The Trail Skeptic blog will chronicle my preparation of and participation in the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) through hike, which will begin sometime mid to late April, 2014. My target audience will be my family and friends, but access is open to the public should they glean useful information that will help them complete a long through hike. Information posted here will often come from other bloggers who shared their experience through hiking, along with my own variations on methods, equipment and guidance researched from the Web.
Other bloggers have written extensively and with great detail about the PCT, which I don’t want to repeat here. For details, search Google for Pacific Crest Trail and you will learn all you need to about the trail. Briefly, it is 2660 miles long and extends from the Mexican border in Campo, CA to Manning park, British Columbia, Canada. The hard part is that the trail seeks the crest of all the mountain ranges along the way; mostly the Sierras and Cascade ranges, but also goes through several desert areas.
This is my first through-hike. In fact, I have yet to complete a full week of hiking in my life. In fact, I have only completed one, two day hike within the last 15 or so years. During that time I have gained in the neighborhood of 50 lbs and have allowed my other physical activities to taper off to almost nothing, leaving me sick and atrophied both physically and mentally. At 60 years old, I decided that this path will now come to an end with this hike. I have taken a year off from work so that I can train for the hike. I’m living full time in a motorhome in the New Mexico state park system to hike my way to better fitness in mind and body. Needless to say, I’m behind schedule. I’ve only lost 10 lbs so far with 40 or so to go. I am experiencing knee pain that has stopped me from hiking while I deal with it. Hopefully, the pain will subside in the next few weeks as I ice, stretch it and take NSAIDS with lots of hard liquor. In the mean time, I can ride my Road bike, as it does not cause any knee pain.
I got my first inkling to doing a hike like this one after reading “A Walk In The Woods” by Bill Bryson, and later “Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed. Bryson’s book is about his hike of the Appalachian Trail. It’s a hilarious and witty read that I highly recommend even if you have no interest in hiking. Strayed’s book is more about bringing her life back from a very low point, something to which I can relate.
I have nearly completed my preliminary equipment list for the trail. I expect the list to evolve somewhat before the hike starts in April. It will be posted within a week or so. While I embrace the ultralite philosophy (extremely low pack weights, at the expense of comfort), I do like some comforts and I don’t mind carrying a few extra pounds. After all, I expect to lose a whole backpack worth of weight while on the trail. What’s an extra pound here or there? So far, my base weight is about 21 lbs while I’ll be carrying outside my pack another 9 lbs.
Others blog that they hope to see lots of animals on their hikes. While I love animals in general, I will be very happy to never see a bear, mountain lion, rattle snake or wild boar. I would love to add mosquitoes to that list, but that requires a miracle, and I am, after all, the Trail Skeptic. Miracles and other spooky phenomenon will not enter into this blog. Nature, while beautiful, is freaky mean, and I expect to be spending most of my effort preventing nature from killing or seriously harming me. And, I expect to cause great harm to more than a few mosquitoes along the way.
I hope you find this blog useful. You can subscribe to it by clicking the Subscribe button on any of the blog posts. This will send all new posts to your email, saving you the trouble of constantly checking to see if there is a new post. Don’t worry, there won’t be that many posts. Initially, I plan about one post per week. Once the PCT hike starts, I will attempt to blog daily, but only post when there is phone data access, probably once or twice a week. Comments are welcome and I will do my best to answer them in a timely fashion.
Thanks for being a part of this grand adventure!