Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Today is 'Someday'

We all have something we say someday we'll do. For me, today is that Someday because I leave today to drive down to the border and start my hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.

I could barely fall asleep and stay asleep last night. I was a bundle of nerves. I had nightmares that we had way more pet birds than we actually do and that a whole bunch of them died because I forgot to care for them. But other than that and a few worries that maybe this overweight, out-of-shape, old lady is crazy for doing this, I've been very calm. Let's hope I don't come home defeated after a couple of weeks, all this wind-up and preparation an exercise in humiliation.

Today involves a long drive and then who knows what exactly. Tony (Trailhacker) is coming with me for a few days. We may start hiking today or we may just drive to the border for some pictures or we may have to hike to the border from wherever we can park the car, which might be a few miles of hiking if that place is the ranger station on the map.

Immediately we'll be confronted with almost 20 miles without water on the trail. So immediately we'll either have to push our mileage or carry enough water for a dry camp. Already I can see I packed too much food so my pack is overburdened. I also packed my cell phone, which is something I didn't want to do because it's heavy. I meant to mail it to myself. But it might be useful.

Tony will hopefully take dispatches from the trail when he gets home and put some reports in my blog from time-to-time. I'll be keeping a journal the old-fashioned way: paper and pencil. So many people out there have pocketmail and phones and all kinds of gadgets and really, I just want to get away and really be there, not tapping away on some tiny screen.

So, here's to finally really being there on Someday. Cheers!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Leaving Wednesday

I have just taken the first real step of the PCT, but I haven't left home yet. My first step was to mail my bounce bucket and my first resupply package.

A bounce bucket is a container you ship to yourself along the way so that you can take things out or put things in your pack as you need them, reducing the need to carry every possible thing for all those different climate zones with you.

My bounce bucket is a plastic Kirkland laundry detergent bucket I found in somebody's recycling. The guy at the post office had to check if it was ok to use, not because it was a bucket but because of what it contained prior to my use of it. I hope it doesn't pose a problem at other post offices. Next time I'll try for a cat litter bucket.

It cost $12 to mail my bounce bucket Priority Mail. Priority Mail is more trustworthy than regular parcel post, and faster, and I hear that if you don't open the package they'll forward it to another destination without you having to pay again.

I took a few things out of my pack this morning after checking the weather report for the next week or so. It doesn't look like rain so I took the rain gear out and put it in my bounce bucket. I can pick it up in Warner Springs if it looks like I'll need it after then.


Before my bike ride last weekend, each day's hiking, walking or biking seemed to be getting progressively more tiring until the last day before the ride. I felt like I could barely move. My legs were all achy and I just felt run down. When I rode my bike my legs felt like they were on fire. I decided I might need to take a week off of walking and I worried I'd never survive the bike ride.

Then it occurred to me that maybe I was low on electrolytes or vitamins. I took a couple of vitamins and started to feel a little better in a few hours. The next day in San Luis Obispo with my friends I took another vitamin before our warm-up bike ride and bought an electrolyte drink called G2 at our first stop. G2 has less sugar and less sickly sweet flavor than most of the horrible drinks they make these days. I thought it was quite good. After that, I felt 100% up to speed again. So indeed it was low electrolytes and/or vitamins.

If that can happen here in Santa Barbara where it's been kind of cold I can only imagine how it will be inland on the big hike. I'll be taking some lite salt and vitamins in addition to these electrolyte drinks in order to keep my potassium and sodium and whatever else up to a normal range. I'll try to remember to take a vitamin every now and then and if I feel like I really exerted myself, I'll put some salt on my dinner and drink some electrolytes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My gear list

My gear is all set. Here it is:

Pack: Jandd frameless pack intended for short weekend trips. Has a pocket on top and the rest is just a bag with a stiff piece of foam to provide support on the back. The hip belt is not padded. I've sewn some mesh around the outside to increase the space for holding water and extras. I obtained the mesh from a sack intended for storing volley balls. I also have a small canvas pouch attached to the hip belt for holding my camera (Minolta Dimage-x with 4 extra batteries) and journal. I removed some compression straps since I usually use up all the space. In one of the loops from the old compression straps I'll stash my penny whistle.

Hiking poles: Ultralight Leki poles. I worried about shelling out the money but they're really light, quiet and I like the way the handle doesn't feel sweaty. My tent uses these poles. Sometimes I don't like having two poles and just use only one. Sometimes I don't even want one, so I kept the little plastic thing that was used for the store display and affixed that to my pack. I can easily attach the poles to my pack that way and then my hands are free to play the penny whistle while I walk. (I've been practicing and I can even play while walking up hill.)

In the main compartment: 
  • Northface down sleeping bag. I think it's rated to 20°. I've had it for about 10 years.
  • Patagonia down sweater
  • Clothes: 
    • silky long underwear for sleeping
    • wool socks, nylon liners (thin and thick -- these three socks pairs make up my #2 system for socks)
    • bicycle arm warmers
    • Gloves -- fleece fingerless gloves (XL so I can tuck my fingers inside)
    • tyvek coveralls cut in half to form rain pants and rain jacket (for light rain -- there's a real rain jacket in my bounce box for the Sierras, and some crampons for snow)
    • Marmot Dri-clime windshirt (we'll see if this and the down sweater are overkill.)

  • Gossamer Gear "The One" tent
  • Small piece of travel towel for tent condensation
  • Sierra stove with 2 cup titanium pot, foil for lid, pot grabber (I always burn my fingers), lighter, plastic spoon, lexan cup and the bottom half of a bleach bottle to both protect the dirty pot from my stuff and to use as a wash basin.
  • 2 nalgene bottles
  • Ursack with my food (Bear Vault small bear can in the Sierras.)
In the inside top pocket:
  • Toiletries: shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, brush (just the bristle part), tiny bit of Dr. Bronner's, dental floss, the tweezers from a swiss army knife I no longer have, small bottle of sunscreen (refill from bounce box.)
  • First aid/emergency stuff: Bandaids, molefoam, ibubrofen, vicodin (more in bounce box and also antibiotics in bounce box), immodium, neosporin, waterproof matches, 3 trick birthday candles, needle and thread, extra bite valve for my camelback bag, extra piece of elastic cord, extra hair ties
  • Safety pins
In the outside top pocket:
  • Umbrella and a mylar cover I made (will probably fall apart)
  • Flip-flops I made from the lousy insoles that came with my shoes.
  • Fleece hat that has ear flaps and a cord for under the chin. Won't fall off when I sleep.
  • Fleece neck wrap I wear on my motorcycle. Really helps keep cheeks and neck warm.
  • Clip on 1 LED flashlight.
  • Toilet paper
  • Squeeze bottle bidet (won't use TP for number one)
  • Empty wine bag from box wine for emergency extra water
  • Map/guide book bag which contains the PCT Data Book, sections of the PCT guide book, map of trail and road map of California, resupply notebook, compass, pencil with some duct tape wrapped around it, permits, water and town reports printed from Internet and a few pages of sheet music so I can learn new tunes on my penny whistle along the way, and a magnifier like a credit card to help me see (I'm getting old).
Attached to the pack or in the mesh:
  • Penny whistle
  • Z-lite pad
  • bug net
  • bandana halves
  • Camelback un-bottle (yeah, the foam is extra weight but it protects from pokey branches and keeps the water cool for a few hours)
  • Water filter
  • Cheap, simple digital watch that shows time, date and day of week
  • Patagonia polyester/spandex bra (very light, for chafing. May not wear if I get heat rash on my chest)
  • Polyester panties
  • Sleeveless lime green polyester shirt (bought at thrift store, wore on 2 bike rides and 2 hikes and it still didn't stink. This $1.50 shirt is a winner.)
  • Long-sleeved beige nylon hiking shirt (love the pockets)
  • Nylon zip-off pants in beige (I usually don't zip off, but I'll zip half way to let air in)
  • Injinji merino wool toe socks
  • Wool stocks over the toe socks
  • Cheap Hi-Tek men's low-top hiking shoes (in an astonishing size 8.5) with super-feet insoles and a metatarsal pad for my left foot.
  • Saturday Afternoons sun hat (another lovely beige)
  • Sun glasses
Total weight: (not counting my basic hiking clothes -- sleeveless shirt, long-sleeved shirt, hat, pants, shoes and socks) is about 20lbs.

Bounce box:
I found a laundry detergent bucket. I think it's 3 gallons. Kind of rectangular. Inside I have:
  • Guide book sections
  • Map sections
  • Spare extra food, mostly additives to give things flavor (didn't want to waste it)
  • Extra sun glasses
  • Real rain coat
  • Tape and mailing labels
  • Refills of sun block and TP
  • Dress for town
  • Chaco sandals (I'll see if I want to switch to sandals along the way)
  • Empty bottle for alcohol fuel
  • Alcohol stove (I find it hard to light when cold and worrying about running out of fuel and what to do if I have to buy too much was just too much hassle. I may use this in the high Sierras, though.)
  • Anti-biotics, vicodin and bandaids
  • Battery chargers
  • Nail clippers (the heavy-duty kind for my toes)
  • Odds and ends I keep dropping in there. Who knows what's in there now.

Folks like to talk about systems. This is mine for clothing, going from hottest to coldest (I get cold pretty easily):
  • Zip-off pants, most-likely never zipped off unless it's just so scorchingly hot even half unzipped isn't comfortable.
  • Sleeveless shirt for the hottest days coupled with umbrella for shade and sun protection
  • Sleeveless shirt and nylon long-sleeved shirt (sleeves roll up) for comfortable days.
  • Sleeveless shirt, nylon long-sleeved shirt and Dri-clime windshirt for cooler temps and cold wind
  • Add arm warmers to above if really cold
  • Add Patagonia down sweater if really really cold
  • If light rain that won't last long, tyvek rain pants/jacket and umbrella. If rain lasts or is heavy, set up tent.
  • Always the sun hat, add bandana if needed, add fleece hat for cold
My sleeping system:
  • Silk long underwear. NO underwear underneath them. Try to wash body before putting on. Having any sweat on your body makes you colder.
  • Wool socks
  • Fleece hat
  • If cold, Patagonia down sweater
  • Also if cold, fleece neck wrap
  • Also if cold, the arm warmers
  • Sleeping bag tossed over me like a quilt. Zipped up with only my nose pointing out if really cold.
  • Pillow made out of whatever's left (I usually sleep on my back since it hurts to sleep on side on the ground and I drool all over my sleeping bag any other way which isn't good.)
  • Tent for mosquitos/cold/rain or just sense of safety/security. Otherwise, sleep out under stars.
My hygiene system:
  • For on-trail washing: Bleach bottle wash basin, Dr. Bronner's soap. Take off underwear, wash in basin, then use as wash cloth to wash me (I did this in Nepal with great success). Can also wash other clothes in basin if needed. Use bandanas or air to dry off. Use safety pins to hang things from pack to dry.
  • Basic hygiene: I don't menstruate so I don't have to deal with that!! Hooray!! I have a squeeze bottle to hose off after peeing. TP for the other stuff. 
  • Hair: My hair is long so I'll put it up in braid(s), pony-tail, bun, whatever. Wash it every now and then with shampoo. Brush it once in a while.
Well, that's a lot of information. 

I hope all this stuff serves me well. I probably over-did it on clothing, but I know I get cold easily and for the first few weeks I won't be putting in any super long hiking days, so I'm certain I'll be happy I have a lot of layers to stay comfortable. It's been unseasonably cold this month so I'm unsure what to expect. 

I realize it's not ultralight, but I've been hiking with my gear and it seems like a weight I'm willing to carry.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Revise my resupply?

I realize that I'm just a mere two weeks away from leaving but I'm thinking about revising my resupply schedule.

There are nice hiker towns I'm going to miss with my current resupply schedule. It might be better for me to have fewer smaller resupplies and go to these towns where I can get the full flavor of the experience rather than further apart mail drops that have me carrying a lot of heavy food.

Also, I could break up some of the hotter sections further ahead into smaller pieces with mail drops.

Or perhaps I could just drop one of my mail drops out. That's a waste of food.

Or maybe I should just keep them as is and just be happy knowing that I don't have to shop when I get to these nice towns. Just have a nice meal, wash some clothes, soak up atmosphere and be on my way.

It's so confusing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Not Leave No Trace

This post has got the current crop of PCT hikers up in arms. Muffin frisbee. Tossing your food off the side of the trail because it's too heavy.

Not all hikers will go to ANY length, including polluting the environment and attracting nuisance animals to the trail, to shed pack weight. If it were me, I would continue to carry the food until I either ate it or could dispose of it in a more environmentally sound manner.

This poor woman is going to feel really bad when she finds out the controversy she has caused by her actions.

Now I really am starting to worry about what conditions I'll find after the herd has gone through and left a wasteland of toilet paper under every rock and plastic water bottles everywhere.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

May 1 to Aug 25

I plotted my PCT schedule on a calendar. If I go 15 miles a day on average I should complete my journey on August 25. That's almost 4 full months. Wow. My longest hike has only been 5 days. 10 days if you count the time I walked to Mexico, but that wasn't a backpack trip.

My fear is that I'll average much more than 15 miles a day and complete too soon. It seems like the weather is finally getting good in August. I don't want to end in July and miss out on finally not being lunch meat for mosquitos. Plus this is a trip of a lifetime and I don't want it over too quick. We'll see what really happens.

Normally, even at my most fit, hiking 16 miles is about my limit before my feet hurt too much and I'm hobbling. I can't imagine myself hiking 20 miles a day with a full 30lb backpack, although when I do my training hikes and realize I can do 8 miles in just a few hours, it really isn't that far-fetched.

Yes, 30lb. With food for a week and water for the day, 30lb is what it weighs. I'll probably need even more water than that on the PCT since there are numerous times when you go more than 20 miles without access to water. It's not so bad.

Today's training hike was Cold Spring Trail. It is an unrelenting uphill climb but 2/3 of the way up the incline seems to be pretty gentle. The trail is really rocky. Like walking on 4-inch ball bearings. Your toe seems to hook on every rock pulling it under your foot to trip on. But other than that, it was a lovely day. Cool and comfortable. I felt strong and powerful.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Super Ultra Light

SUL, or Super Ultralight backpacking, I'm convinced, is the ability of super-high metabolism, hot-sleeping, young men to day hike the PCT. 

The idea of hiking in shorts no matter how cold is something only a Minnesota native would do. I remember at UC Santa Barbara you could always tell who was from Minnesota because they would still be in shorts and flip-flops in the middle of winter.

Today I read about a guy who jumps in a lake just before bed with his hiking clothes to clean them, wrings them, then puts them on and hops into his sleeping bag. In a few hours, he claims, his clothes are dry and he is warm. I'm sorry but I would die of hypothermia.

I will slowly saunter in to the finish line with my heavy (30lbs with food and water, 17 dry) pack having spent three and a half months sleeping warmly and hiking slowly enough to enjoy the beauty.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sun gloves

It's been suggested that to make it through the desert section on the PCT, and to save your hands from high altitude radiation, it's a good idea to have sun gloves. 

I looked up sun gloves on the Internet. A recommended pair is Simms sun gloves. They are fingerless with a hole in the palm and cost about $15.

At the hardware store they had gardening gloves for $3.50. They have a plastic coating on the palm side. I bought a pair, cut the fingers off and cut a hole in the palm. The plastic coating keeps the fabric from fraying.

I tested them out today on my hike. It wasn't a very sunny spot but it was a warm day. They were comfortable enough to be a winner.

When does the vacillating stop?

I'm getting down to the wire. I have a few things I can't decide on. I keep going back and forth.

Sleeping bag Should I go out and buy a lighter bag? I could save a pound or so. Is it worth the money? A new bag would probably also be smaller in my pack. But my current bag is pretty toasty and a known entity. What if a new bag wasn't comfortable?

Walking sticks After the sleeping bag there's not much else I can make lighter except the walking sticks. Should I spring for lighter ones? Again, my current ones are a known entity. I know they work. The lighter ones are very expensive.

Down jacket Last weekend I slept in my bag wearing my down jacket. I was so toasty. I didn't think I would be so comfortable without it. It's those micro-breezes that get me. But that seems like a wasted extra amount of weight. Would I need a down jacket any other time? Is there a better way to deal with the micro-breezes? If I leave it home will I find myself too cold?

Rain jacket Should I carry my rain jacket? I can't imagine there would be any rain in southern California after May 1. I should probably send it ahead and pick it up in the Sierras where I know there will be rain. But will there be enough rain that I'll need it? Or will an umbrella work ok? I have always been in camp before the rain hit in the afternoon on my Sierra trips so it's hard to imagine hiking in the rain. I've hiked in the rain locally and it's really not that bad, but at the end of the hike, I've always just gotten in the car and gone home.

Zip stove I like the idea of not worrying about running out of fuel. But a wood-burning stove is messy. I can't decide if it's a better deal than the alcohol stove. I felt kind of disappointed by my alcohol stove last weekend. It is hard to light when it is cold. It's hard to see the flame and easy to burn yourself. If you use too much fuel there's nothing you can do but let it burn. If you didn't use enough to cook your dinner, then you have to wait for the stove to cool down before you can add more fuel. It used more fuel that I thought it would but I also ended up wasting fuel, too. It's an unknown entity.

But the wood stove is sort of unknown, too. I have only used it a few times. It works very well, but your pot gets sticky and black. What if there are no sticks in the high Sierras? Should I bring the wood stove and only use the alcohol stove in the Sierras? Will I get tired of the smell? (Or will it mask the smell of my stinky clothes?)

Training hike today

I went for a hike today with my full pack. It's ok going up hill but slow. Down hill my back was hurting. I loosened things and then my shoulders were hurting. My pack has no frame at all. I'm probably pushing its upper weight limit. Either I have to reduce some weight in my pack or else I have to hope I'll get stronger in the next 20 days.

It's amazing what a difference something like 5 pounds can make in whether I'm skipping up the trail like a day hike vs whether I'm rest-stepping my way up the trail like a beast of burden. This is why I'm having a hard time deciding if it's worth the money and the unknown-factor to purchase some more new gear, or whether it's safe to leave some of my gear at home.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tyvek rain suit

Today I made a rain suit out of $10 Tyvek coveralls that I found at the hardware store. I tested the sleeve by holding it under running water and the tyvek suit is indeed waterproof.

What I did was to cut the coveralls in half across the waistline. First I zipped up the zipper, then I cut. 

Then I sewed off the end of the zipper so that the top half can be used as a jacket. I have to pull it over my head, but the zipper still works.

Tyvek doesn't require you to hem off the edges so I just left the bottom edge of the jacket as is. But I sewed off the edge where the zipper connects to the fabric so that it wouldn't fray.

Next I took the leftover part of the zipper out of the pants and sewed up the fly. Then I folded over the top and hemmed it off so that I could slip in some elastic for the waistband. With the waistband in place, I figured out how long the pants should be and hacked them off to that length.

I also have a really nice hooded waterproof-breathable rain coat and regular waterproof-breathable rain pants. The kind of thing that ought to withstand a heavy-duty rain storm. But they seem awfully hot. 

Now I have a choice between the two suits or a combination of the pieces. My Tyvek rain suit weighs practically nothing, but it's a disposable suit so I don't know how long a life it will have. Definitely I will bring the pants. I will have to decide if the Tyvek jacket is adequate. It probably is, but I'm not sure yet.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Goals and life purpose

At my last job they always would tell us you can grow your career here. My boss was always asking me what are my goals, wouldn't I like to take his place someday, move up the career ladder. At another job I moved up based on notions of being a "natural leader". But careerism, moving up the ladder or ambition has never quite felt like my purpose in life. I've known this since as a child when I asked my father why you can't just get a job at some place and just do that. He freaked out by that question because you're supposed to have loftier goals.

That's not to say that I have no ambition, that I don't work hard and try to make a decent living. Learning new things is very important to me. Stagnation is bad for me. Boring repetitive work is a recipe for disaster for me. So I try to find work that is mentally challenging and that keeps me busy and let's me add value through my intelligence and creativity.

I always felt bad when my boss would ask me what my goals were and I didn't have an answer. That's why I decided to take the career class that I did. It turned out not to be a career class, however, even though it was in the careers section of the listing. This was a class on living an authentic life. And it's the reason I'm about to embark on the Pacific Crest Trail, a rather lofty goal of a different kind.

Through the class exercises and other things I've read, one thing that has been suggested is to get out a piece of paper or open a text file on your computer and just start writing everything that comes to mind in answer to the question "My purpose in life is..." After about 20 or 30 minutes you are supposed to find your answer, and the answer will be known to you because you'll have tears running down your face.

I had tears running down my face as I was writing my resignation letter because I knew I was following my purpose in life, which is to be out in nature, to love nature. I get tears running down my face thinking about walking in to Lone Pine as a thru-hiker. I get tears running down my face thinking about maybe some day having a thru-hiker haven of my own for everybody to stop at.

My mother bought me the book The Secret and we also watched the DVD of The Secret in class. It's a really annoying book and DVD. It's all about money. When I'm out hiking and seeing the beauty of nature, the smell of the chaparral, the flick of a bird through the brush, the powerful body of a snake, the cheerful wildflowers, I feel like the wealthiest woman in the world. Nature is my true wealth. I don't want money and power, I want pollen on my boots.

Part of The Secret is the Law of Attraction which basically means that if you want something and think about it you'll move toward it. Also if you don't want something and you think about it you'll move toward that, too. Right now my only want is to hike the PCT. I try to keep the fears of "What next?" out of my mind. I hope as I walk the trail I will be walking toward a new future for me and the answer to "What next?" will be revealed, even if only a little bit.

What that future is after the hike I do not know. Somehow I just know my hike will lead me to where I'm supposed to go next. My goals are still foggy but I know I'm on the path to my life's purpose. And foggy goals seems to be a trait of mine anyway so I'm OK with that. Just start the journey and the path will be revealed.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Packing my food

I hate planning. I'm just not a planner. Planning seems to be the opposite of being a true nomad.

Here I am sitting amidst an enormous pile of food and packaging trying to put it in boxes, trying to imagine myself eating it on the trail and wondering if it isn't all just way too much. I've never brought this much food backpacking before. Do they really believe you can eat 1.5 to 2 lbs a day? It looks like an awful lot of food to me. I'll have to eat from sun-up to sun-down to consume it all.

Good lord, I'll have to carry it too! Oh my! What did I sign up for? A week's worth of food is hard enough, but 10 days? I hope I can walk faster than that after a while. Those first two or three loads will be heavy though.

I got down to my last box for Belden PO. I'll be eating some mashed potatoes for lunch and have pretty much only starchy things to eat. That's ok though because it's the box before Mom's house. Maybe she'll have steak or fresh fish for me there.

I only have 5 boxes to mail. I'm mailing them rather than relying on gas station food. The rest of the time, which is most of the time, I'll resupply in stores along the way. I'm pretty sure it will work out fine.

One resupply I intend to make even though it might not logically make sense is to go to Lone Pine. Part of living this dream has involved all the times I went to Lone Pine and ate at that Pizza place and imagined what it would be like to be a thru-hiker eating there instead of just a muggle. I've also dreamed that someday I'll own that Pizza place, or one like it in a town somewhere and I'll build a special room where all the thru-hikers can come and hang out and have cheap beer, pizza and ice cream and a shower. There will be things all over the walls, pictures and stories and whatever else all telling stories of the hikers' great adventures.

This is my dream.

Dehydrating miso doesn't work

I tried to dehydrate miso. It didn't really work. It sticks to the wax paper. Maybe I will try again and see if it will dehydrate on plastic wrap.

I tried to dehydrate something using plastic wrap before but the wrap doesn't allow any air flow, even with a hole in the middle, so the food I was dehydrating just went bad.

I'm very disappointed by the miso.

I'm resistant to buying individual miso soup packages. It disgusts me how much excess packaging there is for that. They are usually double-wrapped either as a box with packets inside or as a packet inside another plastic packet.

In fact, packaging in general disgusts me. 

First you have to pay to purchase it, which means you are paying for the graphic artists and marketing people who write all the words and images all over it; the people who design the shape and size and materials and glue; the people who chopped down the trees for the box and drilled and processed the oil for the plastic; and all the shipping that just went into the packaging before it became the product.

Then you have to pay to throw it out in the trash. 

Somebody went to a lot of trouble to make a container that just might last forever that holds a little bit of food or drink that you will eat in 15 minutes. They wouldn't go through all that trouble if it wasn't a huge profit for them. Basically, our food system is a plastic and cardboard waste delivery system, a free giveaway to the packaging industry. They've even found a way to insert plastic into every piece of fruit you buy these days but putting a little non-biodegradable sticker on it. 

It's an insane system.

Friday, April 04, 2008

All that is left

I looked at my rudimentary resupply schedule and calculated how many days worth of mailed food I'd need and then looked through the food I already had. Then I went to Trader Joe's and bought what's missing.

All that is left now is to parcel the food into boxes and put mailing labels on them with instructions for Tony about which ones get mailed approximately when. I'll also need to print out some addresses and things for both myself and Tony.

I think I'm satisfied that my gear is as good as it's going to get. I'll arrange any gear I'm not taking into a pile with labels on the items so that if it turns out there's something I should have that I didn't bring I can call Tony and ask him to mail it to me. The labels ought to help him know what I'm talking about.

Nothing left to do now but figure out how to get to the trailhead. I'm ready to go.

Hiked in my Chacos today

I put 25 pounds on my back and did my training hike up Rattlesnake to the waterfall on Tunnel wearing my Chaco sandals. I have to say, these are the best shoes I have.

I wasn't sure that I could backpack with Chacos. My training hike is pretty rocky with some sections of loose rocks that are easy to stub toes and trip on. The trail seemed less rocky than normal wearing my Chacos. In fact, after a while I completely forgot about my feet, which is a miracle since mostly I am always thinking about them. I never stubbed a toe or anything even though my sandals hit the rocks in a stubbing-toe kind of way several times.

Even if my pack ends up being 30 pounds I'm still bringing my Chacos as extra footwear. Once I'm able to walk all day in them, I'll send my shoes home or ahead to wherever I might encounter snow.

On another note: Ticks! One actually bit me on my arm where I had rolled up my sleeve. I pulled him out just as he started. Ouch. The other was crawling up my leg under my pants. I just threw him over the balcony.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Slight bureaucratic snag in my plans

An ID is required to pick up general delivery packages at the post office. I seem to have lost my driver's license. I've looked everywhere and cannot find it. I have also sent my passport in to be renewed. I have no ID at all. Maybe I no longer exist.

It will take probably more than 3 weeks to get a new license. I may have to push my start date ahead until it comes.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Went for a hike with 30 lbs on my back

I packed up my backpack with all my gear, including my bear can stuffed with raisins, lentils and nuts, and went for a hike today up Rattlesnake trail to the waterfall on Tunnel Trail.

With all my gear and 2.5 liters of water my pack was oppressively heavy at 30 pounds. It felt heavier than our Hurricane Deck hike when I had 2 liters of water hidden in the bottom of my pack in addition to my 4.5 liter bag. That bear can is a bear. And those raisins! Maybe I should dehydrate my raisins.

I set out on the hike and I could feel the heaviness. I hurt my knee when the bushes forced me to my knees on the Hurricane Deck trail and it started to hurt again going down the trail today with all that heavy weight. Now I worry about my knee. I guess I'll have to rest and take ibuprofen so it will heal.

I don't know what to do to make my pack lighter. I looked at a super light sleeping bag, a Marmot Helium or Hydrogen or some kind of light element, which was on sale. My sleeping bag is close to 3 pounds and is bulky. This super light one was less than 2 pounds. But the zipper doesn't go all the way down the side. That's probably how they saved weight. I get so claustrophobic if I can't unzip all the way and let my feet out. I like to use my bag like a blanket.

There's a company that makes bags like blankets but at this point I'm not sure I should be ordering more gear. I'm kind of out of time for that sort of thing now.

When I got home I took a look at my pack and figured I could remove the compression straps on the sides. And since I use trekking poles I don't need the little handles I used to hang my hands from anymore. That eliminated a few ounces.

I took all my stuff over to the scale and weighed it without the food, bear can and water and it's about 15 pounds. Lots of people start out with that and brag about how light they are. I guess I'll be ok and suffer the most in the desert where I have to carry extra water, and in the Sierras where I have to carry the bear can. 

On the plus side my new huge men's shoes work well.