Two Weeks and Counting

Two weeks from this morning we pack the car and head for Oregon, looking to spend the bulk of August hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  I have been looking forward to this hike for quite some time, but suddenly it’s nearly upon me.  Lots to do yet, but its nearly time to turn the preparation into an actual hike.

Darker red lines are this years route.

This years hike will actually be two distinct experiences.  The first will cover the southern 2/3’s of Oregon, from McKenzie Pass to Seiad Valley in California. This part of the trip will be about 320 miles and entail 17 days of hiking with a day off in the middle at Crater Lake.  I will be hiking solo through this section with my lovely and gracious wife meeting me every 3-4 days for resupply.  She will also hike out to meet me from the resupply locations, allowing her to experience parts of the PCT without having to carry more than a day pack or spend the night with the bears.  We have all the resupply points and dates identified, but she may also join me wherever a paved road intersects the trail.

The second part of the hike will shift back to Washington, heading south from Rainy Pass to Stevens Pass, about 120 miles.  I will have a friend along on this 6 day segment with no support along the way.  The wives will drop us off and then party until its time to pick us up at the other end.  This will be the most challenging segment of the trail for me this year, being both longer and considerably more rugged than the Oregon segment.  But by the time I am done with Oregon I should be in tiptop share, if not broken down.

The gear for this year is pretty much dialed in and ready to go.  Just need to stuff it all into the bag and head out.  I have been assured that there are opportunities to hang the hammock over the whole distance, assuming I am willing to look a few miles along the trail for an adequate pair of trees.

The stove is being left behind this year but I am still working on the menu.  I thought I was about ready with cold dinners until someone suggested I might not really have any weight savings with what I was using.  I am still refining my dinners, but have discovered the joys of dehydrating food in the oven, as well as finding a source for some other dried foods, particularly beans and corn.  I should be able to put together a number of different types of ‘burrito’ type dinners using dried chicken and deli meats as well as shredded beef or turkey jerky.  Add in some dried refried beans (pinto or black), freeze dried corn, minute rice (white or brown) and a variety of spice combinations, wrap in a large flour tortilla, and I have a tasty dinner, even when cold.  And the weight is no greater than the freeze dried meals I was taking.

It looks like at least the Oregon stretch will be hot and dry so I can shed a bit of weight by not taking the cold weather clothes.  But for some stretches I will have to carry additional water.  The Washington section will likely be cooler, but I have no forecast for that far out.  I’ll pack some warmer clothes to have in the car should the weather surprise me, but hopefully I won’t have to carry any of that.

The Oregon section of this trip will be very much like 5 back-to-back multi-day trips.  One of the challenges in preparation for this is to be sure I have all of the resupply stuff I need packed into the car before taking off.  If all goes well, I should be able to just swap food bags, replenish consumables, and charge batteries every few nights, and then hit the trail early the next morning.  How well this will work for me still remains to be seen.

I am somewhat concerned about my left calf.  It feels good now, but was hurting by the time I finished my last hike from the Dosewallips river over to the Quinault river, and for several days after; the results of a strained muscle.  But I cancelled my last prep hikes and quit running in order to give it as much time to rest as possible.

Fires are another concern for me.  Last year there ended up being 3 fires on the section I hiked, including one that I was nearly caught in.  It seems hotter and dryer this year, with twice the distance, so fires are a real possibility.  Will just have to handle that as it comes.

Another interesting part of the preparations for this hike is getting the wife ready to car camp and day hike out of the Prius.  She is eager to be a part of this, but has little camping experience, especially solo.  So we are working on getting her equipped to be able to spend at least a few nights in camp grounds along the way, in addition to the nights with me.  Other nights she will find a hotel for the evening as well as explore whatever is in the general area that I am hiking through.  I am very fortunate that she loves to explore and is comfortable with doing it by herself.

My son is taking care of the house; the wife’s sister is taking their mother; and the shopping is just about done.  All that’s left is to get organized; fix a few meals; pack up; and wait for the calendar to get to the right day.  Only 324 more hours!  But who’s counting!

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