Beck vs Day 2

 

I wake at 545am to the sounds of hikers shaking out tents, a crow cawing to his mates and a turkey gobbling his way through the campground… naturally..doesn’t every campground have a turkey?

Around 6am I start faffing about with all my gear and get it packed away. You’d think that with just one 65L bag to fill up it wouldn’t take too long. It takes sooooo long.  Inevitably the few things I pack away I need, so I unpack, and then lose things and forget things and pack more things away.

Finally I am on my way at 745am. 1h45!! Insane. I slurp down a pouch of squeezy fruit as I walk. The path takes me through some meadows before veering off to a track that eventually leads up a rocky path.  About 1h30 in there is a nice rocky seat which I take to eat my museli.  Turns out eating big portions of food and immediately hiking are not advisable for me. I’ve packed way too much food anyway,  and haven’t been overly hungry. They say “hiker hunger” kicks in around week 2, once you’ve burned off a bunch of fat and your body starts suspecting that this is more than your average weekend walk. Hiker hunger is when you want to eat ALL THE TIME.  It makes me think of that scene from back to the future 3 where they are shoving wood and explosives into the train to make it go faster and faster- it’s never enough!

There’s a bridge I have to walk under and see it has been ‘decorated’ with the names of hikers past. It’s cool reading all the names- some with trail names already.
In the distance I hear a strange animal sounds which at first I mistake for horses,  then think it’s dogs and finally turn a corner to see a coyote! He eyes me for a second before trotting off making more noise.  A few minutes later I see the friend he was talking to – one a pale brown and the other a lovely dark brown colour. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be scared of them,  so I just pretend they are dogs and keep walking.

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I take a break at a little campground that has horse yards in it before marching on. The trail starts climbing up and up giving a great view of the valley below.

The wind kicks in.  And then kicks in some more. I have to take a rotten sidetrail tp a campground to get water, and it turns out the .6 mile trail is doooown down down all the elevation I just gained. Bugger.
It is freezing when I get to the campground below and the wind is relentless so I pitch my tent to have a break and a nap to see if it dies down.
It does not. I pack up my stuff and poke my head out of my tent to see rain. I was all ready to hit another 2 or 3 miles, but decide setting up on the ridge in the wind and rain doesn’t sound very appealing.
So I bunker down really really really early. Fabulously early. For a much needed early night and loong sleep.

 

Random song stuck in my head of the day: Wouldn’t it be nice – Beach Boys

Beck vs Hauser Creek Canyon

Day: 1
Miles: 20 – Campo to Lake Morena

I wake up after a fitful 4 hours sleeping in trail angel Bob’s trailer.  I arrived really late after all my fellow hikers were already asleep so I just lay down in exactly what I was wearing and pulled a blanket over me.

430am was the wakeup call,  5 am 8 of us  piled into the 7 seater van (plus packs). My seat is the little space on the ground next to the sliding door. Names are exchanged but it is dark and I have buckleys chance of remembering any.

1 hour and a very numb bum later we arrive at the border.  THE BORDER.  A massive f-off we’re full metal fence that covers more than half the US border and is 0% effective (well maybe a bit better than that.  I actually have no  expertise in this,  but this is what my fellow hikers tell me).  I think it should be a new tough mudder obstacle – jump over this metal fence while we shoot at you.

We take photos,  peer through the fence at Mexico, turn to face north then walk.
It is chilly and foggy. Good hiking weather.

The trail divides us pretty quickly and soon I am alone with the sound of my thoughts and my feet crunching. And my heavy heavy pack.  The advice for today is 4-5L if you are a strong hiker and know you will make it to lake Morena,  or 6-7L if you plan to dry camp (camp where there is no water source) at Hauser Creek. I decide on 6L.

The sun burns through the fog and I get to test out my nifty little sun umbrella. I stop under a tree for a tasty lunch of banana with almond maple butter and put my feet up for 20min. I meet a couple of hikers as they pass me by, doze for about 2 min before ants crawl over my face and pack up.

Finally the trail turns a corner and before me is Hauser Canyon. It’s a giant drop down followed by a giant heart attack climb up. I can make out the tiny specks odd hikers marching up to the top across the canyon. Holy giant canyon batman.
The choices now are hike down the bottom and camp down there at the little campground or continue up the giant hill. I get to the bottom and try to rest my feet for 10 min before deciding.  I’m conscious about not overdoing it on my first day and my plantar fasciitis which I am determined to keep at bay.
The decision is made by the little army of midgies that assault me – up I go!!!
I eat a gel, turn on my podcasts and climb the giant hill that never ends.

Until it does.  However the next 3 miles until Lake Morena never ever end . I stop a stupid amount of times. I give myself markers where I’m allowed to check my watch and my phone.
Eventually I’m feeling good and hit my stride. I dare to check my phone to see how speedy I’ve been.
Apparently about as speedy as a new born walking.  Bugger bugger bugger. I pass a lot of little lizards and some cat tracks!!! I think it’s maybe too small for a mountain lion but it may be a bobcat.

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Finally I see a Lake! And buildings!  I hike down down down and arrive to the applause of some from the carload this morning.  Pitch my tent, check in with the ranger, buy some nutritious fries from the cafe, have a glorious hot shower (it got cooold!), pull on my long johns, cozy down into my sleeping quilt and paaaaassss out.
20 miles done – I pat myself in the back. Only 2640 to go.
Zzzz.

Thought of the day: What goes up, must go down. And then up. And then down.

Beck vs The Resupply

I land in LA, exhausted from only 3 hours sleep over my 22h of traveling but determined to smash out my resupply like a boss.
Resupply is preparing food and other sundries to send to myself at specific points along the trail. I’m determined not to have the crappy hiker diet that focuses purely on calories in and not nutrition, plus I don’t eat the animals so I need to make myself yummy boxes to send ahead. I will pick these up at various locations- post offices, hiker “trail angel” houses, hotels and even “gas stations”. I’m only sending boxes to specific towns that have no decent shops to buy from, that way my schedule is a little more flexible (I won’t ‘have’ to stop in towns, or worse wait a day or so until the post office reopens if I get there on a weekend), plus I anticipate getting thoroughly sick of whatever food I post myself so buying in towns will mix it up.

After sorting my rental car out I start out with a bang- I find an amazing co-op with lots of vegan options, including bulk dehydrated soups, beans, hummus. I go overboard buying way too much museli – there were 15 different options! Mmm

Next stop is REI where I need to pick up a new sleeping pad and poles, plus a few other bits and pieces such as fuel for my stove, bug head net (mine had a fight with some velcro and came off second best), a new spork and mug (mine disappeared in my house move!) And a new pair of socks to post up ahead on the trail.

I head on over to the apartment of a lovely friend from college Heather and her husband Mark. They have very generously opened their home to me as mission control for sorting out all the boxes.
After some catching up we brave costco! Here I buy a bazillion ziplock bags, nuts, dried fruit, entirely too many Ibuprofen, electrolyte drink powder…and a few othr bits and bobs. A quick zoom past the post office and I collect a pile of empty boxes.

Day 1 of resupply is finished with a visit to a fantastic vegan restaurant Cafe Gratitude.  I have their cookbook which is filled with delicious sweets. No trip to LA is complete without a celebrity spotting, and the lovely Rachael Taylor is exiting the cafe as we enter. As one of the hallmarks of the cafe, after taking our orders the waitress gives us a question to chew over – what are you committed to? Well, I’m committed to a little 50cm wide and 4260km long piece of dirt for the next little while at least.

Day 2 and  I get a US sim sorted, head to the delicious Trader Joes (flattened bananas! Freeze dried strawberries!)  and Whole Foods (kale chips! Mashed potato!), get a new lens (18-55mm – yes I have swapped my amazingly awesome primes for a zoom. 🙁 unfortunately weight dictates that zoom makes the most sense) and a couple more memory cards, and general fluff…
Again I attack the food, try and divvy up portions and get a handle on the food situation. It appears there is no handle. So many bits and pieces and a few more bits. I’m in and out of the car heading back to the same shops picking up things I forgot. After my kick-bum start, I have entered some kind of resupply / jetlag vortex. I’m constantly buying, shopping, packing yet nothing seems to progress!

Day 3:  Fedex has lost a package that was supposed to be delivered from LA…to LA. It contained my maps, my tyvek sheet and stuff sack for my clothes. I’m holding out because I really want to portion out the maps into my boxes. 4 phone calls later they are no closer to finding (or even looking for??) my package. I hold out for one more night in case it arrives.
Still boxing. Packing. Dividing.
A visit to the restaurant Sage finishes the day beautifully. I think I’ll be dreaming about the superfood icecream for a while!
I go to bed thinking I have around 2 hours more of packing and then I’ll head off!

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Day 4:  8 hours later (just *slightly* more than 2…) and finally the resupply is conquered. I somehow miss a box I was supposed to pack, have way too much breakfast food left over (and not enough dinner) and end up not really knowing what to expect in each box!
The remaining snack food, wipes and vitamins are boxed up to be sent to Ashland in Oregon later on where I will sort out resupply for Oregon and Washington.

The boxes are all posted complete with little kangaroo road signs on the sides (for easy recognition amongst the hiler boxes), much to the confusion of the post workers. They have no idea what general delivery is, can’t understand what I’m doing, but wish me luck on my way out.

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Massive massive gratitude to Heather and Mark and Watson (dog) and Romeo (cat) for letting me take over! I don’t think they quite knew what they were in for but were so helpful and gracious with all my crap collecting. My first trail angels!! 🙂

I’m now on the train heading to San Diego where angel #2 Bob will be picking me up, hosting me for the night and driving me to the trail head in the morning. In the morning!!! Less than 10h from now.
Holy giant trail batman.
All of a sudden it is almost seeming real. No doubt with 6L of water on my back plus all my gear it will feel too real.

But I’m committed. What are you committed to? 🙂

Crickets In My Head: When Brain Stops and Holiday Begins

To get an idea what the last two weeks have been like, stick your head out the car side window like your dog, drive at 200km/h, through a swarm of bees, blindfolded.
So. Much. To. Do.

I’m not sure if I got it all done, but I gave it my best and I have great people on the ground to help clean up whatever I have left behind! (I already know I’ve left my bloody eftpos card behind!! 😣).

When my lovely friend Kaarin arrived with an hour to spare before taking me to the airport, I still wasn’t  packed. You know when you are so stressed you can’t actually form a sentence either in your head or out loud? When the hamsters on their little wheels inside your head have spun so fast they fell off and are lying dizzy flat on the ground with their little wheels left hamsterless making creepy rusted squeaky noises like in horror movies? Yeah. Something like that. Kaarin missed her calling as a drill sergeant and took on the role of being my brain for the next hour and suddenly-  it was done.

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Stuff and things
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Mission control 1h before leaving

50000000 cuddles with my doggies later we left. I’m going to miss those little bundles of awesome so much!!! Especially when it’s cold – they are awesome hot water puppies.

Managed to get us all in the lounge at the airport and had a last celebratory glass of wine before jumping on the plane.

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We so pretty

This whole crazy idea of a trip has not felt real at all. It’s only ever existed as theory in my head, and I’ve been so busy I was convinced that once I stepped in the plane it would all make magical sense. Nup.  My new theory is that once I start walking it will feel more real. Only a few more days and I’ll see!

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Walk on The Wild Side

I have my permit!!!
A little electronic collection of pixels that somehow give me magical powers to walk a superhero distance carrying superhero weight on my back.
This almost-a-piece-of-paper that is my little key to adventure and pain and excitement and a whole new world of experiences I haven’t yet imagined.

This is kind of the middle of the story, but is also the start. There should be all the decisions and the whys and the how did I come to be here with this almost-paper, but none of those things meant anything until the permit arrived. Now there is a story, because with the paper I can get my VISA, book my flight and make my way over to the US to walk along a beautifully brutal footpath in the wilderness called the PCT.

So we may get to some whys and hows later, but for now the story is I AM GOING!  I have a bag full of obsessively researched things, a head full of mysterious words like ‘Campo’, ‘Sierra’, ‘Tehachapi’, ‘Stehekin’, ‘Nero’, ‘Zero’ that all have book meaning to me, but not yet the experience. I have things to pack, things to buy, maps to study (studying on how to study a map), so many many lists.

So much excitement, and stress. And possibility. Here is one little “WHY?” (there are so many) – because I can :).