Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kickoff

Kickoff weekend is always a mess, and this one was no exception! I had a fantastic time, mostly hanging out with 2012 hikers, due to a sad showing of 2011 hikers. But I got to see Eggman, push, honey buzz, euro trash, and topsy turvy, data muffin, and their little baby! It was a fun weekend, relaxing and sharing stories, and shaking some nerves before the CDT.

The last night, a ridiculously freak accident happened where a huge oak tree crashed down in the camp and nearly crushed 5 tents. Thankfully I was still up sitting around the campfire, and was able to jump up and climb through the tree checking to make sure everyone was okay. Without going into too much detail, if the tree had fallen a few feet in any other direction, people could have been in very serious trouble. But we were very lucky and other than some torn tents, a broken pole and some very shaken people, we dodged a really serious accident. My tent was only 3 feet from where the tree crashed down.

I'm currently in the Amtrak station with the three guys I'm starting with, trip, aquaman, and sweet-as. We will be headed of in the next 15 minutes towards new Mexico, and be on trail tomorrow. Eek!

Friday, April 26, 2013

And it begins!

I had a hectic few days leading up to my flight, always too much to do, and never enough time. Currently I am sleep deprived, and the wheels are still spinning trying to recall anything left behind. So far I've remembered that I forgot gloves. That's it. And socks will work, so I think I'm actually doing alright!

And I'm back in San Diego for another ADZPCTKO, eager to see familiar faces and try and shake some stress before swinging east to New Mexico. It's happening whether or not I feel ready, so there's no reason to fight it! I am nervous about the hike, about expectations, about trying to haul ass and catch up to Liz and Co that started a full week ahead of me. 100 miles is a very large gap to cover and I'm nervous about trying. I'm worried my body won't take nicely to the strain, fresh on the trail and I hope that my mcl tear, and consequential lack of working out doesn't hold me back, or write, send me home. Thankfully I had a full team of people trying to rehab me, from a physical therapist, doc, understanding supervisor, slackbow personal trainer (thanks Jim...people in PC check it out, it really helped me when I was restricted from doing much else! http://www.slackbow.com/ ) and all my friends that politely, and sometimes forcibly, kept me from doing "not doctor approved" activities, such as soccer and snowboarding...

But now that the trail is here, I feel strong, though I can't stop thinking about my knees! Once I get walking I hope that the stress melts from my shoulders, the backpack will be plenty of weight.

Well folks, keep checking back, I'll try and be as consistent as I can with updates. I know some of you out there are eager to experience my suffering as it's happening...like my dad's buddy Roy from college!  If nothing else Liz has been hanging out on Facebook the last few days "hiking" so I should be able to keep you informed!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

FOOD!

Without a doubt, the most stressful, time consuming, and expensive part of my hike is the food planning.  Unlike the trails of my past, for this doozy, I am relying almost solely on mail drops for my food.  Before you start thinking bush plans, mail drops simply mean I am pre-packaging my food before the trail, and shipping it to post offices and businesses along the way that will hold my packages until I arrive.  In the past, I mostly relied on local stores to resupply the hiking food that I needed when I arrived in town.  Both methods have pros and cons.

Mail Drops -
Pros: Buying food in bulk reduces cost, healthier fare, reliability of having trail-friendly food, less time wasted in town, easier to maintain gluten-free diet
Cons: Limited PO hours, shipping costs, potential of hating everything I've pre-packed, packages lost in the mail, reliance on someone to ship packages

Resupply as you go -
Pros: eating whatever you crave, support local economies, flexibility of hours/days, significantly less planning
Cons: less healthy (gas station resupply), time, being at the mercy of small stores that have been previously picked over by hikers ahead of you, walking into a supermarket with hiker hunger and a credit card...

So for this trail, I am planning on shipping myself 23 boxes of food.  I can certainly supplement along the way with local stores, and certainly will, but I am going to try and stick to my pre-packed food to end up with healthier and cheaper items. Much of my food was bought with pro-deals and on sale at bulk prices, so I should eat really well for under a dollar a mile.  (Still expensive, but I am eating pretty damn good)

So for my daily intake:

Breakfast-
1 Starbucks Via
Either Granola with powdered milk and freeze dried berries and nuts or Puffed Quinoa with freeze dried berries, Flax Seed and Nido (powdered whole milk) or Muesli and powdered milk

1st Morning Snack-
GU packet

2nd Morning Snack-
Bar (Clif bars, Larabars, Clif Builder Bars, Luna Bars, Probars, Mixed Nut and Seed Bars)

Lunch- (same every day, just whatever I feel like eating)
Dehydrated Refried Beans
Cheese
Chips (tortilla, potato, corn and flax, rice crackers)
Veggie Chips
Peanut Butter
Tuna
Lemonade

Afternoon Snack-
Bar

Dinner-
Idahoan Potatoes
Rice noodle soup
Broccoli cheddar bacon potatoes
Potatoes fiesta (with fake taco meat, cheese powder, freeze dried peppers, corn, carrots)
Polenta Fiesta
Polenta and Veggies
Cheesy Bacon Polenta
Cheddar Bacon Grits
Rice Cous Cous and pesto sauce
Quinoa Primavera with powdered butter

Bedtime Snack-
Protein Powder and Chia Seeds
Fruit Snacks

Depending on quantities consumed and combinations, I will have between 2500 and 3500 calories a day, though that number will rise as I get further down the trail and need to add more bars, nuts, and cheese to my diet.  And cookies.  Lots of gluten-free cookies.  I expect care packages from all of you with gluten-free goodies inside!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Gear List

What I'm Bringing...

ULA Ohm 2.0
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 rain fly, poles, and footprint
Marmot Helium 15 degree sleeping bag
eVent Stuff sack
Prolite 3 shorty air mattress
REI trekking poles
GoLite Mylar Umbrella
White Box alcohol Stove w/ windscreen
mini Bic lighter
REI TiWare 1 liter pot
Sawyer water filter
Bleach
Bandana
SPOT Personal Locator Beacon
Kodak Sport Waterproof Camera
4 Platypus Soft Water bottles
2 Smartwater Bottles
Petzl Headlamp
Sea to Summit Titanium Spoon
Compass
GPS
Spare Batteries
Med Kit (benadryl, imodium, pain killers, contacts, contacts fluid, glasses, tweezers, nail clippers, spare lighter, pepto bismol)
hand sanitizer
Phone and charger
MP3 Player
maps
stuff sack for food

Clothes:
cotton short sleeve tshirt
thrift store blend button up long sleeve shirt
nike running shorts
Brooks socks
Brooks Cascadias
Dirty Girl gaiters
Sun glasses
Orange baseball hat
watch
Patagonia underwear
Patagonia down ultralight hoody
Blaze Orange thermal
Buff
Capri Spandex
knit headband
GoLite rainpants
OR rain jacket
wool sleep socks
crocs very sexy flip flops

I thinks that's the whole list. Maybe a few extra items here and there, and in the snow I will be carrying an ice axe and kahtoola microspikes.  I have some flexibility to swap out gear along the way, and probably will be, but that's the jist of it all!

Friday, April 19, 2013

...And I'm Back!

So most of you end up on this site to read about all my hiking plans, so I guess I should spend some time talking about them.  No more feelings for a while!

In exactly one week I will be enroute to San Diego for a weekend of fun and frolicking before disappearing into the deserts of New Mexico. So of course, I have oodles to do!  Thankfully I had enough foresight to start working on food prep months ago, so at this point I am just doing my final tallies and making sure that I have all the food I need.  140 days worth of food.  Regardless of what I plan to eat, I will end up hating it after that much time, but I am trying to add variety and color to my diet so I'm not stuck with just oats and rice.  More to come about my diet another time.

I'm also doing my last minute gear swaps and repairs (my tent took a beating on Mt. Shasta this summer...)  I've decided to follow Liz's lead and try out the Croc flip flops for camp shoes after her glowing review, so the wacky ZEM shoes I picked up might not make an appearance.  It's also been a struggle to decide what system of clothing to bring.  I miss the days on the AT when I was naive and dumb and just carried what I owned.  Unfortunately, now almost everything I own has an outdoor use, and if I carried it all, I'd need a team of Sherpas.  Currently I'm thinking of doing a Gore-tex Raingear shell, Patagonia down Ultralight hoody, a lightweight long-sleeve thrift store button up for sun protection, and cotton t-shirt for the desert, with lightweight running shorts, spandex capris and GoLite rain paints.  Among the second string clothes that are still being considered are: the Marmot windshirt beloved by many hikers, a short-sleeve hooded technical shirt, my much loved blaze orange thermal, and my synthetic fake-down jacket.  Thankfully, I've learned to leave someone with a storage key, so if I do need any gear swaps it can happen a little easier than in the past. I'll also do another post soon about all the gear I'm carrying, since people are always interested in what's in my 60lb pack.  Oh wait, that's that girl from "Wild," my pack is much lighter...

So for now, life is back under control! I knew everything was better when Zz and I proceeded to have a dance party in the middle of the Jordanelle marina parking lot in the Expedition to Macklemore...and the state parks trooper came up to investigate...


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My Best Friend

For the last few days, I have been a complete cranky pants. And to make it worse, I couldn't diagnose the issue. I have been mopey and moody; lacking my normal luster for life. I tried to consult a few close friends, and spill how I felt, hoping that as amateur shrinks they could help me get on with life. But nothing was working. I was depressed and overwhelmed, and not happy. I needed something.

I found the answer in the arms of my 6 year old best friend. 

In the past few days, I have let my sour attitude define my days. I have been robbed of enjoying bike rides, cuddle time, and conversation. My brain has been working overtime, but barely functioning. I have felt like a zombie going through the motions, and have hated every minute of it. Earlier tonight, as I headed out the door after a typical day of nannying, I felt like I was just the shell of a person. I figured I would waste an hour at the gym before finding a place to crash for the night, then repeat again tomorrow. And as much as I tried, I couldn't help feeling as though I was wasting away. Not even pathetic and hollow Facebook statuses could drag me off the ground. As I climbed into my car feeling miserable about how miserable I was, I saw his face. Zz, only 6 years old, had escaped from his bed and snuck out the door behind me. Peering out from behind the corner of the garage, barefoot in pajamas, was this little rascal. Being past his bedtime, and very cold outside, I opened the car door and yelled for him to get back inside and go back to his bed. He quickly scampered out of sight.

Then it happened.

Maybe I hesitated before shutting the car door. Maybe a part of me just knew. But before he made it to the door I could hear his cries. Of the dozens of times he has snuck out to say goodbye, this one was different. Leaving my keys in the ignition, I jumped up and followed him the door, and found him standing in the doorway, heartbroken. Here is the 6 year old tough guy, my best adventure buddy, with the most genuine tears I've seen in a long time. It was a rough bedtime, one in which cuddles were lost due to a small spitting incident, but kisses and "love you's" were doled freely, yet here was the face of a 6 year old missing his mom who is off traveling. I'm a distant second as the nanny, but I scooped up my little nugget and as he tucked into my neck he told me between sobs that he didn't want me to leave. So I carried my buddy up to his bed, tucked him in, and climbed right in next to him. 

As I lay there, rubbing his back and thinking about how self-centered and pathetic I  felt just moments before, it all clicked. I was letting my fear and tendency to over think dominate my last days. With ski season officially over, I was just days away from taking off for hiking. And I don't feel ready. Emotionally or physically. There are so many things still on my "To Do" list, and yet nothing will slow down until I am sitting on that plane. But I need to just get on with it, accept it for what it's worth, and keep moving forward. Standing here frozen and overwhelmed won't fix anything. And when Zz hugged me, I needed the hug just as much as he did. I also needed to feel safe and okay in the world; I needed to feel connected again, to feel love. 

So no more crankenstein. I vow to enjoy my last few days before the trail. I'm excited to get out there, but I'm also excited for tomorrow, and the next day. I'm going to pull myself out of this funk and get on with living. And of course, get on with playing!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Where have I been!?

Yowzers. 

I am so ready to be on trail.  As much as I am trying to slow down, everything is spinning way too fast and I can't keep up with it.  In the last month, I have torn my medial collateral ligament (MCL), moved out of my condo, attempted to tie up all the loose ends of my hike, and continued to work non-stop.  And of course, toss in some personal drama, and I have been way too stressed lately. 

Friends of mine are already on the trail, and I envy them.  Not because I am ready to hike, but I am ready to be done with all the planning and stress.  I fully admit that I am the worst person at handling stress, and while it's not often, those closest to me suffer endlessly until I can relax.  The gym used to be the best stress release I had, but now with a torn ligament, I was put on limited activity until it heals so that I can go through with my hike.

For those of you that don't know, thankfully the MCL is a minor ligament, and I had a partial tear.  It can heal itself if managed correctly, but it is still frustrating to deal with.  I was out snowboarding and hit a jump and as I took off, I put too much pressure on the inside of my back leg and there was a distinct, and gut wrenching, "pop."  I was nearly in tears before making it down the rest of the hill.  I knew immediately that I tore a ligament due to years of friends tearing them skiing, playing soccer, and rugby.  In a nanosecond I thought, "There goes my hike, my bank account, and my ski season."  I was able to get ice on it quickly, and went straight to the emergency care, where my suspicions were confirmed, though thankfully the damage was just done only to my MCL, not the ACL, a much more serious tear.  And in a second stroke of fate, I was dog sitting for a woman that is a Physical Therapist, and in exchange for dog sitting, she offered to help rehab my knee, knowing I was on a very tight deadline before my hike.  With her help, it seems that I will be almost 100% before the hike, and hopefully won't have any more issues. 

But trust me, the added stress was completely unnecessary. 

The list of things to do keeps getting longer as the days keep getting shorter.  I still need to figure out how to load my GPS, sort out all my mail drops, ship out New Mexico, make the Colorado boxes and leave them ready in Park City, then ship the remainder to my dad in Connecticut to ship back to me on trail when the time comes.  I still have printing to finish and lots of organizing to complete.  I have to figure out what to do with my car, and make sure all my loose ends are tied before taking off.  And for the next two weeks, the two youngest kids I nanny are home, while Mom took the two oldest to India (lucky!!!) so there's lots of activities to keep up with. 

I love my life, but I am going to sleep like a champion for my first week on trail!