You can’t change reality, but you can change your mindset. You can control your reaction, feelings and emotions.
You can’t change reality, but you can change your mindset. You can control your reaction, feelings and emotions.
I sat in my hotel room in Pagosa Springs with my CDT maps spread across the bed. My eyes followed the thin, red line of the CDT. I heard rumors that the trail ahead would be easier and less sketchy, but I wanted to see what clues my maps would reveal to me. How bad did this look? Did I really want to be up there again in snow? Sometimes, I could tell the trail would be safe, like sections where the trail followed a high plateau. But then my eyes would focus on sections where the trail followed next to a steep cliff. I tried to imagine what it would be like… Would it be dangerous again?
I asked myself:
. Did you enjoy the CDT in the last section?
Almost immediately, my legs started to shake in fear. The answer was painfully clear.
I stopped looking at the maps. I already had my answer.. It was time to follow a lower, safer route through Colorado. I would be safer and much happier following the alternate trail at lower elevation.
It ended up being a really enjoyable section for me. But, it was so quiet out there. I only saw 2 CDT hikers, on trail, between Creede and Twin Lakes. I tried to embrace the alone time. I don’t have to be surrounded by people for the entire trail. So I did my own thing, slept in, hiked late, and ran into plenty of moose along the way. I was safe, and I still had a continuous footpath.
I was happy.
I made it to Twin Lakes last Sunday, and Will came to pick me up. I decided to take a week off trail, so I could wait for my friends to catch up to me. It’s been nice to rest at home, and I have been eating so well this week!
I am excited about heading back to Twin Lakes soon, and hopefully, I will see more than 2 hikers in my next section. 🙂
Just a quick update to let everyone know that I made it to Colorado last night!! Of course, the trail is already getting significantly harder. Yesterday, I was lost in a maze of snow and blowdowns for most of the day. I would check my GPS, get back on trail, and almost immediately get lost again. In the snow, there is no trail. And trying to stay on trail is a pointless waste of time. My friend, who left after me, and mostly navigates with maps arrived at camp before me. I just looked at him when I rolled into camp at 9:15 and laughed. Sometimes, maps are just better than GPS. Or maybe I’m just completely hopeless. 🙂
I’m currently in Chama, NM and getting all geared up for the next section. I have added snowshoes, an ice axe, water-proof socks, microspikes and warmer layers. My pack is going to weigh a ton tomorrow, but I am excited to hike the snowy San Juans!
I have a feeling that I am in for the hardest 2 weeks of my life. I hope that I have what it takes.
Sorry for the short update, but a girl needs her sleep!!
PS: Thanks to Will/Estero for spending the weekend in Taos with me. Can’t wait to see you again soon! ❤
I wasn’t supposed to fall in love out here, but I couldn’t help myself. I met him on the CDT on my first night out of Grants, NM. His trail name was Miles, and he loved hiking. What was worse was that he had eyes that melted my heart.
Damnit. Not again. No no noooo.
The other day, I was hiking, and suddenly, the sky opened up and it started to hail. I looked up and smiled. The hail was a welcome relief from the constant sun and heat. I quickly pulled out my umbrella and kept walking without missing a beat.
I eventually caught up to my friend sitting under a tree. He was talking to an older gentleman– maybe mid 60s, who was dressed in a clean khaki outfit. The older man introduced himself to me as “Doug the Hermit” and told me that he had a cabin tucked away close by.
What?? A hermit? Really?? I had never met a hermit before, but somehow I envisioned black robes, and a long white beard. Maybe someone who looked like Gandalf or Santa Claus? Apparently, I was totally wrong!
Hanging out with Doug the Hermit
Doug told us that he was a Roman Catholic hermit and he had been living here, alone, for 18 years. He had friends in “the real world” and leaves his cabin once a year to get supplies. I kept asking him if he ever got lonely, and he would laugh and shake his head. He made it sound like he had plenty to occupy his time.. making meals, gardening, hiking, and praying. We kept asking him questions about his life… and then I asked him if his cabin had wifi and he laughed at me. Whoops, guess not. 🙂
My hiker friend and I had more miles to make, so we had to leave Doug. That night, I camped at the Gila River with 4 other hikers. And I kept thinking about Doug. And the more I thought about him, the more impressed I was with his religious hermitage. I have spent many nights camping, but what makes this whole adventure worth it is that I’ve shared these experiences with other people. And I admit, for me, sharing these moments and trails with other hikers makes it so much easier too. At times, my hiking experience is like a smelly slumber party with my best friends.
We have hiked across beautiful parts of New Mexico lately, and I can’t wait to see what Northern New Mexico has in store for us! Enjoy the photos!
If I had one word to sum up the CDT’s first 150 miles: Intense.
I started my hike on May 1st with 8 other hikers. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that the first 100 miles of trail completely kicked my butt! It was brutal hiking due to the constant sun exposure and heat. Unlike the PCT, the CDT desert is a nearly shadeless landscape. Everyday, I felt like an ant caught under a magnifying lens as I crawled to the next water source. It was painful, and I scolded myself for thinking negative thoughts.
I reminded myself: “There’s beauty in everything. Sometimes you just have to look deeper.” I tried to find beauty in the blooming cactus flowers, or the darting jack rabbits, but it was hard. As much as I tried to enjoy it, the first 100 miles suffocated me. It was beautiful, but I was too drained to fully enjoy it.
One day I literally sat in a water cache box for an hour because I was so hot, and it was the only shade in that area. On the CDT, you are forced to make things work because you literally have no other option. I sat in the box, drank lots of water, ate snacks, read the log book, and pushed on when I felt well again.
I have since mailed unneeded items up the trail to reduce pack weight, and I bought a silver hiking sun-umbrella to combat the exposure. I don’t do well in heat, and I’m going to carry that silly umbrella all the way to Canada!
The trail, and my attitude are both improving quickly. In the last 50 miles, the trail has climbed into the trees again. It feels amazing to be in a forest again! I have been hiking with a big goofy grin on my face. And constantly whispering “Thank You” to the trees.
I’m currently enjoying a stay at an Airbnb rental in Silver City, NM with a great group of fellow hikers. I think we all needed this break to regroup for the next stretch of trail.
Here are my favorite photos of the last 150 miles. Enjoy!!
PS: I won’t have good wifi for the next sections, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t hear much from me until further north 🙂
Whoops.. Here is a long overdue post of my past hiking adventures! Sorry it took so long, and enjoy the blog post. ❤
I start the CDT on May 1st, and hopefully, I will find the time and energy to blog regularly while on trail. Or, maybe I can at least blog once per state? Hey, at least I am being realistic for a change. 😉 If you have any questions about any of these hikes that I didn’t address, feel free to ask away: Rayana@gmail.com
Colorado Trail (2015):
The Colorado Trail was a huge factor in deciding to settle in Colorado. I loved the idea of having a long-distance trail in my backyard. I saved up 2 weeks of vacation, and knocked out Durango to Twin Lakes in 1 shot. I spent the rest of my summer piecing the rest of the trail together. A huge “Thank You” to Will/Estero for all the shuttle rides. You made this hike possible for me, and I am so grateful for such a supportive boyfriend. 🙂
The Colorado Trail would be an awesome trail for a first thru-hike. It was easy to follow the trail, since it was so well-marked. I thought that the Colorado Trail had the best scenery, mile for mile, of any trail. It was a great way to spend my first summer in Colorado. I kept thinking “This is the reason I moved to Colorado!” and “Shit, Why can’t I breathe up here?”
The only “con” for me was that I was really lonely from Salida to Denver. I was surprised that I spent so much time alone in those sections, and I really hated camping alone. Even after all my thru-hikes, I’m still a little scared to camp alone. Eventually, I was so tired, that I stopped caring, and just listening to the elk calls at night, and passed out.
Wonderland Trail (2016):
The Wonderland Trail was a total last minute idea. In 2016, a computer glitch in the reservation system left the Wonderland Trail as a free-for-all. The entire trail was a first-come-first-serve system. Yes!!! No Brainer! Time to go hiking! I booked a flight to Portland and got a ride to Mt Rainier National Park with my older brother, Gabriel. I was lucky to get a permit, but it started at a different entry point… and I only hiked 5 miles of trail in the first 2 days. Oh well.
I didn’t care. I enjoyed a slow start, and then hiked the rest of the trail in 5 days. It was a ton of fun, but I made a mistake in shoe selection by going too light, and my arches fell. As a result, I ended up with painful shin splints.
Just goes to show that even a “short” trail can kick your butt!
San Diego Trans-County Trail (2017):
A few months ago, I joined a group of hikers to hike the San Diego Trail-County Trail. It was so fun to be among “hiker trash” again, but we got hit with lots of rain and cold weather. The group ended up splintering into smaller groups due to weather, and that was a little disappointing. Maybe I’ll give it a shot next year and hope for better weather? At one point, it was just down to 4 crazy hikers bushwhacking our way up a mountain. It was fun, and I’m glad at least some hikers wanted to suffer with me 😉
I should mention, it’s more like a route, than an actual trail. It was a mixture of following GPS tracks near Salton Sea, hiking the California Hiking and Riding Trail, skirting trails and green belts around San Diego, small amount of road walks and one really annoying bushwhack/trespass (?) up El Cajon Mountain.
If you are interested in this trail, please check out this facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/542292329178926/
It was raining too much, so I ditched my camera on this hike. A lot of these photos are from other hikers. I probably won’t go that ultralight in the future. Photos are what help me remember my hikes, and ditching a camera isn’t worth it, to me.
Wow– it has been 2 years since I last blogged!
Honestly, I spent the last 2 years working a lot (yuck). Everyday, I would wake up before the sun, put on my blue scrubs, and go to the hospital. I tried to be normal. I stopped carrying toilet paper in my pocket. I made some wise investments, flipped a house and saved my pennies. And everyday, I would miss the trail. Everyday, I would dream about my next adventure. I constantly looked at Estero’s triple crown plaque over the fireplace and wondered “When will it be my turn?”
I did shorter trails in my spare time and climbed 14ers. I hiked the Colorado Trail (Durango to Denver) in 2015, and earlier this year, I hiked the Wonderland Trail around Mt Rainier. In those brief periods of time, I felt alive again.
During this time, things at work were changing for the worse. A merger contract was signed which would move my job to another location. Worst of all, this new location would be ridiculously understaffed. I was asked to resubmit my resume, interview, and fight my coworkers for the job. Umm… What? Why did I want to fight for a job that would make me miserable? Hives started to break out all over my stomach from the increased stress.
….You know exactly where this is going.
I am free again. And dammit, I’m going hiking. Estero is a wonderful partner, and so supportive of my crazy dreams, even if he can’t drop everything and hike with me again (I wish he could!).
I will be kicking off 2017 with a short ~150 mile hike in California: San Diego Trans-County Trail.
Every year, 15-20 people hike this trail together in January. I’m so excited to experience the southern California desert again, and be among “my people”. And yes, we all jump in the Ocean at the end. 🙂
And, I am praying for a low snow year, because these trails are both high on my list:
I am very eager to see where 2017 will lead me. And hopefully, I can find a less stressful career when I finish. (Maybe a traveling Microbiologist?)
It’s late now, but maybe this week, I’ll finally upload my Colorado Trail and Wonderland Trail photos. I have so much to show you.
It feels good to be back.
Love Always, Acorn
Here is a map to update you on the progress of our PCT thru-hike:
(Yes! We finished!!)
What can I say?
On the PCT, I always felt the pressure to keep moving. The towns on the PCT were far apart, and the days in town were just too short to accomplish everything. In addition, we had to finish the trail by late Sept, to avoid potentially dangerous conditions in Northern Washington.