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 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 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.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Dreaming is Free

I've never considered myself a dreamer. I'm more what you would call a times maybe even a pessimist. Life just tends to be more palpable when you don't expect too much. But for better or for worse, dreams have crept in.They excite and they overwhelm; they inspire and they disappoint. Sometimes I don't know whether to support them, or squash them, because of the longing and fear they create. So I wrestle with them--alternately holding and hurdling them away.
One of these dreams of course is my 50 Day hike on the Appalachian Trail when I turn 50. This particular dream fits well into my realist world. I simply plan it, buy the shit I need, and then do it. So I can check box #1 and #2 (ticket to New York purchased for August; no turning back!) and now I can only obsess and worry over #3 until I either fail or succeed. But my other dreams are far more complicated.
This made me laugh
And this too! There are some creative people on the trail!
To become a writer...a real writer...that's what I would call a ridiculous dream. My realistic, pessimistic brain can only scoff at it. But I keep writing anyway, because I enjoy it. And so it is also with hiking--even more so. I do it not so much to prepare to fulfill some dream or ambition, but because there is fulfillment in doing it in and of itself. Wouldn't it be nice to live all of life that way? "Good luck with that when there are bills to pay!!!"...oh my pessimist brain! It will always be a struggle.

These drinks aren't free, people!!

So here I am writing about my first quick backpack of 2018, with less than 2 months before I start "the biggie". With all that previous talk about hiking for the fun of it, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to how discouraging it was to have an easy 10 miles in 2 days kick my ass that hard. I know I'm just starting the season, but it doesn't seem like I should hurt this bad. But I have time to get in shape, right? There is this thing called a gym. I mean, it's not like I'm against doing the un-enjoyable when it's necessary...I'm just not very good at it. 
This quick trip to Lizard Lake was completely unexpected. I thought my first backpack this year would have to wait until my Stehekin trip planned for next month, but then I remembered Memorial day. Even though I knew I couldn't do Sunday/Monday, I figured I could do Monday/Tuesday if the drive was close enough to pack up early and head straight to work Tuesday morning.Thankfully I know Heather is always game for this last minute stuff I throw at her. The only thing she asked was that we bring her dog for his very first backpack--of course I said yes! I had Lexi strong on my mind, as this was the same hike I took her on for her one and only overnight last December. I sure miss her.

Dogs are cute and wonderful and all, but they can also be hella disgusting. After working hard at keeping Jax from chowing down on the constant supply of road apples left by the horses, as soon as Heather let him off leash at camp, he went straight down to the lake's edge to feast on the pile of horseshit marinating in the water there. Heather was on him quick; scolding him that "nobody likes a poop eater!" That is truth right there! And you better believe we were using our water filters that night. Nobody wants to be drinking essence of horse crap either.
Hey guys...there's a smorgasbord down here!!!

Sometimes you can't help loving a poop eater
We set our alarms for 5 a.m. because supposedly as long as we hit the trail by 6, I would make it to work on time. I picked this trail because of my previous experience last year, and I believed we should be able to cruise out of there pretty fast. Not only did I underestimate the state of my out-of-shape-ness, I overestimated the significance of the Max's "shortcut" Trail, because it was actually longer than if we had just gone back the way we came.
Only a short cut if you are coming from the other direction
I jumped out of Heather's car and ran into work about a half hour late looking and smelling very nasty for just one night on the trail, but it was all good. Even though cooking for preschoolers is not exactly my dream job, it's a place that has my back (thank God for Cheerios!) and it also pays the bills. (Well, a couple of them anyway.) I know that if I ever wanted to achieve my dream of making it as a writer, I would need enough faith to believe it possible, and then pursue it...and that takes work. I don't know if I have that faith. But I can continue to dream, because dreaming is free. 

P.S. More info on this hike can be found on my "A Lily, a Lizard, and a Lexi" post. 

Miss you girl!!!