Monday, April 7, 2014

PCT prep: Last week before leaving

I can hardly believe that I fly out to San Diego tomorrow to start hiking the PCT.  This past week has been filled with last minute sewing, spring wildflower walks, and gear-obsessing, in addition to the Trail Dames backpacking trip.
Susan's house because PCT-prep central.  Renee and I repair gear, while Susan dehydrates meals.
My sewing took on a frantic pace, as if my PCT success depended on it.  I designed a new pair of tall gaiters because none of my five other tall gaiters are exactly right for the PCT.  So obviously I needed to make a new pair. 
Extra wide tall gaiters so they are sun-protective, breezy, and completely dorky.
There was an embarrassing amount of time spent deciding on the color schemes for my hiking outfit.  I will wear the same thing to hike in every day, so I want to like it.  My east-coast outfits didn't seem right for the PCT.  So I sewed a new gaiters and sun-protective wristies (a shorter version of my arm sleeves/ gaiters).  I debated endlessly about what fabric to use.  I didn’t want to be too “matchy” as if I were trying too hard, even though I totally am.  And I want to wear something bright that will make me feel happy but hopefully won’t make people think I’m too dorky.  Even though I am a bit of a dork.  Over the last year, wearing camo print has turned into somewhat of a joke, so I used glitter bright-green camo fabric for the bottoms of the gaiters.  Because how totally funny is glitter-camo!?!?   I could hardly believe it when I found the glitter camo fabric at the fabric store- isn't glitter on camo sort of counter-productive unless you are trying to "blend in" at a trapeze performance or something.  Haha!
Fashion photo shoot of the PCT So.Cal. "outfit"

You might notice that I decided to go with a long sleeved shirt, rather than my short sleeved shirt plus arm sleeves that I normally wear in the southeast.  I'd been debating about this previously, and ended up buying a new Railrider's shirt since I saw how Renee's kept her so cool on the southwest tour.  The arm sleeves were just too hot.  I am also starting in a skirt, but will put the railrider pants in my bounce box in case I want to switch.

Other last-minute gear changes have also saved me a few ounces.  Polycro ground cloth from Gossamer Gear instead of tyvek.  New tree straps from Dutchware (thank you Dutch!).  Lifeproof fre iphone case instead of an otterbox. Only one bandana, only one pair of underwear, only one set of gloves (unless you count the sun wristies).

Speaking of gear, a huge thank you to Randy of Dream Hammocks for replacing the continuous loops on my Darien UL hammock!  And thank you so much to Renee for hand carrying my hammock to the Dream Hammock World Headquarters (i.e. Randy’s basement workshop) while she was in Ohio so my hammock would have no chance of getting lost in the mail.  I’m so fortunate to have a hiking partner that understands, or at least accepts, my hammock-obsession.

The week wasn't just about gear and clothes.  I also attended one last "Nature Ramble" at the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia in Athens.  My friend Sandra from the lab and I have been going for the past year.  Once a week, botanists and nature enthusiasts walk around the trails through the woods learning about the natural history of our local forests.  It's wonderful being around the amazing people in the group- mostly retired- highly inquisitive and thoughtful- people I want to be like.  Going rambling always reminds me of the importance of being observant and treasuring the nature that is around you.  Joining the Ramblers has been one of the highlights of this past year, and I will miss them for sure. 
Looking at flowers with the Nature Ramblers.
For the last few months, I've been going on daily training hikes with my pack, hauling around tire chains in place of the weight of my food.  I just got done packing my food for Campo, so I'll say goodbye to these for now.  The next hiking I will do will be on the PCT.  I still can't believe it!
Last training hike with the tire chains.
Finally, I dropped off my car at my friend Brenda's house.   I met Brenda through Trail Dames and we've done a lot together with the group, and I was so thrilled when she said she would keep my car in her garage.  Thank you, Brenda!
Dropping my car off at Brenda's.
Renee, Susan and I fly out to San Diego tomorrow.  The next post will be from the trail...


  1. Hey, I just found your journal through the PCTA website! Looking forward to following your journey. Your tall gaiters are definitely way more AWESOME than they are 'em!

    Happy hiking!

    1. Hey Erin, Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the compliment on the gaiters. :) Makes me smile.

  2. I just found your blog as well, and I am very intrigued by your posts on hammocks. I know there are areas without trees on the PCT and was wondering if you have any thoughts on that? Cowboy camping? Also what about staying dry in case it rains and you can't hang your hammock?

    I am planning on hiking the PCT in 2016 and have started to look at different gear. I am definitely considering using a hammock.

    Happy trails!!


    1. I was already a long-time hammock hanger, so it was already what I was comfortable using. There are very very few hammocks in the So. Cal portion of the PCT, but I'm going to give it a try, and will let you know what I think. I have a pad so I can cowboy camp if needed, and I can pitch my tarp with my poles on the ground.

      I wrote a post last Dec. detailing my hammock setup and more of what I learned about hammocks on the PCT that you might find helpful, as there are lots of links to various things hammock-related:

    2. Thanks heaps for the info!! Just what I needed and I look forward to your future posts. Just read the one about your first day and I would be doing the same in regards to plants. I am a forest and landscape engineer. Love learning about new plants and being from Denmark (now living in New Zealand) the plants in the US would be so different. Especially on the PCT.

      I am thinking there might be an app for identifying plants? I would love to carry a book but, goodness, they can be quite heavy.

      By the way, did you see the Kickstarter project for designing your own hammock? It's pretty cool.

      Stay safe!

    3. There are some apps that I've found for other regions, but I didn't find anything for So. Cal. I might have missed it though. The best thing I've found has been finding other hikers that know plants, nothing beats hiking with an expert. It's been incredible how easy it is to find other people out here that are interested in natural history.

      I didn't see that about designing your own hammock, but I know there are designs over on hammock forums. Will keep an eye out always like to see other designs.

      Thanks for posting and great hearing from someone else who is into plants. Must be wonderful living in New Zealand- always wanted to visit there it looks beautiful.

      Happy trails!

  3. I'm so excited you are starting your adventure! I wish you the best of luck and look forward to your posts from the trail.

  4. you got a fresh haircut too. :-)

  5. Gotta look my best for the trail!