Trail Work on the Travel Channel

And now for something not specifically thru-hike related.

Long-time readers might recall my doing a film shoot with a documentary crew last October. If not, click here.

I had been waiting all summer to hear about an airing date.  I did have some contact with the producer, but found out from friends that it had aired.

image

Photo of a screen courtesy of Eric Allen.

I had hoped for the advanced notice so I could get the word out.

So here is the advanced warning for the rerun, as listed at The Travel Channel:

Columbia River Gorge
Kayakers Rush Sturges and Evan Garcia ride treacherous whitewater rapids and waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge, explorers enter Mt. Hood’s mysterious caves, and Bill Anders voyages to the natural wonder of Crater Lake.
TUNE IN FOR THIS EPISODE
SUNDAY
September 20
7am | 6c

Even that description has me wondering about the content of the show, since we were doing trail work on the Rim Trail above Crater Lake.

Here’s a trailer for the episode. I am the second voice-over.  The editing is interesting, since the whole time I was discussing Crater Lake specifically, since that was our focus that day.  But I would not disagree with using it to cover the whole state.

If the embed code doesn’t work, just copy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvM1_JDPTug and paste into your browser address field. For you literalists, then press the return/enter key.
____________________________________

Please remember that although this trail work is performed mostly by volunteers, the work is not free.

We have walked about 1,900 miles of this 2,650 mile trail, but are still shy of half of our goal for this hike – to raise $4,000 for the Pacific Crest Trail Association  (PCTA).  The PCTA is the organization responsible for planning, organizing and executing trail development, maintenance and recovery along the entire trail.

For more information on our fundraiser, please browse on over to http://tinyurl.com/le5cu9j.

Thank you,
Bill and Jennifer  (Gee…SPOT and BABs)

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PCT – Trail Maintenance

In case you weren’t out traveling earlier this month and missed getting a copy of USA Today slid under your room door, there was an interesting article on the state of the National Forest Trail system, which is pretty dismal.

Here’s the article.

One thing you’ll notice in the article is the increasing reliance on volunteers to maintain the trails.

We’re eager volunteers.  Personally, I enjoy the excuse to get out into the wilderness and do some work.  The crew members are great and everyone’s excited to be there to work.

Plus, for me it’s a chance to see new areas and scout out where I’d like to return to shoot photos.  Like this one.

For me, it’s a win-win.

As much as we’d like for the work to get done on its own, just through the love and dedication of the volunteers, it can’t.  For many of the volunteers, they sure wish it could, but it can’t.

So please consider donating to the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), the non-profit organization responsible for the trail-work coordination and execution, as well as the protection of the trail corridor.

The PCTA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, meaning that your donation may be tax deductible on your taxes next year (sorry, if you were looking for an angle on the forms you’re doing now, that ship sailed two months ago).

We are 1/4th of the way to our goal!  Would you please help maintain the trail that Jennifer and I will be walking this year?  Your help will ensure that the trail is available for hikers in the future too.

Please click on the picture of Jennifer and Skinny on the PCT below to lend a hand.

Thank you,

Bill & Jennifer Anders

Jen n Skinny Deadfall

 

 

 

PCT – Permits

Hello everyone.  It has been a while.  My semi-regular posting schedule has been much more semi than regular lately.

Things are rolling quickly.  In just over a month we hand the keys to the house back and we’re effectively homeless.

Not long after that, we’re walking.

Did you catch that? In just over a month…

I’ll let that sink in.

Mostly for us.


Permits

A trek like this isn’t possible without permits.  We cross a lot of public land that is protected for one reason or another, not to mention several National Forests and National Parks.  Each requires a permit.

PCT:  For the purposes of a long-distance hike on the PCT that is longer than 500 miles, the PCTA manages an interagency permit system that covers the myriad permits along the way.  That’s much easier and more efficient than  trying to coordinate with all of the different agencies.

Especially to summit Mount Whitney.

Due to the increasing popularity of the trail, they’ve had to institute a 50-hiker/day start schedule.  That move caused a lot of consternation amongst many hikers, folks who by their very nature are easy-going and just go with the flow.  The new quota meant that we hikers had to pick a date and stick to it.  For those that didn’t jump on the registration site right after it opened, their preferred date might not have been available.

That’s a bit problematic for folks that had already bought airline tickets.  The system is even getting press in The Smithsonian.

But it’s working out.  After the initial consternation, most folks are realizing that the system is the only way to minimize impact on the trail.  Our start date is already full, at the beginning of a stretch of two weeks where every day is fully permitted.  So we’ll see a lot of folks on the trail in those first few weeks.

Campfire: Since we’ll be camping mostly outside of established campgrounds in California, we are required to obtain a campfire permit.  It’s a simple system consisting of watching/reading a short fire prevention presentation, then taking a test.  A successful test completion means a permit.  Done.

Canada: Yep, we need a permit for Canada.  Why?  The final 9-mile stretch of the trail is in British Columbia, finishing in Manning Park.  But there isn’t an official border crossing there, so they need to know we are coming.  Plus, we need the official stamps to show that we aren’t in Canada illegally.

That makes sense.  Otherwise, I might take away someone else’s job at a Tim Hortons.*

Mind you, we don’t have to go into Canada to complete the PCT.  We could stop at the monument right at the US/Canadian border, take our pics and not enter Canada.  But that means a 30-mile hike back to the first US town south.

Since we don’t have anything keeping us from entering Canada (e.g., criminal record), we’re going to keep walking.

The added advantage of going into Canada is that a very good friend lives nearby.  It will be good to finally meet him on his home turf, as we’ve only been able to get together in Germany and here in the US.


That’s it for permits.  It doesn’t seem like much, but the PCT and Canada permits add a bit of stress to the process, as they don’t open for application until so late in the planning.  But it has worked out.  We’re fully permitted.


*Tim Hortons – my only experience with a Tim Hortons has been their furthest east franchise, a lovely garden spot known as Kandahar, Afghanistan.  I must say that they make a fine doughnut.  Hopefully I can get another one at the end of the hike and see if it tastes just as good.

Workin’

Yep, we’ve been workin’.  Quite a bit.

But throwing in quite a bit of fun while we’re at it.

Yesterday we got on a rare mid-week trail work crew in a local Wilderness (yep, that’s a Capital-W Wilderness, which is different from your every day run-of-the-mill wilderness).  The specific one is the Soda Mountain Wilderness, just a short 20-minutes or so from town.

The event was held by the Siskiyou Mountain Club, one of many environmental stewardship organizations in the area.  The trail we were working on was the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), so there was also representation from the PCTA.

There were six volunteers and we quickly split into two groups.  My group included Goddess and the PCTA rep.

Our first blow-down tree turned out to be the only one that our group of three got to tackle.  It was a tough tree, fighting us until the very end.  After two-and-a-half hours, of fighting with it, we had to call the other group back for reinforcements.  It still took another 30-45 minutes to finish the cut and get it off the trail.

It was an interesting oblong-shaped Douglas Fir, measuring approximately 34″ horizontally and 24″ vertically (as it lay on the slope) with well over 100 rings in it.  The first taps sounded like it was pretty rotten, but turned out to not be true.  There was nothing rotten in that tree.  It was a very solid specimen.

Too bad the soil couldn’t support it through the torrential rains and hurricane-strength winds the area received last week.

But why did it take so long for us to clear the tree from the trail?  We were in big-W Wilderness, which means that no mechanized means could be used to clear the tree.  So it was the old-fashioned 2-person crosscut saw.  Or, as we learned recently, a “misery whip”.

Although I actually love to use it.

Here I am with Ian Nelson, the PCTA Big Bend Regional Representative, starting the first cut on the uphill side of the trail.

Crosscut Saw Tree Clearing on the Pacific Crest TrailA few hours and a few broken felling wedges later, the trail was accessible.

Here is Goddess standing on the newly cleared trail.

Crosscut clearing of the Pacific Crest TrailFor those keeping track, it’s at approximately mile 1,732 using Halfmile’s 2014 track.  Or about 1/2 mile past the Pilot Rock Trail junction if you’re heading north.


As you may be aware, as Goddess and I are hiking the PCT this year and are being sponsored by Yama Mountain Gear.  Through that sponsorship, we are asking for donations to the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA).  As a non-profit organization responsible for maintaining and protecting the PCT, they need our help to fund activities such as this.

Even with volunteers, the crew work does cost money, even if it’s just simple logistics and tool care/replacement (remember, we broke 3 felling wedges that will need to be replaced).

So if you are a trail user or just like the idea that organizations like the PCTA exist to protect this National Scenic Trail, please consider donating even just $10 by clicking on the photo below.  If you donate $35, you will become a member of the PCTA, which includes goodies for you (details at the link).

The best part?  Well, besides folks being able to get out and maintain the trails?  Your donation may be tax-deductible!

Thanks to those of you who have already donated.  We’re at 16% of our goal for the year already!

Bill and Jennifer Anders, Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and raising funds for the Pacific Crest Trail Association

Thank you.

Bill & Jennifer Anders

Lint Shakedown

No, not the accumulation of fluffy fibers.

Lint doesn’t sit still long enough for that.

Lint is a rock star in the thru-hiking world.  In the last 11 years, he has completed 11 thru-hikes, including twice earning Triple Crown status, which means that he has thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian Trail.  That’s enough of an achievement for most people.  He’s done that twice and is only one trail (Continental Divide Trail) away from earning his third Triple Crown.

The man lives to thru-hike.

Anyway, we found out that he lives right around the corner from us and was willing to get together to look at what we have and give us suggestions.

We were excited about his offer.

Although probably only half as excited as he was.

He and his girlfriend came over and walked into a living room with Jennifer’s gear spread out on the floor.  Lint got right to it, telling us tales of the trail, looking over what we had, giving suggestions and ideas on what equipment we do have and what we’re looking to purchase.

His girlfriend is a relatively newer hiker and she still had plenty of advice, including ideas for Jennifer that Lint couldn’t provide.

It was a fantastic two hours where we learned a lot.  And it reinforced many of the things that we had read about and planned for.

So what was the equipment layout like?  Here’s mine:

Other than a few small items, that’s it.  Well, except for what I was wearing, which, for the most part is what I’ll be wearing on the trail.  Although the red blanket will not be going.  That was just to lay out the gear.

Oh, and the tent.  We don’t have our tent from Yama Mountain Gear yet, but it won’t take up much space at all.  Gen is working very hard getting everything in line for our sponsorship, not to mention coming up with great new tent designs like the brand-new ultralight Swiftline 2-person tent.

From left to right:

  • Backpack – Gossamer Gear Mariposa
  • Electronics – Phone, Headlamp, SPOT GPS Satellite Messenger
  • Sleeping Bag – Big Agnes Lost Ranger 15° Mummy Bag
  • Sleeping Pad – Thermarest NeoAir Xlite
  • Bear Canister in the back (only carried for a few hundred miles in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where it’s required)
  • Kitchen – folding bowl, titanium long-handled spoon, flint lighter, ultra-light camp stove (thanks Mom!)
  • Hydration – Platypus 2L hydration pack (not shown, 2 2L collapsible water bottles)
  • Additional items to be worn – Sun Hat, reflective umbrella (great sun protection), gaiters to keep sand and rocks out of the shoes, extra socks, glasses
  • Extra clothes in the pack – rain jacket, down jacket, extra underwear, sleep socks (helps keep the sleeping bag clean), long underwear, extra hiking socks, neck gaiter and wool beanie.
  • Paper maps and guide book – the maps will be separated into sections and the book will be dismantled so that the appropriate information is filed with those sections.  We won’t carry them all, instead mailing them to different pickup locations along the trail.

Like I said, that’s it for six months (worst case), save the few small items that we need to pick up.

Currently that puts me at just under 14lbs (6.3kg) for my base weight.  Yes, I could go lower, but that also means shelling out a lot of money to replace items that we already have.  So we’re good with what we have right now.

For comparison, Lint’s hiking with a base weight of just over 6lbs (2.7kg).  But getting into that realm of ultra-light hiking requires some experience and self-trust.

Perhaps we’ll get there one day.

It’s Friday.  Do you have any adventures planned?

Thanks!

A few weeks ago we announced our sponsorship from Yama Mountain Gear through a program that the owner Gen Shimizu calls mYAMAdventure.

And for those of you who know of our connection with Japan, his company logo is perfect:

This was our view of sunrise from the summit of Fujiyama (Mount Fuji), along with many hundreds of others, taken on the morning of 17 July, 2004.

Just having moments like that gives us many, many reasons to be thankful for the opportunities that we’ve had.

This year is no exception with our long walk.  An opportunity that we know is so completely outside the realm of consideration for the majority of the world.  For that we know we are lucky.

As you might recall, we announced our sponsorship in mid-December.  If you don’t recall, it’s likely you are amongst the hundred or so new followers of this blog since then; if that’s you, hang on for the ride.

Back then we mentioned that part of the sponsorship is our part in helping raise funds for the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), the organization responsible for maintaining and advocating for the trail.  It’s an organization that I spent a good portion of 2014 working with and we’re proud to continue supporting.

It’s early in the new year and we are already up to 8% of our total goal of raising $4,000 for the PCTA, so that they, along with their volunteers, can continue to maintain the trail.

For those of you who have donated (especially you anonymous donors that we can’t thank directly) – THANK YOU!!!

If you’re considering donating, we would appreciate it greatly.  All this year as we’re walking the path from Mexico to Canada, as well as in the following years as we continue to work on the trail so that others may follow.

Online fundraising for Bill and Jennifer Anders fundraising for the PCTA with mYAMAdventure
Please ignore the “raised” amount. The widget works fine in the editor, but posts wrong here. :\

And if you’re curious how your donation might be used, just click on the graphic above.  It will take you to our fundraising page which has several different suggested donation levels, along with examples of how that amount might be used to maintain the trial.

Thank you so much for you consideration and your support!

Bill & Jennifer [trail names pending]

 

 

Rolling Along

It has been a busy week here.  We are less than 100 days from starting our PCT thru-hike.  We have a lot to do between now and then, including moving out of the house.  But we aren’t rushing that.

As of this week, we have about half of the house either in storage, donated or disposed of.  We are working on downsizing, too.  It’s amazing how much stuff we accumulate, even moving every few years as I have my entire life.

Too much stuff.

But we’re also walking to do our errands in town, getting the feel for our new backpacks and other items.  Like these Bear Canisters, full of our bi-weekly haul from our CSA.

image

The Bear Canisters are required through stretches of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  They are supposed to keep the scent in, but really they are just meant to give a bear a big playtoy while it tries to get at the contents as we sleep peacefully nearby.  Ha!

These canisters have been tested with Grizzly bears.  Luckily there won’t be any of those, just black bears.

Each canister holds 11.5 liters of stuff.  Our longest stretch through bear country will be about nine days, so we need to get all of our food, plus any scented items (toothpaste, etc.) in them.

A friend was kind enough to let us borrow his canisters, with the stipulation that they come back scarred from curious bears.  That may or may not happen, as we can’t control the bears.  But it will be fun to see them come late June.

Anyway, he dropped them off for us the same day that we picked up our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) delivery.  It was a perfect trial run with the canisters in our backpacks.

Our CSA is with a local family-run farm.  We sign up with them in the winter so they can grow the vegetables that we won’t in the winter.  Plus, they provide things that we would have never bought from the market, so it pushes us to try different veggies and recipes.  And it actually turns out being cheaper per pound than the markets.  Plus we’re supporting a local farm.

We like that.

There will be more and more posts like this over the next few months.  Hopefully they will help answer the questions that family, friends and casual readers have about our hike.

Speaking of questions, if you have any, ask below.  I may answer right away or I may use it as a topic on a future post.

As always, thanks for reading.

PCT Thru-Hike Sponsorship

Great news!

Goddess and I have been picked up on a sponsorship for our thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) next year.

The primary sponsor is Yama Mountain Gear, run by Gen Shimizu out in Charlottesville,  Virginia.  Gen makes ultra-light shelters and bags, which will help cut my weight by a couple of pounds.

That’s the deal – I carry the house, Goddess carries the kitchen.

Gen is working hard to get other companies on board, which is nice.  But for us, the most important part of the sponsorship is personal access to mentors, folks that have been doing this for a long time.  It turns out that one of them even lives a few miles away.  It will be good to pick their brains as we prepare.

If you’re wondering why that’s the most important part for us – have you ever asked a question on social media in a group of several hundred people?

There’s your answer.

If you’re curious about our thoughts on this, we both have profile pages on the team site:

Goddess

Bill

Yep, for those of you that don’t know, Goddess’ name is really Jennifer.  But on this page (and in real life) she is and will always be Goddess.

Here we are together:


Part of our responsibility with this sponsorship is to do some fundraising for the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA).  You’ll likely remember several of my posts from this past summer where I was out working on the trail with the PCTA.  Next year we can’t work on the trail, but we can do our part by helping fundraise.

I know it’s a tough time of year for everyone.  Especially since it seems that everyone is putting a hand out.  But this fundraiser will go all the way through 2015, so please don’t feel any pressure to act immediately.

However, if you are looking for another opportunity for a tax write off this year (and again next year), here’s your chance since the PCTA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Online fundraising for Bill and Jennifer Anders fundraising for the PCTA with mYAMAdventure

As you can see, a couple of folks got a bit antsy (you know who you are), not wanting to wait until the announcement.  That’s awesome!  And Thank You!

I’ll keep you updated as we get closer to the hike.  It’s hard to believe that in just over 100 days we’ll be starting this adventure.

And Walkin’

A bit less activity here as Goddess and I are preparing for our long walk.  This week the majority of our preparation has consisted of running errands in town, all on foot.  While Ashland is a fun town, the roadside just doesn’t grab me in ways that I’d want to share photographically with you.

Today we skipped out of town a bit and headed to nearby Roxy Ann Peak, which overlooks Medford.  It was cloudy, it was rainy, it was fun.  But the pics didn’t turn out the way I’d be happy with sharing.  Goddess and I had quite a few laughs as we took a long shortcut down one of the side trails.  It was so slickery that it took longer than had we stuck to the road.  Not to mention the muddy pants and hands.

I won’t mention who had the most and worst slips out of the two of us.

Ahem.

So here’s a flashback to a bit over a year ago, up on the backside of Mount Ashland.

Still Walkin’

Siskiyou Gap, about 2/3 of the way to the goal next year.

Goddess wasn’t there, but Skinny was.

That guy.  He makes me smile.  Every day.  And he will on this trail as we carry him along every step of the way.

A bit of perspective – Siskiyou Gap is mile 1,709.6 of 2,650 on the PCT.


Just for grins, there’s a link in this post that reaches back more than a few years.  An earlier period of my life.  Not a different person, just a different focus.  For those of you new here, it’s a bit of insight to the insanity that has been this ride.

Hold on.

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.