I had planned a 4-5 day trip to the White Mountains to make certain my gear would be adequate for the Sierra Nevadas, but due to the rather late-season nor’easter up here in New England, level of snow, and steep terrain I had to cut the trip to 1 day and 1 night, turning around 3,500 feet up Mt. Tripyramid. Nobody had yet broken trail in front of me, so I had to do it all myself in snowshoes, which proved to be exhausting and I slept in my tent from 7PM to 7AM. Once I got home, the nor’easter hit. The weather was so bad, it prompted the Bowdoin, ME volunteer firefighters to go knocking on doors at dinnertime, suggesting perhaps we consider staying somewhere other than our houses for the evening as the normally timid streams which cross West Burrough road had turned into torrents. Regardless, with ten days to go until starting the PCT, I’m pretty confident that all my gear is working properly and I feel well prepared.
Here’s all the stuff that’s gonna keep me walking for 2,650 miles:
Permits, maps, guidebooks pages, journal. Thru-hikers of the PCT are allowed to carry a “thru-permit” (foreground) which is valid in all state and national parks the PCT traverses. This is far easier than getting individual permits. For maps and guidebooks, I’m using Ben Go’s PCT data book and the three-book Pacific Crest Trail series. To conserve space and the weight of three books, I’m taking apart the guidebooks page by page. I only carry the pages I’ll need until my next re-supply, where I’ve shipped myself the books. I will then cut out the portions I need for the next leg of the trail.
Med Kit. As follows: SPF 50 sunblock, medication (prescription and 200mg ibuprofin), 2×2 gauze (5), Purel hand sanitizer, bacitracin, 4” ACE wrap, 6” ACE wrap, athletic tape, vaseline, lamisil antifungal cream, bandaids (10), glove, moleskin, 4×4 gauze (4), tweezers. Said one parent, “do you have what you’ll need to make a tourniquet?
Cooking Assembly. I call it an assembly cause that’s what it is. The single piece of gear I’m most proud of is my homemade soda can stove, which can boil 2c. of water in less than 5 min. Pictured is the pot, windscreen/potholder (cut aluminum turkey pan and 2 bicycle spokes), stove (made from a Pepsi can and a Boddington’s can), combo knife, lighter/matches, utensils, and fuel bottle. The stove takes any flammable liquid, but I like to use denatured alcohol, which burns hot and clean, and keep the vodka for other uses.
Photographic Equipment. A 3.5 lb Fuji 6×7 medium format behemoth is my “luxury item” and is by far the heaviest piece of gear I’m carrying. I’m hoping to get some very nice black and white silver prints, so the weight (at least for now) is worthwhile.
Shelter and Sleeping bag. The mutant banana you see below is a Black Diamond Lightsabre bivy. I can come up on my elbows inside the bivy and surprisingly don’t feel claustrophobic. The fabric is made of Epic, which is water resistant, but not waterproof. To enhance the bivy’s weatherproofing when I’m expecting especially foul weather, I carry a 7 oz tarp to string above it. The sleeping bag is new. I made a last-minute “I see the light” switch to a down bag, after being convinced of its high warmth to weight ratio, compressibility, and water resiliency of the fabric. Prior to that, I had been a staunch synthetic bag advocate, having completed the AT in a synthetic North Face bag. My new Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 is a fantastic bag. Weighing in at just over 2 lbs, it should keep me comfortable to temps as low as 15 deg (let’s hope!)
Backpack. I need to carry all this stuff in something! With a storage capacity of 4000 cubic in and a weight around 2 lbs, the Granite Gear Vapor Trail is a favorite amongst long distance hikers and is probably my second-favorite piece of gear.
Clothing. This stuff kept me warm in the White Mountains this weekend at temps in the 30s and 40s with snow, so I’m confident it will keep me warm and dry with whatever the PCT sends my way. Pictured: Columbia waterproof (non-breathable) shell, North Face down vest, mom’s mittens, Patagonia Capilene top, shorts and t-shirt (non-cotton), sun hat, 2 pr. wool socks, 1 pr. sock liners, long underwear bottoms, Salomon trail runners. Not Pictured: sunglasses, windstopper hat. No, I’m not bringing the chair.
Other Stuff. I’m going with Iodine for water treatment because I hate hauling a filter. It’s extra weight and spac.e The filter must be cleaned/changed periodically. If I get sick of iodine or just plain sick I may reconsider. The blue foam is a bedroll, which will suffice unless temps get unusually cold, since the foam does not provide good insulation from very cold ground. The black material is a pack cover to keep out rain and the silver material is a mylar blanket for emergency warmth. Also pictured: clock/thermometer/barometer/altimeter and my headlamp. Other than food and water, that’s it! I’m expecting my total weight to come close to 30lbs for 5-7 days.