Updated: Apr 7
A few weeks ago, I took a well deserved vacation down to San Jose to visit my dear friend, Pattycakes. I met Patty in Truckee, CA, when I was looking for work to get resupply in 2020. It was quite tricky during the pandemic to get little odd jobs, since everyone was absolutely terrified of catching Covid-19. Luckily, a few people did offer my hiking partner and I a few bucks here and there while we were flying our sign at the Safeway stop sign. Even had a few people give us food!
Patty approached us with an offer of a place to stay and $50 a piece for cleaning up the pine needles at her family‘s cabin. It was fire season and it’s required for them have the area around their cabins clear to decrease chances of fire in the neighborhood. It was a perfect match! Patty is an older woman with some joint issues, so she couldn’t take care of it, and we were strong hikers looking for exactly what she offered!
While there, we had picked up about 11-13 bags of dry pine needles and even cleaned up the inside of the cabin. When dinner time came, I had fashioned her a asparagus and salmon fillet mean with butter and lemon juice in tinfoil, a trick I learned back when I was in culinary school. It was great to be able to do such nice things for such an amazing person during the pandemic, when everyone is avoiding other people to such a degree.
So that’s how we met. After I got off trail that year, I was in a bad mental space. Patty offered me a job to organize her studio apartment, offering to pay for my transportation down and back from San Jose. Such a generous offer that I did a complete overhaul of her space in 3 weeks! I worked harder than she wanted me to, but I am the type of person that throws myself into a project to either help me avoid my thoughts or to sort through them. After the job, I felt much better mentally, I needed that time and space away from everything more than I knew.
This time when I came to visit Patty this time, the last part of the project left was 3 big blue bins of pictures. I didn’t come down to finish the project, but I’m so glad I got to sit with her as she went through her life in photos. I got to hear all these stories about her wild life, great times and bad times. Being able to be there for her as she decided what to keep, what goes to her kids, and to friends, was really quite amazing!
I did get to spend a beau morning at Alum Rock Park, got to top just as the sun came over the hills. I got there so early that I was almost completely alone at the top of what I can only assume is the Alum Rock. It was the day I was supposed to start the PCT for the third time, when I was going to choose to hike alone for as much as possible, not to get involved with anyone to the point I share my equipment with them.
Being out there at the park, I loved the feeling of being out in the fresh air in the rolling hills of California. I have missed the feeling of true freedom of being out in nature by myself. Getting to decide how and when I take a break and what I want out of the day. I didn’t realize how much I needed that time outside, but I never regret the time I spend out there, feeling the call of the wild.
Patty and I also took a day trip to San Francisco where we went to an art exhibition called “Experience Picasso”. It was really cool to read about his life and to experience a wide variety of his art in such an incredible way! I learned that he was known as an ogre of a man, a womanizer and barbaric, as the exhibit described. He also wrote about 350 pieces of poetry, 3 plays, and was even in a movie!
All in all, I had a great time in the cities of Cali to end my winter! Now, the trees and brush are in bloom, flowers will soon be to pop their colors too. Right now in the PNW, we are experiencing our usual spring storms of rain and wind. I don’t like hiking in this kind of weather, I get nervous about the wind knocking loose branches around and for some reason, I get bad heat loss and can’t recover very fast from it, meaning I get close to hypothermia if I’m not careful. Not to mention if my feet get wet and cold, it can flare up my nerve damage, which is stupidly painful.
As soon as the weather calms down, I hope to be able to go out and forage on some hikes! I just found this really awesome program, PermaCrafters that I’m going to be exploring to learn more about the plants that grow near me, both edible and medicinal. I got to learn some foraging skills while hiking the PCT, so I’m very excited to learn more before going on another big adventure!
I will keep you posted on this new foraging journey of mine and write about what I’m learning! So stay tuned to learn with me!