Embrace the Suck

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“It’s the little things,” an insincere echo follows my thoughts around today. Little purple flowers peer up at me from the side of the road. The whole world seems to be crashing down around me, but no-one else seems to notice. Perhaps it isn’t. Perhaps I am my own torrent. Big shadows tower before me, invisible and pulling down on my muscles, making old pains ache. There is so much, I just can’t wrap my mind around. Abstractions are tearing me limb from limb. A little bird flits about in the sagebrush and pulls me from myself. Redwing Blackbirds, Grackles and Starlings are flying thick together, bright red glimpses mixed with the brown hues of fall. They fly up, arc, and twist back around, landing not far from where they started. I’m trying to pay attention, for another moment they pull me away from my thoughts: “He said, I love you, but he doesn’t mean it.” “How could anyone be so cold?” “Why is this and that and how can everyone be so angry all the time?” Judgment sits on my chest, pushing out the air I would have used for laughter.

It’s a shame.

On the lake in the distance is a man in a canoe. The early morning light is catching mist as it rises from the water. He’s drifting on the glassy, flat surface, silhouetted by the bright morning sun. I stop for a moment. Silence my thoughts. I wonder what peace it is to be that person. I close my eyes and imagine that I am there, on the lake, drifting. All the big things disappear, and I am someone else for a moment. I take a brief trip outside of myself and find that none of my problems really matter all that much.

Today I’m meditating on a phrase that I forgot I wrote. It’s weird to be a stranger to my own ideas. “I forgive the selfishness of people as I forgive the indifference of nature.” If somehow nature’s indifference is the reason for selfishness, then perhaps it follows that selflessness and the beautiful moments of perfect collaboration and coincidence that occur in the world are also somehow related. And perhaps none of it needs to be forgiven as much as embraced.

PCT update: Mile 566

Hey guys!

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I am about to put up some posts of our PCT hike on my other blog: https://captainplanetpct.wordpress.com/

Currently Flask and I are in Tehachapi, Ca: mile 566. We are gearing up for the snow as we approach Kennedy Meadows. There is a lot of fear mongering going on out here, so we are preparing ourselves as best we can to enter potentially hazardous conditions. The desert was also reasonably dangerous, especially in the heat of the day, so I am hoping that with proper gear and decision making skills we can work our way through the massive snow melt happening in the high Sierras. Send your best thoughts to us and as much luck as possible!!!

-Captain Planet

PCT 2017 Mail Drops

Today I was looking at an email from a trail angel who is dropping me off in Campo, and I realized that there are people already on the PCT! It made me realize that this is really going to happen. Over the next few days I will be sending out some mail drops that Flask and I put together, another sort of illuminating moment.

I am still unsure of the best way to resupply on trail, and I do see the benefits of both buying as you go and mail drops. I choose to do mail drops because I don’t eat meat so the extra protein I can pack into every meal really helps, but I am also positive that I will be finding my way to town to get extra supplies and eat at restaurants.

There are several spots where I intend to resupply in town, partially because I know I will be very sick of the variety I have packed in the boxes. I picked my resupplies with Flask in a sort of debate/informed guess manner. I’m sure we’ve planned some weird stops, but we won’t know until we are on trail! We also encountered the problem of P.O. drops which are only held for a month. To solve this problem we have enlisted close family to send us time sensitive boxes with dinners and protein rich foods.

After this hike I am going to come out with a backpacking cookbook listing all of the best recipes I’ve created !

Here are some pictures of the process:

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Appalachian Trail -March 23 2015- October 1 2015

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Two years ago! I can’t believe it has been that long, and I can’t believe it has only been two years. I can still close my eyes and find myself on some distant mountain in the Appalachians. Today I am finishing up packing our resupply boxes for the PCT! I can’t wait to get back on trail!!!!

Flask and I will be starting in Campo on May 13th 2017!!!! Happy Trails! I hope to see some of you out there! ❤

 

Hiking for a Cause: Earth Justice/PCTA!

I am hiking for a cause! It seems like a huge obligation to raise money while hiking, but I found a good cause that appeals to my current sentiments. There are a lot of causes I was torn between, and I did some extensive research which informed my decision to hike for Earth Justice!

here is my bio. on the hike for website:

Trail: Pacific Crest Trail     Goal: 2650 Miles
Dates: May 13 2017 – Sep 13 2017
My trail name is Captain Planet. I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2015, and I am excited to announce that I plan on thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from South to North starting May 2017. I walked the Appalachian Trail solo,but I will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with my partner Flask, another long distance hiker. I am devoted to protecting the wilderness. I grew up traveling around this beautiful country with my family, exploring the National Parks and America’s wilderness areas. I think of the public lands as my home, as a part of myself, and I would do anything to keep them protected. I hike because I love hiking. I am hiking for a cause because I know the earth is at risk, and I would like to bring awareness to it’s peril. I am inspired to do this because I am troubled by the shift towards the privatization of public lands and energy solutions that depend on fracking. I am deeply concerned with the fine balance between land accessibility and preservation that is often tipped in the favor of economic gain. People need wilderness, clean drinking water, clean air, places to grow food and the ability to live independently. We need to love the earth with our actions.
Cause 1: I am hiking for Earth Justice, which is an Environmental Law Organization that is actively assisting Standing Rock with their struggle for protecting water and life. This organization is also largely concerned with protecting wilderness, regulating energy solutions and monitoring the health of the environment in a just manner.
Cause 2: Pacific Crest Trail Association. Trail community and maintainers are what make my world more magical. Since I am hiking the PCT I feel it is important to hike for the unseen stewards of the trail. less
If you would like to pledge per mile please check out my profile! I start my trek on May 13th. Anything helps!!!! I stand with Standing Rock.

http://www.hikefor.com/Captain_Planet/PCT/2017

Hiker Ladies, I present the Menstrual Cup!

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(not my  photo:  http://www.womenshealthmag.com/sites/womenshealthmag.com/files/wh-menstrual-cup-1000.jpg)

It’s not called a Diva Cup, it’s called a menstrual cup, and there are many brands of them! I bought mine from a company called Glad Rags at the San Francisco Green Festival Expo. I really love it!!!! I haven’t used a tampon or anything of the like in about three years.

I’ve had some terrible experiences with medicines and shots that alter periods and there is hearsay that tampons are not only wasteful, but they also might be linked to cancer causing materials.

Here’s a fun article from Time Magazine expressing possible concerns:
http://time.com/4422774/tampons-toxic-cancer/

I would highly recommend this for any hiker as it cuts down on bloody trash you have to carry. I found a bloody tampon on trail once…seriously ladies? If you don’t want to hike it out, get a menstrual cup!

Another interesting concept is that periods change when hiking. During the first half of my 2015 hike my cycle became light and sometimes missed. I think happens because the body is too stressed to attempt to reproduce.

Glad Rags:

http://gladrags.com/category/33/Menstrual-Cups.html

Hiking for a Cause

Hey guys!

So, I’ve been thinking about hiking to raise money for a cause. I used the website: hike for and decided to hike for the Sierra Club (http://www.sierraclub.org/) and the Pacific Crest Trail Association (http://www.pcta.org/). If you want to make a pledge, then check out my hike profile here:

http://www.hikefor.com/Captain_Planet/PCT/2017

The plan is to start in May 2017!

I choose the Sierra Club after reading this disturbing article today:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/19/bureau-land-management-federal-lease

I first noticed (first hand travels) that this was happening in 2009…how sad that it is going to get worse. A lot of places are going to be ruined for mining in addition to the places they will make inaccessible by charging ridiculous fees for “improvements.” Some of my favorite places on earth have been “improved” out of existence by rich people who think that nature should be covered in concrete, fancy lawns and flush toilets. The switch to state control is a big mistake. Captain Planet disapproves of this obvious move towards privatization. Take action guys!

 

PCT 2017

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October 2016, Mother Earth and I did a little hike on the PCT near Lake Tahoe. It was a spontaneous hike without much thought or planning. I did manage to take a peak at the weather, so we only stayed on night. The first snows came the following day. We hiked up to a nice campsite on a ridge. We set up camp and made dinner right away. As we unpacked the food, I realized that I packed the extra dinner bag rather than the actual food bag I had prepared.

I looked at mom  with slight alarm and thought “Will she be mad?”

She laughed for awhile at my mistake and eventually asked me which one we should have for dinner.

I responded with “Which one do you want for breakfast?”

We laughed again. All food is good food when you are hungry.

It was cold enough for us to put on all of our layers and windy enough to get us out of bed at 3am to relocate at a sheltered spot a few miles back down the trail. Night hiking probably sounds ridiculous or even dangerous;however, it is second nature to night hike for a thru-hiker, and I was glad to have the experience with Mother Earth. I want her to be comfortable making decisions in the wilderness that really take into account all possible actions. Night hiking sounds like desperation, but really it’s a good  example of how overcoming cultural fears leads to more freedom and safety in the wilderness. As a female hiking solo on trail, I often night hiked away from sketchy individuals sleeping at shelters or roads and stealth camped.

As we walked down the trail we saw three shooting stars, the tail end of the Orionids meteor shower.In the morning our stomachs grumbled about oatmeal. As we walked out, we followed a rainbow back to the car. A big storm was blowing in and the rising sun caught the western curtain of rain. Collectively we saw about 12 rainbows.

Currently:

I’m trying to decide if I want to blog on my AT site or start a new blog for the PCT, what do you guys think?

Flask and I were sitting around last night discussing the not so distant future. We’ve decided to leave around the 28th of April  2017 for the southern terminus of the PCT. Before we hike we might take a little trip down to Baja with my cousin who has decided to hike with us. Before any of that we are thinking of visiting family, so pre-trail is going to be an exciting time! We might even take a train cross country!Starting in April we are going to be moving about quite a bit.

Post-trail we are thinking of doing some exploring in British Columbia and Alaska. We are hoping to finish sometime in early or mid-September.

Currently I have printed out my guide, and I have most of the gear I need. Flask and I are marking out our resupplies on the map. In Jan. and Feb. we will be putting together our self-care packages and making our dinners. I plan to complete a vegetarian backpacking cookbook when we finish this next trail. My first attempt at making my own meals definitely had some failures. Hopefully it will all come together on the PCT, and I can finish up writing my recipes.

Stay tuned, there is much to come!

October Mountain

Mother Earth and I hiked the last twenty miles of trail in Mass. that I had to skip when my hip stopped working. This part of trail went up over October mountain, which I found to be both perfectly suited and ironic.

It was so different now, the leaves were covering the trail and falling on us as we walked. Everything was orange and red. It was beautiful. I consider this the actual end of trail for me.

I walked from the forest, over the railroad tracks, gradually onto a dirt road, then the trail turned to sidewalk. The transition back to the world was seamless. I wasn’t left in awe on some mountain somewhere. I walked back into civilization.

I’ve been working to get back out ever since.

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Walking and Flying over the White Mtns.

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After Trail, Mother Earth, Kevin and I meandered around the North. We climbed mountains and were privileged enough to fly over the Whites. I got to co-pilot! It was such an amazing experience. It reminded me of the sky diving adventure and all of my friends back in New York! I thought of walking the trail below with Yonder. My mom and I climbed Mt. Liberty in 20 degree, frigid air and then flew over it the next day! What a perspective shift. ❤ Life is beautiful

 

 

 

Consent for the Seasons

Consent for the Seasons                                   10-4-2016

 

When fall says I am coming for awhile,

No, not yet.

Fall laughs and shakes the dead leaves from the trees

This is cannot be.

Fall cries out, and warm rain turns the world cold.

If only just for a few more hours,

I would give anything for a few more hours.

 

A shadow of pale light slants each day shorter,

The memories remind me of what is not now.

Fall is whispering to me: “Love never dies.”,

Even though the world feels as if it is dying.

 

Fall offers harvest,

So let us dance until spring.

I sit humble amongst the naked trees.

Not thinking about anything.

 

-Captain Planet

 

For: Alyssa

Katahdin: 2,189 miles

Oct0ber 1, 2015

 

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The trail was a stream…

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Met Horse and Chesapeake while climbing the mountain…today felt like any other day.

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I wish I could have done Razor’s edge…wasn’t confident enough to go alone o.o guess I’ll just have to go back…dad?

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I offered Horse and Chesapeake a ride back to town…so we left together.

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When we got to the bottom of the mountain…I found a note saying: Captain Planet- your ride broke down.

Under that note was one to Horse and Chesapeake: Your family is here.

It was a weird change of events. I caught a ride with them instead and as we were driving back we saw Mother Earth go blazing past. We flipped the car around and chased her for a good ten miles, until the ranger station. We called it the Mom Car Chase. We were going about 60-65 on the tiny road leading to Baxter.

It was fun to laugh and yell and honk the horn. I was super glad for the ride, for the smiles and for new friends at the end of it all.

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Kevin turned the big 60 today! We celebrated his 60th birthday and the end of trail with an awesome dinner and chocolate cake ^_^ Happy Birthday Kevin!

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Thanks guys! I couldn’t have done it without you.

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I’m proud of myself for sticking with the blog, got a few more days left until I really “finished” trail ^_^

The Flood

09-30-2015

We drove out in the rain, sliding along back to Abol Bridge. Yonder, Tattoo and I arranged to meet Kevin later inside Baxter because we were slack-packing 10 miles. I had my full pack because I was stubborn and there was no way I would walk off into the rain without having my shelter.

We started down the AT which was covered in about three inches of water. We could hear streams roaring all around us. The bridges were passable, but frightening. We took the high water blue blaze up the ridge because we were certain we couldn’t do the stream crossings.

The blue blaze trail didn’t list any stream crossings, but ended up being over waist deep in spots. Yonder waited at each crossing to make sure I didn’t get swept away, as I am short and the water came up higher on me. It was swiftly flowing downward.

By the time we got to Baxter, everything was wet. We were cold and disoriented, so we walked the direction we thought was correct. The signage was confusing, but we lucked out and a car picked us up. Two nice ladies drove us to a ranger station and we waited. I walked around outside trying to get a phone signal to tell Kevin where we were. Somehow he found us, wet and shivering on the porch of the ranger station. I worried all night about the big group of hikers that was hanging out at Abol Bridge. Did they leave in the rain behind us? Did they sleep out in the cold?  Did they cross the streams? Why couldn’t we find any signs in Baxter?

Hiking that day was stupid, but the ferocity of nature is still absolutely amazing. No regrets. No pictures either ^_^

Mother Earth at Abol Bridge

09/29-30/2015

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Cinderella and Keychain show off their shoes ^_^

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I have all my toenails in this picture!

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jumping on the bed….this is what beds are for right?

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2,180 miles of dirt, blood, sweat, hiker funk. That hotel room smelled something fierce.

I hiked out to Abol in the morning. I remember planning this meet-up point before I started walking. I remember imagining this place and wondering if I would come there with friends or alone.

I imagined it nothing like it was, but the reality was beyond expectation…as usual.

I walked the road up to the tiny country store and bought a coffee. I sat there for awhile in the cold sprinkles of rain. Hunters came and went, each one giving me mixed glances. I watched them pull in and show off their kills. Huge creatures, towering limbs of brown crammed onto trailers. It was strange to see the moose (meeses hehe…) in the wilds, then to see them laid out on trailers. It was so amazing to even see a moose up close that I wasn’t phased by the blood and contorted looks of fear left empty in their eyes. I sat on the picnic table until Mother Earth and Kevin arrived.

They brought me Birthday presents, long needed hugs and most importantly…a box of Tim Horton donuts.Evidently this pick-up spot was down the Golden Road…a twenty mile wash-board dirt road. My parents were driving an unreliable Prius knockoff, so the ride to town was rather humorous. We slid all over in the mud, dodging logging trucks and hunters.

When we arrived in town it started pouring. The rain didn’t let up for days, so I waited…anxious that the mountain might get snow and close for the season or that the road might become impassable.

The next day I was worried, so I called Yonder and Tattoo to invite them to our hotel for the night. I found them drenched, walking by the side of the road. When we got back to the hotel we ran back and forth in our underwear/hiking clothes between the pool and sauna.

I spent the day watching it storm. I wanted to hike that last bit into Baxter and the guys agreed to do it, mostly out of concern I think. The regular trail was flooded and it was in the weather report to rain 10 inches on Oct. 1, but we tried it anyhow.

Ending is Bittersweet

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September 28 2015: Last night in the woods

I got an early start. I knew it was my last day on trail and I wanted to do at least twenty miles, like the good old days. I walked steadily all day, stopping at Rainbow Ledges to call Flask and my parents.

I arranged to meet them in the morning at Abol Bridge. I wanted to take a day off because it was going to rain…it was going to rain a lot. I didn’t realize how dangerous that rain would prove to be…

I had a fantastic day: I didn’t see another living soul and I was glad for it. I stealth camped near Abol Bridge. I made my camp as usual, ate dinner and lit an incense. I was happy and at peace. It was my last night in the woods before the end.

Trail Log:

Ending is Bittersweet

How sad it is to realize that people can hike over 2,000 miles and still not care about one another. On this journey I learned to love and care for everyone regardless of my own dispositions. The trail community has taught me to care for strangers.

In the beginning, we all had to adjust and lose our emotional baggage, our judgements. It was easy to laugh and push ourselves out of our comfort zone. We all bonded in the common struggle.

Throughout the middle portion of the hike  I found a group of individuals, loosely organized, who I learned to love more deeply. I connected with them and we pulled one another along during the hardest of times.

Near the end of this hike I was injured and lost my connections. I tried to make new friends, but no one could replace the happiness and laughter I shared with that group. I couldn’t reconnect to hikers during this part of my hike. Instead I found support from my trail angels. They showed me how to love strangers again and again.

And now, at the end, I find myself much like I was at the beginning. Are we all just going back things the way they were before? How sad that is.

On this trip I have realized  that there is something I want to do in my life. I want my own place out in the natural world where I can grow my own food. I want a place where I can make my peace with the world and hopefully provide support to those who need it.

Tonight is my last night  camping on trail and I am spending it  in the way that I love most- stealthed in a nice little spot, alone, doing my own thing. These were the nights in which I got to know myself.

I wish I could have spent this night with all my trail friends, but everyone has finished. It’s so difficult  to let this end. It really ended a long time ago for me, when I lost my hiking buddies.  I’ve learned a lot through my struggle, but the second half or rather the last two months, have been very painful. Even memories of happiness are painful right now. I wish my good memories were healing, but they just remind me of what is missing.

Today I hiked 21 miles- to finish trail in the way that I always loved most.I am going to miss hiking. I am going to miss all of those beautiful random moments. And I don’t think I will ever be able to let go of those moments we never shared. I have a strong sense of loss. I hope we get to fill those empty possibilities with new memories.  I look forward to that- it drives me to finish. When I was walking today I was reminded of my 33 mile day- I felt as if I were hiking towards you and that you’d be somewhere if I kept walking.

I am so glad that this is ending because I am tired and broken down, but I will miss this life. I will miss the woods as a part of myself.

People say that it is the journey and not the destination. The experience of hiking is what constructs the hike. Many people judged me for hiking hard, and said that I was missing the experience, but the trail is still there, even when you move quickly, it just looks different. Hike your own hike. No hike is better or worse than another. I loved doing big miles and I love the experiences I had while doing so- this is when trail was most alive for me. No one should feel poorly about or judge the way others hike (or yellow blaze) this is simply a reflection of ego.  Hike your own hike in the face of judgment, there is no need to justify or prove yourself to anyone as long as you are blossoming, growing, learning, laughing, loving—this is all the justification you will ever need in life. Life is beautiful, share it with grace, respect and dignity. Until we meet again.

Happy Trails.

“Happiness is only real when shared.” Alexander Supertramp

 

Lunar Eclipse:Night hike to a view

09-27-2015

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My mom took this picture^ We were both out watching the eclipse that night ^_^

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Mr. Bill’s knife and Mama K

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I said goodbye to Flask and walked off to complete the last bit of trail. As soon as we parted I saw a moose! I spent the day walking at a good pace. In the evening I stopped at a campsite on a lake so I could watch the eclipse.

After awhile the campsite got overrun with other hikers. It was a small site, and I wasn’t feeling social, so I packed my gear and left right after sunset. I watched the big yellow moon rise over the lake as the eclipse started. I got to the base of Nesuntabunt Mountain and found an empty shelter. I could see the eclipse through the thick pine forest throughout the night. Gradually the light was dimming and the moon was glowing red.

The climb up the mountain was difficult to follow in the dark. It went up through large cascades of boulders and I kept losing track of the white blazes. Every so often I would stop, feeling lost, and frantically look around for trail markers. The forest grew darker and darker as the night went on and my headlamp kept going out because it was broken. I kept seeing the forest flash in and out of existence. Every so often a white blaze would flash by.

I found my headlamp in a hiker box. The battery cover was broken and I had tied it together with a headband for the past few months. My hiker trash headlamp made the journey up the mountain a terrifying experience. When the light went out, I would stop and calmly look at the moon. After a few moments of darkness I retied the headband and continued my trek.

When I got to the top of the mountain I found two tents set up in the middle of trail. I was profoundly annoyed because I wanted to keep walking, but the signage was right between the tents. I picked a direction and apologized for disturbing the hikers then continued onward. I didn’t get far when I realized that I had chosen the incorrect direction.

The trail steeply fell away, and I found myself standing at the edge of a rocky cliff. I felt fear on trail a number of times, but this was true terror.  I sat down and looked out to Katahdin and above me was the full-lunar eclipse, a giant blood red moon. I searched nearby the viewpoint for a flat spot to camp because I didn’t know where the trail continued. I found a nice stealth site…OFF-TRAIL o.o and pitched my tent for the night.

In the morning I woke to watch the sunrise in the distance. I sat at the viewpoint and ate my oatmeal. I was thinking about Mr. Bill, so I took a picture of his knife with the mountain in the distance. This was the most breathtaking night I experienced on trail, certainly a grand finale.

Ha ha ha- A little side note: I looked up the meaning of Nesuntabunt Mountain…”Three humps”—the mountain has three summits and is surrounded by granite cliffs.

Antlers Campsite with Flask

09-26-2015

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I defrosted my frozen hands by a campfire this morning. I walked on ahead of everyone. I remember my hands being swollen from the cold. My face was puffy, and I was nervous to see Flask again. He was hiking sobo from Jo-Mary road. I climbed over a mountain and on the way down I saw Flask. He looked strange in his nice clothing. He had on a new fleece and smelled clean. He looked like a different person, but I recognized his pack.

He handed me an apple and we tried to hug each other. It took us a good couple tries to realize that we were stretching our arms around two backpacks. It was like two turtles trying to hug. Eventually we realized we could take our packs off.

We walked together back to his car at Jo-Mary road and he unloaded two grocery bags of snacks. I was overwhelmed because I was starving. I had eaten all of my snacks and the ones in my resupply bin were obviously not enough to get me out of the 100 mi. wilderness. I was carrying stale English muffins and a few other awful food items which Flask traded out for amazing snacks.He brought things I had never eaten on trail, so it was like thanksgiving in the woods.

Yonder and Tattoo left a note on the truck saying goodbye, so I had mixed feelings about the day. I was excited to see Flask, but I was alone again in the long run.I usually reveled in being alone, but it seemed impossible to get away from people in the 100 mile wilds. All the hikers slowed way down and crowded the campsites.

Flask and I walked to antlers campsite and watched the full harvest moon rise over the lake. The sky was deep pink and blue. It was a nice night. We made plans to see each other after trail and in the morning walked opposite ways.

I found the world’s smallest pine cone which I slipped into Flask’s pocket when he left.

 

 

100 Mile Wilderness

9/23-25/2015

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The hiker trap

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My first view of Mt. Katahdin

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We started into the 100 mile wilderness today. Only one dirt road crosses trail in this span. I thought the wilderness would be a place of solitude, but I found it to be crowded and mostly unpleasant.

The first few days were rough. I was hiking as hard as possible to get to the road on my birthday. Flask and I had been communicating about meeting up and it seemed that it might actually happen.

I saw a moose, a weasel and many beautiful views on this section of trail. It was rugged and the temps. were getting low at night. We had a cold snap that was throwing me back to those colds first nights on trail. On the 25th the temp. got down to 17 degrees. We made a morning fire to unfreeze out fingers.

On this section of trail I started encountering a group of hikers that I really disliked. I tried to make friends with them, but they had a problem with everything I did. They were grouchy and controlling. I wanted to ask them: “Why are you here? Why don’t you just go home?”

This group was also extremely territorial about campsites. I felt pushed out or rather crowded out of every site I shared with them. I felt unwelcome in a free place. It was very discouraging to find, that after so much hiking, they hadn’t learned anything from trail. I wondered how much of the trail they had actually hiked because they acted like inconsiderate section hikers.

I was so happy to be seeing Flask again. I needed to be reminded of what it was like to be loved and to love.

 

 

Lift N’ Step finishes her Thru-hike, Monson

9-22-2015

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We had a short hike to town in the morning. Lift N’ Step and I walked out to the AT crossing on the highway and caught a ride into Monson with an Australian tourist. He was from a place very near to where Lift N’ Step was from and offered her a ride to the city. We all had lunch together and said a quick goodbye. She was gone so suddenly that it was difficult for my brain to register.

Congratulations Lift N’ Step!!!!! It was inspiring to hear about how you were taken from trail and had the guts to get on where your group was in the face of not finishing the entire AT. Then you came back and shared an adventure with me! You are amazing. I’m so glad that I met you ❤

Yonder, Tattoo and I hitched to a grocery store and got supplies for the 100 mile wilderness. We bought a drop bucket and put some extra supplies in it, but I ended up giving most of those away as Flask met me in the middle of the wilderness.

We left Monson and found a tiny stealth site just up trail.

Trail Horror Story: The Worm

9-21-2015

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Today was great. Lovely hiking and awesome views! We did some calm stream crossings today. Maine is gorgeous. I could stay here forever.

In the evening I met a hiker named Hollywood who gave me a note. It was a message from my friends who had finished in the beginning of the month. It was very sweet to get a note from them after feeling pretty forgotten. Hollywood seemed really tired, he’d been delayed a bit due to injury so we didn’t really get to chat.

I gathered damp, rotting wood from the forest and tried to get a decent fire going. It took so long to get started that I went to bed soon after it was going. I crawled into my tent and snuggled in for the night. I read my note a few times and then fell asleep. I head a faint crinkling of a plastic bag as I fell asleep. I thought maybe it was a mouse on my fly, but I was sure that my zippers were tightly closed.

In the middle of the night I woke, from a deep sleep to a strange sensation. I felt something in my ear. Without thinking I brushed my hand along my ear to find something slimy half submerged in my ear. Instantly I grabbed the handful of something and threw it into the darkness. I gave out an involuntary yelp. I grabbed my headlamp and clicked on the light to see this larger than life, little arms grubbing, black bulging eyes, giant maggot looking worm inching towards me. I grabbed it and yelled again, flinging it out of my tent and weeping.

I figure the cold 20 degree weather must have driven it into the warmth of my ear, and I probably picked it up gathering the rotted wood for the fire. For the next few days I was singing Hey You by Pink Floyd.

 

 

 

Crossing the Kennebec River

9-19-2015

Pictures from Lift N’ Step

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My phone died in the cold nights towards the end of trail and I took the last of my film pictures at breakfast (they didn’t turn out)!

We hiked across a bridge of logs and palettes half sunken in the mud back to trail. It was a lovely walk to the Kennebec River laden with picturesque waterfalls. When we got to the river we watched as the ferry canoed across to get us. Yonder had already crossed and was waiting on the other side. Lift N’ Step and I climbed in and paddled across the wide river.

On the other side we hitched a ride to Caratunk and rented a four person tent at the resort. In the afternoon Yonder’s old hiking buddy Tattoo caught up with us! We hitched a ride to the nearest gas station and bought a ton of cheap beer, walked to a nearby rafting company and had dinner on the cheap. The resort was too pricey for all of us and attracted a crowd we didn’t really want to hang with.

We met a guide ending his rafting season who offered us a ride back to the resort. He was living out of his car, so we did a little re-arranging and crammed into his tiny mobile house.

That night I got pretty drunk and rummaged through the woods to find what little wood I could so we could have a fire. We celebrated Yonder’s reunion with Tattoo! I was super happy that Yonder now had a hiking buddy too. He seemed like he really needed his friend. We had a fun hiking group from Caratunk to Monson, where Lift N’ Step officially finished her previous thru-hike!!!!

 

Pierce Pond

09-18-2015

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I woke this morning and had breakfast during sunrise. We hiked along muddy flat trails all day. It was nice walking. We stopped for the night at Pierce Pond Shelter. The shelter had a sad story connected to it. A hiker had walked all those miles to this shelter and went for a swim. The water in Maine is cold, it cramped his muscles and he drowned. The story was posted up as it had happened recently.

Yonder, Lift N’ Step and I walked down to the Pierce Pond Lodge, about 1/4 mi off trail and put in our names for a pancake breakfast. Lift N’ Step kindly bought me breakfast as I was reluctant to sign up. It was fun to look in the book and find the names of my friends who had passed through months ago.

 

Flagstaff Lake

9-17-2015

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I stole some photos from Yonder

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Trail Log: Poems

Flagstaff Lake

 

Calls echo

From distant hopes

A voice ceases

The leaves are changing colors

Calls echo

In the neon leaves of spring

The forest is louder than the city

Calls echo

Awake for long summer days

The forest is thick and dark

I learned to believe

Calls echo.

The cold streams are overflowing

It is time to go home and be silent

 

The Knife

I carried this here hoping I could put it in your hand when I finished. I can’t even say goodbye. I never could say goodbye, so I’m just going to keep carrying you to that place we were going. I’m sorry I can’t tell you what it’s seen or the world I’ve been taking your memory through. The funny thing is , when I look at it—it seems completely devoid of meaning without you in the world…It’s lost its power.

Sunset Balance

The sun and moon both set over

The same mountains tonight.

Dark clouds covered by bright stars

A beautiful world fades into the distance.

 

Lift N’ Step and I hiked down the Bigelows today. Yonder ran on ahead somewhere. We stopped for a cold dip in the “baths,” naturally formed swimming holes in a pretty stream. It was a nice day and we walked onward to a campsite near Flagstaff Lake. We found a really nice beach to stay at and decided to camp right on the beach. A reasonably large group of people came in for the night. We went for a swim and accidentally found our neighbors skinny dipping in the campsite next to us.  As with most nudists: middle aged males. So we swam away quickly.

We enjoyed the last warm days before fall on this part of trail. It was 80 degrees and beautiful. I was thinking this was one of the greatest days I spent in Maine until I turned on my phone.

I was glad to have had such a wonderful day to counter-balance the message I received. A close family friend had died. Mr. Bill passed away, and I hadn’t even known. I could check my messages, but I couldn’t get a call out from the lake. I was hit with a heavy sadness. The lake took on a peaceful, tranquil and thoughtful character for me, rather than the sunny, bright joy it had before. I spent the night quietly thinking by the fire. I tried not to seem sad, but everyone knew I was pretty down.

For a long time I played with the knife he had given my mom to take on trail.It was a knife he carried with him for a long time, his personal totem almost. Every man should have a knife and this one he had made himself. My mom had lent it to me to take along the trail. I wanted to give it back to him when I finished, but trail had taken me too long. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this sadness stuck with me. Flagstaff lake was probably one of the best places to ponder existence.

 

 

 

The Bigelows

9-16-2015

 

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These mountains were by far some of my favorites on trail. We had a warm, clear, sunshine glorious kind of day.

Yonder, Lift N’ Step and I hiked out of town today. We all decided to climb the mountain at our own pace because it was intense. This was one of my first great views of Maine. When we got to the top of the mountain I sat there for two hours soaking up the sunshine.

That night Yonder and I stayed at the campground up in between the peaks. After awhile up came Lift N’ Step!!!! We cowboy camped on the group camping platform because it was deserted. We couldn’t find any water, so we all shared. The stars were incredible, but it was a cold night on the mountain. Fall was certainly coming.

The Crockers and 2,000 Miles

9-15-2015

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We got up early and climbed the Crockers today! The sun was out and everything was super clear after the rain. Throughout this section I was reminded of western trails because we had steep rocky climbs up vertical faces and views at talus slopes.

From the top of the Crockers we didn’t get much of a view, which was mostly disappointing. We had a good snack and discussed going into town later to eat a nice celebration dinner.

At the bottom of the mountain we found a really nice break spot. We sat there a long time watching the sunlight filter in through the trees. We had no idea that we were about 20 feet from the 2,000 mi marker (there were several). I was pretty stoked to hit 2,000 and it reminded me of 1,000 mi when I was hiking with Bloop Bleep and Just Mike.

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It was weird to get memories of trail while being on trail. Life seemed so extended. It was as if I had lived several lives over the past six months.

After the marker we went into Stratton Maine to stay with another hostel owned by the Farmhouse Inn. This hostel was much more down to earth. It was old and grungy, and I loved it. The town barely existed, but they had beer and food!!!! All the guys were doing work for stay at the Farmhouse and came over for the night.

Here comes the Sun

9-14-2015

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Lift N’ Step and I wandered through the fog all day. Our views were obscured by clouds, but the sun was trying to burn through creating this weird Orb of light. Eventually the clouds broke and we got a view. We watched storms roll away from us and rainbows form. I’m really glad I got to share that view with another person. It was probably one of the best. Rainbows make the rain worth hiking through!

We slowly descended a very steep portion of trail down to a large stream with campsites. We had a lovely campsite, but it rained a good portion of the night.

 

 

Leaving Rangeley in the storm!

9/13/2015

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I left town in the morning. My hosts seemed worried, but I wanted to get back on trail. I knew it would be a rough climb over Saddleback in the rain, but I felt prepared! Lift N’ Step was the only other person heading back to trail with me.

We hopped out of the car in our rain jackets and took off! I ran ahead to get warm and was trying to puff myself up for the big climb. I walked the exposed ridge alone, wind whipping by. Just before treeline I decided it was too cold and put on my pants in the middle of trail. It was a cold moment reminiscent to the sleet storm coming out of Neels Gap in Tennessee. I stood there in my underwear next to the Apline zone warning sign, scurrying to get my pants on. When I hit tree line a blast of cold air hit. I ran as quickly as possible to get across the three exposed miles. Somewhere around 2 miles in I met an older gentleman who expressed worry for me. He said, “You’ve got a lot more of exposed hiking coming up.” But I knew he had a lot more coming up than I did, so the worry was mutual. I wondered about Lift N’ Step, but I had to keep pushing to get down out of the wind and rain. The descent from Saddleback was muddy and slick. I tired to master the art of falling without injury. I slid down off the mountain into the warmth of a campsite surrounded by the forest of death. I was out of the Whites, but it felt just as treacherous.

I got water at the site and had a snack. I really wanted to be in a shelter so I kept walking. I got to the next shelter really early and an older gentleman was already set up. He was happy to have company and we chatted away as I got my spot all settled for the night.

Two other gentlemen walked by, saying something about not liking shelters. They were interesting characters, but no mouse was going to move me from my warm, sheltered bed.

I was super excited when Lift N’ Step arrived, but she had a friend with her who I was somewhat familiar with. The lady hiking with her had started numerous fights on trail (fist fights between men) and she dampened my mood slightly.

Then, to my great disappointment, Chords arrived. I was trying to lose him by hiking out in the storm. I figured they probably kicked him out of town.

It poured all night. Even in the shelter we found the cold infiltrating. We shared stories and tried our best to enjoy the rain! For the next few days Lift N’ Step and I walked together. I didn’t usually walk with anyone and it had been a long time since I’d hiked right with another person. It was a warming experience. I found something I had missed very dearly.

Thanks for being an awesome trail buddy Lift N’ Step!!! We walked through a lot of rain, mud, rivers, roots and rocks together.

 

Rangeley, Maine

9/11-12/2015

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I took off in the fog this morning. I was feeling more exhausted than usual because we’d been staying up late. I usually slept at 9pm every night and woke at sunrise. These guys stayed up until midnight, but I still got up at 5:30 am.

I didn’t see a single hiker today. It was lightly raining all day. I passed the lake with the canoes. I thought about taking one out, but they all seemed…questionable and it was raining. I was pretty sad, because I really couldn’t justify taking a canoe out by myself. I was thinking about Flask today, as he had told me he might go back to Rangeley to do some work for stay. I was so convinced that he might be there, as he had finished trail already.

I sat and cried, then cheered myself up with a sort of mindfulness. The loons were out serenading me, so as usual, I transcended my emotions with nature. What an incredible place to take for granted. I realized how incredibly fortunate I was to be there, sitting on a beach in Maine, listening to the loons echo as the fog danced and swirled over the lake.

I walked out to the road crossing for Rangeley and encountered more trail magic. I met superman, king of the trail bros. I wasn’t a huge fan of trail frats, so I politely talked with them, keeping a safe distance. I was lucky enough to be rescued by the owner of the Farmhouse Inn, the hostel I had arranged to stay at! I waited five minutes and he arrived. I scampered into the truck and anxiously arrived in Rangeley, Maine.

I loved the Farmhouse. Thank you!!!! Thank you! Thank you!!!

Although…I was completely heartbroken that Flask wasn’t there. He never planned on being there. He went home; he didn’t even tell me the day he climbed Mama K. I didn’t know what to think, so I grabbed a Shel Silverstein book off a bookshelf and read it as a distraction. I read and listened all night as the loons sang out on Rangeley Lake.

9-12-2015

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I took a day off in Rangeley to recover from my exhausting week. I needed a day of peace and quiet after all the parties. It was hard enough walking. To party and walk was too much for me.

I kept to myself for most of the day. I went to town and had some coffee, did laundry, resupplied, bought a disposable camera (the rest of my pictures are on expired film), I got new hiking poles!!!! from my parents, switched to Aquamira since my filer was clogged and wrote poetry.

Today I met Lift N Step, who hiked most of the trail from here to Monson with me.

I made a post of my poem in Rangeley, and I think that it would be best to re-share it. It was most certainly inspired by Shel Silverstein’s, Where The Sidewalk Ends. I addressed it to my mom, who I wished for more than ever, and wrote it for Flask, who had originally taken the trail name Loon.

Loon

 

 

Trail Magic Tortoise

9-10-2015

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Dabs, Tortoise, Captain, Six12

The next day I walked off bright and early. I climbed up over Old Blue and trekked onward. I wanted to make it a great distance today. It was  a lovely hike over solid rock and through mud bogs. I was always baffled to find a mud bog on top of a mountain. I ate my fill in blueberries today.

I wanted to make it to the lake just before Rangeley, but got caught again at trail magic. Tortoise was there again, on a logging road just before the highway crossing. Six12 started playing frisbee and it was all over. We had an awesome campsite, and Tortoise wanted to have a big grill out for his last night in the woods. We went on a booze run to town and drove out through the timber mining area.

It was a strange perspective of Maine. To walk through it’s wilderness, then drive out to find everything stripped and sold. It was similar to walking through the farmlands in Virginia.

Later in the evening we drove out to a lake, mostly because we got lost coming back to camp, and watched the sunset!

It was a fun night, but I was really done with the party at this point. Many thanks to Tortoise for the awesome trail magic! I’ve never had a trail angel camp out with hikers, that was too cool!

 

Solo in Maine

9-9-2015

 

In the morning we were essentially kicked out of the Cabin. I needed a ride to town too, so I was both angry at the actions of the hikers and angry at my hosts for associating me with that group. Our hosts packed us into a pick-up and dumped us off in town. Backpacks went flying out of the car and were strewn about by the side of the road at the main intersection in town.

Everyone was pretty dejected and hungover. A lot of the guys decided to hitchhike onward. I was the only hiker that walked out towards trail. I tired hitching back to the AT for two miles as I walked. It was an eight mile road walk on a deserted country road back to trail. I had enough food to make it back to trail and call it a day if I liked. A couple cars drove by me, no luck.

Then a car passed going into town. About ten minutes later it passed again going towards trail. The tiny pick-up pulled over and a middle-aged guy was driving. He told me he just took a thru-hiker to town and saw me, thought he’d offer a ride since he was doing a Sobo section hike for the holiday weekend. He seemed legit, so I hopped in and we chatted all the way back to trail. He was so amazed by thru-hikers that it made talking fun. He had all his bulky section hiker gear in the back of the truck, mostly military surplus stuff. I tipped him off to some nice campsites sobo and he was super excited.

When we got to trail, he walked off south and I walked north.

I walked most of the day alone. I crossed over a few rough mountains with re-bar and steep climbs. The trail here seemed very wild. I got the feeling that it wasn’t really maintained and likely, not walked by most hikers. A lot of people skipped the section after Andover because there was an easier access point further up trail.

I couldn’t find a nice campsite on the mountain and it was getting late, so I opted to walk down to the next road crossing and stealth there. When I got to the road there was more trail magic and three of my fellow “hikers” sitting in lawn chairs. I was happy to see a few familiar faces. It felt safer camping near the road with them, something I always tried to avoid. Unfortunately, my creepy friend was there too.

The guy doing trail magic was named Tortoise. He was a fun person, who decided to camp out with us. In the evening he drove us to town and we had dinner during a bad rainstorm. As much as I hated going to town this often, it was nice to be around a trail angel.

 

The Cabin, Andover

9-8-2015

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The Bald Peats

I caught Yonder this morning. He was waiting with Dabs and Six 12 at the next Shelter. It was a foggy, cold morning. The guys were hanging out, waiting around, listening to music. It was nice to see them all in good spirits. I was genuinely worried about Yonder, so it was a happy moment to see him laughing with friends.

We walked to the next road crossing together to meet up with Yonder’s friend who had trail magic set-up. We sat for a long time and chatted with them. hey fed us burgers and beers. This was the person that named Yonder, the person who made him come to life on trail. For me, being named was a rite of passage. It made me wonder about Moonbow and Lightning Bug; someone told me they stopped hiking in the Whites.

We managed to hitch a ride to town in the back of a pick-up. I followed the guys to town because I was told that we were invited to The Cabin. The Cabin was a very nice hostel, run by very kind people. But the party bubble was there in force. It turned out that we were not invited. This was not a party place.

I’d like to formally apologize for the actions of hikers who stayed at The Cabin, especially those of you who did not pay. It was nothing less of a shit show.

 

Mahoosuc Notch

9-7-2015

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I had a bad night before the notch. I camped out in the woods, as far as I could get from everyone. I wanted to keep walking, but I knew what was ahead. I left before sunrise in the morning. I caught the sunrise on top of the mountain and wandered towards the Notch. It is rumored to be the hardest mile on the AT. I yelled and laughed and frolicked through it’s caverns. I had a lot of fun in the notch. I used my trekking poles like little hooks and pulled my way through. I did it alone. I didn’t see a single person in the notch that day.

I climbed over the next mountain and walked down to the next gap. Some tourists fed me watermelon, and I climbed up to the next shelter. I stopped early to wait for Yonder, who passed  by me and went on over the next mountain thinking I had done a big day. I picked up a pest at this shelter named Chords. He haunted me on trail for the next week or so…he was by far the creepiest hiker I encountered on trail. He only left when I started hiking with Lift N Step.

I met Chesapeake, Tink and Horse today!

Trail Log:

Sunrise and the Notch

I told him I was going and I went. He told me he didn’t care. I believed him, but he lied.

Why did he lie?

Why does he pretend?

This is what happens when people don’t communicate.

I am so sad. I wish it would stop. I have to pull through this, as usual I pull through this alone. I should be getting better at this, but the world just keeps beating me up.

 

Maine

9-6-2015

We made it to the last state today!!!!0906151117-000906151221-010906151346-00

Yonder and I packed in shots to the border! I took a shot of 99 Bananas because I thought it was funny…it was awful!!!!

Trail Log:

Life is beautiful. Even when it hurts more than I can bear, I can make it through and come out wiser, braver and stronger than I was before. I am growing.

Just entered Maine today. The mountains were beautiful. Today was perhaps my favorite days in existence.

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Yonder and I got into a fight. We’d been hiking a lot together. I kept telling him about Flask, but I don’t think he believed me. I told him over and over, but he seemed so unimpressed with what mattered a whole lot to me. We were great friends for awhile, then it all went downhill. Yonder is leaving soon. I’m okay with it, but he wavers. I wish he would just go.

I made a list to reflect on. It’s very personal, but I said I would put it all on here! Here is a list that reflects my mental struggles encountered on trail.

Troubles:

Hiking in the bubble sucks…they ruin hiker resources with their parties. The magic of the Appalachian Trail is being destroyed/abused.

I am tired and exhausted. I feel like I care more about others than they care about me.

I am constantly in pain

I have nowhere to go when I finish trail. Nowhere of my own

I am having trouble being open to possibilities

I am lonely when others are around and at peace when I am alone. But as a female I am not allowed to be alone because it “isn’t safe.” And as a person because “that makes me selfish.”

I feel used.

I don’t feel like a person.

My lifestyle degrades me in the eyes of modern society.

People do not understand my lifestyle or view and cannot help even when they try to help.

My family is not proud of me.

Everyone plays the pissing contest. Few people are genuine.

Everyday conversations are boring. I refuse to participate

Happy interactions like hugging, smiling, cuddling, hiking, talking, watching a beautiful sunset, looking out over a view…make me upset because they remind me of someone who isn’t here.

Solved troubles:

No fear.

I don’t worry about being judged. I don’t like judgmental people.

I am amazing. I do amazing things. I don’t need external validation or to feed my ego.

I love people’s problems. It makes them unique…except when they are mean. Mean people suck.

I choose to move with the world rather than pursue my own desires.

I no longer plan.

What I want does not matter. What I do matters and provides me with what I need. Wanting is a waste of energy.

I am being social again!

I know how to love.

Gorham, Nh

8/4-5/2015

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Yonder and I went into town for resupply, but as we were walking back to trail a car pulled over. A couple were inside and asked us if we needed a place to stay in trade for work. We said sure and they took us to their luxury bed and breakfast. Our rooms were half finished and being remodeled. I helped pick veggies and cleaned the finished rooms downstairs while yonder did demolition. I wanted to help with demo, but I had yet another injury. At Crawford notch my sock developed a hole and ripped off skin surrounding one of my toes. After a week of hiking, my toe got infected. One of our hosts was a nurse, who told me to soak it in salt water and demanded that I take a few days off in Gorham. Our hosts were very kind and fed us home cooked meals every night. I really enjoyed my time with them, but I was very frustrated that I couldn’t hike, once again.

Trail Log:

Gorham

How do I move on after so much grief?

Half finished walls, flaking paint and boards disintegrating from age. The tools of a workman and dust caking every surface. Once completed, but always in need of repair. This is where I dwell. In spaces between rafters, in unfinished houses, drafty, busy with work rather than places of refuge from the world. I no longer seek refuge, but hope to provide it. Falling ceilings, missing bits of floor, half-painted walls- perpetual nomadism. One old building to another, ripping, tearing, shredding, yelling, crying. I dwell in the splintering of wood. I dwell in a broken heart.

I revel in the newly opened spaces. “There used to be a wall there.”

The residue of closed off solidity that holds us to some sort of standard- of what we once were. To survive, to really live, I must change.

I fall in love so often with strangers. A curse of the imagination. I am sure, but I have come to realize and accept perhaps that the person I love never existed except in my believing the best of people. Maybe I just love myself.

What horrors I have heard in the whispering, splintering and cracking of falling trees.

I have met more people than I ever hope to know.

She said to me “Being alone is this horrible place where you are left to wonder: Am I such a horrible person? Am I so bad that no one wants to be around me?”

This struck me funny because I enjoy being alone. The majority of people I meet need too much of my energy. They exhaust me and I only find peace when I am alone.

After her comment she proceeded to leave me alone. She said something very clearly that perhaps she hadn’t meant to say.

People like this I don’t care to know. I told her to do what makes her happy. I am better alone. I know that people love me. I hope someday that she realizes her own closed doors and tears them out.

Happiness comes in the strangest forms.

So why then, am I so sad?

Why do I mourn someone who hasn’t died and who perhaps never was who I thought they were to begin with?

I have new doubts about my perceptions because my friend turned out to be such a rotten person. What if my lover is the same? What if I was blinded by the overwhelming nature of trail?

How do I forgive myself for being so open?

How do I stop this? My love is draining away. I feel my spirit becoming bitter. What should be happy, what should be joyous only brings tears to my eyes. How do I turn this pain into strength and overcome this overwhelming sense of loss?

A mantra:

I am okay with the world as it is and with myself the way that I am.

A fluid way of being, rotten wood and rivers flowing smooth and slow. The leaves are changing and I feel the season coming round. So much has passed and now it begins again. How do I begin again?

How deeply I have gone, like being far underwater, looking up at everyone on the surface. These shallow people, not realizing the thick dimensionality of the world, not realizing that happiness is more than pleasure. How full my world is, how filled my mind has become and somehow it is also open, flowing, empty.

But there is one clog.

This solid heavy sadness that I can’t shake. Almost realized, almost seen, then lost to the shallow flux.

I wish I could show you what I see. How Full and Empty. How indescribably perfect the world is- I am overwhelmed- I wish I could share it all with you, but you refuse.

Everything will be ok. I can let you go.

Rattling River Shelter

9-3-2015

Rattling River Shelter

When I hiked to the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains I did it with a group of Roadrunner, Sota’ Sam, Chewy and this other guy, Greg?

Well he showed up last night at Rattling River. I hadn’t seen him since that cold morning in Tennessee. His name was now Outlier. We chatted about our hikes and marveled at how we managed to run into one another on the fringes of our hike.

Springer -> Great Smokies: 280 mi

White Mountains -> Katahdin: 300 miles

Lovely shelter…too cold for a swim.

Trail Log:

Wildcats

I am in love with someone who does not exist. I think every hopeless romantic feels this way. I love so many people, who in their slumber, their mild fear and preoccupation, forget what it means to love.

How do I love the selfish?

And when will they learn that self seeking begins in others? There are only false separations. What people call God seems to be the movement of our bodies through space, reflecting one another. “Happiness is only real when shared”—and no one is sharing.

My friend got back on trail to hike with me, and when it came to the point at which she should have stayed—she walked right by me.

I understood, and I told her to do what she needs to do to finish, to be happy. But I am deeply hurt. We will not share happiness together again. She even made a comment that when she is alone, she feels like it is because she deserves to be alone. What a terrible way to say goodbye.

Many people on this trail want to be “part of the party,” part of something bigger, to be where magic is happening— but when they go searching they never really find it. They find rough copy of it. Magic only exists where you aren’t looking. So if you shift the looking maybe it could be everywhere always.

People like to pair oppositions —happy, sad, good, bad, pretty, ugly, mean, nice, win, lose. Maybe these concepts would have more meaning if they were defined in their own right. Maybe if these ideas were situated they would have more meaning. Words are dead without the reality that surrounds them. It’s the difference between looking and seeing.

Wildcats

9-2-2015

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Looking back at the Presidential Range from Wildcats

Trail Log:

Sunset on Carter’s Dome: To Flask

If there were one moment I wish I could share with you- this would be it. The distant mountains are dark blue outlines in the haze of twilight. I know you stood here and looked out over this view.

Somehow, looking out here from this perspective, I know that everything will be alright. I’m not worried about seeing you again or making that happen because I know it will happen. Without a doubt or a plan- I will see you again. We both saw this same sight and although you aren’t here right now— we shared this experience.

For the first time I know that everything will be ok.

I can’t wait for us to know each other.

This sunset reminds me of my first backpack on the east coast. My dad and I hiked Joyce Kilmer in the fall. I remember how different hiking was then. How differently I thought of it and how differently I approached it. Thru-hiking has no foreseeable end and no determined plan because of the duration. Hiking was set before. We hiked to destinations and walking was not something I was used to doing.  It was once different from everyday life.

Now I just drift with it.

 

 

Navigating Trail Magic

08/31/2015-09/01/2015

We took a couple days off in Lancaster and stayed with the Twelve Tribes again. I really enjoyed being with the cult. I don’t have much to say here, because we were resting. Lots of hikers passed through. I met tunes; tunes was pretty awesome!

I met Samwise again a few days after he finished trail (we originally met in Mass.). He was heading home, but he was having this dilemma of seeing Dirty Peanut before he left. I told him he might never see her again and that he should probably go to Gorham to say goodbye, even if it cost him his ride to Boston.

I enjoyed watching him make his decision. As we were being dropped back off on trail, he hopped in the van, last second, and got off in Gorham. The two embraced each other with running hugs as we drove away. I don’t think he made the most practical decision, but it seemed like the right one. It gave me some hope. It’s the little things that are so very big in life. Those stupid, spontaneous and often reckless things that can change the underlying direction for all practical decisions that follow. I think that this might be the origin of Trail Magic.

Pinkham Notch

8-30-2015

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I woke up puffy eyed and dehydrated this morning after a freezing night on the mountain. I got very little sleep due to the wind. I got my gear together with thoughts of getting hot leftovers at the hut. I stood up to take off and grabbed my hiking poles, one of which fell in half. o.o

I stood there for a moment staring at my broken trekking pole. My cheap, off-brand poles made it so far, why now?! A screw had broken and the internal hardware had disintegrated. I pack out the pieces and Yonder lent me one of his trekking poles to descend Mt. Madison with. I was very thankful because Madison was largely boulder hopping down a steep ridge line.

At the bottom I stopped at the Pinkham Notch ranger station and picked up my resupply. I had planned to run the whites as quickly as possible, and now my resupplies seemed almost humorous. I left the contents of my box in the donation bin at the ranger station. We were getting a ride into Lancaster to stay with the twelve tribes again. As we waited we hung out with Crispy, Ropeburn and Strunky.

When we got to the hostel I dug through many broken trekking pole parts to Frankenstein a new pole. It was ridiculous, but it worked until I got to Rangeley, Me.

I spent the night preparing the hostel for a large group of hikers who turned out to be Cinderella, Wildboy and their group! It was a fun night at the hostel.

Trail Log:

Mt. Washington

A month ago I was sitting on top of a fire tower in Vermont. I looked out into the salmon pink sunset and thought “North.”

The blue shades of mountains were pulling me north. “I’m coming for you.” I thought of the White Mountains. I looked into the distance and for the first time since my injury I thought that I could do it.

“I’m going to Maine.”

I still couldn’t walk. I limped around camp and still popped pills every morning. The next morning I woke up before sunrise and hiked back up to the tower. I sat on those worn wooden steps and watched my first sunrise back on trail. I cried a lot these days. I wasn’t sure if I physically could push forward. As I wondered there was this pulling force to balance my doubt. North. I was going north.

And Now I sit here on a cliff side, just below Mt. Madison and I am looking south. Washington sits about five miles behind me and my time in White Mountains is coming to an end. I made it here. I said I would against all my doubt, the doubt of my family and a lot of pain. I am here.

It is a cold clear day at the end of August. I can feel Fall coming. I am cowboy camped above tree line watching bits of fog pull through the saddle and disappear. Yonder is making dinner.

The winds were so strong last night that I had to pack down my tent. These mountains are no joke.

Something is freeing about camping here, exposed to everything with a clear view of all the mountains. I’ve never camped above tree line before, but there was nowhere to go but up tonight. No windows, no views just a living experience of being surrounded completely by beauty.

I howled at the full moon last night. It lit up the clouds like a sunset as they washed over it. There is a Moonbow. I wonder if they will ever catch up with me? I heard they were only a day behind now. I hope I see them soon.

There is nothing better than sleeping out under a full moon and watching the blue mountains dance in the fog. I can’t believe I am here, that I pushed through it with my own two feet…and hands.

I can’t believe I am still hiking this trail. It has been so long and so much has happened. It feels like its own lifetime. Some parts of the hike were so distinct and some fade too quickly.

There has been so much heartbreak, change and growth that I could never say that I am who I was when I started. I will never be the same and I am better for it.

 

Mt. Washington

8-29-2015

 

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I hit the ground running. I scrambled by day hikers and tourists towards Mt. Washington, holding my nose as I passed. I sat all evening watching Mt. Washington loom of the horizon. It was clear and I wanted to see out into the distance. This mountain is notorious for being in the clouds.

I took a rest at Lake of the Clouds hut, then ran up the mountain. When I got to the top I let out yells of happiness. I set down my pack and frolicked. Yonder and I got some hot chocolates and coffee, then stood in line to take a picture by the sign. All these people took the train up here. I thought I would be grumpy about it, but I felt validated having walked there from Georgia. I didn’t really care how anyone else got there.

I met an older gentleman waiting for the train and he told me that this was the last thing on his bucket list. He wanted to stand on top of Mt. Washington. I told him he’d have to start a new bucket list and he laughed. I really didn’t mind the train, but I still wish that I’d mooned it, even if my white little butt was the only flag flying on trail.

Yonder and I sat on the mountain for too long, then we hit the trail. It very obviously got rugged when a day hiker path split off, the less traveled path was something like rock hopping. Then, when we neared the next shelter, the trail seemed almost paved again.

It was a frustrating day because the AT isn’t marked on this section. I took a lot of weird turns and debated which mountains I wanted to go over as I ran the ridge. Yonder and I ended up getting to Madison hut rather late. We tried to get work for stay, but they were full. The campsite 2 miles downhill was also rumored full, so we had two choices: climb Madison and descend in the dark or climb up above treeline and sleep in the rocks of the saddle.

We climbed up and found a nice boulder to shelter us from the wind. We had a beautiful view of Washington again, but this time it was extremely windy and cold. My tent was threatening breaking from the gusts of wind, and Yonder’s tarp wanted to blow away, so we cowboy camped on the edge of the cliff. Just as it got dark three figures appeared on the boulder above us. Strunky, Crispy and Ropeburn. I was so stoked to see Ropeburn after leaving him months ago at Fontana Dam. It was such a strange reunion.

The guys tried to camp with us, but due to the wind, they hiked out in the dark and had quite an adventure! Throughout the night we saw headlamps on Madison, but thankfully it wasn’t our buddies.

This was taken at the bottom of Madison the next day.

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Georgia/March:

GA A.T 127

Trail Log:

White Mountains

These huts were meant to be emergency shelters. Throughout the White Mountains there have been very few shelters or safe places to camp as a result of the huts being placed at all of the water sources and warm, below tree-line locations. This makes it extremely difficult for thru-hikers. In the Presidential Range I camped two nights at tree line in freezing winds. Both days were considered very good weather.

Hiker Funk

8-27-2015

Yonder and I stayed with the Twelve Tribes for the day. We did laundry, and I tried washing my sleeping bag. I put some patchouli oil in the wash and my bag came out with this weird hiker funk patchouli smell that I’ve never been able to get out. The smell is nostalgic for me, but it really took on a new character at this point on trail.

The smell is earthy, dirty, human, oily, spicy and very very funky. When I get my gear out to go camping on the weekends, I am overwhelmed by this smell. I didn’t notice it much at the time, and now I have a fondness for it. It reminds me of the wilds. It reminds me of a part of me that only exists outside of towns and cities.

I spent the day with a Sobo named Outlaw. She was having a rough time with the Wildcats when I met her, but we had a blast running around town. I worked cleaning the hostel and Yonder put up trim with a tribe member. In the evening we went to dinner with the tribe and talked with their families. It was an intense visit, as members sometimes get emotional during the gatherings.

The Twelve Tribes, Lancaster NH

8-26-2015

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We climbed down off the Ridge today and headed towards Lancaster. Somewhere at the top I took a side trail hoping to get a view from a peak, but the mountain had no view. So I wandered off trail a bit and found a nice spot to leave my mark.

Yonder and I sat at one of the huts for awhile, then walked down past another hut on a pond. When we got to the road we hitched to a Mountain Resort and had a couple beers.They were serving appetizers for the guests eating dinner, so we helped ourselves (with permission). I chatted with my dad on the phone for awhile for the first time in weeks. After snacking happily, we were picked up by the Twelve Tribes and taken to their hostel in Lancaster. We went to their dinner and listened to their songs. They fed us well and we worked to help them clean and renovate the half finished hostel.

Franconia Ridge

8-25-2015

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In the morning we woke to fog. The clouds that formed the beautiful view the night before were foreshadowing. A storm rolled in as we crossed Franconia Ridge. We were near the highest point of the ridge, above treeline, when the thunder started. So we ran from rock to rock as rain started pouring down. As we moved along, the rain turned to sleet, then to hail.

I lost Mother Earth’s camera this day due to water damage. Yonder and I made it down the mountain without injury and trudged through ankle deep water for several miles. It was late in the day, we were drenched and everything in my pack as wet when we reached the second hut. We wanted to stay, but the crew wasn’t receptive because of the rain. So we had some hot soup and bread in our dry woolies, then put our freezing wet clothes back on and climbed up the next mountain looking for a campsite. Near the top we found a tiny site in the forest of death.

From here on out I took pictures with my flip phone and disposable cameras.

Mt. Liberty

8-24-2015

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We hitched back to trail later in the day after much debate about the weather. We climbed Mt. Liberty and stealth camped in what I had taken up calling the forest of death. High elevation forest in the White Mountains consists of an Alpine ecosystem that often looks as if every tree might blow over at any moment. There are few places on the ground to put a tent, so we carefully tried to pick spots that were low impact, but not full of logs.

In the evening we climbed Mt. Liberty to watch the sunset. It was a phenomenal view as light beams shot out from behind dark clouds.

After Trail I returned to this part of the trail and climbed Mt. Liberty with Mother Earth… then we got a very special view of this amazing place. I will post about this when we get there!!!