Three Weeks to Go!
Thursday, March 1, 2018 12:41 am

Less than three weeks remain until I head into the wilderness of Southern California. I’ve been quite busy ticking things off my pre-hike to-do list. Sadly, this meant most of my attention for the last month has been on everything but the trail.

Doing All The Things

Having a full-time job while I’m doing hike prep has quite considerably slowed the hike prep, as compared to my Appalachian Trail hike. Actually knowing what I’m doing this time helps to make up for that, but it doesn’t make my weekends any less packed.

Shortly before both my AT and Long Trail hikes, I gave talks at a local programming meetup. For the PCT, I’m upping my game by giving my “Hiking & Hacking” talk at Joy of Programming next Wednesday, and then the next day, flying out to Minneapolis, MN to give my talk on Algorithmic Complexity at Midwest PHP. Fortunately, I’ve given both of these talks twice before, so the prep time for them hasn’t been bad. And it’ll be nice to check off one more state that I haven’t previously visited.

I also have three parties I’m going to between now and when I leave, none of which I really expected. So somewhere in what little time remains of my weekends before I leave, I’m going to have to do a shakedown hike or two.

And, I’ve made some significant updates to this blog to make it easier for me to post updates while on the trail.

But, enough complaining about non-hike stuff. Let’s talk about hiking!

New Gear

Early in February, I made a run to REI for more gear. In particular, I picked up a BearVault BV500 bear canister, which I’ll need in the Sierra, and three drysacks to replace drysacks that had developed holes on the AT and LT.

I also looked at shoes. While I was very happy with the Lowa Renegade boots I used on the AT and LT, for the PCT, I wanted to try something a little more lightweight and not waterproof. After trying on quite a few different shoes, I wound up with the Merrell Moab 2 Vent Low Hiking Shoe.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying it out, wearing it as a replacement for my sneakers, and it seems nice enough. Though, their real test will be a shakedown hike. Also on the plus side, it costs half as much as the Renegade, so I’ll likely replace them on-trail a bit more frequently.

Into Canada, Maybe?

Also early in February, I received my approved Canada PCT Entry Permit application, just in time for Greyhound to suspend bus service between Manning Park and Vancouver. This will make it a fair bit more difficult to get back home after going into Canada. But, I’m not going to be there for another five or six months, so I’m sure a solution will present itself before then.

Maps, Who Needs ’em?

Halfmile’s updated maps and trail notes were also released. A new reroute in northern California has lengthened the trail by about 2.5 miles. However, (and unrelated to the map updates) it’s now much more difficult to obtain printed maps.

There used to be an at-cost printing service for Halfmile’s maps. However, National Geographic (which provides the base maps over which the PCT is overlaid) asserted copyright and indicated that no money may be charged for printing their maps, which means the “only” way to get a paper copy of the maps is to print them yourself at home.

Which means that I’m probably going to forego the paper maps entirely, and stick with PDFs on my phone. (Though I was likely to do that anyway, since I don’t really want to deal with a bounce box or cary that much paper.)

Other Things

I now have my flight purchased, though with an unfortunate 6 am departure time. This was the best I could do, though, without either paying twice as much or getting in to San Diego at 9 pm.

California remains in a pretty significant snow drought, with less than a quarter of the average seasonal snowfall to date. There is, however, a weather advisory for a fairly significant snowfall into the weekend, though, so that might help deliver some much-needed water to the area.

I still have a few small pieces of gear to replace, but I’m just about ready to hit the trail for my longest hike yet!