Monday, August 20, 2012

Flower Insanity!

Stories from the PCT

My mind is swimming with stories to share with y'all and a shortage of time of which to write.  Such is the reality of the trail.  You want to share, but it takes time and energy.  The reality is you want to put your feet up and relax!  I'm a happy, but tired girl.  I am taking and enjoying my first day off in the fantastic Trout Lake Grocery Store.

Here in Trout Lake, the people are kind and they cater to hikers.  I have a room for 3 for $25.  Laundry is free as is the computer.  They also receive hiker mail - a box which I mailed to myself is here and waiting and full of treasures like dehydrated Hummous. :)  There is a cafe on the corner, that was open at 6:00AM and full of farmers, hikers and fire fighters.  It's a 4-way stop in the middle of nowhere. And people are generous and kind.  I will have a lift back to the trail courtesy of a volunteer.

So many stories to share!  The people I have met, the places I have been. 

I have enjoyed an amazing last few days.  The scenery in the Goat Rocks Wilderness and the Mount Adams Wilderness has been out of this world.  At Goat Rocks - I enjoyed an amazing high alpine ridge walk and Mount Adams,  well - it has presence to say the least.

I also enjoyed my first random Trail Magic.  In the middle of nowhere, in a beautiful alpine place called Cispus Basin was a PCT Class of 2011 member, trail name The Staggering Norwegian.  He had a backpack full of food, just for me and all other thru-hikers.  I got fresh Clementines, cookies and Rice Crispies squares.  And a hug.  And I took some "to Go!"  Thanks Staggering Norwegian and friends, you made my day!

I haven't talked yet about the 12:00 Happy Dance.  This could take a whole blog entry it has become such fun and I have so many stories of the Happy Dance! What is the Happy Dance?  A few days in to my trip, the alarm on my watch started going off at 12:00 in the afternoon.  The alarm is not on, but I decided to leave it.  So.  My alarm chimes every day at 12:00 and I do the 12:00 Happy Dance.  It started with Angela and myself and now it continues. It also catches me by surprise every single day.  You think I would be paying attention with so little to do every day.  But alas, no. I drop whatever it is that I am doing and I do a Happy Dance.  Actually, it's a pretty energetic silly dance.  Mostly, it's been a solo dance.  But recently, I have a few participants.  Today, for instance the alarm went off while I was sitting here in the grocery store.  "It's the 12:00 Happy Dance!" I proclaimed out loud to the rough-around-the-edges middle aged lady here at the store.  She loved it, and even joined in.  Back in Cispus Basin, shortly before meeting the Staggering Norwegian I had been chatting with some local day hikers when the 12:00 Alarm went off.  "It's the Happy Dance!"  I proclaimed dropping my pack and spinning a few circles like a crazed woman.  The crowds went wild. Way back in Skykomish, the alarm went off as I was leaving town just as I was crossing the very public town bridge.  Happy Dance ensued.  Joy.  And of course, the Happy Dance has taken place in many, many beautiful places.  On top of a ridge with a view of Rainier, yesterday in a flower filled meadow beneith the shadow of Mount Adams and yes, while having a  scrub in a snow patch the other day.  Oh, Happy Dance.  You give me such Joy.

The people - oh, the people!  I'm enjoying meeting the Northbound thru-hikers of which I am seeing more and more of daily.  I have met some amazing folks of all ages.  I met an old fart from Calgary - trail name:  Not Dead Yet.  He was in his '70's.  Yesterday, I met a family hiking with their 6 year old who were flying by.  They didn't have time to chat, but she screamed over her shoulder "the kid is going to be the youngest ever to finish!".  That kid was zooming.  Go kid.  Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure of meeting Trail Bait and her mom.  I heard someone singing, and round the corner to find see this filthy girl with huge boobs, a backpack smoking a cherry flavor cigarello.  She looked to be in her early twenties.  I greeted her with "What are you singing, honey?"  When she opened her mouth, I knew she was much younger.  I met her mom moments later, who introduced herself as Blair Witch and her 15 year old daughter Trail Bait.  Mom had her trail snacks neatly stored between her immense boobs.  There are all sorts of different people on the trail and most of them are regular people doing an amazing thing!!  Hiking 2,650 miles is not an easy thing to do.  But it is an can be as enjoyable as you want to make it.  The older folks have started to appear - they where a uniform of long sleeve nylon shirt and pants, with big brimmed hats of all styles:  safari style.  Keeps the sun off and the bugs off.  But OMG, I would be hot in that uniform.  Most are happy, some are focused, the rare few are ready to be done with their hike.

I met an old fart on a ridgetop the other night.  He was skinny and old and had a lopsided gate.  I christened him the lopsisded scarecrow, he looked exhausted and it was getting late quick.  We both had made the mistake of continueing down the trail into the early evening - only to find out there was know place to camp along this rocky, steep trail.  It was rapidly turning into late evening.  "Looks like I'm not the only fool out here!"  he laughed.  "I'm going to have to get out the headlamp and do some night walking!"  We laughed at our predicament.  I went to shake his hand and introduce myself and he said, "Honey, you don't want to shake my hand right now - but I'll give you a knuckle bump!"  So, we bumped knuckles and went our separte ways.  Don't worry Mom - I made it off the mountain in the late evening light and found myself a nice spot in a meadow full of lupines.  Sorry, lupines.  I didn't mean to squash you but I was desparate.

At the Krackerbarrel Gas Station, in White Pass - I could have sat and watched people all day.  I had fried chicken for breakfast, did my laundry and watched as people came and went.  It was an amazing collection of tourists on motorbikes, RV's, local white trash and local old farts.  These good folks also accept mail for hikers and treat us like gold.  I love these kind of places and the people in th

And so it continues!  I have come a very long distance in a very short time.  My brain and my legs are tired and today, I will give them the first rest that they have had in 19 days.  My first day off.  Sweet.  It was not planned, but this place is so magical and affordable that I would be a fool to not enjoy.  I'm going to put my legs up.  Get off my feet.  I'm off to find a creek to soak my legs in, they a Huckleberry Milk Shake and a burger.  Last night, I surprised the fry cook at the Cafe by eating not one, but two burgers.  Oh yeah.  Life is good. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Washington Epic Scenery

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Location:On the PCT....

Howdy from Snoqualmie Pass!

Oh my, how Washington continues to deliver.  I bust out 75 miles in 2 and 1/2 days and it's been some of the most amazing trails and hiking that I have ever seen.  The last 30 miles of this section were out of this world.  For a girl that lives in Banff, that says a lot! 

I was questioning my decision making yesterday as I staggered out of the woods, exhausted at 8:30 last night to find myself a bed at the Summit Inn.  The best surprise was the shitty-ass trailer out front of the gas station:  it was open at 9:00 at night and the guy proceeded to pump me full of the best gourmet chicken, veggie and ginger (huge chunks) Currgy that I've ever had.  Then he poured me a couple of glasses of coconut milk and charged me a whopping $7. Oh, America!  I love everything about you, but especially your small towns and the people that live there.

My body continues to amaze me, fingers crossed it continues to do so.  I'm giving it all awful lot of abuse.  I know that there's a strong possibility of injury, but currently I wouldn't change a thing.  If I blow up tomorrow it will all be worth it.  These are some seriously hard miles!  It's one big roller coaster and this girl is love, love loving the epic climbs and monster descents.  I really, really, have to repress the urge to run on the downhills - it's a good thing the pack weight and design is keeping me grounded to a walk  I love to downhill run and fly down the mountain and trudging with a pack is distinctively less fun and downright slow.  :)  I've improved:  I can definitely pick my feet up quicker on the descent than when I first started.  Uphills, well - I love to climb and enjoy the reward when you get to the top.  And the rewards here are epic.

I'm lollygagging this morning, but computering, phone calls and life maintenance all take time.  They are enjoyable.  A large greasy breakfast, feet-up, stretching (ouch), laundry and now some computer time.  If I'm lucky I should still get a half day in on the trail.  It's a welcome break and my dawgs are killin' me.  It's a bit of a heat wave at present in Washington.  It was smokin' hot and had to be in the 90's all day.  That meant taking special care with lots of shirt and hat immersions in the creek to keep me cool, way more water and even electrolyte tablets.  I've got to take care of me!  And the wilderness is know place to be pukey and heat strokey.

Yesterday, I ran into a thru-hiker that had jumped on the trail since Lake Tahoe.  Super nice guy (they all are, depending on level of delirium they can be downright entertaining).  This guy was awesome, because he was a like-minded flower geek and told me to look out for the Carniverous Butterwort.  There's quite a few species here that I have know idea what they are and this was one of them.  It kept me amused for quite a few hours and I kept talking to myself in a British accent telling stories all about the Carniverous Butterwort.  I sound so much better educated when I speak in a British accent.  I figure Carniverous Butterwort would be a wicked good Trail Name.  I am a delicate flower!

Oh yes, PCT culture dictates that people get a Trail Name.  Mostly, it's a name that's given to you from other thru-hikers.  I'm holding out for a name. Currently, I'm still Leslie from Banff.  I reckon my name should be Southbound.  It's self explanatory!

This is going to be a quick 2 part post - photos to come from the I-Touch.

Happy Trails!  It's a 4 day jaunt through some beautiful wilderness to my next stop:  While Pass.


Friday, August 10, 2012

First Thoughts on the PCT

Good Grief I've got my work cut out for me!!
Day 1 officially blew my mind. The scenery out here in Washington is most definitely comparable to my home in Banff. It's wild, immense and yes, even a little scary in the dark woods. :)

My plan went out the window on Day 1. The idea was to start slow and ease myself into it. But Angela and I started hiking and we kind of hike fast...

Next thing you know we've gone 30 Miles. Damn!! So much for taking it easy. We tagged the Canadian border and I started my hike Southbound on August 1st.

First thoughts...

It's been lot of years since I've been backpacking. It's hard work and it hurts a lot in the beginning. Feet are getting used to 12 hour days, neck, shoulders, hips. The smell, oh the stink!! Yes, I sweat all day, my running shoes are already rank, we call it The Funk. Living in the dirt is well, dirty. But the scenery!!! Oh my. This is some wild, big and crazy beautiful corner of America. I had no idea.

Saw the first Northbound Thru-hikers on Day 3, My first bear on the same day and had a whirlwind visit to Stehekin.

There's a lot of scrubbing my Unmentionable Bits with snow to keep clean. Fortunately, I haven't been busted by any other random hikers yet!!

I've lost shit. Meh. Didn't need it anyways. I call it lightening my load. My dad used to say they I'd lose me head if it wasn't screwed on. But, he also used to say that I have a piano tied to my ass!!

Angela has been great company. While standing on a very small patch of dirt, on a very snowy and foggy Red's Pass we sang a stirring rendition of Kenny and Dolly's Islands in the Stream. She also averts her gaze when I scrub my Unmentionable Bits with snow. :)

There's plenty of good people around. OK-we did go a day and a half without seeing Anyone. But, when we did they were good people's!! I successfully borrowed 2 pairs of Microspikes from random strangers to get us safely over a snowy pass. See? Good People's. They are getting their spikes and a wee Prezzie in the mail.

Speaking of Good Peeps my Washington running buddies Eric and Michelle brought me treats and I got a quick visit here in Skykomish. They also gave Angela a ride back to civilisation after 8 fun filled days on the trail. What a great way to start the trip!! Now, it's most me heading out by my lonesome tomorrow. Excited. Just a little bit scared. But, ready for the adventure!!
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Location:Middle of Nowhere in a Tent