PCT Completion Hike – The First 11 Days

Resting today – a forced rest – in Sierra City, roughly 130 miles from our start at Chester. Little snafu with our resupply box getting sent to the Post Office instead of the general store where we could get it picked up today. But given it is Sunday, we’re here in Sierra Ciry until tomorrow when the PO reopens.

So far, the hike has been a venture of many hits and missess. Our first resupply, for instance, was scheduled for Belden. But when we arrived, we found our box never arrived. So we had to buy supplies there at premium prices and have our errant box bounced to a destination northward once it is found. And Belden was a bust at best as we found it less than hiker-friendly and would suggest to future hikers to bypass Belden altogether and visit Carribou Crossing instead. There, the staff is much friendlier and helpful. And prices were more reasonable, too. Just one more note on this: Belden does not receive USPS services. Resupply boxes must be sent UPS or FedEx. But in nearly all other cases, the hike this far has been an absolute dream.

Got dropped off at the trailhead at Highway 36 Wednesday afternoon, June 13, at 4:30. We walked three miles before knocking off for the night.

Packs were heavy. Patti started carrying about 23% of her body weight. I was carrying 27%.

Big climb out of the gates next morning. But we felt good. Climbed to 7200 feet before leveling out. Lots of ups and down. But realized in the end that we had done 2000 feet up. About altitude: we both needed some time to adjust – not unusual for us. We have since breeched 7000-feet elevation a number of times.

We have seen some wildlife, but many deer specifically. One night, while in our tent, we heard footsteps. I looked out to find a deer about 20 feet away. Then, a few minutes later that deer along with another passed by again. Beautiful animals. We saw yet another small buck another day while we were putting up our tent. Several others along the way.

We both have a few aches and pains to work out. But nothing serious.

Our equipment is holding up for the most part. But my backpack is starting to rip in several places so I’ll need to address that. Also our Sawyer Mini is filtering water but the water tastes bad. So, we will be replacing that soon. In the meantime, we will continue using our full sized Sawyer Squeeze.

We remain in great spirits and having a blast. Thrilled to be living out a dream we’ve dreamed for many years.

People have asked about the trail: the trail is most usually about 18-inches wide, sometimes narrower. It is at times soft with pine needles bedding. Sometimes nothing but rocks that are jagged and dangerous. The trail can be straight or crooked. Steep or flat. Uphill or downhill. Dirt or sand. Sunny or shady. Wet or dry. Or, all of these things inside of a single mile. But it is at all times beautifully awesome and inspiring. Along each side of the trail the holes left by trekking poles by hikers who have passed before us, become a track. I have imagined these as a train track. My poles fall lockstep into the groove, a rhythm forms, then I almost feel propelled by what only could be a metaphysical caboose. The hike becomes a glide, or a floating almost just chugging along.

We will continue providing updates as cell service and Wifi allows.

Thanks to all of you for following along.

I have found it very difficult to post pictures using WordPress. So, our photos will be on our Instagram page at Instagram.com/mcshap

Lynn Shapiro
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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

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.