Tumbleweed on the PCT and Beyond

A Journal

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

Zion Shakedown Part 2

Stopping for a snack is a different sort of process for Lori and me. She eats something quickly and wants to get going. I eat slowly and like to linger for a bit. Once we learned that the camp was at the top of the hill, “and on a bit from there,” Lori was ready to get going. I was ready to linger so I told her to go ahead. Off she went while I enjoyed relaxing in the knowledge that someone had actually seen camp #3 and that I would find it in due course. As I was getting my pack on Lori waved and yelled from way up there saying it was loose dirt and slick and lot like Squaw Trail and to be careful. Squaw Trail is here in our little town of Kanab in Southcentral Utah and goes from the town up to the top of a bluff and has some tricky, slippery, straight up sort of footing, so I got the idea before starting up. It was a fine little scramble and while steep not so tricky as parts of Squaw. It was a lot like our familiar trail though and I enjoyed the hike up. She didn’t tell me about the rattle snake she’d come upon there until later. I’m really glad about that. I don’t think I’d have stopped to take video of the scenery had I known that there was a rattler under a rock somewhere along there! 

After several huffing and puffing stops and another shout out from Lori saying she’d found camp #3, I reached the top of the hill and strode out with ease until I came to a T junction in the trail. Each direction looked equally promising. There was a sign but the names with the arrows didn’t mean anything to me. Since our map had put the camp at the bottom of the hill, what I remembered of it didn’t give me much of a clue which way to go. I yelled for Lori but got no answer. I started one direction, looking for her boot prints but didn’t see them in the mass of prints on the busy trail. All the prints seemed to be going the other way though so I turned around and tried that way. Again I couldn’t find her prints and all the prints seemed to be going the other way from me. I engaged my intuition and turned around again. I tooted my whistle trying to raise Lori to no avail so kept going with the intuitive direction. Finally I heard voices! They came toward me and woohoo it was two women coming toward me. I asked if camp #3 was up there and they said YES! Well.

Shakedown Lesson #2. Don’t let the person with the map take off without getting some idea of what you will be coming to up the trail when it comes to a T junction.


My Zion Shakedown

zionhikeSo I thought I’d take a real life hike rather than just endlessly trying to buy gear to cover every imagined scenario that might be encountered on the PCT.

My friend Lori and I decided on a perfect 2 night trip that would push my mileage a bit and offer temps around the high 20’s to check out gear.

We were unable to reserve campsites online so we showed up at the Park Service Station at 7:30 to make sure to get there before anyone else to claim our chosen campsites.

We were the first to get there but alas, tis Spring Break and all the wilderness campsites but one were fully booked. So we took the one, on the southwestern desert trail that may may have higher temps and may or may not have water. Okay. We’d stay at a close in campsite, 3 miles in, easy hike, then go to another the next day quite far in, 7 miles or so, on the preferred trail and add an extra day for another site the next day. Good. All set.

So we loaded up on water for the possibly dry hike/camp and set off. The first thing I learned is that my beloved Five Finger Spyridons were not going to work. A fully packed hike a couple of days before had left my feet tender and once I started this trail it became apparent my feet were demanding more cushioning. Thankfully it was an immediate lesson and I was able to run back to the car to change into my Altra Lone Peak’s. So I have come down to the Altra’s as the one shoe I will take on the PCT. Sad but good in that I won’t have to take the weight of extra shoes to determine the best on the trail. One shakedown lesson down, off we went again.

Soon we came to the creek which we were told may or may not be dry and it was running nicely. We sat down and got some water, just because we could, and the sawyer squeeze filters worked a treat. My method of getting the water from the stream and into the tiny opening of the bottles that fit the filter worked perfectly. It was a beautiful day and I basked in the sun and did some stretches. Life was good. While we were basking there in the sun and enjoying the prospects of the short day and plenty of water, two spring breakers came down the trail and stopped to say hi. We said we were going to camp #3 and they said they were supposed to stay at camp #3 the night before but were unable to find it. They walked and walked and walked and finally turned around and stealth camped at another one they had passed. Hum…

Oh well. We are super sleuths. We will find camp #3. Off we go. Pretty soon we turn up the dry wash indicated on the map. All is well. It’s a beautiful day and we are feeling good. We walk the distance indicated on the map and by the ranger that should put us squarely into camp #3. None of the landmarks we expected had yet appeared. We walked some more, and some more, and a bit more. Hum…

So we decide to stop and have a snack. When in doubt, stop for a snack. That’s how we roll.

While we are snacking we hear people. Pretty soon we see people. They are about 800 feet above us. Above us as in straight up. We yelled, “Is camp #3 up there?” Yes was the answer, then as they came down to us they said it was up there and quite a way on from the top. Hum…

The ranger and the map had camp #3 before that steep trail to the top of the bluff. In fact we were snacking in just about the exact spot where camp #3 should have been in relationship to the proximity of that trail. Hum…

Okay. Fine. Off we go. More or less straight up. At one of my huffing and puffing breaks up the trail I took this video.


To be continued.


Part 2 Milking the Platypus 

I brought along my new Platypus Hoser 3L Hydration Bladder to try even though I’d had leakage issues from the bite valve ever since getting it and trying it out at home. I really wanted it to work because it is only 4 ounces as opposed to my tried and true Osprey at a hefty 10 ounces. If you can cut 6 oz. here and 6 oz. there you have a pack that you can actually enjoy hiking in as opposed to it being a grueling slog on the trail. And, being rather old for this game, I want to give my feet and joints every chance to endure a walk to Canada. So I have become not only a “gear head” but a real “gram weenie” in my efforts to reduce pack weight.

At home, since the Platypus was leaking for no particular reason that I could see, I installed a cut off valve from my Evernew system. Yes, I have gear for parts now. My dining table, kitchen counters and buffet are the equivalent of a redneck’s front yard. All that stuff may not work now but the parts could be valuable some day. With the bite valve and it’s new cut off valve in place and working as expected I thought I had every chance of success on the trail even though it did leave a tiny puddle on the dining room table while sitting there overnight. Hum…

From the first moment getting into my pack it was oozing a bit if I bent over or moved in any way it didn’t approve of. I tried various configurations of anchorage to my pack to no avail. It wasn’t a BIG problem, just a very annoying problem. Another annoying thing was that while it felt free to dispense water at will, it basically refused to dispense water at MY will. Getting water from the thing was really fairly tricky when I actually tried drinking from it. But hey, I’ll get the hang of it. Right? Hum…


Loving this Life

I’m hiking every day with a bit of weight to get ready for my big start day just three weeks from now.

Two miles into today’s training hike with 19 pounds on my back this shady place was just too hard to pass up. I kicked back to enjoy the view.

hikingshoes hikingtrish

All together I did 4.60 miles (I thought it would be further than that) with a hike time of 1:23 hrs. I took trekking poles which I have only used one other time and by the end felt like a pro  I think they quickened my pace a bit because I generally only do 3 mi per hour. The 19 pound pack was very comfortable and actually had everything in it for what I think would be the usual distance between re-supplies except for my puffy jacket (7 oz) microfleece beanie, gloves and some electronics.

It was a very pleasant hike and I fell in love all over again with where I live. Miles and miles of beauty and solitude right out my door. I am a lucky woman.

There are moments when we experience a supreme appreciation for where we are. I had that heightened sense on my hike today. I thought, as I saw all the beauty around me and felt so good in my body and in my life, that if for some reason this was the end of this whole PCT experience, it would have been worth it all anyway. It’s that good, this journey.

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