Friday, January 1, 2016

The Unexpected


If I had to sum up 2015 in one word it would be 'Unexpected'.

The year started off with ambitions of thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and quickly twisted and turned into an unexpected journey of seeing and celebrating the amazing country that we live in, and staying open to whatever fate had in store. I crossed the country 5 times (once by train and four times by car). I visited 9 National Parks. I lived in a tent within a National Forest at a premiere, blue ribbon fly fishing destination for 5 months. I learned to fly fish from some of of the best guides in the country.I said good-bye to friends and places that I loved, and I've made new friendships that will hopefully last a life time. I started running again in May, and have managed to run 450 miles in the past 7 months. I landed an amazing job at a top research University. AND I've done this all with my best friend and partner by my side.

 

So what does this mean for 2016? If this past year has taught me anything, its to expect the unexpected. Like 2015, I have a vision for what I want to do with my life. For example, 

  • I want to run/hike/walk the year  (2,016 kilometers/1253 miles),
  • I want to run my first half marathon,
  • I want to go on at least 20 new hikes,
  • I want to get back into photography,
  • I want to blog more about all of my on foot adventures,
Just to name a few.  In moving forward I know that life will happen in ways that I can not yet anticipate , but I believe that 2015 has prepared me to accept whatever comes my way.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Jones Hole

4.2 miles (easy, one-way)

During our first visit to the Green River, the shop manager at Trout Creek was like, "You girls should really go to Jones Hole. You hike in 4 miles the the confluence of Jones Creek and the Green River. The hike is beautiful, petroglyphs line the canyon walls about two-miles in and the fish are huge." Well, it sounded great but we had just drove 5.5 hours to fish the Green River. Jones Hole would have to wait for another time. Little had we known at the time that we would be back 3-weeks later.

We took advantage of some time off of work and headed down to Jones Hole Hatchery.

The trail starts out at the hatchery, meandering along side rows of rainbow, brown, and brook trout before disappearing into the lush green trees within the canyon. As the trees grew thick around me the snap, crackle and pop of tiny cicadas sang louder in my ears, and the sound of the rolling creek drowned out the sounds of the restz of the world.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Where are we Exactly?

A few weeks ago I stated that Cori and I had been offered jobs at a fly shop and outfitter in Utah for the summer, a few things pending. Things, for the most part, have fallen into place and Cori and I have driven back out to Utah to work for the summer, but where is that exactly?

We are both working for Trout Creek Flies & Green River Outfitters which is located near the Flaming Gorge Dam. I'll be doing a little bit of everything; driving shuttles, working in the store, etc., and Cori will be working in the Fly Shop.



The Dam, and the shop is surrounded by National Forest land. We're essentially living in the middle of nowhere, where the only things to do is hike and fish. We're living in our tent, rent free which we had planned to do anyways, and living off our maildrops we put together for the PCT so nothing is wasted. Its going to be the perfect summer.


The Dam



View above the dam. Photo courtsey of the Utah Park Service



View of the Green River from Little Hole

Monday, May 4, 2015

Lovers Leap

Miles: 4.5 loop trail (Moderate)
Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,068 ft.

“This is the most beautiful place on Earth. There are many such places. Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary.” --Edward Abbey

The clouds hang heavy in the sky like cotton balls soaked in oil.The air is cool and damp against my skin, and a slight breeze makes the tiny hairs of my arms stand at attention as if on the lookout for something unknown to me is about to happen. We step across the pavement and over a small wooden bridge. I am wrapped up in a lush blanket of green, and the river is rushing by me. With each step the smell of damp organic matter saturates my senses as it squishes beneath my feet. I am in the Appalachian mountains, walking along the Appalachian Trail. I am home.

To be more exact, I'm in Hot Springs, NC, walking alongside the French Broad River. We are climbing relentlessly upward as we make our way North on the AT toward the top of Lovers Leap Rock. I can feel the the effects of three weeks in a car. I move forward without stopping but my calves are burning and I'm moving slower the usual. Which means I'm moving pretty slow.

We reach the top of lovers leap after a mere 0.3 miles. From here there was a birds-eye view of the French Broad River, 500 ft. This iconic landmark gets its name from a Cherokee Indian legend that tells of a maiden who threw herself from the steep cliff after learning her lover had been killed by a jealous beau. Such a sad legend for such a romantic sounding place.


View of the French Broad River from the top of Lovers Leap Rock




From here we continued upward for nearly another two miles, discussing the recent catastrophic earthquake in Nepal, and the hypothetical future of Mt. Everest. Our hearts are with the victims families of everyone affected, and we are grateful for the safety of friends that have just made it home safely.

We took the Pump Gap Trail back down to the parking lot. The downhill was long but easy. As we neared the bottom we passed two small concrete buildings, which are old bunkers that were used to hold explosives.



There were also several water crossings and I managed to keep my feet dry until the very end. I regret not getting a picture, but the crossing was wide (maybe ten yards) but shallow. F** - it. I walked right on through. Shoes and socks will dry and my feet will eventually regain feeling.

Post trail refueling consisted of a salad, grilled chicken, and a beer from the local Spring Creek Tavern in "downtown" Hot Springs. While we enjoyed our meal on the outside porch we noticed the rather large group of thru-hikers gathered on the front porch of the Hiker Ridge Ministry across the way. "We should buy them beer when we go to the store" Cori suggested. Brilliant. We picked up a 24 pack of Yuengling on the way back from Dollar General and cheerfully delivered it to the very appreciative group of hikers...and bikers! That's right! There was a couple there that is currently biking the Trans America Trail, and they took a little detour to the south. The TransAm trail is something that Cori and I have talked about doing for the past four years. It was actually on our list to do before the PCT and it fell by the wayside when I went to work for The Nature Conservancy in Georgia in 2013. Tonight's encounter has definitely resurrected the interest and has it back to the top of our list once Cori gets her whole rib/heart thing under control. I'm also slightly terrified of road biking so some short trips will be needed before jumping I to a three month cross-country biking trip. Guess that means it's time to start planning a short bike trip! Highway 12 in Southern Utah sounds good to me ;) Stay tuned!

Fishing in Cherokee

May 3, 2013

I just dropped back to sleep when the alarm clock buzzed at 6 am. Uuggghhh. One if these nights I'll actually get some sleep. I pushed myself up, pulled on my long johns, and stuffed all my miscellaneous stuff back into my backpack. Cori and I were meeting Leeland on the river ( Cherokee/Raven Fork) in 15 minutes. It would be a long day. A very, very long day.

Today's Highlights
I saw a rainbow trout jump straight up out of the water like shamu. It was huge and it's belly shined the color of blood.

A heard of elk walked up to the rivers edge to say good morning to us. Leeland yelled at them to chase them off.

I practiced my casting. It was a hot mess.

I now have a pair waders to wear (thanks to Cori) so I wasn't to cold for too long.

Stone flys were emerging from the river and Leeland picked one up that had just floated to the top of the river. He handed it to me and I watched it has its wings finished uncurling and it took off to its next stage in life.

I watched Cori get taken for a swim by a horny head sucker fish. I wish I could have videoed it.

After lunch we drove to Portsmouth, OH to spend the night with Nutmeg, whom we haven't seen since Maine on the AT.

I neglected to take pictures of all the cool things I saw today. New goal: take at least one picture a day.