Tuesday, February 25, 2020

I DID IT!! AND I WROTE A BOOK ABOUT IT!

It's been over a year since I've gotten back from the East Coast, but I didn't want to post on here until I finished my book. I hope you'll buy it, so you can hear all about my adventure. I think you'll find it entertaining. Plus, I have created a new website to document all the rest of my hikes. So if you want to keep track of me, or find the link to my book, you'll need to go to slowesthiker.com

You can also go straight to Amazon, and search "50 Days, 500 Miles, and 5 States When I Turned 50" and find my book that way. There is a paperback or kindle version available. So with a final farewell to this blog, I will bid you adieu with a photo dump from my 50 days. Happy trails everyone!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Last Lesson at Stuart Lake

I'm going to die. That is hiking lesson #56. It's true that I didn't want to mess up my perfectly serendipitous number of 55 hiking lessons learned these past 8 years, but I just had to go and do one more "trial run" before I leave in less than a week...and well, it just about killed me. And if a fairly moderate hike of 9 miles in 2 days (that would be only 4.5 miles a day) almost killed me, then I'll surely be a goner by day 3 of my "10 miles a day" excursion.
I'm blaming Leigh for this horrible insight. Of course she would win the lottery to camp at the ONE Enchantment lake I haven't seen yet. (Well, except for the Caroline Lakes, but do they really count?) She had such grand plans of staying all four nights at Lake Stewart, and using it as a base camp to explore the whole area...an agenda far too ambitious for me. BUT, I could take my own car and stay just one night! I mean, I really should make sure everything I plan on bringing to the East Coast makes sense and is in good working order. Plus, how could I say no to Lake Stewart?
You have to apply for and be lucky enough
to "win" a permit to camp anywhere in this specific
area in the Alpine Wilderness 

The crew before heading out to attempt their 20 mile goal
into the Enchantment core and back. I can't wait to hear how it went!
Leigh warned us all (five "suckers" she roped in) that the mosquitoes might be bad. I expected that...you can't go anywhere at the end of July and not encounter a fair amount of the little beasts. Though, what I did not expect was to get punctured 43 times...not including the bites that I believe are on top of bites. It was a full-out assault!!! It was like they were out for blood!! (Ba dum chhhh ;))
What could be more fun than hiking with a
head net? Root canal maybe?
And can I tell you something? I don't care what anyone tells you, nothing works but DEET. I made a huge mistake of trying to save pack weight by bringing my itsy bitsy hiker's size pen that was almost empty. I figured everyone else would be loaded up with the big guns and would share. And sure enough, they did have full size 6 oz spray cans...of the B.S. Skinsations brand. NOOOO!!! Leigh even gave me some of her peppermint essential oil as a last-ditch effort to fend them off. I'm pretty sure it only enhanced their dining experience; so from now on I'll be calling that "Mosquito Special Sauce". I hear the East Coast bugs are even worse...so yeah, I'm worried. I don't know how much more itching I can handle.
Stacia with her apple, and Leigh with her Fritos :)

Damn those little fu##**s!!!!
But the truth is, it was not bug bites that discouraged me most on this trip. It was the fact that in less than a mile I was so tired I wanted to sit down and cry. Seriously, I could barely keep moving. It really scared me. I was in my head BAD..."You think you can do 10 miles a day?!! You can't even do 1!!! You are pathetic!!!...and did I mention that you're going to die?"
I'm pretty sure it was the heat that sucked my energy; and the fact I was not hydrated well. (I guess a McDonald's milkshake doesn't really count for much...who'd a thunk? ;))
I believe this was the first time I've hiked in 90 degree temps, and now I know it short circuits my ability to effectively move my legs forward. This is problematic, considering 90 and up is the heat I'm heading towards...except it will be more humid. Yep, I'm going to die.
I love tree art!!
A mile past Lake Stuart and you will come to this
beautiful meadow. The trail is burnt out and a little tough to follow,
but it's worth the effort!!
But here's the thing; I eventually got to the camp. Slug slow, and bit to hell, but I made it. So I amend lesson #56 (which was a statement and not a lesson anyway) to this:  "Don't get discouraged when your mind tells you that you can't do it or that you are going to die. Just keep moving and you'll get there. Oh and drink more water, ya ding dong!!!"


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Fifty has Arrived

It's official. I'm 50. The problem with dreaming up and organizing and writing for 8 years about a "when I turn 50" plan, is that it kind of makes it feel like you've been 50 for at least the last 3 of those years. You shouldn't feel like "It's about time!" when you hit a half-century, should you? But at the same time it feels good...why not feel excited about getting old instead of dreading it? My neighbor came over and asked me about how I felt hitting this milestone, and I replied "I love getting old, grey hair, and I love being a grandma!" She posted my answer on Facebook the day of my birthday as "the best quote ever"...but she left out the second half of the story. 
After asking me how it feels getting old, she turned to my husband and inquired, "How about you?"

"I just hurt."

It got a big laugh, and continues to get laughs whenever either of us tell it; but it also makes me sad. Ken works so hard--he's always worked hard, and everything I have and get to do is because of his support. I think that's why I dream so much about somehow cashing in with writing about my adventures; it would feel so good to be able to give back. Then maybe he could relax more, and hurt a little less. 
Though one of the benefits of my hiking obsession is Ken didn't have to throw a big party, because all I wanted was to be on the trail. I know, I know...isn't 50 days enough to ask for? I'm greedy, it's true--but my big trip does not start until August; and waking up in a tent the day I actually turned 50 was really important to me. Luckily I have friends who wanted to come along with, so I didn't have to celebrate the occasion alone.

I picked one of my longest standing bucket list trips, the Chelan Lakeshore Trail. (A perfect choice for mid-June, I must say!) I almost feel guilty for even writing about it...the whole experience was almost too good to be true. I usually talk about hiking misery and hardship, so I'm afraid after reading this you will hate me; because it's not fair that I should have so much fun. I am sorry!!! But I do promise there will be more misery and hardship in the near future. ;)
Meadow Creek camp
After wine tasting in Leavenworth (see? Starting off with wine tasting...really?!) Heather, Leigh and I made our way to 25 Mile Creek to car camp so we could catch the Lady of the Lake early next morning. Car camping equals not having to pack anything in, which means cake + gifts + ukulele jam + giant fire...minus a back ache and sore feet. Makes you wonder a little why you ever bother with the backpack, right? 
You'll have to ask the girls if the ukulele jam was actually
a good idea or not ;)

Backpacking=sore feet, 100%!!

On June 12th my wish came true; and as I woke up that morning in the tent, my first thought was of my mom. I reflected on how exciting and scary it is the day you give birth, and imagined all that she must have been feeling that day, 50 long years ago. I thanked her for choosing to have a 3rd child, and for always making me feel that I was exactly what she wanted and hoped for. I've never talked about this to anyone, but when I'm alone on the trail, that's when I feel like my mom is watching me most. I especially notice hummingbirds, and feel like they are a little sign from her. So when I got out of the tent that morning and heard one, I immediately exclaimed to Heather, "I hear a hummingbird...do you see it?" She said, "Yes, it was right above your head--almost like a little angel." It was all I could do not to burst into tears.
Jamie caught the boat in Chelan, and was waving from the top deck to us as it pulled up to the Fields Point Landing dock. With all our planning and group texts, we kind of forgot to mention we were catching it there instead of Chelan...it was almost a fiasco; but thankfully she figured it out, despite the fact we had zero cell service that morning to fix our mistake. 



This was only Jamie's third backpack, so I felt very honored that she was on board (literally and figuratively!) and especially honored that night when she revealed her birthday present.
She got it for me because the whole "Sinfire" brand is a little joke between us, but I was dumbfounded that she had actually packed it the whole way in to surprise me.The glass bottle alone must have weighed 3 pounds! It might have only been 7 miles to our Meadow Creek Camp, but it's much more elevation than you'd expect, so it was no stroll. When she pulled that gargantuan jar out of her pack, we all looked at her like she was crazy! (Us "experts" know to go for the lightweight flask ;)) but we did our darnedest to lighten the load that night.

Surprisingly, I wasn't too hungover in the morning, but the 10 miles to Stehekin still felt like in impossibility. Lord knows I need to get in better shape! The thought of a daily average of 10 miles a day for 50 days strikes terror in me; although the truth is it's actually a very low bar for any long-distance hiker...even in the crappy shape I'm in now, it's a doable goal. Except if I could just get my act together a little, maybe I can lessen the suffering.
Do I have to keep going?
About a mile before coming into Stehekin, we got the "false peak" fake out. We saw a building ahead, and were sure we had finally made it. (Turned out to be somebody's house...though I thought strongly of going up to the door and asking if they minded guests!) When you are super exhausted you can almost guarantee experiencing this syndrome...I might even declare it the most difficult part of hiking. It's so crushing to have to keep going when you just gave what you thought was all you had to make it to a fake finish line. The good news is, I'm able now to push the disappointment aside quickly; because I've also learned you always have more to give than you thought possible...and I might declare that the most inspiring part of hiking.
Stehekin, along with its famous bakery, was everything I had hoped for and more. I won't make you hate me any further by continuing with the funny stories of our time there; but I hope I've encouraged you to put it on your own bucket list...and maybe inspired you not to wait until you're 50 to check it off.