I’ve received some great questions from people about the upcoming adventure, and I wanted to share them here. If while reading through these questions, you think of one, please email me (email@example.com) — I might do another Q&A entry a little while later if I get enough questions. Here’s what I’ve gotten so far:
Why? Because I can’t get enough. I’ve dreamed of doing long hikes pretty much constantly since my first in 2006, so I might as well just do it again. As much as I love my weekend hikes, as well as the few extended hikes I get a chance to take, it’s just never enough. I could list a hundred reasons why that is… it’s good exercise, the scenery is awesome, the people are awesome, I can eat what I want and possibly still lose a few pounds, get dirt under my fingernails, swim in streams, smell the fresh air, laugh a lot and smile even more, it’s an adventure… I could go on. I love it. It’s my passion.
How long will it take? Somewhere between 5 and 6 months. Our tentative schedule is for a solid 5 months from April 22 – September 22.
How many miles do you go each day? The plan is to average about 20 miles/day over the entire trip. Mileages could range anywhere from 0 (zero day) to 30+. It’s common for thru-hikers to do a few 30-mile days in Northern California and Oregon.
Is your mom hiking with you again? No, she won’t be thru-hiking the PCT with me. I knew this trail was going to be pretty intense, and I know that my mom has the stubborn determination to do it (it’s where I get it from, after all!), but for the mileage I planned on doing, I don’t know that she’d enjoy it and probably eventually want to toss me off a mountain… especially if I made her climb that mountain! However, even though she isn’t hiking with me the whole way, her and my dad are going to try to come out and hike a few days with us. They are also deeply involved in the trip because they will be shipping our resupply boxes to us… which is HUGE.
She has expressed how much she wished she was going with me, though. And I wish she was going, too. We were great hiking partners and always will be. Since the ADT hike, my mom AND my dad have gone on a couple of EPIC trips with me. We thru-hiked the Tahoe Rim Trail in two awesome weeks, and they came with me and a group of friends to the Absaroka/Beartooth mountains for a challenging cross-country backpacking trip. Her and my dad are currently working on sections of the Superior Hiking Trail on their own, too, so backpacking is in their blood. Who knows… maybe we can all do the AT together some day! Will this be my next trip!? Hmmm…
What if you and your hiking partner start hating one another? Hate is strong word, and I reserve that for very specific (and very rare) situations, and I don’t know that I could ever use it when talking about another person. So I can say confidently that I will never “hate” my hiking partner, no matter what. However, we’ve discussed the possibility of finding out we drive each other bonkers after a couple weeks on the trail in each other’s footsteps… or maybe we just won’t be able to tolerate each other’s stink. We know these things are a possibility, so we are going to try to communicate that as soon as we feel the need for a little solo time. It shouldn’t be too tough to get some solo time, which is going to be important for both of us on this journey regardless of what we think about each other. We both have plenty of things to think about and work on in our heads, so on those days, we’ll just plan to hike a little ways apart and catch up at intersections, a lunch stop, or maybe even camp. We are both prepared to hike solo – we have all the gear and the means to do so. So, short answer? We won’t hate each other. But we are both willing to adapt as we go.
What portion of the hike are you most excited about? And, conversely, what part do you think will be the biggest blah? I feel like this answer should be a specific place, and I do have a few places I really look forward to seeing, but I’m mostly excited about feelings and experiences that I have no idea I’ll have until I have them — the unknown. I am really excited about living out of my backpack, as simple as it gets, and being IN my surroundings. I see pictures of the mountains and forests, streams, trails and lakes and all I can think is, “I want to dive into that picture and never come out.” Of course I will come out… I’ll need to see Adam and probably get a shower every once in a while! But I’m mostly excited to just live inside all that beautiful scenery – being a part of it — for 5 months straight. Oh, and another bonus of a 5-month thru-hike (in comparison to the several smaller trips I’ve been on) will be NOT having to say, “I wish I didn’t have to go back to work on Monday.”
As for the biggest “blah?” I think it will have something to do with a trail food I’m sick of eating but we have tons of. Also, I suppose there’s going to be a day here or there where walking just feels monotonous, or my feet hurt, or we wonder “how in the hell are we still in the desert?” but in the end I don’t think “blah” will come into mind much. But when it does, it will be about something small and temporary – and we’ll move past it quickly.
How many pairs of shoes will you need? I think we’ll each go through five pairs of shoes. Maybe six. We’re both starting out with the Brooks Cascadia 7 Trail Running shoes, which is what we’ve been training in all year and LOVE! We will start out in the same shoes we’ve been training in, as they still have plenty of miles on them, and we have our 2nd pair bought already. From there we will buy as we go, having them sent to Post Offices along the way for Adam to pick up for us. We chose to wait on buying ALL of our shoes after reading suggestions from past thru-hikers. Many peoples’ feet changed size, and then they had 5 or 6 pairs of shoes that didn’t fit. The Brooks Cascadia Trail Runner is the most popular shoe on the PCT for both men and women, and with how happy we’ve been with them so far, I don’t see us finding they won’t work, but we could get out there and not like how they feel on new terrain or something, too. So with these variables in mind, we decided to purchase as we go.
What’s Adam going to do while waiting for you between pick-up points? In addition to helping us out with our town chores and trail support, he’s got all kinds of things in mind to keep himself busy. He wrote an entry explaining his role in his blog at mobileoffic78.blogspot.com. Read about he’s going to be doing by clicking here!
What (besides people) are you bringing with if any to keep you from going insane? Like a stuffed animal or something? I’m not going to be carrying a stuffed animal with me, as I’ve tried to ditch most of my unnecessary gear to save weight… but I have added a few comfort items, and I suppose that’s to keep me from going insane… for example, on a long day or when I just need a distraction, I am bringing my iPod Nano. That way I’ve got some upbeat tunes to listen to if I’m getting cranky, tired, sore, or a combination of all three. And it’s got a radio, which could be fun if I’m able to lock in a local station. I may also carry a mini deck of cards. Oh, and Snickers. Those will help my taste buds from going insane.
What meal are you looking most forward to eating on the trail? Snickers and Jelly Beans are my favorite snacks. Other than that, everything. Seriously. I love to eat, always have, and eating will probably be one of my very favorite things to do while on the trail. It probably won’t even matter what it is half the time. Peanut butter, cheese, jelly beans, Sriracha sauce – all rolled into a tortilla? Maybe… everything tastes better on the trail!
As for when we get off the trail? That’s a whole new ballgame. Milkshakes are always my go-to. Burgers with bacon and cheese on them, brewed coffee, beer, steak, pizza… that’s a few of the things I think I’ll be getting in towns.
What’s the story on the pickle? Ah, Disco Pickle! Rachel, Adam and I wanted to come up with a unique name for the 3 of us on this hike. We had a lot of different ideas, but it was tough to come up with something that really wrapped up our three personalities as one. Disco Pickle is eventually what we decided on… after a night out and a few drinks. It’s silly, like us. The “Disco” comes more from Adam because he does this awesome dance (usually to a Bee Gee’s song), which he calls “The Grr Dance.” If you haven’t seen it, you totally should. It’s spectacular! The “Pickle” is more about me and Rachel. There’s a backstory, but I’m going to give you the short version: Rachel snuck a giant pickle into my backpack on one of our trips and I carried it the whole day before realizing it was in there. It was a great prank that we wanted to carry on, which we will… but in a lighter, less-food-smelling way… which you’ll see eventually see. ;)
Oh, and those giant, pre-bagged pickles? Nasty-tasting. Even on the trail. Gotta’ get a fresh one. The fresh ones are awesome.
Will you guys be tracking your weight gain/loss along the way? We will definitely weigh ourselves before and after and maybe take a few measurements. It’s definitely not something we’re going to focus too much on, but we are curious as to how our bodies will change. I can tell you for sure that we are both looking forward to dropping a few pounds, though! Where else can you eat as much as you want and still lose weight? Just another reason to love long-distance backpacking. It’s really all about food.
Gerbil? Livvy and Kandi, you crack me up and I love you. Thank you for asking this important question. Gerbil is a funny word, always has been, and always will be. That is all.
Does your budget take into account fluctuating fuel costs? Also, does your conscience bother you that you’re doing the LEAST GREEN thru hike ever? Thanks for the question, Adam! Ya’ poop. :)
But I’ll answer it anyway! I guess we sort of took into account fluctuating fuel costs, because our budget for gas is really high so we were sure to be covered. As long as it doesn’t go over $5/gallon, we should be okay. And no, my conscience doesn’t bother me at all about the least-green thru-hike having a car trail us… I get to see my husband regularly. And he’ll bring food. Two words: worth it.
What bug are you most afraid of? It’s always been the centipede. I hate them things and hopefully I won’t see any on the PCT. I honestly think I’d rather see a scorpion. As for spiders, I don’t mind them unless they surprise me. I admittedly do the “crazy-dance” when I run into a giant spider web and feel paranoid that there’s a giant fuzzy 8-legger running around on my back for the next hour. But my biggest bug fear is still those damn centipedes. I’ll let you all know if that changes along the way. Let’s just hope I don’t find something nastier than a bug that is named for having 100 legs – even though they have only 30-34 legs… it was named for having 100… because that’s what it seems like. Damn creepy 100-legged-looking nasty bugs. *shiver*
What are you doing after the hike? I have a blog entry that kind of explains it, but I’ll throw it in here – a short version. After the hike is done, I am going to school to earn my CDL (commercial driver’s license). Adam already has his CDL, so we will find a trucking company that is a good fit for us and team drive. It’s something we’ve always wanted to try, and we figured it would be a good transition from living out of a backpack and car for 5 months. We plan to drive truck at least until we have all of our debt paid off. From there, we don’t know yet, but we have lots of time to think about it and come up with a plan. Life is fabulous.
That’s all for now, folks! If you have any other questions, email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post it on the Disco Pickle Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/DiscoPickle. I’ll try to collect them for another entry if I get enough… or at least get an answer to you!
Random stats for today:
We are 54 days from hitting the trail.
I am in my last week of work – my last day is this Friday. Crazy.
Adam and I leave for our road trip in a little over 2 weeks.