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[pct-l] Re: PCT Planning (fwd)

There's some great information below!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 19:30:42 -0700 (PDT)
From: gis_9@cwu.EDU
To: "J. Thoreson" <jthoreso@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: PCT Planning

Hey John,

	Yep, that was me and my brother.  We first met Bud in the San 
Diego airport the day before we started the hike and hiked with him on 
and off for much of southern CA.  Great guy.

	As far as training, I think the best way to toughen your ankles 
is to just get out on the trail.  Walking or running on flat surfaces 
such as pavement or smooth trail will not stress your ankles enough.  
Also, I think for me at least, the PCT didn't stress my ankles until the 
High Sierra's and that gives you 700 miles to toughen your ankles up.

	The key to not hurting your feet and ankles is to go LIGHT!  I 
think this will help more than any training.  If I gave ONE piece of 
information after completing my thru-hike it is to go as lightweight as 
humanly possible.  If you want to know what my brother and I eventually 
carried, I can give you a list.  I'm more than willing to give any advice 
you need.  I know that when I was planning for the hike, I didn't really 
have a clue since I had never desert hiked or gone backpacking for more 
than one week.

	Speaking of that, make sure that you know that the PCT is a HIKING trip,
not a backpacking trip.  You are going to be hiking all day for 4-5 
months.  Therefore, it is important that you only take hiking equipment 
with you, not backpacking equipment.  Unless you have done a hike of over 
a month, this trip will be very different than a weekend or week long hike.

	Also, if you look closely at the guidebook for the beginning of 
the trip you will notice that you will probably have to hike 20 or more 
miles a day from the start.  Last year there wasn't any water until Lake 
Morena State Park, which is mile 20.  If I were you I'd plan on at least 
20 mile days at the beginning just because of the water situation.

	Here are some hints on desert hiking, since that is what you are 
going to be doing for the first couple weeks.  Get up at 5 am every 
morning.  I liked to some miles (3-5) before having breakfast.  This 
allows time for the sun to come up and the day to get warmer.  I had some 
sort of bar (or 2 or 3, depending on my hunger) while getting underway.  
This also saved time in packing up.  In thru-hiking, time = hiking miles, 
therefore, the more time you save doing chores like setting up camp, 
cooking meals, and breaking down camp, the more miles you can hike.  
Remember, if you are in good shape and you have a LIGHTWEIGHT system, 
more miles doesn't mean being more tired.  It just means getting to the 
next food supply faster and having to carry less food, thereby decreasing 
the weight of your pack even more.

	Back to desert hiking.  Get up right before dawn.  Munch a couple 
bars.  Oh yeah, it will probably take a week for your appetite to kick in 
cause your body will be using up your extra fat and you won't be used to 
the heat.  For me and my brother it kicked in about two days before Idyllwild
 and we basically got into town on fumes.  Make sure you have enough food 
for that stretch even if you don't feel too hungry.  I swear we started 
eating twice as much!  If you are hiking high mileages, you really need 
to pack in the calories.  Do you have a food dehydrator?

	Speaking of Idyllwild, it's a great place to have your first 
layover day.  There's a great restaurant there called the Red Kettle.  
Cheap breakfasts, especially the pancakes.  There is a campground in town 
or you might go in with some other hikers for a rental house or motel.  
Ask around.  We stayed in a house with 4 other hikers for $25 a person.  
The campground option is much cheaper though.

	Back to the desert.  Get up early, have bars, eat breakfast after 
5 miles.  We originally thought that we were going to have hot oatmeal 
the whole trip.  Don't make this mistake!  We found that it took too long 
to cook after getting the stove out, boiling water, eating, cleaning up, 
and repacking.  Instead, we found that we loved granola or other cereals 
with powdered milk and cold water.  For variety, we mixed different 
cereals like granola, muesli, cheerios, raisin bran, etc.  We also added 
raisins and brown sugar.  Lots of people were actually eating the instant 
hot oatmeal cold, but I think granola is much tastier and has a much 
better texture.  Maybe you could buy it in bulk and add the milk, sugar, 
and raisins beforehand.  I would suggest packaging the 
breakfasts individually or doubly (which you would then cut in half) in order
 to simplify trail life.  Try expirementing with different cereals.  
Variety is the spice of life.  If you keep your plastic bowl, lexan 
spoon, and bag of cereal at the top of your pack when you pack up in the 
morning, your breakfast break will coincide with your first rest break 
and should only take a half-hour.  With cold cereal, clean-up is a snap.  
Just rinse with a little water.  I must admit that this system took half 
the trip to develop, but we started doing more miles as soon as we 
figured it out.  Instead of getting up early and wasting an hour plus to 
break camp, cook breakfast and eat (while it was COLD in the desert 
mornings), we broke camp in ten minutes and had breakfast in half an 
hour.  Not only did we save 20 minutes, but you don't need an hour rest 
break after sleeping for 8-9!  Instead, use your first rest break to have 
breakfast.  Whenever you can kill two birds with one stone, you will 
start adding on miles to your day!

	This plan also keeps you on the move in the early morning hours 
when it can get down right cold.  This also eliminates the need for 
really warm clothes that you would only wear for less than an hour a 
day!  I had a lightweight fleece (12 ounces), lightweight jacket (18 
ounces), and fleece hat and gloves which kept me sufficiently warm in the 
morning hours.  

	My brother and I both started out carrying umbrellas from the 
border.  However, we found that we couldn't use them very effectively 
because the brush is six feet high and crowding the trail.  They didn't 
seem that practical.  I was already carrying a wide-brimmed hat, so why 
carry the extra weight.  We mailed them home in Mt. Laguna.  There 
were places where I wish we had them, but that was only 10-20% of the 
time.  I think carrying one in Washington would be good though, for the 
rain.  It rained on us for about half the time we were in Washington.

	I wore a white, long-sleeve shirt and lightweight nylon pants at 
the beginning of the hike because I hate to have to slather on a bunch of 
sunscreen.  I'm from Seattle, so I hadn't seen the sun all winter.  After 
a week or two of trading off between a long and short sleeve shirt and 
shorts, my body adapted to the sun.  But I tan easily, so that might not 
work for most people.  The mistake I made was to bring a lightweight long 
sleeve Capilene shirt in addition to my polyester long sleeve.  Too many 
shirts!  If I did it again I might just have the short sleeve shirt, pants, 
shorts, fleece, jacket, fleece hat and gloves, wide-brimmed hat, and 
bandanna.  The bandanna I stuck underneath my hat to cover my neck.  I 
learned that from mountaineering and it works great.  The wide-brimmed 
hat keeps your ears from getting sunburned.  Much better than a baseball cap.

Back to desert hiking. The whole point of this is that you need to adapt 
to nature.  Nature provides you with cool morning and evening hours in 
which to hike.  It just happens that she also provides you with blazing 
hot weather in the middle of the day in which it's no fun to hike, as well!
My suggestion is that you hike from 5am to 11am, then 3pm to 6pm, then 
7pm to 9pm.  Or some variation of this.  Having a siesta in the middle of 
the day does wonders for your morale!  Find some shade and relax for 4 
hours.  If you are bringing a reflective groundcloth, you could try and 
use this for a tarp to sit under, with the reflective side up.  The thing 
I hated most about S. CA hiking was there was no shade!  You were lucky 
to find a bush big enough to crawl under, and that was no fun.

	I guess that brings us to water.  The more you hike in the cooler 
hours, the less water you will drink.  That means less water you will 
have to carry on your back.  I remember loading up with 7 gallons of 
water the first day just in case (after those scary guidebook warnings).  
I did 20 miles and probably drank 4-5.  That was an extra five pounds!  
Make sure you have enough water, but not too much.  After a while you 
will be able to manage your water much better than you thought possible.  
Just remember, you can go a long ways without water, it just won't be 
very fun.  It's just a fact of life that you will have to go off-trail to 
get water.  Look at the guidebook the night before and figure out the 
closest sources, or if you are willing to carry more water (read: weight) 
to not hike those extra miles.  Every situation is different.

As far as the filters from PUR, they have a 800 number and you can get 
them to send it to the next town.  That means you want to call it before 
the filter gets really bad.  Don't worry, they are used to thru-hikers 
calling them.  The PUR Hiker is the most popular filter on the trail.

Give me an email and tell me what you think.

Jeremy Rice
(Ricebrothers '97)

ps - you can post this on the mailing list if you want.

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