Thursday, February 19, 2015

What am I Carrying?

First let me say, I'm hiking on a budget. A very, very small budget. All of the money I've saved has been allocated toward the trip itself and paying bills while I'm gone. I really didn't have any money left over for new, fancy, ultralight gear. This means I'm carrying a lot of the same stuff I carried on the AT in 2009...nearly six years ago....when the gear was actually considered light. What I don't already have I've managed to buy cheap or I'm borrowing from my incredibly nice hiker friends.

When it comes to evaluating the weight of my gear, I'm taking a similar approach to my gear as I did with the AT; I am NOT going to go through the painstaking, time sucking, make me want to pull my hair out because I'd rather watch paint dry process of weighing each little item in my bag. I've got far more important things to focus on (like spending as much time outside as possible, spending time with friends and family, get my drift).

What ultimately matters is what the overall base weight of my pack is (my pack weight without food and water). Yeah, yeah, I can already hear some people saying, "but if you weigh each little thing you can decide if its worth the weight.." blah blah blah...

Here's my philosophy; if any of my essential gear (the big four - backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent) weighs 2 lbs. (32 oz.) or more, I seriously need to consider an alternative. As far as anything else  in my pack (electronics, clothes, etc.); if it makes me happy, more comfortable etc., I will more then likely bring it. I do have limits. I believe that lighter is better, more comfortable, and easier on your joints. I believe that things should be multifunctional. Finally, I remind myself I'm going out into the Wilderness where really anything beyond food, water, shelter, and clothing are a luxury. And believe me, I like my luxury bag of weighs two pounds. Ridiculous I know, but I love to write and I'm using my phone for nearly everything (camera, navigation, blogging, kindle) so having an external battery (the brick), to me, is well worth its weight. Aside from my need to lug around this "luxury", I try to keep in mind that one of the things that makes trail life so addicting is its simplicity. I'll do my best to keep it that way.

With all this being said, I've developed a compromise for my gear list. I've listed weights of my "big four" items since this is where the bulk a packs base weight is for most people. Then I weighed my pack (without food and water) to get my overall base weight. Its a little higher than what I was shooting for, but I think I'll be OK.

You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram. More photos will be uploaded to my Smugmug Site when possible. I'm hiking with Cori "Grommet" Holladay. You can read her blog here.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pre-Hike: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

As I near the start of my journey from Mexico to Canada I'm starting to get a lot more questions about what it is I'm exactly doing out there (Read: Are you nuts? What the heck do you think you're doing out there?!!?). I prefer to think of myself as an adventurist, and slightly non-conformist. But hey, if nuts works for you I'm okay with that, because while you're sitting at your desk reading monotonous emails, answering phone calls, and dazing out into the world, I will doing something that most people will only ever say "I wish I could do that".

So, here is my answers to some of the most FAQ about my plans for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Please keep in mind that many of these answer are what I'm planning to do, not what actually happens. My preparation is based on my previous experience thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2009, consulting friends who have already completed the PCT, reading other PCT bloggers, and watching Wizards of the PCT a zillion times.

What/Where are you hiking exactly?
The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,660ish mile trail stretching from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, and traverses through California, Oregon, and Washington. Despite its name, Pacific Crest, there is no Pacific Crest mountain range that the trail passes over. Rather, the trail traverses over several different mountain ranges and through seven different ecozones. To be more exact, the trail is divided into five major sections; the Mojave desert (Southern California), The High Sierras, Northern California, Oregon, and Washington.

Where do you start?
We start at the Mexican border in a very small town called Campo. We'll be driven there by a wonderful trail angel, Betty Wheeler, who Cori met last year during her short experience on the trail.

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Where does the trail end?
The PCT ends at the Canadian Border at a place called Manning Park. Once we reach the monument at the trails northern terminus we'll have to hike a short distance into Vancouver, British Columbia and catch a Greyhound bus back to Seattle Washington.

View Larger Map
How long will it take you?
We are planning to complete the trail in 5.0 - 5.5 months.

Have you read/seen Wild? If yes, did that inspire you to do hike the PCT?  
Yes, I read the book. No, the book had no influence on my decision to hike the trail.
Do you carry everything you need?
Yes. I'll be carrying a tent, sleeping pad, water, food, clothes, and some other miscellaneous items. I'll be posting my detailed gear list shortly.
What will you be eating (Do you send food to yourself and/or buy food in towns)? 
I currently have about 30 resupply points planned out. A little over half of these will be places I pick up maildrops (food I've boxed up before I leave and my supportive parents are sending to me along the way). The rest of the time I will buy food in town. Most of the food I'll eat will be quick food like refried beans, hummus, dehydrated rice meals, pasta, and jerky. I plan on writing a more detailed post about what my resupply boxes consist of sometime in the next week or two when I finish buying all my necessities (so stay tuned!).

Do you (or often) will you reach a town?
Time in between towns will vary but typically we should reach a town every 4-7 days. When we get into town we'll be able to grab food, do laundry (sometimes) and shower (sometimes). We plan on taking a zero day (a day we hike zero miles) about every 14 days.

Do you ever need to swap out gear? 
Yes. The PCT is the trail of extremes. We start off in America's hottest dessert (the Mojave), climb up to one of the highest (and possibly snowiest) mountains in the lower 48, volcano hop through Oregon and tread through the lush green remote forests of Washington. We will need to swap out gear. We''ll have additional gear mailed to us along the way.

Will you be going alone?
Nope. I'm very excited to be sharing this journey with my best friend in the universe, Cori "Grommet" Holladay. You can read about her journey here.

Will you be carrying a gun? 
 No. I'm more likely to hurt myself than protect myself with a gun. Plus they're heavy.

You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram. More photos will be uploaded to my Smugmug Site when possible. I'm hiking with Cori "Grommet" Holladay. You can read her blog here.