Bicoastal Gypsies Hunter, NY May 26, 2017

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A little greener here than the desert 😉

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Us again 😊  We haven’t gotten back on trail yet and since we last wrote have traveled even further away.  My family has a place in the Catskill Mountains in NY that is in a beautiful and seemed like a great option for resting and rehabbing Rob’s knee. We are hearing lots about the Sierras from friends who are there now and we are both eager to be back on trail. In the meantime, we are soaking up the lush green landscape, playing scrabble, enjoying being able to cook in a kitchen again and sleeping in, of course.  We will have some other little adventures on the NE coast this next week and will keep the updates coming…IMG_6073 Daddie Gizmo:

I’ve already hiked miles 558-702 with the meniscus tear, knowing something was wrong but not exactly what or to what degree. Those miles and mountains certainly didn’t help it but it may not have harmed it much more than the amount of Advil I put through my kidneys. My new job: Today and everyday it is a rotation of 7 leg strength stretches then 2 miles, 3 times a day with no weight or elevation change and rest in between. *This would all be very boring if I wasn’t here in the Catskill Mountains. Next, I increase the strength and add miles while also slowly adding weight and elevation, but being sure the pain doesn’t get back over a certain level. My goal is 2 more weeks. Maybe 3 to have more strength and less pain in both knees, not just the torn one. As you have watched some of our pix, I’m the one who is now very jealous of the ones from our trail friends just going into the Sierras now. Ghost, RockDoc, Tatters and Rex: We will rejoin soon. Please cut a good trail for us. 🙂
I’m a few days into this specific plan after about a week of rest. If all continues well, Figure 8 and I will both deserve a reward for our patience. I say “us” because she is being so very supportive while I’m being so structured in my exercises.
Question number 1: Is it still Lobster season? Do you know what goes great with a Lobster Roll? A Pina Colada. Barnacle Bills in Ogunquit, ME got me addicted to that combination. I can’t have one without the other anymore.
Question number 2: Can we borrow a car? 🙂

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Gizzie loves to cook

We love it in these mountains so much, we were married here 2 years ago, this August 💞💞

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We defnitely love these mountains

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We clean up nice

UPDATE – May 20, 2017

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Since we last wrote we traveled from Ridgecrest to Los Angeles. We made it to the Dr in Ridgecrest who gave us the news: there isn’t any major damage to Daddie Gizmo’s knee, but he does have a torn meniscus. While we could push through the pain and discomfort we decided to take a conservative approach. We are taking 2-3 weeks off of trail to focus on rehabbing the knee. We want to be as strong and prepared as possible before going into the Sierras and since it’s still early we have plenty of time.

Knowing we were heading out of town, we rented a car Saturday morning to drive to LA to stay with Daddie Gizmo’s dad a couple of nights. On the way we grabbed gatorades, cookies and a little rum to offer hikers as they came out of the trail on Inspiration Point. This is where most people hitch into Wrightwood as we did. It was great to give back some of the love that we received on trail and see so many happy faces enjoy a cold drink and sweets after hiking all day. We have certainly been there ourselves and a little goes a long way.

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Few more awesome people we met –  Daniel, G-Wiz & Master Splinter – who enjoyed some Gatorade, rum and cookies.

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Sy and Stacy pose with Gizzie

G-wiz told us this was his first experience like this which made me even happier. From there we drove to Santa Monica to see the sunset on the ocean and enjoy the food trucks.

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Pretty sunset on Santa Monica Pier

IMG_6055 Felt like we covered a lot of ground in one day. We both admit it feels weird not to be hiking right now and that is truly what we both want to be doing, but we recognize the amazing position we are in right now in our lives.  We have no obligations, nowhere we HAVE to be and can make whatever decision we want on a daily basis to change the course of our journey. There are still boxes of snow gear we ordered that will be put to use and don’t worry – we will still be having a blast  in the interim. Daddie Gizmo is in a patellar stabilizing brace and still needs to keep moving his knee so we will continue to do smaller hikes with less weight while he strengthens his knee. And we will keep you posted on his progress and our eventual return to the beautiful and maginifect Pacific Crest Trail that has my heart and has become my home ❤️💞‼️

Day 54 Miles 693.52 – 702.23 May 28, 2017

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I woke up with visions of sugarplums dancing through my head. Not even the frozen dew that was covering the top of my sleeping bag (we rarely ever have the fly on), the tent and various other items left outside could get me down. Today was the day we finished the desert and arrived at Kennedy Meadows! Woo hoo! Since we needed a little extra time this morning to lay things in the sun to dry I made coffee.

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Coffee anyone? And yes, that’s my sleeping bag catching some rays on a rock

We were both trying to remember if we ever made coffee before on a morning we were hiking and agreed that this was the first. I had a huge cup and by the time we were out of camp at 8:45 I was flying on caffeine. Daddie Gizmo and I gave each other a big hug before beginning the trail for the day and congratulated one another. Maybe a little early, but heck, we only had 9 miles to go. And they went fast! We met up with Nascar from Phoenix less than a mile in and the 3 of us hiked together to KM.6174639376_IMG_06406174639376_IMG_0645

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Hitting 700 with Nascar!

6174639376_IMG_0646 It was great to spend the 3 hour hike having “hiker chatter.” This typically involves where you camped the night before, various stories from your hike thus far, trail angel encounters, what wildlife you have run across, gear you need replaced and ills you have. Overall though, it’s just a really positive conversation because generally everyone you run into is in a great mood. Why would you be out of here if you weren’t enjoying it??

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Kern river

6174639376_IMG_06426174639376_IMG_0644We arrived in KM about noon and it was great to walk up to the general store and hear the group of other hikers on the patio cheer for us as we approached. I told you, getting to KM is a big deal. IMG_4705IMG_4706We finished the desert and we had a great time! Leaving ourselves enough time so as not to rush and have shorter days and zero days when we wanted was the best option for us. We promptly devoured a double double burger that was fantastic. I finally wasn’t hungry anymore. We were looking forward all day to seeing Dave who drove up from Tehachapi to visit us!! Daddie Gizmo and I really fell in love with him and his wife Dale when we were in Tehachapi. It felt great to have an afternoon to catch up with him. He has great positive energy around him. Since Daddie Gizmo had decided on the way to KM that it was best to see a Dr for his knee, we took Dave up on a ride to Ridgecrest where we were able to get an appt. tomorrow morning. We grabbed a cheap hotel, did some laundry, took showers and ate dinner. No sunset tonight but I’m sure it won’t be long before we are in our tent again.

Day 53 Miles 680.81 – 693.52 May 17, 2017

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Its 7:49am on Wednesday morning. I have been laying in my sleeping bag awake for a little while thinking about the fact that we are about to hike the final 20 something miles to Kennedy Meadows and what an accomplishment that is. Making it to KM is a pretty big deal for PCT hikers and Daddie Gizmo and I are no exception. Even though technically there are another 50 miles of Southern California desert after KM, this is the milestone that divides the desert and Sierras. 704 miles from the Mexican border! When we rode back to the trailhead in Tehachapi with Dale and Dave, Dave told us he had 3 takeaways from meeting us. I like that idea and am going to do three takeaways from this experience thus far through the desert and to KM:
1. I feel physically stronger and happier on a consistent basis than I can ever remember being in my adult life. Knowing that I can climb these mountains even when I am tired and looking back at how much I have improved since March makes its easy to see how much I have grown mentally and physically. When it comes to happiness, I have always been incredibly responsive to the outdoors, knowing that is where I feel most at peace. Camping has always been a favorite of mine, but being able to spend nearly all of the last 2 months outside feeling the wind, smelling the trees and flowers and being connected to the elements and has brought me to a level of internal peace that I hope to maintain for a long time.
2. I am more in love with my husband than I have ever been. This kind of trip is not for all couples, but in our case it has made us stronger. Being able to see him in such a good mood for so long, with his bright blue eyes, warms my heart regularly. When we took all the BS out of our lives and stripped down to the bare essentials and focused on the same goal day in and day out, it became obvious that we are a really really good team. Daddie Gizmo is an amazing hiking partner, fantastic husband and without question my very best friend in the world.
3. Last but certainly not least is that the experiences we have had in the first 704 miles of this trail have reaffirmed my faith in humanity. All the people we have met off trail, in towns or hitching rides, have shown me the kindness that exists in the world in a way I had not previously experienced.

6174639376_IMG_06206174639376_IMG_0624Eventually, we both got up and out of the tent and on trail about 10 am for the second day in a row. The sky was completely cloudy this morning which made us just want to stay in our sleeping bags. We started straight up a mountain again and covered 1,000 ft in 2.3 miles where we got more water at Fox Mill Spring and continued on. As we were hiking we came across a dozen people eating lunch on the top of the mountain. It was a group of recent high school grads on a 3 week hiking trip. They seemed in good spirits – I’m sure graduating will do that to you! We also ran into a Mary who was on the trail taking photos of flowers and birds. It was really nice to stay and talk with her for a while because we love checking out all the flowers on the trail and she knew quite a bit. Even pointed out a flower to us that is named after Lewis and Clark and is the state flower of Idaho and rarely seen in this climate. We were about to walk right by it! IMG_6043.JPGOur original plan was to do 17 miles today so we could finish off Thursday morning with another 5 into Kennedy Meadows, but my legs were exceptionally tired from the steep climb yesterday. When I mentioned to Daddie Gizmo that I didn’t think I was going to make it 17 today he said he already knew 🙂

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Burned the register??!!!

We stopped about 9 miles in and made a hot lunch of boil in a bag rice and another delicious curry from my father in law. I have been sooo hungry since we left Lake Isabella. I needed to make a meal during the day or I was going to start eating my shoulder strap. While we there we discussed our plan from KM. We need to get Daddie Gizmo to the dr to see about his knee. Since we don’t really know what will happen we are just going to go with the flow. Maybe we will need to take a couple weeks off for him to rest or they could just brace it or perhaps even surgery. He says it hurts but beyond that neither one of us knows how this will play out. Either way, we will be together and will make the best of whatever happens. It was another 4.5 miles to our campsite for the night and since we got there at 5:30 we had plenty of sunlight to wash a few things in the creek, cook dinner and be in our sleeping bags to watch the sunset over the mountain. Second night in a row that we have seen the sunset from our tent and I love it!!

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Snow in the distance!

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See the trail!

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Day 52 Miles 665 – 680.81 May 16, 2017

Daddie Gizmo:
4000 feet up and 4000 feet down in 16 miles. We slept late, as usual. I ate my breakfast which is typically 2 Sugar Frosted Fruit Pop Tarts. I know I should have more protein in the morning, but the sugar is my replacement for caffeine. We left camp about 10 AM. There were high clouds but it was warming up quickly on the trail. 6174639376_IMG_0615.JPGOur first target was a creek about 5 miles away. With all the steep ups and downs it took us 2 1/2 hours to cover these 5 miles. It was in the middle of this leg of trail that I finally had to confide in and Figure 8 that my knee which I had hyperextended about two weeks ago was not getting any worse but was also not getting any better. IMG_5999IMG_6001I pledged that I was going to power through to Kennedy Meadows and then we would decide exactly what to do. Our next leg today would take us up a very rocky trail along the edge of the mountains up our next target which was another 2500 ft climb. The cliff drop offs today were some of the steepest drops we’ve seen. Maybe 1500-2000 ft just a foot to the side of the trail. Along the way we came upon a big brown hairy Tarantula literally guarding the trail.

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Mr. Tarantula

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We thought this was cool how it’s shaped like a heart ❤️

He was square in the middle, facing me, all puffed up and tail up in the air. His body was about as big as 2 golf balls end to end. Neither of us have ever seen a spider like this in the wild so it was pretty cool. We gave him a wide berth around and kept climbing. Our reward for reaching the top of the ridge was a hard and vicious wind in the face. It was cold up here at 7000 ft. Quite different than when we started. Sometimes I get caught off guard at the weather and temperature swings we go through during the day. From climbing or descending, being on the lee or windward side of a mountain or even a ridge, it can make a huge difference. Next up was the next creek 5 more miles away. It was a more pleasant rolling trail that dropped all the way back down to the elevation where we started the day. 4000 ft up and now the down part is as also complete. IMG_6045IMG_60446174639376_IMG_0619Right as we reached the creek a hiker named Swede passed us and another named False Start decided he would camp at the creek too. Camp food tonight was pretty good. 1/2 pound of canned ham cut up and boiled in water for the Idahoan mashed potatoes and to top it all of, a package of Velveta cheese sauce. Hearty calories for 2 hungry hikers.

Day 51 Miles 652 – 665 May 15, 2017

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This was our break right before the snow began

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It’s snowing!

Daddie Gizmo:

The climb out of Walker Pass was 4 miles of up on desert sand. Then 4 more miles up on broken rock and cobbles. As we neared the top of the ridge the wind picked up and Figure 8 asked me if the little white things floating in the air was snow. I thought so but that would be weird. In just another 200 ft up we turned a corner right into a strong headwind and a fair amount of snow. Today was supposed to be 85 and hot. What would be next? Locusts?
Our slightly bizarre weather day just confirmed to me how unpredictable things on the PCT can be. The views all day we’re getting are more and more distant into the next set of mountains we will be in soon as we got up to 7000 ft. Next we had about 2000 ft to descend to our next water source. The snow slowly turned to gromple and then to rain. Gromple is when snowflakes melt a little and collect up other wet and frozen flakes to make larger wet heavier blobs of snow that seem to defy their weight to gravity and still float down somewhat like snow. Maybe 500 ft more decent, and the snow and gromple turned to a light rain. It began to feel cooler now with the rain than up on the ridge where it really was much colder. The trail had been technical to hike up and down today with all of the rock and we had to be even more cautious when the rock was also wet. After just 13 miles and 7 1/2 hours we settled into a nice camp spot, set up the tent on a flat area and built a small fire to dry out about 3pm. Short and tough but rewarding day. IMG_4678IMG_4680IMG_4681IMG_4684Figure 8 had an airplane bottle of Makers Mark that one of her girlfriends, Chelsea, had sent to us which also helped us celebrate a good hard physical day and warm up a bit. We made rice and heated up some pouches of vegetable curry that Papa Romero had stocked us with that was surprisingly one of the better camp meals that we’ve had on the trail so far. Lace enjoyed playing with the fire while I rested in the tent. Now to watch the fire die down and sleep.

Days 49 & 50 Zero Days in Lake Isabella May 13 & 14, 2017

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March 14th was the 2 month anniversary of when we left Dallas, flew to California and began a new chapter in our lives! Today marks the 2 month anniversary of when we started this lifestyle change and epic hike. No regrets at all. We couldn’t be happier with our choice.

It’s been a pretty uneventful 2 days (but very relaxing).  We spent time resupplying for the the next stretch and watching movies (many of them bad but still fun) that we got from redbox😉.  We also made another couple warm delicious meals using the convenient grill setup at the campground.  One of the local park residents gave us fresh baked banana nut muffins too –  so good!

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Chicken, sriracha beans and rice. 😊Yum

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Slathered in butter and spice

Since not much to report, we thought we would do a few random things and reminisce on leaving Dallas…

The photo below is from our last night in our condo, March 12th.  We had spent all day and night finishing packing, cleaning and painting so the place would be move in ready for our tenant the following month. We were also both recovering from the flu and were EXHAUSTED by about 10p when I think this photo was taken; however, that did not take away from our excitement and as soon as we were 99.9% done that bottle of champagne on the counter was popped! We sipped it and marveled at all the prep we had accomplished to leave. Rob tied on my second anklet to prepare for our journey and we caught about 4 hours of sleep before leaving to catch our early flight to LAX on Monday the 13th.  One day before we began the trail, March 14th.   You can clearly see how tired we are in the photo from the plane – but we were on our way to fulfilling our dream – and sleeping the entire flight!

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So tired and so happy to begin our journey.

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All the furniture is gone, we are exhausted but we must celebrate! 🥂

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The orangeish anklet is from one of my students when I taught math in Nepal and the other I made on our honeymoon in Hawaii. Rob made one too

On another note…I can not say enough good things about hiking in a skirt. I am in love with my purple rain adventure skirt.  The material has held up to all the elements, never torn, dries SO FAST and is very breathable. It’s not restricting at all. The pockets are perfect too. It’s so easy to get to my phone and camera as I’m hiking along. Just the right height and the Velcro is very strong so if I want something tucked away I know it will be safe in the outer Velcro pocket. If you are considering a hiking skirt, look no further. I never hiked in a skirt before the PCT, but now there is no turning back. http://www.purplerainskirts.com/

Daddie Gizmo:

Sleeping well and physically recovering every night from the day’s hike has been essential for us and even more so now that we are doing 20+ mile days and we head into the higher elevations above 8000ft. We invested, and I use the word invested on purpose, in a sleeping system that has worked very well for us. We each use an insulated air pad (Q Core SLX). When they are blown up fully they give great insulation between you and the cold ground. If it’s not a cold night, we can leave them a little mushy and they are ever so comfy. We went through a few different down sleeping bags before we finally settled on the ones we now love. They are 850 fill down, Western Mountaineering VersaLight mummy bags. They are super light as a pad and bag combination and super warm. We learned from a veteran hiker not to squeeze our down bags down into a compression sack for space, but to use them in the bottom of our pack just pushed down to take up all the nooks and crannies and keep them fluffier for when we get them out each night to sleep in. Add a dedicated tee shirt, short-johns for me and leggings for her, plus wool socks, it gives us something to sleep in each night that isn’t dirty from the trail. Since the floor size of our little tent is 50″ x 80″ the 25″ wide pads fit perfectly across the bottom of the tent in a fixed position and stay put. A must have for us was the 2oz squeeze balloon attachment thingie that blows up the pads for us each night. BTW, we don’t endorse these for money or anything like that. I truly write this so that people coming behind us or thru hikers next year can get a headstart on some of their own research. If you see ads on our blog also know that it comes from wordpress. I guess, as we grow in page hits per day, it helps them cover the cost of giving us the website / blog space for free. Try lots and lots of gear out before you take a big trip. We had three shake down backpacking trips to get ours just right. Well, mostly right. 🙂