Answers to your questions (Part 1 of 2)


What was one of the biggest highlights from my hike? Summiting Mt. Whitney. My first 14er!

Finally! I’m posting some of the answers to the questions you sent in to me! Thank you all for the great questions, and the patience for this post!

I didn’t sort through the questions, combine them, or split them up in any way. I wanted to keep your questions as they were sent in to me, so I just copied them into a word document and answered them. So if you had more than one question, you’ll probably see them in a clump. I know there are some that are probably quite similar, but I just went through and answered them all anyway. Hopefully I was at least fairly consistent with those – I went through these at different times, so there might be slight differences in my answers depending on my mood at the time. It’ll be an adventure reading, them, I suppose – just like anything on here! I hope you enjoy!

So, without further ado… here they are, questions in bold:

Can you speak on insurance and what you and Adam did for that while you were away from work? Did you get travel insurance or just emergency?
Because of my health history with Aplastic Anemia, it was difficult for me to get health insurance. We ended up going with a travel insurance that covered us for emergency room, search and rescue and major things. We also had a Health Savings Account that we could use for smaller things – clinic visits or dental, for example. Thankfully we didn’t need either while on the hike.

What’s the plan for you and Adam now? With the exception of having family in Wisconsin it seems to me you both aren’t bound to any place in particular anymore. You two can start over anywhere you want. Any ideas?
You are right! We aren’t bound to anyplace in particular, and we love that! We are pretty happy feeling mobile, and our future plans should hopefully keep us that way for a while. We are going to stay with family and visit friends through December, then I’ll be taking classes at Fox Valley Tech in Appleton for truck driving between January and April. From there, Adam and I hope to team truck drive until we have our student loan and all other debt paid off. From there, who knows! We’ve tossed around a lot of ideas from another hike, to volunteering overseas, to running a hostel. We have no idea, but that’s the fun of it!

In your blog, you were always in a positive mindset. Were you always in that mindset or just presenting it that way?
I always tried to be in a positive mindset, on the hike and in my journal. It’s amazing what strength you can gain from that exercise. It was actually an important goal for me from the start to stay positive as much as possible throughout the journey, because I really wanted to be sure I wasn’t overlooking any of the experience I had laid out before me, and I think getting wrapped up in any sort of negativity can take so easily take over. It really wasn’t that hard to stay positive, anyway… since I was doing what I loved all day, every day! So I wrote from the heart all the time. This was a public blog, but it’s also my journal, so when I look back on what I wrote a few years down the road, I want to be able to recall the day and how I felt. The way I wrote certain things will do just that. On the days when something was bringing me down, I always tried to find the many things around me that made me happy and tried to focus on that instead. I was usually able to distract myself enough from whatever might have been bothering me to be able to focus back on all the blessings that were right in front of me.

What was the toughest part physically?
Honestly, the whole trip is tough physically, but that’s part of the draw for me and probably anyone who embarks on such an adventure. As my kickboxing instructor always said (and applies to the PCT as well), “If this was easy, then everyone would be here!” But if I were to pick one thing in particular, I would say the toughest part physically would be when my pack was at its heaviest. Like the first day out of town, heading into a 5 or more day stretch. The extra backpack weight made everything a little tougher.

What was the toughest part mentally?
The way it ended. It burned me out mentally from all the coordinating and decision making, then being turned around, then regrouping and making late-afternoon decisions about alternate ideas, then trying again and getting turned around again… we were being challenged physically at the same time, so when all the back and forth decision-making was thrown in, I hit a point where I totally burned out. I remember sitting in my hotel room (the night before we tried the road-walk – before we got turned back due to the government shutdown), and just breaking and crying because I was just so tired – both mentally and physically. I wanted nothing more than to get my feet back on the PCT and hike to the finish, but I knew we just couldn’t. The alternate route taking the road and the East Bank Trail was the best ‘for sure’ option, but that was also a pretty aggressive plan. I wanted a day off in between, but timelines just weren’t lining up, and the plan we came up with was the best option at the time. This is why I don’t regret any decisions I made, but I do wish I’d have allowed myself some more time once I decided I was done to let it all sink in… I may have gone back and tried again. We were already moving on, and I needed to keep going in that direction to save myself from more mental turmoil. It was absolutely one of the toughest few days, mentally, that I’ve had to deal with on this trip.

What was your favorite part?
So many things were my favorite, so it’s hard to pick just one. Having a new experience and seeing something new every day was a big one. Meeting so many amazing people was another one. Sharing this whole experience with my favorite person in the whole world (Adam) was another. Hiking every single day, getting that exercise, and being able to eat whatever I want in whatever quantities that I wanted was another one – but I just realized recently, after being home – what I really loved was not having to obsess or constantly think about what I was eating. I have a history of being overweight, and tend to gain weight pretty easily, so I’ve always had to watch what I eat so closely. Just being free of that for 6 months was the best EVER.

What part was your least favorite?
Town chores. I always wished I could’ve been doing something else, like eating, sleeping or just hanging out. And by the time I got done with hiker chores, I was usually antsy to get back on the trail.

Do you think you’ll have a tough time integrating back into society and living a ‘real’ life?
I’m currently in the process of this, and yes, it’s pretty hard. Going from exercising all day, every day to sitting around has been tough. For some reason it’s hard for me to get off the couch and go for a walk! I’m still working on figuring that one out! Watching what I’m eating has been… well, kind of annoying, and making plans so we can do things and see everyone (which are things I really WANT to do, and LOVE to do) is a little overwhelming.

Are you already looking at another trip or was this your last ‘big’ hike?
I don’t think it’s my last ‘big’ hike, but I don’t have another trip lined up yet. I’ve got plenty of ideas, though!

Do you have any ambitions for doing more adventurous stuff like mountaineering?
Yes, I always will. I wish I could do everything! Climbing Mt. Everest is on my bucket list, for example. I’m pretty sure I won’t have the time to become a great mountaineer and be able to afford a climb of Mt. Everest – mostly because there are so many different things I’d like to do, so even if given the opportunity, it would be tough for me to focus so much of my life on one particular thing. But the dream will always be there… so really, who knows!?

With the snow interference, do you think you will feel you have “completed” the PCT or are you left hanging out there?
Hanging out there. I thought at the time I felt completely satisfied. I’m comfortable with how it ended, as I feel as though I made the right choices when I made them, but after a couple of weeks passed, those last 60 miles kind of bothered me. It wasn’t even all that much about making the continuous line any more (maybe just a little)… it was mostly that those last 60 miles looked so amazingly beautiful and adventurous! I felt like I was missing out on a really important section of the Pacific Crest Trail. I hope my next big vacation will be backpacking that particular stretch of trail. And maybe one more visit to Stehekin and that bakery!

When is your next long distance hike?
I wish I could say tomorrow! But I really don’t know yet. Once Adam and I get into our truck driving, we’ll hopefully do that for at least a few years, and I imagine we’ll always be talking about the next big adventure.

Where is your next long distance hike?
I’ve got so many to choose from that I really don’t know! If I had to pick one, I’d probably go with the Continental Divide Trail. I’d also like to maybe rehike the PCT. I really did love that trail, and I’d like to give it another go. It would be interesting to see what I would do differently knowing what I know now about the towns, the trail, and the community.

What are your recommendations for the best parts for section hiking?
It depends on what you’re looking for. If it’s for incredible scenery, a big one is the John Muir Trail – it joins a lot of the PCT through some of the most spectacular parts of the High Sierras. The area north of Paradise Valley Cafe near Idylwild and St. Jacinto was another really great place in California. In Oregon, I would say anywhere in the Three Sisters Wilderness. In Washington, Goat Rocks Wilderness and Glacier Peak Wilderness. These were my favorite parts.

What did this thrill-of-a-lifetime cost?
The way we did it – a lot! But for a normal thru-hike for one person, a really general way to figure the cost is $2/mile. The PCT is over 2,500 miles, so $5,000 is a good general idea of what it might cost. Our expenses were more than twice that much, since we weren’t just dealing with my typical expenses and crazy hiker appetite, but the cost of gas and lodging for both of us, fuel and fun for Aloha, too. We went into this with the mindset that it is our crazy adventure and we may never get the opportunity to do something this huge again (although I hope we do!), so we didn’t hold back too much. It was expensive, but so much fun!

Do you happen to have a breakdown between your expenses and Aloha’s?
Adam (Aloha) took care of the budget while we were out, and kept a really good record of everything, including keeping receipts. We haven’t had time to sort through it all yet, and I’m not sure we’d be able to break it down to who spent what, but we hope to come up with a general idea of what percentage of our budget went for gas, for food, for lodging, etc.

Did you ever get sore?
Yes, being sore was normal. Most of the soreness I experienced was typical aches and pains from walking so many miles day after day. Sore feet, shoulders and legs became part of the experience, and honestly, without them, it wouldn’t be the same. I called it the comfort of discomfort. It’s strange, but I learned to love that part of it.

Where you always sore?
I don’t think I was always sore to the point where I could justify complaining about it, or pointing it out, but I guess so. There was always something. I was lucky and didn’t have to deal much with injury, so my soreness was always the typical stuff you’d expect.

How did day 4 compare with day 44 regarding physical pain?
I think the daily physical pains (the normal stuff) kind of stayed the same. You usually start out kind of slower to work yourself into hiking so many miles every day, then pick it up as you can. I think trying to keep that pain level comfortable and consistent is important to avoiding injury. Blisters, on the other hand… they tend to get better as you figure out footwear, socks and how to best treat them. I’ve never been one to blister too badly, and I know I’m very fortunate for that (thanks for the tough feet, dad!). I did get a few in the beginning, and they always hurt, but knowing that pain is temporary helps.

They say long distance hiking is more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge. what are your thoughts on that?
It’s definitely both, but I think the reason it becomes more of a mental challenge is the distance of the trail. After a month of hiking every single day when the newness of the experience starts to fade, I think it can start to feel monotonous. My guess is that most hikers that quit mid-trail are mentally burned out, more so than physically. It can be easy to fall into a mundane routine – wake up, eat oatmeal, walk, walk, walk, walk, eat Ramen, sleep, wake up and repeat. Of course, there’s ways to change it up, and we all do on different levels. Everybody deals with it differently, but I think we start to miss family and friends, frequent showers, brewed coffee, sleeping in… whatever it might be, and once you start thinking of those comforts and people you miss from back home, getting up and hiking every day can be mentally tough. I guess I’m saying that there are a lot of mental factors that go into something like this, and each person deals with them in different ways, but in the end, it comes down to perseverance.

Please compare and contrast your expectations to your actual experiences.
I could probably write on this topic for hours, so I’ll try to trim it down to a few things.
Scenery — it blew me away. I hoped that would happen, and it did.
Pain — I went in expecting it to hurt really bad every single day… mostly so that when I actually got out there I’d think “well, this isn’t as bad as I mentally prepared myself for.” In the end, it actually didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would, but again… I was expecting the worst. I tend to work that way with lots of things – I’ll think worse-case scenario, then when it turns out better, I’m all like, “Waaahhh-hooooooooo! This is AWESOME!” If it does end up worse-case scenario, I’ll hopefully be somewhat prepared for it. The cold and wet of Washington was a perfect example of that. It was still really hard, but at least I was sort of mentally prepared to deal with it.
The people — I expected to meet a lot of great people. I did. What exceeded that expectation is the “great.” These people were way better than just “great.” We turned into a really unique family. I tear up just writing that because I miss them all so much. I can’t really explain this relationship that gets built amongst the thru-hiking community – you need to experience it. We’re all dealing with the same struggles and triumphs, and we’re able to share them with each other and totally understand. It’s just something very unique to a thru-hike, and this alone is worth everything it took to take this adventure.

What equipment did you think was really needed or required, but after getting into the reality of the hike you either discarded or changed?
I was going to use my NeoAir blow up mattress, but decided against it in the desert because I was afraid I’d pop it on one of the many pokey desert plants. I sent it home and used my Z-lite the whole time. I was comfortable on it and didn’t feel like I was missing much not having the NeoAir. Although, toward the end of the hike when the ground was wet and cold (and my Z-lite was starting to wear out a little bit), I wished I had a second 3-panel section for under my butt.

The other thing was clothing. Obviously, I kept what I was wearing, but I stopped carrying stuff I just simply didn’t use. I was only using what I was wearing, for the most part. I stopped carrying my extra pair of underwear, a third pair of socks, an extra shirt, and a fleece. So besides what I was wearing, I only carried a set of sleep clothes (silk weight long underwear, lightweight long-sleeve shirt and socks), a spare sport bra, one spare pair of socks, and my Nanopuff synthetic jacket.

Anything else was pretty small. The only small things I remember getting rid of is a folding knife (I already had a tiny Swiss Army knife that did everything I needed a knife for), my extra headlamp (I already had a spare mini push-light), and my emergency fire-starter kit (I figured 2 small lighters were enough).

I plan to do a gear review in a later blog entry, or spread out over a few entries, so if I think of anything else, it’ll probably come up then. I was overall pretty happy with everything I carried.

What’s the most overrated and underrated equipment even at the minute level if applicable?
Overrated? For me, it’s the blow-up mattress. They are super-comfy, but I just found blowing them up at night and deflating them in the morning was a pain in the buns. I was comfy enough and slept just fine on just the Z-lite. I guess another one for me is my camera. Even though I loved my camera, I ended up taking all my photos with my phone (Samsung Galaxy S3), and it worked great.

Underrated? Safety pins. Duct tape. Tiger Balm. Water treatment. Pee rag. Hiking skirt.

What was your biggest surprise of the hike that was unexpected (besides the government shutting down)?
The snow in Washington. I thought we were playing it safe by planning our finish the first week in October. Also, the relationships with other hikers, and the kindness of strangers (trail angels) that helped along the way.

What were some of the little things from a process standpoint or equipment standpoint that made your hike easier or more manageable?
Certainly not a little thing, but rather, a really big deal… but has to be mentioned for a question like this – Adam (Aloha). I felt like the luckiest girl on the whole trail. Not only did I get to see my husband regularly, but he did my laundry for me, picked me up so I didn’t have to hitch, drove me to the store, scoped out towns and found the best lodging, and had restaurant recommendations all lined up when he picked me up. He even sometimes had a hot cup of coffee and a cookie waiting for me in the car.
I really like the design of my backpack. It’s a panel-loading design, so you can zip it wide open from the top or the bottom, making it easy to get at stuff during the day. I didn’t have to unload my entire pack to get at my food or other miscellaneous item.
Halfmile’s phone app was a huge one. If I ever thought I might be off-trail, I just opened the app, and it let me know how far I was off the trail, or if I was on it. It also helped me always know where I was and how far away from points that were marked on my paper maps. Along the same lines as Halfmile’s app, is the PCTHYOH app, which also had the water report on it. The water report in Southern California is priceless.

Equipment Reviews?
These are coming. :)

Did you dream about hiking when you slept?
I don’t remember dreaming about hiking, but I did have some pretty insane dreams. In one, I turned someone into butter. I know… WEIRD.

How weird is it to be off trail?
It’s really weird. It’s a total adjustment for the mind, body and soul. I miss it like crazy. I was so used to getting up every day, hiking all day, going to sleep and getting up and doing it again. Being off trail, one of the first things I looked forward to was sleeping in. Well, since I’ve been off trail, I’ve gotten A LOT of sleep. Too much, in fact. It’s been a struggle to get my buns off the couch – I just wish the PCT was outside the front door so I could get out and hike it again, even if just for a day.

What was your favorite trail meal?
I enjoyed almost everything I ate on trail. I really enjoyed having Hostess pies for breakfast, mostly because I can’t eat them normally because they have so much fat and so many calories… which is perfect for a thru-hiker! I really like mashed potatoes, and I didn’t eat them too often, so I never got sick of them. I usually mixed cheese, a meat and potato chips into my dinners to give them some kick. I had refried beans a few times towards the end of the hike and wished I’d done that more. Also, Starburst jelly beans. Okay, you asked for my favorite trail MEAL, and I got a little sidetracked. That happens with a subject on food! I’ll give a shout out to two trail chefs here – Randall for his pizza Ramen he sent, and my mom for her spaghetti. Those were two of my favorites.

What was your least favorite trail meal?
Turns out that my least favorite was oatmeal. I’m still sad that I got sick of oatmeal. I ate oatmeal for breakfast almost every single day before the hike – for years – and never got sick of it. I don’t know why, but I just had trouble stomaching it towards the end of the hike. I’m just starting to get back into eating it again. Slowly.

Did you filter from springs, or drink directly from them?
There were only a couple of springs I drank directly from without treating the water. This was only when I could see right where the water was trickling out of rock. I would even treat sometimes when I figured it would be safe not to… I didn’t want to take any chances. I’m happy to say, I did not get sick from water, and it’s not like it’s not out there – there were quite a few hikers that ended up with Giardia at some point along the trail. Most, however, admitted that they weren’t treating the water at all.

What did you eat?
On trail: Hostess pies, candy bars (Peanut butter Snickers, Twix, Almond Joy, Nutrolls, to name a few favorites), tortillas with meat slices, cheese and mayo, potato chips, coffee, rice dinners, mashed potatoes, noodle dinners, jelly beans, granola bars, nuts, drink mixes, Gatorade, oatmeal, and a bunch more I’m probably forgetting.

In town: Salads, burgers, pizza, cottage cheese, fresh fruit, beer, Coke, bakery, and wingies.

What did you love?
Everything. Even the struggles. It was all part of one whole spectacular package. I especially loved the community (I know, I keep saying it, but it’s really that incredible), the scenery was usually pretty hyped up and almost always blew me away more than I thought it would, and the challenge. Drinking from natural sources, climbing mountains, abundant sunshine, cool breezes, starry nights, marmots, pikas, deer and other critters, flowers, mushrooms, and so much more. Everything. All of it.

What did you hate?
The hike having to end. I don’t usually use the word ‘hate,’ and even the end of the hike is kind of hard for me to place into that category, since ‘ending’ meant I got to see family and friends that I missed so much while I was gone… so it wasn’t all bad, but that’s probably the closest I got to ‘hating’ something on the trail.

What were your best sources of information regarding trail conditions, news on other hikers, town info, etc – both in planning stages and on-trail?
For planning, I started with obsessing about all things PCT. I’d google search it, look at photos, watch YouTube videos, and read blogs. Once the 2012 season started, I started following a handful of blogs, and that was helpful. I’d take notes as I read them when I saw something that I wanted to remember. I ordered Yogi’s guide and read through that and was able to pick up some tidbits of helpful info. During the hike, I used Halfmile’s maps, which I printed all of before leaving and had them organized into sections recommended in Yogi’s handbook. I also used Halfmile’s app, which was great for always knowing what mile I was at on the PCT, and it tells you if you’re off the trail. If I was ever unsure whether I was on the trail or not, I’d just pop up the app and it would tell me. A lot of people used Guthook’s app, too. I thought that was more helpful in Oregon and Washington, but to be fair, we didn’t open it much south of there because Halfmile worked fine. The PCTHYOH app was great for the water report, fire report and detour information. You just have to be sure to cache them in town when you have a good data/wifi connection. Facebook was a great way to see what was going on along the trail and the status of other hikers. Our PCT class of 2103 page was always a place to check out regarding anything trail-related, and also a great place to ask questions. And I love that it’s going to be a place to go back to when I’m feeling lonely for my PCT family. :)

What would you do differently next time?
I would spend some money for a lighter gear setup. I am happy with what I brought with me this time, but I learned how true it is, that if you have less weight on your back, you can go just as far, but more comfortably. Seems like common sense… and it is. I would probably at least change out a few heavier items and just try to slim my base weight down by 5 pounds or so.

I’d also probably do things a little differently with preparing, with knowing what I know now. I gathered a lot of food to send, but the way we did our maildrops didn’t require as much food as I thought. There was quite a lot to be found in hiker boxes, and I found that I wanted to explore some of the new snacks and food we found along the way.

What was your approximate budget?
Our budget is tricky to explain because of the vehicle support. It’s a rough guesstimate, but overall, I think my budget alone for the hike ran somewhere around $6,000. To add in an idea of the vehicle support cost, for example, the cost of fuel came in around $3,000. We also had to cover vehicle maintenance (tires and oil changes, for example), lodging and meals for Adam, and he also included a portion of our savings for trail magic. He always had Gatorade and goodies in the Pickle Jar as many 2013 hikers know! :) There were many other pieces to the budget, and it depends on how you look at it. You could include the cost of gear before and/or during the hike, food prep, and bills that needed to be covered while gone. Whenever I’m asked about budget, I usually tell people what I’ve read is the average for a thru-hike, which comes to around $2/mile. So if the PCT is 2,660 miles, that would come to $5,320. That would be a place to start if you’re thinking about planning a trip like this, then add in or subtract for what you’d like to do for comforts and fun (hotel stays, town meals, souvenirs, etc.).

Why “Disco Pickle?” Why not “Disco Radish,” or “Disco Kumquat?”
The name “Disco Pickle” was born one night while Adam, Rachel and I were having a few drinks before the trip started. We wanted to come up with something that was easy to remember so we could direct people to our facebook page quickly and easily. “Robin and Rachel thru-hike the PCT with Adam as vehicle support” was just too long. So we brainstormed. Lots of ideas came up, but it eventually morphed to “Disco Pickle” and stuck. The “Disco” comes more from Adam because he sometimes does this crazy disco dance that’s really fun, and the “pickle” comes from backpacking shenanigans. Rachel once snuck one of those giant pre-packaged pickles into my backpack on a weekend group trip, and I didn’t notice it until later that night at camp. I carried that darn thing all day long – we opened it and ate it, quickly learning that they’re pretty gross. Also, one time after a long training hike, Rachel bought a giant pickle from a specialty store (a homemade one), and it was so amazingly delicious after a long, sweaty hike, that it became one of our favorite post-trail snacks. Mostly, it’s just a silly name that seemed to stick… so we went with it.

For a group of 5 friends, what sections would you recommend hiking next summer that has good access to water, visually rewarding, and would be good for a one-week trip? (South of Lake Tahoe near Carson’s Pass).
Since this is a pretty specific question, I would have to do a bunch of research to figure out the best 7-day trip, but right off the top of my head, I would say to include Desolation Wilderness. It’s not a super-long section of trail, but it is really pretty, has tons of lakes, and it’s right around South Lake Tahoe. You could start at Echo Lake Chalet and hike north, or near Truckee and hike south. If you’ve got the time, it could even be fun to plan a trail zero day out there, and stay an extra day at one of the lakes you love – swim, read, do some short day-exploring around the area… I think Gilmore Lake had a side trail to a peak… you would have to double-check that, though.

Would we need to obtain permits for 7 days on the PCT?
I think in order to obtain a PCT permit, you have to plan on covering at least 500 miles of the trail, but check the PCTA website to make sure. I do know, however, that you will need a permit for Desolation Wilderness, which I think you can get from a local ranger station – there’s probably one in or near South Lake Tahoe.

Where and when do we apply for the permits?
I think we had to wait until after the first of the year to apply for a PCT permit, maybe even into February. As for a permit specifically for Desolation Wilderness, or any permit you’d get at a Ranger Station, you could call them or stop in at their offices. You can probably walk in and get one immediately. But I would call to make sure (especially to see if there’s a limit on how many they issue).

Is one week long enough to earn a trail name?
If you’re within a group of friends, you can have fun giving each other trail names, but on the PCT, we were told it usually happens around the third week of a thru-hike, which it did for all three of us (but of course, it varies with everyone). There aren’t any set rules on acquring one – it’s definitely not any sort of official thing. Some PCT thru-hikers never get a trail name – either they don’t really feel comfortable with it, or one just never sticks. Part of getting that trail name has a lot to do with the community of hikers you meet and travel with along the way. I suggest to just have fun with it, but don’t force it. The nice thing about getting a trail name on the PCT is that you have lots of time to get used to having it – it actually took a little time to get used to introducing myself at “Toots Magoots” and remembering to sign registers that way.

After following many PCT blogs this year, I noticed a pattern – some hikers reported positive interactions with rangers and townsfolk along the trail and were on the receiving end of a lot of good karma, while others complained about being viewed suspiciously or treated badly by those they encountered. Not surprisingly the folks with the good experiences seemed optimistic and outgoing in general, and those with bad experiences seemed to have a more, for lack of a better word, anarchistic attitude toward the world and often wrote openly about breaking the few actual rules on the trail. Any thoughts?
I can only really speak from my own experiences, but in general, I didn’t hear of many bad experiences from other hikers. There were a few towns in which we were “warned” that some people weren’t “hiker-friendly,” so we were always sure to show our appreciation for their services that helped keep us going, and in most cases, we were greeted by friendly folks – but other than that, I don’t really know. I didn’t meet any rangers that treated us badly. Most wanted to talk about the trail, and they would ask for our permits, but they were just doing their job, and we thought it was fun to pull it out, anyway… like “why, yes! We ARE PCT thru-hikers! Thanks for asking!” We even had them sign it as a sort of souvenir! Even the rangers we met at the East Bank Trailhead when they turned us away from the trail (because of the government shutdown) weren’t “mean” or anything. They were holding to their orders, and that bummed us out, but you can’t blame them for doing their job… I don’t know if they truly understood the magnitude of our situation, but they were apologetic. Townsfolk were generally very nice, and when I think back on town stops, I think mostly of all the great people we met there.

Will you take time off again to thru hike anywhere?
I hope so! Adam and I are excited about truck driving, and will do that for a while to get our student loans and other debts paid off first, however long that takes… but after that, I sure hope so!

Are you going to someday go back to the section you missed?
Absolutely. I think if I get a chance to get a nice chunk of vacation time in the next year or two, that will be the first backpacking trip I plan. I was pretty bummed out to miss that last section, as I hear it’s really pretty with some pretty drastic trails – drop offs and steep views, which I love!

Trucking? Are you signed up for truck school or are you ready to go with CDL in hand?
I just recently officially signed up for classes to get my CDL. Adam has his already, so he’s all set. I’ll be taking a 10-week course in Appleton, WI starting in January.

Tonight, appropriately for this entry, I love interacting with my blog readers. Thanks for the questions, and I hope to continue doing little things like this as I keep writing through whatever adventures I encounter! You really encourage me to keep going!


11 thoughts on “Answers to your questions (Part 1 of 2)

    • I actually had a stash in the car. But there were several other hikers that used canister stoves and didn’t have much trouble finding fuel. I remember seeing it in stores along the way, and there were always low canisters in hiker boxes everywhere if you were ever desperate.

  1. Pingback: Hiker Robin Grapa on the Halfmile App « The Halfmile Project

  2. Thank you for all of this excellent information, and for all the rest of your blog also. If you don’t mind me adding a comment/answer to the discussion about Trailnames, I was there at what was probably the first use of trailnames on a National Scenic Trail: the AT in 1972. There were two ladies who thru-hiked that year, as did i. They had self-selected and adopted Lakota Sioux Native American names (neither of which i can remember how to pronounce or spell), one of which meant “Little Mountain”, and the other meant “Bear”. There were 36 hikers who are recognized to have completed the AT that year, and those two young women were the very first thruhikers that i am aware of who went by trailnames, with the only possible exceptions being relatively ‘famous’ people like Earl Shaffer (Crazy One) Emma Gatewood (Grandma Gatewood), and William O. Douglas (The Judge). So, not that it really matters in the great fabric of current trail life, the first names were chosen by their users, and they were both women.

  3. What happened to Tears? I am quite sure I read EVERY posting. And why didn’t Aloha hike? Might have missed this in the very beginning before I ran across your blog.

    • Tears and I finished up together – walked to the monument together from Canada. Once the hike was over, we both went home and have been busy with family and catching up with everything we missed back home. Her blog is

      • I’m so glad to hear you both finished up together. I was afraid you had a “falling out” re the best way to finish up at the end when there was no mention of her.

    • Aloha isn’t into the long distance hiking thing… at least not yet. He and I found this the best way to share the experience. I was able to fulfill my dream of another thru-hike, and he was able to take the time to support me and help other hikers, too. It was the best for both of us. :)

  4. I really enjoyed reading the answers to these questions. The budget questions were good ones. I never would have thought of those. When you think about it $5k or $10k for 6 months isn’t a bad budget.

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