Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Packing and Resupply for the PCT

I am moving out of my current home and putting everything into storage with friends and family while I go hike the PCT .  My roommate is selling her house, so I need to pack up now and move a little over two months before I fly out to San Diego to start hiking.  I’ve been sorting resupply boxes, prepping for a couple “training” trips, doing last-minute sewing and gear projects, and organizing all my stuff.  I’ve downsized quite a bit the last few years, so it all fits into the room I rent in my roommate’s house, plus a few kitchen items and work books and papers-- but still, it has taken me a while to pack since I like to get rid of stuff every time I move.  Friends have been helping me out which has made this whole process easier.
Still Waters helps me sort and label my spare gear so I can keep track of it.
Labels on my spare hiking clothes. Can you tell I'm undecided about clothing?
Labels on my spare gearSome of it I don't use anymore, but I hold onto it "just in case"-- sigh...

Putting stuff into storage
I am going to distribute my stuff (both my gear and my non-hiking-related possessions) between my parents and four of my friends here in Georgia.  My folks offered to keep all my stuff at the house in Wisconsin (which is where they retired to), but since I doubt I'd want to live there, I am just giving them my "valuables” to store- photo albums, rugs, and a few pictures.  I don’t know where I’ll end up after hiking the PCT, but keeping my other stuff (i.e. my clothes, sewing supplies, books, and kitchen supplies) mostly in Georgia with my friends just feels right.
Things my parents will store for me: portrait of Darwin, and prints drawn by my grandma of Mt. Hood and the Oregon coast.
Resupply boxes
Because I am moving soon, and will be living out of my suitcase and backpack after that, I’ve gotten most of my resupply boxes together already.  There are various ways to get food along the PCT, and I am choosing a mix of strategies.  I cooked and dehydrated my favorite, homemade no-cook meals for about 7 resupply boxes, most of which I'll supplement with snacks I will buy in towns.  Still Waters has generously offered to send 5 resupply boxes to me at various points in So. Cal and the Sierra.  Then, in larger towns I’ll buy all my food for my resupply.  I will also box up and ship food to myself to places that don’t have good selections- like some places in Oregon and Washington. 
Renee and I used Craig's PCT planner, Yogi's guides, and Halfmile's notes to get rough estimates of our resupply stops and how much food to send or buy.
Sorting my homemade, just add cold water meals into resupply boxes.
My parents- meeting me on the trail
My parents are also going to be visiting me a few times while I'm on the PCT.  They love to hike and travel, and I think my dad especially would join me on the trail if he could.  But meeting me at trailheads and in towns will be a wonderful way for them to share the adventure.  They plan to meet me in So. Cal. before I head into the Sierra, then again in Nor. Cal, and then Oregon.  They will travel and sight see on their own and then meet me, helping us resupply, then taking us back to the trail. (Note: if anyone has suggestions for places for them to stay near the trail that are scenic and uncrowded especially in Nor. Cal., please let me know!)
They are driving down to Georgia this weekend to pick up “spare gear” and 2 resupply boxes (mostly dinners I dehydrated).  I am giving them my warmer clothes for the Sierra, rain gear and passport for Washington (the Canada entry permit is being mailed to them so they can get that to me as well), a couple plant identification guidebooks (yay!), and extra stuff for gear repairs and replacements.  I have no idea if I'll need any of this spare gear, or how easy it would be to otherwise pick this stuff up along the way, but since I already have it, I figure I might as well give it to them.

My parents have been doing some preparations of their own, looking over maps, and they both finished reading "Wild."  We've had some wonderful trips in the past so I know that having them out there will be really fun.
Dad suggests foraging for edible plants to supplement my diet on my thru hike. <haha!>
Mom says to find good, strong trees like this one for hanging my hammock.
Final thoughts...
It has been an interesting process to try to figure out how to share my journey, to plan for how I will get support.  Often, I find it difficult to ask for help (finding it much easier to help others, much harder to receive help).  In the past I was drawn to the self-sufficiency of backpacking, to the concept of carrying everything needed and nothing more.  One of the things that's becoming more clear to me is how wonderful and important my connections are- people care about me, and they also believe in and are supportive of 'living the dream.'  I am learning that when people help me, they become part of a shared experience that enriches all our lives.  I expect I will continue to learn more about this part of long-distance hiking.


  1. I'm super excited for you! And jealous, of course! I love your Darwin portrait, very cool. ;)

    Memories of planning our AT hike are conjured up by looking at your photos. It's hard to believe that was 4 years ago.

  2. I'm kinda jealous as I read of everyone's preparations. What an opportunity. Also, I love that sign about ivy...hilarious.


  3. Misit- thanks, yay, I had to throw in that photo of Darwin, on the pile of "treasured things"- these few possessions say something about me for sure.

    Mary- the preparations are exciting, and make it all seem real. Yep, couldn't resist that was a great sign. :)

  4. I talked myself out of bringing my beloved hammock and I have been feeling okay about that decision, but I know I'll be jealous when I see yours set up in the trail. Also Darwin!

  5. Jakob- You can always switch back to your hammock later, but it's good to start with whatever you feel comfortable with. See you out there!

  6. Joan, Beautiful post; captures planning perfectly. I aspire to be ½ as organized as you are. I love the photos with your folks! I was dehydrating blackberries yesterday and thinking I don’t need to do this, there will be wild berries. In reality it maybe the thought of wild berries motivate me to keep walking north. Oh, but I do want to learn to forage.

  7. Susan— I honestly don’t know if all of this planning— my long lists and spreadsheets detailing where I’m storing my stuff, what I’ve got in each resupply box, all the labels on the spare gear, labels on boxes— is going to turn out to help me in the long run. There is so much uncertainty, and so many variables, so much that we’ll just need to “wait and see.” I just finished loading the spare gear into my Mom and Dad’s car and we went over maps and guidebooks together, along with about a zillion contingency plans. I think I’m going to learn a lot about being adaptable.

    Oh I love that you are already thinking of wild berries!!! ME TOO!!!! OMG Mom and Dad actually brought me a jar of blackberry jam made by our friend in Oregon (where I grew up)- we had it for breakfast, and were just talking about how this was the start of an trip pulling us all westward (or northward depending how you look at it). But anyway, it’s the same sentiment- the things drawing us toward the trail, dreaming all the time of what we will find out there! Sweet!

  8. your organization! I'm really looking forward to your entries on your blog. Some day I would like to hike the PCT, but it will most likely be a section hike. Too many things prevent me from being gone so long. I will hit the AT again in March, for hopefully what turns out to be a 2nd section hike of the whole trail. I just can't get enough of the AT although I'm trying to hike different trails every year. Best wishes on your journey on the PCT. I know you will do very well.

  9. Hi Virginia! Good to hear from you and glad you will be getting back out to the AT again this year! Best wishes to you as well and hope to run into you again sometime!