Archive | October, 2013

Day Four: Tahoe Rim Trail

24 Oct

October 24th
11.5 miles
Thursday morning we woke up feeling slightly more refreshed than the other mornings. The night had been warmer and we had both slept a little better because of it. We had our breakfast and packed up while enjoying the view of the lake before setting off toward town. Though we had over 11 miles to hike, it was almost all down hill which made for a quick morning. We only took one real break to eat before continuing on our way. We saw three mountain bikers, which felt like a lot since we had only seen one other person in the last couple of days!

We made it into town around 1pm (which meant we had knocked out 50 miles in exactly 72 hours!). We had to walk to the far end of town to pick up our drop at the post office before coming back and getting a hotel room in the thick of things. We dropped all our gear off and immediately went to the Tahoe Brewery for some beers and burgers (veggie for me). It all tasted delicious thanks to the hiker hunger we had already started building up.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in typical town day fashion- laundry, lounging and catching up on TV and the Internet. We may love to hike but we also love to rest when the time comes! 20131024-193845.jpg20131024-193857.jpg

Day Three: Tahoe Rim Trail

24 Oct

Oct. 23, 2013
Phipps Creek to Twin Peaks
17.5 miles

Well, it was hump day for sure. We both started the day a bit sore and tired. The adrenaline from the first two days had worn off and the reality of backpacking had set in. We were thankful to Jen and Em from the night before for prepping the water ahead of time. I climbed out of my sleeping bag to let down the bear bag and bring breakfast back to the tent. I crawled back into my sleeping bag and we drank our breakfast in warmth before breaking down camp. This morning was a bit colder than the previous and while there was no frost on the tent it was still quite chilly! Our camp was in the shelter of trees and the sun was still too low to even cast shadows. We started out the day with layers still on, and set off down the trail.
Jen and I have a nice rhythm when hiking. One leads, then we break, then the other leads. Today we made sure our first break was on a peak in the open for the sun was still climbing.
It is pretty noticeable at altitude. In the sun you are warm an in the shade you are not.
Today’s terrain was quite varied. We went from straight up rocks, to dirt path, to fire road. We struggled. Our bodies were tired and we were feeling the miles as we did them. When we stopped for lunch there was a lot of stretching and flopping about. Maybe even some moans and grumbles about the current state of legs. I also think we both took some Ibuprofen to help with recovery. However, we never complained. We made statements and observations but we never once complained.
Our afternoon was full of more difficult terrain, but also some fantastic views well worth the miles. We were afforded multiple views of Lake Tahoe, some beautiful mountains, and a fantastic ridge. We hiked through some snow fields, parted with the PCT, and ended the day with a 1500+ Ft climb.
Our camp was on a knob overlooking the lake with a magnificent sunset. Pictures here were taken with the camera not the phone so they will be uploaded later. Sorry for the tease, but trust me when I say it was beautiful.
We had exerted ourselves quite a bit on the climb and we cooled off fast. We set up the tent quickly and ate our dehydrated dinner of beans and rice with tortillas inside the those trusty nylon walls. With full bellies we bundled up and zipped in. The sun was setting and were ready to sleep. After a few recollections and observations about the day, we looked at the map and made our plans for tomorrow. We both groaned a bit as we made sure our alarms were set for early, and within minutes of the sun setting we were asleep.

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Day Two: Tahoe Rim Trail

24 Oct

Mosquito Pass to Phipp’s Creek
Day 2 we woke up at 7am to discover our tent was covered in frost- a first for our Big Agnes. We drank our usual breakfast (Slim Fast high protein, powdered milk and instant coffee combined with water) in the tent to stay warm while the sun rose a little higher. We packed up and headed out by 9am. The whole day was spent in the Desolation Wilderness, passing by gorgeous lake after gorgeous lake. Gilmore Lake, Dick’s Lake, Lake Fontanillas and the Velma Lakes were some of the highlights. We ate lunch at the top of Dick’s Pass with incredible views of the Wilderness on both sides. After 13.1 miles we stopped at Phipp’s Creek to set up camp because the next water was over 5 miles away. We ate one of our many Backpacker’s Pantry dehydrated meals we are trying (this one was Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken) and even had a dessert one- Smore’s thanks to Scott. We hit the sack by sundown, which is about 6:30pm out here. No late nights for these ladies!

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Day One: Tahoe Rim Trail

24 Oct

October 21, 2013
Echo Lake to Mosquito Pass
7.5 miles
After a relaxing night in South Lake Tahoe we got up early to get started on our last minute errands and coffee stop. Jen had done her homework and looked up the post office hours as well as the best place for breakfast. After getting to the PO we found that the hours on the Internet were wrong. It is not often that these two hikers are anywhere too early, so we decided to go ahead and get breakfast first.
We ate at the Driftwood cafe and it lived up to its Internet rating. It was delicious! Jen had a healthy serving of oatmeal and a muffin, while yours truly had potatoes with veggies and bacon covered with two eggs. Yummy! We both had our share of coffee and then off we went. We picked up two stuff sacks, a harder task than one would think in Tahoe, and then back to the hotel to pack. After gearing up we headed to the post office to send out our drops and get to the trail head.
We parked the car and started out around 13:00. The weather was amazing. We took it slow and hiked at a nice even pace. Our plan was to get at least six miles in before camping, and we were quite pleased to make it a bit further. We set up camp at the last site along Aloha lake. It was gorgeous. We ate a quick meal overlooking the lake. As the sun set the warmth left. After a quick bear bag we squirreled away into the tent and the warmth of our down bags. Sleep was not far behind. It was a beautiful first day out.

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Welcome to Tahoe!

21 Oct

We are here! Emily and I arrived in South Lake Tahoe this afternoon to do some final prep and get acclimatized before we head out in the morning. However, our adventure began before we even got here! About 15 miles outside of Tahoe we got our first opportunity to pay back some hitch hiking karma by picking up a female mountain biker in need. She had taken a big fall and was lost and disoriented, so we scooped her up and helped her get her bearings back before dropping her off with some locals. We have a lot more paying back to do, but it was a start!

We then arrived at our hotel for the night and quickly got the last of our food and gear organized. This was made a lot easier because we had been given a free upgrade to a suite with a separate sitting room and kitchen! We enjoyed the sitting room by doing Emily’s pre-race and pre-trail tradition- painting our toenails to increase our speed and stamina. It is scientifically proven. Try it.

Then we grabbed a bite at Stateline Brewery, known for its play on the “Keep Tahoe Blue” bumper stickers. The food was good and the beer was even better. We finished the night off with some sweets from the Nestle Tollhouse Bakery in town- something I couldn’t possibly miss out on! Now it is off to sleep so we can send our drop off in the AM and then hit the trail.

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Tahoe Rim Trail Prep

18 Oct

As we get down to the last few days before we take off on Sunday, I just wanted to post a few more details about our next trail, the Tahoe Rim Trail.  It is approximately 170 mile loop around Lake Tahoe, making it one of the few long distance trails that is a loop trail.  The peak season to hike is between mid-July and mid-October, so we are just passed the peak and are keeping our fingers crossed for continued good weather.   The temperatures are supposed to be upper 50s to low 60s during the day and around 30F at night. and word is that there hasn’t been any big snow as of yet.  We have packed plenty of cold weather gear to keep us as toasty as possible since neither of us thrive in freezing temperatures.

Why the Tahoe Rim Trail in particular?  Well we chose this trail for a few reasons.  First of all, it is a loop which makes logistics easier since we don’t have to figure out rides to and from the trail.  Second, Emily only has two weeks off from her current travel assignment, so we were looking for a trail that we could conceivably thru-hike during that time period.  Most people do the TRT in about 10-14 days, which made it a good fit.  Lastly, about 55 miles of the Tahoe Rim Trail is on the Pacific Crest Trail, so we will get our first taste of what is to come in April.

One of the main challenges to this trail is the altitude.   The trail ranges from about 6,200 ft to 10,400 feet in elevation.  Adapting to decreased levels of oxygen is going to be a challenge, but we have decided to try a few techniques to give us a leg up since we are both coming from sea level.  A few studies have shown that taking gingko biloba several days before and then while you are at altitude can decrease likelihood of Acute Mountain Sickness.  In addition, iron supplements increase oxygen carrying capacity, especially for Emily and I who are probably both anemic at baseline.   The last approach I am taking is using the “altitude chamber” they have at my gym.   It is my first experience with one of these and it is basically a small chamber with an elliptical and a treadmill inside that simulates the oxygen deprivation and pressure of 9,000ft elevation.  I have been doing my full workouts there 2-3 times a week the past few weeks to get my body used to it.  I have had Acute Mountain Sickness a couple times in my life and hoping that my workouts at elevation will help decrease my chances of getting it again.

While our initial intentions for the trip were to try out our new gear and get in shape, life has thrown us many curveballs as of late (to Emily in particular).  While we will still  keep these goals in mind, to me this trip has become more about renewing our commitment to each other as a team and spending time with my “sister” in the place we love to be most- the back country.  Life can get incredibly difficult and complicated and it is important to remember the simple joy of putting one foot in front of other.  Even if we are huffing and puffing as we do it!

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Here we go…

13 Oct

Well, it will be interesting I can guarantee you that. Since finishing the AT in June our lives have been a roller coaster. While I cannot exclude Jen, AKA Carrot, from this statement my life in particular has taken some very sharp turns. So before blogging about the preparations for the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT), I will recount the some of my experiences as of late. So if you will allow, I will elaborate. If you don’t care and simply want to read about the trail prep just scroll down and I will highlight it for you.

My life: Finished the AT in June. It was amazing! All of our families were there including part of our trail family. Could not have asked for a better finish, really. It was an amazing day.  After this I flew back to AZ only to make a quick turn around to head to DC for a Travel nursing assignment. Gil went with me, for he was part of the reason I picked DC. There is apparently world class BJJ here and he was excited to train. Luckily for me, AKA Lucky, I love my job here. I am new to the PACU setting but my coworkers and colleagues are top notch. It is a great blend of critical care nursing with the turn over of an ER. The unit is fantastic and has a manager that is one of the best I have ever worked for. This is important because in late August I found out that my partner and best friend of 15 years, husband of nine, had been cheating on me. Multiple times with multiple women. The details are grotesque and the reality horrific. I am betrayed and broken. If you do not know me you can ask any of my closest friends and they will tell you that I feel honesty is the most important quality in a person. So here it is; new job, PCT on the horizon, life plan in place with my partner, and in a matter of 24 hours it is all destroyed. The one person with whom I had trusted my life and my love took all from me that I knew to be true.  The next week was a blur. My parents were here and brother stayed the night with me to keep me off the ledge. Carrot arrived the next day from California. She got me through the hardest part. Jen kept me sane, let me cry and scream, and helped me to find a divorce lawyer that will see me through to the end of this terrifying process. She made it ok to go from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. She laid out a plan for me that put me into survival mode. Carrot even got optimistic and made a list of things for me to look forward to. I am not there yet, but I keep the list close at hand for when I need a reminder to keep keeping on. Work is important. My job gives me a reason to wake up on most days and get going. I am so thankful that I currently love my job for it has helped me in this time of unrest. I could not have asked for a better group of nurses to be around. No platitudes are given to me in response to my situation. Just a simple “that sucks, if there is anything I can do…”. This is important. For some moments in time I am sick of being a strong independent woman. Sometimes you just simply want to be quiet and let the pathetic wash over you. You do not want to hear “everything happens for a reason” or “God has a plan”. Because currently my response to that includes nothing but four letter words. I know people mean well, but my co-workers have really surprised me. There has been none of that. Just support and offers of copious alcohol. They do not look at me as if I am a wounded puppy, they look at me as if I am a Nurse, there to do my job. For now, that is my survival. I go to work. I come home. I have fallen into some old bad habits such as too much wine and cigarettes, but I know they are not to be permanent. Simple vices to get through to whatever will be the next stage of my life.

So now I ask you: What would you do if you were newly single, almost 40, and lacking of social skills outside of work? My answer… retreat to the wilderness. While Carrot was here plans were set into motion for the TRT. We will do another middle distance hike (maybe the AZ trail, maybe the Ozark trail) prior to hiking the PCT but for now the TRT. I fly on Saturday and we drive on Sunday after last minute preparations to Tahoe. We will spend 24 hrs at altitude before setting off so this sea level human gan get used to thin air. It will be an air sucking hike for me for I have indulged too much in the great crop of our nation as of late. But alas, I will do it. Carrot yelling and cheering at me in the same breath. Fun will be had by all. Also, we will be joined by our four legged thru-hiking companion Georgy. Let’s hope there are no porcupines to be hunted on this trail!

Tahoe Rim Trail Prep:

New Packs! We have both decided to go with ULA circuit pack for the PCT. This will be our trial run for the pack. After extensive research and talking with the owner of the company we feel that this is a good fit for our bodies and the minimum/maximum weight we wish to carry.

http://www.ula-equipment.com/product_p/circuit.html

I will set out with the GoLite 3 season quilt no longer being made as well as a sea to summit liner. Reviews to follow. It is going to be cold for us and we are setting off into new territory. Carrot will be carrying the new Zpack sleeping bag. So light! I am sure I will jealous.

http://www.zpacks.com/quilts.shtml

As for footwear I will be carrying or wearing the Innov8 trail roc 236, OR the Vivo barefoot SynthHikers. I believe Carrot is sticking with the Brooks Cascadia for they simply fit her foot the best and are tried and true.

http://www.vivobarefoot.com/us/ladies/synth-hiker.html

http://www.inov-8.com/New/Global/Product-View-Trailroc-236-Black-Blue-Pink.html?L=26

http://www.brooksrunning.com/Cascadia-8/1201271B300%2e050,default,pd.html?start=4&cgid=womens-runningshoes-trail

(It is important to note that while we hike extremely well together Carrot and I have very different builds and foot structure. Most apparel we agree on, but footwear is where we have to be different. Our feet and our bodies are simply not the same.)

We will carry Aggie. Our Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 tent that we did the entire AT with. This is not the tent we will use for the PCT but it is the one we own. I am currently seam sealing Aggie as I type. Lets hope she holds up!

https://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Detail/Tent/FlyCreekUL2

As for food: We plan on shaking things up a bit. At night we are going to try pre-made dehydrated meals split and wrapped in tortillas. We feel we need to get a feel for them and that they will be a good fit for the PCT. Lunches will be the same old Tuna and Nutella on a tortilla, and our breakfasts shall be our cold coffee/protein shakes.

Attire: Well, this one is still in the air. We have both bought new puffy beanies for night and plan on carrying a puffy jacket of sorts. I know I will have shorts and Capilene circa 1998, while Carrot has purchased some awesome new Ice Breakers long underwear. I do have a wool pair from EMS purchased last spring and we are simply waiting on a weather report to make a final decision. We will wear our Darn Tough socks, and some Lulu Lemon seamless long sleeve shirts. I will also carry a flannel bought this year from Patagonia. Please look to actual trail posts to see what we set out with. All of this is very subject to change.

Water Filtration: We are going with Sawyer. It was something we were in awe over during our last stretch of the AT.  We love the squeeze filter. We are going to give it a shot!

http://www.sawyer.com/water.html

As always we will have sleep masks, melatonin, and ear plugs.  A must for any RN and especially anyone on the trail!

 

OK. So a lot of info in one post. We will see if we can add on to this as we post of our hike. Please stay tuned for pictures and details. We will try to post day by day alternating voices so as you don’t get sick of any one of the two of us.

Happy trails dear friends. Wish us luck!