So Damn Close!

Coming out of Agua Dolce (mile 452ish) the top of my right foot hurt while stepping but I chose to ignore it.

Around mile 590, I fell and face planted and, of course, all the weight went onto the right foot. I heard something pop and my foot gradually became worse and worse after that. Thankfully, the terrain wasn’t too steep although I had some miles of incline. By the time I was at 626, the trail was all sand and was making things even worse for my foot.

The fall spot. Don’t even know how I fell! There were literally no rocks or anything!
I hobbled out and got a ride from Devilfish, a “trail Angel” (someone who offers help to hikers – brings water, gives rides, etc), to Ridgecrest where my friend Tess lives.

Got to calling doctors and podiatrists the first day and nobody in Ridgecrest or even Lancaster area was available until a week or two later or didn’t give cortisone shots.

Got an appointment in Santa Clarita for the day after, near where I used to live. Found out my old renter got back with his ex and she’d moved back in so there’s definitely no turning back now, considering I’m officially totally homeless. Picked up some stuff and went to the podiatrist.

It was as I thought – tendonitis. Got a shot of of cortisone. 3rd day since I got the shot and still don’t feel better. In fact, my foot was extra swollen yesterday.

👆🏻Right foot is a bit swollen, as you can see in pic.

Feel like I’m out staying my welcome at my friend’s house. I can’t go hiking, can barely walk and just honestly beyond depressed.

Found out someone has concerns about some stuff I write on my blog so now I feel censored in what I write but have decided I’m going to write what the fuck I want anyway. I was brought up with the stupid idea that “if you can breathe, you can work” and that depression is bullshit and weak and not a real thing.

Well, “depression” is a regular word in the dictionary, defined simply as “: a state of feeling sad”. I’m not going to justify myself or my feelings. If you don’t like what I say, fuck off. Or just stop reading my blog.

Fact of the matter is that I have decisions to make. Everything I want is in making this hike happen. I’m SO close to the Sierras – only 48 more miles!!!! But money is running so low – all these unexpected medical expenses are killing me, I’m injured and have nobody to talk to. I went through my phone, name by name, and realized I have nobody. Everyone has their own lives and families and nobody wants to hear me whine.

Not sure what I’m going to do. I’m trying to stay cheerful and let my body heal but I don’t feel any change so now I don’t know what to do. Where would I go if this doesn’t heal and I have to stop the hike? This is really triggering some dark shit for me and I’m trying not to go there but can’t help it.

Anyway, here are some pics from the last stretch.

👆🏻hiked into the KOA in Acton at the end of Memorial Day weekend and people at the KOA unloaded their leftover booze and snacks on us hikers! Was SO nice!

👆🏻 got to see my girls, who came up to Santa Clarita to see me.

And my other girl, Ali, came to see me for a minute too.

👆🏻 Mojave/Tehachapi. So dry

👆🏻 more snakes.

  Went past a shitload of these windmills. They’re so big!

  

👆🏻👆🏻so many dead trees and dirt. Sometimes though, you’d get some of these wildflowers.

More poodle dog bush! 👆🏻

  

Gene The Machine 👆🏻👆🏻 despite some knee issues, he’s just powering through the miles.

👆🏻👆🏻 got DanceMagic to cowboy camp for the first time!
  

Water cache!!! This was on one of the driest sections.

Hikers hanging out at the water cache.

  

Joshua Trees were the only things giving shade for a long stretch of the hike.


   Random update videos I shot. Hiking solo, I have to start talking to my friends somehow.

              

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

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)

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 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 

Day 11, 12 & 13

Day 11 – from mile 91 to 104ish? 13ish miles/22 1/2 km

I HIT A HUNDRED MILES!!!  (Just under 161 km!) 

 

Warner Springs was just a tad too far for my feet so I walked through so many empty fields with cows in the far distance and finally found a campsite. I wanted to cowboy camp (no tent) but the clouds looked pretty ominous and felt chilly, like it does before rain.

Some coyotes danced and laughed around my campsite at night but it didn’t bother me. I think that was the best night of sleep I’ve had on the trail yet. 

   
  
Day 12- 104 to 109.5 (Warner Springs) 5 1/2 miles/8.9(?) km

Woke up and saw some Aussies (Steve & Amelia) coming up from the trail. They said they’d just seen a mountain lion cub. This freaked me out since where there’s a cub, there must be a mommy and I didn’t want to be in between them. I asked them if they were sure it was a mountain lion and they pointed it out – it was slinking near the other tree just behind me. It was huge but I noticed it had tufts on its ears so had to be a bobcat. Thank goodness!!

 
The arrow is where the huge cat was slinking around!

Bumped into the crew I’d met the day before – Honest Abe, Cheetah, Jay and an OG (Original Gangster) hiker by the name of JZ – he did the PCT – the first time – in 1987!!! It was a lot shorter then – ie, the 20 miles to Lake Morena was only about 7 or 9 miles back then since the trail wasn’t totally established then. He’s also a triple Crowner (meaning he’s done all 3 major trails in U.S. – the PCT, the CDT – Continental Divide Trail – and the AT – Appalachian Trail). Met a dude by the trail name of FM who was nice.

  
Took some pics at Eagle Rock with them – which is a natural rock formation that I swear someone sculpted to look like an eagle. 

   
      Made it to Warner Springs Resource Center which was amazing – had a burger there and they did laundry and had everything set up to help hikers (they take donations and all donations go towards helping their small community). 

My faith in humanity is being restored as I get help from these angelic people. It looked like it was going to rain so we all camped out there. 

Met some other amazing people, like Jenn (aka Bodysnatcher), saw Brad – the Aussie Hike Bike Safari blogger – again which was cool. Saw one of my favorite people, Mitchell, again. He’d been attacked by poison oak in Julian and I thought I’d never see him again since he does such long days and kills it on the mileage.
 
Camping in front of Resource Center  

  

Jenn – she’s a hoot. Funniest bitch on trail making her sexy face

  

Some amazing person came with beer and wine for us !!! 

  

JayZ – I could talk to this man all day. When asked what motivated him to do all these trails “I just love hiking, man”! Super cool dude. Oh, in case you were wondering, he got his name before the rapper. I asked. Lol

  

The sheriff gave us a ride in his patrol SUV to the post office. These are the criminal dirty hikers in the back 😝

 

Mitchell. Going to Berkeley later this year. Good luck man!!! Hope to see you again but I doubt it since you’re so fast. 

 

The sign greeting me when I pulled up with my sore feet.

Day 13 – 109.5 to 124.8 – 15.3 miles/24.6 km

Most mileage I’ve done in a day this far!! That day was never ending fuckin’ uphill. It didn’t end. Finally found some horrible camp spot and kept being woken up by my wet tent slapping me in the face. I refused to get up and handle the tent since it was so wet and cold outside.

Alls I have to say is: my butt better look great after all this hiking and uphill struggles.

Fog and drizzle but I love fog!! Here are some pics