The last few weeks have been much more work than play.  Although compared to work in years past, this work is still play.

The days are filled with culling and moving the belongings as well as researching and planning for the long walk.  Other than cataloging items or recording other items before disposing of them, I hadn’t grabbed the camera in almost a month.

That’s bad.

It was time to get out for a shoot that wasn’t about working.  Although it was long walk related.

We drove the approximate route of a possible self-imposed deviation from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) that we’re considering taking this summer.  It doesn’t really increase or decrease the length of the walk, but might make a minor resupply easier while getting us more consistent access to water on a 30-mile stretch of the trail.

That access means that we’d have to carry less water, which is less weight.  But more exposure to mosquitoes.  It’s a tradeoff we’ll consider along the way and likely not make a call until we’re back here in Oregon.

All while keeping in mind a quote from a much faster thru-hiker than us when referring to part of the trail that we would bypass:

“As soon as we crossed the highway, it was like walking into a wall of mosquitoes.  There were hundreds at a time all day every day.  Carry DEET and a gun to shoot yourself with”.  – Straight Jacket

And we’re considering a route with more water.

Granted, we’ll be later in the season, around mid-August, when the mosquitoes really die off up near the mountain lakes, but they’ll still be an issue.  Perhaps those will be the days that we get in 30 miles per day to just try to get through it.

A bit of manic hiking, perhaps.

Once we covered part of that detour, we hiked, following the PCT north into that bit of what would be mosquito hell in a few months, then turning back south, crossing the highway and hoping to get a good view of Mount McLoughlin.  The day had been clear and I was hoping to get some good late afternoon shots of the snow-covered mountains.

Of course, once we got into a clearing, we could see the clouds moving in.  Mind you, I like the clouds.  They give some interest and texture to what could be  otherwise boring.

But these clouds were getting thicker to the west and really cutting down on the sunlight.  I rushed ahead, tramping over the crusty snow and bare trail to find a good vantage point.  I left Goddess behind and she wasn’t too pleased with that.  But we were losing light.

The view turned out OK.  Not quite what I was hoping for, but it was part of a few hours out on the trail.  That’s always a good thing.

Plus we were able to attend a viewing of a new movie covering the John Muir Trail (JMT), a 210-mile trail in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  During our long walk this summer, we’ll cover about 160 miles of that trail, as they share tread.

The movie is a documentary of two ultra-marathon runners who set a “fastest known time” for the trail back in 2013.  It just so happens that one of the runners, Hal Koerner, owns our local running shop and is a certifiable badass.

This trailer gives a glimpse of some of the beauty that we’ll be walking through.

How’s that for motivation?


We’re Walkin’

It was two years ago today that we got some news that started the process of us moving here.  That was a good day.  It has been a great two years.

Well, except for when our boy Skinny passed.

But Goddess found a bit of silver lining in that sad time and we’re chasing it.

In early spring of 2015, we are putting all of our stuff in storage (well, what we don’t sell beforehand), driving south to San Diego, putting the car in storage, then starting to walk north.  If all goes as planned, we’ll stop walking when we get to Canada.

Looking at things right now, there will be no better time than 2015 for us to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

For those that don’t know about the PCT, it’s a 2,650 mile footpath stretching from the US/Mexican border to the US/Canada border (well, technically, the far northern end is 9 miles inside Canada, but the border counts).  It starts in the Mojave Desert, then traces the spine of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, arcs through northern California, passes right by our little town here in southern Oregon, then turns north to follow the Cascade  mountains through Oregon and Washington until reaching the Canadian border.

Something like this:

Pacific Crest Trail (click to embiggen in new window/tab)

There is quite a bit of planning involved in this.  I have already built spreadsheets like I haven’t built in years; Goddess and I have attended some excellent Wilderness First Aid training; and we’re walking and walking and walking.

But we are also aware that all of the planning in the world won’t survive the first steps away from the border.  So we’re flexible.

We will be starting mid-April, which is a bit early.  But we’ll be spending the first few weeks going slow.  Many will pass us, but that’s not our concern.  We’ll slowly build up our endurance and get used to the routine.  As it is, our slow hiking may still get us to the high elevations of the Sierras too early.  That could be a problem if this is a good snow year, not just for traversing snow fields at 10,000’+, but the snow-melt, which can turn the creeks and streams into impassible torrents.

If it’s a low precipitation winter for California, then we’ll have to ramp up our daily mileage quickly and try to push through California and Oregon.  I saw too many thru-hikers this year that had to skip significant sections due to wildfires.  If that happens, that’s what happens.

Then the rush is to make it to Canada by the end of September.  Any later than that and we run the risk of getting caught in snowstorms at elevation.  Not a fun way to end the hike.

Having said all of that, we have an agreement that there is nothing that says we have to finish it next year.  The trial isn’t going anywhere and we know that unforeseen circumstances pop up, like injury and illness.  We’ll assess those situations as they arise.

And since we had him cremated, Skinny will be along for the entire walk.

So that’s the nutshell for next year.  We’ll see how it goes, we’ll share some amazing experiences together and we’ll push both of our boundaries.  We’ll have good days and bad days, most often not at the same time, but we’ll share those days together.

And trust me when I say I’ll be scouting out areas for some extended photo shoots.