We passed a family of day hikers just after Lake Morena on Sunday afternoon. Even though it is only April, daytime temperatures were still pretty impressive and we were sporting our new sun reflective umbrellas to beat the heat & hike throughout the afternoon. A member of that family being a girl of about the age of 11 or 12, she looked down from the rock she was perched on and inquired as to why we had umbrellas... Being that rain was definitely not in the forecast we must have looked absurd to this girl, traipsing around the desert like Mary Poppins. I tried to keep my response simple... 'It is because we are hiking for a really long time & we needed them to stay out of the sun as much as possible.' We swiftly passed by and I wondered 'how long does she think a really long time is?'
It made me realize that most people haven't heard of doing a "thru-hike" or let alone know knows what goes into preparing and planning for one. Truth be told, neither did we when we started this journey a little over one year ago. At the time, we had only been day hiking sections of the PCT and other local trail... we really enjoyed our time out on the trail, it was like pushing a reset button peeling away layer upon layer brought on by the daily grind with one simple day in the woods.
David decided to order a couple of books to check out more trails to adventure on. One of those books was Yogi's Pacific Crest Trail Handbook 2013 - 2014... he bought the book not knowing that if one was prepping for a thru hike, one would consider it their bible (but this book you are actually allowed to tear whole sections out). He started reading... And he was hooked. After work one day, he nonchalantly said that he wanted to do a thru hike of the PCT and that was just the beginning.
We order him a backpack... Mind you, I had only backpacked one weekend on the PCT up at Mount Jefferson (at which time, I encountered snow, hail, lightning & high winds in late July) so I had a brand new 6 year old backpack, an air mattress, a mummy sleeping bag and some telescoping trekking poles that I had been lugging around with me in hopes that one day I would have the chance to use them. Now was my chance! We took our first few backpacking excursions as weekend warriors and although we had bought nice gear to play around with on the trails, it was ALL wrong for a thru-hike as a couple.
People say that gear is one of the most common topics for trailside chatting with fellow hikers... It is because the right gear is so critical. It has to be lightweight & compact, durable & versatile but most of all everything we carry has to be functional! As we use an item from our packs, I check it off as no longer being dead weight... There are a few items so far that are on our "dead weight to be mailed back home list" but all in all, I would say we did pretty good with our items to call our portable home for the next few months.
The views have been spectacular, the weather feisty & the company is the best I could ever hope for. We love the trail so far & are cozied up for the night with the highest hopes for a successful thru-hike.