Off Trail by nigel grey

Jelly's final notes:

 

Being done

Feeling grateful

Looking forward

Trying to look back as well

Searching for balance

Thankful for security

Missing movement

Missing peeing in the woods

Finding it hard to relate

Attention span of a teenager

Still floating in waves of emotional up and down 

Angry drivers

Impatient line standers

Restless sleep

Incomplete feelings

Tired body and mind

I know a secret now

Forever changed for the better

More mindful of waste

Still addicted to the newest technology

Easier to slow down even on a busy day

Love fresh clean food more than ever

Love fresh clean sheets more than ever

Same for fresh towels after a shower

Thankful for normal sized feet

Self-conscious in social settings more than before

Grateful for family and friends

Trust my fiancé more than I know

Love more than I can describe

 

 

Flossy's final notes:

We've been done hiking 2 weeks now, but the trail feels a million miles away. 

For me, there's no regret in stopping - at least not now. The monotony of trail life was wearing me down in a way that felt unnecessary, considering this was a voluntary and un$pon$ored activity. 

We had reached a point where the food was almost unbearable in its high sugar & grain content and generally repetitive nature. Knowing what we know now, we could plan food for a trip with more precision. We would leave ourselves room for the ebbs and flows of trail cravings and the space to avoid what's currently gross. (Vs. packing all of our boxes almost identically in advance... OOPS!)

Even the audiobooks (which we started listing to almost daily) were becoming less engaging - although the luxury of listening to books for hours on end is one I will certainly miss. Anybody read Villa Incognito by Tom Robbins? It was definitely a trail highlight for me. 

We were tired. Physically and emotionally. And that combination brought on more and more tears as the days passed. I missed family and friends. And the future loomed ahead with all of its excitement and uncertainty. 

I never hated being outside though. I love sleeping in our tent; I love our thermarest NeoAirs. I love getting water from a spring or creek. I love the feeling of walking 15 miles with no concern for time. 

I look forward to doing more backpacking and more trails in the future.  Possibly even finishing the PCT! Considering, I'd only been "on the trail" a total of 3 nights before this trip, I feel like an expert now - which I'm not. But I do know a heck of a lot more. And I can be days into the backcountry with confidence. How cool. 

We were gone 16 weeks in total. Probably 12-13 of those weeks were spent in the wilderness. That's a gift I'm still processing the meaning of as we are currently enjoying the luxuries of city life... Like showers and the ease of peeing in the middle of the night. 

1517. After some rough calculations, I believe that's how many miles we walked. It's hard to really say what that amounts to in something other than numbers, even as someone who hiked that far. Results TBD

One awesome aspect of the hiking process is that I feel more physically empowered than ever. I've never been one with the mental stamina to push beyond the pain of an activity to the point where I actually see improvement, i.e. Running. But after walking for 3 months, I went from barely being able to hike 13 miles on mountainous terrain to hiking 25+ miles with little trouble. It's amazing! Our bodies are capable of incredible tasks and they're working in our favor daily - we just have to help them along the way. 

As I mentioned though, our trail diet left me feeling lacking in many ways. Post-trail, we are on a fun food journey to rebuild our bodies and minds. Through research, personal experience, and the help of Nigel's mom - we are exploring the "paleo" diet. I hate to mention it, because of the stigma I'm sure it is raising in your mind. BUT whole foods and plants are what we've missed the most, and I'm excited to see how I can feel if I'm exercising more and eating "life." Maybe there's a food focused post in the future!

Thanks to everyone for your support along the way. The comments and messages were always inspirational and truly kept us going. Hope you enjoyed the pictures and stories. Looking forward to seeing you all in person over the coming months! 

Also - we are happy to give any backpacking tips and tricks. Actually, maybe we will do a blog post about that too!

 

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Morning light

Morning light

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Sure gonna miss those lake swims

Sure gonna miss those lake swims

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Our private hot spring near Muir Trail Ranch

Our private hot spring near Muir Trail Ranch

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Muir Hut, sitting high at 11,955 feet

Muir Hut, sitting high at 11,955 feet

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The South Lake - South Park gang

The South Lake - South Park gang

Oh was someone taking a picture? 

Oh was someone taking a picture? 

Picnic perfect

Picnic perfect

Dear Australia, you can't have them back ;) 

Dear Australia, you can't have them back ;) 

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A week in Bishop with this dynamite crew! 

A week in Bishop with this dynamite crew! 

bowling USA

bowling USA

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Trail reflections de Nigel via iPhone6

Trail reflections de Nigel via iPhone6

Love, 

n + c

Yellow Blazing! by nigel grey

Howdy everyone! We are in Mammoth, at the Mammoth Brewing Company, sipping some tasty beer and talking about the trail. The time has come to cut our journey a little shorter than we originally thought, but there have been many original thoughts thrown out the window at this point, it's all part of the process, and it's been an incredible three months. The Sierra has been living up to every bit of it's reputation and we are looking forward to the next 86 miles on the PCT and Bishop Pass Trail. That's where we are dipping out for some good times camping with friends and family. There will surely be some kind of long reflecting post in the future but it's not time for that yet! Here are some pictures from the last week... 

Ps - Yellow Blazing is code for hitchin rides and skippin trail ;)

 

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This one was for you Waterboy

This one was for you Waterboy

Love, 

Your favorite (ex-pct thru) hikers: Jelly and Flossy

Guest blogger by nigel grey

 

Guest Blogger - Waterboy

I’m excited to tell you about my week on the PCT with my daughter and future son-in-law. That’s right, in case you didn’t know, Coreen and Nigel are engaged. Yeah! Pam and I are excited and happy for both of them.

But for now, let me get back to the wilderness. I’ll start by telling you that I really appreciated their offer to join them. Coreen and Nigel's parents must have done a few things right. I’ll remember this trip for a lifetime.

As you can imagine, we hiked, and hiked, and hiked. The days were full of many ups and downs (pun intended). My level of awe for their PCT commitment increased ten-fold. I knew it was mentally tough but didn’t appreciate the physical demand until I experienced it for myself. The first day EVERY muscle on my body you can think of ached. I teased them that the only thing on my body that didn’t ache were my ears.

But we did so much more than just hike; we talked, we swam (kinda, the mountain lakes are very cold, you could call it more like a dip – and we dipped in 5 of them), we played cards (poker and rummy), we told stories, we shared experiences, thoughts and feelings, and talked about our past and futures. What a special gift it was to spend this time with my daughter and future son-in-law. 

I hope you enjoy the pics.

Waterboy (AKA – PCT Sep 7-11 2015 Poker champion)

About to hit the trail! 

About to hit the trail! 

day 1 was all about climbs and vistas! 

day 1 was all about climbs and vistas! 

up up up! 

up up up! 

Dad & daughter  

Dad & daughter  

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First foot soak of the week! Much needed.  

First foot soak of the week! Much needed.  

High above Lake Tahoe! 

High above Lake Tahoe! 

Rockin' the bandana

Rockin' the bandana

Richardson Lake

Richardson Lake

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An epic swim at Upper Velma Lake. Photo series continues... 

An epic swim at Upper Velma Lake. Photo series continues... 

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Home for the night. It was our favorite campsite! 

Home for the night. It was our favorite campsite! 

we passed SO many beautiful lakes!! 

we passed SO many beautiful lakes!! 

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  Our 2,000 foot climb complete! Celebrating at the top of Dick's pass

 

Our 2,000 foot climb complete! Celebrating at the top of Dick's pass

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Water break

Water break

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Another dip! 

Another dip! 

Not cold at all

Not cold at all

Aloha Lake

Aloha Lake

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mini "bridge of the gods" 

mini "bridge of the gods" 

Cheers at Echo Lake! 

Cheers at Echo Lake! 

Success!!  

Success!!  

 

With love, 

jelly, flossy and waterboy

Reclining in Incline by nigel grey

Hello everyone! Sorry it's been awhile, this last section threaded us through the world of no WIFI and spotty cell service. We are kicking back at Grandma and Grandpa Jacka's house in Tahoe for a few days, eagerly awaiting the next hiking party through Desolation Wilderness. Coreen's dad will be joining us for the 60+ miles around the Lake. We can't wait!

We experienced our first (and hopefully last) missing box of food at the Belden Town Lodge and decided to skip down to Tahoe to rest and refuel. We can't say this was a huge disappointment. After days of hiking 20-25 miles a day and asking our bodies and minds to work like they've never done before, stillness and "doing nothing" feels more peaceful than we can describe. We also are loving a break from trail cuisine, which isn't always what one would call a fine dining experience... although we do know how to really spice up a pasta dish these days. 

Since the last post we wound our way south from Etna, through Castella,  Burney Falls, Old Station (probably our least favorite town so far) and Drakesbad Guest Ranch (probably our favorite place on trail as it is home to the world's best hot spring fed swimming pool). We also strode past the midpoint! Woohoo! Halfway home!

It's been a fantastic challenge and though we've grown immensely in the past two months, there's always a feeling floating around that we are tiny pixels, hardly moving, breathing heavy and soaking with sweat as we put one foot in front of the other. 

 

And now some snapshots (in some semblance of chronological order) 

 

Burney Falls

Burney Falls

Trail delirium  

Trail delirium  

I spy a butterfly... Or twelve 

I spy a butterfly... Or twelve 

Castle Crag

Castle Crag

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A dynamite spot to camp for the night

A dynamite spot to camp for the night

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Mt Shasta

Mt Shasta

Just some daily trail inspiration from a hair tie

Just some daily trail inspiration from a hair tie

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It was 18 miles after our last water stop and a real hot day when we came upon this beauty  

It was 18 miles after our last water stop and a real hot day when we came upon this beauty  

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Some nobos (jackrabbit, larb and chuck wagon) that finished the trail, bought a Honda Civic for $1300 in Washington and were cruising back down while giving some trail magic along the way - in our case it was in the form of buttermilk pancakes in Old Station where there wasn't much more than expired bread and marshmallows for sale. (Also, check out all those beards)

Some nobos (jackrabbit, larb and chuck wagon) that finished the trail, bought a Honda Civic for $1300 in Washington and were cruising back down while giving some trail magic along the way - in our case it was in the form of buttermilk pancakes in Old Station where there wasn't much more than expired bread and marshmallows for sale. (Also, check out all those beards)

See that pool down below? We did too & had to take a dip  

See that pool down below? We did too & had to take a dip  

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Pure pool noodle joy

Pure pool noodle joy

Yea

Yea

Walking into Belden. You can hear that train acomin'

Walking into Belden. You can hear that train acomin'

First stop - milkshakes!

First stop - milkshakes!

A new kind of lake break

A new kind of lake break

Lake Tahoe  

Lake Tahoe  

Celebrating the trail in all of us,

n+c/ jelly and flossy  

(That's right, folks, he has a trail name) 

 

California by nigel grey

It has arrived! Or we have, rather. The long march through Cali begins.  

It hasn't dissapaponted. Something about crossing the border feels more familiar but also more rugged. The terrain has been unrelenting in its beauty... and challenges. We were met with an 8 mile, 4,500 ft descent into Seiad Valley - lined with poison oak - followed by a 5,200 ft, 16 mile climb - lined with poison oak. Life is good. 

As we relax at a lovely B&B in Etna, we're excited to share some new photos! Thanks for viewing. :)

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Nancy - our Ashland trail angel & fast friend  

Nancy - our Ashland trail angel & fast friend  

Another dinner

Another dinner

Two backpacks and a tree

Two backpacks and a tree

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Morning light

Morning light

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First California sunset

First California sunset

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One or three? 

One or three? 

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The view from the the trail  

The view from the the trail  

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Happy trails, 

N+C

Smoky mountains by nigel grey

**update: we fixed our last blog post! Missing pictures are now available 👍

This last stretch from Crater Lake to Ashland was a little sleepy. We were feeling generally pretty tired and ready for a break. In an effort to combat our tired legs and feet, we started having Happy Hour - a 10 minute stretch, yoga break at 5PM each day. It definitely helped, even though lacking in margaritas.

It was smoky from a wildfire in southern Oregon, so we had some hazy views and poor air quality. We were also super excited to get to Ashland, where we have been able to stay with an amazing woman and trail angel who we met up in Goat Rocks. Some much needed relaxation and refreshment awaited us here & we are very grateful!! Thanks Nancy!!

 

Trail vocab! 

In case we didn't explain before: sobo = southbound & nobo = northbound 

word of the day: nearo = almost doing 0 miles as a rest without fully taking a "zero" (no mileage day) 

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This is how we set up the tent

This is how we set up the tent

Sleepy morning breakfast sandwiches

Sleepy morning breakfast sandwiches

HH

HH

HH

HH

we're realllllly close

we're realllllly close

Pilot Rock

Pilot Rock

We got up early to get to a pancake breakfast at Callahan's Lodge on the last day.  Worth it all around!! 

We got up early to get to a pancake breakfast at Callahan's Lodge on the last day.  Worth it all around!! 

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Callahan's Lodge trail log

Callahan's Lodge trail log

Sitting down and loving town,

N+C

Fresh Kicks by nigel grey

We made it to Crater Lake where a couple boxes of new shoes have been waiting for us at Mazama Village. Footwear has never felt so good. Our new kicks are called the Altra Olympus, and yes, they are like walking on clouds.

Also Nigel can't be Goat. There is another Goat, a northbounder, and we keep hearing ominous rumors about him. We fear the name has been tainted, and cannot be shared. If you have any ideas for a new name,  leave a comment below!

We thought we would start adding in some trail vocabulary, so y'all can feel like insiders the next time you run into a thru-hiker (hiking from beginning to end of trail without  significant pause). So word of the day - flip flopping: a thruhiker that is not hiking the trail from bottom to top or top to bottom, instead they are hiking a portion of the trail and then doing a different portion, eventually putting it all together in the same period of time. 

here are the photos!!!

 

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Hot sauce changed everything. Worth every ounce.  #sporkclub

Hot sauce changed everything. Worth every ounce.  #sporkclub

Highest point on the trail in Washington and Oregon 7560ft. Not much compared to what's coming up next in California!

Highest point on the trail in Washington and Oregon 7560ft. Not much compared to what's coming up next in California!

Theilsen Creek. We're never going back to tap water

Theilsen Creek. We're never going back to tap water

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Our crater lake photo series begins  

Our crater lake photo series begins  

Dirty dancing

Dirty dancing

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Crater Lake selfie

Crater Lake selfie

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Goodbye old shoes

Goodbye old shoes

700 miles later, he can't take no more

700 miles later, he can't take no more

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When in doubt.. Walk. 

N+C

Trail names & Nice people by nigel grey

The last 8 days have been fantastic! There has been a store (with beers and delicious snacks) every two days. Super fun. The Timberline breakfast buffet was as amazing as all the northbounders promised. $15, all you can eat. We rolled out after 2+ hours.

When introducing ourselves on the trail we felt like outsiders for awhile. The "trail name" is a real thing, alive and well. What we once thought campy and odd, quickly became a minor obsession. But the thing is, for a trail name to be legit, you are supposed to be given it. Our fellow sobo bros Harpo and Groucho gifted Coreen the name "Flossy." And yes she does floss daily, sometimes multiple times. Nigel was given the trail name "Goat" via text message from Tim back in San Diego. His uphill climbing is legendary. All in all the transition is a little weird, but we are liking it. So if you see us on the trail, we are now Flossy and Goat. Fun stuff.

We also wanted to mention how incredibly nice people are! It was awesome to hang with Carl and Sarah in PDX  (we hope you come out and hike soon!). Since Portland we have been given some sweet gifts (literally) -coconut and strawberry rhubarb pie ice cream, chocolate chip cookies (twice!), gushers, beer, candy, ice coffee annnnd bananas. Food is so totally great. We continue to receive many awesome rides to, from and around town. Finally, thanks Chelsea and Logan for the comfy air mattress in Bend when there was not a single motel vacancy to be found (of course we were in town the same weekend as Phish). 

Clean and fluffy

Clean and fluffy

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Tunnel Falls

Tunnel Falls

Eagle Creek

Eagle Creek

Olalie Lake take 5

Olalie Lake take 5

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Lake break

Lake break

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Mt Jefferson

Mt Jefferson

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Two dots

Two dots

Tracks  

Tracks  

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Our friend Shoelace is real shy, but we did 25 miles

Our friend Shoelace is real shy, but we did 25 miles

Umbrella party

Umbrella party

Seriously

Seriously

Happy

Happy

Oregon cruisin' 

Oregon cruisin' 

Shade addict

Shade addict

Thanks for reading!!! 

n+c

The last 148. Also we finished a state! by nigel grey

Howdy! Here are some photos from the last few miles. It was a good stretch, Goat Rocks was indeed as cool as everyone said it would be. Here's a little journal excerpt...  

 "Here we are. Day 4 of our 7 day stretch to finish Washington and cross into Oregon. We did 23 miles today. Longest day yet & we feel great! It only took about one month to start feeling good, aka to get our "hiker legs." This particular section probably would have lasted another half day, but part of the PCT was closed due to a wildfire around Mt Adams; we knew this was the situation before we left White Pass & had instructions to hike a 2.5 mile trail out to a nearby road where we could walk on a series of roads for about 14 miles or hitch a ride. Within minutes of stepping onto the road, Eddie, a local camp host was passing by in a truck with his two boys. He first said he could only take us a few miles but ended up driving us straight to the trailhead as we cruised in the back. No road walking for us today!

Prior to our detour, we had an unexpected ford across an unmapped raging river, likely from the low snow year and recent heat wave. The water smelled like a geyser as it rushed across the lava rocks, and we heard loud thunder cracking above us. Minutes after the river crossing and wet shoes to show for it, it started to rain. We were fine and happy, but the next day our gear had a scent reminiscent of being on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland... Which got us thinking, is being on be the trail like being a pirate? The answer is obviously yes. Both hikers and pirates are vitamin c deficient and at risk of scurvy. Both only have one direction to go, and you can't easily turn back. Both hikers and pirates are worried about rodents getting their food. Also there isn't much variety or excitement surrounding food. Both are excited and nervous about whom they might encounter along the way: friends (like the 3 marine corps dudes that gave us peanut butter trail mix, tortillas, jalapeño jerky, and two Payday candy bars today because they were "getting the hell out of here") or folks you'd rather just not be around (we won't give specifics). And finally, both hikers and pirates are using maps to find their treasure, whether it be gold or the next town with a cheeseburger and beer."

 

Food is usually the topic of conversation, but talking about pirates is fun too. We have been doing this thing for about a month, happy trailiversary! Cheers.

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Goat Rocks

Goat Rocks

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Maybe the last snowy traverse? 

Maybe the last snowy traverse? 

More Goat Rocks

More Goat Rocks

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Rain gear = mosquito gear

Rain gear = mosquito gear

Sunrise hike

Sunrise hike

Trail closure due to wildfire

Trail closure due to wildfire

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Hitching a ride from Eddie around the wildfire near Mount Adams

Hitching a ride from Eddie around the wildfire near Mount Adams

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Windy times at Blue Lake; grateful for our killer tent  

Windy times at Blue Lake; grateful for our killer tent  

Yay! 

Yay! 

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Hate to brag, but we love our homemade jerky

Hate to brag, but we love our homemade jerky

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Afternoon river swim; before our 4 mile climb

Afternoon river swim; before our 4 mile climb

Last camp before the descent to Oregon! 

Last camp before the descent to Oregon! 

Misty morning  

Misty morning  

Logging

Logging

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Finished a state! 

Finished a state! 

We were definitely walking over the speed limit

We were definitely walking over the speed limit

Portland here we come! 

n+c

Trail Livin' by nigel grey

We just settled down into a wonderful mini studio room in White Pass, right off the highway. There is a gas station and the Village Inn, that's it. We picked up our package, grabbed a large pizza, some chips and salsa, two snickers bars, and a six pack of beer. Health food! It was a fun 5 days and 98 miles from Snoqualmie. Supposedly one of the "least pretty" sections, but it made us feel at home with dusty trails, pine trees and the occasional sage. Now we get to rest up for the long 8-day stretch into Cascade Locks. We feel like we are sort of getting the hang of this whole backpacking/hiking thing. 👍 Here are some pictures!

dinner time y'all

dinner time y'all

In tents  

In tents  

Lookin' like a trail angel

Lookin' like a trail angel

Good morning  

Good morning  

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Mt. Rainier  

Mt. Rainier  

Spacy  

Spacy  

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Until next time!! 

 

n+c