No more PCT. But…

Adam called me from the trail one night, I think about a week ago already (I’m so behind on here, sorry!) and was going to find a hitch to the nearest town. He was thinking about getting off the trail. Like, for good. We had a nice talk, and he did end up making his way into town, got a hotel room and called the next day to confirm he was done hiking the PCT.

Disappointment was not a feeling I experienced from this news, but sadness was. It’s really hard to put into words. He made this decision because the hiking day after day just wasn’t his thing. There was a lot he did enjoy, and a lot he got from the experiences he’s had up to that point, but the thought of doing it day after day after day just didn’t appeal to him. I honestly can’t say I can quite understand because that is SO my thing, but I do know not everybody has the same level of interests, so, well, I guess I understand in a way. I certainly don’t blame him.

In fact, I give him a lot of credit for taking such a leap into the unknown in the first place and giving this a fair shot. So I’m in no way disappointed in him or his decision – at all. But I am sad – but I think mostly for selfish reasons. I was enjoying his stories, photos, emotions, blisters, smiles, tears, and seeing him crave that social interaction that comes with thru-hiking (I think he was on trail just a few days too early – he kept missing epic trail magic like grill-outs and cold beers, and the bulk of hikers hadn’t caught up to him yet).

Making trail friends!

I was enjoying sending him resupply boxes with little surprises and fun notes. I looked forward to hearing stories about him dancing at Casa de Luna, climbing into the Sierras, drinking from fresh snow-melted streams, growing that amazing beard, and maybe even glissading down a mountainside. And I was hoping to maybe visit him in June and hike with him and steal a taste of a thru-hike once again.

Also, on my end of things – I was just starting to get into a routine here at home. I’m running a lot when I can, and on my day off each week, I food prep for the next week in the truck, do my laundry, take care of the bills, tick off little things on my to-do list – I’ve been doing a pretty good job keeping myself busy.

One of my staple food prep items – duck egg muffins (the green ones are spinach and jalepeno)

I’ve really been enjoying having the car to myself when I get done with work. A perfect example (along with a little side-story) – last week Wednesday I got done with work a day earlier than I’d expected. So I parked my truck, threw my stuff into the car, speed-grocery-shopped and drove an hour to a trailhead to go for a long trail run before the sun set. I had no one else’s schedule to consider. I just did my thing and it was so awesome.

Quick side-story: I ran in my sandals because I’m trying to train for running a 50k in them. But winter won’t give up in Wisconsin, so I said to heck with it and ran in them anyway. I encountered snowy slush, freezing water and mud and thought my toes would freeze off. As it turns out, I was able to tolerate the cold feet. I made it six miles into my planned out-and-back run when I fell – running down a rocky hill – and caught myself with my left hand. A rock pierced my hand causing a large enough gash that resulted in my getting two stitches later that night. When I first saw the hole in my hand I immediately turned around and began the six-mile run back to my car with a buff tied tightly around the wound so the bleeding would stop. Once at the car I Googled the nearest urgent care clinic and rushed there, arriving 10 minutes before they closed. And got some stitches. It was quite exciting.

You see, the logistics of planning big training runs like this are easy when your only scheduling concern is your own. And to be honest, I’ve always felt a twinge of guilt going out for long runs or hikes on my own when I could be spending that time with Adam. I love the hell out of both things, so it’s a constant struggle for me.

And so during that run? I felt amazing. And free. Running is keeping me grounded while he’s gone – it’s keeping me focused, sane, healthy and happy. When I can’t thru-hike? I run. And now I’m getting to the point where I can run up some of the hills again. And five miles is comfy. I have energy to be out there, on the trail, in the woods, for hours at a time. It feels good. I want to keep going. And going… and going.

I miss Adam. I truly do. I miss his company and I miss his comfort – and his warm cuddles. But I’m just making the most of the additional time his being gone has provided me, and it’s felt kind of freeing. It’s time that I think I’ve needed, to be honest. So it feels like it might be a hard transition with this hard stop when he gets home. So much constant adjusting!

But then we talked some more, and it doesn’t sound like he’s done yet! And I’m so, so glad for him (and me, for now). Not just because I can go on my selfish way and run when I want and watch whatever I want on the TV when I’m home, and take the car wherever – and whenever – I want, but because he still has adventures to have, people to meet up with, experiences to experience, and thinking to do. And me, too.

One of the things I really hope he gets out of this time is a sense of freedom to make his own decisions and do some things he wants to do without feeling like he needs justification for them, or worrying about being judged or ridiculed or someone trying to talk him out of it all. He’s never really had a chance to do that, and now just feels like the right time for him.

So me? I’m just going to keep working for now and that gives me some time to think about where I’m going with all of this, too. Life is a pretty crazy thing. Who knows how long we’re going to be here, and that is another one of the reasons I am so happy that Adam is out there exploring himself and having this kind of freedom that I don’t think he’s ever experienced before. And I feel content working to support him at the moment, just hoping it’ll be enough to keep us going for a while. And in the meantime, I can drive down the road for miles and miles, watch the white lines fly by and dream about what my next adventure might be. I don’t know what and I don’t know when, but for now, it’s this. But I can guarantee you I’m not done. No way.

Before his decision to discontinue his thru-hike attempt on the PCT, he did have some pretty interesting experiences. He had a super-happy moment and recorded it, which makes me smile whenever I watch it.

And then a raccoon got at his food bag and sampled a little of everything, which forced Adam to throw any leftovers away. And then he hiked 40 miles, mostly uphill until he got to Onyx Summit and a ride into the town of Big Bear.

Damn critters!

He has some videos he took during those few days – with no food – and you can tell it was a struggle. But he made it. He’s so strong. He’s stronger that I thought he was. And I think he’s stronger than he thought he was. And that experience and many others on the trail (just look at some of the foot pictures!) prove that he can do anything he sets his mind to. There’s no doubt in my mind that if he wanted to hike that whole trail, he could. If you can hike over 150 miles, you can hike 2,650. But if it’s just not your “thing,” then it’s not. And that’s okay. That’s what doing these things is all about. Learning stuff about yourself. I’m just so proud of him.

He’s got a couple of ideas of where to go from here, and he’s already planning some of his next adventures – like camping and dayhiking, visiting a friend to do some gardening (which he is actually doing now, as I write this – hanging out with an amazing friend we met on the PCT in 2013 – Lion Heart), and even being a part of a movie filming (which at this point is an exciting for sure thing, too.) In fact, I think you can like the FB page, I’ll throw a link below for you so you can follow it! This movie is being put together (produced? I have no idea what movie-maker, script-writer, etc titles are correct, so I apologise for my ignorance here) by our friend Lion King (who Adam spent a lot of time with in 2013, and I knew of because he’d also hiked the American Discovery Trail.) So – lots of stuff going on!

Link to the FB for “Get Gone” the movie: https://www.facebook.com/GETGONETHEMOVIE/

But for now, we’re both just gonna’ keep moving.

Onward.

Go Aloha, Go!


Tonight I love the band Cigarettes After Sex. It’s just been on repeat lately. Can’t get enough.

A rare on-trail soda!

Yikes!

He mentioned that one of the “little” things he found he really enjoyed was seeing his shadow on the landscape. Pretty cool.

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PCTing, working, running

My view as I write. Trucks…

I thought it would be a good time to start another update on Adam’s PCT hike and what’s up on my end – because I had kind of a hard day yesterday. And because I’m sitting at a Safeway Distribution Center, waiting to get unloaded, and from past experience, I think that I’m going to be here a while. So I also have time.

After Adam’s crazy long day and on-trail zero in the rain, he got up the next day aged 40 instead of 39. It was his birthday. His 40th birthday! He had, I think, about 10 miles to go and he’d be in the town of Idyllwild. He was taking a PCT alternate to avoid a recent burn area, and the trail dropped him right in town. I think his original plan was to just get about halfway there and camp, then get into town the next day. But then he just hiked the whole way and got there that day! It hasn’t taken him long to fit right into the thru-hiker mold. Food and town and beds and showers and flush toilets and running water? They call at you hard when you’re on the trail, and when you’re *that* close to all those wonderful luxuries, you just hoof it. I’d say he’s gettin’ good at this hiking thing!

He did have to hike through some cold drizzly crud! Check out that snot!

Anyway, he made a pit stop at a campground along his route to town that morning, and sent me a text all excited because it had flush toilets! I responded what a nice birthday present for him! Flushies!

Break time at a campground en route to Idyllwild.

Once in town he got a room for two nights, with the plan to take a full zero and rest – and celebrate his birthday, because why wouldn’t he? It sounds like he ate food, found a good coffee shop (that also had heavy cream!), an outdoor store, got a room at a hotel that did his laundry for him (!!), and discovered since it was a weekend, there was live music around town. He landed himself at a place he thought had live music… His FB post said this:

“Oh snap! They’ve got a Jukebox here! Also, that live music I mentioned? I just found out it’s going to be provided by ME… Karaoke here at 8.”

Um, could his birthday turn out any more perfect? Karaoke is only like one of his favorite things ever! He even posted a few videos of his songs. Here’s one:

Before he left town, he stopped at the outdoor store and picked up a pair of Kahtoola microspikes for his shoes – in case Fuller Ridge was icy. Probably a pretty good idea. Especially after that podcast story I heard. Remember from my last blog entry? That girl? Who took a wrong step and slid down the mountainside, only to stop herself on a tree? I’m all in favor of those microspikes! They’ll also come in handy in the Sierra since it’s all full of snow now, too.

Some of his town booty.

Oh, and that reminds me… So Adam commented after my last blog post, “I love how you thought I didn’t know how bad you were freaking out. It was like when you have a good cribbage hand.” Yeah, it’s true. I get the biggest, stupidest smile on my face when I’ve got a good “barn-burner” of a cribbage hand. I can’t turn that off. And besides, after almost 17 years of marriage, I suppose he knows me pretty well. I really did think I was hiding it pretty well, though! I tried. I never have been a good actor.

On my end, after getting home after dropping Adam off in California, I had a weekend at home. I was crazy busy with getting some things caught up that we fell behind on in our hurry to get him ready to go last-minute. For example? Two hours of washing dishes. Ugh. I also checked off about 10 big things on a to-do list, including finalizing our tax return, going over our budget and bills and going for a 10-mile run! Among others! Hopefully my other weekends won’t feel so busy. This is taking some getting used to!

Me at the start of my 10-miler. Running is going to keep me sane. I think.

Then I went back out on the road with a load going to Colorado. Everything was going okay. Well, besides picking up my already loaded trailer with a low tire and a disconnected ABS light (thanks, previous driver, whoever you are! Grrrr!). I plugged the ABS light back in, and of course it was lit, so I had to make a stop at a shop to have them look at it. They cleaned out the connections and sent me on my way. Then it came back on and I stopped at another shop where they hooked it up, said something about a poorly spliced wire. He messed with it a little and sent me on my way. The light was out… For a little while, then it came back on again. I give up. The low tire? That turned out to be an easy one. I hooked up my fancy airline tire filler thing. It’s a hose that you hook to the airline of your tractor and you can use it to fill a tire. It was missing a valve stem cover, too, so I filled the tire, put on a new valve stem cover, and it’s held air ever since. Rough start, kind of a rough trip, and then I got to Denver and sat.

Hanging out way too long in my truck…

That brings me to yesterday. I had some extra time on this trip (which was good since I had to stop twice for the ABS light!), and my plan was to get a parking spot about 5 miles from my delivery at a Denver truck stop. No problem except that these truck stops are nearly always full. I planned to arrive in the morning, giving me the best shot at a spot. I arrived around 11am and the first truck stop was full, so I went to one on the other side of the highway and found a reserve spot for $14. I took it and shut down for the rest of the day – my delivery wasn’t until 7am the next morning.

I planned to take care of a few work chores, trip plan, do a quick workout, and then I was free to lay around and watch some Netflix. I thought it would be perfect. I did all those things and even took a nap, but I got a little stir crazy. I should have gotten out of the truck. All my fantasies of having time to lay around in my truck and just chill were not all they were cracked up to be. I need stay busier than that. I watched a show that had a girl that went to an underground wrestling match with a guy-friend and had a great time and it reminded me of when Adam got me to go to a WWE show with him and it was super-fun (they had giant beers, which helped), and it all just made me miss him.

Then he called and was heading out into the perfect, amazing wilderness in good spirits and I was just sitting in my stale truck being super sad, trying to hide it, but knowing this time that I was totally failing at it. It was hard. But after talking to him for a while, thankfully I cheered up a little bit. He has been so happy lately, and I can’t help but to eventually soak that up and be happy with him.

So I realized, that not only because I’m an active person, but also because Adam is so far away, I cannot just sit around for very long or I will go crazy. I start to miss him really bad, I start to think about how badly I’d love to be out there with him, or trade places with him, or just be anywhere else than where I am at that moment, really. You know, feeling sorry for myself in Sulk-ville.

But then, I eventually realize how amazing this all is, I refocus and keep moving forward, excited about what will happen next. Where will he be? Where will I be? Who knows! It’s a pretty exciting life right now!

Oh! An Aloha side story, before I forget! Aloha got “Aloha’d!” He got what he referred to as his “first unsolicited trail magic!” He was walking out of town on a curvy, paved road with lots of traffic and not a great shoulder when a lady pulled over and offered to give him a ride to where his route turns into a less-busy dirt jeep road. So he took the ride! Then she offered to take his trash, give him water… But he just came from town so he was all set. He could tell she just wanted to do something nice for him, and as she grabbed her pack of American Spirits, she asked him if he smoked. He told her he didn’t, but then she got this excited look on her face and asked, “weed?” Adam explained that he’s never smoked it before but wasn’t opposed to the idea. So she handed him a small bag of weed! Funniest thing ever! He’s in a state where it’s legal, so why not, right!? Haha! I don’t know if or when he’ll try it, but if he does, and doesn’t mind, I’ll let you all know how it goes! Weed! For his first trail magic! What a lucky guy, hey!? Too funny!

Just heading out… Must. Devour. Giant. Burrito. First.

On another not-as-exciting note in the story of my life, I got through a whole, successful week of 50k trail race training. My race is in mid-July, so I came up with a loose, flexible training plan. I’m actually on week 3, but the first two weeks were totally shot because that was when I was bringing Adam out to California, and I opted to trade in my training time for extra cuddles, cribbage and quality time with him (worth it!). Anyway, once I dropped him off, I jumped in on week 3 and finished it feeling pretty strong. I ran four times, my long run being a 10-miler, and all of them in my Bedrock sandals (which I’m hoping I can be ready to run the race in). So far, so good. I want to write more about that, too, so hopefully it’s not too dreadfully boring!

Cold, wet, socks and Bedrock sandals. Because that’s how I roll.

Right now, I imagine Adam is still sleeping snugly in his sleeping bag after a spooky night of twig-snapping and bear-sized squirrels stalking his little tent. He saw a coyote or something (hopefully not a kitty) right before going to bed, so he was a bit spooked. And me? Still sitting in the same dock, waiting for these lumpers (that’s what the guys unloading me are called. I have no idea why) finish taking all 40,000+ pounds of cheese out of my trailer.

Then? Onward.

Tonight I love feeling caught up on sleep. Been a while.

A taste of Adam’s amazing writing talent (this was a post he shared on FB):

[Narrated by David Attenborough]

The North American Leaning Hikertrash Tree. For those lucky enough to find its fruit, the nourishment provided can propel a backpacker to the next town or road crossing. Often when the fruit is visible, not far off are the trashpods, which birth backpackers in the morning, and the newborns pluck the fruit from the tree, carrying what they cannot eat in the versatile pouch along their spine.

Night hiking views!

The lobby of his hotel in Idyllwild. Cozy!

Foot pic! Not looking too bad so far!

I love this photo so much. I mean, I’m already attracted to him… Then he goes all thru-hiker on me! 😍

Town fooooood!

A pretty photo of the scenery coming down from Spitler Peak, I believe. Looks like rain!

Scary aftermath from a tick bite. (Which is already going away and he’s already thoroughly consulted with his sister who is a nurse, so try not to worry! He should be just fine.)

Another great Aloha selfie. 😊

Aloha’s first few days

What a great trail. This is from his first day!

Well, I just got off the phone with Aloha. He’s out there, right now, as I write this, laying in his tent listening to the rain pitter-patter on his tent, off and on, off and on. He’s been able to call me at least once/day, which has been so nice. Here’s the thing. When he left to hike the PCT, I was all cocky like, “I’m not gonna’ be the super-worried, over-fearful, totally-freaking-out spouse. I’ve been out there, I know what it can be like, I’m gonna be so fine.” But then I heard about a snow storm that was going to hit right where he was. I saw on Facebook (yes, probably my first mistake was to look on frickin’ FB), that other hikers were skipping the section he was currently in – because of the snow. I started picturing Adam trudging through knee-deep snow over a mountain pass and down slippery, icy switchbacks with no traction devices for his shoes, and nearing hypothermia because the snow got his gear wet, and I heard a story on a podcast of a girl that slid like 50 feet down a mountain side in the snow because she stepped funny and fell while wearing her Frogg Togg rain gear (which is what Adam has) and it was super-slippery on the snow, until she finally caught a tree with her leg and stopped herself, and another story about two girls that bailed on the trail to a road and hitched into town with purple lips and other symptoms of hypothermia, and Adam’s all alone… Yup, my mind was racing. I even almost posted this FB post:

Seriously you guys! I’m being the nervous spouse of a thru-hiker! Never thought I would be, having been out there myself! But it’s going to snow. And it’s going to get cold. And he’s out there. He’ll be okay, right? Tell me he’ll be okay. BTW – I hid him from this post so I wouldn’t freak him out with my freaking out, as I understand my fears might make his fears more intense. And who needs that on day 2 of a thru-hike? *sigh*

But… I didn’t post it. And I was really going to hide him from seeing it, and I also thought about other family members and friends that might also join in my fear and it would end up making everyone super-freaked out and we’d just have a huge freakout party up in here. So I’m really glad I didn’t post it. Because a short time later he called me. I told him all super-chill, “So, just so you know, no big deal or nothin’, but there’s like this snow storm coming through where you are, so I dunno, maybe just check the weather, and see what’s up…” and he knew about it. And he said he had a plan. And then I felt so better. And I was so damn proud of him, too. He’s so smart. And so fucking brave. Yes, I swore. I will swear when it really seems appropriate. I felt it was here. Because he’s just out there doing this thing, all by himself, with very little experience, and it’s amazing.

Day one selfie at the trailhead.

So how was his first few days, anyway? Well, he started earlier than March 21, which was the original plan. And thankfully it wasn’t going to be an issue with his permit since he was starting 150 miles north of the southern terminus where permits are more of an issue. That’s a whole other topic – the permit thing is kind of crazy. Anyway, he started on March 19th. He got dropped off right at the trailhead and hiked in 2.5 miles and set up camp. His plan was to go very slow. He knows about the scarcity of water in the desert and is planning around that, having lots of Platy bladders to fill if need be. His plan was to do just 5 miles/day for a while to get the hang of things and to be sure he doesn’t injure himself – he’s not trained and doesn’t have tons of experience or a fitnessy background, so he wanted to be sure he didn’t overextend himself right from day one. So his first day was nice and short, and he sent me some gorgeous photos – already! Just in 2.5 miles!

First camp.

On day 2 he went 4.5 miles. Sounds like he had a rough start. One of his three Platy bladders has a leak (I’ve had the same trouble with a Platy in the past – it’s like it’s either an amazing piece of gear, or a total fail, but it’s kind of a crapshoot. You find out on the trail, of course. They never leak at home.) So some of his gear got damp, but it didn’t sound like anything got too soaked. Then he was trying to explain to me about taking 10 minutes to unhook a zipper that was caught on something and he had trouble with his sleeping bag stuff sack (those suckers are tricky if you’re not used to them). But it sounded like he was still feeling pretty good. I know at some point he mentioned that he’d packed too much food. Just wait, hun… just wait… At the end of the day he hiked an extra mile off trail to get to a spring, where he filled up on cold water and camped for the night. I’m not sure if that was included in his 4.5 miles or not.

Day 3 was insane. So I talked to him more on Day 2 and we were talking about the snowstorm. If he stuck to his 5 mile/day schedule, he’d be on a peak at 7,000 feet the night the storm rolled in. So the one spot that’s going to get the MOST snow. He said he would do what he could, and make sure he had enough water and food to stay hunkered down inside his tent if there was too much snow, the trail was hard to see, or whatever. If he didn’t feel good about hiking, he’d wait out the storm in his tent. That made me feel better. But then he started talking about hiking up and over the peak. Like a really long day to get out of danger of the snow. And know what? He did it! He got up and over the pass, and down a bunch of sketchy switchbacks and a ridge. He started out at 7am that morning and hiked until 11pm that night! He hiked a bunch of hours in the dark to make it happen – and a rock scramble at night, too! He hiked 15.6 miles!! When he was only wanting to do 5! I was so impressed. He said he was sore, but it didn’t sound like it was as bad as he expected it to be. Then day 4? He took an on-trail zero day. He said it was raining, so he kept going back to sleep – he probably needed the rest anyway after doing such an unplanned big day.

He found some patches of snow.

So that is the current situation: I talked to him tonight, and he’s just chilling in his tent and resting up. He said to me kind of excitedly, “Tomorrow? I’m going to change my underwear! And my socks! And I’m going to get to that campground and shit in a toilet and throw out my trash!” He’s also been getting pretty excited about town food. In a couple of days he’ll be in town where he’ll take another zero day in a hotel to recoup and eat food and shower and rest and do thru-hiker things. Probably laundry while wearing his rain gear, and eat more food.

I asked him if he’s seen any wildlife. He says, “A few lizards and I think I heard a squirrel.” I don’t know why I thought that was so funny, but… it is. Right? Haha!

And I know it’s a long post, but I hope you’ve stuck with me, because the most exciting part of his first few days, for sure?? HE POOPED IN THE WOODS FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!! This is like a rite of passage. It’s like getting your first period. Or turning 21 and buying your first legal alcohol. Or getting your driver’s license. You get the idea! And his text message to me was this (God I love his sense of humor): “I should have been a WWII bomber! War would have been over immediately.” And in case I didn’t get it, the next message was, “I mean I’m quite accurate is what I’m saying.” Nice!! I’m glad his first woods-poo wasn’t a total “mess!”

The poop is not shown in this photo, don’t worry! ;)

So, yeah, sorry for the poop talk. Actually, no I’m not. It’s a thing. We all poop, right? And it’s one of the things you just get used to talking about as a thru-hiker. I mean, we talk about poop A LOT. Okay, I’ll stop. For now. Poop. Poo. Haha! 💩

I sent out his first resupply box today. We’re totally winging the resupply thing, so hopefully it goes okay for him. I figure he’ll be able to pick up normal crap food like M&Ms, pop tarts, cookies, whatever, in towns he goes through, so I’m trying to find things that are harder to get. Some clean, organic treats (which he might say to hell with altogether soon), and some staples – which for now are coconut oil, chia seeds, good quality olive oil… stuff he knows he won’t find in a gas station. So I’m not sending him a ton. But it was fun putting a box together for him. I’ve got to think of some more fun surprises to add – so shoot me a comment if you have any recommendations! OH!! And he told me he started thinking about Nut Rolls!!!! For those of you that followed my 2013 PCT hike, you totally know why this is crazy! So I’m going to find him some Nut Rolls because I know, from experience, that’s he’s not going to find anything except for PayDays, which aren’t nearly as good as Nut Rolls.

“Hold for PCT thru-hiker” 😊

I think that’s all I have for now. I hope you’re enjoying the updates, and I hope it’s interesting to hear what it’s like from the other side – the spouse of a thru-hiker, back home, worrying. I didn’t think I would. But I am. But it’s because I love the guy, so… you’ll have that, I suppose!

Keep on goin’, Aloha! You got this! Love you!

Tonight I love meatballs. I don’t care if it’s unrelated. I made some meatballs and they’re amazing.

Another “wow” view. Great photos, Aloha!

I think this is a shot from the edge of the burn area where the PCT is closed and rerouted.

One of my photos… Maps on the wall to keep track of his location and to help with resupply planning. (Thanks, Tim!)

The good-bye part

Gonna miss those cuddles!

Adam chose to start his PCT hike on March 21, mostly due to lack of permits available since we made the decision he should hike so late in the game. To get to where he needed to start, I put in a request at work to take a load to California, but hadn’t heard a peep, so we planned on me taking him to a train station in Madison instead. Then, on a Tuesday, work let me know they had a California run they needed covered. But we’d have to leave that Thursday. Like, in a day and a half. Game on!

With the taking the train plan, Adam had at least an extra week at home, had some loose ends to tie up spread out over that week, as well as a couple of training hikes he planned to get in. Then boom! Had to do it all in a day! We rallied – stayed up kind of, well, really late Wednesday night, but pulled everything together. I even got the most important thing done – I made Adam a butter cake for his birthday (early since it’s March 23rd and he’ll be on trail by then). It might have been 1:00 in the morning, but I did it! And it was pretty darn good, too! We were at the truck Thursday morning ready to roll.

Butter cake!

Close up of its yumminess.

The drive out was okay. It was nice to spend time together, listening to podcasts, talking about the trail, and Adam even read my PCT blog from 2013 aloud, and it was fun to relive a lot of that year. I took a few days off after I delivered my trailer of cheese Monday morning, and we got to really get some quality time together. We played lots of cribbage, drank coffee, ate lots of fun food, watched movies in the truck, got a hotel room for one night and had some beers and watched bad movies, and even took a 5-mile walk. It was nice.

We also drank margaritas!

Then I got my backhaul. Produce. Some of our most stressful times trucking was when we got produce backhauls. So it was a bit triggering for Adam and he had kind of a tough time watching me deal with some of the crap one has to deal with when picking up produce. Started with getting my appointment times and realizing it was nearly impossible to make it on time. I left as soon as I could and drove as fast as I could get away with in California (the speed limit is 55 for trucks), and was 20 minutes late, after pulling into the wrong place because my address was wrong. The right place was across the street, but it still made me later than I already was. I was told I had to reschedule my appointment because I was late. I called the broker, and he was able to get an appointment for an hour later, which by then was the current time, and they told me they’d call me when the load was ready… So it wasn’t ready at my original appointment time anyway. After a few hours I finally head to my second and final pick. I got a door right away, backed in and sat there for 5 hours. For six palettes. Six! Ugh… I was close to being out of hours when they finally finished with me, so we spent the night in the shipper’s parking lot. So I spent most of my day waiting around in dock doors without the option of going anywhere, and maybe made twenty bucks. It can be frustrating. Adam knows this all too well, and I could tell it was making him anxious. He needed to get out of that truck and on to the trail!

Finally the next morning I was able to scale, and was surprised I was legal with how much product they put on my trailer. Thank God. Off we went. One thing that worked in our favor was that the Sierra was getting a massive snow storm. I mean, literally 60″ of snow. That’s 5 feet!

No joke! Those Sierra storms! In March!

So driving I-80 over Donner Pass wasn’t going to be a very safe or wise option, so I veered south toward I-15, which would take me north toward Salt Lake City instead. On the way I was able to stop in Bakersfield, California – where Adam and I planned to part ways. It was the furthest south I could get him. And a bonus – I was able to pull right into the motel parking lot where he was going to stay because they had truck parking! We ate at the diner that shared the lot, got a coffee, got Adam and his few possessions settled in his room, and after kisses and hugs, I drove away.

A couple super-short videos of Adam getting a move-on.

It didn’t seem like I was going to cry – probably because I was so excited for him. But then as soon as I pulled onto the highway my nose got all tingly and my vision suddenly blurred through thick tears. Dammit. I was gonna miss him. So much.

About 10 miles down the road he called me. He left his trekking poles in the truck! I was able to loop around and go back – which was so worth it for one more hug. Every thru hiker leaves their poles behind somewhere at some point – he just got it out of the way right away!

And off we went our separate ways.

And, just to prolong our goodbye a little more? Lunch in Bakersfield.

I had a hard time sleeping on my trip back, and I felt totally scatterbrained. I had so much to do at home – I needed to get my goals and responsibilities into some sort of schedule and make some to-do lists or something. I just need to keep busy, which it doesn’t seem like will be a problem. By the time I got home I felt thoroughly exhausted. It was weird parking my truck and having the car there waiting for me – usually Adam would pick me up. I did all my grocery shopping right away, alone, got a coffee, alone, drove around, alone, got our mail from the PO box, alone… You get the idea. It’s all stuff we’d normally do together. So weird. But kinda fun. If I didn’t think about it too hard, anyway.

Then I got to our apartment and pretty much instantly went nuts getting all kinds of things done. Dishes, clean toilet, get Adam’s resupply together, laundry… Are you asleep yet!? I know, it’s the boring side of things… but I think it’s going to get more interesting. Maybe…

Now I’m sitting here writing all this after a super full day of errands – and I got my first long run in for my 50k training. It was 10 miles, went well, but I think I’m going to be pretty sore.

Training for a 50k! Gotta stay busy and focused!

So, next blog will hopefully be up very soon – I’m going to compile some highlights from the first week. Adam was able to get pretty good cell phone reception, so he called me at least once each day (so far), and a few great text messages and photos. And… something that totally surprised me – I got super nervous. I’ll have to tell you all about it. But for now, I must sleep, because I really need it before I hit the road again.

Tonight I love snot rockets. Here’s a little demonstration video:

We ate a ginourmous piece of carrot cake at a casino on our way out.

We actually drank margaritas twice. These were much better than the other ones.

After our 5-mile walk some serious thunderhead-looking clouds we’re building. Pretty!

Dear Aloha,

Dear Adam (or more appropriately in this case, Aloha),

You’re about to embark on a pretty crazy journey along the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m excited for you, and thought I’d do my best to help you along with a few bits of advice, most of which you have probably already heard, but… maybe not. So here goes:

  • Don’t go barefoot in the desert. There are pickers everywhere.
  • Don’t eat the pink snow. Or the yellow snow for that matter.
  • On a cold rainy day in Washington a hot meal will go a long way.
  • Every once in a while focus on each of your five senses with intensity.
  • Camel up at the water sources in the desert.
  • Swim when you can.
  • Call your wife regularly because she’s going to miss you.
  • Mix a cold coffee before a big climb for a boost.
  • Take lots of pictures of your friends.
  • Eat fresh green things when you’re in town.
  • Air out your feet at least once a day.
  • Be sure to catch some sunrises and sunsets.
  • Don’t pass up an opportunity to laugh. Or to cry.
  • Blister pain always hurts when you first start walking for the day or after a break – the pain will subside after you get a little ways down the trail.
  • If you hear loud noises outside your tent at night there’s a 98% chance it’s just a deer licking up your pee.
  • Never quit on a bad day. Or the next day. Or the next one.
  • Always carry safety pins so you can pin stuff off your backpack to dry.
  • If you were a girl I’d tell you to bring a pee rag but you’re a guy so you’re lucky.
  • Pay attention to the water report and plan accordingly.
  • Listen to your gut. It’s almost always right.
  • Err on the side of safety but if you’re unsure err on the side of whatever will keep your butt alive.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Dig a good cat hole and be sure to pack out your used toilet paper. It’s really not that gross once you get used to it.
  • Take risks but be smart about it.
  • A warm Coke really does taste good on the trail. It’s worth carrying out once in awhile.
  • If you’re going to clean your socks in a stream be sure to do it downstream from where people filter their water.
  • Be miserable, be happy, be sad, feel pain, feel joy, be mad, be numb, laugh – just enjoy the whole gamut of feelings because it means you’re human. And it means you’re alive.

And the final piece of advice – the most important one – look over that list I gave you one more time… And forget about it. That doesn’t mean to *not* do those things – it just means this: start with a blank page and start your own list. This is YOUR hike. All yours. It’s your journey, and you are going to have all of your very own, unique experiences. Make your own decisions and do the things you want to do. Be whatever “you” you want to be and make it all yours.

But really, maybe *do* call the wife once in a while. :)

I wish you all the luck in the universe, I wish you fair weather, plentiful flowing springs, and all the experiences you can handle. I hope you overflow.

I love you.

Love,
Robin (Toots)

P.S. A quote you shared with me… And a good one:

“One step, one punch, one round at a time. You got this.” -Rocky

Tonight I love the anticipation and excitement that comes along with brand new adventures. What a feeling!

More twists. Including the PCT this time!

A switcheroo I never imagined!

So, the latest twist in the tale of the Grapas is that, somehow, I became the truck driver and Adam became the thru-hiker. I mean, really. What is actually happening? I don’t know. But I’m not joking.

Adam is going to hike the PCT. He starts on March 21. He already has a permit. He just bought new gear. He just finished a little shakedown hike. It’s for real!

March 21, folks. That’s like, really soon. This was a decision we made together, ohhh, about two weeks ago. No big thing. Right? Well, yeah, it’s kind of a big thing.

Adam had just picked me up from the truck and we went to a Starbucks and were talking. He was having a significantly “down” day, making us both feel a little hopeless. I honestly don’t remember how it came up exactly, but we started talking about long hikes again – which he has brought up a few times since quitting the trucking thing – specifically that he kinda maybe wanted to try it. But then we got the apartment, he started driving for Uber (which was one of THE biggest hassles EVER! And I know, you had NO problems, neither did your friends, and their friends… This is just what we categorize under “The Grapa Curse.” It honestly could have it’s own blog post, but these things tend to get flipped the middle finger, thrown over our shoulders and put behind us. Maybe. Hah!)

Anyway… The PCT came up, and we both decided he should do it. And he should do it now. Like start this spring. I mean, I’m just working… A lot. And if he went now, he’d be able to hike covered under my health insurance, so that’s pretty sweet. And if he got out there and absolutely hated it, or something breaks, he can always come back home to the exact situation we’re in now. There’s not a whole lot to lose, and there’s a whole bunch of positive experiences to gain. Talk about *the* perfect treatment for depression and anxiety! Nature! Fresh air! Personal accomplishments every day, both physically and mentally! A self-esteem booster. A confidence builder! All the good things. I know thru-hiking changed me for the better. For the stronger. I have hope that it can work for Adam, too. What. Better. Time?

So off he’ll go. Am I jealous? Duh. Yes. But I’m equally – no – more excited for him than anything. He can have his own experiences and maybe find himself somewhere he didn’t expect. I think it’s going to be the best thing for him, and when the time is just right for something like this, why on earth would you let that go? The decision was pretty easy… Just a little tough because of the big change. But also exciting! Life! What the heck!?

As for me? I’m gonna work. Still a lot. It’s just the nature of trucking. Make money, pay the bills, hold down the fort, send Adam resupply packages, cheer him on, and run. I decided to focus on running so I’ve got something to get me out of the house when I’m home and out of the truck while on the road. Also, to keep me distracted from some obvious loneliness I’m going to inevitably be dealing with. I already signed up for a 50k, so it’s on. Shoot. I should probably start training for that now. I’ll have to write more about that later. The race is in four months. Yikes.

So the focus right now, is to get Adam… er… Aloha (his trail name, which he got in 2013 while I hiked the PCT and he trail angeled his way up the trail) all geared up and ready to go.

Here’s to more crazy changes and grand adventures!

Tonight I love… Adam in a Patagonia Nanopuff! (Easily one of my favorite pieces of gear I own, even at probably 10 years old. So glad he’s got one now, too.)

Just showing this photo again, because… Can you believe it? And that Nanopuff! 😍

His pack is already looking PCT ready!

More important training! Live on, PRT (from 2013)!

Life out of order: an update

A bit of time has past since my last, somewhat dramatic blog post, so I thought it was time to share an update. First and foremost, Adam and I are doing just fine, which is by far the most important thing to know. But underneath that blanket of “fine,” we are busy working our way through life, just like everybody has to do. It’s just that some moments are way easier than others. 

So I really did start driving solo. Adam came with me on my first run, which we both quickly realized was probably a mistake. I think we were both a little afraid to be away from each other after literally being a few feet away from each other for nearly three years in this truck. Being apart would feel like some sort of life line had been severed. Right? Well, we had to cut that line. That first week was hard. Adam was triggered into rage by the slightest issue, and eventually resorted to crawling into the bunk and sleeping to distance himself as much as he could – – for most of the week. It was even a consideration at one point that he take a bus home! It was a wee bit stressful for the both of us. But as always, we just trudged through and made it out okay. 

It wasn’t a super-easy week as far as trucking goes, either. I had a rough start, hooking up to a trailer that was actually backed into a shop to have the back doors fixed on it, making me a little late for my first pick-up. Then I had some tricky deliveries that I would normally wake Adam up for so I had someone to spot me in – blindside angle backs and super-tight docks in the back of malls with tons of parked cars and pedestrians wandering about. But as he slept, I backed in all on my own and didn’t hit anything. I may have had to get out and look about 15 times on two of those deliveries, but I don’t care about that – I didn’t hit anything, and that means I was safe and successful. So I really did end up getting some good experience that first week, and it was, honestly, a little comforting to know that he was back there JUST in case I really got myself into a pickle. But I didn’t, and I felt way better about really, truly being out there on my own – it really boosted my confidence, which I needed. 

A little more on my solo driving in a bit, because after that first trip, on my home time, something crazy happened. We signed a lease to an apartment. We haven’t lived in a “place” for five years. Five!  Here’s how that went down: 

I took one extra day off to breathe after we got home from that first run, and Adam and I holed up in a hotel room. We needed to just take some time for ourselves and get some things organized before I truly hit the road alone. On my last day off, on a total whim, we drove out to a farmhouse in the middle of the country to look at a furnished apartment for rent. This farmhouse is converted into two rental units, side-by-side, and basically shares the yard with the landlord’s brother’s house. And a barn. And a dog. And 12 cats. And cows, tractors, fields. And a place we can plant a garden, make a compost pile and build a fire pit. Fire pit? Where do we sign? Oh, and there’s a washer and dryer in our unit! 

An apartment after five years! So many adjustments needed…

So we did sign – an actual, real lease. The only con to this situation is that, well, besides the fact that we’re now paying rent, is a 45-minute drive from where I’ll be parking the truck. But otherwise, the pros are all the things listed above, and it’s furnished. So we don’t have to go out and buy all the furniture (it’s been five years!). Also, it’s imperfect – which makes it perfect for us. It’s old, it’s got character, it’s got crooked porches, the dryer door is on backwards (but works just fine) and the heater is weird (but keeps the place warm). It’s also super-dark at night, and super-quiet. It’s just right. For us. For now. 

After that exciting day, we split ways for a while. Adam stayed back to sign the lease and move all of our belongings in that we had in a corner of a friend’s storage unit, the basement of another friend’s house, our car, and some from the truck. And then he locked it up and head to Phillips to spend about a week with family. He played with nieces and nephews, visited his parents, his sisters, my parents… And each time I talked to him, he sounded relaxed. I tried not to talk too much about work with him, but had a little trouble with that since that’s all I’m immersed in right now.  

My second run was a fun one, because I got to drive to California! I knew how to drive to California! I took all kinds of time to trip plan, check weather, figure about where I wanted to stop each night and about when – basically I way over-planned it. And then the obvious happened. Everything changed. I got to the place where I was going to pick up my loaded trailer, and it wasn’t ready – and ended not being ready for 12 hours after it was due to be ready. So I took an impromptu 10-hour break there and started fresh at about 10:00 at night. I was going to be driving all the way out to Cali on a 3rd shift schedule. I ended up kind of digging it. Traffic was low and it was easy to find parking in the mornings when I was done driving. 

On this run I got to take my first 34-hour reset on the road (I really should do a blog about trucker’s hours). This basically means I needed to stop for 34 hours so I can reset my 70-hours I’m allowed to work in an 8-day period, which I was very low on after driving out to Cali. It’s seriously so complicated. But anyway, I was able to make it to Sparks, NV where I went for a run, had dinner at Black Bear Diner, found a little coffee shop for a delicious decaf cortado, and even watched a movie in the theater! It was actually pretty cool. I did the same run to California the next week (which I’m in the middle of as I write this), except that I had to stop in Denver for two deliveries, and then to Cali. And my reset was during Thanksgiving day, so my holiday consisted of a 5-mile hike through the desert (I was in Barstow, California), a salmon dinner next to another trucker named Larry who started our conversation by telling me he bought his girlfriend a real zebra for Christmas, a delicious dessert at Starbucks – my fave – a quad-shot decaf cappuccino made with heavy cream, and then a nap. That’s where I am now – post-nap, feeling great. (Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!). 

One of my favorite running paths on the road – in Sparks, NV

Adam is back at home with family, and I even got a chance to do a short video call with him while he was at my parent’s house for our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I guess he was playing bartender and barista getting everyone tipsy and caffeinated. It sounded like he was having a really good time. It gives me so much comfort out here when he’s with family and so relaxed. 

So, we’re still working through some rough patches (not relationship stuff – mostly just life stuff), obviously… I mean this isn’t a super-easy fix, and patience isn’t either of our strong suits, but we’re trying. Having the apartment to “go home” to is actually pretty comforting right now, but also, feeling “settled” is a little unsettling for me. But I think I’ll get used to it a little more each time I go “home.” As far as Adam’s plans? We don’t know yet. We kind of promised ourselves we wouldn’t have him start anything until at least the new year so he’d be forced by time into trying to unwind his tangled head a little bit. He’s leaning towards a few things, but we’ll make a move on that later. 

So in the end, I really do feel like we’re on the upswing here. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that we still need to work through on the regular, but that’s all we really can do right now – deal with one thing at a time. 

Thank you again, to all of our family and friends that have really stepped up and showed your support through all of this. I can’t tell you how much it means to us! Whether it was leaving a small message or clearing out a spot in your basement for us to stay or offering a private sanctuary if needed – you all have been amazing people and I feel so lucky to have all of you in my life. You make rough roads like this just a little smoother. So thanks. 

Next on my bloggin’ agenda, I’d like to give you all a tour of our new digs! Once we’re fully settled in and used to the place, I’ll get some photos and tell you all more about it!  

***A quick update to this update. This seems outdated because it is. After I wrote this, our beloved Subaru was hit in a parking lot by some jackass that took off, no note, nothing except a dented bumper and broken reflector. This spiraled into a per-itty rough few days. Adam sort of melted down, as some of you already know, and that was not an easy thing to navigate. Like I mentioned earlier, life. And right now? Well, it feels like I’m on a rollercoaster that just might come off the tracks… 

To the person that hit our car and took off? F*@& you. You’re a douchecanoe.

As for the car? It was totally drivable, but it was something that needed fixing. It happened in the Festival Foods parking lot, right in front of a surveillance camera, which Festival would not access for us without a police investigation. The police considered it a “no fault” accident since it was a parking lot, so there was nothing they could do, either. Soooo… Apparently hit and runs are “okay” in parking lots. No one’s at fault. Soooo… Next time you hit a car in a parking lot? Look around, shrug, and drive off. I guess? That’s what people do. So our car is currently in the shop after an insurance appraisal of $900 damage and a $500 deductible paid by us through collision insurance. But no fault. Hmm. Life. Sometimes it’s… Well… A challenge. 

And now, I’m sitting in the truck at a truck stop in Indiana after some planning and  realizing JUST how tight my hours are going to be this week (will I have enough to get me home for my vacation, or will I end up stuck somewhere en route?). I mean, I knew it was gonna be tight… But it’s gonna be pretty close. Gotta do this perfect, that’s all. No big thing. 

*sigh*

Life. 

Onward. 

It’s what I do. 

Update over. Until next time.***

Tonight I love being in warm weather in late November. It’s kind of glorious.

Currently: “The scream becomes a yawn. I’ll shut up and carry on.”