Hello everyone.  It has been 30 weeks and 2 days since my last blog post.  Feels good to be back.  I’ve missed you all.  In the theory of “give the people what they want”, lets get to it.  I wanted to share just a bit about my gear that I traversed the PCT with last year and my plans on what I intend to do differently…or the same this year.  Only 35 days until this years PCT start date, and I intend to be ready.

The uniform of T-Rex

The uniform of T-Rex. Yes, Mom, I still have that bedspread

As a sensitive lady dinosaur, it was crucial for me to remain shielded from the elements at all times whilst hiking.  In 2015, I wore long pants that had an option to roll up and button, but I never did roll them up.  As the T-Rex, maintaining the integrity of my lower limbs is imperative.  During the adventuring, I intended to keep them unscathed, and these pants helped me do that.  They are REI brand – like 70 bucks.  I recently bought the same ones for this year.  These pants were fairly durable, although I never used the back pockets they mostly have ripped off, but could easily be re-attached.  Similar to the legs, my intact reptilian arms are also very dear to me.  I wore a long sleeve shirt in 2015, of 88% polyester/12% spandex, during the majority of my hiking.  I tried a short sleeve for a day, but the inside of my arms rubbed raw on the sides of my pack.  Tough being a T-Rex sometimes.  I intend to use a similar shirt this year.  This one in particular has thumb holes so I can squirrel up my hands in the sleeves against the sun, cold, rain, sleet, etc.  My short sleeve was worn over my long sleeve – seems a bit ridiculous but I feel the extra layer to my core was helpful during the chilly times.  My purple buff was from REI as well, I liked having it for it’s multiple uses and it somehow always came clean in the laundry.  I will use the same one this year.  My hat suffered some damage and has a carefully placed safety pin holding the brim on – I’m currently am in search of a new hat…  Oh, my sunglasses.  Purchased as a birthday gift by my sweet mother-in-law, I wore them everyday.  Similar weather that tore up my hands, tore up the lens of these sunglasses, so I have replaced them for this year espanolfarm.com.

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I wore my running shoes for the 2015 trek – Brooks Ravenna 6 running shoes.  I’m starting with the same for this year, I got about 600-700 miles per pair.  Last year I wore wool socks and had minimal blistering.  I’m not sure on socks for this year yet – I still have some Inginjis from 2015 that may be recycled over into this year.  Although there is something about fresh socks that I enjoy…

Home Sweet Home

My temporary home for 5 months of 2015 was a ULA Circuit. This pack weighs about 39 oz and I love it.  I love the pockets and cushioning and sturdiness.  I will use this same pack for 2016 for as many miles as she’s willing be carried.  Oh, yes, that is a patch covering a hole in the netting torn by Hugh. The patch is from a girl scout camp where I worked for a summer in the kitchen.  The summer I turned 21, I was in the middle of the Virginia wilderness slicing cheese logs and stirring mashed potato flakes into thick goo.  The staff threw me a surprise party on my birthday and gave me a puffy-painted apron.  I’ll try to find it and post a picture.  The Smart Water bottles are for my water. I’ll carry 4 of them to start, plus a 2 liter platypus.  The trash compactor bag was gifted to me in Etna last year, it will remain as my pack liner.  On the floor there is my bear can.  If all goes according to plan it will be waiting for me at K Mead by early June.

Small items in my side pockets

Small items in my side pockets- is it blurry?  Headphones, sunblock, hand sanitizer, chap stick

Costume change!

Costume change!

I look forward to changing into my comfy camp clothes at the end of the hiking day. It is luxurious, but a comfy lady is a happy lady so I’m willing to carry the extra 19 ounces. My trusty puffy is Mountain Hardwear brand and flawless. My woolies were worn almost every night in 2015 and are already in my pack for this year. The tank top and shorts (not pictured) are purely for comfort at camp, I enjoy them when it’s warmish and also as layers in the cold.  The most ridiculous is my plaid shirt. Completely unnecessary but I love it. I’ll be starting with this alternate uniform but will be open to other options along the way. 

Head net, tiny knife, and a light that clips onto a hat

Head net, tiny knife, and a light that clips onto a hat

Comfiness is absolute necessity

Comfiness is absolute necessity

The T-Rex nest each night consisted of my sleeping quilt, air mattress, and tiny pillow – all of which are the same as my beloved’s.  After getting used to the quilt, we spent many cozy nights together, I’m happy with it and will use the same on this year.  The air mattress was great, sometimes a pain to blow up after a long hiking day, but only a few minutes later and your complaints have turned to squeals of joy as you perch atop your mattress as if on a cloud.  I’ve toiled with leaving or taking the pillow this year and I think I will start with it. And see how it goes….  These items all fit into that blue stuff sack.

 

Cooking stove, trusty cup and spoon, water filter

Cooking stove, cup and spoon, water filter

Oh my cook pot, the fuel and stove part are inside. So many chilly nights I would clutch this pot in my shivering hands for warmth, hold it close under my chin so the steam would waft up and over my face.  I love this whole set up, it worked for me to quickly boil water which all I really need. I’m willing to explore the skillet option if I tire of my current meal plan.  I can’t remember how I came upon this cup but it has 2 stickers on it that are very memorable.  The spoon was the longest handled one I could find. It borders the line of a shovel, which I’m okay with.  All of these things are coming with me in 2016. The water filter is Platypus gravity filter 2 liters. It was our 3rd of 3 water filters we used in 2015, and by far the best.  In 2015, Achilles’ job was go locate the life sustaining liquid; mine was to capture it.  I took this job very seriously.  This water filter was by far the easiest of the 3 to use and I like how it packs up into a nice tidy pouch.  That item above the cook pot and next to my spoon is my water scoop, I highly recommend one for the desert.  

Artyx rain jacket. Purchased on sale and worth every cent.

Arcyterx rain jacket. Purchased on sale was still expensive but worth every cent.  I can curl up in this jacket and feel invincible.

 

Items in my front mesh pocket

Items in my front mesh pocket

Stuffed into the netting part of my pack are my easily accessible items. Camp shoes, pack cover and rain skirt, hat and gloves, foam pad to sit atop during breaks, and our tent stakes. All of these items will join me on this year’s trek. 

Okay, last one

Okay, last one.  

Lots of little things in this one. Most importantly the satchel that carries them all, another gift from my saintly mother-in-law. This bag holds everything I need in case an emergency dash into the woods is needed or we stumble upon a surprise porta-pottie!  The best.  These items mostly explain themselves. The round pink object is a brush that folds out and has a tiny mirror. I know, it’s fancy.  Weights 1.3 ounces. 
The last time I added this up it was about 11 pounds, including the pack weight but excluding my hiking uniform, socks, and shoes.  I would like to get under 10….but I’m still working on the short list.  I did not include my food bag or some other little things like a lighter.  But for the most part, that is my worldly possessions folks.  
My preparations for PCT 2016 extend far beyond gear.  There have been many hours of training – running and hiking, stretching and crunches. I’m currently working on getting 60 miles a week and hope to get some 70 mile weeks as well in April. Achilles and I tirelessly discuss our plan for this year – breaking down what towns we will stop in, what restaurants we plan to dine in, how we will feel, who we may meet, and always how much we are looking forward to it all.  All this planning and preparation will be all for naught if we don’t keep our minds strong and our attitudes higher than the highest peaks.  My ultimate goal is to set foot in Canada, however here are some additional goals I have set for myself. 
1). Improve stream crossing skills 
2). Improve navigation skills – basically just not walking off the trail as often 
3). Give more hugs

Till next time my friends!  I leave you with this…

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Simply put by Ted Theodore Logan III and William S. Preston, Esq. – Be excellent to each other