Life Update prior to PCT Thru-hike

Hi all,

Amos and I hit the Trail in a couple of  weeks?!

In March, I completed my Master’s degree in Environmental Education – woohoo! While I am happy to be a recent graduate, there are definitely confusing / conflicting feelings as I navigate the transition into #traillife. This past week we packed away most of our possessions into a 5×5 storage unit and said goodbye to life with our amazing roomie. Now, we’re living out of my car until we fly to AZ, and then we’ll catch a ride with Amos’ brother to the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail to begin our thru-hike attempt.

Before we moved out of the house, I laid out all of the gear I’ll start with, captured in the photo above. We also created an Instagram story about our food and resupply strategy – you can view that here! In my experience, your taste buds change drastically during a thru-hike, which is why we made only three resupply boxes beforehand. In Oregon and Washington, when we walk through nice big towns with nice big grocery stores, we’ll make boxes to send ahead. Some folks have voiced their desire to send us a box, too. If you’re interested, please let me know and I’ll share our itinerary with ya!

Snow in the Sierras!

It is a big snow year in the Sierras. Postholer.com has been a useful resource in realizing just how much snow there is!

Trail snow, not snowpack, is 154% of average. Their “Sierra Entry Indicator” currently estimates that hikers won’t be heading north of Kennedy Meadow until June 27, which is a solid month after our estimated arrival. So…who knows what this will mean for our thru-hike! It is not just snowpack we have to worry about, but unsafe river crossings from melting snow. Our plan B as it stands will be to skip that section, finish the rest of the trail and then go back to hike the Sierras after reaching Canada, partaking in what is known as a “flip flop.” While it is not ideal – and a bit of a logistical nightmare (!) – safety is our number one priority and who am I to complain about the weather? California NEEDS that snowpack.

With all of this in mind, Amos, our friend Marissa, and I practiced self-arrests with our ice axes to get mentally pumped for snow traverses, and to dial in the motions as muscle memory. My Floridan-childhood did not prepare me for snow, let alone falling down snow. I can easily count on one hand how many times I have gone sledding in my life (the answer is three). That makes self-arrest practice real interesting!

Starting Base Weight

On a final note, my base weight to start is 12lbs – a number that I admit is higher than I wanted, but still pretty freaking light. Right now I’m debating whether or not a Kindle e-reader and camp shoes are worth the 12.81 oz! My starting weight on the Appalachian Trail was around 16-18lbs. In the five years since, I’ve upgraded my gear closet significantly, and can thank having a job, living below my means, and the time to monitor discounts for the ability to do so.

Here’s my current breakdown, thanks to Lighterpack.com

You can view the rest of my items here (list is subject to change as I ditch or trade out items). In the past year I have spent $427.50 to upgrade “The Big Stuff,” meaning my sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and the tent I’ll share with Amos. This money cut many lbs from my pack’s base weight; I bought all of these items on sale or through Reddit, so if you buy these items new and at regular price it will cost more. For all other gear purchases, I spent around $310. Most of the items I have listed were purchased over the past six years or gifted from friends and family. Hopefully this is helpful in you figuring out the cost of a thru-hike, or if you’re interested in upgrading gear for lighter options.

Now, Amos and I are sitting at a library in British Columbia – remember, I said we’re location independent for a while! I’m still trying to figure out how to spend my time now that I am out of grad school… Oh, what will I read?? Anywho, the sun is shining and that means we better get outside!

I’ll update soon?

– Montana

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