Tales From the Trail -Wash Your Spirit Clean- Muir, Seldon and Silver Pass

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Hooray! We made it up and over Muir Pass! We sat and marveled inside the Muir Hut for quite some time. It’s a great gathering place for hikers and we talked to people hiking the PCT and JMT from all over the world. The trail will be a cake walk from here. HA! We still, despite my desire, haven’t seen any bears. I am hoping as we get closer to Yosemite that we will.

fullsizerenderI had so many conversations with God today. Layers continue to peel that I hope to share, but honestly, some are SO personal, so intimate that I’m not sure it would be entirely appropriate for a blog. I acknowledged and allowed God full control in healing some pretty deep-rooted hurts in me. One thing I know, I need to be more discerning with people and my tribe. Years and years of feeling that I didn’t measure up when I was younger and feeling the need to people please always opens me up to relationships that I really should be more discriminatory about. I have learned to be better, but every-so-often I get unexpectedly involved. I love too hard and oftentimes can get caught up in a little too much drama, too much stress, too much emotion, and crisis. I am natural “fixer” I want to fix the problem, fix the outcome, fix a saddened friend, fix, fix, fix, to the point of exhaustion. That’s a by-product of the constant need to feel that I was enough in my younger years. Sometimes wanting to help and fix is a great quality to have but I can also become a magnet for the passive aggressive. As God rolled this out for me and I saw the scenarios play out in my mind, I realized He is the only fixer. “Send them my way,” He whispered. I only need to be praying daily, and allow their burdens to become his. That’s it! I cannot “be” a better friend than that! Of course I’ve known this, but sometimes God needs to really give me another nudge.  Before this trip, I had a conversation with someone, who had shared that they felt I wasn’t being a good friend to them. I love the honest, real conversations I can have with the people I love. I only look for authenticity. Transparency. I don’t shy away from difficult conversations and in fact encourage them because I feel like they grow you. Communication is key in all relationships and when you love someone you cannot be closed off to the difficult and messy. Speak the hard things in love and ask for discernment. You’re always better on the other side. You learn things about yourself that maybe you don’t see and learn things about others as well. How can you have an honest, pure, genuine relationship without it? I appreciated the freedom as they spoke to me, but I immediately wanted to fix the situation. To be better. To do better. God showed me that sometimes that’s just impossible. My best is my best is my best, and sometimes it isn’t about me. I can only be the person and friend I am capable of being, that He created me to be and sometimes that’s not going to cut it for some. What I know is that is perfectly ok. I am completely incapable of filling the void sometimes. Does that sting? Yes! As a recovering people-pleaser, that can bite, but I cannot fix everything. I cannot fix broken family members, heal broken/unloving marriages, joyless relationships, un-met dreams, hurt from abuse, hurt from abandonment, the deep, sadness from a lack of feeling unloved, bitter minds, unforgiveness or feelings of feeling less-than. That’s where God steps in for those who are willing. That’s why HE is God and we are human. WE NEED HIM! He is the balm that heals what’s broken in all of us. He steps in and fills the cracks, fills the holes and fills the soul. He does what I am completely incapable of doing.

Many miles passed today and mile after mile I felt like I was coming undone. Unravelling. God was so real and so present everywhere as we camped at Evolution Lake, my second favorite of the trail. The way the sunset bounced off the walls of this canyon onto the water was so spectacular! It was like a painting. I marveled as reds turned to pinks and purples then greens and blues, at the way the mountains took shape under the water as if they were admiring themselves in the reflection and as the stars appeared how hugely magnificent they were. They shot out, bold in the black sky, so close as they reached out their light towards the earth putting on a show to all those laying below to see.

The next morning we stopped at MTR (Muir Trail Ranch) for our resupply. What fun place! We loved all of the hiker buckets, 5-gallon buckets FULL of items that hikers have left behind or didn’t need anymore. They lined the bench and were labeled according to what was inside. Sunscreens, books, MRE’s, oatmeal, peanut butter/Nutella, oils and spices, granola bars, tuna. You name it, it was there for the taking. Like Christmas morning gifts. As I looked through them and gave some of my own resupply for the cause I was SO tempted to take the FULL jar of Nutella. Seriously? An entirely, full, unopened jar! I still wish I would’ve, but pack weight is everything, and a full jar of Nutella, c’mon, really? I battled that one out for a good 30 minutes as we refilled our bear cans with our cache that we had mailed in the weeks before. I still hadn’t had that much of an appetite and had ALOT to get rid of. Maybe the Nutella would make the cut… I opted for a few extra packets of Justin’s Peanut butter. Much smarter! And quite frankly for me; dip anything in peanut butter and I’ll eat it!

At this point of our hike, I was starting to feel like a fish out of water. Hiking styles vary by person, and on a hike this long you learn to adapt to your crew. I am much more lenient, savor nature, beauty, sounds, breathe and smell the air, taste, swim in lakes, waterfalls, and streams, dunk in the natural hot springs type of hiker. “Chase the butterfly!” I stop, take pictures and am captivated by God’s blessing of this gorgeous Earth. I get completely emerged and caught up in the beauty, I rarely keep to an agenda, other than getting to camp by nightfall. I knew God was working on my patience, my willingness to bend for others, my capacity and compliance to endure and yield to others plans, especially when in a group. I was grateful for that but had a few times that I felt a little joyless. Things happen while you’re on a through hike. People get tired, they get overheated, things break, they’re hungry, dehydrated, muscles hurt and frustrations on this particular day were at an all-time high. What a valuable lesson to all of us, that things, OFTEN if EVER go the way they are planned on a trip like this. You bend and lean in, and adapt and go with the flow. You have to, or you break. Even so, just being out here, doing this, living this dream that has been nestled in my heart since…forever, was amazing. I was grateful! I was grateful for all of it. The hard days, the tiredness, the lessons, the leaning into the uncomfortable. I was completely thankful for friends doing life together through the good and bad and in the end loving one another enough to pass the bumps in the road. I was grateful for a husband that appreciates our together dreams as well as the wild dreams of his crazy wife. I was grateful that he encouraged this! Applauds my wild! Inspired me, prayed for me, and talked sense into me on my lowest of days. After feeling a sense of mutiny and revolt on my “natural carefree hiking-self” this night, I cried in my tent reading my resupply card. Which…was a THANK YOU card.

-Paula (to myself) Aug 22, 2016

Be thankful and grateful for the place you are TODAY! You’re at MTR. Easy? No! Worth it? YES! You’re a strong and courageous woman. Keep remembering to look up and out at God’s unbelievable creation! ~I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high. O Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the Heavens. Ps 7:17-18:1 Amen. Happy Trails Paula

And from G

-My PJ, Where you are right now, STOP, sit down if possible and be still. Now imagine one of those kisses we do where we breathe in that deep breath. Close your eyes and do that now. Breathe in this amazing world and life God has given us. Exhale, deep and full. Open your eyes and kiss the beautiful sky. Enjoy the journey and all that it is. Love, G xoxo

I popped out of my tent to talk to my camp partner K and told her I was sorry. Sorry if I was quiet the entire day. Sorry if I seemed out of sorts, but also that I recognized I was like I said, a fish out of water on this hike. I read her the Thank You note, she cried.fullsizerender

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Put a cape on a woman and she will SOUR (K with her pack cover on that made her look like Super Woman)

Seldon Pass- We got caught in a thunderstorm. Tons of rain and hail coming down. We broke out our rain gear and pack covers and hunkered down for a while, not being able to get over the pass due to lightning. The last thing we wanted was to be atop a 10, 898 pass with lightning overhead. Once we realized that the rain and hail weren’t going to let up, we continued on. We still weren’t in danger of the top at this point. We had the opportunity to meet the sweetest couple while taking our little rain break. It was their 50th (yes, FIFTIETH) wedding anniversary. They told us that they were meant to hike the entire JMT in 1969, just 3 years after they were married. There was record snowfall in the Sierras that year and they had to postpone their hike. Well, like life sometimes does, it takes a turn and gets in the way of the best-laid plans. She explained that careers, kids, moving, houses, PTA, soccer games, gymnastics, football, swim meets, diving headfirst into family life, etc took precedence. What an incredible story of never giving up on a dream that they made as newlyweds. They FINALLY made it! A little later than expected, by 40-some years, but they kept their dream alive, and made it happen. I hiked with that story floating around in my head all day. It made me miss my hubs, as we are big dreamers and have been since we met. I cannot wait to kiss that man straight on the mouth when I see him!fullsizerender

img_55848-23-16 Made it up and over Silver Pass. Eleven passes in 17 days. Silver seemed easy for some reason. Maybe because it’s a shorty at just 10,754 ft. Or maybe it’s because we are on track to reach Red’s Meadows in 2 days. We camped at Duck Creek and as my pasta Primavera cooks my mouth is watering for a cheeseburger at Red’s. We got to camp early enough today to do laundry. ALL of it, including my night clothes. Thank goodness. PeeEw!

Start my JMT journey from the beginning HERE

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Thanksgiving is More Than Just Eating, Charlie Brown

Thanksgiving!  My most favorite of holidays.  I see it as more of a state of being than a holiday though.  I thinking everyday should be thanksgiving.  But as the holiday goes, it’s my favorite.  No pressure, just relaxed time, a lot of laughter, family, friends, and LOTS food.  What could be better?

In our home as we gather around the table every year, we have a tradition of going around and saying what we are thankful for.  What brought us joy.  What grew us. Each of us taking time to remember the past year, and give a little slice of what we loved!

I try to live out almost every single day in a state of joy-full-ness and thank-full-ness.  I am just a person that sees something great in everything.  In every circumstance.  If not, I have the wonderful choice of changing it….if by nothing more than changing my attitude about it.  I’m not saying everyday is peachy and full of roses, but it’s how I decide to go about my day, my life, that changes things for me.  I’m joyful!  JOY-FULL!  This little nugget of joy is in my DNA.  I am positive all the time that something wonderful is going to happen.  I am thankful, for things that go well, and also the parts of life that do not go so well, because that’s what grows me as a person.  It’s what allows me to know what I like and want… and what I choose to pass on.  <We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.> -Abraham Lincoln  I always see the roses!

These things I am thankful for right now:

~My relationship with God.  And the fact that I live in a country that I am able to have said relationship.

~My husband.  He is always at the top of my list because….yes, he is that extraordinary!

~My kids.  They are by far the BEST thing I ever did in my life.

~My extended family.  Near and far, they ROCK!  They are all so special, and I think about them everyday.

~My friends.  It always amazes me the fun times, laughter, and adventures we share.  Through the good times and bad, we are there for one another in love, in solidarity, surrounding one another and lifting one another up.  They truly are, like family to us.  I think good, true, loyal friends sometimes, are hard to come by…and honestly, I think we may have scooped them all up!

~Travel.  A lot of that this year.  All for fun!  Can’t beat that!

~Our dogs.  There is something about dogs.  No matter what kind of day I have…even if it is gloomy and I have had a hard day, you cannot help but be happy in their presence.  They make me smile every single day.  (They are both currently curled around my feet snoring LOUDLY)  I always wonder about people that do not like dogs….

~Summer.  This has by far been one of the best summers ever (other than the summer I met my hubs)  This one, definitely in the record books.

~Our home. I have always said, that is doesn’t matter the size or shape of your home.  If it is a house, a condo, an apartment, a cabina or a tiki-hut.  It’s what dwells inside the house that makes it a home.  I could find just as much pleasure living in a tent.  Home is what you make it.  Find joy in your space.

~The snow.  YES, I am ready for it.

~My health. I am always amazed and overwhelmed that God has given me this body to use.  My ability, my heart, my lungs, my muscles, my limbs to train and run and race without a lot of ailments and issues.

~Laughter.  This is absolutely the best noise in the World to me.

~Books.  If I could ever live in a library…

~Sunshine.

~And rain….especially on a day like today.  Rain…that I can go puddle jumping in with my sweet new rain boots!

~Running.  I know this could go in the health line, but it deserves its own shout-out.  Its own place.  For me, it is the ONE thing I do for myself that I adore.  To clear my head, to clear my heart.  It is my passion, my therapy, my life-force.  There is nothing that cannot be solved with a nice long, sweaty, run.  I solve most of the World’s problems when I run.  😉

~My  job.  The ability to have a job that my soul purpose is to motivate those around me!!  I get to do what I love every single day!!

~Popcorn.  And movie nights, cuddled on the couch with my family.  Or my girlfriends.  Yes, I am thankful for popcorn.

~Red wine.

~Music.  Music has the way to transform any situation.  At home, I listen while cooking.  I do the occasional (ok maybe more than occasional) dance party.  My hubs, often turns on music and finds me wherever I am, and pulls me onto a “dance-floor for two” And I love all types of music.  It can motivate, allow me to contemplate, or just celebrate!

~Cooking.  There is nothing better than cooking a meal, and having my family or friends gathered around my table.  It’s intimate, and loaded with laughter and sometimes tears, but it is always so soul-satisfying to me.

~Laughter.  Did I already say laughter?  Well, it deserves another place in the list.

~I could really go on and on.

**1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “ give thanks in all circumstances.”  I love the way The Message says it,  “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.”

Living in a constant state of thankfulness is easy.  It truly is.  Every single day there is reason for joy and thanksgiving.  You are not your circumstances, or your surroundings.  You have the right to change your life and journey at any moment.  If it is not bringing you pleasure…move on, mix it up, or just be thankful where you are.  There can always be negative things that happen, it’s how you handle the negative that makes the difference.  Chose to look beyond your circumstance and look up. UP!  Choose an attitude of gratitude.  Choose to be thankful for all things.

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” – W. T. Purkiser

“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.” -Robert Caspar Lintner

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving

“Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck…we should just be thankful for being together.”
–Marci