Sunday, September 29, 2013

Um lugar de segurança--o meu carro

After a long day, I pull into the driveway, I turn off my car and I sit. I recoup. I'm ready for the day to be over, but I'm not ready to go inside. The car is so quiet. It reminds me of being in the woods. Which is silly,  because it's a car, but it has an incredibly calming effect on my soul. My safe space. 

So stupid that it's my car. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013


for a moment (to be)
for rain
warm bed
white noise
rustle of trees
wind so big
talk talk talk
of mountaintops
and of waiting (to be)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

As vezes, eu estou engraçado.

Also, why does jk auto-correct to jj?!

Viveres só uma vez!

(Is that the portugues version of yolo?)
Last minute trip to Bear Lake? Yes please. 
Magical Dani. 
Such a beautiful lake. And cold. 
Mars and D on a dock in a lake. 
We headed over to Bloomington Lake above Bear Lake to try out the the rope swing. It was probably more cold than Bear Lake, but I swung off like 5 times.  
So graceful. 
Good job guys. 


My father is a beekeeper. Well, he became one this year. We harvested our honey a couple weeks ago. 
After being attack by the bees (seriously, it was the Thomas/My Girl experience I had nightmare about as a child, but I did only get stung once) we got down to business:
First we cut the caps off with a warm knife. Then we stuck the racks in a centrifuge where we spun the honey out. 
Worth it?
12.5 pounds of the yummiest honey ever. 

Saudades das montanhas das Apalaches

Yup. Suchadork. 
The classic Katahdin pose. Where I will be picking up next go around. 

Feliz aniversario querida

That one time for my birthday...
This year I turned 27. So I went to Havasupai to celebrate. Almost. 
It got flooded. A lot. We unfortunately didn't find out till we were there at the trailhead. 
We of course stopped at the Hoover Dam on the way. 
(The sadness in this picture is overwhelming.)
So we went to Sedona instead. Not an equal trade by a long shot, but still fun. 
(Slide Rock State Park)
(Sterling Pass, a short hike; we never did find Vultee Arch though)
We did an overnighter up the West Fork Canyon. This is where we camped:
(My little tent under the little lean-to)
(Looking pretty good for a 27yo.)
The first three mile you criss-cross the river until the trail ends and you hike in the river for the next 3 miles. 
Worth it. 
Arizona is the prettiest. 
Then of course we thought it'd be a good idea to go to the Grand Canyon. We camped in Kaibob National Forest, right outside the park. 
Arizona sunrises. 
I've never been to the Grand Canyon. I had no idea I'd experience the awe that I did. It was incredible. 

Next time, Havasupai, next time. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ás montanhas poderosas

Utah Valley is surrounded by seven major peaks: Mount Nebo, Mount Timpanogos, Lone Peak, Provo Peak, Cascade Mountain, Santaquin Peak and Spanish Fork Peak. I have a goal of climbing all seven. Up until last week I had only climbed one of those mountains--Timpanogos. Then last week me and my friend Scott (who hereafter shall ne known as S) ventured up Lone Peak. It's elevation is 11,253 ft. Quite a difference from the Appalachian Trail. (This last stint I didn't ever go above 5,500 ft.) Lone Peak has several different ascent options. Jacob's Ladder and the Draper Ridge Trail being the most popular. Since we're too cool for popular, we took the trail less traveled: the Sawmill Trail. Sawmill doesn't exactly go up to the peak. Rather it goes up to the top of Big Willow Canyon, where you then have to pop over the cirque to the ridge of the mountain.
We started about 06:45. So early, but it was nice to get the lower elevation stuff out of the way before the heat of the day set in. As we got into middle and upper Big Willow, we started getting wet. Since it's not a very well-used trail, it was pretty over-grown with scrub oak and other vegetation, which was also full of dew. I wasn't expecting to get my socks wet on this hike, but wet they did get--almost soaking.

We stopped several times to rest/refuel with snacks and water on the way up. We finally made it up to the top of the canyon. It was bursting with wild flowers, and I'm kicking myself for not taking more pictures of them.
At the top of the canyon there's a beautiful alpine cirque. We scrambled up scree and boulders and finally made it to the ridgeline of Lone Peak. I believe our time that we made it up to the top was around 14:00. A long morning of climbing...But it was totally worth the view. From the top you could see into Utah Valley, Heber Valley, Salt Lake Valley and beyond. I wish I had brought a map to identify all the peaks with me to the top. (Another goal of mine is to know all the peaks of my beautiful Wasatch Range.)

Neither of us really wanted to return the way we came. We knew that we could descend into Bells Canyon, and with a little persuasion from me we decided to wing it and head down that way.
Note for the future: Always bring a good map with you if you plan on winging it...
We looked around for the best place to descend and thought we spotted a good slot to make our descent. It was a lot of down climbing. I was a little anxious to get down off the mountain. I was tired and knew it was going to take a while. (And perhaps I wanted to make it to the free Belle and Sebastian concert down at Twilight...) The point is, I got a little bit ahead of S. We were making rocks fall, so S decided to wait a little bit for me to get ahead of him more so he wouldn't make the rocks fall on me.
Note for the future: never get separated from the person you are hiking with; go down together, therefore, making yourself available to help the other as you down climb; you also eliminate the risk of making rocks fall on the one below.
It got to a point in the process of our down climbing that it was getting too steep to down climb anymore. I was getting extremely nervous at this time. I knew we had been dumb for choosing the path we did, dumb for separating, etc... I was worried that we were going to have to climb back up to the top and find another way down. Then a miracle happened. I saw mountain goat turds, and I thought to myself, "If a goat can climb all the way up here, there is surely a way that I can get down." Sure enough, after some traversing, I found a path that would lead me to some not-so-steep ground. The problem was that it was separated by a small glacier that hadn't yet melted. My only option was to slide down the glacier.
I'm sure you're wondering what happened to S. Well, I knew that at least he was alive because I yelled several times and finally got a response from above. (Stupid Kayte. Not cool for getting separated. Not cool.)
I sat down on the snow and inched myself slowly out to the middle of the glacier. I wanted to get out as far as I could before I started sliding to get away from some sketchy looking rocks that were sticking out. Before I could get too far I slipped.
Note for the future: Never slide down a steep glacier with only rocks to break your fall.
I slid fast. I panicked only somewhat and really dug my heels and clawed my hands into the snow to try to slow myself down. As I looked down below at all the rocks, I never really feared death, but I was terrified that I was going to get severely injured, and that was all I could think about on the way down. I was extremely fortunate and bounced twice on the rocks before I stopped completely. I got up immediately and didn't seem to have any major injuries that I could tell. I tried to take a couple of steps, but then the shock of what just happened settled in.
I'm not sure why it scared me so much, but sliding down that 50 or so feet of snow/ice was one of the scariest moments of my life. The only moment I can think of that scared me just as much, if not a little bit more, was when I fell 15+ feet off a lead climb a couple years ago. Being, in that moment, all alone made it a lot worse. I shed some (or a lot of) tears. I was sitting there for about 20 min before S finally showed up up above me. He slid down the snow as well (although I think his experience wasn't quite as emotional as mine was...). We were together again.
We made our way down into the canyon. It was all boulders. We probably hiked through about 3/4 mi of boulders before we went into some pine/spruce forests to search for the Upper Bells Reservoir Trail. We were very relieved to finally be back on a trail when we did find it. I think both of us had had enough of bush-wacking and winging it.

It was beautiful coming off Bells. The trail follows the stream all the way to the Bells waterfall, so there was plenty of water. S was a bit tired/sore/spent, so we agreed that I would hike ahead to the bottom and call my brother to pick me up and take me back to the car to bring it back in time to pick up S.
I got off the mountain about 20:30. Long day of hiking.
I have no clue what the mileage was. This guy made a very similar loop hiking/skiing, and he clocked it at 14.9 miles. I'm convinced that after reading through his route, we did slightly more--probably more in the area of 15-15.4 miles.
I'm positive that I would never recommend that route to anyone unless they went into Bells another way, but I don't regret it for a moment. All I wanted to do was climb a mountain, and I got what I wanted. I was proud of myself because the elevation didn't bother me much. (Except at the very, very top when I got slightly lightheaded, but I believe that had more to do with blood sugar levels than with elevation.) My energy levels were pretty high throughout the day, I even ran the last 2 miles from the Bells waterfall down to the parking lot because I was so eager to be done. I ended up hiking about 13 hours, which is a very long time for me. Even on the AT I never hiked longer than 10 hours every day.
S and I celebrated our getting down in one piece by a trip to the Sev for cold beverages/slurpies.
Two peaks down, five more to go...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Chegou a hora pra relaxar

Just a nice pano from the AT somewhere. I miss it. But I needed DC. I didn't even know it. I got to hang out with the wonderful Ceff. It's been too long since being in her company. I also got to spend some beautiful alone time in a city I love. 
DC is a place I grew up visiting. I feel like I've done all the touristy things worth doing. So I set out to visit some calming, unconventional sights. In my crocs. Don't judge me. They're incredibly comfortable. 

After a nice adventure that involved getting driven around on the cemetery tractor, getting hit on by the cemetery landscaper, Mario, that drove the tractor and almost peeing my pants, I finally arrived at the Adam's Memorial in Rock Creek Cemetary, or more commonly known as "Grief." This bronze statue by Augustus Saint-Gaudens took my breath away and I sat on the bench before it for some time soaking it in. It was commissioned by Adams when his wife unexpectedly took her own life. The official title is The Mystery of the Hereafter and The Peace of God that Passeth Understanding. I guess one of the reasons it struck me is because grief has been something I thought about a lot during my AT walk for some reason. And this sculpture embodied a lot of the emotion that comes with the grief we all feel at times. 
I also visited the National Shrine. Or the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. And it is the largest Roman Catholic Church in the US and North America. It was breath-taking. You can see the beautiful basilica from far away as you walk up to it. And inside the ceilings are covered in incredible mosaics. 
I'm so glad there exists quiet places to sit. I do that a lot I guess--sitting in the quiet. I believe I need it. 
DC was a time for winding down for me. I got a manicure and a pedicure. The poor woman made all sorts of funny faces as she washed, scrubbed and grated my feet down, riding it of dead skin and caked on dirt. Then me a Ceff went to Spa World. And I'm announcing to the world that I am now a Korean bathhouse enthusiast and I would even say evangelist.
I will spread the gospel of the bathhouse far and wide. There aren't many words to describe the relaxing nature of this experience, but here's a couple: hydrotherapy, naked, cleansing, healing, hot, sweat, comfortable. We spent a solid four hours at Spa World and could have easily spent another four. And we could have, because its open 24 hours. It's a phenomenon that I knew was there, but never really understood until now. 
Me and Ceff with post-Spa World faces. We are so happy and content. 
Now it's back to the real world.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A final chegou!

Wow. The Shenandoahs were such an awesome end of my trail adventure this time around. I only hiked about 30 miles into SNP, but it was a wonderful 30 miles. The trails are wider, the hills are rolling and the switchbacks are a plenty.
I've never seen a rattle snake in the wild, but I saw two rattlers in one day. It was pretty cool. The first one was quite skittish and slithered away pretty fast when Rylu, Strider and I found it. The second one I was all alone and he was a bit more territorial. He hoped just off the trail and just stared at me. He sat like that for a moment and I started getting annoyed that he wasn't going away. So I threw a rock at him. That was a bad idea. He immediately coiled up and started his rattling. And there he sat and rattled for about 10 min. And probably longer than that, I just was done after 10 min. Not impressed Mr. Rattler. Not impressed. I went totally around the trail by bush whacking a little bit. He was still rattling as I hiked away. Little bugger. 
Atop of Blackrock. Simply beautiful to sit and enjoy and be. Had I known that view was there I'd have hiked up for sunrise. 
The lovely, lively group all together: me, Rylu, Strider and Jupiter. I'm telling you, we're pretty precious. 
I finished my hike at the Loft Mountain Wayside, 886.5 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia. I hiked a total of 418.5 miles in 25 days. Not too shabby. To celebrate I ordered this humongous cheeseburger.
Someday I will really get a hiker's stomach. I felt like a wimp, I couldn't even finish the burger, but I had a big plate of fries to eat too, and if it's ever fries vs burger, I'm always going to try to finish the fries and sacrifice the burger. Deal with it. 
From Loft Mountain I said goodbye to my little hiker family and hitched a ride with a nice Canadian couple back to Rockfish Gap and from there I got a ride from the famous Dubose "Yellow Truck" Egleston back into Waynesboro. I went to Walmart and bought some clothes so I'd have something besides hiker clothes to wear on the train to DC. This fabulous girl and her equally fabulous husband drove down from Cville to pick me up. They gave me a shower, a shaver, a delicious Thai meal, a bed and ride to the train the next morning. Modern day heroes I say. 
God bless the Bosts. 
Now it's off to DC to spend some quality time with Ceff. 

Chuva, chuva e mais chuva

(A pano of McAfee Knob)
I have never hiked in so much rain in my life. I left Daleville on a Saturday. I tented at the Wilson during a super intense thunder and lightening storm that felt like it was right on top of me for a while. I could see and hear the lightening and thunder cracking right there. It was cool, and I was happy to be safe inside my tent. 
The next day proved to be a nice walk. Instead of going to the next shelter, I opted to camp at Jennings Creek, which according to my data book had nice swimming hole. I couldn't pass that up. I got there round five o'clock and the sun was still shining. I was able to get a good swim in and I even laid out on the big rocks. That felt good. And in retrospect I was happy that I had that moment, because I didn't see the sun for the next five days. 
Monday till Friday were five of the wettest days of my life. It rained every day. It was mostly drizzles and light rains, but three times there were complete downpours. I couldn't have been more wet had I just jumped in the river. The good thing about the rain is that there aren't any bugs and the morning spiderwebs that get spun across the trail are virtually non-existent. (These are, personally, two of my biggest annoyances on the AT.) Also, wildlife loves the rain. 
On day I walked by four of these eastern salamanders in a row, so I decided to count how many I could see in a day. I counted 46. These guys love the damp trail. 
I also saw several of these eastern box turtles. They are so cute. 
Also, this is the week all the berries started to be ripe. I remember last year being so frustrated because I'd walk past bushes of blackberries that were days away from being ripe enough to pick. This time around I had ample opportunity to get my share of berries. Blackberries abounded, but my most favorite were the wild blueberries. They day I hiked over the James River I picked handfuls and handfuls of them. They were so delightfully delicious. God bless picking wild blueberries in the rain. They were a grateful distraction. 
Truly though, hiking in the rain isn't as bad as you may think. Once you're wet, there's nothing you can do about it. Not only that, but once you're wet you have nothing to stop you from really tromping through those puddles and mini rivers that form on the trail. And it doesn't stop you from hiking through all the overflowing streams and springs that are suddenly brimming with so so so so much water. On the contrary, hiking in the pouring rain can be quite the fun experience. For me, as long as I know that my gear is dry in my pack and that I have a dry place to sleep, i.e. a shelter, I'm a happy hiker. 
This is the James river bridge. It is the longest foot-only bridge on the AT. The rain paused for about five minute as I walked over it. It was beautiful. 
My hiking buddies, Rylu and Strider finally caught up to me for the Fourth of July. (They had taken a zero in Daleville.) I was hoping I'd be among familiar company, because I'd already decided that I would be awesome and perform a four-song patriotic medley for whoever I would be camping with, and I'd prefer to do it before friends. Just call it my patriotism coming out. It was meant to be. We were at the Seeley-Woodworth shelter and someone had left a small American flag which I used as a prop as I stood up atop the fire pit and sung Yankee-Doodle, You're A Grand Ol' Flag, My Country Tis of Thee and The Star Spangled Banner for the grand finale. There may be a video of this somewhere at some point. Watch out. 
The next day we had a very intense day.  The downhill was The Priest. It was a 4 mile, 3000 ft, steep descent to the Tye river. I felt like I really booked it down that thing. It was a nice saw-tooth on the contour map as we had to go straight back up Three Ridges Mountain. It was a total 5618 ft of ascent and 6668 ft of descent. A good 20 mile day. (I was able to really hop up my miles after I got my trail runners. My feet were much, much more content in those shoes. Three Ridges was an awesome mountain to climb. The top was covered in clouds and it was super steep and rocky coming up. There was tons of thunder and it was really windy at the top. But it was flat and green up top and I felt great getting to there. 

This is a pano of Spy Rock, a flattop rock that was right before I climbed up The Priest.  
I rearranged my itinerary so that I would be ending up in Waynesboro, VA right before Shenandoah National Park, but I arrived in Waynesboro two days before I needed. So I decided to hike into the Shenandoahs until I had to turn around. But I did stop in Waynesboro for a stop at the outfitter to trade out my Big Agnes sleeping pad that had a very slow leak in the valve. I'd blow it up at night and within 4 or 5 hours I'd be flat on the ground. Big Agnes has an awesome guarantee on their products and makes sure that their customers are completely satisfied. I called them up and, no questions asked, they just said to bring it in to the next outfitter to trade it out. Waynesboro also called for a stay at the hotel, a shower, laundry and FOOD. Me, Strider and Rylu feasted at the Green Leaf Grill. Gourmet pizza, hamburgers, fries and some of the best artichoke and spinach dip I've ever had. Yum. 
We crossed this bridge (perhaps illegally) to get to the laundromat. It was only a little bit sketchy. 
A word about the trail friendliness of Waynesboro. It was amazing. There were people offering us rides left and right. I loved it! It's so nice when people are so generous and willing to help a hiker out. 
Next up, the Shennies!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Andando nas montanhas e feliz

Updates on the trail! Taking things slow was the best idea I could have had. My feet were so much happier. They really needed the break. 
After leaving Pearisburg I hiked into The Captain's to camp. The Captain is a trail angel who lives about 30yds off the trail. He offers his yard to camp in and his fridge full of every flavor of soda imaginable. (May I recommend the peach?) To get there you have to cross a river and the Captain so cleverly designed a pulley/zipline thing to bring you across the river with your pack. It was a fun distraction. 
One thing I love about hiking the AT are the wonderful and interesting people you get to meet. One night I camped with a vascular surgeon and another night a marine biologist. Then an anesthesiologist and then some elevator repair men (whom I impressed with my ability to pronounce Thyssen-Krupp correctly.) Quite regularly I was on the same hiking schedule with Rylu and Strider. We ended up sharing a lot of shelters together. Rylu is a thru-hiker and Stider is going to Harper's Ferry. 
I hiked past the Keffer Oak tree which is the biggest (in diameter--almost 18 ft) oak in the southern part of the AT. 

The highlight of this section of the AT for me was McAfee Knob. It's a beautiful rock outcropping that extends off the side of the mountain.
It had been raining all this day. That morning me, Rylu and Strider had all hiked over Dragon's Tooth, which is another cool rock monolith, in the rain. It was quite the experience down-climbing already slippery rock in the rain with a pack on. 
From McAfee Knob, my next big stop was Daleville. Walking into Daleville was so hot with never-ending views of town up on a rolling ridge. I was so frustrated and tired at one point that I just threw my pack down and took a 30 min nap in the shade. Once down, the trail opens right onto the main drag that goes between Daleville and Troutville--about 13 miles from Roanoke. And I checked right into the Howard Johnson motel and into the bath. I soaked and showered for about an hour. 
I traded out my Chacos for my trail runners in Daleville. My feet weren't recovering the way I wanted them to. Had I had more time on the trail, I would have kept hiking in them, but I knew I'd be more comfortable in my broken-in Vasques that I hiked in last year. 
I also had a very tasty resupply at the Kroger. Two words: smoked Gouda.  
Daleville marks 1/3 of the Appalachian Trail. It feels good to have that behind me and to know there's still so much adventure ahead of me. 
One-third of the way thru and happy.