Friday, December 20, 2013


When I am on a training hike my mind has unlimited time to think about my upcoming trek. I think some about gear, whether or not my current stuff will work for the trail ahead, but mostly I have all my gear questions worked out. Much of my current trail thinking time revolves around food ideas for the trip and what is the best way to deal with meals. 

I can't say I have it all worked out but I am pretty clear about some things…mostly snacks, which I normally eat all day instead of official lunches. The reason for this clarity is that I plan to buy most snacks items in towns where I resupply and will eat what I find in grocery stores at these stops. Breakfast last time around was a combo of Via coffee and vanilla flavored Instant Breakfast. Not too sweet, which I like, but they didn't sustain me for very long. I will probably add in some kind of grain based cereal with Nido milk, or possibly try making on-the-trail yogurt like my friend Shroomer does.

This leaves dinner. My most important meal of the day and one that I use much of my brain power thinking about. Last time around I used some popular books to plan a wide variety of meals…I think I had 26 different meals. They were fine at home but some of them weren't really good to eat once I got out there so I am planning a different tack this time. I am asking my foodie friends to come up with recipes that I can make on the trail using dried ingredients and assembling on site. I am targeting spicy foods as they are my most favorite and I hope to have 8 or 10 good dinner meals I will love to eat. For some meals I will make tried and true dishes and dehydrate them so all I have to do is soak them in water for a couple of hours before dinner and just reheat them when it's time to eat.

In that vein I am in process of cooking up and dehydrating some pork loin, slow cooked with BBQ sauce and sliced thin. This will be part of my mac and cheese dinner. Yum. One ounce dried pork with a cup or so of small pasta and powered cheese should be yummy. Add in some BBQ sauce and it is divine. In a backpacking meal kind of way…

More to come…

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Alrighty then

Tomorrow marks my move up to 11 miles, three days a week. Actually my planned route is 11.5 but
who's counting? My pack is weighing in at 18 pounds and it will stay there for another two weeks, then increasing to 20+. 
This is a good example of my hiking territory. Fall is slowly receding and winter approaching, though so far not much rain which means the approach creeks are easily crossed. So far, so good. 

Gear posts coming up soon.

Friday, November 15, 2013


It took me most of the week to recover from my weekend hike. This is a bummer as I have a hiking plan and this event took me out of my comfort zone. Which is sometimes good, but apparently not this time. Five days till I could walk without serious pain - I'll have to be a bit more cautious from now on out.

Earlier this week I met with a couple of local women I know who are planning to hike the PCT in 2014 and it seems like we are on the same general time schedule. Commitment is difficult for some of us (me) but it seems likely that we will start the trail together in April of next year. April first'ish if there isn't much snow, April 15th if there's the usual amount of snow. Until then, we wait. We are a bunch of older gals (me being the eldest, but perhaps not the wisest) and are under the impression that slower starts might be benificial. Just sayin.

Of course, I also have to consider my living situation and the animals I've taken on as caretaker. So I must find a good house sitter who likes rustic environments and two cats, not to mention watering and making sure one eats enough eggs to keep above water with the chickens. (We are getting an average of eight eggs a day right now.)

As a result of all this I am experiencing something uncomfortable for me. Yup, lack of control. It's crazy! I can't control the weather and I'm not a wizard. I'm worried I might not be able to find the perfect match in my housing situation, but I just have to put my best intentions out there and hope for the best. Cross your fingers for me.

One double yoke girl around here.
Aren't these kitties cute? Chance is on the left and his sister Mija to the right. Visually impared but sweet as can be. Also, sort of feral so you have to move slow or they'll scatter like blown leaves.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mt Diablo hike

Holy cow - What a hike! On Saturday I joined 11 other folks to hike up to the summit of Mt. Diablo in the East Bay and this 12 mile hike kicked my butt. To be kind I will say there was about 3,300 foot elevation to get to the top from the spot where we parked the vehicles (and the corresponding elevation drop) so the fact that I can't walk well is probably reasonable. Some parts were probably 45% in grade and these were the ones that hurt on the way back down. Yikes. If I can hike this trail, even twice a month, then I should be able to hike the PCT… I've never seen a trail close to this kind of steepness before, where I wasn't wearing a helmet and attached to a harness.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

One goal

Way back in June I posted here that my eventual success related to thru hiking the PCT would rest, in some part, on my ability to lose weight prior to April. My initial goal was to lose 20 pounds with a secondary goal of losing 5 to 10 more before leaving for the trail in April 2014. As of today I have lost 19 pounds, so my first goal is in sight. The best part of losing the weight is that my training hikes are so much easier on me! It is really noticeable and for this I am really grateful. 

 Utah, September late afternoon.

Home again

Just to catch up with the previous post I'll say that my night in the snow was just peachy. It was cold but not so cold that my water bottles froze so I reckon it was in the mid 30's over night. My sleeping system was perfect and I was warm and cozy all night. When the sun arrived I was ready to pop out of the tent and head down the hill and off to the Red Kettle in Idylwild. Yum! Good as usual. If you all are ever in that town I recommend this place above all others for good, down home food.
BTW, I learned that tyvek is NOT water proof and that plastic would have been a better ground cloth choice for snow/slush conditions. I'll have to remember this.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


After a couple of days of hard driving and arriving in Idylwild there was a snow event two days ago and it took until this morning to pack up my gear and go for an overnight backpack trip.

Today's goal was a moderate 8 mile hike with an elevation gain of 3,800 feet. Everything started out well and even though I haven't hiked this high for months I did fine. The general consensus was that there wouldn't be too much snow up high so I wasn't concerned. The trail was dry for the first couple miles then I started to see little patches of snow - just enough to be pretty. After climbing about 1,000 feet the ground was pretty much covered with snow but the trail itself was clear, if wet. 

Once I got to about 8,400 feet there was snow everywhere! Not so deep really, right around 4-6 inches but in some spots a foot or more. I was slipping and a sliding around even with good traction on my shoes. Who knew walking in soft snow is like walking in sand? I was getting pretty fatigued, with 3 miles to go, and another 1,200 feet of climb. If there was this much snow now what would it look like when I got to Little Round Valley, my planned stop for the night?

So this where fear comes in. BTW, I'm always afraid when I backpack by myself in a new area. This is a given. The big question for me is when do I modify my plans? Since I always experience some fear when does it reach another level? The problem is I don't always know which is which. 

So there I was at about 2pm, standing in snow, already tired. Still 3 miles, deeper snow to come and I'm by myself. What to do? Push on against my fear? Retreat to a lower elevation where I will be dealing with less snow? What, if anything does this mean about my ability to do hard things? Is it failure to change plans? Or is it smart to recognize a potentially dangerous situation and act accordingly?

Whether for good reasons or not, I did turn around and slid my way down to the closest camping area, near Strawberry Junction. I found an almost snow free spot to pitch my tent, settled myself into dinner and have been reading in my tent since dusk. It's gonna be a cold one tonight, here at 8,000 feet. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sparks' place

Art fun commences tomorrow and there will be lots of people coming through here for the next two days. I've helped as much as I can and tomorrow I'm heading over to Ojo Caliente to check out an estate sale. 

I'll also try to connect with a realtor to check out a piece of property for sale, real nearby. Like a five minute walk down the arroyo. There is a one acre lot that is for sale for 10k. On a creek, with willows and cottonwoods,  but also in a flood plane. So we will see. It's a nice community here and it would be fun to own land. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Wow. My stop over in Durango was brief but fun to catchup with friends. Drank good beer, drove over to Pagosa Hot Springs for a four hour soak and then down to El Rito, NM to my friend Sparks place. Had dinner at a famous spot, El Farolito. 

This weekend is the local Art studio tour and Sparks is in it this year. More on this later. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

No room at the Inn.

Started driving at a bit after 7 this morning and with only a couple of stops I got to Capitol Reef National Park right about 4pm. Just in time to be told they had given the last campsite away five minutes prior to my arrival. Dang. My only consolation being I was able to get my senior pass at the visitor center, the lifetime pass! And for only ten bucks - Such a deal. 

The only options I had were to head back west, or drive east till I reached the park boundary and camp wherever I could find a nice place to park. My first spot was on a bluff with a 360 degree view. It was super windy and I was there for an hour before I gave up as that kind of wind is unnerving for me. 

Choice number two was out of the wind and tucked up into a side canyon off the road. It is much nicer and I'm the only one here. Beautiful sunset, salad for dinner and off to sleep. Tomorrow Durango!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Day trip

Took a drive out to Mesa Falls today, making a nice loop into the country and back to Idaho Falls. 

While there I got to snuggle up with a grizzly bear, previously alive. She was about three years old when she met her demise but she's now a part of a bear educational exhibit. A great day. 

Neccia's making chili for dinner. Yum. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Idaho Falls

Rain rain rain rain snow rain rain sun. That was the weather yesterday. I awoke early and simply put on my clothes, pulled out of my campsite and back onto the road. That's what I did yesterday, drive. 

I kept hoping I'd find a nice area to stop and walk but the first part of the day was in fairly dense woods then open farmland or high desert scrub. I guess I could have just walked along a country road somewhere but that held no appeal. 

At some point in the day I finally called the friend I was planning to visit on Friday and asked if I could come early. Fortunately she said yes and after many long hours driving I arrive at her place in Idaho Falls. The good news is the last couple of hours of the driving day included some beautiful sun/cloud combinations.

The even better news is that N had French Onion Soup and salad waiting for me when I arrived. YUM. 

Oh, and I had breakfast at this place. 
The name was better than the food. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Clyde Holiday campground

I had breakfast in Eugene, lunch in Sisters and dinner sitting in my van at this campground. In between I drove in the rain, took pictures of a PCT trailhead, wandered through the Painted Hills and hoped it would stop raining when I arrived here. It seems the last part wasn't to be. I hope to find a place to hike tomorrow as I need the exercise after sitting all day. 

It's gonna be chilly tonight!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fun in Eugene

I'm having a great time here in Eugene, OR staying with old friends and seeing others. Tonight we'll be celebrating my birthday as well as my friend Aggie's as we both have the same b-day, 9/27, though she's one year older. Anyhow there will be BBQ dogs and burgers, baked beans and potato salad. With birthday ginger cake for desert. Yum!

I hiked on the Ridgeline trail this morning with the goal of submitting Spencer Butte at 2,062'. I did succeed (see above) but once on top the trail going down the other side was not clear. I heard voices coming up to the top and two runners came into view. I asked about the trail they were on (falsely assuming it was the official trail) and they said it was clear. As I dropped over the side I heard a parting comment from him saying,"it's steep!" Little did I know how right he was. Being conservative I'd say that 90% of this path was 45-60% grade and by the time I got down my legs were shaking and I was a sweat soaked pile of nerves. Holy cow! Clearly, I was not on "the official trail". While I didn't manage to hike the whole seven miles I certainly managed a good workout. I'm gonna feel it tomorrow.
This image doesn't do the steepness of the trail justice. No falls, whoopie!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Travel plans

Since my late summer backpack trip got burned out (the Rim fire in Yosemite) I've had to come up with something else and just decided to take the new vehicle for a big drive. The plan is to head north to Eugene, OR and visit friends for a couple of days then drive east towards Idaho Falls, ID to visit another group of friends. Next down and over to Durango, CO and then to El Rito, NM to see folks there. Finally I'll be heading west to see Mom in So Cal, finally rolling back up to Santa Cruz one month later. In between all these places I am planning to find places to backpack, even if I am only able to make one or two night trips. I am sure I can find some interesting spots to check out! I must say I am really looking forward to seeing fall in the mountains... it's been a long time since I've seen Aspens turn flame yellow. Very nice.

On the hiking front I have bumped up my mileage to seven, still three days a week. I must confess however to missing the hike on Monday as I was dealing with being swarmed the previous day by yellow jackets. I think we counted 16 or 17 bite sites and even with tons of benedril the day before, I awoke on Monday with half my face swollen with my left eye completely shut. Needless to say I wasn't up for hiking but only for seeing the doc and getting something in my system to reduce the swelling. I was out for two full days and only felt as though I could be in the world this morning. Still two days of prednizone but most of the swelling is gone. Damn, I don't like yellow jackets.

This is right after I pulled a stinger off of my eyelid. I didn't take any later images because, well you know, it was UGLY!

I'm good now.

More from the road!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Here's the plan Stan...

I have approximately seven months till I take off from the Mexican border and I have some things to get done before that day arrives. Of course the food and resupplies will need planning, the gear refined and prepared but the most important thing I must do? Walk, walk and more walking. Walking in sun, wind, rain, cold, and mud. Walking with weight in my pack and in the clothes I intend to wear. Deal with the discomfort while training so the thought of being uncomfortable during the hike will be... ho hum, what else is new? Been there, done that. This is not only physical preparation but more importantly I think, psychological preparation for the trials ahead.

The plan is to walk, wearing a 10 pound pack, five miles, three days a week for one month. Each month thereafter I will increase the mileage by two miles and add 2.5 pounds to the pack. By late March I'll be carrying 25 pounds and walking 19 miles, three days a week. At the end of this training period I will have 1,027 miles under my feet. If this doesn't prepare me, nothing will. Fortunately I am only one week from upping my miles to seven so all is looking good on the mileage front. Hips are sore but my feet feel fine.

Here's an image of the weights I packaged in prep. It's simply play sand poured into old mailing envelopes and taped shut. There are lots of things about this kind of training that are out of my control but at least I can be clear about how much weight I am carrying.

One other piece of good news is that I've lost 16 pounds. My goal was to lose between 25 and 30 pounds so I am getting closer. Only 9 to go till I hit the sweet spot of 25. I could definitely live with this! Thirty would be even better but not necessary in the scheme of things.

So far, so good.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

California dreaming...

Anyone been paying attention the remarkable things women are doing these days? This is aside from all the everyday remarkable things that ordinary women achieve but at this moment I'm referring to two women in particular. The first is Anish, aka Heather Anderson, the young woman who recently CRUSHED the speed record for a self supported hike of the PCT. She came in at 60 days and change, averaging 44 miles a day and knocking 4 days from the previous record set by the legendary Scott Williamson. If you want to read more you can find her on FB at and read an interview with her at

The second remarkable woman is Diana Nyad who I have been following since she first started swimming long distances, way back in the day. When she turned 60 she decided to chase an old dream she had never been able to realize, that of swimming from Cuba to Key West, Florida. Her first attempt was 35 years ago and over the past three years she has made three more attempts but each time she had come up short. This time however, she did succeed and was able to make the swim in 52+ hours, faster than she thought was possible. The obstacles were immense and for once, the stars were in alignment for her and all went well. When everything was said and done she swam 103 miles as the crow flies but 110 on the water, all without the benefit of a shark cage. At age 64. Remarkable.

So what do these women have in common and why are they capturing my imagination? Anish was a book  worm  and not a athlete growing up, nor did she even exercise until adulthood, while Diana was a competitive swimmer and a life long athlete, so that isn't it. The length of the difficulty was different for both, one taking two months and the other under three days. One was on land, the other in water. On the face of it the events are very different but there is something happening here and I've been captivated - I guess what pulled me in is that they are so tough! Not tough in a mean or aggressive way but somewhere inside they were able to preserve through long and difficult journeys, were able to keep their eyes on the goal and focus. Extreme focus. Mental toughness. This is what has me enthralled.

At age 61, soon to be 62, Diana's feat gives me hope that my body might be able to withstand the physical challenges I will face if I decide to hike the PCT in 2014. Anish shows that mental toughness can help keep one focused over a longer time, in her case 60 days but for me would be closer to 141 days of walking.

When Diana staggered out of the water yesterday she was barely able to speak due to a swollen mouth and tongue but she did manage to say the following words..." I want to say thre things. First, We should never give up. Second, you are never too old to chase your dreams and third, this might look like a solitary sport but it takes a team." Words to live by.

Mexico to Canada in 2014...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Kennedy Meadows (north)

I'm camped here Deadman campground, soon to take off on a five day horse packing trip. I'll be with four friends, one guide and a cook---named Sandy. Not to mention horses enough for all of us and whatever gear/food needed for the trip. Everyone else is going to lake and fly fish but this is wasted on me. I'll just ride till we get somewhere and then hike around while my friends search for the perfect trout. 

I attempted to shuttle hikers up to Sonora pass but no one needed to go today. When I drove up there this afternoon, no one was there needing a ride back! I tried, I really did. No matter, I invited three PCT hikers to sleep in my campsite tonight so at least I can help that way. 

I'm thinking there is a pile of fun in my future. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gear Sale

In order to fund my quest for the lightest tent possible I must, finally sell off some of my other gear. Not all of it mind you, just some of the best stuff.
Here goes.

A Torsolite by Pacific Outdoor Equipment. This was the first really wonderful torso pad that wouldn't break the back of the user. It is truly for the torso only and most people use their packs under their legs, or another closed cell pad under the whole thing. It weighs 8.8 ounces and it is made of tough fabric. It measures 18 inches at the top, 13 inches at the bottom and it is 32 inches long. This would be good for folks who want the extra comfort of an inflatable but don't want to worry so much about the thing springing a leak. Check out the reviews on the web. I paid $79.95 for it and will sell for $40 plus shipping. I probably have 20 nights on the pad. It did not come with a stuff sack.

The Notch by Tarptent. I purchased this last year (2012) at the Kick Off and probably used it on 15 or 20 nights of my section of the PCT. It weighs 26 ounces without poles or stakes. I used Ti stakes and my trekking poles in place of dedicated poles. This is a very comfortable tent and very popular. I would keep it but, I need to fund the new tent. I added two additional attachment strings to the peak of both sides as I was in some gnarly desert winds and feared the tent would blow down. The second picture shows what I added and that I seam sealed the whole thing afterwards. SOLD!
The Notch

You can see the attachment with super light string.

And here you can see where the attachments are. On both sides.

One more cool thing about this tent is that the net portion can be removed and either used on it's own or you can use only the outside. There are two very functional vestibules. Quite a versatile structure.

I paid $259 and will sell it for $180, plus shipping.

I am also thinking of selling my The One, made by Gossamer Gear. It is a great little shelter, weighing in at 17.4 ounces on my scale. I say I am thinking of selling it because one of the zippers is acting up and I will have to see if I can fix it before actually selling it. I bought it in 2009 and paid $275 for it. I used it over two or three seasons for short jaunts of a few weeks so I probably have 30 to 40 nights on the tent. I just found out this will cost me $75 to get the zippers replaced so I don't know if it is worth selling once I factor in the cost of shipping it back and forth. Any ideas?
The One

OK, that is it for now. Let me know if you are interested in anything here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New thoughts

I was chatting with my acupuncturist Caroline a while back and we got on the topic of my hike and how I felt about the trip. I recounted some of the issues I was discussing in the previous post when she said, "You know, you can try again. Just because you weren't successful the first time doesn't mean you won't be successful if you try again." Silly as it sounds I had never really given myself the option of making a second attempt. I think mostly because of personal responsibilities and the complications of leaving home for such a long time. Oddly enough her words had an immediate impact on my mood and since that time I've been seriously considering taking another wack at a thru hike. Caroline told me she and her partner are planning to hike most of the trail in 2014 and that I was welcome to join them when they started hiking north from Idylwild next spring. I don't know if I would be able to keep up with them as they are both excellent athletes but the idea of having people to share the experience with is appealing, on many levels.  

If I am to make another attempt there are something's I know I must do differently if I am going to give myself the best chance of being successful. First, I must start the trail at least twenty pounds lighter than I started the trail last time. Thirty would be even better. Why? Simply put, less weight on my bones is less weight to carry up and down hills. Add in gear, water and food and you can see why less weight where I can control it will be be beneficial, to put it mildly. 

Secondly, I must minimize my home contacts to town stops. My constant connection with home was one of the problems I had in getting grounded on the trail. Always in two places mentally I never did well at either and it made the hard times even harder. So, no in between resupply stops contact will help. Or so I imagine. 

Thirdly, I must eat better. No candy bars and other empty foods, simply because they are easy to carry and get in towns. They effect my energy levels and I wonder if some of the difficulty I had in 2012 had to do with the crap food I ate. It's easier to eat that way on trail but it isn't a good choice for my overall health and mental well being. In this vein I'm going to contact a super hiker I know, with the trail name of Shroomer, who managed to eat well on the last big hike he did. He'll be a wealth of information, he's a master cook and a generous soul. 

Last but not least is the physical shape I must be in to have the highest likelihood of success. That simply means miles on my feet with weight in my pack. Nothing fancy. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

365 days later

Three hundred and sixty-five days ago I embarked on a hike that was to have lasted six months and tallied 2,650 some miles. The hours since that day have been filled with wonder, hardship, elation and sadness. I managed to hike <700> miles before I threw in the towel yet since the day I quit, I have been in a state of confusion. I tried, I really did, to be OK with choosing to stop hiking the trail but somehow or other I just could never make it stick. Yes, I had nasty blisters; yes, I had some kind of weird stomach bug; yes, 700 miles is a long way - and a great accomplishment if that was the aim. But my goal was something else and no matter which way I look at it, I just didn’t make it happen.

Last winter was tough. Aside from my usual lack-of-sun blues, lurking over my shoulder was this failure. This not-accomplishing of a dream I have had for more than ten years. Why wasn’t I able to stay on the trail? Am I not tough enough to struggle through the hard times to make something extraordinary happen? Where did my will power go? I’ve managed to live through 60 years of life…what did I do wrong?

Too many questions, not enough answers. Over this winter I would talk with friends and they would, understandably and kindly, respond with “You walked 700 miles, I couldn’t do that!” True, or maybe not true, but this is what they believe about themselves, and me. If I could believe this as well there would be no problem. But, as I’ve stated before, it just wouldn’t stick. I’ve continued to carry around this nagging sadness that would not go away, no matter what I did. All around it’s been a tough winter.

Spring is here. The class of 2013 is hitting the trail and they are doing much the same as I did last year.  Feelings of hope, anxiety, excitement and fear rule the day for most wanna-be thru hikers and I imagine there are lots of these kinds of feelings floating around in the southern part of my state. While I sit here in my hometown, many miles away and surrounded by green grass, citrus trees and an ocean breeze, kindred spirits are moving north. I pull weeds and they make miles. My thoughts are ever with them.

So I find myself asking, what are the qualities they have that I don’t have? What could I have done differently? What is it? Why? How come?

As I said, it’s been a very hard winter…