Thursday, October 8, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
So here I am in Kennedy Meadows after the first 703 miles of the PCT. I'd like to sum up my experience so far.
Scenery and terrain
Most of what I've covered can be classified as semi-desert. I've passed through almost all the major mountains of Southern California. There's been a lot of desert scrub, tons of chaparral, and occasional stretches of pine, oak, and fir forest. I'm looking forward to being into higher mountains for the rest of the trip.
Water and snow
I've never needed to carry more than 4 liters of water at a time, by carefully planning my water resupplies. Caches have been more frequent and reliable than I initially expected. There was not too much snow on the northwest side of San Jacinto this year to create any difficulties, and the Baden Powell trail was almost entirely snow-free.
I quickly fell 4.5 days behind schedule in the first 10 days of the trip, but now I have caught back up to my mostly arbitrary schedule and am even two days ahead, with possibly more gains expected in the coming weeks. At this point a 20-mile day sounds super-easy, a 25-mile day sounds like an easy day, and a 30-mile day sounds like a normal goal. After a month on the trail, my body seems to be ready for consistent 25+ mile days.
After weeks with no blisters when others were suffering, I got a bunch in the week before my shoes were due for replacement. Grit in the insole seems to have something to do with it, as well as not letting my feet cool off as often as I should have. My new inov-8 305s feel great. Before the blisters came, I got a slightly inflamed ankle tendon at the end of a 33-mile day that took nearly 10 days to disappear. Now I have sore feet at the start of each day or after long breaks (when you stand up and feel like your feet are bruised on the bottom), but it goes away after a few minutes of slow walking. I expect this to be last for the entire trip and a few weeks afterwards.
The biggest challenges have been keeping a positive attitude despite foot problems and feelings of loneliness. There were at least 2 points where I was seriously considering returning home early -- right before Idyllwild and a couple days before Agua Dulce. I was feeling lonely and down because I'd fallen so far behind people I'd made friends with during the first few days (the first time) or because of foot problems that weren't going away (the second). Both times, these feelings passed within a day. Ups and downs are to be expected. I've spent more time hiking and camping with others recently and feel better emotionally as a result. You don't connect with everyone you meet on the trail, so not every chance meeting with another thru-hiker will necessarily lift your spirits.
I'm really pleased with my food strategy so far. A diet of 4800-5000 calories per day seems to be about right for me, and I have not lost weight. I've slightly increased my breakfast size, added tuna and onion powder to my buckwheat dinners, and am still wondering whether or not to keep the Oreos with peanut or almond butter. That's the only thing I'm getting tired of. I really like my breakfast granola and evening buckwheat dish. Now my trail name is "Buckwheat," by the way. I like to soak my wild groats, I tell people.
My kitchen setup has been optimized as follows: 1 liter grease pot, peanut butter jar for soaking buckwheat, and a lexan spoon. I do not miss hot food. I have not had food cravings, nor do I spend much time thinking about food. That is a good sign that my food situation is pretty good.
I've pared down my gear to only what I'm actually using for this section. It has not rained once so far. Heat has been more of an issue than cold. I'm enjoying the bivy for use in windy areas and for occasional wonderful naps in the heat of the day, but it often gets hot inside at night. It's hard to regulate the temperature with everything closed off to the passage of air. I might choose a bug bivy if I did the PCT again, and if I kept the bivy sack, I'd sew loops on the corners for staking out (useful in wind).
I've been using the poles in the morning and sometimes later evening, with the umbrella dominating during the day. The Chrome Dome is stable in winds and does not break, but occasionally it has been too windy to use it.
My pack is doing great, the map case is superb, the sleeping bag (quilt, actually) is perhaps a bit too warm.
I'm very satisfied with my clothes and would not change anything at this point. I always hike in my polyester running shorts and merino wool T-shirt. An insulating layer seems superfluous for the conditions I've been in so far out here. Nylon socks are awesome. I use the "rinse only" method for washing clothes. On certain stretches it has been impossible to wash clothes, but those always end eventually.
Next to come are the Sierra Nevada. I have a heftier ULA backpack for this section, as well as an ice axe, Microspikes crampons, gloves, and a plastic pack liner (important for river crossings).
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Behind the Catalyst in popularity is probably the Golite Pinnacle, which is one of the few frameless packs that can be bought retail. Other popular packs are others in the ULA line, the Golite Jam2, the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus, Granite Gear packs, and occasionally some Osprey, Six Moon Designs, and other packs. I have only seen one other person ("Lint") with another Mountain Laurel Designs pack like myself. I highly recommend them. I have not seen anyone with a lighter backpack than myself (not the baseweight, but the backpack itself). I have met one person with a sub-8 lbs baseweight, and she was a girl ("Cat").
If you can get your baseweight minus pack to under 10 lbs, then you can switch to an ultralight frameless backpack and instantly drop another 2 pounds (a kind of snowball weight-dropping effect). Then, you can walk more miles and have fewer days between resupplies, meaning less food to carry.
I recommend the well-built and minimalist Mountain Laurel Designs and Zpacks backpacks. Their translucent cuben fiber packs are the lightest reasonably durable packs on the market (weighing as little as 6 oz). It may be too late to order an MLD pack for a trek this summer, but Zpacks is accepting orders through the end of MAY and has a turnaround of about a week. If you've got a low baseweight with a 2 or 3 lbs pack, getting a crazy light Zpack mailed to you on the trail is a quick way to drop 2 lbs. The Golite line weighs a pound more than the truly ultralight packs and are not as carefully designed or sewn, but should be sufficient for most hikers. Used ultralight packs can be found at the backpackinglight.com Gear Swap forum. I have bought many things at this forum.
When you're already out on the trail, it may seem like a daunting task to get ahold of some ultralight gear and trade out your equipment, but it can be done. You'll need to take some time online to peruse and order gear and arrange to have it mailed to a resupply point a couple weeks up the trail. You'll probably have to make some phone calls to clarify the shipping address and method.
- Hammock and bug-net. Alas, I decided to abandon this because of warmth and weight issues. With so much wind on the PCT, it is sometimes hard to keep warm in the hammock at even 45 degrees. To be warm and truly comfortable I feel like I'd need an underquilt, which would add quite a bit of weight to my system. The allure of dropping my baseweight and freeing up space in my pack was also a major factor.
- Warm merino wool socks from Darn Tough. Unnecessary. Target/Walmart nylon dress socks rule.
- Thin Gossamer Gear torso pad. Unnecessary once the hammock is gone.
- Ball-point pen. Already got one on my Victorinox Classic knife.
- Whistle with compass and thermometer. Got most of that on my watch.
- Montbell UL down vest. Weighs just 6 oz, but I can easily get by without this. Heat is the problem out here, not cold.
- Caldera Cone alcohol stove with plastic container. I like the stove, but I don't need hot food so often to justify the additional half pound to a pound (when the weight of fuel is included).
- MSR Titan pot with pot cozy. With the stove gone, now I can switch to the lighter and slightly larger (and more convenient) K-Mart grease pot. If I must boil water, I can build a small fire.
- Possum Down gloves. Cold is not a problem. Might get these back in the Sierra.
- Mountain Laurel Designs rain mitts. Might get these back in the Sierra.
- Cuben fiber poncho-tarp with tie-outs and stakes. There will be no sustained precipitation between here and the Sierra. If there happens to be a brief shower, I can get through it with my umbrella, etc. Will get this back in Kennedy Meadows.
- ADZPCTKO bandana. Not absorbant enough to be used as a towel. Not as good as a sponge for washing. Only good for hitchhiking (says "Hiker to Town" and "Hiker to Trail" on it).
- DEET. Will get back in the Sierra Nevada. Bugs not a significant problem now.
- Some first-aid supplies. You know those things you've carried with you on your last 100 backpacking trips and never used? I kept the ones that have >50% chance of actually being used.
And I had two items mailed to me: my lighter pot and a bivy sack from Titanium Goat that weighs about 7 oz. That's my wind and bug protection.
- countless rattlesnakes, some light-colored, some darker; most slither off the trail, but occasionally they coil up and stand their ground, and you must go around them
- a gopher snake
- a couple dark snakes that move extremely fast
- a thin green snake
- mule deer
- rabbits or hares, squirrels, gophers, chipmunks
- dozens of horned lizards
- myriad other lizards, some of them quite exotic
- possibly, the side of a mountain lion -- it was a large tan shape that moved out of sight quickly and silently, and I could have been seeing things
- tarantulas; one had been stung by a wasp and was immobile, the other was lurking in its den 1 foot from my groundcloth waiting for insects (I fed it some)
- a dead bobcat (roadkill)
- coyotes; did not see them, but heard their wailing
- countless bird species from hummingbirds to hawks
Riled-up rattlesnake; had to go around it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gp2YDNnqitk
Rattlesnake moving off trail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovEDftFqmHg
Horned lizard. The coloring of these things varies widely.
Is this a gecko?
Probably a gopher snake.
Chickens huddling together to preserve warmth.
Homo sapiens after some successful hunting and gathering.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
- no significant weight loss over time
- no chronic hygiene-related problems
- no chronic physical ailments related to poor nutrition or hiking practices
- no chronic discomfort (physical, mental, emotional)
Potentially chronic conditions need to be recognized early on and treated early. These are things like severe blistering, inflammation of joints and ligaments, malnutrition, chronic pain, etc. As soon as you discover a recurring condition of any kind, pay attention to it and see what you can do about it while it's still in the beginning stages.
Needs arise all the time while backpacking. Most are physical -- the needs to eat, drink, defecate, urinate, cool off, clean up, get that thorn out of your sock, etc. A rule that I formulated while doing extensive solo hikes in Ukraine was this: as soon as two needs are activated, do something about it. Before that, I would frequently find myself in situations where I was hungry, thirsty, hot, dirty, and needed to defecate -- all at once. This can be overwhelming and leads to a loss of morale and coping ability. When only one need is activated, satisfaction of the need can be put off for a little while, but two leads to a worsening of the mood (at least for me). Staying happy while backpacking seems to boil down to basically satisfying one's needs on schedule.
Where trail grime comes from
Abundant desert dust sticks to any moisture it encounters. If you are sweating, dust will accumulate where there is sweat. The coarser the weave of your clothing, the more dust will collect there as well, if the clothing is moist. Dust does not tend to settle on dry objects, so, the best way to avoid grime is to be dry.
Most hikers are wearing long pants and long-sleave shirts. Many or most of these hikers already have dark swaths of grime under their shoulder straps and in other places on the clothing. The weave of this clothing is usually coarse to allow for maximum breathability, and a lot of dust settles in the fabric. Of course, these items are not washed on a regular basis, and hand washing is rarely sufficient to clean them. So, they grow dirtier and dirtier and soon stink up, especially if the fabric is synthetic. Even if you sponge yourself down at night, every morning you put the same filthy clothes back on. Only a laundromat can clean these clothes now, and so there is more reason to go into town and spend hours there, getting a hotel room for convenience.
My alternative is to avoid these problems by keeping as dry as possible by wearing fewer clothes and carrying a sun umbrella. Sometimes it is too windy for brief periods to use the umbrella, but at this point my skin is tanned enough to go without the umbrella for up to half an hour if I need to. I wear airy polyester running shorts whose weave is too tight to accumulate dust, and on top I wear a merino wool T-shirt that I take off if I start getting too sweaty. Sometimes I get a little damp on my lower back where my back touches my pack, but that's about it. When it's colder, I put a fine-weave windshirt on over the T-shirt. This way, I avoid the grime problems that are already beginning to plague many thru-hikers.
As a rule, it is much easier to wash dust off one's skin than to get the grime out of dirty clothing. My legs can be quickly cleaned at night by passing a wet sponge over the skin. My shorts don't often need cleaning and can simply be rinsed in water. Same with the windshirt. The T-shirt can use a washing about once a week. The only items that need frequent, serious washing are socks and underwear. These can be washed using the ziploc bag trick -- put some water and some soap (Dr. Bronners or shampoo) in a ziploc bag with the items and agitate them, then repeat the process in a bag of clean water with no soap for rinsing.
To wash my body with little water, what I usually do is put some water in a cup, add a few drops of Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, and wash and scrub myself with a small sponge. There is just enough soap to make me feel cleaner, but not so much that I would need to rinse myself off afterwards. Hair washing requires more soap (shampoo) and is usually done separately and not as often.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Eat while in Julian: (ideally split into 2 meals)
- loaf of whole-wheat bread
- two sticks of butter
- head of lettuce
- several tomatoes
- an apple or two
- block of cheese OR cottage cheese
Yum! Lots of fat, complex carbs, and even some vegetables. I just bite into the head of lettuce as if it were an apple. All this can be found at the 2 groceries. A quicker, but decently healthy option is:
- box of generic whol-grain bran flakes
- half-gallon of whole milk
- a few bananas
- an orange
Don't miss the nut shop!! It has tons of high-calorie, high-fat goodies:
- nuts (sweetened and plain)
- banana chips
- awesome home-style granola
- all sorts of chocolatey, nutty stuff
At the groceries you can get:
- whole-wheat bread
- cream cheese
- expensive, "crummy" calories like instant noodles, potato flakes, etc.
There are a number of places to eat out. Ask for a local's recommendation before choosing a place to eat!!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Luckily, I hardly ever get blisters or even hot spots, but I don't know why. I have been hiking in thin nylon dress socks and Inov-8 shoes. But I got a foot cramp at the end of the first day that has lasted till the present. I thought it would go away during the day at Lake Morena, but it didn't. It seemed to be walking itself off on the fourth day, but on the fifth it was back, along with some slightly sore ligaments on the top of my foot due to overcompensating for the painful area on the bottom of my foot. On the walk to Scissors Crossing, I was almost limping to avoid pain.
In my opinion, many or most of the people I've met so far are trying to do too many miles too soon (including myself). Although the trail is easy and it's easy to put in 20+ miles a day from the very beginning, the body is not yet prepared to handle the strain on feet, joints, ligaments, and muscles. Last summer on the Colorado CDT we started slower and had no foot issues. Based on what I've been seeing here on the PCT, I would say the ideal schedule for most people would be:
1st week: 10-12 miles / day
2nd week: 12-15 miles / day
3rd week: 15-18 miles / day
4th week: 18-20 miles / day
5th week: etc.
(for some people, it may be 12-15, 15-20, 20-25, etc., depending on packweight and level of fitness)
What's happening is that people are putting in 20+ mile days from the very beginning. A scarcity of water sources encourages this mileage. But just three days of this right at the beginning of the hike is enough to put many thru-hikers out of commission. Some are trying to push through to Warner Springs (mile 110) where they will crash, enjoy the hot springs and nurse themselves back to health, while others are taking breaks at Julian (mile 78) to recuperate. In my opinion, it's best to catch problems right at the onset rather than "push through." That's why I'm relaxing now for 2 days rather than potentially losing many more days than that later on due to a chronic condition. On long distance hikes, chronic ailments need to be avoided at all cost.
See this great article on medical issues and prevention on the PCT at postholer.com.
To avoid blisters, you need to have footwear that fits well and feels naturally comfortable on your foot. You need to have socks that don't slide around on your foot, but allow sliding between the sock and the shoe. You need to change socks regularly and keep them as clean as possible, and address hot spots before they become blisters, by applying moleskin or athletic tape. Airing out your feet and shoes during frequent breaks (1 per hour) is important. Heat promotes blistering. Once a blister has formed, it may need to be popped if it gets in the way.
ADDED MAY 14: Yesterday I got my first two blisters out in the Deep Creak - Lake Silverwood area. Reason? Having to hurry to a meetingplace with relatives and not taking off my socks and shoes to air out my feet often enough. I ended up having to pop two blisters and put bandaids on them. I managed to arrest a hotspot before it turned into a blister by wrapping the two in medical tape. Worked great.
No need to rush!
If you started out at the border on April 23 and want to get to Kennedy Meadows on June 8. That's 45 days for 700 miles, or roughly 15.5 miles per day. You could average 12 miles for the first 23 days and 19 for the last 22 days and get there on schedule. Why would you want to get to Kennedy Meadows much earlier than that and have to sit around waiting for snow to melt?
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
- I will need to think about post office hours in advance when planning out my next few days of hiking. Some are open just a few yours each weekday. Same with public libraries and Internet
- With my budgeting strategy, I need to plan my movements so that I can get into towns early, do my business, fill up on food, and leave later that same day.
- Major stream fords and high passes in the Sierra Nevada are most safely crossed at certain times of day, rather than whenever I happen to get to them.
- I will be meeting some friends and relatives along the way and need to have a strategy for reaching our meetingplace.
- This sheet will help me track my progress and make sure I order food on time to be delivered to trailside towns.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
His daily diet consists of two Balance Bars and a Clif Bar for breakfast; a snack every two hours for the next 12 hours, alternating between Snack A, a Balance Bar and a candy bar, and Snack B, exactly three ounces of Pringles and three ounces of mixed nuts; and a dinner of instant mashed potatoes rolled up in a tortilla followed by three ounces of Hershey's Dark Chocolate. The rationale? It's light and easily packable. To offset the caloric deficit he builds up in the wilds, he gorges on eggs, bacon, cookies, and peanuts whenever he reaches a town, usually every few days.
- Eats energy bars during the day and has one easy-cook meal in the evening, cooked on an alcohol stove.
- The best energy bars are high in calories, favor complex carbohydrates over sugars, contain adequate fat and protein, and are fortified with vitamins and minerals.
- "Breakfast and snack bars [i.e. not energy bars designed for sports performance] can be another healthy staple in a backpacker's diet. I say "can be" because it entirely depends on the bar. Many contain over-processed granola and sugars; and they offer few vitamins/minerals and little fiber. Instead, look for bars with whole grains, nuts and berries, and good sugars (e.g. honey, not corn syrup). Particularly avoid Pop-Tarts and Milk 'N' Cereal bars, which set you up to crash-and-burn."
- Candy bars "are heavy in fat, which helps to mitigate the crash-and-burn effect of their simple sugars; and some contain a fair amount of protein, particularly those that contain peanuts or peanut butter. All candy bars are not well suited to the backcountry: some are thin (and break too easily) or awkwardly sized; others cannot be eaten on-the-go; and some come with cardboard sleeves that create more trash for you to carry. My favorites are Fast Break's, Kit-Kat's (but only the Big Kat bar), Nutrageous,' Baby Ruth's, Pay Day's, and Snickers'. I avoid thin chocolate bars (like Hershey's chocolate, Krackel's and Kat Kit wafers), bars with cardboard sleeves (like Mounds and Take5's), and chocolate candies (M&M's and Whoopers)."
- Hot dinners include: "angel hair pasta, coos-coos, dehydrated and freeze-dried meals, and instant mashed potato burritos. These meals strike a good balance between simplicity and sustenance."
- Eats about every 2-2.5 hours during the day, starting with a breakfast of about 600 calories. Each snack is 300-500 calories.
- Daily caloric intake is roughly 4000 calories a day, which maintains energy, but is not enough to maintain body weight. So he binges in town.
- To maintain vitamin and mineral levels, "make energy bars (almost all of which are fortified) a regular part of your diet; eat dried fruits and legumes if you are willing to accept their inconveniences; and take a multivitamin, which can't hurt, though they might not help much either, as most studies have shown only marginal benefits. In trail towns, stock up on fresh fruit and produce, ideally before you hit up the local burger joint and lose your appetite."
- Says that the cost of "fattening up" before a hike usually outweighs the gains.
- Apparently recommends getting about 35% of one's calories from fat. This is consistent with other sources, which recommend 35-40%.
- Recommends aiming for 125 calories per ounce of food (440 per 100 grams); other, somewhat more "liberal" sources recommend aiming for 100 (350 per 100 grams)
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Most of the time on the PCT I'll be hiking in shorts. I have black (unfortunately) polyester running shorts (unfortunately, black) with pockets on the sides. They dry extremely quickly and rarely need more than a few rinses and squeezes to get them "clean."
To hold the netting above my face, I use a thin rope with a line tensioner. The hammock used is the inexpensive Grand Trunk Ultralight Hammock. It weighs about 400 grams, including the tree-hugging ropes. Materials for the bug net were ordered from thru-hiker.com.
Monday, March 9, 2009
- refried beans
Sunday, March 8, 2009
"What my hike means to me" is probably something I'll think about nearly every day on the trail and frequently discuss with other thru-hikers. People will compare motivations and personal values and try to clarify their own views of their hike after hearing others'. Inevitably, one will be influenced in subtle ways by other hikers in the community. Some influences will seem positive, some negative. By formulating some of my thoughts beforehand, I'll have something to come back to later on and compare my expectations with the reality of my experience.
I'm 31 and have settled into a certain lifestyle, personal values, and worldview that I'm very comfortable with. My hike is not about "coming of age." It's not an epic journey, a momentous challenge, or a search for self. I'm not at a major crossroads in life, because it's normal for me to pretty much always be at a crossroads.
I don't expect to look back upon my thru-hike as being a singular event in my life, but rather as one adventure of many. I would like to integrate these adventures into my life to the point that the adventure never leaves. I want to always be looking forward to and preparing for something exciting and challenging.
I think a major goal for my hike is to achieve sustainability within the context of a major adventure. In other words, to be able to maintain a certain lifestyle with limited ill effects for an indefinite period of time. That means learning to maintain a healthy body and state of consciousness for a long period of time as I'm doing my hike. I will try to avoid sacrificing well-being for more than very short periods -- for instance, letting hygiene and nutrition slide, overstraining my body, and not getting enough rest. I don't want to view my hike as a one-time adventure where I can put important things temporarily on hold as I sprint to the finish line. I want to finish the hike in good shape and good spirits.
Part of sustainability for me is remaining mentally active and productive. If I don't, I'll crave mental activity that I can only get "in civilization." If I could take along a lightweight, solar-powered laptop, that would be ideal. I can simply practice writing by hand on whatever topics come to my mind, and do some writing or typing in town. I would like to be thinking seriously about some topics during my hike -- topics related to lifestyle, philosophy, and the natural world. I would like to integrate my adventures into my work rather than having them be a break from work.
I also want to get to know the thru-hiking community and make new friends while still "hiking my own hike" -- keeping my own pace and pursuing my own goals. Almost everyone else is going to be stopping in towns and spending money, and I think I can avoid that without feeling bad about it. In fact, being forced to do my own thing will be a positive factor, I'm sure. I feel best when I am close enough to people to form connections, while not being tied up in a group.
I also want to use this opportunity to learn about the nature of the American West -- the ecosystems and landscapes that I pass through. I'll be taking lots of pictures and probably making some videos along the way to share with other people. I'm excited to be surrounded by nature (again), and I want to be learning about it as well as basking in it.
As I hike this long distance, I want to hone my backpacking skills and learn how best to deal with the challenges I encounter. For instance, I'd like to consistently roll out of bed early and quickly and rest more during the heat of the day. I'd like to learn to deal effectively with all the challenges of hiking on the PCT. I'll be thinking about my gear and what best works for which conditions.
Since any random accident or combination of events can put one off the trail, I don't want to be too emotionally attached to the idea of finishing the hike. Only 50% who start actually finish the PCT. A month on the Colorado CDT made me aware of my potential weak spots when hiking for weeks on end: bruised feet and malnutrition. The second I think I can do much better at this time, but I still don't know how to avoid bruised feet except by trying shoes with a bit more cushioning. And I don't know if that will help. On the CDT, the bottoms of my feet began feeling bruised after about 200 miles and fully recovered only after a couple of weeks off the trail.
If I get to the border early and still have plenty of time left, I'm not averse to the idea of turning around and hiking back through Washington, hiking a section of the Northwest Trail, or taking the Amtrak to Glacier National Park and hiking south along the wild and scenic CDT as far as I have time to go. If I could see Olympic National Park, the Montana Rockies, or Yellowstone and the Wind Rivers in the same trip, that would only add to my experience.
Some of these wishes may well turn out to be naive. We'll see how it all pans out in the end!
Thursday, March 5, 2009
- no trekking poles
- no-cook food; organic diet
- mails food to himself; eats out in towns
I have found out that hiking someone else’s pace, which is significantly different from my normal pace, actually tires me out more than if I were doing my normal pace. Recently, when Michelle sat out for a few days to rest her feet, I opened up to 40-mile days and was shocked to find myself feeling much better than I did hiking 25 miles in the same 12-14 hour period. This makes me think that the amount of time spent on the feet plays almost as much of a role in fatigue as does the number of miles done.
He ate about 2.5 pounds of food per day and resupplied with caches every 3-4 days on average. During some stretches he carried up to eight days of food and water, and his pack totaled 35-40 pounds. He didn't bring a stove. Dinner consisted of dehydrated refried beans soaked for three hours while hiking along the trail, topped with tortilla chips and olive oil. For breakfast, he had a protein shake. And for lunch, he snacked on dried fruit, nuts and organic raspberry fig bars. After leaving towns, he'd supplement his diet with fresh fruit. "To me, a good diet on the trail is very important. I focus a lot on organic or more natural food. Other people are able to do the PCT on Top Ramen and Snickers bars. I avoid sugar on the trail because sugar highs and crashes affect my hiking rhythms. But in towns I pigged out on junk food and ate whatever I wanted: candy bars, pastries, burgers."
He doesn't pack a stove, but instead eats a mostly organic diet of protein shakes, dried fruits, crackers and refried beans. He augmented his diet by foraging for tidbits like miner's lettuce, wild onions and various berries along the way. His typical dinner was to mix dehydrated refried beans with water in a plastic container and add crumbled organic corn chips and olive oil. He ate two to three pounds of food each day, stopping in towns occasionally to “pig out” on junk food and salad bars.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Good article! It raises once again the tricky topic of food and resupply. Eating junk food may require you to consume more calories, the author thinks. A couple links to more bulk food stores are included.
Proper nutrition is essential. Poor nurtition will make you miserable. It will slow you down, and it will give you irrational, irresistible urges to spend lots of money at restaurants.When I thru-hiked the AT in 2006 I bought food along the way. I ate around 7,000 calories a day, hiked far fewer miles than I did on 5,000 calories a day on the PCT, and had a never-ending appetite 24/7.I'm certainly not qualified to give nutritional advice, but pay attention to what you eat! If you read information from past thru-hikers you can end up with some terrible advice. Thru-hiking on pop tarts, peanut butter, bagels, and mac'n' cheese is very common. Most thru-hikers on such a diet struggle to do short mileages, are constantly hungry, and get worn down and depressed towards the end of their hikes. And they wonder why!I recommend maildrops. That is to say, you will mail yourself packages of food to post offices (care of general delivery) and businesses that are near the trail. They are cheaper, more reliable, quicker, and they provide better nutrition when compared to buy as you go. The best way to mail yourself food is to use priority flat rate boxes. You can usually fit around 4 days of food in one of these, and you can send any reasonable amount of weight to anywhere in the US for $9. The post office will send you the boxes, tape, and labels for free if you are using priority mail. Let's assume that we have 40 total packages, an average of a package for every three days for 120 days. I try to send mail drops every 3-5 days, and the 5 day packages usually take up 2 boxes. So we spend $360 (rounded up to $400) on postage.Here is a sample of my 2007 food. I ate the same thing every day on both my 850 mile AT training hike and my 2,700 mile PCT thru-hike. A typical day for me for the bulk of my PCT hike was 37-42 miles, and I weighed around 170 during that period. I spent around $11/day on food. Plan food according to mileage and your weight. $1000 should be plenty for an AT thru-hike.
- 400 grams dehydrated stuff = 1400 calories + 70 grams olive oil = 600 calories
- 600 grams high-energy snack food = 3000 calories
Monday, March 2, 2009
- olive oil (poured into 16 oz bottles or smaller)
- Nature Valley "Sweet & Salty Nut" bars
- whole grain poptarts
- Nut Goodies
- king-size Snickers
Saturday, February 21, 2009
When is it safe to enter the Sierra? This really depends on the year and how much experience you have on snow and in the mountains. The most generally accepted date to leave Kennedy Meadows is on June 15. I left on June 10 and did fine, although the snow was excessive at times. After leaving Crab Tree meadows, the jumping off point for climbing Mount Whitney, the PCT through the Sierras is a a sequence of passes, separated by valleys. Usually, snow would obscure the trail for the last 2-5 miles before the pass and for 2-5 miles after the pass. Sometimes the snow was nothing more than an annoyance for route finding. Othertimes, there was snow hidden in gullies and in cols that made traverses dangerous or difficult. In the morning the snow would be hard, but usually manageable, except before 9 or so. In the afternoon (around 2 or 3), the snow would be soft enough that postholing (when each step drops you to your knee or worse in the snow) became common.
I sense that I won't truly understand the conditions and how to approach them the safest way possible until I'm actually at the kick-off day (ADZPCTKO) and can talk to former thru-hikers in person.
I'm guessing that the problem with snow before 9 am is that it's icy. I don't see why my Kahtoola microspike traction devices wouldn't help with that. I've walked with them on frozen solid icy trails before, and they provide superb traction, biting into the ice with a loud crackling sound. It seems like it would be a wise idea to use those and get in more hours of morning hiking than to submit myself to hours of postholing in the afternoon.
I am also concerned by stream crossings, which are best attempted early in the morning when flow is lowest. But if there are too many streams to cross, I suppose I will inevitably end up having to do afternoon crossings every once in a while.
Finally, I'm a bit scared at the thought of having to go straight up steep snowy passes like Forrester Pass, and doing any other potentially dangerous things. These fears are normal for PCT thru-hikers, I'm sure.
Since I'm beginning on April 24 and foresee keeping a pretty good pace, even in the early sections (maybe 20 mile/day on average), I could end up at Kennedy Meadows as soon as June 1st. I might try to slow myself down and delay my Sierra crossing by deliberately spending more time in towns in the public libraries, or spending more time hiking along the PCT with relatives and friends (I grew up in Southern California). Maybe someone would take me down into Orange County for old times' sake (never been back since age 21 - 10 years ago). Or, I could just get to Kennedy Meadows as soon as possible and hang out in the southern Sierras or Lone Pine area until the snow mostly melts.
- They are very tough. You won't have a shredded box to pamper after the third mailing.
- You don't need any tape to seal them up. The lids snap shut and stay on tightly.
- They have a wire handle, which make them easy to carry through town.
- You can sit on them outside of the PO.
- They are very waterproof.
- They protect their contents.
- They are very big. You can put a lot of stuff in them.
That's a great idea that I plan to try out.
Friday, February 20, 2009
- Drink from the best water sources possible: snowmelt trickles/streams, springs, and small streams coming out of ungrazed areas. Get water from larger streams when necessary.
- Treat only water that is not flowing rapidly or water from areas that might have been grazed (i.e. has been exposed to cow dung). I will use Aquamira tablets and drops.