So close but yet so far

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Laying in my tent stealth camping in East Glacier, Mt. I lose track of days on trail, didn’t  realize that it was Labor Day weekend. Hostel is booked and so are most hotels. Hiking straight through that last section (with no town stops) was tough. It’s a 140 mile section if you go straight through. I under estimated my food needs, had to start rationing.  (This was poor planning and me being lazy. But food is heavy, yo. Ha, you’d think this was my first thru hike. Certainly not the first time I ran out of food. Doh) Was doing some 27 to 30 mile days to get done. I wasn’t  hungry but my energy levels were super low. Pretty much stumbling into camp (seriously, over ever tree root) eating a tortilla with peanut butter and passing out.


My legs are so scratched and tender from all the branches scratching, over growth, climbing over blown down trees and just tripping.


The route was beatiful taking us right by the wall and through the Bob Marshall wilderness. However, there a lot of fires, one we passed within 1/4 mile of the trail. The smoke limited the views and made the sun an eerie red. Many of the trails were closed, glad we made it through.

Our last day we hiked 29 miles to get to East Glacier. That was a super long day, but being that I was down to a bag of Skittles and a granola bar….well I was motivated. Made to town just in time to grab a burger before the restaurant closed!!

After stealth camping we headed to Brownies Hostel to grab our last packages. Unfortunately, the did NOT have them!! I was more than upset. I purposely had the packages sent early AND to the hostel to avoid the post office being closed upon arrival.

So frustrating, so close to Canada (like only 100 miles left) and this happens. I don’t want to (and can’t afford to) to sit here and wait. Mostly annoyed that the hostel is like, oh well.

On the upside, walking mad through town I run into a hiker i met on the PCT, then randomly in Portland, then ha here in Montana! Small world! They were in town for a wedding, gave us fresh fruit (Oh how I miss fruit,yum plums) and drinks! Made me feel better.
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Not sure, guess I may have to leave without packages. I’ll keep checking til we leave tomorrow. Packages have been known to just “show up”or “be found”. Fingers crossed.

PS:  Thanks Gary for the lift back to the trail! Oh and my shoes….yep duck tape!

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Highway to HELena..

Hiking south from Anaconda turned out to be a great idea! The trail was nice, but it was really nice to run into other hikers we haven’t seen since Colorado! They were all guys, where my girls!? I wish I had taken pics, hope to see you guys up the trail!
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Last day hiking south I hiked 26 miles in about 9 hours, with breaks and stopping to chat, guess I was in the flow and feeling good. Got lucky on a hitch from a guy nice enough to give us a lift 60 miles back to Anaconda! After a good night’s rest and a quick resupply headed out on a long hot road walk. While hiding in the shade a local guy (Eddie Murphy, yes jokes were made) came by and said not to drink the water from the nearby stream. Instead he said stop by his house for water and camping in his yard. Took him up on the water but just tested in the yard til it cooled down, then night hiked on further.


The terrain in Montana changes quickly from farm land to forest. I really love that the climbs are gradual. However water is getting scarce. Learned quickly when there is water you better take it. Second day out planned on hiking and camping at a lake. I had about a cup of water left when I got to the “lake” The lake ended up being a shallow swamp. Ended up hiking another 1.3 miles to a drippping creek then carrying water uphill to find a campsite.

Other than limited water I’m enjoying Montana and cranking out 25 mile days! Less than 400 miles to go, Im gonna make it! But first a stop in Helena…

On the highway to HELena we met trail angel Barb!! She gave us a lift to town, a tour, and McDonalds (I was so hungry)! She even let us shower and do laundry!! She lives in a nice neighborhood where people hang out on their porches and chat. She even took us to the grocery and back to the trail!! Thanks you and Max went above and beyond.
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There are fires in the area and trail closures ahead. Thanks to all those firefighters out there on the ground and in the air!

Montana Idaho part 2

Well you really haven’t lived til you have slept on the floor at a truck stop. Yep that happened. The bus left at 5am and stealth camping was not an option with all the truckers and mosquitoes. Greyhound, man, I have no words. Seriously this girl on the bus (who had already been told to stop singing by the bus driver. His words: “this is not American Idol”, too funny) got kicked off the bus for shoplifting, for real.

Had a layover in Salt Lake City (why are people fascinated with the SLC convention center? ) Spent the 6 hour layover laying in the grass, looking real homeless, watching tourist take pictures of the place. Back at the bus station I did a happy dance when I found out the rest of our trip would be on this comfortable sprinter van!!!!

Finally arrived in Butte, Montana at 3:15 am, walked 1.7 miles to my motel. What? It’s to early to check in, shocked. Oh well luckily there was an empty couch in the lobby where I took a little nap. I don’t think they really liked that, but hey I got in my room by 10 am! I was in need of some real rest. The next day back on trail headed for Canada…..or so I thought.

To get back on trail where I had gotten off (Idaho not Montana, aka Montanaho) a few hitches were necessary. Seemed simple enough, wrong.
4 hitches and 6 hours later, found myself in nowhere, Montana! By nowhere I mean nowhere near the trail. DOH!! Finally gave up getting to the trailhead and took first ride I could get into town. See the trail goes right through the town of Anaconda, way north of where I wanted to be. So guess who’s southboundING, this girl! Then I am so headed to Canada.


Oh many thanks to the Adventure Camp Anaconda trail society for providing that sweet shed for hikers to crash in, in Anaconda!

Got to catch the eclipse from the Idaho/Montana border. Then had a great day seeing our hiker friends, on trail, we haven’t seen in a month or 500ish miles.

Light Years

The trail both humbled and disappointed me when I had to bail off the snowy Colorado trail. But my safety was more important to me. Flipping north and then back south was an expense and logistical mess. But I will soon be in Montana/Idaho and headed for Canada!
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After 4 days on trail, escaping Colorado  I finally got signal and with that the sad news that a dear friend (Mr. French) had passed. It’s times like that I just want to go home, or fall to pieces. But I can’t quit or stop I have to keep moving forward, thus is life.

But when things get tough angels step in. At the trailhead I met some folks on vacation from Georgia, Cooper and Jane. They not only offered a ride to town but took us to their rental home for lunch, showers and laundry. Cooper reminded me of my friend, witty/funny, lifting my spirits. Later they took us to dinner in town, lettings us camp on the lawn after chatting around a campfire. THEN…drove us up to catch our bus the next morning!


With all the craziness going on right now, know there are people out there like Cooper and Jane. People so kind and generous, to strangers just stumbling out of the woods.
I’ll be very busy when I get back home, paying forward all the kindness showed to me out here. I can’t wait.

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This next section is for you Mr. French! Thanks for the laughter and believing in me (even on the trail I didn’t finish). I’ll be rockin that AT buff, see ya on the other side.

And wherever you’ve gone
And where ever we might go
It don’t seem fair
Today just disappeared
Your lights reflected now
Reflected from a far
We were but stones
Your light made us stars- Eddie V.

 

There’s a sign in Rocky Mountain National Park with the saying “the mountains don’t care”. Yep they don’t. They are there to marvel at and for those, who dare, to climb. I am not a fan of climbing (hiking uphill), heck I didn’t even like biking uphill. So thank the sweet baby Jesus I am out of Colorado, but the mountains don’t care.
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I was told I picked the wrong hobby to not like climbing. I don’t think so. At home I can hike over the mountain or around, hike the city or the desert. Going where I want/choose, at my speed. Out here I’m on the trail (when I’m not lost). Out here is not hobby hiking, it’s extreme hiking.

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More of this please..

“Embrace the Brutality,” the unofficial motto of the CDT, isn’t just hype. On the CDT you face risks that are rare on the other long-distance trails and challenging climbs. Thru hiking ain’t for everyone. But ‘hobby hiking’ is!! Get on the trail, or street (Urban hiking); make your own route. Find your own way, even if it’s around the mountain. That is all……now go!

It’s the climb….

I wake up chilly, no actually cold. Why is it so cold, in August? Stealth camped just outside of Grand Lake, what cute town, I’d love here. From my tent the lake is not visible through the fog it’s only .5 miles away. I don’t want to get out of my sleeping bag, but I have to potty so I’m up. It’s a later wake up than usually headed into town for AYCE buffet, resupply, and make plans to get back up to Montana.
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The last 4 days have been rough for me. Moral is low, energy is low but the climbs have been high. Guess I’m just trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel but I can’t with all the rain, hail and clouds! Really I’m not good at climbing, toss in crappy weather and I’m a mess.


Just south of Winter Park I got lost. After a huge climb I got to the peak and couldn’t find the trail down. It was covered in rock with like a bjillion cairns. The jagged rocks hurt my feet and I kept tripping, that’s when it started raining, great. I clumsily got myself down to some trees thinking I’d find the trail, nope. My crappy GPS would only show where I was but not any direction. I ended up climbing back uphill then following a forest service road to where the trail crossed it. So frustrating. I had shooting pain in my feet by the time I made it to camp.


It has become hard to enjoy the incredible sceanary when I am constantly just trying to out run the daily rain storm or not roll my ankle on a rock. It is beautiful, really, lakes surrounded by mountains and nice camp sites. I’d like to come back…..and car camp, sometime when I’m not racing to Canada.

Leadville adventure

We got dropped off by our ride at the Safeway grocery store. After wondering around aimlessly I finally got enough food, sorta. (I’m still having eating issues like on the PCT. I just don’t;t have a taste for anything while on trail. So basically I’m not getting enough calories and my energy is way low. But what 800ish miles to go, I’ll make it, eventually.)

Anyway, we got a ride back to the trail before we even got out of the parking lot. 20 minutes later we’re standing back near the trailhead looking at the looming gray sky. A check of the forecast..thunderstorms, agh. We decided to hitch BACK to Leadville, again!

Ended up getting a ride from two very nice guys. Staying in one of the motels seemed like a good inexpensive option. However, every motel we stopped at was full! There was a mountain bike race going on. That’s when one of the guys said “i have an apartment you girls can stay in, if you want, just lock up when you leave.” Hmmm, ok.

Turns out his friend lived in the main house and we got the entire downstairs apt to ourselves! The friend came down with beer and regaled us with some interesting stories. We stayed for two days, I was glad not to be out in the rain. Kelsey wants to go back for the donkey races in a week!

Escaping the Leadville vortex I am egar to finish these last miles into of Colorado. Not sure how I’m gonna get back to Idaho yet. But hey, things tend to work out as they should.

Well I made it to Salida by getting a great hitch from a girl named Chelsea. I had been watching cars pass for about 40 minutes before she stopped. Chelsea is from Gunnison and was headed into Salida to meet some old friends.

I hadn’t run into Kelsey on trail and couldn’t figure out how I could have passed her. So I was hopping to find her in town. I ended up at the Simple Lodge hostel. Great hostel in a great location, only blocks from the Arkansas River. The hostel was full of hikers on the Colorado Trail, it was fun talking and hanging out with them. Reminded me of being on the PCT.


I met Blaze (from La Jolla) and Michelle (from Pennsylvania) we all went out to celebrate Tequila day and watched people body surf in the river. Salida is cute little town, with its own town deer! Yep, actually there is about 3 that just hang out in town.

When Kelsey didn’t show I hopped a shuttle with Blaze and Michelle back to the trailhead. They headed south on the CT and I headed north on the CDT.

I passed at about 20 CT hikers that day all headed southbound. Just me hiking solo northbound. I have to say I do enjoy hiking solo, there is a different feeling when you are are alone. There is a sense of freedom, independence and self reliance. I also hike differently when solo, my own pace.

I hiked two whole days by myself and enjoyed it. (I do miss having someone else in camp at night though, and I suck at selfies) I hiked out that morning and got surprised by a moose!! I took a picture and watched him standing in water for a bit before heading up the climb to the pass. At the top of the pass guess who comes up behind me? Kelsey! She had taken the alternate route. We exchanged stories of the last days as we hiked into Twin Lakes.


Twin Lakes was not so great. Very small and the store did not have a good resupply. After getting kicked out of the restaurant/inn, yeah that happened. We decided to hitch into Leadville, as I had heard it was a hiker friendly fun adventure. We got a ride quickly and planned on getting supplies and getting right back on trail…..but Leadville.

Rebounding and Ragbrai

After counting to ten multiple times and being on the phone with Verizon for 30 mins I got them to overnight me a new phone! Honestly they did not make it easy. They could not send it to the post office I was sitting right in front of, nope. Luckily a nice guy at the Coffee on the Fly shop let me use their address.


The phone arrived late afternoon the next day. I worried most of the day that my apps (mostly I was concerned about my trail map app Guthooks). While I sat on the floor of the post office, charging the new phone a local lady invited us to spend the night in their “trailer”. Turns out the “trailer” was a motor home with a queen bed, electricity and a shower! The trail does provide.


The next morning after as we headed out I realized that my GPS did not have a locator button. Kelsey was itching to get back on the trail so I told her to go ahead while I headed back into town to fix the problem. It only took about 15 mins to correct once I got on Wi-Fi. But by the time I got on trail Kelsey was long gone.

I hiked most of the day til it started to rain and I got wet/cold. About 18 miles in I have up and set up camp. It was actually a good day even with the rain because CDT joined up with the CT (Colorado Trail). It was fun to all of a sudden see other hikers. All were headed the opposite direction, but yeah people!!

The next day I was sure I’d catch Kelsey but nope. I admit I was distracted by OMG, trail magic! I was gifted rice krispy treats and coke at the first stop. Woohoo!! With that sugar injection I was off to the races. I was really moving, 10 miles by 10 am! Feeling good with good trail I set out for 10 more by 2pm. That’s  when I hit the next trail magic stop. Fresh water, hot dogs and yes more coke. With that I took off determined to pull a 30 mile day. Racing the rain I made it 33 miles. Biggest mile day this whole trail. I really need to start packing out soda pop!!! Or maybe it was those spiffy new shoes and insoles. Or maybe all those encouraging comments from everyone, thanks guys! What a difference a day makes, hang in there.

To all you guys on the Ragbrai stay safe and keep the rubber side down!

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Nothing without Providence

Nothing without Providence -the Colorado state motto…..

Colorado started out beautifully, but into each life some rain must fall. The clouds gathered, then there was hail and rain. Not a warm rain, oh no, a very chilly rain. There is no guessing when it will start between 12 and 4pm, maybe. So you either hike in it, put the tent up and wait it out, or huddle under a pine tree, shivering, wrapped in your rain fly. (That rain fly is surprisingly warm, btw)


There was still some spotty snow to traverse, but mostly I just got wet feet. Still managed to get “lost”(i.e. get way off trail). Someday I’ll learn to consult GPS map first instead of going off all Willy nilly. Ended up exhausting myself climbing up to the wrong pass, then down to the valley and up again to the correct pass. I seriously had to almost crawl to camp. I laid in my tent with back spasms, staring at a rainbow in the distance, maybe I’m too old for this.

Lately I’ve found myself mesmerized by the scenery. The wild flowers, the streams, the elk herds..I just want to sit and take it all in, but I have to hike. A little voice trys to remind me ‘enjoy this, this moment, this day’. I push on, to all the things ahead Montana, other hikers, Canada. Well life has a way of slowing you down.

After a quick stop in town, food, charge batteries we raced a storm to camp. It rained most of the night, I awoke happy to hear it had stopped. Grabbed my phone to check the time….and the screen was black! Well partially black but enough to make me panic.

My phone is my everything, clock, camera, phone, gps/map, computer and connection to the world! Omg! Everything is on there notes, blog posts, numbers, passwords…crap. Nearest Verizon store 40 miles away (btw they well not help you unless you come there). I want to scream, cry, throw a tantrum. Is this how this trail ends? I can’t go out into the woods without GPS and no maps. I can’t afford a new phone! Crap are my pictures backed up? Panic, panic, panic, breathe.

Sidenote: yes I know I should not depend solely on electronics and should have papers maps. I typically do, but the paper maps I ordered, well, agh…long story I’ll explain later.