The first thing everyone says when they see me today is – “You’re alive!” or “You survived!”

Yes, I’m very sore but very much alive. 🙂 And my trip was absolutely fantastic.  Reviewing and editing the photos I took, I’m about ready to head out on the trip again. Once my legs and feet recover, that is. 😉

Cascade-> Alaska -> Death = 30 Mile Trip

I wrote down some of my thoughts as I traveled, so I’ll share my journey with you now. Thursday night I worked a late shift, and afterwards I ran around gathering everything I was borrowing, figuring out what I was going to do for food…

First Day: String Lake Trailhead to Cascade Canyon South Fork.

9:30AM, Friday

All packed up. Wish I had a scale so I could weigh this beast! 99% of everything I packed I ate or used, though

After a hectic night of scrounging up things to borrow -packing – restlessly sleeping – woke this morning at 6:40am, ate breakfast, and drove to Moose where I spent an hour in the Visitor Center but in the end walked out with a permit and a bear box. I’m legit! Good feeling. 9:30am now and I am ready to start on the trail. My pack is very heavy, I just hope I don’t tip over…

10:30AM, Friday

1.7 miles so far – I’m crawling like a turtle, and feel very much like one too. I had hoped it would be clearer but the mountains are their pastel watercolor versions. I can smell smoke when I breathe in.

As I walk, I have thought about Bunyan’s Pilgrim and when his heavy pack slid off his back. I thought about the name Pilgrim. I thought about the name Bunyan. I thought of John Muir, and how he only took bread & cheese on his journeys. Sounds pretty light to me.

Thought of rest and dinner waiting at the end. Jiminy Crickets, it’s too early for this…

Needtobreathe’s “Wanted Man” has been running through my head.

Time to continue on.

12:15PM, Friday

One mile took forever – but it was quite a bit of climbing. Now the path has leveled out as it travels in between the mountains but I am still crawling along.

Before I went to the ranger station I was not quite sure where I would camp – now that I know for certain it all feels much more doable. My journey is divided into sections now. I estimate about 5 more miles before I stop for the night.

As I walked this last section, I passed by quiet streams that moozied along parallel to the trail. It would not have been possible for their waters to be any more clear. It is completely cloudy – which I do not mind as a sunny, hot day would be hard to bear. Drizzled for a while but not hard.

As I walked I pondered whether I should stop for lunch at 12:30 or 12. I decided 12:15, and my mind was glad at the agreement I had made between myself. Glad I stopped that argument before it got started. 😉

When I sat and laboriously unpacked & opened my bear box, it looked like such a wealth of food. I like this hunger, too. My stomach tells me please eat, because it needs the calories – I am not eating just ’cause it’s mealtime, like I so often do. Every bite I take is weight off my shoulders, too.

Only animals thus far have been pikas, chipmunks, and a squirrel that ran by with a mushroom in its mouth.

2:26PM, Friday

Pee at least 200 feet from water and trail, they say. What do they expect me to do when there are streams everywhere, and I hike off the trail only to continually come across it as it switchbacks?

2:30PM, Friday

Walked without my backpack for the first time since starting the trip and it was the oddest sensation. My feet lifted too high & my back did not know what to do with itself! My head bobbed forward as I took jerky steps, I was walking like a chicken!

I am in the camping zone now, I’m going to hike another mile or so and then stop for the night.

4PM, Friday

I stopped a ways after the group campsite, which is halfways through the camping area. The more I walk  today, the less I have to walk tomorrow – but I think I will be fine on time.

I’m off the path next to a boulder field. I set up my hammock and a borrowed rainfly. (For you hammock-campers I had a DIY hammock, ENO rainfly, used tree straps & whoopie slings for suspension.) Took me a moment to figure out the rainfly but in the end it was hung. Now that I examine it I can see that I hung it slightly off – like buttoning a jacket only to find you are one buttonhole off. It will work fine though, and I will hang it right tomorrow night.

Once my ‘sleeping quarters’ were set up I took out my Kindle – and no sooner had I found a rock to lean against and begun to read then it began to rain. Lightly at first – then once I was in the hammock, all my things under the rainfly – in earnest, as if it had just been waiting to make sure I was ready.

There are grumbles of thunder in the distance.

The trees overhead and the rainfly are doing their work beautifully.

The thunder is so powerful – it just cracked nearby and then echoed beautifully throughout the mountains.

Perhaps the rain will help to keep bears away.

Maybe once it gets darker I’ll be able to see the lightning.

6:35PM, Friday

I read in my hammock and after a while fell asleep. When I woke at 6pm, I did not want to get out of the hammock – because the air felt cold – but I did. Much to my surprise it looked like the worst of the storm had passed – there was blue sky! No longer against a white background and given contrast by the sunlight, the mountains looked grander.

But it was still chilly. I had moved the end of the rainfly closer to the hammock when it was windy – my location gives me a better view than if I had gone deeper into the forest, but I was also in a small land ‘V’ where the wind could travel through. But I didn’t want to move everything now – tomorrow night I’d be sure to pick a better location.

I got out my camping stove – which I’d bought for $20 at a used hiking goods store in Jackson – a can of ravioli (yes, I know, a can. Not the best weight-wise), a spoon, and a small, blue enamel cup I had bought that morning from the convenience store.

I had asked everyone around Signal if they owned a camping pot, but the only pot offered was too large and heavy. So I bought the blue cup from the C store hoping it was fire safe…

All I have to cook is oatmeal and ravioli – and the latter I could eat cold.

I had never tried the stove out before. Pretty dumb – I know. When I bought it the man told me it worked and had plenty of fuel. Bob the dorm mom had taken it because fuel was not allowed in the dorms. And my late night packing and early morning departure just did not allow for a trial run.

And, okay, I didn’t plan enough before I headed out. 🙂

I set up the stove on a flat rock, read the instructions – pumped the lever 25 times, turned the knob on, used a lighter, pumped the  lever 30 more times… I got flames but they died out. I tried again about 4 more times and got a blister on my thumb from the lighter’s flame.

I gave up for a while and ate half of my ravioli.

Then I tried again and this time the flames stayed! I filled my blue cup with water and put it on the burner. Black quickly crept up the sides of the cup, but it did not look like it was melting, so I left it on…

Then flames appeared beneath the burner, on the stove. Knowing what to do since I had read the instructions a dozen times, I quickly removed the cup and turned the stove off. It kept burning.

I moved everything away and watched the stove for a while, then sat behind a rock (just in case something blew up) and ate the rest of my ravioli while watching the clouds move. Every so often I turned around to check if the fire had gone out.

There wasn’t anything I could do, really. The stove used gas for fuel, so I didn’t want to douse it with water. And I didn’t have anything the beat the flames out with.

So I waited. And ate my ravioli. And the fire went out. When I came back and examined the stove, I found the strap to the gas cap had been burned: non-essential. And the small end to the fuel lever – mmm a bit more essential.

Looks like I’m going to have cold ravioli and no oatmeal… and the extra weight of a blackened stove, two lighter, and a soot-covered blue cup to carry around.