[pct-l] 2012 Hike Planning Session: 10 Questions

Edward Anderson mendoridered at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 8 17:22:22 CST 2012

Hi Tim,
Since you will be starting your PCT hike on the last weekend of April, be sure to also attend the Kickoff on Saturday, April 28. You will learn a lot there and meet some great people.
In your list of 10, I am only commenting on #5. As a Veggie, is cheese a possibility for you?  Some Veggies eat dairy products.  If you can eat cheese I would recommend that you try BabyBel. Each cheese is encased in wax and sealed in plastic. I used them throughout my PCT journey (about six months on the trail) and had none spoil so long as I did not crush them. Then I might have a little mold along the crack - I just trimmed it off. They taste good and have good calories.
There are several great tasting energy bars with good calories. Check out Nature Valley Fruit and nut and also their Sweet and Salty Nut. Snickers have great calories.
Nuts. I brought lots of nuts of all kinds.  I especially like walnuts - 199 calories/ounce. 
I also bring a variety of dehydrated fruits. Also salted sunflower seeds.
A good  nutritious drink mix to add to some of your cold water is Tang. 
Since you will only be hiking for 18 days, don't worry that you will lose some weight.  Just put on some extra before you start and then accept that you will lose that and a little more by the end of your hike.
ALSO:  Get a book on edible wild plants that you will sometimes be able to find during your journey.  Some are quite good. During my own planned 250 mile hike through the Sierra this summer, I will be supplementing the food that I will carry with plants that I am familiar with - also with fresh trout.
If you decide to cook there are lots of pre-packaged meals that you can buy at any Supermarket. Consider the Knorr brand; they offer several choices. I always add pieces of BabyBel cheese and Nido powdered whole milk for extra calories and better taste. You will need a stove that will simmer.
If you cook, a great drink is Swiss Miss "Hot Chocolate Sensation" add Nido to that for extra calories. I drink a half-pint cup twice a day - with breakfast and dinner. That alone is over 700 calories. 
Have a great hike!

 From: Tim Gustafson <tjg at tgustafson.com>
To: pct-l at backcountry.net 
Sent: Saturday, January 7, 2012 8:07 PM
Subject: [pct-l] 2012 Hike Planning Session: 10 Questions
So, I just dumped out my hiking gear box, and went over each piece of
gear that I own and made two piles: stuff that will come with me on my
2012 PCT section hike, and stuff that won't.

I'm planning on hiking about the first 180 miles starting during the
last weekend of April this year.

While going through all my gear, I came up with the following questions:

1. I currently have a Kelty Mount Shasta 20 degree bag.  It's a big
tight across the chest, but other than that it's in great condition.
Is this a worthy bag for the first section of the trail in April/May?
Is this overkill?  Should I get a lighter 30 degree bag instead?  I've
heard some chatter about quilts instead of bags, but I'm a little
skeptical I guess.  I'm a big guy - 6'3" - and it's not always easy to
fit inside "one size fits all" gear, so I wonder if a quilt would be
better or worse for me than the bag I already have.

2. My tent is a Eureka Solitaire one-person.  It packs very small and
fits easily inside my bag with all my other gear - it doesn't need to
be lashed to the outside.  But, it's not a free-standing tent; you
need to use the stakes or it just falls in on itself.  I'm guessing
it's not always easy to find stake-able ground in the desert sections.
And it doesn't really have any room for gear inside the tent - a
bummer if it's raining and you want to work on something in your bag,
or just keep it dry.  Should I invest in a free-standing tent?  Any
recommendations for a suitable tent?

3. Is four liters of water storage enough?  I have a Pur "Hiker"
series filter (I believe that brand/model now belongs to "Katadyn" - I
bought my filter probably 10 years ago, and have just recently
replaced the filter element) so I can filter along the way as needed,
but will 4 liters be enough to make it from one reliable source to the

4. Waterproof matches or magnesium fire starter?

5. I'm planning on going without a stove; I've heard people say this
is a very viable option.  It certainly saves weight and bulk.  Any
comments on going stove-less for the first 180 miles?  Any suggestions
as to what foods to bring?  I'm thinking a combination of regular
trail mix, Cliff's bars, dried fruit and so on.  I'm vegetarian, so
jerky and that sort of thing is out of the running.  Anything else I
can/should bring?

6. As for clothing: are the "high-tech" options worth it?  Should I
get the super-wicking underwear?  The zip-off rip-stop pants?  The
high-tech shirts?  And, how much clothing should I bring?  I'm
thinking two sets of undies, pants, shirts and socks, so that I can
switch off each day and let one set air out and dry while I'm wearing
the other.  Is this overkill?

7. Do I need a bear can at this stage of the trail, or will just
hanging a food bag do it?

8. I'm planning on bringing my cell phone and my eReader and was
wondering if anyone had any experience with using a solar charger -
you know the kind that you tie onto the back of your pack while you're
walking to charge up your gear.  Any thoughts?

9. Any reason that a simple single-blade folding knife would not be
enough?  I have a Leatherman tool, but I'm having a hard time thinking
of a time on the trail when I might need a metal file or a Phillips

10. Currently, my bag and all my gear, not including clothes, water or
food, is 21 pounds.  That sounds pretty good to me, but I was
wondering what feedback people might have about that weight.

Thanks in advance for any advice you all can give!


Tim Gustafson
tjg at tgustafson.com
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