We're so glad we don't have to carry gear that is as big as those bags!
It's that time again!  Welcoming YD Adventure's summer staff to their new home for the next few months is always an exciting time!  Going southbound has lent itself to us being present during their first few weeks, which is focused on trainings.  It's already going (my eyes fill with tears already) to be sad not to be a part of this year's ministry (this would have been our fifth summer as a couple at the ministry). So to be around for the beginning, and to meet the new staff as well as see our old friends again, is priceless to me.   

They all trickled in this past weekend to Cindy and Rich's home (thank you for that!) and moved into the Lodge on Sunday.  They ate some pizza, learned about how to pack a backpack and what to bring on their upcoming trip.  Then they packed their own backpack, woke up early on Monday for breakfast made by some of the full-time staff, then proceeded onto the day's activities.  A little bit of chatting, a small tour of the Ranch, then some Horse training...because in a little while, after some orienteering training, they were going to saddle up and hit the trail to begin their next adventure!

Jason and I, along with two others, helped to set out checkpoints (the places that the staff needed to find before they could continue) for the orienteering course. It was beautiful being up in the mountains that evening.  We were high enough to get a gorgeous view of Nason Ridge and the surrounding mountains, and the weather was perfect.  It made me so excited to be able to be out in places like that for about five months!  It was a great night for the summer staff to do some bushwhacking and orienteering in the dark! :)

The rest of the evening rolled by as we continued to set checkpoints, chatted with the other staff, met and encouraged the summer staff as they found the checkpoints (it was after all about midnight-one in the morning), and then finally cleaned up and headed to camp.   And camp was so wonderful!  A little fire, hot chocolate or tea, s'mores, talking with the others and good late-night laughter...so memorable.  Then around 2:30 am, we headed to bed...
Tuesday morning, Jason helped the amazing food staff ;) make pancakes, while I lazily poked at the fire (wait a minute...) And after packing up camp and eating breakfast, talking about how to poo in the woods (there are many methods ;)  ) and how to leave-no-trace, we took a group photo, and sent the troops out into the mountains for their first backpack trip all together! 

So while they were out braving the rain, Jason and I continued getting our gear ready.  Jason has been sewing like nobody's business lately.  He even made me hat! And we successfully cooked our first corn-pasta meal on our alcohol stove-then we proceeded to pack about 50 bags of it for our resupplies!  (We happen to really like it)  I also packed most of my belongings, getting it all ready to be moved to Snoqualmie.  It feels good to have a lot of that done, because packing always stresses me out.  The more time I give myself to do it, the better....for everyone ;)
This will keep me so warm, eventhough I look like I'm wearing a bonnet!
Yesterday, I gathered most of the items that I'll be carrying and wrote a list of how much everything weighed.  I haven't totaled it all, but I feel like I'm doing pretty good.  Especially since I saved .4 of an ounce by breaking my toothbrush in half ;) (We think it's really funny when people do things like this to save weight, when they could potentially shed POUNDS by either not carrying certain items or buying lighter-weight ones) 

Thanks so much for following along and please, if you have any questions or would like to leave a comment, please don't hesitate to!  By the way, when you input your email address, it doesn't get sent out to others!  I know sometimes I wonder about that when I see it...   

Hope you have a great weekend!  We're off to welcome the summer staff back from their adventure and to have a wonderful meal that all the full-time staff are preparing!  Cheers!
I can't wait until all of the food is packed for this trip....I finished up about 40 meals of oatmeal today-that just scratches the surface.  My mind swirls around questions like "Is that going to be enough?"  "Is that too much?"  "How much more of that do I need to buy?"  "How much is it here versus somewhere else?"  "Will we like that enough to eat it so much?"  "How much olive oil is 1/2 ounce?"  "Is this nutritious enough?"  "Should we cook this in a bag, or in the pot?"  "How many zip-lock bags will I end up using?!"       Oi....

Well, I must admit that I've gotten good at being an assembly-line worker.  Music makes all the difference (Thank you Brandi Carlile, Mariah Carey, Josh Groban and Goo Goo Dolls).  :)

Even-though it's a lot of work, it is empowering and satisfying to be in charge of what we're eating, instead of being at the mercy of the convenience store.  I think especially when we get to those resupplies where we've decided to buy everything, we might be even more thankful for the amazing resupplies we packed ourselves. Such good quality food...but we shall see-in about three weeks!!
Our backpack trip to Stehekin is still fresh in my mind. We're due for another practice trip coming up here soon.  I remember watching Katie beeline her way several miles that last day-and it was her first backpack trip...ha! Meanwhile I realized that sleeping on the ground, even if there is a two-inch inflated pad underneath me, is completely uncomfortable.  I also realized, again, that I'm a nester.  Even in the backcountry!  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, nesting is this idea of creating a home, a nest. Whenever Jason and I move, the first things that I unpack are those that help make the space "homey", and then the practical things.  And so, night after night, I watched myself revel in our "nest" underneath the tarp. Granted there weren't any pictures or decorations... It's the best when you can huddle yourself and others in there out of the elements and feel completely comfortable, like we had to the first night when it rained a bit.

I LOVED our campsites, the views of the lake and surrounding mountains, the float planes flying by daily, the sunshine, Katie's laughter, my down jacket, Jason's man-pris, Jim looking for change at all the campsites at Purple Point in Stehekin, the beautiful flowers, the wildlife, talking with Alaster and Gail about their long-distance hiking adventures, having Avocado and Bananas with meals, how great Stehekin was, cuddling with Jason underneath our quilt, campfires at night...

I did not love how windy it was sometimes, watching a poor mouse that was stuck in one of the pit-toilets (yes I tried getting him out) make a nest out of my used toilet paper, how sore my shoulders were, being cold, stabbing my toe with a stick...

Oh, to be out there again...Instead of in this dark basement...

I love getting the chance to look back on adventures and ruminate on some of the memories for awhile...I haven't written for some time and thought I would share some of those hindsight-thoughts with you:

One of my biggest highlights was overall getting the chance to go on a several-week long road-trip  with Jason.  Definitely one of the most priceless things in the world to me.  Even with being frustrated that our tire was making an awful noise or that smoke was billowing from the dashboard (yes billowing) to being ecstatic about our posh hotel room on the beach or seeing whales for the first time, I loved being able to experience all of that with Jason.  I hope that all of you get the chance to feel what I felt with the loved ones in your life.  In a profound way, it makes life incredibly meaningful.

While sitting passenger for hours and hours, watching the miles roll by, I had lots of time to think!  There was so much to look at...I was constantly thinking "Wow..look at that!"  or "Ohhh, that's so pretty"  or "My gosh, they should clean that up", etc. My list of inspiring images:  flowers in bloom, waves that crashed onto the seashore with reckless abandon, animals that were living in their own unique habitats, endless miles of incredible landscapes, many beautiful homes and gardens...All of this made me question "How can I surround myself with the things that I love most, and make a living out of it?"  You see, my future doesn't seem like much of a future at all if the majority of my time isn't spent doing what I love most.  I've see time and again, people be the greatest of blessings to others when they're serving in the areas that they love most.   

I want my joys and gifts to be shared with others, and what I mean is that I love to cook, and I'm most happy when I can cook for others.  Especially those who really need it!  And I love growing a garden...Watching someone pick something off of a plant and enjoy it themselves like I enjoy it, makes me smile.  I like to decorate and make spaces cozy and beautiful, and it's the best when I can watch others relax there and enjoy that space as well.  I've played the violin ever since I was in third grade and it wasn't until I started to play along with a worship band at church that I realized just how much I enjoyed playing so that others could enjoy the music. There's a bit more, but what can I do that involves all of this stuff....?  Own a hostel and play in a local orchestra?....
these blogs seem to just be about what we are doing, which right now is somewhat exciting, but i’m sure it would be a little more exciting to read a little about what we are thinking as we head into this 5 month journey.  so here’s a little glimpse, we’re thinking, we have so much to do before we leave in a month!!!  our gear is almost done, we just got cassandra a new pack that fits her torso better and i just picked up some used chaco sandals without a toe loop to keep blisters down to a minimum.  our biggest dilemma is about our tarp, its a golite cave 1, which technically is a 1-2 person, but down at the kick off, tradja and bearbait sewed their own tarp and it was almost twice the size of ours.  now this isn’t just gear envy, its one thing to save weight, its another thing to get soaked in a rain storm because the tarp you're under isn’t really meant for two people.  ebay just sold a cave2 for over $160 bucks and we can get the ray way tarp for $55, so obviously my thought is to spend the time sewing one, but cassandra says, what time???

our pre hikes have gone well, no blisters, the gear worked, in general we got along and still love each other, we had plenty of food, so all is good.  we just need to multiply the food by about thirty and pack it in boxes and figure out someone to send them to us.  so as of right now, a little over a month to go, we don’t have any food packed, we have a few boxes of clif bars and granola bars, some pasta and a couple tons of granola.  cassandra has a bunch of bookmarks on the internet with recipes and of course, we listened to dicentra at the kickoff talk about her one pan wonders.  

we’re obviously pretty good at procrastinating and finding other things to do, such as road trips, hangi out with friends, watching pct videos, etc., but know that we have quite a bit of work to do.  i’ve talked to a few people about how i see this journey as a pilgrimage with God, a chance to not be distracted by the every day life and to really listen to Him as we go for a long walk.  there is a difference between doing things for God (such as being in a wilderness ministry the last 10 years) and really being with Him.  i love sharing my faith, but at times i feel like the israelites wandering around in the desert waiting to go to the promised land.  i’ve been lead out of my “egypt” and have been given the manna and been provided for these last 15 years, but i’m still hungry and thirsty for more.  i’m not content with the way things are right now because i’ve tasted more, so i know that there is more out there, God is just letting me work for it so that i don’t take it for granted.  

so i feel like i’ve been being prepped for this trip since i first heard about the pct over a decade ago.  God has been beckoning me to take a walk with Him and i get the joy of having my wife along on the journey.  we have a lot of growing to do and we are trusting that the Holy Spirit as our counselor will teach us through the trail, through others and through that still small voice.

everyone has their own journey that God takes them on, some can learn on a short walk down the street, or on their way to the fridge, it took the apostle paul a trip to damascus, its different for all of us, but we know that He is still working.

i’m trying to get cassandra to write again, so stay tuned for that.

thanks for reading.


here was the plan, pick up katie from the airport at around 4pm and drive 2 1/2 hours back home not forgetting to stop by the grocery store to buy food, then get home after being gone for over 2 weeks and pack for a 4 day, 3 night backpack trip on the lake shore trail of lake chelan.  sounds so exciting doesn’t it?  there is a fine line between exciting and exhausting and we’ve definitely flirted with it.

our friend jim asked us awhile ago about doing this warm up hike with us and we were definitely interested as it was a chance to test out gear and see stehekin which is our first resupply point about 90 miles from the border.  katie had never backpacked before and was going to be jet lagged as we had to get up at 6:30am to head to chelan to catch a 3 hour ferry to our trailhead.  this was going to be fun.

jim had an extra pack, thermarest and down vest for katie, he has the gift of thrift shopping and has a long list of the most amazing deals you’ve ever heard of.  we tried to give her a lighter pack, while still trying to remain lightweight ourselves and found a relatively good balance.  jim on the other hand probably carried twice the weight we did as he brought some old fashioned (although he wouldn’t say old fashioned) camera equipment.  he is a gifted photographer as i found out as he told me about photographing for the forest service and being published numerous times.  i still say, where’s the delete button?

the trail was a little cold the first day, wait, can a trail really be cold, it doesn’t really have feelings because if it did, it would probably feel that people walk all over it.  yuk, yuk, yuk.  save the tomatoes for the meals.  anyway, it was cold the first day as we got off the ferry and i was wondering if chaco sandals were the best option, which they were by the way.  the whole trail is about 17 miles and we were planning 3 days, so it was going to be pretty relaxing.  jim had been on it a few years ago and pretty much planned the whole thing since we had been on the road so long.

the sun came out and temps during the day were probably in the 60’s maybe low 70’s and nights down around 40 somewhere.  no problems with gear, i was experimenting with an alcohol stove made out of a vienna sausage can, a video camera, our sleeping quilt, and i just got a pair of crocs off of ebay.  of course i forgot the stickpic at home again.  i need to paint it orange and connect it to my pack somehow, its very useful, but only if you have it with you.  (there’s a huge learning lesson in there somewhere, one of these days i’m going to find it)

campsites were right on the water, the trail was pretty mellow, the pictures speak for themselves.  katie did great, the last day she led and we hardly saw her because she was so far ahead.  we hung out for a day in stehekin and to our dismay found out that the bakery wasn’t open for the season and the restaurant was only open for lunch.  jim was pretty set on getting a good juicy burger for dinner that night and had bribed katie with a cheeseburger.

we had a good talk with the ranger there and told him that we would check in with him when we were back in town in about six weeks. 

it was a bit of hopeful thinking expecting to find some amazing deal online as we parked in a gas station lot and shared somebody’s wireless service.  we tried hotwire, expedia, travelocity, but didn’t find any amazing deals, so we tried the ol’ walk in with puppy dog eyes.  we decided on seaside, oregon instead of astoria, or (home of the movie goonies) and went downtown and walked into a nice hotel on the beach.  it was a saturday night and needless to say all of the beachside rooms were booked, so we walked outside to the more dumpy looking one next door, but the price made us cringe.  we looked at each other and decided to head back to the van for a talk.  there was something about how these hotels were right on top of each other, that made me get the feeling that i just didn’t want to be here, so we drove just a little ways down the beach looking at other options.  one parking lot caught our eye, we walked in, asked the rate, it was about 50 bucks cheaper than the other places and the view was incredible.  

we had a wonderful evening and even got up early the next morning for a walk on the beach.  we milked the rest of the morning until check out at 1pm, hopped back in the van and headed north with the destination of snoqualmie, wa.

we have an adopted family there that have taken us in for the past 4 fall seasons as we work on their team building challenge course located at their house.  they are an incredibly gracious and giving familly and we love going “home” there.  

it was pretty exciting to roll into the driveway and know that the van had made it almost 3000 miles with only minor hick ups.  that makes the money worth it...well sort of.

2 days working on the course there and then we headed to the seattle airport to pick up cassandra’s friend katie for our next adventure....


oh, we also stopped by the tillimook cheese factory, just after filling up with gas and having the attendant and a buddy freak out because gas from leaking from our tank as we were driving away.  oh, the lifestyle of a vw van.
going down to the kick off and hanging out with so many hikers that are on their way north really gives you the itch to get on the trail.  when we dropped tradja and bearbait off at the border, i think we were totally ready to head out with them.  there is something about trying to plan a five month trip that really causes me to get restless, well actually, if you know me, planning in general causes me to get restless, which is why the magic question of where do you see yourself in 5 years, gets an eye roll.  i think that this next month and a half is going to drag on.

when we left lake morena we headed east to visit some former summer staffers at yd adventures, sara and josh.  they are at point loma nazarene university right on the coast, it was a beautiful area and it was really good to connect with them, even if it was for just an evening.  sara made some amazing food for us, we are thinking about asking if she wants to come on the trail with us and be our chef.

from there we went up to huntington beach, my old home town and stayed with a good friend blythe who most graciously took us to disneyland and california adventures.  it was such a great day, warm weather, hardly any lines and unlimited rides on its a small world.  we tried to go on almost everything, but we arrived at around 11am and disneyland closed at 9pm, so it was tough to do both parks in one day, but we did our best.  my favorite ride was the 3-d toy story ride in california adventures, it was the longest line, but so worth it.  this was cassandra’s first time to the human trap run by a mouse and she definitely enjoyed it, as the pictures show.

we stayed with blythe for 2 nights and it wasn’t long enough.  from there we decided to drive up the coast and just enjoy the coastline along the way, which was amazing, but california takes forever that way.  we stopped in santa cruz and walked on the boardwalk and down the pier to get some dinner and see the seals. we drove over the golden gate bridge for my first time and we were pretty excited that there was no toll to pay.  in eureka we stopped at a coffee house to get some internet access and looked up staying at a deluxe yurt in an oregon state park and it said that there were no reservations being taken until may 1 and it was a first come first serve basis until then (and then there was some small print that i didn’t feel like reading).  so we set our hearts on staying in the yurt that had a shower and heat, we had been staying in the van at rest stops and walmart parking lots. 

so we show up at the state park and the first thing we see is a bright yellow sign that said no yurts or cabins available, what a heart breaker.  we were in shock, even though i told myself not to get my hopes up, it still came as a huge let down.  another walmart parking lot here we come... with the plan of splurging for a hotel room on the beach farther up the coast for the next night, oh yeah!!  


pulling into lake morena state park, well let me back up a moment, we reached the town of julian which is about an hours drive from there, it was snowing and cold.  we felt bad for any hikers who might be out on the trail and had other thoughts about how this might be the first kick off on record that got rained out and of course it would be the one that we drove so far to get to.

ok, we pull into the state park and i'm thinking that people have been waiting for us, we'll get some kind of award for driving so far, we'll get attention for having the vw van and, well, none of that happened.  we were told to pull over, check in at the registration booth and then go to our campsite.  barely a hello, we did get our free pink pct bandanas though.

realization #
just because you plan to hike a 2650 mile trail and show up to the pep rally for it, doesn't mean relationships naturally happen.  i told myself as we pulled up, you will get out of this, what you put into it.  i've told students that on trips hundreds of times and its really true.  sometimes it felt like church, all of these people, but you don't really know anyone and that makes for awkward situations.  there were numerous times that i would say hi to someone as i walked by and they didn't even respond.  odd.  maybe its because we drove up in a vehicle and parked with other 2010 hikers who were staying in tents and tarps, maybe they knew we were southbounders and didn't want to put too much effort into us?

then enter our campsite mates and new friends.  they introduced themselves as tradja and bearbait.  we instantly hit it off, they were another couple that were hiking the trail this year and we found out they had hiked the cdt (continental divide trail) together also, so we could definitely learn a few things from them.  they were a pleasure to hang out with and we even got to drop them off at the border on sunday morning with the hope of seeing them again in southern oregon.

part of our time there felt like we were seeing celebrities from the pct movies.  we tried not to be too star struck, but it was hard at times.  i felt like i needed to personally say thanks to squatch for the walk series and to yogi for the pct handbook.  it was really fun to watch the films that were made and to see the nat geo documentary, the helicopter shots were absolutely breathtaking.

overall it was a good experience and we are really glad that we went down and even more glad that the van made it.  the time went by way too quickly.  we also helped volunteer with a couple of meals, which we highly recommend, its a great chance to get to know people and if you help serve the meal, you get a chance to see a bunch of new faces.  we joked around about making a video for next years kick off all about volunteering to help with meals, it could be pretty funny.

now, we've just got to get back to washington...