Thursday, April 16, 2009

Must-Have Items and Where to Get Them

Two items PCT hikers may not be able to live without:

1. Sunglasses

Even though I'll be carrying an umbrella to shield myself from the sun, snowblindness is a real risk in the High Sierra, as the sun reflects off the snow and reaches me from below. A similar reflection effect can happen in desert areas where there is uncovered, light-colored ground. Furthermore, there is a lot of dust on the PCT, and sunglasses may be just as needed for protection from dust as from sun.

I have a history of sunglasses cracking and breaking on me. Rather than spend $60 on another pair of Polaroids, I decided to get the cheapest I could find that fit well. I found a nice pair for $6 a the Dollar Store that covers my eyes well. 

2. Poison oak ointment

Poison oak is supposedly most prevalent on the PCT in southern California and from Sierra City to the Oregon border. Almost every hiker has to deal with it at some point. The consensus is that nothing works as well as Zanfel -- an expensive product that comes in small tubes and is rubbed on the skin to releave itching in under a minute. 

Here are the prices for Zanfel in central Michigan:

K-mart: $30
Walmart: $36
Rite-aid: $40

They say there is a generic equivalent for under $10 that works just as well, but I am not sure what it is or where to get it. I expect to hold off getting Zanfel till I am on the trail. 

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