Sunday, 31 May 2015

27/5/15 21 miles up up and up. Got to the highest point of 9300 ish ft up. But of course for every up (especially on Baden Powell mountain) there is a down. 

However today the second hill was a sharp up then down.... Oh if only I took the road... It was a flat 3 miler!! πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ ahh well its good to build the muscles before the sierra's.πŸ˜… landed up in a picnic site .. So decided that I had done enough hill walking..... And it was time to test out my new air matress πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ needless to say, i was in bed by 6.30pm, asleep by 6.305 and awoke fresh and ready to go by 4.30am.... It makes such a difference after a good nights sleep (aided by a good air mattress).... Even with 'beware of the bear' signs everywhere!! πŸ˜€

28/5/15 I was feeling so good that I completed 10 miles plus x1 mile detour to a cafe just off the trail and arrived by 8.30am (i had to wait a bit before it opened at 9am but it was definitely worth the wait. Pancakes, egg, sausage with coffee and sprite (and water refill). I held back on the Fosters! What is it with exercise and my sudden craving for Fosters? Breakfast was fab though and made even better because I only had 1/2 litre left of water and I was thirsty. I have to say, water really is an issue on this trail. Creeks are empty, no running water and trail angels who put water out - unfortunately by the time that I arrive (the official kick off was in april) the canteens are empty. Today was close .... but ended well..... so far that is .... I have 40+ miles to Agua Dulce.... And unsure if there is a good running water between here and there.

Good news though - finally I may have my trail name papillon french for butterfly.  Over the course of this trail I have been offered several trail names but none really stuck ... But I like this one πŸ˜€ and it came with jelly beans tooπŸ˜€ 

29/5/15 ok, its megga hot, and today it was about dodging the poddledog (its a plant that smells and blisters that spread) and climbing the humid hill.
Although it was great to walk with green and grass around - sadly the humid conditions made it tough. I arrived at my destination around 4 but i knew i hadnt done enough miles so chose to carry on and get the last of the 8 mile down hill to the campsite, out the way. Of course i began to regret it as i trotted down but my motivation was a shower, laundry and pizza at the endπŸ˜€. I am sure it sounds as though its pizza and showers all the way ... But 4 nights out with no washing or shower in the seething heat .... 4days is a long time especially for a three shower a day girl. To my surprise an angel (Coppertone) met us at the bottom of the hill with icecream and root beer ... An amazing man, amazing combination of root beer and ice cream made even better as it was a surprise and completely unexpected. Pizza with fosters was amazing too ...:. 

30/5/15 another shower, laundry and a lovely couple in the next camp spot. People really are amazing and super kind. Rick offered coffee followed by sausage and egg butty and orange juice.
They don't know me but breakfast, m and m's, apples and crisps were so kindly given with an offer for a place to stay should i want a little further down the trail. All i hope is that they can visit London so that i can return the kindness. What a great start to the day .... and in this seething heat ... boy is it needed. 
I left the camp after washing my clothes (and drying them) - at midday and headed 10miles to Agua Dulce. Hot hot hot! It felt (with the added scenery) that i was in a western film and half expected John Wayne and indians to ambush πŸ˜€. The best part of that jaunt was sitting down in the rock hills eating an apple given by Rick earlier in the day. I haven't had an apple for over a month and mmmmmm it tasted delicious! 
After a quick pit stop and resupply at Agua Dulce I decided to make a 5 mile start on the large hill ... With the cooling of the evening sun ... I was pleased to make a start! 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015


So a quick recap - 60lb ruck sac, a few wrong turns, two freak snow storms, getting lost in the desert without water, running out of food, two cups of coffee, non waterproof bivvi, lump creating roll mat, a few more wrong turns ......I think I am doing well πŸ˜€. Nonetheless, 369 miles completed πŸ˜€ and I have met some amazing and very funny people already.

The best lump forming mat ever!

18th may left Ziggy and the Bear....

Felt really good. Must have been that pizza and ice cream before bed! Carpet flooring was great especially as my air mattress has got a hole - which makes for an extremely comfortable night on stones, twigs and anything else that will ensure I sleep like a baby!!. Hope to pick up another air mat in big bear lake - even though I hadn't planned to stop there. 

Oh yes, and I had another first!  Today was the day for filtered water from the creek .... and I am still alive πŸ˜€πŸ˜€. Found a wee spot by the creek for the night, it was perfect and so peaceful with water running nearbyπŸ˜€ got out of bed at 7.30am.... Late late late πŸ˜€

19th may .... Hills hills hills!!! Up out of the canyon.... 3000 to 8000 ft.

I was crazy slow but probably it was something to do with running out of food, protein and energy bars! Always good to test - I can now state that x2 packets of Ramen noodle soup in two days (and 40 miles of hill walking) is possible but not recommended. Stunning pictures and views though. At the end of the day, I landed up in a cabin - no windows etc. but had a bit of a blair witch scenario. 

Big bear tomorrow - beer, air bed, food and coffee πŸ˜€ .... Hmmmmmm heaven! 

20th May. After a 10 mile detour (darn it!) - I got to big bear lakes and managed to find the hostel. Straight into the coffee house and had a latte before finding the super market and gear shop to get my new air mattress... But can you believe it?!? Darn it again.... they only had an uber thin 'roll blinkin mat' that are about as comfortable as sleeping on concrete ... but on a positive it was blue, light and blue .... yes, it was blue. 

21stTried out the tarp (tent replacement) tonight and my lovely new BLUE roll mat. After leaving the group at the exposed site, I headed down the road in search for water and a place to stay for the night.... I found a great place, sheltered and next to the water filled creek. Perfect, or so I thought.

Sadly the night was long and noisy from the wet flapping tarp that at one stage stuck to my face through the insect net of the bivvi and my wonderful BLUE (yes, thats right, its good to keep reflecting on the positives) roll mat that kept on scrunching up into hard balls each time I turned over (currently the muscles require a rate of one turn per minute) so that added to comfort and delight of
the night! But heck, who needs sleep after 20 miles of hill walking with a backpack weighing a
couple or so stone! Clearly not me and set me up for the next day extremely well.

Before .... Hmmmmm..... 

In the morning!! 

22nd May, all was well ... Well,  only after finding out a couple of miles down the track (and a call from fellow hikers) that I was on .... wasn't actually the PCT trail!  Lost again! 

23rd May after several miles walking around the lake I eventually found the very large and empty picnic site. All was well (clearly these are the famous last words), but I was tired after a good, uneventful 22 miles. This was of course until about 3am after a night of animals sniffing and skirting my bivvi and of course my wonderfully luxurious lump forming BLUE roll mat that sticks to sleeping bags like glue. At 3am there was the rumble of thunder and lightning - it must be the famous lightning storms I thought. Great! However as I was safely under the trees! near water without my flapping tarp up, it ensured that for the first few minutes I was able to convince myself that it was a dream. Sadly on the second thunder and flash there was only one thing for it. Up, out and I scooped up my bivvi, rucksac etc and ran to camp toilets ... I waited. No rain and no more thunder. Humph.... So I decided, as I was up, I would pack up and head to the trail. πŸ˜€

24th arrived at macdonalds after quick 13.5 miles. At 10.30 ish ... Big mac, 2 cups of coffee, chips, sprite and a cherry pie that i hadnt had for 20 years. Although I recognised why I had left it for 20 years ... It still tasted fantastic. I mean noddles and chilli verses cherry pie? Of course the cherry pie wins.  

Back to the mountains again, stomach full and pack full of water. I found a nook half way up the mountain... although it may well be a  human litter tray ... It was a preferred option compared to perching myself on the ledge of the trail path .... Cause i know that with my blue lump forming mat and luck - the upshot would be me rolling down the hill!

Morning view 

25th it was 19 miles up up and more up with 1 stoney mile down - the most painful mile ever. It was a mile 19.5 I decided to take a day off. My first full zero (that I had volunteered). Landed up in a motel cabin and after a few beers in a local bar and my first bireto?!  ... I hit the bed and slept my first good night sleep for 5 days πŸ˜€

26th big breakfast in Wrightwood - the world is good πŸ˜€. Such a lazy day. 

Warning!!! This blog is being written on a small iphone screen with predictive text and no scrolling facility! Please refer to my opening post all those years ago! I will update/correct when i return back to the UK πŸ˜€

Monday, 11 May 2015

first few days on the trail!

They lied!

Sun they said, heat they said, snow maybe in the Sierra mountains they said. Nights will be cold, of course, due to the extreme heat and water will be a major concern.

Ahhhh ha ... Well of course that was true until 2015 ... The year of 'freak', shocking' and 'never before' weather! Nonetheless, day 1 was uneventful, hot sun and perfect conditions - so I settled by the trail to start the afternoon snooze between 2-5 the hottest part of the day (so they said)  ... Except as soon as I got my sleeping mat out .. what happened? Yep ... clouds came rolling in and I had to get my sleeping bag out!

07/05/15 perfect walking conditions - warm, overcast with a nice cool breeze..... Well until the evening .... Wind, snow!!!!! Yep, snow!!!! Now this I was prepared for ... ish... With my two pairs of gloves and thermals .... But darn it .... changing into thermals on the side of a cold and windy mountain ... No thanks!

08/05/03 after a very cold night in my uber waterproof bivvi!!?!! I managed to get to mount laguna and met up with fellow hikers that had spent the night at the bar. First point of call was to have a coffee and huge egg pancake - US size πŸ˜€ ... So good. At this point, we were grounded due to the snow storm... So it was time to dekit and make my 60lb pack lighter. So armed with the wise man from the north , visa and a mind set of 'ultra light' it gave me time to empty my pack and send the contents back to the uk and buy ultra light. Every pound counts ... Especially when having to carry 10 days of food and 6litres of water!!! .

09/05/15 and back to the trail with a much lighter pack ... 40lb not 60lb ... Somehow there was reflection of life here. Starting out with a tonne of baggage - handed over, collected and built up over time but here, on the trail, living in the moment, responsible for no one ... There is no need.

10/05/15 Doh!  lost in the desert. Met some bikers who gave me water. A couple of miles later ... With my thumb out, a family picked me up and drove me to Julian. True angels. So before the hitch hike back out to the trail head by another trail angel - wrong way... I was able to have an apple pie and refill my water.
Ok, so there is more to tell here ... But will save that for another day .... But needless to say, there was  a breathtaking and sudden switch from 'happily skipping along' to 'survival mode'.... 

11/5/15 back into the hills ...

What an amazing room with a view... Perfect to wake up to πŸ˜€ ... 

Lemonade /John was an amazing guy - 

Day 7 :

13/5/15 big day today - 26 miles. Determined to make it as close to paradise cafe as I need to collect my new tent (that should be waterproof!).

14/5/15Made it to paradise cafe. Met Carole - scottish lady - who had and gave a couple of british tea bags! So wonderful and amazing how something that is taken for granted in the real world, means so much on the trail especially when the expected waterproof tent hadn't been delivered due to one digit being missed in the translation. They were perfect strangers but so kind in every way - here I was, a stranger in a cafe in the middle of nowhere, stinking after walking many miles for many days without a shower and they offer a lift, bed, food and a washing machine. Now that is super lovely and kind - now would that happen in the Uk?

16/05/15 grounded at Idyllwild and a 0 day so no miles today- yep! Its that snow again! Only the second time that it has been recorded!! (Although i was secretly very pleased to have a shower and bed for the night!)

17/05/15 up devils staircase in snow then back down - tough - slipping and sliding in the snow and slush.

18/05/15 back in the sun. Then it was my first rattle snake in the pathway. Luckily, no fear-man/ incredible hulk came by and literally chucked rocks and kept it at bay so that i could walk on by. Stayed in ziggy and the bear- trail angels for the night.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Shake out ...

.... 10ish long flight hours showing only 3 hours on the clock meant that it was a case of head down and sleep! Probably the easiest jet lag recovery ever.  This morning i was awake at 3am and saw dawn break. Bob our 'angel' is really that, an angel that picks up hikers from the airport and will drive us to the trail head tomorrow - this has helped to make the start of the trail so much easier. Today we (6 of us altogether) packed, food shopped, sent parcels and exchanged stories. What is clear, is that there is a definite common theme with every unique person.

The weather this morning was perfect hiking weather, warm, overcast and dry... This changed this pm to hot, sunny and even hotter! This is going to be the biggest issue to overcome .... Especially with little water around and empty creeks!!

View from the angels back yard! 

The start: on the mexican border - Campo

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Its becoming so close now - the nerves are kicking in.  So, what are my expectations for this trip and what do I think I will achieve?

Primarily, it will give me space to mourn my father who was a key person in my life but up until this point, due to other factors/happenings in life, I haven't been able to so. Secondly, I am really looking forward to meeting others who are similar - afterall what person decides to trek non stop and solo 2700miles across the mountains and deserts of the USA? People who 'get it' and have the same mind set will be on this thats exciting. I can guarantee that 'small talk', 'tittle tattle' and eye rolling gossip wont be on the agenda! Finally, its about taking it one step further - when I completed the 200mile coast to coast trot in 7.5 days, I knew I could have gone on but had other commitments.  This is x13 longer should give an indication on how much more I can go!

In terms of achievement - there is none. I could walk 1mile down the trail and decide that I dont want to do it... It maybe at mile 2100 .., or maybe I will just keep on walking to mile 47900... And thats ok. For the first time, I don't have boundaries, others expectations, sorting out other peoples problems, deadlines or working 15 hour days 7 days a week for others benefit- a thankless task - that I've done for over 20 years. Tomorrow - I will be selfish... Completely and wholly selfish.... And that feels great, exciting and different.