Hiking…

I love hiking but since getting injured on the PCT in 2015 and only getting 648 miles in, I’ve lost a lot of my lust for the actual hiking part.

I’ve been going to therapy too and it’s like my entire life has been unraveling before my eyes. Everything I thought I knew and was sure of has shifted and new perspectives and feelings have taken over. It’s an extremely painful yet enlightening time for me.

Many of my self-sabotaging ways came from toxic shame. Defined roughly as: ” When shame becomes toxic, it can ruin our lives. Everyone experiences shame at one time another. It’s an emotion with physical symptoms like any other that come and go, but when it’s severe, it can be extremely painful. … Unlike ordinary shame, “internalized shame” hangs around and alters our self-image” (https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-toxic-shame/). Realizing a lot of fucked up shit has happened to me (and not because of me) when I was young, has helped me to stop drinking so much (I no longer crave it as I did) and has helped to appease the suicidal urges.

I’ve always prided myself in being so independent but I’m realizing that being this obsessively solo/independent chick is actually just as bad as being a needy woman. There is no balance and I’m finding myself so lonely. I’m trying to open up to others and let myself be helped by others.

While I used to LOVE hiking solo, I’ve been mostly wanting to hike with others but with all the recent medical issues (surgery, forced temporary early menopause, etc), my fitness level is so bad that I feel like I’ve been slowing people down – especially on uphill – and holding them back from enjoying themselves. Will just have to find super slow people to hike with for now. I’ve been forcing myself at least once a week to hike SOME PLACE, doesn’t matter what. I just haven’t been doing it 4-5 nights (almost 30 miles) weekly like I was for my PCT prep years back.

My foot is still also swelling after 5-6 miles on day hikes. Will have to figure that out and go on a crazy fitness regime starting New Year so I can be ready for Camino de Santiago which I’m thinking I’ll start late April next year. Research for it has already begun. Super stoked! With my tax return, will just book a non-refundable flight and, that way, I’m forced to go. Hahaha. No excuses!

Happy Thanksgiving?

It’s around this time, I feel more depressed than usual.

I have no family here. They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. My friends are all with their families, proud to show their love. I’m happy for them. I really am but also realize I’m really all alone.

It’s hard. But I also realized today, while taking a small hike around a waterfall that I couldn’t get a great shot of from the non iced areas, that I’m not trying hard enough.

I take it so personally and feel so abandoned  when someone doesn’t respond to my call, my texts or whatnot but when it comes down to a simple situation like getting a great shot with my iPhone, I don’t always get in the water – no matter how freezing it is.

Maybe I have to let go of the people that don’t make any effort to know me or keep a friendship with me and stop taking it so personally. And, just maybe, I have to start trying harder. In retrospect, I should’ve taken my shoes and socks off, rolled up my pants – or taken them off entirely – and gotten the perfect shot of the waterfall I saw today to get that one perfect shot. No matter how fuckin’ cold that water was – and, trust me, there were icicles right near it so it was COOOOLD!

What’s weird is that I was in Finland and have been ice-hole dipping. That’s where they drill a hole in the ice of a lake and people go swimming/dipping in it. So, I KNOW what cold feels like. Getting in the ice holes was exhilarating. I did it several times. Why didn’t I just do it this one time today?

I think I’ve been cruising. It’s easy to do but I expect so much more of myself. Why am I beating myself up when I’m not even trying hard enough to warrant the emotional abuse I reap upon myself?

On a similar note, the holidays ARE where people struggling with depression feel the most alone and isolated. So, reach out to the ones you love. Pick up that phone when someone calls, call your loved ones, etc. That’s what the holidays are for!!! ❤

Oh, and no question about it at this point, Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

 

Day 31 & 32

Day 31 – mile 313.5 to 332. 18 1/2 miles (29.77 km)

I get up early but dont want to really hike. I just want to stay in my sleeping bag. Takes me about 45 mins of snoozing and yelling at myself (in my head – not out loud, duh. I’d sound crazy doing that) before I get one foot out. My morning routine consists of this now:

1) Wake up from the sun. I don’t set my alarm anymore. My internal clock is tuned to the light of the sun these days.

2) grumble to myself about how cold/hot it is.

3) Remind myself things could be much, much worse.

4) Close eyes and try to sleep for another 20 mins.

5) Pretend I don’t hear other hikers rushing past me. They’ve probably been hiking since 5am. Crazy people.

6) Finally get up (still in my sleeping bag though) and dig a Pop Tart from my food bag and eat it.

7) Put contact lenses on.

8) Look at my torn up feet and bandage them accordingly. I feel like I’ve gotten to be quite the foot wrapper expert. I almost feel like one of those professional athletes that look like they’ve been doing it their whole lives.

9) Do yoga or at least a few stretches. This makes the world of difference for me in hiking so I really try to do it, even if I’m running “late”.

10) Pack up and start hiking.

So that’s what I do. Start hiking past the dam which is near the creek/campsite area.


I go past some day hikers. It’s a bit of uphill but a gradual one, which I’m totally happy with. I even have service so I call my friend, Cara, in Chicago. We talk for about an hour. I realize the long Slim Jim I was hoping to have as an easy accessible snack, had somehow escaped my belt clip. I bring it up because, days later, I found the hiker who found it and ate it. Lol

I leapfrog with Ghost (a Japanese hiker who hiked the John Muir Trail last year. Super sweet man!), Pilgrim, Junior and his group and with some young kids pretty much all day. They can’t be more than 16-17. One of them is called “Liability” because he couldn’t get a motel room due to his age and their motel’s  liability policy. I wonder how cool their parents must be to let them do this. I also wish I had the balls to have done something like this when I was their age.

We go past Silverwood Lake. Some of the kids stop to go sunbathe and jump in the lake but it’s about 4pm already when I get there and I want to get to Cajon Pass as soon as possible (at mile 342) so I can get McDonalds. Plus, it’s quite windy and the wind is really chilly so wasn’t too crazy about getting wet.


I love gradual uphills!!

“Ghost”, my new Japanese friend.

Views at start of hike

Getting to Silverwood Lake

    

Resting my feet. Feels sooooo good.

I hike slowly so I just hike until the sun goes down. I feel like something is watching me as I pass miles 329-332. I shrug off the feeling and start singing Cher and Peter Gabriel. “That’d scare me away, were I a mountain lion!”, I think.  Finally find a little spot I can camp at and get ready for bed.

My friend, Jen, texts me to tell me another hiker saw a mountain lion at mile 329. I remind myself to go pee before bed so I wouldn’t have to get up in the middle of the night and be prey for this local cougar.

I heard that mountain lions sound like women screaming when they roar (as if they can’t get any scarier already, right!!?!) and I kept waking up to some weird ass screaming noises. I was still half asleep so wasn’t sure if I just imagined them or not. Either way, I sure as hell wasn’t getting out from my covers.

The night was super windy. Another storm was supposedly coming in. While I hate hiking in high heat, this cold also was getting to me. It’s very hard to sleep when you’re cold and you get all stiff by morning time.

Day 32 – mile 332 to 342 – 10 measly miles (16.1 km)

Maybe it was because I had the worst sleep but the 10 miles (which were mostly downhill too!) to Cajon Pass wiped me out. My feet were KILLING me! I tried to take a break a few times but bees swarmed me each time. Must’ve been my musky scent since itd been about 5 days since my last shower. The winds were picking up and were really strong. I kept feeling like I’d be blown off the mountain (and I’m not a scrawny girl!).

Views that day were gorgeous though.


      
Got to McDonalds. Mama Squirrel, No Boundary, Stretch, Frankenstein, Bird, Doolittle and Chugs were all there but wanted to get ahead of the storm, which I didn’t think possible since it was going to hit the next day in Wrightwood, our next stop, which is higher in elevation and usually always gets snow. So they left.

Pilgrim, Gabe and I were all for waiting out the storm though and got a place at the Best Western.  I couldn’t wait to take a shower!!! The dirt coming off me was unbelievable!

Dirty ass legs! Lol

300 miles (482 km)!!!

Will update blog day after tomorrow but since I have cell service, just wanted to quickly update:

Yesterday, I passed 300 miles.

  
Most of the people I started with are already days ahead of me because I’ve been taking too many days off in town but oh well!!! I’m taking my time and I wouldn’t have it any other way! ❤️🌁

Day 22 & 23

day 22 – mile 226 to 232 – 6 miles

Lazy day!!! Sun was hot, we were camped near a creek so just lazed out, read maps, napped and chatted with Gabe about food we would eat at Big Bear. 

Conversations about food are normal on the trail. Questions about what our perfect meal would be, etc, entertain me while I eat shitty food like Ramen noodles and protein bars.

We headed out at 5pm and we’d meant to go to at least 236 but moon was so pretty that, on a break at 232, we got so tired that we cowboy camped there with the intention of getting up early.

Day 23 – Mile 232 to 250 – 18 miles (around 29 km)

I woke up at 5am and headed out alone since Gabe wanted to sleep in. We agreed to meet up at mile 240.

I took my time, took a break at mile 235 and met Ryan, a chef from Wisconsin who moved to Chicago. He was hilarious and we chatted and he took off. 

I then moved on, knowing I had miles of uphill ahead of me, to get to Big Bear to see my friend. Some fallen trees were ahead of me and I decided to climb over them. 

As I climbed over them, something pulled my backpack and I fell. My first fall on the trail. And OF COURSE, there had to be the uncommon poisonous plant, “poodle dog bush” ( Poodle Dog Description ) right where I fell. It touched my face, my hands, my arms and legs. Living and hiking in SoCal, I know what it is, unlike most people. I freaked out, got out of its way and dropped my pack. I then ran to the creek below and rinsed myself and trekking poles over and over and over, praying I wasn’t one of the few that have severe allergies to it since I was hiking alone and couldn’t afford to go into respiratory distress. Since I’m not allergic to poison oak (I’ve sat on it and touched it many times with no reaction), I prayed the same would happen now.

  
The plants you see are “Poodle Dog”. That’s where I fell.

Keeping calm in the wilderness is important. I told myself I did everything I could do and that freaking out wouldn’t help. I hurried up the hill, knowing I’d see people around mile 239.9, where the last water resource for 16 miles was and where there were campgrounds.

I met “Taxi” on the way up. I told him what happened. He calmed me down with some jokes and hiked on ahead of me.

I met “Caveman” from Tennessee along with a group of other young hikers on a break, up the hill.

I moved on ahead, filled up with water at 238. And moved to 239.9, where it started hailing suddenly. Another hiker “Brian”, who’d done the Appalachian Trail, set up his tent alongside mine. He was awesome and we chatted for a while.  I changed my clothing to get rid of any remnants of Poodle Dog Bush and waited for Gabe.

   
         
He came a bit later and we hiked to 250, where my amazing friend, Clarissa, picked us up and brought us to Subway (which I was craving). I was exhausted and so happy to see her, I almost cried. That day took a lot of out of me. But, hey, I got to Big Bear!!! Yay!!! 

Day 20 & 21

I’m a bit behind on my blogs. Had a few people worry about me. Sorry!! But not really. I was lost in the mountains… Not literally, of course, but I had no service.

Day 20 – 5.2 miles in the morning and then 6 at night. So around 11 miles

Woke up early to get to Ziggy and the Bear. Crossed some dry desert and came across another rattler who shook his rattle at us to warn us we were about to step on him

 
And then kept going. It was all flat but got hot fast and we were sweating profusely by the time we got to the 10 freeway.

   
  

    

Thankfully, by the time we got under the freeway, we found some trail magic – someone had left a cooler with ice cold sodas and clementines! The other hikers from mile 206, Wild Bill and Deep, had caught up to us by that time.

       

I usually hate soda but had a Dr Pepper which was ice cold and tasted delicious. Had a couple of clementines and then we moved on, determined to beat the worst of the heat.

Got to Ziggy and The Bear, a husband and wife who’d been hosting hikers for forever. They literally have hearts of gold. Both were so kind and graciously let us, complete strangers, into their home. Signed us in, gave us a cold Gatorade and showed us the showers and everything.

Jen had a friend driving nearby sometime in the day and I had been obsessing about In N Out –  a West Coast hamburger joint with debatably the best burgers EVERRRR. Jen assured me she’d get me to it if her friend would take us. This made the heat much easier to bear.

However, all of us hikers got hungry fast and ordered Little Ceasar’s pizza. I shared a whole pizza with Kim. Everyone else got their own huge box of pizza. Proof:

  
That meant I wasn’t hungry at all anymore, not even for In N Out so when a past PCT hiker offered a ride into town, I didn’t take him up for it. But, mentally, I still wanted a double double, protein style – no onions- with light spread. But the pizza had filled my intestines and there was nothing I could do but pray it come out before I left to hike again.

I spent the rest of the day, chugging water with electrolytes and praying for the heat to stop. My feet hurt. I thought I’d stay an extra day and leave at night the next day but, when the day started to cool down around 6pm, I felt alive and just wanted to hike. I had to wait a bit for my new awesome friend, Jen, to finish dinner with her friend and pack up before we could go but, around 8:30pm, we finally said our goodbyes with the moon shining brightly for us.

“Billy The Goat”, an older hiker who’s hiked the PCT and many other trails, gave us some good pointers and wished us on our merry way.

We awkwardly had to climb under some barbwire fence since we didn’t take the same route back to the trail but we were stoked to be going out. We were adventurers!!!! 

Jen was a trooper for being a new night hiker. Was hard to get any good shots since my iPhone is horrible at taking night shots.

We wanted to get to mile 218.6 that night, to the Whitewater Preserve. That meant 8.6 miles of night hiking. With us averaging around 2 1/2 miles per hour, that meant we wouldn’t get there until about 1-2am.

We got to a little over 216 and then encountered a REALLY crumbled up section of trail on a cliff side which we felt was really dangerous to cross so decided to camp out a little back, where we came from.

 
Pic of the trail the next day. Not so bad in sunlight but, at night, it was bad, that’s all loose gravel.

Day 21: mile 216 to 218.6 and then 218.6  to 226.2 – a little more than 10 miles 

Woke up to cows shrieking desperately. I’ve lived in New Mexico and have NEVER heard such terrifying shrieks from cows. Jen has also hiked in and near herds of cows and had never heard anything. It was as if one of the cows had fallen and was yelling for help with his parents or fellow family cows yelling back at him/her.

We quickly got up, packed up and got our asses to Whitewater Preserve, which was an oasis. Bathrooms, wading pool, beautiful white sand and free camping for PCT hikers

We saw a snake coming in. Not sure what type of snake that was though. It wasn’t a rattler.

 
We set up camp, I ate and then slept on and off for many hours, having had such horrible sleep the last few nights. It was super windy.

   

  

  

 

Around 5:30, Gabriel – someone I’d met before on trail – came around, about to leave. He hung around until I was ready to go.

My shin was throbbing painfully and both Jen and Gabe told me it was shin splints, something new to me. 

We wanted to get to 226. So we night hiked, despite everyone’s injuries coming out to play, to the creek to camp. Jen wanted to do more miles but Gabe and I were pooped so we all crashed.

Here are some pics  

  

Just outside of Whitewater Preserve

  

Jen and Gabe. Jen hates when I take pics. Lol

  

Some bones!

The day before full moon. The moon was magnificent and I didn’t need my headlamp at all.

   

  

Day 16, 17 , 18 & 19

16, 17 were zero days in Idyllwild. No hiking done on the trail. Just laundry, lots of eating (like TOO much eating. Glutton style),  

  
 resting feet, going to doctor to get some Indomethicin and ended up getting some anti-inflammatory shot in the butt too). 

Got to hang out with my friend, Sean, and saw his family who were so nice. I got my Epsom Salt bath with wine, as well, which is turning out to be a ritual now (not that I’m complaining! It’s the best!). Looked at upcoming trail maps (estimating time, difficulty, weight, etc) and working out resupplies. Feels like I’m getting a lot better at estimating my food and water intake now which means I don’t carry as much food and water.

  
Working on resupply boxes to Big Bear.

Day 18 – 11.2 miles

Sean drove us to The Devil’s Slide Trail which reconnected us to the PCT (where the fire closure ended around mile 178).Took off with Jenn later in the morning. 

  
It was basically 2.6 vertical miles of The Devil’s Slide Trail and then several more vertical miles. 

Lovely views that day:

   
Tahquitz Peak on the left and Suicide Rock on the right.

  
Some snow left coming down San Jacinto area.

   

Last water source was at 186. Jenn left ahead of me on one of my breaks but I caught up with her there and, since we’d gotten such a late start, the sun was already starting to set so I scouted an off trail camp spot about .6 miles from the water spot where we  could watch and take pics of the sunset.

   
     
I was exhausted after all the uphill so crashed as soon as sun had set but woke up from the bright moon hanging over me. It was so bright, my body woke up, thinking it was daytime.

  
Day 19 – mile 186 to 206

My first 20 mile day!!!!! Beautiful views at the start of the day.

   
       It was a bit of a climb in the morning but then a shitload of downhill with no shade. Saw some deer, snakes and probably 400 lizards of all shapes and sizes. I almost stepped on a rattler myself. Usually, I hike with one earpiece only in the desert so I can hear rattlers or hikers coming up behind me but, with the disgustingly hot heat, I was blasting both earbuds to will myself through the hot section.

   
         I saw and heard of many people misjudging water intake that day (I almost ran out too – had only 1/2 liter for last 2 miles but since I waited out the heat mid day, it was fine). There was no water until 206.

Jen hoped to get to Ziggy & The Bear (trail angels who open their home to hikers – letting them take showers and hand wash laundry, get food, etc) but we were dead and the sun had basically set by the time we got down the 7000 ft elevation drop. Camped at 206 along with some other hikers (Wild Bill & German hiker, Deep).

Slept under a lunar (moon) halo that night. It was spectacular but I had the worst sleep. Couldn’t sleep with so much light but couldn’t keep hiking either since my feet ached so bad after the 20 miles