Sunday, January 27, 2013

Reservations.

res·er·va·tion

[rez-er-vey-shuhn] 
noun
1. the act of keeping back, withholding, or setting apart.
2. the act of making an exception or qualification.
3. an exception or qualification made expressly or tacitly: to accept something, but with inner reservations.
4. an arrangement to secure accommodations at a restaurant or hotel, on a boat or plane, etc.
 
The CDT.  
 
I most certainly have my reservations about it.  Am I keeping back and withholding?  Is hiking an easy cop-out for trying something new and challenging? I know the CDT will be brutal, but at the core of it all, it is walking.  Walking for a long time, but, walking.  Something most of us had mastered by the time we were a year old.  I never had lifelong dreams of traversing the country on foot, and now I am considering doing it for the third time?  Without a doubt, I have missed out on many things in life to make this happen.  I have allowed dust to gather on my passport, I have watched relationships dissolve, friendships fade.  As I quickly approach my 26th birthday, it is necessary for me to consider the fact that I have never established a career, and sooner than later I might need to figure out which path to follow.  
 
But what is my exception or qualification of my reservations?  This is the triple crown, and if/when I complete it, I plan on never walking anywhere ever again.  Am I making an exception to hike it this year and put my life on hold a little longer so that I never have to again?  My life is almost deja vu from two years ago.  Am I willing to put it on hold for another year to complete this?  Can I move on after I finish this trail?  Will I find something new to entertain myself?
 
Some folks live, breathe, and die for thru-hiking.  They plan for years.  Have a huge network of people following them.  Host pre and post-trail events to educate and promote their experience.  All my life I have envied those with passions, not any passion in particular, but just the idea that they are an arrow pointed in a specific direction with a defined target.  Hiking is their passion in life.  I am not that person.  Of course there are elements of hiking I like, such as the OUTSTANDING community, the physical challenge, the alone time and break from society.   But I've never wanted thru-hiking to define me.  And yet, here it is, defining nearly the last 4 years of my life.  I guess it is no surprise that I feel a little suffocated and yearn for something new.
 
In the last month or so, I have accepted I am hiking the CDT.  I have purchased the maps, started the planning and have begun buying bulk food to create my meals.  I'm evaluating my finances, and talking to other eager hikers.  But I'm not sure that my heart is really in it.  My inner reservations having me feeling like I am traveling in circles instead of the winding path I felt I was on for so long.  Another summer of walking.  And I will likely need to return to Park City for the winter to re-establish financial security.  Winter #4.  I miss beaches and traveling to foreign countries.  As much as I love Park City and could see myself living here permanently, I still feel the pull to experience new places. 
 
So many reservations.  So for the time being, I will keep planning and packing.  My inner reservations will ebb and flow, along with my level of excitement for the CDT.  And in the meantime, I guess I should start booking my reservations for flights and Amtrak...
 
 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

lets go....grocery shopping?

This post probably won't be very exciting to most, but I will try to liven it up a bit with my normal ranting and raving.  The fantastic topic? Food Planning!!!

Yes, you are correct.  Watching paint dry IS more enjoyable.  But this stupid trail has far less access to grand grocery stores and as much as I hate planning, food drops are almost essential.  "But wait, haven't people hiked without drops before?"  Probably! However this winter I have jumped on the Gluten-Free bandwagon, and as difficult as it will be to stay GF while hiking, I think that the benefits of doing it far outweigh the hassle. 

So Gluten.  For those of you not cool enough to be in the fad diet loop, gluten is the protein found in wheat that can have a less than desirable impact on the small intestine.  Some people have celiac disease which makes them hyper-sensitive to the protein, or other people just have a sensitivity to gluten and suffer from minor ailments and discomfort.  I think I might fall into the latter.  After countless nights of feeling bloated, sick, and like a volcano waiting to explode, I decided, "Well shoot, I might as well try."  As a stroke of luck, the family I nanny for also tries to avoid wheat and gluten, so I have learned from them some of the best brands and tricks, so the transition was seamless.  In a short chunk of time, I stopped having that general feeling of gut bomb, and was sold on the idea. 

These days, so many gluten-free alternatives are produced that even Wally World stocks numerous brands, and almost everything has a GF doppelganger.  Bread? check! Cookies? check! Beer? check! Cous cous? check!  Which brings me full circle.  Planning these food drops will be much more challenging without gluten.  My hiking staples of mac and cheese and cous cous are not exactly gluten-free.  Atleast in their natural state.  So enter the food lab.  In the last few weeks I have been studying the shelves like a professor and trying to figure out what options I have.  Tonight I even found a rice based cous cous!  It's yet to be seen if it works as quick and tasty as the real deal, but if it does, it'll be a life saver!  Additionally, I think I am going to try and get all mad scientist-y with a food dehydrator and see if I can cook quinoa then dehydrate it, or other rice products.  I also need to bulk buy veggies and meats and see if I can concoct new and exciting meals out of them. And I need to get on this thing called the Interweb and start contacting companies about GF foods and if they can ship in bulk direct to me.  I've already started "borrowing" condiment packets from the ski resort...individual cholula packets?! Brilliant!

Okay I have officially bored myself writing about this and I'm distracted by "Snooki and Jwoww."  Blog done!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

flashbacks

The background of my computer has a little widget that shows:

                 1
Park City, UT

Well folks. This isn't describing PC as the best place to live, or the number 1 ranked ski destination.  No my friend, that is the current temperature just beyond my windows.  A single degree of Fahrenheit.  I am curled up in bed, in my sweats, with a space heater set to "high" aimed my direction, and I'm still cold.  If it wasn't for the creamy, fluffy, dry, world-famous snow that falls here, I'd go crazy.  I used to spend a significant part of my winters scantily clad in warm, sunny locations.  South Africa, South America, Costa Rica.  How on earth did I end up here?!

Utah is probably the worst place in the world to live.  Lots of crime, too many people, boring views, and possibly some of the ugliest and most miserable landscape I have ever seen in my entire life.  You should never come here.  Don't waste your time.

Not convincing you?  Yea, I didn't think it would work. 

Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall.  There has not been a day I haven't enjoyed in Utah.  300+ days of sunshine, and for the 5 months of winter, most fingers are crossed tight for storm clouds and fresh snow.  I live above 6,000ft, and have access to some of the best natural playgrounds a dirtbag could hope for.  I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time exploring the west coast this summer, but every time I came back through Utah, my sense of wonder and awe grew, and I felt so lucky to call this place home.  How much longer will I call Utah home?  I don't know, so I might as well enjoy it while I do!!

Alright back on task.  It's cold.  Really cold.  Face mask securely attached by frozen snot, 20 minutes of warming my car to drive 5 minutes to work, wearing snow pants "just because", cold.  It seems like good time to reflect back on those lovely 100 degree days hiking in Arizona...

It's hard to believe how much has passed since those days.  Almost 9 months ago the 11/12 ski season ended, I hopped on a plane for Tucson AZ, met my dad and started hiking the Arizona Trail.  Since then I have:

Hiked 170 Arizona Trail miles,
Visited San Diego for ADZPCTKO and other wanderings in So.Cal,
Returned to the AZT for another 100 miles,
Escaped to So.Cal to live at Casa de Luna and help (drink beer?) at the Anderson's,
Returned to Park City for 2 weeks to nanny.
Visited Lake Tahoe,
Crater Lake NP, 
Bend OR for a Wilderness First Responder Course,
Portland OR for Adventure Treks Training,
Nor.Cal for Adventure Treks.
Summited Mt Shasta with AT,
Left AT because it sucked to work for them,
Returned to Portland!
Passed through Olympic NP.
Seafair in Seattle,
Summited Mt Adams,
Nannied in Hood River OR,
City of Rocks, ID.
Attended a Redcliff Wedding,
hiked the Narrows in Zion NP,
hiked the Under the Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon NP,
wandered numerous Slot Canyons in Escalante,
Kayaked Lake Powell,
hiked in Canyonlands NP
Mountain Biked in Moab.
Flew to Minneapolis MN,
Explored the Boundary Waters MN,
flew back to CT to see family and friends,
and finally....

home to Park City. 

For almost 7 months I lived out of a backpack, tent, storage unit, and car.  I went days and days without a shower.  I had a small box of clothes in my car that I washed once a month or so.  I was hot and sticky, and my skin was slimy with days of sweat and dust.  I woke up in the night with my sweat drenched sleeping bag plastered to my skin.  I fantasized about water, ice cream, rain.  I wrapped my sleeping bag around the cooler in the backseat to insulate the ice so that my food didn't instantly spoil in the solar oven I called my car.  At times, my body forgot what it was like to be cold. 

Well, it remembers.

Consider it training for the CDT....

Thursday, January 3, 2013

CDT?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about thru hiking the CDT. Mostly so that I never have to walk anywhere ever again in my life. Earning the triple crown of hiking sounds pretty fantastic. Every decision I've made in the last few months, while not directly focused on the CDT has otherwise left the option completely open. The lease on my apartment will be up, my job as a ski instructor will be wrapping up, and my hectic winter weeks will have rendered me surly and burnt out, and much in need of a vacation. I've bought the map books, contemplated gear, and started to think about "how I'll do things differently this time."

Other than hating to walk, all the planning really bums me out. When I decided to thru hike the AT, I gave myself about 3 weeks to plan and organize; the PCT I was a bit more generous and decided a full month before I started walking. According to popular opinion, the CDT is not as forgiving in regards to much of anything, especially planning. Though the trail motto is along the lines of "Embrace the Wildflowers" or something equally docile if I remember correctly...

There's maps to pour over. Alternate routes to learn and choose. A GPS to load (and figure out how to use) Maildrops to consider. This alone presents a multi-level challenge as I need to determine necessary locations, gear swaps, and whether or not I think I can maintain a gluten-free diet while hiking in some sparse lands. (more on the gluten-free issue later) And as the butter on my rice-flour bread: who the hell can I ask to assume responsibility for shipping those packages when I need them?! Papa is the obvious and preferred postmaster, but I'd have to assemble the boxes in Utah, ship them to CT and have him ship them back to the trail. Not impossible, but rather inefficient, and I'd have to send him endless spare gear in case I want/need to switch up my system.

Oh and finances. Hiking ain't cheap. Well actually it sort of is. But there's a point in everyone's life where having no savings and working half the year gets old. Or so I imagine! But sadly my trusty travel partner, Patricia, the Nissan Altima, is beginning to slip from her golden years into the bright white light. I'm stoked that I got a fantastic summer of adventure with her, sleeping half in the trunk, half in the backseat, possibly on a street near you(!), but the time is rapidly approaching where I need to give her an apple then take her out back and shoot her. She is a dear car, and has been a great companion, never complaining about dozens of rough off-road miles, bald tires, getting stuck in countless pickles, and otherwise being a total badass, two-wheel drive beast. And great mileage to boot! It'll be sad to watch her go, but hopefully I'll replace her with the mandatory and cliched Subaru. Sadly I'll enter the world of car payments and grownup responsibility, but ideally I'll find a car for a good price and still be able to save for my adventure fund...

There's still a few months for life to change, and maybe something exciting will sneak up on me, but if not, there always the CDT!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Damn you Liz.

Well, for a start, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I'm going to make a resolution of keeping this blog a little more up to date for 2013, for nothing more than to have a journal of adventure and mayhem in my life.  If you harass me about it, cough Liz cough, I will kick you in the shins. 

So essentially I am in the exact same place I was this time last year.  Not that it is a bad thing necessarily, but it's just peculiar to reflect back on the year and feel like not much has changed.  It seems like this is the first time in a while I haven't had a significant event occur, and I'm not sure how to feel about it.

I'll follow up with more adventures from my summer, but for the most part, I traveled and wandered about the west coast for a few months, lived in my car and went where I wanted to go.  It was a lonely and freeing adventure, and I loved being able to do whatever I wanted, from hiking Mt Adams, to exploring slot canyons in Southern Utah.  It wasn't always rainbows and butterflies, but it was a great way to take a long vacation and check out for a while.

I'm back in Park City now, still working as a nanny for the family of goofballs.  If I had to choose one defining factor of 2012 it would have to be all the time I've spent with the kids.  I've been with this family for over a year now, and feel like they are my home away from home.  The kids are all getting older, and with that comes more opportunities to take them climbing mountains, biking around town, and skiing the local hills.  They feel like my little brother and sisters, and I certainly treat them as such.  I feel very lucky to have a job that I enjoy and feel really comfortable being a part of the family. 

There will be more to come in the following days and weeks, but it's a start!!