Things I learned on the Colorado trail…

Sunday August 5, 2018

It is good to be home with my family again and I am working on planning my next hike to New York. I will be hiking the Northville-Placid trail around the Adirondack Mountains with my Aunt Julie and one of her friends who I have not met before, but also has the same name as me so she has to be great, and the two wonderful woman I summited Katahdin with…SOULFLOWER and SHORTCUT!!! Five woman walking in the woods. I bet this trip will be epic.

So the Colorado trail…

  1. IS VERY DRY. I had no idea just how dry it would be. I had a lot of trouble with my nose. It was just so uncomfortable to breath. I had dry crusted blood and huge buggers I was blowing out regularly. How is that for a pretty picture? In the two and a half weeks I was there it really didn’t improve much. It even smelled dusty.
  2. THERE IS A LOT OF SUN EXPOSURE. I was totally unprepared for all of the exposure. I spent the first week walking under my umbrella until I could get some better clothing that covered me more.
  3. FIRES. They are very serious out here. On a lot of sections of trail I could see the past scars from fire damage on the trees. The locals take fires very seriously. If they see smoke they are calling it in right away and also advising you about the fire bans in the areas.
  4. IT IS VERY DUSTY. It was kind of like walking in a bowl of wheat flour. With the lack of rain the trail is very dusty and you cannot walk directly behind the person in front of you. It reminds me of Pigpen from the Charlie Brown movie with his dust cloud following him. It makes for some very black toes at the end of the day.
  5. I HATE THE SAWYER MINI. The Sawyer is a water filtration system that I was to filter water to make it safe for drinking. They have a regular and a mini (which is small and lighter). I thought I would try the mini for this trip since it is smaller and lighter, but it just takes so much time to filter the water it just isn’t worth the weight savings and smaller size. I have gone back to the regular size filter.
  6. NEVER FORGET TO BRING YOUR BUFF. I love my buff, but decided to try just a ear warmer type headband for this trip. I was thinking it would be warmer and I just wouldn’t need the buff, but I was wrong. Most nights it was in the low 40’s to upper 30’s. I use the buff for a hat/neck and face warmer. I also like to cover my eyes while sleeping since it can be very bright depending on the size of the moon. It was a very missed item in this trip.
  7. HIKING WITH SHORTCUT IS A BLAST! We had so many laughs. I mean stomach cramping, wet your panties kind of laughing.
  8. I DON’T NEED TO CARRY A SEPARATE BACKPACK FOR TRAVEL. When I travel I would usually carry a small drawstring backpack to carry some personal items onto the plane with me, but SHORTCUT taught me that I could just use my food bag. Since I need that piece of gear anyway. No need to carry something throughout an entire backpacking trip that I don’t need on trail just to have a travel bag.
  9. MY PUFFY PACKS INTO IT OWN POCKET. Who knew?!?! Another tip taught to me by SHORTCUT. It packs down so much smaller.

Picture of SHORTCUT’S food/travel bag.

First half done

Day 15

Sunday July 8, 2018

15.1 Miles Total mileage 247.6

Morning view from the back porch of our resort room.

Last night we made our final plans for our transportation back home. We will be finishing up the trail tomorrow in Salida. We arranged a shuttle driver to pick us up from the trailhead and drive us to the nearest town 14 miles away (Salida). We will spend the night there then take a 3 hour bus ride back to Denver. Where we will catch a 40 minute train ride to the airport for our flights home. It’s going be a long day of sitting around after being on the trail for 2 weeks.

The terrain today was different from what we have been walking through. Today we had more forest and pasture looking areas. We even saw a few cows. It is still beautiful.

The forecast for today didn’t really show any rain, but we managed to find it. And it wasn’t just a tiny shower. It was a storm with thunder and lightening that had a both scream out once. And why not throw some hail in the mix just to make it more fun!!!😫 We slid into camp looking like drowned hikers. I set up my tent for the first time in the rain. It’s not something I would like repeat!

It looks bad and it was bad!

Today was really an enjoyable day until the rain started. We didn’t have may miles to complete so we took some long breaks and talked to a lot of hikers. It was really enjoyable when your not trying to crush the miles.

Day 16

Monday July 9, 2018

5.3 miles Total mileage 252.9

Today was my last day on trail. I have completed just over half of the 486 miles of the Colorado trail. I do plan to come back to finish it and hopefully with the same girls that I started it with this year.

When I left camp this morning my shoes were still wet from yesterday’s rain and I didn’t want to get my dry socks wet so I put some doggie poop bags over my socks then slid my feet into my shoes. It looks retarded and you should like you are wearing a diaper but I was happy. No wet socks for this hiker chic!

What ever it was must have died from the heat and dust inhalation.

I am happy to be headed home tomorrow. I miss my family and can’t wait to be together with them again.

My hiking partner SHORTCUT loves luxurious travel when she is not sleeping in a tent. Tonight we are staying at a 5 star hotel in Salida called The Palace Hotel. I am definitely learning a few things about travel from her. Thank you SHORTCUT. It has been a very fun and pleasurable trip traveling with you.

I would like to thank my wonderful husband, Jim for all his support. I love you, Babydoll.

Also thank you Nikki and Dr Nong for allowing me to take the time off of work and the girls there for making due without me.

Penance

Day 12

Thursday July 5, 2018

16.6 Miles Total mileage 197.8

Last night SHORTCUT was sitting outside on the front porch. She called me out to check out the storm that was moving in. As soon as I stepped out side I know it wasn’t a storm. It was smoke!!! I could smell it. It is the first time we had any smoke of any kind. Sometimes we could see smoke off in the distance, but never could we smell it. It’s hard to believe but each day we hike I can see signs that there had once been a fire in the area. I heard that one of the fires was started at a shooting range.

We left our cute little cabin this morning and rather than take the 1.95 mile side trail back to the CT we decided to get shuttled down the road where the trail was next to the road. So I skipped 3.8 miles of trail. And I paid for it. We got lost twice early this morning and only covered 2.4 miles in 3 hours. I think I walked those 3.8 miles anyway.

Some how we walked right by this sign and didn’t even see it. We had to back track .6 miles to where we missed our turn.

We had some pretty nice hiking weather this today. The high was only in the low 70’s with a chance of some afternoon storms. We had a big climb at the end of the day when we were supposed to get the storms. We were hoping that the storms would hold off until after we summited the big climb and it did. You don’t want to be on top of a mountain in a lightning storm. We were really lucky. When we were doing our big climb it was threatening to rain and it did sprinkle some, but I was most grateful for the cloud cover. Once I started down the other side of the mountain the sun came back out and there was a lot less smoke.

View from my awesome lunch spot.

Fallen tree right over the trail.

There is a huge beaver dam in this creek.

Day 13

Friday July 6, 2018

18.8 Miles Total mileage 216.6

We got a tiny bit of rain last night, but I woke up to a dry tent and chilly temperatures. It was 38 this morning.

I have been following these animal tracks for days now and finally figured out what animal makes them.

It’s a Llama! When we rolled into to camp tonight they were here. Apparently a woman hiked 160 miles of the trail last year and carrying a pack was just killing her back. So she rented a couple of Llamas to carry her gear.

At about 11:30am we started our difficult climb for the day. It was a 3 mile climb up with 2600 feet of elevation gain. I did not do so well on this climb. I was hot and had to take numerous tiny breaks in the way it. I would basically move from shady spot to shady spot.

Day 14

Saturday July 7, 2018

11.8 Miles Total Mileage 230

We woke up to a less chilly morning temperatures. It was 42 this morning. It is still tough to get out of those warm thermals.

Today we were headed into Mt Princeton/Hot Springs. There is a resort right on the trail. I was happy to be headed in for a shower. The days have been pretty warm and I was super stinky. It seems to me that once you have been out here for a while the stinkness returns just as soon as you start to sweat again. Plus the new longsleeve shirt I purchased to block the sun was mostly polyester and polyester gets pretty stinky. I love to hike in wool. You can wear those shirts for days and it won’t smell to bad. It also seems to wick the sweat away from my skin better as well.

We saw some bear tracks this morning. It was unclear to me of they were black bear tracks or brown bear. When I later check on Google I discovered that brown bears do not live in Colorado. So the tracks are from the more skittish black bear.

We have seen a lot of horse poop on the trail last couple of days. My hiking partner, SHORTCUT has this theory that horse pop is non-stick. So of course she has to put it to the test. So you dare.. check out the video below for the results. If it doesn’t gross you out you should get a good laugh from it.

As we were getting closer to Mt Princeton/Hot Springs we passed a ranch that is a kids camp.

The trail turned into a 3 mile road walk on black top into town. Road walking is the worst with a pack on. It’s hot and there is no shade. We decided that if a car passed us we would try and hitch a ride into town. We walked over a mile before the first car passed us and we stuck out our thumbs. Yeah, they picked us up so we didn’t have to do the last 1.6 miles of road walking. It was a group of day hikers visiting the area and they so kindly made room for us in their rental. I bet that they didn’t realize when they stopped that we would smell so bad. Luckily for them it was a very short trip.

We got to the resort about noon and our room was not ready so we sat at a little corner in the bar hoping we were far away from most of the guest that they could not smell us and had lunch. Then we headed over to the spa to get showers while we were still waiting for our room. When we got to our room it was the usual of cleaning gear and doing laundry in the bathtub since there was not a laundry room here.

Things I learned during my Appalachin Trail Thru Hike

Sunday October 22, 2017

I have been home for a week and a half now, and it has been an easy adjustment for me to go from living in the woods for 6 months to being back in civilization. I haven’t had any trouble with depression or adjusting to seeing a lot of people or hearing a lot of noise. I also didn’t have any trouble when I started the trail either, going from civilization to living in the woods. It was all so exciting to me. Plus I started the trail with a woman, CHOCOHOLIC, who taught me all about how to eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

20171023_071936
Photo taken from back home. Out on the boat with Jim and Berkley.

I thought I would share some things that I learned while on the trail.

  1. 2200 miles is a long ways and the feet get really sore! This was a big issue for me. I didn’t have any problems with blisters during my hike it was just the amount of time that I spent on my feet that really took a toll.
  2. I didn’t like making decisions all by myself. Therefore I prefered to hike with someone else. I think I only was alone for a few weeks on the trail the rest of the time with someone.
  3. Flying first class is awesome! When I left Maine and flipped back down south, Jim bought me a first class plane ticket. Can you imagine going from living in the woods the past three and a half months to flying first class. I sat in first class smelling like a hiker and wearing the dirtiest sneakers imaginable! I also learned how to ride a metro in downtown DC. You have to get on the right color metro headed in the right direction! Who knew?!?!
  4. The people on the trail were awesome! It was a thru hiking community that all supported and looked out for each other. There were couple of exceptions–like for a few weekenders who like to make campfires and stay up late or if it was pouring rain they turned to their 1.75 liter bottle of alcohol. What hiker carries a 1.75 liter bottle of alcohol?!?! A weekender of course!!!
  5. Cashews are a fruit not a nut! There is some much time to think while you are on trail and after walking over thousands of acorns (which is like walking on marbles in case you were wondering) and hundreds of walnuts I began to wonder what a cashew looks like in its shell. This I had to google and found out that a cashew tree products the cashew seed and the cashew apple.
  6. I thought the trail life would be so simple…but I actually had less down time on the trail than I did at home. If I wasn’t walking 10-12 hours a day I was preparing meals, setting up or taking down camp and routinely filtering water. I also wrote my daily blog on my phone which took forever! Whenever I took a day off it was consumed with doing laundry, cleaning and repairing gear, and planning ahead for my next town stop. I had to figure how many days it would take me to get to the next town and how much food I want Jim to send me. Now that I am back home I have so much down time I find that I am bored and long for “that all day long workout”. I’ve been home less that two weeks and I am already ready to go hiking again. Unfortunately there is nothing close to me here in Florida.
  7. I hated hiking in the rain. Especially if I wasn’t headed into town and I would either have to camp out or stay in a shelter. Things just didn’t dry out in the woods overnight.
  8. I learned how to hike in 40 mph winds while hiking over Mount Washington in the whites. I would walk hunched over using my trekking poles to push myself back up if I felt like I was being pushed over by gusts of wind.
  9. My adventure died about 3-4 months in and became a death march. At the end I was just making the miles and not enjoying my time in the woods. My time was running out before I had to be back to work.
  10. I was good about stretching in the beginning of my trip, but soon after it started to decline and soon became non existent. When I got home from my trip I started to have some lower back pain and realized how tight my gluts were. I started stretching again and the lower back pain disappeared.
  11. I learned how to sleep in!!! At home I was always up at 5 am to get a workout in before I had to go to work. When I was hiking the northern half of the trail it was getting light before 5 am so it was great. When I flipped back down south the days were getting shorter and I was no longer so far east, it wasn’t getting light until after 6 am and when I finish the trail it wasn’t light until 7 am. HOOTIE didn’t like to hike in the dark so I learned to sleep in.

I DID IT!!!

Wednesday October 11, 2017

Coopeer Gap to Springer Mountain the Southern termunis of the AT, 12.3 miles

Total Mileage 2189.8

I did it!!! I hiked the whole Appalachian Trail in 172 days. If I had to be honest when I started the trail I didn’t think I would finish the whole thing. I didn’t think I wanted it bad enough to hike almost 22 hundred miles. I know I definitly wanted to finish the northern half and after finishing that I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there and flip back down south. I hated hiking in New England the terrian was very rugged and with a pack on your back it takes the fun out of it.

Jim dropped HOOTIE and I off at Cooper Gap at 9 am and were off to becoming thru hikers this day. The day was beautiful, but a little to warm for hiking.

We met Jim and Berkley 1 mile from the top of Springer Mountain and they hike the remaining mile with me.

Today I am grateful for all of my friends and family that helped me finish the trail.

Another Riddle

Tuesday October 10, 2017

Dicks Creek Gap to Unicoi Gap, GA 16.7 miles

Total Mileage 2178.6

Today it is Humid! We have 5 climbs today and shortly into the first climb I am soaking wet from sweat not rain. It is warm today.

I have another riddle for you guys…

You are in a downstairs room with 3 light switches that go to 3 light bulbs upstairs. How do you figure out which light switch goes to each bulb upstairs by only making one trip upstairs?

Today I am thankful for the jokes HOOTIE tells me along the trail. It helps to pass the time when you are just trying to finish up miles.

Tomorrow will be my last day on the trail. Tomorrow I will finish. Tomorrow I will be an Appalachian Trail thru hiker!

Embrace the rain

Monday October 9, 2017

Neel Gap to Cooper Gap 19.1 miles

Total Mileage 2161.9

It looked like we were going to have a break in the weather until about noon, but it started to rain on us about 10:30am. I didn’t even put on my raincoat. It was pretty humid and I just started a climb. If I would have put on the raincoat I would have been sweating so bad I would have been wet anyway. So I just embraced the rain and continued on.

We hike straight through today without out stopping for a lunch break. HOOTIE had some leftover pizza that he ate while hiking and I just had snacks. This was the first time I hike so far without taking a break. I do remember hiking a 12 mile day in the rain back in NY with out taking a break, but I finished that day close to noon. This day I didn’t finish until about 2:45pm.

I definitely have a problem with my phone so no pictures today. The photo above was taken by HOOTIE of Blood Mountain Shelter.

Today day I am thankful to be so close to the end. I only have 2 more days of hiking.

Jim’s back!

Saturday October 7, 2017

Unicoi Gap, GA to Neel Gap, GA 21.2 miles

Total mileage 2132.7

I have breakfast from the ExxonMobil station across the street from the Budget Inn in Hiawassee where I stayed the night last night. I bought a chocolate milk, 440 calories and a muffin 600 calories! I had a breakfast totaling 1040 calories. How does a muffin even contain 600 calories. It’s no wonder the general population is overweight.

Our weather today was pretty nasty compared to the past few days. It was foggy, misting/raining and just plain ugly. But at least it was a slackpack. This area was hit pretty good by Hurricane Irma and there were reports of 160 down trees on the trail. We have been going under, over and around downed trees since Tennessee /North Carolina, but Georgia has had the most downed so far. It has also had the most trail clean up done.

I still have 4 more days of hiking to finish the trail and Hurricaine/tropical storm Nate to deal with. The weather calls for 100% chance of rain for tomorrow. I have a short 10 mile day planned. Hopefully it won’t take longer than 4 hours to complete.

My men (Jim and Berkley) picked me up today. I won’t be separated from them any longer. They will be with me until the end of the trail and I will go home with them.

Today I am thankful for being with my family again!

Less than 100 miles to go!

Thursday October 5, 2017

Winding Stair Gap to Deep Gap 24.4 miles slackpacking

Total mileage 2094.8

I officially have less than 100 miles to go! Woo-hoo!

We are jumping around on the trail and doing longer mile sections because of an approaching storm and the potential for a lot of rain. Jim is coming up on Saturday to slackpack us the rest of the way to Springer Mountain in GA. We will do the shorter miles sections on the rainy days with his help.

Today was a challenge for me with the big miles. We didn’t get on the trail until 9am and had a 5:30pm pickup time. I would have to average 3 mph all day to make it. I didn’t make it! I was 20 minutes late, but our shuttle driver was even later. So it all worked out.

There were so many sections of trail that have been burned in the recent fires last fall.

Today I am thankful for my SAFTEY on the trail. With the fast pace I was trying to maintain I am more likely to have a fall and I didn’t have any.

So close!

Wednesday October 4, 2017

Wayah Bald, NC 17.6 miles

Total mileage 2070.4

Hopefully today will be my last day carrying a full pack. I hope to slack the rest of the way to Springer Mountain in GA.

Today was another beautiful day. The trail involved a big climb out of the NOC, but we did that early in the morning while the weather was cooler.

The trail has been pretty. I would walk through areas where the trail was covered with red leaves and other areas of yellow or brown leaves. Some areas of rock which is my least favorite. There were also some glittery areas today as well as some areas of charred woods from fires last year caused by an arsonist.

I made it to my Mom’s favorite place on the trail, Wayah Bald. She and Dad would regularly visit this area in the fall. The stone fire tower no longer has a roof. It burned in the fires last year.

We stop for lunch at a Rocky Bald. It was a little off trail, but a hiker we ran into along the trail this morning said it was worth the side trail.

Today I am thankful to be so close to the end. I am ready to give my feet a break. I just hope that I haven’t done any damage to them that won’t heal with time.