…each year it gets easier, but it is still a lot of work…
My yearly section hike of the PCT is coming on fast. My dates are set and the goal is to reach the great State of Oregon – GO DUCKS! I have two windows of time – a long weekend in June and a week and a half in July.
Mid June I am going to take 3 ½ days to accomplish the 82 mile California Section O – Burney Falls to Castella.
Mid July I will take 12 days to complete the 218 miles of California Sections P,Q, and R – Castella to Callahan’s/Siskiyou Summit/Ashland Oregon.
Section O is pretty much a slam dunk. I have a ride to Burney Falls and an Amtrak ticket purchased for a late night train ride back to the Bay Area. Food and Gear area leftovers from last year with a few minor additions. Gear: I have added a freezer bag cozy for my rehydration efficiency, a long handled titanium spoon (Tired of fingers getting slimy while using a plastic spork that usually breaks on me at some point during a hike), and a new pair of shoes…I am trying out some Brooks Cascadia’s this year. After my New Balance fried my feet last year, we will see if this change makes any difference.
Food: I am trying something a little different this year. I stopped at the Korean grocery store and picked up some ramen and this wonderful product EasyBap – dehydrated bibimbap…just add water and the spice pouch and a meal is ready in minutes. The other items I have to eat are a few pouches of tuna fish that I think may have been with me for the past two years – the ‘use by date’ is in November 2016. I have a few Mountain House meals that will clean out my storage of last year’s food. The July trip will require some serious shopping.
Sections P,Q, and R are a bit more challenging. I can get a ride up I-5 to the trailhead, but getting home poses a little different challenge. In Ashland I would need to hitch from I-5 into town and either get myself up to the Medford Airport for a $300 flight to San Francisco or hop an Amtrak Bus that would drive a few hours east to Klamath Falls where I could hop a train to the Bay Area. Both are not ideal.
However, the biggest challenge so far is getting a resupply box out of Seiad Valley Post Office. I need to start either on a Sunday or Monday in order to get back into town to go on our annual family backpacking trip at the end of July. Each NOBO scenario I try puts me in Seiad Valley on to next Saturday or Sunday – If I stretch it to Monday it will push my train ride home to Friday morning, the day we head out as a family. The problem with the Saturday/ Sunday post office is that Saturday it is only open from 12-1:30 and Sunday is closed.
The alternate plan is to SOBO these sections. It puts me in for a resupply on Tuesday were the Post office is open from 12-4:30 and it puts me in Dunsmuir on a Wednesday, where I can catch a late train and be home Thursday morning. So, that’s the current plan…I am going to SOBO the last little bit of Northern California.
I have some mixed feelings about this, I had always thought I would walk myself into Oregon, not hike out of it. Plus it kind of screws up my cumulative mileage count from my starting point in Sonora Pass. At this point my answer to these questions is just do it like you always have, then reverse it, and no one will ever know the difference.
It is almost guaranteed I will be one of the few SOBO hikers in this area at this time. Most SOBO hikers (which there are so few of anyway) will still be farther to the north. I am sure to pass a few hundred NOBO hikers during this time frame…But, the passing will be brief. This will most likely allow me to avoid a situation like the one that happened last year in Old Station…But then again, Most section Hikers I have met on the trail are SOBO’ing it probably for the very reason to avoid the ‘bubbles’.
I still have a little over a month to plan and decide for that longer hike. Right now I am just going to focus on the 82 mile warm up in a couple weeks. 18.5 pound base weight…
Time to do a few shakedowns…