earthtrekblog

Adventures of Life


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Tails from the trail: Part 2

National Forest Service gets reports of mysterious tree deaths:

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Deforestation seen along the trail

My trail family has started deeming my ability to get “trail magic” the ‘Bookie  Effect’.  This came about after our stay in Hot Springs, NC, where I was hooked up with farm fresh cheese, a car for the day, and a birthday dinner.  It seemed my bright smile, innocent demeanor, and love for life was contagious with the town folks. The group encouraged me to use this strength whenever they deemed it might be beneficial to themselves, or me.
After a couple weeks of good laughs regarding how this worked, or didn’t, it started to morph.  Our group had just returned to the AT from Trail Days and we were regaining our trail legs.  I had taken the lead, typically I hold a good even pace, and the other three, Rikki Tikki, Scribe, and Older Dog, were strung out behind me.  Well as things go, I was a little gassy, and I happened to crop dust the group, unexpectedly of course.  I didn’t think much of it as it was such a small escapee. 

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Brave souls willing to risk the "Bookie Effect"

The sudden accusation of crop dusting from the crew 20 feet behind me had me blushing, giggling, and blaming No Shame (my dog) for what was apparently a foul odor wafting around behind us.  Being a kind soul, who was extremely embarrased, I dropped to the back of the group so as to not subject them to this experience again.
Throughout the following day there was much laughter, teasing and flatulation within our group.  It was a long day of hiking , especially after 6 days without a full pack on.  We covered more than 10 miles and had over a 4000 foot elevation gain.  Despite the climb, our views were limited and with only a quarter mile to go Roan High Shelter awaited us, the highest shelter on the AT.  Again being the sweet soul I am I had dropped to the back of the group, I also didn’t want a repeat of the prior day.  I was more than 50 feet behind Rikki Tikki, who had just ducked off the main trail up to the shelter, when I heard the gasping, sputtering, and laughter rolling through the trees. 
Apparently the wind was blowing in just the right direction to send the noxious fumes through the trees and almost drop Rikki Tikki to his knees.  Scribe ten feet behind him had the pleasure of watching Rikki go through a myriad of facial expressions while stumbling to keep his feet beneath himself. 

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Roan High Shelter

Over the course of the evening I was the brunt of the jokes.  No one would sit near me for fear of the sudden death of their meal, or just residual effects.  While setting up my tent I was aware of wind direction and possible fall out if it was a rough night.  Don’t get me wrong when Rikki Tikki called me out during a wind change I pretended not to hear him, I’m not a complete angel.
Come morning, traveling down the same trail I was reminded that just 12 hours prior this used to be a beautiful trail, the trees were green and the birds were singing, and Rikki Tikki was able to breath.  But there was this new thing travelling north along the AT and the National Forest Service was calling it the ‘Bookie Effect’.

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New measures being taken to try and reduce impact

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A woman’s world on the AT

Coming out here, to the AT, I was nervous.   I was alone with my dog headed into the great unknown.
The trail is your teacher.  No matter how much you know or what plan to gain from it, it is the trail which guides and provides for you.

I came onto the trail with a decent amount of trail knowledge already tucked into my back pocket.   I understood how to make camp, hang a bear bag, cook food and respect leave no trace (LNT).
What I didn’t bring with me was a bottle of mace, a big knife, or an ego. 

The first week was a learning curve as I rediscovered what legs can do (lots and lots of walking) and that it is possible to meet people and in the course of a day know you’ll be friends for a long time to come.  In the same respect I’ve also met people and realized it was fine if they kept on walking.

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As a person on the trail I feel no less equipped than any other person.   There is a common phrase,  hike your own hike (HYOH), which is repeated over and over again as a mantra.  People can provide ideas, information, and experiences but it is up to you to accept them, or leave them, and move forward.  Here are a few things which apply to me as a hiker, and a woman.  MEN there may be more info than you are interested in knowing, than again it may provide you with a good conversation piece.

When it comes to hiking alone.  Go. Do it.  You will meet amazing individuals who will fill the space and you will no longer be “alone”.  These remarkable people will become your “trail family” or contacts throughout your time on the trail.  When predefined groups enter the trail they often interact amongst themselves and don’t reach far to make new connections

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Trail buddies for life!

When you meet these wonderful folks on the trail do yourself and them a favor, don’t shake hands.  During the first week on trail I offended more people by opting out of handshakes and here is why I opted out; having just left a privy I was headed for my tent to snag my hand sanitizer when someone asked for direction to the water source.  I rattled them off quickly and was going to continue on when he introduced himself and offered a hand.  I started to extend mine when I suddenly realized I hadn’t sanitized yet and withdrew my hand rapidly while explaining, “sorry, I just hit up the privy and haven’t cleaned up yet.”
The response was all I needed to know never shake a hikers hand. “That’s ok!”

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There's a reason some privys are not to be used...

I don’t touch hands with other hikers, I don’t reach into offered food bags, and I don’t accept food unless I’ve seen them pouring food from it.  An elbow is the closest thing you’ll get to a fist bump from me.

The “trail diet” is a fascinating thing.  You eat what you see, and anything else which crosses your path, bugs, dirt, etc.  You will be counting calories but in a whole new way.  When I pick an item up and the calories for a single serving are below 150 I tend to reconsider eating it.  I want items where the calories are over 200 and I can make a hearty meal with over 1,200 calories.  Despite this style of dieting I have dropped 30 pounds in the past 6 weeks.  Town days are a thing of gluttony, double servings of pretty much any meal I order and ice cream is a must.

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Thanks for the birthday snack fest!

Now onto the good stuff!

Peeing in the woods isn’t all bad.  I won’t lie,  men have a distinct advantage when it comes to peeing in the woods UNLESS you are willing to step outside your comfort zone and give the Pstyle a go.   I swear by this female urinary device. 

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Pstyle storage. Easily accessible. And cleaned after every use.

There are numerous ones out there but I have heard this one has advantages, the urine doesn’t back up so it’s not a guessing game whether it is empty. BUT don’t think it’s all peaches and cream.  This thing takes practice, some say best done at home, than again necessity pushes you to be more accurate.   I have days which I label my 85% accuracy days.  Yup,  we all have a learning curve. These are laundry days.  Days where I was in a rush or didn’t focus on the task at hand and ended up “leaking”.  It’s ok, in my mind those days are few and far between. 
The convience to be able to stand on the side of a mountain and take a moment to enjoy a “vista piss” and not worry about exposing myself to a crew above makes every learning curve worth it.  Or the day I’d reached a mountain top before the rest of my group and sidled up behind a tree.  Having just rinsed off the Pstyle I hear a cry “did I catch you pissing?! Because if I did you just made my day!” Glad his day was made…

Women, I know you are all thinking about the frustrations or concerns regarding menstruation while on the trail.   Really it’s nothing.  Yes it may require a little extra time to clean up but truth be told it’s simple.  Options have changed and we are better informed.  It is up to you how you want to manage while hiking, using either, pads, tampons, or the ever increasing in popularity, menstrual cup. 
I hear concerns from women about how to pack out used items.  Ziploc bags.  Everyone has their own way, cover the bag in duct tape to strengthen it and keep items out of sight.  Some use a coffee bag to store their ziplocs in, and toss a coffee bean in the bottom to cover perceived odors. Personally I don’t want to carry anything out and find the menstrual cup to be highly effective. 
The concern about cleanliness and this are no different than any other situation, if your hands are in that area, you want them clean to start.  Take time to plan your day accordingly, give yourself extra time at lunch to take care of business.  Personally I opt out of using privys as I find the woods to be more sanitary. 

If you want to go out and enjoy the trail go and do it.  Become one with nature! You will define your adventures!

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After a day of "slacking" it was important to see if I could convict people I'd built up lots of glute muscle!


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Hiker life

In the hiker world there is a lingo you quickly learn.

“Hiker midnight”
Anytime after 8pm or the sun has set.
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“Hiker appetite”
The ability to consume huge amounts of food without effort.
The odd combination of foods which you’d not normally consider combining, peanut butter and tuna.

“Hiker fashion”
Either trail clothing which you wear for a week at a time or the random attire you put on for town days while washing your trail clothes.
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There is also a point where hikers discover a whole new type of challenge, not the day to day drone back in society

What do you do when the “facili-trees” are bare of leaves and you need to go to the bathroom?
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The moment when you become aware you have a clear view of the crew making dinner in the shelter when you’re seated on the privy.
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Your feet get more attention than your hair
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You discover you were photo bombed, not by your friends, but by bugs
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When the weather gets wet your dog gets the rain coat
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A years journey through the lens

“It’s funny how day by day, nothing changes.  But when you look back, everything is different.” ~unknown

The past two years have been full of ups and down for me, new job opportunities, loosing loved ones, climbing mountains, going through knee surgery, and finding myself somewhere along the way.  Please join me for some of those moments while I take you down memory lane.
I have pulled photos from 2013 and 2014 – just to share the true depth of where I was and where I’m going!

***THIS BLOG CONTAINS PHOTOS SOME PEOPLE MAY FIND GRAPHIC***

My life would not be as fulfilling if I did not have my little sidekick with me.  Star has given me more than she will ever know.  She gave me a reason to find my feet again and she is a large part of my next journey.  Almost exactly a year from when I had my ACL replaced we made it out for our first BIG hike, Mt. Chocorua with almost a 3000′ elevation gain.

THE BEST PHOTO BOMB OF THE YEAR

can you spot the intruder?

can you spot the intruder?

JANUARY

Janu art disp

The book collection starts

The book collection starts

Yazhi and Kitchi just 6 weeks old.

Yazhi and Kitchi just 6 weeks old.

 

Winter Pebbles - iPhones can be impressive

Winter Pebbles – iPhones can be impressive

Quote 2

 

FEBRUARY

February brought great things!  I got my new and improved knee brace, this meant I had the ability to go out and do the things I really wanted to do and be less likely to seriously reinjure myself doing said things.

We were both so excited to have my feet under me!

We were both so excited to have my feet under me!

Sometimes I didn't stay on my feet - but Star was always there to look over me!

Sometimes I didn’t stay on my feet – but Star was always there to look over me!

Some things take you by surprise - the first wave did! Was pinned against a wall with water up to my knees.

Some things take you by surprise – the first wave did! Was pinned against a wall with water up to my knees.

Four months in to growing out the hair!  Time to make this FUN!

Four months in to growing out the hair! Time to make this FUN!

People wonder about me - I'm very special - but if you noticed I am wearing very good foot protection now!

People wonder about me – I’m very special – but if you noticed I am wearing very good foot protection now!

MARCH

True preparation for the AT begins - food storage a must

True preparation for the AT begins – food storage a must

March style

I moved over a ton of bricks during my time working on the house.  They were beautiful

I moved over a ton of bricks during my time working on the house. They were beautiful

APRIL

An afternoon of raindrop photography with my reversing ring

An afternoon of raindrop photography with my reversing ring

My VERY FIRST OFFICIAL HIKE SINCE KNEE SURGERY!!!

My VERY FIRST OFFICIAL HIKE SINCE KNEE SURGERY!!!

 

 

MAY

Exactly a year out from torn ACL and meniscus

My first steps on the AT!!!  I decided I had to make it back here and start in Georgia!  Almost a year to the day of actual injury

My first steps on the AT!!! I decided I had to make it back here and start in Georgia! Almost a year to the day of actual injury

No need to say more

No need to say more

JUNE

When you can't get out for the laughs they come to you!

When you can’t get out for the laughs they come to you!

 

Made it out for a day with the animals before I went under the knife

Made it out for a day with the animals before I went under the knife

PBJ is signed above my knee cap - they don't tell you how badly it hurts

PBJ is signed above my knee cap – they don’t tell you how badly it hurts

You can still make it out if you're determined!!! It was slow and not very far

You can still make it out if you’re determined!!!
It was slow and not very far

Enjoying the view from just under 4,000' This hike did me in for days :D

Enjoying the view from just under 4,000′
This hike did me in for days 😀

Sunset after an awesome day on Mt Chocorua

Sunset after an awesome day on Mt Chocorua

JULY

He's so cuddly!!!

He’s so cuddly!!!

This is how you prepare for a journey stack a ton of bricks!

This is how you prepare for a journey stack a ton of bricks!

Termite destruction in an 1800's house

Termite destruction in an 1800’s house

They had me come back in!

They had me come back in!

AUGUST

Second Art show for me!!! Go EARTH TREK PHOTOGRAPHY!

Second Art show for me!!!
Go EARTH TREK PHOTOGRAPHY!

Where you're still to sore to walk get the boat out!

Where you’re still to sore to walk get the boat out!

Rocking out all the up and coming styles!

Rocking out all the up and coming styles!

This pup likes to play hard and dress nice! Thank you RUFFWEAR for your donation to our hike!

This pup likes to play hard and dress nice!
Thank you RUFFWEAR for your donation to our hike!

Sometimes you get the right message at the right time

Sometimes you get the right message at the right time

SEPTEMBER

sept trillium

Sept sunset

sept field

sept skies

A day tromping through the waves playing with a full moon rising

A day tromping through the waves playing with a full moon rising

Sept Hedgehog mt

Sept hair

Sept work

OCTOBER

oct acadia bay 2013 copy

oct acadia 2013

Skiddy didn't want to be left out of the surgery party!

Skiddy didn’t want to be left out of the surgery party!

Oct ETdew on leaves

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MY FIRST 4K!!!

Mt. Pierce - a true fairytale

Mt. Pierce – a true fairytale

Oct pierce macro

NOVEMBER

Feeling so blessed to have had the opportunity to capture this time for this strong and beautiful woman!

Feeling so blessed to have had the opportunity to capture this time for this strong and beautiful woman!

Nov CA

Nov CA macro

Nov CA Skyline

Loved my campsite

Loved my campsite

Not happy about bringing fleas to the puppy sitters

Not happy about bringing fleas to the puppy sitters

DECEMBER

California was hit with major rain while I was out there the river went from pushing out 500 CFS to 60,000 CFS of water over two days!!! The river rose 20 feet!

California was hit with major rain while I was out there the river went from pushing out 500 CFS to 60,000 CFS of water over two days!!!
The river rose 20 feet!

Dec seaweed

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Do you see the caterpillar?

Do you see the caterpillar?

Do you see the "water bear"?

Do you see the “water bear”?

 

HAPPY NEW YEARS!

HAPPY NEW YEARS!

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There is so much to be done in the new year.  My journey has not ended but only just begun.

AT


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Final day in CA!

I am not ready to depart this beautiful and rugged land. As the day draws to a close I realize just how much I will miss the people I have met and the beautiful land I’ve been surrounded by.
Thank you CA for the insights and experiences you have allowed me!

I hope you all enjoyed this beautiful picture of the White Mountains (directly below) that I posted, uploaded the wrong image from my phone.  Here’s take two (bottom image)!

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The CA mountains are a little less green, or so the case was when this picture was taken.  After the rains the mountains came to life with bright green grass and moss.
CA mountains

 


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Drunk on sleep deprivation

There is a point in time where your body hits a state of drunken euphoria, when you are trying to function off a couple hours of sleep a night. I was at this point. Walking up stairs was safer at a crawl, I had a false sense of happiness which can only be attributed to my body working as hard as possible to keep me functioning on some same level. If you tell yourself enough times everything is in order it still won’t be.
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I have been wrapped in a whirlwind of adventure over the past couple of weeks. I made it up another 4000 footer in the New Hampshire White mountains. Mt. Osceola was a fun hike which challenged me physically. The Rocky terrain kept me on high alert as I climbed, stepped, and scrambled my way up. In some ways I was thankful the trail held few distractions, there was no reason for me to stop and pull out my camera, the trail was bare of flowers, moss, or other macro opportunities.

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Summit view from Mt. Osceola

This was an exciting day for Star, since she’d been left behind on my last hike. I even borrowed her boyfriend for the day and Tamarack was along for the adventure. The day became a training day for Star, it was all about trail manners, these included but not limited to, giving way on the trail, ignoring other dogs, not begging from other hikers, and learning to pose. The posing became a very serious situation both for Star and Tamarack. I don’t know if it is the fact that both dogs are absolutely adorable or if it is the dog packs they wear.

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Pup-arazzi

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Never can get them to both look at me

My days streamed one into another. Work was a constant reminder to the day of the week and the dwindling time before my trip.
Thursday came and it was time to hit the road. Hopped a bus to Boston where I met up with my travel companion, picked up the rental car and we were off. Two drivers one car and almost a thousand miles between us and our destination. Twenty hours later, meals on the road, string cheese wrapped in turkey, and too many “no public bathrooms” I was happy to find our motel.
The next days were full of friends and celebrations as I watched two good friends give their vows to each other. The wedding day was one of a kind. Running around Myrtle Beach looking for a white shirt for the groom, or ending the night with the bride tip toeing into the pool dress and all!
I can’t even start to describe the whirlwind of my trip so here are some pictures from the day.

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Sealing the deal

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Palm fronds

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With another twenty hours on the road I land with my feet back in NH. I have less than twenty four hours to repack my bag and hop a plane to CA where I will see the red woods, revel in the beauty of the world and take time to reconnect with me.
I will do my best to post semi regularly with high quality photos from my phone.