Hello girls, can you tell me the best place to poop?

Indeed it is a challenge sometimes to find a good poop spot…. those exact words were spoken by my German friend Chicken Champ (she’s a real German chicken champ!) and conversations just like that are very common out here. Life is rather simple. Focus is on survival. Do I have enough food and water? Which ramen should I have for dinner? Am I going to be warm enough. I heard someone say recently that nature is giving us permission to be here in its presence and we must respect that. I believe that to be true. I imagine hundreds of years ago the people who walked through this area understood that so much better than we do now. This trail has taught me to be more humble and to have more respect for the greatness of this earth and mother nature’s capabilities. In the last three weeks we have experienced some absurdly unusual weather for this area. We walked through the Mojave desert which for all intents and purposes should have been the hot, waterless stretch of the PCT for us. Instead we were pummeled by 60+ mph winds, sideways rain, sleet, hail, and snow. Frost on sleeping bags in the morning and wet feet during the day. As I sit here in Kennedy Meadows looking at the horizon and the beauty of the sierras north of here, it’s difficult to comprehend just how much more Mother Nature will be showing us in the next few weeks. Certainly more snow and wetness. But we are prepared. We have upgraded our gear so we won’t be cold and have safety gear as well. It will be an adventure filled with what I have learned to call type 2 fun. You know, the kind of fun that involves doing shit that sucks at the time but in the end you look back and say ‘that wasn’t so bad- in fact it was actually kinda fun.’

We have been blessed over the last couple hundred miles with amazing trail angels who have filled our stomachs and hearts with their kindness. I am now in a trail family sometimes called a tramily with some incredible people. Grandma and Frogger came from Golden, CO- they’re 25 and some of the kindest most generous people I have ever met. They have a lot of hiking and snow experience. Sugar Glider is my partner in crime from warrior expeditions and he hiked the AT last year. Amazing sense of humor and he may be the kindest person I know. Poppins is sarcastic and funny and listens better than a therapist. Chicken champ and Lost and Found are from Germany. Witty and goofy and they love to share their food. UV and Mango are from Alaska and love to plan and organize. In the end I have found my people. At least for now. We have a great dynamic and support system that will make getting thru the sierras a lot easier. I am blessed.

Grandma and Frogger

Sugar Glider

Poppins

Chicken Champ and Lost and Found

UV and Mango

Trail names and trail magic

Out here, everyone earns their trail name. And once you’re given it, it’s the only name you go by. For example, my friend from the warrior expedition is Sugar Glider. Because he flies over creeks and rivers like a sugar glider. I have met Braveheart (because he had blue sunscreen on his face one day), Hell Boy (hell in Hebrew is cardamom and he likes coffee with cardamom), Pringle (she likes Pringle’s), chatter (he talks a a lot), sticks (she stepped on a rattle snake and nobody believes her so they keep saying she stepped on a stick), BB (short for Breakfast beer- she drank a warm beer out of a hiker box for breakfast… gross). The list can go on for a while. There are a lot of hikers out here each with their own experiences. My trail name is Out Loud. Everyone here knows I’m not the most talkative person when in a crowd but apparently I talk to myself. Enough so that when someone asks me “what did you say?” I often reply “oh nothing, just thinking out loud.” I also walk alone often and talk to myself (but mostly the animals and critters). But now I never Jackie. This week, we crossed the 400 mile mark and climbed a few big hills including Baden-Powell. Named for the founder of the Boy Scouts, it was 3500 ft climb with a lot of snow. The trail wasn’t apparent so we climbed straight up the side of the mountain. The picture with the trekking pole shows the incline. That was a long day. However, Terry was very excited to see the top! One of the most intriguing things I have discovered about the trail is trail magic and trail angels. There are dozens of people who will park along the trail and bring beer, soda, food to give to hikers. Sometimes they take donations but often they don’t. It’s just free magic. And let me tell you. It’s magical. I don’t normally drink soda but since I’m burning so many calories a day a coke is the best thing I’ve tasted on some days. Not to mention the taste of a cold beer! But what gets me is the kindness of these people. They just want to share in our experience and it’s awesome. They are awesome. I cannot day enough about them.