Friday, June 14, 2013

Time to Hike

Life has been a whirlwind since we left Bend on Monday morning. We spent a few days in Spokane with Ben's dad and stepmom and then headed to the Seattle area to finish up the last minute details of our trip. It has been wonderful to see family and friends, and I wish we had more time to spend with everyone. The main task of the last few days has been rationing out our food supplies and organizing it into the sixteen resupply boxes that my mom will be sending as we go along. After a last minute trip to Costco this morning, I sincerely hope that we have everything we need!

It's difficult to describe how I feel right now. It is very strange to have dreamed and planned for something for so long, and now the time is actually upon us! We will be walking on the Pacific Crest Trail in less than 24 hours!! Overall, I am so excited! I almost cannot believe this is actually happening. The last few days have been really busy with logistical stuff, so I am ready to start walking and let things fall into place as they will. Planning can only take you so far.

Ben's dad and my mom will be dropping us off at Harts Pass in the morning, and we hope to make it to Stehekin in six days. I will do my best to keep this journal updated as we go. Thank you again to everyone in our lives for their support and positive thoughts.

Happy trails!

Organizing food drops

Our food before being packed..

And after (with Dwight overseeing production)

Treating our clothes with insect repellant

Friday, June 7, 2013

A few thoughts...

As I move closer to the trail, I have been doing a lot of soul searching. I continue to meditate on the reasons why I have chosen to make the trail my home for the next several months.

When I am out, in the forest, in the mountains, it truly does feel like going home. I revel in the beauty, the space, the freedom of it, and it seems to quiet my ever-turning mind. I, like many of us, have trouble being in the present, and I hope that by living my life at a simpler, day-to-day pace, I will be able to find my center in the present moment. I am choosing to think of this thru-hike as a moving meditation.

A decade ago, I could have never imagined that I would be willingly be going on a hike of this magnitude. During my teens and early twenties, I turned away from the “outdoorsy” ways of my childhood. And then, in 2006, my younger brother BJ passed away in a car accident. Seeking solace from our grief, my mom and I slowly started doing athletic events as a way of celebrating BJ’s life. We rode our bikes from Seattle to Portland twice, and started going on day hikes frequently. In 2011, we climbed Mount Rainier with RMI and were able to leave BJ’s ashes at the summit. He loved the mountains, and had summited Rainier as well as many other peaks with my dad. Last year, both of my parents and I took a climbing course, and so, my love for the mountains continues to fill a larger and larger part of my heart. I never feel as close to BJ as I do in nature. We can’t always choose what happens in our lives, but we can choose what we do with it. And I choose to celebrate my brother’s life by living mine to the fullest. I know he would be proud of the journey I am embarking on, and that I will feel his presence as I walk the trail.

I also wanted to extend a huge thank you to all of my family and friends who have been so supportive in the months leading up to this trip. My mom has listened to me pore over every detail without fail, and she is graciously taking on the responsibility of resupplying Ben and I with food and gear. Both of my parents are hiking sections of the trail with us, and I can’t wait for them to be part of our journey. Ben’s dad is kindly taking us to trailhead at Harts Pass to begin our hike, and will also plan to visit us along the way. To all of my friends and family, thank you for listening, for asking questions, for the special (and ultralight) talismans you have given me to carry along. You make me feel very loved. And, of course, thank you to Ben, for taking this journey with me. It has been a long time coming.

 Mom and I on the summit of Rainier

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mountain Tops and Moving Out

The days are flying by down here in Bend. On Monday, Ben and I took a day trip up Broken Top, one of the many beautiful mountains in the Oregon Cascades. The weather was much more cooperative than last week, we had sunshine all day long. We were on snow most of the way up the ridge, and then there was a little bit rock climbing/scrambling to get to the summit. The climbing was very doable, but it is on crumbly volcanic rock with significant exposure. We roped up for the top section of the climb, belaying each other when needed. Ben brought his GoPro camera, so we were able to get some video footage of the climb, which was awesome to watch. Like last week, it is priceless to be out in our happy place together. We will be lucky enough to get to stay there for several months starting next week.

As of yesterday, we are getting down to business, wrapping up all of the final details before we head out of town on Monday. We got a storage unit, and started moving all of our things out of the apartment. We got a LOT of non-perishable food at Costco and Trader Joe’s and Amazon, once we get to my mom’s house we will put together all of our resupply packages. For now, we just have a lot of chocolate and rice sitting around that we have to try to keep our hands off.

Another pre-trip project: Ben suggested that we write inspirational quotes on each page of our maps. There are several hundred pages, by the way. One of his friends had done this on the Continental Divide Trail, and the idea really resonated with me. So for the last several days, I have been looking up mountaineering quotes, song lyrics, movie quotes, yoga mantras, anything that I think will bring hope and strength and courage over the months and miles ahead. This one is fitting for today:

“The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex. But what’s important is leading an examined life.”

-       Yvon Chouinard (180 Degrees South)

Part of the “why” of hiking the PCT is to simplify life, to go back to basics. Right now the process of simplifying is complicated in itself. Thank goodness we will be walking soon.

Ben on the ascent

Looking up at our ascent route

Looking down at our route and over at South Sister

From left to right: Middle Sister, North Sister, Mt. Washington, 
Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood

Team Two Man Wolf Pack on the summit

On the way down! 

Ben working his way down the snowfields 

The Three Sisters 

Some food for the journey ahead 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Counting down the days...

Today is June, which makes the trail seem within arms reach. A week from today is Ben's last day at work. Two weeks from today we will be taking our first steps from Harts Pass. It's very hard to wait at this point. I spent my days in preparation for what is to come, and at night I can't turn my mind off. I've never had trouble sleeping, but these last few nights I feel consumed by thoughts of the trail. It is a nervous excitement, I suppose, one that will fade when I start walking.

This afternoon I laid out everything I will be bringing with me on the PCT, just to see what it would look like. It was a very strange feeling. To agonize and plan over all of these details for months, acquire all of these specialized pieces of equipment, and it all forms a very neat little pile on your living room floor. And then all gets placed (hopefully) neatly into a pack you can carry with you. To literally carry your home on your back. I love the whimsy of it.



Seasonal Gear

Maps and guidebook pages