retirement and my new hiking partner

Well I have finally reached the point where I am officially retired, although my mom would rather I say I am on sabbatical. I reminded her that that means I have something to go back to. While I do feel that my former place of employment would welcome me back, I think after 5 years it is time to move on and find something new.

I had a wonderful last week at the hut. It included: 40 boy scouts doing half naked planks all over my kitchen, epic veggie pizza with Globug and Tin, amazing sunsets, lots of cards (Monoploy Deal, Cribbage, and Dutch Blitz), as well as sub zero temperatures overnight, one helicopter supply drop, and my dear friend Sarah joining me for my last night. She even spoiled me with a beautiful pair of White Mountain earrings and a card. The card had a wonderful quote which reads:

“Keep walking though there’s no place to get to. Let the beauty we love be what we do.” -Rumi

It fits so well, it gives words to feelings I cannot express to others.  The journey is the beauty I seek. That is why I hike.

Today I spent my time organizing my gear. I think it is all set, although I seem to be missing a mitten and somehow my sunglasses have vanished. So unless those items are found they will be my last minute purchases. My gear looks like this (everything including what I will be wearing, but minus my sleeping bag, canister of gas, shoes, gaiters, and my bag.)

pctgear

While it is not super light, it will get the job done.  Sadly my favorite Patagonia Hoody did not make the cut. I will keep it in my “maybe needs” box so it can get sent when it gets colder.

The other major thing done today was the much needed repair on my Tarptent Rainbow. It sat for a good year without any use, as I use my hammock as much as I can these days. I decided to set it up on my last week off, but couldn’t get the pole to reach to the other side. I gave up and shot an email to Henry Shires. He got back to me right away, and thought it was probably a humidity problem. I had two options… shorten the pole or extend the webbing so it would reach. I decided as I am a much better seamstress than a pole breaker to do the latter. He was nice enough to send me some webbing. So today I cut (a very scary thing to do on a piece of equipment you depend on) the webbing in two spots and sewed some pretty hefty thread into the new webbing. Viola, after a bit it all came together nicely and now my tent is back to being able to actually work again, what a huge relief.

In exciting Lego Man news, I finally received my travel companion in the mail.  My nephew picked out his good friend Emmit to travel with me. He even gave me some information about him. So here it goes, everything you ever wanted to know about my new trail partner. Emmit’s hobbies include swinging from trees, swimming, fishing, rock climbing, sand surfing, and building forts. (The last piece goes along wonderfully to my last post.) Emmit has many favorite foods, Emmitgearthey include berries, bacon, pine cones, corn, hot chocolate, tea, sausages, and of course tree bark. Not a bad diet at all, I think we can accommodate his needs pretty well on the trail. And some extra added information of note would be… he is great at starting campfires (we will have a chat about the huge fire danger before we start, don’t worry we will get him a fire permit), He is very strong and curious but afraid of the dark.  I think Mr. Emmit and I will get along just fine. He has some pretty awesome gear to. Talk about light weight check it out.  (Although his camera is bigger than his pack, I think he has everything he needs, I don’t know how he does it.)

The countdown is on. Today I sent off my first two resupply boxes. It seems as though there are only 3 big things left to do… pack, move, and get to the airport on time . I know the next week is going to fly by, and I am ready! 🙂

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one box, two box, three box, four….

Anyone want to make a fort? I am surrounded by boxes, so many boxes. Boxes of pop tarts, boxes of candy bars, flat rate boxes that are buldging with food, boxes that I should be using to pack up my life. It seems as though I am starting to run out of time. Luckily a program I was going to work dropped numbers, so I was given an extra week to figure things out. What have I learned? Well, that my mail drop planning before was only halfway done. I have finally typed it all out and started filling as many boxes as I have food for. I also broke up my maps and guide book pages. I have way more map packets than I thought, so I will be actually sending a few smaller Map drops along the way as well.

With one week left of work at the hut, then company coming from the Midwest… it is also time to get my act together on this moving thing. I have been procrastinating way too long.  I did tell my housemates that I am staying an extra week to ward off way to much craziness in a move. I will be sad to leave my amazing house. I love where I live, I love the view of the mountains, and the community that lives here with me. What I do know is that, my favorite things… my bed, and all the other junk I have accumulated since I moved is going to storage. I need to purge all the useless items and simplify. Because… only the universe knows what comes next for me after this hike. I have no plans, and am ready to put it to wind to decide.

a2I have also been sewing a whole bunch. I decided since I had so much left over fabric from my sleeping bag liner that I could make some gaiters too. I made them very similar to the dirty girl style. The only problem is I can’t get them tight around my ankles. So I think I might add some elastic to them to keep them up, that way they will keep the dirt out of my sneakers. Also finally, after a long agonizing decision making process and a lack of shoe stores in the area that my first pair of hiking shoes will be…. drum roll please…. Solomon XR Mission trail runners. I looked into many, many styles, tried on as many as I could, but the things that sold me were: the crazy lime green color, the huge toe box (my feet are small, but wide), and the price. They were on sale for a very respectable 50% off the retail price. They look pretty styling with my new gaiters too hehe. They fit my insoles well and are very comfortable. And heck, they only have to last me 300-500 miles… hoping for the later.

Something very exciting came in the mail today… (well actually two things, but one thing at a time.) First, it is official, if I can hike myself up to Canada, I have the permit to walk across the border and the stamps to prove it will be legal! I finally got all my passport copies done and sent out, it all went very fast. Canada you have got your stuff together… in more ways than one;) I also finally sent an email to the PCTA about my long distance hiking permit. I had filled out the application and faxed it from the library, but they never got the fax. I knew they were sending them out, and I assumed mine was coming. But, I have been waiting so long, I have been waiting for something that wasn’t coming. So I went out tonight to fax it again. Hopefully they get it this time. It is the last thing I am waiting on. Then I will be all ready to go!

The second thing in the mail today? Well it was a very, very small green backpack… for a Lego Man. One of the people I will miss the most on this hike is my favorite hiking buddy. My nephew is 7, and loves hiking just as much as I do. Since I will be gone for a while, we won’t get to go hiking this summer. It makes me sad to miss out on his joy, curiosity and love for the woods. So I was trying to figure out a way to be connected to him on the trip, to sort of bring him along. So I decided since he LOVES Legos (who doesn’t?) to send him an letter inviting him to pick a Lego man to go on an all expense paid trip on the PCT.  I am going to take some pictures and send him letters from his very own Lego man. I even went gear shopping for this Lego man, yes you read that right GEAR SHOPPING for a LEGO MAN! Trust me, this is a legit deal. So if you see me out there, don’t be scared of the crazy lady out there taking pictures of a Lego man. I hope to share some of the fun pictures with you.  After all, I am only a little crazy.

Backpacking Eh?

With all that has been going on it’s a wonder I have not yet given up, actually made a box fort and hid away eating pop tarts. Don’t worry there is still time for such things.

One month to launch…

Well shoot dang, that was a productive week. It started out with a little err… A lot of homework. I had to take the whole 2660.1 miles of the trail and “try” to figure out where good places are to send myself a mail drop.
     What is a mail drop? Usually it is where you or your resupply sender sends you a box. Often these boxes are sent to post offices, but it is much better if you can send them to a trail angel’s house or a business that have better hours. The boxes include food and gear for that section of the trail. Often these are sent to places where there is a limited resupply like a convince store or nothing at all.
      At this point I think I have 10 places that I plan on sending myself resupply boxes. The early boxes (mostly in California) will be packed at home and given to my friend Blis, to send out over time. 
     After I worked that out, I started packing my boxes. Luckily the post office is stocked with many one price boxes. First I jazzed up my boxes, so they will be easier to identify among all the others. Then I looked over my HUGE box of food. Wow, who knew all that dehydrating would amount to so much delicious food. I tried to diversify what went into each box. There are several different dinners mostly what I dehydrated but a few randos that I have had squirreled away. I like all the dried veggies and fruits I’ve got. They will really add pizazz to my dinners. For second breakfasts, a gold mine of POP TARTS! I am going to be pretty excited to play pop tart roulette on the trail. Since ALL silver packages look the same. Every time I came across a pop tart sale at the market I bought some, which ended up with no less than 9 different flavors. All of which I am pretty excited about. Hopefully I can cram all the goodies in the boxes.

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     In other exciting news GEAR! All sorts of boxes have been arriving as of late. It is all starting to come together.

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      I also received my maps! They entire trail ends up being about a whole ream of printer paper. My plan for tomorrow’s self appointed zero/snow day is to break them up into smaller packets. Not like I wouldn’t want to carry 6lbs of paper on the trail.;)  I also plan on breaking up my guidebook. Why physical maps and digital copies on my phone? I am a bit old school, but also know that technology doesn’t always work. If I found myself in a pickle, my phone dead… I am more confident in my map and compass skills. Yes, I WILL be carrying a compass. The PCT is not blazed and marked as well as the AT. I am excited about this aspect of the journey.

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     So alas, in exactly one month from today this gal will be taking her first steps on the PCT. Wow, where has time gone?

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    Today I hiked up to Greenleaf Hut to honor all my hard work and to celebrate my trail-versary. To think six short years ago, I was hiking Springer Mountain.. My first steps of the Appalachian Trail.

        My world was changed forever, for the better. My eyes were opened to what really matters in my life. That things are not as important as experiences. That the people you meet and things you see have the ability to change your life forever.

     To say I am excited for this next chapter, would be an understatement. How ever this adventure turns out, I know I will learn new things about myself and this lovely world we live in. How cool is that?

it’s all happening…

Happiness is….Image

          Today was a good day. I scored an amazing deal on some new Black Diamond poles as well as some new much needed Super-feet insoles (THANKS KITTENS!) and I stumbled upon a box of 48 Pop tarts for a whopping $7. That my friends is what I call a successful shopping day!

           Somehow it has become March, if February is any indication of how the next month will go, it seems as though I am running out of time to get everything done. So today I tackled some last minute shopping for gear and food supplies for my mail drops. Tomorrow I plan on packing boxes of things I will be needing and getting them ready for my good friend Lisa. I hope to get most of the planning on how much food goes in each mail drop box, as well as where they should be sent done in the next day or two. I am still dehydrating food like a crazy person, my poor housemates are getting used to the “white noise machine” in the kitchen. But even with all the rush, I am feeling confident that it will all get done.

          Image In exciting (to probably just me) gear news: My lovely new Mountain Hardware sleeping bag finally arrived! Even though the temperatures at the hut are back to being sub-artic I refuse to bring up my new warm bag up. I have yet to jump in it, as I am trying to keep it nice and new for as long as possible. I did finish my sleeping bag liner, I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I think it is going to be a good system of warmth and cleanliness for the bag. *Plus the liner fabric is wicked awesome!

I also hit the scary purchase button on many missing items from my gear list. I ordered an umbrella that is silver on the outside to help keep the deserts harsh rays from my super pale skin. I finally got a Sawyer Squeeze Mini water filter to use in the desert along with some new Aqua Mira drops. (I have been tossing the ideas back and forth for a while of what water treatment system(s) to use.) I ordered a MSR Pocket Rocket stove to replace my cat food can stove (while my old alcohol stove definitely weighs less, I am worried about the continuous fire danger in the West. It is best to have a way to stop the flow of fuel to prevent fires.)

I also am confident that my clothing is all finally sorted. Today I purchased a second synthetic t-shirt that was on sale. I also am planning on ordering a Columbia Omni Freeze button up shirt for the desert tomorrow. I think it will be an interesting thing to try, if it works my sweat will keep me cool. If it doesn’t live up to what it says, well I will have a very expensive sun shirt that will at least lower the risk of sunburn.

I have been saving my TIPS like mad, it was nice to finally be able to spend some of that hard earned cash. I am feeling good about all my new purchases, the planning aspects, and feeling good about this whole adventure. It really is all coming together nicely, yahoo!

There is one more thing I would like to share for tonight. I was called out on a Search and Rescue (S.A.R.) while up at the hut this past week. It was a very eye opening experience. I got to use skills that I have learned through out the years from my Wilderness First Responder courses. In the past the extent of this skill set has been used on blisters, sprained ankles, one open wound requiring stitches, and various other minor ailments of kids on my trips. The fact that there are many volunteers out in the world who will drop what they are doing and head out into the woods to help a total stranger, makes me happy. I hope that I never need the help of a SAR team (knock on wood) but I am very appreciative of all that they do for others. It is this kindness for strangers in their time of need that makes the trail community strong. A huge THANK YOU to anyone who is connected to such endeavors, I can now say I understand what you do a bit better and appreciate you that much more for it.

**Also a huge THANK YOU to Mother Nature for the much needed rain in the West. Although…. I think you may have a kink in your messaging system. The rain dance requests were supposed to be spread out a bit more, not ALL the rain at once. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers I suppose… we will take whatever we can get. **