The Liebster Award

Yey. Chad aka Stick from Stick’s blog gave me The Liebster Award. Whoop whoop it’s my first award ever, so I better put on a nice dress while I write this post haha. Maybe some make-up too?

Na a you know that ain’t me. I like the dirt under my nails and my dreaded hair. I’d be fucking thrown off the red carpet if I turned up the way I look right now hahaha. It’s a good thing an outdoors man like Stick gave me the award, cuz he too prefers a trail over a red carpet, right Stick? Our red carpet is the beautiful red and yellow pattern the trees color the trails with in fall. Our red carpet is a trail carved in the rocks in remote places where no other paparazzi but our own shadow chases us. Our red carpet is the ever winding dusty snowy muddy road that brings us to places we’ve never been. So THANK YOU Chad for the award. I love to walk the red carpets of nature! (Actually I’m currently writing a post about why I blog and how -as a writer- you gotta earn your credits the hard way… So the award came just in time hahaha…. I’m not all done writing that post but I’ll try to finish it soon ;c)

Now what does it mean to accept The Liebster Award? It means I gotta answer the 11 questions Chad asked me, come up with 11 new questions, tag other bloggers and ask them to answer my 11 questions. Of course none of these bloggers is forced to answer these questions. They can either leave it or accept the award and pay it forward. As I’m not good in explaning (hell I would suck in being a schoolteacher) you better read the full explanation here.  It basically is a way of recognizing/promoting other bloggers and the things they do.

So here are Chad’s questions and my answers to them:

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Loveletter to a thruhiker

I was just talking to a hikertrash friend when we started chatting about how beautiful thruhikers are. That’s when the idea came to my mind to write a loveletter to a thruhiker. No it’s not just dedicated to one particular thruhiker, it is written to all thruhikers, the ones that hiked in the past, the lucky bastards that are rocking the trails right now and the ones in the future. Now this might be a bit cheesy, but hell, I don’t give a fuck, you know that ;cP

Here’s to all of you thruhikers, men and women: MY LOVELETTER TO YOU:

Thruhiker,

How beautiful you are. Your wild eyes, your dust-covered body and your heart thirsty for freedom. Your feet leaving your tracks on the trails around this world. They’re scarred but strong. They take you where your heart wants to go. No one knows exactly where you’ve been and no one knows exactly where you’ll go. But you go baby, o you go! Sometimes you’re fast like a wolf, concentrated, head down to the trail, still fully aware. Sometimes you’re slow like a turtle, stopping every second step to drink the wild air, still never losing a race. 

Look at your hair, it’s all tangled up and sticky and dusty, but the sun makes it shine like gold. 
Look at your face, it’s weathered like a tree shaped by the wind. The lines and the wrinkles tell the story of the places you’ve been, of the people you’ve met and the battles you’ve won. 
Look at your hands, colored with dirt, they’re both empty and full, they receive and they give, they hold a whole world. 
Look at your mind, it’s wide open, it’s searching and finding at the same time. 
O and your heart, have you looked into it? It’s thirsty, growing bigger and stronger with each mile you go, beating like crazy, wild and untamed. 

How real you are. How the trail stripped you down to the core of your being. Dirty and smelly but honest and real. Thruhiker, meeting you, one gets what one sees, that’s for sure. The smell of sweat and a dirty hug, yet also shiny eyes so alive, expressing joy and wonder and revealing all your wild dreams, all the steps you took in life.

How strong you are. Getting up every morning, deciding it’s a perfect day to live your dream and by doing that, maybe disappointing others, not following the given paths in life, doing your own thing, getting away from it all (O we both know you’re not running away from it all, you’re diving right into it). You should know that even those who would want you to do things differently, still secretly admire you. You inspire your enemies and your friends. You inspire the people that cross your path. You are brave enough to live what many people dream of.

How wild you are. Human still, but getting closer to where we all come from. How the trail blurs the dividing line between you and the earth, between you and the trees, between you and the wind, between you and the wildlife. You’ve become wildlife yourself now, you’ve become the earth and the trees and the wind that tangles up your hair. 

How crazy you are. Absolutely mad. The kind of madness to fall in love with. Laughing and joking and turning the world upside down. How I love the way you do that. Making fun of life, not giving a fuck, and still loving it more deeply and fiercely most people could ever imagine..

O Thruhiker, how beautiful you are. Your wild eyes, your dust-covered body and your heart thirsty for freedom!

Cat 

PS: You are my hero!!!

 

JMT Journaling

During my JMT Thru-hike I did a bit of water colors in my journal… Nothing fancy, but just for the fun of it. I am no Kolby Kirk (check his journals, he is absolutely AMAZING!), that’s for sure… But I enjoyed painting so much (even when I’m not too good at it… who cares ;c) when I had a longer lunchbreak or I got to camp early… That wasn’t all too often, but still…. When I’m hiking the PCT I’m definitely taking my mini water color set along!

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My JMT in numbers

  • Number of days on trail: 25
  • Number of rainy days: really actually just 1, and then it wasn’t just rain but hail too.
  • Longest day: 16 miles (eh right, definitely am no fastpacker)
  • Shortest day: 6 miles
  • Number of time I fell: 3 times
  • Number of days with a hurting knee: 25
  • Number of bears spotted: 3 (eh yeah… on freakin’ day 1!!!)
  • Number of mountain lions spend the night with: 1 (eh yeah… on freakin’ day 2!!!)
  • Number of PCTthru-hikers met: 1 (that’s right, that’s you Bobcat ;c)
  • Number of zero days: 0
  • Number of times I took a bath: 1 (in the hot springs at MTR)
  • Number of showers: 0 (hell yeah!)
  • Number of times swimming in lakes/streams: 5
  • Number of deer spotted: uncountable

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The freedom of going solo?

When I hit the trail at the 23th of August 2013 I intended on solo thruhiking the JMT. I never had done anything like that before. I had turned 30, got divorced in the past year and I felt like if I needed something what I call “a battle for FREEDOM“.
I’ve done a fairly amount of travelling around the globe but I never did a solo thruhike. I decided I didn’t wanna wait no longer for anyone coming along, cuz somehow waiting for other people also feels like being caged. I told myself, if I’m brave enough to do a thruhike on my own, I will feel free. And I did feel freedom to a certain point, yet I also realised freedom is something you create in your mind.
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Finding answers…

A rainbow coming out of Muir hut!

It’s been 3 months now since I summited Mount Whitney and thru-hiked the John Muir Trail. Especially the first month after I got back hasn’t been easy and even now after 3 months I still miss the trail and everything that comes around with it.
I’ve really had a hard time adapting to “normal life” and civilization, going back to work, having the daily worries (which I of course mainly create myself), meeting up with society’s and my own expectations, picking out clothes everyday (ooo trail life was sooo easy), being all clean and tidy… Na I don’t like it! I’m the kinda woman who likes a bit (eh yeah a fairly bit) of dirt under her nails, and the story of a trail carved into the lines of her face (even though I’m only 31)! I’m the kind of person who likes the tan on my skin from which you can’t say whether the sun gave it to me or if it’s the trail dust sticking to my legs…
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Going alone!

I have no idea what I could possibly write about today (haha I wrote the title after I finished this post ;c). Though I find myself in front of the computer cuz writing this blog makes me feel closer to my big adventure. I’m getting excited BIG time and I feel like it’s time to go, it’s time to hit the trail and make it happen. I’m reading through Beth’s blog again and I’m inbetween laughing and crying all the time. The way she writes about her JMTadventure is so heartwarming, honest and genuine, that she touches my heart more than once.

“ONLY BY GOING ALONE IN SILENCE, WITHOUT BAGGAGE, 
CAN ONE TRULY GET
INTO THE HEART OF THE WILDERNESS.”
John Muir

Just like Beth I’m going solo (well Beth went solo till MTR and then a friend joined her). MY FIRST BIG SOLO ADVENTURE!!! YEAH!!!! I turned 30 last year and that somehow pushed me to say: “Go girl, you’re to be taken serious, hit that freakin trail on your own. No need to wait for someone to fulfill your dreams!!!” I guess it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. Though I’m not sure if I’m gonna be so confident about that once I’m on the trail. Anyway at this very moment I feel deeply satisfied with my decision and only the idea that I might make it to Whitney Portal all on my own gives me a damn big boost of confidence…. I’M GONNA FULFILL MY DREAM!

I actually can’t remember when I first started dreaming of hiking the JMT. As a little girl I dreamt of climbing Mount Everest. Haha. Yeah I’m sure I could do that if I’d still wanted it. 20 years later I do not really feel eager to climb that mountain, I do wanna see it some time but I don’t have to climb it.
I guess I first stumbled across the JMT while reading about the Triple Crown. I knew about the Appalachian Trail but when I read about the Pacific Crest Trail, I was like: “One day, I’m gonna hike that trail!!!”
Back then I was a student and still before I graduated I got a job offer that I said yes to. Not even finished my thesis and I was in the job already… The job sucked like hell, took all my energy and I forgot about my dream. Yeah I did tell a friend about it but he was like:”Wow that’s boring, just hiking, moving so slow. I’d never wanna do that.”
After just half a year I quit that job (praise the fuckin’ lord!!!) and I did some serious thinking: “Is this how you wanna live your life???” I had a bit of a struggle till I concluded: “No no no, this is not how you are gonna live!!! It’s time to listen to your heart, it’s time you stop being smart, it’s time to find out why and what you were born for!” From that moment on my life changed. Not that I was unhappy before and not that I had not done and experienced some amazing things, but I felt like I finally started living my own life to the fullest. I felt like the whole world was full of possibilities (and it TRUELY IS!!!)  and life was the biggest gift between heaven and earth (IT IS!!!).
And that was when I remembered my dream: Hiking the PCT!!! So I though:”Let me start with the JMT! If I love it, I’m gonna do the PCT!” I had to wait 2 years to finally get the money together but nowwww…. Here I am!!! In less than one month I’ll be out there, with ME, MYSELF AND I  IN THE WILDERNESS!!! Jee I feel truely blessed and grateful! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

Keep the spirit up!

I came across this video today and even though the weather was rather marvelous outside I just had to watch it.

High Sierra – A journey on the John Muir Trail

After watching I had kind of mixed feelings. A part of me was like: “Jihaaa, I just can’t wait to be out there!!!” Yet the other part went like this: “O damn, am I gonna make it? Do I realize what I got myself in to?”
Those boys did seem to struggle quite a bit. And they still had eachother to keep their spirits up… As for me it’s just gonna be me out there. Of course I’m gonna meet other hikers and I’m really not the shy type of person afraid to socialize, but still… Who or what is gonna keep my spirit up when I have a struggle?

Now I must say I do am the kind of person who likes a bit of adventure and a good bit of challenge in her life, and I’d probably rather die than give up easily (ok as a way of speaking… yeah mom, I’m gonna use my brain out there… and no, I’m not gonna do anything stupid… I’ve drawn all escape routes onto my maps… ;c)
Guess the only way to go is to trust my body, my brain, my heart and my soul… And not to forget (well actually most of all!) the big SPIRIT out (and in) there!!! O I’ll be just fine. And if not, I’ll start crying… for a minute or so and then I’ll keep on going… On foot in front of the other… cuz that’s what my mommy taught me :c)

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,…)