May’s theme is motivation! I have been working so hard on making sure the book is edited and all that, that my motivation to get it done has been to get backpacking as soon as it’s in to get worked on by professionals. It has been a main motivation since, obviously, I love to hike, and well, I’ve been working on this book for two years and I want to be able to share it!
Now the book is finally in and we wait to see what the cover design and the internal formatting are going to look like!! Everything is truly coming together and I couldn’t be
more proud of Abby and I. We probably wouldn’t have grown so close and I would definitely be feeling a lot more isolated without her. She has definitely been a huge motivator for me to keep working on this amazing project and to keep myself healthy by finding time to get outside, not to neglect that part of me while I'm working so hard. We will go outside together and get into our zone for our respective arts, and that has been the best time of soul maintenance!
So now that I’ve talked about current motivations, let’s get back to how I stayed motivated during 11 days of snow, when I went through the high Sierras during a three week storm. Definitely needed to keep my spirits high during that period.
I had just started hiking with this guy, Steve-o, who has hiked about 13,000 miles at that point, about 100 miles or so. I had no snow experience, other than the snow left in the desert (where I truly lost my mind about snow in the desert, California was supposed to be hot there, right??), which I HATED. I am not a snow person; I don’t mind going to the snow, I mind it coming to me. So I was completely nervous and asked him to give me a crash course in self arresting (stopping yourself from sliding down a literal mountain side with trekking poles or ice axe).
He didn’t give me so much as a crash course, as a “you’re losing your mind and having a bad time, I’m going to be annoyed as hell about going back 200ft to help you” type attitude with really good advice when he did show me things, such as how to glissade. I was absolutely terrified to be in the snowy mountains, we lost trail several times and ended up following bear tracks to where a family of bears burst out of the snow from hibernation!! How cool and totally nerve wracking is that?? So, it wasn’t actively snowing the whole time. It had enough breakage to sunburn my ears so bad, they popped in my sleeping bag one morning…. SUNSCREEN PEOPLE!! Very important on the ears, too.
What helped me was having a partner who knew how to keep us alive and was willing to help out more because I’d get myself into situations where I’d panic and had lost a lot of energy due to that. There was a day during that 60 mile jaunt, where I had lost his tracks, but followed other hikers’ prints to this log. One you couldn’t cross but I couldn’t see Steve-o nor other tracks, so I tried to cross it by scooting. Well, there was loose bark underneath me, so when I started to slip and started screaming for help, about 8 octaves higher than normal, mind you, I hear “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
Long story short, he helped me off the log, across the river, he then stepped right into a bog, soaking his shoes with mud. So we made camp, lit a fire (still under 10,000ft!) and started to cook and dry ourselves out for the night. He also carried Magic The Gathering decks, three of them, which we would use to pass the time when it was too hot to hike or, in this case, we were exhausted and needed something fun to do. I know of one person who hiked the PCT with a cribbage set, even!
A big motivation on trail is definitely what you chose to bring along as what I call “luxury weight”. I brought along a small stuffed zombie girl with red hair I named Zomballie, who my husband at the time had given to me just a few years prior. She was my inner child and was great company in those times I was alone or needed a sounding board. She was also my pillow! Multifunctional use is definitely something you need if you’re going to bother carrying something 1100 miles!! Something to help keep you grounded while you continually change your surroundings helps a lot of people on trail, and it certainly helped me.
I also carried journals and pens for writing. Most people use their phones, but… One, I can’t see my screen on bright sunny days, and two, I prefer old school just in case my phone does die. I’ve also used the paper to leave notes for Steve-o on trail. Before you ask, yes, we always picked up the notes we left for each other. Saved them for burning when we had a fire, which wasn’t too often, or they’d get thrown away with other trash. It’s important to keep your wilderness wild and to help pick trash up when you can.
I look forward to next week where I’ll share with you my most intense story on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2019! Hope that motivates you to keep coming back!