Suck It Up Buttercup!!

Suck It Up buttercup, put your big girl panties on and cowgirl up! Yep that is what I told myself!!! I chose to do this hike and knew the pros and cons going in!  The injury is just a set back, but that is why I started early after all lol. Slow n steady all the way and I don’t care if I set the record for taking the longest amount of time to achieve it, hehe. A couple weeks before my dad passed away I told him I decided I was going to go back to the PCT and make it to Canada. I remember he touched my hand, smiled and said “that’s my girl”  he passed away February 8th, he was my biggest fan and cheerleader.  I carry him with me everyday, the hardest part is when I take pictures, he loved checking facebook everyday to see my stories and my pictures!!!  So this lady lit a fire under her ass,  pulled up her boot straps, slapped herself in the ass and declared “giddy up” let’s do this and do it right!!! Can’t stop a rolling rock, adapt to the situation handed to me and overcome it!!! The PCT is addicting, she’s beautiful, majestic and soothing but now and then I think she challenges me to see if I have what it takes to see it thru!! Challenge accepted!!! Hopefully in a week or so I’ll be showing her who’s boss! Yeah this girl has what it takes!!! Stayed tuned ya’ll 🙂 keep it wild.  Hugs to all of you!!!

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

It’s been quite a roller coaster ride of events since my last blog entry, LOL. The last 2 miles into Mt. Laguna were somewhat rough; It was a beautiful warm day which created alot of snow melt. The trail was a muddy, sludgey, slippery mess. Clay and Okie were hiking in front of me and I was somewhat relieved to see them struggling as much as I was, lol, shame on me
; We were all being tossed about, slipping n sliding all over the trail.  We did walk on snow as much as possible because it was easier but not always an option.  The next day I saw the young men who informed they were going home, okie had a bad knee injury and all 3 of us knew why.  I told the boys that my left foot was sore but I thought it was just bruised from the rough terrain.  Then Blondie and Doni came to visit me at the lodge and my day was instantly perfect!! I was like a kid at Disney land, I was so happy to see them again and of course Blondie packs enuff food, wine and goodies for a small army! Lol  That evening ugliest cheerleader, coastal and his brother bipostal rolled into town! Yay what a fun way to end a perfect day! The first thing coastal yells is “pink panther!!!” Lol and in his hand was a tiny bottle of bailey’s irish creme, my favorite!! This man has never met me but knew from facebook that I liked baileys, lol.  And he carried this all the way from the border just for me!!! I almost wanted to cry, his kindness definately touched my heart and flattered me!! We all enjoyed a couple hours together of food and wine, then the men went to their cabins, they were exhausted and ready for well deserved sleep in a bed!! The next morning my girls were gonna head back home, since I already hiked this bit we got into the car and drove to warner springs to retrieve a box I had there, with my medicines in it, duh it was Sunday lol grr .   So we went to eagle rock to play around a bit and have a fun girls photo shoot.  I decided I would stay in warner and wait for my box the next day and would just re hike the bit to idyllwild.  We said our goodbyes which was hard on me, I really love these ladies and so wanted us all to hike together again.  They got all the way home when they realized I left my stove in the car and drove it all the way back to me!!!! Yes I cried!!! I was so grateful and overwhelmed with emotion that they did this so I could have my hot coffee and dinners!!! I got my box from the post office, whew!!! But I noticed my foot was still in quite a bit of pain, I thought wow that’s weird it should feel better by now, I stayed in more night in warner and visited with the locals I had met last year, that was fun too!! Nope foot still in pain so I hitched to idyllwild, I already hiked warner to idyllwild last year and would rest there and then hike out to big bear (cuz I missed that bit last year) 3 days later I put my pack on, ready to tackle san jacinto! ! And bam! There it was, intense pain!!! My left foot couldn’t take the weight at all.  Thanks to halfmile I got to the VA hospital in Loma Linda to get help.  Doc said it’s not broke but the tendon on side of foot was in bad shape,  it’s gonna take at least 2 weeks to heal. She also told me if I hiked on it before that I could separate the tendon from the ankle and then would never hike again! !! Ugh what a heart breaking blow that was.  So now I have to decide what to do, stay or go home! Where to recover at that won’t cost me a small fortune? Decisions!!! I hate this part and it’s a tough one!!! I’m sure the answer and/solution will come to me.  I hope n pray.  So for now I’m on hold. 

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Beep Beep

March 1st and 2nd were tough!  Southern terminus to Lake Morena, it rained, all day, both days!  It was like hiking through wet cement and cold.  I enjoyed the hike in spite of the challenges and the weather.  I saw yellow, pink and blue flowers and i think it was the blue ones that were emitting a beautiful sweet scent!  On a possitive note, there was no lack of water them 2 days, lol.  March 2nd after arrival at lake morena it hailed 3 different times lol, crazy.  Took a zero day at lake Morena,  Tuesday March 3rd to clean up gear and dry out.  Was a beautiful mostly sunny day until about 1:30 p.m when the clouds rolled in and I’ll be damned if it didn’t start raining and hailing again! Ugh lol I’m starting to feel like a drowned rat and can hardly wait to get to Mt. Laguna and get a hotel room to wash myself and my clothes 🙂   I’m thinking I will take 3 days to get to Mt. Laguna.  6 miles, 7 miles and then 9 miles. I’m having some shin splint issues and don’t wanna make it worse, that and my muscles are kinda rebelling, lol.  I’m starting to think the PCT likes giving me a smack down when I first start out hehehe but beep beep I’m coming thru!!! Ps…no pics yet due to rain ..Sighs. maybe next posting I hope.

♪♫ All About That Base ♪♫

First entry of 2015, what an amazing year it’s going to be! I’m making another attempt at a thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), with a start date of early March.  I will have a definite start date in the next few weeks.  I have had some requests from other hikers to post a little something about my gear choices for this year, so here I am.  We all know it’s about that base weight, and I try hard to keep my pack as light as possible without sacrificing my comfort or safety (warmth and dry).  This year i’ve chosen to use the Thermarest women’s prolite sleeping pad (17oz), I prefer the semi closed cell type (last year i had switched out to a REI women’s air rail (1lb 9 oz0, which i also loved!). Switching pads saved me 7 oz of weight.  Me and the thicker blow up air mattresses have issues, turf wars! I always felt cold sleeping on a air pad and thank goodness there was not a camera recording in my tent at night! I would wake up with the pad beside me or top of me (IDK what all went on in my tent, but it was crazy) so I switched to a lower profile pad.  I sleep good, stay warmer and don’t have dreams i’m falling off a cliff! (that’s a bonus right there).  I’m still carrying my Zpacks 60L Arcblast pack, I love this pack! I was amazed at how well it carried on my back! ( I had major back surgery a few years ago and was worried about using a ultralight pack).  The sleeping bag of choice for 2015 is the 20 degree zpacks (great reviews on this and good feedback from my trail friends who used it) I ordered the Long (cuz i’m 5’7) and wide (i heard the regular size toe box is kinda cramped, and well I like my space to move about), I used the Feathered Friends Egret 20 degree last year and it’s an amazing bag! I just wanted to lighten up a little this year. Switching bags to the zpacks saved me 11 oz of weight. Tent: the winner for 2015 is Zpacks Duplex (A trail Diva loves her palace), I even ordered it in camo..woot lol.  I used the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 (2014 edition) last year and I have nothing but LOVE for the copper spur, it’s bombproof!!! Switching tents saved me 1lb, 8oz’s …

I will be using the Jetboil minimo at 14oz, but I like the little short n squatty pot! Just seems like a good fit for me! My base layers are Minus33 brand, 200 gram merino wool, I prefer these over my icebreakers because they seem to be warmer (tighter knitting I suppose).  Montbell 2015 Frost Smoke Parka, 12 oz, I like the new square box stitching and always warm in their jackets, so i didn’t see a need to switch brands.  Stay with what works, right? yep that’s me… New Balence 910’s are my shoes! Yes they are gortex, but that’s the one that comes in wide and when you have ugly, boney wide feet..these do the job! I tested a pair in Wales (500 miles) and they performed brilliantly! NO BLISTERS and NO Plantar fascitis issues…yay me!!!  I’ve also used the NB 810V3’s and love them, they are best for warm weather hiking tho when you don’t expect snow….

That’s about it for now, I will update when All my gear is packed up and I can get an accurate total base weight.  For now i’m busy working on my resupply boxes, maps (thanks yogi!) and dehydrating my yummy spaghetti (I never get tired of my spaghetti sauce on trail )

Remember to Donate to the PCTA (Pacific Crest Trail Association), to ensure our trails stay wild and beautiful. http://www.pcta.org/

Stay Wild My Friends, Carpe Diem!

50th Birthday

December 5th, 1964 I was born, it was snow storm kind of day. My dad helped my mom into the car to go to the hospital, when he slipped on the ice and shut his ear in the car door! I do believe it was my destiny or birth right to live life, be adventurous and experience the good and the bad.  I wouldn’t change a thing, no regrets! A roller coaster is much more exciting then a merry go round lol.  I’ve traveled the world, served 8 years in the army and raised 3 fabulous children! The only wish I have, is that time would’ve passed a little more slowly.  Some of my greatest memories are when all my kids were at home.  For my birthdays and mothers day they would make me breakfast, bring me wild flowers and help with household chores.  We would snuggle up on the sofa and talk about all kinds of things, watch a favorite t.v show or play music and dance around the house being silly.

I didn’t get to start hiking until 2012, after 2 of the kids were grown and the third was old enuff I could.  I had seen a National Geographic story on the Pacific Crest Trail, I told my family I would hike that trail one day! They laughed and thought I was nuts lol, I probably am but I like me this way and I think they do also.  Before tackling the PCT I thought I should try something else first to see if I had it in me to do such a grand adventure, that’s when I saw the movie “The Way” and knew the camino would be my first experience, The  Camino Frances.  I met several fabulous people from all over the world, shared wine and laughs the whole way (one day I want to hike it again) that’s how I got addicted to long distance hiking!  Just a taste is all it took and I was hooked.  I returned home and started plotting course for the PCT, determined I would accomplish this and on April 1st, 2014 I took my first steps on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and I was in love, even though it was raining that day.  I wasn’t able to finish the whole trail due to foot issues (plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis), the pain was intense! I knew it wasn’t the backpack or weight, I wasn’t carrying much at all and if it was the pack surely my hips and/or back would ache.  I figured it was my shoes, so I switched to a new shoe and it worked, I recovered back home in Texas, then scurried off to hike The Wales Coast Path (Cliff hiking, the entire coastline of Wales), I completed 500 miles of that hike, I ended it early due to severe weather.  However, my gear and my body held up like champs and I was a very happy hiker.  March 2015 (approximate) I plan to hike the PCT again, starting at the beginning, the southern terminus!  I guess you could say this is my official announcement of my intentions for hiking in 2015, lol.  I’m hoping when I finish the PCT that I will be able to continue hiking and do The Grand Enchantment Trail.

I’ve replaced only a few items of gear for the upcoming hiking season, I’m going with a lighter sleeping bag and sleeping pad and for my birthday I bought me a new down coat and a jetboil minimo.  2015 is setting up to be a fantastic year and I’m very excited!

p.s.  Please remember to donate $$ and or volunteer your time with PCTA (Pacific Crest Trail Association), they do great things for the trail and help keep it going strong 🙂

Lessons Learned

I can honestly say that the short time (8 wks or so) I spent on the PCT taught me alot.  Mostly about my gear and some about myself.  Several started on April fools day, 2014 and wow what a surprise mother nature had in store for us.  For approximately 3 or 4 days we experienced, winds, rain, hail and ice (sometimes inside our tents), it was a brutal experience for me.  Thanks to several hikers and trail angels at Lake Moreno I survived it lol, I was pre-hypothermic!! No Joke!! They all took care of me until I reached Mt. Laguna where I was able to get a warmer sleeping bag (feathered friends, Ecrit 20 degree, but we all know FF is generous with their ratings, that bag proved to be good to 10 degrees), further up the trail I switched my sleeping pad, didn’t take me long to realize I DON”T like sleep pads that are 3-4″ thick filled with air! I was freezing from underneath me and i’m a warm sleeper..lol I switched to a REI Siderail (womens) I had used this pad before and knew it was comfy and warm at only 1″ thickness, a bit heavier then most would like but I now had the perfect sleep system for me!  I started with a cuban fiber tent (2person, which was more tent then I could handle by myself at the time (I was new to cuban fiber)) which I swapped out for a free standing sil-nylon, yes again, more weight but I was much warmer!!! I found out that New Balance trail runners are perfect for me sensitive feet, absolutely love them! So going forward to Wales for my “winter” hiking I took NB trail runners WT910 (gortex), my sil-nylon tent (big agnes copper spur 2, which proved to be bomb proof in a tropical storm) and my FF sleeping bag and REI sleep pad went with me…the weather went from perfect hiking weather to some really bad storms and the strongest winds I’d ever experienced on a trail…all my gear performed flawlessly!  Some of you know I have been contemplating another attempt at a thru hike on the PCT, and already I’m making a list and checking it twice and counting the ounces, but I can assure you I will be prepared for the extreme weather that can occur on the PCT, especially when starting early in the season. Tho I am considering going back to a Cuban fiber tent….(zpacks is my favorite, I have their Arcblast pack which i’m in love with! and want to try their sleeping bag as well) ~sighs~ decisions, decisions lol… well stay tuned, I will make my decisions soon enuff….My advice to new long distance hikers is, know your body and your needs (warmth, cold, comfort) and try to get an idea of the calories, nutrition you will need, I lost alot of weight the first 2 weeks….had to increase my snacks and eat more often during the day…you can and probably will encounter hot n dry conditions on trails, very cold and/or icy conditions, very strong winds…and you need to carry enuff WATER!!! I always have the capability to carry 6 liters or more if necessary…..Whatever hikes you’re planning, make sure you do your research and ask questions from experienced hikers and I sincerely wish you the best of luck and greatest enjoyment possible for your future endeavors…savor the moments, good and bad, celebrate the beauty you will see and take time to absorb it all, document your journey with video, pictures or words….we’ll chat again soon!!10260578_803535619657796_720272284_o 10252857_805376659473692_880870097_o 10267058_805376739473684_1019864532_o (1) 10253997_10152474309016719_5386979100937574319_n 10359467_819045521440139_182137521_o 10342327_819045014773523_1451315807_o 10322826_10202863485840572_1576749631431964318_n

Wales Coast Hike

September 2014 I set off for my fall/winter hiking in Wales and Ireland, what a dream come true I thought as I drifted off to sleep on the long flight.  The PCT definitely helped prepare me for this coastal/cliff hike!! In the UK when they say straight up or down they mean it! LOL There are no switchbacks.  The Wales Coast Path took me through some of the most brutal and beautiful trail I’ve ever seen or done.  Majestic views that made me stop to catch my breath and wonder, how do you explain this kind of beauty  to people? Answer: you can’t….  I encountered my own private little beaches/coves, only accessible via the trail, I walked through sheep and cow pastures at times..lol that was an experience.  Black face sheep are mischievous and watch and follow you just to make you nervous, tho I did find them quite entertaining.  The cows are nosey and just wanna see what your up to or if you have food for them, did I mention the cows are huge there?  I saw wild mountain goats and miniature ponies.  I witnessed some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.  I also had to deal with some of the worse storms I’ve ever been hiking in, the rain is brutal and the winds are fierce, so much so that it doesn’t matter what rain gear you have it will find a way to soak you, everywhere! lol (I was prepared for this, so no worries, but it didn’t make it any warmer while in it lol) The trail tested not only my hiking and navigation skills at times, it tested my scrambling abilities and fear of heights often!  I took several side trips to visit historical sites and experience local culture, foods, people….was such a great experience!!! I did a video of the pictures I took, some are of Dublin, Knowth, Newgrange and the battle of the boyne in Ireland, some are of Chester and Bournemouth England and the rest are of my hike.   Will I hike the PCT again? Probably!!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RXorphDt30&feature=share

The Fire Within

Soon I will depart for my winter hiking adventures in England and Europe.  It still amazes me at the looks and comments I get about long distance hiking.  Outsiders (those who do not hike, backpack, trek or tramp) just don’t get.  I get comments like, “MUST BE THE LIFE” and imply it’s easy and we have nothing else to do!! Really people? Wake up, think outside the box!!  Hikers are like ultra athletes and/marathoners, we suffer the same injuries (Achilles tendonitis, plantar fascitis,  shin splints and stress fractures are a few examples)  Just like any sport or exercise program, hiking releases endorphins,  which makes us want more of it! (Type of addiction so to speak).  It’s a fire that burns deep within our souls, a desire to experience life outside the box!  To reap the rewards of hiking we must endure the brutality of it!  Our bodies ache, muscles burn, we get injuries, suffer illnesses, loneliness and equipment failures.   Hiking is not free, it costs us time and money!!  We hike 7 to 10 hours a day or more, we ascend and descend almost daily and sometimes for several miles.   Ascending our muscles ache n burn and descending our knees and feet will scream at us but we keep going everyday.  Why? Because of the fire burning within! To experience, feel, taste, see and smell all nature has to offer and what some could only dream of or read about in books!  We feed the fire and endure the exhaustion and pains to live a dream.  My opinion is of course, if you have to ask you wouldn’t understand anyways.  If you wanna feel and experience what we do, then leave your comfort zone and your box and get out there, into the wild and feed your fire within!

Gone But Not Forgotten

My hike on the Pacific Crest Trail may be over for this year, but I will be back!  I will never forget the fabulous people I met and  the amazing musical talent I had the privilege of hearing!  I learned that I could co-exist in an environment in the middle of nowhere with people from all age groups, ethnic backgrounds and cultural differences, I will never forget them or what I learned from them…forever in my heart and my thoughts.  

I plan on trying again in 2015.  I learned alot about myself that I hope will better prepare me for next time.  I learned to walk slower and tread softly. I learned to dance in the rain and celebrate the cold, hail, snow.  I’m anxious to experience the trail again, to feel the inner peace and euphoria, to observe all her beauty and inhale all her scents.

My next adventure is the Camino Del Norte in Spain.  It is a 500 mile hike and is the oldest (original) pilgrims path in Spain.  Y’all should Google this and read up on it, fascinating stuff! It’s more wilderness and desolate then some of the other caminos, so I will be taking my tent, stove and all necessary equipment. I should be leaving for Spain about mid September 2014.  I won’t be blogging about it but rather I will post pictures and write in my facebook group (tess gone wild, hiking adventures)  I expect to finish this camino about the 3rd week of October at which time I will be going to England to hike the “Southwest Coast Path” this is a 630 mile hike and is the longest path in England.  I expect to complete it before Christmas 2014.  http://www.southwestcoastpath.com/

After my hiking and in between hikes I am taking time to visit some friends and spending Christmas in England.. After which I will go to Ireland and do some short coastal hikes..

Bittersweet

This is my first blog entry since I started my hike on April 1st, I will sum it all up to this point best I can. 
April fools day, what a memorable start to such a long journey.  It rained and hailed for two days with cold winds, I took the beating and hiked on! Determined or crazy? Shrugs lol.
Then there was the heat waves, Omg was it hot, then came the cool fronts with hurricane force winds, talk about some tough scarey hiking! Yet again I continued to hike on.. later I left the trail for a total for about 12 days due to severe Achilles tendinitis and another type of tendinitis I can’t pronounce lol xoxo ‘ s .  At the point I wonder if I’m insane haha.  But I hit the trail running, so to speak, and was knocking out 20 and 22 mile days and 17 miles.  I amazed myself with that one.  And now I’m relaxing in a hotel letting some blisters heal up, muscles recover and actually being lazy on mothers day.
The following is my summary of long distance hiking on the Pacific crest trail.  She can be a brutal, deceitful little bitch! Hiking is NOT easy! It’s exhausting! Everyday is a roller coaster of ups and downs.  Pain, discomfort and soreness are a given however like a friend once said, suffering is optional.  Stopping and taking days off are essential for a successful and enjoyable hike if you are wounded or hurting.  Even the PCT can be a brutal bitch she’s also very loving. Just when I want to curse her she shows me the most beautiful scenery, lizards or frogs and plants that I’ve ever seen, ya know the stuff dreams are made of.  In my darkest hours she comforts me with warm kisses of sunshine and embraces me with gentle breezes,  and at night she sings you a lullaby till you fall asleep.  Tho I get anxious and excited for my days off in town eating real food, showering and washing clothes etc I find myself thinking of the trail and craving her.  She’s very addicting, a drug that warms my entire being.  She has a way of showing you just how strong you really are and how weak you are, she will humble you and awaken your soul at the same time.  She will take your breathe away with rewards of beauty you can only imagine.  She has already changed me, I can feel it.  Each day I say hello to her and at night a gentle goodnight, it’s definately a bittersweet journey.