Wednesday, March 14, 2012

14 March: Exercise, packing, planning ~

Charles here.

The days are flying by as we prep for our thru-hike (and we can't wait, can't wait, can't wait). Geez, if we didn't have to work full time, get the house packed up, get the house rented (which means keep it "show ready"), get our entire household into storage, it would be a lot easier getting in our hikes each day. The logistics involved in launching this great journey – in the middle of careers – is considerable. Unpaid leave of absence for me (subtract half a year's pay, before spending any money). Sean taking on no new publishing work. Christo getting a leave of absence from his restaurant. Affording all this has required a year of working lots of extra hours, and a year of living in "austerity mode" [which has meant low cost everything we can: I've been cooking up giant batches of cheap "peasant food" (like beans & cornbread, chili, thai soups, lo mein, fried rice, feijoada, pasta, etc.), we've been buying box wine (help me), and rummaging about for the cheapest tequila and gin (double help me!). Our wardrobes are getting a bit frayed from no upgrades, and the cars are suffering]. But how exciting seeing things fall into place!

In the meantime, Christo is putting final touches on his honor's thesis while working up a storm at The Bitter Bar. Sean is finishing out work on all his remaining contracts writing up a flurry of articles, book outlines, and composing curricular materials for publishers.

Sean is hiking about six days a week, Chris and I are managing four days a week. We put on our backpacks loaded up to 35 lbs and hike for three hours on trails in the foothills and mountains west of Boulder (rolling trails climbing up to 6,300 and down to 5,600 ft elevation) -- doing between 7 and 8 miles a day. Not optimal for preparing for the PCT, we know ~~ but we've been climbing and hiking for a whole year, so our legs are pretty strong. Our feet have toughened up considerably -- but probably nowhere near what we'll need. During August, September, and October before the snow set in we were hiking 2,600 vertical feet up Green Mountain and up Bear Peak ending at elevations above 8,000 ft. Then trail running down (no packs those months).

Here's a snapshot of the trail on Mt. Sanitas where most of our hiking begins ---------------->

Over the summer we did a couple of backpack trips to try out gear and mileage. The second backpack trip on the Colorado Trail (section hiking) we managed 20 mile days without problem.

Now we're wading through all the fun of figuring out where to do mail drops and UPS deliveries. Though  we're planning on buying most of our resupplies along the way, some items appear to be difficult to find -- like  powdered whole milk (Nido). I know we can order along the way and have items like this delivered, so we're not worried.

March is warm right now -- temps in the 70s. But last month when it was in the teens with snow on the ground, we kept getting in our hikes. It's going to be warm until next Tuesday, when we get back toward freezing. No worries, though.

What else for preparation? I've lowered my base weight by shedding 25 lbs of body fat. I'm a not-quite-svelt 180-185 right now -- :-) -- still trying for 175 by the time we reach the Southern Terminus.

Sean's lowered his base weight the same way -- getting down to between 170-175 personal weight right now. Christo, on the other hand, is trying to boost his weight. He's strong and slender -- and a little worried he'll be having to walk w/ a peanut butter jar in his hands to keep his energy up on the PCT.

But none of us have managed ultralight yet in our packing. We're at about 20 lbs base weight, which is short of the mark -- though way lower than we've ever done in previous backpack trips. Oh well, guess we'll learn en route.

Here's another pic of the terrain we're hiking in (photo was taken in the late summer when there was still green in the valleys). It looks a bit duskier now.



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