Scottish National Trail 2020

That’s the goal anyway. Looking at a late May/early June start.

Am working in Austin, NV now. Legitimately in the middle of nowhere, Nevada. Here for a bit and saving up. Have so much to figure out.

Do I want to keep with my Brooks Cascadias? Or switch to another pair of shoes which will involve lots more trial runs and figuring out? My new rain gear needs testing. Have to just buy tickets. Want to go see family in Finland after Scotland and still have enough to get back on my feet getting back to the States.

In the meantime, just working every day. Learning more about the hospitality business which is always great. Discovering there’s a world of seasonal hospitality work as innkeepers/etc everywhere so this can be an additional type of work for my traveling/nomadic lifestyle.

People ask how I’m doing and it’s hard for me to answer. Can’t say I’m good (I feel like I’m jinxing it if I say I’m good/great/excellent) but I can’t say I’m bad either. I’m just existing and it’s been nice to be able to be somewhere new and stably while also not abandoning my 2020 travel goals.

Will write more later. Been doing a lot of inner work and working on my own story which I hope to share a bit of soon.

Here are some pics from the last month or two. Weird to think what most people deem a vacation road trip is something I’m accustomed to on the road almost daily. I have to constantly remind myself of this fact so I don’t take it for granted.

My home aka my minivan got into an accident!!! My first ever accident. Got it somewhat fixed (driveable anyway). Before pic on top and after below

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Wanda & Ed at the campground in WA (for water hike/waterfall area) were so lovely. Wanda makes bracelets for all the campers, saying it’s her way of spreading all the love she has for everyone – especially now that she has some medical issues that make it harder to get out there like she used to.

5 years

Been MIA for a long time. Honestly haven’t felt as if anything I said mattered anyway.

It’s coming up on to 5 years, almost to the day, that I was violently raped by an ex. While that moment broke something inside me and I haven’t been the same since, I think that it also somehow made me realize that even “playing it safe” with a job, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc (being what polite society would consider “normal” essentially), you can still be violated and put in danger.  Before, I was full of anxiety and fear. Even the thought of driving would give me mad anxiety and when I had driving lessons, I’d have panic attacks (not realizing they were that at the time).

What I’m trying to say is that realizing you can’t avoid danger – that it’s going to be coming from everywhere, especially with those you allow close to you. And I have done more in the last 5 years than I have in the 28 years before it having realized that. Let me try to succinctly summarize the last 5 years:

I shaved my head, sold my car I had just paid off, gave up an incredible rent situation, attempted a thru-hike of the PCT (only got 652 miles in before getting injured but still! Pretty fuckin’ cool especially since I got to help collaborate on the coolest podcast “Sounds of the Trail”), lived on the East Coast briefly (visited NY, VT, VA, NC, SC, GA, TN and D.C.), moved back to West Coast, skydived (3 separate times), finally hiked to Havasupai, went to Burning Man, lost a loved one to suicide, rehashed my trauma for the A&E Leah Remini: Scientology the Aftermath show, dipped my toes into vanlifing buying my van while working 2 jobs to save up and go to Europe,  where I walked the 500 mile Camino de Santiago/Way of St. James and met some incredible people who became friends for life, saw family in France and then did that pilgrimage from France into Spain. Fell in love with Spain. Went back to Finland, visited Sweden briefly on the way back to US.

Tried working for Xanterrible at Yellowstone. Concurrently, a national tv episode of me speaking out against the cult I grew up in was about to air, I had a nervous breakdown and a doctor there was kind enough to make me realize I needed help. Went to treatment for about 2 months. Felt a bit better. Went to work with a friend, trimming at his MJ farm in Oregon only to hear my dad was found dead. He’d drunk himself to death and since I was his only child, I had to go back to Finland (this time in the cold cold arctic circle). Stayed with an aunt and her family and saw my father’s side of the family which was awkward since I didn’t know these people. They had never been – nor made any effort to – be in my life. No word from my mom who clearly had shunned me. Saw Northern Lights for the first time which had been on my fuck-et list.

Took my father’s ashes back with me to the States since he’d never been able to visit me. Found a place I could work a little/volunteer in beautiful Oracle, AZ, right next to The Arizona Trail. (High Jinks Ranch), a historical place that Buffalo Bill staked a claim to. The owner was lovely and so empathetic and kind. The Chalet Village Motel – down the hill – owner, Marnie, became like a non-biological mother. I met so many incredible – extraordinary, really – hikers coming through on the trail. I was able to cook for them and have beautiful conversations. I felt like between the nature and these beautiful people, I should be feeling better. I hiked Grand Canyon with my dad’s ashes and did a ton of exploring in AZ at the same time.

But I still felt numb. I dissociate so often that it feels like I’m just experiencing life through some fuzz filter. It’s frustrating being in some of the most beautiful places and just being like “meh”. It’s like my brain can’t process anything too overwhelming. And when it does, my emotional regulation goes out the window and I just burst out from crying at feeling all of the things.

I decided I’d had enough. I’d kill myself for my 33rd birthday, at 3:33am. The final suicide location would be Angel’s Landing. For a few reasons, the main being that I was far from an angel and would be falling. Quite literal but I’m a foreigner so sue me (insert shrug). But I’d do one last roadtrip up the West Coast, into Canada and then down MT, WY & ID and then down through UT to Zion National Park.

So I made a trip from seeing friends in San Diego, CA up the coast, visiting friends in NorCal, OR and exploring WA for the first time. Then I went to Kelowna, visited a hiker friend from the PCT. Him and his wife let me stay there for over a week on their amazing boat house. I made his wife uncomfortable with my death talk so I left. Went to Banff & Glacier National Park (Canada). Definitely must-see places before you die! Went through MT, WY & ID as planned and made it to Southern Utah a week before my birthday only to find out that Angel’s Landing hike was closed due to a mudslide having wiped it out. I honestly didn’t have a plan B and I was out of $$. Then karma came back around and one of the hikers I’d helped whilst in AZ told me of a job in Kanab, UT working as the manager/caretaker of Grand Circle Bed & Breakfast. Within 72 hours, I had the job. And that was great until the reservations guy started to harass me and refused to resolve our conflict. If a place no longer feels safe for me, I’ve learned i need to protect my mental health. The owners were fantastic though and the entire Southern UT area is pure magic. Was sold on moving in with a friend from treatment to start anew only to find out she flat out lied and had fallen off the sobriety wagon hard. So I had driven to the Midwest for nothing. Got to see Iowa, Wisconsin and South Dakota though (SD was amazing).

So now I’m again at a crossroads. Is life even worth living when there is nobody to share that with? I honestly feel Christopher McCandless’ quote so viscerally “Happiness is only real once shared”.  

I’ve told at least 10 people I constantly think of just killing myself. Only 1 has addressed that statement directly with me. And that was a recovering addict who’s been through shit. I’ve had numerous panic attacks in public places where nobody comes to help or assist me in any way.

I wake up daily crying when I realize I’m still alive. My heart races even when there is no danger present. I wake up constantly from the sleep paralysis and nightmares. I’m a sexual person but have anxiety when someone even checks me out.

Nothing gives me true enjoyment. I have tried to eat, hike, kayak, travel, write and drink the pain away and I’ve concluded it’s utterly pointless.

I don’t think there’s room in the world for people like me. You’d think having done such a concentrated amount of living in just 5 years would’ve shaken me alive but it just brings home that maybe I’m too broken.  And living in constant survival mode is draining my soul battery dry daily.

And nobody likes a crybaby.

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness vs Acceptance

Hi guys! It’s been a LONG time since I blogged.

I’m in Arizona currently since getting back from Finland (handling dad’s business as he passed away). Been doing some day hikes but mostly helping near the Arizona Trail around mile 200 at High Jinks Ranch for now. Decided I’m going to be using my blog to spout off my inner turmoils and thoughts. Might mix in my interspersed adventures in between but this is what I need for myself and for my PTSD/Major Depressive recovery.

March 25, 2018

I have so much to write. My mind is everywhere. Hard to know where to start or what’s relevant. Even just having written that, I wonder “Relevant to what?”. I tend to always think of others or have some subconscious ideal or measuring stick. So I’m just going to attempt to vomit out my conceptual ideas, some of which haven’t even fully formed and are simply vague feelings at this moment, and edit later.

Last night, I did my first audio Ho’oponopono session (Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness… Similar forgiveness practices are performed on islands throughout the South Pacific, including Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and New Zealand) and I realized I’m 100% resistant to forgiving.

I imagined my mother’s face in the section of audio where you have to ask them “Do you support me today in my experience and connection with God and Others?”. If they answer “yes”, you give them a hug and let them go. If not, they have to stand at this 3’x3’ podium you imagine for yourself in an auditorium. Then you say “I love you. I forgive you. Please forgive me” and imagine the forgiveness flowing from you to them

And I just started sobbing. Tears were just streaming. I could feel my inner child feeling horrible for making my mom sad and wanting forgiveness but my older, more protective, layer shut that down. After all, I didn’t shun my mom. She shunned me. That was HER decision, not mine. And imagining my father’s face (he recently passed away from alcoholism) was just as hard.

Maybe I’m just being defensive. I know I’m not a victim. That’s not my identity. However things DID happen TO me. To try to say, as a child, I’m responsible for my parents’ decision is absurd.

I find that so many people find “forgiveness” to be synonymous to “Acceptance” but it’s not. Forgiveness is act of pardoning an offender . Acceptance in psychology is used to describe a person’s assent to the reality of a situation. Yet there are so many help books and memes being thrown around – even this Hawaiian practice – of insisting we forgive and won’t be able to move forward without doing so. Not only the ones who’ve done us wrong but ourselves. I only, as of right now, agree with the latter part of that sentence. Other books claim forgiveness is just letting go of resentment. To me, that’s acceptance – NOT forgiveness.

To go into more detail of that and my disagreement with that concept: Having been repeatedly molested by 2 different people by the age of 9 (one by 13-14 yr old babysitter’s daughter and another a teacher at the Scientology “school” I was placed in after moving to the US), I refuse to say that I forgive them. I don’t. And I don’t know how granting them pardon will help me. Accepting the reality that it happened and that it’s now 20+ years later and I have a life to look forward to is something I can get behind. CHILD ABUSE ISN’T FORGIVEABLE. It just isn’t. It usually carries a life sentence for those wronged by people who knew better, psychologically speaking.
Also, am I supposed to just forgive my rapist? A man who takes absolutely NO accountability for what happened….? I called him a year after the incident went down and he had no recollection of it (Surprise, surprise) and brushed it off. I get it he was super drunk but does that erase the truth of what happened? NO! I have the flashbacks and vivid memories of exactly what happened to prove it. And I refuse to just let him off the hook. Who knows who else he’s done this to or will do it to.

Now, I may change my mind about all this the more I meditate on this and practice it in my mind. And, contrary to some people’s thoughts on human behavior, people CAN change. We can change our minds about things as we learn more and evolve.

But those are my thoughts for the day. Recovery is work. Finding that I have deep resistance on this subject matter is enlightening in its own right. Maybe (just maybe) there IS something to all this? Or maybe there isn’t and it’s just something people want to believe to make themselves feel better.

My inner skeptic and naive self are at odds on this, as you could probably guess just from this long-winded rant.

I’ve gotten some self-help books on all this so I can do more research. Will update more as I let it all percolate in my brain.

Toodles for now. Would love to hear stories from others about this – your experiences and thoughts, especially when it comes to acceptance vs/and/or forgiveness.

Wintery Life Lessons from Lapland

Whilst driving through Lapland, the thick snow heavily weighing the trees down calmed my raging thoughts and I realized why:

*and of course with all the inspiring analogies between the weather and emotions out there in cyber space, it’s not hard to come to this sort of comparison. Lol

Mental illness/depression/grief – It’s like winter, when the colorful beauty and sunshine fades and air is cold and even bitingly wet and – unless you have enough layers – you’re going to be miserable and, in the worst conditions, can even get frostbite. But it’s necessary for the natural cycle to power down so you can come back again and again. And if you don’t allow it and deny it or even scream at it, you won’t get anywhere. And if you try so hard to make it warm everywhere, you won’t rejuvenate and will actually cause more damage in the environment in the long term.

And there is a beauty and stillness to winter which only the dark seems to embrace. Even the sun only comes up briefly, seemingly unable to take much of it before running away again.

And you have to have people around you who put on layers with you and commiserate. To have anything less is the equivalent of having people who strip you down or refuse to lend you a scarf or jacket despite having them laying around, unused. And people who don’t have enough warm clothing to share should be open and honest about it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of but to make someone constantly ask for and then have them explain themselves as to why they need a jacket when you can’t even offer one is a waste of precious energy needed to keep oneself warm.

With that in mind, I’m no longer going to chase people who can’t be there for me. I have no trouble making friends so that isn’t an issue. I’m honestly not sure why I’ve spent so long clinging to people just because of past history. People evolve and just like people can unfriend me and have a right to for any reason (even if I sometimes disagree with them doing so), I have the same rights. I’m henceforth letting go of things that no longer serve me and it feels freeing as fuck!

So, thank you Wintery Finland. I learned such an amazing harshly real lesson from you.

And thank you to the ones who’ve been there for me during probably the worst 6 months emotionally. You know who you are. Yeah, you. I love you. I know I haven’t been the easiest person to be around and it makes me even more appreciate of the ones that have stuck around and haven’t made me feel badly about it or made me defend myself in an effort to get me to apologize for it. Because I’m done apologizing for how I feel and why. My grief is my own and I won’t bend it to suit anybody’s expectations of what it should look like or how I should act. This isn’t a normal time for me so leave those normal expectations of me at home if we’re gonna kick it. Friends that are only friends when it’s convenient for them are not the type of friends I need or want anymore. Fair weather friends are too easy to find. Just as people have the right to pick and choose you, you can do the same. For some reason, I didn’t feel allowed to do that until now. This epiphany might sound stupid and/or obvious to some but, for me, this is huge.

And for those I’m letting go, you’re not a bad person. Neither am I. But this is where I leave you. I truly wish you well.

Camino Gear

Been going back and forth on how to describe my experience. On one hand, I thought about describing every area I walked through, with pictures and witty anecdotes from handwritten journal but then I remembered that I didn’t like to read those myself when planning for the walk since I wanted a truly organic experience without some other persons’ bias and stories in my head.

I decided I’d write it, at least to begin with, in a way I wish others would have written it. With plain facts about gear: what I brought and wish I hadn’t (and ended up sending off) and what I wish I had brought and hadn’t. 

If you read this in preparation for doing your own Camino and are wondering about anything I might have missed or are just curious about something else, don’t hesitate to comment and ask!

I started just before the main heat wave begun smack middle of summer (begun May 11 and completed June 22) and had heard the Pyrenees could be cold so brought my insulated Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer jacket, North Face gloves and Thinsulate hat which I only wore once, climbing the Pyrenees with cold ass gusty winds and never wore any of those again for rest of trip. 

I brought 3 pairs Injinji toe socks (love, love, love Injinji!) which was a bit overkill. Sent one pair off, along with my Ursack bear bag (SO unnecessary, even if camping), compass, my extra bandanna and sun hat (even when sunny, my headband was sufficient and I hate hats so never wore it although I saw plenty of people wearing theirs). I’d also been hoping to cowboy camp along the way, which I didn’t do (the only times I saw chances to do it, rain was in the forecast so, for obvious reasons, decided against it) so sent my tent footprint – which I use under my sleeping pad – off as well.

I did NOT bring my tent for which I was happy about since I probably would’ve used it only once, if that. I was advised by some lovely ladies who’d done their pilgrimage before me so thought I should note that.

I did bring:

1 Nike Dri-Fit pants (best pants ever!)

1 Columbia sport tights (for when I do laundry or when I feel like switching things up)

1 tank top

1 shirt for laundry time

2 pairs of Ex Officio undies which are much much better than regular cotton underwear.

1 pair of Bedrock Sandals for when my foot would swell and would be too painful to walk in my trail runners. Also great for the showers and walking around town. Lightweight and stylish.

1 pair of Brooks Cascadias trail runners (my walking/hiking shoe of choice since it usually accommodates my foot swelling).

1 Buff and another UV headband (didn’t need two in the end since only wore one entire time)

2 pairs of Injinji socks (I switch socks on super hot days to prevent blisters)

1 small Therm a Rest Zlite sleeping pad (not many people need a pad but I elevate my feet every 8km or so and use it constantly)

1 Sleeping Bag (10 degree Zpacks bag so super lightweight)

1 lightweight camping pillow (Sea to Summit Aeros) which honestly probably wasn’t necessary but my neck hated the pillows offered in albergues so I’m glad I brought mine.

1 super lightweight (Deuce of Spades brand) trowel which I didn’t use once but felt good to have, should I have an uncontrollable urge to poop somewhere outdoors.

1 bandanna dangling from pack for pee reasons (or as some lady and on the PCT 2 years ago called it: “vajanky”: like “vagina” and “hanky” Lol).

My trusty Black Diamond trekking poles (brought 2 extra tips for which I was grateful for since I ended up needing them both)

My Osprey Ariel 65L (total overkill on the size by the way but I love my pack too much to trade her for a smaller one I have. I probably could have made a 38L fit).

Osprey pack rain cover

Outdoor Research Helium rain jacket

Electronics: 1 Anker 20,000mAh external battery along with converter and charger for phone and battery. Side note: The 20,00mAh was probably too much. A 10,000mAh would’ve been sufficient. If you’re like me and absolutely have to have phone battery life, it’s worth its weight. Some albergues have very very few outlets to charge on and having an external battery makes life so much easier in the long run in those instances.

I also brought my tele, wide and fisheye lens from Moment for my phone (see my Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/skahlua912 . DEFINITELY worth their weight, in my opinion).

Medical supplies: bottle of ibuprofen, sewing needle and thread (for both blisters and any clothes or gear that might need a stitch), antiseptic towelettes, bandaids and Compheed anti blister pads and some moleskin). Also Electro Mix electrolytes (swear by them…. better than Nuun and other more expensive electrolytes, for me personally anyway). 

Hygienic supplies: to go travel sized toothbrush and paste, Sea to Summit multipurpose soap used as shampoo, body wash AND laundry detergent, rosemary and lavender tonic for cramping, relaxation when able to take baths and to repel bed bugs, coconut oil for hair, face and body lotion, contact lens shit and comb.

Wish I’d brought and ended up buying:

My anti-diarrhea pills/activated charcoal

Smaller, lightweight backpack to use while in towns

Poncho 

More of my favorite protein bars (I could only find muesli or granola bars at the stores in Spain)

Ultimately though, the Camino has services for sending your backpack on to next albergue you plan on staying at so you can bring as much as you want if you’d rather have a more luxurious experience. Or, opposite of that,  if you’d rather have a more minimalistic journey, you could go without more than 1/2 of what I brought and still be fine.

The Camino has stores, albergues, cafes and water stops along with towns throughout the day. Not one day will there be nothing. I prepared a bit more for the backcountry which the Camino is most definitely NOT! Lol

Will write more later about the beautiful people I met along the way and epiphanies I had along the way.

Here are some pics:
The last day, when you first get a peak of the Santiago de Compostela cathedral 👇🏻
The first day, when carrying a bunch of unnecessary stuff and pack is heavy 👇🏻
My sweaty selfie 👇🏻
Blister resolution 😳👇🏻

Random Musings

I feel like anyone with a bunion is like 70+ years old but apparently I have one and it’s pretty painful. I have health insurance which would cover it but recovery is supposed to be a bitch and will take around a year. I can’t afford to not do anything for another year. I think I’ll go certifiably crazy and be institutionalized for massive stir-craziness.

I have several ideas as to my Euro-trip plans (which, just before, I’ll be doing the Trans Catalina Trail with some good friends for a shakedown backpacking/hiking trip) which I’ll just spout off here. If anyone has any ideas as to activities or people/places to see at any stage of my proposed itinerary, feel free to message me or comment! I love that, in this social media age, finding amazing (and cheap) places to stay, etc, is just a little bit of networking away.

So, I’ll fly into Paris, see uncle and fam and maybe tourist it up for a couple of days before catching the train and doing the Camino pilgrimage. From there, I’m thinking I’ll fly into Corfu, stay there for a few weeks and then fly to Helsinki and stay there for a few weeks and then fly back to LA, get my shit and my van and drive up to Yellowstone for a seasonal job in beginning of August (I got a job at Yellowstone!) to save up some money and gather my thoughts as to what I’ll be doing after that.

It’s a pretty packed itinerary. I’m now having issues with my car, have to change a flight (which is becoming an issue as they won’t refund or change dates without a huge $400 fee. Might be cheaper to just get a new flight altogether and then hope the original flight, which was to fly from Helsinki to LAX in September, gets cancelled and I get a refund then. That’s happened to me once before) and money is leaking out of my savings left and right but this has to be done.

Looking into possibly working in Corfu to pay for a room whilst also exploring but they require a whole season of work which I can’t afford to do. We shall see though. I did ask if I can just work to stay for 3 weeks and am waiting for a response.

These are at least all good problems, in the sense that I wasn’t decapitated or something more serious and that it’s for a trip that’s bound to be once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just need to put my head down and work and NOT go out to eat or buy additional things other than for the trip itself.

 

Day 28, 29 & 30

Day 28 – mile 266 to mile 283 – 17 mile (27 km) day

Was sad leaving Big Bear. Whenever I’m in town and about to leave, I have this part of me that doesn’t want to go back on trail. But the other part of me is super antsy and wanting to be hitting the dirt already. It’s super weird. There’s like a war inside me every time I’m going to/in and leaving town.

Trail was pretty straightforward – not much incline except the first couple of miles. After that, was pretty straight and then after mile 281, it was just downhill (although not a direct decline – just little ups and then random quick steep declines. I prefer straight downhill since I like running down those).

   
       
Went through the land of dead and living trees. Apparently, a while ago, there was a fire so there are still standing dead trees all over the place. It was eery but beautiful.

   
 

  

Meant to go to mile 285 since that was the next water source and a large campground but the sun was going to set soon so just camped at 283 (and, not going to lie, my feet hurt. I think my feet thought I was done hiking since I took so many days off at Big Bear).

Sunset that night was beautiful!

   


Day 29 – mile 283 to 298.5 – 15.5 miles (25ish km)

Not a big day. My feet seemed to have turned to mush since Big Bear and were acting like they’d never backpacked before. My left hip flexor was seizing up and super painful. 

I did some yoga stretches in the morning which actually REALLY helped my hip flexor but my feet were dead by the time we reached Splinter Cabin even though it was only 15 1/2 miles.

At this point, I had to remind myself that – in the beginning of this trek – I couldn’t even do 15 miles with a huge pack. I’ve come a long way. It’s hard to congratulate yourself though when there are people running past you every couple of hours, making me feel like such a slow fat ass. 

That day, I met some rad people – Mr Noodle and his girl, Mama Squirrel and her husband, No Boundary. I also met a Canadian who was going to do a large section before starting a job back in Canada in June. 

A bunch of us just camped at a Splinter cabin since there was a flowing creek near ther (oh and they had picnic tables AND 2 outhouses!!!! Felt so good, being able to act like a normal person and go to an actual bathroom). 

   
        


Day 30 – 298.5 to 313.5 – 15 miles ( 24 km)

Feet are killing me. Huge blisters appearing everywhere – a big chunk of my left index toe (can you call it that since it’s a toe?? Lol) is gone. Mentally, I’m fine though. 

I see a group on the way out of Splinter’s Cabin. It’s another one of the groups of all men with the exception of a single female (something I’ve been seeing a LOT of. It’s quite primitive and something I’ll probably be writing about soon. I’ve yet to see a group of men with more than a single female. And the prettier the female, the larger the group of men around her). I say “hi!” Cheerily and ask where they hiked in from. It’s inane chit chat but they were breaking so thought I’d be friendly. I’m met with stone faces and one of the young guys snarkily says “Mexican border”. I fake laugh. “Oh, an asshole!”, I think. Unfortunately, there are a few of those on trail for some reason. The girl in the group is the only one who smiles back and is in any way friendly. Thankfully, they pass me quickly so I don’t have to be near them.

I hit mile 300

  
I meet an Israeli by the name of “Ram”. He seems to be gliding down the trail effortlessly yet he’s going quite fast. He passes me and I’m a bit jealous of how easy this seems for him.

I somehow meet up with him again after trudging a couple miles to a somewhat shady spot (did I forget to mention, it’s HOT! No shade really, either). We talk about the journey. He says he’s found his natural stride after spending so much energy trying to be in sync with everyone else and is now able to go longer miles. He talks about how he also takes breaks every hour, no matter what. He said something that hit home to me “The Gods seem to be pleased with my quest” as good things started happening since he had begun the trail. I pondered upon that as things seemed to be happening – both good and bad – since I had officially started my trek as well. We briefly try to contemplate the “cause and effect” (if you will) of journeys like this but give up. It’s time to keep hiking. I wish I could pick his brain a little longer but Ram is soon gone from sight.

I trudge on in the heat. My feet continue to swell. I take an Indomethicin (anti inflammatory). Deep Creek Hot Springs is at mile 309 and I force myself to get there.

On the way there, I kept seeing these beautiful pristine beaches near the flowing creek. It was such a tease since I’m boiling hot, sweating profusely and wishing I could be there. “I need to come back here and find a way to these non populated beaches, even if that means I need to climb a shit load of boulders to get there!”, I think to myself. It looked like paradise.

   
   
When I get there, the “asshole” group (I stereotype groups) is there so I feel immediately insecure. No way am I getting naked or near naked around these judgemental types. The last time I was at Deep Creek, a young nasty couple made a comment about my weight, which I was already super insecure about since my uncontrollable weight gain from my IUD. I started to cry. I felt so fat and ugly. A wave of insecurity washed over me. 

Then I realized I’m about to start my period and I’m probably taking everything WAYYYYYY too personally. And it’s also probably why I’m having such a hard time hiking. My body feels like it’s resenting every step I take even though my mind is in the game.

I meet an older gentleman hiking, by the name of “Pilgrim”. He’s hiked the Camino de Santiago (which is on my bucket list) and a part of the Appalachian trail. He’s now doing the PCT and plans to do a trail in Australia next year. I basically want his life and tell him so. He laughs. We bond. I haven’t bonded with many people on the trail but Pilgrim is pretty rad and we chat for a while. He then leaves. 

I get some water, treat it and elevated my feet. A naked old dude comes over and talks to me for a while. Some people make faces when seeing him, like they think his nakedness is funny. This reinforces my decision not to be near naked around these people. In Finland, nobody would’ve bat an eye at someone being naked in the appropriate surroundings, no matter how big their belly or thighs, etc. In America, especially LA area, I feel like most people are much more judgemental about superficial looks.  

I then had to leave before nightfall. Needed to get some more miles. Met another hiker by the awesome trail name “Frankenstein”. He went on ahead while I took a break.

   
      

Leaving Deep Creek. Chug, Bird and Doolittle up ahead. 

 

The rainbow bridge! 

      

Found a perfect camp spot just before 314 and crashed. 

The End. (Of that day. Lol)