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March has arrived and my countdown to the PCT has turned from months to mere days. Truth be told, with each passing hour, my emotions rollercoaster from excitement to… what the hell did I get myself into? But there’s no time to get lost in the insanity of this adventure ahead when my list for logistics and meal prep is still a mile long!

So. Much. To. Do!

My Pack – √

Since first getting my thru-hike permit in November, I’ve been researching all my options for must-have ultra-light equipment for the journey. Luckily, my “big three” which I already owned (tent, sleeping bag and pad), fell into the category of “good enough.” I’ve been using these items successfully throughout my South American adventures. But beyond that, a lot of my equipment, clothing and accessories were pretty worn, and newer technologies have made things light enough to warrant a new purchase.

So, after arriving back into the United States last week, I bee-lined it for my favorite store (REI), and then I discovered for the first time in my life the brilliance of Amazon! Wow- this first world country has on-line shopping figured out right! Everyday it’s like Christmas on my doorstep. So, my pack – the physical things I will carry and use every day, and my clothes and shoes, are coming together just in time.

The next item on my list is my food!

Meal Planning – √

I’m not a picky eater and will eat just about anything at any time, but I do know that long food carries and gas station soda and chips will not be sustainable between the smallest of towns. So, after spending copious amounts of time researching the maps, the distances, listening to resupply suggestions on Facebook groups and taking advice from hiker YouTubers, I’ve settled on about ten locations where a friend will send me a box for resupply. I just have to pack the boxes with tantalizing salty, fatty, and protein rich foods that meet all my nutritional needs. Oh, and I’ve decided I want to try to do all of this without a stove.

What? No stove? So you’re going to eat cold mush for 5 months?

Enter Backcountryfoodie, and the miracle of her nutritional meal planning. This website has hundreds of yummy rehydrating-without-cooking recipes- all a cut above my current backcountry repertoire.

Using recipes, I’ve quickly turned into a cold-soaker with all things pulverized and ready to shake in my Talenti plastic jar.

After buying a slew of freeze-dried ingredients and hitting up the bulk section of my grocery store, I’ve been taste-testing different “cold-soak” recipes and designing satisfying combinations of meals for my resupply boxes. Strawberry-Lime Smoothies, Cranberry Walnut Couscous, Sweet and Sour Ramen… don’t feel sorry for me, I’m going to be eating well on the trail!

I’ve also been doing some dehydrating on my own – apples with a touch of honey are my favorite!

Now, to prepare myself…

Physical Conditioning – √ (sort of)

In Argentina and Ecuador, I had a lot of high-elevation treks to keep me busy. But now I’m essentially back at sea level and training isn’t progressing as much as I had hoped. I’m still working out and trying to hike each week with more miles and more weight, but admittedly, with all the other tasks to do, hours out on the trail are not happening as often as I’d prefer. And, gosh darn it, I’m still having a problem with my hip and back. They’re not cooperating. I really hope I don’t have to say more about that in the future!

The stunning Columbia River Gorge, which slices between Oregon and Washington, greeted me home!
Eagle Creek and Tunnel Falls on a brilliant Spring day!

What’s Left to Do?

Next week, I will do a deep dive into the function of my Garmin and all the protocols I will follow to help my friends and family know I’m safe. I will visit a physical therapist and keep hiking when I can. Then, after trying out all the recipes, I will mix up several batches again to start packing my resupply boxes. And at some point, I actually have to make sure all my newly purchased items actually fit in my pack. Yikes! Less than three weeks and counting. PCT, here I come!