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[pct-l] shoes, H2O filter, umbrella, tyvek

Some (unsolicited) Advice for '98 Thru-Hikers:

My brother and I both used running shoes on the JMT portion of our '97 
thru-hike and didn't have any problems with rocks, snow or ice.  We even 
climbed Mt. Whitney in the morning (read: icy) with them!  It's important to 
have an ice axe though.  When the snow is slick in the morning and you're 
attempting a pass or a steep section, you really need something to chop 
steps with.  Of course, you could wait around for the snow to soften up 
(but who has time for that?).  There were people on the trail who had 
burly boots and no ice axe who didn't make it over a couple passes and 
 people with running shoes and ice axes that did!

We used our ice axes from Kennedy Meadows to Lake Tahoe.  Probably could 
have used them from KM to Yosemity.I had a lightweight axe called the
 Cassin Dragonfly that only weighed 12 ounces.  I suggest getting the lightest
 weight axe possible since it will spend a majority of it's time on your back!

The best place to buy running shoes is at a cheap athletic store like 
Big 5.  Try not to pay more than $50 for them cause you should change 
every 500 miles or so to eliminate foot pain (probably a thru-hikers #1 
worry).  That means 5 pairs of shoes.  My favorite brand were Asics.  Just 
get something that fits well, and don't worry about getting the latest and
 greatest (such as those new $125 trail running Nike's).  Also remember that
 your foot will probably get longer.  I went from wearing size 11 to wearing
 size 12 1/2 to 13.  

A pair of lightweight flip flops might be handy for camp shoes.  Much 
lighter than Teva-type sandals.  I just used my running shoes to 
eliminate weight.  A pair of aqua sox might be handy in the Sierras for 
crossing creeks (that look more like rivers sometimes!).  These are 
lighter than Teva's and would be a decent alternative to wearing your 
shoes in the creeks like I did.

We also took small (low) OR gaitors to go over the tops for snow. 
This worked okay, but if the snow was deep it went in the tops.
I would suggest making your own gaitors that are midway between the low and
high choices.  You don't need something bombproof, just enough to keep the
snow out of your shoes.  If your shoes get wet though, gaitors don't really
matter.  And believe me, our shoes got wet!

Speaking of wet feet, my heels got cracked after the High Sierra from being 
wet for 2 weeks and then drying out.  VERY PAINFUL!  The solution was to 
slather on SUPER GLUE over the cracks so that the skin would heal from 
underneath without the cracks being constantly pulled apart.  This was 
recommended by a doctor, and I heartily endorse it even though it sounds 
a little weird.  The glue came off after two weeks or so.  You might 
want to put a tube in your drift box or carry it in your first aid kit.  The
small tubes weigh next to nothing.

If you choose to use running shoes (which I recommend!), a pair of short 
nylon gaitors might be nice to keep out dirt/rocks in California.  The So. 
CA trail is constantly trying to get into your shoes!  This should also  
keep your socks a heck of a lot cleaner.  The short Outdoor Research gaitors 
weigh too much (4 ounces) however, so I'd make mine out of lightweight 
uncoated nylon with elastic at the top.  I'm guessing this would 
weigh about an ounce a pair.  

I also used lightweight uncoated nylon mittens in the buggy areas 
(Yosemite, Oregon) and these worked great when you had to cover up but 
you didn't want to get too hot.  Weight is under an ounce and I used a 
pair of OR mittens for a template.  Also, I strongly suggest bringing a 
mosquito headnet for the Yosemite and Oregon sections of the trail.  
People have been known to go insane...

We used the PUR Hiker on the whole hike and never had any problems with 
it.  I have heard of hikers having problems with both the MSR and 
Sweetwater filters.  The only thing was we went through 5 filters!  These 
are free after the first one though since PUR has a one-year warranty on 
their filters. This could save you a lot of money at $25 a pop.  

If I did my hike over again I would have used a tarp for California and 
Oregon and a lightweight (4 pounds) tent for Washington cause of the 
constant rain.  Only had probably five days with precipitation of some 
sort in California and Washington.  95% of the time you just want to camp 
out under the stars anyways!

Speaking of tarps, has anyone made one out of TYVEK.  This is a hot topic 
on the AT mailing list, but I haven't seen it mentioned here.  It's a 
lightweight material used in the building industry that is wind and 
waterproof.  Supposedly a 8x8 tarp weighs only one pound!  It definitely 
sounds worth checking out.  Ask around at a hardware/building store about 
it.  Also, my brother is a doctor and he gets Tyvek booties from the 
hospital.  I'm pretty sure that these are a different weight (that is 
lighter) than the building variety, but they are windproof and 
waterproof.  My brother has been wearing them over his shoes this winter 
while out in the snow and they work great!  They also make jackets out 
of this stuff.  This material is extremely lightweight and should be available
for both shelters and clothes.  Sounds like a great lightweight alternative 
to coated nylon.  

I would suggest planning on going from Kennedy Meadows to Vermillion 
Valley without stopping if you can fit 10 days of food into your pack.  
This segment is the best section of trail on the whole PCT and I think it 
would be really cool to do it without having to go into town.  This is 
REAL wilderness, especially if you are doing it in June and there's 
hardly anyone else up there.  I think going into town takes something out 
of this section.  If you want civilization, stick to the roads.  I must 
admit that I went into Independence and had a good time, but this was 
only cause we didn't have enough food to make it to VVR.  You get SERIOUS 
appetites hiking through the High Sierra's.  If you don't think you have 
enough food to make it their, stash the rest of your food at the 
Kearsarge Trail junction and go down to Independence to get a couple days 
supply of food.

Another idea is to plan your schedule to only do 12 miles a day from KM 
to VVR.  This section is so awesome, you really don't want to blow 
through there.  If I did it again and I had the time built into my 
schedule, I definitely would have gone this route.  There is time to go 
fast on the trail, like N. California and Oregon, and times to go SLOW, 
like the High Sierra's.

We used the Whisperlite International and had no problems with it.  Don't 
worry about fuel if you are using white gas.  We never had a problem and 
never had to use unleaded.

That's all for now.  Wish I was going with you guys!  Hi Birdman!

Jeremy Rice
(Ricebrothers '97) 
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