Getting to the Trail

So, I am roughly 10 days out from the start of my hike (I fly out to Sand Diego on April 23, my permit start date is April 24).  I had originally planned to get a cheap hotel in San Diego and then take the 894 bus from the El Cajon transit center to Campo. Unfortunately the 894 does NOT run on the weekend and I will be arriving on Saturday. Fortunately there is a legendary trail angel couple (Scout and Frodo) that live in San Diego. I contacted them a couple of months ago and got a very nice, informative, email. They open their home every spring for hikers starting out on the PCT. From the email: “We’ll pick you up, give you a place to stay, and get you out to the trailhead.”

They also provide meals, sell fuel canisters and allow hiker to ship packages to their house. And they don’t accept money for this…

“We are in the fortunate position of not needing to charge money for hosting hikers; we do not even accept donations.  We do encourage hikers to join the PCTA if they are not already members.”

It’s kind of amazing. They had 325 hikers pass through last year and I expect they will see at least that many this year.  So, if everything goes according to plan, they will pick me up at the airport, let me camp in their yard, feed me, and get me to the trail the following morning. Not sure how they handle all this but I guess I will get to see.

Outside Magazine Story about Scout & Frodo

 

PCT Lake Fire Closure

Well it looks like the Lake Fire Closure will remain in effect for all of 2016. I had hoped that the trail would be open this spring but it wll remain closed. There are a couple of other closures but there are alternate hiking routes around all the rest of them. This one pretty much mean no hiking between Cabazon and Big Bear City – or about 50 miles of trail. Will just have to hook up with other hiker and bum a ride – I’m guessing there will be trail angels available to help out.  This does mess up my plan a bit – will probably hit Agua Dulce a few days earlier than planned.

 

Pre-Trip Update

This is my first post using my Iphone and the WordPress app. Since this is how I will be posting from the trail wanted to try it out. I am about three weeks out from my start (April 24).

  
I have all my equpipment ready to go. I am using basically the same equipment I used on my section hike last year so am fairly confident I won’t have equipment issues. I have trimmed my clothes and a few other things to get my base weight down to about 14 lbs. This is about 2 lbs lighter than last year.

And it looks like this has been an above average snow year in the Sierras, so doing the highest part of the trail last year may work out really well. I didn’t bother taking my ice ax or micro-spikes last year but it looks like I may be bringing them along this time.  

Lake Tahoe Snowpack

Resupply Thoughts

General 

So, last year I did about 350 miles on the PCT starting in Agua Dulce. This is the section I plan to skip this year.  I had 4 re-supply points. Two of them I shipped food ahead and two I bought in town. This year I plan to go 100% buy in town. Some reasons:

  1. The logistics of planning 5 months of food, purchasing, preparing, packaging and having someone mail the packages.
  2. I found my tastes changed over the month I was out. I did not want the stuff I had sent. Buying allows you to  modify your meals as your tastes change.
  3. I learned (from other hikers) that you don’t need those expensive freeze-dried camp meals. Knorr sides, mac-and-cheese, idaho potatoes all work just fine.
  4. Buying as you go is more expensive but unlike the majority of hikers, money  isn’t a major concern for me. 

For most of the trail it is fairly easy to get decent trail food in the trail towns. The exception is near the end but I will deal with that when I get there.

The other issue is town arrival days. I modified my plan to ensure that I would arrive in town during the week – stores tend to be closed in small towns on Sunday.

Also there are a couple of online trail resupply services (zerodayresupply.com and sonorapassresupply.com) that allow you to shop online and they will box it up and send it to you care of a trail town post office. I may use these guys a couple times just to try them.

Foods That Work

  • Laughing Cow cheese wedges. Don’t need to be refrigerated. Easily last a week.
  • Mac-n-Cheese bowl. Last forever and you end up with a bowl! Useful for scooping water out of “creeks”.
  • Knorr side dishes. All of them. 
  • Idaho Potatoes instant potatoes.
  • Hard salami. Lasts forever – just scrape off the white stuff.
  • Tortillas. I love bread but it doesn’t last and doesn’t pack. Tortillas last a week easy and pack up small.
  • Peanut Butter. I did get tired of it last time. But it’s hard to beat for calories/weight.
  • Breakfast bars/energy bars. They get old fast though.
  • Nuts – any kind really. they last a while and are great for snacking. Ditto with raisons.
  • Coffee. Starbucks vias. Yes!
  • Gatorade powder. Not every day but after long/hot stretches. Also makes warm water taste better.
  • Oatmeal….NOT! Okay those oatmeal packs work okay BUT – stuff turns to concrete and requires lots of water to clean. Water is precious (often). You don’t have a 1/2L to spare for cleaning.
  • Nothing fresh. Apples last longest but they are calorie-poor. Decent cheese spoils in a day or so. Basically all the stuff I normally eat. No Arugula!!!!

Typical Food Day

Breakfast: Coffee/couple of breakfast bars.

Lunch: Cooked meal. Knorr side or mac-n-cheese. With a tortilla if I can spare it.

Dinner: Tortilla/peanut butter. Or Tortilla and some salami.

Snacks: Couple of energy bars.  Maybe some gorp.

Plan

The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2650 mile foot path from Mexico to Canada.

Okay, so here is my plan….for 2016. There is a three week break in June for personal reasons. I will skip the part of the trail I did in 2015.  The last two stages are continuous, I split it to make it easier to manage the planning.

Stage 1 (4/24 to 5/29, 455 miles): Full Graph

Mexico boarder to Agua Dulce (Hiker Heaven), PCT 0 to PCT 455. This gets me to where I started my section hike last year. I am scheduled to arrive at the end of May. Will fly back to Houston to join Roberta, Francis and my brother John and his wife Christin for a trip to Mexico. John spent the past year dealing with colon cancer and I promised him I would take him to Mexico if he didn’t die. He didn’t die.

Stage 2 (6/24 to 8/7, 823 miles): Full Graph

Back on the trail after a three week hiatus, approximately where I left it last year (near Mammoth Lakes). PCT 907 to PCT 1727. Getting back on the trial is not easy but I have a plan – fly into Reno and catch an Eastern Sierra bus to Mammoth Lakes on 6/23. Hopefully back on the trail by early on the 24th.

Stage 3 (8/8 to 10/6, 937 miles): Full Graph

Last stage – hopefully getting to Manning by early October.