Monday, February 23, 2015

28 Days til Start Date...Hayduke Trail Planning, UGH!

Upcoming Presentations, Events & Adventures:
*March 7th: In the documentary "Flip Flop Flipped" showing in Portland at the Laurelhurst Theater @4pm(info on tickets here)
*March 23rd: Hayduke Trail (~800mi)
*Early June: Tahoe Rim Trail (165mi)
*Mid June: Lost Coast Trail (56mi)
*Late June: ~100mi of the CDT in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, MT where there was a fire reroute in 2013 and I missed seeing the grandness of the Chinese Wall.
*July & August: Great Divide Trail (~750mi)

I am just one month away from starting the Hayduke trail with Katherine! Much of the Hayduke planning is complete. What has me at my height of wiredness is the three months after the Hayduke of continued hiking, traveling, and logistics that are still being worked out. The clock is ticking and I don't have enough time. I'm even taking a day off work tomorrow just to catch up and I NEVER do that. A blog follower just sent me this personalized cartoon yesterday and I swear it was as if he were sitting with me. Thank you to Boon Cartoonist for drawing what I have been feeling for over a month now! Nice touch getting the umbrella in there too:)
Personalized "Taunting Calendar" from Boon Cartoonist
Those of you that have followed this journal for awhile know that I’m a detailed planner that detests planning. The level to which it simultaneously annoys, exhausts, frustrates, and angers me is ridiculous. In fact, I’m writing this planning post right now to avoid planning the Great Divide Trail. I got spoiled by the logistical simplicity of the Appalachian Trail last summer, and it’s making the more time consuming planning of the Hayduke Trail and Great Divide Trail seem tortuous in comparison. I'm a terrible reader and get overwhelmed by multiple sources, so this has been a slloooowwww process for me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, planning these hikes makes me feel like a toddler with no nap that is just one denied cookie away from a full on tantrum. I just want to huddle up and watch TV instead…I missed the Oscars last night with this ridiculousness!

This post will save Hayduke planners a fair amount of time and effort as I’ve done my best to make this a one stop shop for all the resources and links you might want (let me know if I omitted any). I’ve likened this to a scavenger hunt with how much information is spread out over the Internet about the Hayduke. I realize that not everyone is as paranoid and detailed as I am with prep and planning, so take from it what you find helpful as not all of it is a must read. I’m going to write this as concise and to the point as possible. Someday, hopefully all of this will be integrated into one source. About a month ago, I took this photo in a classroom as I felt like everything was taunting me with all the planning that needed to get done...

**Fair warning to anyone planning to hike the Hayduke. I recommend planning at least 2-3 months before the hike as there are many permits required and knowing your timing and plan of attack is key. This isn’t like other hikes where you can guesstimate a 2-3mi/hr pace. Many sections, you’ll be lucky to make a 1mph pace, and at some points, your days will be dictated by permits and reserved campsites. I will do more posting after the hike on specifics and advice, but for now, you’ll want to find journals of comparable hikers and guesstimate your mileage in accordance with theirs. Dates you choose will be the best guess you can make, but you’ll have a better chance of shifting dates on a preapproved permit than trying to get one at the last minute.

Hayduke Website
The Hayduke website is managed by HDT co-founder Joe Mitchell. Until a few weeks ago, the site had not been updated in six years. I was able to get in touch with Joe and he kindly updated the site with many of the links listed below. The section updates are not up to date, but the links to journals and resources are there and that’s very helpful. Thanks to Joe for making those updates!

Hayduke Facebook Group
Always nice to have a place to meet other Haydukers, ask questions, and share information. Unlike the bigger trails, there is no need for yearly class pages and this is the only Hayduke group on Facebook

Hayduke Trail Guidebook 
This original guide for the Hayduke was written by trail co-founders Mike Coronella and Joe Mitchell in 2005. It has not been updated, but much of the descriptions are still It is intended as an overview of each section with detailed descriptions including mileages and what hikers will encounter. Although not intended as the sole resource for hiking the HDT, it is one of two main guides that all Haydukers carry as it is quite detailed and informative on the turn by turn descriptions.

Skurka’s Hayduke Bundle 
Skurka’s bundle is the must have supplement to the Handbook. His downloadable bundle contains maps, waypoints, alternate routes, and a data book including water sources that are all synced with the descriptions in the Hayduke Handbook, making the two a perfect pairing. He has also included some more detailed background on the areas you’ll be hiking through and I look forward to reading that as I want to truly appreciate the experience. The frustration with the bundle is that it has not been updated in 5 years. There is crucial water and trail data that could really help other hikers that has yet to be integrated into the bundle. He has indicated that he may update it in the coming months and that would be amazing, but until that happens, it is up to hikers to decide how much they want to dig into other journals to fill in the blanks on their own…

Li Brannfors’s Maps & Tracks 
Email Li Brannfors EARLY if you want a set of his maps & tracks! If you’ve been in the thru hiking community awhile, you’ve probably heard of Li Brannfors. I am in awe and admiration of Li’s voluntary efforts with creating free maps and tracks on so many young trails. He hikes the trails and takes his own personal time to create informative maps along with waypoints and tracks. He does this for no reason other than that he loves doing it and wants to help future hikers. He has mapsets and/or tracks free for download in his personal Dropbox of files for the Arizona Trail, Hayduke Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, and Great Divide Trail. Mad respect for Li and I hope to meet him as he lives/works in the Grand Canyon and hosts hikers from time to time. It’s a matter of personal preference, as some might find Brannfors’s maps to be too busy with many notes and alternates, but they help me to see the trail more clearly. Brannfors also has some great additional alternates that are not in the Handbook or Bundle. In a dream world, one resource would combine the Handbook, Bundle, and Brannfors’s maps to make the ultimate HDT guide, but that just doesn’t exist yet…so have fun combining the three…yes, I say that sarcastically as it can be quite time consuming, but it’s totally worth it as once it’s mastered, it’s like having the key that unlocks the adventure of a lifetime! As I said, email him early and often as he's a busy many and it can take 1-2 months (or more!) to get a reply. Maybe someday he'll be comfortable with posting them on a public link...

Buck-30's 2013 Data
Buck-30 and Skittles hiked the HDT in the spring of 2013. Buck-30 put together the most up-to-date info on the routes and water sources. It has yet to be integrated into the Skurka Bundle, so click here to download Buck-30's 2013 Data it along with waypoints of the route that correspond with Skurka's Bundle. Thanks so much to Buck-30 for the time and effort he put into this!

Spiderwoman's 2014 HDT Tips
A wonderfully descriptive list of tips from Spiderwoman and The Braun's fall 2014 HDT hike! She put this together for me and kindly allowed me to share it with others publicly as it is very helpful. At the end of the document is even tips on caching and what she'd do differently if she were to hike the Hayduke again.

Other Haydukers
In the last two years, there has been a bump in Hayduke hikers and that will just multiply as more information and blogs are out there. I find it best to find a blog of someone comparable to my style of hiking and use their blog to help plan mine. Just in the last year, there has been a great increase in the quality of online blogs and they have all been very responsive to any of the questions or concerns I've had. Here are a list of the most current ones and the ones I found most helpful in my planning. For the sake of time and effort, I will refer you to the Hayduke Website where there is a more complete list that includes most public blogs that have been done on the Hayduke.

*Buck-30 & Skittles Spring 2013
-These two hiked together yet I found reading each of their journals helpful in different ways. Buck-30 has great posts on advice and planning at the end of his journal!

*Nic Barth Fall 2013
-Nic and Tuna Helper embraced the Hayduke and did some of the most amazing alternates. Nic has breathtaking photos and details on the alternates he took. Just a wonderfully inspiring resource! Unfortunately, due to government closures, Nic and Tuna Helper had to cut their trip short at the end.

*Brian & Martina Spring 2014
A wonderfully organized site devoted to the Hayduke! I wish my info here was as visually pleasing and professionally laid out as theirs. Brian and Martina also have a great video of their hike. Due to the intense heat, they either had to cut their trip short or missed a section, I can't recall.

*Again, see the Hayduke official website for a more complete list of most all public Hayduke blogs.
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I will have more detailed planning tips and advice after the hike when things settle down in the fall, but I hope this helps keep you busy until then if you are planning a future adveture along the Hayduke!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

33 Days til Start Date...Loose Ends...

The days are flying by and with about a month left before I take off again, I'm at the height of "wiredness." It's not good. I feel like I've barely been off trail and I've over committed in all aspects. I tend to work about 60hrs each week with my one day off being Sunday to catch up on things and ideally plan a bit. In addition to that, I've managed to book every free moment with presentations and seeing the select few friends who are patient enough to work around my schedule. It's so bad that I've even cut back drastically on my tv shows with just two hours a week (1.5 without commercials!). Survivor kicks back in again soon, so I'll need to carve out time for that of course.

As you can see, my priorities are a little screwy at times and I do what I can to procrastinate the dreaded PLANNING that stresses me to no end. I have no idea why I thought it would be a good idea to do a handful of shorter trails rather than one long trail. It just multiplies the planning and logistics! I get an hour here or there each day that is undoubtedly filled by random things like Skyping with my nephews over lunch, planning when to plan(yes you read that right), and creating lists in which "create a list for..." is on the list. Do you feel the wiredness radiating from these words!?

My physical activity has been almost nil the last month and a half. I will go into the Hayduke having done the least amount of physical training of all my hikes. I'll be fortunate if I find time to do one long hike with pack weight before I leave. The good news there is that my body seems to have accepted that I hike and has kept much of it's thru hiking muscle memory. The first week will hurt, but I'll be ok. I am rambling and venting, but I know I bring it on myself, and as a substitute teacher, I can take off any days I please. The plan is to do that if I don't have things in order by the end of the month, but I hate doing that considering that I already don't work 5 months each year. I work a lot (substitute teaching/nannying/babysitting) so I can play a lot. It's all worth it in the end, but I would love to hit the pause button and have the world stop spinning for a few days so I can catch up on things. All of this is good, and I'm loving that I'm living life to it's fullest, but I just need more hours in the day! The bulk of the important planning is complete, but there are a ton of loose ends. Doing this post is helping in two ways. 1) I get to VENT (solid second to hiking or running). 2) I want to tie up a few of these loose ends that are floating around in my head...

1. On my last Hayduke 101 post, I left out an important paragraph that I have now added, but I wanted to include that paragraph here for those of you that already read that post as it really gets at the heart of what this trail is all about.
Namesake
The name 'Hayduke' is one that resonates strongly with those passionate about the Southwest. The influential writer, Edward Abbey is known for his fiction and non fiction writings that spanned over 30 years. Abby's writing often centered on his love and passion for protecting the sanctity of the Southwest lands, stretching through the national parks that border Utah and Arizona. Those paying close attention would have noticed that while on the Appalachian Trail, I listened to two Edward Abbey books, Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang. Desert Solitaire was a wonderfully poetic book Abbey wrote about his time spent as a park ranger at Arches National Park in the 1960s. The Monkey Wrench Gang is a fictional, and very influential book that centers around a small group of environmental "rebels" that set out to protect the lands from development at all costs. The rashest and most extreme of the bunch was George Washington Hayduke III. Hayduke co-creators Joe and Mike, aptly named the trail after Hayduke. It perfectly captures that unbound and rebellious feel of the trail while also giving homage to the sanctity of the area.


2. The Flip Flop Flipped premiere screening in Portland (that me, the Kallins, Jett Cat, and Lint will be in) has been RESCHEDULED for March 7th!!! If you want to preorder tickets, get a refund for the ones you previously bought, or order a download, DVD, or Blu-ray version, go to squatchfilms.com

3. I've added another trail to my list for the summer! I realized I have time to fit in the Lost Coast Trail on the Northern California coast after I finish the Tahoe Rim Trail in mid June. The 56mi trail has been touted by Backpacker as one of the best hikes ever, so I thought I'd take advantage of the timing and do it while I'm headed north. Even more exciting is that LoveNote and Drop-N-Roll (from CDT 2013) will probably join me! If I have enough time/energy after the Lost Coast, I might also do some backpacking in the Redwoods as I've yet to go there too.

4. My care packages this summer will be a bit different than past summers. Since I'll be swinging through Portland in June before the Great Divide Trail, I've split the care packages into two halves and will be mailing them myself. Anything sent before I leave March 22nd will make it onto the Hayduke and Tahoe Rim Trail. Anything sent after I leave for the Hayduke will be used the second half of the summer on the Great Divide Trail. At this point, the best thing to send is the MOUNTAIN HOUSE DINNERS...they are a huge treat for me and something I wouldn't normally buy for myself. The most bang for your buck is getting the bulk #10 cans, but those cannot be sent to a PO Box, so email me if you need an address to send to. I have specifics listed on my Care Package Tab and there is also a PayPal info there for those that want to support in that way. My guesstimated Hayduke schedule is also there if you live near the trail and are looking to trail angel at all.

Whew! It was great to get this out. I will soon have the more detailed (and dreaded) Hayduke planning post up.

Friday, February 13, 2015

38 Days til Start Date...What is the Hayduke Trail? (Part 2)

In my previous post, I talked about how I first learned of the Hayduke Trail and came to the possibly insane decision to attempt it as a thru hike. Since it is a relatively young and little known trail, I wanted to give a brief overview of how this trail came to be and what to expect.

Photo courtesty of hayduketrail.org
Hayduke Trail 101
The main place to get an overview of the HDT is on the Hayduke Trail website. The idea of the Hayduke Trail was concieved by co-creators Mike Coronella and Joe Mitchell in 1998. They spent years exploring the area to create a route that would accentuate the adventure and beauty of the Southwest. In 2005, Mike and Joe produced The Hayduke Trail Guidebook. It is slowly growing in popularity as more people hike the trail. This year about a dozen or more thru hikers will attempt the hike in each the spring and fall. What Mike and Joe have put together here is quite a beautiful thing. I have an interactive map posted later in this post for those more interested in the route. More of a route than a blazed trail, the two endpoints are about 200mi from each other as the crow flies, yet weaves for over 800mi through six national parks and many other wilderness areas. The trail is usually hiked from east to west in this order crossing these main areas.
-Arches National Park
-Canyonlands National Park
-Capital Reef National Park
-Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
-Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument
-Bryce Canyon National Park
-Grand Canyon National Park
-Zion National Park

Namesake
The name 'Hayduke' is one that resonates strongly with those passionate about the Southwest. The influential writer, Edward Abbey is known for his fiction and non fiction writings that spanned over 30 years. Abby's writing often centered on his love and passion for protecting the sanctity of the Southwest lands, stretching through the national parks that border Utah and Arizona. Those paying close attention would have noticed that while on the Appalachian Trail, I listened to two Edward Abbey books, Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang. Desert Solitaire was a wonderfully poetic book Abbey wrote about his time spent as a park ranger at Arches National Park in the 1960s. The Monkey Wrench Gang is a fictional, and very influential book that centers around a small group of environmental "rebels" that set out to protect the lands from development at all costs. The rashest and most extreme of the bunch was George Washington Hayduke III. Hayduke co-creators Joe and Mike, aptly named the trail after Hayduke. It perfectly captures that unbound and rebellious feel of the trail while also giving homage to the sanctity of the area.

When Do People Hike the HDT?
Being a desert trail, the fair weather window is slim with people hiking generally in the months of Feb-May in the spring and Sept-November in the fall. The guidebook has the route split into fourteen sections and each alone would make for a great trip, so it is an option to do sections of the trail. Those that thru hike the HDT tend to take 2-3 months to complete the trail and accept that there will be extremes in temps and weather.

Trail or Route?
The Hayduke is more of a route than a trail. It's lowest point is around 2000 feet in the Grand Canyon and the highpoint is Mt Ellen at 11,419 feet. It is not formally blazed, but Mike and Joe did their best to create a route that would follow preexisting trails. Connecting those trails are where the adventure will lie. It's a combination of bushwhacking, scrambling (sometimes class 4), service road walking, paved road walking, weaving up, down, and through canyons, wading upstream for miles in cold waters, quicksand, boulder fields, and the fun of pour offs into pools of ice cold water of unknown depths. I know, crazy right?!

It Sounds Kinda Dangerous...
Yes there are some inherent dangers to hiking in such a remote desert location. The combination of the lack of water, rugged terrain, and remoteness is one many are concerned about. The Hayduke tends to be a trail that most do in pairs since there is a higher risk of injury or dehydration and little chance of others walking by in case of an emergency. I have upgraded to carrying a DeLorme inReach which is a device that works by satellite for me to be able to check-in whenever I want, text message if needed in an emergency, or use the SOS button in an extreme situation.

What About Navigation?
I have to say that I am very happy that there are waypoints and tracks that have been developed over the years. I will have the paper maps, but it is nice to also have the ease of using a GPS. I'll talk in more detail about the navigation, maps, waypoints, and tracks in upcoming posts.

Weather
The HDT runs in extremes. There will be few times when temps will be moderate. I will either be freezing or sweltering most of the time. I am really not looking forward to the bitter cold nights when it can drop into the 20s and even teens. Getting out of the sleeping bag on those COLD mornings will be a challenge. It will be quite hot many days, but it can also stay cold with strong winds. It could snow one day and then be 100 degrees the next. Seriously! One hope is that the intense heat of the Grand Canyon will hold off until June as it can be upwards of 110 degrees there. It's a balancing act as I'm starting fairly late (March 23rd) to get less of those frigid days, but it's also a race to get to the Grand Canyon before that oppressive heat sets in. There is also the timing of snowpack on Mt Ellen as it's a highlight of the trail and I don't want to be forced into taking an alternate because I left too early and the snow is too deep. So far, it is a fairly low snow year, but lots can still happen in the spring.

Alternates
There are many possible alternates and side trips that can make for a wonderful variety of choose-your-own-adventure fun. The interactive map I have below shows the main route in red with some of the most common alternates in blue. Let me stress that there are MANY alternates and that the ones on the map are just the most common ones to make the map more aesthetically pleasing and understandable. I just LOVE this map from Trackleaders. It will also track other Haydukers that choose to sign up and it will be in my "Where's Wired" tab to see where I am along the trail when I check in. Feel free to zoom in on the map as it is interactive and you can use the "Map" tab in the corner to change the type of map it is. Really fun! My plan is to take all the alternates in blue except for the central Escalante one unless the river is too high.

Pacing
It has been said that people should plan for the HDT to be a 1-2mph trail. There will many sections that, given the terrain, 1mph won't even be possible. This is where research is essential as hikers need to know where these more time consuming sections are so that they are prepared with enough food and water. There will also be some stretches on trails or service roads that 3mph will be possible. There will definitely be a full range of experiences. Most days I will hike mileages in the teens and going over 20 miles will be a less common occurance.

What About Canyoneering and Packrafting?
The original route of the Hayduke does not require (does sometimes recommend) ropes or more technical canyoneering skills. Nor does it require packrafting. Though there is a fun raft hitch to cross the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. There are alternates that can include more technical canyoneering and packrafting if people so desire, but I will not be doing those.

Water?!
There are some very long water carries on the Hayduke and there are few guaranteed sources with many being seasonal depending on rainfall. Depending on personal strategy, there is the option of caching your own water and food along the way. Hikers that cache food and water drive to locations before the hike and stash large five gallon buckets with food and water that they will later hike to. Caching is useful to lessen the loads between carries and allows for a more relaxed hiking experience with a lighter pack weight and less of a push to reach a water source or resupply location. It can make the hike much more enjoyable as hikers can then greatly reduce pack weight and relax more on the mileage demands. Though more challenging and risky, the hike can be done without caches. My plan is to hike without any caches. Many of the resupplies are 6-9 days and some water carries require ~8L of water, which would be 16lbs of water. The sources (sometimes just a small shallow pool) are not ideal with many sources having some degree of silt or alkalinity(gives you the runs!). Oh boy!

Resupplies
As I mentioned before, many of the food carries will be long since I will not be doing any caches. Many of the resupplies will be 6-9 day carries. The HDT is in a very remote area with few opportunities to get to towns. This will just add to the fun as that also means less showers and laundry. C'mon, doesn't it sound like fun!?

Phone Reception, Aah!
Due to the remote nature of this trail, there will be little phone and wifi reception. Yes, Wired will be unplugged! I will do my best to load the daily blog posts when there is service, but there will be a delay most days. Do not worry as each post will still be written each night to get the immediate reflection for how my day went. My goal is to do my best to have everyone hike the trail with me so I'll get the posts up as soon as it's technologically possible. I also plan to do more videos like I did on the PCT and CDT and those will be uploaded in bulk on zero days every 3 weeks or so.

Why Do This!?
I know my descriptions here are less than ideal, and that is why so few hike the Hayduke. It is definitely not a comfortable trail, but those that have done it, often say it's the most adventurous, insane, and EPIC experience they've ever had. Again, just look at these pictures from HDT thru hiker Nic Barth! It will totally be worth all the effort. I like challenges and I especially like hikes where the efforts match the reward. I like having to work for that view and earn it. Another pro for the difficulties of the Hayduke is that it keeps the crowds away. The idea of going days without seeing a car or other hikers is very enticing and I'm really looking forward to that aspect of the hike. It's going to be quite the journey!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

43 Days til Start Date...What Is the Hayduke Trail? (Part 1)

Ahhhhhh yeah.....do you feel the anticipation building!?.....Let the countdown begin! Heeerrreeee comes the HAYDUKE TRAIL! I know I've been a little MIA on the blog this fall and winter, but I enjoy my hibernation period between hikes and I need that time to recharge (pun intended). If you haven't followed my Walking With Wired Facebook and Instagram pages, those are where I tend to post more things from time to time during the off season. I am now just six short weeks away from setting off on another season of backpacking and it starts off with a doozey of a trail, the Hayduke Trail.

I know that very few people reading this have heard of the Hayduke Trail (HDT) before, so I wanted to give it the proper introduction that it is rightfully due. This entry will be a little long, so I will break it into two posts, but I think you all will appreciate taking this journey even more if you know how hiking the Hayduke came to be for me. It's important to me that blog readers feel that they are really walking with me on these trails. In order for that to best happen, I want you all to feel and experience it from the beginning when I first learned of the Hayduke Trail...

Two and a half years ago, I was sitting in a restaurant with fellow thru hiker, Drop-N-Roll. There were framed photos of the Southwestern US on the walls. Those iconic pictures we have all seen of unimaginable landforms like sandstone arches and surreal slot canyons that seem otherworldly. Being born and raised in Illinois and having no experience in the Southwest, I've always looked at those types of photos from a very removed and unaffected place. Those scenes are so incomprehensible and foreign to what I know and understand that they don't seem real to me somehow. Drop-N-Roll had been to the Southwest and it has her heart. She talked about it with such wanderlust and adventure in her eyes...she mentioned the Hayduke Trail...I had no idea what it was, but I knew it intimidated me. I remember saying it was something I'd never do...little did I know that a seed was planted that night that would slowly grow over the next two years...

I completely forgot about the HDT and went on to hike Continental Divide Trail in 2013. When I finished the CDT, I found myself less intimidated and more invigorated by the idea of lesser traveled trails or routes. I knew I wanted to return to the Continental Divide after the Appalachian Trail to continue north into Canada on the more remote Great Divide Trail. I had overlapped with a Canadian named Mtn Rat on the CDT and he too was researching the GDT, so we kept in touch. I knew the GDT was a two month trail to be done the second half of the summer, so I searched for a trail to hike the first half of the summer. The most obvious choice would be the Pacific Northwest Trail, which runs along the border of the US and Canada from the Pacific Ocean to Waterton Park, the start of the GDT (and also the Northern terminus of the CDT).It seemed like the ideal trip. I read a 2013 PNT journal from a woman named Katherine and, although a great journal, it made me think twice about squeezing in both the PNT and GDT when they have such a small fair weather window. Regardless, I still emailed Katherine to thank her for the blog as I had admiration for her being the first woman to solo hike the PNT and I liked her writing.

Just as I was questioning the enjoyment of a PNT/GDT combo, I randomly landed on a website from Nicolas Barth, a New Zealander who had just hiked much of the Hayduke Trail in the fall of 2013. I think someone posted it on my fb page or something. I hadn't even thought of the Hayduke in well over a year and here it was, for the first time, in its full glory right in front of me! It was a real thing and it was AMAZING! Take a moment right now to click on the link to Nic's site and look at those photos! Seriously, go! I immediately did two things after viewing that website. I sent Nic a thank you email for inspiring me to want to do the Hayduke...and I sent his website to a few thru hiking friends to see who I could recruit to hike with me since there was no way I'd be going solo! Sadly, none of them could take the bait in 2015.

I tabled thoughts of the Hayduke. I knew that if and when I was able to find a partner for the HDT, I'd have to go for it since so few hike that trail, and there was no way I'd ever do it solo. A month later, I got a random email from Mtn Rat that said simply this, "Have you thought about the Hayduke? I have been looking at it for a few years?" I was shocked! Was this really possibly happening? Had I found someone to hike the Hayduke with!? As I communicated more with Mtn Rat about the HDT, it became even more real in my mind that I could hike that route. It was intimidating, but I knew I wanted to do it regardless. I also realized that it was a perfect fit for a trail to do before the GDT. I was sold! Over the next few months, Mtn Rat realized 2015 would not work out for him to hike a long trail. I knew that was a possibility and my mind was still set on going on the Hayduke.

I had four months and 2,185mi along the Appalachian Trail to envision myself hiking the HDT. I even listened to audiobooks that were the inspiration for the Hayduke Trail. Edward Abbey's "Desert Solitare" and "The Monkey Wrench Gang." They only fueled my drive more to hike the HDT. I will go into detail on these books in Part 2 of this post. By the time I got off the well paved AT highway, I was jonesing for a more remote and challenging experience. The Hayduke and Great Divide Trail were happening! I posted my plans for 2015, and shortly thereafter, I got an email from Katherine (who had written the PNT blog a year earlier!) that she was going to also do the HDT solo and she presented the idea of us starting together. What a wonderful world! That is how the HDT came to be for me. Now Katherine (she has an HDT blog too) and I are just six weeks away from starting the trail. I still don't think it's fully hit me. I realize I've yet to still detail the Hayduke and that is intentional as it will be in Part 2 of this post, which will soon be posted. GET PUMPED EVERYBODY!!!!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Kallin's TEDx Talk!

Those of you that followed my Appalachian Trail journal this past summer were captured by the Kallin family I overlapped with in Shenandoah. Dave "All In" Kallin gave and inpsirational TEDx talk as he shared what it was like to experience the trail as a family and through the eyes of 7yr old Cartwheel and 9yr old Robin Hood. I sooo LOVE them!

In this all-too-short 10min talk, All In even shares a great story of our time spent together. It was quite a memorable day on the trail for all of us. I loved going back to both of our journals to read our accounts of that day. If you're interested, here's the link of my account of that day, Drafting Off Wired and theirs, Two Month Marathon Day.

Here is the video of the full inspirational TEDx talk. Yes, I got teary eyed! If you can't view it (on a smartphone) click here to be redirected


On a related note, if you all would like to see these kiddos in action, I want to remind everyone that we will all be featured in the upcoming Appalachian Trail docu-comedy "Flip Flop Flipped-Further Adventures of A Random Nature on the Applachian Trail." It is the final film in Squatch's trilogy to complete the AT and is sure to be entertaining. Preorders can be made on Squatch's website

Squatch has arranged a big screen Portland, OR premiere March 7th at the Laurelhurst Theater. It is sure to sell out, so if you'd like to preorder tickets click here(all proceeds go to the ATC and PCTA).

As a shot in the dark, random chance universe thing, I thought I'd mention that if I had one wish on that day, it would be that the Kallins would magically be able to fly out from Maine to see the premiere on a big screen. If anyone has the frequent flyer miles to book them a flight across the US, let's make it happen!!! 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

I'm Not the Only One

When I came off the CDT in 2013 I read an online journal written by a woman named Katherine who hiked the Pacific Northwest Trail that year. The PNT is a trail that's been on my radar and I was exicted to find a detailed trail journal from a solo woman thru hiker...and to the best of my knowledge, the first woman to solo hike the PNT(badass!). It's a great journal and we emailed briefly as I thanked Katherine for keeping a daily blog of her hike and she mentioned having seen my blog while researching gear options. Imagine my joy when over a year later, I get an email from Katherine that she too is planning a solo Hayduke thru hike this spring with the same timing as I have planned. As the fates would have it, Katherine is from Seattle, so we were recently able to spend a day together to see if we might be compatible enough to start the Hayduke together...and the good news is that we are!
Katherine on the PNT
Our plan is to drive down to Moab together at the end of March and just see how it goes. Both of us are independent hikers (and bloggers!) with prior exprience of going solo, so we are both confident in separating if we need time alone or if our hiking styles don't match up. Who knows, we could end up not seeing each other again after the first night or we might end up hiking all the way to Zion together. Either way, we're both relieved to know another thru hiker that will be out there since the Hayduke is so remote and rarely traveled. Since we hope to hike together or at least overlap from time to time, I wanted to give Katherine a proper introduction.

While attempting to write a fitting bio for the complete awesomeness that is Katherine, I realized that I could not put it into better words than she does on her PNT blog, so please click here to read about her previous adventures on the PCT, biking the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, her equally awesome husband, their love of math and personal business educating teachers and students, their two goats(and chickens), and her love for dance. While you're there, I recommend reading the whole PNT blog sometime this winter as it's a great read on a new trail. The good news is that Katherine will also be doing a daily blog on the Hayduke. She is just getting the blog started now, so sign up and/or bookmark it now as much more is going to be added in the months to come. Enjoy getting to know Katherine and I'll soon be posting more on the Hayduke and the detailed planning process we all know I love (yes completely sarcastic there!).
Just walkin' goats in Seattle...and yes Katherine is tall (5'10"). A nice advantage for the Hayduke scrambling ahead!











Wednesday, January 21, 2015

An Eventful February Ahead!

More frequent blog posts are coming soon, but I wanted to update everyone on the busy February I have ahead and the events I'll be at in Portland for locals.

Flip Flop Flipped
I never thought I'd be saying this in my lifetime, but I'll soon be in a movie on the big screen! The much anticipated and comical third installment of Squatch's Appalachian Trail trilogy, "Flip Flop Flipped-Further Adventures of A Random Nature on the Appalachian Trail" will be available online in March (pre-order available now). There will be a premiere showing at the Laurelhurst Theater in Portland, OR on March 7th (date changed). It's sure to sell out, so I recommend getting your tickets online by PayPal-ing Squatch. Here is the Facebook link for the Portland premiere for more info. Proceeds go to the Pacific Crest Trail Association and Appalachian Trail Conservancy.  
Squatch has been hiking and filming trails for over a decade. In the Flip Flop Flippin' series he hikes the AT in sections over three entertaining summers. This past summer he returned to complete his final sections of the Appalachian Trail and made the final film of the trilogy. We've know each other for a few years, so it was great fun that our paths finally crossed on the trail this past summer. Even better is that many of those that I hiked with will also be in the film. In the preview you'll notice the familiar faces of myself, Jett Cat, the Kallins(adorable!), and Lint. Sure to be a great one! Here's the first trailer for Flip Flop Flipped and while you're waiting for your copy to come in March, you can catch up by watching Flip Flop Flippin' 1 & 2!
***If you're viewing on a smartphone and the video doesn't show below, just click the link here.


Final AT Presentations at REI
If you plan to go to one of these presentations, be sure to sign up online through REI. 
*Feb 9th: AT Presentation at REI Tualatin (register HERE) 6:30pm
*Feb 23rd: AT Presentation at REI Hillsboro (register HERE) 6:30pm

ALDHA-West Winter Ruck (Backpacking Clinic)
ALDHA-West (American Long Distance Hiking Association West) is doing their second annual Cascade Winter Ruck on February 28th in Cascade Locks. A full day of presentations and seminars on all aspects of backpacking. This isn't just for thru hiking hopefuls, but also for anyone interested in doing multi-day trips. I will not be there the full day, but I will be giving the final presentation of the day on my overall triple crown journey. Register here to attend! 

Friday, December 12, 2014

On the Horizon for 2015...

Upcoming Presentations & Events:
*Feb 9th: AT Presentation at REI Tualatin (register HERE) 6:30pm
*Feb 21st: In the documentary "Flip Flop Flipped" showing in Portland at the Laurelhurst Theater @4pm
*Feb 23rd: AT Presentation at REI Hillsboro (register HERE) 6:30pm
*Feb 28th: Triple Crown Presentation at ALDHA-West Winter Ruck (register HERE)

Hello Everyone! I'm really excited to announce my plans for 2015. This plan has been stewing in my mind even before I started the Appalachian Trail last year and is still taking form. I'm more excited about this upcoming season than I've been about any other so far. Many trails are on the never ending list of future adventures, but I honestly don't have a grand plan and I have no idea what I'd like to do in 2016. What I do know is that I'm very fortunate that the combination of my simple living, working tons when I am home, and saving every dime my first 10yrs out of college allows me to hike 4-6 months each year if I like. Those of you that have followed these past years know I take a great deal of pride in knowing I've earned each one of these hikes with years of personal hard work, focus, and drive. Hiking and sharing it with others currently gives me purpose in life, so I'm going to stick with it while the pocketbook and body still allows it. Right now, these are the trails I dream about when I go to bed each night, so that's where I'll be heading.

I know the excitement of the Triple Crown is over and that many followers may move on to other blogs that focus on more popular local trails, but I hope people still stick around to see where my path may lead. I'm here to share this incredible journey and I'm just as interested to see where it leads as you are! These trails I'm going to mention may be ones you've never heard of, but they are the next step for me as I seek challenges that will help me to grow as a person and backpacker. Many of you will read these descriptions and worry about the remoteness, terrain, and the lack of "trail" (much of this summer will be on backcountry cross-country routes) of these hikes, but have no fear. I've done a lot of research and feel that these trails are within my safety limits while still pushing me outside my comfort zone just enough to take that step to the next level.

I am going to give a brief introduction to the trails right now so everyone can take all this in, and in the coming months, I'll break it down into more detail so people can really get a feel for each individual trail and my planning process. Dates will be fluid as much relies on weather and snow pack levels for some of these. You'll notice mileages are low, but that is because I will be doing much lower mileage days with navigation and terrain challenges on the two big trails. So far, the plan is to go solo unless a good fit presents itself. These trails are rarely traveled as complete thrus, but are gaining popularity with a handful to a dozen people attempting each of them in the past year. With the remoteness of these trails, I am considering upgrading from my SPOT locator device to the DeLorme InReach which allows two way communication if I find myself alone in an emergency situation. I'm still in the early planning of figuring out transportation, trail towns, and resupplies, so if anyone lives near these trails and would like to help out or provide some trail magic (or wifi!) along the way, email, me! Here we go...

1) April & May: Hayduke Trail (~800mi)
2) June: Tahoe Rim Trail (165mi)
3) June: Hopefully a few days of the CDT in the Bob Marshall Wilderness where there was a fire reroute in 2013 and I missed seeing the grandness of the Chinese Wall.
4) July & August: Great Divide Trail (~750mi)

Map courtesy of hayduketrail.org
Hayduke Trail 
I find this trail to be equally intimidating as exhilarating. The Hayduke Trail (HDT) is an ~800mi route that connects six national parks along the dry, remote, isolated, and undeveloped Utah/Arizona border. I will be on developed trails for a small portion of this hike when it does enter the more touristy parts of the parks, but most of my travel will be a combination of cross country through washes, canyons, roads, and jeep roads. I will be starting at Arches National park by the beginning of April and will hike west for two months connecting through the national parks of Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Glen Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Grand Canyon, and Zion. This photo gallery to gives and idea of the amazing scenery.

Many of those that have done the HDT in its entirety have described it as one of the most EPIC and CHALLENGING things they've ever done. It will definitely be a challenge for me and one that I openly admit, I may not complete, but I want to try something I might not complete. I'm taking the approach that I did on the PCT in 2011 on the record high snow year. I want to at least walk up to it and give it a try. I've found that much of the intimidation with unknowns are quickly dispelled if I am prepared and just try it for myself. Ideally, I'd have a partner for this one as it has many risks with the lack of water, remoteness, and periodically sketchy scrambling, but I am comfortable with knowing my ability and where my limits are. More details to come, but the hayduketrail.org site is great for those interested in reading more.

Map courtesy of Mt Diablo Summit Runner
Tahoe Rim Trail
The Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) will be a much welcomed change of pace and scenery after the Hayduke Trail. It's a frequently traveled (even open to mountain bikers) and well blazed trail that is 165mi around Lake Tahoe. It also overlaps with the PCT for about 50 miles. Depending on the timing of the HDT and the GDT, I will have a significant gap for much of the month of June, so this one will be a nice way to fill a week between trails. When I do the TRT exactly will depend on snowpack and how I'm feeling. Part of me would like to do it immediately following the HDT, since it would be on the way home from Zion to Portland (and my mom lives in the Bay Area), but it may not be cleared of snow enough until later in June. I'm going to play it by ear as if it's a high snow year, I'd also be interested in the option of returning home for a couple weeks of work (as a substitute teacher) at the end of the school year. This is a popular west coast trail and it will be nice to fit it in during the gap. I'm also open to other June ventures that may pop up impulsively.






Map courtesty of the GDT Association
Great Divide Trail
I've never been more excited about a trail as I am about the Great Divide Trail! The GDT is the continuation of the Continental Divide Trail, ~800mi into Canada. It follows the Continental Divide along the border of British Columbia and Albera, starting where the CDT ends at Waterton National Park, and going north through Banff and Jasper National Parks to finish at Kakwa Provincial Park. Like the HDT, it is more of a route than a trail that is rarely done fully as a complete thru, but is gaining popularity.

It's a trail that is often described as spectacular, stunning, and epic. I've wanted to do it since I finished the CDT in 2013 and experienced the grandness of Glacier National Park. Little has been documented for the public by previous thrus. Apparently, just this past season, a thru hiker posted the first detailed online daily journal of a complete GDT thru hike. The trail should take about two months to complete and there is a short window of opportunity (usually in July and August) to dodge snow covered trails so far north. Again, more details to come as the date approaches, but the GDTA has a nice website at greatdividetrail.com.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Death Valley Reunion Trip

I took a trip to Death Valley National Park in California over Thanksgiving break and it was a great trip combined with seeing many of my CDT 2013 friends. I don't share most of my shorter trips, but this one is worth sharing since all involved have been part of my thru hikes and I thought you'd all enjoy the reunion. Here's a brief summary of highlighs with a full slideshow below. It's a huge park with plenty to do, so I hit up all the popular sites for my first visit. I recommend the Death Valley Falcon Guide and Michel Digonnet's Hiking Death Valley, which is the "bible" for DV. My advise is to get OUT OF THE CAR and EXPLORE as some of the coolest stuff I saw was just off the beaten path described in Digonnet's guidebook.

I started off with hiking the Golden Canyon/Gower Gulch Loop and it's a great intro to the park. More photos are in my slideshow, but it was a wide canyon with options to go above for views and then a loop option for more variation.
Golden Canyon
Looking down on Golden Canyon
Then I did sunset at Zabriskie Point where I could look down on where I had been hiking earlier in the day.

I also had time that first half day to drive down to Badwater to see the lowest point in North America. Here, I'm pointing at Telescope Peak, which is the highest peak in DV and I will later summit it with fellow 2013 CDTers Drop-N-Roll and Rockin.

I camped in the free wash area of Hole in the Wall and had an amazing sunrise with rare clouds the next day.
Sunrise at Hole in the Wall campsite.
The next day was a day of wandering with another sightseeer, Jeff, who I met the day before. We did a bit at Hole in the Wall, Dante's Peak, Artists Drive, Mosaic Canyon, and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes...full detailed photos are in the slideshow below.
Dantes Peak
My first tarantula!

Narrows in Artists Drive
Mosaic Canyon
Sunset at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Sunset at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
The next day I did Telescope Peak with Rockin' and Drop-N-Roll. I will mention that the next two nights, we stayed at Emmigrant Campground on the west side of the park, which is FREE. Problem is that it is only 10 sites in basically a dirt gravel like "parking lot." We were able to ask other visitors if we could just park next to their site and slept in our cars no problem. Telescope was not difficult to hike, but my altitute weak self had to sit for a bit about 500ft from the top when I got dizzy.
Telescope Peak with Drop-N-Roll and Rockin'
The final day, I did Darwin Falls with Rockin', The unique falls in this extremely dry land! It is quite the adventure if you choose to do the scrambling and climbing back further in the canyon to see the many falls and we really had fun with it!
Darwin Falls
Another even more impressive unnamed falls further up Darwin Canyon.
Rockin' in her element on the talus rock scrambling.
On the way out, I was able to stop at Lone Pine with Drop-N-Roll where LoveNote and Burly now have a home they are fixing up. It was a great reunion and we even had time to do the hike down from Whitney Portal into Lone Pine and then see the Mobius Arch for one last sunset at the Alabama Hills. Just a great weekend packed with so much!
Hiker family! CDT 2013ers Drop-N-Roll, Burly, LoveNote, me, and little Huckleberry.
Hiking down Whitney Portal with views of Mt Whitney!
The Mobius Arch at Alabama Hills

What a great reunion! The Arch with the Sierra Mtn behind us.
Mission Accomplished!
Here is the slideshow for those who would like to see all the photos. It may only show up on a desktop computer if you have problems viewing from a phone or tablet.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Growth In The Green Tunnel

Hi everyone, hope all is well! I am typing this in the car on a drive down to Death Valley for Thanksgiving break and some reunion time with Rockin', Drop-N-Roll, LoveNote, and Burly...long live CDT 2013!!! I wrote and article for TrailGroove about my growth along the Appalachian Trail this past summer. Really proud of this one and it's a good one to bookmark and read over the holiday break. Click here or on the photo to read the full article.

Enjoy and I plan to post my 2015 hiking plans in December. Pretty excited about what's in store for this spring and summer!