Saturday, July 6, 2019

I need Long Hike Rehab

It is probably a good thing I am almost done with the PCT. Lately while hiking, I've felt sort of...burnt out. Instead of sauntering along enjoying the views, I have thought things like: Okay, it should take me two hours from here to get to the lake. Or: I've hiked ten miles, six to go. I think this is only natural when you've spent the past ten years in a quest to finish a long trail, each time bound to a plane ride or a work schedule which dictates you go fast and far. Yes, I could have hiked less miles, but then it would take me twenty years! And sometimes it isn't possible on the PCT to stop after only a few miles--you would drink up all of your water in some of the dry sections.

I headed up to one of my Wallowa Mountains faves, Ice Lake, the other day. I should back up and say that I have a love/hate relationship with this trail. A omnipresent pack station takes tourists partway several times a day, and the hooves (and hiker feet) have worn the trail down to the bedrock, forcing hikers to carefully negotiate jagged rocks. It gets dusty and annoying at times. But it isn't really the trail. This lake has grown in popularity so that it gets swarmed with backpackers. Most of them are fairly new at backpacking, or so I imagine by the enormous packs they carry.

Of course, swarmed is a relative term. On this Sunday I saw twenty people, which to me is a crowd. I passed most of them until I came up behind a woman who was clearly trying to stay ahead of me. Which is fine, whatever, but she was cutting switchbacks to do it. Also, she seemed to have forgotten her pants. She was wearing only thong underwear. Is this a thing?

The lake was still mostly frozen and beautiful as always. I'm always glad I come here even if a guy with a drone plopped beside me and proceeded to fly it over the lake. Not only is this illegal, but you'd think you might ask if it was OK to disturb someone else right next to you. (Yes, I am in fact a Judgy McJudgerson).

I didn't stay long. I was still in long hike mode, clipping away at the miles. On the scale of people who hike to camp or camp to hike, I typically fall in between the two. I like to hike all day, but I also like finding a nice campsite by a lake and swimming, reading, or exploring around there. I want to get back to that for a while. I know just the way to rehab. Go out for a hike of an unknown distance with only a map. Travel cross country so that it takes longer. Climb over trees, scramble up slopes.

So I did. But that's a story for another day.

Are you a hike so you can camp person or a camp so I can hike person?

18 comments:

  1. It's still early. Just think you have all summer now to slow down the pace and explore with just a map.
    Right now M and I are just hike people. We've never experienced camping while hiking so it's hard to say where we would fall on the scale. We're adventurous so maybe somewhere in between as well. On a side note, we are not adventurous enough to hike in thong underwear.

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    1. Haha me either plus it does not sound comfortable. To each their own I guess? I think you would like setting up a base camp somewhere and day hiking from there.

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  2. I'd need visual therapy after hiking behind bare cheeks, well I might slow my pace if the hiker was an extremely fit male with sculpted cheeks. Oh my was it hike naked day?

    I get the balance of miles to smiles. Since I hike primarily solo I prefer stopping along my day to swim, admire views, watch nature, etc vs hand out in camp unless it has excellent views with swimming, scrambling, exploring options.

    I'm with you on shared places. Where once I had solitude on a favorite trail you can now expect to see 50+. I have a love hate relationship with social media for this reason. I wouldn't know about so many places that I'm now visiting without these sources. With my blog I'm contributing to the problem. But without visitation we won't have voters protecting these places, or trail maintenance volunteers, or . . It's a balance.

    Wishing you miles of smiles. Welcome to the lake of cherry pickers!

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    1. *hang not hand *land not lake

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    2. I know there has been an explosion of use here after some magazine articles, and I like knowing people appreciate it. But where are they all pooping? It always comes back to that, Haha, once a rec manager always a rec manager. I need to start hanging out more on the journey. That sounds like a good option.

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    3. I belong to a PNW fb group and I've been seeing more and more photos of your paradise. BTW found a good poo bag option. These are much better than other two products I've tried (Whitney and Canyonlands). I ordered a case for traveling now as I'm finding more places that expect you to be self-contained. These are the Go Anywhere Toilet Kit by Cleanwaste. They are available individually at places like Sportsman Warehouse. I'm glad there are options available and that self-contained is being promoted especially in desert, above tree line and in high use areas.

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    4. Which fb group? The concerning thing is that so many people coming here go to the same 3 spots. On the other hand maybe that's good to have sacrificed areas so the others don't get ruined. I think a quota or a poop bag requirement is coming here. Glad I got to experience it less crowded.

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  3. I love Jaunting Jan's comment, "Wishing you miles of smiles."
    I second this comment!

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    1. More smiles than miles, my new philosophy. To be completely honest, about 10% of the pct has not been fun
      But that's not bad in the scheme of things.

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  4. I think that is brilliant. We were hiking part of the Appalachian Trail, here on PEI, last week. The mosquitos were carrying us away. We were stumbling over the tree roots and then there were the muddy patches. My husband was complaining. I commented that so much of the PCT trail etc would just be like that! Just amazing that you do it, day after day.

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    1. I think the AT is harder in terms of grade. I've been pretty fortunate in the mosquito department also. But there are definitely days that aren't as stellar as others.

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  5. Hiking in thong underwear without pants? Not 'a thing' that I have heard of. She must not he sweating, those things will rub you raw...says the voice of experience wearing a pair on a fire....

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  6. The 'crowds' sadden me, we had such a good thing...

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    1. I hope it will stabilize. But things are definitely changing.

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  7. I'm preparing for an overnight bikepacking trip this weekend, gathering up things stashed in all sorts of spots, repairing my Neo Air, making a note to go to REI for fuel. This process has reminded me why I don't camp all that much ... it's so easy to just ride bikes or hike all day and not have to carry or deal with all of this stuff. Once I'm out there, I usually love it, but the prep is a big mental barrier for me. So I'm definitely not a "ride to camp" person.

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    1. I do it so much that it is a really quick backup. I.hate coming home at night, is that weird? Maybe because I spend all day most weeks working at my house. I also love waking up in the wilderness. But car camping...that is a huge endeavor, I dont like it all that much for that reason.

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  8. Hiking in thong underwear??? Super weird! Since I'm mainly a day hiker I don't know where that places me in the hike-camp question. But sometimes I choose my car camping spots based on the hikes nearby.

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    1. You do backpack though! Like I mentioned above, I have a huge barrier, mostly self imposed, about car camping. I throw way too much in, the car quickly becomes a disorganized mess, and it takes forever to put stuff away. Guess i need to go lighter.

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