Thursday, July 31, 2014

We're off!

Please donate to Feeding America if you haven't already done so.  We're so close to reaching our goal!

California, here we come!  Since we will not have internet or cell connection for most of our trip, I will post a detailed, day-by-day account of our adventures after we return.

In the meantime, I will use my Facebook page to post short notes and photos. I won't be able to do this often, however, since I will rarely have a cell signal.

To everyone who has already donated to Feeding America -- THANK YOU!

Wish us well, 'cause here we go.

--Trish, Alex, and Sage

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I Think We're Ready

First -- best of luck to the brave firefighters who are battling the blazes near Yosemite!  I hope, for the sake of those courageous men and women, the residents, and the wildlife, that the fire is contained and extinguished soon.

The girls and I are physically ready.  Our training regimen worked well (visit our main blog for the trip reports) -- we now consistently hike 2000-4000 feet of elevation gain at 2-3 mph without trying to rush.  The terrain here in the Whites is, from what I hear, much more difficult than the terrain on the John Muir Trail, so hopefully our JMT hike will feel relaxed and enjoyable.  We're used to steep and rocky trails with boulders, roots, and scrambling, so the easier (from what I hear) dirt-type path on the JMT should feel welcome.  We plan to average 10-12 miles a day on the JMT, and we're used to doing that in half a day here in the Whites, so I strongly feel we're as prepared as we're ever going to be.  I think the only two things that will feel very different, and therefore challenging, are 1) high altitude, and 2) extensive exposure to the sun.

The slow, southbound approach to Whitney will hopefully take care of the altitude...we'll gradually acclimate as we hike.  Sunscreen and hats will hopefully take care of the sun exposure.

Our resupply buckets have been mailed.  Our tent has been sealed.  Every piece of clothing and gear has been thoroughly tested.  Our housesitter is ready to move in.  Our dog-watcher is ready to keep Max. 

We very much look forward to seeing all the beauty and splendor of the JMT!  We are excited to go!

---I've gotten a few emails lately regarding pack weight for the girls.  I always keep the girls' pack weight to 10% or less of their body weight.  The girls are avid hikers, and they hike like adults, but they are growing children and I do not want to risk setting them up for back or joint problems later in life.  If this was a one-time thing, and we never hiked during the year, then maybe that would be different...but we hike every week, year-round, and it's important they carry an appropriate amount of weight for their growing frames.  I have heard a few parents brag about how many pounds their kids' backpack weighs...this isn't the right job as a parent is to protect my kids, and keeping their carrying weight to an appropriate poundage is one of the safety measures we follow when hiking.

Thanks to modern-day ultralight equipment, each girl will carry her own sleeping bag, small emergency bivy, pack cover, water, snacks, all her clothing, campshoes, headlamp, compass, bandannas, hiking towel, hat, gloves, duct tape, and water filter - and all of that, put together, comes to 9% of each kid's body weight.

That's it for now.  I'll post one more time (on this blog) before we leave, and I'll post another trip report on our main blog tomorrow evening.

You'll be able to follow us while we hike on my Facebook Page -- but I don't know how often I'll have cell/internet connection (probably not very often).

I will post a detailed, day-by-day account of our adventures after we return.

'Til later this week!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Food, Gear, and Pack Weight

We've been training up a storm, and I believe the girls are ready for the JMT.  They're used to doing 11-12 miles (roundtrip) with 3000 feet of elevation gain over rough terrain in five hours, and we're only planning on doing an average of 10 miles a day in California.  Of course, there's altitude...but we're heading north to south (low to high), so I'm hoping we'll acclimate as we go.  You can check out our training hikes, which will continue until a few days before we leave, on our main blog --

I spent today packing 5-gallon buckets with all kinds of high-calorie foods we rarely eat in real life.  During the next couple of weeks, we'll mail those resupply stashes to Tuolumne Meadows, Muir Trail Ranch, and Sequoia Kings Pack Trains (the folks who will haul up our supplies and meet us on the trail between Muir Trail Ranch and Whitney).  I had the challenge of packing food for three people that would fit into one Bearikade Expedition bear canister.  This wasn't a problem for the Tuolumne Meadows and Sequoia Kings Pack Trains buckets, but the Muir Trail Ranch resupply was tough.  I have one bear canister that is made for one person/12 days of food or 3 people/3-4 days worth of food.  I had to fit 3 people/6 days of food in there.  That's about 60,000 calories, and that's if I skimp on my own portions.  Why so many calories?  Remember, we're hiking day after day after day.  By the time we're on the last leg of our trek, "hiker hunger" will have kicked in and our bodies will need far more calories than we eat in everyday life.

I did it...well, kind of -- the girls and I will carry our first day's food outside of the canister and eat 10,000 calories between us that day.  50,000 calories will fit into that can.  It took me many attempts with all different kinds of food, but I finally did it -- 50,000 calories in a Bearikade Expedition.  Those calories are made up of Nutella, peanut butter, flat tortilla shells, flavored almonds (butter toffee flavored almonds are especially calorie-dense), cashew/chocolate trail mix, M&Ms, sunflower seeds, Snickers, and Met/RX bars.  It's a tight fit, but careful repackaging pulled it off.  Some things will be loose in the can, and a few things are smushed, but the calories are there, and my kids don't mind eating smushed food for a few days.  My poor Gossamer Gear Gorilla backpack is going to carry more than the recommended weight limit when we leave Muir Trail Ranch, but I'm packing some lightweight straps to help support the pack's seams.  I'll also have repair tape with me.

We're counting on Dee Berner's Sequoia Kings Pack Train to meet us on the trail at a designated place and resupply us a few days before we reach Whitney.  They'll take our trash and give us our resupply, which is filled with enough calories to take us to Whitney and then some.  I'll recoup some of my skimped-on calories when that resupply arrives.

Gear -- as I mentioned before, I'll post a full gear list with a review when we return.  I'd rather do it that way than list it all now and then review it when we get back.  Basically, we're doing ultralight everything.  Gossamer Gear backpacks, as already mentioned, Z-Packs tent, ultralight sleeping bags, ultralight foam mats, the bare necessities when it comes to clothes (though we will, as always, carry rainwear and fleece), no stove, etc.

Pack weight -- Most of the time, my pack weight will be 27-33 pounds, including food and water.  The girls' packs will usually be 8 or 9 pounds, including some food and water.  Since the girls hike weekly, year-round, I've never wanted them to be burdened down with packs that might affect their bone growth or joints.  Therefore, I keep their pack weights to 10% or less of their body weight.  I'll carry about 20% of my body weight, except when we're hiking out of Muir Trail Ranch with 6 days worth of food.  Then, I'll be carrying 42 pounds total...Gossamer Gear does NOT recommend this for the Gorilla pack, by the way.  I'm going to have to cross my fingers, use my extra straps, and hope the pack holds up for a couple of days until we can eat our way down to the pack's recommended maximum carrying capacity.

That's it for now.  Tomorrow, Sage and I will mail a resupply bucket to Tuolumne Meadow Post Office.  Very cool.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Training training training training!

We're hiking away in New Hampshire, getting ready for our JMT adventure!

Follow the training hikes on