Wednesday, April 25, 2012
So for some AZT related news, I saw my first Gila monster the other day. He was about the length of my forearm, and very cool looking, and while I snapped some photos, I don't think I can figure out where on this Mac computer the photo card goes. I also pissed off two snakes this morning, one a rattler that was kind enough to warn me when I was about 4 feet away, but he was certainly defending his territory. The other one was lazily laying across the middle of the trail, and when I poked him (or her) with my trekking pole, I created a very angry snake, that reared up, and was not going to let me pass. I ended up hopping through the grass hoping that I didn't find any others. The two snakes were less than 100 yards away, so my concern was justified! I also think I saw a baby coral snake the other day, and have probably seen 47,013 small lizards. I had a coati run across the road in front of me, and have flushed turkeys, mule deer, and lot of cows out of the brush. Hiking alone certainly has its perks!
Enough for now, I'm going to sit on couch and drink a bottle of wine in my 10 dollar dress bought from K-mart. Life is hard.
Oh but first...I rode a public bus today. By myself. This is silly I know, but for those of you that know me, nothing freaks me out more than navigating public transport. However with my dandy smartphone in hand, I conquered it with ease and grace. Well maybe not grace, I hadn't showered in over 10 days...
Monday, April 23, 2012
This post will be a jumble of thoughts. I blame the 100 degree weather. The last few days have been insanely warm. So warm in fact, that I get up at 5:30 am (!) in order to hike while it's cool. Though even that only lasts an hour or two. And I am forced off trail through the middle of the day and required to retreat to shade and my Mylar umbrella for a large chunk of the day. Who doesn't love a 5 hour siesta?!
But, at least the temperatures drop a bit through the night, and sleep comes easy. I am currently siesta-ing surrounded by saguro cacti near saguro national park. Being my 7th day hiking, I'm pleased with my progress.
So now for the fun stuff. The list of ailments I enjoy. First and foremost, dehydration. A constant concern, though I have been able to keep the worst of it at bay. And now, from the feet up:
1-swollen, tender feet and toes
2-throbbing ankles (thanks soccer)
4-heat rash all over my legs and hips
5-extreme joint pain in my hips
6-aching back (water is heavy)
7-chafing on my biceps due to pack straps
8-daily bloody noises from the dry heat
9-blisters on my thumbs and ring fingers from trekking poles
It's not all suffering- I get to eat oatmeal creme pies covered with nutella for breakfast. Along with my ibuprofen of course.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
So, I'm on day three. My body hurts. Like halfway thru Oregon pain. My legs throb, my back aches, and I'm tired. I understand that hiking twenty miles a day can do that to a person, but my hiker hobble might be at it's best (worst?) right now. but it's been lovely out there.
Since I spend alot of time thinking, I wanted to share what's been on my mind lately. I am undeniably tethered to my smartphone. My trail guidebook, databook, and water reports are all saved as pdfs. I have ten gigs of music, and all of my important emails saved. And I just downloaded the Skype app so I could make phone calls from towns with wifi, but without coverage. I can check the weather, arrange rides, and balance my bank account from it. And to ensure that I can continue to do all these things I have a spare battery AND a solar charger. Are these good things? Yes and no. While on the PCT, I used my phone to call in I helicopter to help evacuate a fellow hiker. And if you ask my pops, I'm sure he is happy to hear from me often. But do I feel like I am a prisoner to my phone? Yes.
Well, if nothing else, you benefit from this, as this post is brought to you from that same phone...
Monday, April 16, 2012
So, it's been a long winter since I have updated this thing. I was busy. Way busy. Piles of clothes and gear in my car busy. Buying energy drinks buy the carton, busy.
In a quick recap, I returned to Park City, UT. And started eagerly waiting for the snow. Well its April and I'm still waiting. It was a tough dry winter for skiers and snowboarder. Luckily I kept myself so busy that I didn't spend too much time harping on it. I returned to work at the Canyons Daycare, and to supplement my meager income, tried to pick up a few local babysitting jobs. I never knew how lucky I would get. I found an amazing family with 4 awesome kids, aged 5 to 13, and became a regular babysitter for them, then transitioned into their nanny. But I was the cool type of nanny, burying them in the snow, and chasing them around the house, and getting them as tired as I could for bedtime. The hardest part about leaving Park City for my hike of the AZT was saying goodbye to them. They will be out of town for the summer, but back in the fall, and I can't wait to catch up with them and see what they have been up to.
But in my typical fashion, I worked too hard, too much, and I was burnt out and DESPERATELY in need of a vacation. I was dating a guy and the relationship dissolved on my 25th birthday, and it was another disappointment of the winter. But that's life. If I hadn't been sitting on the couch searching for the bottom of a bottle of wine, I might not have asked the FBook community "i will have free time from the middle of april until june. what should i do!?" in which 12 minutes later, Liz Chaplin responded with something like "check this out... www.aztrail.org." And that's how it began...
So in roughly 3 weeks, I got new shoes, a Mylar umbrella, and tried to determine if I would shrivel up and die to due the heat (still a strong possibility- forecast is in the 90's this week). I called Papa and told him that instead of visiting me in Park City, he should fly to Tucson. Based on my past plans, I don't think he even batted an eye, and in fact had his tickets booked before I did. I moved out of my condo, tossing everything into storage, and trying to tie up loose ends. I think I made it happen. Only time will tell.
So, tomorrow, I hit the border. With my pops, then start walking North. There are a lot of thing worse in life than this. As a popular slogan around Park City states, "My Life is Better Than Your Vacation."
This can't come as too much of a shock to anyone. I was bored, and having spent the last 7 months in Park City, I was one month over my usual "6-month adventure itch." Walking is easy for me. The gear was mostly owned and shoved into my closet. I just had to sort out the details, my least favorite part. Water caches, flights, mileage, passages, food drops, GPS, and of course, music. The last week has been a hectic week in which at times I have to wonder, "why do I enjoy doing this to myself?!" But for the most part, everything usually works out.
About the trail.
Roughly 800 miles, it runs from the Mexican Border to the Utah border, crossing mountain ranges and lots of desert, and tackling the imposing Grand Canyon by going straight down one side, and straight up the other. It stays close to the bigger cities, paralleling just east of Tucson, Phoenix, and Flagstaff, finishing in the middle of nowhere in Southern Utah. Yes, illegal immigrants can be a concern, but every trail has its unique character. Hopefully friends (this means you!) will be out to join me for sections, however small, to break up the solitary experience I expect to find. Water is my primary issue. I can walk, fairly well actually, but I cannot make water, and I don't care to taste my own urine. But that sure would be a fun story....
Flight to Phoenix is boarding. More details later!