One month (and five days) in!


Thirty-six days ago I stood at the Pacific Crest Trail southern terminus with one direction to go, forward. 

Since then, I’ve walked 454 miles up the West Coast. In 248 miles, the desert section ends, and the Sierra section begins.

Most of the desert hasn’t been what I pictured, some sections are full of water, and lots of lush green plants. We’ve been hiking mostly in the high desert. 

Today I’m at Hiker Heaven, a trail angels home in Agua Dulce, and when I return to the trail I’ll drop to the desert floor, where hotter days and less shade will be in store. 

We had our first summit last week at Mount Baden-Powell, just about 9,400 feet. I was a little dehydrated that day and could feel the elevation. Sprite and I dropped our packs just before the summit (which isn’t actually on trail) and joked about our bodies feeling like jello while making the final climb to the top.

The first couple weeks of the trail were very surreal to me. Similar to when you plan for what you hope will be an extravagant vacation. You get to the airport, go through the motions of printing out your ticket, board the plane and soon enough, arrive at your destination. 

I vividly remember the drive to the terminus. It seemed like it took forever. There were dusty desert mountains to stare at outside the window, a distraction that mildly calmed my nerves. 

We stopped at a rest stop just before the trailhead. I remembered thinking this was my last opportunity to use a toilet for a while. Things were about to change, but I was ready for it. 

A little over a month in, I’m certain that this experience will be the best thing I’ve done with my life thus far. Scout, who hosted me and 26 other hikers the night before I started the trail said it best: “the trail provides a community that I always wanted to be apart of but never knew existed.” 

I think about a lot of different things out here. I think about what I want to do with my life in the future, where I want to travel to next, the relationships I have with my friends and family and how important it is for me to maintain those bonds in the coming years, and I’m often thinking about what I’m going to eat next (I’ve always loved to think about food). 

I remember my mom asking me once why I was hiking the trail, and I remember telling her because I didn’t want to be angry when I grow up. Crazy to think I’m 25, and most people already consider that pretty grown up. 

What I meant by that response was that I wanted to get to know myself better, and get to know the world that I live in a little bit better. I don’t want to grow up and be bitter because of the pressures in society that I feel like I’m constantly facing. The pressures to feel adequate to your peers, wondering if I’m doing what a typical 25-year old should be doing. 

Since I’ve been on trail I’ve learned that everyone’s path to happiness is different, but also very much the same. Everyone sets up camp at night, and everyone packs up in the morning. Everyone smells like hamburgers, is covered from head to toe in dirt and has the gnarliest boogers.

But the streams of thoughts running through every hikers mind is different. 

While on trail, I’ve learned how to be thankful for my friends that wait up for me because I’m last person to pack up camp instead of wondering if I’m irritating them. 

I’ve taken off the mask of makeup that I cover my face with every day, and now when I look in the mirror, I see the most raw version of who I am. 

I’m working on training my mind to constantly see beauty in every situation, instead of succumbing to a tainted state of frustration when tragedy strikes. 

Day by day, mile by mile, I know I’m becoming who I am supposed to be out here. I am so grateful that the PCT will be a chapter in the story of my life. 

Today is a zero day, but tomorrow, I’ll put one foot in front of the other with one direction to go, forward. I can barely wait to see what’s just up ahead. 

Deep Creek Hot Springs

 


(This picture doesn’t do the creek justice. I meant to take so many photos, but didn’t seem to take my phone with me anywhere. I was completely in the moment in this incredible spot. I snapped this photo just before exiting the area, heading back on trail.)

Two days after leaving Big Bear, we’d hiked 35 miles, arriving at Deep Creek Hot Springs around 5 p.m.

We’d been anticipating this place for about a week. We’d heard the hot springs were hot and it was an unforgettable spot. We dropped our things, and headed for the Anniversary pool, the first pool that was built years ago on the premises.

There are a total of four hot pools at Deep Creek. Three of them are lined in a row at the top of the springs, and the other, the Arizona pool, is in the middle of the oasis, usually filled with hikers and hippies enjoying their time.

It’s easy to slip and fall while transferring from pool to pool at the springs. But every pool offers a new scenery of the creek, you have to experience them all.

Deep Creek is also filled with plenty of water that isn’t too cold for swimming. There is a tightrope, a rope swing and plenty of squirrels ready to eat all of your food. We spent plenty of time shooing them away, and they still got to my whole wheat bagels.


The places seemed to have so many stories carved into it’s history. Roadshow said it was rumored to be an old hippie hangout of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and others. We also heard there was a six-mile trail that led to Charles Manson’s ranch. Whether or not these things are true, it was fun to imagine the history that could’ve occurred at the spot I was so captivated in.

We could see all kinds of magic in the springs. From different jewels carved into the pools (again, I wish I took a picture), to purple painted hand prints on the boulders, the place was full of life. That night we spent our time checking out different faces  we saw in the rocks surrounding the creek.

When we woke up the next day we were taking our time. We all cowboy camped, and when we woke up we joked about how it felt like a Sunday. I think it was actually Monday.

After eating breakfast, which consisted of a Mountain House breakfast combo thing, we still couldn’t seem to get out of our sleeping bags.

So we took a zero day.

We spent our day lounging in the pools, exploring the terrain and tending to camp chores. Because there was so much water around, we did dishes, washed some socks and hydrated.

Part of the trip that I’m learning to really love is the lack of schedule. There are things to consider, such as your water/food supply and what direction the trail is, but having the ability to do what you want, when you want, feels like freedom.

Roadshow had been to Deep Creek before, and said he knew it to be a common hangout for snakes.

When Sprite ventured over to the south side of the creek, we heard a shriek.

Roadshow turned to me and guessed Sprite encountered a snake.

He was right.

 

(Bridget (Sprite) took this photo) 

We saw two different rattlesnakes that looked just like this one. It was interesting being so close to a rattlesnake. I was definitely scared, but I never felt threatened.

Sprite shot some good photos, and we watched momma squirrels carry their babies to the other side of the creek in a hurry. The squirrels would take turns waving their tales in front of the snake to give other squirrels in the area a warning signal. They did this for a couple of hours, until the snakes moved on, I assume.

What a tough life for the squirrels. It was interesting to see the community the squirrels had to navigate away from the snakes and keep their babies safe.

Deep Creek was a tough place to leave. I can see how a local to the area could get wrapped up in the enchantment and never leave. Hippy Dave, one of the people we met at Deep Creek, said some hikers that left the day before we arrived had been there for nine days.

But just as life goes, I’m sure there will be another spot just as charming as Deep Creek just up the trail. It’s only a matter of time.

The next morning we hit the trail pretty early. Our next stop on the map: McDonalds, in El Cajon, 35 miles ahead. The night before we got here, we stayed on a beach on Lake Silverwood. Beautiful lake, we hiked around it for about 12 miles.

On the stretch from Deep Creek to Cajon Pass we didn’t see many hikers. It was abnormal. Usually we pass groups of hikers all throughout the day, most commonly around water sources or good break spots.

When we reached the trail head signaling McDonald’s was .4 miles ahead, a thick fog and heavy wind had been coming in. We were grateful to be in town, and decided to stay at the Best Western across the freeway.

Cajon Pass has a McDonald’s, Del Taco, Subway, hotel and gas station. As tiny as it gets! But we filled our bellies, did our laundry and showered.

It’s back to the trail in a couple hours.

 

Idyllwild and beyond 

I’d heard good things about a little mountain town called Idyllwild during my shakedown hike with Jake, a 2015 PCT thru-hiker, just two weeks before I left for California. 
He said Idyllwild was an amazing little place and that when I got there, I should take my time and explore. 

So when Sprite, Roadshow & I arrived, we took our first zero day. 

Idyllwild has a backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains. The population is 3,800, and everybody I met was very hiker-friendly. 


The town streets are lined with thrift shops, wineries, chocolatiers and restaurants, all within walking distance of one another. 

We spent our time relaxing at a cabin owned by Idyllwild Inn that my momma and Dave rented for us! We were so thankful. It was home for the night. 

 The Inn holds resupply boxes for hikers, and even lets hikers store there packs there while they meander around town. 

Our cabin was #4. 

The trim of the windows and door was painted green and yellow, a little touch from home. Go ducks! 


The cabin had enough space for everyone to spread out. We also got to clean up in the shower and wash ALL of our clothes on site. The next day, we played at the park in the center of the campus, the first time I’ve sat on a teeter-totter in years. 

A grocery store across the street supplied us with a bountiful salad that night that we enjoyed with pizza and some PBR’s.

We were all exhausted, and after dinner, it was time for bed. Out here, 8pm is known as hiker midnight. 

The next day, we took the Deer Springs trail out of Idyllwild to connect back to the PCT. we had quite the climb ahead of us, about 4,000 feet of gain in six miles. 

The trail was so beautiful. 

The waterfalls were stunning, complied with massive rocks and segways to the next fall. Sometimes I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The sights restored my energy after the uphill battle. 


We hiked about 14 miles that day and set up camp early. Roadshow was so excited to be up in the mountains, a change of scenery from the desert. We slept in a campspot with the most incredible view. That night I sat on a ledge and watched the mountain in front of me change to eight different shades of purple with the sunset. Just incredible. 

The next day we planned for a 20-mile day. This day consisted of the most downhill I’ve ever done, dropping from about 9,000 ft to 1,300 feet. Tough on the joints, but I’d prefer downhill to uphill most times, because you’re not losing your breath and less stops are necessary. We jetted down the mountain and made it to a spot under a bridge by about 4pm. 

Under the bridge we found a trail angel supplying a styrofoam cooler with soda and beer, all surrounded by ice. It was lovely. There was also fresh (and filtered) water, snacks and garbage cans. It’s nice after a few days of hiking to empty your “garbage bag”, because carrying the weight of wrappers is actually a thing. Lol. 

He told us about a trail angel, Hillbilly, who would be happy to host hikers that night. We took him up on his offer. 


It was Cinco De Mayo, and Hillbilly made fajitas for the crew. We also got to shower, do laundry and we ended the night with a superman movie. 

Hillbilly is quite the collector of things. In every room he had collections ranging from toy cars to stuffed animals. He was such a character, and I think really enjoyed having hikers over. We were so grateful for his kindness. 

The next morning, we were on our way to Big Bear when a storm decided to show up. 


Getting pulled back and forth by the wind on the ridge of a mountain is no joke! We hiked that day with a couple other hikers, their trail names are Beetroot and Afrikool (long story). We made it about 12 miles to the Whitewater Preserve, and decided to wait out the storm there. Since we were there by noon, we had plenty of time to explore. 

The day we were at the Preserve probably goes for my favorite day on trail. It was BEAUTIFUL. I can’t even put into words this place. It’s like you’re walking into a resort, with palm trees and a beautiful river surrounded with white sand. We spent our time throwing rocks into the river, bird watching and laughing for hours. I hope one day to return to this spot. 


We also saw our first rattlesnake at the Preserve! Sprite shot this photo. 


That night was a windy one, but we made it through! I can’t remember how many miles we had till Big Bear at that point, but we were on the go. The day we got into Big Bear we completed 20 miles by 2pm! We were pretty stoked about that. 

When we got into Big Bear, Papa Smurf (a well known trail angel in the area) picked us up at the trailhead and took us to town. We stayed that night at a Travelodge with some other hikers, and looked forward to the free continental breakfast the next day. It was delicious, I might have taken some pasteries with me for the following days. 

We checked out, went and grabbed lunch and made our way around town. We stopped at a candy store (if you know me, you know I LOVE candy), outfitter and a couple natural foods stores. It’s so nice to be able to wander around an unknown town without a schedule. Just exploring, here and there.

Around 5pm we resupplied at the local grocery store and hitched back out to the trailhead. The lady who gave us a ride was awesome, and said she only gives rides to hikers if they text their parents and let them know they’re okay. We were her third set of hikers she picked up that day. When she dropped us off, she picked up another few hikers who were waiting for a ride in town, even though she had yoga in 15 minutes. It’s incredible the amount of people who dedicate their time to helping hikers. We are SO appreciative. 

We camped last night with several other hikers, just two miles from the trailhead. Our second night with a fire to keep us warm, and this time with marshmallows to roast. 

I woke up in the middle of the night not feeling to hot. I decided I needed to head back to Big Bear to take a day off. Roadshow and Sprite came with me to make sure I was okay. I’m sitting now in a hotel bed feeling pretty under the weather, but I’ll be back out there as soon as I can. Hopefully tomorrow. 

A couple things I’ve learned on trail:

This adventure is almost like a long vacation. Except, your putting in hours of hard work, hopefully work that you enjoy. You spend countless nights under the stars and look at breathtaking views on the daily. BUT, life still happens out here, just like it does in society. You get sick, your debit card gets used fraudulently, the Post Office doesn’t ship your box on time, get shin splints, etc. But the trail has really helped me decide how to react to such situations. You can’t control what happens in life, you can only control how you react to it, and what you’re going to do next. When you’re out here with limited options, keeping a level head is key. 

Another thing the trail has helped me with is restoring faith in humanity. I heard this a lot from former hikers at REI classes I took before I left for the trail, but seriously, the amount of time, money and kindness regular people dedicate to help hikers is INCREDIBLE. Most times, people are doing this for FREE. But another way the trail has helped me restore faith in humanity is by the friends I’ve made. As soon as Roadshow and Sprite found out I was sick, they made the choice to head back to town with me, even though I’d be in bed all day. I’ve only known these people for a short time, but their kindness and generosity makes me feel so much better. Even with a high fever. I’m truly grateful. 

Hopefully we’ll hit the trail tomorrow. Our next stop is Wrightwood, 363 miles in. Getting closer and closer to the Sierra everyday. Everyone keep your fingers crossed for a big snow melt! We need it! 

Julian to Warner Springs

After leaving Mount Laguna our next stop was Julian, about 35 miles north. 

Some friends of Bridget’s that previously hiked the trail said it was their favorite trail town, PLUS they have free pie for hikers. How could we pass it up?!

Julian isn’t exactly on the trail, about a 12 mile hitch. When we reached the junction, we were with another hiker, Mouse Trap, who brought his awesome PCT hitchhiker sign. 

It only took us about ten minutes before a nice lady in a Prius offered to give us a ride. She played 50’s music the whole time, and was eager to hear our stories. She reminded me of my Grandma Welma. 


Once in Julian, we saw Carmen’s Place across the street. Carmen is a trail angel. She owns a restaurant, however she closed it down for the day to be able to host hikers – all free of cost. Donations were accepted. 

After being at her residence/restaurant for 30 minutes, I had enjoyed a mimosa and freshly made breakfast burrito. It was delicious!! The burrito even came with homemade salsa. Roadshow, Sprite & I were very happy. 


We had foot baths, and were able to do our first load of laundry, which was invaluable. 


There was about 30 hikers there at a time. 

Rachel, the 20-year-old hiker from Seattle, and I ventured to Mom’s to get our free slices of pie. After showing the cashier our PCT permits & ID, we had a selection of six different pies to choose from. I went with Bumbleberry, a mix of boysenberries, blueberries and blackberries. It was amazing. Never as good as my moms, though. 

We spent some more time relaxing before getting back on trail. It was amazing to me the kindness Carmen offers hikers. She is a very happy lady, and functioned well in organized chaos. I was impressed and very grateful. The time we spent at Carmen’s won’t soon be forgotten. 

We felt pretty good that night, and hiked another five miles, finding a spot in a valley for the night. Bridget cowboy camped, and I think I decided cowboy camping wasn’t my thing. Just a little too cold for me. I was comfortable in my tent. 

Yesterday, we aimed for a 20 mile day, and we did it! I was definitely hurtin by the end of it, and we stumbled into our camp spot at about 7pm. There was running water close by. That was magical. 

We each had a rice/bean backpacker meal for dinner. And Bridget had an avocado we put on top! While eating dinner, I realized I wasn’t feeling deprived of food on the trail at all. We snack a lot – nuts and seeds, dried fruit and granola bars – but having a full meal is always an option, as long as you take the time to make it, and clean up afterwards. Just like at home, I suppose. 

Today we hiked into Warner Springs. Only about an eight mile hike. We got here early before the post office closed, Bridget and I had resupply packages to pick up. I had a surprise bottle of Jameson in mine, thanks dad!! 

We had lunch at a nearby restaurant with some other hikers. The server wasn’t too keen we were there, but we tried to be nice nonetheless. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger. And ate the whole thing. 

The Warner Springs Community Center here really caters to hikers, offering showers with buckets, providing soap and water, and allowing us to handwash our clothes. 

Anytime that you can shower/do laundry on trail, I’m in. The shower was especially nice today, finally getting to wash my hair and rub my scalp.. ahh. 

We are planning on hiking out in about an hour, when the heat settles a bit. 

Our next stop is Idyllwild, which we plan to be at by Wednesday. About 70 miles from here. I’ve heard the BEST things about Idyllwild. There is supposed to be a killer natural foods store, and plenty of little shops and cafes for entertainment. 

My blisters have began to callus and I couldn’t be more stoked!! If my feet didn’t hurt, I’d be in pretty good shape. I wake up sore, but once I get going, I don’t even notice it. 

I am going to do a post pretty soon about what gear I ditched in the first week, so lookout for that! It’s amazing what you think you need, when you really don’t. 

Just over 2,500 miles to Canada! 

The first 60 miles

Bridget and I are posted up just a few feet from the trail underneath her blue tarp, trying to make some shade, after today’s first 11 miles. 

Snapchat reports it’s only 66 degrees outside, but I beg to differ. 

The terrain has been filled with lush green plants and trees everywhere. The flowers have ranged from purples to blues, some white and some yellow. Just gorgeous. 

Yesterday, Nirvana, another hiker, from Seattle, said he felt like he was walking in a garden, in awe of the raw beauty surrounding him. 

We spent yesterday morning and early afternoon at Mount Laguna. The first real “stop” on the Pacific Crest Trail, about 42 miles in. 

Mount Laguna has a sports supply store, a cafe, a post office and a small convienent store. Outside the sports supply store, there were three hiker boxes. 

Hiker boxes are filled with gear other hikers ditch along their journey. But what is one mans trash is another’s treasure. Bridget scored the blue tarp we are currently using as shade and a silk sleeping bag liner (this is a big deal… lol). I found a small Therma-Lite seat, to sit down on while we take our breaks on the trail. It provides some comfort and helps keep a little dirt off my bum. 

After scouring the hiker boxes and grabbing a bite to eat at the cafe, we waited until noon for the post office to open. I had my first resupply package to pick up and Bridget sent her tent to Kennedy Meadows, the last stop before the Sierra. 

Sooner than later, we were back on trail. We stopped again about five miles in, elevated our feet and met up with Nirvana and Rachel, another hiker from Seattle. We were sitting on the deck of a lookout point where several people stopped along their journey up the nearby highway. They asked us questions, shared their stories and wished us good luck. Just before we left, we met up with Jeff. 

Back at Mount Laguna, Bridget named Jeff Roadshow. Last night, Jeff gave us our trail names. Soulshine is mine, and Sprite is Bridgets.

After leaving the lookout point, we hiked about five more miles to Pioneer Mail Picnic Area, a nice little campground that was equippt with a bathroom and water supply. 

We set up our tents and hit the hay. Our goal today is to hike between 17-20 miles, so when we wake up tomorrow it’ll be a short hike into Julian. 

Julian not a “stop” on the PCT persay, but has free pie for PCT hikers at a restaurant called Ma’s. Bridget and I daydreamed on trail today about Julian having a YMCA (where we could shower), a thrift shop (where we could buy a dress), and a winery all next door to each other. Wouldn’t that just be wonderful? 

However, Jesus, another hiker from Chicago who stopped and chatted with us on our lunch break, said there could be a brewery. I’ll take it. 

As far as how I’m feeling, my feet hurt, and blisters keep popping up. At Mount Laguna I invested in toe liner socks, and wrapped up my blisters. Since then, the preexisting blisters haven’t gotten worse, just new ones have appeared. Doing my best to keep them clean. 

My body isn’t as sore as it was the first couple of days, and my skin in much more tan. 

Couple of notes: 

We are about 62 miles in. Hope to be around 70 tonight. Yesterday was our lowest day, hiking 10 miles. 

I continually eat pasta out here. I’m not complaining. My JetBoil boils water FAST. Like seriously fast. And then it shakes back and fourth refusely until you turn the heat down. Still trying to scrape the burnt debris off the bottom of my stove. I call it character. 

Last night was by far my warmest night. I doubled up on my clothes and finally am learning how to use my sleeping bag liner instead of kicking it to the very bottom of my sleeping bag. 

I am happy. Sometimes I am very sweaty. I’m also pretty stinky by now and rather dirty, but I’m loving it out here!

Lake Morena 

We started the day with a little oatmeal and filtering water at our campsite. Once we were ready to get on trail, it was about 8:30 a.m. 

The ridge we climbed was rather steep, about 1,000 ft elevation, and the heat was a little killer this morning. Luckily it wasn’t long before we hit Lake Morena, about five miles, actually. 

Coming down the switchbacks I began to see a campground, populated with people and cars. Excitement grew inside me. 

We were signaled over by a section hiker, I can’t remember his name. Soon enough we found ourselves in a campground hosted by the Wolverines Group who were there to provide drinks, food and help to hikers. 

Drinking my first sip of a free ice cold beer, I felt grateful. 

We made our way to the store. There, I had the opportunity to wash my face, with soap! This was wonderful. The dirt from my hands fell into the sink and the water turned brown before it swirled down the drain. I was reminded how much dirt I was carrying with me every step. 

We didn’t end up buying food. Just some koolaide and checked things out. Bridget got a shakedown from one of the trail angels and I sat and watched with another hiker, who’s trail name is Whisper. 

Whisper earned that name while thru-hiking the Applachian Trail last year. She’s 19. 

We hung out at the Lake for a while. Really beating the heat! Refilled our waters at a fosset. I was grateful for clean water that I didn’t have to filter. 

Annnnd, around 3 p.m., we were back on trail. We crossed a couple rivers that were just big enough to have to take our shoes of for. This is more of a chore than you’d think, but having ample amounts of water is nothing to complain about. 

We hit the popular campsite tonight around 6:30 we chatted with a guy named Jeff, 40, from Washington. 

He’s a wise soul and we had good conversation. We debated wether to camp there or not, and decided to make a couple more miles before the day was done. 

The stars are beautiful tonight. My feet hurt a little more than they did yesterday. I’m excited for what tomorrow will bring.

Day two notes: 

12 total miles

I’m not sure how many steps, my Fitbit died. I recharged it at the Lake, but it’s still not accounting for about two miles. It reads 26,700 steps. 

We saw TWO snakes today, none of them hissed at us. I had four tortillas with my breakfast casserole dinner. And three jolly ranchers to follow. 

Day 1

What a day it was! I got dropped off at the border with the slew of 25 hikers who were ready to hit the trail. 

The southern terminus is an interesting experience! Everyone huddles around to take pictures and then we kind of stood around looking at each other like “do we start walking?” 

I began my walk with a girl named Bridget. She’s 27, and from Australia. We kept up at about the same pace all day. 

The first mile was a breeze. Up until about mile 6 was, actually. We’d hit the first six miles before noon. 

It was hot. Super, duper hot. We stopped a few times to eat some electrolytes and soak up some shade. We reminded each other to drink water. 

Around 1:15pm we decided to hop off trail and wait for the heat to sieze. After a nap I was feeling much better. My energy was restored after enduring the heat and we got to relax. 

Mid day we found an awesome creek with plenty of water to refill our bottles. There was even enough water for us to take our shoes off and walk around! Let me tell ya, it was a wonderful experience. 

After leaving the creek, we decided to head to Hauser Creek Campsite for the evening. It was about 5 miles ahead. 

We passed a piles of rocks on our left when we heard a VERY loud hiss. We looked back and didn’t see anything so we carried on, but we were both quite startled! 

We made it to camp, and set up. We are cowboy camping tonight with another camper named Amelia. She’s 18, and from Reno, Nevada. 

So far things have been great! We have a tough ridge to start out the morning with tomorrow, and then we’ll be at Lake Morena, the first stop. I hear they have milkshakes and a cafe. OH, and showers. Woohoo. 

It’s been a great day! 

15.4 total miles

43,000 steps 

198 floors climbed 

Scout & Frodo’s 

What a day it has been! 

After a sleepless night I arrived at Scout & Frodo’s house around 2:30pm. Scout & Frodo are trail angels, who open their home from mid March to mid May every year. They host up to 50 hikers a night, feed them three meals a day, offer to do shak downs with hikers and mail home unnecessary gear and THEN carpool the hikers to the southern terminus every morning. 

I have been so blessed to be in their home. Wonderful people, and the opportunity to bond with hikers prior to the trek really begins has been so valuable. 

There are a ton of international hikers. Today, I met hikers from Australia, England and France. I am sleeping in my sleeping bag in a very large tent with six other hikers. 

I did a shake down today with the peppas (his trail name) and he cut SEVEN POUNDS out of my base weight. For those that don’t know, base weight is the weight of your pack minus food & water. 

This is my third shake down, and definitely the most beneficial one. I have the items he recommended dropping by my sleeping bag tonight, so I can think on it one more time before Peppas ousts them to the post office for me tomorrow (yes, there are actually people here that are THAT kind). 

We had a dinner that consisted of two kinds of pasta, salad and bread. For dessert we were served a chocolate cannoli cake. Delicious!! 

Scout and I bonded over a passion for writing. He was a business lawyer before he retired, and has sense written several books. He and I agreed that it’s wonderful that there is a career that will actually pay you to tell stories. We also bonded over the fact that the rate of pay in the field is far too low. 

Breakfast tomorrow is served at 6am, and consists of French toast, eggs, oatmeal, juice, tea, coffee & I’m sure I missed something else. I’m ecstatic to start my journey tomorrow morning. I’ve never felt more ready!! 

Adventures with Ellie and Terry

One of my dearest friends, Alyssa, gave me this adorable little elephant to carry with me all the way to Canada. When My aunties, Cindy & Carla, gave me this precious little turtle to also carry with me all the way up the west coast.

I have decided they will be best friends.

Ellie will help remind me of strength & give me the courage to carry on when I feel like it’s impossible. Terry will keep me grounded, reminding me that “slow and steady wins the race.”

When Alyssa gave me the elephant, she wrapped it in a handwritten letter that she gave me at my going-away party. Her letter brought me to tears, and the relationship I have with her is truly a special one. I am certain we will be friends all my life.

My aunties gave me my turtle while visiting me at work. Up until I left for the trail, I worked at a Bar & Grill in Albany. My aunties are truly gems and I have valued the relationship I have with these women all of my life.

I am excited to bring Ellie and Terry with my along the journey. In addition to strength and grounding, they remind me of the beautiful relationships I have in my life & how much support I have at home.

WHY I AM HIKING THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL

There are several questions I get asked when people find out I’m planning on thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

Are you really planning on doing the whole thing?

Do you have extensive backpacking experience?

Did you know there is a record level of snow in the Sierra this year?

Are you starting in Mexico or Canada?

Are you going alone?

Are you bringing bear spray?

Are you CRAZY?

Amongst all of these questions, the MOST common question I get is WHY.

It’ a question I’ve asked myself daily since I’ve been planning this trek. Which began June 2016.

My most common answer is: I went to college, found my passion & got my degree. Then I moved out of state, did the 9-5 thing, paid my bills & was unsatisfied with the status quo. I was lucky to make some incredible friendships along the way (you know who you are) but that was the only thing I found really giving me joy on the daily and I wasn’t okay with it.

My whole life I have been driven to travel. I feel that most people are. We humans want to go, see, touch & do. Instead of booking a trip to backpack Europe (which too would be dope) I decided to look around in my neck of the woods & see what was there to explore.

Unlike some hikers, I haven’t had a dream since I was 12 years old to hike the PCT. I more or less decided that I wanted to do something, and the Pacific Crest Trail is what I picked.

When I moved home from my first real job (sorry parents, and thanks for letting me live at your house) I decided that my focus was going to shift from professional to personal.

I took a job at Shelter Cove Resort & Marina, located on the east side of Lake Odell in Oregon, and got to know a ton of PCT hikers that would stop at the lake on their journey to Canada. I asked them all kinds of questions about their time on the trail, about their gear and their well-being. I soaked up as much advice from them as I could, and I used this knowledge as a base to prepare for my own journey.

I read blogs, read Yogi’s PCT handbook, did shake-downs with former hikers, tested my gear and now it’s just about time to hit the trail.

I am hiking the PCT because I want to learn about myself. I want to test myself physically and mentally and hopefully come out stronger than I was before.

I want to learn how to be sure of myself and that the path that I’m taking in life is OKAY because it is what is making me happy and it’s what I want for myself. I think spending six months on a trail will do just that.