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Find some peace amidst the chaos

(Charisse) What a strange few weeks it has been for us all. Our thoughts go out to family and friends who have been impacted so far…financially, emotionally, and otherwise. You may be out of a job. Your hours may have increased depending on the industry you’re in. Your small business may already be struggling. You may be working from home amongst littles and teens (if we were nearby, we’d drop wine on your front porch). Social distancing may be taking its’ toll on your sanity. These are stressful times. Hugs to you all.

For those of you hunkering down at home, I hope you’re able to take time to enjoy the little everyday pleasures that are so easy to miss when we’re running with our hair on fire. Read a book. Do a puzzle. Start a garden with the kids. Get some sunshine and fresh air, even if it’s just in your backyard. Enjoy some new music or that hobby you love and never seem to have time for. Bake or cook something. Take a bath. Connect with people in creative ways. Snuggle with the dog. Snuggle with the kids. Snuggle with your main squeeze. Be kind to yourself during these weeks/months because stress is harmful. Find some peace every day by turning off the news and social media for a while. And don’t forget the wine.

As for us, we’re doing all of the above as often as we can. And we’re pretty darn good at social distancing, rolling down the road 22 hrs. a day. We’re working to stay positive, healthy, and prepared; controlling what we can and not worrying about the rest.

Sending lots of love and good vibes to you all from out here in Cali! Stay safe, stay healthy, stay in good spirits. And remember…

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Our home away from home

Take a little tour around our mobile work/home space! This is our 2019 Volvo VNL 860. We LOVE it!!

Maximus
*Note – I mention in the video it’s not safe or legal to sleep on the top bunk, but for clarification…that’s only the case if you drive as a team. No one can sleep on the top bunk while the truck is moving. Solo drivers can sleep on the top bunk with no problem. 😁*
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Staying healthy on the road

How will we stay healthy and active as truck drivers?  We get this question a lot, and it’s a great one, because…let’s be honest. Truck drivers make up one of the least healthy populations in the country.  And it’s no surprise, really.  Long hours of sitting, punctuated by breaks at truck stops where a cornucopia of junky snacks, energy drinks, and McBellKingArby’s are at your fingertips.  It seems inevitable…but it doesn’t have to be.  So, we’re working a three-step plan to avoid becoming a statistic. 

First up? 

Food (and water)

Truck driving is far from the free-for-all food orgy that thru-hiking was (sad face), where our bodies metabolized anything and everything we ate. When you sit on your hinder 24/7, it’s important to make smart food choices. This job is hard on your body in lots of ways, but the biggest issue we’ve noticed is a serious lack of nutritious food available on the road. Our solution? We shop and do most of our food prep at home to stock the truck with healthy options so (most of the time, anyway) we don’t succumb to truck stop temptation. As we go out for longer periods of time, we’ll need to also shop on the road and cook in the truck, so we have a plan in place for that, too. Luckily, our company provided us with a nice, big fridge to keep all our fresh food in (it’s nearly empty now because we’re heading home today).

We’ve been trying on a low-carb, high-fat way of eating, and it really seems to be working for us in terms of keeping us full for longer and having far less cravings.  Plus, most of what we’re eating is easily cut into snackable portions. Here’s what some of our daily foods look like. 

Add to that, lots of water throughout the day (plus a cup or two of coffee), a light dinner of chicken, broccoli, and raw sauerkraut and/or avocado, and that’s pretty much our routine for now.  Shout out to Robin TootsMagoots Grapa for educating me on this way of eating.  She has been an inspiration to us in so many ways, and is truly an amazing gal.  Read more about her and her bad-assery here.

Don’t get me wrong…we REALLY enjoy food…a lot.  Which is why nothing is truly off limits.  My philosophy has always been 90/10.  If 90% of the time, you’re putting clean, nutritious food in your body, the other 10% of the time, eat what you want.  Food is meant to sustain you, but is also a source of immense enjoyment.  Life is short…eat that Double-Double Animal-Style In-N-Out burger!

Sometimes you eat eggs and veggies and do jumping jacks at the fuel island. 

Other times, you watch Netflix and eat kettle chips and ice cream.

It’s called balance.  😉

More on our second step (sleep) and third step (fitness) in upcoming blogs. Plus, we’ll give you an inside tour of our new truck, Maximus the Road Warrior.

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Rollin’ through SoCal

Our view from the shipper this morning. 😌 Driving through SoCal and seeing the Sierras and Joshua trees has us all PCT-sick today. *Sigh*

We’re having lunch with our favorite trail angel, Leslie, who let us stay with her in Wrightwood, CA when we were on the trail. She’s about an hour from the truck stop we’re at in Hesperia right now. She was so much fun, will be great to see her!

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7/12 Mile 702 Back on trail!!

Maverick: We are back on trail, and it has been a HOT few days. Technically, we’re still in the desert, so it has been hitting mid-90’s by the afternoon. Additionally, we’ve been greeted by hordes of gnats/flies. They are not interested in your arms, legs, or any other body parts. They are interested only in entering every orifice of your face all the livelong day. They dive bomb your ears and swirl around, fly up your nose, and land on your cheek to get stuck in the sweat/sunscreen cocktail that resides there. You can’t outrun them (I’ve tried), they laugh at my essential oil bug spray, and I hate using DEET. Ergo…headnet. Not sexy, but sanity-saving.

Even though this short, 50-mile stretch was hot and buggy, we cowboy camped at the top of a ridge last night, and it was BEAUTIFUL. Tons of stars, the Milky Way was right above us, and Rooster even woke up to a late night visit from a lizard when he felt little feet running across his head. One of our favorite campsites yet.

Today, we are in Kennedy Meadows at Grumpy Bear’s resupplying, showering, doing laundry, and eating some non-trail food. Tomorrow, we head into the Sierras and are in for a real treat with the views to come.

NOTE: We will likely be out of phone and internet range for the next couple of weeks, so don’t worry if you don’t hear much from us. We’ll be soaking up epic views of mountain ranges and alpine lakes, along with a sunrise Mt. Whitney summit! And we’ll have tons of great pics to share when we get back to civilization in Mammoth.

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7/1 And the good times continue!

Maverick: Another week in beautiful Kernville, and we continue to make the best of this time off trail! Rooster got in three consecutive days of mountain biking last week. The first day he was the lead guide for a dozen riders, and the next day he ripped down the trail we had done a couple of weeks ago. The last day he rode with a group of guys down the infamously challenging (or as he called it, equal parts terrifying and exhilarating) local Cannell Trail. He walked away with a few scrapes, some road rash, and bruising as a result of a tumble on the last ride, but had an awesome time pushing himself on an expert level trail.

As for me, my best friend from high school (yep, that’s 30 years 😮), Angie, drove down from a business trip in San Francisco to hang with us for a few days. We had such a fantastic time and some adventures of our own, hitting up the Sequoias, Dome Rock, and some rafting on the river. We don’t see each other often, so it was a real treat to have lots of time to catch up!

The next week will be packed with holiday activities and work, getting everything ready to hit the trail again, and saying goodbye to all of our new friends at MRA. These people have all been so good to us, making us feel like family and as if we’ve always been there. We will miss them all, for sure…but the trail is calling. 🏔

Rooster giving his pre-ride talk to the group

Up on Cannell TrailSign at Dome Rock, a rock climbing hot spot

On top of Dome Rock (Needles behind us)

Our rafting guide friend, Nate, who is heading back home to Ashland

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6/10 Adventures in Kernville – Week 1

Maverick: It would be easy to be upset about hitting the pause button on our hike if we weren’t having so much fun at MRA and in Kernville!

This week has been busy with work, meeting new river rafting guide friends (a different tribe of outdoor enthusiasts with their own language), and getting out in the area to play! Rooster has been busy tuning up all the bikes at the campground, and was an assistant guide on a mountain bike excursion a few days ago, so he is TOTALLY in his element. I’ve been doing a variety of jobs for MRA, including landscaping, retail, and office work, and loving it.

One of the perks of working here is the access to their toys and the experts who know how to use them. Last Friday, one of the guides came up to Rooster and said, “I’m taking a raft out…do you and Maverick want to go?” Within a half hour, we had scooped up a hiker friend of ours who was in town, Hoops, and were getting our safety talk to go out on the biggest rapids any of us had been on (Class 3/3+). And it was a blast!! We got to go down a 3 mile run twice, and I almost took an unexpected swim on the second run! We were laughing the whole time, and our guide, Dakota, was awesome! We celebrated with a few beers and then brought Hoops back to our campsite for a fire with a bunch of the guides.

Yesterday, Rooster and I got to take out some mountain bikes to check out a local trail, and then drove up to see the Trail of 100 Giants. Those sequoias are so incredible! Tomorrow morning, I get to go up their outdoor climbing wall when the guides are doing a training exercise, and I’m pretty stoked about that. 😀

Who knows what else this week will bring?!

Tree Hugger

The snowy Sierras in the distance

The Needles

Dome Rock
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The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

5/4 Mile 266 (10% done!)

Charisse: Most days on the trail are awesome. Like when we stopped for water at the Mesa Wind Farm office, and they had fresh-cut fruit, Klondike bars, and cold water for hikers. Yum! And, we got our dog fix by loving up their resident golden retriever, Nala. The day ended with a gorgeous camp spot right next to a river. We were able to dunk ourselves and feel marginally clean. It was glorious.

Other days are soul crushing. Like when we thought we had a challenging, but doable 20-mile day with 6000 feet of elevation gain. But nothing could’ve prepared us for THE GORGE. We were in this river canyon nearly the whole day. We crossed the river dozens of times, lost the trail multiple times, marched around in wet, heavy shoes, scrambled up dirt and gravel hills, and walked through fields of ankle-twisting river rocks. We thought it would never end. To add insult to injury, after we were out of the gorge, there were multiple deadfalls over the trail…too many to count. Each of them requiring a scramble up or down the hill to get around them. We were at the very end of our exhausted rope. And then…we saw camp! We plodded through our nightly routine, ate some garlic mashed potatoes, didn’t care about brushing our teeth, and conked out. But we got our 20 miles, hard won as they were. We didn’t quit.

Today is a zero day in beautiful Big Bear Lake. We caught a big, hearty breakfast and are running around doing our “town chores”…laundry, shopping, picking up mail. Rest days are awesome, but we’re excited to get back on the trail tomorrow. 😁

JERKY! Instant morale booster, thanks to Simply Snackin

Mesa Wind Farm trail magic, and their mascot Nala.

Pro level cuisine: instant potatoes, tuna, spinach, olive oil, and taco seasoning . Yum!

Mesa Wind Farm

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4/30, mile 201: Fun in Idyllwild, and the San Jacinto Wilderness

Tim: We had so much fun in Idyllwild! I met the mayor of Idyllwild, who is a dog named Max. We wound up staying for two zeros; partially to heal up, mostly to enjoy this cute mountain town. We ran into most of our trail friends, and made sure to enjoy a lot of town food.

Part of this experience is just chatting with people in town. We met a really nice couple who had driven up for the weekend. They live down in the desert and run a newspaper called the Desert Review. I took a pic of their dogs Asher and Baxter, and promised they’d be featured in the blog.

We got back on the trail yesterday, and the San Jacinto Wilderness is proving to be beautiful, but very challenging. We had fog, cold mist, and slushy snow for a slow 8 miles before calling it a day when it started to sleet. Then we got to Fuller Ridge! It lived up to its snow filled, can’t find the trail, wish it was over, reputation. But we made it through; on to the next leg!

Hoops enjoying coffee with Redi-wip and maple syrup

More town food; Doc tearing up a burger

Our room in Idyllwild

Pac-Man

Isaiah

Hoops

Peter Dude: “Don’t eat me Asher”!

Asher and Baxter

Above the clouds at 9000 feet

200 miles

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Kindness of Strangers/Zero in Julian

4/20 Mile 91

Charisse: What a time we had in the cute little town of Julian. It was bustling with a mix of tourists and smelly (and hungry) thru hikers. Thursday afternoon we hitched into town, did some shopping, and had an awesome burger and some famous Julian pie. That night, we were lucky enough to snag a room at an inn, where we did our laundry and showered (you have no idea how magical that combo is). An adorable couple gave us a ride from town to our inn, which would have been a 3+ mile hike, uphill, if they hadn’t picked us up. The next morning was coffee and oatmeal with a view on the deck, and then the innkeeper gave us a ride into town.

We wandered around, saw some hikers we knew, and had a delicious fresh lunch with lots of salad and yummy lemonade. We had more Julian pie with cinnamon ice cream (free to PCT hikers at Mom’s Cafe!), while we listened to some street music. Hoops and Isaiah had a room at the lodge and offered up a place to stay. We dropped our packs there and went to get the other thing Julian is known for…hard cider!

We had a late dinner at an awesome Mexican restaurant and ended up eating the leftovers for breakfast. We hitched to Scissors Crossing where we were picked up on Thursday and there was…TRAIL MAGIC! Lots of it! A bunch of hikers were hanging out under the bridge, along with two guys (trail angels) who thought of everything. They had cold beer, fresh fruit and veggies, chocolate, music, chairs, and were grilling up hot dogs when we left. We were full but ate some fruit and veggies anyway. They refused to take any money, and took our picture to post on Facebook. It’s so amazing to me the kindness we’ve received already in just the 6 short days we’ve been out here. Hoping to pay it forward someday.

Today was WINDY!!! Almost the entire 14 miles. Gusts upwards of 40+ miles per hour. At least we kept cool, lol. Pretty easy hike, otherwise, and we’ve set up camp for the night. We’ll be in Warner Springs tomorrow night, where we’ll pick up a resupply box Monday morning and head on down the trail. It’s been an incredible couple of days. Can’t wait to see what’s next!!

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Food.

We love food. Thru hikers obsess about it. What they’re going to eat at their next break. What warm dinner they’ll cook up on a cold and rainy day. And most definitely what they’re going to eat when they get into a town (burgers and pancakes and fries, not necessarily at the same time or in that order). Though we won’t be counting calories while we’re on the trail, it’s super important to get enough fuel to power us through hiking 15, 20, sometimes 30 miles each day. And we’ll eat approximately 3,000 – 5,000 calories per day to do just that. It is rumored in all of the blogs/books we’ve been reading that, at some point in the first month or so, “hiker hunger” will kick in. This more or less means we will be ravenous ALL…THE…TIME. So, while we will probably be at the lower end of that calorie spectrum to start off, we expect that to rise the longer we’re hiking.

At home, we eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, with a focus on whole-food, plant-based eating. This is difficult to maintain when you’re backpacking. While we’ll eat as much fresh food as possible when we reach towns, fresh food is, well…heavy. And therefore has little to no place in a backpacker’s food bag unless you want to be lugging around an extra 15-20 pounds. To get as close to our daily needs for vitamins/minerals as we can, we’ll be taking a really good multi-vitamin to fill in the nutritional gaps.

We are coffee drinkers, so will start out our day with a cup o’ java (Starbucks Via instant coffee) before we leave camp. Some days, we’ll eat some kind of granola bar as we start hiking. Others, we’ll stop for a light breakfast an hour or so down the trail. Lunch will vary a lot, as it will depend on what we can find in town, what our bodies are craving at the time, and how much time/effort we want to put into making a lunch. Tortillas are a hiker’s fave, as you can pretty much throw anything in them and it’ll taste good. We bought some packaged tuna and salmon, and we’ll be buying cheese and sausage along the way. Some people bring a bag of spinach whenever they leave town and add it to every wrap (it stays good for 3-4 days without refrigeration). You can throw peanut butter and raisins and potato chips together (we’ve heard you get creative after a while), and it will taste amazing. Don’t judge.

Snacks of jerky, dried mango, trail mix, peanut M&M’s, cheese, and Snickers bars will flow throughout the day to keep energy up.

Our dinners will consist largely of dehydrated food. When in town, we’ll have to buy and pack out ramen, instant mashed potatoes, noodle/rice dinners, and the like. While that sounds hard to stomach now, you can bet our mouths will be watering for it at the end of a long day. Luckily, we’re shipping ourselves some resupply boxes (boxes with food and supplies that will be mailed to us at certain points on the trail), so we have some control over a portion of our main meals. You can buy them prepackaged or make yourself; we’re doing a little of both. We found this kit of dehydrated veggies and beans, to mix and match into meals. I added grains or potatoes, plus spices and chicken broth powder to them, and sealed them up to put in our resupply boxes. We also bought a kit of soups/stews/chili to add to the variety. We’ll be making one of our favorite dishes (Mexican Quinoa) and dehydrating it ourselves. And we bought a bunch of one of the best backpacking meals on the market…Pad Thai. To add some extra calories, we pour a packet of olive oil in each dinner, too. Mmmmmm….

Beans and veggies
Grains and taters and spices
Soups, Stews, and Chili
I’m already excited to eat this…

Here’s what a typical resupply box will look like.

We’re almost done packing up all of our resupply boxes…