Out of control…

This hike is beginning to become all about food. My day goes like this:

Wake up starving. Eat pop-tarts with peanut butter, and granola bar. Pack up. Walk for 30 minutes, eat another bar. Walk a few more miles, eat crackers and cheese. A few more miles and a chocolate bar.

Lunch time. Bread with a thick layer of peanut butter. Beef jerky, gummie bears, teddy grams, dried fruit, trail mix.

Hike a few more miles and eat another protein bar. A few more miles another protein bar.

Arrive at the shelter starving. Eat anything else I haven’t eaten during the day before I make dinner. Dinner is a Pasta side kick thing, or cous-cous, or mashed potatoes. Then I finish off with more gummie bears or candy, beef jerky, possibly another piece of bread with peanut butter. Spoonfuls of peanut butter, and more gummies. Sometimes I justify eating more trail mix and beef jerky if I have the option of buying more the next day. Then I force myself to brush my teeth to end the eating.

Rest and repeat.

Oh and sometimes I steal M+M’s from friendly section hikers…

One fine day

The day started the night before…

I hiked to a monastery and camped in a ball field. Upon arrival I saw that my friends had ordered pizza to the ball field! I had to order pizza too, so I scanned the menu to find the perfect pizza pie. One in particular caught my eye, Hawaiian; pineapple and Canadian bacon ( I was feeling homesick). So I ordered a large and ate 5 slices and saved 3 for breakfast, set up my tent and went right to bed.

I woke up around 3am to a crazy storm right overhead. The rain was coming down so hard that in my sleepy stupor I though for a second it was going to rip my tent fly. The lightning was right above me and the thunder was quick to follow. My next thought was “If this storm isn’t over in the morning, I’m not getting up.”

At 6:30am I woke up and not only was the storm over, but the sky was clear and bright blue! I packed up and headed out. My first stop was the Appalachian Market, a small convenience store. There I did a small resupply and bought a giant breakfast sandwich and then was on my way.

I was hiking with my friend Scrum and he waited for me while I called my friend Laura. We made it to the Bear Mountain bridge and crossed the Hudson river, stopping no less than 5 times to spit off the side. 🙂 The view was really nice!

We followed the white blazes across the road and right into a zoo! The zoo takes in local animals to rehabilitate them after accidents or injuries. We saw bald eagles, owls, deer, beavers and bears! After walking the zoo we met up with Starfish and Sherpa. We were all hungry for one thing… Ice cream. We found the vending machines and got our treats.

Right beside us was a swimming pool, and Starfish had heard from a NOBO that hikers get to swim for free! This was music to my ears since I hadn’t showered in about 5 or 6 days. We all hopped in and did a bit of swimming and a bit of scrubbing…

After swimming we hiked up Bear Mountain to our shelter. By this time it was pushing 6:30pm and we were all tired. The next shelter was only 3.5 miles away, but we could see from the top of the mountain that another storm was coming in. After a few minutes the sky opened up on us and we got power washed by the rain.

Just as we arrived at the shelter the rain stopped. There were 5 boy scouts camped out in the shelter so I set up my tent out back. I was pooped from all the excitement of the day and went right to sleep.

Another great day on the trail. I’ve hiked 6 states and am now in New Jersey hanging out in a church basement. 🙂

The Cookie Lady

Somewhere in Massachusetts there is a lady who lives just off the trail on a blueberry farm who has been giving cookies to hikers for many years. I’m not sure how this all came about, all I know is that I love cookies.

Sad Fish, Quickstep and I walked up to her property and saw that she lives on a blueberry farm. We heard earlier that the next shelter up the trail, Full Goose, serves pancakes for breakfast, and if you pick blueberries and bring them with you, they will put them in the pancakes.

The cookie lady wasn’t home, but her husband, the cookie man, was there and he brought us out 3 homemade chocolate chip cookies each. We also bought fresh hard boiled farm eggs and Klondike ice cream bars. Just as I finished my ice cream a man walked over with 2 big branches from a blueberry bush and told us he just trimmed a tree and we were welcome to eat all the berries. It was like a free for all. We picked those branches bare!

Just as I was getting a taste for the blueberries another hiker came in named Shipwreck. He told us that he was going to pick some to bring to Full Goose Shelter, I instantly volunteered to help him pick. Maybe I knew subconsciously why I volunteered to help, but I didn’t really mean to do what I did. It started with one or two blueberries, then a few more. One for the bucket, one for me. 3 for the bucket, 5 for me. Then before I knew what was happening I was going full force eating blueberries by the handful at lightning speed. They were SO GOOD! You couldn’t stop me if you tried. I looked over at Shipwreck and he was doing the same, we burst out laughing. We started to make excuses for our behavior saying that short people wouldn’t be able to reach the higher branches, so we were actually doing them a favor by eating them.

It was ridiculous, and delicious. My only regret is that I didn’t eat more. I didn’t know I loved blueberries that much.

The next day at Full Goose we had our pancakes with blueberries. Delicious!

The Bird Cage

As I neared Dalton, Mass I kept on seeing guys with Mohawks and hearing of this place called the Bird Cage where you can stay for free. I was hiking with Sad Fish, Quickstep and Scrum and we decided that we had to stay there.

We got Rob Bird’s (the guy who runs the Bird Cage) phone number from a NOBO and called him up the morning we strolled into North Adams, Mass. He picked us up in a big white 15 passenger van with no seats in the back, which is affectionately called Casper. Rob told us that Casper never passes a Dunkin’ Donuts and so he pulled in and bought us all these giant orange slushie type drinks topped with whipped cream and a dozen donuts. What a treat! We could hardly believe that just 20 minutes earlier we were on the trail and now we were cruising down the road with delicious treats and on our way to hot showers and beds.

Robs place was filled with photos of hikers and art work that hikers have left behind for him. You could tell right away that this man was loved by many. He takes a photo of every hiker that passes through and keeps it in a album with our contact info so that we can keep in touch with him.

That night he drove all 12 of us hikers down to the Old Country Buffet for dinner. We cleaned that place out! Plates were all piled high with tacos, salad, steaks, ham, veggies and dessert! You should have seen the dessert plates. This one guy put brownies, chocolate cake and cheese cake on the bottom and then used the soft serve ice cream to re-make Mt. Katahdin on top of it all.

The next day we hiked 24 miles over Mt Greylock and then stayed another night at Robs. It was nearly impossible to leave town. We were all having such a good time and we kept going to the restaurants and buying food. It was unlike me, I am usually quite frugal, but you couldn’t stop me. Bagels, coffee, breakfast sandwiches, wraps, frappes, chocolate bars, orange juice… I was on a roll.  We eventually left on the third day after stopping at the other hostel in town on the way out to eat more and watch a hilarious movie called “The Southbounders”. (I would recommend it if you are looking for a good laugh. It doesn’t really give you much of an idea about trail life though.)

Thank you to Rob Bird the trail angel for his hospitality and opening his house up to us.

Listens Birthday

I was hiking with Listen for a few days and knew her birthday was coming up soon. We were approaching a town and she wanted so badly to go in a sleep in a bed for her 23rd. Along the trail some North Bounders or NOBO’s had told us about this cool hostel you could stay at for free if you do some work for them. But they all warned us that although the people are all really nice, the place really cool and the food really good, the whole vibe at the hostel was a bit weird. This one NOBO named Meat said that it was some weirdo religious group who runs the place. That was enough to freak me out, but Listen guilt-ed me into going there because of her birthday.

When we arrived at the hostel we were greeted by many pony tailed men and women who were all very happy to see us and took us to our rooms to shower and get settled. The best hiker clothes we could find were long floral skirts and funny collared shirts. We told them we wanted work for stay and they put us to work washing floors and windows. The inside of the hostel was really cool. Everything was made of wood and it looked like we had stepped back in time to the middle ages or something. The furniture was all hand made and had a rustic feel. The music playing in the background was fiddle and flute type music and it sounded like I was in the movie A Nights Tale.

That night we went out and got ice cream and took it back to the cafe where they had root beer on tap and made birthday floats after our delicious dinner of turkey burgers, salad and chili. The next day Listen and I met with a lady named Meg Wilson who is writing a book about female thru hikers. She took us out for brunch and asked us some questions about our hike. We are both pretty excited about the possibility of being in a book. We plan to meet up with Meg in each state as we head south so we can share our experiences with her.

Nothing weird happened at the Yellow Deli Hostel while I was there. The people all seemed really nice and friendly. They are part of a religious group called the 12 Tribes, I’m not sure what their beliefs are. I hear there is another hostel down the trail, I think I will check it out.

Happy 23rd Listen! 🙂

Hikin’ with my Bestie!

My week spent with Laura was lots and lots of fun. I wanted to start her off slowly so that she wouldn’t get too tired or hurt herself, but she did so well that I think I could have pushed her harder! She came for the last section of the Whites which meant we still had a few BIG climbs up to 4800ft.

The first day before we got on the trail we took a shuttle into town to get some lunch and to mail something at the post office. Laura was all decked out in hiker gear looking like the cleanest hiker you’ve ever seen. People kept on stopping to talk to her and she was loving all the attention, but any real hiker could tell by her bright white shirt and nice clean legs that she hadn’t been on the trail yet. We ate turkey burgers in a cafe and then headed to the trail.

The first part was along a paved bike path through the woods and Laura kept saying “Is this how the whole trail is? I could get used to this.” But after the 3rd day when we did one of the tougher climbs on the trail she shut up. Just as we reached the shelter it started to down pour on us, and shortly after 3 of my friends arrived soaking wet. We all piled into the shelter and the rain stopped shortly after.

The next day we climbed the rest of the way up Moosiloke Mt and 4000ft peak. At the top there were lots of rocks that people had piled up into different shapes, so naturally, we made an Inukshuk to represent and show some Canadian pride (not that any Americans would recognize what it was).

The next few days were filled with hilarious hitch hikes, ridiculous characters and incredible hospitality. At the “Ice Cream Mans” house (yes, a man who give out FREE ice cream to hikers who stop by his house), we met a nice lady named Sue who invited us to her house for dinner, laundry, showers, beds and a ride back to town the next morning; an offer we could not refuse.

One rainy day we spent over 3 hours sitting outside a gas station eating salad, ice cream, drinking chocolate milk and talking to people about the trail. I tell ya, you meet more people when you smell like muggy B.O. and carry a big ol’ back pack than you ever do when you are clean and carry a purse!

We had a great week and lots of adventures both in town and in the woods. I am still welcoming friends and family to come out and hike or visit for as long or as little as you’d like.

Hut hoppin’ in the Whites

My week in the White mountains was one to remember. I finally caught up to my 3 buddies from Minnesota and I hiked with them all week. The trail in the Whites goes over the Presidential Range of mountains and over the famous Mount Washington.

We started the section out with a steep rocky and WINDY climb up Mount Madison. Once you pass the tree line the wind is nuts. At some points over 100km/hour, no joke. It almost blew me over on a few occasions, and it was the first time that I wish I was carrying a heavier pack to keep me grounded.

In the White Mountains they have a bunch of Huts/Hostels for school groups, families and hikers to stay in over night and they serve meals there too. Since the huts are pricey and up so high on the mountains they allow Thru Hikers to work for their stay at the huts or even just work for their meals. We took advantage of that on a few occasions. The huts actually want us to come eat their food because otherwise they have to carry the left overs back down the mountain.

At some Huts all I had to do was sweep the floor, scrub the stove or wipe a table and I was allowed to eat my weight in chicken breast, salad, fresh bread, mashed potatoes, peas and brownies. For breakfast I usually ate a tall stack of pancakes, eggs and coffee! What a deal that was, and they even let us sleep in the hut… granted it was on the dinning room floor, but inside and out of the wind. For the most part on the trail so far I felt like I was getting thinner and thinner, but with all the food in the Whites I think I was able to maintain, which is a goooood feeling.

The 4 of us also camped on a cliff edge and had some good times looking at sunsets and shooting stars at night. We made some really low millage days and enjoyed every minute of the Whites.

On my last day in the whites I woke up early to hike out 13 miles over Lafayette Ridge down to Crawford Notch to meet my best friend and her family. It was a really sunny day and I got buuuurned. I had just enough cell phone battery left to call her and say meet me at the Flume visitor center… and my phone died. As I walked towards the visitor center I saw a car pull over, window roll down and hands waving at me. As tired and hot as I was you can bet that I ran as fast as I could with my back pack on to go hug my friends! Best feeling ever!

Live Free or Die!

I crossed the state line into New Hampshire yesterday! Its such a cool feeling to know that I walked from one state to another. We took pictures at the state line sign and then kept on going. It was a 19 mile day, my longest yet. We left the shelter at 6 am and got into town by 6:30 pm, hitched a ride to the nearest gas station, got slushies and chips and ate them in the park. Another great day.

Tomorrow I start hiking in the White Mountains. I was at the library today and looked at a picture book of the Whites, they look AMAZING!!! I am so excited to get out there, and to top it all off, my best friend and her family are coming to New Hampshire in a week or so to see me! Definite motivation to get moving and kick some mountain butt. 😛

Live free or die is the State motto by the way. I’m still learning what it means, but if you know me, you know I love free stuff… hahaha.

All I wanted was a ride…

The last few days have been really tough. We are getting into the “notchy” area of the trail which means lots of ups and downs. Some days I barely crawl into the shelter at night having had my butt kicked earlier that day by first going up a big mountain, and then the more painful down. My knees are getting stronger though and they hurt a lot less now on the down hills and I can move a lot faster.

The other day I hiked 7 miles down hill to a road and was planning to hitch into a small town called Andover. But over the course of half an hour only about 6 cars drove past me, a few stopped to chat but none gave me a ride. Finally a white car turned the corner and stopped right away and a man got out. I was excited but then when I saw who got out I was really shocked, it was a Sheriff! He gave me a ride into town, but not before he got my name and did a quick background check. I was pretty impressed with myself getting a ride with a Sheriff and all. There were other hikers in town hanging out outside the store when I pulled up in the coolest ride ever. That was my first time in a cop car, and luckily I was in the front seat.

I did my shopping and met a fellow Canadian in the store. We are rare out here, I haven’t met many other Canadians and most are from Quebec. So Goose and I decided to hitch back to the trail together after I finished my greasy clam strips, cod fish nuggets and waffle fries. We walked to the road and hadn’t stuck out our thumbs for more than a minute and a car stopped, we were happy! As the round, hairy faced women opened the door to the trunk, I looked in a saw hay, the first clue this was gonna be a weird ride. Then as she opened the side doors for us her little dog jumped out and she went after it. Then her big husky type dog, Nya, jumped out, this is when the problems started… “Nya doesn’t listen. She doesn’t come when she’s called”. We drove around town, chased Nya, tried to bribe her with cheese that some guy gave us, and honked the horn for over 45 minutes trying to get her back. Goose and I were feelin’ pretty uneasy by this time and wanted out. Finally, while the lady was out running after her dog, swearing and yelling (it wasn’t pretty), me and Goose exchanged some awkward glances and decided to get the heck out of there! We grabbed the keys from the ignition and ran for the trunk to unlock it and get our bags! Just as we got them she came around the corner and saw us… awkward!

We got outta there, but it took us another 30 minutes to get a ride, and hairy dog lady was long gone by then. At first we weren’t sure if we made the right choice, but then we thought about it for 5 more seconds and decided we didn’t like being in a stinky car or chasing dogs, or weird swearing ladies. All I wanted was a ride…

Once at the trail Goose and I had a heart to heart about why we were on the trail. Then I hiked another 5 miles past the shelter and slept in a notch between 2 mountain peaks with no one else around. I had a great view from the top of where I had come in the past few days. It was a long day full of excitement and I slept my best sleep yet in my little yellow tent.

M&M’s + instant mashed potatoes = Happy Hiker!

Finding foods out here that are light weight, yummy and have enough fat in them to keep me going is tough! I’ve been making my own trail mix which consists mainly of M&M’s, gummies and some nuts. I eat so much of this stuff and it really weighs down my pack.

For breakfast I try not to eat anything that requires cooking because I want my stove gas to last me a long time. This week I am planning to eat pop tarts with peanut butter spread on them. Gross! You may be thinking, but honestly, I’ve tried oat meal and I want to gag, I’ve tried granola and its ok, but not enough calories, I’ve tried beef jerky but it costs too much, and I am running out of ideas. My friend was telling me she was eating beef jerky for breakfast and I said, “Hmmm… that’s odd.” to which she replied “Well… Shit gets weird out here.” Which I think pretty much sums up the trail in one sentence.

Usually about 2 hours after breakfast I am hungry again and I end up eating most of my allotted trail mix for the day right away. The M&M’s are the first to go. Gummies second, and of course peanuts and other seedy type things are left for last.

For lunch I have a block of cheese, a German hunter sausage (Thanks Dad!), more trail mix, a bar of some sort, sometimes more chocolate and perhaps some crackers or flat bread. This week I also bought some peanut butter, although it is very heavy and I’m not really a big fan of it. Everyone keeps eating it with a spoon and says it is full of calories, so I hope it serves me well. Lunch seems to be the heaviest foods that I carry, but as I hike more, I get hungrier, and I can’t stop eating!

Dinners are pretty easy to plan. Quinoa, ramen noodles, side kicks, soups, tuna, and my favorite, Instant Mashed Potatoes! They are so warm, fluffy, salty and fast to make. I could just eat potatoes every day if it would give me enough energy. Every dinner I make is in one pot only. I don’t have a bowl or cup, I just eat out of my pot. For most of my dinners I simply boil water, add the food and let it sit for a few minutes to cook. When dinner is done, I usually sneak more trail mix. I usually brush my teeth early to prevent myself from eating more of my food.

Any suggestions of low cook time, light weight, high calorie/fat semi-nutritious hiking food?