Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.

X

The best ice cream in the world. And more grass.

Trail identity is a funny thing. Every year I come out and hike, I start the trail feeling like myself, and then become a hiker. This time, by the half-way point at Pine Furnace State park, I started thinking of my life pre-hiking like an actor who has memorized the life of someone else, but hasn’t actually lived it. I feel like when asked questions about who I am and where I am from, I can answer them, but that the life I describe is not mine. As much as I try to keep up with the news and learn things while I’m out here, my brain has gone to power my legs. I’ve become a pair of legs with a stomach on top.

It was hot today and buggy, but I got ice cream at Cloudland Farm. For those in the Vermont/NH area looking for fantastic ice cream, check out Rock Bottom farms organic wintermint ice cream—the best ice cream in the world (except maybe the maple or cinnamon flavored)! I’ve seriously spent 3 years looking forward to once again eating this ice cream at this beautiful farm. How satisfying it was to crack open that pint and have a go at it.

There was much walking through grass fields today…Bill Bryson clearly never hiked much north of Gatlinburg, otherwise he wouldn’t have called his book “Walk in the Woods,” but “Walk in the Fields of Grass Snorkel is Allergic To.”

Lost with Collywobbles

 

When we got to Mather Pass, the trail was covered in snow and we followed a  thru-hiker named Colllywobbles up what appeared from the map to be “Mather Pass.”  We couldn’t believe there were no footprints and it was awfully steep and terrifying to go over.

“Don’t look down,”  I kept telling myself as I saw a the steep snowfield I was traversing go down hundreds of feet below me.  “That’s going to be a bad slide if I miss my foot.”  In a couple spots, the snow became so soft that we post-holed (fell through the snow) up to our waists and had to dig ourselves out.

When we got to the top, we didn’t see Collywobbles anywhere, but I did see a recent rockfall/avalanche.

“Oh no!  Collywobbles is dead!”

It became clear that we were on the wrong pass.  The map made it look like the valley we looked down on might connect with the PCT, but it followed a river and some steep slopes—we worried we might face a waterfall and not be able to continue.

As much as I *hated* the idea of going back down the terrifying slope we’d just come up, we decided it best to go down and find the real pass.

By the time we got down and up and over the real pass, the snow was soft and I felt my foot slip twice at the top of the real pass.  We left a note for other hikers showing where the real pass goes. (Note: 4 years later, I learned that a friend of mine from the PCT, Super Dave, had found that note several days later and was incredibly thankful that he read it and didn’t end up the wrong “pass.” So glad that it ended up helping someone.)

Epilogue of this adventure: A ranger we met told us a few days later that we went over the old PCT-route.  Collywobbles found his way back to the PCT in what ended up being a shortcut.

Rocking the High Desert

 

My Gossamer Gear LT3’s in the high desert
My Gossamer Gear LT3’s in the high desert

Hello all from the Eastern Sierra, 750 miles in!

 

The weather has turned horrendous right before we hit the highest point of the Sierra, so we decided to take 10 days off to visit the Eastern Sierra, where I spent 3 summers researching and doing a lot of hiking (quite similar to this year).   Why time off?  To see Kat (my sister), who is driving from LA, experience the East Side Hot Springs (views of snow capped mountains, full moon, hot water, and mooing cows you can’t see), and to see one of my favorite bands, Blue Turtle Seduction, play right over beautiful Mono Lake.  Sigh!  I feel like I’m home!

 

This here is cattle country
This here is cattle country

We’ve been outrageously blessed on this trail by kind people who live in the communities along the trail.  In Onyx, CA, a small, low income desert town, a kind hippie lady let us stay at her house for the night, fed us, sang 60’s songs, and took care of us as we waited out a storm.  A guy we met on the bus in Bishop let us stay at his house, and footed our dinner bill at a fairly expensive restaurant in Bishop.  He said he had spent his youth gallivanting in the outdoors, and this was giving back.  A hiker we met coming off Cottonwood Pass said he’d wait for us in the parking lot and took us to Lone Pine.  Hiking is a wonderful way to see all the goodness in this world.

They’ve got some tiny windmills on this trail.
They’ve got some tiny windmills on this trail.

 

Now that we’re in the freezing Sierra, it’s hard to believe we were ever in the 100 degree desert.  We’ve had two black widow run-ins: the scariest being a black widow hanging right above us in a cave where we took a nap near Cajon Pass.  We also ran into a mother bear and three very small, adorable cubs.  Quite scary.

 

The Sierra has had quite a big, abnormal, late snow dump (snowing as I write this). It should be an adventure heading back there!