Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Finally, Five Days! (Part 1)

I did it! I guess the third time really is a charm!! I can't believe it's already been almost a week since I've been back. I often wonder how 50 days of hiking is going to feel; but then I realize it doesn't matter how it feels. Whether it's hard, easy, rainy, sunny, lonely or filled with people...fifty days will pass regardless of my feelings towards them, and it will be over and I'll wonder, "Did that just really happen?" It seems that way now, and I'm sure it will seem that way then. (If I ever actually make it to the Appalachian Trail; knock on wood)

Deciding on what hike to do was the hardest part of the whole trip. I once again was trying to make a super duper birthday plan; this time because my husband is turning 50. Five days when Ken turns 50...he should be into it, right? And he tried to be, God bless him he really did. Ultimately though, I had to concede having him with me was more about my fears and what I wanted than about what he wanted. I'm glad I finally let it go; the elusive 5 day was something I really needed to conquer on my own.

There are many reasons I at last settled on heading to the Olympic Mountains; (or the ONP in hiker speak) the main one being the weather forecast. ZERO percent chance of rain for 5 whole days in one of the wettest areas in the world! I didn't even pack an ounce of rain gear...in the Olympics! For that I could ignore all the trip reports that spoke of bear sightings, which I swear are almost all of them.

Yes, it would be cool to see a bear; but I'm sorry, they scare me. I know they are not really interested in humans, but they are very big with very big claws that would hurt very bad even if their only intention was to give me a hand shake. So, because I had to stop at Cabela's on the way to buy some stove fuel, I figured I might as well get a can of bear spray "just in case".

Hiking lesson #38: Never stop at Cabela's if your on any kind of time schedule. It took 15 minutes just to find the spray WITH the help of an employee (who had to ask two other employees) only to discover it's FIFTY DOLLARS for bear spray! And it's HUGE! I mean dang, how much spray does it take to impede a bear...or are they giving us some bargain value for multiple bears? I said screw it, and I'm glad I did. I know I could never be trusted with that stuff anyway; I mean, after spraying mosquito repellent in my eyes in a panic to get the bugs off me not once, but TWICE, I'm quite certain the only thing the bear spray would have taken down would be me. I may be afraid of bears, and ticks, and log bridges without handrails...but I think if anything is going to be the end of me, it's going to be deet poisoning.  

After the fiasco at Cabela's, the traffic, and the line at Jack in the Box, I barely got to the ranger station at Staircase before they closed. Some things to consider if your thinking about hiking here: you need to buy an OLYMPIC state park pass to get in. (No, not a Discover Pass. No, not a Forest Pass...a whole new, different pass. Sheesh.) Then you need to pay per night, per person for your backpacking permit. (another reason I was glad I passed on the bear spray) I was thankful, though, to have a ranger to answer my questions. He was so nice; gave me tips on how to do my first real ford, talked me into staying at "Home Sweet Home" camp instead of pushing on to the next (Hiking lesson #39: when the map shows a mile as only a quarter inch, pay attention because that quarter inch will be hell) and let me know there was another solo hiker with the same itinerary as me.

"Is he a weirdo?" I instinctively asked. 

It's not that I assume just because a guy is hiking alone that he's some sort of creeper; it's just that weird guys are even scarier than bears, and I believe stats would prove me right on that one.

The ranger only told me about the other hiker because of the stream I had to ford. "It's running low, but fast. It's better if there was someone with you, and maybe he'll hike with you in that section. But you never know with solo hikers. The thing is, often they are looking for solitude."
"Or maybe he's alone because he's a weirdo" was what I was thinking, but the ranger assured me he was a really nice guy and not to worry.
When you first open a can of stove fuel,
you need some sort of knife. Do not try to twist off the "safety" plug
I didn't actually get hiking until 4:30 (above picture explains why) but thankful the 7 miles to Camp Pleasant is a cruise, so I made it well before dark. Two guys were already set up, and I wondered if either of them was the nice guy who was undoubtedly not a weirdo. I'll let you know next time. :) 

Part 2: http://kellbell-whywouldanyonereadthis.blogspot.com/2014/07/from-camp-pleasant-to-home-sweet-home.html


  1. Your blog is so funny. We should go backpacking together some time..

  2. Hey it's Denise... I love this! So envious as I really want to get some over night camping in but schedules..... bleh. Way to go!

  3. Thanks Denise! This trip came together last second; I'm so very grateful. Mossy Mom I'd love to hike with you!

  4. Got a teeny tiny bit of bear spray in my eye this summer (the can onto its holster leaked in the heat of the car). Damn. That stuff is potent. Thought I would go blind...thankfully flushing with lots of water made it feel better very quickly.

  5. Ouch! Yes, that stuff is too dangerous for me. I sprayed that deet DIRECTLY into my eye; I thought I would go blind as well! Those super small clip on bug spray containers are hard to tell which direction the nozzel is pointed. I've given up using them; screw pack weight, I take the big cans!

  6. Just curious did you manage the five hundred miles in fifty days? I am trying to raise money for a village in Nepal by doing the same thing 278 miles in www.500milesfornepal.co.uk . I looked at your page before i chose this way of raising money! Di

  7. Diane, what a great thing your doing. I tried to donate, but my card wouldn't go through. I'll try again later. I still have 3 years before I turn 50 and head to the Appalachian trail. I should think about making it a charity thing.