Getting Caught Up…

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Acorn is back.

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.

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Home.

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.

Yep….

….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.

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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:

 

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(Ahhhh!!)

 

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

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | 10 Comments

South Lake Tahoe, CA to Manning Park, CANADA [Mile 2668]

Here is a map to update you on the progress of our PCT thru-hike:

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(Yes!  We finished!!)

What can I say?

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I stopped blogging.  (Oops. Sorry.)
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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.

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So, we walked, and walked.  And then, we walked some more.  We were constantly putting in big days.  I was tired, and for the first time in 5,000 miles, I even stopped writing in my daily journal.
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But, the good news, is that all the craziness was worth it . . .
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On Sept 23rd, Estero and I completed the Pacific Crest Trail !!  We walked all the way from Mexico to Canada –together– and we don’t want to kill each other!  Date #2 was a success!
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Since then, we have stayed quite busy.  We went to the ALDHA-West gathering, where Estero received his Triple Crown award (awarded for completion of the AT, PCT, CDT).  We flew to Florida, bought a car, drove to Maryland & Pennsylvania to see family.  Then we drove to Colorado, and quickly fell in love with the state, the laid-back people and the amazing weather.
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By the end of October, we had an apartment in Denver, and a few weeks later, we both accepted jobs.  We have been busy adjusting to normal life, decorating our nest, attempting to work out, and even adopting a goofy kitten named Clover.
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In 2015, I plan to begin hiking 14ers in Colorado.  There are 58 epic peaks above 14,000 feet in Colorado, and I’d love to fly my kite on all of them!  I am also dreaming of a Colorado Trail hike in the near future (It’s ok, Mom. It’s only 450 miles).  There are a lot of places that I want to hike… The Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu, Alaska, Hawaii, Utah…. (the CDT, someday).  But it’s been a very busy few years, and I look forward to a normal life, for now.
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Thank You so much to everyone who supported me on these 3 trails.  Thanks to the countless Trail Angels who have offered sage advice, food, beds, showers and transportation.  Thanks to Keen for sponsoring me with socks for my PCT hike.  Thanks to my parents for putting up with my crazy dreams (sorta).  Thanks to Estero for being such an incredible partner and a constant source of inspiration.
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Thanks to you, for reading.
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Feel free to contact me anytime:  Rayana@gmail.com or on Facebook: Rayana Acorn.
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Happy Trails, until we meet again!
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To finish this off, here are my favorite pictures from Lake Tahoe, CA to Manning Park, Canada.  You should probably grab some snacks for this part:
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(Nothing is Impossible)
Categories: California, Canada, Oregon, PCT, Washington | 8 Comments

Agua Dulce, CA to South Lake Tahoe, CA [Mile 1094]

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I was so thrilled to see the southbound hiker coming my way. I was eager for any morsel of information about the upcoming trail condition.

“Hi!! What is the snow like on the other side of this pass?”

I crossed my fingers and hoped it would be clear of snow.

“It’s pretty snowy on the north face.”

He paused for a moment, and looked at me before adding, “Do you know how to ski?”

And, just like that, I entered the snowy wonderland of the Sierras. It is a place where the trail disappears and you are left with snowy, steep paths zig-zagging off the mountain.

Many moons and miles have passed since I last blogged. The latest section of the PCT has crossed 3 National Parks (Yosemite, King’s Canyon and Sequoia) and it has been remote with very little internet access.

We have crossed the desert, encountered snow in the high Sierra passes, climbed Mt Whitney, completed the John Muir Trail, and hiked across marshy mosquito-infested meadows.

It hasn’t been easy, but the sights and feelings of accomplishment has made it all worth it.

I am happy, alive, and tired.

Here are the sights of this amazing trail:

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**Thanks to Estero, who taught me how to stop fearing the snow.

Categories: California, PCT | 12 Comments

Idyllwild, CA to Agua Dulce, CA [Mile 454]

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I have great news!

Estero and I bought a bigger house:

We are now proud owners of a Lightheart SoLong6.

Finally.

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No more sharing a tiny tent. No more climbing over Estero to pee at night, and no more awkward yoga poses while packing gear in the morning.

Sorry for my lack of updates lately. Honestly, blogging has slipped to the last thing on my “to-do” list, and by the time I get to it, I’m just too tired.

Everything is going wonderfully. We are cruising along, and this section of the PCT has been incredible! I have really managed to love the desert. 🙂

So much has happened since I last updated.. We took 3 days off and attended ADZPCTKO (kick-off!), and had a great weekend catching up with friends.

We climbed San Jacinto peak recently– 10,900 feet. In one long day, we saw snow and cactus. The peak still had remains of snow tucked away in shady spots.

I worry about the snow that we may encounter in the Sierras. We should be there in a couple weeks, and I hope that we aren’t too early.

Here is a tiny glimpse into the latest section:

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Categories: California, PCT | 2 Comments

Campo, CA to Idyllwild, CA [Mile 180]

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Hello from Idyllwild!!

Estero and I started the PCT on a beautiful day last week.

It is wonderful to be hiking again. 5 months of hiking with a sweet boy? Yes, please. 🙂

I am feeling very, very lucky.

We are doing great so far — the miles are coming easily, and only 2 (healed) blisters for me. Estero’s feet are still perfect.

I have quickly learned that hiking in the desert is completely different than the AT or FT. The terrain is easier (steady ups and no rocks!!), but the heat and sun has forced us to seek shelter in the shade for a long lunch break. I am trying my best to stay hydrated, but it’s hard, sometimes.

Sorry for such a quick update. We’re heading to resupply and have a long day ahead as we climb to 10,000 feet (San Jacinto).

From the desert to the snow.

Hope you enjoy these photos:

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(Can’t wait to buy a bigger tent next week) 🙂

Categories: California, PCT | 13 Comments

Florida Trail: Complete!

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Florida Trail:   January 8 – March 8

I apologize for my lack of updates during the last 700 miles of the Florida Trail.  Honestly, so much has happened, and I can’t possibly update you on everything.  But, they say a photo is worth a 1000 words…. so, here’s 2000 words:

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On March 8th, Estero and I finished the Florida Trail at Fort Pickens on a beautiful, sunny day.

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What did I think of the Florida Trail?

I enjoyed the Florida Trail, but it still involved a lot more road-walking than expected. Sadly, I developed shin splints (from the pavement) around mile 400, and there was a lot of Advil consumption.  It was rough, but I was still able to complete my thru-hike. Luckily, things are healing quickly after just 10 days of resting at home.  I will soon be back to “normal”.

It was all worth it.  There were many wonderful aspects to hiking the Florida Trail.  It was an amazing experience to thru-hike in the winter. Where else can you complete a long-distance hike in January?  I camped under palm trees, encountered alligators, wild boar, armadillos, and a bobcat.  I hiked thru swamps, ate fresh oranges in central Florida, and collected seashells from the beach at the end.  I felt alive.

The majority of the trail, I hiked with a bubble of 4 other hikers, and we ended up having a great time together! We were spoiled by trail angels, who took us into their homes, cooked us dinner, slack-packed us, and allowed us to rest.  I am so thankful for all the trail angels and trail maintenance volunteers who helped us along the way.  Thank you for everything!!

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I met so many amazing people in Florida, but I’ll just tell you about one of them:

700 miles ago, I met a boy with deep blue eyes, a kind soul, and feet which love to explore.  We spent a lot of time hiking together, and finally, after  22 days, I found the courage to hold his hand. We joked to strangers that this hike was our first date.

We are currently planning Date #2.

Yep.

It’s going to involve hiking…

Pacific Crest Trail.  2,650 miles.  

Mexico to Canada.  

April 2014

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I admit that I’m a little terrified. And not just because of the mileage, mountains, and desert.  It’s not going to be my hike– or his hike– but our hike.

In less than a month, we will be standing at the Mexican border and beginning our long journey north.  I can’t wait to go on this exciting adventure with him, and to see where this path leads us.

To Canada.  And Beyond.

Call us crazy, but in the end, nobody dies wishing that they had spent more time working.

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A few of my favorite photos from Florida:

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Categories: Florida | 23 Comments

East Orlando: Mile 395

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I broke the #1 rule of thru-hiking: Don’t run.

We had our longest road-walk recently: 26 miles of endless pavement, cow pastures, and orange groves.

All of the hikers were dreading this section. To our surprise, we arrived to the road to find a trail-angel waiting for us. He had driven 2 hours from Tampa to help us on this stretch.

Trail magic always arrives when you least expect it.

He offered us Egg McMuffins, Poweraid, cookies, and the best gift of all, he offered to take our packs. He would meet us every 5 miles.

Perfect!

We would get to float through this road-walk. I left my pack in the backseat, grabbed a cookie, and then started to run. The breeze felt good on my face, I was weightless, and the pavement of the quiet country road was easy.

It was one of the biggest mistakes of my hike.

On flat and even surfaces, my feet hit the exact same way. I was used to walking long miles, but not on pavement. And my body wasn’t used to moving so fast.. I always had a 20 pound anchor strapped to my back!

It was too much.

The pain in my ankle started the next day. It didn’t help that the next section of trail included 2 days of bike paths around Orlando.

More pavement.

Smash. Smash. Smash.

The ankle got worse.

Since then, I have taken days off, soaked in epsom salts, taken Advil daily, used an Ace bandage, and rubbed icy hot on it. A week later, my ankle is still tight. It loosens up as I walk, but the first mile of each day is painfully stiff.

Hikers are very stubborn people.

When it comes down to it, the emotional pain of not finishing a thru-hike hurts worse than the physical pain of a stiff ankle.

Anyway, I’m not ready to go home, yet. It’s still snowing at home.

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(Update: I’m at 500 miles. The left ankle is healing, but the pain has flipped over to the right ankle. Who knew the flat Florida Trail would be so hard?)

Categories: Florida | 4 Comments

West Okeechobee & Kissimmee: Mile 248

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I was warned about the skunk problem at Liberty Point campsite.

Mistake #1: I didn’t listen.

Typical Acorn. The skunk-infested location was a good stopping point, so I camped there anyway. In my defense, I tried to outsmart the skunks by hanging my food in the trees at night.

Mistake #2: You can’t outsmart a skunk.

Feeling smart, I slid into my sleeping bag after a long day of hiking around Lake Okeechobee. I was seconds away from peaceful slumber when there was a strange sound outside my tent.

I wasn’t alone.

Not only that, but my companions were baby skunks, and they wanted to play. I tried to ignore them. My food was hanging outside and I was in a tent. That should protect me, right?

Mistake #3: Nothing will stop a skunk.

Seconds later, I felt something wiggling under my feet. I stared, in horror, at the bulge of black sil-nylon in the middle of my tent.

There was a skunk crawling under my tent!

What should I do?

Do I kick it? Should I yell? Or will that just make everything smelly? Can baby skunks still spray?

And importantly, why did I camp here?

The playful baby skunks came back at various points that night. At 1am, a skunk nudged my neck. At 2am, a skunk bounced off my bug netting, as if it were a trampoline.

I didn’t sleep well that night.

At dawn, I hastily packed my gear and hiked 21 miles to a hotel room. I’m wrong about a lot of things, but I’m pretty sure that skunks can’t operate doorknobs or windows.

Other than a horrific night, trail life is going quite well. It’s sunny and I’m enjoying the Florida Trail. It’s not the Appalachian trail, but it has it’s own unique traits. Yesterday, I hiked in the sunshine and enjoyed freshly picked oranges for lunch. Skunks or no skunks, you can’t beat that for January!

The trail has been an interesting mix of beautiful woods, vast ranches of cows, and occasionally, roadwalks.

I tried to complain to a friend about the roadwalks.

I didn’t get much sympathy:

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(Skunk photo credit: Applepie)

Categories: Florida | 8 Comments

Big Cypress & Seminole: Mile 92

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After 3 days of sunny Miami beaches, I made my way to the Oasis Visitor Center at Big Cypress National Preserve.

It was time to trade South Beach for the Florida swamps.

(Wait.)

I arrived at the Florida Trail Kickoff on Jan 8th with 12 other hikers. We quickly registered for backcountry camping, ate donuts, and posed for photos with the new southern terminus sign.

Despite the food and company, we couldn’t stay and linger for long. There was swamp hiking on today’s agenda, and the sun sets obnoxiously early in January.

It was time.

I grabbed another donut and began to follow the orange blazes…

…They lead me straight into the water.

For the next 3 days, the trail tortured us with mud and miles of knee-deep swamp.

I don’t know quite how to describe the swamp. It was a “unique” experience. It was beautiful, yet completely exhausting. I would scan the horizon for green palm trees- I knew that meant an island was close and that meant rest! Woo hoo!

Am I glad I did it? Yes!
Would I do it again? Hahaha!!

After the swamp came days of horrible hiking past sugar cane fields in the Seminole Indian Reservation. (Oh well, at least I had history podcasts!)

Gator count to date: 28
Skunk count: 1 (crawled under my tent!)

Here are a few photos:

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Categories: Florida | 17 Comments

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