Friday, March 13, 2015

Packed and Ready

After a small gathering of close friends, I went to work packing my Honda civic to the gills with almost all of my possessions and three remaining bikes on the roof rack.  Pam supplied incredible blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes and after breakfast helped load up the car with Rachel and I.  Around one pm I was finally ready to go so we said our goodbyes and I shoved off to my grandmothers house in Connecticut. You'd think I would be better at them by now but goodbye still feels kind of hollow. I spent the rest of the weekend with Grandma, weathering a new 6 inches of fresh snow. The piles in Connecticut paled in comparison to the confounding heaps in Boston, piled to the point of urban avalanches and tunneled out by cabin fevered hipsters.

The snow chases me to Connecticut
That snow Sunday night that delayed my Aunt and Uncle from visiting, which was a shame since they're definitely the most excited for my trip and the most adventurous in my family. We settled on brunch with Laura the following morning made from eggs anonymously donated by some of their 18 chickens and rescheduled dinner for the following week when I returned to Boston to get the fifteen or so stitches removed from my mouth.

That reminds me, three weeks before I quit I went in for a tooth cleaning.  My gums have always been receding thanks to an over enthusiastic childhood brushing habit but finally reached the point where I was risking the loss of three of my teeth if drastic action wasn't taken.  I scrambled to find a periodontist that could see me and perform the gum graft to slice and stitch gum over my exposed tooth dentin in the next three weeks.  Fortunately I found a good one and was able to get them stitched several hours before I gave a slideshow for the AMC on my Pacific Crest Trail hike.  The Novocain wore off about half an hour before I had to actually speak.

The actual surgery was a relatively painless but grim affair.  They numbed me up just enough so I would be able to give my presentation that evening but not feel much of the actual cutting and dicing.  Still, I watched the needle and thread make endless passes between my gums while an assistant vacuumed a mix of blood and spit from my mouth.  It took about two hours and I often closed my eyes, recalled hiking up Forester Pass, waking up to humming birds and falling asleep to coyotes. 

Back to two weeks ago, my time at Grandma's was nice although I can only turn down offers for muffins so many times.  I had a great lunch and REI trip with my Aunt Suzanne, she took us to this incredible Peruvian (?) restaurant where I had the best hot chocolate of my life! They bought me this awesome leatherman micra knife that I couldn't justify buying again and a sweet sleeping shirt with a hood. Thanks Sue and Grandma!

Monday morning I made my escape and finished the drive to my folks' house in Maryland.  There I unloaded the car and three bikes and began to take stock of the piles of food and gear I ordered and shipped to my parents house over the last six months - just in time for another snow storm!

Shoes, food and random stuff waiting for me.

I originally planned 18 locations to send food and other supplies to myself by mail to but trimmed that down to 16 or about 65 days of food.  I had a ton of awesome home dehydrated food sent to me by my friend Pat Grim and a bunch of extra store bought meals from my cousin Stephen in addition to another case and couple of large tins of Mountain House bought at huge discounts around thanksgiving.  I got a case of unfrosted poptarts online alone with a case of soba noodles and coconut milk powder.  That left a lot of lunches, snacks, breakfasts and dinners to get.  A trip to Costco, two trips to Trader Joe's and I had my food.

Next up was repackaging, separating and organizing the food into the boxes.  One trip to the post office quickly followed by a second when I realized I should have gotten some large flat rate boxes instead of all mediums.  

For this trip I'll be using an alcohol burning stove that can burn Esbit/solid fuel on the lid of the stove.  The esbit takes longer to boil water but only weighs half an ounce per 16 ounce boil and gives another 3 or 4 minutes of boiling time.  It also makes shipping easier since I don't need a container for the alcohol for each box.  I'll be bringing a cleaned out screw top sorbet container to cold soak ramen and couscous for lunch or if it's too hot to cook for dinner.
AZT and GET boxes
CDT boxes
I also had to sort, separate and add all the maps and guides to the boxes.  Yogi and Worldwide were awesome enough to send me a free set of Ley maps for the CDT.  I contributed to the 2015 PCT guide but they're generally just really great people if you talk with them on a personal level and ignore all of the PCT facebook drama.  Worldwide also helped me with the Tapon Teton Route by providing suggestions on where to go in Yellowstone. The Ley maps are ordered North to South which made sorting them into South to North heading boxes kind of a brain twister. 

The whole process took me about three solid days.  I honestly don't know how people do this for an entire trail, what a pain in the ass! I'm sure I will appreciate all this when I roll into a town, dump the contents of the box into my food bag and roll out but it took a lot of time and effort.  This was on top of the other life pause button tasks like cancelling car insurance, signing up for MassHealth and doing my taxes!

All of this time I still wanted to spend some time with my folks since I won't see them for 6 months.  My Dad and I spent the day in D.C. visiting the National Museum of the American Indian.  It's a pretty amazing museum - you really can't appreciate the incredible number of first nations all with unique culture, art and music without a visit.

Sunday my folks wanted to see the flower show in Philadelphia and I wanted to get some slushy mountain biking in with my friend Cat.  We could barely stay on our bikes for the first hour or two, except on hills where the soft snow didn't give enough grip to pedal up.  By the time we turned around the snow had softened even more and riding was impossible.  It was still a good time and I got a brief visit a few more friends before my time crunched parents took me back.

Monday I spent finishing off the boxes and dehydrating some pasta sauce.  Tuesday was the start of my return to Boston and the 4.5 hour drive up to Connecticut for a second visit with Grandma and excellent dinner with aunt Laura and uncle John.  It's actually been great seeing my aunts and uncles and grandma outside the usual chaos of the holidays where everyone is bunched together. Normally it's one or two big conversations and you don't get to focus on a few people for long or it's too distracting to focus.

Wednesday meant another 3 hour drive to Boston to pick up the last of my possessions from my old apartment, one last walk around still frozen Jamaica Pond and the drive up to Rachel's parents' house for her going away party.  I noticed the snow is now about 2 feet lower than its peak just below the 5 foot tall fence in my old backyard before finally meeting her parents prior to kidnapping their daughter for at least a month and got to meet some of her friends!  Her Dad actually reminds me of my Dad, I think they would make great nerdy Dad-friends if they ever met.  Sadly her paternal grandfather died the previous week and the funeral was this (Friday) morning.  Her folks left early to beat traffic while Rachel and I slept in to make my 12:00 dentist appointment to get all the thread in my gums removed which took all of 5 minutes.  We then made the 8+ hour drive down to Maryland again with a quick stop at Grandma's for tea and snacks.

I dropped Rachel off at her grandfathers funeral this morning; it didn't seem appropriate for me to go since I just met her parents, didn't know her grandfather and was basically kidnapping their daughter. I've spent the day unpacking the last of my stuff, cutting up the AZT guidebook and arranging gear (along with writing this insanely long post).

Anywho, the plan is to fly to Tucson on Monday, get picked up by a fellow PCT hiker friend and dropped off at the trail around 2 or 3 pm.  Hopefully that leaves enough time to hike a mile to the border monument plus another six miles to the first campsite. The first day starts at over 6,000 feet and rises to just over 9,000 feet - after dropping down to 5,000 feet to the border!  We're taking it slow though and budgeting 5 days for the first 52 miles.  If we time it right, we'll hit our second town stop in time to catch an AZTA event at Colossal Cave!

I want to keep trail phone use to a minimum so I'm not willing to type out blog entries from the trail with a little keyboard like a lot of other hikers. That means I don't really have a good way of posting photo's and long updates without a real computer, but hopefully I can do some quick updates from my phone between library stops.  This time I'm keeping a little paper journal so I'll take notes on that to make the library updates more coherent.  I also have an SD card that can emit a wifi signal to upload photos to my phone.  From there I can upload to facebook or my google drive so look for those as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment