Pre-trail Musings #1


After one decides to attempt a thruhike, the logical progression of one’s thoughts turns towards planning. You ask questions like: What will my resupply strategy look like? How do I get down to Campo? What do I still need for gear? How do I get a permit and what should my starting date be? What is my plan for when I stop hiking? How am I funding my hike?

And you know what puzzles me the most? Solving these questions does not seem to be that more difficult than last summer for the John Muir Trail. Is that scary? Reassuring? I don’t know. This simplicity is one advantage of doing a hike like this now, young, while I don’t have to worry about bills and am not tied down to a career or a mortgage.

I am both gluten free (which I’d like to change but can’t) and piscetarian (which I don’t want to change but can), complicating resupply a bit. I am still planning on resupplying the main bulk of what I eat as I go, but with “care packages” from home to supplement with things I probably won’t find on trail. Gluten free crackers, bread, tortillas, licorice, rice noodles, mac n cheese, cookies, dehydrated veggies, instant refried beans, instant curry lentil soup, etc. But, largely I think I’ll be fine, even if I have to employ the “Basically I Eat Potato Chips” strategy outlined in Carrot Quinn’s blog. I know that on the JMT I wanted to give up just doing one resupply package, so I’m not doing that to myself. I’ll probably just plan for specific packages at Kennedy Meadows and MTR/VVR, and figure out the rest of the trail after Reno/Tahoe as I go.

I am getting Amtrak tickets down to San Diego, where there are trail angels who shuttle hikers to the trail. I’ve taken the California Zephyr before (which goes along the Transcontinental Railroad line) from SF to Reno and it’s nice, and also a whole lot cheaper than plane tickets. And I probably will freak out the Amish with my hiking clothes.

The only things I still need for gear are my Halfmile maps, an ice axe and microspikes, shoes, and a few other small things like something to write in, a compass, a food bag, and my mom wants to get me a Spot or Delorme. I promised if she got one for me I would take it. I also am taking an REI beginning mountaineering course to learn how to use my ice axe. With all of the snow we’re getting, I’m aiming for a late April/early May starting date. The permits should be easy peasy after the nightmare that JMT permits are. I also need to renew my passport and apply for entry to Canada.

My plan for after I stop hiking? Who knows. I don’t know how far I will make it, if I will get an injury in the first 500 miles or in the last 600. If i will go fast or slow. At this point I am abandoning my UNR plans until next spring.

Everything is in limbo. I will see what happens…