Sunday, June 17, 2018

Well that was fun.


Today brought more memories of hiking the Appalachian Trail. This time it was the time Melkie decided to chase a moose and I thought the moose had turned around and was charging right at me. And the time he decided to chase the bull. And the many deer he sent on their way long before I had the chance to take a picture. Can you tell where I'm going with this story? Take those experiences and magnify the adrenaline by at least ten!

We were walking the dogs just outside of Duncan along an abandoned rail trail. And yes we knew there were bears in the area we had seen bears and a cougar here on previous occasions and today we saw proof in the form of fresh bear scat. We had gone as far as we wanted to go for the day and had just turned to head back when I spotted something black ahead of me. It took me a minute to realize that it wasn't Cooper and it was a lot bigger than Cooper. Of course by that time Melkie was already onto him. Racing down the tracks towards the sleepy bear not listening our pleas  to come back. Within seconds the bear started to run which only made Melkie race faster. The bear headed to the woods and although I was upset, i was pretty sure my dog would come back unharmed. Until a moment later when a second even larger bear stepped out on the tracks in between us and where Melkie disappeared. Oh! Shit! We were hanging on to Cooper who was barking loudly and I thought for sure this new big bear would attack Melkie if he reappeared especially being stuck in between two dogs. Michael decided foolishly to go towards the bear which only made Cooper freak out more and within seconds he had wriggled free of his loose collar. Fortunately Michael was able grab him and about this time Melkie reappeared and somehow got by the big bear without harm. As Melkie was running back towards us the big bear decided to come our way. The bear wasn't up on its  hind legs and wasn't giving the tell tale warning sounds but was definitely giving us the message to get out of there and get out of there fast. We were careful not to run but continued to move away from the area until the bear turned around and headed back. Unfortunately we also had to turn around and go back that same way as that was the way back to the bus. This time the dogs were on leashes.

This whole chasing wild animals thing just makes me feel a little better about leaving Melkie behind and I'm adding it as one more reason not to bring him on this next advent8ure.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Back in Beautiful BC



I flew back to Ontario for three weeks to visit family and friends and congratulate my daughter on graduating as an RN. The days flew by and it feels like I was only there for a few minutes. I did manage to keep up my training miles by walking all over Ottawa and there were several days that ended up being over 34km (20 miles). The only problem is that Ottawa is flat so imagine my surprise when I got back to be out of breath on a short 15km  hike up a mountain. I'm sure I will be ready by the time.i do finally get to start the trail though. Michael has been hiking with me daily and we have hiked most of the local mountains along with a huge portion of the Trans Canada Trail (they are calling it The Great Trail now) in this area.

In the meantime, the work Michael had been promised for the season hasn't panned out and we aren't quite sure what to do. Originally when I first made plans to hike the PCT we had planned for Michael to follow along with the bus and be my support. We got sidetracked with the promise of a high paying job and quickly changed our plans. Now I'm wishing we had stuck to our original plan as there is no high paying job and we just don't have enough saved up for him to follow along and support me. I'm not panicking or anything. I know that things have a way of working themselves out but I am all of a sudden trying to come up with ways to shave the expenses on this hike. And I don't like the idea of Michael having to cross the country on his own to get back to Ontario. Funny eh! I will be out in the wilderness with bears and mountain lions yet am more concerned about Michael driving over the mountains and across the prairies on his own.

Awhile back a trail angel offered to help me get to Harts Pass. Harts Pass is the closest pass to the border (on the American side) that is accessible by road. At the time I thought Michael would be taking me with the bus  but the more we thought about it the more nervous we were about crossing the border with a bus that looks like a hippie bus. I recently sent this trail angel a message asking for some transportation advise and he offered.to meet me at the ferry at Anacortes, make the necessary stops I need to make and take me to the trail! How awesome is that! We don't have to worry about our bus being torn apart at the border. We won't have to pay the extra ferry fees for the bus both ways! And I won't have to figure out transportation or where to stop on roads that I'm not familiar with! 

Friday, May 4, 2018

It’s been awhile!



It finally stopped raining and spring in BC is absolutely gorgeous! I didn’t realize how much I was just getting used to the beautiful scenery around me and not really appreciating the beauty until I spent a few weeks near Victoria in another gorgeous spot. While Michael worked on a privately owned island just off the coast I had full use of an oceanfront home right next to a big park full of hiking trails! This is another one of those way too good to be true experiences we have had since giving up stable jobs and taking the chance to do what we love. I mean who would have thought this could happen! The anonymous multimillionaire (we don’t even know who owns it as it was the caretakers for the properties that gave us the keys and they were very tight lipped) allowed us to stay without ever even meeting us! Wow! 
So I mentioned the nice place but that isn’t the good part, the good part was the trails! I enjoyed every minute of it and saw deer, bunnies and eagles every single day! We saw lots of seals and a sea otter hobbled away from me as I tried to take a picture. I easily logged 20km or more of training hikes daily! It felt so good to be on real trails every single day! While in Maple Bay I often just hike on old logging roads or a quiet lane that follows the coast (also beautiful) but it’s not the same as a real trail. I was a little sad to leave such an amazing spot when the job was finished but was amazed at the changes as we drove back towards Maple Bay. The flowers are all out, the leaves on the trees have grown in. And the contrast in the colour of leaves here is stunning! The Japanese Maple leaves are a deep red/burnt orange colour (a colour you would imagine belongs in autumn yet the leaves are so vibrant and alive) and contrast so nicely with the many shades of green and the pinks from the rhododendron, and the arbutus and the whites, pinks and purples from the peonies. There are beautiful giant red flowers here that I have never seen before in my life and have no idea what they are. I will find out though. So it turns out that they are also rhododendrons, I have just never seen red ones before.
Since I have been back it has been harder for me to get my hiking miles in but am getting into a good routine of taking turns walking the dogs through the nicest of places along the Bay. Of course just as I get back into a routine, I will leave again. This time on my own for a trip back to Ontario to visit the kids. Micheal went back to visit at Christmas and now it’s my turn! When I return from Ontario I will only be back for a month before I leave again for the PCT. With that in mind I am clearing out my few belongings and packing them away to give Michael a little more room while I’m gone. 
I can’t believe how few personal items I have now. My hiking gear is a large percentage of it but I am also eliminating the food I know he won’t eat while I am away as well and even the food items take up more space than my clothing items. I hadn’t realized how much I have continued to downsize since living on the bus. I guess that’s a good thing. It makes me
Wonder what the next phase of my life will be like...

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Tick Update



I thought it might be a good idea to give you an update to my tick incident from a few weeks ago. The doxycycline is kicking my ass! I feel nauseous or sick every morning and  have way less energy than normal. I actually wondered if I got Lyme disease. Nope, it turns out it’s all a side effect of the medication. 
Although the bruises healed, the scab from where I gouged out the tick looked a bit infected and it made me wonder if I had got all of the tick out. I ended up pulling the scab off (delaying the healing) and making sure there were no tick bits left. The good news was there was no infection hiding underneath but the new scab rubs against my clothes irritating the area and will take even longer to heal. I’m not worried about getting Lyme though so I guess that’s good and am looking forward to the end of the pills. 
This whole scenario is a good reminder to always check for ticks, to always treat the clothes you wear out in tick country with permethrin and to visit your doctor before you leave for a long hike and get and fill prescriptions for things like staph infections, Lyme and other tick borne illnesses and also medication for giardia. In my case I’m also adding an epipen and inhaler to my pack because of a few unknown allergies. I found this video the other day and thought you might like it.




Wednesday, March 14, 2018

An Inspirational Woman



I recently wrote about how I have decided to tell the stories of the amazing people I meet along the PCT who help support hikers. I quickly realized that I needed to start by introducing you to someone who has done and is continuing to help thousands of women from all over the world with all things hiking related. I first met her online in 2012 when we were both planning our AT hikes. I was fortunate to meet her in person briefly on the trail near the famous McAfee Knob section but most of my relationship with her has been completely online. When we were newbies and asking a lot of questions online back in 2012 she noticed a lot of mean, cruel or sarcastic comments directed at newbies and especially to female newbies. When she got back from her hike in 2013 she decided to do something about it by creating a safe space online for women. A place where women could learn about hiking the Appalachian Trail and ask any question they wanted without being belittled or made fun of or worse. 
Today this is a group 14,141 women strong who are the most supportive and encouraging women you will ever encounter online. On top of that she has gone on to create many more safe places online for people to learn and encourage one another. Her All Women All Trails group currently has 23,164 women and again is one of the few supportive and encouraging places online where one can learn about hiking. Not just learn about hiking but share their experiences, discuss how we handle certain hiking related situations and for me it is a place I where I feel instantly understood and can easily relate to most of the conversations happening on the forums at any given time.
These groups gobble up a lot of her time. She often spends 70 hours or more per week monitoring comments keeping things supportive and helpful and providing useful information. At any given time there are a hundred new people waiting for approval to join the group and this all takes time. It has become a full time job for her with one major exception- she isn’t making any money doing any of this! She has literally helped thousands of women learn about hiking, learn about gear, learn about leave no trace and has done it in a way where the women feel completely safe asking even the most private and personal questions online. This woman should be rewarded! But because her goal is to make an online space safe she has excluded the marketing and advertising that could potentially provide her with an income. 
She has recently started her own Patreon account and I am posting her link here in hopes that some of you will support her endeavours. Bunny is an idea person with plans to help even more women get out on trail but doesn’t have the funds to proceed. Your support through Patreon will allow her to provide even more support through podcasts, call ins, and more opportunities for  hikers to share their own experiences and advice. 
Please consider helping her help others. This is her Patreon link: https://www.patreon.com/WEHike

For those of you not familiar with Patreon, Patreon is a membership platform that makes it easier for creators to get paid.  It’s a way for you to support the content and community you love on a monthly basis. Members or patrons gain a direct connection with the person who they are supporting and have the opportunity to engage in a supportive way. As a supporter you also receive rewards set by the person you support.

Monday, March 12, 2018

An Unfortunate Incident


A really gross thing happened the other day. When I was changing into clothes more suitable for a hike up a mountain I found a tick. It was almost completely embedded in me. I immediately dug it out trying to be careful (and failing) to get it out in one piece. I was in panic mode and gouged around the tick. I didn’t even remember to save it to get tested. Next (again because I was  still panicking I took some hydrogen peroxide and pretty much killed the skin around the open wound. Hours later I had a hole with a giant bruise encircling it. 
Before all this happened I had planned on hiking up a mountain but the thought of going straight back into tick territory didn’t appeal so I ended up walking into Duncan instead. I calmed down and started to think rationally on my long walk. I realized that I had only really paid attention to the potential tick problem on long hikes and had been totally ignoring the exact same problem on a day hike. I needed to start treating my clothes with permethrin now! Not right before I leave for the PCT. I need to be way more vigilant in checking for ticks every single day. Because our dogs are always within a few feet of us and are on our bed daily I’m going to treat our bedding as well. I know this sounds extreme but we are only living in 80sqft and the dogs are always in our space. I think it’s the safest thing to do. 
So that’s the plan, unfortunately permethrin is a controlled substance in Canada. I can’t easily buy it and the people who sell this stuff look at me strange when I tell them what I intend on using it for. I’m pretty used to people thinking I’m crazy though and not afraid to explain why it’s the safest way to protect myself from Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other serious tick borne illnesses. After a few stops and a few phone calls I ended up buying a foam product intended for horses having the exact percentage  of permethrin in it that I needed without having to give my name and address. My other option was to buy a aerosol can of pesticide that also had the right amount of permethrin but I would have had to give them my personal information to keep on file because it’s a controlled substance. Strange how one can was considered a controlled substance with the exact same percentage of permethrin as the other can that wasn’t. 
Back on the bus I realized that using a foam product to treat my clothing was going to be a nuisance and decided to treat the dogs with it first and hopefully eliminate any possibility of ticks on the bus. It seems to have worked great and now I just have to decide how to best use the foam on my clothing and maybe dedicate trail clothes so that I don’t have to treat all of my clothes. 
Anyway, I have been squirting the wound with saline solution and taking the antibiotics that my doctor had prescribed in case of a tick problem so there isn’t much else I can do but be vigilant from here on out and warn others to check for ticks.