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[pct-l] More thoughts from a 99 hopeful

Back in February, I wrote a few of my thoughts on this years planned
thru-hike.  I promised I would send to the list the comments I received, and
this post is to do that, to update the areas in the last post, and to cover
some new areas.

> Shelter
> I have ordered a Wanderlust Nomad Lite, a single walled tent weighing
> about 1lb 13oz with poles.  This
> tent has been mentioned on this list, costs $225, has a vestibule (or
> awning) and can be seen at www.wanderlustgear.com. Both the company and
> the tent are new, but it sounds promising.

    Kurt Russell has told me that my tent will be shipped today (Tuesday 16
March) and I look forward to receiving and trying it out soon.  At this
point I plan to go with it, based on the reviews I have been reading.

> Pack
> I have a Wild Line Quest 3,000 cubic inch pack weighing 2lb 6oz which I
> purchased from ďOnly the LightestĒ (800 933-4453) at $145.

    I currently need to strap my tent on the outside of this pack to make
everything fit.  I hope to reduce the size of my equipment a little further
(mainly by substituting the Nomad lite for my Sierra Designs Flashlight),
but I'll still be in trouble when I need to carry a bear canister, or 8 days
of food.

> I have also just ordered a 3,500
> cubic inch pack from LW Gear (717 323-0909).  This pack is mostly mesh,
> weighs 14ozs, and costs $99.  Iím concerned that it does not have a
> waist band, but want to at least give it a try - its only 14ozs.

    I received this pack, and the instructions with it say not to use it for
more than 30 pounds.  I'd love to follow that advice, but I don't think I'll
be able to stay below 30 pounds all the time.  This pack also forces me to
give up my Therm-A-Rest LE long mattress (2.5 pounds) for a Z-rest mattress
(1 pound) because the Z-rest is recommended for use as the "frame" of the
pack.  It looks like I may be in the market for yet another pack, I'm not
sure yet what I will do.  I received a suggestion to look at the Kelty Cloud
60 and Mtnsmith Mntlight 5000 packs.  Also the Mountainsmith 5200 (3 lb 10

> Stove
> Here I (was) considering 4 possibilities.

> 1) The MSR whisperlite -( liquid fuel)

>  2) The Peak 1 Micro Stove ( propane/butane)

    It was recommended that I look at the Primus Titanium.  I haven't yet
done that.

>  3) Esbit solid fuel stove.

>  4)  Zip Sierra stove (Wood)

    I was told that a new Titanium model Zip is available at about10oz and
$180.    I have been following the recent liquid vs compressed gas thread.
I'm planning to go with my Peak 1 Micro based on the assumption that I will
be able to mail (and possibly UPS?) the fuel in my re-supplies.  I will look
at the Primus as recommended.

> Water
> Iím convinced that it makes sense to treat all backcountry drinking
> water - why risk illness on the trail unnecessarily?  Iíve been using a
> Katadyn Minifilter for 3 years. It weights about 9oz including its 1oz
> stuff sack.  But it takes more time and effort to use than I am willing
> to spend day after day on a through hike, and it is beginning to lose
> its prime frequently.  I hope to find another filter with higher
> throughput, but it looks like I wonít be able to beat the weight of my
> Minifilter.  I expect I will carry a small amount of iodine as a backup.

    I bought the Pur Pioneer dispite warnings that it is light duty.  It is
light weight, and its replacement filters are very small,  light, and
inexpensive (about $3.75 each).  I think it's worth a try.

> I plan to take two 1 liter or 1.5 liter bottled water bottles and one or
> two platypus water bags,  with replacements for both in my resupply
> parcels.
> Food
> I plan on cooking one meal a day - supper.  I hope to limit my cooking
> to bringing water to a boil, adding the food, stir, wait and eat.  The
> basis of most of my cooked meals will be pasta or dehydrated mashed
> potato, with cheese, or beef jerky, or some other flavoring added.  (A
> source for cheese powder is The Bakers Catalogue 800 827-6836).
> Otherwise I plan on pop-tarts, dried fruit, trail mix, granola bars, and
> other nibblies yet to be determined.

    My food is still undetermined.  That project begins in the next few
days.  I was advised not to pack up resupply for the entire trip in advance
because "your taste will change the more you hike.You will get good ideas
from others as you go."

> Schedule

    It looks like snow is not going to be a problem in the South this year,
so I've moved up my start date to 17 April to try to beat some of the heat,
and to allow more time overall.  I will drive down (I live near San
Francisco) with my wife and daughter on Friday the 16th, and they will see
me off at the border early on the 17th.  I plan to make it to Lake Morena
(20.2 miles) for the 1st ADZPCTK - the 1st Annual Day Zero PCT Kickoff
sponsored by Greg, Charlie, and Tom (Thanks, guys).


I have received my "Application for Entry to Canada Via the Pacific Crest
Trail" from:
    Citizenship & Immigration Canada
    2 Sumas Way
    Abbotsford, B.C.
    V2S 7L9  Canada

And have completed and returned my "Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Permit Request"
    Pacific Crest Trail Association
    5325 Elkhorn Blvd. #256
    Sacramento, CA 95842
It is a great convenience to be able to apply in one place rather than to
each of the many parks, forests, and wildernesses along the route.  The PCTA
is performing a wonderful service here.

Emergency Communications

    One of the questions I am most frequently asked is "How will you call
for help if you get in trouble".  Initially I had not planned on bringing
any form of communication due to weight considerations, but when I looked
into Ham radio I liked what I saw.  It helps that I have been interested in
Ham radio since my elementary school days when I spent many evenings in the
basement radio shack of Mt Hanley; the local "Mr. Wizzard", W1DYS (1 Dirty
Yellow Shirt).  So I got my Technician's license last Saturday and bought a
hand held 2 meter radio yesterday (YAESU VX-5).  With battery and
accessories, it weighs almost 10oz.  I expect to use it for entertainment
(regular AM & FM bands), weather radio, getting messages to my wife (by way
of other Hams) when I'm in the woods for several nights at a time, and, of
course, for emergency communication.  I am new to this and it remains to be
seen if my 5 watts will be enough to reliably get through to help when
needed.  If it doesn't work well, I'll probably send it home and save the
    I also considered cellular telephone but rejected it due to cost and
poor coverage in the mountains - and to the fact that I hate to see people
walking around with a cell phone glued to their ear and really do not want
to join the ranks of cell phone owners.  (I am NOT planning on chatting on
my Ham radio while hiking down the trail).


    I'll skip the decision process here, and just say that I bought an
Avocet Vertech (watch, thermometer, barometer, altimeter) 1.5oz $150.  The
Avocet web site says they are out of stock until summer, but their tech rep
steered me to a local store which has some in stock (Palo Alto Bicycles
650-328-7411).  It seems to work well.  My biggest complaint so far is no
light - need a flashlight to read it after dark.


    I just took a wilderness first aid course, I plan to attend a local
orienteering meet next week, and I will be attending a mountaineering
workshop (snow travel, crampon use, ice axe use, and ice axe self arrest) on
4 April (Mountain Adventure Seminars, Bear Valley CA, 209 753-6556
www.mt.adventure.com, 1 day, $75).  Most important, I'm hiking as often as I
can, trying to build up my daily mileage.

Pack Weight

    I recently entered my gear and its weight in a spread sheet, then sorted
by weight to put the heavyest items at the top of the list, and I keep
trying to whittle away at the weight.  Right now I'm at about 20 pounds
without food and water, and not including what I will wear, and the hiking
poles I will carry.  I'm not happy with that.  I'll post my list when it is
closer to final.


    As the starting date gets closer, I'm getting more and more excited, but
my panic level is rising also - what haven't I thought of?  I tell everyone
I plan to average 20 miles a day, but I know I couldn't keep up that pace at
my current level of fitness.  So I guess I'll be starting a little slower
(except for that 1st 20.2 mile day) and building up over the first few
    I look forward to meeting the other members of the class of 99 (Many at
the 1st ADZPCTK,  more along the trail).  Thanks to those of you who have
shared the fruits of your experience with us through this list.

    More later.

    Allen (no trail name yet) Downs

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