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JackandBarb - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2011

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Jack and Barb
City: Encinitas
State: CA
Country: USA
Begins: Apr 17, 2011
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Mon, Oct 31st, 2011
Trip Distance: 2,656.7

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 2,613
Journal Visits: 387,856
Guestbook Views: 167,248
Guestbook Entrys: 482

Last PLB Location

Gear list Journal Plan

Pacific Crest Trail Map

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Hiker Card, at Mile 50, Garnet Peak near Mt. Laguna

More Important Information for Hikers

Some wrap up information.

Planning: A certain amount of planning is necessary to thru hike the PCT. Craig's PCT planner was an invaluable resource to give us an idea of distances, time and resupply spots. Our original plan had us arriving at Manning Park, BC on Sept. 22. Jack arrived on the 27th. Considering four days were used to travel back and forth on a flip, the plan turned out to be very accurate. See the plan link (in the box on the left) for projected and real dates.


Breakfast: We ate a cold breakfast every morning - either dry cereal with Nido (or powdered Soy Milk for Barb) or two Oatmeal on the Run bars. Never spent the time preparing a hot breakfast.

Lunch: Lots of PB&J sandwiches on tortillas or bagels, sometimes PB&J on "Run" bars, also, salami and cheese (but the cheese doesn't keep well in heat).

Dinner - Almost exclusively Mountain House meals for two (we devoured one each) - They are so simple, one doesn't want to cook after a lengthy hike. We got a great deal at CostCo - $ 4 each but you could only get Chicken Teriyaki, Beef Stew, Lasagna with Meat Sauce, and Beef Stroganoff. That was fine, we never tired of them. The lasagna leaves a sticky cheese mess on your spoon. It's hard to clean off. We each ate a two person meal for dinners. When packing these up on resupply day, tear them open, remove the oxidizer packet, squeeze all the air out and reseal them. They will now pack better.

Snacks: First, we had two Maltodextrine sport drink packets per day (each). One in the morning, the second in the afternoon. Rather than sip it, we would chug about 5 gulps (1/4 of the bottle) every hour or so. We wanted to consume a liter by noon and a second liter by 5 or 6pm. We always "rinsed" with fresh water after the malto. Snack bars: Jack consumed about 6-7 snack items per day (3-4 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon), Barb, 5-6. Our main snack items were: Snickers (dark choc the favorite), Peanut M&M's, Laura Bars (Cherry Pie and Pecan Pie are our favorites), Pay Days, Famous Amos Choc Chip cookies (2 oz, CostCo), Nut packets (2 oz, CostCo) - peanuts, almond, cashews, Kirkland Trail Mix (2.5 oz) from CostCo, regular M&M's (they have dark chocolate!). Occasionally there would be a surprise treat like a small bag of Cheez-Its, a tin of Pringles, a bag of Fritos (added these to meals too!), a Mounds bar etc. We never tired of any of this. Jack had one small cavity after returning home. Brush and floss your teeth!

Leftovers: Because Barb exited at Mammoth, we had about 30 Mountain House meals, a lot of pre-made packets of Malto (maybe 100 or more), about 30 snack food items (candy bars, laura bars etc), and 30 oatmeal on the run bars. We were able to resell the MH meals and donated the snacks and bars to a food bank. The malto will be slowly used over the next year or two.

Resupply: We had boxes of food and consumables shipped to us at every resupply point (33 in all). By purchasing in bulk and at discount stores, we believe that this is a less expensive method than buying along the way. Another advantage is that you don't have to shop when you get to a town - just pick up your box and kick back. The only items we did not use was the 8 oz bottles of olive oil and the dehydrated hamburger. We had them pulled.

You definitely should have a dependable person on the shipping end. Keep the boxes open until shipped. Have items added or taken out as you see fit. Your home contact should ship on the "two ahead resupply" interval. Example, four of your stops are Warner Springs, Idylwild, Big Bear and Wrighwood. When you reach Warner Springs, your shipper sends out your Big Bear box (Idylwild has already been sent). When you reach Idylwild, your shipper sends out the Wrightwood box. This should allow at least a week for your boxes to arrive. For East coast shipments, you may even go to a "three ahead resupply". We had other things in our boxes too. Pre measured packets of TP, batteries, a fresh disposable razor, soap piece (1/4 bar), shampoo (squirt in a small plastic bag), etc plus maps and guides for that section. We shipped our bear canisters (BV500 each) to Lone Pine and sent them home at Sonora (via a friend). We carried our ice axes from Warner to Mammoth. One disadvantage of this type of resupply is if you don't complete your hike, you will be saddled with lots of leftover food that you should not be eating (unless you are out there burning 4,000 calories per day). It should keep for a year or two and you likely can resell expensive items like the Mountain House meals.

Health:Barb is still having some back problems, not as bad as earlier - we are hoping it is not chronic. Her feet are mostly back to normal, no numbness. Jack's feet are still a mess but the numbness is slowly going away. Old calloused skin is peeling off as he is soaking them in Epson Salts 3X per week. Jack also has been hiking for the last two months with an inguinal hernia, no big deal but he will need an operation in the near future.

Jack: " When I saw the doc, I said 'Hey, check this out. I either have a hernia or there is an alien living in my intestines' He laughed and said "If any of my patients has an alien in their intestines, it would be you." I thought it might have been one of those dudes from "Fright night on the PCT".

I started the hike at 160 lbs, reached my lowest weight of the trip at Mammoth, 146 lbs and at Canada, weighed in at about 152. I am trying to resist the "hiker hunger" which lingers for weeks and, as of today am at the perfect weight of 154. My waist line was a 32 at the start and is now a 30 - (NICE!) but I can't wear my old pants without a tight belt now. Cholesterol levels are super low, blood pressure super low, and resting heart rate also very low - comes from good living and LOTS of exercise!

Barb: I also have a low bp and resting heart rate but, unlike Jack, I didn't experience much weight loss on the trip.

The Hiker Card (see image above): If you are keeping a journal, get hiker cards. You will meet so many interested people along the way and they will want to follow your journey. These cards are fun to have and are not very expensive. We chose a picture we shot while on a training hike in April and went online to Vista Print and in 30 minutes or so, had our order complete. We ordered 500 cards ($ 30) and used almost all of them. We had them at the kickoff and put 10 cards in every resupply box. Then, there was the limited edition of refrigerator magnets - you had to be a close friend or contest winner to appreciate them.

The SPOT (locator beacon): Our experience has demonstrated that you need a clear area to upload a SPOT signal. It rarely works in dense forests or narrow canyons. Sometimes it doesn't even work in open areas. When Barb was home and Jack was hiking, she would check his spot location every evening. Worst case, she would see a new location every other day but in one instance, from Sept 9th (8:03 pm) until Sept. 12 (7:47 pm ), a three day period, there was no uploaded signal. Jack sent one up each evening but they never were received. Barb started freaking out.

Barb: "All kinds of things start running through my mind. I though he might have fallen down a ravine or got washed away in a river, or worse. I was starting to think about going up there with some climber friends when I was so relieved to see the signal on Sept. 12th.

Jack: "This is something you don't think about before you go. If you have someone back home monitoring your progress via SPOT tell them not to worry if they don't get a signal for two to three days or so. Then, make it a point to send up a spot signal at least two times per day and, ideally whenever you are on a ridge top or mountain pass with a clear view of the sky. If you are carrying a smart phone, put your email down as a SPOT notifier and whenever you can get cell reception, check your emails to see how well your signals are doing. If you have no cell reception, there is no way to know if your SPOT signal went up. One thing you do not want is your contact at home calling out the troops when in fact you are perfectly fine. It is also a good idea to call in whenever you can. Sometimes I could get cell reception but not web access. During that time, I would call Barb and ask her how the SPOT signals were doing." With or without a SPOT, one recommendation is to call in to your contact at EVERY resupply point. That way, if the signal is not going up or you lost your device or the batteries died or whatever, they will not fret unless they do not hear from you at the resupply point.

Cell Phone: We each carried a Verizon Droid X. We had one wall charger with us and 2 spare batteries. The phones were off for most of the time, however, when Jack was travelling solo, he checked in whenever possible, sometimes as often as three times a day. Cell reception was spotty throughout the trip but there were times when a solid signal was obtained in some of the most unlikely places. There were also some instances when no "bars"were present yet a cell call was successful. At many other times, one could get a phone call through but no access to the web. Journal entries were occasionally made on the phone using Quickpoint (part of Quickoffice). This program seemed to work best and avoided the word-wrapping issues with gmail. Entries were saved and pasted directly to the journal pages when web access was available. There were also some instances when there was no cell coverage but we could tap into a local wi-fi network. We were not set up to use Skype but it would have been useful during these times (and in Canada).

Cost: How much does a trip like this cost? We can break it down into four categories: 1) Equipment and clothing costs 2) Food costs 3) Town costs and 4) Transportation costs.

1) Equipment: It is difficult to get an exact number. Packs were $ 200 each. We already had the sleeping bags. The tent was about $ 450 and all the other stuff estimated at about $ 1000 each (down jackets, rain suits, clothing, stove, headlamps, ice axes etc). You can certainly do it for much less, perhaps nothing if you have the clothing and gear already. (total: about $ 1500 each).

2) Food: Per person: Breakfasts 140 times $ 1.50 or ($ 200), Lunches 140 times $ 1.00, ($ 150), Dinners 140 times $ 4 ($ 560). Let's round this up to $ 1,000. Add in postage to send out the boxes, average $ 15 per person per box (times 33 boxes): $ 500. (note, postage is zip code dependent, you can estimate your postage costs after you pack up your first box). Total estimate $ 1,500.

3) Town costs: We stayed in hotels whenever we could and ate well at the restaurants. Since everything was put on a charge card, we have a good number for this.
Room costs about $ 1600 (one or two people) - about 20 nights. Food in towns (includes small quantities of alcohol): About $ 700 per person. With 33 resupply points, it averages to about $ 21 per stop. Town costs for one person: $ 2300.

4) Transportation costs will vary depending on your situation: Barb got a free ride home from Mammoth. Jack travelled on the cheap, hitched, and rode some buses to flip the N. Sierras ($ 110). Return home to San Diego from Canada: It cost $ 12 from Manning Park to Vancouver, then about $ 100 to Portland where JnB flew home. (air cost will vary). Since this number will vary, we won't add it to our total.

Grand total, not counting the transportation costs: About $ 5,300 per person. Seems like a lot of cash but divide that by 5 months and you are only looking at $ 1,000 per month. If you already have the gear, don't stay in any hotels along the way but still eat out, you could do it for about $ 2500. If you are travelling as a couple, you will see some reduced costs in towns (hotels) and postage.

It was a big year for the PCT. Not only was it one of the toughest, with record high snowpack and corresponding dangerous river crossings but two records were set. Scott Williamson set the record for the fastest assisted and unassisted PCT hike. He has now hiked the PCT 13 times and completed a SoBo hike this year in 64 days (41.1 mpd average). Another record was broken as Sunshine, an 11 year old girl hiked it with her father. She is reported to be the youngest person to thru-hike the PCT. You can read their journal here.

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Journal Photo

Jack And Barb Take On The PCT

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