Well, aren’t I lucky?
Just this week I got hooked up with a project for Backpacker Magazine to log my hike through GPS. At first it seemed like an overly daunting task. Too much time plugged in, worrying about quality of the finished product, dealing with battery life and the like. In short, it seemed too much like work! I’ve come to grasp with that though and I’m no longer fretting. It’s actually kind of fun to log way points. I get a decide what’s worthy and what’s not. And for especially worthy spots it pushes me up the trail with aplomb, knowing that once I crest the ridge I get another way point! In reality it is work though. I’ve whittled it down to a few simple compromises. First is weight. The unit plus ten days of batteries weighs one pound. That’s “a lot” when one considers how much time, money and comfort I’ve parted with to loose a pound in other pieces of gear. I’ll have to stop for five seconds every time I take a way point so that I can write down it’s name. And I’ll have to be more connected to the postal service hours of operation for battery resupply. My original plan was pretty much a pure buy as you go strategy. Now I’ll have to pick up battery packages in more places because I’m going to be using lithiums. I’m deciding now how I want to balance buying batteries as I go and having them mailed to me. When I’m done, I’ll have something to be proud of, a connection in the magazine and more money in my pocket. I’m literally getting paid per mile! YEEEEEHAW!
People ask lots of interesting questions when I reveal that I’m hiking Mexico to Canada. Some are totally unexpected. Some get repeated a lot. Perhaps the funniest comes from people clearly struggling mentally with such a walk. More than a couple of times I’ve been faced with disbelief. They ask, “Wow, how long will that take?” I respond unsurely with “Well, it depends how fast I walk… maybe five months?” Then they say “You can’t possibly carry all of that food.” Uhhhh, yeah. I can’t. But to humor them I tell them about my light base pack weight, my ability to hike far and plan well, and my strategy of rationing for two peanuts and one rasin a day. I say with that I’ll have to start with about 50 pounds of food. Next, roll the smile….. I can’t wait to be on the trail goofing around full time! Funniest thing was the reaction of dibelief from a Patagonia employee yesterday. I was too confused to provide my usual retort.
One thing’s strange though. Some people seem really interested in my trip but some don’t seem to care at all. And I can’t figure beforehand who will care and who won’t. It’s not like outdoorsy, or liberal, or well traveled people are more interested. Sometimes they just seem to feign it. Then, a while ago I was talking to someone who I wouldn’t expect would care and he was facinated. Not that stereotyping matters but my friend was from the ghetto, a recent immigrant, and the type of guy that’s more interested in fast cars or football. Well, he asked the most interesting, thoughtful and extensive questions. So now I tend to nonchalantly slip it in that I’m about to walk across America (well, not really) in two weeks.
“Training” for me hasn’t been much. In fact, I’ve definitely slowed down in the past month! It seems that after moving back home to San Francisco I’ve lost a lot of motivation to hit the trails. When I was working and in school, I took every chance I had (at least every weekend) to get outdoors. Now I’m unemployed and vegetating. What gives? Well I’ve got a lot of excuses… But they’re just excuses. At least I’ve been getting out and going on urban walks. I don’t really know the milage of them but they’re probably 7-15 miles. It’s fun walking up and down SF hills and being able to people watch. I’m hoping to get a 70 mile trip in maybe next week so that my calves can at least remember what real hiking is before I hit the trail.
Wow! I really need to get this journal started! I’ve been dreaming of hiking the PCT for at least a few years now and finally decided to do it. I was graduating college and was ready for a real adventure. Life spent doing weekend and summer trips wasn’t going to satisfy me fully. I knew that in my life I’d have to take off at least a couple of times for real grand adventures. Something truely challenging, something longer and farther. Since I’ve been a backpacking obsessive all of my life, it seems right that this adventure should be a backpacking trip! So the PCT it is! And let me tell ya, I’m looking forward to it.