Tales From the Trail -Amazing Grace

We got up early to head up Glen Pass. We summited and it took forever to descend the other side. What a pass! I must have said this 50 times while going up and over this pass. Covered in fist-sized chunks of granite rock, it was unrelenting. I thought about how this pass would compare if you were on a southbound or SOBO hike because this downhill side was merciless. Glen ended up being the pass that was most difficult for me.

img_5222Of course after waking in the morning, I had decided to continue on the hike. As I laid in my mummy sack the night before, I prayed and I listened. I laid it out there “God, if you want me to continue, allow that to be so. Bring healing on my feet and renew my desire to continue” I smiled remembering the great send-offs that I had with family and friends.Their encouraging words to me. They swirled around in my head. They were so motivating, so soothing, so inspiring. I knew I had lots of people praying for me, for us, every single day. For our safety and our well-being. I felt a sense of refilling when I woke up. My feet were still sore, but they felt that they were taking a turn for the better. Even the blisters that had popped up didn’t feel as sore covered in blister band-aids (Y’all, these things are AMAZING!) There were so many things God was waiting to flood me with on this journey and I knew this morning when I wok up I needed to continue.fullsizerenderimg_5223

I need to side-bar right here for just a second to tell you the power of prayer is so far-reaching, profound and real. What I did not know at the time, was the night before, after being able to talk to Greg on Kearsarge Pass, he was with our worship team at rehearsal, they always take time as a group to pray for one another and the needs of those around us. He explained the situation with my feet and as a group, they prayed for me. Of course I did not know this, but know now beyond a shadow of a doubt, THIS is why I was able to get up the next morning and continue on this hike. What a testimony of God’s healing, and his love. His promises and his mercy, grace and provision. I am SO thankful for those friends that prayed, daily for us.fullsizerender

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We camped at Woods Creek after descending Glen Pass. It’s a gorgeous area with a stream and a beautiful suspension bridge right out in the middle of the JMT/PCT. We soaked our legs, and filtered water. This was starting to become routine and we joked about “our nightly chores” Get to camp, set up our tents, have a snack, roll out our beds, filter water, wash our clothes in the creek, bathe in the same creek, eat dinner, laugh a lot, talk about the day, yoga, howl as the sun went down…and to bed! Most nights we were in bed by 7pm. Trail time changes your sleep patterns and hiking in the 90 degree heat all day at altitude takes a lot out of you. We slept when the sun went down and rose when it came up. img_5237

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Found a little trickle of water to filter.

We were packed up and left Woods Creek over the suspension bridge by 6:30am. We had 7.7 miles of climbing ahead of us to the top of Pinchot Pass. Pinchot was long with so many variations in landscape. Reds turned into grays along the way. The terrain was volcanic and Mars-like. We stopped to filter water in a spring (really just a trickle of water) before descending. We had decided that we would stop for a break and lunch at Lake Marjorie. Descending these passes would split us up a bit. Each of us descended at our own pace. We usually always stayed within eye-shot of one another, but the switchbacks along this pass didn’t afford that. K, K and I stopped at Lake Majorie and waited for J. And waited. And waited. We started to get a little concerned as we knew she wasn’t that far behind. She was nursing an injury from a few days prior and had a hard time descending due to the pounding it takes on your body. We made a plan. K would stay put at Lake Marjori, she could be a lookout along the trail lakeside and K would walk back up the pass, I would walk down looking out for J. With the steepness of the terrain it’s so easy to turn an ankle or even worse, slip off the edge. We were really concerned for her safety. We came back together and not one of us had seen her. We asked hikers along the trail if they had seen her, giving a full description of our lost hiker in either direction and no one had seen her. We saw a SAR helo flying overhead to where we were sitting, which made things much worse, but we tried to not allow fear to take root. We quickly made a plan; we knew J was smart, she’s been  hiker and this was not her first rodeo. She knows what to do in situations where we would get separated. We were however concerned about her injury and the steepness of our decent. Even the most experienced hikers can fall. We decided that K and I would hike out to South Forks Kings River together (our next campsite) and K would stay put at Lake Marjori. We decided that if we got to SFKR and she wasn’t there, we would radio SAR to start a search for her. We were pretty concerned as K an I hiked at break-neck speeds to SFKR. You cannot imagine the joy that enveloped us when we got to camp, and heard her calling out to us! She had somehow passed us on the trail as we were sitting at the lake. Thanks be to God is all I could say. Thanks be to God! We had a girls night at camp this night. SFKR is an amazing site. A wide river flows over flat rocks that fill bathtub-like pools. We were surrounded by pack horses and a mule train. The river is swift and camping next to it, with it’s sound, lulled us right to sleep after dinner.

The next morning after K joined us, we hiked out of South Forks Kings River and headed over Mather Pass. My feet seem to be healing better as I have changed up some of my routine in caring for them. No more soaking my feet at lunchtime and puting them back into my boots! We all felt like the hike was getting easier as we knew we must be finally getting our trail legs. Mather was still exhausting! It greeted us at the top with it’s gorgeous views at 12,100 feet.I wore my iPod most of the time today, just needing to drown out some noise in my head. img_5284

We camped at Palisades Lake. My most favorite of any camp on the entire trail. It’s surrounded by mountain peaks that stretch out to the sky and we all swam in the crystal clear blue waters. I could’ve stayed here for days and cannot wait to come back to this spot. It’s for us NOBO hikers, the ledge to the Golden Staircase, which we would be descending tomorrow. I felt so much of God’s presence with me today. Being out in nature and the silence of the wilderness allows for a lot of time to listen. One thing that I was hearing loud and clear was “small space, big world” I knew it was relating to the fact that G and I had decided to sell our house and downsize this year. We were ready to un-clutter and unburden our lives of “stuff” and “space” and live smaller, greener, healthier lives. We were excited to have our small space in this big world. We knew in doing so it would free up so much more time for us to be doing the things we love. Traveling more, spending less time taking care of “house stuff” devoting time to missions and music, running and yoga and just being more present and intentional with what’s important. We’ve both just felt that we don’t want to be boggled down as much to lend ourselves to whatever God has in store for us. img_5298

When we left Palisades in the morning, I was feeling so good and refreshed! We descended the Golden Staircase, which is about 600-billion (maybe not quite that many) granite stairs chiseled into the side of the mountain. We hiked 13 miles today and part way up Muir Pass before we stopped to camp. When we stopped for the night K let us know we were at 119.11 miles in, just over half way!

Passes we’ve covered so far:

Cottonwood 11,140, Guyout 10,900, Whitney 14,505, Forrester 13,160, Kearsarge 10,750 times two (up and over for resupply and back) Glen 11,926, Pinchot 12,050, Mather 12,100

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Tales From the Trail -Onion Valley, Showers and the Defeat at Glen Pass

We had a great campsite at Kearsarge Lakes. So quiet and peaceful. We heard coyotes howling on this night for the first time.img_5182

We left our tents and packs and slacked-packed over Kearsarge Pass down to Onion Valley to meet D (K’s hubby) for our first resupply. As we descended into OV, we could see him, waiting at the trailhead into the campground. I was already so overly emotional because of the pain I was in and for the first time in seven days I was able to get in communication via cell phone with G back home while coming down off of the pass. This trip was one of the longest times we have been apart without communication. (We’ve been apart longer, but always within communication) It was hard. Talking to him made things much worse! I sobbed on the phone to him! I was hurting so terribly and told him I thought I needed to be done. I had hit the wall. He was surprised. He is not used to me being in such a low spot. He has supported me through some pretty crazy endeavors and I think my crying out made him nervous and uneasy. In his usual fashion, he spoke gently and listened to my lament. This man always has a way of talking me off any ledge and he has our entire 23 years together. He knows exactly what I need to hear. He’s honest and forthright with me, and knows how to motivate me! I cried for a good 10 minutes, talking to him. I am talking SOBBING! That gross, ugly, real, hurt-your-heart kind of cry. When the time came, I told him I couldn’t hang up. I just couldn’t. I knew it was going to be about 10 days before we could have any communication again. I just could not hang up the phone! I was miserable and he was the only balm at the moment making me feel ANY better. We eventually hung up and when we saw D, I was so overjoyed! Just the site of “familiar!” Of home. He greeted us with big hugs, and when we got to his camp, home cooked breakfast burritos (be still my starving heart) and a cold, cold beer. What a reward!

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Top of Kearsarge Pass 10,750ft. We had to stop and take a pic for our friend FG back in Idaho.

 

 

We sat and reminisced with D about our experience thus far. The trials and the complete and utter beauty this country has bestowed on us. I had already decided that I was going to skip the Immediate Care. I was in way too much pain for anyone to be able to clean out the area of my feet that were torn open. If anyone was doing it, it would be me! At least I’d know what was coming. We did, however, have to go into town and find a pharmacy so I could grab the additional supplies to take care of, clean and wrap my feet. It had reached beyond what our first aid kits were capable. While contemplating where to go, us girls (while K was in the fancy restroom of the campground, i.e. meaning he wasn’t digging a cat hole) decided that since we were going into town that m a y b e we should grab some lunch and m a y b e spend the night. Just maybe! This was met with a little struggle, but our begging sealed the deal and K gave in. We were devoted to the cause when it meant shaving our legs and eating a fat, greasy burger and fries after days of dehydrated meals. I don’t know if K stood a chance. He was a great sport about our whining and we loaded up and made our way down, down, down into town. First, stop FOOD! Real bona fide food! In seats. With other people around! Oh sweet Jesus, were we ever thankful for this diner. Possibly the best-tasting food I’ve ever consumed. So satisfying in every way! After eating and hitting the pharmacy we quickly found a nice, quiet place in Lone Pine…..WITH A SHOWER to spend the night. It’s the little things, right? We hadn’t showered in seven days. (My apologies to the people in the diner trying to enjoy their lunch) This was lesson one on appreciating the small, creature comforts we have grown accustomed to. A shower.! How it changes a person. Clean water….give that some thought.

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At our resupply in Onion Valley. Looking pretty warn out, but just had the best breakfast burritos on the EARTH!

We slept like kings and queens but had to rise early to leave at 5 am to start our way back over Kearsarge Pass.
One of the sweetest things about picking up a resupply for me, other than the food, of course, was knowing that in my buckets were notes. Notes from my sweet, husband. I also added my own notes, written by myself, for myself over the few weeks before we left for this trip. They were priceless and irreplaceable and as we continued on this journey my heart ached for them and they became to me, just as valuable as my food supply. Just the smallest of interaction with my hubs set my heart on fire! Those of you that know me well, KNOW that besides my all-loving and radically fervent God, there is NO ONE to me like my husband. He’s my north.

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What happens when J says “ACT NORMAL!”

We made our way back over Kearsarge, packed our tents and made another arduous hike to Glen Pass. Oh, Glen Pass. I could write a book JUST on Glen Pass, but I fear it would have so much cussing, that no one could read it. Glen Pass (for me, because we EACH had THAT pass) was so difficult. So severe and rough. So painful and punishing that this was what almost put me over the edge. I was also still hiking in sandals.
My only journal entry for Glen Pass says “we made it 3/4 of the way up the pass. Found a nice lake to camp at. Today totally killed me. My feet are toast. BLISTERS!”
Not that the skin that had slipped off of two toes to expose the rawest, most open, sore, form of skin possible wasn’t enough, now I am adding blisters. I am a runner and have some pretty impressive calluses that I love. I don’t wear socks when I run and never have. These calluses have graced my feet for literally YEARS! When getting pedicures, the first thing out of my mouth is “please, DO NOT remove those calluses.” Those wonderful, feet-protecting calluses are what slipped right off, like gloves being removed from fingers. It was some of the most unimaginable pain I’ve ever felt!

 


img_5188When we got to camp, I was done. I told K, K and J that I needed to be hiked out to the next ranger station in the morning, which I think was about 4 miles out. My feet looked like hamburger and I could barely stand on them. I was angry and had tried everything but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make it any further. I went to bed so defeated. So saddened and so disappointed. I was crushed in every sense of the word.img_5193

I got into my tent and read the resupply notes. One from me and one from my sweet husband.

Note to me,
You’ve made it to your first resupply. You are already a testimony to your strength, discipline, determination and straight up BADASSERY! I know in the last few days you have felt the discomfort of the trail, but this journey is way more profound than any TRUE discomfort. You asked for this and are making remarkable memories and are LIVING YOUR DASH! Happy trails Paula. Continue to be epic!

And from G-
Baby!! You are living the gift of life that God has given you. NO REGRETS! I miss you & Love you. You are amazing.
Love, your G
He added a little-printed picture of the beach (our favorite place) to the note. It said “Live Life” becasue since the day we met this has ALWAYS been our agreement with one another.

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ALWAYS looked forward to a cherished these resupply notes.

 

I remembered God’s promises; -“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

-“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions and the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

I slept.

No familiar with The Dash that I refered to in my note to myself, chick here to read it.

Link to past JMT posts

 

Stolen Hearts

Going to take a little commercial break from my JMT posts. Just brief, I’ll be back at it in no time.

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Sunset at Playa Tamarindo

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Leaving Spokane for some SUN

We are back in Costa Rica now. Possibly our most favorite place on the planet. We started coming down here in 2007. Our first trip, all three kids in tow, changed us. Changed us in ways we never thought possible. G stayed 8 days before having to head back to the States. Our kiddos and I stayed a month. That sealed the deal, we were so taken by this beautiful and diverse country. So overcome with the climate, the people, the oh-so-chill atmosphere, that I honestly had a hard time coming back to the States after our month stint. I couldn’t even talk to friends and family about our time here because I was so emotional about the whole thing. This country captivated me and stole a piece of my heart that I knew I could never get back. Tears would flow as I spoke about my adoration of this place and felt that gut-pull of wanting to come back.

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At the Saturday feria. Photo credit to our sweet soon-to-be daughter in law.

Forward to now; this is our sixth time to this country. It feels like home to us. We feel its ebb and flow in our heart like the swells of the ocean. We catch our grove quickly after arriving. We eat typico, we never miss a sunset, we shop as locals at the feria every Saturday. We walk everywhere, eat fresh, and try desperately to brush up on our Espanol. Living in Idaho doesn’t allow for a lot of language practice. I have learned to watch TV (when we do) in Spanish and read everything I can in Espanol. It comes back quickly, thank goodness. There is nothing better than conversing with Ticos. They are some of the warmest people we’ve encountered. They have infectious smiles and even more contagious laughs. They never miss an opportunity to show their warmth towards us!

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Pura Vida

Speaking of Ticos, we just love learning from them. The language and their way of life and love are so simple. They live frugally compared to US standards but you’d never know it. They don’t seem too bothered or interested in making it big. They are humble and helpful to everyone around them. They DO work hard for what they have and they come home happy with what the day has allowed them. They have such pride in what they have, not boastful, but content with their life. They are sweet and genuine and love their families fully. They aren’t over-busy or over-stressed. Every day is full of Pure Vida.

img_0847This time we have decided to stay in Playa Tamarindo. We have been here before a few years ago, but only for a short weekend getaway from Esterillos Oeste. It’s bustling. It’s like the Cancun of Costa Rica. It’s full of gringos and backpackers from all over the world. It’s busy and full of bars and restaurants. It has some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen (although I have YET to see a bad one in CR) and it produces some extraordinary sunsets. Its water is warm (like the rest of CR) and it has great waves for all levels of surfing. There are vendors and shops everywhere. It’s very different from what we are used to in CR. Definitely more touristy but so far we are enjoying it. It’s close to the Nicaraguan border. A plus as we are planning to drive to San Juan del Sur and Granada in the next few weeks. I would say for a quick trip to CR it’s a great place. Long term, may be debatable. For us anyways. We are not accustomed to staying in such a crowded place and prefer more of the laid back, quiet villages to over populated, tourist hangs.

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A little SnapChat on the beach because….well, we are just dorks like that AND I laugh hysterically every time I see G’s face in this photo!

As we start our second week here we are definitely getting back into our grove with cooking at home and workouts. We are meeting friends and finding our favorite local shops. Coffee at Nordico is a must after a morning run and surf sesh and as I sit here sipping my cafe con leche I can hear at least 4 different languages being spoken. Incredible!fullsizerender

It’s so nice to be back here. It’s so free and allows us to clear our head of the chaos. It allows me to feel God at a whole new level. To see and taste the goodness of His love every day. To slow down, take a breath and marvel at what is important to us both.To quiet ourselves enough to hear His still small voice. To soak in salt water every day. To be nurtured by the sun. To eat pipa (Pipa fría is fresh chilled green coconut. It’s a perfect refreshment for a hot day – it is loaded with vitamins and gives you an instant burst of energy) and gallo pinto by the truckload! To allow what’s been bankrupt in ourselves to be filled.fullsizerender