My Journey

If you’ve followed our 52 hikes, you know that this isn’t just about hiking. The hiking and the writing were also about me figuring out my life. I needed something to keep me going after a significant heart break and you know what, it did.

So, here are some of my thoughts on the journey. The next post will be hike 53. I won’t bore you.

1. I have lost 67 pounds since last summer. I’m not done yet.

2. I have lost 43 inches total off of my body since last summer. I’m not done yet.

3. I have gone down 5 clothing sizes since last summer.

4. I have re-discovered how absolutely amazing my two best friends are. Rich Simons and Becky Curry are the kindest most sincere people I have ever had the privilege to meet.  Without them I wouldn’t have survived. I mean that.

5. I realize that my ex was not the right person for me, and I am hopeful that someday I will find the right person.

6. I want to have children someday. That was off the table before. Now it’s not. That’s exciting.

7. Remington and I are the best of friends. Remington hugs can cure the worst of bad moods.

8. I have the best family on this planet of earth. Don’t even try to deny it.

9. My body is capable of incredible things. I’m going to continue to push to keep it healthy and amazing.

10. I love so many people. I can’t even begin to list you all. In the past year, I have rediscovered what friendship means and how friends treat one another. One of my favorite people is 15. One of my favorite people is 62. I wouldn’t trade either of them for anything. You fill my heart with love everyday. I thank you all. I hope you know who you are because I tell you.

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Hike 52 – Timberline to Mt. Hood Meadows

Today we finished our hiking journey! Can you believe it? I can’t. It’s incredible. In the past year we have done 52 hikes. Remember, before this time, I had done two hikes ever….in my entire life. I enjoyed them, I did, but not like this. Hiking is my thing. I adore it. I made plans last week with the beautiful Lacey Wroblewski to hike 162.5 miles of the John Muir Trail next summer. That is happening. I have a lot of training to do, especially since the baby elevation on today’s hike nearly killed me and I will be up much, much higher on the JMT, but I’m doing it. That is actually, really happening.

I read about the hike from Timberline to Meadows last summer. I didn’t think we could handle it. Then I decided to save it. I knew it was going to be our last hike for a long time now. I wanted our last to be epic. It was!

We drove up to Timberline, a place we’ve both been many times as we learned to ski there, and hit the trail. It starts right behind the lodge. The first section is also the Pacific Crest Trail. I love seeing PCT hikers because they make me happy. My friend Jeremy Wedell just finished an over 400 mile section of the PCT last Monday. Amazing!

We knew going in it was going to be a butt kicker. It’s a 9 mile hike with 2320 feet of elevation gain, but that’s not why we knew it would be hard. It’s a saddle hike. You hike down then up both ways. We get really tired on the second half of our hikes and ending with ascents is really really hard, especially for me. You gotta go out with a bang though, right?

We started our descent into White River Canyon and it could not have been more epic. We had NO idea how beautiful this hike was going to be. We have never seen anything like it. Besides the constant, up-close view of majestic Mt. Hood, there were so many gorgeous wildflowers in bloom. It was by far the most beautiful display of color we have seen in our adventures. As we descended we had many conversations about how this ascent wouldn’t be too bad. It wasn’t super steep….famous last words.

As we worked our way into the canyon, we knew we had a river crossing ahead of us. Neither of us had ever done a river crossing before and I think secretly we were both freaking out a little bit. I was hoping that it was low since we have had so little water in Oregon. I also, aloud, gave us permission to not cross it and head back. It would still have been an amazing 4 mile hike.

When we eventually got down to the river, we knew we could do it, and we would probably stay dry! We had to cross it three times because the water braids its way through the valley. As we were scouting our first crossing, the bank crumbled beneath Jessie. In a moment of shear brilliance, she grabbed my arm with all her strength. Both of her feet went in but her body did not. We were able to stop her. Wet feet suck. When we talked about it later she said, “It might have been refreshing. Who knows?” That girl, I’ll tell ya.

Once we crossed the river, we started our first ascent. It was very steep switchbacks. I had a lot of trouble with hyper-ventilating. I have breathing issues. I always have. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time in ENT doctors offices and sometimes just have to succumb to some gross mouth-breathing. It’s just the way I’m made. When I’m in higher elevations, it is exacerbated. I definitely struggled up the multiple switchbacks.

Eventually you emerge from the forest at the meadow. Holy cow. You can’t even imagine it. My pics do not do it justice. It is so incredibly beautiful. It took our breath away. We continued to wind on mostly flat mud trails through small streams to our stopping point, the junction with Umbrella Falls.

There were black flies everywhere  on this side of the river. However, there were fewer on the gravel road just in the distance. We sat in the shade and enjoyed our lunch. Then we headed back.

The downhill part was easy peasy. On our second crossing of the river, of course,  we noticed piles of rocks that marked the easy crossing points. This made the journey much less of an adventure and much more normal. Then we started our second ascent. It kicked my ass. I could only walk like 300 feet at a time before I had to stop and rest. Not only was I hyperventilating, but I was also dizzy and nauseous. My sister was very patient with a pace I started calling shamble pace. We were climbing in sand the whole ascent which increases the difficulty. I was shambling. It wasn’t even real steps, but I kept going. Two awesome lady PCT hikers passed us (we almost never get passed anymore) and the second one said, “Hiking in sand is no joke, huh?” Eventually we made it though. I think I was really really dehydrated. We stopped in Govy and got Gatorade on the way home. I felt so much better.

Today we spent a lot of time talking about how my body doesn’t work right. It was not interesting conversation. The highlight was definitely my sister singing almost the whole hike. We have a new fear of what we call “nature.” This basically means we don’t want to see a bear again. As we were descending into the canyon the first time, we spooked a giant bird and its quick departure made us both jump. We sometimes don’t talk when we are hiking. She decided the best way to resolve this problem, the problem of sneaking up on nature, was to sing to nature. She made up all sorts of songs as we walked. I wish I had some lyrics, but they were kind of like the song in that apocalypse episode of Family Guy with Randy Newman. One time when she was far ahead of me on a steep trail, I saw her jump and she said loudly, “Hello, Nature.” It was really funny.

We finished. We’re done. So what’s next for us? People always ask what are you going to do when you reach 52. We have spent a lot of time talking about this. We decided we need to hike. We just need to. So next… we will do hike 53. Stay tuned, or not. We really don’t care 🙂

Ok, we kind of do.

For information about the Timberline to Mt. Hood Meadows hike click here.

Hike 51 – Cascade Head

For many years of my life, I spent countless hours relaxing, eating, and generally enjoying the company of people with a beach house on Lincoln Beach. Lincoln Beach is a little community in between Lincoln City and Depoe Bay that basically only has a grocery store and espresso place. Regardless, I have oodles of good memories. The beach house in which we stayed was home to one of my favorite things: journals. It had piles and piles of journals from when the family first bought the home. Everyone who stayed there knew the drill. You write about your visit. If you’re snazzy, Joey and Sus, you draw pictures about your visit too and make everyone smile. Usually, the first thing I did when we arrived for our stay was sit down and read the journals until I reached our last entry. I loved those damn books. Often, in the many entries I read, people would mention hiking Cascade Head. As such, when I started this hiking adventure, I wanted to do it. I knew nothing about the hike. Wow! It did not disappoint.

Beach hikes are difficult because you first have to drive all that way. My sister, Sharock Bruce Hannah, Esq, and I woke up very early, hopped into White Fang (my sister’s car – a boat of a Taurus that we all love), and headed for Lincoln City. I’ve driven the route so many times it was like second nature. We listened to Sharock’s music for awhile. It was the soundtrack from Guardians of the Galaxy. We had seen it two days before. If you haven’t seen that movie, by the way, you’re missing out. Some of you may know my aversion to talking animals. A talking animal STARS in the film and I still love it. That’s saying something. Sharock is rarely allowed control of the music, because although he picks really good songs, he plays them over and over and over and over again. Bad boy. We switched over to Pandora and continued our journey.

When we reached Lincoln City, we stopped at the Safeway for some snacks. I ate about a gallon of trail mix. My sister ate ridiculous pastries. Sharock had bread, and meat, and cheese. We were ready to head north, it’s seriously like 5 minutes, and get hiking. We reached the trail head, which is in Knight Park, and hit the trail.

It was kinda weird at first. It wound its way on and off the road, with some cool bridges (there are super neato bridges “features” throughout the hike) in the forest just off the road, and then we hit the actual trail and the steps from hell. The hike starts, after your road winding, with 200 billion steps. If you hike, you may know about steps. They suck!!!! It is so much easier, more pleasurable, and just preferable to walk up a steep hill than it is to do steps. They are awful. But, eventually, we vanquished the steps. Sharock was at the top waiting for us, of course. As we continued, the views were breathtaking. I adore the Oregon coast. It feels like home. I spent so many of my childhood vacations at the beach visiting my grandma and papa, who lived in Bay City (my papa passed away in 2003,but my grandma now lives in Gresham), that it’s just a comforting place for me. The salty air and crazy wind, it’s like a giant hug.

The bottom part of the hike, besides the steps, is pretty level and winding. Then when you reach the viewpoints you head up and up and up. The total hike is 6.8 miles and 1,310 feet in elevation gain. It was really steep in some parts, nothing we couldn’t handle though. We stopped at the viewpoint at the top, enjoying the 360 view. Then we continued on the forest path to the upper trailhead. We heard these really gross fat people talking about how, “They couldn’t believe that stupid idiots actually walked up to the viewpoint from the bottom instead of just coming from the top. Why would anyone do that?” Um, because we don’t want to look like you….

The downhill was rough on our knees but we all survived. Our talk was mostly of wedding plans. It’s only two short months before Jessie and Sharock become husband and wife. I am so excited and happy for them. We also talked about the physics behind “jet propulsion” which is what we call farting while hiking. I’ll spare you the details.

After the hike we went to Mo’s, of course, and it was brilliant. Thanks, Oregon, for being our home.

For information about Cascade Head click here.