The Desert Crazies

Day: 48

Location: Neldas Diner, Lake Isabela, CA

Cumulative Miles: 652

Avocados Consumed: 32

Showers Taken: 13

image

I cracked. The desert broke me. It was only a matter of time, but the weird part is that it wasn’t the exposure or extreme temperature. It happened on a cold, windy, and rainy freakin’ day. Don’t get me wrong, the desert has been extremely gorgeous and rewarding, but it’s safe to say, “I’m over it.” GAHHHH

We started our hike on Sunday afternoon. Camel hiked out a day earlier so we were down to 4. If I were in high school I would have called us the “Fab 4” all week, but I’m not, so it obviously never even crossed my mind.

Brand loyal.

Brand loyal.

We had a short week on our hands, about 86 miles to the next town. All I knew about this stretch was that it’s desert-like, and there would be very little water along the way. If my preparation hasn’t impressed you so far, I feel like that last sentence MUST of got you there. Again, just wingin’ it.

image

It was so cold. The first couple of days were very pleasant, but the nights provided the shivers and I laid awake making lists of more layers needed for the High Sierra. Why sleep when you can make lists? We did a lot of initial climbing, so we hiked and slept around 6,000 ft. throughout the week. The roaring wind didn’t help matters either. My goodness I am so sick of the wind. If I can pinpoint my craziness to one element it’d be the wind. For sure. GAHHHHH

image

Two days BEFORE the desert made me crazy, I saw a bear. Confusing for me, because I thought I was in the Mojave desert. And because I thought “it must be a squirrel.” It wasn’t. It was a big brown bear and it scared the shit out of me. There was a stretch of forest in between more desert, it lasted about 6 miles and that is where the Mojave Brown Bear lives. Mile 595.4.

The bear stopped in the sunny part of the trail to stare me down

The bear stopped in the sunny part of the trail to stare me down

I’ve seen bears before, but never that close, and never alone. We stared at eachother in a frozen silence. I would have made a lot of noise and went bonkers, but it didn’t feel right. Instead, I did absolutely nothing. Except pray, yeah, I prayed quite a bit in those 20 seconds. It eventually huffed and charged down the right side of the trail into the woods, PHEW. I continued to do nothing for 10 minutes and hoped someone would show up behind me, no such luck.

It was 6:30 at this point, I was ahead of the pack and looking for a campsite. I couldn’t find any suitable flat ground for 3 tents, AND I wanted to get out of that bear forest, so I ended up hiking another 4 miles. I sang loudly, yelled made up words and phrases, and swung my trekking poles around. I really, really didn’t want to see that bear again.

I ended up camping alone that night, 3 miles ahead of everyone. I don’t blame them, I pulled out a big day and they hiked farther than they wanted to trying to find me. I spent all night (seriously) wondering if the bear ate Maggie (chuckles). I was genuinely concerned that someone was dead, and then I woke up to an awfully depressing fog and that confirmed my prediction. This fog, yes, this fog, means the bear killed someone. And it was probably Maggie.

breakfast with an alive and well, Chuckles

breakfast with an alive and well, Chuckles

An hour later I found everyone. Alive. WELL THAT WAS A CLOSE ONE. Everyone was shocked that I saw a bear, so now everytime I tell the tale of the Mojave Brown Bear, I get really into it, campfire style.

Dinner in the Cabana, a favorite!

Dinner in the Cabana, a favorite!

The day the desert broke me was total bullshit. That’s the only way to describe it. I expected this first 700 miles to be FLAT, HOT, and super EXPOSED. It’s been all those things probably 50% of the time. After a very long and sandy climb up a stupid hill of some sort, it started to hail. I finally get to the top, and I just get pounded with rain, and then hail. I gingerly searched for my poncho and umbrella. Why wasn’t I frantic? Why wasn’t I rushing? Why didn’t I care that I was under complete weather annihilation? I couldn’t stop laughing. I didn’t give a shit anymore. I knew it would pass, and I would eventually dry off. I let it mess with me as it pleased. I eventually threw on my poncho over a SOAKED toe touch, hiked for 5 minutes, and then took it off.

image

At the bottom of the mountain was a water cache where I waited for Spoon and Chuckles. It was really windy and cold, but I took off my clothes to dry anyway. It didn’t work. So I put them back on, did a few somersaults with my pack on, laughed, yelled, screamed at the top of my lungs how badly I wanted to lay naked on hot pavement, and then we climbed up another mountain. Against the wind. At the top I looked out over the dark and stormy valley and said, In a very low tone, “I’m so fuckin’ sick of you.” I shook my head and then laughed at myself, my life, these circumstances, and remembered quickly how easy we have it out here. Gratitude gave me a swift attitude adjustment REAL QUICK.

image

These lupines are quite nice though

These lupines are quite nice though

We raced into town the following day, a mostly downhill 13 miles. We stayed at the Weldon KOA and did the normal routine: beer, food, shower, laundry, beer, pretend to sleep. We hitched 35 miles with a really nice guy who had a Rolling Rock beer in his center console, he claims it was his first beer of the day. We didn’t mind. Later I hitched to the supermarket with a guy who had a 12 pack of Natty Light in his center console, he offered no explanation.

imageimageimage

We took the dollar bus into Lake Isabela the next day, spending one night at the Motel and the following 2 nights camped at a grassy corner in a trailer park. I met as many locals as I could, I really wanted to hear stories that didn’t involve hiking and pretend I actually lived here. It worked out well because everyone I met was super friendly. Even attended a Hawaiin Luau at the Moose Lodge!

image

Drinks with Larry and Gary!

image

Drinks with Keith and Dawn!

imageimage

There is plenty of snow and cold temperatures awaiting us in the Sierra (50 more miles), so we took our time in Lake Isabela to get things sorted for the long stretches in the mountains. My friends are packing up for 5 days and then hitching into Lone Pine, 88 miles down the trail. I thought about doing that as well, but then realized I love the thought of hiking straight through the first 200 miles of the Sierra. It will be about 12-14 days, because it includes a summit side trip up Mt. Whitney (highest peak in the lower 48!). Our daily mileage will also lower in the Sierra due to elevation, snow, ice, and overall beauty.

When I think about backpacking in the High Sierra, I envisioned it with some solo time. This is the perfect opportunity to see how well I can do on my own, and face all the challenges that come my way. I’m a bit nervous, but way more excited. I haven’t slept all week, my entire body is on fire with the anticipation of these mountains.

I’m oddly not stressed out about having good enough gear or enough food. My plan is to stuff my pack with food and clothes, and hike north. One step at a time, keeping it simple and letting the magic of the landscape wash over me.

Sierra ready.

Sierra ready.

My next maildrop will be in Tuolomne Meadows, looking to be there around June 15th! But first, 200 miles in the Sierra, a reboot at the Mammoth Lakes Motel 6, and then 42 miles.

Time to go see for myself what all this fuss is about. πŸ‘πŸ˜€βœŒοΈπŸ”πŸ”πŸ”πŸ”πŸ”πŸ”

 

 


 

Earning the Sierra

Day: 40

Location: Motel 6, Mojave, CA

Cumulative Miles: 566

Avocados Consumed: 29

Showers Taken: 11

image

This week was a doozy. A majority of Mile 55 members labeled this the toughest hitch. I think I might agree.

image

“I smell like hot dog water” said Centerfold as we hit the trail on a Saturday afternoon. With just showering and laundering the day prior — this was sad, but true. We all smelled like hot dog water. The truth is, we stink. Although, our group does take good care when it comes to hygiene, other people definitely smell worse out here. We no longer smell eachother, but we do get whiffs of ourselves everytime we adjust a backpack strap or reach across our bodies. Sure, you get used to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s found a home in all our stuff, never to be washed out again. The worst part is showering, feeling amazingly clean, then sniffing your armpits 2 hours later and BAM, ya still stink.

image

I had a moment of major fear because if I can’t scrub the stank now, how am I gonna get rid of it in 4 months for my sisters wedding? Is this ridiculous? Yes, yes it is. Chuckles, in her ever so patient way of dealing with my shit, laughed and told me all I have to do is go home in September and sit in the sauna for 3 hours. That shut me up and I went on my merry way, embracing that solution and not giving the stank any further concern.

On 3 everyone look as trashy as possible...or, actually, just stay as is. Yeah, yeah that's perfect.

Okay on THREE everyone look as trashy as possible…or, actually, just stay as is. Yeah, yeah that’s perfect.

So, right, back on trail Saturday afternoon…we were all together, rested, “clean,” and caffeinated. Spirits and levels were at an all-time high. We stopped for water about 8 miles in and the pipe was barely producing a trickle. It was so unimpressive that Camel quickly named it “Splash Mountain.” It was the last water for awhile so we spent an embarrassing amount of time there, but it was evening and we all had the giggles and the crazies, so Splash Mountain proved to be a solid start to the week. Looking back, it was a big foreshadowing moment in terms of really unreliable water to come.

It's fun to stop suddenly, turn and shoot. You capture everybody's best side

It’s fun to stop suddenly, turn, and shoot. You capture everybody’s best side

As the sun was setting, we found flat ground to set-up camp. The view was gorgeous, and the laughs were abundant.

image

We had the pleasure of hiking/camping with Zucchini (real-name unknown) that night (she is since long gone). Zucchini is 19 and has already hiked the Appalacchian Trail, and now she is doing the PCT solo. You want to know what I was doing when I was 19?

image image

Basically, everyone thru-hiking under the age of 25 and figuring this all out on their own has my vote for president. Hi zucchs!!

The next day I woke up last and had a nice little morning. Our plan was to stay at another trail angels house that night. I was really excited to meet the Andersons, heard great things about them, but something was pulling me away from there. As everyone arrived at the Andersons, I continued to hike another 10 miles. I ended up in Lake Hughes, at a biker bar, in a bedroom fit for a child upstairs. It was kind of an awesome day, that ended with a baked potato (my only real craving so far).

The Rock Inn!

The Rock Inn!

A good pair-a-shoes lasts about 500 miles, so it was time to pick up my first new pair-a-shoes…in lake Hughes! I’ve been really excited about it, partly because my current pair-a-shoes were so chewed up and giving me many issues I could spend an insurmountable time bitching about, but mostly because SHOES and HUGHES rhyme and I’ve been jazzed about that connection.

I've never gone through a pair-a-shoes so fast! Is anyone sick of me referring to them as "pair-a-shoes" yet? Fand?

I’ve never gone through a pair-a-shoes so fast! Is anyone sick of me referring to them as “pair-a-shoes” yet? Fand?

Fine, I started with one pair-a-undies (kidding ?) and I lost them weeks ago. I asked my mom to throw in one pair for me. She, like many others, can’t fathom a life without underpants, so she sent me 2 pairs of black silk granny panties. She also sent me a tube of 100+ SPF sunblock. Spoon said it best, “wow, Claire really knows how to keep both the melonoma AND men away in one small package.”

I thought about keeping the extra pair and using it as a ground cloth for my tent, you know, for both an extra layer of insulation and to preserve the life of the tent floor. But, unfortunately, a sacrifice had to be made.

Note reads: "What! No underwear?? You'll get a bad rash!"

Note reads: “No underwear?? You will get a bad rash!” ? Thanks for the laugh momma!

Oh, right, hiking. The next couple days were light and fun. We hit the 500 Mile mark!!! I had a vision of making a music video, told the crew about it the night prior, and we executed it in one take the next day at the site. I’ve never been so proud.

IMG_1705image

image

In the middle of the week we upped our game a bit. How many miles we do a day is mostly based on where the water sites are. It’s not uncommon in this section to go 20+ miles with no water. On Wednesday, we dedicated ourselves to our biggest mileage day yet, 27 big ones. The first 9 were rolling and lovely, then, well, I don’t know what happened. The next thing I remember is Centerfold offering everyone delicious vegan protein birthday cake cookies his mom (Hi Kit!) sent him. I then crawled into my tent (conveniently located in the middle of a Wind Farm) and fell asleep to gentle lull of my rain-fly slapping all over the place.

image

I wish. No, it really wasn’t that bad, just really flat, exposed, hot, and super dry. Did I mention we are hiking through a wind farm? Pretty cool for a mile, then you realize how God-forsakingly windy WIND FARMS are, and the appeal is lost and gone FOREVER. First we walked along an aqueduct, then a pipeline, then a half paved/half dirt-road. I felt like a runaway kid from Stand By Me. I knew it’d be a mental toughness kind of day. I felt good for most of it, luckily my inner millennial surfaced and I listened to a fascinating podcast of the nutritional benefits of Algae, and then a lot of Whitney Houston. Made up some sweet new trekking pole dance moves as well.The corridor was wide open, a lot of space to get a little reckless with the poles.

Aqueduct pampering

Aqueduct pampering

Aqueduct facts or puns? Puns, for sure

Aqueduct facts or puns? Puns, for sure

image

Good times had by all!

Good times had by all!

The funniest part of the day was that we planned to camp at the water source. What’s so funny you ask? Well we had no idea if the faucet was on or not. LA has been really kind to us with every so often turning off faucets only hikers really have access to. Some days they are on, others they are off. Drought? Wait, what? California is in a DROUGHT?!? Don’t worry guys, the water was on thankfully.

image

We followed that day with a 23 mile climb back up to the high desert. It was fantastic. At the top of the mountain was a hiker hangout with CHAIRS and COLD WATER. There is this older gentlemen named Rocco that we’ve been around a lot lately. No one has actually seen him hike though, we just see him in towns, yet, he is somehow always ahead of us. Really nice and interesting guy, but always blowing our minds where he pops up. For instance, when I got to the water cache at the top of the mountain, there was Rocco, shirtless and reclined in the Adirondack lawn chair. Mirage? I thought so too, but nope, just Rocco hangin out in the desert. It’s always so good.

image

The trivial week ended, as it should, at the Motel 6 in Mojave. PCT hiker discount! After apologizing for our all-around smell/dust pile, the manager exclaimed “don’t be silly, hikers are our FAVORITE, you guys don’t complain about a THING!” It was really nice to hear, and it is true. Most hikers I’ve come across are super gracious and polite people. We rely a lot on the kindness of strangers, and we always, always, pay it back. Look at us, changing the world! One Motel 6 at a time! Β ?β˜€οΈ?

image

TGIF

Speaking of kindness, I have benefitted immensely from the kindness of two amazing friends this weekend. My friend Lisa sent me a huge box of goodies. This box was STACKED with all the hiker essentials. It was as if she has done a thru-hike herself? Wait, have you? Now THAT’D be something! The best gift was the 5 tshirts she made for the Mile 55 crew. All of us could not love them more, we feel like the coolest camp counsellors on the trail. We are over the moon excited to hike in these, thank you SO much Lisa! A friend I haven’t seen in years, so amazing to have your support.

image

My other friend, Michelle, drove an hour, picked up my friends and I, took us to the post office, bought us lunch, laughed along with us, and then brought me back to her home in Bakersfield. It was unbelievable, Mich works full-time, has 3 ((adorableeeeee)) kids under the age of 6, an awesome husband, and she still found time to get her kitchen ready for my arrival: “okay I got avocados, honey, bananas, wine, and because I pretty much grew up with you McCloskeys, pizza and cookies n’ cream ice cream.” She even let me use the master bath and I sank into the most amazing lavender Epsom salt (thank you Lisa!) bubble bath. I couldn’t believe how incredible today has been. You wake up in a Mo-6 and end the day at a best friends house. Undeniably, the best part of this visit was the slice of home Michelle gave me, talking about our families memories together and current hot topics was exactly what I needed to reset and get ready for this last stretch of the desert. Thank you both so much! I really, really, don’t want to leave this bed.

image

Pizza Party!

Sisters! ?

Sisters! ?

150 more miles, bring it on, Mojave.

Rounding Out the Month With Bonus Miles

Location: Sweetwater Cafe, Agua Dulce, CA

Day: 32

Cumulative Miles: 454.5

Avocados Consumed: 24

Showers Taken: 8

image

What do they say about being a mom? The days are long but the years are short? Well, thats what hiking feels like (hah!). We hike for about 10 hours everyday, see so many wonders, meet new people, catch up with people we’ve been leap-frogging since Mexico, savor the shade, filter muddy water, slap duct tape on our blisters, and enjoy every moment. The moment, however, that trumps all others is when I’m in my tent in the evening, and take off my sports bra. It’s the best feeling in the world. If someone were to tell me I could sleep in the worlds most comfortable princess bed that night (but have to keep my bra on), or take my sports bra off…I wouldn’t hesitate, I’d rip my sweaty crusty bra off and sleep on a jagged rock with a yucca box spring.

image

For whatever reason, the Mile 55 Crew likes to really swing for the fences. The best answer for this is that we were all bred in the Northeast, we are strong-minded purists that want nothing to do with easy things! Shortcuts? Safer options? Less miles? Us? No way!

The crew celebrates with the "local brew" (Tecate)

The crew celebrates with the “local brew” (Tecate)

Okay that’s just what I like to think, but sometimes it’s due to being oblivious to reroutes because we’re too busy singing and chatting about Tom Hanks movies. The main event this week was a 3 Mile PCT closure in order to save the Yellow-Frog who is on the brink of extinction (oh no!). A fellow hiker from Israel (Animal-Style) said it best, “WHY, in your country, can’t we CO-EXIST with thee YELLOW FROG??” Now I’m not the biggest fan of domesticated animals, but wild animals rock, so I think it’s pretty admirable of them to go to such lengths to save the yellow frog, ya know?

The Devils chair, part of the bonus 20 miles

The Devils chair, part of the bonus 20 miles

The PCT gave us 2 options, a 7 mile road walk (in which a lot of people hitched) or a 20 Mile trail detour of loose rock, ridges, and punishing steep climbs. We barely discussed it, of course we are going to hike 20 extra miles! In case you have trouble understanding, road walking sucks. It added an extra day, and only 2 other people we know did it (an awesome young couple from Ohio, shout-out to BOOM and FAYE!). It ruled, we finally had the PCT to ourselves, the way we imagined it. As you can guess, the trail is quite crowded in these early stretches. Once we hit Northern California we may start dropping out due to mental instability, physical woes, home sickness, or because we just can’t kick it anymore. But for now, hikers galore! It’s a social scene, for sure.

image

After completing the detour, we realized no one else did it. We awarded ourselves 10 PCT points for the extra effort. Everyone called us crazy, just how we like it. There was also another detour later in the week that we just had no idea existed. There is a plant similar to Poison Oak, but called “Poodle-Dog Bush.” The name is so erroneous that I awarded it none of my time. It’s pretty heavy in a certain 5 mile stretch so people took a road to stay safe. We all wondered why we didn’t see a soul for close to 10 miles that day. Then we saw people walking on an adjacent forest service road, and got clued in. “Ohhhhh, yeah no we walked right through it! Shorts and a tee! Here’s to hoping we don’t break out in full body rashes tomorrow!” Well that’s what went through my mind, everyone else was kind of skiddish about it and more careful. There were a lot of green plant varieties that day, so not knowing what it even looks like, I gave it no further thought and charged through whatever got in my way (I’m so tough). And really? Poodle-Dog bush? Who named it that? Ridiculous.

This is chuckles, not poodle dog bush

This is chuckles, not poodle-dog bush

We headed out last Sunday (Mothers day) and one mile in we saw this.

image

At a picnic area there was the nicest family. Two years ago, Jason (strawberry) thru-hiked the PCT. He asked his mom what she wanted to do for Mother’s Day and she said she wanted to provide trail magic and meet the hikers this year. Her mother came as well (90). They had so many treats, sodas, and she was boiling eggs in soy sauce as we walked up. It was adorable, generous, and heart-warming.

Mother's Day magic ?

Mother’s Day magic ?

OH! And then we saw the BRIT FAMILY ROBINSON! My favorite fellow hikers! We were lucky enough to see them several times this week and I particularly enjoyed one water stop where I asked Jack (captain obvious) my most burning and important question: What do you guys call a ‘fart?’ Growing up my mom and dad told us ‘fart’ was a bad word, so we called them Pineapples. With them being British and polite and adorable and hilarious, I was very curious. Captain Obvious fell into a fit of laughter at my family’s ridiculousness. They call them “smelly windys” which in turn, had me in a fit of laughter. It was a solid lunch break. I love being around that family, it’s so nice to see a young family do something so pure and raw together. Very relieving since I am so used to seeing all kids glued to electronics and ignoring everything and everybody around them. These guys are the best! Shout-out to the coolest cats on the trail! Next time I see you I’m gonna give Pippy some braid competition, the greasier my hair, the tighter my braid!

image

The rest of the day was miraculous. We climbed up a mountain into and then over the clouds. The views were either nothing at all, or amazing. After the summit, we hiked along the ridge and then in and out of beautiful forest. I was in a zen-like state, floating on the trail. I couldn’t have been moving fast, I was so entranced with everything around me, I was so relaxed, I was so happy.

sketchy snowy sections towards the top

sketchy snowy sections towards the top

Don't go left

Don’t go left

What a view!!

What a view!!

image

Fingers weren't too fond of the temperature

Fingers weren’t too fond of the temperature

I like to call this one: #lifeanddeath ?

I like to call this one: #lifeanddeath ?

It was a cold night, got down to about 30 degrees. I slept well though, I found that if I just devour my face in my sleeping bag I can sort of stay warm, breathing can be a challenge, but I’m willing to compromise it for warmth. Spoon left a mug of hot coffee at my tent vestibule in the morning, it was amazing. We didn’t start hiking that morning until 9:30 LOL. Β As we left we passed another group having a slow start, a friend named Waterboy is in this group and he just yelled “Roll out late or not at all!” hah, it’s a pretty nonchalant life.

image

The rest of the week was a lovely temperature, but then ended with really high temps. Towards the end I definitely felt dehydration effects. When we reached a KOA I downed a litre of coconut water trying to reverse the effects of also downing a tecate. I may never rehydrate again.

Dehydrated, dirty, fulfilled

Dehydrated, dirty, fulfilled

image

Instead of taking a full day off this week, we are doing 3 short 10 mile days. We are in Aqua Dulce at a place called Hiker Heaven. A family opens up their home to hikers and host up to 50 a night. Most camp but they also have a guest house with a kitchen and couple rooms. All out of the kindness of their heart. Showers, laundry, Netflix, BBQ, bonfires, 5 porta pottys etc. Incredible. They are a mile from town so as I walking back with my groceries the Sheriff of Los Angeles PD stopped and asked if I needed a lift. My mind immediately skimmed about 17 Dateline and 20/20 episodes where this went very, very wrong. So of course I said I’d love a ride! (Sorry mom, I’ve learned nothing from your nightly tv obsession). His name is Fred and he said he’s really looking forward to hiking the PCT one day. In that mile stretch we stopped at his house to check on his horse. He apologized for the delay, but horses are important around these parts. He left me in his car with all his weapons, this mutual trust in strangers thing is going quite well. He dropped me off at the house and I went nuts and ate an abnormal amount of fresh vegetables. We hung out all night and was a great stop. Back to the trail in a couple hours!

Thanks Fred!

Thanks Fred!

Turns out hikers have quite the mixed bag of talents

Turns out hikers have quite the mixed bag of talents

imageimageimage

image

Snakes, Creeks, and ‘The Smiley Face Mystery’

Location: Grizzly Cafe, Wrightwood, CA

Day: 25Β 

Cumulative Miles: 369

Showers Taken: 7

Avocados Consumed: 19

On-Trail Happy Hours: 1

So picture this: short little brunette, mid-20’s, portland, tight central top bun, red bandana knotted on top of forehead, dark-rimmed eye-glasses, barefoot, big smile. Her name is Penny, and she is in charge of the MILES OF SMILES.

image

For 2 days we kept seeing smiley faces in the dirt. Now I’m going to be frank here, it started to agitate me. I’m not proud to admit that, but enough was enough! We had never met Penny, and we weren’t sure who was ahead that could be responsible for these miles of smiles. The rumors began, the mystery grew…

One morning, I emerged from my tent and began to hike (weird right?). I began seeing smiley faces, and I told myself Jules — you have NOTHING pressing on the to-do list today, so during these 20 miles you will solve this, and solve it you will, TODAY. I gave myself a sweet high-five, toe touched it up, and went full-on detective.

It didn’t take much. Early on I passed Penny and her mate, Austin. A mile later I stopped to pee behind a big boulder, but left my pack on the side of the trail (this way, in case of a tragic peeing accident, someone would know my whereabouts.) Being Detective Toe-Touch, I never took my eyes off the trail. I saw Penny scurry by, stop at my pack, do a full 360, then scurry away. Remember she’s barefoot, and she actually is scurrying, it’s not quite a run but definitely not a walk, the stride is just the right length to be a confirmed scurry, trust me.

image

Little did she know I was on to her. Instances like this happened the rest of the day as we played leap frog. The next morning she stopped to say hello as we were packing up our tents. Chuckles first asked her if she knew the plot to the Oscar Winning “Wild Wild West” Will Smith film. She did not, and I couldn’t stop myself and spit out immediately “SO WHAT’S YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE WITH SMILEY FACES??” BAM! Got her, she doesn’t want anyone else to know, but she confessed. She is just spreading the love on the trail, all good intentions. I’ve decided to start leaving her some now that we are ahead. Wow, I can’t believe I just turned that into a huge story, sorry about that. Well I guess you now see where we get our entertainment from on the trail, we turn the little things into big things and then spread tons of rumors.

Can't imagine anyone purposely leaving this svelt jacket behind..

Can’t imagine anyone purposely leaving this svelt jacket behind..

Okay, for whatever reason that was a pressing event. The week in whole was amazing. We left Sunday morning with 6 days of food and 100 miles to cover. My resupply strategy is part snob part “wing it.” I go up and down every aisle in the grocery store at the pace of a senior citizen. I go for nutrients rather than calories, and clearly weight doesn’t matter to me. I tend to pack in avocados, bananas, almond butter, coconut oil, tins of sardines, jars of olives, a ridiculously heavy spice kit, etc. I then get frustrated that real food costs way more than fake food, but accept that’s just how it is. Totally backwards and screwed up, but I will continue to vote with my dollars. I plan on being in debt by week 5 and thus eating pop-tarts all day. Get ready for THAT post!

An array of snacks for meals

An array of snacks for meals

The most predictable and most consumed "hiker food"

The most predictable and most consumed “hiker food”

The first night we camped under a huge rainbow and then shivered in our tents all night. We had great weather the next few days, clear and hot. Centerfold woke up one day and decided that sleeves were extra weight and a thing of the past! So we went from hiker trash to white trash realllll quick.

image

image

Had a lot of good lunchtime naps this week. On one particular day, Little Spoon decided to sit in the creek in this underwear. The leeches attacked, and I do believe he learned a tough, tough lesson that day.

image

imageimage

Gimme yo best hair flip gurlll!

Gimme yo best hair flip gurlll!

One of the weirder days was when we hiked into Deep Creek Hot Springs. Don’t get me wrong, hot springs are great on a cold day and Β when there’s an outhouse. This was a very hot day, and there was neither an outhouse nor trash can. It’s a popular day use area so the place was trashed. Toilet paper in the bushes and under rocks, beer cans, food wrappers and a variety of litter everywhere you looked. It was a bit discouraging that people trash such remote and beautiful places. Such potential, now an area with very high fecal content, way to go, America!

"It's too early in the trip to get naked in front of you guys"

“It’s too early in the trip to get naked in front of you guys”

Also, at one point, we looked to our right and there was a women, naked, with dread locks, slack lining 20 feet above the main lake. Just another day, I suppose.

We passed mile 300! I had a nip of vodka for this moment (thank you, Fand) and I passed it around to celebrate! It was the first of undoubtably many, on-trail happy hours. Nothing I look forward to more.

imageimage

Guys, I’ve gone THREE WEEKS without seeing a snake (my biggest fear) and yesterday I saw THREE. They were all different too. Probably all deadly and stupid. All just hanging out across the trail giving me heart attacks. Anyone want to know how I handle the situation? Anyone? WELL LET ME TELL YA. I wait for my heart rate to lower, I stamp my feet, smack my poles, and hope for any movement, ANY movement at all! When they don’t move I figure they’re dead. So I throw rocks at their faces. The first two rocks I don’t try for contact, it’s just a scare tactic. When they don’t even FLINCH, I call them an “idiot” (in a really pathetic shaky voice) pick up my third rock and aim for their face. I usually hit them (not too hard) and they still don’t move. I start stamping again and this proves successful for the first 2 encounters.

image

Here’s a sunset, not a snake.

On the third encounter of the day I’ve just about had it. This guy was a total idiot. After 15 minutes of using all my skillful well researched tactics, I look up and see Centerfold not too far down the trail looking at a map. Phew. I call him to my rescue. He does his stamping routine and has the same frustrating outcome: nothin’. Alas he has a great idea, go AROUND it. I do. I don’t like it, but I take a detour behind the snake. I thought many times of running and jumping over it, and every time I vomitted in my mouth. Much too big of a pansy. Maybe next time.

Here's a rainbow bridge, not a snake

Here’s a rainbow bridge, not a snake.

The week ended with a quick stop at an off-trail McDonalds, lots of climbing, beautiful views, windy afternoons, snowy mornings, and a day-off in Wrightwood. Little Spoon has an ankle injury that he barreled through, and we also have time to kill before we can safely cross the Sierras, so the day 1/2 off in town is a good call.

image

I was the first one in town and I showed up so cold that I decided to treat myself to a room. The original plan was to camp or stay at a trail angels house. I wanted my own space, and it’s not good for the budget but it’s really good for the mind. I’m surrounded by hikers all day and night, and they are amazing, amazing people, but I do definitely need some space to reset and refresh, you know, so I don’t turn into a total isolated betch.

image

The only cabin available was a big one. I took it. I told mile 55 to come stay if they wanted, and it’s been grand. We started drinking in the evening, got Mexican food, and of course, had trouble sleeping all night. It’s a basic cabin, the beds are wooden planks, there’s no television, and laundry costed me $6 and took 16 hours. I wore a strangers XXL frog togs rain jacket to dinner/bed and a pair of clean shorts I keep around. Oh, and a pair of chuckles socks. But I was showered! And I used shampoo! I felt like a million BUX

image

Burrito mania!

Anyone order a gall of milk? No? Okay, how about beer then!

Anyone order a gall of milk? No? Okay, how about beer then!

Tomorrow we set out again. The worst of the storm has passed and we are hoping to get another 6 days and 100ish miles in. My health is excellent and I have definitely found my hiker legs. I roll my ankle pretty badly every 3rd day, but I rehab it back to strength pretty quickly. I have very weak ankles from previous injuries and accepted the fact that they will be an issue all summer. Just really hoping not TOO big of an issue. I suppose I also still have that weird foot tumor, which is just a squishy circle on top of my foot. Everything squishy I automatically assume is a calcium build-up. I don’t even think that is a thing, but it eases my mind.

Barely noticeable anymore!

Barely noticeable anymore!

The crew is feeling good, and I’m pushing essential oils on Spoons busted ankle to expedite the healing process. When I heard they were behind on account of injury, my heart broke a bit. I thought it was worse than it was and thought they might not be able to catch up, this causing a major drift. I left him a note and my peppermint essential oil under a rock on the trail for him the next day. He’s a tough one, and we will continue north tomorrow! Phew!

What??!? Yassss!!!

What??!? Yassss!!!

Welp, time to go to the grocery store, probably buy some unreasonably priced and packaged grass-fed yogurt for the trail! Hell, might even splurge and pack out a watermelon! Clearly I know what I’m doing.

ALSO, HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all the mommas, but especially the ClaireBear, the most generous and craziest one of all. I love you! Thanks for always taking care of your baby girl! ???? and sorry for stripping away all your potentially restful nights ???

image

Very foggy morning

Very foggy morning

Currently at 7,000 ft.

Currently at 7,000 ft.

Oh, that's IT?? #easy

Oh, that’s IT?? #easy

Also, Chuckles (Maggie) is a freelance writer and has a killer blog: check it out!

http://appalachiantrials.com/author/maggie-wallace/