Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike Preparation, Julian Apple Pie and Lucy the Chocolate Lab

Subject: Gear Obsession & Thru Hike Recap

“I envy no man that knows more than myself
and pity them that knows less.” – Sir T. Brown.

I guess it happens to the best of us and I believe it already happened to me; finally getting to the stage where we all start obsessing about the hiking, cooking, sleeping, carrying or other gear part of the hike.

Maybe if I buy just one more piece of equipment – that would completely and totally satisfy this almost perfect thru-hiker. The only problem with this thought is that there is still no sense of urgency here – the trail is still more than two full months away!

So, if less is what I want then why am I now in Seattle and chomping at the bit to get to the master blaster gear store of all time – REI?

I know I am heavy into the clothing system area on this hike but this Mtn. hardware wind jacket that I bought today is really awesome. What am I now going to give up to keep it?

I am also reminded that Seattle is also the place (Feb 2010) that I first started making TrailJournal entries.   Much of what has occurred since then is still coming together. To recap, this is about how it all came together in preparing for this thru-hike.    

Trawlercat goes on a meet up group walk with the Logistician; next thing you know I end up at the REI store in Seattle – even though I live near one at Manhattan Beach, CA. What better place than REI for a gear obsessed person.

Then I find and try to make something as simple as a penny stove. It sort of worked but who am I to leave well enough alone. I now want something more bullet proof. Then I find this tablet stove that works but not before moving on to the whisperlite, thank goodness I stopped here.

Then I moved on to the hydration pack and now I’ve got three or four of them. Then the obsession becomes the trail maps of the entire PCT; then the guidebooks, data sheet, Yogi Guide, and Tom Henderson maps.

Then someone I know tells me about the Walk videos. I did buy them and learned allot about the trail, the young and the old alike hiking it and the support gained from all the trail angels encountered.

When I first weighed my stuff my back pack weighed almost 6 pounds. Today my back pack weighs 3.9 pounds but for some is still considered heavy. I like it though and that is what really matters at the end of the day.

Monkey butt no more! Are you planning on hiking or camping? I guess both. When I stop I want to take the time to take it all in from my little command post atop some yet unnamed hill. A good night’s sleep is how this thru-hiker will stay healthy and safe. I’m now done with the survival mode thinking and moved on to the just safe hiking mode – that’s really when the pack weight started to come down.

I then went from a tent, to tent tarp then back and now I’m back to a tent.

Mental toughness kicks in. Droid smart phone works its way into the picture. I knew of the possibilities back then but it was all a learning curve until I found an app called docs to go and then acquired the Brunton solar charger.

Backpack weight in April was 22.5 pounds. My 20 degree North face sleeping bag weighed in at 4 pounds.

Then I found out about the ADZPCTKO and the Logistician and I attended. This was a great move in my opinion showing up a year before my thru-hike. The Logistician hurried me along but I still took it all in and ended up buying Leki hiking poles.

Even way back then I was still searching for those elusive GPS waypoints for the entire trail and then I found them. SPOT was already part of the picture then.

What to eat – Mountain House is all I knew back then.

Made my way up to the PCT at Big Bear. Met up to hike with Rick who later ends up with the trail name of CornNut and plays a prominent character in my PCT thru-hiker development world.

Continued to find on-line PCT knowledge while reading past PCT trail journals. Ray Jardine comes into the picture and gets me to stop obsessing about the gear but to start obsessing about the weight part of it.

One pot wonders excitement didn’t last long. Training Vest comes into the picture – good investment and I still use it. Car camping along the Santa Barbara coastline.

Continue to build up this thing called mental toughness. Jardine has since revolutionized my thinking about weight and equipment. Bounce bucket and how to resupply issues resolved.

What do I own that’s ultra light as base pack weight goes up to 27 pounds, what happened? I start looking for a lighter pack. Base pack weight drops down to 23.5 pounds – I thought this was it but – NO.

First official PCT hike – July 14, 2010, at Toluoumne Meadows. Shane AKA: Globe Trekker is now on board. Both CornNut and Globe Trekker work at getting me PCT trail ready.

Wife and I take a little trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Mucho cervezas, zip lining and lots of hot weather. Hey, why not start the PCT from down here?

Training hikes become the Saturday norm – the first one was to the “bridge to nowhere” – August 1, 2010; next Saturday we do the Mount Baden-Powell hike.

Then I purchase the GoLite Utopia 1 and then the Logistician also gets into the action by buying me the extremely light Thermarest neoair. Let the gear obsessions continue.

Then it’s on to the Mt. Baldy hike with CornNut leading the charge as we climb Baldy to help celebrate Globe Trekkers birthday while we fly Tibetan flags and drink champagne. Later in the day we all end up with foot massages – does this still qualify as real hiking?

Our weekly Saturday training hikes move on to the Santa Anita Canyon and then on to Mt Wilson. This helps with building up hiker muscle memory. Saturday only hikes are working but taking longer to get me in shape.

From what I now know it takes between 10-30 days of full time hiking to really get you going. Let those PCT questions continue. Everyone seems to have advice for me on how to hike this thru-hike even though some of them don’t necessarily hike.

This is when I learn about HYOH (hike your own hike) and like it. I quickly come up with LYOR (live your own retirement) for that is what I am now doing.

Then there was the Mountain man phase. I truly wanted to start out wearing moccasins topped off with a coon skin cap but reality won out.

Saturday hike –San Bernardino and the PCT for a point to point hike. And now we’re well into September and next Saturday’s hike is Mt. Laguna, CA; then Cucamonga Peak vs. Icehouse Canyon. Thanks once again to my PCT personal trainers (CornNut & Globe Trekker) for getting me out and helping me to stick with it.

Then we hike Frazier Park, CA and now we’re into October 2010.

Then it’s off to the Santa Monica Mountains for a hike in one of this year’s downpour and to fully test out my Marmot precip jacket. This is when I realized that hey, these hiker clothes cost way more than any work suits ever did.

Santa Monica is also where I ran across Tara who provided some great trail wisdom while on her hike. And now fall is in the air and Halloween is just right around the corner. On this days hike October 23rd, I also receive a phone call (1:51 a.m.) from my son (CJ) telling me that our first grandson (Gabriel) was born today.

Full impact of actually following through and completing a thru-hike of the PCT hits me around this time. No other words but the following quotes can actually describe the feeling – so here you go:

A kick in my armour develops – plantar fasciitis develops. My friend Ernest shows me how to stretch it out and in about a week it goes away.

“Our world will never be perfect. The rain will come, despite my best efforts to prevent it. Life is what you choose to make of it. State of mind is everything. If you cannot change what happens, then for your happiness, you must change your mind set.” ~Michelle Sedas

We’re now well into November and CornNut takes me on a life altering hike to Twin Peaks. “I knew I had to get off this mountain and fast to keep from freezing.”

In the short time that the “fog” rolled in along with the freezing cold wind my fingers numbed up making it now hard to hold on to the trekking poles”. Fortunately for me I was saved by my tent tarp.

Late November – I buy a new pack, an Osprey Atmos 65 and start to literally slow way down – no more Saturday hikes for a while. Must be a yearly winter thing but – in LA? Now we’re into December and I’m still eating the same but not training as hard.

It’s now mid December and we finally get out once again – this time to Vasquez rocks and the PCT.

Now my training starts to get back on track. Full retirement for me is now less than two months away. Mid-December and I continue to hit the California coastal trail with a vengeance – access point near the Trump National golf course area and only a ten minute drive from home. This becomes my trail!

A wild scheme and No good will come of it – that’s what this thought of thru-hiking the PCT once seemed like.

“A wild scheme and No good will come of it.” – Robert Darwin (1831), father of Charles Darwin, who was opposed to his then 22-year old son participating in the five-year voyage of the HMS Beagle. 

Robert who hiked about 450 miles of the PCT hands me a box of twenty PCT books that are part of his collection. Plenty of great informative trail reading from the early 70’s on. 

“Isolation is romantic until something goes wrong” Dan White – Cactus Eaters

It’s now mid-January and lots of gear that I now have or own does not make the final cut.

My Base pack weight drops down to 16.5 pounds. The Logistician and I take a few weekends to drive the PCT to personally observe and hike and get the feel of the land.

January 16, 2011 – The Logistician first lays eye on our future puppy Lucy while driving up to Idyllwild for some apple pie. Full dress rehearsal and my base pack weight fluctuate between 16.5 to 22.5 pounds.

Late January and the week before my retirement – still PCT focused. I’m also now committed to one more PWC race – a 300 mile endurance race at Lake Havasu.

Last workday Friday and we’re now at the 88 day mark till the start of my thru-hike but it still seems like such a long time.

We now own Lucy (our chocolate lab).

In search of the California condor was our last Saturday hike. Now we’ve come full circle and I’m back up in Seattle for a week and tomorrow let’s see where we end up.

See you on the trail.