Pacific Crest Trail - It's Gett'n Real
As I ease into the final days before starting my adventures on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), I am feeling optimistic and eagerly awaiting my April 1st start date.
As reported in my previous post, I have been on a training regiment to get myself mentally and physically prepared. Stretching, yoga, meditation, gym exercises and hiking are all part of the routine. This morning the bathroom scales reported some good news. I achieved my target weight of 165 lbs. Unless I lose focus and revert to being a couch potato, it looks like I am on track to begin my journey in the best shape I have been in many years.
Another of my recent activities has been getting my backpack and camping gear in order. My target weight for the backpack, less food and water, was 15 lbs. To get my pack down to the bare bones minimum I had to carefully weigh and assess everything I planned to take, including the backpack itself. For my pack I selected a Zpack Haul that weighs 24 ounces. In addition to being light and comfortable, it has ample carrying capacity for all those Twinkies and Ding Dongs I plan to consume while hiking. It is also waterproof, eliminating the need for a separate rain cover. For my sleeping arrangements, I decided to use a rainproof bivy bag instead of a tent. Although I found several tents that were ultra lightweight, the advantages of a bivy bag is that it can be quickly rolled out anywhere and does not require stakes or poles. I am also taking an ultra lightweight tarp I can setup in case it rains really hard.
With these basics resolved, I went through every item I considered taking to determine if it was necessary or there was a lighter option. Toothpaste is 1 ounce heavier than an equivalent amount of tooth powder. Did I really need five fluid ounces of Dr Bronner’s soap? Nope. About half that amount would do just fine, thank you. I don’t need a year’s supply of dental floss either. Nor do I need deodorant. I don’t think the bears will mind it if I smell a bit gamey.
Another area where I cut out a lot of unnecessary weight was clothing. I decided against taking extra hiking pants and shirts. Instead, I will just swap out my clothes every 600 to 700 miles. Extra underwear and hiking socks are the only extra clothing items I plan to take.
Then there are those things some thru-hikers might consider unnecessary luxuries. For me the most obvious are shoes to wear at night at the campsite. I have a pair of lightweight Crocs that come in around eight ounces. Originally, I threw them in my pack not giving it much consideration. Then I thought, wow, I could save a half a pound if I left them behind. But then, I thought how good it would feel after a long day to take off my boots and relax in Crocs. So, I threw the Crocs back in my backpack.
Electronics is another luxury. I plan to use my iPhone as my communication device, GPS unit and camera. To do that I will need to bring along a small solar panel and battery. I used this approach on the Colorado Trail and appreciated how well it worked. So these electronics are also going along with me.
Next order of business was to come up with trail food that I could purchase at nearby grocery stores which would provide me 4000 calories or more per day. I settled on a diet consisting of tortillas, peanut butter, olive oil, ramen, instant oatmeal, dried fruit, nuts, instant potatoes, instant soups, energy bars, Snickers (yep, Snickers), and any high calorie sweet treats I can lay my hands on. I also plan to eat at every restaurant within walking distance of the trail. Hopefully this approach will prevent significant weight loss.
Fully loaded with all my gear, including six days of food and two liters of water, my pack will weigh in at 29 pounds. Not too bad.
Lastly, I mapped out my schedule along with locations where my friend Alena will ship parcels of food and clothing. Below are a few mileposts and tentative dates I will be passing through.
Location Date Notes
Kennedy Meadows 10-May Resupply for the bear country and the mountains
Vermillion Valley Resort 19-May Resupply food
Tuolumne Meadows 23-May Eat pie and lots of real food
Lake Tahoe 1-Jun Return bear canister and crampons
Mount Shasta (Castella) 24-Jun Resupply with food and clothing
Ashland, OR 6-Jul Chillax
Government Camp 1-Aug Visit Portlandia
Hart Pass, WA 30-Aug Almost there!!
E.C. Manning in Canada 2-Sept Drink large quantity of beer
Well, there isn’t much more to do at this point but stick with my training program and wait anxiously for April 1st to arrive.
My next post will be from the PCT marker at the border near the Campo, California. Then it’s off to Canada on my five month adventure.