Hiking with Friends

Hiking has a funny way of bringing people together; strangers become friends and friends become closer, families make memories to share years later, and lovers draw nearer to each other.

I think nature is indeed to blame for this having nothing to distract us from each other on a hike besides those of natural occurrence. On a hike of any length, the scenery demands nothing from us. We can relax and let our five senses do what they will.

I believe this is why it’s easy to get to know someone while hiking. What else is there to do but talk to each other as we travel along? Taking a long hike with someone can tell you a lot about them and I highly recommend hiking a few times with anyone you consider having a close relationship with.

I had the honor of hiking with two good friends to a magical place called Lockett Meadow and experienced first hand two strangers become friends. These two wonderful women in my life had only met the day before we arrived at the trailhead (me being the connector friend if you will). They each represented two different parts of me; one represented my life and experiences in Albuquerque, NM and the other my traveling adventures and life in Flagstaff, AZ. I was incredibly excited for them to meet feeling deep down they would be fast friends and I was right. Joined by the love of nature, fall, and a good hike, we headed out together down a trail leading us through a grove of molting yellow Aspens.

The hike was maybe about six miles and I savored every minute. I was able to share a hobby I loved with two of my friends, watching and listening as they chatted and became friends with each other; my cup was overflowing. By the time our hike came to an end, they had shared contact information and we extended our time together with a celebratory coffee back in town.

We all have such limited time in the world, I think it should be shared with people we enjoy being with, in ways that uplift and inspire us as much as possible. For me, friends are special people and the woods, my special place. I’m so grateful to have shared in both.

 

 

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  – A Few More Pics From Our Hike Are Posted Here!

Previous Posts:

When You Find My Body- REVIEW

AZT Weekend

 

 

When You Find My Body- REVIEW

Full Title & Author:

When You Find My Body: The Disappearance of Geraldine Largay On The Appalachian Trail

Written by D. Dauphinee

How I Came Across This Book:

I had previously heard that this book was in the works and of course, had heard about the tragedy of Geraldine “Inchworm” Largay having myself hiked the Appalachian Trail and specifically stayed at the shelter Largay was last photographed at. I had forgotten about the book until an email came in from the Appalachian Trail Association (ATC) advertising it for sale. By the time I asked my good trail dad Roub about it, he had already read it and sent it out my way.

First Thoughts:

My first thoughts going into the book were only my preconceived notions on what had happened to Largay. Ultimately I had a lot of questions. I thought back to my night at Poplar Ridge Shelter in Maine discussing Largay with Darwin and a few other hikers. I remembered hearing she had wandered off the trail looking for water. This didn’t make sense at the time seeing the water source directly in front of the shelter. I also remember discussing the rumor that she had gotten lost when wandering off-the trail to relieve herself. I couldn’t understand at the time how this could happen either, seeing the that woods were so dense in the area. I also couldn’t imagine getting too far off-trail due to the complexity of navigating through the area without a pack on let alone with one on as it was rumored Largay had done.

Long story short, I had a lot of questions and misinformation on what exactly happened to Largay. Even after reading this book, there are still a lot of questions that will never have answers but I do feel that I have a better understanding of what most likely happened and why.

Review

This book was one of those that was a little hard to read but in a good way. Even if your not familiar with the Largay’s disappearance, you know the book doesn’t end exactly well by the title alone. That’s why I found it a little hard to read. You know the outcome and it hurts to learn a more personal perspective of Largay and of those parties involved in her search when no matter the efforts, she isn’t found alive.

If you are looking for the gory details of Largary’s last days and her journal entries, you’re going to be disappointed. The author D. Dauphinee presents Largary’s plight in a very tasteful way. He presents her story factually and that although tragic, leaves the reader room to learn and question their own preparedness when entering the woods for any reason. Dauphinee is good at not pointing fingers of blame at one individual or agency but does discuss the finger-pointing that did occur during the search and other conspiracy theories surrounding Largay’s disappearance.

Dauphinee having experience on a Search and Rescue Team does not waste time on what he would or would have not done differently either. Instead, he focuses the book on Largay; who she was, the people that felt deeply connected to her, and those who never met her but spent hours, days, months, and years looking for her.

The interviews and information Dauphinee presents on those who were involved with Largay’s search or that were questioned for further information regarding her personally provides an almost three-sixty perspective on the entire situation. Although specific information on Largay’s personal thoughts and actions can only be pieced together, Dauphinee presents a very logical and relatable scenario for what Largay was most likely going through.

Conclusion:

I found this book to be incredibly well put together.  I have also been left questioning how prepared beyond just my gear, that I truly am when I enter the wilderness. Largay was lost and found before I ever hiked the AT, but I knew about her before, and I feel like I have a better understanding of her now. The sense of knowledge or even arrogance I felt before reading When You Find My Body, makes me feel ashamed.

The research and studies Dauphinee provides through the books puts the reader’s arrogance into check. It can be easy to judge Largay at first and point out all the things that you the reader would have done differently, but Dauphinee with experience backed up with studies and real-life examples, shows why a lost person may act a certain way, even perhaps run away from their would-be rescuers. This overall will make the reader really question themselves.

After reading,  I recognize I need further education on survival skills. I do however feel I have a better understanding of search and rescue. My perception of such operations was limited, however, now having read Dauphinee’s book I feel like I have a better grasp at the stress, planning, organization, dedication, and heartache that comes with involvement on a search and rescue team that I had never thought of before.

Overall, this book is a recommended read. Dauphinee presents Largary’s story in a way that is unaccusing and respectful, allowing the reader to learn, which I feel is exactly what Largary would have wanted. Regardless of your experience in backpacking or hiking, I think anyone would benefit from reading When You Find My Body.

book cover

You can get your own copy of When You Find My Body via the ATC Store Here or on Amazon via this link https://amzn.to/2l3XpcQ.

Don’t forget to check out your local library too!

 

A Few Other Book Reviews I’ve Done: 

The Dirtbag’s Guide to Life – Review

Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home – REVIEW

 

 

(DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS! THIS MEANS THAT IF YOU CLICK ON ONE OF THE PRODUCT LINKS AND BUY SOMETHING, I RECEIVE A SMALL COMMISSION AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU. THIS HELPS SUPPORTS DARWIN’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL AND ALLOWS US TO CONTINUE TO MAKE CONTENT VIA THE SNUGGLE DIARIES! THANK YOU FOR THE SUPPORT!)

AZT Weekend

This past weekend was centered around the Arizona Trail (AZT). On Saturday I walked on the trail following it into Buffalo Park. Once there, I spent a good chunk of time helping out at Arizona Trail Day. I was assigned to help work at the merchandise booth selling hats, bandanas, socks, mugs, guides, etc. etc. etc.

I chatted it up with hikers, cyclists, volunteers, and those who just happened upon the event, all sharing in the love and excitement surrounding this one trail (and of course buying a few things to help support it)!

Sunday, I woke early and headed out to a section of the AZT where I met several other people. There under the arms of Aspens, we gathered to learn about trail assessment and management. With a very knowledgeable trail steward as our instructor, we then put our teachings into practice and worked on an area of the AZT needing water runoffs, to insure the trail was not flooded out during monsoons.

At the end of the day already feeling sore, I reviewed my weekend and was left feeling not a loss of time or energy spent, but a feeling of contentment and satisfaction. I had spent my weekend around incredible people, learning a small part of what it takes to make and sustain a trail. There are so many pieces of the long-distance trail puzzle that have to come together to make it complete. I was and am, in awe.

 

(The Run-Off I Helped Dig…It Was Super Hard Work For Such A Small Thing!)

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post:

A Playground Full Of Trees And Meadows

A Playground Full Of Trees And Meadows

Hiking Trail

I have breathed in thin air or a lack of air really, hiking up to over 12,000 feet.

 

I felt the burn in my calves as I followed behind a friend, navigating a steep trail of lava rock above the tree line.

 

My throat turned to sandpaper as I attempted to take in air while talking and laughing high above the trees.

 

A buzz of oxygen-filled my body as I descended back down from Mount Humphreys and a rush of energy returned to my limbs.

 

Upon returning from this steep hike, I succumbed to a nap. My body challenged and energy used up by the end.

Riding Trail

The next day I attempted to recover from my hike with a ride on forest service roads and trail. My calves were still tender but willing to pedal.

 

My arms openly accepted the continuous impact and jolts of riding over rock and root; traveling from the wheel, to the handlebar, to arms.

 

I felt the slap of mud hit my skin shooting up from the wheels of my bike and was chilled by the rain shower that fell from a darkening sky. The cool wind reaching down into my bones.

Running Trail

Still seeking more from the outdoors, the following day I yet again ventured out. This time on foot. I urged my body to follow a trail under pines and high grasses; the rustling of the grass in the wind my music.

 

I felt the dirt and rock adjust to my weight as my trail runners hit each patch.

 

When I was finished, my legs were tinted with dust, streaked with routes of sweat. I carried the dust with me most of the day.

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From both of these adventures, I was left changed. I felt I had experienced a cleansing of mental and physical states and yet after my body felt sore, used. I’m so grateful to have a body that is willing and usable; to be able to venture about in a playground full of trees and meadows. I’m so glad I can still find the joy in a rain shower and mud splatter, dirt and sweat. A childlike urning to play outside and not caring how unkempt this leaves me, keeps me wanting more even though my body doesn’t recover as easily.

 

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(The Prince Veronica Looking Pretty By A Tree)

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post:

A Trail Run Of Bad Decisions…

A Trail Run Of Bad Decisions…

Last weekend, I had planned a small five-mile run with a friend. Now, this was coming off a week of mostly hiking and not a lot of trail running but I was feeling optimistic about my abilities. The friend that I agreed to run with is in way better shape than me but again, I was feeling confident that I could hack it. I, of course, was wrong but not necessarily because of my lack of abilities, more for my lack of smart decisions.

So for you the reader to avoid making the same very stupid mistakes I did before going on a trail run with a friend who you know your already gonna have to push hard to keep up with…I have written the following bad decisions that resulted in a really bad trail run.

 

Bad Decision #1: Eating two delicious green chili chicken tacos the night before said run.

 

Bad Decision #2: Washing those two tacos down with an equally tasty beer and refraining from backing up the beer with water.

 

Bad Decision #3: This one arose the next morning when the green chili worked its magic on my GI tract. This one is a bad decision as I ignored this as a warning sign of what was to come.

 

Bad Decision #4: Insisting that I only needed caffeine before said run and still refraining from drinking water even after experiencing the effects Bad Decision #3.

 

Bad Decision #5: Not eating a little something after Bad Decision #3.

 

Bad Decision #6: Not being honest with myself or my friend that I was feeling a little “less than fresh” before hitting the trail.

 

Bad Decision #7: Not having water with me during the run.

 

Bad Decision #8: Ignoring the deflated feeling in my body a mile into the trail run.

 

Bad Decision #9: Pushing off the fact I had to stop constantly throughout the run to actually breathe convincing myself it was just that I couldn’t run and talk at the same time.

 

Bad Decision #10: Not turning around when I started feeling a little dizzy from the heat.

 

By the time we had returned to our starting point and ending at four and a half miles, I was completely wasted. My friend who had no idea I was feeling as bad as I was, was trying to talk to me before heading back to her car. I really couldn’t tell you what she was talking about as all I could hear was the loud ringing in my ears (another huge red flag I was not okay). By the time we parted ways, I felt the dizzy feeling again and the sudden bodily urge to puke and vacate my bowels at the same time.

An hour later after sipping on some water, eating a little, and sitting directly in front of a fan I was feeling a little more normal. The stupidity of my situation was clear to me only then as I lay on a cold hard floor, I was dehydrated and showing signs of heat exhaustion. How stupid could I have been? I knew better, but to save face in front of my friend (who because she is my friend would have been totally understanding if I would have walked the whole time or even just canceled) I set myself up for a dangerous situation.

Morals of this Story: Even those who have experience with an activity of some sort can still make stupid mistakes and be extremely stubborn about those mistakes. No matter what your experience level in something, ALWAYS listen to your instincts and your body. And, if you’re adventuring with a friend and you’re not feeling up to the challenge tell them! They are your friend and will understand!

 

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(A Picture Taken On Park Of The Trail We Were On, Just Not The Same Day…)

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post:

The Journey Around Mount Hood

The Journey Around Mount Hood

Day 1

I was a bit nervous starting out on the Timberline Trail. I had previously hiked in Oregon but had not taken on anything like I was reading the Timberline Trail would be. Descriptions I read discussed sections of rocky trail (flashbacks to Pennsylvania on the AT), river crossings (the worst aspect of hiking for me), and snowy sections (this actually wasn’t a big concern). Overall, I was doubting my abilities however, I was willing to give it a go.

Our first day we headed out clockwise on the Timberline Trail (which is actually part of the Pacific Crest Trail too). We left a lodge full of hikers charging their electronics with electricity and their bodies with caffeine, for a mostly deserted trail. Darwin reflected on the last time he had traveled this same way during his thru-hike and I let him fill the few feet of trail distance between us, with stories. As I listened I was surprised to find my legs eager to hike carrying me swiftly over the trail, and my breath traveled through my lungs easily.

We hiked over trail terrain that felt to me like a children’s roller coaster, gentle ups, and downs accompanied by views of Mount Hood always to our right. The hours and miles easily slipped by on this gradual terrain. We stopped to take in the views and stopped to chat with a few fellow Timberline Hikers heading counter-clockwise. I was noting our progress by the changing views of Mount Hood. The magic of this trail seemed to be the fact of seeing every face of the mountain. Instead of just hiking by it, we were seeing all aspects of it; a unique characteristic that not every mountain will share.

We lunched at a trail intersection where the PCT and Timberline first part ways. Our lunch break was splendid, shaded by the sun, feeling proud of myself that I had accomplished a few river crossings without any incident, and jamming my face full of food I would never allow myself to eat off-trail; life was good.

Post lunch we hiked past Ramona Falls and followed the trail along a few ridges and traveled upwards. The last two miles of the day brought me back to long days on the AT. I was getting a little hangry for more than just a snack, and after fighting with my water filter, I found myself longing for the shelter (old habits die hard). After about 18 miles, I was glad to call it quits for the day feeling good to have put my body up to a challenge and coming out feeling tired but not completely beat down. I set up my tent next to a pretty meadow and snuggled into my quilt and my own personal tent. I rested well to the sounds that were brought on with the breeze of the night.

Day 2

I woke early and had broken down my tent before Darwin had even immerged from his. I set and ate my breakfast and drank coffee watching him pack up. The day greeted us with a river crossing, then another, then another. Just when my feet were somewhat dry I would take notice of the distant roar of yet another rushing river. At the first sounds of the river, my stomach would squeeze. At the first sight of the river, my face would get hot, and sweat would bead on back, along with another squeeze of the intestines. Did I mention I’m terrified of river crossings? After each successful crossing, I would shake off the icky dread feeling and spend the next few minutes telling the trees how much I hated river crossings.

I lost myself in the glory of Mount Hood and spent a good solid twenty minutes trying to become apart of the grasses and wildflowers around me, as I watched a stream gurgle down cold glacier water from the mountain’s peak. I looked for fairies and other magical creatures numerous times, following the trail through places that were surely enchanted.

We traveled above treeline for several miles towards the end of the day following rock cairns and crossing patches of snow that felt as someone had turned on the air conditioning full blast as we crossed. We stopped and turned at the sound of a plane overhead only to realize we were hearing an avalanche start towards the mountain’s peak. We watched as plumes of dirt and snow rose up as the back face of Hood shifted and would discuss the event later with a few other hikers who had different views of the event.

We finished the day descending again into a river crossing. Being forewarned about this specific crossing I was very hesitant to cross but found the river still mild and the way to cross no more treacherous than the rest. Darwin and I camped close to a stream and devised a plan to catch the breakfast buffet at the lodge in the morning.

Day 3

We started hiking with the night still lingering and the sun just peaking into the sky. As we hiked I recounted the different faces of Mount Hood and how incredible it was to be able to hike around it; to get to know this mountain in such a way. With only a handful of miles to finish, we took notice of more trail signs and intersections. We hiked under several dormant ski lifts and I pondered what this same overgrown green area would look like in just a few months.

We came down from our final ridge and crossed our final river to start our final big climb up a trail of beach sand. There were no rocks or dirt, only sand that someone had clearly delivered by helicopter. I grumbled and griped about the stupidity of this inconveniently placed sand and complained about how it was eating up all my energy and filling my shoes with every step. Finally, at the top, I stopped to catch my breath and gazed up one final time at Mount Hood as the sweat rolled down into my eyes and down my back and chest. I whispered a farewell to the great mountain on my right and peeled my eyes away from its majesty and focused then on the breakfast buffet.

Last Day Sand Trail

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post:

The Magic Hikers Leave Behind

The Magic Hikers Leave Behind

It was 4am Sunday morning when I started up the Clydesdale to leave Cascade Locks, OR.  All the hikers were still a snooze in their tents while others dreamed sweet dreams in their vans. All the movement, music, laughter, conversations, and smiles were gone during this early morning time; everything was still and quiet.

As I drove down Wa Na Pa Street heading out of town, I felt as if I were a thief. I was stealing thousands of deliciously sweet moments of time, happy memories of the most amazing interactions with truly good people. This feeling of euphoria could sustain me forever if I could just bottle up.

I was buoyed by the energy of PCT Days and all the kindness and happiness I both received and witnessed there. Smiling hiker faces plagued my mind and I tried to match the faces to the trail names as I followed the yellow blazes on the asphalt.

As the sun rose, the miles grew between myself and Cascade Locks, and the hours passed.  I tried to hold on to PCT Days as long as I could, knowing eventually I would have to let it go. I thought about the hikers in the early afternoon enjoying a trail magic hotdogs provided by the Ale House, hikers throwing out thumbs to hitch back to other sections of trail and those who simply were hiking outta town. The last of the vendors would be breaking down tents and packing up gear and visiting hikers like myself just out to enjoy this special event, would all be driving back home.

This one weekend brought all of our worlds together and for a brief time, we immersed ourselves in our common passions of hiking, backpacking, long-distance trails, and specifically the Pacific Crest Trail. The pang of bittersweet struck me knowing that a lot of those kind faces I met and talked to over the weekend I would never see again but I recognized the lasting impression they each had left on me. Other faces would return to Cascade Locks as they did last year and the year before during the phenomenon of PCT Days.

The drive was long but finally when we arrived eighteen hours later to our destination, even when I ripped off my event wrist bands and even when I started to wash off the hiker smells and dirt from my body in the shower, PCT Days lingered within me. I could still feel the bubble of excitement, the feeling of raw energy, happiness, kindness, humbleness, that only the hiking community can show. This gift that was bestowed to me by so many both thru-hikers and visiting hikers, I would carry with me and treasure until next year, until that magical weekend happens again.

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Timberline Trail Diaries Will Start Next Week! 

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post:

That Tingly Feeling Before A Trip…