Day 98: Cruisin’

Sun. 7/28/13
27.8 miles (Miles 1388.9 – 1416.7)
Hat Creek Rim – Burney

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Trail through some lava-rocky terrain

I slept in later than I’d planned, but I was still on the trail before 7am. I hiked quickly toward Cache 22 with the hope of catching Aloha before he left to meet up with Tears. I was happy to see he was still in his tent! I enjoyed the quick hike – it was nice to get a chunk of mileage done on the exposed rim in the cool of the morning. I had a nice morning view of Mt. Shasta to keep me company as I looked all over in the shrubs for the critters that left tracks on the trail. All I saw was a bunny, some heart-stopping, flying quail, and lizards.

Finally at the cache, I sat and enjoyed an ice-cold root beer and Gatorade with Mountain Man, Flower, Kenobi and Aloha. Cache 22 reminded me of the forts we’d build as kids, and it did a great job of providing comfy shade on such a hot day. Chairs, water, chips and cold drinks made it a straight-up oasis. Thanks to Tred and Aloha!

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Cache 22 - awesome!

It was hard saying bye to Aloha again, but I made plans to meet him again at Hwy. 299 so I could decide what to do with the rest of the hiking day. I was motivated to hike hard to get there, but the heat stopped me a few times. I stopped three times in that 13 miles to get out of the sun, eat, drink, and shut my tired eyes for a few minutes.

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I half-expected to see a giraffe in this field.

I perked up in the afternoon, was in a great mood, and I hiked steady despite the heat and faucet of sweat running down my face. I thought maybe I’d be up for hiking the additional 7+ miles to Burney Falls State Park, but that would have put me around 35 miles for the day. After just doing 32 yesterday, I decided to give my feet a rest instead. What a brilliant choice! Adam picked me up and took me into Burney. I showered, ate salad and cottage cheese (my biggest cravings!), and resupplied for the next stretch. I’m all ready to go now, and I hope to catch up to Tears in a day or a day and a half.

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Sink-washing. The water is that black just from my gaiters!

Sometimes the simplest things stop me in my tracks as I’m hiking. Usually it’s something pretty, a weird bug, critter, butterfly or flower. Today I was hiking along, thinking about something – I have no idea what – and I stopped. There was a Cascadia footprint going the other direction. Cascadias are very popular on the PCT and if you ever question whether or not you’re on the trail, you just look for their iconic lines in the dirt for confirmation. So what the heck was this one going the other way for!? I immediately pulled up my Halfmile app to make sure I didn’t get turned around on accident… nope… still going north! So what the heck!? I wondered up all kinds of stories why those prints were going the other way to help pass time under the blazing sun. I thought of everything from it simply being a southbounder, to as crazy as someone who’s hiking the PCT backwards. It was quite a fun game.

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Cascadia shoe prints in two directions


Tonight I love my $7 slip/skirt. It might be a little sheer and fraying a bit, but it’s working pretty well!

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Lava rock. This stuff is all over.

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A great site! Water after a 30-mile dry stretch!

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Cool flowers along the lava field

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 97: My biggest day – hour by hour

Sat. 7/27/13
32.3 miles! (Miles 1356.6 – 1388.9)
PCT Mile 1356.6 – Hat Creek Rim

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Glorious.

Wow, I am tired! I just successfully hiked my longest day on the PCT. I am feeling great, considering – the aches, pains and fatigue were to be expected, so I’m not worried about them. I admit that I am super happy to be lying in my tent, though! Dark, ominous clouds are rolling in overhead, so I hope to not get struck by any lightning on this exposed Hat Creek Rim I’m camped on. I pray for a safe and restful sleep.

I decided to do another hour by hour on the PCT blog again like I did on day 64, and thankfully my phone cooperated! The idea behind doing this was to show a slideshow-type view of the trail and the day’s hike in photos, but not just of the things that stand out. Normally when I take a photo, it’s because of something pretty, unique, a good view, smiling faces… but there’s so much in between, too! My rule is to take a photo wherever I am on the hour, every hour. So here ya’ go!

5am: Still kinda’ waking up.

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6am: Just passed a sleeping hiker in their tent and forded a river.

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7am: I saw lots of deer, including one small fawn through this stretch of grassy prarie/meadow.

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8am: At Twin Lakes. Met three really nice weekend hikers and enjoyed answering all kinds of PCT questions.

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9am: I spot another hiker ahead – it’s Shotput! (She’s way up on the trail in the photo with her chrome dome umbrella open)

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10am: Hiking through an old burn. I realized at this point that I’d hiked 11.4 miles already – over a 10×10 and on a good pace for a 30-mile day!

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11am: Out of the burn area, and things are looking greener – and it’s getting hot out! Shotput and Kenobi are hiking behind me. I told Shotput I was thinking about trying for 30 miles and she encouraged me!

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12pm: Hiking through pines towards Hat Creek… where I planned to beat the heat with a quick swim… and did just that.

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1pm: Still resting at Hat Creek after my swim.

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2pm: HOT sun and sandy trails are making me tired!

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3pm: Junction for the Spatter Cones Trail. I thought it said Sputter Cows Trail at first, and I laughed at myself.

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4pm: At the trail for Subway Cave – .4 miles off the PCT and our last water for 30 miles.

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5pm: Back from Subway Cave for water. I’m a dummy, or maybe just slightly delirious from heat – I go all the way down there, fill up my water and completely forget to check out the cave. Shoot!

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6pm: Up on the Hat Creek Rim. Thankfully it’s cooling off. This section is famous on the PCT for being hot, dry and waterless. I saw many lizards and one garder snake. Oh, and some cows.

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7pm: Still hiking Hat Creek Rim. Getting VERY tired. Can’t wait for camp… and there’s rain clouds building up on the horizon.

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8pm: CAMP! I arrived right at 8pm. Whew!

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9pm: Cold mashers, Nutter Butters, Little Debbie cherry pie (I haven’t had one of those in years!), and some Snickers for dinner… teeth brushed… time for blog & bed.

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Tonight I love laying down. It’s the best reward after a good, long, tough hiking day.

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Twin Lakes

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I love hiking during quiet mornings!

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Crappy that someone shot it, but I thought it looked cool anyway.

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Cool seedling thingy.

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Sunset and Mt. Shasta way off in the distance!

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 96: Volcanic activity

Fri. 7/26/13
21.4 miles (Miles 1335.2 – 1356.6)
Chester – PCT Mile 1356.6

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Mt. Lassen wsy off in the distance

I’m just simply pokey in the morning when I’m in town. The comforts around me drag me into them and cause me to do everything much slower than I’d like. This morning after I shut my alarm off and crawled back into bed, I fell asleep and got up an hour later than I’d planned. I made a cup of coffee and decided I’d shower – I wasn’t going to shower, but it just sounded so nice. After Aloha got up and showered, we checked out of our room, filled the car up with gas, then went to the grocery store. Aloha was heading back out to cache 22 and wanted to bring goodies. He filled a cart with soda, Gatorade, chips, beer and ice.

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Aloha's stocking up for some trail magic!

By the time everything was done, I finally hit the trail at 10:30am. I was hoping for 8am, originally. Oh, well. I had a great morning taking my time and helping Aloha. I felt pretty refreshed once my shoes hit that dirt, and so I cruised. I took my first break about 9 miles in at the Feather River. I ate lunch, chugged some water, and put my feet in the water. It was a perfect little break.

Then the trail brought me into Lassen Volcanic National Park. It was just trail through the woods, like normal. No volcanos.

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Just woods, but still so pretty - and shady!

I came up behind Shotput just before a junction to Terminal Geyser. Her and I decided to take the .4-mile round trip to see it, and it was totally worth it. We could hear it before we could see the steam billowing up from between the rocks in the hillside. It was gurgling in small pools, and the geyser was making a steady, loud roar. It was quite impressive, as well as a bit intimidating. I walked in a little closer to take some photos, and I could feel the heat it was giving off. I certainly didn’t want to get too close! There’s the volcanic activity I was hoping to see!

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Terminal Geyser

A short while after the trip to see the geyser, I started to smell sulfur pretty strongly. As I kept hiking, I started to hear bubbling. I came up over a small hill and was looking down on a green-tinged, milky lake. It was actually really pretty, it just didn’t appeal to me like the clear blue lakes do. I had no desire to swim here, drink, dip my feet in, or even go to the shoreline. The rotten-egg smell didn’t help, either, but I enjoyed it for it’s alien appearance.

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Sulfuric lake.

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Milky shoreline of the sulfuric lake

My next break spot was at a picnic table at the Warner Valley campground. I ate dinner and drank water from a spigot while visiting with Shotput and Atlas. I didn’t bring my stove on this section as an experiment. I know breakfast is fine cold, but I haven’t tried many dinners. I had cold-mixed mashed potatoes, and they were pretty good! I could do that again.

Back on the trail, I climbed away from the campground and found a nice little camp spot with the relaxing sound of a river down the hill. I’m cuddled up in my Hubba tent without the rainfly just about ready to fall asleep. I hope to get in a big-mileage day tomorrow. If I can do 30 miles I might have a chance at seeing Aloha at the cache on Sunday… and have a cold soda. Mmmm, motivation!

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The Hubba... home for the night.


Tonight I love my Hubba tent. So cozy!

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Lichen is so freakin' cool!

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PeeeCeeeTeee!

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♥♡♥♡♥♡

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 95: Okay… one more zero…

Thurs. 7/25/13
0 miles, currently at Mile 1335.2 in Chester

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It's not quite flowers or trees, but it was a happy sight! What fun!

I can’t ever leave this place. I’ve never been much of a gambler, but every time I stick $20 in a penny machine at this casino I double it! That’s not the reason I chose to stay one more day, though. I guess it was a bonus, for sure!

After waking up this morning, I felt tired and my tummy wasn’t doing really well. Maybe it was all that stinkin’ delicious, gut-killing ice cream from yesterday. Ice cream hangover! Oh no! On top of the hangover, I was already toying with the idea of staying one more day just to have some time with Aloha. I started to procrastinate… I felt pretty bad – because I was being pokey, Tears probably could’ve slept another hour. I need to get better at making up my mind quicker!

I was actually packed and ready to hike. At the trailhead is when I made the final decision to stay. I think I can hike out of this next section just a few hours after Tears on Monday if my foot doesn’t act up. This was one more little reason to chill today. One extra day of rest on a sore foot can’t be bad. Good news – it feels so much better! I put my pack on with my hiking shoes and walked up and down the hall with no pain at all. Darn tweaky thing. I just hope it’s decided to cooperate for good!

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Packed up... ready to go.

Having another day allowed me to finish up a few more things from my to-do list, too. I took care of some emails, sewed a pair of my broken underwear and a hole in Aloha’s shorts pocket (I’m turning into a not-too-terrible little trail seamstress!), talked to my mom and dad, and I worked on my backpack zippers. I’m sort of on a mission to keep this pack alive until Canada! Thanks to Linda at Granite Gear for emailing back and forth with me! Their customer service has been outstanding. They even offered to replace the zippers and get it sent back as soon as possible. I’m really relieved to know that I have that option if needed. They recommended using a silicone spray to get zippers gliding better, so I cleaned as much dust out as I could then lubricated them with the spray. I hope it works!

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Project: get zippers working!

A little more penny-playing, a couple of karaoke songs for Aloha, and a good night’s sleep, and I’ll be ready to hit the trail tomorrow morning. For real, I will!


Tonight I love bonus spins. :)

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

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Aloha got me some fancy duct tape!

Day 94: High roller

Wed. 7/24/13
0 miles, currently at Mile 1335.2 in Chester

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Penny slots are actually a pretty fun way to decompress on a zero day.

Another full zero day. There’s a few small things I didn’t get done, but I think I got the main stuff ready to go for the trail tomorrow. I’m not really sure how my foot will feel. It doesn’t feel bad now, and I hope it’s the same story tomorrow when I get some weight on my back. Food is resupplied, toiletries are restocked, and water is full.

The morning consisted of us running around desperately looking for a hotel that had a hot tub. We really felt like soaking. For some reason the Best Western in Chester was full on a Wed. night, so we took a drive to Susanville about 45 minutes away. The Best Western there didn’t have a hot tub and was kind of expensive. A quick search brought us a short distance out of town to the Mountain Casino. What a great place! It has nice rooms, a restaurant, a small casino, it was less expensive… and has a hot tub! There was also a small gift shop:

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While Tears checked in, Aloha and I played in the gift shop.

We cruised around town before checking in, and I made a cheap purchase at Walmart. It’s going to be an experiment that I don’t exactly expect to work. I couldn’t find a new skirt that fit me, so I thought I’d try a slip. Yup, the kind of thing you’d wear under a dress. It’s light, made of nylon and spandex, and should dry quickly. I just worry it might fall apart from the first snag… but it’s worth a shot! Aloha said that maybe I’ll start a trail fashion trend.

Next to enjoying the hot tub, I really had fun visiting the penny slots in the casino. I usually don’t win much gambling, but I doubled my $20 when I was done! High roller, baby! Haha!

Tears and I also attempted the 1/2 gallon ice cream challenge today in honor of making it halfway on the PCT, and we both got pretty close to finishing but had to stop. I was really excited to sit down and scarf that much ice cream down in one sitting – it was like a dream come true – when else can I get away with this? Well… I quickly found out that it was a lot more ice cream than my tummy wanted to handle. I could’ve finished, but it wouldn’t have been pretty and I feared it would ruin the rest of my day. I think it was the right decision to stop. It sure was fun trying!

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I chose something with a variety of flavors. Yum!

We’re heading out early tomorrow morning. Tears and I will be going through this section solo, meeting back up in a few days at Burney Falls State Park. I was going to try to do a few big days to get some extra time with Aloha, but the outcome of that plan now depends on my foot. We’ll see how it goes.

It’s been a pretty low-key day, and I suppose that’s a good thing for a zero!


Tonight I love body lotion. It’s even become my backpacking luxury item. I carry a small bottle with me on the trail for after swims.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 93: Holy poop! I’m halfway to Canada!

Tue. 7/23/13
16.5 miles (Miles 1318.6 – 1335.2)
PCT Mile 1318.6 – Chester

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Halfway point! WOO-HOO!

I’m halfway there! Holy macaroni! It was a pretty big deal getting here! In honor of this momentous moment, I’m going to go through everything I did in the first half of the hike… right now.

Just kidding. That would take days. And I’ve already written about all of it in this blog. Whew, thank goodness!

How about just today? I saw another bear, a mountain, we hit a milestone, I acquired a sore foot, had a fun celebration in town, followed by a cache restock with Aloha, and the three of us Disco Pickles just hung out in the great outdoors. It was a good day.

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A view with Mt. Lassen in the distance

As I hiked in my morning hiking trance, which basically means I get a good rhythm and just effortlessly glide down the trail with my mind quiet and clear (mornings are really good for this), I came up a small climb. On both sides of me were waist-high, bright green shrubs, but it opened up into a rocky clearing ahead. I heard a crash and stopped in my tracks, eyes wide and instantly scanning the terrain all around me. A big cinnamon-colored bear leaped over the trail about 40 yards in front of me and continued down the steep hill as fast as he could carry his large body. I am so impressed with how agile and graceful the bears just bounce up and down these hills without making hardly a noise out here. This time I could almost feel the ground when the bear’s paws landed – with a big “boom-boom” – but he barely snapped a twig! Maybe I’m surprised because the deer at night just walking  around our tent sound like a herd of elephants. The critters out here are so entertaining. The bears are a big treat because the sightings are more rare. I just wish I could get a photo of one to share!

Thankfully, Aloha agreed to make a few drawings of the bears so I could remember what they looked like… and so I could share them in my blog, too:

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Aloha's bear drawings. ♡

Each time I climbed up to an opening in the trees I got a new view of Mt. Lassen, too. It stands out on the horizon behind and above the bumpy silhouetted mountains that are closer to us. It’s been fun watching it get closer and closer each day we hike.

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Mt. Lassen - the one that still has some snow on it

Then we came to our milestone – the PCT midpoint. I wasn’t quite sure how to feel, and I still don’t. It’s one of those bittersweet moments. I’m so proud that I’ve come this far, and I’m so excited that there’s so much more ahead, but…  it’s half done. What I’ve already hiked, seen, experienced, felt… has been so incredible. I guess I’m more happy than anything – I basically get to double all that! 1,325 more miles to go!

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Just a few more miles and we'll be in Canada

Technically, however, this is short of the real halfway point. It just depends how particularly you want to look at it. The trail changes each year due to reroutes, detours, hiking your own hike, and whatever else. I just really enjoyed the permanence of the cement monument. Here’s a note on our Halfmile map that explains it:

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After leaving the midpoint monument, a pain in my foot became strong enough to warrant a limp. I sunk my foot into some soft sand yesterday while enjoying a view, and it caused me to fall forward onto my hands. I must have tweaked it then and not realized it at the time. I wasn’t too thrilled about this onset of a new, unsettling pain, but I could still walk, at least…  as long as I only put weight on my heel. Oy. I pushed on until our lunch break, trying with all my might to not dwell on it. It only hurt when I bent my foot in just the wrong way, so it’s fine… right? I put it up at lunch and loosened my shoe laces, and after I got hiking again it started to feel better! It’s not perfect, but better. I just pray it’s nothing serious. If something happened to my foot… you just might see this girl turn on her “stubborn mode.” A day of rest is hopefully all it needs.

After Aloha picked us up at the trailhead, he brought us to the dentist in town – we heard that we had to stop in to say hi and get a free toothbrush. They were so friendly!  They took our photo, gave us a congratulatory halfway cheer, a free toothbrush (the rumors were true!) and a certificate for dinner! Wow! Thanks, Dr. Webb and crew!

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A warm welcome from the dentist's office in Chester.

Also – I want to give a big shout out to Piper’s mom! Thanks for the amazing trail magic and info at the Hwy. 36 crossing! Awesome!

Our evening was wrapped up first with a margarita and food at Maria’s Mexican Restaurant in Chester. There was a huge group of hikers there already that we’ve been seeing on the trail the past few days, so that was fun. Super Ultralight was with the three of us, and after dinner we dropped him off in Old Station so he could join Doodles and Scones for a section. Greyhound lost his backpack full of gear on his way here… that’s a whole side-story in itself! I think Aloha was really happy to help him out these past few days.

We are camped at Cache 22 – the middle of a hot, dry section of PCT trail out here in N. California. Aloha has been visiting, adding water, beer and chips to trail angel Tred’s awesome spot. When we arrived we visited with Bill, Fortune Cookie, Ladykiller, and Muk Muk. It was fun to get in on a small slice of trail magic.

The night settled in with a gorgeous sunset:

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Sun setting at cache 22


Tonight I love Sierra Nevada Porter. It was desert, and a good one!

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Tee-hee...

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Fuzzy wuzzy caterpillar

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Three years worth of register... nearly out of pages.

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Aloha is getting really good at this camping thing!

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 92: Chafe, springs and a bear

Mon. 7/22/13
22.3 miles (Miles 1296.3 – 1318.6)
Myrtle Flat – PCT Mile 1318.6

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Pretty grassy meadow

“Hi, my name is Toots Magoots, and I have chafe.” This is almost what the conversation was like when I shared news of my new chafe to a group of other hikers. It really is a great support group o ut here! A couple of them also had chafe – and it’s the first time in a long time for all of us. Mine, today, is from a bad combination of things. First, it’s hot and I’m sweating. A lot. Second, the sweaty clothes aren’t getting a chance to dry like they did in the desert, and third, my clothes are too big and bunching up under my hipbelt. I have a spot a little smaller than my hand on my lower back that is red, puffy and raw… and very stingy under a backpack hipbelt. After about 20 minutes of hiking it kind of numbs up. That or I’m able to ignore it. Either way, I’m able to hike, so it’s minor – just irritating.

We finished up our 5,000-foot ascent out of Belden in the cool of the morning. We got the majority done yesterday in that crazy heat, so this morning’s cooler air felt like a nice break. Thankfully the sun was my buddy today and granted me my wish from yesterday to take the intensity down a notch. It only got up to 90º for a bit today, but we also had lots of shade. I still sweat buckets, but I’m okay with that!

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My cheese slices lost their sliceyness from the heat. Blob cheese still tastes good though!

We saw a bear today! I heard a crash and looked in the direction of the noise and saw a round, fuzzy, brown butt running up the steep hill. I turned towards Tears with wide eyes, pointing up the hill and quietly exclaimed, “BEAR!!” She and I both got a good glance at his back end running up and out of view. So, actually we just saw a bear’s butt… but that’s better than teeth or claws! It was really exciting! I had goosebumps because I was so thrilled. It was a highlight from today for sure.

Another highlight from today was our water sources. We were able to get fresh, cold, clear water from a couple of amazing springs. This is my #1 favorite trail drink. I love a frosty bottle of cold spring water – especially when it’s so hot out here!

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Frosty cold on a hot day

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The water source - Andesite Spring. It's coming right out from under this rock!

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Cold spring - just piped and pouring strong!

It was a good day. We got to leapfrog with some other hikers today that we haven’t seen in a while, in addition to a few new faces. That was fun. Today we saw Waka Waka, Giddyup, Alphabet Soup, Kudu, Kazu, Belgian Red, Frank, Hunny Bunny, Sunshine, Sneaks, Watson, Moonshine, Saggi, and a couple others. I think we’re all going to end up in Chester for a celebration tomorrow night. Yup. We are hitting a milestone tomorrow. A big one. A bittersweet one. A momentous, exciting, proud, fun milestone. I can’t wait. I’m going to dance. I’m going to smile, and maybe shed a few tears of happy. We’ll see what mood strikes me!


Tonight I love sunshine. Even when it’s blazin’, even when it melts my cheese and M&M’s, even when it makes my entire body drip sweat into the dusty ground – I still love it.

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Flowery trail

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No tooting. I guess I better turn around!

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Mmmm, a cone!

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Um... Toots... that's a pine cone... not an ice cream cone.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)