Planning and Poptarting

(Gus)

Now we are a mere six weeks away from leaving to spend a day driving south to the Mexican border so that we can spend five months walking home. This means that the time we spend planning, packing, and testing various kinds of trail mix are increasing daily. So far I have mostly been focusing on planning our food and gear which basically means weekly trips to REI, Costco, and Winco. So far my favorite experience was looking at peoples’ expressions as they saw me push a cart past them containing over 400 Poptarts. I am going to love poptarts.

ma3ril

The copious amount of Poptarts led to the first Great Pyramid of Poptarts. This led to the demise of the Egyptian Empire.

As far as meal creativity goes, I have been rather unimpressive. I have four different dinners: macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, couscous, and spaghetti. Two breakfasts: Poptarts and Oatmeal. For snacks and lunch I will compile an assorted mix of chocolate, beef jerky, chocolate, energy bars, trail mix, chocolate, and maybe some more chocolate. The next step is to organize the food into boxes which we will send to post offices and resorts along the trail. We will resupply our food every 5-7 days so that we are never carrying too much weight and so that we always have food to eat since it has been scientifically proven that food is good for you (especially poptarts). During an average day we will both eat anywhere from 4,000-5,000 calories. That’s the equivalent of 30 bowls of lucky charms. The nice thing about backpacking is that one becomes so hungry that even tree bark would taste nice, so meal variety shouldn’t matter much.

Training for the trail is easy, it is extremely time consuming though. The best way to train for a long distance backpacking trip is to go walking with a backpack for a long time. It’s simple in that there aren’t interval routines or repetitions involved. I put on a backpack with weight in it and walk around until I am either too tired or hungry to walk more. This is what I call urban backpacking. The main difference between urban backpacking and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is a warm bed and many tubs of ice cream. Although some outdoor food companies produce freeze dried ice cream, it doesn’t compare to a personal container of Ben and Jerry’s. Yesterday I took a break from urban backpacking and went up and down Mt Si a few times, including once in the moonlight.

mail

Summit time- 2:06 A.M.

PCT: Promoting Community Transformation on the Pacific Crest Trail

(Elena)
In approximately 70 days, my brother Gus and I will be embarking on the long sought-after experience of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). We’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a family that puts hiking and other outdoor activities as a priority above most other things.
I didn’t always consider this a ‘lucky’ aspect of my family. Instead of the summer camps that my friends attended throughout elementary and middle school, parts of my summers were spent lugging a weeks worth of food and other survival necessities through various mountain ranges in Washington with my mom. While I yearned for the quintessential childhood visit to the so-called “happiest place on earth”, spring break of fifth grade consisted of piling hiking gear and the four members of our family into the car and driving down to the southwest so that we could spend the week sleeping in tents, eating dehydrated food and again, carrying that which would sustain us on our backs. Over the years however, through a little blood, much sweat, a fair amount of tears (and a lot of dirt!)  I grew to love being outside and the simple lifestyle it requires.
            The Pacific Crest Trail stretches from Mexico to Canada and extends 2,663 miles in total. It passes through three states, two mountain ranges, 25 national forests and seven state parks. It is roughly estimated that 180 out of 300 people who attempt to thru-hike the trail, finish each year. It is an adventure. It is an expedition. It is a challenge. And it is a goal.
            Both Gus and I hiked parts of the Washington section of the trail when we were younger with our parents, and since then had, independently of one other, created the same seemingly abstract, far-off goal of one day completing the PCT.
            The trail is usually completed in 4-6 months. There is a pretty specific time frame in which the PCT must be hiked, due to weather (very hot in the south in the summer) and snow-fall (sometimes the Sierras are impassable). Therefore, the trek requires much planning, and the ability to leave whatever responsibilities and duties one may have in order to devote the time and resources towards the completion of the trail.
            Fortuitously so, Gus and I are both graduating from our respective level of schooling (him: highschool and college for myself) this spring, so we thought, what better time to attempt the PCT than when we are both “in-between” so to speak? So, with much preparing and saving, we plan to begin this extensive hike in May of 2013.
            More importantly however, we want to make this trip expand beyond our own growth, enjoyment and learning. We recognize the honor and privilege that we possess in our ability to have this experience. We want to make this trek meaningful for more than just ourselves, friends and family.
            We have partnered with Tacoma-based not-for-profit organization, Etta Projects, in order to raise awareness and funding for projects in rural villages in Eastern Bolivia. They believe in promoting positive change through sustainable development and partner with Bolivian communities to identify, prioritize, and implement sustainable solutions to the health, education, and economic challenges of poverty. (For more information go towww.ettaprojects.org). We chose to collaborate with Etta Projects because we agree with their philosophy of sustainable development – the conviction that local people know their needs best and that they also have the power to meet those needs.
            This blog will be a coupling of a few different themes. First and foremost it serves to share the experience, through writing and pictures, of what it is like to live a nomadic hiking lifestyle for four months. Furthemore we want to reflect on living without everyday comforts such as clean water, toilets, easily accessible food and nearby health services. Working in conjunction with Etta Projects, our experiences will be echoed back to ourselves, and shared with you, in terms of raising awareness and creating understanding about daily issues in the developing world. We recognize that ours is a choice to live simply such as this, but that others do not have the same option. Experience generates understanding and reflection creates significance.
We hope to put reflection into action through donations that will directly support rural villages in Bolivia by implementing water, sanitation, health and nutrition programs. We are attempting to raise a goal amount of $5000 in order to fund and support projects, families and communities through Etta Projects.
            A quote by E.B. White reads:
“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
 It is with these words that Gus and I  embark on this journey in May, hoping to create  awareness and support for people, communities and issues outside of our own daily lives while hiking north-bound thorough the beautiful U.S!