Category Archives: planning

buy a digital scale.

20 Days out

If you are doing the PCT soon (or even the AT or CDT) and don’t have a digital kitchen scale, I suggest you go right now down to the store and buy one. You can find them in any major grocery store in the baking aisle near the baking timers and graters etc. Get one that goes up to at least 11lbs (176oz), they should do both grams and ounces.  It will cost about $20-$30 but I think it is worth it.

Weight is really important to people who have to carry all their stuff for thousands of miles.

Previously I was either going based on manufacturer listed weight, the weight that is stated on Amazon for the item or simply guessing when Amazon would only provide ‘shipping weight’ of 1lb for a pair of underwear. So, for the guessing, I would ‘guess’ that a handkerchief would weight in at 1oz, that seems like a fair guess right? No, it is 1.3oz, so when you start guessing like that and assume that your 1.4oz underwear are 1oz and that a shirt should reasonably be 3oz instead of the 4.6oz it is, this can go bad, and all these things add up fast. Sort of like when you take your change into one of those coinstar things, for whatever reason it is always more than you think. Hiking gear is like that I have found out.

My base-weight (the weight of your pack before fuel, food and water) was several pounds heavier than what I thought it was. Last night I went on a gear slash-and-burn thinning out of my gear and getting rid of tons of weight to get me back to the ~15lbs I am comfortable with, I need to do another pass as well. It is kind of humbling realizing that you will not in fact need, want, or probably even use something like a gopro while out there. Anything it can do, my phone can do  (except be under water). I don’t need the smartwool long-top I had got as well most likely, I can bounce that forward and pull it out for the sierra when I don’t need to carry as much water and it will be cooler.

And ‘water’ really is the issue; in the first sections I need to be concerned with water and have the ‘capacity’ to carry up to six liters of water (which at 2.2lbs per liter is up to 13.2lbs) along with carrying 4-7lbs of dried foods for 3-5 days all in a pack that is rated for max 35lbs. Though, I will typically never need to go over 5 liters of water as the general rule is one liter per three miles and most times you are not over 15 miles from water.

Water is heavy.

With water my total carrying load could be over 35lbs with 15lbs of gear, obviously this goes down rapidly as I eat food and drink water, however you can see the necessity of keeping the weight down and not low-guessing your gear weight. If the pack is overloaded you run risk of damage to the pack or yourself and I neither is good. Also, in sections where I don’t need to carry as much water lighter means faster hiking. You can see why thru-hikers are absolutely obsessed with base-weight.

It was a huge improvement last night after the cuts I made when holding the pack. I have several more I am going to make. Including removing the parts of my pack I don’t need like the hydration sleeve and the detachable mesh pocket (2.5oz), and I think I will replace an eVent compression sack (6oz) with a trash-compactor bag (2.5oz) along with some changes to my 8oz medical kit like removing most of the duplicate items and things I you almost never need like the irrigation plunger, that should shave that down to 4oz. Additionally I have rethought my sleeping pad system and ordered a few different ones to try out before leaving including a gossamer gear pad which will drop my pad weight good and keep me below the 15lbs which was my goal and I ‘may’ swap to a 2/3 size inflatable after the desert and the water worries that come with it.

This is all part of the fun and I will be updating the gear list in the navigation with the final gear list and final weight.

 

antici … pation

24 days out

“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” –  J.R.R. Tolkien

Anticipation has me packing and re-packing my trail bag. Looking up new and lighter alternatives, contemplating tearing sections of my sleeping pad off. Replacing covers for electronics with bubble wrap which I know I will just throw away. Anticipation has me filling up my water bottles and water reservoirs under the pretense of ‘washing them out’ and loading up my bag with all the items and food and water I expect to carry and exclaiming “when did my pack get heavy? !!!”. Anticipation has me pacing around my apartment, with my pack and gaiters on, making circles around my packed-up belongings trying to feel how it will be to go up a hill with the full load. Up a mountain — all the way up to Canada — for five months!

20140330_220053

This is what I do in the evenings.

In my anticipation I have my apartment packed up already. I bought five new duffle bags for my clothes and belongings. I needed new ones partially to replace the old and nearly worn through duffle bag my parents gave me years ago which had my initials embroidered on the side, black on black. The other bag I have used in many moves is my Navy sea bag, it developed a rip in the bottom at some point but still works, it has seen it’s share of airports, trunks, car roof travel and more. For some reason it makes me sad to see those old travel companions worn nearly to shreds, showing their age and me being more careful with them instead of just stuffing them full on the way out the door for another adventure.

All this anticipation, just waiting when you have everything ready that you can think of after a year of planning, of dreaming and finally you are on the cusp of that and like the slow clack of the roller coaster creeping up to the launch, you are with bated breath just waiting for the ride to start. In all my moves I have never had this much preparation, this much to worry about for small things going wrong like minor foot or leg injuries or screwing up my resupply and not having maps and socks or going hungry. Or, of hoping that I purchased the right gear after all that research and planning and weight considerations. What if I chose wrong? I also realize these are things that may happen, and I will be okay. I trust myself.

Right now it is like being in-between worlds, one I love and I am comfortable in and the new one steaming madly towards me built entirely of a powerful desire for adventure, and a savage thirst for life.

I am ready to go.

Getting to Campo via bus from El Cajon

28 days out

I just got off the phone with the SDMTS Rural bus information line. The lady said that I should not try to get on the bus via the multiple stops listed on the schedule on the site (It was not communicated 100% sure as to why) and that I should go to the transit center and catch the bus there. She also informed me to expressly not purchase a ticket from the machine but to pay $10 cash on the #894 bus to Campo.

Here is the official schedule.  And here is the google map version linked from the site. I was considering stay at the Travelodge there and then just catching the bus when it came by W. Douglas until I called them to verify. Additionally here is the PDF version of the route and timetable. I will provide an image version below for on a phone.

www.sdmts.com RouteFiles routes pdf 888.pdf

Additionally here is the trolley map from SDMTS. Now I am thinking I might change up where I was planning to stay and swap some things around. Originally I had wanted to stay downtown but I think that is less of a concern for me than making 100% sure I am on that 8:30am bus so I am looking into options for around there so I am thinking one of these.

 

The PCT plan, AKA ‘the schedule’

32 days out

A few of my friends and family have indicated they would like to meet up with me on the trail during my Pacific Crest Trail hike this year. So, you will need to know what is what and about what time I expect to be where (rough estimate). Today I was out buying my initial food and packages for my first resupply which I have to mail before I leave Venice.

Right now my apartment here in Venice beach looks something like I imagine what the back room of REI looks like. I have clothes and tents and bags and boxes everywhere mixed in with skateboards and bikes and hammocks and hiking poles and stuff sacks and now even food. I purchased a LOT of food which is currently being delivered from quite literally all over the United States to my parents house in Oregon. I am going to have them send out the resupply packages for California that I will need. And they will also be mailing out my bounce bucket for me. The idea is that I will have all my paper maps in my bucket and will keep mailing it ahead of myself in order to always have all my maps.

20140322_172647

Main meal purchases today for first part of the trip (initial ‘supply’ I leave the southern monument with.) and my first resupply at Warner Springs. 

My ‘plan’ for right before I am on trail is as follows:

  • Tuesday April 8th, I mail out my Warner Spring 4 day Resupply.
  • Friday April 11th, my last day of work and my going away party.
  • April 12th, I expect an epic day of soup and watching tv and recovery from my party.
  • April 13th toss my furniture, give it away etc. Have everything ready by this point.  This will be my last ‘real’ night in Venice, I intend to come out and have a couple beers with people but I need to be up bright and early.
  • April 14th pick up my rental SUV, load it up and drive north. (I already have it booked)
  • April 15th-April 20th I will be Oregon putting together my resupply and hanging with my parents and setting up the schedule. They will be sending out my resupply. I also need to mail my Big Bear 5 day resupply before the 19th.
  • April 22nd put away my cotton clothes, get in my hiker-trash gear and start driving south,
  • April 23rd, drop off my Rental SUV and hang out in San Diego in my hiker clothes and have a nice sleep in a very nice Hotel bed and get room service.
  • April 24th, very early I will be on a bus from El Cajon to Campo, I should arrive in Campo and set out about 10am.

So, lets look at roughly where I will be when I am on the trail. Here is my current “optimistic” spreadsheet schedule.  And here is an image of it as well.

Copy of PCT Schedule Tool

If you would like to meet up with me, first check the PCTA map and guidebook section and also note that I am on somewhat of a tight schedule, as it is a race to get to the end before the snows, so it would be better to not do huge sections.  One part that would be good would be the Mammoth -> Tuolumne Meadows section which is just under 40 miles, it is a great spot on the trail and there is an airport in Mammoth and you can get an easy bus from Tuolumne Meadows (it is the high point of Yosemite). The VVR->Mammoth would be another good option as VVR has shuttles and Mammoth has lots of transportation options. In Northern California I truncated a lot of the places from the resupply points list. Which I will be going through a town here and there every couple days in that section and buying food as I go.  I will be ‘around’ Lake Tahoe for 4th of July, which would be pretty awesome. I plan some time off in Ashland Oregon as I used to live there and want to hang out for a bit. Also, I intend to stop for a bit in Cascade Locks, and definitely will be hanging out in Leavenworth WA as I have been there before also. I intend a zero (day when you don’t hike) in Stehekin WA and also hopefully Leavenworth.

I would not suggest meeting me in the Oregon sections as I will be powering through Oregon, that is the flattest/fastest section of trail and I will more than likely be trying to make up time lost in Northern California. Additionally Washington in September could be really dicey depending on the weather (I read a blog by a hiker who referred to is as a ‘washing machine’) and if I am running late (I imagine I will be) I may not want to slow down as at this point I will be a walking machine in incredible shape and able to do some serious miles. However, the ‘Goat rocks wilderness’ is supposed to be one the prettiest sections of the trail.

So, the ‘best’ areas to meet me would be around Mammoth lakes and Yosemite (I won’t mind hanging out there and chilling out, I am bringing a fishing pole during this whole section). And then Northern California around Lake Tahoe is a good area as well as you can get on and off the trail easily, though I would research it because there is some large sections there which go through lava flows so there is sharp and loose rocks everywhere.

If you are really nuts, you can intercept the JMT at some of the lakes after the Whitney summit (not going to miss that) and we can hang and chill, though that is a pretty major time investment on your part.

so … this trip will include food (resupply)

39 days out

Food for the Pacific Crest Trail is a major thing, major. I have not personally experienced it but hiker-hunger is supposed to turn you into a food gobbling machine who can only think about ice cream and hamburgers. Apparently I can look forward to a lot of daydreaming about food so, I decided to take food, and my resupply, pretty seriously. Some hikers mail themselves all their food and get a resupply at every stop, while some only resupply at towns. Either way has it’s advantages and disadvantages. If you mail all your food you might get sick of what you mailed and that is not fun. If you only resupply in towns you may get stuck eating whatever is left over at gas stations, or having to hitchhike many miles out of your way for resupply. I am choosing a hybrid method, I will be mailing to specific spots where there are not good grocery stores or known resupply, or where resupply is prohibitively expensive. Towns which have services I will be just spending money there and doing my resupply as a I go. This way I have figured out I will be sending a total of about eight resupply boxes from the start and will create and mail more from the trail as needed.

21QYCgtkCcL._SY100_My spoon. Chosen for length, so you can get to the bottom of peanut butter jars.

In my resupplies I will be needing to put in shoes, I am going with the shoe that seems to be tried and true and everyone’s favorite, I also have been wearing a pair for a couple months now off and on and agree that the Brooks shoe, the Cascadia is awesome. I have purchased two pairs which I will be mailing myself every 500 miles of the trail.

51TbtIO4+GL._SY100_Resupply coffee. The coffee I chose is Starbucks Via, just add hot water.

Two resupplies will be for later parts of the trail. One to Ashland Oregon and another to Cascade Locks Oregon, each one will be mostly for sending maps and in each of these towns I will be making and sending out my resupply ahead. Oregon resupply from Ashland and then ones for Washington from Cascade locks. The reasoning behind this is that a lot can happen between then and now and I would not want to be stuck with food I won’t be sending out. I will be purchasing and mailing to myself more shoes at the Ashland point as well, as if I am injured or taken out with illness then I don’t want to have a pile of new shoes reminding me.

Notably the most important resupply for me will be the one I do at Kennedy Meadows. Kennedy Meadows is the entry point for the Sierra and where just about everyone mails their bear canister as some kind of canister is required going forward from this point for quite a while. K.M. is also where you start to need things like micro-spikes and/or an Ice axe. Personally, I see having sure footing as a better option than having an ice axe as an ice axe is for ‘self arrest’, or stopping yourself while sliding down snowy/icy inclines. Microspikes (link below) are for not sliding down in the first place.

I will be mailing myself stuff in a five gallon plastic bucket to Kennedy Meadows, which will also be acting as what is referred to as a ‘Bounce box’, as what I will be doing is sort of ‘bouncing’ this bucket, via the USPS, ahead of myself with various stuff in it (Later it will be useful to mail away my bear canister and other items I decide I don’t need) . The reason for it being in a plastic bucket is because cardboard boxes are not rodent proof (a problem in some smaller post offices where PCT hikers send lots of food) and it will not break down like a box will after repeated mailings and taping open and shut.

The Sierra is where mosquitoes rule, so I will need to bring a head-net for them, it is also where I should start packing some lightweight rain gear.

Amazon sells the bucket and the top separately. So here is what this resupply will look like. All images are links to Amazon where I bought them.

41Qd6XI3T1L._SX100_41w1mjbspqL._SY100_ 41AP5FqjxdL._AA160_51Vk3AJiQBL._SY100_410yX1PjEkL._SX100_31ZtSCgR7WL._SY100_

The BV500 Bear Canister will fit inside the bucket with room for other stuff along the side.

Inside the canister will be some of the following (I will be supplementing with others I purchase up in Oregon).

51zbH9DK8gL._SX100_51YubL3hHdL._SY100_51W7kqYFo5L._SY100_51VGGhKduuL._SX100_51T5l+bqRmL._SX100_51i1Wnc0hDL._SY100_31oxcZg+atL._SY100_

The mashed potatoes I picked three different ones, Loaded, Smoked bacon and four cheese. Additionally dried fruit and Parmesan cheese in each resupply for flavor and variety.

51TSPDV4XWL._SY100_41bo3MEuYRL._SY100_

I also found these energy gels in Rei and of all of them, these were the ones missing and the clerk said they are awesome and people like them, so I will toss in three for each box.

51P15HwlsOL._SY100_

The one thing here I am not getting on amazon is olive oil, I am going to have to try to find small bottles of olive oil as I go, or bounce it in my bounce box, in order to add calories to the food. It is hard to find olive oil in small bottles and it does not store well in plastic as the taste can get very bad.

Obviously I will be getting other things like nuts (“trail mix” is not my thing so I need to be creative here) and whatnot. Basically, I am going to get all my flat-rate boxes, sort all this stuff  listed here into each and then go and pick up some things at the grocery store to round them out, crackers, string cheese, peanut butter and so forth. This list is what I am able to round up online without visually seeing and feeling the weight of it all to know how big the packages are and if they will fit right. This is about as good as I can do without being in a store.

Still so much to do and I really only have a few weeks to get this all wrapped up.

Busy busy.