Me & The Trail

 

 

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DAY 22

The views out here are stunning. I’ve been seeing sooo much beauty along this scenic trail.

Today I met a California Corrections Officer who is thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. At first, I felt a bit ashamed to tell him that my husband is in prison. I still have a difficult time sharing that with people, but this presented the perfect opportunity to share my husband’s blog. So I did. And he was intrigued and jotted down Steven’s site to check out. Cool.

 

DAY 23

I was settled in my tent for the night and ready to go to bed. I soon heard another hiker enter the campsite looking for a spot to set up their tent. After a few minutes of hearing them walk around breaking twigs/sticks I said, ” Hello.”

That’s when I heard it…the loud sniff from a very large animal!

I waited until I could see what it was from my small tent window. Yep! It was a bear!!!

Surprisingly, I did not panic. I knew exactly what to do: make noise.

It went away.

But then it came back a few minutes later. So I made more noise. Finally,the bear disappeared into the woods.

Would you believe it…the bear came back a third time! That’s when I unzipped my tent, stuck out my arm, and used my air horn a few times. The bear did not come back.

In the midst of all that, I said many prayers. I felt a calmness from being prepared and knowing exactly what to do in this circumstance. I was all alone in the wilderness, yet I did not feel alone.

 

DAY 24

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It was another HOT day. I had constant beads of sweat dripping from me. And my water turned warm quickly.

The trail was rocky today and I could feel the 90° heat radiating up from them. It was like being sandwiched between two blazing heaters. But I pushed forward, letting every bead of sweat motivate me.

 

DAY 25

I made it to Sierra City today for my re-supply stop. It’s a charming little town nesstled by the beautiful Sierra Buttes. The first thing I did was buy 2 ice cold Gateraid drinks and downed them. Very refreshing.

 



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I did not see many other hikers these past few days. It was mostly just me and the trail.

I feel success within me after every section I complete. The path I am on has been a rocky one at times, both literally and metaphorically, but the trail guides me in the right direction every time. I will keep to the path and continue forward.

 

Suzie Jennings

“Jingles”

 

Jingle All The Way

 

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DAY 12

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Echo Lake

I went on a water taxi across Echo Lake to start on the Pacific Crest Trail again.

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Desolation Wilderness

Today’s hike was very rocky and wobbly. Literally.

Within the first 30 minutes I passed a Park Ranger who was out hiking. That was re-assuring knowing he and others were out there. He and I chatted for a few minutes.

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Aloha Lake

I hiked to Aloha Lake today which has stunning clear blue water beneath the melting snowy mountains. I couldn’t believe its majestic beauty.

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My amazing mom got me a SPOT Gen3 GPS tracking device to use on my journey. It lets her see my exact latitude and longitude location. It also has an SOS button in case of a life or death emergency which would notify Search & Rescue, and it has a check-in button which notifies her that I am okay. Thank you, mom! I love you.

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Heather Lake

I camped at Heather Lake.

 

DAY 13

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Susie Lake

Looky! It’s Susie Lake. Awesome!

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Dick’s Pass

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top of Dick’s Pass

Today I hiked over Dick’s Pass. I can tell that my legs are growing muscle because they didn’t hurt as bad as when I first started. It’s a great feeling to feel my body strengthening every day.

I made camp at Lake Fontanillis. And at about 11 pm I was startled by the loud ROAR of a bear. It echoed within this valley of rocky mountains and boulders, so I couldn’t really judge where or how far away it was. When I first heard that ROAR I felt my entire body go into panic! The only way I can explain it is that it felt like an instant “hot flash” throughout my entire body in the cold of the night. It was scary! I stayed in my tent and took comfort in the objects I had: bear spray and an air horn. I said multiple prayers.

 

DAY 14

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Lake Richardson

I reached Lake Richardson today after hiking through a heavily forested section. It sure is a beautiful country out here!

 

DAY 15

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I spent today by the beautiful Lake Richardson. I rested and wrote in my journal right on the lake shore. Physically I felt strong, but I was mentally struggling. My support system is pretty much invisible out here. I must rely on my own inner strength and my own positive affirmations. Today I felt the need to stop and smell the roses and refresh my mind and spirit.

As I wrote in my journal I saw dragonflies, butterflies, bee’s, wildflowers, and chipmunks. It was a little windy so I could hear the water lightly smashing on nearby rocks. The bright sun was glittering on top of the lake…like sparkling diamonds floating on the surface.

A couple of hikers passing by asked to use my water filter. I was happy to help them.

I saw married couples and families out hiking together. I absolutely loved seeing that. But at the same time it brings sadness to my heart. When will I get to go on adventures with my husband and our kids?
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DAY 16

Today I cried off and on for the first 5 miles. Is my husband truly changing his bachelor ways? Is his heart really changing into a faithful man? When he gets out of prison, will he want a wholesome loving marriage like I’ve always dreamed of? I was feeling emotional and sensitive regarding my marriage.

I was almost sure that when I reached the Barker Pass Trailhead that I was going to hitch a ride up to HWY 89 into Tahoe City for a rest. I was feeling that bad. I was in need of inspiration, support, and encouragement.

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I arrived at the trailhead…and guess what? TRAIL MAGIC! Out of the kindness of their hearts, these awesome guys were BBQ’ing cheeseburgers with all the trimmings for all hikers passing through. I spent nearly 3 hours here chatting and conversing with other hikers. Everyone has such different stories to share. My spirits were instantly boosted from this fun group. Thanks guys!

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Bear Bell

A lot of hikers have asked me about my bell that jingles on my backpack. I tell them that it is my Bear Bell and that I am “Jingling All The Way” to Washington. Some chuckle at that, and some tell me that I don’t need a bear bell. But I’m keeping it.

I have an official trail name: “Jingles”

It’s silly, but it brings smiles to everyone’s face. They’ll hear me coming. 🙂

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I went to hang my food bag in a tree, and guess what I saw? Yep…a rope hanging nearby where someone else got their rope stuck. I’m not the only one. LOL

 

DAY 17

I got out of bed feeling good. I hiked 10.7 miles today. I crossed steep sections along the tops and sides of mountains. I was on top of the world!

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I hiked right under Squaw Valley Ski lift. Cool.

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I wish I could snuggle up close to my husband right now. What’s it like to sleep with the man I love, I wonder? And to wake up next to one another every morning? I miss and want all of the physical touches and intimacies that husbands & wives share. I’m so excited for our special moments to come. I love my husband dearly.

 

DAY 18

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Today I hiked 15.5 miles. Today was a challenging one.

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Tinker Knob

 

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Tinker Knob

I hiked up Tinker Knob. This was a dewsy for me! Then I hiked along the tops of mountains again.

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Within the last 8-10 miles today, I ran out of water. The seasonal streams were dried up. A kind fellow hiker shared 15 ounces of her water with me. I was so very grateful. It was a hot and dry day.

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The terrain was very rocky. The bottoms of my feet were burning hot and hurting, but I kept on going. I hiked over Donner Pass and made it to HWY 40 near Truckee, Ca. I camped here for the night, then hitchhiked into town the next morning. I set up camp in the dark tonight and had to use my flashlight while setting up my tent

 


 

As I stand on top of a mountain and look behind me at what I just hiked up & over, it’s such an incredible feeling! Then I look forward at what I still have to conquer. I tell myself, “I can do it! I am strong! I am capable!”

It’s an amazing feeling NOT to be a quitter. Now that I think of it, before this challenging hike, I rarely experienced what true personal success felt like. I love this feeling!

I will keep moving forward one step at a time…jingling all the way. 🙂

 

 

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Suzie Jennings

“Jingles”

I’m On My Way

 

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I’ve begun my hike to Washington on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I started at the Sonora Pass Trailhead in California with a 55 pound backpack.

 

DAY 1

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My mom, nieces, and sister-in-law walked the first mile with me. It’s such a blessing to have started my journey with their love and support.

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I hang my food in a tree every night (aka: a bear bag). My very first time took me nearly 45 minutes. The more I do it, the easier it gets.

 

DAY 2

I started out hiking slow, setting my own pace. Today was mostly all up hill as I began my climb above 10,000 feet.

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oops

Tonight as I attempted to hang my food bag, the counter-weight got stuck in the tree branches and I couldn’t get it down. Oops! I tried and I tried to get it down, but it wasn’t budging. I had to cut the rope. By doing so, I lost about 11 feet of my rope and a perfectly good carabiner clip. I had to leave it there hanging and go find another spot.

I found another tree and quickly went through the entire process of hanging my food again. It was successful. As I was finishing, a passing hiker yelled, “Nice bear hang!” That made me smile. Obviously he hadn’t seen my first attempt. LOL

 

DAY 3

I crossed my very first snowy patch today.

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Then I soon approached the second snowy patch, which was on a much steeper slope. I saw big foot imprints to follow, so I did. I got halfway through and started to see where the footprints began slipping and sloshing in the snow. I froze as I suddenly became aware of the melting snow under my feet. I was over half way to the other side, but I felt unstable, so I decided to turn around and find a path around this snowy patch.

For some reason, my mind shifted to worse case scenario…I thought to myself that I could just slowly slide down the snow to the dirt, then walk around.

And before I knew it, my right foot slipped in the slush and broke over the outer edge. I knew I was going down! I relaxed my body and went with it. I turned quickly so that I was sliding down with my back against the snow. I had to control the 55 pounds on my back, otherwise it would control me as I tumble out of control lower and lower down this steep slope.

As I was sliding down fast, I dug my heals into the dirt to slow me down. Then I used my left hand to help stop me. It all happened so quick, yet felt like slow motion at the same time. I slid about 35 feet below the snowy patch. Soon I came to a stop and the first thing I did was assess my injuries. No broken bones! Good! There I was on the side of this horribly steep slope. I used the one hiking stick that my hand was still gripping and stood up. With rocks and dirt slipping under me, slowly but surely, I climbed up to the trail.

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As I was safely resting directly across from where I fell I could see my other hiking pole still on the side of the slope and the slide mark I made in the snow. A passing hiker stopped to say hi. I told him what had just happened and he volunteered to go down and get my other hiking stick. OMGoodness!

I could’ve turned back, but I didn’t. I kept moving forward. I had to cross more than a dozen other snowy patches today. I said a prayer before each and every one of them!

It was not even noon yet, and I was still climbing in altitude. It seemed like the trail just kept going up and up and up. I kept going. I had to…it was constant cliff after cliff, so I had to make it to a decent place to set up camp.

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I reached the tippy top!

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Then it was down hill through huge boulders, multiple streams, mud, snow, and heat. The streams from the melting snow washed the trail away. Soon it was not visible at all! I looked around for other hikers, but there were none in sight. I said a prayer, then searched for footprints. I found some to follow! Yay!

Then mid-way through another snow crossing, I took a step with my right foot and sunk into the snow all the way up to my thigh. Luckily I had both my hiking poles to help me out.

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I descended down to a beautiful enchanting heavily forested valley and hiked a couple more hours before finally finding a campsite at about 7:15pm. As I climbed into my tent and changed into my night clothes, I saw my poor legs. Scraped and bleeding, bruised and throbbing, I felt the beating that my legs took in that fall and in the miles I walked afterwards. I tossed and turned all night.

Day #3 was definitely one I’ll always remember.

 

DAY 4

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I took what hikers on the PCT call a “zero” day, which means I stayed in camp all day. Rested. There was a stream nearby, so I filtered water to drink, rinsed a pair of clothes, and soaked my feet and legs in the ice cold water. I ate, even though I wasn’t hungry. But I knew my body needed nutrients and healing after yesterday.

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DAY 5

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I went through the process of taking down camp and started hiking about 9:30am. The scenery was beautiful today. I passed 3 waterfalls. And I had my first log crossing at a stream today. I absolutely love crossing streams and hopping from rock to rock trying to keep my feet dry. Every time I hopped over or forded a stream, I got a huge smile on my face. It made me feel good.

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DAY 6

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It was cold this morning! My hike started out all up hill today. My legs felt like jello. I stayed hydrated and I kept telling myself positive affirmations. Then the trail evened out a bit and I got a good pace going. Then the next summit approached and it was UP hill again. The view is breathtaking at the top of each and every summit. So worth it!

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Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter

I camped near a stream again tonight so that I could filter more water to drink and give myself a little bird bath. Hanging my food bag has gotten easier and takes me only about 15 minutes, on average, to do now.

 

DAY 7

I took another zero day today to rest my painful legs. I soaked them in an ice cold stream again.

 

DAY 8

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More UP and DOWN hiking today. More snowy patches. And more beautiful scenery! I reached Noble Lake and decided to make camp there for the night. It’s a peaceful little lake nestled in the mountains.

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DAY 9

Today started out all DOWN hill, which was nice.

At about 2pm I reached HWY 4. And I still had no cell phone service. I had to hitchhike! It was my very first time hitchhiking ever. It felt so strange at first, but I got a ride within an hour. Soon, I was able to check-in with my mom and family for the very first time in 9 days.

I checked my phone and saw that my sweet husband had tried calling me every day since I was on the trail. It’s so comforting knowing that I have his love and support. I think about him every single day. He is my shining star! I love and miss him so much.

My mom drove up to meet me. We spent 2 wonderfully relaxing days together. Thank you, Mom!

 


 

One life lesson that I’ve been learning is to finish what I start. There is no easy way out and there’s no quitting, especially in the middle of the wilderness. I must always make forward progress one step at a time. Obstacles let me know that I am alive and living.

I’ve got bear spray, an air horn, rope, and a pocket knife…but none of those objects helped me off that cliff after I slid down. I had to rely on my own individual strength and intelligence in that situation. After I climbed outta that, I felt a sense of success inside me. I can do this! I am doing this!

There has been challenging moments for me out there, moments when I wanted to quit and go home. But I kept pushing forward towards Washington.

At times while struggling UP hill, I’d cry my eyes out as I put one foot in front of the other. I soon realized that my tears weren’t just from the pain of hiking, but from other parts of my life where I was struggling. Hiking has been a way for me to release those pent-up emotions, and to turn my fear into faith.

I’m excited to continue on my journey and to see all the beauty out there, and to recognize the beauty and strength inside of me.

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My next section of the trail is 90+ miles long. Wish me luck! Thank you all so much for the love, support, and the prayers. I feel them so strongly.

Much love!

 

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Suzie Jennings

Hiking 1,000 Miles To Hug My Husband

How to Choose the Best Hiking Boots for You

Yep, I am!

Our marriage is full of Paper Hugs, and I really feel like going the distance to get a real one. I will start in California and hike north on the Pacific Crest Trail all the way up to Washington, where my husband is. I estimate that this long distance backpacking trip will take nearly 3 months.

This hike symbolizes my commitment and devotion. There will be peaks and valleys along the way on this trip, just as in our life together. Most of our communication is virtual right now (emails, blogging, social media, etc.). I just feel like I need to do something physical to make this marriage feel more real to me.

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Pacific Crest Trail

The romantic in me is doing this for my marriage. But I am also doing it for myself. To heal. To accept. To experience. To find my truth. To feel alive. And to feel a sense of personal accomplishment.

This will be a self-test to gauge how strong I really am and will show me that I am capable of anything I set my mind to. I need this to help push me out of my comfort zone. It will be physically & mentally challenging, no doubt. However, the spiritual rewards could be life-changing.

As I travel within the beauty of nature and within the beauty of myself, I will simultaneously be traveling towards my wonderful husband, Steven, whom I love and miss dearly. Knowing that every single step will literally unite us, is such a beautiful feeling inside me right now. I’m excited for this journey I am embarking on! Love will be my compass as I hike 1,000 miles to hug my husband.

I’d like to ask for your support & encouragement during this trip. Thanks everyone!

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Suzie Jennings

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A Letter To My Wife’s Family

My loving husband wrote this to my family…

Steven D. Jennings

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Who would want their daughter, sister, aunt, or any family member to get involved with a man in prison? Not me! I could only imagine.

But this is the situation for Suzie’s family. She’s involved with me. We’re in love. We’re married.

Here is a letter that I wrote to her family:

Dear Suzie’s Family,

Um…Hi. I’m a little nervous, so please bare with me. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I sincerely hope you do so with an open mind.

What is love?
What does it mean to truly love someone?
What is the ultimate goal in life?

To me, these answers are quite simple.
The ultimate goal is to be happy. To truly love someone means to treat them with respect and compassion at all times. Love is kind, gentle, and understanding.

I love Suzie. She is so sweet, kind, and compassionate. I recognize all her unique…

View original post 499 more words

GOAL: 100k Blog Followers

 

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My husband’s primary LOVE language is felt through ACTION. He asked me to get 100k followers on our blog: Real Love Letters. Please follow our blog and help me show him how much I love him!

#RealLoveLetters

Thank You!

❤  Love Is An Action  ❤

 

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Suzie Jennings

Light of Love

 

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I recently heard an analogy of being in a dark room, and flipping on the light switch.

 

The dark room – negativity

The light switch – positive, loving thoughts.

 

It really is common sense. Yet sometimes in the midst of negative thoughts, I seem blinded that there is an easy remedy to help turn the situation around.

The simple truth is that just one positive, loving thought can transform a negative mood. The light of love constantly shines bright and warm for everyone. But we must initiate it and intentionally reach out to flip on that light. Then our eyes will quickly adjust…and we will see things more clearly. No matter how dim it may seem at first, love has the power to completely wipe out the darkness.

It’s comforting to know there is a flow of love energy that is activated simply by focusing your thoughts and actions on love.

 

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Suzie Jennings

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