Sunday, March 27, 2011

Care Packages!

Before getting into the care package information, I would like to share an adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling "If" poem.  This was written by a friend of mine, Julie Urbanski.  She has also written a book about her experience hiking the PCT in 2007 with her husband Matt.  In the book Julie does an excellent job of breaking down and explaining the makings of a thru-hike including the highs and lows, and how your perspective of things such as water and necessities change along the way. Definitely an interesting and entertaining read, and she is selling copies if you are interested!

Now to the poem...

If for Thru-Hikers 
by Julie Urbanski

If you can let the trail change the way you look, think and act,
      yet still remain the same person to the core.
If you can meet a hundred strangers along the way,
      and treat each one of them as a potential friend.
If you can call the mountains your home for months,
      yet leave them as if you never tread on their grounds.
If you can take in all that surrounds you,
      and keep each experience as a memory to be recalled later with a
      smile and gratitude.
If you can conquer each uphill climb, knowing it will eventually end,
      by putting one foot in front of the other,
      and then enjoy each ensuing reward of downhill or flat miles.
If you can take each difficult moment,
      and find the silver lining in order to get through it.
If you can keep your gaze focused on the miles ahead,
      yet not get wrapped up in wishing for the end to be near.
If you can take all the experiences, all the hunger and thirst, all the highs,
      and all the lows, all the dirt and exhaustion, all the steps that lead to
      your destination, and in the end come full circle to face yourself, who
      you are and who you wish to be...
If all you can do is just keep walking,
      from Mexico to Canada....

Then Alex, you will be a thru-hiker.

Man am I excited for this adventure to begin!  And it seems like everyone I have talked to about the PCT is just as excited for me as well.  Unfortunately, I know a lot of people aren't going to be able to make it out to the trail to do much hiking, but I would still love to hear from you!  There are a few towns I am planning to go to for sure, so if you would like to send a letter or care package, please send it to one of these locations.  Before I give the list of addresses, there are a few instructions to make sure that what you send ends up making it to me.

  • Letters can be mailed First Class (regular mail).
  • Most boxes must be mailed via Priority Mail through the US Post Office.  If you send a box via First Class or Parcel Post, I probably won't get it.  Don't believe the Post Office employees when they tell you they can have a Parcel Post box to me in a week or 10 days from when you send it, it's not true.
  • Please do not use UPS or FedEx.  They do not deliver to all locations.
  • However you send the box, please make sure that I DO NOT have to sign for it.
  • What should you put in a care package?  Consumables are definitely a good thing! Care packages don't have to be huge.  Food is good!  Homemade cookies, notes from you, other baked goods, newspaper clippings, and brain teasers or things that can keep my mind busy while hiking. 
  • What should not go into a care package? Anything that I would have to carry. If you send stuffed animals, or toys, or books, I'll have to send those home because I can't take them on the trail with me.
  • As I said in the last post, I do not have firm dates for when I'll be at specific locations.  If I say that I'll be someplace on a certain day, I could be off a few days either before or after that day.  The best way to make sure I get any care packages would be to make sure it will get to the location a couple days before my ETA.  Following along on this blog will be a good way to keep up with my progress to see where I am.  
  • It's very important that you address each letter/box exactly the same as I've detailed  on the following list.  And don't forget to write, "Hold for PCT hiker.  ETA: (date)" on the bottom left corner of all boxes and letters.  It's also helpful if you write "ASAI" in big black letters on the side of any box.  Surprise packages are nice, but I've got to ask for all my mail.  If I don't know you've sent something, I won't know to ask for it.  So if you're sending me something, please send me an email, text, or voicemail to tell me about the package.  

Agua Dulce (Trail mile 454) Approximate Arrival - May 25
Alex Asai
c/o The Saufleys
11861 Darling Road
Agua Dulce, CA 91390

Kennedy Meadows (Trail mile 703) Approximate Arrival - June 8
Alex Asai
c/o Kennedy Meadows General Store
96470 Beach Meadow Road
Inyokern, CA 93527

Tuolomne Meadows (Trail mile 943)
Alex Asai
c/o General Delivery
Tuolomne Meadows
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Sierra City (Trail Mile 1198) Approximate Arrival - July 7
Alex Asai
c/o Sierra Country Store
213 Main Street
Sierra City, CA 96125

Seiad Valley (Trail mile 1662) Approximate Arrival - July 31
Alex Asai
c/o Mid River RV Park
PO Box 707
Seiad Valley, CA 96806

Crater Lake Mazama Village (Trail mile 1830) Approximate Arrival - August 9
Alex Asai
c/o Crater Lake Camp Store
Mazama Village
Crater Lake, OR 97604

Cascade Locks
If you want to send something to me here, you can send it to my parents and they will deliver it to me!
Rick and Betsy Asai
2640 SW Orchard Hill Place
Lake Oswego, OR 97035

Only 4 weeks of work left and then it's on!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Trail Gear and Itinerary

Each passing day brings me one step closer to hitting the dusty trail, and at this point all my gear has been bought and stockpiled in my apartment, planning is mostly complete, and I am ready to head down to Campo, CA!  Unfortunately, it is still another 5-6 weeks before that is actually going to happen. Luckily, there have been a few events and gatherings in the meantime which continue to fuel my excitement!

Earlier this week I went to a showing of a PCT documentary made by an alumnus of the PCT back in 2007/2008.    His trail name is Squatch, which, as you can imagine, is short for sasquatch due to his belief that the hairy, herculean beast-man is somewhere out there in the woods.  As expected, there were many other past and future thru-hikers in attendance as well.  Two of the hikers at the viewing were Balls and Sunshine.  Balls has hiked the trail before, and his daughter Sunshine is planning to hike the trail with him this year. If Sunshine completes the hike, she will be the youngest ever to do so at the grand old age of 10.  Amazing! The documentary "Walked" covered his journey over the course of two summers hiking the PCT and included many conversations with fellow hikers.  It looks like there are a lot of fun people out on the trail which makes me want to get out on the trail even more!  If you are interested in watching one of his four movies, they are available for purchase here: (

Now onto the gear and itinerary.  After scouring many journals and books, and talking to those who have hiked before, I believe that my gear cache for the hike is complete!  After adding up everything from the tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, clothing, stove, headlamp, maps, compass, camera, etc. it looks like I will be carrying 15 lbs on my back without the weight of food and water.  This is what is known as "base pack weight" or BPW for short.  Fifteen pounds is about the average BPW for most thru hikers, with a few going ultralight (under 10 pounds) and others being the 'heavy truckers' with a BPW of 20 or more.  Add in another 2 lbs of food per day, plus another 6-12 lbs of water and I will be carrying 30-40 pounds at a time, depending on the length of the section between resupplies in various towns along the trail.  Does it sound like fun to you yet? It does to me!

I am hesitant to put an itinerary on here because I really don't know how things are going to go.  Am I going to be able to average 20 miles per day like I would like?  Maybe.  Will I have to hang out at Kennedy Meadows for a couple days or week before the snow has melted enough in the Sierra to make it reasonably safe?  Who knows!  And then there is also the possibility of some sort of injury or sickness that could throw things off as well.  (I bet you really want to go now that I've made it sound like so much fun!)  I look at all these things as being part of the trail experience.  You take things as they come, and deal with them one at a time.  I met someone a few weeks ago who said about the trail, "What am I going to do today? Hmm, walk twenty miles.  What am I going to do tomorrow?  Walk twenty miles.  What am I going to do the day after that?  Walk into a town and eat and resupply.  What am I going to do the day after that?  I guess I'll walk twenty miles."  And while you're walking you are thinking about the logistics of the next minute, hour, day, week.  You think about water, you think about food, you think about your next break, and you just keep walking and you figure it out as you go and you don't worry about what day it is, or the time, or if you are "on schedule".  I think that's the biggest thing about it; I don't want to feel pressured to keep to a certain timeline.  That's part of the reason for this hike is to be free of the encumbrances, schedules and time demands of the "real world".   So with a grain of salt, here is the rundown of my rough plan. It isn't all that detailed, but should give some idea of where I will be on certain dates.  Please let me know if/when you would be interested in meeting up along the trail! (or drive me into town for food?)  It would be great to see some familiar faces out there!

Date - Trail Mile from Mex Border - Location/Town

April 29 - 0 - Mexican Border
April 30 - 20 - Lake Morena for Annual Day Zero PCT Kick-Off (ADZPCTKO)
May 4 - 110 - Warner Springs, CA
May 8 - 180 - Idyllwild, CA
May 14 - 274 - Big Bear City/Big Bear Lake, CA
May 19 - 364 - Wrightwood, CA
June 1 - 560 - Tehachapi/ Mojave, CA
June 8 - 703 - Kennedy Meadows, CA

Anything after Kennedy Meadows is really up in the air at this point and will depend on the snow depth situation when I arrive.

June 16 - 790 - Independence/Bishop, CA
June 22 - 920 - Mammoth Lakes, CA
July 1 - 1093 - South Lake Tahoe, CA
July 7 - 1198 - Sierra City, CA
July 15 - 1334 - Chester, CA
July 23 - 1506 - Dunsmuir, CA
July 31 - 1662 - Seiad Valley, CA
August 3 - 1727 - Ashland, OR
August 9 - 1830 - Crater Lake, OR (Mazama Village)
August 18 - 1990 - Sisters, OR
August 24 - 2107 - Timberline Lodge, OR
August 27 - 2155 - Cascade Locks, OR
September 1 - 2234 - Trout Lake, WA
September 4 - 2303 - White Pass, WA
September 9 - 2402 - Snoqualmie Pass, WA
September 13 - 2476 - Skykomish, WA
September 19 - 2574 - Stehekin, WA
September 23 - 2663 - Manning Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Feel free to comment or ask questions about things I don't explain very well or at all. Enjoy the weekend!