North Carolina

Sunday, September 1, 2019

My travel companion.

I am headed to North Carolina for some day hiking to waterfalls. I didn’t realize there were so many waterfalls in Transylvania County. I overnighted in South Carolina so I didn’t have to do the long drive all in one day. I didn’t sleep all that well last night. I was woken up at 11:15 with the AC spiting ice all over me. I know I heard it cycle earlier in the evening. So I’m not sure why it froze up on me. I turned it off and went back to bed although I didn’t go right back to sleep. Since I wasn’t sleeping I read for a couple of hours. I then woke up at 4:45am to pee and Berkley is just standing by the door waiting for me to take him out. What??? At this hour? Oh well I was up anyway.

I wanted to leave early this morning I still had 5 hours of driving to go, but I took it easy and didn’t head out until 9am. The plan was to go to Walmart and get a fee things I forgot then head to REI for some shopping. I decided to skip the shopping. Berkley was getting restless. He wanted out of this van. I’m not sure he likes it very much. There are so many things that rattle in here and it scares him.

The weather here is georgous, and the scenic drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway is beautiful. I bet I drove though 10 tunnels along the way.

I wanted to take my time and pull over at some of the lookouts, but I was racing to a campground on the slim chance that I could get a walkin site. On the drive up to the Pisgah National Forest I called the campground where I have reservations for the next two nights to see if there was anything available for tonight. There was one walk in site, but it was gone by the time I got there. My next plan was a dispersed camping area about a half hour away down a dirt road. I was so stress trying to find it, because I no longer had cell service to google the address. Plus I was drving so I couldn’t look at a map. Luckly I looked at it pretty good at the location at home and had an idea where it was. I found the dirt road and there was a sign a the begining of the road stating that the areas that I could camp in are marked. Yea! I found it! I knew there was a horse camp 3 miles down the road then the sites I was looking for would be after that. This was a pretty rough single lane dirt road with a lot of traffic. I was shocked at the amount of traffic that I was running into. After going another 2 miles and only seeing 2 campsite that were already taken, I stopped and asked an approaching car if there were any open campsites down the road. They confirmed that they were full and there were also some illigal camping as well. Shit!

One lane gravel road.

I decided to turn around and go back to the horse camp and stay there. It looked like there were some open sites when I went by. So I mange to turn my van around on a single lane dirt road without going off the side of the mountain. As I enter the horse camp I notice a sign that said the area is for resrvations only and there was info posted at the vault toliet area. There wasn’t much info at the toliet except that is was $10 a night. I wished there was a drop box I could just put the $10 into and be done with it or reserve a site online but I don’t have service. There were numerous sites open so I decide to stay. It was already 4 pm so I was hoping no one would be driving in with a horse trailer this late. I’m not that lucky. A truck and trailer pull in at 5:30pm into the site next to me. I hope I am not in their site. Another camper truck pulls in at 6pm, but I get the feeling they are doing the same thing I am.It’s not my first night of illigal camping. But this one definitly come with a price or I should say SMELL and it’s not a fresh forest smell!

Hopefully I sleep well tonight. I picked up a 3″ foam mattress at Walmart today and I is currently 65 degrees. No AC needed.

WOW. JUST WOW!

Saturday August 31, 2109

As hurricane Dorian (catgory 4) barrels toward Florida. I prepare for vacation. I have the holiday week off. I chose not to worry about something that I can do nothing about. Life is too short not to enjoy it. Jim, who usually works all holiday weekends decides to stay home to help our parents in the miniscule chance that they MIGHT need help with anything during the storm.

The bad weather has caused all of Jim’s charters to be rescheduled. He has the holiday weekend off, he chooses to stay home to help friends and family. I get it, he has a huge need to help others, but he never has a holiday weekend off. It’s a huge blow to my heart.

Public Transportation

Thursday July 25, 2019

I sleep in this morning until 6:05 am in a comfy bed. I lay around while SHORTCUT gets ready to head out. She will continue on without me. I eat cake and cookies in bed while updating my blog and forget to take my thyroid medication. I’m out of my routine this morning.

It’s 10:15 before I know it and my bus leaves in half an hour. I quickly get ready and make it to the bus with 60 seconds to spare. My heart is racing! I’m scared. I don’t normally travel alone on public transportation. I have to take three buses and a metro to get to Portland. Then once there find a way to get to the hotel. My flight leaves at 6:15 the next morning. Hopefully I can get an early morning shuttle to the airport from the hotel.

Me feeling sick on first bus ride. I was so scared.

The scenery on the bus is beautiful as we head down from Timberline Lodge. Through the mountains with roadside waterfalls along the way.

I calm down after my first bus ride and my heart rate returns to normal. The rest of the ride is uneventful, and not much for scenery. It is mostly through towns now.

After the last metro ride I get dropped off a mile from my hotel. I will walk the rest of the way. There is a Target store where I get dropped off. I go inside to get a salad for dinner and some hygiene items to clean up this hiker trash body of mine. I get nail clippers, nail file, deodorant and a hair brush. Plus a little surprise for Berkley.

I get lost in the Target parking lot! I’m not sure which direction to go to the hotel. I find someone to ask and I am on my way.

Pretty walk to the hotel.

It takes 4 hours on public transportation and $8.00 to get to the hotel which includes my shopping time and getting lost. I am pleased that I made it. I just had to ask bus drivers and locals for help.

I check into the hotel. It is the cheapest one I can find with a shuttle to the airport in the morning and it still cost $183.

Once in the room I eat lunch/dinner. Then start to get cleaned up. It takes me nearly an hour. My feet and nails look so much better.

All cleaned up and looking much better!😊

Little Crater Lake

Tuesday July 23, 2019

20.2 miles

We took a side trail to an artesian spring. It was so worth the trip. I though the other lakes and ponds were clear it was nothing like this one. It is 44 feet deep and you can see all the way to the bottom. The color is unlike anything I have ever seen before.

We had another easy terrain day. Mostly flat and shaded. With pretty good temperatures.

Morning second breakfast break.

Old PCT trail maker.

We had trail magic in the middle of the afternoon. It was an awesome setup with make your own sandwitches, soda and snacks. I had a turkey and cheese with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mustard. As well as two homemade brownies. I also took one flavored drink mix to go.

Trail angel Connie. We leave a donation to help cover expenses. She is so sweet to do what she does. She sets up for a couple of weeks here feeding hungry, dirty and smelly hiker trash.

I have a toe that has been bothering me the last few days and today when I looked at it I realized that I had a blister. I used the needle from my sewing kit to pop it and reapplied some tape to it. SHORTCUT also gave me a sleeve to put around it to help ease the pain of it rubbing.

Tomorrow will be my last day on trial. We will be arriving at Timberline Lodge (as ski resort). I will get a shuttle to take me into Portland and I will fly home. I was originally not flying home until next Monday, but I had Jim change my flight so I can arrive home and spent a few days with him before I have to go back to work.

The blisters on my hands are feeling better, but have really gotten red. Hopefully that heals before having to go back to work.

My trekking pole is still holding up. That is some super glue job we did in it! They will go into the hiker box at Timberline Lodge when I get there. Hopefully they can help another hiker.

Just for fun…my feet AFTER I cleaned them trail side. They could really use a good cleaning! I do have a blister. I pop it with a sewing needle add some tape and a toe sleeve that SHORTCUT gave me.

Trail Angel Connie’s dog.

We didn’t see any snow on trail today and the mosquitos are still present but not terrible.

Blessed

Monday July 22, 2019

22.6 miles

I woke up this morning thinking I would have a lot of condensation on and in my tent, because I slept in a grassy meadow. But there was just some light condensation in my tent.

Today was an easy day as far as terrain goes. It was mostly flat, shaded and easy walking. We walked through a burn area that was sunny and hot but it was pretty short. For the most part it was a really enjoyable day as far as temperatures go.

We stopped in another camping resort early this morning so SHORTCUT could pick up some more food and refill our water bottles. They had some chocolate milk and oreos that I couldn’t pass up so that was my second breakfast. As we were leaving we were offered some trail magic of breakfast sandwiches and fresh fruit. We only had some fresh fruit since we had just eaten.

Snowy passes and frozen ponds

Sunday July 21, 2019

20.4 miles

We are up early and out of camp. I find a windy cliff and let my unwanted food blow away in the wind. Definitely not LNT (leave no trace).

We have one dangerous creek crossing. Whitewater Creek and we both make it across without being swept away.

It was a hard day today. Lots of areas exposed to the sun. I started out wearing my rain pants to protect my legs from the sun, but it was just to hot to wear them all day. So I had the brilliant idea to wear my sun sleeves on my legs and a pair of latex gloves on my hands to protect them since I was no longer wearing the sun sleeves on them. It worked out really well. I’m making a fashion statement on the trail again. I also used my umbrella to protect my arms as much as I could.

We had a lot my snow patches to cross in the Mt. Hood wilderness. It was really beautiful, but was just so sunny, hot and slow going.

The trekking pole that I super glued is still holding up. 😀

Timberline Lodge

Wednesday July 24, 2109

14.2 miles

SHORTCUT wakes up early and starts to pack up. When I let her know I am up she tells me she is almost ready to go. I pack up in 20 minutes and am hiking down the trail. That is another record for me. I don’t think I have ever packed up so quickly. I was anxious to finish. Today would be my last day on trail. I want to head home early and have a few days to spend with Jim before I have to go back to work.

Timberline Lodge with built back in 1936-1937. It is considered a historical landmark now. It was really nice and expensive. Our 2 bed room was $300. For that price I was really disappointed with the shower. It went from hot to warm to cold in quick intervals. Plus the drainage was not that good. I’m sure it is the best it can be in such an old place as this.

The dining experience was over the top. I had an awesome spaetzel dish with wild Pacific salmon. It was a $40 entree.

Pond side camping

Saturday July 20, 2019

21.3 miles

Morning view of the pond we camped beside.

We rise around 5:30am to slightly warmer temperatures than yesterday. I believe SHORTCUT said it was about 45 degrees. I have condensation all over the inside of the tent. I dry it some with my bandana.

Notice the bandana…always ready for use!!!

I use my bandana for so much stuff. It functions as a tissue, wash cloth, pee rag, towel and for sun protection. I’m sure I am probably forgetting something, but you get the picture.

We pack up and are out of camp in 45 minutes. It is super painful to pack up the tent again. My hands are so cold. I have to take a break and stuff them in my pants against my skin to try and warm them up so they aren’t so painful.

I made a rookie mistake leaving Big Lake youth camp yesterday. I had way to much food and really paid the price for the extra weight. SHORTCUT helped me out by carrying some of my gear for me today. She is a good friend!😊

We arrive at camp tonight and the mosquitos are horrible here. I quickly set up my tent and climb in. I go through my food and look for things that I can get rid of. I decide to get rid of about 6-7 meals. I empty them all into a large gallon ziplock. I will look for a place to dump it tomorrow. I am thinking about one of the stagnant ponds we pass or a flowing creek. I’m really not sure which one will do the less damage, but it is a lesson learned.

Since the mosquitos are so bad here I don’t want to exit my tent to pee. So I use my cook pot to pee in.😮 I just reach my hand out to dump it to avoid the mosquitos. So I will be eating cold food for the rest of the trip. I should reach a resort along the trail in 1.5 days and I will leave my fuel canister in the hiker box since I will not be needing it any more.

For those of you who don’t know a hiker box is for hikers. We leave things we don’t want or need for others to claim. They are usually found at hostels.

My blisters on my hands are getting worse and now I’m starting to notice them on the back of my calfs and the lower part of my quads just above my knees. All areas that have been exposed to the sun. They are all areas that got a little sun burnt, but not terribly bad. I am just having a major reaction. The skin isn’t even that red. I just hope they don’t break open and get infected.

We see a few horses on trail today. It looks like trail maintainers use them to get to remote sections of trail and to help carry equipment.

Beautiful Alpin Glow

Friday July 19, 2019

19.3 miles

I woke up during the night and just wanted to go home. I missed my men, both Jim and Berkley. I was really feeling fatigued at the end of the day. I started my period and didn’t have any feminine products and it was just super messy. But I got up and hiked on.

It was in the upper 30’s this morning when SOULFLOWER woke me up at 5am. I got ready super fast and was hiking 30 minutes later at a fast clip to try and warm up. My hands were so cold it was painful to pack up my gear. It was hours later before they warmed up.

We had more lava fields to cross again today. We did them in the early morning sunshine, but since it was early it was still chilly. At least we managed to avoid going through them in the heat of the day. We had a 15 mile stretch today with out water as we exited camp this morning. I left with 2 liters that I didn’t finish before arriving at Big Lake Youth Camp. I haven’t been drinking enough the last 2 days since it has been so cool.

As we are hiking SOULFLOWER tells me she is considering getting of trail and going home. Her left achilles is bothering her and she wants to make sure it is well before heading out next month to hike the Sierras on the John Muir Trail.

We arrive at Big Lake youth camp around 12:30pm to pick up resupply packages, take showers and do laundry before heading back out on trail.

SOULFLOWER decides to get off here and to go home. She originally thought she may only hike to this area anyway. I want to go with her and seriously consider it. I miss Berkley so much and hate to be away from him for so long. I know he just doesn’t understand. Plus I’m on my period and I have a horrible rash/blisters on my hands that I thought was from the sun, but I’m really not sure. I call Jim crying. He is my rock. I love this guy so much. He calms me down as he always does and I’m back on the trail.

I will miss continuing on without her. She is always a ray of sunshine on a rainy day.

These blisters on my hands seemed to pop up last night. They don’t seem to itch or hurt. I hope I didn’t make a mistake by getting off the trail. They are only on a small section on both hands.

Once we get in camp and I start to set up my tent. One of my trekking poles breaks and one of my cuticles starts to bleed. I hope this isn’t an omen that I should have quit. We glue the trekking pole back together with some superglue that SHORTCUT had in her emergency kit and I dry the bloody cuticle with some TP. The superglue was a very stickie and we both end up with it all over our fingers.

Now to brush my teeth then off to bed. It’s supposed to get down to the low 40’s tonight.

RAIN!

Thursday July 18, 2019

16.7 miles

See the rainbow.

The rain got us. It started at 9pm last night and rained off and on for 12 hours. We caught a little break to pack up our stuff, but the tents were wet and would need to be dried out. About 9 am it had mostly stopped raining and by 10 am we found a mostly sunny spot to dry out our tents.

It was a pretty chilly day today. With temperatures only reaching in the 60’s but it was so windy all day it felt cooler.

The terrain we covered was vast from beautiful snow covered mountains to glacier morriaine areas. It was really beautiful all day long. Some days can get boring but today it was exciting!

There was still plenty of snow on the trail and the mosquitos were still out. Although there were much less of them. I have heard that the farther north we go the better it gets. Lets hope so.

I am still cooking my dinners on trail, but I think in the future I will bring more cold soak meals and do away with the stove. The stove and fuel probably adds 12 oz to the pack weight. The weight really seems to bother me and takes away from my hiking enjoyment.

I usually have cereal for breakfast, a pasta salad or fruit salad for lunch or just snack all day. Dinner is usually a hot meal. Which can be a wide range of different things. I’m going to do some investigation into more cold soak meals.