Mile 943: Day 44: Toulumne Meadows Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart
June 9, 2014 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Writer Carrot Quinn is walking from Mexico to Canada for the second time. In 2013, she hiked the Pacific Coast Trail (2,663 miles) from Mexico to Canada.

She'd got plans for a book, thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. Quinn wrote that she liked the desert the most. She'd spent much of her younger years riding freight trains and hitchhiking across the US. Photos from her journey here. Earlier interview from the Pacific Crest Trail Association blog with Quinn about her writing here.
posted by Ideefixe (13 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a solo runner that mostly runs on country roads and along the Niagara river. And while I am not anywhere as ambitious as Carrot Quinn, I can appreciate what she has to say about the desert:
All of it, all of space and time and possibility, the future the past and the present, twinkling obligingly and singing its song of eternal, never-ending magic. Just up there, twinkling. All for me, in my sleeping bag on the warm sand, a little breeze crinkling my ground sheet, my shoes lined up next to my head. I’ll check those for scorpions in the morning.
There's something wondrous about a long run with nothing but nature as your companion. Great post.
posted by Fizz at 9:04 AM on June 9, 2014

What little I know of this type of endeavour is from reading Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods about his attempts to do just sections of the Appalachian Trail. So it is amazing that this woman is doing an even longer trail for the second time and has another lined up for 2015.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 9:25 AM on June 9, 2014

Very cool. I had an acquaintance do it last year, fully documenting it with photos and a daily journal using an iPad mini with a data connection. I was amazed it worked so well, but she rocked it and I loved following it along through the year. It got under her skin like it did for this author, and this year she's back on the trail working as a helper at certain segments instead of thru-hiking it again.

Here's her instagram account, if you scroll back to a year ago you can see the whole trip pass by.
posted by mathowie at 9:32 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, I haven't read through Carrot Quinn's journals yet, but does she touch on the safety issues? I've heard many women many times on epic thru-hikes talk about being cornered by huge strange men while hiking, getting sexist comments day by day from male hikers, and having their circle of friends and family terrified for their safety hiking alone. A female friend I hiked the grand canyon with had epic tales of being chased/stalked on the Appalachian Trail on a thru-hike.
posted by mathowie at 9:35 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

matt -- my expectation is that a woman raised by a single mom in Alaska and progressing through a young adulthood as a train jumping vagabond may have a different perspective and skillset for being a solo female outdoor traveler. I know one woman who's done the PCT and two women who've thru-hiked the AT (and a third who is in progress on the AT) and while they've had a couple of stories about sexist comments and occasional creepiness, for them it was no big deal -- or unexceptional compared to, say, being a solo female international backpacker.

One thing to keep in mind with thru-hiking is that while you may set off alone, you will frequently encounter other section or thru hikers who will be traveling at the same pace as you, and you will almost naturally band together, if only for companionship and a relief from the solitude; but it also has benefits for security. It looks like, from a cursory and random sampling of Quinn's 2013 trek, she also had a semi-regular group of trail buddies that she'd cross path with.

It's sometimes a crapshoot. You might find life long friends or are trapped in terrible company. Overall, though, it's generally possible to ditch people that you don't get along with simply by varying your pace ("Oh, you go ahead, I think I'll stick around camp and take a rest day.") But trail buddies that you can stick with and rely on are gold.
posted by bl1nk at 9:56 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is insanely fascinating. Before we got word on my husband's new job and a rush-job to sell/pack up our house in a few weeks, he and I were making summer plans to get a city girl like me more comfortable hiking and maybe some easy camping trips to ease me into it (I am not Canadian, so I was not born with those 'roughing it' genes). So thanks for sharing! I will probably never do a hike like this in my entire life but it's cool to read and look at her pictures!
posted by Kitteh at 9:56 AM on June 9, 2014

and having their circle of friends and family terrified for their safety hiking alone

I sort of get this, because The Wilderness! Isolation! Being Alone!

But all the bad things - being cornered by scary people, getting sexist and threatening comments from strangers, disappearing without a trace, etc. - can and do happen to women in cities all the time. There was the terrible murder of the lesbian couple on the AT some years ago, but there was the terrible home invasion of a lesbian couple who lived in a city or nice suburb (I have suppressed the details) also some (fewer) years ago.

Anyway. Bleh.

I look forward to looking that the photos and journal entries. Thanks!
posted by rtha at 10:14 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've heard many women many times on epic thru-hikes talk about being cornered by huge strange men while hiking

My wife has done a few sections of the Appalachian Trail solo, including all of it through CT and MA, and she never had any bad experiences. She has had a bad experience or two walking alone in the city, however. Most people's experiences on the trail are just the opposite, people going out of their way to be friendly and helpful.

I also have a few friends, women and men, who have done the AT. Most of the sexist comments come not from other thru-hikers, but from "tourists" on the trail (usually within a mile of a road) who comment about how dangerous hiking alone is.
posted by bondcliff at 10:37 AM on June 9, 2014

I did that on my way back from Grouse Lake in the Mokelumne (sp?) wilderness when I was about 15. There s a trail waaaaay around, & back down to a meadow below, & my uncle Bob looked at the topo & said "It's not too steep here -- I think we can scramble down here & cut a couple miles off this loop." I mean, we could see the trail down there, so away we went. By the time we'd gone 50 feet, we were committed, because there was no going back up. Spent the better part of the day alternately sliding across 50º sloping snow patches (one had a hole melted in it 6 feet deep by a large dark rock that had rolled out onto the snow then absorbed sunlight, which made for an interesting desperation twisting turning move as we slid right towards it) lowering our packs by rope, chimneying down trees & between boulders, etc. Learned a lot about not falling to my death that day.

Sure do miss those mountains, though.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:51 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh lordy, the High Sierras. Her shot of the Wood Creek Bridge, for example, hit me right smack dab in the middle of my nostalgia button.

(BTW...the further you get from the trailhead, the fewer dipshit mashers you encounter. The sections between Walker Pass are Yosemite are nearly pristine, once you get off the PCT.)
posted by mule98J at 11:23 AM on June 9, 2014

I love the posts where she's in a bad mood!

Or rather, I like the way she owns her bad mood, and doesn't let it stop her or get her down.
posted by kanewai at 11:41 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's a recent profile of Heather Anderson AKA "Anish" who a year ago (yesterday) began a record-setting unsupported PCT hike, finishing in 60 days and 17 hours.
posted by donovan at 11:49 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I went over Kearsarge and Glen Passes last year just like Carrot Quinn did this year....Only it took me three days to do what she did in one. My hat's off to her! That's some serious hiking.
posted by le_vert_galant at 12:01 PM on June 9, 2014

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