Monday, February 1, 2010

Pacific Crest Trail Update

My ice axe and a couple more pairs of trail runners arrived in the mail a couple of days ago. That brings my shoe total to 3 pairs at the moment. From what I've researched so far, 5 pairs seems to be the number of shoes a typical thru hiker will destroy during the 2,663 mile journey. I had trouble sleeping last night worrying about the financial burden this trip has placed on my shoulders, but while reading a PCT book this afternoon, I remembered why I want to do this. There was a picture of a hiker resting on a granite slab next to a glacier filled lake while a full moon was rising above the jagged mountain ridge. Ahhhhhhh, those moments make all the miles, mosquitoes, and hunger pangs worth while in my opinion.
I started thinking about the first time I remember sleeping under the stars. I was in high school spending the night at my friend John's house in Maryland. A few of us had congregated outside playing guitars and sitting around a fire pit my friend had built in his backyard. A fire pit was pretty much unheard of in the suburbs around DC, as far as my experience to that point. I remember sitting in a lawn chair thinking to myself "I've never slept under the stars in my entire life! I wonder what it's like?" I ended up falling asleep in the lawn chair and awoke the next morning as the sun was rising, covered in dew, but ALIVE!!!


  1. Mark, when you are in the Mammoth area plan on staying at my place. I have an extra room, with actual sheets on the bed, and a shower. And, I can cook. When do you think you'll be hitting the Sierra? In the Mammoth area?

    BTW, what a great dream. I say, go for it!

  2. Wow, thanks Robin, that would be awesome! Do you have space for two of us by any chance? (My buddy Dan is hiking with me.) Perhaps we could chop some firewood, or judging by your pictures, continue to help you shovel your place out to return the favor! :)
    I think mid June is when we would most likely be passing through, but I've got to double check to get a more precise ETA.

  3. Mark, you certainly have traveled a far distance since that first night under the stars in a lawn chair. Funny the things that inspire us and carry us on.
    How long do you expect the trip to take you? and, do you ship some of those shoes ahead? Hard to believe that they'd be your best bet in the snow. Robin, have you used those shoes?
    Sorry, too many questions.
    Somehow, I feel very excited for you.

  4. Hey Kate,
    The trip takes about five months to complete, and most hikers need to average about 20 miles a day. I've never hiked more than 18 in a single day so this will be quite a challenge. There are several ways to complete the trail, but I will be having packages sent to different post offices and small stores along the way, so yes, the shoes will be shipped when I need them! I also thought trail runners would be treacherous in the snow. I've debated whether to send my hiking boots and crampons to Kenedy Meadows before starting the Sierra section, but some hikers argue that trail runners allow a hiker to trudge through the snow and water and will dry out quicker. There are lots of little decisions like this to be made while planning, but that's all part of the fun!

  5. Yes, room for two no problem. We can work out the details later. Are you starting in late April? Feel free to ship stuff to me and I can hang onto it for you. Shoes, whatever. It's going to be a big snow year, so be careful with the Passes--Glen and Mather tend to give thru hikers the willies with snow. Also, some of your creek crossings will be thought provoking, to say the least. You probably know all of this already. Anyway, let me know the best way to be in touch once you are on the trail. What a cool thing to do!

  6. Robin, Kate and I can all attest to the glories of the Muir Trail Ranch which has wonderful hot springs nearby. A lot of hikers had things there waiting for them...

  7. Mark--your grand wild flowers captured me--and--now your going to do the PCT--wow--go for it--will be something that will always be with you--keep us posted--Robin is a GREAT cook--Lynn

  8. Thanks Robin, that would be great. At the moment, we don't have a starting date set in stone, it depends on when my friend can finish up work and fly out here (he's in Asheville N.C.) We are looking at the first week in May, hopefully no later than that due to the heat that is sure to welcome us in the desert areas.
    Yea, the passes and streams are sure to be interesting. Mather Pass gave me the willies without snow.

    Lebird, did you stay at the actual ranch? Those hot springs are indeed wonderful, I hiked through there last summer around the time the Perseid Meteor shower was at its peak. It was one of the highlights of the Muir Trail for me, and probably for some of the other hikers who stayed there that night.

    Thanks Lynn, I havn't been able to hike this week and I'm sure there is plenty of new activity in the mountains. Hopefully I can get some more pictures up soon...

  9. Hey Mark, Kate lives near the San Gabriel's. Maybe she can supply you with some water? She is also an expert in cheeses. Kate?

    As for when you hit the eastside, let's figure out a way to communicate and go from there. If I'm around, I can either help get you supplies or meet you in Lone Pine, Bishop, or, maybe even on the trail.

    We, Colleen (aka LeBird), Kate, Lynn (my mom) and other family spent a week at the Muir Trail Ranch two years ago....three? was a blast and a culinary extravaganza. Some of us, including myself, hiked from Cottonwood/Horseshoe Meadows over the two weeks prior and met up with the rest of the gang. What a great place and a perfect resupply.

  10. Robin/Mark, It was August 2007, I could never forget.

  11. Robin, I bet that two week hike made the meals taste even more spectacular.

    As far as resupply goes or a place to meet in the Sierra, I believe Bishop is a possibility (Kearsage Pass Trail?) and Red's Meadow is a popular resupply spot near Mammoth. I think Lone Pine might be a bit more challenging due to the elevation gain and loss from the trail to town and back. I think there might be a permit issue as well to use the trail on the East side of Whitney? I'm not positive about that, I'll have to check a bit more closely. My friend Dan plans on bringing his cell phone, so at least we can call you from one of the towns before we enter the Sierra. As you can see, I'm terrible with specifics. My hunch is Bishop or taking a trail from Red's Meadow into Mammoth would be the most convenient...

  12. Hey Mark, I finally checked out your blog, its pretty neat. This week I send out my permit applications, seam sealed my new tarptent, and got my new ultralight and bankruptcy-inducing sleeping bag. Currently I'm debating footwear options and trying to finish all my goddamn paperwork at work so I can start working on the food planning.
    By the way, I think I have the same ice ax as you. I can't wait till I'm on some precarious, snow covered traverse so I can use it!