Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Pre-PCT, Lil Details

As you might have guessed, my life revolves around planning and packing for the PCT right now.  I had a silly idea in my head that as soon as I packed up all of my meals, loading the boxes would just take a day.  Oh, boy, was I wrong.  It is taking me a day per month of boxes, so I'm two months in and should be packed by the end of Thurs.  I've been double-checking my mileage plan, my maps, and my water plan for most sections as I go - hence the delay.  It's been a challenge for me to just let go of some of the details.  I know I cannot memorize the plans for 4+ months of hiking, but I keep pouring through them - largely because I'm afraid of making mistakes.  That's something I need to let go of as well.  Mistakes are going to happen on a 4+ month trip (and, no, that's not me letting down my awareness) - I just need to minimize their impact when they do.

For the technical details, I'm using the NOLS Cookery book as a guide for caloric intake.

At 120lbs (my backpacking body weight is 10# lower than my Ironman weight), I'm plan to take in ~3000 calories a day.  As much as I'd love to take in more when I hit the high altitude of the Sierras, I know from experience that I'll be fortunate to just sustain my normal intake.  Anywho, if this proves to be low (and it might be), I'll be able to supplement my supplies in the towns I pass through.  What was important to me was that I had ~3000 healthy base-calories pre-packed.  It will be very easy to get junk food on the trail - it will be a challenge to find all of the delicious goodness I'm prefer.  Oh, and I'm a bit spoiled in regards to granola bars.  The trend I see on thru hiking forums is to consume mostly processed junk food (potato chips & candy bars) as really high caloric food sources.  I'm not opposed to splurging but I hope to stay mostly true to my nutritional values. I know the quality of food I eat directly effects the quality of my body's output (not to mention my mood).

Oh, Chia Bars, Bumble Bars, Juno Bars, and Odwalla Bars are my favorite!!
I purchased a lot of them in advance and am fortunate to have no more than 3-bars of each flavor.
The big thing I'm working on in the background (and WISH I'd started sooner) is dehydrating veggies.  Right now, I only have two dehydrated veggie servings per week - I want to up that to a serving a day.

Outside of packing boxes, I worked through some of my final details w/JC.  That was actually what made me the most nervous.  The most amazing things in my life would not be possible without the unwavering support of my husband.  It's taken a lot of courage for me to leave the safety of engineering over the past few years - it has also taken a lot of strength on my husband's part to hold to his own goals and dreams while allowing me to disrupt our shared life.

Friends ask if I'm excited fairly often right now, and, yeah, of course I am!  I am also going through waves of apprehension, and a bit of fear, too, though.  This is a huge endeavor to take on and I don't think any of us can wrap our brains around how much my world is going to change.  So, yeah, I'm excited but I am also aware that there are going to be some growing pains.  What I'm fortunate for are years of athletic practice in regards to mental toughness.  In triathlon, we spend 6+ months building both our bodies AND our minds towards a single goal of completing something amazing.  So, yeah, I've made some hiking mantras and I've been visualizing segments and reaching mid-points as well as  Manning Park.  Oh, and I've tried to think of how it'll feel to hit WA (my home state) but not be home yet.

Looking ahead, here is what I think I'll miss (not in a particular order):

  • JC.  Hands down I will miss my husband more than anything else in my life.

I should finish my lil hike on our 6th anniversary.

  • My pups.  It's a comfort to know my husband will keep my pups safe, but my border collie is a one-person dog - I'm her person.  I try not to think of her reaction to me leaving her for the first real time in 7-years.

Melts my heart.
As for the lesser things, I'll miss...

  • My sonicare vibrating toothbrush (I kid you not - I value dental health)
  • My foam pillow (luv me some good sleep)
  • My Patagouchi Green Fleece (I might still have it sent to me)
  • My iMac - I am not looking forward to organizing 4+ months of photos when I get home
  • My own bed, a convenient shower, and my washing machine & dryer
I'll look forward to updating you on how this list really plays out when I get home.  I think my top two will be the exact same... but the lesser items will likely change.

T-9 Days till This Little Engineer is out on the PCT!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

PCT Planning - Permits, Tentative Schedule, and Reconnecting w/Rosies

My life is packed full with photography projects, planning of the PCT, and regaining fitness right now.  99% of the time I am able to keep my head screwed on straight, but I feel the burnout coming.  Knowing that feeling is something that makes me that much more excited for my PCT summer!

Lets start out with the fact that I bumped my start date forward to April 11th.  I've adjusted my plan accordingly and have left in a very generous number of layover and zero days.  I don't think I need all of these days but I am using this as a reminder to take my time to enjoy this journey.

Just a lil peak at how this party is starting.
Created via Craig's PCT Planner
With the predicted record number of hikers as well as the predicted low-snow year, I decided to start my hike on the early side for someone with my pace.  What this means is that I will get out just in front of ~60% of other hikers - hopefully that means that resources won't be depleted when I get to them.  It also means that I'll hit the High Sierras earlier than is recommended for the average year, which could go one of two ways.  The snow could be low and I'll carry on.  Orrrr, the snow could be high... which will pose another decision.  I either chill at Kennedy Meadows, or, I trust my 4-month long mountaineering class skillz, and head out anyway.  I think the smart decision will be apparent when I'm there.  I would like to travel through the High Sierras with (new) friends, but, again, we'll see how things fall out.

One thing I didn't mention that I'm excited about is the fact that I'm going to reconnect with two old Rose friends at the start of this adventure.  Amelia and I are Gamma Lambda Chi O's and she has generously offered to not only house me the night before my trip but to give me a ride to the trailhead.  This is no small thing - Amelia is saving me both stress and time.  She's really helping to start this trip out on the right note.  And for the bonus points, another Rosie, Steve, will be traveling with me for the first leg of my journey.  Again, I couldn't be happier to have support as this journey kicks off.

Outside of that, I've applied for my PCT Thru Hike Permit and secured my CA Fire Permit.

Yay for my PCT permit application!
I'll feel a little more warn-n-fuzzy as soon as the real deal is issued ;)
As soon as I get my enhanced driver's license, I'll apply for my Canada entrance permit as well.  That should be the bulk of the technical deets.  Next up will be the condensed version of how I'm packing all of my food!
Hint:  My boxes will be wrapped with Minion duct tape!

Till next time.
~This Little Engineer

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015 Thru Hike Syndicate Ambassador

It's official!  I've been selected as a Thru Hike Syndicate Ambassador for 2015!  As an ambassador, I'll be sharing all of my PCT adventures with a broad community of outdoor enthusiasts and I will have the chance to put some amazing products through the wringer while I'm at it!

My mantra for the bigger life changes I have been striving for in the past few years has been "Why Wait?" It comes from a moment in 2013 when a friend so easily voiced her desire to section hike the PCT.  Hearing my long-term goal of thru-hiking echoed in her words, I realized that putting off my life goal was arbitrary.  After that, the technical pieces of time, support, and money fell into place, allowing my thru-hike hopes to be realized!

2015 is going to be another great year to remember!  As much as I look forward to living in every single moment I'm out on the trail, I also look forward to working with Vasque FootwearDarn Tough Vermont SocksOsprey PacksLeki USA, and Nemo Equipment!  And, to everyone reading this, I ask you, what goals have you been putting off?  And, really... why wait?

Thru Hike Syndicate on Facebook
Thru Hike Syndicate Tumbler

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Looking Back on 2014

Rather than focusing on the 2014 goals I did or didn't hit, this post is going to be dedicated to celebrating the little things that I am thankful for in the past year.

Career / School
I started art school in the fall of 2013.  Since then, I've managed to give every class 100% of my effort and maintain my Art School 4-point-0.  I'm 5/7 quarters in to finishing my degree and will start my first of two portfolio sessions on Monday.  I've made friends, I am positive when I'm at school, and I have contacts in the faculty that I trust will speak to my work ethic and talent.  Most importantly, I am passionate about entering the field of photography!

Fitness / Triathlon
This past year had a rough learning curve for maintaining a base-level of fitness while being a full-time student again.  I started out on a training plan, but, with my primary focus being to get everything I could out of the gift of an art education, I kept missing workouts.  Every time I couldn't give my fitness plan 100%, I felt terrible - like I was letting my coach and my own body down.  It took me a few months to come to grips with the fact that I needed to adjust my expectations.  2014 became a year I needed to get back to the basics of just enjoying the fitness I could maintain while prioritizing school above all else.  On the personal side, I wore my Betty Ambassador kit with pride in a few running races, a sprint triathlon, a duathlon, and an all-women's bike camp.  I also pulled on my ambassador jacket every time I went out to support friends & family as they took on their own goals!

Adventure / Backpacking
As much as my return to college wasn't conducive to a consistent workout plan, it WAS conducive to having time off every 3-months between quarters - I spent those times off extremely wisely ;) Outside of a hiking on the weekends when I could, I spent my birthday thru-hike/biking The Enchantments, and the summer break was spent out on the West Coast Trail.  I also made a quick trip up Mt. St. Helens in the most beautiful weather I've had on that mountain.  All in all, a great year for fitting in trips where I could and it proved to be an asset for testing out gear I plan on using on the PCT this summer!

Little Things
One of the bigger pushes I made this year was to move to all organic and some homemade beauty products.  Outside of toothpaste (strangely, one of the hardest non-organic product for me to give up), I'm 100% organic.  I'm am making my own face wash, face lotion, and deodorant, too.

One fear I had in leaving Ironman/Engineering was that I'd lose touch with my those communities.  That is one of the big reasons that I have continually been making extra effort to keep in contact with friends that I don't see on a regular basis - I am very happy to have maintained, if not strengthened, so many of my invaluable friendships.

Outside of that, I have been enjoying all o the extra time I've had with my beautiful pups this year.  On afternoon class days, I wake up with them by my side and on so many photo days, I just drag them along.  Aaaand, I've been riding my re-built Nishiki on errands around my neighborhood.  She's a heavy old bike...but she reminds me to feel the wind on my face at a slower pace from time to time.

All in all, 2014 has been a really great year.  I'm thankful for all of the good stuffs it brought and I look forward to rolling into 2015 with all this momentum for reinventing myself!

Till Next Time,
This Little Engineer

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Strive to Appreciate - Teresa Nelson's Story

In wrapping up this most recent quarter of Art School, one project rose to the top as my favorite.  It turns out that I love creating lil videos showcasing some of the amazing people in my life.  I'd like to send out one more big thanks to Teresa Nelson for sharing this story with an open-heart.  She worked on this project with my classmate and me with the same diligence that she spent guiding me through my first few years of Ironman training.

Till next time,
This Little Engineer

Thursday, December 4, 2014

America the Beautiful

Alright, all.  I made my Tri-Themed Gift Lists and had intentions of making a backpacking-themed list to follow...

...but all that feels right is telling everyone that I believe in the National Parks System.  If you're in the USA, one of the absolute best gifts you can give those you love (and yourself) is the chance to get out and see our parks.  As much as I love traveling abroad, there are so many magnificent places in this country I have yet to see.  Sooooo, get an America the Beautiful Parks Pass and make 2015 the year you visit the floor of the Grand Canyon, the year you canyoneer in Zion, the year you see your first hoodoo in Bryce, the year you stood in awe of the big walls of Yosemite, and the year you found the wonder of the Rain Forests in WA...  Really, just get out there and fall back in love with the land that is our country.

Till next time,
This Little Engineer

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Michaela's Ironman Story

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a triathlon teammate & friend, Michaela, on a video project the week before her first Ironman.  The following is a short video that captures that grey area between the months and months of training and actually experiencing your first Ironman.

This Little Engineer