What it means to me

I have been inspired to create a blog post/YouTube video that highlights other female solo thru hikers on the TRT. I made a list of questions I might ask these ladies and one of the questions I have is, “What made you want to do a thru hike, and why do it solo?” I figured I should probably have an answer to that myself.

I’ve been following several stories recently of people who have hiked, or are are currently hiking, the Tahoe Rim Trail. One guy who shows up frequently on the #tahoerimtrail hashtag on Instagram did the whole hike recently in 7 days! He had to hike around 30 miles every day. I can hardly even imagine what that’s like .

And then there’s the ultra trail runners who can complete the thing in less than 2 days! I REALLY can’t imagine that!

But most people take about 10 days to 2 weeks to complete the hike. Doing the math, that’s an average of about 12-17 miles per day.

I’m planning on taking 3 weeks to hike it. That’s approximately 9 miles per day, with 2 “zero days” built in.

You see, my thru hike is not about doing it quickly, or being the first or the best. It’s not even about proving that I can do it. I KNOW I can. Heck, I’m building a house for goodness sake! If I can learn to do that from scratch, I can walk around a lake! And hiking is one of my absolute favorite activities. Who wouldn’t want to spend three weeks doing what they absolutely love to do?

No, for me, it’s much more introspective. I would not want to be away from my family for the amount of time it would take to hike the longer trails like the Pacific Crest Trail, but I am one of those people that do need some time on their own. This dream of mine was born in a time of turmoil for our family and I felt somewhat trapped in my life. I dreamed of being free to drop everything and hit the trail for months on end. Even when our circumstances changed for the better, the dream did not leave. Even though I do not feel the intense need to get away as I did 6 years ago, I know I still need some alone time to really think and ruminate over life. Backpacking for 3 weeks is a great way to get that alone time. I want to know what will surface when the normal everyday distractions of life are gone for a while. No cell phones (except for the occasional check-in – and for pictures, of course). No TV. No internet. No one to talk to.

I’m not even planning on taking a book to read, or podcasts or music to listen to. I don’t want the distractions. I just want to be.

To be really alone for a while. What a blissful thought!

So that’s why I chose to go solo, but why the thru hike and not, say, a section of the PCT? Well, to actually hike a trail in its entirety, to know that you completed it, (ie, a “thru hike”) is a very satisfying goal.

And the TRT is nearly in my back yard, and is the right length to give me a good amount of that solo time I am looking for, while still being easy enough that the average hiker can actually do it. In fact, I probably could hike it faster. But I don’t want to. I want to take my time. To savor the experience. To spend time in creation with the Creator. To be able to journal and sketch and really process what I’m going through, both on the trail and in real life.

So at the end of this thru hike, I hope to come home mentally refreshed, feeling closer to God, with a better understanding of who I am in the world, and with a great sense of accomplishment.

Oh, and fun. It’s gonna be a blast!

New Record, New Goals

Lord willing, in just 3 months, I’ll be several days into my thru hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Three months! Gah! It’s coming up so fast! (Really hoping and praying that Covid-19 will be under control by then!)

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that after my Havasu Falls hike – yeah I’m still planning a blog post for that – I took about a 3 week break from hiking. And then I realized my TRT hike was creeping up on me and I got back to it. But I wasn’t very consistent.

So I gave myself a challenge. I did not publicize the challenge or talk about it much other than with my immediate family. But I challenged myself to go for a walk/hike every day in the month of April.

Every.

Single.

Day.

No matter what.

Hiking on our property with the kiddos 4/1/20
Solo hike in the canyon below our house 4/30/20

I am proud to say that I was (for the most part) successful. There were 2 days when for one reason or another I just didn’t get a hike in. But that means that I went for 28 hikes in the month of April! Now, many of them were only a mile long. And I didn’t even start carrying a day pack until half way through, but I was out there (in the canyon behind my house – mostly on my own property because #socialdistancing and #stayinghome and #quarentine), and I was training. And here’s the thing. It may not seem like a mile a day is much, but I’ve learned that it does help. Today I went for a 2.25 mile hike with 630′ elevation gain. Just a couple weeks ago, that would have been a lot harder on me than it was today (nearly all the elevation gain/loss was in the first and last quarter mile!).

Steep and rugged descent! 4/30/20

And you know what else happened? I set a new personal record for the number of miles I’ve hiked in a single month! My previous best was 27.05 miles. As of today, April 30th, I am wrapping up the month with 37.35 miles – a full 10.3 miles more! And that’s by doing baby steps.

So where do we go from here? Well, I definitely know I do better when I have a challenge the meet. So I’m setting a new one: 40 miles in the month of May. #40mileMay #MoreMilesInMay

Exploring the canyon below our house 4/30/20

April’s challenge was about frequency, May’s is just about getting in the miles no matter how. In fact, I need to start going on longer hikes, but I don’t have time to hike higher miles every day. That’s the main reason why many of my hikes in April were only 1-1.5 miles. I am so busy. Yes, even during quarentine. We are a homesteading, homeschooling family and we’re building our own house. We are busy! So by doing more miles on fewer days, I can have more days to devote solely to projects around the house. And I get in those much needed longer hikes.

So yes, more miles in the month of May. Including some longer hikes. And loading up the big pack once more and taking it out on the trail.

And I gotta get the family hiking more, too. They are going with me for the first several days of my thru hike. They need to get in shape, too! And we have plans to go camping on our property to test out all our gear once the weather warms up a bit more.

On a family hike on our property 4/18/20
Solo hike in the hills above my house 4/24/20

Oh, and I’m still continuing with the 52 Hike Challenge. I only count my daily hikes toward that challenge if they feel like a real hike, not just a walk in the “neighborhood”. Usually that means more than an hour of hiking, taking my pack, and doing a bit of exploring, etc. Today’s hike was #23. With my new goal for May, I’m sure I’ll be logging in quite a few more “official” hikes. So far, I’ve gone on 23 official hikes and logged 69+ official miles since November 12, 2019.

Oh! And speaking of miles logged, I recently surpassed 100 miles for the year! That’s right, as of today, I have hiked 103.65 daily/training miles since January 1st! I totally didn’t realize it on the day I hit 100 miles or I would have taken a celebratory picture. All I got were some pretty wildflowers.

It’s good to have goals. It’s good to achieve them. It’s good to feel accomplished. And it’s good to set new ones, to always have something to be striving toward.

Discovery Beauty: an unexpected benefit of my training

In my last post, I mentioned that a couple of the hikes I have been on recently were on an urban trail in the outskirts of town.

I had been avoiding that trail for a long time because it is “urban”. By looking at the trail on satellite photos and reading descriptions, I always cued into the fact that the trail is essentially lined with houses. When I go hiking, I like to be out away from town and civilization. It also looked rather barren and boring since there wouldn’t be much of a view seeing that it was down in a ravine. Some of the descriptions mentioned trees and it being a pretty trail, but I didn’t have very high hopes. But in trying to find a trail which I hadn’t been on that wasn’t already covered in snow, I finally decided to check it out. And was very pleasantly surprised.

The creek is rather substantial, and is lined with aspens, cottonwood, willow bushes, and wild roses.

Yes, the rim of the creek ravine is lined with the back yards of the neighborhood houses, but the burbling of the creek easily shut out the noises of town, and the beauty of the creek and the trees eclipsed the fact that there was no view to speak of.

It is a beautiful little gem, and so accessible.

But I wasn’t really expecting much from the next trail I decided to explore. I knew from the descriptions that the only trees along the route were at the very end (the turn around point), but that the attraction at the end (a man-made irrigation canal that comes straight out of the side of the hillside) is pretty cool.

Again, I was very pleasantly surprised.

So, on December 28, I decided to explore this trail that had intrigued me since I first heard about it.

A slightly overcast sky lent a beautiful light to the rolling hills around me.

Up near the irrigation canal, the hills level off a bit and you can see for miles.

At the very end of the trail, there is a small stand of trees, which after miles of nothing but sagebrush, seems magical.

The canal exit from the hillside is not nearly as awesome as described when there’s no water rushing from it.

A lone pine tree sits along the canal.

As I traveled back along the canal on my way toward the car, I saw another trail that headed down through a little rolling valley. I quickly checked the GPS map on my phone and saw that I could take that trail back toward the trailhead.

As beautiful as it was in early Winter, I just couldn’t help imagining what it would be like in the Spring. Crystal clear blue skies, warm sun, green grass covering those hills, dotted with wildflowers.

Yeah, you can bet we’ll be headed back there in, say, April or May!

Or even having a picnic under these trees in the summer. Or playing in the creek.

This trail ended up being just over 3 miles and it took me 1½ hours.

If I hadn’t started training for my thru hike and if I hadn’t joined the 52 Hike Challenge, I might not have been looking for new trails to hike. My experiences in hiking these new trails has taught me to not discount any trails in the area. There is always beauty on any trail you might be hiking, and more often than not, it won’t even be that hard to find.

Kinda like life, I think.

So enjoy the trail you’re on and look for the beauty. It’s there.

Persistence

Today was an oopey, gloopey, soupy mess on the trail behind my house.

And to make matters worse, I was still feeling the after-effects of yesterday’s migraine.

But I slid into my muck boots and went out anyway.

It wasn’t a fun walk. Though I did enjoy the beauty around me, most of the time I was wishing I could be back at home laying on the couch.

But I did it anyway.

That’s how you achieve your goals, Ladies and Gents.

Persistence

-MammaBear

Nervicited

I’m excited yet nervous about the idea of spending three weeks on my own.

I’m “nervicited”!

(Thanks Pinkie Pie!)

This article came up on my news feed today.

https://www.rei.com/blog/hike/how-to-start-solo-adventuring?cm_mmc=sm_fb_76514-_-content-_-news_journal-_-soloadventuringtips

As I start planning for my solo-hike of the TRT, this is some good info to keep in mind. I do plan to do some smaller solo trips before then as well.

I can wait!

-MammaBear