Life is Great!



Recently I was lucky to be taken to an archeological site near where I live. The owners of the store where I work know all sorts of cool hikes and sites. This site is not well protected, so I was asked not to broadcast its location, but I am going to attach some pictures. I am excited to explore the southwest desert and Colorado Plateau. There are so many cool things in this region. I'll share them with you here (if I can figure out how), and on my new blog when I catch it up to the present. (address of my new blog)


Since I let the one year anniversary of my start on Springer Mountain slip by barely acknowledged (except on Facebook), I feel I should say something before it is too far gone. April 19th, 2012, I hiked up to Springer Mountain in Georgia and then turned around and headed north into an amazing adventure that lasted nearly eight months.


I am so happy right now. I love my new job, house, life and friends. I love my family and long-term friends even more than ever. I love my dog and my cats and I love snuggling with them. The cats and I have been together for more than ten years and I've had seven years with Maggie-dog.


Even before my AT thru-hike I was a nomad and moved my little family all over the USA together. I can't believe I considered finding them new homes. I think I would have greatly regretted that decision, though I am always a supporter of re-homing a pet if you can't give them what they need (not sending them to a "shelter" to die, though).


My fur-kids sure put up with a lot, including being fostered out to wonderful friends for eight months while I hiked. Without you, Jenn, Katie and Darryl, I couldn't have left at all. I can never thank you enough. I am thankful for all the support, kind words and love everybody gave me while I was hiking and even more now that I'm home. I couldn't have done it without you all and I'm loving all the new friendships I've made as a result of my thru-hike.


I am working on my new blog, but I'm struggling with it. As I get more hours at my new job I find less time to work on the blog, and when I do have time, I sometimes would rather hang out on Facebook or go on a hike. I still feel like my blog is homework. How funny. It's very rewarding and worthwhile homework, and important enough to do well. 


I have made it to Pennsylvania on my thru-hike in my new blog. With each entry I take the original blog that was posted here at The Dusty Camel and I edit it. I add memories and details I didn't then. I try to make it easier reading and fix any mistakes. I re-sized all my pictures to add to the blog and I add labels for the pictures and tags for landmarks, shelters and other things I passed.


I check my numbers and mileage and fix the mistakes I often find. I think about things and add my thoughts sometimes. It is much more work to "move" my blog than I expected (emotional work, too), but despite the mistakes I still find on the new blog, I am proud of it. I hope it's a useful reference for others and it is the best journal I ever kept. Thank goodness I wrote down all those details. I have already forgotten things that reading my own blog helps me remember.


I feel an urgency to catch up my blogspot blog so it will become my new blog and it will be current with my new adventures, but I'm at a part in my hike, on my blog, where I was having a hard time. I find myself reliving it, and struggling with it again, as if it's still happening and I'm partially stuck there. I also find a reluctance to finish my hike in the blog, as if by still working on it, and being in the middle of it, I'm still there. I don't really want my thru-hike to end.


However, I have new adventures to write about, and more planned, and I'm motivated to get out of the past and get current. So, for those of you who are following the new blog, I am pushing myself to make it a priority. I'm sorry I've been dragging it out, but life has a way of taking over. Luckily I enjoy writing, so this is a labor of love, not some unwelcome project. 


I received the check from The Dusty Camel for the money I raised for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. It's $150! Kind of lame, but I realized I didn't really do a fund-raiser hike. Not really. It takes a lot more work than you'd imagine to effectively raise money, and most of the work is done before you leave on your hike. 


Before my hike I should have raised awareness, sent press releases, contacted many groups with the story, asked people to pledge publicly per mile, gotten some sponsors, had a person at home who could set up media meetings along the way, deal with questions and keep up the publicity while I was hiking. I still would have hiked the same way, but maybe had a card to hand out, with the blog address and fundraiser info. Oh well, lesson learned.


I'm not sure I'll make my next long hike (the PCT) be a fundraiser hike, but if I do, I will do it much better. And thank you very much, those of you who contributed to the fundraiser. The money will go to the clinic which services the animals at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and offers low cost spay/neuter services to the local community. They deserve it, and though it's not much, it's hard won, and they will use it well.


I talked to a couple people at Best Friends about if they want to make any kind of big deal on their end for the presentation of the $150 check. They might want to, so I'm holding off with the presentation. I will get a picture to post up here, whether from my own camera, or a link if Best Friends writes something about it.


My job is perfect. Seriously. I get to drink organic, shade-grown, fair-trade coffee, make lattes and other awesome drinks, and help people find the perfect piece of gear, outdoor clothing, map or book. I love the people I work with, and I love the people who come in the store. I smell like coffee and it's an awesome perfume to wear.


I have already had the most inspiring and what I'd call amazing experiences in the Willow. One night a guy and girl come in the store not long before closing. We didn't recognize each other at first, but then as we talked about hiking the AT, we realized we had met on the AT in 2012. Her trail name is Nutter Butter, and we met up in Massachussets for about five minutes. She was hiking with Rainbow and Mamaw B. and they called themselves the Three Fast Ladies. We all visited for a few minutes and then headed on, never to see each other again.


They were faster, so I followed their register entries the whole way to Katahdin. I read how Nutter Butter left the women and went ahead, to finish faster for a deadline of her own, and of how Rainbow fell the final time about 40 miles from Katahdin and was unable to finish her thru-hike because of a broken pelvis that she had already hiked 200 miles on.


I had read about how Mamaw B. finished her thru-hike and became the oldest woman to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. Previously it had been Grandma Gatewood. And then Nutter Butter walked into The Willow, somewhere in Utah. How amazing is that!? I realized that adventurers who end up in my area are going to gravitate to this store, and I might even meet others I met on the AT or friends I have made online.


Another day a couple of guys came in, smelling of the trail, carrying well-worn backpacks. I asked what trail they were on and they said they were thru-hiking the Hayduke Trail. I have been reading online about this route, and had found a trail journal online, from a couple who did it in 2009. These guys both have trail journals online and have hiked the AT previously. It was exciting to meet them and realize that I can do trail magic in this area as well as section hike parts or all of this route. How exciting! I really love my job and my life. I feel so lucky.


Carry-On AT 2012