All Journeys Must End…

My homesickness has gotten the better of me and I am giving up my dreams of becoming a thru hiker. I am currently on a bus, heading back to Texas to be with my family. I will certainly come back and complete the trail but intend to do so in more manageable increments with my husband by my side.


I have thought long and hard about this decision and have really had to reframe my perspective. I do not see this as a failure, although I am falling 1,650 miles short of my goal. Quite the contrary, for my first backpacking trip I would say the 1,010 miles I have trekked were a huge success. I came out here hoping to become more confident, more adaptable and more open and have shattered each of these goals. I am confident that I could continue on and make it to Canada, and do so very happily, but at this point would be doing it to prove something to others and not because it is what I truly desire. The points which needed making I have made to myself. Frankly, anyone who sees me as incapable or weak for “only” walking 1,000 miles can deep-throat a cactus.

I came out here to run away, to escape my life. I’m walking back serenely, with an inner peace and confidence I could never have dreamt of prior to my three months in nature. My perspective has evolved. I am more than I thought I was. I am so proud of the man that I am. I cannot wait to return and experience the rest of what the trail has to offer.

I thank you all once again for your support and encouragement. I am so incredibly humbled and grateful for the time I had out here and the bonds I have formed. I met some truly amazing people and anticipate we will be friends for life. To my family still on the trail, I am rooting for you. I wish you the best. Godspeed to Canada, I look forward to living vicariously through the rest of your journeys until it is time for my next.

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The Sierras

The Sierras have truly blown my mind and exceeded all my expectations. I am having the time of my life. I finally have my trail legs under me and have been consistently busting out 20 mile days. I am half way through California.

Mornings have been incredibly hard, daily I wake up homesick, I miss my husband, I miss my cat, I miss my friends. I pack up and walk through some of the most beautiful scenery I have seen in my life and it lifts my spirits. I go to bed nightly sore, exhausted, and feeling like the king of the world. I passed the 900 mile marker yesterday and have found the most wonderful trail family to share in my adventure.

I am currently hiking with Snow White, Turtle, Crouton, Road-kill and Bird man. Their enthusiasm and positivity have kept me sane and moving. They are are a really great crew and hysterical, I could not ask for a better group to hike with. It is a nice change of pace from all the alone time.

I never want to leave the Sierras. I love the mountains, the trees, the wildlife and the Alpine lakes. Today we are parked in Mammoth, CA at an AirBNB. I finally feel like a true hiker. I came into this experience green and out of my element, it is my first true backpacking trip. I am flying by the day hikers and JMT hikers and my legs do not feel like my own, they are solid and strong. I am grateful for my body, I have put it through the ringer but it is truly rising to the occasion. I am in the best shape of my life and only getting stronger. Less than 200 miles and I am out of the Sierras and into Northern California.

I am determined to make it to Canada and am on pace to do so. I am still so humbled and grateful for this experience, it has been everything I expected and more. I am eager to see what is still to come.

Kennedy Meadows

The last section has been incredibly intense. Long water carries, very hot days and very little shade to be found. The intensity of the hike really made me question being out here. Some days were absolutely miserable, but I changed my attitude, hiked when I wanted to, napped when I didn’t and took my time through the more grueling sections. I made it through the desert to Kennedy Meadows, where I was greeted with applause from all the hikers on the patio. What a fun tradition, it was just the boost I needed. I am delighted to be entering the Sierras. The transition walking in was incredible, first trees started popping up in the landscape then I walked along my first legitimate river of the trail. Moving forward I will only have to carry a liter or two of water rather than five or six. I will not miss the weight.

Today I will pick up my bear can and resupply and tomorrow I will head out. The desert was incredible, at times it was beautiful and at times it felt like absolute hell. I am filled with joy to be finished but will miss the sunsets, the wildlife and the flowers. I am so grateful to all the trail angels who hosted me and took time from thier busy days to surprise us on trail with food, beers, Gatorade and water.

The community of hikers and angels is truly amazing and has restored my faith in humanity. I am enjoying my rest and cheeseburger but feel renewed and am ready to get moving once more. I am excited to see what the Sierras have in store for me. The amount of beauty I am walking into may cause a meltdown of my camera. Updates will become less frequent as cellphone coverage and WiFi will be much more scarce moving forward. Thank you all again for your support and encouragement! It makes the walking easier.

All by myself…

Immediately after publishing my last post I talked to Ant Farm and she informed me she was leaving the trail. I was very disappointed but supported her decision, and off she went to Los Angeles. I am hopeful that after a little time off she misses being homeless and will come back, but time will tell.

Dan’s departure put me into a bit of a funk. Shortly after however, in came Michelle and her boyfriend Brenton to save the day. They picked me up from my hippy daycare, took me to dinner at the Heart and Soul cafe and brought me a bottle of Rosé and some truly amazing brownies to enjoy. I hiked out late and had a freaky night. The desert is really an exciting place at after the sun sets. I saw lots of freaky new bugs and got a view of a creepy pair of eyes and what looked like a feline silhouette running into the bushes. I sang loudly and made lots of noise the next couple miles while rationalizing that it was too small to be a mountain lion and I probably wasn’t going to die. More likely a bobcat or possibly a sweet house cat? I set up my tent for the first time in a couple of weeks after seeing in my headlamp what had been crawling on me in the night and have not cowboy camped since.

I hiked the next few days, they were fairly uneventful. Water sources were scarce and questionable but other than that it was very enjoyable

Three days and 50 miles later I have arrived at Hiker Town. Last night I paid $10 to sleep in the Flower Shoppe and get out of the wind. The $10 also covered an indoor shower and load of bucket laundry which is currently drying on the line. Refreshed I will head out this evening for the section I have been dreading most. I will be hiking on the LA Aqueduct and into the Mohave Desert. I plan on hiking 22 miles through the night to avoid the heat and burning sun. Less than 200 miles and I am in the Sierra’s. I cannot wait.

Home is where your poo trowel is…

The time that has passed since my last post has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. We rested at the Budpharm for a couple of days while Anne prepared to leave. We said our goodbyes to Anne and wished her well, then Sierra, Dan and I hiked out and onward.

Sierra, after completing eight miles gave in to her pains and made the difficult decision to leave the trail and allow her body to heal. Dan (now trail named Ant Farm after eating infested Fritos) and I pressed onward. We summited Mount Baden Powell that evening, at 9339 feet in elevation, it was named for the founder of Boy Scouting. The following morning we were greeted with trail magic, not once, but twice. It was a real score and boost to our morale after the loss of our friends and hiking partners and the difficult uphill climb. The following day we still decided to take some time for our mental health and go to breakfast. We hiked two miles down the highway to a local biker bar and eatery. There we were able to meet up with my old friend Michelle who drove in to bring us wine, snacks and a great day of conversation. She also kindly drove us to McDonalds and dropped us back on the trail. It was a real treat seeing her after having not for several years. We are hopeful she will come join us for a night or two on trail in the future. Renewed, we hit the trail again.

The heat was close to unbearable throughout the next few days forcing us to hike later into the evening and siesta in the shade through the hot afternoon hours. We got to see Vasquez rocks, famous from Star Wars, Westworld and countless other shows and movies. As well as what I assume was a movie set in a nearby valley where they had several vehicles, half a plane and we got to see an explosion. We hiked the next section of the trail to Hiker Heaven where we rested for a few hours and were rewarded with showers and fresh laundry before heading out once more. I made the mistake of consuming a twelve inch meat lovers pizza before leaving town and spent the next several hours projectile vomiting up the mountain due to the heat. I experienced some gastrointestinal distress and realized I lost my poop trowel.

The next day we set off in the morning and found shade around noon to rest. We were awoken from our afternoon siesta by another hiker who informed us a wildfire had broken out in the section we had just hiked and we should get moving if we did not want to burn alive. We quickly gathered our things and continued the climb and then descent to safety in the hottest part of the day. Exhausted and low on water we found a campsite around five and called it a night. We awoke at five AM and hit the trail while it was cool enough to do so. We hiked the last four miles to our next water source and downed several liters each. Tonight we are resting at Casa De Luna, a “hippie daycare” set up at a local trail angels house in Green Valley. My love affair with the desert is over, I am ready to be done with Southern California and to reach the Sierras where shade and water are plentiful and the temperature is more manageable. We still have to hike the LA Aqueduct and Mohave which will most definitely be the most harsh and challenging sections we have experienced so far. As it stands now we are looking at a several long water carries to finish the desert, including one stretch of 42 miles with no water source. I am hopeful water caches will be refilled prior and we will not have to carry quite so much weight. Time will tell.

My Trail Family

My ankle has returned to normal size and I am finally getting back into the swing of things.

Anne and I hiked out from Big Bear after a brief hunt to find the buried treasure (wine) left for me by friends who were ahead on the trail. We enjoyed some beautiful views after our fire closure detour around the ravaged forest. It was so nice walking amongst trees. We enjoyed the shade and reprieve from the desert while it lasted. A couple days in we arrived at Splinter’s Cabin, my favorite campsite to date. We camped alongside the river, it was beautiful, tranquil and I never wanted to leave.

Anne had a bone pop out of her foot prior to Idyllwild, and after a couple weeks rest and having a doctor tape it back into place she continued along on the tail with me. The morning we left Splinter’s she had determined the pain was too much and decided, sadly to leave the trail. I hiked on without her, passing the 300 mile mark and managing a 15 mile day (my longest since my injury) with a few hours break at Deep Creek Hot Springs. The springs were beautiful! Six spring fed hot tubs cascading down into one another before emptying into the river, each one slightly cooler than the last. The combination of the heat and a swim in the cold river did wonders for my aching body. Unfortunately I have no pictures to share due to the fact that the area is clothing optional and I did not want to be perceived as a pervert, take my word for it however that the entire area was absolutely breathtaking.

That evening, when setting up camp I received a text from Anne stating that she regretted her decision to leave and would like to give it one more try. I was ecstatic and woke up the following morning to hike fifteen more miles to be reunited with my incredible hiking partner. I caught her at Silverwood Lake Picnic area where we enjoyed beautiful views of the water as well as pizza and beer delivered from a local pizzeria. We cowboy camped, and were awoken at 2AM by rain. We had a good laugh at ourselves for not setting up our tents as we suspected it might happen but managed to set up our rain cover without leaving the comfort of our sleeping bags. In the morning Anne’s foot was not any better and she determined it would not be wise to continue.

Not ready to say goodbye we skipped 13 miles of trail and took an Uber to Cajon Pass to enjoy some McDonald’s together. After 3,400 calories of McMuffins, McChickens, McDoubles and fries I was feeling great! Anne however was still not 100 percent. We moved onward to The Budpharm, an oasis run by a trail angel named Dave. He offers hikers a place to stay, rides to and from town, meals, laundry and showers for donation. We spent the day enjoying the company of his dogs, donkeys, chickens and cats as well as the company of fellow thru hikers.

Anne will once again be leaving the trail and enjoy the remainder of her time here in the US in a less intense manner before departing home to Germany. The silver lining to Anne’s departure was that Sierra and Danielle could not let her leave without saying goodbye. Those crazy girls decided to hitch hike from Big Bear, nearly one hundred miles to join us at The Budpharm to say thier goodbyes and ensure I did not have to continue on alone. I am incredibly sad at the loss of a member of my trail family but I am so glad she is determined to take care of her body and make the best of the situation.

I am also incredibly grateful to be reunited with the comedy duo pictured above who I feared I might not see again. After our rest we will continue on, 360 miles of trail covered, leaving just a little over 300 remaining before I leave the desert behind and enter the Sierra’s. I cannot wait.

Rattlesnakes, brutal heat, and neo-nazis?

It has been a great week. Anne and I could not find the motivation to leave Cabazon as intended and ended up spending the night at the Indian Casino and Resort. We ate like pigs and returned to our overpass the following morning greeted by trail magic in the form of cold sodas and water.

We continued on into the desert climbing in the heat. It was slow moving as we were both still recovering and the sun was oppressive. I saw not only my first rattlesnake but my first three. One way to close for comfort. Anne had awoken him walking by and when I then passed him he was coiled to strike and quickly began to rattle at chest height about three feet to my left. I did not think my legs were capable of running but after a shrill girlish scream I was sprinting down the trail to safety.

We made it to Mesa Wind Farm where we napped away the hot hours of the afternoon in the shade they had set up for us hiker trash. They provided cold water, WiFi and had some high calorie foods for sale. It gave us life and we continued on to Whitewater Reserve.

When we arrived and saw the river we both had tears in our eyes. We rested for the night and took advantage of thier freezing cold wading pool which was heaven for our poor abused feet. We ran into Annette who I had not seen since my first day on trail. About 10 miles in I had caught her in that iconic “Wild” moment of realizing her pack was too heavy and not being able to get it on. I helped lift it to her back and was incredibly happy to see her over 200 miles later, still on trail and having dropped some of the excess weight.

We set off as a trio the next morning, more brutal heat, more elevation but had the luxury of a river running beside the trail for the next twenty miles. It was so nice not having to carry 5-6 liters of water at a time. I am growing to enjoy my mid day siestas during the hottest part of the day. We hiked on for two more days and prior to reaching our planned campsite were warned that Neo Nazi’s had rented out the cabins and we probably did not want to stay there. We cowboy camped a mile before our intended site planning to wake up early, continue on trail to the highway and hitch to Big Bear. Upon passing the cabins we were greeted by many Trump signs and several middle aged white men with assault rifles. I was greeted by one and when I asked what the whole thing was about he stated that they were “Supporting our president and exercising thier right to bear arms.” I found it quite funny that even after my encounter with the rattle snakes this was the least safe I had felt on the trail. I simply did not understand the purpose. Here they were in a national forest intimidating hikers and families, showing off thier guns and for what? The sake of circle jerking and stroking one another’s apparently delicate and misguided egos? I quickly continued on. I am supportive of people’s right to live as they would like but did not understand this aggressive showing. There is no practical use for assault weapons in the wild.

The next sight we saw was labeled as a “private zoo” on our maps. It broke my heart. They had lions and grizzly bears in 10×10 cages just pacing in circles. It was incredibly sad to see these beautiful creatures caged in such a seemingly inhumane way. A short while after we arrived at the highway where we were able to hitchhike first into Big Bear city and then to Big Bear Lake. Here we got another hotel room where we were able to shower off several days worth of filth, do some laundry and grab a bite to eat. Tomorrow we will pick up my resupply package and set off again back into the desert. I am excited to see what is in store up ahead. I am most excited to get to the upcoming hot springs and McDonald’s!