Tag: Hiker training Page 2 of 3

The Day Ken Thought I Was Dying.

In late July 2019, we skipped up to the OR/WA border to hike SOBO through August. This trip was going to be our longest continuous section hike. Anxiety was high, as we didn’t know what Oregon was like, only that it rained a lot! 

Scary Bridge of the Gods- Praying I didn’t hit by a car or get blown off the bridge!

Dropped off at the WA side of the Bridge of the Gods that spans high above the deep Columbia River, we met our first challenge. The bridge has no sidewalks, so crossing meant we would be within inches of passing cars. Some gave us a wide berth, while others didn’t have the ability due to two-way traffic. At one point, almost taken out by the mirror of an RV, I had to DUCK! The floor of the bridge was open grating, so I could perceive how high above the rushing river we were! Add to the mix the blustery wind that simply compounded my terror!

It frustrated Deb that I didn’t slow down to take pictures of her crossing! I was just intent on getting across without falling through the grate (fed by a childhood fear) or blown over the rail by the wind or passing vehicles!

First Night in Oregon

We didn’t get far that first day and camped next to a creek with a nearby waterfall. We lingered and enjoyed the cool morning by the waterfall. All smiles. 

The next day, was a long and arduous climb to 4000’. Why is it that every time we start a section, we are climbing and carrying the heaviest pack? I admit I wasn’t in the best shape, so the steep climb all day did me in. Looking forward to the first campsite, Debbie, ahead of me, had passed it up as all sites were occupied. I wanted to cry. I was done. I texted her to see how far ahead she was. UGH! Another half mile! Trudging on, attempting to go what seemed like 10 miles, I texted her saying, “Can you come back and carry my pack? I’m dying.”  Being a good sport, she came back to help and we made it to camp safely.

What you don’t know, is that Ken, at home, reads all my texts. Bless his heart, he is truly worried that I am literally dying!

Guess I’ll be more specific in the future!

Set a Goal – Make a Plan

It was 2019. I had a goal – to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. The Plan was simple: find someone to go with me, gather my gear and go.

Mind you, at age 65, I’d NEVER backpacked. But it couldn’t be all that hard. Could it?

I had all the necessary gear (and more that wasn’t but that’s another story.) My mind was made up. I’d found a new friend, to go with me, Debbie.

The date was set. As well-laid plans go, there were conditions made by my new hiking partner. She imagined that the start of the Trail, near the Mexican border, would be mobbed with Cartel waiting to beset and besiege us poor women hikers. It was decided that her brother and wife would join and protect us. I’m not sure what kind of defense he would have deployed except maybe hurl disparaging and disrespectful language at the desperados.

Big Brother

The first day was exhilarating! Our first foray was three days two nights. It was a good way to start, affording me my first ever backpacking experience. I was frustrated at myself for how slow I was compared to the others. I really thought I was prepared! It seemed they did try to slow down a bit, but they would stop to rest while I caught up. How fair is that ? They get to rest much longer than me! And I was the one needing a long break!

After a couple weekend hikes protected by big brother, we were ready to move ahead on our own. Mind you, Debbie and I are still just getting to know each other. But sharing a two-man tent, one gets to know the other rather quickly. There was so much sass and laughter between us, we got along well.

Grand ideas of 20 mile days. We were so prepared! Hiking, exercising, planning. Debbie was convinced we would be completing the trail as thru-hikers in one year. She’s the optimistic-adventurer, I’m the cautious-practical one. After covering 40-50 miles, reality set in. I did some calculations and I informed Debbie that at our speed, without any breaks or even Nero days, we may finish by January! Grudgingly accepting reality, she agreed to a two year plan.

At the beginning of 2020, we had our permits in place and were geared up to go all the way. Then Covid hit. Well, maybe a three-year plan will have to do.

Pinchot Pass

In 2021 our target was 1200 miles. Again, reality brought us to about 800 miles. But it was a beautiful reality. Starting in northern CA, going Southbound (SOBO) we gained trail legs for the approaching Sierra and the daunting passes. Successfully fulfilling our much anticipated hike through the Sierra, we officially ended 2021 with cumulative 1662 miles of the 2650 total PCT miles.

Set a goal – make a plan. Sometimes the best you can do falls short of your goal. So what? You started and tried. More than the majority of people! We have come to accept ourselves and the pace we enjoy. It isn’t a race. It’s a journey. No shame because we are still out there…enjoying ourselves.

More Advice for Beginning Hikers

Let’s talk about other considerations for you beginning hikers. Start watching my YouTube video where I discuss a variety of issues about where to hike, how long, inviting friends, having fun, and good shoes!

Speaking of shoes – Like all gear, there are a plethora of options. I started by way overdoing it with a heavy pair of waterproof (and expensive) boots. While they were comfortable, I developed a serious knee problem that stemmed from the weight and high ankle structure that over restricted the flexibility of my ankle, thereby stressing my knees. Other hiking boots would also destroy toenails!

After looking at reviews and talking with experienced hikers, it seemed the Altra Lone Peak was a favorite. (And they leave a cute little footprint on the trail!) Once I switched, I’ve never gone back. Loved for their lightweight and comfortability, after 1700 miles in 4 years I’m on my sixth pair! (Hint: I wear 1.5-2 sizes larger than normal shoes that keep my toenails intact.)

Other favorites are Hoka, Soloman and Merrell However I have no personal experience with those. Does anybody have comments about their favorite hiking shoes?

Atra Lone Peak 5 – Check out the lugs
on these babies!

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