tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:/posts The Great Dilly Dally 2017-02-14T04:23:29Z Andy tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/1131111 2017-02-14T04:20:57Z 2017-02-14T04:23:29Z Dilly & Dally Do Hawaii ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/1107267 2016-11-11T06:20:44Z 2016-11-11T06:39:14Z a thing i wrote about that thing we're all super bummed about
What can we do to mend our broken country? We turn to social media, make our profile photos black. We mourn, listening to Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash on vinyl in a dim room with candles flickering, casting shadows on the walls. We protest, taking the streets by storm by the hundreds of thousands, plodding across the pavement, forlorn and disheartened, frustrated and angry. We are outraged and embarrassed. We are fucking pissed off. We feel robbed, betrayed. We are helpless, paralyzed with fear and fury. We write letters and call our local senators, pleading with them. We beg for a solution, for someone with some fucking common sense to take a stance. Someone to just be reasonable. But who can help? We’ve dug our grave. Where are Beyonce and Jay-Z now? 

What can we do but submit to our new overlord? He, who knows no discretion, no decency. He, who has no remorse. He, who wants to build a wall and hire bouncers for our borders. 

We can hate each other, point fingers, throw around words like ignorant and uneducated. It was them, they did it and they don’t understand the consequences. He is the enemy, not their mascot, but they’re too dumb to even understand that. Racist, classist, sexist. We shake our heads in utter disbelief. We can literally not comprehend the news. It’s gut wrenching, nauseating, disgusting.

And what can we do? Divided we stand, divided we fall. One nation under God. Oh, god. 

We can watch Seinfeld reruns. We can scan the headlines. We can read the comments. We can blast Bruce Springsteen. We can quote song lyrics and poems, we can repost inspirational slogans written in pretty fonts. We can be mad about the polls. Those inaccurate statistics, that false sense of security. We’ve been duped. We got played. We can be resentful, we can hold grudges, have regrets and say “I told you so.” Will that mend our broken country?

We can continue to be kind, to treat one another with respect, to read books and make weird art. We can see live music and dance until we’re sweaty and out of breath. We can bake cookies from scratch. We can ride our bicycles. We can bask in the sunshine on our front stoop and make faces at the neighbor’s cat. We can call our parents, tell them we love them. We can eat a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s and watch Stephen Colbert in our underpants. We can roll our eyes and sigh loudly. We can be cynical and sarcastic and shitty, but all in moderation. We can go to the aquarium and look at the sharks. We can have a good, hard cry in the shower. We can read Shel Silverstein poems and be nostalgic for our childhood. And we can watch cartoons. We can rant and we can rave. We can toss our heads back and howl at the moon. We can hug our loved ones tight, and even tighter still. We can write in our journals and go to our yoga classes and try to meditate, find that fucking moment of zen. We can watch Rob Zombie movies and Joss Whedon programs. We can climb mountains, walk in the woods. We can book a flight, plan a vacation and look forward to sipping stiff rum drinks with flashy garnishes on the beach in the not so distant future. We can Google search “how to immigrate to Canada.” We can make empty threats. We can withdraw all of our savings and bury the cash in a super secret location. 

We can stick together. We can prevail. We can and we will. Take your time coming to terms with reality and once it all sets in, drink a pot of coffee and smash a watermelon with a rubber mallet in your backyard. Get a pedicure. Plant a fucking tree. Adopt a puppy.   

Beneath our cloak of melancholy and doom, there is still goodness. Look again. Remember? While we stand divided, we are still standing. Hang in there, and mind your posture. Because the world is watching. And we need to remind them that he isn’t us. What he is and what he represents is ugly. It’s bad. It’s disagreeable, unbecoming and wrong. It’s sour. 

But we are still sweet. 

Allison Cohn
tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/935914 2015-11-19T03:19:31Z 2015-11-19T03:19:32Z The Forgotten & Few: Bridge of the Gods Photos ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/917323 2015-10-16T00:12:45Z 2015-10-20T22:15:59Z Silence & Noise

For five full months we breathed only fresh air. Straight outta the leaves and into our lungs. It got smoky occasionally, but you get the point. Now that we’re home, we’re all too eager to stay indoors with our hardwood floors and black-out drapes. In the woods, we absorbed all that fresh air, sat in the dirt, thought our thoughts, exhausted ourselves. We walked and walked and built up our bodies, just to beat them down as we continued to walk and walk. Now we sit. And we recline. We lay, feet propped up on couch arms or pillows. We take a stroll to the café and play short games of ping-pong in the yard, but our steps are limited. They are few. We are making up for all of the steps from this summer, over compensating our leisure to catch up.

And we absorb. We absorb the technology, recharging when the batteries get low and blink urgent red. We absorb the movies and podcasts and books and tv shows, one after the other after the other. We cram our heads full of entertainment that we’ve missed while we were idling among the trees and the mountains. We scan the internet and read the comments. Before we were turtles; now we are sponges. We buy ridiculous things to fill our house with, because we don’t have to carry these items on our backs.

We “climbed the mountains and got their good tidings,” and now we binge watch Dexter. The mountains called and we went. Now friends call and we have dinner parties. I scatter vases of fresh cut flowers throughout the house, but they wither after a few days. I try to remember to water the garden that was planted in our absence, but this is a big responsibility.

Things were so simple then: walk, eat, sleep, repeat. Don’t forget to survive and to occasionally roar with laughter. Now we are back in the swing of it. Parties, concerts, movies, activities, phone calls, headlines, junk mail, rent checks, cable boxes, wifi, gas prices, vegetables, bike rides. Work? All of these forgotten routines, so easy to pick up where we left off.

“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before.”  —Alice Walker

The PCT is but a blurry memory that pulses occasionally from somewhere deep in the void. This thing that we did for so long that was all encompassing, that was our life. But this is our life. “How did we do that?” we marvel from the confines of our comfortable bed, contemplating the trail map that hangs crooked on our wall. The aches and pains and dirty feet and smelly socks are gone now. No more worrying about pole tips or insoles or water treatment.

I’m not complaining. Coming home has never felt so good. Rejoining society and all of its glory. Nurturing friends welcoming us back with open arms and home cooked meals. The red and gold couches beckoning to our weary bodies. Art and music, cars and motorcycles, keys and mailboxes. The scale is balanced: silence and noise.


Allison Cohn
tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/905142 2015-09-14T22:50:12Z 2015-10-12T16:38:53Z On Nature Pooping Our good buddy claims that his most valued piece of gear on the trail was his plastic Powerade bottle that he would flip upside down (cap side pressing into the dirt) and rest his head on the butt of the bottle, making an awkwardly angled but otherwise comfortable pillow. People love their Jetboil stoves and their Darn Tough socks (lifetime warranty!). 

My favorite thing that I carried in my backpack for five months? The most essential, can't-live-without-it item that I've cherished above all the other things? The one thing that was practical, lightweight and made my time living in the woods more comfortable? 

A little thing I like to call "Princess Buttstuff's Backcountry Bidet." (Patent pending) My backcountry bidet is actually just a little plastic squeeze tube bottle from REI, probably about 12oz or so. But this thing is the bee's knees. Shitting in the woods is one thing, but having to mess around with toilet paper and packing it out (don't you bury that stuff in the ground, you jerk!!) is utterly disgusting. Nope, no toilet paper for us. 

And the easiest way to justify the backcountry bidet, because people are easily skeeved out by the idea of getting familiar with their own buttholes and potentially getting a little of their own poop on their hands, is this: if you (accidentally) got poop on yourself (use your imagination), would you just wipe it off with toilet paper and be satisfied with that solution? Hell no. You'd wash that shit off with soap and water. Vigorously.

So why, then, when you take a poop would you be satisfied with just wiping with toilet paper? That's gross too.

It works like this: you take your backcountry bidet and you fill it with water (doesn't have to be treated water, obviously) and a few drops of your favorite Doctor Bronner's soap. You walk off trail and you dig your cat hole and you take your poop. Then- while still squatting- you simply squirt the water from your bidet with one hand down your buttcrack while using the other hand to wash your butt with said water. Repeat until clean, use remaining water to wash hand. Dry with a bandana and then use some antibacterial hand sanitizer. Done and done.

No mess, no nasty toilet paper to deal with. Leave no trace. In fact, you'll be even cleaner than you were before you pooped. 

You hear a lot about this "butt chafe" phenomenon that happens to people while they're hiking. I firmly believe this is caused by having a dirty butt. That's disgusting. We're all adults here. Grow up, it's just a little poop. Wash your butt, wash your hands. End of story.

Because anyone who buries their toilet paper (or Wet Wipes, for that matter) is an asshole. 

So next time you need to nature poop, remember to bring your "Princess Buttstuff's Backcountry Bidet." Because if you're going to live in the woods, you might as well be civilized about it. 

Welcome to the clean butt club. 

Allison Cohn
tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/905075 2015-09-14T19:09:34Z 2015-09-15T05:35:23Z Reacclimation
Well we haven't hiked in about ten whole days and upon taking the first few steps out of bed each morning, the tops of my feet still throb tenderly. But I shrug it off as I wander into the bathroom to use the toilet, my feet dangling just above the cool tiled floor, relaxed. I recall how once upon a time not long ago, I'd otherwise be squatting next to a tree and grimacing in the agony that the hunched over pose presented to my toes and joints. I brush my teeth in the sink, using water recklessly, and rinse my toothbrush when I'm through. On the trail I would dry brush, modestly conserving toothpaste from the tiny travel sized tube, spitting in the dirt and slurping my toothbrush clean of any excess before jamming it back into its home in the hip belt of my backpack. Instead of pulling my filthy, and probably still damp with sweat from the previous day, clothes back onto my aching body (I often complained to Andy that I felt like a rag doll in the mornings), I skip getting dressed entirely and hop back into bed. Grabbing my phone, I scroll indulgently through the Internet, scanning headlines of the Atlantic, the Economist, Vice, Huffington Post. Once I'm bored with (or depressed by) the day's news, I'm ready to seek out coffee and breakfast. Ah, leisure.

The daunting obligation to hike twenty-five miles each day is officially a thing of the past. I've rejoined society. I'm an indoor cat again.

It's sort of amazing how easy it is to slip back into normalcy. Staying up late to watch Colbert on the Late Show leads to sleeping (way) in, ignoring our old alarm that crooned Leonard Cohen at 6:15am each day. Passing out in an exhausted heap in our tent by 9pm is but a bittersweet memory now, as we stretch out on pillow top mattresses surrounded by fluffy down pillows playing WordFeud until 1am.

At first, arriving in Portland was overwhelming. The dining and shopping options were limitless. Everything became instantly easy again. We didn't have to hitchhike, Uber was just a click away. We didn't have to worry about the weather, we could just go inside. We acquired comfortable cotton clothes and some deodorant. And there were people everywhere. And we couldn't just pee anywhere we wanted to, as soon as we had to go. Our hands were clean, washed with soap multiple times a day. We didn't have to spend a significant portion of each shower sitting on the floor and vigorously scrubbing at our ankles and toenails. The abundance of places to sit comfortably was delightful. Ah, to eat at a table! There was art and music. There were man made curiosities around each corner of the city. Food trucks with exotic treats such as fried peanut butter and jellies and ethnic cuisine from around the world. No more forced lunches of Mission tortillas and Nutella. Thai restaurants and coffee shops on each block. No more Starbucks instant iced coffee packets shaken up in plastic Gatorade bottles. And the irony was that we weren't even nonstop famished anymore.

I purchased a large umbrella and a 500 page Harpers Bazaar. Very impractical for the trail.

Getting "off trail" was the right decision. We recently took our rental car and met our hiker friends who are still going strong at Snoqualmie Pass for dinner and to wish them well on their last couple hundred miles to Canada. Everyone seemed a little burnt out, but in good spirits. The recent cold, rain and snow that had moved into Washington was good for the wildfires, but bad for the hiking. Views from the famous Goat Rocks Wilderness were few and far between for our friends, which was both discouraging and frustrating. We gave them a bit of a pep talk ("almost done!") and they congratulated us on knowing when enough was enough. 

They complimented us on looking clean and fresh in our new clothes and we complimented them on having the strength and tenacity to finish the damn thing. It sounded like the Washington portion of the PCT, while having the best views since the High Sierras, was physically hard as hell. 

So while we are still dillydallying, we have been in full on chill mode. We've easily been the youngest folks on the scene since we took off from Portland, stopping at a few casinos on our way up the coast to Cannon Beach then Ballard then to San Juan Island. We've made lots of white haired friends around shared Bed & Breakfast tables, in line for the ferry from Anacortes, and waiting to board our sleeper train car in Seattle. Now we're en route to San Francisco to reunite with our camper and drive home to Denver.

We've been looking forward to this train ride on Amtrak's Coastal Starlight since before we began hiking, when we took the southern portion of the same train from San Francisco to LA. Barefooted in our roomette sipping hot coffee and staring mindlessly out the window as the train hurtles southbound, we have time to reflect on our crazy summer of being woodland critters. 

An elderly gentleman who works for the National Forest Service just popped in to tell us some history about the area that the train passes through, pointing out bridges and such. We tell him we've been hiking for five months on the PCT and he inquires if we will ever do it again. We lock eyes, smile knowingly and confidently shake our heads no. 
Allison Cohn
tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/901116 2015-09-04T03:25:32Z 2015-10-07T19:08:18Z Back to Normal Surprise! We quit!

We walked over 2100 miles from the Mexican border into Washington and then did something no one does: stopped hiking with less than 500 miles to go from the Canadian border. 

Fear not, faithful readers. Don't be disappointed. We're not. In fact, we are thrilled to be done. Overjoyed, really. Free will, for the win.

We were stuck in a timequake and now we are free at last.

There were several reasons for making this executive decision. The PCT has proved to be much more of an emotional excursion than anticipated. I've mentioned this before, but doing the same thing all day every day for five months is tedious.

"When you're sick of all this repetition, won't you come see me Queen Jane?" 
-Bob Dylan

We've spent a lot of time on the trail daydreaming of doing other things that we enjoy, from rock climbing to playing hockey to eating lavish brunches and practicing walking on our stilts. You don't realize how many hobbies you have until you're restricted to just doing one thing day in and day out on a regimented schedule.

But most importantly, Andy's foot pain has escalated from a dull and bothersome ache to more of a debilitating degree. It's very likely a stress fracture and all the Vitamin I
(ibrueprofen) in the world isn't going to cure that. A doctor might recommend that one stop hiking twenty five miles a day as a remedy, but until we really threw in the towel that wasn't an option.

We hiked a whole lot. And most of it was really great, but five months of hiking was just enough for us. Hike your own hike, they say. And at this point, making it to Canada felt arbitrary if we weren't actually enjoying ourselves. And the days were getting shorter and "winter is coming." We spent one and a half days hiking in the cold rain in Washington, realizing that the rest of our hike may turn into this. Weather paranoia, fire paranoia, the challenge to keep hiking the big mile days that we'd been doing in Oregon in the significantly more challenging landscape of the Cascades through September with shorter days on the horizon... I'm exhausted just recapping our reasons (excuses?) for you.

There is also a threshold, physically speaking, where you become fit, you become strong and then you begin to deteriorate. Working our way through the desert and up into the Sierras, we gained strength, lost body fat, built muscles and confidence. Somewhere along the line, perhaps just around the halfway mark, things started to fall apart a bit. Whatever had been working fine so far needed readjusting, tweaking, reevaluating. The gear, the joints, the feet. Overuse and abuse of our bodies was beginning to take a toll that became hard to ignore. One "zero" day per week was just enough to tease your body into thinking it was recovering. 

All this hiking began to make me strangely depressed. I became desensitized to this over abundance of fresh air and beautiful nature and spent a majority of my days staring at my shoes and longing for the day to end. The camping portion of the day was always the best part, and it was so fleeting. We would often only have about an hour or so of daylight at camp, which we would spend cooking dinner and socializing with our hiking buddies and decompressing from all the hiking. Then back to sleep, then back to hiking, and repeat.

"All hiking and no play makes Dilly a dull girl." 

Over all, hiking over two thousand miles over the course of five months has been an insane experience. It was almost harder to quit than it may have been to finish. We invested so much energy into this thing. Would it be throwing it all away to stop just shy of our goal? Nah. Was it all for nothing? No way.

It's easy to get so caught up in the flow of the thru hike. Everyone, no matter how beaten or bruised, just keeps trucking towards Canada. Rain or shine or snow, thru hikers are like the freaking mailmen. Nothing can stop them, except themselves.

Andy described it best when he said that we basically have Stockholm syndrome, only we've kidnapped ourselves. We were stuck in a loop, so fixed on finishing this damn hike because the only real reason to do a thru hike in the first place is because you want that sense of total accomplishment, of having done the whole thing. Bragging rights. Achievement. 

But you know what? In the end, we are still the champions. Masters of our own domain. We hiked the shit outta that hike. And maybe someday we will hike the remainder of the Washington PCT, when there's more time and autumn isn't nipping at our heels. Or maybe we won't. Who knows! 

We can do whatever we want. And I think that's the moral of the story. "Paddle your own canoe. Hi ho."

Allison Cohn
tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/901096 2015-09-04T01:27:28Z 2015-09-04T01:27:28Z All Wash'd Up ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/899828 2015-09-01T01:57:11Z 2015-09-01T05:37:51Z Crossing Over We've been nearly in Washington for days. Gazing out of our hotel room and across the Columbia River through the rain and clouds, we have been admiring the shore of the final state that stands between us and the Canadian border. Washington beckons from behind the mist.

I think we will actually go there tomorrow. The Bridge of the Gods, as seen from our hotel window, serves as the PCT's entryway into Washington and marks the lowest point on the entire trail. It feels like we are so close to completion, the light at the end of the tunnel. But there are still about five hundred miles of trail to conquer beyond the bridge.

So we lay here in our comfortable hotel surrounded by our temporarily clean laundry and contemplate Washington. We listen to the train chug by and the air conditioner click on and off. We watch the lazy tugboats push through the river and observe as the traffic mulls over the bridge. We watch tennis and read National Geographic and relax. Ah, sweet civilization. 

We still are tired, even though we haven't hiked anywhere in days. Coffee doesn't help, but it sure tastes good.

The small town of Cascade Locks buzzed with hikers and hiking enthusiasts this weekend during PCT Days, which is the largest backpacking gear festival in the region. Arriving late in the afternoon on Saturday just in time to buy some last minute raffle tickets (which we ended up giving away, because who wants to stand in the rain for an hour just to potentially win some socks?), we enjoyed some food truck fare and caught up with hiker friends before retreating to the hotel room.

Friday morning we dipped off trail at the nearest highway to catch a hitch to the Timberline Lodge, which serves as the ski resort to Mt. Hood. (It should be noted that the woman who gave us a ride had a mannequin in the backseat of her massive pickup truck, and no one even mentioned it as we piled in and cozied up next to it.) The impressive old building was used to film the aerial and exterior shots in The Shining and is renowned for its spectacular breakfast buffet, which absolutely lived up to the hype. We actually ate several meals at the Timberline Lodge and spent a night there, indulging in endless games of shuffleboard and pingpong. Their "dungeon" bar, the Blue Ox, had great pizza and its walls were covered in mosaic murals of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Ox.

The two story, open lodge area was stocked with thick wooden furniture and comfy couches that surrounded a four sided fireplace, the room's nucleus. The high vaulted ceilings made you feel tiny. Each door in the Timberline was uniquely shaped, often pointed at the top, as if they all lead to secret elf lairs. The perplexing door knobs were old fashioned metal hooks and latches. The windows from the mezzanine level framed spectacular views of sprawling mountainous cloudscapes. Somehow we managed to take zero pictures of the place, though.

It seems like the fire closures in Washington are slightly improving, or it may just appear that way because more people are finishing the trail these days and are posting more useful information regarding the trail conditions. Now the worries will turn to potential winter weather conditions moving in to the Cascades. It's always something. 

Allison Cohn
tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/898888 2015-08-29T00:49:04Z 2015-08-30T05:02:26Z It's Not You, It's Me Dear Oregon,

It's not you, it's me. You're really sweet. And your natives sure do love you. But I think we're better off just being friends.

I know you've had a weird year, but you sort of smell like a campfire. And you have a major bee problem. I've been stung twice this week. Seriously, that's just not cool.

You've got some nice lakes for swimming, but a lot of them are strange and swampy. Ambitious ponds, really. Some are even full of waist-deep gelatinous muck and slime and sharp sticks. This is not ideal for me, especially when I'm trying to literally bathe in them.

You've got some neat mountains, sure, but their volcanic nature makes the trail borderline unmanageable on my knees and ankles (not to mention gnawing apart the tread of my shoes). 

Your occasional views have often been obstructed by thick smoke. This smoke is also causing me to clear my throat excessively each morning, combined with the clouds of dust that we've been stomping through for weeks. Your dust has also penetrated my shoes and socks so thoroughly that my feet have just taken on a blackened appearance that I fear will remain that way... forever.

I must give it to you, you don't have sales tax. And Mt. Jefferson and Jefferson Park sure were scenic. Hood Wilderness has some of the best maintained trails of the PCT and Timothy Lake was just lovely. The Obsidian Falls area was also beautiful, even though a condescending National Forest volunteer insisted on checking our permits there and lecturing us on "Leave No Trace." We had to miss Crater Lake, which I'm sure is one of your finest points, but we did get to see (and drink from) "Little Crater Lake." We had a blast at Shelter Cove and the restaurant at Elk Lodge was delicious. We loved browsing antique shops and eating brunch at the Cottonwood Cafe in Sisters. Plus, there were llamas at the Best Western there!

We're also looking extremely forward to hiking the Eagle Creek alternate trail and checking out Tunnel Falls. People have been raving about that portion of the trail. Well, everyone except some guy named Costco, who wrote this review in the Guthook guide: 

Your people are kind and generous and hitchhiking has been extremely easy because of this. They also all seem to know you very intimately and are proud to point out your third highest waterfall and fifth highest mountain and second purest lake (whatever that means). In general, everywhere has been very hiker-friendly. 

But nonetheless, I'm leaving you. I'm sorry.

I'll be back in about a month to visit your capital and your coast, but let's keep it strictly platonic.

Thanks for everything,
Allison Cohn
tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/898874 2015-08-28T23:53:28Z 2015-08-29T00:50:13Z Sisters to Timberline Lodge ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/896920 2015-08-24T00:04:54Z 2015-08-24T00:04:55Z Ashland to Sisters ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/896902 2015-08-23T22:51:50Z 2015-08-23T23:29:36Z The Roller Coaster Effect Aside from the literal ups and downs of this trail, the emotional highs and lows are staggering. Let me bring you up to date with the recent ongoings of the PCT, as we approach the final leg of our thru hike. 

Up: Crater Lake, one of the most scenic gems of the trail and a place that I've been personally excited about visiting, was right around the corner after we left Ashland.

Down: We arrived in Mazama Village in Crater Lake just as they closed the trail because of the nearby fire. Previously the Rim Trail had been open to hikers but the section of trail where it linked up with the PCT was now closed, as well as the nearest roads. This meant we would have to somehow procure a ride (from a complete stranger) out of the National Park and back around to where the trail crosses Hwy 138 by way of a 70+ mile detour.
Up: Because of the closure, we got the opportunity to catch up with all of our hiker friends that we had met and lost track of because they had been hiking just days ahead of us for months. The huddled masses were all gathered around the Mazama Village general store in a sea of abandoned backpacks and dissected resupply boxes, sipping on bottomless fountain sodas and heady Oregon craft beers, donning windbreakers while their laundry was being done and swapping insider info about which shower stall was free.

More Ups: Two girls, trail angels from Bend, showed up around 9:30pm the night we had arrived at Crater Lake and offered us a ride back to the trail (remember: this is a 70 mile or so ride) and some fried chicken and pizza. We crammed six people and packs into the back of their truck and hunkered down for the hour and a half ride back to the trail, setting up camp in the smokey wilderness around midnight.
Then we continued to accept a hitch in the morning to Shelter Cove from another trail angel named Steve. We stopped along the way at an awesome little roadside diner for gigantic pancakes served to us by the fly-swatting, toothless owner/cook and her smart ass teenage granddaughter waitress from Reno, who had already managed to perfect the disgruntled and overworked server act. 

Once at Shelter Cove, a quaint little vacation/fishing spot on Odell Lake, we rented a charming cabin with some friends and spent the afternoon on a pontoon boat, skinny dipping and cannon balling off the sides of the "Party Barge." Then we spent the evening eating frozen pizza and watching Seinfeld and snuggling on overstuffed leather couches. It was glorious.
Although we skipped about one hundred miles of trail between Crater Lake and Shelter Cove and were ultimately bummed about not even seeing Crater Lake at all (and missing the "highest point in Oregon" on the trail), we were actually sort of stoked to have jumped ahead a bit. It was a nice mental and emotional boost. Plus, boat stuff was super fun.

The afternoon we hiked out of Shelter Cove, we broke a personal record and swam in FIVE lakes in one day. That was also great.
Then the trail took a turn for the better. The dry stretch of Southern Oregon turned into lush forests (still terminally dusty) that opened up into glassy blue lakes every few miles or so. Matted tufts of moss hung stiffly from high branches of the sugar pines, as though the Grinch had recently molted everywhere. 

Sisters Wilderness took on a drastic landscape change when the forest opened up into wide meadows as we hiked through the late afternoon shadow of the South Sister mountain. 
Down: Then everything got ultra volcanic in a hurry as we spent the next day climbing begrudgingly through vast and exposed switchbacks of sharp and blackened pumice stones. It would've been a curious scene if the volcanic rocks had lasted for a mile or two but they carried on all afternoon, much to my dismay. When we finally got to the road to hitch into the town of Sisters, I was pissed at the trail for being so awkward and crumbly. Stupid volcanos. 
Up: We hitched a ride with another nice woman from Bend and her little three year old nugget who had been out day hiking. Best part: she actually worked at the same bakery in Bend with the other two girls who had given us that outrageously long ride from Crater Lake. Small world.

Down: Major wildfires raging through Washington. As if Oregon wasn't smokey enough from its own fires, the PCT in Washington has been closed for weeks due to fires and things are not looking promising. High winds aren't helping the situation, Obama has declared a State of Emergency and firefighters from Australia and New Zealand have been brought in to assist the Hot Shots who are already working their asses off to contain the blazes. 
Up: We have a coffee table book at home that lists German words for various human conditions. They're all about twenty letters long and spelled out phonetically so you can attempt to pronounce them. I'm sure that the book contains a word, which I can't seem to come up with in English, whose definition reads: "acting disappointed, but secretly elated." This accurately sums up our feelings about having to probably skip nearly 200 miles of trail in Washington. 
We may have to just turn this thru hike into a road trip from Stevens Pass up to Manning Park and day hike south from Canada to the terminus. One way or another, we are getting to that border. But sometimes enough is enough, and quite frankly, if we are forced to hike a little bit less in the end, well hell.

So that pretty much brings us up to date, as we are lounging here in touristy little Sisters, Oregon. You can't even see the legendary trio of mountains from here because the smoke is so thick, but that can't stop me from enjoying an arugula salad and a bath. Back to the trail tomorrow and up towards Cascade Locks, where we will cross the Bridge of the Gods into Washington. 
Who knows how far we will get from there, as these historic fires are zero percent contained and there's no rain in the forecast. Towns are being evacuated and homes are being destroyed. In the grand scheme of things, completing our thru hike of the PCT is a pretty small priority in comparison to, well, everything else going on in Washington right now. We plan to hike as far as we can within a safe and reasonable distance from the fires. 
But we will get our damn picture with that terminus somehow. Stay tuned.
Allison Cohn
tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/895489 2015-08-19T18:32:22Z 2015-08-19T18:47:27Z Oregon Haikus
First impressions of
A state I've never been in
As seen from the trail 

Mushrooms like small fists 
Throwing rubbery punches
Wear soil berets 

Logging trucks bellow
Complain of overweight loads
Kick dust in protest 

There is none to spare
So water is only served
Just upon request 

Dally scours maps
Seeking all the shortest routes
This trail is too long

Smoke fills the long green tunnel
A fire detour 
Allison Cohn
tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/892770 2015-08-11T21:59:16Z 2015-08-11T21:59:16Z Oregon-asms ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/892758 2015-08-11T21:03:10Z 2015-08-11T21:03:11Z Mt. Shasta to Ashland ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/888887 2015-08-01T04:36:11Z 2015-08-01T04:36:12Z Lassen to Mt. Shasta ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/888555 2015-07-31T06:42:43Z 2015-08-24T04:57:16Z This Is Not A Hike Let's be clear about one thing: this is not a hike. It is a thru-hike. The nature of this beast is entirely different than that of a jaunty walk in the woods. It is a pure chore of an adventure. 

Thru-hikes are not leisurely. They are not relaxing. There is a clear goal and a regimented schedule. We set an alarm in the morning. Our snack breaks are short. We can't loiter and enjoy nice scenic spots or views or swimming holes for too long because we're on a time crunch. There are miles and hours and weather to take into account. We pass up great campsites because it's too early to stop hiking for the day. People hike late into the night, traipsing by us with their headlamps glaring through our wax paper shelter (our Cuban fiber tent) as we huddle together on our inflatable sleeping pads and marvel at their determination. But the days have been so damn hot lately, nearly 100 degrees, that maybe they've got the right idea.

Twelve hours of hiking each day becomes your job. Getting to a town and staying in a hotel, your vacation. 

I'd like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to the Hat Creek Rim section of trail we just passed through. Not only was the Hat Creek Rim completely devoid of any natural water sources for nearly thirty miles, but it was so exposed and hot that it gave me a super cute heat rash all over my thighs and the backs of my knees. Thanks Hat Creek Rim! 
This section also pulled a fascinating presto-change-o in which my shoes that I had been hiking in since South Lake Tahoe magically became too small. In other words, my feet swelled up from the heat, a phenomenon I had heard other hikers complain about but had yet to experience. It suddenly became unbearable to wear my sneakers, with my toes squished together and accumulating the first painful blisters that I've had in about 1500 miles. 
My solution: hike in the Crocs. For 50 miles to Mt. Shasta. Okay, so I put up a bit of a bashful fight about even buying the Crocs to begin with. They're hideously dorky and I had a major identity crisis when I was stuck wearing them out in public while visiting friends in LA and San Diego prior to hiking the trail. I was embarrassed of their duck footed appearance and their rubbery sheen. But I'm admittedly singing a different tune after they saved my ass and were actually extremely comfortable to hike in. The Crocs are also a glaring red flag (or chartreuse, in my case) of a thru-hiker when plodding around town in them. So there. I said it. Viva la Crocs! (But I'm still not gonna wear them when I'm done hiking.)

This section of trail also happened to have been trampled by horses during some event last weekend and was unbelievably dusty. Literal clouds of dirt erupted with each labored step through the thick, sandy trail. Plumes of dust loosened by heavy hooves settled into your clothes and nostrils, blackening your feet through your shoes and socks. Needless to say, we were filthier than usual. Don't forget: there was no place to swim or wash for nearly two days. 
In other news, NorCal is becoming increasingly greener. Each sweeping ridge top view is similar, rolling emerald pine covered hills for as far as you can see, fading away into layered blue shadows of distant peaks. Mt. Shasta's volcanic snow-capped summit simmers in the late July heat outside our balcony, muted slightly by smoke from nearby wildfires. And from what I understand, the landscape will only get greener as we head north into Oregon in the coming weeks. Which is fantastic news, because Lassen was a total bore, with burned trees and a boiling lake or two. But the trail approaching Shasta was fantastic for about sixty miles, winding smoothly through shady and overgrown gulches (chock full of poison oak!) and across mossy bubbling springs before gently climbing up over ridges, providing impressive panoramic views and glimpses and the mighty Shasta, standing 10,000 feet above its surrounding landscape. 
Hiking 25 miles every day in this heat is literally kicking our ass so we will spend tomorrow eating our way through the town of Mt. Shasta and laying low on our air conditioned hotel room watching Naked and Afraid and daydreaming of reaching the Oregon border.
Allison Cohn
tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/885282 2015-07-23T05:30:33Z 2015-07-23T05:30:33Z Sierra City to Chester ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/885185 2015-07-22T22:27:41Z 2015-07-27T23:49:39Z Captain's Log: An Honest Midway Assessment
July 22, 2015
Hot, sunny & dusty on trail
A crisp 67F in the Best Western's Eagle Suite, Chester CA

Status: pooped, yet content 

I'm not gonna sugar coat this: hiking this trail has easily been the least glamorous and most challenging task that I've ever voluntarily chosen to undertake. It is fucking hard hiking 20+ miles every day. Sure, it's just walking, but the enormous ups and downs and the mental doldrums are often maddening. 

Andy has been listening to a constant stream of audio books and nerdy podcasts. Meanwhile I've been shuffling between New Orleans Funk Vol. 2, the Motown mix my brother made me, various Putamayo collections (Brazil and Africa are my favs) and some Les Claypool, White Stripes, and Rage Against the Machine for those long uphill slogs. The Talking Heads are also ideal for a high energy boost, sans aggression. Dylan & the Band or Robert Johnson are reserved for downhill jaunts. And of course the Dead and Railroad Earth are good anytime.

We are tired. We admit it. 

It would be so easy to just quit and be done with it all. Day hikers we keep crossing paths with inquire with awe, "Would you do it again?" Nah. This is our once in a lifetime chance to nail this thing. This is our mission and we chose to accept it.

But this isn't all sunshine rainbows, except that it actually is.

We recently passed through Beldontown on the Monday morning after a festival had ravaged the town, surrounded by the hung over aftermath. Oddly enough, this scene provided a glimmer of normalcy amongst my otherwise very nature-centric summer. We found ourselves borrowing some inflatable rafts that were littered about the riverside and floated for a while in the Feather River beside the still bedazzled crowd, watching the crew disassemble stages and installations. Ah, to be amongst the company of people other than hikers! Beardless boys and accessorized girls!

All the boys on the trail look the same: white early thirty-somethings, long and disheveled beards, tattooed, short running shorts, thick muscled thighs, filthy, stoned as hell. They've probably hiked the AT. They probably ate weed cookies for breakfast and washed them down with Fireball. They'll probably hike more miles than you, too. They night hike with headlamps and cowboy camp without tents. 

The 5000 ft climb over the course of fifteen miles out of Beldon was a nasty bit of trail. It was a hellish, humid and grueling experience that lasted two days. Towards the top there were lots of downed trees and clambering over them took every ounce of strength you could muster.

Pre-Tahoe we had been averaging 17-19 miles/day. Now we're up to 20-25 miles/day. This may seem like a small difference in miles to you but, trust me, you feel it. Emotionally and in your butt muscles. We are working our way up to 25-30 mile days in Oregon. We have only just reached our halfway mile marker today. Only 1325 miles to go til Canada.

And for our next trick: we will complete the same amount of miles in just half the time. We want to get to Canada by mid-September. We are attempting to achieve this by upping our mileage and desperately trying to resist the allure of motel beds and hot springs.

The last few quirky little "towns" that we've passed through have been bizarre and useless, at best. Sierra City, Buck's Lake and Beldon were "hiker friendly" and sold burgers and milkshakes but their "general stores" mostly consisted of a variety of canned seafood items and expired bagged cereal. I waited over an hour at the Beldon Lodge & Bar for a slimy plate of iceberg lettuce with no dressing and a smattering of mandarin oranges. The Buck's Lake Motel was a total dump with shag carpet, a bedspread and curtains that were darkened yellow with age, and cobwebs with dead bugs in every corner. The room also boldly sported a tip jar for the housekeepers and a handwritten note encouraging you to enjoy your stay. There wasn't even a fitted sheet on the mattress.

The other upcoming Northern California towns of Chester, Mt. Shasta and Etna seem more promising. After all, Etna used to be named "Rough and Ready" in the 1800s. And Chester allegedly has the best milkshake on the whole trail.

We've met hikers named Dutchess, Gum Ball, Skeeter Bite, Daytripper, Sarge, Stump, Bucket, Fancypants, Pot, Lid, Mason Jar, Half Time, Double Time, Mr. Noodles, the Better Half, Fixie, Stop Watch, several Shaggys, Serenade, FM, Butt Plug, Blueberry, Raspberry, Grapefruit, Burgundy, Giggles, 2nd Lunch, Lucky, Lint, Justa, the Count, Rattles, Nomad, Sherpa, Dream Catcher, Meta, the Optimist, Thunder Bunny, Nutella, Simba, Ox, Cat Whacker, Prospector, Pine Stick, Wallaby, Wall Street, Snow White, Starfish, Aunt Jemima, Sando, Franklinstein, Fly Balls, Cosmic Bubbles, Zappa, Dollywood, Starboard, Good Time Grant, Steady Eddy, Llama, Bender, Take it or Leave It, Gush the Lush and his dog Beast, Let's Party and her dog Bottoms Up, Zoolander, Hedgehog, Treeman, Secret, Toolbox, Papa Smurf, the Doobie Brothers, Rally, Squatchie, Honey Bear, Kale, Square, Professor, Salt, Pepper, Glide, and two Shenanigans (male and female). Our friendly bubble we had been hiking in for a while has burst, with mostly everyone we once knew ahead of us and a few stragglers in the rear (after our week long Tahoe stint, we lost 'em all). Some friends have "gotten off trail," which is a fancy way of saying they quit. So we make new friends, and there are plenty to be had.

Some good old PCT folklore for you: legend has it that a hiker named Aqua Dump is defecating in all the water sources. And he's hiking just ahead of you...

A word to the wise: if you like to do something, I wouldn't recommend forcing yourself to do that thing every day for ten to twelve hours a day for five or six months. You may just start to resent it.

But we're already mentally planning our trip to Spain to hike Camino de Santiago, so we're clearly not too resentful towards hiking.

When I do get really sick of walking every day, all damn day, I just think of my mom-- who has MS and is stuck in a wheelchair-- and how much more it would suck to NOT be able to walk every day, all damn day. "Inspiration, move me brightly."

"Hiking is fun, hiking is fun," we remind ourselves; this is our mantra. After all, anyone should be so lucky to just be walking in the woods all day eating Snickers bars with no responsibilities other than to do just that. It's the American Dream. 

Sometimes I feel like a shepherds boy in a Paulo Cohelo book, repeatedly stabbing the dusty earth with my single hiking pole, my imaginary herd bleating encouraging words all around me. 

I was going to write more about the landscape: the volcanic "meatball" rocks clinging to the mountainsides south of Tahoe, looking as though they'd tumbled down the earth while wet, collecting everything in their path, all lumped together and multicolored and uncomfortable. About the Sequoia trees that sprout up between rocks in unlikely places, sharp dressed and doing their best broccoli impression. About the burnt and skinny tooth pick tree trunks that nonchalantly lean against the live trees, looking like pulled taffy. The white and withered ghost pines, nothing but skeletons with bared rib cages beckoning you in for a hug and secretly begging to get struck by lightning. The out of control wild flowers. The macerated tree guts that are spilled all over the forest ground, impossibly loud and crunchy beneath the hooves of deer grazing in the moonlight. The thick, looming trunks that are clothed in striped electric moss sweaters. But I'll spare you the woodsy details. More about the beautiful agony that is the Pacific Crest Trail. 

While the walking does become borderline tortuous at times, the landscape and all of its glory is still a joy, most of the time. The warm, still, silent nights beneath the stars in our open air tent and the ongoing treasure hunt for swimming holes are still entirely rewarding. So we walk on. 

The PCT: it is our ball and chain. And our baby. People ask if we've found "that intimacy" with the trail yet. Some goofy lady hiking the Tahoe Rim Trail babbled on about how hiking the PCT "gets rid of all your problems." I snickered and muttered cynical remarks to Andy as we walked away from her but... the PCT, like many things, is probably a very transformative experience. But you can't realize those experiences to their full capacity while you're having them. In hindsight, months or years from now, surely we will look back at our accomplishment with pride and wonder. But now, in the present, we're mostly just looking forward to the next shower. 
Allison Cohn
tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/881720 2015-07-15T19:31:37Z 2015-07-15T20:31:05Z Sierra City... Almost Halfway ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/880178 2015-07-12T23:05:15Z 2015-07-12T23:05:16Z Sonora Pass to Lake Tahoe ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/880179 2015-07-12T23:04:48Z 2015-07-12T23:04:48Z Tahoe Vacation ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/875745 2015-06-30T22:04:01Z 2015-08-24T05:17:47Z A High Sierra Summary I hadn't actually ever put on a proper backpacking backpack until the morning we were leaving San Diego for Campo to begin hiking the PCT. Andy helped me adjust the straps of my brand new purple ULA Circuit, cinching the waistband and the load lifters so that the weight was evenly distributed throughout my short torso. 
I've never been to any of the places that the PCT passes through, with the exception of Lake Tahoe and Lassen National Park. I'd never even heard of Kings Canyon or Sequoia National Parks. I'd never intended to climb Mt. Whitney. The John Muir Trail seemed like a far away, enchanted thing that other people hiked. It was never on my to-do list (which does include goals like ride a yak in Mongolia, eat tea leaf salad in Burma, trek in Patagonia and make a pilgrimage through the Yukon to Alaska).
But now we have hiked 1000 miles. I've shredded another pair of Brooks Cascadias schlepping through the High Sierras, up thousands of feet over rocky mountain passes and scrambling down the other side through steep snow fields and across soft spoken creeks. We have descended the Golden Staircase between Mather and Muir Passes while thunder bellowed empty threats over the roar of the raging river. We've skinny dipped in freezing water while bald eagles scooped jumping fish out of the air nearby. We watched a mama bear and her cubs grazing near Arrowhead Lake. We grimaced our way through infuriating clouds of buzzing mosquitos near Dorothy Lake. I've counted hundreds of trembling wildflowers of all shapes and colors, carpeting meadows and growing determinedly out of rocks and between gnarled tree roots. We impulsively traveled down to Yosemite Valley and summitted the famous Half Dome, stupidly burning blisters into our palms on the cables near the top as we heaved ourselves up the steep rock face. This has been my life for the last three weeks. 
I've acquired absurd tan lines, an outrageous collection of bug bites and calves of steel (all while maintaining a sparkly pedicure at each town stop). And we're not even halfway done yet.
I didn't know that the utopia that is the John Muir Trail existed. But now I've experienced firsthand the babbling brooks and fluffy marmots, the vigilant critters that stand up at attention before scurrying back under rocks, the clusters of deer who can't be bothered, the electric green meadows and frozen lakes that cascade into clear, clear delicious flowing water. The endless mountains sprawling in every direction and the low points between them in which we pass through to a whole new dimension on the other side. The ups and downs by the thousands of feet.
It was exhausting and exhilarating. And with the Sierras at our backs, we push on towards Lake Tahoe. Hi ho!
Allison Cohn
tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/875726 2015-06-30T21:23:03Z 2015-06-30T21:23:03Z Tuolumne to Sonora Pass (Aka Mosquito Hell with Wildflowers) ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/875713 2015-06-30T21:04:35Z 2015-06-30T21:04:36Z Agnew Meadow to Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Valley & Half Dome ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/871981 2015-06-21T19:04:58Z 2015-06-21T19:04:59Z Glen Pass to Reds Meadow ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/867700 2015-06-09T20:09:45Z 2015-06-09T20:10:46Z Mt. Whitney, Forester Pass & Kearsarge Pass ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/867694 2015-06-09T19:56:56Z 2015-06-09T19:56:57Z Kennedy Meadows to Chicken Spring Lake ]]> Allison Cohn tag:thegreatdillydally.com,2013:Post/861781 2015-05-27T19:45:57Z 2015-05-28T03:13:00Z Fare you well, Southern California "Fare you well, Southern California. Fare you well, my only true one.

Gonna leave this broke down desert. 
On my hands and knees, I will roll roll roll."
There are many ways to break down the sections of the 2600+ miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. There are lettered sections, which I haven't a clue about. There are all the hundreds of miles and town stops in between, which I've been loosely basing our progress by. Then there are the big chunks: Southern California (the desert), Central California (the Sierra Nevadas), Northern California (the Southern Cascades), Oregon and Washington. 

We are about to get the hell outta this desert. 
We will bid a fond farewell to trudging through deep sand and Joshua Tree groves. Goodbye to the thousand ways to pop your inflatable sleeping pads. See ya later skittish lizards and scuttling horny toads. Buh-bye sharp cacti with your papery, delicate flowers. Adios dry scrubby mountains with your switchbacks and your shiny black robo-beetles marching purposefully through the dust. Catch ya later, long waterless stretches of trail with your murky cow pie infested, off-trail springs. Take it easy depressing, blackened burn zones and stinky poisonous Poodle Dog Bush (yes, that's a thing).
The Southern California section was PCT hazing. It was a brutal 700 mile training session for the glorious wilderness that is yet to come. For every mile we schlepped along the California aquaduct and across the endless wind farms and the sweltering Mojave desert, we will earn numerous alpine lakes and soaring snowy peaks. We will no longer need to carry liters and liters of water (at 2.2 lbs per liter). The water flows like wine in the Sierras. Or at least that's what they say.
In hindsight, Southern California was sorta like a bad trip. You don't realize how uncomfortable you are along the way, but once it's nearly over you can look back and laugh. You'll come out a better, stronger person because you conquered those vast desert stretches. You've acquired the strength and confidence to take on the mountains. And you've earned them. 
And in the last two weeks, the Sierra Nevadas have gotten more snow than they have all winter (a record low snow year), so we've been executing ultra-supreme dilly-dallying in Lake Isabella (a 37 mile hitch from the trail) with our buddies, lounging on inflatable pool toys at the highway-side motel pool and painting our nails sparkly purple. It's supposed to be a whopping 100 degrees in Kennedy Meadows this weekend, so by the time we get there (only 50 miles from here), hopefully some of that fresh powder has melted and some of the bolder, more hardcore hikers have trampled down our path for us, paving the way up Forester Pass (the PCT's highest point).

Bring on the bear boxes, the micro spikes and the mosquito nets.

"Mama, Mama, many worlds I've come since I first left home."

Allison Cohn