Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Northern Terminus

And so it goes, at some point along this journey it all has to end. The last time I posted I was just entering Washington on an abnormally sunny day for September. We climbed out of Cascades Locks from the Columbia River and were instantly rewarded with views of Mt. Adams, Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Rainier. Views of these volcanoes from this distance would prove to anyone how clear and beautiful the weather was. At this point on the trail, I had no idea this beautiful weather would fortunately continue through most of Washington.

Often when PCT thru hikers reach Washington, they have mailed themselves extra rain protection, warm weather for the threat of snow in the north Cascades, and are mentally preparing themselves to spend days in nonstop rain. Well just to brag again that this was the perfect year to hike the trail, we didn't have to deal with any of that. 2012 on the PCT has been the most enjoyable year comparable to the previous two especially because of it's wonderful weather. I was gifted with actually seeing Washington, not running through to escape the rain. If you have never traveled to Washington please do. It proved to be the most beautiful state along the trail.

If you are ever looking for the perfect 80 mile backpacking trip, you should hike from Trout Lake to Whites Pass. I had been told by past thru hikers that the Goat Rocks Wilderness was one of their favorite places on the trail and of course I would have to agree. From Trout Lake you follow the trail along the base of Mt. Adams on it's western side and continue into a lava field with a beautiful spring. As you drop back down to 4,000 feet, you climb back up into the Goat Rocks Wilderness which is arguably more beautiful than the High Sierra. As you climb you cross over two passes with 360 views of Mt. Adams, Mt Saint Helens and Mt. Rainier. There are waterfalls, goats (which I sadly did not see any), and glaciers. It is absolutely beautiful!!!

We had a few days of weather leaving Snowqualamie Pass about halfway through Washington consisting of beautiful big flakes of snow, sleet and rain. If we didn't experience some weather, I would have been disappointed. Our 'weather' day was filled with laughs though. Honey Bear and I decided to cover ourselves in trash bags because we were carrying them for some sort of rain protection. Although I had a rain jacket on and a pack liner, the wind attractively blew my grey trash bag from side to side as I walked every mile. We passed a few day hikers in the morning, and a friend of ours hiking half a day or less behind us ran into the same day hikers. These day hikers proceeded to tell her that she looked way more prepared than these other thru hikers she saw earlier. She told our friend, "You look like you know what you are doing and are going to make it; I'm not so sure about those other girls in the trash bags." This made me smile and laugh when I heard it. Don't judge a book by it's cover, or a hiker by its trash bag! We rocked the trash bag for one day only, and it filled our day with laughter.

The Love Train reunited in Washington and completed the trail together on September 21st. The evening before was most emotional for me. I decided to hang back and walk alone over the last pass of the trail, Woody Pass. As I looked north tears filled my eyes because I knew the mountains I was looking at were in Canada. I was overwhelmed with emotions of pride but was really sad realizing that there is an end to this trip. When I crawled into my sleeping bag that night, it was strange to believe I wouldn't be sleeping in my tent anymore. My routine of packing my bag, cooking on a single burner backpacking stove, and walking for days on end was over. The beautiful thing about knowing it was over was that I knew I had made it. I had reached my goal, Canada.

The Love Train at the Northern Terminus of the PCT
I am so proud of all the thru hikers that made it to Canada this year. This was a record year by far for persons to complete the trail. Journeys like these answer questions that you didn't think to ask in the beginning. This was a wonderful experience that I would recommend to anyone.

This journey has been an amazing experience, especially since Honey Bear and I started and finished together. To have a friend and support throughout the entire trail with me every day has been an experience of a lifetime. You learn a lot about a person walking with them every day. She is off to grad school and I could not be more proud of her!

Thank you so much for supporting me on this adventure and if you ever wish to hike the trail, please contact me with questions. I cannot thank my family, friends new and old, and even complete strangers that supported me along the way. I will surely pay it forward.

With love,

I made it!
More photos to come with Honey Bear and others!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

20 Days of Oregon

Wow time has flown by and so has Oregon. I am sitting on the Oregon/Washington border next to the beautiful Columbia River, preparing myself to enter the last state on the Pacific Crest Trail. We are approaching the last three weeks of are trek north and should be finished with the trail around September 22nd. It's hitting me that there actually is an end to this voyage. We've dedicated so much time each and every day chipping away at this goal. This really has shown me what a person can accomplish if they dedicate whole-heartedly to something. 

So you might ask, "How was your first time in Oregon? Was it everything you expected it to be?" Everything and more. Oregon in a nutshell: Crater Lake, Sisters Wilderness, and Mt. Hood. If you have never been to these places, please put them on your to see list that I am sure is already dozens of lines long. Absolutely stunning!

Spud, Honey Bear and I walked into Mazama Village, the few stores just south of Crater Lake, on August 11th with enough time to fill our bellies and find a campsite with the rest of the Love Train. We hiked 36 miles to get to the restaurant before it closed at 8 pm which was our longest day on trail so far. It felt rewarding to make it there, yet I didn't realize how rewarding the view of Crater Lake would be the following morning. From Mazama Village you have to walk about five miles uphill to the rim of the lake and as we approached the rim, tears filled my eyes. I was overwhelmed by how beautiful the lake was and the fact that I had just walked there to see it. For the first time I felt like I deserved to see such a breath-taking place. We had worked so hard and the reward was a view far more beautiful than I had imagined. We spent the afternoon hiking around the rim following the PCT for six miles as it hugged the edge of the lake. Deciding that watching the sunset and sunrise at Crater Lake was an experience we didn't want to miss, we set up camp on the edge of the rim and fell asleep to the Perseid meteor shower above.

Just as breath-taking as Crater Lake was the Sisters Wilderness. The Three Sisters, three volcanoes named the South, Middle and North, distracted me with their glaciers, lupin filled fields at their bases, and lava fields. At one point on the trail we were surrounded by miles of dried lava that were difficult to walk on. Being from the east coast, this was a new sight for me. The terrain varied drastically and excitingly through this wilderness.

From the Sisters Wilderness we were able to get views of Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood from the distance. There was a haze in the air though as we made our way north. Wildfires had spread over thousands of acres west of Mt. Jefferson. Fortunately we missed all of the wildfires that are occurring in northern California and southern Oregon now but this fire had closed a twenty mile section of trail just north of us. When this happens though, the PCTA creates a detour around the fire for hikers which more often then not, requires you to walk on roads around the fire. I am extremely happy to be passed all of this and to be back on the trail.

Between the fire detour and Mt. Hood we had some visitors out on trail! Honey Bear's dad, Henry and younger brother, Chris ventured out into the backcountry with us to experience: True Life - I am a dirty PCT Hiker. It was so much fun playing games, watching Chris perform magic tricks (although it was a one time show), and sleeping in since we decided to slow down our pace. One morning I woke up from the sun hitting my tent, which rarely happens because we are up before or just as the sun rises, and heard Henry and Honey Bear talking near Timothy Lake where were camped. They were relaxing, enjoying some hot morning coffee and were enjoying catching up on life. It was absolutely beautiful watching Henry interact with his family. He is such a loving, supportive father to both of his children. We had a great time hiking with them and I would LOVE to see both of them thru hike in the future.

A day after we parted ways with Henry and Chris, we began salivating because we knew the Timberline Lodge buffet was just a measly 10 miles away. The Love Train cruised into the lodge at the base of Mt. Hood as the buffet opened at 7:30 in the morning. My breakfast included: a huge Belgium waffle with fixings, two strawberry pancakes, a huge helping of eggs, a croissant, coffee, grapes, pineapple, cheese, home fries and cherries. Of course two hours later after the buffet, we all went to the Blue Ox, another restaurant inside the lodge, and ordered pizza for lunch. I have no idea how my appetite is going to diminish when I am finished...

So here we are! Washington here we come! Canada is in sight but we have 500 miles of trail left to go. I cannot wait for the Goat Rocks Wilderness area in Washington and to set my eyes on Mt. Rainier.

Love to all,

By the way, I cannot be more thankful for all the love and support I have felt on this trip so far. I feel like I am apart of a loving and caring community on the trail but feel just as much love and support from my friends and family all over. Thank you again for all of your encouragement! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Welcome to Oregon

Etna, the last town I posted in, might be the best kept secret in California. The locals loved bragging about how adorable their quaint downtown was, including an old fasion soda shoppe with pharmacy on the corner. For a town of its size, it had the best food and homemade pies at every restaurant. And don't let me get started about the brewery! Of course, I was told not to post about it because it is the best kept secret town in California.

The Love Train started in Etna. The Love Train you may wonder is a group of PCT hikers, about 15 of us, that hopped and piled in the back of a truck in Etna, packs and all, and started back out on the trail at the same time. It has been rare to see this many people bottlenecked in the same area on trail this far north but fate brought us together, and oh ya, some planning of the best backcountry meal I've ever seen!

We all met up earlier in the morning to discuss this smorgasbord of food we were about to carry out to make an extravagent backcountry meal. Hours later, dumping a truck load of relatively clean hikers off at the trail head with packs pushing weights that felt like we were back in the Sierras, we hiked in 11 miles and built a fire. As we all filtered into camp the food began exploding out of our packs. I had a five pound bag of potatoes, Wompus carried biscuits and veggies, Hallmark and Yankee Son had bananas, chocolate, and marshmellows for banana boats, and others had sausages, onions, garlic, and butter. The best truely of all was miss Honey Bear. She walked in and took 10 pounds out of her pack - ten pounds of wine. We packed in a huge bag of wine and decided to celebrate by passing it around in our 15 person circle and drinking directly from the large bag that quickly loss weight with every sip. After a few hours of preparation and cooking on the fire, I had one of the most delicious and anticipated meals in my bowl which rapidly went directly to my stomach. Such an amazing night.

California is just shy of 1,700 miles long via the PCT. It is by far the longest section of the trail and reaching Oregon is a huge, I mean HUGE milestone. The Love Train was still rolling along together before the boarder and the night before we knew we would hit Oregon, we couldn't stop talking about it! Spud and Honey Bear are both from Oregon and have been anticipating 'making it back home' the last three and a half months. Spud, Scarecrow and a few others left camp earlier than I did that morning so I knew they would hit the boarder just before I did. The trail meandered around a lot and out of no where I heard a bunch of yelling and cheering. I knew they had made it and I was soooo close! I hit the last switchback in California and then 200 feet in front of me was 11 other hikers, most in the Love Train, laughing, hugging and cheering me in, greeting me to my first time in Oregon! We hung out at the boarder for almost an hour. Tons of photos were taken and bags of candy was passed around. It seemed like everyone had packed in the large sized bag of m&m's, skittles or starbursts to share. There was a trail register and someone had written a note that said, "Trail Magic 2 miles ahead!" We decided to take off because we figured we could continue our celebration and enjoy some tasty treats from them. I put on my pack and followed 7 others with Honey Bear right in front of me. About .2 miles later Honey Bear looked behind and said, "Oh, Adriana!" and there up the trail, not 2 miles but .2 miles was a huge group of people with party hats, food, and best of all Ryan. Ryan had driven from Colorado after his job directly up to the boarder of Oregon and California to suprise me! I stopped dead in my tracks, mouth gaping like a goon as he approached. It was amazing to see him especially since I thought I wouldn't until after I had completed the trail. Definitely, by far, one of the best days on trail.

The first town in Oregon is called Ashland, which is known for it's Shakespearean theatre and lithium water fountains. We took a day and a half off there to celebrate some more, spend time with Spud's family and Ryan, resupply, and relax. It was a really enjoyable stop along the trail and at some points, like when we saw a show at the theatre, I felt like I wasn't even hiking anymore. Spud's family treated us to so many meals and were graciously hospitable. Having my best friend around in Ashland too really recharged my energy to keep pushing on to Canada. I feel so special to have such supportive and loving people in my life.

Next stop, Crater Lake and venturing through new terrain I've never seen! Oregon... I can't wait to see you!

Love and miss you all,

The Love Train

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

So much to Celebrate!

Two days ago after lunch, stuffed with sharp cheese, an english muffin, almonds and oreos, I was walking along the trail just behind Spud and looked ahead across the ridge to see twenty goats ranging in all sizes following each other to a grassy hillside where they stopped to graze. I asked Spud if he saw the goats and he said, "Do you see the smile on my face!?" Spud loves goats. He wants to own a goat someday and name her Louise. He also wants to own a cheese store and make his own goat cheese from Louise. The store will be named "Cheese Louise". Pretty clever. Nonetheless, it was so funny hanging out with goats on trail, especially since we found out one of the goats was named Osama and of course it had a long beard.

We reached the halfway point of the Pacific Crest Trail about 250 miles ago and celebrated by packing in a bottle of champagne to pop when we crossed into the 'closer to Canada than Mexico' section. It feels great to have walked this far but know that we have so much more to look forward to!

                                                        Burney Falls near the halfway point

Just after the halfway point is a 'hiker hotspot' called Drakesbad Ranch. It is a small resort similar to what you would find in Dirty Dancing (at least thats what I thought) in the middle of the woods. Just before arriving there we saw the hottest hot spring in the United States, Boiling Hotsprings, along with the Terminal Geyser which was an amazing site. I have never lived or visited areas with volcanic activity so this was a new and exciting experience for me. Drakesbad Ranch knows the way to a hikers heart. Showers, hot springs, discounted buffets and free laundry are all we could ever ask for. Such an amazing stop along the trail! Plus, although they might not want to admit it, Spud and Histo decided to wear Honey Bear and my dresses the day we walked into the resort. Daily challenge : "Dresses to Drakesbad!" Locals gave us interesting stares but those boys rocked their dressed with style.

Presently we are in Etna, California about 5 days south of the Oregon/California boarder. I am so excited to reach the Oregon boarder and walk through a state I have yet to visit previously. Etna is a cute, small town with the most amazing milkshakes. I have to say that the four of us hiking together seriously talk about milkshakes everyday. We often make up a new song as we are about to hitch or hike into a new town to resupply; for example we visited Castella last town stop and it was... " We are getting cereal in Castella, ella ella ey ey ey... cereal in Castella", of course to Rhianna the best singer in the world. (joking).

Life as a thru hiker is very simple. For the first time in a long time I have not felt anxiety or stress in my life. I believe a big part of it has to do with the constant interaction I have with nature. If you have not read Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. I highly recommend it if you are interested in this topic. My hiking partner Honey Bear is going back to grad school in the fall just after we finish the trail to study public health and focus her studies on children's health and their lack or involvement with the outdoors. I am so proud of her for going back to school and studying such an important issue that surrounds every generation in society today.

I understand this post is all over the place with focus and content but there are so many random things that happen in my daily life that I just needed to share a small amount! Oregon here we come and will finally get back into the Cascades!

Love and miss you all,

                                                         Sisters together in Tahoe!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day of Silence

Three days ago Spud, Histo, Honey Bear and I (the crew I have been hiking with for the past week and hopefully for a long time to come), decided just out of Sierra City to make the next day interesting. We had chosen to challenge ourselves by spending the day completely silent, to not speak to a single person on trail, to give us a chance to reflect in our own minds. As the day was coming to an end, we made camp in a beautiful spot above a large cliff face, watched the sunset and discussed our plan for the next day since we wouldn't be able to talk about water sources and a desired ending point. Since we figured we wouldn't be sitting around distracting ourselves with conversations, we could handle doing a higher mileage day too. To challenge ourselves mentally and physically, we would hike 32 miles to the middle fork of the Feather River completely silent.

I looked around as we were all cowboy camping the night before our big day and each of us were engrossed with writing in our journals. I was excited for the challenge, interested in where my mind would take me, and looking forward to catching up verbally with everyone the next day. As darkness filled the sky we all said goodnight and "I look forward to talking to you in two days!"

The next morning we woke up as usual around 5:30-6ish and quickly picked up our things since we had many miles to move through. I made eye contact with Spud and Honey Bear, smiled, and that was about the extent of any interaction we all had all morning. We hiked along until the first water source where we all knew we had to fill up a few liters, of course I filled five since it was a dry stretch, exchanged glances and head nods, and continued. By lunch we had already gone 15 miles. We were sitting in a shaded spot just after a beautiful ridge line that gave us a spectacular view of the foothills of the Cascades. A day hiker walked passed us sitting together and said, "Great spot for lunch guys!" and we all smiled a nodded our heads. For some reason the day before I hadn't imagined running into anyone else on trail since the past few days we had only seen one or two PCT thru-hikers. Since we hit the Sierras the 'pack' has spread out enormously which definitely gives the trail a more peaceful feeling. Sadly, we were wrong about not seeing anyone...

Seems pretty simple? Well, I thought the hardest part of the day would be analyzing thoughts in my head. Oh no no. Completely the opposite. As the day continued we found ourselves in more and more awkward situations. Just as we were about to cross a highway we see an RV sitting on the side of the road with half a dozen lawn chairs in front and many friendly, welcoming smiles. It was wonderful -trail magic! But wait, we couldn't actually talk to them. The four of us looked at each other, smiled and laughed. We hiked up to them and wrote down an explanation as to why we would be so boring in their presence. Spud earlier in the day had written a note saying, "Three of my friends and I have decided to hike today in silence. Please respect our decision and we look forward to talking to you tomorrow! Thank you." which he had shown to a few thru-hikers earlier in the day. Fortunately these thru-hikers had also told the trail angels about us and already 'expected' us. We sat around, ate grilled cheese, cookies and drank sodas of course silently. The Beatles played in the background as a few other thru-hikers decided to leave. Three Bears, a thru-hiker, yelled to the people leaving, "NO, don't leave, I won't have anyone to talk to!" Throughout the endless hospitality these trail angels provided us, I on many occasions wanted to share my gratitude with them. We awkwardly wrote thank you notes, hugged them goodbye and smiled and waved when we decided to continue down trial. 17 miles to go.

It was around 2:30 when we left the trail magic and decided to pick up our pace with that unexpected stop. From then on we separated on trail, walking our personal comfortable paces and decided we'd meet up at the same water source down trail for dinner. I was hiking just in front of Spud during this stretch of trail and picked up one of the largest sugar pine cones I had ever seen in my life! It was longer than the bottom half of my leg. I showed it to Spud and he replied, "It's HUGE!" Just at that moment, realizing that he spoke for the first time all day, he threw down his trekking poles and fell to his knees, arms raised above his head and mouthed, "No!" Absolutely hilarious reaction to the situation. I laughed out loud for a good minute and we communicated non verbally that we would keep this secret between us.

After another quiet meal, we finished dinner and descended 3,000 feet to the Feather River as the sun started to set. I was so excited and surprised by how beautiful it was! We all jumped in the river and laid on the hot rocks that had been heated all day by the sun. This was an perfect ending to a 32 mile silent and awkward day on the PCT.

The next morning we woke up, looked at each other and smiled. I think at first it was hard to move our mouths to make words. Then once we started talking over breakfast we couldn't stop! Even though we were all present with each other the day before and had all been through the same terrain and trail magic, we had so much to share. We laughed and stayed in our sleeping bags til 9 am, went swimming in the river for another hour, then by ten decided it was finally time to start hiking again.

As we enter northern California the miles are going to fly on by. Thru-hikers often move a lot quicker because we are halfway through the trail, have the Sierras with large elevation change behind us, and have flatter terrain to move through ahead. Big days like these will become more consistent yet this one was unique. To spend a day in silence really allows you to reflect and analyze what you've been experiencing so far on the trail. I thought a lot about moving to Berkley in the fall, who I am as a learner and educator, and how I can be a more effective teacher. I also realized how ADD I am on the trail. Every time I wanted to hike and really dig deep into a thought I was distracted by a beautiful wild flower or the color of the lichen on the trees. Life couldn't be better. I am curious once in Berkley this fall to try this experience once again in the other world. To spend a day in silence out grocery shopping,  making dinner at home and interacting in my every day routine would be interesting. If you try this, tell me about it because I would be very excited to hear about your experience!

So here I am, in northern California about to hit the Cascades and enter the land of many volcanoes. I have never been above Tahoe so this is all new territory for me. So excited for the halfway point in a few days and soon enough we'll be viewing Mt. Shasta!

I need to learn how to post pictures on this blog (they're definitely more interesting with photos...). Soon to come!

Get outside and challenge yourself,
Much love,

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Love for a Sleeping Bag

So can I openly and honestly admit that I am in love with my sleeping bag. I have a zero degree Mountain Hardware Phantom bag that hugs around my body each and every night as I crawl into my tent. Every day I look forward to taking it out of it's tiny stuff sack and laying down to reflect upon the long day that had just passed. Most thru-hikers treasure every piece of gear they have on their back because if they didn't, they would not be carrying it thousands of miles. In the Sierras many nights were very cold, but that sleeping bag being excessively warm and much bigger than most other thru-hikers bags was my best friend.

Honey Bear and I purposely only walked 16 miles a day through the John Muir Trail section of the trail. Because of the low snow year, we were not bogged down by huge river fords or long snow field, postholing sections so we were able to walk at a consistent pace. Each day we would take a long siesta during the day, go swimming, and make time some evenings for fishing. Just before Seldon Pass, Honey Bear and I were really hungry because we had not planned enough food for that section and made it a point to fish for some extra food for dinner. We were one day from Vermillion Valley Resort, a resupply point just a ferry ride across Edison Lake to get more food, and had one packet of instant mashed potatoes, a few almonds and cough drops to supplement the calories we needed for 20 miles. We stopped just before the pass to eat the 'last supper' and connected floss, a hook, and some power bait to the ends of our trekking poles. Granted the floss on our trekking poles was 10 feet long and there was no reel, we felt like real fisherman. I sat on the edge of the lake and watched as some large rainbow trout swam past my bait. My stomach growled but I was really enjoying sitting, relaxing and listening to my heart rate accelerate when a fish came close to my line. It was one of the first times in my adulthood I had gone finishing. I honestly dreaded the part after you caught the fish - killing it. Each time a fish came close to my line, I actually was saying in my mind, "No! Save yourself and swim the other way!" I loved the challenge though since I didn't feel completely comfortable in that situation.

About 30 minutes after we started fishing, a foot long rainbow trout finally swallowed my bait. I think I was just as surprised as it was when I started pulling my floss back into shore. I yelled out of excitement and nervousness for Honey Bear to come over and help me out. We stunned the fish and gut its gills quickly. Of course I took a victory 'first catch in the Sierras' photo and proceeded to clean the fish after. We fillet it and cooked it in olive oil and garlic with our instant mashed potatoes. Five star eatin' I must say!

We had many wonderful adventures and views crossing over every pass in the High Sierra. The mountains have slowly become more rounded and green as we are entering northern California. Goodbye granite spires and hello big volcanoes! Truckee is our next stop along the trail and we will be making our way to the halfway point very soon. So much to look forward to as we enter the section that most hikers say you cruise right through and accomplish big miles in a day.

I posted our estimated dates for stops in the blog previously if you would like to mail anything out. Thank you so much for following and more stories about the sierras and more will soon come!

Much love,

Friday, July 6, 2012

Northern California Mail Stops

ETA: July 15th
Mile 1423.6 - Burney Falls State Park
Please address in the following way:
(Hiker Name)
c/o Burney Park Camp Store
McArthur Burney Falls State Park
24900 State Highway 89
Burney, CA 96013

ETA: July 20th
Mile 1606.3 - 
General Delivery 
Etna, CA 96027
ETA: July 25th
Please address in the following way:
(Hiker Name)
General Delivery
Selad Valley, CA 96086

ETA: August 1st
Mile 1726.6 - Ashland, Oregon (97520); General Delivery

ETA: August 5th
Mile 1830.4 - Crater Lake Mazama Village
Address in following way:
(Hiker Name)
c/o Fish Lake Resort
State Hwy 140, Mile Marker 30
Medford, OR 97604

East Face of Mt. Whitney

Four days before Honey Bear and I left Tom's place in Kennedy Meadows, our last resupply before our first steps into the Sierras, climbing Mt. Whitney and going over Forester Pass, we had filled our packs with some new gear: a bear canister that somehow had to fit eight days of food and extra layers to keep us warm at elevations higher than 14,000 feet. Fortunately we were able to send our micro spikes and ice axes home because of the lack of snow this year. Even though we didn't have some gear, my pack weighed 42 pounds leaving Kennedy Meadows. Some people pushing 13 days straight without a food drop in the Sierras had packs that weighed over 55 pounds. I couldn't even imagine! We left mile 702 away from great beer, entertainment, and I even ran into Matt DiCarlo (from High Trails if you know him!!), to venture into the big mountains I had been waiting for.

We didn't have any service, but I was able to call Ryan from a landline in a bathroom randomly in the trailer we were getting internet in. It was wonderful to catch up briefly through the static of the bad connection and confirm that we were still on for meeting at the base of the East Face four days later. In todays society where we can call someone and have instant connection via cell phone to confirm locations, it was strange saying, "Well, I will see you down there in four days; hope you're there and this works!" I planned on brining a tent and sleeping bag for us to share, basic things like my headlamp, toothbrush and layers, but had very minimal food because I was banking on meeting Ryan with the food, rock climbing gear, and bear canister. We knew that the hard part of this adventure would be actually meeting up and not the climb.

June 13th, Spud, Honey Bear and I set out to hike up Mt. Whiney from Crabtree Meadow on the backside or west side of the mountain on the PCT. We left around 7 am and were hoping to get the the summit 3.5 to 4 hours later. It was nice hiking with lighter packs and I was able to leave a lot of my gear in Honey Bear's tent at the base of the hike. Spud and Honey Bear would go back down to Crabtree that night but I was hiking down the Mountaineers Route solo to meet Ryan. We hiked up to the summit relatively efficiently, but I was moving slow, and actually met up with some PCT "celebrities" I had seen in the National Geographic documentary about the PCT prior to starting. We reached the summit and took a ton of photos around 11 am and Honey Bear saw a group of three walking around the crowd of people that had helmets on. She pointed them out to me and I went over to ask what technical route they were descending. They were also going down the mountaineers route and I could go with them!

I split ways from Honey Bear and Spud at 12:30 pm and two guys and a girl from Chico State and I scrambled down the route. It was free of snow but very steep considering the loose, rocky terrain. We started out by down climbing through some class 4 boulders and then switched down through a section called the notch that leads you directly to Iceburg Lake where I would be camping with Ryan. We were moving fast and I was was overwhelmed with emotions. About two-thirds of the way down I hear someone call out, "Adri!?" and there Ryan was standing at the base of the route in the middle the boulder field. He had arrived from the Whitney Portal twenty minutes before I finished descending. I raised my arms and shouted as loud as I could so excited that our plan had worked flawlessly. The three people behind me knew that I was meeting my boyfriend at the base of the climb and knew I hadn't seen him in a while so they cheered when they saw us hug. (Ya, it kind of felt cute and like a movie...)

The first time we were at this same spot at Iceburg Lake, it was 5 am and we were shivering waiting for the sun to come up. We had hiked in to the East Buttress starting at 1 am, but this time we were able to hang out, sleep the whole night and wake up with the sun to start the East Face. We did just that and geared up after scrambling up about 100 feet on boulders to reach the base of the climb the next morning of the 14th. We confirmed our location with pictures Ryan had printed out and knew we were in the right spot to start the route. I led the first pitch and we switch leads there on out. The route was 5.5 and some pitches were Class 4. We climbed for a total of 9 hours and 15 pitches til we reached the summit. Clouds had filled the sky and the summit only had two other people on it when we arrived. Two John Muir Trail hikers had just finished and were celebrating on the summit. The climb was amazing, the views from any point on Mt. Whitney are always incredible, and there always seem to be moments on that mountain where I feel completely at peace but also moments where I am challenged mentally and physically.

It was hard leaving the summit and saying goodbye knowing that I wouldn't be seeing Ryan for three months until I finished the trail, but this adventure was an amazing excuse to get to spend some time together. We split ways, Ryan descending the Mountaineers Route and I descending down to Crabtree Meadow, around 5 pm and we both made it back down to our separate sides of the mountain safely. I remember thinking as I was walking passed Guitar Lake how lucky I am and how much I have to look forward to on this trail. The Sierras had just begun!!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Adios Desert!

As any PCT thru hiker would know, reaching mile 702 means time in Kennedy Meadows, packages full of food that have been prepared and sent weeks ago, stuffing bear canisters full of food, and weighing your pack crossing your fingers that it doesn't push a weight greater than the person weighing theirs before you. Thru hikers like myself gear up and prepare to bring on the Sierras! Goodbye desert, hello big mountains. In two days I'll be consistently around 10,000 feet or greater hiking over passes like Cottonwood and Forester praying that there isn't a ton of snow. Because of the lack of snowfall this past winter, we have all been repackaging our microspikes for our feet and ice axes. It's bittersweet knowing that I am not going to have to post hole for miles in the Sierras but the 'epicness' and experience navigating without a defined trail through snow was something I was looking forward to. Honey Bear and I plan on going slower through the Sierras so we can spend most of our time relaxing along alpine lakes, swimming as much as possible and I know I will definitely be eyeing up potential climbing spots for the future.

Right now we are at Tom's place, a trail angel, in a small mountain town called Kennedy Meadows. The trail is .7 miles from the 'downtown' which is composed of one General Store that fortunately takes packages for hikers. Tom has a bunch of thrift store dresses and hawaiian shirts for hikers to wear while we are doing our laundry. Yesterday was definitely a scene out on the porch of the General Store with 25 hikers, all clean but dressed like they belonged on Little House on the Prairie or were prepped to attend a Jimmy Buffet concert. At one point I told everyone that I felt like I was on a cruise ship as we were all drinking Miller High Life and laughing with the southern Sierra wind in our hair. It feels great to have reached this milestone on the trail.

So the other day, about mile 620 ish, my mouth dropped to the sight of a cloud in a sky. WHAT, a cloud!? There aren't any clouds in southern California. Big cumulus nimbus clouds rolled in around 3 pm and continued to cover the typical blue sky into the evening. Honey Bear and I were still about ten miles from where we wanted to make camp and didn't have many options before the cache we were hoping to reach by dinner time. We kept pushing hoping we would make it to Bird Springs before the rain started dumping on us. Winds were pushing around on the ridge at 50-60 mph which made the hike exciting. I absolutely love the wind and kept laughing at myself walking like a drunk, stumbling over with each step. We finally made it to the road around 7 pm and set up camp behind a joshua tree. This tiny desert tree offered very little wind protection and we paid for it the rest of the night. Around midnight I woke up and could feel grit in my teeth and sand all over my face. I rubbed my face and it felt like a back country exfoliating rub.

We woke up the next morning and I quickly packed up my stuff because the wind was still consistent and gust were still up in the 60 mph range. I took off without Honey Bear and hiked up about 2000 feet and continue for about 11 miles without her. It was nice hiking by myself while passing other friends on the trail like Weebee, Pounce, Pnut and Spork. I only had 2 liters of water for the entire day because the cache where we camped was empty but fortunately it was a cool day. I passed one spring that was 'nasty' according to the water report and decided to skip it. Just a mile past the spring I was briskly moving along listening to a playlist Ryan had made me and met a black bear on the trail. The bear took off the moment I yelled at him but I decided to sit on the trail to wait for Spork who I knew was a few minutes behind me. It was definitely exciting having my first bear experience! I decided to walk with Spork for the next few miles just to be safe.

Weather lately has been unpredictable which is expected as we enter the Sierras. Spirits are still sky high and through the roof. Mind, body and soul feel great and  I cannot wait for Mt. Whitney. My birthday is in four days and we are going to be summitting Mt. Whitney the day after. The evening we hike up, I am going to hike down to meet Ryan and climb the East Face the next day. CANNOT WAIT! In the Sierras contact via phone and internet will be sporadic and unpredictable but I still want to send my love to you all.

Much love,

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sing it Proclaimers!

So that tune released in the year I was born, 1988, now relates to Honey Bear and I. We have walked 500 miles! As of right now we are in Tehachapi, CA resupplying our food for the next seven days to get us up to Kennedy Meadows. Kennedy Meadows is the located at 6,000 feet at the base of the Sierras. Man have I been waiting for this!!! Those big granite spires and desolate wilderness have been calling my name since the day we started.

Sometime around my birthday in the middle of June I am meeting up with Ryan to rock climb the East Face of Mt. Whitney. As a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker, most take the time to go the 18 miles side trip up to summit Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the lower 48 states. We will be going up Mt. Whitney from the west side, which I have never done before, most likely on my birthday this year! I am going to hike down the Moutaineers Route to meet Ryan at the base of the East Face and we will rock climb up and summit again the next day. From there on out the Sierras are all ours. Alpine lakes, 13,000 foot passes, unexpected weather and millions of photo opportunities arise. So much to look forward to!

Two days ago, Honey Bear and I crossed the Mojave desert and left a small, bizzare, western place called the Hikertown Hostel in the evening after dinner to beat the heat of the desert. We night hiked under the open star filled sky and the waning gibbous until about 2 am with three friends: Spud, Wooley and Darkness. Just as the sun dipped down below the horizon and we were walking ontop of the Los Angelus Aqueduct, Honey Bear and I cracked open glow sticks and each of us attached them to out trekking poles to dance around with. We had been carrying these glow sticks from Big Bear for about 250-300 miles and were excited to finally use them. Wind turbines and large gusts of wind entertained our senses in the dark as we hiked. Of course with a 18 mile stretch without water, I carried way WAY to much water. I brought 5 liters and honestly drank one... that's why I am Oasis.

This last stretch between towns has included three stops at three different Trail Angel houses. It really made this section through the desert very enjoyable. Donna Saufley opens her home near Agua Dulce to hikers and had cots, a kitchen, post office and laundry facilities all available for hikers. She even has extra clothes and bikes for hikers to use while they are doing laundry and want to ride into down for food. The Andersons are known for their party house 24 miles from the Saufleys and definitely lived up to their name. These amazing trail angels spoil us with great food, entertainment and really show us love and care like a parent while on the trail.

So here's to you mom... today Honey Bear and I were sitting in a cute diner in Tehachapi and walked in with dirt on our clothes, most likely that 'thru-hiker' stench, and our packs to enjoy a good breakfast. Of course our eyes are bigger their our stomaches while ordering and we made a small scene by unloading maps and copies amounts of random crap on the table while we were trying to get organized that we caught the attention of a woman sitting next to us with her husband. When she was about to leave, she offered us 20 dollars because she had the impression we were homeless and needed the support. Bless her soul but of course we could not take it. We explained our situation and the face that we were hiking and chosing to be 'homeless' per se. She didn't seem to understand but it made us smile, alot. Here's to what we call 'Hiker Trash'.

Moments off of trail in town are always rewarding by filling your stomach with food you've been craving, but experiences and encounters with locals are always my favorite. All is wonderful and the trail is amazing. Cannot wait for the Sierras and to get above 10,000 feet again! Love and miss you all.

With love,

Friday, May 25, 2012

And she has been named...

Each day on the trail is so rewarding. Instead of counting days passed by date I can view miles that I have hiked, as I look out in the distance I can see mountains approaching that I will go over, and once there can look back from where I've come. I love the sense of accomplishment each and everyday. Simplicity in so many forms.

So my friend Dan joined Honey Bear and I on trail for 32 miles as we ventured to the deep creek hot springs. The second day when we had been watching dozens of some huge black flies swarming around and in a snag, we decided to sit down nearby under some cedars and the most beautiful small waterfall along the creek. Of course this meant that lunch had to be postponed until after we swam. As we were making our way to the creek Honey Bear thought it would be a fitting place for me to finally receive my trail name she had in mind. Oasis! I have been given this name for the crazy amounts of water I carry and drink. Absolutely love it! It is nice having a trail name especially since we are hiking in a different group now because we took three days off in Big Bear. While making our way to this secret oasis in Deep Creek, we were stopped by the sighting of three beavers. This was the first time Dan had seen beavers in this area even though he had been down there countless times. Honestly I can say if Honey Bear and I were there without Dan we probably would have passed by without even acknowledging the dams even being there. Dan really made us take the time to look around and appreciate the fine details while we hiked. It was wonderful having "Reverend Beav" (which we named him on the trail) and hopefully he can join us again after the summer.

There is this plant called poodle dog bush that exists in baja California and parts of southern California that germinates after a wildfire has burned an area. It has been all over the Pacific Crest Trail in many areas just before Wrightwood and a huge portion of the trail before Agua Dulce. We have been forced to take road walks that parallel the trail to avoid the bush because it causes a more severe allergic reaction to most like poison oak or ivy. The day we walked 15 miles on the road turned out to be none other than LADIES DAY! Six wonderful women: Corn Nut, Sniper, Honey Bear, Monkey, Heather and I walked with each other loving the estrogen filled conversation and interaction. Each one of those women has inspired me by the stories of adventures they have experienced or wish to accomplish in the near future. Sniper and Corn Nut traveled by kayak down to Louisiana from North Carolina then biked from Louisiana to California before starting the Pacific Crest Trail. Monkey has done the John Muir Trail with her mother Heather twice already and she is eight, yes I said eight, years old! She may be the youngest person on the trail and could be the youngest to complete such a long trail. I have been amazed by the people most on this trail thus far. The range in age is so drastic yet the commonalities of a similar goal, ambition and perseverance is amazing. 

Honey Bear and I have made it to the Saufleys, an amazing host trail angel in Agua Dulce, CA and are prepping for the Mojave! We are 200 miles south of the Sierras and my palms are sweaty thinking about those high granite spires and long wilderness that are soon to come. Until then much love to all of you. I appreciate all of you in my life and love hearing from you periodically. Call me anytime and leave a message so I know to get back to you! I have learned lately that life is short and we cannot be thankful enough for the time we have.

Those who wander are not lost. I heard this saying once that your life can be depicted by a line from point A to point B starting with birth and ending with death. Most lines are straight connecting the two, but those who wander and wonder have a huge undulating line between the two. When you stretch out that line your life is much longer than lost who go straight from point A to point B. Go wander and wonder.

Much love,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ziggy's Trail Angel Casa

The largest bowl of ice cream, two hot dogs, salad and one orange later, I am stuffed to the brim with wonderful food. About two hours ago I finally made it down the endless switchbacks descending Mt. San Jacinto to be pleasantly surprised by a cold Dr. Pepper underneath highway 10. It was a crazy sensation sitting under a bridge of a highway that runs from California to Florida relaxing with six other thru hikers sipping on cold beverages. A mile up the trail Ziggy, a trail angel, opened her house as a hostel for thru hikers. Not only are we allowed to sleep in her back yard, but she has been feeding us, offering warm foot baths and other endless accomodations. I feel so blessed to have stumbled into her life on the trail. Her home is about 2/10 of a mile from the trail in which she made homemade signs pointing us in the direction of her house. It has been endless hospitality, love and care since Honey Bear and I arrived.

Honey Bear and I reached mile 210 today! The sun was hot on our backs and water was scarce, but as we rounded then bend on one of the long switchbacks, a small pile of rocks (with one word, unless...not!) saying 200 was displayed on the ground. I yelled out in shock and Honey Bear thought something was wrong. We had a dance party and lived it up in celebration!

Tonight I am going to sleep out under the stars on a small square of carpet underneath the beautiful desert sky. With Big Bear on my mind, I am looking forward to seeing all those wonderful friends I left behind to start this journey!

So much love,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Southern Terminus to 100 Miles!

So as I lay in my tent for the sixth night in a row listening to frogs croak in a stream nearby, I have been debating how to describe my experience thus far on the pct. Incredible. Sweaty. Tired feet. Compassion. Community. These words all sum up the completion of over one hundred miles, and will.continue down the trail.
The desert wild flowers are all in bloom this time of year. With every step I take, Lena ( known as Honey Bear on the trail and I will be referring to from now on) and I pass dozens of bloomed prickly pear cacti, yuccas, western wallflowers, and other various  flowers.

There are over 500 people on this trail but depending on how quickly you hike and how many miles you want to push in a day allows you to change up the people you are hiking around. From Mt. Laguna, Honey Bear and I have been keep leep frogging, passing, or just behind the same group of hikers. We have been hiking and camping with four other thru hikers: Pit Stop, Ginger, Ring Master and Panama Red. I could go on and on about Ring Master and how much he inspires me. It is quite a humbling experience trying to keep up my pace to a 69 year old man. So many people doubt their abilities especially when us as adults reach a certain age. Why? How come we start to regress and decide we are not capable of certain things. Ring Master was talking about how excited he is to celebrate his 70th birthday on top of Mt. Whitney and how he wants to complete the Camino de Santiago in a few years. He crushes more miles some days than I do as a 23 year old. Truly age doesn't matter, passion and drive keep you motivated.

The trail creates a community and makes me feel at home. This morning I experienced my first "trail magic" ( when people bring food, drinks or any gifts to hikers on the trail). We were surprised with sandwiches, cinnamon roles, cookies, beer, soda and cliff bars. It was an amazing sugar rush that helped me bust out 12 miles before lunch. There have been countless times when I have seen random acts of kindness on the trail. We are all here to support and care for one another to try and reach a common goal.

We are cruising up to Idyllwild in a few days and my mouth is watering just thinking about some ice cream in that cute mountain town!

Next stop after Idyllwild is back home in Big Bear to visit some friendly faces and have old friends meet new friends. So much to look forward to while enjoying each and every day.

So much love,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

She Jumps

So tomorrow embarks our big journey to start the Pacific Crest Trail. It hit me when I was walking down to my house in the dark looking up at Mars in the night sky. I realized that I would be spending 99% of my evenings for the next five months under the vast darkness above. Man am I psyched!
We are headed down to Campo, California tomorrow to start at the southern terminal of the PCT. Ryan, my boyfriend, is driving Lena, my hiking partner, friend and motivator from Oregon down to the boarder of Mexico in preparation for our journey north to Canada. It's hard to grasp the span of 2,663 miles... and I don't think anyone can until they've finished. With this in mind, I have wrapped my head around and mentally prepared for the first leg,to Big Bear after two weeks and 256 miles on trail. Little victories along the way will be one form of motivation.

This weekend Lena and I will be attending the annual ADZPCTKO which is a whole lot of weird letters mixed together, but to a PCT thru-hiker, this represents the PCT Kick Off annually held each year. Pretty much the event is hosted to bring some of the most amazing, daring individuals that have either completed the PCT, are about to, or have some sort of association with the trail (whether they help out with maintenance, provide water along the way, host hikers or are just interested) together for a big celebration of the new thru-hiking season. I am excited to attend this event and meet past and present hikers.

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go. I'm standing here outside my door. I can't wait to hike the PCT... I think that's what John Denver wrote. Either way, Lena and I spent all day collecting the rest of our gear, sorting food, and crammed it all into our packs. I made a pack cover for the rain out of a trash bag also because the weather for tomorrow might require such equipment, even for southern California. I haven't weighed my bags but I am guessing my pack, with food and water, weighs about 30-35 pounds. Not ultra-light but light enough to handle and appreciate all of it's contents for their simplicity and practicality.

I am one lucky individual to have to opportunity to spend the next few months outside and only outside. So many people now a days do not have or take the time to explore in nature. Organizations like SheJumps, a non-profit organization that increase and inspire female participation in outdoor activities, help promote awareness of the importance of mental and physical health in any community. "SheJumps creates a community of ambitious and compassionate women that are willing to take the 'jump' to reach their potential and help others reach their own." While Lena and I hike 2,663 miles, we would love to achieve a goal of raising one dollar for every mile, or 2,663 dollars in total on our trek. Please take the time to consider donating a few dollars to help our cause and help women test their abilities and find confidence in themselves through finding a love for the outdoors.

Donate here at :

Keep following and pictures on trail will be soon to come! Much love for all of you. The trail beckons!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Utah Adventures

Spring break is a holiday that many cherish to take some time to rewind, relax, and reflect on life. This spring break unlike those in college and this past year at HT marks the end of my employment. Yes, that’s right, I am currently unemployed and so proud of it! This means that I am that much closer to starting the PCT. April 26th cannot come any sooner… although I still have some things to purchase and my food drops to send out so it can wait the three weeks. This spring break I really wanted to spend my time venturing in Utah. I absolutely love this state for its vast open land, tall rock and some untouched spires, and the color. Utah is such a unique state unlike anything I had ever seen before out east where I grew up. I went to Zion National Park for the first time in the fall of 2010 and fell in love. So for this break, Red Rocks, Zion, Bryce and an unexpected trip to the Mojave sand dunes filled the last 9 days along with the wonderful company of four of my friends Eben, Carolyn, Adam, Jack and my boyfriend Ryan.

After climbing at Red Rocks outside of Las Vegas, four of us ventured off to St. George, which for some reason Eben and I really enjoy this town just on the boarder of Utah and Arizona and Nevada, to find a place to camp for the night. The next day we traveled into Zion in which I was really excited to show Ryan to. He had never been there before and this is by far my favorite national park I’ve seen in the United States. From towering sandstone rock walls, to desert flora, exposed hikes, and committing canyoneering routes, this park excites me in so many ways. I have yet to climb some of the big walls in Zion but once I learn how to aid climb you will definitely see me suspended up there.

We spent three days in Zion hiking Observation Point, Angels Landing, and the Subway. The four of us met up with two of our friends Adam and Jack, which of course are the most entertaining duo you can find at High Trails. From performing camp skits, serenading random strangers and heckling animals, we filled our memories with constant laughter.

The last two days of our trip after visiting Bryce Canyon and Zion were spent at the Kelso sand dunes in the Mojave National Preserve. I would recommend checking this preserve out to anyone traveling to southern California or the Las Vegas area. Ryan and I walked out onto the 700 foot sand dunes by full moon light and were amazed by the size and unexpectedly the sound the dunes made. When the sand would slide down the side of the dune, it would make a low humming sound like a jet flying above. I had never heard anything like this before but would encourage anyone to explore this rarity themselves.

I absolutely love traveling and my past job allowed for many explorations throughout Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona and Mexico. I’ve been blessed to see places like Zion, Arches, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon, although I feel more blessed from sharing these experiences with such a variety of beautiful people in my life. Great experiences and memories really develop from whom you are with rather than where you are.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Prepping for a Dream

So I am trying out something new... writing and reflecting on an adventure about to start in one month exactly from today. In the midst of finishing up work I have been preparing to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail this year. It is amazing the plans we make, and mine are out there but at times realistic. Well welcome reality because in just a few weeks I will be putting on my pack and heading north to walk 2, 650 miles from Mexico to Canada.

Planning so far has been somewhat casual and has consisted of picking up gear here and there that I need, but the metal preparation has been the most challenging. I don't know if you can ever fully prepare and imagine what is to come as long. All that matters is if I can handle every challenge that comes my way. This hike is a dream of mine and I cannot wait for the journey.

My friend Lena and I decided last year in April that we would thru-hike the PCT together in 2012. It's comforting knowing that I have a friend with the same ambitions to complete a similar goal. We are completely independent gear wise from each other but I know that we can be dependable partners venturing north. I have never been with one person for such a long period of time, since this trip will take more or less 5 months, and it will be a whirlwind of experiences and emotions. She is a strong hiker and I cannot wait to see how our friendship will evolve.

As of right now I am in a... 'holy crap this is really happening' phase. Up until now it's been months away, 'I have plenty of time' and now it's just a few weeks away. I started packing my bag for the first time on Friday just to figure out my base weight. Many people who post on other forums like facebeook that are hiking the PCT seem to have it all dialed in. I love to plan ahead and know what is to come, but with a trip like this, I feel like there is only so much you can plan. As long as I have the gear I need, my health and the strong intrinsic drive which is absolutely overwhelming right now, I feel as though everything else will just work out.

This week is my last week of work at a place where I've taught outdoor science for the last two years. It has been an amazing home and I am sad to leave. I'll be back up in this area after three weeks of hiking, but being here as a visitor will be a crazy sensation since I've called this home for so long. It will be really hard to say goodbye to the people I work with. I have made some amazing friendships and have fallen in love here. That love and friendship will continue of course after but it does really all come down to the effort you put into it to make them continue. Because we all live this transient lifestyle and we love moving even if it means we have to say goodbye, I love knowing that I will have friends all over that I can visit again. I can't even imagine the emotions I will feel the day I leave but I can't wait to hike through here and see all their ridiculous, quarky faces again. The HT family I have is unlike any other community I have lived in before. I don't know if you could ever find more love in one area in the middle of the woods.

So here it goes, one month until I have to say goodbye to one place to prep and move every single day for five months. I am ready to get my body moving and push myself mentally, physically, and emotionally every day. I am ready to meet other like minded, or unlike minded people that have a similar goal of mine. I am ready to see new places that I have never ventured to before. I am ready to start this journey.