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Jack and Barb
Begins: Apr 17, 2011
Date: Thu, Mar 31st, 2011
Entry Visits: 2,821
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Odds and Ends
Tying up some loose ends with this page - if you are planning a thru-hike, you may find it useful info. Some of the things we overlooked in the past and some things that we should elaborate on:
1) The Sports Drink: Thanks to "Malto" (this guy is the real deal) He is planning on doing the entire PCT in less than 100 days, averaging 30 mpd + and living off food (of course) and a maltodextrine sports drink. He recently did a 40 mile day as a TRAINING HIKE! Yikes! We are so humbled (do follow his journal here). Anyway, the maltodextrine drink is the way to go, trust us, trust Malto! Buy a 50 lb bag of malto and load up your ziplocks! We are going with 2 zips each per day. Each zip has 1/2 cup of maltodextrine, 1/4 teaspoon of electrolyte mix (which consists of 1/8 tsp of Balance Salt, (available at Walmart) and 1/8 tsp of Ca/Mg Complex. We chose to use the "Mezotrace" brand powder as it is less expensive and packs more Ca and Mg than other brands.
Here is what we did:
1) Mix equal volumes (not weight) of Balance Salt and Mezotrace Ca/Mg (like 1/2 cup of each) into a plastic bag - shake it thoroughly to mix up the ingredients.
2) Take a "Snack Size" ziplock (6 1/2 X 3 1/4) and add 1/2 cup of Maltodextrine, to that add 1/4 teaspoon of electrolyte mix (that would be 1/8 tsp of Balance Salt and 1/8 tsp of Ca/Mg)
3) Add a flavoring agent: Our favorites are Gatoraid Lemon/Lime (you can get this in 76 oz cannisters, powdered), Propel Mandarin Orange and Country Time Lemonade, (the latter, available in a 5 lb cannister). We used this flavoring agent at 1/2 - 3/4 recommended dosage (personal preference). So, when we loaded our zips, we first put in 1/2 cup of Malto, then 1/4 tsp of electrolyte, then added one scoop (or whatever is called out) of flavoring. Then you roll it up tightly, seal the zip then put a piece of scotch tape over the bag to make sure it won't open in transit. We then packaged 10 loaded zips in a big one gallon zip - this will supply one person for five days. We plan to open one at about 10 am and the second at 2pm and also alternate with plain water throughout the day. Each packet will supply about 300 calories of complex carbs (that will be 600 calories for our daily requirements, add more calories for the flavoring agent). We had a great assembly line going. Jack would load the three elements, Barb would seal, and tape the bags. We were knocking out 10 bags every five minutes. (still, we loaded 600 bags, so actual load time is about 5 hours - and, NO, we didn't load 600 bags all at one time!)
Each packet weighs about 3.7 oz and packs about 380 calories, so you are carrying about 100 calories per ounce of weight. For five days (10 packets) you will be looking at 2.3 lbs of Malto.
Forgot to add, we use this stuff for all our training hikes. Had to purchase a second 50 lb bag!
2) The Food! This was the most difficult planning item for the whole trip. It is pretty simple to gather your gear, tents, sleeping bags, stove, and packs but, what to eat? Will we get sick of eating that? Is it easy to fix? How much will it cost per person? How nutritious is it? We did a lot of dehydrating and we researched what others have done and this is what we are planning on doing.
1) We found Mountain House meals at Costco for 4 bucks per two person serving. We know the Mountain House brand and use them on our "short" trips. The Costco special consists of Beef Stroganoff, Meat Lasagna, Chicken Teriyaki, and Beef Stew. Pretty good variety, we like them all and so, we plan to mix them up with some of our "homemade" meals. (update: Over the period of the hike, we shifted to a menu of MH meals exclusively for dinners)
2) We dehydrated jars and jars of spaghetti sauce. Once dehydrated, we pulverized the "sauce pizzas" using our coffee grinder. We also cooked and dehydrated about 20 pounds of very lean hamburger (for Barb, we will call it "ground sirloin" - only from reputable sources mind you.) So,we have about 30 killer spaghetti dinners. We also made a great chicken stew dinner in the crock pot and dehydrated it. For the remaining meals, we plan to mix dehydrated veges, a protein source (meat, chicken cheese) to pasta roni, mashed potatoes or a rice base. Our vege choice is Just Tomatoes. We like the "Hot Just Veggies" and broke down the larger container into more friendly user packs (vacuum sealed but you can simply put them in a zip). They rehydrate well. We found chicken packets (Valley Fresh or Bumble Bee). This will be a great addition to a variety of meal options using mashed potatoes with veggies and gravy or rice (we are using the instant Brown rice variety). Big drawback on the chicken though, it is a mere 35 calories per ounce. Also on our dinner list are some mighty fine soups from Bear Creek. Try the cheddar broccoli. Each resupply box will include 8 oz of Olive Oil. That is 2 Tbsp per person per day (for 5 days). Add it to the dinner, add 240 calories per person. Dessert, instant puddings, whipped up with 1/2 cup of powdered milk (Nido), add 200 more calories pp. 4/25 Note on the spaghetti sauce - we lost it all! Vacuum sealed each packet of pulverized sauce, tested some recently. When we opened the vacuum bag, the powder had turned into a brick - it was so hard, you could hammer a nail into a 2X4 with it. Would it rehydrate though we thought? Yeah, but it took 24 hours of sloshing around in a zip lock. So, all the spaghetti dinners are out and we have shifted to boxed pasta roni with hamburger. It will work, just seal the powder in a simple ziplock bag. We sure are glad we tested some beforehand - then again, we could bean the bears with it.
We are planning on only one hot meal per day. Breakfast will be either granola or cereal with Nido (powdered milk, available at Walmart) or high carb breakfast bars. One bar we like is available from Costco, made by Country Choice, called "Oatmeal on the Run" - Organic, high in complex carbs, quite tasty, like a big chewy oatmeal cookie, and each 2 oz bar packs 230 calories. 15 Bars for under 9 bucks (Costco price). Note: These are no longer available as far as we can tell.
We are going to munch our way throughout the day on Lara Bars (note: not Luna, but Lara), and the Kirkland (read Costco) individual packet of Trail Mix (perfect, 2.5 servings per packet - which means one serving per person), plus a variety of fruit/nut mixes, Pay Day bars, Snicker's (did you know they have a dark chocolate variety?) M&M's (also try the new dark chocolate pieces!) etc. and one of our favorites, Peanut Butter Pretzels from Trader Joe's . Then what ever meets our fancy in the towns where we resupply - Barb is a big fan of Hot Tamales. Likely high on our list will be the "salt delivery systems" - Pringels, Doritos, and Fritos. Remember, this is, for us, a series of trips from town to town. We will let you know how the food addictions pan out.
Here is a sobering fact: If you plan on consuming 4,000 calories per day and you get 500 at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 1000 at dinner then you will need an additonal 2,000 during the day. If you subtract 600 cal for the Malto, then you still will require 1,400. Now if each "treat" is say 300 calories, that will be about 5 per day. For two people that will be 10 per day. Multiply 10 times 120 days and you see you will need to consume 1,200 snack items during your trip. YIKES MAN! We are still amassing snack items. It is likely we will go in short and buy a few unique treats at the stores along the way. This will give us more latitude and the option for more variety.
Wondering what box size to use? We are going with 12X12X12 for most of the segments (this is for two people). The Lone Pine pickup (two bear cans and 9 days of food) will be packed into two 16X12X12 boxes. How will all that stuff fit into our packs? - oh the stories we will tell!
We read somewhere that for some, "The Trail is between the Towns" and for others, "The Towns are between the Trail". We admit, we are (at least at this moment in time,) in the second category. We are looking at this as a cruise, (know it will not be, but wish it to be). Each segment is just that, a segment for us to complete. Hopefully, we can get to the next town - eat hearty meals, sleep in a real bed, take a shower, and recharge for the next segment.
Which is a great segue into our initial plan - bumping two cars up the road from Campo to Warner Springs. We are planning on slack-packing the first 110 miles. For those of you not familiar with the term, "Slack-Packing" is basically carrying a day pack with water, a little food and a bit of survival gear (like a headlamp and jacket). At the end of the day, you will reach your car, your well supplied campsite or a town. So, the plan is in place. We are expecting to do the first 20 mile leg on April 18th, then followed by 13, 10, 16, 18, 23 and finally a short 9 mile jaunt taking us to Warner Springs on Easter Sunday. This will give us an opportunity to test shoes, electronics, water consumption, stoves, clothing and our physical abilities.
Then, four days off and we are on to the party (called the "KO" or "Kick-Off") at Lake Morena. We did make a very silly video by the way which we hope will be shown at the film festival - and, we will post it here on April 30th, for all to see! Stay tuned.
Sunday, May 1st, the real deal starts from Warner Springs. Hopefully we will have enough head-start on the pack and avoid the conga line of hikers.
First Aid Kit - Usually overlooked and many times inadequate, this is what we are bringing.
Ibuprofen - In addition to the vitamin I we will be taking daily this is a major anti-inflammatory - by prescription only, 600 mg
Cipro - a super antibiotic (prescription). We use it in Mexico to kill off Montezuma's Revenge. One 500 mg pill is all it takes!
Flagyl - Good for giardia and other protozoan related illnesses. Don't expect we will use but good to carry.
A couple of pain killer tabs, left over from Barb's dental surgery (Vicodin)
Imodium (4 pills)
Aspirin (8 pills)
Benadryl (8 pills)
Sudafed (4 pills)
Electrolyte tabs (10)
a couple of 4X4's (gauze pads), some kling, a dozen bandaids, a few butterfly bandages
Some foot care product like moleskin, spendco, tender touch food pads or new skin (undecided)
tape, tweezers, needle
4) Electronics: We are ashamed to have to tell you about all the "stuff" we are carrying here but remember Jack was an electrical engineer. We have a smart phone. Then there is our SPOT. Our GPS, Garmin Oregon 450, loaded with all of Halfmile's data and the Western States 24K topos - Jack saved only the strips surrounding the trail to the device (we are not using the SD card - don't recommend it either as it falls out easily when you change batteries). Everything fit in the internal memory with room to spare. Then there is our little AM/FM radio (4 oz), uses two AA cells and runs forever (AM bounces off the ionisphere in the evening and you can get stations as far away as Salt Lake City). We each have a camera. Barb has a Panasonic DMC-TS1 (newer model is the TS3). Jack is taking a Cannon Elph 300HS. Then we each have a Sansa Clip mp3 player (1.3 oz with buds) for some energetic music when we are slogging up some steep hill in 100 degree desert heat.
We have to figure out how to keep all this stuff charged up. The phone has a very lightweight AC charger that feeds 5 volts out via a USB port. The Sansas can use this USB charger as well. The cameras will each need their respective AC chargers (weigh 2 oz each). The SPOT uses very little power and will get maybe one set of fresh batteries at the halfway point. And the Garmin and the radio use AA cells. We purchased qty 40 Lithium AA cells from Amazon and have two batteries going into every other resupply box. We bet some of you veterans out there are shaking your head - lose the radio, lose the GPS, use your phone for navigation or none at all. Yep, if we can lose the Garmin then we can save a whopping 1/2 pound. One set of batteries in the radio will run it for 100 hours, But, read on...
5) Navigation: With compadre PCT hiker Lisa F, we were able to set up our Droid X smartphone with a program called Backcountry Navigator Pro and loaded up all of Halfmile's tracks and waypoints. The maps come free from MyTopo but seem to take forever to download. We also have the Garmin with the 24 K maps and halfmile's data. Would really like to leave the Garmin at home but not yet sold on the Droid as a true navigation device. We will be testing it more on section A. We also are carrying halfmiles printed maps. Each set is broken down into their respective section, marked up at the top and stapled. Sections will be included with the respective resupply box. We have also cut up Yogi's PCT handbook and the PCT Data Book for each section - also included in the food boxes. Damn, if we get lost with all this stuff, we don't deserve to be out there! (Update: We are taking the Garmin as the Droid runs through the batteries too quickly). Editor Note, 2015: Latest techonology! Put Halfmile's App on your (smart) cell phone.
6) Training: Well, this was a no-brainer. To train for something like this, you walk. You walk some more. You put some weight on your back, you walk even some more. You walk up hills and down hills and then you walk some more. We took an approach like we did when we trained for marathons. Start small (like 3 mile walks) every other day. Do some laps on the stairs ('cause we don't have any hills around here). Increase the distance gradually. Do one long walk every week (we picked Sunday). Slowly increase the short walks (on say Mon, Wed, and Friday) up to about 10 miles. Increase the long walk from 6 to 8 to 10 and if you have time to fit it all in, up to about 15 miles (twenty would be good but not critical). That should set you up for a reasonable comfortable 20 miler right off the couch.
The big problem with this is it takes a long time, like a good part of your day. Yesterday, we went 15 miles. It took us 5 hours. If you can't find the time to train and you are in reasonable shape, don't worry too much. Just start your hike out slow, like 10 miles on the first few days, then slowly up your mileage over the first 2-3 weeks. Take rest days often. You will be in super shape before you know it. Just don't overdo it. Oh, and use your trekking poles. Push yourself up the hills with them, your triceps (muscle under your arm below the bicep) should be sore and tired after a hill training segment.
7) The hiker card. We heard about these and thought it would be fun to have one. Simply a picture-business card with our names, journal link and email address. We loaded our info on the back of the card and left a space to write thank you notes underneath. We have handed out a bunch already. Friends, relatives, people in grocery lines, store clerks, strangers - It's fun! If you see us, ask for one. We ordered them online through Vista Print, 500 cards for $ 30.
8) Our greatest fear - Remember that? We discussed that topic back in December. Other than physical injury, our greatest fear now is the raging rivers. As you know, this year's snowpack is close to record levels. As the warm weather comes, that snow will be melting. Ideally, we want some really hot weather from now until June - put a big dent in the snowpack. Then, when June rolls around, we want at least a couple of weeks of really cold weather. That will slow the melt, firm up the snow and make life a lot more easier for us.
We really hate swimming in cold water!
Jack And Barb Take On The PCT
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