Thursday, September 05, 2019

Continued Thoughts

As time continues to pass, more thoughts and realizations come into the forefront of my mind. Just the other night, I was talking with Mike about my failure as a hiking partner on the trail. Both male hiking partners I had on the trail grew tired of hiking with me and no longer talk to me.
The first one told me he did not want to take part in my competition to finish the trail. At first when he told me this on the trail, I did not understand and thought he had just grown too close to me and needed to get away from me due to his strong feelings for me. Then, I read "a journey north" by adrienne hall and had it hit home by her about the need to show the men on the trail that despite our minority status on the trail we women are still able to thru-hike the trail at the same pace as men. Between this and my husband telling me I am competitive despite my constantly trying to convince myself differently, I have come to realize the fall of that first friendship. In regards to that realization, I am also trying to tame my need for competition and keep it solely in competitive circles.
My mother and I also talked about this recently and brought up the idea of women on the trail not only having the competition with the male companions but also within one's self to prove we are worth something. I have never seen myself as a normal woman. Some would look at me and think I am a feminist due to my unshaven legs or my independent attitude; however, I feel I am an individual without labels. For the most part, I try to be true to myself...something my husband reminded me I always need to keep in sight! This brings me to my second male hiking partner.
For the last 2 months of my hiking experience on the Appalachian Trail, I hiked with a wonderful male companion who was kind and giving. He, however, started accusing me of not voicing my opinions around the end of our time together. I am still baffled by this and I guess a little disturbed by this accusation, thus the conversation between my husband and I the other night. When I mentioned this accusation to my husband, he could not believe I would not voice my opinions. He has heard my opinions on many things whether he wants to or not. I guess I am like his friend, Adam, in that regard!
On the trail, when hiking with someone, I quite often adjusted my itinerary to the person with whom I was hiking. In the beginning, it was Montana and I working together trying to see how far we could push ourselves. Hardcore and I hiked together for a week altering our schedule for each other. Spice Rack and I would come up with certain stops we wanted to make and decide whether we wanted to join each other at these stops or not. With my husband, I was pretty much in charge and told him what to do; however, that is a totally different relationship than what I had with the other thru-hikers having their own experiences on the trail. Mike was out there to assist me in completion of my journey!
I may never grasp the idea of my not voicing my opinions on the trail, but often thought it had something to do with not wanting to piss people off. Over time, I have also come to realize I have my father's disease of wanting people to like me. So, maybe I didn't voice my opinions as much as I do around friends. At the same time, I can't think back to a spot along the trail where I needed to have an opinion. All I did each day was walk. There isn't much opinion to be had about that other than thinking it sucks some days and then being taken aback by the scenery the next day! When my opinion mattered or was asked for I would certainly give it.
Those are just some of my thoughts that have continued to plague my mind as I adjust to life off the trail. I am in a phase right now of reflecting a lot on my trail experience. My job often makes me think of my journey as I try to assist others with their adventure needs. The trail has changed me and my outlook on life. As the holidays grow near, I find myself wanting to run to the woods for another 5 months or more. My mind is constantly searching for the next adventure to be had. Unfortunately, I need to keep me adventures to small trips lasting no longer than maybe a couple weeks or a long weekend! Colorado is full of spaces for that kind of adventure, though, and I look forward to experiencing everything I can with the time available! So, keep watching the blog to see what this crazy woman will do next and what I will learn as I reflect on my experiences in the world!

Returning to my Roots

So, I am setting out on another adventure, hopefully with success this time. The last few adventures have been riddled with physical issues leading to recovery of trying to fuel my body back to functioning. My husband convinced me to do overnight trips, while I work on figuring out the physical issues. What I have learned in those adventures is that I have a high responsibility and reliability drive. So, having a time constraint makes my adventures less successful and more physically demanding as I try to live up to the human machine I was after the AT. With all that being said, I am looking down the barrel at my new adventure...The North Country Scenic Trail! In 2011, I did trail work on the NCST near Baldwin, MI. Hanging out with runners in Colorado, I have learned and participated in the North Country Trail 50 run. Both of these in combination with growing up in the Manistee National Forest have fueled my desire to hike this 4800 mile trail that is still under construction and adding more distance. Currently, there have been a handful of people who have thru-hiked the entire trail in one season with many more segment hiking it over multiple years. Over 2 years ago, I posted about quitting my first nursing job to start a new position in an outpatient setting. I have since graduated from clinic RN to working as a research study nurse with Sarah Cannon Research Institute at the same clinic. It has always been my end goal to work as a research nurse; however, this position has come at a time when I am really in need of a good chunk of time in the woods to recover myself. So, it will be with some sadness that I will quit this position with hopes of potentially returning either to the clinic itself or to the research position upon completion of the NCST. At the same time, I may come to realize during my 6-8 months in the woods/on my own that I am not setup mentally to continue being a nurse let alone continue working as a research oncology nurse. With that said, my hope is to start sometime in 2020 on this journey. That means in the next 219 days, I have a lot of planning and learning to do as I prepare for my next adventure of redemption. As that journey starts, I will post the trials and tribulations of my adventures.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

New Adventures

It is time once again to head out on the trail and clear my head! Actually, it is WAY past time to be out on the trail. Tonight is my last night as a nurse at the hospital near my home. It is the place I did a majority of my rotations during nursing school, and I have been employed with them for the past year. I'm nervous about starting something new in an outpatient setting versus a hospital setting, but the hours are better...I think. After hiking the Appalachian Trail, it was my plan to get my triple crown of hiking by completing the other two trails (PCT & CDT) over the next 20years; one trail every 10years. At 7 years, I was already itching to be back out on the trail. So, at 8years in June 2013, I started out on the Colorado Trail, completing it the first part of August, partying the whole way. Two years later, when it came time to be on the PCT, I was accepted into nursing school and thus was unable to venture out. With graduation from nursing school came student loan debt and the need for a job to pay back that debt. So, I was still unable to return to the trail. My thought of becoming a nurse was idealistic with the concept of having only 3 shifts a week I could take week long backpacking trips. Well, working the overnight shift was not conducive to that concept. Now, I have acquired a new job rejoining the day-walkers, as I call them, and I have decided to take a 2week break between the two jobs to readjust to day living and to remind myself that I am as important as those for whom I care on a daily basis. It is only two weeks, and after 2months on the Colorado trail, I learned that is not long enough to process everything, but hopefully it will at least be a start. It has been way too long since I relied on myself and realized that I am pretty amazing. So, it is with trepidation that I start the Collegiate Peaks Loop, but I am also filled with great excitement. I will not be making town trips, as far as I know, but will try to post as I'm able. These days internet seems available in the weirdest places. Stay tuned here for updates. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Marshall Pass visit

This past weekend I did the work needed to go visit Kasey and Liz on their hike. After letting my drivers license lapse a couple of years ago, I finally got around to taking the road test that I needed to get it back. Many thanks to Holly for picking me up and letting me borrow her car for the test. I then contacted our friend Dawn to borrow her car for the weekend. Many thanks to Dawn for letting me use it all weekend. I knew that they were supposed to be getting a resupply on Marshall Pass sometime this weekend, but their cell service was way too spotty for them to let me know exactly when they actually got there. Thursday is when I finally knew that I'd be able to make the trip up and it turns out that is when they made it up there so they didn't even get my text to them that I was coming. 

Marshall Pass summit
With all the prep work done I headed up after work on Friday. I left work an hour early to make sure I could get up there with some daylight to spare. The final 12 miles of the trip was up a bumpy dirt road and I had no access to Google Maps to make sure I was really headed the right way. Luckily there aren't too many turn offs so it was easy to find. When I made it to the top of the pass there was initially no sign of humans, plenty of cows though. I got out and started hiking up the trail to see if I could find a place to camp. Not far up I saw a cabin across a swamp and then I saw a woman in a skirt. Who else could that be, but my Kasey. I called across and she got all excited to see me. I ran back to the car and found the side road that led to the cabin. Their official resupply was from another friend, Dick, and he had already cooked them dinner and fed them beer, 2 bottles of Chimay and some boxed wine if I recall correctly. I settled in and they warned me of all the cow patties scattered about the camp. It turns out this area is a cow camp and there are many cattle roaming freely about. It wasn't too long before the sun set and we headed to bed.

View from the cabin as the sun set against the hills.
In the morning the girls were ready to get moving again as they had been there since Thursday. I had originally planned to stay at the pass all weekend because I thought they'd be getting there Friday and want to take a day off. That didn't stop me from asking to tag along for their hike on Saturday. I had everything that I needed to camp including a large enough pack to carry my stuff so I packed it all up and joined them hiking in my worn out road racing flats. Lack of proper shoes wasn't as bad as it could have been. Some dirt got in, but because I can slip them off and on very easily emptying them was not a problem and I only had to do it a few times. Getting to hike with Kasey gave me plenty of time to catch her up on happenings at home and I got to hear about many of their adventures from the past few weeks. 
Hiking behind my best gal in an inspiring aspen grove.
The scenery was gorgeous and constantly changing. We had lots of pine forest, but would then open to fields with grand vistas. We also went through a couple of nice aspen groves. We were almost always going either up or down, but most of it was not too steep. There were a couple of places with a steep descent and some of them quite rocky which was the biggest challenge for my shoes. We saw quite a few mountain bikers including one through biker. There were also quite a few motor bikes out, especially towards the end of our day.
A panorama along the way
We finished our planned 11 miles around 3 o'clock at Tank 7 creek. There were some dark clouds rolling in accompanied by some loud thunder as we reached our destination so we got our tent up as quickly as possible. Luckily all we got were a few sprinkles as the storm skirted around us. A couple of other hikers came by a little while later and had to stop to dry out some of their gear as they had caught the brunt of the storm about a mile back on the trail so it must have just missed us.

Our valley home for my one night out.
We had fun hanging our bear bag, although we were more afraid of the marmots and chipmunks than any bears although Kasey did locate some scat that could have been from a bear. We also spent more time than was practical attempting to build a water diversion system on the uphill side of our tent in case it rained. Fortunately it didn't rain because I have my doubts about how well it would have worked. We headed to bead before the sun was down. I was pretty tired and fell right asleep.
Kasey and Liz
In the morning we were up around 6:30 and after a quick breakfast we had camp torn down by 7:00. We said our goodbyes and each departed on our own way. Me back to the car, the girls further south moving ever closer to Durango. I had an uneventful hike back and made pretty good time. She is having fun out there, but has been missing me and I've been missing her so it was good to see her and catch up in person.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Love & support delays

We are moving along the trail very well and meeting tons of people.  It is an amazing journey of struggle and fun all at the same time. 

When we planned this trip, we figured on 10mile days.  Who knew we are way more amazing than that!?  We are currently 2 days ahead.  So, what is one to do?  Take really short days, right?  Well, ... that hasn't worked out right either.

On 9 July, we traversed about 15miles to the base of a big climb for the next day (2500ft in 4.8miles).  The idea was to conquer the horrible climb and descent and keep the day short.  Unfortunately, we ended up conquering the whole trip by 11am.  So, we decided to go a little further.  Then, we missed the unmarked trail for the lake we were planning on sleeping at for the night.  Thus, we plugged on for a total of 12miles for the day.  This mistake put us even closer to our 14 July destination & in the dilemma of figuring out what to do...hot springs for 3 days or a day in Buena vista.  Due to catching a friend we made on our way to Twin Lakes, & his friend taking him to Buena Vista, we found our way in to town.  Those two were easily convinced to hang in town & thus we have a ride back to the trail tomorrow morning, afternoon, or whenever they finally get their drunk butts together to head for the trail.  Still, we have the problem of being early to meet our drop.  I guess we will figure it out & have fun doing so. 
These are the simple pleasures of the trail.  It is an amazing journey.  I am extremely thankful for all the love & support.  The little changes and extra days in towns has been fun and educational.  It is all part of getting to know the state of Colorado!  Thank you!