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:

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.

The new bus layout. Finally!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

It’s been 5 years!

5 years ago today I began a journey that has led me to this place. As I was getting another training hike in trying to get my body ready for the PCT I was thinking about all of the absolutely amazing people I have met because of hiking. Obviously many individual trail angels immediately came to mind because they were so selflessly willing to give whatever they could to help me hike the AT. Most times it was snacks or a meal and a drink but it was also rides into town and back to the trail, rides around town helping me get to the stores I needed to resupply. Sometimes it was a total stranger willing to open up their home to me and let be a part of their family for the night. Once it was a surprise dinner awaiting at the top of a mountain where no one would ever expect such a treat. Another time it was the gift of an iPhone (the exact iPhone I had been used to) when my iPhone died. Yet another time it was a section hiker I had met way back in Virginia who graciously let us (a group of four smelly thruhikers and my dog) stay with them for four days during an awful heatwave. Once it was a hotel manager offering to let us stay a second night for free to recover a bit. That same hotel manager offered us his vehicle to go into town and when we refused his offer he insisted on carting us around to wherever we wanted to go. And then there is Miss Janet who for decades has travelled up and down between Georgia and Maine helping hikers however she can. And what about some of the hostel owners who were obviously running their hostel at a loss just so they could help hikers even though knew they wouldn’t be able to afford to keep it up. One hostel owner shared his personal story of how the trail changed his life and how no matter what he will continue to help hikers even though it was clear he may have been better off helping himself. I have been so fortunate to not only meet these people but to benefit from their generosity and love of the trail. It has changed the way I think about other people and it definitely makes me want to strive to be a better person and help as many people around me as I can. While I hiked I had a limited amount of funds and sadly could only leave extra money for a few people along the way. I wished it was different but I had to make it to Maine with what I had. Since then I have tried to be as generous as I could when I hear of someone who is in need. I have almost always picked up every hitchhiker I see and we have often spent time talking with (making a coffee for or fixing broken items for) the ones who most of society tries not to see and pretends aren’t there. It’s my way of giving back to the community around me but when I think of the trail it still isn’t enough. I don’t have the finances to help the people I would love to help. As I save up for this PCT hike I am sure that I will again meet many people that I wish I could do something more for but often have to just accept their generosity and leave a token tip. I thought of setting up a Patreon account and whenever anyone offers to help me on my hike direct them to that account so that I can at least send their money to where it would be most helpful. I don’t really want to manage something like that while I am hiking but it is something I’m considering. In the meantime I have decided that the least I can do is write blogs about these wonderful people I meet and tell their stories. It’s too late for me to go back and do that for my AT hike but I can do it for the people I see giving their heart and soul to the trail community but struggling to get by. I will keep their contact information and if any of my readers want to help me by helping them I will happily forward addresses or funds or whatever is most suitable depending on each situation. 

Hiking the Appalachian Trail five years ago has had a huge, lasting impact on my life, I can only imagine what the Pacific Crest Trail will do to me. Those who have followed along, given encouragement as I have drastically changed my lifestyle and been there for support when we have needed it thank you so much.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Another Sponsor!

I am excited to announce a new sponsor. Choetech specializes in charging devices and is sending me a 19 watt solar panel! A few months ago I started researching my options for charging along the trail and came across a few videos comparing several portable solar chargers and the 19 watt solar panel from Choetech came out on top. I sent them a message explaining what I was about to do and inquiring about a sponsorship. Now I know that some people don’t recommend carrying a solar panel and suggest carrying a larger power bank. That is exactly what I did on the Appalachian trail and a power bank worked great. However, I plan on being out on the trail longer with less and shorter town stops this time around and really like the idea of being off the grid. We use solar panels on our bus and I love the freedom that it gives me not having to plug in anywhere. I am hoping that using a solar panel rather than a larger power bank will allow me to get in and out of town on the same day not needing to plug in for hours at a time to recharge. Also I am planning on creating videos as I go and that will quickly deplete the battery on my phone. I hope to be able to completely recharge my phone daily. I will see a lot more direct sunshine on the PCT than I did on the AT so this is the perfect opportunity for me to switch to a solar charging system. I plan on lashing the panel to my pack so that I can collect some sunshine as I hike and when I stop for breaks I will make sure the panel is in the ideal position to collect the maximum amount of sun power. This is the panel I will be using I will take actual pictures as soon as it arrives. Thank you Choetech!