In The End – Linkin Park (GEAR REVIEW)

Before I go through my gear list and review each item, please note that most of my gear I have used for the past three years. While I ended up sending home some gear home and shaving a couple of pounds off of my base pack weight, the only gear I purchased while out on the trail was a poncho. Please remember gear doesn’t have to be expensive, I had gear gifted to me, bought things from Walmart/Thrift Store. That being said invest in some quality gear, take care of it and it will serve you well.

Sleeping bag – Lake Big Agnes Mirror 20 degree
Rating: Love
Take again: Yes
This is the same sleeping bag and it is awesome. There are a lot more expensive bags out there but this one worked incredibly for me. After three years of getting it crazy dirty and washing it, that thing still has loft and is STILL toasty warm. Highly recommend it and take care of your bag.

Backpack: ULA Circuit
Rating: Love
Take again: Yes, but I’m looking to try something else
One heck of an investment. Love this backpack. Full disclosure I did tear the back panel on the CDT but nothing a little duct tape and sleeping pad patches couldn’t fix. That pack has held 7 days of food and 3 liters of water and all my crap at once. It rides nicely on my shoulders and rest nicely on my hips without chafing.pack

Tent: REI Passage 1
Rating:  Love
Take again: Yes

I was gifted this tent at PCT meetup! For me free standing tent is where it’s at. I’m just not that into staking out a tent. This is a one person tent but there is plenty of room in there for my pack and shoes. No condensation issues, it sets up quickly and handles the rain like a boss.

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Tent: Nemo Sleeping Pad
Rating: Good
Take again: Yes
First time taking a blow up pad. This one takes a bit to blow up but it is comfy to sleep on and it doesn’t make that crunchy noise some pads make when you lay on it. I also used a piece of my old z lite (for day sitting) underneath it as I was bit concerned about popping, but nope.pad

Tent: Jet Boil
Rating: Love
Take again: Yes
I went stove-less on the PCT and then the Esbit stove on the AT. Well it makes a big difference to be able to have hot coffee and a hot meal. Once I got to Montana, the weather warmed up (and being close to finishing) I sent the Jet Boil home. Overall it’s a great stove, heats quickly, fuel is easy to find and except for the large fuel canister I kept getting it takes up very little room. boil

Trekking Poles: MSR Talus Sure lock
Rating: Like
Take again: Yespoles

Honestly I don’t use trekking poles very much, mostly just for crossing streams or when I really want to move faster. Otherwise I just don’t like have things in my hands, constantly. These actually were gifted to me on the PCT from the Dinsmore’s (Hiker Haven) after I broke my other poles (at the time I needed poles to hold up my other tent).

Shoes: Saucony
Rating: Good enough
Take again: nah, going back to Altra

Full disclosure, I bought these shoes because a) they are inexpensive and b) the teal color matched my hiking outfit, don’t judge. They are great for day hikes and in the gym, but they took a real beating on the trail. Lesson learned, invest in some good shoes.  I did the AT in Altra running shoes, they were awesome and I should have had them on the CDT. Heck I’m wearing them right now……and they come in great colors to match your outfit, oh and gaiter traps! (side note: old shoe make great planters)plant shoes

 

Laundry Puffy Jacket
Rating: Love
Take again: Yes
This jacket came from…..wait for it…..Burlington Coat Factory! I got it for like $60 in their winter close out sale. Thing is great. Kept me warm and made a great pillow too! Sure you can spend twice as much on an ultra light coat, or not.

 

So that is me and my stuff. Oh that dress is totally from Walmart! (notice the bags on my feet, stepped up my game later with Neoprene socks) If you have any gear questions…..ask away!

 

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The Samples – Could It Be Another Change

So I survived birthday month! Got a few more bumps and bruises but I made it. Managed to camp/hike every weekend except on my actual birthday. To say the least I did all the things. Camping in the Eastern Sierras (it was so beautiful with the fall colors and lakes) to camping at the La Jolla Indian reservation then camping in the Anza-Borrego Desert. The best part was doing it all with friends old and new.

Magical moments in nature is what keeps drawing me back out there. The winding creek under a star filled sky, climbing the same hill over and over, a light rain falling on my tent, avoiding poison oak as I scramble down a mountain while people in onesies laugh and dance the night away.  Disco camping! Ah, yes Youtopia, San Diego’s regional, it was the best year yet, magic on the mountain. While I was hiking the CDT I wrote this poem regarding the burner/thru hiking community, nature can really ignite your creativity.

Finding My Flame

I am only ordinary 
Not special in any way
Not even noticed
As I go on day to day

I went in search
Of something
But the dust made it hard to see
What was truly me

But the voices around me
Said what do you want to be
Confident humble strong
With that
I could not go wrong

From the desert city
To the woods I did flee
There I’d find what eluded me

The path was full of obstacles
Night dark as could be
Yet there was light from
The desert community

A flaming fire
Inspired encouraged
and restored my soul

From sunrise at a fence
To sunset on a mountain
I began to see
What I seek is
Inside of me

 

Now with the month of November kicking off I am reminded of all the things I planned to do but have not. So it is certainly time for me to reignite the flame. Time to start closing out this year and prep for the next.

Blue October – Into The Ocean

It has been a little over a month since I finished my thru hike. You would think after 3 long hikes I would be better at reintegration, but I’m not. Returning to
“regular’ life has not gotten easier. The me I am on trail is different from the me in regular life. The same but different, two sides of the same coin. I long to
be back on the trail because I love the person I am when I’m there. Stronger, more confident, inspired, independent, the stripped down basic beautiful me. If you
are wondering, yes I will be back on the trail. There are miles on the AT that stand between me and the Triple Crown and I want that, for me. If nothing else I’ve
learned not to let anything stand between me and my goals.

Being back in regular life means dealing with all the things. Adulting. There are so many things to do.

Had a lovely welcome back party with friends. (thanks everyone
who came and put up with my absence in the middle of it all!) Still so many people I would like to reconnect with. So much changed while I was away, births, deaths,
engagements, marriages, and situation rearranging. As I moved up the trail life moved on, I knew that it would. I’m catching up, processing and oh my gawd the politics.

My car needed to be repaired (darn little beasties chewed my wires). Posted one message and so many people offered help, thank you. (special thanks Nick for going
out of his way to repair my janky car and deal with my crazy that day, love you) I needed to find a place to live and work. I am deeply grateful to my friends for
taking me into their homes when I return. I’m finally getting some work but the commute makes me question my sanity.

TRAFFIC

Yeah…..back to work!!!

There are also the internet things to do. You might have noticed I have posted in a while. Some posts I only wrote half of and never finished, like my gear review.
Those awesome ladies over at HLAW (Hike Like a Woman) gave some great advice about blogging. That’s when I realized I really need to redo my blog too! Honestly it all
got a bit overwhelming for a bit. So when some friends invited to hike the Eastern Sierras with them I was like, “Yes, yes, and yes!!”

PSA: Prolonged contact with nature can promote positive mental health.

Four days in the Eastern Sierras, just what the doctor ordered. Short hikes to beautiful lakes, fall colors, laughter and marshmallows around a campfire.

Can’t think of a better way to kick of birthday month! Friends with birthdays (thanks Leslie including me in your celebration at the Hollywood Bowl, great time! All this time in California and I’m only just now seeing the Hollywood sign!)

Oh and MY BIRTHDAY! This being my 46th trip around the Sun, a time of reflection is in order. 20, heck 10 years ago I never would have imagined this is where I would
be in life. Even with all the craziness I love what my life has become. It’s not for everybody, but its mine.

elsyew

Emerald City

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Hanging out in Seattle processing the last 5 months. Sometimes it’s like a blur, while some moments I remember with amazing clarity. I’m fortunate to have amazing friends here in Seattle that allow me to decompress in their beautiful spaces. (Yes, I was here also after the PCT)

Cerrie and Chad (missed ya, but Flapjack took me on a nice walk about!) have taken me in this time around. Cerrie you’re the best taking care of me, working and whipping out homemade dumplings, you rock! This was a last minute stop over, too bad. So many awesome people to see here. Some I just didnt get to see. But they too are in the midst of decompression and dusting off.

I did get to catch up with a dear friend from Iowa Sheri! Old friends are best they remind you how far you’ve come but that ya haven’t really changed. On trail I dreamed of a ‘nice’dinner (ya know with silverware) got to share that with my friend James. Thanks man your energy is contagious!
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Today I’ll hop a plane back to San Diego. Feels like I’ve been gone foreva!

Where there’s smoke..

There was an Apocalyptic feel leaving camp for Many Glacier. Going to the Sun Rd was closed over night from fire. So it was weird crossing the road and there being zero traffic. Just the day before it was teaming with tourist headed for the falls. I am so coming back to Montana when it’s not on fire. First thing the permit was changed (Waterton was evacuated) so Chief Mountain it is! The rangers are keeping tabs on where hikers are in case conditions change, that’s nice to know.

Luckily, Garbelly told us about the Ptarmagin Tunnel trail it runs 20 miles, through a tunnel then right out at Chief Mountain at the border.

Another round of boys showed up that evening. Hikers are stacking up with the closures and rerouting. Moist, Roswell, Quicksilver and Mac (always fun to meet a blogger in person. We sat around laughing, chatting and eating.

I was excited and sad only one more day on trail. Had fun walking about the campsite talking to other campers, checking out their car camping rigs. A car camping road trip may be in my future!

Toasted Toad helped with us slack packing! That was fun for me, even the climb to the tunnel, then It was downhill  (except for the last 3 miles uphill, really). Embracing the Brutality, yep,…….almost there…..

 

Gonna miss this..

Well the first day into Glacier was great. What a beautiful area. There was only 11 miles to Two Medicine where we’d get our backcountry permits. About 2 miles out I ran into some goats on the trail!


Unfortunately at the ranger station we found out many other hikers beat us to the punch. Most campsites were full so our next day would have to be 26 miles, a long day, then 14 miles the next day. The other news was that the border at Waterton was possibly closed due to fires. We might not make it to the monument. The detour would put us at Chief Mountain…nooo (well ok, im being dramatic). Basically we’d have to wait til we got get our backcountry o Many Glacier for updated fire information.

Luckily Toasted Toad met us and had a campsite already at Two Medicine. He also brought drinks and dinner! Other hikers came in and enjoyed hot dogs, chardonnay and jack daniels shots!


Thanks to ME for grabbing my buff I dropped on trail! So glad I got to see Garbelly, ME, and Thor we werell on the same shuttle to the border the very first day….later sharing shade in the desert! There’s not a lot of people out here but the ones that are are pretty awesome.

To Canada….

So I managed to get my package, but Kelsey did not. Hanging around town we run into Flip flop and Quicksilver, apparently they were hiking about 5 miles behind us coming into town. We hung out that night and caught up over some beers. The boys were zeroing the next day and that is contagious. Suffice it to say we decided to stay and zero also. Plus we were hearing news other hikers were headed our way.

The next day we spent hanging out checking news on the fires. There are fires everywhere. Matter of fact turned out we had hiked through a fire closure. There were signs at the north end of the trail but not yet posted at the South!

Later about 10 hikers rolled in to town! Wow, I was super happy to see everyone. Garbelly, ME, Thor, Drive by, Scrapbook even Kate and Liam! We all went to the Mexican restaurant for dinner. Had a great night hearing everyone’s trail adventure stories. Funny how we are all on the same trail (sometimes within miles of each other) and have different but similar experiences. This was one of the best nights for me. The trail community really makes the experience. It sucks for those that had to skip the Bob Marshall wilderness due fire. We are not sure where some hikers are, hope they are safe if they pushed on into the Bob.


Today wake up early for one last hot coffee. We will wait a bit for Kelsey’s package then hit the trail. Most everyone else is doing the same thing. It would be awesome hike to then end with a fun group.

For now the CDT is open to the border, hoping that does not change and the fires stay to the east. I heard this is the worst fire conditions in 50 years. I’ve been looking forward to Glacier National Park for this whole trip.

Still can’t believe only 100 miles left about 4 days. But time to move, it’s getting chilly again. These last 5 months have been an incredibly crazy journey. Guess this is my last post til Canada…….see on the flip side!!