Gear updates for the CDT and other fun things

Now that my book is published, I’ve finally started getting ready for the CDT, which is awesome. Organizing and assembling 2,800 miles’ worth of resupply boxes feels like a peaceful vacation after the process of publishing a book. If you ever want a stressful thing to feel more relaxing, just do an even more stressful thing first. Ha! But also this is my third thru-hike, so at this point I’ve got the organizational aspect pretty figured out. I could sit on the floor portioning dried spinach into ziploc bags while listening to “atmospheric” spotify stations for days. Much relax. So soothe.

Fun things to share:

I wrote this piece for The Guardian about women and long-distance hiking- 2,660 miles across the wilderness

I’ve updated my gear a bit this year, for the CDT. Here are the things that are new/different-

Fully loaded amongst the daffodils

Jeppak V2 Plus Pack this is a sweet 22 ounce, 35ish liter framed pack. The straps are super padded, it has a roll-top closure, I can reach the water bottles in the side pockets, it’s well-constructed and aesthetically pleasing, the hipbelt pockets aren’t overbuilt- it’s everything I need and want in a pack. So far I’ve taken it on a weekend trip from Timberline Lodge to Cascade Locks, and it was so comfortable I kept forgetting I was wearing it. Total dream pack. Jeppaks are made in the USA, totally custom, and priced similarly to other cottage company packs. I can’t recommend them enough!

deuce-in-a-row-small

Deuce of spades trowel, .6 ounces I am not proud of some of the cat holes I dug on the PCT last year. While I know it’s possible to create a quality cat hole with a rock, or a stick, or a trekking pole, I’ve learned that it’s much easier to have an actual trowel along so you can just dig the damn thing. This year on the CDT I’m on a mission- I am going to dig the best cat holes than anyone has ever dug, anywhere! It is my personal challenge- no matter how steep/rocky/compact the terrain, no matter how badly I have to take a shit, I am going to create the most incredible tidy holes in which to make my deposit. I invite you to take up this challenge for yourself as well, dear reader! The Perfect Cat Hole Challenge! There should be, like, a girlscout badge for this.

Stick pic with phone adapter, fisheye lens for my phone, 1.5 ounces- There are far fewer people on the CDT than the PCT, so it’s likely that I’ll be solo for more of it. I’ve been lookin’ at instagram, and people have these selfie-stick fisheye selfies from, like, the summit of Mount Hood at sunrise right before they snowboard down… I would like to recreate this effect while bushwhacking in the desert. So I got a stick pic with a phone adapter, which is a little doohickey that turns your trekking pole into a selfie stick for your phone, and I got an inexpensive fisheye lens. WATCH OUT, INSTAGRAM!

Patagonia nano-puff jacket, 11 ounces- on the CDT I carried a Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash Jacket, aka an ultralight down puffy. It was warm, but down is sketchy when it’s wet, and I don’t like hypothermia. So this year I’m bringing a synthetic puffy. The nano-puff is a few ounces heavier, but I think I’ll be glad to have it during those forty-degree rainstorms that happen in the desert in springtime and at high elevations in the summer.

Speaking of gear and other things that are nice, I found more excellent hiking blogs for you!

Katherine is on the Hayduke Trail

Tik-Tok is on the Appalachian Trail

She-ra is on the Continental Divide Trail

Also! Some folks who hiked the PCT last year are coming out with a documentary, called Do More With Less. Below is the trailer, if you haven’t seen it. People make great trail docs every year, but there’s something about this one that really stands out to me. It’s not full of hyperbole, and it’s not a montage of beard selfies (altho those are great). You can tell that the dudes who made it are super talented and put a huge amount of work into it, and it portrays, more accurately than any trail doc I’ve seen, the actual literal feel of a PCT thru-hike. The full documentary will be released (for free!) in early May, and you can follow the facebook page for updates here.

Two day offer: a signed paper copy of Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart

I got the proof for the paper version of my book in the mail today- the proof is the thing you look over to check for errors and make sure everything looks good before ordering the final copies of the book. I was feeling apprehensive about this part of the process- while it’s one thing to publish an ebook, which can be sold for cheap and easily edited (I’ve already fixed a number of typos, yay!) it’s another thing to commit a book to actual paper that was made from a tree that lived in the forest and was then cut down. And ink. And packaging. And shipping. And what if the finished product looks sort of amateurish? What do I know about publishing? Who am I to make a physical book? The only reason I went through with making a paper copy at all is because I owe about 300 signed copies to my crowdfunding backers.

And then today the proof came in the mail, and it looks fucking amazing.

Just a real book existing casually in the springtime

Just a real book existing casually in the springtime

.

Just a nice looking back cover with some stars and an ISBN

Just a nice looking back cover with some stars and an ISBN

The cover design works perfectly. The interior layout is aesthetically appealing. The spine and the binding look nice. It has an ISBN and a barcode. The cover is matte.

Basically, it’s a book. I made a book. A real book. That looks like any other real book. That you would see in a bookstore.

A handful of people who weren’t part of the crowdfunding campaign for this book back in the day have emailed me asking how they can get a signed copy of the book. I was all, “Sorry but the paper version won’t be available until next winter!” But the book looks much better than I expected, and I realized that since I’m already ordering 300 copies, I might as well order some extras for other people who want a signed copy. So if you’d like a signed paper copy, use the button below. Make sure your paypal shipping address is current. Shipping is included in the price. U.S. orders only please! (for now.) I’m putting in the order on Thursday, so you’ve only got two days. I’ll sign and ship your order out with everyone else’s, and you should receive it the first part of May.

UPDATE: Orders are now closed.

CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TRAIL OMG

source: gorp.com

source: gorp.com

The Continental Divide Trail runs 2,800(ish) miles along the spine of the US, from the Mexican border in New Mexico to the Canadian border in Glacier National Park, Montana. The CDT is only partly “finished”, which means that a good chunk of the route is jeep roads and cross-country navigation. Hiking the CDT is a bit like what I imagine hiking the PCT was like in the seventies- wild, remote, arduous, not a lot of trail or infrastructure. Sections of the CDT have various “alternates”, so the trail varies in length from 2,800 to 3,100 miles, depending on how you hike it. My intention is to have the “full CDT experience,” so I’ll take the most scenic and challenging routes available to me. I also hate (paved) road walking.

The saying for the CDT is “Embrace the brutality.” I start the trail May 5. I’ll write a blog post for each day, and you can see those posts by clicking the “Home” tab in the menu. You can see my gear list for the CDT by clicking the “gear” tab. I’ll be using Guthook’s CDT app on my phone for navigation, as well as Jonathan Ley’s paper maps.

I imagine that my biggest challenge, on the CDT, will be the solitude. Although I’m starting with three friends from the PCT 2013 (Spark, Track Meat and MeHap), I’m not sure yet what our hiking styles will be like and whether or not they’ll be compatible. The more I hike, the more I figure out how it is that I like to hike, and the less I want to compromise for other people. Only a few hundred people attempt to thru-hike the CDT each year, compared to over a thousand on the PCT. This means that if I don’t end up hiking with the people I’m starting with, odds are that I’ll be hiking solo for much of the trail. I don’t have a lot of experience hiking solo- on the PCT I made friends both years, and although I’ve never had a hiking “partner,” it would be ridiculous to say that I was solo- there were only a handful of nights each year that I camped alone. Although my only experience with cross-country navigation was on the L2H, that part doesn’t scare me- I loved the navigational aspect and I’m stoked to do more of it! The solitude of the CDT is definitely the thing that is newest/most intimidating for me. Time to face more of my fears. YAY!

NOTE: If you haven’t heard from me in a couple of weeks, this does not mean that I have died. On the CDT I’ll go long stretches without cell service, and I’ll also be conserving my battery. I’ll be saving the daily posts to the app on my phone, and I’ll upload them when service is available. Expect up to two weeks between blog posts. I’ll also be scheduling my blogs at least four days behind, for my own privacy and safety on the trail. Which brings us to…

Do not ever, under any circumstances, come “find me” on the trail without my consent. Last year, on the PCT, two male blog readers tracked me down in the middle of the woods without my consent. While both dudes were ultimately well-meaning, they were seemingly oblivious to the fact that their behavior was incredibly, incredibly creepy and inappropriate. It is never, ever ok to track down a stranger from the internet in the middle of the wilderness without her consent. Ever. If you do this while I’m on the CDT, I will call the police. If I don’t have cell reception I’ll wait until I do, and then I will call the police and file a report against you.

Even if you have watermelon.

Let’s go hiking!

Also! The CDT is still a work in progress and needs our help. Click here to donate to the Continental Divide Trail Coalition.

Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart: the book

thru hiking will break your heart

Boom! My book is available on Amazon.

Two years of work to make this 390 page adventure tale that I’ve looked at so much I no longer have any idea if it’s any good or not.

Check it out on Amazon here- Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart

Also, Amazon makes a free kindle app that will allow you to read the book on any screen- free kindle app

This book is the story of my 2013 PCT thru-hike; as such, if you’ve read my journal from that year, you already know most of the plot twists. It is, however, heavily edited and polished to make for extra-pleasant reading flow and there is a dash of backstory and more character development and even a romance (or two). I chose to focus on just my 2013 thru-hike because there is nothing like the wonder and beauty of a person’s first long-distance trail, and I wanted to preserve some of that.

If I owe you a paper copy of the book, you should’ve gotten an email/update from me in the last day or so. If you received no such email/update, please email me directly at carrotquinn4@gmail.com. You should receive your physical copy in the mail by May 5.

If I owe you a digital copy of the book, you’ll receive an email within the next week with details on how to download yours.

As for everyone else, the book is available on Amazon as an ebook for now. I’ll make the paper version available to the general public this fall, after I return from hiking season. I’m doing this because I have a terrible fear, even though I had editing help, that there are typos that I missed. (If you find a typo, please email me at carrotquinn4@gmail.com.) (update: I’ve fixed some typos. Thank you!) I can easily update the ebook file in the fall and fix any typos I find, which will also update everyone’s downloaded copies, but paper copies are not so easily fixed, especially while I’m on the trail.

Don’t fret tho. The ebook version is inexpensive, which is cool. It also uses no paper, weighs nothing, and as I mentioned above, Amazon makes a free kindle app that will allow you to read it on any screen. Get the app here- kindle app

After you’ve read the book, if you feel like you’ve gotten something from it, please leave me an honest review on the book’s Amazon page- Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart

The more reviews the book has, the more visible it will be on Amazon, and the better chance it will have of surviving Amazon’s internal algorithms.

There are a lot of great thru-hiking memoirs out there, and I’m excited to add mine to the canon. And… to move on to something else. For the love of god.

I start the 2,800 mile Continental Divide Trail on May 5. I’ll write a blog post for each day that I’m on the trail. As exhausting as it is, I love blogging while I’m on the trail. There’s nothing like it! I’m excited to share this trail will y’all.

Next winter I’ll likely work on my next book, which has nothing to do with hiking. The book is about riding freight trains, and the irreconcilable contradictions of the universe, and learning to forgive my mother. Also about growing up in poverty in Alaska, and Catholicism, and the inherent/inherited tendencies of goodness/evil. And just generally about how really bad shit can happen and there’s not any reason for it. But also beauty. And is suffering inherently beautiful? Etc. The book is called The Sunset Route.

Enjoy this hiking book, y’all. I hope it’s escapist for you, and makes you stay up past your bedtime, and maybe even makes you cry a little bit (in a good way).

So many exciting announcements and things to share

So this is happening:

breakyourheart2

My book cover is finished! The design is by the incomparable Alejandra Wilson. Alejandra hiked the PCT in both 2013 and 2014, and she’s also an incredible cartoonist. You can check out her amazing comics here.

The cover is done, I’m in the final stages of copy editing/content editing/book formatting. Everything is starting to feel super duper real, and that both excites me and fills me with anxiety and dread. This will be the first time I’ve ever published a full length manuscript, and I’m doing it myself. I only hope that the book, when it comes out in April, doesn’t suck. That is my one hope.

Screenshot

A few weeks ago wordpress tweeted a link to my Cat Power post, and as a result I gained about 600 new followers. Welcome! I rarely write about my romantic life online, but when I do, and people respond to it, I’m reminded how universally relatable those experiences can be. I share so many parts of myself online but my dating life has always felt too private to blog about, like something I want to protect. Something that belongs to me. While it may seem as though I overshare with wild abandon here on the good ol internets, anyone with experience blogging or writing memoir understands what strong boundaries and emotional level-headedness it takes to be vulnerable in this way. Basically, this blog is a performance. It’s art. Just like all memoir. It’s not me. Actually, I’ve been told by a handful of people who read my blog before becoming friends with me that I’m really different in person than I am online. In person I’m blunt, funny, calm, level-headed, loyal, honest, grumpy and somewhat introverted. I don’t drink and I hate small talk, so I’m miserable at parties. I focus on one thing at a time to the point of obsession, so I usually only want to hang out with people who also want to do or talk about that thing. Right now I’m interested in self-publishing and long-distance hiking. You want to hang out? Ha ha.

That being said, during my PCT hike in 2013 I had one of the most epic romances of my entire life. I carefully edited it out of my blog at the time with a sort of literary photoshop, changing key details so that my readers wouldn’t know what was happening. Luckily for you, however, I feel like this trailmance adds an incredible amount to the story of my 2013 hike, and so I worked it back into second draft, using the journal I kept on the trail. Epic trailmance, for me, may not belong on my real-time blog, but in a book? Fuck yeah!

Makin’ out in the woods. So my book has that going for it, if nothing else.

Speaking of being in the woods, hiking season has started again (yay spring!) and there are already some really, really good blogs by hikers doing super cool trails. These blogs, when I can’t be on the trail myself, are like my favorite thing in the world. #1 best off-season entertainment, hands down. Here are a bunch that I’ve been super stoked on-

Jason Reamy is hiking the AT northbound, after which he’ll hike the CDT southbound. His blog so far is super good. I’m hooked! He’s also on instagram here.

My friend Lia (trail name Babytooth) is starting the PCT in a month. She’ll be keeping a video blog, which is cool- video trail journals aren’t that common. I also happen to think she’s super funny. You can also follow Lia on instagram here.

Desert trails! Three of the desert trails I’m most interested in right now are the Arizona Trail, the Hayduke trail and the Grand Enchantment Trail. And right now there’s an awesome blogger on each one! INTERNETZ, WE ARE SO SPOILED.

Sheriff Woody is thru-hiking the Arizona Trail. Sheriff woody is a plant and reptile genius. He also picks up snakes. You can also check out his instagram here.

Wired is thru-hiking the Hayduke Trail. Wired’s blogs are super informative, almost like guidebooks. The info she puts online is invaluable.

Chance is about to start the Grand Enchantment Trail. This is the one I’d like to do the most. The route was developed by Brett Tucker, the same guy who created the L2H, and if it’s anything like the L2H it’ll be a wonderfully challenging tour of magical desert landscapes and enchanted water sources. I can’t wait to read about it!

Speaking of the L2H, the other day I stumbled upon the blog of Christy “Rockin'” Rosander, who is about to set out on the L2H with her husband. They start March 28th! Rockin’ will be blogging about the journey, which is super cool. There are so few trip reports online about the L2H, I’m really excited that there’s going to be a new one. And that I get to hike the trail again vicariously, via her blog.

One last exciting thing- I have a Q&A in the current issue of Brink Magazine, wherein I talk about long-distance hiking. This entire issue was written and photographed by women, and features all women. There are interviews with so many amazing people in this issue, I’m still sort of stunned and honored that I got to take part in it at all. Check it out, if you haven’t already.

From the magazine's instagram: The cover - shot on International Women's Day - is a homage to the 1965 Esquire cover by George Lois featuring Virna Lisi that debuted 50 years ago this month. The intent for our cover is equality. Period. The cover, the issue, the intent is that something like this issue should be the norm.

From the magazine’s instagram: “The cover – shot on International Women’s Day – is a homage to the 1965 Esquire cover by George Lois featuring Virna Lisi that debuted 50 years ago this month. The intent for our cover is equality. Period. The cover, the issue, the intent is that something like this issue should be the norm.”

Basically I Eat Potato Chips: Thru-Hiking With The Most Common Food Intolerances

chips

I know that some people think that food intolerances aren’t real. But if I eat gluten, dairy or soy I shit my brains out, and I know I’m not alone in this. Lots of people can’t properly digest one or more of these things. Having diarrhea on the trail makes hiking pretty hard, and I’ve figured out a way to eat while long-distance hiking that works for me. So maybe this information will be helpful for you!

(Side note- no-one knows why so many people can’t digest gluten, and why there are more gluten-intolerant people every day. But there are some new theories.)

(Other side note- I feel like an asshole telling people I’m “allergic to things”, so I just say I’m a really picky eater.)

More about my eating style: I don’t carry a stove when I hike. Instead I carry a screw-top ziploc container (I’ve also used a plastic peanut butter jar) and cold-soak my two meals in this.

looks like this

looks like this

I’m a woman. I’m 5’7”. I weigh about 140 lbs. I need about 3500 calories a day to hike 25 to 35 mile days with around 5k feet of elevation gain per day. If it’s cold during the day or there’s more elevation gain I need more food.

Fatty food has the most calories per ounce, as fat has 9 calories a gram vs. carbs and protein, which have 4 calories a gram. So the more fat in your trail food, the lighter your trail food will be. Fat will also help keep you warm/help you sleep warm. That being said, I also need a good amount of carbs while hiking as these are easiest for my body to convert to glucose and digest while I walk. I try not to mainline sugar ala candy bars and gummy peach rings as these things make me crash hard later in the day, but I do end up getting a decent amount of sugar from bars. I also require protein to hike. Basically I require everything, constantly and in great quantities.

I choose trail foods that average around 120 calories/ounce. This means I carry about two pounds of food per day.

I eat two things while on the trail: meals and snacks.

There are two meals.

Meal A consists of oatmeal cold-soaked in water with chia seeds and pea, brown rice or hemp protein powder. This is my #1 favorite thing to eat on the trail, hands down. It somehow manages to be filling, nourishing and hydrating all in one. I eat this meal once or twice a day.

chia magic

chia magic

Meal B consists of one of the trifecta of instant legumes that can be found in bulk bins in health-food stores across the US- instant refried beans, instant curried lentil soup, or instant black bean soup. This I cold-soak in my ziploc container with dried spinach and freeze-dried peas, bought cheap in bulk from northbaytrading.com. I eat the resulting sludge with tortilla chips. It tastes ok. I eat this meal before bed and it makes me fart like crazy and gives me just enough calories to live through the night.

The rest of my calories come from snacks. I stuff snacks into my hipbelt pockets and eat them about once an hour while I walk, and during breaks. My snacks are thus:

Chips, my favorites of which include, but are not limited to: tortilla chips, dal mix, snap pea crisps, bugles, banana chips, gluten free honey-mustard pretzels (yes these are a thing now, and it is amazing), lays potato chips, ruffles potato chips, salt n’ vinegar potato chips, barbecue potato chips, sweet potato chips, those “vegetable chips” which are really potato chips with a little spinach powder to make them green.

To make the chips fit in my pack I open the bag, squish the air out and smash them a little.

Bars. I look for bars that have less than 15 grams of sugar each and some protein that’s not soy or dairy. If it fits those requirements, I may not like it but I’ll eat it. Most often I eat alt bars, probars (the shop n’ kart in Ashland always has them on sale), nature valley granola bars, lara bars and whatever rando bars I find in the hiker box that look like they’ve been sat on.

I also eat salami (on GF bread when I can find it), jerky, sunflower butter, dark chocolate, caffeinated jelly beans and caffeinated cliff shot blocks.

I am burnt out on all nuts, dried fruit and all nut butters except for sunflower butter.

I take a quality multivitamin every day.

On the PCT in 2013 I had leg cramps that kept me up at night so after that hike I queried some ultra-runners via a forum on facebook and they told me to take powdered magnesium before bed. In 2014 I brought along this stuff called Natural Vitality Calm, which is a powdered magnesium that you mix with water and which tastes sort of citrusy, and it fixed my leg cramps.

chips

Electrolytes are important. I’m a fan of Power Pak, which is like emergen-c with salt in it.

chips

I obviously send myself a lot of boxes on the trail. They don’t have to be big boxes tho- the chips and oatmeal and bars and salami, etc, I can often find in stores. I ship myself the harder to find stuff- protein powder, instant legume soups, chia seeds, supplements, etc.

In town, of course, I eat whatever the fuck I want. And then I shit my brains out.

Breakfast

Breakfast in Mt. Shasta- bacon cheeseburger, fries and a huckleberry shake.

Setback City

I went to the dentist on Monday. I’d put off going for over a year, but recently I’ve been having some molar pain that I could no longer ignore. At the dentist I learned that one molar is significantly decayed, to the point that it is full of, ah, gross decomposing food, and that the another is deeply cracked. I need two crowns, each one costing $1100.

This was a huge bummer to learn. I can’t put this dental work off any longer, and paying for the crowns means using money from my CDT fund, which means I wouldn’t be able to hike the CDT.

The 2,800 mile Continental Divide Trail is wilder, more arduous, and longer than the PCT. There is less water, less trail, more inclement weather, and much more overland navigation. Only a few dozen people thru-hike the CDT each year, compared to several hundred on the PCT. Hiking the CDT feels, I imagine, a little like what it must’ve felt like to hike the PCT in the seventies. The saying for the CDT is “Embrace the Brutality”.

Aside from the Lowest to Highest Route, I have never hiked a “trail” this wild. I have maps, shoes, and all of my gear. I’m so excited to hike I can hardly stand it. But my teeth are totally fucked.

However!

You, dear reader, can send me to hike the CDT.

I currently have 2,400 blog followers- if each person following my blog contributed $1, I’d instantly be able to get the crowns I need, and hike the CDT, and blog about it for you.

I’m going to call that crowdfunding magic.

I made a crowdfunding page- Carrot on the CDT.

Why do this?

Because you’re curious about the CDT and you want to read what I’m going to write. Because you believe in me. Because the lack of access to affordable dental care in this country sux.

As thanks, I promise to write one blog post for every single day I’m on the trail. No matter how tired, sunburnt, hungry, or vaguely hypothermic I am. One blog post for each day, all for you.

ARE YOU SO EXCITED!

You can help make this happen.

Sometimes I make things in Paint when I'm bummed

GET PUMPED

Other news: The book is coming along very, very well. It’s on track to be released in April. I feel excited/nervous about having this book out there in the world. One of the things that makes me most nervous is the pressure, when self-publishing, to put out a really high-quality end product. Even though I have a lot of help- editing, proofreading, cover design- in the end the final responsibility is all on me, as I’m the “publisher”. Self publishing requires that a person wear a lot of different hats, and so I’m learning a lot and being forced to grow in various painful ways. The publishing world is changing right now on a massive scale, and most of the things we were taught, as writers, about publishing are no longer true. Everything, at the moment, is new- and as a result there is no-one to mentor me, no-one or show me which way to go. There are, however, a lot of other writers figuring it out for themselves and creating really quality work, and sharing information about how to do this online. As a result I oscillate between feeling sorry for myself because I’m coming of age as a writer in a time when no large stable institutions are able to help me, and feeling unbelievably pumped and inspired because the gatekeepers are dead and there is absolutely no limit to what I can do or how awesome my work can be. There are good days and hard days.

A whole other game begins once my book is on Amazon. I get to “compete” with traditionally published works for visibility, which is no small job, and among other things I am guaranteed at least one scathing one-star review solely for using the F-word. This is a phenomenon that is unique, as far as I can tell, to Amazon. A friend and I once decided that this is because there’s a fold in the space/time continuum that allows folks in the nineteenth century to shop for books on Amazon. These people are so scandalized by swear words that they practically die of shock. They are hardly able to type. I’ll post the review here when I get it.

Overall, though, I’m just really excited to share this book. It’s like a little creature I’m releasing into the wild, and once I let it go I can never take it back. What is even going to happen?

And I can’t want to hike the CDT, and share it with you. I’m excited like whoa. The deserts of New Mexico, the wild San Juan mountains in Colorado, magical Wyoming and Idaho and Montana. I want to walk over all of these places with all of the inclement weather and sleep on the ground every night.

So excited about everything right now.

UPDATE:

WOW. This campaign is already funded. I’m at a loss for words. I literally can’t believe that I get to hike the CDT AND fix my teeth. Like it literally seems unbelievable. Hopefully in a few hours this will seem more real! I set the campaign originally for 15 days, so anything over the original goal that’s raised in that time will go towards dried veggies and protein powder for my resupply boxes. And a new rain jacket. Thank you so  much to everyone who’s followed my blog over the years, and helped make it possible for me to hike and write. You all have no idea! I’m really looking forward to writing about the CDT for you all. Let’s go hiking!!

-Carrot

Exciting updates from the springtime world

Magnolias in bloom

Magnolias in bloom

First thing: There’s a Q&A with me in the upcoming issue of Brink Magazine, wherein I talk about long-distance hiking. This issue, out on March 17, features all women and is written and photographed entirely by women. It’s going to be good, and you can pre-order it here.

Second thing: My new pack came in the mail today!

YAY

YAY

My pack on the CDT this year will be a custom prototype from JepPaks. JepPaks is Sam and his wife Katy, who live in LA and have a passion for designing ultralight gear:

Sam and Katy

Sam and Katy

Sam was wonderful in helping me envision the custom ultralight framed pack of my dreams. I’m beyond stoked to put some miles on this pack on the CDT, and to provide feedback that will help them develop their prototypes. Before agreeing to work with this company, I thought hard about whether the ethics of the company aligned with my own, and they do. JepPaks is a small cottage company that truly embodies the spirit of DIY. Sam and Katy genuinely love designing gear and turning custom pack ideas into reality- Sam and I shot many excited emails back and forth during the process, nerding out on small details of the pack. JepPaks makes their packs in the US. We have respectful, professional communication. It feels really, really good to work with them.

About the pack: This is a framed pack with a volume of 32L, not including the outside mesh pocket. I’d guess that including the outside mesh pocket would put the volume at about 35L, which is the exact perfect size for me for the CDT- I can easily carry four days of food in there along with all my gear. The frame is an aluminum stay. The construction is super solid. The pack is made of blue 140d Dyneema reinforced nylon, with a 70d Silnylon extension collar, and seems plenty durable without being overbuilt. The shoulder straps are padded in a beefy way, and also wide. The closure system is roll-top, aka THE BEST. There is a padded hip-belt. The whole pack weighs in at 22 oz, making it the lightest non-cuben-fiber framed pack that I know of. This is so cool!

Fully loaded amongst the daffodils

Fully loaded amongst the daffodils

One super neat detail about this pack is the hipbelt pockets. The zippers on both hipbelt pockets of the pack I carried on the PCT in 2014 blew out somewhere in the desert, and I ended up carrying the pack this way for over a thousand miles. I realized during this time that I didn’t actually NEED zippers on my hipbelt pockets, and that it was faster to pull things in and out when the zippers were open. So I asked Sam if he could make hipbelt pockets that were “open at the top with maybe some elastic, just big enough and secure enough to shove some bars into while I’m walking upright” and he came up with these hipbelt pockets, which are genius-

cool pocketz

cool hipbelt pocketz

.

with barz

with barz

I chose to use a framed pack on the CDT because while I’m down to rock a frameless pack on a trail where I don’t have to carry more than two liters of water at once (such as the Florida Trail or the AT) I know that, for me, carrying a bunch of water in a frameless pack = lots of back pain, and the CDT has some long water carries. Everyone’s body is different, tho, and I know several hikers who swear by frameless packs for all conditions (like NotaChance and Jess). The cool thing about my new pack from JepPaks is that it can go either way- if I decide to take the pack on, say, the AT, I can remove the aluminum stay, turning the pack into a sweet 17oz frameless pack. If you’re still looking for a pack for the hiking season, I can’t recommend this company enough. If you’d like to order a pack like mine, shoot them an email!

I don't want to take this pack off.

I am just going to wear this until May.

Third thing: If all goes according to plan with my book, I’ll be starting the CDT on May 5th. Three other hikers (Track Meat, Spark and Mehap) and I are looking for a ride from Lordsburg, New Mexico to the Crazy Cook monument on the Mexican border that day. It’s a long, bumpy drive, and we can reimburse you for gas and your time. If this sounds like fun to you/like something you’d want to do, shoot me an email at carrotquinn4@gmail.com!

Fourth thing: Still hard at work on my book, and all the small and large details of self-publishing. Spring is here! The blossoms are exploding. There is so much possibility, I just want to be on the trail, yet there is so much to be done before then. I’ll post more updates as I have them!

Photos of my life are on instagram.

Cat Power

We were together the summer I listened to Cat Power and Dolly Parton. I was so sad that summer, so full of generalized anxiety and an unshakeable feeling that something horrible was about to happen- I still can’t listen to Jolene or a certain Cat Power album without wanting to cry. I had a little attic room, with a window that looked out at the garden. I slept in a twin bed. Sometimes in the morning I’d find small gifts on the porch that you’d left in the night- a mix CD, a picture you’d drawn. I’d bike to your house, which was narrow and dark, and we’d make vegan sushi and homemade peanut butter cups. I’d always show up late.

You called me your Young Lover, and in a lot of ways it was true- you knew what you wanted, and I didn’t. You knew who you were, and I didn’t. I existed very much as a free-form ball of energy, sometimes shiny and wonderful and sometimes awful, being pulled by everything that would pull at me, not knowing, yet, how to grab what I wanted and hold on. I think I understand, now, how it must’ve been for you. How horrible and yet magical, how ultimately tiring.

They say that solitude is the most basic human condition, and that much of our suffering in relationships comes from an expectation that the other person will somehow solve this solitude. They say that another person can relieve this solitude, but only for brief moments- they can give us a glimpse of something else, some place beyond this experience of reality. Some other, less lonely thing, that we can only see in flashes. Some place that we can not, as long as we’re alive, ever know.

I have a daydream where I’m slow-dancing with you, even though that’s not something that we ever did. I’ve got my arms around you and you still smell like drugstore roses. You’re still shorter than me, you still have the same small, beautiful, tattooed hands. And yet I can feel, even while I hold you, that I still can’t give you what you want, that I’ll never be able to.

Two years ago I apologized to you, and you accepted my apology. That felt like something. I didn’t know how to be with people, I said. I still don’t. But I’m trying.

What happens to old loves? To messy romances that were never finished, that were never meant to be finished. Are we meant to live our whole lives trailing these loose threads, their colors more tangled and indistinct with time. Is the world really a thing that’s made new each day, again and again, in spite of what we left unfinished yesterday.

I think so.

My life right now

Hello blog world! It’s been a minute. I’ve been editing my manuscript in a steadfast and masochistic way, forcing myself to sit down at my little wooden desk in the pale light of my single bedroom window for four hours each day and giving myself only about a dozen instagram breaks, and I am happy to report that I’m nearly finished with this stage. There is so much more to do after editing, but forcing myself to edit 150 thousand words, editing being something that I apparently loathe, has definitely been the hardest part. Whew! I sure am excited to share this book with you all, tho. It’s going to be a nice escapist adventure story wherein there are many descriptions of what the clouds are doing and nothing is ever, ever boring. I’ll keep you updated as things progress.

I’ve also been running uphill a lot this month, on the gated forest service road one mile from my front door that climbs up into the Syskiyou mountains. (I love living in Southern Oregon!) Running uphill is hard, but not as hard as editing!! I’m trying to work up to running seventy miles a week with a bunch of elevation gain- I’ve got a frozen gluten-free pepperoni pizza in my freezer to reward myself when I get to that point. I want that fucking pizza! I’m running to train for the Continental Divide Trail, which I start in May. My intention is to lessen the “pain curve” that happens at the beginning of a long trail- the constant pain in my joints, tendons and ligaments that I feel pretty much all day every day for the first month on the trail (and at night, too!). Right now I can feel my body getting stronger and my calves are coming back, which is cool. It sure is hard to be a jock in the off season, tho. Winter makes me want to hibernate in bed with a stack of Faulkner and all the dark chocolate that went on sale for valentine’s day.

There are other things I want to write about here before I start the CDT- but the writing part of my brain has been fried lately from all the editing. I’ll try to get it up to write some new posts in March. In the meantime, check out this trailer for a PCT documentary that a couple of talented hikers are making- I can’t stop watching it! It makes me cry. As far as long-trail documentaries go, I think this is going to be a really, really good one.

Do More With Less | Trailer from Do More With Less on Vimeo.

In other news, today I was going through a box of stuff and I found a stack of my zines from 2008. A zine is a self-published sort of xeroxed chapbook thing one makes of one’s writing to give to one’s friends and/or sell in places called “infoshops”. (Do infoshops still exist?) I wrote one issue of my zine each year- generally I would spend about two weeks regurgitating all my adventures onto paper- trains, hitchhiking, weird letters I wrote to friends from a yurt in the woods- and the thing would end up being about a hundred pages long. I started this blog in 2008 a little after publishing the third issue of my zine, and afterward abandoned the medium entirely, because blogging is free and xeroxing is expensive. (Yes, I’ve been keeping this blog since 2008 and yes there is a lot of embarrassing stuff in the archives.)

This is the last issue of my zine:

20150226_135008Most of you have no interest in one of these weird things from my past, but a few of you are freaky enough to want to read my nascent attempts at limerick writing:

20150226_135333

.

20150226_135236

And you weirdos are in luck, because I’m selling them. I have twenty copies and I’m selling them for $20 each, in order to raise my transportation funds to get to the southern terminus of the CDT.

Here’s the back cover:

20150226_135020

This issue is about 80 pages long. I’ll sign them, for what it’s worth. If you’d like a copy follow this link or click the button below to be whisked away to paypal. The cost includes shipping (of course it does! $20 is astronomical for a zine) and I’ll ship them via first class mail within a day or so of your order.

ZINE BUTTONOk, it’s time to work on my book. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to procrastinate. As you were!

(Also find me on instagram, where I gleefully post over-saturated photos of my wintertime weekend warrior adventures.)