Tuesday, August 23, 2016

PCT Prep- 2016 style

In just a few days, I fly out to start hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) again. In 2014, I hiked from Mexico to Castle Craigs, 1500 miles. That means I still have Washington and Oregon, some 1100 miles.  Here I go.

I can’t quite believe it either. Mentally, my head is still swirling with ideas for projects for my park in Montana.  (Guess I can't say "my park" anymore.)  The school field trip programs, interpretive talks, additions to the trail map I redid, and oh no it’s Wednesday my day to clean the bathrooms. Funny how when we work, there really isn’t any such thing as days off. The brain is still working on solutions to work problems. There are people that turn it off, but I’ve never figured that out. Once I get into something, I’m all in.

Which may be the best explanation for why I’m heading back to the PCT. As much as I’ve loved finding work I enjoy so much, I still can’t get the PCT out of my mind. I long to see this trail to the end. To see the places that inspired this hike in the first place- growing up with vacations with my parents to Crater Lake, Stehekin, Sisters. And even if I don’t finish, again, just giving myself the chance to try will be enough.

Will the experience of hiking the PCT be as joyful as it was in 2014, when it was the best thing I’d ever done, happiest I’d ever been? Certainly I was in a different place back then, burnt out. Am I a different person now, after two years of AmeriCorps?  How will it feel to do something so seemingly self-centered after finding such meaning in engaging in national service?  As AmeriCorps members, we'd joke about getting things done "for America!" even if it was really mundane like stocking toilet paper or picking up trash.  But that's what if felt like.
Leading a Wildflower Walk... for America!
Teaching a school field trip program... for America!
Will I have a different perspective traveling through on our public lands after working in Montana State Parks, organizing trail work projects and land improvement projects and engaging children with the natural world?  Will the PCT mean something different now?  What will it feel like doing something... for me!  Will I get something different out of hiking?


As crucial as the mental aspects are, I know you all really just want to know about planning the food and gear, right?  Well, there’s not much to say….

In 2014, I spent six month preparing. It was my first long distance hike. All that planning paid off.  Plus it was fun and I learned a lot. And wrote a lot.

This time around, 6 days getting ready seems like enough. Food prep took 3 days for 7 resupply boxes. Picked up backpacking staples at Trader Joe’s on my drive through Salt Lake City and Nature’s Oasis in Durango, Colorado.
Ingredients for stoveless dinners
At Still Water’s house, I dehydrated my two favorite meals- sushi rice with tiny shrimp and green curry vegetable. Ah what would I do if it weren't for Still Waters always opening her home to me, always supporting me when I need it? And she’s even got a garden this year. Thank you Still Waters!
Home-grown veggies from Still Water's garden
Dehydrating rice and curry veggies.  A stoveless, just add cold water favorite.
Getting my gear ready took a few days. For the past two years serving with AmeriCorps, I’ve been on the No New Gear Budget. Which means I pretty much have all the gear I had last time on the PCT and it has gotten even more use the past two years. A few extra patches, replacing worn cords and guyline, reinforcing stitching— hopefully all of this will give me another thousand miles.

The No New Gear budget is now officially over with three purchases (that I’ve had on my list for a year and a half!)- a new raincoat, the InReach (to replace my SPOT), and a custom-made hammock overcover— hopefully will keep me a bit drier.  No time for much testing. The PCT will be enough of a test.

Finally, shoes. In 2014, I got a stress fracture in my foot at mile 840 in the High Sierra. Have I figured out how to prevent another stress fracture? Do I know what shoes will give me the best chance at making it? Do I have plan for my feet?

Ummm… I still have a few days…


  1. WOOHOO! I'm happy you are hitting the trail again. Can't wait to see the rest of your journey. And your planning sounds like a veteran thru-hiker. AT: loads of planning, took a year of saving and thought, FT: Let's start the trail in three weeks? Ok.

    1. Thanks so much Misti! Yep, it's so different after doing part of the PCT and Arizona Trail. You're right too about savings- the first time I way overestimated how much savings I'd need. But it's paying off now since I still have my "hiking fund."

  2. You are doing all 1100 miles? Would be fun to see you but I don't think you will be as far south as I will be this week. I also have about that distance to do left, but it is in patches since I have cherry picked. I hope you get good weather for Washington--it is so gorgeous.

    1. Maybe. I'd like to do all 1100. But my feet are the ones that are in charge. I'll do my best to coax the miles out of 'em.

      I'm cutting it close starting so late. (But had to for work.) Hopefully I can hike into late fall and beat the snow. But it's all up to the feet and how many miles they can do. Thankfully, I'll be hiking with Jan at the begining. She's much better at pacing and lollygaging. :) I'm so prone to overdoing it. But she's my secret weapon against starting too fast.

  3. Whaw... I was secretly hoping to meet you there.... You were my inspiration for my PCT thruhike this year which I just finished 10 days ago. I wish you luck for your Oregon - Washington sections. I loved it! Enjoy it at least as much as I did. All the best! MacGyver

  4. Hello, I'm gearing up for a section hike in Washington--starting on the 20th. Maybe we can plan a meet? Yes, ll the best! george

    1. OMG that's awesome! Delighted to hear you are heading back to the PCT. I sure hope to see you out there. Yes, yes, yes, let's see if our paths will cross. Is your email the same?