Start Date: May 16, 2015*
Start Location: US/Mexico Border @ Campo, CA
Scheduled End Date: October 10, 2015
End Location: Manning Park, BC, CAN
Journey Length: 148 days (21 weeks) total, comprised of:
Average Pace: 21 miles/day
*Chris & Nick start at Campo, CA on May 16. Ben joins them near Palm Springs, CA on May 27.
We are following the traditional PCT thru-hiking strategy of hiking for 6 days, then resting for 1 (a Zero Day). This is our cycle on average—our shortest stretch is 3 days on the trail, and our longest is 9.
Every night on the trail (and some Zero Day campsites) we will be pitching our tent, cooking our dinner, and unwinding from a long day of walking. Our 3-person tent is 41 sq. ft., so we will be in close quarters for the entire trip. We'll probably draw straws to see who is confined to be middle spoon.
That's the minimum required for the three of us to walk 2,660 miles over 127 days (~4,000 per day per person). Calorie density is critical to maximize the number of calories for every ounce of food we carry. We've prepackaged most of our meals that hopefully have an adequate balance between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Most breakfasts are an oatmeal base where different toppings, such as dried fruits, nuts, sugar, and chocolate, add variety and extra calories.
Lunches consist mostly of snack-type foods that are easy to pack and easy to eat, like dried fruit, jerky, crackers, chips, tortillas, nut butters, honey, jam, cookies, candy bars, chocolate, and nuts. We will occasionally eat "bars," but we will go crazy if we have to live off those for 5 months.
We have 20 dinner recipes that have a grain base, a protein component, and various spices, sauces, and oils to keep our taste buds happy. An example is Peanut Sauce Noodles, that has angel hair pasta, chicken in a packet, peanut butter, garlic, lime powder, and rice vinegar powder. Each dinner is cooked by simply adding boiling water and waiting. You should be super jealous.
To avoid relying on small general stores to resupply our food (and occasionally equipment), we are mailing our prepackaged meals to designated resupply points along the trail, which are often Zero Days. This means that we will carry enough food to get us to the next resupply point.
You can send stuff to us at our resupply points. Check out or schedule for addresses and ETAs.
Some of our Zero Day locations are very close to the trail. Others are miles away, so we'll try to hitch our way into town. We'll spend our Zero Days relaxing, blogging, sitting around, sleeping, and best of all, EATING. Some locations will have hotels or lodges we'll stay in, but those can be expensive. When available, we'll often stay in campsites in the towns in order to save money.
THE RHYTHM OF LIFE
Thru hikers often comment on how the pace of life changes drastically while on the trail. The flow of time will slow down and our awareness of the surrounding environment will grow. Our minds will change, and we will see, hear, smell, feel, think, ponder, and experience life differently as the world beyond the trail—the modern, busy, fast, chaotic one that we're used to—slowly fades into the background.
Ultralight backpacking is an artful balancing act—lighter weight equates to faster, easier hiking, but carrying the small creature comforts that make 5 months in the backcountry bearable is a temptation that is difficult to resist.
Our goal is that our base-pack weights (without food & water) will be under 15lbs each. At the heaviest, which will be on the first day of our longest stretches, our packs will weigh about 40lbs.
Additionally, we will be taking some "communal" items that will make our journey more comfortable without sacrificing too much on weight, as we can split responsibility of carrying these items between the three of us.
Big Agnes Angel Springs UL3
Jet Boil Joule Group Cooking System
MSR Reactor Stove System, 2.5L
We are bringing our phones with us. Not only are we beta testing for CAIRN, but we will be using them for taking pictures, listening to music & audiobooks, blogging, finding our way around, and ordering new equipment.
We'll be carrying some rechargeable battery packs to power our phones since they will be continuously searching for GPS and LTE signals, which quickly drains a battery.
Nick knows the visual arts; he studied photography in college and has worked as a designer. He decided the ability to better capture our trip on a nice camera was more than worth the extra weight, so he is bringing his FujiFilm X100S. This camera features a prime lens, which is an economical way to produce fantastic photos from high quality lens glass, without being too expensive or bulky.
Chris is bringing a Kindle. Unfortunately, he can't read.
Since he won't be able to spend days dedicated to fly fishing this summer, Ben is going to bring along a tenkara rod (Japanese fly-fishing) for the occasional cast in a high-mountain stream. Since tenkara does not use a reel, the rod, line and flies together weigh less than 5oz. In the event that he catches a fish and wants some fresh sushi, he is also bringing an ultralight Ti knife from Kestrel Knives, which weighs less than 1 oz.
148 days total: 127 hiking days, 17 zero days, 4 adventure days
Nick & Chris start on May 16th. Ben joins them on May 27th near Palm Springs.
Scheduled end date is Oct 10th.
On average, 21 miles/day. Some will be as high as 30, others as low as 15.
Probably not. Though there will be times we will hike together, we can also hike at our own pace during the day. We will always have designated meeting points along the way where we can check in. Each night we will set up camp, have dinner, and sleep in the tent together.
Unless of course, someone gets voted off the island...
We vote. Majority rules. Always*.
*Chris is always right.
Hike, eat, sleep, repeat.
Look at pretty nature.
Tell fart jokes.
Berries, dirt, squirrels...
Natural and artificial water sources along the trail should provide most of our water, which we will have to treat, filter, or boil to make safe to drink. Because California is experiencing a bit of a drought, we expect there will be some water caches along the way, stocked by Trail Angels, to help thirsty hikers.
Not much. Our gear is ultralight to keep our base pack weights around 15lbs. See our "Equipment" section.
On the Trail: A tent that is probably too small for 3 grown men.
In Town: We'll probably share a queen bed when we can find one. Why raise the bar just to have it lowered the next night?
Ben: "In town!"
Nick: "In the streams!"
Chris: "We won't!"
On the trail we'll take baby-wipe showers; baby wipes are more valuable than gold. We’ll be back in town every 6-8 days for a resupply and rest. This will be an opportunity to take a real shower and sleep in a real bed.
Situation: Bear Mauling
Solution: Slowest person eaten, the other two continue in memory of their fallen comrade.
Situation: Dying of Thirst
Solution: Drink each other’s urine (gross but necessary).
Situation: Broken Neck
Solution: See "Bear Mauling"
But seriously; all three of us are familiar with wilderness travel, and we'll actually never be further than a few days from a town. We'll figure it out and be fine. So please don't worry.
If you can make the scheduling work, we would love the company!
HOWEVER: If you are serious about joining us, there are a few conditions that you must adhere to.
1. You MUST be in the proper physical condition that will allow you to hike 8-10 hrs a day for 3 days straight in order to put up 25 mi/day.
2. You MUST have all your gear, and it needs to be light.
3. You MUST arrange your schedule to match ours. We cannot change our plan to accommodate you.
The underlying message is that we are already planning on finishing the trail late in the season, and cannot afford slowing down. If you're up to the challenge, though, come join us!
Absolutely! Just make sure you stay up to date with our schedule so you know when we'll be there!
Also, for our PNW friends, we will be taking Zero Days in Bend, OR, Mt. Hood, OR, and Seattle, WA. We'd love to see you if you can visit us!
We also plan on climbing Mt. Rainier & Mt. Hood along the way, so if you are a seasoned climber you could probably come with! (That means you, Taylor Brugh.)
Yes, we will have our cell phones, but service will be pretty bad, and this is an opportunity to unplug from technology a bit. So please don't be upset if we don't respond promptly (or at all) to your calls, texts, and emails.
Send a us post card! Or a letter! We will try to keep our resupply addresses up to date so you know when and where to send it.
Email and social media also work. If you don't have all of our email addresses, and want to write us all a message, you can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will also update our blog, photo gallery & schedule updated so you can follow us along the way!
Care packages are great, just remember that we have weight and dietary restrictions that limit the items we will take with us on the trail.
You can also send us words of encouragement through postcards and social media.
And you can always DONATE some cold, hard cash ;)