This morning we pass the hiker we saw last night, a lovely young guy thru-hiking, taking his time, traveling solo. It’s always a pleasure to chat with other hikers on this trail and hear their stories. There aren’t that many people out here. The trail from the shelter cabin to Marshall Pass is a dream — gentle grade, lovely open views, clear skies.
In fact, I am starting to feel like that this hike is being blessed. Our weather, our bodies, our spirits —everything has been so much better than I expected. While I walk I often think of my dad, who died six years ago. He’s the person who instilled this love of the wilderness in me. Everything I know about backpacking I owe to him and the family adventures he masterminded. I know he would have been so psyched about this adventure. He would have joined us for a leg or two, or at the very least insisted we carry a Spot tracker so he could follow us online. It seems entirely reasonable to me that he’s still participating somehow — parting the clouds, holding off the lightning, easing our sore muscles as we sleep at night … Continue reading →
Rick picks us up in the morning as promised, and drives us to the Willis Gulch trailhead just off the road heading up to Independence Pass. We climb about 3 miles up to meet the CT at a junction at mile 4.3. Like I said, we weren’t about to hike on flatland all the way around the Twin Lakes reservoir just to get to mile 0.0 of the Collegiate West. Continue reading →
The only coffee shop open in Breckenridge at 6:30 doesn’t serve lattes, so I console myself with a donut. I’ve forsaken coffee on this trip because I like a lot of milk in my coffee and the powdered variety just isn’t right. Tea bags are much lighter, anyway.
We take the shuttle back up to the trailhead and start climbing right away. Up, up, up. I’m feeling great! I power on up on donut-fueled legs. We slog 3,600 feet up, topping out at 12,500′. We pass a couple of college boys having lunch at the pass, but the clouds are looking a bit iffy and we still have a few miles to go above treeline before our descent into the Copper Mountain ski resort, so we keep going. Continue reading →
We’re at the trailhead by 7:00 for the obligatory starting photo.
The first six miles are on a smooth dirt road, a good warmup. We’re lucky, the weather is cool; but even so, where the singletrack trail begins I hear a buzzing sound from underneath a bush. A rattlesnake! Continue reading →
The line at the Blaine border crossing wasn’t as bad as I had expected for a Friday evening.
“Any egg products?” the border agent asks.
Good thing my scrambled egg and polenta concoction turned out to be inedible. I don’t have to lie!
We stop by Costco in Bellingham for nuts, Kind bars, jerky, dried fruit. Our lovely friends in Seattle have turned their dining room into a staging area for us: drop cloths on the floor, boxes from Amazon, campsaver, REI piled up on one of them. It feels like Christmas! I get a red puffy hoodie and a new pair of Altras, Marc gets a Marmot rain shell. There are socks, sun sleeves, freeze-dried scrambled eggs. Continue reading →
We emerged in Durango on August 17, five days ahead of schedule. I haven’t written about the hike here on Gydle yet (UPDATE: yes I have, and you can read it all here) because it has taken me quite a while to 1) process the experience and 2) re-engage with regular life. When your existence is pared down to walking, sleeping and putting food into your mouth, normal life is so complicated in comparison. It boggles.
I don’t know if the hike “changed” me – but coming back, I feel the need for some change. So I gave Gydle a fairly major facelift. I hope you like the new design.
Because I found other peoples’ blogs about the trail so useful and interesting when I was planning, in the posts to come I’m going to tell the story of our hike, doing my best to leave all the interesting parts in and all the boring bits out. Plus a few photos. If you’re not interested, just bear with me. It will all be over soon and I’ll be back to my usual obsessions.
But first, a video:
Boy was I glad my man walked those 500 miles with me! And we would definitely walk 500 more!
Eight rice and bean dinners, with dried kale, red peppers, onion and cheese powder from a box of Annie’s mac & cheese. Eight scrambled egg dinners, with dried green chile and salsa bark and more cheese powder. Three dehydrated green chile stew dinners. Twenty-eight one-cup bags of quick-cook steel-cut oatmeal, with milk powder, cinnamon and dried fruit. Four bags each of dried banana circles, apple slices, and sweet potato leather.
No, I’m not being prudent and stocking up in advance of the Big One that experts predict has a 33% chance of obliterating Vancouver in the next 50 years.
This body I’m inhabiting has now accompanied the Earth on fifty turns around the Sun. Yes, that’s right, fifty years ago my little eyes first encountered our star and I began my journey. Every summer, when the planet tilts its northern pole forward in homage to the fusion reactor that keeps us all alive, I eat cake in celebration.
(Can you tell I’ve been translating a book about astrophysics and space travel?)
It’s an epic moment, to be sure. On a number of levels. Epic enough that I have decided to finally reveal what Gydle means. Continue reading →
After these first few months volunteering in the hospital, and now in the hospice, I am starting to come away with impressions. Things that stay with me, things I find myself thinking about offsite, things I am trying to learn how to digest.
The most important one is connection.
When you’re vulnerable like this, in the hospital or dying, things get pared down to the absolute essentials. Bodily functions, simple things. I got a good night’s sleep. A dish of ice cream.
The people whose suffering haunts me the most are those who don’t have anyone there for them. They are alone, navigating a system full of strangers, at a time in their lives when they are at their most vulnerable. Their suffering is amplified because of this. Continue reading →
I was saddened to hear of Baltimore’s erupting into riots this past week over the death of a young Black male taken into police custody. But I can’t say I was surprised. Baltimore, where we lived for seven years as the century turned, felt to me a place of simmering racial tension, of fear and finger-pointing on the verge of conflagration. Continue reading →