2013: I hiked more miles then ever before. A single hiking season. I travelled by foot for months, a cathartic practice complete with struggles of gained wisdom. Details collected on trail amount to pieces of understanding, caution, experience. Astronomical. Stacks and stacks: ideas about food and footwear, rain-proofing and routes. Beyond practical gear or system improvements lingers a ruminating renewed sense in community. Solitude and company: balanced and whole; walking through towns or campsites to find people involved with the magic of trail: a meditation on humanity. Of all the ways this path could’ve gone, a reflection in my mind’s eye displays considerable fervor, rapture at the ways of wanderlust. I am continually reminded of what happened, what I did, what we did…the story of the walk.

Any chance I get, I find myself mentioning trail; someone at my job talks about a home power outage, suddenly I’m prompted to discuss night hiking. I jump at subjects revolving around joints, foot pain, hunger, water and exercise. As much as my friends, family and colleagues often pursue answers referring to day-to-day life on trail, I can’t help but wonder if my references will subside. Perhaps on a social level. Maybe not on a mental level: quiet flashbacks will remain, recollection of images, smells, sensations and sights. All of it, adding up…snip-its, smears and portions of an overwhelming journey will always and forever stay nestled in my spirit.

The inextricable memories and the growth of heart on trail, does it make us more hiker savvy? Does it legitimize the insanity of a thru-hike? I say, yes, being so as it is, I continually think of future treks.

On and on. A void. What to do after the purpose of hiking north ceases to apply? Ponder the curiosity. Awaiting new challenges…

2014: HIKE THE INMAN 300 (urban 200 mi thru-hike of Los Angeles).


I no longer walk with a hiker hobble. I can run.
I skip stairs again.

I eat spinach and bananas and eggs and piles of variety in freshness.

The headaches from stimulation overload
(music, lights, pollution, the general public) have softened.
So acute: habitat adaptation!

The shift of re-entry lurks with a distinct nostalgia I am only beginning to make sense of. The sparkle, the entity of trail is the impulse to continue.


Dear Readers,
What an expedition!
I write to you from a friend’s cabin near Skykomish, Washington. Roughly 180 miles from the Northern Terminus PCT monument. October has arrived. The end of September brought an onslaught of storm within the last ten days. This means thick mud, slippery rocks, non stop rain and dropping snow levels. The temperatures hover in lower forties/ high thirties: a damp cold wind to cut straight into your heart…past the jacket, the wool, your sternum. It has become a familiar Pacific Northwest type of freezing determined to zap core heat. Tactic? A frontal weather system turning blue skies to white. For days and days. A solid gray mist stagnation.

For the PCT class of 2013, this presents conditions of scary nature. Fighting the north cascades to the border monument will mean snow bound skills. The terrain is rugged and steep. Many of our hiking companions have made choices to face the situation: as we have summer hiked in extreme heat (minimal storms), gear changes are required to tackle the remaining trail. A few hikers have taken side trips to Seattle for extras: boots, merino wool suits, micro spikes, knee-length gators, even ice-axes. Another choice many fellow hikers in the main-pack have chosen: home/ season is over this year.

It is difficult to convey the magnitude of deciding and the emotional/ mental torture involved in such. The desire to reach that monument is astronomical, especially after the impact of walking so far. Life on trail with trail peoples has become our home and family. At least we can find comfort in knowing so many of us face the same predicament. As much as the border photo calls out closure; the journey shines with everything I expected. The people, the sights. After five plus months of incredible vistas, exhilarating mountain ridges, buttes, bluffs and rocky outcrops…After the body demands, the foot pain, the aches and wounds…of course I want to see that monument. To walk up upon it.
So badly.
Most of all, above any hardship: the trail brought me people and moments.
I’ve laughed so much. I’ve cracked up to pieces over a litany of inside jokes, ironic situations or that lining of strange humor found in suffering within the confines of uncontrollable Mother Nature. The comic quality of this endeavor presents an unmatched insanity. Hilarious! Walk, with stuff on your back for a marathon distance nearly every day (over rubble, elevations, basins) set up sleeping systems, attempt to feed yourself, then break it all down the following day, moving your belongings a little further north. For months.
It’s funny.
I’ve cried harder then ever. I’ve sobbed in a way that can only be described as child-like frustration or afraid of the dark or the whimper of an injured animal: the most primal of unexplained and spontaneous bursts of emotion. The mental, the physical. This trail is huge, and it has kicked my ass. Ultimatum weather! Within the rigor, the severity of it all, lives the resilient notion of satisfaction. Minus the adversity? Gratification lowered.

This will go down in history as the year I ate more processed food than ever. The dichotomy of nutrition on trail in relation to what is asked of physical form? Another hilarious concept! Ask body to ingest cold sugar in the form of packaged items: Moon Pies? Chewy bars? Pop tarts? Snickers? Then hike 25 miles please, thanks. If I had a diner plate breakfast (or even time for hot drink and oats again) perhaps (just maybe) my body would respond with a more energetic and less painful state of existing. Protein deficit. Boom! Aching for fresh foods after nearly half a year of backpack livin. Sure we have hot meals, at camp, at night. The truth is: my hunger is insatiable. Hot food is a fantasy to fill the void. Climbing 1600 feet on the likes of a Payday bar is just getting to me. The irony: time and weather restricting relaxation plus much needed meal breaks. Why? Cause there are miles to be conquered. Why? Because if I stop moving for more than five minutes, I shiver. Direct slivers of sunlight (few and far between) are the only appropriate break zones. Unlike desert life, where once we sought shade from a blazing ball of fire star, Washington brings the race for exposed patches of fading warmth. I shake a fist toward the skies! A global change in season takes calories from me. Calories, calories.

On the go, eat and walk to stay warm. Homeostasis proves an obstacle in conditions we call “freezing hot” or sometimes “burning cold.” The effort of hiking in layers and sweating but having cold hands and feet…the whole business of sweating uphill inside piles of clothes in rains but feeling cold. Hmm, coupled with constant hunger and cardio? Calorie shortage.

There are multitudes of unexpected minor details weaved into this experience: the constant hangnails; my palms turning to paw skin (trekking-pole-leather-callous-hands); the one evasive pebble under heel, toe, heel, toe; sensation of wet vegetation brushing legs; one water drip (scalp, neck, back). Thoughts I manifested before embarking on this journey did include knowledge of tough situations and general challenges; I now report the vagueness of such predetermined assumptions and am proud to say the details in experience on trail provide a layer of contentment. Strange how enriching the tiniest components of a journey add up to be.

Starfox and I are stopping the hike here in Skykomish this year. Mr. Green is carrying on with a group of our optimistic trail buddies. My goal would be repeat all of Washington in one go…next round. Different timing. This weather system surprised a lot of people, and will remain a specific 2013 characteristic. This is nothing like my imagined conclusion; the grace is learning to accept said circumstances. I’ve fought hard for these miles. I don’t have the gear to battle the temperatures or snow, or funding to proceed. We’ve gotten reports, we’ve seen hikers venture out and return: 2-3 feet of snow, knee high post-holing and one mile per hour.

This trip will always remain a precious catalyst into adventure dirt-bagging. The junction, the path to the trailhead of where I am due next. Serendipity summer of magic from perfect strangers. Opportunity knocks and we cross paths with a gathering of people just like us: all those changed lives–for something so specific. All sorts…walking the migration corridor.

Oh, another thing: the best tasting unfiltered spring water I’ve ever consumed.

Some of the beauty through our limited Washington experience …

Hiking through Mt. Adams wilderness:






Blessed by amazing weather on the days we went into Goat Rocks Wilderness, check it out:





One of my most scenic and glorious trail days: Goat Rocks, the trail across the spine of the dinosaur, the knife’s edge (!!!)







In a glorious finale, we have gotten to see stacks of friends we’ve missed for hundreds (maybe a thousand) miles. Last week we skipped days and miles ahead to the dorm house at The Dinsmore’s trail-angel haven, waiting out the storm and reunion-hugging hiker trash. Bunk beds, movies, music, music, music, a wood stove. Plenty of rain pelting the roof. Peter Pan, Hoop Dreams and DishCloth rolled up for a hello hug, as did Focus and Dance Party. Most friends in limbo, choices to be made. Two nights ago, we were invited up the road to Crossover’s family cabin. Here, with Mr.Green, Tapper, Birdhaus, Sunshine, Sierra Bum, Apache, Shady Acres, Jit and Crossover, Srarfox and I have enjoyed quality times. There are hot drinks and pillows. A fireplace and books, card games and Canadian whiskey. A sanctuary ground to survey the scene, make decisions and ponder.

The plan is make an exit from this complete thru-hike attempt.

The plan is not to make too many plans.

Traversing new places is the future.

Days Gone By

Out of Shelter Cove we hiked to an on-trail ski shelter to stay the night. A cool place! Solar lights plus a table and chairs.

After dinner, Mr. Green set up his hammock (hooks on beams) and the rest of us cozied for a slumber party style loft sleep (with a ladder). Morning time struck and I packed again for a long hiking day. Forest trails weaved along padded with pine needles, a gentle grade. Cold dew settled upon vegetation; skinny rays of sunlight sliced the tree canopy. Walking, then break, walking, then break. As trail days go: this is the normal. Lately, with bigger miles, I have felt the need to stop every hour or ninety minutes. I attempt to control the length of resting times, yet it can (if Mr. G and Starfox and I break together) turn to a 40 minute affair. Several of these a day= night hiking, a costly notion I hope to avoid. Dawn till dusk is my current preference: daylight. Evening falls quickly, a change from desert’s lasting twilight and exposed moonlit ridges. There was a time when I loved night hiking. There was.

Our bodies are eating muscle from “non-needed” areas and regenerating it to legs. Mostly, we all exist on sugar. Ups and downs. Food fantasy has gone from decadent descriptions of fried/ sweet cravings to the simple desire for steamed vegetables and a piece of grilled chicken. Please! I have had enough cheeseburgers, the fries, the pizza, the ice-cream, the beer, the pancakes. Actually, I have had enough trail mix, enough cereal bars, enough top ramen. I wonder what it is like to prepare a meal in a kitchen with fresh food. Like a feral cat in a domestic zone? Not sure.

The goal following Shelter Cove resupply stop was Sisters, Oregon. Walking to Sisters, the terrain combined volcanic rock and shady pines. Scenery offered pleasing views:

Oregon fungi:

Second night out on the path to Sisters, we did 28.5 miles and slept lakeside. Mr. Green, Starfox, and I arrived shortly after dark. Peter Pan and Hoop Dreams were set up. Chore time: make bed, make food, tend to feet.
Since Crater Lake I had been nursing my first ever blood blister (medallion sized & located on taut skin beneath the inside ankle bone on my left foot). I have a graphic photo to forever remember this gore, but I’ll spare you. Ok, so by this point, things had gotten better, I only had to check dressings and healing progress. At Shelter Cove I drained, cleaned and covered the wound, tenderly adjusting my gait to ease acute flesh pain. The source of revived blisters began in Ashland when I switched to a hiking shoe after hundreds and hundreds of miles in trail-runners. Tis alright, though. I loved the runners (Brooks Cascadia) and now I am adjusting to a pair of Merrills to take me to Canada over wet rocks, rubble, and possible snow. My feet are brutally enduring hiking demands, erupting in a variety of unpleasant sensations. Chronic pain management. The toes and pads of my left and right foot are of a numbness akin to being repeatedly struck with a mallet. Despite this specific discomfort, blister healing takes place at a slow rate. Full recovery is not near, but I’ve found tricks to supplement the remaining miles (coating feet in Vaseline daily, packing toes with lambs wool).

Lakeside mornings in central Oregon are chilly. I awoke reluctantly at 5:47am to a cell phone alarm and left camp piled in pajama layers. I hiked solo, Pan and Hoop passed me in morning time. We talked briefly about trying for a 30 miler. When sun warmed the landscape, I changed to my hiking clothes then went another 2miles. By 11:30 I had done 10. At the base of a climb I ingested caffeine, sugar and ibuprofen. Ok girl, another 20 to go. Eight hours of walking, get psyched. I still had not seen Starfox or Mr. Green for the day, when I did it was half past seven pm. I was ready to stop. Not a 30 miler today, guys. More like a 25. We found a campsite 15 miles from highway 242 near Sisters. As we had dinner, fog rolled into camp in low waves. We stayed warm through the damp night and I awoke for an early start. All morning, I hiked through clouds. Views and terrain blended into a spectacular setting. Mysterious weather! Mars-like rock!



The guys caught me at mid day, we walked then took a break per usual. Through the duration of snacking, a rumbling ominous threat called from dark skies. Stacks of grey clouds layered above as we made a move for the road. 4 miles from highway and the storm burst: first, an isolated hail shower, then a pure down pour. An unabridged full length raging rain show pissed upon us. Pack covers, rainproofs, and we hurried. Exposed trail bits were torrential soaking conditions across wet rocks. Forest sections offered no shelter as the power of rainfall blasted between branches and treetops. The trail became a creek (with rapids). Standing water grew to the size of small lakes – secret puddles! (Surface level pine needles giving the illusion of solid ground). Haha! Funny! That’s not trail, it’s water! Charge on through, strobe lightening, cracking thunder. Boom! Right above. Finally the highway, and I find Starfox waiting. Mr. Green had caught a lift already, but as soon as I turned up we found a ride. Two photographers crammed us plus our muddy shoes and packs into a VW Golf, blasting the heater 15 miles to Sisters. A town day!
Sisters, Oregon.
I purchased hot chocolate at a gas station immediately in an attempt to salvage my core temperature. It was a whirlwind slamming chore day in Sisters. We stayed over night and bought groceries to mail ahead to Washington. We met a trail angel named Blanche who gave us warm chocolate chip cookies and a ride to the post office. She then insisted we call her to take us to laundromat after the PO. So nice and helpful! While at the PO, many other residents offered us rides or asked questions about the trail. After laundry, as Starfox and I were scheming to eat a meal and get back to the woods we strolled toward Main Street. A truck pulled up with an old dog in the passenger seat (Australian Blue Heeler/ my favorite) and a guy with a cowboy hat at the wheel. “You guys need a ride?” He called out. We said we were headed to the Mexican grill for an hour or so. “We will see what happens,” he said as he drove away. We ate dinner. Just as we were paying the bill, said guy-in-a-cowboy-hat (introduced himself as TW) approached our table. It had been one hour. “You guys needed a ride to the trail, right?” he said. Turns out, we did. Magic at the dins table!
It was dark, and chilly. Starfox and I slept at the trailhead off Highway 20 (next to a suspiciously full parking lot). I awoke to headlights and car noise at 3:30am. Then distant gunshots at 5:40am. Rounds and rounds. It was a late 10am and when we finally emerged from tent, my first morning scene was a camo-clad orange-hat hunter wearing a dead doe like a back pack. On the other side of the tent (behind me, minutes later) two teens and dads used the trail as a chute for dragging a buck they’d claimed.
We met alot of hunters that day. And a few dead deer.
Opening day for rifle and archery as it happens. We hiked with our brightest clothes tied to the top of our packs. Then we on-trail neroed, setting up camp after five miles. Mr. Green caught up. Then some more trail pals were vortexed into hours and hours of breaks: Birdhaus, Tapper and Sunshine. It was a glorious Saturday afternoon of not hiking, but just being on trail with trail peoples.
The following morning we were back on a mission to get to Timberline Lodge. It was another later start (worth the hot oatmeal and coffee) as we headed toward Three Finger Jack.
Place looks good:

Between Sisters and Timberline, the trail was gentle and beautiful. Some climbing, some rocks. Plenty of hiker trash around our group! Last weeks’ storm stacked up pals and we camped with other PCTers every night. Lakes lakes lakes! We hiked by Mt. Jefferson and into Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Admittedly, I continued to endure near excruciating foot pain. Tapper gave me some insoles when we camped at Warm Springs River. Around the fire we chatted and played memory games. Lots of people together that night!
The next day, foot pain remained noticeable but lessened thanks to the additional foot cushion. I left camp at seven am as most everyone else continued to sleep. Except Whitney Shoeston, who had hiked out at 6:30am. Trail grade was so easy! By the time I arrived at Timothy Lake, it was break time…maybe 14 miles from camp. Hoop and Pan were ahead, the rest of the crew behind. As I sat, taking more ibuprofen, friends 30-Pack and Outburst rocked up.
30-Pack has a broken foot, but manages to keep on walking! He said: my foot is killing me today. I said: yeah, mine hurt, but they aren’t broken I don’t think. He said: I’m getting out at Little Crater Lake and taking a ride to Timberline. I said: hmmm, really. He said: you should come too. I said: I’ll think about it for the next mile.

By the exit for Little Crater Lake I decided to go with 30-Pack. I gave Outburst a note for Starfox and Green, then she hiked on.
30 and I checked out Little Crater Lake:

We found a ride in the day picnic area from two older people with a huge pickup truck and trailer. The woman seemed delighted to offer a lift as she bustled to the kitchenette in said trailer to grab snacks and cold cokes. Magic magic magic. Best line from a hitch: “now why did you children decide to do this?” We regaled the couple with trail stories and shockers.
Arriving at Timberline, 30 and I walked into the historic hotel, surrounded immediately by patrons snapping photos, firing questions and referencing the best seller WILD. It was the most display of public attention I have received. We poised for small talk then told people we were brother and sister then settled onto comfy furniture with drinks. As it got dark, we walked behind the lodge (crisp air, clear skies, wind) to a gravely slope/flattish spot to sleep for the night. Our peoples due for morning arrival: brunch at the Timberline breakfast buffet, so goodnight wind, goodnight mountain. Night, moon.

Mr. Green and Starfox arrived at 8am and we damaged the fanciest breakfast buffet ever. Putting “the hurt” on some Denver frittata as Green says. Fresh fruit, pastries, protein, waffles, coffee. White cloth napkins! A fine dining room stankified by hiker trash. Whitney Shoeston joined and later Tapper, Sunshine, Birdhaus and Outburst ate then mingled about. We opened resupply packages dug through the hiker box and reminisced about breakfast.
Mr. Green had a bottle of white wine from trail magic at Highway 26, so Starfox and me and him went to the trail head behind the lodge, taking a wine break after .5mi.


We slept at the Sandy River crossing, a rushing, loud cloudy waterway. Whitney Shoeston camped with us, plus Papa Bear and his son Chris set up nearby. Morning brought little relief to the volume of such a loud river, yet I avoided the ford. With much concentration, I kept socks dry by way of a slender slippery log bridge via upstream. Much concentration.
Courage, okay?!

Not long after I took a pleasant loop trail detour called Ramona Falls

Shortly after, the guys caught up to me and the three of us shimmied across a double log bridge, then climbed for hours.
We camped at Indian Springs. Hot cocoa!? Yes!
In the morning we took the alternate route: Portland’s popular Eagle Creek Trail. Hey Tunnel Falls! Hey my day-hiking home turf!
Such a satisfying 15 miles.
Cascade Locks, Oregon
The Washington border.
We made it.
Everyone is getting tired. IS tired. Now.
Near exhaustion levels.
Daydreaming of beds.
Talking about / feeling like: invalids.

And now I’m in a wool sweater, leaves have fluttered, the breeze has shifted.
I’m drinking tea again.

Hello Washington, I’m talking myself into hiking until we reach Canada.

Late Checkout

Okay. Where were we?
Ah yes, Nor Cal and into Oregon.

The Castle Crags Wilderness after stopping in Dunsmuir for resupply…finally something different to view! After an overgrown section of woodsy humidity, the path from Dunsmuir to Etna offered change. We passed majestic rocky outcrops through Castle Crags. We admired the Trinity Divide, laying out miles through Trinity Alps Wilderness. The steep stairs, constant up and down hiking effort of the Russian Wilderness made the rocky ledges five star difficulty. Mysterious smokey air lingered in the hills two days before the highway to Etna. A non threat, only a chapter of fire reminder: the colors at sunset, the smell. I consider those three consecutive wilderness areas a pivot point in the ache of Nor Cal. Have we turned an inspirational corner? Some creative thoughts again? It can be so difficult to harbor creative energy in the face of expending all resources toward hiking survival. We worked some hard miles to earn pretty sights.
Big mile days are of no discussion, they are an obligation. The weeks hiking out of California taught me the concept of time, miles, speed, breaks and the relating equations. Big mile days require enduring relentless discomfort/ pain in several areas of the body whilst at the discretion of self-imposed discipline. As time careens forward I’ve had no choice but to craft ambition and strength when most times I wish to lay down. For hours. Digging for aliveness, striving to keep above exhaustion is part of this experience. It takes finesse to create an achievable day when you want to (have to have to [get to Canada] have to) hike 25+ miles per day. And when it really hurts: remembering I chose this life. Prior to this thru-hike endeavor? Backpacking? Yes. Yes. Soaking in scenes of serene lakes, splendor in simple campsite life. Our current forceful exercise routine produces limited loitering in countless settings. Finding peace and beauty is not hard. Trail is both those things, abundantly and stunningly so; with a thru-hike mentality it is the time component posing restriction. Oh oh oh okay. Remember the stillness among chaos.

Etna resupply stop revealed a cute strip of tiny town. With a smokey haze set among the surrounding hills, dreamlike surreal ambiance layered our zero day. Starfox and I took bikes from the hiker hostel to the local micro brewery where foods and dranks and friends were our reward. Mr. Green, Peter Pan, Hoop Dreams, and Dishcloth plus us made for a nice Etna summer night.
Thrifty opportunity shop kept us entertained:

I had not been on a bike since Yosemite Valley. Love bike cruising on summer eves, morns, and even mid days. All in all, Etna treated our crew to the likes of rest, excellent pie/ diner digs and hiker hostel antics (per usual: pack explosion and joke factory).

We hiked out on a Friday night and stayed as a group near a fresh spring. Supper by headlamp, then cozy sleeping bag life. Pack up in the morning to move belongings again in a Northern segment (seems comical, the persistent nomadic nature of it all). Trail moved quick as we built stacks of miles Saturday (astounding Marble Mountains) and into Sunday, finally descending to a road walk into Seiad Valley. Hot hot hot hot.
The best cache of the trail was right before this road walk:
Cold drinks (pops) nestled in ice; Black Butte Porter; PBR; Fresh pineapple spears; a platter of cheese cakes. UuuuummmmmMMM. Ok. Shout out to trail angel Aloha for leaving such treasure! But really, I hate finding such garbage. Freezing fresh pineapple? Ug. To make that day even more unlucky: along the unbearable road walk, I was offered a ride in the bed of a pickup (favorite) with other hiker trash (Happy Feet and Sheepdog) already enjoying the shortcut. Well, hell. Yes yes! Get me to the Seiad Valley store. Just ahead of me, we picked up Mr. G and Starfox. Truck full of PCTers and packs. Hotness. Valley hotness, weather heat hot hot and boss thru-hikers getting out of a vehicle. Seiad Valley is a stop with a teensy store, cafe and RV park where we all climbed out of said truck. Peter Pan was there, she had a road walk turned hitch also. Hoop and Dish were still a walkin.’
We all camped at the RV park where we showered and sat in lawn chairs. The following morning: a day I’d been waiting for. The famous Seiad Valley Pancake Challenge. Dishcloth said he was going to attempt such a feat. It’s just a captivating train wreck to see that amount of food. Hiker hunger, I don’t know if you can deal.
5 one pound cakes. Two hours to eat and it’s free:



Challenge was unsuccessful for both hikers who embarked.
WhitneyShoeston ate a cake and a half and had the rest wrapped and packed out. Pancake pillow.

Dishcloth ate one plus part of two.

As a team of six we left Seiad Valley at seven pm. Evening hiking the healthiest option considering high temps for the scalding afternoon sizzled in triple digits. We climbed 4500 feet in 8 miles. On the way we pitched camp in a warm breezy saddle overlooking the valley. Last night in California. Last one.

The following day, a Tuesday, I hit my mileage record at 32 miles to reach the Oregon border. A hike that took me from 7am to 10:30pm. It was not a walk where I felt wind in my sails. Twas no stroll in the park, yet…success! We were all at the border together. The team took a few minutes to soak in the glory. Then we slept, less than a mile from the crossing; first night in Oregon. An absolute feat.
I felt I had robot legs.
Peg legs.
Numb toes.
Delusional collapse at midnight after consuming a rough estimate of nowhere near enough calories.
No time for rest or repair in the morning, we’ve got miles (26) to get into Ashland.
Mr.G and Starfox and I spent a sluggish morning struggling to gain ground. Example: hike one mile take half hour break. Tiredness ain’t no stranger, but oy, we had it real strong that day after the 32miler. With Hoop, Dish, and Pan ahead we decided to call the day done 6 miles outside Callahan’s Lodge near Ashland.
Morning time brought rain and T storm style aspects: lightening, thunder loudness. Energy of the skies quickened my pace.
Within hours the three of us hit a breakfast table at the lodge. Hiker special: ten bucks three eggs three bacon all you can eat pancakes. Pancake bonanza week.
Hella coffee, sugars, creamers.
We caught a shuttle into Ashland, Oregon’s most southern ish big ish town. My friend and trail angel Carly took in Starfox and I to her Ashland home: where she lives with Arlo, Alexis, dog Willow and kitty cat Smee. Household of helpful good vibes! Carly helped us so much in resupply efforts for the state. We collected foods, mailed drops ahead and enjoyed the company of friends amongst our usual chore duties. Ashland was a whirlwind on warp speed, but Carly and crew enhanced our town stop astronomically.
PRT stayed down the road at the Flagship Inn, but we ended up on the trail together the same evening.
Carly, Alexis and pup Willow walked with us half a mile on trail where we picnicked and lounged. There, Pan and Mr. G caught us and we parted ways from our Ashland friends. The four of us PCTers hiked another five miles, Hoop and Dish caught us later, just as it grew dark. We camped on a dusty dirt road, big dark clouds rumbled over as morning brought rain. A cool breeze and overcast skies, what a morning. The stormy atmosphere added change; drifting clouds made magical hillside moments. Brief foggy patches, but scattered showers and lightening stayed active all day.
It was a damp night.
A glorious morning: cold, wet (wringing socks) and sunny. It was tough to leave camp, a late departure.
Over the next few days (on the route to Crater Lake) I realized the importance of getting out to hike at a decent morning hour. I consecutively arrived at evening camp: first, past nine pm; then an eleven pm night. The night hiking exhausted me (slower, scary, dim head lamp) in new ways. Disheartening it is to try and meet basic needs like eating and sleeping when time management is so restrictive. The day following my late night arrival we were all due to get to Crater Lake. I set out by 8:30am, realizing early on it would be an epic long day. By 8:30 pm (break times were out of control, couldn’t help but slowpoke) as it got dark I sat for a break and put on more layers. Randomly my phone had a moment of service and T-Rex texted me from her stop at Shelter Cove, miles ahead. We then had a brief chat where she explained how to get into the Mazama Village (store/ campground) at the lake (where PRT and Starfox waited). The clarification from T-Rex was a real moral boost, as I continued my night time trek. Getting to the village at 12:50 was truely my record. Beyond delirium, I surveyed the dark campground in search of pals. I walked throughout the paved loops, only distracted by the bathroom lights. At half past one am, I decided to nestle my sleeping bag in small patch of trees. At first light I succumbed to a panic wake up, realizing what I considered a secluded sleeping spot was a smidgen of roadside brush. Raindrops began to fall, forcing me to pack up and resume looking for my team. After wandering back to the general store, I saw a paper note posted on the message board. “CHIK CHAK we are at B14.” Hooray! Something I missed in the dark, but now a clue. And surely I had wandered past them in the night. Reunited with the group.
After such a night I promised myself early mornings from here on out. Achieving this tactic proved not too hard, the leg from Crater to Shelter Cove (Odell Lake resupply stop) went smoothly. The first morning from Crater I left at 6:40am and hit 17 miles by 1pm, in camp by 6:40pm. Yes please. I can cook dins and tend to my feet and rest!
As dark and cold loom closer, early morning getaways are my only option.

We have a little over 700 miles to finish this thing.
September has arrived.

Oregon shots: Crater Lake! Oregon, my home state and yet my first glimpse of the national park. Still, calm, majestic. Soul striking.







Bonus Oregon pics:









Burney to the Oregon Border

Chapter 1

Turns out, leaving Burney, California became increasingly difficult. Starfox and I had concrete hiking plans, only to be delayed by a team of hikers called the PRT. PRT (Pacific Rest Trail) is a crew of fellow PCT pals we’ve befriended. Manchurian was hiking with these guys for many miles, as we leapfrogged along side. He is now a few days north, ahead of the group hiking with our long lost WolfPack. So, we have Mr. Green, Hoop Dreams, Dish Cloth and Peter Pan. The four of them enticed us that Saturday in Burney. Surprise, we’re in town at the same time! Come to our hotel for a beer and shower and wifi, then go back to the trail…they said. Ok, what’s a few more hours rest with friends? Somehow, under the spell of Northern California, beneath a power struggle against relaxation we entered an unstoppable vortex. We lingered in Burney with the PRT, movies and foods and beds. When we finally decided to hike out, Starfox and I got to trail before the others. We knew they would catch up, planning to meet at the Burney Falls State Park (only 7 miles). What really occurred was Starfox and I walking one mile to Wildbird Cache. Amazing trail magic plus recliner chairs, cooler of water, soda and tea. We stopped for a 3 hour break after one mile, feet up, and shared a cream soda. In that time, the PRT caught up and we’ve been rolling together with them ever since. The six of us, a newly formed team headed toward the state park.
Burney Falls is a special one being that the head waters begin under the surface of rocks: going from a pool to raging falls in about half a mile:

State Park camping offered a general store with ice cream and beer. More lounging after a seven mile evening hike.
The next morning: Hiking out of Burney Falls State Park, this sign:


Chapter 2
The Northern California spell is one of mystery. Trail life has become everyday version of routine activity. The initial adrenaline charged will to walk and walk and walk, is dwindling. There is talk about how many miles a day we HAVE to accomplish and: is Canada going to close before we get there? Are the north cascades treacherous? Will they be snowy? Trail is overwhelmingly dependent on time. It has become clear every minute counts: when you travel 15 hours between camp.

Chapter 3

The following are things from the past two weeks:

– Leaving Burney Falls we hiked up a hot hill. Posted on trail was a small sign reading: “Rattlesnake up ahead!” I spent the next hour seeing and hearing snakes at every corner. What even!?Like a fixture in a haunted house. Caution.

-The trail to Castella was hot and dusty. The finest of fine silty powder path. It is an explosion of dirt legs, dirt sunglasses, dirt between teeth. Foot dirt. Out of control.
Taking my shoes off:

Some dirty socks:

Feet. They feel better with wraps some days:

Tis quite the process to undo and do shoes.

-Gnats in this area are extra close to my face. They occupy my field of vision and sometimes land on the rim of my lower eyelid, or become trapped in eyelashes. Gnats traveling in a group surrounding me really aides in the dirtbag appeal. I breathe them. They buzz.

– I’ve been stung 3 times (wrist, ribs, leg) in this section the journey: yellow jacket attacks.

Sometimes the trail looks like this:

Overgrown green tunnel, mmm cobweb strings across my upper lip. Cobweb arms and hands and face.
Other miles look like this:



Arriving in Castella meant a trip to the next town over: Dunsmuir. Hooray for relaxation, resupply and rest. Our group took advantage of the local brewery.

Hiking from here we entered Castle Crags Wilderness. One of astounding sights. Things shifting.


Trinity Alps Wilderness:



Smokey Russian Wilderness:


Oh, okay. Readers, there is so much more.
Everything will be recollected and recorded, from on into Oregon.
We all crossed the Oregon border at night on Tuesday after hiking 32 miles that day.
Getting ahead.

Bonus photo: Mr. Green and Starfox sittin’ on an Etna, California mornin’


To be continued…
Details of this hiking log will formulate in the next entry!
Readers, thank you for patience in this developing story. Often I am out of signal range and cannot adequately remain a faithful correspondent. I will continue describing the course of chronological events as soon as possible! Until next time, I promise to stay trail fresh.

Poetry Corner: Mary Oliver

Snow Geese by Mary Oliver

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.
One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was
a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun
so they were, in part at least, golden. I
held my breath
as we do
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us
as with a match,
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,
but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.
The geese
flew on,
I have never seen them again.
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won’t.
It doesn’t matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly

Many things float about the thought river when walking 14 hours a day. Memories, wonderings. I think about songs and words and people I know. For a long while one day I thought of my grandma’s garden. How the deer ate roses, how nice hydrangeas looked every year, watered in the evening: sprinkler mist.
In bright hot trail sun I spent time thinking of grandma’s gardening hat. A straw wide brim. Something so protective about it. I wonder of the hat’s whereabouts. It is just a memory now, but every time the sun strikes, I remember. Then I remember cold fruit, like cantaloupe. The sound of an oscillating fan. Clean sheets. Lime popsicles.

Just a sample of trekking mind moment.
Just a little brief.

Lazy Miles

A kind man gave Starfox and I a lift from Chester back to the trailhead. Relying on the kindness of strangers has proven a valuable asset along our journey.
It was a slow-moving, I-can’t-believe-we-are-hiking-tonight type of event. Both of us were nearly immobile from town gorging: including a final calorie load at Pine Shack Frosty for bacon cheeseburgers and boysenberry shakes. Oh, okay. That is that. Lucky for us: Mark the nice person stopped on his way home to shuttle us the few miles back to our trekking ground. Easy now. Loitering at trailhead magic (fruits and waters and cookies and soda), we prolonged our hike, sparing enough time for Manchurian to arrive. More procrastinating as we watched him eat a burger and guzzle a Mountain Dew. Within minutes, Kitten and Badseed showed up along with Turtle and Willow. Hikers talkin’ talk: doing what they do best when not hiking.
Manchurian, Starfox and I left in an attempt to capture fading daylight. We walked in a staggered trio for 2 miles or so. Then Starfox and I decided on music, listening to Father John Misty from the backpacking speaker. We found Manchurian at Stover Springs (3.3mi in), and the three of us walked another short bit, uphill, settling on a flat camping spot as twilight lingered. We ate some cookies and everyone went to sleep.
The procrastinating of thinking-about-maybe-starting-to-pack-up and hike has become increasingly difficult. Astronomically. More challenging than actually hiking is stopping and starting again. Starfox and I had the debilitating food/town coma (despite not taking a zero) plus general aches and pains. Just plain tiredness strikes with force. Halfway. Shouldn’t we feel conditioned and well trained? Professional hikers?Slumber is a spell. It is no longer a matter of adrenaline: the beginning of the trip fueled such a wonder at progressive tense. Yes, this is still actually happening. In progress. These days in Northern Cali have proven a new kind of hardship: mental. Body wants to sleep, mind struggles with pushing body into action. It is a matter of taking action. I want this. Yes. Sure. I also want a bed and movies.
It was an ordeal to attempt waking up that morning. Snooze button. Snooze. Two hours. Hear Manchurian pack up and leave camp about 7:30am with the words, “see you later” and “don’t die.”

Hiking with a backpack: a sweaty, hot and dusty affair, like any other day, yet coupled with an overwhelming lazy days mode. Starfox and I were both dragging. Many a break for me. The beauty managed to puncture through seemingly tough times. Lassen! Majestic Lassen! Towering over volcano lands, sprinkled with a few streaks of white snow. Crisp. We entered the National Park section of Lassen, catching primo views and even a side trip to check out Terminal Geyser. A steaming hot burst of spectacle. First I’ve ever seen. CooooooL.
We did 14.5 miles to reach a place called Drakesbad Guest Ranch in the middle of Warner Valley. The ranch is a vacation destination for summering family types who wish to take day walks, stay in cabins and ride horses and play ping-pong. There is a lodge and a full service fancy style food kitchen. PCTers are welcome but regulated: packs and hikers can hang by the picnic table. Off the deck. We were there not quite an hour when Badseed and Beev rocked up and convinced us to hang around. Badseed said Solstice and Lady Ex were not far behind. Okay okay, not too hard to convince us. They arrived with another hiker: Naturally Caffeinated. Golden Boy was a bit behind. Everyone seemed to be in complaining mode about tired times. We ate out of our packs and hiked another half mile. Starfox and I camped, so did Badseed and Beev, but the others climbed out of the valley. Sometimes hikers walk to a post office deadline, and those guys had to make it to Old Station PO the next day (a 24 mile stretch from Drakesbad).
This is Boiling Springs Lake: smells like sulphur.
The next day Starfox and I were determined to reach Old Station (deli plus market) so we cruised. Old Station is right before Hat Creek Rim: a dry place, capable of forcing responsible hikers to carry five liters. Yet even with the looming heavy pack, yesterday’s struggle seemed worlds away, and we genuinely felt a renewed sense of gladness on trail.
Trotting on boardwalks:
Pretty deer just don’t care:

Burned zone:

Hey ! Distant Lassen!

These trees are the color of my dog back home: hey girl!

We walked a long day, venturing through burn area and fallen trees. A break for lunch. I listened to piles of music on excellent headphones. On this day we received a note from Solstice to meet her and crew at the Subway Cave (just past Old Station) for a family style pudding dessert night. Hooray! A note!

We did get to the cave that evening. There was butterscotch pudding with M&MS plus Reese’s cups mixed in. Lots of hiker trash! A batch of us camped at the day-use area at Subway Cave. Subway Cave is a dark cold cave, an area attraction. Boo! Burr! Yikes! This is also the last place to gather water before the 30 mile dry stretch across the magnificent and notorious Hat Creek Rim. We heard rumor of a possible water cache, but we must not count on anything. Just in case.
Starfox and I decided to do a night hike to beat the heat with a drinking-less-water strategy. We lounged until afternoon (all other PCTers had made a break for it at 5am). Suddenly Badseed appeared, and decided to hike the first three miles with us. We all hydrated and set out at nearly 5pm. Starfox and I continued until 11, catching our last peek at Lassen and first of Shasta in the midst. Sunset glow with a distant Mt. Shasta? Okay. I ate oatmeal to celebrate. We napped from 11pm to 3:30 am, and continued walking walking walking. Rocks and dust! Moon very small, stars incredible, but land as dark as night. Yet, no falls for me! Just kicking the lumpy lava ground. Sunrise proved glorious. Hot pink clouds!
30,000 years ago hot lava flowed through a creek bed and left behind sharp rocks and caves and tunnels. Volcanic display! Hella volcano.
We did come to a cache! Water
Cache 22. A trail register and chairs! Nice time for a sit: 6:20 am. Onward. Bach on the speaker, breakfast an hour later. Spirits were high.
Finally we saw water again. The Crystal Springs Fish Hatchery. Shining in the distance. Yes! We got to the picnic area just after 1pm and took full advantage of tables and soft grass. Oh my lounging. Feet will stop being on fire now, thanks.
At dusk we finished the last 4.5 miles to highway 299, where we camped.
The morning put us on the highway, thumbs out. Get us to Burney, CA for laundry, resupply, and greasy spoon (hello!?). Gotta eat again and again. Sure do.
A self titled “old-timer” named Tim in a big pickup truck swooped us the 7 miles to Burney. Tim spent the duration of the drive discussing how cell phones were the downfall of family time. He left us on Main Street telling us “you made my day.” We thanked him profusely, then proceeded directly into the local diner: Blackberry Patch. We then hit an over eating threshold.
Food overload.
Sights and sounds.
Keeping it real on the trail.
We are becoming more and more hobo like every week.
Wolfpack: we gonna get you!
All you other hiker trash: we see you!



We have arrived past the mileage halfway point! Today marks day 100 for me. I can and must report this journey so far has held nothing short of challenges as well as unmatched stunning beauty. It is with mystery I regard the passing of time and distance; although this trip will always remain transformative and influential, as someone once put it “you won’t remember shit…but you’ll never forget it.” And as every step along rugged terrain threatens hardship, while beads of sweat streak dirty skin, it is all a wash when you aren’t actually hiking.

Between Tahoe and Lassen National Forest: the climb out of Sierra City curved through calm switchbacks to a rocky ridge line: snake watch! A lovely spring with cold water awaited consumption not far from the summit. We wandered through low vegetation (lots of mule ear!) plus pine trees and views of distant lakes. The trail crossed dusty roads and gravel car pullouts.
Starfox and I hiked as a pair, hours behind the rest of the Wolfpack. We got a love note from T-Rex and Rocky telling us their camp mileage, from the previous day. Starfox and I left Sierra City an episode later than those guys and Smiles and Slosh. We also received a note from Smiles the following day telling us to meet her and Slosh at the middle fork of the Feather River where they planned to “nero” (as in: hike a few miles and hang for the day). Notes are one of my favorite pieces of trail life! How satisfying and heartwarming to walk along with hours of ground-watching when suddenly posted under a rock is a fluttering piece of paper! We check out every one and when it is for us: well, oh my god. We sure do love it.
Alas, we just couldn’t catch our pals: physical limits times miles plus timing = just out of reach. We continued on in trail fashion, well aware the crew along our route would provide friends. Later we ran into Golden Boy, Lady Ex, and Solstice: fellow PCTers and camping buddies. We also cruised through the section leap-frogging with Kitten and Badseed. As the journey moves forward, we’ve found more and more opportunity to connect with other hikers; as the journey moves forward, we’ve known more and more people who have dropped off trail. It’s a bit of a crest fallen feeling to have friends quit. The remaining lot of us compare notes on so-so vibes floating among the comparatively sub-par scenery in a post-Sierra daze. The terrain offers long stretches through dry forest: a bit of a rock trough littered by tree debris. Volcanic formations are evident all around, even the trail rocks are sharper and click with a different tone.

Daily life propels us northward. Pondering the relentless rattling thoughts on repeat. Floating in pools of questions. The brain worms. Yes, there is conversation and music and audio, yet many hours of solo trekking allow space and time to stretch. The trail has even been described as “feeling lonely” these past two weeks.
Is it the attack of a solitary yellow jacket at lunch time? The consistent hangnails and grime packed cuticles? Dirtbagging around for months now. We are halfway to nowhere and everywhere.
Feather River:


Magically, my knee pain has subsided. I feel as though I’ve “walked it off” after 650 painful miles. With the constant physical reminder of hiking 20+ miles per day, my body is never short on aches and pains. Gracious anatomy! Carry on! I care! I do. Thank you liver. My latest surprise is the development of the largest blister yet (discovered merely hours after running my mouth about having zero blisters in a number of weeks).
Blister affection:


We made it to Beldon in the Feather River Canyon: population 14. Only a couple days past Sierra City and we were ready for cold drinks. We found Slosh and Smiles among other hiker trash in the only establishment in town. Shortly after a happy hour, a kind trail angel named Brenda Braaten picked a few of us up and we enjoyed a night at her home. It was a restful following day: we even found zen in the likes of coloring books and crayons. Who knew?
Sights before Beldon:




Back on trail: only a short jaunt to Chester. Packs are still heavy.
Lassen: (!!!)


Then we hit it! Memorable moment.
PCT Halfway monument!


Chester is a tiny town 7.5 miles from trail. And lovely to find: insane bliss to find: coolers of fruit, drinks, cookies. Ahh!
Getting to the Highway 36: Magic!


Resupply in Chester: what do we eat?

We reunited with the Wolfpack in Chester, and some of the usual suspects from the last week. PCTers all about: celebration for halfway!

Into town and out again.
Moving toward Oregon.
Here we go.

Respite: Highway 49

The Wolfpack left Tahoe in good spirits, landing back on Highway 50. We moseyed our way to Echo Lake, a boating lot with a general store. Enough time for drinks and ice cream? I think: yes. T-Rex snapped photos of a sunny crew: ice cream cones and beer cans.
The prior September, T-Rex, Rocky and I took a backpacking trip over 30 miles through the Desolation Wilderness on a south-bound trek ending at Echo Lake. Entering a familiar zone! Quite exciting!
We hiked six and a half miles to an exquisite campsite: Lake Aloha. Ah, such a delight to witness the beauty of lakeside camping. Stars just as glorious as last years’ spectacle. Water in pools, water in a wide expanse, islands of exposed granite: a few singular trees. Slabs and steps, a sandy path.
The following morning we climbed Dick’s Pass and dropped to Fontanilis Lake for a late lunch. Moving on from our break spot was a tough decision as many of the sights in Desolation Wilderness are of supreme beauty. By late afternoon, Starfox and I were hiking with the speaker, listening to RadioLab (prepared to trek another 3 miles) when we caught the Wolfpack at Richardson Lake. Such a pleasant discovery to have our friends setting up camp for the night.
Dr. Slosh spent his first hour at camp catching crawdads in the lake water. He prepared for a boil and within the next few hours proved successful in collecting food, adding his catches to a cheese and pasta combination. Lounging at camp seemed easy to do, we spent a long evening eating plus relaxing. I had an evening nap and when I awoke it was dawn. Smiles and Slosh were pushing toward an afternoon meet-up with a pal at a pub at Squaw Valley Ski Resort and High Camp. In getting on trail later (a quarter to nine) beers at 3:30 seemed unreachable. And…they were. Starfox and I hiked together throughout the day. There were massive areas of exposed volcanic trail: rock pieces clicking under every step. Many views of Lake Tahoe. We kept music as good company and had lunch on a shady trail-side bank amidst an uphill climb. Manchurian rocked up during our break and we visited in brief before he pushed on.
By late afternoon we hit our water destination: the outlet creek for Five Lakes. Right before this lovely rushing cold stream I slipped on a piece of bark and fell. Actually, I “ate shit.” Aw, hell. I’ve fallen countless times in the past three or four weeks. What’s another?What gives? My gait resulted in a more pronounced limp; knowing full well we had a 1500 foot climb to camp with the Wolfpack, (near Squaw Creek) I hobbled on. In addition to my graceful tumble, midway climb I was crippled by stomach cramps and spent a good twenty minutes laying on trail. Fetal position. Oh god. Must keep walking. Starfox was a champ to keep pace with me in my disheveled state. In the end, it balanced to a decent day when by camp I realized only the last three hours had proven horrific, plus the Wolfpack had a campfire crackling; sight of friends: suddenly satisfying. Recovered from late afternoon torture, I went to sleep excited for the following morning.
The sun hit camp before eight am, a baking powerful force. I had arrangements to hike 2.5 miles to Painted Rocks Trailhead where family friend John and his dog would be waiting. John, his wife Deb, his two yellow labs and his friend Dennis came up from Auburn, CA to enjoy a slice of PCT life. John planned to meet me at the junction with one pup (to hike the ten miles to HWY 40 @ Donner Pass) while Dennis, Deb and the older dog walked in for an out and back. All went according to plan (with the exception of providing proper photos [storage overload] to share the day). Seeing friends: dogs and people visiting the trail was a new kind of fun. I quickly was spoiled rotten when John took my pack and I slack-packed for the rest of the day. Good conversation and sights passed when before long we were at the highway. John and company drove the Wolfpack to Truckee and even gifted us lodging for the night. (!!!!!)
Yes, beds and showers. Thank you John! We ate at a brewery and even claimed a soak in the spa. Damn, it feels good to be a cowboy. A Wolfpack slumber party.
The morning found us relaxed. We left the lodge and wandered Truckee. What a town! We even caught a street fair: capitalizing on calories and people watching. By this time, the girls: Smiles, T-Rex and myself had made a decision. The day before, on the walk into Truckee, T-Rex rolled her ankle then took a fall. With her swollen joint and my trick knee we became hobbling twins. We decided to skip ahead to Sierra City for a lay over rest stop. Only 46 miles North, and Smiles took to our persuading, joining the mission. Starfox, Rocky and Dr. Slosh resumed trail miles while we quickly secured rides to Sierra City.
Upon arrival we found the Red Moose Inn, a place for hiker trash to assemble. Free camping, showers and water. Manchurian showed up within an hour of us being there. Mail was waiting for him. He ordered shoes in size thirteen:

Children’s purchase.

Mingling with hikers and care packages we indulged in sugar, card games and beer. Restful respite!
Sunset arrived, but with the news he has to leave trail for a while. We decorated him with good luck;

Saturday morning Wolfpack was reunited with Rocky and Starfox. Dr. Slosh had arrived the previous evening after hiking 40 miles. In one day. He was “in the groove.”
Sierra City holds a population of just over 200. A quaint gold rush vintage feel: general store, saloon, cafe. It has been a much needed stop complete with community PCT bonding. This stop has also held the best swimming of the summer: a Yuba river pool surrounded by rocks/ jumping zone. Plenty of cool dips to offset triple digit heat.
The climb out of here is eight miles and 3,000 vertical feet. Determination and grit will have to do. A siesta, cold hydration and the promise of a bright moon has us hiking out at sunset.

A small town rest goes a long way, maybe even to Canada.


Thus, there we have it. I have found more storage for photos. I have rested. And now I’m continuing this trek!

Until next time readers, stay trail fresh!

Into Desolation

South Lake Tahoe cabin times have included:
Cooking: using appliances
Games : Taboo!
Snacking: ice cream again and again
Movie: Skyfall
Bath: Epsom
Beers: many

Delicious trail food:

Cabin ambiance: Sound Clip: thank you Doris Troy:

Today we head into Desolation Wilderness! Echo Lake to Truckee. Lakes, path, granite…