Gearing up for something big
Posted on: Thursday March 24, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
In a little under a month, I plan to turn my back on the rusty fence that marks the US- Mexico border. Under the hot desert sun, I’ll make my way north. It’s 2650 miles to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail. I don’t know if I’ll make it all the way. I’m not sure I care if I don’t. I just want to spend as many nights as possible under the stars and explore three beautiful states that I have barely visited.
Campo to Mile 77
Posted on: Tuesday April 26, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
The wind is like a living creature. It shakes the tent so hard I am sure it will break my poles. Every few hours it rips out a tent stake, or snaps a guy line, forcing me to try to fix it from my sleeping bag. Then it is light and the wind isn’t dropping, so there is nothing to do but hike.
Julian to Warner Springs
Posted on: Thursday April 28, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
We climb up into the San Felipe hills. I say hello to my old friends the barrel cactus and the Ocotillos. The Ocotillos look burnt and dead, but explode into fiery flowers at the end of their stems.
The detour (Warner Springs 109 to Idyllwild 179)
Posted on: Tuesday May 3, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
We leave the tent city at Warner Springs and hike up to camp at Agua Caliente Creek. The name is a misnomer- my steripen flashes its snowflake at me when I treat my water.
Posted on: Saturday May 7, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
We are itchy in Idyllwild, impatient to hike. Our motel gives us a ride to the trailhead. I pull out my camera to take a photo and it gives me an error message. I turn it off and back on again. Still no luck. Great. The most beautiful part of the trail and I have to rely on my cell phone. I chase Shake’nBake and Bear Bait down the trail, asking them to take photos for me.
A name, a Nero and a raccoon attack.
Posted on: Monday May 9, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
Scout, the trail angel we stayed with in San Diego, calls while we are at Ziggy and the Bears. Somehow, I end up on the phone with him, giving a snow report on San Jacinto and Fuller Ridge. It feels like a lot of responsibility, giving a trail report to a trail legend. He’s happy to hear that so many of us that stayed at his place are still hiking together, having a good time.
Big Bear to Wrightwood
Posted on: Tuesday May 17, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
We bus to Big Bear around the fire closure. We go through San Bernardino, the roughest looking city I have ever been through, then up a long, winding road to Big Bear that makes us all sick to our stomachs. I sit next to Legend, a guy who is planning on triple crowning in one year. He’s already done the AT this year and is hiking thirty miles a day. Some members of our group are a little star struck, but I am firmly on the smiles, not miles train.
Wrightwood to Casa de Luna
Posted on: Monday May 30, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
We zero in Wrightwood. As always, town stops are a mess of laundry, resupply, hanging out and eating as much as possible. We lounge around our rented cabin, watching Wild and heckling. Then we go to the bar and sing Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and 500 miles at karaoke.
Casa de Luna to Tehachapi.
Posted on: Tuesday May 31, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
We decide at Casa de Luna that we’re going to hitch the next fire detour. It’s a 12 mile road walk and we’ve walked every other detour so far, so we feel like we’ve earned it. But as we walk down to the road, something sits heavy in my gut, and I can see by the looks on Bear Bait and Shake’nBake’s faces that they feel the same. We say goodbye to Down Time and Clammy, who get a ride almost immediately and start the long walk.
Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows
Posted on: Sunday June 19, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
I have an awful first day in Tehachapi. But, as always, my trail family is there for me. We resupply and hang out drinking beer and wine. One day stretches in to two, and we leave to slack pack the eight miles between the two highways leading to Tehachapi. I only take a litre of water and my phone, feeling reckless without a backpack.
Kennedy Meadows to Kearsarge Pass
Posted on: Sunday June 19, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
Kennedy Meadows is an odd hybrid of outdoor life and tiny town. We camp in the woods behind the general store, but are almost completely cut off from the outside world. I have to hitch three miles to a restaurant, just to send a single message that I am still alive. Time to get out of this town…
Kearsarge to Red's Meadow.
Posted on: Wednesday June 29, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
The Sierra are defined by high snowy passes, calm green meadows, raging rivers, and deep hunger. I have never been truly hungry in my life before, and it shocks me as it builds, until the hunger is like an animal living deep inside of me.
Red's Meadow to Tahoe
Posted on: Wednesday July 13, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
We take the Devil’s Postpile detour from Red’s Meadow, heading past day hikers to the rock formation. Then, we are back on the trail. I’m hot and tired and it is easy to lay my Z light by a fallen tree and nap for a few hours. Then, I am racing to catch my friends back up, through the lupine and cow parsnip, across the mosquito filled meadows. I find them high on a ridge and set up my bug net as the sun goes down.
Woah-oh, we're halfway there. Tahoe to Chester.
Posted on: Monday July 25, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
North California is not what I expect. We’ve been told it is most people’s least favorite section of trail, it’s not as pretty as the rest, and that most people drop out here. Mentally, I have been preparing for a tough section since the desert.
Chester to Ashland.
Posted on: Sunday August 14, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
I leave Chester feeling well rested, for the first time after a zero. Normally it takes me a few days to get my mojo back after town, but this time it is waiting for me at the trailhead. We head through the forest towards Lassen National Park. Mt. Lassen has loomed on the horizon for days, and now we loop around it, past bubbling lakes that smell of sulphur. We head towards the campground when we hear a shout behind us - Bear Bait! We left him in Sierra City, where he came down with the Norovirus that has been spreading up and down the trail, but he has caught us easily.
Most of Oregon (Ashland to Timberline Lodge)
Posted on: Friday September 2, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
We take an extra day in Ashland. It’s hard not to. Even after a few days off, I am still so tired. We mail our boxes, then collapse, incapable of doing more than calling out for pizza.
Posted on: Tuesday September 6, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
I fall asleep to driving rain and howling wind. Luckily it is on the outside of the hotel window. By the morning it has cleared. We head down to the breakfast buffet. We’ve heard about the Timberline buffet for almost 2100 miles and it does not disappoint. I stuff myself with eggs, sausage, potatoes, mix berries and chocolate chips into Greek yoghurt, then smother a waffle with real whipped cream and berries. Two hours later, as we head out into the rising clouds, I am hungry again.
Cascade Locks to Snoqualmie Pass
Posted on: Tuesday September 27, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
Crossing the Bridge of the Gods is emotional. There are a few places on the trail that you have heard about for so long and this is one of them.
The end (Snoqualmie to Canada)
Posted on: Tuesday October 18, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail
We are all ready to leave Snoqualmie, when we go to get breakfast. On the way to the restaurant, we look out of the window- driving rain. All my stuff just dried out. Should we stay another day? In the end, we can’t make ourselves leave, even though it is one day later to Canada, one day closer to snow.
Posted on: Saturday November 19, 2016 Pacific Crest Trail Travel
The bus from Manning Park leaves at 2am. We arrive, groggy and disorientated in Vancouver. We sit at a Tim Hortons, drinking awful coffee, waiting for the city to wake up. And then it is a whirlwind of activity. We buy deodorant, clothes, and then before I know it, I’m waving goodbye to Shake’nBake as he gets into a taxi for the airport. Suddenly, I am alone on a busy city street, my last connection to the trail gone.
Our biggest whirlwind adventure yet.
Posted on: Tuesday July 30, 2019 Pacific Crest Trail Travel Canoeing Stories
I finish the AT, I go back to Alaska and I get a job, intending to put my head down and work for a few years until I have the money to go adventure again. Then Shake’nBake comes to visit and everything changes. I never learned how to listen to my body on the trail, but I did learn how to listen to my heart. It’s no secret that I fell in love on the PCT, not just with the wilderness and the mountains, but also with the man walking beside me. There’s so much red tape to keep us apart though, and I find wading through it as I try and get a visa slower and more frustrating than the hardest days on a thru hike.
How I got my trail name - Fun Size
Posted on: Sunday January 24, 2021 Hiking Pacific Crest Trail Stories
Almost every thru-hiker ends up with a trail name. Trail names are little nicknames, normally based on something unique about each hiker. Do something stupid and you’ll find it quickly becomes your trail name. It took me two hundred miles to get mine, but it was worth waiting for. I’ve kept my trail name for all of my thru-hikes, and it’s become as much a part of me as my real name.
Solo Thru-Hiking Gear List
Posted on: Wednesday January 27, 2021 Pacific Crest Trail Continental Divide Trail Appalachian Trail Long Trail Gear Lists Hiking
This is my go-to thru-hiking gear. I carried a lot of this gear on the Long Trail, Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail. I did use different gear on the Pacific Crest Trail, but the gear I carry now is definitely an upgrade.
Five Year Anniversary
Posted on: Wednesday April 21, 2021 Hiking Stories Pacific Crest Trail
Five years ago today, I stood at the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail, trying to choke down tears. Getting to a place in your life where you can thru-hike can be as much work as actually completing the trail, and this hike had involved years of dreaming. It didn’t hit me until I was actually at the monument that my dream was about to become a reality. Now all I had to do was walk to Canada. Hiking seemed easy in comparison to putting my life on hold for five months.