Drop Me at the Mexican Border

Soon I will touch the wall between California and Mexico, turn around and take a photo, then begin hiking across the desert toward the first reliable water source at Lake Moreno twenty miles to the north. April 22 is my start date. I cannot wait.

The new monument marking the start of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) faces north, so most people post a photo of themselves next to it with the trail heading north in the background. What you rarely see is the wall between the USA and Mexico in the background, but it’s there and I intend to place my hand on it before taking my first steps. After all, I am planning to hike from Mexico to Canada – and do not want to short myself the first 100 yards or so of such a monumental hike.

It took two tries to secure a thru-hiking permit for the PCT and I was ecstatic when my application was approved. There appear to be thousands more applying for a permit than receiving one and only two permit lottery days. I could have found a way to hike it without a permit, but it would have been much harder logistically and may have meant I couldn’t hike the entire trail.

The first 700 miles are desert. I will hike for long distances through dry creek beds as this year has been a very low snow year. Even if some late snows come along, it’s likely to be far below average. Right now, most of California is measuring less than fifty percent average snow/rainfall.

Water is one of the major differences between the PCT and Appalachian Trail (AT) which I hiked in 2018. I expect to carry a lot of water as there are few sources and lots of desert sun to hike, while completely exposed to sun and wind. Because far fewer roads cross the trail, I need to be more self-reliant, too. There will be many places where I need to hike multiple days before I come to a road and can rethink my strategy, gear, or food and water.

Another big difference is elevation gain. Even though I will eventually hike to a few mountains which are twice the elevation of the highest point on the AT, the overall elevation gain is far less. This doesn’t seem to make sense until you realize elevation gain is measured from every low to every high, and the AT has lots and lots and LOTS of up and downs. The PCT, by contrast, goes up and down fairly slowly over very long distances. There will be plenty of steep places too, just not so many in relation to the entire trail. My uncle and I hiked to Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous states, a few years ago. It’s a side trail from the PCT. This time, I plan to bypass the high altitude extra hike and just keep plodding along north.

Up in the Sierra Mountains, I will have many steep and dangerous places to hike. Lots of places to be careful of footing and fast streams to cross. The low snowfall lowers my risk of flooding rivers, so I will benefit later from the low snow year. I’m hoping it makes up for being so thirsty the first seven hundred miles.

In Northern California and Southern Oregon, I may have to reroute for fires. It’s generally expected hikers will be rerouted sometime on the PCT as fires have become such an issue the last several years. If this is the drought year predicted, it will be dicey in July and August. Once well into Oregon though, I only have to keep up a good pace and make it through Washington before the snow flies. In 2019, major storms came early – in mid-September. I hope to be done by the end of September, but we will see.

It seems like I’ve only talked about the hard stuff in this post. Oops! There is much beauty and good stuff, too. I’ll share it as I go along. I don’t know what possesses me to want to hike 2,650 plus miles, but the backpacking bug bit me and held. Maybe my posts from trail will give you a better idea of the appeal and not just the misery.

I finish at the Canadian border, and have a walk-thru permit from Canada to enter. There isn’t a formal border crossing, as it’s just a trail through trees marked by the northern terminus monument. No wall, barbed wire, big river or armed guards to navigate. Nevertheless, an entry permit is needed to legally enter.

Thank goodness I received one, as it’s only seven miles to E.C. Manning Provincial Park in Canada, but at least thirty-five miles back to a road in the USA. Plus, some of my Canadian friends may be waiting there to celebrate with me as I finish. Walking from Mexico to Canada along the PCT is another dream of mine. In just six weeks it will be time to move from dream to life!

Motion Pictures on the PCT

Six more months and I’ll be starting the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I don’t have a permit yet, but I have faith in my ability to work things out. I’m looking forward to taking you along vicariously as  I meet friends, face fears, and discover new adventures on the west coast.

This time I’m going to make it more fun for you to be part of the journey. I plan to update this blog more frequently, post photos of incredible scenery regularly, and create videos showing typical life on the trail. It takes extra time and battery power to film, so I need to learn quickly and become more efficient before spring arrives.

Learning to film is fun. Plus, shooting video makes training hikes more interesting. I like editing and creating the story too, but it takes A LOT of time to create a very short video. Maybe I’ll find someone – who is not hiking – to help me. That’s the long term plan. In the meantime, I’m having a blast creating them. I think I’m becoming better at it, too.

Goodwater Loop with Melynn

My strategy is to create a new video every week. I’ll film and take photos of the PCT even if it’s too challenging to create finished videos while hiking. I can always create videos after I return. The photos can be posted on Instagram (lorriegirltx) each time I reach a town.

If you subscribe to my channel, new videos will pop up in your subscriber feed when you log-in to YouTube. Choose the channel with my backpacker picture on the profile. (I have two channels under my name.) You do not need to subscribe to see the videos. They are set for public viewing.

Why am I going to the trouble of making videos? I found people are captivated by backpacking tales and inspired to go on their own adventures. I love being part of someone’s decision to go after their dreams. I also found many people build their confidence by watching someone else take on a big audacious goal like hiking 2,650 miles. I hope to both entertain and inspire you by pulling you deeper into my journey. See you on trail!

Goodwater Loop October 2019

It’s All About the Bars

I’ve done something new while training for the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I’m trying out lots and lots of bars. Food bars that is. Nutrition is one of the most challenging parts of a long-distance backpacking trip. I struggled finding healthy, easy to pack and yummy food during my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Thank goodness for the proliferation of  protein bars, breakfast bars, or whatever bars. Simple to pack and easy to eat. By the end of my hike, there were a lot more bars in my life than when I started. And that turned out to be a good thing. Then I came home and discovered Thunderbird bars, which are made right here in Texas. Seriously?! I could have had them all along? Aargh.

You can’t imagine how long I would stand around in stores wishing I had better options. Even stuff I liked to eat became loathsome when faced with the same items at every store for months on end. Trail towns are usually quite small and always one of three particular chain stores determined your selection choices. Add in factors like portability, no refrigeration, little prep needed, etc. and your choices became a pathetic array of the same old stuff. Every time I walked into a store to resupply, I searched the shelves trying to find something new. I tried pudding cups and they were okay, but too heavy, and the containers didn’t squish down well once empty. I bought hard cheeses and those lasted a couple days before all the oil separated out. Even trail mix often came in large, heavy bags, or the same four mixes in snack bags.

All that time I could have enjoyed a dozen DIFFERENT flavors of Thunderbird bars, if only I had known about them and sent them in my resupply box.

Somehow I missed discovering them last year. Then my wonderful husband put a few in my Easter basket this year and I tried them. Pretty good. Made of real food, too. This summer our local grocery ran a special on them and I tried some more. Yum! I went to their website. Oh my goodness there were lots of different varieties and flavors. Right then I decided to pack a bunch into each of my mail drops for the Pacific Crest Trail next year.

While looking through their website, I found they offered an Ambassador Program and decided to apply. Ambassadors promote the brand and receive discounts and perks for doing so. I thought my experience reaching big outdoor goals as well as motivating others to reach theirs would make me a good candidate for their program. And guess what?! They agreed. So here I am, a newly minted Thunderbird Real Food Bars ambassador. I think it will be a good fit.

Next week, I kick off this ambassador role by hosting a giveaway. Thunderbird bars sent me a mixed box of bars and told me how to set up an Instagram giveaway. Hosting it will be another first for me. So if you are on Instagram, look for the giveaway posted by @lorriegirltx. You might find yourself liking a new kind of bar, too!

Ten Month Countdown

Me and Mom Hiking


There are three major thru-hikes in the United States which make up the Triple Crown of Hiking. The Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail.

I’ve already done the shortest one… so, guess what I have planned for the end of next April? If all goes as planned I’ll start the PCT at the end of April and finish sometime in September. People shake their heads when I describe the miseries of thru-hiking and then announce I can’t wait to go on another trail. I keep thinking this time will be more fun. Gosh I hope it is!

Pacific Crest Trail

If you want to follow along, I hope to post stories and photos more often than I did on the AT. It depends on cell service and whether or not I can still function after hiking all day. Regardless, you will have fun joining me without worrying about lack of water in the desert, rockslides across steep mountain slopes, or 40 mph wind and snow in the High Sierras. You can always wonder what’s wrong with my head as you read along. I’ll never know.

You may remember I decided to never, ever hike the AT again. This is still true. However, I didn’t pound out my love of hiking on that trail. It was completely worth every bit of frustration and all the rain and mud. I learned a lot and was given much, both by the trail itself and especially by so many of the people I met. Hiking the AT strongly affirmed how good people really are, how folks are willing to help a stranger when they can, and of how encouraging the smallest acts of kindness can be. The people I met will always define the AT experience for me.

There were lots of other lessons as well, and some things I didn’t learn as well or as easily as I had hoped. Maybe the PCT will let me learn some of those lessons better. I want to not only learn, but adapt, to not just know something, but live it. People ask what I will leave behind when I go on the PCT. They mean gear, food, water and the like, but what I immediately think of is fear. I want to take less fear with me this time. There are plenty of new dangers, different ones with new strategies to match, …but I want to plan for them without being worried about what terrible fate might await me. I want to hike without worrying I will make a crucial mistake or literal wrong step. I want to hike feeling I have what it takes to adapt and persevere.

I’m looking forward to other new experiences as well, like open vistas rather than being under tree cover most of the time. Fellow hikers on the PCT right now say you can see your destination for days before you reach it. So open views will be a disadvantage, too. I wonder how well I’ll do on a lower grade, and if I can really finish a month earlier than it took me for the AT. Most hikers who have done both finish the PCT much earlier, even though it’s at least 450 miles longer. This is because the incline is less steep and path smoother much of the time – or so I’m told. There are plenty of challenges on the PCT to make up for an easier grade and smoother path. Long stretches without water sources, terrible weather in the higher elevations, snowmelt flooded rivers ready to sweep you away and long distances between roads and towns along the trail will make it hard. It sounds exciting!

I’ll tell you a bit more about the PCT between now and April. In the meantime, I have some training to do.