Final Tune Ups - a basic update on what we've been up to.

Since the last post, we've been spending our time in the sunny Southwest - alternately doing tune up hikes and setting up cancer treatments.

We got to Vegas on the 1st of April and headed straight to the desert to begin ironing out the final kinks in our PCT gear and planning, tackling what we thought would be an easy 2 mile hike to a free camping spot at Gold Strike Hot Springs outside of Henderson.  It turned out that we were actually canyoneering in heavy packs, and three hours and a bunch of bruises later, we holed up in a spot about a half mile short of our destination.

The next day our egos were similarly bruised as we exited the canyon, got our tires re-inflated (some punks let the air out of all four at the trailhead) and drove up to 7000 feet at Mt Charleston.  Angel expressed doubts about my stated plan to climb 2000 more to a saddle to camp for the night, but she did, and we did.  Things were great until about 2 am, when we both woke up freezing, with splitting headaches, and never really recovered.  Our water was frozen through in the morning, and we both felt like we had terrible hangovers from the altitude, so we booked it down the mountain as quickly as we could.  For the second day in a row, a two mile hike kicked our butt.

So it felt a bit better the next day when we hike about 5 miles up a jeep road in Red Rock canyon and crashed uneventfully in a beautiful spot at the top of a hill with a great view down the canyon.

The rest of the week between April 4 - April 10 was spent organizing and going to doctor visits between Vegas and LA, and trying to squeeze in some positive productive time w/the family. 

On the 10th, we realized that we had a lot of friends who would be at the Zion 100, a mere 2 hour drive from Vegas, so we made an impromptu trip down.  After dinner in Vegas with our friend Meghan Molnar (who happened to be in town mountain biking), we got in late on Friday night, and camped out at the last aid station. Fortuitously enough, the first person who came through the station after we laid down was our friend Steven Kent, who absolutely killed it with a top 10 finish in his first 100.  We crashed pretty hard, and the next morning one of the first people we saw when we woke up was Alison Naney, another Seattle friend who was en route to finishing a 100 10 months after having a kid.  (Beat that Steve!)  Then, shortly after, we saw our friend Tony Sandoval from San Diego, and our friends Beth Steen and Sarah Benrath who were there to crew.  After grabbing some coffee, we headed to the finish line and watched Alison come through and caught up with Steve, who'd gotten more sleep than we had after finishing at 2 am.

After that, we headed on a day hike to Observation Point in Zion NP carrying our packs for tune up, then caught up with the Seattle crew at the local brewery (where else), and then drove out to a random spot in the desert to camp with Beth and Sarah before heading back into the park the next morning.

On Sunday the 12th, we camped on the West Rim Trail - about 9 miles of backpacking and another mile for the out and back to Angel's Landing - the most exposed/hardcore popular hike I've ever been on.  The next day we hiked back out, and while we were having a rest just above the Angel's Landing turnoff, we saw a runner powerhiking by, and Angel was like "Jessie?!  Is that you?"

"Yeah.  Who are you?!"

"It's me, Angel!"

It turns out we happened to be in the same place at the same time as Jessica Kelley, who was en route for a Zion Traverse.  No one initially recognized each other due to running into each other in a weird context and all being decked out in full outdoor gear, hats, and sunglasses.  All in all, the trip to Zion was a nice reminder of 1) how lucky we are to have the kinds of friends that we have, 2) why we're doing what we're doing and 3) how hard consistent 20 mile days are going to be in heavy packs!

At this stage, the plan is to start sometime this week - probably the weekend right around our planned date of April 19th.