Saturday, July 05, 2014

New adventure for 2014!!

Hey everyone!  Its been a while.  Anyhow, hope you all have been well!  This year, 2014, I'm on a new adventure!

I'll be solo mountain biking a 2,700 mile trail called the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.  It goes from Banff, Alberta Canada to the USA/Mexico border at Antelope Wells, NM along the rocky mountains.  I will be riding southbound.  I leave Hawaii on July 10th and will be flying into Calgary!

check out and subscribe to my blog to follow my adventures!

Kyle is currently on the Continental Divide Trail.  It is a 3,100 mile hiking trail that parallels what i'm doing, but much higher in elevation and way more remote and gnarly!  He has already started and is somewhere in Colorado, heading Northbound.  I will be heading southbound, so i hope to find him on the trail or in town somwhere!

Keala's Great Divide Mountain Bike Route 2014 Blog!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

most epic coffeemaker EVER (pics and vid)

Hiking the PCT has made me appreciate good coffee.  My resupply person CJ is from the Seattle area (COFFEE!!), and has sent me delicious coffee the entire trip.  Hence, I can never go back to drinking mediocre coffee again. :)

Anyhow, I am currently living at Matt and Andy's house, and they are both genius nerds who love coffee.  I found this odd looking contraption in their kitchen, and at first I wasn't sure if it was kitchen cookware or a chemistry set.  Heres what i saw:

the bottom

the top

what it look likes put together

So just how the HECK does this thing make coffee you ask?  Ah ha!  Simple: through the marvels of...<drumroll>SCIENCE!!  You put the coffee grounds on top, and the water on the bottom.  Put the whole thing on the stove, it heats the water.  The top piece has a plug/filter on it (much like the drainplug on a bathroom sink) that is spring loaded.  As the water from the bottom heats and expands, the vapor pressure draws the water upward and mixes with the grounds inside.  Once most of the water is at the top, remove it from heatsource.  As the water cools and the molecules shrink again, all the water from the top gets sucked back into the bottom again, and the grounds stay on top.  Its AMAZING and so frickin cool.  I was thoroughly entertained.  Here it is, in action.  The water getting pushed up:

And then the water getting sucked back down:

The one Matt and Andy have is made by Bodum.  It is one of the more simpler ones.  Some come with a bunsen burner (extra nerd points!!).
And some are just *really* ornate and badass looking.
Anyhow, today is the first time I've seen one of these in action, and my mind is blown.  My world has completely changed forever.  Science + Coffee = Nerdgasm!!! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

partial Gear Review is up!

Ok ladies and germs, boys and ghouls!  My gear review is up.  I have most of my and Kyle's gear up.  I still have some things I need to add in there, especially the smaller miscellaneous things.  Sorry I don't have it *all* up yet.  This took a ridiculously *long* amount of time to do.  :)  I got the important things in, I'll update the rest soon.  I just wanted to get this in well before the holiday season, incase you guys were already making your holiday wish list. ;)

A note to the ladies: when it comes to clothing, try not to get too hung up on getting only "women-specific" stuff.  A friend of mine pointed out to me a few years back, that she primarily buys men's outerwear, because oftentimes with women's outerwear, the design is more fashion-conscious which sometimes compromises the functionality of the item.  If you're short like me, this doesn't always work well because sometimes even a men's small would be too big for me.  Besides, your goal on the trail should be to be warm/relatively comfortable, functional, and to survive.  Not to put on a fashion show.  Besides, after several hundred miles into the trail you'll be so gnarly you won't really care what you look like and neither will anyone else around you. :)

Gear Review located on the "Gear List/Gear Review" tab, or click here

Friday, November 09, 2012

Final Thoughts part 2...and Back in the Motherland <3

my office for the day, i was doing a short lifeguarding job here

It is so incredible to be back in Hawaii.  I am so happy to be home.  I pretty much hit the ground running when I came back.  I flew in Wednesday and I did a lifeguard job on Friday (I'm a for-hire lifeguard, not the city/county ones that patrol from those towers on the beach), then did a performance that night, and a sort-of performance after that one.  Saturday I was supposed to have 2 back-to-back gigs, samba dancing and gogo dancing at a Halloween Festival, but that got shutdown due to a tsunami warning and the police evacuated 10,000+ people from the festival.

my incredibly talented friend Nate and I.  We were both supposed to perform at the Halloween festival, just as we finished getting dressed, the tsunami sirens went off and the police herded the party-goers out of Chinatown

My Fung Soul Sistah Sky (shes not actually my blood sister, but we have the same last name, and we kind of look alike) at the Portuguese restaurant where we were supposed to dance
My adjustment back to the default world was a quick and easy one.  Kyle, not so much.  :(  Prior to the hike, Kyle and I lived drastically different lifestyles.  He works a 9-5 cubicle job in Orange County, CA and I am doing the starving artist thing out here and just flying by the seat of my pants, working whatever random and fun jobs my many marketable skills can get me.  It isn't always the most intelligent way to go, but hey its better than being a cubicle slave indoors, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  My goal in life is to be a good person and inspire other people to do things, and ultimately change the world for the better, starting with myself.  That won't happen being under florescent lights, sitting in front of a monitor all day.  Stuff like that just sucks out your soul.

So yeah, Kyle is bumming pretty hard.  His re-entry into the default world isn't exactly peaches and cream.  That sucks. :(  I can't imagine what its like to get off the trail and then immediately go back to a 9-5 cubicle job.  That is like the polar opposite of the trail. :(  I told him next time we go on an epic adventure, I just might not let him run away after the end.  He said he was ok with that. Whoo hoo! :)  On the bright side of things, Kyle has Squizzle! Yay! Squiz decided to stick with Kyle for moral support, plus they have a nice bond going on.  Lol!  I think Squizzle is helping Kyle maintain sanity as he tries to re-integrate in southern california.

Squizzle goes surfing with Kyle!

the PCT thru-hiker completion medal.  Good Job Squiz!

*sniff sniff*  by the way, that medal is really heavy!

Squizzle and Kyle, at a brewery somewhere.  Squizzle looks pretty stoked to be surrounded by beer glasses as big as him.

Final thoughts part 1....and going HOME...Finally :)

Wednesday 10/24/12

It has been a long and incredible journey, and now I can finally go home.  The trail has been great, but Hawaii is better. :)  I am sooooo stoked to be going back and to be dancing again!!  Leaving Kyle was not so fun though...  Its hard to leave someone who has been an extension of my own self for the last 5 months, and who has been with me through the most incredible experience of my life..  I found him way back at mile 600.  We have hiked together for over 2,000 miles.  Thats a lot.  That is a lot more than many other pairs have survived.  Lol!  There have been many friendships/relationships forged and many lost.  We heard of a couple who got engaged while on trail, on top of Mt.Whitney.  In Chester, CA we heard they split apart and both got off trail.  Yikes!  A section hiker we met said that oftentimes, with pairs, you have one who is the motivator and one who is the slacker.  And its kinda true!  Lol.  Like, with Doe Eyes and Scrub Rat, she was clearly the motivator and he the slacker.  Haha!  They are so cool.  But with Kyle and I, neither of us were ever in much of a hurry to get anywhere, so I guess that makes both of us the slacker? :)

Its interesting how, due to the nature of the trail, it really takes a certain dynamic between two people to successfully travel together.  Just because two people get along in the default life does not mean they are compatible on trail.  Its so ironic too, that I am a fiercely independent person, as is Kyle, and both of us originally had the intention of *not* hiking with other people.  Funny how the most epic of my travel adventures have been with strangers or almost-strangers.  In my opinion, that is the way to do it.  If you just set forth with no expectations, you leave yourself open to the possibility of encountering someone who very well may be your perfect travel companion.  I think that, when you travel with someone you know well, you already have preconceived notions and ideas of the other person from the default world, and those characteristic don't always transfer well into a traveling type of setting.

The best advice I can give to an aspiring thru-hiker is to be open, adaptive and flexible.  Try and approach the trail with no expectations, and if you're solo, try not to immediately group up with people.  I think that when you leave yourself open like that, you are more receptive to what the Universe has to offer you, and therefore will get the utmost experience from this journey.  The way the trail goes, things will change on the fly, and it is up to you how you deal with it.  If you are too intentional on following a preplanned idea, it may not be conducive to your current situation.  Its like surfing.  If you are too stiff and rigid, you will fall off your board once the wave comes; if you are relaxed and can absorb the movement of the board, you will stay on and get the ride of your life. 

Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) is a very common phrase you will see and hear used, yet not often enough is it truly adhered to.  I think it takes a very strong and independent person to truly hike *your* own hike, and not fall victim to peer pressure or be influenced by opinions/desires of others.  Its one thing to do something because *you* want to do it, its a completely different thing to be swept by a wave and just going along on some else's ride.  This hike will be one of the most incredible things you will do in your entire life.  For many, this is a one-shot opportunity that might not ever arise again. So why would you do anything to compromise your experience?

Many of you have asked thoughout the last few weeks, how I felt about the trail soon to be over.  I honestly didn't have time to reflect on that much, because our situation was so intense.  It wasn't like the hikers that finished a week before us, and had perfect weather all the way.  We were cold and freezing, and it took all my focus and energy to deal with that.  In a way it was a blessing in disguise, because the status of our current situation took so much out of me that I didn't really have time to lament that the hike would soon be over.  In the back of my mind, I knew it was coming.  Its a bittersweet feeling, really.  I did have a breakdown in Winthrop.  With 30 miles to go, the realization that the life I've been living the past 6 months (which is now so permanently etched into my being) will soon come to a close, was just too overwhelming.  Sigh... 

I am so blessed and grateful to be living in the most beautiful place in the world.  Stepping off the plane at Honolulu International Airport, and feeling the rush of warm air and humidity is, to me, one of the best feelings in the world.  It is as if Hawaii is wrapping a soft blanket around me and saying, "welcome back!  we are glad you're home".  Anyone from Hawaii, you know what I'm talking about. :)  Talk about the polar opposite of where I boarded the plane, which was in Bellingham, WA.  It was cold, grey, on/off rainy, and just BLEH over there.  Hard to imagine just a couple days ago I was sleeping on top of snow.

Me, Butterstuff, Squizzle, and Kyle at a Five Guys burger place, I've never been before!  holy crap their soda selection is insane!!  i think they have over 100 flavors you can chose from, and their dispenser is touch screen...

Squizzle needs a high chair

water fountain at the Bellingham airport.  Geunius!!

grateful to be home in the most beautiful place in the world


Tuesday 10/23/12
Mile 2,668.8 DONE!!!! :D
Elevation 3,900'

The good thing is, it was a lot warmer here than our camping spot the night before, so that was nice.  It didn't snow very much, so the trail wasn't buried or anything.  Whoo hoo!  Today we shall finally arrive at Manning Park!!  We packed up early and started backtracking to the spot where we were closest to the highway.

the random trail we were on had a lot of blowdowns.  heres Kyle crawling under one of the fallen trees

We bushwhacked a bit, found the closest and shallowest place to ford the river, and went for it.  We got our feet and pants wet but it didn't matter, we just wanted to be done with the trail for good!  Lol! So we finally got onto the road.  YAY!  We had to road walk a bit because we were still a mile or two away from the Lodge, but that was just a minor inconvenience.  We got to the lodge around 10am and found the other hikers.  They were all packing up to get ready to check out.  Typo and Waldo were there too.  They were Team Snowshoe part A.  They left Winthrop way early in the morning the same day we left, and were intending on pulling a Hail Mary for the 30 miles from Harts Pass to Canada.  They didn't make that whole section in one go, they camped overnight somewhere.  But they still got in the day before the rest of the gang did, and 2 days before Kyle and I showed up.  We were all figuring out what we were going to do.  At some point, we all decided that we were going to take the Greyhound bus into Vancouver.  How convenient that the Greyhound stops here at 11am.  Whoo hoo!

Waldo, Scrub Rat, Doe Eyes, waiting for the bus

Cityfood, Typo, Scallywag, Kyle
Prior to me leaving Winthrop, the plan was for my mom to wait in Vancouver until I called, and then come get me when I arrived in Manning Park.  Hence the reason I chose to take the bus into Vancouver, so as to save her time.  Its about a 3 hour drive from Vancouver to Manning Park.

In epic irony, I find out halfway on the bus ride that CJ and my mom were in Manning Park.  They wanted to "surprise" me.  WHAT THE HELL?!?  Holy macaroni that was such an epic fail.  Lol!  Gosh that was pretty funny.  Ah well, they had good intentions.  Oops.

Later at the Vancouver bus station I saw my mom and CJ.  YAY!  Happy reunion!  We all went out to an epic Chinese restaurant and ice cream.  There is an ice cream shop in Vancouver that has over 200 flavors of ice cream.  That was NUTS and incredibly overwhelming.  YAY!  Lol.  Holy crap, I was so tired.  I just wanted nothing else but to pass out.  Seriously.  Uuuugh.  Plus the whole city was seriously creeping me out and I was not stoked on it.  Vancouver is HUGE.  Holy crap it is a gigantic city.  Waaaaay too overwhelming.  Damn I don't even remember the last time I was in a city this big.  All I wanted to do was just pass out or get out.  Ugh.  It was gnarly.

I also got to see my grandma.  That was super duper awesome.  I don't remember when the last time I saw my grandma was.  I think it was at least 10 years, if not more, since I've seen my grandma.  Her health is failing and she has Alzheimer's, so I was really stoked I got to see her before her health took a permanent path south...  My mom warned me that her memory was failing and a lot of times she doesn't remember things or people.  When I walked into her room at the nursing home she lived in, she immediately cried my name.  That was so incredibly awesome.  She was so joyous I thought she was going to cry.  It was a very beautiful moment.  My grandma speaks a dialect of Chinese that I no longer understand, but there was no doubt that she was just overcome with joy.  It was so, incredibly awesome to see my grandma.  She looked so different than when I last saw her, yet still the same.  Just a lot older.  But joyous.  So much joy. <3  I sat there for a while and listened to her bubbly recollections of when I was a kid.  She helped raised me for a good chunk of my toddler and early childhood years.  She kept saying how when I was about 2 or 3 years old, I would climb onto and sit on her feet and she would lift me up and down with her feet, like a see-saw.  It was an incredibly beautiful final memory of my grandma.

Day 187: CANADA!!!!! kinda...

Monday 10/22/12
Miles 2,654-2,668 (14 miles)
Elevation 3,900'

Ooooo man it was COLD this morning!!!!  At around 10:30am we were all still huddled in our sleeping bags.  Kyle and I were the first to leave.  Gotta get movin!!  We were camped at 6,200 feet and it was chilly!!  Dang it was hard to get up in the morning.  It was hilarious, we were all just talking to each other inside our tents, no one was in a hurry to move.  But alas, the border will not get closer if we just sit on our butts in the tent all day!

Once on trail, I was soon passed by Scallywag and then Cityfood.  They were in much more of a hurry than I to get to the border.  When we were about a half mile away, we suddenly hear a bunch of screaming and yelling.  Cityfood has reached the monument, and wasn't far away.  Lol!  It was hilarious, him and Scallywag were screaming like Banshees the entire time from when we first heard them til we got to the monument.

Doe Eyes, taking a photo

We finally found it.  The monument.  The concrete block that we've been seeing in other hiker's photos for the past month, from all the hikers that have already finished.  The pillars of concrete that seemed like a mere fleeting wish, just 6 months ago.  The carbon copy of the same monument at the Southern Terminus of the trail, in Campo California, right next to the Mexican Border.  Holy crap.  We did it.  And we did it in snowshoes.  Hahaha!  Dang, we hiked a lotta miles to get here!!

victory is ours!

at the bottom right corner of this picture is another, hollow monument that people left a lot of random crap in.  amongst that was the Staples' "that was easy" red button.  hahaha.  thats the red thing you see on the monument to my left.  when you push the button, a voice says "well that was easy".  hikers...we have a sense of humor ya know. :D

doing it Aloha style!!

Kyle, celebrating with some whiskey! you see that white line that is just above the monument?  That is the US/Canadian border.  Yup, its just a giant long treecut in the middle of the forest.

Squizzle is high-5ing the snowman (that Scallywag made)

Team Snowshoe For The Win!!
We didn't really spend that much time at the monument.  It was cold and I wanted to keep moving.  Besides, it ain't over til the fat lady sings, right?  We still need to get to the Manning Park Lodge which was 8 miles away.  And it started snowing which means the clouds moved in and it was getting cold!  Its amazing how much body heat you lose when you stop moving.  The good news is, its all downhill from here!  YAY!  At this point we didn't need snowshoes anymore.  We were in low enough elevation that the snow wasn't very thick at all and it was much faster and easier to just walk in our regular shoes.  Kyle and I absolutely hauled ass to get to Manning park lodge.  We were now in Manning Provincial Park (the Canadian version of the State Parks that we have here).

We hauled so much ass, in fact, that we missed a turn at right as it was about to get dark, we realized we were on the wrong trail.  WHAT THE HECK?!?!  The last few miles of trail we were on an old jeep road.  At some point we were supposed to make a left turn.  We missed the left turn and ended up at the bottom of the hill.  The good news is, we can hear the highway and we knew it was right in front of us.  The bad news is, there is a wide stream between us and the highway.  The trail pretty much just stopped.  We have no idea what trail we were on now, but it basically led to nowhere.  A dead end in the forest with a stream.  Meanwhile, we can hear cars.  On the other side of the stream.  ARRRRRRGGGGGG!!!!  What made this incredibly frustrating is, it is now dark, so bushwhacking is not an intelligent option.  If we slipped on some unseen branch and broke and ankle or something that would just be horrible. 

We saw a map and a sign that pointed to a trail that supposedly led to a stream crossing about 3 miles up, so we tried for that.  We opted to stay on an established trail, as opposed to trying to bushwhack and then getting lost or something equally dumb.  So, about 2 miles into this random side trail, it heads inland and  uphill.  WHAT THE HECK?!?  According to the sign we saw, it was supposed to parallel the stream and then eventually cross it.  We were going up the mountain, opposite of where we want to be.  Damnit, Canada!  Update your signs!!  Lol!  Geez... Perhaps the most demoralizing thing of the whole ordeal was that the highway was so close that at a couple points on the trail, we could see headlights of the passing cars through the trees.  Only problem is that damn stream between us and the road.  We could have just tried to ford the stream in the dark, but that just seemed like an accident waiting to happen.  So we made camp and would try it in the morning when it was light out.

Who'd have thought we'd be camping another night in the snow?  Lol.  Oh the beautiful irony of the trail.  The PCT was not going to let us go without one last hurrah.