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Brian "Gadget" Lewis
Begins: Jul 12, 2017
Date: Fri, Jul 7th, 2017
Daily Distance: 0
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Chunk Hike in NorCal on the PCT
I've hiked a fair bit with friends from Wisconsin, Carl and Ed. When they said they were hiking a piece of the PCT in NorCal this year, that sounded good to me, and to my wife too, so the four of us will start hiking from Burney Falls (using Halfmile maps about mile 1417) and plan to end at Callahan's lodge just south of Ashland Oregon, about mile 1716. So just about exactly 300 trail miles total. I call this a "chunk" hike, as it's bigger than a "section", and I'm not fond of the term LASH ("Long Assed Section Hike"). It's not the posterior reference that I object to, rather it just sounds nasty, reminiscent of Snidely Whiplash. I would rather think of myself as Dudley Do-Right --- or at least I aspire to his intellectual level. Anyway, we plan to hike about 300 miles.
Carl and Ed will fly here on July 10th, we'll drive to Burney Falls on the 11th, and start hiking from there on the 12th. We anticipate finishing sometime in early August. We don't plan on really big miles, partly as we'll need some time on trail to get stronger, tougher (meaner, leaner, smellier, etc). Partly just because my friends reckon they have nothing to prove and want a trip that they can enjoy. So we might do a 20 mile day or two and some in the upper teens, and then we'll have some single-digit days getting in to towns and so forth, but our average mileage will be low by thru-hiker standards. By design. Unless I can talk them into slightly more mileage per day as we go along. We'll see.
I've got my pack pretty much put together and have a pretty decent base weight for this, a little under 13 pounds. Since we won't start with hiker hunger, the per-day amount of food shouldn't be too bad (too heavy), but we'll be doing shorter distances and thus still carrying a lot of food weight starting each stretch. Turns out I'm carrying about 1-1/2 pounds of food per day for the first stretch, which I think will turn out to be on the high side. I'm not starting out really overweight, however, or rather, while I have some city pudginess, it's less so than before some other trips I've done, so I could end up feeling hungry in as little as two weeks, more likely three (?). I expect I'll be taking in a lot of calories by the end of the trip and will sadly have to work at dialing it back when the trip ends. Such are the hazards of hiking.
Speaking of hikng hazards, I read today that there's a fire a little ways after Etna ("Island fire" in the Marble Mountain wilderness) that started June 26. It's currently about 5 miles off of the PCT around mile 1610, not currently expected to force a closure of the PCT but ... these things can change. Watching for and dealing with fires is part and parcel of hiking the PCT in California and --- I'm sorry to say --- increasingly becoming an issue in Oregon and Washington too. Part of the adventure, I guess! Ed tells me that he read that there's some bear activity he read about too somewhere along there, but I'm not concerned about that. Fire, heat, bugs, and who knows, maybe some lingering snow in places as there was quite a lot of snow this winter. So pretty much typical issues to consider and hopefully just shrug off as we go.
We plan to resupply at three points: Castella, a hitchhike into Etna, and at Seiad Valley. I had planned to just resupply from whatever food was available for sale at each of these places, but my friends are sending boxes and so Ann (my wife) was inclined to send boxes for us too. So we're sending boxes with some food and other stuff to Castella and Seiad Valley. Not Etna as I believe it has a better store. We'll still buy some of our food in the local stores in Castella (Ammeriti's) and Seiad Valley (by the RV park), partly because I want to be able to make a "how much total food do we need" decision on the spot, and partly because I want to put at least a little money into the cash registers of those places that are important for PCT hikers. Especially so as we're sending our boxes right to the stores there --- kind of rude IMO to pick up a box full of food in a food store and not buy anything there.
Anyway, I think my pack weight starting out will be about 25 pounds or so, roughly half of that being food (maybe 10 pounds) and a liter of water. In places we might have to haul more water --- it's going to be a lot of heat and sunshine --- but fortunately I think not too much water will be needed right out of each resupply point.
I'm not carrying a folding keyboard this time, so my journal entries should be mercifully shorter than they might otherwise be. And I won't update often --- it's possible I'll have cell reception to upload journal entries (but not photos) more frequently, but the only place I'm sure I'll be able to upload from will be the town of Etna (a little more than halfway into our trip), maybe at Seiad Valley (a little more than 3/4 of the way into the trip) and at the end of the trip. So FYI on that.
Carl and Ed are great companions; I've hiked other sections of the PCT with them, as well as a piece of the Florida Trail. My wife (Ann) is a great trail companion too. This should be a hoot!
Gadget's Trail Journal
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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