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[pct-l] Hello

Hi. This is my first post to this list, although I've been keeping track of
it for about three weeks now. Lots of great information so far. My name is
Greg "The Weathercarrot" and I've spent much of the past seven years on the
AT, either walking on it, working on it, or living in towns along it. It's
been wonderful getting to intimately know both the trail world (all aspects
of it) and the general region that it traverses. I'm now ready to return to
what attracted me to it for the first thru-hike (besides the lifestyle) - an
adventurous exploration of brand new territory, and I've never been west of
the Rockies. So, I'm also planning a '98 thru-hike and it's going fairly
well. I was originally intending to do it in '95 and did all the research
for it prior to that. What I'm concentrating on now is getting together the
additional gear I'll need (made a very expensive stop at Campmor yesterday,
found the perfect ice axe on sale two days before that), plus sorting out a
bunch of miscellaneous details, which is what I wanted to ask you all about. 

As far as footwear, I've decided to go with the very light weight boots
option instead of sneakers since I'm not confident my pack will be light
enough for the latter. Talking to former thru-hikers I've heard a lot of
conflicting things in the whole boots versus sneakers issue. It seems to be
a very individual thing and/or directly related to pack weight. I just got a
40 dollar pair of Merrells (Monte Verde) and I'll try them out on the AT in
March. Do any of you with PCT experience have any recommendations for
lightweight boots in general in the 35 to 70 dollar price range, or any
opinions on those particular Merrells? This is probably asking for too much,
but it would be nice to do the whole trail in three pairs, which would mean
roughly 900 miles a pair. On the other hand, they're cheap enough that I
could always get more beyond those. 

For sun protection I think I'll go with a hat instead of an umbrella
(although I AM aware of it's benefits, so maybe I'll try it at some point).
The hat is lighter and easier to pack, and would be less likely to be
dangerously in the way if I were in a bad position. Any ideas for hats? I've
been told many times that a straw hat works well, and also that it's a bit
too fragile to be easily packed away, that it shouldn't get wet, and that it
wouldn't take much wind to blow it away. Any other options (besides
expensive kinds like the Outdoor Research ones)? 

For resupply I'm going to buy along the way (cheaper than sending food from
the east coast) but I'll send food ahead to towns with poorer grocery
selections, which also means buying all the Oregon food in Ashland and
perhaps much of Washington from Cascade Locks. I've been trying to figure
out which towns (especially in California) I'll need to mail food to, which
I can buy in, and which I can by-pass entirely. There's been a lot of good
stuff on that subject already since I started reading the PCT list, but if
several of you could actually list the towns in those three categories (buy,
send or skip) it would help many people in the planning stages, especially
if there's a variety of perspectives. Having read about the store in Seiad
Valley the other day, I was also wondering what other places along the trail
would work well for mail drops as an alternative to post offices. The fewer
PO's, the less I need to worry about getting into town on Saturday
afternoons or Sundays.  In the section between Kennedy Meadows and Tuolumne,
there seems to be several options as far as what to do logistically
(including resupply and from what directions to approach/depart Whitney).
Craig Giffen and others have already described what they did, but the more
points of view the better.

On the AT I have very rarely treated my water (with no ill affects) but
getting away with it on the PCT looks like it'll be a bit more of a gamble,
especially in southern California (cattle, etc.).  The thought of bringing a
filter (or any other method for that matter) really makes me cringe. I very
much dislike the process in general, but perhaps here I won't have much
choice, atleast for part of the trail. So, I'm looking at getting the most
basic, convenient filter that I can find, even if it only officially filters
giardia and nothing else. Any thoughts, suggestions? What parts of the trail
specifically is it MOST important to treat the water? I'd like to minimize
it as much as possible.

Here are some thoughts on the walking sticks thread.  In 7000 miles I've
split that time almost equally between the two methods (two poles and none)
and after the very beginning I stopped hiking with just one. Both ways have
several pros and cons. I loved the two stick method because it put me in a
pleasantly fluid rhythm, whether it was up, down or on flats. I used them
differently in each of those conditions. They help the upper body strength
when you wouldn't otherwise be using it much, it really takes pressure off
the knees going down hill, they actually make the ups more fun, and they're
essential for stream fording. But they're a real pain if you need all four
of your limbs to scramble up steep boulders, ledges, or the like. It's not
fun to have to throw them ahead all the time, always threatening to slip
away forever down some darkened crevasse. This is not a problem with
collapsible poles that can be strapped on (which I never had), plus those
kinds of situations are less of an issue on the PCT anyway. 

In a relatively short time period, both of my sticks broke, I never got
around to replacing them, and I've been going without any ever since which
is what I'm now used to. You DO walk differently with each method. Switching
from two to none you can really feel how integral a role they were in your
over-all balance, while the latter puts everything into two limbs rather
than four. Things like leaping from rock to rock require a very different
mind set between none and two. I'll probably do the PCT with none because
that's what I prefer now, but I still think two is a great idea. Experiment
with it a bit.

That's about it for now. A BIG hello to Troubador, Annie and the Salesman,
and anybody else out there I know who is reading this. 

Take care,

Greg "The Weathercarrot" GA-ME '91, etc. etc.

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