Hitch!

Go and cry with a stranger! Do it in their car.

Get in their car, completely in. Take your heart out and put it in their teeth.

And listen.

Listen to them say they work too much.

Listen to them say they’re underpaid. Hear them geek out on how their truck works.

Let them crack you open a Bud, even if you think it’s yucky.

Listen to them talk about the land they love, and the wife they lost.

The way they can’t seem to find love, or to make it stay.

Listen to the way death scares them.

Relate to them admitting that as women in our late 20’s, we might have found ourselves attracted to relationships that are terrible for us. How it’s a necessary phase of life, to teach us what parts of ourselves we really need to work on, and because we’re turning into mothers, whether we want to admit it or not.

Let them tell you you’re courageous.

Let them lecture you on how you’re crazy.

Listen to them talk about how hard it is to control their teenager, or run their business.

About how they’d kill for their mama.

About being there when the Berlin wall came down.

About how they got in trouble and cleaned themselves up.

About how your health is everything.

About how family is everything.

How they lost their daughter and granddaughter in a plane crash in Alaska.

Listen to how they believe there’s good in all of us. Though it can be hard to see.

Listen to them speak of holding their baby sister in their arms as she slips away.

Talk about Cancer.

Talk about being someone’s sister, or brother.

Talk about being in the room with death and how it was beautiful, and sad.

And cry. Tell them the truth. Tell them you’re scared too. Show them you’re alive.

And then they’ll walk with you…….Always.

A Photo Tour of the Tetons and Wind Rivers

A hike up Paintbrush Canyon

A hike up Paintbrush Canyon

Tetons

Tetons

My friend Paul from Indiana. Started out as just a hitch hike.

My friend Paul from Indiana. Started out as just a hitch hike.

The Divide

The Divide

Lake Solitude

Lake Solitude

Lunch Break

Lunch Break

Last Teton hike at Colter Bay

Last Teton hike at Colter Bay

The Gateway to the Wind Rivers, Green River Lakes

The Gateway to the Wind Rivers, Green River Lakes

Getting up there

Getting up there

Life is good

Life is good

Lunch in the cracks to avoid the wind

Lunch in the cracks to avoid the wind

Temple Lake, my favorite day so far

Temple Lake, my favorite day so far

Running, Water, and running water

This past week has been incredible! The Wind Rivers! Truly an remarkable wilderness. Dramatic peaks, crazy scrambling over talus and boulder fields, spectacular cirques with bright blue waters, and valleys and parks nestled so comfortably in the colored rock. I hope to encourage everyone who’s willing to get there someday. It’s a magical place.

It didn’t come without a struggle either. We made pretty big miles, 170 in about 6 days. I made the brilliant decision that I didn’t need a rain jacket for this past week of travel, and paid for it. It was a first for me, as a pretty tolerant, cold-weather creature. I actually stopped mid day to pitch my tent and crawl inside my sleeping bag to keep warm. It was only cold rain, nothing I’ve never seen, but perhaps I’ve taken for granted how much the gear saves my life. I always joke about the game I like to play called keep-moving-or-die, but this time, with no break in the rain from 7 am to 1:30 or so, it just didn’t seem like the wisest game to play. Lesson learned. Banjo and I were both just sporting handsome, yellow, vinyl ponchos, the likes of which you can obtain from your local gas station for $2.49. Banjo and I were both being dumb. He passed me in the rain that day and saw me in my tent. I told him I would be fine, just needed to warm up for an hour or two and he tentatively passed on, hoping to keep moving and stay warm. Half an hour later I heard his footsteps return, “Kiddo, I’m being stupid. I’m going to pitch here too.” Misery loves company, its true, and nearly frozen loves it more! We napped and kept in touch through our tent walls for the next few hours and then had a great break in the weather. A reprieve! We both crawled out in our soaking clothes and walked over to the sun spot near us. “We’re going to be ok!” he said. “We’re gonna make it!” I said. And really, the rest was pretty great.

Banjo and I got split up the next day over some trail confusion, but we met up later that night, it was an absolutely glorious hike, and when we got to highway 28, we got picked up by a semi-truck! It was neat! So great to ride with them and learn a lot about the ins and outs of being a trucker. There life is nuts, but so is mine, so we seemed to have a nice understanding.

Another really great thing about these mountains is that I had a three pound bag of cookies to get me through it all! Special thanks to my sweet friends Jocelyn and Mary. Cookies are the way to my heart:) I made Banjo and Stabby both very jealous of my stash. It’s been a great week.

We all had our last night together here in Lander. This town is fun. So many young, adventurous folks talking about climbing and hiking and biking across the country. I got chased down the street by a young man last night, “Wait, excuse me. CDT hiker?” It took us about 10 minutes to realize that in 2013, in Stehekin, WA on the PCT we sat on the same log in the lake on a beautiful day, swimming with other hikers and loving life. The guys and I celebrated connecting our flip and moving on to the flop with some local pints and hot tub time. Then ordered pizza and made root beer floats in order to be true gluttons.

All is well. I am feeling great, and hopeful for a less than 3 day hitch down to Chama!

For the Love

Dear friends and family, I tell ya what…..Wow! I’m feeling emotionally overwhelmed right now, and grateful for it. I just spent the last few days in the Grand Tetons, which was a detour caused by a few minor issues, then turned into a wonderful side trip. I met so many travelers, Paul from Indiana, Bill from Santa Cruz, a fun couple who work in National Parks like I do, and it was all a great recharge. It’s because of the love in all of us. The connection we make, the joy we share, the journey for the sake of the journey and nothing more. Just to feel alive for the short chance we have to feel that way, and what’s more, to see others experiencing it too.

I say this with a heavy heart, having just read that my dear friend, Donna Hartnett, has passed away in a long struggle with cancer.  I gained so much from her friendship, especially watching her continue to have so much love to give us all through her illness. It was incredible to be close to her for the last few months of her life. I’m honored and touched to be a friend of hers. I’m about to go into the Wind River range and I feel like I’ll get to be with her in a strange way.

I think the very most we can get out of our short time on this earth is the chance to mean something to one another. I’m thinking of the love in my life today, feeling so lucky.

For the Love!!!PCT- Glacier 236

Strange Magic

The last few weeks have been a bit of a challenge for me. I would have said just psychologically, but then I did some math and realized, its probably more physical than I realize. Probably just been pushing it too much. The landscape has been gorgeous, but steep and overgrown. The bugs are doing what they do, this time of year. The heat it rather intense. Meanwhile, me and the guys have been pushing 27 mile days and it’s been wearing on me more than I knew.

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Storm Lake Pass

Until I called Mamma. That’s when it all came crashing down in the usual 5-year-old way. Sorry Mamma, but thanks for being so supportive and encouraging. I was threatening that I don’t even know why I do this and that I feel irresponsible for leaving Max (the cat) behind and needing so much help from my friends and family to keep this journey continuing. I said that I feel a shift in myself, that adventure is not as important as I once thought it was. Which is true. Family matters more. Love matters more. So how can I keep doing this, when I know it doesn’t really matter.

Then, really great things started happening. I told the guys I needed a day off in West Yellowstone. We hitched in for the 4th of July, drank beer, met great people, saw fireworks. Then we arranged a slack pack the next day, which takes a lot of the pressure off and reminds me of the love without the pain. I had some incredible chance meetings in West Yellowstone that reminded me of the passion behind this. Saw that sparkle in another trail runners’ eyes that reminds me how lucky I am to get to do this. Made some great connections. I let myself be still, and focus on what’s underneath it all.

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Banjo blending in at West Yellowstone

The Wyoming border

The Wyoming border

Then I carried on with Banjo and Stabby for the next day and a half. We crossed the Wyoming border and had a little celebration there. We enjoyed the luxuries of Old Faithful, (ice cream, beer, etc.) and then they carried on while I awaited my guaranteed package of new shoes at the post office. One might speculate that much of my crappy attitude has come from walking over 1400 miles in the same pair of Keens. Alas, the package did not come, despite the guarantee.  The guys had already left, not knowing I am stuck here in Old Faithful for the next days post. They are probably worried, but I know I’ll catch them in Dubois. It would seem like a stressful situation, but honestly, it’s quite the gift!

The magic I received here is unbelievable! I was allowed to stay in employee housing here at the lodge. I never dreamed there would be a way to drop in to one of the most popular attractions in America and get  a room for 5 bucks! I was given meal tickets by other employees, met some great adventurers and talked trails a bit, and then was treated to dinner by the nicest couple, Lori and Geno, from California. I really enjoyed talking with them. We had wine by the piano after dinner and played guess that tune. Which was great! I met the pianist, and talked theater a bit with her. She invited me to sing. We ended up doing three Joni Mitchell tunes and it was lovely to be with the music for a while. I miss it! I had the greatest sleep of my trail so far, and am feeling charged and inspired. Feeling like all of these delays are teaching me some important things. Let it go. Trust. Be grateful. The rest will come.

Thank you for the love friends, family, and strangers. I’m so aware of it.

A ridge camp

A ridge camp