Friday, September 17, 2021

Pacific Crest Trail: Lead up and day 1

I'm just going to get to it...

    Peter and I carved out a couple months this summer to go on a hiking adventure. We had a few options in mind and we took our time letting those ideas evolve before landing on a particular one. There were many factors that went into this decision and the ever evolving state of the world was definitely one of them. 

Here were the said options:

1) Vancouver Island Trail: Roughly 800km of trail, connecting Victoria in the South to Cape Scott at the Northern tip of Vancouver Island. 

2) Bagger Challenge: 80+ North Shore peaks that need to be done in a calendar year (various rules involved). This is a local bragging rights challenge essentially. 

3) Great Divide Trail: Roughly 1100km that traverses the continental divide between Alberta and BC. 

4) Oregon & Washington sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. 

    The Vancouver Island Trail is something Peter and I would really love to do. The downside to it at this point is that it's not fully complete. I wouldn't mind waiting a few more years until it has been a bit more developed. 

    We really contemplated the GDT. Peter attempted it a few years ago but had to exit the trail due to forest fires. I completed 950km of it last year and although I would like to go back someday, I was more excited to do something new. 

    The Bagger Challenge was what we had initially planned but it got vetoed once we brought the PCT into the mix. Peter and I had hiked 1200 miles through California on the PCT 7 years ago and have always wanted to go back. We spent a lot of time planning our 2014 hike since it was our first ever thru-hike. We (mostly Peter) put months into researching lightweight hiking gear. We bought fancy lightweight backpacks, made a stove out of a cat food can, and figured out what was essential. I spent weeks preparing and dehydrating 2 months worth of dinners. It's shocking how long it actually takes to dehydrate your own food. Not to mention the time it takes to figure out how many calories are in the recipe and how many portions it makes to ensure we were feeding ourselves enough. We put everything into boxes and drove them across the border to our friends warehouse where he shipped them at specific intervals for us. Shipping from Canada to the US is very expensive and we are forever grateful for Mike's help with this logistic. It probably took us 7 years to rap our heads around the thought of putting this much planning into anything ever again. 

    When I did the GDT last year I was introduced to cold soaking. Essentially this just means that you don't cook anything. Everything you eat is cold or can be rehydrated with cold water. No stove necessary. Once you learn to cold soak its hard to imagine ever going back to cooking. It reduces the weight and volume of your pack both of which make the hike more enjoyable. Having learnt this skill, it made going back and doing the PCT logistically way easier. We wouldn't have to cook and dehydrate food ahead of time. There would be no packing and shipping of boxes, mainly due to how unreliable shipping across the border would be and the cost. We simply would just pick supplies up along the way. Essentially, we would wing it. How fun! 

    I googled the closest airport to Ashland Oregon and was surprised to see that it was in Medford. When we got off the trail in Oregon in 2014 we hitched to Medford and took a bus back to Vancouver from there. I had no idea there was an airport but this would be the perfect spot to get us back to where we left off all those years ago. Peter went onto the PCT Southern Oregon Trail Angels Facebook page and asked if anyone could help us get from the Airport to the trail and luckily a wonderful angel named Beth answered our call. Not only would she pick us up at the airport, but she would let us stay the night and take us to the trail the next morning. It was all coming together quite nicely. 

    Looking ahead it seemed that we wouldn't have to pack more than 4 days worth of food at any given time (50km/day) and there were great re-supply options on trail. An issue I have been having on thru hikes is pain in my left shoulder/neck. It's due to carrying a "heavy" pack and clearly something (a nerve) is being impinged. Most likely between my clavicle and 1st rib. Although there are other factors I'm sure. I was in a bike accident in 2007 where I flew over a car and landed on that shoulder. It's never really bothered me until I started thru-hiking. I basically get referral pain from my neck to my scapula and then down my arm. I am usually able to deal with it by stretching but it only helps for short periods of time. The lighter my pack gets the better it is and the more enjoyment I have. I have a wicked Physio who pretty much made it disappear for my GDT hike but I also only carried 1-3 days worth of food since it was a crewed/supported effort. I only managed to get into my Physio once before the hike but hoped it would be enough to keep it at bay. 

Free beer and wine on this flight!

    We flew into Medford the evening of July 22nd. YVR was eerily quiet. Most of the restaurants/venders were closed and there were like 4 flights on the board. Luckily, there was one place open where we could get food and a beer. Our flight was on time and we landed in Medford an hour and a half later. Beth greeted us and took us back to her place. Her and her husband have converted their garage into a huge bedroom essentially and that is where we slept soundly for the night. In the morning she made us dutch style pancakes which was such a fantastic send off. We then drove 45 min to the trail head and looked out at some of the previous years forest fire devastation.  I should mention that there were some active fires in Oregon when we started but none of them were impacting the trail at the time. 

Where we started off HWY 66

Day 1: 27 miles    

    Our first day back on trail was quite nostalgic. I was incredibly happy to be back and excited for the adventure ahead.  We crossed paths with a few hikers right away and it was nice talking to them about how their hike was going so far. It was a hot day in Oregon but these hikers had to hike through California during a heat wave. I can only imagine how intense that would've been. 

    A couple hours after stopping for lunch we came across some hikers sitting outside of a Dodge Sprinter Van. A previous years hiker named Trouble was offering trail magic to hikers. Because it was so hot it was nice to be offered a soda although I didn't feel like we had really earned the magic. Nonetheless, I'm not one down to turn it down and sat my butt on the ground and took it as an opportunity to meet other hikers. There we met a man in his 70's who was hiking a section of the trail. We mentioned that we were ultra runners and he asked us what ultras we have done. Since I was in the US I said we had done Western States and he just lit up and told us he had done it 27 times! What a small world and a big feat! Here we also met Siren and Mulligan who we would cross paths with for many weeks to come. We still had 12 miles to hike before the next water source and were already low on water. So we did what we had to do and filtered water out of the melted ice from Troubles cooler and were on our way. 

    Because of the lack of water we couldn't just camp anywhere. This made our first day much longer than I think may have been ideal. Don't get me wrong, I love big miles out on trail but 27 is quite a big first day. We got into camp around 7:30pm along with Siren, Mulligan, Clint, and Galaxy girl. It was so clear the bonds that had already formed between these hikers having been on trail for 3-4 months at this point. I felt a bit jealous but I also know how fast you get embraced into the community of hikers no matter where you start. 

Other things I noted in my phone: 

- I put a huge rip in my shorts

- Peter had some chafing in his nether regions  :(

37 more days to go....

Marathon and Pole Vault

No comments: