PCT planning!

The month of February has flown by and I don’t know what happened to all of the extra time I was supposed to have without work! I am still commuting into Boston on many days, which is time consuming in itself. To take a 90 minute yoga class, it takes a total of 5 hours of time to commute by train. Therefore, the number of yoga classes I attended at my studio drastically declined this past month, which was upsetting to me. I didn’t succeed in either creating a daily writing practice or a home yoga practice, and the fact that I was failing at my goals was adding even more stress to my life. It was also stressful to be asked by people how my PCT planning was coming along, because I really hadn’t started it and time was just marching by! My energy was scattered in all different directions without a routine schedule. I had doctor appointments to go to before my health insurance ran out, I was taking part in a yoga mentorship, I no longer had access to a printer and needed help printing my permit applications for the PCT as well as the trail notes that were not available when I was finishing my job, I was trying to fit my last chiropractor appointments in between a noontime yoga class, quick lunch at Whole Foods, and my yoga class that I teach, and I was just really tired. There was so much of life and chores that I needed to catch up on, and I just couldn’t find time to do the things that I had hoped to do. I wish there were three different versions of me: one to stay home and rest and write, one to go to at least 2 yoga classes a day, and one to plan my PCT trip!

At the moment, I am knee deep in ordering supplies for the PCT. I have spent countless hours in front of my laptop, researching gear, looking for the best price, and placing orders. Every item that we carry in our packs needs to be carefully thought out. Our base pack weight for the PCT must be as low as possible in order to hike the miles per day that are required in order to finish before winter arrives in Washington (sometimes up to 30 miles a day- something I have never done before). For every piece of gear that we carry, there are multiple options. Should I take an alcohol stove like I did on the AT or a stove that I can shut off and that requires canister fuel like I used on the Colorado Trail (due to the forest fire rules). And how available is the kind of fuel that I will need along the way? What kind of system should I use to purify water? (A filter, bleach, Aquamira, etc). What kind of water bottles will I need for the system I choose? What kind of tent should I bring? The tent that I bought for the Colorado Trail was meant to be used as a test for the PCT. It worked well for me on that trip (for the most part), but I had not thought about the problem of the mesh bottom freezing to snow while camping in the Sierras… What kind of sleeping pad should I use and how bulky and heavy is it? A lot of my AT gear has worn out. I realized this past rainy Wednesday that my rain jacket that I bought in Vermont on my AT hike is no longer waterproof in certain parts… I needed a new sleeping bag, a new down jacket, tent stakes for sand and snow, an outfit for desert hiking, a desert umbrella (there will be no shade for the first 700 miles of the hike), lots and lots of socks (the sand chews up socks… I will need to replace the three pairs that I will rotate at least once every 2 weeks), 6 pairs of insoles, 6 pairs of trail runners, an ice axe for the Sierras, a bear canister that is required for holding our food in the Sierras (an additional 3 pounds and too much pack space!), a whole lot of 2 ounce sunscreens, toilet paper, contact lens solution, deet, wet wipes, first aid items, and on and on…And then there is food…. Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks- for over 5 months! So many calories to be replenished, and in the most light weight manner possible! This is a lot of food to pre-plan, order, and re-package! And I’ve heard that you will eat far more on the PCT per day than on the AT!

And then there is compiling a list of stops I will make along the trail to pick up the food that I pre-packaged, estimate the number of days it will take to hike between the stops, figure out how to get there (is it a long, hard hitch?), and what is available at each of these places. Then I will have to separate my maps and trail notes and town notes into sections and place them in the right boxes with my food and supplies for those sections. When there is time, there is also reading bits of past hikers journals so that I can take in as much information as possible about what lies ahead for me. I still need to buy my plane ticket to California (I tried to buy it last Monday, but realized the day was not a smart choice, and then watched the price rise by over $100 over the next 2 days…).

The good news is that I am a lot less worried about planning this hike than I was my AT hike, because of my Colorado Trail experience. I did not research that hike very much or do any specific training for it and I was just fine! (Although planning a 5 week hike is a lot less work than planning a five month hike!). And I found an answer to the very pressing problem of who would be willing to mail me my resupply packages over the course of my hike- a very big and important job! Thank you SO much Ham and Brian!! I am also extremely thankful to my first trail angels of this hike, who will pick me up at the San Diego airport (or close by), take me to their home, feed me, and deliver me to the trailhead in the morning, all without a charge! Incredible! Last year they did this for over 200 hikers! This couple hiked the PCT together in 2007 and I have just started reading their journal. I love them already and am so thankful for such a loving and positive way to start this long journey!

Before I write anymore about the PCT, I really need to catch up on writing about my Colorado Trail experience (which I wanted to do at the end of last August..), so I will go back in time for my next several entries. (Sometimes, just like a wave, you have to go backwards before you can go forwards…)

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