Sunday, August 5, 2012

Three Days Out...

So where has the summer gone?

I leave for this trip on Wednesday, August 8. I have practically done everything wrong getting ready  for this backpacking experience. Mainly, I haven't trained at all. I'm taking a "let the trail get you in shape for this trip" approach. Hope it works.

I've decided to not bring along Abbey the dog. Why? Because I think I'll be so worried about the dog's well being that I'll forget about my own well being. And I haven't been able to take a practice hike with her so that I think it might be a tad unwise to have a 150 mile trip be Abbey's first experience on the trail.

What are my concerns at this point? There is a big fire (the Chips Creek fire) that is not supposed to be contained until August 15, 2012. This fire started (on the PCT) where I will be finishing the trip. So smoke might be bad on the trail towards the end. Fire is always a danger this time of the year; especially this year when we didn't have much rain during the winter. On top of that, there is lightning in the forecast.

Other dangers? Rattlesnakes, tripping and falling, dehydration, exhaustion, getting lost, mountain lion, electrical storms, Lyme's disease from deer ticks, sunburn, hypothermia, drowning in creek crossings, bear, hanta virus from deer mice, my own stupidity. Probably more.

Undeterred, Joni will drop me off at the rest stop at Donner Pass on Wednesday. My first day will be easy; I'll be shacking up at a Sierra Club cabin called the Peter Grubb Hut. I plan to tramp in with wine, steaks and whiskey in order to have a luxurious first meal. If you are going to hike, do it right!

I've purchased a brand new backpack for this trip. A nice Osprey that promises to make my burden easy (easier?). I'm also using a tent, choosing not to just sleep on the ground, "cowboy camping". I'm bringing an old dinosaur Eureka that Joni has had for 20 years. She used this tent at Earth First! events back when Earth First! actually had some promise to it. My pack will be heavy--filled with not state of the art equipment.

There is one section of the hike where there is no water on the trail for 24 miles. Luckily, if a person gets desperate, there are ways to hike down to water within a couple of miles (but who wants to do that?).  This stretch doesn't occur until I'm some seventy miles into the journey, so I should be trail hardened by then.

I know I'm going to suffer. The first few days are going to suck. I will be bringing a journal and a pen. A book too. I'll be able to journal just how miserable I am (and just how stupid it was to try and attempt this thing without the correct physical preparation).

Below is my packing list:

I will be bringing a cell phone that isn't too smart. No trail maps on the phone. The phone will be used to call in (hopefully) updates to Joni as to where I am. Joni will use my account on Facebook to let people know where I am and that I'm okay.

Other thoughts: Yes, it might be foolish to take off for a couple of weeks in not the best of physical shape. This fifty-one year old body doesn't do what it used to do. And I am soft and squishy. I may be a fool, but a fool should do something foolhardy once and awhile. A little danger is good for you! We lack such Adventure in our lives that sometimes we have to let the Adventure condition us. That's my approach this trip.

See you on the other side. Belden or Bust!


  1. Best to do it alone if you're not conditioned so you don't slow down a companion, though there is more risk.
    You will have a fun time! Hope Joni posts a lot of updates on Facebook.

  2. Good luck Allan. And I couldn't agree more that "sometimes we have to let Adventure condition us."

  3. Don, Joni will post updates under my name on Facebook. Trusting spouse that I am, I gave her my password.

    Thanks Tim. I'm sure this Adventure will condition me. Who doesn't dream of an extended trip on a trail someplace? I'm thankful for a spouse who is tolerant of me being away so much.