Monday, February 24, 2014

FAQ about the PCT, Part Two

If you don’t know what the PCT is, or even if you do, you should check out FAQ about the PCT, Part One! I’ll wait.

There. Did you enjoy it? Do you think I’m crazy? You’re in good company. There’s no way I would undertake something like this on my own, but I would follow my husband to the ends of the earth, and if the ends of the earth include an awesome hiking trail that winds through 2,600 miles of breathtaking wilderness, that ain’t too bad.

Now, without further ado, here’s another round of questions that I often get…

Q: When are you leaving and when will you come back?
A: We have a flight booked for April 19th, but we’re going to spend Easter and a couple days with my sister in San Diego before hitting the trail. We’re hoping to attend the official kick-off date on April 25th. We should finish the trail in mid to late September, and then we’ll find our way to Portland and stay for a few weeks, leaving our return to land somewhere in mid to late October.

Q: What will you be eating and how will you carry it?
A: We will be eating mostly meals that we’ve dehydrated and packaged ourselves, which (hopefully) will include pasta, mashed potatoes, chili, rice, hummus, chicken, and beef, supplemented with lots of olive oil, peanut butter, parmesan cheese, and Snickers bars. We’re currently working on packing our resupply boxes, which we will leave with my parents, who will send them to general delivery at post offices along the trail as we go. This way we’ll always have a supply of staple food, plus whatever we want to buy when we’re in town.

Q: Will you be able to keep your townhouse?
Buford Mountain, MO— I wish we could hike here more often.
A: Sadly, no. There’s no possible way we could afford to pay rent on a house we aren’t living in. We’ll be moving out pretty soon.

Q: Are you quitting your jobs?
A: Nope, but neither of us will be working during that time. Zach just got approved for a leave of absence, and I will be able to jump right back into my editing job when we get home.

Q: What are you doing to train for this?
A: We walk a lot, although we should walk more. We’ve been carrying our backpacks lately. However, there aren’t any big hills or rugged terrain in our town (or anywhere close), so there’s no a whole lot we can do. Our best shot is to keep our bodies in shape and prepare our minds for dealing with the pain and soreness of hiking day in and day out.

Q: Is the trail safe?
A: Well, that depends on your definition of “safe.” I wasn’t able to find info about casualties on the PCT, but I know there have been some— a couple times caused by hikers getting caught unprepared in unexpected weather, but mostly from hikers getting hit by cars when they try to cross a road. To my knowledge, no one has died of crime or animal attacks on the PCT. We will be in constant danger of blisters, shin splints, turned ankles, rabid mosquitoes, and scrapes and bumps— but all in all, it’s not much more dangerous than going for a walk where you cross busy streets, as Zach and I do every day. 

Q: You’re going to take a bunch of photos, right?
A: We’ll try! We have a camera that isn’t terribly good, but it’s waterproof and shock-proof and Zach already owned it, so we’re gonna call it good enough.
Washington, 2010: this is how I looked after working eight
hours a day on a farm and not showering for two weeks.
It's really not as bad as you think.

Q: How will you afford to stay in hotels along the way?
A: This is generally asked by people who don’t seem to grasp the concept of a backpacking trail. Yes, we will be stopping by towns here and there, and I’m hoping we’ll have enough money to get a hotel once in a while (though that is a dim hope at this point), but we are going to be sleeping in our tent every night. 

Q: How will you shower?
A: We won’t.

Q: Ew! How can you go without a shower for that long?
A: Because we’re expecting not to. I’ve heard that you can count the hot showers on the PCT on one hand. We’ll wash up once in a while, but we will have to be at peace with our level of griminess. I’ve done this short-term while working on a farm. Once your standard of cleanliness goes down, you hardly miss the shower!

Did I forget any? Is there anything else you’d like to know?

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