Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dogs, Maildrops, Tattoos, OH MY!

The trail has a funny way of preparing you for what's to come even of you're not even out there yet. Over the past two weeks Cori and I went from having nearly everything set to leave to questioning our ability to even do the hike.

Between the two of us we have three beautiful fur babies:

Jasmine, a 13 year old cocker

Hershey, a 10 year old chocolate lab

Dudley a 4.5 year old Pyrenees/Lab mix

We had homes lined up for them a month or more before leaving, then one week before we were suppose to move out of our apartment and deliver all the dogs to said homes, all of our dog sitters bailed out on us. On the same day. Are you kidding me?!!? Needless to say, all of our carefully thought out plans were thrown by the wayside. We had one week to find new homes for them or there would be no PCT hike. All of the money and time already spent on the trail (train tickets, food, gear, etc.) would be pissed away along with our dreams of spending the summer out west. It was time to pull together all our resources, and be as flexible as possible with our schedules. We banned together to get everything worked out. In the end, friends and family came to the rescue; the dogs have been placed in (temporary) great foster homes and we can't begin to thank them enough. Having already completed a thru-hike once before we both understand that our ability to complete the PCT will be the result of all of the support we are receiving from friends and family back home. Thank you.

Once the dogs were settled, we loaded up my car with all our gear and maildrops, and I headed down to my parents in Blue Ridge, GA. I spent part of my time getting all of the maildrops and extra gear organized and ready to go.

I spent some of my time Cafe Ink and added to my AT tattoo. I've been dreaming of getting this done for the past three years and it turned out better than I've ever imagined! I plan on having the PCT and CDT tattoo ed underneath the AT as I complete those trails.

After some family time in Blue Ridge, Cori and I headed back up to South Carolina where we spent the last three days with her family.

Then, on Wednesday morning, at 2:45 am we stepped onto the Crescent Amtrak train to begin our journey westward to hike the PCT.

We will spend the next three and a half days traveling across the country to Del Mar, CA. There, we will be greeted and hosted by trail angel Betty Wheeler who took care of Cori last year when she got the flu. I can't wait to finally meet her in person!

Until then, Happy Trails!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What's in my Resupply (Maildrop) Boxes?

The thought of putting together maildrops for the PCT weighed heavily on my mind. I tried them in 2009. I was vegan at the time so I wanted to make sure I stayed true to my vegan ethics. I spent hours dehydrating my favorite curry and pasta dishes. I bought quinoa flakes in bulk. I made my own fruit leathers. My food bag was going to be the envy of every hiker on the trail. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. There is something about long distance hiking that changes how you taste food. How you crave food.  I was to much of a newbie to anticipate that. One can only imagine my disappointment when my favorite dishes became hard to stomach. All I could eat were rice dishes, pasta, and poptarts. Needless to say I abandoned my maildrops and began to resupply in town. So when it came time to decide on a resupply strategy I thought long and hard about what I should do. I carefully weighed the pros and cons. Maildrops would help me stay within my budget. They would reduce the amount of town chores I would have to do which meant I would have more time to eat, shower, and sleep. I had more control over what I would be eating, ensuring that my diet wouldn't be filled entirely with junk food. On the downside my hike would be dictated by making it to a post office by a certain time and day. There's the added cost of shipping the food. I had to try and plan how many days it's going to take to get from point A to point B from the comfort of my couch. Not an easy task.

After some discussion with Cori, we both decided on a hybrid strategy; resupplying in town part of the trip and doing maildrops for part of the trip. I'm 95% confident that this maildrop process will be much more successful. We ordered most of our food from MaryJane Farms, which makes all organic backpacker friendly foods. We tested most of these dishes out on a road/camping trip this summer and loved them. The rest of my diet is filled with typical backpacker foods that are lightweight, easy to prepare, and were a staple in my AT diet.

I spent an entire day this past week portioning out food into ziplock bags and  strategically placing them into one of the 16 Priority Flat Rate boxes neatly lined up on my living room floor. It was exhausting, but I know I'll appreciate it when I'm on the trail.

For anyone who may be curious about what exactly it is that we eat out there, below is a breakdown of what I'll be sending myself along the trail.

EAS Complete Protein Powder (Vanilla)
Instant Coffee
ProBar Organic Meal Bar (Original, Berry Blast, Superfood Slam, Superfruit Slam)
Clif Builders Protein Bars (Vanilla Almond, Cookies & Cream)
Pop-Tarts (Strawberry, Blueberry, Wildberry)

MaryJane Farms Organic Black Bean Flakes (Regular and Spicy)
MaryJane Farms Organic Pinto Bean Flakes
MaryJane Farms Organic Black Bean & Corn Chowder
MaryJane Farms Organic Spuds with Spinach & Cheese
Krave Jerky (I plan to eat this with the mashed potatoes to get some protein)
Fantastic Foods Hummus

*For the hummus and refried bean mixes I plan on picking up tortillas or chips at a store in town. I may buy extra if the next mail drop location does not pass near a grocery or convenience store. 

MaryJane Farms Organic Bare Burritto
MaryJane Farms Organic Eat You Veggies Pasta
MaryJane Farms Organic Lentils, Rice, & Indian Spice
MaryJane Farms Organic Wild Mushroom Couscous
Knorr Rice Sides
Ramen Noodles
Primal Strips (I plan on eating these with rice side or ramen noodles to add protein to the meal).

Snacks/Electrolyte Replacement
Clif Bars (Blueberry Muffin, White Chocolate & Macadamia Nut, Pomegranate)
Kind Fruit & Nut Bars (Blueberry, Pomegranate & Pistachio)
Diamond Almonds Spicy Bold Series (Wasabi, Smokehouse Jalapeno, and Habanero BBQ)
ProBar Fuel Bars (Blueberry, Strawberry)
Luna Protein Bars (Chocolate Peanut Butter, Vanilla Lemon, Chocolate Coconut Almond)
Jelly Belly Caffeinated Sports Bean (contains electrolytes)
Honeystinger Organic Energy Chews (Smoothie Flavor) (contains electrolytes)
EmergenC Immune Support (Blueberry & Acai with Vitamin D)

PayDay Bars
Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies
Little Debbie Chocolate Cream Pie
Baby Ruth Bars
Oreo Snack Packs

Wet Wipes
Travel size tooth paste
Dental Floss Sticks
Ear Plugs

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.