This weekend we’ve boxed more books than I ever remember owning, given our couch to a lovely foster home, and have really begun feeling the weight of all the work that needs to be done to fully move out of our apartment. So of course I found time to lay out and photograph all my gear!
With nine days before we hit the trail, I feel like I’m leaning out over the edge of a precipice, held back by ties to our apartment, a dozen little administrative tasks we have to attend to- and as I cut through each of those ties, I’m closer to an exhilarating free-fall into the unknown. SLICE as a project at work wraps up. SLICE as we’ve set up mail forwarding and canceled our utilities. SLICE and the movers are booked for next week, and we’ve got a whole apartment full of stuff to pack. Continue reading
Each year’s thru-hike poses unique challenges. Some year’s hikers may grapple with drought, or wildfires. This year? It looks like our biggest challenge will be snow.
We decided to record some thoughts and expectations of our experience before we set out, as a reference point while on trail and after. We both answered the same set of five questions. Tim’s answers are here.
1. What made you decide to thru-hike the PCT?
The earliest conversations Tim and I had about thru-hiking revolved around the Appalachian Trail. We’d done a couple sections, and Tim was itching for a real long-distance adventure. I had less hiking experience under my belt, however, and was much more ambivalent about the idea. Then, in 2014, we did an overnight hike in the Desolation Wilderness section of the Sierra Nevada. The scenery and scale of the geography had me yelling cusses at Tim in astonishment.
Lake Aloha, 2014. Or, as I said at the time, “Shiiiiiit, look Tim!”
“Do you have to carry all your food for the whole trip?!”
“What do you eat, like nuts and berries?”
“Will you be living off the land, foraging for roughage, fishing in mighty rivers and fashioning a bow from found branches, like our hunter-gatherer ancestors of yore? Or just eat, like, Hostess snack cakes.”
A backcountry kitchen.
Almost all of these are real questions I’ve heard when I start to describe our hike plan to people. It’s understandable, really. My childhood outdoors experience was limited either to the kind of luxurious car camping where my dad would bring an electric griddle to make us pancakes in the morning, or 4H and Girl Scout camp, where daily activities were capped off by classic Americana meals at the dining hall. On our first distance hike- a five day, four night trip- I really had no idea what we were going to eat and how we could carry it all. After five years of trial-and-error, we’ve come up with a pretty good system.
We first decided we were going to thru-hike the PCT three years ago, on an overnight trip to the Desolation Wilderness in September, 2014. We set 2017 as the year to make it happen, as it seemed sufficiently distant that we could certainly coordinate the logistics for such a trip by then. We definitely weren’t thinking about who was going to win the 2016 presidential election, and what that might mean. Of course, everything’s different now.
Hikers love to talk about gear. At least, some hikers do, but those who do will talk about gear A LOT. In the planning stages, this makes sense. We’re trying to choose equipment and clothing that’s lightweight, sturdy, and will keep us alive for six months. There starts to be a charm of magical thinking around finding exactly the right hiking poles or rain jacket. If I can get the exact right balance of waterproofing and breathability and weight I will suddenly be capable of hiking 2600 miles!