Finish classes: check
Finish thesis: check
Receive diploma: check
Pack up house in Salem: check
Pack up food for the PCT:…..
As I have been tying up the many loose ends that come with the completion of an undergraduate degree, planning, packing and excitement for the PCT has taken a backseat over the last few months. However, with the many requirements fulfilled, the only thing between me and starting the PCT is putting the finishing touches on our food boxes, a 22 hour drive south and mentally gearing up for days upon days of walking.
I’ve accumulated much of my hiking gear over the years thus am lucky enough not to have to spend much money on a pack or tent or many of the other camping necessities. The big bucks get spent however, on purchasing approximately 150 days worth of food. Especially when we will be consuming, on average, between 3,000 and 4,000 calories a day. Carter and I have been making frequent trips to Costco and Winco so as to slowly chip away at assembling the many meals, rather than having to do it in one fell swoop, or one big debit card charge.
We’ve gotten it down to a pretty straightforward food formula. Our breakfasts are one of three options: oatmeal (with various flavorings and toppings) cream of wheat/grits or poptarts. Thanks to Gus’s overestimation on his poptart order, we are living large in the realm of poptarts and the various flavors that we can choose from.
Lunch consists of either cracker and cheese and meat, or tortilla and peanut butter and honey. Dinners are mac and cheese ($0.42 a box at winco!) powdered potatoes and meat, a rice and beans mix or pasta mix and various dried vegetables from my Mom. Various trail mixes and energy bars make up the rest of the snacks throughout the day. All in all, it is considerable amount of food to purchase, re-bag and box up. But an undertaking that I know will all be well worth it on the trail.
<20 days worth of energy/candy bars
Mary’s Peak, > highest point in Oregon’s coastal range at 4, 097 feet (photo cred: Abby Clark)
Training for the trail has been a bit more difficult in Salem than it seems to have been for Gus in hilly Tacoma. Besides the fact that I have spent a disproportionate amount of time in the library of late, Salem is hands down one of the flattest cities that I have ever been in. I have been breaking in my Saloman trail runners on the stairs in our university stadium, and have been able to get reaccustomed to walking with a weighted pack on a couple of hilly excursions this month.
Highest point in Oregon’s Coastal range at 4, 097 ft.: Mary’s Peak.
But for the most part, my school of thought is that training will happen on the trail. And there really is no way to prepare for the most difficult challenges-extreme heat and extensive sustained walking-that we will encounter in the beginning. Those are bridges that we can only cross when we get to them.
All in all, we are as ready as we can be at this point. Tomorrow morning at 8 am, Gus, Carter, my dad and I will cram our three backpacks into the rocket box on top of the car, squish six bags of resupply food into the caboose (which our awesome dad is going to drop off on his drive home), and then squeeze our four bodies into the car for the 22 hour drive down to Campo, California, where we will finally, after many months of preparing, begin the PCT!