This post originally appeared at . If you want to follow the good, bad and ugly of my week to week on the trail, please subscribe to my Trek blog site. I will be posting more regularly on that site throughout my adventure. I will also be posting from my phone, so the look and quality of these posts may drastically change for awhile. To just see my trip photos, find me on Instagram at: beckysonthewingadventures.

My niece wrote me the other day and exclaimed at how much “fun” she knew I was having with all of my prep for the PCT.

“Am I having fun?,” I wondered.

Ofcourse, I am, but with only a 5 week turn-around time in the US, the prep for my Pacific Crest Trail journey has been overwhelming to say the least. I’m trying so hard to be organized about my equipment, the contents of my pack, the food I will ship to myself along the way and especially the skills I will need to face any difficult trail conditions. To that end, I’ve been listening to all kinds of podcasts, and Zoom discussions featuring the advice from past hikers. There’s also a mountain of blog posts and different Facebook groups that offer a plethora of tips. Sifting through all the opinions of what I should and shouldn’t bring, and what I should and shouldn’t worry about has been a full-time job.

But through it all, I’ve gleamed some very clever advice. For example, I learned that I should change the cap of my store-bought plastic water bottle to a red cap from a Coke bottle so I will see it when I accidentally drop it in the grass. Good idea! Or, a silk liner in my sleeping bag is going to keep my sleeping bag a lot cleaner as I can wash it once in awhile in the towns along the trail.

Here’s some more surprising and popular backcountry hiking advice which I will heed along the way:

  • Tired of packing out globs of used toilet paper? Buy a water-bottle cap that has a pinhole in it, which when squeezed, will create a pressurized stream of water = a water bottle bidet! The cold stream will definitely wake you up in the morning, help you stay feel fresh and clean, and reduce your need for toilet paper! The YouTube Videos for how to aim this contraption are hilarious!
 My poop kit with wet wipes, tablet cloths, my Kula pee cloth, garbage bags to Leave No Trace, and my new water bottle bidet!
  • Apparently many past hikers have found that chafe between the legs and in the butt-crack can be debilitating, and there’s all kinds of discussions about whether underwear is necessary, which shorts to wear or which product will cure the rash. The clear winner, unbelievably enough, is Vagisil cream for women’s yeast infections. I guess I’ll be carrying a tube of that into the desert!
My Emergency Kit – all that I will need to survive and be found in the backcountry
  • I have also learned that my Emergency Kit should include: zip-ties, safety pins, dental floss, vaseline, and different forms of sticky tapes such as Tenacious Tape and Leukotape, which I precut and adhered to easy-release slick paper. These tapes will help me fix the hole in my tent, patch my torn puffy and prevent hotspots from my shoes rubbing on my feet. Apparently, moleskin is passe, just tape your feet instead!
  • Speaking of feet, when I started backpacking, big leather boots with thick soles were the norm- and they were heavy. Snow conditions might still warrant this kind of footwear in the mountains, but generally thru-hikers opt for lightweight trail-runners, like tennis shoes with a spiky sole. They are super light-weight, somewhat comfortable and they dry-out quickly after river crossings. I’ll give ’em a try!
 Already breaking in my new Hoka Trail Runners
  • Backpacking foods have definitely advanced since I started heading into the woods. To save weight these days, all forms of foods are dehydrated, freeze-dried and pulverized. In addition to lots of ramen, instant mashed potatoes, and oatmeal, I will also be dining on powdered peanut butter, powdered coconut oil, and a variety of whole grains. There’s a gazillion recipes online for using these kinds of products to make simple backcountry meals without a stove! It’s like a whole new world of food. I just hope my stomach appreciates the adventure!
By the way, lentils are not a good cold-soaking option.
  • I’ve also learned that a plastic Talenti Gelato jar with a good screw-top lid is the favorite food soaking, serving bowl and mug on the trail. And a very special light-weight umbrella is a common feature to see tied to packs in the desert. I’ll be sporting one, too!
  • In addition to this, laundry detergent now comes in a form that looks like a strip of paper. Toothpaste has been converted into tiny tablets that need little water to use. A clean washcloth emerges from another tiny tablet with only a few drops of water. And there’s actually tablets that you can drop onto your poop to speed up decomposition when you bury it. You can buy ANYTHING on Amazon!

So much to learn… to buy… to try out… all to figure out what is going to work for me. The fun has definitely begun. Ten days to go, PCT here I come!