Thursday, February 28, 2013

Level 1 FAQ

During our first thruhike of the Appalachian Trail we developed a tier system of the questions that we were asked along the way, from family, friends, co-workers, etc. Level 1 questions were very basic ones, made us laugh, annoyed us at times particularly when we were tired or in a hurry, but also served a purpose of answering questions for people that do not have any context to understand what we were doing. Here I present to you some level 1 questions to help to explain what a thruhike involves and this will tailor it to the Pacific Crest Trail.

1) How do you carry 6 months of food?
We will carry about 5-7 days worth of dried food that we rehydrate with water and will cook with a small lightweight backpack stove.

We will go into town about once per week to stay in a hotel/hostel and will do laundry, shop at the grocery store to resupply if they have one, catch back up on our calorie deficit at restaurants in town, and connect with family and friends by phone, snail mail, or the interwebs.

2) How do you carry 6 months of water?
That would be a lot of weight! Each liter of water (yes, metric) weighs 2.2 lbs (or 1kg) and we will carry 3-5 liters (6.6-11 lbs) at a time in the dry places that include southern and northern California. In places with more water sources like the Sierra mountains this will be closer to 1 liter at a time. We will fill up one to several times a day depending on the availability of water. In places, locals set up water caches in gallon jugs at pre-determined locations in particularly dry area. There is a water report that is updated regularly to give hikers in close to real time updates for water conditions.

3) Where do you sleep?
When in towns we will sleep at the hostel/hotels but on the trail we will sleep on the ground on sleeping pads that will either be on a tyvek ground cloth or in the 2 person tent that we will be carrying. The sleeping pads are quite comfortable and when you are very physically active all day you tend to sleep quite deeply and easily.

4) How much does your pack weigh?
About 30 pounds, but this goes up with water variances and food variances. It will also go up in the Sierras due to the need to carry a 2 pound bear canister and likely additional food and clothing.

5) How do you get 6 months off of work?!
We don't! This question entertains us the most as it is a great barometer of our current work culture in the U.S. Just about the only people that can get off 6 months of work are tenured professors and those on FMLA for medical problems or a recent birth. We engineer our lives to save money, to not obtain lots of THINGS, and careers that are portable. We simply quit our jobs. And since the trail teaches flexibility and patience, we find that this translates well back into work life.  

6) Will you take your cellphone?
We both will, but they will be off most of the time, turning them on only when needed. We will be carrying a SPOT device and sending nightly "we are fine!" message with our GPS co-ordinates to a small group of family/friends. We will try to keep technology to a dull roar as we are heading out to connect with the natural world, not the technology one.

7) Will you take a weapon?
We find that people are generally lazy and that as long as we are not camping within a mile of a road crossing we do pretty well. We also are not buried in our technology when we meet people out on the trail so we become well versed in reading people's body language and the stories they are telling and we are able to pretty quickly tell if they are legitimate or if we need to hike extra miles to put some distance between us and them.

Some recent photos from our trip to the Grand Canyon 10 days ago.

Any other questions? We will do a few more FAQ posts before the start of our hike. Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Trail Dental Care

By BooBoo

One of many challenges in thruhiking is taking your home dental care routine on the road, per se. Hikers tend to get pretty lax during their hike (at least I do) when on the trail. In recent years I have found that using an electric toothbrush has kept me out of trouble when going to the dentist twice a year. After my most recent dental cleaning I had asked the hygienist for the best battery operated electric toothbrush, but she shot this down as all of them tend to go in a circle and do not really enhance brushing. After the dentist I went to target and look what I found!

Battery operated electric/sonic toothbrush!!! I am terribly excited about this!!! What we also plan to do is get a prescription for fluoride gel as this is a lot lighter than bottles of ACT fluoride rinse. Dehydrated fluoride in a way....

We have also ordered and received the rest of our PCTA maps for the trail, fluffing out our collection of Washington State PCTA maps we acquired just prior to our trip to Seattle in August 2011. We are maps people and like to get a little better sense of our surroundings a little further out from the small trail corridor that other maps provide.