came over and generously dropped off a bear barrel and go-lite umbrella and gave my parents a glimps of hope of being a solo, female thru-hiker. She road with her horse TWICE through the entire 2,660 miles, and today shared stories of mosquitoes, snow, and the brilliant others whom I will meet on trail. She stayed way after breakfast and walked through my rough box-schedule, and guided me in ways that will assist me incredibly. What a gift to know someone so awesome who is able and willing to guide me, with personal experience, through this difficult planning process.
This evening, with the loving help of my dad, sister Lindsey, Tom (friend since '05), and Nick (BIL since '01), we were able to pack up the 23 California boxes with TONS OF FOOD! I wish I had exact numbers to express how much food we divided... But I'm going to guess like 60+ oatmeal packets, 90+ packages meals, 100+ granola bars, 90+ emergen-c packets, tons of jolly ranchers and candy, dehydrated potatoes, snickers bars, tea...roughly $700+ of food.. so freakin' much! For the record, I took off my shoes for this process (inside joke). So excited, so much help, so thankful.
Last Saturday was amazing! Between a lovely family breakfast at the Houston-Curtis house, meeting with friends for my final FOTM, a roof-top/sunset/jacuzzi beer sampling extravaganza with a home-brewed Oatmeal CDA, and the Coven/MagnaBolt/Ritual Healing show... I still can't believe I managed to wake up Sunday! The past few days, I can not explain how blessed I feel for the generous support from all my friends near and far. It's been so amazing! I went home Saturday night with tons of jerky/nuts, paracord bracelets, socks, flowers, rei money, a rose, tons of edibles, mace, beer, root beer, a sweet lighter and hemp wick, a jet-boil (!!!), inspirational messages signed into my tent sack, and memories to keep me going the next 5 months. Adam has been so helpful the past few days, as we both realize we're going to miss each other beyond belief. Love is a beautiful yet confusing as hell. I'm going to miss everyone so much.
Okay. Shit is not quite real anymore. It's been unreal.
I have not scribed any posts for over a week. Mainly because I am overwhelmed trying to do everything before I am finally gone. I was able to figure out how to get my website/blog to work on my iPad (mini), so I can write updates while on trail. Work is (and has been) weird, but my last day is tomorrow. My rad coworkers purchased me these sweet hiking poles (which they all signed encouraging words onto), compass, and para-cord bracelet. So kind. I am going to miss engaging with such awesome people. Working for PNCA has been a great opportunity, but it is now time to move on in life. I'M OUT! Adam is heartbroken, mainly because he knows no matter what we do, say, feel, share... that I am leaving. I am heartbroken too. He is my best friend, and he feels like I am abandoning him for the world. Unfortunately, he is kind of right. We have been hanging out every few days, but are both rollercoasters of emotions. Hung out with tons of friends the past week or so too. Thanks Alyssa, Guy, Emily, Alec, Lanita, Jonathan, Leah, JD, Eilif, Alex, Noah, Michelle, Tim, Josh, Nikki, Chris, Joan, Nate, and Nan for the awesome hang-out sessions. Other friends are getting ready to come hang out Saturday at Fire on the Mountain (I think I have had food there once a week for the past 4 months trying to get it all out of my system). Lacy's beer will be ready that day too! Got rid of the piece-of-junk red Volkswagen that has been dead and sitting on the curb for over a year. Ordered these cool bee-hive gaiters for the desert section. Got my hair cut from the incredible Blaine. Had my I-Ching read by Nan. She believes I am going to return from trail a different person, focused on things and with a new outlook on the world. I have drank copious amounts of beer. Been to a few shows. Masturbated lots... I'm almost all ready.
Just over a week ago at Lucky Lab, I met up with past thru-hiker BEER (It's his last, and became his trail name... slightly jealous) who gave me the most positive trail encouragement yet. His tone was, "Get ready, Katie. You're going to have the time of your life."
Time to remember this: You are going to have the time of your life.
Monday, March 16th
Last Friday and Saturday, I hit the trail with my pack fully loaded, hoping to clock some solid miles with my fully-weighted pack! What an adventure. Friday was absolutely beautiful, and I started at the North end of Bridge of the Gods, and headed North up the PCT into Washington. I hiked for 6 miles, before I was distracted up a steep hillside, and decided at the top is where I would eat lunch. I dried my feet off while laying in the sun, and read for about an hour. Once done, I headed back down, and celebrated with a victory beer at Thunder Island Brewing. I am assuming I did about 15 miles total. I wish I had poles.
That night, I slept at the trail head for Eagle Creek. Half way through cooking dinner, I realized my fuel was empty, so my potatoes were partially warm (meh)... should have ordered a burger at the brewery. While sleeping, the trickling sound of the rain slowly got louder, and louder. To the point, where I dug for my earplugs, and tried to get some solid sleep the last part of the night. I woke up to cars peeling into the parking lot around 8am (so lovely), and decided it was time to get moving. Within an hour of hiking, I was completely, utterly, and absolutely soaked with water. Stopping for food became a pain because water would drip into my bag, and I would begin to shiver from the cooler temperature. I passed Punchbowl Falls (Mile 2), the High Bridge (Mile 3.3) then Tunnel Falls (Mile 6). I continued into Mt. Hood National Forest, with the goal to sleep at Wahtom Lake, 13 miles from the trail head. I was surprised to see my fingers were evening pruning because of all the moisture. As I continued, I came to several river crossings, that took some creativity to leap over. Then came to a fork, with a half torn-down sign, and not too much clarity of which way to go. I knew East was the main direction, so I turned left. At this point, I had not seen anyone for a few miles, and my soaking wet attire was beginning to irritate me more and more. I then came to another fork. Eagle Crest left, PCT right. PCT... wait, I want Wahtom Lake! It was 2:30, and I was either going to be hopeful and choose one of the trails and hope it went somewhere I recognized, or set up camp and try to immediately maintain warmth, or book it the hell out of there. I started to think of my bed, and Adam, and what if I got myself lost, and how I just wanted to have Adam there, and how hiking the PCT is crazy... and as a million thoughts plummeted through my brain, I began the decent downhill, towards my car, over 10 miles away, hoping to arrive before nightfall. The creek slowly began to get dark as I backtracked my steps. I wasn't so lucky heading down the trail with those river crossings, and the first one I fell in after slipping on some moss. Scared me. I couldn't get Adam off my mind. I wanted to be home, I wanted to get in bed. I wanted to be warm. The first person I saw on my return was probably 4 miles from the trail head, and I immediately felt slightly relieved. I returned to my car and changed into my wool shirt from Adam. It felt so nice against my tender and cold body. The drive home was wet, the freeway was flooded, but I didn't care. I wanted to hold Adam. I wanted his warmth. I wanted to tell him please don't give up on us, I am going to hike this trail but I will carry you in my heart. I wanted to tell him I love him and I can see my entire life with him if only we could work more on our communication. I wanted to ask him to marry me right on the spot.
And then I made it to my old place.
Soaked and shivering because my car heater is not working, I ran up the entry stairway, up to the second floor, and entered a cold, and empty room. My stuff half boxed, and no Adam.
He was gone at the coast until Sunday. Camping.
Fml. Hello PCT.
Trail Preparation since last post:
Last week, my sweetheart and I both came to the realization that we have not been communicating successfully for a while, and with the anticipation of trail, that we wouldn't have time to fix us before I leave. This week, I told my boss and HR my plans to leave my job, and hike the trail. Today, I purchased my one-way flight to California.
Endless emotions from every spectrum have been invading my heart and mind. It's been rough. My heart hurts right now, but I know it will heal in the coming months. I am ready to face PCT, even as I sit here crying while typing this post. I am strong and will become stronger from all this.
To my sweetheart: I wish more than anything that I had your support right now during these emotionally intense final days. You bought me my first PCT book, came to PCT Days with me, attended PCT lectures and and various gear-sales with me, have listen to me blabber for hours about trail-this, and trail-that... It is unfortunate that we have lost the ability to communicate with compassion and respect. I am sorry my plan to hike PCT has brought so much anxiety and stress to you. I hope you are able to heal quickly. I will love you endlessly forever, and will think of you everyday on trail.
I have been so blessed to have so many supportive people helping me though this difficult time, and encouraging me to keep my eyes on the sun, so the shadows fall behind me. Thank you Maha, Becca, Mike, Tamara, Leah, Carolyn, Jonathan, Caroline, Lacy, Lanita, Mallory, Lindsey, Kim, and Josh for your love. You are seriously the best things in my life right now.
A special thanks to my Mom, who at first hated the idea of me spending 5-months outside, but now is more supportive than ever. She has listened to me cry endlessly about my unfortunate relationship issues, and now also believes trail is the best thing for me at this time in my life. She has moved beyond being just my mother, and is now truly my best friend.
Another special thanks to my Aunt Tammy and Uncle Bill, who have been setting me up with the right gadgets for trail, loaning me $ for my student loans while away, and for your love, guidance and support. You're a blessing to me.
And a final special thanks to Nan, Marty, Emmett, and Owen for taking me into your home on this final month before I leave. You funded me purchasing my tent a few months ago, and now, are letting me sleep in your guest bed... possibly the last bed I will sleep in until October. I love you. I love you guys so much. I can not possibly thank you enough for everything.
The past few days, I have met with past thru-hikers Kitten, Rustic, and Midnight Rider, and OR/WA PCT hiker Spearhead, and each one of them had such valuable information to share. I APPRECIATE ALL YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND ADVICE!!!!!! I will remember you on trail <3
10 Best tips:
1. Get a JetBoil (hands down the most efficient stove system).
2. You WILL become miserable and achy at points, just get used to that idea. Oh, and bumpbox a huge bottle of Ibuprofen.
3. Run a thread through your blisters to absorb moisture (eww).
4. Don't get stuck with the first group of people you meet. There will be contless amazing people on trail. HYOH.
5. Remember to cowboy camp every once in a while.
6. Mosquitos suck... literally.
7. Throw every concept of hygiene and food standards out the window.
8. Bring ear plugs for sleeping, because what you don't hear isn't there.
9. If you don't do Half Dome, hike Clouds rest while in Yosemite (and get permits).
10. Enjoy your vacation, it will be amazing.