Pacific Coast Highway

My Royal Steed

It is time to head south for the winter, I’ve arrived in Seattle and spent the past three days visiting with friends and preparing my bike for the long journey south along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)!! The temperatures are perfect here in Seattle a high of 70 for the day and lots of sun, let’s hope the weather stays this nice for my ride south. 

I might need a shake down

I’m very happy to finally be reconnecting with a lot of you via this post. I’ve been wanting to keep up posting while off trail and off journey but it felt a little out of context. But now that I’m back on track I’m excited to give everyone a little update! My last post also took place in the Pacific Northwest while in Portland visiting friends, since that July 21st post so much has happened and I feel so blessed to be on this journey. After leaving Portland, Pinkie and I drove the Columbia River Gorge to the Bridge of the Gods at Cascade Locks where she met a friend to southbound hike Oregon. It was a sad goodbye as we had such an amazing time road tripping together, but I was thrilled she was giving the PCT another go. 

Last time I hiked the PCT

That afternoon I camped out near Mount Hood and the next day took my time driving a very scenic route to Bend where I met my brother Pete, his girlfriend Terra and their kiddos. We had a great time hanging out in Bend and that night just before I was about to fall asleep I got a distressful text from Pinkie. Her hiking partner thought she might have a stress fracture in both feet and they planned to hike out the next day and asked if i would drive back up to Cascade Locks to pick them up. Of course!! Anything for a fellow PCT hiker and especially Pinkie! Secretly, I was really glad Pinkie was off trail because I really missed her company and was excited to surprise Phil when we picked him up in Belden Town. On our way to Belden Town we stopped at Crater Lake and then stayed in Ashland for the night with a great friend of mine Sue, her husband Dave and their two little ones Max and Stella. We had a great morning playing and visiting, only wished we could have stayed longer! Then in Dunsmuir we stopped for lunch and met up with some other great hiker friends! Proton, Dreamcatcher, Downtime and Rose (who I just met with in Seattle as she just completed her PCT HIKE!!!) 

Scenic drive in Oregon

Bella and Gavin in Bend, OR

The beautiful Crater Lake

Lunch with hiker friends in Dunsmuir

OB, Pinkie and I in Sierra City

Pinkie and I arrived later than expected to pick up Phil in Belden Town, we then drove to the next town where we met with another hiker friend Tequilla John, who is now sadly off trail due to stress injuries. That night we found a RV park to camp and the next morning drove to Sierra City where we met with another hiker friend Orange Blossom (OB) and retrieved the rest of our mail from the country store. The three of us then had a great drive down to Los Angeles where Pinkie and Erik hosted us for the night before we continued our drive to San Diego the next morning. In San Diego we only had a few days to gather our resupply gear, organize and pack because we were both headed home for Pierogi FEST! When Phil decided he was done with the hike he knew he wanted to surprise friends and family at the Pierogi Fest (A really fun festival in our home town of Whiting, Indiana that celebrates our Polish/Slovak heritage with the yummy little stuffed dumpling known as a Pierogi!). After I learned my Uncle Joe and cousin Nancy were coming up from Georgia and my other uncles coming in from around the midwest I wanted to go home too! So, I found a cheep ticket and was lucky to spend a week at home with family and friends celebrating those fabulous little dumplings! 

Potato, Cheese and Kraut Oh My!

Mr. Pierogi!!

The Baranko Gang

Pierogi Parade!!

Architectural Tour in Chicago with mom and dad

Kim and I at Millennium Park Chicago

Not wanting to be too far removed from the west coast I only booked my ticket for a week to stay at home, which in retrospect was not enough time. But after being on the trail and seeing many hikers go home for more than a week and not return I knew I needed to stay on the west coast and thought I would do more exploring in the west! Upon my return to San Diego I stayed with my friends Jeff and Penny, relaxing playing with their kids and getting some quality time in with Penny. That weekend I headed north for Las Vegas where I met up with my Alaskan friend Pete for a few weeks of bike riding, swimming, canoeing the Colorado and exploring the strip. 

Mountain biking in Red Rocks

Canoeing the Colorado

Hoover Dam Tour

Sadly, while there my car was broken into, they made off with a suitcase of all the pants and socks I own, a crate of books and most sadly a security box of my mothers/grandmothers jewelry, my pearls and passport. Luckily though they did not take my backpack which had all my camping gear! It was a stressful couple of days getting my window replaced, filing police reports and reporting the stolen items to my insurance company. Nothing will be able to replace my grandmothers wedding ring or the neckless my mother was married in or all the stamps in my passport, however, as my mother said, “whoever broke into your car and took those items must have needed them more than you”. She is such a kind and wonderful soul. But having that happen made me feel venerable and a little apprehensive about my up coming bike trip. I wouldn’t be hiding in the woods like I would be on the PCT but exposed on the open road, along a dangerous coastal highway, cycling from town to town, exposed and venerable, my bike and me exposed to the elements. Sure I’ll have a bike lock but that won’t stop someone from opening my panniers and taking what they want. It’s happened before, I once caught a man riffling through my bike panniers after work one night in Anchorage. He was homeless, most likely intoxicated and yet I still lost it. I was furious! I can only pray that I stay safe on this next journey and have the strength and positive thinking I need to overcome these fears and possible reality. I do believe in the good of humanity, hiking the PCT has truly shown me what love can look like in so many ways. The goodness the human soul poses is unbound-less. 

Speaking of good souls one woman whom I’ve always admired I had the pleasure of spending the past two weeks with! One of my dearest friends Sojourner just bought a house in Springfield, MO her home town. As I was on my way back to her place in San Marcos, CA from Vegas she asked if I would help her move from California to Springfield where she would be closing on house she bought sight unseen on Monday! Of course I said YES and was thrilled to be able to spend this exciting time in her life with her. So, when I returned to San Marcos we spend three days packing and loading her Budget Rental truck to move east! When we arrived in Springfield I fell in love with her neighborhood “Roundtree”! The tree lined streets, porches, walkability, alley’s and all her friends are her neighbors! We had an fun/intense couple of weeks cleaning and unpacking, demoing the kitchen and celebrating her new home! I’m so blessed to have this beautiful woman in my life and I’m so proud of her for taking this bold move into homeownership! I was so excited to meet all her beautiful friends and family and I am hoping to return for the Roundtree Halloween Extravaganza!  

Road Trip!


Sojourner and I

Sojourners beautiful new home!

On the horizon-
As I start out this bike adventure I hope to truly live in the moment and not hurry. To be calm and peaceful, I’ve packed a few items to help with this; my hammock for afternoon naps under a tree reading a good book, my packraft to float and exercise my arms after a long day of peddling and a frisbee for making friends at the beach! Of course though in true Lucy fashion I’ve always got something planned whether I can help it or not. I’ve applied for a ski instructor job in Garmisch Germany for the winter and was offered the position! I still have to pass the background check and hopefully this dream will come true of ski instructing in the German Alps! 

As many of you know I have been raising funds for three VERY important organizations in my life one of which is Bike Anchorage. Please consider visiting my Go Fund Me Page and donating a few dollars as I am trying to raise a dollar for every mile I ride!  

Stay tuned! 



The Life is a Journey

So much has happened in the past month and a half! 

Phil and I successfully completed the Sierras and had a blast in the high passes, deep valleys and incredible mountains! 

John Muir Hut

As of recent I have been off the trail since July 1st with a slight stress fracture in my left foot. It’s still quite painful and I recently got a medical boot to assist in the healing. 

Sporting a new boot

 Around mile 994 I woke up to two sore feet, thinking it was morning stiffness I brushed it off, however by mile 1005 I was in a lot of pain and knew something was wrong. That evening we arrived at the Kennedy Meadows Resort and Pack Station for our resupply, rest, shower and laundry. I knew I would not be able to hike the next 75 mile section to South Lake Tahoe, so the next day Phil continued on without me. I hoped a week off would be what I needed to heal up and get back on trail. Staying at Kennedy was a delight! A beautiful mountain setting with Cowboys, 4th of July vacationers and the ladies in the lodge supplied me with all the ice my little foot needed. 

Trail riding with Rosa Mae

Corky our trail lead

Making my way to South Lake Tahoe via a hitch from a great Trail Angel named Brian I was overwhelmed by the vastness off the city. It was Monday July 4 and everything was booked! Luckily the local outfitter, Lake of the Sky had a call list for Trail Angels taking in hikers over the 4th, this was a true blessing. I decided to call Kathy Johnson, she and her partner John took in ten hikers that night and many more over the consecutive days. It was the greatest!!! We joked with John and Kathy ‘we are your new kids’ as they made us a great grill out for the 4th and took us down to the beach on Lake Tahoe for the fireworks! Their generosity was unlike anything I’d experienced thus far on the trail. The timing couldn’t have been better; my foot being hurt, feeling emotionally drained and just wanting the comforts of a parent and a home. I’m so thankful to them for the love they shared with so many hikers! 

Hikers headed to the Fireworks

Phil was still on trail when I arrived in Lake Tahoe, however I expected him to arrive Tuesday evening as other hikers I talked with had seen him. Sure enough as John was at the trail head dropping off hikers Tuesday evening Phil had just come off trail and asked John for a ride. Phil told him he was waiting for his sister to text him the address of the house she was staying at and that she had a hurt foot. To which John asked the sisters name, ‘Oasis’ Phil replied and John said, ‘she’s at our house!’ What a coincidence!! Another rousing evening at the house with a great meal, lots of conversation and laughter then to top it off a family photo in front of the Bears with ice cream sundaes! 

Family Photo with John and Kathy

The next day Phil and I moved over to the Hard Rock Hotel to receive our friend Cat from Alaska. Cat came down to meet us in Tahoe to hike the next section up to Truckee; 64 miles. She arrived a day earlier than we expected so we scrambled to get fancy town clothes, Phil a hair cut and we haggled with the hotel for a room upgrade. Of which we got a suite with a jacuzzi tub for only $50 more!! The three of us spent a few great days in Tahoe before we hit the trail that Friday. At this point my foot hasn’t really gotten much better, but I had been icing it, trying to stay off it the best I could but still it was pretty painful. But come Friday I magically thought it would be fine to hike. Guess I thought I could ‘hike it off’. Well a mile into the hike, my foot is killing me and all I could think is ‘just get to the campsite, 7 more miles, that’s nothing, you’re fine’. Then I came to a junction in the trail realized I missed my turn but ran into a huge group of people, two of which happened to be chiropractors! Just my luck!! They sat me down on a rock and adjusted everything! The foot was healed! Well, for about 10 minutes then the pain slowly returned. That night Phil, Cat and I camped at Lake Aloha, a beautiful cool night, but the entire night I stressed about what the injury could be. By morning I decided to hike out to Echo Lake, get a hitch back to Tahoe and see a doctor to confirm what I suspected it to be, my worst nightmare; a stress fracture. 

Cat, Phil and I on the trail in Tahoe

Phil and Cat

Trail adjustments


While in Tahoe a trail friend Pinkie was passing through on a road trip with Ash (a trail friend I’d not seen since mile 86) and they were awesome to drive me to urgent care. What a relief since now after hiking 13 miles in two days my foot was in a lot of pain. The three of us got a cheap motel room and after my urgent care visit which resulted in an inconclusive X-Ray and ‘Stay off it for another week and if the pain doesn’t go away it’s a stress fracture, then stay off it for 6/8 weeks’. Since I needed to stay off my foot Pinkie and Ash invited me to join them on their road trip! Unsure what to do a National Park road trip sounded a heck of a lot more fun then being depressed in my tent for the next week or more. So, I joined in and from Tahoe we went to Salt Lake City; floated in the Great Salt Lake, toured Temple Square and visited with my sweet friend Theresa. We then headed north to Grand Teton NP where our friend Ash and holder of the rental car decided she needed to abandon the road trip and us to head for home. Pinkie and I were able to rally, get a new rental car and continue on north. First to Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Seattle and now Portland! It’s been a whirlwind and an awesome way to stay off my foot. 

Bonneville Salt Flats

Ash, me and Pinkie

The Great Salt Lake


Bison on the range in Yellowstone

Scenic St. Marys lake in Glacier NP

In Seattle we stayed with Emilie and Sylvan Lowens Trails Angels and the parents of Orange Blossom; a hiker buddy of Pinkie. His parents were a delight! They treated us just like family; opened their home to us for a few nights and we truly enjoyed their company. Only wish we could have stayed longer! Also, while in Seattle I got to visit with my friend Chad and hang out with his little girl Quinn and her Nana. We spent the day playing, reading and making blueberry cobbler made with blueberries from Nanas backyard. Yum. That evening I visited with my old college buddy Mikey and his wife Sherri and their little one Dylan. What a blast!! 

Dylan and Mikey strolling in Seattle

Now, in Portland I’ve been able to reconnect with an old friend from Alaska; Alissa and her husband Neil, they were great to host us for a few days while visiting the city! As well I got to visit my friend Nicole’s Farm just north of Portland in Scappose. Exciting to see the new developments and growth from our last visit. Portland is a blast as always; food trucks, Voodoo Donuts, Powell Books, beautiful homes and a great vibe! 

Voodoo Donuts!!!

Nicole and I at the farm

Tomorrow I’m thrilled to drive the Columbia River Gorge for the second time this year to drop Pinkie at Cascade Locks; the northern terminus of Oregon for her southbound hike of the PCT to the board with California. I only wish I could be hiking with her, however I’ve got more healing to do and plans to continue this road trip south. On Friday I’ll meet up with my brother Pete in Bend, Oregon. He’s starting a two week road trip of his own with his kids; Bella and Gavin as well as his girlfriend Terra and her two boys. I’ll tag along with them to Crater Lake then I’ll make my way to Ashland to visit another great friend from Alaska; Sue and her family. 

Now, the sad news… 

As my foot has not been healing as fast as I’d like it to I’m fearing I will not be able to return to the trail to finish the hike this summer. As of now with another 4/5 weeks of recovery ahead of me I’m focusing my energy on healing my foot for the second part of the journey: cycling the West Coast. If I am able to return to the trail sooner I sure as heck will, however would not want to risk re-injuring my foot. In the mean time I’m going to continue my road trip south to San Diego get my Subaru and head west for three weeks!! Hoover Dam, Zion National Park, New Mexico, Phoenix, etc! During that time I’m hoping to continue resting while also strengthening, I’ll have my mountain bike and try to swim often, yoga and work on upper body strength. I’ll also be looking for volunteer opportunities along the way. I’m open to any leads or connections you might have! 

The past three weeks have taught me a lot about myself, where I’m going and how I’d like my future to look, but sometimes in the end ‘you just never know’ what’s going to happen or what life will throw at ya. So, you’ve got to keep moving forward, dreaming, planning, keeping an open mind and heart. I’ve been so blessed to have run into Ash and Pinkie when I did as the past couple of weeks have been a blast! In a few days Pinkie will return to the trail and I’m so thrilled for her journey south. She and I have talked a lot about ‘Hiking the PCT’ and how in our case it started out as a hike from Mexico to Canada, but along the way life happens and as my little niece Bella would say, ‘You make plans and God just laughs at you’. Sometimes plans change and it’s not your decision and you might not have any control but it’s what you do in that moment that defines you as a person. How do you handle change in your life? For me when my foot started to hurt I was very sad and cried a lot! I prayed, a lot. But in the end I knew everything would be okay and I’d have to make the most of this time off trail. Which is why I’m so thankful to Pinkie for being such an amazing friend and sharing this road trip with me. Thank you and I wish you lots of lakes to swim in as you Sobo Oregon!! 

For me my PCT journey is not over yet, as there is always next year. However, my time has now taken on a new existence and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to travel the west and breathe in the landscape. With any luck this recovery time will be just what I need and I’ll be back on trail or at the least hitting the road on my bike come September! 

Much Love 


‘You just never know’

Due to a stress fracture in Lucy’s left foot she is currently off trail resting and trying to heal. Phil is also off trail taking a break from hiking. 

Please do not send any packages to future locations. Thank you. 

Backpacking 101

It has come to my attention that we have some younger readers of our blog, who would like to learn more about through hiking.  First and most important is:  leave no trace.  Try to enjoy the outdoors so it will look the same for the next person behind you, as if you where never there. 
•Plan ahead and prepare
•Travel and campon durable surfaces
•Dispose of trash and waste properly
•Leave what you find
•Minimize fire impact
•Respect wildlife
•Be considerate of others
Lu talked about her turtle shell, or back pack. how we carry everything we need. I will break it down as if it were rooms of your house and talk about what we do different in the outdoors.


This is the whole house all spread out.


First room (I’ll get the gross part out of the way)  the bathroom or toilet.


So when you have to go,  find a place off trail a hundred feet or more, this can be tricky because the ground may be too steep and you don’t want to fall off the hillside. When you’re done you don’t get to flush it,  you use the little shovel and dig a hole  (don’t use the shovel to put in the hole find a stick) put all paper and any thing you use in the hole and cover it. The hole should be 8 inches deep.  Be careful you my not have water to wash your hands, just hand sanitizer.
The bag in the picture is my shower kit really only used when in a campground or town with showers.


Next is your bedroom.  If you’re like me you hate making your bed.. imagine building your bed and bedroom every night, taking it apart and putting it in bags you can carry every morning.  The  bag that says eureka! Is my bedroom or tent, the little green one is my bed or air mattress, the big gray thing is my sleeping bag.  Remember everything as to fit in our backpacks.



Next up is the kitchen, the bottles and funny shaped bag are our sink or water storage.  At home you turn on the tap, outdoors we have to filter the water before we drink it or cook with it.  Which takes time so we like to conserve, or save it till we really need or want it.  Well for cooking we really just eat as much stuff as we can hold. You need to carry fuel to heat things up, I use the black thing with the orange bottom that’s my stove if I need to boil water to cook. Remember your carrying everything.  If I don’t need to cook it we do what’s called cold soaking, I use the container with the blue lid, put my food in it (like rice, beans, or oatmeal) add water and let it sit for a of couple hours, mix it before you leave camp carry it in you pack when you stop for lunch its ready, not hot but still tasty.   The big bag is all of my food for five days.


Last is my clothes they all fit in the yellow bag.  You will wear the same clothes eveyday when hiking, only at night do I change in to something, that’s kinda clean to sleep in.  I have extra socks when they get really funky, and will wash them when we get to rivers or streams.  Also we wash everything when we get to a town.  It’s really important  to have layers, or warmer clothes to put on when it does get cold.  My sleeping clothes are what I will put on under my hiking colthes, when it is cold.
Any questions please comment


As we looked up to the V shaped notch in the mountain we realized that is our portal to the next valley beyond. It’s a 14 mile hike from Crabtree Meadow (the base of Mount Whitney) to the top of Forester Pass; the highest point on the PCT at 13,200′. 

Assending to Forester Pass

We luckily met up with a few other hikers  at the base of the mile long switchback climb to the top. We were happy to not make the climb alone as it was later in the day and the snow would be soft not only on this side of the pass but the other as well. We had been leap frogging with Burns, Rambler, Goldfish and Cheesy Mama Bear all day so it was fitting to climb the pass together. 

Forester Pass!

Cheesy Mama and Phil decending Forester Pass

The snow travel is a big difference from the dry hot desert, it makes me feel right at home in these big mountains! From here on there’s not going to be a dry foot in the house between snowfields to cross and streams to ford. The hike from Crabtree to Forester alone had four stream crossings, one of which I had to stop and take a photo it was so pretty! 

Tyndall Creek stream crossing

This stretch from Kennedy Meadows to Kearsarge Pass took us 6 days to complete and we are planning another 6 day haul to our next food resupply point at Vermilion Valley Resort 95 miles from here. To give you an idea of what six days worth of food and trash look like I’ve included a few photos. 

Lucys 6 day food supply

Six day food supply fits in one Bear Canister

Six days of trash in one, one gallon ziplock

How many of you can get a weeks worth of food to fit in a Bear Canister? Or a weeks worth of trash to fit in a one gallon ziplock bag? I challenge you to try it, over the next week only use a one gallon ziplock bag for your trash and see how many you accumulate.  It’s an incredible feeling to be entirely self sufficient on the trail and even though we’ve had to lower our mileage through the Sierras our calorie intake has increased because of the elevation and physical exertion we experience climbing this high passes. 

Over the next week we will climb seven more high passes as we make our way to Yosemite Valley where Fire Whistler (Phil) and I (Oasis, I got a trail name!) hope to meet up with our brother Pete and his kids Bella and Gavin. So excited to be sharing this journey with so many friends and family, whether you’re reading this blog or lucky enough to meet us on trail. 

Parting ways with RVP at Walker Pass

Thank you for all the care packages, letters and words of encouragement! As many of you know my hope is to raise a dollar for every mile Phil and I hike and bike for three very special organizations  I’ve volunteered with during my time in Alaska. If you could please consider visiting my ‘Charity Causes’ page and sponsor a few miles, a days hike ($15/20) or an entire weeks worth of walking ($100). These organizations are very near and dear to my heart. I’ve volunteered as a Big Sister for eight years to my Little Brittany (she’ll always be my Little!) and truly believe in the mentorship this organization provides. If it wasn’t for the many of you who’ve inspired me and mentored me over the years I might not have ever found Brittany. I’m truly grateful for all the strong and gracious people in my life. 

Brittany and I chillin

The Special Olympics Alpine Ski team has helped me grow as a person in more ways than I could have imagined, my athletes strength and courage is what keeps me going everyday.   

Some of my awesome athletes

And Bike Anchorage for their unfailing effort to build a stronger and safer bike community in Anchorage!!

Bike Anchorage members Rock!!

I know many of you have been touched and changed by experiences and people, they can come in all shapes and sizes and I’d love to make this hike about something more than just a long walk but a commitment to those organizations who have challenged me, changed me and shown me the full power of what it means to give your time for the benefit  of others. 

Thank you! 



Mountain Selfie!

Are we there yet? 

The Mojave Desert

To Kennedy Meadows of course! If you ask just about any hiker on the PCT they’ll tell you the first 700 miles are just a warm up for getting to the Sierras and Kennedy Meadows is the jumping off point. It’s all we think about, leaving the dry desert landscape behind for the cool mountains and streams of the Sierras! 

The desert has been challenging with long water carries and water sources you wish you could laugh at and walk away from, but no, this is your last chance for the next 19 miles to fill up. And so you approach the concrete trough half filled with a thick layer of algae and slime, frogs jumping around croaking while tadpoles swim about below the surface. A tiny pipe at the corner of the trough drips water at the rate of one liter per five minutes and you think ‘Dear God, I’m out of water, thirsty, hungry and there’s a line six deep!’ I collapse in exhaustion, take a few deep breaths and pray. It took three hours to collect and filter six liters of drinking water and another liter for making dinner. Only 100 more miles to Kennedy Meadows, in my mind it sounds like paradise! I dream it’s a sweet oasis of tall trees, flowing streams of cool water and happy hikers leaving north for the tall peaks of the Sierras! Soon we’ll find out! 

Golden Oaks Spring

What has made the desert a more pleasurable experience has been having our dad be our support vehicle for the past 500 miles! Our dad has earned himself the trail name ‘RVP’ (RV Pete). He’s become a trail angel to so many hikers during the past 500 miles and many of them are green with envy at us having our own personal trail angel. Our dad has tirelessly met us at every road the trail has crossed, navigating the high mountain passes of the San Gabriel Mountains to the bone dry windy flat expanses of the Mojave. He’s a heroine for driving the the steep twisting dirt road of Jawbone Canyon Road to meet us at the high pass of Kelso Valley Road. This marked a point in the trail where the phrase ‘Hike your own hike’ takes on a very personal meaning. 

‘RVP’ on Kelso Valley Road

RVP met us at PCT mile 616 in the middle of a 42 mile waterless stretch to make sure we could at the least resupply with water to cut it back to a 36 mile waterless stretch. It was at that point Phil and I both realized 36 miles of no water and 100 degree temperatures was not for us. We grappled with the notion of carrying 9+ liters of water or jumping in the RV to get the heck out of there. We happily took the ride out. Offering a ride to any other hikers, a few accepted and many others declined accepting their waterless fate. 

A view of the 36 miles we bypassed

As we arrived at the Weldon KOA we quickly learned a forest fire had been burning just north of Walker Pass and the PCT was now closed from mile 652 to Kennedy Meadows! What now!? How to get there, our resupply packages for the Sierras, my beloved backpack how would we continue? We decided to wait it out, enjoy some downtime; a pool party, a shower, laundry, milkshakes! Thankfully we did and just a day later the Forest Service was able to contain the fire and trail will reopen soon! Phew! But during that time RVP being the heroine he is offered to drive us around the fire, despite knowing it would be a mountain road filled with twists, turns and steep grades. What a trail angel! 

Hanging with RVP has been a blast!

When Phil and I decided to hike the PCT together I couldn’t have imaged I’d be able to share this experience with my dad. It has been incredible to have him with us every step of the way! Many, many thanks to our dad;the trail angel, ‘RVP’, for being our biggest supporter and for the endless Dr. Peppers! 

Chilling in the RV with my Dr. Pepper

In a few days time he will depart for Boise to see his grandkids; Bella and Gavin on his way home to Whiting. It will be sad to see him go but I’m so happy I got to share this experience with him and if you ask him he’ll tell you ‘I did my job, I got my kids through the desert’ and that he did!! Thanks RVP! 

RVP and I in front of the RV.

Turtle Shell

Beloved Ariel 65

The day I discovered my beloved eight year old Osprey backpack had a fray in the right should strap was the beginning of a harsh reality; I’ll need to replace my backpack or as I call it my Turtle Shell. 

The replacement

Sometimes that’s what I imagine we all are just little turtles, shuffling about on this long trek north. Often, when Phil passes me going up a steep (any) hill I think it’s not the hare that wins the race but the slow and steady tortoise. 

Your backpack becomes a part of you; it’s everything you need to take you day to day, mile to mile, water source to water source. It carries; my tent, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, extra clothes, food, water, medical kit, books, maps… Everything! Phil and I ever so carefully planned every square inch of our turtle shell capacity so when I needed to temporarily trade my shell out for a newer model I approached this concept with some excitement and a bit of apprehension. Will this shell fit the same, carry my load as I’m used too? 

the contents of my shell

Osprey makes great backpacks and I’ve been increadibly impressed with their warranty department. As to not miss a step on this trail, Osprey gave me a loaner bag while mine is sent back for repairs to their Colorado based shop. In the mean time as this new shell has a few new bells and whistles I’m not sold on the hip belt fit and the capacity shape, my gear just doesn’t quite fit the same. After the first day my hips where burning with pain and decided I’ll need to carry the weight on my shoulders instead. My fingers are crossed that I will be reunited with my bag before we start out of Kennedy Meadows for our trek through the Sierras. 

A Changed Landscape

Walking through Southern California has presented a more diverse ecosystem than I was expecting and what is ever present is the mark wildfires have left on the landscape. From day one you know they were present, charred remains hiding under lush new vegetation, and it makes me wonder when did a fire last touch this soil?

 As we walked northward around mile  270 just out of Big Bear we experienced our first pine forest, magnificent tall trees, majestic, shading us as we walked. It was like a dreamland, not having to wear sunscreen or guzzling water from the heat, these pines cooled our hike and I fell in love with this forest. But as with everyday, the more you walk, the more miles you cover, you cross many ecosystems and watersheds (dry as they may be) and often times you turn a corner or saddle onto a new mountain ridge to find a completely new landscape. On this day around mile 280 I walked through my first standing dead landscape, an entire pine forest of charred remains. 

Not only that but as I rounded that corner a dry hot wind hit me and I started to realize the importance of fire awareness here in Southern California. Those dry hot winds something I’ve been experiencing everyday for the past two weeks; they start up in the afternoon and die down around 8:00pm, are they the same ones crews fear of spreading these fires? 

It hasn’t gotten easier for me walk through burned areas and most show signs of life as the understory comes back to life with green vegetation, of which I’d love to learn more about the succession in these areas. Coming from Alaska I’m no stranger to wildfire and after talking with friends up there they all talk of wanting rain for a fear of what a dry hot summer could bring. I wonder what will be happening north of here as we walk, will we need to bypass more closed sections of trail because of burned or unstable landscapes? I know many hikers last year had to detour around fires in Oregon and Washington, what will this year bring? 

Wildfire is not something I take lightly and Phil tried to give me the trail name ‘Smokey’ (Smokey the Bear) on day four of our hike as I caboshed his plans for making a fire in a very dry section of desert with light winds near where I planned to set up my tent. We had hiked into a desert valley, still 8 miles from water and running low ourselves. We found a great campsite with a old stone fire ring and Phil announced he would be having a fire that night I quickly retorted ‘Really, do you think that’s a good idea?’ To which he responded, ‘Okay, Smokey! That should be your trail name.’ That name wasn’t going to stick, however Phil now dawns the trail name ‘Fire Whistler’. A name given to him while we enjoyed a campfire with other hikers in a designated safe area for a campfire. Phil is an incredible fire master and he got the name because he looks like he’s whistling when blows on the embers to get the fire roaring. 

As I walked down through that burned area the landscape once again changed and became that beautiful forest of tall pines which I so thankfully slept in peace beneath that night. Looking up into the sky from the warmth of my sleeping bag I thought how incredibly blessed I am to be experiencing such beauty. 


Three weeks on the trail

We just made it three weeks on the pct, and we are halfway through the desert 350 more miles and we’ll start the Sierras.

image  Lu posted the question, what are we thinking about while hiking?   So, if your interested here is a stream of consciousness, from my mind.
  Wake up,  pack up gear, wow the sunrise is pretty, God I’m still sore, my feet hurt. Put pack on, man my pack is still heavy at least it doesn’t feel so bad when it’s on.  17 miles today that’s not to bad, I’ll lossen up after the first mile.  Say bye to everyone in camp.   It’s super nice weather today, left foot right foot.. Oh that pretty. 


   I wonder how everyone back home is doing, I should call people next time I have service.  Is it to early in the day to have a snack, what’s that smell, oh it’s  me, what snack should I have, yeah I love almond snickers.  These plants to are cool, I wish I knew more about plant species.  Who sings that song I like, how does it go ” Alabama Arkansas I sure do love my muw and paw”  could I name all the states,  maybe, the stupid small ones on east coast are tricky.  Wow, I should get a picture of that.


  When is this stupid trail going to stop going up hill?  I think I like up hill more, yeah down hill hurts my knee.. there’s  another hiker I should talk to them. “Hi”  “hi”
“See you later”  “yeah”.  I hope I have enough water, I should look up the next water stop, how far have I gone all ready?  WHAT?!  Only 2 miles.  I wonder what everyone  back home is up to.  

image My water stop later that day.  It took five minutes for the gallon jug to fill up, then I still had to filter it.