The Countdown

We are traveling ever closer to the trail. In Arizona now, Interstate 10, westbound, it’s early and we plan a full day of driving. The destination: Redding, California. There, we will get just one last day to prepare our packs, and get the van ready for long-term storage. We will catch a bus heading to Chester. And there, at mile 1331 of the Pacific Crest Trail at Highway 136, Patti and I will step foot on trail.

We’ve traveled a long distance since March 23 when we left Encinitas. We have both left our jobs. We left our home in the hands of a property manager. We sold nearly everything we own. Commitments required a swing around family and friends in the midwest. We moved through 14 states, put more than 9000 miles on our new van. We’ve been in sleet, snow and a blizzard, rain and humid, hot, sticky sun. We hiked these months as many trails as we could find, using this time to physically prepare for the 90-day hike we will soon begin. Our feet walked the hollowed ground of the Ozark Trail. We also visited Beale Street in Memphis, the Civil Right Museum in Jackson and cooled our feet in the waters of the Gulf Course. Now, the trail is just ahead of us.

Our hiking the PCT started as section hikes. Often just afternoons, we would go out to those sections that were nearest our home. But as those sections got completed, our hikes took us further away and that began lengthening our hikes. Soon, we did five days, then a couple of 10-day hikes. Last year, we did 175 miles in the course of 15-days. We have now completed 1100 miles of the PCT. We have 1550-miles left to complete it. We will hike these miles in a single shot.

I’m not sure that I am prepared to hike the remaining 1550 miles as a “thru-huke.” Patti and I have spoken often that our previous section hikes were always encumbered by time restrictions and other limitations. These would kind of taint the experience of hiking and diminish the thrill of completing a challenge. There was always something holding us back, pulling us back, to the realities of our lives.

I believe that hiking 1550 miles will be as much a mental thing as it will be physical. We were asked the other day if we were “ready” for the trail. We answered with only the physical component in mind: we wish we had more training hikes in, but we feel ready and excited. But mentally, I’m still getting my head wrapped around the enormity of what we’re planning to do. I expect this experience will teach me. I suspect I will be humbled. I look to embrace it. I want to feel and see it. I want to taste it.

Starting next Wednesday, I will begin posting short updates of our progress as we weave ourselves up the PCT corridor to Canada. I will likely post some pictures here on the blog. But more pictures of our travels will be posted to our Instagram account at: www.instagram.com/mcshap We encourage you to also visit our page there as most of our better photos are posted on that platform.

Patti and I both sincerely appreciate those of you who follow along and for all of your support.

Cheers!

Lynn

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Now, the Fun Begins



While visiting friends and family through the Midwest, we turn our attention to our hike this summer. We’ll be completing the last of the 1500 miles we need to do to have completed the Pacific Crest Trail. Our plans are beginning to materialize, but we have a lot more to work out. So, while we drive from the west coast to Iowa, we have had time to start working out the details.

We know for sure that we will be getting on the trail on June 16. And we’ve also decided to take Chester to Tuolumne Meadows and then jump back up to Castle Crags up north near Shasta. It was there we began our hike last year when we went from Castle Crags to Chester. We took that route specifically to avoid a nasty winter melt and streams too dangerous to cross.

We are still working out transportation details. We will be parking our van in Redding, CA. We have a ride, we hope, from there to Chester. Once we arrive at Tuolumne we’ll need to bounce up to Castle Crags. This will be one of the last times we’ll need to work out transportation to a trailhead as section hikers. So much of our time in planning our trips historically, was the details of getting to and from the trailheads.

We are also currently working out our resupply strategy. Our daughter, Alexa and her fiancé, Cooper (known as Bonzi and Bighorn to the class of 2017 thru-hikers) had a good plan worked out already for their hike. So, we were able to use much of their plan to work out one of our own. Patti helped them through their resupply needs by mailing boxes in advance as needed to Alexa and Cooper, so, naturally, Alexa offered to do the same for us while we hiked. We have worked out 12 resupply drops and have set aside boxes already for the first three. Alexa will fill and send more boxes as needed per a schedule we worked out. Using Alexa’s experience from last year as a guide, we have good insight as to when we should send a box versus purchasing food along the trail.

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Our menu for seven days. We tend to eat only a protein bar for breakfast. We like to have a hot lunch. And for dinners we ordinarily have a cold meal like tuna or jerky. Above this ensemble are trail mix and summer sausage (for Lynn – Patti is vegetarian), and to the right some miscellaneous rice, hot chocolate mix and salted nut rolls as snacks. Hardly the common diet. We will also have Jolly Ranchers, protein shake mix, and dried fruits.We’ll likely write more about our eating and how hiking the trail impacts us physically, once we get out on the trail. 

Patti is waiting for new trekking poles to arrive. And we have ordered a new tent. We are reviewing each piece of equipment and will be sure to be prepared for the trail come June.

More to come soon.

What Takes 5 Years To Go 1100 Miles & 4 Months To Go 1500? How We Plan to Finish the PCT This Year

When we started hiking small sections of the 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail back in 2012, we told people we were on the 10-year plan. We figured the most we could ever get done any given year would be only 150 miles on average. So, we weren’t really sure when we might actually get to the northern terminus at the Canadian Border.

Mt. Shasta at sunset

Mt. Shasta from the south on Castella to Chester hike, summer 2017.

One of the frustrations of being section hikers is the length of time we spend planning each segment. It’s not always cool to leave your car someplace for two weeks. So, we work hard to find good on and off access points to the trail. We also are captive to the clock, needing always to get back to our jobs. This, of course, plays a huge part in how many days we can stay on trail each outing. And all of this limits the number of miles we get in each year. Once we do get back on trail, we need three or four days to get into our groove, adjust to the altitude, etc. And by the time we start to really feel like we have finally connected with the trail, it’s time to chase off back to the “real world” – a reality, as I’ve written in the past, that is real only if we make it so.

Deer in meadow

Found this deer grazing in a meadow on our Castella to Chester hike last summer, 2017.

We are excited to announce…

…our decision to get back on trail in June. This time, instead of our usual two-weeks, we’ll be taking an extended leave to hike the remaining 1550 miles of the trail, taking us likely into October. We’ll soon start to share posts on our planning, preparation and schedule. We plan to keep up the blog during the hike, posting directly from the trail when possible.

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We are also very excited to introduce Sweet Dreams Outdoors. We’ve partnered with Sweet Dreams to bring you reviews of new products and provide discounts on select gear  offered exclusively to our readers. Stay tuned for more details. Patti and I are both very excited to be part of the Sweet Dreams Outdoors team. Most of what they offer is recommended by staff members. The site features a lot of innovative products and the prices are really fair. It will be a blast to test and review new items as they become available.

Save Our Lands

This was posted on the Pacific Crest Trailside Reader. Public Comments are being requested by July 10th to save these 22 monuments and 5 Marine National Monuments.  I have taken directly from the Reader’s May 31st post. PLEASE take a moment to make your comment.  I’ve made mine, stressing the importance of  needing space, not congestion of urban sprawl. And of course, how healing, inside and outside, these areas of nature are:

Pacific Crest Trailside Reader
VERY VERY IMPORTANT – all PCT users and lovers pay attention
Posted: 31 May 2017 10:00 AM PDT

The Department of Interior led by Ryan Zinke is reviewing 22 National Monuments and 5 Marine National Monuments, created or expended between the years 1996 – 2016. What is at risk? These Monuments may be reduced in size or eliminated all together. Three of the Monuments encompass stretches of the PCT – Sand to Snow National Monument (includes, among other features, Whitewater River), San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (includes, among other features, Mt. Baden-Powell), and Cascade Siskiyou National Monument (includes, among other features, Pilot Rock near Ashland, Oregon). There is a 60-day public comment period (ending July 10). It is critical that PCT users make their feelings known. You can do so by:

1) enter into your browser (or follow this link) http://www.regulations.gov

2) under the ‘What’s Trending’ column on the left side of the screen, you can double click on Review of Certain National Monuments Established Since 1996; Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment

3) click on “Comment Now”

4) make your comment

Here is what I wrote:  ( I am not sure who this author is…it was part of the post).

At the age of 62, I finished walking the Pacific Crest Trail. The Trail passes through three of the Monuments under review: Cascade Siskiyou, Sand to Snow, and San Gabriel Mountains. Just this past April I was again walking through the mountains of Southern California from the Mexican border to the San Jacintos, four years after first backpacking in these arid mountains. What is striking to me is just how aggressively development continues to push, push, push into these fragile desert landscapes. Horse ranches, greenhouses, homes, even housing developments and the associated roads, utility lines, and commercial establishments have sprung up where they did not exist even 4 years ago. Once development occurs, it is extremely difficult to undo it. The Sand and Snow and San Gabriel Mountains Monuments offer modest but critical protection from the sprawling reaches of Los Angeles and the Palm Springs/Palm Desert communities.

The landscape is extraordinarily vulnerable. The desert holds its scars for a very long time. You can see this impact as you walk near the Whitewater River in the Sand to Snow Monument. Or, from the top of Mt. Baden-Powell, in the San Bernardino Mountains Monument where the layer of pollution from the L.A. Basin often offers a palpable layer extending far to the southwest.

While not surrounded by massive population centers like the Sand to Snow and San Gabriel Mountains, the Cascade Siskiyou Monument is threatened by the rapidly growing Ashland-Medford communities of the Rogue River Valley. Homes are pushing their way farther and farther into the mountains around these communities. I believe that the Cascade Siskiyou Monument not only protect iconic features like Pilot Rock, but helps preserve the recreational opportunities for this region of southern Oregon.

I have lived on the North Coast of California just south of Redwood National Park for more than three decades. I think that the creation of Redwood National Park provides an object lesson when insufficient land is protected. The Park, in deference to local logging companies, initially limited much of the protection to a narrow strip of old growth redwood along Redwood Creek (named the ‘worm’ for its size and shape). Quickly we learned, as surrounding lands were aggressively logged and Redwood Creek clogged with sediment that we had to preserve the broader eco-system … not just a small patch of trees. By the time we learned that, the cost of buying back the watershed and its restoration was immense.

Do not give up these Monuments for short-term employment and temporary gain. I would love to walk some of these lands with you as I know that you agree with what I have seen and learned.