Saturday, April 21, 2012

Final Pre-Hike Update

It has been a busy week!  A week ago yesterday was my last day of work.  I started my drive from Tucson, AZ on Sunday at 2 PM after handing in my keys to my apartment. Sunday night was spent camping in Sedona, AZ in Oak Creek Canyon.  I arrived after dark and quickly realized I was not in the desert anymore!  It was cold and snow was still covering the ground in patches.  After a dinner of dehydrated chicken burrito and rice with tortillas, I quickly settled in for a chilly night in my 15-degree Marmot sleeping bag and my Tarptent Notch.

Sedona, AZ Camping
On Monday I crossed the border into Utah but did not make it any farther than Bryce Canyon.  I have wanted to explore this area for a long time and after delaying for many hours, I finally decided that this trip was not the time to get too deep into canyon country.  I was on a mission and the PCT was calling me.  I ended up doing a quick 2 mile hike into some of the most beautiful scenery in Bryce Canyon National Park - and I just barely scratched the surface.  I am definitely planning a return trip to Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park and the many other brilliant places in southern Utah when I can devote more time to exploring these amazing landscapes.

"Hoodoos" in Bryce Canyon

Monday night was spent camping in a flat spot off a dirt road west of Bryce Canyon.  Dinner was Mac-n-Cheese shells with smoked salmon out of a tin-foil packet.  Yummy!  Temps were colder than the previous night as frost greeted me in the morning and my 2-gallon water bottle froze during the night.

Car Camping near Bryce Canyon, Southern Utah

Hiking in Bryce Canyon

Tuesday was a day of driving.  Canyon country turned into pasture-land as I made my way up I-15 through Utah, south-eastern Idaho and finally into Montana by the end of the day.  Montana is a lush and fertile place with streams and creeks running through valleys of cow and horse pastures surrounded by snow-capped peaks on all sides.  These looked like the happiest cows alive!  I wished I could stop and do some fishing and just enjoy the wide-open space.  After searching for a motel in Butte, Montana and not wanting to pay $75/night for a Super-8 motel, I headed west about 15 miles and ended up at an RV campsite with about a half-dozen tent-only camping spots - none of them occupied.  $23 paid for a site complete with a free shower!  I'll take that over a Super-8 in a sleezy part of town any day!  By Wednesday at 2 PM I was pulling into my mom's driveway in Spirit Lake, Idaho. 

These last three days have been spent re-packaging all my resupply boxes, seam-sealing my tent, shopping for final supplies (more fuel cannisters, extra mini-bic lighters, Kathoola Micro-spikes ordered online and a new spork) and NOT shaving!  With just a few days until I touch the border fence and start hiking north, I can say that I am as mentally and physically prepared as I will ever be for this journey.

I will share more when I am on the trail.  Bring it on PCT!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Osprey All Mighty Guarantee

What could have been a bad omen has turned into an example of great customer service.  Two weeks ago I walked into my apartment - new camera case in hand - and proceeded to test it's size to see if it would fit in my Osprey Exos backpack's hip-belt pocket.  Here is what I found...

I had no idea that objects could self-combust!  Did my pack - the most important piece of gear that I would carry for the next five months - just inexplicably melt while sitting harmlessly on my floor?  I looked around for evidence of a searing liquid dripping from the sink above where it leaned against the wall.  Nothing.  Were rats burrowing into my wall and chewing up my gear?  Nope!  I was utterly dumb-founded!  The seams were falling apart with only a gentle nudge!  The fabric was literally melted in places.  The left shoulder strap buckle had completely melted and fallen apart!  

PCT Northern Terminus

PCT Northern Terminus
On September 30, 2012 I reached the Northern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. Thanks to everybody who supported and followed my journey. It was a life-changing experience!