Saturday, July 4, 2015

Day 4: Classic CDT Whoops!

July 3rd
Saddle 2mi N of S Fork Lick Creek(51.1)-Bowl Creek(68.1)
Campsite Elevation: 5,794ft
17mi + 5mi off trail=22mi

This elevation chart is a screenshot from Guthook's CDT Hiker App.

We awoke to condensation on the tents again this morning. I had hoped that up high that wouldn't happen, but there wasn't any wind last night and we were in grass, so it got a little damp. It's amazing to me how silent it can be during the night. Sometimes, I forget I'm outside when it's so quiet and wake up momentarily thinking I'm in a bed in a home. We got going at our usual 6:30am and had some nice scenic walking along the Wall for a bit longer. There were a few miles of uphill that made for a good workout. I prefer climbs like that in the cooler morning, but we were already dripping sweat before 8am. It was going to be a hot one. 

We soon dropped down into a forest for a four mile descent. We saw two pairs of southbound thru hikers this morning. Otter & Smudge and twins Lazy Boy & Medicine Man. 

There is an alternate through this section (Spotted Bear Alt) with a nice view up on the Divide. We were temped to do it, but when we got there and looked at the map more closely, we realized it was the route our 2013 fire detour took us on. It was a nice alternate, but we decided to stick with the CDT and do the route we hadn't done yet. We heard it was forested and burn sections. Yep, that was it, but we still enjoyed it as it was nice trail for cruising. 

It got pretty hot out and my thermometer was reading 89F in the shade. We both used our umbrellas to shield against the strong sun. 

At lunch, I had looked at the data book and noticed that we were a mile away from a tricky intersection. I mentioned it to E so we wouldn't forget, but an hour later after lunch, it was gone from both our minds. We blew right past the faint turn. 

E took a pit stop and I hiked on cruising. Still oblivious to the fact that I was hiking directly away from the trail. I checked the Guthook App briefly about 40mins later to see my elevation and failed to notice that it wasn't reporting my exact mileage point because I wasn't on the trail. When I started to go downhill when I thought I should be going up, I took the time to stop and look more closely. I was waay off trail! I turned around and headed back quickly not sure if E knew I had missed the turn or if she too had missed the turn. Within 10mins I saw E and told her we were going the wrong way. We hiked back wondering how far back it was and how we missed it, both kicking ourselves since we forgot that at tricky turn was expected after lunch. It took an hour to get back and it turned out I had hiked 2.5mi on the wrong trail...which ironically enough was leading to Wrong Creek! So 5mi and 2hrs later, we were back at the intersection. It was signed, but very easy to miss if you're not looking for it. The trail was in overgrown grass and you can see below that we went on the more defined path going straight. E is standing to the left where we should have gone and you can see there is a very faint path that most would hike right past...which we did!

This is the biggest snafu either of us have made on trail. We both just got lax with how easy the cruising was and this is more likely to happen in pairs too. It was a good lesson to learn during the warmup so now we'll be hyper aware of tricky turns for the GDT, although we were already going to be on our toes for that one. Here's the sign that was off to the left as well as the CDT blaze that was further away and easy to miss if you aren't looking.  

The last couple of hours, we hiked through some more burn and some slightly high brushy trail. 

The accidental 5mi detour threw off our planned camp spot, but nicely set us up for camping near a creek and the intersection that will take us off the CDT tomorrow and back to my car over Teton Pass. We got to camp just before 6pm for another relaxing night. I've really been enjoying this relaxed camp time and feel spoiled.  We both rinsed off in the creek and cleaned our clothes. It felt great! I love sleeping with the white noise of a creek nearby. I'm already dozing off as I type (it is almost 9pm) with the stream lulling me to sleep. The bugs are surprisingly mild too. 

We had originally planned to hike up an additional 4mi and back on the CDT before turning off on a side trail so that we would completely cover the section we had missed out on in 2013. We now don't feel the need to hike those 4mi each way. We feel like we've had a good warmup for the GDT and the trail seems to be more of the same of what we've been going through. We are excited to finish a night early, be in town on the 4th, and get some things done in the US before heading to Canada. A half day to the car tomorrow will set us up nicely for that. Off to watch another episode of OITNB:)

Day 3: Burn, Brush, & Beauty

July 2nd
My Lake(28mi)-Saddle 2mi N of S Fork Lick Creek(51.1)
Campsite Elevation: 7,094ft

This elevation chart is a screenshot from Guthook's CDT Hiker App.

Once again, the two of us were up throughout the night with the brightness of the moon...and also the deer that walked around the campsite for what seemed like the whole night. Here is a shot of one of them from my tent this morning as it went by E's tent for the zillionth time. 

While I was packing up this morning, I reached to the bottom of my pack to grab my trash compactor bag to put my tent in since it had condensation this morning and nothing was there. I forgot to put a new one in my pack after I used the old one for my poison oak clothes on the Lost Coast Trail. It better not rain in the next few days...We got going by 6:30am and had four miles of gradual downhill. It started out in a burn section and we wondered if it was the burn from 2013 that closed this stretch for us that year. It was relaxing hiking on down, but not especially scenic as it got quite dense and brushy until lunch. To pass the time, I listened to an episode of a fun new podcast I mentioned two days ago called Mystery Show. 

We hit a burn section just before lunch and it was getting hot, so we stopped a bit early around 11am when we came to a stream and shade. After lunch, the sun was quite strong and we got spurts of relief when clouds would cover it. I happily used my umbrella to shield myself and I measured 86F in the shade. I listened to another episode of Mystery Show. 

After a couple hours in that exposed burn area, it got dense and wooded again, but this time with a lot of spiderwebs. We saw our only two people of the day, which was two guys and a dog doing a few days to see the Chinese Wall. The odd thing is that we were all hiking the same direction and we thought we had finished the wall. Apparently, we didn't. The views and wildflowers were great!

After this stretch, we got into another burn area with some even greater  scenery in all directions. The billowing clouds made it even better!

We looked at the maps and decided to try for a saddle where we could camp high, hope for a breeze to keep bugs away, and get a nice view for the night. We found a great spot and are just loving having this all to ourselves out here. Pretty incredible!

My habits appear to be contagious. E found my Chapstick I had dropped on the trail and a small map sheet I couldn't find while she lost her bandana somewhere in the morning and the top to a Platypus bladder when she dropped it in a stream trying to fill up the bladder. She hardly ever loses things. I had an extra top so it all worked out in the end. Hopefully neither one of us will lose anything tomorrow! While I type this, E has been entertained by an alert squirrel outside her tent. She has named him Herman. Off to watch more of Orange Is The New Black. Yep, this is the life:)

Day 2: The Chinese Wall

July 1st
Along W Fork Sun River(7.6)-My Lake(28mi)
Campsite Elevation: 7,354ft

This elevation chart is a screenshot from Guthook's CDT Hiker App.

The moon was fairly bright during the night and I kept waking up thinking it was morning. My alarm was set for 5:30am and I was pretty much awake at 4:30am. I dozed in and out of sleep until my alarm went off and I went and got the food we hung last night. It's a pain and more time consuming to have to hang and then take it down in the morning, but we know it's the smart thing to do in bear country and we will get the "hang" of it, ha! 

We got going at 6:30am and cruised all day on great trail. We saw some southbound thru hikers throughout the day and it was fun to talk with them. All of them had great reactions when they realized I was Wired and that was entertaining. It's just fun to see so many hikers out on the CDT. There are even more going southbound right now because many of the northbounders flip flopped due to the late snow in Colorado this year. Here's who we met today. Top: Easily Destratcted, Scallywag, Veggie. Bottom: Will, Elena, Patch. 

We started out in a nice wooded section and had a morning climb of 2,000ft to a pass for lunch at 7,500ft. The big event of the day, and purpose of this trip, was the Chinese Wall. It was fun to approach it and have the anticipation of something we'd both wondered about since our CDT hikes in 2013. Here it is through the trees and as we approached our highpoint at lunch. 

Lunch was beautiful, but full of flies and bees...better than mosquitoes! 

We were surprised that we had done a solid 12.5mi by lunch given that it was uphill, we had taken our time, done a morning breakfast break at a stream, and stopped three times to talk to southbounders. We had a spot picked out for the end of the day at the end of the Chinese Wall to hopefully have a nice viewpoint near a lake. We realized after lunch that we only had 8mi to go to hit our lake spot and 20mi for the day. That would have us finishing around 4pm for the day, but we decided it would be just fine and we both wouldn't mind taking it slower and relaxing at camp. We hiked on and enjoyed the next 8mi along the Chinese Wall. The wildflowers were in full bloom and blanketed the ground. 

We ended up reaching camp around 4:30pm. Neither one of us minded and it's fun to have a relaxed camp. It's amazing how quickly time can pass if all chores are done at a relaxed pace. The goal was to enjoy a nice view of the Chinese Wall, so we were disappointed to find out that our campsite did not have the view of the Chinese Wall we had hoped for. In fact, it had no view of the wall at all. We didn't realize out last view of the wall would be the last and that was bummer, but we still enjoyed it. The campsite is by My Lake and obviously a popular camping area with plenty of options. There is a curious deer very habituated to hikers circling the area. The mosquitoes and biting flies aren't horrible enough for head nets or bug spray yet, but I already have my share of bites from the last two days and have resorted to my rain jacket and pants at camp regardless of temperature. We seem to have a system down with the food hanging so far. E likes hanging at night while I'm blogging, and I retrieve it in the early morning. We may change it up, but for now, it seems to work for both of us. 

While I have extra time tonight to write, I'll give a brief bio on E. She had been thru hiking since she graduated college and did the AT. E knew she wanted to hike the AT ever since she was 12yrs old and saw a presentation about it at a summer camp. She has hiked and traveled a lot all over the world The main US hikes she's done are AT-96, CT03, PCT-05, TRT06, LT08, AZT-07&11, CDT-13. E has a unique job as an ice core driller (occasionally a science technician) and generally has contracts for Antartica or Greenland for 3mo at a time 1-2 times a year. When not doing that, she and Andy(who works with NOAA also in these locations) have homes in New Zealand and Moab. Yep, quite the travelled life. E will turn 42 in a couple weeks while we're on the GDT. Since E's body has pretty much been hiking regularly for almost 20yrs, she didn't have to do hardly any training for this and easily pulled out this 20mi day today. We planned this as a warm-up hike for E's body and a good way to work out our routine together. With the unexpected pace we are going so far, we realized that we may finish a day early and get out on the 4th of July. We shall see...

As a bonus tonight, I'm going to watch the first episode of the new season of Orange Is The New Black. YAY!!!

Day 1: Unfinished CDT Business

June 30th
Benchmark Trailhead (0)-Along W Fork Sun River(7.6)
Campsite Elevation: 5,233ft

This elevation chart is a screenshot from Guthook's CDT Hiker App.

I went to bed just after 2am last night and still woke up naturally 15mins before my 7am alarm clock. I'm still not satisfied with how much I've gotten done with the blog, but it's gonna have to be enough for now. I still have my slideshows of the Tahoe Rim and Lost Coast Trail that I'd like to get up, but those will have to wait for another day. I'm hoping to get an intro to the Great Divide Trail post up before I start that in a week, so hopefully that will happen. I'm trying not to beat myself up too much that I've fallen behind with all that I'm doing this hiking season. 

As for today, I met E and her boyfriend Andy to do the shuttle to set us up for our section hike along the CDT. It is amazing how seamless things have been with logistics this summer. It took most of the day, but by 3pm we had dropped my car at our exit point and were at the Benchmark trailhead ready to head north. We really lucked out that a friend of a friend of my brother lives out here and let us leave all our Canada resupply boxes at his house while we hiked. We just didn't want to risk leaving two months of food in the car for various reasons and it's great to know all that stuff is stored in a safe place. THANK YOU to Mark and Annie for helping us! The section of the CDT that we are doing is a stretch in the Bob Marshall Wilderness that was closed to fire our year on the CDT. I was bummed to miss out on the popular and scenic Chinese Wall, which is in this section and figured now would be as good a time as any to see what I missed. 

The first half of the day, I was driving in my own car and got a chance to listen to a new podcast that was highly recommended to me. It's called Mystery Show by Starlee Kline. I listened to the first two episodes and and really liked it! I won't give much away, but basically Starlee is taking some sort of mystery in someone's life (like what happened to a neighborhood video store that abruptly closed years ago) and solving it. Along the way, she has interactions with people, as we all do in life. Sometimes the paths cross and there's a brief, yet impactful conversation. Starlee captures those tangential interactions on audio quite well. They often have nothing overtly to do with the end game, but it subtly shows how life is about the journey and not the destination. She interweaves it so subtlety into the larger story and they are little jewels in the podcast. Again, I recommend it and downloaded the rest. 

I bring this full circle by pointing out the brief interaction I had with E back in 2013  and how it was the foundation for what we hope will be a fun partnership this summer. Once at the Benchmark Trailhead, Andy took our section hike start photo and headed out as we started on up the trail. 

This is as good a time as any to mention that I've already left something headphones were left at my brother's house! That one really bugs me and I've done well with that the last two summers...dang! Good news is that E has an extra pair she gave me. First day together and I'm already showing her my knack for losing just about everything...The first 10mi or so is still part of what we did in 2013, so it was nice to see what we remembered and didn't remember. There is just something really special about getting back on a long trail after thru hiking it. 

Many memories and details flood back as E and I compared our experiences. In 2013, we were just a few days from each other. I remember the dry dust that kicks up along the trail, horses, horse prints, small stream crossings,and bridges. 

What I didn't remember is that the trail goes along along a fork of the Sun River with very scenic stretches. It was very enjoyable for both of us and we cruised 7mi before stopping for camp. 

We have a wonderful camp spot just up from the Sun River. Tall thin trees, birds singing all around, a view of the river with mountains rising high above it, and nature's white noise of the river . The flies are biting a bit and long sleeves were needed outside the tents. 

Bears (both grizzly and black) have already been reported throughout this area, so we will probably hang each night as an extra precaution. We ate a bit away from camp to keep the scents away from the tents. E also has the ZPacks Soloplex, so we'll have twins at camp:) It was a wonderful day easing back onto the trail.  The weather and trail was very enjoyable. We had fun chatting the whole way and getting to know each other a bit more. We are both pretty giddy about the Great Divide Trail after this warm up on the CDT. I'm a happy camper:)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Montana Visit

After a week to resupply and rest in Portland, I made the 12hr drive to Bozeman to see my brother and his family. Many of you will recall that my brother and nephew hiked in an afternoon with me in Yellowstone on the CDT in 2013. Yes, that was the infamous bear spray incident! We kept him away from it on this older nephew was gone for a basketball tournament, so it was the four of us and we had a great time over the weekend. One day was spent river rafting the Gallatin River with my brother.

It was a great streach that included many rapids and one section that was class IV. It is called house rock because of this huge boulder that is in the center of the rapids and makes for a good challenge to make it around safely. Here is a video of that section, which was the crux of the trip. If you can't see the video, you may have to view it on a desktop. My brother totally nailed it!

The next day we went fly fishing on the Yellowstone River and caught about 20 fish. I managed to catch four. Good times!
Showing off my Rainbow Fish and Brown Trout.

Also, while in Bozeman, I met up with my hiking partner for the rest of the summer, Elizabeth aka "E." E and her boyfriend had a wedding and friends to visit not far from Bozeman, so it works out perfectly that her boyfriend will be able to help out out with the shuttle for our section of the CDT that we will start tomorrow. I met E on the CDT in 2013 when we both thru hiked. We didn't overlap much, but the brief time we did, we really enjoyed it and wished our hikes could have overlapped more. E was planning for her summer hike when she came across my plans for the GDT. She contacted me and we decided to go ahead and start together and hopefully stick together for the whole hike. We're both looking forward to hiking together and having someone around up in grizzly country! I'll talk more about E as we hike together. She doesn't keep a blog and this will pretty much be the first time her family can follow along as she does a long hike. E has completed the triple crown and more and is just as excited as I am about the grandness of the GDT!
My hiking partner for the rest of the summer, "E"! 
We will do a 93mi warm up on the CDT before we head up to Canada for the GDT. We will hike a section that was closed due to fire when we came through in 2013. The section is in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and includes one of the highlights of  the CDT in Montana, the Chinese Wall. The journey begins, later's now 1:30am and I am just trying to get at least one post up before I head to bed. I swear I'll never learn! Here's the action at 9:30pm tonight as I got my brother to tape up resupply boxes...yeah, I don't know when I'll ever learn...This happens everytime! I'm such a procrastinator...
Last minute taping up of resupplies...putting my brother to work!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The In Between

After leaving the Redwoods, I returned home to Portland, Oregon for a week to get my act together for the Great Divide Trail. I've never returned home mid summer like this and it was WONDERFUL! I honestly LOVE living in Portland and am soooo happy with where I return HOME. I got to sleep in most days and let my body rest. I saw many of my friends and the families I work with. I got to take daily showers and sleep in a bed. I didn't eat a single Clif Bar! I took a well needed break from was luxurious! The only downside of being home is that I had to do all the dreaded prep and planning still left for the Great Divide Trail, ugh.

When I got home, there were many care packages that had been sent over the past three months from family and blog followers. Some of the highlights were some awesome "wired green" socks, a Subway gift card, and enough Mountain House dinners to cover the rest of the summer! I can't thank everyone enough and it really is a boost for me. I pride myself on earning my own hikes, but these things are bonus things that I would never treat myself to, so THANK YOU for that!!! I've written the names of those who sent things on the items and you will be out there with me in a way. It makes me smile each time I pull out a bar or dinner with a person's name on it or an inspirational note from a friend. I like to think that everyone is out there with me through the blog and this is just another level of that. THANK YOU ALL for your support and words of encouragement!
Care package goodies!
So those that know me know that I really am tortured by planning and resupply chores. Much of this week was spent on doing that for the Great Divide Trail. I will get a more detailed post up about the Great Divide trail (which is a relatively very young and lesser traveled trail) in the next few days. I'll say the planning for it ain't easy and it's been quite the summer already with so much organization and logistics to keep track of. I like to have all the information available, so it's been quite the feat to bring together a variety of sources and resources (which are probably way more than I need!). Just the maps/tracks alone came from six different sources. It's a lot to take in and the correspondence with I've had with many people for various reasons is quite unbelievable. Even with a full week to wrap things up, I managed to have many late nights. I don't know if it's possible for me to ever feel fully prepared for these kinds of trips...
Organizing the maps...yep, it's gonna be grizzly country!
I mentioned that I was fortunate to get to see some of my friends while I was in town. What was even better was that they were able to help me with some of the resupply stuff too. My friend Jennifer (yes, the one that joined me for a section of the PCT in 2011) luckily really enjoys the resupply aspect of planning and she helped me with both the Hayduke and GDT resupplies. Here she is voluntarily making the effort to portion out my Starburts/Skittles bags so I have the equal number of flavors in each bag...Now that's a quality friend! You rock Jennifer!
Jennifer portioning out the Starbursts
I also was lucky enough to have BaconBit open for a day to come over and finish up the resupplies with me...and also bring over a dehydrator for my for try at dehydrating. I eat a foil packet of tuna or salmon each day for lunch along with tortillas and string cheese. It is a significant amount of my food weight and Rockin' told me that she just found out about dehydrating tuna/salmon and that it saves over 2oz/pkg. I had to try it! We dehydrated for my longer legs and I have yet to test it, but Rockin' says it works. Here are instructions on how to do it yourself if you're interested. Be warned, you should do this outside or in a garage if you are working with strongly scented foods! I can say that with the time and effort put in, I've yet to convert to this whole dehydrating process, but maybe someday I'll give in...for now I'd rather save the time, effort (and stench!) and carry the weight. We'll see how it goes with the ones I packed! Thank you BaconBit for being there to ease me into this new territory!
Dehydrating tuna/salmon with BaconBit.
So the boxes are finally done! I want to thank my roommate Shelli for helping with boxes, allowing me to have an explosion of maps, gear, and food in the house for days, and pretending that the smell of tuna/salmon wasn't horrible! Sooo happy to have that completed and I think the hike will be cinch compared to all the planning it's taken to get there! Here's a brief video of it all that you may have to be on a desktop to view on the website...

The Hayduke was NOT nice to gear and did a good job of destroying what it could for all of us hikers out there. I am VERY fortunate to have some sponsors that are willing to send me new gear when needed. I don't like being a walking commercial, but I am very grateful to those companies that have been so supportive and I want to acknowledge them briefly here. I use this gear, not because it is provided to me for free, but because it is what works for me...

-Thanks to Gossamer Gear for the new Mariposa pack after the Hayduke rocks ate my other one up quite a bit.
-Thanks to Dirty Girl Gaiters who has always been there and such a wonderful support!
-The same goes for StickPic (not pictured) who was one of my earliest supporters. Thank You! The StickPic is probably the smallest piece of gear that has made the biggest impact on my video/photography/blogging.
New Dirty Girl Gaiters and Gossamer Gear Mariposa Pack.
-Thanks to Sawyer for providing me with new Squeeze Bags since I managed to puncture my last ones with cacti. I also use the amazing Sawyer Sunscreen, which somehow kept me pale in the desert for two months! A new product I will be trying out is the Sawyer Insect Repellant. It comes in varying levels of strength both in spray and lotion form. I am sure I'll get plenty of bugs on the GDT to test them to their fullest. Sawyer has amazing products that are used worldwide and have great videos on their website with detailed information on them too.
Squeeze bag, Insect Repellant, and Suncreen from Sawyer.
-Thanks to Trail Designs who noticed I've been using the same Caldera Stove set for almost 10,000mi and offered to send a new shiny one!
A Trail Designs Caldera Cone set after almost 10,000mi.
So that's how my week at home was spent. Now I'm off to Montana to visit my brother and his family for a few days before my 100mi hike on the CDT (June 30th) and then the grand finale of the GDT (July 6th). More to come on all that soon...