Pre-trail Thoughts

Many thoughts have been going through my head in the past few months as I’ve mentally prepared myself for leaving for the PCT. I often find myself thinking of what I am looking forward to, and also what I will miss. There were events that were created or thought up after I chose to commit to hiking the trail, so even though this is the opportune time for me, missing incredible get togethers or events was inevitable. I know that I will need to remember to just have as much fun as I can while I can, and soak in this experience. Oh, and of course: never quit on a bad day.

I will miss: my little family (my partner and my dog) and cuddles with them, my friends, most of summer in Washington, sporadic adventures with my friends, a couple of weddings, fresh local fruit grown by neighbors and friends, fresh fruit and veg in general, season 8 of Game of Thrones, chilling and eating popcorn while watching shows at the end of the day, comfy pajamas, centralized heating, and many of the things that bring convenience and comfort to my day to day life.

What I’m looking forward to: new friends, watching the landscape change every day, being less sedentary (more like not sedentary at all), fresh air, feeling a sense of accomplishment each day for making it just a little further, time to reflect with minimal distractions, getting more clear on what I’d like to do with my life after the trail (harvesting ideas), using food truly as fuel, eating a lot, not having to meal prep, getting to see the details of these states that I’ve called home, having this journey be a part of my life story, trail magic and trail angels, the beauty, the hard days that I will overcome and become stronger from, focusing only on one day at a time (and sometimes the next day)

Advertisements

PCT 2019 Packing List

For my 2019 thru-hike of the PCT, my aim is to go as light as possible, with a base weight of under 10 lbs (ultralight). My base weight (pre-hike) is coming in at around 8.8 lbs. Base weight basically means everything in your pack that doesn’t fluctuate weight. So, this includes your big 3 (shelter, pack, sleep system), electronics, toiletries, and clothes that you aren’t currently wearing. I wanted to stay within a budget of $500-1000, especially if I decide to switch an item while out on trail. So, for some items, I decided to get the best option I could for a lower price, but still good quality. My most expensive items were my big 3. What I normally hear is the average thru-hiker can expect to spend between $2,000-$4,000 on gear, depending on what you already own (here’s one resource: https://www.rei.com/blog/hike/how-much-does-it-cost-to-hike-the-pacific-crest-trail). I am pleased that my expenses came in at around $850. Some things I received as Christmas presents (or by using gift cards) and some things I already owned. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to afford certain gear and I realize that everyone’s gear list will be different.

Here is my list:

Pack: Gossamer Gear Kumo 36

Shelter: Tarptent Protrail with trekking poles

Sleep system: Hammock Gear Econ Burrow 10 degree, with Wellax inflatable sleeping pad

Clothes: Darn tough socks, Injinji sock liners, ExOfficio underwear, Thinx, Avia sports bra, running shorts from Target, lightweight and quick drying pants from Target, Mountain Hardwear puffy, Frogg Toggs rain jacket, long sleeve polyester base layer, ExOfficio sun shirt, hat, sunglasses, buff, New Balance Minimus 10v4 trail runners with inserts

Small things: Sawyer Squeeze water filter, kid sized bamboo toothbrush with end of handle sawed off, baby wipes, 1.25 oz of face moisturizer, sunscreen stick, chapstick, hand sanitizer, trowel, anti-diarrhea pills, ibuprofen, multivitamins, nail clippers, safety pin, duct tape (wrapped on trekking pole), Rite in the Rain 3×4″ journal, permits

Electronics: Phone (Moto X4), Anker Powercore 10000 mAh, charging cords, earbuds

Snack tools: GSI Ultralight pot with grabber, compostable spoon, bandana, lighter, BRS ultralight stove

 

In the Sierra, I will be adding a bear can, microspikes, an ice axe, and possibly some leggings.

Break down of the weights: https://lighterpack.com/r/dux8i0

Featured image of me snowshoeing with my gear at Hurricane Ridge, taken by Michelle Kester.

fullsizeoutput_3603

A New Chapter is on the Horizon

I will be hiking the PCT.

Let me expand on that in the order that I usually need to:

I will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

I will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which goes from the Mexican border in California up to just past the Canadian border in Washington.

I will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which goes from the Mexican border in California up to just past the Canadian border in Washington, starting April 14th.

I will be solo thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which goes from the Mexican border in California to just past the Canadian border in Washington, starting April 14th. It is 2,650 miles long, which takes between 4 and 6 months to complete.

 

Something that I feel is important to mention is the amount of privilege I have that will allow me to hike the trail. I have enough financial support, I am able to take that much time off from a job, my body is capable of handling that much physical activity and challenge, and I had access to an education that made me aware of the trail in the first place. I am also able to budget for lightweight gear. I realize that the land I will be walking and sleeping on is stolen land. It will be an enormous privilege to be essentially homeless by choice for months, all while appreciating the nature around me. I am so very aware that this is an opportunity that not many people get to take advantage of and I often feel guilty about being able to go. But, I also know that this is a dream that I’ve had for several years and I don’t want to miss this opportunity. All I can really do is acknowledge the privilege I have and not take it for granted.

With that said, here are common questions I have gotten and my answers to them:

1. You’re going without your husband? 

or-

You’re going alone?!

Yes. I did say that “I” will be hiking the trail, not “we”. This is a trip for myself, a feat I have wanted to accomplish for several years now. It is not easy for many people to take 4-6 months off of work. I made a commitment at the end of my AmeriCorps VISTA year to make time on my calendar between April and September so that I had no other excuse but to hike this trail. Also, I get this question a lot from women, oftentimes followed by, “Wow, you’re so brave to go alone. I’m so afraid of hiking by myself.” I urge women to go on a day hike alone (which can include your dog). On my first solo hike, I realized just how silly the fears are, especially on trails that are further away from cities. The other people on trails are usually out there for the same reason as you- to enjoy the nature and to get some physical activity. The notion that some deranged man might leap out from behind a bush to attack you several miles out on a trail is really irrational. Media fear-mongers women into not going out alone. These are extremely rare cases. Statistics are on your side. You would be at a much higher risk of death or injury by driving your car down the street.

2. You’re bringing protection, right? (Some people have suggested a gun, a rape whistle, or bear spray)

I try to answer this very cautiously, but recently I’ve been a little snarky. First of all, have you met hikers? The hiking community is not a group to be afraid of, unless of course you bring up the controversial question of whether to wear boots or trail runners. The people to be most fearful of along the trail will be town or city folk. In the times that I’ll be visiting towns or cities, where I’m not a few miles out in the wilderness, I’ll most likely be with other hikers. To quell fears, I am bringing a little neck knife, which is pretty fool-proof (unlike a gun), and I would have less time spent fumbling around for my weapon, just in case I do get in a dangerous situation. Also, a neck knife can function as a knife for avocados, resupply boxes, and all sorts of survival situations. Bear spray, yes, can be used on people too, but is banned in many areas. It is also very heavy. I’m also pretty sure that I would just anger the bear that might be trying to attack me.

3. Are you taking your dog?

No, because she did not sign up for a hike of this magnitude. I am sure she would enjoy a lot of it, but it is my journey- not hers. To expand on that- I would have more responsibility than just keeping myself alive, which I think would take away from my overall experience of the trail. It would also be almost twice as much food to send in resupply boxes. There are also many national parks that do not allow dogs. I would also not want to risk her running off after wildlife that could potentially harm her.

 

If you are interested in hearing more about my preparation/training for the PCT or want to virtually experience the journey with me, this site will serve as the place where I write about it!

Countdown to leaving for Campo, CA: 10 weeks, 1 day