White Pass to Monument 78-Canadian Border

What an amazing and God inspired journey these past five months have been! Hiking in Washington is everything people say it is, beautiful but wet!  There’s a saying we have where I am from, ” if you don’t like the weather in Tahoe, wait five minutes”. In Washington, if you don’t like the weather, too bad! It is what it is. If it’s not raining, it’s sleeting. If it’s not sleeting, it’s snowing. I must admit that I had a day or two of partially clear skies and one day that it was outright hot, but the remainder of my hike in Washington was cold and wet.

 Rainer National Park was stunning. I remained in White Pass waiting for the weather to become more stable, but that wasn’t occurring. Even though the tempatures were low, the scenery made up for it. It was Labor Day weekend so many day hikers were on the trail until the climbing set in. There are many lakes tucked away in magnificent basins with birds waiting for a free meal. I was hiking with a larger group of people when I left White Pass including a gal from Australia named Hummingbird and a guy from Colorado who went by the name of Ladies Man. When we stopped for lunch, Ladies Man began feeding the gray jays. It was as if they knew what to do. They swooped down and plucked bread from his hand in mid air. It was quite entertaining to watch.

 We carried on and as the day was progressing, it was obvious that another storm was brewing. Before long, large snowflakes were falling and my plans for a 20 mile day changed quickly. There were five of us bidding for the same cluster of trees to pitch our tents. Prior to our site, we had to fetch water from a nearly frozen spring and scoop our water from a small seeping puddle. Oh the joys of thru-hiking! As the snow was virtually covering the trail, we all gathered water, then beat feet to camp. On the way, Ladies Man and I chatted about my faith and his view of the universe. He is scientifically minded and not convinced that there is one God who created the heavens and the earth. It broke my heart to hear an incredibly caring man confess that he does not have a belief in our Heavenly Father. I shared with him my faith, my love for Jesus Christ and my strong belief in everlasting life. I understand that not everyone is ready, right now to accept our personal savior but we never know when and where hearts will be changed. All we can do is plant seeds and trust in God to do the rest. Five of us pitched our tents in the trees that afternoon while another seven squeezed in. When the weather changes, you can always find room for a few more hikers. We woke up to a couple of inches of snow on the ground and frozen tent zippers! 
 The next few days were stormy and gray. Fortunately there was a nice cabin that can be used as an emergency shelter. On my way, trail Angels had set up a canvas tent with a propane heater, double burgers and hot dogs, chocolate cake and real brewed coffee! Honestly, it is all about the calories you can consume and it most definitely helps to keep you warmer. The shelter was warm and dry. There was a young man who stopped by and evidentially he helped to build the cabin twenty years ago. He told stories of the area, pointed out the meadow that housed a herd of elk and called the resident mouse by name. One thing I can say about Washington is that there is no shortage of mice. The logbook inside the cabin also warned of the mice so I securely hung my pack and food on a hook up against the wall. When I woke up the next morning, my last pieces of seeded bread had been devoured. That mouse is an acrobat. Somehow he climbed the wall, hung upside down from the hook and ate my bread! Nothing is safe in a house of mice! 

  As I proceeded through the northern parts of the trail, the mountains became more rugged and craggy. Heading into Snoqualamie, it had been rainy, foggy, misty and just plain cold! I have heard that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing! I have the nicest waterproof jacket, alpine pants, fleece hat, neoprene gloves, plastic bags on my feet which are securely tucked inside my trail runners, and darn it, I’m still wet & cold! I planned to stop at the Summit Inn to dry out before my last big push for the Canadian border. As I was marching through the mud puddles and ruts, I attempted to sidestep a ravine that was obviously filled with muck. Silly me, slipped and fell sideways into the muddy hillside and arouse looking more like sasquatch than a thru-hiker! As I saundered into the Summit Inn, I was greeted by many of my trail friends who had taken showers, were all spruced up and I just wanted to hide my filthy self! They all laughed as I entered, knowing they looked the same as I and agreed, that the mud would wash off! After bathing, laundering, drying my gear, I was in much better spirits. One last push, and I would be at Monument 78.

  The best is always saved for the last. Washington is no different. When the clouds lift, and the mountains are revealed, it truly is the most stunning section of the entire PCT. I have never seen such beauty! Each corner reveals a different peak, another pass, an incredible view of Gods workmanship. With the weather changing drastically, the previous fire closures were lifted and the remainder of us thru-hikers were cleared to continue north. 

  North of Stevens Pass is revered as the most scenic section of all. I wish there were words to describe the magesty that I saw my last days on the trail. All I can say is that it brought me to tears daily. When I looked around, the colors were so intoxicating. The reds were every shade from burgandy to crimson, oranges that were colors of peaches and nectarines, vivid greens and yellows, with purple and lavender mountains. I feel that when you stand on this trail of trails, and experience the amazing and overwhelming beauty, then will you truely see God’s glory!

  Something about Washington is utterly peaceful. There were days on the trail during that last weeks that if I saw one person a day, they were celebrated! It seems like everything is without sound. The birds are quieter, the grouse don’t cluck as much, even the chickmunks gather their pine cones silently. I turned off my iPod for the final week and just took in everything in this vast and beautiful wonderland. All I heard were my footsteps underway or my hiking stick occasionally hitting a rock or the aspen tree leaves quaking or the wind blowing before the snowflakes fell on my tent walls. God has such a way to get my attention. He knew our time on the trail was coming to an end but wanted all that He created to be admired! And it was. No distractions, no idle conversations with others, just me and Jesus walking hand in hand. On my last days, I was told of another impending storm. At this point – bring it on. There’s nothing that can keep me from finishing these last hundred miles. 

  On my last morning, I woke up to a couple of inches of fresh snow. Once again, God blessed me with his wondrous art and beautiful landscape! I am so amazed by this trail, my journey and Gods unending love. As I hiked the final miles, the last five months rewinded in my mind. The desert lizards and snakes that were living amongst a plethora of desert flowers, climbing the countless passes in the Sierra’s only to find another pass that was higher and bigger, the never ending state of California with Mount Shasta forever in view, the Oregonian forests that were so lush and green yet obscured by smoke which seemed to follow me relentlessly, and the final culmination of ending in the Cascades and all its beauty! If I could sum this trail up in two words, I would have to say it is “God’s best!” Nothing was left to chance, no Big Bang occurred! God created this beautiful place for us to live, admire and explore  He wanted us to understand how deep his love is, how wide and long this road we travel together and how far he will go to keep us safe, even in the most desolate of places. 

 Yes, after five months and five days on September 15th at 5:00pm, Jesus and I made it to Monument 78, the northern terminus of the PCT. So the lessons learned while I have been on the trail have been many but the amazing transformation of my heart has been the greatest. God has showed me love from day one, with the people I have met and the generosity of their hearts. He has given me more joy than I have ever experienced in my lifetime from the small creatures that accompany me in my tent at night to the sunrise and sunsets he paints for me daily. The utmost peace that has blanketed me during these past month have profoundly changed me. The patience I have learned especially with myself is nothing short of a miracle! I am capable and strong and I am allowed to be slower than others. God has designed me perfectly, just the way He envisioned me to be. Kindness and goodness is everywhere. In the hikers that have blessed me, to the trail Angels that have fed me, to my many friends who have supported me, to my family who believed in me from the beginning. God has been ever so faithful to me. And I to him. We commune together daily, we walked many miles hand in hand and He we never left each other. I think of the many hiking partners I had during the past five months. Each and every one of them left the trail for one reason or another but Jesus stayed the course. When it got tough, he encouraged me to go a bit further. When my pack overburdened me, he lightened my load. When I was scared at night, he comforted me. I couldn’t have had a more faithful and true hiking partner. I learn gentleness from a lifetime of living. There were many times I was able to comfort others, share a word of encouragement or just offer a hug when needed. But self-control was a lesson learned over and over again. I was taught to trust in my abilities, to not over analyze the upcoming days and to live in the moment. Yesterday teaches us, tomorrow we can dream about, but today is really all that truly matters! 

  I pray that during my journey that I may have encouraged you to pursue your dreams, to never doubt yourself and to know, that no matter what comes your way, you always have Jesus Christ to lean on, to love and to trust. He made it with me every step of the way and I know that He is waiting to take a journey with you. May God protect you and keep you safe and may the fruit of the spirit be with you always! 

  But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 

Cascade Locks to White Pass

What a difference a state makes! After covering the State of Oregon without a drop of rain, God has opened the floodgates at said, “let there be water.” Washington has been in the midst of their worst fire season ever. They have summoned firefighters from all over the world, Australia and New Zealand both answered the call, and countless men and women have responded to their plead for help. Yet our God has provided the most help of all with his mighty rain, sleet and snow. Hallelujah, our God reigns!

  Leaving Oregon and walking into Washington across the “Bridge of the Gods” was glorious! I was filled with so much emotion. The sheer fact that I had covered two states, by foot no less, and that Washington marks my final obstacle to Canada. This has been an amazing journey and I honestly, don’t know if I am ready to complete it?  As I entered the forests of Washington, there was a chill in the air and it felt like fall was on its way. I met an interesting fellow my first day out. He was a section hiker and I could hear him before I could see him. He had, what appeared to be a staff, like what Moses carried. It was adorned with bells, feathers, leather, a prayer flag and just beautified with all things natural. We talked about our individual hikes and I complimented him on his trekking pole and amazing accomplishment. God puts things on my heart and when I follow his lead, I can see Gods light shine. The hiker was glowing and shared that he truly appreciated my spirit and cheerfulness! I have been deemed the most joyful person on the trail by both fellow hikers and random people I come in contact with. I believe that is God’s love glowing in me. Thank you Jesus for using me to show your light.

 The upcoming days were brisk. I was walking a bit faster and not stopping for as many breaks. Washington is much different in the fact that you have these beautiful ridge lines that expose much of the Cascades. I rounded a corner and saw Mount Adams 12000′ standing above the clouds, covered in snow. As the day progressed, Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens appeared. It was unusual to be able to see large peaks from both sides of a ridge, so impressive and powerful. I stopped that evening at a lovely lake, Bear Lake which was a Tahoe blue color. As I set up my tent, the sky turned from gray to black and I knew summer was coming to an close.

  I woke to a downpour, the first rain of the season. I was grateful as I hoped this would help contain the fires north of me. The rain continued all morning as I made my way to Road 23, my first fire closure detour. The trail was damp and puddles began to gather. The forest was quiet except for the rain hitting the foliage near me. Not a creature stirred. Even the chickmunks and squirrels stopped gathering pine cones and nuts. As I reached the road, I had two options. Road walk some 25 miles around the closure to the left or hitch into Trout Lake and bid for one of the three rooms at the Grocery Store. As I hit the road, a white panel van stopped. I starting talking to the four Columbians who were inside and asked for a ride into town. They were field pickers, gathering reeds from the local waterways. They offered me a ride to a much busier intersection where I could find another hitch into town. They drove me some 4-5 miles and then I was able to get a ride with a family who were going for a hike. They asked me if I’d like to hike with them? Why not, that’s pretty much what I do everyday. They drove me to this awesome waterfall, which I would have never seen if I stayed on the trail and invited me back to their campsite for lunch. What a blessing! Fresh tomatoes, avocado, fine salami, four kinds of hummus and home brewed beer. I tell you this hiking thing is full of surprises! After lunch, they gave me a ride to town and I was able to get the one and only room available at Trout Lake Grocery. Such a blessing, warm water, flush toilets, and laundry. All my hearts desire. 

 After a lovely stop at Trout Lake, trail angel George gave five of us a ride back to the trail. It was close to a two hour drive, following dirt roads that were clearly not used often. George had been taking hikers around the closure for the past week. Once we arrived, the rain was the topic of converstation. I hoofed it to my evening camp, which placed me near the Knifes Edge. If you are familiar at all with the PCT, this stretch of Washington is revered as the most scenic and precarious section. But that’s only if you have clear skies and guts of steel. As I was heading northbound, I ran into five hikers who attempted Knifes Edge but we’re only turned around due to winter-like conditions, snow on the trail and virtually a white-out. One hiker slipped and fell, injuring his leg and was limping his way down off the trail. The weather wasn’t looking much better for my approach in the morning, but time would tell. I woke up early to howling wind and mist. My tent was soaked from the night before and I prepared myself for the worst. As I climbed early, the clouds were low and it appeared I was in a cloud bank. The higher I went, the colder and windier it became. Once I hit the glacier, I commandeered a fellow hiker to pair up and attack the mountain together. And thankfully we did. For the next two hours, we scaled the ridgeline, never truly seeing the beauty of the vistas as it was completely covered in clouds. We hunched over to brace ourselves from the pounding wind and sideways rain. Although we did not have snow, we had cold tempatures but Gods complete safety and warmth. Our footing was stable and we had enough adrenaline to stay focused on the task at hand, get off this mountain top! Success, as we made it down, a large Woolley Mountain Goat graced us with his presence. It was Gods sign that we were strong and fully present to his power and divine majesty.   

 Now safely at White Pass, I think about lessons learned. Gods perfect grace! I have seen his perfected grace in so many places, from the sunny days that have brought us much needed rain, from a deserted roadway that brought me a safe and welcome ride, from a stoney path that brought me stable feet, from a mountain side that was vast and bleak, yet stood a strong symbol of his amazing grace. No matter where I walk, no matter where I go, God’s grace has blanketed me with his warmth, his protection and his infinite direction.  God’s grace is immeasurable, eternal, overflowing, perfect, and lavish, yet free! As we walk in his grace, we should never underestimate how purely astounding our God truly is. Undeserved and incomprehensible, yet available. God’s grace is unbelievably amazing! 

 Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come; ’tis grace hath brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home. John Newton 

Ashland to Cascade Locks

Ashland is a really nice town. It seems to have kept its charm from days gone by. It has all the requirements of a thru hiker, cheap lodging or swankee digs like Callahans, great restaurants and pubs, plenty of shopping and all within a reasonable walking distance. I spent three days resupplying with gear, food and doing chores like laundry. Finally got the nerve to wash my down sleeping bag and jacket! They came out all fluffy and clean. 

  After hitching a ride back to the trail, we started our typical climb out of town. There is metamorphic rock with  volcanic activity visible from the past. Intermingled is beautiful plant life, ferns, grass like brush that you would find at the beach and the ever-not-so-popular silt! There is no point to try and keep clean or even dust free while hiking in Oregon! You are virtually a dust magnet. I feel like pig pen from the peanuts cartoon, just a cloud of dust following me! You can’t hike very close to anyone else or you are eating their dust so we stay a few hundred feet or more behind our partners. 

  I have made incredible friendships on the trail but especially with a German couple. We decided to hike together for the time being which makes we quite happy. They have taught me the finer sides of European vacation style hiking. This entails many long breaks, always includes eating, taking your feet out of certain bondage of trail shoes and relaxing anywhere you can find shelter from the brilliant sun. Somehow we still manage to get our mileage in but we just do it better. No wonder the Europeans live longer than us. They are masters of relaxation! 

  During our many stops, I began reading my Daily Bread. English is their second language so I translate as best I can the process of gleaning from the fields. We talk about God’s provisions and how, even on the trail, God provides. My friend shares how she felt when her grandma and father passed away, and doubted why God would allow her to hurt so bad. I shared how many worldly things are unknown but God has a plan. His perfect plan was that we were going to meet here, on this trail, thousands of miles away from home, and share who He truly is. We walked away and she started praying asking for a sign that God is real. He said, “look at the berries you are eating” and she laughed. But as we arrived at our next stop there was a sign, a beautiful wooden sign “Christ i Spring”. She was in tears and shared to me her question and then saw this sign, but doubted because the sign had been there for many years. But I told her God knew exactly where you were going to be when you would ask. I just love the way God works. She told me that she was going to have a relationship with Jesus while she was on the trail and see how that would transform when she went home to Germany. I was so blessed by knowing that she was open to Gods love.

  We hiked into Mazama Village and joined the many others who resupply then carry on to, what I think, is one of the greatest wonders of the world, Crater Lake.  Prior to the eruption some 7,700 years ago, Mt Mazama, as it was named was 12000′. Now the caldera is the deepest lake in North America at 1949′ and the seventh deepest lake in the world! I just think it is a beautiful depiction of Oregon in all its magesty. I happened to be there the night of the culmination of the annual meteor showers and watched as the night sky became lit up by millions, if not billions of stars. In the northeastern hemisphere, the show began. Meteors shooting across the sky. It was absolutely breathtaking! 
  I managed to leave Crater Lake before the fire consumed and closed the northern section of the PCT near the park entrance. This has to be one of the worst fire seasons ever. As I headed northbound, Mt Thielson was on the horizon. Another brilliant mountain. Oregon has so many great mountains including Mt Jefferson, Mt Washington, Three Fingered Jack, The Sisters but by far the greatest is Mt Hood. It is quite the approach, close to 3800′ in elevation gain, people who tell you the Oregon PCT is flat have never hiked the trail! As I broke through the deep dark forest, which is virtually impossible because Oregon is all forested, Mt Hood was glaring down on me. What an impressive volcano! It was a crystal clear day, an anominalie as the sky had been consumed by smoke and fire for the past weeks! The last mile climb to Timberline Lodge, just below Hood, resembles dunes. I’m not sure who brought the sand but I was wishing they would put it back on the beach. My trail runners were loaded with silt and I thought many times of taking my shoes off and digging my toes into the fine sandy soil. Oh but how God blessed me with an amazing sight and His finest sculpture. I would love to come back one day and climb that mountain!

 After an amazing evening camping outside of Timberline Lodge, I partook in the unending breakfast buffet with vegetable quiche, cheesy eggs, sausage and ham, homemade Greek yogart with four kinds of fresh berries topped off with a Belgium waffle and a mound of fresh whipped cream. Yes, I ate all of it in one sitting and then waddled off and hiked ten miles. Life of a hungry thru-hiker! It amazes me how many calories I can consume and still be hungry. My belly growls daily. How can that be?  

As I left Timberline, the smoke came back. A reminder that Oregon and Washington are still ablaze!  But even with the smokey skies, you can see the beauty of this trail. Fall colors are showing up, maple leaves are turning and the pines are dropping needles, carpeting the trail with soft duff. On my last trekking day in Oregon approached, I chose the ever-so-popular offshoot of the PCT known as Eagle Creek Falls trail. It winds down a canyon and drops into Cascade Locks. There are numerous waterfalls, deep swimming holes and hundreds of day hikers. I hadn’t seen so many people since I was in Ashland. It’s interesting how many hikers are interested in my journey, how long I had been on trail, where I was heading, what my experience was like, who am I hiking with, the questions I get asked over and over. I love talking to others about my trek. It inspires them and it reminds me of Gods graces that he has allowed me to come this far. 

 So what have I learned in Oregon? There is nothing too big or too small that God cannot conquer. Whether it was my fear or doubts, my abilities or ambitions, my loneliness or my social overload, God has it covered. He knows what I need at the perfect time. As I finished the last half of Oregon solo, I began to wonder if I was suppose to be out here? He brought me Kathleen and Dwayne from Walla Walla, on my birthday no less, to minister to me. Kathleen prayed over me, prayed for my protection and comfort and reinforced that I was indeed, where God wanted me to be. Another wonderful couple Bonnie and Dave also from Washington showed me God’s perfect love and enthusiasm for my hike and what an incredible accomplishment for me to have made it this far. As I walked through the forest I could see the light, the brilliant Columbia Gorge and the “Bridge of the Gods” that lay ahead of me. God provided a perfect path, one that would take me where He wanted me, the one that would open my eyes to His truth, that I have nothing to fear, I have tremendous ability and I will never to be lonely! I am eager to take my next step and to cross over the bridge and reach my final destination, which He has determined for me before I was born. What a thoughtful and amazing God we have! 


So do not throw away your confidence, for it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God,you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36

Burney Falls to Ashland

I have heard of Burney Falls for years but have never been here before. What a beautiful sight! If you are wondering where the water in Northern California is, you need to search no further. I’m not sure how many gallons per minute flow over this enormous falls but it’s enough to make you wonder if this drought is a just a hoax! There’s a lot of water in that there fall.

  Leaving Burney Falls was bittersweet. I was hiking alone but in great spirits and ready to tackle the trail ahead. This section is one of the most anticipated sections. I am entering a forest like none I have seen. The trees are numerous in variety with pines, oaks, cedars, firs and redwoods. The ferns are as tall as I am, while the dogwoods are thick and lush, blocking the trail. Sprinkled abound is yes, poison oak, the nemesis to many a thru-hiker. I am quite sensitive to this plant but praise the Lord, I have escaped the wrath of oozing blisters. I dawned my rain pants to protect my legs and already had my arms covered. Rain pants were much more like a sweat suit as it was brutally hot. But not a single poison oak bump on my sensitive skin!

 The farther north I head, the closer I get to Mount Shasta which is twofold. I am making my way out of California, the longest state to hike through and I am reaching the most magical and mystical mountain. There is something incredibly romantic about this mountain. It is said that if the snow melts off Shasta, it will erupt. I’m not sure if that’s a fork lord but I’m thinking it looks better with snow on it.  Once I made it to Dunsmuir I went off trail for the evening. A very dear friend Muriel picked me up along with three other very dirty and smelly trail friends, drove us to get our resupply boxes then to Dunsmuir.  I did the usual, took the longest shower possible without the water police knocking at the door, did my laundry and went out for grub. Muriel found a great pub and we caught up on trail life and all the things I’ve missed in the passed three months.

 I have a few hiking partners on the trail which passes the miles much more quickly. We have had such fun on the trail, laughing with one another, praying over injuries that occur daily but most of all, having others to share your everyday trials and tribulations, and the ever present pain and sorrow that is part of life on the trail. God designed us to be in community with one another. It is so much to do with who continues and who goes home! Without a connection with others, you truly can lose yourself while trekking. During lunch, I continue to read my Daily Bread, a devotional that sparks conversation and gives us something to ponder during the hours of hiking. 
 During the last week, it seems like the main theme on the trail is “where’s the smoke coming from?” There have been many smoke filled days that have plagued my lungs and I have found many uses for my bandana. The best is wetting it in a stream and tying it around my face. It helps some but the best course of action is finding a place to get off trail for a zero day! At this rate, I’m not sure how much forward progress I am making but the good news is that I am not alone. Many others have joined me on regrouping and finding ways to escape the heat and smoke. I found a nice river to soak in until the thunder and rain started. Hmm, probably not the safest place to be but it definitely got my core tempature down a few degrees. While at a watering hole, I met a young hiker and we shared our faith. It’s interesting the places we congregate. It almost always is near food or water. Some things never change. 
 So nearly four months later, and close to 100 hiking days on the trail, I finally exited this beautiful state of California and entered Oregon. Oh happy day, when I skipped across the California-Oregon stateline. For me, it was an amazing milestone, over 1700 miles and less than 1000 miles to Canada. When I reflect on my time on the trail, it seems like only yesterday when I started but how I have seen Gods grace and unwavering love. I believe that my biggest lesson is knowing that God knows my heart, that he knows who I am and that he sees me for who I truly am. I cannot be anyone else than who he created me to be. He has no preconceived ideas of what or who I am because he knows me so personally. When others view me, they can see who I am on the outside but God knows who I am on the inside. And that is so comforting. I so enjoy the time on the trail because we truly are who we are! We cannot be anything else than real, there’s nothing to prove! We accept each other for our strengths and weaknesses, we embrace our gifts and flaws, we do not judge one another but accept each other and because of that, we can truly flourish and become who God designed us to be. I love the fact that God sees us as he designed us, perfectly beautiful and wonderfully made. 

  Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in good season if we don’t give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us to good will towards all men and especially towards those that are in the household of our faith. 

Galatians 6:9-10

Bucks Lake to Burney Falls

God is great! He knows me so well. With my three months of time on the trail, I have found absolute freedom and complete love. This past section has been somewhat of a return to the desert. Not that I need to relearn lessons of the past, but literally it has made me reflect on lessons lived!

  Leaving Bucks Lake I was renewed and refreshed. Having a Nero Day (not quite a day with no miles but less than 20 miles) can feel like a respit for the soul. I had a couple of excellent meals, cleanish clothes (laundered in the sink) and a bath, after scrubbing down in the shower, of course! Once I hit the trail, it was uphill and glorious. The trail was perfect, like carpet with meadows, wild flowers in amazing bloom and absolute quiet. Once I was in my right frame of mind, quiet was welcome. The peace you can only find when you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Nothing else matters, just walking with the Lord is all that one needs. I met two hikers this day, both asked me (totally God ordained), what is your purpose? It was a message from above. He wanted me to verbalize and rehearse why I was out in this place so raw and vacant of hikers. Each time I shared what I was hiking for “to share Gods love on the trail”.  This was a great reminder that I was right where I was suppose to be!

   I hiked up and over Bucks Summit  towards Belden. I had no idea what this town was all about and you literally walk through it. First of all, I’m not sure if population 12 equates to a township? However, there were 150-200 people lightly dressed, as I came walking in with shirt, skirt and shoes which made me feel completely overdressed. I called the trail angel and she came and whisked me away. The Brattens bought a ranch style home just so they  could cater to weary hikers. Such wonderful people on the trail that look out for us.

   Leaving Beldon, I had a 5000′ climb. The good part was that it’s over 15 miles so not too terribly steep, but just a long slow slog. I met a nice young man named Lifesaver, because he helps out stranded hikers with gear, water and anything you might be missing. Hence his name. He is section hiking and he tagged along with me for a couple of days. We had meaningful conversation about faith and religion. I found him seeking, wondering if Jesus really was the Son of God? God put it on my heart to share with him all that Jesus did on earth, his miracles, his love and compassion but most important, his resurrection and forgiveness. I never know who I am going to meet on the trail and as I have been told by many thru-hikers, you know everyone! My slower pace allows me to meet more people and I do believe that’s what I’m suppose to be doing out here. 

  Good news is I have made the Half Way point of the PCT, 1325 miles to Mexico and 1325 miles to Canada. I’m choosing to continue north and by God’s graces, I will be there before the end of September. Lifesaver was with me as we crossed the half way monument and we celebrated with dinner. He had Top Ramen and I had soup. No champagne or wine toasting but we enjoyed the accomplishment of  knowing the first half was behind us! Praise God for keeping me safe and sane as I place one foot in front of the other and share in his graces along the way. 

  Mount Lassen was my next hurdle. Lifesaver left the trail at Chester and once again, it was me and the Lord walking side by side. Of all my hiking partners, Jesus is always there. He never twists an ankle, never gets too tired, never abandons me and is always constant. We walked through this beautifully manicured forest after the many obstacle courses of the past few days. I was wondering if there was such a thing as trail maintenance since I was climbing over, crawling under or bush whacking through. But now I was in the land of perfected forest management. What I would give to have a trail like this in my backyard! It was stunning. Manzanita, both low lying and bush like, coniferous pines of all sorts, perfectly groomed trails with lush undergrowth under my feet and lovely blue skies. I visited Lassen NP a couple of years ago and fell it love. It truly is natures wonderland. 

   As I left Lassen, I entered Hat Rim Creek, however there is no creek to speak of. It is somewhere between Lassen and Shasta, the Rim of Fire is now upon me. When I left Old Station, my trail friends “The Ravens” hugged me and wished me well. I was wondering why they were so concerned but it became quite clear. Hat Rim is the hottest section of the trail. Some proclaim it is worse than the desert! It is a 29.4 waterless section on top of a plateau and is quite barren. There are sparse trees but once again, you are fighting off the cows for the shady spots. I left much too late as I stopped at JJ’s for breakfast. By the time I was into my twenty plus mile day, the tempatures had soared well into the nineties. By 1:30 pm I was frantically looking for shade. I do not like heights nor do i like heat! So for about two hours, I rested till I could move on. My pack was topped with six liters of water which was to last me through the following day. As long as I stop when it’s hot, I do conserve water. So rest it was till the heat dissipated. I found a lovely ridge line that I pitched my house on. Each night, I build my house of sorts, tent with inflatable mattress and miscellaneous stuff. I have definitely downsized, sending stuff home regularly but I’m at a point that everything I have is a necessary part of life on the trail. And that keeps my pack weight down considerably. As I was settling down, God painted this incredible picture perfect blazing sunset. I am forever in awe of his mighty handiwork. The thought of seeing Mt Shasta means that California is coming to an end. And I am ready to hike in another state. Just the thought of being in Oregon is welcomed. California is one long state!
  As I finished the Hat Creek Rim, I came upon a hind leg of a deer. That was a bit unnerving as I could only imagine some big cat had left it behind and had all intentions of returning. Needless to say, I walked a bit faster, but did not run as the big cat would want to chase me down. Another fear of mine, mountain lions! Oh my, amazing I make it out of my tent daily. After miles and miles of waterless, dry timber and brown grasslands, this water preserve appeared. There were cranes, white swans and pelicans floating in the water. It was so lovely and such a welcome sight. I had to soak myself which immediately dropped my core temperature down to a reasonable temp. Oh how I love water! The thought that truly all we require in manna and water. And God provides us with both. Whether we are wandering through the desert or the mountains, He has us covered. 

  The next few miles led me to Burney, a quaint town with properly clothed people and all the conveniences of home. My personal trail Angels Eva and Keith whisked me away to Mt Shasta for two days of rest and relaxation! The fine things in life were available like flush toilets, a bed with sheets and two pillows, and all the food and drink a hiker can devour. 

 So lesson learned this past week: All I truly need is God’s love. It’s interesting because it comes in so many different forms. Whether it is the way He paints the sunset or the sound of a bird chirping early in the morning. His love can be found through other people on the trail, their overwhelming kindness and incredible generosity. Gods love can be the warmth I feel from the sun or the flowing water over the trail when everything else seems so dry and dusty. When I take the time to listen for his breath, to look for his workmanship, to fellowship with others, I am amazed by all the love that surrounds me. God truly is love. I have felt nothing but His amazing presence every moment of everyday, as long as I take the time to walk the trail. 

 My friend Stacey Hansen had her 3rd grade class send letters of encouragement to me. Below is a beautiful picture one of her students drew for me. 
Know in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is found in our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 8:37-39 


Truckee to Bucks Lake

So I thought afternoon thunder showers come in the afternoon? In Plumas County, thunder and lightning start just after 10am. Yep, and they last till sunset! Nevertheless, I am wet and may have the beginning onset of the Oregon blues. And to think I haven’t made it out of California yet! But sunnier days are on the horizon.

  I spent the Fourth of July with family and friends in Truckee. It was so nice being with everyone but most difficult to leave. All I could think about was I could walk home in a couple of days or head back on the trail for another two months?!? I’m not sure who was more upset, my grandson Sid who asked me why I was leaving for another 100 days (which in fact was only 79 days and a wake-up) or my husband who explained the first week or two was like a vacation but five months, that’s much too long or my best friend who was hiding her tears behind her big dark glasses! We all hugged and I took another step closer to Canada. 

  This has been the toughest week. Not physically but more mentally. I believe I am the strongest I have been since I left the academy some thirty years ago. However the trail is thinning out. The thru-hikers are slowly dwindling down to the ones who truly have something special that keeps them motivated! I have God who hasn’t given me the pass to go home yet. I truly feel that he still has work for me to do out here. 

   From Truckee to Sierra City I saw six other thru-hikers over 42 miles. There were earlier days where I would hike with 20-25 others. I was feeling a bit lonely and constantly asking myself if I needed to continue? I headed into Sierra City for a burger and fries and met the cutest 80 year old couple sitting on their front porch. They live on Main Street with an awesome view of the Sierra Buttes. They invited me back for morning coffee and a ride to the trail. So with their prompting and Gods grace, I headed back up and I mean up, the trail. 4000 feet and tons of switchbacks! What a beautiful view from up above. God has a way of waking me up by having me climb his magnificent mountains and knowing he created this all for us!

  As I hiked the trail meditating on his word, my journey became more of a walk in faith and knowledge of who God truly is. To think that we could not bare to stand in his presence, that he is so great and mighty and that no man has ever seen his face. To think we can have a relationship with God, one that he desires more than we can fathom. The fact that he knows every thought we have, even the ones we don’t speak! There is nothing he doesn’t know about us, and there is nothing too big for him to handle! So when I was feeling down and not sure why I was still out here, my God brought me a wise woman to minister to me! 

   It had been raining most of the day and I was feeling weary. I also had miscalculated my water needs and was dry with no water ahead for another three to four miles. I crossed LaPorte-Quincy Road and saw a forest service truck parked. I thought, hmmm they should have water. Sure enough, the Battalion Chief exited her truck, provided me water, emptied my trash and provided me what she promised was the best MRE’s the government provides, spicy penne pasta with vegetarian meatballs! I was a bit skeptical but my fuel was low and so I gave it a try. I shared with her my ministry on the trail and then she witnessed to me about her God fearing faith and love of Christ. It was exactly the encouragement I needed to carry on. Thank you Jesus for loving me and sending your earthly angel!

 The following days were filled with trials and tribulations but somehow there was a mixture of peace sprinkled in the midst. It would rain most of the day but as I set up my tent, the skies would clear just long enough for me to get inside before the rain came back. As I hiked down the trail, I had a wasp that must have thought I was a flower, hard to believe if you could smell me! He decided to place his nasty stinger in me and ouch, I did what any good hiker would do and smack him silly! Then as my ankle hit a rock and began to roll (job ending for a thru-hiker), So I I jammed my carbon fiber pole down, and that darn thing snapped in half! Seriously, what else? But as I made it to Feather River bridge, I found a letter addressed to me from a hometown friend Marilyn who just so happened to be hiking the trail. Enclosed was a super sized payday bar! So needless to say I gobbled that up and proceeded to have a much better day! As I made it to camp, God painted me the perfect pink and purple sunset and sprinkled the sky with a stars, something I hadn’t seen all week!

   I made it to Bucks Lake, a bit off course but I truly needed to dry out and warm up! This has been an overwhelming yet incredible week. I have learned so much these past days but my number one lesson learned is all I truly need is God! When everything goes unplanned, when all my earthly hiking buddies leave the trail, I still have Jesus walking with me every step of the way. He will never leave, never forsake me, in the rain, thunder and lightning, he is always there! I truly have my very best friend still trekking along and he plans on making it to Canada and beyond! So I am in it for the long haul, feast or famine, rain or shine, thirsty or both, we are in this together. Thank goodness, because I’m not sure that I could make this journey solo! 

   Advise from a Trail by Ilan Shamin: Walk in beauty, stay on your path. Find inspiration around every turn. Tread lightly. Pack life with good memories. Every day has its ups and downs so watch your step. 

Sonora Pass to Truckee

Can it get any better? When I left Sonora Pass, many thru-hikers had jumped ahead due to a fire near Markleeville. Fortunately, the fire was moving away from the trail, and I had the green light to carry on. God has been keeping such a watchful eye over this journey and protecting me daily. 

  Sonora Pass is a magical place. It is unlike any other area that I have hiked! I have never been to Bryce or Zion but from pictures I have seen, this section of the PCT is much like it. There is an obvious influence from volcanic activity of yesteryear. The mountains are so colorful at every turn. As I crested the peaks, I could see the Sierra’s in the background and this extreme environment ahead. It was truly the most beautiful section that I have trekked, to date, on the Pacific Crest Trail.

  I was honored to have my friend Mary join me on this section. She is an avid hiker and up to the challenge of hiking 15-20 miles a day! We experienced every emotion from joy, peace and solitude to pain, suffering and exhaustion during this leg. Neither one of us had any idea what God had planned for us!

  Honestly, I felt like Jesus’ bride walking through His perfectly colorful and fragment garden. The wild flowers were in full bloom with every color of the rainbow represented. From the orange and red tiger lilies to the deep purple lupine to bluest columbine to white and yellow mariposa lilies, and so many other brilliant arrays of garden flowers. There were fields of mule ears  that extended as far as the eye could see. Natures toilet paper, soft on the bottom and biodegradable! 

 I believe that God had orchestrated this master plan that I was right where He wanted me and this was the confirmation. Every moment I could see his workmanship, from the lack of smoke in the air from the fire that was burning a few miles away, to the most intense sunrise and sunsets that I had ever witnessed. God had painted a perfect view of his love and grace and I was in the midst of it all!

  During these past weeks, I crossed another milestone of sorts. Entering Desolation Wildrness, one of my many stomping grounds, I hit the 1,100 mile marker of the trail. It’s not quite half way but it is one of the places that I return to year after year and have questioned many thru-hikers about their adventure. Now as I trek through this place, many prospective hikers are asking me questions about my journey. It is quite interesting to be on the receiving end of questions like “are you hiking solo”, do you carry a tent”, “aren’t you afraid”, “when will you finish”,… I love sharing my story with others and get a kick out of their shock when I tell them yes, I am hiking solo; Yes, I have a shelter and highly recommend one; no, I am not afraid because I have the Lords protection; and I plan to be in Canada by mid-September, 160 days after I started. 

  So what did I learn during this past section? God showed me patience. He made me more aware of everything He created for me. He brought me friends to hike with that would teach me to slow down just a bit so that I wouldn’t miss all his blessings. He made me focus on Him so that I could be more aware of how truly powerful God is. I witnessed his tender side as I took time to smell the flowers, and when I laid in my tent at night, I kept the door open so I could see the sunsets and sunrises in all their glory. The little things are so important and sometimes I don’t take time to really take it all in. Yes, I need to be to Canada before winter sets in but more important than the destination is how I get there! Thank you God for teaching me patience through your beautiful creation and sharing the power of my friends who helped me along the way. 

  May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Colossians 1:11-12

Tuolumne Meadows to Sonora Pass

As per my Brit Guide, this section is the toughest route of the entire PCT. Seriously? I thought the highest passes would be the hardest. So off I went, a bit skeptical but up for the challenge. I had a zero day and was definitely rested. My good friends Judi and Dee sent me off in fashion, turkey sandwich and good company. My personal trail angels Eva & Keith had done everything and anything a thru-hiker could ask for, washed my clothes, fed me, massaged my feet and provided me all the comforts that one cannot find in the wilderness. 
Back on the trail, I was in Tuolumne Meadows! How much better does it get than that? Lush green grasses, deer grazing, bear forging on twinkies, and men fly fishing! As I meandered down the trail, I remembered traveling this trail a few years prior. All of a sudden, it came back to me. This is a super crazy steep section of trail! No switchbacks, just straight up and knee breaking downhills! But beautiful waterfalls and scenery that reminds me that I am in some kind of special place!

  With good, comes better! I love this part of the PCT. It truly is God’s masterpiece! How much better can one place be? It has everything from meadows, grasslands, granite rock faces, abundant water cascades to unruly bears, prairie dogs and mosquitoes that have terrible manners! Okay so the critters are literally out of control! You are required to carry heavy canisters that keep critters large and small away from your food! And if you dare to question authority, well the price is $150 for non-compliance! I carried a bear canister and did not risk the fine! Most of us did as we were told. 

As I covered the 76 miles in four days, I often asked myself, “what’s your hurry?” The difference between a backpacker and thru-hiker is the miles you pack in , day in and day out. I typically wake up at the crack of dawn, 5-530am, hit the trail no later than 630-7am and hike for 11-12 hours a day. Sometimes I don’t get into camp till 730-830pm, build my house, fetch water, dehydrate something yummy for dinner-not, make my bed which includes inflating my mattress, rolling out my sleeping bag, wiping myself down with towelettes because the water is either too cold or its too late to take a bath in the prestine River or frozen lake, eat my scrumptious dinner, journal, pack my lunch for tomorrow, determine what’s for breakfast and finally hit the sack at 9-930pm (hiker midnight). Then up the next morning to work, another 18-22 miles. Yep, the joys of hiking daily. Is it fun? Well, it’s more like a job but it has rewards that money can’t buy! 

Yes, I truly love my life on the trail! God has opened my eyes to things that He can see. As I was sitting on the shore of Wilma Lake, rainbow trout were jumping out of the water like they were Dolphins on display like a Sea World follies ! If only I had a frying pan to catch them in, I would have cooked them up to order! Love fresh fish! But they were safe as I have no fishing license, let alone a line or lure to bring them in. But there were others, much smarter than I, who were eating some delicious lunch on the lake!

As I hiked this section, I met a beautiful woman named Dos. She had hiked the Appalachian Trail two times prior and was well on her way to add the Pacific Crest Trail. She had just finished the Florida Trail and I was amazed by this gal. She is my age but looks like a teenager! We spent four days sharing our love for the trail and God was once again, showing me I was right where He needed me to be! 

On my final day of this section, I had managed to somehow keep pace with all the youngsters of the trail. Barista, Full Roll, Easy Over and others who started with me and we all ended at Sonira Pass within an hour of each other! As I was nearing Sonora Pass, Mom and Dad were waiting for me, on the trail! They had sandwiches, potato salad, chips and the all important beer! Oh life is good! The last couple of days, I have been spoiled by bubble baths, manicure and pedicure along with getting my hair deep conditioned and colored. Gotta look good on the trail. 

  As I return to the trail today, there has been a fire threatening a trail closure. I had considered jumping ahead but really did not want to miss this section from Sonora Pass to Echo Summit. With the help of my dear friends Janice and Bertha, they committed to drive me to the trailhead with my hiking buddy Mary. Please pray for the firefighters who are working tirelessly to protect the homes in Markleeville and this beautiful landscape! 

 So what have I learned this past week?  God will be there if we take the opportunity to find Him. He has opened my eyes to nature, both big and small. To the waterfalls and the mountain springs, to the lakes and ponds, wading through the creeks and rivers and all the glorious trees, bushes and shrubs. My ears hear all the quiet chirps of birds to the loud cries of warning sounds from woodpeckers and quails. He has opened my nose to the distinct smells of the conifers to the recent cut down trees that had blocked the trail. And God has opened my heart to all that I meet on the trail! I had an encounter with a hiker who stated to me, ” if I had met you a few years ago, I would’ve never talked to you!” God knew I would meet this hiker at this time, at this place and where we would both be open to one another! Thank you Jesus for designing me, refining me and developing me into the woman who you desperately wanted me to become. And for being ever-so-patient! 
 Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up. James 4:10

The High Sierra’s – Kennedy Meadows to Tuolumne 

I have arrived to the land of milk and honey. When the Isrealites left captivity and were guuded to the promise land, this is what i have been experiencing these past weeks. My breath has been taken away, not from the lack of oxygen at 12000′ (yet it could have a small part in it) but from the beauty at every turn!

My friend Atsuko has joined me and is sharing this amazing trail with me for the next 150 miles. I have so enjoyed her company and having someone who is just as overjoyed to see Gods handiwork as me. Leaving Kennedy Meadows we encountered our first water source, the mighty Kern River. It is so powerful yet there are tubs that you can soak in and wash away your cares. I found a natural jacuzzi with bubbles and a perfect seat to rest in while my body was massaged from head to toe

 Everyday has been a journey of getting deeper in my relationship with Jesus. He has given me this enormous strength to get over tall mountains and cover long distances. As I headed north, it became apparent that the altitude was not the only obstacle but the weather was quite unpredictable! Daily we had snow flurries, mostly in the afternoon, which is a blessing compared to rain. Our first task was getting over Forester Pass 13118′ which is the highest point on the PCT. We went to sleep with snow on the ground, and woke to frost on our tents and very cold temperatures  This amounted to a perfect ascent day as we stayed cool and never overheated! The climb was gradual until the last false summit. Then we truly had to dig deep to get to the top. I am deathly afraid of heights so when we came around the last bend and the trail was blocked with a snowy cornice, I was ready to head back to the desert! Atsuko, my trail partner and super hero, plowed her way over a boulder field and guided me safely to the top. 

  Needless to say, God was with us every step of the way. Once over the tallest and most technical pass, we had snow fields that obliviated the trail. Fortunately there were many foot prints that guided our route and with the help of micro spikes, we made it slowly off the mountain. It snowed again that afternoon as we arrived in camp, cold and wet.

   Most thru-hikers resupply by exiting the Sierra’s by way of Kearsarge Pass. It takes you down to Onion Valley, off trail seven miles with a 4000′ descent. Atsuko’s husband Curt and friend Steve volunteered to resupply us. They made the ascent up Kearsarge Pass and met us at Kearsarge Lakes with all the food we needed for the next 100 miles. Needless to say, we were the envy of all the thru-hikers! I asked if they would be willing to be our Sherpas all the way to Canada? I’m still waiting for a reply but it’s not looking hopeful.

 Loaded with ten pounds or more of food but very grateful for our provisions,  we slowly trudged towards Glen Pass 11946′. We had been warned that this pass was, let’s just say, a bit sketchy. With the recent snowfall, the north facing slope was covered in snow. The approach was arduous but just place one foot in front of the other and you do make progress. As we stopped for one of our many breaks, we heard what sounded like thunder. Never a welcome sound as you reach a summit! As I looked to the east, I could see dust building as this gigantic rock fall had been activated. We watched in awe as boulders the size of cars were tumbling down the steepest slope towards a huge boulder field below us. Once again, we were protected as we were safely on the opposing slope observing this force of nature. After a good minute or two. the dust settled, the earth stopped shaking, and we carried on to the top of the pass.

 Prayer is a mighty and powerful thing! I am rest assured that I do not have to do this alone, but as I was flubbing my way down this mountain of snow and ice, I know Jesus was with me every step of the way. Not a scratch or a twisted ankle came my way and before I knew it, Atsuko and I were back on solid ground looking over the Rae Lakes basin.  If you have never been here, know that there is not another area so beautiful as this with the magestic mountains in every direction, the beautiful meadows that adorn this place, the crystal clear waters that house trout swimming in all directions, and the curious critters, marmots, chipmunks and picas looking for their next tasty morsel of grass, pine nut or occasional scrap left behind by a hiker. It is definitely heaven on earth. 
During the next week, we summited a peak a day. Pinchot Pass 12142′,  Mather Pass 12000′, Muir Pass 11789′ with snow on both north and south faces for a total of three miles, Seldon Pass 11898′ and finally Silver Pass 10910′. Each one had its own set of obstacles and rewards but as we continued north, I knew the awesome mountain scales were just a memory. I am definitely without a doubt a true sucker for tall mountains! There is something to behold when you are atop a wondrous force of nature, that allows you to lose your breath by the sheer magic of its’ beauty! Mountains make my heart beat like nothing else! One of God’s best creations, in my eyes, are the mountains that surround this trail. 

  As I bidded farewell to my friend Atsuko, I was back in my element of listening and meditating more with the Lord. When I left Reds Meadow, I had the option to take the direct PCT route or the revered JMT route that has much more elevation but has amazing access to lakes, rivers & waterfalls. So of course, JMT won out! As I left Reds Meadow in the morning, I met a nice hiker named Noah who just wanted to talk. Being the trail ambassador, I obliged and we shared many hiker stories. I moved on and met a young gal on the trail who was overwhelmed with all the trail was dishing out. I stopped and offered her a hug and shared some of my insight of the trail and we both laughed and carried on. God was everywhere from the people I met to the amazing beauty. As I was headed up to Garnet Lake, there were these color prisms that were reflecting off the clouds. I had never seen anything so spectacular that I shared it with others on the trail. They had not even looked up to see this Godly phenomenon. 

  My final day as I hiked into Tuolumne was sheer delight. It was day 18 without a zero day! I was totally exhausted but with the helping hand of Jesus, somehow, someway I made it up and over Donahue Pass and safely arrived at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge for beer and potato chips! Then my dear friends, Judi and Dee arrived with peaches, oranges and more beer! They know me, oh so well.

  So what did I learn from these past weeks? So much! But what God kept putting on my heart was community. He has introduced me to an amazing group of believers on the trail. Hikers I can pray with, share my heart with and love like family. I realized that wherever you are, in your neighborhood, outside your front door, at work or church, in your yoga studio or on the trail, there is always a place for us to share love and receive love. My community on the trail is young and old, likeminded and not, but what we all have in common is we love nature. We know that something great happens when we experience a place that is so remote, somewhat  inhabitable yet we still venture out and take a chance, knowing that we are never truly alone. God protects us and brings us together. He knew we would need each other and He also knew, we would be there at this moment! I just love that about our Lord. He has ordained every day of our lives and has placed people into our path. It’s our responsibility to make the most of each encounter and to be Godlike. I am thoroughly embracing my new position as a trail ambassador. Smile at everyone you meet, take every opportunity to help others and shine Gods love! Easy Peasy…can’t wait for what’s next. 

  The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in the sun-scorched lands and will strengthen your frame. He will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows 

I have officially completed the first section of the PCT, 702 miles of desert. It took me 50 days to hike from Campos to Kennedy Meadows but it seems like a lifetime when I look back and realize how many steps I have taken, the mountain tops I have conquered, the countless cacti and lizards I’ve communed with and the numerous friendships I have made.           

Leaving Tehachapi was bittersweet. My incredible husband and best friend George, along with my amazing dog wonder Zack, visited me and whisked me away to Las Vegas. George’s brother Sergio and my aunts and uncles Darle and Gerry, Gil and Ronnie all live there. What a memorable time we had together with our family but especially Sergio. He was recently diagnosed with liver cancer and thank God, we were able to spend three days with him, listening to stories of his life before coming to America, bowling a perfect game of 300, looking at his collection of minted coins, reminiscing of his lifetime hopes and dreams, but most special to my heart was his love for Jesus Christ! For the past ten years, he collected food from local stores & markets for the homeless and needy, then delivered and handed it out at his church daily! He had such a servants heart and I was so blessed by hearing his love for the community and the people that God so loves.  Sergio went to be with our Father in heaven while I was hiking my final miles in the desert. I will always remember that morning as one of the most peaceful days on the trail. The birds were just waking, the sun started to appear and the dew on the desert schrubbery was ever so present. I was speaking to God not knowing the fate of Sergio but I did ask if he was with our Lord, to help me finish these last miles with strength and fortitude. And I did finish injury free and quite strong!   

These last miles in the desert were a great reminder of the trail in its entirety. The day I left Tehachapi was the epic climb. All the hikers were talking about leaving early trying to beat the heat while giving themselves plenty of time to get up the pass. So in perfect disbelief, I left at 11am. Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be. But the wind, now that was a different story! Have you ever tried climbing a trail but the wind is blowing in your face so hard that you literally are standing still? Or better yet, you are walking uphill and you get a force of wind that hits your back so unexpectantly that it actually pushes you to the ground? Just imagine that for your first day back on the trail in five days. Oh the joys of a thru-hiker. And the power of our mighty God! 
Fortunately the wind did not last and finally I was able to have the true experience of hiking in the desert. The tempatures rose to the nineties, the water was nowhere to be found, along with the obvious fact that it was bloody hot and I was incredibly thirsty! We had a section of trail that was predicted to be waterless for over 40 miles. So what do you do? You carry as much water as you possible can and your pack is much heavier than it should be. But this is the wonderous PCT which means incredible trail magic is about to occur. A young thru- hiker Shutterbug’s dad, who I named Nomad Maxx, has been following his son along the trail. Any hiker who is in the bubble that surrounds Shutterbug which includes myself, is privy to the gallons of water that Nomad Maxx is providing. Needless to say, he has single handedly saved hikers from unbearable thirst, possible dehydration and certain death! Well maybe not death, but definite passing out. Along with water, he leaves the most juicy & crunchy apples along the trail with an occasional treat for me (Lindor chocolate) melted but tasty just the same! 

Outside the heat and waterless stretches, I have embraced all this glorious desert. The beauty as they say is in the eyes of the beholder. But anyone who has experienced a sunrise from the desert floor or a sunset on top of a ridgeline understands what I speak of. I had many times I was stopped in my footsteps just to admire the scenery. When I think that God first created this with His mere breath, when He spoke “let there be light and there was light” just boggles my mind. The fact that He created this beautiful and inspiring magesty for us to experience, to live and explore, seems a tragedy not to be walking through! When I lay in my tent and gaze up to the stars and He knows everyone of them by name, countless and numerous stars and galaxies that are still being created, it’s no wonder there are so many people hitting the trails.  

 As I finished my last few steps in this desert section, I think of Gods mighty strength and love for all of His creation. My lesson learned this week is the most important of all and that is faith. Just as I sit in my tent and write this I think of the fact that God always provides! When I was tired and knocked down by the wind, He picked me up and carried me to my next destination, appropriately just outside the Wind Farm. When I was wondering how I was going to carry enough water for two plus day of hiking, he brought Nomad Maxx with a carload of water! When I was on my last breath and wasn’t sure how much more I could travel, He painted the most inspiring sunset which made me forget how much my feet just wanted to rest. And near the end of the desert, this amazing couple Chief and Chief’s wife set up their trailer and provided foot baths for all the weary hikers that came hobbling in! Why does God do this? So we know Him and trust in Him and realize that we do not have to do it alone! With faith, all things are truly possible including hiking 702 miles in the desert!    

“I know what it is like to be in need and I know what it is like to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in every or any situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything in Him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:12-13

A final note. I am now entering “The Sierras” and there will be no internet for possibly two to three weeks! Therefore my blog will be on hold till I search out a connection. I would love for you to pray for the safety of myself and my many trail companions as we attack the numerous high elevated passes. There has been many late storms as of May and much needed accumulation of snow. It will truly be an experience of a lifetime and know that God will protect and provide. Godspeed and keep the faith!