C’est La Vie

A week after completing the PCT I was stretching my arms above my head and promptly gave myself an incarcerated umbilical hernia. It needed a quick little surgery. My post-PCT plan of a month of yoga to heal my body from hiking didn’t quite happen. The surgery went well. Followed by 6 months of fighting with the insurance company to pay for it. C’est la vie.


Baxter and I both had our jobs available for us when we got home. I went to work and promptly had a panic attack. 5 months of hiking had softened me a bit and I felt I could no longer work full time with the chronically mentally ill. With the support of Ben (who included me on his insurance plan) and my parents (who was letting us stay with them rent-free) I decided to only work per diem and pursue other career options. I started a wellness coach training program. I completed the course work and am now working towards certification. I have two part time recreation therapy jobs and it’s all going fairly well.

And then this happened the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.


One of the most effective forms of birth control a girl could have FAILED. I don’t want wide spread panic to ensue. Most IUDs are hanging out in the right place creating a hostile environment so that a little fertilized egg won’t implant in the uterus. Mine was not. It was not where it was suppose to be, thus creating a lovely, inviting environment for a fertilized egg to hang out…and grow.  Here’s our first ultrasound at 6 weeks. There was a heart beat and everything. It was in the perfect spot. And it hasn’t stopped growing. This was a Friday.


This was the next morning…in a haze of absolute grief and sadness I blogged about this.


Later that afternoon a friend messaged me about a house that went up for sale across the street and on Sunday morning, we looked at and put on offer on it. We moved in on January 3, 2014.


All the while planning for this…March 22, 2014.




YES! We did it!

C’est La Vie.

And so what? And so everything. I think about how we hiked the PCT last summer ALL THE TIME. It pops up in small ways like a golden thread in this amazing quilt of our lives. A year ago today we were hiking one of the many passes of the high Sierras and fighting off mosquitos. The patience. The endurance. The beauty. All of these things I practiced on the PCT helps me today.

Some of it is really hard. It’s interesting being in the best shape of your life and then less than a year later…pregnant. My body has changed so much from pre-PCT to PCT to post-PCT to, um, now. I look at my body and am reminded of what an amazing machine it is. It comes and operates in different shapes and sizes that correlates to what it’s suppose to be doing. Last summer, my body transformed into this lean, mean hiking machine. And now it has grown into this voluptuous, curvy baby making machine. Our bodies are so amazing at adapting.

I know this post is getting a bit on the long side but there is something else I want to share. While hiking on the trail, Baxter and I had so much time to talk about, brainstorm, think, dream, visualize what we wanted, hoped, dreamed for in our life. And we talked and talked and talked about it. Not to get all “The Secret” on ya’ll, but time and time again I have found that when I put an intention out into the universe, it sure as hell listens. And listens hard. I remember hiking through the San Jacintos and we were talking about what neighborhood we wanted to live in, our budget, and the kind of house we wanted. Baxter wanted more of a fixer-upper. I wanted something a little more livable since I knew we would want to get pregnant soon and I didn’t want to be taking care of infant in a construction zone. I said, “Babe, ideally, I’d like to live on Lake St between 900 S and 1300 S. We need 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. We need a decent yard for Luna and a space for your studio.” And BAM!!! Our house is exactly on that street. It’s really only 2 bedroom and one bath with an attic that the previous owners started to kinda finish, where we’ll be able to add another bedroom and and bathroom (fixer-upper). The space is totally livable, although Baxter gave the kitchen a little face-lift as soon as we moved in (fixer-upper). And we (and by “we”, I mean Baxter) tore down two nearly 100 year-old garages where we will build a new garage and studio for Baxter hopefully by fall.

I told the universe that we wanted to get pregnant in April 2014. It responded with, “You’ll get pregnant when I want you to.” Which was last November. Side note: Fall of 2012, I told Baxter, “No babies until we hike the PCT.” Maybe that was the message the universe heard.

And I have that creepy feeling that I don’t want to push my luck, but I keep whispering little things out to the universe and it keeps listening. In its own time line, of course.

I miss the trail, but this post-trail life has been so busy and full of new adventures and surprises that I keep my eyes open for that little golden thread so I remember all of the lessons I learned on the trail,  practice them in this urban life, and always remember to get back out into the mountains or the desert because c’est la vie. And how lucky we are.

Oh, hi, life!

I’ve been wanting to post stories and thoughts and reflections about the PCT and our trip ever since we got home. However, it has really felt like life has been happening so much in the past two and half months it’s hard to think about the hike, or even remember it very well. I’m so caught up in the here and now and living in this present moment. And this particular present moment, right now, is amazingly painful.

I woke up this morning and noticed my cat Carlyna was laying outside of her litter box. Her back legs weren’t moving. Her nether regions caked with urine soaked cat litter and feces. Her hind legs cold. And she looked up at me with her clear blue eyes and meowed. I sat beside her and started petting her. She purred. It was a labored purr. She looked at me like, “Yeah, um, having a hard time walking. I’m kinda smelly right now. But if you want to rub my belly, that’d be great.” So I did. And she relaxed a little and purred louder. I scooped her up in a towel and took her the vet. Thrombosis. Blood clot. Cutting off circulation to her hind legs. Very poor prognosis. I laid her on my chest and the Vet did the kindest thing in the world. And then she whispered in my ear, “You can let go now, you can cry. She has passed.” And she kissed me on the forehead and left the room. Ben and I stroked her a little longer. And by a little longer, I literally  mean like less than a minute. I blurted out, “Okay. This is creepy. There’s a dead cat on my chest.” I set her down on the table and we left. 

It doesn’t seem odd to me. Or strange. The way I feel about death. Once she was gone, she was gone. It did feel odd and strange to have this lifeless furry animal on me. That was no longer my sweet, blue-eyed cat. It was just a bag of bones. And that was that.

This is a video Ben took last week. Carlyna loved being on my chest and lovin’ on my face the way she does.

All things considered

When we were in Skykomish, Bellamy from an NPR affiliate in Seattle came and interviewed everyone hanging out at the Dinsmore’s Hiker Haven. It was so cool. Baxter and I didn’t make the cut, but she said she’s gonna try to put another piece together that’s more about trail culture. It was really fun being interviewed. We spent the next few days on trail talking about what “we should have said” into the microphone. Muppet commented that she thought she knew how people would answer questions, but we all answered in a way she didn’t expect. I had the same experience too. It’s an interesting experience being interviewed for the radio, even if everything we contributed ended up on the cutting room floor.

Check out the story:


Heading home


Is this too much carry-on luggage? I hate checking bags, but we might be pushing it with this lot. Oh well.

Michigan was amazing (minus the incarcerated umbilical hernia I got, but more on that later). It was so nice to spend family time with the Gawles and Wilsons. I am so lucky and excited to be part of Baxter’s family.

And I am really excited to be heading home to Utah. Five and a half months is a long time to be away from home. I can’t wait to hike those Wasatch mountains. And squeeze the heck out of my friends and family. Get ready, we’ll be home soon.


Stay Tuned…

So we made it. It only took us 5 months, 1 day and 8 hours. We have spent the past few days on busses and airplanes traveling to Vancouver, then Seattle, and at last to Michigan where we will proceed to rest our feet for an entire week before returning to Utah.

Though our epic hike may be over, this is not the end of our journal. We barely had time to write on the trail, and we now look forward to sitting down and composing more detailed accounts of our journey. Please stay tuned for more stories as we can now take the time to reflect. We would like to thank you for your support and encouragement and we look forward to re-uniting with many of you in the coming weeks.

-Baxter and Wildcat.

Toward The End

We have been walking for 144 days now. I met a hiker yesterday who happened to be one of the six people leaving the border of Mexico the same morning we did. April 18th. Her name was Elizabeth when we talked to her during the 1 hour ride from San Diego to Campo, California. Now she is known by Cinco as she wakes at five o’clock every morning. I barely recognized her, and she told me I looked like an entirely different person myself. In addition to our physical changes, we both agreed that car ride seemed to be years ago. We have grown so much in many ways.

We now discuss crossing the border of Canada in terms which day of the week we will get there. It is no longer next month, but next Thursday. This is truly the final lap, and we frequently discuss this with mixed emotions. We know we will miss the trail, though we are thrilled to go home once again. There is a surprising amount of overlap between the things I will miss and the things I am looking forward to. Many of the comforts we miss back at home that were created to simplify our lives are the same things that make them more complicated.

Most of all, I will miss being a part of something, the PCT Class of 2013. I will miss seeing the friends we met along the trail. At least once a week I walk into a small town I have never been to, and incidentally, I know half the people I see there. Some I have not seen in a while, some I woke up with a few hours ago before we all made our way into town. The trail is our home, and at times we are more comfortable when we are on it.

I will miss being able to urinate whenever and wherever I please, especially at night while I stare at the stars. I will miss the quietness of the wilderness when I stop and sit down. I will miss the simplicity of my duties on trail. Hike, find water, eat food, rest. I will miss watching the sun move across the sky, slowly throughout the day. Watching it rise, and watching it set. I will miss my beard. My beard has become a physical badge that took 5 months to earn.

I’m looking forward to eating food that does not come out of a wrapper or a ziplock bag. I’m looking forward to defecating in a hole that I did not have to dig myself. I’m looking forward to pushing a magical lever that whisks this waste away rather than having to bury it with a stick. I’m looking forward to sleeping on a mattress that I did not have to inflate before getting on it, or deflate after getting off of it. I’m looking forward to having a permanent shelter, where the climate can be controlled with a button.

I imagine there will be a phase of culture shock. Recently, after only 24 hours in a town to resupply our food I begin to crave the trail once again. Even in these small towns there is too much going on at once, too many decisions that have to be made. Our lives will soon become less physically demanding, though perhaps more emotionally taxing. For the past five months, we have all found our full physical potential. I will miss falling asleep knowing that I have used an amazing amount of energy since I woke up. I will miss being able to eat anything and everything I see to fuel this energy.

We want to use the energy we have out here to catapult us into the next phase of our lives. Whatever that may entail. Many among us will plan their next long trail immediately. Wildcat and I have a lot of ideas about where we will be this winter, but all I can focus on is getting to the border of Canada. This goal is now less than 200 miles away. We estimate less than ten days before we can finally retire our shoes. No matter how much we miss life back at home, I imagine it will be a very short time before we begin to miss the trail once again.