Colorado to Canada and beyond…soaking in nature’s beauty by foot, car, plane and motorcycle September 7, 2017

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Celebrated our two year wedding anniversary in Vail with a gondola ride

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Whiskey tasting on our two year wedding anniversary

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Gizzie finds a big mushroom

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Overlooking Dillon, CO

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A rainbow right outside our front door in Dillon, CO

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Figure 8:
Our two weeks in Colorado were filled with beautiful scenery, the solar eclipse and familiar faces. The home we rented was in Dillon, near the lake, with trailheads out our front door. We were so fortunate to be able to see our friends from Dallas three different times since they were on vacation less than an hour away from the home we rented. I hiked my second 14er this summer, Mt. Elbert, in their company.

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Hiking up Mt. Elbert

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Hiking up Mt. Elbert

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Summit of Mt. Elbert

Of all the hikes I have done since we left the Pacific Crest Trail earlier this year, Meadowcreek Trail, in CO was my favorite. It began with a steady 3000 ft elevation gain along a creek and popped out into a stunning meadow reminiscent of the Eastern Sierras. It was at that point I had planned to stop and head back to the trailhead for a total of 9 miles but the view was so stunning that I just kept moving forward to see what was next. Climbing higher up the mountain I came to a ridge that overlooked the mountain tops and valley between in each direction. I stopped for a long time and soaked in the beauty before heeding the warning of the dark clouds and heading back.

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Meadowcreek trail

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Meadowcreek trail

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Meadowcreek trail

It’s true that I miss thru hiking or even multi-day hikes. I wouldn’t hesitate to start the PCT again in March and make it the whole the way this time hopefully. Rob’s knees are slowly getting better and as soon as he is ready I have already said I will be the Sherpa and carry all of our backpacking gear as long as we can hike together again. In addition to my hiking every other day, Rob and I saw an amazing flamenco concert, Rodrigo and Gabriel, at the amphitheater in Vail. What a great experience to hear such lively music while watching the sunset over the mountain and eventually being under a blanket of stars. We visited Loveland Pass, Breckenridge and Pikes Peak as well.6241778160_IMG_1014Giz does Pikes Peak:

 

IMG_7226Pikes Peak was really impressive being able to drive to the the top and Rob LOVED being able to drive on the windy climbing road that is also the race course!
Leaving Colorado on August 27th we drove back to Dallas. No, no, thankfully we are not even six months into our trip so not heading back for good. Not that we would head back to Dallas. We are definitely moving to another state when we are done, but Rob is selling a car in the Mecum auction today – a ’78 Lotus Esprit, the James Bond car from Spy Who Loved Me!

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Lotus on auction floor

And, I needed to get my helmet so I could go motorcycle riding with my dad for a few days to Canada. This is the 11th year my Pops and I have taken his motorcycle on a ten day camping trip through New Hampshire, Maine and Canada. I had a whirlwind 32 hour visit in Dallas bouncing from friend to friend catching up and sharing laughs before taking a 5am flight to New Hampshire where I met my Dad. I joined part way through the trip this year and we went to the Bay of Fundy in Canada. I have been there many times before but I just love that area where the tide changes are the highest in the world. There is a certain stillness and softness to eastern Canada that I haven’t seen elsewhere.  Being on the motorcycle trip this year (which I never expected to be since I thought I would still be on the PCT) made me realize how much I have gotten my adventurous spirit and love of the outdoors from these moments with my pops as a younger person. As he said, I took his love for adventure and took it to a whole different level.

 

View of Bay of Fundy from house we had in Alma. High tide and mid- low tide on right:

 

 

Took the bike up Mt. Washington

 

After a beautiful and relaxing weekend, my dad and I rode back to Hunter, NY, in the Catskill mountains where Rob and I were married. I am spending a quiet week here until Rob drives north from Dallas so he and I can start the epic Canada portion of our adventure! He has never been to Canada and we are going all the way to Newfoundland. We will be gone 3 1/2 weeks before coming back mid-October to NY to see my best friend/sister from another mother who will be in the country for two weeks.

At just under 6 months traveling, exploring and discovering new pieces of myself, I am in a great head space. Rob and I are planning our future and learning more about ourselves, this vast beautiful world we inhabit and our marriage along the way. I am sure we will have lots to share from our Canada trip so stay tuned!

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Moving mountains and hitting the 5 month mark💞🌸

 

Two glorious days ago, August 13th, marked the 5 month anniversary of the beginning of our travels as we drove from New Mexico to Colorado. We had a very special time in Taos soaking in the spiritual nature of the land, cooking up a storm every day, watching the daily monsoons roll in, hiking and getting to know the local scene.

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Where’s Gizmo?!

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Rob enjoys a huge beer in Taos ski valley area

We had homemade salsa and guacamole in the house at all times, but Rob’s claim to fame in NM were the roasted butternut squash enchiladas covered in a hatch green chili cream sauce. Amazing! Whether we were chatting with the Taos residents at happy hour in town or nude in a hot spring on the Rio Grande (yes, we had a full 30 minute conversation with a gentleman in a spring while we were all naked. God, I love New Mexico) we learned that residents feel very passionately about Taos, its history and community.

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Lots of hiking on then Rio Grande

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IMG_5499 Rob and I both felt the connection to nature that we were searching for even though we were off the trail. I got in some amazing hiking. There is no shortage of it in the area. With our rental up we decided to travel to Colorado, 25 pounds of roasted hatch chilis in tow, to play in these mountains. We are in Dillon and have a dozen hikes right outside our door. Daddie Gizmo’s knees are slowly improving and he has been testing them out on flat hikes while I am going for the long miles and elevation gain. There is the best of both here. Our new jeep has served us well and feels like another piece of gear to help us explore and hike. We have had so much fun that we already blew a tire out in a rocky dirt road! Surprisingly, we have a plan for the next couple of months. I am going to go a motorcycle camping trip with my Dad to Canada when we leave here and Rob to Dallas to wrap a few things up. Then he is going to drive to New York and meet me in the Catskill mountains again. From there we plan to head to Eastern Canada. Rob has never been and of all the places I have been in the world I believe it to be one of the most beautiful. I will show him Cape Breton and Nova Scotia while we consume mass amounts of mussels, oysters and lobsters before we head to New Foundland where neither of us have been before. October or November will find us back in Taos.  This is the most planning we have done in a long time. We have had a windy adventure over the last 5 months and right now we are ready to take Colorado by storm. ❤️💙💛6176649648_IMG_09796176649648_IMG_0980

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Overlooking Dillon and Silverthorne where we are staying.

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Started the first day in CO with a beautiful 9 mile hike…

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…that ended in a huge waterfall

We are in a different state, but our state of mind remains the same⛰☀️🌸 August 1, 2017

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View from my hike before I got caught in the rain coming down the mountain. A nice outdoor shower 😉

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The Rio Grande!

IMG_6907Daddie Gizmo and I spent five days in LA together since we last wrote during which time we planned our next move. We decided to “play house” while he rests his knees. Our requirements while looking for a place to stay were somewhere connected to nature, secluded but close to lots of hiking and a working kitchen.  We bought a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee in LA and drove it to New Mexico this past Saturday where we had located the perfect place for us to relax for two weeks.  The home we rented is a beautiful earth ship in a small town 15 minutes outside of Taos, El Prado.

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This window in the living room looks out onto the gorgoeous mountain range.

It’s many windows, seclusion from neighbors, and accessibility to endless hikes are just what the dr. ordered. We have spent a lot of time in the kitchen making salsas, guacamole and delicious meals. Everywhere you look in this home you are staring at the mountains and I LOVE it! We really love the laid back earthy vibe this town gives off too. I have done 2 great hikes so far that have had beautiful views.6176650448_IMG_09356176650448_IMG_09406176650448_IMG_0947

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Hiking to Wheeler Peak

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Giz feeling accomplished after making it to the peak

I love waking up in the morning, choosing a hike that will start my morning deep in nature for a few hours and then coming back to have lunch and spend the day with Daddie Gizmo. It’s funny how we almost feel like we are on vacation here, but vacation from what?!  We have been on vacation for 4 1/2 months since we left Dallas. During that time we have hiked 800 miles of the PCT, visited great friends in Seattle, spent two weeks relaxing in the Catskill mountains, enjoyed a 3 week road trip around California, several small trips to LA with the hospitality of Papa Romero and now at least two weeks in New Mexico.6176650448_IMG_09606176650448_IMG_09586176650448_IMG_09576176650448_IMG_09526176650448_IMG_0937IMG_6837 All in all, I’d say we are doing alright! We know we are going to rest somehwere for another 2 weeks when our rental is up. We attended a tour at the Earthship Biotecture/Greater World center today. We were both incredibely inspired and moved and looking into possibly doing the two week internship this month where we can learn how to build an earthship. One thing we decided for certain, that determines our forward path, is that we are going to buy land and build, with our own hands, several earth ships that will become our hospitality business. One of us will be attending the 29 day, 6 day a week academy in October to gain all the hands on experience and classroom knowledge regarding regulations that we will need to set off on our own. We were meant to be here in Taos to discover this shared passion for off the grid sustainable living.

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Loving the greenhouses

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Exposed tire walls in the mechanical room

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Beautiful fireplace in this earthship

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This bottle wall is east facing and illuminates at sunrise

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An unexpected twist July 25, 2017 (the day after Rob’s birthday!)

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Back on trail

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Everything is so green

Its hard to walk away from someone with whom you spent every day and night of the last four months, hiked nearly 800 miles through the desert and snow, took a three week road trip across California and made some the best memories of your life with. Even harder when it is your husband. This is the very struggle I went through. Daddie Gizmo and I discussed the very real possibility of one of us sustaining an injury while hiking before we even left Dallas to begin the PCT. We agreed that if one was injured, the other should finish. When it came time to put this thought into practice it was much easier said than done. I am in love with the hiking lifestyle, the simplicity and peace it fills me with, the beauty I am constantly surrounded by and the camaraderie found on the trail. DG and I shared some of the best moments of our entire relationship while hiking this year and grew in ways I never expected, both individually and as a couple, a team. Last week we decided that I would go back to where I feel more at home and myself than I have in my entire adult life, to trail, and Rob would go to LA temporarily. He would work on buying a vehicle and I would continue north to Canada. Early morning on Friday we put our packs back on for the first time in a month and traveled the mile from our campsite to the bus stop in Mammoth. Here we would each board a separate bus. Rob would go south and I north to Reno. I opted to begin the trail again in Sierra City, skipping any snow. Our farewell at the bus stop was quick as we were both getting emotional about parting ways. A four hour bus ride and 90 minute drive from a trail angel later I was dropped off at the trailhead at 3. It only took as long as getting out of the car and sitting on the side of the road to put my hiking shoes on to begin to feel a deep sense of heart break that I was going back out without my partner. All the memories and feelings of what we have experienced together flooded me as I hiked that afternoon through tears. I know I am capable of completing the hike without him, but I had not expected to be so emotional about being apart. Not knowing when I would see him next made it even more difficult. I hiked five miles in that afternoon straight up the mountain and set up my tent where I had a wide view of the Northern Sierras and could watch the sunset while laying in my tent. As I lay there I felt so comfortable and at peace feeling the wind blow on me, watching the sky turn pink and listening to the chatter of birds. That didn’t alleviate the pain in my heart I felt being there without Rob.

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Stunningly beautiful campsite

6174597616_IMG_09026174597616_IMG_0904IMG_6772The next morning I was roused by a fierce wind that indicated it was time to get up and moving. On trail and climbing by 7:30 I was still missing Rob terribly. I am not usually the sappy one in our relationship and my overwhelming emotions were actually really surprising. I thought I would get out and be so happy, hike my heart out and call him in four days when I got to Quincy to say I was continuing north. That’s how I envisioned it, but the reality was as I hiked that morning I was beginning to doubt that I should continue north. I turned south to head off trail then north again as I struggled with what to do. Finally, I sat in the corner of a switchback looking over the valley and Sierra City.

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Sitting in the corner of a switchback

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Taking in the scenery as I hike off trail

IMG_6779I bawled and thought long and hard. An hour later I had made a decision to turn back, hitch back to Reno and somehow – by bus, flight or car – return to Rob and meet him in LA. I told the trail goodbye for now and that I love her so much but I want to come back to it it with Rob. I hiked very slow back to town, savoring the last moments on trail and stopping often to just soak in the quiet and scenery. This really is a beautiful part with how lush and green everything is. The mountains are covered in manzanita. I saw a massive deer ten feet from me munching on some grass before I popped back out on the road at 1:30. The way things fell into place from there made me believe I made the right decision. As soon as I got to the road a passing car offered me a ride for the mile into town. Within that time I mentioned I was going to Reno today and they replied that they are going to Truckee after eating some lunch and I am welcome to join them. Amazing! Truckee is an hour drive from Sierra City and only 30 minutes from Reno. I didn’t even have to hitchhike which was a great way to start the 491 mile journey to LA. We arrived in Truckee at 3 where things continued to go my way when I was able to hop on a 3:50 bus to Reno. While I waited for the bus I looked to see if I could get a flight that very evening to LA. With all stars aligning I booked a 6:40 flight from Reno that would have me in LA and in my husbands arms by 8:30. I couldn’t believe how all the pieces fell into place so effortlessly. I had fully expected to have to stay in Reno Saturday night and get back somehow Sunday or Monday. When I told Rob I was coming back he was really really surprised but very very happy. We are turning our PCT journey into a section hike now. We won’t be able to complete it this year, but with any luck we can get back out there together before the season changes. There is always next year..and now that we are living on the west coast (though currently homeless) it will be easy to go back. So now we choose the next step of our adventure and continue to make memories together.  Today we are looking for a place to rent for a month anywhere in the country that is out of the city. We want to cook, relax, rehab the knees and be connected to nature and each other. Life is good 😊

Hello Again!! July 17, 2017

IMG_6751We owe all our Friends, Family, Fellow PCT Hikers and Everyone traveling along with us on the Blog an update. Sometimes these are easy to write and other times, like this, maybe not.
Completing our Thru hike has been in jeopardy ever since the second meniscus tear hit my right knee about 4 weeks ago. Now, just getting back on trail anytime soon may be out of our hands. My left knee meniscus tear accepted 3 weeks of therapy and responded very well letting us restart after Kennedy Meadows. After almost 4 weeks of rest and just a little therapy, my right knee has taken 2 little steps forward and then somehow regressed to the original pain level and difficulty just walking while it tries to lock-up in certain positions.

 

We camped on the edge of a bluff in Mendocino and fell asleep to the crashing waves below us. Bright green sea anemone awaited our discovery the next morning.

My thoughts and emotions are all over the spectrum. Guilt, that I am the factor that caused our hike to stall out. Frustration, over the pain and injury itself. Depression, over the failure of reaching our goal and losing contact with such a wonderful sense of camaraderie we had with the whole trail community. Happy that I’m not pounding away on a laptop, airplanes and a mobile phone for 60 hours a week.IMG_6747.JPG
Hiking the PCT everyday has kept our lives simple and incredibly rewarding. You achieve a big physigcal goal every day in a settling that is absolutely spectacular. Figure 8 and I have felt our relationship and marriage grow broader and deeper. Sure, these temporary question marks do cause stress. We traded the chaos and negativity of the daily news for conversations about nature, waterfalls, flora and fauna. We had successfully replaced the hustle and bustle of traffic and city noise for deer quietly moving through our campsite like we weren’t even there. We’ve had scary moments, amazing sunsets, lots of love and aches & pains but I’d still do it all over again given the chance. We’ve met the most kind hearted Trail Angels along our journey and received the support of our truest Friends and Family in the form of places to stay, logistics, care packages and encouraging words.

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We enjoyed an unbelievable view over Lake Tahoe at this campsite

Where do we go from here? For the last 3 weeks we have enjoyed the continued freedom that renting a little Jeep afforded us. We continued exploring the Eastern Sierras, circled Lake Tahoe, laid on the beach in Santa Cruz, camped on a bluff in Mendocino and wine tasted in Anderson Valley.

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Camping in redwoods in Anderson Valley

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Crazy photo booth at Bonny Doon

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Seeing a familiar face in Santa Cruz💜

Figure 8 would prefer to be back on trail. I could follow her in a car but that wouldn’t quite be the same as us experiencing things together. After being so close together for 4 months, I have a bit of separation anxiety just thinking about it.
#Vanlife is an idea we have talked about often. Buying a used Sprinter or Transit Van that we can up-fit to our own functional yet simple design and use to continue our journey. This is pretty appealing and does make some sort of logical sense.IMG_6741.JPGIMG_6748.JPG
Another option which could serve us well now is to find a month long place to stay inexpensively to rest, heal and make our best plans while I can cook for her, get beat up in Scrabble games and she can still be out on day hikes in the mountains or coast. Where… is the question? Anyone need a Paris trained personal chef for a month?
When we started our sabbatical year, we knew we would begin with our PCT hike. Then likely outfit a van to further travel in Canada or maybe even up to Alaska for another six months. We would’ve used much of this time to scout out a place on the West Coast (combination of mountains and coastline) to start a new business and a new life after the corporate world. Maybe the timing has just been jumbled up? The near term uncertainty is difficult although we still have good plans later in time.

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We looooove the coast in Mendocino

One day, in the not too distant future, we will have a B&B, little cabins to rent or something similar to make our living and continue a lifestyle we have grown to live in and love. Everyone will get a Family and Friends rate because everyone we will meet and greet will be a new Friend.
I share all these thoughts, in part, because it’s therapeutic for me to get it all out in the open. But truly, all suggested spins of the Twister Board Arrow, Compass or Map will be appreciated for our life’s next steps. We have camped most of the last three weeks and are enjoying a night in AC and wifi to try to get a game plan together. We have plenty of time and a willing ear as we sort through all sorts of options right now.

A little gypsy update

IMG_5195.JPGDaddie Gizmo:

X-rays of the knees again. Nothing broken or major ligament damage which is good news. The pain is exceptionally strong and the not-so-good news is a torn meniscus now in my right knee. It’s in a different area than the one we rehabbed on my left knee and it didn’t feel like the same type of pain, so I was a bit worried to get the diagnosis. Once again, more therapy recommended before I get back on trail. Movement, yes. Weight bearing stretches, yes. But no extended miles, elevation change and definitely no pack weight on my back. It’s hard to swallow, taking my wife back off the trail that she loves so much, again. Realistically, though, three weeks should be enough time to get my knee back in decent shape. I’ve learned to be very disciplined with the therapy simply because I know it works, now. Three weeks will also lessen the snow load above 10,000 feet and hopefully lessen the severity and danger of the creek crossings for both of us as well. We really want to pick right up where we left off and continue traveling north on the thru hike. So many people are skipping around and hopping around this year north-south-north again, but the experience of a straight thru hike is what we are here for. To begin at the southern border and make our way up through California 770 miles so far has been incredibly rewarding. Hopefully, we can continue this after a few weeks off. In the meantime… We rented a little Jeep and are going to explore all the areas around Mammoth and further north to Lake Tahoe. Maybe further north than that and even up to Oregon. Can we resist the urge to head west to the beach?

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Hot Creek Geological Area

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Got some wheels for two weeks

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Convict Lake

The Eastern Sierras are a magical sight and the experience of being in the high valleys, lakes, mountains and breathing this air is something we both love so much and just want to soak it all in. Just like on the trail, it is a great feeling to be unburdened by time or day of the week or some sort of preset itinerary where we can go with the wind and do exactly what makes us both happy. Travel. Experience nature. Experience the camaraderie of people we meet. Receive a little help when we need. Give a lots of help, when we can. Throw in a margarita or two along the way, maybe a rum punch, and life continues to be good, even in the face of injury and adversity.

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Hilltop hot tub with a 360 view

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Swimming in Convict Lake

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Rock Hot Tub where we camped the first night we had wheels. Cocktail in there by night and coffee in the morning

Figure 8:
It’s been a week since we got off trail and in typical fashion for us, we are having way too much fun. We weren’t really sure how to inexpensively spend 3 weeks, but finally decided on renting a car and making everyday a new adventure as we explore the Eastern Sierras. Taking the bus from Independence where we had picked up our bounce box to Mammoth Lakes turned out to be a fantastic idea. We are both blown away by how pretty it is here. Just about every outdoor activity is available here – hiking, snowboarding (we watched people coming down the Mountain at the Main Lodge), mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, canoeing etc. We have been exploring the many Alpine Lakes in this area. Just when we think we have seen the most beautiful picturesque setting of water and mountains, the next lake is even more stunning.  The melting snow is creating magnificent waterfalls coming down the mountains that are more lush and green now than any other time of year. There is an abundance of gypsy (free) camping in this area.

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Gull Lake

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Unpacking for third gypsy campsite. We are using snow in the cooler so we don’t need to buy ice

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Marina at Lake Mary

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Lake George

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Waking up in the 4SR

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Lakes George and Mamie from above

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Camping spot #2 in Inyo Forest

We have camped by the Hot Springs and in the woods. All the time enjoying finding a new place each night. Last night as we discussed how much we are loving this little adventure a deer walked through our camping area. This was the third deer sighting we had yesterday. The largest were a dozen young bucks playing on the side of the road. Between a cast iron skillet and grill top purchase we are easily making dinner each night. We have tried to repay the hitchhiking love and spent a couple hours with a lady we picked up earlier this week. We took her to swim in Convict Lake with us and she invited us to the hippie Rainbow Gathering in Oregon. We declined, but it was fun getting to chat with her. We have the car for two weeks and are going to wind our way up 395 while exploring all the little mountain towns and natures beauty along the way to Lake Tahoe. It’s likely we come back through Yosemite before getting back on trail where we left off. We still find that all we need is everything we used on trail – tent, sleeping bag, stove etc – and our never ending desire to discover the next gorgeous scene. 💞🌈💜

 

Day 67 Hitchhike from Lone to Independence June 23, 2017

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Gizzie’s pen pal, Hawk

Figure 8:

We were up much to early this morning for our liking. Since we couldn’t fall back asleep and both woke up starving, we rolled out of bed and into the Alabama Hills cafe at 8:30. Daddie Gizmo had a massive chicken fried steak for breakfast. He is losing weight again on trail so it was great to see him eat what looked like a breakfast that could serve a family of four. We sat at the counter and drank several cups of coffee while discussing what to do this weekend and where to go for a few days to rest and figure out our game plan going forward. Originally, we thought that we would camp in Independence but it’s over 100 degrees there and doesn’t seem like a good idea. We have to go to Independence to pick up 2 packages and it’s only a 15 minute ride down 395 so should be an easy hitch. Since there is a bus that runs to Manmoth tonight and it’s only 80 degrees there we decided to do laundry at the laundromat next door and then head that direction. Clean clothes and all (what a treat!), we stood in front of the gas station and quickly got a ride to Independence. It’s a good thing because it was so hot that my toes were burning in the sun. We were brought to tears when we opened another special package from our great friends, Sam & Kalynn, in Dallas. They always pick the perfect hiking goodies and include great notes. I was smiling before even opening the box because it was decorated in a hiker theme! The boxes were shipped to the Courthouse Motel and we were going to kill an hour there until the bus arrived to take us to Mammoth. I immediately saw they had Scrabble and we were thrilled to play a game.IMG_6535.JPG Noticing that they have a bunkhouse that is completely empty, I asked what the rate is to stay. At $25/night per person to have a bed, kitchen, bathroom and tv it seemed like a no brainer. Again we lucked out having the place to ourselves. Later in the evening we walked one block to the only cafe in town. We were both laughing at how strange it was to have a French restaurant in this little desert town, but they served damn good escargot, so there were no complaints! We love having the flexibility to change our plans at a moments notice and go-with-the-flow whether on trail or not.

Daddie Gizmo:
Our bodies were feeling the after effects of climbing Mt Whitney yesterday. Sore, tired and hungry. All in a good way. After our massive breakfast, I proudly walked over to a souvenir shop and bought a geomarker pin of the mountain and our accomplishment yesterday. Since we have been cramponing over so many miles of ice and snow, climbing more rock trails and doing more bouldering than ever before, I’ve had a pretty sharp pain in my right knee. I can’t tell exactly when or what happened but it’s not very much fun. It seems different from the meniscus tear in my left knee that we took 3 weeks time off trail to rehab. That has actually been very successful with only a little bit of regression. We made an appointment with an Orthopedic MD in Mammoth on Monday just in case a rest weekend doesn’t improve things. Later, we hitched a ride to Independence from a Mother/ Daughter pair that were the support crew for their Husband / Father on his PCT hike this year. It remains a great community of people along the trail. We couldn’t do all this without them.