My lovely blue sleeping bag

TRT

It’s just a sleeping bag, but it’s not just any sleeping bag. It was my first “real” sleeping bag. It’s down. And it’s absolutely lovely.

This piece of important gear gets its own entry mostly because I’ve hemmed and hawed over it for a year. Should I take it? Should I bite the bullet and buy a new one? What should I do? I came to the comfortable decision with just keeping it. It’s been around this long and on so many trips already — it’ll work for the PCT, too. It’s a wee bit heavier and packs down a little bigger than what most people carry, but whatevs. It’s going with me.

I bought it in 2005. I named after my husband, because it was warm and cuddly and I would be sleeping with it for a 9-month journey across America. It might sound silly, but I was instantly attached to it. And for how much I paid for it, it deserved a good name.

So way back in 2005 when I went to the store to buy it, the salesman laid it out on the floor for me and told me to crawl in. I looked at him kind of funny, but thought, “alright… he’s a cool guy, I’ll trust him.” I got down, unzipped it carefully and crawled inside. My first reaction was how wonderfully soft and fluffy it felt. The salesman asked me, “it’s warm, isn’t it?” I looked up at him and said, “I don’t know… wait. Wait a second! Holy crap, it’s like someone just turned on a furnace!”

I was in love.

Cuddling with "Adam" at sunrise in the Beartooth Mountains, Montana. 2011

Cuddling with “Adam” at sunrise in the Beartooth Mountains, Montana. 2011

It didn’t take much else to sell me on it, but the salesman continued. After crawling back out of the bag, I looked down at how huge and puffy it was and said, “okay, but how the heck am I going to roll this thing up and put it into a small bag so I can carry it in my backpack?” He looked at me, knowing I was a rookie. He gave me a small compression stuff sack and said, “Give it a shot.” I bent down and started to fold the super-lofty bag and then tried roll it. The salesman giggled and said to me, “Do you know why they call it a ‘stuff sack?’” I looked up at him as if to say “Ooooh, I get it, now!” I grabbed the end of the bag and just started to jam it in the stuff sack. It fit just fine, and when I cinched the bag down, it wasn’t much bigger than a Nalgene bottle. Amazing.

But it didn’t stop there. After pulling it back out of the stuff sack to demonstrate how it lofts back up, and after showing me how to beat on the back to move the down around in the continuous baffles to control where I want the most heat, he laid it back out on the floor and said he’s be right back. When he returned, he had a bottle of water with him. “You don’t want down to get wet because it’ll just be heavy to carry and won’t keep you warm.” Then he dumped the entire bottle of water on the bag. It all beaded off and rolled onto the floor. Dry as can be.

I didn’t care how much that sleeping bag cost, I was going to buy it. I did buy it, I still have it and still love that bag.

Cuddled up next to Mom on the ADT.

Cuddled up next to Mom on the ADT.

Want to hear the crazy part? I’ve only washed it a handful of times, and I’ve let it get pretty stinky. I’ve just always been afraid I’d ruin it. Well, the time has come to wash it once again, and with the big PCT hike coming up, I needed to treat it with a water-resistance spray, too. Last weekend I took it to the Laundromat. I was nervous. I’m not lying when I say that my hands were actually shaking when I was spraying the waterproofing all over it. If something happened to this sleeping bag, I’d be shopping for a new one. Not only would it be hard to let it go, it would be expensive.

Sleeping bag washing kit.

Sleeping bag washing kit.

A scary place for a down bag!

A scary place for a down bag!

I washed it with my special down detergent, then ran it through a 2nd cycle with no detergent to be sure all the soap was out. After it came out of the wash, I sprayed it down with the water-resistant spray (hands shaking) and gently placed it in the dryer with 12 clean tennis balls. I dropped my quarters in, took a deep breath and started the machine up. It tumbled and dropped, tumbled and dropped, and I probably watched it for a full 2 minutes to make sure it wasn’t sticking to the drum or something weird.

After about an hour, it was super-poofy, dry and looked like new again. Whew! Mission accomplished! And I only had to chase one tennis ball across the Laundromat floor! Bonus!

I woke up the next morning feeling brave, so I laid it on my kitchen floor, grabbed a glass of water and dumped it on the bag. It pooled up right in the center, and the splashing beaded right off the bag onto the floor. I absorbed the pool of water up with some paper towel and guess what? The bag wasn’t wet at all! The water didn’t seep through – at all! I was back in business, baby!

It repels! It repels!

It repels! It repels!

Adam the sleeping bag lives on for yet another epic trip! Let’s go to the PCT!

Montana

(Western Mountaineering Antelope 5° Sleeping Bag)

Advertisements

Totally random prep notes 2

Even more random prep notes:

Regarding girly-backpacking vanity, last August I took a trip to Montana with some friends to the Beartooth/Absaroka mountains for a fun-filled backpacking trip for a week. I took my make-up off before we left for that trip and haven’t worn any since… with the exception of a couple of special occasions. It’s been great. I’ve never messed with make-up while backpacking before, so I figured why should I mess with it anywhere else? It was a good change.

No makeup. Well, except for the natural stuff... this is me, Rachel and my mom getting pretty with the dirt.

No makeup. Well, except for the natural stuff… this is me, Rachel and my mom getting pretty with the dirt (August 2011).

Halfway through 2012 I stopped washing my hair every day. I work out almost every day (and sweat quite a bit) so I would still shower and wet my hair down, but I’d skip the shampoo every other day, and only condition every few days. I figured this will hopefully help prepare my hair and scalp for going 3-4 days (or more) without a shower. I’m not a fan of the greasy hair that plasters itself to my head when backpacking – especially while wearing a hat because it actually becomes uncomfortable. So I’m hoping this will help the oils calm down a bit.

I will be shaving my legs and armpits when I get into towns…  for those of you that care. :)

Adam offered to do my laundry. Um… this will be a true love test at its best. If he can get through 5-6 months of my sock stench and still love me, then that’s a big deal. Our laundry strategy is simple (besides dealing with the stinks). I have two full sets of clothes going with me to make this work. While I’ve got one clothing kit on me (what I’m wearing and what’s in my pack), Adam will have the other clothing kit so he can wash it while I’m on the trail. When I see him at our next rendezvous, we’ll swap clothing kits. Easy peasy. Hey, if you’ve got a super-awesome hubby driving your bounce box along the trail, why not take advantage of awesome things like this? Besides… him doing laundry allows me more time to drink milkshakes when we hit towns! Yeah!

Chicken Bouillon for my food kit. Yes, this is exciting!

Chicken Bouillon for my food kit. Yes, this is exciting!

Last night I got all excited about transferring chicken bouillon to old medicine bottles to keep in my food kit. It’s an easy way to add flavor and/or salt to almost any meal. Also, you would not believe the bins full of Knorr noodle and rice sides we have. And instant taters. And instant oatmeal. And granola bars. And more. And I have to put a plug here for my friend, David, who graciously donated a ton of this stuff to us. THANK YOU, DAVID! You rock! Seriously.

And there's SO much more food!

And there’s SO much more food!

I’m unsubscribing from a bunch of emails I usually get so my inbox doesn’t get flooded while I’m on the trail. I’m keeping my PCT-L notifications (which is a popular email-based forum for PCT users), and a couple of daily devotional emails, and emails from my local Backpacking Meetup group. I hope to see all the fun trips they’re going on this year because I’m going to miss them all!

Permit update — I finished filling out my “Entrance into Canada via the PCT” permit application and it has been sent in! That’s an exciting step! It will be even more exciting when I get the actual permit in hand! Woo-hoo! Next up, PCT thru-hiking permit in mid-February when they start sending those out.

I will need a permit to enter Canada via the PCT.

I will need a permit to enter Canada via the PCT.

Last night I finished organizing maps – I have 28 gallon-size ziplock bags with duplex-printed topo maps with GPS waypoints (thank-you, Halfmile and Yogi!!) all sectioned out from Mexico to Canada. We also got all of our food storage into Rubbermaid bins so we can safely store them, all organized-like, in my parent’s basement. They’ll be sending us resupply along our route. I have a list of a few  more bulk things I need to purchase as far as food goes.

MAPS! YAY!

MAPS! YAY!

It’s getting there. We’re almost ready to roll.

Next Friday, Adam is rolling out our first Disco Pickle PCT video, so watch for that! It’s going to be super-exciting!

Like our Facebook Page!

Totally random prep notes

I’ve got a bunch of things swirling around inside my head. There’s things I need to do, there’s things I’ve done, and there’s things I haven’t thought of.

First of all, the Frozen Otter. Ten racers finished the 64 miles this last weekend – which is totally awesomely impressive, considering the wind picked up to 50mph gusts and the temperature dropped from a balmy, muddy-trail-creating 44° during the day — down to under 10° overnight — which is the hardest part of the race. After already hiking a whopping 32 miles, you are sore and tired and your body is ready for bed. But then you fight that body clock, head out onto the dark trail for another 32 miles — and the weather gets progressively more difficult!? Ah… yes. “For the love of misery” is the phrase of the race. It’s true. We do have a love for that misery.

I stuck around and shuttled a few people and cheered some people on before I pooped out around midnight and struggled to stay awake driving home as the wind threw me all over the highway. I thought of those hikers out on the trail. At least I was heading home to my warm bed!

I did get in a 16-mile training hike earlier in the day. I hit the trail at 6:30am, arrived at Butler Lake at 9:30, watched the racers begin at 10:00, head back out at 11:00, and my friends Randall and Heidi met me on the trail to hike a bit. That was fun! Then Adam met us at Greenbush (where I started hiking that morning) and we all head out for a burger and a beer at a local bar. It was a good Saturday in my book. All day spent pretty much all outside. And it was 40° in mid-January in Wisconsin. And the sun was shining. And I was hiking. And I saw friends. And I spent some time with Adam. Yes. It was a good day.

Other randoms:

I need to wash and water-resistant-treat my sleeping bag this weekend. That’s going to take a few hours at the laundromat. I need to design cards with blog addresses and Facebook links to hand out to people, as well as stickers that can be slapped on resupply boxes so they are distinct among the many others that mine will be sitting with at random post offices along the trail. It’s a small chore, but it’s on my list. I finished printing maps, now they need to be organized. That will be done Thursday night over a couple glasses of wine. (Do not spill, Robin!) There’s a few small pieces of gear/clothing I still need to purchase. Sport bras, phone batteries, a few extra canisters of Jetboil fuel, and some food & toiletry items. Instant coffee (VIA, baby!), wet ones, stupid tampons (sorry it’s on my list!), and probably a few other small things I’m forgetting.

I was able to get a prescription for Flagyl, which is a medication for Giardia (a nasty-ass intestinal parasite from untreated water and/or bad hygiene that hikers sometimes get… gives you major cramps and the runs. Yuk!) I hope to not get Giardia, of course, so I will be treating all my water with AquaMira. I have 8 sets of the stuff and I plan to use it all… and not any of the Flagyl. Let’s hope I’m able to stick with that plan! Either way, I’m feeling at ease having the medication in my first aid kit so if it does hit, I can treat it right away.

Permits are needed, too. I need three of them in particular. One is a thru-hiker’s permit provided by the Pacific Crest Trail Association. This will allow me to thru-hike the entire trail without worrying about a ton of different permits for all the wilderness areas, national parks, etc. Thank-you to the PCTA for that!! I will also need to obtain a permit to enter Canada via the PCT. I will be filling this one out tomorrow, I think. The third one I’ll need is a campfire permit for California, because in order to use a camp stove in the backcountry, you need this permit — it’s not just for campfires. I will not need a permit to climb Mt. Whitney, because apparently you only need one if you enter or exit from the east side (Whitney Portal). I’ll be doing both from the west/PCT side.

As I mentioned earlier, there are things I’m not thinking of. I’ll probably have another totally random post with a bunch of other totally random stuff going through my head. I love it, though. This is getting good.

Oh yeah… and I should probably try to get out and hike. It’s freakin’ cold in Wisconsin right now, so this one is a challenge. If I wasn’t sitting in a warm office at work, you can bet I’d be bundled up and out on that trail!

The Frozen Otter

A line of Frozen Otter Racers.

A line of Frozen Otter Racers.

This weekend is the Frozen Otter Race. I completed the race in January 2010, and it is one of my greatest accomplishments to date. It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done. For real.

I will not be racing this year, but I plan to be there to cheer on those that are, and to get in a little training hike for the PCT while I’m at it.

The Frozen Otter has two options. You can race the Half distance of 32 miles and complete it within 12 hours to place. Or you can go for it all and race the Full distance of 64 miles and complete it within 24 hours.

The race spans a 32-mile section of the Ice Age Trail in East-Central Wisconsin (racers complete two 32-mile out-and-backs to complete the full 64 miles), and the terrain is pretty challenging. There are a lot of short, steep hills, open meadows (a beast when it’s windy!), lots and lots of forest, and a few road crossings. There are parts of the trail, especially in the winter, which can be tricky to navigate. And I can tell you from experience, when hiking on this trail in the middle of the night, with no sign of other people for hours upon hours, staring at a headlamp-lit circle of snowy terrain in front of you for thousands of steps, and the same-looking trees passing by on both sides of you… you tend to get a little crazy. I’ve talked to myself, I’ve talked to my legs, I’ve sang to myself and even hallucinated. But just once. I’ve heard of people hallucinating a lot more than I did!

There are several reasons this race is such a challenge. Obviously, the first is 64 miles is a long distance for anyone to hike in one stretch. Second, as I mentioned, it’s on difficult terrain. Third, it’s mostly at night. Fourth, it’s self-supported (there are required checkpoints, which I’ll get to in a moment). But the biggest challenge of all is the weather. You don’t know if it’s going to 40° above zero or 20° below zero. You don’t know how much wind there will be, which can potentially bring the wind-chill temperature to severely dangerous lows. Then there are the snow levels. One year there were snow drifts up to my waist that we had to break through. Nobody finished the full distance that year.

So with all these challenges, it’s a good thing there’s required checkpoints, right? Mostly yes with a tiny mental-challenging side of no. They are great because they provide the race organizers a way to keep track of the racers for safety purposes, and they also provide thawed water (because you water WILL freeze up on you during this race), hot drinks, and usually some sort of snack. They are also great because you can get a little human interaction. This is really important when you’re on the second half and not seeing a soul for hours. I’ve almost come to tears just seeing another person for a few seconds to check in and check out. It’s a major morale-booster.

BUT… these checkpoints have one challenge to them – fire. There’s a warming fire at each one and they are spaced about 8 miles apart from each other. So every 8 miles you are tempted to step in close to that warmth, but when you do… it’s VERY difficult to step back onto the cold, dark, lonely trail and keep going.

Yet, with all of these challenges, the race this year filled up months before event day. 100 racers total will step onto the trail and attempt to push themselves beyond anything they thought they might be capable of doing.

I say good luck to all the racers this year, stay safe, and I hope to see you on the trail!

If you’d like to read my race recap from the year I completed the race… and maybe a photo of my feet after hiking 64 miles (I lost a few toenails, proudly), then check out this link (this entry resides on my old blog): Frozen Otter 2010.

This is how I fuel for 32 miles after just hiking 32 miles. A milkshake!

This is how I fuel for 32 miles after just hiking 32 miles. A milkshake! (2010)

This was my last checkpoint at 56 miles. Somehow, I was still smiling! (2010)

This was my last checkpoint at 56 miles. Somehow, I was still smiling! (2010)

Robin and Adam’s Big Adventure

The rumors are true. Adam and I are leaving Wisconsin and going on a lengthy adventure. We’re going to live differently. And we came up with a plan, in phases. We gave these phases names, as we do with many things, mostly for fun. We have a counter in our kitchen we call “Bob.” Because if there’s a piece of mail on that one counter… in the kitchen… by the microwave… it’s a lot easier to say, “It’s on Bob.” Our Montana vacation was called “GUS.” We had no specific reason for that name – it was Adam’s first reaction to my question, “What should we call our Montana trip?” He replied, “GUS.” So it was decided.

These next steps in our life are more than a vacation, they’re going to be much bigger. So we planned it out and named it in phases.

Phase 1. Betty. This is the name we gave phase 1 of our adventure because it sounded like a household name. Betty describes our living “normal,” as society would call it. Work during the week to earn a paycheck so we can pay rent and bills, watch sitcom reruns on TV at night, and enjoy benefits like health insurance and gym memberships. During the last half of the Betty phase, we moved to a small studio apartment, dropped cable and internet, got rid of “stuff” and began to pay down small debts and save, save, save. The original Betty for us was a grind and made us feel stuck. Thankfully we planned this phase to be temporary — change had to happen. So while we had to embrace Betty for a while, we worked on our escape plan. It was… I mean, IS an exciting escape plan that will fulfill dreams and keep us close. I can’t express how excited we are for phase 2.

Phase 2. Alexander Supertramp. If you’ve seen the movie “Into The Wild,” you’ll know where we got this name from. But we aren’t mirroring our plans or travels to Mr. McCandless’ grand adventure. We just thought the name was fitting.

Phase 2 naturally split into two parts.

The first part is where Adam and I road-trip around the country to visit some family and places, then travel to Washington and drive the west coast all the way south to the Mexican border. This first part of phase 2 will take approximately one month, maybe a bit more. We will live cheaply — sleeping in the car, at friends and relatives’ houses, campgrounds, hostels… with one splurge in Bozeman, MT, while most of our meals will be cooked on our camp stoves.

The second part is when our road trip will bring us to the end of our west-coast drive, ending near Campo, California, where I will touch the wall that divides the US from Mexico, put my loaded backpack on my back and take my first steps north on my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Its a 2,650-mile journey through California, Oregon and Washington states and I will hike it all the way to Canada. This will take between 5 and 6 months, and somewhere roughly around 6 million steps. Adam will parallel this long hike by car and meet me along the way in towns to help with chores to keep me going. Resupply, laundry, blog updates, finding good food and places to get a shower. Once we reach Canada we will begin work on phase 3.

Phase 3. Mack. We’ll start this phase with some research so we can decide where I will go to school to earn my CDL to become a truck driver. Adam already has his CDL, so we will find a fitting company to work hard for and team-drive. I get a lot of interesting looks when I tell people about this part. I’ve worked in an office for over 10 years, doing a job that I honestly love, but why not dive into something you’ve always wondered about? For the adventure! Besides, it’s just another thing for me and Adam to check off of our dream list as a couple. And it seems like a good transition after living mobile along the PCT. We’ll just be living mobile in a new and exciting way while earning some dough. How awesome is that!?

Phase 4? We have lots of ideas and possible names for it. But we’ve got a few years of phase 3 to figure out the details. So first things first.

We’re excited and ready to begin. I hope you enjoy following this crazy journey. And it’s really okay if you think it’s crazy… because it kinda is. That’s just how we’re gonna roll. :)

This quote has been hanging in my cubicle for more than a year. It’s been a daily inspiration for me.

Don’t forget to add your email address to the right, at the top of the column. You can get an email notification whenever I post a new entry. Once I’m hiking, I’ll have a new post (with photos!) for every day, but they may come in bunches, as I’ll only be able to post when I get to towns with wi-fi and some interwebs for me to take advantage of.

Gear for my PCT Thru-Hike

Here is a listing of the gear I’ll be taking with me on my 2013 PCT thru-hike. These gear choices were determined based on my experience backpacking and the equipment I’m most comfortable using now. It’s also an attempt to save a little cash by not buying the newest, lightest and best gear out there, which would be awesome… but I figured I’d rather use that cash for a few extra burgers along the way. And maybe some bacon. Or a shower. No, bacon. You get the idea… So my hope is to get away with using what I already have and making it work. If I absolutely need to replace something, I’ll do so on the trail. As you go through this list, you’ll see that I am certainly not super-lightweight — my base weight (no food and water) comes in at around 23 – 25 pounds. But that’s okay. Gonna’ roll with it and see how it goes!

The Big 3 ::

Backpack — I use the Granite Gear Nimbus Latitude as my backpack of choice. The one I will be using has a women’s hipbelt and is teal in color, so it’s not exactly like the picture shown below, but close. It’s 3800 cubic inches, so it’s also a larger pack than what most PCT hikers use. I’ve just been using this bad boy since 2005 and it’s still got lots of life in it and fits me well… so it’s what I’m going to use! (I also used the women’s version of this pack on my ADT hike in 2006.) It’s not terribly heavy, either, weighing in at 47 ounces, or just under 3 pounds.

Granite Gear Nimbus Latitude

Granite Gear Nimbus Latitude

Sleeping Bag — I know this is overkill for the PCT, but it was expensive when I bought it back in 2005, lasted me on my entire ADT hike, and is still in great shape. It’s my Western Mountaineering Antelope 5° sleeping bag. I’ve used it in all kinds of weather, from hot desert camping to winter backpacking – with minor adjustments in each condition, I was able to use it comfortably. It doesn’t pack down quite as small as the standard 20° bags most people carry on the PCT, and one day I’ll upgrade to the WM Ultralite, but this will have to do for now. I will, however, be a forever WM bag owner. I’ve been spoiled and don’t think I could ever go back to anything different. This one weighs 41 ounces. Again, not terribly heavy — especially for a 5° bag.

For my sleeping pad, I have the Thermarest Neo-Air, which is super-comfy, but I have a feeling it’s going to be replaced with my Z-Lite because I’m not going to want to blow up the Neo-Air every night. I’ll start with the Neo-Air, see how it goes, and have the Z-Lite on standby.

Western Mountaineering Antelope, 5°

Western Mountaineering Antelope, 5°

Thermarest Neo-Air

Thermarest Neo-Air

Tent — I hope to cowboy camp for most of the trail (sleeping under the stars), but I will be carrying the MSR Hubba along with me for windy, rainy, or nights I feel like there’s critters around every corner. I love the bomb-proofness of this tent, as well as the versatility of it. I can use with or without the rain cover, or just the raincover if I choose. I have a feeling this will be a changing process as I go, though. Weighs in at 54 ounces (3.37 lbs.) for the whole shebang (tent, footprint, poles, stakes and stuff sack).

MSR Hubba

MSR Hubba

Clothing & Footwear ::

Bottoms — I became a skirt-hiker this past year and love it. I fell in love with my first skirt, which is a Patagonia Morning Glory skirt, but they no longer make that style, and I can’t find them anywhere online (can you see my pouty, sad face?). So I bought something similar, hoping it will work for the PCT – I haven’t been able to try them out on the trail yet, so we’ll see how it goes in the first week or so. I now use the Mountain Hardwear Better Butter Skirt with Nike Compression shorty shorts underneath as underwear. Super-comfy, super-breathable, and very versatile — I’ve even used my skirt to change under in front of tons of people on the beach! It’s great!

Bottom: Mountain Hardwear Better Butter Skirt

Bottom: Mountain Hardwear Better Butter Skirt

Bottom: Nike pro compression shorts/undies

Bottom: Nike pro compression shorts/undies

Tops — I have a couple of options for tops. I will be carrying a short-sleeve Patagonia Capilene 1 baselayer for warmer weather, and the REI larch long-sleeve shirt for sunny and/or buggy conditions. Under that I will be wearing some random sport bra that is comfy. I’ve got a few for running that I’ll just choose from when I go.

Top: Patagonia Capilene 1 short sleeve shirt

Top: Patagonia Capilene 1 short sleeve shirt

Top: REI Larch long-sleeve hiking shirt

Top: REI Larch long-sleeve hiking shirt

Feet — I am so happy to say that I have my feet figured out (or at least I’m pretty confident that I do!). I will be wearing Injinji socks with Brooks Cascadia 7 shoes. I’ve been using this combo since March 2012 and have not gotten a blister. I love the combo! I also have Dirty Girl Gaiters to keep junk out of my shoes, as I have a tendency to kick all kinds of crap up off the trail right into the backs of my shoes. These have been a life-saver for me.

As for those shoes? I will probably go through 5 or 6 pairs. As for socks, many more than that. You’ll be seeing holey pictures of toe socks, be sure of that!

Footwear: Brooks Cascadia 7 Shoes

Footwear: Brooks Cascadia 7 Shoes

Footwear: Injinji Toe Socks

Footwear: Injinji Toe Socks

Footwear: Dirty Girl Gaiters

Footwear: Dirty Girl Gaiters

Warm Layers — I’ll have a Patagonia R1 1/2-zip Fleece for a warm layer, and I might switch back and forth with my Patagonia Nanopuff Jacket. Both are warm layers that I love, so finding which one I will use the most is going to come down to trial & error while on the trail. I’ll also be carrying lightweight gloves and a warm hat at all times.

Warmth: Patagonia R1 1/2-zip Fleece

Warmth: Patagonia R1 1/2-zip Fleece

Warmth: Patagonia Hooded Nanopuff (LOVE)

Warmth: Patagonia Hooded Nanopuff (LOVE)

Sleepwear — I always carry a separate set of sleepwear in a waterproof stuff sack or ziplock bag so I always know whatever kind of weather I run into during the day, I’ll have something dry and warm to sleep in. I’ll have my Patagonia Silkweight Capiline 1 Bottoms (and they’re freakin’ pink because I got them on sale! Gah!). I’ll also have a random long-sleeve lightweight shirt and a set of fuzzy socks. Oh, and I will start out carrying my Mary Jane Crocs for camp shoes. I’ve always liked having camp shoes, but I hear of so many people that ditch them on thru-hikes, so we’ll see.

Sleepwear: Brooks L/S lightweight shirt

Sleepwear: Brooks L/S lightweight shirt

Sleepwear: Patagonia Silkweight bottoms for sleeping

Sleepwear: Patagonia Silkweight bottoms for sleeping

Raingear — I have not figured out my raingear as of yet, even though I’ve had a couple of major rainy training hikes. I should know this by now! I have a few options at my disposal. I have a Patagonia rain jacket, which is bulky and kind of heavy, but may come in handy if it’s a wet year in the Cascades. I may have this sent out for the last sections of the PCT. I also have a set of Mountain Hardwear Epic rain pants that I love and work really well, but again, kind of bulky and probably overkill for most of the trail. I’ll have these on standby in case I need them. I own a backpackers poncho, which is obnoxious-yellow in color, but I’m leaning towards this option because of its versatility. Could be used as shade, poncho, emergency shelter, and something to sit on. My 3rd option is to purchase a Frogg Togg jacket, which is uber-lightweight, packs down small and would only be pulled out in rain or high wind. I’m liking the sound of that option, too. So, needless to say, I don’t know what my rain gear will be, but I’ll figure it out!

Raingear: Mountain Hardwear Epic pants

Raingear: Mountain Hardwear Epic pants

Raingear: Patagonia rain shell

Raingear: Patagonia rain shell

Kitchen ::

Stove — I use the Jetboil stove. I’ve played around with the uber-light soda-can stoves that so many people use on the trail, but I’m just more comfortable with the Jetboil. I recently upgraded from my old, retro Jetboil that I used on my 2006 ADT hike to a brand-spankin’ new one. I love that I can simmer on this, and it boils water super-fast. I like my coffee in the morning, and I like it NOW! :)

Stove: Jetboil

Stove: Jetboil

Extras for kitchen — I also carry a long titanium spoon, a small cleaning rag, and a Sea to Summit collapsible coffee cup.

Kitchen: Long spoon

Kitchen: Long spoon

Kitchen: Collapsible cup

Kitchen: Collapsible cup

Water TreatmentAqua Mira. Been using it pretty much ever since I ditched the filter on my ADT hike in ’06. I just don’t like to pump my water. I also carry along a piece of nylon to strain any chunky water. Bandanas work in a pinch, too.

Water Treatment

Water Treatment

Water containers — I carry a Big Zip Platypus 3L hydration reservoir (bladder). I find that I don’t drink enough water as I hike unless it’s easy to get to, so the hose is a must for me. I will also probably have one or two 1L Aquafina (or similar) bottles on me to hold water, depending on the water situation — more in the desert, less in the mountains.

Platypus Big Zip 3L

Platypus Big Zip 3L

Toiletries & First Aid ::

Toiletries — I carry a ziplock or stuff sack with my trowel, toilet paper, wet ones, 1 oz. bottle of hand sanitizer, tampons, and a panty liner or two. This comes with me on my trowel-treks. I’ll also have a small bottle of Campsuds along in case there’s that perfect stream to wash my face, crotch and armpits in (not necessarily in that order).

First Aid/Meds — In a small zippered stuff sack, I’ll have a patch kit, mini Bic lighter, Deet, Mosquito Headnet, Safety pins, Emergency water purification tabs (in case AquaMira leaks or I run out), Ibuprofen, Immodium, Benadryl, Neosporine, Aquafor, spare chapstick and a sharpie pen.

Misc. — On a carabiner that is easy to get to, I will have my small Swiss Army Knife/scissors, whistle, photon light, and compass. I also have chapstick, hand sanitizer, and sunscreen on small carabiners that can be lashed to the outside of my pack so they are easy to get at because I use them so often. I’ll also have a small notebook and pen for taking notes during the day so I don’t forget all the awesomeness to add to my daily blog, and a rope in case I hang my food (I have a feeling this plan will go out the window early, as so many use their food bags as a pillow). A small wallet with ID and cash will be in my misc. bag, as will a mini deck of cards… and maybe a cribbage board.

Electronics ::

PhoneSamsung Galaxy S3. I’m still getting used to this (I recently upgraded from an ol’ fashioned flip-phone), but I hope to use it as a phone and for texting, of course, as well as taking photos and typing up my blog entries. I also have the Backcountry Navigator PRO app with Halfmile’s waypoints downloaded. It looks awesome so far! I will also be carrying hard copies of Halfmile’s maps to refer to as I hike so I can keep my phone on Airplane mode as much as possible to save battery life.

Samsung Galaxy S3

Samsung Galaxy S3

Camera — Even though the camera on my phone is pretty sweet, I’m still going to carry my Olympus Stylus Tough camera. I love this thing, and I’ve used it for a long time in all kinds of crazy weather. I like that I can take it out and confidently get some photos when it’s raining or snowing without worrying about breaking it. I currently have a Gorillapod tripod and a SticPic packed, but I might just go with the SticPic because it’s super-fun to use!

Olympus Stylus Tough

Olympus Stylus Tough

Headlamp — I’ve been carrying the Black Diamond Spot for a long time (I’m on my 2nd one, even!). It’s super bright, and works great for hiking in early mornings before the sun comes up, or late at night. The only downfall is that it’s probably one of the heavier backpacking headlamps out there. I plan to bring it, but I do have the Pitzl E+Lite as a backup. I may just end up switching to that one.

Black Diamond Spot

Black Diamond Spot

Electronics Misc. — I’ll carry my iPod for those situations I need a pick-me-up. Also a couple of extra phone batteries and a couple of extra camera batteries.

Well, that’s pretty much it, for now. Some of these things will be replaced, some will be tossed and not used, some things might be added, and some will stick with me the whole trail. But regardless, I’m sure if you follow this blog, you’ll hear all about what worked and what didn’t!