Journaling

When I was a kid like every other girl I kept a secret diary. Yeah one of those with horses on the front and a lock at the side. The key was well kept in a tiny box on my bedside table. In fact I had several diaries throughout my childhood and each time I started a new one I had the good intention of writing in it every single day… Sure that’s not what happened. I wrote in it for a few days and after about a week or so I would throw it in a dusty corner of my bedroom and forget all about it.

I copied John Muirs self portrait onto the first page of my journal.

Now that I’m grown up (well sort of) I don’t do diaries. I do this freakin’ blog haha. Though there do is one exception!
I actually love journaling whilst travelling through unknown countries, never seen landscapes and enjoying the womad way of life. I started it when I first travelled to Chile at the age of 15. Since then quite some journals were born at different corners of this beautiful mother earth…. Somehow whilst travelling life seems much more exciting and I feel as if I have to write down my experiences so that my memory won’t fade as fast as usual. I collect receipts, notes, wraps from sweets and cookies and stuff and I stick them onto pages of small books which fastly become way thicker than planned for.

Lately I’ve been inspired by the journals of Kolby Kirk aka The Hike Guy. As I first started “investigating” about the PCT a few years ago, I came across the marvelous journals he wrote and draw during his PCT thru-hike. Go check his websites http://www.thehikeguy.com/ and http://www.kolbykirk.com/! He’s quite an inspiration!
For my JMT I decided I wanna do some drawing myself too, so today I made my small painting-kit with tiny water colour pencils. Really curious whether I’m actually gonna use them or not. I guess I will. If no songs come to my mind, maybe I’ll be in for some drawing and painting… Some way or another creativity has to find its way out!

Walking by heart!

It’s been a while since my last posting… Busy times busy times… Yet I was able to test my gear and my fitness on several smaller hikes.

Most memorable was our “Walking By Heart-Tour”, in which 2 friends and I decided to hike without maps or compass cross-country from Eltville to Miehlen. It truly was a “walking by heart”-hike as we tried to trust and follow our heart as well as the bits and pieces of “map” we learned by heart and saved in our brain. We made some amazing experiences following our body radar. Each time we would visualize a certain landscape mark in our mind, we would cross it in reality exactly the way we planned it! We were left stunned with our mouths wide open many times!

We intended to hike the estimated 50km cross-country in 3 days. The first day we walked about 12 to 15km following animal trails through the woods. Shortly before reaching the river Wisper (well at least we thought it was the Wisper, we weren’t sure) we decided “enough for today” and slept in a beech grove. Turned out that place was full of ticks, so we spend some hours
removing them (yeah we’re not talking about 1 or 2 ticks here… We’re talking of at least 100 ticks each!). Well at least I’ve lost all of my fear of contact with ticks, that’s for sure.

On the morning of day two we rose early with the call of the black woodpecker. After a good breakfast we broke camp not realising we’d have such a long day ahead. We had planned for another good nights sleep in the woods, but on day two ambition came over us and we walked the whole 35km home. Again we had some amazing experiences (demonstrating us the power of our minds and our connection to nature!), met a few deer (and again loads of ticks!), enjoyed the cold creek water (temperatures were above 30°C!) and eachothers company. Even if tired and even if our feet hurt, we had a blast! Our bodies were aching so much the last few km, we decided to change our “movement pattern” and started running. After 33km cross-country hiking it somehow felt pleasant running… Well that definitely must have been a funny view: 3 backpackers, all tired and done, but yet crazy enough to start running with a smile on their faces!

As for gear testing: I love my dirty girl gaiters! They kept all dirt out of my shoes and I didn’t have to stop even once to remove stones or dust or to tighten up my shoes. They were just perfect for a cross-country hike through the woods and the fields! And oh those shoes I kinda love them too. As well as my backpack and my cooking system.
After that hike I realised I’m quite confident about my fitness and my gear. Not much can stop me now!!!

 
 Love that Caldera set up!

Afraid of bears? Hmmm… Yeah?! :c/

Sometimes I think I’m just nuts. Why should I walk through the wilderness with bears and other “dangerous” animals creeping around at night? Not that they ain’t there during daytime yet at night irrational thoughts and emotions seem to be much more present. I guess mainly cuz I feel like my security depends upon my eyes to see what is around (the gift of our modern society. It’s time time time I remember what our ancestors still knew… that one has more senses that just the sight!!! I’m working on it!!!) . Yet facing a bear in the afternoon will probably make my breath stop for some seconds too… Jee, I’m just crazy. One little woman facing a bear… I just have to imagine it and I start asking myself: Why again did I want to hike the JMT?
Though all guidebooks seem to say (if I read well) that bears aren’t a reason not to hike the JMT. Incidents with black bears are rather uncommon, as long as one follows the rules in stuffing all food and smellable items into the bear can. O yeah that I’ll definitely do! Good thing those bear cans exist!
Holy spirit, I think I won’t close an eye the first few nights, even if all is nicely tucked away into my Bearikade. Yet after those first 3 or 4 nights, I’ll probably be so dead (not because of a bear – I HOPE haha- but because I’m so freakin’ tired) that I’ll sleep like a stone! And I hope that along the way I’ll remember my reason for hiking the JMT: Connecting with nature, being a part of nature, BE nature (and therefor be equal to all other creatures, trees, rivers, mountains,…)

Some reading in the sun

Now that spring has arrived I spend my late afternoon in the sun with a lovely cuppa coffee and the JMT cicerone guide.
With each single page that I read (not only reading through the cicerone guide but also using Wenk’s book and Ray’s eBook) I’m looking more and more forward to finaly hitting the trail. I find it really helpful to read several guides and hear about (sometimes) different opinions. It gives me a more “total” view of what to expect and it’s a great deal in preparing for my hike. In addition there are numerous websites (first of all the Yahoo JMT Group, where fellow hikers are all really friendly and always there to answer questions or to discuss on JMT topics…. It’s amazing! They really help me out when it comes to descision-making…
for instance whether I should take along the Bearikade Expedition or the Weekender) and blogs to collect information on the JMT… It’s actually kinda fun going through all that info. It doesn’t take any magic away (that’ll be so there when I hit the trail, no books or websites can compete with the real thing… I’m sure!), it rather makes my “pleasant anticipation” (wow that are two boring words… in German it is called “VORFREUDE” which kinda expresses the feeling better) waaaaaaaay bigger!!!

In the footsteps of John Muir

O those footsteps of John Muir… they are big so big! So actually my little footprints should fit in just fine :c)

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

Am I searching or am I not? Am I not just walking my path of life and trusting that what crosses my road is meant to be, letting me be(come) who I really am, shaping my self, exploring my gift and sharing it with the world?
So why did I decide to walk the John Muir Trail? I guess there are lots of reasons. One of them is my deep wish to feel save being alone with noone else around except for mother nature and her wild creatures. I feel a longing to become a part of the landscape, to be the landscape, to be the tree, to be the deer, to be the bear, to be nothing more than the animal I really am, to be no more no less than nature itself. Isn’t it that what I was born for, isn’t it that what my true nature is?
Am I seeking? I probably am… Aren’t we people always seeking? For answers to questions we maybe shouldn’t ask. I’m seeking for confidence and I’m seeking for trust, to be able to stand up and live my life to the fullest, to be able to discover my own special gift to this world, not to be blinded by the neon lights of society… O I’m thankful so thankful to be born on this beautiful world, that mother earth gave me sensitiveness to be able to feel what eyes can’t see.

My first MYOG: a UKU-BAG!!!

As you might have read in my previous posts I’m intending to bring my ukulele along on the trail. My parents gave it to me as a christmasgift and right now I’m learning how to play it. Actually it’s rather easy, even though the chords aren’t the same like playing the guitar. Several songs have been born in the last couple of months and quite some more should follow while I’m on the trail.

Anyway… where to pack that little instrument of joy while hiking the JMT?
Well well…. it’s time for my FIRST MYOG!!!! 
Hahaha! No… it’s nothing gonna be like sewing my own tarp or quilt or backpack…. It’s gonna be like: sewing a lightweight bag/cover for my ukulele haha!

So I decided I wanna make it out of a “car window cover up blanket against ice and snow” (ok, I’m sure there is an english word for that, except that I don’t know it and this was the closest to it I could get ;c)…

I might just better post some pictures, as my english skills are kinda lacking when it comes down to writing about turning a “car window cover up blanket agains ice and snow” into a lightweigt UKUBAG!

NOW THAT’S GONNA BE GLAMOUR & GLITTER ON THE JMT!!!!!!!!!!!

THIS CONFIRMS YOUR RESERVATION FOR A WILDERNESS PERMIT

Well well I’m not doing much walking these days… Having an injury I try to move as little as possible (turns me crazy!)…  Yet forced to sit still I do find it easier to concentrate on my final paper for Animal Assisted Therapy…

Anyway caught up in writing my paper I forgot to mention: I GOT MY WILDERNESS PERMIT!!!!

My first try was kind of depressing as I received an email at night saying: Sorry, all of your requested options were rejected :c(
Luckely the guys (AND women of course but I tend to call all people “guys”…. jee and this is a womads blog?)  from the JMT-yahoo-group helped me out and told me to call the office and try to get an alternative permit. It was 11pm and I was like: “O my o my… now I should phone to America and talk English and what if the ranger doesn’t understand me?” Anyway, as I didn’t really want to rely on a walk-in permit, I had to call… So I typed the phonenumber in my skypeaccount and the phone started ringing…. What a relief to experience a really friendly ranger on the other side. As soon as he heard I’m from Belgium, he started chatting that he’d been in Leuven (where I’ve studied) several times… To make a long story short: I ended up having an Happy Isles -> Illilouette Permit and a boost of confidence (yey, my English turned out to be …well… rather good :c)
Now having a permit in my pocket (including a Half Dome permit) I was more relaxed and finally could go to sleep.

Still the next morning I thought I’d give it another go and once again I faxed the office with my 3 favorite trailhead options… I crossed my fingers and went off for an education weekend in animal assisted therapy… Sitting at the bar in the evening with my fellow students I asked one of them (well her name is Joy and I must say checking my emails on her mobile brought me real JOY!) if I could use her mobile in order to check my emails whether a permit was granted or not…. I opened my inbox and the email title said: Reservation confirmation! I opened it and read:

This confirms your reservation, made on 03/07/2013, for a wilderness permit for the following trip. 

Permit ID: 03595
Entry Date: 08/23/2013
Entry Trailhead: Happy Isles->Little Yosemite Valley
Exit Date: 09/19/2013
Exit Trailhead: Whitney Portal
Number in Party: 1
Number hiking Half Dome: 1
Number of Stock: 0

Wuhuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!! After reading those few lines I jumped up from my seat and started dancing!!! YEAH they were all looking at me like as if I was CRAZY…. In fact I was… crazy of JOY!!!!

So this is what’s gonna happen:
I’m gonna fly into Frisco on the 19th of August, buy my food, prep and send my resupply boxes (and if possible playing a bit of tourist) on the 20th and 21st. On the 22nd I’ll be off heading to Yosemite and collecting my permit! AND FINALLY… I’m gonna hit the trail on the 23th of August! It’s gonna be one fucking exciting day… with many wonderfull exciting days to follow!!!

I’m so much looking forward to this I could just jump on a plane right now (and that means quite a lot as I’m terrified flying airplanes!!!)