PCT Day 1: Objectively Pleasant

Miles Hiked: 20.2

Total Milage 20.2

This morning I woke up at 5am in a massive tent at Scout and Frodo’s house. They are two legendary trail angels who live in San Diego and host hikers at their home before dropping them off at the Mexico Border to start their hikes. Scout wrote a book called “Journeys North” about hiking the Pacific Crest trail. My dad and I listened to it together. I highly recommend reading it. He is a great story teller. It was so nice to be taken care of by those two. They hosted us for a night, fed us breakfast and dinner, and drove us to the trail. About 15 other hikers were there. Scout gives a famous after dinner talk in which he gives us information and advice about the trail and told us a magnificent story about the first people to travel the entire Pacific Crest Trail on horseback in the 1950s.

By 8am I was standing at the border with a large group of hikers and getting my picture taken. I climbed the stone monument I have waited so long to see. It felt totally surreal. It feels as if I have been dreaming about this trail ever since I knew I wanted to be a thru hiker. As I set off down the trail with Luke, we stopped at the actual border to get a picture of the steel wall and put my hands through to Mexico on the other side.

The California desert looked so different than I had imagined it and drastically different than the New Mexico and Arizona deserts I know quite well. It was lush and green with lots of shady trees and large granite rocks. We passed a sign that said “Mile 1” but it felt like we were only hiking for 10 minutes. I wondered, “How is this already going by so fast? ” . At Mile four was our first water source, a flowing stream where I grabbed 1 liter to make my pack have 4L total.

Today was objectively the most pleasant day of hiking I’ve ever had. I don’t think either of the other two trails I have hiked started out this smooth. My pack weight felt amazing. The warm up hike I did in Georgia with my dad totally paid off in terms of getting my body used to carrying a pack again. There was way more shade than I imagined and there were interesting views all day long. When I saw a California Poppy for the first time ever I was absolutely mesmerized. The bright yellow color and perfect shape of the petals blew me away. I already want to add them to my wildflower tattoo and I can’t wait to see more. Luke and I took breaks about every four miles. We looked for nice shady spots to relax. I was on edge all day about seeing snakes. I only saw one slither across the trail in front of me and tons of tiny lizards running faster than the blink of an eye. The temperature was totally reasonable today. At the hottest point of the afternoon we took over an hour break in Hauser Creek Canyon. I laid on my thin black ground pad under a large shady tree and enjoyed the company of three other hikers. Oddly enough I think I have met less than ten people from America so far. Maybe less than five. It’s certainly interesting to meet a very different crowd than I’m used to.

At 4pm we headed up the first climb of the PCT to Lake Morena. It was surprisingly not bad at all despite the heat. Most of the trail ended up being shady and cool as it meandered through groves of Manzanita trees. After 20 miles both Luke and I still felt great. We walked to oak shores malt shop and grocery store to get malt shakes and dinner. What a perfect and easy first day. The lake Morena Campground had a PCT area where we set up camp. We ran into a lot of other hikers who made it here on day one as well. I saw Library and Overdue who I met in the Bob Marshall wilderness on the PCT. It’s crazy to run into people I know on day one!

After I had my tent set up at camp, I immediately started to write my blog before I fell asleep. I was out before I could finish it.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

The Gear, the Flight and All the things…

I am sitting in a hotel room right outside the Atlanta Airport at the moment writing this. I just went through my gear for the last time and took photos of it all. I procrastinated way too much to get a picture of it all at once so I took individual photos with way more detail and got inspired to write a blog post about everything I’m carrying. My flight leaves at 6am. I’m so nervous and absolutely dreading the traveling to California part of this whole journey. The last two times I have traveled to or from the east coast I have been caught up in multiday delay travel hell for bizarre reasons with the flight companies. I’ll be flying the budget airline Spirit and checking my backpack and trekking poles which gives me even more anxiety to be separated from my gear. I’d like to say I’m concerned about flying with a budget company but it seems like it doesn’t matter because I’ve never flown with a budget company before and still dealt with all the travel chaos I didn’t sign up for. Anyways, here’s some pictures and descriptions of everything I am carrying with me!

Shelter and Sleep: Z Packs Duplex Tent, 8 MSR Groundhog Mini Tent Stakes, Sea to Summit Ultralight inflatable pillow size XL, Thermarest X Lite Sleeping Pad, Western Mountaineering Versalite 10° sleeping bag

Both my tent and my sleeping bag are gifts from my dad over the past two years. They are my favorite and most valued pieces of gear. I am so lucky to be gifted these very expensive pieces of gear that have totally changed my pack weight and comfort level while hiking. To be honest I think my dad is way more into gear than I am but he picked up the absolute best pieces I could ever want for me! The Duplex is actually the second Duplex I’ve owned. After 6k miles of hiking with the other one and some repairs with seam sealer it still forms puddles in the tent when it rains. Zpacks only guarantees a tent to last one thru hike and I got at least two thru hikes plus tons of section hiking out of mine. As you can assume thru hiking really pushes gear to it’s limits. For someone who camps 100+ nights a year it’s worth the investment. My sleeping bag was a total game changer for me on the CDT last summer. I was freezing cold about 80% of the time last summer. Because it is a 10° bag it is naturally heavier than most of the 20° bags other people carry but it is so worth it for me. These are the two pieces of gear I care the most about meticulously maintaining them so they can last as long as possible. I’ve had to patch my sleeping bag with gear repair tape and I hope it lasts a lifetime of hiking. One thing I was terrified to do but learned is very important for long term gear care is washing my down jacket and sleeping bag. If you’ve ever had to do this you know why.

Hiking clothes: Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket, Melanzana Polartech Fleece Dress, Mountain Hardware Sun Hoodie, Salomon Running Shorts, Sam’s Club Leggings

I begrudgingly replaced my REI Puffy jacket because it has lost most of its feathers, has a great amount of patches, and the zipper I replaced malfunctions half the time which I can’t afford. I am sad to not be hiking with it but I’ve come to love this new yellow puffy. I’d recommend a full zip version for anyone in the market. This one is also half the weight of my old one. My Melanzana dress I picked up on the CDT in Leadville Colorado and it’s perfect for sleeping in, hiking in, and wearing around town when I’m tired of pants. The Mountain Hardware hoodie has sun protection. I am trying to take skin care as seriously as I can because of how much exposure I will get. Having arm tattoos is also a motivation to take care of my skin. The shorts I picked up from a hiker box in 2019 and the leggings are super comfy. I’d buy a second pair if I can find them again.

The back ups: Patagonia Beanie, OR Helium Rain Jacket, REI Rainwall Kids Rain Pants, Black Diamond gloves, farm to feet socks, thrift store wool socks for sleeping, active Underwear from Kohl’s

I recently found out that my rain gear is totally useless. To be fair it’s gone through a very significant amount of wear and tear. I might have to replace it (probably should) but I’m not ready to make the investment yet. I hiked through a day of rain this week and most of my body was absolutely numb the entire time. Everything under my rain gear was soaked. Yes, I have already tried treating it with water resistant chemicals to try and extend the life. I think I’d like to purchase some enlightened equipment rain gear pieces but it will be an investment.

Electronics and Misc: Sony A6400 camera with Kit lense and two off brand backup batteries, Garmin instinct watch, Garmin in reach mini, Anker Powercore 13000, Nitecore NU25 headlamp, off brand ear pods, chicken tramper wallet, textured ball for sore muscles, Sea to Summit 3L dry sack … Not pictured: Ultrapod Tripod and various cords and wall plug

I’m excited to learn to use my camera, mostly just to Navigate all the Sony menus and settings. I’d like to invest in a 1.8 OSS aperture lense at some point.; It will cost me about $400 however it would make a significant difference in photography abilities. The in reach is to send check ins to my family, the instinct watch has altitude, barometer, compass, and GPS abilities. I have used it daily for the past three years.

More Misc… Sea to Summit 30L food bag, TP and hand sanitizer, Platypus water filter and 2L soft water bottle, smart water bottles, 500ml Toaks Titanium cook pot, BRS stove, The Deuce#2 trowel for digging cat holes
Leki Trekking Poles, Dirty Girl Gaiters, Goodr Circle G Sunnie’s, Kavu Visor, Buff, La Sportiva Karacal Trail Runners, Super feet Insoles

These are arguably the most important pieces of gear I carry. I swear by the super feet trailblazer comfort insoles. I bought six pairs in advance when I had a discount and have worn them for over 3k miles of hiking. I religiously replace my shoes and insoles every 500 miles. Sadly La Sportiva seems to be discontinuing the Karacal shoes and I’m not looking forward to figuring out what works next. I’ll buy them while I can for now. This is a men’s pair since I couldn’t find women’s in my size at a discount anymore. The visor is to help with further sun protection. I don’t wear regular hats because it’s too hot for me to wear a low pony tail. I like my hair up on top of my head. The gaiters are very important for keeping dirt and dust out of my shoes and preventing blisters in dry dusty desert environments.

Toiletry and random item bag: big tooth comb, night guard for teeth grinding, sunscreen, swiss army knife, titanium spork, pen, travel toothpaste and brush, floss, sunbum chapstick with SPF, Leuko Tape, Nail Clippers
First Aid: Antidiarrheals, Benedryl, Gauze, Antibiotic ointment, back up water treatment, Gear repair tape, bandaids, steri strips, alcohol wipes, Burn and blister dressings, Light load Towel, Super glue and Velcro for Gaiters, Tick Key … Not pictured: Vitamin I
Backpack: ULA Circuit Fanny Pack: Cotopaxi 3L Ground Pad/Nap Station is a 1/8 inch thick piece of foam from Mountain Laurel Designs

This is just about everything I will be carrying with me from Mexico to Canada. Only five of the items pictured have been on every single hiking trip with me. I’ve had to replace almost every piece of gear I’ve ever owned due to damage, over use, losing it, getting lost in the mail, and upgrades. These are the most valuable items I own because they allow me to do what I love more than anything and it’s super upsetting to me when I lose any of it. I’ve literally had a melt down at the post office when $300 of very sentimental items of mine have gone missing in the mail. I’m so privileged to possess all of these things and look forward to taking them all from Mexico to Canada this summer. When I come back to my storage unit and my possessions scattered between Colorado and Ohio I expect to be totally overwhelmed with the amount of items I own to live in society. I also forgot that I will be adding a bear canister, micro spikes and an ice axe when I reach mile 700 and enter the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Don’t worry I’ll post an update about that as well. I’m so nervous to catch this flight in less than 12 hours!

Happy Trails,

Early Bird

Happy NOBO Season!

I started hiking Northbound on the Appalachian Trail today. It feels GREAT to be back. Plants are beginning to bloom and spring is in the air. I missed the rhododendron tunnel so much. My dad and I are doing an eight day section hike of Georgia. My two younger cousins are going to join us for two days for their first backpacking experience. I’m excited!

I’m using this hike as a warm up for the Pacific Crest Trail which I start in 11 days. Dad and I made it to Stover Creek Shelter by 3pm today. This is where we set up camp for the night despite it being so early. We had a big climb up Springer Mountain today and the infamous steps up Amicalola Falls. Dad pushed the pace for our 11 miles. Even though we both could have kept hiking, we decided to stop so we aren’t too exhausted for the next few days.

The trail feels very empty this year…so far. We hardly saw any thru hikers at all today and I was expecting a crowd. Maybe we just haven’t ran into them yet. I have decided that I am going to hike the entire Appalachian Trail for a second time now. Including the 400 miles I repeated this fall, I should have close to 500 or more done after dad and I finish this spring.

Just wanted to post a brief update. I don’t plan on blogging everyday while I’m on the Appalachian Trail this spring but expect a daily blog post once I start the PCT!

Spring Chickens going up to Springer Mountain! Amicalola Falls in the background.
The top of Amicalola Falls.
(They are below us I wanted to get a picture like the one dad and I have from 2019 when he came down to hike a little bit.)

A Guide to Resupplying the Early Bird

A celebratory meal I made myself for hitting the 1,800 mile mark on the Appalachian Trail … Notice the variety

I am writing this post to inform people how I prefer to eat along with other miscellaneous resupply things while thru hiking on the trail. This is mostly just because I’ve had a lot of people offer to send me a resupply package on the trail in the past and they had questions about what a hiker likes to eat and receive. If you check out my “Support” page, an option is to send me some food or misc! This post is also a set of instructions for that. Although this is tailored to me specifically, I hope this helps people figure out how to support other hikers in a useful way as well! Or Maybe you are a future thru hiker? Here’s the scoop…

A hiker eats ALOT of food. I am a 5ft 3inch 130lb woman and I consume about 3-3.5k calories per day on the trail. This is a lot to eat for me. But I am hungry all the time. My stomach is never satisfied and I’m also always fatigued from this constant exertion of energy. Because I have to consume so many calories, I also care a lot about how much it weighs and the nutritional contents. Although I wish I could carry this much fruit without suffering, can you imagine how much 2k calories of apples or oranges would weigh? Too much. The more nutritionally dense a food is, the better. Other important things to consider when you carry everything you eat on your back, is food variety, texture, and shelf stability. These are things for all hikers to consider.

Protein Pucks … Check out the link in my Instagram bio or my “Support” page for a discount!

Here is a list of foods I typically like to eat on trail….

Breakfast: Oatmeal, protein bars, peanut butter, carnation breakfast mixed with chocolate or vanilla protein powder and water, granola, trail mix

Lunch: tortilla wraps, tuna packets (in careful moderation (Please ask)), crackers, protein bars, peanut butter, honey, ramen, pepperoni, cheese if it’s cold outside

Dinner: Mashed Potatoes with mix ins (hot sauce, mustard… literally anything with taste), ramen noodles, protein bars, pre made dehydrated meals, dehydrated hash browns,

Snacks: Snickers bars, seaweed, trail mix, nuts, Drink mix packets,]

Personal Favorites: Protein Puck, Lara Bars, Gatorade protein bars, Pro Bars, Honey Stinger anything, Cliff Bars, Trail mix from target, Dark Chocolate, Airplane Biscuit Cookies, dehydrated dinners (these are so expensive but a BIG treat when I get to eat them), chai tea latte drink mixes

Definite NOs: Hard Candy (I am no longer eating this for oral health), Anything refrigerated or perishable … I made this list because every hiker has some specific foods they absolutely can’t stand to eat anymore after days of eating one monotonous thing that also might smell in their food bag (such as tuna).

One of my best meals I’ve made with things from a hiker box … Vanilla Carnation Breakfast, Banana But Granola, and Freeze Dried Raspberries! There is a big difference between freeze dried vs dehydrated foods.

I try to make my food as varietal as possible because I get so fatigued and need something to look forward to. One of my favorite boxes a hiker friend of mine sent me on the CDT included one of every flavor lara bar along with a variety of anything else included. I got to eat something new everyday that week.

When I get to town the first thing I do after showering and laying down for a bit, is go to the grocery store to buy food for the next week. Before that I get rid of all my trash and see if I had any food left over that I can use for the next section or share with another hiker. At the grocery store, I go to the fresh foods section first to get some fruit and a salad or salad ingredients. I crave fresh food so much when I’m hiking and can only access it while resupplying or the first day out of town. I then pick up a bottle of something hydrating. Anything besides water tastes like candy. Next I see how many days until the next town and plan how many days of food to buy. I pick out all my different dinner options, breakfast is usually the same everyday, and lunch is a buffet of snacks. Sometimes I mix everything I possibly can together and put it on a tortilla wrap with peanut butter. Then I pick out some filler snacks and something sweet to have as a treat. Oftentimes I pack out unusual foods for the heck of it. Once I carried a 1lb 0 calorie jar of relish just to make my tuna salad wraps taste better. I like to have some sort of beverage drink mix especially in the desert where water is not appetizing and I need to pretend its yellow because its lemonade and not because of all the gross things tinting it. I try and pay attention to how much protein I consume because it is easy to not eat enough.

Besides food, other things I resupply on include toilet paper and toiletries. Any guesses on how many rolls of toilet paper one uses on a 2,600 mile hike? Maybe I’ll keep track for you. This summer I plan to be adamant about replacing my toothbrush once a month so I will send one with my shoes every 500 miles. I also periodically run out of toothpaste, q tips, and floss. Sometimes my mom has sent me some things to enjoy and take care of myself while I am in town. Some other consumable things besides food and toiletries that I carry with me on trail are vitamins and supplements. I take turmeric to help with inflammation (specifically my feet), vitamin C for my immune system, Biotin and Collagen to help with my joints, hair, skin, and nails, THC and magnesium to help me relax and fall asleep at night.

The last items a hiker resupplies on can be one of their biggest expenses besides food and lodging… Shoes! and insoles for me. I experienced some intense foot issues on the Appalachian Trail and because of this, after I found a shoe and self care system that worked, I stuck to it. I use SuperFeet Trailblazer Comfort insoles. I have used these for about 4,000 of the 5k plus miles I have hiked. They are the only insoles I have found that have adequate cushioning in the forefoot and also have a rigid plastic midsole. They hold up great for 500 miles at a time and I replace them at 500 miles religiously. The few times I have pushed insoles or shoes farther than 500 miles I have suffered from it. Some can make it farther but I find 500 to be a great average for most hikers. I love these insoles so much and I am so loyal to them that i already bought all five pairs I will use on the PCT. Shoes are one of the most personal items of gear a hiker uses. It is typical to wear trail runners, not boots. Besides that, everyone is totally different. While Altra Lone Peaks are one of the most popular trail shoes, for some the design can be detrimental. Personally I wear La Sportiva’s. I hiked about 2k miles in the Bushido IIs and then switched to the Karacals because they have a wider toe box. I anticipate wearing Karacals for most of the PCT besides potentially trying out a new shoe. I will not buy shoes more than 400 miles in advance because feet change over the course of a hike.

If you made it this far thanks for reading this! The goal of this was to let you know a little bit more about me personally, give you a glimpse into the things a hiker spends their money on, and explain the best way to help me and other hikers you may know!

The best hydrators for 20 mile water carries, some electrolytes and a treat. Notice how tan my hands are? This was in the Great Basin section of the CDT with no trees for miles.
Instant mashed potatoes topped with fritos, shredded cheese, and fresh wild onions I found. Other favorite toppings include taco bell sauce packets, pepper and mustard.
The fancy dehydrated meals I use as treats! Lots of calories and great to eat at the end of the day when I’m so tired I’d rather sleep than eat.

Happy Trails,

Early Bird

Winter Updates and 2022 Plans

If you’re reading this you are probably one of my regular readers. Congratulations you are some of the few who get the inside scoop on what I’m up to and my future plans.

Well, my first month back to work this winter in Telluride was one of the worst jobs I’ve ever had. I was so mad I came back for my third season here with high hopes and was met with the complete opposite of what I was looking forward to. After waking up in a new place every day for months on end and flying by the seat of my pants all summer, I really needed some sort of stability and I was looking for it in a job routine. I almost quit and moved to a different place, or asked to be demoted to a different position after realizing how unprofessional and unorganized my company was in on-boarding a new manager …especially in the current job market and housing crisis? I though just maybe a third year employee at a place with an insanely high turnover rate might be at a minimum taken slightly more seriously than I was (seriously five years is significantly long to stay with this company). Maybe my expectations for work are too high but I’m pretty sure most people would have quit and done something else had they taken the risk to move across the country and been presented with the same job circumstances. For some reason or another (probably the optimism and support from a few amazing people in the company who went through the same phase) I decided to stick with it. Luckily it has been worth it. After the first month of everything that could possibly go wrong going wrong I feel so thankful I stuck it out. I now absolutely love my job! I’ve never had days at work go by faster than they do. For context, I manage a small rustic snack and food warming hut near the top of the ski resort I work for at 11,800 feet. I get to ski to and from work everyday and I feel so lucky for it!

Besides work this fall, I’ve been dealing with post trail depression that has never hit harder. Is this something that just gets worse every time you hike? I think a lot of it has to do with how hard of a time I was having at work, how much extensive time I had spent away from a routine this summer and also multiple close relationships changing all at the same time. Luckily things are a lot better than they were a month ago but oh boy that was rough. It feels completely invalidating to have these struggles when I am so unbelievably privileged to do what I do in the first place.

Now, the news you have all been waiting for! I AM HIKING THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL STARTING APRIL 23 2022. Yes I said it! Now I just have to not get injured between now and then. Yep, I’m more or less taking a break from skiing… as much. Luckily I burned myself out on it last winter and we are not having the best snow year so I don’t feel like I am missing out on much. I was supposed to hike the PCT in 2020 but I tore my ACL and meniscus in late January and spent an entire year recovering after losing all my leg muscles and not handling surgery very well. I’m very anxious about getting hurt again to say the least.

Getting a PCT permit this year wasn’t easy. With many people cancelling hikes the past two years, social media sensationalizing thru hiking, and the growing threat of wild fire season getting worse and worse, the demand was higher than ever. For the first round of permits in November, all the permits were gone in under an hour before many people including myself even got a chance to get into the application portal. I was so uneasy that I didn’t get my permit when 35 per day were released. Majority of other hikers I knew applying didn’t get a permit either. I thought it was crazy that I wasn’t the only one. For the second round of permits in January when 15 permits per day were released, I recruited a small army of people (mostly previous hikers) to help me. My mom was the lucky one who was able to secure my permit. Even after the second round I know a few people who were not able to get one so I am trying to help them get the multiple individual local permits required so they can still hike. It’s just a lot more work and stress than getting a single permit. I do think the PCT should be permitted however I do not think the current application system and way of regulating it make any sense. I will say It’s difficult to permit a 2,600 mile trail when some people will start the hike at 10 miles a day and others will start out at 20 miles a day.

While I am waiting to start my hike, I feel like I can finally start getting things in order. Physically I have started doing yoga to work on some smaller muscle groups, hopefully I will get an XC ski set up for other cardiovascular conditioning and maybe a gym membership for strength training the month before I leave. In the past I haven’t trained too much before a hike but I think it will be worth it for long term success. I would hate to not finish the last trail triple crown because of over use injury. After seeing how easy the CDT was (elevation wise) and getting 3k miles under my feet last summer, I have a feeling if I’m not careful I will over do it in the first month. I am trying to catch up to an old friend (Pop Rocks) from the Appalachian Trail before hitting the Sierras. Speaking of which, so far it seems like it might be a big snow year. I plan to Northbound the trail regardless. No more flip flops for me. With that in mind, I may try to get some winter backpacking and hiking experience in the next two months. I did some on the CDT but nothing I consider technical, just long exhausting slogs through wet snow that reflected the hot sun back on me all day long.

Besides physical preparation, I want to put together a more structured trail budget, plan some side trips, do some more research, possibly revamp my blog, make a gear list and invest in a few items ( a camera!!!??), condense all my old trail content into possibly a book? (Don’t get too excited this will be in the same journal form it is now just available in paperback at least to myself, I haven’t decided if I want to bother putting it on sale at all, after all you can read everything here for free!), and put together a guide of how to support me this summer. I often have a lot of people offering to support me right at the end of the trail which is AMAZING of course but it would be great to spread some of it out.

Thanks for reading and hopefully you will hear from me soon! 🙂

Happy Trails,

Early Bird

Skiing on Plunge

Fall in Appalachia and Future Plans

My 2021 hiking season ended with one more long distance hike in the Appalachian Mountains. After I finished the CDT I went home to Telluride, Colorado for two weeks. I wanted to see the aspens change colors there and get some quality fall day hikes in while recovering from the CDT. On top of the lure of the Aspens, I missed my friends. Two weeks later, I flew to North East Ohio to visit my parents. From there, my Appalachian Fall hiking plan took off. Over the summer my dad asked me if I wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail with him through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It worked out perfectly that I could hike the Smoky Mountains with my dad and then get dropped off in Virginia afterwards, hike by myself for a few days and then meet up with Luke in Daleville Virginia.

My dad and I had a blast in the Smokies. We hiked approximately 15 miles everyday. The weather was absolutely perfect and the park wasn’t crowded. Almost every night was a quiet one with only one or two other hikers. The leaves were starting to turn colors and the trail looked like a rainbow carpet. It was fun to revisit some miles of the AT at a relaxed pace with a different perspective. One thing I had to be careful about was my individual foot steps. Since there were so many leaves covering the trail it was hard to see rocks and roots that could easily twist ankles and knees. In the Smokies, we got to take a rest day when we got to Clingmans Dome. Then we skipped ahead to Newfound Gap. When we reached the end of the park, we returned to finish the section between Clingmans and New Found Gap with only day packs.

After we finished the Smokies, my dad dropped me off about 30 miles south of Daleville, VA. I had three days to myself before meeting up with Luke in Daleville. I took it easy and got to see the Virginia Tripple Crown in perfect weather. Last time I had the chance to see it on my thru hike, it was raining so I didn’t get a view. The Virginia Tripple Crown consists of three rock formations known as Dragons Tooth, McAfee Knob, and Tinker Cliffs. McAfee Knob is the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail making for a classic photo opportunity. It was nice to get to spend three days on my own schedule.

I met up with Luke slightly North of Daleville. He has spent five years section hiking the Appalachian Trail and this was his last section he had left to complete. We hiked 320 miles North to Boonsboro, Maryland. The section along the Blue Ridge Parkway between Daleville and Waynesboro, VA was very challenging with some long climbs and significant elevation gain. We would climb up to 3-4k feet and drop straight back down into a valley, repeating several times. My body was sore and it took some adjusting to the bigger days. Shenandoah National Park was my favorite section I hiked this fall. It ended up raining heavily on us while we were there but it was a blessing in disguise. The rain helped us discover a charming new trail town with a farm hostel ( give Small Axe Farms in Elkton, VA a visit!) and helped the colors of the leaves have an extra vibrant pop. After we made it 105 miles through Shenandoah National Park, the trail corridor became very narrow in a more populated region of the states and went by many historical spots such as the original Washington Monument and the National Historic Park known as Harper’s Ferry. I packed out a small bottle of Prosecco so that Luke could have some celebration bubbles when he finished the trail.  During this trip I also hit the 3k mark of miles backpacked this season (since April) it was exciting to explore some uncharted territory with my body and see how well it held up for so long! It was a miracle I was able to hike so much this season without experiencing any sort of painful over use injury such as plantar fasciitis or shin splints.

Overall I ended up hiking 400 miles of the Appalachian Trail this year. I think I might be on my way to completing the whole trail for a second time via section hiking. I’m sure I will continue to do small sections with my dad and return for some solo time when needed. As of right now I am en route to Colorado where I will start working tomorrow! This winter I am managing a small restraunt called “High Camp Warming Hut”. At 11,815ft, It is the second highest restraunt option at Telluride ski resort. I’ve been working for resort owned restraunts in Telluride for the past two Winters. I am excited to have the opportunity to move into a management position this winter. To be honest I’m nervous and I hope I didn’t make the mistake of giving up my ski days but I’m optimistic that it will be a good season. I intend to make the best of it.

As far as future plans go, I will be attempting to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2022. I need to secure a highly competitive permit in order to do this. I was unable to get a permit the first round when 70% of them were released. I have reached out to quite a few friends who will try and help me get one in the January round when the remaining 30% are released. Besides hiking, I am trying to get a bit more serious about my writing. I want to dedicate more time and discipline to it and possibly continue to write about other hiking related subjects than just a daily trail journal. While I originally opted out of blogging for “The Trek” in 2019 because I wanted more control over owning my writing, I am considering reaching out to be a 2022 PCT trail blogger for the website. They are a well known source of information for hikers and my writing would get more exposure. While I love that this blog has had a small and personal community, I think that writing for a well known name will help me have a commitment to becoming more professional at my writing. Not only that, but The Trek has a whole team of people who have their website running. It’s a lot harder to keep a blog up and running than most people realize, not only that but it costs me money to host my blog as of right now. I’m working on becoming more tech savvy so I can make my blog into more of what I want in the future. I will keep this community updated if I end up changing to the Trek temporarily ( they have to accept an application).

I hope you enjoyed reading this reflection on my fall 2021 travels and direction I’m heading in the future. Thanks for reading this far if you did!

Happy Trails,
Early Bird

Day 149: The End

Mile Hiked: 18

Total Milage: 2585

It started raining this morning around 5:30am when it was still dark. Machine cowboy camped last night meaning he didn’t have his tent set up. When it started raining I told him he was welcome to get in my tent or under my vestibule since I have a two person tent and he didn’t have an ideal spot to pitch his. He refused and instead pulled out his umbrella and sat in the rain. Darwin yelled at Machine to get in my tent because he was being so stubborn and stupid. It gave me a good laugh. It stopped raining by 7am. When I crawled out of my tent, Machine was sitting against a tree under his umbrella watching Netflix. I can’t believe he just opted to sit outside in the rain. He said it’s not the first time he has done that and that he hasn’t pitched his tent since Wyoming?. A long time ago.

We all took our time packing up and getting ready to hike our last day on the CDT. It’s hard to believe the finish is so close! For breakfast I ate a biscuits and gravy mountain house and made some tea. I was running very low on food and had my meager rations planned out for the rest of today and the home back to the road tomorrow. It wouldn’t be fun to be hungry but it definitely wouldn’t kill me.

I left camp before everyone else. The day started with a small ascent through an alpine meadow and then a very long and somewhat steep descent down to the Waterton Valley. For some reason, before I descended, I was getting vibes about being in Alaska. The terrain looked like what I would imagine Alaska to look like. Wild, untouched, lush, and very green. On the downhill I was pushing through a lot of brush. Luckily I had my rain pants on to avoid getting soaked by all the plants otherwise I’m sure I would have a plethora of scratches up and down my legs. When I reached the bottom of the valley, the over growth didn’t really let up. Once again I was clacking my poles and yelling “hey bear!” To alert any animals that may be in the area that I was coming through. Spider Monkey, Fire Hazzard, and Wild Turkey were all walking south bound through the valley. They had touched the border early this morning and were on their way back to the road to get picked up. I congratulated them all. They all finished their triple crown! I hope to be doing the same next summer on the Washington/Canadian border at the Northern Terminus of the PCT. How surreal it must feel to have such a big goal complete.

When I was a mile from our campsite, Legs and Darwin passed me. Before I went to camp, I stopped at the Goat Giant Ranger station at the south end of Waterton Lake. It was really weird to see so many buildings far out in the backcountry. They looked like they were all recently abandoned. The dock on the lake was incredibly beautiful and I was so glad I went out of my way to see it. I thought that if the word “Closure” could be turned into a physical place, this was it.

I forded a stream right before camp absolutely soaking my socks and shoes. It was a bummer after having them dry for so long. At camp, we all hung out for a little bit and claimed a spot with our tents. Machine showed up as well. After about an hour or two we all left to hike the last four miles to the border. It was finally happening! The last four miles to the border followed the edge of Waterton Lake. The trail was still very over grown and the lake was hiding behind all the vegetation for most of the time. I was kind of glad I couldn’t see it. The end would be a little more dramatic. When I finally reached the border it looked like how I had pictured it. There were two monuments marking the international boundary and I walked up to touch both of them. The was a wide open view of the lake because the border was totally clear cut in a straight line. How strange.

We all took our time getting some pictures. I wasn’t really that emotional at all. It just felt great to finally be done. We all sat around just enjoying the moment until I walked down to the dock and started stripping my clothes off. I wanted to jump in the lake. It was so surreal that I was only trying to beat the snow here but instead the weather was so good I got to jump in the lake! I was dreading the ice cold water but I knew I would regret not jumping in. When else would I get to walk 2585 miles and jump into a lake at the end? Almost no other long distance hiking trail ends at a body of water besides the Florida trail. Legs took a video of me as I ran off the dock and cannon balled into the lake. It was freezing as expected but it was so refreshing once I was standing in the sunshine. Everyone else jumped off as well.

The other things I did at the border to celebrate finishing were drinking a YooHoo that I practiced some serious self discipline to not consume over the last five days, I made a fancy backpacking desert that my sister sent me, and I sent a check in message from my satellite phone with a location marker so my family would know that I was at the Canadian border. What. A. Day. Overall I think we spent 3-4 hours hanging out at the border and enjoying the lake. We took some silly pictures with life sabers that Darwin’s mom sent him in the mail as a tradition. Darwin and Machine both completed their triple crowns today. What a big deal!

Around 6pm we walked back to camp for the night. I didn’t want to walk southbound. I wished the trail could just end right there at the border. In a normal year we could have continued hiking 8 miles north to a road and then crossed back over the border in a car. Because of COVID, the border crossing was closed. We were all vaccinated and have our passports but there is no way to produce a negative covid test when it takes three days of Backcountry travel to reach that border crossing. Tomorrow we will have to hike another 22 miles from camp and ascend back up to the fifth mountain campsite. I’m not looking forward to it. At camp, I made some hot chocolate before bed and got in my tent early. I am so far behind on my blog and wanted to get some writing done before I reenter society and have no desire to write at all.

I just wanted to say thank you to anyone who has followed along and supported me by reading this blog! It wasn’t easy to stay disciplined and get it done everyday but it was worth it!

Happy Trails!

– Early Bird

Day 148: Glacier National Park Day 4: Fifty Mountain

Miles Hiked: 23

Total Milage: 2567

This morning all of us woke up at 5am. We got ready in the dark and were hiking by 6am. It was still dark when we left with our headlamps lit and ascended to going to the sun road. Because of the permit system and our extremely limited camping options, we were supposed to hike 34 miles to the fifty mountain campsite. The 34 miles wouldn’t be that big of a deal except there was more elevation gain in the 34 miles than any other day I’ve had to hike on the whole CDT. Not only that but there would be no choice to camp any earlier if I failed to hike the 34 miles. When we applied for our permit we found out that leaving the backcountry including walking on the side of the road would completely void our permit if we got caught. We were pretty much forced to schedule the 34 mile day if we wanted to finish the trail. Getting these permits was so frustrating. Darwin found a way that we could still make it to our assigned campsite (Fifty Mountain) without hiking the 34 miles. Instead, if we hike 4 miles on the side of the road, we can connect to the CDT via the Highline trail from Logan Pass. The only problem is that we would be risking our permit being void if a ranger saw us walking on the road. We decided to wake up very early and take the risk. Maybe if we hike that section in the dark we won’t get caught! It sucks that the more reasonable Milage option isn’t a viable choice in the park services eyes. When we got to the paved road it was still dark. A few cars were just starting to enter the park.

As I was walking down the side of the road I was struggling to keep up with Darwin, Legs, and Machine. Usually I wouldn’t even bother trying to keep up with anyone but I wanted to stick with them until I hit the actual CDT again. More and more cars started to drive by as it became lighter outside. The road shoulder became narrower the further we walked and eventually we were frequently jumping off the road down into a ditch for more and more cars to pass us. When we got to Siyeh bend there were cars in every parking spot by 7am. It was completely daylight outside and when we looked up the curve in the road we were supposed to hike on, it looked like the shoulder totally disappeared and so did the roadside ditch. The road looked like it went up the side of a cliff which was safe for us. It wasn’t worth walking the two miles on the road from Siyeh to Logan Pass and risking our lives and probably jeopardizing our permit as well. If anyone saw us up there they would think we were crazy for sure. Darwin ended up Scoring us a hitch the last two miles to Logan Pass. We squeezed into the back of a tiny Subaru. On the way to Logan pass we went through a tunnel. I was glad we didn’t try and walk through that either.

When we got to Logan pass it was windy and chilly. We all took advantage of the flushing toilets at the restroom before hitting the Highline trail. The high-line trail is one of the most popular trails in the whole park. It is narrow and hugs the side of a mountain on a cliff. It was completely clogged with people hiking super slow compared to us when we got on it. It was crazy to pass so many people while we were carrying big packs with a lot of weight. Darwin and Legs lead the way. They were absolutely flying and I felt like I was running to keep up with them. On the other hand, I was glad that they were making everyone move out of the way for me so it was worth keeping up. It’s so annoying to constantly ask people to get out of the way because they are moving so slow. I didn’t want to have to make people move twice if I did fall behind. We made it from Logan pass up to the Chalet in about two hours. I would guess that most hikers on the trail would take about 3 hours or slightly more to do that hike. We were all relieved when we got off the popular trail with tons of people. At the chalet we all took a long break and ate some snacks. By the time we were leaving a couple people we passed were just arriving. The chalet sells snacks and drinks but it didn’t open til noon. Although we did have time to sit around and wait for it, I just wanted to get away from all the people and enjoy hanging out at the campsite. We made it back to the CDT without getting caught by rangers!

Once back on the CDT, I hiked alone most of the way to camp. I could see legs in front of me but I was going my own pace now. No more running to keep up with longer legs. The trail hugged the side of the mountain again and circled around some valleys. I was on the lookout for grizzlies. The air was very smoky and most of the mountains in the distance were obscured by smoke but their outlines were still dramatic and pretty. I passed a couple hikers going the opposite direction and they let me know that a grizzly ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ was spotted ahead. I was a bit Nervous but I didn’t end up seeing it luckily!

When I got to camp it was about 4pm. I hiked 25 miles and still had all evening to relax! I hung out with Darwin, Legs, and Machine before we all went to bed around 8pm. It was another night with a full campsite and we all had to cram out tents in the tiny tent pad. It looked like it was going to rain but the forecast predicted clear skies. Darwin, Legs, and I all set up our tents but Machine decided to cowboy camp and risk it.

Happy Trails!

– Early Bird

Day 147 :Glacier National Park Day 3: St Mary Falls

Miles Hiked: 12

Total Milage: 2544

Today we only have to hike 14 miles to our next camping spot. There is also a way we can take a short cut by fording a river. So we will only have to walk 12 miles! Because of this, I was super lazy this morning and took all the time in the world to hang out at camp. We all did. I didn’t start hiking until 11am. It was hot, exposed, and sunny. I put some sunscreen on my face. The area was still completely burned with no leafy trees to provide shade. A mile into the day, I left the trail to bushwhack down to the river, cross it, and bushwhack to the trail on the other side. Why would I walk two extra miles in a burned area just to avoid getting my feet wet? When I did cross the river, I did it barefoot. On the other side, a ranger asked to see our permits for the first time. He was nice and told us that the only people who take the short cut that we did are the park employees and thru hikers. He thru hiked the PCT in 2010.

I quickly fell behind Legs and Darwin after the first two miles. The trail climbed a small hill and then descended down into a lively green area to follow along a very large lake. The plants were over grown and I was pushing through them all with my trekking poles. Luckily I was surrounded by leafy trees for the rest of the day that provided lots of shade. 12 miles can easily be hiked in four hours. I was hiking at a comfortable pace when I checked for cell service. I was able to talk to Luke for 20 minutes before losing cell service again. I always have way more cell service than I expect. Surprise is better than disappointment so I always assume I will have no cell service. I passed a couple of weekend hikers. Luckily they were on the side of the trail filtering water when I did. I always feel bad asking so many people to pass them.

I had to go to the bathroom really bad. When I got to a very pretty Creek, I was delighted to see a sign that said there was a privy. I was surprised! After walking near the creek more, I realized I was in a popular day hiking destination. There were people everywhere. That explains the surprise toilet. There was a very pretty water fall. I had my picture taken by a group of younger people my age. They asked how long I had been out for. I told them 140+ days. They were absolutely shocked and then continued to ask me all the typical questions. They were really nice and I had nowhere to be so I didn’t mind. As I hiked away from the falls, there were crowds of people everywhere. At first I was frustrated. Then I ran into the group that took my picture. They invited me to have lunch with them because they packed a large group lunch for the day and were going to eat it at the trailhead. Of course I absolutely said yes. I hiked and talked with them the rest of the way. They were a group of friends going to college in Utah who came to Glacier for the holiday weekend. They fed me a Turkey sandwich, a muffin, chips, an apple, and an orange. I was so happy and thankful. What a treat. I assume it’s the last trail magic I’ll get on this trail. I hung out with them for an hour before hiking back to the trail and doing the last four miles to camp. It was 4 pm by the time I got there. It’s crazy how much extra time we have to hang out today. I am throughly enjoying all the extra time to relax and hang out.

Near camp there was a cool suspension bridge and a beautiful creek with crystal clear water. The group of us sat together near the water until it was dusk. I ended up cowboy camping tonight. I checked the weather and it looks perfect for the next few days.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 146: Glacier NP Day 2 : Red Eagle Lake

Miles Hiked: 20

Total Milage: 2532

Today I slept in again. We only have to hike 20 miles to our next assigned campsite so I was in no rush. For breakfast I ate some snacks. I was still the first person up and getting ready at camp. By 7:30am, I left before anyone else. The day started with a climb up to the top of Pitamakin Pass. The Pass was a very narrow wall between two valleys. There were very blue lakes on both sides of the pass. As I walked along the skinny ridge, I was in awe. Glacier is already everything I thought it would be. As I descended from Pitamakin Pass I made lots of noise to scare away bears. At the first campsite I passed, I stopped to go to the bathroom at the privy. It’s so nice not to have to dig cathodes! While I was walking through a green valley with tall over grown plants all around me, I saw a massive black animal start running out of the brush. I immediately grabbed my ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ spray to have it at the ready. It was a small group of cows. Cows? In a National Park? I wasn’t expecting that at all. They ran down the trail in front of me leaving green diarrhea splattered all over the trail. I was very surprised. At the next flowing creek I took a break. Here I ate snacks, filtered water, and changed into my shorts.

I was leaving right as Darwin and Legs caught up. We only had one more climb for the day up to Triple Divide Pass. I wanted to get the climb over with and hang out on top as long as I can. The last 8 miles to camp will be all downhill. The climb was long and well graded. It went along the side of a cliff that bordered a valley. The trail was decently wide but I was still a little nervous to look over the side of the trail. It was a big drop straight down. As I got closer to the top of the pass, the trail eventually left the cliff side and was surrounded by short trees and ground on both sides. At the top I took off my sweat soaked shirt and put on my puffy while I took a break. It was perfectly warm and not windy at all. On the other side of the pass I could see some very small Glaciers. I recently learned that there are probably only 27 glaciers left in the whole park and they are getting smaller. It’s predicted that they will be completely gone by 2030. That’s not far away at all!

Legs and Darwin eventually got to the top and we all hung out. There was a marmot running around that was very curious in us. He got pretty close so I was able to get some nice pictures. While we were still resting, Cheeto, Blind Squirrel, and Flip hiked to the top of the pass going southbound. They are doing a 40 mile day hike without their packs to avoid dealing with the permit system in Glacier. They have to hike a couple long days but they won’t be confined to a weird camping schedule like us! They are slack packing all the way to Chief Mountain.

Eventually it was time to leave the break spot and hike down to camp. The valley was so pretty with lots of water falls. I hiked with legs while Darwin went ahead. It’s so nice to hike with another lady for once! I really like Legs. We had to cross a suspension bridge before camp that was very swingy. It was kind of fun. The lake was in a burn area but it was still really pretty. There was an awesome view of the mountains from the edge of the lake. We spent some time hanging out there after dinner. While I was cooking dinner, Machine showed up! He was feeling a little better but still not great. There was no way he was going to miss finishing with his friends though. I was happy to see him. Later in the evening, Wild Turkey, Melon, and 12 Pack showed up as well.

Happy Trails!

– Early Bird

Day 145: Glacier NP Day 1: Old Man Lake

Miles Hiked: 17.4

Total Milage: 2512

Today I enjoyed sleeping in until 7am. For breakfast I got a sandwich and a brownie from a small cafe called “Brownies” right next to the hostel. I slowly packed up all my things and relaxed until 11am. I hiked out of town with Darwin and Legs. Machine was supposed to come with us as well but he has been throwing up and very sick with food poisoning most likely. It was a bummer that he is going to miss a section so close to the end of the trail. We are hoping he feels better by tomorrow and finds a way to meet us at camp.

At 11am it was pretty hot. I put on sunscreen and drank lots of water. The hike started off down some dirt roads leaving town until we officially entered Glacier NP. I hiked about 0.5 miles behind Darwin and Legs all day because I hike a bit slower than them. The trail went uphill to a place called “Scenic Point”. It was a big climb with a heavy pack fully loaded with 6 days of food. Near the top I passed Hummingbird, Old Timer, and Day Pack taking a break. There were many day hikers going up the the view from the opposite direction. Walking down the ridge from Scenic Point to Two Medicine was an awesome way to enter Glacier National Park. The view was stunning. The descent down to Two Medicine lake was steep. I took my time so I didn’t roll an ankle. When I got to the trail head, I had to cross the road and walk through a front country camping area. There was a small herd of big horn sheep in the middle of the road. At the camping area I ran into Legs and Darwin. We were all ready for a break. We saw Wild Turkey at a campsite so we walked over to eat lunch with him and three others camping there as well. It was Animal, Melon, and 12 Pack. After snacking for a little bit, we said goodbye and continued the last 6 miles to camp. It was another climb. This time the climb went through a forest and then upwards into an alpine valley. I was yelling and clacking my trekking poles to scares away any bears. A hiker told me they spotted a grizzly less than a half mile from where I was camping tonight. I was nervous.

When I got to camp it was about 6pm. Darwin and Legs were making dinner at the designated cooking area with other hikers. No one else had seen a grizzly ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ. The campsite had designated tenting spots a, a privy, a ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ hang, a cooking area, and a lake as a water source. The tent site we had was very small. I pitched my tent directly next to Darwin and Legs tent. There wouldn’t have been room for Machine if he did show up. For dinner I made a chicken and dumplings mountain house meal. This week I have the fancy dehydrated meals for every dinner since my mom sent me one last awesome package! The lake was very beautiful. There was a massive peak sticking several hundred feet straight up from it.

I went to sleep around 8pm.

Happy Trails!

– Early Bird

Day 144: Two Medicine

Miles Hiked: 5

Total Milage: 2494.6

This morning, Matt, Dev and I all woke up at 5am. It was dark as I got ready. Since I lost my head lamp it was very hard to see and get everything packed up. We all got into the car and then drove to pick up Legs and Grey Goose from their hostels. We were on the way to the Two Medicine Ranger Station to get permits. The Ranger station didn’t open until 8am but getting backcountry permits for Glacier National Park especially on a holiday weekend is competitive. After walking over 2,000 miles to get here, I wanted to make sure I had the best schedule possible. When we got there, Ohm was laying down in his sleeping bag right in front of the building. He got there at 4:30am. I was second in line and then Legs and Grey Goose. Eventually all the other hikers I saw in the Bob Marshal and a few weekenders showed up. There was a whole crowd of hikers by 7am. Approximately 20 people. The anticipation and nervousness was building.

At 7:15am a ranger came out and gave us some clip board with instructions. We were to fill out our information and select campsites based on the most updated availability they could give us. They told us to have three plans prepared because it’s likely that the first plan won’t work out based on the number of people applying. There is more than one ranger station giving out permits in the park this morning, and Two Medicine is one of the least popular places to get a permit. The ranger also informed us that up to four people can be on one permit and that not all group members needed to be present. I was a little bummed to be finishing the trail alone. I’m sure it would have still been just as awesome but some company would be great. It ended up working out perfectly that legs was hiking with two other people (including her husband (Darwin) and Machine) and I could be the fourth person in their group. That way I wouldn’t have to take away a spot from other hikers! I had a fun time with Legs, Darwin, and Machine in the Bob Marshal wilderness so I was excited to spend some more time with them! They are some of my favorite people I have met on the trail so far. Legs and I sat down and did the work sheet together. We quickly realized that due to very limited spots and lots of campsites being booked up that there were no ideal options for us. The most ideal option still involved hiking a 34 mile day. I didn’t want to do that at all but we had no choice.

When it was 8am a ranger was immediately entering Legs and I’s information into the computer system and booking our spots. Luckily we were able to get our plan A option even though it still involved the long day. Lots of other hikers had to choose their second option and also didn’t have ideal days.

After getting permits, I felt so relieved. We drove back to East Glacier. Matt dropped Dev and I off on the side of the road where they picked me up yesterday. I walked the last four miles into town with some awesome company. They flew by a lot faster than they otherwise would have. Thanks for walking with me Dev! Next I checked into the “Looking Glass” hostel where I paid $15 to sleep on the floor and picked up my packages. My mom sent me an awesome last resupply, my dad sent me his headlamp, my sister mailed me some delicious deserts, and I mailed myself my last pair of shoes! I love reviving mail on trail. I spent time alone hanging out in my sleeping bag and doing some chores while Dev and Matt went on a hike. I got things charged, did laundry, showered, and ate while they were gone. By the time they came back I was starving. We all went to the Mexican place again. I had a veggie burrito. Afterwards, Dev and Matt said goodbye and I went back to the hostel to go to bed and make some calls. It’s the last time I’ll have serve until I am done most likely! I will see Dev and Matt when I finish the trail. I’ll be staying with them in Whitefish until my flight leaves.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 143: Bob Marshal Wilderness Day 4: East Glacier

Miles Hiked: 18

Total Milage: 2489.6

Today my friends Dev and Matt who I met on the AT (Henrietta and Herbie) arranged to do some trail magic for me. They were some of my favorite people I met on my first thru hike. Dev has stayed in touch with me a little bit and was super excited when she found out I was hiking the CDT. They live right outside of Glacier National park. What a big deal to have some help right at the end of a long journey from friends I made on another long trail! I was supposed to meet them at Maria’s Pass at 3pm which was only 15 miles from where I was camping. I could easily hike 15 miles by noon but I really wanted to get quite a bit closer to town today. I also really wanted to hang out with Dev and Matt. The best way to do that was by taking an alternate route that involved hiking a different trail to the highway and then walking 7 miles on the road into town. That way I could get closer to town, still meet Dev and Matt and get to hang out with them! There were are so many other hikers around me at the moment and we are all hoping to finish on Labor Day weekend. I’m pretty nervous about the permits for Glacier National Park. Not only are there lots of thru hikers competing for limited spots but I assume it’s one of the busiest weekends for the park in general. Lots of weekend backpackers will want the same campsites as us. I wanted to make sure I was able to get to the Permit office first thing in the morning. Dev and Matt offered to help with that as well. They ended up being a great help since they have also had to get the same permits before as well.

I hiked out of camp in the dark using my phone as a headlamp since I just lost mine a few days ago. Luckily I was following four other hikers who had headlamps and the sun came up within the hour. Once it was daylight I hiked alone for the rest of the day. The others were in a rush to get to town. I absolutely was not in a rush. I wanted to take as much time to get to town as I possibly could. I had told Matt and Dev to pick me up on the side of the road. I didn’t need to get to town today I just needed to be able to do stuff tomorrow. The trail was super flat and through an exposed field for most of the day. I was making lots of noise again to scare off any bears as I hike. When it came time to turn off the CDT on to a different trail, the trail that was listed on the map didn’t really exist. I did some cross country travel across a field until I found a faint old road. I had to go over a wire fence and get to a more defined road. I think I might have ended up on private property and I was a bit worried about it. I tried to get through that part as quickly as I could. I didn’t want to be on private property but I didn’t want to turn around and hike backwards either. Once I was in view of the highway I took a very long break. I made a phone call to Luke during that time.

Eventually I got up and walked to the road and along the shoulder until Matt and Dev pulled over in a car at about 3pm. The shoulder was narrow and the cars were going very fast. I was so glad to be off the road for the day. Dev and Matt greeted e with hugs and a cold drink. The best trail magic. They told me they saw the other hikers on the road and gave them drinks as well. We chatted for a bit and then headed four more miles to town. All the other hikers were outside the Main Street general store. It was an extremely small town on the Black Feet Indian reservation. They were all waiting for the restaurant to open at 5pm. Matt and Dev brought out the ice cream and watermelon to the porch for everyone to share. They went all out on buying things for trail magic at the store. How sweet of them!

After hanging out with everyone, Dev, Matt and I all went to the Lodge to hang out. We got a drink at the bar and enjoyed it on one of the decks. The huckleberry margaritas were incredible. Probably my new favorite drink that I won’t be able to get anywhere except Montana. After drinks, we got some snacks at the Mexican Restaurant called Serranos. It’s actually where Dev and Matt met several years ago. I had a large plate of nachos. We camped together at a local spot that Matt and Dev have spent a lot of time at. I was still hungry so we made some hot dogs for dinner and enjoyed the evening hanging out together. It was a cold night and I had on all my layers well before bedtime.

Happy Trails!

– Early Bird

Day 142: Bob Marshal Day 3: Jurassic Park

Miles Hiked: 30

Total Milage: 2472.6

This morning I woke up to a soaking wet tent and sleeping bag. It was some of the worst condensation I’ve ever had in my tent. I packed up while it was still dark along with everyone else. We planned to hike 30 miles today so getting up early was a must. I started the day out hiking pretty quickly. I always try to get the first ten miles done as fast as I can when I’m trying to hike a long day. Then I take lots of breaks the last 10-20 miles. The trail was flat and went through a valley for most of the day. I hiked around Ricochet, Spider Monkey, and Fire Hazzard for the first part of the morning. At one point I had to cross a wide river and it looked like my feet were definitely going to get wet. I decided to climb over a dicey looking fallen tree instead. Luckily I was successful in avoiding getting wet. At a creek in a burn area about 7 miles into the day I took a quick snack break and filtered water. I put on some sunscreen as well since there was no shade at all. It was hot and I was sweating a lot.

After walking through a very exposed burned area, I went into a dense forest. The trail was very well defined but there were large over grown plants on either side of it for miles. Sometimes the plants were even taller than me! They were mostly shoulder height all day though. It definitely slowed me down a bit and was creepy as well. I felt like I could run straight into any animal on the trail and not see it until I was almost touching it. I was clacking my trekking poles together and frequently yelling “Hey ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ!” All day. I hiked alone but there were other hikers about 0.5 ahead of and behind me all day. I occasionally could hear other people yelling “hey ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ” as well. Sometimes I would hoot and holler back when I heard it. Since we were such a large group making noise I was pretty hopeful I wouldn’t see any grizzly bears. I thought a lot about Jurassic park today. I felt like an explorer with a machete chopping plants out of the way left and right. In reality I just had my trekking poles in front of my face for most of the day just to push the plants out of the way. Getting smacked by poky plants all day is a bit difficult.

I took both my lunch and dinner breaks with everyone as well. It was just a fun day spent with an awesome group of people. I feel so lucky to have met them all in the Bob! I feel like I haven’t met many other hikers at all on this trail and it’s nice to make new friends again. Even if it’s close to the end, I always say it’s never too late to meet the right people. By the time we got to camp it was dusk and we all set up in a flat area full of plants. On the CDT you learn not to be picky about campsites. We almost never camp in a designated camping spot like the AT. On the CDT dispersed camping is practiced much more regularly. I fell asleep to the sound of everyone talking. I didn’t write my blog because I was so tired.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 141: Bob Marshal Day 2: Racing Sunset

Miles Hiked: 27.1

Total Milage: 2441.6

Today I slept in a bit because I was so cold. I had to pee really bad and I was starving so I was forced out of my warm sleeping bag earlier than I wanted to be. The sunrise was pretty, especially as I watched it slowly cast light down the wall. I caught up on writing my blog a little bit and ate some snacks before packing up all my things. I left camp before Darwin and Legs. As I was packing up I saw a couple hikers go by camp. I was happy to see more people around!

I left camp wearing both my Puffy and my hoodie dress. It was a cold morning. I hiked down towards Spotted ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ pass where I passed about 4 hikers waiting on their friends. When I woke up all my things were wet from condensation. The mission for the first half of the day was to find a nice break spot about 10 miles from camp where I could dry my tent and sleeping bag out. The trail was pretty much all downhill. I did have to push through quite a bit of overgrown plants for a while. About 12 miles out I found the perfect spot. All the other hikers ended up taking a break at the same place. Everyone had the same idea of drying out their stuff. It was the most hikers I’ve seen on trail in one location on the entire CDT. All the hikers included : Darwin, Legs, Machine, Wild Turkey, Red Stripe, Grey Goose, Ricochet, Road Kill, Spider Monkey, Fire Hazard, and No No. I was so nervous about having to hike the Bob Marshal Wilderness section alone and once again the trail provided exactly what I needed. 11 hikers! I was excited about getting to hang out with all the new people but it also made me nervous about getting Permits for Glacier National Park. Not only am I in a big bubble of hikers, but we are all trying to finish Labor Day weekend so we will be competing with weekenders for the limited spots. While we were all drying out our things and eating lunch, a swarm of butterflies landed on all of our tents. It was so cool to see. When I went to pack my tent up they were flying and landing all over me.

After lunch we had a very long climb. Going from our lunch spot to the top of Switchback Pass we gained just shy of 3k feet of vertical over 6 miles. The first three miles were pretty flat. When I started going up all the switch backs it was a little dizzying constantly switching directions. At the top of the pass I took a break and watched as everyone made it to the top. I made some couscous because I was so hungry. The climb was very hot and my shirt was soaking wet. I took it off to dry it and wore my puffy jacket for the rest of the day. We all walked 1 mile downhill from the pass to make dinner at a water source. I did just Eat but I was so hungry there were no questions about eating more. I cooked a mountain house meal for dinner. Even though I was one of the first people to finish the climb, I was the last to leave dinner. I was just taking my good old time.

By the time I was hiking again it was 7pm and I knew I had approximately five more miles to camp. Sunset was at 8:20. I wasn’t too concerned about making it to camp in time until it was 8pm and I started descending down a lot of switch backs. There was tall brush and blown down trees all around with no signs of there being a space to camp anywhere. I didn’t have a head lamp because I lost it a few days ago and I was getting nervous. Night hiking alone in the Bob Marshal Wilderness without a headlamp is not ideal at all. Luckily I caught up to everyone else just as it started to get dark. We were looking for a place to camp ANYWHERE. Finally we found a flat spot without rotting logs. There was overgrown brush everywhere but we made it work. I was glad to have lots of people to camp with. I camped with Ricochet, Grey Goose, Wild Turkey, Red Stripe, No No and Roadkill.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird