I know it's been close to a month since my last update but honestly, nothing really PCT related has happened. I just got back from Texas a few days ago for my best friend's wedding in Austin. I knew that after this trip, it was crunch time: aka, I've got only 5 weeks to get everything packed, sold and moved out. I'm not a huge procrastinator, but sometimes I don't get motivated to hustle until I know I have a tight deadline.
The thing that I had been dreading for so long (planning out all my stops), finally had to happen. Even though PCTers have some of the greatest resources such as a generator that will literally give you an entire overview of all your resupplies that you can stop at, it's all the little details that really overwhelm me. Things like which towns to buy/mail food to, how many days per box I need, how much food for one day, addresses, post offices, grocery stores, hours of operation, road walks, hitches, water sources, etc...I think you get the idea. And after that, there's all the unknown detour routes--there's quite a handful of fire closures on the PCT that you have to get around. BUT, I am happy to report I did finally finish a rough draft of my resupply, so that I could get an idea how many boxes I will be packing. And the grand total is...18 boxes!
Not too bad, I think. I went off three sources for my decisions on where to stop: Yogi's PCT Handbook, Halfway Anywhere's 2015 survey and the list of all resupply points. I read a lot of mixed opinions on Yogi's book, but I personally found it super helpful. She gives you all the details on each stop and what to do as you plan. From there, I calculated how days of food I would need for each box and what size I would need. Medium flat rate boxes will hold approximately 3-4 days and large is 5-7 (supposedly). I will ship mainly priority flat rate with the exception of 2 UPS only boxes. USPS flat rate is highly recommended because you can stuff as much in the box as you can and weight will not change the shipping cost. You can also forward the box if you don't end up needing it. Conveniently, you can place an order of however many boxes you need for free and get it shipped right to your house via USPS. I numbered my boxes, labeled the destination, and put my name on the sides in big letters. I also added a useless piece of mustache duct tape on the side that didn't have my name...not sure if that would make it stand out at all, but whatevs.
After knowing how many boxes I needed, I finally made my grocery list and did my food shopping. My first stop was WinCo, of course. If you are not familiar with this place, I suggest you check one out ASAP. Prepare to have your mind blown. They are open 24 hours and have the most amazing bulk section.
So I didn't exactly have a plan of attack on how much food to buy of each thing, but I did go through a bunch of recipes I wanted to try, so I wrote down those ingredients. Then I literally just threw in whatever I thought I needed into the bags and figured I could come get more as needed. I am also going gluten/dairy/soy free on trail, mostly. And then in town, I will probably be a ravenous animal, so who knows if I'll end up sticking to my food allergies.
I also went to Costco for the things I couldn't find at WinCo. They actually don't have very much of what I needed, and it's much more expensive, so I would recommend going to WinCo first. I ordered more specific items online such as raw plant based protein powder, dehydrated coconut milk powder, dehydrated honey powder and a bunch of freeze dried veggies (thanks CQ) that I would be too lazy to dehydrate myself.
I am pretty paranoid about dehydrating meat/fatty things and having it go rancid, so the only meat I'm drying is canned chicken. Backpacking Chef has great information on all your dehydration needs. I was talking to Stella this week about that, and she was like "We have a food vacuum sealer we haven't used for years, please take it!" It was such a huge blessing out of nowhere! I will be mainly dehydrating rice/quinoa bases.
Oh, did I also mention that I will probably be going stove less for the first 700 miles through the desert until Kennedy Meadows? Not necessarily for weight, but because I am lazy when it comes to cooking. I noticed even when snow camping, firing up a stove and waiting to "cook" is SO much work. I'd rather just crawl into my sleeping bag and eat my food right away that's ready to eat.
I'm not sure if I'll be craving those warm meals (typically, it's not a big deal for me), so we'll see. I'm going to be trying out all my recipes cold soaked to see if I can eat it. I did try cold mashies the other day, and it was terrible. I think it's because I didn't soak long enough and the texture was bad. There's a good chance I'll ship my Jetboil to Kennedy Meadows and onward since it'll be a lot colder, but who knows, I might just love not cooking the whole way.
Dehydrating yourself seems like it's a lot of tedious work and it can be, but it's also just waiting around for it to dry. I would dehydrate my own veggies, but I feel like cutting up all the carrots and junk seem like too much for me, dunno. I may end up trying it if the packages I bought were too tiny.
Another thing I was concerned about as I was making my batches was how much food to pack per day. According to Carrot Quinn, she says, "I know that as a woman hiking around 25 miles a day, if my food averages 120 calories an ounce I'll need about 2lbs a day to get the 3500 calories I need- that being said, when I'm at the store yeah, I just buy however much ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Also, the PCT is very forgiving in that you can buy trail food in every town, so if you send yourself not enough you can just buy more." So instead of calculating every little calorie per serving, I'm just going to pack my main "meals" and throw in whatever snacks into the bag until it weighs about 1.5-2 lbs. Simple, yeah? I hope so. All of the calorie counting in my google docs was making me go cray cray.
As of now, I'm taking a food packing break while I wait for my dried veggies come into the mail. I can't really put together the recipes without those ingredients, so it's just going to be on hold until then. I guess I could probably pack some more snack bags, but if I can get into a groove, it's usually more productive. So that's kind of it for the very beginning stages of my resupply. Not clue what I'm doing here, but I can't help worrying I won't have enough food if I decide to take it "easy" on a day. I know everyone says to not over plan and it'll just work out, but it's hard to imagine having enough food if I suddenly decide I want to do shorter days or something.
In other news, I met up with John Z this week and did a little video interview with him. I was thoroughly impressed with all of his recent adventures, and we spent a good deal of our time chatting and sharing our stories. When he first thru-hiked the PCT, he had cycled to the Mexican border from Canada, and then started the PCT immediately after. Then this past year he had hiked the CDT and went on to do the AT right after. Insane in the membrane, I know. He also is super passionate about sharing his adventures and storytelling through his videos. They are all beautifully edited and features some of his own music. Take a look at his videos, and he's in the process of finishing his AT ones. I'm excited to continue meeting other thru-hikers, it's been really fun getting connected with all these different types of people.
If you haven't heard yet, it's El Nino year, so everyone is freaking out about the Sierras and all the possible snow pack waiting for them when they arrive at KM. California is about to receive over 100 inches of snow in these next few days. It's great for all the water sources but a little scary if there is a ton of snow when hikers are crossing through all the passes. I'm not super worried since I've done a handful amount of snow travel in Washington, but I would be terrified in a white out where I would need to route find. So today I had a friend give me a crash course on map & compass/self arrest over at Snoqualmie Pass.
What exactly is self-arrest? Watch this video below. Thanks Jeff.
The snow we practiced on was super fresh, so it wasn't the best of conditions, but I think I got the picture. It's a LOT harder than watching videos, I promise. I'm pretty sure if I ever slipped and had to self arrest, I would fall to my death or impale myself with the axe. Let's just hope nobody would have to come to the point of self arresting. Small, slow, easy steps, plz.
I hope the massive amount of photos in this post makes up for the last month I had no updates. I am officially down to 4 weeks until departure. I feel like I still have SO much to do. Money has been coming out of the wazoo lately. Been dropping hundreds on car maintenance, allergy tests, dentist/doctor appointments, resupply food, etc. I feel like it's all coming at me now. I also found out I won't be able to pro-rate my last month's rent. :( So it's like $500+ thrown away for half of the month I won't be here. Such a bummer. I don't feel like it's hit me that it's really happening yet. Maybe because I'm distracted by all the busy stuff I'm trying to sort out before I go, but I hear it doesn't really hit you until you're driving up to the border. Also, change of plans to San Diego. We gave up our spots at Scout and Frodo's because we had a friend offer to drive us instead. Though I would've loved to meet them, I didn't want to take up a spot for someone who doesn't have family/friends in the area and really needed a ride.
Life is weird right now.