Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail has been a mutual dream of ours ever since our united love of backpacking began. Time transpired and life dissolved years into seconds. We got engaged, married, searched for a home, settled into careers. Our dream remained a dream until tragedy struck. Nicholas lost his younger brother unexpectedly April of 2017. With death, comes mourning, questioning, anger, despair, but also the acknowledgment of life. Life is not a guarantee, just how finishing the trail is not a guarantee. Hiking the PCT is our way to find peace, to fulfill a dream, to live–truly live.
I was also laid off from my job as a teacher the same April, just God putting the pieces in place, I suppose. Thus began our preparations for our journey on the PCT.
We gradually replaced our heavier gear over the past year. We focused on the big three: pack, sleeping bag, and tent. We both got Zpacks Arc Blast backpacks, a huge difference in weight from Nicholas’s Greggory and my Osprey. (Shout out to my parents for hooking me up with my pack!)
Sleeping bags/pad: Western Mountaineering UltraLite bag and Sea to Summit Ultralight pad for me. Sea to Summit Spark I bag and Thermarest Z lite pad for Nicholas.
Tent: We scored a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2, 1 lbs 15 oz, for cheap, which will be our primary tent, and for the Sierras, we may switch out to our Hilleberg Anjan 2 Person Tent.
Cooking: We each got an Evernew Pasta Pot, a whopping 3.4 oz, Sea to Summit spork, and a shared MSR Pocket Rocket 1 stove. We are sharing a Sawyer Squeeze water filter and bringing our water bladders, a Camelbak and a Platypus.
Navigation: Guthook app on phones.
For the real nitty-gritty, clothing, technology, check out my full gear list below by clicking the link to my lighterpack breakdown.
This was a tricky one. After reading several blog posts and articles last year, I was fully convinced to only have 12 maildrops for our food resupply. For those who are unfamiliar, a maildrop is when a thru-hiker packs boxes of food prior to leaving and has someone mail them to the towns they will visit. The problem that I kept running into was the repeated caveat of food allergies or dietary restrictions. Each article warned that if you have a food allergy, it’s safer to send food than depend on small grocery stores or gas stations. I couldn’t ignore the repeated advice as I have celiac disease, an allergy to gluten-containing foods. As a result, Nicholas agreed and thought we should do a maildrop-focused resupply strategy. We packed resupply boxes for 21 of the 28 towns we will be hiking into. Each box contains primarily my food for an entire three- to six-day stretch and lunch/dinners for Nicholas, as he will select his snacks while in town.
We addressed the boxes to towns and maildrops using Yogi’s Pacific Crest Trail Handbook 2017-2018 (a super handy resource). We wrote send-out dates to ensure our packages arrive two weeks prior to us, and I drew a leaf on all four sides of our boxes to make them noticeable when we pick them up in town.
As an overview and planning tool, I constructed a Google Spreadsheet to map out our stops, distance between towns, estimated mileage per day, estimated date of arrival, notes on post office hours, and places to stay.
Nicholas decided to do Crossfit twice a week for six months to gain functional strength. I have been going to the gym three to five times a week to strength train and to perform physical therapy exercises for my knees. I also have been taking a walk outside every other day.
No matter the outcome, we are both humbled to have the opportunity to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Life is too short, too unexpected, too valuable to not attempt your dreams. We fly out April 7, 2018, and will be starting in Campo, CA, going north towards Canada.
We are coming for ya, PCT.