1. “How long will this take?” – We are hoping not much more than 5 months. Yes that is approximately 150 days of continuous walking an average of 20+ miles a day in mostly the same clothes with all our necessities (food, shelter, water, toothbrush/paste, phone, and a few other things) on our backs. The amount of time it will take us will depend on several factors: Trail conditions, Weather conditions, injuries, number of “zeros” (non- hiking “recovery” days) we take, and/or home issues we have to attend to.
2. “What’s the difference between a “Zero” and a “Nero”?” – A “zero” is a day wherein we do not hike, but laze around hopefully in a “posh” hotel (this would be anything with electricity, a soft bed and hot shower) and gorge ourselves with “fresh” non-dehydrated food. In addition to cleansing our bodies of trail dirt and stink, the same will be done with our clothing. Re-supply boxes and/or in town resupply will be done as well in preparation for next leg. A “Nero” is a day in which not much hiking is done, for either rest purposes, waiting for post office to open, we like the spot were at and want to spend more time there…any number of reasons. We have approximately 16 “Zeros” planned which include spending 2 days at the Kick Off at Lake Morena.
3. “Where do you go to the bathroom?” – The same place all outdoor mammals go. Ideally we do this far from the trail, as there is nothing glamorous about taking a crap in the wilderness.
4. “Where will you sleep?” – We have a light-weight 3-season tent that in theory will “protect” us from the elements and more importantly from being easily “sampled” (ie. licked, yes it’s happened) by the wildlife and/or bitey insects as we lay sleeping.
5. “Do you get to shower?” – Ideally once a week or so. From our previous THru-hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail, and by the fact our neighbors who picked us up for a resupply during that trip looked a little ashen as they drove with all the windows down…We know that given a couple of days we will smell like “ass” (think about wearing your gym clothes everyday all day for a week or more) or if your kid ever played ice hockey or lacrosse… you know how the inside of their bag or gloves smell, ya that will be us. This is not to say we won’t try and “wash up” (cause we will and have) as best we can each night via wet wipes,or ice cold stream baths, but until then we will be aromatic to say the least. It is interesting to note that while our noses will tune out our stank, we will become acutely aware of the lack of stink, or the smell of cleanliness of those day hikers and Trail Angels we meet along the way. When we were on the TRT and were within an hour or so of a major trailhead, we began to see more and more people…and we got to where we would discuss how they smelled like one would a fine wine.
6. “What will you do for protection? Will you carry a weapon?” – Seeing there will be two of us, and those of you who know us and our backgrounds, there is really no need for anything but quick wit supplemented by “two hands, a knife and a bad temper”.
7. “What about food and water?” – As we are looking to keep our pack weights as low as possible, carrying enough food and water create similar but different challenges. A days worth of food averages 2 lbs. A days worth of water (5 liters) is 10lbs. The amount of food we carry will depend on our resupply locations, and as we have figured shouldn’t be more than 7 days. Most average five days or so. Our food is pre-packaged and/or mostly dehydrated meals, ProBars, trail mix, calorie dense food. We made “mini meals” of our dehydrated food to taste test. As they tasted pretty good when not hungry we expect them to be AWESOME when we are ravenous a the end of the day. We will ship nearly 12 resupply boxes and at other times resupply in town, and repackage our food in zip-locks for preparation on the trail. We will use a JetBoil stove for heating water to add to our meals. Water on the other hand at some areas will be scarce and will need to be metered out according to available water sources and/or confirmed water caches maintained by “trail angels”. We have good maps and a detailed and constantly updated water report via a cool app (PCTHYOH) that matches up with Halfmile’s maps and the water report (www.pctwater.com). We have the capacity to carry as much as 5 liters of water at a time, more if we get creative. Ideally we won’t have to carry that much at a time, but will be able to “camel up” at each water source (which means drink till we can’t drink anymore) so as to manage our water weight. It is especially important for Dee not approach anywhere near dehydration as the combo of low H2O and electrolytes will trigger a heart arrhythmia that could take her off the trail, thus we will tend to carry more water (and electrolytes) than may be “necessary” to get to the next water source.
8. “Are you really going to go the whole way?” – Yes, that is the plan. As long as our bodies hold out, and things go well on the home front, the plan is to trek to Canada whilst carrying our “essentials” on our backs. Whether we break it up in our minds via weeks, 26 sets of 100 miles, or 100 sets of 26 miles a hiking we will go. What is funny is that the distance we could fly in an hour we could drive in a day, but it will take a week to walk.
9. “Will you be hiking in a group?” – Not specifically, it depends if you consider 500+ people attempting a thru-hike or section hike of the PCT with varying start times and possibly locations a group or a “herd” (of cats). Most hike Northbound while some hike Southbound. I expect we will meet other PCT hikers along the way and most likely “group” together leap frogging along the way.
9. “Are you sure you wont get sick of spending so much time together…5+ months of 24/7?” – Let’s see, we’ve been married going on 28 years, we are both recently retired, and thus are used to and actually enjoy being around eachother 24/7 (It’s like BC – before children). Not to say we might get on each other’s nerves, as we are yin and yang at times, but be sick of each other’s company…don’t bet on it. As BFF’s we cant think of a better way to spend time together than on an epic adventure like this.
10. “What will you do when you are done?” – We have 2650 miles to figure that out…probably prep for our October elk hunting trip.