Of Route and Resupply

Snoqualmie Pass, WA

Snowpocalypse and the Navigation Dreamscape

The Skinny

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, talk to me pretty often, or watch the news, you know that this has been an insane snow year for the PCT. The Sierras and North Cascades had at or over 200% of their average annual snowfall, meaning that we have a big white wonderland that’s sure to be beautiful but will undoubtedly cause navigation, exposure and pace issues.

What does that mean for me?

My route has changed countless times since this hike became a reality, as I’ve tracked the weather, snow pack and melt rates along the trail. The original plan was to start around the middle of Washington and hike to Mt. Rainier for my summit attempt. I had everything set up with a trail angel who was going to pick me up on the east side of the park and drive me out west for my climb, then bring me back out to resume the trail. I loved that idea (and I mean REALLY loved it), because seriously how badass would that be?! Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans.

Mt. Rainier ascent to Camp Muir. Thanks Anna Meehan for the photo!

Flip-Floppers

My ex coworker (aww, ex) Ryan reminded me to educate you on the crazy mofos who hike from Mexico to Canada, turn around and hike back to Mexico in one go. We call this form of badassery a Yo-Yo hike, and the undertakers are YoYos. I am not that cool.

Lena Lake, WA

Because of all the snow this year, I’m going to be a Flip-Flopper, so named because I flip and I flop to the places that suit my timeframe, skillset and comfort level. In other words, I will not be hiking the trail in one straight line from Canada to Mexico, though I do intend to hike all 2,660 miles of the trail this year. There are PCT purists who will argue that this means I’m not actually a PCT thru-hiker, but to that I’ll smile real big and say that that attitude deserves a hard shove up into a place where the sun doesn’t shine. That’s right, really force it up there. Hike your own hike!

Talapus Lake, WA

Route

Leg 1

The plan I ended up settling on was to climb Rainier first, giving the snow a couple more weeks of melting time, and then begin my hike in southern Oregon, where my good friend Ali just took up residence and the snow is more mild than Washington. The first leg of my trip will be to hike from southern Oregon to Canada.

Leg 1: Ashland to Canada NOBO. Thanks Halfmile for the maps!

Leg 2

From Vancouver, Canada, I plan to fly south to Bakersfield, CA, where I’ll begin hiking north into the Sierras. Again, I changed my mind and my route a LOT before settling on this. Starting at the southern end of the Sierras means that I’ll hit the highest point of the PCT, Forester Pass, much faster than if I started from the north. It also means that I’ll be able to summit Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48, much earlier. This is important because the rule of thumb is that I need to be past these high elevation points before the end of September, when the threat of snow storms becomes real.

From the Sierras, I’ll continue north through Northern California until I reach Ali and the place I began my journey.

Leg 2: Walker Pass to Ashland NOBO. Thanks Halfmile for the maps!

Leg 3

The final leg is where my SOBO finally kicks in. I’m a little bummed because I’d wanted much, much more of my journey to be SOBO, but I’ve consulted with a LOT of mountain mamas and mountain papas who have a healthy respect for this terrain, and we agreed that this route was my best bet at tackling this high snow year.

From my starting point in southern Oregon, I’ll need to fly back down to Bakersfield and hike south to Mexico – the last 650 miles of the journey. I anticipate that this will be the hardest part of the trail for me, partly because it’ll pale in comparison to what I’ll have seen, and partly because the end of the journey is supposedly pretty mentally taxing.

Leg 3: Walker Pass to Mexico SOBO. Thanks Halfmile for the maps!

Resupply

Thanks Mom and Julia!

What’s in a resupply?

FOOD.

Maps, sunscreen, clothing swaps, ear plugs, travel shampoo (for town use only), ear plugs, bug repellent, hand sanitizer, rite in the rain notebooks, chapstick, batteries, hair ties, medications, wipes, ziplock bags.

In the Sierras, I’ll ship myself a bear canister, larger backpack and warmer layers in addition to everything listed above. Complicated enough for you?! Tell me about it.

Fooooooooood

Everyone’s favorite question! Kate!! What are you going to eat?!?

So much. I am going to eat soooo much. After the first couple weeks, thru hikers consume about 4,000 calories per day. That’s like double what any self-respecting American consumes (note the qualifier). I’ve been working for weeks to bake, cook, dehydrate, vacuum seal and buy about half the food I’ll be eating over the next 5 months. This has been a dream for me! I’m a foodie and I love to cook, so I spent many nights in my Seattle apartment falling asleep to the whir of my dehydrator.

Here are some of my FOODS:

Grandma’s spaghetti and meatballs
Thai curry
Falafel mix
Tofu scramble
Vegetarian chili
Refried beans
Mexican rice
Baked beans
Hummus
Salsa
Bars (Luna, RX, Nature Valley, Clif, Kind, Builder’s, etc.)
Kale chips
Peanut Butter
Nutella
Cheese sticks
Tortillas
Mountain House meals
Various homemade dehydrated meals
Oatmeal
Granola
Protein powder
Breakfast Essentials
Nuts
Dried fruit
Chocolate
Pop Tarts
Cheese-its

One bonus of loving the kitchen and owning a dehydrator is that I have a LOT of variety in my resupply boxes and no idea what I’ll get when I open each one. Ah, the little things.

I’ll be picking up 16 boxes along the trail at locations where hundreds of other PCT boxes are sent. You need to decorate your boxes!

Do you count calories?

Nope. Hell nope. It gets to the point where you’re basically just eating all day, and I have zero patience for calculating the calories of the food I’ll be pooping out over the next few months. I created a spreadsheet with a rough estimate of my daily mileage and how many days’ worth of food I’d need to send myself at each stop. From there, I grabbed either a Medium or Large Flat Rate Box (free courtesy of ye olde US Postal Service) and packed it to the brim.

“Can I break your toothbrushes in half?” -Dave

A Note on Care Packages

I’ll be stopping to pick up resupply packages at 16 locations along the trail, the majority of which are in Oregon and Washington. I’ve sent information to family and friends who have expressed an interest in sending care packages to me along the trail. If you’re interested in sending a letter or package, shoot me an email or comment below and I’ll get the addresses and my ETAs to you.

Plz send

Care Package Ideas

Thru hikers eat a lot of bland, lukewarm sadness, so care packages are gold. By far the favorite thing to receive is FOOD, with whiskey gaining fast behind it. Want to send me some homemade granola? Stoked. Wipes? Yes please. Brownies? Oh you, quit talking dirty to me.

But truly, I will love anything and everything you send me and it’ll all just bump my elation up three notches from the glee of being in town and taking a shower for the first time in a week. Except Julia, who’s threatening to send photos from my favorite Seattle Ramen spots. Someone needs to keep her contained. Not today, Satan.

Here are some ideas of what to include:

Pringles
Salty chocolate
Chips
Candy
Baked goods
Wet Ones
Body wipes
Ziplock bags (really)
Whiskey
Funny notes
Magazines
Jerky
Nuun tablets
Bars
Kindle books
Photos of my dog
My dog (can you tell I just left her yesterday?)

🙁

Please bear in mind that I’ll need to carry the consumables on my back! Even though I’ll probably eat most of it immediately and STILL order the 1lb burger from whatever place my hiker radar leads me to. So just send whatever!

Vaya bien!

Kate

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Comments 5

  • Jess Chermak : Jul 10th

    Kate!! We are so pumped for you. Send us addresses for re-supply and keep us posted on the food situation. We can do some dehydrating if you need more meals, and will of course send snacks and booze. Also, please send your kindle email.

    Love you!
    J

    Reply
    • Kate : Jul 10th

      Done and done! 🙂

      Reply
  • Zach : Jul 10th

    “I’ll smile real big and say that that attitude deserves a hard shove up into a place where the sun doesn’t shine. That’s right, really force it up there. ”

    Couldn’t agree more. The peanut gallery can suck it. See ya out there!

    Reply
  • Julia : Jul 11th

    I told you. I’m sending you pictures of that gnome eating ramen with me at our top spots. I know you don’t need incentive to return to Seattle but I think this will just seal the deal anyway. 😉

    Reply
  • Ryan : Jul 17th

    Good stuff Kate! I read every entry. Keep posting!

    Reply

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