Time is quickly running out for preparation for my Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike, and while I wish I had more time to prepare, I also can’t wait to head out to the trail and get hiking.
Last Saturday, my family threw me a going-away party, which was fun since I got to see relatives I don't often see these days.
That evening, I finally got around to filling my bear canister to see how much food I could fit into it. It turns out that it's only four days worth of food, which was surprisingly low. I will have to see if I can repack it, possibly including fewer snacks, and try and get an additional day or two worth of food in. Four days from where I’m having my bear canister shipped to (Kennedy Meadows) puts me right at Crabtree Meadows, where I’m stopping for a day to summit Mount Whitney, which is going to make that somewhat inconvenient. (Though, I’m also being conservative on distance per day and and how many snacks I’m going to bring, and I may be able to get another two or three days of food in with fewer snacks.
I also stopped by REI to get a new pair of shoes. Rather than the low-cut Merrell Moab 2 shoe I picked up last month, I picked up a mid-cut version of that shoe, which goes above my ankle. It’s not quite as tall as my Lowa Renegade boots I used on the Appalachian and Long Trails, but it feels a lot more secure than the low-cut Moab. The low-cut shoe, I’ve decided, will become my replacement non-hiking shoe. They’re fairly comfortable, and they’ve been serving that purpose well the last few weeks, replacing the sneakers I got shortly after returning from the AT. (That pair of shoes has had its insoles wear out so badly that they’re destroying my socks!)
The day after, I also (finally!) got out for a day hike with a fully loaded pack, hiking the Billy Goat C and B trails and part of the C&O Canal Tow Path near Great Falls, MD. Hiking with a bear canister was less than ideal, since it fits very tightly into my pack and winds up taking up a lot more space than its internal volume would suggest. Still, the hike wasn’t too bad, even if I probably carried more weight than any point on the Long Trail last year.
This week has been extraordinarily busy. Besides the additional hike prep I still need to complete, and on top of some significant work projects that must be completed before I leave, I gave two talks. On Wednesday, I gave an updated version of my talk comparing long-distance hiking with software development at a local software developers meetup. On Thursday, I flew out to Minneapolis to give a talk on computational algorithmic complexity at Midwest PHP. (I am at the airport now, waiting to fly home, as I write this.)
What remains of this weekend (which is going to seem like half a day between a late arrival home and the beginning of daylight saving time) is going to involve decompressing from travel, buying more food for the hike, and catching up on work I missed while I was out the last few days. Also likely is one final trip to REI to use my member dividend payment to pick up new trekking poles.
In weather news, last weekend, a fairly large snowstorm hit the mountains in California, adding several feet of snow. This brings the snow levels in the Sierra to one-third of average, up from only a quarter of average that it was last week. Unless (and likely, even if) there is another significant snow event, we’re looking at a low snow year. So even though I’m likely to hit the Sierra ”early” in the season (in May), it shouldn’t be too bad from a hiking perspective. I’ll have microspikes with me from the start to help with traction, if necessary, and I get the feeling that anything more significant (such as crampons, or an ice axe) will be unnecessary. Still, time will tell, and I can always pick up additional snow equipment if it becomes necessary.