PCT Completion Hike – Days 12 to 30

Checking in after completing our first 400-plus miles of our PCT completion hike. We have now been on trail for 30 days and are well more than half done with the entire trail. Our latest adventures took us from Sierra City, where we last left word, to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. We have lots of stories, have learned a lot of lessons and have posted a lot of pictures on Instagram, too.

Now that we are a month into this, we are starting to see some of the differences between how we used to hike sections and how we are now hiking the remainder of the trail in its entirety. Planning is simplified to some degree. We no longer have to figure out transportation to each trailhead for each segment, for instance. But it’s more complicated in other ways, such as having a viable and successful resupply plan. There are other considerations, too. Being out on trail for an entire month has brought new dynamics to the hike. It’s no longer a mere physical task, though it is still that, for sure. But I’m finding the hike now just as much mental as physical. So, this brings in new dimension, as well. Patti mentioned the other day how she wakes up each morning and at first a thought sweeps over her about how hard this hike is. Soon enough, that fades and the wonder of the day takes over. For me, I find myself thinking about the hugeness of the world around me, and seem to seek a space in it where I make sense of what that means.

We are still decoding our new normal, trying to figure out what works, what doesn’t and how things might work better. We look for efficiencies everyday and we continue to dial in what works best for us. We continue to struggle getting our daily mileage over 15-miles. We have done many days over that figure, just not consistently. In order to match our goal to be done with the hike by September 15, we see each day at least a small part of that probability diminish.

We had a string of equipment breakdowns. Much of our gear is old or just not doing what we need. So, we have spent the last couple of days researching, finding and acquiring new gear as needed. This includes new shoes for both of us, a new pack for Lynn, a new water filtration system, new rain poncho for Patti. These items all either completely gave out on this latest outing, or wore out after normal use. We also needed to call for a replacement tent as the brand-new one we used only for 40 days or so, started breaking at the poles and screen. It was very stressful while on trail seeing each of these items break over a period of just a few days. Still more than 70 miles out from any stopping point, we could do nothing but rely on duct tape and employ a world of patience until we could take care of these problems once off trail.

Another major issue we are working to resolve is our weight loss. Patti has lost 8-pounds and I have lost 14. According to a calorie-burn calculator I found online Patti and I are likely burning around 5000 calories per day of hiking, well more than we can take in. So, we are constantly fighting weight loss and keeping up our energy. To this end, we are looking for better and more calorie-filled foods along with rich proteins. As an example, Cliff Bar Protein Builder bars carry 400-plus calories. Compared to the Nature Valley brand bars we were using, we more than doubled the calorie counts for our breakfasts by making this one change alone.

As we headed south on the trail, we saw and met many of this year’s thru-hikers. At first, we saw what one hiker described as the “elite” – those that hiked the Sierra Nevada Mountains as they approached it. We also met many people who jumped ahead of the Sierra Nevada and bounced back to the Sierra once the snow had mostly melted. Then, we started seeing hikers who started later in the season, finished the Sierra but did so only after the winter season had all but ended. Either way, Patti and I both hold a lot of respect for thru-hikers, no matter how they do it. It’s a great accomplishment ether way.

About Pace

Patti is 5’1”. I’m 5’11”. We did some testing (we have plenty of time :)) and found that for every 100 strides I make, Patti has to make 140 strides to cover the same distance, a remarkable difference. This has led to a lot of our time on trail spent separately. No matter how I try to modify my pace to match Patti’s, I gain speed over time and end up well ahead of her. If Patti tries to keep pace with me, she wears out and then falls behind, then, too. She does carry more endurance though and can hike beyond my stopping point. We are still working on how to make things work but right now we spend a lot of our time on trail hiking alone.

We will continue updating our progress as we are able. We don’t often have service. But when we do, I’ll update our progress.

As always, thanks for following along. Pictures on Instagram

Lynn Shapiro

 

 

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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

Alexa’s Hike

This is Alexa’s first post from the trail.

https://thetrek.co/week-one-with-team-foot-stuff/

Week one with Team Foot Stuff

We’re five days into our six month trek, and we’re loving every minute of it.

Okay, maybe not the extreme hiker pains, and the occasional steep up or down hill, but the bad moments on the trail make the good ones that much better.

On day one we ended up connecting with a group of hikers at Lake Morena, mile 20. There were about thirty hikers at the camp ground that night but a group of nine of us seemed to have an immediate connection. Brooke and Don we had hiked with from mile one starting that day, and with their energy we found it easy to get all the way to Lake Morena. The remaining six had started about an hour after us, and we met them as we shared beers and goodies from a trail angel, Rod, who was staying for a week at Lake Morena to give back to the hiker community.

The first week has been a good array of emotions- lots of pain in various areas of our body, tons of laughs amongst our group self named “Team Foot Stuff”, and incredible views and scenery along the entire way. It’s hard not to enjoy every moment of the trail, it’s already chalking up to be an incredible experience.

We’re resting at mile 77 today in Julian. We’ll try to reach Warner Springs by Monday and take a nero. Until then, happy trails!

 

Alexa & Cooper’s Thru-Hike

Alexa & Cooper’s Thru-Hike

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My Summer Job

When our adult daughter told us months ago she and her boyfriend were going to thru-hike the PCT, I don’t think there could have been anyone more excited. A question she was often asked was, “What do your parents think?” “They’re joining me!”  We hope to hike with them in June for two weeks in the Sierras, as long as the unusually high snow pack doesn’t alter our plans.

As much as we wanted to, we restrained ourselves from giving unsolicited advice, most of the time that it is. We wanted her to have her own experience in preparing for the trail. We certainly will be living vicariously, if not with some jealousy, the trail life through her. When she asked if I would do her resupply, there was absolutely no hesitation in saying a resounding “Yes!” I actually felt honored to be a part, any part, of her experience.

A friend recently commented in an email, “…how cool is it when our kids take up a passion that is already dear to our own hearts, thus confirming that 1) the apple doesn’t fall from the tree and 2) maybe we didn’t do such a bad job after all.”  Indeed, maybe we didn’t do such a bad job.

Alexa and Cooper volunteered at the Earth Fair on Sunday afternoon. Since we were already half way to Campo, we fed them a “last supper” and dropped off a giddy Alexa and Cooper at the Southern Terminus that night. Their plan was to camp overnight and start early the next morning. At no time did I have any fears of her adventure. But suddenly, out of nowhere, on the drive home, I felt fear. What if she gets robbed? What if, more likely, she gets attacked by a pack of wolves? Where did those thoughts come from? Maybe I hadn’t done my due diligence as a mom to worry. Fortunately those thoughts were short lived. I have read the predictions that because of the unusally high snow pack, more are expected to drop out this year in the walk to Canada.  There is no shame in that if that happens to anyone.  She is a strong, goal driven, independent young woman and can handle herself well. But either way, we are immensely proud of her.

We will repost her post. She was accepted as a guest blogger on TheTrek. You can follow her along as well here:

https://thetrek.co/author/alexa-shapiro/