Embracing the Path As It Is

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The path, as we know is ever changing. Trying to manipulate what is, only causes suffering. To go with the flow creates harmony within. As I wait for my brother to take me back to Santa Cruz, I contemplate these thoughts. We react to happenings along the path, but as we round a corner events occur that are beyond our control. So, in embracing the path, I realize that all parts need to be embraced, even those things I don’t understand. So many times in my life I have found myself asking why ? I have discovered , because it just is .
This past week I have hit the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. As I entered the Sierras my heart was full. The ever-changing landscapes, the strength of the mountains, the songs of the wind, and the immense peace within filled my heart with gratitude.
The reasons I chose to walk this trail became clearer. My relationship with the natural world became stronger.
The snow covered peaks brought a new dimension to the Sierras. It was magical. The sun glistening on the snow creating a path of diamonds. It was breathtaking.
We made a group decision to skip the climbing of Mt. Whitney as most of us had climbed it already this year.
At 4 am we awoke to make the trek towards Forrester Pass. We were trying to make the golden hour of 11:00 to be up and over the pass. The ascent was long, yet spectacular . Glancing ahead every few steps filled me with excitement. The power emanating from the mountain was intense. Even though I was with a group , it became a personal challenge with every step.
The trail, because of the new snow wasn’t as well established as it was when I hiked the JMT. WhyNot?! and I are the strongest hikers so we shared leading the group. We broke into two groups for awhile., Poco and WhyNot ?!, Spirit, Ghost and I.
The trail was steep. The rock loose. The snow glistening. My heart, pounding. The chute was quickly approaching. As Ghost rounded the bend and saw the snow covered section, she proclaimed,” I ‘m not doing that!” I gently responded, ” yes, you are..”
Little did we know that an even scarier section was approaching . A very rocky, slick section right before reaching the pass.Poles in one hand, gripping the rocky ledge with the other we pull ourselves up, and are at last standing on top of Forrester Pass, the highest pass on the PCT.
What goes up, must also go down. A very snowy descent was before us. I led the way down. The post holing was non- stop. It was my first experience with it. It became very difficult. I had to surrender to total loss of control.
Poco and I got off trail. I heard the call back. I assumed she was behind me. She wasn’t . I resumed my place with the group. Suddenly we heard the sickening sound of something falling down the mountain. It was Poco’ s pack. Panic arose within each of us . Where was Poco ?
She was alone . She felt abandoned. . She made her way down the mountain, off trail. It as dangerous. Frightened and feelings of abandonment led her back home to Napa. However, I just heard.. She is joining the group back in Mammoth. I am stoked for her!!
I began to feel a twinge in my back. It started about 6 days ago . I tried to ignore its persistance. The climbs didn’t bother me, however the descents , the slipping on icy snow, the boulder hopping and the post holing were seriously affecting my speed with which I proceeded down the trail. When I started this trail I was one of the lead walkers . I was so far behind that my team was having to take off their packs and wait for me.
With each step my sense of joy was replaced by pain, physical and mental. I was afraid as to what was happening.
Once we began the climb up Glenn Pass I knew I was in trouble. I was really slow. WhyNot?! did an amazing job at navigating. I became a follower. Wincing at every step, I climbed upward. Fear showed its disruptive head. I began to doubt my ability. With a very huge sigh of gratitude, I made it to the pass. Exhaustion, yet elation filled me.
As we dug the crampons out of our packs for the descent the sense of fear appeared yet again. It was steep and snow covered. My back really hurt. Each step so gingerly placed with the reality of post holing looming near. About 3/4 of the way down I post holed, up to my thigh. I couldn’t move . On my back, facing down the mountain, I was stuck . WhyNot?! Removed her pack, climbed back up to help me out. Her valuable words, ” don’t panic Grasshopper!”
We eventually made our way to the lovely Rae Lakes . I was consumed with exhaustion. So many sweet memories flooded my senses of last summer on the JMT and the storm , and my friend Tom.
I awoke the next morning with ice covering my bag. We planned to get as close to Pinchot Pass as we could for the next days ascent. I only made it to Woods Creek. I fell so far behind. Tears flooded the path. Every time a snow , water, or boulder crossing appeared I looked at it with dread, trying to figure out which foot to lead with, which would cause the least amount of pain.
Spirit, the kind sweet soul she is waited for me around every bend. She came bounding up the trail at one point, took my pack and wandered down a way .
The reality of my situation was settling in. I had to leave the trail. It wasn’t fair to my group . Walking alone, WhyNot?! Appeared , took my pack, said she and Spirit had been talking. I caught up at Woods Creek. They decided I had to hit SPOT. I couldn’t make it either way , forward or backward as the passes were basically an impossible situation for me at this point. There was another trail, but we knew nothing about it. I refused to hit SPOT. We sat quietly . Within the next hour our dilemma had been solved. . Some folks hiking south knew of the Paradise Valley Trail . They said it was all downhill, no worries, no snow, and no passes.
I walked 15 miles out the next morning. I walked alone as I insisted my friends carry on. A deer befriended me. It’s antlers were broken. Perhaps he knew I was broken also. He wandered the trail in front if me for about7 miles. Stopping, looking back and walking ahead. Meaning? He felt my pain somehow. It was a blessing.
My tears watered the earth below my feet. I hurt physically and mentally. I loved this trail. This experience of walking the PCT. Why ?
Once I let go of the why, I was better. I am home . I will see my doctor. I will decide if within this 3 week window I am strong enough to get back on the trail. If not, I will find another walk . I will carry less weight.
I will walk on
With love>

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Splendor of Sierra

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How I love the high mountains. Every time I venture in I am captivated. I am listening to my body in so many ways. I must. If I am to complete this walk, I must always be aware, always listen .
We have just completed a short but intense three day stretch . We are re-supplying in Independence. By car, only 14 minutes from our last re-supply. It was tough in many ways.
Davey McCoy, a really cool guy I met, the owner of the Lone Pine Hostel gave us a ride to the Horseshoe Meadow campground, which is the trailhead for the PCT. We awoke to the chilliest morning thus far. My hands would not do what they needed to do. The cold was biting and I couldn’t warm my hands. They hurt. I cried . I was afraid I couldn’t go on. I couldn’t pack my pack . My thinking mind had me finished. Of course I pulled through. But I learned what I needed to do throughout the rest of our walk. Amazing that I was going to let cold hands take be off the trail. I was afraid. Fear plays such a huge part in what goes on out here. Actually, in life. Fear governs many of us and prohibits us from so much. To look at fear, straight on, and say no! , not today.
We decided not to hike up Mt. Whitney . The majority of our group had already done it . Forrester Pass was looming in the distance . The snow pack was high. We all had a little fear around it. The uncertainty was big. I had pulled a muscle in my gluteus . Walking down hill caused much pain . I couldn’t possibly do both Whitney and Forrester.
We camped in the shadow of Whitney and had a very early start towards Forrester. The magical hour, the hour to be off the snow was 11 am. We hadn’t even reached the base of the mountain by 11 am. We were determined.
The mountains are so beautiful blanketed in snow.
The low snow year changed. We had a lot of snow. Trails were not visible. Post-holing was common. It was crucial to hit the passes at the right time. The mountains were alive. They were calling.
Climbing up Forrester was a challenge in many ways. Similar to life . The unknown filled the air. The grandeur of this mountain filled me with a wanting. Like life, this mountain invited you, yet it begged you to be present , to experience it’s essence.
Climbing up, the air was thinner. The hours already on the trail beginning to have its affect on our endurance. The desire to reach the pass safely, overwhelming. Every step important . My time earlier this year in South America taught me about respect versus fear for the mountain .
Upon reaching the pass, I sat. I gazed and inwardly expressed my gratitude. My gratitude for my life . My gratitude for the ability to climb this spectacular pass.
The walk down was difficult. The snow was soft . I post- holed so many times. Each time I had to pull my leg out, my gluteus muscle screamed. It took us hours to go a couple of miles. The trail was non- existent . The sun was beginning to go down . We were cold. We had to get out of the snow , to find a campsite for the night.
We were exhausted. I wasn’t even hungry. I wanted to get into my bag, and sleep. But sleep, didn’t come .
The mountains reside within. My thoughts of the day pulsates through my being. My heart beats fast. I dream. I hope. I pray.
I walk on
With love

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It’s time to go!!!!

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“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail .” Emerson
We resume our adventure today.
After four long days in the sleepy little town of Lone Pine, which lies at the base of the eastern side of the Sierra, we will camp tonight at the trailhead , and begin the journey into the mountains. The storm has subsided.
We are ready, both physically and mentally to wander into the snow covered mountains where trails have been covered by snow . We will likely follow the footsteps of those who went out yesterday.
Last summer I followed the JMT through these same mountains. Of course it will be quite different this time. It will be cold. The trail may be non – existent , the passes may be slippery and wet. We will likely post- hole. It will be exhilarating , and I am ready.These mountains fill me with life. They fill me with hope and joy and peace. As my dear friend Tom said to me, “It’s like coming home .”
I think the quote by Emerson applies to my life. I am not following a trail that has been set forth by another . My life , especially these past ten years has been about making my own way. Finding my way through the maze that is life. I am learning as I go. I am beginning to see what it is I am striving for on many different levels. Going into these mountains propel me along this path, I am creating. The lessons I am learning are helping me define what I want my life to be.
Gazing up at the mountain range while sitting on this couch, in this hotel lobby that reeks of various smells I can’t define, I long to breathe in the fresh air the mountains exude. Although I am grateful for the time we spent here. It was necessary. It wasn’t safe, to walk into the heart of the storm.
A few clouds linger over the mountains today. A light breeze flows down Main Street . The sun shines brightly. It’s time.
“The mountains are calling, I heed their call….”
I walk on
With love
.

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awaiting the call of the mountains

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A storm of significant energy has descended upon the southern sierras.
Earlier this year as I was preparing for my walk from Canada to Mexico I didn’t too seriously consider the possibility of a snowy trek through the sierras. It seems as though nature, as is her nature decided to add a little excitement to our journey.
We are kicking back in Lone Pine awaiting the call back up the mountain . For now, we must wait.
It is hard to sit, and wait. It is hard to contemplate and discuss our options. It seems to build the fear factor. But perhaps it isn’t fear, but respect. Respect for the reality of this situation . It can be dangerous up there if we venture out to early. It is so important to practice patience. We have been listening to stories of friends who did go forward and attempt Mt. Whitney and Forrester. It wasn’t easy. It was cold . Ed snuggled at night with whomever he could as he couldn’t get warm. Milestone and Charlie Dayhiker post holed for hours. They said , ” don’t do what we did . ”
Chinese Rock, Barrel and Mellow haven’t been heard from. Beowulf said the visibility at times was minimal. Nature is asking us to wait. We are listening. We are not in a hurry . It is the price we pay for getting an early start. Our team is flexible, this is one of our greatest assets.
Kicking back in the lobby of the Dow Villa listening to the younger hikers planning their exit out of town, worrying they may be too anxious to get out there.
Deep sigh escapes. Such is life. If we push to hard, if we go against the flow, if we try to make it happen, whatever it is, before it is supposed to happen, it may be detrimental. Patience has always been a trait I struggle with. I don’t think I am selfish. I don’t think it’s all about me. I think it goes back to a time in my life when I felt I wasn’t heard. As a result , sometimes I speak too loud, sometimes I want it to go my way. I am trying to let go of that.
We have been in town now for 2 nights. We will most likely be here for 2 more. I am re-energizing. I am gaining confidence. I am fueling my body. I am practicing patience.
We await, the call of the mountain..
Only then, will I walk on…

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Two Crows, A White Butterfly and the Sierras

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We left Lake Isabella hoping to arrive at the trailhead before ten A.M. However, we had to re-supply at Von’s and eat breakfast at Velda’s Diner first. We had pre- arranged a ride the day before with the waitress Suzanne. Walker Pass was 35 miles , much too
long a road walk! After a breakfast if eggs and waffles we called Suzanne. She was sorry. Her husband needed the jeep. Long story short, 2 hours later we were finally back on the trail.
It was a hot, yet lovely walk up. A slight breeze made what could have been a sweat invoked walk quite pleasant!
The trail wound it’s way over and around providing spectacular views , skies varying shades of blues and purples. The beginnings of the Sierras arising in the distance. Expansive views in all directions.
Towards the end of the day it was necessary to find water. The only source available was a spring in which it was deemed unsafe for human consumption due to high levels of uranium. We were told however one liter or two wouldn’t hurt us, and we were completely out of water.
The water situation has really opened my eyes to the water shortage in other parts of the world. I have always taken weather for granted. But, the whole of the first part of this hike has been planned around water availability. I have been very thirsty. I believe I have been dehydrated. But as I was about to say, on numerous occasions ,” I am dying of thirst.” I had to stop . I was not dying of thirst , but others in the world are . It was an intense realization.
After a beautiful night under the stars we began early. Watching the sun rise and the mountains wake up is truly one if my greatest pleasures . The wide expanse of the mountains once again reminded me if the great potential we have in this life. We never need to feel stuck. The next bend in the trail will bring something new , something to make our lives worthwhile . The mountains and the oceans are great teachers of this lesson.
We met an older couple on the trail. Their trail names are Two Bad Dogs. They were from Colorado. They hiked last year but she was injured so they came back to finish their unfinished section. They were passionate about the trail . They were passionate about each other. They gave me hope.
I have shared with you in past posts about the black crow and how I feel they are significant somehow in my life. They have showed up daily . I especially love it when I hear them, usually two, sometimes one, I look into the sky and they grace the above with their beautiful glide and dance. Well lately , and daily a white butterfly has appeared . She circles me on the trail. I smile. She flutters away . Black crow, white butterfly , I ponder the meaning .
My body has prohibited me from a good night sleep, every night. Yet , each morning I arise, ready to walk again. I give thanks.
The short , yet significant walk into Kennedy Meadows, was momentous . It was the 700 mile mark, and, the entry into the Sierras.
We left the next morning as we heard a storm was brewing over Mt Whitney. We wanted to get into Lone Pine and wait it out.
The trail truly marked our entry into the Sierras. We followed the Kern River. As I walked , solo as usual my mind alternating between bring in the moment and listening to the teachings of the trail and applying them to my life.
Today walking through a burn area from 2008 a sadness fell over me. This forest ,unlike others that had burned, didn’t have much new growth.it was stifling hot. I saw death . I looked ahead and a bright blue sky beckoned me. I walked faster. The need to exit the clutches of this burn propelled me forward. It was devastating .
In my attempts at embracing the concept if impermeanance , I realize the real difficulty is the acceptance that some things simply do not return as they were. New things replace those that are gone, and that us beautiful . But some things are just gone.
Hiking towards Lone Pine the past couple of days was tough for me. I bonked. Big time . I didn’t have the energy I needed to walk up the mountain. I realized I wasn’t consuming enough calories . It was tough to even lift a leg . We had two over 10,000 foot passes , about 5000 feet in elevation . It shouldn’t have consumed all my energy . It did . The last pass as I crossed over, I broke down into years . I remembered the JMT, last year . I was hiking with a lovely man named Tom. Every pass, I would cry . He would gently ask why . I had no explanation, as there was no thought associated with the tears . Today, however a thought occurred to me. Perhaps the tears are for all those who don’t push themselves . For those who don’t attempt a summit. For those who were never given the chance . For those who never realized they could.
Life is so rich. The possibilities are endless . Don’t let your story consume you. Start a new chapter . Summit. Rise above.
I walk on
With love

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Tehachapi onward …

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We took a zero in Tehachapi. I have come to understand the importance and the absolute joy of a zero. Only 3 short weeks ago I was questioning why we needed to take a day off from hiking. It was what I came out here to do. We showered. The luxury of hot water pounding on our weary backs is heavenly. Our clothes were washed and cleaned . We ate real food . The first meal out we went to a hole in the wall Greek restaurant . I had a Greek salad with grilled lamb. It was fabulous . We went to Vietnamese for lunch and had warming soups . Our next dinner we indulged in another hole in the wall barbecue restaurant. I hadn’t eaten ribs since Shroomers party and before that years ago. I must say. My body is not used to so much food. We drank fabulous refreshing beers. The Colonel shared some of his favorites with us and we indulged . We laughed .
We also needed to shop for resupply.This was a challenge for me as I typically shop in the perimeters of a store. For my resupply I needed to shop in the middle aisles . It was like a foreign country . Foods were purchased I would never buy at home . Some of the foods inhabiting space in my pack, newtons fig bars, Reese’s peanut butter cups, idahoan potatoes, carnation instant breakfast and other divine foods.
A zero is not a rest day. Sure one has time to ice a knee, while sipping a beer, as clothes are washing, blogs are bring written , planning the upcoming trail while evaluating water reports, weather and possible camp spots. We are also researching possible places to eat, and ways to get to post office, pharmacy and grocery stores. Walking even two blocks is a difficult task on a zero day!
We hitched a ride to the trailhead . A woman picked us up and was competently flabbergasted as to why we were walking to Canada. She then expressed how impressed and amazed she was. It was a great ride.
We started the trail late.It was an extremely windy start. It was windier than Patagonia. My poles felt useless , when I was able to use them the intensity with which I held them created major stress to my traps and rhomboid muscles of my shoulder blades. Many times I felt as if I could be blown right off the mountain . It was frightening and exhausting. We would duck into the shelter of wind blown trees as we could . Even a minutes rest was invaluable .
The second half of the day wasn’t as tough, but it was a very long 18 miles . The water source was okay. It was a cow trough and looked less than desirable . We located a cistern up the bend and scooped water from that. It looked a little cleaner .
It was a challenging day. We are nestled like sardines in a tiny campsite we found lying right below the wind farm. It’s blades creating a ringing kind of a noise . I am told that studies have been done on people who live near these farms and typically the waves of energy emitted make it hard for people to sleep. We shall see !
It’s really cold and I didn’t feel like eating. I just snacked. I really just want to sleep . I ate a Reese’s peanut butter cup , nuts, and cornuts.
The trail today was a meandering path. Nothing too steep. I enjoyed it. At times challenging , at other times not. We made the transition between high desert and sierras today. It felt awesome to be walking on pine needle covered trails . I thought a bit about my post where I spoke about false summits. I realized that even if the top isn’t exactly the top and even if it isn’t what you expected , there are still some sweet surprises . Like the wind upon your face. Like a short moment where the trail flattens out and gives some respite .
We are in a forest now. We have our water supply set . We need to carry larger amounts of water than we have in the past as the upcoming water sources are bleak.
It’s funny how the mind wanders .Even here on the trail. One would think you could leave behind silly insecurities , fears and needs . But , those things are still there. I still struggle with little insignificant things wandering about my awareness. I think the thing I most want to accomplish is the ability to let go of silly nothings.
We awoke to 24 degrees and frozen water bottles. I was very cold. I struggled getting up. It’s hard when the temperature is that low and my breakfast is cold carnation instant breakfast. I got myself up and running and took off.
The trail wandered through an old fire area . It must have been really old as the trees were bleached by the sun. As unfortunate as a fire is, it was quite beautiful as the sun was rising and shining through. The trail descended for 7 miles towards a water cache. I had almost 10 pounds of water in my pack because water was uncertain in this section. The cache was empty. I met Barrel on the trail and he said the cache 20 miles ahead was full.
The descent took me back into the high desert. The trail ascended for miles. The sand was deep. The sun was hot. I walked solo. It was a really contemplative walk. There were prints on the trail that I assumed were a cat of some sort . It sure put me in the present moment.
I met up with Poco , WhyNot?! And Spirit for lunch. We decided to get to the next cache and then climb a few miles up to find our campsite.
An amazing walk down into Lake Isabella. The trails were lined with beautiful shades of purples, magenta, and yellows. Many lessons from the trail today. I was thinking about all the excuses , the petty things we come up with on a day to day basis so that we don’t have to do this or that . Those little aches and pains that arise and we use them as reasons for not completing or even starting a project. Out here, on the trail , there are no excuses. You either keep walking, or you get off the trail. I find myself giving less power to those things that I would let stop me before. My body does hurt. I have daily pain. New hindrances pop up daily. But, I walk on. I must. What is important has changed.
The other thing that came up for me as I was rounding a corner thinking, this looked just like the last bend in the mountain, that it really wasn’t the same . This portion of the trail was lined with purple flowers of varying shades, the last with oak trees. I heard birds singing on this portion and the last I was thinking of mountain lions. My point, those of us that get up daily thinking we are living a ho hum life and that it is all the same, day in and day out, it isn’t the same. Open your eyes . Listen deeper. Your life us made up of little treasures , put together, they make up the beautiful tapestry that is our life …
Lastly for this section. I wanted to tell you what a thru hiker diet looks like. The foods I ate today were : carnation instant breakfast, non fat dry milk, via coffee, almonds and coconut, cornuts, chips, cheese , sausage , kashi bar, probar bolts, root beer float, salad, fries, patty melt and a beer .. So far!! It is 5:30 in the evening .
I walk on
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Today we left Agua Dulce, home of the most loved trail angel Donna Saufley. To my dismay however, she was not here. Her son was getting married in Carmel. I was bummed, however the spirit and energy of this woman permeated the essence of her open home.
We spent a zero here . I tried to get some rest . I have not been able to sleep well because of knee pain .I spent the day preparing my food for the next five days, updating my blog and pictures, and resting my body .
I found it hard. I wanted to be on the trail . But honestly , truly I needed the day off .
While kicking back on the patio , drinking a beer and chatting with other hikers , I heard someone down by the tents yelling frantically at someone , or some thing. I walked down to my tent and Spirit was laughing trying to share a story with me…she said one of the horses which was in the coral right next to our
tent, had reached under the tent and grabbed my backpack and was preparing to take it away. I think the horse wanted to use my pack as a salt lick… It was full of salt from the sweat off my body the day before !!!
We left at6 am . We were prepared for an early 2000 foot climb. It was to be spread over 8 miles so it was no big deal . It was an easy climb. I was struck by many things as we were climbing . As we rounded each switchback in the trail I thought to myself .. Have we not hit the top yet ? It must be around the next bend . We have been climbing for so long. It must be the top.
I thought of how many times in life we are dealing with situations where the end is never in sight . Where the climb just keeps getting tougher with no respite . I thought of situations in life where the bad just seemed to keep piling up . Right when I thought it was going to get easier yet another switchback ,or another roadblock or another unresolved issue placed right in front of me .
What I realized today is that there is always a top to the mountain. Always an end to the roadblocks, always a light at the end of the tunnel . If we can only remember this. If we can only accept that there are and will be false summits . If we can only accept that it will get easier, evening in the bleakest of circumstances .
We hiked 24 miles today to the infamous. Casa de Luna. It’s a crazy kind of place . I don’t think I like it all that much , yet the camping is quite sweet . There were probably 25 of us . Terri Anderson made her famous taco salad. We drank beer, ate and laughed. I went to bed early as I was so freezing. I was actually shaking. Once I snuggled deep inside my bag
the shaking dissipated.
We got a late start as Terri made pancakes for breakfast. Because of the Powerhouse fire we had a detour. A twenty mile road walk . It was a very long, cold road walk. The body , especially the knees and feet are whipped. We arrived at Hiker Town tired , sore and hungry.
There are 10 of us here for the night. Preparing for the LA Aquaduct walk and the Mojave desert.
Life is full of challenges. Remembering that life is about change, is what is important. Weathering the storms, believing it will abate and it will get easier is what we must do . Embracing the difficult will make the easy,the light , so much brighter.
I walk on
With love

e

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Challenges on the trail and Gratitude

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We left Hiker Town prepared for the LA Aquaduct and the beginning of the Mojave Desert. We were blessed with a temperature of only 54 degrees. I can’t imagine starting out at 100. It is not all that unusual.
My head started playing games with me during this section. I walked solo for most of the 24 miles. I walked along a dirt road that for the most part followed the Aquaduct . As the day went on the sun became warmer and the winds became stronger. But, it wasn’t that hot. However , I struggled . I am not all that sure what thoughts were strolling through my awareness, but I did know, I wanted to stop, many times. Each times I rounded a bend in the road and the road extended as far as my eye could see, my heart would sink . I even called a man I recently met in Santa Cruz in hopes he could inspire me. In hopes he could talk about the cool ocean breeze and the sound of the oceans energy. He wasn’t home. I needed to face this day alone.
One thing that was interesting as I was walking along the Aquaduct. I was thinking how many times I have been searching for something. , and that thing was right before my eyes . Possibly out of reach, but there none the less. Like the water flowing through the Aquaduct . It was there , but not available, no matter how thirsty I may be.
We camped for the evening along a water source. I was exhausted . I ate. I got into my bag at 6:30. The winds were fierce all night long. I however burrowed myself down into my bag and felt sheltered from its intensity.
I awoke early and started hiking at 5:45. It wasn’t a good start for me. My stomach was unsettled and my energy was waning with every step. I struggled for the second day in a row. The 2000 foot climb was intense , however with the early start it wasn’t bad . As I rounded a bend over the crest an oasis greeted me. Chairs set up under the shade with weather. WhyNot?! was there totally relaxed. I let out the deepest sigh of gratitude , sat, drank, ate and regained my hiker stoke. Leaving the fabulous cache the trail wound through an old burn. Luscious flowers lined the hillsides, purples of all shades , sunshine yellows and pale shades of white. I was instantly smiling. I felt so happy. One thing that crossed my mind. I needed , for the past two days, an outside stimulus to create happiness or positive frame of mind. I couldn’t find it within. Once I realized this I tried to see what brought a sense of contentment within. I realized it is gratitude. When I think of all that I am grateful for, I instantly come to a place of complete satisfaction. I don’t crave outside stimulus, I realize I can create that peace, that joy myself ! What a wonderful feeling this awareness brought to be. The flowers , the mountains , the crows gliding above were all extra .
We hiked 24 miles today. It has been a trying 2 days. My feet, my knees , my mind are looking forward to this break in Tehachapi.Lying on the bed in the Best Western trying to garner up strength to walk 2 blocks for dinner.
This is a good life. I am blessed .
I walk on
With love

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False Summits

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Today we left Agua Dulce, home of the most loved trail angel Donna Saufley. To my dismay however, she was not here. Her son was getting married in Carmel. I was bummed, however the spirit and energy of this woman permeated the essence of her open home.
We spent a zero here . I tried to get some rest . I have not been able to sleep well because of knee pain .I spent the day preparing my food for the next five days, updating my blog and pictures, and resting my body .
I found it hard. I wanted to be on the trail . But honestly , truly I needed the day off .
While kicking back on the patio , drinking a beer and chatting with other hikers , I heard someone down by the tents yelling frantically at someone , or some thing. I walked down to my tent and Spirit was laughing trying to share a story with me…she said one of the horses which was in the coral right next to our
tent, had reached under the tent and grabbed my backpack and was preparing to take it away. I think the horse wanted to use my pack as a salt lick… It was full of salt from the sweat off my body the day before !!!
We left at6 am . We were prepared for an early 2000 foot climb. It was to be spread over 8 miles so it was no big deal . It was an easy climb. I was struck by many things as we were climbing . As we rounded each switchback in the trail I thought to myself .. Have we not hit the top yet ? It must be around the next bend . We have been climbing for so long. It must be the top.
I thought of how many times in life we are dealing with situations where the end is never in sight . Where the climb just keeps getting tougher with no respite . I thought of situations in life where the bad just seemed to keep piling up . Right when I thought it was going to get easier yet another switchback ,or another roadblock or another unresolved issue placed right in front of me .
What I realized today is that there is always a top to the mountain. Always an end to the roadblocks, always a light at the end of the tunnel . If we can only remember this. If we can only accept that there are and will be false summits . If we can only accept that it will get easier, evening in the bleakest of circumstances .
We hiked 24 miles today to the infamous. Casa de Luna. It’s a crazy kind of place . I don’t think I like it all that much , yet the camping is quite sweet . There were probably 25 of us . Terri Anderson made her famous taco salad. We drank beer, ate and laughed. I went to bed early as I was so freezing. I was actually shaking. Once I snuggled deep inside my bag
the shaking dissipated.
We got a late start as Terri made pancakes for breakfast. Because of the Powerhouse fire we had a detour. A twenty mile road walk . It was a very long, cold road walk. The body , especially the knees and feet are whipped. We arrived at Hiker Town tired , sore and hungry.
There are 10 of us here for the night. Preparing for the LA Aquaduct walk and the Mojave desert.
Life is full of challenges. Remembering that life is about change, is what is important. Weathering the storms, believing it will abate and it will get easier is what we must do . Embracing the difficult will make the easy,the light , so much brighter.
I walk on
With love

e

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Elements

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Whereas the strong , powerful winds dominated the first days of section D, extremely hot desert temperatures permeated our bodies the second half. Mother Nature sharing some of those elements that make up her essence.
Poodle Dog Brush appeared in force. This poisonous plant seems to thrive in burn areas. Because this section was dominated by old burns, the trails were over run by Poodle Dog. A friend of ours shared photos of the rash he received from the dreaded dog . He hiked the PCT when it wasn’t a well known plant, not more than a very few years ago . The rash more painful. , more intense than any poison oak.
The mental and physical agony of trying to avoid the dog got quite overwhelming as in some areas the brush was so dense on the trail that you couldn’t be sure you were avoiding it. We actually did some road walk detours just to avoid the dog.
Because of the road walk around the Station Fire of a couple of years ago , that claimed too many fire fighters lives, we walked through an old prison that had been evacuated during the fire. The dog grew quite large and out of control in that area . It was quite frightening…and a little spooky. We camped a little below it.
The long road walk was contemplative.I walked alone and absorbed the intensity of the burn. Thinking a lot about life, about new growth , about how life is constantly in motion, constantly in a state of flux. The beautiful old growth trees destroyed by the Station Fire. Destroyed by man . It made my heart sad. But, as I looked closer I could see the new growth and I thought as I do of my own life, of change , of new growth and once again I expressed my gratitude to the natural world for reminding me that life is about change, and once that awareness can be embraced, life and all it’s mysteries can indeed be understood in a brighter light.
The trail is constantly changing. Around each bend, if I stay in the moment I acknowledge the changing landscapes , the wildflowers , the rock formations , the variations in the clouds….
Water is continually in our thoughts. The mileage for the day is centered around water access. It will continue to be a challenge until the Sierras , which will be in about 200 miles. …
Challenges arise from within and from outside of myself. If it isn’t the mind doubting myself, such as glancing up after 17 miles or so and around each bend is what seems to be a never ending winding uphill and my mind over and over resisting and going against the natural flow, then it is the body with its aches and pains , some momentarily , others longer lasting. But, every morning arising to do it all again , with eagerness and curiosity about what the day may bring.
Wandering along throughout the day my mind quiets, these are the moments I most enjoy. But then, there are those times when I am in deeper thought, such as the question , what makes a perfect life ?
I realize it’s not perfection as we envision perfection . A perfect life is a life full of imperfection, for without imperfection how could we possibly feel all of life’s ups and downs. I love this. I love that life is this way .
We are at the Saufleys in Agua Dulce. I was looking forward to meeting the premier trail angel , Donna Saufley. To my dismay she is out of town this weekend. However , we were re – united with some friends we had met earlier on the trail. It was good to hang out with them, drink a couple beers, laugh a couple laughs, enjoy the friendships!!! They are however off again this morning . They are fast. I will miss the Colonel, Beowolf, Monsoon and Williewha… I hope to cross their paths again.
Today will be a day of rest. A day to organize and plan the next 200 miles.
The elements that make up my life, appear daily on the trail . Gentle and sometimes not so gentle reminders about what this thing called life is all about. Feeling such gratitude .
With love ,
I walk on.

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Embracing the Wind

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What a fabulous day!! I found myself embracing the wind and all she delivered. It was cold. It was full of energy . We climbed to the top of Mt Baden Powell. It was our biggest climb yet on the PCT. I felt it with every muscle of my body. I felt it in the emotional center of my heart. It was strenuous and I loved it!
I wanted to share with you my tribe .The Red Road Rodents and the exterminator .
Atlas is a 28 year old. He is from North Carolina. He was working for Habitat for Humanity. He decided he wanted to hike the PCT about two years ago. We met him while hiking with the Mt Diablo group. He is the lone guy in our group. We call him the Exterminator. It is so much fun to have him around.He is the kind of guy you would like your daughter to bring home ( if she didn’t already have a guy !)
Spirit comes most recently from Portland. We met her on day one. She was lying on a rock and resting after the climb out of Hauser Canyon. Her boyfriend , whom we gave the trail name of TAJ, trail angel Justin. He would bring us snacks and beers when we arrived at campsites. Spirit is a sweet soul. She is 29 years old. She brings a youthful energy to our group. Poco Loco is from Napa. She is so funny. She makes everybody smile. Always thinking about others, often putting others ahead of herself. WhyNot?! is the experienced hiker of our group. She is a triple crowner . She has hiked the PCT, the AT, and the CDT. She was only going to hike with us for a few weeks. We knew she would decide to spend the next 5 months with us. She shares immense amounts of trail knowledge with us.
I am Grasshopper, on a continual journey of living my life to my utmost potential. Yearning to inspire others to pursue their dreams no matter how out of reach they may seem.
The Red Road Rodents were formed last November when WhyNot?!, PocoLoco and I backpacked into Joshua Tree. It was our first trail experience together . We were stoked!
We spent last night at Little Jimmy Spring. One other camper shared our site. He said he was a green beret and took others on outings into the wilderness. His name was Machete. He wanted to start a campfire. He said he would watch it with all his water next to him in case he needed it. I awoke around eleven. The fire had started up as the winds raged through our campground . I got up and covered it with stones . I am so grateful I woke up . Who knows what could have happened if I didn’t wake up.
I recognized how intricate the patterns in life are woven together . As the winds came howling into our campground and I burrowed deeply into my sleeping bag I realized the song of the wind was the same song I hear the ocean sing as I am lying at the point on Napili when the oceans energy is at its highest. The ebb and flow of the winds, the ocean and of my life, in constant motion, in constant change, and I am learning to flow with the current.
The walk today was long. The miles walked seemed very slow. The winds taking control of the speed with which we maneuvered the wilderness trails. We were fighting at least 60 mph winds climbing a mountain. At times we needed to stop and bear down so as not to be swayed off the trail and over the cliff. It was exhausting. It was very slow moving. But, I loved it. The elements of nature once again letting me know I am alive .
I walk on
With love

y

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