Friday, April 29, 2011

April 29, 2011

Today I officially began my thru-hike! As of this posting I am nestled in my sleeping bag and preparing for a well earned nights rest.

We left Coronado Island this morning at about 6:30 and started driving east to Campo, CA. The trail begins (or ends) about 2 miles south of this small town. We arrived at the border just before 8:00, took a few pictures, and then we were off! My dad hiked the first couple miles with me from the border to hwy 94, where my mom was waiting with the car.

Over the course of the next 15 miles I hiked with a few different people at different times and also hiked alone part of the way. The desert here is much less desert-y than I was expecting. There is a lot of brush and some trees, most of which is still green at this point! (pictures hopefully coming soon)

The weather ended up being just about perfect. I think the forecast was for about 70, and there was a nice breeze blowing through to keep me cool as I hiked. Both my mom and dad hiked south from the campground and walked the last couple miles with me to Lake Morena, getting in just before 3:00pm.

The rest of the day was spent at the ADZPCTKO where they had a few different presentations on the water report, alternate routes through the High Sierra, as well as fires and bears, and I've had the chance to meet some other hikers. There was also a collection of short films made by previous thru-hikers they showed at the end of the evening which made me even more excited to keep moving on!

Time for me to go to bed so I can enjoy another day at KO before heading out toward Warner Springs and Idyllwild!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Drive

The view from our room

We made it! Earlier today, right about lunch time, we cruised our way into San Diego, made our way down to Mission Beach, and had us some grilled mahi mahi tacos! We even got to watch the UEFA Champions League match between Real Madrid and Barcelona!

After lunch we headed down to Coronado Island where we are staying at the Marriott. Lets just say it is a little bit different than my accommodations will be starting on Friday.

As for the rest of the drive, it has been pretty leisurely. Ashland for lunch on Monday with Ken and Mitzi; Sacramento Monday night for dinner with Claire; lunch in Sacramento with Roger, Janet, David, Lauren, and Sarah; and Bakersfield last night, just because it was a good stopping point.

Tonight and tomorrow will be pretty leisurely, just touring around the city and meeting up with my cousin Jimmy for dinner and possibly breakfast, and a friend from OSU, Angela, for dinner Thursday. On a side note, I'm bummed that Kyle (another OSU alum) is off touring somewhere with the navy and can't meet up!

I also need to pick up some food for the first section I will be hiking, to supplement what I already have. Right now I'm planning on ~4500 calories per day, and I'll adjust based on how that goes. So for the first stretch from Lake Morena to Idyllwild, I will be carrying about 36,000 calories for the 8 days it will take. Once I've got the quantity figured out a little bit better I'll post a food diary for a week's worth of food.

Now excuse me while I get back to enjoying the sunny weather...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

From Gainfully Employed to Homeless

Happy Easter everyone!  I hope you are as full of food and relaxed as I am!


Friday marked my last day of work for five and a half months!  Everyone at work has been extremely supportive and shown great interest in my hike, and I am grateful for that.  As I said my final goodbyes and drove out of the parking lot for the last time (for a while, at least), I felt a smile make it's way across my face.  The prospect of living the trail life is one step closer to actually happening!

Saturday morning after I packed away the last of my belongings in a storage unit, finished cleaning my apartment, and handed over the keys, another smile spontaneously appeared.  Having the last of that chore behind me was a huge relief and load off me physically (moving boxes), but more so mentally.   My car was now loaded with only my hiking gear and a bag of clothes for the drive down to Mexico  next week.

Leaving the apartment complex for the last time, I made my way to I-5 South and drove from Washington to Oregon.  As I crossed the bridge a bittersweet thought hit me that made me smile once again; that sudden realization being, the next time I am in Washington will be when I hike across the Bridge of the Gods in August... all the way from Mexico!

The last day of work, giving up my apartment, and crossing the state line by themselves are not all that impressive or cause for excitement, however, when you add them all together they mean more to me than just the simple acts themselves.  I am giving up my place in "normal society" for what many upstanding members of society might consider a strange and unproductive way of living.  Hiking and camping along the trail will become my new lifestyle.  I will not have a day job.  I will not have an income.  I will not have a stationary place to call home.  I will not have a washing machine, dishwasher, electricity, heating/cooling, and all the other many things that make life "easy and comfortable."  I am now officially jobless (kinda), homeless, and proud to admit it!  As another PCT hiker from Portland said, we will be turtles, carrying our shelter (amongst other things) on our backs.  And the trail will be our home!

This weekend has been great in many other ways too.  Friday night East County (running group) in Vancouver threw a little going away party with pizza, ice cream, and games!  Both games led to lots of laughs and I will miss moments like that while on the trail.  I wish them all the best of luck in the Eugene half-marathon!  Saturday I was able to hang out with a few Portland friends, enjoying the sun at a park, then going for happy hour at Papa Hayden's on 23rd.  Probably one of the best places to sit along the sidewalk and people watch in Portland, especially if you want to experience, what I can only assume are, the latest trends in fashion (and uncomfortable clothes).  Today the Easter bunny came bearing a basket full of peanut butter, trail mix, dried fruit, and Lipton sides!  That's what the Easter bunny brought to your house, right?  Following that I got all dressed up (for the last time in a while) for brunch at Oswego Lake CC with my parents, aunt, uncle, and cousins.  Everything was delicious and I was encouraged to eat as much as possible for the trail, so I happily obliged.  In the evening we all went out to Gresham for our weekly Sunday dinner trip to spend time with Grandpa Gene, and even had a little Easter egg hunt to round out the day!  Overall I can say that it has been a great last weekend in WA/OR.

Tomorrow begins the road trip from Portland to Mexico during which we will be visiting more friends and relatives!  Let the adventure begin!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gear!

There it is in all it's glory! What a beautiful sight, to me at least.

Backpack - Granite Gear Vapor Trail
Tent - Tarptent Moment
Sleeping bag - REI Sub-Kilo +20F
Sleeping Pad - Z-Rest
Clothes are in the green stuff sack
Shoes - Nike Pegasus Running shoes
Maps, compass, PCT Permit
Pot, stove, fuel
First aid kit
Camera, charger, spare battery
Headlamp
Toiletries and TP
Water storage (will be able to carry 6L)
Food storage (still need to buy and pack)
And other small miscellany

I'm also going to pick up some kahtoola microspikes and maybe an ice axe since there is still a lot of snow at the higher elevations in SoCal.
Can't wait to start!

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Second Guessing? Nah

Only a few more days to go until I start heading south, and a number of things have been running through my head...  

As I was sorting through and organizing my hiking gear last night, referring to my packing list, then back to the gear, then to the list.  Then I stopped and thought, 'Is this it? Is this really all I will need for my shelter, bed, clothing, water storage, food storage, first aid, kitchen for the next 5 months?'  Another glance back at my list confirms that, yes, I do indeed have everything I need.  It amazes me as to just how little space all these things take up relative to the things I have accumulated in my apartment over the past few years.  Stuff. Who needs it?  Not this guy for the next five months!

Prior to sorting through my gear I went out for a ten mile run; nothing out of the ordinary.  Although not specifically training for races right now, I made it my goal to average sub-6 min/mile for the run.  Sure enough, when I got done I had accomplished my goal: 10 miles in less than one hour.  Then I started thinking about my mileage per day goal over the length of the trail.  Twenty miles a day?  If I can run 10 miles in less than an hour, how hard (or easy) is it going to be to do 20 miles over the course of 10-12 hours?  Granted, I was running on flat, smooth ground, and wasn't carrying 30lbs on my back, but it still doesn't seem like it should take that long.  I guess I will have lot's of time to stop and smell the chaparral, or something like that.  Or perhaps I'll try to cover more ground than 20/day.  Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Only a few more days to go...


Here is a video I put together from a hike with a few friends the past weekend up to Munra Point in the Columbia River Gorge.  Beautiful day for a hike!







video


Commenting on Blog Posts

Probably something I should have mentioned earlier... You can (and are encouraged to) comment on any post, however, you may notice that your comment will not show up right away. The way I have it set up, the comments get sent to me via email for review and approval prior to appearing on the blog so that I have some semblance of control over the content that ends up on there.

Don't worry, it's not YOU that I'm worried about, it's the person next to you. Yeah, that guy. :)

And here's a photo of Elowah Falls from the past weekend:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Answers to questions, including the all important "why"

Thank you for the questions!  

To begin with, yes, I will be hiking alone … sort of.  There are approximately 300 people that attempt a thru-hike each year, with the majority of those people starting from the Mexican border between April 15 and May 15.  So, I am not hiking the entire distance with any one person, but will be hiking with various other thru-hikers (soon to be friends) along the way.  I also hope to meet up with friends and family along the way who are interested in hiking with me, or just meeting me along the trail.

My work (US Forest Service) has graciously allowed me to take an unpaid leave of absence in order to do this hike, and they are holding my job for me!  I am giving up my apartment, getting rid of some furniture, and renting a storage unit for my remaining belongings.  The trail will be my home for more than four months. 


Now for the question of "why"... 
It seems that there are as many answers to this question as there are people who attempt the thru-hike each year.  For me, this is a good time in my life to take on this adventure.  The majority of people I have had the chance to talk with about thru-hiking the PCT say something to the effect that they wish they had done it (or some similar adventure) when they were younger, before obligations to wives, husbands, kids, jobs, etc. became the priority (rightly so) in their lives.  Others my age or younger are simply envious that I am going out there and making it happen for myself.  

I also really enjoy being outdoors running, hiking and backpacking, so the thought of having the opportunity to live out of a pack off my back for an extended period of time excites me!  There is a simplicity to the thru-hiker lifestyle that is very appealing and freeing. The only things you really need to worry about (food, water, and shelter) are right there on your back.  

The challenges, both mental and physical, also intrigue me. You never truly know how much you can do or what your limits are unless you get out there and give it a shot.  As a whole, I am interested to see how I react to surprises along the way.  I have heard it said that when you begin the hike you look outward at the beautiful scenery and the people you meet along the way.  As your time on the trail continues, you start to look more closely at yourself, who you are, and how you act.  And then the final third of the hike you look inward at your values, beliefs, and other deeply held thoughts.  Of course I can't foresee what will happen or how I will change, however I am confident that my perspective of the world will forever be changed for the better.

Alex

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Email post test

Alright! So here goes my attempt at updating to the blog via email...
If you're reading this then my plan is working!

Just over a week to go and my parents and I will be hitting the road
on our way south to the Mexican border! It's crazy to think that we
can drive about 2000 miles in a few days, but it's going to take me
4-5 months on foot to cover the same distance and then some.

With that I'll (attempt to) leave you with a photo from one of my
recent preparatory day hikes; sunset from Munra Point in the Columbia
River Gorge: