Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Part of the Problem


It seems really strange to be planning something that is six months out, but we are deep in it, combing over maps, discussing bear canisters, and fretting over logistics. I usually like to fly-by-night it, only deciding what I want to do the day before. Not this time.

Here, we have dates and alternate dates, trailheads and alternate ones, lotteries and faxing permit requests 24 weeks in advance, only between certain hours. Ugh! Of course, there are reasons for this, and we are the reason. Too. Many. People. I am officially Part of the Problem.

I have to laugh thinking of how jealously we guarded our wilderness solitude in Alaska. If another boat steamed into the bay we were in, we fumed and griped. Seeing someone else on the beautiful and mysterious Red Bluffs, we jumped a foot in amazement and declared the place overrun. Even here, except in the height of summer on the most popular trails, I can be completely alone. I did a 40 mile backpack trip this fall and in all that time only saw one person. Not going to happen on the JMT!

I don't care though. Ever since I set up my Tadpole tent (which I still need a front pole for--anyone got one out there?) at Rae Lakes and saw the thru-hikers pass by, I wanted to hike the whole thing. Anchored down by my summer seasonal job of collecting native plant seeds and willing them to grow in arid campgrounds, I could only manage three days out on the trails that ran along the Sierra's spine. I always had to turn back, wondering what I was missing. If seeing people and camping near them is the price I have to pay, I will do it. I know where to go to get solitude when I get back.

So it begins. The delicious purchasing of gear, the planning of meals, the poring over maps. Really, is there anything better than planning a trip, especially one you have dreamed of for twenty years? Bucket list, people.

So we wait until 5 pm on February 14th when other desperate souls will be lunging for the fax machine. Wish me luck!
Riddle me this, Batman...What is your dream trip? What holds you back? Or have you already done it? Was it as good as you imagined?


  1. Dream visit every light house in Washington. OK, I know I can't do it all in one trip, but it is on my bucket list.

    I cant wait to hear all about your trip and see all the wonderful pics that you are sure to bring home.

  2. You're doing one of my dream trips! :) I'm so jealous. I'd actually like to do the whole PCT someday, but will probably have to settle for doing it in sections, as I don't think the wife and kids would like me disappearing for that long.

    More locally, the Colorado Trail. I've hiked a few sections of it already, and plan on mountain biking the whole thing this summer, but I'd eventually like to hike the whole thing straight through, too.

  3. My dream trip is in the French Alps. I don't have any specifics about where I want to go, but Chamonix has to be on the list.

    I hear you about the solitude of Alaska. I went for a run today and got stopped by a park ranger whom (erroneously) told me I wasn't allowed to run on the road that cars take in and out of the park. Grrr stupid rules.

  4. So great Mary! Good luck on the 14th! This is really the beginning of any journey... the planning, the maps, the gear, my gosh, that's wonderful as well.
    M and I have a special journey in the works as well :) We're not to the point of identifying it just yet, still a little more logistics to work out!

  5. I am really excited for you! My dream "trip" is to get hired on as a project assistant or whatever they call the unskilled lackies at the research station in Antarctica (for a few months that is). Lame, yes.

  6. Dream trip: To ride a snow bike across Antarctica from the coast to the pole and visit Danni at the Amundsen-Scott Research Station. Ha ha.

    More realistically, the PCT is definitely on the bucket list now, as is the Continental Divide Trail. I also hope to travel the entire Iditarod Trail at some point in my lifetime. Gotta dream big. I'm with Fonk in my hopes to ride/hike-a-bike the mountain bike version of the Colorado Trail this summer, perhaps mid- to late-July if I can make it happen.

    When are you hiking the JMT? I didn't realize there was so much permitting involved. But I agree planning is part of the fun.

  7. Love all these dream trips. What is the Colorado trail? Don't know about that one. Danni, that is so not lame. I want to do that too. We can hand out sour patch kids as Jill comes riding by.
    JMT hopefully August.

  8. The Colorado Trail is 500 miles of singletrack awesomeness from Denver to Durango. It crosses six wilderness areas (though I'll have to bypass those on the MTB, which is why I'll need to pass back through on foot at a later date) and eight mountain ranges, and tops out over 13,000 feet. Traveling the whole route from Denver to Durango, one climbs nearly 90,000 feet in elevation. The sections I've done so far have been amazing, and I haven't even hit the really good stuff yet. Learn more about it here:


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