Archive for the ‘Preparation’ Category

Monday, September 19 Home!

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

SUMMARY:  Avis is the only car rental company that does not charge a dropoff fee for one-way rentals, so that’s where our friend took us this morning at the Portland Airport.  We ended up with a new gray Kia, and as Bill put it, “flogged that poor horse” as fast as we dared, all the way back to Petaluma.  It’s a very familiar route along Interstate 5, and made us feel as if we really were headed home.

Back in California at last, the rice harvest was underway in the Sacramento Valley, and it was hot!  97 degrees!  What a change from the cold in northern Montana!

But once we were back near San Francisco Bay, it cooled down, and what a joy to come back into Petaluma and see our house again, looking OK.  Inside, I expected to see spider webs and dust bunnies everywhere, but no–everything was fine.  But we had no time to waste–we needed to return the Kia to Avis at the Santa Rosa Airport.

So we started up one of our other cars, and drove in the sunset light, then the dark, till we finally located Avis (not easy) and turned in the Kia.   By the time we got home again, it was after 10:00 pm.  Tired doesn’t even come near describing how we felt, but we stopped off to pick up some artisan bread, cheese and fruit for a late supper, California style.

Home.  We are finally home.  The CDT is almost like a dream–but we still have lots of scratches, bruises and sore muscles to prove that we really did do it.    And thank you, thank you, Father God, for walking with us all the way!

DETAILS:  Our friend John gave us a ride to the Avis car rental at the Portland Airport.  Good thing he is a Portlander–he knew a way to avoid the commute traffic!  Avis is the only car rental company that does not charge a horrendous fee for one-way rentals.  Good for them!  We ended up with a cute gray KIA “Sportage”, and we left the airport at around 8:30 am with one goal:  Make it to the Santa Rosa, CA airport BEFORE 9:30 pm!  That meant we really had to push it.  Fixit drove as fast as he dared.  “I’m really flogging this poor horse”, he said.

It was cloudy and chilly, even foggy, through most of the Willamette Valley.  We could not see the Cascades at all, and could not even see the Coast Range, not even Mary’s Peak, which is a sizeable mountain west of Corvallis.  We cheered when we saw several new hazelnut orchards along I-5–that means more nuts to make Nutella, which we ate gobs of on the trail!  The tall, beautiful oak and maple trees had just a hint of fall color, unlike the full-on brilliance of fall foliage in Montana.

By 11:00 we were starving hungry and made a pit stop at Subway for sandwiches, before pushing on.  As we got into the Siskiyou mountains of southern Oregon, the clouds began to lift, and by the time we reached the CA border, the sun was out and the sky was blue.  All the rivers we crossed–the Umpqua, the Klamath, the Sacramento–seemed to be running well, with plenty of water.  And best of all, the forests were GREEN–no beetle kill!  No miles and miles of gray, dead trees, like we saw in Colorado, Wyoming and even Montana.

Down from the mountains, then into the Sacramento Valley, where there were many new orchards, mostly of nuts–almonds, pistachios and walnuts, plus new vineyards.  The rice harvest was underway, and the rice paddies were a beautiful shade of gold and green.  The sunflower fields were already harvested, and so was the corn.  I love looking at all the different crops and watching what’s happening on the farms.  It was HOT, though–97 degrees.  What a change from the chill of northern Montana!

Finally we were able to head west on I-80, and we cheered again when we spotted the blue of San Francisco Bay, and soon we were back in Sonoma County with its vineyards and farms, then finally on our own street, and into our own driveway.  My first thought was, “Whew, the garden survived!”  But we had no time to waste.  We tossed our packs into the house, took a deep breath, prayed, and….our own car, which had been just sitting all summer, started right up!  Whew!  The sun was going down, and we still had quite a way to go before we would be at the Santa Rosa Airport.   Fixit drove off in the KIA, with me following, and before long, we were driving in the dark, heading north.

When we reached the airport, we had an awful time trying to figure out where to go, where to turn in the KIA.  It was almost 9:00 pm, and nobody was around in the rental car parking areas.  Finally we figured it out, got the KIA squared away, and FINALLY we were REALLY headed HOME.  It was 10:00 pm by the time we were back in Petaluma, but we stopped off to grab food for a California supper–artisan bread, cheese, fruit.  We scarfed it up and collapsed into our own bed.  What’s weird is that our whole CDT summer just seemed like a dream.  Did we really do it?  Well, the proof was we were bone-thin, full of scratches and bruises, and very tired.  Yes, we DID it!

Thank you, Lord!  It was great!




Saturday, September 17 Canada, eh!

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

SUMMARY:  The wind howled all night, and this morning the clouds were moving in fast, looking nastier by the hour.  Before 7 am, we were on the road, headed for Canada, walking against a stiff headwind.  Finally the road dropped down enough to be out of the wind, whew!   And at 9:05, we walked up to the US side of the border.  It was no problem then walking over to the Canadian side for pictures and some cheering!  (Getting back across was harder, though–the USA border officials gave us a bit of a bad time)

The long hike is DONE.  Worth it?  Absolutely.  We got to see God’s loving care firsthand almost every day on this hike, in ways only He could manage, ways we never even dreamed were possible.

Two songs were running through my head as we hiked in the early morning wind and clouds–one a Christian song and the other a sea chantey.  I did change the words a bit….

“Bless the Lord, oh my soul” was a song that I sang to myself on the very first day of our hike, as we were on our way to the CDT beginning at Crazy Cook monument, New Mexico.

“The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning–it’s time to sing Your song again.   Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me, Let me be singing when the evening comes, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, oh my soul, He loves and cares for me, Sing like never before, oh my soul,  My Father walks with me.”

And then there is the sea chantey, “Home, Dearie, Home.”   Here’s my version to celebrate reaching Canada:  “Oh it’s home, dearie, home, My tops’ls are hoisted, and I’m bound to sea.  The birch and the larch and the bonny aspen tree are all turning gold in this north country, and it’s home, dearie, home.”

DETAILS:   The wind howled and blew all night, but it wasn’t too cold, and clouds started to fill the sky.  We ate our last CDT “trail” breakfast in the tent while it was still dark (yum, it was good!) and headed back to the Parkway for the final walk to Chief Mountain border station.  We were walking as fast as we could, hoping to be there when the station opened at 9:00 am.

But the wind seemed determined to give us a hard time.  We were walking straight into a very strong headwind that slowed us down.  All around us the aspens were a glorious gold color, and in the sky, the increasingly menacing clouds glowed red.  We looked at those clouds and said to each other, “Wow, it’s a good thing we’re almost done!”   We kept fighting the wind and kept walking, till finally the road dropped down a bit and we were more protected.  Whew, what a relief!

We reached the National Park border and cheered–kept on walking, peering hopefully around every bend for our first sight of the Border station.  Finally, there it was!  We walked past the line of cars waiting to enter Canada, and asked the guard if we could walk over to the big “International Peace Park” sign where the American and Canadian flags fly side by side, and take a few pictures to celebrate our CDT finish line,  then come back.  He said, “Sure!  Just let me have a look at your passports first.”  A quick glance, and he handed them back.  “Congratulations!”

So we walked over to the sign to get some pictures.  I took pictures of Bill with the Canadian flag, and he was starting to take some pictures of me, when a car pulled up and a lady hopped out.  “Would you like me to take of picture of you two, together?” she asked.  Oh yes!  I was so grateful to her for stopping.

Then we walked back past the Canadian border guard.  We could see Terry, the guy we’d met at the St. Mary’s restaurant, waiting for us.  At that point, we could have simply walked back on the left side of the road, then cut over to where Terry was.  But we thought, “We don’t want the US border guards to think we’re trying to sneak in.  We’d better go through on the right side.”  Big mistake!   We politely crossed over the road (still on the Canada side of the border) and walked up to the US border station, just as we had walked up to the Canadian one.  But to our complete astonishment, one of the border people (a lady) started yelling at us very fiercely and acted rather threatening.  We were amazed.  What on earth had we done?  Well, we finally deciphered what all her yelling was about.  Apparently, if you WALK in, there is a special pathway you are supposed to follow, and we weren’t on it.  OK, what pathway?  We had seen no sign or indication of it.  So as politely as I could, I said, “We are so sorry.  We didn’t know.  Where would you like us to go?”  She pointed to an orange cone back down the road a bit and said, “Go there, and wait until I tell you that you may come in!”

So we dutifully turned and walked back to the orange cone and stood there waiting.  Terry, who was on the US side of the border, was watching all this, equally amazed.  Finally the fierce lady gestured to us that we could come across the border.  She checked our passports and snarled at us some more and finally let us go.   Terry hurried up to us and said, “Whoa!  That was bad!”

We hopped into Terry’s car, and headed back towards his place, stopping off for a second breakfast along the way, and then Terry took us to his place in St. Mary’s, where we were able to do laundry and take showers and have a snack and watch some of the amazing videos and photos that Terry has done.  He likes to hang out with the grizzlies and make videos of them!  He said “If you meet a grizz, just sit down on a log or a rock or something and TALK to it.”  He said that’s what the Native Americans do.   Outside, it was beginning to rain, and clouds covered the mountains.

Then Terry gave us a ride back to East Glacier.  Fixit and I were amazed as the car sped along.  We were thinking, “Did we really walk all this way in just the last couple of days??”  But for me it was a bit of a tough ride because I was in the back seat, the road was very winding, and I haven’t ridden in a car all summer.  So I was battling car sickness the whole way.  Fortunately, Terry kept stopping to take pictures.  “You guys are really lucky!” he said.  “The aspens are at their peak.”  Every time he stopped to take pictures, I would get out and walk around in the cold wind and rain drips, trying to breathe deeply to calm my poor stomach down.  (I heard later from Stop N Go that when he got his ride back from the border, he also got horribly carsick!)

On the drive, Terry told us about his adventures in wildlife photography, and also about how the Native Americans live around here.  He is a friend to many of them and has learned a lot about how they think and see things.  Turns out that he makes a living as a swimming pool expert, particularly in the area of pool chemistry.  He said you CAN have a clean pool without using all the horrible chemicals (like chlorine, etc.).   Terry is a man of many interests and talents, he has no “home base”, really, but is constantly travelling, staying in one place for a little while before moving on.  Actually, he was planning to “move on” tomorrow, so we were really blessed to meet him when we did.

Back at last in East Glacier, we gratefully thanked Terry.  He headed back to St. Mary’s, and Fixit wanted to head for some lunch, but I still felt so carsick that I could not yet face eating anything.  So we went and got our “CDT Finish Celebration” T-shirts.  Fixit got a specifically CDT shirt, while I got one of a hiker out in a remote mountain area that said, “Not all who wander are lost.”  Yeah.  No kidding!

Finally I felt well enough to face eating a late lunch, and then we went to the Amtrak station to get our train tickets for Portland.  We needed to wait a couple of hours, so we used that time to go through our packs and get rid of anything we didn’t need anymore.  And the train station itself is actually sort of a museum, with a lot of very interesting exhibits about the history of East Glacier, the Park, and the train.

Meanwhile outside, it was getting colder and colder.  The wind was gusting, and the rain really started to come down.  The clouds were low–we could not see the Glacier Park mountains at all.  Fixit and I looked at that and said, “Thank you, Lord, that we are not up there!  Please take care of our friends who ARE up there!”   Just before the train was due, Stop N Go came tearing in, and he was able to get a ticket, too.  Whew!

We shivered through the cold and rain on the platform, and it felt so good to sit down and be able to just look out a window at the gray skies and pouring rain.  The train pulled out of the station, and it was “Goodbye, Glacier, we’re homeward bound!”  I stayed glued to the train window until it was too dark to see anymore, and then we went and got dinner at the dining car before curling up on our seats to catch a bit of sleep as the train headed for Portland.

Again, words cannot express how grateful we are to God for all He has done for us.  Every step of the way, He has been with us.  If you are reading this and you do not yet know Him, reconsider.  He loves you, He can change your life, and He has made the way to come to Him, by letting go of “me do” and trusting in what Jesus did FOR you.



Like I said, we are dinosaurs….

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

april-27-1It’s a cold, cloudy morning with rain in the forecast, and we are finishing up all the last details for heading out tonight for the first stage of a summer on the CDT.  Most of today will not be CDT stuff, though–it will be getting ready for our Awana Club Awards Night.  There are decorations to put up, lots of ribbons and trophies to set out, and programs to copy and fold.  It’s fun to see the kids’ faces when they come in and see the big display, and to enjoy the applause as they come up to get their awards!

This will be my last chance to do a post on our computer, though.  Like I said, we are dinosaurs, and that’s not just technology-wise, that’s age-wise, too.   On the trail, we need all the rest we can get, and posting to a blog does not involve resting, at least not for us.

So from today on, I will be scribbling in a journal every night, and writing a couple of neat, clear summary sentences for the day.  At each resupply, I send my journal to our daughter who can then transcribe the summary sentences to this blog.

So from this point on, you will be getting a Readers’ Digest version of our hike–when we return in September, I will fill in all the details!

So it begins…..

Exotic animals??

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

april-26-1Most people the age of Fixit and I are limping around with knee replacements, hip replacements, multiple prescriptions for blood pressure, cholesterol, etc, and they look at Fixit and I as if we were weird exotic animals in the zoo.   They see us putting on 20 lb. packs and heading out for a day of hiking in rain or mud or heat or fog or whatever and they shake their heads and say, “You’re just lucky,”  or “I wish I had knees like you–you got the good genes” and other similar remarks.

At moments like that, I am tempted to growl like some exotic animal and say, “NO, IT’S NOT LUCK!  It’s hard work and living healthy!”   We made a decision many years back to NOT let ourselves get all run down and decrepit.  It started when we decided to hike the PCT in 2005, and discovered that it’s possible to stay strong and do well even if you are “old.”  And to give credit where credit is due, we have also appreciated the insights we gain from “alternative medicine” newsletters–the best one is “Health Alert” from Dr. Bruce West.  We take no prescriptions, and we  literally have not had a cold or flu or any of that in years, thanks to his ideas plus others we’ve gleaned here and there.

Before we did the PCT in 2005, we did have a few knee problems and feet problems and hip problems.  But all of those have gone away as we maintain a lifestyle of hiking a lot!  We sort of joke about it–“Are you hurting?  Walk it off!”  Once in a rare while (and it’s been years since I’ve had to do this) we will take some “Vitamin I” (ibuprofen) if something hurts so much that we can’t sleep.

april-26-3It’s been discovered that basically, we humans are engineered to WALK.  It’s our most efficient and comfortable activity.  Running trashes your knees, and sitting trashes a lot of other stuff, but walking makes your whole body happy. So what could be better than a really long walk–like the CDT??  A walk where you can throw away the car keys and just walk as far as you want and see new things every day and meet new people and have new adventures–there’s nothing better!

So when people look at us as if we were exotic animals and talk about how “lucky” we are to not be suffering from the usual “old people stuff”, we don’t growl–we just smile sweetly and say, “It’s not luck–it’s hard work and determination.  And it’s fun!”

The fun begins tomorrow night, when we leave home behind and start making our “run for the border”!



Monday, April 25th, 2016

I spent my whole afternoon yesterday setting up for, helping to run, then putting away, a leadership class for teens and preteens connected with the Awana Club we run for kids.   It was work, oh yes–but MEGA worth it!

Years ago, two of our own kids were in 4-H, which is a great organization, and one of the basic principles in 4-H was that kids not just learn how to DO projects (raise animals, sew, cook, build machines, whatever) but that they also learn how to TEACH what they learned and how to be LEADERS in the various project categories.  When we started the Awana Club, I took that idea and ran with it.  So as a result, many of the leaders in our club, who help run club and teach younger kids, are preteens and teens, just as in 4-H.

With the PCT and CDT and AT, there is no way these trails and all the work connected with them could ever “just happen.”  It took leadership.  It took somebody or somebodies willing to bear the burden of planning, of organizing, of hearing all the complaints and grumps and grouses, of being criticized and critiqued, and all the other “wonderful” benefits of being in leadership.  It took time.  Lots of time.   It took vision that could survive all sorts of stress and distractions.  It took caring–caring about the trail and about the trail community.  And a lot more.

So thank you to all those in leadership on the CDT!   I have never met you, but I know you are there–I hear Teresa’s name mentioned often, for example–and I am grateful that I can set down my own “leader hat” for this summer and just put on a pack and hike the trail that YOU have made possible.  Thank you so much!


Age & guile??

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

We have a saying at our house that goes like this:  “Age & guile beats youth & strength, but little & cute beats everything!”  Well, we passed the little & cute stage a looooong time ago, and youth & strength is in the misty past, too.  So we’re left with age & guile.  Yes, to do a 3,000 mile thru hike when you are 60, 70 or 80 years old does require a certain amount of guile (the GOOD kind!).

So what’s our “guile”?   It’s taken us two thruhikes of the PCT to figure it out, but basically it’s these things:


  1. Get enough rest.   We take a break midmorning and midafternoon, where we lie down and totally relax for about 15 minutes.  We take an hour off for cooking lunch and lying down for awhile.  We stop at around 5:00 for a cold supper before hiking on till 7:00 to make camp.  And when we are in town for a resupply, we try to spend as much time just lying around resting as we possibly can.   We met Bristlecone, who was hiking the PCT at age 80, and he said his policy was “A full zero at every resupply.”  Welllll, we tend to do neros, not zeros, but Bristlecone is on the same page with us.
  2. Train, train, train.  If we don’t thoroughly train, we get blisters, we are sore and our knees hurt.  Train means carrying weight (we are carrying 20 pounds right now) and doing around 30 plus miles a week.
  3. Trek poles!   There is no way we could hike without them!
  4. Shoes that protect our feet from rocks.  As you get older, you lose the fat padding on the bottoms of your feet.  It’s so not fair, but that’s how it is.  (Too bad there isn’t some way to transfer fat from OTHER places down to our feet)  We have found that we MUST wear shoes that have tough, protective soles and foot protection.  For us this year, that’s La Sportiva Ultra Raptors. They are reasonably light, but do the job on rough trail.  We used to wear Vasque Velocity but sigh, can’t get them anymore.

So that’s our “basic guile.”   This time, I am finding also that being older means I don’t sleep as well, so I am also bringing melatonin.  Never used to need it, but now I do.

Countdown progresses: 4 days left to go!

Last training hike–wet grass, ticks, FUN!!!!

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

IMG_0472Well, the countdown is seriously happening–we did our last “big” training hike yesterday, out at Point Reyes National Seashore, on one of our favorite 20-plus mile loop hikes.  The route we took has everything we want–big hills, awesome mountain and ocean views, and enough uncomfortableness to make it a reasonable replica of what we figure will be the real deal on the CDT.

We parked our car at the Bear Valley trailhead and headed out across the meadow on the Rift Zone trail.  It didn’t take long before we were knee and thigh deep in VERY wet grass hanging over the trail.  (Trail?  What trail?  We couldn’t even see it in all the long grass!)  Our nylon hiking pants were totally soaked, but no problem–we knew they would dry fast.  Then into the cow pastures (short grass, well chewed down) and waved at the cows as we went by.  We’d anticipated a lot of mud there, but it wasn’t as bad as usual.  Along the fire road then–easy going through the beauty of a Point Reyes forest full of magnificent trees, ferns and wildflowers.

IMG_0476The Horse Camp was empty–no horse people there yet–we joined up with the Olema Valley trail, and finally  began climbing the first big hill, up and up till we reached the Bolema Trail at the top of the first ridge.  From there we switched to the Lake Ranch Trail, which passes a lot of interesting territory (including some bogs and swamps) high up on the mountain, before switchbacking down through a lot more long wet grass with the added challenge of large stinging nettles and poison oak.  Sometimes I felt like I was running a gauntlet, trying to avoid the nettles and the oak.   Usually along here we get our first wonderful views of the ocean, but no luck there–it was gray and obscure, since we were actually IN a cloud.  The forest around us looked mysterious, misty and wonderful.

IMG_0475Four hours later, we had come down to the Coast Trail, and one of our favorite lunch spots under a huge old Douglas Fir tree that overlooks a large lily pond.  When I sit there leaning on the massive old trunk, with long branches drooping almost to the ground around us, I feel like a chick under its mother’s wings.  And another bonus–underneath a Douglas Fir, the ground is dry, even if it’s rainy.  And it was rainy–misty rain that didn’t even make raindrop ripples on the pond.

IMG_0467After lunch, we followed the Coast Trail past large, dark, beautiful Bass Lake to the Ocean Lake Loop trail and headed along there for ocean views and more lakes.  Finally we reached  Wildcat Camp and another big hill climb with views (and often wildlife sightings).  The trail wanders through dark forests and sunny meadows, on rough trail and smooth, before reaching its final descent to the clifftops right above the ocean.  (Yesterday, somewhere along there, both Fixit and I picked up some ticks, which we had to deal with later. ) The hike along the clifftops is wonderful–wildlflowers!  Waves breaking on rocks!  Fishing boats offshore!  Finally we made the turn for home onto the Bear Valley Trail and followed creeks up the wooded, ferny valley to the ridgetop, then down the other side.

IMG_0465It made for 8 hours of awesome hiking, with only a lunch break.  We didn’t follow our PCT/CDT routine of stopping every 2- 2 1/2 hours for a snack–just kept walking.  So when we got back to the car, we were pretty tired!   We also discovered that we’d picked up some ticks–they were crawling on my pants (but my gaiters kept me out of trouble).  Once we got home, we did a thorough “tick check” before taking showers and I found two ticks crawling on Fixit and one teeny tiny one crawling on me.  But crawling was all they were able to do–we got rid of them, pronto!  Oh well, my motto this time of year is, “When the grass is green, the ticks are seen”.   As long as they don’t “bite in”, we’re fine!

Our CDT boxes have left our house and gone to live at a friend’s house–he will be mailing them for us!  Now we are down to all the “little stuff”–I still have more modifications I want to do on my pack, and we need to make sure our garden irrigation system is working OK.  And we are getting ready for our final big Awana event–Awards Night!

Yum, yum!

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

People sometimes ask us “What do you enjoy about doing thruhikes?”   I could say (and very truthfully) that I love being able to just hike and hike without feeling like I’m on a leash where eventually I have to turn around and head back to the car.  I could say that being able to see the awesomeness of the mountains and the trees and rivers and not having to deal with crowds of people is a big plus.  I could say that being in a situation where I actually have to depend on God and not just rely on civilization is a great experience, which it is.  On that subject, I’m with Joe Anderson at Casa de Luna on the PCT.  We were sitting around at his place in 2010 and he was telling us the story of how he started hosting hikers and being a trail angel.  Joe said, “Listen up!   I get to hear hundreds of hiker stories from all you guys and you all talk about trail magic.  I got news for you, reality check.  It’s not magic.  There really is Somebody up There, looking after you.  The stuff I hear that’s happened for hikers, there is NO WAY that could all “just happen.”  So give credit where credit is due.”   Fixit and I listened and almost started yelling, “Amen!”  It is so true.

But one of the other reasons why I really enjoy thruhiking, including right now when we are just preparing, is that we get to EAT!   Eat all we want!  Normally we are careful because we don’t want to be overweight.  But when we get into serious training mode for a thruhike, we get to eat all we want!   Bring on the calories!  In 2005 we were on the PCT and reached Sierra City.  It was chilly and cloudy that day, and we were glad to head into one of the restaurants to have dinner and sit by the fire.  We had just finished up our food when the owner of the restaurant came by.  She said, “I love PCT thruhikers!  You always clean your plates!”   We looked down and she was right–not a speck of food left!

So I am having fun eating spoonfuls of Nutella, lots of gravy and potatoes and cheese and cookies and, etc.  Yum, yum!


Piles of boxes…and what about those piles of snow?

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

We’ve now filled 23 resupply boxes with stuff for the trail.  It’s been interesting to watch the “cycle” through our house.  First came the lists (that was me), then the shopping (me) and ordering stuff online (me and also Fixit).

Once the stuff started arriving, our living room became the receiving dock.  Soon there were bags and boxes of trail stuff, roughly categorized into things like “freezedried dinners”,  “dried veges”, “granola”, “nuts”, etc.  Our living room is small, so it got to the point where we could hardly walk around.

Once we had everything, came step 2:  Measure and count.  (That was my job).  I spent countless hours measuring and counting so that our supplies ended up as individual daily “baggies” of everything.  When we first started backpacking, I didn’t bother with this step–just threw all the granola into one bag, all the dried veges into another, all the powdered milk into another, etc.   Problem:  out on the trail, I never could get it right and at the end of the trip we either had stuff left over or were running on short rations.  So when we did the PCT in 2005, I bit the bullet and disciplined myself to measure and count everything for each separate day.  Wow, on the trail it was great!  No measuring, no counting, no worries.

Once all was measured and counted, came step 3:  collate.   This was also my job.  I assembled a “dinner bag” for each day, containing a freezedried meal (I repackage so it’s lighter and less bulky), extra carbs (rice/noodles/potato), dried veges, and some cookies.  “Breakfast bags” contain vacuum-sealed granola (Fixit did the sealing), freeze dried fruit, nuts and powdered milk.  “Lunch bags” have crackers, peanut butter or freeze-dried refried beans & cheese, and dried fruit.   Then because we are old, there were the “vitamin bags” with our daily vitamin rations.  And the “drink bags” with Emergen-C, Crystallite, and electrolytes.  Oh, and every one of those bags was labeled as to which resupply box it belonged in.  And there were various other small things, too.

Meanwhile, out in our garage, Fixit was laying out boxes, making his best guess as to which size for which destination.  We use ordinary brown cardboard boxes, and scrounge them from all over the place, including out in back of a nearby large office building.  Once I was done collating, he and I started making lots of trips out to the garage and dropping things into their destination boxes.   Finally our living room was cleared out!   We could walk through it without feeling like it was an agility obstacle course!

At that point, Fixit took over.  He likes the challenge of seeing how small of a box he can make stuff fit into, and he is really good at it.  Once all the supplies are into a box, on the top he lays the maps, town guides and journal pages.  Then with the prayer, “Oh Lord, hope we have everything here!”  he seals the box and tapes on labels (address, “CDT Hiker, ETA______”) and  “ORM-d” because there are Esbits inside and another note on some of the boxes that says “Liquid not over 4 oz, double sealed” (those boxes have tiny bottles of Purell or shampoo in them).  Last of all, every side of the box gets a green stripe that says “CHIPMAN” (our last name).

Once a box is sealed up and finished, it goes back to our living room, stacked in towers based on what mailing date the box should go out.   We mail everything USPS ground, except for 3 boxes that HAVE to go UPS.

The one box we have not sealed up yet is the one for Chama–we are still hesitating about whether to send snowshoes.  We go snow backpacking every year and know how awesome snowshoes are, but they are heavy and they are a hassle to mail.  Reports of this new storm in Colorado have us a bit concerned. Will there be piles of snow, or will it be pretty much melting down by the time we get there?  We are going to wait till the last minute to decide, and are watching reports on Colorado snow in the meantime.

Yesterday we enjoyed looking at pics of the  “CDTKO” in Silver City.  Looked chilly.  Looked like awesome fun!  Both times we did the PCT, we went to the PCTADZKO and it was a blast.  We were sorry to miss Silver City, but there is no way for us to leave till after April 27, when our Awana Club kids all get their final awards and the big Awards party!




Monday, April 18th, 2016

Last summer Fixit and I did the whole Tahoe Rim Trail by starting at Mt. Rose Summit, and resupplied at the halfway point, which was the Echo Lake resort post office.  We’d resupplied there both times we did the PCT, and had found the owners to be very friendly and helpful.  They even let us pick up our box outside of the posted post office hours and were cheerful and accommodating.

Not anymore.

Same owners–but their ATTITUDE toward hikers has totally changed.  And that’s because of two things:  the unbelievable hordes of people now hiking the PCT, and most of all, the rotten ATTITUDES of many of those hikers.  Instead of cheerful store owners at Echo Lake, we found them morphed into angry, growly and not accommodating at all.  We had to sit and wait over 2 hours before we could drop off our Rim Trail supply box, and then when we’d hiked around the lake and had arrived to pick up the box, we had to wait over three hours before they would let us have it.  And we had to endure them growling and snarling at us.  But under all the snarls and growls, we heard loud and clear their total frustration with the hikers.  Seems that an awful lot of people were coming in off the trail and proceeding to get drunk and disorderly and were leaving messes and annoying regular customers and in general being very obnoxious.

Attitude.   It’s seriously important when you thruhike.

For one thing, there is no way you are going to finish a 2,000 plus mile hike unless you have the right attitude.  Francis Tapon (one awesome hiker!) did a survey/study to figure out “What’s the key factor that determines whether a hiker will be able to finish the PCT/CDT/AT?”   Is it being younger?  No–lots of old guys finish.  Is it being fit & healthy?  No–people with medical issues do finish.  Is it having new gear?   No–people finish with all kinds of gear.  Is it better food?  No, people finish even eating junk, and whatever they can scrounge from hiker boxes.  Is it having plenty of money?  No, people finish who have very little money.  What it turned out is that being able to finish is all about your ATTITUDE and determination to finish.

Fixit and I think this is funny, sort of.   Here’s how we see it:   Starting the PCT/CDT/AT, you have to be a little bit unusual.  To keep going, you have to become a bit crazy.  And to finish, you have to be a bit insane!  You have to be able to laugh at things that would normally make you cry.  Add to your vocabulary the phrase, “Are we having fun yet?  Yeah!”   so you can yell it whenever things get really tough.

And attitude becomes REALLY important when you get into a resupply.  Every hiker in a way represents the entire hiker community.  We try to represent it well, and that means having a cheerful, friendly, respectful attitude when we are in town, and not leaving messes and getting drunk & disorderly and obnoxious.   We want those little mountain towns and resorts to be GLAD the hikers are coming through, not resentful and defensive.

From what we hear of the CDT, it is a real test for attitude–lots harder than the PCT.   Hopefully, we will pass the test.