Friday, March 6, 2015

ALDHA West Ruck aka a weekend full of legends

I spent this past Saturday in Cascade Locks, OR at the Ruck. The Ruck was one of 3 early season gatherings put on by ALDHA-West. It was a full weekend of pretty amazing times, but before I get too excited and chatter endlessly I'll rewind and give a bit of background.

the last time I was in Cascade Locks, the super exciting
milestone of the  Oregon Washington Border on the PCT

A few months ago I saw a Facebook post about a holiday gathering inviting all the local hiker trash over to a BBQ. All hosted by a hiker named Shroomer in Martinez. Through the lovely gossipy world of hikers I had heard the name before but had never been brave enough to go. But being back in the bay and feeling somewhat lost I figured why not. I'll pat myself on the back and say this was simply one of my best decisions lately. For the first time in years I felt like I was truly home. A house full of hikers, connecting over shared but different memories, full of inspiring stories and wanderlust. A group that gets together regularly with an ever revolving door of amazing people from all walks of life all held together by the amazing Triple Crowner Shroomer, who could ask for more? That man is one amazing individual full of kindness, generosity and some truly fantastic stories. Somewhere during one of our intense climbs of Mt Diablo Shroomer mentioned the Ruck in Cascade Locks. He said he'd be driving and I should come along. The thought came and went and a month or so later real dates suddenly existed and with the weekend off I figured I should suck up my shyness and give it a shot. The hiking community amazingly embraced me after a few years out of step and I figured at least I would know one person right?

Now onto the actual event, what the heck is ALDHA West and whats the Ruck you ask?
ALDHA West is the American Long Distance Hiking Association's Western chapter. ALDHA is all about long distance hikers, their mission is to promote fellowship and communication among long distance hikers, and those who support long distance hiking. They put on a number of events throughout the year including the Ruck hosted at Cascade locks. A ruck is a pretty straightforward one day event. Rather than trying to explain it I'll just let ALDHA West do the fancy work:

"Ruck is the German word for Backpacking, and has been used through the trail community as a name for an event that helps you get out and backpack. This day-long event is designed for all sorts of backpackers (from novice to expert) to prepare themselves for the hiking season.The primary focus is on attendees looking to set out on their first long distance hike be it on the Camino de Santiago, Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, Timberland, Wonderland, or John Muir Trail. Whether you are on trail for a few days or several months, if you’re hiking this summer, this is the event to attend!"

So there you go, thats what I was attending. Shroomer was in charge of feeding the hordes and I figured I would help, maybe learn a thing or two and meet some cool folks. And luckily all of the above happened. 

We drove up to Ashland first, stopping to pick up Why Not ( on the way. With two triple crowners at my mercy I asked questions to my hearts content. We went trail town by trail town north and I feel like I may finally have at least a vague handle on something planning wise. Then it was a great night in Ashland with Lint and the amazing Justa, meeting up with another bay area local Symbiosis and even enjoying one of the fine shows hosted by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Then up to Portland to Allgood's house and whole lot more prep work for Saturdays festivities with Snorkel and Mr G helping run the show.

no run of the mill road trip food for us, Justa is one good cook and fun to talk recipes and dehydrators with for sure

Now lets take a quick break here, for those of you not particularly enmeshed in the hiking community these names mean nothing. But I like blogs and spend a fair bit of time living vicariously through others so I was a little bashful around these folks. I mean these are some seriously accomplished people. Shroomer and Why Not are triple crowners, Symbiosis is ridiculously well traveled and has biked across the US among other adventures, Allgood is the president of ALDHA-West as well as an AT thru hiker and former ridge runner, Lint has over 20000 miles to his name including a double triple crown (and well into his third) and Snorkel broke the unsupported speed record on the AT in 2011 and is triple crowner younger than me. Quite the mouthful! And thats not even close to everyone who showed up this weekend. 

Okay enough background. Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny and after a flurry of driving and setup a very successful Ruck was underway. Lectures interspersed with raffles all day long. Glen Van Peski (founder of Gossamer Gear) talked up going light, then gear shakedowns for those who brought packs and many a thru hiker happily spread their knowledge, presentations on PCT navigation, a panel discussion all about resupplying and food, Leave No Trace and Trail etiquette, including pretty hilarious hole digging extravaganza all concluded by a triple crown presentation by the fantastic and very media savvy blogger Wired ( A number of different gear companies were there as well. Which was pretty cool as most ultralight gear is really only sold online and hands on is way more fun. Six moon designs, Montbell and Gossamer Gear were the bigger names.

She-ra, yours truly and Justa, clearly taking life very seriously
 as we enjoy our fancy new hiker trash hats

She-ra, Jill, myself, Allgood amazed by our lucky
sunshine filled day

My personal favorites were Hikertrash and Purple Rain adventure Skirts. I might be slightly partial to these two companies because they are still fairly new and have some pretty awesome ladies involved. Renee "She-Ra" Patrick and Brian Frankle are the brains behind Hikertrash. While Mandy "Purple Rain" Bland is behind Purple Rain Adventure Skirts. Side note, pretty sure this snazzy skirt will be soon spotted gracing my lower half on the CDT...

Mandy of the infamous Purple Rain Adventure Skirts
 on the Left and Jill who will be setting out on a PCT
section hike this summer with her husband

We packed up, cleaned up and mostly just avoided going home for the rest of the evening. Spending the night in Cascade Locks then back to Portland. We hit up the local Montebell store enjoying our free door prize and laughed at all the hikers we ran into in the area. Then on to Amtrak and a 17 hour train road home enjoying the countryside and the company of hikers to close out my weekend.

If you are still reading I'm impressed! Lots of chatter and not enough pictures, but soon enough it will be mountains and so much more, can't wait!!!

just a few pretty views during the long ride home

And now for more links:


Liz "Snorkel" Thomas has a nice and more official post about the ruck: (also check out her blog, thats one rad lady). 

She-Ra and Hikertrash:

Purple Rain Skirts: 

If you are in the area there will be one more Ruck hosted by the wonderful Snorkel on Saturday March 14th in Golden Colorado.

and thanks to She-ra, I shamelessly stole some of these photos from her blog, apparently I need to brush up my photo taking game before this summer

1 comment:

  1. perfect post-colonoscopy ( still druuuuged up) reading . . . .