June 23, 2014

Dental Love on the PCT

When I arrived in Chester, CA at 8pm after an hour hitch, I had no idea where I was going to stay.  I checked out the hotels as they each priced me at $90/night. Deciding to go to the woods and pitch my tent, I started walking. 

A car pulled over and the lady asked me if I needed anything. As we talked a bit, I found out that she was the front office manager at the dental office in town.  "Hikers want to give me the name Tooth Fairy," she said.  I laughed and explained that I was a Dental Hygienist and that trail name was almost given to me.  After we chit-chatted and laughed for a while, I headed to the woods to set up my tent. 

In the morning I walked to the office.  When I arrived, she greeted me with much fun.  From the dentist, I was given a $20 food voucher, new toothbrush, 2 cookies (baked by his wife), and floss. So amazing! The staff greeted me in the middle of their busy day.  Turns out the Hygienist graduated from OIT just like me.  She seemed like such a fun person and I became even more excited to start my dental hygiene job after my escapade.

Since the Dentist just finished section hiking the PCT last summer, I decided to talk to him about my predicament of trail boredom and my freedom to do other things.  I knew he would understand.  He suggested getting on the trail at Crater Lake and hiking the rest from there. Many people jump trail and hike sections that are more appealing to them.  They realize their time off of the grind doesn't need to turn into that.  Trail life is hiking 10-12 hour days every day, eating, and sleeping. I like a variety of activities.  Trail life gets monotonous. 

Either way, I'm proud of my 1300 miles.  Right now my predicament is to learn how to surf, or hike through swarms of Mosquitoes all day. I grew up with Mosquitoes on the farm and everyother outdoor job I've had. It's safe to say I have had my fair share. I didn't grow up with a beach and I keep hearing that Santa Cruz would be a great place for me. After a couple weeks there, I could easily jump back on trail.  We'll see where the wind blows. One of the only times in my life that I've been able to be completely free. This is awesome!

Many thanks to such an awesome dental staff in Chester, CA!

June 22, 2014

A Brick of a Boring Wall

For the past 3 days I've been considering finishing the trail early. I never thought it would come to this.  I'm 1300 miles into the trail and am having a rough time keeping my spirits up.  So, what's going through my head?

I have hiked switchback over switchback over drainage over drainage and have been having a blast for the most part. 

Hiking 1300 miles is a ton! I've enjoyed it, but lately I'm not enjoying it.  I'm not going to miserably put myself through another 1300 miles when I could be helping my dad on the farm, hanging out with my boyfriend, hanging out with my family, learning how to surf, and getting my license to work as a Hygienist (which I'm really excited to start). All the possibilities of everything else is going through my head. 

It's a weird concept.  I've been wanting to hike the PCT for Multiple Sclerosis since 2006 and now I am wanting to say that 1300 miles is enough (which is a ton).  I haven't received a donation in at least a month, and my extended family has given most of the money donated. It's great that I have inspired people. I'm still going to be the same adventurous person and do wild things quite frequently.  When it gets to a certain point, you just know it's time to move on. 

This brick wall feels thicker than anything I've ever experienced.  It's ironic because I know for a fact that my body can easily finish the trail. 

A peice of me feels obligated to keep trekking.  There have been some amazing people cheering me forward, and I love that! I hope no one is let down. It's been an amazing experience and I hope people have grown with it, as I have.  No regrets here.  I think I might go hitch to a surf town and learn how to surf like I've always wanted.    

Hitch Hiking into Summer on the PCT

I am spending the first day of Summer at Bucks Lake in a stranger's family cabin who I just met yesterday while hitch hiking.

Having not a very good time in Sierra City, I needed to get out of the hole.  The problem was that I didn't feel like hiking. Sometimes on the PCT, I just have to get away. The trail is a beautiful experience but it's more about the enjoyment for me. If trail life gets frustrating, it's time to focus attention elsewhere.  So, I decided to try and hitch to Quincy.  As many vehicles raced by me with my thumb out, I quickly became discouraged.  A lady picked me up outside of Sierra City and brought me to an intersection where I should have more luck. I started walking again.

Car after car zipped past me as if I didn't exist. Later, an older couple stopped to tell me they were only going 2 miles up the road.  I would have taken the ride, but they didn't make that an option. 5:00pm and I was thinking about dropping into a campground.  Why would I stop trying though? It was summer and I had many hours left. Besides,  if it didn't work out, I'd pop up into the forest and pitch my tent like I always do. It was a Friday night but most cars seemed to be going the opposite direction.  Someone yelled at me out of their window, but I couldn't hear what they said over the nose of their vehicle.  I decided that was probably best for my marks against humanity.

Finally, a couple pulled over and let me hop in. They were from Reno, Nevada and were on a random day drive. As they squished all of their belongings to the side and apologized for the mess, I insisted it was perfectly fine because they were picking up trail trash anyway. When I haven't taken a shower in a week, am covered in dirt, and my hair is a rat's nest, it's silly that people would apologize for a mess. Me sitting in their car contributes to the mess. I often apologize for my appearance or putrifying trail scent. I'm telling you, it's a scent that makes day hikers smell like the only God given beautiful flower on this earth. As they dropped me off at a major Intersection, they explained it'd be an easy 21 mile hitch. Yes! I was halfway there! Things were looking up.

Finally having cell service, I called my boyfriend to see what he was doing.  Hanging out with his friends and he still decided to pick up the phone, which is one of the things I love about him.  He makes me feel important.  I told him about my hitch hiking and  how I wasn't sure how it was going to pan out. I needed a side adventure, and this was it! My spirits were coming up, and I laughed at the people who drove by pretending that I didn't exist.  Many people are so fearful for their lives that they don't get to experience the positive impact a stranger can make.

Not too much longer, and I got a ride from a guy who had just gotten off work. He could only take me 10 miles up the road, but that was better than nothing.  I hopped inside his car, chatted a bit, then I was on the road again with a big smile on my face. 11 miles to Quincy!  5-10 minutes later, a lady picked me up. We chit-chatted as I found out that she leads backpacking trips out of Tahoe.  "Amazing!" I thought. She proceeded to call her sister, so I would have a lawn to set my tent for the night. Then she popped up and asked, "Well, why do you want to be in Quincy anyway?" I said, I at least want a shower, and I needed to get away from Sierra City.  She offered me to come stay in her family's cabin at Bucks Lake with a couple friends. "You'll have a bed, a shower, and food. It's up to you, but I thought I'd offer."
My mind couldn't let that offer slide. It seemed wonderful, I just hoped that everyone else would welcome me as much as she did. 

As we arrived at her cabin, I was a little uneasy.  I didn't want to interfere with anything. Afterall, I was a stranger.  
I took a shower, and joined them for dinner on the gorgeous balcony with the lake in the background.  Pesto pasta with wine, and a delicious spinach salad. "Spinach!" I exclaimed.  I haven't had spinach in so long!  It was like heaven on my palate. Vegetables are not common thing I get on trail.  As we wined and dined, I felt completely spoiled.

Never do I expect to have such an amazing hitch hiking experience. These people took me in, a complete stranger who smelled like goop, and made me so happy!  I was their new trail friend. They all had huge back country experiences through their childhood and lifetime. It was a fun connection. 

I woke up in a comfy bed, on the first day of Summer, walked out on the balcony and stared at the lake as the sun's reflection glistened like a million crystals. The trees towered around me as I drank my cup of Good Earth tea. I am happy and spoiled.  Yesterday I was crying from multiple frustations and made a decision to skip a peice of the trail for my own sanity. To purists, this is a no-no; every foot of the trail has to be hiked. For me, I've learned there are goals that everyone has their way of achieving. 

In life, I may think I have to stick to a certain path because of societie's rules. Other human beings made those rules because of their personality traits, and what worked best for them. Someone else's best is rarely going to coincide with mine.  If I would have unhappily got back on the PCT instead of hitch hiking, I wouldn't be as happy as I am in this moment. It's possible that I'm wrong, but that gets into a discussion on quantum theories.  You can never fully know. It's one or the other.

So now, I am happily hiking back to the Pacific Crest Trail.  What an awesome break and a great way to start Summer. I think I'm going to jump in the lake and then hike to Belden. What a life! :)

June 18, 2014

Donners Pass of a Past on the PCT

I sit here at Donner's Pass on the Pacific Crest Trail as hungry as a hippo, about ready to gorge on some food (not people), I think about a wild weekend adventure a friend and I took 5 years ago. 

It was Winter time. Dallas and I were itching to leave Twin Falls, Idaho and find a new adventure.  At the ripe age of 20, school and work were getting the best of us.  As we looked at maps, we decided to drive somewhere.  What about Vegas for the weekend?! No, that wasn't going to work because we weren't even 21. Hmmmm, we contemplated.  For some reason we put our finger on Sacramento, California and loaded up the car.  It was Saturday evening and I had to be to work on Monday at 6 in the morning.  Therefore,  we would have to spend nearly the entire time driving.  Easy peasy, in my head it wasn't a big deal. Should we tell our parents?  Na, we'll just call them when we get there.

Dallas and I piled into my 1992 manual Ford Escort and excitingly hit the road on our crazy trip.  What a blast we were having.  We did it!  We got out of town and we're on our way to California.  As 1 am hit, I asked Dallas if he could drive.  "I don't know how to drive stick shift," he said. My eyes got big when I realized I would be driving the entire way. 

As we started driving over Donner's Pass, the fog was so thick that we couldn't hardly see in front of us.  I told him to watch behind us.  The nice thing about going over the pass late at night was that there were no other cars. That still didn't matter because we couldn't see if there were or not.  Clenching the wheel as my knuckles turned white, I couldn't wait to be out of the fog. 

As we rolled into Sacramento at 5am, we wondered the streets.  As soon as the capital building opened, we meandered the halls until we found Arnold Schwarzenegger's office. Hoping to see the new senator, we took a picture of the sign instead.  We headed outside, called our parents, listened, and laughed to how different each of their reactions were.  It was just simple fun for us at the time.  As we hit the road at noon, I was still feeling fine.  It had been about 30 hours with no sleep, so all was going to be OK.

Crossing over Donner's Pass during the day was beautiful.  I want sure when the next time I was going to be back, but this was quite an experience. As we hit Jackpot, Nevada, we had to drive through a blizzard in the dark. I was ready to conk out, so I had Dallas start asking me really hard questions to keep me awake.  Needless to say, we made it back safe, and I zombied my way through an 8 hour shift.

I'm not saying I would ever want to do that again, but that is my story of Donner's Pass as I sit here in the beautiful sun eating peanut butter balls, chips, and tuna after hiking 1150 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail.  

Good morning

Good morning!  My view of Lake Tahoe.  31 miles is the goal for the day.  It's cold!

June 16, 2014

Mosquitoes and Honey Crack

Dropping into Toulomine Meadows was exciting. I had a lot of ice cream and resupplied my food for 8 days. 60 food items made itin my cart in hopes that it would be enough for mybear ofa stomach to make it to south Lake Tahoe.  I was excited for all of the food, because a lot of it was things I'd never brought on the trail. I even bought this energy gu just to give it a try. As I threw away unnecessary boxes that my food was in, I talked to many hikers. Some were going on a weekend trip, hiking the JMT, or hiking the PCT.  Pretty soon half of the day was gone, because there were so many great conversations. Before long, I packed up all of my belongings and headed out to the trail at 1 pm. Ugh, my pack was heavy!  I  had to have packed at least 15-20 pounds of food plus a 3 pound bear canister.  This was going to be rough!

5 miles into the trail, and it was time to rest.  When I got up from my nap,  I still felt extremely tired. I tried to push my body, but it wasn't convinced after 3 miles. My mind was tired to the point I could have just laid on the trail and slept. I was at the point of pure exhaustion.  Was that really it for the day? 8 miles in 4 hours ?! Oh I'm getting worse!  Sugar wasn't even working! I took out this little packet of performance gu. I'd never eaten it before, but had heard it was like honey in a pouch. With how tired I was, I figured this was the best time to try something like this.  I was ready to test its true effectiveness.  As I downed the 100 calorie packet, I thought, "That's not much, I'm sure I'll be stopping in a mile to set up camp." 

5 minutes later, my mind and body was fully loaded with energy. It was incredible! I was completely focused on the trail and my body was zooming!  As I charged through meadows full of Mosquitoes,  I exclaimed, "You can't catch me Mosquitoes! " I was wrong!  Those newly hatched blood suckers were swarming me like I was their first meal.  There were thousands of them!  I changed right through their party,  and looked at my white shirt all peppered in parasites. Before long my shirt was speckled with my own blood that the Mosquitoes had drank before I smacked them.  A maddening full body itch was starting to come over me and I had no choice but to get somewhere else. Apparently that 100% deet needed reapplied.

All of a sudden I saw a naked man, about 200 feet in the distance, bathing in a stream.  I quickly stopped, and most likely had a very uneasy look on my face.  My first thought, "What do I do? Awkward! Why is he doing this in the middle of a trail?  A straight line that people walk on!" Once he saw me awkwardly standing in the distance, he hurried to put his clothes back on. As I passed, I laughed and said, "I sure have good timing!" He said, "I thought there was no one around!" I laughed again, hurried on my way, and thought of some better things I could have said in that situation. "Aw dang", I thought,  "my lack of wittfulness sometimes."

I looked down and it had been 2 hours since I took the gu. I had gone 8 miles! Whoa! Talk about energy overload! That was unbelievable!  I hiked another 2 miles and set up my tent in awe of my new food that I renamed "honey crack". Is this stuff legal? I kept asking myself. 4 miles per hour is super quick for a 5'2 female bounding over boulders, fording through streams, maneuvering around snow drifts, and gaining major elevation.

The next morning I woke up next to a beautiful lake, stretched, and danced to my music as the sun was rising.  One of the songs even included "Hakuna Matata" off of the Lion King.  For me, it was perfect for that moment in time.  Every cell in my body was  rejuvenated from such laughter and fun. 

Later that day, I even took a shower in an ice cold waterfall that made me scream to the top of my lungs.  My kind of luxury at its finest, and I was enjoying every second of it!