jupiterhikes

Life of the Wanderlust

Pacific Crest Trail Yoyo 2018 – Introduction

I want to do something big. So I guess I will.

Welcome to the Pacific Crest Trail, in itself shorter than my 2016 Eastern Continental Trail hike, but if you do it twice! It’s quite long then, huh?

So I guess I will.

In reality, welcome to my 2018 Pacific Crest Trail Yoyo. Named such because the motion of the hike mimics the toy. First up, then back down again, or two continuous thru hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail back to back. Starting at the Mexico border, traveling up through California, Oregon, and Washington to Canada, then back the same way I came finishing my long walk just outside of Mexico again where I started 6 months prior. A total of 5,300 miles for the round trip.

Now the length in itself is somewhat daunting, but it’s not like I’m unfamiliar with mega long distance hiking as the ECT was 4,800 miles, and I completed that in just under 7 months. Feeling stronger than ever as I hit the half way mark, and topping it all off with a self supported speed record on the Florida Trail to complete my journey. This trail however has much harsher conditions. I start in the desert come May with extreme heat, exposure, and less than promising water sources. Thrown upward into the high country of the Sierra with the threat of many miles of snow travel, elevations reaching nearly 14,000 feet, treacherous stream crossings, and long distances between safety or being able to get more food. Swarms of mosquitoes will welcome me into Oregon, and Washington brings its own extreme elevation gain. All to turn around and do it again! Which should be it’s own fun mental experiment seeing the same things twice. I know of at least one person who quit this endeavor just after halfway for that reason.

This is all fine and dandy, I think there are much harder trails out there, and it is all perspective, but to complete this specific goal I have to go fast! Really fast. I’ll need to average 30 miles a day for 6 months straight, racing the unpredictable seasons. Should I fail this I’ll get snowed out on my way south in the Sierras, and either seriously risk my life or call it a day. This is without a doubt the hardest aspect of the journey. Hiking so hard to beat this fluctuating unknown date in October when the first big snow storm hits, coming more than 4,000 miles, and having to quit. However If I get through I’ve basically done it, and the final 700 miles will be somewhat of a victory march.

Though I’m mostly focusing on the difficulties in this post it’s because not everyone is familiar these trails. So long as you come prepared I think some of these conditions are overstated, but they are there. I don’t think just anyone could simply get up off the couch and successfully complete this hike once, let alone twice, as I’m attempting. As the trail goes it’s actually known as having much easier tread than its weird east coast cousin, the Appalachian Trail, which throws you around in every which way via rocks and roots in truly sadistic ways seemingly never evening out, only going straight up a mountain or straight down a mountain. The Pacific Crest Trail was made for pack animals, so it’s extremely evenly graded, and clean. In other words, if the conditions surrounding the trail don’t get me, miles should come easier, and I’m very excited for that.

DSC_0100-02.jpeg

PCT yoyo watercolor depiction

I left you all in 2016, with my last public writings here about the 4,800 mile Eastern Continental Trail, and that faithful walk across America. From one point far away up in Canada, 7 months later finding myself in the deep south, Key West Florida. I knew it, I had been working towards it, maybe you saw it too. That was less so much a “trip of a life time” for me.It was more of a beginning. So here I am, less so much beginning again, and more so continuing what I started.

So why am I so driven to continue my journey along this particular trail?

While hiking over the mountains in Quebec, and again in New Hampshire I was left above the trees for many miles at a time, through storms, clouds, wind, rain, and sun. I was exposed, often given the opportunity to see forever. I was filled with glee, feeling as though I truly was on top of the world. But the Appalachians are best known for its dense forest, and relatively small mountains as opposed to the majestic, endless views that define the West. Thus these two points in time were the rare chances I had to experience that euphoria, bar a couple sections far south in Tennessee. I knew this, and though I loved all the rest, that was feeling above all the trees was where my heart suddenly felt strongest. I laughed at myself, resigned to hike this massively long trail that only shared a few key moments with that alpine environment. I joked while skipping on rocks above the trees that last time, maybe I should have just done the Pacific Crest Trail instead. Known for its sweeping views, exposure, and exceedingly tall elevations. No, this was what I needed, and this was ultimately what I had dreamt about for years prior, meticulously planning each step forward. It was right. It was a good beginning. If you could say that about a 7 month hike which nearly reaches 5,000 miles in length. A good beginning.

So here I am. The West calls, it did then, as it does now. Engraved in the human spirit maybe.

IMG_20170813_134346_065

Northern California on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Trinity Alps looming in the distance 2017

On this hike I’m following some self imposed guidelines.

  • I will avoid any sort of support from vehicles. This means no hitch hiking, or rides to and from town. I will walk the entire distance, and walk in and out of any town I choose to stop in, or pick up food.
  • I will carry all of my own food, water, and gear between towns as a backpacker. Or in other words I won’t partake in what is somewhat commonly known as ‘slack-packing’ where someone shuttles your gear ahead a days length away for you so you can do the same distance without the burden of your provisions.
  • Should there likely be a closure for fire, or otherwise I will walk any official detour around back to trail, connecting footsteps. Again, not accepting rides.

The point of all these rules is to stack the deck against myself. Each and every time you set your sights on a new objective, it’s about giving yourself an obstacle. Instead of seeing it as 500 laps of punishment for losing I see it as the path to beating the odds next time. By leaping that hurdle it’ll be that much easier to achieve my next goal. This is, as I like to say, self imposed suffering. If I should deviate from these rules in some way I’ll be honest about doing so, as I think it goes towards my own purity in this endeavor.

Only 3 people before have done a yoyo of the PCT. Most notably Scott Williamson, the only person to do it twice. To say he’s well known out west is an understatement, having hiked the trail 13 times as of 2011. Then there’s Eric D, who has done it fastest in 183 days. And Olive McGloin most recently, becoming the first woman to do this.

I’ll be aiming to beat Eric’s time this year with a goal of less than 180 days, and become the fastest to ever do it.

Interestingly enough all 3 hikers have started, hit the half way point, and finished at very roughly the same dates give or take a week. I think this is a testament to the extremely tight time frame to which one must adhere. This is also why being the fastest is so appealing. If I am to complete a PCT yo-yo, I might as well be the fastest. If you followed my ECT hike, you know I do love those long lonely days, and I never was much for being normal.

I start walking May 10, with an ambitious goal I’m eager to take on. And let’s be real, there’s much more ambitious journeys out there, but this is another good step in that direction.

IMG_20170814_180343_880

John Zahorian and Castle Crags on the Pacific Crest Trail 2017

You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.

Jupiter

9 Comments

  1. Gail (Safari) FTA Lox

    May 3, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Hi James, I am so excited about your Yoyo of the PCT. If anyone can do it, you can, love your attitude, remember…I am cheering you on! Waa-hoo!!! And when you’re on those mountain tops surveying the vastness of it all, you may be feeling so euphoric… because you are close to God, alone with His creation. Nothing could be better!
    A 2015 FT thru hiker, George Mudge (trail name 5:30) whom I hiked with also is starting the PCT, he left New Orleans last week in April to head out. Hope you bump into him, he’s about 5’6″, nice looking, trimmed white goatee/beard. I’ll look forward to your posts.
    Gail Baldwin (Safari)
    FTA Loxahatchee

  2. So excited to follow your journey. All good things to you! You’re truly an inspiration (even though I’m sure that’s not your objective)
    Thanks for sharing!!
    Sindy

  3. Hi Jupiter hikes, I will be watching for your post,,

    I met you on a road in NB. Canada lasted year, I will not be there to give a Ice tea this time. ….

    Richard

    • jupiterhikes

      May 4, 2018 at 1:14 am

      Haha! I’ll always remember that and appreciate your kindness!! I was so darn thirsty that day! Long walk without much water, it was a real blessing for you to show up. Hope you run into more nice people out there! Just outside of the very famous little big town of Nictau…

  4. Happy Trails. Looking forward to reading about your journey

  5. Mike Guthrie

    May 4, 2018 at 4:12 am

    What an exciting goal! I’d wish you good luck but with that focus you’ll deal with all the bad luck that comes with the good.

  6. Carlos Ballantyne

    May 7, 2018 at 12:06 am

    Carlos’s wicked good carob energy muffins

    simmer 16 minutes until soft;
    ½ cup shredded or thin sliced [white] sweet potato
    ¼ cup date pieces [12 pitted dates]
    1 ½ cup water
    when a little cool put in blender or food processor
    then;
    add 1 ripe banana
    ¼+ cup roasted carob powder
    1 tablespoon cinnamon
    ½ teaspoon cardamom
    blend or process until just smooth

    slowly add while blending;
    1/3 cup Teff flour

    until you get a thick batter. Adjust with more flour or water
    pour/spoon/spatula into muffin cups
    bake in pre-heated oven 25+ minutes @ 25 degrees
    let cool then package individually in bags in ‘fridge

    I limit myself to one a day. Makes excellent trail food.

  7. very exciting. Here’s to your success!!

Leave a Reply

© 2018 jupiterhikes

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: