907 miles down, 1653 to go! I am currently loitering the porch of a rental cabin at Red’s Meadow, a pack station and resort west of Mammoth Lakes, California, charging my electronics.
I find it near-impossible to journal on trail, as most my time is spent completing basic chores: walking, eating, sleeping, washing, and toileting. It’s amazing to me now how much a civilized human can get done when not busy walking 12 hours daily. Walking consumes my life. I wake up and walk 15 miles a day on average, every day. And as I walk I have all the time in the world to gaze about and daydream. Unfortunately that cannot all be charted and shared with you except to condense it down and say, “This adventure is amazing!” That’s what I like to call it lately: adventure. When I encounter other hikers who ask how I’m doing or what my day plans are, I reply enthusiastically, “I’m having an adventure!” Reminding myself of that sure can take the sting out of a 3,500 foot climb, aches and pains, humming clouds of mosquitoes, or cold pissing rain. Imagining myself as an explorer, and marveling at the cathedral-like mountain peaks, crystalline blue alpine lakes, strange wildflowers and birds, and the occasional large animal (I’ve now seen three bears and a cougar), I cannot help being overwhelmed with awe and utterly charmed. I am so privileged to be out here, and yet it has taken so much work to prepare for, and so much daily work to maintain. It is certainly no “walk in the park!” And yet it is.
Here are some stats I’ve haphazardly compiled:
From Campo (at the PCT southern terminus/Mexico border) to Reds Meadow where I sit, I have walked 906.7 miles and climbed 171,576 vertical feet. Incidentally, that is like climbing the southeast ridge of Everest from Base Camp 15 times! It seems like I’ve been going over a lot more mountains while in the Sierras but that is not the case. Climbing thousands of feet over passes every day for weeks sure can make the desert seem flat, but it wasn’t. There are so many ups and downs on the PCT, but mostly ups.
For more updates and pics please follow me on Instagram. I try to post photos daily, but sometimes there are delays due to the fact there is no Internet in some of the forests (which is nice, by the way).
What do I think about? Mostly food. On the trail all I dream about are strawberry milkshakes. I didn’t particularly like them before, but I looooooove them now. Especially if they have strawberry chunks in ‘em. If you would like to treat me to a strawberry milkshake or something else you think I should have (like a certain microbrew, perhaps), you can do that here via PayPal. Saving funds for this trip with my modest Little Package income was tricky (basically I sold most my belongings), and I find more and more that this adventure has countless hidden costs. I hate to seem like I am begging, but some people want to contribute, and so I post this link after much internal debate. And milkshake fantasies. Mmmmilkshake…
Finally, I want to mention my top ten favorite items in my pack. There isn’t much in my pack now, only the essentials. Most the bulk and weight is food held in a big bear-proof canister. I wouldn’t be as happy without my:
- 15 degree down sleeping bag – love ya, snuggle buddy (and sorry about the flatus)
- Ultra lightweight down puffy hooded jacket – love you, too
- Silver reflective sun/rain umbrella – goofy but great
- Foam sandals – like walking on airy marshmallow clouds
- Awesome made-in-USA ULA backpack, which has always been comfy and never chafed, not even on my recently-broken collarbone
- Little data/cellular-enabled computer tablet
I tried not to plug brands here because there is a lot of competition and snobbery, and give-and-take. Also, that’s not ten, but I guess that shows one doesn’t need as much as one thinks. I could take the tablet off the list, but it’s how I’m blogging now, my camera, phone, maps, books, music, notepad, and… mirror.
If you’re feeling inspired, just get what you can find and afford, and take a walk in the woods! You will not regret it.