My cousin C is pretty much amazing—he is walking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) this summer. For those who don’t know, the PCT starts (if you’re doing the typical northbound route) at the Mexico/California border, goes through Cali, Oregon, and Washington state, up to Canada! It’s over 2,600 miles long.
C began in early May, and expects to finish in 5-6 months. In 2017, we supported his effort to walk the entire Appalachian Trail (AT), also known as a through-hike.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to walk much of the trail with him (just the first mile, LOL), because when we visited him the first time, in Hot Springs, NC, of course it rained cats & dogs.
And when we visited a second time, in VA, he was injured and taking a zero day (zero day = rest day, as you log zero miles that day).
As I looked at my work/vacation calendar for this year, I realized I have enough time, and enough money saved, that I could actually go backpacking with him for a few days on the PCT!
My brother was a “go” as well, so we planned for an August rendezvous in Oregon. Since we don’t know exactly where cousin will be, we will rent a car and drive to him, wherever he happens to be on the trail when we arrive.
The latest post was of the Sierra’s:
Thus begins my countdown to the next adventure… I will share my gear selections, physical preparations, and logistics. And of course, daily logs of how it actually went! I’m hoping this is the first of many such backpacking adventures. I realized that the Army sort of soured backpacking/camping for me (OK, TBH, the Army ruined it for me for the past decade, LOL!), but in the civilian world, you can bring whatever food and gear you want, so I’m hoping this will be waaaaaay more enjoyable than the Army “camping/backpacking” I’ve done in the forests of New York and the deserts of Iraq.
More importantly, I am really pumped to have the chance to share in part of my cousin’s 2,600+ mile journey, see a new state (Oregon—or rather two, when we add in Washington, right across the river from Portland, where we’re flying in to), and experience nature and beautiful surroundings firsthand, as we will walk an estimated 30-50 miles of trail, and spend 3 nights in the great outdoors.
Practicing for the PCT with Luna:
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More prep for the #PCT this morning. 90 min hike with Luna, carrying about 90% of my gear with me (didn’t have my camera, or all the food/clothing I’m bringing). Felt good and enjoyed the sounds of nature chirping and babbling 🌲🐾🐿🌿🍄🌸🐛 Luna had the most fun though, just frolicking through the woods and creek 🐶 . #hike #hiking #backpacking #nature #neverstopexploring #weim #weimaraner #momlife #mountainstoseatrail #MTStrail #northcarolina #sunrise #preparationiskey #getoutside #mylifeoutdoors #gofarfeelgood #zerolimits #oisellevolée #oiselleteamnc #nuunlife
Some of my concerns, and what I’m doing to address each one:
- Weather—we don’t exactly know if it will be hot, cold, or both while we’re there. Depends on whether we’re at high altitudes in the mountains, or not so much. I will be planning for both, bringing an extra T-shirt and shorts, plus a cold weather base layer, my hiking jacket (light yet warm), and my raincoat (also light). I’ll probably toss in some light gloves and a beanie hat, just to be safe. As I tell my children: Better to have and not need it, than need and not have it!
- Bugs—I tend to get eaten alive by mosquitos, so I bought both clothing bug spray (Sawyer Permethrin Pump Spray) and apply-to-skin type (Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellant), both from REI. Hopefully they work! The pump spray can also be applied to gear, so I plan on spraying my tent, backpack, and hat, plus all my clothes.
- Wildlife—not really scared of many things, but snakes and bears, especially at night time, might give me a fright (as Grandpa would say). Gonna rely on my bro and cousin here. Gulp.
- Weight of backpack—I don’t have all my gear yet (borrowing a lot from Dad! See next item, Cost!), so I don’t know how much this will all weigh. I have a goal of 30 pounds or less. No clue if I’ll be able to hit that goal. C told us to plan to carry 5 liters of water at a time, which is 11 lbs, so that will take up a big chunk of my weight.
- Cost—I haven’t kept track of every dollar too closely, but I’ve already purchased:
- Smartwool socks and shirts
- Backpack, sleeping bag, and hat from North Face
- Random stuff from REI (pants, bug spray, food, survival blanket, medical kit, whistle) and Amazon (spork! Tarp. Portable charger.)
- Camera clip from Peak Design.
- I figure I’m already over $400, hence why I’m borrowing the tent, sleeping mat, and pillow from my dad. I would’ve borrowed even more, but I wanted to have my own stuff for future trips. Yes, I’m already planning future trips 🙂
- Plane ticket to Portland was $600, so I’m looking at a semi-cheap vacay—a little over $1,500 when I factor in rental car, gas, and hotel for the first and last nights—so guess it depends on your definition of cheap.
- Dehydration—I will bring my CamelBak bladder (2.5 liters), Naked collapsible/soft bottle (0.5 liters), and 2 one-liter bottles that I will buy at the airport, for a total of 5 liters. I will also have a tube of Nuun electrolytes (or two!)
- Hunger–Not entirely sure how much food to bring, so I’m winging this one a bit. I definitely don’t want to go hungry or feel like I’m rationing my food, so I will bring extra and whatever is leftover, give it to C when we’re done. I have some Backpacker’s Pantry meals from REI for dinners, and planning on oatmeal + instant coffee for breakfast. Peanut butter. Lots and lots of PB. Picky Bars. And Nutella!!
- Forgetting something—with about 40 items on my packing list (and that’s lumping “Food” into 1 item), I am a tad worried that I will forget something important. Obviously clothing, food, water, shelter are the most important things, but I am also lugging along my camera gear, because I figure I might see some once-in-a-lifetime sights (mountains! Lakes! Sunrises and sunsets!) I am trying to be very methodical in my planning, not go overboard in buying extras, and stick to the list. These are the things I’m NOT planning on bringing and why:
- Stove–My bro is bringing his, so no need to duplicate this item since we’re sticking together
- Trekking poles–I’ve never used these, and while I might wish for them once I’m there, I think I can live without them. We’ll find out if I’m right!
- Bear canister–only required in the Sierra region, hoping to sling my food up in a tree with my bro’s stash!
Have you ever done a long distance hike and/or backpacking trip?? What are your tips? What am I missing?