The End

We left Stehekin, after loading up on bakery food, with a big group of people. We got hiking and were moving at a really good pace. A bit later into the day I came around a corner to find my friends, Sad Fish and Shutter, helping a man up from a creek crossing.  Nothing looked wrong at first until I noticed the man's sopping wet clothes and Sad Fish told me about a large gash on the back of his head. Being a wilderness first responder,  I jumped into action and started to check out the man's wounds. He was very lucky to only have minor injuries from the fall that he took. He did not have a concussion and the head wound had already stopped bleeding. I cleaned him up and told him to get some dry clothes on. Luckily he had a friend with him so I sent them on their way and told him to see someone when the got into town early the next day. We made it to camp after the ordeal and had a nice dinner together, chatting about how close we were to the end. We were lazy the next morning and didn't get out of camp till ten, which meant night hiking again. The next day we had a bunch of miles to make up for the day before so we began our last marathon day.  It was very cold all day and we night hiked into camp. Apparently we arrived ten minutes after a bear had come through, losing our last chance to see a bear on the trip. We went to bed feeling giddy, knowing tomorrow we would walk across the border into Canada. Suddenly on the last day, we ran into a ton of people. Some I hadn't seen since the desert(they had caught up by hitching around areas mostly). We moved fast and the excitement was palpable.  A mile from the border I started to get a very weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. I thought "this is it. In 20 minutes I'll have completed this journey I never thought I would finish." Instead of being ecstatic,  I felt incredibly bittersweet. Was I ready for this all to be over? To leave the people I've spent my life with everyday for months? I wasn't ready. As I walked up and saw the monument in view, a small part of me wanted to turn around. There was a large group who cheered and I was welcomed with a large Sad Fish hug. I touched the monument and let out a sigh of relief. I had made it. 2,660 miles in five months and five days. A couple minutes later, the rest of our group came in and it finally felt right. We hung out at the monument for hours, taking pictures and reading the final trail register. We camped close by and made it the nine miles put to a town the next morning.  We ran into our final piece of trail magic as we hit the road and enjoyed a glass of champagne. Through everything, hiking the Pacific Crest trail was the best decision I have ever made with my life. If you've ever had an inkling to do it, DO IT! You won't regret it. Just put one foot in front of the other.

Snoqualmie to Skykomish to Stehekin

We left Snoqualmie Pass and headed for Skykomish. What we didn't know was that this section was covered in thick vegetation with no possible camp spots so we walked late into the night to find anything that could work.  The next day was my friend, Top Shelf ' s birthday so we took it easy for most of the day. Heading into camp alone in the dark, I rounded a bend and came upon a pair of green eyes reflecting in my headlamp. I was frozen with fear thinking this must be a bear or mountain lion waiting to attack me .3 miles from camp. I began to make noise and hit my trekking poles together but the eyes didn't move. I sat there for another ten minutes before the eyes turned and I got a glimpse of a small brown tail poking up. It had been an elk the entire time. I made it to camp that night just before it started raining and shared my embarrassing flirt with death. The next day we were moving fast to get into Skykomish and did 21.5 miles before 4. But not before a rough creek crossing where Smokey and I both took hard falls on the slick rock. Luckily we avoided the freezing cold water. After getting to town, we took an unplanned zero to put off the "hardest section in washington" as we had been told. We had mice issues every night for the rest of the trip after leaving. We also passed many weekend hikers taking naps or hanging out and we realized how nice it must be to really enjoy this place. Unfortunately winter was coming and we had to move on. The next morning the sky was a mix of pink and gray as massive bolts of lightning struck down close by. It started to rain and since we had decided to cowboy camp the night before, we all shot out of bed and threw everything in our bags before the downpour occured. It rained off and on all day until the afternoon when it seemed to clear up. We hung out on top of a beautiful pass waiting for everyone to get there when we had a brilliant idea. All of us being in our mid 20 ' s, the most mature thing we could do was make a ton of rock sculptures that resembled dicks. I'm not proud of it but it was one of the funniest things I had seen on trail. We made it a bit farther to camp by a lake. Even before it got dark, we saw two small mice running rampant around the site (which might have been due to the large bag of garbage we found hidden under a rock. Bad, bad weekenders). The guys began throwing rocks to scare them away, but they were not deterred. That is, until Smokey hit one. We all peeked over as we saw the small mouse twitching and immobile.  It was then we had realized what we had done and what we needed to do. We looked away as a larger rock was thrown on top of the mouse,  hopefully killing him instantly. We felt remorse until about three in the morning when the other mouse came back for vengence. I was awake most of the night hitting my backpack from inside the tent to scare him off. By six, I had wished we had killed both of them. Tired from no sleep we woke up to the hardest day we would have for the rest of the trip.  There were two massive climbs we would have to get through that day so we got moving.  Just before the first climb, I went down to the river to fill up my water bottle. I was almost there when I slipped and fell straight into a nettle bush. I walked back up to the group with hives covering my arms and legs.  They weren't suprised. It started to rain so we decided it was time to get it over with. We moved quickly up the first climb and were rewarded with a seven mile downhill stretch.  We got to an alternate route that used to be the old PCT and decided to take it instead even though the signs warned us that it was not a maintained trail. In my mind, I thought, how bad could it be? The next two miles of the alternate took us over an hour and across two very dangerous river crossings.  We made it back to the PCT at six, to the base of the second, eight mile long climb. We hiked till 9:30 as fast as we could go in the rain to make it over the climb. We needed to get that far to get into town the next day by three to catch a shuttle. It poured down rain on us all night, so we awoke in a four foot puddle that made the tent feel like a water bed. We had to make it 20 miles into town and I hiked faster than I had since my injury, making it in at 2:45. Stehekin is a town that is only accessible by ferry, plane, or hiking in. A shuttle picked us up from the trail and took us down into the main part of town which had the best bakery and organic farm I had ever been to. We took another zero day to dry out all of our wet gear and rest up for the last 193 miles of our trip to the Canadian border.

Tired, Sick, and Exhausted but The End is Near!

We left white pass and had a few extremely cold days and nights. The only way to stay warm was to keep moving so we hiked fast. I also came down with a bad cold that I've been fighting since then. One day, a friend's parents met us on trail with a bunch of fresh fruit and goodies so we stayed for a while and played cards against humanity (some hunters had brought it with them). We also met a Ukrainian family who were out for the day collecting mushrooms. After chatting with them for a bit, they ended up giving us all their leftover food which included fresh tomatoes and tangerines. After a couple more days of hiking we ran into some more trail magic! Stumbling Norwegian and Honey Bee, two previous through hikers, were set up next to the trail cooking burgers and dogs for the hikers. They also had coolers full of sodas and beer and a ton of cookies and brownies for us to munch on. We hung out for the night as they made us dinner and then woke up to breakfast being cooked for us in the morning. I also remembered that Stumbling Norwegian was the same guy who had given me a shake down (gone through my pack and helped with the things I don't need) all the way back at kick off,  145 days ago. He was ecstatic to see that I was still on trail and still using the advice he had given me. We reluctantly said goodbye to them and made it into Snoqualmie pass where we ran into another couple doing some trail magic. They had just come from a phillipino wedding and had tons of amazing food to share with us. We were completely overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers we had recieved. We vowed to give back to the trail next year. Today we head out to finish up the last 266 miles of the trail.  This will be the last post until I reach the Canadian border but there will be more stories to come. Mile 2402.

Damn, it's Cold in Washington

We left Cascade Locks after a huge breakfast and hit the trail till we found an awesome lake that we spent the rest of the day at swimming. That night we sat around the campfire and read Harry Potter out loud. The next couple days we took it slow and waited for some friends to catch up which created a huge group around us. It started raining early one morning which is the only thing that got us out of camp and away from our morning fire. That night we got to a campground where our friend Pan had some college friends meeting her. They ended up making us delicious gorgonzola stuffed burgers and hanging with us for the night. They even made us breakfast the next morning! We lazed around at the campground for a good portion of the day and then hit the trail again. We were taking a break the next day when our friends Big Dirty and Mongoose came walking up the trail. We hadn't seen them since mile 700 so it was incredible to see them again. We hiked the rest of the day with them and camped around a lake as we shared dinner around the fire pit. Unfortunately we lost them again the next day. It was freezing the next morning but the only way to get warm was to get moving so we hiked fast. Later we ran back in to our friend Sad Fish and made a plan to get to town by Friday night. Unfortunately we discovered that the post office in town wasn't open on Saturdays and that we would have to get there earlier on friday to pick up our packages. We went into book it mode and did quite a bit of night hiking. The next day we entered the Goat Rocks wilderness and by far the most beautiful section of trail we've seen so far. We could see mount Adams and Rainier all day long. We got to the top of the goat rocks just as the sun went down and the darkness ensued. Unfortunately,  the way to get off the goat rocks is down something called the knifes edge. It's an extremely narrow, rocky, and steep section of the trail that we definitely should not have been in at night. There was no where to camp and the wind was whipping us around as we kept moving slowly down the knifes edge. We found a small depression in the rocks at the side of the trail and set up for an uncomfortable night. What we didn't expect were all of the mice that also lived up there. We were battling them all night,  trying to scare them off with rocks. I even woke up to one bold mouse chewing on my toes through my sleeping bag. We woke up to lots of things chewed on, a massive hole in one of my shoes and my shoelace eaten in half. It was all worth it when we woke up the next morning to see the sun coming up across the whole valley. One of the most amazing sunrises I've ever seen in my life. We had to get moving though,  partially because it was still freezing and windy up there and because we still needed to make it 17 miles into town before four to get to the post office. I took one ten minute break that day and made it there by three. Luckily my new shoes were in the box as well as some delicious caramel brownies that are always a huge hit with us hiker trash. Oregon was so flat our climbing muscles were out of shape and many of us had a rude awakening when we entered Washington so we took a zero day to rest our aching legs. We'll hit the trail again later today at mile 2303 and start the last two weeks of our trip. Only 365 miles to go from here! This may be my last post until canada due to the lack of service in the next few trail stops. Stayed tuned for the home stretch!

Leaving Oregon

We left Bend after meeting some friends who did the Appalachian trail for some breakfast and got the three weirdest hitches on the trip so far. The first woman explained to us that the hands of God told her to pick us up that day. The second hitch we got was from a guy who "always picks up hitchhikers" because he was homeless in the area for three years. Then his sister, who looks like she's twelve, mentions to me that she works at stars. Knowing I've seen this  before, I wrack my brain when I realize it's the strip club that was across the street from our hotel. Uncomfortable,  I keep making small talk until they drop us off. The last hitch we got was from a 92 year old woman who couldn't figure out that her car was locked to let us in. Finally she got it and we hopped in. The next challenge was turning on the car. After trying to put the off car in drive for five minutes, she realized the car wasn't on. Unfortunately her new hearing aids weren't working so our helpful tips on the car we're lost. But we did make it up to the trailhead where we ran into two sets of trail magic. We didn't get too far from the bagels and doughnuts. We hit the trail the next morning and struggled over a long lava rock section with wind blowing the rain sideways at us. It rained hard that morning and we were soaked and cold. Luckily around noon we hit the 2,000 mile marker and the sun started to peek through.  To celebrate we finally drank the shots of fireball we had carried since mile 900 for this occasion. The day turned into a nice one and we made it 30 miles out. We woke up to an amazing sunrise lighting up the whole ridge but when we left the tent, the freezing cold air hit us and we realized the day wouldn't be the greatest. We got hiking fast to beat the cold and made it another 30 miles that day. After a few more long days we made it to timberline lodge where we got picked up by our friend sad fish and taken into hood river where he lives for a nice zero day. We got to go paddle boarding on the river and then were treated to the best home cooked meal I've had on trail. Unfortunately we had to leave and get back on trail. We left timberline and took a few days to get into cascade locks, taking the amazingly beautiful eagle creek alternate. There we met up with a bunch of through hikers and spent the day playing corn hole in the local park. We slept next to the Columbia River and woke up looking into Washington.  Today we cross the bridge of the gods and enter washington, our last state on this trip. Only 511 miles left until we cross the border into Canada.

We've Entered The Northwest

We left Ashland and headed up to Crater Lake, but not before we stopped by Callahans for the free beer and bottomless spaghetti dinner. We also met a bunch of amazing people in ashland who were so willing and helpful to us hiker trash. One women asked us if we needed a ride while we were sending off some resupply packages at the post office. It was great for us because the laundromat was across town and we were in serious need of clean socks. She not only took us there but gave us her number so she could take us back to the trailhead when we were done. Incredible.  The next few days after ashland were dull. We were stuck in a green tunnel (forested area) for what seemed like forever. We did get free ice cream from a campground store just off trail. We also came upon our first group of sobos (southbound through hikers) who were taking an on trail zero day. Instead of relaxing, they were filtering water for all of us north bounders which was awesome because the water coming out of the pump was brown and murky. Gotta love your sobos! The next day we took a break and ended up being joined by about 20 of our fellow through hikers. It was quite the treat since we've all been spread out for so long. Later that day we caught a helicopter dropping off some forest service workers about 50 yards from the trail. They were headed in to observe a nearby fire and clear some brush. We got into Mazama village (the Crater Lake campground) where we ran into tons of hikers and got a chance to resupply. That night we chatted around the campfire until hiker midnight (9pm). The next morning we were treated to breakfast by our friend Duke ' s mom who had flown in from Texas to help him, and us, out along the trail. We got up to the Rim Village and caught our first glimpse of Crater lake. Five minutes later, my camera died. We hung out at the lodge for the day, sitting on the porch drinking margaritas and looking out over the lake. We made it another few miles that day and were treated to some wine by some day hikers who had just bottled it at their grandparents vineyard. We celebrated the full moon over Crater lake in style. We left the lake amid sounds of thunder and clouds rolling in. It rained on us that night but, luckily, we had set up camp already.  We woke up to almost constant thunder and got hiking right as it began to rain. A few hours later the rain turned to hail and the lightning was getting closer. The marble sized hail pounded our heads and we took refuge under a large tree. The hail turned back into rain and we ventured on passing a ridge and the highest elevation point on trail in Oregon and Washington.  The lightning continued.  We had a brief period of no rain but it started to pour again hard just 20 minutes before we got to camp. Everything was soaked but because we didn't want to take breaks, we made it 28 miles that day, making it my longest day. We caught a lull in the rain the next morning and packed up quick. A few hours later the sun poked through and we took the time to dry out our gear. About ten minutes after we packed up again, the rain came down and soaked everything. It rained most of the rest of the day until we found a camp where a fellow through hiker gave us some beer and fresh homemade salsa. It was a great end to a bad day. We made it into shelter cove, a small lake resort, where we found a bunch of hikers. We also heard that the weather was supposed to let up so we dried out gear in high hopes. As we were about to pack up and get going, a man staying in one of the cabins came over and offered us some grilled salmon that he had caught earlier in the lake.  We ended up spending the evening around his campfire sharing stories. We even got to take a boat ride around the lake at sunset. Leaving later to head to the hiker campsite, I made it around the first horse shoe pit but the second one came out of nowhere and I toppled over, backpack and all. Surprisingly it's the first time I've scrapped up my knees on the trail. We took a leisurely day out and stopped by some lakes and a ski cabin. The trail was really busy the next day. We ran into a 100k race that joined the trail for bit as well as tons of day hikers and campers. Luckily the afternoon was much quieter. I pulled my first 30 mile day that day despite having to stop quite a bit for all the other people. We hiked into Bend the next day and planned for a zero day.  We got warmer clothes, lots of food, and are ready to get back on trail tomorrow morning! Mile 1989.5. Only 680 to go!

 

 

Heat, Rain, and Fire

We got a hitch out of burney with the first car that drove by. It was an awesome guy named Fred who not only took us back to the trailhead with his groceries in the trunk but then he turned around and picked up more hikers heading into town. A few miles in we hit the wild bird cache and found the most amazing magic we've seen on trail so far. There was a cooler with sodas, fruit, and frozen candy. A cabinet full of tons of other food and even an outdoor shower and stove top for hikers to use. We stayed there for a while enjoying this awesome spot before we pushed on to burney falls. The next few days were extremely hot and dry so we had to plan our days around water stops. A few days later I was hiking when I came around a corner and came face to face with a large deer. Startled, I turned around and waited for the deer to get off the trail. Instead, she followed me and watched me for a while before returning to eating. When smokey came up, she tan and we were able to get by her. About ten minutes down trail, I turn around to find the deer had been following me and was only about a foot behind me. I sped up to a run and tried to catch up to Smokey when the deer began to chase me, only stopping when she heard the noise of Smokey ' s trekking poles. She ran off again and we were relieved to be rid of her...or so we thought. Three miles down trail at a small creek the same deer came back and watched us for about half an hour before we left. The next day we hit the trail and a few miles down, a wasp got trapped in my hair and ended up biting me four times before I could get him out then got me a fifth time on the back of the neck as he fell. I was not having a good day. We got to a creek where many hikers were swimming and jumping off rocks so we decided to join them. Once we did,  another through hiker, who was off trail to meet some friends, came in with a ton of beer for all of us. We didn't make it too much further that day. We went into Shasta the next day for a resupply and an all you can eat pizza buffet but got out of town before we got too sucked in and hit the trail again that night. The next day was hot and we had to carry extra water until it started to rain on us. It was a quick shower before it went back to the heat but we could still hear thunder and lightning in the distance. That night we were woken up to more rain so we scrambled to get the tent up in time for it to stop raining.  We ate lunch near the beautiful dead fall lakes and ended the day by watching the sunset behind the smoke of the wildfire. The smoke was a pretty incredible sight but it was also scary because we were getting closer and closer. We hit a highway where we ran into search and rescue teams who were searching for a missing day hiker.  They informed us that the trail had been closed due to the fire for the next couple sections. We all sat around for a while deciding what we should do. Do we hike on anyways or do we get a ride into town and get more information on what was going on. A few people hiked in and were either turned around by officers or the conditions got so bad the felt unsafe. The ash began to snow down on us and the air was filled with smoke so we chose to get off trail. We got a ride into the town of Etna and were hoping to get back on the trail there, but when we arrived many had said the section was extremely unsafe and they would probably close the section in the next couple days. They did and our only option was to get back on trail in Ashland Oregon, missing the border. Almost all hikers are off trail now and most are in the town of Ashland so we got to see a ton of people we haven't seen in forever. We will be getting back on trail here tomorrow and continuing the journey! There are a few more fire closures ahead but hopefully nothing as serious as this. Mile 1726

My First Marathon Day

So, after a few days off dealing with an intestinal infection, I'm back on trail! We are well onto northern california and have hit the mid way point! We left from Chester around 4 pm and hiked into the night to get about 12 miles. We set up camp and fell asleep quick. I didn't wake up until a sudden cracked rang out through the forest followed by a loud bang. A huge branch had come down very close to our small campsite. I was wide awake for quite some time after that. When I did start to fall asleep a group of wolves began to howl nearby. Needless to say I woke up very tired the next morning. We got on the road early and were making fast progress. My hip was doing really well until our first break when I began to get almost constant shooting pains. Miserable, I kept telling myself it was just a bad day and taking more aleve. I had almost convinced myself when a sudden pain struck my knee. When I looked down a wasp was there basking in the glory of my pain. My knee began to swell and sting but there wasn't anything to do but keep walking. I walked and walked and walked until I had gone 27 miles that day, my first marathon day! I was hurting but morale was higher than it had been in weeks.  The next day we made it into a small town called old station where we got sodas and burgers and headed out. We made it 24 miles that day and by the end I was using my trekking poles more like crutches. As we hiked down to a water cache for the night the sun began to set behind mount shasta. It was silhouetted by a beautiful orange pink sky and I remembered why I was out here. Why all the pain and struggle is worth it to me. I went to sleep that night extremely sore and blistered but happy to be under the stars. Today we were trying to get into the town of burney to resupply. It was only 18 miles but after the last two days they were the worst 18 miles in a long time. It was hot and my body was so sore I could hardly walk, slowing down to only two and a half miles per hour. Luckily we got a quick hitch into town and are recovering for the night with pizza, beer,  and foot baths.

The Diagnosis

As I sat in my doctors office I felt very optimistic about what she was going to tell me. My mom, on the otherhand, was cautious. The chiropractor I had seen previously had told me all the issues that were going on but for some reason they weren't getting better. My doctor came in and I explained my odd situation as she examined my hip joint. She told us of some worsening nerve infringement that was occurring and told me she only had bad news for me. If I didn't take at least four weeks off, the nerve pain could get so bad that I would not be able to move to get myself to help. Though this was slightly devastating in my mind I could only think "maybe the rules don't apply to me." Taking four weeks off was out of the question for me so I asked her if it could cause any permanent damage. She said the recovery time would be much longer if I kept going but it wouldn't be permanent.  There was my answer. I could keep going and try to maintain the pain as best I could. Knowing I had already made up my mind, my doctor ordered an X ray and told me to meet with a physical therapist. The physical therapist went through a multitude of stretches I could do in the mornings and the evenings and recommended I get a foam roller and take aleve around the clock.  I headed back out to the trail optimistic about what was going to happen.

One Thing After Another

I got back on trail in South Lake Tahoe where we spent the fourth of July on the beach with a great group of other through hikers. We hit the trail a couple days later and I was feeling good. A physical therapist had given me a list of stretches to do, I had a roller ball and was on aleve around the clock. We did eight miles out of town I I felt like things were finally turning around. The aleve was helping tremendously and it felt great to be back on trail. The next day we did 18 miles and though my body wasn't used to it yet, overall I felt pretty good. That was until I woke up at midnight with terrible stomach pains. My mind raced, what if I have giardia? What if I'm having an allergic reaction to something? Maybe I ingested some deet? I had no idea. I jumped out of my tent and proceeded to lose all of the food I had eaten that day to the bushes. The next morning I felt better and we hit the trail. After hiking for a few hours the nausea came back. We made it 22 miles before setting up camp where others joined us and we had a campfire. I had to leave twice to throw up what was left of my dinner. I woke up nauseous the next morning and tried everything to get it to go away. Nothing worked. Thirteen miles down the trail we hit a road with donner ski lodge just off the the right. They had free beer for through hikers so of course we had to go. We filled up on food and were going to hike another few miles that day, until I got sick again. I then realized, maybe it's all the aleve I've been taking for my hip that is causing all this mess. So I stopped taking it and we headed down in to truckee for the night to wait it out. I felt better when I woke up the next morning but it was short lived. The nausea set back in as we headed back up to the trail. We hung around for a bit with some other hikers then hit the trail. Things went from bad to worse quickly at this point. My hip was killing me from not taking the aleve and I was still sick. Twenty minutes into the hike I puked in front of some mortified day hikers and then again an hour after that. My whole body felt weak, I finally broke down and cried. I had nothing left in me to keep going, I was miserable and clearly the aleve was not the culprit. I turned around and hiked back out. I need to figure out what this thing is before I can do anymore hiking, so as much as it pains me to say it, I'm off trail again. Not for long this time hopefully!

Hike Your Own Hike

Sorry for the long absence,  I have been deciding on what to actually write here and have now decided to tell it like it was.
I left Mammoth Lakes after seven zero days off trail to rehab my worsening iliotibial band issues.  Almost immediately I was back in excruciating pain and it was only getting worse. We made it four miles that day and called it quits. The next morning we woke up to a ranger asking us if we had paid already... we hadn't. Twenty five bucks later we were back on the trail fighting thousands of mosquitoes.  My hip was in bad shape but ibuprofen was keeping me going. We made it 16 miles that day before smokey picked out a spot that he said was clear of mosquitoes. Boy, was he completely wrong. After sitting there for about ten minutes, we were swarmed and the only way to avoid the bites was to bundle up in our sleeping bags with our head nets on. The next morning we woke early to hit Donahue pass. On the top we took a break with some John Muir trail hikers, one who had actually read my blog! They warned us that the mosquitoes only got worse so we needed to get our hands on some bug spray. The guidebook told us of a small store in Tuolumne meadows which was about 10 miles from where we were. Since I was still moving slow, Smokey jetted ahead to get to the store before it closed. Though when I arrived at the store it was very much open, littered with through hikers drinking beers and filling up on snacks. Naturally we hung out for a bit. We were then told that there was no camping for five miles out of Tuolumne and not wanting to go that far, we all decided to stay. Which ended up with us playing drinking games until at least one am, trashed, we all crawled into our sleeping bags and passed out. At around three in the morning I was woken up by a strange sensation on my face. Rain. We all jumped up and in our drunken states tried to throw up our shelters and dive inside before anything got too soaked. The effort was futile. I woke up with a puddle at the bottom of my tent nicely surrounding the foot of my sleeping bag and my shoes sitting just outside the dry zone of my tent. Everything was soaked, morale was low. We huddles under the small awning of the general store and waited for small patches of sun to come out. The post master offering us some encouraging words, "cheer up, it's going to clear up!" I didn't feel too cheery but after four hours of hiding out, the sun peeked through! We had a dance party in the parking lot before throwing all our wet gear out to dry. I got ready to hit the trail again and threw on my pack. We walked about a quarter mile before I knew something was wrong in my hip. I couldn't understand how it was getting worse when I had taken so much time off and seen a chiropractor.  I went back and forth but decided it was best to take care of this now before it got any worse. I decided to go home, something I didn't think I would be doing for another two and a half months. I was worried, what if people saw me? What if they thought I was weak? What if they thought less of my journey because I jumped off? All things that went away when I remembered that this whole trip is about me and I can't let things like that dictate my hike. Was I devastated to leave the trail? Absolutely but hiking through tears everyday was not what I signed up for. My parents came and met me in Tuolumne where we got food at the Woah Nellie Deli, which is the nicest gas station restaurant you will ever find. We started the long drive home and I got to see my amazingly supportive aunt and uncle along the way which boosted my confidence about making the right decision.  The next few days were filled with doctors visits, X rays,  chiropractic therapy, stretching, and rest. I also got to see a few friends I had missed quite a bit since the beginning. A nice vacation from my vacation

The Day We Won the PCT

We left Kennedy Meadows and with it, my friend Pinch who I hiked over 700 miles and 45 days with. It was very hard to leave but the pull of the sierra took me away. I headed out with Smokey and Juneau,  two guys we had been hiking with off and on from the beginning.  We put in big days starting the sierra and it was incredible. The lizards were replaced by chipmunks and the mellow terrain of the desert turned into high elevation changes. We were also carrying extra weight of more food, clothes, and a handy bear canister. It was tough but we made it through the first few days without too many complaints. The views were totally worth the pain. One day, as we hiked uphill a thunderstorm started brewing and it began to snow and rain. The thunder was slowly getting closer so we hunkered down under a large tree and debated on whether to wait it out, hike through it, or set up camp for the night. After an hour the thunder had subsided and we headed down into crabtree meadows where we were safe from the storm. We made it to the base of Mt. Whitney that night and planned for a days detour to summit the highest mountain in the lower 48. It took forever to climb the 4500 feet from our camp to the summit as we passed tons of day hikers struggling up with us. We hit the top around 2 pm and began taking pictures. As we did, the weather started to roll in and the snow came down hard. We took shelter in the small cabin at the top and were joined by four day hikers who warned us that the lightning had started. They waited a bit but decided they needed to head down before the trail was covered in snow. The three of us waited and started planning for a night on the top of Mt. Whitney in a thunderstorm. We got in our sleeping bags and slowly fell asleep. When we woke up a few hours later the sky had cleared and the sun was beating down on the mountain once more. We packed our things and headed down the eight and a half miles to where we had left most of our food and some gear. We made it back in the dark around 9:45 and were thankful to be back at 10,000 ft again. We slept in the next morning and then headed out, planning to hit Forester pass, the highest point on the PCT. Unfortunately we got there in the late afternoon and were plagued with soft and wet snow on the north side as we came down off the pass. It took us two hours to go less than two miles but it was so worth it. We slept in again the next day and then tried to dry out our wet gear. Four miles down the trail we hit a trail junction where Smokey and I were planning on leaving the PCT to head into town to resupply.  Unfortunately Juneau was not and we had to part ways with him there. Over kersarge pass, Smokey and I got to the town of Independence and waited for a hitch into Bishop, a larger town with a better resupply. After almost an hour a man in a van pulled over and offered us a ride. We entered Chuck's van and were surprised by the foot of garbage covering every open space. He reassured us that it was his friends van that owned a local motel in Bishop. So naturally we ended up staying there. In town, we caught game five of the stanley cup (unfortunately), and got to go bowling for the evening (I won). We ended the night with some late night Micky D's and prepared for a nice relaxing zero. Only halfway through the sierra and loving every minute of it! Mile 788!

No More Desert

We left hikertown that night and hiked out a few miles. We saw our first scorpion which made all of us tighten up our sleeping bags later that night. The next day we hiked through a wind farm and found some shade underneath an overpass. As we napped, a nice big snake slithered into the area and knocked my trekking poles over on itself. I'm not proud of it but I did throw two people in front of me as it slithered away angrily.  We headed into tehachapi the next night and filled up on pizza and beer. We crammed five smelly hikers into a three person seedy motel room and had a blast. We met a bunch of great people there who were more than willing to give us rides and set up water caches along the trail. We left the next afternoon and hiked with a man named Vince who gave us cold beers and tangerines. I ran out of fuel that night out of town and came to terms with the fact I'd be eating cold dinners for the next week. The next nights dinner was a total flop but was saved with some mashed potatoes and lots of garlic salt. I got the hang of it after that but I won't be going no - cook for a long time. The next few days were hard and hot, we could really feel the desert. We saw three rattlesnakes and one was over four feet long and a Mojave green (a more aggressive rattlesnake) that came right through our break spot and ended the relaxation real quick. We also ran into some amazing trail magic. We walked up in applause to a cold soda and massive quesadilla as well as boxes full of donuts and cookies. It was one of the greatest things we could have imagined. The next day we had a 2400 foot climb over five miles in the dead heat of the day. I went first and got it done as quickly as possible. As we got to the saddle we saw our first glimpse of the Sierras. It's one of the most beautiful things we've seen so far and we knew our time in the desert was almost over. We made it into Kennedy meadows, mile 702, and filled up on food and more beers. We also hosted a cocktail party in our camp with brownies (thanks mom), chips and salsa, and make shift margaritas. We leave here tomorrow after a nice zero day and head into the sierra! Independence here we come!

P.s. pictures to come soon!
P.p.s. mom and dad I'm fine there's no cell service in Kennedy meadows. Call you in 7 days

A Big Low to a Big High

We got another late start and then missed the turn off for our first water source. We decided to push on instead of back track to the next, a couple miles up. We didn't realize that this water source would be covered in poodle dog bush(a fluffy, smelly bush that causes a similar rash to poison oak but is harder to get rid of). We managed to get around it but were at a loss for places to take a break. When we finally found a spot clear of PDB, we took a break and heard of an upcoming detour from some other hikers. We had never heard or read anything about this detour so we didn't think too much of it. Pushing on, we ran into Todd and Cara and planned to hike to a campsite 2.7 miles from where we were. When we got there, we found a small flat area at the side of a road that was experiencing 50 mph winds. We decided to push on to another "for sure" campground in 3 miles. Little did we know what we were getting into. As the night became darker, the trail became narrower and much more shrub-filled. We were bush wacking through PDB and massive other plants. The headlamps came out. Mine was dying. We were in trouble. We could no longer see the trail anymore and as we hiked on, the trail began to slant down towards the edge of the ridge. Swearing was plentiful. 
Arriving at the camp exhausted and frustrated we searched for the campground. It did not exist. We found a small slated piece of area, clear of PDB, and although we were in for a rough night, we set up camp. The next morning, we woke up sitting in a cloud. Everything was completely drenched and we hadn't slept most of the night. We stuffed our wet gear in our bags and headed out. The terrain the next day was also pretty terrible. Trees had fallen across the trail all over and it made for a slow morning. There was a ranger station at 12 miles so we dried out our gear and ended up falling asleep for three hours. Needing to make it another eight miles that day, we pushed on to a KOA where there were rumors of pizza and Chinese food delivery. We met up with a bunch of people there but were too late for food. It didn't matter. We had dreams of getting to the saufleys (a trail angel's house also called hiker heaven) the next day and knew the trip had to be looking up. A sign the next morning told us they were full and our spirits dropped. We had packages sent there so we had to go in anyways. As we walked in, we were greeted by John Deere,  a volunteer at hiker heaven, he showed us around and we were astounded by what was there for us. Hiker heaven was exactly what it was. Cots everywhere, hot showers, laundry that smelled incredible, bikes for hikers to ride into town, and the most welcoming people at every turn. We took a zero day there and got to recover and resupply, I also got some new socks courtesy of Pinch who ran to Rei. Before heading back out, we received the most loved filled hug from Mrs. Saufleys as she wished us well. We left with a good group of people and had a nice breakfast. I booked it and made it to camp two hours before the rest of the group. We enjoyed a nice dinner surrounding an unlit campfire. The next day it was a short six miles to a water cache called hiker oasis. It was the only shade for miles and under the tree were chairs, water, and a cooler full of beers and soda. To celebrate the memorial day weekend, we felt it was appropriate to shotgun those beers. Seven miles more we hit a road with a van. The woman asked us if we were headed to the Andersons (another trail angel house) and then told us to pile in. Upon arrival we were greeted by a round of applause and told to pick a Hawaiian shirt to wear. The Andersons was a blast, we got to drink beer and eat amazing taco salad. We left the next morning and formulated a plan to hike around the powerhouse fire closure. We picked an aquaduct and began walking. It was hot and there was no shade so halfway through we threw our packs down, ripped off our sweaty clothes and jumped in. It was one of the highlights of the entire trip by far. Early the next morning we made it to hikertown, a property with a facade of an old western town. There were a litter of 11 five day old puppies which took up most of our time. Pinch was waiting for a package that hadn't arrived yet so we decided to stay the night. The next day we woke up late, still waiting for the mail, when my good friend from Chico, Lil, showed up with her husband Justin. There was much hugging and catching up when suddenly our friend Smokey came walking up after taking a few days off to visit his brother. It's been great to be around good friends again. Leaving hikertown tonight to night hike some more miles! Mile 517.

Boy Scouts and Bugs

McDonalds was a blur of French fries, burgers, and smelly hikers counting calories. I made it to about 1500 but there were others who were trying to push 7000. Bad idea. We beat most of the heat there that day then spent the rest of the day light hiding under an overpass. It was HOT. We hit the trail again around 5 even though it was still about 90 degrees. We hiked into the night and it seemed as the night got darker, the trail got steeper. In the distance we saw the headlamps of other  up the trail. It was going to be a looong night. Made even more discouraging when we checked the map and read the words "virtually no camping." We hiked late into the night and I was moving at a snails pace. We finally found a road and set up camp on the side of it. Too tired to make dinner, I shoved some chips in my mouth and passed out. The next morning we woke up on a time schedule,  we needed to make it 17 miles into Wrightwood by mid afternoon to get our packages from the post office. Luckily when we hit the deserted highway to hitch in, two really nice gentlemen were just finishing up a nice day hike. They weren't heading in the same direction but they gave us a ride anyway. We got our bounce boxes filled with goodies and notes

 

And set up outside the local bar to sort through everything. As we waited our friends Todd and Cara joined us and said they were staying overnight and were wondering if we wanted to share a cabin at the local inn. Our plan had been to hit the trail later that night but laundry and a shower were too tempting, we chose to stay. While the laundry was going we were forced to wear makeshift outfits out of what we had. 

This was mine(before shower). We had a blast with them and got a good fill of pizza and beer. We took a long morning getting out of town, enjoying our coffee and finishing up all the last minute tasks. We hitched back up to the trailhead with our new hiking buddies (Todd and Cara). The first few miles were really nice and easy. Until we hit mt. Baden Powell. A 4000 ft elevation gain in 4 miles to get us up to 9000 ft. I was worried because of the quick elevation gain and it would be the highest I had been since the altitude sickness.  We took it slow but made it to the peak! 

 

The trail down wasn't as enjoyable. It was a steep downhill with many downed trees we had to climb over. We made it to a campsite in the dark and the first thing that hit us was the smell. I asked who was cooking rotten fish while Cara asked who was burning trash. Turns out it was the pit toilets that hadn't been cleaned out in ages. We were also welcomed by 50 other headlamps of boy scout troops we were surrounded by. As I'm sure you could guess, the morning was as enjoyable as the previous evening had been. Boys running everywhere, shouting, breaking things, causing general disarray around the campground. We headed out and took a lot of breaks. We had to take a detour around an endangered species area and ended up road walking for three miles on the asphalt. It was killer on the joints. We made it to a much less crowded boy scout camp and set up for the night. Cara and Todd made us popcorn and we got in bed, but not before I threw a snickers in my mouth. As I lay there watching the stars, I felt a bit of snickers left on upper lip. I tried to pull it into my mouth with my tongue but when that didn't work I used my hand to pull off the rogue piece of chocolate... It was not chocolate. It was a large beetle I had been poking with my tongue for about five minutes. I slept uneasy that night. Mile 400.9

Bye, Bye, Big Bear

The day we left the big bear hostel, we were at it again with a lot of ambition for the days progress. Until about six miles in when Pinch didn't feel so good and our friend Sad Fish was still struggling from the night before. We made if to a small bridge about ten miles in when we decided to take a break with Smokey and Sad Fish. We ended up sitting there for over 2 hours. We didn't make it too much further that day... Pinch and I got up the next day and planned out our 20 mile day. At mile 12, we decided we could go further. We ended up making it 23 miles to a bridge with nice beachy campsites down below. My knees and feet were aching but it was nice to know that the next day we would be crossing mile 300. We slept in for a bit this morning and got a nice start. Ten miles in we happened upon some clothing optional hot springs. Pinch and I were apprehensive at first but sitting in hot water sounded like heaven.  We were met first by Guino,  a pct hiker that never seems to actually be hiking, he had a bottle of rum which helped to prepare us for what was about to happen. The first sight was of a man in only a white t-shirt, that is it. He was working on the hot springs (clearly a regular) next to us which involved a lot of bending over. Thank god for the rum. There seemed to only be naked middle aged men until Pinch realized her underwear would be see through anyways and ditched them. Thank god for black underwear. It was really relaxing and disturbing all at the same time. But things were going well, until I realized I was out of fuel with no town for another 62 miles. Luckily, an incredible stranger had a fuel canister and gave me what was left of his. Thank you weird stranger! When the rum wore off and the weirdness grew, we got out of there quick. A long, hot and dry ten miles followed the hot springs and I couldn't help thinking we should have stayed longer. Which brings us here, to mile 328.5, under a large tree, sitting beside a lake. We've gone about ten miles today but they have been incredibly unappealing. Tomorrow we pass a famous through hiker McDonalds and milkshakes are on our minds. 
From the words of my good friend, Ursa (Trevor), I'll see you at the next water source!
-Goosebumps

Pizza, Puzzles, and My Mama Pinch

We left Ziggy and the Bear's late the next day after some pouty faces and hugs. We headed into one of the least scenic days we had seen by far. Through a wind farm and many, many switchbacks, I started to feel like I was getting a cold. We did only ten miles that day so I could get some good sleep before heading out the next morning. Luckily I felt a little better and we headed out for another 20 mile day. It was the first day we encountered poodle dog bush, a plant that causes a painful rash that's hard to get rid of. We steered cleared, mostly because of the horrendous smell. I also walked right past a large rattlesnake without noticing until I heard curse words coming from behind. That night we walked into a campsite and ran into our pal, Smokey, who we figured was up ahead.  After a cold night and some bad dreams, my cold had come back full force. We headed up the entire morning till we reached 8500 feet. This is when I knew something was wrong. It was very difficult to breathe and I suddenly became light headed and nauseous. It was altitude sickness and I needed to get down of the mountain. We got to a road and sat down to check the maps. The trail only went up from here and wouldn't be going down for another five miles. I made the decision to call for help from a local trail angel who arrived within half an hour to take me to
the big bear hostel. Checking in with Sarge, the innkeeper,  was a blur but he made sure I was alright and walked me back to my room. Now at 2000 less elevation I felt much better, and I'm sure the shower helped too.  There were tons of hikers at the hostel and we had all been leap frogging (on the trail) each other for a while now so it was nice to be with familiar faces. We watched star wars on vhs at the hostel and then it was time for dinner. Pinch had just arrived at the trail head after hiking a whopping 26 miles to get there that night. I sent someone from the hostel to pick her up ( usually you can hitch hike but she's a girl alone at night). Then Smokey and I grabbed a bunch of pizza and some wine to bring back for her. We had a blast that night getting to know each other better, sharing trail stories, and talking about the plans for our first zero day (day when you hike no miles) since the border. You'd think through hikers would like their sleep, this us not the case. I woke up at 6:45 to everyone making pancakes and cofffee, the hikers who had zero'd the day before getting ready to take off. It was nice to drink a cup of coffee and watch them leave, wondering if we'd ever catch up to them. Our zero day was filled with food, more star wars, and an 1000 piece puzzle that took about 8 hours (except for the 5 missing pieces, we called it a win)

 

We also got to grab lunch with Godzilla, a 20 year old from Japan, who barely speaks English and came out here when he saw the sierras in a magazine! One of the sweetest people we have met so far. He says he is looking forward to his first big American steak. The people at Big Bear hostel and the town of big bear lake were incredible to all of us dirty through hikers. Big shout out to them and if you're ever in the area definitely check it out!

Until next time,
Goosebumps

Snow, Snakes, and that Damn Wind

Today we are at mile 210 at another trail angel's house. The last hundred miles were definitely a whirlwind compared to the first.
I finally received my trail name from Warner Springs monty.  As we left Warner Springs, Pockets comes walking in at the exact same time. It was magical because we weren't sure if her leg had gotten better or worse. It's amazing coincidences like this that happen on trail often that give me goosebumps.  So Monty named me Goosebumps. It's been fun to relay my new name and become a part of this incredible group of people.
I saw my first rattlesnake of the trip, though many have yet to see any. This one was about a foot and a half long crossing the trail in front of me. He only rattled a bit as he passed by. Pinch says I handled it well but I think it's just because my whole body was frozen.
We spent an awesome nero (day where you only hike a little) in Idyllwild with some friends we've been leap frogging with for the past week. I also hitchhiked for the first time with mark, a retired firefighter in the area who had some friends hiking, and his adorable boxer, Bob, who I fell in love with on the 15 minute ride. Then it was back to the trail around the fire closure. We got up to 9000 feet and suddenly it was no longer warm and sunny. We were hit by the wind all day long. We took a break and ended up falling asleep for a few hours. When we woke up it was 5:30 and we still needed to travel about 8 miles to get below 6500 feet and out of the snow storm that was brewing. We ran into the guys and ended up following them to mile 190.5 where there was a campsite. We were still at almost 8000 feet so we knew the weather was going to hit us. My tent only collapsed once but it struggled to stay up the rest of the night. We woke up to extreme wind, some snow, and a very cold morning. We booked it down those first few miles and the layers started to come off as we descended.  In total we came down 8000 feet to hit the desert floor, which was no picnic to walk through either. After going under an overpass, a torrential downpour occurred and with the high wind we were soaked in a matter of minutes. It was heaven when we got to Ziggy and the Bear's and were greeted with warm water, chairs, and cover from the elements. We also scored some ice cream after dinner. Now we head to big bear city!
- Goosebumps

100 Miles

As I type this I'm sitting in Warner Spring Monty's(another wonderful trail angel) living room soaking my feet in Epsom salt and water trying to get rid of the blisters that have plagued me for the last week.
We are here. We've made it 100 miles from the border and the thought of doing that 26 more times comes every once in a while but this is our first great milestone.
Kelley and I left kick off after dinner on Saturday after a huge rain and wind storm had hit the night before. We were trying to beat the massive group that planned to leave early Sunday morning. It was the first time hiking the PCT at night and it was incredible though we had a minor navigation error. I thought as I fell asleep that night, that this is really it, we've started this major journey. We woke up to the sunrise the next morning and busted out 22 miles to a campsite where we found a note marked "aviator girl and girl from Seekonk, I'm at site 25." Our friend, Ray, had showed up earlier and was hoping we'd make it that far.  We showed up to find many familiar faces, and eventually worked out names. As we chatted and made dinner another 8 hikers trickled in and set up camp. The following morning we woke up to an almost bare campsite, (those Damn early birds) but we weren't the last ones. We packed up and headed out. One thing about the desert I've learned is that it is NOT flat. This day we spent most of on the side of a cliff till we caught up with Ray and got to the next water source. A tank in a field with a sign that read "not potable water. For horse consumption only." I only got two flies in my water bottles. After that we met up with our friend , Pockets, and headed down to an awesome sandy wash to sleep. I took off my socks that night to realize my pinky toe had grown a blister the size of my pinky toe. I almost got the trail name 6 toe. After some foot surgery it was time to start the next day . Pockets pulled something in her leg and was out for the day so Kelley, now "in a pinch", and I headed out to one of the hottest and most windy days we had seen yet. We also were on a 24 mile waterless stretch and had to carry over 6 liters(12lbs). We finally found sanctuary under an overpass with about 20 other hikers trying to beat the heat of the day. We stayed there till the sun went down then headed out from there. Along the way we met Bipolar, the pct trail nurse, and he was looking for a girl all day that had 12 blisters. Unfortunately he had found her. He gave me a ton of tips for treating my blisters and then sent us on our way. We set out the next day and were almost blown off the mountain by 80 mph winds that stayed with us till the afternoon. We took a small siesta to get out of the sun then finished hiking in an oasis of trees and cool sand. We had hit 100 miles that day and my reward was the last jolly rancher in my pack (thanks aunt julie! ). It only lasted about 5 minutes but it was one of the most satisfying things I had experienced. Today we rolled in to Warner Springs, the first major trail town (with a population of 203), and headed to the post office for our first resupply packages. Then it was off to the community center where we got to see a ton of friends who we had met along the way, including Ray, Emylee, and Phil. Our amazing trail angel picked us up from there and let us shower, do laundry and is now cooking us dinner!

The Beginning

Day 1 and 2

My trip started with saying goodbye to my parents at the airport. After they drove away I was on my own. The days leading up to my departure were filled with anxiety and excitement all mixed into one. My stomach was in knots while my brain was reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. When I walked through security and was suddenly alone, the anxiety disappeared and I could relax.
I sat in front of a baby on the plane which deterred and thoughts of sleep but I did get a free glass of wine out of it so I didn't mind.
 I arrived at San Diego with all my gear and a phone number for a man named Girlscout (trail name). He said he was waiting for some other hikers to arrive but he'd be there in an hour. As I waited I spotted two obvious looking through hikers, Phil and Emylee, a married couple from suburban Chicago.  From there if was off to Scout and Frodo's (notorious trail angels in San diego) for some dinner. I was not prepared for what we were walking into. 65 through hikers were spending the night there and being dropped off in the morning. Thank goodness the 3 of us were staying with Girlscout. There were people everywhere!
The next morning, at the trail head, was an event like none other on the PCT. Over 70 people started walking in the hopes of reaching Canada that day. I began hiking with Phil and Emylee and was pleasantly surprised by the ease of the trip and how much I enjoyed my companions... until mile 7 when the trail started creeping uphill and the sun was beating down on our packs. I slowed down to take a few breaks while they went ahead. I was struggling, but much to my surprise I wasn't the only one who could admit it. We were all struggling and instead of acting tough we all expressed it. It's a gratifying feeling that I've never experienced before. I wasn't the odd man out huffing and puffing in the back of the pack, we were all doing as well as we could at the time, and there was no shame in that.  We made it over 20 miles the first day to make it into lake Morena the day beforere kick off. We went to sleep tired, bruised, blistered, and dirty (I may or may not have been voted dirtiest feet in our camp) but with extremely high spirits and hopes for this adventure.
Day two began with drying out the condensation that had formed on our sleeping bags and tents then heading to the vendors area of kick off. It was awesome. I got my pack shook down (gone through with and experienced through hiker) Which ended up getting rid of over 2 pounds. I also went to get my pack sized to fit my body and they ended up trading me for a new one that was a better size for me. I ended the evening talking to some great people; kelly, arctic, and softwalker (my favorite). I hope to hang with one of them for the next few days of this journey. Overall it's been nothing and everything I expected.